Bramlage, Fallon, Lavin to be honored by Thoroughbred Club of America
Among his best known cases was repairing Personal Ensign's fracture which had appeared to be career-ending. After surgery, Personal Ensign returned to continue her unbeaten career, culminating in a dramatic victory in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff.
A native of Kansas, Dr. Bramlage graduated from Kansas State University and taught at The Ohio State University before moving to Lexington, Kentucky, in 1989 to join Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, where he became a partner in 1992.
Dr. Fallon represents the fourth generation of a family of veterinarians whose connection to Kentucky dates from 1875, when a Scottish-educated veterinarian named Edward Thomas Hagyard was called to Kentucky to consult on a valuable Shorthorn bull. An equine practice grew from that visit.
Third-generation Charles Edward Hagyard was joined in the practice in 1940 by Arthur Davidson and William McGee, which completed the team that for decades was known as Hagyard-Davidson-McGee (now Hagyard Equine Medical Institute).
Dr. Ed Fallon is the son of Dr. Charles Hagyard's sister. He graduated from Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1956, and his son Luke Hagyard Fallon, a fifth generation equine veterinarian, graduated from Cornell in 1996.
In taking his turn of stewardship of the revered old firm, Dr. Ed Fallon was instrumental in bringing about an era of increased efficiency in broodmare management. He utilized and promoted such scientific developments as ovarian palpation to determine pregnancy in mares and use of artificial lighting to stimulate estrous cycles.
Dr. Lavin is the son of well-known racing secretary Allan Lavin and grew up in the sport. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's veterinary college in 1962 and for many years was a practitioner and surgeon on the race track. The many honors he received reflect the quality of care he gave to clients and their horses. They include his alma mater's Bellwether Medal for Distinguished Leadership, status as a Distinguished Life Member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and designation as a Distinguished Practitioner of the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners.
Further indication of the respect he has earned within his profession was the AAEP's establishment of the Lavin Cup for Equine Welfare in 1996.
Dr. Lavin has given his time and leadership to many roles, having been president of the AAEP and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, as well as steward of The Jockey Club, trustee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, The Breeders' Cup, and presently as director of Keeneland and as vice chairman of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.
Lavin and his family operate Longfield Farm in Goshen, Kentucky. Lavin's wife, Betsy, serves on the Kentucky Racing Commission, and their sons are involved in bloodstock agency and equine insurance.
Better Lucky steals spotlight in Shine Again
Better Lucky was 12 1/2 lengths back after a half-mile and looked like she left too much ground to make up. Grace Hall, the 6-5 favorite, and My Miss Aurelia were side by side as they closed in on the leader in midstretch. Those two bumped just outside the eighth pole causing Grace Hall to lose some ground, but she fought back to claim the lead from My Miss Aurelia in the final yards. Meanwhile, Better Lucky had a clean trip on the outside and managed to mount a furious rally to get up at the wire by a head.
"At one point in the backside, I felt in my mind that they went pretty quick," Castellano added. "I could feel that I didn't want to go at the same pace with my horse. I didn't want to take away anything. I didn't want to be too far back, but I didn't want to ask her too much. And it worked out perfectly, because at the top of the stretch I saw the horses starting to come back to me. They started to slow down, like they were in slow motion. In the right place at the right time.
"I know she's got a good kick, but I just had to find the best place to use it. 'Better lucky,' you know? I found the best place and I won the way the race unfolded. A lot of speed horses in the race. They went pretty quick, but it paid off in the long term."
Grace Hall took second by a half-length over third-place finisher My Miss Aurelia, who was a length clear of Bridgehampton in last. Angel's Glory and Toasting were scratched.
"I think she was the best horse in the race," said Bill Mott, trainer or runner-up Grace Hall. "She was bothered at the three-sixteenths pole and had to come out of there and go around, and she had to alter course at the eighth pole."
"I thought she ran very well," said Todd Pletcher, trainer of My Miss Aurelia. "She hadn't run in a long time, and she fought hard and just got a little tired in the last hundred yards. I think she showed a lot of try and I just left her a little bit short."
Better Lucky covered seven furlongs in 1:22 2/5 over the fast main track. This was her first start on the dirt since capturing an optional claiming race at Belmont in May 2012. The five-year-old mare went off as the 5-1 longest shot on the board and rewarded her backers $12.20 for the victory.
"I think seven-eighths to a mile is really her best distance. Surface doesn't really matter; she's won on three different types of surfaces. She's a really talented filly and she was on her game today. Hopefully we can use this to go to the (Grade 1, $500,000) Ballerina (on August 23)."
Better Lucky followed up her optional claiming win with her first stakes victory in the Grade 2 Sands Point on the grass at Belmont later that month. The bay closed out her sophomore campaign with a victory in the Matriarch over the late turf course at Hollywood Park.
The daughter of Ghostzapper was fourth (but promoted to third) in the Jenny Wiley in April 2013 at Keeneland to kick off her four-year-old campaign. Better Lucky was a close second next time in the Just a Game at Belmont in June. She was not seen again for three months, and returned with a wide-trip third in the September 14 Noble Damsel back at Belmont. She claimed a head victory in First Lady at Keeneland on October 5 and closed out 2014 with a third-place finish in the Matriarch.
Better Lucky finished runner-up in the Madison over the Keeneland Polytrack in April and was exiting an eighth-place finish in the Just A Game at Belmont on June 7. The bay banked $60,000 for her fourth stakes win and has a career mark of 17-6-3-5, $993,950.
Bred by Darley in Kentucky, Better Lucky is a half-sister to Canadian Grade 3 winner Sahara Heat and to the unraced Forest City Girl, the dam of Panamanian champion Outskirt Lady. Better Lucky is out of the Grade 2-winning Seeking the Gold mare Sahara Gold, who is herself a full sister to the stakes-placed Ensenada, dam of multiple Grade 2 scorer Casino Host.
