Coffee Clique, Testa Rossi headline Penny Memorial
Another mare with a graded win to her credit is the five-year-old Nellie Cashman (Mineshaft), who took the 2013 Virginia Oaks (G3). Fourth in the Penny Memorial last year, she took the $100,000 Dahlia at Pimlico in mid-April and was most recent fifth in the $82,000 Miss Liberty at Monmouth Park.
Others likely to attract support are the multiple Grade 3-placed Photo Call (Galileo), who was cross-entered to the $100,000 Perfect Sting at Belmont on Friday; Baffle Me (First Samurai), who has won multiple stakes at Gulfstream and Belmont in recent seasons; and Distorted Beauty (Invasor), who's placed in the Pebbles and Intercontinental at Belmont.
Homecoming Classic renamed in honor of Lukas
The former Homecoming Classic is being renamed to salute Lukas' accomplishments, contributions and influence on Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, and the horse industry. The native of Antigo, Wisconsin, will celebrate his 80th birthday on September 2. The race that now carries his name will be run for the third time on September 26. Reigning Breeders' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned won its first running in 2013 and subsequently finished fourth at Santa Anita in his bid for a repeat Classic victory. The race was won last year by Cigar Street, who would finish seventh in the Classic at Santa Anita.
Lukas, who bases his stable at Churchill Downs Barn 44 through much of the year, has won a record 14 victories in Triple Crown races, and trained a record 20 winners of Breeders' Cup races. He earned four Eclipse Awards that honored him as the nation's top trainer. At Churchill Downs, Lukas ranks second in career stakes victories (73) and fourth in total wins (510).
"Along with the enormity of the numbers of his total victories, the stakes races he has won and earnings by his stable's horses throughout his Hall of Fame career, D. Wayne Lukas forever changed both the Kentucky Derby and North America's horse industry," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs. "It is Churchill Downs' honor to salute Wayne Lukas by placing his name on this race. We are enthusiastic about the potential of the Lukas Classic and believe it will very soon be an important annual stop for older horses who are working to prepare for and earn starting spots in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
"We think the presence of Wayne Lukas' name on this race will enhance its attractiveness and its status. And we would love to see Mr. Lukas do one of the few things he has yet to do during his legendary career. Our team at Churchill Downs is confident that Wayne is a long way from entertaining any thoughts of retirement, and we hope that he will soon saddle a winner of this race, which would allow him -- for the first time -- to present a winner's trophy to himself."
The first races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks headline four stakes events on September 12, the first of three Saturdays of racing during the September Meet. Along with the Pocahontas and Iroquois, that program will feature the $100,000 Locust Grove, for fillies and mares on the main track, and the $100,000 Open Mind, which matches fillies and mares at six furlongs.
Along with the opportunity to collect the first points in the systems that will determine the starters in the 2016 Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, the Iroquois and Pocahontas provide their winners with a guaranteed starting spot in Breeders' Cup races in their divisions.
The racing program on September 19 features the $100,000 Dogwood (G3) for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs.
The final Saturday of September Meet racing on September 26 will offer three stakes events in the Lukas Classic, the $100,000 Ack Ack H. (G3) for three-year-olds and up at one mile, and the $100,000 Jefferson Cup (G3) for three-year-olds at one mile on the turf -- the only stakes race on grass during the meet.
Only two of the eight stakes races in September have changed from last year's schedule. Along with the new name for the Lukas Classic, the purse for the race was boosted by $50,000 to $175,000. The purse for the Iroquois also was increased by $50,000.
After the September racing session, Churchill Downs will have one remaining race meet in 2015. The track's traditional Fall Meet is scheduled for November 1-29, which will offer 21 racing dates on a weekly Thursday-through-Sunday schedule.
Shaman Ghost carries winning form into Queen's Plate; Attfield keen on Danish Dynaformer
"We were a little wide into the first turn as we were carried out a little bit," Hernandez said of the Marine. "I wanted to make one run and turning for home I tried to go between horses, but I had no room. It took me a little bit of kick, but this is a good horse. I took him out in the clear and he was gone."
Lynch, seeking his first Plate triumph, had unwavering faith his charge would turn things around.
"You could just see with every work, with every day that went by, he was figuring it all out," Lynch noted. "Sometimes, it's just a question of time for particular horses. I've always liked him and I always thought he'd turn out to be a good one."
Both trainer and technology agreed on the success of the duo's final Plate prep.
"With both of these horses, the E-Trakka results were really excellent. They're in great shape and I just need to keep them happy and healthy for the rest of the week," Attfield said.
Danish Dynaformer won the Plate Trial comfortably by nearly a length, but stablemate Billy's Star endured a troubled trip and wound up sixth after swerving to avoid the ill-fated Danzig Moon, who fell down the back straight.
