Triple Crown News & Notes
Lukas back on top following Oxbow's Preakness win
Lukas and his nine-horse contingent, that also included Dixie upsetter Skyring and his personal pony, were on the highway before dawn Sunday morning, heading back to their home base at Churchill Downs. Then it's on to the Belmont Stakes in three weeks with Oxbow and possibly seventh-place finisher Will Take Charge. Titletown Five, Lukas' third Preakness entrant who finished last, will run in shorter races for the rest of his three-year-old campaign.
"I've always rode with the horses all my career," said Lukas, who now has six Preakness winners, one behind Robert Walden for the all-time record in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. "I used to go on the airplanes and stand there with them all the time. We don't fly much anymore."
He's "the man on the van" these days, having ridden in a pickup truck for more than 12 hours to Pimlico on Tuesday and scheduled to follow the same routine back home Sunday.
"I'll get him home at feeding time just about," Lukas explained. "By the time I get him home and give him a bath it'll be right about 5 o'clock (EDT). They put a bucket seat where I ride on kind of an air-ride slide thing. It's like riding in a boat somewhere on the waves."
"I was trying to be politically correct all week, but I thought (Oxbow) was the toughest horse. I thought if there was some adversity or something went wrong, he had the best chance to overcome," Lukas admitted. "Will Take Charge is so big that he has to get a clear run. He can't check, stop, take a bump or anything. The other horse (Titletown Five) we knew was going to need a career quantum leap forward."
Orb doing well after Preakness fourth
McGaughey will monitor Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable's homebred colt's training at Belmont Park before deciding his status for the Belmont Stakes on June 8.
"I want to see him bounce back and see his soundness level and his energy level," he explained. "I think there are a lot of good wins down the road for him."
Itsmyluckyday justifies Plesa's faith, now targeting Haskell
Itsmyluckyday, who was scheduled to ship to Monmouth Park Sunday, is a far more definite candidate to run in the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational at the New Jersey track on July 28.
"The Haskell is on my list. God willing, that's a certainty," Plesa said.
Majority of Preakness field bypassing Belmont Stakes
Trainer Doug O'Neill and his fifth-place Preakness finisher Goldencents will not be going on to the third jewel of the Triple Crown. Team O'Neill and the colt departed Pimlico early Sunday morning to return to Southern California.
Take Charge Indy, Fort Larned work for Stephen Foster
"I think when it's all said and done, (Take Charge Indy) might be a better horse than Awesome Again," Byrne asserted.
Oxbow steals Preakness as Orb struggles home fourth
Oxbow's was the eighth Preakness win for Calumet Farm, although the famous devil red and blue silks associated with the stable have long since passed into history. Calumet's previous Preakness winners include Triple Crown heroes Whirlaway and Citation.
"He was in a good spot early in the race. They were going slow up front and he was fine," said Joel Rosario, the jockey aboard Orb. "When I got to the half-mile pole, he had a hard time keeping up. I used my stick to try to get him going. He usually takes you there. He always runs hard. But today he never took off. He just steadied. Today was not his day."
"We haven't had a chance to cool him out yet and I've got to talk to Mr. Kelley," Lukas said. "But you know me, I like to rack them up in the big events. So I'll probably go."
Oxbow could have another rematch with Orb in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, a race that is also likely to attract Golden Soul and Revolutionary, the Kentucky Derby second- and third-place finishers, as well as Peter Pan winner Freedom Child.
Bred by Colts Neck Stables in Kentucky, Oxbow is a close relative of Paynter, last year's Haskell Invitational hero who riveted the nation by beating life-threatening colitis and laminitis. Supported by the votes of his many fans, Paynter earned both the Vox Populi Award and the NTRA Moment of the Year, for his protracted battle.
Both are by Awesome Again and out of full sisters to Hall of Famer Tiznow, the only two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic. Paynter is out of the mare Tizso, while Oxbow is out of her full sister Tizamazing. The mares are likewise full sisters to multiple Grade 2 star Budroyale, Grade 3 scorer Tizdubai and Grade 2-placed stakes winner Tizbud.
Tizamazing has also produced Grade 3-placed stakes winner Awesome Patriot, a full brother to Oxbow.
They Said It
PREAKNESS STAKES THEY SAID IT
MAY 18, 2013
"What a story this is. I'm happy for Gary (Stevens) and I'm just so happy for Mr. (Brad) Kelley. He's trying to revitalize Calumet, and now Calumet is back in a classic race. That's just very gratifying. I have great respect for the Phipps family and Shug (McGaughey), but I was telling one of your colleagues that I get paid to spoil dreams."
--Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas after spoiling Orb's Triple Crown hopes by saddling Oxbow to win Preakness 138 under fellow Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens
"Let me say, this I think I got a Hall of Fame ride. I think we can plan this thing, we can talk about it, we can talk about strategy. But once that gate is open, they have to make decisions. Gary made some great ones. He really -- I told him, if you get on the lead, get into that cruising speed and just let it happen. Actually, we thought that maybe that Goldencents and a couple of those other horses might show a little bit more speed and we would not inherit the lead as easily as we did today. Gary was smart enough. When he threw up the 1:13 and change, I knew we were in good shape. We weren't totally confident. But I knew the way this horse cruises and gets into stride, you could see how relaxed and how easy he was getting over that ground on the backside. I said, this isn't over by a long shot. We're going to be tough."
--Lukas praising Stevens' ride aboard Oxbow
"We talked about strategy and I didn't expect to be on the lead. In these classic races you don't give up anything you get for free. They gave me a free three-quarters of a mile today. I was smiling pretty good midway down the backside. I actually thought about Wayne (Lukas) up in the grandstand. I knew he would be looking at those fractions and be pleased with what he was seeing. I jumped on (Oxbow) at the quarter-pole and said, 'Let's go now and just try and last.' We did more than last today. When we pulled up he wasn't a tired horse."
