Taste Like Candy gets class test in Hollywood Starlet
Untapable, who won the Pocahontas by a half-length, was already in retreat when she was forced to check to avoid a fallen rival in the Breeders' Cup. The Steve Asmussen charge was virtually eased afterwards, and wound up crossing the wire eighth in the field of 10.
Arethusa enters the Starlet off a dominating 8 1/4-length, maiden-breaking score in the $100,000 Sharp Cat, the November 16 course-and-distance prep. A distant but clear second in the Sharp Cat was Be Proud, one of two from the barn of trainer Bob Baffert. The other is November 15 debut winner Streaming.
The Starlet field is rounded out by Bajan, winner of the $100,000 Moccasin and $75,000 Anoakia in her last two, and Sorrento winner Concave, who followed a troubled trip in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with a third in the Delta Downs Princess two weeks ago for trainer Doug O'Neill.
Six of the 10 fillies and mares competing in the Grade 2, $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap are three-year-olds, including probable favorite Fiftyshadesofhay. Heroine of three graded stakes -- the Black-Eyed Susan, Iowa Oaks and Santa Ysabel -- this term, the Baffert-trained miss will tote top weight of 118 pounds despite finishing third as the odds-on choice in the Indiana Oaks two months ago.
Other leading sophomore contenders are Warren's Venada, who is two-for-two over the main track at Hollywood including a game score in the $100,000 Cat's Cradle Handicap for California-breds on November 17; Grade 3 winner Charlie Em, third in the Autumn Miss and Torrey Pines in her last two; and Magic Union, a solid allowance winner over Del Mar's Polytrack two starts back.
Charm the Maker, a close second in the Starlet two years ago and a troubled fourth in the 2012 Bayakoa, might be the best of the older contenders. She prevailed in the $94,000 Adoration at Del Mar two starts back.
Ramseys, Maker looking for back-to-back success in Claiming Crown
The first major event of Gulfstream Park's Championship Meet will take place Saturday with the 15th annual Claiming Crown, a collection of eight stakes races worth a total of $1 million.
The Claiming Crown was established in 1999 to celebrate the blue-collar horses who are the very foundation of the racing industry nationwide and is billed as the claiming horse owner's Breeders' Cup. It is run under starter allowance conditions and is open to horses who have raced for a claiming price of $35,000 or lower since January 1, 2012. The Claiming Crown races have price limits of $7,500, $16,000, $25,000 and $35,000.
The Claiming Crown's first stop at Gulfstream Park in 2012 was so well received by horsemen, racing fans and bettors last year that track management signed an agreement with the partnership of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association to host the event for three years.
"Racing fans across the country will enjoy this great afternoon of racing," Gulfstream President Tim Ritvo said. "The horsemen have supported the Claiming Crown once again with full fields and some of the country's most popular horses. We're looking forward to a big day."
"Gulfstream was gracious in offering to host the Claiming Crown last year, and it was a phenomenal success," said Phil Hanrahan, CEO of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. "Based on nominations and after looking at the overnight and how full the races got, it looks like this year is going to be another really good year."
In 2012, horses sporting the red-and-white silks of Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Mike Maker swept four of the seven Claiming Crown events, including the Jewel with Parent's Honor. They also came within a head of winning a fifth with Major Marvel in the Emerald.
The popular couple currently lead all owners in 2013 earnings with over $11.8 million. They will have a chance to go one better in this year's Claiming Crown with contenders entered in five of the eight races on Saturday.
After finishing second at Ellis Park in that race, Voodoo Storm returned to a relieved Glyshaw's barn. He proceeded to take an allowance by 3 1/4 lengths and the Mountaineer Mile by 7 3/4 lengths in his past two at Mountaineer Park.
"He's a little quirky," Glyshaw admitted. "He gets riled up in the post parade; he gets riled up in the paddock,; he's always sweating. If you're a handicapper watching him in the paddock, you wouldn't bet him because he's washed out. He was washed out at Mountaineer when it was 30 degrees. That's just him."
Although he was also nominated for the $125,000 Emerald, a turf race, Voodoo Storm is scheduled for a Jewel clash with Bernie the Maestro.
"I told the owner, 'Why do we want to change things now?' This purse is bigger, and going into the race, at least in my mind, I think it has to be us and Bernie the Maestro as the favorites," Glyshaw said. "I think it's going to be a nice race between those two. But I'm not throwing anyone out."
