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Honor Code cruises in Aqueduct comeback

Honor Code looks primed to regain his place in the big leagues (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Onetime Kentucky Derby hopeful Honor Code returned from an eight-month layoff to win Saturday's 6TH race at Aqueduct in style. Under supremely confident handling by Javier Castellano, the 9-5 favorite bided his time far off the early pace in the 6 1/2-furlong dash, closed the gap easily entering the stretch, and coasted past Maleeh to get up cozily in the final strides.

Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for Lane's End Racing and breeder Dell Ridge Farm, Honor Code was sidelined by a suspensory injury in March. The blueblood son of A. P. Indy and the Storm Cat mare Serena's Cat first commanded attention with a scintillating, last-to-first debut at Saratoga as a juvenile. A near-miss runner-up next time in the Champagne, Honor Code stretched out successfully to 1 1/8 miles in last November's Remsen, outdueling Cairo Prince by a nose.

Various physical issues subsequently blighted his road to the Kentucky Derby. After the Remsen, Honor Code had surgery to remove an undescended testicle. He then bruised his hind ankles in training at Payson Park, causing him to miss his intended target in the Fountain of Youth. McGaughey switched him to Gulfstream Park, where he resumed training and made his sophomore bow in a March 12 allowance. No match for the razor-sharp Social Inclusion that day, Honor Code was a distant second, 10 lengths behind a track-record time of 1:40.97 for 1 1/16 miles.

Honor Code cut quite a figure in the paddock (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Although Honor Code initially appeared fine after his worst loss, he was soon after diagnosed with a "slight tear" to the upper suspensory in his right hind leg. He did not return to the worktab for six months, and posted his first breeze back at Fair Hill September 19. The strapping dark bay rejoined McGaughey's string at Belmont Park in October, and was obviously ready to go here.

Near the back of the pack early in the allowance sprint, Honor Code had about 10 lengths to make up on pacesetter Royal Currier, who sped through fractions of :22 1/5 and :45 1/5 while prompted by Green Gratto.

Honor Code simply cruised up behind the main body of the field in the stretch, only needing a seam to deliver the knockout punch. Meanwhile, Maleeh found room on the inside to spurt clear, but Honor Code finally got a split and reeled him in under wraps. He stopped the clock in 1:17 1/5 and paid $5.70 to win. Honor Code's mark now stands at 5-3-2-0, $442,600.

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Irad Ortiz Jr. to compete in Hong Kong's International Jockeys' Championship

Irad Ortiz Jr. will face such aces as Ryan Moore and Joao Moreira (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
The 2014 International Jockeys' Championship takes place at Happy Valley racecourse on December 10, when 12 of the world's elite riders will compete for a share of the HK$800,000 purse. 

A first-prize of HK$500,000 makes Hong Kong's IJC among the most lucrative competitions of its kind in the world and the four-race contest annually attracts superstars from around the globe. Second place is worth HK$200,000 and third place HK$100,000.

For this year's IJC, the Hong Kong Jockey Club has again assembled a stellar line-up of international riders. Three-time British champion jockey and Group 1 ace Ryan Moore leads the standings for the inaugural Longines World's Best Jockey award. He heads to Happy Valley having bagged 15 Group 1 wins in seven countries so far this year. 

Richard Hughes recently completed a hat-trick of champion jockey titles in Britain; Christophe Soumillon is on the cusp of his seventh title in France; Pat Smullen was crowned Ireland's champion for the seventh time this year; New Zealand's James McDonald took the Sydney premiership last season and has twice won the title in his homeland; and S'Manga Khumalo is South Africa's reigning champion jockey. 

From North America, Irad Ortiz Jr. is one of that continent's outstanding young talents. Not only was he crowned leading rider at Belmont's fall meeting this year, but the Puerto Rican also notched a first Breeders' Cup success earlier this month. Japan's two-time champion jockey Yuichi Fukunaga is a man with an international Group 1 pedigree, as is Australia's Kerrin McEvoy, the reigning IJC champion, who won the Melbourne Premiership in 2012/2013 and is one for the big occasions.

"Once again the Longines IJC has attracted an exceptional array of talent from around the world -- this is a line-up of champions. The consistently high quality of participants, year on year, is testament to the international importance of this event," said William A. Nader, the Hong Kong Jockey Club's executive director of racing.

"This competition has a long tradition of showcasing great riders and this year we have nine of the very best overseas jockeys, all in exceptional form, who will come here and take on three of Hong Kong's very own. That trio will likely include the outstanding pair of Zac Purton and Joao Moreira, two of world racing's finest talents. It will be exciting; it will be thrilling; the atmosphere at Happy Valley will be electric."    

Purton is set to take his place thanks to his status as the reigning Hong Kong champion jockey. The brilliant Australian became only the second rider ever to accumulate a century of winners in a Hong Kong season when winning the title for the first time in July. Also likely to line up is the Brazilian sensation Joao Moreira who seems likely to qualify as the current Hong Kong Premiership leader. Moreira is a four-time Singapore champion jockey and was runner-up to Purton in last season's title race.

