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Itsmyluckyday to skip Breeders' Cup, point for Cigar Mile

Itsmyluckyday will get a rematch with Vyjack in the Cigar Mile (Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos)
Woodward winner Itsmyluckyday, third as the 3-5 favorite in Saturday's Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park, will not ship to Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup. Rather, it was announced Monday that the Eddie Plesa Jr. trainee will aim for the November 29 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.

"#Itsmyluckyday will not be racing in the #BreedersCup14," Gulfstream Park tweeted Monday morning. "Headed to Cigar Mile at Aqueduct."

Not originally nominated for the Breeders' Cup, Itsmyluckyday could have been supplemented for $100,000 according to the terms of the "Horses of Racing Age Nomination Program." That one-time fee would have made him Breeders' Cup eligible for the rest of his racing career.

But the four-year-old son of Lawyer Ron is due to enter stud at Spendthrift near Lexington, Kentucky, in 2015, so connections would have been paying just to run in this year's Breeders' Cup.

Owned by Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa, Itsmyluckyday captured last year's Holy Bull and Gulfstream Park Derby, and finished second in both the Florida Derby and Preakness, before sustaining a pelvic fracture. The dark bay was sidelined for the remainder of his sophomore campaign, but has recovered to become among the nation's top older males this season.

Itsmyluckyday has won or placed in six of seven outings in 2014, his lone unplaced effort being a tiring fourth in his comeback in the March 8 Gulfstream Park Handicap. He then reeled off three straight stakes wins in the April 26 Best of the Rest at Gulfstream, the May 24 Majestic Light and the July 6 Salvator Mile, the latter two at Monmouth.

Runner-up to Moreno in the August 2 Whitney at Saratoga, Itsmyluckyday gained revenge with a hard-fought verdict over Moreno in the August 30 Woodward back at the Spa. He was perhaps still feeling the effects of that slugfest during his third in the Kelso, where he also chased the demanding pace, and the victorious Vyjack rallied from midpack.

By venturing to the Cigar Mile, Itsmyluckyday will get a rematch with Vyjack.

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Rainbow Heir aiming to rise in Phoenix, punch ticket to BC Sprint

Rainbow Heir won't mind an off track if there's rain Friday (Aubrey Therkelsen/Equi-Photo)
Bred in New Jersey and based at Monmouth Park, the Grade 3-winning sprinter Rainbow Heir arrived at Keeneland last Friday morning to prepare for his next start in the Grade 3, $200,000 Phoenix on opening day this Friday.

The four-year-old Wildcat Heir colt, a homebred racing for Everett Novak's New Farm, is trained by Ben Perkins Jr., whose 81-year-old father, Ben Perkins Sr., has been at Keeneland to oversee the colt's preparations.

Perkins, a lifelong horseman, trained Rainbow Heir's paternal grandsire, Forest Wildcat, to win the Phoenix in 1996. His son has four Keeneland stakes wins, including the 2007 Thoroughbred Club of America with the Forest Wildcat filly and another New Farm homebred, Wild Gams.

Perkins said Rainbow Heir realized he was somewhere different when he saw Keeneland's main track for the first time.

"This track has a little bit of a tint to it, a reddish tint, and boy, he just looked at it (and seemed to say), 'This don't look like Monmouth Park,'" Perkins said. "But then he walked on it, and he was fine."

On Monday, Rainbow Heir worked three furlongs in :36 with exercise rider Sabrino Ramirez aboard.

"We didn't want to go quite that fast, but he's a fast horse," Perkins said.

Rainbow Heir has won seven of 11 races, including the 2013 Jersey Shore at Monmouth, and has earned $315,210. He is coming off three consecutive wins at Monmouth, including a 12 1/2-length victory over a sloppy track on September 6 in the six-furlong New Jersey Breeders Handicap.

Now the colt is a win away from competing in the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"That's one of the reasons we brought him here," Perkins said. "If you win, you're in."

Perkins said Angel Serpa, who rode Rainbow Heir in his last three races, would be aboard the colt for the Phoenix. Entries for the race will be taken Tuesday.

In other Keeneland news:

Ria Antonia, winless since being awarded last year's BC Juvenile Fillies, could attempt the Spinster (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)
The 2014 Fall Meet, which begins its 17-day run Friday, marks the first season of a new dirt surface on Keeneland's 1 1/16-mile main track. The track was structurally reconfigured in the summer of 2006 to widen the turns and lengthen the stretch. As a result, dirt track records prior to the 2006 Fall Meet are not comparable to times set on the new dirt surface, and a new set of track records will be established.

Opening weekend of the Fall Meet features nine graded stakes, including seven Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" races. The Fall Stars microsite allows fans to track workouts, probable fields, official entries and watch video interviews with horsemen. The site will continue to track Keeneland's Breeders' Cup-bound horses through the event on October 31 and November 1 at Santa Anita.

Opening day features the Grade 1 Alcibiades, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Jack Hendricks of nearby Danville, the co-owner of Alcibiades hopeful Naval Command, was bursting with pride as he looked in on three of his favorite horses at the stakes barn Monday morning at Keeneland.