The Ramsey colors were carried to victory in the $125,000 Tiara by Starsilhouette in 2012, and the leading owners will be represented by Deanaallen'skitten in Saturday's renewal of the 1 1/16-mile turf contest. The six-year-old Kitten's Joy nare has hit the board in each of her six starts on the Gulfstream turf course, and ships south off a game success in Aqueduct's Trevita Stakes for trainer Chad Brown on November 6.
The $110,000 Rapid Transit, a seven-furlong affair for runners who have been offered for a tag of $16,000 or less, will feature 12 horses including Grande Shores, a homebred for Fred Brei's Jacks or Better Farm. The half-brother to Grade 1-winning sprinter Jackson Bend was out of action for 12 months and could have been had for as little as $8,000 last February, but he has rounded into form recently. After two victories at Calder this summer, the five-year-old Florida-bred ran second in the September 14 Montbrook Stakes going a mile at Gulfstream.
Walder will send out Loveyouallthetime in the Rapid Transit after claiming the chestnut gelding for $10,000 in July. The Not for Love six-year-old has since won three of his four races.
"I think the Claiming Crown is a great idea," added Walder, who's saddled three horses previously in the series. "It's nice to have it in your backyard, and Gulfstream does a great job with it. I'm looking forward to a big day of racing."
The inaugural running of the 1 1/16-mile Iron Lady, for fillies and mares who have started for $7,500 or less, will see eight distaffers head to the gate but if Winiliscious runs to form, the real race may be for second. Previously trained by Chuck Spina, the four-year-old earned a 102 BRIS Speed rating when romping by 16 lengths in a starter allowance at Laurel on October 12. Trainer Steve DiMauro has taken over her care on behalf of owner Top Shelf Stable.
Mucho Macho Man to race in 2014
"The horse is potentially extremely versatile," Green said. "We plan on working the horse on the turf towards the end of the month and Kathy and I will make a decision after that work about turf for him this year."
Mucho Macho Man is one of Thoroughbred racing's most enduring stars.
"We've all put him first -- the racing manager, the assistant trainer, the groom, everyone," Ritvo said. "We've gone out of our way to help him become a good horse."
Veteran horseman Vanier dies
Harvey L. Vanier, who saddled two winners of the Blue Grass at Keeneland during his long training career, died December 1 in Versailles, Kentucky. He was 89.
Vanier sent out his first Keeneland winner during the 1951 fall meeting and won 143 races at the Lexington track through the 2006 fall season. He was the leading trainer during the 1987 spring meeting when he won seven races.
In 1983, Vanier sent out 19-1 longshot Play Fellow to win the Blue Grass. The colt raced for Vanier's wife, Nancy, and partners Carl Lauer and Robert Victor. Play Fellow also won such major events as the Travers, American Derby, Arlington Classic, and Donn Handicap.
Vanier won the Blue Grass again in 1989 with even-money favorite Western Playboy, a son of Play Fellow bred in Illinois by the Vaniers. Nancy Vanier raced the colt, who also won the Pennsylvania Derby and Jim Beam, with Raymond Roncari.
Vanier's seven Keeneland stakes wins also include the 1979 Ben Ali with Kodiack; 1979 Fayette and 1980 Ben Ali with Architect; 1987 Keeneland Breeders' Cup with Storm On the Loose and 1996 Alcibiades with Southern Playgirl.
The Vaniers owned Fairberry Farm in Waterloo, Illinois, and Rightaway Farm in Woodford County, Kentucky.
Vanier's survivors include Nancy; daughters Lyda (Brian) Vanier Williamson and Jenny (Frank) Vanier Allen; and grandsons Brian Harvey Williamson, Samuel Lewis Williamson, Will Lewis Allen and Luke Harvey Allen.
Vanier will be buried at Kolmer Memorial Cemetery in Waterloo. The visitation will be held at the Quernheim Funeral Home in Waterloo on Friday from 4-6 p.m. (CST) and on Saturday from 9-10 a.m. when the funeral begins.
NYRA board approves racing dates; Aqueduct releases winter/spring stakes schedule
The New York Racing Association (NYRA) board of directors met in New York City on Wednesday and approved the organization's operating and capital budgets for 2014 as well as NYRA's 2014 slate of racing dates.
The board approved a 2014 operating budget of $155 million and a capital budget of $23 million that forecasts a profit of $250,000 independent of Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) revenues. The vote was taken following a lengthy discussion on the merits of proposed increases in admission and parking fees at Belmont Park and Saratoga, included in the budget. It was decided that market research with the wagering public on those increases would be done prior to the board's next meeting in March.
