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Updated: 26 min 38 sec ago

Top Chairman’s Lots Bound For Hong Kong

14 hours 52 min ago

Sydney, AUSTRALIA–The top two lots of Inglis’s inaugural Chairman’s Sale – Elite Racing Prospects session are bound for Hong Kong, with Rob McAnulty signing for the sale-topping Gunnison (Aus) (Not A Single Doubt {Aus}) (lot 10), the session’s top offering, at A$1.4-million in Sydney on Thursday evening.

The Chairman’s sale saw nine offerings–shares in or entire offerings of accomplished runners–auctioned at Newmarket, all in absentia. All four that were offered in entirety were sold, and five offerings in all were sold for A$2,747,000, at an average of A$549,400 and a median of A$260,000.

Inglis’s National Bloodstock Director Jonathan D’Arcy said post-sale, “For a first go we’re very happy with it. The quality of the horses was very good.”

The Chairman’s Sale was not spared from the unrelenting rain pelting Sydney in recent weeks, and D’Arcy added, “The weather has been very inclement today and I’m sure we would have gotten more people here if it was a nicer evening, but we really just wanted to showcase what the sale was about and I’m sure people will take that away and next time we’ll get even more interest in the sale. What’s important is that for people who want to get involved in racing, we have to give them different avenues in, and one of the reasons we put the sale on was to make it easier for owners to be able to have a runner within a week or two, and some cases in a couple days. I think that’s what really excited a lot of the people here tonight.”

Gunnison was first offered by Inglis a year ago nearly to the day, when he fetched A$850,000 from agent James Harron at the Easter yearling sale. Subsequently gelded, Gunnison has justified that price tag with two wins from two starts for trainers Peter and Paul Snowden, including the G2 Todman S. last out. Harron noted pre-sale that Gunnison was being offered simply because he didn’t fit in with the ownership group’s colts program. He was sold with an entry in Saturday’s G1 Sires’ Produce S. at Randwick, but McAnulty, who was acting on behalf of his son, Italian-based agent Chris McAnulty, said Gunnison would be scratched.

Chris McAnulty commented by phone, “We targeted this horse for a specific reason and that is that sprinting events in Hong Kong at the moment are very open with not huge fields, so we see this as a great opportunity to get a high-quality sprinter from Australia over there. Gunnison is a lovely gelding, he’s proved in his short career already that he is loaded with ability and we’re looking forward to getting our hands on him and seeing what he can do in Hong Kong.’’

Gunnison is out of the Group 2 winner Colorado Claire (Aus) (Hussonet), whose Snitzel filly will be offered by Arrowfield next week at Easter as lot 84.

Also bound for Hong Kong is 2-year-old colt Eden Roc (Aus) (Star Witness {Aus}) (lot 7), who was picked up by agent George Moore for A$900,000, with Sheikh Fahad the underbidder. The stakes-placed Eden Roc has been twice placed from four starts for Team Hawkes and was a last-out fourth in the G2 Skyline S. at Randwick on Feb. 25. His dam is a half-sister to this season’s dual group-winning 3-year-old sprinter Star Turn (Aus) (Star Witness {Aus}) and Straight Gold (Aus) (Stratum {Aus}), who was trained by Moore’s father John Moore to a handful of stakes placings in Hong Kong.

“We were underbidder [on Eden Roc] for A$700,000 as a yearling at the Magic Millions sales so we knew what type of horse we were going to get,” George Moore explained. “He’s going to come in at a 74 rating so he’s got a lot of upside in our opinion. What we’re going to do is probably send him to the farm and geld him. Hopefully it’ll improve him a couple lengths. He’s got a very clean bill of health and we’ve bought out of the family before with Straight Gold, who did really well in Hong Kong, so we’re hoping the family will do well for us.”

D’Arcy added, “The two 2-year-olds were the star attractions. Eden Roc is a horse we felt was suited to stay here as a stallion prospect or go to Hong Kong. He’s off to Hong Kong and once again we were quite pleased with the competition on him, and I know the vendor was delighted with the price he achieved.”

“Gunnison, I think it’s very rare for a horse like that ever to be offered at a sale like this,” D’Arcy continued. “He’s at the peak of his powers, undefeated, he isn’t going to run in the Sires’ given the owner is based in Hong Kong and wants to take him up there, but we’ll follow his progress with great interest and I’m sure he’s going to be a great advertisement for this type of sale in the future.”

The new owners of Chance To Dance (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) (lot 2) could get a chance to recoup their investment as early as next Saturday when the 6-year-old gelding lines up for the A$2-million G1 Sydney Cup. Jamie Richards, who trains Saturday’s G1 Australian Derby favourite Gingernuts (NZ) (Iffraaj {GB}) in partnership with Stephen Autridge, signed for Chance To Dance at A$260,000 on behalf of David Ellis of Te Akau Racing.

“David bought him for a very good client of ours, John Galvin of Fortuna Syndications,” Richards explained. “He’s going to be syndicated in New Zealand and at this stage our plan is to run him in the Sydney Cup, we just need to work through the particulars but at this stage he’ll be trained in the Sydney Cup by Stephen Autridge and myself. We’ll work out the jockeys and everything like that the next couple days.”

Previously trained by Robert Hickmott for Lloyd and Nick Williams, Chance To Dance won a 2400 metre handicap at Caulfield on Feb. 4 before finishing second in Moonee Valley’s Listed Torney Cup. He was fourth in Morphettville’s G2 Adelaide Cup on Mar. 13.

There was action on fillies at Newmarket on Thursday evening as well, with Yu Long Investments going to A$155,000 for the 3-year-old filly Fallacy (Aus) (Commands {Aus}) (lot 3). Fallacy has been upwardly mobile for trainer Toby Edmonds this season, placing twice at Eagle Farm before breaking her maiden a week ago at Doomben. She holds an entry for Saturday’s G3 Adrian Knox S.

D’Arcy noted, “A number of horses have gone to the paddocks because of the wet tracks and that probably took away from their appeal to a certain extent. But a filly like Fallacy, who two weeks ago was running around Brisbane, wins a maiden then carries an entry to the G3 Adrian Knox on Saturday, given the wet track she’s going to be running a very good race I’d suggest, and we’d love to see her be very competitive on Saturday. It was a nice pedigree anyway and if she can pick up some black-type, that’s what the owners are looking for.”

Fallacy is a half-sister to the stakes-winning Premardal (Aus) (Shamardal), and they are out of a half-sister to champions Arazi (Blushing Groom) and Noverre (Rahy).

Among the passed-in offerings was a 50% share in G3 Doncaster Prelude second No Doubt (Aus) (Not A Single Doubt {Aus}) (lot 5) at A$200,000; a 28.75% share in stakes-winning 3-year-old filly Moqueen (Aus) (Uncle Mo) (lot 6) at A$125,000; and a 10% share in dual group-winning 3-year-old Man From Uncle (Aus) (Uncle Mo) (lot 8) at A$70,000.

Inglis Managing Director Mark Webster said upon conclusion of the sale, “We wanted to present a concept to the market where they could be involved in purchasing elite-level racehorses, and I think tonight proved there is definitely a market for it here in Australia. We’ve also showed there’s a very transparent way to sell geldings into Asia–A$1.4 million is an Australasian record for a gelding at auction. It’s clear buyers are more confident buying 100% of a horse rather than a smaller share, but that’s something I’m sure will shift over time. I would like to thank Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club for their support of the sale and wish them the best of luck with The Championships over the coming days.”


Malibu Moon Colt Tops Vibrant Barretts Market

Wed, 2017-03-29 21:49

DEL MAR, CA – The Barretts March Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, conducted for the second time at Del Mar Wednesday, produced numbers up from 2016, with a colt by Malibu Moon bringing top price of $675,000.

“We are thrilled with the results,” said Barretts General Manager Kim Lloyd. “A lot of good horses brought a lot of good money.”

In all, Barretts sold 44 juveniles for $6,707,000. The average rose 22.4% to $152,432 and the median was up 10% to $110,000. A year ago, 43 head grossed $5,356,000 for an average of $124,558 and a median of $100,000.

