Honor Code entered in Gulfstream allowance
As the Remsen winner, Honor Code will carry the top weight of 124 pounds in the $75,000 allowance. Javier Castellano, aboard for both of his stakes efforts, will guide him from post 4.
Fellow Triple Crown nominee Social Inclusion just began his career on the Fountain of Youth undercard, wiring a six-furlong maiden by 7 1/2 lengths. The Manuel Azpurua pupil set fast fractions of :22, :44 3/5 and :56 3/5 en route to finishing in 1:09 1/5. The Pioneerof the Nile colt now steps up in class and trip, but looms as the controlling speed from the rail. Luis Contreras retains the mount.
The only other Triple Crown nominee in the five-horse field is We're All Set, whose most notable result was a distant third in last October's In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Stakes. The Bill Kaplan runner has been well beaten in his last three, all in salty Gulfstream allowances. Fourth to Coup de Grace and Hy Kodiak Warrior in a one-mile contest on December 15, We're All Set was third to Top Billing and Surfing U S A on January 25 and fifth to Constitution, Tonalist and Mexikoma on February 22. The latter two came at this 1 1/16-mile trip.
Rounding out the quintet are Specialnightaction, 10th in a turf event where he ran for a $75,000 tag, and Ta Bueno, sixth in a $25,000 claimer in his latest.
General a Rod confirmed for Florida Derby
General a Rod is stabled at Gulfstream where he made his three-year-old debut with a head victory over Wildcat Red in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby on January 1. Maker had considered several options for the Roman Ruler colt before settling on the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby.
"Everything was in play," Maker said. "There were pros and cons that weighed into it, but he's right here, he can run right out of his own stall, and he's run well here."
General a Rod has had a different jockey in each of his four career starts, including Joel Rosario in the Gulfstream Park Derby and Javier Castellano in the Fountain of Youth.
Rosario rode Top Billing in the Fountain of Youth and Castellano has been the regular rider for Constitution, and with both horses pointing to the Florida Derby it remains uncertain who will be aboard General a Rod. "I'm still waiting to hear on that," Maker said.
Lecomte winner Vicar's in Trouble, who had been stabled with Maker's string at Fair Grounds, joined the trainer at Gulfstream last week. In his most recent start, the son of Into Mischief rallied to be third from post 14 in the Risen Star on February 22.
"He's doing well," Maker said. "He had a bad post position, but I still think he ran well. I'm still undecided on his next start."
Curlin among Hall of Fame nominees
The results of the voting on contemporary candidates will be announced on April 25. The induction ceremony will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, New York, on August 8 at 10:30 a.m. (EDT). The ceremony is free and open to the public.
Curlin, bred in Kentucky and owned by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables after a private sale early in his three-year-old season, won 11 of 16 career starts and has the highest purse earnings in North American history at $10,501,800, surpassing the previous mark set by Cigar. Trained for the majority of his career by Steve Asmussen, Curlin won the Breeders' Cup Classic, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Preakness, Arkansas Derby and Rebel at three in 2007 to be named Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old male. At four, he was once again Horse of the Year and added champion older male honors. Curlin won the Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster, Woodward and his second Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2008. Overall, he won nine graded/group stakes, including seven Grade/Group 1s.
Ashado, bred in Kentucky and owned by Starlight Stables, Paul Saylor and Johns Martin, won 12 of her 21 career starts with purse earnings of $3,931,440. She was named champion three-year-old filly in 2004 and champion older female in 2005. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Ashado won the Spinaway, Schuylerville and Demoiselle at two. At three, she won the Kentucky Oaks, Breeders' Cup Distaff, Coaching Club American Oaks, Fair Grounds Oaks and Cotillion Handicap. In her final season, at age 4 in 2005, Ashado won the Go for Wand Handicap, Ogden Phipps Handicap and Beldame.
Kona Gold, bred in Kentucky and owned in partnership by trainer Bruce Headley, Irwin and Andrew Molasky and Michael Singh's High Tech Stable, won 14 of 30 career starts with earnings of $2,293,384. He won the Eclipse Award for champion sprinter and was runner-up for Horse of the Year in 2000 when he won the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Ancient Title, Bing Crosby, Potrero Grande and Palos Verdes. In winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Kona Gold broke the Churchill Downs and Breeders' Cup record for six furlongs with a time of 1:07.77. A five-time Breeders' Cup Sprint participant, Kona Gold won the Bing Crosby and Potrero Grande again in 2001. He also had multiple victories in the El Conejo Handicap, including a Santa Anita track record in 1999. Kona Gold's other major wins included the San Carlos Handicap and Los Angeles Handicap. Overall, he won 10 graded stakes, including two Grade 1s.
Xtra Heat won 26 of 35 career starts and finished out of the money only twice with earnings of $2,389,635. Trained by John Salzman Sr., Xtra Heat was named champion three-year-old filly in 2001. She won 10 stakes races, including the Prioress. Xtra Heat won six races in a row twice during her career and posted two victories in both the Barbara Fritchie Handicap and the Endine. She also won the Vagrancy Handicap, Genuine Risk Handicap, Beaumont and Astarita.
Antley won 3,480 races and had purse earnings of $92,261,894 in a career that spanned from 1983 to 2000. He won 127 graded stakes races and 293 overall stakes. The leading North American rider by wins in 1985 with 469, Antley was a two-time Kentucky Derby winner, taking the Run for the Roses with Strike the Gold in 1991 and with Charismatic in 1999. He also won the Preakness with Charismatic. Other major victories for Antley included the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Woodward, Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Derby, Alabama, Wood Memorial, Manhattan Handicap, Carter Handicap, Louisiana Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks and Jerome Handicap, among others.
Gomez has won 3,769 races and has purse earnings of $205,224,899 in a career that began in 1988. He has won 318 graded stakes and 566 overall stakes. Gomez won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2007 and 2008 and led all North American riders in earnings each year from 2006 through 2009. Gomez won a record 76 stakes races in 2007 and has 13 Breeders' Cup wins to his credit, including the 2010 Classic with champion Blame. Among Gomez's major victories are the Pacific Classic, Travers, Santa Anita Derby, Whitney Handicap, Stephen Foster, Kentucky Oaks and Jockey Club Gold Cup. He won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2011.
Perret won 4,415 races and had purse earnings of $113,837,299 in a career that spanned from 1967 through 2005. He was the leading apprentice jockey in earnings in 1967 and won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 1990. Perret won the Kentucky Derby with Unbridled in 1990 and the Belmont Stakes with Bet Twice in 1987. Along with four Breeders' Cup victories, Perret has also won the Haskell, Travers, Queen's Plate, Florida Derby, Coaching Club American Oaks, Wood Memorial, Hopeful, Clark Handicap, Jerome, Withers and Carter, among others. He won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1988.
Solis has won 4,980 races and has purse earnings of $234,665,846 in a career that began in 1982. He has won 321 graded stakes and 633 overall stakes. Solis has won three Breeders' Cup races, including the 2003 Classic with Pleasantly Perfect. He won the 1986 Preakness with Snow Chief. He ranks ninth all time in earnings and 30th in wins. Major victories for Solis include the Santa Anita Derby, Florida Derby, Hollywood Derby, Malibu, Pacific Classic, Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Handicap, Dubai World Cup, Bing Crosby Handicap, Manhattan Handicap, Metropolitan Handicap, and Jockey Club Gold Cup, among others. He won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1997.
Asmussen has won 6,703 races with purse earnings of $214,030,552 in a career that began in 1986. He ranks second all time in wins and fifth in earnings. Asmussen won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 2008 and 2009 and has led all North American trainers in wins nine times and earnings three times. Asmussen has won 164 graded stakes and 752 overall stakes. In 2004, Asmussen won 555 races to surpass the single-year record of 496 that had been held by Jack Van Berg since 1976. Asmussen broke his own record in 2008 with 621 wins and topped it once again with 650 wins in 2009. Asmussen trained Curlin to Horse of the Year honors in 2007 and 2008 and Rachel Alexandra to the Horse of the Year title in 2009. He trained Rachel Alexandra to wins in the Preakness, Woodward, Haskell and Mother Goose. Asmussen has also trained champions Kodiak Kowboy and My Miss Aurelia. He has four Breeders' Cup victories.