Better Lucky's second dam, Desert Stormer, famously defeated males in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Sprint. Other prominent family members include unbeaten Group 1 queen White Moonstone, Canadian champion Sound Reason and this year's Spiral hero Black Onyx.
Untapable puts finishing touches on Haskell preparations
"We hope she settles in good. She did when she shipped to New York," Fleming said.
Untapable is by Tapit and out of Fun House, another Winchell homebred who incidentally was bred back to North America's leading sire Tapit on the morning of the Kentucky Oaks.
Fun House, termed a "superstar broodmare" by her owner, has a well-earned reputation for being all business. Like mother, like daughter.
"Untapable likes to be by herself and doesn't like a lot of attention from people. She can be warm and fuzzy, but only when it's her idea," Fleming said.
Regular rider Rosie Napravnik, who was replaced in the irons for the Mother Goose by John Velazquez while she was sidelined with a shoulder injury, will be back aboard for the Haskell. She aims to make history as the first female jockey to win Monmouth's signature race. In 2013, Napravnik finished second on Power Broker in the Haskell and won the Molly Pitcher on Joyful Victory and the Matchmaker on Starstruck on the undercard.
Will Take Charge works; Lukas unafraid of Whitney competition
Asked for greater detail about the work, Lukas said to round up the usual suspects of answers.
"What do you expect? You can use any superlatives you want," he said. "Have you ever interviewed a trainer that said he didn't work well? If he works too fast, one little bit too quick: 'Easy.' That's the first line. If he goes too slow, it's: 'Just a maintenance work. That's what I expected. That's what I wanted him to do.'"
Will Take Charge is turning out to be an iron horse. He's run five times this year in top company, winning the Oaklawn Handicap and finishing second in three Grade 1s -- the Donn, Santa Anita and Stephen Foster handicaps. His lone finish out of the exacta came when he finished sixth in the Alysheba on May 2 at Churchill Downs.
Asked about the Whitney, in which Will Take Charge will face Palace Malice among other top older horses in the country, Lukas said, "Look, we're the champion. We don't give a damn who shows up. Bring 'em on. You can't dodge them; they're all going to show up. Line 'em up. Let's see what we've got. There's no place to hide in Saratoga."
Commanding Curve among 10 entered in Curlin
Life in Shambles, a stablemate and frequent work companion for Belmont Stakes hero Tonalist, will likely be on or near the early lead from post 10. Beaten just a head in his stakes bow in the May 17 Sir Barton, the Christophe Clement pupil set a demanding tempo in the June 7 Easy Goer and paid for it late. The gritty gelding wound up third to Kid Cruz and Legend, who could square off in the Jim Dandy (Kid Cruz has the August 2 West Virginia Derby as another possibility). Joel Rosario, aboard for both of his stakes attempts, will guide Life in Shambles from the outside post 10.
The Kid Cruz formline is also represented by Joint Custody and Spot. Joint Custody placed behind Kid Cruz in the Private Terms and Federico Tesio in his home state of Maryland. Venturing to Delaware Park for the Grover (Buddy) Delp Memorial, Joint Custody was outdueled by Tiz'naz, but rebounded with a convincing win in the off-the-turf Stanton in his latest. He renews rivalry with Tiz'naz, who comes to Saratoga off a dismal seventh in the July 5 Long Branch at Monmouth. As the only two stakes winners at a mile or more in the field, Joint Custody and Tiz'naz are the co-highweights at 123 pounds.
Spot made an auspicious start for new connections -- owner Joseph Moss and trainer Nick Zito -- in the Swale at Gulfstream Park, stunning the hitherto unbeaten No Nay Never. But the well-bred son of Pulpit hasn't managed to hit the board in four ensuing races. His best result in that span was his most recent, a closing fourth to Kid Cruz in the July 5 Dwyer, and he could be on the verge of another move forward. Note that Spot gets a rider switch to Jose Ortiz.
The Chad Brown-trained Cousin Stephen aims to fulfill his early promise. Stamping himself as one to watch when crushing an Aqueduct maiden last November, he was the 8-5 favorite in a loaded allowance at Gulfstream in January, but wound up fifth to Commissioner and Top Billing. Cousin Stephen exited that loss with a lung infection. He was back on track in the Sam F. Davis, finishing a battling-on third, but flopped in the Tampa Bay Derby and headed to the sidelines. The Proud Citizen colt made a winning return in a June 16 Parx allowance, where he led throughout before holding on by a desperate nose, and now he gets Hall of Famer John Velazquez in his corner.
Charge Now has always inspired hopes as a half-brother to 2010 Kentucky Derby hero Super Saver. The Bill Mott colt captured a Gulfstream maiden and promptly wired an entry-level allowance at Belmont, earning his way into the Grade 3 ranks in the Iowa Derby. But Charge Now never got involved after breaking slowly and trudged home seventh in the Prairie Meadows slop. The son of Tiznow is eligible to make amends.
Protonico is another blueblood who is likely better than his lone stakes result, a sixth in last fall's Nashua. By Giant's Causeway and out of an A.P. Indy mare, Protonico has won both of his other starts. He romped in his debut at Delaware, captured a Belmont allowance most recently in his first outing for Todd Pletcher, and keeps Javier Castellano in the saddle.
Viva Majorca and V. E. Day are stepping up to face stakes rivals, but both have the right profile to make an impact. Viva Majorca, a Marylou Whitney homebred, trounced a Gulfstream maiden by 12 lengths and rolled to a 3 1/2-length allowance win at Churchill Downs. Although he has raced only in sprints so far, the son of Tiago is bred to prefer a route. V. E. Day comes off two straight wins at Belmont for Jimmy Jerkens, in a sloppy, off-the-turf maiden and a turf allowance at this trip. The English Channel colt's preferred surface is yet to be determined, for he is untested on a fast main track.
