Take Charge Brandi targeting Kentucky Oaks for now
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has a game plan for probable two-year-old filly champion Take Charge Brandi. But, at this time, that plan doesn't include challenging males in the Kentucky Derby, or any Triple Crown prep races.
"Right now, she's Oaks bound," Lukas said, following training hours on an overcast Tuesday morning at Oaklawn Park.
To get to the country's biggest race for three-year-old fillies, the $1 million Kentucky Oaks on May 1 at Churchill Downs, Lukas is planning to run Take Charge Brandi twice at Oaklawn.
Lukas said Take Charge Brandi will point for the $150,000 Honeybee on March 7 and the $400,000 Fantasy on April 4.
"The Honeybee/Fantasy would be the obvious choice," Lukas said.
Owned by Willis Horton, Take Charge Brandi most likely clinched an Eclipse Award as the country's champion two-year-old filly with a half-length victory in the $350,000 Starlet at Los Alamitos on December 13. The Starlet marked the third consecutive victory for Take Charge Brandi, who arrived at Oaklawn Tuesday.
Her late season-surge began with victories in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on November 1 and the $400,000 Delta Downs Princess on November 22.
Lukas saddled the filly Winning Colors to win the 1988 Kentucky Derby and said he toyed with the idea of running Take Charge Brandi against males in last Saturday's $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity.
Lukas said he would consider running Take Charge Brandi against males, "in the right situation." In addition to Winning Colors, who also beat males in the 1988 Santa Anita Derby, Lukas won the 1984 Arkansas Derby against males with Althea, a week after the filly ran second in the Fantasy.
"Damn near did it the other day," Lukas said of Take Charge Brandi. “"'m glad I didn't because that race came up really tough. But I thought about it. She was squealing and playing and jumping in the stall. I said, ‘It won't be the first time I've done that.'"
Take Charge Brandi, a speedy daughter of Giant's Causeway, completed her year with a 4-1-0 record from eight starts and earnings of $1,620,126, while racing on both coasts and in four different states.
"January and February will go fast," Lukas said. "Our obvious goal is the Oaks."
Secret Circle seeks belated first win of the year in Midnight Lute
Lining up against the favorite will be Grade 2 veteran Bahamian Squall; Seeking the Sherif, who took the $75,000 Katella at Los Alamitos before finishing 11th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint; Grade 1-placed stakes winner Distinctiv Passion, runner-up in the Katella and most recently a turf allowance winner at Del Mar; and the multiple stakes-placed Appealing Tale, a two-time allowance winner at Santa Anita last winter.
The Grade 3, $100,000 Robert J. Frankel, for fillies and mares at nine furlongs on turf, features a rematch of the top three finishers from last month's 1 3/8-mile Red Carpet Handicap at Del Mar. Three Hearts prevailed that day by a half-length, with Lady of Gold edging Lady Pimpernel for second by a neck.
Diversy Harbor, who landed the $80,000 China Doll here in March, later placed in four graded stakes including the American Oaks. She was most recently second to Canadian classic winner Lexie Lou in the about 6 1/2-furlong Autumn Miss on October 25.
Other leading contenders are Rusty Slipper, Grade 3 winner of the Violet at Monmouth Park and a dead-heat third in the Rodeo Drive prior to a 10th place effort in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and Blingismything, who makes her stakes debut off back-to-back allowance scores.
The $75,000 Eddie Logan, for two-year-olds at one mile on the turf, features Daddy D T, who landed the Oak Tree Juvenile at Del Mar prior to a third-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Stormy Liberal and Rock Shandy, second and third in the Cecil B. DeMille; Zuma Beach runner-up Red Button; Del Mar turf maiden winner Bolo; and Irish import Ernest Shackleton are other leading contenders.
Old Friends pensioner Kiri's Clown dead at 25
Millionaire and Grade 1 winner Kiri's Clown has died. The 25-year-old stallion, who had been pensioned at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, Kentucky, since 2006, was euthanized Monday at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital due to complications following colic surgery. A full necropsy is pending.
A son of Kentucky Derby winner and champion Foolish Pleasure, out of the Kris mare Kiri, Kiri's Clown was one of Old Friends's flagship retirees. He was donated to the farm by owners Bob and Mary Sullivan and was soon paddocked next to his old track rival Awad. The two faced off in several editions of the Sword Dancer Invitational, with Kiri's Clown claiming victory by a neck in 1995 when he set a course record on the Saratoga turf.
