Triple Crown News & Notes
Keen Ice breezes six furlongs, American Pharoah walks
"American Pharoah is definitely head and shoulders above the rest of them in class, but I know we do want to go a mile and a half. I know he's feeling good; he's sitting on all cylinders. It's just a matter of if he's good enough to beat him."
Fox also spoke highly of Keen Ice, giving Romans two thumbs up as he came off the track.
"When I give two thumbs up that means that they're really ready to go," Fox said. "He is as ready as he can be. Dale's done a great job with him."
Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) winner American Pharoah got a day of rest and relaxation after breezing a half-mile in :48 on Tuesday. He did not go to the main track for exercise Wednesday. Instead, he walked around the shed row in Barn 33 where trainer Bob Baffert keeps his string of horses at Churchill Downs.
"Everything looked very good this morning," said Jimmy Barnes, Baffert's chief assistant.
Barnes also said American Pharoah would return to the track Thursday at 8:30 a.m. for a clockwise jog around the one-mile oval.
In other Belmont news, Conquest Curlinate (Curlin) jogged and galloped one mile around the main track Wednesday. Norman Casse, assistant to father Mark, said that the sophomore would likely breeze Friday or Saturday morning depending on the weather.
In other Belmont news:
With Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah and three other Belmont contenders stabled on the grounds, Churchill Downs is offering a special 8:30-8:45 a.m. training period for those horses through Tuesday. Additionally, racing fans are invited to watch those colts train from the first floor of the facility, including the new Courtyard area, free of charge.
Churchill Downs will open its Gate 17 entrance between 8-9 a.m. each morning through Tuesday so the public can watch American Pharoah along with rivals Conquest Curlinate and Keen Ice prepare for the 1 1/2-mile third jewel of the Triple Crown.
Churchill Downs' concessionaire Levy Restaurants will have coffee, juice, soda, water and doughnuts available for purchase near the Aristides Garden. Also, video of the exercises will be shown on the Big Board and infield video screens.
Those unable to attend can watch an online live stream of the daily exercises at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/workouts/live from 8:30-8:45 a.m. through Tuesday. Also, clips of the activity will be uploaded on the Kentucky Derby YouTube channel. A graphic with each horse's name will appear on the screen with the corresponding horse, although a majority of the focus will be on American Pharaoh.
NYRA details travel changes, security protocols for fans attending Belmont Stakes
This year, and for the first time, paid attendance for Belmont Stakes Day will be capped at 90,000. NYRA officials anticipate that all available tickets will be sold out prior to June 6. With this in mind, all fans are strongly encouraged to purchase admission in advance by visiting ticketmaster.com, or calling 1-800-745-3000. As of Tuesday, nearly 75 percent of all available tickets for Belmont Stakes Day have already been sold.
Fans utilizing public transportation to and from Belmont Park are urged to purchase round-trip tickets in order to further expedite their travels. Long Island Railroad (LIRR) customers can easily access schedule and fare information by visiting www.mta.info/LIRR or obtain real-time information by following @LIRR on Twitter. Updated event and transportation information will be posted on BelmontStakes.com, with fans also able to access real-time updates on Twitter by following @BelmontStakes.
Included among the many changes implemented for guests attending the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival are:
On Belmont Stakes Day and in an effort to remove cars from local roadways, while further serving fans residing in the neighboring communities of Elmont and Floral Park, NYRA has arranged for courtesy bus shuttles to operate between the Belmont Park Clubhouse entrance and these two communities on Belmont Stakes Day. These neighborhood bus shuttles will operate approximately every 20 minutes between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. (EDT) on the following schedules:
New security protocols have also been implemented for this year, with all fans subject to enhanced screening prior to entering the Belmont property. Guests attempting to enter the Clubhouse, Grandstand or the Backyard with prohibited items will be asked to return those items to their vehicles or dispose of them.
No storage will be provided for guests arriving with, or attempting to enter with prohibited items. A full list of prohibited and permitted items is available at BelmontStakes.com.
"The safety of our guests, our equine athletes, our horsemen and horsewomen and all of our employees is the top priority of the New York Racing Association," stated George Venizelos, vice president of security. "To that end, we continue working closely and collaboratively with our partners at the local, state and federal level to keep our guests safe and on the move throughout this mega event."
Miss Temple City on schedule for Royal Ascot
Motion said he'll likely work Miss Temple City at Fair Hill once before leaving.
