Knee chip sidelines Barbados
Tomlinson had been considering the $200,000 Swale S. (G2) going seven furlongs on February 28 at Gulfstream for Barbados, who was purchased for $340,000 out of WinStar Farm's dispersal at Keeneland November last fall. He is 3-1-0 from five lifetime starts with $205,720 in purse earnings.
"Hopefully, in the fall we'll be sporting around to some of those good races," Tomlinson said.
American Pharoah, Texas Red share 126-pound highweight in Experimental Free H.
Champion two-year-old male American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Texas Red (Afleet Alex) shared the highweight of 126 pounds on The Jockey Club's 2014 Experimental Free Handicap, released Thursday by The Jockey Club.
The 126 pounds assigned to American Pharoah and Texas Red is the standard impost for top Experimental colts and equivalent to the assignment on last year's high weight, New Year's Day.
The filly division also had co-high weights with Take Charge Brandi (Giant's Causeway), champion two-year-old filly and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) victress, and undefeated Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) heroine Lady Eli (Divine Park) each receiving 123 pounds, one pound higher than the second-weighted males, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) scorer Hootenanny (Quality Road) and Grade 1 conqueror Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway).
The Jockey Club Experimental Free Handicap, published annually since 1935, is a weight-based assessment of the previous year's leading two-year-olds, with the weights compiled for a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 miles.
This year's list of eligible horses was expanded to review all juveniles of 2014 who started in graded or listed stakes races run in the continental United States instead of only the top-four finishers. Out of the eligible 196 males and 174 fillies, a total of 100 males and 88 fillies were assigned weights.
All Experimental Free Handicap weight assignments are available within the Resources section of www.jockeyclub.com.
Kentucky is the foaling state of the top four weighted horses and the leading state of all weighted horses with 71 males and 59 fillies. Florida ranks second with nine males and five fillies. Ireland led foaling countries outside of the United States with seven fillies and one male.
Kitten's Joy is the leading sire of weighted horses with two fillies and four males. Tied for second with five total are Curlin, Sky Mesa and War Front.
The weighting committee of racing secretaries included four this year with P.J. Campo of the Stronach Group; Ben Huffman of Churchill Downs and Keeneland; Martin Panza of The New York Racing Association Inc.; and Thomas S. Robbins of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
Jerkens reflects on inaugural running of Gulfstream stakes named in his honor
Gulfstream Park on Saturday will host the inaugural running of the $75,000 H. Allen Jerkens, a two-mile turf stakes honoring the Hall of Fame horseman who now calls South Florida his year-round home.
Though he has scaled back in numbers, the 85-year-old Jerkens still has a dozen horses stabled at Gulfstream, where he first arrived to rub horses in 1947. He ran second with All the Way and third with Bold Summit on January 15, and third with Easement on December 10.
"They said they named a race after me," Jerkens said. "Naturally, it makes you feel pretty good. The first stakes race that I ever won in my whole life was two miles and a sixteenth, so maybe that's why they did that."
The son of an Austrian cavalryman, Jerkens won the Display H. on the final day of the 1955 racing season at old Jamaica Racetrack in New York with a son of 1937 Triple Crown champion War Admiral he claimed for $8,000 named War Command.
"Naturally, you look back at things over the years," Jerkens said. "Things were different years ago, but really not that much. You have to have a good horse to win, just like you always used to. It's somewhat the same, even though we think it's not."
Jerkens was the youngest trainer elected to the Hall of Fame at age 45 in 1975, two years after earning the Eclipse Award as top trainer. His career has been one of the most remarkable in racing, having developed more than 160 stakes winners after saddling his first winner at Aqueduct in 1950.
Known as "The Chief" for his experience and horsemanship, and nicknamed "Giant Killer" after upsetting the likes of Secretariat, Kelso and Buckpasser over several decades, Jerkens has saddled more than 3,850 winners.
At Gulfstream, Jerkens' winners include Sensitive Prince (1979) and Devil His Due (1993) in the Gulfstream Park H. (G1) as well as Miss Shop in the 2007 Rampart H. (G2), just to name a few.
