Triple Crown News & Notes
Wildcat Red, Intense Holiday, We Miss Artie put in final Florida works
"He's a nice horse. He worked really good," said Saez, who had already been scheduled to ride on Sunday's Easter Day card when Garoffalo gave him a call Saturday. "He seems better now than when I rode him."
Saez, who had ridden Cairo Prince to a dominating triumph in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream on January 18 before his disappointing fifth in the Florida Derby, was always Garoffalo's first choice to ride Wildcat Red. When Cairo Prince qualified on points for the Derby field last week, Garoffalo and Wildcat Red's owner, Honors Stable Corp., turned to Rafael Bejarano earlier in the week, only to make a switch and give the mount to Saez Saturday.
"He's a great rider. He's a smart guy. Remember, he's still such a young guy. He's so mature for his age. All the time, he was my first choice since the Fountain of Youth. But we couldn't get together because he had a commitment to the other horse, Cairo Prince, in the Florida Derby," Garoffalo explained. "Now, he's open, so why not put him on the horse?"
Wildcat Red, who has been no worse than second in seven starts since breaking his maiden by eight lengths at Gulfstream last September 14, has been ridden by five different riders in his last five races.
"This is what I've been trying to do all along -- get a steady rider," Garoffalo noted. "I've been trying to get a rider who'd stay on the horse, but we never did...until now. Now, we have Luis and hopefully everything will work out all right."
Garoffalo said Wildcat Red will walk Monday and ship to Kentucky after walking Tuesday morning. Saez is scheduled to be aboard the bay son of D'wildcat for his final workout before the 140th edition of the Run for the Roses next Saturday or Sunday at Churchill.
"I will be there after the sale in Ocala on Thursday or Friday," Garrofalo remarked. "I will work him there Saturday or Sunday, depending on the weather.
"It's very exciting, but at the same time it's a lot of work. You have to take care of every detail," he added. "At this level of competition, you have to be very focused and concentrate on everything, all the small details."
Garoffalo, who is preparing to saddle his first horse for the Derby, will be making his second trip to Churchill Downs, where he saddled Yara for a troubled off-the-board finish in the 2012 Kentucky Oaks.
"That experience is helping me a lot. I think it was a gift of God to give me that experience," he said. "Even though it may not be the same situation, it gave me the experience to handle the situation the next time, which is now, because you know where you're going, you know the track, and you know the environment."
Trainer Todd Pletcher also sent two of his Derby hopefuls out to work in Florida on Sunday. Intense Holiday and We Miss Artie both took to the Palm Meadows' fast dirt in their final Sunshine State moves before the first Saturday in May.
Vicar's in Trouble is exiting an easy 3 1/2-length score in the Louisiana Derby on March 29 at Fair Grounds, while Harry's Holiday missed by just a nose in Turfway Park's Spiral before returning three weeks later to be a well-beaten 13th in the April 12 Blue Grass at Keeneland.
Fellow Maker pupil General a Rod, who has been trading decisions with Wildcat Red down in Florida, is scheduled to work at Churchill Downs on Tuesday or Wednesday. The Roman Ruler colt was third in the Florida Derby in his most recent effort.
In other Derby news:
Ride On Curlin, runner-up to Danza in the Arkansas Derby, galloped after the renovation break at Churchill Downs under exercise rider Bryan Beccia for trainer Billy Gowan on Sunday.
The bay son of Curlin, who arrived at Churchill last Monday, is scheduled to work next Saturday or Sunday depending on weather according to Gowan. Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider Calvin Borel has the mount for Derby 140.
Chitu, a 2 1/4-length winner of the Sunland Derby, galloped after the morning renovation break with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez up for trainer Bob Baffert. Following Chitu out was Bayern, who also galloped.
A 15-length allowance scorer prior to finishing third while making his stakes bow in the Arkansas Derby, Bayern stands 24th on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" leaderboard and would need several defections to gain a spot in the Derby starting gate should his connections opt to enter.
Scheduled to arrive Monday from California for Baffert is Hoppertunity, winner of the Rebel and runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby.
Tapiture galloped Sunday morning and is scheduled to work Monday morning shortly after 6 a.m. (EDT) for trainer Steve Asmussen. The Tapit chestnut put together back-to-back wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest before finishing a half-length second in the Rebel and fourth in the Arkansas Derby.
Transylvania hero Medal Count, who returned a week later to be runner-up in the Blue Grass at Keeneland, galloped after the renovation break under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar for trainer Dale Romans.
Commanding Curve, third in the Louisiana Derby in his most recent start, jogged before the renovation break under exercise rider Pedro Velez for trainer Dallas Stewart. The Master Command ridgling stands 22nd on the Derby leaderboard.
'Fate' could give Nakatani first Derby win; White announces his Derby odds
"She's a real classy filly," said Nakatani, who rode the six-year-old California-bred daughter of Popular to a 1 1/2-length victory in the Dream of Summer.
"She does whatever they ask her to do. She can run on any surface, I believe. When I got beat on her (fourth in the Gamely last May) behind Marketing Mix, Tiz Flirtatious and Lady Shamrock, they're pretty good fillies, so I think she'll put her best foot forward on Saturday and hopefully win another race."
As one of Hollendorfer's go-to riders, droughts in the winner's circle are rare occurrences for Nakatani. The 67-year-old Hollendorfer, one of only five trainers with more than 6,000 career victories, is a staunch believer in Vince Lombardi's credo that "Winning is the only thing."
"Anytime you get a chance to ride for a Hall of Famer, and someone who's got as much passion as Jerry does, at his age, it's a definite plus," Nakatani said. "He's out there every morning, he works hard and he has a passion for winning just like the riders. He's competitive and it's a pleasure to ride for him."
All that's well and good, but Nakatani is still focused on every rider's dream -- winning the Kentucky Derby, which he hopes to do with trainer Pete Eurton's Dance With Fate.
"The horse earned his way to the Derby," Nakatani asserted. "It's not like they gave him a spot in the race. He won a Grade 1 prep that has as much tradition as there is. After I looked at his past performances again, and the way he ran in the Blue Grass, he deserves a shot. He earned his way into the Derby. That was my feeling. He's got the right style.
"As long as he gets over the (Churchill Downs) surface well and I can give myself a position to track a few that are busy from Point A to Point B, I think he'll give a good account of himself."
If nothing else, Nakatani has history on his side. His agent, Tony Matos, has represented riders who have won the Kentucky Derby six times" Angel Cordero Jr. (Cannonade, 1974, and Bold Forbes, 1976); Laffit Pincay Jr. (Swale, 1984); Kent Desormeaux (Real Quiet, 1998 and Fusaichi Pegasus, 2000); and Victor Espinoza (War Emblem, 2002).
Despite Nakatani riding in the race, Santa Anita's morning-line oddsmaker Jon White has listed California Chrome as his personal 5-2 favorite with regard to his current odds for the Kentucky Derby.
"There is absolutely no question California Chrome, who was so impressive when he won the Santa Anita Derby, is going to be the Kentucky Derby favorite," said White, who again will be making the official morning-lines for this year's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita November 1-2.
"California Chrome heads into the Kentucky Derby having run not one, not two, not three, but four big races in a row. I started him off as a 7-2 favorite Kentucky Derby favorite, then lowered him to 3-1 after Constitution dropped out. And then, after Cairo Prince also dropped out, I lowered California Chrome again, this time to 5-2.
"What's really up in the air is who will be second favorite. Both Constitution and Cairo Prince would have been in the running for second favoritism. I'm thinking the second favorite might be Hoppertunity or Wicked Strong.
"I have those two at the same price, 8-1. Or, then again, it might turn out to be somebody else. That would not surprise me."
Here are White's current Kentucky Derby odds: California Chrome (5-2), Hoppertunity (8-1), Wicked Strong (8-1), Danza (12-1), Vicar's in Trouble (12-1), Dance With Fate (15-1), General a Rod (15-1), Samraat (15-1), Tapiture (15-1), Wildcat Red (15-1), Candy Boy (20-1), Intense Holiday (20-1), Medal Count (20-1), Ride On Curlin (20-1), Uncle Sigh (20-1), Chitu (30-1), Harry's Holiday (30-1), Ring Weekend (30-1), Vinceramos (30-1), We Miss Artie (30-1).