"My inclination would be to give her a work before she left, probably over the steeplechase course," the horseman explained. "As long as the ground is all right, I want to give her a nice work under similar circumstances that she's going to have to deal with over there. Fair Hill has that. The steeplechase course, the last quarter of a mile, is uphill. I think it's a perfect scenario for her to get some experience for that.
"So that's my idea, to gallop her there once or twice and then breeze her before she leaves."
Motion also said Donworth (Tiznow), the beaten favorite when third in the May 16 Sir Barton S. at Pimlico, will likely run in the $150,000 Easy Goer S. on Belmont Stakes Day, June 6.
"All the handicappers and everyone tell me he ran his race and he was just up against the inside speed bias," Motion stated. "I think it's a fair comment to say that in retrospect. I'm not as disappointed two weeks later than I was on the day of. I think he ran his race and he was beaten by a nice horse, and he came out of the race well.
"He's such a big horse that he has trouble getting away from the gate and trouble getting around tighter turns. It's always been an issue. I think the wider turns at Belmont should help him."
Corrales enjoyed Preakness experience with Bodhisattva, now targeting Ohio Derby
Bodhisattva came out of the Preakness in good shape, Corrales added, and is being pointed toward the $500,000 Ohio Derby on June 9 at Thistledown and the $75,000 Manitoba Derby on August 3 at Assiniboia Downs.
"I was (in Manitoba) last year and had a really good experience," Corrales noted. "A lot of people don't want to take a chance to go to a small place like that."
Work All Week back in the Aristides
Grade 2 winner Nates Mineshaft (Mineshaft) enters on the upswing for Anne Smith, posting a runner-up finish against a deep field in the Churchill Downs S. (G2), and the eight-year-old will be piloted by Rafael Mojica Jr. Multiple stakes hero Gentlemen's Bet (Half Ours), third in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint, also merits respect following a fourth in the Churchill Downs. Ricardo Santana Jr. has the mount for Ron Moquett.
Eleven to compete in wide-open Penn Mile
Also invading from the West Coast is Papacoolpapacool (Temple City), a comfortable winner of the $80,000 Pasadena and $79,000 La Puente at Santa Anita, the latter at odds of 1-2. He is undefeated in three outings since joining the Phil D'Amato barn.
"He handles his foes pretty easily in his races, and he's just been training lights out," D'Amato said. "It made my decision to ship out there easy to test the waters."
Night Prowler (Giant's Causeway), the morning line favorite at 3-1, will be looking to add to his graded stakes trophy collection after wins in the Transylvania (G3) and Dania Beach (G3) earlier this season. In between those wins, the Chad Brown trainee was a rough-trip fifth in the Palm Beach (G3).
Woodwin W (More Than Ready) has started his career with four straight wins, the most recent being a three-quarters of a length score in the $100,000 James W. Murphy at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard two weeks ago. The runner-up, stakes winner Force the Pass (Speightstown), is back to oppose.
Others who might move forward are Granny's Kitten (Kitten's Joy), who has won both starts including a Churchill Downs allowance May 10; Commanche's Storm (Pollard's Vision), runner-up in the $75,000 English Channel at Gulfstream last time; and High Noon Rider (Distorted Humor), runner-up to Force the Pass in the $60,000 Cutler Bay at Gulfstream prior to a recent allowance win.
His main rivals figure to be the pair he just defeated at Old Hilltop -- Jim McKay runner-up Bold Thunder (Bold n' Flashy) and third-placer Amelia's Wild Ride (D'wildcat). Trying turf for a second time is Fabulous Kid (Congrats), a sharp second-level allowance winner over the main track at Parx last time.
The $200,000 Mountainview H., a nine-furlong, main-track test for older horses, has attracted a number of graded stakes winners. Early favorites on the morning line are Grade 3 scorers Albano (Istan), who won the Maxxam Gold Cup two back and was second in the New Orleans H. (G2) last time, and Golden Lad (Medaglia d'Oro), who captured the Essex H. in February prior to a fourth in the Oaklawn H. (G2).
Other notables include Dwyer (G3) winner Kid Cruz (Lemon Drop Kid); Indiana Derby (G2) hero East Hall (Graeme Hall); Mineshaft H. (G3) victor Street Babe (Street Sense); and the competitive-looking trio of Farhaan (Jazil), Cousin Stephen (Proud Citizen), and Nowalking (Hard Spun).
Strict Compliance (Into Mischief), who was entered in Saturday's American Oaks (G1) at Santa Anita, will reportedly skip that race in favor of the $150,000 Penn Oaks over a mile on the turf. The Chad Brown pupil missed by a neck in her debut before reeling off back-to-back wins at Gulfstream and Keeneland.
