Phone: (800)354-9206

        Printer Friendly Page 

Racing Headlines

Irish Mission looking to bounce back in La Prevoyante

La Prevoyante candidate Irish Mission prevailed as the favorite in the Glens Falls at Saratoga (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Overmatched by some of the world's best in last month's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, Irish Mission figures to improve dropping in class for Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 La Prevoyante Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

The La Prevoyante is joined by another ex-Calder fixture, the Grade 3, $100,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap, also at 12 furlongs on the grass, as well as the Grade 3, $100,000 Mr. Prospector, a six-furlong sprint, on Saturday's program.

Irish Mission trailed the field of 11 in the Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita, but only by a margin of 6 1/4 lengths. Previously, the Giant's Causeway mare had scored a Grade 3 win in the Glens Falls at Saratoga and placed in the Rodeo Drive, Matchmaker, Sheepshead Bay, and Belmont Gold Cup, the latter against males going two miles at Belmont.

Irish import Photo Call appears to have loads of upside. The Graham Motion-trained sophomore captured her U.S. debut in an October 24 entry-level allowance at Keeneland. Overcoming an early hop, the daughter of Galileo cruised home by 3 1/2 lengths over a pair of next-out winners, including Costenia, who won by five lengths at Gulfstream earlier this month.

Trainer Chad Brown has entered the sophomore Cay Dancer, who makes her U.S. debut after handicap wins at Sandown and Newbury in England over the summer. The Danehill Dancer miss will have Lasix administered for the La Prevoyante.

In addition to Irish Mission, Clement will also saddle his Grade 3-placed pair of Maximova and Tabreed, while Brown is also represented by Clearbrook, who ran third in the Orchid in her last trip over the local sod.

The three-year-old Divine Oath will face older horses for the first time in the W.L. McKnight (Four Footed Fotos)

The Todd Pletcher stable has two strong candidates for the W.L. McKnight in Unitarian and Divine Oath. Unitarian overcame a slow pace to upset the Elkhorn at Keeneland last April, but was not as his best over considerably softer ground in the Sycamore and Red Smith Handicap in his last two starts. The Pulpit colt loves Gulfstream, though, winning twice in three previous attempts over the course.

Divine Oath, a three-year-old, registered wins in the American Derby at Arlington and Kent at Delaware Park earlier this year, and most recently finished a half-length third in the Twilight Derby on the Breeders' Cup Friday undercard. The Broken Vow colt will race beyond 1 1/4 miles for the first time in the McKnight.

North Slope and Slumber, separated by a neck in the $100,000 Bowl Game at Belmont October 19, renew acquaintance on Saturday, as will Manchurian High, Calvados, and St. Albans Boy, who occupied the top three slots in the Laurel Turf Cup in late September.

Others of note in the McKnight lineup are PTHA President's Cup winner Margano, third in the Red Smith last time, and Fixador, a multiple Group 1-winning Brazilian who adds Lasix after finishing up the track in his U.S. bow at Gulfstream Park West on November 30.

The Mr. Prospector has attracted a field of eight, including three of the top four finishers from the November 16 Kenny Noe Jr. at Gulfstream Park West. Victorious that day by 3 3/4 lengths was Speechify, who began his career winning three of his first five starts at Gulfstream.

Defending his title in the Mr. Prospector is Singanothersong, who has placed just once in three subsequent outings and trailed the field of eight in the Kenny Noe. The Mr. Prospector field also includes 2013 Kenny Noe hero Simmstown, Risk Factor, Little Daddy, Calamondin, Mongolian Saturday, and stakes debuter Master Blender.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at

Don't Tell Sophia gearing up for another Oaklawn campaign

Don't Tell Sophia is scheduled to work soon for an upcoming Oaklawn campaign (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

Don't Tell Sophia, the most accomplished older female runner based at Oaklawn the last two years, arrived Saturday and is scheduled to work this weekend in preparation for her 2015 debut, possibly the $100,000 Pippin Stakes on January 17, trainer Phil Sims said.

"She looks great right now," said Sims, who also co-owns Don't Tell Sophia. "She's all dappled out."

Don't Tell Sophia is the two-time defending champion of the Pippin and Bayakoa -- Oaklawn's second major two-turn race for older fillies and mares -- and also finished second in the 2013 Azeri, third in the 2013 Apple Blossom Handicap and third in the 2014 Azeri.

"We'll try the series of stakes here again and see how it goes," Sims said.

A quarter-crack forced Don't Tell Sophia to miss the 2014 Apple Blossom and sidelined her until the fall.

She resurfaced in Kentucky and made a late bid for divisional honors with a comeback victory in the $100,000 Locust Grove at Churchill Downs on September 6, then her most important career triumph to date, the $500,000 Spinster at Keeneland on October 5.

Don't Tell Sophia closed 2014 with runner-up finishes in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita and the $200,000 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs. She has earned $909,597 this year, pushing her career total to $1,382,479.

Sims purchased the six-year-old daughter of Congaree for only $1,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Sims said there was thought of retiring Don't Tell Sophia at the end of 2014, but he decided against it because the mare continues to flourish physically. He said she was in light training in Kentucky before arriving in Hot Springs to prepare for what will be her final year of racing.