"You figure you're lucky to be able to still come out here at my age and be able to be around the horses which I've had all my life, ever since I was a little boy," Jerkens said. "I'm very lucky. Most people aren't that lucky."
Among the horses in Saturday's inaugural running of the stakes are a pair from trainer Graham Motion, who is employing a strategy that would make Jerkens proud.
Taking a page from Jerkens' book -- who is well-known for unconventional training methods that were more common years ago, including racing horses on short rest -- Motion entered Buck Benny (Dynaformer) and Tattenham (Rock Hard Ten), giving both horses their second start in less than a month at the Championship Meet which opened December 6.
"They're doing fine. They both need the distance," Motion said. "Buck Benny ran the other day, but it just wasn't far enough for him, so I was thinking it would set him up for this stake. Tattenham, it's the same thing. It's the distance."
Buck Benny competed only three times in 2014, all between late August and mid-October, and returned January 17 to be seventh after a bumpy start against optional claiming rivals while going 1 1/16 miles. Tattenham also experienced traffic trouble in his most recent effort on January 9. Bumped and forced to steady in midstretch, the five-year-old gelding wound up sixth by 3 3/4 lengths in a 1 1/16-mile claiming event.
"I think this is what they both need, quite frankly, more so with Buck Benny than Tattenham, perhaps," Motion said. "The race that they ran in won't look that good on paper, but I thought they were both good efforts, actually."
Unitarian (Pulpit) steps into the Jerkens after five straight tries in graded stakes, including victory in the Elkhorn S. (G2) at Keeneland last April and recent back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the Red Smith (G3) and W.L. McKnight (G3) handicaps.
"I thought he ran a good, even race. He never stopped trying, which gives you confidence that another half-mile won't hurt him," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He's a proven horse at a mile and three-eighths, a mile and a half, and he's a big galloper so I actually think two miles might be kind of what he's looking for.
"It's more about the horse wanting to go that far, really, than anything," Pletcher added. "You don't do too much differently. He's got a good foundation of some mile and a half, mile and three-eighths races. You're not looking to do anything real fancy. I think he's the kind of horse that wants to run that far."
Taking a two-race win streak into the Jerkens is the Tino Attard-trained Turkish (Istan). The six-year-old gelding was last seen adding the Valedictory S. (Can-G3), at 1 3/4 miles on Woodbine's Polytrack, to his resume on December 7..
"This horse will go two, two and a half miles, and he never gets tired," Attard said. "I jog him all the way around and he goes nice and easy. But, he's a smart horse. He knows when he's supposed to make the run. If there are two or three horses behind him the last half a mile, he likes to go by himself and then he goes. And, God bless him, he's sound like a dollar."
Take Charge Brandi returns in Martha Washington
Perfect Fit (Majesticperfection) ran second in the Trapeze S. at Remington Park in her black-type bow on December 14 under Clifton Berry, who retains the mount on Saturday. The Bret Calhoun pupil was eighth in her debut prior to breaking her maiden by 4 3/4 lengths and taking an optional claimer by two lengths, all at Remington.
Sarah Sis (Sharp Humor) is one of three in the field with a 2015 start already under her girth. The dark bay lass was a neck runner-up in the January 15 Dixie Belle S. in her first start since taking an allowance at Keeneland in October by 4 1/4 lengths. Conditioned by Ingrid Mason, Sharp Sis romped by 11 lengths at Arlington last August in her career debut before finishing second in the Arlington-Washington Lassie S. about three weeks later. Julio Felix has the call in the Martha Washington.
Indian Annie (Indian Charlie) and Sweet Corinna (Corinthian) both showed up in an Oaklawn optional claimer on January 17, running one-two. The Steve Asmussen-trained Indian Annie, whose dam is a half-sister to champion Uncle Mo, finished 4 3/4 lengths in front of her rival and keeps Ricado Santana Jr. in the saddle. Sweet Corinna, from Mark Casse's shedrow, will be ridden by Channing Hill for the second straight time.
Allowance heroine High Dollar Woman (Super Saver) and maiden winner Cape Town Stevie (Stephen Got Even) complete the Martha Washington field.