Churchill Downs' Mike Battaglia will announce the official morning-line for the Derby after post positions are drawn on April 30 for the 1 1/4-mile classic.
Untapable breezes under the Twin Spires for Oaks
The Kentucky-bred lass turned in the only poor effort of her career when eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita last fall. She rebounded with a solid third-place run in the Hollywood Starlet and enters the Oaks unbeaten in her two stakes starts at Fair Grounds this season -- a 9 1/2-length romp in the Rachel Alexandra and a 7 3/4-length triumph in the Fair Grounds Oaks.
Asmussen said Untapable's final Kentucky Oaks work is scheduled for April 27.
Got Lucky and My Miss Sophia walked the shedrow at trainer Todd Pletcher's barn Sunday, one day after posting :48 half-mile works under the Twin Spires. Ginny DePasquale, assistant to Pletcher, reported both fillies came out of the works in good order.
A third Pletcher Oaks hopeful, unbeaten Gulfstream Park Oaks heroine In Tune, is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Tuesday.
Thank You Marylou exited her Saturday :49 4/5 half-mile breeze at the Trackside Training Center in good order, according to trainer Mike Maker. The Birdstone filly was third most recently in the Ashland at Keeneland.
In other Oaks news:
Fantasy winner Sugar Shock galloped under exercise rider Seth VanDyke on Sunday. The Candy Ride filly did a two-minute lick for the final three-eighths of a mile.
Trainer Doug Anderson is scheduled to arrive in Louisville, Kentucky, on Sunday afternoon. Calvin Borel will have the mount in the Oaks.
Fantasy runner-up Kiss Moon is scheduled to work five furlongs at Churchill Monday morning at 8:30 p.m. with Julien Leparoux aboard for trainer David Vance. The filly galloped Sunday after the renovation break with Otto Thorwarth aboard.
Trainer Wayne Catalano's two Kentucky Oaks hopefuls -- Aurelia's Belle and Room Service -- galloped after the morning renovation break with Calamity Compton aboard both fillies. They each worked half-miles at Churchill last Wednesday, with Bourbonette Oaks queen Aurelia's Belle getting a time of :48 4/5 and Room Service credited with :49 1/5.
"I didn't want to do too much with them being it was the first work on the dirt here," said Catalano, whose son-in-law Channing Hill will ride Aurelia's Belle in the Oaks.
Catalano said Shaun Bridgmohan, who was aboard Room Service for her seven-length, dead-heat victory in the Ashland at Keeneland in her most recent start, would have the mount should the More Than Ready filly make her dirt debut in the Oaks.
Fiftyshadesofgold jogged under exercise rider Sara Escudero early Sunday morning. Bret Calhoun trains the My Golden Song filly, who has had two works at Churchill since finishing second in the March 29 Fair Grounds Oaks. According to assistant Tom Morgan, the filly is scheduled to work again Friday.
Fair Grounds Oaks third-placer Unbridled Forever galloped after the renovation break under Pedro Velez for trainer Dallas Stewart.
Sunland Park Oaks winner Awesome Baby and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies vixen Ria Antonia are scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday from their Southern California base for trainer Bob Baffert, according to exercise rider Jorge Alvarez.
Zenyatta gives birth to filly on Easter
Given the success that O'Brien has had with the progeny of War Front, it's no surprise that his Coolmore patrons have opened the checkbook to purchase more of them at public auction. Coolmore's M.V. Magnier went to $2.5 million for the overall top seller at Keeneland last September, a War Front colt out of Blading Gold Ring, who has been named Treaty of Rome. Just last Thursday at Tattersalls in England, Coolmore interests snapped up a War Front colt for 1.15 million guineas -- a European record price for a two-year-old in training sale.
War Front stands at Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky, for a fee of $150,000, stands and nurses. Zenyatta resides at Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Kentucky.
Now 10 years old, Zenyatta amassed a huge fan following during her Hall of Fame-worthy career. Trained by John Shirreffs for Jerry and Ann Moss, the charismatic mare won her first 19 races in a row, with her trademark come-from-behind flair. Among her 13 Grade 1 triumphs were two Breeders' Cup wins, in the 2008 Ladies' Classic and the 2009 Classic over males. Zenyatta suffered her only loss in her 20th and final start, her title defense in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic, where she roared from an apparently hopeless last to miss by an agonizing head to Blame.
Voted the 2010 Horse of the Year, Zenyatta also earned her third consecutive Eclipse Award as champion older mare that season. The daughter of Street Cry remains North America's richest racemare with earnings of $7,304,580.
Zenyatta began her broodmare career by visiting Bernardini in 2011. The resulting colt, Cozmic One, was born on March 8, 2012. A dark bay like his dam, he is currently in his early training at Mayberry Farm in Florida, and fans can follow his progress at Zenyatta.com.
Bred back to Tapit, Zenyatta delivered a chestnut colt on April 1, 2013, which also happened to be her ninth birthday. Jerry Moss has given the yearling the evocative name of Ziconic, as it was announced last Wednesday.
Zenyatta's newborn filly has an intriguing pedigree pattern. Aside from the inbreeding to Mr. Prospector, which Cozmic One and Ziconic likewise have, the daughter of War Front is also inbred to the great Argentinean import *Forli.
Isla Bonita strongest late in Satsuki Sho
"I tried to race him with his own pace until the first corner and took him to the outside to avoid the crowd," Ebina recapped. "He was responding well, and as I was able to race him toward the front, I urged him to go earlier. Although he seemed a bit distracted, he was able rally strongly with the other horses. He is able to run a smooth race and I think the Tokyo racecourse, where the Japanese Derby is held, will suit him well."
To the World edged a stubborn Win Full Bloom by a half-length for second. One and Only rattled home from last to grab fourth, posting the fastest final three-eighths in :34.3, and Staphanos also finished with interest for fifth.
Asia Express, a Florida-bred son of Henny Hughes who was trying to become the first foreign-bred to take the Satsuki Sho, was in the thick of contention for a long way. But his stamina limitations were likely exposed in the final yards, and he was relegated to sixth at the wire.
Isla Bonita now boasts a record of 6-5-1-0, ¥232,921,000. The Satsuki Sho marked his first attempt over a right-handed course. After capturing a newcomers' event at a metric mile at Tokyo last June, he made his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Niigata Nisai and beat all bar the highly-touted Harp Star. That piece of form looks even better now, considering that Harp Star just won the April 13 Oka Sho (Japanese One Thousand Guineas) and has her sights set on the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.
Rebounding in the October 19 Icho Stakes back at Tokyo, Isla Bonita concluded his juvenile season with a neck decision in the Grade 3 Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai. The Hironori Kurita trainee kicked off 2014 on a winning note in the February 24 Kyodo News Service Hai, another Grade 3 at Tokyo, and extended his winning streak to four on Sunday.
The next leg of the Japanese Triple Crown, the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), is scheduled for June 1, and the series finale is the October 26 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) at Kyoto.
Isla Bonita is the first registered foal produced by Grade 2-placed stakes winner Isla Cozzene since her export to Japan. The Cozzene mare has two American-bred offspring, and both are stakes performers -- Montejo was black-type placed in Trinidad, Jealous Girl was a stakes victress at Penn National. Before they hit the track, Isla Cozzene was purchased by Nobuo Tsunoda for $77,000 as a broodmare at the 2009 Keeneland January Sale, as part of the reduction of Everest Stables.
Imperative upsets Dude in Charles Town Classic
As Game On Dude was pressed down the backstretch through six furlongs in 1:11 3/5, Imperative moved up smartly into third, securing a good striking position approaching the third and final turn. Long River ranged alongside Game On Dude and briefly headed the defending champion on that far turn, and Imperative smoothly advanced to make it a line of three abreast.
