American Pharoah displays 'very high energy' in first Saratoga gallop
Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes and exercise rider Jorge Alvarez were delighted with how American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) took to the Saratoga track on Thursday, one day after shipping in from Del Mar.
In other news building up to Saturday's Travers (G1):
Kiaran McLaughin, trainer of Frosted (Tapit), explains why the pace scenario may not redound to Pharoah's benefit.
Trainer Rick Violette is still trying to decide whether to run Upstart (Flatter) in the "Midsummer Derby."
Trainer Keith Desormeaux observes that Texas Red (Afleet Alex) is blossoming ahead of the Travers.
Also, check out the blog for a more jocular look at what it might take to beat the Triple Crown champion in the Travers.
Bradester, Stellar Wind, Lady Shipman headline stakes
Bradester (Lion Heart), a potential leading contender for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) later this year, will attempt to stretch his speed over nine furlongs Sunday when he heads a field of six in the $150,000 Philip H. Iselin (G3) at Monmouth Park.
A comfortable winner of the Salvator Mile (G3) and Monmouth Cup (G2) in his last two outings, Bradester may prove difficult to catch breaking from post 5.
Valid (Medaglia d'Oro), third in the Iselin last year and subsequently a Grade 3 winner, placed behind Bradester in his last two starts and will break inside that rival this go around. Albano (Istan), meanwhile, will attempt to rebound from two unplaced efforts at Mountaineer and Penn National. Albano most notably captured the Pegasus (G3) over the Monmouth strip last season.
Completing the field are the Todd Pletcher-trained, allowance-winning duo of Anchor Dawn (Tapit) and Matterhorn (Tapit), and dual Belmont allowance scorer Matrooh (Distorted Humor) from the Chad Brown stable.
At Del Mar Sunday, Stellar Wind (Curlin) will be an overwhelming favorite to capture the $100,000 Torrey Pines (G3) over one mile. The chestnut captured the Santa Anita Oaks (G1), Summertime Oaks (G2), and Santa Ysabel (G3) earlier this year, with her only loss being a troubled fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
The feature at Saratoga on Sunday is the $100,000 Smart N Fancy, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares. The three-year-old Lady Shipman (Midshipman) has won seven of nine career starts, including three straight stakes. She's the 4-5 morning line favorite, while 2014 Smart N Fancy winner Free as a Bird (Hard Spun) was made 2-1 in the field of six.
Glen Hill to sponsor Kentucky Downs stakes, aid in equine research
On a race card organized to promote equine research, Glen Hill Farm will salute one of its top winners by sponsoring the $150,000 One Dreamer on September 10 at Kentucky Downs.
The One Dreamer is for fillies and mares which are non-winners of a stakes race in 2015. It will be run at 1 mile and 70 yards over Kentucky Downs' unique, European-style grass course.
The track provided naming sponsorship opportunities for the One Dreamer and eight overnight races to sponsors making specific donations to Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.
Sponsors will be provided hospitality for themselves and guests and will present trophies for the races they sponsor.
"Glen Hill Farm is honored that Kentucky Downs has named a race after One Dreamer," said Craig Bernick, who in 2008 was appointed president and CEO of the Ocala, Florida, farm by his grandfather, Leonard Lavin. "One Dreamer was our first starter at the Dueling Grounds (the former name of Kentucky Downs), and we had a wonderful day at the track when she won the Rachel Jackson Stakes in 1993.
"One Dreamer returned to that track for the same race the next year and didn't fare as well, but she followed that race up with a win in the 1994 Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1), so Kentucky Downs played a very important role in her career."
"We deeply appreciate Kentucky Downs' innovative way to support equine research," said Edward L. Bowen, president of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. "This initiative was very successful when it was introduced last year, and the foundation benefits immensely from the exposure and sponsorship revenue."
As of August 28, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation had secured additional race naming sponsorships from Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Taylor Made Sales, Starlight Racing, OwnerView, and Wedgewood Farm.
