Del Mar resumes turf racing August 9, but without claiming races or sprints
Del Mar plans further adjustments to racing on its turf course following injuries on the new surface, which had been expanded and installed this past winter to replace its previous course that was more than 50 years old.
The changes, which will take effect immediately, will consist of the following items:
* No turf sprints will be conducted
"We are doing everything within our power to ensure a safe turf course," DMTC President and CEO Joe Harper said. "Our riders and our trainers have told us that it is a safe course from the start and they continue to support us in that regard. Preparing to resume turf racing next week will allow our crews to perform additional safety measures."
Following the injury to a horse on the course Thursday, Del Mar announced that it would not conduct any grass racing through the current weekend. During that time -- and into the coming week -- track crews will further aerate the course and include additional watering on it in an attempt to provide additional softening to the surface.
Del Mar's executive vice president for racing Tom Robbins said that the adjustments the track is making take all their earlier safety precautions yet another step ahead.
"Our turf sprints put extra stress on the course and by not running claiming horses on it we expect to be working with our very best horses," he said. "We'll aggressively aerate more, water more and -- with the goal of returning to grass racing next weekend -- we'll have the inner turf rail out to 24 feet, basically racing our horses over a fresh surface."
Del Mar has six different moves with its inner turf rail, going in 6-foot increments from zero to 30 feet. Earlier in the meet it had raced at zero, 6 and 18 feet.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club officials noted that they had begun consultations with renowned surfaces expert Dr. Michael (Mick) Peterson, the executive director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, working in conjunction with the track's turf superintendent Leif Dickinson.
"I am aware of the Del Mar turf course and all signs are that it is a safe one," Peterson noted. "The measurements and readings I've seen indicate they are well within proper parameters. I've worked with Leif (Dickinson) in the past and have great confidence in his ability to do things the right way."
Further, steps are being put in place to provide enhanced pre-race inspections of all racehorses, something the track and state veterinarians conduct on racing days. All racehorses go through four different veterinary inspections -- first in the morning, then on three other occasions throughout the day -- prior to racing in the afternoon.
Del Mar officials also stated that they will continue to work with the California Horse Racing Board safety stewards -- in conjunction with their own safety steward -- to be positive that all possible avenues have been explored in providing safety on the course.
Those same officials said they will continue full communication with their partners in racing in Southern California, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Thoroughbred Trainers and the Jockeys Guild.
Del Mar's 36-day meeting is scheduled to run through Wednesday, September 3.
Wise Dan's options include Woodward on dirt
Wise Dan is one of two horses to win the Fourstardave twice, and no horse has won the race three times.
"When I bring that horse over to run, I want him to be 150 percent, and I feel like I'm really trying to squish everything in to get to the Fourstardave," the trainer added. "I really want to run in the Fourstardave. I'd love to win it three years in a row. I'm not worried about any of the horses running in it, but I'm worried about my horse."
Wise Dan has won 12 straight races on the turf, dating back to the 2012 Fourstardave. His only losses during that span came in the 2012 Stephen Foster Handicap on the dirt and in the 2013 Shadwell Turf Mile, which was transferred to Keeneland's Polytrack. Wise Dan won the 2011 Clark Handicap on the dirt.
With Wise Dan having demonstrated the ability to be effective on multiple surfaces, LoPresti said he doesn't want to rule out the possibility of running the seven-year-old gelding in the Woodward.
"What if he starts working good on the dirt or something?" LoPresti said. "I'm probably leaning more in favor of the Bernard Baruch, but I would never rule the (Woodward) out."
LoPresti said he is considering breezing Wise Dan on the dirt on Saturday but won't make a final decision until then.
"I want to see what the weather is going to do," LoPresti said. "I'll watch him in the morning, get him out and see how he is, and then I'll make my decision."
Champion She's a Tiger retired, to sell at Fasig-Tipton
In the Breeders' Cup, She's a Tiger just held off Ria Antonia on the wire of but was disqualified for a slight bumping incident right before the wire, which resulted in the runner-up being elevated to victory by the stewards. The pair had hooked up in the lane after She's a Tiger set the pace, with each filly drifting back and forth a bit. However, the stewards ruled that She's a Tiger's drifting caused the bump right before the wire and that it resulted in Ria Antonia losing her momentum for a second.
That and the close nose finish saw She's a Tiger being disqualified from her gutsy win in the Breeders' Cup, but two months later she earned an even bigger prize when honored with an Eclipse Award as the 2013 champion two-year-old filly.
The bay miss didn't reappear in competition until May, where she ran a subpar seventh in the Eight Belles at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. That would end up being her final race as a date with the auction ring now awaits.
Bred by Dr. Rodney Orr in Kentucky, She's a Tiger is out of the stakes-winning Cahill Road mare Shandra Smiles, who found fame when producing multiple Grade 1 winner and $1.4 million earner Smiling Tiger.
Shandra Smiles is herself a half-sister to Grade 3 runner-up Traci Girl as well as the stakes-placed Elusive Quality duo Draw Fire and Calidad. This female family is also responsible for Group 1 diva Escaline and Grade 2 king Love That Mac.
She's a Tiger brought $150,000 as a Keeneland September yearling.
Falling Sky chooses Vanderbilt
At three, Falling Sky won the 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis Stakes and was last of 19 in the Kentucky Derby while in the barn of John Terranova.
"(Falling Sky) came to me last summer, and he's always been an athlete," Weaver said. "It was clear to me why he was on the Derby trail; he has always acted like a talented colt.
"We thought when he was sent to me that we would most likely focus on one-turn races, and we still feel that way, although we might try a two-turn race under the right circumstances. His two big races were at seven furlongs, so the six furlongs is a little bit of an experiment."
Among his Vanderbilt rivals is Bahamian Squall, who was runner-up here a year ago.
After a hard eight-race campaign in which he flashed elite status, Bahamian Squall received a long rest -- from last December to July -- courtesy of trainer David Fawkes. Now, rested and ready with a single prep race under his belt, the four-year-old son of Gone West is back Saturday for a second try at the Alfred G. Vanderbilt.
Bahamian Squall only won once last year, defeating sprint champion Trinniberg in the Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder, but he earned $353,310. His campaign included a second to Justin Phillip in the Vanderbilt, a second in the Sunshine Millions Sprint, and a sixth-place finish -- beaten just three lengths -- in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
"He's training great, and he needed the last race," Fawkes said of Bahamian Squall, who likes to stalk the pace. "He had a nice work the other day (five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 on the main track July 26). It wasn't a fast work, but he didn't need that. He galloped out real strong.
"I'm expecting him to run great. If he can come back and run the race he ran last year (in the Vanderbilt), I think he can win."
Bahamian Squall is 8-1 on the morning line for the Vanderbilt.
NYRA announces probables for upcoming Saratoga stakes
Also probable for the race are Bohemian Dance, Ducks Dock and Horvat Clan, while Manacor, Manchurian High, and Seton Hall are possible.
Dirt marathoners will gather Thursday for the $100,000 Birdstone at 1 3/4 miles, headed by Repole Stable's Micromanage, who missed by a neck when second in the Brooklyn Handicap at 1 1/2 miles. The Birdstone is also expected to attract the veteran gelding Don Dulce, who would be making his 38th career start; Shadwell Stable's Irsaal, who will be making his first stakes appearance since finishing third in the Easy Goer in June 2013 at Belmont; and More Hundred Acre, making his stakes debut. Peyton and Seton Hall are questionable.
Friday's $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame will likely see Bashart, who broke his maiden and won the With Anticipation last summer at the Spa; Bobby's Kitten, winner of the Penn Mile on May 31; Can'thelpbelieving, who beat older horses in an allowance on opening day; the Irish-bred Craftsman, who took the Nick Shuk Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park last time out; Long on Value and So Lonesome, most recently second and third, respectively, in the Manila at Belmont Park; and Smooth Daddy, making his graded stakes debut.
Multiple Grade 2 winner Silver Max, who is rapidly closing in on the $2 million mark in earnings, makes his second start of 2014 in next Saturday's $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at a mile on the inner turf. Trained by Dale Romans, the five-year-old son of Badge of Silver was a front-running victor in the Firecracker on June 28 at Churchill Downs; in his only appearance at the Spa he took the Bernard Baruch over a yielding course last summer.
The Fourstardave also is expected to attract Jack Milton and Big Screen, who were first and second, respectively, in the Poker on May 26 at Belmont; Grand Arch, no worse than third in 14 career starts and winner of the King Edward at Woodbine last time out; Sayaad, who stretched his winning streak to three with a lifetime-best 104 BRIS Speed rating in the Forbidden Apple on July 4 at Belmont Park; and Seek Again, who in three American appearances won the Hollywood Derby in December 2013, finished second in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in May at Churchill Downs, and checked in third in the Manhattan on June 7 at Belmont.
A trio of sensational debut winners at Belmont Park are likely to contest the $200,000 Adirondack for two-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs next Sunday.
Leading the charge is the Leah Gyarmati-trained Wonder Gal, who was unveiled in the Lynbrook for New York-breds at six furlongs. After lagging behind the early pace, Wonder Gal made a powerful move around the far turn and drew off in the stretch to win by 14 1/2 lengths.
Cavorting won by a similarly large margin in her debut for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The bay filly broke sharply and went straight to the front, leading the field gate to wire en route to an 11-length score in a six-furlong maiden race.
Pletcher sent out the third, Angela Renee, to a 2 1/2-length debut win on June 27 in a five-furlong dash. Angela Renee, owned by Siena Farm, is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 victor To Honor and Serve.
Also probable for the race are Take Charge Brandi, runner-up in the Schuylerville on opening day at the Spa; Vivian Da Bling, winner of the fillies' division of the TTA Sales Futurity in her latest outing; and Phoenix Park, who debuted a winner in a 4 1/2-furlong sprint on June 9 at Parx.
Coco's Wildcat and Empressive Humor are possible.
Tough-luck loser of the Sanford, Mr. Z, and 8-5 favorite in the Sanford, Nonna's Boy, are likely to meet each other again in the $200,000 Saratoga Special also at 6 1/2 furlongs next Sunday.
Mr. Z, trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, missed by a neck in the Sanford despite a rough stretch run, while Nonna's Boy moved early into a quick pace and tired to finish fourth, beaten two lengths.
Texas-bred W V Jetsetter is probable to join the Sanford for trainer Bret Calhoun. W V Jetsetter is coming off consecutive victories at Lone Star Park, including a 1 1/2-length score in the TTA Sales Futurity for colts and geldings.
In addition to Nonna's Boy, Pletcher is likely to send out Blame Jim, who broke his maiden impressively for owner Mike Repole on July 19 at Saratoga, and Stanford, who enters off a maiden win on June 29 at Monmouth Park.
Others probable for the Saratoga Special are Cleveland Sound, I Spent It, Rod McLeod and Tizcano. Lord Tyrion is possible.
Trainers' group proposes gradual elimination of raceday medications
The following group of North American trainers has proposed the gradual elimination of race-day medication in the United States, according to a press release issued Friday afternoon.
Under the proposal, no two-year-olds would receive race day medication beginning in 2015, and no horses of any age would receive race day medication starting in 2016.
In addition, this group is supportive of the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium's efforts to approve model rules for 26 controlled medications by the RCI board of directors.
Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas commented in support of the proposal.
"We believe it's time to take a proactive position regarding the administration of raceday medication," Lukas said. "American racing has always been a global leader, and it's time to restore confidence in our game and in our international standing."
Here is the complete list of trainers in alphabetical order:
Waya attracts overflow field
Trainer Christophe Clement is responsible for a grand total of four entrants -- Tabreed, Levanto, also-eligible Cushion and the main-track-only Lady Cohiba, who captured the off-the-turf Glens Falls at the Spa last season.
Tabreed capped 2013 by closing gallantly for second to the loose-on-the-lead Inimitable Romanee in the Long Island, her only previous attempt at this distance. Unraced until the July 12 Modesty, the daughter of Sakhee was a better-than-appears eighth, beaten all of two lengths after a slow start and a wide trip. Tabreed, who gets in with only 115 pounds, also gets a rider switch to Joel Rosario.
Levanto has the stamina, but her class remains an open question. Successful in a pair of handicaps at the Curragh last year, she failed to place in her two stakes attempts in Ireland. Levanto made an inauspicious U.S. debut in a June 15 Belmont allowance, fading to a tailed-off last, but she has since trained forwardly.
In contrast, Cushion has already established herself of stakes quality by placing in three listed events in England, including a near-miss to Seal of Approval at this trip. The daughter of Galileo and European champion Attraction seamlessly transferred her game to the American sod, rolling to an emphatic allowance score at Belmont June 28. If she draws in, Cushion rates as a solid threat.
Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard sends out Angel Terrace, a badly-hampered fourth in the 2013 Waya, and blueblood also-eligible Cat's Claw. Augustin Stable's homebred Angel Terrace tuned up with a third in the restricted Northern Fling over a mile on Presque Isle's Tapeta. Cat's Claw, the first on the also-eligible list, has booked her ticket to stakes company off maiden and allowance scores at Belmont. The Dynaformer filly is bred to excel in these conditions, as a three-quarter sister to Point of Entry.
Rounding out the field are English Class, an English Channel mare who was fourth in a blanket finish to the July 6 Dance Smartly at Woodbine; Always Kitten and Angegreen, who were most recently elevated to third and sixth, respectively, in the Robert G. Dick; and the aforementioned Praia.
We Are disqualified from Prix Saint-Alary win
George Strawbridge's homebred three-year-old filly We Are has been disqualified from her victory in the Prix Saint-Alary on May 25 and a May 1 Saint-Cloud conditions race after returning abnormal levels of testosterone related to an ovarian tumor. Connections have said they will not appeal the decision by France-Galop.