Well-matched fields line up in Las Virgenes, Santa Anita stakes
Achiever's Legacy entered that contest off a 1 1/4-length win at Del Mar in the Desi Arnaz S., which had Maybellene in second and fellow Las Virgenes starter and Hollendorfer trainee Light the City (Street Sense) another neck back in third. Majestic Presence faced Take Charge Brandi in her past three outings, finishing ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), third in the Delta Downs Princess (G3) and then fourth in the Starlet. The chestnut lass was also fourth in the Chandelier S. (G1) last season.
Also in with a chance Saturday is Callback (Street Sense), runner-up in the Santa Ynez S. (G2) on January 3 for Baffert.
Trainer Mark Casses has maiden winners Mio Me (Eskendereya) and Miss Mandate (Pioneerof the Nile) entered, while John Sadler sends out Suva Harbor (Rockport Harbor). Hollendorfer's remaining two entries -- Glory (Tapit) and Lutine Belle (Bellamy Road) -- complete the Las Virgenes field.
Home Run Kitten (Kitten's Joy) is looking to add a second graded score to his resume in this contest. The David Hofmans-conditioned four-year-old captured the Eddie D. S. (G3) in late September and was last seen rallying for a neck second in the Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) over course and distance. Play Hard to Get (Purim) is stretching out in this spot after finishing fourth in the about 6 1/2-furlong Daytona S. (G3) on the downhill turf in his stakes bow, and Grade 3 winner Avanzare (Grand Reward) has some experience on Santa Anita's green as well thanks to a third-placing in the City of Hope Mile (G2) last fall.
The Arcadia is finished out by multiple Grade 3 veteran Za Approval (Ghostzapper), Brazilian Group 1 winner Baccelo (Northern Afleet), Grade 3 victor Edge of Reality (Lawyer Ron), Grade 1-placed Talco (Pivotal) and El Nino Terrible (Malibu Moon).
Catalina Red faces class check in Sam F. Davis
Ocean Knight (Curlin), a 4 1/4-length debut winner at Aqueduct December 13 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, merits respect in his stakes debut. Irad Ortiz Jr. will be in for the mount. Todd Pletcher will be represented by recent maiden scorer Royal Son (Tiznow), who was elevated to first via disqualification at Gulfstream on January 8. John Velazquez rides.
Other runners include stakes runner-up Brother Bobo (Kantharos); Bears Personality (Awesome Again), who returns to action for conditioner Reade Baker after concluding 2014 with a pair of easy wins at Woodbine; My Johnny Be Good (Colonel John), 14-length runaway winner over allowance/optional claiming opponents at Tampa on December 28; and smart Tampa maiden winner Bandages (Any Given Saturday).
Eleven sophomore fillies were entered for the $100,000 Suncoast at a mile and 40 yards. Juvenile stakes winner A.P.'s Glory will attempt to bounce back from a fourth-place showing as the favorite in the December 27 Gasparilla at Tampa. Chris Emigh takes over the reins for Jimmy DiVito.
Irish Jasper (First Defence) and Huasca (Tiz Wonderful), the top two respective finishers from the Gasparilla, both return in the Suncoast. The overflow field of 11 includes one also-eligible.
The $150,000 Endeavour (G3), a 1 1/16-mile turf affair for fillies and mares, will also be offered. Testa Rossi (Dr Fong), a smashing 3 1/2-length winner of the Florida Oaks (G3) over the course in her 2014 debut, will return to Tampa for trainer Chad Brown. She makes her first appearance since a disappointing seventh as the favorite in the Mrs. Revere (G2) last November.
The 14-horse field also contains Hard Not to Like (Hard Spun), who will make her first appearance since upsetting the Jenny Wiley (G1) at Keeneland last April. The six-year-old mare sold for $1.5 million at the Keeneland November sale and makes her first start for Christophe Clement. Multiple Grade 3 heroine I'm Already Sexy (Ready's Image) can't be dismissed from consideration and Grade 1 queen Rosalind (Broken Vow) will be seeking a turnaround in form after concluding last season with four consecutive unplaced finishes.