NY Turf Writers Cup: Bob Le Beau romps, Divine Fortune fatally injured
Thursday's $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (NSA-G1) was marred by the fatal fall of 2013 Eclipse Award champion Divine Fortune (Royal Anthem). After customarily leading throughout, William Pape and Jonathan Sheppard's homebred came to grief at the final fence. Numerous social media reports communicated the grim news: the 12-year-old warrior suffered a broken shoulder and had to be euthanized.
Just as Divine Fortune fell, the ultimately victorious Bob Le Beau (Big Bad Bob) was ranging up to challenge. Patiently ridden by Jack Doyle, the Irish import bided his time near the rear early, and traveled powerfully while angling in to save ground for the final turn. The Elizabeth Voss charge found a seam at the head of the lane, and jumped that fateful fence in unison with Divine Fortune, before going on to romp by 7 1/4 lengths.
Schoodic (Tiznow) rallied to finish a clear second. Charminster (Broadway Flyer), who had to avoid Divine Fortune, wound up third.
The 2-1 favorite Demonstrative (Elusive Quality), seeking his third Turf Writers Cup trophy, was eased up on the final turn but returned to be unsaddled on his own power. He's a stablemate of Divine Fortune, in a heartbreaking day for the barn.
Bob Le Beau was a multiple Group 3-placed stakes winner in Ireland for Jessica Harrington before shipping stateside.
Palace Malice retired to stud at Three Chimneys
Palace Malice (Curlin), an Eclipse Award finalist as champion older male of 2014 who returned from injury in hopes of more success in 2015, has been retired. Connections made the announcement Thursday, five days after he worked a half-mile in :47 4/5 ahead of a projected tilt at the September 5 Woodward (G1).
Hero of the 2013 Belmont S. (G1), the Todd Pletcher trainee turned a rare double in last year's Metropolitan H. (G1). The five-year-old will now enter stud at Three Chimneys near Midway, Kentucky, in 2016.
"It is with great disappointment that we announce the retirement of Palace Malice," Dogwood Stable's President Cot Campbell said. "He is the horse of a lifetime who has brought our partners exciting memories that will live on forever. He did it all for us, winning a classic and the Met Mile, and a whole lot more along the way.
"After getting a clean bill of health in November subsequent to an uncharacteristic performance in the Whitney (G1) last year, I owed it to my partners and the fans to give it our best shot to see if we could bring the mighty son of Curlin back in 2015. Despite our sporting effort, it was not meant to be."
Called "the best horse in America" after capturing four graded Stakes in a row in 2014, including the stallion-making Met Mile, Palace Malice is the leading earner by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, and retires with career earnings of $2,691,135. His 19-7-4-2 record also reflects victories the Jim Dandy (G2), the Gulfstream Park H. (G2), the New Orleans H. (G2) and the Westchester S. (G3).
"Palace Malice was all class from day one," Pletcher said. "He was one of those rare horses whose raw speed allowed him to dominate his division as a miler yet whose stamina had him winning the Belmont against the best of his generation.
"He was the most versatile horse I have ever trained, and one of the best. You don't see such a talented, multi-dimensional horse like this very often. To win the Belmont one year and come back the next year and win the Met Mile in 1:33 2/5 -- it's an unbelievable accomplishment, and indicative of his exceptional talent."
"Palace Malice is a valuable addition to the strengthening roster at Three Chimneys, as he possesses a superb physical to go along with an amazing body of work as a racehorse," said Doug Cauthen, Vice Chair of the Three Chimneys' Board. "He sprinted at two, went the classic distance at three, and showed off his miler versatility at four.
"The retirement of Palace Malice speaks further to Three Chimneys' narrative of collaborating with like-minded partners so as to expand its base. John Malone's Bridlewood Farm will be a cornerstone partner in the horse, and we anticipate that a coalition of shareholder partners will be added over the next month to ensure this extraordinary horse's chances to succeed at stud.
