Game On Dude calls it a career
Game On Dude was unraced at two, but the son of Awesome Again soon flashed talent. He broke his maiden second time out at Gulfstream Park for Mike Mareina, and Schiappa subsequently bought a part-interest. After a seventh in the 2010 Florida Derby in his stakes debut, he was transferred to Baffert, and he has raced for his current connections ever since.
A 4 1/2-length winner of the Lone Star Derby in his second try for Baffert, Game On Dude was fourth to Drosselmeyer next time in the Belmont Stakes, and headed to the sidelines for the rest of his sophomore year.
After another score in the Awesome Again (formerly the Goodwood that had since been renamed for his sire), Game On Dude was dispatched as the 6-5 favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic at his home track of Santa Anita. But the big prize eluded him. Following a troubled start, he never made it to his preferred spot on the engine, and he reported home a lackluster seventh.
Game On Dude got a confidence booster in the Native Diver, setting him up for a winning spree in 2013. He steamrolled through the San Antonio for the second straight year, decimated the Big 'Cap by a record 7 3/4 lengths, showed courage to hold on in the Charles Town Classic despite not feeling entirely comfortable on the track, successfully defended his title in the Hollywood Gold Cup, and finally solved Del Mar with an 8 1/2-length romp in the Pacific Classic.
Freshened ahead of a third tilt at the Breeders' Cup Classic, the 8-5 favorite faded to ninth at Santa Anita. Aside from snapping a six-race winning streak, the loss also cost him an Eclipse Award and likely the Horse of the Year title. Game On Dude shipped to Churchill for a rear-guard attempt to regain his status in the Clark Handicap, but was collared late by eventual champion three-year-old male Will Take Charge.
Baffert doesn't have any plans for his retiree, other than letting him hang around the barn for a while.
The Hall of Famer summed up Game On Dude by referring to his best-known co-owner, baseball legend Joe Torre.
"If Joe Torre was a horse, he would be Game On Dude -- just class."
California Chrome schools, gallops for Penn Derby; Untapable, Tapiture arrive
"He likes to rock in the gate," Sherman explained. "It's something he's always done and we have to deal with it. We'll school him at the gate tomorrow. There's a couple of speed horses in the race and we hope to maybe be sitting third. We want to make sure we get off the rail and don't get trapped."
Bayern schooled with Baffert's Group 1, $1 million Cotillion entrant Jojo Warrior. The Grade 2-winning daughter of Pioneerof the Nile was cool and relaxed as she galloped 1 1/4 miles on Thursday.
"He is a lot more happy, feeling good," Lopez noted. "More frisky. So far so good. I expect to have a good race."
Breeders' Cup unveils Mattos' official poster art for Championships
"Drawing the majestic Thoroughbred in such a stunning and picturesque backdrop as Santa Anita Park has been an inspiring experience for the second consecutive year," Mattos stated. "It is a thrill once again to be a part of this tremendous international event and to share my work with fans attending from all corners of the world."
Mattos has numerous ties to the Los Angeles area. He graduated from internationally acclaimed Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and he has lectured at UC Berkeley, Stanford and C.C.A.C, among others. Another connection is his list of credentials for various film properties including Disney, MGM/UA and Coppola/American Zoetrope. The American Film Institute named his artwork for "The Rocketeer" in their 100 Best Movie Posters of all Time.
Demonstrative jumps to victory in Lonesome Glory
Parker's Project, Sheppard's fourth runner who was not part of the entry, stayed on strongly in the final yards on the flat. But Demonstrative comfortably held the 17-1 shot off by a length and paid $5.40 to win.
"He's a big, strong horse, who can carry a lot of weight," Walsh said. "He was up close today, which, as it turned out, is where you wanted to be. I was confident he would win turning for home."
Spy in the Sky crossed the line third, followed by All Together, Barnstorming, Bluegrass Summer and the tailed-off For Non Stop. Divine Fortune did not finish after falling at the final fence, but both he and jockey Darren Nagle sprang back up on their feet.
Demonstrative now sports a mark of 37-11-8-5, $675,061. Bred by Gainsborough Farm in Kentucky, the son of Elusive Quality was initially trained in England by Mark Johnston, for whom he won once on the flat. He was subsequently sold for $39,713 as a three-year-old at Tattersalls July, repatriated by his new connections, and transformed into a jumper.
The bay gelding boasts two wins in the New York Turf Writers Cup (2012 and 2014), the 2013 Iroquois Hurdle, the 2012 Colonial Cup Hurdle and Jonathan Kiser Novice Hurdle, 2011 William Entenmann Novice Hurdle and the 2010 Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial Hurdle. Aside from the aforementioned Smithwick, his stakes placings also include last October's Grand National Hurdle. Demonstrative opened 2014 with a distant sixth as the defending champion in the May 10 Iroquois.
"I didn't have him fit for the Iroquois, and that was my fault," Valentine said. "He's a good horse, a class horse. He just does everything. Now he's staying a little bit closer in his races. His running style needed to change a little bit."
Valentine mentioned another factor in the seven-year-old's career-best form.
"We discovered he had been entrapping his epiglottis," the trainer said. "We did the tie-back operation at Cornell. Everybody who has scoped the horse has been really impressed with the job they did."
Demonstrative could take another crack at the October 18 Grand National, if he gets the right ground conditions.
"If the ground were to come up firm at Far Hills we would probably go," Valentine said, "but if it were soft we'd stay home. He wants firm turf."
Out of French Group 3 heroine Loving Pride, a Quiet American mare, Demonstrative comes from the family of Canadian co-champion Negligee, and further back, superb miler Zilzal.
Originally based in Ireland with Dermot Weld, the bay placed in the 2010 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial and the 2010-11 editions of the Oyster at Galway. After selling for $43,710 at the 2011 Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale, he resurfaced in the silks of Dr. Marwan Koukash in 2012. Address Unknown raced mainly in handicaps, but he did finish third in the 2013 Grand Cup at York for trainer Richard Fahey. He was imported later in the season, and posted two poor efforts on the flat before reinventing himself over the jumps this campaign. Address Unknown broke his maiden in this discipline at Fair Hill May 24, and promptly added an allowance at Monmouth June 13, before his stakes tilt in the Walsh.
The Offer continues road to Melbourne Cup in Underwood
With Group 1 action in Australia quickly heating up, thoughts are naturally turning to the nation's most popular race, the Melbourne Cup November 4, and that A$6 million showpiece's early favorite, The Offer, makes his second start of the season in Saturday's Group 1 Underwood at Caulfield.
The Offer joined the Gai Waterhouse stable last year and, after performing with promise in black-type company throughout the season, blew away the opposition with a near four-length victory in the Sydney Cup April 19. He returned with an encouraging fifth-place finish running at well short of his optimum distance in the one-mile Dato Tan Chin Nam at Moonee Valley September 6, and despite the fact that he is still building up in trip his stable remains bullish about his chances.
"On his work and the way he has been I think he is a winning chance for sure," Roger Elliott, Melbourne representative to Waterhouse, told Racing and Sports. "He looks enormous. His weight is good. Everything is just going right.
"I'm pretty confident he's going along well and I think the further he gets in distance, the better he will go."
A handful of top flight rivals will ensure that The Offer does not have an easy task, and one of those is the six-year-old mare Silent Achiever. The four-time Group 1 winner really came into her own last season, recording a Group 1 hat trick in the New Zealand, Ranvet and The BMW, and she resumed with a fourth-place effort in the Memsie over 1,400 meters August 30.
