Untapable prevails in Cotillion
The 1 1/16-mile contest was the co-feature on the card with the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, which marked the return of Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome. Untapable herself captured the Kentucky Oaks in May and now has a huge lead in the race for champion three-year-old filly honors.
Jockey Rosie Napravnik piloted Untapable in all but one of her nine career starts leading up to the Cotillion, and settled the Tapit filly into a tracking spot behind the pacesetting Jojo Warrior and Cassatt once the gates opened Saturday. Jojo Warrior set splits of :23 2/5, :46 3/5 and 1:10 1/5 while stalked by those two rivals, who ranged up rounding the turn to run in tandem entering the stretch.
Untapable was widest of all circling the turn and was set down by Napravnik in the lane, drifting over near the eighth-pole before being corrected. The bay miss dug in and eked out the length score over a rallying Sweet Reason to complete 1 1/16 miles in 1:42 3/5 over the fast dirt.
Easily the public's choice at 1-2, Untapable returned $3 for the win. Sweet Reason broke through the gate but was held by the assistant starter had no problems when the gates officially opened. She had a length to spare on Jojo Warrior once hitting the wire, while Little Alexis got up to finish the top four another 2 1/2 lengths back.
Cassatt, Joine Return, Vero Amore and House Rules rounded out the order of finish. Stopchargingmaria, who has yet to face Untapable, was scratched in favor of facing her elders in the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame at Belmont Park on September 27.
Untapable suffered her first loss this year when taking on the boys in the Haskell Invitational prior to the Cotillion. The Steve Asmussen trainee was bumped at the start of that contest and round up fifth under the wire, but proved dominate over her own gender in four previous start.
The bay filly romped by 9 1/2 lengths in her season opener, the Rachel Alexandra, before taking the Fair Grounds Oaks by 7 3/4 lengths. She easily proved best in the Kentucky Oaks by 4 1/2 lengths and carried that form forward to the Mother Goose for a 9 1/4-length gambol around the track.
As a juvenile, Untapable captured her initial pair of starts, taking her maiden debut by a length before a half-length score in the Pocahontas, both at Churchill Downs. She shipped to Santa Anita for a try at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, but was checked and eventually eased into a well-beaten eighth spot under the wire. The Kentucky-bred lass stayed in California and visited Hollywood Park next out to wrap up her two-year-old campaign with a third in the Hollywood Starlet.
Now boasting a 7-0-1 mark from 10 career starts, Untapable has banked $1,896,725 in lifetime earnings.
Untapable is out of the Grade 2-winning Prized mare Fun House, making her a half-sister to Grade 1-scoring millionaire and 2010 Kentucky Derby third-placer Paddy O'Prado. Her third dam is Carols Christmas, from whom a whole slew of black-type runners are descended. Among that group are Grade 1-winning millionaires and sires Olympio and Pyro; 2012 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile victor Tapizar; and Grade 1-scoring stallion Cuvee.
Others of note in this female family include Fun House's half-brother Early Flyer, a Grade 2-winning sire, and current Grade 1 vixen On Fire Baby.
Favorite Tale continues affinity for Parx in Gallant Bob
King's Bishop near-misser Fast Anna was bet down to 3-5 favoritism in Saturday's Grade 3, $300,000 Gallant Bob at Parx, but locally based speedster Favorite Tale continued to be unbeatable at his home track. After vying with Fast Anna early, the Guadalupe Preciado trainee got the upper hand and kicked 2 1/2 lengths clear to remain perfect from four starts at Parx.
A homebred campaigned by Paul Conaway's PJG Stables, Favorite Tale was also capitalizing on his rail draw on a day that was favoring inside speed. The Tale of the Cat gelding, whose only prior stakes victory came in the May 4 Gold Fever at Belmont, was dispatched as the 7-2 second choice off a trio of stakes placings. He was a neck short when runner-up to Coup de Grace in the July 5 Oh Say at Delaware, and missed by the same margin when third to Pure Sensation in the grassy Quick Call at Saratoga July 24. He was most recently second, beaten three-quarters of a length, by Prudhoe Bay in the August 16 Jersey Shore at Monmouth, and gained revenge on his last two conquerors here.
Although Favorite Tale broke sharply with John Bisono, Fast Anna lived up to his name in the initial stages and zipped to a narrow advantage through a quarter-mile in :21 1/5. But Favorite Tale was glued alongside and soon put his head in front. Beginning to edge ahead through a half in :43 1/5 on a surface that was playing fast, Favorite Tale opened up by daylight down the stretch. He clocked :55 1/5 for the five-furlong split and completed six furlongs in 1:08.
Fast Anna held second by a diminishing neck from Bump Start, who was followed under the line by Pure Sensation, Prudhoe Bay, Good Bye Greg and the eased Camden Street.
Pure Sensation and Prudhoe Bay, however, were soon embroiled in the stewards' room. Paco Lopez, Prudhoe Bay's rider, claimed foul against Joel Rosario on Pure Sensation for an incident at the start. Pure Sensation took a left turn out of the gate, swiping Prudhoe Bay just to his inside. The stewards disallowed the claim and declared the result official as it stood.
Favorite Tale rewarded his fans with a $9 win payout and improved his own line to 10-5-2-1, $369,826. The Pennsylvania-bred began his career with a three-race winning spree at Parx this winter, crowned by a 14-length allowance romp March 24. Favorite Tale then tried New York and dropped two out of three. He bookended his aforementioned Gold Fever win (where he defeated Pure Sensation and Havana) with poor efforts in both the Bay Shore and Woody Stephens. Since then, the bay has been a model of consistency.
Favorite Tale was produced by the Grade 3-placed Tricky Elaine, a Grindstone half-sister to 1997 Horse of the Year and champion two-year-old colt Favorite Trick. Also in the family are Grade 2 queen Tizfiz and current Grade 3 scorer Fury Kapcori.
Divine Oath rides rail to victory in Kent
The Todd Pletcher charge was content rating off the pace down on the inside as Lafontaine, who was making his first start away from Woodbine, led the field through splits of :23 3/5, :47 3/5 and 1:12 1/5.
Divine Oath started to move in on the leaders coming around the far turn, surged through an opening along the rail turning for home and took control at the top of the stretch. Eventual runner-up, Bashart attempted to challenge the leader in midstretch, but Divine Oath was too much as he pulled clear late to prevail by three-quarters of a length.
Divine Oath covered 1 1/8 miles over the firm turf in 1:47.78, which was .51 off the course record set by Optimzer in September 2012. With Jose Caraballo aboard, the bay colt paid $3.60 to his loyal supporters for his second graded stakes win.
Bashart got up for second by a length over third-place finisher Other Cheek. Lafontaine, Craftsman, Cabo Cat and Gadget Man rounded out the order of finish.
Divine Oath broke his maiden in his racing debut over the turf at Gulfstream Park on January 18 and captured an allowance race at the same venue the following month. The bay finished runner-up in his stakes bow in the Grade 3 Lexington over the Keeneland Polytrack on April 19 and was fourth back on the grass in the Penn Mile on May 31. He captured his first stakes in the Grade 3 American Derby on July 12 and was exiting a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on August 16 at Arlington. The son of Broken Vow has a career record that stands at 7-4-1-0 and $335,850 in lifetime earnings.
Bred in Kentucky by Sanford Robertson, Divine Oath is out of the Forestry mare Rejoicing. His grandam is Pennant Champion, who is a full sister to Grade 1 victors Miner's Mark and Traditionally.
The bay's third dam is undefeated Hall of Famer Personal Ensign, the 1988 champion older mare as well as 1996 Broodmare of the Year. Personal Ensign produced multiple Grade 1 scorer My Flag, who in turn produced 2002 champion two-year-old filly, Storm Flag Flying. Divine Oath's fourth dam is 1988 Broodmare of the Year, Grecian Banner. His female family also boasts multiple Grade 1 winner Personal Flag and Grade 1 victor Mr Speaker.
