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WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 2015

Triple Crown News & Notes

Keen Ice breezes six furlongs, American Pharoah walks

Keen Ice will be looking to give trainer Dale Romans a second classic win (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)
Keen Ice (Curlin), who finished a troubled seventh in the Kentucky Derby (G1), breezed six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 over a fast track Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs in preparation for a showdown with Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) in the $1.5 million Belmont S. (G1) on June 6.

Keen Ice was the only horse on track during the special 8:30-8:45 a.m. (EDT) training period for Churchill Downs-based Belmont contenders. Tammy Fox was aboard and guided the colt through eighth-mile fractions of :12 2/5, :24 2/5, :36 1/5, :48 3/5 and 1:00 3/5 before galloping out seven furlongs in 1:27 4/5.

"He's doing well," trainer Dale Romans said. "He's picking it up every pole and had a lot of energy galloping out. He has just been so good even before the Derby and he just keeps on improving. I think the further the better. A mile and a half shouldn't be a problem. I really like my chances.

"American Pharoah is definitely head and shoulders above the rest of them in class, but I know we do want to go a mile and a half. I know he's feeling good; he's sitting on all cylinders. It's just a matter of if he's good enough to beat him."

Fox also spoke highly of Keen Ice, giving Romans two thumbs up as he came off the track.

"When I give two thumbs up that means that they're really ready to go," Fox said. "He is as ready as he can be. Dale's done a great job with him."

Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) winner American Pharoah got a day of rest and relaxation after breezing a half-mile in :48 on Tuesday. He did not go to the main track for exercise Wednesday. Instead, he walked around the shed row in Barn 33 where trainer Bob Baffert keeps his string of horses at Churchill Downs.

"Everything looked very good this morning," said Jimmy Barnes, Baffert's chief assistant.

Barnes also said American Pharoah would return to the track Thursday at 8:30 a.m. for a clockwise jog around the one-mile oval.

In other Belmont news, Conquest Curlinate (Curlin) jogged and galloped one mile around the main track Wednesday. Norman Casse, assistant to father Mark, said that the sophomore would likely breeze Friday or Saturday morning depending on the weather.

In other Belmont news:

With Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah and three other Belmont contenders stabled on the grounds, Churchill Downs is offering a special 8:30-8:45 a.m. training period for those horses through Tuesday. Additionally, racing fans are invited to watch those colts train from the first floor of the facility, including the new Courtyard area, free of charge.

Churchill Downs will open its Gate 17 entrance between 8-9 a.m. each morning through Tuesday so the public can watch American Pharoah along with rivals Conquest Curlinate and Keen Ice prepare for the 1 1/2-mile third jewel of the Triple Crown.

Churchill Downs' concessionaire Levy Restaurants will have coffee, juice, soda, water and doughnuts available for purchase near the Aristides Garden. Also, video of the exercises will be shown on the Big Board and infield video screens.

Those unable to attend can watch an online live stream of the daily exercises at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/workouts/live from 8:30-8:45 a.m. through Tuesday. Also, clips of the activity will be uploaded on the Kentucky Derby YouTube channel. A graphic with each horse's name will appear on the screen with the corresponding horse, although a majority of the focus will be on American Pharaoh.

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American Pharoah sharp in half-mile breeze at Churchill Downs

American Pharoah is showing no signs of fatigue: 'He came back like (it was) nothing,' Garcia said after the breeze (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) continued to impress with his preparation for the June 6 Belmont Stakes (G1), breezing a half-mile in :48 over a fast track Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs.

Martin Garcia was in the irons for the 8:30 a.m. (EDT) exercise as American Pharoah galloped out five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 and three-quarters of a mile in 1:13 1/5 after early 1/8-mile splits of 12 1/5, 24 and :35 4/5.

"I'm really happy with what he did," Garcia said. "He came back like (it was) nothing. He loves to run. He's getting more mature and I think right now he's starting to realize what's going on and he likes it."

Even though Victor Espinoza has the mount aboard American Pharoah, Garcia has confidence the bay colt has what it takes to be the next Triple Crown winner, discussing how much the horse has developed and matured over time.

"The way he's been running and the things he has done, he's done very easily and I think he's going to make it," Garcia noted. "Before, he was green and he really didn't know what was going on. He's starting to realize what is (going on) now. He's learning really well."

Trainer Bob Baffert flew to Louisville, Kentucky on Monday night to oversee the Triple Crown hopeful train Tuesday morning and was very happy with the horse's work over the track.

"I really like the way he went today," Baffert said. "He showed like he had a lot of energy. When he hit the track I was on the radio talking to Martin and he really liked the way he felt and he just took off going really easily. I told Martin to just let him keep going. I really liked the way he went.

