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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2014

Graded Recaps

Ocho Ocho Ocho outfinishes Mr. Z, survives inquiry in Delta Downs Jackpot

Ocho Ocho Ocho improved to three for three with the game win (Coady Photgraphy)

Ocho Ocho Ocho enhanced his Kentucky Derby credentials with a game win in Saturday's Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot, scoring by a nose after a stretch-long duel with Mr. Z. Unbeaten in three starts, the James Cassidy-trained colt had to withstand an objection and steward's inquiry to earn his first graded victory and 10 points toward a possible spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

The two-year-old son of Street Sense completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:45 2/5 with Mike Smith.

Owned by Deron Pearson's DP Racing LLC, Ocho Ocho Ocho stalked the pace in fourth as the field made its way past the Delta Downs grandstand the first time, with Prime Engine and Conquest Tsunami contesting an opening quarter-mile in :22 1/5 and a half-mile in :45 3/5. Mr. Z was also up close tracking the early leaders in third.

Ocho Ocho Ocho advanced along the rail to challenge for the lead entering the far turn, sticking a head in front after three-quarters in 1:12 2/5, but Mr. Z responded to the challenge and stuck his head back in front between calls as the horses neared the top of the stretch.

After cutting the corner, Ocho Ocho Ocho regained a short lead with about a furlong remaining and determinedly outfought Mr. Z. to the wire.

Far Right, who trailed early in the 10-horse field, accelerated rapidly into contention rounding the final bend but was checked in tight quarters along the rail before straightening for home. He regained his momentum in the stretch but had to settle for third, four lengths behind of the top pair. Jockey Corey Lanerie claimed foul against Ocho Ocho Ocho, and the stewards immediately flashed the inquiry sign after the finish, but no change was made.

Off as the slight 5-2 favorite, Ocho Ocho Ocho paid $7.20 for the narrow win. Mr. Z, who recorded his fourth runner-up finish versus graded rivals this year, was the 3-1 second choice.

Ocho Ocho Ocho was making his two-turn debut and first start outside of California in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" event. He won at first asking on October 11, taking a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight event at Santa Anita by a length, and rolled to a 5 3/4-length decision in the off-the-turf Juvenile Turf Sprint on the November 1 Breeders' Cup Saturday undercard.

Bred in Kentucky by Sienna Farms, he was purchased for $200,000 earlier this year at the OBS April two-year-old sale. The dark bay colt is out of the Horse Chestnut mare Winner and counts as a half-sister Grade 2-placed Private Ensign. His third maternal dam is unbeaten champion and Broodmare of the Year Personal Ensign.

Ocho Ocho Ocho has now earned $693,600.

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Filly takes 'Charge' in Delta Downs Princess

Take Charge Brandi might have one more race left in her juvenile campaign after her Princess score (Delta Downs/Coady Photography)

Willis D. Horton's Take Charge Brandi chased a fast pace but would not be denied on Saturday while making her first start since taking the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 1.

Just three weeks after that contest, trainer D. Wayne Lukas saddled the Giant's Causeway filly to a 1 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3, $400,000 Delta Downs Princess, helping to cement her case for an Eclipse Award as the 2014 champion two-year-old filly. She also earned another 10 points toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Oaks as the Princess is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races.

"We don't have a vote because we're a bit prejudiced," Lukas quipped when asked about the Eclipse Awards in the post-race interview. "It sure moved us in the right direction."

The Princess bumped Take Charge Brandi's lifetime earnings to $1,410,126, and her scorecard now stands at 7-3-1-0. Bred by Charming Syndicate, she's more than earned back her $435,000 purchase price as a Keeneland September yearling and could add to her bankroll in December.

Lukas mentioned after the race he is looking at possibly running her back in the Grade 1, $350,000 Starlet at Los Alamitos on December 13.

Jockey Paco Lopez settled Take Charge Brandi just outside of early pacesetter Vivian Da Bling through blistering splits of :22 1/5 and :46 2/5 on Saturday. The early leader couldn't maintain her momentum after those sizzling fractions and faded nearing the final turf, but Take Charge Brandi was still going strong.