"We'll take her through the series here, and if she does well, we'll give her the summer off and then bring her back for a few races in the fall," Sims said. "That will be it."

Sims said Joe Rocco Jr., who is scheduled ride at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting, will continue as Don't Tell Sophia's regular pilot. Rocco was aboard Don't Tell Sophia for her victories in the Locust Grove and Spinster.

Following the Pippin, Oaklawn's series of two-turn stakes race for older fillies and mares continues with the $100,000 Bayakoa on February 15; the $300,000 Azeri on March 14; and the $600,000 Apple Blossom on April 10.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at

Charles Town reveals 2015 stakes schedule

The Grade 2, $1,500,000 Charles Town Classic, Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks and West Virginia Breeders' Classics XXIX will again headline the stakes calendar at Charles Town in the upcoming year following the schedule's recent approval provided by the West Virginia Racing Commission.

The 2015 stakes action at Charles Town will kick off on April 18 with the centerpiece of the track's season -- the Charles Town Classic -- as well as six other stakes on the 13-race program. With its $1,500,000 purse, the Charles Town Classic continues to occupy the top spot as the richest race in the United States outside of the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup, a distinction it shared in 2014 with the Whitney at Saratoga.

The 2014 Charles Town Classic saw Game On Dude's attempt to break John Henry's record as racing's all-time money earner among geldings derailed by Kent Desormeaux and Imperative, who stunned the defending champ by sweeping by him on the far turn and posting the biggest upset in the race's history at odds of 26-1. The show spot in the 2014 Charles Town Classic went to Moreno who would go on to take the Whitney later in the year.

While the Charles Town Classic will carry the same purse as it has the previous two years, the manner in which the purse is distributed will undergo a change for 2015.

The first $500,000 of the guaranteed purse will be set aside for horses having won some of the country's most prestigious races. The connections of a Kentucky Derby or Breeders' Cup Classic winner will each receive $200,000 of that amount for finishing the Charles Town Classic. Winners of the Preakness, Belmont Stakes, Breeders' Cup Distaff and Pacific Classic would be eligible to receive $100,000, with the connections of any other Grade 1 winner in the field eligible to receive $50,000 depending on how many winners of the aforementioned races compete. Any money not paid out from the original $500,000 will be added back to the remaining $1,000,000 and competed for among all runners as a standard purse would be.

"We want to lure some of the top horses in the division to Charles Town for the Charles Town Classic and hope this added wrinkle helps in doing so," said Erich Zimny, Charles Town's Vice President of Racing Operations. "We've seen how our fans responded to a Game On Dude, Commentator and some of the other top handicap horses who came into our race as accomplished as they did and see this as a more pointed and direct effort in terms of inducing the connections of those types of horses to send them here."

As has been the case since the Charles Town Classic's inception, the most lucrative race on the April 18 undercard will again be the $150,000 Sugar Maple for fillies and mares going seven furlongs. Joining the Sugar Maple will be the $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial and a quartet of $50,000 stakes for accredited West Virginia-breds.

While the purse division for the Charles Town Classic is new, so too is the day's start time, moved up to 12:45 p.m. (EDT) and run in the daytime versus the track's standard evening program.

The Charles Town Oaks will again serve as the marquee attraction on the track's seventh Race for the Ribbon card taking place on September 19. The Charles Town Oaks, run for the first time as a Grade 3 in 2014, will be run with a purse of $350,000, down from the $500,000 it its most recent renewal. Joining the Charles Town Oaks on September 19 will be the $100,000 Wild & Wonderful and the $100,000 Pink Ribbon as well as the three stakes for West Virginia-breds.

Including the seven restricted stakes conducted on the Charles Town Classic and Race for the Ribbon days, 16 stakes for West Virginia-breds, totaling $800,000 in purses are currently scheduled in 2015. Not included in that figure is the Tri-State Futurity, open to horses bred in West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia, which will take place on October 31.

Also not included in those totals is the third of Charles Town's event days -- West Virginia Breeders' Classics XXIX, which is slated for October 10, up one week from its traditional spot on the third Saturday in October. The races and purses for the day showcasing the top West Virginia-bred horses in training will be released at a later date. In 2014, West Virginia Breeders' Classics XXVIII was comprised of 9 races and $1,280,000 in available purse money. The evening's signature race, the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic, was won for a third time by Mark Russell's incredible eight-year-old gelding Russell Road.

All told, the 2015 Charles Town Stakes schedule is made up of 23 races worth a total of $3,150,000, excluding the West Virginia Breeders' Classics whose purses have not yet been finalized.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at

High Chaparral euthanized during colic surgery

High Chaparral made history when producing the first Breeders' Cup dead-heat with Johar (outside) in the 2003 Turf (Benoit Photos)

Dual Derby winner and two-time Breeders' Cup Turf hero High Chaparral has been euthanized at Fethard Equine Hospital in County Tipperary, Ireland, Coolmore Stud announced in a tweet on Sunday.

The 15-year-old son of Sadler's Wells was undergoing exploratory colic surgery due to a perforated intestine.