Trained by Phil Johnson and ridden by Mike Luzzi, Jean Cruguet and others, Kiri's Clown raced for six seasons. His wins include the Knickerbocker Handicap at Aqueduct as well as back-to-back editions of the New Hampshire Sweepstakes at Rockingham Park in 1994-95, where he set a course record each time.
In 62 starts the dark bay had 16 wins and careers earnings of $1,005,469.
Kiri's Clown stood stud for nine seasons at various farms in Kentucky before retiring from the breeding shed in 2006. His daughter, Foolish Gal, produced Grade 1 winner Get Stormy.
"I like all of our retirees, but there are a handful that I love. I loved Kiri," said Old Friends founder Michael Blowen. "I'll never forget the day he set the track record in the Sword Dancer at Saratoga in 1995 where I couldn't get a seat.
"He was very intelligent and had the good fortune to be bred, raced, owned and retired by Mary Sullivan," Blowen added. "We appreciate Dr. Scott Hooper and everyone at Rood and Riddle for doing their best to extend Kiri's quality of life."
Irish Mission looking to bounce back in La Prevoyante
Irish import Photo Call appears to have loads of upside. The Graham Motion-trained sophomore captured her U.S. debut in an October 24 entry-level allowance at Keeneland. Overcoming an early hop, the daughter of Galileo cruised home by 3 1/2 lengths over a pair of next-out winners, including Costenia, who won by five lengths at Gulfstream earlier this month.
Trainer Chad Brown has entered the sophomore Cay Dancer, who makes her U.S. debut after handicap wins at Sandown and Newbury in England over the summer. The Danehill Dancer miss will have Lasix administered for the La Prevoyante.
In addition to Irish Mission, Clement will also saddle his Grade 3-placed pair of Maximova and Tabreed, while Brown is also represented by Clearbrook, who ran third in the Orchid in her last trip over the local sod.
"Tabreed is also a long distance specialist, and (the La Prevoyante) might be her last race as well," Clement said. "It's also fun to try (Maximova) back at the longer distance."
Others of note in the McKnight lineup are PTHA President's Cup winner Margano, third in the Red Smith last time, and Fixador, a multiple Group 1-winning Brazilian who adds Lasix after finishing up the track in his U.S. bow at Gulfstream Park West on November 30.
The Mr. Prospector has attracted a field of eight, including three of the top four finishers from the November 16 Kenny Noe Jr. at Gulfstream Park West. Victorious that day by 3 3/4 lengths was Speechify, who began his career winning three of his first five starts at Gulfstream.
Defending his title in the Mr. Prospector is Singanothersong, who has placed just once in three subsequent outings and trailed the field of eight in the Kenny Noe. The Mr. Prospector field also includes 2013 Kenny Noe hero Simmstown, Risk Factor, Little Daddy, Calamondin, Mongolian Saturday, and stakes debuter Master Blender.
Shared Belief tops 10-strong Malibu field on Santa Anita's opening day
Jockey Mike Smith has been aboard for Shared Belief's past four races and will guide the dark bay from post 7 on Friday as the 123-pound top weight. The rest of the field only has to tote 118 pounds.
Among those hoping to take advantage of the weight spread is fellow Hollendorfer trainee Tamarando. The Bertrando colt showed promise as a two-year-old, taking the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, but his best effort this season came when he added the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby to his resume last February. Ridden in his past two races by Smith, including his most recent seventh on November 29 in the Grade 3 Native Diver at Del Mar, the California-bred will have Julien Leparoux in the irons as he breaks just to the inside of Shared Belief.
The rest of the Malibu field are dual stakes-placed Conquest Two Step, stakes scorer Diamond Bachelor, Grade 2-placed Rprettyboyfloyd and Frensham.
Competitive field assembled for La Brea; Heart to Heart highlights Mathis Bros Mile
Stonetastic, who dominated by 8 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 Prioress at Saratoga before a nice third in Keeneland's Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America, finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. The Kelly Breen-trained daughter of Mizzen Mast keeps Paco Lopez aboard as she returns to facing her own age group.
Trainer Bob Baffert has been pointing Awesome Baby and Jojo Warrior to the La Brea for quite some time. The former, a daughter of Awesome Again, is three-for-three on the year, including the Grade 2 Santa Ynez and Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, but hasn't raced since a 4 1/4-length decision in the Sunland Park Oaks on March 23.