Meanwhile, Skipalute rallied from just off the pace to engage Take Charge Brandi around the turn, but could not keep pace as the Kentucky-bred pulled away in the lane to finish a mile on the fast Delta Downs dirt in 1:39 3/5.

"Her class carried her," Lukas asserted, adding that his filly really hadn't taken to the Delta Downs track leading up to the race.

Take Charge Brandi was the 2-1 favorite and returned $6.40 for just her third career score on Saturday. After breaking her maiden at Churchill Downs on June 22, the chestnut juvenile made her stakes bow a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Schuylerville at Saratoga. She was unable to reach the top four, losing by double digits each time, in her next three before upsetting the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at 61-1 in a wire job.

Take Charge Brandi is out of the Seeking the Gold mare Charming, who is a half-sister to champion Will Take Charge and Grade 1 hero Take Charge Indy. Her second dam is multiple Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire Take Charge Lady.

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Strike Charmer takes wing in Cardinal

Strike Charmer could be a harbinger of better things to come for trainer David Carroll (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)
Courtlandt Farms' homebred Strike Charmer couldn't catch I'm Already Sexy in her stakes debut in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, but it was a different story in Saturday's Grade 3, $119,700 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs. Rallying in upper stretch, Strike Charmer stormed past the 8-5 favorite en route to a two-length victory. The 12-1 chance topped a longshot trifecta, rounded out by 19-1 Pappascat and 55-1 Antonia Autumn. I'm Already Sexy faded to fourth.

The David Carroll-trained Strike Charmer was reserved in fourth early by Chris Landeros. As expected, I'm Already Sexy took up her front-running role and opened up through splits of :23 4/5 and :47 3/5 on the good turf. The stalking Pappascat crept closer, but I'm Already Sexy appeared to have more in reserve as she pulled away again at the six-furlong mark in 1:13. By that point, Strike Charmer was making good headway along the hedge. Tipping out to take aim on the longtime leader turning into the lane, she disposed of the favorite remarkably quickly and put the race away.

"It's been a tough year," said Carroll, who had won only 11 races from 81 starts this year before the Cardinal. "Mr. (Don) Adam has been a good, patient owner. We really needed that.

"(After her runner-up effort at Kentucky Downs September 13), we put her away and got her ready for the Cardinal. That's what we did so I've got to give (Adam) a lot of credit because I would have run her at Keeneland. She was feeling so good over the last month. I got a terrific ride from Chris. I'm so happy for Chris because he does a lot of work for us here at the barn. Hopefully this is a sign that things will get a lot better."

After negotiating 1 1/8 miles in 1:49 4/5, Strike Charmer sparked a $26.60 win mutuel. Pappascat hung on gamely for second from the late-running Antonia Autumn, half-sister to three-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti. The exotics therefore ballooned to $421.80 (exacta), $14,876.80 (trifecta) and $109,403.40 (superfecta) with I'm Already Sexy fourth in the 14-distaffer field.

The Kentucky-bred Strike Charmer improved her record to 10-3-3-1, $206,835. All three of her wins have come over this course and nine-furlong distance -- her maiden score as a sophomore in the summer of 2013, an entry-level allowance May 25 and now her first stakes coup.

By Smart Strike, Strike Charmer is a half-sister to multiple Canadian stakes-placed Sweet Dreams. They are out of the stakes-winning, Grade 2-placed Storm Cat mare Cat Charmer, herself a half-sister to Impeachment, the third-place finisher in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2000. Strike Charmer's third dam is the influential Stick to Beauty.

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Lubash passes $1 million earnings mark in Tropical Turf

Lubash reeled in Reporting Star in deep stretch (Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photography)

Aliyu Ben J Stables' homebred Lubash closed fast to overhaul Reporting Star in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Tropical Turf H. at Gulfstream Park West, pushing his career earnings past the $1 million mark ($1,010,599) with the half-length victory. Brice Blanc was up on the Christophe Clement-trained turf specialist and the seven-year-old horse recorded his second graded win, and eighth overall stakes triumph, when completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:50 3/5 on the good ground.

A bay son of Freud, Lubash settled off the early pace in fourth as Reporting Star established opening splits of :24 1/5 and :50 1/5 on a clear lead. The pacesetter came under pressure on the far turn, reaching the six-furlong mark in 1:14 3/5, but kicked clear again after turning for home.