Jones won 1,465 races and had purse earnings of $52,672,611 in a career that spanned from 1975 to 1996. He won 102 graded stakes and 233 overall stakes. Jones trained 104 stakes-winning horses, including Turkoman, the 1986 champion older male. Jones trained Turkoman to victories in the Marlboro Cup, Oaklawn Handicap and Widener Handicap. He conditioned Hall of Famer Best Pal to wins in the Santa Anita Handicap, Oaklawn Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Strub. Jones also trained Kostroma to a world turf record of 1:43 4/5 in the 1 1/8-mile Las Palmas Handicap. Other major victories for Jones included the Mother Goose, Santa Barbara Handicap, Hollywood Oaks, Del Mar Futurity, Hollywood Futurity, Yellow Ribbon, Swaps, Apple Blossom Handicap, San Antonio Handicap, San Felipe, Santa Anita Oaks, Hollywood Gold Cup, NYRA Mile, Milady Handicap, Fantasy, Californian and Norfolk, among others.
Super Saturday offers clues to Dubai World Cup night
"Both are in good form and have come out of that race well," bin Suroor said. "Prince Bishop looked better than ever winning that and I was really pleased with him. He has been working well since and Kieren Fallon gets on really well with him.
"African Story needed that run a month ago and has improved a lot fitness-wise since. We think 2,000 meters is his trip now and he loves the all-weather surface.
"Hopefully both will run well but it is a good race."
Fellow Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby is saddling his first Super Saturday runners and relies on Cat O'Mountain in the feature. Ultra impressive when winning a 2,200m all-weather handicap on his local debut, he then disappointed in a handicap over Saturday's course and distance. Stable jockey Mickael Barzalona rides.
"He was a disappointment last time but nothing really went right for him in the race so we will put a line through it and give him a chance to prove himself," Appleby said. "Obviously it is a big step up in class but hopefully he merits it."
"To have a runner in the Dubai World Cup would be amazing and this is his chance to prove he merits a place in three weeks. We are really looking forward to it."
Joshua Tree, second to Opinion Poll in the Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night 2012 for Marco Botti, is now trained by Ed Dunlop and is another interesting contender. Winner of the Canadian International in each of the last three seasons, he has also won in Ireland, England, France and Qatar.
The second Thoroughbred Group 1 on the card is the Jebel Hatta, the final race on the card and over the same 1,800-meter turf course and distance as the Dubai Duty Free. Again 14 have been declared with de Kock, leading the way in terms of numbers, being responsible for four runners.
Soumillon partners Vercingetorix, winner of all five career starts to date, including a Group 1 in his native land and a course and distance handicap on his local debut. Stable companion Anaerobio, the mount of Pat Cosgrave, is seeking a third 2014 Meydan Racecourse victory, while Mushreq, is another looking for a second Dubai World Cup Carnival win this year. He will be ridden by Paul Hanagan with Richard Hughes aboard the trainer's fourth runner, Mars.
Before winning this last year, Sajjhaa had won the Balanchine Stakes over Saturday's course and distance and this year's impressive winner of that race, L'Amour de Ma Vie trained by French-based Swede, Pia Brandt, will try and emulate her.
Trade Storm, winner of last year's Zabeel Mile for David Simcock, was second in that same race this year and has to be feared, along with Australian Group 1 winner Linton.
Other equine stars to look out for include Mount Athos, Heavy Metal, Penglai Pavilion, Battle of Marengo and Meandre, who clash in the Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold over the same 2,400-meter turf course and distance as the Dubai Sheema Classic.
With African Story, winner of the Group 3 Burj Nahaar taking his chance in the al Maktoum Challenge Round 3, all eyes will be on the Joey Ramsden-trained Variety Club in this year's renewal.
The dual South African Horse of the Year was impressive winning the Firebreak Stakes on his local debut three weeks ago. The Ernst Oertel-trained Capital Attraction, second in this last year, is among the opposition, as is this year's al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 heroine Shuruq, also winner of last year's U.A.E. Oaks, for Godolphin.
The opening race on Super Saturday is a Group 1 for Purebred Arabians.
Sweet Reason prevails in allowance comeback
This was the first outing for Sweet Reason since a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on November 2, where she started as the 5-2 favorite. In between the Spinaway and Breeders' Cup, Sweet Reason finished a brave second in the Frizette at Belmont Park after breaking well behind the field.
"If we are going to try to make the ($350,000) Gazelle (on April 5 at 1 1/8 miles), you don't want to come back off a long layoff and have her just lay it all out there and then have to run back in 30 days," Gyarmati said. "I kind of think this was perfect because it was well within her, (she) did it easily, it was a nice work, she learned something, she came back happy, and, hopefully, the next step will be a forward move instead of just a level move or a downward move."
Sweet Reason has earned $499,000 for Treadway Racing Stable.
Game On Dude has one strategy: go
On paper, at least.
"Game On Dude's not the type of horse that's looking to go out there and run in :24 or :49 (for a quarter-mile and half-mile, respectively)," said Mike Smith, who has ridden the gelding in eight of his last nine races, winning five.
"He runs numbers. He's got a high cruising speed and I let him do his thing. He's just got to run his race. He's just got to show up tomorrow. If he doesn't, I can go as slow as I want to go or as fast as I want to go, if he doesn't show up, it doesn't really matter.
"He's got to show up, and if he does that, I think he'll have just as good a chance as any of them."
In other Big 'Cap news:
D. Wayne Lukas was a welcome sight Friday morning back at The Great Race Place where the Hall of Fame trainer has registered many of his significant victories, which he will try to increase Saturday when he sends out Will Take Charge in the Big 'Cap, a race he won in 1991 with Farma Way.
"He's had a really good two, three months this winter," Lukas said of Will Take Charge. "He shipped in beautifully and he looks tremendous. I'm very happy with him. Oh, gosh. What a bonanza for the track (to have a race with stars of this magnitude)."
"This opportunity wouldn't have come along if it weren't for HRTV giving me the initial chance," said Migliore, who earned his on-air spurs with HRTV. "For that, I'm forever grateful and happy that I'm still working in some capacity for HRTV with 'Pursuit of the Crown' and covering the Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup.
"I'm thrilled. I love the Santa Anita Handicap; I love Santa Anita. The history of this race is something that captured my attention when I was 10 years old. So the fact that here I am, almost 40 years later and still involved in it, even if I can't ride in it, is a great thing."
If Imperative wins the Santa Anita Handicap, it could prove a bane to headline writers. Imperative is trained by George Papaprodromou, whose last name is a challenge for any spell check program. Not only is it the longest last name of the 198 trainers listed in Santa Anita's current condition book, it is the only one with five syllables.
But by a name of any length, George Papaprodromou and the gelding he claimed for $50,000 last December 21 had been flying under the radar until Imperative ran the race of his life, missing a 26-1 upset by a half-length in the San Antonio.
A son of one of the nation's premier stallions in Bernardini, Imperative will attempt to prove his game San Antonio performance was no fluke when he tackles alpha handicap stars Mucho Macho Man, Will Take Charge and Game On Dude in the Santa Anita Handicap.
"I liked the way he was bred," Papaprodromou said in explaining his reasons for claiming the four-year-old bay. "I always wanted to get a Bernardini. Imperative came up in a claiming race for 50 (thousand), I called up my owner (Kenji Morinaga of Arcadia, who campaigns as KM Racing Enterprise, Inc.), and we went for it. We took a shot."
Imperative earned $60,000 for finishing second in the San Antonio.