High Chaparral was honored with back-to-back Eclipse Awards in 2002-03 after taking those years' editions of the Breeders' Cup Turf. In the 2003 running, the Irish-bred bay helped produce the first, and to date only, dead-heat in Breeders' Cup history when getting his nose on the wire at the same moment as Johar. It was also the first time there was a repeat winner in the Turf.

The Breeders' Cup would be High Chaparral's final race and wrapped up an exceptional career that included victories in both the English and Irish Derbies in 2002 as well as wins in the Racing Post Trophy as a juvenile and Irish Champion as a four-year-old. He competed twice in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, finishing third both times in 2002-03.

Trained throughout his career by Aidan O'Brien for Michael B. Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier, High Chaparral retired with a 13-10-1-2 record have banked $5,391,888 in lifetime earnings.

High Chaparral began stud duties in 2004 at Coolmore Ireland and his first foals hit the ground running.

Shuttling between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, High Chaparral continued to sire both top class runners as well as breeding stock. Among those are Australian champion So You Think, European and English highweight Toronado, New Zealand champion Dundeel and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf hero Wrote, who began stud duty this year in Florida.

Another of High Chaparral's top offspring, Grade 1-winning English highweight Wigmore Hall, was euthanized September 13 after sustaining an injury at Doncaster.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at



DECEMBER 22, 2014

Champion High Chaparral dies

by Kelsey Riley

High Chaparral (Sadler's Wells) -- winner of the Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) and Irish Derby (Ire-G1), a pair of Breeders' Cup Turfs and a dual hemisphere sire for Coolmore -- was euthanized Sunday at Fethard Equine Hospital near Coolmore's Irish base during exploratory colic surgery. The 15-year-old had suffered a perforated intestine. Coolmore made the announcement via Twitter.

High Chaparral was bred in Co. Tipperary by Sean Coughlan, who at the time owned just three mares. He was the second foal out of the unraced Darshaan mare Kasora, a descendant of Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French One Thousand Guineas) winner Koblenza (Hugh Lupus), who was later purchased privately by John Magnier and went on to produce Dante Stakes (Eng-G2) winner Black Bear Island (Sadler's Wells) as well as the dams of stakes winners David Livingston (Galileo) and Smuggler's Cove (Fastnet Rock).

Sent to the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in 2000, High Chaparral commanded 270,000 guineas from Demi O'Byrne on behalf of Michael Tabor and returned to his county of birth to be trained at Ballydoyle by Aidan O'Brien. High Chaparral made just 13 starts over two years, but he won 10 of those and never finished off the board. He won six Group or Grade 1s, resulting in a pair of Eclipse Awards, and he was England and Ireland's top-rated middle distance three-year-old and top-rated older horse in Ireland.

One of High Chaparral's rare losses came in his debut at Punchestown in September 2001, when he finished second, beaten a short head, but the bay firmly turned the tables a week later, graduating by 2 1/2 lengths at Tipperary, and he wouldn't be beaten again for a year. High Chaparral smoothly navigated a significant class jump to take the Racing Post Trophy (Eng-G1) at Doncaster to cap his juvenile campaign, and he returned a seven-length winner of the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown in April. A victory in the Derby Trial Stakes (Ire-G3) over the same course followed a month later, and thus High Chaparral was firmly in line for the Epsom Derby on the first Saturday in June.

The main obstacle in his path, however, was his Ballydoyle stablemate Hawk Wing, who had won the National Stakes (Ire-G1) at The Curragh as a two-year-old and finished second to another Ballydoyle inmate, Rock of Gibraltar, in the English Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1). Stable rider Mick Kinane chose Hawk Wing, leaving Johnny Murtagh to ride High Chaparral for the first time, and Hawk Wing was dispatched the Derby favorite. His stamina limitations showed out in the end, however, and Hawk Wing went down by two lengths to High Chaparral. It was the second -- and second straight -- Derby score for O'Brien, who had taken the previous year's running with Galileo.

Like his future Coolmore studmate, High Chaparral would next take in the Irish Derby. And like Galileo, High Chaparral was sent off the heavy favorite and came home a decisive winner reunited with Kinane -- who would ride him for the remainder of his career -- becoming the 15th horse to complete the Derby double. He led home a Ballydoyle/Sadler's Wells trifecta that day, with Sholokhov and Ballingary in his wake.

A summer holiday ensued for High Chaparral and his next task was the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1) in October, where he would face elders for the first time. Racing prominently off the pace of his stablemate Black Sam Bellamy, High Chaparral stayed on bravely to be third to Marienbard (Caerleon) and Sulamani (Hernando), beaten just 1 1/4 lengths. Three weeks later he recorded the same margin, this time in victory, in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Arlington Park. That win over America's triple Grade 1 winner With Anticipation (Relaunch) resulted in High Chaparral's first trophy as Eclipse champion turf horse.

After his highly productive sophomore campaign, High Chaparral stayed on the shelf until August 2003, when he returned a winner in The Curragh's Royal Whip Stakes (Ire-G2). He returned to Group 1 action in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, where he bested the globetrotting Group 1 winner Falbrav (Fairy King) by a neck. A return trip to the Arc followed and High Chaparral again filled the third position, this time behind the Aga Khan's Dalakhani (Darshaan).

