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Updated: 10 hours 13 min ago

Into Mischief Colt Runs Away With Inaugural Stakes

Sat, 2017-12-16 17:01

Tricks to Doo was bought for $115,000 at Fasig-Tipton October sale before being purchased by his current connections for $600,000 at OBS March after breezing a furlong in :9 4/5. After finishing third in his debut Oct. 7 at Keeneland, Tricks to Doo galloped home to a 5 3/4-length graduation last time out Oct. 27 at Laurel.

The heavy 2-5 favorite broke a little outward, but ranged up alongside long shot Nickie’s Papa (Run Away and Hide) and sat a stalking trip second under a strong hold from Daniel Centeno through the opening furlong. Tricks to Doo took the lead at the half-mile pole still in hand before switching leads entering the stretch and pulling away easily from the field to an impressive 7 1/4-length score.

This is the first stakes winner out of Doolittle, who is a half to GISW Her Smile (Include). Doolittle also has a weanling filly by Street Boss and was bred to Exaggerator and Outwork this season. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

INAUGURAL S., $50,000, TAM, 12-16, 2yo, 6f, 1:09.58, ft.
1–TRICKS TO DOO, 116, c, 2, Into Mischief–Doolittle, by Polish
Numbers. ($115,000 Ylg ’16 EASOCT; $600,000 2yo ’17
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN. O-Lael Stable; B-D.C. Goff (KY); T-Arnaud
Delacour; J-Daniel Centeno. $30,000. Lifetime Record: 3-2-0-1,
$59,300.2–Arazi Like Move, 116, g, 2, Graydar–Bares Tripper, by Sky
Mesa. ($42,000 RNA Ylg ’16 KEESEP; $35,000 2yo ’17 OBSMAR).
O-Loooch Racing Stables, Inc.; B-Town & Country Horse Farms,
LLC (KY); T-Aldana Gonzalez. $10,000.
3–Twin Farms, 117, c, 2, Run Away and Hide–Heartbroken Hill,
by Broken Vow. O/B-Donamire Farm (KY); T-Ben Colebrook.
Margins: 7 1/4, HD, 3 1/4. Odds: 0.40, 13.40, 8.30.
Also Ran: His Name Is Sue, Nickie’s Papa, Wildcat’s Legacy, Salsa Lane. Scratched: Charge Card, Gone Fishing.


Tapit ‘Rising Star’ Dominates To Stay Unbeaten at Fair Grounds

Sat, 2017-12-16 16:38

5th-FG, $43,000, Alw (NW1X)/Opt. Clm ($50,000), 12-16, 2yo, 1m 70y, 1:42.94, ft.

PRINCIPE GUILHERME (c, 2, Tapit–Aubby K {GISW, $435,004}, by Street Sense) made good on his runaway ‘TDN Rising Star’ debut performance, a 6 1/4-length tally going seven furlongs at Churchill Nov. 10. Not much of a secret at odds of 2-5 in this first two-turn test, he went the front and was uncontested through opening fractions of :24.38 and :48.79. The bay continued unchallenged on the lead and under a tight hold entering the stretch and wasn’t for catching. It was 11 3/4 lengths back to Private Eye (Midnight Lute) in second.

Principe Guilherme, quoted at odds of 27-1 in Pool 1 Kentucky Derby Future Wager, is the first foal out of 2013 GI Humana Distaff S. heroine Aubby K, a $2.4-million FTKNOV purchase by Summer Wind Farm in 2015. Aubby K, a half-sister to GSP Flying Pegasus (Fusaichi Pegasus) and Mythical Pegasus (Fusaichi Pegasus), had a colt by Tapit in 2016 and a filly by Medaglia d’Oro in 2017. She was bred back to Empire Maker. Sales history: $600,000 Wlg ’15 FTKNOV. Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0, $61,800. Click for the chart.

O/B-Three Chimneys Farm (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen.

Union Rags Colt Holds Off Late Challenge to Graduate at Gulfstream

Sat, 2017-12-16 15:04

6th-GP, $42,000, Msw, 12-16, 2yo, 1m, 1:37.62, ft.

NAVISTAR (c, 2, Union Rags–Delightfully So, by Indian Charlie)

was purchased for $90,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale before selling for $900,000 at this year’s OBS March sale. He was last seen finishing second behind ‘TDN Rising Star’ Mask (Tapit) at Belmont Park Oct. 20. The 2-5 favorite got bumped at the break, but quickly recovered to sit a stalking trip second through an opening quarter in :24.08. He took control inside on the far turn before feeling the presence of Master Manipulator (Tale of the Cat) to his outside. Navistar put away that challenge at the eighth pole before having to deal with a late-running He Takes Charge (Tapit) in deep stretch, but battled on for the 1 1/2-length graduation. He Takes Charge held second while Master Manipulatory faded to fourth. This is the first foal out of Delightfully So, who’s a half to Delightful Mary (Limehouse), Ch. 2yo filly-Can & GSW, $588,055; and Delightful Kiss (Kissin Kris), MGSW, $1,096,263. She also has a yearling filly by Constitution and was bred to Liam’s Map this year. Lifetime Record: 2-1-1-0, $40,200. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

O-Robert V. LaPenta; B-Fred W. Hertrich III & John D. Fielding (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher.


Frankel Half To Tamarkuz Impresses On Debut

Sat, 2017-12-16 11:14

6th-NC, £7,000, Cond, 12-16, 2yo, 8f 5y (AWT), 1:38.74, st.
WITHOUT PAROLE (GB) (c, 2, Frankel {GB}–Without You Babe, by Lemon Drop Kid), a half-brother to last year’s GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-winning Shadwell resident Tamarkuz (Speightstown), was backed down to 8-13 favouritism and raced behind the leading trio early. Sent to the front with 1 1/2 furlongs remaining, the bay homebred surged clear before being eased to register a facile six-length success from Trevithick (GB) (Champs Elysees {GB}). Led out unsold at 650,000gns at the 2016 Tattersalls October Sale, the Glennwood Farm-bred colt is out of the unraced Without You Babe whose first foal was the aforementioned Tamarkuz, also successful in the G2 Godolphin Mile, G3 Firebreak S. and G3 Burj Nahaar and runner-up in the GI Forego S. and GII Kelso H., GISW-US & MGSW-UAE, $1,840,444. She is a half to the GI Travers S. and GI Cigar Mile H. hero Stay Thirsty (Bernardini) and the Fusaichi Pegasus pair of sires Andromeda’s Hero and Superfly. The third dam is the SW and GI Mother Goose S., GI Ladies H., GI Alabama S., GI Hempstead H. and GI Monmouth Oaks runner-up Make Change (Roberto). Without You Babe’s 2016 offering is a filly by Kingman (GB) named She’s Got You (GB), while she also has a filly foal by Oasis Dream (GB). Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $6,032. Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-John and Tanya Gunther; B-John Gunther (GB); T-John Gosden.

A Long Road Home for Mr Speaker

Fri, 2017-12-15 20:09

When Mr Speaker (Pulpit) set foot on the grounds at Lane’s End Farm Friday to begin preparations for the 2018 breeding season, his return represented the culmination of a year-long ordeal that left the third-year stallion quarantined in Chile being treated for piroplasmosis, a tick-borne disease found in horses.

After covering 117 mares while fully syndicated in his first year at Lane’s End in 2016, Mr Speaker was shipped to stand his initial Southern Hemisphere season at Haras Cordillera in Chile. When the GI Belmont Derby winner returned to Miami at the conclusion of the year in December 2016, he was not permitted to re-enter the United States due to a positive test–a development that left the Lane’s End team searching for answers.

