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Updated: 17 hours 37 min ago

Early Voting Gives Gun Runner First Classic Winner in Preakness

Sat, 2022-05-21 19:33

The story is a familiar one. Seth Klarman, Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz teaming up for a win with a lightly-raced colt in the second jewel of the Triple Crown. In 2016, the duo entered the Classic with a fresh horse, and played the spoiler when Cloud Computing (Maclean's Music) upended Classic Empire to take the GI Preakness S. Fast forward to 2022, history repeated itself with the same connections snagging Pimlico's marquee race with Early Voting (Gun Runner). The colt's victory also provided a well-deserved birthday gift for his owner, who grew up three blocks from Pimlico.

“I just wanted to say how happy I am to deliver a Classic victory to one of my best friends, Seth Klarman, on his birthday,” said Brown. “It's really memorable for me.”

Klarman was also cognizant, and appreciative, of the forces propelling him back into the winner's circle on Preakness day.

“Cloud Computing was a once in a lifetime horse and now I have it twice in a lifetime which is really hard to believe it could happen again,” he said. “Only with Chad.”

Armagnac (Quality Road), a front-running winner in his most recent start at Santa Anita, didn't alter the script and went straight to the front as Ortiz opted to ease Early Voting back to second, rather than contending for supremacy, about two lengths behind. Meanwhile, favored Epicenter (Not This Time) broke cleanly but was soon pinched back by the converging duo of Happy Jack (Oxbow) and Skippylongstocking (Exaggerator), costing the favorite valuable ground. Also encountering issues early, Secret Oath (Arrogate) was also affected by the errant Happy Jack, forcing her to take up position at the back of the field going into the first turn. With the frontrunner gifted a soft :24.32 opening quarter, Ortiz opted to keep the 5-1 chance in close contact as they carved out a slightly faster half in :47.44. A motionless Ortiz, who peeked under his shoulder to see who might be coming along, finally nudging the colt into action, taking over from the fading leader turning for home. In control from there, the colt had plenty left in the tank despite drifting outward, and while Epicenter mounted a gallant run up along the inside late, he was unable to get closer than 1 1/4 lengths to the winner at the wire. Creative Minister (Creative Cause), who was supplemented to the race for $150,000, closed to be 2 1/4 lengths back in third. The filly, sent off at 5-1 facing the boys, crossed the wire in fourth.

It was the second win on the afternoon for triumvirate after Technical Analysis (Ire) (Kingman {GB}) won the GIII Gallorette S.

“Yeah, he is a very good horse out of the gate,” explained Ortiz. “He always has been. He broke well, and that was the main thing. Break good and go forward. We knew that Armagnac had speed, and he never has passed a horse on his right, and we knew he was probably going to go into the lead, and he did, but we were ready for it. We executed the plan perfectly.”

“On the back side, it just felt like we had been drilling in the morning. We had been working him just next to a horse, and he was very relaxed. I was very confident passing the 5/8 pole. I knew I was in a good spot. I took a peek back. Nobody was there. I knew my horse was ready.

He added, “I had the trip I wanted. We planned it out, we executed it with perfection, and we came out top.”

Recipe for Success
In front for most of the way, Early Voting came home a 1 1/2-length winner in his Dec. 18 debut before returning to the South Ozone Park oval with a front-running score in the GIII Withers S. going nine furlongs in the mud Feb. 5. Well supported for the Apr. 9 GII Wood Memorial, the bay had to settle for second behind Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo), who got up in the nick of time to catch him at the wire.

“When we've been working the horse We give him a target, and he rates nice. He catches them and finishes them off well,” said Brown, explaining the colt's latest defeat. “I was convinced in the Wood that he was waiting on horses which is why he got beat. He got beat by a good horse, don't get me wrong, with a good trip, but when you are doing this long enough, you can tell a tired horse from a horse that's waiting on horses. And I can see it in his work sometimes as well.”

Explaining the decision to bypass the Kentucky Derby with both of his Preakness winners, Brown explained, “With both horses it's important to know that they were coming out of the Wood, so [we gave] them time. But they're lightly-raced horses. It's not like a horse that we gave time out of the Wood that also had three starts at two and it's their sixth or seventh [lifetime] start. This a lightly-raced horse. In both cases, the Wood was only their third start.”

He continued, “So when you start participating in the Kentucky Derby enough now, you realize what a tough race it is with 20 horses. As the trainer, you have to deal with the aftermath when it doesn't work out. And sometimes, it's not pretty. Those horses need time physically or mentally, and it can really cost a good part of your 3-year-old year if you swing and miss. You could ship all the way over there or draw terrible weather. You name it..I haven't won the [Derby], but we've had a couple of close calls, and I'm a student of it. I feel like you have to have a horse with some experience, and you have to be prepared for a bad post or a bump here or there or a wet track or something.