Star Rolling achieved the most important victory of his career two starts back in the P.B. Lawrence and finished one slot behind The Offer last out in the Dato Tan Chin Nam. He could boast a fitness advantage while some of the more high-profile players are still getting warmed up. French stakes winner Lidari, with trainer Peter Moody since last year, transferred his form Down Under when winning the Blamey at Flemington in March. He was fifth first up in the P.B. Lawrence and fourth in the Dato Tan Chin Nam, and will be more suited to this 1,800-meter distance than some of the other key players.
The Sydney racing faithful won't soon forget the astonishing feat achieved by Chris Waller in last April's Doncaster Mile, when the champion trainer saddled the first four home in that event on the opening card of The Championships, and the conditioner is back with three of those four -- winner Sacred Falls, second Royal Descent and fourth Hawkspur --for Saturday's Group 1 George Main over the same course and distance.
On paper it is difficult to separate the trio; they have all competed most recently in the Warwick over 1,400 meters August 23 and the Chelmsford over the metric mile September 6, with Sacred Falls finishing fourth both times; Hawkspur fifth and second and Royal Descent second both times. Royal Descent currently takes a slight edge among them in the betting at 4-1.
Favored is the three-year-old Panzer Division, who enjoys a weight break of up to 19 pounds as the lone sophomore in the lineup. The winner of two of three outings, Panzer Division won the Ming Dynasty Quality September 6. Perhaps the most intriguing horse in the field is the four-year-old filly Lucia Valentina. Last season's Vinery Stud winner and Australian Oaks third recorded an eye-popping last-to-first victory first up in the Tramway September 6, and is the current joint-favorite for the Caulfield Cup October 18.
Competitive Edge undergoes surgery for fracture
Undefeated Hopeful winner Competitive Edge underwent surgery earlier this week to repair a fracture in his left foreleg, Daily Racing Form reports. Although that rules the exciting juvenile out of action for the duration of 2014, trainer Todd Pletcher expects the colt to be in fine fettle for the 2015 Triple Crown trail.
"It's only a big deal at the moment because he's a sensational two-year-old, very talented, and we were looking forward to some big races this fall," Pletcher told DRF's David Grening. "The timing of it is such that he could be back early enough in his three-year-old year that it would allow him to have a couple of significant prep races before the spring classics."
The injury came to light after Competitive Edge turned in a routine gallop Sunday at Belmont Park. Surgery was performed by renowned orthopedic specialist Dr. Larry Bramlage at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington, Kentucky, and the bay was transferred to Coolmore's Ashford Stud for a recuperation period.
Pletcher added that Competitive Edge would likely be ready to return to training in 60 days.
From the first crop of Super Saver, who gave Pletcher his only Kentucky Derby winner so far when prevailing in 2010, Competitive Edge was a $750,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida purchase. He rocketed onto must-follow lists with a 10 1/4-length debut romp at Saratoga on July 26. Coolmore principal Michael Tabor subsequently purchased an interest in the red-hot prospect from Nancy Favreau and Kathy Psoinos.
Competitive Edge made it two in a row by defeating another son of Super Saver, Saratoga Special winner I Spent It, by 5 3/4 lengths in the September 1 Hopeful. An earner of $259,800, Competitive Edge was pointing toward the October 4 Champagne before injury curtailed his season.
Bullheaded Boy, Temper Mint Patty headline Belmont juvenile stakes
Sunday's card at Belmont Park will be highlighted by a pair of New York-bred juvenile stakes races -- the $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard and $150,000 Joseph A. Gimma -- which will both be contested at seven furlongs on the main track, and serve as a prelude for the Sleepy Hollow and Maid of the Mist, to be run on October 18, Empire Showcase Day.
The Bongard will feature a promising collection of New York-bred two-year-olds, headed by the Todd Pletcher-trained Bullheaded Boy.
Bullheaded Boy, the 9-5 favorite on the morning-line, debuted over a sloppy track on July 31 at Saratoga in a five-furlong dash. The son of Bullsbay prompted the pace that day before edging clear to prevail by a half-length. The Gary Barber colorbearer made his next start in the Funny Cide Stakes for New York-breds at 6 1/2 furlongs, but was no match for the talented pair of Upstart and Bustin It and finished third, beaten 9 1/4 lengths.
Bullheaded Boy drew post 5, and Hall of Famer John Velazquez retains the mount.
Tizquick, trained by John Kimmel for GoldMark Farm, also had the misfortune of encountering Upstart in his first start. The $50,000 yearling purchase debuted on August 15 at the Spa, and was beaten 5 1/4 lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong affair.
Junior Alvarado will be back aboard Tizquick, who is 5-1 on the morning-line and drew post 4.
The addition of blinkers helped Saratoga Heater immensely in his second start, and continued improvement could be possible in the Bongard. Both of the Temple City colt's first two starts came over sloppy tracks at the Spa, but produced starkly different results.
In his debut, Saratoga Heater was beaten 10 lengths by Bullheaded Boy, but won by 2 1/4 lengths at second asking equipped with blinkers for the first time.
Previously trained by Al Stall, the bay colt will go out for Lisa Lewis and be ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario. Saratoga Heater colt sits at 7-2 on the morning-line and drew the rail.
Rounding out the field are Banana Thief, who broke his maiden by 5 1/2 front-running lengths on turf in his latest start; Market Conduct, a 2 1/2-length maiden victor on August 10 at the Spa; and Chloe's Wonderboy, who took a $25,000 maiden claimer on August 30 at Parx Racing.
The Gimma, which is restricted to fillies, is headlined by impressive debut winner Temper Mint Patty. The Congrats filly broke her maiden by a neck on August 29 at Saratoga in a gritty performance for trainer Dale Romans. She tracked a swift pace along the inside that day, was put to a drive rounding the far turn, and overhauled My Super Nova, who will also contest the Gimma, in the final jumps.
"I wish they all were as easy to train as her," Romans said. "She has a lot of talent, and hopefully will improve off (her debut). She was so professional already, and she's just been staying the course since that race. (Seven furlongs) won't be a problem for her. She sat behind horses, took dirt, and came running."
Temper Mint Patty, 4-1 on the morning-line, drew the rail and will be ridden again by Irad Ortiz Jr.
My Super Nova will represent trainer George Weaver in the Gimma. The daughter of Super Saver dueled through strong fractions in her unveiling on August 29, but succumbed late to Temper Mint Patty.
Joel Rosario takes the return call on My Super Nova, 7-2 on the morning-line, and the pair will depart from post 6.
The Gimma also features stakes winner Myfourchix, 3-1 on the morning-line. The Rick Schosberg-trained bay filly commenced her career with a strong second-place finish on July 30 at Saratoga. Rather than enter her back in a maiden race, Schosberg decided to take a shot in the 6 1/2-furlong Seeking the Ante Stakes on August 24 at the Spa and was rewarded with a three-length victory.
Cornelio Velasquez will again ride Myfourchix, and the duo drew the outermost post 7.
The field will also be joined by Hard to Stay Notgo, a sharp maiden winner on August 6 at Saratoga; Evrybdymstgetstonz, runner-up in the Lady Finger Stakes at Finger Lakes in her most recent outing; and Freudie Annie and Majestic Bloom, who broke their maidens on turf at first asking.