“He was tested when he left Chile, but they didn’t get the results until he got to Miami,” said Bill Farish, general manager of Lane’s End. “He was tested again when he got to Miami, and he was positive for piroplasmosis. They said the option was to send him back to Chile…So he got back there and there was a very lengthy treatment protocol that took a long, long time to work. He tested basically every month for a year. Thankfully, he’s testing negative again.”

The recent negative tests opened the door for the Mr Speaker’s return to America earlier this month. After spending a week in quarantine in Miami, the stallion was finally cleared to make his way back to Kentucky.

“It was quite a surprise,” Farish said, reflecting on the past year. “It really is a blow to syndicate members and to us whenever you have a young stallion entering his second year at stud. When you can’t have that second season, it’s tough.”

When asked about Mr Speaker’s future prospects, Farish said it has been a work in progress calling attention to the fact he has returned to the United States. Because Mr Speaker was absent for the entirety of what would have been his second year at stud in North America–effectively putting a halt to the continuity of his career–the young stallion will likely need to prove himself all over again in 2018.

“It’s just starting to dawn on people,” Farish said. “The shareholders are obviously well aware and excited to have him back, as are we. But with the general breeder out there, we’re trying to get the word out to them that he’s available again…He’s a very intriguing prospect being bred the same way as Tapit and he’s such a good looking horse. It’s a new frontier for us having a third-year horse who wasn’t here his second year.”

If there was a silver lining to an otherwise unfortunate situation, it is that Farish and company were pleased with the reception given to Mr Speaker’s first foals at the November sale. Selling for up to $70,000, the weanlings drew positive reviews from buyers and sellers alike reporting back to Farish.

“His weanlings were well received for a horse who wasn’t in the country at the time,” Farish said. “Not just the prices–we had people coming up to us saying, ‘I’ve got a really nice Mr. Speaker.'”

Farish said the immediate concern remains raising awareness that Mr Speaker is back in the Bluegrass, and as such, he said he encourages visitors to Lane’s End Farm.


Nine Pegasus Slots Sold by Friday Deadline

Fri, 2017-12-15 19:20

The deadline for owners to commit to buying slots in the Jan. 27 GI Pegasus World Cup came and went Friday with only nine slots being sold. However, in hopes of having a full field of 12 by post time, the Stronach Group bought the three remaining spots and will look to find horses to fill them between now and entry time for the $16-million race.

The nine horses that have secured spots are: Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}), West Coast (Flatter), Toast of New York (Thewayyouare), Gunnevera (Dialed In), War Story (Northern Afleet), Collected (City Zip), Stellar Wind (Curlin) and Seeking the Soul (Perfect Soul). The ninth spot was purchased earlier by Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs Farm, which has yet to determine what horse it will use to fill the slot.

The biggest omission from the list was that of GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Forever Unbridled (Unbridled’s Song), who is owned by Charles Fipke. Fipke had said he was interested in running his mare in the race, but instead bought a slot for Seeking the Soul. Seeking the Soul is coming off a win in the GI Clark H. Dallas Stewart trains both horses.

“This was pretty much Mr. Fipke’s decision,” Stewart said. “We’re running Seeking the Soul because we think we have a really live chance with him. Forever Unbridled has already established her resume. She’s a made woman. I know Gun Runner is the horse to beat, but our horse is coming off a big win and we really think he has a good shot.”

Stewart said Forever Unbridled is doing “great” and will be pointed for a “Grade I campaign.” He mentioned the GI Apple Blossom at Oaklawn as one race that would possibly be on her schedule.

The Stronach Group had hoped to have all 12 slots sold by Friday, but the company’s CEO Tim Ritvo said he was delighted with the quality of the horses that have committed to the race. The race will include the top four finishers from the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic, plus Gunnevera, who was sixth.

“Yes, we wish we had all 12 slots sold by now, but those things happen,” Ritvo said. “But we are thrilled with what we have. It’s our second year and there are still growing pains. But I think Frank Stronach deserves so much credit for what he has done with this race. After last year, we could have said, we did it, that was fun, goodbye. Instead, we’re back and look at the results. This race has extended the racing careers of at least two horses, Gun Runner and Stellar Wind, and that never would have happened without this race. It’s great for racing to get to see these horses run again.”

With the Stronach Group now owning three spots it will be up to Ritvo and his team to find horses to fill them and negotiate deals. Each slot costs $1 million.

“We put up the extra money to protect the purse of

$16 million,” Ritvo said. “Now it’s up to us to cut deals with people who may want to run. It could be a 50-50 deal, we could sell the entire spot to someone. There are still a lot of horses out there who are possibilities.”

One such horse is Sharp Aztecta (Freud), who is coming off a win in the GI Cigar Mile. Trainer Jorge Navarro said his owner, Ivan Rodriguez, wants to run in the race, but cannot make a commitment because he is in the process of negotiating a deal to sell an interest in the six-time stakes winner.

“We have the money and want ro run,” Navarro said. “But there is an offer out there right now for the horse and the owner is willing to sell. He doesn’t want to sell the horse 100%, he wants to keep a share. Right now, we are waiting for things to fall into place and dealing with deadlines. We just want to do the right thing for the animal.”

Ritvo said the owners of Prime Attraction (Unbridled’s Song), the recent winner of the GIII Native Diver, had asked about a spot and remain a possibility for the race. Saturday’s GIII Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream could also produce a starter. Trainer Todd Pletcher told the Daily Racing Form that should Destin (Giant’s Causeway) run well in the $100,000 race, owners Twin Creek Racing Stables might consider the Pegasus. Ritvo said he also hopes to attract a starter from the December 26

GII San Antonio S. at Santa Anita.

With three open slots left, Fipke still has the opportunity to run Forever Unbridled in the race, but Stewart said he was rather certain his owner was intent on passing with his mare.

The Stronach Group has gone to great lengths to ease the financial burden on owners whose horses do not finish in the top three. Several owners who put up the $1 million last year were licking their wounds when the return on their investment was in the neighborhood of $350,000. The Stronach Group took $4 million out of its own pocket and added it to the $12 million put up by the slot holders. By doing so, Gulfstream is now guaranteeing a minimum return of $650,000 to all starters.

Toast of New York will be one of the more interesting horses in the race. It was announced Friday that Reeves Thoroughbreds, R.A. Hill and Eric Young had reached an agreement with Al Shaqab Racing to partner on a slot in the race. When last seen in the U.S., the now 6-year-old lost the 2014 GI Breeders’ Cup Classic to Bayern (Offlee Wild) by a nose. He did not race again until Dec. 6 of this year, winning a race on a synthetic surface at Lingfield in the U.K.


Animal Kingdom Filly Wires the Field at Los Al

Fri, 2017-12-15 19:16

8th-LRC, $41,035, Msw, 12-15, 2yo, f, 6f, 1:10.01, ft.

AHIMSA (f, 2, Animal Kingdom–Hot Affair, by Cuvee) took the field from gate-to-wire for an impressive debut graduation Friday night. Breaking sharply from her rail draw, the chestnut instantly took control, zipping through an opening quarter in :22.21 and a half in :45.46. Taking the field into the lane with Mike Smith still motionless in the irons, she kept on finding to hold all challengers at bay by 2 1/4 lengths on the line. Fellow firster Gracious Me (Into Mischief), a 22-1 shot, was second. The winner is the second foal out of Hot Affair, who produced a full-sister to the winner Feb. 23 of this year. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $24,000. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

O-Three Great Sons LLC & Darryl Hughes; B-Three Great Sons LLC (KY); T-Peter Eurton.