Nearly five lengths back leaving the far turn, Lubash responded to the urgings of Blanc in the stretch drive, rallying boldly late to prevail as the 8-5 favorite. He returned a $5.40 win mutuel.

"(Clement) told me to just be patient because he's got a great turn of foot, so just try to follow a good path," Blanc said. "Pretty much, that's how it came up. I got around the turn and I was riding between horses.

"I followed a couple of the horses in front of me and eased out, and when I straightened away he just kicked for me right away."

"He's a fun horse because he really, really wants to win," the trainer added. "He always runs a good race and makes me look good. I like that."

Reporting Star, the 6-1 fourth choice, easily held second, 1 1/2 lengths better than 15-1 Grand Tito in third. Grade 1 winner Lochte came next in fourth.

The New York-bred Lubash captured the Grade 3 Fort Marcy in 2013 and won a couple of open events in 2010, but four of his stakes tallies have come against state-bred foes, including his only previous one in 2014, a repeat score in the September 14 Ashley T. Cole. He improved his career record to 39-12-9-4.

Lubash is out of the stakes-placed Cure the Blues mare Nasty Cure.

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Daring Kathy gives namesake a 'charming' birthday

Daring Kathy sailed home in the My Charmer (Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography)

John Eaton and Steve Laymon's homebred Daring Kathy lulled her rivals to sleep with pedestrian fractions in Saturday's Grade 3, $115,000 My Charmer Handicap at Gulfstream Park West, leaving herself with more than enough to win the nine-furlong, good turf contest under jockey Abdiel Jaen.

In doing so, Daring Kathy gave her namesake a day to remember.

"Being named Kathy, after me, and winning on my birthday today. This was the perfect birthday present," grinned Kathy Eaton, wife of co-owner John Eaton.

Jaen and Daring Kathy loped along over the visibly battered turf through fractions of :24 4/5, :51 4/5, 1:16 1/5 and 1:40 1/5, opened up in the lane and easily held the rallying Cushion on the wire to stop the clock in 1:52 3/5. Lilbourne Eliza just missed second by a nose after stalking in that spot for much of the race.

"We weren't running this morning," trainer David Fawkes stated. "But we got the opportunity to go out there and look at the turf course, and the turf course looked in great shape and I think it helped us a lot. We had an opportunity to walk out there and look at it. Billy (Badgett) was nice enough to take us out there and show us the turf course, and it was the reason we raced.

"We wanted to see how soft it was. Really, it was in very good shape. For all the rain we had, they really did a very good job on the turf course.

"(Jaen) rode her perfect. Even the fractions were almost exactly the same," Fawkes added. "When I saw them go in almost :25 and then the :51 and change, I was like 'Oh my God. It's over.' He hadn't even asked her to do anything. She did everything he asked the whole race."

"It was easy for me. She controlled the race. There was no speed and I went for it," Jaen explained. "Right here in Florida, this is the best filly I've ridden. She gives me so much confidence."

Daring Kathy was sent off the 9-2 fourth choice and paid $11.80 for her second straight stakes score over the course. The sophomore daughter of Wildcat Heir posted a similar wire job when taking the the Cellars Shiraz on October 14 by 3 1/4 lengths in a good prep for the My Charmer. Prior to that, the bay miss ran third in both the Grade 2 Lake George at Saratoga and Grade 3 Ontario Colleen at Woodbine.

"We might wait for the Florida Millions," Fawkes said "We'll just see how she comes out of it. There's like three more races coming between here and the Florida Millions. Then there's a race later on in the year after that."

Those two races followed three straight wins, including the Honey Ryder and Starfish Bay Stakes at Gulfstream Park, recorded by Daring Kathy in the spring. Saturday's score boosted her mark to 6-0-2 from nine career starts and $356,366 in lifetime earnings.

Daring Kathy is out of the Kingmambo mare Dare to Mambo, making her a half-sister to Grade 3-placed Zeb. The duo's fifth dam is 1980 Broodmare of the Year Key Bridge, who produced 1970 Horse of the Year Fort Marcy.

