Triple Crown News & Notes
Divining Rod to work Saturday for Preakness
"They were the first ones to say that if we didn't think that the horse was really going to be at his best that they would rather wait another two weeks. I was completely fine with that."
Delacour watched favored American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) catch and pass Firing Line (Line of David) and Dortmund (Big Brown) to win the Derby by one length on Saturday. Divining Rod will be one of the so-called "new shooters" in the Preakness taking on Derby grads -- led by the top three finishers -- coming to Baltimore. American Pharoah prevailed in what was easily the most demanding test of his career.
"It's a tough bunch of horses," Delacour said. "Going into the Derby everyone was talking about how good of a crop it was. I still feel the same way. The only thing is: I think everybody ran pretty hard, so you never know how they are going to come back in two weeks. We'll see, but they are definitely tough horses to take on."
Meanwhile, Delacour feels that Divining Rod has flourished since returning to his home at Fair Hill.
"I think he came back well," Delacour said. "We gave him two easy weeks where we trained him lightly and let him get his level of energy back. That worked out great. He's had two breezes since -- one easy breeze and last week was a more significant breeze. I was pleased with both, really.
"I think he's really fit now and is ready to go. We just need to keep him doing well all the way to the Preakness."
In other Preakness news:
American Pharoah and Dortmund walked the shedrow Wednesday morning in Barn 33 at Churchill Downs. The Bob Baffert-trained Preakness candidates are scheduled to jog in the morning, said Jimmy Barnes, who is overseeing things for Baffert until the trainer returns to Louisville Sunday night.
Firing Line returned to the Churchill Downs track Wednesday morning for the first time since finishing a game second behind American Pharoah in the Derby. He jogged a mile alongside a pony shortly after 7 a.m. (EDT).
"He probably will jog again in the morning," said Carlos Santamaria, assistant to trainer Simon Callaghan, who is back at his home base at Santa Anita.
Also returning to the track at Churchill Downs for the first time since the Derby were Danzig Moon (Malibu Moon) and Mr. Z. (Malibu Moon).
Danzig Moon galloped a mile before the morning renovation break with exercise rider William Cano up. Norman Casse, assistant to his father, trainer Mark Casse, said the Preakness remains a possibility for the fifth-place Derby finisher, "but we need to see how he trains."
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said no decision had been made on the Preakness status of Mr. Z, who finished 13th in the Derby. Mr. Z jogged a mile early Wednesday morning under exercise rider Edvin Vargas.
Pletcher pondering Preakness options
Pletcher saddled three horses for last Saturday's Derby, in which Materiality finished a troubled sixth, Itsaknockout checked in ninth, and Carpe Diem came in 10th. The six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer visited the Churchill Downs winner's circle Saturday following undefeated Competitive Edge's 4 1/2-length triumph in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Derby undercard.
Materiality, the Florida Derby (G1) winner who was undefeated in three starts, got off to a slow start and dropped back to 17th with a quarter-mile to go before kicking in through the stretch.
"I was very pleased with the way he finished. I was obviously disappointed with the start of the race. It kind of left him in a position where he had too much to do turning for home. I thought he ran very well," Pletcher said. "It's kind of frustrating to think what may have been had he gotten off to a better start. But he came out of it very well. He proved his class anyway."
Carpe Diem, who won the Blue Grass (G1), got away from his inside post position in good shape but was no factor through the stretch.
"He came out of it very well. The outcome was disappointing. He put himself in perfect position. He got a perfect trip, but I never felt truly confident watching him that he was handling the surface as well as he has others. Despite that he seemed to be fighting on until the end and wasn't beaten too far," Pletcher said.
Stanford (Malibu Moon), who was scratched from the Derby field two days before the first jewel of the Triple Crown, was under consideration for Saturday's Peter Pan (G2) at Belmont but was not entered.
"We didn't feel like he was quite ready for the Peter Pan, so we're going to pass on that. We'll see how he does this week and come up with a game plan," Pletcher said.
Belmont Day attendance capped at 90,000
Paid attendance for Belmont Stakes Day, June 6, will be capped at 90,000, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) said on Wednesday.
This step is similar to the policies and practices of professional sports teams, and will not only result in an enhanced experience for Belmont guests, but will further improve access to and from the Belmont property.
Advance general admission for Saturday is still available for $15, and includes the featured post-race Belmont Stakes Day concert by the Goo Goo Dolls, who will also perform a short set between the running of the Manhattan (G1) and the Belmont (G1).
Scheduled entertainment on Belmont Stakes Day also includes musicians from the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, who will perform the National Anthem to start the day's entertainment. They will also conduct a special musical tribute to the men and women of the United States Military Academy just prior to the running of the Metropolitan H. (G1), later that afternoon. Guests will also enjoy a trackside musical performance from the Tony award-winning Broadway musical "Jersey Boys."