The final spot is open to Hong Kong's leading homegrown jockey (a graduate of the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Apprentice Jockeys' School) according to the standings on November 26. That looks like being Vincent Ho whose 14 wins for the season so far are five more than his nearest local rivals.

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Nellie Cashman brings confidence-building win into Cardinal

Nellie Cashman boasts just one stakes win thus far in her career (Colonial Downs/Coady Photography)

Maryland-based filly Nellie Cashman completed a promising sophomore season with a disappointing run in last fall's Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs, but she climbed aboard a van Friday morning for a return trip under the Twin Spires and a bid to make amends for that performance.

It's been an unusual four-year-old season for the Mineshaft filly, but Nellie Cashman comes into Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Cardinal Handicap with some confidence following her first win in five 2014 tries. Trainer Francis "Trey" Abbott III, who conditions the filly at Maryland's Fair Hill Training Center, believes his filly has finally hit her best stride following a slow start on the season.

"After the Mrs. Revere she got 40 days off on the farm down in Ocala," Abbott explained. "The idea was that she was going to fill out and get bigger and stronger, and she did. But she was in love with the farm life. So when we brought her back she would kind of sulk a little bit and her head wasn't in the game for the first part of the season."

Nellie Cashman ran sixth in the 2013 Mrs. Revere, but didn't compete again until an allowance race at Pimlico in late April. After three losses to start the year, she ran an encouraging third in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga, and then followed that outing with an easy win under regular rider Forest Boyce in a September 26 turf allowance at Laurel Park.

"I made the decision to run her up at Saratoga because her body of work progressively through the year has gotten stronger and stronger," Abbott noted. "I wanted to get her a little confidence-builder at Laurel, and thankfully all of that worked out. She's coming into this really well and I'm really happy with her."

Nellie Cashman's career record of 3-4-4 in 16 starts is probably a bit stronger than it appears. She won the 2013 Grade 3 Virginia Oaks at the now-shuttered Colonial Downs and actually finished first in her next outing in Saratoga's Grade 2 Lake Placid, but was disqualified and placed third in that contest. The dark bay lass was a solid runner-up in Keeneland's Grade 3 Valley View before her Mrs. Revere effort, where she encountered some traffic woes at the top of the stretch.

Abbott was optimistic about Nellie Cashman's chances prior to his last visit to Louisville, and appears to be more so this time around. She could even have a small advantage in that she has continued to train at Fair Hill, while Churchill-based runners have stayed in their barns as the frozen racetrack was closed for training on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and two days of racing were lost to this week's uncommon winter blast in Louisville.

"It's chilly up here, as well, but we've got the Tapeta surface up here, so we haven't missed any training," Abbott said. "I'm slowly moving everything down to Florida, so this filly on Sunday is headed straight to Florida. She's going to get a little campaign down in Florida, so I've been trying to keep her fresh and happy."

With the lessons of last year's winter break for Nellie Cashman in mind, Abbott will keep her busy this time around during her time in Florida.

"No, she will not be getting a farm rest," Abbott smiled. "I've got two races picked out for her down in Florida.

"She's a big filly -- she's very big. And I haven't been hard on her. I've been conservative in hopes that next year will be her big year."

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Edwards continues role as Eclipse Awards host

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced Friday that sports broadcaster Jeannine Edwards of ESPN and ABC will host the 44th Annual Eclipse Awards presented by Daily Racing Form, Breeders' Cup and The Stronach Group. The Eclipse Awards, which honors the 2014 champions of Thoroughbred racing, will be held January 17, at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. It will be the fourth consecutive year Edwards has emceed the ceremony.

"It is an absolute privilege to once again be hosting the Eclipse Awards," Edwards said. "It's a night unlike any other on the racing calendar -- glitzy, suspenseful, and the perfect setting to soak in the accomplishments of so many talented individuals, both two- and four-legged. I'm truly honored to be back, and along with the rest of the crowd can't wait to revisit a year's worth of memorable moments."

Edwards joined ESPN in 1995, initially working exclusively on Thoroughbred racing. Since then she's worked the sidelines for college football and college basketball, in addition to reporting on various news and stories for SportsCenter.

In 2009, Edwards was part of the broadcast team that won an Eclipse Award for the Belmont Stakes telecast on ABC, as well as an Emmy nomination for the Breeders' Cup on ESPN. That same team won a second Eclipse Award and a second Emmy nomination for the 2010 Breeders' Cup telecast. Edwards has also been consistently named as one of the top 10 female sportscasters by several media outlets.

A native of Tenafly, New Jersey, Edwards spent 10 years on the racetrack as an exercise rider, apprentice jockey and trainer of Thoroughbred racehorses in New York and New Jersey before initially getting into television in 1994 as an in-house TV host at racetracks in Maryland.

"Jeannine always brings both a sharp wit and a sincere respect for horse racing to her hosting duties," NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop said. "She is a professional who knows how to set the right tone for a prestigious occasion like the Eclipse Awards."

Eclipse Awards tickets are available for $400 each or $4,000 for a table of 10. A block of rooms have been reserved at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa, located on the ocean and only a short distance from Gulfstream Park. For ticket purchases and room reservations, please contact Michele Ravencraft of the NTRA at, or call (859) 422-2657.