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Three Hearts crashes Red Carpet at 29-1

Three Hearts, a half-sister to Pluck, showed plenty of it in her debut for Neil Drysdale (Benoit Photos)
Team Valor International's homebred Three Hearts was recently transferred to Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale, and the four-year-old filly responded to the change of scenery by springing a 29-1 upset in Saturday's Grade 3, $101,500 Red Carpet Handicap at Del Mar. A half-sister to 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf hero Pluck, Three Hearts surged from just off the pace and determinedly held Lady of Gold to notch her first stakes victory.

Aside from changing circuits from the East to the West Coast, Three Hearts also benefited from an equipment change -- blinkers off -- and a dramatic step up in trip to 1 3/8 miles. New rider Joe Talamo had her well placed in the opening stages, nestled within close striking range of a tepid pace.

Early leader Luscious Lonna was hounded by Bee Brave through fractions of :24 3/5, :49 2/5 and 1:15 before giving way. Bee Brave then took sole command rounding the final turn, but Three Hearts and Lady of Gold were moving in tandem to accost her. Although Three Hearts was quicker to strike the front, Lady of Gold was relentless on the outside, and the winner had to dig deep to see her off by a half-length. Three Hearts posted a final time of 2:15 3/5 and rewarded her loyalists with a hefty $61.40.

Lady Pimpernel flew belatedly for third, just a neck off Lady of Gold. Appealing Cat, the lukewarm 5-2 favorite, was buried on the inside, shuffled back, and wound up sixth in the 11-distaffer field.

Originally trained by Graham Motion, Three Hearts was switched to Rick Mettee early in her 2013 campaign. She started out promisingly for the new barn when promoted to second via disqualification in the Little Silver at Monmouth and battling for a close third in the Virginia Oaks. Out of action for a year, the bay resurfaced in allowance company this summer without success. The Red Carpet marked her fourth start off the lengthy layoff, and advanced her line to 14-3-3-3, $192,249.

The Kentucky-bred is by Hat Trick and out of the South African stakes winner and multiple Group 1-placed Secret Heart. A daughter of Fort Wood, Secret Heart is a half-sister to South African co-champion Promisefrommyheart and Group 1 heroine Covenant. Secret Heart's dam, multiple Group 1-placed Secret Pact, is a full sister to South African legend London News.

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Racing Headlines

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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Jones looking forward to Exodus' second career start at Fair Grounds

Fox Hill Farm's Exodus looks to fulfill his considerable promise and lofty pedigree when he embarks on his second outing Sunday afternoon in the 7TH race at Fair Grounds -- an open juvenile maiden going six furlongs.

By Medaglia d'Oro out of multiple Grade 1 heroine Stop Traffic, Exodus sold for $600,000 to Fox Hill principal Rick Porter at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga Sale in August 2013.

The swift half-brother to 2013 Grade 1 Whitney Handicap winner Cross Traffic signaled his readiness with a bullet work on November 18, negotiating five furlongs in a :59 4/5.

"He's in on Sunday and he's doing very well and coming into this good," trainer Larry Jones said. "He's really coming along. He just got a little tired in that Keeneland race, which I must say kind of surprised me. I thought that once he made the lead he would go on with it, but at Keeneland you can hook up with some very good horses."

In his October 3 debut at that Lexington, Kentucky, track, the bay colt showed good speed throughout, took the lead midrace and proceeded to finish a game third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths by highly regarded Ambidextrous Alex in a sharp 1:10 2/5. The effort earned Exodus an 82 BRIS Speed figure.

With an eye on the lucrative sophomore graded stakes program that commences at Fair Grounds in January, Jones is optimistic that his charge will be up to the challenge.

"We expect him to be one of our classic contenders down here, but only time will tell," he explained. "We're pretty high on him and have a lot of expectations.

"I don't think he'll have any problem getting two turns. I have two half-sisters to him and one wants to go long and the other (allowance winner Thirteen Arrows) acts like she wants to be a little bit of a sprinter, but she's by Indian Charlie. The way he trains, he'll definitely stretch out."

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Perth locals Magnifisio, Elite Belle score Group 1 coups

In Saturday's Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot in Perth, Magnifisio turned back a field that included a handful of well-credentialed sprinters and survived an inquiry to become the first Group 1 winner for her sire, Magnus.

