Triple Crown News & Notes
Hoppertunity, General a Rod work under Twin Spires
Hoppertunity, who arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday, enters Derby 140 off a runner-up finish in the Santa Anita Derby behind probable Derby favorite California Chrome.
"I was happy with the way he ran (in the Santa Anita Derby) and he finished well," Baffert said. "I didn't think he was going to beat California Chrome, but he ran a good, solid race.
"He (Hoppertunity) is a laid-back horse and he is not going to wow you. He is just a steady horse and he moves well over the track. We know he can run."
Prior to the Santa Anita Derby, Hoppertunity finished fourth in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds and first in the Rebel at Oaklawn Park.
General a Rod recorded his first official work at Churchill Downs, covering five furlongs in 1:03 2/5 with splits of :13, :26 1/5, 39 and out six furlongs in 1:17 3/5 with exercise rider Joel Barrientos up for trainer Mike Maker.
General a Rod's work came after the morning renovation break and was followed by Louisiana Derby winner Vicar's In Trouble, who galloped.
"They're all in good shape," Maker said. "General a Rod had a routine, maintenance work, so we'll work him back in six days and go from there."
General a Rod, the Gulfstream Park Derby winner, subsequently finished second in the Fountain of Youth and third in the Florida Derby.
Ria Antonia works five-eighths for Oaks
Mike Smith, who rode Princess of Sylmar to victory in the 2013 Oaks, has the mount next Friday.
In other Oaks news, the DRF's David Grening tweeted out that trainer Leah Gyarmati has taken Grade 1 winner Sweet Reason out of Oaks consideration in favor of running in the Grade 1, $750,000 Acorn on June 7 at Belmont Park.
With Sweet Reason's defection, Thank You Marylou is now 14th on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard.
Derby Trial highlights opening night at Churchill Downs
"I am going to enter him, but I am not sure if he will run," Baffert said of Chitu. "This gives me an option. He's a lazy work horse. He needs to get one good work and I want to see how he trains."
Laddie Boy makes his first start at Churchill Downs since finishing second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club in late November. Conditioned by Chuck Peery, the gray colt showed little in his first two outings this year on Polytrack, recording a pair of fifths in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway and the off-the-turf Transylvania at Keeneland, but he will receive an equipment change with blinkers off and picks up the services of the hot-riding Stewart Elliott.
Grade 2-placed Big Sugar Soda tries graded company again following a runner-up in the March 22 Gazebo at Oaklawn Park. Matador has raced exclusively in stakes in all six career starts, with a close fourth in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis being his best outcome this season, and Friendswith K Mill receives class relief after finishing seventh behind California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby.
Embellishing Bob will be tested for class following an encouraging maiden win at Fair Grounds, registering a 102 BRIS Speed rating for the four-length decision. Recent Keeneland allowance winner Myositis Dan and expected long shot Bitters 'n Bourbon round out the field.
NYRA releases Saratoga stakes schedule
The 146th Saratoga meet will feature a record $17.45 million in stakes purses, topped by the $1.25 million Travers on August 23 and the $1.5 million Whitney on August 2.
Both the 1 1/4-mile Travers for three-year-olds and the 1 1/8-mile Whitney for three-year-olds and up received significant purse increases over their 2013 levels, having been previously worth $1 million and $750,000, respectively.
The 145th running of the Travers is one of four stakes scheduled for August 23 and shares the card with the $500,000 King's Bishop for three-year-old sprinters, the $500,000 Ballerina for filly and mare sprinters, and the $250,000 Ballston Spa for filly and mare turf horses.
Another blockbuster day of stakes action on the schedule is August 2, with the Whitney, one of North America's premier races for older males on the dirt, topping a card that includes five stakes. Joining the Whitney Day program this year will be the $500,000 Test for three-year-old fillies, the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap for older sprinters, and the $100,000 Lure. The $100,000 De La Rose will also once again be part of the Whitney Day festivities this year.
August 24 will be dedicated to the best New York-breds as Saratoga will host the inaugural Saratoga Showcase Day, featuring the Albany, West Point, Yaddo, Fleet Indian, Funny Cide, and Seeking the Ante.
In total, Saratoga will host 33 graded flat races, including 15 Grade 1 events. Opening weekend will feature the $500,000 Diana for fillies and mares on the turf on July 19 and the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for three-year-old fillies on July 20.
Three-year-olds will have the spotlight on July 26 as they will compete in the $600,000 Jim Dandy at 1 1/8 miles and the $200,000 Amsterdam at 6 1/2 furlongs. In the past 10 years, seven horses have used the Jim Dandy as a springboard to a victory in the Travers.
The $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap, won the past two years by two-time reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, is the featured race on August 9. The Fourstardave is a one-mile turf race for three-year-olds and up.