West Point Thoroughbreds’ Terry Finley made the auction’s biggest bid when he went to $675,000 to secure hip 109, a colt by Malibu Moon, from the Starting Point Thoroughbreds consignment.

The sales topper was one of 12 horses to bring $200,000 or more, compared to 11 a year ago. Nine brought $300,000 or more, compared to five in 2016.

Lloyd said the March sale at Del Mar is growing its reputation as a must-attend event.

“Our first year at Del Mar last year, we were selling this as a must-attend event, a vacation-type of place,” Lloyd explained. “This year, we had new owners that we’ve never seen and we had new credit applications. So people came out here because they wanted to be a part of this. I think after this year, we’ll have more opportunity to grow.”

Lloyd was confident heading into Wednesday’s action that results would be positive.

“The whole vibe of our preview, not that it was bad last year, but the vibe this year was very positive,” he explained. “The horses went well and looked well breezing and we had a big turnout. Now, if they didn’t like the breeze, you didn’t get any action on them. That’s just the way it is. But those that went well, we sold them in all ranges and they sold very well. There was lots of competition.”

From a catalogue of 134, there were 67 outs. Of the 64 horses to go through the ring, 20 were reported not sold for a buy-back rate of 31.25%.

For Ciaran Dunne, whose Wavertree Stables was the auction’s leading sales agent, the results continued to reflect the polarized market of recent juvenile sales.

“It’s the same old story,” Dunne said. “The ones they perceive to be the good ones sell for way more than you could ever hope they could bring and the rest of them are hard work.”

Malibu Moon Colt on Top at Barretts

Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds admitted he thought he was done bidding on hip 109, but ultimately decided to make one more volley and secured the handsome son of Malibu Moon for a sale-topping $675,000 at Barretts Wednesday.

“We dropped out at $450,000 and, obviously it went up pretty quickly,” Finley said. “I just took one shot and I just jumped back in at the very end. That was my final bid–I can assure you that.”

West Point will partner with Spendthrift Farm on the dark bay colt, Barretts General Manager Kim Lloyd confirmed after the auction concluded.

“We bought a weanling one time for $750,000 that was from the first crop of Ghostzapper, but this is probably the most expensive 2-year-old we’ve bought,” Finley said of the colt who worked in :21 flat. “I thought he had a beautiful stride.”

Bred by William Peeples, hip 109 is out of stakes winner Indian Breeze (Indian Charlie), a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Don’t Countess Out (Take Me Out).

Finley said he was finding plenty of competition at the top of the market, both at Barretts and at the season’s earlier juvenile sales.

“I think back to those kinds of horses that sold two weeks ago [at OBS March], there were a good number who brought a whole lot,” he said. “The market is white hot, so we want to play at the top end of the market and I think we have a top colt. I just hope he is as good as we think he is. If they can run, it doesn’t matter what you pay for them.”

Asked who will train the youngster, Finley said, “He’ll probably go back east, but I’m not sure who he will go to. I think we’ll probably talk about it over dinner tonight.”

The sale result was another pinhooking score for Willie North’s Starting Point Thoroughbreds, currently in its first year of operation. North and Stuart Morris acquired the youngster for $135,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

“He was a very nice horse and he’s been very nice all winter,” Morris said. “He performed on the racetrack and he has been very well-received in the barn. The market responded to him and he brought all that we wanted and more. He was a really super athletic horse [last September]. He is just a bigger version of the same horse now. He just stayed nice and did everything right.”
Morris said the Starting Point team enjoyed its first foray at Barretts. “We’ll be back,” he smiled.

At the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale, Starting Point sold a Pioneerof the Nile colt, a $280,000 yearling purchase, for $700,000. A Bernardini filly, also purchased last year for $280,000, fetched $425,000 at Gulfstream.

Candy Ride Colt Heads to Japan

Longtime Japanese owner Susumu Hayashi sent trainer Takashi Suzuki to California in search of his next big horse and the trainer will return to the Far East with hip 102, a colt by Candy Ride (Arg) out of Gottahaveadream (Indian Charlie), a half-sister to Grade I winner Here Comes Ben (Street Cry {Ire}).

“[Hayashi] has been a racehorse owner with Japan Racehorse Association for nearly 40 years,” explained Barretts’ Naohiro Goda. “He is now in his 80s and he has owned some nice horses in Japan, but now he’d like to have another big horse. Takashi Suzuki looked at the catalogue and Barretts graduates have been doing well in Japan and he decided to come here. He was looking for some ready-to-run horses.”

The dark bay colt, who worked a furlong Monday in :10 flat, was consigned by Kings Equine, which purchased him for $100,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale. He was bred by Siena Farms.

O’Neill Back in Action for Zedan
Dennis O’Neill, who has been busy this spring stocking the racing stable of new owner Amr Zedan, struck early in Wednesday’s Barretts sale, going to $360,000 to secure a filly by Lucky Pulpit. Hip 6, consigned by Havens Bloodstock, worked the bullet furlong of :9 4/5 during Monday’s under-tack preview of the auction.

“Amr Zedan has given me strict instructions at each sale to buy the best horse in the sale,” O’Neill commented after signing the ticket on the juvenile. “I told him I really liked this Lucky Pulpit. There’s not a lot of pedigree there, but I thought she was a star on the racetrack. I looked at her all week and I just fell in love with her more and more every day. She’s a very classy-looking filly. So we stretched a little more than we wanted to, but we think she is the star of the sale. Hopefully we are right.”

Zedan must already have a positive impression of Lucky Pulpit. He was a co-owner in champion California Chrome, who is by the late stallion.

The chestnut juvenile, bred in California by Cole Ranch, is out of Nine to Five Lady (Mr. Greeley) and is from the family of GI Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Concern.

Bloodstock agent John Brocklebank purchased the filly for $42,000 at last year’s Barretts October sale.

“We thought she’d sell well,” consignor Andy Havens, who sold the filly on behalf of Brocklebank, said. “She’s a gorgeous filly and she had everything going for. I thought she would sell very well.

She was the fastest horse we had, so our expectations were pretty high.”

On behalf of the Saudi Arabia-based owner, O’Neill bought a Union Rags colt for $950,000 and a filly by Flatter for $410,000 at the OBS March sale and a colt by Custom For Carlos at Fasig-Tipton’s Gulfstream Sale for $400,000.

O’Neill was the leading buyer at Barretts, signing for three juveniles for a total of $875,000. In addition to the Lucky Pulpit filly, he also signed for hip 121, a colt by Congrats for $360,000, and hip 116, a colt by Flat Out for $155,000

Shah Stretches for Run Away and Hide Colt

Kaleem Shah purchased a colt by Run Away and Hide (hip 76) for $325,000 during Wednesday’s Barretts sale. Asked what he liked about the youngster, who worked a furlong in :10 flat during Monday’s under-tack preview, Shah said succinctly, “He looked fast, so let’s see what he can do.”

Shah admitted he was surprised by the colt’s final price tag.

“I thought we would get him for $150,000 to $200,000,” he said.

Shah split with long-time trainer Bob Baffert earlier this year and said he had not decided on a trainer for his newest acquisition. The owner admitted, “I picked him out on my own.”

The bay juvenile is out of Cabales (Pulpit), a daughter of stakes winner Mudslinger (El Gran Senor). He was consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables and was purchased by the operation for $35,000 at last year’s OBS August sale. Dunne admitted he couldn’t take credit for the yearling purchase.

“We didn’t work the OBS sale because we had to go to California,” Dunne revealed. “We were taking our daughter Caitlyn out to college, so Mark Edmonds and Lee Byrne, who work for us back home, bought him while we were away.”

Dunne admitted he had his concerns about the purchase initially. Asked for his first reaction, he laughed, “What did you just do?” He added of Edmonds and Byrne, “They were probably a little aggressive in what they paid for him.”

He felt better about the purchase once he saw the yearling.

“He was a really nice horse when they bought him, a strong horse, clean legged and a great mover,” Dunne said. “Good for them. It was a big move for them to stick their necks out and say we really want this one. Lee runs all the sales for us. She does all the therapeutic work at the farm and does all the sales. Mark does everything else.”

