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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2014

Racing Headlines

Desormeaux brothers eager for Texas Red's likely return in San Vicente

Kent Desormeaux piloted a geared-down Texas Red to BC Juvenile victory (Breeders' Cup Ltd.)

Texas Red, the 6 1/2-length winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on November 1 at Santa Anita Park, is likely to make his three-year-old debut in the Grade 2, $200,000 San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs on February 1 back at the Arcadia, California, venue.

"He's been in training the whole 45 days (since the Juvenile)," trainer Keith Desormeaux said as Texas Red exercised on the main track at Santa Anita Friday morning. "His first breeze will be tomorrow."

Asked if his younger brother and Texas Red's regular jockey Kent Desormeaux would work him, Keith said, "I doubt it. We don't need the expert on a maintenance breeze.

"The horse has been a little bit too much the past couple of weeks, and it kind of makes you a little nervous," the trainer added. "He's ready to get something started. Nothing's definite, but right now I'm thinking about the San Vicente."

It's been a fairytale year for Kent Desormeaux, who resurrected his career at the age of 44 with upper echelon finishes in the standings at Santa Anita, Del Mar and Los Alamitos, capped by the upset victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile aboard Texas Red.

"I can't even tell you how thrilled I am to be back in California, living in one house, riding for my family with the favorite for the Kentucky Derby," Kent Desormeaux said.

"Most jockeys would love to be in my shoes right now, and I thank the Lord I'm the one standing in them. The same slide show keeps going through my mind of when Keith and I were competing against each other as kids, in basketball and riding, and now we're on racing's No. 1 stage together."

In addition to the Breeders' Cup, Texas Red finished third in his only other stakes try, the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita. He currently owns a 5-2-1-1 record having banked $1,192,300 in career earnings.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Desormeaux brothers eager for Texas Red's likely return in San Vicente

Kent Desormeaux piloted a geared-down Texas Red to BC Juvenile victory (Breeders' Cup Ltd.)

Texas Red, the 6 1/2-length winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on November 1 at Santa Anita Park, is likely to make his three-year-old debut in the Grade 2, $200,000 San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs on February 1 back at the Arcadia, California, venue.

"He's been in training the whole 45 days (since the Juvenile)," trainer Keith Desormeaux said as Texas Red exercised on the main track at Santa Anita Friday morning. "His first breeze will be tomorrow."

Asked if his younger brother and Texas Red's regular jockey Kent Desormeaux would work him, Keith said, "I doubt it. We don't need the expert on a maintenance breeze.

"The horse has been a little bit too much the past couple of weeks, and it kind of makes you a little nervous," the trainer added. "He's ready to get something started. Nothing's definite, but right now I'm thinking about the San Vicente."

It's been a fairytale year for Kent Desormeaux, who resurrected his career at the age of 44 with upper echelon finishes in the standings at Santa Anita, Del Mar and Los Alamitos, capped by the upset victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile aboard Texas Red.

"I can't even tell you how thrilled I am to be back in California, living in one house, riding for my family with the favorite for the Kentucky Derby," Kent Desormeaux said.

"Most jockeys would love to be in my shoes right now, and I thank the Lord I'm the one standing in them. The same slide show keeps going through my mind of when Keith and I were competing against each other as kids, in basketball and riding, and now we're on racing's No. 1 stage together."

In addition to the Breeders' Cup, Texas Red finished third in his only other stakes try, the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita. He currently owns a 5-2-1-1 record having banked $1,192,300 in career earnings.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

California Chrome, Bayern clock half-mile moves

There was little separation between (left to right) California Chrome, Toast of New York and Bayern on the BC Classic wire (Breeders' Cup Ltd.)

On a cleared track at his Los Alamitos headquarters Friday morning, dual classic victor California Chrome worked four furlongs in :49 under regular rider Victor Espinoza as he prepares for his four-year-old debut in the Grade 2, $500,000 San Antonio Stakes going 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita Park on February 7.

"It was just what we were looking for," said Alan Sherman, son and assistant to trainer Art Sherman.

"He went the first quarter in :24 3/5. He was just going easy, just stretching his legs," Los Alamitos head clocker Russ Hudak added.

California Chrome's 2014 campaign is complete. All that awaits is the counting of ballots and announcement of the Eclipse Award winners, including Horse of the Year, on January 17.

Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old contender California Chrome and his trainer will rest on their laurels till then, and what laurels they are: four Grade 1 wins including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Santa Anita Derby, and for good measure, a Grade 1 turf score in the Hollywood Derby at Del Mar last month.

"I think it will help," Art Sherman said of the grass victory, coming after California Chrome's game third-place finish by a neck in the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 1. "The turf win adds another dimension and gives us options down the road. There haven't been too many three-year-olds running on the grass, and it was his fourth Grade 1."

True enough, but with Classic scorer Bayern, Breeders' Cup Turf victor Main Sequence, once-beaten Pacific Classic and Awesome Again hero Shared Belief, Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup conqueror Tonalist, and Kentucky Oaks and Breeders' Cup Distaff queen Untapable all in the mix for racing's ultimate honor, it's anyone's guess until January 17.

"It's going to be close this year," Sherman acknowledged. "I'm sure California Chrome will at least get three-year-old of the year, but then again, you don't really know. A lot depends on how the Eastern bloc votes.

"If it depended on the California vote, I'd win in a landslide. He won the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, three classic races. It used to be that if you won the Derby and the Preakness, it was automatic that you'd be three-year-old of the year.

"Now it's kind of up for grabs, but hey, listen, I know one award I'll win: that's Cal-bred of the Year," Sherman laughed.

Awards aside, racing stands to benefit thanks to owners/breeders Steve Colburn and Perry Martin's decision to race California Chrome next year as a four-year-old.

"If he'd have won the Breeders' Cup Classic, we wouldn't even be having a conversation about who's going to be Horse of the Year," Sherman said, "but he was a neck short.

"Still, it's been a great year and I'm so proud of the horse. He's done everything he could under the circumstances. He's going to be a great four-year-old. I'm looking forward to that."

California Chrome wasn't the only Horse of the Year candidate stretching his legs on Friday.

Bayern worked four furlongs on Santa Anita's fast main track in a co-bullet :46 1/5 under jockey Martin Garcia for trainer Bob Baffer.

Working in company with Pearl Spectre, who was timed in :46 2/5, Bayern's clocking equaled that of the Richard Baltas-trained Brother Soldier. The duo's time was fastest of 43 at the distance, the average of which was :48 2/5.

"This is his second breeze back," Baffert said of the Kentucky-bred son of Offlee Wild. "He did it pretty easy. I didn't think he was going that fast. It looked like he was galloping. I just told him to cruise around there but he did it pretty easy."

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

California Chrome, Bayern clock half-mile moves

There was little separation between (left to right) California Chrome, Toast of New York and Bayern on the BC Classic wire (Breeders' Cup Ltd.)

On a cleared track at his Los Alamitos headquarters Friday morning, dual classic victor California Chrome worked four furlongs in :49 under regular rider Victor Espinoza as he prepares for his four-year-old debut in the Grade 2, $500,000 San Antonio Stakes going 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita Park on February 7.

"It was just what we were looking for," said Alan Sherman, son and assistant to trainer Art Sherman.

"He went the first quarter in :24 3/5. He was just going easy, just stretching his legs," Los Alamitos head clocker Russ Hudak added.

California Chrome's 2014 campaign is complete. All that awaits is the counting of ballots and announcement of the Eclipse Award winners, including Horse of the Year, on January 17.

Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old contender California Chrome and his trainer will rest on their laurels till then, and what laurels they are: four Grade 1 wins including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Santa Anita Derby, and for good measure, a Grade 1 turf score in the Hollywood Derby at Del Mar last month.

"I think it will help," Art Sherman said of the grass victory, coming after California Chrome's game third-place finish by a neck in the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 1. "The turf win adds another dimension and gives us options down the road. There haven't been too many three-year-olds running on the grass, and it was his fourth Grade 1."

True enough, but with Classic scorer Bayern, Breeders' Cup Turf victor Main Sequence, once-beaten Pacific Classic and Awesome Again hero Shared Belief, Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup conqueror Tonalist, and Kentucky Oaks and Breeders' Cup Distaff queen Untapable all in the mix for racing's ultimate honor, it's anyone's guess until January 17.

"It's going to be close this year," Sherman acknowledged. "I'm sure California Chrome will at least get three-year-old of the year, but then again, you don't really know. A lot depends on how the Eastern bloc votes.

"If it depended on the California vote, I'd win in a landslide. He won the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, three classic races. It used to be that if you won the Derby and the Preakness, it was automatic that you'd be three-year-old of the year.

"Now it's kind of up for grabs, but hey, listen, I know one award I'll win: that's Cal-bred of the Year," Sherman laughed.

Awards aside, racing stands to benefit thanks to owners/breeders Steve Colburn and Perry Martin's decision to race California Chrome next year as a four-year-old.

"If he'd have won the Breeders' Cup Classic, we wouldn't even be having a conversation about who's going to be Horse of the Year," Sherman said, "but he was a neck short.

"Still, it's been a great year and I'm so proud of the horse. He's done everything he could under the circumstances. He's going to be a great four-year-old. I'm looking forward to that."

California Chrome wasn't the only Horse of the Year candidate stretching his legs on Friday.

Bayern worked four furlongs on Santa Anita's fast main track in a co-bullet :46 1/5 under jockey Martin Garcia for trainer Bob Baffer.

Working in company with Pearl Spectre, who was timed in :46 2/5, Bayern's clocking equaled that of the Richard Baltas-trained Brother Soldier. The duo's time was fastest of 43 at the distance, the average of which was :48 2/5.

"This is his second breeze back," Baffert said of the Kentucky-bred son of Offlee Wild. "He did it pretty easy. I didn't think he was going that fast. It looked like he was galloping. I just told him to cruise around there but he did it pretty easy."

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Stone named as Churchill Downs' new track announcer

Travis Stone has been tabbed to succeed Larry Collmus as Churchill's track announcer (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

Travis Stone, the race-caller at Monmouth Park in 2014 and backup announcer at the New York Racing Association (NYRA) this winter, has been named the new track announcer at Churchill Downs Racetrack and voice of the world-famous Kentucky Derby, which has been run every year without interruption since 1875.

Stone, 30, will describe the racing action for Churchill Downs' on- and off-track audiences when racing returns to the legendary Louisville, Kentucky, track for the 2015 spring meet on Saturday, April 25. He becomes only the eighth announcer in Churchill Downs' storied history, and will succeed Larry Collmus, who departed after one year for an opportunity to call races at NYRA which offers a significantly larger number of racing dates.

Collmus will continue to call the Kentucky Derby for NBC.

"It is truly an honor to become the new voice of Churchill Downs and to join a community that shares my passion and enthusiasm for this wonderful sport," Stone said. "The opportunity to call the Kentucky Derby and all of the prestigious races at Churchill Downs is a dream come true. I am already counting the days!"

Stone grew up in Schroon Lake, New York, spending summers at Saratoga and greatly admiring the work of legendary announcers Tom Durkin and Dave Johnson. After graduating from SUNY Oneonta with degree in Communication Arts, he landed his first job as a track announcer at Louisiana Downs in 2006 at age 22 and held that post through 2013. When Collmus left Monmouth Park after 20 years to call at Churchill Downs in 2014, Stone was named as his replacement at the New Jersey track. Now he'll succeed Collmus for the second time in as many years.

"Travis Stone is justly a rising star among the North American announcing ranks," said Kevin Flanery, Churchill Downs Racetrack president. "To no one's surprise, numerous race-callers with a wide range of talent and individual style showed interest in our vacant track announcer position. But it became clear to us that Travis' passion for horse racing and charisma resonated through the microphone and made him the ideal fit for our team and racing at Churchill Downs.

"It's apparent that Travis works tirelessly to hone his craft with entertaining, colorful and accurate race calls. We believe he's one of the nation's premier announcers and will be a fabulous ambassador for Churchill Downs Racetrack in a community and region that loves horse racing like no other for years to come."

Stone will join an elite fraternity of Churchill Downs track announcers that include Gene Schmidt (1940-60), Chic Anderson (1961-77), Mike Battaglia (1978-96), Kurt Becker (1997-98), Luke Kruytbosch (1999-2008), Mark Johnson (2009-13) and Collmus (2014).

Stone has called races at Churchill Downs on two other occasions. He was a participant in the 2006 All-Star Announcer's Day on the day prior to the 2006 Breeders' Cup World Championships, and was part of a select group of five talented guest announcers who each spent one week behind the binoculars and microphone at Churchill Downs during the 2008 fall meet. He also has made guest appearances at Suffolk Downs, Calder Race Course and Golden Gate Fields.

Here's a link to Stone's call of this year's Haskell Invitational: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9dN2_OobTI. A compilation of select race calls can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-htUEbNuRI.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Stone named as Churchill Downs' new track announcer

Travis Stone has been tabbed to succeed Larry Collmus as Churchill's track announcer (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

Travis Stone, the race-caller at Monmouth Park in 2014 and backup announcer at the New York Racing Association (NYRA) this winter, has been named the new track announcer at Churchill Downs Racetrack and voice of the world-famous Kentucky Derby, which has been run every year without interruption since 1875.

Stone, 30, will describe the racing action for Churchill Downs' on- and off-track audiences when racing returns to the legendary Louisville, Kentucky, track for the 2015 spring meet on Saturday, April 25. He becomes only the eighth announcer in Churchill Downs' storied history, and will succeed Larry Collmus, who departed after one year for an opportunity to call races at NYRA which offers a significantly larger number of racing dates.

Collmus will continue to call the Kentucky Derby for NBC.

"It is truly an honor to become the new voice of Churchill Downs and to join a community that shares my passion and enthusiasm for this wonderful sport," Stone said. "The opportunity to call the Kentucky Derby and all of the prestigious races at Churchill Downs is a dream come true. I am already counting the days!"

Stone grew up in Schroon Lake, New York, spending summers at Saratoga and greatly admiring the work of legendary announcers Tom Durkin and Dave Johnson. After graduating from SUNY Oneonta with degree in Communication Arts, he landed his first job as a track announcer at Louisiana Downs in 2006 at age 22 and held that post through 2013. When Collmus left Monmouth Park after 20 years to call at Churchill Downs in 2014, Stone was named as his replacement at the New Jersey track. Now he'll succeed Collmus for the second time in as many years.

"Travis Stone is justly a rising star among the North American announcing ranks," said Kevin Flanery, Churchill Downs Racetrack president. "To no one's surprise, numerous race-callers with a wide range of talent and individual style showed interest in our vacant track announcer position. But it became clear to us that Travis' passion for horse racing and charisma resonated through the microphone and made him the ideal fit for our team and racing at Churchill Downs.

"It's apparent that Travis works tirelessly to hone his craft with entertaining, colorful and accurate race calls. We believe he's one of the nation's premier announcers and will be a fabulous ambassador for Churchill Downs Racetrack in a community and region that loves horse racing like no other for years to come."

Stone will join an elite fraternity of Churchill Downs track announcers that include Gene Schmidt (1940-60), Chic Anderson (1961-77), Mike Battaglia (1978-96), Kurt Becker (1997-98), Luke Kruytbosch (1999-2008), Mark Johnson (2009-13) and Collmus (2014).