The four-year-old's next -- and final -- career stop was a return trip to the Breeders' Cup to defend his crown. He succeeded in his mission but this time had to share the spoils, dead-heating with Johar (Gone West) and putting up the first dead-heat win in Breeders' Cup history. Falbrav was a head back in third.

Johar died at Mill Ridge Farm in Kentucky in November after a paddock accident.

The dead-heat Breeders' Cup victory earned High Chaparral his second Eclipse award, and he was retired with almost $5.4 million in earnings. Mick Kinane described High Chaparral as an "exceptionally good racehorse."

"It's sad news," the rider said Sunday. "He was a very tough, genuine horse and very talented. He won two Breeders' Cups, the English and Irish Derby. He's up there as one of the very good horses."

High Chaparral retired to Coolmore's Irish base in 2004 to stand alongside his sire and paternal brothers Galileo and Montjeu. His first crop included the group winners and Group 1-placed Magadan, Unsung Heroine and Beach Bunny, and his second crop yielded Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Can-G1) winner Redwood, who also placed in the Canadian International (Can-G1), Hong Kong Vase (HK-G1) and Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-G1), and five other group winners.

High Chaparral is the sire of six Northern Hemisphere Group 1 winners, including three who won at the highest level this year. That list is headed by dual Group 1-winning miler Toronado, who took last year's Sussex Stakes (Eng-G1) and this year's Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-G1) and will take up stud duty next year at The National Stud in Newmarket. Lucky Lion won this year's Grosser Dallmayr Bayerisches Zuchtrennen (Ger-G1) in Germany, while High Jinx took the Prix du Cadran (Fr-G1) on the Arc undercard. The sextet is completed by dual Northern Dancer Turf victor Wigmore Hall and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Wrote.

High Chaparral also leaves behind the highly promising Free Eagle, who won this year's Enterprise Stakes (Ire-G3) and finished third in the Champion Stakes (Eng-G1) in his third and fourth starts. Free Eagle races on next year before retiring to the Irish National Stud. He is also the sire of the Group 3-winning and classic-placed High Heeled, a close relation to classic winner Just the Judge (Lawman) who has been responsible for a pair of 400,000gns-plus foals the last two years: a 450,000gns Dubawi filly at Tattersalls December last year and a 425,000gns filly by Lawman at the same auction this year.

High Chaparral is also beginning to make his mark as a broodmare sire; his daughter Muravka produced this year's Prix Morny (Fr-G1) and Coventry Stakes (Eng-G2) winner The Wow Signal (Starspangledbanner).

As successful as High Chaparral has become in the Northern Hemisphere, his greatest achievements have no doubt come Down Under.

High Chaparral stood his first Southern Hemisphere season at Windsor Park Stud in New Zealand as a replacement for Montjeu, whose overwhelming success in Europe had prompted the decision to cease shuttling, and he proved a more than able substitute. High Chaparral's first Southern Hemisphere crop included the horse that is likely to be his greatest legacy -- the globetrotting superstar So You Think.

A strapping dark bay in the mold of his sire, So You Think won his first of two Cox Plates (Aus-G1) -- Australia's most historic weight-for-age contest -- as a three-year-old about a month before his true third birthday in 2009, and after sitting out the autumn he added four more Group 1s -- including a Cox Plate repeat -- before finishing third under top weight in the Melbourne Cup (Aus-G1).

Purchased by the Coolmore partners, So You Think was expatriated to Ballydoyle. He collected three European Group 1s in his first Northern Hemisphere campaign, including the Coral-Eclipse and Irish Champion Stakes, and was a highly respectable sixth on the dirt in the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2011 at Churchill Downs.

So You Think repeated in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Ire-G1) the following May and closed out an illustrious career with a decisive score in the Prince of Wales's Stakes (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot.

Like his sire before him, So You Think now splits his time between Coolmore Ireland and Australia. He was represented his first Northern Hemisphere foals at this year's breeding stock sales, and his first crop yearlings will be offered in Australia in the coming months.

High Chaparral's Southern Hemisphere accomplishments hardly stop with So You Think. That first crop also included Caulfield Cup (Aus-G1) and Caulfield Stakes (Aus-G1) hero Descarado; Spring Champion Stakes (Aus-G1) and Victoria Derby (Aus-G1) victor Monaco Consul; and five-time Group 1 and classic winner Shoot Out.

He is also responsible for champion Dundeel, who raced as It's A Dundeel in Australia and collected six Group 1 wins in 2013 and 2014, including the Sydney triple crown of the Randwick and Rosehill Guineas and the Australian Derby. Dundeel entered stud at Arrowfield in Australia this year.

High Chaparral was moved from Windsor Park to Coolmore in the Hunter Valley in 2010, where he stood for A$60,500 this year, and A$77,000 last year. His yearlings averaged A$128,647 at this year's Australasian yearling sales, and A$163,275 in 2013.

High Chaparral has sired a total of 61 stakes winners.