"It has been a dream of mine after 45 years in the game to win a stake at Keeneland," said Hendricks, who races Naval Command in partnership with Roger Justice of Paris, Kentucky, and Pinnacle Racing Stable. "I always wanted to run in a graded stake here, but only if we had a chance. I think she will make a good showing."

Trained by Bill Kaplan, Naval Command has won three of her four starts and enters the Alcibiades off a victory in the Happy Ticket over the turf at Louisiana Downs on September 6.

"I think she is good on either surface, but I think she may be better on dirt," Hendricks said of the daughter of Midshipman. "Bill is the one who makes the decisions, but the Alcibiades was one of our goals when she started showing what she could do."

In addition to Naval Command, Hendricks and Justice own East Hall and Hendricks and Pinnacle are partners in Holiday Magic, the other two members of the Kaplan-trained trio in the Keeneland stakes barn. East Hall is slated to run in the Indiana Derby on Saturday and Holiday Magic is to start in the Indiana Oaks.

"It is going to be a busy weekend for us," said Kaplan, who is flying from Florida to Lexington Friday morning along with jockey Juan Leyva. "We will ship the two horses up to Indiana the day of the race and then come back to Keeneland and then on Sunday we are running six at Gulfstream."

Loooch Racing Stable and Christopher Dunn's Ria Antonia, winner of the 2013 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, worked a half-mile in :48 before the Monday morning renovation break. Ria Antonia is nominated to Sunday's Grade 1 Spinster.

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Calder gets extensive renovations as 'Gulfstream Park West'

In preparation for the upcoming Gulfstream Park Fall Turf Festival, the facilities at Gulfstream Park West, formerly Calder Race Course, have undergone extensive renovations.

Overseen by Gulfstream Park consultant Bill Badgett, the project has been in the works since Gulfstream took over management of the Miami Gardens property earlier this summer. Under an agreement with Churchill Downs, Inc., that was agreed to in July to end head-to-head racing in South Florida, Gulfstream is leasing the racetrack, including 15 barns on the track's backside.

Those barns have been completely cleaned and refurbished with fresh paint, wider shedrows lined with new footing, and newly installed electrical outlets. The stalls in each barn have also been equipped with new eyehooks for buckets and stall guards as well as custom-fitted mats designed to provide comfortable, sure footing for the horses. The turf course at Gulfstream Park West has also been renovated, having been weeded, fertilized, and given additional soil. Click here for video of all the upgrades.

"We went through each stall and through the barn area. We had to replace about 230 of the feed tub holders, and we went around and put in about 350 eyehooks so people could have some place to hang their water buckets," Badgett said. "We put virtually 1,000 pounds of clay at each end of the barn for the stalls. We wanted to go the extra mile to make everybody happy, and when they shipped their horses in from other racetracks, everybody would be very comfortable."

The renovations have delighted the trainers on site, who say that the improved conditions not only boost morale in the barn but also allow them to do their jobs more efficiently. The group of supporters includes trainer Bill White, who won 15 training titles at Calder and has spent almost 30 years training in South Florida.

"The backside now has a freshness about it that was lacking previously," White said. "I came here in 1986, so I've spent now more than half my life on the backside here at Calder. I was glad about Gulfstream taking over. I'm very excited and I think a lot of other people are excited to have some new blood in here -- Gulfstream -- putting some money in, some fresh ideas, and trying to get this thing turned around."

Fellow trainer Marcus Vitali, who saddled Lochte to win the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap during last year's Championship Meet, echoed those sentiments.

"It's amazing," he said. "I've been coming back and forth between Gulfstream and Calder for the last six years, and I've never seen Calder in this condition. It's amazing what they've done to the backside. I couldn't ask for more."

Phil Combest, a longtime trainer and the president of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA), similarly expressed his pleasure about how the renovations benefit the horses.

"The horses really need to be able to lay down and relax in their stall, and it was impossible before," he said. "They were such a mess, and now, with the re-claying and the painting and everything, the horses are happier, the barns have got a better breezeway through there, and I think the help are going to be terrifically surprised when they move into their dormitory rooms."

The Gulfstream Park Fall Turf Festival is slated to begin on October 8 and will run through November 30. The 40-day boutique meet will feature 23 stakes worth a total of $1.775 million. Highlights include the $600,000 Sunshine Millions Preview Day, featuring eight $75,000 stakes races for Florida-breds, on November 8 as well as the $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap and $100,000 My Charmer, both on November 22. 

"When the quality of racing improves, there's owners out there that are watching," White said. "Everybody now, whether it be through Internet, television, or whatever, they have access to know what's going on. When these owners see that the racing in South Florida is now improving, it's going to now create the opportunity for new horses and new owners to send their horses here, and being a trainer, that's good for me."

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Treve team happy with Paris rainfall

Connections of Treve were pleased to see some rain fall in Paris Monday ahead of her bid to retain her Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe crown at Longchamp October 5.

The Criquette Head-Maarek-trained filly was an impressive winner of Europe's premier middle-distance prize last October when capping her undefeated three-year-old campaign. The bay has had her fair share of problems since then with a second behind Cirrus des Aigles in the Prix Ganay at Longchamp April 27 in her seasonal bow and a third to The Fugue in Ascot's Prince of Wales's June 18. However, she is reported to have done everything right since her latest run in the Prix Vermeille, when she was fourth to Baltic Baroness.