Sky Kingdom, Soi Phet top 11-horse Cougar II field
The only one in the 11-horse Cougar II field with a victory over the Del Mar Polytrack is Soi Phet, who is actually undefeated in three outings over the surface. All three occurred against allowance company at the 2013 meet, and the Leonard Powell charge recently scored his first stakes win taking the $101,000 Bertrando for California-breds at Los Alamitos.
Longview Drive, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, exits a one-length victory in the $100,000 Oak Tree Handicap at Pleasanton, which followed a head loss against Grade 3 company in the All American over Golden Gate Fields' Tapeta track.
Old Time Hockey, winner of the La Jolla Handicap over the Del Mar turf two years ago, tries a synthetic surface for the first time in the Cougar II. Hero of the Florida Cup Turf Classic at Tampa Bay Downs in April, the gelded son of Smarty Jones recently rallied for fourth in the American Flag at Los Alamitos after a slow start.
Other notables lining up in the Cougar II are Peruvian Group 1 winner Lideris, a distant fifth in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in his U.S. bow, and the Grade 2-placed American Blend, who debuts for trainer John Sadler after being claimed for $75,000 at Santa Anita on June 15.
Harpoon takes stab at turf sprint in Quick Call
The Quick Call will be a significant turnback in distance for Harpoon, but Pletcher believes his colt may get a favorable setup.
"There's a lot of speed in the race, so he should be able to come from off the pace," the trainer said. "It's a small field, so we're taking a shot. He's shown hints of having talent and we thought his sprint on the turf last time was good."
Harpoon, 7-2 on the morning line, will be ridden by Javier Castellano from post 2.
Favorite Tale has been pegged as the 5-2 favorite in his first turf attempt. The Guadalupe Preciado trainee has faltered in his two forays into graded stakes company, but has been far more effective at this level. Victorious in the Gold Fever at Belmont in the spring, he comes off a tough-beat second in the July 5 Oh Say at Delaware Park. Rosie Napravnik picks up the mount on the Tale of the Cat gelding, who figures to transfer his early speed to the turf.
Escapist, a half-brother to multiple Grade 3 winner Clearly Now, has won both of his career starts in turf sprints. He will add to the hot pace in his stakes debut, along with Good Bye Greg, unbeaten in his two starts on Polytrack, and Pure Sensation, second to Favorite Tale in the Gold Fever two back and another trying turf for the first time. Choctaw Chuck, winner of the Tom Ridge on Presque Isle's Tapeta, and Glacken Too have also shown some early foot on occasion.
As usual, the Thursday card features a steeplechase. Bill Pape's Bluegrass Summer, the reigning novice steeplechase champion, returns to the races against a full field of contenders for the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at 2 1/16 miles over national fences.
Trained by Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, Bluegrass Summer won an optional allowance at Saratoga last year and will be making his first start since finishing fourth in the Supreme Hurdle last November. He will be coupled in the wagering with Anne Pape's Fog Island, who is trained by Richard Valentine and will be ridden by Robbie Walsh. Valentine also entered Gil Johnston's Awesome Pearl.
Jack Fisher entered Schoodic, last year's three-year-old champion. The homebred Tiznow gelding fell from the unbeaten ranks over fences when third in the Marcellus Frost. Reigning champion jockey Paddy Young has the mount.
Willie McCarthy, the current leading jockey, has the mount on Top Striker, who opened the year with a victory in the Carolina Cup on March 29. He subsequently finished third in the Queen's Cup MPC 'Chase near Charlotte on April 26. Trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. tightened Top Striker with a third on the Belmont Park turf on July 4.
Saratoga will be the proving ground for several imported hurdlers including the Irish-bred Saint Jerome; Gmac, who made his U.S. debut with an allowance hurdle in May, and Bob Le Beau, an Irish hurdler who will be making his first 2014 start under Jack Doyle. Bob Le Beau will be coupled in the wagering with Kingdom.
Completing the field are Tempt Me Alex, winner of the Iroquois Steeplechase's Bright Hour Stakes, and Sporty, third in the Bright Hour.
Taghrooda seeking rare Oaks-King George double
Taghrooda would be only the second Oaks winner to capture the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes in the same year if successful at Ascot on Saturday.
The three-year-old filly, owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, trained by John Gosden and likely to be ridden by the owner's retained jockey Paul Hanagan, is out to follow in the footsteps of Pawneese who won the fillies' classic at Epsom Downs by five lengths before a length victory over Bruni in 1976.
Another Oaks winner has been successful in the 12-furlong King George, but Time Charter's triumph came a year after (1983) her Epsom victory.
Sheikh Hamdan, successful with Nashwan in 1989, is seeking a second King George success, while Gosden has enjoyed one winner (Nathaniel in 2011) from six runners. Hanagan is due to have his first mount in the King George.
There have been seven successes for fillies and mares in the King George. The only other three-year-old filly, besides Pawneese, to succeed was Dahlia in 1973. Dahlia won the race again in 1974, while the other female scorers were Danedream (2012), Park Top (1969) and Aunt Edith (1966).
A total of 56 fillies and mares have taken part in the King George, with Look Here (sixth in 2009) the last Oaks winner to attempt the double.
The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, Britain's top middle-distance race, is being run for the 64th time. Three-year-olds and four-year-olds have both been successful 28 times, while five-year-olds have won six renewals and one six-year-old has been victorious.
Brown Panther, part owned by Michael Owen and trained by Tom Dascombe, is the only six-year-old still engaged this year, while there are two five-year-olds -- the William Haggas-trained Mukhadram, another owned by Sheikh Hamdan, who was successful in the Eclipse Stakes last time out, and the Lady Cecil-trained Noble Mission who runs in Khalid Abdullah's famous colors.
The winner of the Eclipse has gone on to victory 12 times (in the same year) in the King George, though none has triumphed at Ascot since Opera House in 1993. The others to do the Eclipse-King George double in the same year were Tulyar (1952), Ballymoss (1958), Busted (1967), Royal Palace (1968), Mill Reef (1971), Brigadier Gerard (1972), Ela-Mana-Mou (1980), Kalaglow (1982), Dancing Brave (1986), Mtoto (1988) and Nashwan (1989).