Magnifisio bested Watermans Bay by a head, and the latter rival's rider claimed Magnifisio had cost him a winning chance with interference 100 meters into the race. Stewards ultimately decided the interference was insufficient to warrant changing the order of finish.

The remarkably consistent Magnifisio has finished off the board just twice in 12 outings over the past 12 months, and last December she kicked off a five-race win streak that encompassed three listed races and concluded with the Roma Cup May 17, where she had Saturday's Railway winner Elite Belle back in second.

Magnifisio could manage only fourth in the Beaufine on July 12, and filled the same slot behind Elite Belle in the October 25 Prince of Wales Stakes. Magnifisio once again had that rival behind her in fourth when taking the Lee Steere S. prior to this effort November 8. Saturday's race was her first tilt at Group 1 company.

Magnus, who stands at Eliza Park International, is out of Scandinavia, the second dam of unbeaten world champion sprinter Black Caviar and her four-time Group 1-winning half-brother All Too Hard (Aus). Magnus and All Too Hard, who stands at Vinery Stud, also share the same sire line, as All Too Hard is by Casino Prince, a son of Magnus's sire Flying Spur.

Also at Perth's Ascot, the veteran Western Australian mare Elite Belle pushed her earnings past the million-dollar mark while earning a first Group 1 win with a gutsy score in Saturday's Railway Stakes. Crying out for racing room while traveling worse than midpack heading into the closing stages of the race, Elite Belle and jockey William Pike at last found the opening they needed and surged to the front inside the final 200 meters.

"I'd started to watch (and get) despondent," trainer Grant Williams told Sky Racing World. "I thought we had too many horses to get through. In the corner of my eye, I saw a horse coming through. I thought, it couldn't be Willie could it?' and sure enough, it was."

Pike added of Elite Belle, "She doesn't even travel. She does it from off the bit and you have got to rely on her and trust her that she's got it. She catches you a little bit unawares but when she lets down, it's electric."

Elite Belle has made all 23 of her starts in Western Australia, and she kicked off 2014 in style with a victory in the La Trice Classic here January 1. She was not seen again until May 17, when she checked in second in the Roma Cup, and she returned two weeks later to take the Belmont Sprint over 1400 meters before adding the Hyperion over a furlong further June 14. The bay kept the streak alive with a victory in the Prince of Wales in her first outing as a six-year-old, and was fourth behind Saturday's Winterbottom victress Magnifisio in the Lee Steere in her prep for this event.

Williams said Elite Belle would move on to the Kingston Town Classic in two weeks.

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In brief

While the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) and Princess (G3) took center stage at the Vinton, Louisiana, track on Saturday, there was plenty of stakes action on the undercard to keep the fans entertained. Topping the rest of the card was the $250,000 Delta Mile, which saw Sunbean (Brahms) romp home by five lengths under regular rider Richard Eramia. The four-year-old gelding is trained by Ron Faucheux for breeder Brittlyn Stable, and drew ever closer to the million mark in earnings having now banked $910,150 in his 19-12-2-1 career that includes 11 stakes victories. The second most lucrative stakes on the undercard was the $200,000 Treasure Chest, and the James Cassidy-conditioned Yahilwa (Medaglia d'Oro) lived up to her even-money favoritism to pull away late with Mike Smith in the irons. Trainer Steve Flint and jockey Gerard Melancon got an early double with D'cajun Cat (D'wildcat), who captured the $75,000 Sam's Town to kick off the stakes action, and Four Leaf Chief (Lookin at Lucky), an effortless winner next out in the $150,000 Louisiana Legacy for Louisiana-bred juveniles. Later on the card, the Gary Scherer-trained Wind Chill Factor (Successful Appeal) romped in the $150,000 Louisiana Jewel for juvenile fillies under jockey Willie Martinez. Honeycomb Allie (Afleet Alex) and jockey Colby Hernandez wrapped up the stakes action on the day when the Al Stall Jr. pupil took the $75,000 Orleans for three-year-old fillies...