The "black-tie optional" Eclipse Awards highlight a full weekend of events, several of which will be tied to charitable causes. A Friday night, January 16, party in the Gulfstream Park paddock benefitting Gulfstream Thoroughbred Aftercare will have a "Havana Nights" theme. Saturday, January 17, is Sunshine Millions at Gulfstream with five major stakes races for Florida-breds cumulatively worth more than $1 million. Sunday, January 18, features a "First Chance/Last Chance" qualifier for the National Handicapping Championship.

Eclipse Awards voting is conducted by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB), the NTRA and Daily Racing Form. The Eclipse Awards ceremony is produced by the NTRA.

The Eclipse Awards are named after the great 18th-century racehorse and foundation sire Eclipse, who began racing at age five and was undefeated in 18 starts, including eight walkovers. Eclipse sired the winners of 344 races, including three Epsom Derbies.

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Santa Anita unveils five finalists for Woolf Award

Santa Anita Park has announced five finalists for the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, with the winner to be announced in February following a vote of jockeys nationwide.

Veteran jockeys James Graham, Mike Luzzi, Leslie Mawing, Corey Nakatani and the recently retired Rosie Napravnik are the 2015 finalists for the trophy that has been presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950.

One of the most prestigious awards in all of racing, the Woolf Award is presented to a different jockey each year and it recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing. The winner's trophy is a replica of the life-sized statue of legendary jockey George Woolf, which adorns Santa Anita's Paddock Gardens area.

Woolf, who died following a spill on Santa Anita's Club House turn on January 3, 1946, was regarded as one of the top big-money jockeys of his era. Known affectionately as "The Iceman," he was revered by his colleagues, members of the media and fans across America as a fierce competitor and consummate professional who was at his best when the stakes were highest.

The 2015 Woolf ballot features five highly regarded riders who have plied their trade on both racing's biggest and smaller stages with honor and distinction.

A 35-year-old native of Dublin, Ireland, Graham has established himself as one of the top jockeys in the Midwest. A two-time leading rider (2011 & 2014) at Arlington, he has consistently been among the leaders at that Chicago track dating back to 2004.

America's Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey in 1988, Luzzi has enjoyed a highly successful career and through November 19, has ridden 3,420 winners. A 45-year-old native of Wilmington, Delaware, the veteran rider grew up near Delaware Park and was raised in part by his grandfather, legendary trainer Buddy Raines. Two of Luzzi's biggest early stakes winners were trained by Raines, as Timely Warning took both the 1991 Maryland Million Classic at Pimlico and the Grade 1 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park. A regular on the New York Racing Association (NYRA) circuit since 1994, the jockey is a two-time winner (1994 & 2001) of the prestigious Mike Venezia Memorial Award, an honor given annually to a New York-based jockey who exemplifies extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship.

Although a native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Mawing became a jockey in the United States, breaking his maiden at age 20 at Les Boise Park in Boise, Idaho, on June 19, 1994. Currently ensconced at Golden Gate Fields near San Francisco, he has become a force to be reckoned with at Emerald Downs near Seattle and was that track's leading rider in both 2011 and 2014.

Considered one of America's top jockeys for the past 25 years, Nakatani has ridden with a combination of intense desire and God-given talent en route to multiple riding titles and 10 Breeders' Cup wins. Born in Covina, California, on October 21, 1970, Nakatani, who had no previous racetrack background, began working with horses at age 16 and broke his maiden with his very first mount at Agua Caliente, Mexico, in April 1988.

Following her win aboard the Steve Asmussen-trained Untapable in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on October 31, riding sensation Napravnik stunned the racing world by announcing on live television that she would retire from riding to "start a family" following the remaining Breeders' Cup races the following day. Stating later that she was seven weeks pregnant, Napravnik said that she was looking forward to motherhood and her new role as an assistant to her husband, Thoroughbred trainer Joe Sharp, who is based in Kentucky. Napravnik, 26, began riding at age 17 in Maryland and retires with 1,878 wins from 9,715 mounts. Her major stakes wins include two Breeders' Cup victories and two triumphs as the first and only female to win the Kentucky Oaks.

The Woolf Award is traditionally presented in mid- or late March, depending upon the winner's riding schedule and availability.

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'Hercules' tops Keeneland's Sporting Art Auction

"Hercules" (photo courtesy of Keeneland)

Large crowds, brisk bidding and the sale of the massive triptych "Hercules" for $149,500, including buyer premium, highlighted the second annual Sporting Art Auction, held Wednesday at Keeneland.

The auction, a collaboration between Keeneland Association and Cross Gate Gallery of Lexington, Kentucky, realized gross sales of $2.25 million.

"The success of this auction confirms that there is a strong demand for quality sporting art," Keeneland Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson said. "The contemporary and 20th century artists, such as Richard Stone Reeves and Peter Howell, sold extremely well."

By American artist Ashley Collins, the sale-topping Hercules is a 96"x120" master oil which pays homage to the horse Sir Hercules, who overcame physical challenges to become a stakes winner. The piece depicts a figurative horse overlaid on layers of historical pages from the 1800s that were touched by those living concurrently with Sir Hercules.