Wavertree also sold a colt by Quality Road (hip 46) for $350,000 to Gary Broad. The colt cost $45,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale.

“He belonged to a partnership from Ocala–they bought him in October,” Dunne said. “He’s a nice horse by the right stallion and he moved great. We were hoping for $200,000-$250,000 and they just went on with him.”

Wavertree led all sales agents, with 11 head sold for $1.88 million and an average of $170,000. Its trio of $300,000 sales was completed by hip 123, a colt by Tale of the Cat who sold for $325,000 to Breeze Easy LLC. Bloodstock agent Justin Casse signed the ticket on the youngster at $110,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

Orb Filly to Speedway

Speedway Stables’ Peter Fluor, sitting alongside bloodstock agent Marette Farrell, secured a colt from the first crop of GI Kentucky Derby winner Orb (Malibu Moon) for $320,000 during Wednesday’s Barretts sale.

Bred by Lakland Farm and consigned by Sequel Bloodstock, the chestnut filly worked in :10 1/5. Out of Day of Victory (Victory Gallop), hip 86 is a half to Grade I placed Finley’sluckycharm (Twirling Candy). Her third dam is Gather the Clan (Ire), who produced multiple Grade I winner Pure Clan and graded stakes winner Greater Good. She RNA’d for $30,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

“We loved her elegance and how efficient she was in her breeze–it took nothing out of her,” Farrell said of the filly’s appeal. “The female family is incredible and she really reminded us of the female family. If she is as good as Pure Clan and everybody else in that family, she’ll be awesome.”

In business for just three years, Fluor and K.C. Weiner’s Speedway Stable has already campaigned Grade I winner Hard Not To Like (Hard Spun) and graded stakes winner Collected (City Zip).

Asked the stable’s buying plan, Fluor said, “If Marette and John Adger find something we like and it vets and is not unreasonable, we’ll buy it.”

Vexatious No Trouble for Drysdale

Wed, 2017-03-29 18:40

Two well-regarded 3-year-old colts threw down in a good stretch battle Mar. 9 at Santa Anita, finishing a neck apart, and both horses have received deserved attention since. But five-plus lengths behind ‘TDN Rising Star’ Battle of Midway (Smart Strike) and Reach the World (Tapit)–ranked 15th and 18th respectively in the latest TDN Derby 20–that day was a filly, Vexatious (Giant’s Causeway), who arguably ran as well as the top two considering her circumstances.

Making her first start in 104 days, the full-sister to Creative Cause and Destin was shuffled back and steadied off heels continuously throughout the running, unable to gather any momentum. She had every right to quit after such a frustrating trip, but ran on well once finally clear at the three-sixteenths pole, improbably nabbing third in the closing yards.

Vexatious also showed an impressive late kick in her debut, finishing full of run to be third behind subsequent 13 1/4-length GIII Delta Princess S. victress Shane’s Girlfriend (Adios Charlie) Oct. 28 in Arcadia, and overcame another troubled trip to break her maiden Nov. 26 at Del Mar. This Saturday, the $150,000 Keeneland September buy for Calumet Farm will venture into stakes waters for the first time and face seven challengers in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks.

“We’ve always been keen on this filly,” trainer Neil Drysdale said from his Santa Anita base Wednesday. “All the time. She’s very well-bred, we got held up by the weather here, so we had to run her against colts, she did not have an easy trip and ran well.”

The Fair Grounds Oaks likely goes through Farrell (Malibu Moon), who has captured both the Silverbulletday S. and GII Rachel Alexandra S. on the New Orleans oval. The Coffeepot Stables homebred is a speed type, and Vexatious’s chances may hinge on whether the favorite encounters any resistance on the front end.

“It looks like there might be a couple of horses to go along with [Farrell],” Drysdale said, “I hope they hook up, or are close to each other anyway.”

True to Drysdale’s old-school training approach, Vexatious generally works slow, long and steady, but in completing preparations for the Oaks, turned in a sharp half-mile drill in :47 4/5 Mar. 27 at Santa Anita, good for the bullet out of 38 moves at the distance.

“She just did it on her own,” Drysdale relayed. “She’s been training well all along. They’ve all been controlled works and she’s been doing well.”

Vexatious is one of several promising 3-year-olds for Calumet, joining GIII Sunland Derby winner Hence (Street Boss) and GII Louisiana Derby contender and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Patch (Union Rags) as potential sophomore heavy-hitters. Hence’s Sunland heroics came on the 25th anniversary of the once moribund farm being auctioned off for $17 million to Polish-Canadian businessman Henryk de Kwiatkowski, who started the wheels in motion to get Calumet back to the thriving operation it is now under Brad Kelley. Drysdale, who called his relationship with Calumet “excellent,” predicted this may only be the beginning of its resurgence.

“Judging by their 2-year-old crop coming now, it appears to be stronger than this group,” the 69-year-old conditioner revealed. “Calumet is definitely developing in the right direction.”

That direction would be forward, and Vexatious is certainly a filly moving that way too. She’ll just need a bit better luck Saturday.

Classic Empire Confirmed for Arkansas Derby

Wed, 2017-03-29 17:19

John Oxley’s Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile), champion juvenile colt of 2016, will make his next start in the GI Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park Apr. 15, trainer Mark Casse confirmed Wednesday. The decision was made after the colt worked five furlongs from the gate in :59.30 at Winding Oaks Farm near Ocala Tuesday morning. Classic Empire had previously been under consideration for the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. at Keeneland Apr. 8, but was re-routed to Hot Springs after reportedly refusing to breeze twice in recent weeks at Palm Meadows in South Florida.

“It’s well documented–we’ve had some bumps in the road,” Casse said Tuesday afternoon, referring to a series of training disruptions as a result of a foot abscess and back issue following his third-place finish as the heavy favorite in the Feb. 4 GII Lambholm South Holy Bull S. “But, the good news is it doesn’t matter. As I said, it’s like a baseball game. Doesn’t matter how many runs you score in the early innings, it’s how many you score in the end.”

With a new plan to target the Arkansas Derby, Casse secures an additional week of training for Classic Empire as he eyes a final prep for the GI Kentucky Derby May 6. The dark bay breezed in company with MGSW Airoforce (Colonel John) Tuesday.

“I thought he worked extremely well,” Casse said. “That was the good news. The bad news was we kind of really felt like he could use another strong work. And, given the timing of the Blue Grass, we weren’t going to be able to do that…The Arkansas Derby has been in our mind for a while.”

Classic Empire put forth a nearly flawless 2-year-old campaign in 2016, which included a pair of Grade I wins in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity Oct. 8 and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Nov. 5. Bet down to 1-2 favoritism in his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull, he chased the pace from the outside and faded to finish 8 3/4 lengths adrift of ‘TDN Rising Star’ Irish War Cry (Curlin) after being put to a drive on the turn. Classic Empire currently sits 11th on the Kentucky Derby qualifying leader board with 32 points to his credit. The Arkansas Derby offers a total of 170 points, with 100 awarded to the winner.

Gingernuts in Good Nick for ATC Derby

Wed, 2017-03-29 16:01

Te Akau Racing’s Gingernuts (NZ) (Iffraaj {GB}), on a four-race winning streak including a Mar. 18 2 1/2-length win in the G1 Rosehill Guineas over heavy going, is in great shape in advance of Saturday’s G1 Australian Derby during the first day of The Championships at Royal Randwick Apr. 1. Trained by Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards, the 2017 G1 New Zealand Derby hero acted over good ground in the Kiwi contest, but found the heavy going in his latest to his liking as well.

“Everything has gone according to plan and the horse is super,” Richards told of the $3.50 Derby favourite Tuesday. “He did a little bit of work on Saturday morning and this morning [Tuesday] he worked over 1200 metres on the course proper at Randwick with on of Gai Waterhouses’s horses. It gave him a good look around and he did all that was expected of him. He’s not a big, strapping colt who needs a lot of work–he’s more of an athletic type.”