"Imperative ran a great race and came out of the race great," said the 37-year-old Papaprodromou, who has been training for 11 years, and came up under his father, Andreas, now a septuagenarian living on his farm in Cypress. "The horse is in top form right now and we're just hoping he runs another big race like he did in the San Antonio."
Kent Desormeaux, who was aboard in the San Antonio, will be back on Imperative for the Big 'Cap, which he won in 2002 aboard Milwaukee Brew for the late Bobby Frankel, and was disqualified from first on The Wicked North in 1994.
California Chrome hopes to shine on Big 'Cap undercard
If anyone knows the condition of California Chrome right now better than trainer Art Sherman, it's jockey Victor Espinoza.
The 41-year-old rider has been working the son of Lucky Pulpit regularly at Los Alamitos, where the chestnut colt has been headquartered. Espinoza also has ridden California Chrome in his last two starts, both daylight romps against state-breds. He tackles open company in Saturday's San Felipe, a Grade 2 race at 1 1/16 miles which offers a generous 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, virtually assuring a spot in the Run for the Roses on May 3.
"I feel good about how he's coming up to the race," Espinoza said. "He's ready to go and I like my post (4). Everything is good right now. I'm excited about the race."
Bayern, the early 8-5 morning line choice, was scratched reportedly due to a possible "deep bruise in a front foot."
The San Felipe is just one of the intriguing stakes on a blockbuster undercard supporting the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, including the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile, Grade 2 San Carlos and China Doll.
"I thought I'd go with a Hall of Famer," Abrams said. "Lakerville is bred for a mile. I've been trying to stretch him out for two years now, and this is the first opportunity."
John Sadler, trainer of Horizontalyspeakin, could scratch.
"The race looks awfully tough," he said. Asked what could be next: "No specific race, but an easier race."
Fitness was the determining factor in Clubhouse Ride running in the seven-furlong San Carlos rather than the Big 'Cap or the Kilroe Mile.
"It came down to fitness," trainer Craig Lewis said. "He wasn't fit enough to run in the Big 'Cap at a mile and a quarter. I didn't get enough bottom into him. He had a layoff and his feet were messed up; he really needed his last race (fifth by about four lengths in the Joe Hernandez Stakes on February 23, his first race in five months).
"A mile and a quarter at this point in time would be just asking for too much."
Dwarfed in recognition Saturday by the graded stakes, but not by potential talent and sheer competitiveness, the $75,000 China Doll Stakes seems lost in the proverbial shuffle. But the one mile turf test for three-year-old fillies, which goes as the 6TH race, drew a full field of 13. How tough is it? Eleven of the 13 have won at least once in their last two starts. From a handicapping standpoint, it's perhaps the most challenging of the day's 11 races.
Trainer Eoin Harty sends out Sushi Empire in the China Doll for owner George (Chip) McEwen III, who races as Wounded Warrior Stables and whose Uncle Sigh continues on the Triple Crown trail in the Wood Memorial on April 5.
Sushi Empire won the Blue Norther impressively at one mile on turf January 1, before finishing seventh and last in her first try on dirt, in the Las Virgenes on February 1.
Said Harty of the China Doll: "It's a full field and anyone can win."
Palace Malice ready for season debut
Palace Malice drew the far outside post in the field of eight older horses going a mile on the main track. He will be ridden for the first time by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
"I think it's actually a good post position for him," Pletcher said. "It kind of gives him a few options to see how things unfold inside of him. We'll ask him to leave there running a little bit to put him into the race. The track's been playing that way a bit but based on the way he ran in some of his earlier races, he broke his maiden at Saratoga and ran pretty fast early on. He ran pretty well here going seven furlongs last year, so hopefully the one-turn mile suits him."
Owned by Dogwood Stable, Palace Malice will be up against some familiar foes in fellow Triple Crown veterans Itsmyluckyday, the Florida Derby and Preakness runner-up making his season debut; and Falling Sky, winner of the Gulfstream Park Sprint on February 8, who was 19th in the Kentucky Derby.
Based with Pletcher at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream's satellite training facility, Palace Malice has had eight breezes for his return, most recently going a half-mile in :48 4/5 on Sunday.
"What we do in these cases is do enough to get them ready to run well, hopefully win and still move forward for the race and have something to build on," Pletcher said. "Hopefully you don't overdo it or underdo it, either. You're trying to get it right and run well enough that they can win, but not so well that they can't recover and build on it and improve for it, as well."
Unlimited Budget holds class edge in return
Unlimited Budget won her first four career starts, including the Demoiselle at two and the Rachel Alexandra and Fair Grounds Oaks at three. She was third behind Eclipse Award finalist Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks after being bumped at the gate, then was ambitiously placed against males in the Belmont Stakes, running sixth of 14 behind stablemate Palace Malice.
In the Coaching Club American Oaks, Unlimited Budget hit the starting gate and raced on the inside to the quarter pole before fading to finish last of five to Princess of Sylmar. She was given the rest of the year off and sent to J.J. Crupi's farm in Ocala, Florida, joining Pletcher in January.
"She basically was just a little tired from her campaign," Pletcher said. "She was running hard all spring and summer and had lost a little bit of weight, and wasn't doing quite as well. It was just time to give her a freshening, and she's done really well for it. She put on a lot of weight and has come back and been training very forwardly."
Unlimited Budget went five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 at Palm Meadows on March 2, the most recent of seven breezes for her return.
"She's always been a filly that has been impressive to watch train," Pletcher said. "She's a big, strong filly that seems to have a nice blend of speed and stamina, so we're looking forward to getting her season under way."
Vaccarezza maps out campaign for Little Mike
"If he's ready, we may run him in an allowance on (March 29) or the following Sunday just to give him a race, and go a mile or mile and a sixteenth. The goal is to go to the Woodford Reserve and then continue the same path that we took a year ago and, hopefully, back to the Breeders' Cup."
Though he has been involved in the Thoroughbred industry for more than three decades as a breeder, breaker and owner, Vaccarezza finds himself on a new path after taking over the training of his horses in December from Dale Romans.
The famed restaurateur sold most of his eateries but still owns and operates Frank & Dino's in Deerfield Beach, which is hosting a benefit for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund beginning at 6 p.m. (EST) on March 31. Cost for the event is $150 per person or $2,000 to sponsor a table for 10 guests. The price includes dinner, entertainment and a silent auction, with proceeds going to the PDJF. Patrons are asked to R.S.V.P. by March 28 at 954-427-4909.
"I used to have a big farm in Ocala and I was breaking horses for Mr. (George) Steinbrenner, rest in peace," Vaccarezza said. "We had a lot of good clients, but breaking horses on a farm in Ocala is a completely different environment than being a trainer at the racetrack. I sold the restaurant and I had the time to do it.
"I talked to Dale and said we should bring some horses here for the summer. He said OK, and the horses that came down were my horses, eight or nine of them. I was here at 4 o'clock in the morning every morning and Dale said, 'You're there, I'll help you out. You should do it.' I took the test again and got my license back, and here I am."
Vaccarezza has a dozen horses stabled in barn 14 on the Gulfstream backstretch opposite 84-year-old Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens, and another 12 at J.J. Crupi's New Castle Farm in Ocala.
"I'm blessed to haven Allen in my barn. It's like going to Harvard University without paying tuition," Vaccarezza said. "He's an icon and he's such a wonderful person, just a wonderful human being. Every morning he tells you something that I would never think in a million years. He makes a lot of sense and by the same token he'll tell you, 'Listen, sometimes this is a guessing game.'"
Vaccarrezza's first two wins as a trainer came with three-year-old fillies making their career debuts at Gulfstream: Little Alexis on February 9 and Little Michelle on February 21. Owned by his wife, Little Michelle returned to the races Friday and finished third in a $48,750 optional claimer.