Pricey Tapit Colt Earns Rising Star Nod in NY

Fri, 2017-12-15 14:02

Marconi (Tapit), second behind stablemate Biblical (Tapit) over this track-and-trip Nov. 17, stepped up off that performance while adding blinkers for this “TDN Rising Star”-worthy graduation. Hammered down to 3-5 favoritism, the $2 million KEESEP buy missed the break, trailing the field through an opening half in :49.28. Progressing up the backstretch run to be fourth, the half-brother to GI Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno) squeezed between horses then stalled a bit and appeared to be done. Switched out four wide on the far turn to launch another bid, the gray overtook the longshot leader in mid-stretch and extended clear to don cap and gown by 5 1/2 lengths over late-running Lonely Weekend (Tiznow).

In addition to Mucho Macho Man, MGISW, $5,625,410, Marconi is a full-brother to fellow “TDN Rising Star” Southern Girl, SW, $120,905, who sold to Marconi’s part-owner Bridlewood Farm for $820,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton November sale. Their stakes-winning dam Ponche de Leona RNA’d for $1.4 million while carrying Southern Girl at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton November sale. She was sent back through the ring at the 2014 Keeneland January sale with a Distorted Humor foal in utero and summoned $775,000 from Brushwood Stable. The resulting foal was a still unnamed colt, after which she produced Marconi and was bred back to Tapit. But failed to get in foal. The 18-year-old mare produced an American Pharoah colt this year and was bred back to Tapit.

3rd-AQU, $60,000, Msw, 12-15, 2yo, 1 1/8m, 1:54.51, ft.

MARCONI (c, 2, Tapit–Ponche de Leona {SW, $260,870}, by Ponche) Lifetime Record: 2-1-1-0, $48,000. O-Bridlewood Farm, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith & Michael B. Tabor; B-Brushwood Stable (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. Click for the chart, the free catalogue-style pedigree or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


Archipenko Dead After Brief Illness

Fri, 2017-12-15 07:08

Archipenko (Kingmambo-Bound I, by Nijinsky), who just last weekend sired his third Group 1 winner in the G1 Hong Kong Cup winner Time Warp (GB), has died at Lanwades Stud in Newmarket due to a rare form of lymphoma at age 13. A press release from Lanwades owner Kirsten Rausing read, “he had a brief illness due to a rare, rapid and aggressive lymphoma. This is a fatal but non-infectious condition that is, sadly, untreatable. Until shortly before his death, Archipenko had been in good health and in fact successfully covered mares to Southern Hemisphere time at Lanwades.”

“Archipenko, as good-looking as he was well-bred, was a delightful individual to deal with and he is an enormous loss to Lanwades and the European Thoroughbred breeding industry in general.”

Trained initially by Aidan O’Brien and campaigned in the Michael Tabor silks, Archipenko won the G2 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial S. in 2007 but trailed in last behind Authorized (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}) in the blue riband. Three further Group 1 assignments that season resulted in off the board finishes, and he was transferred to trainer Mike de Kock. Archipenko reappeared at the 2008 Dubai carnival in the silks of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, and in his second start for his new connections he scooped the G2 Al Fahidi Fort S. He was third next out in the G1 Dubai Duty Free, and put it all together for a Group 1 win next time in the G1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup at Sha Tin. Archipenko returned to Britain that summer to take the G2 Summer Mile S. at Ascot, and put in a strong showing in a trip to America to be second in the GI Arlington Million. Archipenko added one more group win before his career came to a close, taking the G3 Zabeel Mile at the 2009 Dubai carnival.

Archipenko has stood his entire career at Lanwades and he also shuttled to Argentina. There, he was responsible for this year’s G1 Gran Premio General San Martin winner Forty One (Arg) and three other Group 1 winners. His European flagbearer was the G1 British Champions Fillies and Mares S. winner Madame Chiang (GB), while Time Warp last weekend gave his sire a Group 1 winner on three continents.

Cash Relief Starts Flowing Friday to Fire Victims

Thu, 2017-12-14 18:36

As donations continue to pour in to aid victims of the Dec. 7 fire at San Luis Rey Downs that killed 46 horses, displaced hundreds of workers, and critically injured several rescuers, charity administrators, racing industry executives, and the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) are coordinating efforts to ensure that aid money is spent wisely, quickly, and in compliance with tax laws.

As a result of this quick cooperation, charity payments will start flowing on Friday to workers affected by the fire.

The Dec. 14 CHRB monthly meeting was dominated by off-agenda items pertaining to the fire recovery efforts. Although the oversight of donated money does not directly fall under the auspices of the state’s racing regulatory board, the involved California parties underscored they are making a collective effort to ensure their actions are in line with the wishes of the CHRB.

“It seems like such an easy thing to do to give away money, and it is not,” said CHRB commissioner Madeline Auerbach, who is also part of the independent committee formed to oversee donations from the GoFundMe initiative that to date has raised $637,000 to help fire victims.

“Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, it’s GoFundMe and you get the money right away,'” Auerbach testified at the meeting. “It is not, because we’re talking about a significant amount of money, and it takes days to actually get that money out.”

The practice of “crowd funding” via the internet to help disaster victims has spiked over the past several years. But as this method of donating has grown in popularity, so too have reports detailing how some recipients of charity money are being hit with unexpected tax bills from the Internal Revenue Service. Others eligible for funding in the wake of recent tragedies in America are being targeted by scammers.

To both expedite the payment process and to safeguard against unintended consequences, the San Luis Rey fire relief GoFundMe committee has worked out an arrangement with the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation, Inc. (CTHF) to move all of the donated GoFundMe money under the umbrella of the CTHF’s 501 (c) (3) registered charitable trust.

As a result, CTHF executive director Cliff Goodrich explained, his organization will be able to start making payments to victims on Dec. 15, just eight days after the fire.

“Tomorrow, plans are underway to distribute checks to 20 San Luis Rey Downs trainers and cash to some 200 workers impacted by the fire, regardless of degree,” Goodrich said.

“This is the initial give-out of the money,” Auerbach said. “Everybody will be treated in exactly the same fashion in getting these funds to try and get their lives back in order.”

Later on, Goodrich added, “those more seriously harmed can come down the road [for additional assistance consideration] as we learn about individual situations.”

Besides Auerbach and Goodrich, others on the GoFundMe committee are Nate Newby, Santa Anita Park’s vice president of marketing; David Jerkens, the racing secretary for Del Mar Thoroughbred Club; Alan Balch, the executive director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, and Rick Hammerle, the vice president of racing for Santa Anita.

“We think we have an eclectic mix of people who are probably in the best position to address these concerns,” Auerbach said. “In no way is the management or ownership of The Stronach Group involved in this, and in no way is the management and ownership group of Del Mar involved with getting these funds out. We have given [control] to a group of people who do not have to go through lengthy committees. Our main objective, and the objective of people who gave us the money, is to get it into the hands of the people who need it the most.”

Goodrich said the CTHF has hired legal counsel “to ensure we are acting properly and correctly [and] that we are not acting against the intended purposes of our charter, as more entities will require financial assistance than just the normal categories of trainers and workers that we have historically serviced.”

Auerbach also cautioned that even as the racing community unites to help fire victims, financial predators are lurking to try and get their hands on charity money by illegal means.

