Danon Platina scores in Asahi Hai Futurity
Race favorite Danon Platina responded well to expectations in capturing Hanshin's Grade 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes on Sunday to top his generation.
Danon Platina's three career starts prior to Sunday consisted of a runner-up finish in his September 6 debut, followed by a convincing four-length win in a maiden race in October and another strong three-length victory in the Begonia Sho, an allowance race seven weeks later.
After breaking sharply from an inner stall, jockey Masayoshi Ebina kept Danon Platina reserved third from the rear and three wide while the Deep Impact colt briefly fought the bit in the backstretch. Well in hand by the last turn and angling out wide entering the straight, Ebina allowed the gray juvenile to hit his best stride. Danon Platina willingly demonstrated a resounding finishing kick to pass his rivals, including front runner Active Minoru at the furlong-pole, while holding off the fast-closing Arma Waioli.
"The going wasn't very good and, since we broke from an inner stall, I tried hard to position him away from the rails which went well as planned," Ebina explained. "He was relaxed and had enough left in him by the last corner for a strong final run.
"He definitely takes after his sire Deep Impact -- his finishing speed speaks for itself."
Danon Platina ran about eight furlongs on the good turf in 1:35 4/5 against his fellow two-year-old colts.
Since the Victoria Mile triumph with Apapane in 2011, this win marks trainer Sakae Kunieda's 11th JRA-Grade 1 victory, while Ebina celebrates his 23rd JRA-Grade 1 title after claiming the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies partnered with Shonan Adela, also sired by Deep Impact, just a week ago.
Deep Impact offspring has now dominated 10 out of 23 JRA-Grade 1 races this year.
Dortmund sets track record in thrilling three-horse photo for Los Alamitos Futurity
All three were motoring in tandem down the center of the track, with Mr. Z repeatedly lugging out and bumping Firing Line. Dortmund appeared to be hanging late and just finally got up to be on even terms in the shadow of the wire. The trio hit the line together, but the photo managed to discern Dortmund in front over Firing Line with Mr. Z another nose back in third.
Dortmund is now three-for-three in his career, having broken his maiden at Santa Anita Park on November 2 before traveling cross-country to take a Churchill Downs optional claimer 27 days later. Returning to Baffert's California-base for the Los Alamitos Futurity, the Big Brown colt has now banked $359,400 lifetime.
Bred in Kentucky by Emilie Gerlinde Fojan, Dortmund sold twice at auction. He brought $90,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling last year and then was purchased for $140,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Old in Training in May.
The two-year-old colt is the first stakes scorer out of the Grade 3-placed stakes-winning Tale of the Cat mare Our Josephina. His third dam is 1977 champion Lakeville Miss, who would go on in the breeding shed to produce Grade 1 hero Mogambo and Grade 1 runner-up Sea Breezer. This female family is also responsible for 1942 Preakness second Requested.
Sky Flight stars in Tropical Park Derby; Sandiva wins Oaks
"The race seemed to set up for us," Lezcano said. "He was going good and I wasn't going to rush him, ask him to do something he doesn't want to do."
Sky Flight saved ground most of the way along the inside before splitting horses in upper stretch and carried his momentum boldly through the stretch. Cement Clement proved game to the wire, winding up a length clear of 5-2 favorite Smooth Daddy in third, but Sky Flight won going away in the end.
"He was comfortable and when I asked him to run he closed really well," the jockey noted.
"He's been forwardly placed in his other races, but obviously the pace was a lot hotter today," assistant trainer Norm Casse said. "Jose did the right thing and had him a little farther off the pace and it set up perfectly. Jose rode a great race."
Party Now wound up three parts of a length better than 5-2 second favorite Dancing House, who closed fast into the frame late.
Bred by Denis McDonnell, Sandiva sold for a modest $28,400 as a yearling. She's out of the winning Mark of Esteem mare Miss Corrinne.
Unplaced in her first three starts versus graded rivals stateside, including a fourth most recently in the November 15 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs, Sandiva increased her earnings to $268,040. She won four starts overseas, in England, France and Ireland, and recorded three stakes tallies. Her record reads 12-5-1-0.