Quality Rocks (Rock Hard Ten), winner of the Florida Oaks (G3) and runner-up in the Sweetest Chant (G3) and Edgewood (G3) this term, looks like the one to beat. Also among the field of eight are multiple stakes winner Red Sashay (Big Brown) and the Grade/Group 3-placed Prize Exhibit (Showcasing) and Pangburn (Congrats).
Breeders' Cup launches 'Million Dollar Finish' fantasy game
On the heels of strong growth in 2014, Breeders' Cup has launched its 2015 "Million Dollar Finish" fantasy game with more prizes and opportunities to win than ever before throughout the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: "Win & You're In."
During each of the 10 national broadcasts of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series on NBC and NBC SN, the fantasy player with the highest score for each designated race will win a once-in-a-lifetime VIP trip for two to the sold-out 2015 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. Along with the 10 chances to win during the Challenge Series, fans can enter for a shot at the ultimate prize of $1 million during the Breeders' Cup World Championships by predicting the correct order for the top 10 finishers in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), which will air on Saturday, October 31, on NBC.
Million Dollar Finish offers fans the opportunity to enter their top picks in the most prominent races taking place at some of the best tracks across the country and nationally broadcast on NBC and NBCSN. The game is free to enter and play, and fans can register and submit their picks for each race online at http://www.milliondollarfinish.com/.
The first chance for fans to participate during the 2015 season will be on June 6 in the Belmont S. (G1), where American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) will vie for his place in history by becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
"Million Dollar Finish has served as a great new digital platform for fan engagement throughout our Challenge Series and we're excited to up the ante this year by offering a true "Win and You're In" opportunity for our fans to the sold-out 2015 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Keeneland," said Justin McDonald, Breeders' Cup vice president of marketing & digital media.
"The number of fantasy players more than doubled year-over-year in 2014 and we're positioned for similar growth again this year with even more incentive for fans to follow along throughout the season-long Win & You're In Series."
The promotion registration period begins on or about April 28 at 12:01 a.m. (EDT) and ends on October 31 at 5:40 p.m., and is open only to legal residents of the 50 United States & D.C., who are 18 years of age or older. Please see the official rules at www.MillionDollarFinish.com/rules for exact registration times for each race, additional eligibility restrictions, prize descriptions/restrictions/ARVs and complete details.
Brown sends two to California for American Oaks
Brown's will also be represented by Mrs McDougal (Medaglia d'Oro), who is two-for-three after romping by more than seven lengths over good ground at Aqueduct. Brown also entered Strict Compliance (Into Mischief), but will instead run that filly in Saturday's $150,000 Penn Oaks at Penn National.
The home defense is led by Spanish Queen (Tribal Rule) and Sharla Rae (Afleet Alex), one-two in the May 3 Honeymoon (G2) over nine furlongs. The 1 1/2-length score by Spanish Queen was her second in three starts, the only setback being a neck loss in the Providencia (G3) two back.
Sharla Rae, 48-1 in the Honeymoon, had previously captured the California Oaks and Pike Place Dancer on Golden Gate Fields' Tapeta, and the Barretts Debutante on the dirt at Los Alamitos.
Hero of last year's Whitney (G1), Moreno has had a positive campaign thus far. Runner-up to Shared Belief (Candy Ride) in the Santa Anita H. (G1) off a four-month layoff, Moreno next finished a close third in the New Orleans H. (G2) and then won the Charles Town Classic (G2) by two lengths after Shared Belief was pulled up midway through the race.
Moreno has finished second four times in eight starts at Santa Anita, but has never won over the main track. One who has, Catch a Flight (Giant's Causeway), figures to be his most serious rival. The Brazilian import finished third in the Big 'Cap in his third U.S. appearance, and most recently captured the Precisionist (G3) over returning rivals Sammy Mandeville (Rock Hard Ten) and Blue Tone (Birdstone).
Also lining up for the Californian are Big Cazanova (Giant's Causeway), who captured the Native Diver (G3) at Del Mar two back but was only fifth in the January 10 San Pasqual (G2) in his only outing so far this year, and Louisiana H. winner Hard Aces (Hard Spun), who adds blinkers after a fourth in the Big 'Cap and a sixth in the Oaklawn H. (G2).
Heitai tops Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint
Heitai (Fusaichi Pegasus) was only eighth of 10 in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3), but merits serious consideration when he defends his title Saturday in the $300,000 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint.