"Un Taureau Et Un Ours (A Bull and a Bear)" (photo courtesy of Keeneland)

The Sporting Art Auction featured 175 high-quality lots representing fine sporting art, American paintings and sculpture by world-renowned artists. Seventy-five percent of the artwork sold, with 40 percent of those pieces bringing final bids above their listed high estimate value.

In addition to Hercules, three other pieces sold for six figures:

  • LeRoy Neiman's "Bill Hartack Wins With Majestic Prince," signed and dated 1969, the year Majestic Prince won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, sold for $143,750.
  • "Un Taureau Et Un Ours (A Bull and a Bear)," by noted French artist Isidore Jules Bonheur and first shown in the Paris Salon in 1857, brought $138,000. Bonheur is known to have produced only two of this subject in this size. One sat in the Luncheon Club of the New York Stock Exchange for decades and now resides in the Museum of American Finance in New York City. The second bronze is the one sold here.
  • Richard Stone Reeves' "Three Kings," an oil on canvas signed by the artist and depicting champions Nijinsky II, Spectacular Bid and Secretariat with grooms at Claiborne Farm, went for $126,500.
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    Lochte stars in Tropical Turf; Angelica Zapata, Daring Kathy highlight My Charmer

    Lochte earned his biggest win to date in the GP Turf Handicap (Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Lochte figures to be well backed in the betting for Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap at Gulfstream Park West, if for no other reason than the four-year-old gelding is one of two Grade 1 winners in the field.

    The son of Medaglia d'Oro sprung a 39-1 surprise in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on February 9 for trainer Marcus Vitali. He validated that result with a close-up second in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita and a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Makers 46 Mile at Keeneland in his next two starts. Lochte didn't fare nearly as well in four subsequent races at Monmouth, Belmont and Saratoga during the summer before returning to South Florida.

    "From the beginning, I've always had my ups and downs with him. He's had his share of problems, like any athlete. Now, we've got him well managed and he's been on the upswing," Vitali explained. "We're going to take it one race and a time and hopefully point him in the right direction."

    Of course, the ultimate goal for Lochte is a title defense in the Grade 1, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on February 7 on a turf course over which he has shown a distinct affinity.

    Although his fondness for the Gulfstream turf was reconfirmed with a late-charging victory in the The Vid Stakes upon his return to South Florida on September 13, Lochte still has to prove himself over the course at Gulfstream Park West, where he was beaten as the odds-on favorite in an open allowance race on October 18. The dark bay raced wide throughout that mile turf race before taking the lead in midstretch, only to be caught late by Dreams Cut Short, one of 13 (including four main-track-only horses) entered in Saturday's Tropical Turf.

    "I just think the trip got him beat. I think it was unavoidable. It was just the way the race unfolded. It cost him the race," Vitali said. "He likes to get covered up and make one big run."

    Orlando Bocachica, Vitali's go-to rider, has the return mount aboard Lochte, Saturday's 5-2 morning-line favorite who provided all of his connections with memorable moments last February.

    "It was a very exciting day," Vitali noted. "That was my first Grade 1 and it was the first Grade 1 for Orlando, and I think it was the first Grade 1 for (owner) Crossed Sabres. It was a win-win-win."

    Unbridled Command will attempt to recapture the Grade 1 form he flashed almost two years ago when he capped a five-race win streak with victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on November 15, 2012. The five-year-old son of Master Command was far from disgraced when he finished third behind Point of Entry and Animal Kingdom in the 2013 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, but after more than a year layoff he's gone winless in four starts on the West Coast this season.

    The New York-bred veteran is scheduled to make his first start since finishing ninth in the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita on September 28 as well as his first start for trainer Marty Wolfson.

    A look at the past performances of Rapscallion might lead one to think that trainer Graham Motion entered the Speightstown four-year-old for the Tropical Turf in the hopes that the 1 1/8-mile contest is moved to the main track. The bay gelding's last two victories have come in off-the-turf races at Keeneland, including a front-running second-level allowance victory by 4 1/2 lengths in his most recent start.

    "I wasn't really thinking of that. I was more thinking that it was a good spot and the timing was good. It was a chance to see if he improved in general, or if it was a freak thing with the move to dirt, but I've always thought he was a better turf horse," Motion said. "He's coming off a nice win on the dirt at Keeneland, but we always thought he was more of a grass horse.

    "We gelded him before his last start, and I'd like to think that helped him a little bit. He probably wasn't putting everything into it that we'd seen he was capable of in the morning, Motion said. "In the morning, he always breezed like a nice horse."

    Angelica Zapata is seeking her first graded score in the My Charmer (Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Two races following the Tropical Turf, Angelica Zapata will attempt to add a first graded victory to her 10 career stakes wins when facing 10 rivals, plus two main-track only entrants, in the Grade 3, $100,000 My Charmer Handicap.

    The six-year-old Sharp Humor mare just missed by a half-length while closing out 2013 in the My Charmer and opened her 2014 campaign with a third-placing in the Grade 3 Marshua's River on January 4 at Gulfstream Park, beaten a length by Naples Bay.