McCarthy suffers broken right wrist at Laurel
His 263 winners make him the sixth leading rider in North America and he is in the top 20 in earnings with $8.1 million.
Act of War captures Cape Guineas
Act of War suffered his lone defeat when a narrowly beaten second in his April 28 debut going six furlongs over the Kenilworth strip, but he has yet to look back since and ran his current win streak to six -- all at Kenilworth -- when collecting his first Group 1 in impressive fashion in Saturday's Cape Guineas over the same surface.
Off a step slow on Saturday, Act of War bided his time in midpack a few slots off the fence. Bottled up with plenty in the tank as the field straightened for home, the Dynasty sophomore responded with gusto when tipped out by Bernard Fayd'Herbe, sweeping past his rivals without feeling the whip.
Fayd'Herbe, who was Act of War's sixth rider in seven starts and was sitting in for the owner's injured stable jockey Anton Marcus, told Sporting Post, "I had the two draw and would have been happy sitting up third. My mount (ended) up missing the break but he was relaxed in running. Into the straight I was watching Piere (Strydom on Harry's Son, the only previous Group 1 winner in the line-up) and was following Anthony (Delpech on Kingvoldt).
"I squeezed him and Act of War just got there so quickly. He is a true champion -- one of the better horses I have ever sat on."
Off the mark by four lengths on May 13, Act of War stepped up in class to take the Group 3 Langerman Stakes going 1500 meters on June 8, and he added the listed Winter Juvenile Stakes over Sunday's track and eight-furlong trip on July 12.
Allowed a freshening thereafter during the Southern Hemisphere winter, Act of War picked up where he left off when taking the Group 3 Cape Classic on October 25, and he prepped for this with a smooth score in the Group 2 Selangor Cup on November 22.
Derek Brugman, racing manager to owners Markus and Ingrid Jooste, noted future goals for Act of War would include an international campaign. The Jooste's silks were carried to victory by Variety Club in this year's Group 2 Godolphin Mile in Dubai and Group 1 Champions Mile in Hong Kong.
"He got left and Bernie had to rush him," Brugman told Sporting Post. "He is so good though -- you can switch him off or on.
"We are now looking at the L'Ormarins Queen's Plate, the Met or the Derby. And the intention is to get him out of the country to race on the world stage."
Stone named as Churchill Downs' new track announcer
"It's apparent that Travis works tirelessly to hone his craft with entertaining, colorful and accurate race calls. We believe he's one of the nation's premier announcers and will be a fabulous ambassador for Churchill Downs Racetrack in a community and region that loves horse racing like no other for years to come."
Stone will join an elite fraternity of Churchill Downs track announcers that include Gene Schmidt (1940-60), Chic Anderson (1961-77), Mike Battaglia (1978-96), Kurt Becker (1997-98), Luke Kruytbosch (1999-2008), Mark Johnson (2009-13) and Collmus (2014).
Stone has called races at Churchill Downs on two other occasions. He was a participant in the 2006 All-Star Announcer's Day on the day prior to the 2006 Breeders' Cup World Championships, and was part of a select group of five talented guest announcers who each spent one week behind the binoculars and microphone at Churchill Downs during the 2008 fall meet. He also has made guest appearances at Suffolk Downs, Calder Race Course and Golden Gate Fields.
Here's a link to Stone's call of this year's Haskell Invitational: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9dN2_OobTI. A compilation of select race calls can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-htUEbNuRI.
Old Friends to receive Special Eclipse Award
Other American Grade 1 winners currently residing at the main farm include champions Amazombie, Gulch and Hidden Lake, as well as Affirmed Success, Afternoon Deelites, Bonapaw, Commentator, Dinard, Early Pioneer, Fabulous Strike, Geri, Kiri's Clown, Kudos, Ogygian, Sarava, Sean Avery, Seek Gold, Special Ring, Tinners Way, Wallenda and You and I.
"This is just unbelievable," Blowen said. "We started with one horse just over 10 years ago and now we have 166 retirees. We have several Eclipse Award winners already at the farm; I can't wait to show them mine!"
Additional fan favorites include Rapid Redux, winner of 19 consecutive races in 2011, and Little Silver Charm, the operation's miniature mascot and the farm's only non-Thoroughbred. Old Friends also operates Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division near Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, where past Travers winners Thunder Rumble and Will's Way greet the public, along with infamous 100-time loser Zippy Chippy.
