Texas Red takes old-school approach in San Vicente
A well-built bay son of 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex, Texas Red dropped his first two starts sprinting before breaking his maiden going two turns at Del Mar last summer. The Kentucky-bred recorded a non-threatening third behind American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) when making his first stakes attempt, the FrontRunner (G1) in late September, and followed with a 13-1 upset in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, netting a career-best 101 BRIS Speed rating while closing from last to first.
Texas Red will face seven rivals as the likely overwhelming favorite.
Lord Nelson (Pulpit) finished one spot back of Texas Red when fourth in the FrontRunner and earned his first stakes win in the six-furlong Speak Easy at Santa Anita on October 13, posting a 6 3/4-length runaway score. He concluded 2014 with a fifth as the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, a race that has already produced next-out stakes winners El Kabeir and International Star, and the Bob Baffert-trained Lord Nelson figures to appreciate the cut back in trip. Rafael Bejarano picks up the mount.
Baffert will also be represented by Punctuate (Distorted Humor). The bay colt colt makes his first appearance since an impressive debut maiden win at Santa Anita in late September and will be ridden by Martin Garcia. Punctuate is out the famous New Mexico-bred mare Peppers Pride (Desert God), who earned more than $1 million and attracted national headlines by winning all 19 career starts from 2005-08.
Serbian Syclone (Wildcat Heir) brings plenty of speed to the mix in his stakes debut. A 6 1/4-length debut winner two starts back, the Peter Miller trainee exits a facile wire-to-wire victory over allowance/optional claiming rivals at six furlongs on December 31. Elvis Trujillo has the call.
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.
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.
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.
Vercingetorix, Cladocera hand Soumillon a Group 2 double
True Story, last seen dominating the January 8 Singspiel at this course and distance, was easily second by 2 1/2 lengths from Mr Pommeroy (Linngari). De Kock's other two runners, early leader Sanshaawes (Ashaawes) and defending champion Mujaarib (Nadeem), were fourth and fifth, respectively. Sociologa Inc (Include) broke slowly and never challenged, while Army Bulletin (Invincible Spirit) was withdrawn.
Vercingetorix covered about 1 1/8 miles on the good course in 1:49, upping his line to 9-7-1-1. Unbeaten in his native South Africa, he posted gutsy wins in the 2013 KRA Guineas (SAf-G2) and Greyville 2000 (SAf-G1) before embarking for the world stage. The bay made a winning Dubai debut in a handicap last February, his springboard to the Jebel Hatta and Duty Free.
Bred by Klawervlei Stud in South Africa, Vercingetorix is a half-brother to multiple Group 3 scorer Trinity House (Captain Al) and Group 2-placed Never Forever (Captain Al). Their dam, Group 2-placed National Vixen (National Assembly), hails from the family of South African champion sprinter Extra Cover (Lords) and Group 1 winners Steaming Jungle (Jungle Cove) and St. Johns Wood (Lords).
The German-bred was produced by stakes heroine Caesarine (Pivotal), who is in turn a half-sister to Group 3 scorer Caesarion (Danehill). Cladocera's third dam is multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Annoconnor (Nureyev), a half-sister to 1984 Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-G1) and 1986 Melbourne Cup (Aus-G1) hero At Talaq (Roberto).
Jockey James Doyle made it a triple on the undercard, with the Charlie Appleby-trained Ahtoug (Byron) as well as Hunter's Light (Dubawi) and I'm Back (Exceed and Excel) from the Saeed bin Suroor yard.
Hunter's Light was a star of the 2013 Carnival, capturing the Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (UAE-G2) and Round 3 (UAE-G1) before a seventh in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1). He never got going from only two starts here in 2014, but is back on song now. His resume reads 25-10-2-3, including the 2012 Premio Roma (Ity-G1) among his eight stakes victories.
Bin Suroor and Doyle bookended the evening, as I'm Back had led all the way in the opener. The Irish-bred five-year-old was coming off a handicap score at this same about 1 3/16-mile trip January 8, but was more emphatic when galloping by 2 3/4 lengths Thursday.
"I did not ride him last time when he surprised us somewhat," Doyle said, "but that was a good effort and he is going the right way."
"We knew he was in good form and expected a big run," bin Suroor said. "He clearly relishes this new dirt surface and seems to be improving. We will try and find another race for him.