The 1 1/8-mile Coaching Club American Oaks precedes the $600,000 Alabama, New York's top race for three-year-old fillies. The 1 1/4-mile Alabama is scheduled for August 16. $300,000 Lake Placid, also for three-year-old fillies, will be contested on the turf as part of the Alabama undercard.
The final Saturday, August 30, will include four stakes, topped by the $600,000 Woodward for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles. Older males also will compete in the $500,000 Forego at seven furlongs on the main track and in the $250,000 Bernard Baruch on the turf. Sophomore fillies will sprint in the $300,000 Prioress.
Completing the list of Grade 1 races on the flat are the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational on August 17, the $350,000 Spinaway on August 31, and the $350,000 Hopeful on closing day, September 1.
"This exciting stakes menu will ensure that Saratoga Race Course again hosts the finest race meeting in North America, and our enhanced Whitney Day reflects our desire to make it one of the most significant days on the national racing calendar," said Chris Kay, CEO and President of The New York Racing Association. "Our new racing personnel, led by Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin Panza and Racing Secretary Frank Gabriel Jr., are working every day to improve the quality of racing -- as reflected in this powerful collection of outstanding races."
Saratoga will also host a pair of Grade 1 steeplechase races: the $100,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial on July 31, and the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup, run in memory of Thomas H. Voss, on August 21.
International entries abound for Royal Ascot races
No fewer than 11 nations are represented among the entries for this year's seven Royal Ascot Group 1 races, which were released Wednesday.
The Hong Kong-trained winners of both Group 1 sprints on Dubai World Cup night, Sterling City and Amber Sky, are expected to head the early betting markets for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and King's Stand Stakes, respectively.
Sterling City is set to take in the KrisFlyer Sprint in Singapore before a final decision is made on Royal Ascot but if successful there, he would be racing for the $1 million bonus at Royal Ascot, having already won Dubai's leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.
The bonus is payable to the connections of any horse successful in three of ten legs of the Global Sprint Challenge. The next leg is the KrisFlyer Sprint in Singapore on May 18, followed by the two Royal Ascot sprints and the July Cup at Newmarket on July 12.
The United States is represented in the initial entries for the King's Stand by Ancil, who broke the five-furlong track record when winning at Tampa Bay Downs in March. Trainer Joan Scott is expected to be the first lady trainer from the United States to saddle a runner at Royal Ascot.
South Africa's Shea Shea was narrowly denied by fellow entry, Ireland's Sole Powerm, in last year's King's Stand and both are expected to line up again.
Australia, successful four times in the King's Stand, is represented by last year's champion three-year-old sprinter Zoustar, although he is more likely to take up his engagement in the Diamond Jubilee where, in addition to Sterling City, international representation could include North American sprinters Occasional View and Laugh Track.
Occasional View won the Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland on April 12 with Canadian-trained Laugh Track less than three lengths behind in third, the last named having been beaten just a neck in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita in November.
The Queen Anne Stakes has attracted its most cosmopolitan entries ever, with eight countries represented at the closing stage.
Australia's champion miler Sacred Falls heads the international cast having won the Doncaster Mile on April 12 at The Championships in Sydney. He went on to finish second to the retired It's a Dundeel in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, also at Randwick, the following week.
Hong Kong has three entries headed by Able Friend, second in the Hong Kong Derby over 10 furlongs in March and a winner back over a mile at local Group 2 level on his next start. He heads next to the Champions Mile at Sha Tin on May 4 where likely opponents could include fellow Queen Anne entries Gold Fun, second in the Hong Kong Mile in December, and Blazing Speed, who is a regular in the big Hong Kong races between a mile and 10 furlongs.
South Africa's entry is Soft Falling Rain, second in the recent Godolphin Mile in Dubai, whilst the United States could be represented by Golden Ticket, who dead-heated in the 2012 Travers and was second in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last year.
The United States is also represented by proxy in the Queen Anne through Verrazano, who was fourth in that Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile when trained by Todd Pletcher.
Germany, France, Ireland, and the United Kingdom are also represented. Richard Hannon has entered Sussex Stakes winner Toronado, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Olympic Glory and One Thousand Guineas and Coronation Stakes winner Sky Lantern, although she is likely to start her year in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes.
The Prince of Wales's Stakes will be many people's idea of the race of the week this year with French-trained Arc winner Treve an intended runner pending her reappearance at Longchamp this weekend.
Compatriot and Ascot regular Cirrus des Aigles and Ocovango make up a powerful French entry for the race which also includes a fascinating possible runner from Hong Kong in Akeed Mofeed.
Akeed Mofeed, winner of Hong Kong's premier race last year, the Hong Kong Cup, has been forced to miss this weekend's Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin through injury and also been ruled out of the Singapore Cup in May, but has nevertheless been entered for Royal Ascot.