For the first time, NYRA will host a special Belmont Stakes Eve concert June 5. Following that day's final race, a stage will be set up near the winner's circle, where fans will enjoy a performance by platinum-selling recording artists O.A.R.
"We have built an expanded three-day festival featuring the very best in racing, hospitality and entertainment all designed to offer our guests from around the world an unparalleled experience at beautiful Belmont Park," said New York Racing Association Chief Executive Officer and President Christopher Kay. "Our new concerts on Friday and Saturday evenings and an expanded array of hospitality options complement our racing lineup, which features 17 graded stakes races and more than $10 million in purses. We encourage our fans to purchase their tickets in advance and secure their place for New York's traditional kick-off to the summer season."
For more information on the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival or to purchase admission, seating or hospitality packages, please visit belmontstakes.com, or call 1-844-NYRA-TIX.
Imagining seeks title defense in Man o' War
The Man o' War marks the season debut of Hardest Core (Hard Spun), the 11-1 upset winner of the Arlington Million (G1) last August. That 10-furlong event was his fourth win in a row and first graded stakes attempt, but the gelding showed too much speed and faltered to eighth last time in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1).
Also in the Man o' War lineup are Grade 2 winner Hyper (Victory Gallop), who has not raced since an eighth-place finish to Imagining in the 2013 Red Smith H. (G3); last year's Red Smith winner Dynamic Sky (Sky Mesa), most recently second by a neck in the Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland; and multiple graded stakes winner War Dancer (War Front), third in an off-the-turf allowance at Keeneland in his debut for trainer Bill Mott.
The outsider on paper is the stakes-placed Comes the Dream (Lion Heart).
Conquest Curlinate (Curlin) enters off a tough nose defeat to the Baffert-trained Whiskey Ticket (Ghostzapper) in the Illinois Derby (G3), while Mott send out his Gotham (G3) runner-up Tiz Shea D (Tiznow), most recently fifth in the Wood Memorial (G1).
The four-year-old filly House Rules (Distorted Humor) will go for her third graded stakes win of the season in the $250,000 Ruffian (G2) over a mile. The Jimmy Jerkens trainee previously landed the Rampart (G3) and Top Flight H. (G3), with a second in the Royal Delta (G2) in between.
House Rules will not have an easy time of it. The New York-bred Princess Violet, who has won three of four over the Belmont's main track, enters off a half-length score in the Madison (G1) at Keeneland. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin also has a pair of strong contenders in Grade 3 winner Wedding Toast (Street Sense) and the undefeated Via Strata (Street Cry), who beat allowance foes by eight lengths at Keeneland last time. Both are owned by Godolphin.
J Wonder was third in a Keeneland allowance in her U.S. debut last month, while Testa Rossi was elevated to first in the Endeavour (G3) in late January prior to a fourth in the Santa Ana (G2) at Santa Anita.
Completing the contentious field are stakes winner Recepta (Speightstown), a recent allowance winner for Jimmy Toner, and Photo Call (Galileo), both of whom are Grade 3-placed.
Beholder, Warren's Veneda meet in Vanity; Bal a Bali makes U.S. bow in American
The California-bred chestnut has been freshened 56 days in advance of the Vanity and Warren's Veneda will keep Tyler Baze in the irons.
The remaining contestants - Gas Total (Sulamani), Legacy (Sightseeing) and My Sweet Addiction (Tiznow) -- are in tough.
The $100,000 American (G3), a one-mile turf affair for three-year-olds and up, marks the North American debut of Brazilian superstar Bal a Bali (Put It Back). Winner of the Triple Crown in his native Brazil, the five-year-old horse has captured 11 of 12 career starts, 10 as the odds-on favorite, and earned $510,078.
Following his last start in June, Bal a Bali was purchased by Fox Hill Farm and Siena Farm and imported to the U.S. in late summer, but he unfortunately got sick traveling and contracted laminitis. After recovering at the Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Florida, Bal a Bali was sent to Hall of Famer Mandella's barn in California.
"He's terrific, training like a billion dollars," said Mandella, who won his 2000th career race last Saturday. "A million wouldn't be enough."
Flavien Prat, who is off to a fast start at the Santa Anita spring/summer meet with six wins, picks up the mount and Bal a Bali will will break from the far outside post among eight rivals.
His main challengers include Grade 1 winner Winning Prize (Pure Prize), last-out Thunder Road victor Talco (Pivotal) and Grade 3 scorer Home Run Kitten (Kitten's Joy).
Monmouth Park kicks off 58-day meet with Decathlon
Fans arriving on Opening Day will notice many new things even before spinning through the turnstiles. Across the street, a freshly-paved parking lot will greet grandstand parkers. In the paddock, a darker wood chip will be noticeably different than in years past as will a new addition to the wagering format. Monmouth will now have a 50-cent Pick 5 on the first and last five races on the program with a 15 percent takeout. If no one selects all five winners in a sequence, a carryover to the very next Pick 5 will ensue.