Earlier in the non-Carnival event, One Man Band reached for the wire in a desperate attempt to hold off Filfil (Hard Spun), who was seeking a hat trick. His extra effort was rewarded in the photo. He took 1:39 1/5 to negotiate the metric mile, welcoming jockey Richard Hughes back from his vacation.
"It was a gallant effort from the horse," Hughes said. "He has almost waited for the other horse before running on again. There could be more to come from him.
"It is hard work when you have been out of the saddle for a while."
All three of One Man Band's wins have come on the Meydan dirt, including a maiden and a lesser handicap over this track and trip January 17.
Lindisfarne, Majestic Affair score in rescheduled Laurel stakes
"I think it helped being on the outside. There was a lot of speed down near the rail so I just let my filly settle. I looked back around the five-sixteenths to see if Lake Sebago (Munnings) was coming and I didn't see anything so I just went and asked my filly to go. She responded really well. She ran a great race today."
Lindisfarne is now 3-0-1 from five lifetime starts and has banked $103,295 thus far.
This was the second stakes win for Majestic Affair, who captured the Fred "Cappy" Capossela S. at Aqueduct on January 2 after a second-place finish in the James F. Lewis III S. at Laurel on November 15. His record now stands at 6-4-1-0, $184,000, with his only unplaced effort coming as an eighth-place run in the Saratoga Special S. (G2) last August.
"I'm really grateful that I have been able to travel with this horse for his last four races," Carmouche remarked. "He seems like he's really starting to get good now. I thought be might be a little closer today coming off six furlongs but I had plenty of horse the entire way and when I asked him he just went about his business."
Majestic Affair paid $2.40 as the overwhelming 1-5 favorite.
California Chrome Vox Populi Charity Auction to benefit Secretariat Foundation
Collectors, "Chromies," and curators will be vying for the race-worn winning silks of a champion as well as other prized pieces in a historical opportunity in the California Chrome Vox Populi Charity Auction.
This unique, 10-day online auction will feature five museum-quality pieces celebrating California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit), the hero of last year's Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1), recipient of the 2014 Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old male, and the Secretariat Vox Populi Award, which recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.
The items -- all with impeccable provenance and of profound significance -- were donated by California Chrome's owners, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, in collaboration with Penny Chenery and the Secretariat Archives, to benefit the Secretariat Foundation.
Most notable in the collection are the actual DAP Racing silks worn by Victor Espinoza when he guided California Chrome to his first significant win in the San Felipe s. (G2) at Santa Anita last spring. This piece, signed by each member of the California Chrome team, marks the first time -- at least in recent memory -- when the original race-worn winning silks of a newly crowned Horse of the Year have been offered to the general public.
The auction also will feature a sculpted bust of California Chrome by esteemed equine artists Kitty Cantrell and Caroline Boydston, who created the official trophy for the Vox Populi Award, as well as an original oil painting of California Chrome by acclaimed Kentucky equine artist Jaime Corum. The Vox Populi prints released earlier this month at Santa Anita were created and published from this original portrait.
The Vox Populi Auction also will offer two items that represent the storied career of California Chrome's trainer, Art Sherman. One is a 1955 issue of Sports Illustrated, featuring the legendary Swaps on the cover and signed by Sherman, who as a teenager was a stable hand and exercise rider for Swaps' connections.
The other is an exquisite miniature hand-painted pewter figurine of California Chrome commissioned specially for this auction. Only two of these miniatures were produced, and the other Sherman received during the Vox Populi Award presentation as a special reminder of his amazing champion.
Secretariat.com, in conjunction with eBay, will host this first-ever Vox Populi Auction. Bidding began Thursday evening and concludes Sunday, February 8. For more information about the auction or the Vox Populi Award visit Secretariat.com.
The Secretariat Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization created by Chenery to assist the Thoroughbred industry in the areas of research, rehabilitation, retirement and recognition. Chenery named the foundation after her great champion to use his enduring appeal to bring greater awareness to the many causes found within the equine-related community. Secretariat Foundation revenue is raised through donations, signing appearances, and the sales of memorabilia and officially licensed products on Secretariat.com.
The Jockey Club of Canada approves 44 graded events for 2015
The Jockey Club of Canada's Graded Stakes Committee held its annual review of the graded and listed stakes in Canada. The committee upgraded one listed race bringing the total to 44 graded stakes in Canada for 2015.
The Graded Stakes Committee meeting, conducted by Committee Chair Jeff Begg with all committee members as well as Chief Steward Jim Lawson and the racing secretaries from Hastings, Northlands and Woodbine, was held Tuesday, January 27.