We Are, who carried an unbeaten record through her first three outings for trainer Freddy Head, was amongst the favorites for the Prix de Diane on June 15, but was ruled out of that classic after Head expressed displeasure with the Dansili filly's condition. The tumor was detected shortly thereafter and surgically removed.
Due to the unusual source of the testosterone, Head and Strawbridge will not be held responsible or charged.
"It is terrible news," Head said. "She never missed a day and was very sound. She had those three races in six or seven weeks and had never been stopped. We were obviously aiming her at the Prix de Diane, but then this happened."
Head also offered a positive update on We Are.
"She's back on track now and will be back in full training next week," he said. "Deauville is obviously out of the question now, but I'd hope to run her in the (Group 1) Prix Vermeille (at Longchamp on September 14) -- we'll see."
Head noted that We Are was unlikely to target the Breeders' Cup, but could point toward the October 5 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, with the Hong Kong International meeting in December a possibility thereafter.
James Wigan, racing manager to Strawbridge, told Racing Post that Strawbridge was "shocked," but taking the decision sportingly.
"It was a shock to Mr. Strawbridge at the time," Wigan told the trade daily. "They've taken quite a harsh view of things (to disqualify), but it is totally the correct decision even though they've not made any allowances for the fact that it was endogenous production of testosterone. Mr Strawbridge has been in racing a long time and is very much a gentleman and decided to accept the outcome, and hopes the filly can reassert herself."
With We Are's disqualification, The Aga Khan's Vazira has been promoted to victory in the Prix Saint-Alary, becoming the third Group 1 winner from the first crop of her sire.
Take Cover runs himself in Nunthorpe field with King George score
Trainer David Griffiths celebrated the biggest winner of his burgeoning career after Take Cover plundered the Group 2, £100,000 King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on Friday.
"I am delighted -- unbelievable, unbelievable," Griffiths said. "We have always said that he was good and he is that quick that he just burns them off and just keeps going. It's phenomenal to have a first Group winner.
"Andrew from (owner) Norcroft Park Stud likes to give them a lot of time and the family have all improved with age. I think, arguably, he might be getting better. It sounds daft to say it at seven but he might be."
Take Cover traveled well in the five-furlong contest off a furious pace set by Caspian Prince before being sent for home by jockey Andrea Atzeni. Challengers were spread right across the track but Take Cover held on by a neck from Extortionist up his inside, with a short-head back to 9-2 favorite Moviesta.
"He has got a lot of speed, likes the quick ground and battles well. I wasn't sure whether I had won or not because I was so far away from the others. Thankfully, I did," Atzeni stated. "The plan was to make the running but the other horses were going quite quick in front and took the lead. I hit the front at the two but he is one of those horses that, once he gets his head in front, he is hard to get by.
"He has got plenty of speed and will be a top sprinter. I don't think that I have ever sat on anything as quick as him."
Griffiths, who rode more than 60 winners on the Flat, started training in 2010 and has made no secret of how highly he rates Take Cover, who is now on course for the Group 1, £265,000 Nunthorpe Stakes at York on August 22. The improving seven-year-old son of Singspiel is a 12-1 chance for that five-furlong prize with Paddy Power and William Hill.
"He likes York and, as long as we get him back and everything is fine, then hopefully we will hopefully go for the Nunthorpe," Griffiths said.
Extortionist and Moviesta, separated by only a short-head, are also expected to show back up for the Nunthorpe later this month. For Extortionist, it was a second narrow defeat in four outings, alternating with two victories.
"We're very happy with ours," said the three-year-old's trainer, Olly Stevens. "In these five-furlong races it can be a case of whose turn it is. In them you need all the luck, particularly here.
"I'm not sure this is really his track, he looked quite flatfooted down the hill, and then he had to keep switching out. There's only one more five-furlong race in Britain above Group 3 level this season, so we'll be off to York and maybe his turn will come."
Moviesta has not won since taking the King George last year, but trainer Bryan Smart was thrilled with the four-year-old's effort on Friday.
"He's back to his best," Smart noted, "and he'll finish the season well for us. You need all the luck here and if he hadn't drifted he'd surely have won.
"The way he quickens is awesome and although he hasn't won yet this season he's showed us today that he's still got it. York will be next, and then the Prix de l'Abbaye, and we'll just hope that the ground isn't too soft in France."
Glorious Goodwood's Friday program got underway with Pether's Moon gaining an overdue first win of the season in the Group 3, £60,000 Glorious Stakes. The Dylan Thomas four-year-old now has prizes abroad on his radar, including a tilt at the Caulfield Cup in Australia, after holding off 2012 St Leger winner Encke to take Friday's prize by 1 1/4 lengths despite not looking entirely at home on the downhill run into the straight.
"He didn't seem to come down the hill that well and I wasn't that happy watching it," trainer Richard Hannon said. "(Jockey Richard) Hughsie had to get after him and it looked like he was beaten but then he came on the bridle. But the horse deserved that, it was nothing more than his due and, without sounding arrogant, he's better than he looked there. We like him a lot and he's very much one we'd like to keep as he's still growing into his frame.
"This was nothing more than he was due. He ran very well at Ascot and Newmarket, all the big meetings, and he deserved this. He always looks like he will quicken more than he actually does and I don't think this track really suits him."
"He deserves to win a race as he has hit the goalpost a few times," Hughes added. "He stays well but, if you hit the front too soon, he pulls up as you could see there."
Hannon and Hughes celebrated their third wins of the week in the Glorious and consolidated their positions at the top of the Racing UK leading trainer and jockey leaderboards, respectively.
Trainer Charlie Appleby was delighted with Encke's comeback second in the race. The Kingmambo five-year-old, who was having his first start since denying Camelot of the Triple Crown in the St Leger at Doncaster in September 2012, traveled smoothly under William Buick but had no answer to the strong run of Pether's Moon.
"I was delighted with Encke -- really, really happy," Appleby said. "He showed all of his old enthusiasm and ability there. William said that he gave him a great feel all the way round. He had his ears pricked, handled the ground and handled the track."
"It was a great comeback from Encke. He traveled well and showed that all the enthusiasm is still there," Buick agreed.
A return to Goodwood for the Group 2, £100,000 Celebration Mile on August 23 is in the cards for Wannabe Yours following his victory in the Group 3, £60,000 Thoroughbred Stakes Friday.
The three-year-old son of Dubawi, homebred by Kirdford-based Normandie Stud Ltd., had to overcome trouble in running but, once in the clear, came with a strong run under Buick to deny Hors de Combat by a neck.
Wannabe Yours is now unbeaten in three starts this season, having taken a maiden at Nottingham and a handicap at Doncaster.
"It's tough breeding them and then, when you own and breed, it's special to have a group winner at Goodwood and you live locally," trainer John Gosden remarked.
"Wannabe Yours is a very smart horse. His last run last year didn't go right but he has won and won and won this year -- he won by nine lengths last time in a competitive handicap. This is the last one mile, three-year-old group race of the year in Europe, so we have been waiting for this race since Derby Day and it has been the right thing.
"Mile races are going to be his game and obvious race now would be the Celebration Mile back here."
A step back up to Group 1 company beckons for J Wonder following her last-gasp success under Jimmy Fortune in the Group 3, £60,000 Oak Tree Stakes going seven furlongs in the penultimate race at Goodwood Friday afternoon.
The three-year-old daughter of Footstepsinthesand, trained by Brian Meehan, looked set for a big season when capturing the Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury in April but found the step up in class and trip too much for her in her latest two starts. She finished seventh in the French One Thousand Guineas and filled that same position in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, after racing keenly on both occasions.
J Wonder settled better in the Oak Tree Stakes while dropping back in trip, and came with a strong run inside the final furlong to cut down long-time leader Muteela, who was sent off the 7-4 favorite, by a neck.
"J Wonder was wonderful today. Jimmy gave her a beautiful ride and knows her inside out -- he rides her nearly every week," Meehan said. "She was very good in the Fred Darling but things did not work out in the French Guineas or in the Coronation. She got a little fired up going to gate and things like that but she was wonderful today.
"There is the Matron Stakes, the Sun Chariot and the First Lady Stakes at Keeneland has also been mentioned. Now she's back where she belongs, there are all sorts of options."
Watering will take place Friday night on a similar program as to the last two nights as Glorious Goodwood prepares for his final day.
Goodwood's Clerk of the Course Seamus Buckley has consulted eight weather forecasts and they all predict different outcomes. There might be a passing shower and up to two millimeters of rain could be delivered on the course Saturday.
"Two millimeters would be insufficient to maintain the going at good to firm, which is our aim," Buckley explained. "Therefore, we will water overnight on the bends and in the straight. It is imperative to get some water on the course as we don't want rain falling on firm ground (Saturday).
"There have been plenty of thrilling finishes today and everything has gone well. We are now looking forward to tremendous racing on the fifth and final day of Glorious Goodwood."
Buckley has looked after the course at Goodwood for 20 years and, much to his surprise, the final race of Glorious Goodwood on Saturday has been re-named Seamus Buckley's 20th Glorious Handicap in his honor.
Buckley only found out Friday morning and, in typical English understatement, said, "That is very good."
Buckley started as grounds manager at Goodwood Racecourse, added assistant clerk of the course to his responsibilities in 1998 and became clerk of the course in 2006.
"Obviously, it is the 20th year that Seamus has been responsible for the track at Glorious Goodwood," remarked Adam Waterworth, managing director of Goodwood Racecourse. "We did not feel that the moment could go without mention -- hence (Saturday's) new race title -- and the plan is for the Duke of Richmond to make a presentation to him.
"This week has again proved that Seamus invariably gets the ground right and Goodwood Racecourse is difficult to deal with because of its situation on top of the Downs.
"What a star Seamus is and, if you spoke to trainers and jockeys, I think you would find that they agree."
Borderlescott, still going strong at age 12, seeks second Stewards' Cup
At the age of 12, Borderlescott is the oldest horse running at Glorious Goodwood this week and will be making his eighth appearance at the five-day meeting.
In a career spanning 11 seasons, Borderlescott has run 77 times, winning 14 races and amassing career earnings of £786,243. His Glorious Goodwood record reads two wins, a second and a third from eight outings and there would not be a more celebrated result should he triumph again in Saturday's Stewards' Cup.
The son of Compton Place, who was purchased for a mere 13,000 guineas at DBS Sale in October, 2003, sprung to prominence as a four-year-old in 2006. After a head defeat in a listed race at Fairyhouse in July, he made his Glorious Goodwood debut in the Stewards' Cup as a strongly fancied 10-1 chance and produced a smooth performance to win decisively by a neck.
That victory was the highlight of Robin Bastiman's training career but the best was still to come. Borderlescott came within a short-head of becoming the first back-to-back winner of the Stewards' Cup since Sky Diver (1967 & 1968) when second to Zidane in 2007. Remarkably, he nearly defied top-weight and a rating of 110 when third, beaten three quarters of a length, to Conquest the following year.
Borderlescott took his form to a new level next time out when getting the better of a top-class field in the rearranged Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at Newmarket in August 2008.
The bay gelding returned to Glorious Goodwood in 2009 and was warm favorite for the Group 2 King George Stakes over five furlongs. Sent off at 9-4, the draw conspired against him and he did much the best of those from a low draw to finish fourth. This set him up nicely for a defense of his Nunthorpe Crown and he didn't disappoint, scoring by a neck to become the first dual winner since Sharpo (1981 & 1982).
Kieren Fallon was in the plate when Borderlescott lined up in 2010 King George, and the Goodwood faithful backed him into 9-2 favoritism. He produced a brilliant performance and scored easily by a half-length under a confident waiting ride from the champion jockey.
Unfortunately, Borderlescott struggled with injury over the following 12 months, only running five times.
His two most recent performances at Glorious Goodwood have yielded a respectable ninth in the 2012 Stewards' Cup and an 11th in last year's King George.
Borderlescott will enter Saturday's contest off a close fifth in a York handicap on July 11.
Toronado likely headed to France after Sussex second
Dual Group 1-winning miler Toronado has exited his second-place finish in Wednesday's Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in good order, according to trainer Richard Hannon.
Toronado went down by a length to the John Gosden-trained Kingman while attempting to defend his Sussex title, and Hannon admitted that Al Shaqab Racing's four-year-old son of High Chaparral was simply beat by a better horse on the day.
"Toronado has come out of it fine -- we're very proud of him," Hannon told Racing UK. "I think the race was run to suit us -- I don't think we were unlucky or anything. We got first run, we were handier, we were just beaten by a very good horse -- he's a star."
Hannon added that Toronado would likely travel to France for his next target.
"He'll stay at a mile," the conditioner said. "He might go for the (Group 1) Jacques le Marois (on August 17 at Deauville) or the (Group 1) Moulin (de Longchamp on September 14) -- basically avoid that Gosden bloke!
"We might have another go at (Kingman) somewhere -- we probably will and you can't say the result might be different, but we'll see."
Hannon also noted that Michael Daniels' Windshear, second in Wednesday's Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, will go to the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster on September 13.
"He didn't come down the hill (at Goodwood) very well, he got a bit unbalanced, but Doncaster is a lovely flat track," Hannon said. "The straight is two furlongs further and he looks like he'll appreciate that. He's had quite a hard time of things lately -- he's basically been to every major meeting so we'll give him a little bit of a break and then bring him back for the Leger."
Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor's Darwin, third in the Sussex, could resurface in that course's Group 2 Celebration Mile on August 23. Trainer Aidan O'Brien noted that he is seeking fast track targets for the Big Brown colt.
"He loves fast ground," O'Brien said. "(The Sussex was) the first time he's ever got that ground. I couldn't be happier with him. We always thought he was a smart horse. He could go back for something like the Celebration Mile."
Darwin, a $1.3-million purchase by Demi O'Byrne at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale, made his first two starts in New York for trainer Todd Pletcher later that year. He has won three of eight starts since being transferred to Ireland last year, including the Minstrel Stakes last July.