Divine Oath sold as a yearling for $200,000 at the Keeneland September sale.
Wicked Strong, Moreno among Gold Cup workers
In addition to Wicked Strong having matured over the summer, Jerkens attributed much of Wicked Strong's increased ability to relax to two things: utilizing a special three-ring bit called an "elevator bit" to help control him during daily gallops, and being regularly accompanied to the track by outrider Juan Galvez's pony.
"I think going with that big pony of Galvez's every day has helped settle him, and I also think galloping him with an elevator bit helps save his energy," said Jerkens of the Centennial Farms' color-bearer. "He's been pretty steady through the summer."
Jerkens added that Travers winner V. E. Day would likely work on Sunday or Monday in preparation for the Gold Cup.
Chad Brown's pair of Gold Cup contenders, Zivo and Last Gunfighter, breezed five furlongs in company in :59 2/5.
Zivo won the Suburban Handicap over the Gold Cup's course and distance in July before finishing fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Woodward on August 30 at Saratoga. Last Gunfighter, a four-time graded stakes winner, was sixth in the Woodward.
Whitney winner Moreno put in his lone work for the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Saturday at Saratoga, his first since finishing second in the Woodward
The four-year-old son of Ghostzapper breezed five furlongs in 1:03 1/5 over a deep Oklahoma training track for trainer Eric Guillot and owner Southern Equine Stable.
"It was just an easy maintenance move," Guillot said. "He went in 1:03 and change; it would have been :59 if it was on the main track, but the Oklahoma is tiring. He came out of it good so far; tomorrow morning will be the real test."
Guillot is looking forward to getting Moreno back to the Jockey Club Gold Cup's distance of 1 1/4 miles, as he considers it the gelding's best.
"The Suburban was his best race, and he got beat by inches in the Travers," Guillot said. "Inner fractions make the race, and at 1 1/4 miles he's allowed to set a slower pace. In the Suburban, if you look at the configuration of the starting gate, he had to be used up to get to the lead from post 11, and they still had to come get him in the last sixteenth. (In the Jockey Club Gold Cup), I'm hoping for post 5 and in."
Brown, Clement stars gear up on Belmont turf
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Real Solution and Stephanie's Kitten together traveled five furlongs on the firm Belmont Park turf in 1:01 4/5 on Saturday, one week ahead of their respective engagements on Super Saturday.
Real Solution is aiming for the Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at 1 1/2 miles, with Stephanie's Kitten pointed toward the Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles. Both have already posted Grade 1 scores on the Belmont Park turf course, with Real Solution having won the Manhattan in June and Stephanie's Kitten taking the 2013 Just a Game.
Also probable for the Flower Bowl is Alterite, who is owned by Martin Schwartz. Alterite, victorious in the 2013 Garden City at Belmont, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 in company with Minorette, who is on target for Keeneland's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on October 11.
Trainer Christophe Clement sent out a pair of turf mares on Saturday morning at Belmont Park to log their final breezes in advance of the Flower Bowl. According to Clement, either Irish Mission or Aigue Marine will enter the Flower Bowl, while the other will be pointed to the Rodeo Drive, also next Saturday, at Santa Anita.
Irish Mission, winner of the 1 3/8-mile Glens Falls on August 23 at Saratoga in her latest start, went four furlongs in :48 over a very firm Belmont turf course. The daughter of Giant's Causeway was transferred to Clement at the start of her five-year-old campaign, and earned her first victory of 2014 in the Glens Falls after near misses in the Matchmaker at Monmouth Park and the inaugural running of the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup against males.
Aigue Marine breezed five furlongs on the turf in 1:01 1/5 in company with European import Belle de Lawers. Most recently fifth in the Glens Falls, Aigue Marine has one win and two seconds through five starts in 2014, with her lone victory coming in the 1 3/8-mile Robert G. Dick Memorial on July 5 at Delaware Park.
"Irish Mission had a very nice work," Clement said. "We'll see how she comes out of it, but the plan is to run her in the Flower Bowl or the Rodeo Drive. She might go to California; she likes a very fast turf course.
"Aigue Marine also worked well; she will go to the other (race), which in this case is probably the Flower Bowl. We'll see how she comes out of it. I've got two fillies who are training well; one will go (to California) and one will stay here."
Itsmyluckyday breezes for Kelso, Palace for Vosburgh
Woodward winner Itsmyluckyday likely will not be taking the conventional route to the November 1 Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita. Rather than use the Jockey Club Gold Cup as a stepping stone to the $5 million Classic, the colt's trainer, Eddie Plesa, has opted instead for the $400,000 Kelso on September 27.
"We thought (the Kelso) was the best fit for him right now," Plesa said. "He's very efficient at a mile, and it makes no difference whether it's one turn or two turns."
The son of Lawyer Ron first made a splash on the 2013 Triple Crown trail, when he won the Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull before finishing second in the Florida Derby. The Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa-owned colt went on to finish 15th in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Preakness, but his year ended prematurely after he was injured in Monmouth Park's Pegasus in mid-June.
As a four-year-old, Itsmyluckyday has returned better than ever. The dark bay colt started his year with a fourth-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, but then rattled off consecutive victories in the Best of the Rest, the Majestic Light and Salvator Mile, all at Monmouth.
After finishing second in the Whitney behind Moreno, Itsmyluckyday turned the tables on that foe with a rousing triumph in the Woodward following a stretch-long duel. The win gave Itsmyluckyday his first Grade 1 score.
On Saturday morning, the Plesa-trained colt put in his final work before the Kelso, going four furlongs in :49 4/5 at his home base of Monmouth Park.
"It was just what we wanted," Plesa said. "He galloped out strongly and finished (his workout) in 11 (seconds) and change. He's coming into the race at 110 percent."
Palace, winner of back-to-back Grade 1s at Saratoga, turned in his final serious move for the $400,000 Vosburgh on September 27, covering five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 on Belmont's training track Saturday morning.
"He's ready," said trainer Linda Rice of the five-year-old New York-bred son of City Zip. "He's in good shape. Everything went well with the breeze, and we're ready for Saturday."
At Saratoga, Palace swept the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap and Forego.
"He's coming off two Grade 1 wins, so obviously we're just trying to hold him at that level so he's up the winning Grade 1s at Belmont," she added. "He's been in great shape, great form and we're hoping to hold that as long as we can.
"It's kind of hard to keep a horse that good that long, so that's why I ran him at Saratoga -- when they're good, run them, because if you sit on them too long, before you know it something goes the wrong way," Rice added.
Palace is 3-2-0 from six starts this year, with his other victory coming in the True North at Belmont on June 6.
Carve breezes for Homecoming Classic at Churchill
"We'll wait and see the post positions and see who all is running," the horseman explained. "I'd say he'll be close. I don't know if he'll be right on the lead but at least stalking up there close. He sure is doing well though."
Given the two-turn comment, Cox said if Carve were to win the Homecoming Classic, he would be more likely to point him to the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile versus the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic.
"I don't think he wants to go much further than 1 1/8 miles," Cox said. "So if he runs a big one and we decide to go to the Breeders' Cup, we'd probably point him to the Dirt Mile over the Classic."
Wigmore Hall photos cause uproar in British racing industry
Two-time Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf winner Wigmore Hall was euthanized September 13 after injuring himself in a Doncaster handicap. The incident has caused an uproar in the British racing industry after the mainstream paper Daily Mirror published photos Saturday of the seven-year-old gelding being euthanized.
"It's a very insensitive thing to publish," said Wigmore Hall's trainer, Michael Bell. "The first thing I picked up on was that the journalist referred to Wigmore Hall as 'it,' and that sums up his lack of understanding of the situation. The love we have for horses, people who work with them day in and day out -- no one ever calls a horse it.'