Oaklawn offers Lasix-free incentives
Charles J. Cella, president of Oaklawn Racing & Gaming, announced Thursday that the Arkansas track in 2015 will become the first in America to offer purse bonuses for horses that run and win without Lasix.
The Oaklawn Lasix-free Bonus program will provide a 10 percent bonus to the winner's share of the purse for all horses that run and win without Lasix. This means Oaklawn Lasix-free incentives will range from $1,080 for its minimum purse of $18,000 up to $60,000 for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby. The total potential bonus supplement will be $1.4 million.
Further, Cella said Lasix-free bonus payments will be provided by Oaklawn itself and will not come out of the purse fund. He called the program "experimental" and said he hopes it will inspire more owners and trainers to race their horses off of Lasix.
"We know some horses do indeed need Lasix in order to run to potential and I want to make this very clear: we are not advocating that horses who need Lasix, race without it," Cella said.
"However, it is also our belief that many of the horses running on Lasix may not need it. We think it is in the best interest of the sport and the breed to find a way to have more horses run without Lasix. Our hope is this program will be a step in the right direction."
The race day use of Lasix (furosemide) has been allowed in the United States since the early 1970s. Although the vast majority of Thoroughbreds race on Lasix, the Jockey Club and a growing number of the sport's more prominent owners and trainers have come out in support of reduced use of Lasix on race days.
"I applaud Oaklawn for thinking outside the box and taking a positive step toward trying to reduce race-day therapeutic medications," said Mark Lamberth, an Arkansas Racing Commissioner and chairman-elect for the Association of Racing Commissioners International. "As an owner and lover of the sport, this makes me proud to be from Arkansas, where racing continues to come first."
For decades Oaklawn was known as a hay, oats and water track. It was one of the last tracks in the country to allow Lasix on race days. Now, Oaklawn becomes the first track in the country to offer an incentive to run without Lasix.
Cella said if the results are encouraging, he would hope other tracks might consider similar programs.
"We don't know if this will work or not," Cella said. "We're trying to do the right thing. And we want to send a message that if you have a good horse that does not need Lasix, come to Oaklawn. If the program does work, we'll share the results with other tracks and racing jurisdictions, and we'll build on it here at Oaklawn."
Oaklawn's 2015 racing season will run January 9-April 11. Oaklawn purses have increased every year for seven years and it anticipates another record purse distribution of $23.5 million in 2015, more than $400,000 per day. Maiden allowance races at the start of the season will offer purses of $60,000, up $5,000 from the beginning of the 2014 racing season.
Jockey Club stats: number of live foals down 1.4 percent
The Jockey Club today reported that 2,230 stallions covered 36,656 mares in North America during 2013, according to statistics compiled through September 9, 2014. These breedings have resulted in 21,697 live foals of 2014 being reported to The Jockey Club on Live Foal Reports received as of September 9, 2014.
The Jockey Club estimates that the number of live foals reported so far is approximately 90 percent complete. The reporting of live foals of 2014 is down 1.4 percent from last year at this time when The Jockey Club had received reports for 22,001 live foals of 2013.
In addition to the 21,697 live foals of 2014 reported through September 9, The Jockey Club had also received 2,692 No Foal Reports for the 2014 foaling season. Ultimately, the 2014 registered foal crop is projected to reach 22,000.
The number of stallions declined 6.8 percent from the 2,392 reported for 2012 at this time last year, while the number of mares bred decreased 3.3 percent from the 37,908 reported for 2012.
The Jockey Club's Executive Vice President and Executive Director Matt Iuliano noted that the breeding statistics do not represent live foals born in each state or province, but are a count of live foals by conception area, regardless of where the foals were born. He also stated that the statistics do not represent the final fertility record of any stallion or conception area.
Kentucky annually leads all states and provinces in terms of Thoroughbred breeding activity. Kentucky-based stallions accounted for 43.3 percent of the mares reported bred in North America in 2013 and 51.1 percent of the live foals reported for 2014.
The 15,857 mares reported bred to 258 Kentucky stallions in 2013 have produced 11,089 live foals, a 3.4 percent increase on the 10,726 Kentucky-sired live foals of 2013 reported at this time last year. The number of mares reported bred to Kentucky stallions in 2013 increased 1.8 percent compared to the 15,569 reported for 2012 at this time last year.
Among the 10 states and provinces with the most mares covered in 2013, half produced more live foals in 2014 than in 2013 as reported at this time last year: Kentucky, California, New York, New Mexico and Texas. The following table shows the 10 states and provinces, ranked by number of state/province-sired live foals of 2014 reported through September 9, 2014.
The statistics include 338 progeny of stallions standing in North America but foaled abroad, as reported by foreign stud book authorities at the time of publication. In this category, 91 live foals by North American stallions were reported from Republic of Korea, 71 from Saudi Arabia, 42 from Great Britain, 30 from Japan and 28 from Ireland. Remaining countries on the list are Venezuela, 23; Philippines, 15; France, 9; India, 7; Turkey, 6; Russia, 4; Uruguay, 3; Argentina, 3; Qatar, 2; Jamaica, 2; Germany, 1; Barbados, 1.
The report also includes 73 mares bred to 13 stallions in North America on Southern Hemisphere time; the majority of these mares have not foaled.
KY Farm Manager of Year Award renamed in honor of Bates
Effective September 2014, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club Farm Manager of the Year Award has been renamed the Ted Bates Farm Manager of the Year Award in honor of life member, 1968 President and 1979 Farm Manager of the Year, Ted Bates. He is the permanent committee chairman for the annual selection committee for this award which is made up of the past and current Farm Managers of the Year and the past and current KTFMC Presidents along with Ted.
Ted, born Theodore Bright Bates in 1923 in Carrollton, Kentucky, comes from a farming background that includes his grandfather, Newton Bright, who served several terms in the Kentucky Senate and then was elected Commissioner of Agriculture. As a boy, Ted moved from Carrollton to Eminence where his grandfather's farms were located and where his father, Theodore W. Bates, began his law career in nearby New Castle. Ted later moved with his family to Louisville and graduated from Louisville Male High School. Ted always considered Eminence "home" and moved back there after high school where he spent a lot of time with his grandparents working on their farms as well as others in the area. Ted eventually continued his education at the University of Kentucky where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture.
Ted's first job in the Thoroughbred industry was at Coldstream Farm under farm manager Charlie Kenney. Charlie also happened to have a foreman working for him by the name of Melvin Cinnamon with whom Ted developed a lifelong friendship. Ted said, "Mr. Kenney taught me the horse business, and Melvin Cinnamon taught me horse husbandry." Not able to afford marriage on his salary at Coldstream, Ted became the assistant county extension agent for Shelby County and shortly thereafter married his wife, Evelyn Nash.
In 1956 Melvin Cinnamon convinced Ted to become his assistant manager at Maine Chance Farm owned by Elizabeth Arden Graham. Not an easy lady to work for, Melvin Cinnamon, taking Ted with him, moved to Calumet in 1958 for Mrs. Gene Markey after her manager, Mr. Paul Eblehardt, was struck by lightning while playing golf and never completely recovered. In a career there lasting five years, Ted worked with a great roster of stallions headed by the premiere sire, Bull Lea. Ted's favorite horse while at Calumet was Triple Crown Champion Citation who impressed him with his speed, determination and intelligence.