Perhaps the biggest change won't come on the racetrack but on the television set as Monmouth Park upgrades to high definition. A crisp, clearer picture on Monmouth's export signal will be coupled with HD in-house as Monmouth has added hundreds of new televisions throughout the facility.
As for what to expect this summer, a new off-track wagering facility is slated to open in Hillsborough as is the recently-constructed restaurant just outside the picnic area. Exchange wagering has been approved and the fight to bring sports betting to New Jersey marches on. Atop the Grandstand, new racecaller Frank Mirahmadi will call the action and the Jersey Shore Six will move to a 20-cent base wager.
"There's been a lot of effort by a great many people to bring these projects to fruition," Drazin said. "Some have been in the works since Day One and to see them finally get implemented will be the result of years of hard work and create yet another revenue stream to the facility."
Additionally, and in an on-going effort toward conservation awareness, Monmouth will shift more business operations to paperless, beginning with the 2015 Media Guide, which is available on-line. Further, additional recycling bins have been placed throughout the facility and the backstretch to meet these goals.
"You can't work in an agricultural business without ensuring you're doing everything you can to conserve resources," Drazin said. "This is in on-going process that will be continuously evaluated to ensure we're doing more than our fair share."
The 2015 Monmouth Park racing season runs from Saturday through September 27. Gates open 11:30 a.m. (EDT) with first post slated for 12:50 p.m.
The $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) on August 2 once again is the centerpiece of the summer season. Haskell Day will be complemented by three other graded stakes: the Monmouth Cup (G2), the Matchmaker (G3) and the Oceanport (G3). Other highlights of the 58-day stand include the United Nations (G1) and Salvator Mile (G3) on July 5; Molly Pitcher (G3) on July 3; Monmouth S. (G2) on June 7; and, the Philip H. Iselin (G3) on August 30.
The feature on Saturday's 12-race card is the $75,000 Decathlon over six furlongs. Grade 3 winner Favorite Tale (Tale of the Cat), Piquant (Arch), Moments Notiz (Tiznow), A. P. Indian (Indian Charlie) and Oliver Zip (City Zip) are among the likely favorites in the field of 14.
Vincent Powers, Billy Kelly elected to Hall of Fame
Vincent Powers, a champion flat and steeplechase jockey and later a champion steeplechase trainer, and Billy Kelly, an elite racehorse during the first quarter of the 20th century, have been elected to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame by the Museum's Historic Review Committee.
Powers and Billy Kelly will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with contemporary selections Chris Antley, King Leatherbury, Lava Man and Xtra Heat. The ceremony will be held August 7 at 10:30 a.m. (EDT) at Fasig-Tipton, in Saratoga Springs, New York, and is open to the public and free to attend.
Born, June 6, 1891 in Westfield, New York, Powers was North America's champion flat jockey in 1908 (324 wins) and 1909 (173 wins), champion steeplechase rider in 1917 (15 wins) and champion steeplechase trainer in 1927 (19 wins). He won on 26 percent of his mounts in 1908 and 25 percent in 1909. He also won 107 races in 1910. Powers remains the only rider in North American history to top the national standings as both a flat and steeplechase jockey. From 1907 through 1910, Powers won 654 (22.2 percent) flat races from 2,936 mounts.
Powers became only the second rider to win 300 races in a year (Hall of Famer Walter Miller won 388 in 1906 and 334 in 1907). Although his career as a flat jockey in America was brief, Powers won several major races, including the 1909 Kentucky Derby with Wintergreen, as well as the Kentucky Oaks (1908), Latonia Oaks (1908), Great Trial S. (1909), Lawrence Realization (1909), Coney Island Jockey Club (1909), Breeders' Futurity (1910), Delaware H. (1910), Fashion S. (1910) and Saratoga Cup (1910). His most notable mount was Fitz Herbert, recognized as the top handicapper in 1909 and 1910. When American racing came to a virtual standstill in 1911, Powers went with future Hall of Fame trainer Sam Hildreth to Europe for a guaranteed salary of $10,000. He competed successfully in France and Germany before weight became a problem and necessitated his transition to steeplechase riding.
Powers returned to America in 1914 when World War I broke out in Europe and became a contract rider for Greentree Stable steeplechasers. In 1917, Powers was the top steeplechase rider in America with 15 wins from 39 mounts. His major wins as a steeplechase jockey included the Grand National (1919, 1920), Brook (1918, 1926), International (1920), Meadow Brook (1918, 1919, 1920, 1922), North American (1920, 1922), Saratoga Steeplechase (1916) and the Shillelah (1917).