Jojo Warrior, on the other hand, captured the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks in June by 5 1/4 lengths, the Grade 3 Torrey Pines in August and is exiting a nice third behind presumptive champion three-year-old filly Untapable in the Grade 1 Cotillion on September 20.
Smith has the call on Awesome Baby while Jojo Warrior will be ridden by Garcia.
Stakes scorers winners Uzziel and Ramona's Wildcat were one-two, respectively, in the Beverly J. Lewis in September, but have both been off-the-board in their subsequent starts. In contrast, More Complexity and Amaranth enter the La Brea off stakes wins in the Betty Grable and Senator Ken Maddy, respectively, in their past pair.
That leaves Sam's Sister to complete the La Brea field, and the Brother Derek filly will be looking to get back to her winning ways in this stakes bow after going three-for-four thus far in her career.
Santa Anita's popular free online "Showvivor" will mark its return on the track's opening day, and will again offer fans $10,000 in prize money, highlighted by a $5,000 top prize -- to be awarded to the longest "show streak" over the course of Santa Anita's winter and spring meetings, which will conclude on June 28.
The track is also offering fans free weekend Infield admission and parking, beginning opening day. A special early first post time is set for noon (PST) on Friday, with admission gates opening at 10 a.m.
Santa Anita Park's 68-day 2014-15 winter meet will offer fans a wide array of admission and seating options, including the track's popular "Gallop Out," which features trackside seating on the Club House turn, food and beverage options, and entertainment throughout the race day.
Santa Anita's winter meet will conclude April 19 and be followed by the track's 38-day summer meet, which runs from April 25 through June 28.
Gulfstream Park's leading rider Edgard Zayas will get an extended break during the holidays after being handed a 10-day suspension by track stewards. Zayas, whose suspension began Tuesday and will run through January 7, was given days for careless riding during last Wednesday's 10TH race which resulted in Tyler Gaffalione being unseated from his mount during the opening quarter-mile. Zayas leads all riders at the current Championship Meet with 16 wins. He also won the riding titles at Gulfstream Park's summer meet and the inaugural Gulfstream Park West meet...
Horseplayers will have another reason to play Delta Downs starting next week as the track will begin guaranteeing its early and late Pick 4 wagering pools at $25,000. Delta Downs offers an early Pick 4 on races 1 through 4 each race night as well as a late Pick 4 on the last four races on each program. The minimum wager amount for all Pick 4 bets is only 50 cents. Delta Downs will also changes its post times each night through the end of the season beginning on January 2 when the first race will go off at 5:30 p.m. (CST) instead of 5:50. This move was made to better accommodate the simulcast races fans across the country. There will also be special post times next week during the New Year's Holiday. On New Year's Eve, December 31, the first post time will be at 5 p.m. and on New Year's Day, January 1, fans can catch the first race of the day at 3:10 p.m. ...
After an 11-day holiday break, the Aqueduct winter meet resumes Friday with the $100,000 Gravesend H. as the feature. The six-furlong dash has attracted a graded stakes-quality field of five, featuring Fall Highweight H. (G3) and Bold Ruler H. (G3) winner Salutos Amigos (Salute the Sarge) and Carter H. (G1) scorer and Vosburgh S. (G1) runner-up Dads Caps (Discreet Cat), who was a last-out fourth in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel. Also in the field of five is Mewannarose (Bwana Charlie), who rallied to finish second at odds of 20-1 in the Fall Highweight on Thanksgiving...
Wake Up Joe (Zensational), second in a photo when trying dirt for the first time in a Churchill Downs allowance last month, makes his stakes debut on Saturday in the $100,000 Pasco S., a seven-furlong dash for two-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs. Among the eight rivals joining the gray are Catalina Red (Munnings), who broke his maiden by 7 1.4 lengths in the Inaugural S. over the Tampa strip on December 6, and Big Family (Any Given Saturday), a 6 1/4-length debut winner at Gulfstream Park West last month. X Y Jet (Kantharos), who bested Catalina Red in a state-bred maiden on November 8 in his fifth career start, enters the Pasco off a fourth-place effort in the Buffalo Man S. at Gulfstream Park West. Earlier in the card, 10 juvenile fillies square off over seven-eighths in the $100,000 Gasparilla S. A. P.'s Glory (Mineshaft), an Arlington debut winner who later took the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies, will be making her first start since August. Huasca (Tiz Wonderful), who won by 9 3/4 lengths at first asking in a Gulfstream Park West maiden in October, and recent Sandpiper S. one-two R Sassy Lass (Exclusive Quality) and Coco's Wildcat (Wildcat Heir) are other contenders...