The board approved a racing schedule of 252 dates in 2014 -- comprised of 79 days during the Aqueduct winter/spring meet, 54 days during the Belmont spring meet, 40 days during the Saratoga meet, 37 days during the Belmont fall meet and 42 days during the Aqueduct fall meet.
In a new initiative aimed at increasing handle, Aqueduct will predominantly race on a Thursday-through-Monday schedule in January and March, and on a four-day, Friday-through-Monday schedule in February. From April through the end of the year, NYRA generally will hold live racing on its customary Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule, with the usual exception of the Saratoga meet when there will again be live racing every day except Tuesday.
The board heard a report from CEO and President Chris Kay, who reviewed business results at the Saratoga and Belmont fall meetings as well as the meet-to-date at Aqueduct. He also outlined projected cost reductions and revenue increases within the 2014 budget.
Additionally, NYRA Vice-President of Corporate Development David O'Rourke announced that NYRA had completed its Request for Proposals (RFP) process for selecting a consulting firm to advise NYRA on Long Term Planning (LTP) initiatives. A.T. Kearney Inc., a firm with extensive and relevant experience in the gambling, sports, entertainment, horse racing and privatization spheres, was selected to negotiate a contract following a comprehensive technical and pricing analysis during the RFP process.
The board heard additional reports from Chair David J. Skorton and Chief Financial Officer Susanne Stover. All materials discussed and reviewed during the board's meetings, replays of past meetings, and a list of board members are available by clicking here.
With the dates approved, NYRA announced the stakes schedule for the 2014 winter/spring meet at Aqueduct, with stakes purses totaling $6 million.
The Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial, New York's premier prep race for the Triple Crown, tops the stakes schedule and will be contested on April 5. The Wood Memorial will receive top billing on the card that also will include the Grade 1, $500,000 Carter Handicap; Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle; Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian Handicap; and Grade 3, $300,000 Bay Shore.
In addition, Aqueduct will host three graded stakes around two turns for three-year-olds that lead to the Wood Memorial -- the Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome on January 4; Grade 3, $250,000 Withers on February 1; and Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham on March 1.
The minimum stakes purse is $100,000, up from $75,000 last year.
Hong Kong Mile might be swansong for Moonlight Cloud
Sha Tin Racecourse was a project in a state of conceptual development when Freddie Head first visited Hong Kong to compete alongside fellow riding greats Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery in the International Jockeys' Challenge. Those days are the stuff of legend among local race fans and on Sunday, Head hopes his star mare Moonlight Cloud will etch her own name in Hong Kong racing folklore with victory in the Hong Kong Mile, a race that he hopes will not be her swansong.
"Her future depends on Sunday," said Head, after watching his Hong Kong Mile favorite stretch out over on the Sha Tin all-weather track Wednesday morning.
The French mare worked on the all-weather, covering 800 meters in an easy :57.80.
"I liked her piece of work this morning over the dirt track, which rode a bit softer than the previous days, according to the mare's rider, Philippe Coppin," Head said. "Moonlight Cloud was very cautious, but she gave me the impression that she's at her best for Sunday's race. I don't think that she will have to gallop over the turf this week. She's good. I hope that she won't let us down on Sunday.
"This track had not been built the first time I came to ride over here, some 30 or 40 years ago," said Head, clearly amused at the thought. "We were touring the southern hemisphere with the likes of Piggott and Eddery. Happy Valley is not what it stands for now. It was only a minor track to us back then, but it was good fun too. Today, Hong Kong racing is competing in an altogether different league!"
A six-time French champion jockey in his day, Head admitted that he is very excited to return to Happy Valley on Wednesday night, to witness the International Jockeys' Championship, but moreover is he anticipating his five-year-old super mare Moonlight Cloud's tilt at the Hong Kong Mile.
"This could be her last race," remarked the trainer, who also oversaw the career of another great mare, the triple Breeders' Cup Mile heroine Goldikova. "Her future hangs on Sunday's race. As a trainer, I'd love to have her another season but the decision is up to George Strawbridge, who bred and owns her. He's a sportsman but the mare will be six years old soon and as a breeder, surely he can't wait to take her to stud. You don't want her to race one time too many. It is the kind of thing that you cannot really anticipate. One day, they lose it, the will to win. Moonlight Cloud has had an easier career than Goldikova though. She never had to compete with the likes of Zarkava, so who knows?"
Moonlight Cloud has dazzled European racing with some sensational performances that have earned her six Group 1 wins, and none has been more impressive than her most recent, a surging last-to-first demolition of her rivals in the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp in October. She also has two notable defeats on her record, an arguably unlucky head second to the great Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2012 and her lackluster eighth when fancied for that year's Breeders' Cup Mile, her only previous venture outside of Europe.