In 1921, Powers took over as Greentree's steeplechase trainer. He had considerable success as a conditioner, winning the Grand National in 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1937; the Saratoga Steeplechase in 1926, 1935 and 1937; and the Temple Gwathmey in 1936 and 1937, among others. As a trainer, Powers was best known for conditioning Hall of Famer Jolly Roger, the first steeplechaser to earn $100,000. Jolly Roger won back-to-back editions of the Grand National in 1927 and 1928, as well as the Appleton Memorial, Corinthian (twice), Bayside, Brook and North American steeplechases. Powers was America's leading steeplechase trainer in 1927 when he saddled 19 winners and had purse earnings of $103,889, setting a record for a steeplechase conditioner. Powers trained until 1946 and died October 19, 1966.
A bay gelding by Dick Welles out of the Free Knight mare Glena, Billy Kelly was purchased during his two-year-old season in 1918 for $25,000 by J.K.L. Ross and trained for the majority of his career by H. Guy Bedwell. With a record of 39-14-7 from 69 career starts (including 19 stakes wins) and lifetime earnings of $99,782, Billy Kelly was widely considered the greatest sprinter of his era and was able to stretch out his speed and win at distances up to 1 1/4 miles.
A multiple stakes winner from ages two through five, Billy Kelly was a stablemate of Hall of Famer Sir Barton, the first Triple Crown winner. Billy Kelly raced against Sir Barton 12 times, winning outright or finishing ahead of him eight times. As a two-year-old, Billy Kelly compiled a record of 14-2-0 from 17 starts and earnings of $33,783. His stakes wins included the Idle Hour, Bashford Manor, Flash (setting a stakes record), United States Hotel and Sanford Memorial (by eight lengths), as well as the Grab Bag (carrying 135 pounds), Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Columbia handicaps.
After beginning his three-year-old season in 1919 with wins in the Hartford and Philadelphia handicaps, Billy Kelly finished second to Sir Barton in the Kentucky Derby. Billy Kelly also won the Toboggan and Capital handicaps that year and several allowance races to finish with a record of 9-6-2 from 19 starts and earnings of $26,563. At age four in 1920, Billy Kelly defeated Hall of Famer Old Rosebud in the Hartford H. and defeated Sir Barton twice (and finished ahead of him two other times). His record at age four was 6-4-2 with earnings of $16,048 from 12 starts.
Billy Kelly began his five-year-old campaign with six straight wins, including his third consecutive Hartford H. He carried 130 pounds or more four times during the stretch, including 135 in his Connaught H. win at Montreal's Blue Bonnets. Billy Kelly owned a mark of 9-0-2 and earnings of $20,488 from 17 starts for his 1920 season. Billy Kelly had injury issues in 1921 and competed only once, finishing second to Hall of Famer Exterminator while attempting to win a fourth consecutive Hartford H. He won once in three starts in 1923 as a seven-year-old.
The Hall of Fame's Historic Review Committee is comprised of chairman Michael Veitch and racing historians Ed Bowen, Al Carter, Jay Hovdey, Ken Grayson, Gary West, John von Stade, Jane Goldstein, Bill Mooney, Bill Nack, Steve Haskin, and Mary Simon. From an initial candidate pool featuring nominations by those in the racing industry, historians and members of the public, the Historic Review Committee selects a maximum of three finalists to be considered for election to the Hall of Fame. The candidates that become finalists are required to receive 75 percent approval from the Historic Review Committee to gain election to the Hall of Fame.
O'Brien looking for another Chester Vase win
Ballydoyle have already stamped their considerable presence on Chester's May meeting and Thursday's Chester Vase (Eng-G3) has been a happy hunting ground of late, with Aidan O'Brien capturing five of the last eight renewals. With the chief candidate Giovanni Canaletto (Galileo) ruled out of the equation earlier this week, it is up to Hans Holbein (Montjeu) to fly the flag and he is a typical improver based on his latest maiden win over 10 furlongs at Leopardstown April 15.
Godolphin rely on Future Empire (New Approach), who tackles this trip for the first time having finished runner-up to Christophermarlowe (Tapit) in the 10-furlong Epsom Derby Trial April 22.
"Future Empire stayed on well at Epsom Downs and has been working nicely since then," trainer Saeed bin Suroor commented. "He is ready for the step up to a mile and a half and I am hopeful that he can run a good race."
William Haggas has opted to send Storm the Stars (Sea the Stars) back into action just 12 days after his authoritative 10-furlong Leicester maiden success and that is significant.
"He won with a bit in hand at Leicester and this mile and a half will suit him," Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum's racing manager Bruce Raymond told PA Sport. "We were disappointed with his first run of the season at Newmarket, but William made the horse's mind up for him by making the running at Leicester and it worked out great."