The field for the five-furlong dash will be reduced to at least seven with the scratch of early favorite Power Alert (Alert) due to the likelihood of soft turf. The Australian import, who captured the Twin Spires Turf Sprint in course-record time, will instead point for the Jaipur S. (G3) at Belmont Park June 6.
Prior to his flub at Churchill Downs, Heitai had finished first or second in his previous 11 starts. Heitai is two-for-two over the Evangeline turf, and took the inaugural edition of this sprint by 3 3/4 lengths.
The established sprinter Gantry (Pulpit) was only fifth in the local prep, the $60,000 Need for Speed on May 2, but it was his first start in nearly five months and figures to be much sharper for this. However, he failed to fire here last year when a dull fifth.
Also exiting the Need for Speed is the winner, Reflector (Ready's Image), and the Quick Dagger (Northern Afleet) and Ty's Bandit (Time Bandit), who finished in a dead heat for second three-quarters of a length behind Reflector. A threat to improve is Great Minds (Stroll), who has finished first or second in three outings since joining the Al Stall barn.
Evangeline's richest card of the season also features two other open stakes. A wide-open renewal of the $100,000 Evangeline Mile for older horses on the main track features Argentinean import Mystery Train (Not for Sale), the Mineshaft H. (G3) runner-up looking to rebound off tiring seventh-place performance in the Precisionist (G3) at Santa Anita.
Stormdriver (Discreet Cat) enters off a freakish performance in the off-the-turf, $60,000 John Henry April 25. Preceding the win with a score over $30,000 claimers, the five-year-old took a huge step forward to deliver the knockout by 5 3/4 lengths.
Others of interest are last-out allowance winners Only in America (Tiznow), Ide Be Cool (Ide), and Galveston Harbor (Belgravia), and the stakes-winning Holiday Mischief (Into Mischief), who was overmatched in the Texas Mile (G3) last time.
The $100,000 Opelousas, a 1 1/16-mile grass stakes for fillies and mares, features the top three finishers from the $60,000 Matron on April 24 -- Tensas Harbor (Private Vow), Hot Tempo (Heatseeker), and Synapse (Fairbanks). However, that prep was rained off the turf and contested on a sloppy track, which might have aided Tensas Harbor more. Hot Tempo won the 2014 Matron on turf, while Synapse was only a half-length away from victory in last year's Opelousas.
Other likely contenders are Satin Gold (English Channel), a close fourth in the 2014 Opelousas prior to winning a stakes on the Remington turf, and Treaty Oak (War Chant), a two-time allowance winner on grass at Fair Grounds last winter.
Popular supermare and 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta (Street Cry) was reported in foal to War Front on Wednesday. The dark bay mare has three foals to date -- three-year-old colt Cozmic One (Bernardini), juvenile colt Ziconic (Tapit) and an unnamed yearling War Front filly -- and wasn't bred last year. For more information, or to read updates on the 11-year-old Zenyatta, please visit www.zenyatta.com...
Officials at Finger Lakes canceled live racing for Friday, May 29, due to lack of entries. The elimination of Friday's card is aimed toward helping to maintain horse field size for upcoming scheduled race days. The $50,000 Susan B. Anthony S., originally slated to take place Friday, has been postponed until Saturday, May 30. Post time for first race is 1:10 p.m. (EDT)...
German trainer Andreas Wohler has announced that Monday's German Two Thousand Guineas (Ger-G2) winner Karpino (Cape Cross) will sidestep a possible Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) bid and will instead remain in Germany to target the Deutsches Derby (Ger-G1) at Hamburg. A highly impressive winner at Cologne on Monday in the color's of Pearl Bloodstock, Karpino is now unbeaten in three starts and his trainer told the Racing Post on Wednesday, "We had a long discussion this morning, but have decided to stick to the original plan, which means that he will run next in the German Derby at Hamburg July 5."...