Grant Williamson, Director of Stallion Nominations and Sales at Three Chimneys, added, "Palace Malice has the sire power, the looks, and the backing to be a commercial success as well as to become an important stallion, and we look forward to showing him during the September Sales."
A stud fee is yet to be announced.
Flintshire holds class edge in Sword Dancer
Leading European star Flintshire (Dansili) should find his preferred firm ground when he faces seven others in the $1 million Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday. The two-time Group 1 winner, who has placed at the highest-level in England, France, Dubai, and the U.S., figures hard to beat in the 1 1/2-mile grass fixture.
Later on Saturday's card, Grade 1 winner Tepin (Bernstein) looks to rebound from a photo-finish loss in the Diana (G1) in the $400,000 Ballston Spa over 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The Mark Casse-trained filly faces eight others, including 2013 Just a Game (G1) winner Coffee Clique (Medaglia d'Oro).
For the full preview of these turf features, visit the TwinSpires blog.
Private Zone looms large in Forego; Holy Boss tops King's Bishop
The Travers Day undercard features six graded stakes, including five Grade 1s, and male sprinters will be in the spotlight in the $700,000 Forego (G1) and $500,000 King's Bishop (G1). Both races will be held at seven furlongs.
Private Zone (Macho Uno), the early favorite for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1), will be the horse to beat in the Forego. The Jorge Navarro-trained gelding has posted dominant wins in his last two attempts at the distance, the Belmont Sprint (G3) and Churchill Downs S. (G2).
Holy Boss (Street Boss), a 2 1/4-length winner of the Amsterdam (G3) earlier in the meet, is the top draw in the King's Bishop but will face a deep field that includes Competitive Edge (Super Saver), March (Blame), Mr. Z (Malibu Moon) and Runhappy (Super Saver).
For the full preview of the sprint features, visit the TwinSpires blog.
Personal Ensign features Stopchargingmaria, Untapable; La Verdad in Ballerina
Stopchargingmaria (Tale of the Cat) got the best of reigning champion three-year-old filly and Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) heroine Untapable (Tapit) in the Shuvee H. (G3) last out, and on Saturday those two will face-off yet again in the $750,000 Personal Ensign S. (G1) at Saratoga.
A field of six has been entered for the 1 1/8-mile contest, which also boasts last-out Delaware H. (G1) victress Sheer Drama (Burning Roma).
One race later, La Verdad (Yes It's True) tops an eight-distaffer field in the $500,000 Ballerina S. (G1) going seven furlongs. That five-year-old mare is riding a four-race win streak that includes the Honorable Miss H. (G2), Vagrancy H. (G3) and Distaff H. (G3).
American Pharoah to start from post 2 in 10-horse Travers
Owned and bred by Zayat Stables, the Bob Baffert-trained colt will be seeking his ninth straight stakes victory. Regular rider Victor Espinoza has the assignment in the 1 1/4-mile Mid-Summer Derby.
His two main rivals, Frosted (Frosted) and Texas Red (Afleet Alex), come next on the morning line at 6-1 and 8-1, respectively.
Rounding out the field are Upstart (post 1, 15-1), Mid Ocean (Post 2, 50-1), Frammento (post 5, 30-1), Keen Ice (post 7, 12-1), Tale of Verve (post 8, 30-1), King of New York (post 9, 50-1) and Smart Transition (post 10, 20-1).
Smarty Jones highlight of Parx Fall Festival opener
An average of $500,000 in purses will be distributed daily as Parx Racing kicks off its Fall Festival on Saturday with the $300,000 Smarty Jones (G3) the feature on the program.
The Fall Festival, which runs through October 20, is highlighted by the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) and $1 million Cotillion (G1) on September 19.
The Smarty Jones, a prep for the Pennsylvania Derby, is headed by Grade 3 winner and classic-placed Divining Rod.
For more, visit the TwinSpires blog.
Remembering Hurricane Katrina 10 years later
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