In the wake of that Breeders' Cup Mile disappointment in California, Head and Strawbridge decided some time ago that Hong Kong in December was the ideal fit for the Invincible Spirit mare, who is aiming to go unbeaten in five races this term. On the form book, she will be hard to beat.
"George Strawbridge decided to send her here rather than another tilt at the Breeders' Cup because he figured she would be better off on this racecourse," Head said. "The mare has developed year after year since she arrived at my yard but never as much as last winter oddly enough. She has become stronger but wiser too and she's much easier to deal with nowadays."
McEvoy wins Hong Kong jockey challenge
Wednesday's International Jockeys' Championship could arguably boast the best dozen jockeys ever assembled for the competition at Happy Valley, in Hong Kong, and indeed anywhere in the world. The jockeys had ridden in excess of 24,000 winners between them, but it was just one race that decided the championship, which fully lived up to its lofty expectations with the title going right down to the wire in the fourth leg, with five jockeys in with a chance of securing at least a share of the title.
Kerrin McEvoy got his evening off to the best possible start when producing a masterly ride from the front on the 26-1 longshot Home With Glory to land the first leg, keeping enough up his sleeve to hold off the challenges of the favorite Winning Mascot (Suguru Hamanaka) and Redwood Baby under Ryan Moore, who was outpaced early but finished with real purpose to get up for third.
Christophe Soumillon struck for Belgium in the second leg, taking a leaf out of the McEvoy book, riding Flying Chaparral from the front. He broke alertly from Gate 8 and never relinquished that position, easily repelling all challengers on the 3-1 favorite. In the process he provided a double for trainer Francis Lui, who had also saddled first leg winner Home With Glory.
"This was my best shot of the night. I was able to set the pace I wanted up front and he responded well," Soumillon said. "With the rides I have to come, and Kerrin (McEvoy) scoring more points, I might struggle to be better than third." A correct prediction as it turned out.
Kerrin McEvoy was again amongst the points taking six for his second-place finish aboard Expectator, while Mike Smith finished third for four points on the Danny Shum-trained Southern Springs. After two legs McEvoy led on 18 points from Soumillon on 12, Hamanaka on 6, with Smith and Moore on 4 points each.
Mirco Demuro moved into contention when driving out the Caspar Fownes-trained Fun 'N' Games to take the third leg. Richard Hughes on second-placed St Yazin and Zac Purton aboard third-placed Rocket Let Win were both scoring their first points of the night. So going into the final leg McEvoy led on 18 points from Demuro and Soumillon on 12 each, with Hamanaka and Hughes on 6 points, and Moore, Smith and Purton on 4 points apiece. It was now all down to the crucial fourth leg.
In the final leg McEvoy finished out of the points, but, fortunately for him, so did Demuro and Soumillon his closest rivals, leaving the Australian in an unassailable position. Fellow Australian Zac Purton ran out the winner of the fourth leg on the Tony Cruz-trained favorite Majestic Anthem, from Maxime Guyon on the Caspar Fownes-trained Formula Won, with Ryan Moore on Great Charm back in third spot. Purton's win propelled him into second place on 16 points ahead of Christophe Soumillon in third place on countback, but clear on 18 points was Kerrin McEvoy.
"I'm very delighted to have won this event, it's a great competition," McEvoy said. "There are some great names on this trophy, and to have my name on it too is a great thrill. I was on an outsider in the first leg, but he got a cheap lead and had enough kick to hold on. In the second I drew a nice gate, and was able to save energy for the final furlongs and getting points was a bonus.
"It's been a fantastic experience riding with such greats as Gary Stevens and Mike Smith, and I'm grateful to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for inviting me here, and I hope I can come again. I last rode at Happy Valley in 2004, but never rode a winner, so it was nice to put that right tonight."
British trainer banned five years for steroids
British-based trainer Gerard Butler has been banned from racing for five years by the British Horseracing Authority after admitting to seven breaches of the rules of racing stemming from his administration of medications containing the anabolic steroid stanozolol to nine horses in his care late last year.
In five of the nine cases, the drug in question was Sungate, and was administered by veterinarians. It was revealed during Butler's disciplinary hearing on November 18-19 that in the other four cases a drug called Rexogin, which contained stanozolol at 10 times the concentration of Sungate and is not approved for use in horses, was used, and was obtained and administered by Butler himself.