This horse just didn't have the experience. He is out there on loose leads. He didn't have dirt in his face really. A nice horse, but to throw him in a 20-horse field would not have worked out well for him, I don't believe. It really wasn't that hard of a decision.”

Looking down the road, Brown hopes to have the colt ready to add another Classic later this summer, this time in his neck of the woods.

“[We'll aim for] a race like the [GI] Travers S. [at Saratoga],” said Brown. “I know it's a tick farther, but I don't believe he will have any trouble getting the mile and a quarter. Growing up just 20 minutes from Saratoga, Baltimore native, that was his race today, the Travers would be for me, so that would be really at the top of the list. But there will be some racing before that. We'll get him back to Belmont, assess him, train him a bit, and then start to map out a campaign that, hopefully, leads us to the Midsummer Derby.”

New York, New York
While repeating a Preakness victory for his connections, Early Voting also mirrored the feat accomplished by Cloud Computing in the 2016 renewal of the Classic race. And both colts employed a similar road to victory. While Early Voting took his first two starts, including his initial graded appearance in the Withers, Cloud Computing won his Big A debut, but was runner-up in that season's GIII Gotham S. before finishing third in the Wood. However, despite the subtle differences, both colts sought a Preakness win through the Empire State.

“Cloud Computing was another horse that wintered up [in New York],” he said. “Not only did both of them run in the Wood, but they didn't even go to Florida. It can be done, and I think it just depends on the horse and always just being aware of your environment where you are training these horses, and New York is a good environment.”

Underscoring why remaining in New York over the winter was the right move for his colt, Brown was pragmatic.

“He stayed in New York because he is that kind of make-up,” he said. “He was lightly raced. I didn't want to interrupt his schedule. Sometimes you ship horses down to Florida that are just getting started, and then you have to adjust to ironically the humidity and heat and such when he is just getting going. The weather looked good, so I left him there.”

No 'I' in Team
The relationship between Ortiz and Brown goes far back, and is laden with victory. However, according to Brown, it is the work ethic between professionals that makes the partnership special.

“He rode Zandon [Upstart] in New Orleans [third in the GII Risen Star S. at the Fair Grounds Feb. 19], and he had ridden Early Voting, in the Withers. [They were both scheduled to run on the same day in the [GI Toyota] Blue Grass [S.] and the Wood Memorial [both Apr. 9], I just chose he is going to go ride Early Voting, and I made a change on Zandon [to Flavien Prat]. So I called him to tell him, and he never complained about it. He said, 'Boss, I'll go where you tell me to go.' That's it. He was happy to ride Early Voting. It's hard to be taken off Zandon when they're on the same day because we knew that horse was probably going to go win the Blue Grass and go to the [Kentucky] Derby as one of the favorites. That's how he is. He said, 'I'll go where you tell me to go.'”

Brown continued, “He didn't win the Wood, but it was our feeling that's his horse. He went there for us that day, and I felt that's going to remain his horse. It was never even a thought after the horse got beat to make a change. He went up there and rode him for us, and he rode him brilliantly. Talk about being a team player.”

“I saw the relationship developing with those two. I wasn't sure he was a Derby horse, but I was sure he was a good horse and a Grade I horse. I just know that's a partnership that I want to continue growing, developing that horse, and then I could figure out where I am with Zandon. That's really what it came down to.”

Pedigree Notes:
Gun Runner, the runaway leading first-crop sire based at Three Chimneys, continued the same trend in 2022, leading his U.S.-based contemporaries in worldwide earnings. With Early Voting's Classic win at Pimlico Saturday, the colt became the fifth Grade I winner for the Three Chimneys stallion.
His unraced dam–a $1.75-million KEESEP yearling in 2013–is a full-sister to 2017 GII Blue Grass S. winner and MGISP Irap (Tiznow), as well as a half-sister to champion and leading sire Speightstown (Gone West). They all stem from Canadian champion Silken Cat, tracing back to 1950 Broodmare of the Year Hildene (Bubbling Over), Silken Cat's fifth dam. Amour d'Ete has a 2-year-old full-sister to Early Voting, a yearling filly by Constitution, and was bred back to Volatile. Amour d'Ete's pensioned sire, Tiznow, is the broodmare sire of 52 black-type winners, including 2020 Classic winner Tiz the Law (Constitution).


