Condo Commando 'splashtastic' in Spinaway
Campaigned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable and the Elkstone Group, the Rudy Rodriguez-trained filly paid $8.70 as the 3-1 second choice in the eight-filly field. By the Moon took second while 8-5 favorite Angela Renee filled out the top three. Darling Sky came next in the strung out field and was followed under the wire by Winter Dawn and Lady Zuzu. Ryabinka and Bonnie K were both eased while Curalina was withdrawn.
Front-running Midnight Storm blows Del Mar Derby rivals away at 17-1
Midnight Storm was not only still motoring -- he was actually pulling away from his erstwhile shadow Sawyer's Hill. When Midnight Storm threw in a :23 fourth quarter to reach the mile in 1:35 2/5, Sawyer's Hill could not keep up. The front runner went on to finish 1 1/8 miles in 1:47 2/5 and sparked a $36.60 win payout to his backers.
"We weren't going that slow up there; we were just comfortable," Baze said. "I knew this horse was ready. I worked him the other day five eighths (in 1:00 2/5 on August 24) and then had a strong mile gallop-out. Phil trains them just like Mike (former trainer Mike Mitchell, who was D'Amato's mentor) used to. Sure was nice to go uncontested out there. No pressure helps. This is the first time I've won this race. Del Mar has been good to me."
"I was very confident because I've never had a horse train for a race like this before," D'Amato said. "The last race didn't take anything out of him. Tyler (Baze) breezed him and he galloped out a mile in 1:39 and change and only really good horses do that on this racetrack. He gave me every indication he was going to give his best."
Sawyer's Hill barely salvaged second by a head from the flying French import Talco. Sammy Mandeville, Home Run Kitten, Enterprising, Aventador and Flamboyant rounded out the order under the wire.
Jockey Corey Nakatani was delighted with Talco's third in his U.S. debut.
"Dynamite race for him," Nakatani enthused. "To close into those slow fractions -- a terrific effort. John (trainer John Sadler) said he knew this horse was full of class and that he thought this distance was going to be too short for him. But he said let's give him a try and see what we've got. I think they can see they've got a really nice horse here."
Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith commented that the pace scenario was all against Enterprising.
"Absolutely no pace. Nothing to run at," Smith said. "You have to make a decision with this horse right out of the gate. If you ask him to go, he'll go. But I was concerned about the extra distance and I thought there'd be more pace. Just didn't happen."
Midnight Storm, a May 9 foal, was unraced as a juvenile. The dark bay began his career on Santa Anita's dirt this spring. Under the tutelage of Jorge Gutierrez, he placed second in a pair of sprints, and tired to fourth at a mile, before breaking through in a seven-furlong maiden on June 14. Midnight Storm made an inauspicious first appearance at Del Mar in a 6 1/2-furlong entry-level allowance on Polytrack July 23, where he weakened to eighth. He was subsequently transferred to D'Amato, who put him on turf, and the response was immediate. Now two-for-two on turf and for his new barn, he sports an overall mark of 7-3-2-0, $285,810.
Bred in Kentucky by his owners, Alex Venneri and Marjorie Post Dye, Midnight Storm RNA'd for $38,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. He is out of the Bertrando mare My Tina, herself a half-sister to Grade 3-placed stakes victress Ask Shananie and stakes scorer Valid Direction. This is also the family of multiple Japanese stakes winner Wish Dream, who placed in the 1993 Tenno Sho Autumn.
Jojo Warrior takes command from the start in Torrey Pines
The Kentucky-bred miss shipped to her fourth track in as many starts for the Miss Preakness at Pimlico on May 16, and rallied to be third on that occasion while never threatening the top two. Jojo Warrior was exiting her first stakes score in the Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita on June 21, by going gate-to-wire. The bay has now won back-to-back stakes and sports a 6-3-1-1 mark to go along with $260,781 in lifetime earnings.
The daughter of Pioneerof the Nile is out of the multiple stakes-placed Carson City mare Carson Jen, and is following in the hoofsteps of her older half-siblings -- Grade 1 heroine A Z Warrior, Grade 3 victor E Z Warrior and Grade 3-placed multiple stakes queen J Z Warrior. This female family is also responsible for multiple German highweight mare Royal Fantasy as well as Grade 1 winners Bring Out the Band, Forever Silver and Able Money.
"She was just screaming out for two turns," Baffert said. "The dam has been getting mostly sprinters, but I think the Pioneerof the Nile (genetic influence) really moves her up for distance. I knew she was very fit and we've been waiting for this race."
Irish accomplishes Glens Falls mission
As usual, Viva Rafaela set up shop on the front end and carved out leisurely fractions of :24 4/5, :49 3/5 and 1:15 2/5 on the firm course. Pleasant Cat, the longest shot on the board at 36-1, was perched in a non-threatening second, while Irish Mission was perfectly spotted in a hedge-skimming third, and Watsdachances was wider out in fourth.
Viva Rafaela began to inject more pace through a mile in 1:39 4/5 and tried to put the race away entering the homestretch. Still two lengths in front at the eighth-pole, the longtime leader reached the 1 1/4-mile split in 2:03 2/5.
But Velazquez peeled Irish Mission off the fence and came around to accost Viva Rafaela. Rallying with gusto once seeing daylight, Irish Mission overhauled Viva Rafaela by a half-length and completed 1 3/8 miles in 2:15. The winner rewarded her backers with an $8.50 win mutuel.