De Kock has triple threat for fourth straight Al Rashidiya win
Mike de Kock is seeking a fourth consecutive victory in the 1800-meter Al Rashidiya S., one of two Group 2 turf features at Meydan Racecourse's fourth meeting of the 2015 Dubai World Cup Carnival on Thursday evening, and is set to saddle three of the seven runners this year.
These include Mujaarib (Nadeem), something of a surprise winner in the race a year ago for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The owner's retained jockey, Paul Hanagan, takes the ride this time with Christophe Soumillon having performed the steering last year.
This year Soumillon rides Vercingetorix (Silvano), winner of last year's Jebel Hatta (UAE-G1) on Super Saturday before finishing an excellent second in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-G1) on Dubai World Cup night. That was the bay's first career defeat in his seventh outing before he was subsequently third in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (HK-G1) in Hong Kong.
That was back in April and Vercingetorix has been off since, while Mujaarib has not run since Super Saturday in early March 2014.
"We have said many times Vercingetorix is a lazy work horse and nothing has changed," de Kock stated. "He has a touch of class and hopefully we will see that again on Thursday. You cannot get excited with his work but it was the same last year and he won well first time.
"The same applies to Mujaarib who showed little in the mornings last year before surprising us in this race. Hopefully he will go well as he certainly seems to run his best when fresh.
De Kock's third runner, Sanshaawes (Ashaawes), the mount of Dane O'Neill, was second in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (UAE-G1) last year and has the benefit of a run already this season, finishing fourth in the Singspiel S. over course and distance on January 8.
"Obviously Sanshaawes is likely to have a fitness edge," de Kock noted. "He ran well on the first night and has been in good form since. He had a good Carnival last year and hopefully he can win a race this time.
"It is nice to have three genuine chances in such a big race."
As well as winning the last three renewals, the South African has also won it on a further three occasions whereas Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor is seeking a fifth win in the race.
He relies on True Story (Manduro), the mount of James Doyle who was a winner of the Singspiel S. three weeks ago.
"He won well and we were very pleased with him," bin Suroor said. "He is a horse we have always really liked and he has been working well since. Obviously it is a step up in class but we expect a big run from him."
The 1600-meter Cape Verdi S. (UAE-G2), restricted to fillies and mares, has attracted a field of eight with all but two trained in Europe. It looks wide open with dual listed winner Zurigha (Cape Cross), a first UAE runner for Richard Hannon Jr. when well beaten last week, looking to hold a major chance under Richard Hughes.
Wee Jean (Captain Gerrard), trained by Mick Channon and to be ridden by Hanagan, looks a big danger. The same goes for Group 3 runner-up Anahita (Turtle Bowl), the mount of Mickael Barzalona conditioned by Salem bin Ghadayer, who celebrated his first winner as a trainer last Thursday.
The Great War debuts for Ward in 96Rock
The Great War turned the corner with a 3 1/2-length coup in the September 28 Blenheim S. back at the Curragh, earning a crack at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. In his first attempt on dirt, and beyond 6 1/2 furlongs, he chased the wickedly fast pace and held on determinedly for fourth.
Considering how well Juvenile third Upstart (Flatter) performed in last Saturday's Holy Bull (G2), and that Juvenile fifth went on to miss narrowly in both the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) and Los Alamitos Futurity (G1), The Great War is entitled to run up to his reputation here. He has been training forwardly over the Turfway Polytrack, and has drawn in the middle of the field in post 6. Albin Jimenez has the call.
Trainer Mike Maker is double-handed with Gulfstream Park shippers Serious Talk (Forestry) and Two Step Temper (Two Step Salsa). Unbeaten Serious Talk debuts for the barn off a $35,000 claim, while Two Step Temper seeks better luck after a pair of tough trips on turf.
Candy Charger (Candy Ride), 10th behind Dortmund (Big Brown) in a Churchill Downs allowance two back, exits a front-running allowance score at Turfway. Milwaukee Mist (Milwaukee Brew) bested the well-bred Musical Score (Unbridled's Song) in a local maiden January 3, while Worth the Gamble (Van Nistelrooy) just rolled to a 2 1/4-length decision here January 16. Worth the Gamble was previously second to Runhappy (Super Saver) in his eventful maiden romp.