"Those of us who work in the industry love them the most -- you only need to go into any yard to see that they are loved and adored," Bell added. "The vets did an astounding job, they were on the scene in 30 seconds and they have to make an instant decision. Sometimes it is better for them to deal with it quickly than let the horse suffer. The most important thing is the welfare of the horse."
Bell continued, "Everyone has a mobile phone with a camera on it these days and that appears to be where the photos have come from. I just don't see the plus side of printing them -- it is very distressing for us. After losing one of our favorites we then have to go through this. From my point of view the journalist just shows his lack of understanding of horses throughout the piece."
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has revealed that it will be seeking a meeting with the Daily Mirror to address the issue.
"We are appalled by the Daily Mirror's decision to publish these photos, and also to contextualize the images in the manner that they have," the BHA's Media Manager Robin Mounsey said. "All that the images show is a veterinary surgeon doing his job and carrying out an act of humanity to prevent an animal from suffering. They show the same actions as would be taken by a vet whether the incident was occurring on a racecourse or at home in a field, and we do not understand where the public interest lays in publishing these images or why they should be used to open a debate about horse racing.
"We will be seeking a meeting with the editor of the Daily Mirror in regards to this issue and the use of these photos in such a manner."
In addition to his Woodbine victories, Wigmore Hall won the 2011 Group 2 Jebel Hatta at Meydan prior to finishing third in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free. He banked £1,334,814 with a 7-6-5 mark from 47 starts.
Waller earns cross-country Group 1 double with Cox Plate hopefuls Sacred Falls, Foreteller
Sacred Falls established himself as one of Australia's preeminent milers with a victory in the Group 1, A$3 million Doncaster Mile at The Championships at Randwick on April 12, and the dark bay cemented that status with an eye-catching victory in his third outing as a five-year-old on Saturday in the Group 1, A$350,000 George Main.
Breaking sharply from the rail, Sacred Falls dropped back to settle in the second half of the field and saved ground under Zac Purton while Laser Hawk and the fancied three-year-old Panzer Division dictated matters up front. Behind a wall of horses initially at the top of the lane, Purton sat chilly, and when a sliver of daylight appeared between Panzer Division and Sacred Falls' stablemate Royal Descent at the 200-meter mark, Purton sent his mount through and pulled clear to win geared down.
Sacred Falls, who will now be aimed toward the Group 1, A$3 million Cox Plate on October 26, was recording his third Group 1 win in Australia -- and fourth overall -- but his first on a dry surface.
"He's a very good horse and it was good to see him win today on a good track," trainer Chris Waller told Racenet.com.au. "He is not just a wet-tracker. Prior to coming to me he won a Group 1 in New Zealand on a pretty firm track and he showed Australia today that he is not just a wet tracker -- it is as simple as that. That is his fourth Group 1 victory now, all at a mile, so what more can you ask."
Unbeaten in six outings in New Zealand to kick off his career, Sacred Falls earned his first Group 1 in the 2012 NZ Two Thousand Guineas in his initial start for Waller before crossing the Tasman to join the leading Sydney trainer's stable. The son of O'Reilly added his first local Group 1 when upending Pierro in last year's Doncaster, but had failed to find the winner's circle in seven outings prior to defending that title in April.
The dark bay performed admirably to finish second in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth a week after his Doncaster win, and was fourth in a pair of Groups 2s, the Warwick and Chelmsford, this season prior to Saturday's Randwick victory.
At Caulfield on Saturday, Foreteller provided Waller with a cross-country Group 1 double by taking the Group 1, A$400,000 Underwood under jockey Glen Boss.
The Dansili gelding saved ground in fifth about five lengths off the pace in the Underwood, wore down the leaders through the lane and had enough left to hold off the fast-finishing Happy Trails on his outside.
Like stablemate Sacred Falls, Foreteller is now bound for the Cox Plate, in which he finished fourth last year.
Foreteller has been a consistent performer in Australia's middle distance Group 1s since arriving Down Under in 2011, and he rewarded connections with a first win at the highest level in the last March's Group 1 Ranvet. He added the Group 1 Makybe Diva five starts later last September in what would prove his most recent win.
He recorded his best finish last season when third in the Group 1 Australian Cup on March 8 prior to running eighth while attempting to defend his Ranvet title on March 22. Ninth in the Group 1 The BMW to wrap up the season on April 5, Foreteller kicked off his eight-year-old campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence going 1400 meters at Caulfield on August 16 and built on that when third in the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam at Moonee Valley three weeks later.
Aqueduct fall meet stakes announced
The New York Racing Association has unveiled the stakes schedule for Aqueduct's fall meet, which commences on October 29 and ends on December 31. In total, more than $4 million in purses will be distributed across 24 stakes races.
The meet will again be anchored by the Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on November 29, which will be buttressed by the Grade 2, $400,000 Remsen, Grade 2, $400,000 Demoiselle, and Grade 3, $400,000 Comely. The same bonuses offered for last year's Cigar Mile will remain intact -- the purse jumps to $1 million for a Breeders' Cup winner, and $750,000 for a Grade 1 winner.
Opening weekend at Aqueduct will again feature a trio of stakes, including the Grade 2, $250,000 Nashua and Grade 3, $250,000 Tempted for two-year-olds, and the Grade 3, $200,000 Discovery for three-year-olds.
Other graded stakes during the meet include the Grade 3, $200,000 Long Island on November 8 and the Grade 3, $250,000 Red Smith on November 15, the final two graded stakes on the grass of the New York season. The lucrative Thanksgiving week stakes action kicks off with the Grade 3, $300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, and the Grade 2, $300,000 Go for Wand Handicap the following day.
The $100,000 Alex M. Robb for New York-breds remains the final stakes race of the meet, but will be joined for the first time by the $100,000 Bay Ridge. Other new additions to the stakes lineup include the $100,000 Notebook and Key Cents for New York-bred two-year-olds, to be run on November 16.
Breeding & Sales News
$160,000 Haynesfield, Afleet Alex colts lead Keeneland's 11th session
The chestnut was produced by Tell Me All (Vindication), a three-quarter sister to Grade 1-placed stakes scorer and sire Dr. Caton (Seattle Slew) and a half-sister to Grade/Group 3 victors Drilling for Oil (Giant's Causeway) and White Crown (Secreto). Also notable in the immediate family is 2006 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (Fr-G1) queen Confidential Lady (Singspiel). Tell Me All is a daughter of multiple stakes victress and Grade 3-placed Won't She Tell (Banner Sport), who is in turn a half-sister to 1978 Triple Crown legend and sire Affirmed.
The session's leading filly, and third best seller overall, was a $130,000 daughter of Flatter. J. T. Stable snapped up the dark bay, Hip 3449, from the consignment of Claiborne Farm, agent.
The April 12 Kentucky-bred is the third registered foal from the stakes-winning Chary (Montbrook), herself a half-sister to Grade 3-placed stakes vixen Courtesan (Street Sense). The yearling's third dam is 1995 Alabama (G1) heroine Pretty Discreet (Private Account), who is responsible for Grade 1-winning sires Discreet Cat (Forestry) and Discreetly Mine (Mineshaft). Pretty Discreet also factors as the second dam of Grade 1 star Awesome Maria (Maria's Mon).
On Friday, 289 yearlings were sold for $6,626,500, a spike of 61.5 percent from the $4,103,000 raked in by 236 horses at the 11th session last year. The $22,929 average represented a 31.9-percent jump from $17,386, while the $17,000 median climbed 41.7 percent from $12,000.
With two days remaining in the 13-day marathon, 2,442 horses have grossed $275,421,500, just 0.8 percent off the $277,578,100 recorded by 2,549 horses at this point in 2013. The cumulative average inched upward 3.6 percent, from $108,897 to $112,785, and the median rose 5.3 percent, from $57,000 to $60,000.
Saturday marks the penultimate day of trade, followed by the grand finale on Sunday, and both sessions begin at 10 a.m. (EDT).