"She broke good. I put her right behind the speed and came out at the eighth-pole," Velazquez recapped. "When I needed her, she responded. She made me look good. It worked out good today. I had her covered up when I needed to and got out when I needed to."
"She was so comfortable with Johnny that the fractions were irrelevant," Clement noted.
Caroline Thomas, who had been last of the octet for much of the way, also finished with a flourish to grab third, just a neck behind Viva Rafaela. Watsdachances ran evenly in fourth, followed by Aigue Marine, Cat's Claw, Emotional Kitten and Pleasant Cat. Baffle Me was scratched.
Irish Mission has now bankrolled $1,183,443 from her 25-5-6-2 line. Initially trained by Mark Frostad, the daughter of Giant's Causeway took seven tries to break her maiden, but then made rapid progress. After capturing a maiden on the Keeneland turf in April 2012, she came right back to land the Woodbine Oaks. Irish Mission competed against males in all three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, closing for second in the Queen's Plate, fading to sixth in the Prince of Wales in her only dirt attempt, and scoring a classic win in the Breeders' Stakes back on turf.
Although she ended her sophomore year with a fifth versus older males in the Northern Dancer Turf, Irish Mission had done enough to merit two Sovereign Awards as Canada's champion three-year-old filly and turf female.
Irish Mission couldn't scale the same heights as a four-year-old. Her 2013 campaign included placings in the Orchid and the Nassau, but her only win came in a Woodbine allowance. Beaten a scant length in fourth in when taking another crack at the Northern Dancer, Irish Mission failed to build on that effort next time in the E.P. Taylor, where she checked in seventh.
Evans kept Irish Mission in training and transferred her to Clement. Last of seven over an inadequate 1 1/16 miles in the May 3 Beaugay in her reappearance, the five-year-old was a staying-on third in the May 24 Sheepshead Bay at 1 3/8 miles. Irish Mission stepped up to two miles for the inaugural Belmont Gold Cup versus males on June 6, finishing a gallant second. Back down in trip for the 1 1/8-mile Matchmaker on Haskell Day at Monmouth, she was a strong runner-up again, and regained the winning thread at a more suitable distance here.
"She's the most beautiful mare to look at," Clement enthused. "She's obviously going to be a great broodmare prospect in the future.
"We have three major races in the fall for fillies and mares, and we'll aim at one of them."
Clement was alluding to the Grade 1 trio of the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park and the Rodeo Drive at Santa Anita, both on September 27, as well as the E.P. Taylor at her old stomping grounds at Woodbine October 19.
Bred by Sam-Son Farm in Ontario, Irish Mission sold for $375,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling. She is a half-sister to multiple Grade 3 scorer French Beret. They were produced by the Miswaki mare Misty Mission, heroine of the 2000 Wonder Where, who is in turn a half-sister to Canadian champion Comet Shine.
Irish Mission's second dam, Hangin on a Star, earned her signature win in the 1987 Breeders' Stakes. Hangin on a Star is a half-sister to two-time Canadian champion Rainbow Connection, the dam of three-time Sovereign Award winner Rainbows for Life and ancestress of Eclipse champion Tempera.
Plesa reels in juvenile stakes at Monmouth
Souper Colossal crossed the wire in 1:38 2/5 for the one mile test over the fast main track.
Wild Zambezi came in second and was 1 3/4 lengths clear of Pride of Stride in third. Tapitsphere, Chase Lane and Posse Dreamin rounded out the order of finish. Dukin' With Dale was scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by Moyglare Stud, Souper Colossal is out of the Kingmambo mare Soaring Emotions. His third dam is French Group 1 winner Caerlina.
Souper Colossal sold as a weanling for $100,000 at the Keeneland November sale and was resold for $350,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale.
Coco's Wildcat took second by a neck over third-place finisher Comforter, who was a head better than Let's Parlay in fourth. Save Rock and Roll, Heavenly Perfect and Perpetual Novena completed the order under the wire. Flamingo Dancer was scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by River Glen Capital LLC and Meritage Racing LLC, Concealedwithakiss is out of the Chief Seattle mare Bold Outlook. Her third dam is Ring Me Up, who produced Grade 2 winner Call Me Up.
The daughter of Political Force sold for $5,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearlings Sale before bringing $22,000 from his current connections at the OBS June Two-Year-Olds & Horses of Racing Age Sale.
Wise Dan to use Shadwell Turf Mile as his BC prep
Wise Dan carried 127 pounds, from eight to 13 more than the rest of the field. Late-running long shot Optimizer, with 11 fewer pounds, came flying late on the outside but came up a nose short to the six-time Eclipse Award winner.
"Optimizer ran a great race," LoPresti said. "He's not going to have to (give weight) anymore. Now he's got a race in him, and God willing he's OK. I was relieved. It's been tough coming up here with him, just trying to do the right thing and hoping he didn't get sick again. We had to breeze him a bunch to get him ready. It's been tough in trying to make the right decision, but I'm glad we ran here."
Wise Dan boosted his bankroll to just under $7 million and improved to 3-0 lifetime at Saratoga, including Fourstardave victories in 2012 and 2013. His final time of 1:39.08 was just .17 off the Mellon turf course record set by Fourstardave in 1991, when the legendary New York-bred carried 115 pounds.