    "We came off the hedge and the horse that won it, Naples Bay, went right through the hole that we could have gone through," trainer Ron Pellegrini said. "Those were two Grade 3s where we thought after the races that we should have won both, but racing luck is a different story."

    Angelica Zapata was a distant fourth in the Grade 2 Sabin in February before getting a break, coming back to win the Nancy's Glitter and Soaring Softly overnight stakes in successive starts. Most recently, she was a troubled second by a half-length as the favorite in the September 27 Wasted Tears at Gulfstream Park.

    "She had a horrible trip that day, but what can you do," Pellegrini shrugged. "We planned on running her in this race, so we've just been getting ready for it. I think she's coming into it great. I couldn't ask her for any more. I think she's going to run a big race.

    Meet-leading rider Edgard Zayas will be aboard Angelica Zapata from post 4 at top weight of 119 pounds.

    Also seeking her first graded win in the My Charmer is Daring Kathy, a three-year-old daughter of Wildcat Heir trained by David Fawkes. The bay miss will be trying older horses and 1 1/8 miles for the first time in her first start since a front-running 3 1/4-length victory in the Cellars Shiraz Stakes on October 18 at Gulfstream Park West.

    Unraced as a juvenile, Daring Kathy is five-for-eight this year, with four wins and two thirds in six starts since being moved to the turf by Fawkes in March. She is unbeaten on the grass in her native Florida, including victories in the Honey Ryder and Starfish Bay this spring.

    "Naturally you always wonder about the distance, but she's handled everything so far that we've given her," Fawkes said. "We thought, 'Let's try to stretch her out and see what happens.'

    "If you look at her numbers, if she gets any break early at all she's very strong at the finish," he added. "She still finishes well even when she gets pressed. She still has that late kick. I'm sure this is a step forward, so you just have to hope that the race works out for her."

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    Cardinal draws overflow field of 16

    I'm Already Sexy will break from the rail in Saturday's Cardinal (Four Footed Fotos)

    Veteran trainer Wayne Catalano, already enjoying his best year at Churchill Downs, will attempt to build on his 2014 accomplishments when he sends multiple Grade 3 winner I'm Already Sexy and two stablemates into an overflow field of 16 fillies and mares entered for Saturday's 41st running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Cardinal Handicap on the Matt Winn Turf Course.

    Only 14 will be allowed to compete in the nine-furlong Cardinal, the final stakes race scheduled on the Churchill turf course in 2014.

    I'm Already Sexy will be making her seventh start of the year on Saturday, having already collected victories in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap at Arlington and Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf at the all-grass racing venue in Franklin, Kentucky. The four-year-old daughter of Ready's Image finished second in the Grade 3 Mint Julep Handicap under the Twin Spires earlier this season and enters the Cardinal after running fourth, but placed fifth via disqualification, in the Grade 2 Goldikova on the Breeders' Cup undercard at Santa Anita Park.

    Catalano's filly has displayed early speed throughout her career and will need another alert start after she drew the inside post for Saturday's race. Jockey Calvin Borel will ride I'm Already Sexy, who will carry the highweight of 119 pounds in the Cardinal.

    A victory by I'm Already Sexy in the Cardinal would provide Catalano with his third Churchill Downs stakes victory of 2014, following triumphs in the Grade 3 Regret (via disqualification) by Aurelia's Belle and West Coast Belle in the Rags to Riches overnight stakes. Catalano's breakthrough season also has included his first leading trainer title at Churchill Downs after he saddled seven winners during the 12-day September meet to share that honor with Steve Asmussen.

    The other members of Catalano's Cardinal trio are Angegreen, who is winless in 11 U.S. starts but finished a fast-closing third last time out in a division of the Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon at 1 5/16 miles, and Imposing Grace, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington Matron last year on the Chicago track's synthetic Polytrack. Channing Hill will ride Angegreen under a 114-pound impost from post 4, while Imposing Grace will also carry 114 as she breaks from post 7 under Rafael Mojica Jr.

    An intriguing invader for the Cardinal is Grade 3 heroine Nellie Cashman, who returns to Churchill for the first time since a sixth-place run in last fall's Grade 2 Mrs. Revere. Trained by Francis "Trey" Abbott III, the four-year-old daughter of Mineshaft scored a comfortable victory in a Laurel Park turf allowance on September 26 to snap a six-racing losing streak that began last fall with a runner-up finish in Keeneland's Grade 3 Valley View.

    Nellie Cashman, a Pennsylvania-bred filly who trains at Maryland's Fair Hill Training Center, will break from post 8 under regular rider Forest Boyce. Nellie Cashman was assigned the second high weight of 117 pounds for the Cardinal.

    Another Cardinal contender could be Royal Fury, runner-up the Grade 2 Canadian on the Woodbine grass two back for trainer Brian Lynch. The Langfuhr mare has run strongly in the second half of 2014 with performances that includes runner-up finishes in the Grade 3 Ontario Matron and Trillium Stakes over Woodbine's Polytrack. Julien Leparoux will ride Royal Fury, who totes 116 pounds, from the outside gate in the field of 14.