American Pharoah is expected to breeze again at Churchill Downs on either Sunday or Monday before shipping to Belmont Park on Tuesday (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

"We're just going to stay focused, keep the weight on him and keep him happy like the way he looks today. Next week, we'll do sort of the same thing with him -- just cruise him around real easily, ship to New York and we won't do much with him up there."

Baffert, who came close to winning the Triple Crown three times with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002), says that he is enjoying going into the Belmont with American Pharoah more than the other three. He also went on to say that he came out the Preakness in good order, much like his three previous Triple Crown hopefuls.

"Before, I felt that there was more pressure," Baffert said. "But now I've been through it, I know what to expect and I know that at the end of the day you need a good horse and you have to be doing really well. As for what I saw today I don't see any regression. We don't want to see regression, but he's still going to have to run a top race.

"He's come back (from the Preakness) extremely well. He only had those two races (the Rebel and Arkansas Derby) and they were light races up at Oaklawn. The Derby was a hard race and I think it really got him fit. And the Preakness race, it looked like he handled that pretty well. He makes my job easier because he is such a good horse. Today went pretty good, he was pretty spectacular out there."

Baffert later admitted that he didn't think he would be riding high with another Triple Crown on the line again, which he said is another reason why he's enjoying this. He discussed his relationship with owner Ahmed Zayat and his family and how excited he is for them.

"I never thought I'd have another chance like this," Baffert said. "To be going through it again with a horse like this is a wow moment every time I think about it, but I try not to think about it too much. For the Zayats, this is a great ride for them. One thing about Ahmed Zayat is he is the best family man you'll ever see; he and those kids are so tight and so close so they're really enjoying this together. I can tell that it's a super family affair and he's always been so good to us."

Baffert also worked last year's Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Bayern (Offlee Wild) in preparation for the $1.25 million Metropolitan H. (G1). The four-year-old colt breezed five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 with Garcia in the irons. Workout splits were :24 1/5 and :36 1/5 with a six-furlong gallop out in 1:13 2/5.

Baffert said that he would return to Churchill Downs from California this Saturday or Sunday and that American Pharoah would more than likely breeze on Sunday or Monday.

American Pharoah will not go the track Wednesday morning during the special 8:30-8:45 a.m. training period for Belmont Stakes horses. Instead, he'll walk around Barn 33 and could return to the track Thursday for a once around clockwise jog.

Area horse racing fans are invited to watch the locally-based Belmont Stakes horses train on the track from the first floor of the facility, including the new Courtyard area, free of charge, through Tuesday. Churchill Downs will open its Gate 17 entrance between 8-9 a.m. each morning through Tuesday.

Churchill Downs' concessionaire Levy Restaurants will have coffee, juice, soda, water and doughnuts available for purchase near the Aristides Garden. Also, video of the exercises will be shown on the Big Board and infield video screens.

Those unable to attend can watch an online live stream of the daily exercises at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/workouts/live from 8:30-8:45 a.m. through Tuesday, June 2. Also, clips of the activity will be uploaded on the Kentucky Derby YouTube channel. A graphic with each horse's name will appear on the screen with the corresponding horse, although a majority of the focus will be on American Pharaoh.

In other Belmont Stakes news from Churchill:

War Story (Northern Afleet) will now bypass the Belmont and instead target the $500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown on June 20. The gelding breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 Tuesday morning with James Graham up for trainer Tom Amoss. His splits were :12 4/5, :25 2/5, :37 4/5 and :50 with a six-furlong gallop out in 1:14.

Conquest Curlinate (Curlin), who will be supplemented for a $75,0000 fee by owner Conquest Stables, jogged and galloped one mile with exercise rider Jorge Balbuena in the irons for trainer Mark Casse. The gray colt exits runner-up finishes in the Peter Pan (G2) and Illinois Derby (G3).

Keen Ice (Curlin) also was out for exercise at 8:30 a.m.

American Pharoah (Barn 33), Conquest Curlinate (Barn 36) and Keen Ice (Barn 4) are the locally-based Belmont Stakes contenders stabled at Churchill Downs.

The possible 10-horse Belmont Stakes lineup (with jockey and trainer):

American Pharoah (Victor Espinoza, Bob Baffert)
Carpe Diem (undecided, Todd Pletcher)
Conquest Curlinate (Shaun Bridgmohan, Mark Casse)
Frammento (Mike Smith, Nick Zito)
Frosted (Joel Rosario, Kiaran McLaughlin)
Keen Ice (Kent Desormeaux, Dale Romans)
Madefromlucky (undecided, Todd Pletcher)
Materiality (undecided, Todd Pletcher)
Mubtaahij (Irad Ortiz Jr., Mike de Kock)
Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens, Dallas Stewart).