Three-year-old grass horses will be in action at Fair Grounds on Saturday in the $60,000 Woodchopper S. and the $60,000 Pago Hop S. for fillies, both at about one mile. Trainer Wayne Catalano has two of the main contenders in the Woodchopper, 2013 Bourbon S. (G3) winner Poker Player (Harlan's Holiday) and Grade 3-placed Highball (Lemon Drop Kid), while Tom Amoss will saddle Grade 3 veteran Rise Up (Rockport Harbor), who finished far back in his only prior turf attempt. Aztec Brave (Pyrus), a five-length allowance winner over the local turf on November 28, and stakes-placed Pumpkin Rumble (English Channel) are other intriguing candidates. Among the leading contenders in the Pago Hop are stakes winner Divine Beauty (Divine Park), who makes her turf debut; Kiss to Remember (Big Brown), who captured the Battle of New Orleans S. in February and has run second in four stakes since; and recent allowance scorers High Wire Kitten (Kitten's Joy), In My Time (Scat Daddy), and Mizzen Moon (Mizzen Mast)...
LOS ALAMITOS NOTEBOOK
DECEMBER 24, 2014
by John Mucciolo
There was a single graded event over the weekend at Los Alamitos, topped by a budding superstar.
Los Alamitos Futurity (G1): Kaleem Shah's DORTMUND (Big Brown) moved his unbeaten streak to three in grinding out a head tally for trainer Bob Baffert. The burly two-year-old colt traveled wide the entire way in his two-turn debut and established a track mark completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:40 4/5 under the guidance of Martin Garcia.
From a total of 34 dirt races held at the Southern California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 59 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 71 percent of the wins. Fifteen were captured in wire-to-wire fashion (44 percent).
Inside posts and early speed were dominant this week, especially on Thursday and Friday. Six horses won from the rail on Thursday alone, four of those in wire-to-wire fashion. From 18 races during those two days, nine winners led at each call (50 percent).
For the week, the final times were fast and 44 percent of the winners broke from posts 1-through-3.
HORSES TO WATCH
2ND -- FAITH PROOF (Idiot Proof) followed up a fine tally with another at this meeting, rolling home after leading at every call for conditioner Mark Glatt. The sophomore lass has now posted four straight easy wins after a subpar debut and looks too good for this level of starter allowance foes in this form cycle.
6TH -- TOUGH SUNDAY (Grazen) got off to a slow start but ran a big one in defeat to finish second, seven lengths clear of his nearest foe. The Steve Miyadi trainee will be graduating before long with even minor improvement.
4TH -- THERMODYNAMICS (The Pamplemousse) was not done any favors by drawing the rail and breaking slowest of all, yet the first timer came to life and was a big second at first asking. The juvenile filly was hammered to 7-10 odds in this one and has the look of a nice prospect going forward.
6TH -- The Phil d'Amato-trained SHEER PLEASURE (Birdonthewire) left little doubt in her debut offering, leading at every call en route to a facile and swift score under Martin Garcia. The two-year-old miss finished six panels in 1:09 4/5 and could be any kind going forward.
4TH -- ODIN (Stormin Fever) won the battle but lost the war so to speak, finishing a fine runner-up in his second lifetime run. The four-year-old gelding dueled every step of the way to the top of the lane and was just run down by a 1-2 favorite who had a fine trip. We see this one graduating with a similar type of showing going forward.
6TH -- TALL AND SWEET (Lemon Drop Kid) might have been the most impressive maiden this week in a fine performance for conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. The two-year-old filly broke slowest, moved to the fore in between runners and powered home like a good thing in a huge tally. The miss is bred to run all day and she could be very interesting with more development.
8TH -- FIRING LINE (Line of David) ran big every step of the way in contesting hot early splits and staying on late while being repeatedly bumped and forced outside in the lane. The Simon Callaghan pupil has now posted huge runs in two straight and looks like a horse with a big future.
7TH -- NOB HILL (Curlin) showed next to nothing at first asking for Baffert in this dash, but the youngster is bred to run longer and did fetch a bid of $700,000 in training this spring, but big improvement in his return is surely expected.
A Look Ahead
The action moves to Santa Anita on Friday.
Top Speed/Class ratings
TOP BRIS CLASS RATINGS
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