For complete results, the catalog, updates, outs, and live video of the sale, log onto keeneland.com.
Princess of Sylmar retired
Princess of Sylmar compiled a championship-caliber season in 2013. After springing a 38-1 upset in the Kentucky Oaks, defeating Beholder, the chestnut went on to dominate the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama. She made it a Grade 1 grand slam next time in the Beldame, where she rolled past three-time Eclipse Award winner and defending Beldame champion Royal Delta.
Stanco sportingly opted to ship his New York-based star out west for the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita, where she would face Beholder on her own home track. Unfortunately, Princess of Sylmar threw in a subpar effort and trailed home last of six, while Beholder streaked to a 4 1/4-length victory. That cost Princess of Sylmar a divisional Eclipse Award as champion three-year-old filly, and lifted Beholder to her second Eclipse title.
A 19-length maiden conqueror at Penn National as a juvenile in November 2012, Princess of Sylmar kept up her momentum when rising in class at Aqueduct. She thrashed entry-level allowance foes that December, and opened her sophomore season with similar routs in both the Busanda and Busher. Her four-race winning streak was halted by Close Hatches in the 2013 Gazelle, but Princess of Sylmar gained revenge in the Kentucky Oaks, and rose to national prominence.
Canadian classic heroes Coltimus Prime, Ami's Holiday square off in Ontario Derby
On July 29, making just his second career start on dirt, the dark bay colt put together the biggest performance of his career to capture the Prince of Wales Stakes, second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, at Fort Erie. Sent to post at odds of 5-1, Coltimus Prime, with Eurico Rosa da Silva in the irons for the first time, made every pole a winning one, covering 1 3/16-miles in 1:54 2/5.
"It was the biggest moment of my career," Nixon stated. "Coming into the stretch, and looking at the fractions, I thought we had a pretty good chance to win it and when he kicked on it was awful special. He was just dynamite."
Following the Prince of Wales coup, Nixon shipped Coltimus Prime to Saratoga with big aspirations.
"We were thinking of running in the Travers," the horseman clarified. "We brought him down there and worked him over the track and he just didn't work as sharp as we would like him to, so we backed away from that plan and came home."
Since his return to Woodbine, Coltimus Prime has breezed twice over the Woodbine Polytrack, including a swift five-panel effort in 1:00 2/5 on September 14 with da Silva aboard. That sharp work matches nicely with a bullet work recorded by Coltimus Prime on July 22, just before his big effort in the Prince of Wales.
"It's a graded stake and one of the better races remaining for straight three-year-olds across North America," Nixon remarked. "It would mean a lot for Mr. Horner to get a big piece of it given that he still owns the mare (Certainly Special) and it would also help his half-sister Crysta's Court in the breeding shed as well."
To earn that special victory, Coltimus Prime will have to fend off the closing kick of Ami's Holiday, who made a breakthrough of his own when taking Woodbine's Breeders' Stakes, the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, in his first attempt on turf.
The Ivan Dalos homebred became a graded winner in October with a last-to-first rally to win the Grey Stakes and opened his sophomore campaign with a fourth-place run in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 19. The bay son of Harlan's Holiday then returned to Woodbine, where he narrowly missed in the Marine Stakes when a neck third after lacking racing room in the final strides.
Trained by Josie Carroll, Ami's Holiday put in a peak performance in the Queen's Plate, rallying from 13th position out of the difficult 15 post, to be second behind filly Lexie Lou. He continued his good form in the Prince of Wales, once again rallying while wide for show money as the favorite, before putting forth a sharp turn of foot down the lane to his turf coup in the Breeders'.
Ami's Holiday has posted a trio of quick works following the Breeders', including a September 14 move of 1:00 3/5 for five furlongs. Luis Contreras retains the mount.
Also featured on Sunday's card is the $125,000 La Lorgnette, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack stakes for three-year-old fillies. The strong eight-horse field is led by Bison City heroine Unspurned and Grade 2 vixen Llanarmon.
Line of David represented by first winner
Campaigned by Ike and Dawn Thrash, the chestnut would not race again after being purchased a month after the Derby by B. Wayne Hughes and retired to his Spendthrift Farm near Lexington, Kentucky. The colt headed to the breeding shed with a 3-0-1 mark from seven starts and $662,000 in career earnings.
Line of David, whose son Dirt Monster made his career debut a nice third-place effort in the Manzano Stakes at Woodbine on August 31, is out of the winning Capote mare Emma's Dilemma. His fourth dam is the Nashua mare Gold Digger, who ran second in the 1965 Kentucky Oaks and would go on to produce breed-shaping sire Mr. Prospector.
This female family also includes dual Canadian Horse of the Year and Eclipse Award winner Chief Bearhart as well as Grade 1 victor Forestry, both notable stallions in their own right.
Line of David, who began his breeding career in 2011 for $7,500, stood the 2014 season at Spendthrift for a $6,000 live-foal fee.
Bullheaded Boy, Temper Mint Patty headline Belmont juvenile stakes
Sunday's card at Belmont Park will be highlighted by a pair of New York-bred juvenile stakes races -- the $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard and $150,000 Joseph A. Gimma -- which will both be contested at seven furlongs on the main track, and serve as a prelude for the Sleepy Hollow and Maid of the Mist, to be run on October 18, Empire Showcase Day.
The Bongard will feature a promising collection of New York-bred two-year-olds, headed by the Todd Pletcher-trained Bullheaded Boy.
Bullheaded Boy, the 9-5 favorite on the morning-line, debuted over a sloppy track on July 31 at Saratoga in a five-furlong dash. The son of Bullsbay prompted the pace that day before edging clear to prevail by a half-length. The Gary Barber colorbearer made his next start in the Funny Cide Stakes for New York-breds at 6 1/2 furlongs, but was no match for the talented pair of Upstart and Bustin It and finished third, beaten 9 1/4 lengths.
Bullheaded Boy drew post 5, and Hall of Famer John Velazquez retains the mount.
Tizquick, trained by John Kimmel for GoldMark Farm, also had the misfortune of encountering Upstart in his first start. The $50,000 yearling purchase debuted on August 15 at the Spa, and was beaten 5 1/4 lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong affair.
Junior Alvarado will be back aboard Tizquick, who is 5-1 on the morning-line and drew post 4.
The addition of blinkers helped Saratoga Heater immensely in his second start, and continued improvement could be possible in the Bongard. Both of the Temple City colt's first two starts came over sloppy tracks at the Spa, but produced starkly different results.
In his debut, Saratoga Heater was beaten 10 lengths by Bullheaded Boy, but won by 2 1/4 lengths at second asking equipped with blinkers for the first time.
Previously trained by Al Stall, the bay colt will go out for Lisa Lewis and be ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario. Saratoga Heater colt sits at 7-2 on the morning-line and drew the rail.
Rounding out the field are Banana Thief, who broke his maiden by 5 1/2 front-running lengths on turf in his latest start; Market Conduct, a 2 1/2-length maiden victor on August 10 at the Spa; and Chloe's Wonderboy, who took a $25,000 maiden claimer on August 30 at Parx Racing.
The Gimma, which is restricted to fillies, is headlined by impressive debut winner Temper Mint Patty. The Congrats filly broke her maiden by a neck on August 29 at Saratoga in a gritty performance for trainer Dale Romans. She tracked a swift pace along the inside that day, was put to a drive rounding the far turn, and overhauled My Super Nova, who will also contest the Gimma, in the final jumps.
"I wish they all were as easy to train as her," Romans said. "She has a lot of talent, and hopefully will improve off (her debut). She was so professional already, and she's just been staying the course since that race. (Seven furlongs) won't be a problem for her. She sat behind horses, took dirt, and came running."
Temper Mint Patty, 4-1 on the morning-line, drew the rail and will be ridden again by Irad Ortiz Jr.