Even while working full-time for the Globe as a staff writer, Blowen would spend mornings at Suffolk Downs working for veteran trainer Carlos Figueroa. Mucking stalls and walking hots aren't typical side jobs for journalists, but for Blowen they were excuses to satisfy his growing fascination with horses. Shortly after Blowen retired from the Globe he accepted a position in Kentucky as operations director for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
"Old Friends is a special place," recently retired jockey and Old Friends board member Rosie Napravnik stated. "It is such a well-run organization and Michael Blowen is one of the most genuine people I've ever met in racing. When I pull up there I'm practically sprinting up the driveway I'm so excited. I don't really get starstruck by people but I do get starstruck when I visit Old Friends."
Old Friends offers daily tours and attracts up to 1,000 visitors per week during their busiest times of the year.
"Our industry has made significant progress in allowing former racehorses to live out dignified retirements thanks to Old Friends and likeminded organizations," NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop remarked. "We are grateful to Michael and his dedicated team of staff and volunteers for the positive impact they've had on our sport's commitment to aftercare and on the lives of hundreds of Thoroughbreds."
For more information, including how to donate or volunteer, please visit www.OldFriendsEquine.org.
The Special Award will be given for the 24th time since it was inaugurated in 1971 to honor Robert J. Kleberg, manager of the famed King Ranch. Subsequent recipients have included racing luminaries such as Bill Shoemaker, C.V. Whitney, Edward J. DeBartolo, Richard Duchossois, Russell Baze, Laffit Pincay Jr., Dale Baird, Team Zenyatta and last year's recipient, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).
Old Friends will be the third aftercare-related recipient, following Monique Koehler, founder of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, in 2009, and the TAA.
A complete list of past Eclipse Award winners, including the Special Award recipients, may be accessed online at http://ntra.com/en/eclipse-awards/history.
Tickets to the Eclipse Awards ceremony are on sale for $400 each or $4,000 for a table of 10. For reservations, please contact Michele Ravencraft of the NTRA at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 859-422-2657.
Eagle (Candy Ride) continued preparations for Fair Grounds' $200,000 Lecomte S. (G3) on January 17 with a nice five-furlong move over the New Orleans' good main track in 1:01 3/5 on Saturday morning for trainer Neil Howard. "It wasn't anything earth-shattering," Howard shrugged. "He worked after the break in 1:01 and three and galloped out in fourteen and three. We're trying to hold onto what we have right now with him while still moving him forward and not push him too hard. We know that once we get to January 17 there are no breaks." The chestnut colt is coming off a good third in the November 29 Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) at Churchill Downs and has won two of his four starts while never finishing worse than third...
Gulfstream Park acknowledged Saturday that they are investigating a timing issue with some races. "Gulfstream Park, with the help of its patrons and players, is aware that there have been some timing issues with races leaving the mile chute," the track said in a statement. "Along with hand-timing our races, we have had conversations with Trakus, our track timer, to remedy this problem as quickly as possible. Trakus is flying a technician to Gulfstream to work on this problem. In the past, Equibase has red-flagged suspicious times and sent the report to Trakus to be corrected. In the future, those times will also be reported to the management at Gulfstream Park so these problems can be investigated and expedited. We will also continue to hand-time all our races so we are positive that the times being reported are correct. We want to thank our players for helping us with this issue. The integrity of our sport must not be compromised. We will continue moving forward to make sure all information is reported correctly."...