"Treve is in good form," commented Harry Herbert, manager to owners Al Shaqab Racing. "They had rain in Paris today, so the more of that the better as far as making it good or on the easier side of good, which would suit her best. There's no way I've lost faith in her. If she gets her ground and she will have needed the run last time as well -- hopefully she will go to the Arc spot on."

Al Shaqab Racing also has an equally strong contender as part-owners in the Elie Lellouche-trained Ectot, who burst into the picture with a smart performance to win the Prix Niel on his first try at 1 1/2 miles after a five-month layoff. A winner of the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud as a juvenile, the bay looks to add another win at the highest level Sunday.

"Ectot worked this morning and did it very nicely," said Herbert. "It was his last gentle piece before the weekend. I thought it was a bold move to run him over a mile and a half by Elie first time after a layoff. It said a lot about the horse. He was very impressive and will come on a lot for that run, obviously, match-fitness wise."

Gordon Lord Byron left big-race pilot Wayne Lordan perfectly satisfied after he enjoyed a post-racing workout at Roscommon in his build-up to the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp Sunday. The Tom Hogan-trained gelding struck Group 1 gold in the Paris showpiece in 2012 and found only Moonlight Cloud too good last year.

"All Tom wanted to do was to give him a blow, there were two-year-olds in front of me and I left them off a bit," said Lordan. "When I gave him a squeeze to quicken up, he quickened up well and he pricked his ears in the last half-furlong."

The durable bay reported home third in the Boomerang Mile September 13 in his latest effort before his return to Longchamp.

Added Lordan, "I was trying not to do too much on him, just get a slight blow into him and he seems well in himself. He's won the Foret before and I'm looking forward to the ride on him."

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Sun Chariot attracts all-star cast

An exceptional renewal of the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes is in prospect at Newmarket's Rowley Mile Racecourse on Saturday as four of the 10 entries remaining at Monday's forfeit stage are already Group 1 winners while seven of them have won Pattern races this season.

Not only is this £200,000 one-mile event likely to witness a rematch between last year's first and second, Sky Lantern and Integral, it is set to be targeted by a very strong French raid with the Andre Fabre trio of Miss France, Esoterique and Fintry potentially being joined by Freddie Head's Prix Maurice de Gheest runner-up, Thawaany.

Integral won  the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket's July Course in July before disappointing when third to Esoterique and Miss France in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville.

"Integral bruised her off fore foot during the Rothschild and was not sound afterwards," said Chris Richardson, managing director of her owners, Cheveley Park Stud. "That, combined with it being a messy race where the four-runner field split in two, was the reason for her not performing as we expected.

"We have given her plenty of time since then and we intentionally missed the Matron Stakes to get her ready for this. I watched her work on Saturday when she went nicely and looked to be right on target.

"She is much stronger this year and although we have huge respect for Andre Fabre, who does not come over unless he thinks that he will win, we wouldn't swap her for anything.

"Sir Michael Stoute is a master at being patient with fillies like her that need time to mature and the chances are extremely high that she may stay in training next year."

French trainers have won five of the last six runnings of the Sun Chariot and Fabre is gunning to make that six out of seven.

"All three of my fillies are intended runners," he said. "Miss France will be ridden by Maxime Guyon, Pierre-Charles Boudot will be aboard Esoterique and Mickael Barzalona will partner Fintry.

"I have saved Miss France for this race, she is fresh and in very good shape and we know from her One Thousand Guineas win that she enjoys the Rowley Mile.

"We have decided to take advantage of the weather and the good ground with Esoterique, who could afterwards go on to the Breeders' Cup or to Japan.

"She was a bit unlucky to be drawn wide in the Prix du Moulin and was left with a lot of ground to make up. She could have won as she is in the same league as the three horses that finished in front of her.

"Fintry won a Group 2 in the spring before she was affected by a virus. She needed the race at Sandown last time but was still good enough to win and is a very easy ride -- she can make the running or come from behind."

Other classy entries include a pair of recent Group 3 scorers, Kiyoshi and J Wonder, plus Etaab, who could make a quick reappearance having won the Rosemary Stakes over this course and distance on Friday.

Charlie Hills reports Kiyoshi to be on course for the Group 1 after she returned to form with victory in the Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster earlier this month.

"At present Kiyoshi is on track to run in the Sun Chariot at Newmarket on Saturday and has been pleasing us at home since her Doncaster win," the Lambourn trainer reported.

Ivawood, general favorite for next May's Two Thousand Guineas, is one of 29 horses to stand their ground for the £500,000 Tattersalls Millions Two-Year-Old Trophy at Newmarket on Saturday. Unbeaten in three starts, two of those in Group 2 company, the Richard Hannon-trained colt was last seen winning the Richmond Stakes in impressive fashion at Glorious Goodwood.

The Hannon yard is famed for its success in big sales races and has five other possibles, including Osaila, a close fifth to Cursory Glance in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh.

Aidan O'Brien has a potential runner in The Warrior, who was third to the smart Portage at the Curragh on Sunday.