My Super Nova will represent trainer George Weaver in the Gimma. The daughter of Super Saver dueled through strong fractions in her unveiling on August 29, but succumbed late to Temper Mint Patty.
Joel Rosario takes the return call on My Super Nova, 7-2 on the morning-line, and the pair will depart from post 6.
The Gimma also features stakes winner Myfourchix, 3-1 on the morning-line. The Rick Schosberg-trained bay filly commenced her career with a strong second-place finish on July 30 at Saratoga. Rather than enter her back in a maiden race, Schosberg decided to take a shot in the 6 1/2-furlong Seeking the Ante Stakes on August 24 at the Spa and was rewarded with a three-length victory.
Cornelio Velasquez will again ride Myfourchix, and the duo drew the outermost post 7.
The field will also be joined by Hard to Stay Notgo, a sharp maiden winner on August 6 at Saratoga; Evrybdymstgetstonz, runner-up in the Lady Finger Stakes at Finger Lakes in her most recent outing; and Freudie Annie and Majestic Bloom, who broke their maidens on turf at first asking.
Miss Behaviour tackles competitive Charles Town Oaks
"That (Delta Princess) was a mile at the end of a long campaign and shipping across the country and she probably just wasn't at her best that day. In the Victory Ride and Test she proved her worth against the best fillies in the country going six and a half or seven furlongs," he said.
"The bullring (at Charles Town) plays to her advantage. Hopefully she'll be on or near the lead turning for home and the closers will have to pick up their rally on the turn and weave through traffic on the turn rather than making their move."
With his filly installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite, Schoenthal hopes for an effort that keeps his stable star moving forward in the ranks of the country's top female sprinters.
"She is without question the greatest horse I've ever been around," he praised. "I want everyone to see how special she is."
Miss Behaviour will get a new pilot in jockey Jevian Toledo on Saturday.
Size is something of a puzzle in this race following a resounding defeat in the Alabama, but could return to form on the cutback to seven furlongs.
"The purse and the distance are the reasons to try the Oaks," trainer Bill Mott remarked. "We think she could be effective. She's proven that she's pretty good at a mile and a sixteenth. We think between she could be effective between seven furlongs and a mile and a sixteenth."
The First Samurai filly opened her career with three wins and a second over the spring and early summer, including victory in the Iowa Oaks on June 28. She was given seven weeks off following that contest and returned August 16 for the Alabama at Saratoga.
Unfortunately, Size was ninth and last in that 10-furlong contest, her first time running farther than 1 1/16 miles. The chestnut miss might enjoy Saturday's cutback in distance and keeps Junior Alvarado in the irons.
"I don't know what happened," Mott added. "She didn't want any part of a mile and a quarter. At least on that day she didn't."
Saintly Joan and Aqua Regia faced off in the Monmouth Oaks last out with the latter finishing second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of her third-place running rival. However, once the race had been declared official, their order had been reversed by the stewards. That gave Saintly Joan, winner of the Little Silver two races prior, the runner-up spot while Aqua Regia was forced to settle for third in just her second stakes attempt.
Come Saturday night, McBurney just hopes Saintly Joan not only gets a better trip, but also handles the configuration of the Charles Town oval.
"You never know when a horse shipping in will handle those turns, but we'll see," he added. "She's a good-sized, big three-year-old filly. Her running style is that she likes to be in the mix. Hopefully, we'll get a good stalking trip."
Stormy Novel ran second to Miss Behaviour in the Miss Preakness on May 16 and hasn't been seen in competition since taking the July 20 Miss Woodford. The John Servis charge will break from the rail while making her return in this spot under Kendrick Carmouche.
"To me, she went into the race really, really good, and she ran second out of the one hole, but it proved to me she was a quality filly," Servis said of Stormy Novel's effort in the Miss Preakness. "I ran her back a little soon in the Jostle, and it was home (at Parx), but it was too quick back for her. So I gave her some time, and she ran super in the Monmouth race (winning the Miss Woodford) and she's doing great for this race."
After winning the Miss Woodford, Servis decided to give his filly two months off -- a decision he attributes to little else but timing.
"The only other race in our timeframe was the Prioress, but I'd have to ship to Saratoga and then come right back in three weeks and ship to Charles Town," he explained. "I just figured I'd skip the Prioress and go right to this. My filly's doing awesome. If I'm not top three, she's just not good enough."
Also of note in the Charles Town's feature contest Saturday are Executive Allure and Nesso. The former scored her opening two races this year and exits a runner-up effort in Woodbine's Ontario Colleen. Nesso won the seven-furlong Gasparilla at Tampa Bay Downs in January and is already on her fourth trainer.
Stakes vixen Kiss to Remember and dual stakes-placed Pixie Dust complete the main body of the field. Discreetly Elusive, a half-length third in the Miss Woodford two back, and Saratoga maiden-claiming romper Sky Crew need defections to draw in from the also-eligible list.
There are five other stakes on the Race for the Ribbon card. Pants on Fire faces seven rivals in the $100,000 Wild and Wonderful going seven furlongs off a neck second in the Left Bank at Belmont Park on September 5. That followed a half-length second in the Philip H. Iselin and a third to open his seven-year-old season in the July 27 Monmouth Cup.
One race later, an overflow field of 12 distaffers has been entered to go the same distance in the $100,000 Pink Ribbon. Multiple Grade 2-placed Strike the Moon, the 2011 Charles Town Oaks heroine, finished second in this event 12 months ago and will take on multiple stakes queen Geeky Gorgeous and Flattering Bea, who is 5-4-0-0 over the track including the April 19 Sugar Maple.
There are three $50,000 stakes also scheduled, each carded at 4 1/2 furlongs and restricted to registered West Virginia-breds -- the It's Only Money for three-year-olds and up, the Henry Mercer Memorial for juveniles and the Rachel's Turn for two-year-old fillies which will kick off the stakes action for the day.
Multiple Grade 1 winner Goldencents (Into Mischief) is scheduled to make his turf debut in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland on October 4. "We like the timing and the distance," trainer Doug O'Neill said in explaining the reason for the move to grass after a 16-race campaign on dirt and synthetic, including a 4 1/4-length score in the Pat O'Brien S. (G1) at seven furlongs on Del Mar's Polytrack August 24. "He acts like he'll run on anything, so we thought we'd give it a try," O'Neill said. "If all goes well we'll probably come back in the (Breeders' Cup) Dirt Mile ([G1] October 31), but if he were to run a Wise Dan-type of performance (in the Shadwell), then you never know. But the Shadwell is a great fit on our calendar. It works out well and the horse is doing great. We know he likes to travel, so we're going to try it and see what happens." The Breeders' Cup would be Goldencents' last race. The four-year-old colt owned by W.C. Racing is headed for stud at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky after that where he will stand for $12,500...
Dual champion Beholder (Henny Hughes), fully recovered from an injury in the Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park June 7, makes her first start since when she defends her title in the $300,000 Zenyatta S. (G1) at Santa Anita on September 27. "She'll have one more work (Saturday) and we're ready to go," Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. Mike Smith takes over on Beholder for Gary Stevens, who is poised to ride again after recovering from knee replacement surgery. "Smith is at the top of his game and he's a top rider," Mandella said. Meanwhile, Santa Anita Oaks (G1) and Las Virgenes S. (G1) winner Fashion Plate (Old Fashioned) had been considered for the Zenyatta pending a workout this weekend, but Simon Callaghan called an audible. "We're not going to run" the trainer said Friday morning. "She's fine. We're just going to wait."...