Also worth a look is Draw Nigh (Elite Squadron), who has won or placed in his three career tries on Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs. A three-length maiden winner there in June, he was third in the September 25 Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile S. The Jim Rankin runner has not raced since capturing a second-level allowance at Mountaineer November 22.
Reigning South African Horse of the Year Legislate (Dynasty) was officially declared Thursday by trainer Justin Snaith from the J & B Met S. (SAf-G1), which is scheduled for Saturday at Kenilworth. Last year's July S. (SAf-G1) winner returned to action with a smashing victory in the Green Point S. (SAf-G2) in November, but trailed in last behind Futura (Dynasty) in the Queen's Plate (SAf-G1) on January 10. He was subsequently found to be suffering from an infection, and while that ailment is now in the past, Snaith said the colt "is unlikely to produce his best," and was removed from consideration...
Four-time Group 1 winner and New Zealand champion Silent Achiever (O'Reilly) is continuing her preparation ahead of an international Autumn campaign that could see her take on Europe's finest in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1). The seven-year-old mare pleased connections in a racecourse gallop at Ellerslie on January 25. "She's very well and that work was as good as she has put in at this stage in a preparation," trainer Roger James told racenet.com.au. Silent Achiever beat the boys in the New Zealand Derby (NZ-G1) back in 2012, and completed a hat-trick of Group 1 wins within a month last season, including the BMW S. (Aus-G1), where she left the likes of fellow New Zealand champion and multiple Group 1 scorer It's A Dundeel (High Chaparral) as well as Melbourne Cup (Aus-G1) hero Fiorente (Monsun) in her wake. James confirmed that the mare's 2015 season will likely include a start during in The Championships at Royal Radwick meet on April 4 and 11, although her ultimate goal remained the Arc...
Belle Gallantey (After Market), triumphant in last year's Beldame Invitational (G1) and Delaware H. (G1), makes her second start of the year when lining up against four rivals in Saturday's $100,000 Ladies H. going 1 1/8 miles over Aqueduct's inner dirt. The Rudy Rodriguez-trained six-year-old closed out 2014 with a ninth-placing in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) and faded to fifth in the Affectionately S. on New Year's Day over the inner track. The chestnut is 2-3-0 from 10 starts on the surface and brings Manuel Franco along for the ride Saturday. Penwith just missed in the Affectionately by a nose and boasts a pair of Grade 2-placings on her resume. The Kiaran McLaughlin pupil keeps Fernando Jara aboard. Completing the Ladies H. field are dual Grade 3-placed Moment in Dixie (Dixieland Band), second in the Wintergreen S. on January 3 at Turfway Park; Grade 3 runner-up Shayjolie (Indian Charlie), fourth in the Affectionately; and stakes debuter Holiday's Jewel (Harlan's Holiday)...
Laurel hosts a pair of $100,000 stakes events for three-year-olds on Thursday, which were postponed after racing was canceled January 24 due to track conditions. The seven-furlong Frank Whiteley Jr. S. features nine colts and geldings while the six-furlong Marshua S. boasts eight fillies. In the Whiteley, Majestic Affair (Majesticperfection) is the likely favorite after a dominating 5 3/4-length score in the $98,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela S. at Aqueduct on January 2. Golden Years (Not for Love) will attempt to add another stakes win to his resume after taking the Maryland Million Nursery and Marylander S. last season. The Whiteley also features the return of Governmentshutdown (Exchange Rate) following a seven-month layoff. The gray gelding notably defeated eventual Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Hootenanny (Quality Road) in the Rollicking S. at Pimlico last May. Lake Sebago (Munnings), who captured the Smart Halo S. and Gin Talking S. during her juvenile campaign, headlines the Marshua. Eloquent Tribute (Tapit) invades from Aqueduct after posting a 5 3/4-length maiden win for trainer Rudy Rodriguez...