Chester's May meeting is one of the smallest of the British flat festivals, but its main races are still coveted by the leading trainers and the Huxley S. (Eng-G3) has been a favorite of Sir Michael Stoute who holds the current record of five wins. Thursday, the master of Freemason Lodge relies on Cannock Chase (Lemon Drop Kid), who was an encouraging third in Sandown's Gordon Richards S. (Eng-G3) April 24 on his first start since winning the Tercentenary S. (Eng-G3) at Royal Ascot last June.
"We were delighted with him at Sandown on ground that was probably a bit soft for him," Raymond told PA Sport. "The ground might be soft again at Chester and I don't think Sir Michael would run him if it got too bad.
"He needed the run at Sandown in preparation for the rest of the season, so the ground maybe took the edge off him, fitness-wise. The ground should not be as big an issue now he's a fitter horse. I'd be surprised if he didn't turn out to be a very decent horse this summer."
Windhoek (Cape Cross) beat the subsequent Rose of Lancaster S. (Eng-G3) winner Amralah (Teofilo) in the Gala S. at Sandown July 4 and took the Anatolia Trophy on Veliefendi's Polytrack in September either side of a third placing in the York S. (Eng-G2) over an extended 10-furlong trip in late July.
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said, "Windhoek won well on his latest start in Turkey and we gave him a break after that run. He has been working well and I have been happy with his preparation. He's ready to go and I am looking forward to seeing him get his season started."
Any further rain will aid the cause of Air Pilot (Zamindar), who signed off with a win in the James Seymour S. at Newmarket at the start of November.
"It's a perfect race to start off," trainer Ralph Beckett told PA Sport. "He's in good shape and his work this spring has been fine. The rain that has fallen will suit him, as he's better when there's juice in the ground."
Belardo taken out of French 2000 Guineas consideration
Roger Varian's Dewhurst S. (Eng-G1) winner Belardo (Lope De Vega) was among 10 colts taken out of Sunday's French Two Thousand Guineas (Fr-G1) at the latest forfeit stage.
Well beaten on his return to action in the Greenham (Eng-G3) at Newbury, connections have decided to wait for the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-G1) at The Curragh May 23 instead. Godolphin bought a share in Belardo after his Dewhurst win.
"There are likely to be around 20 runners on the round course at Longchamp and that can be a bit of a scrum, so we opted for the Irish Guineas instead," Varian reported on www.godolphin.com. "The horse is very well and in great form."
Added, John Ferguson, bloodstock advisor to Sheikh Mohammed, "We are really excited by this Group 1 winner, he showed his class in the Dewhurst and The Curragh's galloping track should suit him."
After the defections 19 entries remain, with the possibility the maximum field of 20 could still be reached with a supplementary stage Thursday, with Prix Fontainebleau (Fr-G3) runner-up Karar (Invincible Spirit) expected to be entered.
Aidan O'Brien has left in four, including Vintage S. (Eng-G2) winner Highland Reel (Galileo). Charlie Hills will be hoping the ground dries up for Greenham winner Muhaarar (Oasis Dream), with Flaming Spear (Lope De Vega) left in by Kevin Ryan. Richard Hannon's Smaih (Paco Boy) and Saeed bin Surror's Maftool (Hard Spun) are other possible British-trained challengers.
Andre Fabre could run Make Believe (Makfi) and New Bay (Dubawi) with El Suizo (Meshaheer) and Cornwallville (Makfi) also engaged.
Just stakes winner Irish Rookie (Azamour) and Royal Rizalma (Lope de Vega) remain as British-trained possible runners in Sunday's French One Thousand Guineas (Fr-G1). Seven fillies were taken out at the latest forfeit stage, including New Providence (Bahamian Bounty), leaving 14 left in.
Martyn Meade, Irish Rookie's trainer, said, "We've left her in and the thinking at this stage is that we'll go. A few came out today and let's hope a few more do, too! Obviously the draw will have a big say, so the less runners there are the better. There are a few other things to fall into place before she's a definite runner, but at this stage the intention is to run."
The home team is led by Ervedya (Siyouni), owned by the Aga Khan and trained by Jean-Claude Rouget. Queen Bee (Le Havre) is another to have shown group-race form with Criquette Head-Maarek's Fontanelice (Vale of York) also engaged.
Andre Fabre will send out Mexican Gold (Medaglia d'Oro) and Soft Drink (Lemon Drop Kid). Prix Miesque (Fr-G3) heroine Ameenah (American Post) is another major player.
Unspurned (Lemon Drop Kid) and Skylander Girl (Stroll), the top two in the April 18 Whimsical (G3), head a field of six fillies and mares in Saturday's $150,000 Hendrie (G3) at Woodbine. Unspurned snapped a three-race streak of runner-up finishes last time and Alan Garcia will be back aboard the Roger Attfield-trained filly. Skylander Girl placed in the grassy Marshua's River at Gulfstream Park earlier this season and brings good speed to this spot for trainer Alexander Patykewich. Emile Ramsammy will regain the mount. The 6 1/2-furlong Polytrack event marks the 2015 debut for Grade 3 winner Paladin Bay (Sligo Bay). Disco Barbie (Pure Prize) is a two-time graded runner-up at Woodbine...