"He was here, we prepped him here, and all he had to do was walk across the street," LoPresti said. "I knew the people here at Saratoga wanted to see him run. The fans wanted to see him run. It was the right thing to do.
"When (retiring track announcer) Tom Durkin said, 'Here comes the future Hall of Famer,' it was great. I'm glad we ran him here. I love coming here. I like Saratoga. This is probably the best racing there is, the Saratoga meet. It's so tough to win a race here. This makes the fifth year we've come here and won a graded stake."
Wise Dan will leave Saratoga on Tuesday for Kentucky and point for the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile on October 4 at Keeneland and then the October 31-November 1 Breeders' Cup, where he is the two-time defending Mile champion.
It is a similar campaign that led to Wise Dan being voted champion older male, champion turf male and Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2013. There hasn't been a three-time successive Horse of the Year winner since Forego from 1974-76.
"I'm not trying to lobby for Horse of the Year. I said something yesterday (on NBC) and then after I said it, I wished I hadn't," LoPresti said.
"But if you think about what this horse has been through, why wouldn't he be Horse of the Year? He's undefeated. One thing I don't ever want to get into is any kind of match race or anything like that. I'm going to stick to the plan. He'll have two more races.
"If we're lucky enough to win those and everything goes good, whatever they decide I'm fine with it. He doesn't have to get Horse of the Year. He's my horse of the year if he never wins another race."
Woodward top three could rematch in BC Classic
"If the ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup, I have to be sure we're going into the race 110 percent. I don't want to think we've maybe run him one too many. The great (trainer) Horatio Luro said, 'You don't want to squeeze the lemon too dry.'"
Plesa also said the Grade 2, $400,000 Kelso at a mile on the same Belmont card as the Jockey Club Gold Cup could be an option, as is the Grade 1, $300,000 Awesome Again on September 27 at Santa Anita Park, site of the Breeders' Cup.
"He'll tell me," Plesa remarked. "He could come out bucking and kicking and saying, 'I'm ready to run again.' That's my job to figure out when that is."
Moreno's trainer, Eric Guillot, meantime, said the Jockey Club Gold Cup is his primary target.
"I always was planning that," Guillot asserted. "Thirty days, 30 days, 30 days, babysit him, babysit him, run him. The horse hasn't been out of form since he broke his maiden. He has been nine-for-12 triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. Who else has that?"
Guillot, despite finishing second, was in a boastful mood Sunday morning.
"He'll win the (Breeders' Cup) Classic by five; you all can put it in the press," he said of Moreno.
Asked why, Guillot answered, "Because I said it."
If Moreno wants to win the Classic, he'll have to face not only Itsmyluckyday again, but also Woodward third Prayer for Relief. Trainer Dale Romans has lofty goals for the six-year-old, who was beaten only two lengths in the Woodward on Saturday.
Romans on Sunday said Prayer for Relief will be pointed for the Jockey Club Gold Cup with the Breeders' Cup and Dubai World Cup being long-term objectives.
"Those things are all in play," Romans said.
In the Woodward, Prayer for Relief raced in midpack early and made a strong run in the stretch without threatening the top two. After the race, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez said Prayer for Relief "hung" before galloping out strongly.
"I think Johnny learned a little bit about him," Romans noted. "It'd be nice to get (Velazquez) back next time. This is a good horse. It's hard to say he's peaking at his age, but he's definitely showing some of his best form. He's doing awfully good."
Palace headed for a Grade 1 hat trick in Vosburgh
Rice and owner Antonino Miuccio claimed Palace for $20,000 out of a maiden win at Belmont Park in October 2012, and son of City Zip gradually ascended the ranks before registering his first stakes victory in the Chowder's First overnight stakes one year ago at Saratoga. Since then, the bay has added scores in the Hudson Handicap, Fall Highweight Handicap and True North in addition to his Vosburgh and Forego triumphs.
"One of the keys is, every time it looks like he needs a rest we give it to him," Rice explained. "I think that has allowed him to go from winning the Hudson and the Chowder's First to winning Grade 1s, and that's a tribute to my client, Antonino Miuccio."
In addition, Rice said one of the keys to getting Palace to run to his best form is to let him take advantage of his speed.
"He's got speed, but he doesn't like to be rushed," she clarified. "I think we made a mistake (when he was second by 6 1/4 lengths in the Belmont Sprint Championship in July). He really enjoys being settled, taken a hold of, and sitting behind fast fractions. In the (Belmont Sprint Championship), they went too slow. He needed to be on the lead. He can be on the lead without rushing him; he has natural speed."
El Kabeir pointing toward Grade 1 Champagne
Second-time starter El Kabeir turned heads on Saturday at Saratoga with an explosive win in a seven-furlong maiden race for trainer John Terranova and owner Zayat Stables.
The two-year-old son of Scat Daddy debuted in a five-furlong race on August 14 at the Spa, and finished third with late interest behind Blofeld and Signature Cat.
"I was debating whether to run him five (furlongs) or six and a half (in his first start)," Terranova said. "I said, 'Well, 6 1/2 (furlongs) first out, I don't know. He's fast, so let me just run him five, and we'll get a good run into him. If there's a fast horse in there, he'll get a little dirt kicked back at him.' He ran very well; he ran a great internal race after getting creamed at the start. He never quit, came on, took all the dirt and came out of it great."