Racing Headlines

Shared Belief tops 10-strong Malibu field on Santa Anita's opening day

Shared Belief and Mike Smith will attempt to end 2014 on a winning note in the Malibu (Benoit Photos)

More than $30 million in purse money is up for grabs during Santa Anita Park's winter meet, and the track gets the action started in stellar fashion on opening day Friday, December 26, with a trio of graded stakes.

The biggest draw on the opening day card is champion Shared Belief, who will make his final start as a sophomore in the Grade 1, $300,000 Malibu. The seven-furlong contest will go as the penultimate race on the program and features a field of 10.

Shared Belief is drastically cutting back in distance for the Malibu, having run his last four races at nine furlongs or more. The Candy Ride gelding suffered his first career loss last out in the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic after being slammed at the start by eventual race winner Bayern. That followed four straight wins on the year that include the Grade 1 Awesome Again going nine furlongs at Santa Anita and Grade 1 Pacific Classic at 1 1/4 miles on Del Mar's synthetic Polytrack.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Shared Belief also captured the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby over the summer. He was crowned champion two-year-old male of 2013 after a 5 3/4-length romp in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at the now defunct Hollywood Park.

Jockey Mike Smith has been aboard for Shared Belief's past four races and will guide the dark bay from post 7 on Friday as the 123-pound top weight. The rest of the field only has to tote 118 pounds.

Among those hoping to take advantage of the weight spread is fellow Hollendorfer trainee Tamarando. The Bertrando colt showed promise as a two-year-old, taking the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, but his best effort this season came when he added the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby to his resume last February. Ridden in his past two races by Smith, including his most recent seventh on November 29 in the Grade 3 Native Diver at Del Mar, the California-bred will have Julien Leparoux in the irons as he breaks just to the inside of Shared Belief.

Midnight Hawk (outside) and Chitu face off for a fourth time this year in the Malibu (Sunland Park/Coady Photography)

Midnight Hawk is one of four Bob Baffert entrants in the Malibu, and will be getting the blinkers taken off following a third-place finish in an optional claiming contest on November 30 at Del Mar. The gray son of Midnight Lute captured his career debut in December 2013 by 6 1/4 lengths and, up until two races back, had finished third or better in his five 2014 efforts.

Midnight Hawk opened his sophomore season with victory in the Grade 3 Sham and proceeded to place in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis, Grade 2 San Felipe, Grade 3 Sunland Derby and Grade 3 Illinois Derby. That latter race came in April, and the gray colt wouldn't be seen in competition again until trying the Damascus on the Breeders' Cup Friday undercard. He wound up 11th in that seven-furlong event, his first off-the-board run, before returning to the top three last at Del Mar. Victor Espinoza has the call.

Fellow Baffert pupil Chitu also took a summer break after finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby. The chestnut posted just two starts before that classic, finishing second in the Robert B. Lewis and defeating Midnight Hawk by 2 1/4 length when taking the Sunland Derby. The duo stayed paired up as Chitu also contested the Damascus in his most recent race, but the Henny Hughes colt proved much better than his stablemate with a 2 1/2-length win. Joel Rosario stays aboard.

The other two Baffert runners in the Malibu are stakes winner Indianapolis, who suffered his first loss from four career starts when unplaced in the Breeders' Cup Sprint last out, and Pimpernel. Gary Stevens will be holding the reins on Indianapolis while Martin Garcia will be in Pimpernel's saddle.

The rest of the Malibu field are dual stakes-placed Conquest Two Step, stakes scorer Diamond Bachelor, Grade 2-placed Rprettyboyfloyd and Frensham.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at

Competitive field assembled for La Brea; Heart to Heart highlights Mathis Bros Mile

Taris is making her first start for new connections in the La Brea (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Friday's opening day card at Santa Anita Park features three graded contest, with the Grade 1, $300,000 Malibu drawing much of the attention thanks to the presence of Horse of the Year candidate Shared Belief.

However, the Malibu shares the card with another Grade 1 in the $300,000 La Brea, which attracted 10 three-year-old fillies going seven furlongs, including Grade 2 Raven Run romper Taris.

The bay miss scored by 7 3/4 lengths in a Presque Isle Downs allowance before her nine-length Raven Run tour de force on October 18 at Keeneland. The Flatter filly, trained by Todd Beattie and ridden by Clinton Potts in her initial four-for-five line, was purchased for $2.35 million at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale and now races under the tutelage of conditioner Simon Callaghan. Rafael Bejarano will be aboard as Taris makes her first start for her new connections.

Another top draw in the La Brea is Thank You Marylou, winner of the Grade 3 Dogwood at Churchill Downs on September 20 by 6 1/2 lengths. The Mike Maker charge followed up with third-place efforts in the Grade 2 Raven Run at Keeneland and Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, the latter of which took place over track and distance. Joel Rosario takes the reins on the Birdstone filly for the first time in the La Brea.

Stonetastic, who dominated by 8 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 Prioress at Saratoga before a nice third in Keeneland's Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America, finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. The Kelly Breen-trained daughter of Mizzen Mast keeps Paco Lopez aboard as she returns to facing her own age group.

Trainer Bob Baffert has been pointing Awesome Baby and Jojo Warrior to the La Brea for quite some time. The former, a daughter of Awesome Again, is three-for-three on the year, including the Grade 2 Santa Ynez and Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, but hasn't raced since a 4 1/4-length decision in the Sunland Park Oaks on March 23.