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Racing Headlines

Brown sends three to California for American Oaks

American Oaks candidate Consumer Credit has won three of her four stakes appearances (Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Not only does trainer Chad Brown have the nation's leading three-year-old turf filly in Lady Eli (Divine Park), but the young conditioner has his eye set on plundering other divisional races Lady Eli is not targeting. A case in point is Saturday's $400,000 American Oaks (G1) at Santa Anita, where Brown will saddle three of the seven entrants in the 1 1/4-mile test.

The most accomplished of the trio is Consumer Credit (More Than Ready), who has already won three of her four stakes appearances. Opening her black type account with a 3 3/4-length score in the $75,000 Wait a While at Gulfstream Park West in November, she next captured the Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream by a length two months later.

Second by three-quarters of a length in the March 7 Florida Oaks (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, Consumer Credit rebounded to take the $98,000 Memories of Silver at Aqueduct April 23, but only by a neck on yielding ground.

Brown's other two are both exiting allowance victories on less-than-firm ground. Strict Compliance (Into Mischief) ran her record to two-for-three with a photo-finish triumph over a soft Keeneland course, while Mrs McDougal (Medaglia d'Oro) possesses the same mark after romping by more than seven lengths over good ground at Aqueduct.

The home defense is led by Spanish Queen (Tribal Rule) and Sharla Rae (Afleet Alex), one-two in the May 3 Honeymoon (G2) over nine furlongs. The 1 1/2-length score by Spanish Queen was her second in three starts, the only setback being a neck loss in the Providencia (G3) two back.

Sharla Rae, 48-1 in the Honeymoon, had previously captured the California Oaks and Pike Place Dancer on Golden Gate Fields' Tapeta, and the Barretts Debutante on the dirt at Los Alamitos.

Moreno looks to end his Santa Anita losing streak in the Californian (Coady Photography)
Invading the West Coast for a third time is the Todd Pletcher-trained Feathered (Indian Charlie), exiting a two-length win in the Edgewood (G3) at Churchill Downs in her turf debut. Last fall, she finished fourth by a length in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita and second by a half-length in the Starlet (G1) at Los Alamitos.

The field is completed by Dating Lady Luck (Arch), a last-out maiden winner at Keeneland for Al Stall.

The speedy older male star Moreno (Ghostzapper) seeks to snap his eight-race losing skid at Santa Anita when he takes on eight rivals in the $200,000 Californian (G2) at 1 1/8 miles.

Hero of last year's Whitney (G1), Moreno has had a positive campaign thus far. Runner-up to Shared Belief (Candy Ride) in the Santa Anita H. (G1) off a four-month layoff, Moreno next finished a close third in the New Orleans H. (G2) and then won the Charles Town Classic (G2) by two lengths after Shared Belief was pulled up midway through the race.

Moreno has finished second four times in eight starts at Santa Anita, but has never won over the main track. One who has, Catch a Flight (Giant's Causeway), figures to be his most serious rival. The Brazilian import finished third in the Big 'Cap in his third U.S. appearance, and most recently captured the Precisionist (G3) over returning rivals Sammy Mandeville (Rock Hard Ten) and Blue Tone (Birdstone).

Also lining up for the Californian are Big Cazanova (Giant's Causeway), who captured the Native Diver (G3) at Del Mar two back but was only fifth in the January 10 San Pasqual (G2) in his only outing so far this year, and Louisiana H. winner Hard Aces (Hard Spun), who adds blinkers after a fourth in the Big 'Cap and a sixth in the Oaklawn H. (G2).

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Power Alert, Heitai top Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint

Power Alert has made a major impact in his short time in the U.S. (Jim Tyrrell/Horsephotos.com)
Power Alert (Alert), the Australian import who broke the five-furlong turf course record at Churchill Downs May 1 winning the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3), will take his speed show on the road to Louisiana on Saturday when he heads a field of eight for the $300,000 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint.

The Twin Spires Turf Sprint was the third win in four U.S. outings for the gray five-year-old, who also captured the $75,000 Silks Run at Gulfstream in his season debut. His lone defeat was a fourth-place effort in the Shakertown (G3) at Keeneland, contested over a course saturated by rain for much of April.

Heitai (Fusaichi Pegasus) was only eighth of 10 in the Churchill feature, but merits serious consideration given he had finished first or second in his previous 11 starts. Heitai is two-for-two over the Evangeline turf, and took the inaugural edition of this five-furlong dash by 3 3/4 lengths last season.

