I'm a Chatterbox tunes up for Oaks; Peace and War hopes to get in
At Keeneland on Sunday, Fletcher and Carolyn Gray's I'm a Chatterbox (Munnings), one of the leading contenders for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 1 at Churchill Downs, worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 with jockey Florent Geroux aboard.
As the first horse to work after the morning renovation break over a track dampened by light morning showers, I'm a Chatterbox recorded fractions of :12, :23 3/5, :36 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 4/5. It was her first work since winning the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) on March 28.
"Florent was smiling when he came back and that was good," trainer Larry Jones said. "She was not blowing hard at all and it was an easy work on her."
I'm a Chatterbox and Geroux are riding a three-race win streak in the Silverbulletday, Rachel Alexandra (G3) and Fair Grounds Oaks.
"She worked just like she has prior to her last three races," said Geroux, who began partnering with I'm a Chatterbox in January. "I had a good hold on her and she got a good feel for the track."
Geroux, who never has ridden in the Kentucky Oaks, sees a different filly today than the one in January.
"She is more mature and stronger," Geroux said. "She is doing things the right way and she is very versatile (in her running style), which is a good thing."
Jones also trains Lovely Maria (Majesticperfection), winner of the Ashland (G1) here on April 4. Owned by Brereton Jones, Lovely Maria will be ridden in the Oaks by Kerwin Clark, who also has not competed in the race.
A two-time winner of the Oaks, Larry Jones said I'm a Chatterbox and Lovely Maria will ship to Churchill Downs on Friday and work there Sunday.
"Proud Spell (2008) and Believe You Can (2012) both were doing very well going into the Oaks and these two are very similar," he said.
Also working Sunday was Qatar Racing's Peace and War (War Front), who needs eight defections from the prospective Oaks field in order to make it into the gate.
With the thought in mind that a slim chance still exists, trainer Olly Stevens elected to work Peace and War early Sunday morning on the dirt at Keeneland.
"Why worry about rain and work on the turf when the Oaks is what we came for?" Stevens said. "I am praying that we get in. If we get a shot, that is where we want to go."
With exercise rider Tegan Clark aboard, Peace and War worked a half-mile in :47 3/5 with fractions of :12, :24 and :36 over a fast track.
Winner of the Alcibiades (G1) here last fall to earn 10 points toward the Oaks, Peace and War finished last in the Ashland in her first race in six months.
"She has done well since the Ashland," Stevens said. "She had a little skin infection and missed one day of training but had a nice work (last Monday). She did well this morning and I had her in :47 and a shade.
"It is frustrating. She was the fourth-ranked filly in the world last year and under the old system (of graded stakes earnings to get in the Oaks) she would be in the top 10. I know she is a good filly. Maybe I underestimated how taxing the dirt track could be."
Stevens said Julien Leparoux would retain the mount on Peace and War, who would go to Churchill Downs "as late as possible."
Peace and War also is nominated to the $200,000 Eight Belles (G3) at seven furlongs on the main track and the $150,000 Edgewood (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the grass. Both races are May 1, the same day as the Oaks. In Kentucky, horses may be entered in only one race on a given day.
"If the Eight Belles were at a mile, we would look at that," Stevens said. "I will get with (Racing Secretary) Ben (Huffman) and see how it looks. I may enter (the Oaks can have 18 entries with four also-eligibles) and if we can't get in look at the ($250,000,) Black-Eyed Susan ([G2] at 1 1/8 miles on May 15 at Pimlico)."
Moreno wins Charles Town Classic; Shared Belief eased but reportedly OK
"You know how it works in this game. I wouldn't put the blame on myself. There's only one respect that really counts, it's called self-respect."
Moreno returned to the winner's circle for the first time since the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga six starts previously. He opened 2015 with a runner-up finish to Shared Belief in the Santa Anita H. (G1) and was exiting a third in the March 28 New Orleans H. (G2) at Fair Grounds.
Sent postward as the 7-1 third choice among nine runners, Moreno returned $16 to win and $23.20 to show. Show payoffs were lucrative due to Shared Belief finishing off the board, with runner-up Imperative lighting up the tote with a $71.20 mutuel and third-placer Page McKenney paying $45.60.
Moreno earned $1 million to increase his bankroll to $3,074,940 and his record now reads 26-4-8-4.
The Kentucky-bred bay broke on top but surrendered the early advantage to 84-1 outsider Warrioroftheroses (A.P. Warrior), who led by about a length through opening splits of :23 and :47 before throwing in the towel. Moreno took the lead entering the backstretch of the three-turn event and was clear the rest of the way.
"I wanted to send for the lead, but the other had more speed," Velasquez said. "I wanted to put him in good position. I wanted to keep him busy. I had a lot of horse. I need to stay busy. The horse, you need to stay busy. At the three-eighths pole I asked him and he didn't stop. He went OK."
"The trick is it wasn't like he had the lead all the way turning for home," Guilot added. We took over at the three-eighths pole. The configuration of the track -- short stretch, three turns -- and the horse is doing great. The horse hasn't done a whole lot wrong.
"People misunderstand how good this horse. In the words of the great Johnny Campo, 'I'm a horse trainer, pal.' It's that simple. Very humble, they named the pie after me: humble pie. I'm here for two reasons -- to pass out lollipops and win big races and I'm fresh out of lollipops."
Moreno's other graded victory came in the 2013 Dwyer (G2) and he's placed in a total of eight stakes, including a nose second in the 2013 Travers (G1) and a third in last year's Charles Town Classic.