Osaila is also in the £300,000 Tattersalls Millions Two-Year-Old Fillies' Trophy on the same card, for which there are 14 confirmations. Among them is the Mick Channon-trained Malabar, who was one place in front of Osaila in the Moyglare.

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Sea the Moon to stand at Lanwades Stud in Newmarket

Sea the Moon was all the rage for the Arc after his German Derby romp (Frank Sorge/
Sea the Moon, sensational 11-length winner of the Deutsches Derby in July, will stand at Lanwades Stud in Newmarket it was announced Monday.

In a deal brokered by Blandford Bloodstock, the early Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe favorite was undefeated until a close-up second in the Grosser Preis Von Baden and a flare-up of a recurring knee injury sent him into retirement.

A 230,000 guineas RNA at the 2012 Tattersalls October Sale and trained by Markus Klug, the Gestut Gorlsdorf homebred scored in the Union Rennen June 15 and in Frankfurt's Fruhjahrs Dreijahrigen-Preishuses May 11 prior to his Derby triumph. The imposing bay was retired earlier this month with a mark of 5-4-1-0 and $710,142 in earnings. He will stand for £15,000.

"It is with immense pleasure that we can announce that Sea the Moon is coming to Lanwades Stud for the 2015 covering season," commented Lanwades owner Kirsten Rausing. "He made such a huge impression on everybody when winning the German Derby and we feel that he will be a very popular sire indeed. He is a beautiful colt and so closely resembles the magnificent Sea the Stars who has made such an extraordinary impact at stud this year. "As he is out of a Monsun full-sister to Samum, he represents a fantastic outcross option for many European breeders."

One of his sire's two first-crop classic winners, Sea the Moon was produced by a full-sister to German Derby winners Schiaparelli and Samum and to German Oaks winner Salve Regina. German Group 1 victor Seismos is also under the second dam.

Added Blandford Bloodstock's Richard Brown, "This is a very exciting moment indeed for Miss Rausing and everyone at Lanwades Stud. Along with the many other interested farms, we have been following this beautifully bred and exceptionally talented horse for some time. So it is fantastic that the Bischoff-Lafrentz family have decided to do a deal with Lanwades. Miss Rausing will be supporting Sea the Moon with some of her best mares which will certainly be a big boost for his stud career."

"We have spent the last two weeks considering the best options for Sea the Moon and have been approached by many leading European stud farms," said Gestut Goerlsdorf's Heike Bischoff-Lafrentz. "Miss Rausing and her team at Lanwades Stud have been absolutely fantastic to deal with and it's really been a very simple decision in the end. Lanwades is a terrific stud farm and the combination of Miss Rausing's and Gestut Goerlsdorf's mares, shareholders' mares and broodmares from the marketplace will ensure that Sea the Moon has the best possible start at stud which, as the colt's breeders, was always our priority."

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In brief

Rajiv Maragh was released from the hospital Monday and could recover in time to make the Breeders' Cup, the jockey tweeted. Maragh suffered a broken right arm when involved in a spill in Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), and underwent surgery Sunday morning at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York. "Headed home from hospital in great shape," Maragh posted on Twitter. "In 10 days will have a follow up and a prognosis for return to riding. Fingers crossed for BC. :)," he added. Maragh is the regular rider of Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) contender Main Sequence (Aldebaran), whom he guided to a third straight Grade 1 win in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational one race prior to the Gold Cup, as well as leading Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) hopeful Artemis Agrotera (Roman Ruler). He was also scheduled to ride Imperia (Medaglia d'Oro) in Sunday's Pilgrim (G3), only to watch from the hospital as Javier Castellano picked up the mount on the winner who now likely heads to the Juvenile Turf (G1)...

Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux was transported by ambulance to Arcadia Methodist Hospital after being kicked in his chest by his mount prior to Sunday's 8TH race at Santa Anita. Desormeaux was aboard two-year-old filly first-time starter She's a Big Winner (Bellamy Road) when she reared and unseated him. At that point, Desormeaux got to his feet in an apparent attempt to remount the filly when she kicked him violently with a hind leg, causing him to reel backwards approximately 10 feet. Various reports on Twitter indicated that Desormeaux suffered rib fractures. Desormeaux, 42, has enjoyed a career resurgence since returning to Southern California on a full-time basis this past May. He had three wins earlier on the Sunday card and as such, is tied for second in the newly begun Autumn Meet rider standings with Martin Pedroza and Joe Talamo...

Off the heels of across-the-board gains in 2013, Monmouth Park has done it again, sporting increases in live and simulcast handle as well as attendance for the 57-day racing season which concluded on Sunday. Average attendance in 2014 was 9,296, a 3.4 percent increase over last year, when the track ran 61 live cards. Average on-track handle showed a jump of 5.6 percent to $538,540, compared with $510,106, the average in 2013. Total simulcast handle came in at an average of $4,060,081, a 3.3 percent improve over last year's $3,930,540 average. "With the strong possibility of sports betting on the near horizon, and the likelihood of casino expansion outside of Atlantic City, the future for the gaming industry and horse racing in New Jersey looks brighter than it has in quite some time," said Dennis Drazin, advisor to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and Darby Development LLC, operators of the racetrack. "In addition to our hopes of adding these new revenue streams, we are on the verge of opening a new OTB in Hillsborough, have begun building a new restaurant near Bluegrass Mini Golf and next year will complete construction of a 7,500-seat amphitheater." Paco Lopez rode an impressive 120 winners, providing the 28-year-old journeyman with his third Monmouth riding title. Lopez broke a 53-year-old record when on May 17 he rode seven winners on a single card. He equaled that record just three weeks later on June 6. Top trainer was a repeat of 2013 with Jorge Navarro collecting the trophy for leading conditioner after sending out 43 winners. White Wabbit Wacing LLC enjoyed their first owner's title, having sent out 24 winners for the meet. Thoroughbred racing in New Jersey continues at the Meadowlands for all-turf cards through November 1. The Monmouth-at-Meadowlands meet will race live on Fridays and Saturdays, first post 7 p.m. (EDT).