Del Mar cancels turf racing for rest of week
In light of the latest injury on the new turf course, sustained by the four-year-old filly Serious in Thursday's 7TH race, Del Mar announced Thursday evening that there would be no turf racing Friday, Saturday and Sunday. All races will therefore be conducted on the Polytrack.
Del Mar had already called off turf racing last Sunday in the wake of several equine fatalities, as outlined in this story, and undertook maintenance measures on the course. Three turf races were held as scheduled Wednesday and two on Thursday, including the five-furlong allowance/optional claimer in which Serious broke down.
The track released the following statement after the conclusion of Thursday's card:
"Del Mar Thoroughbred Club feels deep sorrow and great concern following a further injury on our turf course during racing on Thursday afternoon.
"We continue to be of the belief that Del Mar's turf course is safe for our horses and riders. Our crews have performed extensive maintenance measures to enhance that safety and those measures -- and the course itself -- met with the approval of safety officials from the California Horse Racing Board this past Tuesday.
"Nonetheless, given this additional injury on our turf course, we now will discontinue racing on it for the remainder of this week. We will continue efforts to improve the course during this down time and hope to resume racing on it in the near future.
"Further, we also will continue our communication with all our partners in the racing community -- the California Horse Racing Board, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Thoroughbred Trainers and the Jockey Guild -- in attempts to understand and solve this serious problem."
Travers still on the table as Wildcat Red targets King's Bishop
"We'll get him up there and work him the week before the race," Garoffalo said. "He's very good. I gave him some days off after the Haskell, and we'll bring him back to the track on Friday or Saturday. He's doing great."
Story to Tell, Bad Read Sanchez square off again in Best Pal
Story to Tell and Bad Read Sanchez, the top two from the July 13 Willard L. Proctor Memorial at Los Alamitos, will renew rivalry in Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Best Pal at Del Mar. The 6 1/2-furlong dash is the primary stepping stone to the meet's crowning race for juveniles, the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on September 3.
The Dan Hendricks-trained Story to Tell brings a two-for-three mark. Victorious in his May 23 debut at Santa Anita, the Bluegrass Cat colt ran a green second in the Santa Anita Juvenile on June 22. The winner, Wake Up Nick, has since dominated Wednesday's Graduation Stakes at Del Mar for the California-bred set.
Story to Tell learned from that experience next time in the Willard Proctor, where he kicked clear under confident handling by Joe Talamo. His 1 1/4-length margin doesn't tell the whole tale, for he was very much in hand. The $200,000 Barretts March purchase aims to keep progressing here, but Talamo might have some tactical decisions to make from his rail draw.
Bad Read Sanchez went off as the 4-5 Proctor favorite, thanks to a 10-length rout in his unveiling at Santa Anita June 20. The Doug O'Neill trainee didn't show the same flair second time out, however, and got embroiled in a bumping match between foes in the stretch. The son of hot freshman sire Warrior's Reward had no answer to the powerful punch of Story to Tell, settling for second.
But just as Story to Tell improved off his first stakes try, so might Bad Read Sanchez. The Reddam Racing colorbearer is also better drawn in post 4 this time, compared to the rail in the Proctor, which led regular rider Mario Gutierrez to ease back early and angle around.
O'Neill has another entrant in Henry's Holiday, a 3 1/4-length debut winner who was a rallying fourth in the 5 1/2-furlong Santa Anita Juvenile. By Harlan's Holiday and out of a Victory Gallop mare, the closer should benefit from the added ground on Sunday. Tyler Baze is back aboard.
Rowdy Dylan, a $280,000 buy at Barretts March, looks well on his way to better things for trainer Peter Miller. A slow-starting second on debut to Holiday Camp, who was later the beaten favorite in the Santa Anita Juvenile, Rowdy Dylan came right back to demolish a July 12 maiden at Los Alamitos by 7 1/4 lengths. He didn't get away cleanly that day either, but figures to grow out of that babyish tendency. Regular pilot Edwin Maldonado will guide the nicely-bred son of Sky Mesa.
Trainer Mark Casse is double-handed with Skyway, another son of Sky Mesa, and Conquest Bigluck E. Skyway boasts the only Polytrack experience of any member of the Best Pal field -- a 6 3/4-length debut score at Keeneland on April 5. Not seen again until the June 28 Bashford Manor, John C. Oxley's colt had a troubled trip at Churchill Downs and wound up third. Stewart Elliott retains the mount on the stalking type.
Conquest Bigluck E swept from off the pace and got up in time in his June 5 premiere at Churchill. For this initial stakes foray, the Conquest Stables runner picks up the services of Hall of Famer Mike Smith.
Although Conquest Bigluck E has yet to race on synthetic, he is from the first crop of two-time champion Lookin at Lucky, who turned the Best Pal/Del Mar Futurity double en route to his first Eclipse Award in 2009. Lookin at Lucky has gotten off to a tremendous start at stud, and if Conquest Bigluck E prevails, the father/son duo would make Best Pal history. Only one winner of this race has gone on to sire a winner: Flying Paster (1978) was emulated by his son Creston (1993), when the race was known as the Balboa.
Highway Boss is the most experienced of the group with four starts under his belt. The Molly Pearson trainee opened his career at Turf Paradise, finishing third in a trial on April 16 and a belated fifth in the May 4 ATBA Spring Sales Stakes. Two-for-two since moving to California, he broke his maiden for a $50,000 tag at Santa Anita June 6 and narrowly scored in the July 6 Everett Nevin at Oak Tree at Pleasanton. This marks a stiffer class test for the Street Boss gelding, who teams up with Tiago Pereira from post 8.
Los Alamitos maiden winner Two Six Wins represents freshman sire Midshipman, the champion two-year-old colt of 2008. Trained by Mike Pender, Two Six Wins gave way badly in his first try, but stuck on determinedly in his follow-up. He'll need to take another step forward to be competitive on Sunday.
Game On Dude, Luminance work for Pacific Classic, Debutante
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert sent Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic defending champion Game On Dude and Del Mar Debutante hopeful Luminance through workouts Thursday morning over Del Mar's synthetic Polytrack. They worked separately, each with Martin Garcia aboard.
"Maintenance works," Baffert stated. "They just cruised around there, went well and looked good."
Game On Dude went five furlongs in 1:01 2/5. Clocker Dane (Dr. D) Nelson recorded a three-furlong split of :37 4/5 and a gallop-out time of 1:13.80 for six furlongs, commenting the seven-year-old Awesome Again gelding was on "cruise control."
Game On Dude is exiting a fourth-place run in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 28, and was second as the defending champion in the Charles Town Classic prior to that in mid-April. The Kentucky-bred dark bay opened the year with a fifth in the San Antonia and a title defense win in the Santa Anita Handicap. He captured last year's Pacific Classic, scheduled for August 24 in 2014, by 8 1/2 lengths.
Luminance set a :57.39 track record for five furlongs winning her July 20 racing debut. On Thursday, the Tale of the Cat juvenile miss went a half-mile in :48 1/5 with clockers catching the first three-eighths in :36 1/5 and a gallop-out of 1:01 for five furlongs.
Baffert said Luminance will be trained up to the Grade 1, $300,000 Debutante on August 30.
Champion Shared Belief, who extended his undefeated record with a victory in the Los Alamitos Derby on July 5, worked Tuesday over the Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer looked on as the Candy Ride sophomore went five furlongs in 1:01 3/5, fastest of 11 works at the distance.
"He started out behind two horses and went around them like they were nothing," Hollendorfer said Thursday morning at Del Mar. "He looked real good."
Shared Belief is being targeted for the Pacific Classic. Hollendorfer said he has not decided when he might bring the horse to Del Mar but probably will wait until a few days before the race.
Also of note working on Thursday at Del Mar was multiple Grade/Group 1 heroine Miss Serendipity, who clocked seven furlongs over the firm turf in 1:31. The Not for Sale six-year-old was last seen taking the Gamely at Santa Anita on May 26.
Chilean Horse of the Year and fellow Ron McAnally trainee Quick Casablanca went the same distance on the green in 1:28 3/5. The six-year-old bay captured the Last Tycoon at Santa Anita in late April before placing in his last two, the Charles Whittingham and San Juan Capistrano.
Magician under consideration for Arlington Million
If Magician joins the field, he will be part of a star-studded event that already likely includes defending champion Real Solution -- whom he soundly defeated at Santa Anita -- as well as Canadian Horse of the Year Up with the Birds, globetrotting Group 1-placed French horse Smoking Sun and last year's Secretariat Stakes winner Admiral Kitten.
Magician's three aforementioned owners have won a combined three prior editions of the Million. In 1997, Tabor's Marlin made all the running in a sharp victory for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. In 2005, Magnier's Powerscourt won the marquee Chicagoland event and she teamed with Tabor, Smith and Mrs. Fitriani Hay to decisively capture the meet centerpiece with Cape Blanco in 2011. Both Powerscourt and Cape Blanco were trained by O'Brien.
In other International Festival of Racing news, Caroline Forgason's four-time graded stakes winner Somali Lemonade, the 11-1 upsetter of the Diana Stakes last out at Saratoga, is now possible for the Beverly D. on August 16. The daughter of Lemon Drop Kid defeated five Grade 1 winners in the July 19 event - her third win of five 2014 starts.
"She's come out of the race well," trainer Michael Matz reported. "It's certainly a big possibility. We're not sure yet, but she is doing well right now. She has been a good horse since the beginning, but is probably in her best form now."
Somali Lemonade has always been highly regarded. As a two-year-old, she was the 4-1 second choice in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2011, which was coincidentally won by the filly she nosed out in the Diana, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's Stephanie's Kitten.
"My sister-in-law owns the horse and would like to go to the Breeders' Cup at the end of the season," Matz said. "Whether the Beverly D. works with those plans or not, I'm not sure, yet.
"You want to run her while she's doing well, but don't want to do too much," he continued. "But, she did come out of the race well and sometimes you wait and the horse gets hurt and you kick yourself for not going. At this point, this will be one of the major options. We'll look at the other aspects like what kind of travel arrangements there are and how she trains the next couple of weeks."
This year, Somali Lemonade has not only doubled her win total to six, but also has done so while showing impressive speed. After a good second in the Marshua's River at Gulfstream to kick off her season, she wired a good allowance at Keeneland and took the Galorette Handicap as the highweight at Pimlico on Preakness Day.
"This has been kind of a funny year," Matz explained. "We haven't really done anything different with her except put the blinkers on. It made me feel a little stupid for not doing it sooner. It was the first time she showed any kind of speed at all. Before, she would completely drop out of the race, but now she has done very well now showing more speed."
The bay mare could have a chance to show that pace again versus similar company. Stephanie's Kitten and Chad Brown-trained stablemate Alterite -- who finished off the board in the Diana (her first start since finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf) -- are also planning to run in the Beverly D. Alterite will try to become an unprecedented fourth winner of the Midwestern filly and mare turf centerpiece for owner Martin Schwartz, following Angara (2005), Gorella (2006) and Stacelita (2011).
Makari nips Demonstrative in Smithwick photo
Divine Fortune, the 158-pound highweight, stalked the pacesetter Pleasant Woodman in the early stages. Makari was reserved in the latter part of the field until the second circuit, when Doyle gave him the cue to improve his position, and he advanced into better than midpack.
But just as Makari was on the move, Divine Fortune was being driven along. Favorite backers had cause for concern as Divine Fortune was unable to maintain his spot on the final passage down the backstretch, and by the time the field rounded the last turn, he was wrapped up on and ultimately bowed off the course.
Meanwhile, Pleasant Woodman was besieged on both sides. Makari cruised up to the inside of the longtime leader, and Demonstrative rolled up on the outside. They engulfed Pleasant Woodman over the final flight and set down to an all-out battle in deep stretch.
Demonstrative, who was conceding Makari 12 pounds under his 154-pound impost, briefly appeared to have the slimmest of advantages. But Makari was up for the duel, and the two flashed past the wire together. The camera proved that Makari timed it to perfection to get his nose down first, completing the course on firm turf in 3:48 1/5.
"We had a perfect way around," Doyle said. "He traveled like a dream the whole way, never missed a beat. I actually didn't think I got there, another couple of strides and I would have. It was brilliant.
"This was my first Grade 1, my first winner in America as well," the rider added. "I've only been here a couple of weeks. I've had a few good winners at home, but never a Grade 1. It was brilliant to get that."
"This is my first graded win," Voss said. "It's exciting to have it be in Saratoga, a place we love so much.
"We can't take a lot of credit for this horse; we've only had him two weeks. My husband picked him out for his owners. He got off the plane, and he seemed pretty straightforward. It means so much. We took a chance and it worked out. The last jump always makes me nervous -- I thought we got the bob last week, and that we missed it this week."
The top two were in a race of their own in the concluding stages, drawing 7 1/4 lengths clear of Pleasant Woodman. All Together checked in fourth, followed by Staying On; Italian Wedding; Spy in the Sky; Wanganui, Voss' other runner; and Barnstorming.
Makari paid $11.60 to win and improved his scorecard to 15-7-3-1, $121,572. Bred by Longdon Stud in Great Britain, the son of Makbul sold for $154,430 as a four-year-old at DBS' Hennessy Sales at Newbury in November 2011. The auction came one week after he finished second in his debut at Haydock. He RNA'd for $79,049 at Doncaster in May.
Makari's dam, Seraphim, is a winning daughter of Lashkari from a solid German family. Maternal relatives include French Group 2 hero and Austrian co-champion Speedmaster; German classic victress Slenderella; German Group 1-winning highweight Solon; Group 2 scorers Soto-Grande and Scatina; and current three-year-old filly Savanne, successful in the June 1 Prix de Royaumont and most recently runner-up in the June 29 Prix de Malleret.
Voss indicated that Makari could return for the Spa's other Grade 1 steeplechase, the August 21 New York Turf Writers' Cup. Another victory there would be especially poignant, for the 2 3/8-mile event is being run in honor of her father.