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    Mr. Z tops $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot

    Mr. Z, who captured his career debut at Churchill Downs in late June, will be making his sixth stakes attempt (Adam Mooshian/Coglianese Photo)

    Delta Downs' racing office saw a flurry of activity on Tuesday morning as final entries and post positions were drawn for Saturday's $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot. The Grade 3 event drew an overflow of 12 runners, with 10 allowed to start in the 1 1/16-mile race, and the Delta Downs Jackpot is part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series, awarding points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four respective finishers.

    Mr. Z, who hails from the barn of Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for the 12th running of the track's signature event. Fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile most recently, the Malibu Moon colt has finished second in three graded stakes this year, including the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland two starts back. Paco Lopez will pick up the mount.

    Other top contenders include Golden Actor, a 4 1/4-length winner of the October 25 Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs; three-time stakes victor Conquest Tsunami, who exits a 2 3/4-length score in the October 26 Street Sense at Churchill Downs; and unbeaten Prime Engine, who will make his first start for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer following a pair of romping wins at Emerald Downs.

    The Delta Downs Jackpot is the centerpiece of an 11-race program that will feature eight stakes races, two graded stakes and more than $2.3 million in total purse money.

    The field for the Delta Downs Jackpot, including morning line odds (ML), is:

    Post   Horse   Jockey   Trainer   ML
    1   Prime Engine   Russell Baze   Jerry Hollendorfer   8-1
    2   Dekabrist   Jesus Rios   Gennadi Dorochenko   30-1
    3   Mr. Z   Paco Lopez   D. Wayne Lukas   5-2
    4   Conquest Tsunami   Shaun Bridgmohan   Mark Casse   4-1
    5   Saratoga Heater   Joel Rosario   Lisa Lewis   15-1
    6   Golden Actor   Jose Gallego   Ignacio Roncancio   7-2
    7   Red Button   Tyler Baze   Mark Glatt   12-1
    8   Wake Up Nick   Mario Gutierrez   Leandro Mora   10-1
    9   Far Right   Corey Lanerie   Ron Moquett   10-1
    10   Ocho Ocho Ocho   Mike Smith   James Cassidy   6-1
    11 (AE)   Unblunted   Joe Talamo   Michael McCarthy   15-1
    12 (AE)   Two Six Wins   Martin Pedroza   Michael Pender   20-1

    Since 2002, a total of nine horses have participated in the Delta Downs Jackpot before going on to compete in the Kentucky Derby as three-year-olds. The 2012 Jackpot produced a record number of three Kentucky Derby starters including Goldencents, Mylute and Itsmyluckyday.

    Saturday's program will also feature the Grade 3, $400,000 Delta Downs Princess. The one-mile race for two-year-old fillies is headed by Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Take Charge Brandi, who also hails from Lukas's barn and has been assigned morning line odds of 2-1.

    Delta Downs will offer a special guaranteed $200,000 all stakes Pick 4 on Jackpot Day. The wager has been available during each of the 11 previous editions of the Jackpot Day program. The record payoff for a $2 winning ticket was $22,225.80 in 2006. The minimum wager amount for the Jackpot Day Pick 4 is .50 cents.

    There is a special early post time for the Jackpot Day program Saturday of 1:15 p.m. (CST). Listed below is the entire Jackpot Day Pick 4 sequence of races, along with their scheduled post times:

    Race #   Race   Post Time (CT)
    4TH   $150,000 Louisiana Jewel   2:44 p.m.
    5TH   $200,000 Treasure Chest   3:13 p.m.
    6TH   $400,000 Delta Downs Princess   3:43 p.m.
    7TH   $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot   4:15 p.m.

    Bet Horseracing Free Online at

    In brief

    Lael Stables' homebred Divining Rod (Tapit), a two-year-old out of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Precious Kitten (Catienus), captured his debut in front-running fashion in Friday's 5TH race at Laurel. Originally scheduled for the turf, the one-mile test was transferred to the fast main track, and the Arnaud Delacour pupil was perfectly content with the switch. Divining Rod broke on top, opened up by daylight, and maintained a 2 3/4-length advantage at the wire. Under J.D. Acosta, the 5-1 chance stopped the teletimer in 1:39. The Kentucky-bred is the third registered foal, but first starter, out of Precious Kitten, who bankrolled more than $1.9 million while landing such events as the 2007 Matriarch (G1) and John C. Mabee H (G1) and the 2008 Gamely (G1). Precious Kitten is a half-sister to champion and leading sire Kitten's Joy (El Prado), as well as multiple stakes winner and Grade 3-placed Justenuffheart (Broad Brish), herself the dam of champion Dreaming of Anna (Rahy) and Grade 2-winning sires Lewis Michael (Rahy) and Justenuffhumor (Distorted Humor)...

    Trainer Mark Casse said that Queen's Plate heorine Lexie Lou (Sligo Bay), nominated to both the $300,000 Hollywood Derby (G1) on November 29 and the $300,000 Matriarch (G1) on November 30, would have a five-furlong workout Saturday morning at Del Mar under rider Corey Nakatani...