Breeders' Cup Turf winner Magician and Epsom Derby winner Ruler of the World head Aidan O'Brien's entries while others of note include last year's Prince of Wales's runner-up Mukhadram, who was second in the Dubai World Cup in March; last year's Irish Derby winner Trading Leather, and Yorkshire Oaks winner The Fugue.
There is no doubt that the star name amongst the entries for the Gold Cup is The Queen's reigning champion, Estimate, although the favorite for the race is likely to be last year's St Leger winner Leading Light in what could be a fascinating clash between the last two winners of the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot.
The United States could be represented by Frac Daddy, a recent winner at Keeneland in the Ban Ali Stakes, while entries have also been received from France, Spain and Germany for Europe's long-distance championship.
"We are delighted to see so many continents represented and especially pleased with the depth of entries from Hong Kong after their sprinters stole the show on Dubai World Cup night," said Nick Smith, Head of Communications and International Racing at Ascot.
"The entries from North America look high quality this year too and, in addition to a large contingent from Kenny McPeek at this stage, and the very quick Ancil and Laugh Track, we are expecting No Nay Never to try to supplement his Norfolk Stakes win of last year in the Jersey Stakes. (Trainer) Wesley (Ward) reports that he is putting together his usual string of two year olds for the trip and Todd Pletcher has also shown interest in sending juveniles this year.
De Kock high on QEII runners at Sha Tin
South African trainer Mike de Kock is no stranger to success in Sha Tin's Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, having lifted Hong Kong's 2000-meter spring feature on two occasions with Irridescence (2006) and Archipenko (2008), and the conditioner is back with two chances for Sunday's renewal. De Kock is set to saddle Jebel Hatta winner Vercingetorix and the smart Sanshaawes, both of whom appeared on the Sha Tin all-weather for the first time Wednesday.
"Both horses traveled very well. They've arrived safe and sound and just needed a stretch of the legs this morning. It's all good at the moment. No issues. They're well used to traveling," said assistant trainer Trevor Brown, who is currently overseeing preparations.
De Kock noted that he has been pleased with Vercingetorix's progress since the four-year-old's last out second in the March 29 Dubai Duty Free.
"He came out of the race very well," the trainer remarked. "He didn't travel well to Dubai and it may have been a blessing in disguise because it just gave him that much more time and it probably enabled us then to be able to go on the road to Hong Kong and possibly to Singapore as well."
De Kock compared Vercingetorix to his two previous QEII winners.
"If one looks at the ratings, he's probably got to be in a similar league as Irridescence and Archipenko. He's rated 118 now but he'd be 118-plus. I think he's on the way up but he'd have to be on a plus rating to win -- there are horses rated 124 and thereabouts. He is on the up, it's hard to compare generations but I'd put him in that league."
Sanshaawes captured a pair of 2000-meter handicaps at the Dubai carnival and was seventh in the Dubai World Cup
"I think you can draw a line through (the Dubai World Cup) -- Sanshaawes is a very hot horse," de Kock added. "He got worked up on the day. He does get worked up, he sweats up, that's normal, but he reared up quite badly in the pens and got his leg over.
"Nothing went right for him and he was a little tight in running, so he's a lot better than that and we felt he would have been in the first four if things had gone his way. If he gets a clear run he should be thereabouts on Sunday."
Player to deliver keynote address at inaugural Owner Conference
Gary Player, a legend in the golfing world and a long-time Thoroughbred owner, breeder and advocate of Thoroughbred aftercare, will deliver the keynote address when OwnerView, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and The Jockey Club host the inaugural Thoroughbred Owner Conference in Lexington, Kentucky, October 13-16.
Player has owned the 20,000-acre Gary Player Stud in South Africa since 1974 and is consistently among the leading breeders in South Africa. He has frequently implored those involved in horse racing to come up with innovative ideas that would generate interest in the sport.
The Thoroughbred Owner Conference will take place at historic Keeneland Race Course and it will be co-presented by Del Mar, Keeneland, NYRA and The Stronach Group.
"Our goal in hosting this conference is to showcase a unique lifestyle, whether you are an experienced owner or a potential investor in the Thoroughbred industry," said Bill Thomason, the president and chief executive officer of the Keeneland Association. "Del Mar, NYRA, The Stronach Group and Keeneland all realize and appreciate that Thoroughbred owners play a critical role in our industry, and we all want to make the ownership experience immensely enjoyable at every juncture."
Attendees at the conference will enjoy a welcome reception at Adena Springs Farm, an evening dinner, a day of racing and numerous opportunities to network with panelists and industry personnel alike.