Later on Thursday's card at Saratoga, Chevalier Stable's Sinistra surprised the $100,000 Evan Shipman as the 27-1 longest shot on the board. Stalking and pouncing late beneath Rosie Napravnik, the Karl Grusmark charge prevailed in a three-way scrum with 8-5 favorite Big Business and Escapefromreality.
Pacesetter Escapefromreality, who carved out fractions of :24 2/5, :49 4/5 and 1:14 2/5 on the muddy, sealed track, dug in valiantly when accosted by Big Business in the stretch. Sinistra watched them slug it out before arriving on the scene in the closing strides and forcing his head in front. He negotiated 1 1/8 miles in 1:51 4/5 and rewarded his loyalists with a $56 payout.
"We weren't considered to be a good choice by the public," Grusmark said, "but we knew this horse loved the mud and he loved the distance. We've never had a chance to run him a mile and an eighth. This was his first opportunity and he ran like we thought he would.
"He's just kind of a plodder. You get him in a good position early and he just kind of stays and wears horses down."
"We sat pretty close to the pace," Napravnik recapped, "and I think he's the type of horse where he doesn't have a huge kick but he'll keep grinding away, and he was sticking his neck out. Karl told me he was kind of one-paced. He just kept grinding away. He's a horse with a lot of heart."
Big Business subdued the stubborn Escapefromreality by a neck for second. Awesome Vision was a creditable fourth after a wide trip.
Sinistra had competed in only one prior stakes, just missing to future Suburban winner Zivo in the Kings Point back in February at Aqueduct. This first stakes score boosted his bankroll to $258,259 from his 22-4-6-3 line.
The Evan Shipman was also Grusmark's first career stakes win at the Spa.
"I've won races here through the years since the '70s and this is the first stake (I've won) at this track," the trainer said. "It's very exciting. Anytime you win a good race, it's very satisfying."
Lavender Road euthanized
Lavender Road, who was scratched prior to the running of Wednesday's 7TH race at Saratoga on the advice on the track veterinarian due to what was later identified as heat stroke, was euthanized early Thursday afternoon at Rood & Riddle Hospital in Saratoga after being diagnosed with a fracture in her neck.
The horse, owned by Kallenberg Farms and trained by Abigail Adsit, fractured a vertebra when she fell on the horse path returning from the track, according to Dr. Travis Tull, the attending physician.
"The filly was transported to Rood & Riddle Hospital adjacent to the racetrack," said Dr. Scott Palmer, the New York State Equine Medical Director and a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
"At the time of admission, she was examined by Dr. Tull and was treated throughout the afternoon and evening with fluids and medication to reduce swelling related to an acute, traumatic injury. Extensive diagnostic tests were performed and ultimately revealed a fracture of the seventh cervical vertebra (in her neck).
"Her owners and trainer were advised of the diagnosis, for which, tragically, there is no successful medical or surgical treatment. She was humanely euthanized."
Lavender Road was scratched from the race when jockey Junior Alvarado reportedly informed the veterinarians the three-year-old filly was making unusual noises during warm up. On the way back from the track she fell and hit her head. The dark bay miss regained her feet several times only to fall, and was eventually sedated and put on the horse ambulance.
Lavender Road, a daughter of First Defence, had one victory in six lifetime starts.
Brown: 'We decided to just take a shot' with Last Gunfighter in the Whitney
Since being turned over to trainer Chad Brown in the fall of 2012, Last Gunfighter has been a model of consistency with nine wins -- seven in stakes, four of them graded -- and one second from 13 starts.
A disappointing ninth in his most recent race, the Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park on July 5, the five-year-old son of First Samurai will look to rebound in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Whitney on Saturday at Saratoga.
Brown initially had considered the Whitney for Zivo, the New York-bred Suburban winner who is undefeated in five starts this year, but decided to enter Last Gunfighter when post positions were drawn on Wednesday.
"Zivo is going to wait for the (Grade 1, $600,000) Woodward (on August 30)," Brown explained. "Last Gunfighter, we decided to just take a shot. The owners want to run and I don't disagree with them. It's a lot of money and the horse has really shown up for us every race except for his last one. We're just going to draw a line through it. He had a little bit of a challenging trip and got a little discouraged, and (jockey) Javier (Castellano) just took care of him the last half of the race."
Last Gunfighter drew post 9 on the outside in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney, a "Win & You're In" Breeders' Cup Challenge race that earns the winner a fees-paid trip to the Breeders' Cup Classic. The John D. Gunther homebred has never run at Saratoga but is three-for-four lifetime at nine furlongs.
"He's been training really good, and I think he deserves a shot. Maybe he can grab a piece of it," Brown remarked. "He's a workmanlike horse and he normally shows up in any situation I ask him to. His last race was the only time he didn't. I have to give him a free pass one time. He's had two good breezes since the Suburban. It's a big purse, and why not take a shot in here? I don't see any other race for him that makes more sense. We'll run him and see what happens."
On the Whitney undercard, Brown will also send out two-time Grade 1 winner Big Blue Kitten for his season debut in the $100,000 Lure for four-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles over the Mellon Turf.
The six-year-old son of Kitten's Joy has not raced since finishing eighth in the Breeders' Cup Turf in November. Last summer, he won the United Nations at Monmouth Park and Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga in successive starts.
"The horse was quite sore after the Breeders' Cup, and he required a lot of time off, so we're getting him started later than we would like," Brown explained. "When I saw this race and I started to evaluate his fitness level, I don't think we can have this horse fit enough to run effectively at a mile and a half."
Each of Big Blue Kitten's last three races have been at 1 1/2 miles, the distance of the Grade 1, $500,000 Sword Dancer on August 17. His most recent race at 1 1/16 miles came in an optional claimer last May at Churchill Downs, which he won.
"I think the Sword Dancer is coming up a little soon for me," Brown maintained, "but to give him a race at a mile and a sixteenth might be a better option in the long run for this horse, just to get a race in him and see. If he's good enough to win, great; if he's not, it should set us up hopefully for something better the next time we run him."
Though ungraded, the Lure attracted a salty group of older turf horses. One of those looking to oppose Big Blue Kitten in the contest is the Greg DiPrima-trained Plainview.
"I think we fit well in (the Lure)," DiPrima said. "It's no secret, I think we'll be on the lead, and he looks like the lone speed. He's training great; we had a nice work the other day -- (four furlongs in) :48 and change, real easy."
DiPrima claimed Plainview on May 18, 2012, for $25,000 with modest ambitions -- he was merely hoping the son of Street Cry could advance through his non-winners-of-two and non-winners-of-three-lifetime conditions. The savvy DiPrima, who wins at a 15 percent clip with horses first off the claim in the past five years, never foresaw how good Plainview would become.
More than two years later, the bay gelding has won seven of 16 starts for the trainer and earned $435,091 in his career, the majority of which has come on the NYRA circuit.
Plainview -- owned by Jesse Iglesias and Michael Imperio -- has been a model of consistency in both his running style and finishes, hitting the board in 11 of those 16 starts. The six-year-old is a free-running type, often opening up a few lengths on his competition in the early stages of a race before bearing down for the stretch drive. Regardless of pace, track, or surface, the reliable gelding almost always has something left.
Plainview, who is undefeated for DiPrima at Saratoga, has shown no signs of slowing down. He began his year in the May 26 Poker, finishing fourth after uncharacteristically coming from off the pace, and rediscovered his front-running style to score by three-quarters of a length in a graded-caliber optional claimer on July 9, both at Belmont.
"We give him a little bit of a break over the winter," DiPrima explained. "He winters in Florida, so we send him to Ocala for four to six weeks to do nothing but be a horse. He really seems to relish the vacation; he's come back just as good."
Despite his extensive resume, one title has eluded Plainview in his career: graded stakes winner. DiPrima is hoping that will change before his star pupil's career is over.
"He tries so hard, we'd love to get him a graded stakes win. He deserves it," the trainer said.
Test has been the goal all along for Southern Honey
Having shown a steady progression through the spring, Grade 3 winner Southern Honey can take another step forward in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Test for three-year-old filly sprinters at Saratoga.
Trained by Rusty Arnold, the daughter of Colonel John has put together a three-race win streak capped by the Winning Colors against elders on May 26 at Churchill Downs.
Arnold had hoped to use the 6 1/2-furlong Victory Ride on June 29 at Belmont Park as a steppingstone to the Test but was forced to Plan B when Southern Honey got sick the week of the race.
"She got a temperature two days before the plane was leaving (Kentucky) and I couldn't ship her," Arnold explained. "We missed the Victory Ride, so we had no chance to go anywhere else. This race was the target for a long time. The Victory Ride was a target because I trained her and I wanted to win that race, but it just didn't happen.
"It bothers me a little bit that we're going into a race of this quality off nine weeks off, but that was the option I was left with. I didn't have a chance to do anything else. By the time she missed the Victory Ride, any other race would have put her too close to this race. It was all or nothing, and we think we've got her ready."
Southern Honey will carry regular rider Julien Leparoux and 118 pounds from post 5 of 12 in the Test, which will be her sixth career start. Second in her debut last fall at Churchill, she was fourth at Gulfstream Park during the winter before breaking her maiden on April 5 at Keeneland to kick off her streak.
"We've always liked her," Arnold said. "She got a shin when she ran at Churchill in November, and we got that taken care of. A lot of horses didn't handle Gulfstream. I don't know what the deal was; it wasn't just mine. She just didn't run well to what we expected. She came out of it fabulous, we moved to Keeneland and everything has gone exceptional since then. She's just gone right up the ladder."
Arnold added that Grade 1 queen Centre Court is being pointed to the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa sending turf distaffers 1 1/16 miles on August 23.
The five-year-old daughter of Smart Strike has had two works over the Saratoga turf course, including a bullet half-mile in :48 3/5 on July 25, the fastest of 40 horses.
"Centre Court is doing fabulous," Arnold stated. "She does great here every year. I think I've got her back right. She'll run in the Ballston Spa if the next three weeks go good."
Just $71,452 shy of reaching the $1 million mark in career earnings, Centre Court kicked off her 2014 campaign by winning the Honey Fox at Gulfstream, her second straight victory in that race and sixth in a graded stakes. She subsequently ran fifth in the April 12 Jenny Wiley by just three parts of a length and filled that same spot in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile on May 3.
"She hurt her foot in the race at Churchill pretty badly and had to probably get walked three weeks and it's taken her this long to get her back, but it looks great right now. Everything in the last month has been good, and we'll be ready by then if nothing bad happens," Arnold said.
Extortionist hopes to take down King George rivals
In the absence of sprinting's stars, Friday's Group 2, £100,000 King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood offers the opportunity for some of the category's lesser lights to shine, and Sheikh Suhaim Al Thani's Extortionist is one who could still be on the way up.
Last year's listed Windsor Castle Stakes winner comes into this drag race on the back of a career-best win in the July 5 Sandown Sprint Stakes over Friday's five-furlong trip, and trainer Olly Stevens is hoping for another red-letter day in the Dandy Man sophomore's fledgling career.
"He's in good form and this race was the natural progression for him, so we'll see how he goes," Stevens said. "Going into every race this year we've been mindful of the fact three-year-olds are up against it in the sprinting division, but he's done really well and the form of his last win at Sandown looks solid."
Last year's winner, Moviesta, has been off the board in all four subsequent starts, with valid excuses for at least two of those efforts, including when running on unsuitably easy ground when eighth in the July Cup at Newmarket last out on July 12.
"He's been a bit unlucky this year -- he's not had his right ground or he's had a little niggle," co-owner Ritchie Fiddes told PA Sport. "He ran a fantastic race at Newmarket, I thought, as he was only 95 percent fit. There's a bit more in his favor now, though -- he's working well and we all feel he's a better horse than when he won it last year.
"He bruised his foot just before (Royal) Ascot, which meant he couldn't run there and then forced him to miss a couple of weeks, which left him short for the July Cup," Fiddes continued. "Despite that, I think if the ground was good-to-firm he could have got in the money."
One who needs it to rain is Dean Ivory's Tropics (Speightstown), who excelled when second in the July Cup and who tries this trip for the first time.
"He's going there in great form, but I have to be honest and say the ground is a little bit of a concern," Ivory, who also trains Tropics, told PA Sport. "I'll walk the track in the morning and make a decision from there, but I don't want to set him alight on fast ground. He's coming back to five furlongs, which is a little bit of an unknown, but he seems to have bags of speed and he's a horse who can hit the front a little bit too early."
Kicking off Glorious Goodwood on Friday will be the Group 3, £60,000 Glorious. It is almost two years ago that Encke brought an end to the Triple Crown dream of Camelot in the St Leger at Doncaster, and with no run in the interim, the Glorious Stakes serves as a first step back on track for Godolphin's still-unexposed campaigner.
Also denied a short head by Noble Mission in that year's Gordon Stakes over Friday's course and 12-furlong, the Kingmambo bay's vital experience of this venue will be a major help.
We hope that Encke can show the same enthusiasm and level of ability that he displayed as a three-year-old," trainer Charlie Appleby said. "He is giving all the right signs at home, but you will never know for sure until he gets on to a racecourse. He is a big horse and, having been off the course for nearly two years, he can only improve on whatever he does on Friday. He is not 100 percent, but is fit enough to do himself justice."
Encke will be tested by the race-hardened performers Hillstar and Pether's Moon, who were second and third, respectively, behind Thursday's Goodwood Cup winner Cavalryman in the Princess of Wales's Stakes over this trip at Newmarket last out on July 10. The latter is another with course form, and Richard Hannon is hoping he can turn his fortunes around.
"He won here last year, but he has had an unlucky season and deserves to get his head back in front," Hannon remarked. "He has only a neck to find with Hillstar on their running in the Princess of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket, and but for being switched at a crucial stage our fellow might well have won, so we have to go there hopeful. He'll love this fast ground."