--Stevens after winning his third Preakness victory
"This horse has such a high cruising speed that he'll fool you a little bit. I was very comfortable and he was very comfortable in the Kentucky Derby. When I hit the half-mile pole, the leader was out there a ways. Normandy Invasion came up outside of me, and that forced me to move possibly a bit earlier than I wanted. But when you're in the Kentucky Derby, you don't give anything up. You try to get away with what you can. I won't say it backfired on us, but I learned a heck of a lot about Oxbow, what he did the final eighth-mile when he was breathing fire a little bit. Everybody else caved in, he didn't. Had a heck of a time pulling him up after the race, and it showed me how much heart he had."
--Stevens on what he learned about Oxbow in the Kentucky Derby
"I thought he had the best day of the spring (on Friday). The gallop boy that gallop's him all the time was on him the same. And I said that is the best he ever looked. He just seemed like he was in the zone, relaxed, got over the track. He can get aggressive in the morning. He's not an easy horse to train at all. He's so aggressive. You think you're doing too much every single day with him, but the good ones sometimes do that."
--Lukas on Oxbow coming into the Preakness
"They're all special because they were all with a different client. That is the thing. The key, if you're training horses, try to win one every once in a while for a new guy. We've got a new guy in Brad Kelly at Calumet, and that is just the good economics of it. You give that guy that special moment to stand up there with his daughter and to know that he was watching at home and put Calumet, who we all know that name, back on the front pages of the racing publications is very special. I'm so happy for him just to have the opportunity to represent him."
--Lukas when asked to compare his Preakness triumph with Oxbow to the other five times he's won the second jewel of the Triple Crown
"The thing about it is you get up every day and look for that one that you maybe can do something. But as long as we've got something to work with, we're going to be around. I think that we're not through by a long way here. I feel like we can get up and maybe get another one someplace down the line. But that's what makes it so interesting. You have to have a passion for it. It's not a 9 to 5 job."
"Yes, yes, definitely. At 77, I do, yes. The first one, I thought I was going to win quite a few more. I won the first classic I ever ran in was Codex right here. I told my son, this is no big deal. We'll win a bunch of these, and then I went 10 years before I got another one. Bob's a good friend, and it meant a lot to me to have him come down all the way from where he was and congratulate me. I called him this week at home. He was on the fence maybe he'd even run here. And I said, 'Bob, get on an airplane and come back. You need to be here. We'll have some fun.' So what does he do? He comes back, wins the Black‑Eyed Susan, wins the Sprint. He didn't get this one, but he had a hell of a day."
--Lukas agreeing with trainer Bob Baffert's comment that he would appreciate winning this Preakness more than his first one
"Some of us in this great nation get up and get after it in the morning; others sleep in."
--Lukas when asked by press corps if he could delay Oxbow's 4:30 a.m. Sunday departure time to 5:30 a.m.
"I shared that record with a very special man in this industry in Sunny Fitzsimmons. And if I never broke it, I was proud of that. I know he meant so much to the Thoroughbred industry. I never knew him personally, but I thought that that was something I'm really proud of. I don't have it documented anywhere. You guys reminded me of it all week. I thought maybe we'd win another one, but to get it done, it's probably going to be on trivial pursuit in about five minutes, but that's it."
--Lukas on breaking the record for the most Triple Crown race wins
"Well, I enjoy it so much. I don't wake up every day trying to prove I can train a race horse anymore. When you're younger, you keep trying to prove yourself in this industry. But at this point in my career, I'm very comfortable with where we're at. I don't wake up and say, 'Gosh, I've got something to prove to you all that I can train a race horse.' I do it for the personal satisfaction of working with the horses and developing some young assistants. We've still got some guys coming through the ranks, and it's just a wonderful lifestyle. I mean, where in the hell can you get paid to ride out there? I ride on my saddle horse in beautiful weather four hours in the morning, go to the turf club, have lunch. Deal with great people. I mean, is this a great country or what?"
--Lukas on why he keeps training
"Well, I'll just say that my great friend Mike Smith, who is more like a brother than a friend to me, we've been through so much together over the years, watching what he has done since my retirement over the last seven years and to continue on as he has at a high level was a big inspiration for me. Just did an interview from a French television station as well, and watching Olivier Peslier do what he's done. I've ridden with him for so many years and watch him ride at the level he does, both of those guys gave me a lot of inspiration.
"I thought back to Lester Piggott and his comeback in the Breeders' Cup and what he did...I won't go where he was and came out of retirement and pulled off what he did with Royal Academy, but you don't forget what you're doing. You're only as good as the horses you ride and the people that you ride for. And I rode for what I consider to be one of the greatest trainers of all time today."
"I haven't had any doubt at all until this past three weeks. I went out from California to Keeneland, and only won three races during that short meet, which wasn't bad. It was one of the most competitive boutique meetings in the United States. So I was happy enough with my three wins there. But shifting my tack to Churchill Downs, I have not won a race since leaving Keeneland. It's been a month since I won my last race; granted, I haven't had a lot of opportunities in the right place.
"But Oxbow two weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby was one of my best finishes, a horse that really went out and performed for me. I thought maybe my business was lacking, maybe this was a mistake. I've been questioning myself, and when riders go through slumps, I don't care if you're 15-years old or 30-years old, you start changing your stirrups on your saddles and this and that. I told myself, you know what, if it's meant to be, it's not going to matter where your stirrups are, it's going to matter what horse you're riding.
"When I won on Skyring, a $50 horse just prior to the Preakness, you don't know what kind of boost that gave me going into the Preakness, and it was for Wayne Lukas. And I thought to myself, 'Man, this guy, it doesn't matter what the form looks like on a horse.' You go out there with confidence, and you can throw an upset. I went out on the turf course to be legged up on Oxbow, and I couldn't have had more confidence. After the pre-race warm-up, I was actually joking with Donna Brothers in the post period, and I said, 'Can I borrow that microphone and take it with me and interview Joel halfway through the race?' And she said you're not getting this microphone.