Saturday’s 2400-metre race drew 13 horses, with Gingernuts breaking from stall 12. Rain is due Thursday.

Continued Richards, “The track on Saturday isn’t going to worry us at all. They might think he goes better on soft ground here, but he can go on anything. I thought Jon Snow (NZ) (Iffraaj {GB}) was quite impressive last Saturday [in the G2 Tulloch S.] and he looks like he has improved and Prized Icon (Aus) (More Than Ready) also ran very well and he will go in a very fit horse. But our horse has been racing very well all the way through against good opposition and I couldn’t be any happier with him.”

The Australian Derby is the last race of Gingernuts’s campaign and he will board a plane for New Zealand Monday.

“He’ll need a break and we’d like to set him for Melbourne in the spring,” concluded Richards.


Another Breeze for El Areeb

Wed, 2017-03-29 15:27

TDN Rising Star’ El Areeb (Exchange Rate) turned in another easy breeze as he prepares for the GII Wood Memorial S. at Aqueduct Apr. 8. The GII Jerome S. and GIII Withers S. hero–a speed-and-fade third last time in the Mar. 4 GIII Gotham S.–was credited with a four-furlong drill in :51.60 (8/9). He worked alongside stakes-winning stablemate Winter (Awesome Again), who was piloted by El Areeb’s regular rider Trevor McCarthy. Trainer Cal Lynch’s son and assistant Charlie rode El Areeb. “He felt great,” offered Charlie Lynch. “He keeps continuing to grow and get better and better every day. We loved the way he worked today. He was pulling me all the way around there so we’re really happy with that. My dad had a really big smile on his face when we got back so that’s a good sign, usually.” Click here for video of the breeze.

Fasig-Tipton Announces ‘Turf Showcase’ Yearling Sale

Tue, 2017-03-28 17:55

Attempting to capitalize on the international success of American-bred turf horses, as well as fill a niche in the marketplace, Fasig-Tipton announced Tuesday that it will conduct The Turf Showcase, a sale consisting of yearlings suited for grass, Sept. 10 at the company’s Newtown Paddocks in Lexington, Kentucky.

Two-time champion Tepin (Bernstein), a $140,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga graduate in 2012, won her first Eclipse as top turf female in 2015 after capturing that fall’s GI Breeders’ Cup Mile and two other top-level events. The bay mare’s most momentous victory came last June, however, when she shipped across the pond to Royal Ascot and overcame soft ground to beat males in the G1 Queen Anne S. The victory reverberated around the racing world as a legitimizing effort for American turf horses, one that Fasig-Tipton president and CEO Boyd Browning looks to capitalize on.

“What we’ve certainly seen in recent years is a significant level of success for American-bred horses [overseas], like at Royal Ascot last year, and a really significant investment by many of the major stallion operations in and around central Kentucky on horses that had a turf influence,” Browning said. “Literally every major stallion operation in central Kentucky has added a stallion or is in the process of adding a stallion that has turf pedigree, turf suitability or turf appeal.”

With its Turf Showcase, Fasig-Tipton will try to recreate the ingenuity and success of its “New Sire Showcase,” a section of the company’s July yearling sale carved out in 1992 to help highlight and promote horses by freshman sires.

“One of the things we were able to do with the creation of the New Sire Showcase was to help change the perception of new sires,” Browning said. “We hope to help improve and enhance the market acceptability of turf pedigrees and turf stallions and thought the time was right.”

Yearlings under consideration for The Turf Showcase will be inspected and approved based on pedigree and conformation by Fasig-Tipton. Browning admitted that it’s difficult to pin down set criteria for inclusion in the sale, but laid out a general overview of how horses will be selected.

“I don’t think there’s any hard and fast rule,” Browning said. “We’re looking for stallions who have achieved success on the racetrack with horses on the turf. For unproven stallions, we’d be looking at pedigrees and/or their racing careers. We’ll also take into consideration the female families. We’re going to have judgment and ultimately the marketplace will judge us by the group of horses that’s presented. What I don’t want to do is say ‘It’s got to be by a top 25 turf sire of 2016-2017 as of this date,’ because those lists and rankings can change pretty quickly with a significant horse or two because the population’s not all that large. We’re looking for horses that we think have a high likelihood of success in turf racing.”

The early reaction to the announcement of the sale has been mostly positive, Browning relayed, while also admitting that there have been a few doubts about the viability of such a specific sale.

“One thing I’ve learned in a number of years in this business is that you’re never going to get 100% consensus on any new concept or idea, but the overwhelming reaction thus far has been positive,” he said.

Browning added that there are no target head or target average numbers for the horses Fasig-Tipton hopes to sell at The Turf Showcase, acknowledging that it will be a niche auction during a busy time on the sales calendar.

“I don’t know what to expect and I don’t have a sales budget drawn up that says X horses averaging X and so forth,” he noted. “We believe in the concept, we believe that there’s interest, that there will be quality product available and we’re willing to expend a significant amount of energy and effort to try to make the sale a success. We think there’s a unique opportunity where we can help create and help transform interest and provide a better alternative than what might be available for a population of horses.”

Now ‘A Man,’ Girvin Set for LA Derby Spotlight

Tue, 2017-03-28 16:30

Although Joe Sharp was forced to steer Brad Grady’s Girvin (Tale of Ekati) on a somewhat unconventional course during the month of January, the young trainer said his star sophomore colt has matured markedly throughout the soon-to-be-concluded Fair Grounds winter meet, culminating with an appearance as the likely favorite in Saturday’s GII Louisiana Derby. Girvin’s rallying two-length victory in the GII Risen Star S. Feb. 25 [video]–his first try over a route of ground on dirt–represented a significant step towards a potential start in the May 6 GI Kentucky Derby, according to his trainer.

“He did it the right way,” Sharp said of Girvin’s recent triumph on an NTRA teleconference call Tuesday. “He came out of it as more of a man than he went into it. He hasn’t missed a beat [since], and that’s pretty much been him since the day he walked into the barn. Every work has been what we expected it to be, and we feel as good as we ever had about him–physically and mentally–going into the Louisiana Derby.”

Sharp added that Girvin showed flashes of his serious talent since day one at Grady’s Grand Oaks Equine Training Center in Ocala, where he drew high praise from farm manager Bobby Dodd. Girvin promptly rattled off a gritty front-running victory in his six-furlong debut in New Orleans Dec. 16, but was unable to compete in the ensuing seven weeks after Sharp relocated him to the locked down Evangeline Training Center during Fair Grounds’ equine herpesvirus outbreak.

“It cost us not being able to run in the [Jan. 21 GIII] LeComte,” Sharp explained. “But we thought it would be paramount to have a two-turn race before the Risen Star, and the only option we were given was the [Feb. 4] Keith Gee [Memorial S.] on the grass. I talked to Brad about it, and we saw it as an opportunity to give him a good schooling going two turns–and it served as that.”

Girvin closed resolutely to come up less than a length shy of then-undefeated Cowboy Culture (Quality Road) and continued on under steady encouragement past the wire to secure a useful learning experience in the Gee [video]. While Sharp acknowledged that turf is clearly not Girvin’s preferred surface, his adaptability to different race scenarios gives him confidence heading into Saturday’s $1-million tilt.

“He won on the lead when he needed to be in his maiden race, he stalked just off the pace in the turf race, and he came from considerably further back in the Risen Star–so he’s shown three levels of versatility,” Sharp noted. “Having said that, we did put another horse in the Louisiana Derby to ensure a good pace to run at.”

Grady’s Hot Foot (Aikenite), who has led in seven of his nine previous starts, will serve as the rabbit to keep speedy Risen Star third-place finisher Local Hero (Hard Spun) honest on the front end. Nevertheless, Sharp said he views lightly raced ‘TDN Rising Star’ Patch (Union Rags)–who ships in from South Florida for trainer Todd Pletcher–and LeComte winner Guest Suite (Quality Road) as his chief rivals in the nine-horse field.

Expensive Frankel Colt Down to Debut

Tue, 2017-03-28 14:51

Merovee (Aus) (Frankel {GB}), the A$1.6-million fourth most expensive lot at last year’s Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, is set to debut in the Wednesday afternoon opener at Newcastle.