Hannon will also send out Shifting Power Friday in the Group 3, £60,000 Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood. Placed twice at Group 1 level, the sophomore drops down in a bid to return to his winning ways.
Unbeaten prior to his fourth in the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket on May 3, the Compton Place bay was second in the Irish equivalent at The Curragh three weeks later and third, before being promoted to second, in Chantilly's Prix Jean Prat on July 14.
"Victory here would do wonders for his confidence," Hannon said. "He is a big horse who has enjoyed a bit of cut in his last two races, but he handled the faster ground OK when running a blinder in our Guineas, so, hopefully, the going won't be a problem."
Another with Guineas form is Lightning Thunder, who was runner-up in both the English and Irish mile classics before running below-par when ninth in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 20.
Godolphin supplies an unknown quantity in Rapprochement, who scored by 11 lengths in a Newmarket maiden over Friday's eight-furlong trip in his July 18 debut.
J Wonder takes to Glorious Goodwood on Friday as she bids to get back on track in the Group 3, £60,000 Oak Tree Stakes. After winning the April 12 Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury over Friday's seven-furlong trip, Andrew Rosen's Footstepsinthesand bay looked to fail for stamina late on over a mile in both the May 11 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches at Longchamp and June 20 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.
"Her two subsequent performances in two very high-class Group 1 mile events suggests she should have a very good chance on her return to a Group 3," trainer Brian Meehan said of the full sister to this race's 2011 winner, Chachamaidee, who carries a three-pound penalty. "We have been very pleased with her in her build up, but she could have enjoyed better luck with her (widest) draw."
Another sophomore with potential is Newsells Park Stud's listed Eternal Stakes scorer Evita Peron, whose convincing success in that June 28 Newmarket contest came over this trip, but who has contrasting ground conditions to contend with here, having proven adept on a testing surface on that occasion.
Unbeaten and tough, Muteela was taken out of her target at Newmarket's July meeting after the ground went against her. In the listed Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot last out on June 18, the Dansili homebred had Queen Catrine and Wee Jean a short head and a half-length behind, respectively, and is worse off by seven pounds with the runner-up here.
Melbourne Cup in the cards for Cavalryman following Goodwood Cup win
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor has his sights set on the Melbourne Cup after Cavalryman led home a 1-2 for the stable when finishing a neck in front of Ahzeemah in Thursday's Group 2, £120,000 Goodwood Cup on the third day of the Glorious Goodwood meeting.
"Cavalryman is a good fighter," praised bin Suroor, who earned his 72nd Goodwood winner and 20th at Glorious Goodwood. "He won over two miles in Dubai on firmer ground and also he won last time over a mile and a half at Newmarket on the soft. He runs on any ground and is doing really well. He improves with age.
"He is very easy to train, very simple. Whatever you ask of him in the morning, he does it really well. When he work over seven furlongs or a mile, he doesn't show you a lot because he is a stayer. I think a mile and a six furlongs or two miles is the best trip for him."
Jockey Kieren Fallon and Cavalryman looked set to win decisively approaching the final furlong but Ahzeemah stayed on stoutly from the chasing pack under Harry Bentley to be beaten only a neck. Brown Panther was 4 1/2 lengths farther back in third.
"I said to Kieren (Fallon) to keep the horse where he is happy but the best way, like when he ran and won in Dubai, is to come from behind. He is a tough horse and always runs well," bin Suroor commented.
Fallon was celebrating his first Goodwood Cup and his 40th winner at Glorious Good with Cavalryman
"Cavalryman is a real, tough horse," the reinsman agreed. "He was campaigned during the Carnival successfully in Dubai all winter and he has come here and won a Goodwood Cup, which is a very difficult race to win. This horse has just gone from strength to strength.
"This horse, when he hit the front, thought that he had done enough. I thought I was clear and I didn't realize we had another horse coming but he had enough done.
"It's a great race, a great meeting and it's great to be in the winner's enclosure."
Cavalryman was a Group 1 winner during his sophomore campaign and adds the Goodwood Cup to wins in the Princess of Wales's Stakes and Nad al Sheba Trophy this season. The eight-year-old son of Halling's only loss from four starts this year came as a second in the Dubai Gold Cup.
"He has shown some turn of foot and now we will take him to York for the Lonsdale and then, for the end of the season, we will talk to Shiekh Mohammed but it could be the Melbourne Cup," bin Suroor said. "Ahzeemah could be another option for the Melbourne Cup and I would like to take three horses down to Australia. For Australia you need to have a horse with class and speed.
"Two miles is his best trip and he won well last time over and a mile and a half on soft ground."
"It would depend what weight he got for him to go for the Melbourne Cup," Fallon said of Cavalryman running on the first Tuesday in November. "All our good horses that go over there get killed by the handicapper and the best Australian best horses get in light. The race is framed to suit their horses.
"I rode in the Melbourne Cup once and was seventh on Yeats, who went there with every chance. I thought I could win it but he was another horse who was given too much weight. It's a very difficult race to ride because it is a massive field and everybody wants the same position.
"It's very rough for the first half-mile until they stretch out and then they seem to take their time. They pull it up all the way down the back and then the Australian horses seem to have a better turn of foot."
"(Cavalryman) would be suited by it because he has got the speed and he stays but my concern would be the weight as he is an exposed eight-year-old."
Bentley came close to riding a major winner -- and first at Glorious Goodwood -- when driving Ahzeemah into a close second in the Goodwood Cup behind fellow Godolphin silkbearer Cavalryman.
"Ahzeemah could also go to Australia," bin Suroor said. "He needed his first race then he didn't stay two and a half miles last time -- I think two miles is his best trip as well."
Bentley, whose services have been called upon by Godolphin on a number of occasions this season, has ridden three winners at Goodwood, but none at the feature meeting.
"It's disappointing to be touched off by such a short margin, but he's run a great race -- he did nothing wrong," Bentley said after unsaddling his mount, who was finishing second in the Goodwood Cup for the second year running. "I knew he would stay, but he just keeps galloping all the way to the line. He's a hardy old thing. At one stage I thought I would get there, and the winner was always coming back to me, so it was frustrating not to get there."
Goodwood Cup 2-1 favorite Estimate, a mare owned by The Queen, finished last of the eight runners. She was not only popular in the ring, but also with her rival Brown Panther, who finished third.
"Every time I got in behind Estimate he latched on to her -- I couldn't get him to truly settle and he was using a little too much gas," explained Richard Kingscote, who rode Brown Panther. "It was frustrating because it was a messy race and they got racing a long way out, but we were beaten fair and square.
"He let himself down on the ground so I'm not using that as an excuse."
Brown Panther may head for the Irish St Leger in September after failing to defend his Goodwood Cup crown. Trainer Tom Dascombe was clearly disappointed with his six-year-old charge's third successive placing, after his fourth in the Ascot Gold Cup and second in the Prix Maurice de Nieuil.
"He ran a bit free, never really settled," Dascombe said. "Richard (Kingscote) said he was being pestered all the way round. He seems as good as ever but he's the sort that needs everything to go right and it's a bit frustrating to keep hitting the bar. But that's racing, I suppose."
Brown Panther finished a close third, beaten a head and a short-head, in the Irish St Leger two years ago.
The course was set to be watered after racing on Thursday following another dry day.
"The ground rode as advertised, it was good, fast Flat-racing ground after we watered extensively last night," said Seamus Buckley, Goodwood's clerk of the course. "Most of the jockeys were of the opinion that the watering that was carried out had certainly eased the ground.
"And I must pay tribute to the groundstaff who worked a solid 12 hours to get some water back on the course before it dried out during racing today.
"Our plan for watering this evening will be similar to last night but with a lesser amount of water. We want to get some water on the lower bend, top bend and down the straight but we won't be putting as much on as we did last night. We'll begin watering about 7 p.m. and the groundstaff will be working in 8-10 hour shifts.
"I feel we need to retain some water in the ground in light of the rain that may materialize on Friday evening. I want moisture in the ground so that we don't get rain lying on top of firm ground.
"There's a possibility of a bit of rain on Friday night going into Saturday morning. There's a chance of four to five millimeters on Saturday. We'll review the situation again tomorrow.
"The dolled-out rail on the lower bend (from the six-furlong to the three-furlong marker) will be taken down after racing and there will be fresh ground for the Betfred Mile tomorrow."
Missunited retired after pulling up lame from gutsy Lillie Langtry score
Missunited, the star of trainer Michael Winters' small Co. Cork stable, was flat to the boards at the finish of the Group 3, £60,000 Lillie Langtry Stakes on Thursday at Glorious Goodwood, but repelled all comers to beat Arabian Comet and Waila by a half-length and a head, with Talent close behind in fourth.
However, the seven-year-old daughter of Golan paid dearly for her heroic effort. Jockey Jim Crowley dismounted after pulling up and Missunited walked away feelingly.
"In fairness, absolutely no," Winters asserted when asked if there was a tougher, braver horse in training than Missunited.
"She owes us nothing," he added. "She's one of a lifetime, and every day's a day with her, and it's great to be able to share her with everyone. She's treated everyone on the National Hunt scene and it's great for her to do the same for the Flat people.
"But we look at life in a broader sense and when you think of what goes on in the world, the lads in Iraq and places getting shot, we're just happy to enjoy these good days and thank God for them.
"As for today, I have to say I was a bit worried when I saw her using her knee action high going to the start. She was galloping as fast as she could the whole way but she has the heart of a lion and that's what saw her through. I hope that she will be fine after this but if there is anything wrong with her, she won't be asked to go again."
Missunited didn't enter the winner's enclosure after the race, instead heading straight to the stables for veterinary attention. She was reported to have strained a suspensory ligament and was immediately retired.
Owned and bred by Dan and Vanessa Hutch, neighbors of Winters, Missunited will retire to their farm in Co. Cork. a winner of 12 races on the Flat and under NH rules, including the Galway Plate, one of Ireland's most famous handicap hurdles, a year to the day before her Goodwood victory.
She could hardly have ended her career more gloriously. In her previous run, the dark bay led the Ascot Gold Cup field until inside the final furlong, with only Leading Light and Estimate able to get past her.
Crowley joined in wide approval of Missunited after she bravely clung on for victory.
"I've never ridden a gamer horse in my life and doubt that I ever will. She is unbelievably tough," he said, clearly affected by the mare's gutsy display. "She wasn't loving the ground, but every time another horse came to her she kept trying. I kept pulling her into the other horse, keeping her interested and she has battled so well. She was never going to be passed."
Crowley said he was given no indication that she might be feeling sore during the race.
"She was getting tired, and it was only when I eased up after the line that I felt she was wrong. The ground is plenty quick enough, but she tried so hard," he explained. "She's a very unique horse, and that run in the Gold Cup proves how good she is."
The Stewards held an enquiry into Crowley's use of the whip from approaching two furlongs out. Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race, they found that he had used his whip above the permitted level and suspended him for two days (August 14-15).
Connections of Arabian Comet and Waila were thrilled after their fillies came home second and third, respectively. Arabian Comet, trained by William Haggas, was coming in on the back of a 12-furlong handicap success at Ascot on July 11. The three-year-old is proving versatile, having also captured a mile handicap at Carlisle on June 2.
"It was another good effort from Arabian Comet," Haggas said. "She was stepping up in trip (to 14 furlongs) again but I think any trip is fine for her. Joe (Fanning, jockey) said she would probably get further as well.
"She is a very genuine filly and the aim now is to make her a stakes winner. I think we will look at Galtres Stakes at York next."
Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of Waila, added, "We were pleased with Waila. She has now been placed in a group race, which is good to get. I haven't got any plans for her because she is ground dependant. She needs fast ground."
Hannon triumphs at Glorious Goodwood with Ivawood in Richmond
Trainer Richard Hannon, long associated with countless Glorious Goodwood winners conditioned by his father, Richard Hannon Sr., gained his first success at the meeting on Thursday.
"This is a happier occasion, but the other horses have run well and we were very proud of Toronado yesterday (when second in the Sussex Stakes)," Hannon said, reflecting on two luckless days at this meeting, and his first Glorious Goodwood victory. "I'm a very lucky man and have nothing to be sad about. I'm delighted to have a first Glorious Goodwood win and hope it's the first of many -- you never know, I may have another one this afternoon."
Hannon gained his own license when his father retired at the turn of the year, and was expected to follow in his father's glorious footsteps this week -- but he suffered eight places during the first two days and seemed hopelessly out of luck. Ivawood came to the rescue on Thursday, however, when winning the Group 2, £80,000 Richmond Stakes.
"Physically he looks streets ahead of a lot of two-year-olds, and I don't think he will become 'just a two-year-old,'" Hannon said. "We will probably keep him at six furlongs, although seven is an option and he looks a Guineas horse until proving otherwise.
"We don't need to do a lot with him -- he's fit now and all we have to do is keep the ball rolling until the Prix Morny, or Middle Park or Dewhurst Stakes -- or wherever we go. We'll let the dust settle, but he will now go for a Group 1, whether at six or seven furlongs. The Morny comes a little soon."
Not only was it the first win for Hannon, it was also champion jockey Richard Hughes' first winner of Glorious Goodwood 2014. Hughes had hit the crossbar with four seconds and a third over the last two days but made no mistake on Ivawood, who made all under a three-pound penalty to score by 4 1/2 in 1:10.09.
"Ivawood is very good. He's a big, powerful horse, he's fast and stays well -- he's got everything really," said Hughes, notching his 51st Glorious Goodwood winner and 160th in all at the course. "I thought he coped with the ground at Newmarket last time but he loved it today. He went down like a bird on it and traveled ever so easily.
"He looks like Toronado and is made like him. I think that he is ahead of the other two-year-olds at the moment because he is so powerful. He's quite a fast horse, he's a lot faster than Toronado was at this stage.