The well-bred gelding hails from the unraced Danceinthesunlight (A.P. Indy), who is out of the Canadian champion and Grade 1-winning millionaire Dancethruthedawn (Mr. Prospector). Moreno counts Canadian Horse of the Year and 1991 U.S. champion three-year-old filly Dance Smartly (Danzig), an earner of more than $3.2 million, as his third maternal dam and this female family is littered with high-class performers, including Grade 1 winner Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector), the sire of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin.
Triple Crown News & Notes
Dortmund fires bullet, One Lucky Dane out of Derby with injury
Baffert said he plans to leave Tuesday for Kentucky to see Arkansas Derby (G1) winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), the possible Kentucky Derby favorite.
"He'll breeze once there (at Churchill Downs), but it won't be on Tuesday," Baffert said. "He looks good so far. He hasn't regressed, either."
Sunland Derby winner Firing Line (Line of David) worked five furlongs in company for Simon Callaghan in 1:00 2/5 under Gary Stevens with owner Arnold Zetcher on hand.
"I got him in a tick faster than that, but it's just what we were looking for," Callaghan said. "He sat off the lead horse, joined it, and galloped out really strong.
"Gary was really, really happy. He'll probably have one more breeze here next Saturday, and leave for Kentucky April 26."
Delta Jackpot winner Ocho Ocho Ocho (Street Sense), third in the Blue Grass (G1) on April 4, will run in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Jim Cassidy said by phone from Illinois. He said the mount on Ocho Ocho Ocho was still open.
Pletcher trio work at Palm Beach Downs
Daily Racing Form's Mike Welsch, who clocked the important workout, reported that Materiality galloped out six furlongs impressively in 1:13 4/5.
Materiality has run all three of his races at Gulfstream, where he launched his career with a 4 1/4-length score in his six-furlong debut on January 11. The colt stretched out around two turns in spectacular fashion on March 6, winning the 1 1/8-mile Islamorada H. by 5 3/4 lengths. Making his graded-stakes debut in the Florida Derby, Materiality prevailed over favored Upstart by 1 1/2 lengths at 1 1/8 miles.
Pletcher-trained Itsaknockout (Lemon Drop Kid), the Fountain of Youth (G2) winner through the disqualification of Upstart (Flatter) and the fourth-place finisher in the Florida Derby, breezed a half-mile in :48 while working in company with Competitive Edge (Super Saver), his undefeated stablemate.
Following his busy early morning at Palm Beach Downs, Pletcher jetted to Kentucky to observe Blue Grass (G1) winner Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway) breeze at Keeneland later in the morning.
Materiality, Stanford and Itsaknockout are scheduled for final tune-ups at Churchill Downs next Saturday. Competitive Edge, who returned from a layoff of nearly seven months to capture the Tamarac S. at Gulfstream by 8 1/4 lengths on March 27, is slated to run next in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Kentucky Derby undercard.
Carpe Diem breezes half-mile in :48
"Logistically, everything fell into place," he said. "You prefer to work on a fast track and with the good chance of rain coming in here tomorrow, Keeneland went out of their way to accommodate us and we appreciate that a lot.
"We needed the sun to come up at Palm Beach Downs, and my first horses worked at 6:25. I was able to fly on (Stonestreet owner) Barbara Banke's plane and Keeneland let us work later so that I could get here and Johnny would have time to work the horse before catching a plane to Charles Town (in West Virginia)."
Pletcher, who arrived at Barn 6 at 10:07, said he was happy with all the works of his Derby hopefuls, but comparing them "would be like apples and oranges. Materiality (Afleet Alex) worked very well with Stanford (Malibu Moon). It was his second work since the Florida Derby (G1) and he got a solid five-eighths. He bounced out of the Florida Derby really well."
Daily Racing Form clockers got the pair in 1:00.52 with a final quarter in :23.57.
In addition to Materiality and Louisiana Derby (G2) runner-up Stanford, Itsaknockout (Lemon Drop Kid) worked a half-mile in company with the undefeated Competitive Edge in :48.17. Itsaknockout finished fourth in the Florida Derby.
Pletcher said the three Florida workers would ship to Churchill Downs on Tuesday after training at Palm Beach Downs that morning and have their final works for the Kentucky Derby next weekend at Churchill Downs.
Travel plans for Carpe Diem have not been finalized.
"Most likely he will have his final (pre-Derby) work here, but we haven't decided," Pletcher said.
Nor has a decision been made on riders for the Kentucky Derby, especially for Carpe Diem and Materiality.
"I will talk with Johnny on Monday," Pletcher said of the regular rider for both horses. "Ultimately, it is Johnny's decision. Those are two very good horses, and he is four-for-five on one (Carpe Diem) and three-for-three on the other."
International Star, Danzig Moon, Keen Ice work at Churchill
International Star (Fusaichi Pegasus), whose victory in the Louisiana Derby (G2) completed a sweep of Fair Grounds' trio of Kentucky Derby (G1) prep races, took a brief van ride to Churchill Downs Saturday for a five-furlong work over the one-mile dirt course that will host the Kentucky Derby (G2) in two weeks.
Jockey Miguel Mena was in the saddle as the New York-bred worked in company with stablemate Dreams Cut Short (Belong to Me) and covered five furlongs over fast footing in 1:01 4/5. International Star's final time for the distance ranked 34th among 58 works at the distance. His workmate was timed in 1:02 3/5.
Internal fractions for International Star were timed in :12 2/5, :25 and :37 1/5 and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.
"It was a pretty routine work for him," trainer Mike Maker said. "We were looking for a strong gallop-out and he gave it to us."
After the work, International Star shipped back to Maker's regular training base at Trackside training center, which is located four miles from Churchill Downs. The colt is scheduled to return on Monday or Tuesday to take up residence in Barn 27 and train at Churchill Downs through the Derby.