Noble Mission gained his first Group 1 victory in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh earlier this year and three winners of the Irish race have won the King George in the same year -- Montjeu (2000), Hurricane Run (2006) and Duke of Marmalade (2008).
Six four-year-olds are headed by Telescope, owned by the Wavertree Syndicate of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by Ryan Moore, who was the impressive seven-length winner of the Hardwicke Stakes over the same course and distance at Royal Ascot. Another Highclere horse, Harbinger, also trained by Sir Michael, took the 2010 Hardwicke in terrific style and then won the King George by a record margin of 11 lengths next time out.
Among those with entries this year, Sir Michael is the most successful trainer in the King George, with five victories from 35 runners. Harbinger was the latest of them, with the others being Conduit (2009), Golan (2002), Opera House (1993) and Shergar (1981). Moore was successful on Conduit (from seven rides in the race).
Godolphin is going for a sixth King George victory with the Jim Bolger-trained Trading Leather, who was second last year, after success with Doyen (2004), Daylami (1999), Swain (1997-98) and Lammtarra (1995). Irish-based Bolger, who also trains likely pacemaker Leitir Mor, has had one King George success -- St Jovite in 1992 -- from three runners.
Michael Tabor, part-owner of Magician and Hall of Mirrors who are both trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien, is also after a sixth King George win, following on from Duke of Marmalade (2008), Dylan Thomas (2007), Hurricane Run (2006), Galileo (2001) and Montjeu (2000).
There have been 11 Irish-trained winners of the King George, with O'Brien sending out three of them (Duke Of Marmalade, Dylan Thomas and Galileo). French raiders have succeeded 10 times and there is one potential runner this year, the Andre Fabre-trained and Abdullah-owned Flintshire. Fabre has had one King George winner from seven runners -- Hurricane Run.
The two other three-year-olds, besides Taghrooda, among the 12 horses going forward at Monday's five-day stage are supplementary entry Eagle Top, who won Royal Ascot's King Edward VII Stakes for owner Lady Bamford in good style on only his third start, and Romsdal, who races for Princess Haya of Jordan and finished third in the Derby last time out. Both are trained by Gosden, who is responsible for the three three-year-olds in the 2014 King George which is now worth £1,065,000.
Eagle Top is aiming to be the third King George winner who also took the King Edward VII in the same year. The two to achieve this double have been Nathaniel (2011) and Supreme Court (1951).
"This is what the King George is all about -- a classic-winning three-year-old and up-and-coming Royal Ascot winner of that generation taking on the very best of the older horses, headed by Telescope, who has all the hallmarks of being another Harbinger for the same team after his Hardwicke Stakes win," said Nick Smith, Ascot's Head of Communications and International Racing.
"To have Mukhadram, the Eclipse winner, in there too, and the likes of Flintshire and Noble Mission as possibles, makes this one of the most exciting renewals of Europe's premier midsummer race for some time."
High-profile juveniles Tiggy Wiggy, Estidhkaar, Faydhan form plans
Impressive Weatherbys Super Sprint heroine Tiggy Wiggy might skip the August 22 Nunthorpe at York and instead use the Group 2 Lowther at that venue August 21 as a springboard to take on her elders in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp October 5, according to PA Sport.
The bay filled the runner-up spot behind Anthem Alexander in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot and put on a show in Saturday's Weatherbys Super Sprint. Trainer Richard Hannon is bullish on her chances, as he wrote on his website www.richardhannonracing.co.uk Monday.
"It gets better every time I see it and it would be exciting taking on the older horses, but we might wait until the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp on Arc day," Hannon said.
"They tell me that no two-year-old has won that race since Sigy in 1978, but Tiggy Wiggy enjoys a bit of cut in the ground and she would be more likely to get it there than at York. That said, we have not ruled out the Ebor meeting, and even if we swerved the Nunthorpe, there is always the Lowther against her own age group."
Hannon is also formulating plans for Estidhkaar, scintillating winner as the favorite of the Superlative at Newmarket's July Festival July 12.
According to PA Sport, Estidhkaar will point toward the Group 1 Dewhurst as his season finale October 17. Rated at 113, Sheikh Hamdan's colorbearer may go to Goodwood or take in the Group 2 Champagne at Doncaster September 13 before a possible start in the Dewhurst.
Shadwell racing Manager Angus Gold told At the Races, "I've only spoken to Richard (Hannon) briefly and he said Goodwood could be a possibility. If we think he's good enough to run in the Dewhurst, though, then we'll work backwards from there. He'll only have a few more races this year.
"I would guess that he'll be in the Goodwood race, but we may wait for something like the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster to see whether he is good enough to run in the Group 1."
Sheikh Hamdan has another highflying juvenile in Faydhan, who is given odds as low as 12-1 to take next May's Two Thousand Guineas. According to PA Sport, connections are considering multiple options for the impressive Haydock maiden winner.
Under the care of veteran trainer John Gosden, the $500,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase has progressed since his sharp six-length maiden score July 3.
"John said we'll look at a conditions race somewhere to get some more experience into him before deciding on whether to stay at six furlongs or to step him up to seven," Gold told At The Races. "If we decide he's fast enough then we'll go for the Gimcrack (at York August 23) and then possibly the Middle Park at Newmarket (October 17) at the end of the season.
"John is pleased with him and he's always looked a nice horse. He was a beautiful yearling and a real sharp looking type. His joints were a little immature early and that's why we didn't see him any earlier than Haydock. We hope to get him back on the racecourse soon."
Heir Kitty commands $750,000 from Narvick International
Three hips earlier, Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Sushi Empire was sold to Ron McCauley for $275,000. The Empire Maker sophomore was offered by Sweezey and Partners, agent, just one day after her fifth in Saturday's San Clemente Handicap.