"The OwnerView initiative has really grown tremendously in a short period of time, and this conference is just a natural extension of our efforts to retain and attract owners," said Gary Falter, vice president of Operations for OwnerView. "We are grateful to Keeneland for making its facility available and to all four racing organizations for their sponsorship support."
Conference details, including the complete schedule of events, registration forms, host hotel information and other tourism tips for the Bluegrass Region, are available at ownerview.com.
Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame announces 2014 Legend inductees
The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame (CHRHF) is pleased to announce its 2014 Legend inductees. Legends are people and horses whose accomplishments were achieved more than 50 years ago. They made unique contributions to horse racing in Canada and the CHRHF is pleased to recognize the special roles they played.
The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame will celebrate the inductions of these deserving legends at the CHRHF President's Reception scheduled to take place May 23 at 5 p.m. (EDT) in the Hall of Fame at Woodbine. The reception will also feature the official unveiling of the display boards for the 2013 inductees, as well as the introduction of the 2014 inductees.
The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame is a dual hall representing both Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds. Inductees are added annually to build an ever-growing honor roll in the category of Builders, Drivers/Trainers, Jockeys/Trainers, Communicators, Veterans and Legends.
In 1870, E. (Edmund) King Dodds founded The Canadian Sportsman, a horse racing magazine that would exist for the next 143 years. During his 40 years as editor ending in 1910, Thoroughbreds were the main focus of the publication with coverage of harness racing and steeplechase. Hunting, fishing, curling and other sports were featured, as well as racing on ice. The publication reveled in the gossip and yarns from the backstretch, gambling parlors and saloons.
Dodds was the ultimate purveyor of the early years of horse racing in the province. His quaint and often acerbic style of recollections of horse racing from as early as the 1840s, was published in 1909 in a book -- "Canadian Turf Collections and Other Sketches."
Dodds' founding of The Sportsman in 1870 provided the horse racing industry with a formidable partner. It would evolve into the premier Standardbred magazine, the Bible of the sulky world.
The year was 1939 and for the first time in Plate history a ruling monarch was in attendance to witness the 80th running of this race when Archworth galloped to a 10-length victory at majestic Woodbine Park.
"Royalty saluted royalty," wrote Ralph Allen, as he hailed this momentous occasion when King George VI bestowed fifty sovereigns and a gold-plated trophy to the publisher of the Globe and Mail newspaper, C. George McCullagh, owner of the mercury-footed colt he had bought for a mere $500 at a public auction of yearlings in 1937.
Acclaimed as Canada's champion two-year-old with victories in the Mrs. Orpen's Cup and Saucer and Clarendon Stakes in 1938, Archworth dominated the racing scene in 1939 as he captured the Prince of Wales and Breeders' Stakes. It would be 1959 before this trio of races became an official event, the year of the next royal visit. The chestnut colt's King's Plate victory on a day he toyed with his 12 foes signaled an important rule change in rules -- it was now open only to three-year-olds.
Additional details are available at canadianhorseracinghalloffame.com.
Bourbon Lane Stable establishes retirement pasture at Old Friends
Bourbon Lane Stable, a national horse-racing partnership based in Lexington, Kentucky, has established a retirement pasture for its horses at Old Friends. The Bourbon Lane Stable retirement pasture will be dedicated at the 10th annual Old Friends Homecoming on May 4 at 3 p.m. (EDT).
The pasture, approximately 15 acres in size, will be made available to any off-the-track Thoroughbred who has raced in the Bourbon Lane colors, regardless of whether the horse retired directly from the stable. The retirement pasture is for horses who can't be retrained for a second career or those not suitable for a second career.
One Bourbon Lane horse, Johannesbourbon, has already taken up residency. A five-year-old by Johannesburg, Johannesbourbon ran 12 times. He won four times and ran second five times, winning more than $68,000 in purse money. Because of knee issues, Johannesbourbon is unable to train for a second career.
"Bourbon Lane Stable's establishment of a retirement pasture for its horses is a tremendous example of enlightened owners taking the initiative to plan for their horses' retirements," said Michael Blowen, president of Old Friends. "A retirement pasture is like Social Security or a 401(k) plan for Thoroughbreds, and Bourbon Lane is making sure its horses are cared for once their racing days are over."
The retirement pasture was secured with a $25,000 donation from Bourbon Lane Stable to Old Friends.
Bourbon Lane made the decision to secure a retirement pasture for its horses, with the hope that other horse owners will consider after-care management as part of their organization.
"At Bourbon Lane, we are careful to track where our horses go when they leave us. Having a retirement pasture at Old Friends helps us do our part," said Mike McMahon, a managing partner at Bourbon Lane Stable. "We applaud the work they do at Old Friends. They've put together an organization where retired Thoroughbreds are well cared for and celebrated, and we are pleased to be part of that mission."