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SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

A unique championship showdown

by Vance Hanson

Barring unforeseen developments, the three-year-old male championship will be decided in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on November 1.

The results of the 1 1/4-mile Classic have decided this Eclipse Award before. Think Sunday Silence over Easy Goer in 1989 and Tiznow over Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.

In 2007, three horses entered the Classic with legitimate championship credentials. Curlin prevailed in the Monmouth Park slop over Street Sense and Hard Spun that day.

The 2014 Classic has the potential to go one better with four (!) major contenders for the title: Bayern, California Chrome, Shared Belief, and Tonalist. And unlike the aforementioned runnings, there doesn't appear to be an older horse in sight capable of mucking up the outcome.

It will be a situation nearly all racing fans have never witnessed before. Unless, that is, you were around and consciously aware on November 9, 1957.

On that clear Saturday afternoon, a crowd of more than 39,000 descended on Garden State Park to watch Bold Ruler, *Gallant Man, and Round Table square off for the three-year-old title in the $82,350 Trenton Handicap over 1 1/4 miles. With leading older horse Dedicate withheld due to lameness and two unimportant older horses scratched due to the improbability of earning more than a modest fourth-place check, the deck was cleared for a three-horse showdown.

Bold Ruler entered the Trenton with eight stakes wins on the year, including the Preakness and two wins against older horses in the Vosburgh Handicap and Queens County Handicap. Gallant Man's five stakes wins included the Belmont and two scores against older rivals in the Nassau County Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup. The California-based Round Table was going for his 11th stakes win of the season and having beaten his elders in the Hollywood Gold Cup, United Nations Handicap and Hawthorne Gold Cup.

The three were hardly strangers. Bold Ruler had defeated Gallant Man twice early in the year, in the Bahamas and Wood Memorial, but subsequently finished behind that rival in the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, and Woodward. In the Kentucky Derby, Round Table finished ahead of Bold Ruler but behind Gallant Man, to whom he had also lost in the Hibiscus to start the year.

With Gallant Man holding a head-to-head lead over the other two, the 124-pound co-highweight was favored at 7-5. The betting market was tight, however, with Bold Ruler starting at 8-5 while toting 122 pounds, and co-highweight Round Table a tick higher at 17-10.

Unfortunately, there wasn't much drama to the Trenton. Contested over a track labeled good, Bold Ruler shot out to a clear lead and set sensible fractions of :23 3/5, :47 1/5, and 1:11 1/5. Up eight lengths after six furlongs and 3 1/2 lengths after a mile in 1:36 4/5, Bold Ruler "...willingly responded to hand pressure and, being occasionally 'shown' the whip through the final three-sixteenths, continued strongly to the end," according to the Daily Racing Form trackman.

Bold Ruler sealed the championship with a 2 1/4-length victory over Gallant Man in a time of 2:01 3/5. Round Table was 8 1/2 lengths farther back.

We can all hope the Breeders' Cup Classic won't prove to be such an anti-climax. Nearly five weeks out, however, it seems likely that Shared Belief will be a strong favorite, perhaps an odds-on choice.

The undefeated gelding, who missed the Triple Crown due to lingering foot issues, has reeled off consecutive wins in the Los Alamitos Derby, Pacific Classic, and Awesome Again. If he were to win the Breeders' Cup Classic, Shared Belief will have won more stakes open to older horses than any three-year-old male champion since Secretariat swept the Marlboro Cup, Man o' War and Canadian International in 1973. Only Buckpasser, Damascus, Arts and Letters, and Key to the Mint can lay claim to the same feat in the last half-century.

California Chrome, clearly ahead in the title chase after sweeping the first two legs of the Triple Crown, has seen his stock tumble in the past couple of months. Not only has Shared Belief's rise taken the shine off California Chrome, but his sub-par sixth in the Pennsylvania Derby suggests he will have to improve dramatically to win on Breeders' Cup day.

Bayern and Tonalist are longer shots but theoretically still in the hunt for the title. Bayern obviously had everything his own way in his blowout victories in the Haskell Invitational and Pennsylvania Derby, but who's to say the spirit of Bold Ruler will not shine brightly on Bayern as he tries to take them all the way over 10 furlongs? Remember, folks, this is Santa Anita.

Tonalist, who won the Belmont and Peter Pan in the spring, kept his championship hopes alive with an impressive tally in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. East Coast-based runners have historically found it difficult reproducing their best form in California, but Tonalist is a true 1 1/4-mile horse and is arguably going better at the moment than all save Shared Belief.