Bargain claim Big Macher (Beau Genius) worked six furlongs in company on Santa Anita's main track Wednesday in 1:13 flat under Tyler Baze, after which trainer Richard Baltas said he was undecided on running the former $20,000 claimer in the $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) on October 4. Big Macher won the Bing Crosby S. (G1) at Del Mar July 27, then disappointed in the Pat O'Brien (G2) on August 24, finishing sixth of seven, beaten 11 1/4 lengths. "The Santa Anita Sprint Championship is a possibility," Baltas said after the work. Asked his take on the disappointing showing in the O'Brien, Baltas had a candid response. "I think I ran him back too quick. His blood wasn't perfect after the race. It was nothing major but something was a little bit off. He came back sound, so I assumed it was just the four-month layoff (from winning the Potrero Grande (G2) at Santa Anita on April 12 to capturing the Crosby) and then coming back in the O'Brien in less than four weeks."...
Citing a healthy equine inventory and increasing demand, Santa Anita and the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) have announced that two additional race dates -- October 16 and 29 -- have been added to Santa Anita's upcoming Autumn Meet, which opens on September 26. The Autumn Meet will now offer fans and horsemen 25 racing days, to be highlighted by the two-day Breeders' Cup World Championships on October 31 and November 1. "There is a great deal of anticipation for our upcoming meet and we feel these two additional dates will be well received by everyone," said Santa Anita President Tom Ludt. "Our racing calendar here in Southern California is still in a transitional stage and we're confident this will help to better fulfill everyone's needs." The first additional date, October 16, will follow a special Columbus Day of racing on October 13. The second date, October 29, will ensure that Santa Anita will conduct a five-day race week leading into the Breeders' Cup, thus providing live racing to potential thousands of Cup visitors. Closing day is November 2...
Trainer David Simcock has reported that Trade Storm (Trade Fair) and Sheikhzayedroad (Dubawi) -- who handed the conditioner a Grade 1 double in the Woodbine Mile and Northern Dancer on Sunday -- have both exited their efforts in good order and could log more air miles in the near future. "The two horses have arrived back happy and well," Simcock said. "They'll be given an easy few days during which we will discuss options with their connections. Sheikhzayedroad could possibly go to Ascot (for the Champion S. [Eng-G1] on October 18), but only if it came up very soft, or probably back to Canada for the (Canadian) International ([Can-G1] on October 19). Sheikh Fahad will decide whether Trade Storm goes to America for the Breeders' Cup Mile (on November 2) or to Australia for his next run (in the Cox Plate [Aus-G1] on October 26)," Simcock added...
In Friday's €80,000 La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte (Fr-G3), Fractional (Manduro) was settled toward the back of midpack early by Maxime Guyon. The Andre Fabre trainee needed to be rousted along as the contest entered the final quarter-mile but responded to grab the advantage with 100 meters remaining and outstay Singapore Airlines International Cup (Mal-G1) runner-up and Arlington Million (G1) sixth Smoking Sun (Smart Strike). "We felt beforehand that he was back to his best and he proved it today," Godolphin's Lisa-Jane Graffard commented. "The race went very well for him -- he was very relaxed throughout and quickened nicely. Today was his main target and we have no plans for him at the moment." Third in the Prix Eugene Adam (Fr-G2) over Friday's track and 10-furlong trip in July 2012, Fractional went on to success in the listed Prix de Tourgeville and Prix Quincey (Fr-G3) going a mile at Deauville the following month before heading for the shelf. On a roll coming into this on the back of mile conditions scores at Lyon-Parilly and Longchamp, the bay signaled his return to better company with a game win moving back up to this distance for the first time since his sophomore days...
Milam (Street Sense) enters Saturday's $100,000 Dogwood S. (G3) at Churchill Downs ready for a rematch with Fiftyshadesofgold (My Golden Song), whom she finished a half-length behind in the Eight Belles S. (G3) on Kentucky Oaks Day. Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Milam finished third in her last effort, the June 29 Victory Ride (G3) at Belmont Park. "Fiftyshadesofgold is one of the horses to beat," Kenneally said. "She's a tough horse but we're doing as well as we possibly can, so we'll see. I think it'll be a close race for sure. The race came up tough; it's a solid, deep race. Milam's doing really well; she hasn't run in a little while but she's worked over the Churchill track a couple of times this month and she's ready to run." Milam's last breeze under the Twin Spires came September 13 with a half-mile workout in :49. "She's been consistent all along," Kenneally said. "She likes the track and ran a big race in the Eight Belles at seven furlongs so it's an ideal spot for her."...
Mike Mayo, a handicapping tournament mainstay and the longtime chairman of the NHC Players' Committee, passed away Thursday after a brief illness. Mike and his wife, Marsha, were familiar faces at racetracks and handicapping tournaments around the country, including at the NHC, where he was a 10-time qualifier. As chairman of the NHC Players' Committee, Mayo was a tireless advocate for the horseplayer and a staunch believer that the NHC could help grow the popularity of horse racing. Under Mayo's steady hand, the committee helped set the stage for the 2008 launch of the NHC Tour, which connects tournaments through a points system and prize money. He was a longtime proponent of a "Final Table" format for the NHC. His vision become reality earlier this year when the NHC instituted a "Final 50" and "Final Table." Several years ago, Mayo sent a letter to the NTRA formally requesting that the organization appoint a horseplayer to its board of directors. He felt strongly that horseplayers, whose wagering dollars fuel every aspect of the industry, deserved a seat and voice at the table. In August, Judy Wagner became the first horseplayer elected to serve on the 13-member NTRA board. Funeral arrangements for Mayo are pending. Horseplayers and friends are asked to consider a contribution to Old Friends retirement farm, to go toward the care of the beautiful animals that brought him so much pleasure. Contributions can be made directly to Old Friends, 1841 Paynes Depot Road, Georgetown, Kentucky 40324 or online via PayPal at oldfriendsequine.org...
Grade 3 hero Divine Oath (Broken Vow) will square off against six sophomore rivals in Saturday's $150,000 Kent (G3) at Delaware Park. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Divine Oath will receive class relief in the 1 1/8-mile turf affair following a sixth in the Secretariat (G1) on the Arlington Million undercard. He captured the American Derby (G3) two starts back and will pick up a new rider in Jose Caraballo. Stakes victor Cabo Cat (Kitten's Joy) exits a third in the Saranac (G3) at Saratoga and Bashart (War Front), a Grade 2-winning juvenile, was fourth in the same event while making his first attempt for trainer Michael Matz. Craftsman (Craftsman) is the lone horse with a win over the Delaware turf, capturing the Nick Shuk Memorial two starts back for Graham Motion...
Newbury plays host to the sprinting juveniles on Saturday, with Strath Burn (Equiano) bidding to cement his burgeoning reputation in the £75,000 Mill Reef S. (Eng-G2). Following a clear-cut maiden success in his July 3 debut going five furlongs over the track, the bay was denied a half-length by Kool Kompany (Jeremy) in the Prix Robert Papin (Fr-G2) going a half-furlong farther at Maisons-Laffitte on July 20. "This race has always been the plan, as we were keen not to over-race him this season," trainer Charlie Hills told PA Sport. "He's a horse we really like and he'll be even better next season. We've been pleased with his work at home and he looks to have a nice chance." Unbeaten so far and the last rival to get the better of Strath Burn's classy stablemate Cotai Glory (Exceed and Excel) is Limato (Tagula), who was clearly the better of the two when they clashed in the July 18 listed Rose Bowl S. over Saturday's track and six-furlong trip last out. Conditioner Henry Candy is taking a cautious approach with Limato after being forced to sidestep the Gimcrack (Eng-G2) at York last month due to a bad scope. "His form is good and he's obviously a good horse," Candy told PA Sport. "He's had two courses of antibiotics and his training has been a bit stop-start, so I'd just be a bit worried in that regard. He seems well now, but you'd just have to be a little worried how much it has affected him. I mustn't be too downbeat, though, as he's a very exciting horse." The unexposed types will be tested by Jungle Cat (Iffraaj), who has been either second or third in four consecutive Group 2 races, and also Norfolk (Eng-G2) scorer Baitha Alga (Fast Company). Trainer Richard Hannon is hoping for a return to his prior best from Baitha Alga, who was inexplicably poor when last of nine in the Gimcrack and is forced to carry a penalty for his Royal Ascot exploits. "Nothing came to light as to why Baitha Alga ran so poorly in the Gimcrack, but we have suffered some surprise reverses in two-year-old races at York before and just put it down to a bad day at the office," Hannon remarked. "That is the only blip on his CV -- his overall form is very sound and he is a real professional so, despite the three-pound penalty, we feel that he will run his race. He worked very nicely under Kieran O'Neill on Tuesday, switching off beautifully, which he didn't do at York."...