Jojo Warrior, on the other hand, captured the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks in June by 5 1/4 lengths, the Grade 3 Torrey Pines in August and is exiting a nice third behind presumptive champion three-year-old filly Untapable in the Grade 1 Cotillion on September 20.

Smith has the call on Awesome Baby while Jojo Warrior will be ridden by Garcia.

Stakes scorers winners Uzziel and Ramona's Wildcat were one-two, respectively, in the Beverly J. Lewis in September, but have both been off-the-board in their subsequent starts. In contrast, More Complexity and Amaranth enter the La Brea off stakes wins in the Betty Grable and Senator Ken Maddy, respectively, in their past pair.

That leaves Sam's Sister to complete the La Brea field, and the Brother Derek filly will be looking to get back to her winning ways in this stakes bow after going three-for-four thus far in her career.

Heart to Heart flew home in the Commonwealth Turf last out (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

Sandwiched between the Malibu and La Brea is the Grade 2, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile, formerly run as the Sir Beaufort Stakes, for sophomores on the turf. An overflow field of 14 was drawn for that eight-furlong grass contest, which feature a showdown between Alert Bay and Tonito M.

The top draw in the Mathis Brothers Mile, however, is Heart to Heart. The English Channel colt has easily captured his last three races -- the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf, Grade 3 Jefferson Cup and Better Talk Now -- in wire-to-wire fashion. The Brian Lynch pupil had Julien Leparoux aboard for the two graded victories and the duo will try to make it three in a row on Friday.

Grade 3 scorers Alert Bay and Tonito M. met up last out in the Zia Park Derby, with the former earning his third straight stakes win by three lengths. Tonito M. rallied five wide from midpack to take second and will have to be closer if he hopes to factor in this sprint.

Also in with a chance are Home Run Kitten, a nose winner of the Grade 3 Eddie D. two back; Long On Value, victor of the Grade 2 Twilight Derby; Talco, third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby and Grade 2 Del Mar Derby in his past two; and Sawyer's Hill, fourth in the Hollywood Derby off seconds in the Twilight Derby and Del Mar Derby. The latter three runners are cutting back off nine-furlong races while Home Run Kitten sprinted in the Eddie D.

Santa Anita's popular free online "Showvivor" will mark its return on the track's opening day, and will again offer fans $10,000 in prize money, highlighted by a $5,000 top prize -- to be awarded to the longest "show streak" over the course of Santa Anita's winter and spring meetings, which will conclude on June 28.

The track is also offering fans free weekend Infield admission and parking, beginning opening day. A special early first post time is set for noon (PST) on Friday, with admission gates opening at 10 a.m.

Santa Anita Park's 68-day 2014-15 winter meet will offer fans a wide array of admission and seating options, including the track's popular "Gallop Out," which features trackside seating on the Club House turn, food and beverage options, and entertainment throughout the race day.

Santa Anita's winter meet will conclude April 19 and be followed by the track's 38-day summer meet, which runs from April 25 through June 28.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at

Danon Platina scores in Asahi Hai Futurity

Danon Platina lived up to expectations in the Asahi Hai Futurity (Tomoya Moriuchi/

Race favorite Danon Platina responded well to expectations in capturing Hanshin's Grade 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes on Sunday to top his generation.

Danon Platina's three career starts prior to Sunday consisted of a runner-up finish in his September 6 debut, followed by a convincing four-length win in a maiden race in October and another strong three-length victory in the Begonia Sho, an allowance race seven weeks later.

After breaking sharply from an inner stall, jockey Masayoshi Ebina kept Danon Platina reserved third from the rear and three wide while the Deep Impact colt briefly fought the bit in the backstretch. Well in hand by the last turn and angling out wide entering the straight, Ebina allowed the gray juvenile to hit his best stride. Danon Platina willingly demonstrated a resounding finishing kick to pass his rivals, including front runner Active Minoru at the furlong-pole, while holding off the fast-closing Arma Waioli.

"The going wasn't very good and, since we broke from an inner stall, I tried hard to position him away from the rails which went well as planned," Ebina explained. "He was relaxed and had enough left in him by the last corner for a strong final run.

"He definitely takes after his sire Deep Impact -- his finishing speed speaks for itself."

Danon Platina ran about eight furlongs on the good turf in 1:35 4/5 against his fellow two-year-old colts.

Since the Victoria Mile triumph with Apapane in 2011, this win marks trainer Sakae Kunieda's 11th JRA-Grade 1 victory, while Ebina celebrates his 23rd JRA-Grade 1 title after claiming the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies partnered with Shonan Adela, also sired by Deep Impact, just a week ago.