Katie's Eyes (Leroidesanimaux), a 2 1/2-length upset winner of the April 11 Giant's Causeway at Keeneland, will seek her fourth consecutive victory in a turf sprint when she lines up for Saturday's $65,000 Unbridled Sidney at Churchill Downs. Florent Geroux retains the mount on the Michael Stidham-trained filly. Ten distaffers are entered for the five-furlong turf affair and Free as a Bird (Hard Spun) will be seeking a measure of revenge after having six-race win skein snapped in the Giant's Causeway, finishing fourth as the 3-2 favorite. Chris Landeros picks up the assignment for Ian Wilkes. Other contenders include Shrinking Violet (Congaree), who was last seen winning the January 4 Monrovia (G2) at Santa Anita, and three-time stakes queen Richies Party Girl (Any Given Saturday)...
Keeneland announced Wednesday that it will move its year-round simulcast wagering operations to The Red Mile, the historic Standardbred track in Lexington, Kentucky, beginning July 15. Keeneland and The Red Mile will offer wagering on Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarter Horse racing at one Lexington location. The two tracks are investing nearly $2 million to significantly upgrade the Grandstand area of The Red Mile for simulcast patrons. "Our goal is to create a destination experience which will positively impact the entire horse industry as well as the local economy," Keeneland Vice President and COO Vince Gabbert said. "We believe that by consolidating our simulcast operations in a premier location we will enhance fan interest in live racing." Simulcast wagering will continue to be offered at Keeneland during the track's Spring and Fall race meets and annual Thoroughbred auctions (in limited areas), and for special-event days such as the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1). Keeneland hosted more than 21,000 fans for the 2015 Kentucky Derby on May 2. Keeneland and The Red Mile partnered last year on a historical racing initiative with revenue to benefit both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries. A total of 1,000 historical racing machines will be housed exclusively in a new facility at The Red Mile scheduled to open in September...
The $350,000 Los Alamitos Derby (G2), to be run on July 4 over 1 1/8 miles, will highlight the upcoming 2015 Los Alamitos Summer Thoroughbred meeting set to open on July 2. The Los Alamitos Derby is one of two Grade 2 races set to be contested during the eight-day meet. Joining the Los Alamitos Derby on that list of graded stakes will be the $200,000 Great Lady M (G2) for fillies and mares at six furlongs on July 11. In addition to the eight-day summer meet, Los Alamitos will host the Los Angeles County Fair meeting in September and a three-week winter meeting in December. "We are very excited about our Thoroughbred season getting underway in July," said track owner Edward C. Allred. "These Thoroughbred meets bring a great deal of excitement to Los Alamitos and I was very pleased with the quality of racing we offered last year. We had every top rider and trainer in California racing with us and we were very gratified with the universal praise our new expanded track received from horsemen. I have made a major commitment to Thoroughbred racing here at Los Alamitos and we are working to build on our 2014 meets." While the purse of the Los Alamitos Derby was reduced from $500,000 based on projected handle, overnight purses are expected to rise and include $50,000 open maiden races for two-year-olds. The meet runs from July 2-12 on a Thursday through Sunday schedule. First post every day will be 2 p.m. (PDT)...
After a successful weekend during which the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks attracted record combined attendance of 294,276 to Churchill Downs, the track resumes its 38-day Spring Meet on Thursday with the first of its new Twilight Thursday programs. Twilight Thursdays are scheduled each week of the Spring Meet that continues through June 27. Post time for the first of eight races on each Thursday programs is 5 p.m. (EDT), and each Twilight Thursday will offer live music, popular food trucks and $1 draft beer specials in the Plaza from 5-7 p.m. The first Twilight Thursday of the Spring Meet will feature the music of Maiden Radio from 5-8 p.m. on the Plaza Stage. The carryover pool for Churchill Downs' new Lucky 7 Jackpot wager climbed to $55,290 on Kentucky Derby Day and the 10-cent minimum wager with a 15 percent takeout begins with Thursday's second race at 5:30 p.m. The Lucky 7 Jackpot requires bettors to select seven consecutive winners and the entire pool is paid-out only if there is a single winning combination. Otherwise, 70 percent of that day's Lucky 7 wagering is returned to bettors with the most winners and the remaining 30 percent goes into the carryover pool. There has been no single winner in the Lucky 7 during the first six days of the Spring Meet...