Imperative was clearly traveling the best of the trio. Long River beat a quick retreat, and Imperative headed Game On Dude leaving the far turn. Pulling away to a 1 1/2-length decision, Imperative negotiated 1 1/8 miles in 1:50 2/5 and sparked a $55 win payout.
"I saw them leave like banshee Indians," Desormeaux said, "but they do it all the time. That's how Mike (Smith) rides that horse (Game On Dude). He likes going faster. The faster he goes, he runs the rest of us into the ground. But Imperative just dragged me up to them. The second turn, I was running over the top of them, pitched him out and went even faster.
"I got to them, maybe his nose on their rump, and I slowed him down and he got big breather from the three-eighths (pole) to inside the quarter (pole), and by the time we got to the eighth-pole I hadn't even asked him yet. He was already passing them, and when I cued him, he just exploded. I restrained him the first three-quarters (of a mile). I actually had to slow him down. I took a deep pull in the second turn and then once the horse that was laying third got outrun, I pitched him into that spot and turned him loose."
The $1 million winner's prize was almost tenfold what Imperative had earned in his prior 14 starts. His scorecard now stands at 15-3-4-1, $1,134,620.
Game On Dude, who was conceding five pounds all around as the 123-pound highweight, boxed on for second. The seven-year-old veteran was attempting to surpass John Henry as North America's all-time richest gelding, but needed a successful title defense to do so on Saturday. With the runner-up's check of $245,000, Game On Dude remains in third on the list with career earnings of $6,408,893. But he did creep closer to the second-richest gelding, reigning two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan ($6,473,610). Both continue their march toward John Henry's record of $6,591,860.
Moreno, who appeared done after backing up on the backstretch, found another gear to close for third in his reappearance. Clubhouse Ride, a close second to Game On Dude in the 2013 running, settled for fourth. Long River, Ruler of Love and the eased Lucy's Bob Boy rounded out the order under the wire.
Bred in partnership by Glencrest Farm and Darley in Kentucky, Imperative was sold for $325,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. Sheikh Mohammed's adviser John Ferguson signed the ticket, and the bay began his career in the Darley silks with trainer Eoin Harty. Victorious in a Golden Gate Fields maiden in his second start as a juvenile, he was pitched into the 2012 FrontRunner and wound up a remote 10th behind Power Broker.
Imperative's sights were lowered thereafter. Although he won an entry-level allowance back over the Golden Gate Tapeta in early 2013, he was subsequently entered in similar events for a tag, and descended into the claiming ranks last summer. Papaprodromou haltered him out of a head loss in a one-mile turf affair on December 13 at Hollywood.
"I liked his pedigree," Papaprodromou said. "He's by Bernardini. It's hard to buy them at the sales. They're too expensive, so we saw him being in for a tag for $50,000, so we just jumped on it, gave it a shot. We saw the horse was running on the turf, the synthetic. So he never ran on the dirt besides the two-year-old thing that he did. We just got him because of that, to run him on the dirt at Santa Anita. That's where I train. We got lucky with it, I guess. We put blinkers and a figure eight on him and it worked out perfect."
Never again risked for a tag, Imperative placed in a pair of turf optional claimers before switching to dirt and taking a class hike in the San Antonio. He nearly sprang an upset at 26-1 that day, only to be outdueled by Blingo. Imperative was beaten 17 3/4 lengths by Game On Dude in the 1 1/4-mile Big 'Cap, but a cutback to 1 1/8 miles produced a massive form reversal at Charles Town.
Papaprodromou also believes that Imperative regressed last time, and was sitting on a rebound here.
"Game On Dude is a great horse, don't get me wrong," Papaprodromou said. "I just loved the way my horse was improving and coming along. So I just took a shot and came out here. I beat Game On Dude last time in the San Antonio. My horse kind of bounced in the Santa Anita Handicap because he'd run a huge race in the San Antonio. I did exactly the same training."
Imperative is a half-brother to Grade 2-winning sprinter Battle Won, stakes victress Nadeshiko and stakes-placed Smart Strike. They are all out of the stakes-winning Caller I. D. mare Call Her, who hails from the family of Grade 1-winning sprinter Greg's Gold.
Cairo Prince to miss Derby with ankle injury
Opting to skip the February 22 Fountain of Youth, Cairo Prince trained up to the March 29 Florida Derby. He made his debut in the Godolphin colors in that Gulfstream Park feature, only to wind up a flat fourth as the 6-5 favorite. His subpar effort briefly jeopardized his chances of making the Kentucky Derby field, but thanks to a few defections, his 24-point total turned out to be sufficient.
Cairo Prince worked once since the Florida Derby, breezing a half-mile at Palm Meadows in :48 3/5 last Sunday.
California Chrome leads Derby worktab
On Saturday at Santa Anita, Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Candy Boy drilled five furlongs in :59 4/5 under Hall of Famer Gary Stevens. The John Sadler pupil will ship to Churchill Downs on Monday along with Hoppertunity.
Louisiana Derby winner Vicar's in Trouble posted a five-furlong breeze in 1:00 2/5 on Saturday morning at Trackside Louisville, the training facility located approximately five miles from Churchill Downs.
"He worked very well and was well in hand," trainer Mike Maker said. "He had a nice gallop-out, which is what we were looking for, and everything was perfect.
Maker (5-0-0-0 in the Derby since 2010) indicated that the Louisiana-bred colt would likely breeze again next Saturday but it would come over the Churchill Downs oval.
Florida Derby runner-up General a Rod is slated for breeze at Churchill Downs "either Tuesday or Wednesday," according to Maker.
Maker, a five-time training champion at Churchill Downs, could have a third Derby starter in Spiral Stakes runner-up Harry's Holiday if there are further defections among the current Top 20. After Cairo Prince (left front ankle) was withdrawn from Derby consideration on Saturday, Harry's Holiday now stands at No. 21 on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com" preference list with 20 points and $152,622 in non-restricted stakes earnings.
"We'll see if he gets in," Maker said. "I'll have to talk to the connections and go from there but I'm sure they'll want to run if they can get in. If that's the case then he'll work Saturday at Churchill, too."
Saturday was the first day of exclusive training for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders from 8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. (EDT) at Churchill. Gallopers during that window included Chitu, Danza, Medal Count and Ride on Curlin.
Trainer Todd Pletcher was particularly fond of 41-1 Arkansas Derby surprise Danza.
"I loved the way he trained this morning," Pletcher said. "He looked dynamite out there today. So hopefully the next couple of weeks go as well as the last one did.
"I think he got lost in the shuffle a little bit and most people that went back and looked at his PPs (past performances) after he won the Arkansas Derby were like 'This horse really hadn't done anything wrong.' Trying to get to that two-turn race (into him), we felt the best way was to start back in a seven-furlong allowance.
"I think it set him up well for (the Arkansas Derby), but I was still pleasantly surprised at how well he handled the mile-and-an-eighth. He finished up really strongly and had his legs up underneath him at the end and galloped out strongly. That's encouraging stuff for here."
Pletcher's other two confirmed Derby runners -- Intense Holiday and We Miss Artie -- will travel on a Tuesday flight originating from Palm Beach, Florida. Wildcat Red, from the Jose Garoffalo barn, will hop on the same plane.
A New York flight on April 28 will include Wicked Strong, Samraat and Uncle Sigh.
Pablo Del Monte remains on Derby trail
Wesley Ward, trainer and part-owner of Blue Grass third-placer Pablo Del Monte, reports that his colt remains on the road to the 140th Kentucky Derby for now.
With the defection of Cairo Prince Saturday, Pablo Del Monte ranks 23rd on the Kentucky Derby leader board with 20 points.
"Keep him on the list, but the way it looks now I'm training for the Preakness," Ward said.
The son of Giant's Causeway is presently behind Vinceremos (20th and final spot in the main body of the field), Harry's Holiday (21st) and Commanding Curve (22nd). All possess 20 points as well but have accumulated more non-restricted stakes earnings, which determines ties, than the $102,000 earned by Pablo Del Monte.
Ward said he plans to work Pablo Del Monte at Keeneland next weekend.