Radiohead retired to Old Friends in New York
Old Friends announced that Group 2 victor Radiohead has joined its band of retired racehorses.
In late 2009, IEAH purchased Radiohead as a Breeders' Cup Juvenile contender with Kentucky Derby prospects. Bred in Great Britain by Redmyre Bloodstock and S. Hillen, the Johannesburg colt was consigned by Ballyhimikin Stud at the Tattersalls October 2008 Yearling Sale and purchased by Hugo Merry Bloodstock for $143,038.
Radiohead had won two of six starts in England, including the 2009 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, and was multiple Group 1-placed thanks to the Middle Park and Nunthorpe.
Racing for IEAH Stables, Pegasus Holding Group, Carmen Burrell and Jonathan Harvey in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Radiohead had to be steadied by Edgar Prado and failed to recover ground over the Santa Anita Pro-Ride surface. Transferred to trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., the colt won his first 2010 start in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park, but his Kentucky Derby bid ended in a ninth-place finish in the Florida Derby. The next year he finished fourth in the 2011 Jaipur Stakes at Belmont.
After being gelded, Radiohead won a $20,000 start in 2012 at the Ocala Training Center for owner-trainer James K. Chapman, was later raced by Drawing Away Stable and David Jacobson, and claimed in August 2013 by Antonacci Racing and Gerald Antonacci.
Radiohead continued to hit the board at that level, though without further wins. Trainer Danny Gargan gave him time off during the fall and winter. When he breezed the seven-year-old gelding on April 14, Gargan felt it was time to retire the old campaigner.
Chris Antonacci and Gargan contacted Lorita Lindemann because of her role in instituting Suffolk Downs' "Zero Tolerance" policy and her longtime involvement in Thoroughbred aftercare. On behalf of Antonacci and Gargan, Lindemann worked with Old Friends president Michael Blowen to retire Radiohead to Clermont Farm near Clermont, New York.
"Owner Chris Antonacci and trainer Danny Gargan used their astute horsemanship to recognize that Radiohead's best days were behind him and that the classy gelding deserved a dignified retirement," Blowen said. "Lorita Lindemann is extremely efficient at working out the arrangements for so many Thoroughbreds whose racing careers are over. We're grateful to all of them and to Clermont Farm for taking him in."
Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for more than 125 retired racehorses. It's Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, Kentucky, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at 502-863-1775 or see their website at oldfriendsequine.org.
Canadian champ Forte Dei Marmi faces tough field in Elkhorn
Forte Dei Marmi's fortunes took a positive turn when he remained to race at his Woodbine home base. The son of Selkirk reeled off three straight graded wins in the Singspiel, Sky Classic, and Northern Dancer, and despite a poor try in the Canadian International, won a Sovereign Award as the Dominion's top turf male.
The Elkhorn will be no easy task for Forte Dei Marmi, who faces a solid group of rivals and was saddled with post 13 in the 14-horse field.
Optimizer is inconsistent but capable with his best race. A multiple Grade 3 winner at Fair Grounds last year, he later went on to place in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, Dixie, and Manhattan Handicap. However, the D. Wayne Lukas charge was an ineffective eighth in the March 8 Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita in his season debut.
Temeraine, most recently third in the San Luis Rey at Santa Anita, enjoyed solid form last season winning the Kentucky Turf Cup and finishing a close second in both the Arlington Handicap and Hollywood Turf Cup. Stakes veterans Eagle Poise, Tricky Hat, and Suntracer also figure in the Elkhorn having finished close together for minor awards in the $100,000 Sycamore over the Polytrack last October.
Returning to the turf after a modest dirt effort at Gulfstream is War Dancer, the 2013 Virginia Derby winner who will have to work out a trip from post 14.
"He's had some rough trips in his last few races, and I tried him on the dirt one last time, which didn't go all that well, but he's a nice horse, doing good," trainer Ken McPeek said. "A mile and a half won't be an issue. He'll love it."
Another one of last year's capable sophomores, Amen Kitten, enters the Elkhorn off two solid placings in the Hollywood Derby and Mac Diarmida.
Others who might factor are the New York-bred stakes winner Hangover Kid, runner-up in his last two including the Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct, and Old Time Hockey, winner most recently of the Florida Cup Turf Classic at Tampa Bay Downs.
Romantica debuts for Mott in Bewitch
The Jonathan Sheppard-trained Angel Terrace has fared well in two previous stakes attempts on the Keeneland turf, taking a division of the 2012 Valley View and finishing third in the Dowager last October after making a brief lead in the stretch.
The Bewitch field is completed by Always Kitten, I Dazzle, Street of Gold, and Freedom Reigns.