El Kabeir and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. left nothing to chance on Saturday. Horse and rider went straight to the front, setting fractions of :22 3/5 for the opening quarter-mile and :44 4/5 for the half before powering away in the stretch to win by 10 3/4 lengths. El Kabeir's time for the distance, 1:22.16, was just .21 seconds shy of Palace's time in the Grade 1, seven-furlong Forego, and more than a full second faster than a seven-furlong maiden event run earlier on the card. For the performance, he earned a 100 BRIS Speed rating.
"The last few days before we entered I was thinking, maybe we should run this horse before we get out of here and not even wait until Belmont; he was doing that good," Terranova said. "It wasn't really my decision to enter him, it was his. He was the one telling me. I was just playing off that first race, and everything was really positive."
El Kabeir, who Terranova believes will only get better with more distance, will be pointed to the Grade 1 Champagne on October 4 at Belmont Park, where he is likely to meet Upstart, who earned a meet-best 106 BRIS Speed rating for his win in the Funny Cide Stakes on August 24 at the Spa.
Skyway aims to follow up in Del Mar Futurity; 'Renee' gives zip to undercard
Del Mar's summer season comes to an end with a bang on Wednesday, with a four-stakes card anchored by the Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Futurity. The seven-furlong test for juveniles determines the pro tempore leader of the division on the West Coast, a position that Best Pal winner Skyway hopes to shore up at the seaside track.
Originally based with trainer Mark Casse's string in Kentucky, Skyway romped in his debut over Keeneland's Polytrack before finishing a well-beaten third in the Bashford Manor on the Churchill Downs dirt. The son of Sky Mesa handed Del Mar newcomer Casse a memorable first career win here in the August 3 Best Pal, where he reveled in the chance to return to a Polytrack surface. Skyway has trained forwardly in the interim and gets a rider switch from Stewart Elliott, who had ridden him in all three previous starts, to Corey Nakatani. The 122-pound highweight is drawn on the outside in post 9.
Best Pal runner-up Henry's Holiday is capable of turning the tables. A smart debut winner at Santa Anita, the Doug O'Neill pupil was a late-running fourth in the Santa Anita Juvenile and an eyecatching second in the 6 1/2-furlong Best Pal. The Harlan's Holiday colt, who is out of a Victory Gallop mare, stands to benefit from the extra ground in the Del Mar Futurity and keeps Tyler Baze aboard.
Recent maiden winner Red Button, a Distorted Humor half-brother to Grade 1 victress Sugar Shake, has plenty of upside. No match for Bad Read Sanchez when slowly away in his premiere, the Mark Glatt trainee showed smart gears from off the pace to get up in time here on July 26. Significantly, he lures the red-hot Rafael Bejarano into the saddle.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert dominates the record book with 11 wins in the Del Mar Futurity, but his duo of Holiday Camp and American Pharaoh must improve to give him a 12th. Holiday Camp rolled in his first try at Santa Anita, defeating next-out winner Rowdy Dylan. Dispatched as the even-money favorite next time in the Santa Anita Juvenile, Holiday Camp never recovered from a troubled start and trailed home last of six. The Street Boss colt just fired a six-furlong bullet in 1:12 at Del Mar last Wednesday, and could regroup with Martin Garcia.
The maiden American Pharaoh was favored at 7-5 in his only start on August 9, but retreated to fifth behind the ultra-impressive Om. Sired by former Baffert star Pioneerof the Nile, himself a Zayat Stables runner, American Pharaoh also tuned up with a bullet in :59 for five furlongs last Wednesday. Victor Espinoza picks up the mount.
The well-bred Iron Fist exits that same maiden, where he was best of the rest behind the imperious Om. Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, who sent out Tamarando to take the 2013 Del Mar Futurity, Iron Fist has gotten off to slow starts in both of his outings so far. He rallied for fourth in a five-furlong dash here July 19 prior to his improved effort last time. If he doesn't complicate his task right from the break, Iron Fist can make his presence felt. A $1.55 million Keeneland September yearling purchase, the Tapit ridgeling is a full brother to the well-regarded sophomore Anchor Down and a half-brother to Grade 1 star Sweet Lulu. Hall of Famer Mike Smith sticks with the promising gray.
The Peter Miller-trained Calculator has competed in the same two maidens, splitting decisions with Iron Fist. Third in their mutual debut, he was most recently fourth to Om. Elvis Trujillo takes the call on the In Summation colt, who smoked five-eighths in a bullet :58 2/5 last Thursday.
Inexcess Time comes off a local maiden score for Walther Solis, beating the troubled Oh Newman, who closed fast for third.
Two races earlier, the $100,000 Oak Tree Juvenile Turf figures to have implications for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Top contenders in the one-mile affair include Sky Preacher, who aired by 7 1/2 lengths in his first turf try for O'Neill at Santa Anita; the Cody Autrey-trained Dallas Skyline, a convincing course-and-distance winner on July 30; Papacoolpapacool, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Dallas Skyline in that mutual debut; Highway Boss, who switches surfaces off a fourth in the Best Pal; pace factor Peacenluvpeacenluv, claimed out of his Polytrack maiden score by George Papaprodromou and bred to enjoy turf as a son of Artie Schiller; and first-time starter Conquest Bespoke, worth a look as a Conquest Stables colorbearer from the Casse barn.