The top 20 point earners that pass through the Kentucky Derby entry box on April 30 are guaranteed a starting spot. Up to four also-eligibles, ranked by points, will also be named in case of an overflow. They could draw into the field should any horse(s) be scratched before scratch time on Friday, May 2, at 9 a.m. (EDT).
Dynamic Impact edges Midnight Hawk in Illinois Derby
Mena swung his mount off the rail entering the stretch and Dynamic Impact responded to his urgings at a critical time as Midnight Hawk threatened to run away, up by 1 1/2 lengths with only an eighth of a mile remaining. Dynamic Impact needed every inch of the long Hawthorne stretch, surging late to take the close photo.
With Saturday's $300,000 payday, the bay colt increased his bankroll to $360,716 from a 6-2-2-0 ledger.
Bred in Kentucky by Blue Heaven Farm LLC, Dynamic Impact was purchased for $125,000 as a yearling at the 2012 Keeneland September sale. He is the first foal to race from the stakes-winning Featherbed, a daughter of Smart Strike who finished second in the 2006 edition of the Grade 1 Matron.
Dynamic Impact's third maternal dam, multiple stakes heroine In My Cap, is a full sister to Grade 1 winner Trumpet's Blare and multiple Grade 3 queen Passing Vice. This is also the female family of Grade 1 winner Albert the Great, an earner of more than $3 million.
Mr Speaker brings gavel down in Lexington
"I thought Jose (Lezcano) rode a great race on him," McGaughey said. "He had him in the slot the whole way there and was just kind of waiting. I saw him reach up and grab him again around the 4 1/2 (furlong) pole, and I thought, 'Well, he's got a lot of horse. We'll just see what happens when the running starts.'"
Divine Oath, who didn't draw into the Blue Grass from the also-eligible list, was rerouted to the Lexington as Plan B. Slowly away after brushing the gate, he got up for second, denying Supermonic by a head.
"We were hoping to get a crack at the Blue Grass Stakes, but this was always the back-up plan," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "I think he would have made a good showing of himself like he did today. He ran well today."
"Unfortunately, I kind of missed the break out of the gate," jockey Javier Castellano said of Divine Oath. "I think that could have cost me my position in the race. I expected to be closer to the pace but unfortunately, the way (the race) unfolded, I had to come from behind. But that's the way the race developed."
Ami's Holiday, who raced in tandem with Mr Speaker early, wound up fourth in this seasonal reappearance. Ami's Holiday was the only entrant who could have leapfrogged into the Derby field with a victory on Saturday. Owner Ivan Dalos had already dismissed the idea of wheeling back in two weeks at Churchill, however.
Next came Solitary Ranger, Poker Player, Z Lucky and Ride Away. Dynamic Impact and Global Strike were scratched in favor of Saturday's Grade 3 Illinois Derby, while Morning Calm was likewise withdrawn.
The Kentucky-bred is the second winner produced by Salute, who was runner-up in the Demoiselle and third in the Tempted as a juvenile in 2004. Salute is a daughter of Unbridled and unbeaten Hall of Famer Personal Ensign, making her a half-sister to Grade 1-winning sires Miner's Mark and Traditionally, multiple Grade 1-placed sire Our Emblem and to the aforementioned My Flag.
A four-time Grade 1 star, My Flag landed the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and 1996 Coaching Club American Oaks, Ashland and Gazelle, and she also placed third versus males in the Belmont Stakes. The Easy Goer mare became a successful producer as well, responsible for 2002 champion two-year-old filly Storm Flag Flying, stakes scorer With Flying Colors, stakes-placed sire Leading the Parade and Grade 3-placed On Parade, the dam of Grade 2 hero Parading.
Like Mr Speaker, Parading is himself a son of Pulpit, and primarily a turf horse, who took his game to synthetic at Keeneland and ran away with the 2009 Ben Ali. He ended his career with a second in the Fayette over the same track that fall.
La Verdad will not be denied in Distaff 'Cap
La Verdad was worth $6 as the 2-1 favorite over 2-1 second pick Kauai Katie, who was returning in this spot off a more than eight-month vacation. The Malibu Moon miss lost her footing at the start and raced near the rear on the backstretch before picking it up in the lane under jockey John Velazquez and taking second by 1 1/4 lengths over My Pal Chrisy.
Bred in New York by Eklektikos Stable LLC, La Verdad is the first registered stakes winner out of the stakes-placed Hook and Ladder mare Noble Fire. Her second dam is dual stakes vixen Noble Affair.
Frac Daddy stars in Ben Ali
"Trip was very easy," Garcia said. He broke good, real sharp, right beside the speed. He was in control all the way to the top of the stretch.
"When I asked a couple of times, he took off. He was so easy to rate. He's an impressive horse. Kenny did an excellent job with this one."
Off as the 5-1 fourth choice among 10 rivals, Frac Daddy paid $13.20 to win.
Stealcase came on late to take second at 14-1, three parts of a length better than the late-running Nikki's Sandcastle. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to 7-2 favorite Newsdad, who trailed most of the way before rallying belatedly for fourth.
Farhaan, Joha, Winning Cause, Norumbega, Red Rifle and Hattaash completed the order of finish.
With the $90,000 payday, Frac Daddy has now earned $515,280 from a 14-4-5-0 record.
A 9 3/4-length maiden winner in his second career start, Frac Daddy jumped straight to stakes company with a runner-up finish in the 2012 Kentucky Jockey Club. That marked his juvenile finale and the colt entered his sophomore season full of promise, but Frac Daddy opened last year with a disappointing sixth in the Holy Bull before a well-beaten seventh in the Florida Derby.
He turned things around with a runner-up finish in the Arkansas Derby and proceeded to the Kentucky Derby, but Frac Daddy never threatened after breaking from post 17 on the sloppy track, checking in 16th. He wound up trailing in the Belmont Stakes before earning a freshening.
Frac Daddy came back in late August to capture a turf allowance at Saratoga but followed it with a listless seventh in the Saranac. He came back to win an allowance over Keeneland's Polytrack last October, scoring by 3 1/2 lengths, and concluded 2013 with a close second in the Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs.
Runner-up when making his 2014 bow in the March 1 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston, Frac Daddy delivered a career-best performance on Saturday.
"He's been training freaky good lately," McPeek said. "From the beginning, he's been an extremely talented horse but mentally he was a horse that was a little fragile. I think the Derby was a little tough on him because of the big field and it came up muddy, but the older he's getting, the better he's getting obviously."
Bred in Kentucky by Nancy M. Leonard Living Trust, Frac Daddy sold for $20,000 as a weanling at the 2010 Keeneland November sale before being purchased for $50,000 at the Keeneland September sale the following year. He's out of the stakes-placed Skip Away mare Skipper's Mate, a daughter of 1997 Delaware Handicap winner Power Play. The broodmare counts stakes winner Vegas Play as a half-brother.
McPeek alluded to Frac Daddy's affinity for Polytrack when asked whether he had any plans to run him back on the dirt at Churchill Downs.
"I don't know about that. Actually may shift him back to the grass if there aren't any Polytrack races available, and they're going to be slim. So I don't know what I'm going to do with him this fall -- we'll worry about that later."
Flashy American has wind to her back in Sixty Sails
Flashy American proved to have more staying power over nine furlongs than Sonja's Angel when rallying inside that rival to take the Grade 3, $150,000 Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne on Saturday.
Tracking a couple of lengths behind Sonja's Angel, who set an uncontested pace of :24, :48 3/5 and 1:13 1/5 while racing well off the rail, Flashy American took advantage of that rival's wide drift into the stretch by surging up inside of her and pulling away in the final furlong to win by three-quarters of a length under Chris Emigh.
Owned by Preston Stables and trained by Kenny McPeek, Flashy American paid $7.80 as the 5-2 second choice after completing the distance in 1:50 1/5 over a fast track.
Sonja's Angel, the slight favorite at 5-2, finished 3 3/4 lengths clear of Gamay Noir, who was followed across the finish line by Ana Luisa, Dixie Strike, Imposing Grace, and Dress the Part. Distinctive Review was scratched.