Stone has called races at Churchill Downs on two other occasions. He was a participant in the 2006 All-Star Announcer's Day on the day prior to the 2006 Breeders' Cup World Championships, and was part of a select group of five talented guest announcers who each spent one week behind the binoculars and microphone at Churchill Downs during the 2008 fall meet. He also has made guest appearances at Suffolk Downs, Calder Race Course and Golden Gate Fields.

Here's a link to Stone's call of this year's Haskell Invitational: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9dN2_OobTI. A compilation of select race calls can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-htUEbNuRI.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Old Friends to receive Special Eclipse Award

Michael Blowen founded Old Friends in 2003 (Barbara Livingston)

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced Friday that the nonprofit Thoroughbred retirement center Old Friends will be presented with the Special Eclipse Award during the 44th annual Eclipse Awards on January 17 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

The Special Award honors extraordinary service, individual achievements in, or contributions to the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

Founded in 2003 by former Boston Globe film critic Michael Blowen, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Georgetown, Kentucky, cares for more than 150 rescued and retired horses, including several pensioned stallions.

This year, Old Friends became the new home for two of racing's biggest stars from the past 20 years, bringing 1997 Kentucky Derby hero Silver Charm back to his native state after retiring from stud duty in Japan and acquiring three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude after the seven-year-old gelding finished racing.

Other American Grade 1 winners currently residing at the main farm include champions Amazombie, Gulch and Hidden Lake, as well as Affirmed Success, Afternoon Deelites, Bonapaw, Commentator, Dinard, Early Pioneer, Fabulous Strike, Geri, Kiri's Clown, Kudos, Ogygian, Sarava, Sean Avery, Seek Gold, Special Ring, Tinners Way, Wallenda and You and I.

"This is just unbelievable," Blowen said. "We started with one horse just over 10 years ago and now we have 166 retirees. We have several Eclipse Award winners already at the farm; I can't wait to show them mine!"

Additional fan favorites include Rapid Redux, winner of 19 consecutive races in 2011, and Little Silver Charm, the operation's miniature mascot and the farm's only non-Thoroughbred. Old Friends also operates Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division near Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, where past Travers winners Thunder Rumble and Will's Way greet the public, along with infamous 100-time loser Zippy Chippy.

Even while working full-time for the Globe as a staff writer, Blowen would spend mornings at Suffolk Downs working for veteran trainer Carlos Figueroa. Mucking stalls and walking hots aren't typical side jobs for journalists, but for Blowen they were excuses to satisfy his growing fascination with horses. Shortly after Blowen retired from the Globe he accepted a position in Kentucky as operations director for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

Michael Blowen visiting with Old Friends resident Sunshine Forever (Barbara Livingston)

In 2002, the news that 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand had perished in a slaughterhouse spurred Blowen to form his own operation, with an emphasis on retired stallions. Old Friends would be accessible to the public as a way of raising awareness for racehorse retirement and improving racing's image. The presence of high-profile stars would help to raise money and give comfortable homes to lesser names.

"It allows us to take other horses that really didn't do as much but deserve a retirement just as well," Blowen explained. "I want people to come away with really good feelings about the sport of horseracing because I adore it and we've made some inroads in that direction."

The farm is run by five full-time employees, four part-time employees and a dedicated group of 24 volunteers. Blowen praised his team, particularly the cast of volunteers.

"Old Friends is like a great baseball team. We have talent at every position. I'm just the lucky manager," he said. "The staff and volunteers are the ones that do it all and, of course, what keeps the team together are our great athletes."

"Old Friends is a special place," recently retired jockey and Old Friends board member Rosie Napravnik stated. "It is such a well-run organization and Michael Blowen is one of the most genuine people I've ever met in racing. When I pull up there I'm practically sprinting up the driveway I'm so excited. I don't really get starstruck by people but I do get starstruck when I visit Old Friends."

Old Friends offers daily tours and attracts up to 1,000 visitors per week during their busiest times of the year.

"Our industry has made significant progress in allowing former racehorses to live out dignified retirements thanks to Old Friends and likeminded organizations," NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop remarked. "We are grateful to Michael and his dedicated team of staff and volunteers for the positive impact they've had on our sport's commitment to aftercare and on the lives of hundreds of Thoroughbreds."

For more information, including how to donate or volunteer, please visit www.OldFriendsEquine.org.

The Special Award will be given for the 24th time since it was inaugurated in 1971 to honor Robert J. Kleberg, manager of the famed King Ranch. Subsequent recipients have included racing luminaries such as Bill Shoemaker, C.V. Whitney, Edward J. DeBartolo, Richard Duchossois, Russell Baze, Laffit Pincay Jr., Dale Baird, Team Zenyatta and last year's recipient, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).

Old Friends will be the third aftercare-related recipient, following Monique Koehler, founder of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, in 2009, and the TAA.

A complete list of past Eclipse Award winners, including the Special Award recipients, may be accessed online at http://ntra.com/en/eclipse-awards/history.

Tickets to the Eclipse Awards ceremony are on sale for $400 each or $4,000 for a table of 10. For reservations, please contact Michele Ravencraft of the NTRA at mravencraft@ntra.com, or call 859-422-2657.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Old Friends to receive Special Eclipse Award

Michael Blowen founded Old Friends in 2003 (Barbara Livingston)

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced Friday that the nonprofit Thoroughbred retirement center Old Friends will be presented with the Special Eclipse Award during the 44th annual Eclipse Awards on January 17 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

The Special Award honors extraordinary service, individual achievements in, or contributions to the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

Founded in 2003 by former Boston Globe film critic Michael Blowen, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Georgetown, Kentucky, cares for more than 150 rescued and retired horses, including several pensioned stallions.

This year, Old Friends became the new home for two of racing's biggest stars from the past 20 years, bringing 1997 Kentucky Derby hero Silver Charm back to his native state after retiring from stud duty in Japan and acquiring three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude after the seven-year-old gelding finished racing.

Other American Grade 1 winners currently residing at the main farm include champions Amazombie, Gulch and Hidden Lake, as well as Affirmed Success, Afternoon Deelites, Bonapaw, Commentator, Dinard, Early Pioneer, Fabulous Strike, Geri, Kiri's Clown, Kudos, Ogygian, Sarava, Sean Avery, Seek Gold, Special Ring, Tinners Way, Wallenda and You and I.

"This is just unbelievable," Blowen said. "We started with one horse just over 10 years ago and now we have 166 retirees. We have several Eclipse Award winners already at the farm; I can't wait to show them mine!"

Additional fan favorites include Rapid Redux, winner of 19 consecutive races in 2011, and Little Silver Charm, the operation's miniature mascot and the farm's only non-Thoroughbred. Old Friends also operates Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division near Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, where past Travers winners Thunder Rumble and Will's Way greet the public, along with infamous 100-time loser Zippy Chippy.

Even while working full-time for the Globe as a staff writer, Blowen would spend mornings at Suffolk Downs working for veteran trainer Carlos Figueroa. Mucking stalls and walking hots aren't typical side jobs for journalists, but for Blowen they were excuses to satisfy his growing fascination with horses. Shortly after Blowen retired from the Globe he accepted a position in Kentucky as operations director for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

Michael Blowen visiting with Old Friends resident Sunshine Forever (Barbara Livingston)

In 2002, the news that 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand had perished in a slaughterhouse spurred Blowen to form his own operation, with an emphasis on retired stallions. Old Friends would be accessible to the public as a way of raising awareness for racehorse retirement and improving racing's image. The presence of high-profile stars would help to raise money and give comfortable homes to lesser names.

"It allows us to take other horses that really didn't do as much but deserve a retirement just as well," Blowen explained. "I want people to come away with really good feelings about the sport of horseracing because I adore it and we've made some inroads in that direction."

The farm is run by five full-time employees, four part-time employees and a dedicated group of 24 volunteers. Blowen praised his team, particularly the cast of volunteers.

"Old Friends is like a great baseball team. We have talent at every position. I'm just the lucky manager," he said. "The staff and volunteers are the ones that do it all and, of course, what keeps the team together are our great athletes."

"Old Friends is a special place," recently retired jockey and Old Friends board member Rosie Napravnik stated. "It is such a well-run organization and Michael Blowen is one of the most genuine people I've ever met in racing. When I pull up there I'm practically sprinting up the driveway I'm so excited. I don't really get starstruck by people but I do get starstruck when I visit Old Friends."

Old Friends offers daily tours and attracts up to 1,000 visitors per week during their busiest times of the year.

"Our industry has made significant progress in allowing former racehorses to live out dignified retirements thanks to Old Friends and likeminded organizations," NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop remarked. "We are grateful to Michael and his dedicated team of staff and volunteers for the positive impact they've had on our sport's commitment to aftercare and on the lives of hundreds of Thoroughbreds."

For more information, including how to donate or volunteer, please visit www.OldFriendsEquine.org.

The Special Award will be given for the 24th time since it was inaugurated in 1971 to honor Robert J. Kleberg, manager of the famed King Ranch. Subsequent recipients have included racing luminaries such as Bill Shoemaker, C.V. Whitney, Edward J. DeBartolo, Richard Duchossois, Russell Baze, Laffit Pincay Jr., Dale Baird, Team Zenyatta and last year's recipient, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).

Old Friends will be the third aftercare-related recipient, following Monique Koehler, founder of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, in 2009, and the TAA.

A complete list of past Eclipse Award winners, including the Special Award recipients, may be accessed online at http://ntra.com/en/eclipse-awards/history.

Tickets to the Eclipse Awards ceremony are on sale for $400 each or $4,000 for a table of 10. For reservations, please contact Michele Ravencraft of the NTRA at mravencraft@ntra.com, or call 859-422-2657.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Malone purchases Ballylinch Stud in Ireland

American businessman John Malone -- chairman of Liberty Media Corp. -- has purchased Ballylinch Stud in Ireland. Malone, along with his wife, Leslie, acquired Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, Florida, in August 2013.

Liberty Media's holdings include Sirius XM and the Atlanta Braves. Malone is the nation's largest landowner, according to Forbes.

"We are delighted to become involved with Ballylinch and (Managing Director) John O'Connor and his staff," Malone commented. "We were attracted to Ballylinch by its strong reputation, built over many years. Leslie and I look forward to continuing the development of Ballylinch into a premier European farm."

Killeen Group Holdings, the former owners of Ballylinch Stud, have decided to exit the bloodstock industry in Ireland.

The Mahony Family, owners of Killeen, commented in a release that, "it is particularly pleased to have completed the sale of Ballylinch Stud to John and Leslie Malone, given their longstanding commitment to, and international standing in, the bloodstock industry. The fostering of Ballylinch Stud, through investment and expansion, was a key project of the late Dr. Tim Mahony, and it was a personal delight for him to have seen Ballylinch's reputation soar internationally.

"The Killeen Group believes that the timing was right for this sale, given the rapidly improving economic climate, the positive outlook for the bloodstock industry in Europe and Ballylinch's significant recent successes, all of which have combined to deliver an environment which sees the Stud trading strongly."

Ballylinch Stud is the current home to leading European freshman sire Lope de Vega as well as Beat Hollow, Dream Ahead, Intense Focus and Lawman.

All of the Ballylinch Stud staff will be retained.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Malone purchases Ballylinch Stud in Ireland

American businessman John Malone -- chairman of Liberty Media Corp. -- has purchased Ballylinch Stud in Ireland. Malone, along with his wife, Leslie, acquired Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, Florida, in August 2013.

Liberty Media's holdings include Sirius XM and the Atlanta Braves. Malone is the nation's largest landowner, according to Forbes.

"We are delighted to become involved with Ballylinch and (Managing Director) John O'Connor and his staff," Malone commented. "We were attracted to Ballylinch by its strong reputation, built over many years. Leslie and I look forward to continuing the development of Ballylinch into a premier European farm."

Killeen Group Holdings, the former owners of Ballylinch Stud, have decided to exit the bloodstock industry in Ireland.

The Mahony Family, owners of Killeen, commented in a release that, "it is particularly pleased to have completed the sale of Ballylinch Stud to John and Leslie Malone, given their longstanding commitment to, and international standing in, the bloodstock industry. The fostering of Ballylinch Stud, through investment and expansion, was a key project of the late Dr. Tim Mahony, and it was a personal delight for him to have seen Ballylinch's reputation soar internationally.

"The Killeen Group believes that the timing was right for this sale, given the rapidly improving economic climate, the positive outlook for the bloodstock industry in Europe and Ballylinch's significant recent successes, all of which have combined to deliver an environment which sees the Stud trading strongly."

Ballylinch Stud is the current home to leading European freshman sire Lope de Vega as well as Beat Hollow, Dream Ahead, Intense Focus and Lawman.

All of the Ballylinch Stud staff will be retained.

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Durkin to be honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit

Tom Durkin will be honored at the Eclipse Awards ceremony in January (NYRA/Barbara Livingston)

Capping an extraordinary career as one of North America's premier race track announcers and one of the most popular personalities in Thoroughbred racing, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters on Thursday announced that Tom Durkin -- longtime voice of the New York Racing Association (NYRA) tracks, the Breeders' Cup and the Triple Crown -- will be honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in the Thoroughbred industry.

Durkin, 64, who retired on August 30 at Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, New York, after a 43-year-career, will be presented the Award of Merit at the 44th Annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony on Saturday, January 17, at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

"This is quite an honor and quite a surprise," Durkin said upon learning the news. "The award has never been given to a track announcer before, and to be singled out when you consider all of the great announcers who preceded me like Fred Capossela, Joe Hernandez, Chick Anderson and Dave Johnson, this is quite a distinction.

"Getting my first job calling races at Florida Downs was a dream come true, but I never imagined my career would take me where it did. A lot of people took a lot of chances to hire a guy named Tom Who? I have them to thank and anybody whoever bet two bucks."

"Tom Durkin has been one of the most remarkable and dynamic voices in our industry for more than a generation," said Alex Waldrop, NTRA president and CEO. "His uncanny ability to tell a story, build it with drama, tension and excitement through his more than 80,000 race calls was a tremendous gift to all of us who treasure horse racing. On behalf of all of the Thoroughbred industry, we congratulate Tom on his outstanding career and for making our sport a much richer and brighter experience for all."

At early age Durkin set his career goal to become a track announcer.

"I never really wanted to be anything else," Durkin recalled. "I was just a kid on the west side of Chicago. And it wasn't the least thing practical. It turned out far more than practical. How many people go to a job they really like?"

Born in the Austin District of Chicago's west side, Durkin idolized Arlington Park's renowned track announcer, Phil Georgeff, and the energy and excitement he brought to his craft. Years later, Durkin wrote the forward to Georgeff's autobiography.

A theatre major at St. Norbert College, Durkin's career behind the microphone began at country fair meetings in Wisconsin in 1971 before his first job at Florida Downs, now known as Tampa Bay Downs. He worked stints at Balmoral, Quad Cities and Cahokia Downs in the Midwest before moving east to call the harness races at The Meadowlands in New Jersey.

More big breaks soon came, starting with John Brunetti hiring him to call the races at Hialeah in 1981. Within three years, Durkin was tabbed by NBC Sports to call the Breeders' Cup, an unprecedented program of $10 million in purses spread over seven races, all televised live by NBC in a four-hour broadcast.