This race will be unique in the annals of American championship racing. No matter the outcome, savor it and enjoy.


SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

Horse of the Year Race Down To Eight

by Ed DeRosa

The criteria voters use to determine their top 10 horses is as subjective as the ranking themselves. Some vote on accomplishment, others based on who is the most talented, some as a pure "Horse of the Year" question, and most as some combination of those three things.

Poll administrator Joan Lawrence has said that the poll should most reflect the voter's thoughts on who is most likely to win Horse of the Year when the racing season ends. It is with that question in mind that I don't rank Palace Malice in the top 8, as while he's the best main track older male to run this year, he has no chance at Horse of the Year as the eight in front of him do.

So, with one major prep weekend remaining ahead of the Breeders' Cup World Championships on October 31-November 1 at Santa Anita Park, we are down to eight horses who still have a chance at winning the gold statue.

The horses who most control their own destiny are the four Grade 1-winning three-year-olds expected for the Breeders' Cup Classic. If either of Bayern, California Chrome, Shared Belief, or Tonalist win that race then with one small possible exception discussed below, would undoubtedly be Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old male.

Interestingly, it would also mark the first time in seven years that the Classic winner goes on to win Horse of the Year, and the last time it happened -- 2007 -- was in a Classic field most celebrated as a three-year-old showdown between Derby winner Street Sense, Preakness winner Curlin, and Hard Spun, who had just defeated Street Sense in the Kentucky Cup. Curlin won to earn the first of his two Horse of the Year awards.

Next on my list are the multiple Grade 1-winning turf males Main Sequence and Wise Dan. The former has the Grade 1 edge for now, but the latter is running this weekend. If either wins out and one of the aforementioned three-year-olds falters in the Classic then the Horse of the Year could go to the champion turf male for the third consecutive year.

Either Close Hatches or Untapable would gain some Horse of the Year consideration with a Distaff win (that assumes Close Hatches wins the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes on Sunday at Keeneland Race Course), but unless the winner returns to defeat males in a race like the Clark I wouldn't back them.

Palace Malice and Palace round out my top ten as leaders of the older male and sprint divisions, respectively, but neither is a Horse of the Year candidate.

Some kooky things can happen, of course… if none of the aforementioned horses wins, then California Chrome is probably the most likely Horse of the Year with three Grade 1 wins, including the classic double of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. I wouldn't vote for him, as he'd be lacking a win against older males, but precedence certainly favors dual classic winners as a default (e.g. Charismatic in 1999), so from a who-will-win versus who-should-win standpoint he'd be my pick.

The closest vote would likely be between a Classic-winning Bayern and a Mile-winning Wise Dan. I'd vote for Bayern if that's where their seasons end, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Wise Dan in the Clark where a win would likely earn him champion older male for sure and possibly Horse of the Year to go with champion turf male if he wins the Mile (though if Main Sequence wins the Turf then maybe he gets turf male and Wise Dan can get older male and Horse of the Year with a Clark win. It would be a shame to see a multiple Grade 1-winning Turf winner denied an Eclipse Award again a la Little Mike in 2012).

I see no scenario, however, where a Classic win from either of the classic winners (California Chrome and Tonalist) or the undefeated champion Shared Belief does not result in Horse of the Year even if Wise Dan goes on to annex another Grade 1 post Breeders' Cup.

Either Close Hatches or Untapable would be fun Clark additions if Horse of the Year is in play. Racing Hall of Fame Trainer D. Wayne Lukas saddled three-year-old filly Surfside to a Clark victory in 2000 following a loss to longshot stablemate Spain in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. That win wasn't good enough for gold, but she did win champion three-year-old filly.

Here's a look at the Eclipse Award races by division:

Three-year-old male: California Chrome is the leader of the division, but any of the other three Horse of the Year candidates would usurp him with a Breeders' Cup Classic win. Otherwise, California Chrome -- even if he tanks the rest of the year -- gets the nod as a dual classic winner.

Three-year-old filly: Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable unquestionably the leader, but Alabama winner Stopchargingmaria would be hard to deny the award if she wins the Breeders' Cup Distaff. I look at the year both of these horses have had and still can't believe Oaks-Alabama winner Flute lost champion three-year-old filly to Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up Xtra Heat.

Older male: Many horses with just the one Grade 1 win with Palace Malice best of the bunch, but the spring and early summer form has not held well, as three-year-olds have won the major late summer and early fall prizes.

Older female: Close Hatches in the driver's seat especially with a win on Sunday, but Beholder or Belle Galantey would deserve consideration with a Breeders' Cup Distaff win

Male sprinter: Likely to come down to the Breeders' Cup Sprint, but Palace leads the division on accomplishment.

Female sprinter: Likely to come down to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, but Artemis Agrotera has flashed the most brilliance to date.

Turf male: Down to Wise Dan and Main Sequence, a matchup reminiscent of 2012 when Wise Dan, Little Mike, and Point of Entry all came into the Breeders' Cup with multiple Grade 1 wins. Wise Dan won the Mile and Little Mike the Turf, and the Eclipse Awards went to Wise Dan. I expect the same to happen if Wise Dan threepeats—even if Main Sequence wins his fourth Grade 1 in the Turf.