Deep Impact offspring has now dominated 10 out of 23 JRA-Grade 1 races this year.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at

In brief

Following his breakthrough win in Saturday's Tropical Park Derby, Sky Flight (Sky Mesa) was reported to be doing well at his winter base at Palm Meadows Training Center, according to assistant trainer Norm Casse. "He looked good this morning," Casse said. "I don't think we have any definite plans for him, but we'll get him back on the track and hope that he trains good from here." The three-year-old Sky Flight scored by a length in the Tropical Park Derby after closing from more than eight lengths off the pace to get up over determined pacesetter Cement Clement (Limehouse) and a fast-closing Smooth Daddy (Scat Daddy), the favorite in the field of 12. "I just think he's a very talented horse," Casse said. "We knew going into the race that it was a competitive field and a deep field, and we were just hoping that he would prove that he actually belonged in the race, and he obviously (did that). He won and was very impressive doing it. Now we'll just gradually pick out better and better races for him." The Tropical Park Derby was Sky Flight's first stakes appearance after breaking his maiden at Keeneland in October and following it up with a four-length allowance victory at Churchill Downs. The lightly raced colt has only started four times and has not lost since running fifth in his career debut in September at Kentucky Downs. "Every week he gets better, and that hasn't stopped," Casse stated. "We just have to hope that he continues to do that."...

Trainer Larry Jones could have as many as three starters in the first major sophomore filly event of the Fair Grounds season, the 23rd running of the $125,000 Silverbulletday S. on January 17. The stable is considering Lovely Maria (Majesticperfection), Divine Dawn (Divine Park) and I'm a Chatterbox for the mile-and-70-yard race. Lovely Maria ran fourth last out on December 14 in the Trapeze S. at Remington Park -- an effort that came only 16 days after a photo-finish loss in a six-furlong Fair Grounds allowance. Unfortunately her first attempt at two turns at Remington did not go as planned. "She came out OK, except for a cut she got at the break on her eye where the strap hit her," Jones said. "She is fine it was just really bad racing luck. All is well, though. We also are pointing Divine Dawn to (the Silverbulletday). She was very impressive on the grass the other day and we might also have I'm a Chatterbox, who was fourth in the (November 29) Golden Rod ([G2] at Churchill Downs). All three of those are looking at the race." Divine Dawn, a filly Jones has liked since seeing her as a yearling at Airdrie Stud, won in sharp fashion going 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass in allowance company on December 11 and is currently two-for-two. I'm a Chatterbox raced three times for trainer Kenny McPeek and was recently turned over to Jones. In addition to her fourth-place finish in the Golden Rod, she was third in a Churchill Downs allowance and broke her maiden at first asking on October 15 at Keeneland...

Fox Hill Farm's Cassatt (Tapit) strolled home an easy wire-to-wire winner in the $50,000 Tiffany Lass S. at Fair Grounds on Sunday afternoon. The Larry Jones-trained sophomore broke on top and never looked back as she drew away to a 5 3/4-length victory on the fast track. Ridden by Kerwin Clark, the gray filly galloped through fractions of :24 1/5, :48 1/5, 1:13 1/5 before finishing the mile and 70-yard distance in a sharp 1:43 while under wraps at the wire. Cassatt paid $2.60 for the win as the 3-10 favorite, and improved her record to 8-5-1-0, $370,233. "It was a $50,000 workout," Clark said. "We have been working this filly on getting her calm in the paddock. That's where she really beats herself. She gets nervous and hot. She's been getting better and better with every race. She got a little hot today, but she did the same thing in New Mexico -- so I figured we were in great shape. As crazy as it sounds, you haven't seen the best of this filly. I really believe that. She's a freak." Cassatt won the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks in New Mexico on November 26 in similar fashion by 4 1/2 lengths and was a 3 3/4-length victress of the Monmouth Oaks (G3) on August 9. Next up for the Kentucky-bred will most likely be the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston on January 24...

Two races later at Fair Grounds, Frank Fletcher Racing Operations' Rocket Time (Tiz Wonderful) captured his stakes debut in the $50,000 Tenacious under Calvin Borel. The Al Stall Jr. pupil also went wire-to-wire, scoring by 2 1/2 lengths as the 8-5 favorite. The three-year-old bay gelding paid $5.20 for the win after completing a mile and 70 yards in 1:42 1/5. Rocket Time boosted his career mark to 6-4-0-1 and has now banked $131,350...

Cole's Magic Vow (Private Vow) captured his stakes debut on Saturday in the $65,000 B-Connected S. at Delta Downs under jockey Digeo Saenz. Campaigned by Patricia A. Chennault, the Joseph Foster trainee stalked early pacesetter Jobay (Art Museum) through the first six furlongs before rallying past him and Knockidownhard (Sharp Humor) to take the lead in midstretch. The dark bay gelding then held off a late surge by Beauty's Pioneer (Pioneering) to record a half-length victory while covering 7 1/2 furlongs over the good, sealed track in 1:33 4/5. The race was not without drama however, as Beauty's Pioneer's jockey, C. J. McMahon, lodged an objection after the race claiming that Cole's Magic Vow veered in front of his mount in deep stretch. The stewards disallowed the objection and the original result was made official. Cole's Magic Vow, the 7-2 second choice who paid $9.60 for the win, improved his career record to 19-9-3-2, $165,813. Delta Downs will conduct a special Christmas week of racing next week with live programs on Monday and Tuesday beginning at 1:15 p.m. (CST). There will be no racing Wednesday and Thursday. The race week will wrap up on Friday and Saturday nights with regular post times of 5:50 p.m...