Trained and part-owned by Chris Waller along with Vinery Stud, breeder John Singleton’s Strawberry Hill Stud, R&C Legh Racing and Werrett Bloodstock, among others, the bay colt is a son of More Strawberries (Aus) (More Than Ready), a dual Group 2 winner and twice placed in Group 1 company, including a third in the 2010 Golden Slipper S. More Strawberries is a half-sister to G1 Emirates S. winner All American (Aus) (Red Ransom), while champion third dam Tersa (Mr. Prospector) produced US MGISW Rock Hard Ten (Kris S.).

Merovee, to be ridden by Hugh Bowman, has logged three barrier trials to date, all at Rosehill, but his most recent trial Mar. 13 was his most promising, as he hit the line generously to ‘win’ the heat by 3/4 of a length (video).

Merovee is drawn gate two in a field of 14. Post time for the 1200m test is 12:45 p.m.

Letter to the Editor: Arrogate vs. Pharoah

Tue, 2017-03-28 13:57

by Timothy Wickes

I love to read Bill Finley. He mixes the perfect blend of fan fervor with insight and empathy. He manages to combine a certain reverence for the sport and its athletes with that necessary gift of calling a shovel a shovel.

I love to read Bill Finley but … That Sunday piece anointing Arrogate at the direct expense of American Pharoah made me think Mr. Finley had fallen down the rabbit hole of front-runnerism in the face of history. What Arrogate did Saturday was awe-inspiring, no mistake about it. Lousy break, awkward footing, and no place to go are high hurdles to be sure but like Secretariat in his Preakness and Slew in his Derby, not high enough. The great ones overcome. Most of the time. Angle Light and Onion weren’t fit to carry Secretariat’s Victory Plates let alone be his conquerors. Citation got beat by a nag named Saggy. And Jiminy Crickets (!), the reason “Upset” exists in our vernacular is because Upset the horse whipped Man O’ War. So let’s not hold Keen-freaking-Ice up as the pudding’s proof; he’s just history repeating itself.

American Pharoah won the triple crown. THE TRIPLE CROWN. First time in 37 years. Most of Mozart’s lifetime. One year less than the time between Phillies’ World Series parades. The first in the full era of Lasix. What once seemed to have become the impossible dream, Pharoah returned to reality.

Let us revel in the greatness of Arrogate. Let’s slap Baffert on the back at his good fortune at having another Hall of Famer and his perfect management of those stars in our sky. But let’s never do it at the expense of American Pharoah. He reversed history, overcame stigma, and gave us back the Triple Crown. He was The Man. Now Arrogate is The Man. Love them both.

Sore Shin Sidelines Unique Bella

Tue, 2017-03-28 13:22

TDN Rising Star’ Unique Bella (Tapit), the overwhelming favorite for the GI Kentucky Oaks, will be forced to miss at least the Apr. 8 GI Santa Anita Oaks–if not the May 6 Kentucky Oaks itself–due to a sore shin.

“She has a sore shin,” confirmed Fernando Diaz-Valdes, racing manager and advisor for owner Don Alberto Stable. “We’re just going to keep a close eye on it, and maybe we’ll just go directly to the Kentucky Oaks.”

A $400,000 KEESEP acquisition, the daughter of 2010 GI Breeders’ Cup Classic heroine Unrivaled Belle (Unbridled’s Song) has been absolutely dominant in four efforts since finishing second in her debut last June. She took the Jan. 8 GII Santa Ynez S., Feb. 5 GII Las Virgenes S. and Mar. 4 GIII Santa Ysabel S. at Santa Anita by a combined 18 1/2 lengths, and was backed all the way down to even-money in the Oaks future wager that closed Feb. 26.

“We don’t want to jeopardize anything,” Diaz-Valdes added. “We don’t want to cause her to have a more serious problem. We need to keep this filly sound. She’s a great filly. For us to make a decision like this is so painful, but we have to worry about the good of the horse–not ourselves. Grade I’s will be in her future. There are many around the world, and we won’t sacrifice her for one race.”

When asked for more on her prognosis, he said, “We will know more day by day. At the moment we’re just keeping a close eye. There was some soreness and inflammation. We took X-rays and everything was fine, but we want to make sure that we don’t jeopardize the Kentucky Oaks or racing for the rest of the year.”

Diaz-Valdes admitted, however, that the Oaks might prove too ambitious a goal at this point in time: “To be honest, at this stage, of course, if we’re losing training time for two or three weeks we have to take the Kentucky Oaks off the table.”

Unique Bella had already been compared to fellow Jerry Hollendorfer trainee, two-time champion and ‘Rising Star’ Songbird (Medaglia d’Oro), who was forced to miss last year’s Kentucky Oaks after a dominant win in the Santa Anita Oaks due to a fever interrupting her training schedule. That Fox Hill Farm colorbearer returned to dominate her peers throughout the summer and early fall before suffering her first defeat by the narrowest of margins to the great Beholder (Henny Hughes) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Diaz-Valdes noted that while Don Alberto’s Oaks chances might have taken a significant hit, the Heller-Solari family still boasts a Kentucky Derby hopeful in Bob Baffert trainee Reach the World (Tapit), who finished a solid second in a salty allowance Mar. 9 and will contest the GI Santa Anita Derby Apr. 8.


Frankel Colt In Control At Wolves

Tue, 2017-03-28 12:52

6th-WOL, £6,000, Mdn, 3-28, 3yo, 12f 50y (AWT), 2:37.98, st.
COUNT OCTAVE (GB) (c, 3, Frankel {GB}–Honorine {Ire}, by Mark of Esteem {Ire}), third on debut behind another promising son of Frankel in Monarchs Glen (GB) over nine furlongs at Goodwood in October, raced in second early with the filly and only serious rival Utopian Dream (GB) (High Chaparral {Ire}) providing a perfect lead. Niggled at to take her measure inside the final quarter mile, the 3-10 favourite who holds a G1 Epsom Derby entry ran greenly after hitting the front with over a furlong remaining but comfortably asserted to score by three lengths. The winner is a half-brother to the G1 Irish Derby and GI Secretariat S. hero and G1 Epsom Derby runner-up Treasure Beach (GB) (Galileo {Ire}), Hwt. 3yo-Ire at 11-14f, G1SW-Ire & US, GSW & G1SP-Eng, $2,435,343, who ironically trailed his sire in the G2 Royal Lodge S. He is also a half to Elidor (GB) (Cape Cross {Ire}), GSP-Eng, $314,319, and to the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial scorer Honor Bound (GB) (Authorized {Ire}). The dam, who is a half to the G2 Hardwicke S.-winning sire Indian Creek (GB), also has a 2-year-old filly by Frankel to follow. Lifetime Record: 2-1-0-1, $6,070. Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O/B-Qatar Bloodstock Ltd (GB); T-Andrew Balding.


Lucky Pulpit Filly Swiftest at Barretts

Mon, 2017-03-27 19:33

Barretts conducted the under-tack preview for its Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale at Del Mar Monday in front of a large number of trainers, owners and bloodstock agents. The show began under overcast skies and temperatures in the high 50s, but the sun displaced the clouds as the day wore on and temperatures reached the mid-60s. The day’s fastest furlong and quarter-mile breezes were both recorded during the last of three sets.

Among the strong contingent of trainers in attendance at Del Mar Monday was James Cassidy, Art and Alan Sherman, Brian Koriner, Dan Hendricks and Phil D’Amato. Bloodstock agents present were Emmanuel de Seroux, whose Narvick International signed for last year’s sale topper, as well as Mersad Metanovic, Marette Farrell, Pete Bradley, Rollin Baugh and Shawn Dugan. Stonestreet Stable’s John Moynihan took in the action alongside owner George Bolton, while other owners in the Del Mar grandstand included Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Aron Wellman, West Point Thoroughbreds’ Terry Finley, as well as prominent California owner Madeline Auerbach.

Barretts General Manager Kim Lloyd expressed himself pleased with both the breeze show’s turnout and the performances put forward on the track.