After reviewing the NARC and RQS figures for all graded and listed races in Canada, the committee determined that the Marine S. at Woodbine would be upgraded from a listed stakes to a Grade 3 in 2015 with the recommendation that the purse be bumped to be consistent with the other Grade 3 races at Woodbine. The status for all other graded and listed stakes in Canada will remain unchanged in 2015. Canada will host four Grade 1, 16 Grade 2 and 24 Grade 3 races in 2015.
The Jockey Club of Canada Graded Stakes Committee evaluates and reviews the graded and listed stakes in Canada annually and determines whether races should be upgraded, downgraded or remain the same. The committee bases their decisions on the cumulative NARC ratings for five consecutive years along with the new Race Quality Score (RQS) figures introduced last year by the North American International Catalogue Standards Committee (NAICSC).
Graded and listed stakes in North America must maintain a minimum purse and minimum cumulative NARC rating to retain or be considered as a graded or listed race.
Changes to the requirements for stakes in North America to receive non-listed black type in SITA catalogs (those compliant with guidelines required by the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers) were implemented by the North American International Catalogue Standards Committee (NAISCS) in 2014.
The primary change to the requirements was the implementation of the Race Quality Score (RQS) as an additional quality control for non-listed black-type races in North America.
Non-listed black-type races include open stakes races with a purse of $50,000 to $74,999 available for distribution on the day of the race and all stakes races with a purse of $50,000 or more that have a restriction allowed by NAISCS (i.e. state bred, stallions' progeny, sales graduates or non-winners of a sweepstakes) that have or exceed a minimum Race Quality Score (RQS) requirement for individual age/sex division.
The RQS is the average of the Annual Race Quality Score (ARQS) for each of a race's last three renewals. The ARQS is the combination of the speed figures assigned to a race by Bloodstock Research Information Services (BRIS), Daily Racing Form (Beyer), Equibase and Thoro-Graph, and is calculated within 30 days after the date of the race. The speed figure assigned to a race is the average of the speed figure assigned to each of the top four placed horses in the race.
Non-listed black-type races that receive an RQS below the minimum age/sex requirements and have a three-year cumulative RQS below the minimum requirements will automatically lose their black-type status without evaluation. The Jockey Club of Canada Graded Stakes Committee has been made responsible for informing host racetracks of any black-type races that do not meet the RQS requirement and subsequently have lost their black-type status. The committee will also communicate a warning to host tracks if a race is at risk of losing their black-type status in any given year.
The Jockey Club of Canada Graded Stakes Committee reports that the following stakes races in Canada have lost black-type status effective 2015:
The following black-type stakes races are at risk of losing their black-type status in 2016 if the minimum age/sex RQS and the minimum cumulative RQS is not achieved in 2015:
The following stakes races in Canada had already lost their black-type status in Canada in 2014:
Any new stakes races created and existing races with material changes to their conditions must now be submitted to the NAICSC for review and black-type approval no less than 30 days prior to the day the new race or changed race is to be run. New stakes races with a purse of less than $75,000 available to all entries must run twice under essentially the same conditions before being evaluated for black-type status.
For complete information on the RQS black-type requirements and/or for black-type race status updates go to www.northamericanicsc.com or contact Jeff Begg, Graded Stakes Committee Chair at The Jockey Club of Canada, 416-675-7756 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Jockey Club of Canada was founded in 1973 by E.P. Taylor to serve as the international representative of the Canadian Thoroughbred industry. The mission of The Jockey Club of Canada is to promote and maintain a high standard for Thoroughbred racing and breeding in Canada at a level which is recognized internationally for the benefit of all those interested in the sport including the general public by operations and services such as, but not limited to: evaluating all Graded, Listed and Black-type races in Canada annually; conducting the annual Sovereign Awards for outstanding achievement in Thoroughbred racing and breeding in Canada; maintaining a field office in Canada for the Jockey Club of the United States and the Jockey Club Registry Service; and by representing Canada as a Member of the IFHA.
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.
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.