Saturday, Pimlico
PREAKNESS S.-GI, $1,650,000, Pimlico, 5-21, 3yo, 1 3/16m, 1:54.54, ft.
1–EARLY VOTING, 126, c, 3, by Gun Runner
               1st Dam: Amour d'Ete, by Tiznow
               2nd Dam: Silken Cat, by Storm Cat
               3rd Dam: Silken Doll, by Chieftain
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($200,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-Klaravich
Stables, Inc.; B-Three Chimneys Farm, LLC (KY); T-Chad C.
Brown; J-Jose L. Ortiz. $990,000. Lifetime Record: 4-3-1-0,
$1,311,500. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Epicenter, 126, c, 3, Not This Time–Silent Candy, by Candy
Ride (Arg). ($260,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-Winchell
Thoroughbreds LLC; B-Westwind Farms (KY); T-Steven M.
Asmussen. $330,000.
3–Creative Minister, 126, c, 3, Creative Cause–Tamboz, by
BLACK TYPE. ($180,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-Fern Circle
Stables, Back Racing, LLC and Magdalena Racing; B-Dell
Ridge Farm, LLC (KY); T-Kenneth G. McPeek. $181,500.
Margins: 1 1/4, 2 1/4, 2 3/4. Odds: 5.70, 1.20, 10.00.
Also Ran: Secret Oath, Skippylongstocking, Simplification, Armagnac, Happy Jack, Fenwick.
Click for the chart, the PPs, or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

The post Early Voting Gives Gun Runner First Classic Winner in Preakness appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Derby Scratch Ethereal Road Romps in Sir Barton

Sat, 2022-05-21 18:21

Ethereal Road (Quality Road) will always be remembered as the horse removed from the 2022 GI Kentucky Derby at the last moment of scratch time, paving the way for an 80-1 longshot to upset America's biggest race. However, on GI Preakness S. Day, he signified he might have something else to say about the 3-year-old picture this year. With stablemate Secret Oath (Arrogate) Preakness-bound after her GI Kentucky Oaks win, Ethereal Road was routed to the undercard Sir Barton S. at Pimlico and looked like a world-beater as he dodged traffic to win going away by 4 3/4 lengths.

Breaking from the rail as the 3-2 choice, Ethereal Road wasn't quick out of the gate and settled comfortably near the back. With just one horse beaten at both the :23.70 first quarter and :47.26 half, he tipped out five wide on the turn to circle horses, quickly took command, and surged to the lead with obvious confidence to post a facile daylight win.

“That's what we expected,” said legendary winning trainer and Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. “That's his style. It was a picture-perfect ride from Luis [Saez]. We probably should have left him in the Derby, but that's hindsight. He got a good trip. The fractions are realistic. We can definitely build off this.”

Ethereal Road broke his maiden in January at Oaklawn in his fourth career try, then jumped into the deep end and responded with a runner-up finish to Un Ojo (Laoban) in the GII Rebel S. in February. The Sir Barton was his first start following off-the-board finishes in the GI Toyota Blue Grass S. and the GIII Stonestreet Lexington S., both at Keeneland in April. Saturday was Saez's first time on the colt in the afternoon. Saez had won the Oaks in his first time aboard Secret Oath and retained that mount for the Preakness.

“He ran pretty nice,” said Saez. “The pace was perfect for him. It's the style he likes to run–break and make one move. He finished really strong.”

Ethereal Road's dam, Sustained, was second in the 2012 GIII Miss Grillo S. for Paul Pompa, Jr., who bred Ethereal Road and sold him for $90,000 at Keeneland September a month before he passed away in 2020. Sustained was sold at the 2021 Keeneland January sale for $320,000 to Determined Stud while in foal to Connect, whom Pompa also campaigned. The mare produced colts by that Pompa-raced stallion in both 2020 and 2021.

1–ETHEREAL ROAD, 118, c, 3, by Quality Road
               1st Dam: Sustained (GSP, $184,629), by War Front
               2nd Dam: Sweetstorm Amy, by Lemon Drop Kid
               3rd Dam: Hurricane Amy, by Storm Cat
($90,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). 1ST BLACK TYPE WIN. O-Aaron
Sones; B-Paul Pompa (KY); T-D. Wayne Lukas; J-Luis Saez.
$60,000. Lifetime Record: GSP, 8-2-1-1, $354,545. *1/2 to
Turned Aside (American Pharoah), GSW-USA, GSP-Can,
2–B Dawk, 118, c, 3, Gormley–Mott N Hester, by Super
Saver. ($77,000 Ylg '20 KEEJAN; $140,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP;
$425,000 2yo '21 EASMAY; $500,000 RNA 3yo '22 KEEAPR).
1ST BLACK TYPE. O-West Point Thoroughbreds & Joseph
E. Besecker; B-Small Batch Thoroughbreds & Robert Fetkin
(KY); T-Doug F. O'Neill. $20,000.
3–Mr Jefferson, 118, c, 3, Constitution–Clockstrucktwelve, by
Malibu Moon. O/B-R. Larry Johnson (MD); T-Michael J.
Trombetta. $10,000.
Margins: 4 3/4, 2 1/4, HF. Odds: 1.50, 3.50, 6.10.
Also Ran: Ruggs, Good Skate, Unikee, Goldenize, Writeitontheice. Scratched: Brooklyn Diamonds, The Addison Pour.
Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

The post Derby Scratch Ethereal Road Romps in Sir Barton appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Honor Code Juvenile Romps at Woodbine