"That first Breeders' Cup was surreal," Durkin reminisced of the 1984 inaugural running at Hollywood Park. "Every race had a minimum of a $1 million purse. But the important thing was that for the first time championships were being decided on the racetrack. It crystalized when Chief's Crown crossed the finish line in the Juvenile and I said 'A champion is crowned, it's Chief's Crown.'"

A string of successes would continue into the next decade when, on August 29, 1990, Durkin became the track announcer for the NYRA venues of Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga. In a decade marked by expanded simulcast signals across North America, Durkin's calls could be heard on a more regular basis. His work also included calling races on ESPN and NBC broadcasts throughout the year, including trips to the Group 1 Irish Derby and Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

When NBC grabbed the rights to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, Durkin became the television voice of the Triple Crown beginning in 2001 and held that position for 10 years.

"Tom is more than deserving of the Award of Merit," six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher remarked. "He's been such a mainstay in our industry for so many years and will clearly go down as one of the best race callers in history, if not the best. He's called most of my biggest career wins, including the 1998 Acorn Stakes with Jersey Girl, which was my first Grade 1 win, and all three of our Triple Crown victories. I would have to say the most memorable for me was his call of the 2007 Belmont Stakes when Rags to Riches triumphed to become the first filly in 102 years to win the race."

Durkin also has contributed time to some of the hardest working and unsung people in racing. For 17 years, he has served on the board of the Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T.), which provides medical care, counseling and other services to backstretch workers at the NYRA tracks. Fans could hear Durkin call a race live from his booth in exchange for a donation to B.E.S.T. Approximately $200,000 was raised over a 10-year period. Durkin also spent many Thursday evenings at Saratoga calling Bingo games in both Spanish and English for the backstretch workers.

In an emotional farewell retirement ceremony following his call of the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga on August 30, Durkin stood before a rain-soaked audience in the winner's circle and credited the racing fan for his phenomenal career.

"There is one person that is completely responsible for this wonderful life that I've had the privilege to live in horse racing," he said. "That person is here in Saratoga today. Right now he's in the backyard sitting at a picnic table under a pine tree looking at this image on the television. She's at top of the stretch leaning over the rail, and she's in a box seat or at a simulcast center in Syracuse or at a track in Ohio or in front of a computer in California. The person I owe an inexpressible gratitude is you, the racing fan, the horseplayer. Thank you."

The Award of Merit will be given for the 39th time since it was inaugurated in 1976 to honor Jack Dreyfus, owner of Hobeau Farm and former NYRA chairman. Subsequent recipients have included racing luminaries such as Ogden Phipps, John Gaines, Alfred Vanderbilt, Bill Shoemaker, D.G. Van Clief Jr., Paul Mellon, Joe Hirsch, James E. Bassett III, John Nerud, Penny Chenery, William S. Farish, Richard Duchossois, Marylou Whitney and last year's recipient, D. Wayne Lukas.

A complete list of past Eclipse Award winners, including the Award of Merit recipients, can be accessed online at http://ntra.com/en/eclipse-awards/history.

Tickets to The Eclipse Awards ceremony are on sale for $400 each or $4,000 for a table of 10. For reservations, please contact Michele Ravencraft of the NTRA at mravencraft@ntra.com, or call 859-422-2657.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Durkin to be honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit

Tom Durkin will be honored at the Eclipse Awards ceremony in January (NYRA/Barbara Livingston)

Capping an extraordinary career as one of North America's premier race track announcers and one of the most popular personalities in Thoroughbred racing, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters on Thursday announced that Tom Durkin -- longtime voice of the New York Racing Association (NYRA) tracks, the Breeders' Cup and the Triple Crown -- will be honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in the Thoroughbred industry.

Durkin, 64, who retired on August 30 at Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, New York, after a 43-year-career, will be presented the Award of Merit at the 44th Annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony on Saturday, January 17, at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

"This is quite an honor and quite a surprise," Durkin said upon learning the news. "The award has never been given to a track announcer before, and to be singled out when you consider all of the great announcers who preceded me like Fred Capossela, Joe Hernandez, Chick Anderson and Dave Johnson, this is quite a distinction.

"Getting my first job calling races at Florida Downs was a dream come true, but I never imagined my career would take me where it did. A lot of people took a lot of chances to hire a guy named Tom Who? I have them to thank and anybody whoever bet two bucks."

"Tom Durkin has been one of the most remarkable and dynamic voices in our industry for more than a generation," said Alex Waldrop, NTRA president and CEO. "His uncanny ability to tell a story, build it with drama, tension and excitement through his more than 80,000 race calls was a tremendous gift to all of us who treasure horse racing. On behalf of all of the Thoroughbred industry, we congratulate Tom on his outstanding career and for making our sport a much richer and brighter experience for all."

At early age Durkin set his career goal to become a track announcer.

"I never really wanted to be anything else," Durkin recalled. "I was just a kid on the west side of Chicago. And it wasn't the least thing practical. It turned out far more than practical. How many people go to a job they really like?"

Born in the Austin District of Chicago's west side, Durkin idolized Arlington Park's renowned track announcer, Phil Georgeff, and the energy and excitement he brought to his craft. Years later, Durkin wrote the forward to Georgeff's autobiography.

A theatre major at St. Norbert College, Durkin's career behind the microphone began at country fair meetings in Wisconsin in 1971 before his first job at Florida Downs, now known as Tampa Bay Downs. He worked stints at Balmoral, Quad Cities and Cahokia Downs in the Midwest before moving east to call the harness races at The Meadowlands in New Jersey.

More big breaks soon came, starting with John Brunetti hiring him to call the races at Hialeah in 1981. Within three years, Durkin was tabbed by NBC Sports to call the Breeders' Cup, an unprecedented program of $10 million in purses spread over seven races, all televised live by NBC in a four-hour broadcast.

"That first Breeders' Cup was surreal," Durkin reminisced of the 1984 inaugural running at Hollywood Park. "Every race had a minimum of a $1 million purse. But the important thing was that for the first time championships were being decided on the racetrack. It crystalized when Chief's Crown crossed the finish line in the Juvenile and I said 'A champion is crowned, it's Chief's Crown.'"

A string of successes would continue into the next decade when, on August 29, 1990, Durkin became the track announcer for the NYRA venues of Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga. In a decade marked by expanded simulcast signals across North America, Durkin's calls could be heard on a more regular basis. His work also included calling races on ESPN and NBC broadcasts throughout the year, including trips to the Group 1 Irish Derby and Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

When NBC grabbed the rights to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, Durkin became the television voice of the Triple Crown beginning in 2001 and held that position for 10 years.

"Tom is more than deserving of the Award of Merit," six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher remarked. "He's been such a mainstay in our industry for so many years and will clearly go down as one of the best race callers in history, if not the best. He's called most of my biggest career wins, including the 1998 Acorn Stakes with Jersey Girl, which was my first Grade 1 win, and all three of our Triple Crown victories. I would have to say the most memorable for me was his call of the 2007 Belmont Stakes when Rags to Riches triumphed to become the first filly in 102 years to win the race."

Durkin also has contributed time to some of the hardest working and unsung people in racing. For 17 years, he has served on the board of the Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T.), which provides medical care, counseling and other services to backstretch workers at the NYRA tracks. Fans could hear Durkin call a race live from his booth in exchange for a donation to B.E.S.T. Approximately $200,000 was raised over a 10-year period. Durkin also spent many Thursday evenings at Saratoga calling Bingo games in both Spanish and English for the backstretch workers.

In an emotional farewell retirement ceremony following his call of the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga on August 30, Durkin stood before a rain-soaked audience in the winner's circle and credited the racing fan for his phenomenal career.

"There is one person that is completely responsible for this wonderful life that I've had the privilege to live in horse racing," he said. "That person is here in Saratoga today. Right now he's in the backyard sitting at a picnic table under a pine tree looking at this image on the television. She's at top of the stretch leaning over the rail, and she's in a box seat or at a simulcast center in Syracuse or at a track in Ohio or in front of a computer in California. The person I owe an inexpressible gratitude is you, the racing fan, the horseplayer. Thank you."

The Award of Merit will be given for the 39th time since it was inaugurated in 1976 to honor Jack Dreyfus, owner of Hobeau Farm and former NYRA chairman. Subsequent recipients have included racing luminaries such as Ogden Phipps, John Gaines, Alfred Vanderbilt, Bill Shoemaker, D.G. Van Clief Jr., Paul Mellon, Joe Hirsch, James E. Bassett III, John Nerud, Penny Chenery, William S. Farish, Richard Duchossois, Marylou Whitney and last year's recipient, D. Wayne Lukas.

A complete list of past Eclipse Award winners, including the Award of Merit recipients, can be accessed online at http://ntra.com/en/eclipse-awards/history.

Tickets to The Eclipse Awards ceremony are on sale for $400 each or $4,000 for a table of 10. For reservations, please contact Michele Ravencraft of the NTRA at mravencraft@ntra.com, or call 859-422-2657.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Tiffany Lass fits Cassatt's plans; Villandry targeting Fair Grounds' turf stakes

Cassatt earned a career-best 105 BRIS Speed rating in the Zia Park Oaks (Zia Park/Coady Photography)

Fox Hill Farm's Cassatt came out of her facile 4 1/2-length victory in the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks on November 26 no worse for the wear and is set to race in Sunday's $50,000 Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds in what could be a launching point for a promising 2015 campaign. On Tuesday morning, the three-year-old filly worked a strong five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 for conditioner Larry Jones.

"She worked well," Jones said. "We entered her for Sunday here in the Tiffany Lass. It sets it up for the ($400,000) Houston Ladies Classic. When they put the (Tiffany Lass) back in, it made the timing perfect coming out of the Zia Park Oaks.  It is almost dead-center and works really good for us."

Hopes have always been high for the regally-bred gray lass, who sold for $300,000 as a 2012 Keeneland September sale yearling and counts the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks in August among her two stakes wins. A daughter of superstar sire Tapit, Cassatt hails from the immediate family of champions Kitten's Joy and Dreaming of Anna, as well as Grade 1 winner Precious Kitten and Grade 2 winners Lewis Michael and Justenuffhumor. She's earned $339,233 from a 7-4-1-0 record.

"She's doing really well," Jones continued. "The (Zia Park Oaks) didn't seem like it was super-taxing on her. She still needs some experience. When she is hooking up with these older horses, she still is a little bit lightly raced for a (soon to be) four-year-old. Another practice race isn't going to hurt her."

Gainesway Stable's graded turf stakes winner Villandry has taken aim on the triad of graded turf stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course, according to trainer Charles LoPresti. The five-year-old homebred gelding exits a career-best performance when powering clear of the field by nearly three lengths in the Grade 3 River City H. at Churchill Downs over nine grassy furlongs on November 8. On Monday, the son of Mr. Greeley put in his first local work, a leisurely five furlongs in 1:02 4/5.

Villandry is hitting his best stride presently (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

"He's doing really well," LoPresti said. "A lot of my horses get the winter off, so I sent him to (trainer) David Carroll (at Fair Grounds). (Gainesway principal) Mr. Beck wanted to go on with him and I've been in direct contact with David.

"We're going to run in the (Grade 3) Colonel (E.R.) Bradley Stakes (on January 17) and take it from there. As long as he continues to do well, we'll keep him down there and move on to the other stakes."

Like many of the famous geldings in the LoPresti barn, Villandry showed talent at a young age, but has really come into his own in the later years of his career. A five-time winner, the River City was his first graded stakes tally and followed a good third in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland and a respectable fourth in both the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine and Grade 2 Firecracker Stakes at Churchill Downs.

"He's been a really good horse this year," LoPresti continued. "He didn't get beat by far in the Northern Dancer or in the Firecracker and he's coming along the right way. Hopefully it pans out for us."

The 1 1/16-miles Bradley is followed by the Grade 3 Fair Grounds H. at 1 1/8-miles on February 21 and ultimately the centerpiece of the meet for turf horses, the Grade 2 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial H. on Louisiana Derby Day, March 28, at the same distance.

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Tiffany Lass fits Cassatt's plans; Villandry targeting Fair Grounds' turf stakes

Cassatt earned a career-best 105 BRIS Speed rating in the Zia Park Oaks (Zia Park/Coady Photography)

Fox Hill Farm's Cassatt came out of her facile 4 1/2-length victory in the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks on November 26 no worse for the wear and is set to race in Sunday's $50,000 Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds in what could be a launching point for a promising 2015 campaign. On Tuesday morning, the three-year-old filly worked a strong five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 for conditioner Larry Jones.

"She worked well," Jones said. "We entered her for Sunday here in the Tiffany Lass. It sets it up for the ($400,000) Houston Ladies Classic. When they put the (Tiffany Lass) back in, it made the timing perfect coming out of the Zia Park Oaks.  It is almost dead-center and works really good for us."

Hopes have always been high for the regally-bred gray lass, who sold for $300,000 as a 2012 Keeneland September sale yearling and counts the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks in August among her two stakes wins. A daughter of superstar sire Tapit, Cassatt hails from the immediate family of champions Kitten's Joy and Dreaming of Anna, as well as Grade 1 winner Precious Kitten and Grade 2 winners Lewis Michael and Justenuffhumor. She's earned $339,233 from a 7-4-1-0 record.

"She's doing really well," Jones continued. "The (Zia Park Oaks) didn't seem like it was super-taxing on her. She still needs some experience. When she is hooking up with these older horses, she still is a little bit lightly raced for a (soon to be) four-year-old. Another practice race isn't going to hurt her."

Gainesway Stable's graded turf stakes winner Villandry has taken aim on the triad of graded turf stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course, according to trainer Charles LoPresti. The five-year-old homebred gelding exits a career-best performance when powering clear of the field by nearly three lengths in the Grade 3 River City H. at Churchill Downs over nine grassy furlongs on November 8. On Monday, the son of Mr. Greeley put in his first local work, a leisurely five furlongs in 1:02 4/5.

Villandry is hitting his best stride presently (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

"He's doing really well," LoPresti said. "A lot of my horses get the winter off, so I sent him to (trainer) David Carroll (at Fair Grounds). (Gainesway principal) Mr. Beck wanted to go on with him and I've been in direct contact with David.

"We're going to run in the (Grade 3) Colonel (E.R.) Bradley Stakes (on January 17) and take it from there. As long as he continues to do well, we'll keep him down there and move on to the other stakes."

Like many of the famous geldings in the LoPresti barn, Villandry showed talent at a young age, but has really come into his own in the later years of his career. A five-time winner, the River City was his first graded stakes tally and followed a good third in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland and a respectable fourth in both the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine and Grade 2 Firecracker Stakes at Churchill Downs.

"He's been a really good horse this year," LoPresti continued. "He didn't get beat by far in the Northern Dancer or in the Firecracker and he's coming along the right way. Hopefully it pans out for us."

The 1 1/16-miles Bradley is followed by the Grade 3 Fair Grounds H. at 1 1/8-miles on February 21 and ultimately the centerpiece of the meet for turf horses, the Grade 2 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial H. on Louisiana Derby Day, March 28, at the same distance.