"It took a while to get a winner but at least the horses are running well," he added. "I felt that the only one that should have won was Beacon, and that was my fault, and the rest are all running big, competitive races."
Now unbeaten in three races, Ivawood was given quotes for next year's Two Thousand Guineas of 8-1 by Paddy Power and William Hill, and 10-1 by Betfred. The colt is by Hannon Sr. trainee Zebedee, an outstanding two-year-old who was retired to stud after his juvenile season.
"His dad won the Molecomb Stakes at this meeting over five furlongs, but this horse is different from his dad," Hannon explained. "Physically he is very different -- at two his dad wasn't very big and was much sharper. This horse has loads of speed, but has a lot more scope than Zebedee had.
"I would say he is one of the best two-year-olds we have -- I don't like to say he is the best, but he is up there. He's very sound and will have one or two more races this year."
Louie de Palma came home in second under Adam Kirby with a neck back to Coventry Stakes third Jungle Cat. Trainer Clive Cox was absolutely delighted with Louie de Palma's runner-up effort in his first step up to group company after winning a nursery at Ascot earlier in the month.
"Normally I wouldn't be happy with second, as second is first loser," Cox admitted. "But this time we're over the moon. He came out of Ascot really well but this was a big step up and he's taken it against a horse (Ivawood) who is more than a bit special.
"He is improving, he has a lot of scope and another furlong will be no problem. Today was the plan so far - we wanted to see if he was up to this sort of company. Now he's proved he is we can start to think of where we might go next."
Thursday attendance at Glorious Goodwood on Ladies' Day came to 23,524, which is the highest seen on the day since at least the turn of the century. That number was probably helped by the appearance of actor Tom Cruise, who presented the prized following The Magnolia Cup, the meeting's charity race for lady riders.
Cruise obligingly became the must-have "selfie" when attempting to exit the presentation, at which he had given the winner's trophy to model Edie Campbell, who piloted the Ian Williams-trained See the Storm. The horse was winning a ladies' race for the second time in five days having triumphed in Ascot's Longines Handicap on Saturday.
Campbell, this year's Goodwood race ambassador, had won The Magnolia Cup in 2011 and been fourth in 2012. She and the other eight who took part were raising money for The Reading Agency, which is dedicated to aiding reading and literacy skills, and Best Beginnings, which breaks down inequalities in child health.
See The Storm won pulling clear, and model Campbell said:
"Moving the finishing post (forward half a furlong to give riders more time to pull up) definitely helped and gave us more time -- and if there hadn't been a rail at the end of the pull-up I would have been in the next county!" Campbell said.
"I've been riding out at Ian Williams for a couple of months and I was so grateful to him and the horse's owners for allowing me to ride. I watched a recording of (See the Storm) at Ascot and that gave me confidence knowing he wanted to win. I was more nervous than ever this year, because you know it's frightening and scary, and you put a lot of work in to get here.
"Raising money for The Reading Agency means a lot - it's one of my favorite charities," she added.
"Edie's put a lot of hard work and many early mornings into it," Williams praised. "She was in every time she was due to ride first lot and has really put in a lot of effort. He ran so well in the ladies' race at Ascot on Saturday and it seemed perfect to come here."
Event-rider Tina Cook, second on Better Balance, said, "I absolutely loved it. He is a lovely horse and a real gentleman. He was fantastic going down to the start and we just kept picking them up through the race. We were never really going to catch Edie unfortunately, but it was a great thrill. It's completely different to eventing and I had never ridden a Flat horse before over five or six furlongs, so it was a whole new experience."
Ireland's Maggie Buggie had a challenge in getting Harrods Extra Mile to the start -- he dug his toes in and she had to dismount and jog to the start -- but finished third.
"It was absolutely fantastic and he was a wonderful horse. He did brilliantly considering he lost two front shoes during the race," Buggie remarked. "I did a race like this last year and came fifth, and that started the addiction -- now I want gold! It's not every day you ride at the most beautiful racecourse in the world, and the best part was that we raised a lot of money for two wonderful charities."
Mum-of-three Laura Redvers finished unplaced on Bellevue Beauty, but enjoyed the thrill.
"It was the most incredible experience," she said. "The noise and the crowds were amazing, and while the horse was not so keen to play he was a lovely ride all the same. My husband, David, put me in for this, but I said 'yes' straight away. My children were rather worried when they heard, and hugged me like they were never going to see me again!"
Seven to line up in Nassau
Saturday's Group 1 Nassau Stakes on the fifth and final day of Glorious Goodwood is the mid-summer highlight for Europe's leading fillies and mares. Run over nearly 10 furlongs, the £200,000 contest boasts an outstanding roll of honor with star performers such as The Fugue, Midday and Ouija Board all scoring since the turn of the century.
This year's renewal will see a field of seven go to post, all of whom will be chasing a first Group 1 success. Sir Michael Stoute is the most successful current trainer with seven triumphs and will be represented by Mango Diva, who was last seen out when taking the Kilboy Estate Stakes at the Curragh on July 20.
Ireland's champion trainer Aidan O'Brien, who recorded back-to-back successes with Peeping Fawn (2007) and Halfway to Heaven (2008), is relying on last year's Irish Oaks runner-up Venus de Milo. The Duke of Marmalade four-year-old comes in on the back of a second to Thistle Bird in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on June 29.
John Gosden has established a £500,000 lead in the trainers' championship and is seeking a hat-trick in the Nassau, following on from Winsili (2013) and The Fugue (2012), with the lightly-raced pair of Group 3 heroine and Lancashire Oaks runner-up Sultanina, and Newbury listed scorer Eastern Belle.
International interest comes in the shape of the Aga Khan-owned Narniyn, representing leading French handler Alain de Royer-Dupre. The four-year-old recorded four consecutive victories between 10 and 11 furlongs, including two successes at Group 3 level, before coming home fourth in her first start against Group 1 company in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud going 12 furlongs on June 29.
Completing the line-up is the Ed Dunlop-conditioned course scorer Amazing Maria and the Richard Hannon-trained Lustrous. Amazing Maria captured a maiden and the Prestige Stakes at Goodwood last season, while Lustrous was second in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot but only seventh in the Irish Oaks last out.
"Lustrous has plenty on her plate in the Nassau Stakes," Hannon reported on his website. "She ran as well as we could have hoped in the Irish Oaks -- she split the Epsom Oaks runner-up (Tarfasha) and Irish One Thousand Guineas winner (Marvellous)."
Bullsbay's first winner comes at Saratoga
Bullsbay, who scored his signature win in the 2009 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, celebrated a fitting first winner when Gary Barber's Bullheaded Boy captured his debut at the Spa. Hammered into 3-5 favoritism in Thursday's 6TH race, the Todd Pletcher juvenile chased the pace for John Velazquez before asserting by a half-length. Bullheaded Boy finished the six-furlong maiden special weight for New York-breds in :58 3/5 on the sloppy track.
Bred by Zeke Kobak and Danny Bramer, the dark bay colt has toured three auction rings so far. Bullheaded Boy RNA'd for $9,500 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky February yearling, sold for $40,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred Sale at Saratoga last August, and finally just commanded $115,000 at OBS in June. Justin Casse was the successful pinhooker. The two-year-old is the first registered foal of the Pulpit mare Sister Dyer, and his second dam is Grade 2 winner Belterra.
Bullsbay was a progressive type in Southern California for Eric Kruljac. A track record-setter at Del Mar in 2008, covering a Polytrack mile in 1:36.23, he later joined Graham Motion.
The son of Tiznow reached his peak at five in 2009, with victories in the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial at Laurel and the Alysheba at Churchill Downs leading up to his career high in the Whitney. Bullsbay placed in four stakes over the course of his career, most notably when third to Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the Woodward, and he retired with a record of 25-7-6-2, $923,245.
Bullsbay is out of the multiple stakes-placed Lord Carson mare The Hess Express, making him a half-brother to three stakes winners -- Grade 3 heroine Our Khrysty, Hidden Expression and Vegas No Show, who was also Grade 2-placed. This is the family of Grade 1-winning millionaire Grecian Flight.
The 10-year-old Bullsbay stands at Northview Stallions' Pennsylvania division near Peach Bottom for $3,000, stands and nurses.
Concord Point hits the mark with first winner
Grade 2 hero Concord Point was represented by his first winner as a sire on Thursday when King Star's Sizzling Quatorze crushed the 5TH race at Delaware Park. After arguing through the opening quarter, the Juan Vazquez pupil spurted clear and extended his margin to 7 3/4 lengths at the wire. Carlos Gutierrez guided the 2-1 chance through six furlongs in 1:11 1/5.
Sizzling Quatorze is now the fifth runner, and winner, produced by the winning Louis Quatorze mare Hope's Diamond. Bred by Ernest C. Frohboese in Kentucky, the bay colt sold for $32,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. His current connections purchased him for $10,000 at OBS in April, and he was in for a $20,000 tag here.
Concord Point immediately got off the mark for trainer Bob Baffert, taking his debut by 1 1/4 lengths as a juvenile at Santa Anita on December 26, 2009. The gray ran fourth in his sophomore bow at that track against optional claiming rivals before capturing an allowance in April by 1 1/4 lengths.
The son of Tapit made his stakes and Hollywood Park bow in the Lazaro Barrera Memorial and just missed when second by a half-length in that Grade 3 contest. Next out, he romped by 8 1/2 lengths in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby, setting a new track record at Prairie Meadows when finishing that 1 1/16-mile affair in 1:40.37.
Concord Point went on to score a length win in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby and was under consideration for the upcoming Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. However, an ankle problem flared up and the Kentucky-bred was retired, heading to the breeding shed with a 6-4-1-0 mark and $669,260 in career earnings.
Concord Point was bred by Lee McMillin and Ed Rudley, and made his first start for Oxbow Racing and Peter R. Bradley III before being purchased and campaigned by Kaleem Shah for the remainder of his career.
He is out of the winning Boston Harbor mare Harve de Grace, not to be confused with 2011 Horse of the Year and champion older female Havre de Grace. Concord Point's dam never actually competed in any stakes, but some of her half-siblings did including multiple Grade 3 heroine Tasha's Miracle, Grade 2-placed Deb's Charm and stakes-placed Early Vintage (dam of current multiple stakes winner Conquest Top Gun). His third dam is multiple Grade 3 queen A Penny is a Penny.
Concord Point retired to stud at Hill 'n' Dale Farms near Lexington, Kentucky, for a fee of $7,500 in 2011, with nothing changed for the 2014 breeding season.
Palace Malice faces stern test in nine-horse Whitney
"He really is (an iron horse)," Pletcher said of Palace Malice, who made 10 starts last year. "He's an uncomplicated horse. He's hearty, he stays in the feed tub, you can train him however you want. I think he actually thrives on action."
Palace Malice returned to the races this year with a hard-fought head decision in the March 8 Gulfstream Park H. and has performed spectacularly since then, registering a 113 BRIS Speed rating for his 4 3/4-length triumph in the New Orleans H. prior to a 9 3/4-length romp in the Westchester. The bay Kentucky-bred squared off against an all-star field at the tricky one-mile distance last time in the Metropolitan H. and showed his class in the final furlongs, driving to a one-length win over Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile hero Goldencents.
"I hate to have an upset stomach this early in the morning," Lukas said about drawing the rail. "Not good. I never really have much luck on the rail in any big race, not really in (a race) of this magnitude."
Will Take Charge is the early 4-1 second choice and shares 124-pound highweight duties with Palace Malice.
Itsmyluckyday will enter the Whiney on the upswing for conditioner Eddie Plesa Jr. Runner-up in last year's Preakness, the Lawyer Ron colt has reeled off three convincing stakes wins since returning from a nine-month layoff earlier this year with a fourth in the Gulfstream Park H., most recently posting a sharp 1 1/2-length tally in the July 6 Salvator Mile. He was flattered when the runner-up and third-place finishers, Bradester and Valid, came back to run one-two in reverse order in last Sunday's Monmouth Cup, and Itsmyluckyday earned his top Speed rating of the year last time (103).
"It's almost the same training pattern as he did last year for the West Virginia Derby," Stall said of the gelding's preparations. "He flourished and won that race by almost 10 lengths. He's going to step into a tougher race than the West Virginia Derby. He seems to thrive up here, even though he has never run over the racetrack. We sure love the way he gets over it.
"We think he's a Grade 1 type of horse. The Stephen Foster was his second race in 8 1/2 months and his first race around two turns (this year). He went from just an allowance race into that race. I think he acquitted himself quite well. He had the lead between calls in the stretch, and he got a little heavy right there toward the end. It did knock him down, but I think it built him up a little bit. I think he's ready for a big race in his third off the layoff."
Moreno, who finished a nose second in last year's Travers, brings plenty of speed to the Whitney equation from post 2. The Ghostzapper gelding exits an encouraging effort for trainer Eric Guillot, finishing second in the July 5 Suburban, and will keep Junior Alvarado in the saddle. Moreno has been installed as the 10-1 co-fourth choice.
Romansh, winner of last year's Curlin at Saratoga via disqualification, is also 10-1 on the morning line. The Tom Albertrani trainee captured the Excelsior at Aqueduct earlier this season and recorded a good third to Palace Malice in the Met Mile two starts back. The four-year-old son of Bernardini will look to make amends for a fifth as the favorite in the Suburban last time.
Grade 2 hero Last Gunfighter, a seven-time stakes winner for Chad Brown, drew the far outside post with leading rider Javier Castellano and comes next on the morning line at 15-1. Rounding out the field at 20-1 are Golden Ticket, who dead-heated for the win in the 2012 Travers; and Suburban third-placer Prayer for Relief.