    Trainer Christophe Clement informed the Del Mar racing office of his intentions to ship 2013 Del Mar Oaks (G1) winner Discreet Marq (Discreet Cat) from New York for the $300,000 Matriarch (G1) on Sunday, November 30. Discreet Marq prevailed by a half-length in the 2013 Del Mar Oaks and has raced in six subsequent Grade 1 events with runner-up finishes by narrow margins in two of them being the best results. One of those seconds came in last year's Matriarch, which the gray four-year-old filly just missed by a nose. Discreet Marq enters this year's edition off a three-length victory in the Ticonderoga S. at Belmont Park on October 18...

    Churchill Downs' main track reopened Friday for the first time since Monday. The one-mile dirt oval was frozen for three days following three inches of snow in Louisville, Kentucky, earlier this week. Despite the reopening, there were no recorded workouts -- just gallopers and joggers after three days of tack-walking the shedrow. Racing resumed at 12:40 p.m. (EST) Friday for a 10-race card following a two-day hiatus...

    Overnight storms Thursday to Friday dropped .22 inches of rain on Del Mar, muddying up some places in the stable area but having little effect on the Polytrack main surface or the Jimmy Durante Turf Course. "If I had to list it, I'd list it as 'good,'" turf superintendent Leif Dickinson said at midmorning Friday. "Our rating system is kind of ambiguous. Our track is usually firm but today it'll probably be good. If we had gotten any more rain today, we might have considered taking some races off the turf. But with what we had, and the rails being at 24 feet, we should be good to go." Three on Friday's eight-race program and eight of 18 combined races on Saturday and Sunday were scheduled for the turf course. The Weather Channel 10-day forecast Friday morning predicted minimal chance of additional showers for the Del Mar area. Previously announced plans stated the rails on the turf course would be out to 24 feet for Friday's races, in to 18 feet on Saturday and out to 24 on Sunday. However, as a result of the rains, they will remain at 24 feet for the weekend. Plans are for the rails to be set at six feet for Thanksgiving Day, November 27, and then to zero for the final three days of the meeting. Seven of the final nine stakes of the inaugural Bing Crosby Season are scheduled for the turf in what is a continuation of Hollywood Park's fall season "Turf Festival" before that track closed last December. The Polytrack main surface lived up to its "all weather" designation. It appeared unaffected by the rain and received compliments from horsemen with workers over it early Friday morning...

    The winner of Sunday's "Who's the Champ? Betting Challenge" will be awarded with a fully paid spot in the Horse Player World Series at The Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on March 25-28. Last week, Craig Meuter of Louisville, Kentucky, won the first prize besting a field of 67 handicappers. The "Who's the Champ? Betting Challenge" requires entrants to place mythical $2 win/place wagers on races 3-8 at Churchill Downs. The contestant with the highest bankroll at event's end is crowned the winner. The weekly grand prize includes a four-night hotel stay and $250 travel voucher. Second-place gets a $500 betting voucher and the third place-finisher receives a $250 betting voucher. Registration for this Sunday's event is 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (EST) in the Churchill Downs Lounge. It costs $35 to enter ($30 for TSC Elite members) and entrants receive an official program and meal voucher. The final "Who's the Champ? Betting Challenge" of the year will be held on closing day, Sunday, November 30...

    Reserved indoor premium seating at Churchill Downs for Thanksgiving Day is nearly sold out. The only tickets that remain are in the Winn Show Place Lounge on the second floor clubhouse, which range from $26 to $60 and can include the Thanksgiving Chef's Table buffet. There are still some interior dining options left for "Black Friday" on November 28, featuring the 140th running of the $500,000 Clark H. (G1). Tickets to the Skye Terrace are $34.50, which includes the Chef's Table buffet. Also, tickets to the Matt Winn Dining Room are $15, which includes a reserved seat in the dining room plus an outdoor reserved third-floor box. Guests have the option for a buffet or to order a la carte, but a $15 minimum purchase is required. Millionaires Row 4 with a buffet ($34.50) and the Matt Winn Dining Room have availability for Stars of Tomorrow II on Saturday, November 29, and closing day on Sunday, November 30...

    Del Mar will hold a craft beer and cider fest alongside its races at the seaside track on Thanksgiving Saturday, November 29. More than 100 local and international brews, along with a variety of seasonal ales and ciders, will be available throughout the day in the track's Seaside Concert area on the west end of the grandstand. DJ's will be playing tunes throughout the afternoon and gourmet food trucks also will be on site with a wide-range of offerings. Track gates open at 11 a.m. (PST) and the craft beer and cider fest will be pouring between noon and 4 p.m. There also will be a terrific racing card that afternoon -- likely topped by dual classic winner California Chrome's appearance in either the Hollywood Derby (G1) or Native Diver H. (G3) -- and Del Mar's fan favorites Cake will perform a full rock concert following the races on the Seaside Concert stage to cap off the exciting day. Admission to the racetrack is $6, and only $3 for Diamond Club card holders (a free and easy sign up for all fans). Admission to the beer fest is free. A beer tasting is $18, which includes five 7 oz. samples of the various wares. Special pre-sale discount packages are on sale through November 25 by going to and entering the ticket office...