Riverside Bloodstock LLC and Dan Beaty's Irish-bred Heuston (Acclamation) gutted out a neck score Saturday evening at Turfway Park in the $53,950 Prairie Bayou S. with jockey Rodney Prescott aboard. The duo tracked the early pace while three wide before taking over after the half-mile point. Going five wide on the turn, the duo withstood Cozy Kitten's (Kitten's Joy) late rally to finish 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack in 1:45 2/5. Albin Jimenez, the rider of fourth-placer Puppy Manners (Kitten's Joy), lodged an objection for interference in late stretch against the runner-up, and Cozy Kitten was disqualified from second and placed fifth by the stewards. The Conor Murphy-trained Heuston earned his first stakes win in this spot and now shows a 3-4-1 mark from 12 lifetime starts and $93,184 in earnings...

Following a four-day break to enable horsemen, jockeys, stable workers and track employees to enjoy the Christmas holiday, Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs will resume Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. (EST). That program serves as an appetizer for the 10-race Skyway Festival Day program on Saturday, featuring the $100,000 Pasco Stakes for two-year-olds and the $100,000 Gasparilla Stakes for juvenile fillies. Both are seven-furlong events. Friday marks the start of Tampa Bay Downs' Calendar Giveaway Weekend, when 10,000 calendars celebrating the track's 89-year history and the majesty of the breed will be distributed.

Trainer Stats


Trainer   Starts   Wins   Win %
Hugh H. Robertson   21   9   43
C. R. Trout   18   7   39
Jack O. Fisher   21   8   38
Rigoberto Velasquez   62   23   37
Marcos Zulueta   31   11   35
Randy Oberlander   17   6   35
Kevin S. Patterson   23   8   35
Thomas M. Amoss   118   40   34
Joe Sharp   36   12   33
Josie Carroll   27   9   33
Anthony F. Rini   18   6   33
Robert A. Young   15   5   33
Robertino Diodoro   182   60   33
Michael S. Ferraro   88   29   33
Michelle Nevin   34   11   32
William E. Morey   56   18   32
John F. Martin   53   17   32
Andy Mathis   25   8   32
Pedro Hernandez-Sandoval   22   7   32
Victor Arceneaux   16   5   31
Larry R. Reed   29   9   31
Roger F. Engel   42   13   31
Ray Spencer   26   8   31
Keith G. Bourgeois   75   23   31
Jane Cibelli   49   15   31

Trainer/Jockey Stats


Trainer/Jockey Combo   Starts   Wins   Win %
Roger F. Engel/M. Clifton Berry   18   11   61%
William E. Morey/Russell A. Baze   19   10   53%
Scott Becker/Santo Sanjur   19   9   47%
Samuel Breaux/Gerard Melancon   15   7   47%
Rigoberto Velasquez/Leonel Camacho-Flores   28   13   46%
Thomas M. Amoss/James Graham   31   14   45%
Kiaran P. McLaughlin/Irad Ortiz, Jr.   18   8   44%
Thomas M. Amoss/Gerard Melancon   32   14   44%
Robertino Diodoro/Geovanni Franco   49   21   43%
Ian R. Wilkes/Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.   19   8   42%
Samuel Breaux/C.J. McMahon   15   6   40%
Josie Carroll/Luis Contreras   15   6   40%
Jack O. Fisher/Sean McDermott   15   6   40%
Joel H. Marr/Alfredo J. Juarez, Jr.   15   6   40%
Kevin S. Patterson/Gerald Almodovar   15   6   40%
J. R. Caldwell/Jareth Loveberry   38   15   39%
Timothy C. Grams/Oscar Flores   23   9   39%
Bob Baffert/Martin Garcia   42   16   38%
Michael S. Ferraro/David Michael Lopez   67   25   37%
James P. DiVito/Emmanuel Esquivel   27   10   37%
Jevon D. Crumley/William P. Otero   17   6   35%
John F. Martin/Silvio Ruiz Amador   17   6   35%
Hugh I. McMahon/Daniel Centeno   17   6   35%
Tammy Domenosky/Emmanuel Esquivel   20   7   35%
Justin R. Evans/Irwin J. Rosendo   23   8   35%
William N. Martin/Noel Vigil   23   8   35%

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather


For Monday

Delta Downs   (6th) Pontchartrain, 8-1
    (7th) Hi Charlie, 5-1
Mahoning Valley   (2nd) Susan Elaine, 7-2
    (4th) Fan Demon, 6-1
Parx Racing   (3rd) Solari Island, 6-1
    (9th) Like a Diva, 6-1
Sunland Park   (6th) Seanic Halo, 4-1
    (9th) Truth in Science, 4-1
Turf Paradise   (1st) A Red Hot Patriot, 4-1
    (4th) Square Dancer, 3-1

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.


Help Wanted

A horse racing website is currently hiring for part-time positions as a Customer Service Representative in Lexington, Kentucky. Must be available nights and weekends. Some weekdays may also be available. Computer literacy required, horse racing knowledge and customer service experience a plus. To schedule an interview, email or send your résumé to the following:, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.