Danzig Moon (Malibu Moon), runner-up to Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway) in the recent Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland, turned in a sizzling five-furlong breeze in :58 over a fast track in his first serious training move since the April 4 race.
The Derby contender had jockey Julien Leparoux in the saddle when Churchill Downs clockers timed him in internal fractions of :11 2/5, :22 2/5, :34 and :45 3/5. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:12 1/5. Danzig Moon's gallop-out time for three-quarters of a mile was faster than the work turned in by fellow Derby hopeful Keen Ice (Curlin), who was timed in 1:13 1/5 in the only official six-furlong work of the Saturday training session.
Danzig Moon worked in company with stablemate and Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (G2) candidate Tepin (Bernstein), who had an identical five-furlong clocking and their moves tied as the fastest of 58 works at the distance. The swift move by Danzig Moon left assistant trainer Norman Casse, the son of trainer Mark Casse who oversees his father's stable at Churchill Downs, concerned that the colt could have done too much just 14 days out from the Derby.
"We usually reserve our two-weeks-out works to be our big works and, unfortunately, I think he got a little overzealous leaving the pony," Casse said. "He's a fast horse and he worked fast, and Julien recognized that and really didn't ask him to do too much afterwards.
"We know he likes the racetrack and the horse he worked with is a very, very talented horse. The horse that worked is running on Derby Day as well. We purposely worked them together because they basically have the same target: different races, but on the same day. Had he not gotten away and ran-off the first bit, the overall time wouldn't have been nearly as fast. But it's OK."
Casse took a close look at Danzig Moon immediately after the work and will do so again Sunday morning.
"I've already gone over him and already jogged him by hand, and we did a post-breeze scope and all those things are perfect," Casse said. "That's the important thing."
Keen Ice, a closing fourth in the Louisiana Derby. broke off from the five-furlong pole. Exercise rider Tammy Fox positioned Keen Ice on the outside of the companion and guided him through fractions of :23 1/5, :35 1/5, :47 1/5 and :59 4/5. After the conclusion of the work to the seven-eighths pole, Keen Ice galloped out an addition furlong in 1:27 3/5.
Keen Ice, who broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in September, has accrued 22 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Series from third place finishes in the Remsen (G2) and Risen Star, and his Louisiana Derby fourth. That put him No. 21 on the preference list, which meant he needed one horse to withdraw in order to compete in the May 2 classic.
"We've been taking our time with this horse," trainer Dale Romans said. "I've never really squeezed the lemon and made him work fast because he's not a naturally fast workhorse. But coming into this race, he's done everything we've asked him to do. We've been hoping to squeeze the lemon the last three weeks before the Derby and have him peak to run an all-time best race on the first Saturday in May. So far it's working out well. He had a fast five-eighths work last week (1:00 1/5 on April 11) and this week he comes back three-quarters in 1:13 and change.
"This is a prototype Derby horse. He's built like one -- big and strong and should be able to handle himself if he gets bumped around -- and the further they run, the better. Every race he's run, he's been closing fast. This is the first time these horses will be going a mile-and-a-quarter. He does not control his own destiny like a horse that has tactical pace and they forwardly place themselves. We're going to need a fast pace and a clean trip but if we get it then he's the type of horse that can win the Derby."
American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), the reigning two-year-old champion and the possible favorite for the Derby, had an easy 1 1/2-mile gallop Saturday morning.
Exercise rider Jorge Alvarez was in the saddle for the first gallop for the Bob Baffert trainee since his Monday arrival. American Pharoah rolled to his fourth consecutive win and stakes victory a week ago in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park.
American Pharoah galloped during the first of the 15-minute training sessions devoted exclusively to horses being pointed toward the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks (G1). Assistant trainer Jim Barnes said American Pharoah had done well during his brief time at Churchill Downs and would continue to train during that Derby-Oaks training window that begins at approximately 8:30 a.m. (EDT) following the mid-session break for track maintenance.
Whiskey Ticket hangs on to win Illinois Derby
Twelve months after seeing Midnight Luck (Midnight Lute) lose the same race in a photo, trainer Bob Baffert had better fortune in the $400,000 Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne on Saturday when Whiskey Ticket (Ghostzapper) prevailed narrowly over Conquest Curlinate (Curlin).
The 2-1 second choice in a field of eight three-year-olds, Whiskey Ticket tracked in fourth as 6-5 favorite Cross the Line (Line of David) and A. Rod Again (Awesome Again) dueled and traded leads through splits of :23 2/5 and :46 4/5. Whiskey Ticket made a three-wide bid into contention around the far turn and set his sights on A. Rod Again, who was up a length passing six furlongs in 1:11 3/5.
Seizing control turning into the stretch, Whiskey Ticket opened up to lead by 1 1/2 lengths with an eighth to go and was all out to hold on over Conquest Curlinate by a nose in a time of 1:50 4/5 for nine furlongs on a fast track.
Whiskey Ticket, owned by the partnership of Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, returned $6.40. He was ridden to victory by Martin Pedroza.
"I was a little concerned before the race. He was a little anxious. Not nervous but anxious," Pedroza said. "I told the pony person to keep him away from the other horses. I galloped him a little bit just to take the edge off and it worked. He seemed to be pretty relaxed after that.
"He broke a little sluggish but recovered right away. I tracked right behind the other horses. He didn't seem to mind the dirt too much. He didn't like it at first but he got used to it. I didn't want him to get too much dirt on him so I put him in the clear. I didn't want someone to box me in. Turning for home I was screaming bloody murder and whipping him left handed and right handed. I don't think he ever saw the horse coming on the outside, he was kind of too far away, so I put my horse close to him. Anyway, we got the job done.