France's elite juveniles are beginning to build toward their all-important autumn targets, with Saturday's €80,000 Prix des Chenes (Fr-G3) at Longchamp the first pointer for the Criterium International (Fr-G1), and as usual it is to Andre Fabre that all refer as the record-holding trainer looks for an eighth edition. Of his pair, De Treville (Oasis Dream) has yet to disappoint, and the 850,000 guineas purchase will remain exciting until his fortunes dip. With just a July 17 seven-furlong maiden win to his name at Chantilly, the son of the high-class Dar Re Mi (Singspiel) has a lot to prove but has the pedigree to hit the heights and is in the right hands to be guided in that direction. Interestingly, the rival that De Treville had back in second last out was beaten out of sight by Evasive's First (Evasive) in the August 2 listed Prix des Jouvenceaux des Jouvencelles going seven furlongs at Vichy, and he sets a marginal standard. July 13 listed Prix Roland de Chambure winner Kenfreeze (Kendargent) represents the form of Longchamps's Prix la Rochette (Fr-G3), having been fifth behind Full Mast (Mizzen Mast) in that September 7 highlight, while Cherek (Paco Boy) is open to improvement after his August 30 Deauville maiden score...
Later on Longchamp's Saturday program, the €80,000 Prix du Prince d'Orange (Fr-G3) offers the latecomers a final chance to enter the Arc picture and one who could yet book a ticket to the showcase event is unbeaten Orienteer (Dansili). Brought along steadily by Andre Fabre so far, the homebred descendant of the high-class All at Sea (Riverman) beat subsequent Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-G1) runner-up Shamkiyr (Sea the Stars) in his April 3 debut going 10 furlongs at Maisons-Laffitte prior to a five-month lay-off. Back with a win over Saturday's course and 10-furlong distance on September 4, Orienteer faces an examination of his raw material in this spot with the likes of Free Port Lux (Oasis Dream) in attendance. Having beaten subsequent top-level scorers Adelaide (Galileo) and Gallante (Montjeu) in the 11-furlong Prix Hocquart (Fr-G2) on May 11, the bay was only 14th in the Jockey Club at Chantilly on June 1 and fourth in the Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-G1) going 12 furlongs at Longchamp on July 13 before running second in Deauville's Prix Guillaume d'Ornano (Fr-G2) back at this distance on August 15...
Horsemen are reminded that the Horses of Racing Age section of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's 2014 Fall Mixed Sale is closing on Monday. The consignor contract form is available via the OBS website. A total of 468 horses are presently cataloged for the Mixed Sale, scheduled to begin on October 14 with Hip Numbers 1-238 selling in the consignor preferred session. Hips 239-470 in the open session will be offered on October 15 followed immediately by the Horses of Racing Age section. Both sessions begin at 10:30 a.m. (EDT). An optional under tack show is scheduled for October 13 at 10 a.m. (EDT). As always, the sale and under tack show will be streamed live via the OBS website, which will also offer a sortable master index providing searchable pedigree and consignor information as well as access to pedigree updates occurring since the catalog was printed...
Jim Pegram will handle business at the upcoming Santa Anita fall meet for 20-year-old newcomer Alex Canchari, who missed tying for the recent Canterbury Park riding title by one win. He tied with Dean Butler at 63 each, one behind winner Ry Eikleberry. "I missed 28 days of the meet and still almost won the title," said Canchari, a native of Shakopee, Minnesota, who is of Peruvian descent. "My father is from the same home town (Arequipa) as Rafael Bejarano."...
The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame will offer free general admission on Saturday, September 27, as part of Smithsonian magazine's 10th annual Museum Day Live! program. The Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (EDT). A nationwide event, Museum Day Live! offers free admission to visitors presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket. The Museum Day Live! ticket is available via download at Smithsonian.com/museumdaylive. One ticket is permitted per household, per email address. Visitors who present the ticket will be granted free admission for two people to the Museum on September 27 only...
Trainer Neil French is in Arcadia (California) Methodist Hospital after suffering a serious injury to his left leg in a fall at his barn early this week. "I saw him two days ago, just a day after surgery, and he was pretty comfortable and doing well that evening, but he said he was in intensive care the day before," trainer Richard Mandella said. French stable foreman Tomas Nunez said Friday morning that he had visited his 62-year-old boss the previous day and he was talking and in good spirits.
NORTH AMERICAN ALLOWANCE RESULTS
North American Maiden Winners
SEPTEMBER 19, 2014
by Dick Powell
Great horses returning off a layoff at short odds are a recipe for pari-mutuel ruin. If they win, you barely win. If they lose, you lose. Not much reward for the risk. California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) fits that bill this Saturday in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) going nine furlongs at Parx Racing.
The winner of four straight graded stakes, including three Grade 1s and the first two legs of the Triple Crown, California Chrome was given a brief rest after the Belmont Stakes before returning to the workout tab at the start of August and looks like he has progressed in his training to be ready to go on Saturday.
Luckily, he does not carry a lot of weight so as long as he is sound -- and it looks like he is with his workouts on schedule each week -- he won't take too long to be fit and ready. And, he will have to be as the $1 million purse and nine-furlong distance has attracted a decent field.
For betting purposes, anything less than even-money is unacceptable. He is the most logical winner of the race by far but what usually happens in these kinds of races is that the next most logical contenders tend to get overbet as well.
Bayern (Offlee Wild) is back off his Travers (G1) debacle where we will never know if he could get 10 furlongs after being strangled early and out of the race before a mile was run. If the Bayern who won the Haskell (G1) going nine furlongs shows up, it should be a real horse race with California Chrome.
The problem is that I don't think he will be close to the 7-2 morning-line so we have the chance of having not one, but two overbet horses.
If both of the most logical winners are overbet, it's time to take a serious look at the less logical winners. Weighing the chance of winning and pari-mutuel return, I give Protonico (Giant's Causeway) a serious shot at a price even though he is trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano.
What Protonico has going for him is a win over the track in the Smarty Jones (G3), a pedigree that should see him get better with time and he still has an upside with only five career starts.
The dark bay made his 2014 debut a winning one off a seven-month layoff at Belmont where he beat first-level optional claiming foes going a mile. He came back a month later for his two-turn debut at Saratoga going nine furlongs in the Curlin Stakes where he was part of a three-way photo behind subsequent Travers winner V. E. Day (English Channel).
Not quite ready for the 10-furlong Travers, Pletcher set his sights on the lucrative Pennsylvania Derby for Protonico and used the Smarty Jones to get a race over the track. Farther back in the pack than normal, the colt raced between horses in the second tier behind a strong pace. At the top of the stretch, he looked hopelessly beat but Joe Bravo found room and split horses to make an improbable late run to get up at the wire.
Protonico earned a career-best BRIS Speed rating of 97, which doesn't put him in the mix here unless he can improve off that effort and go forward again. By Giant's Causeway, the Kentucky-bred is the first foal to race out of Alpha Spirit (A.P. Indy), who is herself a daughter of a Delaware H. (G2) winner.
Offspring of Giant's Causeway get better with age and this one looks to be no exception. Another reason I think that Protonico still has an upside is that he missed the entire Triple Crown campaign. He started getting cranked up at Payson Park in December but went to the sidelines until he showed up on the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga in May.