Second to Spiritjim (Galileo) in the Prix d'Hedouville (Fr-G3) at Longchamp 12 months ago, Meleagros (King's Best) returned to go one better in Wednesday's renewal and register a first pattern-race success and reward the patience of his trainer Alain Couetil. Following his effort here last term, the bay had gone on to be fifth in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Fr-G1) in June -- a year on from filling fourth spot behind Novellist in the same race. Winning the Grand Prix de Nantes in October and March 28 Prix de la Porte de Madrid at Saint-Cloud on his last two outings, he earned the reward for his consistency with a career-best performance on ground he relishes. Settled with two behind early, Meleagros made ground easily on the outer leaving the back straight and rolled by Cocktail Queen (Motivator) before the quarter pole and into the clear. Last year's Prix du Conseil de Paris (Fr-G2) winner Manatee (Monsun) made late progress, looking in need of the outing...
Roger Varian reports Shadwell homebred and Summer Mile (Eng-G2) hero Aljamaaheer (Dubawi) to be on course for a shot at the Lockinge S. (Eng-G1) at Newbury May 16. Although the six-year old has been given an entry in the Spring Trophy S. at Haydock Saturday, the Newmarket handler still has the Group 1 mile contest as his primary target. Despite tasting defeat on his seasonal return when finishing a close second to Coulsty (Kodiac) at Leicester, Varian is pleased with the son of Dubawi's progress. "We put Aljamaaheer in at Haydock on Saturday, but the Lockinge is the agenda," Varian said. "He is really well and was very unlucky on his return where he was certainly the moral winner. He will come on for that. Having finished third in the race two seasons ago, we thought we would like to have another go at it. He likes fast ground so we hope it remains on the quick side." Varian has hinted he could step fellow Shadwell homebred Intilaaq (Dynaformer) up to10 furlongs on his next outing after finishing down the field in the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1) May 2. After routing his rivals in a maiden at Newbury last month, the three-year old failed to make any impact in the mile colts' classic, finishing 15th behind winner Gleneagles (Galileo). "I don't think he really came down the hill," Varian said. "He had a good position and traveled nicely, but it all unraveled quickly as the ground ran away from him. That combined with his inexperience was his downfall and Dane O'Neill was not hard on him. It was a big ask for him on Saturday, but I am still confident he is a nice horse so we will take our time with him. He has come out of the race fine and we won't rush back. We have not made any firm plans with him but we could step him up to 10 furlongs next time." St Leger (Eng-G1) hero Kingston Hill (Mastercraftsman) is reported to be taking the right steps towards making a comeback later in the campaign. The four-year old was ruled out of the first half of the season after sustaining a leg injury. "Kingston Hill is doing well and there is no change from what I said previously about him," Varian said. "He is having to sit out the early part of the season, but we are looking forward to getting him back in the second half of the season." Kingston Hill is not the only horse from Varian's yard that is set for a spell on the sidelines with last year's impressive Criterium International (Fr-G1) winner and Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-G1) entry Vert De Grece (Verglas), is also ruled out for the near future. "Vert De Grece has had a little setback which means he will miss all the early season classic races. We are not too sure when he is likely to be back," he said...
The Singapore Turf Club has released the prospective fields for the upcoming International Cup (Mal-G1) and International Sprint (Mal-G1) May 17, with three previous winners set to make the four-hour journey from Hong Kong. Runners from that jurisdiction have accounted for each of the last two renewals of both races, and defending champions Dan Excel (Shamardal) and Lucky Nine (Dubawi) will look to defend their titles in the Cup and Sprint, respectively. Lucky Nine, who is looking for his third consecutive victory in the 1200-meter test, will be joined by fellow top-class sprinters Rich Tapestry (Holy Roman Emperor), a last-out third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-G1), and Hong Kong Sprint (HK-G1) hero Aerovelocity (Pins), who will look to follow up on his determined score in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (Jpn-G1) at Chukyo March 29. The last of the five Hong Kong representatives is Military Attack (Oratorio), the 2013 Cup winner who was third to Dan Excel in defense of his title last season. Smoking Sun (Smart Strike) split the Hong Kong duo last year and will return for another try for the Niarchos Family and trainer Pascal Bary, who saddled Gloria de Campeao to win the 2009 Cup. Previously trained in Dubai by Doug Watson, Cooptado (Equal Stripes) has relocated to Singapore and will run for trainer Patrick Shaw in the Cup. Winner in his native land of the Gran Premio Nacional (Arg-G1) in 2013, the bay was a listed winner at Meydan last December, but was last home in the Dubai Gold Cup (UAE-G2) at the end of March. Locally based horses have failed to win since Ouzo landed the inaugural running in 2000, and among those who will try to bring the trophy back to Singapore is the former U.S. galloper Parranda (English Channel). The six-year-old won the Singapore Cup in her Kranji debut February 22 and was a close third to Stepitup (Hussonet) and Quechua (Pure Prize) in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup over the Cup course and distance April 26. The home team has been somewhat more successful in the Sprint, with wins in 2011 and 2012, and they have a real chance in the form of Zac Spirit (Flying Spur). Third to Lucky Nine 12 months ago, the five-year-old was most recently runner-up while looking for back-to-back scores in the Lion City Cup April 26. Joao Moreira, who racked up over 700 winners in four full seasons in Singapore, has taken the call for trainer Cliff Brown.