"I want to thank my best friend Rene Douglas," Pedroza added. "He was one of the reasons that I came over here. He told me I was crazy if I didn't come for Baffert. He told me this was a nice horse. He won at a mile in his first start and there aren't many horses that can do that."
Conquest Curlinate was four lengths clear of Phenomenal Phoenix (Summer Bird), who was followed by Verraco (Old Fashioned), Cross the Line, Private Prospect (Discreet Cat), A. Rod Again, and Kantune (Kantharos). Lewys Vaporizer (Lewis Michael) was scratched.
"I had to ride him a little bit just to get him going," jockey Shaun Bridgmohan explained about Conquest Curlinate. "He takes a little encouragement. He's a big kid that's still learning but at least he's going in the right direction. Not to take anything away from the winner but both horses ran hard to the end."
The Illinois Derby was the second career start for Whiskey Ticket, who upset his one-mile debut at Santa Anita by a head at 14-1 on March 19. He has now earned $273,600.
A $200,000 Keeneland September purchase, Whiskey Ticket was bred in Kentucky by Springland Farm and Adena Springs. He was produced by Honey Grove (Gilded Time), who is also the dam of multiple stakes winner Mutak Gold (Mutakddim).
This extended family has also yielded Grade 1 winners Manistique (Unbridled), Unbridled Command (Master Command), and Freedom Cry (Wolf Power), as well as multiple Grade 2 queen Randaroo (Gold Case).
Elkhorn turns into Dramedy with 30-1 winner
Later in the fall, Dramedy switched to the barn of Gerald Aschinger, who had actually signed the ticket for him at Fasig-Tipton. The six-year-old hinted that he was on the upswing when a rallying fourth in the one-mile Appleton (G3) at Gulfstream Park on March 28, as well as a bullet work on Keeneland's main track last Saturday.
Under Joe Bravo, Dramedy ranged up to match strides with early leader My Afleet (Afleet Alex) through a half-mile in :52 2/5. The pair turned the Elkhorn into their own private match race, opening up a double-digit lead on the field through splits of 1:16 1/5, 1:40 3/5 and 2:05 1/5.
Despite drifting out down the lane, Dramedy pulled clear of the weakening My Afleet. The closers furiously bore down late, but not in time, as the longshot held on by a diminishing neck from Dynamic Sky. Unitarian, the 2-1 favorite, was another head away in third in his title defense. Biz the Nurse was along for fourth, while My Afleet retreated to sixth in the eight-horse field.
Dramedy completed 1 ½ miles on the good turf in 2:31 and sparked a $63.60 win mutuel. His first stakes credit advanced his record to 15-4-2-1, $260,037.
The Kentucky-bred is out of the unraced She's a Winner (A.P. Indy), who is responsible for Grade 2 scorer Lord of the Game (Saint Ballado) and stakes winner Sonoma Cat (Storm Cat) in addition to the aforementioned Bluegrass Cat. She's a Winner is herself a full sister to Grade 1 hero Girolamo, Grade 2 vixen Daydreaming (herself the dam of current Grade 1 winner Imagining [Giant's Causeway]) and Supercharger, dam of Super Saver.
La Verdad repeats in Distaff romp
Bred in New York by Eklektikos Stable LLC, La Verdad is out of the stakes-placed Noble Fire (Hook and Ladder) and counts as a younger half-sister multiple stakes-placed Hot City Girl.
Sand gets up in time as Queen of Santa Barbara
The Paddy Gallagher mare was sent off as the 6-1 fourth choice here, and fired in her second start off the bench. Patiently handled by young Drayden Van Dyke, Queen of the Sand had only Diversy Harbor behind her in the early going.
Meanwhile, Fanticola was trying to stretch her sprinter/miler speed over 1 1/4 miles for the first time, and doing a fine job of it through tepid splits of :24 2/5, :48 1/5, 1:12 4/5 and 1:37 on the firm turf. Tangelo (Square Eddie) tracked in second, pocketing the 5-2 Three Hearts (Hat Trick) on the fence most of the way. Three Hearts finally got out in the stretch, but by that point, Queen of the Sand was bursting from the pack.
Fanticola dug deep in her attempt for a poignant victory. Originally trained by the late Mike Mitchell, whose memorial service will be held at Santa Anita on Monday, she has continued to progress for his protégé, Phil D'Amato. Although Fanticola did her utmost for the Mitchell-turned-D'Amato barn, she could not quite hold on.
Queen of the Sand forced her nose in front to mug Fanticola on the line, stopping the teletimer in 2:01. Three Hearts checked in another 1 1/4 lengths astern in third, and Walk Close (Tapit) was fourth.
A handicapper when based in Ireland with Ger Lyons, Queen of the Sand paid $15.80 for her first graded coup. The chestnut became a black-type performer after taking up residence in Southern California last season. She landed the Kathryn Crosby at Del Mar in November and concluded 2014 with a fine second to La Tia in the Matriarch (G1). Her resume now reads 23-8-2-3, $343,910.
Bred by R. Coffey in the Emerald Isle, Queen of the Sand is a half-sister to English stakes-placed Rydan (Intense Focus). They were produced by Lough Mewin (Woodman), who hails from the further family of Irish classic-winning highweight Bachelor Duke (Miswaki) and current Grade 1-placed stakes scorer Talco (Pivotal), another import to find success on the Santa Anita turf.
Yahilwa proves best in Sixty Sails
Yahilwa (Medaglia d'Oro) wore down the pacesetting Parc Monceau (Giant's Causeway) in the stretch and drew off to a 2 1/2-length win in the $150,000 Sixty Sails H. (G3) at Hawthorne on Saturday.