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Shared Belief, Taris expected for Santa Anita's opening day Grade 1s

Shared Belief and Mike Smith will reunite to close out 2014 in the Malibu (Benoit Photos)

The Grade 1, $300,000 Malibu Stakes, for more than half a century recognized as one of racing's most prestigious sprints, will grow even greater in stature at Santa Anita on opening day Friday, December 26, when Shared Belief runs in the fixture that could have a bearing on determining 2014 Horse of the Year and the Eclipse Award-winning male three-year-old.

The champion two-year-old male of 2013, Shared Belief is coming off his first defeat, a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 1 when a rough start compromised his chances of victory. The gelded son of Candy Ride will be among the finalists in both aforementioned categories, and worked six furlongs at Golden Gate Fields Tuesday in a bullet 1:15, fastest of seven drills at the distance over the Tapeta surface.

"He'll work again this Monday (at Golden Gate) and ship to Santa Anita Tuesday," Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said by phone Thursday morning.

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who has ridden Shared Belief in his last four starts, including the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic, had little concern about the Kentucky-bred coming back nearly two months later at seven furlongs.

"He's won sprinting several times," Smith noted. "The good ones, they can do it all."

The Malibu has been won in the past by such equine elites such as Round Table (1957), Native Diver (1962), Buckpasser (1966), Damascus (1968), Ancient Title (1974), Spectacular Bid (1980), Precisionist (1984), Ferdinand (1986) and Rock Hard Ten (2004).

While many with an official voice likely have already made up their minds, Eclipse Award voting doesn't close until January 4, allowing ballots to be counted for races through 2014. Eclipse Award finalists will be announced January 7, with the winners revealed on the evening of Saturday, January 17, at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

Asked about Shared Belief's chances for a 2014 Eclipse Award, Hollendorfer said that since he didn't have a say in the matter, he would "leave that up to the voters."

In addition to Shared Belief, those considered probable for the Malibu are Grade 3 victors Chitu and Midnight Hawk; dual stakes-placed Conquest Two Step; stakes runner-up and course-record setter Eddie's First; and stakes hero Indianapolis.

The Malibu is one of two Grade 1 races on December 26 as Santa Anita begins its 78th season. The Grade 1, $300,000 La Brea Stakes for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs will also be featured on the nine-race program that also includes the Grade 2, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile, formerly run as the Sir Beaufort Stakes, for sophomores on the turf.

Taris has been untouchable in four of her five starts (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Taris, smashing winner of four-of-five career starts including the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland on October 18, will make her first start since being purchased for $2.35 million at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale when she runs in the La Brea.

"Her works have been really good and we've not missed a day with her," trainer Simon Callaghan said of the Flatter three-year-old. "Training has gone as well as we could have hoped leading up to the race.

"The distance of the La Brea seemed logical, coming off the seven-furlong Raven Run," Callaghan noted. "Down the road we might look to stretch her out but she's done very well at this distance and we're looking forward to the race."

Winner of four races by a combined margin of more than 34 lengths, Taris suffered her only defeat after setting the pace in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park going 1 1/16 miles in March.

"She came back with a slight issue after that race," Callaghan said of the Honeybee. "I can't quite remember what it was, but there was some issue. Aside from that, she's got a very good record."

Rafael Bejarano rides Taris for new owners Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and John Magnier in the La Brea. The filly is scheduled to work four furlongs on Saturday.

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Shared Belief, Taris expected for Santa Anita's opening day Grade 1s

Shared Belief and Mike Smith will reunite to close out 2014 in the Malibu (Benoit Photos)

The Grade 1, $300,000 Malibu Stakes, for more than half a century recognized as one of racing's most prestigious sprints, will grow even greater in stature at Santa Anita on opening day Friday, December 26, when Shared Belief runs in the fixture that could have a bearing on determining 2014 Horse of the Year and the Eclipse Award-winning male three-year-old.

The champion two-year-old male of 2013, Shared Belief is coming off his first defeat, a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 1 when a rough start compromised his chances of victory. The gelded son of Candy Ride will be among the finalists in both aforementioned categories, and worked six furlongs at Golden Gate Fields Tuesday in a bullet 1:15, fastest of seven drills at the distance over the Tapeta surface.

"He'll work again this Monday (at Golden Gate) and ship to Santa Anita Tuesday," Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said by phone Thursday morning.

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who has ridden Shared Belief in his last four starts, including the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic, had little concern about the Kentucky-bred coming back nearly two months later at seven furlongs.

"He's won sprinting several times," Smith noted. "The good ones, they can do it all."

The Malibu has been won in the past by such equine elites such as Round Table (1957), Native Diver (1962), Buckpasser (1966), Damascus (1968), Ancient Title (1974), Spectacular Bid (1980), Precisionist (1984), Ferdinand (1986) and Rock Hard Ten (2004).

While many with an official voice likely have already made up their minds, Eclipse Award voting doesn't close until January 4, allowing ballots to be counted for races through 2014. Eclipse Award finalists will be announced January 7, with the winners revealed on the evening of Saturday, January 17, at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

Asked about Shared Belief's chances for a 2014 Eclipse Award, Hollendorfer said that since he didn't have a say in the matter, he would "leave that up to the voters."

In addition to Shared Belief, those considered probable for the Malibu are Grade 3 victors Chitu and Midnight Hawk; dual stakes-placed Conquest Two Step; stakes runner-up and course-record setter Eddie's First; and stakes hero Indianapolis.

The Malibu is one of two Grade 1 races on December 26 as Santa Anita begins its 78th season. The Grade 1, $300,000 La Brea Stakes for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs will also be featured on the nine-race program that also includes the Grade 2, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile, formerly run as the Sir Beaufort Stakes, for sophomores on the turf.

Taris has been untouchable in four of her five starts (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Taris, smashing winner of four-of-five career starts including the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland on October 18, will make her first start since being purchased for $2.35 million at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale when she runs in the La Brea.

"Her works have been really good and we've not missed a day with her," trainer Simon Callaghan said of the Flatter three-year-old. "Training has gone as well as we could have hoped leading up to the race.

"The distance of the La Brea seemed logical, coming off the seven-furlong Raven Run," Callaghan noted. "Down the road we might look to stretch her out but she's done very well at this distance and we're looking forward to the race."

Winner of four races by a combined margin of more than 34 lengths, Taris suffered her only defeat after setting the pace in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park going 1 1/16 miles in March.

"She came back with a slight issue after that race," Callaghan said of the Honeybee. "I can't quite remember what it was, but there was some issue. Aside from that, she's got a very good record."

Rafael Bejarano rides Taris for new owners Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and John Magnier in the La Brea. The filly is scheduled to work four furlongs on Saturday.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Magic Millions, Racing Queensland unveil Australia's first $10-million program

Officials at Magic Millions in conjunction with Racing Queensland have announced the creation of the Jeep Magic Millions Raceday, the country's first-ever A$10-million program, to be held Saturday, January 9, 2016. The meeting, which will rank among the world's 10 richest, is part of a seven-year partnership which is intended to take the summer racing program in Australia with the Magic Millions Racing Queensland Summer Carnival.

"The phenomenal support and foresight of Racing Queensland, in concert with Magic Millions, has created the Magic Millions $10-Million Raceday," Vin Cox, managing director of the auction house, stated. "The combined vision is a game-changer for Queensland racing, for the Gold Coast and for the Australian Thoroughbred industry as a whole.

"The partnership with Racing Queensland is long-term, which invigorates Thoroughbred racing for the current generation of industry stakeholders, as well as creating momentum and motivation for the next generation of Queenslanders and Australians committing to a Thoroughbred industry career."

The 2015 series features total purse money of A$4.2 million, highlighted by the A$2-million Magic Millions 2YO Classic over 1200 meters. That race will see its prize money boosted to A$2.5 million. While the Magic Millions 3YO Guineas is the only other seven-figure race during next month's races, the newly bolstered series will see no fewer than seven races of A$1 million or more. The 2016 running of the 3YO Guineas will be contested for A$2 million, twice that of the current purse.

Racing Queensland Chairman Kevin Dixon believes the increased purses will attract the best horses and the attention of the racing world.

"Over the past six months, we have built a strong platform with base-level and feature prize money increases and this partnership is the next phase in our vision to take Queensland racing to the world," Dixon remarked. "(This) announcement is just one part of an overall program to continually improve all three codes of racing in Queensland."

To be eligible for the series, the nomination fee for yearlings offered at Magic Millions sales is A$4,950 (including GST) and that will pay up any purchase through its lifetime for participation in any of the Magic Millions-sponsored races across Australia, including the $10-million extravaganza on the Gold Coast.

In a special offer to buyers at the Gold Coast March Sale, the nomination fee will be A$3,300 (including GST), a number which is capped for seven years under the new partnership.

Additionally, Magic Millions is offering a one-off opportunity for owners of eligible horses offered at a Magic Millions yearling sale in 2014 or earlier not previously nominated to do so via a late registration. This windo of opportunity will remain through July 31, 2015 and will not be offered again, according to the company. Horses subject to late registration will qualify to nominate to a race on Magic Millions Raceday, excluding the 2YO Classic and the 3YO Guineas. The late registration fee will be A$4,950 (including GST).

Dixon explained that there will be a slight twist come entry day.

"Another clincher will be the addition of four wild card entries into four $1-million races on Jeep Magic Millions Raceday, which will be granted to eligible winners of four selected races during the summer carnival and potentially give four non-Magic Millions horses a chance to race on the day."

Queensland Minister of Racing Steve Dickson said that Magic Millions is already a contributor to the Gold Coast economy, but that this new partnership would further boost the state's racing and tourism industries.

"We want to grow tourism, as one of the four pillars of the economy, and events like the Magic Millions really help put our state on the map," Dickson said. "Where else can you watch top-quality horses compete for $10 million in stakes just a stone's throw from some of the world's most beautiful beaches?"

Dixon is already looking forward to the event.

"This is a monumental day for the Queensland racing industry and the partnership with Magic Millions leaves no doubt as to where we want to take our racing product," he commented.

JEEP MAGIC MILLIONS RACEDAY
JANUARY 9, 2016

RACE   CONDITIONS   PURSE (A$)
Magic Millions 2YO Classic   2yo, 1200mT   2,500,000
Magic Millions 3YO Guineas   3yo, 1400mT   2,000,000
Magic Millions Sprint   3yo/up, 1100mT   1,000,000
Magic Millions Cup   3yo/up, 1400mT   1,000,000
Magic Millions Trophy   3yo/up, 1800mT   1,000,000
Magic Millions Fillies & Mares   3yo/up, f/m, 1300mT   1,000,000
Magic Millions QTIS All-Aged H.   3yo/up, 1300mT*   1,000,000
Magic Millions Maiden   3yo/up, 1200mT   250,000
Magic Millions Country Cup   3yo/up, 1200mT   250,000

*Distance to be determined
(Special Country Cup conditions)

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Magic Millions, Racing Queensland unveil Australia's first $10-million program

Officials at Magic Millions in conjunction with Racing Queensland have announced the creation of the Jeep Magic Millions Raceday, the country's first-ever A$10-million program, to be held Saturday, January 9, 2016. The meeting, which will rank among the world's 10 richest, is part of a seven-year partnership which is intended to take the summer racing program in Australia with the Magic Millions Racing Queensland Summer Carnival.

"The phenomenal support and foresight of Racing Queensland, in concert with Magic Millions, has created the Magic Millions $10-Million Raceday," Vin Cox, managing director of the auction house, stated. "The combined vision is a game-changer for Queensland racing, for the Gold Coast and for the Australian Thoroughbred industry as a whole.

"The partnership with Racing Queensland is long-term, which invigorates Thoroughbred racing for the current generation of industry stakeholders, as well as creating momentum and motivation for the next generation of Queenslanders and Australians committing to a Thoroughbred industry career."

The 2015 series features total purse money of A$4.2 million, highlighted by the A$2-million Magic Millions 2YO Classic over 1200 meters. That race will see its prize money boosted to A$2.5 million. While the Magic Millions 3YO Guineas is the only other seven-figure race during next month's races, the newly bolstered series will see no fewer than seven races of A$1 million or more. The 2016 running of the 3YO Guineas will be contested for A$2 million, twice that of the current purse.

Racing Queensland Chairman Kevin Dixon believes the increased purses will attract the best horses and the attention of the racing world.

"Over the past six months, we have built a strong platform with base-level and feature prize money increases and this partnership is the next phase in our vision to take Queensland racing to the world," Dixon remarked. "(This) announcement is just one part of an overall program to continually improve all three codes of racing in Queensland."

To be eligible for the series, the nomination fee for yearlings offered at Magic Millions sales is A$4,950 (including GST) and that will pay up any purchase through its lifetime for participation in any of the Magic Millions-sponsored races across Australia, including the $10-million extravaganza on the Gold Coast.

In a special offer to buyers at the Gold Coast March Sale, the nomination fee will be A$3,300 (including GST), a number which is capped for seven years under the new partnership.

Additionally, Magic Millions is offering a one-off opportunity for owners of eligible horses offered at a Magic Millions yearling sale in 2014 or earlier not previously nominated to do so via a late registration. This windo of opportunity will remain through July 31, 2015 and will not be offered again, according to the company. Horses subject to late registration will qualify to nominate to a race on Magic Millions Raceday, excluding the 2YO Classic and the 3YO Guineas. The late registration fee will be A$4,950 (including GST).

Dixon explained that there will be a slight twist come entry day.

"Another clincher will be the addition of four wild card entries into four $1-million races on Jeep Magic Millions Raceday, which will be granted to eligible winners of four selected races during the summer carnival and potentially give four non-Magic Millions horses a chance to race on the day."

Queensland Minister of Racing Steve Dickson said that Magic Millions is already a contributor to the Gold Coast economy, but that this new partnership would further boost the state's racing and tourism industries.

"We want to grow tourism, as one of the four pillars of the economy, and events like the Magic Millions really help put our state on the map," Dickson said. "Where else can you watch top-quality horses compete for $10 million in stakes just a stone's throw from some of the world's most beautiful beaches?"

Dixon is already looking forward to the event.

"This is a monumental day for the Queensland racing industry and the partnership with Magic Millions leaves no doubt as to where we want to take our racing product," he commented.

JEEP MAGIC MILLIONS RACEDAY
JANUARY 9, 2016

RACE   CONDITIONS   PURSE (A$)
Magic Millions 2YO Classic   2yo, 1200mT   2,500,000
Magic Millions 3YO Guineas   3yo, 1400mT   2,000,000
Magic Millions Sprint   3yo/up, 1100mT   1,000,000
Magic Millions Cup   3yo/up, 1400mT   1,000,000
Magic Millions Trophy   3yo/up, 1800mT   1,000,000
Magic Millions Fillies & Mares   3yo/up, f/m, 1300mT   1,000,000
Magic Millions QTIS All-Aged H.   3yo/up, 1300mT*   1,000,000
Magic Millions Maiden   3yo/up, 1200mT   250,000
Magic Millions Country Cup   3yo/up, 1200mT   250,000

*Distance to be determined
(Special Country Cup conditions)

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Unbeaten Dortmund makes stakes bow in Los Alamitos Futurity

Mr. Z just missed to Ocho Ocho Ocho (inside) last out in the Delta Downs Jackpot (Delta Downs/Coady Photography)

Dortmund has captured his two starts to date by a combined 12 1/2 lengths and will put his perfect mark on the line Saturday while making his stakes debut in the Grade 1, $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity.