Sushi Empire finished third as a maiden in the Miesque last November and earned her only victory next time out in the January 1 Blue Norther. The Eoin Harty pupil has placed twice this campaign, notably in the May 2 Ultrafleet, and has bankrolled $96,270 from her 11-1-2-2 line.
A Eugene Melnyk Kentucky-bred, Sushi Empire brought $165,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling before RNA'ing for $145,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Florida two-year-old. She was produced by the winning Danzig mare Dowell House, who is a half-sister to two-time Canadian champion Marchfield. Sushi Empire's second dam is multiple Grade 3 star and Canadian Broodmare of the Year Pico Teneriffe.
Other prominent purchases were Grade 2 diva Ciao Bella Luna, who went to SF Bloodstock for $250,000, and unraced three-year-old filly Please Hold, who attracted $220,000 from trainer Jim Cassidy. Both hailed from the consignment of SGV Thoroughbreds.
Cassidy also secured the top juvenile and fifth on the overall leaderboard, Shh She's Ours, for $145,000. A debut winner at Los Alamitos July 4 for Paul Aguirre, the Tiz Wonderful filly was a prime contender in the July 13 Cinderella, only to flip in the paddock and get scratched by the veterinarian.
Shh She's Ours, who was listed as Hip 11, was making her third sales appearance. The Dixiana Farms-bred fetched $35,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky and RNA'd for $48,000 at Barretts in May. Havens Bloodstock Agency, agent, consigned her here.
Two additional two-year-olds brought higher hammer prices, but ultimately failed to reach their reserves. Peradventure, third in the July 13 Willard Proctor Memorial, was unsold at $240,000, and Don't Blame Me, second in her debut, maxed out at $190,000.
Conducted by Barretts, the Paddock Sale posted significant gains in gross and average from 2013, thanks to Heir Kitty. Barretts reported that 19 horses realized $2,147,000, a 70.8 percent spike from the $1,257,000 grossed by 17 horses a year ago. The average jumped 52.8 percent, from $73,941 to $113,000. But the median declined 16 percent, from $50,000 to $42,000.
For complete results, visit barretts.com.
Del Mar's numbers rise during shorter first week
Del Mar began its 75th summer season on a Thursday this year, but just as it has for the better part of two decades, the shore track broke running with "up" numbers proving boss despite the opening day shift.
Whereas the seaside oval bypassed its normal Wednesday beginning in order to have an extra day to ready itself following an extended San Diego Fair season, the opening four days of the session proved solid on its ledgers even though it lost a day and a total of five races in the first of seven weeks that comprise the 2014 meeting.
The track's accounting department came up with an apples-to-apples comparison of the numbers by taking the opening Wednesday from 2013, dropping the following Thursday, and matching up four days to four days in its calculations. When it did so, the numbers showed on-track handle up slightly at 2.1 percent at a daily average of $3,090,524 this year versus $3,025,849 in 2013.
The track's ADW numbers along with its Southern California ITW figures this season showed a notable gain of 7.9 percent with $4,563,058 accounted for this season as opposed to $4,228,012 last. Northern California and out-of-state numbers also rose and overall the track's full handle increased by 4.9 percent -- $14,697,782 in '14 over $14,007,511 in '13.
The track's attendance figures held firm in the four-day comparison with a daily average of 24,960 this year just besting 24,831 last year, an increase of 0.5 percent. Early attendance numbers always rotate around the track's Opening Day figures, which annually top all other tracks in the country. The 2013 Opening Day gathering was 43,030, while this summer's beginner was 42,021.
"We most certainly had a fine week to start the 2014 season," said Del Mar's executive vice president for racing Tom Robbins. "The support by our horsemen was not just good, it was terrific. We've got a full barn area, we've had full fields and the racing so far has been first-rate."
Mike Pegram, the president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the track's partner in providing its racing product, also saw nothing but good things in the track's quick start.
"Del Mar is a place where every horseman in California wants to win a race, so it is no surprise to see the positive participation by our owners and trainers in the first week of this new meet," he said. "We all appreciate the special atmosphere at this racing facility and we further appreciate the good attitudes and enthusiasm of the Del Mar staff and the Del Mar racing fans. It is a fine place to go racing."
Del Mar's field size was strong through the first four cards and a total of 40 races. The average there was 9.4 runners per race. Last summer through the first five days and 45 races the field size number was 8.8.
The track's "Ship and Win" program, now in its fourth summer, continued to provide encouragement to those following the circuit, as well as many new four-legged participants that add meat, potatoes and sweet spice to the racing stew. Through five racing days last year there were 28 "S&W" horses who had run at the session. This year after four days there have been 34. Each "S&W" horse banks a check for $1,000 for running, then those who win earn an extra 33 1/3 percent in purse money on top of their regular money.
It is notable that while the "four-to-four" comparison provides the best yardstick to measure last summer to this, a look at the "five to four" numbers only give further luster to the track's solid start. If the "five" of 2013 was put up against the "four" of 2014, the percentage of increases would prove even larger. On-track handle would be up over 13.0 percent, ADW and Southern California ITW figures would rise by 18.2 percent and the overall handle average would be a plus of 12.6 percent.
Lake George draws Sassy, Daring fillies
The daughter of More Than Ready projects a stalking trip from her outside post 7.
In light of A Little Bit Sassy's disqualification from an apparent Grade 3 victory, Daring Dancer rates as the lone graded winner in the field, a distinction that makes her the 123-pound highweight. The Graham Motion pupil took her first three career starts by daylight, capped by a Grade 3 trophy in the April 17 Appalachian at Keeneland in her reappearance.
Daring Dancer lost her perfect record last time in the May 25 Wonder Again at Belmont Park, where she was a nonthreatening fifth as the 4-5 favorite. The Wonder Again turned out to be the key prep for the Belmont Oaks Invitational, with Minorette and Sea Queen reversing their exacta from the Wonder Again. Daring Dancer hopes to rebound here with regular rider Alan Garcia.