Under Elvis Trujillo, the five-year-old stumbled at the start, advanced from fourth to second around the first turn, and patiently vied while Parc Monceau led through splits of :24 3/5, :49, and 1:13 3/5. Called upon at the top of the stretch, the mare responded and posted a comfortable win in a time of 1:51 for 1 1/8 miles on a fast track.
Owned by D. P. Racing and trained by Jim Cassidy, Yahilwa paid $6.40 as the 2-1 second choice in a field of five.
"I know that she stumbled pretty good at the start but it might have helped. Elvis got her back quickly," Cassidy said. "She was pretty sharp, keen to go, so I expected her to be right there with the early leaders. But, she recovered and everything was good."
Awesome Flower (Flower Alley), the 3-5 favorite, edged Ketel Twist (Dixie Union) by a nose for second. Parc Monceau and Sea Shadow (Jump Start) rounded out the order of finish.
"It was just a bad trip," said Awesome Flower's jockey, Miguel Mena. "I was bottled up all the way. I didn't get a clear path to run until the end."
Yahilwa captured the $200,000 Treasure Chest at Delta Downs last November, six months after finishing a narrow second in the Adoration (G3) at Santa Anita. However, she entered the Sixty Sails off back-to-back unplaced finishes in the Bayakoa (G2) at Los Alamitos and Santa Maria (G2) at Santa Anita. Her record now stands at 26-6-3-4, $369,895.
Cassidy was unsure where his filly was going next but was leaning toward Maryland.
"We don't have much for her at Santa Anita until June so we might go to Pimlico," he remarked. "I'm not sure if that's the case but that's what it looks like right now."
Bred in Kentucky by Avalon Farm, Yahilwa was reared by Verbanella (Smart Strike). Her third dam was Smart Angle (Quadrangle), the champion two-year-old filly of 1979, and her fourth dam was Broodmare of the Year Smartaire (*Quibu).
Puca, Luminance, Birdatthewire and Include Betty breeze ahead of Kentucky Oaks
Trainer Bob Baffert sent out Kaleem Shah Inc.'s Luminance (Tale of the Cat) on Saturday under the Twin Spires to breeze for a possible tilt at the Kentucky Oaks. The bay lass zipped through a sizzling, bullet half-mile in :46 to have the fastest time of 57 at the distance on the day.
Runner-up while making her stakes bow in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) lat out, Luminance covered the first quarter in :23 and galloped out five furlongs in :58 4/5.
Fletcher and Carolyn Gray's I'm a Chatterbox (Munnings) -- unbeaten this season thanks to victories in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) and Silverbulletday S. -- is scheduled to work Sunday morning at Keeneland after the break for the Kentucky Oaks. Trained by Larry Jones, I'm a Chatterbox will be ridden in the work by jockey Florent Geroux.
Bodhisattva turns back Noteworthy Peach to take Federico Tesio
"I was surprised. I mean, I was going slow and thought this was a dream come true. Then, he gave me a new gear at the eighth-pole," McCarthy added. "He really dug in and fought, and I hadn't seen that side of him before today."
Bodhisattva paid $10.80 as the 4-1 third choice in the six-horse field. The Tesio has long been considered a local prep for the Preakness S. (G1) on May 16, and the chestnut is nominated to the Triple Crown, but Corrales was non-committal on his three-year-old's participation in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
"Everybody wishes for that, but I want to see how everything goes from here," the horseman explained. "The horse tells me when he's going to run next. I don't pick a race in advance until I find out how a horse is coming out of the race and how he is getting ready for the next one. He ran well today."
Bodhisattva earned his first stakes win in the Tesio following a runner-up effort in the Private Terms S. at Laurel Park on March 21. He just missed by a half-length when fourth in the Miracle Wood S. prior to that one, and now boasts an 11-3-1-4 career line to go along with $165,095 in lifetime earnings.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said he was not disappointed in the effort of All Hands, who finished third while making his stakes debut in just his third lifetime start.
"I thought we might be on the lead. The eventual winner took that spot from us coming out of the first turn. They weren't going that fast," McLaughlin said. "I think he would have been better off on the lead with a clean face, but that happens. He ran on gamely to hang on for third. We'll regroup and probably go back to an allowance race next time."
Triple R Stable's Galiana (Stonesider) stalked early as near 5-2 favorite She's Ordained (Ministers Wild Cat) set the pace in the $100,000 Primonetta S., was three wide on the turn before angling out into the four path in the lane to run down the public's choice, and pulled off for the 2 3/4-length score. Jockey Abel Lezcano was aboard as the five-year-old mare completed six furlongs on the fast dirt in 1:11 1/5.
Trained by Rodolfo Romero, Galiana added fifth stakes win to her resume, which stands at 24-12-2-3, and has accumulated $459,121 in lifetime earnings.
Campaigned by Big Bertha Stable, Brenda's Way earned her first stakes victory in the Geisha, after running second in this same race last year, and improved her career record to 30-8-4-6, $292,174.
Hootenanny hacks up in Keeneland reappearance
Unraced since his victory in the October 31 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), Hootenanny (Quality Road) effortlessly disposed of three rivals in Saturday's 4TH race at Keeneland, and now sets his sights on loftier targets.
The Wesley Ward pupil holds an eye-catching entry in the May 2 Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1) at Newmarket, but his Coolmore ownership already has an embarrassment of Ballydoyle riches for the mile classic. Ward later confirmed to Alan Carasso of TDN that his likeliest port of call is the June 19 Commonwealth Cup (Eng-G1), the newly created sprint for sophomores at Royal Ascot.
That also represents a more straightforward progression from Saturday's 5 1/2-furlong turf dash. Allowing Bottle Rocket (Intense Focus) to lead on sufferance early, the 1-10 favorite readily took command in the lane and won unextended by 6 1/4 lengths.