Among the older brigade, star sprinter Reneesgotzip headlines the $90,000 C.E.R.F. Stakes at six furlongs on Polytrack. The daughter of City Zip was a resounding 3 1/4-length winner of this event back in 2012, but skipped the 2013 running after she crushed the Rancho Bernardo by 4 1/4 lengths. In her only subsequent start last year, she was a dead-heat runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint -- her second consecutive placing in that lucrative prize.
Reneesgotzip was sidelined until she mounted a Rancho Bernardo title defense on August 17, and ran as if in need of the race when third to Judy the Beauty. Wheeling back two weeks later for this engagement, the Miller mare promises to improve substantially and flaunt her class.
Her eight rivals are Go West Marie, last-out winner of the Fleet Treat over the track; Llandudno, who missed by a head in the April 12 Las Cienegas on Santa Anita's downhill turf two back; Kinz Funky Monkey, who was just caught in the off-the-turf Daisycutter; Clearly Confused, runner-up in the Desert Stormer earlier this summer on the Santa Anita dirt; multiple stakes heroine Top Kisser from the Hollendorfer barn; Fanticola, who has been knocking on the proverbial door with a trio of stakes placings this season; Group 3-placed Belle de Lune, returning from a 13-month layoff for Tom Proctor; and Baffert's Maker or Breaker, a half-sister to two-time champion Indian Blessing.
In the $90,000 Pirate's Bounty, Seeking the Sherif looms as the one to beat. The Ron Ellis class climber reeled off a four-race winning streak before trying the July 27 Bing Crosby at this track and six-furlong trip, and he was not disgraced when third in that Grade 1 event. Seeking the Sherif drops in class to face the likes of Ain't No Other, a close second to Private Zone in the 2013 Pirate's Bounty; No Silent, twice stakes-placed for Gary Mandella; and recent allowance/optional claiming winners Ankeny Hill and Bull Dozer.
Longshots Forest Lake, Waha Wild close out Evangeline Downs meet
Forest Lake and Waha Wild recorded upsets in the Evangeline Downs Starlet and Evangeline Downs Star, respectively, for two-year-olds at Evangeline Downs on Saturday evening, the closing night of the 2014 spring/summer Thoroughbred season. Each event was contested at the distance of six furlongs on the main track that was labeled sloppy after persistent rainfall over the past 48 hours.
Owned by former NFL Quarterback Jake Delhomme, Forest Lake kicked clear from her nine rivals after dueling for the lead in the early stages of the $78,750 Starlet, eventually hitting the finish line two lengths clear while covering the distance in a time of 1:12 2/5. Ridden by Hector Santiago and trained by Delhomme's father, Jerry Delhomme, Forest Lake paid $66 as a 32-1 longshot.
The bay daughter of Forestry improved her record to 5-2-1-0 while taking her first stakes win and has now banked $69,020 lifetime.
Waha Wild, ridden by Coby Bourque, swept by the early leaders in the final 100 yards of Saturday's $75,250 Star to score by three parts of a length over 6-5 favorite Gotta Get Paid. The Offlee Wild Oklahoma-bred gelding covered the distance in 1:12 3/5 to earn his initial lifetime victory and pay $17.80 at odds of nearly 8-1. Trained by Harlan Boutte for owner/breeder Dream Walkin Farms, Waha Wild finished a head second in his career debut on August 1 and now boasts $49,400 in earnings.
Colby Hernandez and Karl Broberg topped the jockey and trainer standings for the 84-night spring/summer Thoroughbred season at Evangeline. Both Hernandez and Broberg led the standings in total wins and purse money earned.
From a race-riding family that includes older brother B. J., younger sister Courtney, and father, Brian, 2014 has been a breakout year for Hernandez. The 25-year-old native of Lafayette, Louisiana, not only earned his second leading rider title (having led the standings in 2008) at Evangeline Downs, but also recorded his 1,000th career victory back in March at Delta Downs. Hernandez won at a rate of 23 percent while visiting the winner's circle a total of 120 times from 530 mounts during the season en route to amassing more than $1.81 million in purse earnings.
Veteran reinsman Joe Patin Jr. was a distant second behind Hernandez with 95 victories and purse earnings of $1.61 million. Diego Saenz, the leading rider the past three seasons at the Opelousas, Louisiana, venue, was atop the leaderboard when he suffered a knee injury in July, and ended up in the third spot with totals of 72 wins and $1.53 million in purse earnings from only 300 mounts.
In the trainer's race, it was once again no race at all as Broberg and his stable scored at a 29 percent clip and easily notched his fourth consecutive training title in Cajun Country. The 43-year-old Arlington, Texas, resident recorded 66 wins including the meet's biggest race, the $300,000 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint with Heitai, en route to purse earnings of more than $1.2 million.
Keith Bourqeois, a multiple former leading trainer here at Evangeline, has a strong season with 51 wins and $723,000 in purses earned. Despite hitting at just 1 percent below Broberg, Bourgeois could not keep pace in the final stages of the season and settled for the runner-up position, a spot he has held for three of the past four seasons. Scotty Gelner, a second generation horseman, was third in the final standings with totals of 31 wins and $419,000 in purse earnings.