When a separate rash of wildfires scorched northern California earlier this year, Auerbach said state and federal officials noted “a tremendous amount of people looking to scam the system.” She detailed how at least one trainer she knows whose name was made public as a victim during the earlier fires had someone apply for relief in his name in an unsuccessful attempt to divert federal relief money.

“I don’t want to throw a blanket over things but…please be aware that there are some people around us who are not really part of our community who are trying to make things more difficult than they already are,” Auerbach said.

“But I don’t want to close on a down note,” Auerbach continued. “I want to close on a high note and tell you all how grateful we are [for the GoFundMe donations and other forms of industry cooperation], and you have to let us know if we are not taking care of things.”


$1.2-million Dispute Imperils Charles Town Classic

Thu, 2017-12-14 15:44

The future of the $1.2 million signature stakes event at Charles Town Races hangs in the balance after the West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC) tabled the approval of the track’s entire 2018 open stakes schedule at its Dec. 11 monthly meeting.

Debate over okaying the stakes schedule–which in many states is a perfunctory action performed at the commission level–centered on objections raised by commissioner Ken Lowe Jr., who argued that he cannot justify approving a seven-figure purse for just a single race, the GII Charles Town Classic. The Charleston Gazette-Mail first reported the dispute.

Charles Town officials countered that the Classic has become the calling card for the track since the nine-furlong race for older horses was established in 2009, and that the expenditure from the purse account is well within the parameters of the negotiated horsemen’s contract. The prominent April race, they argued, pays dividends in terms of boosted handle and serves as a marketing tool that gets the track noticed on a national level.

Although Lowe is a first-year commissioner on the three-person board, he is a long-time West Virginia horse owner, and Tuesday’s standoff is not the first he has had with Charles Town management.

In 2011, when Lowe was president of the Charles Town Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, track management ejected him from the property for a violation of Charles Town’s house rule against solicitation (authorizing the distribution of political flyers).

When reached by phone Wednesday at his real estate development business in Shepherdstown, about 12 miles north of the track, Lowe emphatically denied that a grudge or retaliation played any part in his reasoning for not voting in favor of the stakes schedule.

“No. Not in the slightest. I’m 69 years old. I don’t hold grudges. But I do look at the big picture, and I try to understand both sides,” Lowe said. He added that his getting barred from Charles Town was a “bogus deal” and that a lawsuit he initiated against Charles Town over the matter resulted in an out-of-court settlement that he cannot discuss.

Erich Zimny, Charles Town’s vice president of racing operations, told TDN he did not wish to comment on Lowe’s previous relations with the track. Zimny instead preferred to focus on the merits of the Classic itself.

“For a long, long time, Charles Town was in no way integrated with the national racing scene,” Zimny said. “Before, there was no day when eyeballs around the nation were going to be on our product. The Classic provides the type of attention that traditional advertising could never buy us. The nine largest handles in Charles Town history are all Charles Town Classic days.”

Beyond the boosted handle on that one big day of racing, Zimny pointed out that the Classic creates a “halo effect” that buoys business during the rest of the year.

“Since we’ve started this race in 2009, our [daily] handle per race is up 65%,” Zimny said. “And purses paid to West Virginia-breds have basically doubled from when the Classic started in ’09 to today. Is it all because of that one race? No. But the Classic is the anchor of our calendar, and it is the one thing that we saw that this program needed to move forward.”

Lowe didn’t buy that logic when it was presented at the meeting.

“I said that I would not support a $1.2 million purse for the race. I would consider a $300,000 purse,” Lowe explained. “I can’t, in good conscience, justify spending that much for one race. There’s no local horses involved. To my knowledge, there’s no local jockeys involved. It’s giving money away to [owners from other jurisdictions] when Charles Town [horsemen are] struggling. I would think there would be more benefit to having ten $100,000 races. Or even four $250,000 races. Market it right.”

Zimny said he is skeptical Charles Town would get much bang for its buck that way.

“At a $300,000 purse, I just don’t know that we would be able to get the horses that we want to get for a race like that,” Zimny said. “It would probably be a bad business decision to run the race for $300,000.”

Zimny added that while he can’t speak on behalf of the horsemen, he noted none of them showed up at Tuesday’s meeting to voice objections to the stakes schedule, which includes five other open stakes.

“The Classic has already taken a 20% purse cut from where it was at its highest point,” Zimny said. “It was $1.5 million for a few years. We’ve been giving away the same percentage of unrestricted stakes purses for several years now, and it’s always gotten passed [by the commission].”

Zimny explained that Charles Town’s contract with horsemen allows for the budgeting of 8% of the purses paid for the prior year to go toward the following year’s non-state-bred stakes schedule. He noted that at other tracks, that amount can be as high as 20% to 30%.

“Our number in our contract with our horsemen is one of the lowest in the country,” Zimny said.

Lowe said it is up to the board’s chairman to decide when and if the item will be placed on the January agenda for reconsideration. A message left Wednesday with the WVRC executive director seeking clarification on whether the issue will come up again was not returned before Thursday’s deadline for this story.

“We can’t find an instance where a commission has rejected a stakes schedule. It may exist somewhere, but we certainly haven’t been able to find it,” Zimny said.


Fappiano Risorgimento

Thu, 2017-12-14 11:53

If you look at the leading sires for 2017 you may deduce that the top two are there only because they have sired one major runner who won a ton of money, i.e., Arrogate for Unbridled’s Song and Gun Runner for Candy Ride (Arg). While that might be true on the surface, and while one might think neither will be that strong at the end of 2018, one might be in that forest-for- the-trees situation.

That’s because Fappiano, the tap root sire of those two stallions, has fired what could be just an introductory shot across the bow of the leading sires lists over the next five years. Fappiano, we say? Yes, indeed. The time has come to acknowledge that even though he was sired by Mr. Prospector, he effectively broke away from his sire’s line in terms of his descendants’ aptitudes both on and off the track to establish his own identity as a sire line founder.

Fappiano has always gone against the grain. For example, his name puzzled just about everyone when he first started racing because that sly kidder John Nerud, who bred him, named him after Joe Nichols, a great sports writer who was born Giuseppe Carmine Fappiano. (Nerud also carried this deception off again by naming Cozzene to reflect an Americanized version of how Italian-American stable hands referred to their cousins-their “cuggini.”)

Fappiano retired to stud in Florida, and by the time of his untimely demise at age 11, after moving to Kentucky, Fappiano had sired three sons who would establish strong Classic sire lines that live on today. They are Unbridled, through his sons Unbridled’s Song and Empire Maker; Cryptoclearance, through his grandson Candy Ride (Arg); and Quiet American, through his grandson Midnight Lute. Lest we forget, these three came after Fappiano established his reputation as a sire-of-sires with his son Roy, who dominated South American racing in the 1980s while standing in Argentina, Chile, and Brazil, before being repatriated to this country. Along the way, Fappiano also sired the talented speed influences Rubiano and Pentelicus, who did not carry on in male lines.

One of the most interesting things about how this line developed on pedigree is that none of the broodmare sires of Fappiano’s three leading sons are from the same sire line: Hoist the Flag (Ribot) for Cryptoclearance; *Le Fabuleux (Wild Risk) for Unbridled; and Dr. Fager (Fappiano’s own broodmare sire from the totally domestic line of Plaudit), for Quiet American. There are similar dichotomies in the broodmare sires of the leading sons of those three and most other successful Fappiano sons.

However, a study of the physical measurements of more than 80 of the sons and male-line descendants of Fappiano points out a consistent pattern of phenotypical and biomechanical similarities starting with the trait most obvious to the naked eye: Size.