Unlike the other Pletcher three-year-olds who are usually toast this time of year from racing on the concrete at Gulfstream Park, Protonico has been a fresh horse in the second half of the year and he could make some noise, at a price, in Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby.
In the race before the Derby, the $1 million Cotillion (G1) will be run for three-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the main track and it has attracted a stellar field.
Untapable (Tapit) is the 7-5 favorite despite finishing up the track against males in the Haskell. She had dominated her division prior to that with monster wins in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Mother Goose (G1). The daughter of Tapit has the typical series of easy breezes for trainer Steve Asmussen and gets Rosie Napravnik back aboard.
When Asmussen sent Untapable to the Haskell, it opened the door for the other sophomore fillies at Saratoga and Stopchargingmaria (Tale of the Cat) took advantage of her absence better than anyone. She won the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) by five lengths going nine furlongs then came back and captured the Alabama (G1) by three parts of a length going 10 furlongs.
Looming behind the top two is three-time Grade 1 winner Sweet Reason (Street Sense). She won the one-mile Acorn (G1), so another sixteenth of a mile should not be a big deal but the only win she has going two turns is against allowance foes on the inner dirt track.
Still, the bay miss comes in here in great form and her late kick is devastating. Can she unleash it going two turns is the big question. So far, the record shows that Sweet Reason is a long sprinter. With experience and maturity, can she be a middle distance filly going two turns? We'll see on Saturday in a race with Breeders' Cup implications for two races.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2014
Study: Furosemide not Necessary to Realize Long-Term Racing Careers
Editor's Note: The Jockey Club believes that horses should compete only when they are free from the influence of medication. The following essay, written by Matt Iuliano, the executive vice president and executive director of The Jockey Club, provides insights into a recent study pertaining to exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) and long-term racing performance.
by Matt Iuliano
A team of highly respected, international researchers and scientists recently found that in 98 percent of horses they studied there was no association between exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) determined after an endoscopic examination and long-term racing performance.
The findings challenge some long-held opinions in North American racing, including the contention that the use of the diuretic furosemide -- sold under the trade name Salix and commonly known as Lasix -- is necessary to ensure the long-term careers of equine racing athletes.
The study, "Prospective study of the association between exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage and long-term performance in Thoroughbred racehorses," was conducted by Kenneth Hinchcliff, B.V.Sc., Ph.D., a longtime researcher of EIPH and professor of veterinary science at the University of Melbourne in Australia, and Paul S. Morley, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at Colorado State University.
It was published online in the Equine Veterinary Journal this spring.
The unique, long-term study found a lack of significant association between EIPH and a productive racing career, except in the most severe cases. The researchers reviewed the careers of 744 horses racing in Australia, where race-day medication is prohibited. The vast majority of those horses had productive racing careers without the use of furosemide.
In 2003, those horses had been examined for EIPH and were the subjects of a study into how EIPH affected performance in a single race. For their latest report, the researchers reviewed the entire careers of those horses to determine how their EIPH status affected their racing records.
EIPH is graded on a scale of 0 to 4, with 0 indicating the lowest, or no, indications of EIPH on endoscopic examination and 4 being the highest, often including epistaxis, or bleeding from the nostrils. The original Melbourne study found that horses with either no indication or the slightest indication of EIPH had better finish positions. Horses with mild to more moderate indications of EIPH were more often associated with impaired racing performance in the single race that was studied.
The latest study goes beyond a single race to look at entire racing careers.
Whereas the first study found that horses with EIPH grades greater than 1 had impaired racing performances, this latter study found no statistically significant difference among horses with EIPH graded from 0 to 3 in terms of:
* Duration of careers on the racetrack,
Only those horses with the most severe EIPH of grade 4 (1.7 percent of the population) had a significant reduction in lifetime racing performance.
When the data was grouped, the authors reported that horses with EIPH scores of 2, 3 and 4 started an average of 2.8 fewer times during their lifetime when compared to horses with EIPH scores of 0 and 1. However, they noted the difference in lifetime starts was highly influenced by the low number of race starts in horses with EIPH graded as 4.
Many of the horses with EIPH graded as 4 were retired from racing early on, which reduced the average number of lifetime starts for any group that included those horses.
The lifetime racing performances of horses with EIPH that continued to race indicate these horses were successfully managed over a productive racing career in a jurisdiction where furosemide was not permitted.
Reviewing all the data, the researchers in the most recent comprehensive study concluded:
"The lack of significant associations between the most common forms of EIPH and long-term performance can be interpreted as indicating an absence of important clinical, physiological, or management factors that limit performance in these horses."
With the latest research showing that less than 2 percent of the Thoroughbred population may have impaired lifetime racing performance attributable to EIPH, it is increasingly difficult to reconcile 95 percent of all North American starts occurring after the race-day administration of furosemide.
As The Jockey Club stated in 2011, overuse of an under-needed medication is not producing a level playing field. In all likelihood, it is doing just the opposite.
We believed then and we believe now that horses should compete only when they are free from the influence of medication.
A prohibition on all race-day medications levels the field.
SEPTEMBER 18, 2014
Rail post, stalking tactics could undermine Chrome's comeback
by James Scully
California Chrome returns in Saturday's $1 million Pennsylvania Derby and the dual classic winner will need to overcome the rail post in a field of eight, the same starting position that resulted in a dead-heat fourth in the Belmont Stakes.
As much as I would love to see jockey Victor Espinoza play "catch me if you can" from the start, I think there's little chance he'll utilize a major weapon in California Chrome's arsenal -- speed.
"I just hope he has a clean trip and gets in the clear," Art Sherman said this week.
That doesn't sound like a trainer who expects to be on the early lead. Indeed, it seems that California Chrome's connections would love to drop behind and alter course to the outside of Bayern during the early stages of the Pennsylvania Derby, and we saw how that strategy played out last time.
California Chrome may not have won the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes under any circumstances, but his best chance was on the lead after he drew the innermost post in the final leg of the Triple Crown. Despite the lack of any confirmed front-runners to his outside, Espinoza refused to send his mount after breaking forwardly, taking a hold and guiding California Chrome out wide for a stalking trip in fourth.
That left Commissioner showing the way and all you have to do is look at his past performances (click here to view) to see what a massive change in form it represented for the plodder. The front-end trip resulted in career-best performance, by a wide margin, with Commissioner refusing to yield until the final stride, recording a head second.
It's easy to understand Espinoza's Belmont strategy -- the stalking trip represented the least liability for the rider. If California Chrome sets the pace and coughs up the lead in the final furlongs, everybody can question the Espinoza's tactics. If the horse stalks the pace and comes short, California Chrome simply didn't have it that day.
The problem is that his speed gets lost in the equation. California Chrome was fast enough to easily outrun Commissioner during the early stages last time, and his BRIS Early Pace ratings show that's quick enough to be showing the way in the Pennsylvania Derby.
This is the same horse who recorded a couple of tour-de-force performances on the front end during the spring, including the San Felipe in which California Chrome established pressured splits of :23 and :45 2/5 before drawing off with the utmost ease, winning by more than seven lengths.
Granted, he changed tactics winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, settling a few lengths off the early pacesetter before offering his best, but both times he was breaking from a more favorable post position.
Those races seemingly resulted in a different mindset for California Chrome's connections, one where he was no longer a speed horse but a stalker.
The rail draw complicates matters once again on Saturday, with Espinoza being forced to negotiate a favorable trip if he doesn't seize the early initiative. California Chrome has the class to lead all the way at Parx Racing if he just breaks running.
Bayern won't get caught in a suicidal duel up front following the Travers debacle and the fact that he's drawn three positions to the outside of California Chrome should guarantee a tracking trip to the outside of his main rival.
But that's not the way I envision it playing out. Bayern's connections, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Martin Garcia, would probably love to see Espinoza take another early hold, leaving Bayern in the driver's seat. And that could easily happen.
I'll go with Bayern wire to wire.
*all times Eastern
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