While managing Foxtail Farm on Keene Road in Nicholasville, Fasig-Tipton approached Ted about bringing that sales company back to Kentucky and hired him as general manager in 1970. After a breeding stock and mixed sale the first few years, the decision was made to have a yearling sale in 1974. Fasig-Tipton had lost its lease at the Thoroughbred Training Center and leased Henry Alexander's farm on the Old Frankfort Pike where two barns were built for their first yearling sale. Out of that first July Sale of forty-eight yearlings came Derby and Belmont winner, Bold Forbes, and Preakness winner, Elocutionist. The next year Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew came out of the Fasig-Tipton July Sale and Fasig-Tipton was firmly established as an auction house once again in Central Kentucky.
Feeling an orientation towards the farm, Ted left Fasig-Tipton in 1978 and worked as manager of Wimbledon Farm for Hilary Boone for four years and then served a brief stint with BKY farm. After this he served in an advisory capacity for Paul Miller and Kermit Blackburn. When Elmer Whitaker had a dispersal of his stock, Ted moved onto a tract of Bwamazon Farm on the Paris Pike where he started and maintained his own breeding, boarding, breaking and sales operation under the banner of Ted Bates Farm for more than twenty-two years. Probably one of his favorite runners during this time was a filly named Miss Landy who was named for one of Ted's best clients over the years, Ms. Landy Armstrong, a New Jersey lady who bred and raced the dam of Miss Landy, the stakes winning mare All the Vees. When she died, Ted bought All the Vees from her estate and continued to keep her there and breed her.
Ted has been the recipient of many honors and has held many offices over the years in addition to being a Past President, Farm Manager of the Year and permanent member of the Farm Manager of the Year selection committee for the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club. He has served as a trustee for the University of Kentucky and is a past president of the University of Kentucky Alumni Association. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of Fasig-Tipton and is currently a Director Emeritus of Fasig-Tipton. He has also served as the 1976-77 President of the Thoroughbred Club of America. Ted is the 2013 recipient of the TOBA Hardboot Breeders Award which pays tribute to distinctive but unsung breeders that help make up the backbone of the Thoroughbred industry. He is also the father of Ted Bates, a vice president at Hilliard Lyons in Lexington, and Eve Bates Greathouse, a Scott County resident.
It is with great admiration, respect and gratitude for Bates and his service that the Club renames the Thoroughbred Farm Manager of the Year Award in his honor. By proclamation of the officers and board of directors of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club, it shall henceforth be known as the "Ted Bates Thoroughbred Farm Manager of the Year Award."
Street Cry put down due to neurological condition
"Street Cry epitomized everything that Darley and Godolphin aim to achieve -- he was bred by Sheikh Mohammed in Ireland, excelled at the very highest level on the racecourse in Dubai and the United States, and then became the lynchpin of our stallion operations in both America and Australia," said Sheikh Mohammed's Bloodstock Advisor, John Ferguson. "His contribution to the breed has been significant and we have been so fortunate to have him. He will be sorely missed by everyone."
Artemis Agrotera faces elders again in Gallant Bloom
Although a 1 1/4-length winner of last year's Frizette over Sweet Reason, who endured a troubled trip, Artemis Agrotera finished up the track in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and the June 7 Acorn at Belmont over a mile.
The Gallant Bloom figures to play out like the Ballerina with the sophomore chasing La Verdad early. That filly ran fifth in both the Honorable Miss and Ballerina during the Saratoga season after starting her career nine-for-11, but is undefeated in three outings over the Belmont strip. The Linda Rice trainee scored her most important victory at Aqueduct in April when she took the Distaff Handicap in wire-to-wire fashion by 3 3/4 lengths.
Merry Meadow has enjoyed a solid campaign this season, taking the course-and-distance Vagrancy Handicap by 3 3/4 lengths back in May, and following up with a photo-finish loss in the Bed o' Roses Handicap and a third in the Honorable Miss. The Henny Hughes filly has never finished out of the money in eight tries over Big Sandy.
Bridgehampton figures to show early gas as well. The Bernardini filly romped by more than five lengths in the My Juliet at Parx Racing two back, and last time trailed home fourth, by only 1 1/2 lengths, in the $95,000 Shine Again at Saratoga. That race's other three participants were Grade 1 winners Better Lucky and Grace Hall, and champion My Miss Aurelia.
Willet, one of three New York natives in the field, was a distant third in the Ballerina. The Grade 2-placed mare has won several state-bred stakes in recent years. Completing the field is Grade 2-placed Classic Point, who has posted strong works leading up to her debut for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, whose father Allen previously trained the Flatter mare.
Miss Behaviour tackles competitive Charles Town Oaks
"That (Delta Princess) was a mile at the end of a long campaign and shipping across the country and she probably just wasn't at her best that day. In the Victory Ride and Test she proved her worth against the best fillies in the country going six and a half or seven furlongs," he said.
"The bullring (at Charles Town) plays to her advantage. Hopefully she'll be on or near the lead turning for home and the closers will have to pick up their rally on the turn and weave through traffic on the turn rather than making their move."
With his filly installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite, Schoenthal hopes for an effort that keeps his stable star moving forward in the ranks of the country's top female sprinters.
"She is without question the greatest horse I've ever been around," he praised. "I want everyone to see how special she is."
Miss Behaviour will get a new pilot in jockey Jevian Toledo on Saturday.
Size is something of a puzzle in this race following a resounding defeat in the Alabama, but could return to form on the cutback to seven furlongs.
"The purse and the distance are the reasons to try the Oaks," trainer Bill Mott remarked. "We think she could be effective. She's proven that she's pretty good at a mile and a sixteenth. We think between she could be effective between seven furlongs and a mile and a sixteenth."
The First Samurai filly opened her career with three wins and a second over the spring and early summer, including victory in the Iowa Oaks on June 28. She was given seven weeks off following that contest and returned August 16 for the Alabama at Saratoga.
Unfortunately, Size was ninth and last in that 10-furlong contest, her first time running farther than 1 1/16 miles. The chestnut miss might enjoy Saturday's cutback in distance and keeps Junior Alvarado in the irons.
"I don't know what happened," Mott added. "She didn't want any part of a mile and a quarter. At least on that day she didn't."
Saintly Joan and Aqua Regia faced off in the Monmouth Oaks last out with the latter finishing second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of her third-place running rival. However, once the race had been declared official, their order had been reversed by the stewards. That gave Saintly Joan, winner of the Little Silver two races prior, the runner-up spot while Aqua Regia was forced to settle for third in just her second stakes attempt.
Come Saturday night, McBurney just hopes Saintly Joan not only gets a better trip, but also handles the configuration of the Charles Town oval.
"You never know when a horse shipping in will handle those turns, but we'll see," he added. "She's a good-sized, big three-year-old filly. Her running style is that she likes to be in the mix. Hopefully, we'll get a good stalking trip."
Stormy Novel ran second to Miss Behaviour in the Miss Preakness on May 16 and hasn't been seen in competition since taking the July 20 Miss Woodford. The John Servis charge will break from the rail while making her return in this spot under Kendrick Carmouche.
"To me, she went into the race really, really good, and she ran second out of the one hole, but it proved to me she was a quality filly," Servis said of Stormy Novel's effort in the Miss Preakness. "I ran her back a little soon in the Jostle, and it was home (at Parx), but it was too quick back for her. So I gave her some time, and she ran super in the Monmouth race (winning the Miss Woodford) and she's doing great for this race."