Sat, 2022-05-21 14:34

2nd-Woodbine, C$107,630, Msw, 5-21, 2yo, 4 1/2f (AWT), :51.58, ft, 5 1/2 lengths.
STAYHONOR GOODSIDE (c, 2, Honor Code–Nicki Knew {SW, $386,114}, by Tethra) was favored at 6-5 in this debut and made it look like a gift with a dominant debut score at Woodbine Saturday. Away alertly, the $85,000 KEESEP buy contested the early pace and slammed the door on his rivals in the lane to win for fun by 5 1/2 lengths over Captive Silence (Silent Name {Jpn}). The winner is a half to Imperial Dream (Stormy Atlantic), SW, $156,137 and is the first winner for his dam since that one, Nicki Knew only producing two surviving foals in the eight years between them. There was no report in 2021 but Stayhonor Goodside has a 2022 half-sister by Caravaggio. This is the family of millionaire and MG1SW Hawk Wing (Woodman), GSW turned group-stakes producer Race for the Stars (Fusaichi Pegasus), and Canadian Horse of the Year & Champion grass horse Thornfield (Sky Classic). The colt's name came about by way of a contest on the TDN Writers' Room podcast, when D.J. Stable General Manager Jon Green challenged listeners to come up with a clever name based on the colt's breeding as part of a promotion sponsored by Lane's End Farm. The winning entry was submitted by Skip Anderson, a champion Hampshire sheep breeder from North Dakota. Sales history: $85,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $48,142. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.
O-D. J. Stable LLC; B-Stan Dodson (ON); T-Mark E. Casse.

The post Honor Code Juvenile Romps at Woodbine appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Rich Strike Back To Work at Churchill

Sat, 2022-05-21 13:05

Roughly 12 hours before his peers were set to take to the Pimlico main track for the GI Preakness S., RED-TR Racing's GI Kentucky Derby upsetter Rich Strike (Keen Ice) returned to the worktab, breezing a half-mile in a strong :47.20. With rider Gabe Lagunes in the irons, the chestnut broke off aggressively with an opening quarter-mile in :22.80 and he galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.60.

Immediately following his stunning 80-1 upset beneath the Twin Spires, connections fully intended on pressing on to the Preakness, but it was announced May 12 that the colt would bypass the second jewel of the Triple Crown and would be trained up to the GI Belmont S. June 11.

“Skipping the Preakness was still one of the toughest decisions I had to make as a trainer,” said trainer Eric Reed, who stood alongside owner Rick Dawson for the work. “I just don't think he would've been mentally ready to run against those horses again.”

Reed indicated that Rich Strike would head to New York as soon as next week, but has elected to keep the colt in Barn 17 on the Churchill backstretch until May 31. Tentative plans call for Rich Strike to breeze again Monday, May 30.

“He does so well here I just didn't want to change anything yet,” Reed said. “He'll get eight or nine days at Belmont to gallop and get used to the surface.”


Rich Strike breezes 4 furlongs in :47.20 on Preakness Day in preparation for the @BelmontStakes!

— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 21, 2022

The post Rich Strike Back To Work at Churchill appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

‘Interstate’ On Top in Black-Eyed Susan

Fri, 2022-05-20 18:11

Heading into Friday's GII George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan, much of the attention centered around GIII Las Virgenes S. winner Adare Manor (Uncle Mo). However, when the dust had settled, it was Flurry Racing Stables' Interstatedaydream (Classic Empire) who had scampered away to victory, heading a 1-2 finish for Coolmore stallions.

Sent off at 6-1, Interstatedaydream shadowed 11-1 chance Beguine (Gun Runner) through :23.34 and :46.65 splits as favored Adare Manor, the sole graded winner in the bunch, tracked in third. Inching closer to her front-running rival before drawing even turning for home, the Brad Cox trainee took over, and, despite drifting slightly outward in the lane, kept up the tempo late to post a 1 1/4-length score over Adare Manor. Radio Days (Gun Runner) closed to be third.

“There was no game plan,” admitted jockey Florent Geroux. “I thought there would be a couple of fillies, especially on the inside, who would have gone. I was really expecting Adare Manor to be a little bit forwardly placed. But when Johnny [Velazquez] was content to sit right off me, I just took advantage of it. I was not going to pull too hard on my filly just to let him pass. I thought my filly was great where she was.”

The victory was the second graded stakes win on the afternoon for jockey Florent Geroux, who also took the GIII Allaire Dupont Distaff S. with the Norm Casse-trained Super Quick (Super Saver) earlier on the card.

A first out winner at Belmont last June, the Ontario-bred only made one more start in 2021, and that was a runner-up finish behind Wicked Halo (Gun Runner) in the GII Adirondack S. at Saratoga in August. Blowing the doors off with a sparkling 8 1/4-length victory in an Oaklawn optional claimer Mar. 13, she finished a distant third last time behind subsequent Kentucky Oaks runner-up Nest (Curlin) in the Apr. 8 GI  Central Bank Ashland S. at Keeneland.