The established sprinter Gantry (Pulpit) was only fifth in the local prep, the $60,000 Need for Speed on May 2, but it was his first start in nearly five months and figures to be much sharper for this. However, he failed to fire here last year when a dull fifth.

Also exiting the Need for Speed is the winner, Reflector (Ready's Image), and the Quick Dagger (Northern Afleet) and Ty's Bandit (Time Bandit), who finished in a dead heat for second three-quarters of a length behind Reflector. A threat to improve is Great Minds (Stroll), who has finished first or second in three outings since joining the Al Stall barn.

Evangeline's richest card of the season also features two other open stakes. A wide-open renewal of the $100,000 Evangeline Mile for older horses on the main track features Argentinean import Mystery Train (Not for Sale), the Mineshaft H. (G3) runner-up looking to rebound off tiring seventh-place performance in the Precisionist (G3) at Santa Anita.

Stormdriver (Discreet Cat) enters off a freakish performance in the off-the-turf, $60,000 John Henry April 25. Preceding the win with a score over $30,000 claimers, the five-year-old took a  huge step forward to deliver the knockout by 5 3/4 lengths.

Others of interest are last-out allowance winners Only in America (Tiznow), Ide Be Cool (Ide), and Galveston Harbor (Belgravia), and the stakes-winning Holiday Mischief (Into Mischief), who was overmatched in the Texas Mile (G3) last time.

The $100,000 Opelousas, a 1 1/16-mile grass stakes for fillies and mares, features the top three finishers from the $60,000 Matron on April 24 -- Tensas Harbor (Private Vow), Hot Tempo (Heatseeker), and Synapse (Fairbanks). However, that prep was rained off the turf and contested on a sloppy track, which might have aided Tensas Harbor more. Hot Tempo won the 2014 Matron on turf, while Synapse was only a half-length away from victory in last year's Opelousas.

Other likely contenders are Satin Gold (English Channel), a close fourth in the 2014 Opelousas prior to winning a stakes on the Remington turf, and Treaty Oak (War Chant), a two-time allowance winner on grass at Fair Grounds last winter.

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Proposal to modernize taxing of pari-mutuel winnings deadline approaching

The Thoroughbred racing industry is rallying around a proposal to modernize regulations relating to the taxing of pari-mutuel winnings, one week prior to the U.S. Treasury's June 2 deadline for public comment.

The proposed changes would modernize withholding and reporting rules by redefining the "amount wagered" to include all of a bettor's investment into a single pari-mutuel pool, and not simply the base amount of the winning combination. The proposed update would not only eliminate burdensome and unnecessary paperwork but also generate millions of dollars in additional handle which will benefit owners, trainers, jockeys, tracks, horseplayers and even federal and state governments.

Because of the wide scope of the economic benefits, support for the proposed modification has poured in from all segments of the horse racing and breeding industry. But more support is needed. Individuals and organizations are urged to submit comments to Treasury via a two-step form at www.NTRA.com/IRScomment.

"Time is running short for individuals to convey a message to the Treasury that these proposed changes matter," NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop said. "The industry has made a strong case to the Treasury that the time for tax modernization is now, but they need to hear from as many individuals and organizations as possible."

To learn more about the effort to clarify pari-mutuel withholding and reporting, visit the comprehensive Background page on the NTRA website at http://www.ntra.com/en/legislative/background-on-effort-to-clarify-pari-mutuel-withholding-and-reporting.

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Derby, Oaks contenders work at Epsom

Trainer John Gosden sent out two of his Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) contenders, favorite Golden Horn (Cape Cross) and Jack Hobbs (Halling), for a spin around the Derby course at Epsom's "Breakfast With The Stars" Tuesday, and Gosden said he was "happy" with the Dante S. (Eng-G2) one-two after watching each of them train with a lead horse.

"I was very happy with them," the conditioner said. "They relaxed well and moved well down the hill. It was just a breezy piece of work. They are young horses and it was a good experience for them to feel their way around the track. It is a peculiar track and it is something that you can't rehearse at home. They will do a piece of work at the weekend and then we will be where we want to be with them."

Both Gosden runners have stamina questions to answer, but the trainer expressed confidence.

"I am pretty sure that Jack Hobbs will get the trip and Golden Horn will probably get it on account that he is very laid-back," he said. "That will help him as, if it is a true test, he will need to see out the mile and a half. I think it is an interesting race, even though people have made it a bit one-dimensional."