Formerly the Hollywood/CashCall Futurity, the 1 1/16-mile affair drew only five runners but is shaping up to be an exciting race. Not only is Dortmund entered, but Mr. Z will attempt to give trainer D. Wayne Lukas a sweep of the two-year-old stakes after Take Charge Brandi's half-length score in last Saturday's Grade 1 Starlet at the track.

First, though, the Malibu Moon chestnut will have to defeat four others, including Dortmund. That latter colt has been in firm control during the stretch run of both his starts, beginning his career at Santa Anita on November 2 before traveling cross-country to take a one-mile optional claimer at Churchill Downs 27 days later. Martin Garcia was aboard both times for trainer Bob Baffert and gets the return mount on the Big Brown juvenile Saturday.

Mr. Z is the most experienced runner in the field, having already started seven times this year. The Kentucky-bred began his long season with a maiden debut score at Churchill in late June and has faced off against nothing but graded rivals since. He just missed by a neck next out in the Grade 3 Sanford at Saratoga before filling the second spot yet again at the Spa in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.

A second in Keeneland's Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity was sandwiched between fifth-place efforts in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill and Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park. Mr. Z will enter the Los Alamitos Futurity off a nose second last out in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot on November 22. Mike Smith has the call.

No Problem is the only other entrant with prior stakes experience in the field. The Munnings chestnut took two tries to break his maiden, getting the job done at Santa Anita on October 26, before adding Del Mar's Grade 3 Bob Hope to his resume on November 15. Trained by Mike McCarthy, No Problem has gone off at double-digit odds in two of his three starts, and keeps Victor Espinoza in the saddle on Saturday.

Bench Warrant and Firing Line are both maiden winners with a single loss on their records. The former, a John Sadler-trained son of Street Boss, took his career opener before finishing third against optional claiming challengers, both at Del Mar. Firing Line was second in his Santa Anita bow but then broke his maiden by 4 1/4 lengths at Del Mar on November 30 for trainer Simon Callaghan. The Line of David bay will have Rafael Bejarano in the irons while Tyler Baze will get a leg up on Bench Warrant.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Unbeaten Dortmund makes stakes bow in Los Alamitos Futurity

Mr. Z just missed to Ocho Ocho Ocho (inside) last out in the Delta Downs Jackpot (Delta Downs/Coady Photography)

Dortmund has captured his two starts to date by a combined 12 1/2 lengths and will put his perfect mark on the line Saturday while making his stakes debut in the Grade 1, $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity.

Formerly the Hollywood/CashCall Futurity, the 1 1/16-mile affair drew only five runners but is shaping up to be an exciting race. Not only is Dortmund entered, but Mr. Z will attempt to give trainer D. Wayne Lukas a sweep of the two-year-old stakes after Take Charge Brandi's half-length score in last Saturday's Grade 1 Starlet at the track.

First, though, the Malibu Moon chestnut will have to defeat four others, including Dortmund. That latter colt has been in firm control during the stretch run of both his starts, beginning his career at Santa Anita on November 2 before traveling cross-country to take a one-mile optional claimer at Churchill Downs 27 days later. Martin Garcia was aboard both times for trainer Bob Baffert and gets the return mount on the Big Brown juvenile Saturday.

Mr. Z is the most experienced runner in the field, having already started seven times this year. The Kentucky-bred began his long season with a maiden debut score at Churchill in late June and has faced off against nothing but graded rivals since. He just missed by a neck next out in the Grade 3 Sanford at Saratoga before filling the second spot yet again at the Spa in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.

A second in Keeneland's Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity was sandwiched between fifth-place efforts in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill and Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park. Mr. Z will enter the Los Alamitos Futurity off a nose second last out in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot on November 22. Mike Smith has the call.

No Problem is the only other entrant with prior stakes experience in the field. The Munnings chestnut took two tries to break his maiden, getting the job done at Santa Anita on October 26, before adding Del Mar's Grade 3 Bob Hope to his resume on November 15. Trained by Mike McCarthy, No Problem has gone off at double-digit odds in two of his three starts, and keeps Victor Espinoza in the saddle on Saturday.

Bench Warrant and Firing Line are both maiden winners with a single loss on their records. The former, a John Sadler-trained son of Street Boss, took his career opener before finishing third against optional claiming challengers, both at Del Mar. Firing Line was second in his Santa Anita bow but then broke his maiden by 4 1/4 lengths at Del Mar on November 30 for trainer Simon Callaghan. The Line of David bay will have Rafael Bejarano in the irons while Tyler Baze will get a leg up on Bench Warrant.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Tropical Park Derby and Oaks attract overflow fields

Smooth Daddy seeks his first stakes victory in the Tropical Park Derby (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Oversubscribed fields were drawn for both the Tropical Park Derby and Oaks at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The $75,000 stakes, which used to take place at Calder, are the feature events on the day.

Sixteen, including two also-eligibles, entered the 1 1/16-mile Tropical Park Derby over Gulfstream's turf but only 14 will be allowed to run. Smooth Daddy heads the field off a pair of close placings against Grade 3 rivals in New York. The Tom Albertrani charge led into the stretch of both the Saranac and Hill Prince Stakes before finishing second in the former and third in the latter.

"He likes this course," Albertrani said. "We gave him a little time and he'll be fresh. Hopefully, he'll improve. To me, he seems like a horse that's improved every start. He's coming off a couple of nice races. We're pleased with him. He's been training well going into this race."

The Scat Daddy colt ranks first in BRIS Prime Power in the Tropical Park Derby, with Bashart second in the field rankings. Bashart was fourth in the Saranac before just missing in the Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park and running third in Churchill Downs' Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf in his past two.

The Michael Matz-trained War Front bay keeps Luis Saez aboard while Smooth Daddy will be piloted by Javier Castellano.

Also showing up in the Derby are Wallyanna, upset winner of the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes, and Commonwealth Turf runner-up Other Cheek.

Patsy's Holiday is returning from a more than five-month layoff in the Tropical Park Oaks (Ryan Denver/EquiPhoto)

Two races later in the Tropical Park Oaks, another overflow field of 16 will go 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Only 14 will actually make their way to the gate, with Sandiva seeking her first stateside score in the contest.

The Footstepsinthesand chestnut made her U.S. debut over the summer and has thus far finished seventh in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap, fourth in the Pebbles Stakes and fifth most recently in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 15. Sandiva is a Group 3 winner in both England and France, and will be conceding two-to-six pounds as the 122-pound top weight under Castellano.

"We were fortunate enough that (owners) Al Shaqab sent her over to us," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "She's a filly that's been training well. Her last two races were actually better than they look on paper. We're hoping for a good effort from her. She's been breezing very well at Palm Beach Downs and acts like she's coming up to the race in really good shape.

"(The Tropical Park Oaks) is kind of the last opportunity to run against straight three-year-old fillies, so we wanted to take advantage of that," he added. "I think her race at Churchill was actually better than it appeared. She might have been second-best that day."

The contentious Oaks field also includes Sandiva's stablemate Patsy's Holiday, who is unraced since taking the Desert Vixen Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 19 as well as Sumba Sunset and She's Not Here, the respective runner-up and third-placer in the Grade 3 Boiling Springs at Monmouth in September.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Tropical Park Derby and Oaks attract overflow fields

Smooth Daddy seeks his first stakes victory in the Tropical Park Derby (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Oversubscribed fields were drawn for both the Tropical Park Derby and Oaks at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The $75,000 stakes, which used to take place at Calder, are the feature events on the day.

Sixteen, including two also-eligibles, entered the 1 1/16-mile Tropical Park Derby over Gulfstream's turf but only 14 will be allowed to run. Smooth Daddy heads the field off a pair of close placings against Grade 3 rivals in New York. The Tom Albertrani charge led into the stretch of both the Saranac and Hill Prince Stakes before finishing second in the former and third in the latter.

"He likes this course," Albertrani said. "We gave him a little time and he'll be fresh. Hopefully, he'll improve. To me, he seems like a horse that's improved every start. He's coming off a couple of nice races. We're pleased with him. He's been training well going into this race."

The Scat Daddy colt ranks first in BRIS Prime Power in the Tropical Park Derby, with Bashart second in the field rankings. Bashart was fourth in the Saranac before just missing in the Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park and running third in Churchill Downs' Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf in his past two.

The Michael Matz-trained War Front bay keeps Luis Saez aboard while Smooth Daddy will be piloted by Javier Castellano.

Also showing up in the Derby are Wallyanna, upset winner of the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes, and Commonwealth Turf runner-up Other Cheek.

Patsy's Holiday is returning from a more than five-month layoff in the Tropical Park Oaks (Ryan Denver/EquiPhoto)

Two races later in the Tropical Park Oaks, another overflow field of 16 will go 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Only 14 will actually make their way to the gate, with Sandiva seeking her first stateside score in the contest.

The Footstepsinthesand chestnut made her U.S. debut over the summer and has thus far finished seventh in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap, fourth in the Pebbles Stakes and fifth most recently in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 15. Sandiva is a Group 3 winner in both England and France, and will be conceding two-to-six pounds as the 122-pound top weight under Castellano.

"We were fortunate enough that (owners) Al Shaqab sent her over to us," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "She's a filly that's been training well. Her last two races were actually better than they look on paper. We're hoping for a good effort from her. She's been breezing very well at Palm Beach Downs and acts like she's coming up to the race in really good shape.

"(The Tropical Park Oaks) is kind of the last opportunity to run against straight three-year-old fillies, so we wanted to take advantage of that," he added. "I think her race at Churchill was actually better than it appeared. She might have been second-best that day."

The contentious Oaks field also includes Sandiva's stablemate Patsy's Holiday, who is unraced since taking the Desert Vixen Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 19 as well as Sumba Sunset and She's Not Here, the respective runner-up and third-placer in the Grade 3 Boiling Springs at Monmouth in September.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Palace Malice's New Orleans Handicap named 2014's best performance

Palace Malice's romping win in the New Orleans 'Cap rated as the top performance of 2014 (Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)

Brisnet.com, the official data source of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, and TwinSpires.com, tabs Palace Malice's victory in the New Orleans Handicap on March 29 at Fair Grounds as the top performance this year in North America.

Trained by Todd Pletcher for Dogwood Stable, Palace Malice earned a 113 Speed and 125.1 Class Rating in winning the $400,000 race, making his New Orleans Handicap victory the only performance to earn Speed and Class Ratings greater than 110 and 125 respectively. Speed measures how fast a horse ran while Class is a measurement of performance relative to the competition in the race.

Palace Malice won the New Orleans Handicap by 4 3/4 lengths, defeating the Grade 1-placed Normandy Invasion, multiple stakes winner Sunbean, and 2013 Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul. Palace Malice went on to win the Metropolitan Mile Handicap on Belmont Stakes day and is a candidate for an Eclipse Award as champion older male. Click here for a replay of the race.

"In a year filled with superlative performances, Palace Malice's New Orleans Handicap stands tall as an effort that looks to have been good enough to defeat any other horse this year on his or her best day," said TwinSpires.com Director of Communications Ed DeRosa.

Palace Malice was one of only nine horses to crack the 110 Speed Rating threshold and one of only four to top a 125 Class Rating. Dogwood plans to run Palace Malice in 2015 before he retires to stud at Three Chimneys in Midway, Kentucky. Palace Malice has won seven of 17 starts lifetime, has earned $2,676,135, and his resume also includes a victory in the 2013 Belmont Stakes.

The top Speed Rating of the year went to Taris, who earned a 115 when winning the Lexus Raven Run Stakes on October 18 at Keeneland. The top Class Rating of 2014 belongs to Close Hatches, who earned a 125.8 when winning the Personal Ensign Stakes on August 22 at Saratoga.

As the only horse to earn two Speed Ratings of at least 109 and three of at least 108, Bayern was consistently the year's fastest horse, topping off at 110 for his Breeders' Cup Classic victory that earned a 124 Class Rating.

Speed and Class Ratings are available in the Ultimate Past Performances on Brisnet.com and are free to TwinSpires.com players when they wager.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Palace Malice's New Orleans Handicap named 2014's best performance

Palace Malice's romping win in the New Orleans 'Cap rated as the top performance of 2014 (Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)

Brisnet.com, the official data source of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, and TwinSpires.com, tabs Palace Malice's victory in the New Orleans Handicap on March 29 at Fair Grounds as the top performance this year in North America.

Trained by Todd Pletcher for Dogwood Stable, Palace Malice earned a 113 Speed and 125.1 Class Rating in winning the $400,000 race, making his New Orleans Handicap victory the only performance to earn Speed and Class Ratings greater than 110 and 125 respectively. Speed measures how fast a horse ran while Class is a measurement of performance relative to the competition in the race.

Palace Malice won the New Orleans Handicap by 4 3/4 lengths, defeating the Grade 1-placed Normandy Invasion, multiple stakes winner Sunbean, and 2013 Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul. Palace Malice went on to win the Metropolitan Mile Handicap on Belmont Stakes day and is a candidate for an Eclipse Award as champion older male. Click here for a replay of the race.

"In a year filled with superlative performances, Palace Malice's New Orleans Handicap stands tall as an effort that looks to have been good enough to defeat any other horse this year on his or her best day," said TwinSpires.com Director of Communications Ed DeRosa.

Palace Malice was one of only nine horses to crack the 110 Speed Rating threshold and one of only four to top a 125 Class Rating. Dogwood plans to run Palace Malice in 2015 before he retires to stud at Three Chimneys in Midway, Kentucky. Palace Malice has won seven of 17 starts lifetime, has earned $2,676,135, and his resume also includes a victory in the 2013 Belmont Stakes.

The top Speed Rating of the year went to Taris, who earned a 115 when winning the Lexus Raven Run Stakes on October 18 at Keeneland. The top Class Rating of 2014 belongs to Close Hatches, who earned a 125.8 when winning the Personal Ensign Stakes on August 22 at Saratoga.

As the only horse to earn two Speed Ratings of at least 109 and three of at least 108, Bayern was consistently the year's fastest horse, topping off at 110 for his Breeders' Cup Classic victory that earned a 124 Class Rating.

Speed and Class Ratings are available in the Ultimate Past Performances on Brisnet.com and are free to TwinSpires.com players when they wager.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

In brief

Bob Baffert says American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) is undergoing massage treatment at his Santa Anita barn and is expected to resume training next month. Favored to win the November 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the two-time Grade 1-winning juvenile was scratched four days before the race due to a deep bruise in his left front leg...

Dual classic conqueror and recent Hollywood Derby (G1) victor California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit), pointing to the $500,000 San Antonio S. (G2) on February 7, is scheduled to work at his Los Alamitos headquarters Friday morning at 8 a.m. (PST) under regular rider Victor Espinoza. The Art Sherman trainee captured his turf bow in the Hollywood Derby but returns to dirt for the nine-furlong San Antonio...