Ervedya (Siyouni), last seen winning the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (Fr-G1) at Longchamp May 10, has been confirmed on target for Royal Ascot where she will line up in the Coronation S. (Eng-G1). Twice placed at the highest level as a juvenile, the Aga Khan homebred is two from two for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget this season and her last win was significant for other reasons also, being a first classic victory for sophomore stallion Siyouni. Georges Rimaud, Aga Khan's Stud Manager in France commented, "She is going very nicely and the Coronation S. at Royal Ascot is the next goal for her. It will be tougher competition in England, I believe, so it will be interesting to see how she performs. I don't think the ground will worry her either way. She has won on soft ground and better ground, so she should be fine. It is an uphill finish and she will need to stay well, but she has never deceived us so far and hopefully she won't at Ascot." The Aga Khan could also be represented in the same race by Raydara (Rock of Gibraltar). Trained in Ireland by Michael Halford, the filly was unplaced in the Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-G1) at The Curragh last weekend but was subsequently found to be in season. Halford is keen to draw a line through the performance and said, "She was a bit flat in the last furlong and now we know why. Her fitness was pretty good, but the run should bring her forward and we'll see where she goes next. She has an entry in the Coronation S. in Ascot and she's also in the Pretty Polly S. (Ire-G1), so we'll probably make a decision in the next week or so."...
Sir Michael Stoute holds the record of eight winners of Thursday's Brigadier Gerard S. (Eng-G3) at Sandown and has used the prestigious event as a launch pad for the older campaigns of Pilsudski, Notnowcato and Workforce. This time, the representative of Freemason Lodge is Arab Spring (Monsun), who sports the time-honored silks of Ballymacoll Stud that Pilsudski carried to glory on so many occasions for the stable and he bears more than a passing resemblance of that previous luminary. Dropping back in trip after his latest and most meritorious 12-furlong win in the John Porter S. (Eng-G3) at Newbury April 18, the homebred five-year-old is one of a trio burdened with a penalty as a result of his pattern-race exploits. Another is Godolphin's Winter Derby (Eng-G3) and Easter Classic winner Tryster (Shamardal), who returns to turf having proven the undisputed king of the Polytrack. "Purposely, we gave Tryster a break after his win on All-Weather Championships Finals Day and he has freshened up well," trainer Charlie Appleby commented. "We have been able to get him on the grass gallops at Moulton Paddocks and the most encouraging sign is that his stride pattern hasn't changed from working on a synthetic surface -- he works just about as well on turf as he did on the all-weather. It's a punchy race and we will be a bit wiser afterwards regarding where to go with Tryster for the rest of the turf season. Hopefully, he can run a big race and we can look at the Prince of Wales's S. ([Eng-G1] at Royal Ascot June 17) and, if he doesn't, then we can review things and change our goals for him over the coming months." John Gosden saddles two live contenders in Eagle Top (Pivotal) and Western Hymn (High Chaparral). The former took the King Edward VII S. (Eng-G2) at Royal Ascot last June before finishing fourth in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. (Eng-G1) at that venue the following month, while Western Hymn was last seen capturing the course-and-distance Gordon Richards S. (Eng-G3) April 24. "Hugo Lascelles, racing manager to Lady Bamford, told PA Sport, "Eagle Top has had nearly a year off and while he's been going well, he'll need the race. Hopefully this will put him spot on for Ascot. I would say we're leaning towards the Prince of Wales's at Royal Ascot rather than the Hardwicke (Eng-G2). This race should be a nice introduction to start his season."...
Trainer Marco Botti is prepared to play the long game with his top class stayer Tac De Boistron (Take Risks). The eight-year-old has a confirmed preference for soft ground and in the event of a dry summer, Botti is prepared to wait for late-season targets such as the Irish St Leger (Ire-G1), the Prix du Cadran (Fr-G1) and Prix Royal-Oak (Fr-G1), a race he has won for the last two years. Having missed an engagement at Longchamp recently due to the drying ground, Botti will have his charge on standby should conditions alter ahead of the Gold Cup (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot. The Newmarket trainer said, "We will see what happens with the ground. If it is too quick we will take our time and wait for the Irish St Leger and races like that. I don't want to keep him in fast work all the summer with the uncertainty of the ground. He has a lot of options in the latter part of the season -- the Gold Cup is three weeks away, so we will keep him fit and see what happens with the weather at Ascot."...
With Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness champion (G1) American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) one win away from winning the Triple Crown, America's Best Racing (ABR), a multi-media fan development and awareness-building platform initiated by The Jockey Club, has released a spoof music video -- "It's All About the Tail" -- highlighting the racehorse with an inordinately short tail. You can view the music video at the following link: http://youtu.be/CaPuKyd6hCw. Why the short tail? As legend goes, it was nibbled off by pasture mates at McKathan Brothers Farm near Ocala, Florida, where American Pharoah resided as a two-year-old.