Turf female: Euro Charline's Beverly D. is looking better and better with also rans going on to win Grade 1 races on both coasts, but only a QE2 win might not be enough to take down a Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner who already has a Grade 1.

Trainer Stats


Trainer   Starts   Wins   Win %
Rob Atras   19   9   47
Thomas Drury, Jr.   19   9   47
Scott D. Mullins   18   8   44
Alfredo Velazquez   19   8   42
Kenneth Gleason   29   12   41
Keith Nations   17   7   41
Riley Rycroft   17   7   41
Greg Tracy   88   35   40
Kirk Ziadie   37   14   38
Douglas W. Danner   19   7   37
Keith G. Bourgeois   42   15   36
Richard R. Scherer   28   10   36
Ralph E. Nicks   31   11   35
Franklin G. Smith, Jr.   17   6   35
Anthony F. Rini   40   14   35
Brian M. Roberts   20   7   35
Philip A. Sims   20   7   35
Milton W. Wolfson   20   7   35
Steve Klesaris   23   8   35
Gary Simpson   23   8   35
J. Larry Jones   29   10   34
Marcos Zulueta   30   10   33
Richard E. Mandella   27   9   33
L. Tracy McCarthy   18   6   33
Floyd Buffalo   15   5   33
Mark Fournier   15   5   33
Lorna M. Gray   15   5   33
Demelza McMahon   15   5   33
Garry W. Simms   15   5   33

Trainer/Jockey Stats


Trainer/Jockey Combo   Starts   Wins   Win %
Kirk Ziadie/Edgard J. Zayas   17   9   53%
Ramon Preciado/Roberto Alvarado, Jr.   21   11   52%
William D. Cowans/Dean A. Sarvis   16   8   50%
Gustavo Delgado/Edgard J. Zayas   17   8   47%
Wesley A. Ward/Rafael Manuel Hernandez   24   11   46%
Greg Tracy/Rico W. Walcott   40   18   45%
Chris J. Englehart/J. M. Rohena   16   7   44%
Ronney W. Brown/Jose Montano   23   10   43%
Tammy Domenosky/James Graham   21   9   43%
Kiaran P. McLaughlin/Irad Ortiz, Jr.   21   9   43%
Jon G. Arnett/Norberto Arroyo, Jr.   19   8   42%
Greg Tracy/Scott Williams   24   10   42%
Kathleen A. Demasi/Kendrick Carmouche   17   7   41%
Keith G. Bourgeois/Joseph Walter Patin, Jr.   22   9   41%
J. R. Caldwell/Jareth Loveberry   30   12   40%
Ronald L. Westermann/Jake L. Olesiak   20   8   40%
Daniel J. Lopez/Angel Serpa   15   6   40%
Jason Servis/Gabriel Saez   23   9   39%
M. Anthony Ferraro/Joel Cruz   18   7   39%
David Walters/Jose Montano   18   7   39%
Jorge Navarro/Eddie Castro   34   13   38%
Karl Broberg/Colby J. Hernandez   53   20   38%
Jane Cibelli/Trevor McCarthy   19   7   37%
William Delia/Ricardo Gonzalez   19   7   37%
David D. McShane/Shane Laviolette   19   7   37%
Rudy R. Rodriguez/Irad Ortiz, Jr.   19   7   37%



(through September 29, 2014)



Name   Starts   1st   2nd   3rd  


1. California Chrome   7   5   0   0   $3,327,800
2. Tonalist   7   4   3   0   1,798,250
3. Untapable   6   5   0   0   1,708,600
4. Bayern   9   5   1   1   1,639,680
5. Wicked Strong   8   2   1   0   1,361,610
6. Close Hatches   4   4   0   0   1,315,000
7. Imperative   9   1   2   3   1,265,700
8. Palace Malice   5   4   0   0   1,195,000
9. Moreno   7   1   2   1   1,195,000
10. Shared Belief   4   4   0   0   1,101,000


Name   Starts   1st   2nd   3rd  


1. Todd Pletcher   791   189   134   114   $18,200,119
2. Jerry Hollendorfer   803   184   161   113   9,856,910
3. Chad Brown   417   105   70   65   9,818,831
4. Steve Asmussen   1036   240   167   152   9,751,552
5. Bob Baffert   318   74   55   43   9,362,374
6. Mark Casse   642   109   110   84   8,876,367
7. Bill Mott   535   80   82   78   9,385,385
8. Mike Maker   724   172   116   98   7,654,117
9. Graham Motion   587   114   83   86   7,251,760
10. Christophe Clement   368   73   70   62   7,213,648


Name   Mounts   1st   2nd   3rd  


1. Javier Castellano   1059   260   191   155   $19,845,832
2. Joel Rosario   987   174   163   146   17,256,348
3. Irad Ortiz Jr.   1083   209   183   168   14,986,295
4. John Velazquez   702   123   116   89   12,943,254
5. Jose Ortiz   903   164   148   124   11,434,974
6. Mike Smith   418   89   61   54   10,732,910
7. Rosie Napravnik   743   167   113   102   10,727,445
8. Rajiv Maragh   733   101   113   121   9,551,131
9. Jose Lezcano   691   104   113   115   9,077,185
10. Victor Espinoza   466   81   68   55   8,967,257