Little Alexis was a winner by 1 3/4 lengths at odds of 23-1 in her first start, running 5 1/2 furlongs on the main track in 1:02.85, not far from the course record of 1:02.34 set by Discreet Dancer in 2011. Though he has big aspirations, Vaccarezza is staying patient with the daughter of Mr. Greeley.
"Alexis is a very classy filly and I want to take my time with her. I don't want to rush her," he said. "She's a filly that can be in the (Kentucky) Oaks. I can see her soon in a big race. She has a lot of quality. She likes to go long and she's probably going to run good going two turns.
"I had a lot of hopes for her when I bought her and sent her to Crupi in Ocala. He told me, 'Listen, she's something special.' When Dale was training for me I sent her to him in Kentucky and he said she was the real deal. If you hear that from those guys, they know much more than I do."
Romans remains with Vaccarezza as a consultant in Little Dreams Racing, an ownership group they founded along with veteran owner John Williams in the spring of 2013. The partnership offers investors the chance to own horses for as little as one percent of the purchase price.
Little Alexis was purchased for $32,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale on behalf of Little Dreams, and earned $24,000 in her debut win. Little Michelle brought $2,000 at the same sale, and banked $23,400 for her win.
"It's basically the same thing as Little Mike, a rags to riches story," Vaccarezza said. "Little Alexis I bought for $32,000, and she could be anything. The other filly was a $2,000 purchase, and she won really impressively. That's a good sign, and it sends a great message to the people that want to participate that you don't necessarily have to buy a million-and-a-half, two million-dollar horse to have fun and have a runner."
'Kiaran's Kids' outreach program begins sixth year on NYRA circuit
"Kiaran's Kids," a youth mentoring and outreach program at Belmont Park hosted by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, is entering its sixth year on the New York Racing Association (NYRA) circuit. The after school mentoring program partners with Gateway Youth Outreach Inc. (GYO) of Elmont, New York, by giving 15 students a behind-the-scenes look at what takes place at a race track. Participating students range from first- to sixth-graders and visit McLaughlin's barn at Belmont Park every other week for two hours after school.
"The kids are amazed when they see everything that goes into Thoroughbred horseracing -- from learning what the horse chiropractor does to watching a horseshoeing demonstration," said Pat Boyle, the executive director of GYO for more than 25 years. "The cooperation that we receive from NYRA is amazing; everyone that we meet welcomes us and is excited to show the kids what they do."
"Kiaran's Kids" began in 2008 when GYO partnered with NYRA and McLaughlin in a pilot program to "adopt a horse" that students visited and helped care for during the school year. The program blossomed when McLaughlin, a mainstay on the NYRA circuit, suggested that the kids visit on a more regular basis to learn about all of the jobs that take place at the track.
"This wouldn't have been possible without the generosity of Kiaran by sponsoring this program and letting his staff assist us," Boyle stated.
Art Magnuson, McLaughlin's assistant trainer, and office manager Cate Masterson not only show the students the daily barn routine, they also set up visits with other departments both at Belmont and Aqueduct. "Kiaran's Kids" have visited the race stewards, the Horse Identification office, the track announcer and the jockey's room.
"For Kiaran, Cate and me, it's been very rewarding. The kids are always so excited and our doors are always open to them," Magnuson remarked.
Earlier this month, the students visited NYRA racing analysts and handicappers Andy Serling and Jason Blewitt during their show, "Talking Horses," to learn how a live sports show is produced.
"Jason and I look forward to seeing Kiaran's Kids every year," Serling said. "Their eagerness to learn, as evidenced by their many questions and overall exuberance, is infectious."
The group also had the opportunity to tape a video clip that aired on "Aqueduct in 30" on the MSG+ network.
"There is something really special about watching their eyes light up when they're sitting in front of the camera and under the lights," Blewitt noted.
GYO is a community-based organization that has served the Long Island community for more than 30 years through recreational and enrichment activities targeting at-risk adolescents. For more information on Gateway Youth Outreach, please call 516-328-1550.
Arlington meet to feature enhanced state-bred program
Arlington and the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation (ITBOF) have announced a groundbreaking program designed to rebuild Illinois racing from its core -- the breeders and the owners.
"An ITBOF board member has said that this memorandum of understanding represents the biggest benefit accorded the breeders and owners of Illinois than any other action taken by the ITBOF in his memory," said IBTOF President Dan Sullivan. "I concur."
"We need to show as much creativity as we can in order to find ways to reward our loyal Illinois breeders and owners. The first step was the union between the Illinois Breeders and Arlington to increase monies paid to breeders in any future gaming bill. The leadership of the ITBOF has been a pleasure to work with and we appreciate their dedication to Arlington and to Illinois racing," said Arlington General Manager Tony Petrillo. "This is one of several of the next steps that need to be addressed to rebuild racing. It is exciting to think of the possibilities for Illinois racing in the future."
Highlights of the program include:
In addition, Arlington will card a series of Illinois-bred starter allowance races, participate in a stallion season auction and coordinate an advertising program to support the stallion series.
"To me this is the most important thing to happen for breeders in Illinois since the Horse Racing Act of 1975," sais prominent Illinois breeder and owner David Block. "This is the true beginning of some positives that we've never had before. We are looking forward to a real quality Arlington meet."
The joint venture, which will be in effect beginning with the Arlington racing season which runs from May 2 through September 28, is the culmination of meetings between the two organizations.
Public invited to Fair Grounds Hall of Fame induction
Fans of Fair Grounds and natives of New Orleans who have always loved the sport of Thoroughbred racing at the Crescent City oval are invited to attend Fair Grounds' Hall of Fame ceremonies Wednesday evening immediately following the March 12 racing program.
The Black Gold Room of the Derby Building immediately adjacent to the grandstand will be the scene of the gala affair which for a $25 per person ticket will include "heavy" hors d'oeuvres as well as complementary wine.
Those fans that choose to attend the ceremonies will get the chance to rub elbows and swap stories with some Fair Grounds-based horsemen of yesteryear as well as those of the present era.
The 2014 Fair Grounds Hall of Fame inductees include now-retired longtime trainer Larry Robideaux Jr., 80, who saddled his first horse at Fair Grounds in 1960 and campaigned a string here every winter until his retirement in 2012.
The highlight of Robideaux's career came when he saddled My Charmer to win the 1972 Fair Grounds Oaks. My Charmer went on to be famous as the dam of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.
"I'll be joining guys like Hal Bishop and Marion Van Berg," said Robideaux when informed of his upcoming induction. "Those were the guys I looked up to when I first came around."
Also being inducted Wednesday evening will be present-day conditioner Bret Calhoun, 49, born in Dallas, Texas, but now a resident of New Orleans.
Calhoun has been training horses for two decades, and the highlight of his career to date was winning two Breeders' Cup races in 2010 -- the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint with Dubai Majesty as well as the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint with Chamberlain Bridge.
"Obviously, this is going to be a great honor for me," said Calhoun when informed of his pending induction. "When I look at the list of trainers already in there, all I can say is that I'll be joining some really great people and some really great horsemen."
Calhoun finished third in the standings during the 2012-13 Fair Grounds season, behind only co-champions Tom Amoss and Steve Asmussen, both of whom are already in Fair Grounds' Hall of Fame.
The third inductee at Wednesday's Hall of Fame ceremonies is a horse -- Proud Spell, one of five horses over the last decade to have parlayed a win the Fair Grounds Oaks to another in the Kentucky Oaks a little later in the spring. Proud Spell accomplished her "Oaks Double" in 2008.
"We were absolutely ecstatic when they told us," said Proud Spell's trainer Larry Jones when asked about his and his wife Cindy's reaction. "When we called (owner-breeder Brereton Jones) and told him and (wife) Libby they were just tickled pink. They were really excited."
Brereton Jones, who served as Kentucky's 58th Governor from 1991 to 1995, will be on hand at Fair Grounds' Hall of Fame ceremonies to accept on behalf of Proud Spell, as will trainer Larry Jones.
