Breeders' Cup winners doing well
Trainer Jonathan Sheppard reported that his trio of Breeders' Cup starters were all feeling well Sunday morning. The Hall of Fame trainer expressed pleasure with all of their performances, as well.
"It was memorable. It's the type of thing that when I relax a bit over the winter and it sinks in a little bit more, I'll probably appreciate it even more than I do now," he said. "At the moment, I'm tied up with the details and trivia of trying to make all the transportation arrangements, talking to the owners and worrying about my other 95 horses I've got scattered around other places."
INFORMED DECISION (Monarchos) put Sheppard in Santa Anita winner's circle with a thoroughly dominating performance in Friday's Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), in which she prevailed over defending champion Ventura (Chester House) by 1 1/4 lengths.
"I never had a particular nervous moment. She was always in the clear; she was always forwardly placed. The horse on the lead wasn't one of the main competition, so I was fairly confident, she'd run by that one when she wanted to," Sheppard said.
"It seemed that the fractions weren't very fast and Ventura was a long way back. I know she has an explosive burst, but I know our horse is very strong in the stretch. I wasn't counting my chickens before they hatched, but it was a crackerjack ride."
Informed Decision will remain in training for a campaign next season, during which her trainer expects her to continue at sprinting distances.
FOREVER TOGETHER (Belong to Me) was unable to defend her title in the Filly & Mare Turf (G1), in which she finished third.
"She is 90 percent certain to be retired. We haven't entirely pulled the plug on her, but I think so," Sheppard said.
Grade 1 winner CLOUDY'S KNIGHT (Lord Avie), who was nosed out in Friday's Marathon, will continue to race next year as a 10-year-old.
"We're going to keep going with him. He didn't run all of last season, and he's only run three times this year," Sheppard said. "He's sound and just a gelding, so as long as he's running well and staying sound and healthy, we'll keep running him."
Trainer Carla Gaines had difficulty talking about DANCING IN SILKS' (Black Minnaloushe) victory in the Sprint (G1) on Saturday, but it wasn't due to a lack of words.
"I'm hoarse," she explained. "I think I was embarrassing yesterday. I've never done anything like that. I screamed and screamed like I never have before (when Dancing in Silks won his race). Then I screamed again when Zenyatta (Street Cry [Ire]) did her thing. I've got no voice left. But it was fun.
"A lot of the credit for this win has to go to my owner (Ken Kinakin). He's such a positive guy. He's always on the up and thinking good things. I was worried about all his money -- he had to put up $160,000 to get in the race for a 25-1 shot. But he asked me if the horse was doing well and if he was ready. And when I said 'Yes,' then he said 'Let's go for it.'
"This has to be the paramount moment in my time around the races,' Gaines continued. "Losing Nashoba's Key (the stakes mare who died in a freak racetrack accident in May of 2008) was the lowest point of my life, but this is the highest. Nashoba was a wonderful experience for me; she taught me so much. I'm just so happy to be able to be part of a huge victory like this.
"(Dancing in Silks) is a very fit horse; very sound. He's just been getting better. He's a major player now and we'll take some time to look ahead and see what might be next with him."
Trainer Wayne Catalano was picking up the colors worn by SHE BE WILD (Offlee Wild) in her victorious run in Friday's Juvenile Fillies (G1) before getting ready to head to the airport for his own return flight to Louisville, Kentucky.
"The filly left early this morning and she should be getting into Louisville about now," Catalano said. "She looks great and came out of the race good."
The homebred juvenile will remain with the Kentucky division of the Catalano stable until heading south to Florida for her three-year-old campaign. Offered for a $40,000 claiming price in her debut at Arlington Park in May with no takers, She Be Wild finishes her freshman season with a record of four wins from five starts and earnings of $1,311,040 for her owner Nancy Mazzoni.
For Catalano, Friday's win was his second in as many tries in the Juvenile Fillies, a race he captured with Dreaming of Anna in 2006 at Churchill Downs. While Dreaming of Anna was the 5-2 race favorite in 2006, She Be Wild was sent off at odds of 7-1 but Catalano was no less confident heading into the 1 1/16-mile race.
"We looked good coming in and she was training wonderfully," he said. "I knew I had the best horse and I'm really happy how everything came out.
"I know how hard it is to get here in the first place," he continued. "You have to be lucky just to get here, and then even with the best horse you have to get lucky. Look at Godolphin, they went something like 1-for-15 and they came in with 'Murderers' Row.'"
FURTHEST LAND (Smart Strike) came into the Dirt Mile (G1) with a win in the Kentucky Cup Classic (G2) and a fourth in the Claiming Crown Jewel, which is part of what is known as the "blue-collar" Breeders' Cup. The four-year-old exited with a win at the highest level for trainer Mike Maker.
"Winning that race was a great experience. I'm very happy," Maker said. "Actually, I was very confident going into the race, and I was touting the horse to anybody who would listen.
"The whole day was fabulous and Zenyatta's win was the topper. Anytime, a horse can accomplish what she did, you have to take your hat off to her. It was a day for witnessing history."
Conditioner Brian Koriner reported that five-year-old CALIFORNIA FLAG (Avenue of Flags) came out of his Turf Sprint score in fine shape and now may head to Hong Kong for his next race, a sprint that Koriner was unable to name.
"This is what we've been working toward ever since last year, hoping he'd make it back after taking out a chip in his left ankle after his race at Hollywood Park (a win in the Hollywood Turf Express [G3]) after the Breeders' Cup, " Koriner explained. "I felt very good after the first quarter of a mile in the race when the others horses took back off of him. At that point, I figured it was his race to lose. I felt good because when he gets away like that, he always kicks in big in the stretch."
Jockey Joe Talamo stopped by the barn to look at his winning mount, his first in the Breeders' Cup.
"It made me feel just terrific," Talamo said of the experience. "It was a lot of fun. A big party of us went to dinner last night, and I was happy to pick up the check."
The 19-year-old rider said he was a filet mignon man, but when asked about a red wine, he said, "Hey, I'm not old enough to drink yet."
Trainer Dale Romans said that his Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner TAPITSFLY (Tapit), who was expected to be back at his barn at Churchill Downs on Sunday, was "probably done for the year."
"Winning the race was pretty spectacular; pretty exciting," Romans said. "She had trained as good as anyone could, and it was just a matter of whether she was good enough. I just told everyone that you don't know just how good our horse is until they run with that kind of company."
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