Heitai, the Frank and Barbara Rowell homebred son of Fusaichi Pegasus, won all three of his starts at the meet, including the Turf Sprint, Need for Speed and Louisiana Legends Night Sprint en route to being named Horse of the Meet.
Racing will resume at Evangeline Downs with the 2014 fall Quarter Horse season on October 1. The season will consist of 46 exciting nights of racing, primarily on a four-evening-a-week schedule, Wednesday thru Saturday, with a first post of 5:45 p.m. (CT).
Competitive Edge, I Spent It highlight Hopeful
I Spent It enters the prestigious event off a convincing 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special on August 10, overcoming a troubled trip to win from just off the pace for Tony Dutrow. He became the first winner for his sire when capturing his debut at Belmont Park on July 2 and I Spent It possesses the top BRIS Speed rating in the field, registering a 99 last time. Leading rider Javier Castellano sticks with the promising bay.
Bashart, a sharp winner of last year's Grade 2 With Anticipation at Saratoga, is also part of the 10-horse field. The War Front colt opened his 2014 campaign with a pair of unplaced finishes and will look attempt to rebound while making his first start for new trainer Michael Matz. Storm brings a three-race win streak into his stakes debut and the Pletcher-trained colt retains the services of Castellano.
Albano, Ben's Cat stand out in Parx stakes
Also exiting the Haskell is Just Call Kenny, who finished sixth in the nine-furlong test but only 2 3/4 lengths behind Albano. Hero of the six-furlong Spectacular Bid at Gulfstream in January, the Jump Start colt returned from a six-month break in early July to finish second by a half-length in the Long Branch, an ungraded prep for the Haskell.
The lightly-raced Protonico, from the barn of Todd Pletcher, adds blinkers after finishing a head behind subsequent Travers winner V. E. Day in the $100,000 Curlin at Saratoga. A mild 3-1 favorite there in just his fourth career start, the Giant's Causeway colt is joined by Curlin sixth-placer Joint Custody, a four-time stakes winner on the Maryland and Delaware circuits.
The Smarty Jones field also includes Almost Famous, third in the Ohio Derby and Matt Winn in his last two; Lynx, third in the Pegasus and runner-up in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie; and Grade 2-placed Classic Giacnroll, most recently fourth in the West Virginia Derby.
The venerable eight-year-old sprinter Ben's Cat will attempt to win the Grade 3, $300,000 Turf Monster Handicap for a third time on Monday. The Maryland-bred eight-year-old won the five-furlong contest in 2011 and 2012, but finished third behind returning rivals Stormofthecentury and Tightend Touchdown last year.
Micromanage, a Grade 3 winner at Gulfstream earlier this term, will be the one to beat if he contests the Grade 3, $200,000 Greenwood Cup over 1 1/2 miles. The Todd Pletcher trainee, successful by 8 1/2 lengths in the $100,000 Birdstone at Saratoga over 1 3/4 miles last time, was also entered in Saturday's Woodward at the Spa.
Also in the lineup are Argentinean Group 2 winner Ever Rider and Grade 3-placed Abraham, both allowance winners at Saratoga most recently; Birdstone runner-up Irsaal; Argentinean Group 1 winner Lideris, unplaced in both U.S. starts to date; and West Virginia Governor's runner-up Adirondack King, who owns a five-for-12 mark over the Parx main track.
Among the main contenders in the $200,000 Turf Amazon Handicap, a five-furlong dash for fillies and mares are Spun Cap, an overnight handicap winner against males at Ellis Park on August 2 following a year-long layoff. Other leading hopefuls are the stakes veterans Sweet Cassiopeia, Jewel of a Cat, Miss d'Oro, Quality Lass, Coarsegold, and Joya Real.
Competitive Yellow Ribbon on tap for Del Mar's Labor Day program
Miss Serendipity was the nose victress of the Gamely two back prior to a last-of-six run in the John C. Mabee three weeks ago. The Ron McAnally-trained six-year-old is a Group 1 winner in Argentina and appears to have brought that form with her to the United States, having also placed in the Santa Barbara Handicap and Santa Ana while finishing fourth in the Buena Vista and Paseana to account for her six tries stateside thus far. Brice Blanc takes back the mount from Rafael Bejarano, who rode Miss Serendipity in the Mabee.
Earlier, dual stakes hero Wake Up Nick seeks to move his record to a perfect four-for-four in the I'm Smokin against fellow unbeaten stakes winner Truely Quick. Sorrento third-placer Heart of Paradise highlights the Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Three races before Condo Commando (Tiz Wonderful) wowed the Saratoga crowd in the Spinaway (G1), Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Feathered (Indian Charlie) broke her maiden by a resounding 9 3/4 lengths in the 7TH race. The 4-5 favorite after just missing in her debut, the Todd Pletcher filly grabbed command from the start and never looked back. Feathered galloped through surprisingly moderate fractions of :24 and :48 1/5 and drew right away in the stretch. Under Javier Castellano, the $300,000 OBS March purchase covered seven furlongs in 1:24 2/5 on a track that had already been downgraded to good upon the rain's arrival. "The first time she ran, she broke slow out of the gate and just got beat," Castellano recalled. "I think she matured a little bit, and today she had a race under her belt and it paid off. I really like the way she did it today. She opened up very impressively." Pletcher commented, "I was expecting her to win the first time, actually. She ran well first time, and did everything we hoped she would do in between starts, so we were optimistic (about Sunday's race). With her being one of the few fillies in the race with some experience, we expected her to break well and we wanted to take advantage of that if we could. She broke alertly, and when they put up first quarter in :24 we felt pretty good. We'll certainly run her back in a stakes. It will just be a matter of which one." Feathered, a May 17 foal, is out of the stakes-placed Receipt (Dynaformer). Her second dam is multiple Grade 1 queen Finder's Fee (Storm Cat), her third dam is Grade 1 winner Fantastic Find (Mr. Prospector) and her fourth dam is multiple Grade 2 heroine and noted producer Blitey (Riva Ridge)...