Competitive dozen line up for Test
Sweet Reason is another who's garnered a fair amount of attention, capturing the one-mile Acorn on June 7, and will cut back to seven furlongs for the first time on Saturday since a 5 3/4-length romp in last September's Spinaway over a sloppy, sealed Saratoga track. The Leah Gyarmati pupil is actually two-for-two at the Spa, having broken her maiden debut by 6 1/4 lengths on a similar sloppy surface before going on to be second in Belmont's Frizette and fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
The bay daughter of Street Sense began her sophomore campaign with a win against optional claiming rivals on March 7 at Aqueduct and has competed just twice more, running third in the Gazelle and scoring in the Acorn.
Sweet Whiskey has placed in her other three starts this year, including the Beaumont at Keeneland, and keeps jockey John Velazquez aboard as she seeks to the turn the tables on a number entered in the Test.
Princess Violet could rebound in this spot after a well-beaten second in the 1 1/16-mile Mother Goose last out. The bay daughter of Officer romped in her prior two starts sprinting against state-bred foes, earning a 99 BRIS Speed rating in one of those, and keeps Jose Ortiz in the pilot's seat. Thank You Marylou could also benefit from a cut back in distance after facing top quality rivals at route distances. The Mike Maker trainee was an easy winner of the seven-furlong Any Limit in her season opener and gets Rajiv Maragh in the saddle for the first time here.
Bird Maker was well-beaten in her last try against graded rivals, but that came in the 1 1/8-mile Gazelle and the Ian Wilkes filly has since captured a six-furlong optional claimer under the Twin Spires by 11 lengths. She's not competed since that May 25 race but has been working at Saratoga since July 9. Tea Time and unbeaten Little Alexis both enter the Test off stakes wins and own comparable numbers to the field's best on Saturday, while Red Velvet completes the Test off a fourth in the Victory Ride.
Happy hoping to have it his way in Alfred G. Vanderbilt
"It was a good performance for his first start off the layoff, and it should have him a lot tighter for this one," said trainer Chad Brown.
The other, Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship hero Falling Sky, is cross-entered Saturday to a stakes at Mountaineer.
A fast, contested pace would help a number of contenders. Bahamian Squall, runner-up in the 2013 Vanderbilt following a score in the Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder, recently returned from a seventh-month layoff. Third in the $90,000 Housebuster at Gulfstream on July 5, the David Fawkes charge figures to be much sharper second time off the bench.
Palace, who counts wins in the True North Handicap and Fall Highweight Handicap, is another threat from mid-pack. He enters off a distant second-place finish in the seven-furlong Belmont Sprint Championship to Clearly Now, who finished up seven furlongs in a blistering 1:19 4/5.
Capo Bastone upset the course-and-distance King's Bishop at odds of 28-1 last August, but the Todd Pletcher trainee has done little of note since. Lemon Drop Dream, winner of the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn, was second to Happy My Way at Pimlico but only fifth in a grass stakes at Evangeline Downs last time. Vyjack, a dual graded stakes winner around two turns as a three-year-old, shortens up after being eased in the 1 1/4-mile Suburban Handicap on July 5.
Big Blue Kitten, who notched Grade 1 scores last season in the United Nations at Monmouth and Sword Dancer at Saratoga, headlines the $100,000 Lure over 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf. Subsequently second by a nose in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, Big Blue Kitten has not been out since finishing a sub-par eighth in the Breeders' Cup Turf in November.
Restricted to horses that have not won a graded stakes in 2014, the Lure has also attracted the Grade 3 turf winners Swift Warrior and Rogue Romance; 2013 Bernard Baruch runner-up Paris Vegas; 2013 Knickerbocker runner-up Plainview; and the capable New York-bred performer Kharafa.
Among those entered for the main track only is Alpha, dead-heat winner of the 2012 Travers and outright victor of the 2013 Woodward.
Baffert, Hollendorfer, Sadler runners comprise Hirsch field
Iotapa will be making her Del Mar debut in this spot under jockey Joe Talamo. The Afleet Alex four-year-old has been unplaced just once in her 11-race career, with that coming two back on May 3 at Churchill Downs in the Humana Distaff. She's also scored in the Santa Maria and placed in the Santa Margarita and Santa Monica this season.
More Chocolate, who will be making her seasonal bow on Saturday, hasn't visited the winner's circle since taking the 2013 La Canada. Since then the Malibu Moon mare has run second in the Santa Margarita, Vanity Handicap and this contest last August, all Grade 1 contests. She was last finishing seventh in the Goldikova in November and gets a rider switch to Victor Espinoza.
Legacy is the lesser of the Sadler entrants and will be making just her fourth start against stakes foes in this spot. The Sightseeing four-year-old was a well-beaten second in the Santa Lucia and sixth in the Adoration at Santa Anita over the spring, but enters Saturday's contest off a nose victory in the July 6 Cypress at Los Alamitos.
Broken Sword hasn't raced since a fifth in her seasonal bow, the January 19 La Canada, but has recorded three straight bullet works recently, including a half-mile in a best-of-60 :46 1/5 at Del Mar on Monday.
Candy Boy hoping to make his own mark in WV Derby
It will not be an easy task. Tapiture has three graded stakes wins to his credit, including a 4 1 /4-length tally in the Southwest at Oaklawn in February. Last time, the Tapit colt rebounded from a poor showing in the Kentucky Derby to claim the Matt Winn at Churchill Downs by two lengths.
Vicar's in Trouble, the Louisiana Derby winner, could be the most dangerous of the three. The Mike Maker trainee did not show his customary foot as the 7-5 favorite in the Iowa Derby last out, and ultimately faded to third over a sloppy track. If able to outbreak the other speed, which have less class, Vicar's in Trouble could replicate the form that produced two graded stakes wins at Fair Grounds last winter.
The big three all raced in the Kentucky Derby, though none were much of a factor. Candy Boy finished 13th and Tapiture 15th after meeting trouble in the first turn, while Vicar's in Trouble also was roughed up en route to trailing the field of 19.
Likely to keep the ex-claimer on his toes is multiple Grade 3 winner Falling Sky, who stretches back out after taking the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship and Donald LeVine Memorial in two of his last four starts.
A swift pace might aid Carve, last-out winner of the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap, and the classic-placed Mylute, unplaced twice behind Moonshine Mullin at Churchill Downs and in the Suburban Handicap last time.
Noted sprint star Delaunay figures to be an overwhelming favorite in the $100,000 Senator Robert C. Byrd Memorial over six furlongs. The Tom Amoss-trained seven-year-old has won numerous stakes throughout the Midwest and Louisiana, highlighted by graded scores in the Churchill Downs and Aristides in Louisville.
The $100,000 West Virginia House of Delegates, at one mile and 70 yards on turf, features Regally Ready, a past winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint who has developed into a capable miler in the region. He earned back-to-back wins at Churchill Downs in May, including the $64,000 Opening Verse.
Free World, hero of the $207,000 Centaur at Indiana Downs last season, was a solid fifth in the Firecracker at Churchill last time and might prove tough to catch. Coalport, a multiple stakes winner campaigned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, is another leading contender in his second start off a layoff.
The top two finishers from Mountaineer's version of the Firecracker, a $75,000 stakes for fillies and mares run on July 2, highlight a contentious renewal of the $100,000 West Virginia Senate President's Cup at one mile and 70 yards on the turf. La Malaguena and Sassy Kitten were separated by a neck in that heat, but will need their running shoes on to cope with graded stakes-placed veterans Moment in Dixie and Queen's Award, as well as Canadian invader Surtsey and the capable pair of Quiet Success and Soft Whisper.
Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan (Wiseman's Ferry) will not return to action in the August 9 Fourstardave H. (G2) at Saratoga, Claire Novak of Blood-Horse reports. The seven-year-old gelding, who had colic surgery May 16, has been training satisfactorily, but trainer Charlie LoPresti believes that more time would be beneficial. "I want to do what's right for this horse and I kind of feel like it was maybe just wishful thinking to try and make this race," LoPresti told Novak on Thursday. "Don't get me wrong -- there's not a thing wrong with him; I just need more time." LoPresti mentioned the August 30 Bernard Baruch H. (G2) at the Spa, the September 14 Woodbine Mile (G1) and the October 4 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland as possible objectives. "He doesn't owe me anything and the worst thing I can do is press on him and have him get beat when I know he wasn't ready. I'd never forgive myself," LoPresti said. "I don't want to be under the gun with him and this way I can space his works out a little bit and not push on too hard."...
Reddam Racing LLC's Wake Up Nick (Cindago), the 3-5 favorite under jockey Mario Gutierrez, extended his perfect record to three-for-three Wednesday evening with an impressive triumph in the featured $100,000 Graduation Stakes for California-bred two-year-olds at Del Mar. Wake Up Nick took command from the outside entering the stretch and then drew off to score by 4 1/4 lengths in the added money event that was won by Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero California Chrome last summer. "Last time I rode him, I tried to take a little hold and we had to work hard late. This time I just let him run," Gutierrez explained. "These two-year-olds; a lot of them aren't sure about what they're doing so you don't want to mess around with them too much. He's a nice horse. I think he'll run farther, too. Little by little; he'll get there." Trained by Doug O'Neill, Wake Up Nick ran the 5 1/2 furlongs over the synthetic Polytrack in 1:04 2/5 and returned $3.40 for the win. "He's so professional. He gives you 110 percent all of the time and how do you not love a horse like that," O'Neill praised. "We were all thinking we had the best horse going into the race, but not knowing how the track was going to play after the renovation with the wax. I thought Mario rode him with a ton of confidence and it showed what a top quality rider he is and top quality horse this is." First money of $57,000 increased the chestnut colt's earnings to $165,600, which also included the prize money from the June 22 Santa Anita Juvenile and a maiden contest in May. The Graduation Stakes is an early season steppingstone to the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity (G1) on closing day, September 3. "When you've got a top quality two-year-old you've got to think Futurity. It's big money and it's prestigious, so he deserves a chance," O'Neill stated...
Eleven-time Arlington training champion Wayne Catalano recorded his 1,000th victory at the Chicagoland oval Thursday when Arapaho Royal LLC's Royal Alluvial (Alluvial) scored a five-length tally in the 2ND race. A short time earlier, Catalano earned Arlington win No. 999 when Susan Moulton's first-time starter Bella Ranger (U S Ranger) took the opener. "I've ridden a lot of winners for Wayne," said jockey E. T. Baird who rode the milestone winner. "Winning 1,000 at one track is a milestone that few trainers ever see. I want to congratulate him." Catalano, who is second to the now-retired Richard Hazelton (1,181) in Arlington's all-time trainer standings, remains hospitalized with pneumonia. Longtime assistant Fernando Canteria accepted congratulations from members of Arlington's management team. "It's an honor to carry his name like this," Canteria said. "It's a big, big name to carry on my shoulders and I'm just trying to do my best and do it the same way he does. I've known him for a long time and that's what it is. We've been very lucky on this track and been very patient. Patience here is so important. My first day with the Catalano barn was in December of 1999 and I climbed my way up with him to where I am now." A sign commemorating the milestone was being signed by Arlington staff and will be delivered to Catalano at Saint Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates, Illinois...
Tyler Baze could become a father at any time and the next victory for the 31-year-old jockey -- which could come aboard one of his six rides Thursday -- will be No. 2,000 of his career. Exciting prospects, for sure. But as he made his rounds riding morning workouts Thursday, Baze viewed them with the cool demeanor jockeys maintain when they're on a closer and a speed duel is developing up front in a race. "I could get the call any second now," Baze said of his impending parenthood. His wife, Christina, is due to deliver a girl. "It's our first child, so if I get the call, I'll be taking off. But hopefully the baby will wait until after Sunday so we can get through the weekend." The Baze family is to Thoroughbred race riding what the Wallenda family is to high-wire walking. Tyler comes from a line of Bazes that includes his father, Earl, and mother, the former Cammie Hunt, uncle Gary, second-cousin Russell. He was also a cousin to the late Michael Baze. Victory No. 2,000 will move Tyler to within just more than 10,000 of cousin Russell, racing's all-time wins leader. He smiles at the idea of pursuing such a figure, then puts things in perspective. "I just thank God every day I walk away from here safe," he said. "It's dangerous work. For all of us jocks, every win's a blessing and it's a blessing every time we leave here. My wife's thankful I come home in one piece." Baze won the Eclipse Award as the top apprentice in North America in 2000 and was the leading apprentice at Del Mar and every other Southern California meeting that year. He had banner years in 2004 and 2008 but battled substance abuse problems starting in 2010-11 and returned to riding full time on January 1 this year. "I've had a rough go of it," Baze admitted. "It will be nice to get it under my belt and join the 2,000 club and start towards joining the 3,000 club. It's been a lot of work. It hasn't been easy."...
Be My Gal (Galileo) was settled in a stalking second early by Frankie Dettori in Thursday's Prix de Psyche (Fr-G3) at Deauville, was sent into a decisive lead with a quarter-mile remaining and was gone by the time Anahita (Turtle Bowl) emerged from behind. "We had a very good trip and quickened very nicely in the straight," Dettori said. "She has only run five times and is improving with every run. She gave me a feeling that she is at least Group 2-class, and probably Group 1." After finishing runner-up to Western Hymn going a mile on Kempton's Polytrack in December, Be My Gal came off second best against another smart rival in Bright Approach over Thursday's 10-furlong trip at Newbury on April 11 before breaking her maiden reverting to a mile in the listed Conqueror S. at Goodwood on May 3. Third coming off the pace in Chantilly's June 30 Prix Chloe (Fr-G3) over an extra panel last out, the bay the homebred relished the step up in trip, and more positive tactics, to win the first group race of Deauville's month-long festival. Trained by Roger Charlton, Be My Gal is out of a half-sister to the dam of 2006 Prix Morny (Fr-G1) and Middle Park S. (Eng-G1) victor Dutch Art...