Jockey Javier Castellano was awarded the Key to the City by Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper and the City Commission on Wednesday evening. Castellano, who has earned Eclipse Awards the past two years as the country's outstanding rider and has been leading rider at Gulfstream Park the past three winters, was lauded by Cooper as "one of the greatest athletes in the world." The Key to the City is a symbolic award presented by municipalities to honor outstanding residents and visitors who go above and beyond to help others or to promote the good will of the community. "I am truly honored to receive this award," said Castellano, who was given a standing ovation by the commission and those in attendance when presented with the key. "I want to thank the City of Hallandale Beach, Gulfstream Park, the Mayor and the staff." Cooper said Castellano is a "world champion who holds a special place in our hearts since he races here and calls Hallandale Beach his home in the winter." She added, "To have an athlete of this caliber in our city, one who is nationally and globally recognized, is an honor."...
California-bred Big Macher (Beau Genius), taken by trainer Richard Baltas from his first start, a $20,000 maiden claiming race at Del Mar on July 17, 2013, has paid his way and then some, earning more than $500,000. His future is still in front of him, starting with Saturday's $200,000 Palos Verdes S. (G2) going six furlongs at Santa Anita Park. Baltas had ticketed Big Macher for the $150,000 California Cup Sprint on Sunshine Millions California Cup Day last Saturday, but after drawing the one post position opted to wait for the Palos Verdes, one reason being he hoped to get a more advantageous post position. "I didn't expect him to achieve what he has so far, hell no," Baltas said of the five-year-old gelding, who last season captured the Bing Crosby S. (G1) and Potrero Grande S. (G2). "When you claim a horse and it improves, I don't think it's a matter of luck. It's up to the trainer to make the decisions. Look at Ron Ellis. He took Seeking the Sherif for $12,500 and did everything he had to do to improve the horse. That's what happens in this business with guys who know how to train a horse. It doesn't happen to Joe Schmo. Guys just don't get lucky. You've got to take care of horses every day, day in, day out. You've got to make the right decisions. It's like coaching a football team. You've got to know what you did wrong and try to improve on it. You look at a horse every day to see what you can do to make it better next time. The horse has to earn its way through the ranks. Sometimes you claim a horse and it works out, sometimes it doesn't." As to the Palos Verdes, Baltas said the break is important and he hopes to see Big Macher "right behind Bonde's horse," referring to trainer Jeff Bonde's speedball Distinctiv Passion (With Distinction), who breaks just inside Big Macher in the No. 1 post position...
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has five horses entered in Saturday's $300,000 Las Virgenes S. (G1), which accounts for half the 10-filly field. That couldn't happen in the old days, when they would have had to run as an entry, a bet on one being a bet on all. "I think the most we've entered in a race before was three," said Dan Ward, Hollendorfer's assistant of eight years. "I never saw it," said agent Vince DeGregory, who has been in the game since 1959. Ditto for agent Scotty McClellan, who although he didn't remember it occurring in the 43 years he's been in racing, added, "But I think it might have happened." Be that as it may, Hollendorfer, who is inching his way towards 7,000 career wins, entered five of the six horses he had nominated to the one-mile race for three-year-old fillies. Safety in numbers is not necessarily a bad thing. "Years ago," California Horse Racing Board steward Tom Ward recalled, "someone said that one day Charlie Whittingham will have every horse in a race," to which Santa Anita Racing Secretary Jimmy Kilroe had this rejoinder, "What's wrong with that?"...
Sunland Derby (G3) and Damascus S. winner Chitu (Henny Hughes), a close third in the Malibu S. (G1) last out, logged a half-mile in company for Bob Baffert Thursday morning on Santa Anita Park's fast dirt in :46 3/5 under Martin Garcia. Stablemate Global Hottie (Dixie Chatter) was clocked in :47...
Lea (First Samurai) is scheduled to seek back-to-back victories in the $1 million Donn H. (G1) at Gulfstream Park on February 7. The defending champion's name is prominent among the 20 horses nominated for the 60th running of the 1 1/8-mile handicap that will highlight a program that will offer four other stakes. The $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1), which is expected to feature returning champion Lochte (Medaglia d'Oro), will be co-featured on the February 7 card that will also include the $150,000 Suwannee River S. (G3), $100,000 Fred W. Hooper H. (G3) and $75,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint. Lea was last seen taking his six-year-old bow in the Hal's Hope S. (G3), which he also won in 2014 prior to his Donn victory, while Lochte captured the Tampa Bay S. (G3) on January 24. Also nominated for the Donn is Sloane Avenue (Candy Ride), who is scheduled to ship from England to make his first start on dirt in the Donn. Frankie Dettori has the mount aboard the Jeremy Noseda-trained four-year-old, who is undefeated in three starts on synthetic tracks in England. Lochte tops a list of 13 nominees for the Gulfstream Park Turf 'Cap while the 72nd running of the Suwannee River attracted 35 nominees. The 30th edition of the Fred W. Hooper, a one-mile race for four-year-olds and up on the main track, attracted 26 nominations...