The other "daring" filly, Daring Kathy, invades from Gulfstream Park for trainer David Fawkes. Undefeated since switching to turf back in March, she has dominated the May 10 Honey Ryder and the June 15 Starfish Bay in wire-to-wire fashion. The dangerous front runner picks up Hall of Famer John Velazquez for her graded debut.
"I like her a lot in there; she's the lone speed," Fawkes said. "I drew the 1 post. Johnny is riding. He's good, right?
"For the kind of filly she is, she's got a bigger foot for a Wildcat Heir and on the flatter side. "I'll be honest, before she ran (on turf), it was the owners' (Steve Laymon and John Eaton) idea to run on the grass, and I dragged my feet because she would be more valuable on dirt."
Also likely to show some early foot is Speed Seeker, who crushed a June 8 maiden at Woodbine by 7 3/4 lengths in her premiere. The Joan Scott trainee takes a significant class hike in just her second career start.
Brown's two entrants are both European imports who have yet to finish off the board. Sweet Acclaim was third to Miss France and Lightning Thunder in last September's Oh So Sharp at Newmarket, a result that looked even better when those fillies ran one-two in the May 4 One Thousand Guineas. By that point, Sweet Acclaim had already settled in stateside. Runner-up to Daring Dancer in her American debut in the Appalachian, she has subsequently placed in the May 18 Wait a While and the June 21 Wild Applause, both at Belmont.
"This filly kind of got a wide journey last time and hung out a little bit," Brown said. "Hopefully, we can save a little ground this time, and hopefully she can handle the stretch-out to a mile and a sixteenth. She's never been this far. I love the way she's training. She's come in here with a nice series of workouts, so we're optimistic she's going to run well."
Little Journey didn't bring such a golden formline with her from France, but she has continued her reliable profile in the United States. In her first start for Brown in the Edgewood, she finished third to A Little Bit Sassy and Istanford, who has since gone on to defeat males in the Arlington Classic and just added the San Clemente Handicap to her line. Little Journey tried Grade 1 company in the May 31 American Oaks at Santa Anita, checking in third to Room Service, and drops back in distance at the Spa.
"I like the timing of the race, putting her back into a Grade 2 also," Brown said. "In a perfect world, I wish this race was a little farther, but I think she's versatile enough to cut back and handle the distance."
Duff One has been well beaten in her four most recent stakes attempts, but she was second in last summer's P.G. Johnson on Saratoga's Mellon turf.
Matt Winn (G3) runner-up Ulanbator (Offlee Wild) tuned up for Saturday's $600,000 Jim Dandy (G2) with a half-mile breeze over Saratoga's main track Monday morning. Going out in trainer Ian Wilkes' second set under regular rider Julien Leparoux, the colt was timed in :48, seventh-fastest of 58 horses. "It was perfect," Wilkes said. "He ran not long ago and we had a live work last weekend. This was just something to let him stretch his legs and gallop out strong. He's doing well, so that's all I was looking for." Ulanbator has one win in seven lifetime starts, a maiden victory over older horses on March 20 at Gulfstream Park. Most recently, Ulanbator ran third behind Jim Dandy candidate Kid Cruz (Lemon Drop Kid) in the Dwyer (G3) at Belmont Park on July 5, beaten 5 1/4 lengths after stumbling at the start. "Don't take anything away from the winner; we got beat," Wilkes said. "He did lose a hind shoe in the race and sort of flattened out after that. But, he's an improving horse and getting better each time." Also pointing for the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy are Belmont S. (G1) winner Tonalist (Tapit), Wood Memorial (G1) winner Wicked Strong (Hard Spun) and Easy Goer S. runner-up Legend (Tiznow). The Jim Dandy lost a top contender in multiple Grade 3 winner Samraat (Noble Causeway), who came out of a July 19 work at Saratoga with a stress fracture in his right shin and is done for the year...
Trainer Leah Gyarmati said multiple Grade 1-winning filly Sweet Reason (Street Sense) emerged from a five-furlong work at Saratoga on Sunday in good shape. She breezed five furlongs in :59 1/5, the fastest of 36 horses. "She's really turned a corner this year with her breezes," she said. "She's never been this kind of work horse and now every time she works she's been right there. She's just growing up." Sweet Reason is expected to make her next start in the $500,000 Test (G1) at Saratoga on August 2. She captured the Spinaway (G1) at the same seven furlongs here last summer, and most recently won the Acorn (G1) on June 7 at Belmont. "She's just doing better and she's happier," Gyarmati said. "She loves it here, so that should be a good sign for August 2, we hope."
Noble Moon (Malibu Moon), unraced since finishing sixth in the Wood Memorial (G1) on April 5, may make his return on Saturday at Saratoga. Trainer Leah Gyarmati is considering the $200,000 Amsterdam (G2) at 6 1/2 furlongs for Noble Moon's comeback race, rather than the nine-furlong Jim Dandy (G2) the same day. "We're thinking of the Amsterdam; we'll see," she said. "He has had off and on chronic foot problems. We've given him all the time to get things in line; the question will be is the Amsterdam the right place to come back off this kind of layoff. It's going to depend on exactly how he's doing and who's going in there." Impressive winner of the Jerome (G2) at Aqueduct to kick off his three-year-old campaign, Noble Moon saved ground to the quarter pole but wound up 8 3/4 lengths behind victorious Wicked Strong (Hard Spun) in the Wood. His most recent published work came July 13, a six-furlong move in 1:15 1/5 on Belmont Park's main track. "I would like to do some little blowout before (the Amsterdam) if that's what we end up doing. If we don't end up going in that spot, I'll probably breeze on that day," Gyarmati said. "He's a nice horse; he has talent. He's a big, thick horse so you have to be careful. He goes through different stages, and you have to work around it."...