A continued lack of horses ready for racing has caused the second cancellation of the recently opened meet at Finger Lakes in Farmington, New York. Racing will take place on Friday, but the Saturday program has been eliminated. The extended cold this past winter that stretched well into March and early April caused significant delays in training, and consequently, less than normal entries for the initial days of the 2014 session. Horses are currently rounding into shape and additional horses are expected to arrive from their winter locales in the near future. "We've seen increased in the numbers of horses clocking official workouts in the morning over the past week, which means many are close to returning to action," Finger Lakes President and General Manager Chris Riegle said. "this has been a difficult stretch, but we should see an uptick in horse availability for racing in the near future." First post on Friday is set for 12:35 p.m. (EDT) and at 1:10 when racing is scheduled to resume on Monday and Tuesday...
With a third-place finish in last month's Razorback H. (G3) under his belt, Taptowne (Tapit) figures to move forward in his second start of the year in Saturday's $200,000 Texas Mile (G3) at Lone Star Park. The charismatic gray gelding, a stakes winner at Mountaineer and Penn National last season, also placed in such lucrative events as the Oaklawn H. (G2), Prairie Meadows Cornhusker H. (G3), and Ack Ack H. (G3). Taptowne was only a head behind the runner-up in the Razorback, which was contested on an off track. Grand Contender (Strong Contender), a dual stakes winner at Delta Downs over the winter, demonstrated his worth against classier rivals during the Fair Grounds meet, earning the silver in both the Mineshaft H. (G3) and Louisiana H. Another with back class is Bourbon Courage (Lion Heart), who seeks his first win since the 2012 Super Derby (G2). The five-year-old was fourth in the Donn H. (G1) two back and second against allowance foes at Oaklawn most recently. Getting a class test in the Texas Mile is Forest Mouse (Teton Forest), a leading handicap star on the New Mexico circuit...
The William Haggas-trained Our Channel (English Channel) is set to take his place in the Derby (Eng-G1) on June 7 after gaining an automatic entry in the premier classic when scoring at Epsom Downs Wednesday afternoon. The Kentucky-bred landed Wednesday's Derby Trial for owner Abdulla Al Mansoori and connections are keen to take up the opportunity to run in the Derby. "We are in the Derby now and I think the owner would love to run so that would be the plan," said Haggas's wife, Maureen. "The owner was instrumental in coming here today and, while I'm not certain Our Channel will stay a mile and a half, there's only one Derby so we'll give it a go. Maybe on better ground he might get a bit further. It's up to William and Mr. Al Mansoori but I don't think he'd run again before the Derby. He's a very nice, honest horse and I thought Ryan (Moore) gave him a lovely ride and got him relaxed and switched off in front." Our Channel will be Al Mansoori's first runner in the Derby. "It will take a lot to put off the owner from running in the Derby. He's very keen to go," added Bruce Raymond, the owner's racing manager. "Mr. Al Mansoori instructed Jono Mills to buy the horse from the Kempton breeze-up sales and then he won at Beverley very comfortably in not a bad maiden. He doesn't look as if he needs any more experience, he's seen Epsom today and got round Beverley as well." The winner of Wednesday's Derby Trial automatically received an entry for the Derby, providing they were not a gelding or already entered. The only way for a horse to now be added to the Derby is at the £75,000 supplementary entry stage on June 2...
Twenty-seven sophomores have been left in the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1) following the latest forfeit stage. Khalid Abdullah's Kingman (Invincible Spirit) remains the favorite for the May 3 classic following a stylish comeback victory in the April 12 Greenham (Eng-G2), and he remains engaged, along with last week's Craven (Eng-G3) victor Toormore (Arakan). Early favorite Australia (Galileo) and his Ballydoyle stablemate War Command (War Front) are other notable contenders, as is the Roger Varian-trained Racing Post Trophy (Eng-G1) winner Kingston Hill (Mastercraftsman). Varian provided an upbeat bulletin on his charge, telling PA Sport, "Kingston Hill is a clear-winded horse who has done plenty of work, so he will be ready on the day. I couldn't be more pleased with him. Good ground would be perfectly fine -- he might even be better on it -- and, although I would review his participation in the Guineas if the ground came up very quick, I think that is pretty unlikely." There are 33 fillies remaining in the One Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1) for the following day, including ante-post favorite Rizeena (Iffraaj), last week's Nell Gywn (Eng-G1) winner Sandiva (Footstepsinthesand), Fred Darling (Eng-G3) heroine J Wonder (Footstepsinthesand), Coolmore's Tapestry (Galileo), Park (Ire-G3) victress My Titania (Sea the Stars) and Oh So Sharp (Eng-G3) diva Miss France (Dansili)...