“The horses have been training well here and they are breezing well today,” Lloyd said. “They look good over this track–they get a hold of it really well and it really shows off talent. The attendance is great and the weather is perfect.”

A total of 10 horses breezed a furlong in :10 flat, but hip 6 became the first to shade the :10 mark when she streaked the eighth-of-a-mile in :9 4/5. Consigned by Havens Bloodstock Agency, the chestnut is a daughter of the late Lucky Pulpit and, out of Nine to Five Lady (Mr. Greeley), she is from the family of GI Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Concern.

“She was the quickest horse we had, but I never plan on a :9 4/5–it just sounds kind of silly to say that kind of stuff,” admitted Andy Havens. “As a result, you end up just delighted when they do it. She is a wonderful horse, a very fast-made horse and she’s just been 100% the whole time, so we’re really happy.”

Havens sent out nine juveniles to work Monday and the consignor said the Del Mar track seemed to play fairly throughout the day.

“It’s a really safe track,” Havens commented. “The horses come back off this track really well. I’m not sure they all handle it equally well, but it’s a good track. I think it was good all the way through today and it’s a very good track to train on and there has been a good response from these horses soundness-wise.”

Just a few hips after the :9 4/5 drill, a colt from the first crop of Grade I winner Justin Phillip recorded the day’s fastest quarter-mile breeze when he covered the distance in :20 3/5. The bay colt (hip 48) is out of Town Belle (Speightstown), who is a daughter of multiple graded stakes winner Clearly a Queen (Lucky North). He is consigned to the Barretts sale by Eddie Woods.

“I knew he was going to work really, really well,” Woods said. “I’m not going to tell you I thought he’d go in :20 3/5, but I knew he had a legitimate chance to go the fastest quarter of the day.”

Of the decision to work the colt in the final set of the day, Woods added, “Last year, I worked a horse late and he had the fastest quarter of the sale and I waited with my two quarters to late this year just to make a decision to see how the track was going to decide how far I was going to work them. It was holding up the whole day. The small numbers and the two breaks helped. Everyone basically fell into where they were supposed to be. So the track was very fair.”

Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables was responsible for four of the 10 second-fastest furlong workers: hip 17, a colt by Soldat; hip 46, a colt by Quality Road; hip 76, a colt by Run Away and Hide; and hip 123, a colt by Tale of the Cat.

“From first to last, pretty much there were no surprises,” Dunne said. “They worked pretty much in line with what they were doing at home. I don’t think there was any variance throughout the day at all.”

Bruno De Berdt’s Excel Bloodstock was responsible for three of Monday’s :10 flat workers: hip 67, a filly by Blame; hip 44, a filly by Morning Line; and hip 121, a colt by Congrats.

Also represented by multiple :10 flat workers was Raul Reyes’s Kings Equine, which sent out hip 102, a son of Candy Ride (Arg); and hip 61, a daughter of Exchange Rate.

A filly by Smiling Tiger (hip 8), consigned by Checkmate Thoroughbreds, was first to set the :10 flat mark Monday.

The Barretts March catalogue, which began with 134 entries, has been significantly shortened by scratches and only 71 horses breezed Monday.

“It’s just the way it is,” Lloyd said of the large number of outs. “We can only sell what we have, we’ll deal with it and move on.”

Lloyd said a possible solution to the small catalogue would be to combine the company’s March and May juvenile sales.

“It’s probably time for a change,” Lloyd said of the possible calendar change. “We haven’t gotten there yet, but it’s a possibility to address the numbers and that way the scratches aren’t as significant in a bigger catalogue. The buyers come here because they know there is quality, but it’s always nicer to have more horses.”

Woods agreed condensing the two sales might make sense.

“I think it’s probably the only way to go,” he said. “I think it’s time to do something to consolidate the whole thing so they can at least have a respectable number.”

The Barretts Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale will be held Wednesday at Del Mar with bidding scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. PT.

A Look Ahead With Sonia Rogers

Mon, 2017-03-27 19:29

The TDN has solicited the opinions of some prominent figures on the European bloodstock scene to answer three questions about the upcoming Flat season. Today’s installment features the thoughts of Sonia Rogers of Airlie Stud:

Horse you are most looking forward to seeing this season?

SR: I think Caravaggio (Scat Daddy) is the horse I am most looking forward to seeing because he can accelerate off a fast pace and he won at The Curragh in less than ideal ground.

A stallion who could feature prominently (doesn’t have to be first season)?

SR: The stallion who could feature prominently could be Mastercraftsman (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}). He is a good solid sire now at the right price. His expensive offspring will be coming through in the next couple of years.

Positive change you would like to see for the industry in 2017?

SR: In Ireland we need to get more young people into the industry. Someone needs to come up with an idea as to how to get them on to the racecourses. In England numbers are increasing but here things are pretty static.


Bertram W. Klein, 86, Passes Away

Mon, 2017-03-27 17:40

Bertram W. Klein, an owner/breeder for many years with his late wife Elaine and son Richard, passed away Friday, Mar. 24. He was 86. Born in 1930, the Louisville, Kentucky resident attended the Kentucky Military Institute and graduated in 1952 from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School with a Bachelor of Science in economics. After serving in the U.S. Air Force in Germany, Klein married Elaine Brodnax of Birmingham, Alabama Mar. 1, 1953 and joined the Bank of Louisville later that same year. Klein eventually rose to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Mid America Bancorp d/b/a Bank of Louisville, before retiring in 2002. Although involved in thoroughbred racing singly earlier, Klein enjoyed his greatest successes as an owner/breed after joining his wife and son in a three-way partnership in 1998.

Reminiscing about his partnership with his parents, after a decade of racing with just his mother, son Richard remarked, “It was just an honor to say that you can have that long of a relationship with your parents in a business and not have one cross word. We may have had different views at times, but they let me handle it all and they had nothing but a lot of joy and a lot of excitement and thrills.”

The horses carrying the Kleins’ lime and black silks have saluted in over 90 stakes wins to date, including 22 at the graded level. Outofthebox earned Grade I glory for the Kleins in the 2001 Super Derby. Once Bertram joined the partnership, a slew of horses with ‘Bertie’ in their name frequently found their way to the winner’s circle for the Kleins.

“My father started naming them that when we got in the business because he saw how hard it was for my mother and I to get horses named and approved,” Klein reflected. “He said ‘I’m coming up with my own idea.’ Sure enough it worked and we’ve had a lot of very special Berties.”

One of the best known ‘Berties’ was homebred Allamerican Bertie, who scored four times at the graded level, while other MGSWs raced by the Kleins were: Hurricane Bertie, Swept Away, De Bertie, and homebreds Mis Ida and Cash Control (Pioneerof the Nile). The Kleins’ current torchbearer is Believe in Bertie (Langfuhr), who has won four straight, including the Daisy Devine S. Feb. 25 and the Red Camelia S. Mar. 11, both at Fair Grounds.

The Klein silks will still be seen on racetracks across America, as Richard has no intention of dispersing, but will instead continue his family’s passion.

“My parents wished for me to continue,” Klein said. “We’ve got 60 horses now, and I am going to continue racing. Instead of my name only, I want to make it the Klein Family, so my parents can still feel like they are a part of it. [It was] my father’s wish of a week ago when we talked. He said to me ‘Richard, you don’t have to worry, just keep running the horses and enjoy the horses.’ The Berties will not go away.”

Preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Elaine and his son, David, Klein is survived by sons Stephen (Yael) of Yelm, Washington and Richard (Beth); four grandchildren, Erin, Kathryn, Chelsea, and Casey; and one great-grandson, Luke.

Funeral services will be held at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, Mar. 28 at The Temple, 501 US Hwy 42, with burial to follow in The Temple Cemetery. Visitation will begin after 1:00 p.m. Contributions may be made to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation-Elaine Klein Career Development Fund, 821 Corporate Dr. Lexington, KY 40503 or The Temple Julia, Bert and Elaine Klein Memorial Landscape Fund, instead of flowers.