Wednesday's ceremonies will also serve as the induction ceremony for three new members of Fair Grounds' Press Box Hall of Fame -- retired chart caller A.J. Paretti, still-active track photographer Lou Hodges Jr., and videographer Glenn Gremillion, who oversaw Fair Grounds' television department for more than three decades. All three are natives of New Orleans.
They will be joining such Press Box Hall of Fame legends as the Times-Picayune's still-active sports editor Peter Finney, WWL's late sports director "Buddy" Diliberto, and Daily Racing Form's late legendary columnists Joe Hirsch, Teddy Cox and Bill Phillips as well as its revered late chart-caller Don Fair.
Wednesday's ceremonies can be expected to be concluded at approximately 7 p.m. (CDT).
Bayern out of San Felipe
The razor-sharp California Chrome, originally pegged at 3-1, could now take over favoritism in the 1 1/16-mile affair.
Baffert will still be represented in the San Felipe by Midnight Hawk, the winner of the Sham who was most recently third in the Robert B. Lewis. He will renew rivalry with Kristo, the Sham runner-up.
Judy the Beauty heads Las Flores
Judy the Beauty and Heir Kitty will both tote 123 pounds, the rest carry 118.
Munnings Sister has shipped west for trainer Barclay Tagg following a good-looking victory in the February 6 Awesome Feather at Gulfstream Park. The five-year-old mare registered a career-best 101 BRIS Speed rating last time and Luis Saez, who will be at Santa Anita to ride Will Take Charge in Saturday's Santa Anita Handicap, will remain in town an extra day for the assignment.
Warm Breeze invades from Fair Grounds for trainer Grant Forster with a two-race winning streak, including a victory in the February 1 Happy Ticket in her stakes debut. Regular rider Leandro Goncalves will guide the improving four-year-old.
Kinz Funky Monkey, winless since posting a 15-1 upset in the Manhattan Beach last June, rounds out the field.
Mucho Macho Man installed as 9-5 favorite for Big 'Cap
The son of Macho Uno currently sports a 3-1-0 mark from three starts at Santa Anita. He made his debut at the Arcadia, California, venue in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Classic, where he just missed by a half-length to be second behind Fort Larned. Mucho Macho Man was pulled up in his 2013 debut, the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic, then ran third in the June 14 Criminal Type and August 3 Whitney Invitational Handicap in New York before shipping west once again.
Jockey Luis Saez has been aboard Will Take Charge since the Travers, going 3-2-0 from five starts thus far, and the pair will try to continue their stellar run on Saturday as the 2-1 second pick on the morning-line.
The remainder of the Big 'Cap field includes the top three from the February 8 San Antonio in 15-1 upsetter Blingo, 26-1 runner-up Imperative and 19-1 third-placer American Blend, as well as Grade 1-placed multiple stakes winner Rousing Sermon and last year's Grade 2 San Felipe victor Hear the Ghost.
Nine left in San Felipe after scratch of Bayern
Unstoppable Colby invades for D. Wayne Lukas following a maiden win at Oaklawn Park and Schoolofhardrocks will make his first appearance for David Hofmans since capturing his career debut at Del Mar. Home Run Kitten exits a fifth in the Lewis and Recanted will go turf to dirt for Doug O'Neill in his second U.S. start. A pair of maidens, Rprettyboyfloyd and Sawyer's Hill, complete the field.
Competitive Kilroe Mile on tap; 10 entered for San Carlos
Za Approval was just three parts of a length behind Wise Dan in the Mile, and the gray will be making his seasonal bow in this spot for trainer Christophe Clement. Joel Rosario has the return call on Saturday.
Winning Prize only raced three times last year -- taking a Del Mar optional claimer, finishing fourth in the off-the-turf Shadwell Turf Mile and just missing by three parts of a length when third in the Citation after leading throughout that contest. The Neil Drysdale charge returned to score in the Arcadia on February 1, where he defeated the re-opposing Tom's Tribute and Regally Ready, and gets Corey Nakatani in the irons.
Sandwiched between the Grade 2 San Felipe, which begins Saturday's stakes action at Santa Anita, and the San Carlos is the $75,000 China Doll for three-year-old fillies going a mile on the turf. The race features the respective top two from last November's Miesque in Full Ransom and Savings Account, as well as Sweet Life scorer On the Backstreets and Blue Norther victress Sushi Empire.
Itsmyluckyday, Palace Malice return in Gulfstream Park Handicap
Unraced since a sixth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, Palace Malice will pick up the services of John Velazquez.
Other notables include Grade 1 winner Golden Ticket, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile two starts back. Manoel Cruz rides the Kenny McPeek-trained five-year-old. Falling Sky enters on the upswing for George Weaver, posting a sharp 5 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint in early February. Brujo de Olleros finished a close second in the Grade 2 Kelso three starts back and exits a pair of third in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and Gulfstream Park Sprint.
Uncaptured, the 2012 Horse of the Year in Canada, will look to turn his fortunes around following a non-threatening fifth in the Grade 1 Donn. Narvaez, a late-running second at 139-1 odds in the Gulfstream Park Sprint, is also entered, and multiple Gulfstream Park stakes winner Sr. Quisqueyano rounds out the field.
Vinceremos continues bonus bid in Tampa Bay Derby
"What I like about (Vinceremos) is the fact that he gets headed and keeps competing," said Elliott Walden, the President/CEO of co-owner WinStar Farm. "And in some ways I wish he would go ahead and leave his competition, because he looks like he has more abilities than they have to this point. You go back to his maiden race, he was up a length and a half at the eighth pole, and then again when he cut the corner in the Sam F. Davis he looked like he was well on his way to victory and then kind of greenly quit running."
There will be no rematch on Saturday with Harpoon, who ran fifth in last week's Gotham at Aqueduct, but Pletcher will also saddle Surfing U S A, most recently second to the highly rated Top Billing in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Gulfstream.
Trainer Mark Casse will be represented by Conquest Titan, a distant runner-up to Cairo Prince in the January 25 Holy Bull at Gulfstream, and Matador, a solid fourth in the Sam F. Davis in his first start since November. Both colts were stakes winners in Canada last season.
"He got hit over the top of the nose by the whip of the jockey on (fifth-place finisher Asserting Bear), and I think that stopped his momentum," Casse revealed. "He came back to the barn with a swollen nose.
"That was his first start in almost three months and his first time on dirt, and he ran 20-30 feet farther than the winner, according to Trakus, so I think he ran a heck of a race. Hopefully with a better trip and the experience over dirt, he'll improve."
Also exiting the Davis is Cousin Stephen, who weakened to third after setting a contested early pace. The Chad Brown-trained son of Proud Citizen was only beaten three-quarters of a length.
The Tampa Bay Derby field is rounded out by Coltimus Prime, a close second in the $134,000 Display at Woodbine when last seen in December; East Hall, third in the Gulfstream Park Derby and fourth in the Fountain of Youth; Tuscan Getaway, twice stakes-placed in Canada last season; Hy Kodiak Warrior, third behind Commissioner and Top Billing in a Gulfstream allowance on January 3; and Ring Weekend, a last-out maiden winner at Gulfstream for trainer Graham Motion.
Riposte, a Group 2 winner at Royal Ascot last June who finished second in Gulfstream's Suwannee River in her U.S. debut February 8, is the likely favorite in the Grade 3, $150,000 Hillsborough.
Contested at about nine furlongs on the turf, the race has also attracted Group 3 veteran Waterway Run, second by a neck against allowance foes at Gulfstream last time; Cloud Scapes, who took the Endeavour at Tampa Bay by a neck in late January; and the California invader Gulsary, third in the Robert J. Frankel and Megahertz in her last outings.
Earlier in the program, a $40,000 allowance features the Triple Crown nominated Bobby's Kitten and Global View over one mile on the turf.