Respected veteran Joe Kristufek joins Churchill Downs' talented roster of on-track and simulcast racing television analysts during the final week of its 24-day Fall Meet. Kristufek will be part of a trio that also features Jill Byrne, the track's senior racing analyst and director of programming who has handled duties at Churchill Downs since 2006 and has performed similar duties for the HRTV and TVG networks, and Kevin Kerstein, the newest member of that team will continue to handle occasional duties as an on-track analyst in the team's new configuration. As Kristufek joins that team, Byrne will be a less-frequent presence for on-track and simulcast television duties in order concentrate on the development and creation of special programming for Churchill Downs daily television product, its 4K Big Board video screen and the track's web sites. She will remain an important member of the team of racing analysts and will be prominent on the track's biggest racing days. Kristufek's first appearance as an analyst in the Churchill Paddock will come next week, and he will return as a full-time presence during the track's 2015 Spring Meet that begins with Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Week. "I am very excited for this opportunity and to work closely with Jill, Kevin and the entire Churchill Downs staff," Kristufek said. "As an ambassador of the game, I believe the job of the paddock host can be much more than just picking horses. Fan development should also be emphasized. I'm looking forward to sharing my passion with the masses."...

Mikki Isle (Deep Impact) would be perfect in 2014 but for an uncharacteristically poor performance in the Yasuda Kinen (Jpn-G1) June 8, and the sophomore has a shot for redemption in Sunday's Mile Championship (Jpn-G1). The Noda Mizuki colorbearer, who is one of six by his champion sire in the lineup, opened his three-year-old account with a pair of Grade 3 victories over this distance. Connections opted to bypass the Triple Crown series to stick to these shorter distances, and that decision paid dividends when Mikki Isle collected the NHK Mile Cup (Jpn-G1) May 11. Mikki Isle floundered over soft going when 16th of 17 behind Just a Way (Heart's Cry) in the Yasuda Kinen, after which he was given a summer holiday. Mikki Isle showed no signs of rust when besting elders on return in the Swan S. (Jpn-G2) November 1, and despite dumping his rider and completing a piece of trackwork solo 10 days ago, Mikki Isle appears primed to add a second Grade 1. Defending champion Tosen Ra (Deep Impact), like Mikki Isle, also failed to handle the easy going in the Yasuda Kinen and checked in 14th. He returned with a third-place finish in the Kyoto Daishoten (Jpn-G2) October 14. World Ace (Deep Impact) turned heads when breaking the course record over this track and trip in the Yomiuri Milers Cup (Jpn-G2) April 27, and he checked in a respectable fifth in the Yasuda Kinen. World Ace was a puzzling 13th in the Mainichi Okan (Jpn-G2) October 12, but having also been placed in the 2012 Japanese Two Thousand Guineas (Jpn-G1) and Derby (Jpn-G1) he has back form to call on, and wouldn't be a shock winner. Second behind World Ace in the Yomiuri was Fiero(Deep Impact), who had previously won three straight at the allowance level. Eighth in the Yasuda Kinen, the five-year-old was beaten just a half-length by Mikki Isle in the Swan. Yasuda Kinen 10th Clarente (Dance in the Dark) comes into this off a pair of Grade 3 victories at the distance...

Globetrotting sprinter-miler Gordon Lord Byron (Byron) will make his third visit to the Hong Kong International race meeting December 14, and the six-year-old pleased trainer Tom Hogan with a racecourse gallop at Dundalk Friday. "It all went perfectly at Dundalk," Hogan said. "He loves it there -- he strode out well and had a little blow afterwards. We might go back there again next Friday just to get him spot-on for Hong Kong." Gordon Lord Byron, who was last seen winning the British Champions Sprint S. (Eng-G2) October 18, claimed his third Group 1 in Australia's George Ryder S. over 7 1/2 furlongs in March prior to finishing a respectable sixth behind Lankan Rupee (Redoute's Choice) in the A$3.5 million T.J. Smith S. (Aus-G1) over six furlongs in April. The Cyrus Poonawalla and Morgan Cahalan colorbearer has contested the Hong Kong Mile (HK-G1) the last two years, finishing fourth both times. "We've decided we will take our chances on the draw and go for the Sprint," Hogan said. "His runs in Australia show he is good enough to go for the race. The milers in Hong Kong are exceptionally good. We've had a couple of goes at the race before and we've not had much luck in running and still finished two lengths off the winner. We think he's capable of running a good race in the Sprint and deserves his chance. He flies out of Heathrow on December 5 and we're looking forward to it."...