“She just wasn't ready for it,” said Cox when asked about the decision to bypass the Kentucky Oaks two weeks ago. “It would have been back a little too quick, throwing too much at her too quick. I thought it made the most sense [to wait for the Black-Eyed Susan].”

Pedigree Notes:
A member of the first crop of juvenile champion Classic Empire, the Black-Eyed Susan winner becomes the sixth black-type and second graded stakes winner for the Coolmore stallion. Bred by William Graham in Ontario, Canada, Interstatedaydream is out of the unraced Uncle Mo mare Babcock, also responsible for MSP Emmeline (Violence). The filly's pedigree represents a very productive Canadian family, including grand dam Captivating (Arch), who produced Canadian Horse of the Year and champion 2-year-old Uncaptured (Lion Heart), in addition to MSW Dancing Raven (Tomahawk). The extended family also includes the Classic-winning MGISW Curalina (Curlin).

Friday, Pimlico
GEORGE E. MITCHELL BLACK-EYED SUSAN S.-GII, $250,000, Pimlico, 5-20, 3yo, f, 1 1/8m, 1:48.73, ft.
1–INTERSTATEDAYDREAM, 118, f, 3, by Classic Empire
                1st Dam: Babcock, by Uncle Mo
                2nd Dam: Captivating, by Arch
                3rd Dam: Andrea Ruckus, by Bold Ruckus
Ylg '20 KEEJAN; $130,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP; $175,000 2yo '21
OBSAPR). O-Flurry Racing Stables LLC; B-William D. Graham
(ON); T-Brad H. Cox; J-Florent Geroux. $150,000. Lifetime
Record: 5-3-1-1, $351,225. *1/2 to Emmeline (Violence), MSP,
$243,529. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Werk Nick Rating: A++.
2–Adare Manor, 122, f, 3, Uncle Mo–Brooklynsway, by Giant
Gizmo. ($180,000 Ylg '20 FTKFEB; $190,000 RNA Ylg '20
FTKSEL; $375,000 2yo '21 OBSOPN). O-Michael Lund Petersen;
B-Town & Country Horse Farms, LLC & Gary Broad (KY); T-Sean
McCarthy. $50,000.
3–Radio Days, 118, f, 3, Gun Runner–Remembered, by Sky
Mesa. ($750,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-Joseph Allen LLC; B-Hinkle
Farms (KY); T-Claude R. McGaughey III. $25,000.
Margins: 1 1/4, 1, 2 3/4. Odds: 6.10, 2.10, 15.80.
Also Ran: Divine Huntress, Favor, Morning Matcha, Miss Yearwood, Distinctlypossible, Midnight Stroll, Candy Light, Luna Belle, Beguine, Missy Greer.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

The post ‘Interstate’ On Top in Black-Eyed Susan appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

First Captain Turns In ‘Special’ Performance at Pimlico

Fri, 2022-05-20 17:39

'TDN Rising Star' First Captain (Curlin) looked to have it all to do with a quarter-mile to go in Friday's GIII Pimlico Special S., but he called on his class in the final 50 yards to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Adding blinkers for the first time off a disappointing seventh in the GI Carter H. Apr. 9, the $1.5-million joint-topper at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale was off alertly and settled in fifth position passing under the wire for the first time as recent Excelsior S. runner-up Untreated (Nyquist) led them along through a leisurely opening couple of furlongs in :24.99. Traveling comfortably enough down the backstretch, First Captain raced worse than midfield and was four off the inside and in the clear as the field entered the final half-mile, the pace still very much working against the back markers on a track that seemed to be carrying speed. The chestnut came under a Luis Saez ride with about three furlongs to run and looked to be one-paced at the top of the stretch, as Untreated was still enjoying a soft time of things up front. But, pulled out to the middle of the track, First Captain took aim on favored Vindictive (Uncle Mo)–who'd wrested command from his stablemate Untreated deep inside the final furlong–and fought on bravely to score by a short neck.

An impressive debut winner over seven furlongs last April, First Captain showed determination and poise well beyond his relative inexperience to add a first-level Belmont allowance en route to 'Rising Star' honors the following month. The chestnut made the GIII Dwyer S. his third win from as many appearances July 5, but he stubbed his toe when trying two turns for the first time in the restricted Curlin S. July 30 and was shelved. First Captain made a victorious comeback to the races in a seven-furlong test at Gulfstream Feb. 27, but was always outpaced in the Carter, finishing well down the field.

“I debated on the blinkers last year after the Curlin, but we didn't get that far,” said Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. “We trained him in them here [at Belmont Park] and we liked what we saw. I saw him gallop here the other morning before he shipped and my thought was, 'If he runs the way he gallops, he's going to be pretty tough.' Obviously, he did.

McGaughey continued, “He had trained well. The Carter was a puzzler. All his other races were good; he's won five out of seven now with a third in a listed stakes. We were anxious to get him around two turns.”