Two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder (Henny Hughes) arrived at Santa Anita on Thursday after being turned out at Peacefield Farm near Temecula, California, recovering from a fever which forced her to miss a title defense run in the October 31 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita. "We'll look her over for a couple days and X-ray her lungs to make sure everything is good," Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said Thursday morning. "If it is, then I'll send her to Julie Adair's facility in Chino for a couple of weeks where she can start trotting and get into a little shape, and then I'll bring her back to Santa Anita. We expect everything to be fine, but if not, we'll regroup." Beholder was last seen taking the Zenyatta (G1) for the second straight year on September 27 in her final prep for the Breeders' Cup...

Goldencents (Into Mischief) went out in style, capturing the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile for the second straight year before being retired as a stallion at Spendthrift Farm near Lexington, Kentucky. "He left after the Breeders' Cup (on October 31)," said Dennis O'Neill, brother of trainer Doug O'Neill. "He couldn't be any better. We actually have quite a few breedings, 10 mares in fact, so we're going to support him as a stallion. We're really excited. The breeding season starts February 15 and it looks like they've got 160, 170 mares already, so he's got a full book. Initially he was to stand for $12,500, but after he won the Breeders' Cup again, they bumped it up to $15,000." Meanwhile, Doug O'Neill returns from serving a 75-day suspension on Friday and horses will begin running in his name as trainer again on Santa Anita's opening day, Friday, December 26...

Multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire Clubhouse Ride (Candy Ride), who worked five furlongs Monday in 1:01 over Santa Anita's fast dirt, is a candidate for the $100,000 Daytona S. (G3) going about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf, pending another scheduled breeze on Monday. "If he comes out of that good, he might run in the Daytona," trainer Craig Lewis said. "He hurt his back (two starts back) in the (August 24) Pacific Classic (G1) and had some soft tissue damage near his pelvis, but he's such a tough horse we didn't know anything was wrong until we did a nuclear scan."...

Eden Prairie dashed to victory in the Blushing K.D. (Lynn Roberts/Hodges Photography)

Lothenbach Stables Inc.'s Eden Prairie (Mizzen Mast) wired Fair Grounds' $50,000 Blushing K. D. S. by 1 1/2 lengths on Thursday with jockey Florent Geroux aboard. The duo took command out of the gate and never looked back en route to stopping the clock in 1:44 4/5 for about 1 1/16 miles over the firm turf. Trained by Neil Pessin, Eden Prairie is no stranger to the New Orleans venue, earning her first stakes win in the Pago Hop S. in November 2013 and adding the Marie G. Krantz Memorial H. to her resume while making her four-year-old bow in January. The dark bay filly has also placed in six other stakes, including the Raven Run S. (G2) and Appalachian S. (G3), both at Keeneland. Thursday's score boosted Eden Prairie's career earnings to $343,495 and she boasts a 20-6-2-4 line...

Saturday's $50,000 Sugar Bowl S. -- a race won in the past by the likes of Clever Trick, Archarcharch, Littlexpectations and, last year, Albano -- could be a preview of the major Fair Grounds sophomore stakes, including the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2). Last year, Albano used a victory in the Sugar Bowl to launch himself into a 2014 season that earned him nearly a half-million dollars, a Grade 3 victory and a second to eventual Breeders' Cup Classic winner Bayern in the Haskell Invitational (G1). In this year's five-horse field, all eyes will be on Cinco Charlie (Indian Charlie) and Control Stake (Discreetly Mine). Cinco Charlie already has seven starts, including victories in Churchill Downs' Bashford Manor (G3) and the James F. Lewis III last out at Laurel Park. The Steve Asmussen trainee will break from post 5 under Robby Albarado. Post-time favoritism could easily go to Control Stake, who hails from the barn of meet-leading trainer Tom Amoss and will have the riding services of meet-leading jockey James Graham. The bay was second in the Jean Lafitte Stakes on October 25 at Delta Downs and, last out, romped by 8 1/4 lengths while being eased up in the final strides of an optional claimer over track and distance. Later on Fair Grounds' Saturday program, six juvenile fillies will line up in the $50,000 Letellier Memorial S. going the same six-furlong distance. Trainer Bret Calhoun has been a roll recently with juvenile fillies and he hopes to carry that momentum into the Letellier Memorial with unbeaten Promise Me Silver (Silver City). The Texas homebred returned from a five-month layoff to win Retama Park's Texas Stallion S. on November 15. In June, Promise Me Silver won the Debutante S. at Churchill following a runaway debut maiden victory at Lone Star Park in May. Robby Albarado rides from post 2...

Fair Grounds will also host a pair of stakes on Sunday. The $50,000 Tiffany Lass S. drew a field of five distaffers going a mile and 70 yards while the $50,000 Tenacious S. sends older runners the same distance. Ten were entered in the latter event, including Grand Contender (Strong Contender). The six-year-old gelding recorded back-to-back Grade 3 wins at Lone Star Park during the spring, taking the Texas Mile and Lone Star Park H. for trainer Tom Amoss, and is exiting a third-place run in the Delta Mile on November 22. Grand Contender finished fourth in the 2013 Tenacious. Fellow Amoss pupil Rise Up (Rockport Harbor), hero of the 2013 Delta Downs Jackpot (G3), is seeking his second win of the year in the Tenacious. The bay sophomore romped by 10 3/4 lengths in the Robert Hilton Memorial at Charles Town in April and was third against optional claiming rivals in his most recent start on November 27. Agent Di Nozzo (Ghostzapper), third in last year's Tenacious returns for another shot at the race, as does Flashy Sunrise (Flashy Bull), who has gone 2-1-0 from seven starts since his seventh-place run in the 2013 edition...

Gold Hawk (Empire Maker) continues preparations at Fair Grounds toward a 2015 comeback. The well-bred colt -- by Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker and out of champion Caressing -- is unraced since an unplaced finish in a June 28 allowance at Churchill Downs. Earlier in his career, the Steve Asmussen-trained colt showed considerable promise, recording a convincing allowance win at the New Orleans oval 12 months ago before a third as the favorite in the Lecomte (G3). "Nothing specific is planned for him yet," said David Fiske, racing manager for owner Winchell Thoroughbreds. "We just want to get him back going. He had a little downtime at the farm and we took a chip out of an ankle and removed an undescended testicle that might've been bothering him. We'll take our time with him." On Monday, Gold Hawk breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5, his fourth work since rejoining the Asmussen Fair Grounds string...

Record annual turnover for the second consecutive year and the highest price for a Thoroughbred at public auction anywhere in the world in 2014 were amongst the highlights of another outstanding year at Tattersalls. Annual turnover at Europe's leading bloodstock auctioneers rose from the previous record level of 248,675,700 guineas to an unprecedented 263,411,173 guineas, with other individual highlights including the highest-priced auction yearling in the world for the third year in a row, the world's highest priced Breeze Up two-year-old and a record average of 53,376 guineas for the 4,935 lots sold during the year. "To have added almost 15 million guineas to last year's unprecedented level of turnover is a remarkable achievement and a testimony to the consistently outstanding stock that our predominantly British and Irish consignors have entrusted to Tattersalls," Tattersalls Chairman Edmond Mahony said. "Individual highlights such as the 4.5 million guineas sale of Just the Judge, the year's highest priced auction yearling at Book 1 of the October Yearling Sale and the first ever seven-figure Breeze Up horse in Europe at the Craven Breeze Up Sale, grab the headlines, but the outstanding annual clearance rate of 83.5 percent is not only unmatched this century, but is also a real measure of the strength and depth to the sales at Tattersalls throughout the year. That Tattersalls, uniquely amongst British and Irish Thoroughbred auctioneers, has surpassed the pre-recession levels of turnover by such a wide margin, is a cause for industry optimism as we look forward to 2015. With market leading sales in all categories, Park Paddocks remains the focal point for so many involved in our truly global business and, at this time of year, it is appropriate to thank each and every individual who has helped make 2014 another record breaking year at Tattersalls."

In brief

Bob Baffert says American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) is undergoing massage treatment at his Santa Anita barn and is expected to resume training next month. Favored to win the November 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the two-time Grade 1-winning juvenile was scratched four days before the race due to a deep bruise in his left front leg...

Dual classic conqueror and recent Hollywood Derby (G1) victor California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit), pointing to the $500,000 San Antonio S. (G2) on February 7, is scheduled to work at his Los Alamitos headquarters Friday morning at 8 a.m. (PST) under regular rider Victor Espinoza. The Art Sherman trainee captured his turf bow in the Hollywood Derby but returns to dirt for the nine-furlong San Antonio...

Two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder (Henny Hughes) arrived at Santa Anita on Thursday after being turned out at Peacefield Farm near Temecula, California, recovering from a fever which forced her to miss a title defense run in the October 31 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita. "We'll look her over for a couple days and X-ray her lungs to make sure everything is good," Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said Thursday morning. "If it is, then I'll send her to Julie Adair's facility in Chino for a couple of weeks where she can start trotting and get into a little shape, and then I'll bring her back to Santa Anita. We expect everything to be fine, but if not, we'll regroup." Beholder was last seen taking the Zenyatta (G1) for the second straight year on September 27 in her final prep for the Breeders' Cup...

Goldencents (Into Mischief) went out in style, capturing the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile for the second straight year before being retired as a stallion at Spendthrift Farm near Lexington, Kentucky. "He left after the Breeders' Cup (on October 31)," said Dennis O'Neill, brother of trainer Doug O'Neill. "He couldn't be any better. We actually have quite a few breedings, 10 mares in fact, so we're going to support him as a stallion. We're really excited. The breeding season starts February 15 and it looks like they've got 160, 170 mares already, so he's got a full book. Initially he was to stand for $12,500, but after he won the Breeders' Cup again, they bumped it up to $15,000." Meanwhile, Doug O'Neill returns from serving a 75-day suspension on Friday and horses will begin running in his name as trainer again on Santa Anita's opening day, Friday, December 26...

Multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire Clubhouse Ride (Candy Ride), who worked five furlongs Monday in 1:01 over Santa Anita's fast dirt, is a candidate for the $100,000 Daytona S. (G3) going about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf, pending another scheduled breeze on Monday. "If he comes out of that good, he might run in the Daytona," trainer Craig Lewis said. "He hurt his back (two starts back) in the (August 24) Pacific Classic (G1) and had some soft tissue damage near his pelvis, but he's such a tough horse we didn't know anything was wrong until we did a nuclear scan."...

Eden Prairie dashed to victory in the Blushing K.D. (Lynn Roberts/Hodges Photography)

Lothenbach Stables Inc.'s Eden Prairie (Mizzen Mast) wired Fair Grounds' $50,000 Blushing K. D. S. by 1 1/2 lengths on Thursday with jockey Florent Geroux aboard. The duo took command out of the gate and never looked back en route to stopping the clock in 1:44 4/5 for about 1 1/16 miles over the firm turf. Trained by Neil Pessin, Eden Prairie is no stranger to the New Orleans venue, earning her first stakes win in the Pago Hop S. in November 2013 and adding the Marie G. Krantz Memorial H. to her resume while making her four-year-old bow in January. The dark bay filly has also placed in six other stakes, including the Raven Run S. (G2) and Appalachian S. (G3), both at Keeneland. Thursday's score boosted Eden Prairie's career earnings to $343,495 and she boasts a 20-6-2-4 line...

Saturday's $50,000 Sugar Bowl S. -- a race won in the past by the likes of Clever Trick, Archarcharch, Littlexpectations and, last year, Albano -- could be a preview of the major Fair Grounds sophomore stakes, including the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2). Last year, Albano used a victory in the Sugar Bowl to launch himself into a 2014 season that earned him nearly a half-million dollars, a Grade 3 victory and a second to eventual Breeders' Cup Classic winner Bayern in the Haskell Invitational (G1). In this year's five-horse field, all eyes will be on Cinco Charlie (Indian Charlie) and Control Stake (Discreetly Mine). Cinco Charlie already has seven starts, including victories in Churchill Downs' Bashford Manor (G3) and the James F. Lewis III last out at Laurel Park. The Steve Asmussen trainee will break from post 5 under Robby Albarado. Post-time favoritism could easily go to Control Stake, who hails from the barn of meet-leading trainer Tom Amoss and will have the riding services of meet-leading jockey James Graham. The bay was second in the Jean Lafitte Stakes on October 25 at Delta Downs and, last out, romped by 8 1/4 lengths while being eased up in the final strides of an optional claimer over track and distance. Later on Fair Grounds' Saturday program, six juvenile fillies will line up in the $50,000 Letellier Memorial S. going the same six-furlong distance. Trainer Bret Calhoun has been a roll recently with juvenile fillies and he hopes to carry that momentum into the Letellier Memorial with unbeaten Promise Me Silver (Silver City). The Texas homebred returned from a five-month layoff to win Retama Park's Texas Stallion S. on November 15. In June, Promise Me Silver won the Debutante S. at Churchill following a runaway debut maiden victory at Lone Star Park in May. Robby Albarado rides from post 2...

Fair Grounds will also host a pair of stakes on Sunday. The $50,000 Tiffany Lass S. drew a field of five distaffers going a mile and 70 yards while the $50,000 Tenacious S. sends older runners the same distance. Ten were entered in the latter event, including Grand Contender (Strong Contender). The six-year-old gelding recorded back-to-back Grade 3 wins at Lone Star Park during the spring, taking the Texas Mile and Lone Star Park H. for trainer Tom Amoss, and is exiting a third-place run in the Delta Mile on November 22. Grand Contender finished fourth in the 2013 Tenacious. Fellow Amoss pupil Rise Up (Rockport Harbor), hero of the 2013 Delta Downs Jackpot (G3), is seeking his second win of the year in the Tenacious. The bay sophomore romped by 10 3/4 lengths in the Robert Hilton Memorial at Charles Town in April and was third against optional claiming rivals in his most recent start on November 27. Agent Di Nozzo (Ghostzapper), third in last year's Tenacious returns for another shot at the race, as does Flashy Sunrise (Flashy Bull), who has gone 2-1-0 from seven starts since his seventh-place run in the 2013 edition...

Gold Hawk (Empire Maker) continues preparations at Fair Grounds toward a 2015 comeback. The well-bred colt -- by Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker and out of champion Caressing -- is unraced since an unplaced finish in a June 28 allowance at Churchill Downs. Earlier in his career, the Steve Asmussen-trained colt showed considerable promise, recording a convincing allowance win at the New Orleans oval 12 months ago before a third as the favorite in the Lecomte (G3). "Nothing specific is planned for him yet," said David Fiske, racing manager for owner Winchell Thoroughbreds. "We just want to get him back going. He had a little downtime at the farm and we took a chip out of an ankle and removed an undescended testicle that might've been bothering him. We'll take our time with him." On Monday, Gold Hawk breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5, his fourth work since rejoining the Asmussen Fair Grounds string...