Connections of last year's Blue Diamond S. (Aus-G1) heroine Earthquake (Exceed and Excel), said they were happy with the filly's :45 4/5 zip in an 800-meter trial at Cranbourne Thursday. The three-year-old filly was appearing in public for the first time since finishing unplaced in the Coolmore Stud S. (Aus-G1) November 1. David Charles, assistant trainer to John O'Shea in Melbourne, told racing.com, "She'll probably stay on the sprinting path, so we'll have a look at which (race) suits best. We couldn't be happier with the way she's progressed so far." Chad Schofield, Godolphin's regular rider in Melbourne, commented, "Her trial was impressive. She jumped well, traveled outside the leader and was strong to the line. She ran a pretty slick time and pulled up without having much of a blow so I'm sure she's right where the stable wants her."...
Victoria's Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board have confirmed the charges against Group 1-winning trainer Mark Riley, who now faces a three-year suspension. The RAD's investigation into the case of Gold for Kev (Desert Sun), who returned elevated levels of TC02 (bicarb) following a pre-race test in July last year, came to a conclusion Thursday, with the board holding Riley guilty of administering a prohibited substance. Riley had denied administering alkalinizing agents to the horse--a practice commonly known as "milk-shaking" -- yet the board expressed displeasure by the trainer's evidence. "Many of Mark Riley's responses to questioning by stewards and cross examination in the hearing before the board were characterized by ambivalence, equivocation, obfuscation and prevarication," the finding read, as reported on racing.com. "Riley's evidence that he would not have had the time to stomach tube the horse was contradictory and unpersuasive. Similarly, his evidence that horses in his stable were not stomach tubed between June 2 and July 15, 2014, did not survive cross examination intact." The report concluded, "The board, being comfortably satisfied that the prohibited substance was administered on race day by Mark Riley or a member of his staff, on his instructions, is comfortably satisfied to draw the inference that Riley's purpose was to affect the performance of Gold for Kev in the race." According to the rules of Australian racing, Riley faces a three-year ban, unless he can produce evidence of mitigating circumstances...
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)...
Fasig-Tipton has catalogued 82 entries for the Kentucky Winter Mixed supplemental catalog. The supplemental catalog, which consists of Hip Nos. 535-616, will begin immediately following the conclusion of the main catalog. The supplement includes several stakes performing fillies and mares off the track, "short" yearlings, and mares in foal to such sires as Into Mischief, Lookin at Lucky, More Than Ready, Shanghai Bobby, Union Rags and Violence. The supplemental entries may now be viewed at www.fasigtipton.com. Print catalogues will be available onsite at Fasig-Tipton at sale time. The Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale will be held Sunday and Monday, February 8-9, at Fasig-Tipton's Newtown Paddocks in Lexington, Kentucky. The Sunday session, which will offer Hips 1-200, will begin at 3 p.m. (EST). The Monday session, which will offer Hips 201-534, followed by the supplemental catalog, will begin at 10 a.m...
Funeral services for owner/raconteur Gary Dimkich have been set for Saturday at 10 a.m. (PST) at St. Steven's Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Alhambra, California. A frequent visitor to Clockers' Corner at Santa Anita Park, Dimkich enjoyed the everyday camaraderie of friends and was well-steeped in the lore and tradition of racing and "All Things Santa Anita." A Los Angeles native, Dimkich, 69, passed away suddenly at his Arcadia home on Saturday night following a day spent with friends on Sunshine Millions/California Cup Day at the track. A graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School in nearby El Sereno, Dimkich went on to play football at Cal State Los Angeles, where he led his school's conference in punting one season. A lifelong friend of influential Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, Dimkich developed a myriad of relationships over the years and operated the popular eatery, Delacy's Club 41, in Old Town Pasadena for eight years. Subsequent to that, he enjoyed a career as a part-time actor, appearing on the HBO series "LUCK," and later on shows such as "The Mentalist," "Sons of Anarchy" and others. Dimkich also endeavored to benefit area children by working at the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House. He is survived by his wife, Leah; two daughters, Nicole and Cara; two granddaughters, Isabella and Sofia; his brother Mitch; two nieces and a nephew. The Dimkich family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House: 763 South Pasadena Ave., Pasadena, Ca., 91105.
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.
HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.
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