"But I was very relaxed, and very happy, and it's just funny how things go. But one race can really boost your spirits. Doesn't matter if you're 16 or 50."
--Stevens on whether or not he's had any doubts about coming out of retirement to ride again
"I'm disappointed. It was a great opportunity. We were 3-5 and we finished fourth. I would be disappointed any time you had this kind of opportunity and didn't get it done. This was quite a run for a couple of weeks. We'll pack it up and go back home and see what kind of horse we've got down the road and figure it out from there."
--trainer Shug McGaughey after Kentucky Derby hero and Preakness favorite Orb finished fourth
"I don't think two weeks had anything to do with it. Oxbow ran back in two weeks. Itsmyluckyday ran back in two weeks, Mylute ran back in two weeks. I just think he got himself in a position where he wasn't comfortable and then without the pace scenario in front of him; they really weren't spread out a little bit more than maybe I'd hoped. That probably affected him more than anything else.
"The pace was slower than I anticipated. I thought the pace would be quicker. I thought maybe they would speed it up a little bit but they didn't. I still thought we would close into it, but it just wasn't his day. He was just never real comfortable once he got down in there. I'm disappointed. I'll probably be way more disappointed tomorrow but I know the game. It is highs and lows, probably more lows than highs. We had a great run two weeks ago. My hat's off to Wayne to win his sixth Preakness. That's pretty remarkable."
"I'm very pleased with the way he ran. He ran his race. He simply just got beat by a horse that was trained perfectly by Wayne Lukas. We did run our race, but we just weren't lucky enough to win."
--trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. after Itsmyluckyday improved from 15th in the Kentucky Derby to second in the Preakness
"My horse ran awesome. The speed didn't develop the way I thought it would. I thought Oxbow would be third or fourth, then all of a sudden I look up and Bob Baffert's horse (Govenor Charlie) gets left and Oxbow was on the lead all by himself. I worried then about my horse, but he ran great."
--jockey John Velazquez, who piloted Itsmyluckyday
"My horse ran great. The pace was a disappointment up front. I thought there would be more speed; it didn't materialize. We were probably at the biggest disadvantage of all, coming from way back and being the widest in the race. We've got nothing to be ashamed of. I actually look at this like a missed opportunity because my horse ran a big race today."
--Tom Amoss, who saddled Mylute to third in the Preakness
"He was very sluggish out of the gate for the first quarter of a mile. Then he got going. This is a tough course. I was too far back to see who the leaders were. This was a tough pace to follow. But he ran great down the lane and closed well."
--jockey Rosie Napravnik describing her ride on Mylute
"I thought Kevin (Krigger) had him in a great spot and when the winner kicked there, we just couldn't keep up with him. I'm very proud of Kevin and the horse. We're going to be fine. We've got a bright future. Definitely, he belongs among these horses and we're going to be in good shape. We'll be OK. I'll have to talk to (co-owner) Glen (Sorgenstein) and we'll put our heads together and see what's next."
--trainer Doug O'Neill following Goldencents' fifth-placing in Preakness 138
"He had no excuses. It looked like he got over the track OK. He just didn't go on with it like he usually does."
--conditioner Al Stall Jr. after Departing ran a one-paced sixth in the Preakness
"I had a great trip. On the second turn, Orb was inside of me and we spurted away from him and got up to third. But he was just a little dull today. I don't know why. It seemed like he handled the track OK. But it was a little deep."
--jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. on his trip aboard Departing
"He just really struggled with the racetrack. His legs were going everywhere from the word 'go.' He just couldn't get a hold of it at all."
--Mike Smith, who had piloting duties on Lukas trainee and Preakness seventh Will Take Charge
"If they would have yelled "about-face" I would have won easy at the wire. My horse missed the break and never really was in the race. I'm happy for Gary (Stevens) and Wayne (Lukas); that's awesome."
--trainer Bob Baffert, whose Govenor Charlie finished eighth on the Preakness wire after a slow start
"(Gary) Stevens took the lead early, and I was just kind of sitting there. I felt like I had a lot of horse under me when we turned for home. But he just kind of flattened out in the stretch."
--Julien Leparoux, who rode Lukas' third Preakness 138 starter Titletown Five to a ninth- and last-place finish
Skyring springs 24-1 upset in Dixie
Fourth to Wise Dan last time out in the April 12 Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland, he and Optimizer were both flattering the Horse of the Year. Optimizer was coming off a second to Wise Dan in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day.
Skyring hustled from post 8 to secure the early lead and got away with steady splits of :24 2/5, :48 1/5 and 1:11 4/5 on the firm turf. Humble and Hungry, Optimizer and Howe Great were all forwardly placed. The 2-1 favorite Imagining, however, found himself rating further behind than might have been forecast after being a tad flat-footed at the break.
Given how well speed was playing on the Pimlico turf Saturday, with front-running scores by Pianist in the Grade 3 Gallorette and Redwood Kitten in the James W. Murphy, Skyring was sitting pretty as he cornered for home. He was still full of run in midstretch, spurting two lengths clear when reaching the mile mark in 1:35 3/5.
The only challenger to arrive on the premises was Willcox Inn, and Skyring found enough to parry his late thrust by a half-length. The winner completed the historic nine-furlong affair in 1:47 4/5, improving his scorecard to 20-4-3-2, $424,148.
"He went to the front easy enough," Stevens said, "and we were able to back things up and he just sprinted home. A very impressive performance."
Imagining's rider, Javier Castellano, said that the favorite never recovered from the start.
"He didn't break that sharp out of the gate," Castellano said. "That changed all the strategy because my horse is not a come-from-behind horse. He likes to be in the clear near the leaders. Unfortunately, he broke kind of slow today."