Stopchargingmaria (Tale of the Cat) became a Grade 1 winner for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole with a dominant five-length score in the Coaching Club American Oaks on Sunday at Saratoga, and will now target the $600,000 Alabama (G1) on August 16. The Pletcher trainee began her year with a pair of disappointing performances, a fifth-place finish in the Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream Park and a fourth-place finish in the Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn Park, but took a noticeable step forward once her home base shifted to Saratoga. "I told (owner) Mike (Repole) that this filly has never trained better than she has here in the last month," Pletcher said. "She seems to really like Saratoga. She has been training much more powerfully than she did this winter, so we expected a big effort from her." The revitalized Stopchargingmaria came out of the race in fine fettle, according to Pletcher. "She came out of the race really well," Pletcher said. "Anytime you win a Grade 1 at Saratoga it's very satisfying. With a filly like that, that had multiple graded stakes wins but not a Grade 1, it was a breakthrough performance to that highest echelon."...
Bright Thought (Hat Trick) and No Jet Lag (Johar), two also-rans from last year's Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), attempt to recover their old form in Wednesday's $90,000 Wickerr at Del Mar. Bright Thought set a short-lived world record for 1 1/2 miles on turf in the 2013 San Luis Rey (G2), but was later sidelined by a splint injury. Unplaced in four of five outings since his return, the Jorge Gutierrez charge gets class relief as well as a cutback in trip to a grassy mile. No Jet Lag, who upset last October's City of Hope Mile (G2) at odds of 13-1, has failed to hit the board in his three ensuing starts. Trainer Simon Callaghan has freshened him in the wake of a sixth in the Arcadia (G2) on February 1. Like Bright Thought, No Jet Lag has been training forwardly for this lower-key assignment. Barocci (Deep Impact), last seen finishing third to No Jet Lag in the City of Hope, makes his comeback for John Sadler here, and the import is still looking for his first U.S. stakes win. Other contenders include multiple Argentinean Group 1-placed Safety Belt (Easing Along), an allowance winner in his latest for Ron McAnally, as well as fellow recent allowance scorers Rangi (New Approach), Boyett (Sharp Humor) and Lil Bit O' Fun (Langfuhr)...
Lightly raced Kiss Moon (Malibu Moon) heads an overflow field of 14 entered in Wednesday's $200,000 Indiana Grand S., which shares the card with the $100,000 Girls Inc. of Shelbyville, Shelby County S. at Indiana Grand. Kiss Moon finished fourth last out in the Regret (G3) at Churchill Downs before being elevated to third via the disqualification of winner A Little Bit Sassy. That filly floated Aurelia's Belle, winner of Saturday's Arlington Oaks (G3), across the track and interfered with Kiss Moon, who was bumped, shut off and forced to check hard. The David Vance trainee was unable to factor in the May 2 Kentucky Oaks (G1) but did place in the Fantasy (G2) and Honeybee (G3) over the spring. Kiss Moon will have Rodney Prescott in the irons for the first time since taking her maiden debut at Turfway Park last December. Also lining up in the one-mile turf contest for sophomore fillies are Ice for the Lady (Flatter) and She's Offlee Good (Offlee Wild), whose respective win and third-placing in the Northbound Pride Oaks were enhanced on Saturday after that race's runner-up, Stellaris, finished second in the Arlington Oaks. Earlier on the card, another oversubscribed field of 14 distaffers has been entered to go 1 1/16 miles on the grass in the Girls Inc. of Shelbyville, Shelby County S. Sister Ginger (Student Council), winner of last year's Indiana Grand and a neck second in the Opelousas S. most recently, will break from the rail and face off against Opelousas winner Malibu Yankee (Malibu Moon), Grade 3 veteran Via Villaggio (Bernardini) and the respective top three from the Ellis Park Turf S. -- Honey Hues (Henny Hughes), Gal About Town (City Zip) and Faerie Queene (Pure Prize)...
For the second straight year, trainer Bruce Brown won an opening-weekend turf sprint stakes at Saratoga, this time taking the Lucky Coin with Spring to the Sky (Langfuhr). Spring to the Sky was ninth in the Jaipur (G3) on June 7 at Belmont before leading from start to finish when taking an optional claimer by 2 3/4 lengths on June 29. "(The Lucky Coin) was the first time he has won two races in a row," Brown said. "That's always been his thing: he'll run a big race, and then it knocks him out or something happens. It wasn't quite his fault. He'd run a big race, and then we'd put him in over his head. But this shows he's in form and he's getting better. The fact he can put in two good efforts in a row is a good thing." Alone or in partnership, Spring to the Sky's owner Anthony McCarthy has raced horses since 2008 but had never posed for a winner's circle photo with one of his horses until Sunday. "The owner, Anthony McCarthy, he's from Saratoga," Brown said. "He's won a dozen races or so, but he's never been in the winner's circle for any of his horses. He lived in Europe, but he finally moved back, so that was the first time he was in the winner's circle with one of his horses." Spring to the Sky now will be pointed toward the $100,000 Troy on August 13. Like the Lucky Coin, the Troy is a 5 1/2-furlong turf dash...
The Hampton Classic and the Breeders' Cup have joined forces to offer fans attending the 39th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show, August 24-31 in Bridgehampton, New York, the "Classic to Classic Getaway" -- an outstanding trip for two to this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships. As a part of an agreement announced in May, Designated as Official Marketing Partners of one another, the Breeders' Cup and Hampton Classic partnership creates a rarely seen connection between the luxury worlds of Thoroughbred racing and equestrian show jumping. With both events built around the pageantry, passion and luxury appeal of the elite equestrian lifestyle, the collaboration aims to create further synergies among audiences, patrons and sponsors -- who all appreciate horses as well as the best-in-class fashion, dining and hospitality experiences offered by these prestigious lifestyle brands. The 31st Breeders' Cup will be held October 31-November 1 at Santa Anita. The "Classic to Classic Getaway," which is open to all Hampton Classic VIP table holders and sponsors includes: two complimentary round trip airline tickets; complimentary three-night stay at official Breeders' Cup hotel; and two complimentary VIP tickets to both Friday and Saturday of the Breeders' Cup World Championships. The announcement of the winners will be made over the public address system on Grand Prix Sunday. An entry card will be provided in the check-in packet that patrons receive, there will also be some cards available at the VIP check-in tables in the tents.