A five-year-old gray daughter of Flashy Bull, Flashy American ran for claiming tags in two of her first four wins, but graduated to stakes company last summer. A romping 5 1/2-length scorer in the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows in her stakes debut, she later added wins in the restricted Alada at Saratoga and the Locust Grove at Churchill Downs.
Flashy American also fared well against graded-quality foes last year, finishing second in the Shuvee Handicap at Saratoga, fourth in the Zenyatta at Santa Anita, and third in the Falls City Handicap back at Churchill. She was a sub-par sixth in the Azeri over a wet Oaklawn track on March 15 in her seasonal bow. With the Sixty Sails triumph, her record improved to 26-8-3-3, $515,163.
Produced by the multiple stakes-placed Inn Between, a daughter of Quiet American, Flashy American was bred in Kentucky by H & W Thoroughbreds.
Rosalind, other top Oaks contenders, work for big race
My Miss Sophia, on the inside, finished a neck in front of Got Lucky during their half-mile breeze in :48. They recorded splits of :12, :24 and :35 4/5 while galloping out five-eighths in 1:01 3/5.
"I thought they both breezed very well," Pletcher said. "They seemed to handle the racetrack fine. I'm very happy. They both seemed to have settled in well since their races in New York. I like the way they're training.
Fashion Plate, winner of the Las Virgenes and Santa Anita Oaks in her last two starts, turned a half-mile in company with fellow Simon Callaghan pupil Bajan, who ran third in the Santa Anita Oaks.
Each filly was timed in :49 3/5. Fashion Plate is headed to the Kentucky Oaks while Bajan is ticketed for the Grade 3, $175,000 Eight Belles at Churchill, also on May 2.
"It was a perfect work, just an easy half," Callaghan said of Fashion Plate's move. "Her main work will be here next Saturday."
Fashion Plate brings a three-race win streak into the Kentucky Oaks while Bajan will be cutting back in the Eight Belles to the seven-furlong distance over which she captured the Moccasin last November at Hollywood Park.
Grand Tito captures off-the-turf Miami Mile
Decisive Moment filled out the fourth spot as the 53-1 second longest shot on the board and was followed under the wire by Flatter, Padilla, Alley Oop Oop, Tale of the Heart, Travelin Man, Hey Leroy and Buffalo. Dad'z Laugh, Dangerous Lad, Monument Hill and Summer Front were all withdrawn.
Grand Tito earned just his second stakes win in this spot, adding the Miami Mile to a victory in the Showing Up at Gulfstream last July. The dark bay four-year-old also missed by only a quarter-length when third in the Tropical Park Derby in October for trainer Antonio Sano. He improved his scorecard on Saturday to 15-5-2-1 and has now accumulated $167,685 in career earnings.
Bred in Kentucky by Hargus & Sandra Sexton and Ben P. Walden Jr., Grand Tito sold for $225,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. He is the first registered stakes winner out of the Common Grounds mare Golden Arches, who captured a pair of Grade 2 contests stateside and a Group 3 in her native France.
Grand Tito's second dam is the *Cougar II mare Echoes of Eternity, who is a full sister to the 1982 Kentucky Derby-winning sire Gato del Sol and a half-sibling to Group 1 heroine Tersa. The latter mare is herself the dam of multiple Grade 1-scoring millionaire and classic-placed Rock Hard Ten. This female family also includes 1959 champion three-year-old filly Silver Spoon, ancestress of multiple graded winners.
Kid Cruz overcomes slow pace in Federico Tesio
Matuszak, an 11-1 chance, rallied to finish second by a head over Joint Custody. Sassicaia, Mr. Rover, and Oliver Zip rounded out the order of finish after the withdrawals of Elevated, Ground Control, and Undertaker.
Kid Cruz races for Vina Del Mar Throughbreds and Black Swan Stable and is trained by Linda Rice. Black Swan Stable was the sole owner of the Kentucky-bred until he was claimed for $50,000 out of a six-length maiden win at Aqueduct in November. Second against allowance foes in his sophomore debut, Kid Cruz came from 18 lengths down to take the $100,000 Private Terms at Laurel by four lengths on March 8.
"This horse really ran a terrific race even though we had to miss a work," said assistant trainer Marsha Barrs. "We got knocked off the Derby trail after the Private Terms but after some time off he's back to his old self and our long range options include the Preakness (on May 17), pending how he comes out of this race today."
Bred by Machmer Hall, Kid Cruz will enter his next start with a record of 5-3-1-0, $161,375.
"I turned for home, I stayed right where I wanted to be off the rail. If I gave them a passing lane they would have to come down the rail where it is a little deeper. Once she kicked clear I felt very confident. She's a very talented horse. A fun ride for a 62-year-old."
Do Somethin beat Red's Round Table for second by a head. She's Ordained, 2-1 favorite I'm Mom's Favorite, Malibu Holiday, and Bobby Jo rounded out the order of finish. Frivolity was scratched.
The Primonetta was the ninth career stakes win for Winning Image, whose most lucrative score came in the $150,000 My Juliet at Parx Racing. That race honors the 1976 champion sprinter, who Black rode frequently during the latter part of her career.
Now two-for-two on the year, having also registered a win in the $100,000 What a Summer at Laurel on January 25, Winning Image boosted her career record to 27-13-4-4, $650,137.
"I was a little concerned about the layoff but she ran great again," said Michael Aro, who trains the Southern Image mare for Martin Scafidi. "I was hoping she would because we've had to go through two quarantines (at Parx Racing) and with all that bad weather she still did a great job today. When Tony Black says this is one of the best horses he has ridden since the 80s, that's really telling you something. He just keeps going."
Winning Image was bred in Kentucky by Dreamfields Inc. and Don Brady.
Roadhog finished second, a half-length ahead of Nutello, who was followed under the wire by Under Control, Change of Command, Smash and Grab, Wry Me, and Indian Jones. Powder Mountain, Super Chunky, and Tiz Gianni were scratched.
Bred in Maryland by Sagamore, Hamp was recording his first stakes win, with his best finish in five previous added-money attempts a third in the 2012 Marylander at Laurel. Hamp was exiting a third-place effort against $62,500 optional claiming company at Gulfstream, and his record now stands at 16-4-0-4, $150,237.
A debut winner at Pimlico going 4 1/2 furlongs on the main track last April 18, Knit One Purr Too did not reappear until February 28 when she finished second against allowance company at Laurel. A two-length winner over that track at the same level the following month, she entered the Stormy Blues off a close second-place finish against second-level allowance company over the course and distance April 11.
"I wouldn't have come back this quick normally but when I saw her show all that speed last week against those good older fillies and mares I thought this was a great spot for straight three-year olds," Kobiskie said. "She's bred for nothing but turf and you're so limited with straight three-year old filly sprint turf stakes that I really couldn't let this opportunity get by. This filly's very talented. I knew at the top of the lane she was going to give me 110 percent. This was a very impressive race today."
Knit One Purr Too was bred in Ontario by Dr. B. Van Arem and now possesses a mark of 5-3-2-0, $125,010.
Grandeur, Guineas prospect Ertijaal highlight the All-Weather Championships
Racing was conducted for the first time on Good Friday in Britain when Lingfield hosted the inaugural £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day, and the most thrilling finish of the day was saved until last when Yvonne Jacques' Grandeur got the better of an epic tussle with Dick Doughtywylie in the £200,000 All-Weather Middle Distance Championship in front of a 8,777 sell-out crowd.
The five-year-old gray son of Verglas is trained in Newmarket by Jeremy Noseda, and entered the race off a 2014 debut win in the February 22 Winter Derby Trial and eighth-place effort in the Group 3 Winter Derby itself on March 22.
"Everything went wrong last time (in the Winter Derby), but to be honest I don't think too much went right today," Noseda. "There was no real pace for him -- I'm thrilled that he's won but it's just a shame that he's made such hard work of it.
"It sounds strange. I'm thrilled that he's won but he's a much better horse than those he's taken on today. They didn't go quickly enough for him and he was quite handy, whereas I think he's a better horse if he can sit further back in a strongly-run race.