Santa Anita kicks off its Spring Meet with a Friday card highlighted by the $100,000 Last Tycoon (G3), the successor to the Inglewood H. that would have been run around this time at old Hollywood Park. Rookie Sensation (Unbridled's Song) looked like the next big thing when taking the November 1 Twilight Derby (G2) over this turf course and 1 1/8-mile distance. Winless since then, he tired to fifth after uncharacteristically setting the pace in the 1 1/4-mile Hollywood Derby (G1), trailed throughout in a dirt experiment in the January 18 Strub (G2), and was a near-miss, troubled second in an allowance here March 15. Trainer John Shirreffs has Rookie Sensation well spotted to regain the winning thread, and he gets a rider switch to Hall of Famer Mike Smith. Smart turf sprinter Lakerville (Unusual Heat) wheels back only 12 days after his fast-finishing second in the San Simeon (G3) on the downhill turf, and tests his stamina for the first time over 1 1/8 miles. In his only prior two-turn attempt, the Barry Abrams charge was sixth in the March 8 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1). Fire With Fire (Distorted Humor), on the other hand, takes a dramatic step down in trip after his front-running victory in the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey (G2) March 22. Joelito (Rock Hard Ten) comes off a runner-up effort to course record-tying Tom's Tribute (Lion Heart) in the April 6 Thunder Road, while Spring Up (Spring at Last) exits a rallying allowance score over the course. Rounding out the field is former Chilean Horse of the Year Quick Casablanca (Until Sundown), who placed twice from five starts for Christophe Clement last year and begins afresh for new trainer Ron McAnally...
The Emirates Racing Authority (ERA) will conduct an appeal hearing on April 28 regarding the six-month suspension issued to jockey Pat Cosgrave last month. Cosgrave was handed the six-month verdict as a result of his ride aboard eventual third-place finisher Anaerobio (Catcher in the Rye) in the March 8 Jebel Hatta (UAE-G1) at Meydan. Stewards deemed that Cosgrave, who set the pace aboard Anaerobio before moving off the rail and allowing stablemate and eventual winner Vercingetorix (Silvano) through, deliberately allowed the winner a clear passage...
Goffs is pleased to announce the appointment of Matthias Seeber as its representative in Germany. A successful owner and breeder in Germany, Seeber has enjoyed success with homebred stakes winners Skagen and Scoville. Based near Sottrum in Germany, Seeber also has extensive corporate experience having previously held a prominent position in the pharmaceutical industry. Commenting on the appointment, Goffs Chief Executive Henry Beeby said, "We are delighted to welcome Matthias Seeber to the team at Goffs. With his experience and understanding of the Thoroughbred industry as both a breeder and an owner, Matthias is an ideal addition to our ever-strengthening team of international agents which clearly demonstrates that Goffs continue to seek out new markets and clients on an ongoing basis." Seeber added, "One of the most important goals of this new challenge will be to make accessible the full range of services provided by Goffs, which is second to none in Europe. I will be available to assist German clients with all enquiries."...
Click here to view Tuesday evening's Night School with the weekly Night School Rewind. Read all of Tuesday night's interaction as well as listen to the complete 90-minute audio streaming lesson for the session. The audio link is the first entry when you open the Night School chat box. Fans also can register in the archives to be eligible for weekly and seasonal prizes. Week 8 of Night School was entitled "Clockers-Workouts." Listen to guests Mike Welsch of DRF.com and Gary Young of the Xpressbet Kentucky Derby Wagering Guide for what you can glean from the morning movers. The interviews are filled with nuggets about this year's Kentucky Derby contenders as well.
For Thursday or Next Raceday
APRIL 24, 2014
by John Mucciolo
There was one graded race for fillies and mares during the week at Aqueduct.
Distaff H. (G2): Lady Sheila Stable's LA VERDAD (Yes It's True) sprinted right to the front at the start and was never seriously challenged en route to a superb 3 3/4-length victory for trainer Linda Rice. The four-year-old clocked six panels in a fine 1:09 under the guidance of Jose Ortiz.
A total of 36 races were held at the Jamaica, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 42 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 64 percent of the wins during the week. From 29 races on the main oval, seven animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (24 percent). Three of the seven races on the lawn were taken all the way on the front end (43 percent).
We didn't have a big feel for the racing this week, which leads us to believe that both ovals played mostly fairly over the last four days. The amount of winning favorites seems to back that theory.
Six of the seven wire-to-wire winners on the dirt came in sprint races, while all three turf wire jobs occurred in route events.
HORSES TO WATCH
7TH -- CLASSIC SALSA (Two Step Salsa) pressed the pace, took command in early stretch and came home well under John Velazquez, posting a strong tally in his New York debut. The David Jacobson trainee hasn't done much wrong to date and will almost surely face better in his comeback.