Leading Sydney-based jockey James McDonald's relations with father-and-sons training team Hawkes Racing have cooled off following the jockey's decision to remain freelance and lack of communication around it. In an interview to RSN Radio, McDonald confirmed, "I am keen to go freelance but I would definitely love to continue riding for the Hawkes stable. I want to look at as many opportunities throughout the autumn carnival as I can, this includes riding for the Japanese during The Championships." McDonald has also been riding increasingly for Godolphin since John O'Shea took over the reins, and on several occasions gave preference to Godolphin. This was never as blatant as during a trial session at Warwick Farm on Tuesday, when McDonald chose to partner Godolphin's Memorial (Street Cry) ahead of Hawkes Racing's Mossfun (Mossman), with whom he won last year's Golden Slipper (Aus-G1). Speaking on RSN Radio's Racing Ahead program, John Hawkes expressed disappointment at to the unfolding of events. "He didn't want to ride ours anymore, he just wanted to ride Godolphin's. It was his call that he wanted to move on and that was fine," Hawkes said. "He got his manager to ring, I haven't spoken to him personally, he didn't want to ring us and that's his prerogative." However, McDonald admitted, "In hindsight, I probably should have called and likely will. I am keen to continue riding for them."
JANUARY 30, 2015
by Dick Powell
For those of us that watch and wager on the Aqueduct inner dirt track, it is reminiscent of the old joke about the two old ladies that go to the Catskills for the weekend. They get back and compare notes about their experience and one complains about how bad the food was and the other says, "Yeah, and such small portions."
Right now, Aqueduct has bad racing and not enough of it. Three- and four-horse fields have been shockingly prevalent and little hope is in sight.
As bad as it has been, Gulfstream Park on Saturday got to see what Aqueduct fans have been privileged to watch on a daily basis when Jose and Irad Ortiz Jr. took down the two biggest stakes races on the card.
Saturday's headline race was the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) and the betting public settled on Frosted (Tapit) as the 3-to-2 favorite with Irad in the irons. Next in the betting was the New York-bred Upstart (Flatter), who was right behind at 21-to-10 with Jose. Going into the race, the Holy Bull looked more wide open but the public had it right.
Jose made the decision to stalk the pace and decided he would rather lose ground than get stuck in traffic. With a modest pace of :24.52 and :48.82, it turned out to be the right choice as he was able to keep an eye on pacesetter Bluegrass Singer (Bluegrass Cat).
The pace was still modest and Jose was not going to let anyone get the jump on him so he made his move around the far turn and engaged Bluegrass Singer. With the slow pace, it looked like there might be a decent duel to the wire but Upstart was tons the best and drew off to win by 5 1/2 lengths. Irad had Frosted in behind after being bumped at the start and was able to finish a decisive second and completed the Ortiz brothers sweep of the Holy Bull.
Upstart took 1:43.61 to cover the 1 1/16 miles and earned a career-best BRIS Speed rating of 105. Considering that he ran 34 feet farther than the runner-up, it was as a good a performance that we have seen from this class of sophomores and the timing of the race now gives trainer Rick Violette lots of options on how to proceed forward.
Frosted should come out of it much-improved and will get better with more racing and distance. He was bumped hard at the start and was not able to race close to the pace. Can't say that anyone else in the field will have a major impact in the division.
One race after the Holy Bull, the seven-furlong Forward Gal (G2) was run and this race really should have been called back as it was a very rough, and unfair, start. Longshot Momoeamaria (Quality Road) was completely unprepared for the start as she was leaning on the gate with her head cocked sideways when the latch was sprung. The official chart of the race shows five other fillies were bumped at the start in separate incidents.
After a strong pace duel among Enchantress (Malibu Moon), Ekati's Phaeton (Tale of Ekati) and Seduire (Elusive Quality), Birdatthewire (Summer Bird) began to pick up horses from the back of the pack. When By the Moon (Indian Charlie) forged to a brief lead for Jose at the top of the stretch when the speed backed up, here came his brother Irad down the middle of the track to win going away by 3 1/4 lengths.
Trained by Dale Romans, Birdatthewire only had a maiden win at Churchill Downs to her credit beforehand and was dismissed at 12.40-to-1 odds. She stopped the teletimer in a slowish 1:24.92 and only earned a 94 BRIS Speed rating. Considering her stout pedigree and that the Forward Gal was a turnback in distance, it was not a bad effort and she should be much better back at two turns
Sunday's eighth race at Gulfstream Park was an interesting handicapping scenario. A maiden special weight for three-year-olds going seven furlongs, it attracted a field of 13, 10 of which were first-time starters.