Bobby's Kitten, a dominating 6 1/4-length winner of the Pilgrim at Belmont Park in October, subsequently finished third as the 6-5 favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf after setting a very fast pace. Global View, a relative late bloomer, earned his Grade 3 laurels in late November when taking the Generous at Hollywood Park by 1 1/4 lengths.
Please Explain, Taris each looking for sweet victory in Honeybee
Taris is just to Please Explain's inside and will attempt to move her record to a perfect three-for-three under regular rider Clinton Potts. The duo stepped out for the first time on December 21 at Aqueduct, taking a six-furlong maiden special weight over the good track by 11 lengths, then returned last out on January 25 to romp by 5 1/2 lengths at Laurel Park in the seven-furlong Wide Country.
Zayat Stables' San Felipe (G2) contender Unstoppable Colby (Pulpit) was named for Unstoppable Colby Sawyer, who at age nine was diagnosed with Leukemia on June 19, 2012, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. He has Pre B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL. The family was told he would go through treatment for three years and is currently nine months in. In November, the family announced on Facebook that he is in remission and continues to fight the biggest battle for his life. To send prayers, well wishes, or support to Colby and his family, visit them on their Facebook page...
Trainer Doug O'Neill will light up the life of a 23-year-old man with Down Syndrome on Santa Anita Handicap Day, as Lawrence Cao has won "A Day With Doug O'Neill," and will accompany the Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner throughout the afternoon. O'Neill is scheduled to saddle four horses in three different races. A longtime fan, Cao has accompanied his father for numerous years to the track to watch early morning workouts and often imitated jockeys and their styles of riding as a teenager. Cao has much more than a vicarious association with horses, as he is a member of Move A Child Higher (MACH 1), a riding horsemanship program based at the Pasadena Equestrian Center that offers equine assisted activities to riders with disabilities. Cao and his parents attended the annual MACH 1 Musical Horse Show last June at Flintridge Riding Club and he won "A Day With Doug O'Neill" via a silent auction certificate. Cao, who has grown intimately involved with the horses he rides on a weekly basis, cools his "mounts" out following his lessons and grooms them as well. Cao, who is also hearing impaired, figures to have a busy day with O'Neill, who among his four starters is Recanted (Empire Maker) in the San Felipe (G2) and Loan Savant (Spring at Last) in the China Doll. For more information on the Pasadena Equestrian Center, located in Pasadena's Hahamonga Watershed Park, call 626-798-1222...
Judy the Beauty (Ghostzapper) makes her first start since finishing second to champion Groupie Doll in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare sprint at Santa Anita last November when she runs in Sunday's Las Flores (G3) for older fillies and mares at six furlongs. She has been working at Gulfstream Park, where she shows two bullet drills among her most recent efforts. Owned and trained by Wesley Ward, Judy the Beauty will be saddled by long-time Ward friend and associate, trainer Blake Heap. "She looks real good," Heap said of the five-year-old mare who has never been out of the money in 13 starts, winning five and finishing second seven times. "We re-shod her here, she's galloping over the track beautifully, she's eating up, she acts good, she schooled in the paddock this morning; everything's great."...
San Vicente (G2) winner Kobe's Back (Flatter), prepping for the March 15 Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park, worked six furlongs over Santa Anita's fast dirt Friday in a bullet 1:11 under jockey Mario Gutierrez. "Very well" is how trainer John Sadler termed the move, while clocker Toby Turrell said Kobe's Back "really stepped it up big. He did it all and more.". Las Virgenes (G1) heroine Fashion Plate (Old Fashioned), ticketed for the April 5 Santa Anita Oaks (G1), went four furlongs for Simon Callaghan in :47 3/5...
The 2014 Coronation Cup (Eng-G1) will be run in commemoration of the most successful horse in the history of the race since first run in 1902, the late St Nicholas Abbey. St Nicholas Abbey won the Coronation Cup an unprecedented three times from 2011 to 2013, ridden twice by Joseph O'Brien and once by Ryan Moore. Trained throughout his racing career by Aidan O'Brien, St Nicholas Abbey sadly passed away earlier this year following a lengthy battle with injury and subsequent complications. To mark the first running of the race since his passing, the Coronation Cup will be run as The Coronation Cup (In commemoration of St Nicholas Abbey) for one year. Andrew Cooper, Head of Racing and Clerk of the Course, Epsom Downs, said: "In completing the unique achievement of winning three consecutive Coronation Cups, St Nicholas Abbey left an indelible impression on all of us at Epsom. We followed his brave fight to recover from serious injury with keen interest and with our fingers crossed. We are grateful to Coolmore for allowing us to honor this magnificent racehorse at this year's Derby Festival."...
Al Shaqab announced Friday that Bradley Weisbord, the COO of Team Valor International, has been appointed racing advisor to Al Shaqab Racing's U.S. racing operations. Weisbord, formerly business manager of Zayat Stables, will transition out of his Team Valor role over the coming weeks. "I am honored to be added to the already great team that Harry Herbert is putting together for Sheikh Joaan Al Thani," Weisbord said. "I understand the Al Shaqab team have exciting plans for their operation in the U.S. and I can't wait to see their colors in the winner's circle of the biggest races America has to offer." Harry Herbert, Sheikh Joaan's Racing Advisor said: "I am delighted that Bradley has joined our team. His record at Team Valor and Zayat Stables speaks for itself and he will undoubtedly play a key role in developing Al Shaqab's racing operation in the U.S." Weisbord will report directly to Harry Herbert on all racing matters regarding Al Shaqab in America...
Sweet Whiskey (Old Fashioned), a 2 3/4-length winner of the Old Hat (G3), will square off against seven rivals in Sunday's $75,000 Any Limit at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Sweet Whiskey has been installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite in the seven-furlong test. The three-year-old filly will break from the rail with Javier Castellano. Pletcher will also send out Fierce Boots (Tiznow), winner of the Busanda two back and fourth most recently in the Busher at Aqueduct. Thank You Marylou (Birdstone), who easily captured the Tippett at Colonial Downs in her career debut, will make her first start since finishing third in the Adirondack. Julien Leparoux rides for Mike Maker. Naive Enough (Street Sense), unraced since a fourth in the Golden Rod (G2), will open her sophomore season for Ignacio Correas IV. Whomping Willow (Mineshaft), a smart 4 1/2-length maiden winner for Dale Romans on February 16, is another runner of interest...
Grade 2 hero Delaunay (Smoke Glacken), who won last season's Duncan F. Kenner Stakes by 4 1/2-lengths on his way to Horse of the Meeting honors at Fair Grounds, looms as the strong choice once again to earn a second straight victory in Saturday's 61st running of the $100,000, six-furlong event that serves as the richest open sprint stakes of the New Orleans winter meeting. In his lone previous appearance this season at Fair Grounds, Delaunay captured the F.W. Gaudin Memorial by 3 1/4 lengths in what was a repeat performance of his victory in that sprint one year ago. Conditioned by Tom Amoss, Delaunay will be ridden once again by Rosie Napravnik. Seemingly capable of providing competition for Delaunay is Heitai (Fusaichi Pegasus), who has been dominating in his last three starts, all of them in races restricted to accredited Louisiana-breds. Most recently, Heitai captured Delta Downs' Louisiana Premier Night Sprint on February 1 by five lengths, but before that he won Fair Grounds' Costa Rising on January 11 by 2 3/4 lengths as well as the Crescent City oval's Louisiana Champions Day Sprint on December 14 by seven lengths. Regular rider Diego Saenz has been named to handle the reins aboard the Karl Broberg-trained Heitai...