Pedigree Insights: Thunder Snow

Mon, 2017-03-27 15:02

With the Kentucky Derby’s history dating all the way back to 1875, it has featured just about every conceivable twist and turn in its storylines. For example, the 1971 contest produced a shock when the Santa Anita Derby winner Jim French was totally outpointed by Canonero II, a raider from Venezuela. The Canonero story could hardly have been more colorful. Although foaled at Claiborne, the colt was sent by breeder Edward B. Benjamin to the Keeneland Fall Yearling Sale because his twisted off-foreleg raised doubts about his ability to race. After selling for only $1,200, the youngster became part of a wedding present to Edgar Caibett.

Canonero proved to have no soundness problems, making 12 starts before the Kentucky Derby, and he promptly added the Preakness. Although he could finish only fourth in the Belmont, picking up a hock injury which ended his three-year-old campaign, Canonero was later sold for a reported $1 million.

Canonero’s Triple Crown triumphs had been made all the more unpredictable by his pedigree, as his parents–the Epsom Derby second Pretendre and the minor winner Dixieland II–had both been turf performers in Britain. Then there were the logistical problems the colt had to overcome. His flight from Caracas to Florida was described as “harrowing.” He then had to complete a lengthy stay in quarantine in Florida, followed by the long road trip to Kentucky.

I mention all this simply to remind everyone that internationalism is nothing new to the Kentucky Derby. Even so, there is a good chance that an exciting international aspect will be added to this year’s race, following the G2 UAE Derby on the World Cup undercard. The race featured a desperately close finish between Godolphin’s admirable colt Thunder Snow and the very determined Japanese raider Epicharis, whose pedigree I reviewed in the February 21st issue.

The Meydan classic took place just days after Thunder Snow had been added to the Triple Crown nominees at the late nomination phase. He now has 100 points in the bag, and is unbeaten on dirt, having also won the G3 UAE 2,000 Guineas by nearly six lengths. It remains to be seen, though, whether Sheikh Mohammed’s team considers his dirt form to be on a par with his excellent exploits on turf, which include a five-length success in the G1 Criterium International over seven furlongs.

As a dirt specialist, Epicharis has far fewer alternatives to the Kentucky Derby, for which he earned a ticket with his Hyacinth S. success. However, it has been suggested that Epicharis will aim for the Belmont S., rather than the Derby–an understandable move when the Gold Allure colt has already faced a demanding international challenge.

An added international aspect to Thunder Snow’s background is that his sire Helmet carries the (AUS) suffix after his name, as does Helmet’s sire Exceed And Excel. While both these top performers made their name in Australia neither has any Australian bloodlines as Exceed And Excel has two American-bred parents and Helmet is out of a British-bred Singspiel mare from a top German female line.

Incidentally, both Helmet and Exceed And Excel demonstrated how difficult it can be for a horse to produce its best form after traveling halfway around the world. Exceed And Excel faded to finish in the rear after trying to lead throughout in the 2004 July Cup on his only European start. Helmet also failed to reproduce anything like his best Australian form when sent to the UAE and then Britain in 2012. Coincidentally, he also contested the UAE Derby, then run on Tapeta, but he was beaten after seven furlongs.

This effort was in sharp contrast to some of his displays in Australia, where he had been a Group 1 winner over seven furlongs and a mile as a two-year-old. He also won the G1 Caulfield Guineas at three. It is worth mentioning that two of this free-running colt’s poorer efforts came on the only occasions that Helmet ventured beyond a mile. Clearly he had inherited plenty of speed from Exceed And Excel, rather than stamina from his broodmare sire Singspiel, but Thunder Snow was still running on strongly at the end of 1 3/16 miles at Meydan.

Although Helmet didn’t inherit all of Singspiel’s stamina, Thunder Snow possibly owes his ability to handle dirt to Singspiel. A son of Halo’s famous daughter Glorious Song–a 14-time winner on dirt–Singspiel repelled a strong American challenge in the 1997 Dubai World Cup on fast dirt. Of course, Singspiel was also a Group 1 winner on turf in three other countries. This versatility was also displayed by Glorious Song, whose career also included three wins on turf, and by her very smart son Rahy.

Thunder Snow also comes from an American female line which has flourished on both sides of the Atlantic, on both surfaces. His fourth dam, Morning Has Broken, was a half-sister to Mr Prospector’s first champion, the juvenile filly It’s In The Air, who went on to plenty more Grade I success at three and four. It’s In The Air’s numerous talented descendants included her grand-daughter Music Note, winner of the GI Mother Goose S. and GI CCA Oaks on dirt.

The branch of the family descending from Thunder Snow’s third dam, Morning Devotion, has become a very reliable source of classic performers. Morning Devotion herself produced Storm Bird’s outstanding daughter Balanchine, winner of the Epsom Oaks before defeating the colts in the Irish Derby. Balanchine was by one son of Northern Dancer and Thunder Snow’s second dam, the Group 2 winner Red Slippers, was by another in Nureyev. Red Slippers’ brother Romanov was good enough to finish third in the Irish 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby and Red Slippers became the dam of West Wind, winner of the Prix de Diane.

Thunder Snow’s dam, the Dubai Destination mare Eastern Joy, was just an ordinary winner but she too is proving a worthy member of this excellent family. Her first four foals–each by a different –have all enjoyed stakes success. Thunder Snow follows Ihtimal (UAE 1,000 Guineas and Oaks and third in the 1,000 Guineas), Always Smile (a G1-placed Listed winner) and First Victory (a G3 winner as a two-year-old). The mare also has a two-year-old sister to Ihtimal.

Eastern Joy is playing her part in transforming Dubai Destination from failed stallion to highly respected broodmare sire. The former Darley stallion sired the dams of those top European middle-distance colts Golden Horn and Postponed. Silent Sedition, an Australian-bred filly by War Chant, became the latest Group 1 winner out of a Dubai Destination mare when she won the William Reid S. last Friday.

Tepin Refuses to Breeze, Returns to Barn `Happy and Healthy’

Mon, 2017-03-27 10:52

Tepin (Bernstein), sent out for a half-mile tuneup at Palm Meadows this morning, refused to breeze, but has come back to the barn “happy and healthy” according to her owner, Bob Masterson. The 6-year-old mare, who was named the American Champion Female Turf horse the past two years, was being ridden by her regular jockey, Julien Leparoux, at the time.

“She’s healthy as can be,” said Masterson. “She’s happy as can be. There’s not a pimple on her. She has been great. Julien was on her this morning and she was scheduled to breeze but she would not breeze; would not go at all. She is in season, and this happens sometimes. We think she doesn’t like being down there at Palm Meadows. There has been a little heat down there, so we’re going to ship from Churchill soon, see how she is, and make a decision about her future.”

Masterson said that assistant trainer Norman Casse was on hand at the time, and observers said she subsequently jogged two miles the wrong way before returning to the barn. “She has done this before,” said Masterson. “When she was very successful, she’s done it. We’re not upset about it. We’re not disturbed about it. We think she’s fine and we think she’ll go forward. She came back to the barn happy.”


Hence Shows ‘Em Who’s ‘Boss’

Sun, 2017-03-26 19:48

Calumet Farm homebred Hence (Street Boss) rebounded from a lackluster performance in the GIII Southwest S. with a decisive victory in the GIII Sunland Derby Sunday evening. A bit overlooked at 10-1, the chestnut ran alongside Shareholder Value (Uncle Mo) in last as Hedge Fund (Super Saver) was chased by favored Bronze Age (Mineshaft) through opening splits of :22.26 and :45.72. Picking off rivals to sit in a two-wide third approaching the far turn, the Steve Asmussen pupil looked previously undefeated leader Conquest Mo Money (Uncle Mo) in the eye for a few brief strides in early stretch before rolling clear to a 3 3/4-length victory. Hometown hopeful Conquest Mo Money checked in second, 4 1/2 lengths clear of third-place finished Hedge Fund. Bronze Age came home last after being eased.

“I broke almost dead last, so I just tried to save ground going into the first turn and then I swung out a little bit just to get my momentum going,” winning rider Alfredo Juarez, Jr., remarked. “When I started going from the 3/8ths pole to the wire, he was going at a good pace. When I got to the quarter-pole and he really started running, it was so emotional. It was really, really fun and I was just enjoying it every step of the way.”