PIN AND WIN (Stevie Wonderboy) never cut into the lead much late but finished more than six lengths clear of one we like, so that has to mean something. Tab this one for another nice showing next time, though we might not get the 15-1 price he went off today.
5TH -- MY SAVANNAH BELLE (Afleet Alex) was passed in midstretch but showed a ton of heart in battling back in late stretch for this win under Rajiv Maragh. The sophomore filly had a tough trip in chasing lone speed, but we loved her finish and might tab her for a third straight score in her subsequent outing if placed properly.
8TH -- HARRIS (A.P. Indy) was a big flop in this one for conditioner Todd Pletcher, but the four-year-old had shown a lot of ability prior to this run and we'll give him another chance in his comeback.
3RD -- HEARTY CONGRATS (Congrats) burned a ton of money when a closing third at very short odds and the gelded sophomore will go first off the claim next time after being nabbed by conditioner Chris Englehart. We thought the youngster received a poor ride from the rail and could have surely won this, and he would also benefit from being slotted off the inside next time out.
6TH -- ELROI (Leroidesanimaux) was stuck behind a dawdling early pace in making his 2014 debut for Peter Pugh, but the four-year-old overcame it with a flying finish to graduate in style under Chris DeCarlo. The Empire State-bred earned a whopping 103 Late Pace figure for his work and could be even better with an honest pace to chase in his next turf test.
7TH -- Conditioner Michelle Nevin had a big week and among it was a sharp claim of this race winner, QUICK MONEY (City Zip), who dominated a solid field late in coming home in a sharp :29 3/5 for his final 2 1/2 furlongs beneath Cornelio Velasquez.
A Look Ahead
There are no graded races this week at the Big A.
Click here for the monthly April Calendar
At a Glance
AT A GLANCE SCHEDULE
*all times Eastern
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Breeders' Cup unveils 2014 Challenge series
The Breeders' Cup announced Thursday that the 2014 Breeders' Cup Challenge series will consist of 73 automatic qualifying races into the Breeders' Cup World Championships with 46 Challenge races to be held in the United States and Canada.
Breeders' Cup will pay entry fees and provide travel allowances for the connections of the Challenge winners outside of California to compete in the Championships.
Horses from around the globe will be qualifying for the 31st Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, on October 31-November 1, and will be televised live in the United States by the NBC Sports Group. The $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic will be shown live in primetime on NBC from 8-9 p.m. (ET) on November 1.
On April 21, Breeders' Cup and NBC Sports announced an expanded partnership to televise "Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In," a series of 18 Challenge races across 11 shows on NBC and NBCSN from top tracks in the United States from June until the World Championships.
The Breeders' Cup Challenge series, now in its eighth year, will be held at many of the world's premier racetracks in 13 countries: the United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Peru and South Africa.
As part of the enhanced benefits to horsemen in the Breeders' Cup Challenge series, Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees and guarantee a starting position in a corresponding Championships race for winners of all Challenge races.
Breeders' Cup will provide travel allowances to all starters outside of California for this year's Championships including Challenge race winners. Breeders' Cup will provide a $40,000 travel stipend to the connections of each Challenge winner from outside of North America and in North America, a $10,000 travel allowance for winners stabled outside of California. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders' Cup program by the Championships' pre-entry deadline of October 20 to receive the rewards.
Last year, 36 participants in the Breeders' Cup World Championships earned automatic starting positions through the Breeders' Cup Challenge series. Mucho Macho Man (Classic); Beholder (Distaff); Dank (Filly & Mare Turf) and Wise Dan (Mile) were Challenge qualifiers who won World Championships races.
"The Breeders' Cup Challenge series continues to be an excellent path for horsemen to secure an automatic starting berth, with fees paid, for their runners to qualify into the Championships," said Craig Fravel, president and CEO of Breeders' Cup Ltd. "We were very proud of the large number of Challenge starters that competed in last year's event, and are looking forward to attracting more horses this year as we welcome our new racetrack partners who have joined the series for the 2014 season."
Some of the highlights of this year's Challenge series are as follows:
The international portion of the series began on January 11 in South Africa at Kenilworth when the seven-year-old mare Beach Beauty won the Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes and qualified for an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and the five-year-old Capetown Noir captured the Queen's Plate and gained a free start into the Breeders' Cup Mile.
In Australia this month, three more horses earned automatic berths at Royal Randwick -- Lankan Rupee, winner of the TJ Smith (Turf); Sacred Falls, winner of the Doncaster Mile (Mile); and It's a Dundeel, who captured the Queen Elizabeth (Turf).
The first two North American races of the series will be run on June 7 with the Metropolitan Handicap (Dirt Mile) and Ogden Phipps (Distaff) at Belmont Park, and will be televised live on NBCSN.