The situation first came to light in late February, when a visit to Butler's yard by the BHA yielded one positive test for stanozolol. Butler later admitted he had administered stanozolol to other horses in his care on the understanding from veterinarians that the substance did not breach the rules. Butler's seven charges surrounded his administration of the treatments himself, a practice that is restricted to licensed veterinarians, failing to keep adequate records, and "acting in a manner prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct, and/or good reputation of horse racing in Great Britain, failure to act with due regard to the interest of horses under his care, and failure to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety and welfare of horses under his care."
Adam Brickell, Director of Integrity, Legal and Risk for the BHA, said: "BHA's position, which was upheld by the Disciplinary Panel, was that the most serious charges related to Gerard Butler's gross failure to look after the best interests of four horses in his care, which amounted to conduct that was seriously prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of the sport. The gravity of the breaches of the Rules of Racing escalated when, in the course of cross-examination during the Disciplinary Panel hearing, Gerard Butler finally provided evidence as to where he had purchased the drug in question from, and admitted that the product he had administered himself to four horses was not the equine veterinary product Sungate, but instead an unlicensed stanozolol-based product called Rexogin, manufactured for use in humans. Furthermore, the Panel accepted that Butler had administered this product by intra-articular injection using a method restricted by law to qualified veterinary surgeons.
"The Panel also pointed to the fact that Butler took no veterinary advice before carrying out these procedures, did not have the horses properly assessed prior to their treatment, made no recording in his medication records of having injected the horses and that he subsequently allowed the horses to be treated by veterinary surgeons without informing them of the prior administrations. Furthermore, they noted that it is not appropriate for a trainer to say he is able to undertake an invasive veterinary procedure on the basis that he had seen veterinary surgeons performing the procedure, that he created unnecessary risks for the horses in obtaining the drug from an unlicensed source and that his behavior in administering the injections was consistent with the underhand and covert manner in which he purchased the drug.
"Taking this all into account, the Panel summarized that the actions of Butler represented 'an appalling breach of his duty to look after the interests of the horses in his care, and amounted to conduct that was seriously prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of horse racing in Great Britain.'
"The charges also related to five other positive samples taken from horses which were administered Sungate on the advice of and by a veterinary surgeon. The Rules are clear that the license holder, in this case Gerard Butler, is wholly responsible for the presence of prohibited substances in horses in his care and control. However, it remains of concern to BHA that a practicing vet regularly treating racehorses, and therefore presumably familiar with the Rules, should have recommended and administered such a product to a horse in a trainer's care or control.
“This is an area we are continuing to explore and consult on with a view to strengthening our position. If the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons chooses to follow up on this specific matter we would assist as required, as we have done on previous occasions.”
The 47-year-old Butler began training in 1998 after stints as assistant to Colin Hayes in Australia, D. Wayne Lukas in the U.S. and John Dunlop in the U.K. He recorded his most important victory in his second season when garnering the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown with Compton Admiral.
Rose to Gold faces deep cast in My Charmer
The versatile Strathnaver figures to be a prominent contender. Winner of the 1 1/2-mile Bewitch in her second U.S. start, the Graham Motion trainee successfully shortened up to 1 1/16 miles when taking the $100,000 Lady Baltimore at Laurel two starts back. She exits a fourth in the 12-furlong Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct where she chased a tepid pace set by longshot winner Inimitable Romanee.
Multiple Grade 3 winner Somali Lemonade has not been particularly consistent over the past couple of years, but did earn her first stakes win since 2011 when taking the July 2 Dr. James Penny Memorial at Parx. However, the Michael Matz was subsequently unplaced three times in the Ballston Spa, Flower Bowl Invitational and Cardinal Handicap.
Awesome Flower, a stakes winner at Canterbury and Presque Isle Downs earlier this year, returns to the turf after finishing a belated third in the Chilukki at Churchill Downs.
Older males will also have a chance to travel nine furlongs on the Calder turf Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap.
Other potential contenders in the Hooper are the three-year-olds Sr. Quisqueyano, who beat Csaba by more than two lengths in the $100,000 Quality Road at Gulfstream in early October, and Valid, who coasted by more than 23 lengths in the slop in a Gulfstream allowance two weeks ago.