"I can't believe he (Billy's Star) wasn't a bit body sore after his last race, he got cranked hard to avoid the fallen horse," Attfield said. "Eurico actually used him right after the incident quite a bit to get back in the race and that was probably his run there, but he still made a bit of a run in the lane. He's had other races with trouble and then major trouble in the Trial, but he's training really well and it wouldn't surprise me if he ran a big race in the Plate."
Danish Dynaformer continues to impress Attfield.
"He's a really nice horse, no question about it," Attfield said. "He's got a big turn of foot and a huge cruising speed. He cruises in the morning with 14 1/2s and 15s (eighths of a mile) consistently and you'd still be able to sit down and work him a half-mile if you wanted to. He's a very versatile horse."
Tucci Stables and trainer Nick Gonzalez teamed up to win the 2013 Queen's Plate with the front-running Midnight Aria, a 17-hands tall son of Midnight Lute. The band is back together for the 2015 Plate with Easy Indygo (Marchfield), a much smaller individual blessed with a versatile running style.
"We always kind of liked him," said Martha Gonzalez, wife and assistant to the trainer. "The distance won't be a factor as he's always ran on very well. It's a last minute decision, but the horse is doing well, so why not. Two turns is what he really wants. He's pretty versatile. He can be on the front end or he can sit back too. He's got both angles covered. He's a handy little horse."
A maiden winner in his juvenile finale, Easy Indygo has dropped all three starts this season, but does exit a pair of placings versus allowance rivals in his last two outings, including a neck third last time out on June 6. Emma-Jayne Wilson will take over from Justin Stein, who sticks with Oaks winner Academic (Henny Hughes).
"I think Emma will suit the horse," Gonzalez said. "He's one of those horses that will do what you ask him to do. Emma's a pretty aggressive rider and in that final eighth of a mile you need someone who is a very strong finisher."
Presque Isle Downs cancelled its Tuesday program due to an ongoing problem of deer invading the track's running surface, infield, and other areas of the property. Beginning Wednesday and until further notice, the track has instituted a temporary post time of 3:05 p.m. (EDT)...
Racing fans in Britain and Ireland are mourning the loss of jumps legend Kauto Star (Village Star), who was euthanized Tuesday at the age of 15 after suffering neck and pelvic injuries in a paddock accident last week. The French-bred won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2007, finished second to Denman in 2008, and became the first horse to regain the Gold Cup when winning in 2009. Kauto Star won the King George VI Chase at Kempton a record five times and the Betfair Chase (registered as the Lancashire Chase) at Haydock four times. Officially rated the best steeplechase horse in Britain four times, Timeform rate Kauto Star as the joint-third best steeplechase horse in their history, surpassed only by Arkle and Flyingbolt, and equal to Mill House. Kauto Star was retired in the fall of 2012 with 20 stakes wins and record National Hunt earnings of £2,375,883...
Jockey James Doyle, set to partner Brazen Beau (I Am Invincible) in the July 11 July Cup (Eng-G1), worked the dual Australian Group 1 winner on Newmarket's July course Tuesday and said he "wouldn't swap" his mount for any other in the prestigious contest. "He gave me the feel of exactly what he is: a top-class sprinter and a seriously fast horse; he felt great," Doyle said. "We went six furlongs and he changed his legs in all the right places. He didn't do anything strenuous; I just let him quicken up over the last couple of furlongs. I can't wait for the July Cup and I wouldn't swap him for anything else in the race, although I have the utmost respect for Muhaarar (Oasis Dream), who put up a freakish performance in winning the Commonwealth Cup (Eng-G1)." Godolphin bought into Brazen Beau after the colt won Australia's all-important Coolmore Stud S. (Aus-G1) last November, and the dark bay continued to race in the colors of On Track Thoroughbreds through his second-place finish in the Diamond Jubilee (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot. Brazen Beau will wear the Godolphin blue for the first time in the July and will be partnered by Doyle for the first time. He is trained by Chris Waller, whose traveling assistant Johanne Taylor said Waller would likely be in town to supervise the colt's final July work early next week...