Record annual turnover for the second consecutive year and the highest price for a Thoroughbred at public auction anywhere in the world in 2014 were amongst the highlights of another outstanding year at Tattersalls. Annual turnover at Europe's leading bloodstock auctioneers rose from the previous record level of 248,675,700 guineas to an unprecedented 263,411,173 guineas, with other individual highlights including the highest-priced auction yearling in the world for the third year in a row, the world's highest priced Breeze Up two-year-old and a record average of 53,376 guineas for the 4,935 lots sold during the year. "To have added almost 15 million guineas to last year's unprecedented level of turnover is a remarkable achievement and a testimony to the consistently outstanding stock that our predominantly British and Irish consignors have entrusted to Tattersalls," Tattersalls Chairman Edmond Mahony said. "Individual highlights such as the 4.5 million guineas sale of Just the Judge, the year's highest priced auction yearling at Book 1 of the October Yearling Sale and the first ever seven-figure Breeze Up horse in Europe at the Craven Breeze Up Sale, grab the headlines, but the outstanding annual clearance rate of 83.5 percent is not only unmatched this century, but is also a real measure of the strength and depth to the sales at Tattersalls throughout the year. That Tattersalls, uniquely amongst British and Irish Thoroughbred auctioneers, has surpassed the pre-recession levels of turnover by such a wide margin, is a cause for industry optimism as we look forward to 2015. With market leading sales in all categories, Park Paddocks remains the focal point for so many involved in our truly global business and, at this time of year, it is appropriate to thank each and every individual who has helped make 2014 another record breaking year at Tattersalls."

Results

NORTH AMERICAN NON-GRADED STAKES RESULTS

BLUSHING K. D. S., FG, $50,000, 4YO/UP, F/M, A1 1/16MT, 12-18.
3—EDEN PRAIRIE, f, 4, Mizzen Mast--Clerico, by Elusive Quality. ($50,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Lothenbach Stables, Inc, B-Dorothy A Matz (KY), T-Neil L. Pessin, J-Florent Geroux, $30,000.
4—Kitten's Queen, f, 4, Kitten's Joy--High Chant, by War Chant. O-Ramsey, Kenneth L and Sarah K, B-Kenneth L & Sarah K Ramsey (KY), $10,000.
1—One Time Only, f, 4, Lemon Drop Kid--Salty Romance, by Salt Lake. ($375,000 '11 FTKZEE; $170,000 2014 KEENOV). O-Hilary A Pridham, B-Nustar Breeding, LLC (NY), $5,500.
Also Ran: Flashy Gal, Malibu Yankee, Class Included.
Winning Time: 1:44 4/5 (fm)
Margins: 1HF, NO, 2 3/4.
Odds: 1.30, 3.60, 10.30.

Features

HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

DECEMBER 19, 2014

by Dick Powell

Late in life, I have become a soccer geek. It began about six years ago and many weekday afternoons I am watching Champions League soccer from Europe. At its highest level, it is an incredible sporting event and the intrigue surrounding the players and managers becomes addictive.

So last season, when Bob Baffert unveiled Bayern (Offlee Wild) in January, it caught my attention since Bayern Munich is the perennial champion of the German Soccer League (Bundesliga). When he beat Tap It Rich (Tapit) by 15 lengths in his second career start, he really caught my attention.

So Bayern went on to have a great year that culminated with his controversial win in the Breeders' Cup Classic, his second Grade 1 stakes win of the year. The day after the Classic, I was flying back to Saratoga and missed the unveiling of Dortmund (Big Brown) at Santa Anita.

Named after another Bundesliga team, Borussia Dortmund, Dortmund is owned by Bayern's owner, and soccer fan, Kaleem Shah, and he won his debut going 6 1/2 furlongs by 4 3/4 lengths when he stalked a fast pace and took over with ease.

Baffert next shipped him to Churchill Downs where he beat first-level allowance foes by almost eight lengths from post 12 in fast time. He covered the mile in 1:35.39 despite covering more ground than anyone in the field as Martin Garcia kept him wide and in the clear.

Dortmund earned a BRIS Speed rating of 98 and now he shows up for the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) going two turns at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday. Despite the lack of stakes credentials, he is the early favorite in many pools for the 2015 Kentucky Derby. He has unbelievable cruising speed and a potent late kick. When horses get better when asked to go longer, the sky is the limit and Dortmund's stakes debut is eagerly anticipated.

In Dortmund's way -- ironically on a track that both Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas cut their teeth in Quarter Horse racing -- is Lukas' Mr. Z (Malibu Moon). He loses more than he wins but he has run well going two turns with blinkers added. Lukas shipped him to Delta Downs where he just missed in the $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3).

Mr. Z only has one career win but he has four seconds against graded stakes company and could be tough here if Mike Smith sends him from the gate and tries to take advantage of a small field that seems to lack pace.

What a great classic season it could be next year if we have Lukas and Baffert on the road to the Derby and Kentucky Oaks.

*****

New York is on a well-earned break with no racing for 10 days. Racing will resume on the day after Christmas and hopefully we will see better field sizes.

Since the Inner Dirt Track opened on December 3, the average field size was 7.56. It is even worse when you break out the two-turn races from the sprints. In 45 races going two turns, the average field size was 7.27. In 55 sprint races, the average field size was 7.8. Not great either but better than the two-turn races.

There were a few off-the-turf races at the start of the meet so that hurt the two-turn numbers but not that much.

David Jacobson is the leading trainer with five wins. Todd Pletcher and Linda Rice have won four and Tom Albertrani, Charlton Baker, Eddie Kenneally, Gary Contessa, Gary Gullo, Kiaran McLaughlin and Michael Wilson have won three each.

McLaughlin's three wins all came last weekend. All were first-time starters. All were heavy favorites. Two were juveniles and one was a three-year-old. McLaughlin wins 14 percent with his debut runners and that percentage will go up. They all ran with Lasix since Darley owned the sophomore and they do not let their juveniles run with it.

Best of the bunch was Perchance (Distorted Humor). This juvenile filly was owned and bred by Stonestreet Stables and she faced 11 others in Sunday's 4TH race. She stalked a modest pace from the inside, swung out to challenge for the lead, then cruised home while being throttled down. Her final time of 1:14.18 was not much but she clearly had a lot left in the tank.

By Distorted Humor out of multiple Grade 1-winning sprinter Dream Rush (Wild Rush), she is a half-sister to Dreaming of Julia (A.P. Indy), who won the Frizette Stakes (G1) and Gulfstream Oaks (G2), and the exciting Atreides (Medaglia d'Oro), who is four-for-five and coming to a big race near you.

When Dreaming of Julia won the Gulfstream Oaks, she earned a BRIS Speed rating of 107 and, on many horse rating systems, it was the fastest race ever run. She won by 21 3/4 lengths and it was a monstrous performance that she was never able to repeat. But it showed an incredible amount of talent and if Perchance can show a fraction of her half-sister's ability, Stonestreet could have another good one on their hands.

Results

NORTH AMERICAN ALLOWANCE RESULTS

LRL, 6TH, AOC, $46,654, 3YO/UP, F/M, 7F, 12-18.
5—STORMIN WENDY, f, 3, Ecclesiastic--Hidden Fever, by Stormin Fever. ($9,000 '12 FTMOCT). O-Hidden Hill Farm, B-Thomas L Teal (KY), T-John J. Robb, J-Jevian Toledo, $25,650.
3—Charm City, f, 4, City Zip--Ragtime Doll, by Smarten. O-Mary E Eppler Racing Stable, Inc and Triple Tree Stable, B-Mary E Eppler Racing Stable, Inc & A Leonard Pineau (MD), $11,104.
4—Foursouthernbelles, m, 5, Stephen Got Even--Toni DeNitto, by Quiet American. ($1,000 '10 FTKOCT). O-Franklin G Smith, Sr, B-Runnymede Farm Inc & Catesby W Clay (KY), $4,950.
Winning Time: 1:24 1/5 (ft)
 
LRL, 8TH, AOC, $42,809, 2YO, 1M, 12-18.
2—BODHISATTVA, c, 2, Student Council--Dr. Cheryl P., by Talk Is Money. O-Jose Corrales, B-Andy Stronach (CA), T-Jose Corrales, J-Victor Santiago, $23,940.
3—Savvy Street, c, 2, Street Sense--Marieval, by El Prado (IRE). ($92,000 '13 KEESEP). O-Barbara J Houck, B-Dr John R Cummins (KY), $8,820.
5—Don't Be Fooled, g, 2, Latent Heat--Da Choice, by Dehere. O-Skeedattle Associates, B-Skeedattle Associates (MD), $5,429.
Winning Time: 1:38 2/5 (ft)
 
FG, 1ST, ALW, $41,000, 3YO/UP, 6F, 12-18.
4—KING BANDIT, g, 5, Time Bandit--Ante Nettie, by Upping the Ante. O-Peter L Orlando, B-Peter Lawrence Orlando (LA), T-Peter L. Orlando, J-Kirk Paul LeBlanc, $24,600.
5—Sir Genghis, g, 3, Tale of the Cat--Staria, by Unbridled's Song. ($52,000 '12 KEESEP). O-Sanders, Wayne and Hirsch, Larry, B-Randel Stutes (LA), $8,200.
3—Senior Rapidor, g, 3, Heckle--Senorita Rapida, by Falstaff. O-Whispering Oaks Farm LLC, B-Carrol J Castille (LA), $4,510.
Winning Time: 1:11 (ft)
 
DED, 2ND, ALW, $40,600, 3YO/UP, F/M, 7 1/2F, 12-18.
7—ALYSAY, f, 3, Top Venture--Jennifer's Say, by Oh Say. O-Patti Turner, B-Jerry D Cart (LA), T-Patti Turner, J-Alfredo Contreras, $25,200.
4—Evangelinewaitonme, m, 5, Big Top Cat--Waitonme, by Naevus. O-Ronnie Simon, B-Ronald G Alleman & Terry Paul Bodin (LA), $8,400.
1—Raging Atlantic, f, 3, Stormy Atlantic--Angel Trumpet, by Cape Canaveral. ($140,000 '12 KEESEP). O-Cardinal Stables, B-St George Farm LLC (KY), $3,520.
Winning Time: 1:35 3/5 (ft)
 
FG, 7TH, ALW, $40,000, 3YO/UP, 1M, 12-18.
7—MY SHOUT, g, 3, Behindatthebar--Dues Up Front, by Devil His Due. ($38,000 '12 OBSAUG; $65,000 2013 OBSAPR). O-Norman Stables, LLC, B-Cloyce C Clark Jr (LA), T-W. Bret Calhoun, J-Robby Albarado, $24,000.
8—Next Event, g, 3, Smarty Jones--Ina Nic of Time, by Nicholas. O-Babineaux, Harold and Schexnayder, Carl, B-Carl Schexnayder & Harold Babineaux (LA), $8,000.
3—Youve Got a Friend, g, 3, My Pal Charlie--Maria's Kitty, by Maria's Mon. O-Louie J Roussel III, B-Twin Creeks Farm (LA), $4,400.
Winning Time: 1:39 2/5 (ft)
 
DED, 8TH, ALW, $40,000, 3YO/UP, 5F, 12-17.
7—PRAIRIE GOLD, g, 4, Honor Glide--Southern Surprise, by Northern Prospect. O-End Zone Athletics, Inc, B-Carl Raabe (LA), T-Karl Broberg, J-Colby J. Hernandez, $24,000.
1—Pioneer's Era, g, 3, Time Bandit--Pioneer Gal, by Pioneering. ($3,000 2013 EVDMAR). O-5B Farm LLC, B-Oak Tree Stables, LLC (LA), $8,000.
5—Tupelo, g, 3, Lone Star Special--Night Diamond, by Valid Expectations. O-Tigertail Ranch, B-Tigertail Ranch (LA), $4,400.
Winning Time: :59 2/5 (ft)
 
DED, 7TH, ALW, $39,700, 3YO/UP, 7 1/2F, 12-17.
9—YONADIXIE, g, 4, Yonaguska--Shes Dixies Eskimo, by Eskimo. O-John Luck, B-John Luck (LA), T-Samuel Breaux, J-Gerard Melancon, $25,200.
1—F J Uncle Vic, c, 3, Uncle Abbie--Let Her Reign, by Rampage. O-Evans, Johnny B and Eoff, Terry, B-Mr & Mrs Frank Prifitera (TX), $6,400.
5—Aheadatthebar, g, 3, Behindatthebar--Kitty on the Track, by Kitwood. ($4,700 '12 ESLSEP; $30,000 2013 OBSJUN). O-Intrepid Thoroughbreds Special Partnership #1, B-Jim & Natalie Montgomery (LA), $4,620.
Winning Time: 1:34 (ft)
 
FG, 4TH, AOC, $39,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, A1 1/16MT, 12-18.
3—NOTTE D'ORO, f, 3, Medaglia d'Oro--May Night, by Gulch. O-Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC, B-Twin Creeks Farm, Tom & Nancy Clark (KY), T-Michael Stidham, J-James Graham, $23,400.
4—Compelling Case, m, 5, Successful Appeal--Jousting, by Sword Dance (IRE). O-Team Block, B-Team Block (IL), $7,800.
6—Impetuous Youth, f, 3, Candy Ride (ARG)--I Believe in You, by Pleasant Tap. O-Jay Em Ess Stable, B-Mace & Samantha Siegel (KY), $4,290.
Winning Time: 1:45 2/5 (fm)
 
GP, 8TH, AOC, $36,000, 3YO/UP, 7 1/2FT, 12-18.
10—ARIPEKA, g, 4, Bernstein--Winter's Quest, by Coronado's Quest. ($15,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Little, Barry and Little, Randolph, B-Castleton Lyons & Kilboy Estate (KY), T-Eddie Kenneally, J-Julien R. Leparoux, $21,600.
12—Riding the River, g, 7, Wiseman's Ferry--Glow Ruby Go, by Rubiano. ($3,500 '08 FTKOCT). O-Commonwealth Stable, B-Juliana Orem (KY), $7,200.
4—Gunderson, g, 4, Corinthian--Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat. O-Kendall E Hansen, B-Dr Kendall Hansen (KY), $3,240.
Winning Time: 1:28 2/5 (fm)
 
GP, 4TH, AOC, $36,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 7F, 12-18.
2—OASIS AT MIDNIGHT, f, 4, Midnight Lute--Per Se, by Deputy Commander. ($110,000 '11 KEESEP; $30,000 2013 KEENOV). O-David L Rousso, B-Beclawat Stable (KY), T-Joseph F. Orseno, J-Orlando Bocachica, $21,600.
3—Quiet Hour, f, 4, Quiet American--Gone to Utah, by Salt Lake. ($80,000 '11 FTKOCT). O-Miller Racing LLC, B-Carolyn Nicewonder Beverly (VA), $7,920.
4—Cabo Queen, f, 4, More Than Ready--First Quarter, by Sky Classic. ($40,000 '11 KEESEP; $270,000 2014 KEENOV). O-Stonestreet Stables LLC, B-Peter Redekop BC Ltd (BC), $3,960.
Winning Time: 1:24 4/5 (ft)
 
GP, 9TH, AOC, $35,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 6F, 12-18.
1—MORE THAN A PARTY, f, 3, More Than Ready--Party to Party, by Jules. O-Malouf, Richard and Broome, Edwin Thomas, B-Richard Malouf & Edwin Broome (NJ), T-Edwin T. Broome, J-Irad Ortiz, Jr., $21,000.
10—Angel Code, f, 3, Old Fashioned--Angel Island, by Forestry. ($120,000 '12 KEESEP; $160,000 2013 OBSMAR). O-Passion Stable, Inc, B-George B Bolton (KY), $7,000.
5—Upbeat Mood, f, 4, Mizzen Mast--Ixora, by Dynaformer. ($7,000 2012 KEEJAN; $70,000 2014 KEENOV). O-Miller Racing LLC, B-Millsec, Ltd (KY), $3,500.
Winning Time: 1:10 3/5 (ft)
 