Eighttofasttocatch (Not for Love) goes for his third stakes win in succession in Saturday's $100,000 Broad Brush at Laurel over 1 1/8 miles. The seven-year-old gelding romped in his two previous starts over the strip, taking the Maryland Million Classic by 3 1/4 lengths and the Jennings Handicap by six lengths. His main rivals will be A. P. Cino (Indy Wind) and Ponzi Scheme (Sunday Break), second and third in the $150,000 Swatara at Penn National last time; Grade 3 veteran Gourmet Dinner (Trippi); and the West Virginia-bred aces Lucy's Bob Boy (Flatter) and Fed High (Crypto Star). Also on Saturday, Jessethemarine (With Distinction) will attempt to bag his second stakes win in the $100,000 Marylander at seven furlongs. The juvenile colt rallied to win the $100,000 James F. Lewis III by a neck over six panels last month. Other contenders include Parx allowance winner Classic Giacnroll (Giacomo) and recent graduate Extrasexyhippzster (Stroll). The first stakes on the program, the $100,000 Gin Talking for two-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, on paper figures to be a showdown between three-time winner Respectful Wishes (Fairbanks) and Aqueduct maiden winner Mamdooha (Daaher)...
Juddmonte Farm, the subject of recent speculations regarding its potential sale, will not be sold, according to a release from the farm. Douglas Erskine Crum, Chief Executive of the Juddmonte Group, noted that a review had been conducted of Juddmonte's worldwide operations, with Prince Khalid Abdullah deciding that his visions for breeding and racing at the highest level remain unchanged. "Like any other operation, the Juddmonte Group continually reviews its operations, but the media reports about an imminent sale of the group are unfounded," Erskine Crum said. "His Highness is looking forward to continuing to race his horses at the highest international level in Europe and the U.S., particularly his homebreds. There will continue to be two operational centers -- the farms near Lexington in the U.S. and Banstead Manor Stud, with its outstanding stallions, in Europe."...
Owner-trainer Tom McCarthy, the septuagenarian former high school principal who became the feel-good Kentucky Derby week story of 2009 after he saddled his lone horse General Quarters to win Keeneland's Blue Grass (G1), brought a three-horse stable to Fair Grounds last weekend and plans a winter campaign for all three in the Crescent City. Following disappointing performances in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes that spring, General Quarter was given time off following injuries sustained and came back to the track in time for Fair Grounds' 2009-2010 season, where the gray colt was runner-up in four straight local outings that included the New Orleans (G2) and Mineshaft (G3) Handicaps. Undaunted, McCarthy and General Quarters returned to the Twin Spires oval that spring and won the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) over the Louisville lawn on Kentucky Derby Day. Now, at the age of 78, McCarthy, fresh off his weekend drive down from Louisville, was at the barn Monday morning to breeze his new juvenile colt Danzig Gold (Flower Alley), owned in partnership with his son Tim, five furlongs in 1:03. He came back to breeze three-year-old filly Greek Bird (Monarchos), owned by Jerry Hill, a half-mile in :51 Wednesday. A third father-son McCarthy-owned horse, Brink of War (Defer), won his most recent start at Churchill on November 23. "It's good to be back here in New Orleans," McCarthy said Wednesday morning. "I couldn't make it down last winter because my wife, Pat, and I were both (seriously) injured in a car accident and were still recovering throughout the year. But I'm back now and looking forward to the new Fair Grounds season. Hopefully, we can have some luck with these three horses I've brought with me this winter."...
Highlighted by the inaugural $1.1 million Land of Enchantment Day and a significant increase in total wagering handle, Zia Park conducted its ninth season of live racing that concluded on Tuesday. The November 27 Land of Enchantment Day, highlighted by the inaugural $300,000 Zia Park Oaks won by California invader Unusual Way (Unusual Heat), set a single-day handle record at Zia Park of $1.56 million. The previous record was $1.02 million from New Mexico Cup Day in November 2009. Overall handle increased by 14.29 percent for the 56-day Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meet, the third year in a row that overall handle has increased at Zia Park. Daily average handle was $435,229, a 10.22-percent increase from last year when a 54-day meet was conducted. This year Zia Park introduced a new wager, the Hobbs Hi-5 Jackpot offered on the final race each day, which requires picking the first five finishers in the correct order. Overall field size increased from an average of 7.98 in 2012 to 8.06 in 2013. "This season by far exceeded our expectations," Zia Park Director of Racing Operations Fred Hutton said. "Everything came together so well. The revamped racing surface put together by new track consultant Tony Martinez Sr. and his crew received excellent reviews from horsemen. Trainers from all over the country and even Canada got on board for our big races. We're doing some big things at Zia Park, and we will look to continue that improvement into 2014." Jockey Ry Eikleberry won his first Thoroughbred riding title at Zia Park with 58 wins. Justin Evans captured his second Zia Park Thoroughbred training title in a row with 60 victories. Evans is also in the top-10 in wins nationally this year. David Wilbanks was the leading Thoroughbred owner with 12 wins. For Quarter Horses, Esgar Ramirez was top jockey with 43 wins, Michael Joiner leading trainer with 17 victories, and J and M Racing and Farm top owner with six wins. Zia Park is currently scheduled to hold a 56-day meet in 2014 from September 6 to December 2...