Hootenanny clocked 1:03 4/5 on the good course and gave Ward his 100th winner at Keeneland. Also victorious in last summer's Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot and runner-up in the Prix Morny (Fr-G1) at Deauville, Hootenanny has compiled a mark of 6-4-1-1, $793,095.
Muhaarar, Redstart take Newbury Guineas trials
Muhaarar (Oasis Dream), Redstart (Blame) and Arab Spring (Monsun) look set to be horses to follow over the coming months following impressive victories in the feature races on day two of the Spring Trials Meeting at Newbury on Saturday.
The Charlie Hills-trained Muhaarar broke the seven-furlong course record with a neck victory over Estidhkaar (Dark Angel) as the Hamdan Al Maktoum pair fought out the finish to a particularly strong renewal of the £60,000 Greenham Stakes (Eng-G3).
Held up in the middle of the field by Frankie Dettori, 16-1 chance Muhaarar produced a strong run to take the lead inside the final furlong and had to be kept up to his work to see off the late challenge of Estidhkaar.
Ivawood (Zebedee), the 13-8 favorite was third, 4 1/2 lengths behind the front two, while last year's champion juvenile Belardo (Lope De Vega) failed to cope with the good to firm ground and trailed home eighth of the nine runners.
"We always knew that Muhaarar was a good horse -- he won a Gimcrack S. (Eng-G2) last year," Hills said. "There was a question mark over whether he would get the trip and, looking at the line-up, it was a very competitive race.
"They went a good, solid pace and he traveled through the race perfectly well. If anything, he might have got to the front a bit too soon but, luckily, he saw the trip out well.
"I think we will have to decide where to go over the next couple of weeks. Frankie said that the French Guineas (Fr-G1) could suit him well but it's obviously Sheikh Hamdan's decision. The Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1) has also got to be well up there on the agenda. It's a decision that we have to make and we will see how he comes out of the race."
Richard Hannon Jr., responsible for the second and third, said: "Estidhkaar ran a super race and will go to the Two Thousand Guineas with every chance -- he has got the ideal profile for a Guineas horse. Ivawood is a horse that carries a lot of weight and will improve a lot for the run."
Ralph Beckett claimed the £60,000 Fred Darling S. (Eng-G3) for a fourth time in 10 years as Kempton Park maiden winner Redstart made virtually all for Pat Dobbs to win by three-quarters of a length from Jellicle Bell (Invincible Spirit).
"Redstart didn't work well last week and I told (owner) David Oldrey that we may have to think again but he was keen to run," Beckett said. "I think it was a good performance.
"The previous three winners we have had of this race won it every different way. Penkenna Princess held on, Moonstone Magic won fairly easily on soft ground and I think Puff only just held on as well, so it's difficult to compare them with each other and this filly.
"I had the German Guineas (Ger-G2) in mind for her but David said that I should put her in the One Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1), so she will have to run in that now.
"She will get a mile, for sure. Her mother, Ecstasy, was the third winner that I ever trained and one of the five horses I inherited from Peter Walwyn when he retired. She stayed a mile and a quarter so I would be surprised if Redstart didn't get a mile well."
A return to Newmarket may also still be on the cards for last year's Cheveley Park S. (Eng-G1) heroine Tiggy Wiggy (Kodiac). The 11-10 favorite could only finish third under Richard Hughes on her first appearance over seven furlongs.
"I think Tiggy Wiggy settled well and finished her race off OK," Hannon said. "We will still think about the One Thousand Guineas -- obviously it is disappointing that she didn't win but it is only a trial and there is a good chance that she might have needed it.
"We will go home, sleep on it and see how she comes out of the race. Hughsie said that he wouldn't have won today over five, six or seven furlongs, which is interesting. She settled very well, so there were no excuses there, and got home OK.
"On the evidence, it looks like she probably does get the trip. She has run a little lackluster and a little below expectations. We will go home and see what the problem is but, if she never wins another race, she has been a pleasure and a delight to have anything to do with."
Sir Michael Stoute enhanced his superb record in the £60,000 John Porter S. (Eng-G3) as Arab Spring gave the Newmarket trainer a unparalleled sixth success in the 12-furlong contest.
Sent off an 11-4 chance on his first appearance since July, Arab Spring stayed on strongly under Ryan Moore to prevail by a length over Pether's Moon (Dylan Thomas), with 13-8 favorite Romsdal (Halling) back in third.
"I was delighted with Arab Spring," Stoute said. "He hasn't run since the Princess of Wales's S. (Eng-G2) in July and he traveled so well throughout today's race.
"Today was important but he is a lightly-raced horse. This was only his seventh start, so hopefully we can progress him a little bit more. He can go 10 (furlongs) or 12, so there are lots of options. We will stop and think, get him back, and there are plenty of races for him."
Moody saddles Group 1 double as Dissident closes out career at Royal Randwick
Saturday's Royal Randwick meeting could hardly have marked a better conclusion to the Sydney autumn carnival for champion trainer Peter Moody, who saddled the winners of both Group 1 races on the card as well as a Group 3 winner earlier in the day.
An hour after the two-year-old filly Pasadena Girl (Savabeel) collected her first Group 1 win in the Champagne S., seasoned sprinter/miler Dissident (Sebring) closed out his racing career in style while collecting his fifth Group 1 score in the All Aged S.
Dissident, who now goes to stud at Newgate Farm in the Hunter Valley, was let go the fourth choice in what was considered one of the best lineups of the season. Breaking on top, Dissident soon consented a narrow advantage to Australian Guineas (Aus-G1) winner Wandjina (Snitzel), while last-out TJ Smith S. (Aus-G1) victor Chautauqua (Encosta de Lago) and highly rated sprinter Terravista (Captain Rio) traveled wide in their wake.