Fappiano absolutely inherited overall balance and efficiency from both Mr. Prospector and Dr. Fager, but he got his size from the latter, who in several key respects was a couple of inches longer, or taller, than Mr. Prospector–dimensions which he passed on to Fappiano, who was very consistent in stamping his best running, and siring sons, with those important qualities. Those factors helped many of them sustain their natural speed over longer distances and are possessed by some of the tribe who are not necessarily large horses.

What they have inherited is an abundance of speed which we now see coming through in subsequent generations. All you need is to look at the leading second-crop sire, and it turns out that he might be bringing back some of the memories of the speed and tenacity of his sire’s influence with Empire Maker’s Bodemeister sitting there, thanks, in part, to Always Dreaming. (And we haven’t even begun to talk about Pioneerof the Nile and Twirling Candy).

Fappiano may not “be back,” for he never left us, but he is in the middle of his own renaissance, or, if you will allow linguistic purity, risorgimento.

Bob Fierro is a partner with Jay Kilgore and Frank Mitchell in DataTrack International, biomechanical consultants and developers of BreezeFigs. Bob may be contacted at

Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Won’t Return in 2018

Wed, 2017-12-13 17:10

Fasig-Tipton’s Turf Showcase yearling sale will not return for 2018, the sales company confirmed Wednesday after a report by the Blood-Horse. The one-day auction was held for the first time in 2017 on Sept. 10 in Lexington in an effort to capitalize on recent successes of American-bred turf horses abroad and the increased interest in grass racing and breeding domestically.

A pair of Scat Daddy colts topped the sale this year at $250,000, but the buy-back rate was nearly 49% and Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning, Jr. expressed disappointment at its conclusion with the lack of foreign participation.

“The senior executives drew together for a meeting on Monday after this project had been evaluated, not only after the sale, but as part of our recruitment for yearlings in 2018,” Fasig’s Director of Marketing Terence Collier told the TDN. “We had begun to have discussions with core groups of consignors that provided us with most of the product for the 2017 sale and they all indicated that they had difficulty in going back to their clients and recruiting numbers that would make them comfortable about the sale. Those consignors were fearful that the group of horses that we could put together in 2018 would not really form the basis of a solid sale, both in terms of its quality and numbers, and the consignors, first, didn’t want to disappoint their clients. When those reactions started coming back to us, we had to make a pretty quick and hard choice. We didn’t want to go through the recruiting, which we would have had to do aggressively, and then come up short of numbers and abandon the project in 2018 and force people to shuffle.”

When asked if the sale was worth a try in retrospect, Collier said, “I think that we went into it with a huge amount of optimism and enthusiasm and we gave it a 100% full-court press effort to recruit buyers to the sale. So we never had any doubts when we decided to stage the Turf Showcase that this was not a very solid idea. It has sadly disappointed us, and we feel really sad that this concept didn’t catch on. We are both sad and surprised at that.”

He added, “I think the prominence of Kitten’s Joy has done a lot to create awareness about turf racing. We did an evaluation of the number of races on grass and the money available. The one thing that surprised us was the buyers’ somewhat lukewarm reception to the project. None more than me; I had been over to Europe to recruit buyers and I was probably the very last one to be convinced that we shouldn’t go ahead with the thing in 2018 because Boyd and Bill [Graves] and Bayne [Welker] had started their yearling recruitment, where I don’t have as much to do with the consignors as with the buyers.”


Camarero to Reopen Friday

Wed, 2017-12-13 16:58

For the first time since Hurricane Maria caused devastating damage to Puerto Rico, Camarero Racetrack will run a regular card Friday. The track ran three races with no betting Oct. 29, which was necessary for some horses to qualify for last week’s Carribean Classic at Gulfstream.

The last time a full card was held at the track was Sept. 17, three days before the hurricane hit.

Camarero normally races five days a week but will stick to a three-day-a-week schedule until it can build its horse population back up.

“The track has been redone and is in perfect condition,” said Marc Tacher, co-owner of the racetrack. “The barns also have been worked on and everything that is needed to race is in place. It’s already working. Of course a lot of people depend on this industry and the main reason for us moving ahead and starting the racing operation again is exactly that–because people need to work.”

The track will begin racing again despite claims by a horse welfare group on the island that not nearly enough has been done in the way of repairs on the backstretch to adequately house and care for the horses stabled there.

“I’m not against starting up the racing. I think starting the racing back up is going to give hope to fans, grooms, trainers,” said Kelley Stobie of Carribean Thoroughbred Aftercare Inc., a group that spearheaded the effort to save and care for horses on the track’s backstretch following the hurricane. “What upsets me is not one effort has been made by Camarero Racetrack to put roofs on the barns and get these 80 horses that have been in portable stalls for the past two months into better facilities and barns. Nothing has been done to fix the damaged barns.”

Stobie estimated that nearly 90 horses at Camarero have died due to problems related to the storm. She said some of the deaths came after the track re-opened for training and horses suffered from laminitis or colic because they were not in good enough physical condition to return to the track.

Tacher, while admitting more work needed to be done to repair the backstretch, painted a different picture of the effort undertaken by track management to give the horses suitable stabling.

“We fixed quite a few things,” Tacher said. “But we are depending on the insurance company because a lot of the claims have not been processed or approved with the adjusters and our engineers. That part of the claims process hasn’t been done. We still have fixed a lot of barns and put up temporary roofs. For the horses we have that are ready to race, they are in good barns. All that we have to do is definitely not complete yet. That’s going to take a couple more months but we can’t wait for that to be 100 percent before we start racing. That wouldn’t be the right thing to do. We need to get started as soon as possible.”

Stobie said one barn was in the process of being fully repaired and will have room for 38 horses, but said the efforts to fix that barn were undertaken not by the track but by Puerto Rico’s racing commission.

Tacher said there are currently about 800 horses stabled at Camerero, but only about 550 are ready to race. He said the others include yearlings and horses that are still dealing with injuries. He said that during normal times about 1,100 horses are stabled at the track.

“There will be three days of racing at the start, instead of five, and gradually we’ll get back to normal with five days a week,” Tacher said. “A lot of the horses left the track right after the storm. They went to a lot of different farms and a lot of them went to the U.S. So, inventory-wise we’re not back to 100%. We have to race according to what inventory we have.”

Even with the limited racing schedule, Tacher said he was delighted that the track would soon be up and running again.

“It feels fantastic to be back,” he said. “The racing in Puerto Rico needs this and there’s no better feeling that getting back to racing.”


$600K Raised to Help Victims of San Luis Rey Downs Fire

Wed, 2017-12-13 16:28

More than $600,000 currently has been raised via donations to the The Stronach Group/Santa Anita & Del Mar GoFundMe account through a world-wide outpouring to help the victims of last Thursday’s devastating Lilac Fire which destroyed eight barns at San Luis Rey Downs Training Center, claiming the lives of 46 Thoroughbreds and displacing hundreds of workers.

To address immediate needs, a working committee has been formed to oversee those funds and has announced that $250,000 will be distributed this week to those in critical need. The committee consists of Santa Anita/TSG’s Nate Newby (Vice President, Marketing), Del Mar’s David Jerkens (Racing Secretary), Madeline Auerbach (owner/breeder, California Horse Racing Board commissioner and founder of California Retirement Management Account), Alan Balch (Executive Director, California Thoroughbred Trainers) and Cliff Goodrich (Executive Director, California Horsemen’s Foundation).