Skyring is a homebred, having been bred in the name of Brad Kelley's Bluegrass Hall before his acquisition of Calumet. He is out of the Seattle Slew mare Violet Lady, who is also responsible for Grade 2 winner Greenspring, Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Caballero Negro and the stakes-placed trio of Dyna Penny, Loow Key and Dressed to Kill.
Skyring's second dam, Grade 1 star Top Corsage, also factors as the ancestress of Grade 2 winner Doremifasollatido and Grade 3 victress Fortunate Damsel. He descends from the successful producer Rare Bouquet.
Summer Applause captures Allaire duPont Distaff
"I thought she ran a good race," said Sea Island's trainer, Shug McGaughey. "There wasn't any pace and she made a good run at her. I thought maybe we were going to get her at the head of the stretch, but it's a pretty nice filly that won."
"I liked the way she ran, but unfortunately we were second best today," concurred jockey Javier Castellano, who was aboard Sea Island. "She put in a good effort and I was satisfied with the way she did it."
Summer Applause made a name for herself last year while preparing for the Kentucky Oaks. After a pair of easy wins to close out her juvenile campaign, including a seven-length romp at Fair Grounds, the filly started 2012 with a runner-up effort in the Silverbulletday at that New Orleans venue. She got back on the winning track in the Rachel Alexandra, and made her final prep before the Oaks a head second in the Fair Grounds Oaks to eventual Kentucky Oaks heroine Believe You Can.
After a nice run to be fourth under the Twin Spires on the eve of the Kentucky Derby, Summer Applause wouldn't be seen again until January 26 at Sam Houston in Texas. She wound up sixth and last in the Houston Ladies Classic in her return from that near nine-month layoff. It also turned out to be her final race for Bret Calhoun, who had taken over training duties on the filly from Josie Carroll following her juvenile campaign.
Summer Applause made her initial start for new conditioner Chad Brown in the Top Flight Handicap in early March, scoring a 2 3/4-length win in that Aqueduct affair. The Kentucky-bred miss tried Grade 1 competition last out in the Apple Blossom Handicap, and reputed herself well with a fourth-place finish. She's now earned $587,406 to go along with her 11-5-2-0 career mark.
"She ran great. She was spotting everyone six pounds," Brown said. "I was worried about that when I was handicapping the race the last couple days. To really pull away like that and to run such a strong race against some nice fillies, giving weight, I'm really proud of her. We didn't know what the pace was going to be, so I left it up to Johnny."
Summer Applause, who RNAed for $82,000 as a Fasig-Tipton July Sale yearling, is out of the unraced Royal Academy mare Summer Exhibition, making her a half-sister to duel stakes-placed Big Easy.
Summer Exhibition is herself a daughter of stakes victress Dewan's Flag and counts as half-siblings Grade 2 hero Recoup the Cash, stakes scorer Up With the Flag and the dam of Grade 3-placed stakes winner Praise From Dixie.
Summer Applause's female family also includes Canadian Horses of the Year Victoria Park, Viceregal and Canadiana, as well as Canadian champion Northern Blossom.
Pianist turns in virtuoso performance in Gallorette
"We had two horses in the race, and the plan was for Mike to go to the lead," Brown said. "I thought the fractions were a little strong, but I just left it to the riders. I said, 'You just judge the pace.' I didn't give them any figures. I just left it to them. She looked great, although it looked like Samitar wasn't holding the track on the backside. Both horses were training fine coming into the race, so they both deserved a shot."
"I planned to put her on the lead," Smith said, "unless something happened at the break like yesterday with Emollient (who stumbled out of the gate) in the Black-Eyed Susan. She jumped away from the gate very well.
"Chad told me before the race that we could win this if we did something a little unusual. I guess a 46-second half was a little unusual. This is the first time I've ridden for Chad, and I plan to ride another five years, so I hope to do this again sometime."
Hard Not to Like's connections were happy with her effort, especially in view of her troubled break.
"I was quite proud of her," trainer Michael Matz said. "She stumbled pretty bad. We told Johnny (Velazquez) to get close to the pace, but the other horse got away from her a little bit."
"Unfortunately, I stumbled out of there, as I wanted to be in there closer to the front," Velazquez said. "We got up, recouped and she ran a great race."
Hard Not to Like was best of the rest by 1 1/4 lengths from Appealing Cat, who was the same margin ahead of the belated Samitar. Next came Charged Cotton, Embarr, Silver Screamer and Old Tune. Daydreamin Gracie, who ran fourth in the Allaire duPont, and Idle Talk were both withdrawn.
Pianist's resume now reads 10-5-1-1, $300,950, all on turf. A near-miss runner-up in her debut at Saratoga at two, the chestnut rolled to a 5 1/2-length maiden score in her belated reappearance at three. She sailed through her entry-level allowance condition two races later in August, and promptly wired her stakes premiere by 5 1/2 lengths in the September 20 Given Stakes at Belmont. Pianist subsequently disappointed when fourth as the odds-on choice in both the Valley View at Keeneland and the Stardusk at Aqueduct on November 21.
Freshened for her four-year-old campaign, Pianist returned with an allowance victory at Gulfstream Park on February 7, but tired to fifth in the March 16 Honey Fox when last seen.
Pianist was bred in Kentucky by Grapestock and sold for $100,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She is out of the winning Red Ransom mare Red Piano, who is a half-sister to multiple Grade 3-placed sire Stanislavsky. This is the family of Irish classic winner and co-champion miler Prince of Birds, Grade 2 victress Special Happening and Group 1 star Sudan. Pianist's fifth dam is Irish champion and noted matron *Glad Rags II, ancestress of last year's Belmont Stakes hero, Union Rags.