The 10 first-time starters all came from the usual connections you see down at Gulfstream in January but it was hard to separate one from the other. The public settled on Fast Moon (Malibu Moon) from Todd Pletcher and Johnny Velazquez as the 9-to-5 favorite and there were six starters at single-digit odds.
A friend of mine, whose opinion I respect, told me earlier in the day that he liked Zia (Munnings), one of the three that had already raced. I looked at him and even though he was winless in six starts, the first five came up in Canada on turf or synthetic. He made his dirt debut last out here and was a game third, earning a strong BRIS speed rating. So I said, why not, and made a decent win bet on Zia.
Fast Moon went to the front and dueled with 57-to-1 longshot Chiding (Blame). Paco Lopez had Zia in behind the leaders but the pace slowed noticeably with the second quarter run in :24.10 and now he had nowhere to go when Javier Castellano pulled up next to him aboard Fine Instincts (Tale of the Cat).
Zia stayed trapped in the pocket into the homestretch and when Castellano was not going to let him out, Lopez decided to veer to the outside, push Fine Instincts out of the way to get running room and run down Chiding in the shadow of the wire.
Sirens, red flags, alarms, and whistles went off, as there was a steward's inquiry into Lopez's actions and a claim of foul by Castellano against Lopez. Gulfstream showed the pan shot and head-on replay repeatedly and even though I am looking at a decent score, there was no way the stewards could leave Zia up.
And, yet, they did and maybe it makes up for the times when horses were taken down when they should not have been but it was a terrible call. They ruled that Castellano, aboard Fine Instincts, came in and caused the bumping but that is not how it looked to me. Go back and look at the chart for race eight on January 25 at Gulfstream Park and you will see how many bad trips there were from start to finish.
KENTUCKY DERBY REPORT
JANUARY 28, 2015
by James Scully
Upstart (Flatter) was sensational in Saturday's Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park, romping to a 5 1/2-length victory. His eye-catching 105 BRIS Speed rating is even more impressive given how wide he traveled throughout the 1 1/16-mile race (more than 30 feet farther than both the runner-up and third-placer).
The New York-bred colt has clearly improved at age three for trainer Richard Violette Jr., a key attribute for any Kentucky Derby hopeful with two-year-old form.
Upstart was easy to identify as a possible Kentucky Derby contender entering his sophomore season but lacked fanfare -- his 53-1 odds in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (November 28-30) were more indicative of a second-tier prospect.
The dark bay captured his first two starts over state-bred rivals in a pair of sprints at Saratoga, including the 6 1/2-furlong Funny Cide. In his first attempt against open rivals, he offered a solid middle move to record a non-threatening second in Champagne Stakes (G1) last October and followed with a respectable third in his 2014 finale, finishing 6 1/2 lengths behind the winning Texas Red (Afleet Alex) in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).
By virtue of his Holy Bull tour-de-force, Upstart will be among the favorites in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (February 6-8). He's by the A.P. Indy stallion Flatter, whose runners tend to improve with age, and is out of a mare by Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold. The presence of champion sprinter Housebuster, sire of the second maternal dam, adds a nice mix of speed to Upstart's stamina-infused bloodlines.
Violette was also on last year's Kentucky Derby trail with another New York-bred, Samraat, who opened 2014 with smart wins in the Withers (G3) and Gotham (G3) before a second in the TwinSpires Wood Memorial (G1). But Samraat lacked a favorable pedigree for classic distances (out of an Indian Charlie mare) and wound up fifth in the 140th Kentucky Derby.
Upstart continued to display good tactical speed in the Holy Bull, racing within a couple of lengths of the early pace, and netted a 107 BRIS Late Pace rating while winning convincingly. He's got a lot going for him.
Frosted (Tapit) remains highly promising. After concluding last year with a commendable second in the Remsen (G2), the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee was bet down to 3-2 favoritism in the Holy Bull but had to settle for runner-up honors once again.