“We have well over 200 stable workers that have been severely impacted by this fire, some have lost everything and all have been significantly affected by the fire,” said Newby. “The committee is allocating an immediate disbursement of $500 each for every one of these workers to help them with living expenses and immediate needs. Getting this much needed financial assistance to the grooms and other stable workers as quickly as possible is a top priority for all of us and this will ensure they’ll have the money within two days.”

Jerkens, who has been overseeing a massive relief effort in the Del Mar Stable Area, noted that 20 different trainers were stabled in those barns at San Luis Rey that were destroyed by Thursday’s fire. He pointed to a need for supplies–bridles, halters, saddles, bits, webbings, bandages, feed buckets, stall mats, hay nets and more.

“Financial assistance to these trainers will be based and allocated on the size of their stable so that we can help with immediate needs to care for their horses,” said Jerkens. “By assisting the trainers who lost everything, we not only ensure their horses are receiving everything they need, it also puts the grooms, hot walkers, exercise riders and other stable help back to work, which is crucial.”

At the direction of the TSG/Santa Anita and Del Mar GoFundMe committee, the CTHF will distribute the funds from the GoFundMe campaign directly to individuals in need. The CTHF is registered as a 501-c3 charitable organization, so those who contributed to the GoFundMe account will be eligible to claim their donation as a tax deduction. More information will be available at

This working committee will also be holding regular meetings until 100% of the money from the GoFundMe campaign has been distributed to those who need it most. The committee will provide regular updates and continue to solicit feedback from representatives from all aspects of the horse racing industry and beyond. The committe will also be coordinating with the other charitable efforts around the country that have raised money in support of those affected by the fires at San Luis Rey.

“On behalf of the committee, we’d like to sincerely thank everyone here in Southern California and around the world that have taken the time to contribute, whether it be monetarily, or otherwise. It’s been an incredibly uplifting experience to be a part of this comprehensive effort,” said Newby.

Barber Wins Donated Uncle Mo Season:

Coolmore and Mike Repole concluded bidding on a season to leading third-crop sire Uncle Mo donated to fire relief efforts late Wednesday, and Gary Barber landed the winning bid of $110,000. The contribution will go to the TCA and LNJ Foxwoods’ Horses First Fund.

Mike Levy, who conducted the bidding on behalf of Barber, said, “Gary Barber had a number of horses stabled at San Luis Rey and, remarkably, all of them emerged from the event safely. Mr. Barber felt compelled to participate and he praises the efforts of those who risked their lives to ensure the well-being of the horses. He also applauds the gesture of Coolmore and Mike Repole for donating the Uncle Mo season to relief efforts.”


‘Oops’ Partnership No Mistake

Wed, 2017-12-13 15:49

The first half of Saturday’s card at Gulfstream Park featured a number of talented 2-year-olds on display, including Diamond Oops (Lookin At Lucky), who notched his third victory from four starts in the six-furlong Buffalo Man S. While trainer Patrick Biancone said the win itself was gratifying, it was made more special by the fact his long-time friend and prominent owner Martin Schwartz joined him in a partnership on the colt back in July.

“After he won the [July 1 Kiss a Native S.], Martin Schwartz– like every owner–wanted a horse who might have a chance to go to the Derby,” Biancone said, speaking from South Florida Wednesday. “So he decided to buy a piece to be involved–he’s an old friend of mine. We’re very happy to be partners with him.”

Schwartz and Biancone paired to campaign the likes of Grade I winners Gorella (Fr) (Grape Tree Road {GB}) and Asi Siempre (El Prado {Ire}). More recently, they also teamed up as co-owners to send out Arkansas-bred Razorback Lady (Overdriven), a $54,000 OBS June 2-year-old purchase, to run second in the House Party S. on Saturday’s card. The partnership on Diamond Oops is unique, however, in that it also includes breeder Kin Hui of Diamond 100 Racing, as well as accomplished 2-year-old consignor Ciaran Dunne, who handled the colt prior to his time with Biancone.

“Ciaran Dunne told me the horse was special–and he was right,” Biancone said. “The horse immediately showed his best and we’re having fun with him. He has a chance to be a very good horse.”

After breaking his maiden by a half-length in his five-furlong debut at Gulfstream June 1, Diamond Oops added a convincing score as the prohibitive favorite in the 5 1/2-furlong Kiss a Native one month later. With Schwartz joining the partnership from there, the bay shipped north and reported home an unlucky sixth in the GII Saratoga Special S. Aug. 13. Although the disappointing result provided a sharp reality check for Biancone and company, the trainer said it can be chalked up to a young horse encountering unfamiliar stimuli for the first time.

“We were very hot on him when he got his first two races and we got a very cold shower when we brought him to Saratoga,” Biancone said with a laugh. “He stumbled out of the gate. Sometimes when you change certain things with young horses, and you ask them to travel and see the crowd in Saratoga, it gets them anxious…Fortunately he did not hurt himself. Sometimes they forget what we try to teach them.”

Biancone observed that Diamond Oops likely needed more time to grow into his sizable frame, and as such, the partners elected to give the colt a freshening and bring him back for a winter campaign at Gulfstream.

Biancone trained Diamond Oops’ dam, Patriotic Viva, as well as his damsire, Whywhywhy. The former was a stakes winner around two turns, while the latter captured the GI Futurity S. over a mile. According to Biancone, his experience with the family leads him to believe that a plan to gradually stretch out to longer distances makes sense.

“[Patriotic Viva] was more effective going short, but she did win a two-turn stakes going a mile,” Biancone recalled. “I had a choice to run [Diamond Oops] in a mile or going three-quarters [last weekend], and I decided to sprint because he was very fresh. He jumped the gate and was keen to go. We’ll go step by step and next time we’ll go to the [Feb. 3 GII] Swale S. going seven furlongs. We don’t want to overload him. With that family, the older they get, the better they are.”


Big Splash For Darley Japan At Foal Sales

Wed, 2017-12-13 09:33

Darley Japan was quietly busy at the foal sales this season, scooping up a total 17 colts in the middle to lower market at Keeneland, Goffs and Tattersalls. Sheikh Mohammed’s Japanese satellite signed for a colt by Animal Kingdom at Keeneland at the start of November, but the team was especially busy in Europe, signing for six at Goffs for a total of €270,000 and 10 at Tattersalls for 492,000gns.

Dr. Harry Sweeney, an Irishman but a Japanese resident of 30 years, is president of Darley Japan, and he said the European buying venture is intended to add some turf influences to Sheikh Mohammed’s Japanese stable. While slightly more than half of the Japan Racing Association’s races are dirt races, the country’s premier races are on turf, and the use of stallions like American Grade I winner Pyro (Pulpit)–a permanent Darley Japan resident and among the leading dirt sires in the country–and Street Sense and Hard Spun, who each spent a year in Japan, means the stable is currently more prominent in dirt races.

“We’d like to expand a little bit and get some more turf influences into our racing,” Sweeney said. “We’ve seen there’s opportunity here [in Europe]–going back to when I first went to Japan, which was 30 years ago, foreign-breds had become very popular to the stage that there were nearly 500 yearlings being imported each year. And then that declined very quickly. They were very successful, but with the arrival of Sunday Silence, Japanese owners kind of decided to buy Sunday Silence and not go abroad. The foreign horses were neglected somewhat and the numbers of foreign-bred yearlings coming into Japan went right down to under 100. It’s currently back up to about 100, so still very small numbers considering the scale of Japanese racing and the number of horses we have in training. We felt there was opportunity there, and we’re buying colts and buying turf horses.”