Sage Valley returns a winner in Maryland Sprint
Off as the slight 2-1 favorite, the winner paid $6.60, $4 and $2.80.
"We had a perfect post position and we had a perfect trip," Velazquez said. "I thought there was plenty of speed in the race and if I could sit just off the lead and make a run down the lane that would be perfect. He responded just the way a horse should."
"The race came up pretty tough," Rodriguez added. "I was looking for a race in New York, but I'm glad I came to this one. He ran great. He's a nice horse; he's lightly raced. He's had some issues so we have to take our time with him and he'll perform. Johnny (Velazquez) rode him nicely."
Hardened Wildcat, the 2-1 second choice, rallied from last to be a non-threatening second, 3 1/2 lengths better than the 5-2 Laurie's Rocket in third. Next under the wire came Warrioroftheroses, Immortal Eyes, Broad Rule, Manito and Action Andy. Candyman E and Poseidon's Warrior were scratched.
Sage Valley won his career debut at Charles Town in January 2012, taking a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight. Dropped in for a $50,000 tag in his second start, he was claimed by Dubb from his third-place finish over the Aqueduct inner track. His new connections never ran him for a tag again.
The dark bay colt proceeded to record a pair of thirds against entry-level optional claiming foes last summer before returning to the win column at Belmont in September. He followed that 1 1/2-length tally with an 8 3/4-length score in another optional claiming event and then rolled to a 6 3/4-length decision in his stakes bow, the November 9 Mr. Nasty at Aqueduct.
Sage Valley carried his form forward while returning from a 190-day layoff on Saturday.
Bred in Kentucky by Buck Pond Farm, Sage Valley is out of the multiple stakes-winning Crptoclearance mare Ashwood C C, a daughter of stakes winner Dylan's Crafty.
Open Water pours it on to take Everett
Open Water paid $21.40, $6.20 and $3.20 as the 9-1 second longest shot on the board. Lady of Fifty, the 3-5 favorite, came next and had 4 1/2 lengths to spare over I Dazzle, while Maker or Breaker filled out the superfecta. Sister Kate and Lady Aspen completed the order under the wire after More Chocolate was scratched.
"She got in the gate and went to kicking," said I Dazzle's rider, Garrett Gomez. "She got her left rear leg caught up a little bit on the side. It was on a pad and she wasn't scrambling, so I don't think it affected her performance."
Open Water made a splash in her career openers, taking her debut by five lengths and then posting a 10 1/2-length optional claiming score for then trainer Oscar Modica while going a mile in both cases on Turfway Park's synthetic Polytrack.
Subsequently privately purchased and transferred to Guillot, the Kentucky-bred miss found herself on the West Coast making her stakes bow in the Las Virgenes just a month later. Open Water finished third on that occasion in her dirt debut before throwing in a subpar seventh in the Hollywood Oaks next out. Placings in the San Clemente Handicap and Del Mar Oaks followed, then the dark bay posted close fifths in both the Garden City when shipping to Belmont Park last September and Autumn Miss in her return to California in October.
Open Water closed out 2012 with a runner-up effort in the Bayakoa Handicap on December 8 and entered the Everett off a sixth-place run in the La Canada in her four-year-old bow on January 20. She's now accumulated $270,750 in career earnings to go along with her 14-3-2-3 mark.
"She loves this track, that's why I gave her a little freshening after Santa Anita," Guillot explained. "She danced every dance last year and she was always the bridesmaid, never the bride. She only got back April 1.
"She's got a great pedigree. Maybe she's good enough to be a Southern Equine broodmare. She's a Grade 2 winner now and her second dam is Flanders. I think she can go a mile and one-eighth and I'll probably run her back in the (Grade 1) Vanity (Handicap on June 15)."
Bred by Overbrook Farm, Open Water is a granddaughter of multiple Grade 1-winning champion Flanders being out of the A.P. Indy mare Biscayne Bay. Her dam is a half-sister to champion and black-type producer Surfside as well as Grade 2 victor Battle Plan.
Open Water's fourth dam is the Grade 3-scoring Secretariat mare Cinegita, and farther back this female family has also produced Broodmare of the Year Ace Card and classic-winning Horse of the Year One Count.
Glorious View wires Vagrancy Handicap
Laue Ranch's Glorious View made her stakes debut an impressive one as she wired the field in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park.
"She showed a lot of gameness today," trainer Bill Mott said. "She had won her last few races fairly easily, and that's a pretty nice filly who ran up to her in the stretch."
The four-year-old filly went off as the 8-5 favorite despite never running against stakes company, much less graded-stakes competition. It took Glorious View nine starts before she was able to break her maiden, which was done over Aqueduct's inner track on February 15. She went on to win her next two starts in an allowance, also over Aqueduct's inner track, and an optional claiming race over Aqueduct's main track just last month.
Glorious View posted solid fractions of :22 and :45 in her gate-to wire score. The bay came under light coaxing approaching the quarter-pole and was challenged in the stretch by Fantasy of Flight, but Glorious View dug in gamely to prevail by a half-length.
"I knew there was going to be a lot of speed in the race," jockey Junior Alvarado said. "My filly has speed but she can stalk, too. Billy left it up to me. She broke really sharp and pretty much took me around the whole way. When I asked her to run, she kept digging in.
"She tries so hard, it makes things a lot easier for me," Alvarado added. "She settled for me during the first part of the race. I was never worried because she was never bothered by the horse outside her down the backstretch. She was very relaxed. And at the end, I just put her closer to (Fantasy of Flight), and she kept fighting. She would never let that other horse go by."
Glorious View crossed the wire in 1:15 4/5 for the 6 1/2-furlong contest over the fast main track and returned $5.40, $3.80 and $2.90 to her supporters. The daughter of Pleasant Tap now has a record that stands at 12-4-4-1 and $303,190 in lifetime earnings.