For Tuesday or Next Raceday
DEL MAR NOTEBOOK
JULY 23, 2014
by John Mucciolo
A pair of graded races on the lawn headlined the opening week at Del Mar Race Course.
Eddie Read S. (G1): Braly Family Trust's TOM'S TRIBUTE (Lion Heart) got the jump turning for home and held a nice one at bay late in securing a 1 1/4-length victory for trainer James Cassidy. The four-year-old colt sped nine panels on the firm turf in 1:46 under the guidance of Mike Smith.
San Clemente H. (G2): Ike Thrash et al's ISTANFORD (Istan) broke slow, rushed up to the front and never looked back in posting a facile 2 1/2-length tally for conditioner Mike Stidham. The three-year-old filly traveled one mile on the firm lawn in 1:33 3/5 under Rafael Bejarano.
From a total of 40 races held at the Southern California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 30 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 48 percent of the wins. From 26 frays contested on the Polytrack oval, seven animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (27 percent), while two of the 14 grassy tussles went all the way on the lead (14 percent).
The main oval was very speed and rail prominent during the first few days of the week, but we thought it was a bit more balanced over the weekend. Last season during opening week, 48 percent of the main-track races resulted in wire-to-wire winners, compared to the 30 percent this campaign. But we still prefer inside speed going forward.
Turf racing on this new course was pretty fair we'd say, with speed and late runners equally capable of rolling home in first place. We know the oval is very firm, but so far so good with the changes to the re-configured surface.
Trainer John Sadler came out of the blocks well for the meeting, as did Gary Sherlock, who saddled a pair of big-priced winners. We'll keep an eye on both during the upcoming week of racing.
HORSES TO WATCH
3RD -- HAIL MARY (Old Topper) was a sharp second in her first run since the fall and this filly should be very tough next out with one under her belt. The Phil d'Amato trainee was outmoved in early stretch but never gave up and re-rallied to make a race of it late.
5TH -- KOKALTASH (Haafhd) was last early and had a ton to do at the top of the lane, but this Euro import showed a nice turn of foot to be an encouraging third behind a loose-on-the-lead winner under Brice Blanc. Tab the four-year-old colt for success in the U. S. with expected improvement for Darrell Vienna.
7TH -- CINMARS DANCE (Cindago) showed little speed but a nice turn of foot on an oval where closing types had little chance during the opening week. The Eric Kruljac trainee was heavily bet from a big morning line and showed why in this sharp third.
3RD -- BOOZER (Unusual Heat) handled the stretch out in trip with relative ease for Mark Glatt, pressing the pace and taking over in the lane en route to a facile allowance score beneath Rafael Bejarano. The gelded four-year-old came home in race horse time and will edge closer to a stakes try with another like this.
6TH -- PURE TACTICS (Pure Prize) broke slowest of all from the rail but was soon well spotted, and his win in the latter stages of this turf dash was easier than it appears on paper. The stakes winner is back in fine form and is poised for a return to black-type company.
1ST -- KANTUNE (Kantharos) swept to the front turning form home and had a nice edge late, only to be rundown by a Baffert firster in a sharp debut performance. The Mark Casse-trained colt should surely be graduating with improvement from this debut run.
IRON FIST (Tapit) was last to the top of the lane on a speed-favoring surface, so his late rally to be a clear fourth might be a lot better than it looks for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. We think the expensive sort could have a nice future, as he is bred to run a lot longer than five panels.
5TH -- BENCH WARRANT (Street Boss) received clear sailing along the rail en route to a first-out tally for trainer John Sadler, but we thought this was a nice field of prospects and to see a juvenile rally like he did was impressive. Keep an eye on this one all summer, as he should be making noise in the stakes ranks.
9TH -- MY CONQUESTADORY (Artie Schiller) burned some of ours, as well as others' money in this affair, but the Mark Casse trainee gave up ground every step of the way and we thought she did well to be third. We love this miss and hope she progresses this season the way we think she will.
2ND -- TIGAH (Dalakhani) was last early but began to pick up momentum nearing the top of the lane, and the class dropper did the rest in a solid claiming score under Corey Nakatani. The graded winner has lost a step or two, but he could be a nice claim for Barry Abrams as a level that suits him just fine.
4TH -- Hollendorfer unveiled a nice prospect to watch in TARA'S TANGO (Unbridled's Song), who lived up to the billing in a swift debut sprint win on this main oval. Bet down to 6-5 odds, the juvenile miss contested the lead before pulling away late, getting five panels in a wicked :57 2/5.
6TH -- Sadler got another fine maiden winner in SHYSHEISNOT (Tribal Rule) who blew past the leader in late stretch like a good thing. The sophomore filly didn't set the teletimer on fire, but she did close into a biased oval and looked to have plenty left in the closing stages and through the wire.
8TH -- Baffert's LUMINANCE (Tale of the Cat) was no stranger at the tote board and showed why, as the juvenile filly made a big move in early stretch and glided home a most impressive winner. The two-year-old prospect proved she can run from behind horses and really could be any kind.
A Look Ahead
The weekend feature at Del Mar is Sunday's Grade 1, $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap. Also slated in the graded ranks are the Grade 2, $200,000 San Diego Handicap on Saturday, and Friday's Grade 3, $100,000 Cougar II Handicap.
Top Speed/Class ratings
TOP BRIS CLASS RATINGS
(through July 21, 2014)
Note: Figures are for North American-based racing
At a Glance
AT A GLANCE SCHEDULE
*all times Eastern
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