Apprentice jockey Ashley Broussard, a 21-year-old native of Lafayette, Louisiana, has moved her tack to Fair Grounds this season. The daughter of former jockey Clarence Broussard came on the track at age 18, accepted the first mount of her career last spring at Churchill Downs, broke her maiden at Kentucky's Ellis Park last summer, also rode sporadically in Indiana and has accepted one mount at Louisiana's Delta Downs to date. "I broke my maiden on a filly named With Excellence (With Distinction) at Ellis," Broussard said. "She was the only filly in a race against boys and I was the only girl jockey in the race so they made a big deal about it at the time. She was pretty much of a long shot in the race but she won the race pretty easy -- by about seven lengths, I think. They got me pretty good after the race," said Broussard, speaking of racing's traditional baptizing of apprentice jockeys after their first win. "They got me with eggs, ice cold water, baby powder and ice cream, but it was worth every second. That night when I left the track I must have had a million phone calls waiting for me. I talked to my parents back in Lafayette. They had watched the race on simulcast. It was all pretty awesome. Since the beginning of the season down here, my business has been pretty steady," she concluded. "I haven't won any races here yet but I've had a few seconds and some thirds. That's what matters at this point, just to keep hitting the board with long shots." From 71-career mounts so far in her fledgling career, Broussard has three wins, 11 seconds and seven third-place finishes.
Night School is providing a direct archive link to the previous Night School session with a weekly Night School Rewind each Wednesday. Click here to enter the archive, where you can read all of Tuesday's night's interaction as well as watch all videos in the session. Fans also can register in the archives to be eligible for weekly and seasonal prizes. Tuesday's Week 40 Night School lesson was entitled "Fans' Choice -- Swinging for the Big Hit." It provided tips about unearthing price horses and how to attack a big play.
On the Florida worktab
Grade 2 winner Revolutionary (War Pass), unraced since a fifth in the Belmont S. (G1), breezed a half-mile in :48 1/5 over the fast dirt at Palm Meadows on Wednesday.
Multiple stakes winner Silverette (Street Sense), fourth as the favorite in Franklin County last out, motored four furlongs in a bullet :46 2/5 on the firm turf.
Pleuven (Turtle Bowl), a juvenile stakes winner in France this year, covered the same ground in :49 4/5 in advance of his U.S. bow.
Stakes victor Sleepless Knight (War Chant), a close fifth most recently in the With Anticipation at Delaware, was timed in :48 1/5.
Grade 3 winner Lea (First Samurai), fifth in the Fayette (G2) on October 26, recorded a half-mile in :50 on the fast dirt at Payson Park.
English stakes hero Slumber (Cacique), sixth as the favorite in the Canadian International (Can-G1) on October 27, logged the bullet in :48 1/5.
Flashy Gray (Flashy Bull), unraced since a second in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), turned three panels in :38.
On the California worktab
Grade 2 winner Blueskiesnrainbows (English Channel), runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Marathon (G2), completed six furlongs in 1:13 1/5 over the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park on Wednesday.
Pontchatrain (War Front), who notched her second straight stakes triumph when taking the Senator Ken Maddy (G3) on November 2, traveled five furlongs in 1:00 1/5.
Grade 2 scorer Shakin It Up (Midnight Lute), unraced since a fourth in the Sunland Derby (G3), drilled the bullet in :59 1/5.
Stakes winner Purim's Dancer (Purim), fifth in the Maddy, toured four furlongs in :50 1/5.
Viva Carina (Giant's Causeway), unraced since being disqualified and placed second in the Santa Barbara (G2) in April, stepped three furlongs in :36 2/5 on the fast track at Santa Anita.
On the Louisiana worktab
Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) winner Solitary Ranger (U S Ranger), who exits a ninth as the favorite in the Breeders' Futurity (G1), breezed four furlongs in :50 1/5 over the fast main track at Fair Grounds on Wednesday.
Beat the Blues (Great Pyramid), unraced since capturing the Winning Colors (G3) in late May, posted the bullet in :48.
Stakes winner Maybe So (More Than Ready), third when making his second start of the year in an optional claiming event at Churchill Downs, stepped three furlongs in :38 3/5.
For Thursday or Next Raceday
DECEMBER 5, 2013
by John Mucciolo
A slew of major racing took place at the Big A over the Holiday Weekend.