Note: Figures are for North American-based racing

At a Glance
Avg. Winning Odds: 4.31 - 1
Favorite Win%: 37%, Favorite Itm%: 78%
Daily Double58.93
Pick 3357.75
Pick 63,719.70
Pick 41,964.63
Pick 55,588.87
Pick 92,717.51
Super High Five Jackpot9,874.57
TRACK BIAS MEET(02/21 - 04/27)
Distance #
5.5fDirt 58 41% E Rail/Ins
6.0fDirt 84 35% E Mid/Out
1m 70yDirt 70 30% E Rail
1 1/16mDirt 43 23% E Rail/Ins
Turf Sprint 1 0% P Middle
Turf Routes 2 0% E/P Rail/Ins
TRACK BIAS WEEK(04/21 - 04/27)
Distance #
5.5fDirt 7 14% E/P Mid/Out
6.0fDirt 13 15% E/P Rail
1m 70yDirt 7 0% E/P Outside
1 1/16mDirt 5 40% E Rail/Ins
Turf Sprint 1 0% P Middle
Turf Routes 1 0% E/P Middle
Who's HOT, Who's NOT
HOT TRAINERS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
Mason Ingrid 10 5 0 1 5.77 2 16%
Robertson Hugh H. 12 5 3 1 3.94 4 16%
Becker Scott 13 5 2 1 5.65 4 26%
Tracy, Jr. Ray E. 8 3 1 0 11.78 0 17%
Lindsay Ricky 3 2 0 0 5.53 0 17%
Silva Carlos H. 5 2 0 1 11.84 0 12%
Matthews Doug 6 2 0 1 6.17 1 17%
HOT JOCKEYS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
Hernandez Rafael Manuel 26 9 3 4 6.24 2 26%
Homeister, Jr. Rosemary B. 12 4 0 1 7.55 2 14%
COLD TRAINERS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
Reavis Michael L. 12 0 1 2 12.01 0 19%
COLD JOCKEYS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
Rose Heidi 23 0 0 1 25.61 1 9%
Felix Julio E. 13 0 1 3 19.53 0 11%
Avg. Winning Odds: 7.01 - 1
Favorite Win%: 41%, Favorite Itm%: 76%
Daily Double121.98
Pick 3466.45
Pick 634,875.67
Pick 41,829.00
Pick 551,818.13
Super High Five37,787.00
TRACK BIAS MEET(12/26 - 06/29)
Distance #
6.0fDirt 156 36% E Middle
6.5fDirt 88 32% P Outside
1 MileDirt 85 36% E Rail/Ins
1 1/16mDirt 83 31% E Outside
DnTf Sprint 129 27% E/P Middle
Turf Routes 208 22% E/P Rail
TRACK BIAS WEEK(09/26 - 09/28)
Distance #
6.0fDirt 5 20% E/P Inside
6.5fDirt 6 17% E/P Outside
1 MileDirt 2 50% E/P Outside
1 1/16mDirt 3 33% E/P Middle
DnTf Sprint 4 25% P Mid/Out
Turf Routes 6 17% E Middle
Who's HOT, Who's NOT
HOT TRAINERS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
Mandella Richard E. 3 2 0 0 3.90 1 20%
Puype Mike 5 2 0 1 9.80 0 17%
HOT JOCKEYS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
Smith Mike E. 15 4 2 2 7.60 2 21%
Pedroza Martin A. 8 3 0 1 14.39 0 13%
COLD TRAINERS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
O'Neill Doug F. 19 0 0 0 24.02 1 15%
COLD JOCKEYS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
Perez Fernando Hernandez 13 0 1 1 31.91 1 14%
Nakatani Corey S. 12 0 2 1 9.42 2 13%


MONDAY:   Laurel Park and Remington Park
TUESDAY:   Hawthorne and Santa Anita Park
WEDNESDAY:   Indiana Downs and Woodbine
THURSDAY:   Delaware Park and Gulfstream Park
FRIDAY:   Belmont Park and Keeneland

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather


For Tuesday

Finger Lakes   (2nd) Ten Carat Rock, 5-1
    (6th) Instant Flash, 8-1
Fort Erie   (2nd) Highs and Lows, 3-1
    (7th) Northern Label, 9-2
Indiana Downs   (1st) Splinter Smith, 4-1
    (4th) Blew by Too, 7-2
Mountaineer   (1st) Lion's Code, 9-2
    (7th) Seventyseven, 6-1
Parx Racing   (5th) Had It All, 3-1
    (7th) Adelicate Miss, 4-1


For Tuesday

FINGER LAKES (1:10): $19,500 alw, 3&up, f&m, 1m 70yds (5TH).
FORT ERIE (2:00): $18,600 ocl, 3&up, f&m, 6f (3RD).
INDIANA DOWNS (2:05): $34,000 alw, 3&up, 5fT (6TH).
MOUNTAINEER (7:00): $31,000 alw, 3&up, 7 1/2fT (3RD).
PARX RACING (12:25): $46,000 ocl, 3&up, 1m 70yds (8TH).

*all times Eastern

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


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