Sheikh Mohammed currently has about 175 horses in training in Japan, and the purchase of horses at public auction clearly represents a change in policy, as 49 of this season’s 50 individual winners for the stable are homebreds. Notably, just one of the 17 colts purchased this season cost six figures.

“This market over here [in Europe] is extremely fashion-driven,” Sweeney said. “First-season sires and new sires, that’s what all the pinhookers want. I try to not look at those but just buy nice horses outside that population. We consider them largely value for money. Horses in the range that we’re buying, even when we get them into Japan and we pay the costs and tariffs, we have a very reasonable chance that they will be profitable for us.”

Darley Japan is likely somewhat unique among the world’s major racing stables in that it operates at a profit. Its current earnings for 2017 stand at $18.5-million, and Sweeney said at year’s end, with all expenses paid, the net profit is expected to be $6-million. This, of course, is largely due to the country’s unprecedented purse structure that is fuelled by a young racing fan base that is highly enthusiastic about betting.

“It’s an amazing country in terms of the structure of prizemoney,” Sweeney said. “The JRA do an absolutely brilliant job. In Japan the total prizemoney fund between the Japan Racing Association and the NAR [National Association of Racing, the secondary tier of racing] is about $1.3-billion.”

By comparison, the U.S. paid out $1.08-billion in purses last year for more than double the number of races. In Britain, it was £89.7-million ($120.2-million) in 2015.

All that means that, despite the tariffs and costs associated with quarantining and traveling the foals to Darley Japan, they stand a reasonable chance of being profitable. There is currently a ¥3.4-million (about $30,000) tariff on all ‘racing prospects’ entering Japan, which also includes foals in utero. This, according to Sweeney, has historically been a barrier to Japan’s smaller stud farms upgrading their stock, but it is set to change from as early as next year.

“By the time it’s all said and done each one of those foals is going to cost us an additional $60,000 by the time they land in Japan,” Sweeney said. “That’s a thing that will change a little bit in the future, because of the trade agreement that has been agreed between Europe and Japan. It’s been agreed, but not formally ratified, but once it is the tariff will go immediately from all in-foal mares. People buying in-foal mares from Europe won’t have to pay the tariff on the unborn foal. The tariff on the yearlings will start to reduce incrementally over about 15 years. It’ll start to get cheaper, so I imagine you’ll probably see a little more interest in these sales from the Japanese going forward. Unfortunately at the moment in America, because the president has taken the country out the [Trans-Pacific Partnership], the tariff is going to remain on American bloodstock.”

While racing in Japan makes business sense, Sweeney said Sheikh Mohammed’s interest in the nation was fuelled after seeing the relatively recent improvement of the Japanese horses in the world’s best races, including those at the Dubai World Cup carnival.

“Sheikh Mohammed has enormous interest in Japan,” Sweeney said. “He has enormous respect for Japanese racing and has seen Japanese-trained horses run well at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Sheikh Mohammed is a true sportsman and he appreciates the high standard and competitive nature of Japanese racing.”

The aforementioned high purses in Japan are fuelled by the betting turnover from the highly enthusiastic Japanese fans, who are encouraged by a competitive product and an inherent love for the sport. Last year, $27.8-billion was wagered on JRA and NAR racing. It was $10.7-billion, again on more than double the races, in the U.S. last year.

“Japanese racing fans are truly enthusiastic about racing,” Sweeney said. “The Japanese calendar is designed in such a way that you find out who are the best racehorses. We only have 23 Group 1 races per year, and when you take juvenile races out of it or fillies races out of it, if you’re a 10-furlong colt there are limited races you can run in. It’s not like Europe where you can run in the UK or go to France and pick your spot. You can’t do that in Japan. If you’re that class you have to run. In some of these Group 1 races there is just incredible depth in quality. You can have 10 Group 1 winners lining up against each other.”

“In Japan, there is absolutely true progeny testing,”Sweeney added. “We’re sure at the end who the best racehorses are. We don’t have to guess or make assumptions. Japanese fans are truly interested in racing and they love being part of it. They love the whole drama of it. Betting turnover in Japan is enormous–there’s more gambled on Japanese horse racing than the U.S. and the UK combined. And while that’s the case, it’s not about making profit for a lot of them. I often cite the situation when Deep Impact was running. He was just an awesome racehorse, and when he was running in the Japanese St Leger, the betting turnover on him was so great that finally the odds returned zero. It was already assured on the boards that the odds were zero, so you put down $10 and you got $10 back. But people kept betting because they wanted to be a part of it. There’s an enormous fan base. People come to Hokkaido when the horses retire to stud, and normally we open our farm during the summer for an hour during the afternoons, and there isn’t an afternoon when 30 or 40 people don’t turn up.”

An Answer To Sunday Silence…

The JRHA foal sale has historically been the premier market for the Japanese to buy their racing prospects in their country, and Sweeney said there are numerous reasons the Darley Japan team has stuck with that model for their imports, rather than buying yearlings or 2-year-olds.

“I was reared, and the whole Japanese market was, on the foal market,” he said. “In Japan we now have a yearling market, but in the history of things far more very good horses came out of the foal sale than the yearling sale.”

“For us, there are a few logistical reasons for buying at the foal sales,” Sweeney continued. “We need to have these horses in Japan if we can by August of their yearling year. They’ll winter here in Europe, probably in Ireland, and then they’ll go to Japan. We need time for quarantine, and we need to have them on the farm by August. We’ll break them in Japan and because trainers in Japan only have 20 stalls, we need to get them [allocated] early on, otherwise we’ll go to them in September and say, ‘we’ve just bought these 20 nice horses, will you take one or two?’ And they may say, ‘we’d love to take them, but we’re actually full,’ because they only have 20 stalls.”

Sweeney said he thinks there is value to be found at the foal sales as well.

“We think the yearling markets over here are competitive and there are a lot of competing forces,” he said. “We’re competing with more end users there. Here we’re competing with some end users, but mostly traders and pinhookers and the like. There is some risk, we understand that, but there’s risk buying yearlings as well.”

Sheikh Mohammed’s satellites in other countries have historically been active at public auction–extensively in Europe and America–but this is new ground for Darley Japan.

“People kept saying, buying in the name of Darley Japan, that had never happened before,” Sweeney said. “Darley Japan, we’re the youngest of the Darley family. So it’s a bit like being the youngest of four sons. We have the U.S. and of course Europe and Australia who are older and bigger. Darley Japan is starting to come of age. Up to now our older brothers looked after us, but now we’re starting to assert ourselves a little bit. We’re starting to go out on our own, at night time.”

The foals bought over the last few weeks aren’t the only horses Darley Japan will be importing: the farm purchased this year’s GI Maker’s 46 Mile winner American Patriot and will stand the son of War Front beginning next year. He will be one of two sons of War Front standing their first seasons in Japan, with the JBBA having leased The Factor for one season. Sweeney said American Patriot has two distinct qualities that are important to Japanese breeders: he is a fast turf miler and is free of Sunday Silence blood.

“War Front is a very well proven turf sire; we particularly like that,” he said. “American Patriot himself is a Grade I winner on turf. That’s generally what we need in Japan; good, fast turf milers to 10 furlong horses. We can take a mile and a half horse as well, but it needs to be a fast mile and a half horse. He’s popular, and he’s free of Sunday Silence blood. There’s a huge concentration of Sunday Silence genes in the whole population in Japan. If you have Sunday Silence mares there are limited opportunities there. That’s another reason why we’re buying foals over here, because they’re all free of Sunday Silence influence. If one them was to strike big, the fact that they’re free of Sunday Silence makes them far more valuable to us than having a Japanese-bred horse who is from the Sunday Silence line.”