MAY 7, 2015
by John Mucciolo
A trio of graded stakes race headlined the opening week of racing at Belmont Park.
Sheepshead Bay S. (G3): Bethlehem Stable et al's ROSALIND (Broken Vow) tracked in third, wrestled a short lead nearing midstretch and gradually pulled away to a 1 1/4-length score under Joe Bravo. The four-year-old filly endured 1 3/8 miles on the firm turf oval in 2:14 3/5 for Chad Brown.
Fort Marcy S. (G3): Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred BIG BLUE KITTEN (Kitten's Joy) was last early, gained momentum approaching the turn for home and exploded late in a daylight score for Brown. Piloted by Bravo, the seven-year-old finished up nine panels on the firm turf in 1:47 4/5, finishing 2 1/4 lengths clear under the wire.
Westchester S. (G3): Robert S. Evans' TONALIST (Tapit) made a successful four-year-old debut, powering home to win going away by 3 3/4 lengths. The 2014 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner got one mile on the fast main strip in a strong 1:34 for Christophe Clement and Bravo.
A total of 47 races were held at the Elmont, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 34 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 55 percent of the wins. From 26 races on the main oval, 10 animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (38 percent), while three of the 21 grassy races were taken all the way on the lead (14 percent).
Speed was good on the main oval, especially in the route races, which leads us to believe it was the best place to be on the dirt this past week. Ten horses led throughout on the main surface, seven in route runs and another trio in sprint races.
We saw all run styles perform well on the green, which played fairly.
HORSES TO WATCH
1ST -- CARAMEAWAY (Lawyer Ron) sped to the front and held well late to be second off the long layoff. The five-year-old mare had no answer for the sharp winner but didn't cave in late, and the lass should be very tough in her next outing with expected improvement.
4TH -- We have long been infatuated with BAY OF PLENTY (Medaglia d'Oro) and the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee was an easy winner in his four-year-old debut. The well-bred sort has a lot of speed and can carry it a route of ground, and we still hold out the hope that he will be a force in the handicap division this campaign with a bit more seasoning.
6TH -- MY CARA MIA (Colonel John) nearly ran down a clear leader in the lane in a sharp try off the layoff under Rajiv Maragh. The three-year-old filly should be sitting on another good outing in her subsequent offering after this fine try.
8TH -- MOSLER (War Front) made pretty short work of a good field when taking over in the lane and striding out nicely for conditioner Bill Mott. The four-year-old colt showed good tactical speed and a big turn of foot, and could be a major player during the second half of the season following a performances of this nature.
3RD -- EL DEAL (Munnings) kept his unbeaten mark intact, leading at every call to pass a class test for conditioner Andrew Lakeman. The Kentucky-bred colt toppled a small but talented field and surely seemed to take a liking to this oval, coming home in a swift :23 2/5.
8TH -- Clement's ZINDAYA (More Than Ready) took command soon after the break and never looked back in posting a strong 2 3/4-length romp in this turf dash. The speedy four-year-old was never seriously challenged late under Manny Franco, and will be super tough next out if placed properly.
9TH -- QUAVER (Blame) showed nice improvement off her debut at Gulfstream, utilizing a sharp turn of foot in the lane to put away her rivals for trainer Robert Ribaudo. The three-year-old filly looks like a precocious one for a barn not know for having the type, and she figures to keep improving with more experience.
6TH -- TONALIST ran about as well one could hope for at a one-mile distance that is clearly less than his best. The classy colt loves this oval and will be a power player here in the summer and fall.
8TH -- TOMMY MACHO (Macho Uno) responded well to the change of scenery and move to the Todd Pletcher stable, graduating in his second lifetime performance. The sophomore colt clearly has some talent and the recent private purchase is one to watch as he gets more seasoning.
BOW TIE BOSS (Candy Ride) couldn't hold off the winner but was more than four lengths clear of third in a second straight sharp effort while second. The Jimmy Jerkens trainee rates an obvious chance in his subsequent outing.
11TH -- GOLD SHIELD (Medaglia d'Oro) showed good improvement early since adding the blinkers and continues to be a nice prospect for trainer Shug McGaughey. The well-bred colt should run all day and there was no shame running second here to a nice horse.
A Look Ahead
The $400,000 Man o'War Stakes (G1) is the headline of the Saturday action at Belmont, when four graded races are on tap. The $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G2), the local prep for the Belmont Stakes, is also slated along with the $250,000 Ruffian Handicap (G2) and the $100,000 Beaugay Handicap (G3).
Click here for the monthly May Calendar
HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.
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