Cigar Mile (G1): Preston Stables LLC's FLAT OUT (Flatter) ranged into contention in early stretch and wore down his foes en route to a 1 1/4-length score for conditioner Bill Mott. The hard-trying seven-year-old defeated an outstanding field in the weekend feature and finished off one mile on the fast main track in 1:34 3/5 with Junior Alvarado in the irons.
Remsen S. (G2): Lane's End and Dell Ridge Farm's HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy) was closer than usual in second early, got passed in early stretch but battled back to get up late by a nose under Javier Castellano. The Shug McGaughey trainee stopped the teletimer in 1:52 4/5 for the 1 1/8 miles.
Demoiselle S. (G2): Mike Repole's STOPCHARGINGMARIA (Tale of the Cat) tracked in second to the top of the lane, took the lead in midstretch and held on gamely late beneath Castellano. The Todd Pletcher trainee endured nine furlongs on the main oval in 1:52 3/5.
Go for Wand S. (G2): James Riccio's ROYAL LAHAINA (Chapel Royal) swept to the front in early stretch and held a safe margin throughout the lane in posting a 2 1/2-length upset for trainer Todd Pletcher. The five-year-old mare went one mile in 1:36 2/5 under Irad Ortiz Jr.
Comely S. (G3): Godolphin homebred WEDDING TOAST (Street Sense) sped to the front soon after the start and gamely held off a stubborn foe for much of the stretch to post a head score under Castellano, who won a total of five races on Saturday. The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained sophomore filly clocked nine panels in 1:49 4/5.
Fall Highweight H. (G3): Antonio Miuccio's PALACE (City Zip) rated kindly near midpack early on and put in a fine closing burst to win by 1 1/2 lengths under Cornelio Velasquez. Trained by Linda Rice, the four-year-old colt sped six panels in a swift 1:09 4/5.
A total of 38 races were held at the Jamaica, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 37 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 58 percent of the wins during the week. From 36 races on the main oval, seven animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (19 percent), while none of the two races on the lawn was taken all the way on the front.
The main oval played mostly fairly all week on the oft-wet main surface, with Thursday being best for the speed types with four wire jobs from nine races. We didn't see speed dominate the rest of the week, but as we've stated earlier, with so many winning favorites we can not call the main course biased. Stalking or pressing the tempo off the rail still seems like the best strategy.
HORSES TO WATCH
4TH -- LEROY JR. (Leroidesanimaux) took command early and drew off to a fine tally for conditioner Chad Brown. The four-year-old gelding came home in a strong :24 2/5 under mild urging and gave the impression of a runner who could run farther for sure.
1ST -- KNOCKHER OFF (Unbridled's Song) chased the early leader nearly every step of the way and the three-year-old bravely got a nose down on the line in a spirited allowance score under Junior Alvarado. The James Jerkens trainee has now won two in a row and could progress into a good one with more efforts like this one.
3RD -- SEEKER (Hard Spun) took a short lead turning for home and held off a trio of challenges for much of the stretch in a very courageous tally for Steve Asmussen. The four-year-old gelding continues his strong form run, finishing in the money in seven of eight races in 2013.
7TH -- KEEP RIGHT (Street Cry) dueled for the lead, took over the top spot in the lane and battled on well to be a fine second in a very good debut run. Trainer John Kimmel is not known for his prowess with first timers, so we'll keep a close eye on this juvenile filly going forward.
2ND -- DAME DOROTHY (Bernardini) broke slowest of all but gained some momentum approaching the turn for home and proved best in a sharp debut tally beneath Javier Castellano. The Todd Pletcher pupil is kin to a Group 1 winner on the lawn and we expect her to be a very versatile performer with expected progression. We're always fond of debut winners that score at seven furlongs, as well.
5TH -- JUBA (Tapit) had no chance with the sharp winner but ran a big one in his first career outing, falling just a head shy of second for James Jerkens, who is superb with second-time starters. We envision this one graduating before long.
6TH -- GOT LUCKY (A.P. Indy) was a bit unlucky to be second and seems to have a very bright future. We assume she will be among the top sophomore fillies in 2014 with steady improvement.
8TH -- LONG RIVER (A.P. Indy) is really starting to put it all together and the colt could be a useful handicap horse next year with continued improvement. The sophomore is bred to be a real nice one and to get better with age, and we have a hunch he just might for McLaughlin.
A Look Ahead
No graded races are carded for this weekend at Aqueduct.
Click here for the monthly December Calendar
At a Glance
AT A GLANCE SCHEDULE
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