Hot Heir Skier (Wildcat Heir) headlines an evenly matched field of seven sophomore sprinters in Saturday's $100,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela at Aqueduct. Trained by Ben Perkins Jr., Hot Heir Skier is exiting back-to-back victories, including a half-length score in the Jimmy Winkfield on January 21 at the Big A. Jose Ortiz rides the chestnut. Long on Value (Value Plus) has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite in the six-furlong event following a fourth in the Hutcheson (G3) at Gulfstream Park for Bill Mott. The New York-bred Loki's Vengeance (Frost Giant) will take on open company for the first time on Saturday following two convincing victories over state-bred foes at Aqueduct. The colt won those races by a combined 10 3/4 lengths, his first two starts since entering trainer Mike Hushion's barn late last fall. "I certainly think he fits (with open company)," Hushion said. "He's sharp; he's good. I don't see any reason why he can't run his race." Manny Franco will again have the mount on Loki's Vengeance, the early 4-1 fourth choice...
The Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA) has announced Delray Beach, Florida, as the host city for the 22nd annual International Simulcast Conference. The 2014 conference will be held at the Delray Beach Marriott, September 29-October 1. The TRA co-sponsors the annual event with the Harness Tracks of America (HTA), in conjunction with the American Greyhound Track Operators Association (AGTOA). Each year the conference attracts more than 250 racing executives and personnel to address the topics of chief importance to the pari-mutuel industry, including simulcasting, account wagering, wagering security and technology. The Delray Beach Marriott is located at the corner of Ocean Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue, overlooking the sandy beaches of Florida's Gold Coast, and is an easy walk to a wide variety of restaurants, bistros, outdoor cafes and nightlife. Delray Beach is an easy drive to either the Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach airports. A special conference room rate of $149 per night will be offered. More information will be available on the TRA website as the conference nears...
Baden Racing in Germany has unveiled its schedule of 2014 races. The course will host 13 live racing days with 107 total races, headed by the Grosser Preis Von Baden (Ger-G1) September 7. The 13 days racing will be spread over three carnivals the Spring Meeting May 28-June 1, the Grobe Woche Meeting August 30 to September 8 and the Sales & Racing Festival October 17-19 and will distribute €2,249,000 in prizemoney. "We are looking forward to a great year of racing and entertainment," Dr. Benedict Forndran, managing shareholder of Baden Racing, said. "Our main races are internationally well established, and by increasing the price money in our basic races we want to contribute to the renaissance of German Thoroughbred racing. A broad variety of national and international media announced already their coverage, which makes us confident in attaining a higher public awareness beyond the borders of the racing community."...
Qipco will be the title partner of the Goffs London Sale which takes place at The Orangery at Kensington Palace on the eve of Royal Ascot, June 16. Also sponsor of the British Champions Series and Champions Day at Ascot, Qipco Holding is one of the leading private investment companies in Qatar and is owned by members of the Royal Family of Qatar including Sheikh Fahad al Thani. Goffs Chief Executive Henry Beeby said: "We are thrilled with the positive reaction from buyers around the world to the Goffs London Sale during recent market visits to Qatar, U.S.A., South Africa and Australia while closer to home it is also creating quite a stir. Goffs London Sale in association with Qipco is firmly in the diary for many international buyers traveling to London for Royal Ascot. I am very pleased to report that the response from vendors has been equally enthusiastic as we have some top class horses confirmed for the sale." David Redvers, racing manager to Sheikh Fahad, commented: "Sheikh Fahad and his brothers are excited by the concept of a London sale and are delighted to support what we all hope will become a strong and vibrant fixture in the sales calendar. It is a brave step by Henry Beeby and team to grasp this concept and take it forward and it deserves to succeed not just because of the location and timing but also because of it offers the industry another platform." Goffs London Sale will feature a select group of two-year-old breezers along with high-class horses in training, some of which will hold an entry at Royal Ascot...
The first 15,000 fans through the turnstiles at Santa Anita on Saturday will receive a free Breeders' Cup Ticket. That's in addition to a blockbuster 11-race card that will include four graded stakes and a $500,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 pool. The complimentary ticket is good for free admission on Breeders' Cup Friday, October 31. This Breeders' Cup comp is an official "Thank You" to those fans who choose to attend early on Saturday. Santa Anita will be hosting the Breeders' Cup World Championships for an unprecedented third consecutive year on October 31-November 1. Breeders' Cup General Admission for the 2013 World Championships was $10 per person. There will be a special early first post time on Saturday of noon (PST), with admission gates opening at 10 a.m...
Bob Hickey, live racing manager for Thistledown, retired Thursday after 45 years with the track. Bob started working at Thistledown in 1969, when he would come by after school to work as a mutuel clerk. He has held many positions over the years, the latest being live racing manager.
For Saturday or Next Raceday
MARCH 8, 2014
A racing weekend of stars
by Ed DeRosa
If you're the type who thinks that racing needs its stars to keep racing to increase interest, then this is the Saturday for you!
The one-two finishers and beaten favorite in America's richest race all make the second start of their seasons on Saturday at Santa Anita Park in the Santa Anita Handicap, and last year's Preakness runner-up Itsmyluckyday and Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice make their four-year-old debuts in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.
Mucho Macho Man won the Breeders' Cup Classic over Will Take Charge, but the latter went on to defeat the aforementioned Classic favorite Game On Dude in the Clark Handicap, a win that gave Will Take Charge champion three-year-old male honors -- a distinction for which Palace Malice was a finalist. And though Game On Dude is on a three-race losing streak, he is a back-to-back Big Cap winner and Southern California's most famous horse since Horse of the Year Zenyatta and dual classic winner I'll Have Another.
The exciting part about all this isn't necessarily that these horses are racing this weekend, or even against each other this once -- it's that they're all around to earn a championship, and that will mean facing each other again down the line.
Throw in the Kilroe Mile, which features horses more used to seeing the backside of two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, and there is plenty to look forward to both in the short-term of great racing on Saturday and long-term on what could happen the rest of the year.
For a complete list of handicapping products for Big Cap day, including PPs, data files, analysis, and workout reports, visit Brisnet.com.
These dream races never happen (e.g. Rachel Alexandra versus Zenyetta), but the thought of a Woodward Stakes with Itsmyluckyday, Mucho Macho Man, Palace Malice, Will Take Charge and Wise Dan, plus whoever else shows up (Alpha, probably), is the type of race we've all waited a long time for.
And all this discussion doesn't even address racing's glamour division, the current three-year-old males who are blazing the Triple Crown trail in a pair of 85-point races on the TwinSpires.com Kentucky Derby Championship Series: the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs and the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita.
Both are part of the TwinSpires.com Road to the Kentucky Derby SHOWdown with 255 players still alive to the $1-million with 14 races to go, including these two. After starting with the first four, I've missed the next two (Rise Up in the Risen Star and Harpoon in the Gotham), and if I were playing would be one of 422 players tied in 671st behind the 415 players with five and the aforementioned group live to the $1-million.
My picks for this week are Hy Kodiak Warrior in the Tampa Bay Derby and California Chrome in the San Felipe. The former race features a bunch of horses all capable of Brisnet.com Speed Ratings in the low 90s, and I refuse to take a short price on equal talent. Hy Kodiak Warrior is a "P" type in terms of running style, and he'll have plenty of targets here while his bullet workouts at Calder Race Course tell me he'll be tractable and put in a good position.
The San Felipe trio of California Chrome, Kristo, and Midnight Hawk easily cover the most likely winners of this race, and I'm hoping California Chrome is third choice against the Sham Stakes exacta, as he's comfortably my top pick and would be value for me at 3-1 or better.
I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the big-time action actually starts Friday night with the simulcast of three Group 1 races from Australia including the Australian Cup, featuring last year's Melbourne Cup winner Fiorentine in a rematch with top three-year-old Shamus Award, plus the Newmarket and Norton Stakes as well.
For analysis of all three races plus information on TwinSpires.com Lucky 7s $21,000 promotion throughout the Autumn Carnival Down Under, click here.
MARCH 7, 2014
Starting Friday, Lucky 7s adds up to $21,000 on Australian racing
by Ed DeRosa
If you're playing the $21,000 Lucky 7s promotion over the next seven Friday nights at TwinSpires.com then the phrase that pays is Return on Investment (ROI) because that is how all the scoring is done.