After winning the Miss Woodford, Servis decided to give his filly two months off -- a decision he attributes to little else but timing.
"The only other race in our timeframe was the Prioress, but I'd have to ship to Saratoga and then come right back in three weeks and ship to Charles Town," he explained. "I just figured I'd skip the Prioress and go right to this. My filly's doing awesome. If I'm not top three, she's just not good enough."
Also of note in the Charles Town's feature contest Saturday are Executive Allure and Nesso. The former scored her opening two races this year and exits a runner-up effort in Woodbine's Ontario Colleen. Nesso won the seven-furlong Gasparilla at Tampa Bay Downs in January and is already on her fourth trainer.
Stakes vixen Kiss to Remember and dual stakes-placed Pixie Dust complete the main body of the field. Discreetly Elusive, a half-length third in the Miss Woodford two back, and Saratoga maiden-claiming romper Sky Crew need defections to draw in from the also-eligible list.
There are five other stakes on the Race for the Ribbon card. Pants on Fire faces seven rivals in the $100,000 Wild and Wonderful going seven furlongs off a neck second in the Left Bank at Belmont Park on September 5. That followed a half-length second in the Philip H. Iselin and a third to open his seven-year-old season in the July 27 Monmouth Cup.
One race later, an overflow field of 12 distaffers has been entered to go the same distance in the $100,000 Pink Ribbon. Multiple Grade 2-placed Strike the Moon, the 2011 Charles Town Oaks heroine, finished second in this event 12 months ago and will take on multiple stakes queen Geeky Gorgeous and Flattering Bea, who is 5-4-0-0 over the track including the April 19 Sugar Maple.
There are three $50,000 stakes also scheduled, each carded at 4 1/2 furlongs and restricted to registered West Virginia-breds -- the It's Only Money for three-year-olds and up, the Henry Mercer Memorial for juveniles and the Rachel's Turn for two-year-old fillies which will kick off the stakes action for the day.
California Chrome, Untapable star in Philadelphia
The colt's chances at a Triple Crown sweep, the first since 1978, were effectively dashed at the start of the 1 1/2-mile classic, when California Chrome stumbled and grabbed a quarter. Although in contention until the final furlong or so, the minor injury and the overall rigors of the classic campaign finally caught up with the modestly-bred chestnut owned by breeders Steve Coburn and Perry Martin.
Widely considered the leader of the division despite his summertime absence, California Chrome will attempt to regain some momentum in the championship race on Saturday. Shared Belief, last year's unbeaten juvenile champion who missed the Triple Crown due to injury, has come back with sterling performances in the Los Alamitos Derby and Pacific Classic, the latter against older horses. Shared Belief is not in the Pennsylvania Derby, but several other top three-year-olds are.
Bayern, whose 7 1/4-length tour de force in the Haskell Invitational remains one of the top efforts turned in by this year's three-year-old class, figures to be a primary target for the rail-drawn California Chrome. The son of Offlee Wild failed badly in his attempt to steal the 1 1/4-mile Travers over a less speed-friendly course last time, but should appreciate the cutback in distance. Bayern previously took on California Chrome in the May 17 Preakness, but was never in contention after a rough trip in the early stages kept him from being closer to the lead.
The local prep for the Pennsylvania Derby, the Smarty Jones contested on Labor Day, has yielded two starters. Protonico, exiting a photo-finish third to subsequent Travers winner V. E. Day in a Saratoga stakes, overcame traffic to take the Smarty Jones by three-quarters over Classic Giacnroll. Those two are also joined by Noble Moon, who beat Classic Giacnroll in the Jerome at Aqueduct in early January and was most recently fourth in the seven-furlong King's Bishop at Saratoga following a layoff of more than four months.
The field is rounded out by C J's Awesome, a first-level allowance winner at Saratoga who might apply early pressure on Bayern.
Untapable, who is undefeated against her own sex in four starts this season, is so far in the driver's seat for divisional honors entering the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion. The Steve Asmussen trainee swept the Rachel Alexandra, Fair Grounds Oaks, Kentucky Oaks, and Mother Goose by an average margin of 7 3/4 lengths, which convinced her connections to roll the dice against males in the Haskell Invitational.
Likely to show speed in the Cotillion, thus setting the race up for all three major contenders, are Monmouth Oaks heroine Cassatt and the California-based Jojo Warrior, who enters off back-to-back wins in the Summertime Oaks and Torrey Pines.
Also of note are the multiple Grade 2-placed House Rules; Alabama and Delaware Oaks runner-up Joint Return; and Test third-placer Little Alexis.
Fast Anna, who just missed preserving his undefeated streak in the King's Bishop last out, is one of several fast three-year-olds in the Grade 3, $300,000 Gallant Bob over six furlongs. The Kathy Ritvo charge, who blew away maiden and allowance company at Gulfstream prior to his neck loss at Saratoga, will race without blinkers for the first time on Saturday.
Prudhoe Bay and Favorite Tale, one-two in last month's Jersey Shore at Monmouth Park, are the other main contenders in a field of seven.
Fiftyshadesofgold's the one to beat in Dogwood
Milam, who came up a half-length short of upsetting Fiftyshadesofgold in the Eight Belles, has been a fairly consistent performer for Eddie Kenneally. Since her fourth to Untapable in the 1 1/16-mile Pocahontas here a year ago, the daughter of Street Sense has stuck to sprinting. She rebounded from a rare clunker in the January 4 Old Hat to crush the February 22 Pica Slew at Calder by eight lengths, and most recently finished a closing third in the June 29 Victory Ride. Corey Lanerie rode her to a Churchill allowance win last fall, and regains the mount.
Tom Amoss sends out Kiss to Remember, successful in a course-and-distance allowance on June 22. The Maggi Moss colorbearer rolled in the grassy Battle of New Orleans at Fair Grounds earlier this season, and two starts ago, she was second in the off-the-turf Indiana Grand.
Henny Jenney, the winner of the Inaugural at Presque Isle Downs May 11, has been predominantly a turf and synthetic type so far. Although she was a poor fourth in the Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies at Penn National in her only previous try on dirt, and still has something to prove on the surface, the William Connelly pupil has been training forwardly at Churchill.
Rounding out the 10-filly field are Enjoy the Family, Platinum Lady, Mizzen Miss and Honey's Ryan, who are moving up considerably in class from their last outings in allowances.
The highly anticipated return of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) on Saturday will be streamed live on AmericasBestRacing.net. Beginning at 4:30 p.m. (EDT), the 90-minute telecast from Parx Racing will be a feed of the regional broadcast produced by The Comcast Network. The $1 million Cotillion (G1) for three-year-old fillies and $300,000 Gallant Bob (G3) for sophomore sprinters will also be shown during the live stream. California Chrome captured the attention of sports fans across the nation this spring by winning two-thirds of the Triple Crown but has not raced since finishing fourth in the Belmont Stakes. The failed Triple Crown attempt in the June 7 Belmont was one of the highest rated televised sporting events of 2014 to date. The Cotillion is shaping up as a stellar race that will help determine Eclipse Award honors for champion three-year-old filly. The field includes Kentucky Oaks heroine Untapable (Tapit) as well as multiple Grade 1-winning millionaires Stopchargingmaria (Tale of the Cat) and Sweet Reason (Street Sense). The Comcast Network's on-air team will consist of Laffit Pincay III, Dick Jerardi, Joe Kristufek, Maggie Wolfendale and Sheena Parveen...