Shadai's Ash Gold (Stay Gold) has some lofty hoofprints to fill, being a full brother to Japanese Triple Crown hero, Horse of the Year and four-time champion Orfevre as well as Japanese dual champion and triple Grade 1 winner Dream Journey, and the juvenile could take a big step toward fulfilling expectations in Sunday's Asahi Hai Futurity (Jpn-G1) at Hanshin, Japan's crowning jewel for two-year-olds. A debut sixth on July 26, Ash Gold was off the mark after a three-month holiday at Kyoto October 26 and finished second, beaten a half-length, in the November 15 Daily Hai Nisai S. (Jpn-G2), a key prep for Sunday's contest. The winner that day was Tagano Espresso (Black Tide), who had previously broken his maiden at third asking at Kyoto on October 11 and who has never finished off the board. Clarity Sky (Kurofune) looks to extend his win streak to three. After finishing fourth in his July 5 debut and second a week later, the bay graduated by two lengths over this course on September 27 and took the Icho S. at Tokyo by the same margin on October 11. Bright Emblem (Neo Universe) has been slow from the gate in both his starts, but that didn't stop him from winning either, the latter victory coming when he swooped six-wide to take the Sapporo Nisai S. (Jpn-G3) on September 6. While Bright Emblem will have to defy a near four-month layoff, Danon Platina (Deep Impact) will be wheeling back off 20 day's rest. The gray has gone two-for-three, breaking his maiden by four lengths on October 13 before taking a November 30 Tokyo allowance. Ryan Moore won last year aboard Asia Express (Henny Hughes) and looks for another international big-race win aboard the unbeaten Peptide Warhead (King Kamehameha).
Grand Contender (Strong Contender) had little more than a $50,000 workout on Friday afternoon in the Buddy Diliberto Memorial S. at Fair Ground, albeit a very wet one. The six-year-old gelding sprinted from his outside post in the four-horse field and never looked back while coasting to a 1 1/2-length victory under Francisco Torres. The Tom Amoss trainee finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 4/5 to post his fifth career stakes win. The Diliberto was a return to the winner's circle for the bay gelding after three consecutive losses in stakes company. He captured the Lone Star Park H. (G3) and Texas Mile (G3) in succession during the spring, and bypassed Sunday's $50,000 Tenacious S., in which he was also entered, for the Buddy Diliberto Memorial...
Fair Grounds will host a pair of stakes on Sunday. The $50,000 Tiffany Lass S. drew a field of five distaffers going a mile and 70 yards while the $50,000 Tenacious S. sends older runners the same distance. The top draw in the Tiffany Lass is Grade 3 heroine Cassatt (Tapit), who came out of her facile 4 1/2-length victory in the lucrative Zia Park Oaks on November 26 no worse for the wear. Trainer Larry Jones indicated the three-year-old miss will follow Sunday's event with the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston on January 24. Ten were entered in the Tenacious, but the race already will have one scratch after Grand Contender (Strong Contender) captured Friday's Buddy Diliberto Memorial at the New Orleans track. Trainer Tom Amoss' Rise Up (Rockport Harbor), hero of the 2013 Delta Downs Jackpot (G3), is seeking his second win of the year in the Tenacious. The bay sophomore romped by 10 3/4 lengths in the Robert Hilton Memorial at Charles Town in April and was third against optional claiming rivals in his most recent start on November 27. Agent Di Nozzo (Ghostzapper), third in last year's Tenacious, returns for another shot at the race, as does Flashy Sunrise (Flashy Bull), who has gone 2-1-0 from seven starts since his seventh-place run in the 2013 edition...
Average daily purse distribution will increase approximately 20 percent for the 2015 live racing season at Emerald Downs. Horsemen were notified of the increase last week when stall applications were mailed in preparation for the 70-day live racing season. The increase will be made possible by ongoing purse enhancements from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, which since 2004 has provided Emerald Downs with $11,954,825 in purse supplements. Pending approval by the Washington Horse Racing Commission (WHRC), the meeting will run April 18 through September 27 with racing Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The 2015 season marks the 20th season of live racing at Emerald Downs. In November it was announced that the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe had agreed in principle to acquire Emerald Downs and its assets. The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe is expected to obtain the WHRC license necessary to own and operate Emerald Downs and its off-track wagering facilities. The process is ongoing and the license is expected to be awarded early in 2015. Emerald Downs' stable area opens January 31 with training beginning February 2. The 2015 stakes schedule, including the 80th running of the Longacres Mile (G3), will be announced early next year.
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.
A horse racing website is currently hiring for part-time positions as a Customer Service Representative in Lexington, Kentucky. Must be available nights and weekends. Some weekdays may also be available. Computer literacy required, horse racing knowledge and customer service experience a plus. To schedule an interview, email or send your résumé to the following: Nancy.Kanaval@brisnet.com, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.