Fantasy of Flight finished second and Withgreatpleasure crossed the wire in third. Miss d'Oro, Spectacular Sky and Irish Exchange rounded out the order of finish.
Glorious View was bred in Kentucky by Brant Laue and is out of the stakes-winning Langfuhr mare Cayuga's Waters, making her a half-sister to stakes victress Cascadilla Falls. Her female family also includes Breeders' Cup Classic-winning sire Skywalker and stakes victor Sweet Envoy.
Za Approval finishes fast in Red Bank
Za Approval started making headway along the inside on the final bend, but he was still eighth, about six lengths back, as Tune Me In reached the three-quarters mark in 1:10 3/5. The gray responded to the urgings of Bravo after straightening for home, accelerating quickly through traffic, and powered past rivals late to win going away.
The five-year-old completed a mile in 1:34 2/5 on the firm turf.
"It's really cool to ride an old pro like this horse," Bravo said. "He just gave me the impression that he was in control the whole time. I was just waiting for a place to go and he did the rest."
Za Approval paid $3.80, $3 and $2.80.
Tune Me In, the 18-1 seventh choice, saved second by a nose over Bad Debt, who closed fast at 38-1. It was another half-length back to fourth-placer Sleepless Knight, who was followed by Two Notch Road, Admiral Perry, Mezzano, Monument Hill, Finale, Hobbs and Javerre. Utley was scratched and main-track only Ruler on Ice stayed in the barn.
A Kentucky-bred son of Ghostzapper, Za Approval is out of the winning With Approval mare Win Approval, which makes him a half-brother to 2006 champion turf male Miesque's Approval and the Grade 2-winning Revved Up.
The gelding broke his maiden in September 2011 and spent all of 2012 in the allowance ranks, winning twice at Gulfstream and Belmont Park. After a third allowance score at Gulfstream on January 5, he faced stakes company for the first time in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf in late February, where he finished a solid fourth, two lengths behind Data Link.
Za Approval followed with a hard-charging triumph in the aforementioned Grade 3 Appleton and has now earned $302,165 from a 13-6-3-0 career mark.
Zee Bros runs rivals off their feet in Chick Lang
The 5-2 second choice, Zee Bros returned $7.40, $5 and $4.20.
The order of finish was completed by City of Weston, Undrafted, Res Judicata, Perilous Indian, Clawback and Tour Guide.
Runner-up in his Santa Anita debut on February 9, Zee Bros rebounded to impressively take a seven-furlong maiden over the same track the following month. Last time, the Brother Derek colt set a fast pace in the April 27 Derby Trial, but weakened to sixth in the final furlong of that one-mile test. His career earnings now stand at $106,814.
"His Derby Trial, he went real fast, the track was off and tiring," Baffert said. "He got a lot out of it and we expected him to run a big race today."
Bred in Kentucky by Eico Stable, Zee Bros was a $270,000 OBS April juvenile purchase. He was produced by the Montbrook mare Nyanza, a half-sister to multiple stakes-winning produceer Sweet Nanette. Zee Bros' third dam was Grade 3 winner Sweet Saree.
The run into the clubhouse turn was marred when Yougotthatgoinforu, a 44-1 longshot, proved difficult for jockey Emilio Flores to restrain, clipped heels with a rival and unseated Flores. Yougotthatgoinforu impeded Wry Me in the process, and the latter was later pulled up. Also failing to finish was Red Wings, who bobbled entering the first turn and was pulled up.
Shining Copper finished second, three lengths clear of 2-1 favorite Notacatbutallama. English Minister, China Holiday, Heat Press and Honour the Vow were the last to cross the finish line. Special Skills was withdrawn.
Redwood Kitten placed in two of his first four starts, and then broke his maiden for a $65,000 claiming tag at Gulfstream Park in December. Third in a $100,000 stakes named for his sire on January 20, Redwood Kitten came back to finish second to future Grade 3 winner Black Onyx in an allowance, and was most recently third in the Transylvania at Keeneland. His record now stands at 9-2-2-3, $122,800.
A homebred foaled in Illinois, Redwood Kitten is a full brother to multiple stakes winner Artemus Kitten and the stakes-winning Lisa's Kitten. All were produced by the Woodman mare Chianti Red.
This extended family is responsible for French champion and noted sire Caerleon, and Grade 1 winners Scan and Vision. Redwood Kitten's fifth dam was Regal Gleam, the champion juvenile filly of 1966.
Owned by Tim O'Donohue and trained by John Robb, Debt Ceiling is now undefeated in two starts with earnings of $66,660. The son of Discreet Cat was also an impressive 4 1/2-length winner of his debut at Laurel on March 30 going 4 1/2 furlongs.
"We'll go back to Laurel after this. We were just pointing to this race. There aren't a lot of spots for him right now," Robb said. "His first race, he was not really ready and we didn't expect him to run as well as he did. But he was ready for this one."
Bred in Kentucky by Brandywine Farm, Debt Ceiling was a $27,000 Keeneland September yearling. He was produced by the stakes-winning Top Marks, a daughter of Marquetry, and is a half-brother to the stakes-placed Dean's List. This family has yielded Grade 1 winner West Coast Scout and Grade 2 victor Mountain Cat.
"I picked him out at Keeneland and I really liked his eye," O'Donohue said. "It was like the eye of a tiger and he was very professional. He was the total package and his family -- the runners are very precocious."
Farhh thrashes rivals in Lockinge
Having had a chip removed from his fetlock after finishing runner-up in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp in September, Godolphin's Farhh returned to a Frankel-free world to blitz his rivals at Newbury Saturday and earn a belated first Group 1 success in the Lockinge Stakes. Sent off the 10-3 second choice as all the money was for Ballydoyle's Declaration of War, the bay was rank early behind the pacesetters but when let loose by Silvestre de Sousa passing the quarter-pole sprinted clear for a four-length success from the 80-1 outsider Sovereign Debt.