Gosden described Golden Horn as "asleep" during his gallop, noting that relaxation will help him get the trip, and jockey Frankie Dettori added, "Golden Horn handled the track OK. He is a very laid-back character and he needs a crowd to rev him up. He will be a better horse on the race day."

William Buick, aboard Jack Hobbs, said, "Jack Hobbs felt very comfortable coming down the hill. We didn't press any buttons but he is still learning about the game. Every step he takes is going forward. The ground was perfect for him out there."

Last year's Racing Post Trophy (Eng-G1) winner Elm Park (Phoenix Reach), third on seasonal debut in the Dante and among the leading fancies for the June 6 Derby, pleased his connections his racecourse gallop. Elm Park sat behind a lead horse under jockey Andrea Atzeni rounding Tattenham Corner before quickening in the lane to finish on top.

"I was pleased, and thought it was a nice bit of work," Atzeni said. "He traveled well behind his lead horse, who went a nice, even gallop. I let him stretch his legs coming down the hill and he cruised to the front and quickened up well. He had a good look in front and wandered around a bit, but he was entitled to, as he's never been here before."

Trainer Andrew Balding added of the Qatar Racing colorbearer, "The main thing was to let him have a feel for the track. It was not a fact-finding mission. He had a hard race in the Dante but, to my surprise, by the Monday morning he was fresh and well. You always worry the first run back after a long layoff may drag them back but he seems fine."

Elm Park leads an international team of Derby contenders for Sheikh Fahad, which also includes Monday's German Two Thousand Guineas (Ger-G2) scorer Karpino (Cape Cross) and Prix Greffulhe (Fr-G2) winner Sumbal (Danehill Dancer), who would both have to be supplemented.

"Karpino has come out of the race in great form," said David Redvers, Qatar Racing's racing manager. "The big shame is that the German Guineas comes about 10 days too late and doesn't really give a big enough window, but we will see how he goes in the next few days. (Trainer) Andreas (Wohler) has talked about him being a King George (Eng-G1) or Arc (Fr-G1) horse.

"It was the fastest time in the last 20 years of the German Guineas and he was never off the bridle at any stage. To do that over a mile is quite staggering, as he is bred to be a mile-and-a-half horse."

Redvers added Sumbal is unlikely for the English Derby.

"A decision will be made later this week and I would say that the French Derby (Fr-G1) is the favorite at the moment," he noted.

Trainer David Wachman was on hand Tuesday, and he offered an upbeat bulletin on his One Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1) scorer and Epsom Oaks (Eng-G1) favorite Legatissimo (Danehill Dancer).

"She seems very well and we are happy with her as she has done nothing wrong," the conditioner noted. Wachman said the 1 1/2-mile trip of the Oaks should suit Legatissimo.

"A mile is as short as she would ever go, as a true-run mile sees her stamina come into it. We have always liked her a lot. Last year she was quite big and tall and we hoped she would maybe turn into a nice filly. She has definitely got stronger since her win at Newmarket."

Ryan Moore will once again partner Legatissimo at Epsom, meaning second choice Crystal Zvezda (Dubawi), who won the May 16 Fillies' Trial at Newbury under Moore, will need a new rider.

"We have always liked her and she is a wonderful specimen," trainer Sir Michael Stoute said of Crystal Zvezda. "We are now going to work on getting her a rider and hopefully have that organized in the next day or two."

John Gosden was pleased with the performances of two of his Oaks contenders, Musidora S. (Eng-G3) scorer Star of Seville (Duke of Marmalade) and Pretty Polly S. winner Jazzi Top (Danehill Dancer), after they stretched their legs.

Of Star of Seville, Gosden said, "Although there is nothing in her pedigree that says she will stay a mile and a half she is a big, strapping filly and we were very happy with her today. She does not have to lead; she can sit second, third or fourth, just as long as there is a good gallop she will be fine -- she just doesn't want it to turn into a sprint.

"Jazzi Top is the same on pedigree and that last furlong here they go up hill, but she is a real street fighter. Both fillies looked good together this morning and they are two lovely fillies to bring here."

Al Naamah (Galileo), the record-breaking five million-guineas purchase by Sheikh Joaan al Thani at Tattersalls October two years ago, also made an appearance at Epsom Tuesday. The Andre Fabre charge, a winner and Group 3-placed, has it in her pedigree to win this classic; she is a full-sister to Was, who won this in 2012.

"She is a fantastic-looking filly with a great pedigree and is exactly what we expected her to be," Fabre said. "She is still big and backwards, but I think she is ready for the Oaks. Bringing the horses over here for this is a great addition to their training as these horses don't see the bend downhill at home and it also makes a big difference for the jockey as well."