The pilot added, “This win is very special to me. Thank you to Steve Asmussen for believing in me.”

A non-factor seventh behind stablemate Reckling (Dialed In) and GII Remsen S. hero Mo Town (Uncle Mo) in his six-furlong debut at Saratoga Aug. 27, Hence improved to third behind eventual GIII LeComte S. winner Guest Suite (Quality Road) when stretched to 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland Oct. 8 and missed by a neck next out at Churchill Downs Nov. 13. Stumbling at the start of his sophomore bow in the slop at Oaklawn Jan. 16, the chestnut looked an easy winner turning for home before ducking in sharply in the final furlong and brushing the rail, but re-rallied gamely to earn a narrow victory. He failed to fire last time when checking in seventh in the GIII Southwest S. in Hot Springs Feb. 20.

Pedigree Notes:

Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm purchased Floating Island with the winner in utero for $55,000 at the 2013 Keeneland November sale. The 15-year-old mare also produced the 2-year-old filly Mad Grace (English Channel) and a yearling filly by Risque Remarque, a black and white paint Thoroughbred stallion, privately purchased by Kelley, who currently stands in Arizona. She was bred back to Calumet’s GI Preakness S. winner Oxbow last term. Floating Island is a half-sister to MGSW Pico Teneriffe (Red Ransom), the sam of two-time Canadian champion Marchfield (A.P. Indy). This is also the family of the late Darley Sire Regal Ransom (Distorted Humor), a graded winner in both the U.A.E. and the U.S.; and MGISW Devil May Care (Malibu Moon ).

Sunday, Sunland Park
SUNLAND DERBY-GIII, $800,000, SUN, 3-26, 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:48.10, ft.
1–#@HENCE, 122, c, 3, by Street Boss
1st Dam: Floating Island, by A.P. Indy
2nd Dam: Ballerina Princess, by Mr. Prospector
3rd Dam: Aladancer, by Northern Dancer
O/B-Calumet Farm (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen; J-Alfredo J.
Juarez, Jr. $480,000. Lifetime Record: 6-2-1-1, $542,601.Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Conquest Mo Money, 122, c, 3, Uncle Mo–Stirring, by
Seeking the Gold. ($180,000 Ylg ’15 SARAUG; $8,500 2yo ’16
KEENOV). O-Judge Lanier Racing; B-Twin Creeks Farm (NY);
T-Miguel L. Hernandez. $176,000.
3–Hedge Fund, 122, c, 3, Super Saver–Rosy Humor, by
Distorted Humor. O-WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club
International Ltd. & SF Racing LLC; B-WinStar Farm, LLC (KY);
T-Todd A. Pletcher. $80,000.Margins: 3 3/4, 4HF, NK. Odds: 10.80, 4.20, 7.50.
Also Ran: Irap, Total Tap, Dilettante, Balandeen, Oxford Lane, Shareholder Value, Wine N Divine, Bronze Age. Scratched: Kimbear. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

I. Ortiz, Rodriguez and Jacobson Take Big A Inner Titles

Sun, 2017-03-26 19:17

Irad Ortiz, Jr. closed out the Aqueduct inner-track meet with a five-win day Sunday, while trainer Rudy Rodriguez and owner David Jacobson also proved uncatchable in their respective divisions.

The younger Ortiz entered Sunday’s card with a 15-win lead over Manny Franco, and pulled further clear with a closing day hat trick. Ortiz, who collected his 11th NYRA riding title Sunday, rode a total of 76 winners from 281 mounts for a 27% win rate and earned $3.5 million in purses.

“I had a very good day,” said Ortiz. “I have to thank God as well as all the trainers and owners who give me an opportunity, also my agent who is also doing a great job. It’s a great accomplishment. I’ve been fortunate to be put on a lot of winners by owners and trainers this meet. I do my work and they give me good chances with good horses so thanks to them.”

Franco held second with 56 winners from 332 mounts and Kendrick Carmouche was third with 53 winners from 269 mounts.

Rodriguez dominated the trainer standings with 49 wins from 201 starts, which was 18 more then runner-up Linda Rice. It was the second straight inner track title, and seventh NYRA title overall, for Rodriguez, who won at a 24.4% clip and earned nearly $2.1 million.

Rice closed out the meet with 31 winners from 130 starters for earnings of $1.3 million.

Jacobson, who tied Chris Englehart for third in the trainer standings, led all owners with 14 wins from 62 starts, which was six more than Chester and Mary Broman’s eight wins from 48 starts. Midwest Thoroughbreds was third with eight wins from 37 starts.


Ghalia Stays Perfect in Sunland Oaks

Sun, 2017-03-26 18:32

Sumaya US Stable’s Ghalia (Medaglia d’Oro) took her perfect record to three-for-three and registered her first black-type win Sunday when making her two-turn debut in the Sunland Park Oaks. In no hurry early, the 2-1 shot ran in second last as longshot Soft Cheese (Quality Road) and favored Grade I winner Noted and Quoted (The Factor) battled it out through early splits of :22.41 and :45.75 with local heroine Kell Paso (Divine Park) and What What What (Archarcharch) hot on their heels. The chalk called it a day after the opening half as Ghalia ranged up on the outside to sit fourth. Four wide turning for home, the $600,000 KEENOV buy swept by What What What in the lane and looked poised to leave new leader Kell Paso in her dust, but that rival dug deep, battling Ghalia every step to the wire. However, Jose Ortiz kept on asking and Ghalia kept on finding to score by a neck. Kell Paso finished 5 3/4 lengths clear of What What What and Noted and quoted faded to last.

Ghalia donned cap and gown by a dominant 6 3/4 lengths when unveiled in a six-panel test at Gulfstream Jan. 22. She made it two in a row with another front-running score in a 6 1/2-furlong optional claimer in Hallandale Feb. 15.

Oussama Aboughazale’s Sumaya US Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher also teamed up to win last weekend’s GII Rebel S. at Oaklawn with “TDN Rising Star” Malagacy (Shackleford). Aboughazale recently purchased a farm in Kentucky to build his U.S. breeding operation and has been doing a lot of shopping to fill it at the winter breeding stock sales. Click here to read more on Aboughazale’s shopping spree at Keeneland January, where he was leading buyer; and here to read about his Fasig-Tipton February purchases, which included the $700,000 topper.

Pedigree Notes:

The winner’s dam Verdana Bold, winner of the 2008 GIII Selene S., is also responsible for the juvenile colt Hucklebuck (Street Cry {Ire}). She produced an Into Mischief colt in 2016 and a filly by that Spendthrift stallion Feb. 25 of this year. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Sunday, Sunland Park

SUNLAND PARK OAKS, $200,000, SUN, 3-26, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m, 1:44.24, ft.
1–#GHALIA, 121, f, 3, by Medaglia d’Oro
1st Dam: Verdana Bold (GSW, $331,297), by Rahy
2nd Dam: True Legacy (GB), by A.P. Indy
3rd Dam: Harbour Club, by Danzig
($600,000 Wlg ’14 KEENOV). O-Sumaya U.S. Stable; B-Edward
A. Seltzer, Beverly Anderson & Darley (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher;
J-Jose L. Ortiz. $120,000. Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0, $166,800.2–Kell Paso, 121, f, 3, Divine Park–Listen to Libby, by Indian
Charlie. ($12,500 Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O-William K. Goode;
B-Brereton C. Jones (KY); T-Greg Green. $44,000.
3–What What What, 121, f, 3, Archarcharch–Stormy Blast, by
Kayrawan. ($10,000 Ylg ’15 BSCYRL). O-W. C. Racing, Neil
Haymes & Glen Khan; B-Gregory William Roberts & Stelly
Stables, LLC (KY); T-Doug F. O’Neill. $20,000.
Margins: NK, 5 3/4, 2 1/4. Odds: 2.00, 1.80, 9.90.
Also Ran: Conquest Slayer, Soft Cheese, McKenzie Honey, Noted and Quoted.