Dissident headed Wandjina in midstretch and the stubborn three-year-old fought back to reclaim the advantage for a few strides, but Dissident wore him down thereafter to get his head in front on the line as Chautauqua made a belated rally down the inside and Scissor Kick (Redoute's Choice) battled on gamely on the rail.
"He has never gotten the accolades, this colt," Moody said. "He has raced at group level from day one, (and won) five Group 1's. He won his first start, he won his last -- you're mad if you don't send a mare to him.
"I've had the pleasure of retiring three Group 1 winners -- Typhoon Tracy, Black Caviar and Dissident," Moody added. "The first two were Horse of the Year winners. This bloke has put his hand up to be number three. I am extremely proud of him and my staff."
Dissident was scooped up by Moody for A$210,000 at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in 2012, and he earned black-type right out of the box when winning the listed Blue Diamond Preview on debut the following January.
Put out to pasture following a seventh in the Blue Diamond S. (Aus-G1), Dissident recorded a string of narrow defeats to begin his sophomore campaign, and at last saluted again in the Hobartville S. (Aus-G2) last March. He followed up with his first Group 1 win two weeks later in the Randwick Guineas, but failed to measure up to his elders when 12th in the Doncaster Mile (Aus-G1) to wrap up his season.
Dissident put that performance very much behind him when kicking off his four-year-old season with back-to-back Group 1 scores in the Memsie S. and Makybe Diva S. in Victoria, and after getting nosed out of a third Group 1 in the Sir Rupert Clarke S., he ran sixth in the Caulfield S. (Aus-G1) to wrap up his campaign.
Dissident picked up some new owners and a new set of silks over the winter holiday when the China Horse Club and Newgate Farm bought into him.
Kicking off his autumn campaign with a third in the Australia S. (Aus-G2) over 1200 meters at Moonee Valley on January 24, he notched his fourth Group 1 three weeks later over this trip in the C.F. Orr S., and entered Saturday's contest off a third in the February 28 Futurity S. (Aus-G1).
"My staff in Melbourne have done a tremendous job to bring him back," Moody praised. "The last run we were a little bit disappointed. We've had him up here (in Sydney) for 10 or 12 days. When Jimmy (Cassidy) galloped him here last Friday, I wanted to convince him how well he was going and he convinced all of us."
Of his stable's achievements on the day, Moody added, "It doesn't get much better than that. We've had multiple Group 1's previously; I think Pasadena Girl was the 50th for my stable. This one is number 51."
While Dissident signed off on his career Saturday, Pasadena Girl swooped from near last to earn her maiden Group 1 in the Champagne, the final leg of the Sydney two-year-old Triple Crown.
Kicking off her career just two months ago, Pasadena Girl won Flemington's listed Talindert S. going 1100 meters in her February 21 debut, and followed up three weeks later when stepping up to 1200 meters in the Thoroughbred Breeders S. (Aus-G3) over the same strip. She lost her unbeaten record over the heavy going in the April 4 Sires' Produce S. (Aus-G1) over 1400 meters, but nonetheless picked up in the closing stages to make an eye-catching late move from last.
Taking up a similar position near the back of the strung out pack with just one beaten early in this spot, Pasadena Girl swung wide at the top of the lane and began to pick off rivals with each stride. She hit the lead just strides before the wire but won cozily.
"She is a little gem," Moody said. "It was probably only the heavy ground that cost her the Sires' the other day. She ran super and she has backed that up today with another very solid performance."
Moody noted that when he purchased Pasadena Girl for just A$25,000 at Inglis Premier a year ago, he didn't expect to yet see her at the races, let alone winning a Group 1 as a juvenile.
"When I purchased her I expected her to be going to the races this time next year," he noted. "She surprised us. She has an unbelievable attitude towards racing and towards her work for a little filly. She has buttered up for the fourth time here and she has probably presented bigger and stronger each time even though she is only a pony.
"She has showed us unbelievable ability, but I kept thinking she is a little light Savabeel, she is a little light Savabeel, she is a little light Savabeel, this is going to go sore, it will be in the paddock, it'll go sore, it'll be in the paddock -- it's not sore, we'll take her to Flemington (for her debut) and give her a run."
Moody said spring plans for Pasadena Girl could include the Thousand Guineas (Aus-G1).
"She is a Flight S. (Aus-G1), Thousand Guineas-type filly, and then you look at the Wakeful (Aus-G2) and Oaks (Aus-G1), you would like to think."
Jockey Hugh Bowman sat on Pasadena Girl for the first time Tuesday when working her with a stablemate.
"She worked very well with a partner and I said when we were coming back in to (rider) Steve Parr, what are you on?' Dissident,' he said, so my confidence grew and she is certainly going to be a force in the springtime."
Christine Hayden's homebred Unspurned (Lemon Drop Kid) rallied from midpack rounding the turn in Saturday's $146,287 Whimsical S. (Can-G3) at Woodbine, angled out three wide in the stretch and got up late under jockey Alan Garcia to record a one-length victory. The four-year-old chestnut completed six furlongs on the synthetic Polytrack in 1:09 for trainer Roger Attfield, scoring her first win since taking the Bison City S. last summer at the Toronto venue. Unspurned's career mark now stands at 12-4-4-1 and she's banked $452,969 lifetime...