Mahoning Valley Racecourse in Austintown, Ohio, kicks off its inaugural racing season on Monday, November 24, with an eight-race program that begins at 12:45 p.m. (EST). The 2014 season is comprised of 21 racing days thru Saturday, December 30, and will feature a four day a week schedule, Monday through Wednesday and Saturday with a 12:45 p.m. post time. Starting in 2015, Mahoning Valley Racecourse will offer 100 racing dates during two meets, January through April and October through December, as well as a complete a circuit with Thistledown, which is located in nearby North Randall, Ohio...

On Sunday at Del Mar, 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...

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 https://www.dmtc.com/tickets and entering the ticket office...

"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...

Internationally successful jockey Sergey Vasyutov is considering a move to Fair Grounds during the 2014-15 meet. In a career that has seen him ride in over 2,000 races in Poland, Russia, Kazakhstan, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and the United States, the well-traveled journeyman has won 564 races and was second in the 2005 Polish Derby. The top Polish apprentice rider of 1996, Vasyutov has also worked in England for multiple Group 1-winning trainer Ed Dunlop and made 123 starts in 2013 in the United States. At the 2013 Arlington meet, Vasyutov won five races in 58 starts while primarily riding for conditioner Gennadi Dorochenko...

Reigning Ascot Gold Cup (Eng-G1) winner Leading Light (Montjeu) will join Coolmore's National Hunt roster in 2015. A 520,000gns Tattersalls October purchase by Demi O'Byrne, Leading Light was trained by Aidan O'Brien and raced in the colors of Derrick Smith. The blaze-faced bay earned classic glory in last year's St Leger (Eng-G1), and added a second highest-level score when gutting out a neck victory in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Leading Light finished second in this year's Irish St Leger (Ire-G1), won six group races in total, and was this year's Cartier Champion Stayer. The four-year-old was last seen finishing seventh in the British Champions Long Distance Cup (Eng-G2), where he suffered suspensory injuries to both forelegs in a roughly run race. "He's a gorgeous, big horse and we're delighted to be getting him," Coolmore's Albert Sherwood said...

Born To Sea (Invincible Spirit), whose first foals proved popular at last week's Goffs November Foal Sale, will not stand at Rathasker Stud for 2015, the farm revealed on Twitter. The tweet read, "It has been decided by mutual agreement that Born To Sea will not stand at Rathasker for 2015 season. For nominations contact John Clarke." Clarke is the racing advisor to the Tsui family, which bred and own Born To Sea, a three-quarter brother to Sea the Stars and a half-brother to Galileo. That trio are out of the champion racemare Urban Sea (Miswaki).  Born To Sea, who was a listed winner on debut and finished second to Camelot in the 2012 Irish Derby (Ire-G1), had his first weanlings sell for up to 220,000 at Goffs.

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

SPOT PLAYS

For Sunday

TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
Aqueduct   (6th) Miss Macarena, 6-1
    (7th) Village Warrior, 5-1
Churchill Downs   (4th) Music Critik, 6-1
    (6th) One More Night, 5-1
Del Mar   (2nd) Miss Ellany, 7-2
    (5th) Tribal Dude, 3-1
Fair Grounds   (5th) Blading Wild Cat, 8-1
    (6th) Cat With a Twist, 9-2
Golden Gate Fields   (6th) Mickey Ball, 3-1
    (8th) Uncharted Course, 3-1
Gulfstream Park West   (8th) Justa Little Evil, 3-1
    (9th) Night Song, 4-1
Mountaineer   (1st) Let's Try Another, 6-1
    (4th) Read It and Weep, 3-1
Parx Racing   (8th) Derby Gold, 7-2
    (9th) Sixtieth and Dune, 9-2
Turf Paradise   (5th) Little Earl, 9-2
    (6th) Majestway, 3-1
Woodbine   (3rd) Pugsley, 6-1
    (7th) Marathon Run, 8-1

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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