Pedigree Notes:

Bobby Flay, who was also represented Friday by Hilltop S. winner Pizza Bianca (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), gained access to First Captain's booming female family when acquiring second dam Lacadena privately after she was led out unsold on a bid of $1.4 million at the 2007 Fasig-Tipton November Sale.

The fact that Lacadena, stakes-placed at two for Jim and Alice Sapara, would prove to be so coveted, was no surprise, particularly in the aftermath of the 2007 racing season. The mare's dam, Butterfly Blue, was a half-sister to Better Than Honour (Deputy Minister), whose daughter Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy), defeated First Captain's sire in a stirring renewal of the GI Belmont S., giving an unusually demonstrative trainer Todd Pletcher a first Classic success.

For her second covering, and to no one's surprise, Flay sent Lacadena to A.P. Indy and the mare foaled a filly in March 2011. The celebrity chef elected to retain that produce when bidding stalled out on her at $725,000 at Keeneland September in 2012, and the decision proved shrewd, as America would go on to win five times from 22 starts, including the GIII Turnback the Alarm H., and was third in the GI Delaware H. before retiring to Flay's boutique broodmare band in 2016.

Flay elected to send America to Curlin for her first date in the breeding shed and he must have been pleased with the result, as she returned to the Hill 'n' Dale star for the 2018 breeding season. She foaled a filly in January 2019, eight months before First Captain took his spot in the Humphrey S. Finney Sales Pavilion at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga, where he and a Curlin colt out of Wapi (Chi) (Scat Daddy) shared top honors when hammering for $1.5 million.

The family was given yet another advertisement in the summer of 2020, when Paris Lights (Curlin), a daughter of America's half-sister Paris Bikini (Bernardini), took out the GI Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga. Flay sold Lacadena to Heider Family Stables in foal to Bernardini for $1.3 million at Keeneland November in 2015, while Paris Bikini was hammered down to Katsumi Yoshida for $1.95 million in foal to Uncle Mo at Fasig-Tipton November in 2020.

America visited Uncle Mo in the winter of 2019 and was offered by Flay at that year's Fasig-Tipton November Sale. She was ultimately retained on a bid of $3.1 million. The resulting produce, a colt, was a $550,000 RNA at Keeneland September last fall, while America is responsible for a yearling full-sister to First Captain and a colt by Uncle Mo foaled Mar. 19. She was bred to Curlin again this season.

Friday, Pimlico
PIMLICO SPECIAL S.-GIII, $300,000, Pimlico, 5-20, 3yo/up, 1 3/16m, 1:56.24, ft.
1–FIRST CAPTAIN, 120, c, 4, by Curlin
1st Dam: America (GSW & MGISP, $580,532), by A.P. Indy
2nd Dam: Lacadena, by Fasliyev
3rd Dam: Butterfly Blue (Ire), by Sadler's Wells
'TDN Rising Star' ($1,500,000 Ylg '19 FTSAUG). O-West Point  Thoroughbreds, Siena Farm LLC, Bobby Flay & Woodford Racing LLC; B-B Flay Thoroughbreds (KY); T-Claude R McGaughey III; J-Luis Saez. $180,000. Lifetime Record: 7-5-0-1, $470,100. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*.
2–Vindictive, 120, c, 4, Uncle Mo–Exotic Bloom, by Montbrook.  1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($200,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP).  O-Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stable, LLC & LNJ Foxwoods;  B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY); T-Todd A  Pletcher. $60,000.
3–Untreated, 120, c, 4, Nyquist–Fully Living, by Unbridled's  Song. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($550,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP;  $300,000 3yo '21 KEEJAN). O-Team Valor International LLC;  B-Ashview Farm & Old Oak Farm (KY); T-Todd A Pletcher.  $30,000.
Margins: HD, 1 1/4, 7 1/4. Odds: 5.00, 1.00, 4.00.
Also Ran: Workin On a Dream, Mohaafeth, Treasure Trove, Mischief Afoot, Excellorator, Capocostello, Forewarned. Scratched: Shooger Ray Too.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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Lady Scarlet Pounces Late in Miss Preakness

Fri, 2022-05-20 17:31

Former claimer Lady Scarlet recorded a career-high victory Friday when coming from off the pace to take the GIII Miss Preakness S. at Pimlico. Allowed to survey the pace in third early as 4-5 favorite Happy Soul, prompted by Gimmick, led the way through opening fractions of :23.01 and :45.58, the dark bay was given the cue by Irad Ortiz, Jr. while swinging out wide turning for home. Slowly reeling in the battling leaders down the lane, she took over and powered clear to score by 3 3/4 lengths over Happy Soul, who out slugged Gimmick to finish second.

“I got the perfect trip,” said Ortiz. “She broke from a great position. I waited for the time to roll, and she did very well. She did everything right, everything perfect. They went out a little fast and I was right there behind them and waited for the time to go. I had plenty left.”