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In brief

The Aga Khan's Karaktar (High Chaparral), the winner of his two outings this year including the Prix Noailles (Fr-G3) April 20, is one of 18 remaining in the May 31 Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-G1) after Tuesday's scratching stage. Karaktar is likely to be trainer Alain de Royer Dupre's lone representative as he looks to win the French Derby for a seventh time. "He worked (Tuesday) and so far all the lights are green, so hopefully he can run at Chantilly," said Georges Rimaud, the Aga Khan's stud manager. "The draw is an always an issue, but that is in the hands of the gods. There is nothing we can do about it, so you wait until after the draw and make a plan to deal with it at the last minute. It will be interesting to see how he goes against better competition and in a bigger field." Aidan O'Brien has never won the Prix du Jockey Club and he has four contenders remaining: Cape Clear Island (Fastnet Rock), Highland Reel (Galileo), War Envoy (War Front) and Sir Isaac Newton (Galileo), the 3.6 million guineas Tattersalls October yearling who is entered in a Gowran Park maiden Wednesday. Andre Fabre has two engaged: Harlem (Champs Elysees) and French Two Thousand Guineas (Fr-G1) second New Bay (Dubawi)...

Epicuris (Rail Link) will bypass the May 31 Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-G1) in favor of the June 6 Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) after France Galop officials refused permission for stalls handler Nicolas Blondeau to load the colt at Chantilly, Equidia reports. Epicuris, winner of last year's Criterium de Saint-Cloud (Fr-G1), was scratched behind the gates of the May 5 Prix Greffulhe (Fr-G2) after refusing to load. He subsequently passed a stalls test under Blondeau's guidance last week. Blondeau, who also helped Goldikova before many of her races, will be allowed to accompany Epicuris under British Horseracing Authority rules...

The Aga Khan's four-year-old filly Dolniya (Azamour), winner of the Dubai Sheema Classic when last seen March 28, will make her British debut in the Coronation Cup (Eng-G1) June 6. Dolniya is lightly raced, having made just eight starts to date, but she has made the most of those opportunities, having also won the Prix de Malleret (Fr-G2) and finished third in the Prix Vermeille (Fr-G1) and fifth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1) last year. She opened her season with a win over multiple Group 1 winner Flintshire (Dansili) in a Chantilly conditions race March 3. "She worked (Tuesday) and worked well," said Georges Rimaud, stud manager for the Aga Khan. "She's in good form and I think the Coronation Cup will be a good test for her. I think it will be a tough race, but this is one of her big objectives for the end of spring and we are looking forward to seeing her run. We can make a plan for the summer after we see how she performs at Epsom."...

Godolphin has bought unbeaten two-year-old colt Birchwood (Dark Angel) from David Armstrong. The bay, who broke his maiden on debut at Doncaster May 2 before taking a Newbury conditions race two weeks later, will remain in training with Richard Fahey and will have summer stakes targets. John Ferguson, Bloodstock Advisor to Sheikh Mohammed, said, "Birchwood is an unbeaten winner of two races, including a valuable conditions race at Newbury. He could run in a listed race in Ireland next week and (is) possible (for a) tilt at the Superlative S. (Eng-G2) at the July Meeting in Newmarket."...

Richard Mulhall, a former trainer and racing manager for The Thoroughbred Corp. of the late Prince Ahmed Salman, reportedly died Monday after a lengthy illness at the age of 76. Among Mulhall's survivors is his daughter, California trainer Kristin Mulhall...

Churchill Downs has a special box seat package for the June 6 Belmont Stakes simulcast. For $24, fans can get an undercover box seat, official program, a domestic beer or souvenir soda and a custom, limited-edition Kentucky Derby 141 T-Shirt that features a victorious American Pharaoh. Fans can purchase the package by visiting the online box office at www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.

Notebooks

SANTA ANITA NOTEBOOK

MAY 28, 2015

by John Mucciolo

Santa Anita offered a trio of graded races last week.

Gamely S. (G1): Speedway Stable LLC's HARD NOT TO LIKE (Hard Spun) got through on the rail in deep stretch to post a neck decision. Now a two-time Grade 1 winner, the Christophe Clement trainee finished off nine furlongs on the firm lawn in 1:49 4/5 with Victor Espinoza.

Charles Whittingham S. (G2): After being last at the top of the lane, Alesia et al's ASHLEYLUVSSUGAR (Game Plan) delivered a fine run through the final furlong to score by a half-length under Gary Stevens. The Peter Eurton trainee ran to a third straight victory, clocking 1 1/2 miles on the firm turf in 2:30.