The well-bred gray colt saved ground from his innermost post position, stalking the pace in fourth during the early stages, and finished up nicely to be clear of third-placer Bluegrass Singer (Bluegrass Cat). Frosted equaled his 98 BRIS Speed rating from the Remsen and earned a 101 Late Pace. It will be no surprise to see him keep moving forward off the encouraging performance.
Bluegrass Singer saved third in his two-turn bow, but the stakes-winning gelding probably doesn't want any part of longer distances.
Late runners Keen Ice (Curlin), Frammento (Midshipman) and First Down (Street Sense) all failed to make a significant impact; their connections will be hoping for much more next time.
Khozan (Distorted Humor) is behind the proverbial eight-ball, making such a late career debut on January 24, but the Todd Pletcher-trained colt is one to watch following his impressive maiden tally on the Holy Bull undercard.
A half-brother to three-time champion and $4.8-million earner Royal Delta, the $1 million yearling drew off sharply to a 3 3/4-length decision and earned a 103 BRIS Speed rating after completing seven furlongs in 1:23.63. His performance was flattered by Barbados (Speightstown), who stopped the teletimer in 1:24.39 winning the Hutcheson (G3) one race later as the 3-5 favorite.
There are no scoring races this weekend, but Texas Red will make his three-year-old bow in Sunday's seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) at seven furlongs.
JANUARY 29, 2015
by John Mucciolo
There was no graded racing during the abbreviated week on the inner oval at Aqueduct.
A total of 25 races were held over the inner strip at the Long Island, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 44 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 72 percent of the wins during the week. Eight were won in wire-to-wire fashion (32 percent), while there was no turf racing.
It was hard to gauge the condition of the main oval with little racing and a slew of very small fields. We thought the Thursday oval was better for horses from off the pace and speed better over the weekend, if anything.
A total of 22 of the 25 races were taken by horses breaking from the inner six post slots (88 percent), though that once again is a case of small fields at play.
HORSES TO WATCH
2ND -- COPERNICUS (Munnings) sped to the front and never faced a challenge in easily dispatching this group under Guillermo Rodriguez. The sophomore colt could turn out to be a nice claim for Rudy Rodriguez and we have a hunch this one might be capable of carrying his speed a bit longer under the right circumstances.
5TH -- REGULUS (Distorted Humor) easily went by the odds-on leader in the lane and powered home a strong winner in this claiming run for Rudy. The six-year-old gelding came home swiftly for the level and likely won't be in for a tag following this dash.
2ND -- We think it's safe to say that JACKIE BLACK (Discreet Cat) appreciated the stretch out to a route run first time off the claim as the three-year-old miss rolled home to a victory stated as 35 lengths. The speedy Linda Rice trainee earned a hefty 90 BRIS Speed figure for this event and surely won't be in for a tag next time out.
4TH -- Richard Violette's debuter LEHIGH FIVE (Birdstone) overcame the rail, dueled to the top of the lane and then exploded late in a fine first-out tally over a fairly decent field of prospects. The interesting sophomore colt is bred to run long, but has fine speed and really could be any kind.
6TH -- DULCIFY (Candy Ride [Arg]) was wide early and especially wide in the lane, so her run was a lot better than it might appear on paper. The Steve Klesaris trainee had not been on the track since the summer, so to be beaten by just three lengths after giving up a ton of ground should make her very live in her subsequent outing, perhaps at a price.
8TH -- ORGANIC GEMINI (Sir Whimsey) was last early but did put in a spirited run in a much improved test for trainer Steve Asmussen. The New York-bred was more than six lengths clear of the show and should be graduating with any type of forward move in the near future.
6TH -- The Chad Brown-trained LONGFOR THE CITY (Langfuhr) was never getting to the winner but he did fight on gamely to get second in his first start since September. The five-year-old should be expected to move up off of this prep run.
8TH -- WENT THE DAY WELL (Proud Citizen) had been off form for some time following a big early part of his sophomore campaign, but the six-year-old has done some good things since joining the barn of Jimmy Jerkens. The Grade 3 winner put in a fine late rush to capture this race and surely looks to be moving in the right direction.
A Look Ahead
There is no graded racing this week at Aqueduct.
Click here for the monthly January Calendar
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