DED, 4TH, ALW, $33,700, 3YO/UP, 7 1/2F, 12-17.
7—OUT OF PATIENCE, c, 3, Heart of the Storm--With a Passion, by Honour and Glory. O-Maggi Moss, B-B A Man, Inc & Richard Maynard (KY), T-Thomas M. Amoss, J-Gerard Melancon, $19,200.
6—Kody With a K, g, 3, Stormy Atlantic--Privateers Bay, by Allen's Prospect. ($82,000 '12 FTKOCT). O-Michelle Y Brown, B-Corner Farm & Stormy Atlantic Syndicate (VA), $6,400.
4—Wildcat Friendship, g, 3, Wildcat Heir--Toasttofriendship, by Salt Lake. ($15,000 '12 KEESEP; $5,000 '12 OBSJAN; $50,000 2013 OBSAPR). O-Parting Glass Racing (Thomas J Gallo), B-Georgia Farms Inc (LA), $4,620.
Winning Time: 1:32 3/5 (ft)
 
PEN, 6TH, ALW, $29,500, 3YO/UP, 6F, 12-17.
5—CONTE, g, 4, Doneraile Court--Flattered, by Saint Ballado. O-Laura Radcliffe, B-Mike Pietrangelo (KY), T-Marcos Zulueta, J-Frankie Pennington, $17,700.
9—Ifimlyinimdyin, g, 5, Yes It's True--Encore, by Storm Cat. ($32,000 '10 OBSAUG). O-Golden Key Racing Stable, B-Fredericka V Caldwell & Mitchel Skolnick (KY), $5,900.
7—Groovin' Solo, g, 5, Bob and John--Squall Linda, by Summer Squall. O-Todd M McCarty, B-Cho Myung Kwon (KY), $3,245.
Winning Time: 1:11 1/5 (ft)
 
CT, 6TH, ALW, $27,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 4 1/2F, 12-17.
7—LITTLE BOP PEEP, f, 4, Bop--Polish Treaty, by Danzig. O-Funkhouser Associates, Inc and O'Sullivan Farms LLC, B-O'Sullivan Farms LLC & Funkhouser Associates, Inc (WV), T-John H. Dillow, J-Erik Ramirez, $16,140.
4—J. J.'s Local Law, f, 4, Deputy Rokeby--Home Deed, by Alydeed. O-Julie S Hess, B-Julie Hess (WV), $5,380.
2—Roy's Eagle, f, 3, On Eagles Wings--Das Is Alles, by Roy. O-John D McKee, B-John D McKee (WV), $2,690.
Winning Time: :53 2/5 (ft)
 
CT, 4TH, ALW, $26,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 4 1/2F, 12-17.
5—WHENNOONE'SLOOKING, f, 3, Street Boss--What Do I Do, by Two Smart. O-R Larry Johnson, B-R Larry Johnson (VA), T-Suzanne A. Dempsey, J-Gustavo Larrosa, $15,540.
2—Fiery Star, f, 3, Elusive Quality--Fiery Pulpit, by Pulpit. O-Thin Blue Line Stable LLC, B-Triton Farms, LLC (KY), $5,180.
(DH) 4—Unhinched, m, 5, Eavesdropper--Insidious Lass, by Ball's Bluff. O-Gary W Carter, B-Gary W Carter (WV), $1,943.
(DH) 6—Read It and Weep, f, 3, Read the Footnotes--Bauhaus Bourbon, by Behrens. ($55,000 '12 FTKJUL; $120,000 2013 OBSJUN). O-Tom Schafer, B-Delahanty Stock Farm (NY), $1,942.
Winning Time: :52 3/5 (ft)
 
CT, 7TH, ALW, $26,000, 2YO, 6 1/2F, 12-17.
8—TOO MUCH TO DO, g, 2, Charitable Man--Ginger Crumb, by Hansel. O-John A Casey, B-John Casey (WV), T-John A. Casey, J-Gerald Almodovar, $15,480.
1—Gaelic Man, g, 2, Denis of Cork--Short Cake Lass, by Goldminers Gold. O-Taylor Mountain Farm LLC, B-James W Casey (WV), $5,160.
3—George Town Cat, g, 2, Fiber Sonde--Edwina, by Honour and Glory. O-John D McKee, B-John D McKee (WV), $2,580.
Winning Time: 1:21 (ft)

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

SPOT PLAYS

For Friday

TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
Charles Town   (6th) Sting's Ransom, 8-1
    (9th) Wide Eyed Clyde, 3-1
Delta Downs   (4th) Doctor Romance, 10-1
    (7th) Texas Fire, 9-2
Fair Grounds   (1st) Distant Kingdom, 3-1
    (3rd) Ultimo Trago, 7-2
Gulfstream Park   (2nd) Waquoit's Dance, 8-1
    (9th) Speed Seeker, 10-1
Hawthorne   (8th) Copus, 9-2
    (9th) Ucanchangethename, 4-1
Laurel Park   (1st) Star Academy, 3-1
    (6th) Perpetual Optimism, 3-1
Los Alamitos   (5th) Aguacita, 5-1
    (6th) Stipend, 3-1
Penn National   (3rd) Great Starlene, 7-2
    (7th) Celtic King, 8-1
Sunland Park   (9th) Sheer Joy, 3-1
    (10th) Gone Dandy, 8-1
Tampa Bay Downs   (3rd) Paltarrevenge, 8-1
    (8th) Azure Dragon, 8-1
Turfway Park   (1st) A Giant Lure, 4-1
    (8th) Hawkshaw, 4-1

HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.

Announcements

Help Wanted

A horse racing website is currently hiring for part-time positions as a Customer Service Representative in Lexington, Kentucky. Must be available nights and weekends. Some weekdays may also be available. Computer literacy required, horse racing knowledge and customer service experience a plus. To schedule an interview, email or send your résumé to the following: Nancy.Kanaval@brisnet.com, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.

North American Maiden Winners
Aisle--One Ringy Dingy by Caller I. D.; AISLE RING, c, 2, PEN, Mcl 25000, 12-18, 1m, 1:42 3/5. B-Dona M. Albright (PA.).
Cool Coal Man--A Special Toast by Glitterman; COALMINER, c, 2, GP, Mcl 35000, 12-18, 1m, 1:40 3/5. B-Mari George (FL.). $4,000 2014 OBSJAN.
Cool Coal Man--Cry At My Wedding by Street Cry (IRE); COOL TEARS, f, 2, LRL, Msw, 12-18, 5 1/2f, 1:05 2/5. B-LynnDale Farm, Inc. (FL.). $25,000 '13 OBSAUG; $110,000 2014 OBSAPR.
Curlin--Evening Star by Malibu Moon; STELLAR WIND, f, 2, LRL, Msw, 12-18, 1m, 1:38 2/5. B-Keswick Stables & Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (VA.). $86,000 '13 FTMSEP; $40,000 '13 FTSAUG.
E Dubai--Tejas Gold by Tejano Run; LAST, c, 2, PEN, Msw, 12-17, 6f, 1:12 4/5. B-Barlar, LLC (PA.).
Hard Spun--Boodles by Mr. Greeley; WATCHYOUROWNBOBBER, g, 2, GP, Mcl 50000, 12-18, 1mT, 1:35 . B-Ashview Farm LLC & Colts Neck Stables (KY.). $25,000 '13 KEESEP; $62,000 2014 OBSAPR.
Ministers Wild Cat--Short Sentence by Swiss Yodeler; SWISS SILVER, c, 2, LRC, Msw, 12-18, 6f, 1:09 3/5. B-Revocable Trust of Dr. Mikel C. & Patricia O. Harrington (CA.). *1/2 to Better Bet (SW $261,620).
My Pal Charlie--Vibrant by Vicar; HARBOUR ISLAND, f, 2, FG, Msw, 12-18, 6f, 1:11 1/5. B-Spendthrift Farm LLC (KY.). *1/2 to Vicar's in Trouble (MG2 $1,228,292).
Scat Daddy--La Violette by Coronado's Quest; SCATLADYBDANCING, f, 2, HAW, Msw, 12-18, 6f, 1:11 2/5. B-Carson Springs Farm, Inc. (IL.). $60,000 '13 FTKOCT; $220,000 2014 OBSAPR.
Silent Pleasure--Tincan Too by Barkerville; TINC, f, 2, DED, Mcl 10000, 12-18, 1m, 1:44 . B-Penny Scarberry (LA.).
Zarbyev--Very Gifted by Gift of Gib; ZARB'S GIFT, c, 2, DED, Msw, 12-17, 6 1/2f, 1:20 4/5. B-Chad White (LA.).
Exchange Rate--Darling Katey ($279,035), by Marquetry; EX MARQ, g, 3, FG, Mcl 10000, 12-18, 6f, 1:13 4/5. B-Montgomery Equine Center & Charles McTire (LA.). $2,000 '12 ESLSEP; $8,000 2013 EVDMAR.
Lewis Michael--Jaguar Cielo by Conquistador Cielo; LEWIS CIELO, g, 3, HAW, Mcl 15000, 12-18, 6f, 1:11 1/5. B-Jaguar on the Run Stables (IL.).
More Than Ready--Apple Annie by Lemon Drop Kid; NO MORE APPLES, f, 3, TP, Mcl 5000, 12-18, 1m, 1:42 3/5. B-William B. Harrigan & Mike Pietrange (KY.).
Not for Love--Reasonable Code by Lost Code; SWAGGER IN, g, 3, CT, Msw, 12-17, 4 1/2f, :53 3/5. B-Sam E. English II (WV.).
Shermanesque--Fly Francie Fly by Secret Claim; GAVIN'S BEAU, g, 3, DED, Mcl 10000, 12-17, 7f, 1:30 . B-Chris & Gavin Hebert (LA.).
Wildcat Heir--Worldly Bold by World Appeal; WILDLY APPEALING, f, 3, CT, Mcl 10000, 12-17, 7f, 1:30 3/5. B-Myron Wilson (PA.). $65,000 2013 FTMMAY. *1/2 to Bold World (G3 $376,710).
Royal Strand (IRE)--Jas Minister by The Prime Minister; FOLSOM'S JAS, m, 5, FG, Mcl 10000, 12-18, 6f, 1:14 2/5. B-Jimmy R. Zamin (LA.).
Domestic Dispute--Etcetera Etcetera by Citidancer; DOMESTIC RUTH, m, 6, PEN, Mcl 5000, 12-17, 6f, 1:15 3/5. B-Albert H., Randy L. & Alyse L. Cohen & Harold G. Spigler Jr. (MD.). $1,700 '08 FTMDEC.

Features

HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

DECEMBER 19, 2014

by Dick Powell

Late in life, I have become a soccer geek. It began about six years ago and many weekday afternoons I am watching Champions League soccer from Europe. At its highest level, it is an incredible sporting event and the intrigue surrounding the players and managers becomes addictive.

So last season, when Bob Baffert unveiled Bayern (Offlee Wild) in January, it caught my attention since Bayern Munich is the perennial champion of the German Soccer League (Bundesliga). When he beat Tap It Rich (Tapit) by 15 lengths in his second career start, he really caught my attention.

So Bayern went on to have a great year that culminated with his controversial win in the Breeders' Cup Classic, his second Grade 1 stakes win of the year. The day after the Classic, I was flying back to Saratoga and missed the unveiling of Dortmund (Big Brown) at Santa Anita.

Named after another Bundesliga team, Borussia Dortmund, Dortmund is owned by Bayern's owner, and soccer fan, Kaleem Shah, and he won his debut going 6 1/2 furlongs by 4 3/4 lengths when he stalked a fast pace and took over with ease.

Baffert next shipped him to Churchill Downs where he beat first-level allowance foes by almost eight lengths from post 12 in fast time. He covered the mile in 1:35.39 despite covering more ground than anyone in the field as Martin Garcia kept him wide and in the clear.

Dortmund earned a BRIS Speed rating of 98 and now he shows up for the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) going two turns at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday. Despite the lack of stakes credentials, he is the early favorite in many pools for the 2015 Kentucky Derby. He has unbelievable cruising speed and a potent late kick. When horses get better when asked to go longer, the sky is the limit and Dortmund's stakes debut is eagerly anticipated.

In Dortmund's way -- ironically on a track that both Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas cut their teeth in Quarter Horse racing -- is Lukas' Mr. Z (Malibu Moon). He loses more than he wins but he has run well going two turns with blinkers added. Lukas shipped him to Delta Downs where he just missed in the $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3).

Mr. Z only has one career win but he has four seconds against graded stakes company and could be tough here if Mike Smith sends him from the gate and tries to take advantage of a small field that seems to lack pace.

What a great classic season it could be next year if we have Lukas and Baffert on the road to the Derby and Kentucky Oaks.

*****

New York is on a well-earned break with no racing for 10 days. Racing will resume on the day after Christmas and hopefully we will see better field sizes.

Since the Inner Dirt Track opened on December 3, the average field size was 7.56. It is even worse when you break out the two-turn races from the sprints. In 45 races going two turns, the average field size was 7.27. In 55 sprint races, the average field size was 7.8. Not great either but better than the two-turn races.

There were a few off-the-turf races at the start of the meet so that hurt the two-turn numbers but not that much.

David Jacobson is the leading trainer with five wins. Todd Pletcher and Linda Rice have won four and Tom Albertrani, Charlton Baker, Eddie Kenneally, Gary Contessa, Gary Gullo, Kiaran McLaughlin and Michael Wilson have won three each.

McLaughlin's three wins all came last weekend. All were first-time starters. All were heavy favorites. Two were juveniles and one was a three-year-old. McLaughlin wins 14 percent with his debut runners and that percentage will go up. They all ran with Lasix since Darley owned the sophomore and they do not let their juveniles run with it.

Best of the bunch was Perchance (Distorted Humor). This juvenile filly was owned and bred by Stonestreet Stables and she faced 11 others in Sunday's 4TH race. She stalked a modest pace from the inside, swung out to challenge for the lead, then cruised home while being throttled down. Her final time of 1:14.18 was not much but she clearly had a lot left in the tank.

By Distorted Humor out of multiple Grade 1-winning sprinter Dream Rush (Wild Rush), she is a half-sister to Dreaming of Julia (A.P. Indy), who won the Frizette Stakes (G1) and Gulfstream Oaks (G2), and the exciting Atreides (Medaglia d'Oro), who is four-for-five and coming to a big race near you.

When Dreaming of Julia won the Gulfstream Oaks, she earned a BRIS Speed rating of 107 and, on many horse rating systems, it was the fastest race ever run. She won by 21 3/4 lengths and it was a monstrous performance that she was never able to repeat. But it showed an incredible amount of talent and if Perchance can show a fraction of her half-sister's ability, Stonestreet could have another good one on their hands.

HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.

Announcements

Help Wanted

A horse racing website is currently hiring for part-time positions as a Customer Service Representative in Lexington, Kentucky. Must be available nights and weekends. Some weekdays may also be available. Computer literacy required, horse racing knowledge and customer service experience a plus. To schedule an interview, email or send your résumé to the following: Nancy.Kanaval@brisnet.com, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.