"He won really well, which surprised me as Saeed has had to tiptoe very quietly with him," Racing Manager Simon Crisford commented. "This is fantastic, particularly after the problems we've had in the past few weeks and a major boost to the stable."
Farhh thus emerged as a leading candidate for the June 18 Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, where he would clash with champion Animal Kingdom.
Farhh only got as far as the starting stalls in his first encounter with Frankel at Doncaster's St Leger meeting in September 2010, injuring himself in the gates ahead of the seven-furlong conditions race that first signposted the future Juddmonte giant's considerable prowess. While his nemesis struck gold on several occasions, Godolphin's bay stayed under the radar and he boasted just two handicap successes to his tally at the time of Sir Henry Cecil's peerless campaigner's streak to glory in this race 12 months ago.
A luckless third in the Prince of Wales's at Royal Ascot in June was the first showcasing of Farhh's raw talent, and that was quickly followed by a second in the Eclipse at Sandown before he met with Frankel again in the Sussex at the start of August. Six lengths adrift there, he was a further length behind as that rival sauntered to a career-best in York's Juddmonte International later that month before going down by a head to Moonlight Cloud in what amounted to a match in the Prix du Moulin in September.
Nurtured back from his injury after that race, he was expected to be ring-rusty here, but there were no signs of that as he turned on the pace despite having over-raced initially as Declaration of War's rabbit Reply and Penitent fought for the lead. Dominating from the quarter-pole as his chief market rivals floundered around him, he hit the line strongly to provide bin Suroor with a fifth renewal of a race that helped cement his reputation during the operation's earlier days.
"We were slightly concerned about the trip today, but he did it so well maybe we will think about the Queen Anne Stakes rather than the (June 19) Prince of Wales's Stakes," Crisford said. "We'll keep both options open and see what Sheikh Mohammed wants to do. He deserved it, having kept on finishing second to the best horse of all time last year."
Sovereign Debt's trainer Michael Bell was delighted with the effort of the surprise package of the race, who was not performing out of turn judged on what he had shown on the gallops.
"His work at home has always shown he is more a 120 horse than a 110, so I wasn't surprised to see him run well," he told PA Sport. "He is a very exciting horse to have. He's in the Queen Anne at Ascot, which I am sure the owner will be keen to have a look at."
Joseph Allen's lightly-raced colorbearer Declaration of War arrived at Newbury with serious confidence behind him judged by the betting move for him at 5-4, but could find little in the way of acceleration when asked by Joseph O'Brien before the final quarter, and trailed in a disappointing fifth.
Nipissing returns to Woodbine for Selene
Chiefswood Stable homebred Nipissing, undefeated through four starts as a juvenile at Woodbine, makes her homecoming in Sunday's Grade 3, C$150,000 Selene back at that Toronto track.
Trained by Rachel Halden, the bay daughter of Niigon was a force to be reckoned with in 2012 winning all four starts, including stakes scores in the Princess Elizabeth and South Ocean, by a combined 10 lengths under regular rider Steve Bahen. Nipissing wintered in Florida at Palm Meadows and made her three-year-old debut on April 6 in the Ashland, finishing a solid sixth behind runaway winner Emollient. Halden has breezed the long-striding filly four times since returning to Woodbine preparing for the 1 1/6-mile Polytrack affair.
"She's in great shape. I'm really happy with her coming up to this race," Halden said. "She's a special filly. There's no question. She does everything so easy."
Despite being defeated 11 1/2-lengths in the Ashland, it's worth noting that Emollient won the prestigious race by nine lengths over Tuttipaesi. Only a nose, a neck, a length and another neck separated the fillies that finished third through seventh.
"I thought it was a very solid effort," Halden noted. "In an ideal world, I wouldn't come back in a Grade 1 off a layoff, but she'd run through all her conditions as a two-year-old and I was limited in where I could run her. The Ashland was on her proven surface and distance, so it was hard not to do it when I needed to get a race into her."
Based on the sharp works since returning to Woodbine, including a bullet five-eighths effort in 1:00 2/5 on May 7, it appears that Nipissing is relishing her return to Woodbine's Polytrack.
"It was a tough race but she's come out of it very well and moved forward off the race," said Halden. "She's worked very strong here and I feel good about where she's at going into this race. She'd always thrown solid works here last year and she's doing the same this year."
The long term goal for Nipissing is the C$500,000 Woodbine Oaks on June 9, though a try at the $1 million Queen's Plate on July 7 isn't out of the question. Halden believes Nipissing will only get better the farther she goes.
"This filly, she just acts like she wants to go further anyway. She gallops out strong and always seems to be looking for more ground," Halden explained. "The good thing about this filly is that in the afternoon she will relax and she's very rateable."
Nipissing has hooked a tough field in her homecoming that includes Grade 2 victress Spring Venture and a host of well-bred fillies on the improve. Last out, Spring Venture finished a non-threatening eighth in the Ashland. Patrick Husbands has the call aboard the Mark Casse trainee for the Selene.
Both Nipissing and Spring Venture will carry 124 pounds on Sunday, while the remainder of the eight-horse field carries 117 pounds.
Seyyed M. Nilforushan's Unusual Hottie (Unusual Heat) captured her first stakes victory in Saturday's $100,500 Fran's Valentine at Hollywood Park against state-breds. The four-year-old filly stalked the pace inside, came out for room in upper stretch and gained the lead late to prevail by three-quarters of a length. The Jeff Mullins trainee covered one mile in 1:34 1/5 over the firm turf with Joe Talamo aboard. "Man, she sure is sweet to ride," Talamo praised his mount. "Everything went perfect. I saved all the ground, swung out and she just took off. I could see the horse outside me starting to get out on the turn, so it was easy to get through." The bay was entering in here off an optional claiming win over this course last month. "I thought she needed her last race, but she won anyway," Mullins said. "We were pointing for this race and didn't want to empty the tank. This was her second race in three weeks, so she'll probably get a little rest now." Added her owner, "This filly had a severe case of pneumonia as a yearling. We didn't know if she was going to make it. After last year, she was drawn out and tired, so we thought we'd send her to the farm for a breather and some spoiling." Unusual Hottie now has a career line which reads 13-6-3-2, $289,498...