The Keeneland Library Lecture Series continues June 2 when Milton C. Toby talks about his book Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred's Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky. The lecture, free and open to the public, begins at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) at the Keeneland Library. A reception and book-signing with Toby follow the presentation. Toby, an author, photographer and attorney, has written professionally for some 35 years as a member of the editorial staff of The Blood-Horse magazine; as a freelance photojournalist living in China, Costa Rica and Colombia; and as a frequent contributor to The Horse magazine. Toby also has written five books about Thoroughbred racing and equine law, plus award-winning short fiction. "My book is really two stories, one about a very good race horse and another about a remarkable woman named Charlotte Farmer, who almost single-handedly rescued Noor's forgotten remains from obscurity." In 1974, 29-year-old Noor died at Loma Rica Ranch in Grass Valley, California, and was buried in an unmarked grave in the infield of the race track on the property. When the land went under development for residential and commercial use, Farmer raised $8,000 to exhume Noor's remains and have them re-interred at Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky, in 2011...
The supplemental catalog to the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's 2015 June Sale of Two-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age is now available on the company's website at www.obssales.com. One older horse and 21 juveniles have been supplemented and will sell after the older horse section as Hip No's 1134-1165 on the sale's fourth day, Friday, June 19. The supplemental catalog will be available at the sales grounds and on the OBS website. All supplemented horses will breeze at the sixth under tack session on Saturday, June 13. There are 1,115 two-year-olds and 48 older horses cataloged for the four-day OBS sale, scheduled for Tuesday, June 16t, through Friday, June 19, with all sessions beginning at 10:30 a.m. (EDT). The under tack show will be divided into six sessions, scheduled for Monday, June 8, through Saturday, June 13, with each session beginning at 7:30 a.m. Hips 1-191 will breeze on Monday, Hips 192-382 go on Tuesday, Hips 383-572 will work on Wednesday, Hips 573-767 will go on Thursday, Hips 768-962 breeze Friday and Hips 963-1165 will go on Saturday...
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced that Monmouth Park has earned reaccreditation from the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance. Home to 17 graded stakes -- including the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) and $500,000 United Nations S. (G1) -- the Oceanport, New Jersey, track opened its 70th live racing season earlier this month. Monmouth Park was among the first racetracks to be fully accredited shortly after the Alliance's inception in 2009 and has maintained that designation continuously since.
NORTH AMERICAN NON-GRADED STAKES RESULTS
NORTH AMERICAN ALLOWANCE RESULTS
North American Maiden Winners
MAY 29, 2015
by Dick Powell
I have some theories about the Belmont S. (G1) and the pursuit of the Triple Crown that are out there where the buses don't run.
We focus on the three races in five weeks angle as the main reason why today's horses cannot get the job done.
What it ignores is the 25-year gap between CITATION (Bull Lea) in 1948 to SECRETARIAT (Bold Ruler) in 1973 during a period where horses raced much more than they did today. Three races in five weeks didn't seem to be the factor then that it is made out to be today.
In the 1970s, there were three Triple Crown winners and looking back, that stretch is as unexplainable as to the dearth of winners before or since. The drought was over and after SPECTACULAR BID (Bold Bidder) just missed in 1979, it seemed that there would not be any more big gaps between Triple Crown winners.
How wrong we were as AFFIRMED (Exclusive Native) in 1978 is the last Triple Crown winner. So what else could it be?
Let's bring out "Ole Reliable" and blame it on Lasix. Ignoring the 25-year gap from 1948 to 1973, it has to be Lasix and raceday medication that keeps a horse from winning all three races in a short period of time.
This conveniently ignores how the British Triple Crown, where Lasix and raceday medications are banned, has not been won since 1970 when NIJINSKY II (Northern Dancer) did it. And, Lasix was not available on raceday in New York, the site of the Belmont Stakes, until 1995, so why wasn't it hit between 1978 and 1995?
I can go through various horses that recently failed to win the Belmont after winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown and come up with various reasons and factors that affected the outcome.
One factor that I believe was true happened in 2003 and 2004. We think that if there were more time between races, the winning horses would have more time to recover and run better. But what if the Belmont were run two weeks after the Preakness S. (G1) instead of three?
In 2003, FUNNY CIDE (Distorted Humor) won the Derby and then blew away the field in the Preakness. He came out of the Preakness in great shape and on the weekend before the Belmont, he breezed five furlongs in :59 and change while being hard restrained. It looked like he could not be coming into the Belmont any better but on the day of the race, a week later, he was not the same horse.