Trainer Hugo Palmer is considering three options for the next appearance of the August 30 Solario S. (Eng-G3) winner Aktabantay (Oasis Dream) -- the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Fr-G1) at Longchamp October 5, the Dewhurst S. (Eng-G1) at Newmarket October 17 or the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) November 1. "He has been great since (the Solario) and is due to work at the end of this week," Palmer said, while noting that he would prefer firmer going for his first group winner. "I don't want to run him on soft ground again," he noted. "We were over the moon with the result, but he didn't show us that electric turn of foot he showed at Newmarket on his debut, and I can only put that down to the ground. He was brave to win, but I'm convinced he'll be a better horse on a sounder surface, so I'll have to keep one eye on the weather." Aktabantay owns two wins and three seconds from five outings...
Four days removed from partnering Al Shaqab Racing, Magnier, Tabor and Smith's Ruler of the World (Galileo) to a front-running victory in the Prix Foy (Fr-G2) at Longchamp, jockey Frankie Dettori was full of praise for the four-year-old, and expressed confidence in the chances of last year's Derby (Eng-G1) winner in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1) October 5. "I was very impressed," Dettori told At the Races Thursday. "He's a very, very good horse. The time was great, he did it all on his own -- he had to do it the hard way and it never looked in doubt." Ruler of the World, who was notching his first win since the Derby, was making his first start since a 13th-place finish in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) March 29. "He'd also had a long layoff and I'm sure that Aidan will improve him a little bit more, and he is the Derby winner," Dettori added. "Aidan told me he stays well and I didn't want it to turn into a sprint -- I had to make the first move to make sure I took the sting out of the field and it worked." Ruler of the World is currently 16-1 for the Arc. A pair of three-year-old fillies currently lead the betting: dual French classic winner Avenir Certain (Le Havre) and Epsom Oaks (Eng-G1) and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Eng-G1) winner Taghrooda (Sea the Stars)...
Midwest Thoroughbreds' The Pizza Man (English Channel) is no worse for the wear after a disappointing showing in last Sunday's Northern Dancer (Can-G1) at Woodbine. Sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the 1 1/2-mile event, the bay gelding was not his aggressive self from the moment the gates opened. When the real running began entering the straight, the Roger Bruggemann trainee seemed one-paced and went on to finish fifth behind European invader Sheikhzayedroad (Dubawi). "He came back well," reported Rich Papiese, principal of Midwest Thoroughbreds. "It wasn't his day. Kudos to the winner. I expect a much bigger race for him next time." Said next time could call for a repeat journey to Canada and a bit of redemption in late October. "We're looking at the ($1 million Canadian International [Can-G1] on October 19) for him," Papiese said. "If he goes, I will ship him earlier this time." The Canadian International, traditionally one of the most international events in North America aside from the Arlington Million and Breeders' Cup, is also expected to attract Sheikhzayedroad from his English base...
A series of online videos promoting reigning two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan (Wiseman's Ferry) as "The Most Interesting Horse in the World" debuted this week on AmericasBestRacing.net. A new video will be released each Wednesday through November 5. The first installment of "Wise Dan: The Most Interesting Horse in the World" can be accessed by clicking here. The video is also available on YouTube. Wise Dan has won 22 of his 30 career starts, including the last two runnings of the Breeders' Cup Mile. The seven-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding, who is trained by Charlie LoPresti for owner and breeder Morton Fink, has amassed career earnings of $6,952,920 thus far and is currently pointing to the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland on October 4. Wise Dan, who has won all three of his starts in 2014. required emergency surgery for colic in May but returned on top of his game last month with a gutsy win in the Bernard Baruch H. (G2) at Saratoga...
Grade 3 hero Divine Oath (Broken Vow) will square off against six sophomore rivals in Saturday's $150,000 Kent (G3) at Delaware Park. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Divine Oath will receive class relief in the 1 1/8-mile turf affair following a sixth in the Secretariat (G1) on the Arlington Million undercard. He captured the American Derby (G3) two starts back and will pick up a new rider in Jose Caraballo. Stakes victor Cabo Cat (Kitten's Joy) exits a third in the Saranac (G3) at Saratoga and Bashart (War Front), a Grade 2-winning juvenile, was fourth in the same event while making his first attempt for trainer Michael Matz. Craftsman (Craftsman) is the lone horse with a win over the Delaware turf, capturing the Nick Shuk Memorial two starts back for Graham Motion...
The hearing for trainer Eve Johnson Houghton's case in Britain's morphine positive saga will take place October 16, according to the British Racing Authority. A total of eight horses from five yards in Britain tested positive for morphine over the summer due to a suspected case of contaminated feed. The hearing for the other seven trainers will be held September 25, but Johnson Houghton's case is being heard separately because the circumstances surrounding the horse in her care, Charlie Wells (High Chaparral), are believed to be slightly different. While hers is still suspected to be a case of contaminated feed, Johnson Houghton does not use the Dodson & Horrell product involved in the other cases...
IdeaFestival Taste of Innovation +Bourbon will be celebrating the farm to table concept with local chefs and restaurants, as well as teaming with the Kentucky Distiller's Association and Kentucky Bourbon Trail to celebrate bourbon country on October 1 in Churchill Downs' Millionaire's Row 4. Tastings from major distillers, and a walk through the history of bourbon and bourbon cocktails are just part of the celebration. This year's participants, who will be offering a taste of fabulous food and spirits, include -- Art Eatables; Brasserie Provence; The Comfy Cow; Crushed Ice Events; El Camino; Ghyslain; Harvest; Hillbilly Tea; Kern's Kitchen; La Coop; Levy Restaurants; Lilly's Bistro; Manny and Merle; Marketplace Restaurant; Mayan Café; Momma's Mustard, Pickles & BBQ; Napa River Grill; Papalino's; Proof on Main; Rye on Market; The Seelbach Hotel/The Oak Room; Shalimar, The Silver Dollar; Spotz Gelato; Taco Punk; and Tony Boombozz. Beverage tastings will be provided by Barrel House Distilleries; Chila Orchata; Copper & Kings American Brandy; Easley Winery; Evan Williams; Fetzer; Four Roses Bourbon; Heaven Hill; Heine Brothers Coffee; Jim Beam; Louisville Water PureTap; Southern Wines and Spirits; and Vint Coffee. The culinary celebration will take place October 1 from 5:45-8 p.m. (EDT). Tickets are $40 in advance or $50 at the door...
Churchill Downs will transform its spacious 30,000-square-foot Plaza into Louisville's largest beer garden on Friday night to celebrate Oktoberfest in true Bavarian style as "Downs After Dark" returns to the track with a 10-race program that begins at 6 p.m. (EDT). "Downs After Dark: Oktoberfest" will showcase a variety of German beers and traditional German specialty foods such as sausages, sauerkraut and pretzels. Polka music will be performed on the Plaza stage by German music ensemble The Rheingold Band and will be energized later in the night by popular regional act The Respectables, who'll deliver the best dance music from the last five decades. In addition to 10 races, guests will be treated to roaming accordion players and stilt-walking balloon artists, and get chances to win prizes in yodeling and "Chicken Dance" contests. Also, the popular text-to-win sweepstakes "Bet or No Bet" will return as four lucky on-track patrons face a tough decision: place a $1,000 win bet on a horse in the upcoming race or take a $100 Thorntons' gift card. The promotion will be held on the 6TH, 7TH, 8TH and 9TH races. The recommended attire for guests is "fall casual" but those wearing lederhosen will likely draw special attention from the judges during a between-race "best dressed" contest. Gates open at 4 p.m. General admission is $10, reserved box seats are $20, the new 21+ Terrace Lounge is $25, Millionaires Row is $60 and 21+ Terrace Lounge VIP cabanas are $99...