"He's never a horse who is going to win by a long way but I thought he'd have at least a length on them. He's won though, that's the main thing."
Ryan Moore produced Grandeur with a well-timed run to land a bumper prize in the Middle Distance Championships.
"Last time out he had a bad draw and I thought he'd get in behind the leaders and settle in fifth or sixth. But Dick Doughtywylie got out of the stalls quickly and I got caught out and it became a messy race," Moore said. "Today the second had everything go his way and then we got a good run through.
"He's a tricky horse to place because he doesn't want the ground too quick but at the same time he can't go if it's too soft," Moore said. "So Jeremy has done a very good job placing him as he's won a lot of prize money. He's a Grade 2 winner in the States as well.
Noseda indicated that Grandeur is likely to head back to America, where he has raced successfully in the past to record victories in a pair of Grade 2 contests in California.
"I'm delighted -- this was the plan to win," Noseda added. "I was very disappointed on Winter Derby day so I said before the race that this was redemption day and we've had redemption. He's shown that he likes racing in America, so we'll probably head to Belmont Park in May and June to race on the turf there."
The second Dick Doughtywylie's trainer John Gosden and his wife, Rachel Hood, who owns and bred the six-year-old, were thrilled with the performance of their horse in finishing a head second to Grandeur.
"I thought that he was going to win 25 yards out. It is the best performance of his career and we are thrilled with him," Gosden said. "It made an exciting finish. He got headed, came back and got headed on the line. I think the best horse has won but we are over the moon with our fellow."
Cam Hardie, the 17-year-old apprentice to Richard Hannon, had extra reason to celebrate on Good Friday. Not only did he win the £50,000 All-Weather Championships Apprentice Handicap for the Heffer Syndicate aboard Viewpoint, but he made history by becoming the first jockey to ride a winner on Good Friday in Britain by getting the All-Weather Championships card underway.
Beating Grendisar by a neck, it was Hardie's first winner for his boss but sixth in total since the beginnning of 2014.
"It's the best day of my career so far and I'd like to thank everyone who has helped to get me here," said Hardie, whose father, William, is head lad to Tim Easterby in Yorkshire. "Tim Easterby got me the job with Mr Hannon and I'm very grateful.
"This is really special. It's a big meeting and there was a really good reception. I'm over the moon, it's my first winner for the boss. Viewpoint was feeling great, he's really fresh. Winning this was something different to the normal handicaps."
With Hannon still in Newmarket following the Craven Breeze-up Sale, his traveling head lad David Bourton added, "Cam has been with us for a year and a bit and that was his first win for the boss. Cam rode to orders and gave the horse a great ride, let's hope it's the first of many he rides for us.
Next up, Living the Life could hardly have been better named after delivering big-race success in the £150,000 All-Weather Championship Fillies' and Mares' Conditions Stakes for her Californian owner Henry 'Hank' Nothhaft, who had flown in specially for the race.
"In the past we've bought horses in England and shipped them to the States but I decided to get my license this year and race a few horses in England as I love coming here," said Nothhaft, who owns 40 horses spread around California, Kentucky and Philadelphia.
"We're so excited and very proud of the filly. Phil (McEntee) has done a great job for me and his brother Carl lives in Kentucky and is my bloodstock agent, so we're keeping it all in the family."
The four-year-old daughter of Footstepsinthesand will be transferred to trainer Gary Mandella in California after netting the first prize of £72,840 for her owner.
"Living the Life has paid for herself three times over since we bought her," Nothhaft added. "It was certainly worth leaving her here to run in this race. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be here.
"This is phenomenal (the day) -- it is what racing should be about. It should be a good time, it should be fun, it should be a family event and a lot of socializing. This is the best advertisement the sport can have."
Winning jockey Adam Kirby rode an enterprising race, making all to land the spoils by 3 1/2 lengths.
"I had an easy time in front and she ran into the turn really well," Kirby said. "We thought she was coming here with a chance but she was pretty impressive."
Newmarket trainer Phil McEntee celebrated the biggest victory of his career when Living the Life crossed under the wire first.
"It's truly amazing to win a race like this," McEntee remarked. "Adam is a big asset and he dictated it from the front perfectly. He got the fractions just right. My brother is Hank's racing manager in America and Hank had come over especially for this. It's great for him and hopefully it's the start of a long-term relationship.
Last month's listed Spring Cup winner Ertijaal confirmed his love of Lingfield Park with a tough follow-up win in the £150,000 All-Weather 3 Year Old Championships Conditions Stakes under Paul Hanagan, in which the Oasis Dream colt claimed £72,840 for his owner/breeder Sheikh Hamdan.
"I didn't want to be in the stalls too early and he nearly blew it there and so I had to ride him up a bit and force him so that he got settled," Hanagan explained his ride. "Once we were out he did it good, he pricked his ears and I was quite impressed with him. Once he got his position I was always confident."
Ertijaal is now two-for-two on the year at Lingfield, having captured the Spring Cup in his seasonal opener on March 22.
"Once he got out he traveled really well. It was a really rough race but he held his position well and did a good job," said Maureen Haggas, wife of the colt's trainer, William. "We had to come for this race -- it was the obvious race to go for, there's lots of prize money and it was the right race to run in -- but I think he'll be an even better horse on the grass."
Owner Hamdan Al Maktoum's assistant racing manager Richard Hills reported that Ertijaal could head to the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket in 15 days' time.
"Paul gave the horse a really good ride and we'll look forward to stepping him up to a mile now," Hills remarked. "I hope he goes (to the Guineas) but we will talk to Sheikh Hamdan and see what he would like to do. The horse is still learning, he got injured last year and had had a long time off before his comeback here last month."
With regard to Ertijaal's entry in the Two Thousand Guineas on the first Saturday of May, Haggas said, "He might be a horse to take a bit more time with. He never had a proper break in the winter because he had a few problems and that's when they get a chance to develop. I don't think he's still properly developed -- he looks better now than he did six weeks ago but he still looks a bit of a baby. He hasn't really filled out yet."
Commenting on the atmosphere at Lingfield for the All-Weather Championships, she added, "It's fantastic. I can't believe how many people are here, it's amazing really. It's great that it's been supported and anything that brings money into racing is a good thing."
George Baker is widely regarded as one of the best jockeys when it comes to riding Lingfield and his track experience paid off for trainer Seamus Durack, who had the 2-1 favourite Litigant spot on to claim glory in the £150,000 All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes for owner Tony Byrne.
"That was great," Baker said. "Jim Crowley (on runner-up Arch Villain) stole a bit of a march on me on the turn but my fellow was resolute and he did it really well in the end.
"I ride here a lot in the winter on everyday horses so it's nice to win a really big race. All the lads in the weighing-room are perfectly happy to be riding on Good Friday as long as the prize money is good and this day just shows that if you put on good prize money, you'll get decent horses and a decent crowd.
"You don't normally have to fight for a parking space at Lingfield but we did today. It's a great day."
Baker brought Litigant with a late and decisive run to capture the Marathon by a half-length to the delight of Durack.
"George said it took a while to get into top gear but the horse has a real turn of foot when he does reach top gear," Durack explained, before adding, "This day is a brilliant initiative and it's great for our little yard, we only have 20 horses including jumpers. It's like having five or six heritage handicaps in one day in terms of prize money. We set our stall out to try and win this race a while ago and had been looking forward to seeing him run.
"He is a really nice horse and is still improving -- I'm not sure how good he is. He saw two miles out really well today and I think he might be even better on the turf than the All-Weather. He might be a viable candidate for some of the Cup races.
"He was with Andre Fabre, then went to Godolphin, where he had a few issues with sore shins and never ran. He went to the sales at Doncaster in January last year when we got him. He had a couple of issues which we have sorted out."
Trainer Richard Fahey made the long journey from North Yorkshire worthwhile when Alben Star got up late to win the £150,000 All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes for owners Ken Shannon and Mike Scaife.
"It's been a while since I've been to Lingfield, I think the last time was when I was riding in a two-mile chase!" Fahey noted. "But this is a fantastic day and my only problem was getting in as it's so busy -- I missed the first race.