What if the horse that had all that energy two weeks after the Preakness was able to race in the Belmont that day and not a week later? In Funny Cide's case, he still might not have been able to beat EMPIRE MAKER (Unbridled) that day but all that energy he wasted in that final workout would have been put to much better use.
In 2004, I was convinced that we had the next Triple Crown winner and his name was SMARTY JONES (Elusive Quality). The undefeated winner of the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness, he looked like he had the field at this mercy. In the weeks leading up to the Belmont, his gallops were brilliant and there was no way he could get beat. But, could he?
The weekend before the Belmont, he worked sensational with a 170-pound exercise rider aboard. But on the big day, the other riders ganged up on Stew Elliott but even then, he looked like a winner on the far turn. A record crowd of 120,319 roared thinking they were going to see racing history but in the deep stretch, Smarty Jones began to run out of gas and BIRDSTONE (Grindstone) went by him. His fatigue was mostly due to the energy that his rider expended early but even so, he was right there with a hundred yards to go. Was it the three races in five weeks or would he have won had the race been held a week before?
We will never know but I could not help but think at the time that had the Belmont been held the week before, both horses' chances of winning would have been greater. They come out of the Preakness dead fit and the extra week worked against them.
Can I prove it? No. That is why it is called a theory.
Which brings us to AMERICAN PHAROAH's (Pioneerof the Nile) workout at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning. The workout was officially a half-mile in :48 flat but he never really let up when he hit the wire and covered six furlongs in 1:13 1/5. Considering that he was at least four paths off the rail on both turns and did not have company, he probably shaded 1:12.
Visually, any concerns about how he came out of the Preakness were dispelled as his stride looked better than ever. My initial reaction was start engraving the Belmont Stakes trophy.
However, before I anoint him racing's 12th Triple Crown winner, let's see how he does in the days leading up to the Belmont on June 6. This is not Bob Baffert's first rodeo and Victor Espinoza is battle tested, so I am sure they will press all the right buttons. I would rather Baffert do what he did on Tuesday than train him lightly while worrying about his energy level. A solid workout like that should take the edge off him and have him ready on the big day.
MAY 29, 2015
by John Mucciolo
There was no graded action at Belmont Park this past week.
A total of 55 races were held over the main strip at the Elmont, New York, venue, with favorites winning at a 47 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 71 percent of the wins during the week. From 26 races on the main oval, six animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (23 percent), while six of the 29 grassy races were taken all the way on the lead (21 percent).
We have to say that we love how any type can win on the turf or the main oval of late, as is often the case at Belmont Park.
Four of the six wire jobs on the dirt came in route runs, while the wire-to-wire winners on the sod were split evenly with three each in route and sprint races.
HORSES TO WATCH
6TH -- MEMORIES OF PETER (Disco Rico) was last behind a tepid pace but made a nice late run to be a closing fourth in his first run since the fall. The sophomore colt should only improve off of this one and be tough next time for conditioner Jimmy Ryerson.
8TH -- BARREL OF LOVE (Not For Love) rated to the top of the lane and then exploded inside the final furlong to post an authoritative four-length romp under Javier Castellano. The eight-year-old gelding surely has plenty left in the tank and got his final five-sixteenths in a sharp :28 1/5, good for a 100 BRIS Late Pace figure.
1ST -- UNCLE VINNY (Uncle Mo) was surely no surprise at the windows when bet to 1-5 odds at first asking, and the juvenile delivered with an easy tally. The Todd Pletcher-trained juvenile colt could be absolutely any kind going forward.
7TH -- GLOWING EMBER (Bernstein) was close early, took back a bit, took the lead in midstretch and held well for second while two lengths clear of his nearest foe. The five-year-old could have needed the race since being off since September, and any improvement off of this makes him ultra tough in his return.
7TH -- GOOD PICK NICK (Tapit) couldn't reel in a talented winner in this allowance tussle but the sophomore ran big in his own right, finishing more than 12 lengths clear of third in a fine try for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The capable gray is on the improve and has now posted triple-digit Late Pace numbers in two straight.
8TH -- The Shug McGaughey-trained RELOAD (Hard Spun) hadn't raced in more than 14 months but showed little signs of rust in a clear victory under Javier Castellano. Expect the six-year-old to be stakes bound in the very near future.
8TH -- Trainer Bill Mott has a very nice turf performer in A LOT (Tapit), who dominated this field with a big burst in the lane. The three-year-old colt is among the top three-year-old turf runners on the East Coast and is always a major player, no matter the competition.