Del Mar Debutante (G1) winner Sunset Glow (Exchange Rate) and runner-up Her Emmynency (Successful Appeal) both came out of the seven-furlong race in good shape, their camps reported on Sunday. Sunset Glow will be shipped to Kentucky and trainer Wesley Ward to be pointed for a Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race at Santa Anita Park. Trainer Mike Stidham said Her Emmynency would be sent to Santa Anita with distance races on turf the likely target...
Avanzare (Grand Reward) has exited his victory in Saturday's Washington Park H. (G3) in great shape, according to his connections. The four-year-old gelding made his first Polytrack start a winning one after eight consecutive runs on the turf, including four wins and three runner-up finishes. "He came out really well," reported Lindsay Schultz, assistant to conditioner Tom Proctor. "He at up and his legs look good. He's definitely pleased with himself." Avanzare was exiting a tough loss in the Arlington H. (G3), in which he made all the running only to finish fourth while beaten only three-quarters of a length. This time, he held on after setting just as glacial a pace to win by a head at the wire over Hattaash (Strong Hope) and race favorite Mister Marti Gras (Belong to Me) in a photo finish. The race was also win number 3,500 for jockey Chris Emigh, a 25-year veteran who has called Arlington home for much of his career. Interestingly, Avanzare also gave Proctor a milestone earlier in the year when the trainer landed his 1,000th win. "(The owners) were really excited," Schultz said. "It was definitely a step forward for him -- especially to win a graded stakes. From here, we'll wait and see how he comes out and won't bring him back too quickly."...
Elvis "Heartbreak" Trujillo floored Corey "Knockout" Nakatani in the third and final round and went on to win a unanimous decision in the much-anticipated "Battle Off the Saddle" Saturday night before a raucously enthusiastic crowd at Del Mar's Seaside Terrace. The three-round bout between two of the nation's top jockeys was the climax of a card of boxing with a portion of the proceeds going to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). Nakatani was the aggressor in the first round as Trujillo jabbed and moved after being hit with a solid right hand early in the fight, most observers awarding the round to Nakatani. In the second round, Trujillo changed tactics and attacked as the two boxers mixed it up in several multi-punch exchanges. Trujillo appeared to win the round, so going into the third and final two-minute period it seemed either fighter could win. However, Trujillo landed the best punch of the bout, a hard overhand right early in the round, knocking Nakatani across the ring and down. Nakatani rose and took an eight count, but the knockdown was the decider in what had been an even battle until then. Guest judges at ringside were Hall of Famers Mike Smith and Alex Solis plus Cisco Alvarado. Smith scored it 29-28; Solis, 29-27, and Alvarado, 30-27, all in favor of Panamanian Trujillo...
His sire is dual classic winner Montjeu and his dam is dual classic victress Finsceal Beo, so it was no surprise to see last year's impeccably bred €2.85 million Orby Sale topper Ol' Man River shortened to 16-1 for the 2015 Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) following a perfect debut performance on Sunday at the Curragh. The Aidan O'Brien trained colt hardly came off the bridle under Joseph O'Brien to cruise to an effortless three-quarter length win in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden. Owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, Ol' Man River was purchased by M.V. Magnier for €2.850 million at the Orby Sale, the highest priced yearling in Ireland for almost 30 years. He was bred and sold by Al Eile Stud, purchasers of dual Guineas winner Finsceal Beo as a yearling at Goffs in 2005. The classy colt is entered in the Vincent O'Brien National (Ire-G1), Dewhurst (Eng-G1), and Racing Post Trophy (Eng-G1) this season...
Granted a soft lead all the way to the end of the backstretch in Sunday's weak renewal of the €200,000 Grand Prix de Deauville (Fr-G2), a formerly prestigious race, Cocktail Queen (Motivator) was taken wide at the top of the straight by jockey Alexis Badel with the gelding Gatewood (Galileo) for company while Going Somewhere (Sulamani) stayed against the rail. Despite the latter being in front briefly inside the final quarter-mile, the main action concerned Cocktail Queen and the British raider and they asserted in the last 100 yards with the filly pulling out extra where it counted. "She has really blossomed lately and is doing really well," trainer Miriam Bollack-Badel said. "I would not have supplemented her if she had not showed more improvement after the Gontaut-Biron and I thought she had a first-class chance. She stays really well and loves soft ground, so she is probably good enough to try a Group 1 now and will go for the Prix de l'Opera ([Fr-G1] at Longchamp on October 5)." Formerly with David Elsworth, Cocktail Queen showed early ability when second to subsequent Group 1 performer Tasaday (Nayef) in the Prix des Reservoirs (Fr-G3) going a mile at Deauville on October 2012. Seen only four times the following season, the bay homebred managed a third in the 12-furlong St Simon (Eng-G3) at Newbury in October and a second in Doncaster's listed Gillies Fillies' over an extended 10-furlong trip the following month. Sent to Bollack-Badel after a failed attempt at two miles when fifth in Ascot's Sagaro (Eng-G3) on April 30, she was second in a 12-furlong conditions event at Dieppe on July 8 prior to making all in the August 16 Prix Gontaut-Biron (Fr-G3) going 10 furlongs...