Dual Group 1-winning juvenile Pride of Dubai (Street Cry) has returned to the stable of trainers Peter and Paul Snowden after taking a winter spell. The Sheikh Khalifa bin Mohammed al Maktoum homebred broke his maiden in Victoria's most important two-year-old race -- the Blue Diamond S. (Aus-G1) -- in his third start, after which Coolmore bought into him. He was an eye-catching winner of the Sires' Produce S. (Aus-G1) at The Championships April 6 before being turned out. "This is his fourth week in from the paddock and he's come back in great order," Peter Snowden told Racenet.com.au. "He's always been a big horse but has come back a little heavier this time. He has really furnished." Snowden said Pride of Dubai's two key targets for the Australian spring would be the Golden Rose S. (Aus-G1) September 12 and the Caulfield Guineas (Aus-G1) October 11. "We've just got to work out where we will kick-off the campaign," Snowden added. "He isn't going to be well weighted against the three-year-olds as he gets a 4 kg (8.8 pound) penalty for being a Group 1 winner. The Warwick S. is a 1400-meter weight-for-age race on August 22, so that might be the right option. He's a colt so it's important to protect his profile. If that means having only one or two runs into the Golden Rose then that's what we'll do."...
Oaklawn has begun construction of a new barn that will replace one of the oldest barns in the stable area and will be ready for the 2016 racing season. The new barn, a steel beam and cinder-block wall construction, replaces Barn #2, one of the few remaining older, wooden barns in the stable area. It will be very similar to the last barn constructed between the 2006 and 2007 live seasons -- named after Smarty Jones. There is no word yet on what famous racehorse with ties to Oaklawn the new barn will be named for. "Long-range, we'd eventually like to replace all of the older barns with more modern structures," Oaklawn Plant Superintendent John Hopkins said. "We've come a long way toward that goal already." The removal of Barn #2, along with another structure that was used by the maintenance department, will allow Oaklawn to gain hundreds of additional public parking spaces. In addition, the oldest horse path to the racing surface is also being replaced by a new on/off gap positioned on the south turn. "Oaklawn has always been committed to racing first and it's exciting to be in a position where we can make improvements year after year to our racing program and stable area," Director of Racing David Longinotti said. Oaklawn's 2016 live meet is scheduled for January 15-April 16. Horses will begin arriving November 16...
Trainer Christophe Clement will send out a pair of top contenders, Zindaya (More Than Ready) and Marbre Rose (Smart Strike), in Friday's $100,000 Perfect Sting at Belmont Park. The four-year-old fillies finished one-two in the June 4 Intercontinental, with Zindaya improving her mark to three-for-three on Belmont's turf with the 2 1/4-length decision over her favored stablemate. Daring Kathy (Wildcat Heir), last seen winning the My Charmer (G3) at Gulfstream Park West in late November, will make her first appearance for trainer Chad Brown in the one-mile turf affair and Grade 2 heroine Emotional Kitten (Kitten's Joy), most recently second in the Gallorette H. (G3), is also part of the 10-horse field...
An abundance of early speed might help former Canadian champion three-year-old Pender Harbour (Philanthropist) make a significant impact in Wednesday's C$150,000 Dominion Day (Can-G3) over 1 1/4 miles on Woodbine's Polytrack. The seven-year-old gelding successfully rallied to take his third Steady Growth S. going 1 1/16 miles June 6, and the dual classic winner will attempt to improve on his runner-up finish in this event three years ago. The 7-5 morning line favorite, Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) winner Red Rifle (Giant's Causeway), is one-for-two over synthetic tracks, but shares a similar front-running style as recent Evangeline Mile winner Mystery Train (Not for Sale), 2013 Queen's Plate winner Midnight Aria (Midnight Lute) and the allowance-class Smooth Stone (Giant's Causeway). Multiple Grade 2-placed Patrioticandproud (Proud Citizen) enters off a course-and-distance allowance victory, won in wire-to-wire fashion, while Ontario Derby (Can-G3) hero Florida Won (Birdstone) might improve in his second start of the year for Mark Casse. Earlier in the card, 2014 Bessarabian (Can-G2) winner Hillaby (Distorted Humor) will make her season debut in the C$100,000 Sweet Briar Too over seven furlongs. Her most serious rival in Unspurned (Lemon Drop Kid), who captured the Whimsical (Can-G3) before finishing third in the Hendrie (Can-G3) and second in the Trillium this year...
Friday's $150,000 Molly Pitcher (G3) at Monmouth Park, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, features a rematch between Stiffed (Stephen Got Even) and Got Lucky (A.P. Indy), the one-two finishers in the $97,000 Monmouth Beach on May 24. On that day, Stiffed rallied from 10 lengths back to post a 34-1 upset by a half-length over Got Lucky, a multiple Grade 2-placed four-year-old who was among the betting favorites. Also among the field of seven is Shayjolie (Indian Charlie), a stakes winner at Aqueduct in March who has gone unplaced in two starts since finishing a narrowly-beaten third in the Top Flight H. (G3).
NORTH AMERICAN ALLOWANCE RESULTS
North American Maiden Winners
Top Speed/Class ratings
TOP BRIS CLASS RATINGS
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