"This horse worked brilliantly last week and I told (jockey) Paul (Hanagan) he had a big chance. Paul moved on to bigger things (as retained rider for Hamdan Al Maktoum) but we were together for 17 years and we'll always be part of each other.
"They went a full flat-out gallop and it was a good honest-run race today which suited us.
"Today was our Derby and this was a huge day for the horse. I hope the handicapper doesn't kill him and he'll be entered in all the big sprint handicaps. I'd be surprised if he could step up much more on this.
"The horse is the walking wounded, he's had chips three time but we had a new vet -- John McVeigh -- who greased his joints and gave him a bit of a service. I think he's found 10 pound for that."
"They went a really good gallop and when he gets that strong pace he loves it," Hanagan said. "I'm delighted for the owners. I was confident I had it on the line and I gave him a pat down the neck.
"It's fantastic to have two winners on a day like this and well done to everyone who made it happen."
Captain Cat missed out on his early Flat turf season target of the Lincoln but waiting for All-Weather Championships Finals Day paid dividends for his connections when the statuesque five-year-old scooped the pot in the £150,000 All-Weather Mile Championships. The Roger Charlton-trained gelding was chased home by Highland Knight, with Alfred Hutchinson taking third, and set a new course record of 1:34.51, beating the existing record of 1:34.77.
"That was fantastic. It was a really fast-run race, which is what we thought we'd get today," stated Barry Hurley of owner Seasons Holidays. "He's only a lightly-raced horse and he doesn't like the ground moving underneath him, which is why we didn't run him on soft ground in the Lincoln."
James Doyle, who partnered Captain Cat to glory, added, "He's won nicely in the end. He's quite a character who has got his traits but he has a lot of ability. He's starting to get his act together.
"They went a hell of a pace early on and it was always the plan to wait and ride him like a nice horse. He quickened up well when he needed to. Everyone jumped out too well and they were pushing me into the rail, which I didn't want to be sucked into doing. I could afford to be patient. He wants good or slightly better ground as he is such a good mover and has always been a nice horse.
"This is a fantastic day. I've been in Dubai for a lot of the winter so missed the racing here but it's great to have a day like this with good prize money and super horses."
Beholder 'looks the same' as in BC Distaff
When last seen, Beholder was storming her way to a 4 1/4-length triumph in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff, leaving in her wake champion Royal Delta and Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar.
That was last November 1 at Santa Anita. Beholder has been resting on her considerable laurels, so to speak, ever since, but on Sunday, the daughter of Henny Hughes owned by B. Waynes Hughes and trained by Richard Mandella returns to work in earnest in the $75,000 Santa Lucia Stakes.
"We're just happy to be back," Mandella said on an overcast Friday morning at Santa Anita. "She trains as good as ever and we hope she runs as good as ever."
Asked if there were any noticeable changes in Beholder, physically or emotionally, from three to four, Mandella quipped: "I'm emotional. I'm pretty nervous about it."
That might be understandable anytime a trainer sends out a prohibitive favorite, which Mandella has done many times in a Hall of Fame career that lists Phone Chatter (1993) and Halfbridled (2003) among his previous two-year-old filly champions. Beholder has surpassed both of them, winning an Eclipse Award as champion two-year-old filly of 2012 and champion three-year-old filly of 2013.
"Beholder looks the same (as she did at the end of her three-year-old season)," Mandella said. "She grew up fast, as is obvious by her record. She matured very quickly. She's the same filly we sent out (after winning the Distaff); we hope she runs the same."
After finishing second by a half-length at 9-1 to Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks early last May, Beholder ripped off three straight daylight victories: the ungraded Torry Pines at Del Mar on September 1; the Grade 1 Zenyatta on September 28; and the Grade 1 Distaff, cementing the title in the three-year-old filly division.
"She got so much better as she got older," Mandella said when asked the differences, if any, from Beholder to Phone Chatter and Halfbridled. "The other fillies came up with problems, and that compromised them. Beholder didn't."
Beholder's regular rider, Gary Stevens, is keeping strategy simple.
"I just want to get away from there clean and let her do her thing," the Hall of Famer said.
Among Beholder's rivals in the Santa Lucia is City at Dawn, who will be making her stakes debut. Trainer Leonard Powell is nothing if not realistic when it comes to his chances of defeating Beholder in the 1 1/16-mile event for fillies and mares.
"My filly has a nice pedigree, but mostly we're running for second or third," Powell said, speaking of the City Zip half-sister to Grade 2 winner Al Khali.
"The thinking was, with Beholder running, it would be a small field and give us an opportunity to get some black type," Powell said. "She's got nowhere else to run, anyway."
Mitchell passes the baton to longtime assistant D'Amato
After a memorable career that began four decades ago, Mike Mitchell is taking time to smell the roses. The 65-year-old trainer will pass full-time training duties on to assistant Phil D'Amato Sunday and lend considerable knowledge to his former aide of 10 years in a supporting role.
"We're still a team," said Mitchell, the son of the late trainer, Earl Mitchell, and a fixture in Southern California since 1974. "For me, it's not about most wins and records. I've done it all. Now, it's time to enjoy being part of the team.
"I'll still lend my support and give my advice and counseling, and be out at the track most mornings, but I want to travel and take care of my health. Phil's been like a son to me, and he's getting new clients in his own right. It's been a beautiful relationship but the time is right for this move."
A two-time leading trainer at Santa Anita's winter/spring meetings in 1992-93 and 2007-08, Mitchell is currently fifth on the all-time Santa Anita trainer's leaderboard with 659 wins, behind only Bobby Frankel, Charlie Whittingham, Ron McAnally and Bob Baffert. Mitchell was also leading trainer three times at Santa Anita's Oak Tree Meetings, taking titles in 1995, 1996 and 2004.
A perennial contender for leading trainer honors at all major meets in Southern California dating back to the late 70's, Mitchell was always known as a great claiming trainer and a keen judge of talent whose ability to analyze the way races would be run paid his clients and backers consistent dividends throughout his remarkable career.
Mitchell, a native of Bakersfield, has won 18 meet titles and 2,668 races, including a record 476 at Del Mar. In 2012, he had surgery to remove a brain tumor. D'Amato, 37, directed the stable operation during Mitchell's long recovery.
Among Mitchell's rejuvenated former claiming horses that he developed into stakes winners were Big Booster, Church Service, Ever a Friend, On the Acorn and Star Over the Bay, whom he claimed for $80,000 en route to a Grade 1 win in the Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship in 2004. His most recent Grade 1 winner is the recently retired Egg Drop, who captured the Matriarch on December 1 at Hollywood Park.
His final stats for the meet are 29-6-7-5, good for a win percentage of 21. His horses finished in the money at a 62 percent clip this meet.
Mitchell and his wife, Denise, have two adult daughters, McCall and Shea.
Beholder returns in Santa Lucia
Like Zenyatta, she is trained by John Shirreffs and will be ridden for the second time in a row by Mike Smith. Owned by St. George Farm Racing, LLC, she is 4-2-1-0 with earnings of $77,800.
The complete field for the Santa Lucia Stakes, to be run as the 8TH race on a nine-race card Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Legacy, Drayden Van Dyke, 117; Moulin de Mougin, Martin Garcia, 117; Beholder, Gary Stevens, 123; Magic Union, Victor Espinoza, 117; Eblouissante, Mike Smith, 117; City At Dawn, Julien Couton, 117, and Irish Presence, Tyler Baze, 117.
First post time on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. (PDT). Admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m.