Picking winners on Australian races is always a fun challenge because of the full field and competitive races, but when it comes to ROI contests it's not how often you're right but how right you are since one big pay day could be worth more than a few favorites.
To qualify for the TwinSpires.com Lucky 7s contest, you must bet $21 on each Group 1 race. For this week that means Newmarket Handicap at 11:20 p.m. ET from Flemington, the Norton Stakes at 11:30 from Warwick Farm and the Darley Australian Cup at midnight from Flemington.
There are three tiers of prizes: The best ROI, any ROI above 210 percent and any ROI above 70 percent (but lower than 210 percent). That means the target gross is $107.10 to cash something, meaning one 15-to-1 winner would do it, but we'll look at some exacta plays as well to try to go for bigger prizes!
In the Newmarket, the Group 1 winners among the 15 entries going six furlongs are Moment of Change, Lankan Rupee, Samaready, and Shamexpress, and only the latter two accomplished the feat at this distance with Shamexpress defeating Moment of Change in this race last year and Samaready a two-time winner under these conditions. I prefer both of them to Moment of Change, who seems to prefer longer and Lankan Rupee who might be tested the longer he goes.
Both Samaready and Shamexpress both shed weight from previous top efforts, and angle that could also benefit longshot Pago Rock, who has no races with an impost less than 126 pounds on his PPs but totes 117 here, and his local preps for this off a summer (Southern Hemisphere seasons, yo!) layoff could get in the mix with any improvement.
Lucky 7s strategy: $7 to win on Samaready, Shamexpress, and Pago Rock
Pari-mutuel wagering strategy: Pago Rock across the board at 10-to-1 or better and an exacta key box with the Group 1 winners.
The Norton Stakes is the middle leg of the Group 1 treble and features the most likely shortest price and shortest field of the trio with It's a Dundeel taking on eight others going one mile in a race he won last year.
The question on whether you want to take a short price on this one is if you think his comeback race -- basically a six-furlong trial -- off a four-month layoff was enough to get him back to top form, which probably does win this, but Boban has been racing steadily all season and gets back to the mile distance that earned him his Group 1 last year at Flemington.
Lucky 7s strategy: $7 exacta It's a Dundeel with Boban twice ($14 total, but you must place the bet two times for $7 to count) and $7 to win on Boban.
Pari-mutuel strategy: Bet It's a Dundeel to win at 2-to-1 or better. Bet Boban across the board at 3-to-1 or better. Use both and no one else in multi-race wagers.
The Darley Australian Cup is the showpiece event of the evening at 1 1/4 miles, and while 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente is a clear favorite, a pair of three-year-olds will take action against their elders: Shamus Award and Thunder Fantasy.
Whether a Melbourne Cup winner gets bet in the States as much as a returning Breeders' Cup Classic winner would remains to be seen, but I do think we've seen enough from Shamus Award -- already a Group 1 winner at 1 1/4 miles -- to view him as a threat at more generous odds, and he defeated Fiorente last year when in receipt of 21 pounds in the aforementioned Group 1 score. He gets 10 pounds this time.
Thunder Fantasy has a few more questions, but you do get a few more dollars. He couldn't catch gate-to-wire winner Shamus Award last time, but the front-end waters could get deep here going longer with Mourayan and Star Rolling both possible threats early.
Lucky 7s strategy: $7 to win on Shamus Award and $7 exactas Shamus Award over Fiorente and Thunder Fantasy.
Pari-mutuel strategy: Shamus Award to win at 3-to-1, Thunder Fantasy to win at 5-to-1 and them in an exacta over Fiorente.
MARCH 7, 2014
by Dick Powell
I always look forward to the Santa Anita Handicap but this year's renewal has me on the edge of my seat with my finger poised on the keyboard to send it in on Game On Dude (Awesome Again).
The race has come up especially strong this year with Breeders' Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno) back to face Will Take Charge (Unbridled's Song) who he narrowly beat here in the 2013 Classic.
Mucho Macho Man made his seasonal debut with a 14-length win in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park and Will Take Charge was a terrific second in the Donn Handicap (G1) behind a track record setter.
So both are coming into this year's Big 'Cap in solid form. The connections of both have resisted the allure of the $10 million Dubai World Cup later in the month and will stay home to race on Santa Anita's dirt racing surface.
But, even though he hasn't won since the Pacific Classic (G1) and has lost his last three starts, I think the race sets up perfectly for Game On Dude. He won last year's renewal by almost eight lengths and comes in here with a major pace advantage over his two main rivals.
The crazy thing with Game On Dude is that he has been nowhere in the past two runnings of the Breeders' Cup Classic on his home track but everyone seems to forget that in the 2011 Classic at Churchill Downs, he was absolutely brilliant when he stayed on to the final yards while racing on the worst part of the track.
After his Classic debacle here last year, he came back and just missed beating Will Take Charge in the Clark Handicap (G1) going nine furlongs at Churchill Downs, finishing a head second. Granted, his first start of this year was eventful, when he was off the board in the San Antonio (G2) going nine furlongs, but now he shows up at 10 furlongs where he has won five times including three Grade 1 stakes last year.
Even though he has shown a willingness to rate early, he has more than enough gas for Mike Smith to use early and dominate. He came out of the San Antonio in good form and has been drilled by Bob Baffert like the old days. Maybe Baffert didn't want to tighten the screws too much for his first start of the year but it looks like he's not taking any chances for this year's Big 'Cap. A brilliant seven-furlong workout in 1:25 4/5 on February 26 indicates all systems are go.
Not sure we will get a price on Game on Dude even though he should be third choice in the wagering. The top three should soak up most of the betting dollars so 5-to-2 should be a fair price in the win pool. Where do I sign up?
Earlier on the Santa Anita card on Saturday, Baffert will send out Kaleem Shah's Bayern (Offlee Wild) in the San Felipe (G2) going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. It will be his stakes debut but he has electrified the racing world with a sensational career debut when he won by three lengths going seven furlongs in complete command then came back and beat the highly-regarded Tap It Rich (Tapit) by 15 lengths going a two-turn mile against allowance foes.
Even though he went gate to wire last out, he relaxed early and finished like a turf horse in a slow-paced race. His BRIS Pace figures were 81, 89 and 107 so he had a ton of late energy. The challenge for him and Gary Stevens is to relax again, but this time behind horses. Against nine rivals with lots of early speed, going gate to wire might win him the San Felipe but not learn how to stretch his speed out.
I look for Stevens to ride him like he was on Beholder (Henny Hughes) and get him to relax early and let others go to the lead. From post 6, he doesn't have to worry about him getting engaged in a speed duel or shuffled too far back so the opportunity to school him in the right circumstances will be present.
Baffert also has the talented Midnight Hawk (Midnight Lute) entered and if Bayern gets the betting money based on the hype, then this guy becomes the "Other Baffert.: After breaking his maiden at Hollywood Park, he came back to win the Sham Stakes (G3) going two turns as the 2-to-5 favorite.
Last out in the Bob Lewis Stakes (G2), Midnight Hawk grinded along to loom boldly in the deep stretch before weakening to third. He draws post nine and Mike Smith will have to use some early energy to keep him from getting hung out wide on the first turn.
When you look at horses being products of their trainers, Kristo (Distorted Humor) could be sitting on a big race. Not known for pushing his young horses early, John Sadler gave this colt two, sprint efforts before stretching him out to two turns here and he went gate to wire to win by over six lengths.
He held on for second in his stakes debut behind Midnight Hawk in the Sham and now he comes back off 56 days rest for Sadler who is able to pick up Joel Rosario for the race. By the great Distorted Humor, Kristo is out of a minor stakes winner that is a half-sister to champion sprinter Smoke Glacken and multiple graded stakes winner Smokey Glacken.
*all times Eastern
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