Los Angeles S. (G3): Brown, Klein and Lebherz's DISTINCTIV PASSION (With Distinction) sped to the front soon after the break and held off a stern test late to record a neck victory for trainer Jeff Bonde. The five-year-old finished off six furlongs on the fast main surface in a sharp 1:08 under Edwin Maldonado.

Track Stats

From a total of 44 races held at the Arcadia, California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 48 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 66 percent of the wins. From 29 frays contested on the dirt oval, 10 animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (34 percent), while two of the 15 grassy tilts were taken all the way on the front end (13 percent).

Speed was solid on the dirt this past week, but we wouldn't call the oval biased with the amount of winning favorites coming home. Of the 10 wire jobs on the main strip, nine came in sprint races.

On the turf, one wire-to-wire winner came in a downhill sprint, while the other one occurred going two turns.

Meet Totals

RACES:   762
DIRT:   524
TURF:   238
FAVORITES:   288 (38 percent)
2ND CHOICES:   149 (19 percent)
TURF WIRE:   38 (16 percent)
DIRT WIRE:   120 (23 percent)

HORSES TO WATCH

Thursday (5/21)

1ST -- ALIEN GIANT (Giant's Causeway) sped from the gate and never looked back en route to a fine first-out tally for conditioner Robertino Diodoro. The juvenile filly finished up in a nice final time for a barn having a lot of success with its babies.

Friday (5/22)

2ND -- SWIPE (Birdstone) broke slowest and had a bit of an eventful trip in this debut offering, but the Keith Desormeaux trainee still finished well to be second and likely won't be a maiden for long.

7TH -- BIRDLOVER (Byron) continues her fine form run and affinity for this turf course with a game score over a very nice field for trainer Doug O'Neill. The five-year-old mare is super sharp right now and will continue to be a player on this course.

Saturday (5/23)

1ST -- OIL (Tribal Rule) was very fast early and never slowed in posting a superb first score under the guidance of Victor Espinoza. The Peter Miller trainee was never in danger in this dash and we were a bit surprised that no claims came in on the gelding.

3RD -- SUNDAY RULES (Tribal Rule) has still yet to be headed in her lifetime and she looks ready for a go with graded runners after rolling over state-bred foes.

7TH -- SHEER PLEASURE (Birdonthewire) left little doubt in this stakes run and we liked how the sophomore miss came home in a sharp :31 1/5 under Tyler Baze. The Phil d'Amato pupil could evolve into a graded type with steady improvement.

Sunday (5/24)

5TH -- SUPER MAJESTY (Super Saver) was bet down to 3-5 odds in this debut offering and the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee did not disappoint, rolling home a 6 1/2-length winner while completing six panels in a swift 1:08 2/5. Tab this sophomore filly as a potential star in the making.

Monday (5/25)

5TH -- IRON FIST (Tapit) battled back gamely after being headed in midstretch to break his maiden for conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. The $1.5 million purchase made good in his first two-turn test and beat a horse who will likely be graduating next time out. The three-year-old colt came home in a stout :24 beneath Mike Smith.

ROSICKY (Flatter) ran a winning race in defeat and will be graduating soon after a few fine tries for trainer Carla Gaines.

6TH -- CURLIN'S FOX (Curlin) made pretty short work of a field we thought was full of talent and filly figures to be back in with stakes foes next time, in a sprint or route try for Gaines.

A Look Ahead

A pair of graded races Saturday highlight the weekend at Santa Anita, with the $300,000 American Oaks (G1) and $200,000 Californian Stakes (G2) as headliners.