FrontRunner (G1) winner Bond Holder (Mineshaft) has succumbed to laminitis, trainer Doug O'Neill posted on Facebook Saturday. The statement read, "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Bond Holder to laminitis. Bond Holder through each setback fought valiantly and never gave up. However the severity of the laminitis was ultimately too much to overcome. Our condolences to Mr. (J. Paul) Reddam and the caregivers that did everything they could to save him. Our collective hearts are heavy." Bond Holder, who ran creditably in several maidens last summer, broke through with a 2 1/4-length decision in the September 28 FrontRunner at Santa Anita, beating eventual Blue Grass (G1) winner Dance With Fate (Two Step Salsa). He ended the season by finishing fourth in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and CashCall Futurity (G1). Expected to start his road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) in the February 22 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, he endured a rough flight, got banged up, and had to miss the race. Plans called for him to fly back home to Southern California, but he got upset on that flight and was rerouted to Florida, where connections hoped to run him in the March 8 Tampa Bay Derby (G2). But foot trouble ensued, and he had to be transported to a clinic, where he developed the laminitis that proved fatal...
Finger Lakes, which just opened on Friday, has already been forced to cancel one of its cards. Officials at the Farmington, New York, track have called off live racing on Monday due to a shortage in horses ready to start. Extended and severe cold weather this winter caused delays in training over the past month that has ultimately resulted in fewer horses being ready for the start of the meet. Officials decided to eliminate Monday from the schedule in an effort to stabilize the remaining days early in the season while other horses round into shape and additional ones arrive from warmer locales. "After a great start to the season (on Friday and Saturday), it is difficult to make this decision," said Chris Riegle, Finger Lakes president and general manager. "However, it ultimately should lead to better racing for everyone involved as we move further into the 2014 meet." No other changes have been made at this time to the Finger Lake's racing calendar. Live racing is expected to resume on Tuesday with a 1:10 p.m. (EDT) first post...
Bienstock & Winner's Flamboyant (Peer Gynt) made his U.S., and stakes, debut a winning one on Saturday at Santa Anita, rallying late in the $79,750 La Puente to nip Home Run Kitten (Kitten's Joy) on the wire by a neck. The Paddy Gallagher-trained sophomore entered the nine-furlong, firm-turf test off a runner-up effort in his native France, and prevailed in a final time of 1:47 2/5 despite weaving back and forth in the lane under jockey Corey Nakatani. Flamboyant is now 3-2-2 from seven lifetime starts and doubled his career earnings to $92,775...
Sisterly Love (Bellamy Road) became the first two-time winner of the Keeneland meet Friday when she upset heavily favored Emollient (Empire Maker) in the Doubledogdare (G3). With the La Troienne (G1) scheduled May 2 at Churchill Downs, trainer Mark Casse is not inclined to strike while the iron is hot. "No, she is going to get a little break," Casse said about the Gary Barber-owned six-year-old mare, who gave him his meet-leading seventh winner. Sisterly Love dueled with Emollient through most of the 1 1/16-mile race and then held off Moment in Dixie (Dixieland Band). "I expected her to run well," Casse said. "She trained well here and runs well on the Polytrack. What did surprise me was she showed so much gameness. She is not an easy horse to ride. As long as she gets settled, she runs well but sometimes she gets flustered. I thought (jockey) Stewart (Elliott) did a good job and didn't get in a speed duel when Emollient came at her early." Moment in Dixie, who finished a neck behind Sisterly Love, came out of the race well, according to her trainer, James Toner. "She ran really huge and really stepped up," Toner said. "She can run on anything and I knew she could handle the Polytrack, but it was a question of whether she would be competitive with those horses and we found out she is." Toner said the five-year-old mare would go to Belmont Park with possibly a trip to Baltimore on Preakness day for the Gallorette (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Emollient also was fine Saturday morning, said Garrett O'Rourke, manager of U.S. operations for owner/breeder Juddmonte Farms. "When I went back and looked at (the race) last night, I didn't think she ran that badly," he said. "She gave away five pounds. She gave away an awful lot of ground, especially on the first turn. She had to stay on the engine all the time; got around the bend and hung on there and just ran out of gas. It was not what we hoped for but not a disaster." O'Rourke said the immediate racing future for Emollient would have to be determined. "Long term, if she's good enough and she's still on top of her game, I'd love to have her back in the (Breeders' Cup) Filly and Mare Turf in the fall," he said...
Nine distaffers have been entered to go five furlongs on Gulfstream Park's turf Sunday in the $75,000 Safari Queen. Madame Giry (Castledale) headlines the field as she tries to get back to the winner's circle following a pair of close runner-up efforts and a fourth in the Lightning City last out. A four-time stakes winner thus far, the Cam Gambolati trainee was making her five-year-old debut in the Lightning City and rallied from the back of that five-furlong contest to be 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner in fourth. Madame Giry was a half-length second in the Franklin County at Keeneland and a neck runner-up in a Gulfstream allowance to close out 2013, and gets Eddie Castro in the irons for this one. "She tries every single time, every effort. If you look at her past performances, when she loses, there's usually an excuse -- whether she loses ground or is forced to go too wide or gets a poor ride," said Gambolati, who saddled Horse of the Year Spend a Buck to victory in the 1985 Kentucky Derby. "She tries every time, that's the bottom line." Also in with a chance is Angel's South (Tale of the Cat), who will be shortening up after a neck third in the Ten Palms and a half-length second against optional claiming company, both going a mile at Gulfstream...
Recently crowned Sovereign Award winner Go Greeley (Horse Greeley) will make his sophomore bow on Sunday in the C$125,000 Woodstock at Woodbine. The John Ross-trained dark bay was honored as Canada's champion two-year-old male after taking the Simco, Vandal and Colin in 2013 while placing in the Grey (G3) and Clarendon. Go Greeley was last seen in the October 6 Grey and gets jockey Patrick Husbands in the irons for the first time. His rivals in Sunday's six-furlong Polytrack affair include Jose Sea View (Badge of Silver), whose only loss last season came in the Nashua over Aqueduct's dirt race sandwiched between victories in the Display and Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile, and Puntrooskie (In Summation), a 6 3/4-length maiden winner at Gulfstream on March 14...
Multiple Grade 2 winner Silentio (Silent Name), prepping for the June 14 Shoemaker Mile (G1), worked six furlongs in 1:13 2/5 over Santa Anita's fast main track Saturday. The Gary Mandella trainee comes off a fifth in the March 8 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1)...
Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux will return to ride full time in Southern California next month, his new agent, Mike Ciani, said Saturday morning. "He could start riding at Santa Anita on Kentucky Oaks Day (May 2) if business doesn't call for him to be at Churchill Downs that weekend," Ciani said. "If that's the case, he could end up at Santa Anita. Either way, he would start full time at Santa Anita the following week. He's planning on riding through Santa Anita (June 29) and then continue on at Del Mar." Desormeaux, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner, has seven wins from 35 mounts riding intermittently this meet under former agent Danny Thomas, who now represents Joe Steiner...
In other Santa Anita jockey news, agent Sarah Wolfe reports that leading apprentice rider Drayden Van Dyke won seven races (including a dead-heat) at Turf Paradise on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Agent Dudley Osborne now represents jockey Eswan Flores, while apprentice Jimmy Guzman has moved his tack to Golden Gate Fields...
On Easter Sunday, families are invited to Santa Anita for the largest Easter egg hunt in the San Gabriel Valley. The family Fun Zone in the Infield offers inflatable jumpers, face painting, pony rides and more. Visit santaanita.com for details. Also, Tom Quigley's handicapping seminar guest on Sunday will be Joe Talamo, the meet's second-leading rider. The seminar begins at 11:10 a.m. (PDT)...
Santa Anita ends its winter meet Easter Sunday. First post time is 12:30 p.m.; gates open at 10:30 a.m. There will be no live racing at Santa Anita Monday through Thursday, but Santa Anita will be open April 24 for simulcast wagering in Sironas and the Paddock Room. Gates open at 10:15 a.m. Live racing resumes Friday, with twilight racing starting at 3 p.m. First post time on Saturday, April 26, and Sunday, April 27, will be 1 p.m., with gates opening at 11 a.m.
Keeneland will be closed on Easter Sunday. Racing resumes Wednesday with the first race at 1:05 p.m. (EDT). The final two days of the spring meet are next Thursday and Friday.
For Sunday or Next Raceday
At a Glance
AT A GLANCE SCHEDULE
*all times Eastern
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.
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: Nancy.Kanaval@brisnet.com, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.