The level of prizemoney in Japan means that any racehorse owner in the world would want to compete there, but the government–which operates the JRA–keeps it heavily guarded, with all prospective owners required to go through a rigorous application process. Sweeney said obtaining a JRA license is essentially as difficult as it was 30 years ago, the main difference being that applicants are no longer required to be a Japanese citizen or permanent resident; they must, however, appoint a Japanese-speaking representative.

“The rules are largely the same for foreigners now as they are for Japanese,” he said. “The JRA are very thorough in their investigations. They ask a lot of questions. The questionnaire you have to fill out is very detailed. There’s one question that always amuses me: ‘any outstanding student loans?’ I find it amazing that someone who might be applying for an owner’s license to race horses in Japan might have an outstanding student loan.”

“The JRA do a great job to keep Japanese racing clean, and they want to keep out any bad influences from racing,” he added. “The application process takes time. It is very thorough and maybe a little bit invasive. It’s more onerous than getting a racing license anywhere else in the world but it’s the same requirements for Japanese as for foreigners, except they do require you appoint someone who is a Japanese speaker in Japan to help out with any issues with language.”

Breaking Down Barriers…

Sweeney himself has certainly been a pioneer of the Japanese Thoroughbred industry. He had to break down a few significant barriers–including becoming the first foreigner to gain a JRA license and membership with the Hokkaido Breeders Association, as well as the country’s first foreign agricultural land owner–to start his Paca Paca Farm, which is located a few miles from Darley Japan in the popular Hidaka breeding region of Hokkaido. The significant hurdles have proven worthwhile, with Paca Paca having produced the likes of G1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner Deep Brillante (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), G1 NHK Mile winner Pink Cameo (Jpn) (French Deputy) and champion 2-year-old Ampere (Jpn) (Wild Rush).

“We’re lucky to own the most beautiful, spectacular farm,” Sweeney said. “Whenever I go to Tokyo and I meet people at different events there, they always ask, ‘what space are you in, what are you doing?’ I say, ‘farmer.’ They always think I’m referring to pharmaceuticals, like ‘pharma.’ Whenever they hear I’m truly a farmer, owning land, they’re always like, ‘wow, that’s amazing.’ I love where we’re based. Every day I wake up and walk around my farm and I think ‘wow, I’m really lucky to own this.’ Japan is a fantastic country and has a fantastic racing structure, just amazing.”

Sweeney’s latest project has been starting a racing club, which got off the ground this year after about four years of paperwork. Membership in a racing club is popular in Japan, as it provides an avenue to racehorse ownership without the headache of obtaining a JRA license, and any one individual–local or foreigner–is permitted to own up to 49% of any horse in the club. Large-scale racing club Carrot Club races this year’s Tokyo Yushun winner and recent G1 Japan Cup second Rey de Oro (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn}), and another club,, burst onto the international scene this year after buying Gentildonna (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn})’s full-sister at the JRHA foal sale, and a Frankel (GB) filly for 1.4-million gns at Book 1 of Tattersalls October.

“Racing partnerships in Japan, or clubs as we like to call them, are very difficult to get,” Sweeney said. “In Japan there have only been 23 racing clubs ever ratified in the history of JRA racing. It’s extremely well policed and supervised but once you get the license it’s open to anybody.”

With world-class regulatory and prizemoney structures in place and an enthusiastic fan base to match, and barriers to horse importation and ownership slowly being eased, the future appears bright for racing in Japan, and Darley Japan looks poised to be a big part of that success.

Japan Road to the KY Derby Continues on Wednesday

Tue, 2017-12-12 17:11

Kawasaki Racecourse hosts the one-mile Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun on Wednesday, which is part of the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and is considered to be Japan’s premier race for Juveniles. A field of 14 2-year-olds lines up, among them G1 Racing Co. Ltd’s unbeaten Le Vent Se Leve (Jpn) (Symboli Kris S), who will be running to obtain enough points for a GI Kentucky Derby berth on the first Saturday in May. The Kiyoshi Hagiwara trainee saluted by seven lengths on debut going 1 1/8 miles at Niigata in August and followed up with a win in the Platanus Sho at Tokyo on Oct. 14 going a mile in 1:36.20, a juvenile track record.

The Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun is the second race on the Japan Road to the Derby, following the Cattleya Sho three weeks prior which saw Takashi Muraki’s Ruggero (Jpn) (Kinshasa no Kiseki {Aus}) finish a half-length to the good of Mic Ben Hur (Jpn) (Smart Boy {Jpn}) for Kiratto One Co. Ltd. Meiner Yukitsubaki (Jpn) (I’ll Have Another) was third, while Bronze Kay (Jpn) (Lohengrin {Jpn}) ran fourth. Just like the Cattleya Sho, the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun is worth 10-4-2-1 points for the top four finishers. The third leg is the Feb. 18 Hyacinth S., worth 30-12-6-3 to the first four past the post. Only one invitation will be extended to the KY Derby, with a preference given to the horses with the most points in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby series. No invitation will be extended beyond the top four point earners. If there is a tie, lifetime earnings will be the tiebreaker.

Overflow of Donations Leaves Workers Well Cared For

Tue, 2017-12-12 16:57

With an excess of donated material items for displaced backstretch workers sent to Santa Anita in the wake of last Thursday’s Lilac Fire, the track will no longer be accepting shipments arriving from across the country, it was announced late Monday. 200 CHRB licensed stable workers are temporarily housed in 160 rooms on the Del Mar backstretch, and Santa Anita had been functioning as an off-site staging area for donations. While material donations are no longer needed, the official GoFundMe page for the relief effort remains open for monetary donations to help with long-term relief for the affected workers, with over $615,000 contributed through Tuesday afternoon.

In one of the most high-profile relief efforts, Coolmore and Mike Repole’s auction of a no guarantee season to leading third-crop sire Uncle Mo proved to attract a who’s who of industry bidders. With the likes of Tom Van Meter, Tom Ryan, Ken Donworth, Joseph Allen, and Gary Barber competing for the high bid, the donation to the TCA and LNJ Foxwood’s Horses First Fund had reached $95,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.


Remembrances: Lisa Underwood Young, 57

Tue, 2017-12-12 16:45

Lisa Underwood Young, who served as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from 2006 until 2011, passed away at her home Dec. 9 of a heart attack, Blood-Horse reported. She was 57.

During her tenure at the KHRC, Underwood Young spearheaded a number of initiatives, including tougher testing and penalties for medication violations; the hiring of the KHRC’s first equine medical director and supervisor of parimutuel racing; and the introduction of historical racing machines.

“She was an amazing lady,” current KHRC Executive Director Mark Guilfoil told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “What she accomplished in five years; she wasn’t scared to tackle anything… She upped the game in everything we had. She hired the first supervisor of parimutuel wagering we ever had, even though the rule had been on the books forever. She was a very sharp lady and a good person… She did the right thing, constantly, no matter how unpopular it was.”

Underwood Young was a partner in the Lexington office of the law firm Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs, where she headed the firm’s Data Privacy & Security team and specialized in equine and gaming law. She is survived by her husband Richard Young; her father, former mayor pro tem Tom Underwood; and her brother Trip Underwood.

A funeral will be held Thursday, Dec. 14 at 11:00 a.m. at Christ Church Cathedral with interment following at the Lexington Cemetery. Visitation will take place at the church Dec. 14 from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Old Friends Farm or the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.