Churchill Downs will host "Pigskins and Ponies" on Saturday. Last week's "Football Watch Party" was popular with race goers so track officials will bring it back for the final two Saturdays of the meet. An ACC doubleheader -- Georgia Tech at Virginia (12 p.m. [EDT]) and Louisville at Conference USA's Florida International (3:30 p.m.) -- will be shown uninterrupted with volume on the giant Plaza video screen. Also, there'll be drink specials in the Plaza all day ($2 Bud/Bud Light, $3 Stella Artois, $1 Pepsi products and bottled water), and the Plaza grill will be cooking up some tasty fare. College students with a current student ID will be admitted free of charge on Saturday. Paid general admission is $3. The same event will return September 27 for the Vanderbilt at Kentucky (12 p.m.) and Wake Forest at U of L (3:30 p.m.) games...
Suffolk Downs officials announced the track would likely close following a decision by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Tuesday to approve a $1.6 billion Wynn Resorts casino north of the Boston-based track. The Commission released the following statement regarding Suffolk Downs' closure announcement: "The Massachusetts Gaming Commission fully understands and is saddened by the impact discontinuance of live Thoroughbred racing at Suffolk Downs will have on the lives of the dedicated men and women who have played a role in racing at the track for many, many years. The Commission and its Racing Division are fully committed to an extensive and sustained exploration of every available option that may preserve the long tradition of Thoroughbred racing in the Commonwealth. In addition, the Commission is also dedicated to assisting racing employees through workforce development and by identifying additional employment solutions. Lastly, the Commission will address this important issue at its next public meeting on September 25, 2014." In response to the Commission's statement, Suffolk Downs Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle released the following rebuttal: "This is one of those cases where the Gaming Commission's actions speak louder than their words. For the family of workers here, this feels like empty posturing. The Commission's actions Tuesday made clear how little value they place on these jobs and these people. That message, while unfortunate, has been received loud and clear by the hundreds of decent hardworking people here now facing unemployment and uncertainty." The 2014 Suffolk Downs meet is scheduled to conclude September 29...
Woodbine Entertainment Group's (WEG) Charity Challenge is drawing to a close. Last week, WEG launched "Woodbine Cares Week," a campaign to celebrate the various community organizations and causes that contribute so much to the life, health and vibrancy of Toronto. As part of its Woodbine Cares Week festivities, the Charity Challenge presents a chance for racing fans, along with charitable supporters, to acknowledge their favorite cause. The charity that receives the most votes by Friday will be awarded a $10,000 donation by WEG. The campaign will culminate on September 21 with the Woodbine Turf Races, a fun fundraising event where WEG employees and their families -- along with business partners, community organizations and racing fans -- participate in a series of on-track races to raise money for United Way Toronto. As part of the campaign, fans are able to see updates and show their support on social media with "likes" on Woodbine's Facebook page, or by following @woodbineracing and using the hashtag #WEGCares on Twitter throughout the campaign. "We're very pleased with the reaction the challenge is getting from racing fans, and community association and charitable supporters," said Wendy Loiselle, senior manager of WEG's corporate social responsibility endeavors. "The campaign has garnered over 1 million impressions on Twitter and 50,000 on Facebook so far. We want to raise the profile of these wonderful organizations that help so many." Many of the charity's stories may be seen by clicking here. Fans may also sign up for the Turf Races by clicking here.
For Friday or Next Raceday
SEPTEMBER 19, 2014
by Dick Powell
Great horses returning off a layoff at short odds are a recipe for pari-mutuel ruin. If they win, you barely win. If they lose, you lose. Not much reward for the risk. California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) fits that bill this Saturday in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) going nine furlongs at Parx Racing.
The winner of four straight graded stakes, including three Grade 1s and the first two legs of the Triple Crown, California Chrome was given a brief rest after the Belmont Stakes before returning to the workout tab at the start of August and looks like he has progressed in his training to be ready to go on Saturday.
Luckily, he does not carry a lot of weight so as long as he is sound -- and it looks like he is with his workouts on schedule each week -- he won't take too long to be fit and ready. And, he will have to be as the $1 million purse and nine-furlong distance has attracted a decent field.
For betting purposes, anything less than even-money is unacceptable. He is the most logical winner of the race by far but what usually happens in these kinds of races is that the next most logical contenders tend to get overbet as well.
Bayern (Offlee Wild) is back off his Travers (G1) debacle where we will never know if he could get 10 furlongs after being strangled early and out of the race before a mile was run. If the Bayern who won the Haskell (G1) going nine furlongs shows up, it should be a real horse race with California Chrome.
The problem is that I don't think he will be close to the 7-2 morning-line so we have the chance of having not one, but two overbet horses.
If both of the most logical winners are overbet, it's time to take a serious look at the less logical winners. Weighing the chance of winning and pari-mutuel return, I give Protonico (Giant's Causeway) a serious shot at a price even though he is trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano.
What Protonico has going for him is a win over the track in the Smarty Jones (G3), a pedigree that should see him get better with time and he still has an upside with only five career starts.
The dark bay made his 2014 debut a winning one off a seven-month layoff at Belmont where he beat first-level optional claiming foes going a mile. He came back a month later for his two-turn debut at Saratoga going nine furlongs in the Curlin Stakes where he was part of a three-way photo behind subsequent Travers winner V. E. Day (English Channel).
Not quite ready for the 10-furlong Travers, Pletcher set his sights on the lucrative Pennsylvania Derby for Protonico and used the Smarty Jones to get a race over the track. Farther back in the pack than normal, the colt raced between horses in the second tier behind a strong pace. At the top of the stretch, he looked hopelessly beat but Joe Bravo found room and split horses to make an improbable late run to get up at the wire.
Protonico earned a career-best BRIS Speed rating of 97, which doesn't put him in the mix here unless he can improve off that effort and go forward again. By Giant's Causeway, the Kentucky-bred is the first foal to race out of Alpha Spirit (A.P. Indy), who is herself a daughter of a Delaware H. (G2) winner.
Offspring of Giant's Causeway get better with age and this one looks to be no exception. Another reason I think that Protonico still has an upside is that he missed the entire Triple Crown campaign. He started getting cranked up at Payson Park in December but went to the sidelines until he showed up on the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga in May.
Unlike the other Pletcher three-year-olds who are usually toast this time of year from racing on the concrete at Gulfstream Park, Protonico has been a fresh horse in the second half of the year and he could make some noise, at a price, in Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby.
In the race before the Derby, the $1 million Cotillion (G1) will be run for three-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the main track and it has attracted a stellar field.
Untapable (Tapit) is the 7-5 favorite despite finishing up the track against males in the Haskell. She had dominated her division prior to that with monster wins in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Mother Goose (G1). The daughter of Tapit has the typical series of easy breezes for trainer Steve Asmussen and gets Rosie Napravnik back aboard.