Robert Spiegel's homebred Vision Perfect (Pollard's Vision) ran down pacesetter Made in Detroit (Arch) to take Saturday's $98,000 Woodhaven S. at Aqueduct by a neck with jockey Manuel Franco aboard. The David Donk-trained sophomore entered the race off a pair of stakes efforts -- just getting caught himself to be second at 28-1 in the Pilgrim S. (G3) and capturing the Awad S. -- and finished this 1 1/16-mile, firm turf test in 1:46 1/5. Vision Perfect was favored at 2-1 against his four rivals in the Woodhaven, and improved his career record to 5-3-1-1, $213,300...
Cellist Racing Group and Ali Nilforushan's Papacoolpapacool (Temple City) lived up to his 1-2 favoritism on Saturday at Santa Anita Park when taking the $79,750 La Puente S. by 4 1/4 lengths under jockey Gary Stevens. The bay gelding drew off under a hand ride to post a final time of 1:49 2/5 for nine furlongs on the firm turf. In the process, Papacoolpapacool moved his record to a perfect three-for-three since being transferred from Jeff Mullins to the shedrow of Philip D'Amato. The sophomore captured the Pasadena S. on March 21 and now boasts a 4-1-1 mark from eight career starts and $192,750 in earnings...
In addition to the Charles Town Classic (G2) and a myriad of West Virginia-bred stakes, Charles Town also played host to the $150,000 Sugar Maple S. and $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial on Saturday. First up was the Robert Hilton Memorial, which went to Control Stake (Discreetly Mine) from the barn of Tom Amoss. Campaigned by Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence, the bay sophomore was 4 1/2 lengths clear on the wire as the even-money favorite in his first start since taking the Big Drama S. to open the year on January 31. Jockey Cornelio Velasquez was aboard as Control Stakes stopped the clock in 1:24 1/5 for seven furlongs on the fast track. A few races later, Robert T. Manfuso's Taketheodds (Street Sense) just ran down Flattering Bea (Flatter) to take the Sugar Maple by a neck in 1:24 3/5 after going seven furlongs. The Ian Wilkes-trained four-year-old miss earned her first stakes win in this spot with Mike Smith in the irons and improved her lifetime mark to 13-4-1-2, $214,775...
Deceptive Vision (A.P. Indy) exited her narrow victory in Friday's Doubledogdare S. (G3) at Keeneland in good order, according to trainer Malcolm Pierce. "She's good this morning," Pierce said. "I hope to come back here at the end of October for some race." That would be around the time of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held at Keeneland for the first time October 30-31. Deceptive Vision now is a graded stakes winner on dirt and turf. "I really thought she got beat," Pierce said of the victory by a short head over Lunar Surge (Malibu Moon). "She is going to Woodbine on Monday." It was the second tough loss of the meet for Lunar Surge, who was beaten a half-length in a third-place finish against allowance company on April 4 at Keeneland. "That was a similar type race with her bottled up on the inside," said Richard Normington, assistant to trainer George Weaver. "She bounced right out of that first race here and put on weight and was good this morning." Normington said there were no immediate plans for the five-year-old mare. "She was a little bit irritated that she didn't win yesterday," Normington said. "She wanted to drag the rider into the winner's circle." Trainer Larry Jones said Blue Violet (Curlin) was OK after finishing third. "We will look for something in the Delaware area leading to the Delaware H. (G1)," said Jones, who spends his summers at Delaware Park. "I know the Obeah (G3) is out there." The $100,000 Obeah is run at 1 1/8 miles on June 20 as the major prep for the $750,000 Delaware 'Cap going 1 1/4 miles on July 18...
Keeneland racing analyst Tom Leach interviewed trainer Carl Nafzger about Unbridled, who 25 years ago won the Kentucky Derby (G1) after finishing third in Keeneland's Blue Grass S. (G2). Nafzger also comments on the leading contenders for this year's Derby...
Grade 3 winner Home Run Kitten (Kitten's Joy) has placed in his last three against graded rivals and on Saturday will attempt to return to the winner's circle in the $100,000 San Simeon S. (G3) at Santa Anita Park against seven rivals. The David Hofmans-trained four-year-old closed out 2014 with a close neck second in the Mathis Brothers Mile S. (G2) and has been third in his two starts this season, the Frank E. Kilroe Mile S. (G1) and Arcadia S. (G2), both at a mile. Home Run Kitten cuts back to 6 1/2 furlongs on Santa Anita's downhill turf for the first time since an 11th-placing in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and a nose victory in the Eddie D S. (G3) last fall. Gary Stevens took the mount for the Kilroe last out and retains the call in this spot. Joe Talamo had been Home Run Kitten's regular rider but will stick with downhill specialist Sweet Swap (Candy Ride) as he goes for a title defense in the San Simeon. Also entered is Pure Tactics (Pure Prize), hero of the Clocker's Corner S. and third in the Thunder Road S. thus far this year...
Last-out Tropical Turf H. (G3) hero Lubash (Freud) faces seven rivals on Sunday while making his eight-year-old debut in the $100,000 Danger's Hour S. at Aqueduct. The one-mile turf contest will be the Christophe Clement pupils first start since taking the Tropical Turf in late November more than four months ago. Regular rider Junior Alvarado wasn't aboard that day but takes back the mount in the Danger's Hour as Lubash takes on Grade 2-placed dual stakes scorer Chamois (Smart Strike) and multiple stakes victor Awesome Vision (Awesome Again)...
Keeneland will host U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg, a decorated soldier honored by President Obama in the 2014 State of the Union Address, and other military dignitaries on Military Day at the Races on Sunday. All active and inactive members of the military and their families receive free general admission with a military ID. A Military Family Zone in the North Terrace from noon to 4 p.m. (EDT) will feature free food, live music and children's activities...
Santa Anita will offer mandatory payouts for the Pick 5 and the Pick 6 on Sunday, closing day of the winter meet.
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