Restrained early by Andrea Atzeni to race toward the rear in Sunday's €60,000 Round Tower (Ire-G3) at the Curragh, Cappella Sansevero (Showcasing) gradually worked his way to the front with 200 yards remaining before asserting from the game Rapid Applause (Royal Applause). "I asked Andrea to drop him and produce him late, as he pulls himself up in front," trainer Ger Lyons said. "He said he rode like a three-year-old today and that he thinks he'll get further, but we'll go for the Middle Park S. (Eng-G1) over six (furlongs at Newmarket on October 17)." Unbeaten and already boasting black-type after his exploits in the Curragh's May 24 listed Marble Hill when tackling the Coventry (Eng-G2) at Royal Ascot, Cappella Sansevero ran with credit to finish closest to subsequent Prix Morny (Fr-G1) hero The Wow Signal (Starspangledbanner) in that June 17 juvenile feature. Putting in an uncharacteristically tame effort when fifth behind Kool Kompany (Jeremy) in the June 28 Railway (Ire-G2) over Sunday's track and six-furlong trip, the bay juvenile enjoyed a brief break before returning to be third behind Dick Whittington (Rip Van Winkle) and that rival in the August 10 Phoenix (Ire-G1) again at Sunday's course and distance...
One race later in the €60,000 Dance Design Fillies (Ire-G3), Pat Smullen settled Moyglare Stud Farm's Carla Bianca (Dansili) in fifth early. The homebred sophomore appeared held by Alive Alive Oh (Duke of Marmalade) as that rival started to assert inside the final quarter-mile but stayed on tenaciously to gain the advantage 150 yards from home and hold the late thrust of Pearl of Africa (Jeremy). "She has progressed with every run since being slow to come to hand in the spring," said trainer Dermot Weld, who handled the race's namesake Dance Design for the winning owner-breeders. "I liked the way she came home today and so the (September 14) Blandford S. (Ire-G2) back here is a possibility. The faster the ground the better." Second to Australia (Galileo) going seven furlongs at the Curragh last July, Carla Bianca was sent straight to the Moyglare Stud (Ire-G1) over the same track and trip in September and again flashed her inherent ability when fourth there. Well below that standard in two maidens at the start of her sophomore campaign, the gray came right by five lengths upped to 10 furlongs at Navan on June 14 before adding the listed Naas Oaks Trial to her tally at that distance 11 days later. Despite being asked to bear a three-pound penalty in Gowran Park's listed Hurry Harriet S. over slightly shorter on August 13, she overcame some smart opponents to prevail and book this short ramp in class...
Always traveling strongly at the front of the main group in Sunday's €55,000 144th Golden Peitsche (Ger-G3) at Baden-Baden, Signs of Blessing (Invincible Spirit) was tackled and headed by Son Cesio (Zafeen) passing the quarter-pole, but stuck to his guns to regain the initiative with 100 yards remaining under jockey Stephane Pasquier. Always held in high regard by trainer Francois Rohaut, the three-year-old signed off 2013 with a first black-type success in the five-furlong listed Criterium de Vitesse at Longchamp in October and returned to take a conditions event at Fontainebleau on March 24 and Chantilly's listed Prix Sigy over six furlongs on April 16. Acquitting himself with credit against his elders when second in the May 11 Prix de Saint-Georges (Fr-G3) reverting to five-eighths at Longchamp, the bay handled Deauville's testing ground when third in the June 28 Prix de Ris-Orangis (Fr-G3) over Sunday's six-furlong trip when last seen...
Nine sophomore fillies, including one main-track only entrant, have been entered to go 1 1/8 miles over Monmouth Park's turf on Labor Day Monday in the $100,000 Boiling Springs (G3). The Chad Brown-trained Little Journey (Great Journey) will be making her fourth U.S. start in the race, having finished third in both the Edgewood at Churchill Downs and Santa Anita Park's American Oaks (G1) prior to a close last-of-seven in the Lake George (G2) most recently at Saratoga. The gray miss will have Javier Castellano aboard while facing last-out Indiana First Lady victress Mary n' Eileen (Indy King), who is three-for-four lifetime thus far, as well as Queenie's Song (Unbridled's Song) and Black Elegance (Footstepsinthesand), separated by only a nose as the respective second and third from the July 9 Christiana at Delaware Park. One race earlier, eight distaffers will line up in the $75,000 Lady's Secret at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. My Miss Sophia (Unbridled's Song) is hoping to rebound in this spot off a well-beaten seventh in the Acorn (G1) on June 7 at Belmont Park. Prior to that, the Todd Pletcher sophomore finished second in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and posted a 7 1/4-length romp in the Gazelle (G2).
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