Top Speed/Class ratings

NATIONAL

Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (5/18-5/24) - 3&up Dirt Routes
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Red Vine 5H 1m 70y (ft) MTH 5/23 Majestic Light S. 107
Stiffed 4F 1m 70y (ft) MTH 5/24 Monmouth Beach S. 101
Sea Shadow 4F 1 1/16m (ft) DEL 5/20 Winter Melody S. 95
Motown Men 6G 1m (ft) SA 5/23 Tiznow S. 94
African Rose 6M 1m (ft) ALB 5/23 Albuquerque Distaff H. 91
Sweet Basil 4F 1 1/16m (ft) GP 5/23 Alachua H. 91
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (5/18-5/24) - 3&up Dirt Sprints
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Bobcat Jim 5G 6f (ft) PRM 5/23 Ed Skinner Memorial S. 102
Donita's Ruler 4F 6f (ft) PRX 5/23 My Juliet S. 101
Killin Me Smalls 5G 6f (ft) NP 5/18 Journal H. 97
I'm a Kittyhawk 5M 6f (ft) WO 5/18 Ballade S. 95
Mr. Bowling 6H 6 1/2f (ft) HST 5/18 John Longden 6000 S. 95
Sunday Rules 4F 6f (ft) SA 5/23 Spring Fever S. 94
He's Very Rare 7G 6 1/2f (ft) BOI 5/23 Inagural S. 91
Get the Sensation 3F 4 1/2f (ft) CT 5/23 Fancy Buckles S. 90
Yucca 4F 6f (ft) PRM 5/23 Prairie Rose S. 90
Wally Van 7G 6f (my) ARP 5/24 Arapahoe Park Sprint S. 89
Hollywood Miss 5M 6 1/2f (ft) HST 5/18 Strawberry Morn S. 88
Aware 4F 5f (ft) ASD 5/22 Golden Stripe S. 84
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (5/18-5/24) - 3&up Turf
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Birdlover (GB) 5M a6 1/2f (fm) SA 5/22 Mizdirection S. 99
Sky Treasure 5M 1m (fm) WO 5/23 Nassau S. 99
Xtra Luck 4G 1 1/2m (fm) CD 5/23 Louisville H. 95
Go West Marie 4F 1m (fm) SA 5/23 Fran's Valentine S. 88
Ashleyluvssugar 4G 1 1/2m (fm) SA 5/24 Charles Whittingham S. 86
Top Winning Stakes Speed Ratings (5/18-5/24) - 3 year olds (Dirt & Turf)
Horse A/S Dist Trk Date Race Bris Speed
Sheer Pleasure 3F 1 1/16m (ft) SA 5/23 Melair S. 95
Eustacia 3F 6f (ft) NP 5/22 Chariot Chaser H. 94
A Lot 3C 7f (fm) BEL 5/23 Paradise Creek S. 91
Z Smoking Gun 3G 6f (my) ARP 5/23 Inaugural S. 90
Fooled Again 3C 6 1/2f (ft) EMD 5/24 Auburn H. 88
Blue Dancer 3G 6f (ft) NP 5/23 Western Canada H. 87
Cyclogenisis 3C 6f (ft) PID 5/18 Tom Ridge S. 86
Neveradoubt 3C 1 1/8m (fm) SA 5/23 Snow Chief S. 86
Ol' Fashion Gal 3F 1 1/16m (ft) WO 5/24 Selene S. 82

TOP BRIS CLASS RATINGS

Horse   Track   Dist(Cond)   Date   BRIS Class
Red Vine   MTH   1m 70y (ft)   5/23   123.1
Stiffed   MTH   1m 70y (ft)   5/24   121.4
Ledokol   GP   7f (ft)   5/21   121.2
Donita's Ruler   PRX   6f (ft)   5/23   120.5
Sea Shadow   DEL   1 1/16m (ft)   5/20   120.3
Bobcat Jim   PRM   6f (ft)   5/23   120.2
Reload   BEL   1m (fm)   5/22   120.0
Room for Me   BEL   6f (ft)   5/24   120.0
Birdlover (GB)   SA   a6 1/2f (fm)   5/22   120.0
Sheer Pleasure   SA   1 1/16m (ft)   5/23   120.0
Hazards of Love   CD   1 1/8m (ft)   5/24   119.9
Candy Waltz   IND   1m 70y (ft)   5/23   119.8
Sunday Rules   SA   6f (ft)   5/23   119.8
Motown Men   SA   1m (ft)   5/23   119.7
Killin Me Smalls   NP   6f (ft)   5/18   119.6

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

SPOT PLAYS

For Wednesday

TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
Charles Town   (1st) Pelesh Castle, 5-1
    (5th) Missilewhileuwork, 8-1
Delaware Park   (2nd) Fashionable Frolic, 9-2
    (6th) Alpha Red, 5-1
Evangeline Downs   (2nd) Cajun Freud, 8-1
    (7th) Rooster Bullet, 6-1
Indiana Grand   (5th) Forearm Shiver, 4-1
    (7th) Victoriana Rose, 3-1
Louisiana Downs   (4th) Cheyenne Pass, 7-2
    (6th) K T's Golden Year, 6-1
Mountaineer   (1st) Venture Capital, 9-2
    (7th) John's War, 7-2
Presque Isle Downs   (2nd) Builtforthegirls, 5-1
    (7th) Gentle One, 4-1
Thistledown   (2nd) Discreet Place, 5-1
    (8th) Crimson Comic, 8-1
Woodbine   (3rd) Zia, 8-1
    (7th) Rockhaven, 8-1

HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.

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