    Fields were set and post positions drawn Wednesday for stakes races on Saturday and Sunday, the penultimate weekend of the inaugural Bing Crosby Season at Del Mar. Thirteen were entered, including two on the also-eligible list, for Saturday's $100,000 Red Carpet H. (G3). At 1 3/8 miles on turf, the former Beverly Hills H. is the second-longest race of the meeting. Favored Appealing Cat (Successful Appeal) is the first of several horses from the stable of trainer Graham Motion likely to run in stakes before the close of the meeting on November 30. The bay mare enters the Red Carpet off a half-length third in Keeneland's 1 1/2-mile Dowager S. on October 19. The race also includes British-bred Lady Pimpernel (Sir Percy), who will be getting first-time Lasix while making her U.S. debut. On Sunday, the $100,000 Cary Grant S. attracted eight California-breds. Among those entered for the seven-furlong former On Trust S. are Big Macher (Beau Genius), winner of the Bing Crosby (G1) over the track on July 27; unbeaten multiple stakes victor Red Outlaw (Tribal Rule); and defending race winner Rousing Sermon (Lucky Pulpit). Red Outlaw is nominated for other upcoming stakes and his presence in the Cary Grant remains to be determined. "At this point we're going to look at it and decide. We're considering the ($300,000) Hollywood Derby ([G1] on November 29) and the ($250,000) Seabiscuit ([G2] on November 28) as well," trainer Peter Miller said Thursday morning. "We probably won't make a decision (about the Cary Grant) until race day on Sunday." Red Outlaw worked three furlongs over Del Mar's Polytrack Thursday morning in :37 4/5...

    A field of eight heads to the post on Sunday in Woodbine's C$200,000 Kennedy Road S. (Can-G2) going six furlongs on the Polytrack. Sharp Sensation (Sharp Humor) totes the top weight of 121 pounds off a half-length victory in the Bet on Sunshine S. over Churchill Downs' main track November 1. The well-traveled four-year-old gelding recorded a neck score in the Turf Monster H. (G3) at Parx Racing and was a close third in the Woodford S. (G3) on Keeneland's grass in his prior two races. Calgary Cat (Cowtown Cat) will be looking to derail Sharp Sensation's from posting back-to-back stakes wins. The four-year-old chestnut captured the Bold Venture S. (Can-G3) on Woodbine's Polytrack before rallying to be third by a length in the Nearctic S. (Can-G2) last out on the Toronto venue's turf course. Also entered is Black Hornet (Pioneerof the Nile), runner-up from the Nearctic and third in the Bold Venture.

    "Horses and Hope," the initiative created in 2008 by Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear with the Kentucky Cancer Program and the Pink Stable, will return to Churchill Downs on Sunday, November 23, in Millionaires Row 4 and Skye Terrace 5. The mission is to increase breast cancer awareness, education, screening and treatment referral among Kentucky's horse industry workers and their families. The color of pink will be scattered throughout Churchill that day, including saddle towels for the 5TH race, jockey arm bands, groom's vests, outriders, the bugler, flags, bunting and trophies for winning horse owners. To help celebrate, Churchill's Twin Spires will be bathed in pink light, as well...

    Belated birthday wishes to trainer Tom Amoss, who turned 53 on Monday; trainer Steve Asmussen, who celebrated No. 49 on Tuesday; and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., who turned 22 on Wednesday. Daily Racing Form's Marty McGee had a birthday on Friday, Churchill Downs Racetrack's Vice President of Racing Communications John Asher celebrates Saturday and jockey Jon Court turns 54 on Sunday.

    Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather


    For Saturday

    Aqueduct   (5th) Saythreehailmary's, 6-1
        (6th) Monster Mash, 5-1
    Charles Town   (2nd) Fionn Mc Cool, 9-2
        (5th) Fiddlers Elbow, 4-1
    Churchill Downs   (1st) Angel Lovely, 4-1
        (9th) Royal Fury, 5-1
    Del Mar   (2nd) Diaminda, 3-1
        (4th) Magic Lily, 6-1
    Delta Downs   (4th) Composed, 6-1
        (10th) Rich'slion, 7-2
    Fair Grounds   (5th) Warning Song, 8-1
        (8th) Treaty Oak, 7-2
    Golden Gate Fields   (6th) Irenes Jackpot, 3-1
        (7th) Major Truth, 10-1
    Gulfstream Park West   (2nd) Captain's Game, 6-1
        (4th) La Marquesse, 4-1
    Hawthorne   (4th) Free Fighter, 7-2
        (9th) Headstart, 8-1
    Laurel Park   (6th) Quote, 8-1
        (9th) Scamper Lee, 9-2
    Mountaineer   (2nd) Vintage Mercer, 3-1
        (6th) Solar King, 4-1
    Parx Racing   (3rd) Kwik E, 4-1
        (7th) Natorious Zapper, 9-2
    Penn National   (3rd) Downhill Dale, 5-1
        (8th) High Native Fly, 7-2
    Remington Park   (8th) Magnum Force, 3-1
        (9th) Passion Talk, 4-1
    Retama Park   (6th) Shiny Cide, 5-1
        (8th) Witt's Lizard, 6-1
    Turf Paradise   (7th) Black Witch, 5-1
        (8th) Rogue Twister, 3-1
    Woodbine   (3rd) Rackman, 4-1
        (4th) Tancook, 4-1

    HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.


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