When Asmussen sent Untapable to the Haskell, it opened the door for the other sophomore fillies at Saratoga and Stopchargingmaria (Tale of the Cat) took advantage of her absence better than anyone. She won the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) by five lengths going nine furlongs then came back and captured the Alabama (G1) by three parts of a length going 10 furlongs.
Looming behind the top two is three-time Grade 1 winner Sweet Reason (Street Sense). She won the one-mile Acorn (G1), so another sixteenth of a mile should not be a big deal but the only win she has going two turns is against allowance foes on the inner dirt track.
Still, the bay miss comes in here in great form and her late kick is devastating. Can she unleash it going two turns is the big question. So far, the record shows that Sweet Reason is a long sprinter. With experience and maturity, can she be a middle distance filly going two turns? We'll see on Saturday in a race with Breeders' Cup implications for two races.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2014
Study: Furosemide not Necessary to Realize Long-Term Racing Careers
Editor's Note: The Jockey Club believes that horses should compete only when they are free from the influence of medication. The following essay, written by Matt Iuliano, the executive vice president and executive director of The Jockey Club, provides insights into a recent study pertaining to exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) and long-term racing performance.
by Matt Iuliano
A team of highly respected, international researchers and scientists recently found that in 98 percent of horses they studied there was no association between exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) determined after an endoscopic examination and long-term racing performance.
The findings challenge some long-held opinions in North American racing, including the contention that the use of the diuretic furosemide -- sold under the trade name Salix and commonly known as Lasix -- is necessary to ensure the long-term careers of equine racing athletes.
The study, "Prospective study of the association between exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage and long-term performance in Thoroughbred racehorses," was conducted by Kenneth Hinchcliff, B.V.Sc., Ph.D., a longtime researcher of EIPH and professor of veterinary science at the University of Melbourne in Australia, and Paul S. Morley, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at Colorado State University.
It was published online in the Equine Veterinary Journal this spring.
The unique, long-term study found a lack of significant association between EIPH and a productive racing career, except in the most severe cases. The researchers reviewed the careers of 744 horses racing in Australia, where race-day medication is prohibited. The vast majority of those horses had productive racing careers without the use of furosemide.
In 2003, those horses had been examined for EIPH and were the subjects of a study into how EIPH affected performance in a single race. For their latest report, the researchers reviewed the entire careers of those horses to determine how their EIPH status affected their racing records.
EIPH is graded on a scale of 0 to 4, with 0 indicating the lowest, or no, indications of EIPH on endoscopic examination and 4 being the highest, often including epistaxis, or bleeding from the nostrils. The original Melbourne study found that horses with either no indication or the slightest indication of EIPH had better finish positions. Horses with mild to more moderate indications of EIPH were more often associated with impaired racing performance in the single race that was studied.
The latest study goes beyond a single race to look at entire racing careers.
Whereas the first study found that horses with EIPH grades greater than 1 had impaired racing performances, this latter study found no statistically significant difference among horses with EIPH graded from 0 to 3 in terms of:
* Duration of careers on the racetrack,
Only those horses with the most severe EIPH of grade 4 (1.7 percent of the population) had a significant reduction in lifetime racing performance.
When the data was grouped, the authors reported that horses with EIPH scores of 2, 3 and 4 started an average of 2.8 fewer times during their lifetime when compared to horses with EIPH scores of 0 and 1. However, they noted the difference in lifetime starts was highly influenced by the low number of race starts in horses with EIPH graded as 4.
Many of the horses with EIPH graded as 4 were retired from racing early on, which reduced the average number of lifetime starts for any group that included those horses.
The lifetime racing performances of horses with EIPH that continued to race indicate these horses were successfully managed over a productive racing career in a jurisdiction where furosemide was not permitted.
Reviewing all the data, the researchers in the most recent comprehensive study concluded:
"The lack of significant associations between the most common forms of EIPH and long-term performance can be interpreted as indicating an absence of important clinical, physiological, or management factors that limit performance in these horses."
With the latest research showing that less than 2 percent of the Thoroughbred population may have impaired lifetime racing performance attributable to EIPH, it is increasingly difficult to reconcile 95 percent of all North American starts occurring after the race-day administration of furosemide.
As The Jockey Club stated in 2011, overuse of an under-needed medication is not producing a level playing field. In all likelihood, it is doing just the opposite.
We believed then and we believe now that horses should compete only when they are free from the influence of medication.
A prohibition on all race-day medications levels the field.
SEPTEMBER 18, 2014
Rail post, stalking tactics could undermine Chrome's comeback
by James Scully
California Chrome returns in Saturday's $1 million Pennsylvania Derby and the dual classic winner will need to overcome the rail post in a field of eight, the same starting position that resulted in a dead-heat fourth in the Belmont Stakes.
As much as I would love to see jockey Victor Espinoza play "catch me if you can" from the start, I think there's little chance he'll utilize a major weapon in California Chrome's arsenal -- speed.
"I just hope he has a clean trip and gets in the clear," Art Sherman said this week.
That doesn't sound like a trainer who expects to be on the early lead. Indeed, it seems that California Chrome's connections would love to drop behind and alter course to the outside of Bayern during the early stages of the Pennsylvania Derby, and we saw how that strategy played out last time.
California Chrome may not have won the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes under any circumstances, but his best chance was on the lead after he drew the innermost post in the final leg of the Triple Crown. Despite the lack of any confirmed front-runners to his outside, Espinoza refused to send his mount after breaking forwardly, taking a hold and guiding California Chrome out wide for a stalking trip in fourth.
That left Commissioner showing the way and all you have to do is look at his past performances (click here to view) to see what a massive change in form it represented for the plodder. The front-end trip resulted in career-best performance, by a wide margin, with Commissioner refusing to yield until the final stride, recording a head second.
It's easy to understand Espinoza's Belmont strategy -- the stalking trip represented the least liability for the rider. If California Chrome sets the pace and coughs up the lead in the final furlongs, everybody can question the Espinoza's tactics. If the horse stalks the pace and comes short, California Chrome simply didn't have it that day.
The problem is that his speed gets lost in the equation. California Chrome was fast enough to easily outrun Commissioner during the early stages last time, and his BRIS Early Pace ratings show that's quick enough to be showing the way in the Pennsylvania Derby.
This is the same horse who recorded a couple of tour-de-force performances on the front end during the spring, including the San Felipe in which California Chrome established pressured splits of :23 and :45 2/5 before drawing off with the utmost ease, winning by more than seven lengths.
Granted, he changed tactics winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, settling a few lengths off the early pacesetter before offering his best, but both times he was breaking from a more favorable post position.
Those races seemingly resulted in a different mindset for California Chrome's connections, one where he was no longer a speed horse but a stalker.
The rail draw complicates matters once again on Saturday, with Espinoza being forced to negotiate a favorable trip if he doesn't seize the early initiative. California Chrome has the class to lead all the way at Parx Racing if he just breaks running.
Bayern won't get caught in a suicidal duel up front following the Travers debacle and the fact that he's drawn three positions to the outside of California Chrome should guarantee a tracking trip to the outside of his main rival.
But that's not the way I envision it playing out. Bayern's connections, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Martin Garcia, would probably love to see Espinoza take another early hold, leaving Bayern in the driver's seat. And that could easily happen.
I'll go with Bayern wire to wire.
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HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.
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