9TH -- KATAMA (Medaglia d'Oro) broke slowest and had a lot of work to do turning for home, but the three-year-old filly was full of energy late and got up for a sharp debut score. The Tom Morley trainee came home fast to defeat what we thought was a decent field, and looks like a promising youngster going forward.
7TH -- QUEZON (Tiz Wonderful) picked up her second stakes trophy, and third win from four lifetime tries with a punishing late run to put this field away under Manny Franco. The Robert Ribaudo trainee showed no rust off the bench and could be ready for open foes after another start or two off the break.
A Look Ahead
There is no graded racing on tap this week at Belmont Park.
SANTA ANITA NOTEBOOK
MAY 28, 2015
by John Mucciolo
Santa Anita offered a trio of graded races last week.
Gamely S. (G1): Speedway Stable LLC's HARD NOT TO LIKE (Hard Spun) got through on the rail in deep stretch to post a neck decision. Now a two-time Grade 1 winner, the Christophe Clement trainee finished off nine furlongs on the firm lawn in 1:49 4/5 with Victor Espinoza.
Charles Whittingham S. (G2): After being last at the top of the lane, Alesia et al's ASHLEYLUVSSUGAR (Game Plan) delivered a fine run through the final furlong to score by a half-length under Gary Stevens. The Peter Eurton trainee ran to a third straight victory, clocking 1 1/2 miles on the firm turf in 2:30.
Los Angeles S. (G3): Brown, Klein and Lebherz's DISTINCTIV PASSION (With Distinction) sped to the front soon after the break and held off a stern test late to record a neck victory for trainer Jeff Bonde. The five-year-old finished off six furlongs on the fast main surface in a sharp 1:08 under Edwin Maldonado.
From a total of 44 races held at the Arcadia, California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 48 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 66 percent of the wins. From 29 frays contested on the dirt oval, 10 animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (34 percent), while two of the 15 grassy tilts were taken all the way on the front end (13 percent).
Speed was solid on the dirt this past week, but we wouldn't call the oval biased with the amount of winning favorites coming home. Of the 10 wire jobs on the main strip, nine came in sprint races.
On the turf, one wire-to-wire winner came in a downhill sprint, while the other one occurred going two turns.
HORSES TO WATCH
1ST -- ALIEN GIANT (Giant's Causeway) sped from the gate and never looked back en route to a fine first-out tally for conditioner Robertino Diodoro. The juvenile filly finished up in a nice final time for a barn having a lot of success with its babies.
2ND -- SWIPE (Birdstone) broke slowest and had a bit of an eventful trip in this debut offering, but the Keith Desormeaux trainee still finished well to be second and likely won't be a maiden for long.
7TH -- BIRDLOVER (Byron) continues her fine form run and affinity for this turf course with a game score over a very nice field for trainer Doug O'Neill. The five-year-old mare is super sharp right now and will continue to be a player on this course.
1ST -- OIL (Tribal Rule) was very fast early and never slowed in posting a superb first score under the guidance of Victor Espinoza. The Peter Miller trainee was never in danger in this dash and we were a bit surprised that no claims came in on the gelding.
3RD -- SUNDAY RULES (Tribal Rule) has still yet to be headed in her lifetime and she looks ready for a go with graded runners after rolling over state-bred foes.
7TH -- SHEER PLEASURE (Birdonthewire) left little doubt in this stakes run and we liked how the sophomore miss came home in a sharp :31 1/5 under Tyler Baze. The Phil d'Amato pupil could evolve into a graded type with steady improvement.
5TH -- SUPER MAJESTY (Super Saver) was bet down to 3-5 odds in this debut offering and the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee did not disappoint, rolling home a 6 1/2-length winner while completing six panels in a swift 1:08 2/5. Tab this sophomore filly as a potential star in the making.
5TH -- IRON FIST (Tapit) battled back gamely after being headed in midstretch to break his maiden for conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. The $1.5 million purchase made good in his first two-turn test and beat a horse who will likely be graduating next time out. The three-year-old colt came home in a stout :24 beneath Mike Smith.
ROSICKY (Flatter) ran a winning race in defeat and will be graduating soon after a few fine tries for trainer Carla Gaines.
6TH -- CURLIN'S FOX (Curlin) made pretty short work of a field we thought was full of talent and filly figures to be back in with stakes foes next time, in a sprint or route try for Gaines.
A Look Ahead
A pair of graded races Saturday highlight the weekend at Santa Anita, with the $300,000 American Oaks (G1) and $200,000 Californian Stakes (G2) as headliners.
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