Spendthrift Farm LLC's Treasured Up (Medaglia d'Oro) ran down the leader just before the wire to win by a head in Saturday's $64,652 Keertana Stakes at Churchill Downs for her first stakes victory. The Al Stall Jr. charge tucked in to save ground, responded when roused with three furlongs to go, came five wide and got up in the final yards. With Shaun Bridgmohan in the saddle, the four-year-old filly covered 1 3/8 miles in 2:15 over the firm turf. The dark bay won an optional claimer back in March over Fair Ground's turf course and was exiting a third-place finish in an allowance race over Keeneland's course just last month. With Saturday's stakes score, Treasured Up boosted her bankroll to $168,533 from a 12-4-1-3 line...
Samuel H. Rogers Jr.'s homebred Close It Out (Closing Argument) was much the best as the 3-5 favorite in the $55,000 Champali Stakes at Calder on Saturday. The Steve Towne pupil settled after being bothered at the start, rallied off the rail to take over inside the eighth-pole and then drew away in the six-furlong contest over the fast main track. The five-year-old gelding stopped the clock in 1:11 for a 4 1/2-length win. The bay was exiting a fourth-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (G3) back on February 9 and, with Saturday's score, captured his third stakes victory. Close It Out now has a career mark of 28-7-5-8, $368,361...
Italy's racing crisis serves as a grim backdrop to Sunday's renewal of the Derby Italiano (Ity-G2), but classic glory remains as prized as ever, and for a brief period the connections of the contenders can suspend reality. In the absence of a real poster boy from the domestic scene in the mold of Rakti, Worthadd and Crackerjack King, this edition has a wide-open feel. Re-opposing after filling the first three places in the Capannelle's April 28 Premio Parioli respectively, Best Tango (Mujahid), Fairy Nayef (Nayef) and Lodovico Il Moro (Shamardal) have stamina to prove over this additional three-furlong trip with the pedigree evidence strongest in support of the runner-up. Scuderia Blueberry's homebred will have more time to distribute his staying power more evenly here, having attempted to draw the sting from pacier rivals from the front in the country's equivalent of the Two Thousand Guineas. The pick of the Stefano Botti trio may be Scuderia Effevi's Celticus (Stroll), who had three of Sunday's rivals --Demeteor (Mujahid), Notti Magiche (Montjeu) and Wish Come True (Aussie Rules) -- back in second, third and fourth respectively in the Premio Emanuele Filiberto over 10 furlongs here April 21, while the British invader Boite (Authorized) warrants respect from the Peter Chapple-Hyam yard, successful twice in this contest. Eledy Srl's half-brother to the 2010 Derby Italiano runner-up Ansiei won a decent 10-furlong maiden at Pontefract at the beginning of this month and is out to avenge his sibling's short-head defeat at the hands of the aforementioned Worthadd...
Ciao Bella Luna (Tribal Rule) seeks to validate her winning run in the Beaumont (G2) at Keeneland on April 14 when lining up against five rivals Sunday in the $70,000 Railbird going seven furlongs at Hollywood Park. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee was sent off at 7-1 in the Beaumont following a seven-place effort in the China Doll on Santa Anita's turf in early March. The bay miss opened her career with a pair of wins at Golden Gate Fields before making her juvenile finale a runner-up placing in the Golden Gate Debutante last fall. Her only try on a conventional dirt course resulted in a well-beaten ninth in the Silverbulletday in her sophomore bow on January 19 at Fair Grounds, and Ciao Bella Luna seemed to relish the return to a synthetic surface in the Beaumont. Rafael Bejarano has the call on the sophomore filly as she faces Hail Mary (Old Topper), a romping 9 3/4-length winner of the Warren's Thoroughbreds on Gold Rush Day, and Santa Anita Oaks (G1) runner-up Iotapa (Afleet Alex)...
Across the country at Belmont Park on Sunday, Beaumont fourth-placer Fearless Jacq (Soviet Star) heads an eight-filly field entered in the $85,000 Miss Otis at six furlongs on Big Sandy's inner turf. Fearless Jacq was trying a synthetic track for the first time in the Beaumont after competing on turf in her prior four races. Among her main competition on Sunday are Exchange Cat (Exchange Rate), who was runner-up while making her stakes bow in the one-mile Tweedside on Belmont's grass last out; Coarsegold (Giant's Causeway), placed first in the Secret Grace after running second in the Gulfstream contest on March 31; and Funfair (More Than Ready), who will be returning to turf and competition following an unplaced synthetic try in a Presque Isle Downs stakes when last seen in late September...
Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, Kentucky, will host "Calvin Borel Day at Old Friends" on Monday and fans will have the opportunity to meet the three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey who was recently elected to Racing's Hall of Fame. Borel will be available to sign autographs and take pictures with fans from 1-4 p.m. (EDT). He also will visit with Ready's Rocket, who was retired to Old Friends last year. Ready's Rocket won 11 races at Churchill Downs, which is more than any other horse since 1991, when detailed information was gathered by Equibase. Borel was aboard for 10 of those triumphs. "He's the kind of horse that made me," Borel said. "He was consistent and horses that last that long are the ones that make you. They're the ones that are going to win for you every couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to seeing him again." Overall, Ready's Rocket won 20 of his 74 starts and earned $261,636. For more information on "Calvin Borel Day at Old Friends," or to RSVP, call Old Friends at 502-863-1775 or visit oldfriendsequine.org.
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