As he had been on that occasion, Without Fear (Refuse to Bend) was sent straight to the lead by jockey Rafael Schistl in Thursday's Oslo Cup (Nor-G3) at Ovrevoll and had to dig deep to ward off Energia El Gigante (Point Given) late to secure another major prize. Successful in the Stockholms Stora Pris (Swe-G3) over an extended nine-furlong trip at Taby in June and the Stockholm Cup International (Swe-G3) over Thursday's 12-furlong trip back there in September, Without Fear took until June 29 to regain the winning thread but the Niels Petersen trainee came good in Klampenborg's Scandinavian Open Championship (Den-G3) again at this distance. Later on Ovrevoll's card, the popular Ragazzo (Academy Award) rebounded after a string of placed efforts in Swedish black-type contests to bring up a second consecutive renewal in the Polar Cup (Nor-G3) under jockey Jacob Johansen. The Annike Bye Hansen-trained gelding made virtually all when successful in this 12 months ago at his favorite circuit, and was primed for his defence and a 10th win at the track by a latest third in the July 5 Zawawi Cup (Swe-G3) going six furlongs on Jagersro's dirt. The bay -- who is the only Norwegian-bred to have won this race -- was handed a lead this time by Liber (Ishiguru) and, after subduing that rival approaching the furlong pole, won geared down...
Free as a Bird (Hard Spun), first or second in all five of her starts this year, is the 5-2 program favorite for Friday's running of the $100,000 Caress, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares, four-years-old and up, at Saratoga. Trained by Ian Wilkes, the five-year-old chestnut enters the Caress off a pair of stakes wins at Belmont Park, taking the Intercontinental by a neck on June 8 preceded by a one-length score in the License Fee on May 11. Joel Rosario will be back aboard Free as a Bird, who drew post position 3 in the field of 10. Second choice at 7-2 on the morning-line is Madame Giry (Castledale), who in four starts at the Spa has compiled a record of 3-0-1, including a pair of optional claiming wins in 2012 and a victory in the Smart N Fancy last August 26. The bay five-year-old, winner of the Turf Sprint at Gulfstream Park last out, drew post 10 and will be ridden by Hall of Famer Edgar Prado. Munnings Sister (Speightstown) opened her 2014 campaign with a win in the Awesome Feather at Gulfstream but has not found the winner's circle since, finishing third in the Las Flores (G3) at Santa Anita, fourth in the Distaff H. (G2) at Aqueduct and most recently second in the Red Cross on June 22 at Monmouth Park. With Cornelio Velasquez riding, Munnings Sister is listed at 5-1 on the morning-line. The pair will leave from post 5...
Fourteen California-bred three-year-olds, including unbeaten Red Outlaw (Tribal Rule), are entered in Friday's 27th running of the $200,000 Real Good Deal at seven furlongs over Del Mar's main track. Given the size of the field, the Real Good Deal figures to be a wide-open affair. However, the Peter Miller-trained Red Outlaw should be solidly backed, although he is unraced since winning the grassy Baffle at Santa Anita in mid-February. His two previous victories were accomplished on synthetic surfaces at Hollywood Park and Golden Gate Fields. Edwin Maldonado has the call. Strong foes include stakes scorer Alert Bay (City Zip), never worse than third in eight career starts including a second in the Silky Sullivan and third in the Snow Chief, as well as last-out winners Solid Wager (Birdonthewire) and Hypnatique (Scat Daddy)...
Redoute's Choice (Danehill) collected his third Australian general sires' title when the 2013/14 season came to a close Thursday. The 18-year-old Arrowfield Stud resident amassed progeny earnings of A$10,287,243. He sired 96 winners of 150 races, headed by triple Group 1-winning sprinter Lankan Rupee. Redoute's Choice's son and fellow Arrowfield resident Snitzel filled second on the general sires' table, marking the first time in history a father-son duo have earned that distinction. Snitzel sired the earners of A$9,835,635, headed by Cox Plate (Aus-G1) hero Shamus Award and fellow Group 1 winner Snitzerland. "The toughest contests are always the most exciting to win, so this premiership quinella, achieved in our industry's most competitive era, means a great deal to me, my family and my team," Arrowfield Chairman John Messara said. "We are especially proud to share this success with every breeder, owner, trainer, jockey and buyer associated with the progeny of Redoute's Choice and Snitzel. Only our collective investment, skills, work and ambition can make history like this. It's wonderful to stand briefly at the top of the mountain, but the battle for next season's prizes begins on Friday!" A pair of former champion sires by Danehill -- Exceed and Excel and Fastnet Rock -- sat third and fourth, respectively, on the sires table, while Vinery resident Mossman (Success Express) capped off an excellent season to be fifth. Darley's former champion sire Lonhro (Octagonal) led all Australian sires by individual winners with 159, a new record, and was also on top by number of wins with 275...
During his riding career, Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero won 649 races at Saratoga, currently placing him third on the all-time victories list. On Saturday, a different Cordero will attempt to win a race at the Spa when he competes in the 3RD race, a 1 1/16-mile turf event for maiden two-year-olds. Cordero -- trained by Wesley Ward for Jake Ballis, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith -- has made one start in his career, a sixth-place finish against 13 opponents in the listed Chesam Stakes on June 21 at Royal Ascot. While the Coolmore group has raced many horses named for famous figures in history (Dylan Thomas, Galileo, George Washington, Stravinsky and Yeats, to name a few), Cordero was given his name by Ballis, a friend of the former jockey, who now serves as Hall of Famer John Velazquez's agent. "He was looking to name a horse after his buddy, and he got it done," Ward said. The equine Cordero, an Irish-bred son of Giant's Causeway, is one of three entrants in the body of the field with previous racing experience. He'll race with Lasix for the first time on Saturday. "Unfortunately, he bled in the (Chesam), which is the first of any of the horses I have brought over there that have done that," said Ward, whose international forays have brought him wins in the Prix Morny (Fr-G1), Norfolk (Eng-G2) and Queen Mary (Eng-G2). "With the addition of the Lasix, I think the horse will have a real good chance."...
The Breeders' Cup Thursday announced that it has selected City of Hope, a leading research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases, for the second consecutive year, as its primary non-profit beneficiary for the 31st running of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, to be held October 31-November 1 at Santa Anita. As a part of the relationship, Breeders' Cup has set a goal of raising $50,000 for City of Hope at this year's event. Racing fans will have the opportunity to contribute to City of Hope online at www.breederscup.com as well as through various promotional activities onsite; collection booths, merchandise sales and Public Service Announcements (PSAs). In addition, Breeders' Cup will create unique auction packages to be sold through an online auction outlet including VIP experiences to the Championships, meet & greets with Breeders' Cup Jockeys, one-of-a-kind items, and more. City of Hope will also receive 10 percent of ticket sales sold through www.cityofhope.org/shop-for-good when fans purchase tickets using a special promo code. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is recognized worldwide for its high-quality patient care and groundbreaking science. City of Hope's mission is to quickly turn research ideas into better cancer prevention strategies and cures...
The Race Track Industry Program on Thursday announced the return of the Global Simulcast Marketplace to the 2014 conference. The inaugural Marketplace, held during the 2012 Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming, saw participation from 26 companies representing a great number of interests from both the United States and abroad. After the event, 80 percent of the attendees confirmed that "new international contacts were made, opening doors for discussions in the future." The Global Simulcast Marketplace has proven to be the one place where representatives of organizations from around the globe can break down the barriers of time and distance to meet in one place, at one time, to buy and sell their racing product. This unique opportunity enables attendees to expand their business opportunities in the international racing distribution market. "One of the goals of the Symposium is to facilitate industry interaction," said Doug Reed, director of the Race Track Industry Program. "The Marketplace was created after a number of international attendees indicated that it is difficult to identify and connect with the appropriate people to acquire our product; they are eager to explore all the possibilities associated with North American racing." Visit the conference website ua-rtip.org/symposium for more information...
The Rev. Dr. Eddie Donnally, a former jockey and journalist who received an Eclipse Award for Outstanding Newspaper Writing in 1984, will be the keynote speaker at the New York Chaplaincy Fundraiser on August 13 at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion. Donnally, 70, whose autobiography "Ride the White Horse: A Checkered Jockey's Story of Racing, Rage and Redemption" was published in 2013, was a jockey for 19 years, after which he became the turf writer for the Dallas Morning News, a television show producer and racing show host. His career fell apart due to an addiction to crack cocaine, but in 1996, while in jail, he had a religious conversion. Within five years he was licensed as a minister by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and until 2009, he served as the development director for the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America. Having earned his doctorate in ministry, Donnally now lives with his wife in Clearwater, Florida, where he is a hospice and hospital chaplain. "We're very pleased to have Eddie speak for us," said Rev. Humberto Chavez of the Racetrack Chaplaincy, New York Division. "He is well known in the racing community and his uplifting story of redemption is not only interesting but an inspiration to us all." The New York Division of the Racetrack Chaplaincy, led by Chavez, is a non-demoninational Christian non-profit that provides physical, emotional and spiritual care to the backstretch workers at Saratoga, Aqueduct and Belmont Park. Tickets for the fundraiser are $100, and Donnally will sign books at the event, at the track in the afternoon and that evening at Impressions in downtown Saratoga for a donation of $15...
As usual, Efrain Hernandez exercised horses for trainer Eric Kruljac at Los Alamitos on Wednesday morning. Then he hit the I-405 and I-5 freeways for Del Mar and his one mount on the program. A seventh-place finish on 50-1 shot Caddy Cain (Whatsthescript) ensued. Such is the life of Hernandez, a 22-year-old apprentice jockey. A life he knows well, having grown up in Montclair, near Pomona, the son of an exercise rider and a track habitué from a very young age. "I started out as a groom and worked my way up," Hernandez said. "Everything I've learned, I've learned at the track." Hernandez left California to start his riding career in the Midwest. He rode his first winner on July 25, 2012, at Thistledown in Cleveland, Ohio -- Music Conductor for Richard Rettele -- and stayed there for six months before returning to California in 2012. He has 769 career rides with 69 victories and more than $1 million in purse earnings for his horses. In 2014 the numbers are 138 races with six wins, 10 seconds and 21 thirds. The most recent win came last Friday in the 1St race at Del Mar, a wire-to-wire trip aboard Wild Heart Run (After Market), a two-year-old filly owned in part by his father and trained by Louis A. Bradvica. "She won pretty easy," Hernandez said. "She broke well and went right to the front and turning for home I knew she had a lot left." Hernandez has been represented by agents in the past but currently is without one and taking mounts as they come. "A lot of people know me because I've been around the track since I was small," he said...
Chili lovers -- from those who prefer it hot and spicy to those who are willing to go really HOT and unbelievably SPICY -- will be beating a path to Del Mar Saturday when the track presents its annual Western Regional Chili Cookoff with free samples for all. There will be a record 50 chili cooks on board throughout the afternoon, serving up their special concoctions starting at 2 p.m. (PDT) alongside the Seaside Stage concert area on the western end of the grandstand. A fine sampling of cold brews from beer tents throughout the area also will be available. The cooks will be vying for $2,500 in prizes, as well as a new 42" television. Additionally, there will be a Salsa Contest as part of the festivities. Following the cookoff after the races, the track will present fan favorites Weezer in concert on the Seaside Stage.
For Friday or Next Raceday
AUGUST 1, 2014
A Tale of Two Turf Courses (With apologies to Charles Dickens and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio)
by Dick Powell
It might not be the best of times nor the worst of times (depending on how you are betting) but the two turf courses at Saratoga have serious differences. Not enough to call for a revolution filled with beheadings but if you are sitting on a pile of losing pari-mutuel tickets, wondering what happened, this might help.
In the past two years, there have been an amazing 250 races run on the turf at Saratoga. 120 of them were run on the wider, Mellon turf course, named after one of horse racing's finest patrons of the turf, Paul Mellon of Rokeby Stable fame. 130 of them were run on the inner turf course, which doesn't have a title name but might be the scene of many results where you are called it some colorful names.
About 20 years ago, I did a study of the two turf courses and found radical differences. Twenty years later, little has changed.
On the Mellon turf course, an amazing 47 favorites have won the 120 races for a healthy win percentage of 39.16 percent. The average win mutuel odds was only $5.43 to 1 so the average win mutuel payoff for the 120 races run on the Mellon turf course was $12.86.
Part of the Mellon turf course playing so much to form is its wide turns allow horses to overcome poor trips and rally with less traffic congestion. The inner turf course, with its narrower configuration, figures to be the opposite and according to the data, it is.
There have been 130 races run on the inner turf course and only 35 favorites have won for a win percentage of only 26.92 percent. When you do pick a winner on the inner turf course, you are rewarded with an average mutuel payoff of $14.34.
Field sizes are comparable but you would not think that the inner turf course averages 9.22 starters per race while the Mellon turf course averages 8.71 starters per race. Somehow, you would think the opposite would be the case.
As far as betting strategy, it makes sense to spread out more in races on the inner turf course than the Mellon. On the inner turf course, bad trips seem to prevail and upsets occur more than expected so it's tough to go strong with one or two horses. Three or four might be more like it.
On the Mellon turf course, a strong favorite figures to have less of a chance of being hindered with traffic problems so you can bet them with more confidence. The sample size of 250 turf races certainly is statistically significant and it reflects prior research that I have done.
What does Saratoga have that Del Mar does not? Easy! Bad weather!
If you are up here or watching on a simulcast, you have seen three of the last four days lose all turf racing due to torrential rains. With at least five turf races scheduled each racing day, a rainy day means a lot of races off the turf and at least there have been enough of them to build up some data.
In 2013, we had weather never seen before with only 22 races washed off the turf in 40 days of racing. Part of that trend continued into this year with no weather issues in the first eight days of racing, but last Sunday and Monday's turf races were all lost so we have had 10 races washed off the turf in 10 days of racing this year.
Even with only an average field size of 7.25, favorites only won 31.25 percent. The average win mutuel was $11.08 so the races that have been taken off the turf are playing a little less to form than expected.
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HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.
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