Trainer Mike Maker added, “We left it up to Irad to be creative. If they hooked up on the lead, so be it. If they gave it to us, so be it. She's won on the lead before, and she's won coming from off [the pace]. So it worked perfectly. I think she's a good horse and there's plenty of races out there.”

As to the beaten favorite, John Velazquez said, “She broke good and got good position. I don't think she ran her 'A' race today. Last time out [sixth in the Apr. 8 GI Ashland S.], she was flat. Today, she was mad but she wasn't herself.”

Picked up by current connections for what now looks like a bargain $150,000 in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden claimer at Churchill in November, the filly faded to fifth after setting the pace facing optional claimers at Oaklawn in December.

“It sounds like a lot, which it is, but with the purse structure that there is, the prices of horses has gone up.”

Given some time off following that effort, she returned a winner when coming from just off the pace going six panels at Oaklawn Feb. 26 and made it two straight with a win in Aqueduct's Cicada S. Mar. 19. Weakening late while trying to extend her speed an extra furlong in the GIII Beaumont S. Apr. 10, she finished fourth.

Pedigree Notes:
With the victory, Lady Scarlet becomes the 14th winner for GI Belmont S. winner Union Rags. She is out of SW and GSP Exclude, who is a half-sister to MGSW Exhi (Maria's Mon) and listed winner Diluvien (Fr) (Manduro {Ger}). This represents the prolific family of Canadian Horse of the Year Franfeluche (Northern Dancer), dam of HOTY L'Enjoleur (Buckpasser), champion La Voyageuse (Tentam) and Grade II winner D'Accord (Secretariat). This is also the extended family of French Highweight juvenile Holy Roman Emperor.

Friday, Pimlico
MISS PREAKNESS S.-GIII, $150,000, Pimlico, 5-20, 3yo, f, 6f, 1:10.07, ft.
1–LADY SCARLET, 120, f, 3, by Union Rags
              1st Dam: Exclude (GB), by Include
              2nd Dam: Soldera, by Polish Numbers
              3rd Dam: La Pepite, by Mr. Prospector
   1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($72,000 RNA Ylg '20 KEESEP).
O-Paradise Farms Corp. & David Staudacher; B-Popatop, LLC
(KY); T-Michael J. Maker; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr. $90,000. Lifetime
Record: 9-4-2-0, $303,530. Werk Nick Rating: A++. Click for
the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Happy Soul, 124, f, 3, Runhappy–Cowgirl Lucky, by Stephen
Got Even. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($50,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP).
O-Gayla Rankin; B-Harris Training Center, LLC (KY); T-Wesley A.
Ward. $30,000.
3–Gimmick, 120, f, 3, Into Mischief–Quick Flip, by
Speightstown. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($450,000 Ylg '20
FTKSEL). O-e Five Racing Thoroughbreds; B-Spendthrift Farm,
LLC (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen. $15,000.
Margins: 3 3/4, 1, 1. Odds: 2.70, 0.80, 9.80.
Also Ran: Verylittlecents, Saucy Lady T, La Casa d'Oro. Scratched: Sweet Solare, Under the Stars.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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Pizza Bianca Punches Royal Ascot Ticket in the Hilltop

Fri, 2022-05-20 16:46

Bobby Flay homebred Pizza Bianca, heroine of last term's GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, punched her ticket to Royal Ascot in style here.

In an impressive 2021 campaign, Pizza Bianca broke her maiden over the Saratoga grass on debut July 22 at Saratoga and jumped right into Grade I company, finishing second behind Wild Beauty (Frankel {GB}) in Woodbine's GI Natalma S. Sept. 19. That set her up for a run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar, where she posted a half-length victory at 9-1. Pizza Bianca returned from the bench to be second, beaten just three-quarters of a length, as the 4-5 favorite in the Memories of Silver S. at Aqueduct Apr. 24.

Confidently backed at 2-5 here, she raced in sixth behind pacesetter Murph (Malibu Moon) through an opening quarter in :23.31. Patiently handled and still with plenty to do heading into the far turn, she started to move along the inside, then switched back out as the field turned for home. She was let loose in the stretch and came rolling over the top to win going away.

“[Jockey] Jose [Ortiz] did exactly what we were hoping for,” Flay said. “She broke; he kind of put her to sleep around the track; asked her a little bit; and she performed very nice. Really, a sigh of relief, but also just a beautiful performance.”

The G1 Coronation S. at Royal Ascot will be next.

“I ran in that race in 2011 with More Than Real,” Flay said. “She didn't run that well, but it doesn't matter. It was an amazing experience. To me, this is what this is all about. These horses can take you on experiences of a lifetime.”

On behalf of Flay, bloodstock agent James Delahooke went to 1.25 million guineas ($2,122,050) for Pizza Bianca's dam White Hot at the 2014 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale. Pizza Bianca is the first foal for her unraced dam. The half-sister to G1 Epsom Derby winner Pour Moi (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}) is also represented by a yearling colt by Uncle Mo and birthed a colt by Not This Time in 2022.

Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

HILLTOP S., $100,000, Pimlico, 5-20, 3yo, f, 1mT, 1:36.54, fm.
1–PIZZA BIANCA, 122, f, 3, by Fastnet Rock (Aus)-White Hot
(Ire), by Galileo (Ire). O-Bobby Flay; B-B. Flay Thoroughbreds
(KY); T-Christophe Clement; J-Jose L. Ortiz. $60,000. Lifetime
Record: GISW, 5-3-2-0, $717,635.
2–Diamond Hands, 118, f, 3, Frosted–Love Cove, by Not For
Love. ($25,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP; $425,000 2yo '21 OBSAPR).
1ST BLACK TYPE. O-Robert Masiello & Steven Rocco; B-Brant
Laue & Godolphin (KY); T-Christophe Clement. $20,000.
3–Vergara, 120, f, 3, Noble Mission (GB)–Figure of Beauty, by
Street Cry (Ire). ($130,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-Gary Broad;
B-Neil Jones (KY); T-H. Graham Motion. $10,000.
Margins: 1 3/4, HD, NK. Odds: 0.40, 7.20, 4.70.
Also Ran: Lady Puchi, Determined Gold, Murph, Hail To, Determined Star.

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Pletcher Sophs Work Towards Belmont Day Spots

Fri, 2022-05-20 16:27

A trio of 3-year-olds from the barn of Todd Pletcher took to the Belmont dirt training track Friday morning as they prepare for stakes engagements during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.

Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo), who defeated GI Preakness S. hopeful Early Voting (Gun Runner) in the GII Wood Memorial S. Apr. 9 ahead of a closing fifth in the GI Kentucky Derby May 7, breezed a half-mile in the company of his GI Central Bank Ashland S.-winning stable companion Nest (Curlin) in :50.02. Owned by Donegal Racing and Repole Stable, Mo Donegal is pointing for the GI Belmont S. June 11, while Nest is under consideration for a start against the boys in the 'Test of the Champion.' Nest's sire was famously defeated by the Pletcher-trained Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy) in the 2007 Belmont.

“It was a good maintenance breeze,” said Pletcher's New York-based assistant Byron Hughes. “They both were moving well and galloped out well. They were on even terms throughout and we were happy with the breeze.”

'TDN Rising Star' Wit (Practical Joke) went five furlongs in the company of fellow 'Rising Star' Malathaat (Curlin) in 1:01.58 Friday morning. Wit most recently returned from a six-month break to take out the GII Bay Shore S. by a nose Apr. 9 and will remain at the seven-furlong distance for the GI Woody Stephens S. on Belmont S. day. Malathaat also made a victorious return to action in Keeneland's GIII Baird Doubledogdare S. Apr. 22, besting Friday's GII DuPont Distaff romper Super Quick (Super Saver), and faces a mouthwatering matchup with champion Letruska (Super Saver) in the GI Ogden Phipps S. the same afternoon.

“Both are good breeze horses and made a good matchup,” Hughes said. “They went head-and-head throughout in 1:01 and change and had a good, solid gallop out.”

Highland Chief On to Manhattan…

Highland Chief (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}), who caused a 19-1 upset in the May 14 GI Man o' War S., is likely to make his next appearance on the Belmont S. undercard in the GI Manhattan S.

“I think we'll point to the Manhattan if he's doing well,” trainer Graham Motion said. “The timing is right and I don't have a concern whatsoever about the mile and a quarter for him. I think he's pretty tactical and I think we're certainly going to keep him over here and not consider taking him over to England anytime soon. It had been mentioned to me before the race, but after we all got together, I think we'll keep him for an American campaign.

BC Champ Possible for Met…

Trainer Wayne Catalano has told the NYRA racing office that his GI Breeders' Cup Sprint hero Aloha West (Hard Spun) could make the trip to the Big Apple for the GI Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan H. June 11. The Maryland-bred 5-year-old made his seasonal debut in the GI Churchill Downs S. May 7, finishing third behind Jackie's Warrior (Maclean's Music) and Reinvestment Risk (Upstart).

“He went on the dead rail and got pushed a little early,” Catalano said. “It was a tough race. The only horse that went up the rail the last eighth of the mile was the Derby winner [Rich Strike]. From what I saw, everyone else was on the middle of the racetrack.”

The Met is also likely to attract undefeated 'TDN Rising Star' Flightline (Tapit) and GI Carter H. hero Speaker's Corner (Street Sense).

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Golden Pal Leads Ward Ascot Workers

Fri, 2022-05-20 15:43

Wesley Ward worked five of his Royal Ascot contenders over the Keeneland turf Friday led by GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Golden Pal (Uncle Mo). He covered five panels in a bullet 1:02.80 (1/8) (video). Winner of the GII Shakertown S. last out Apr. 9, the bay is being pointed at the G1 King's Stand S. at the Royal meeting June 14.

“I thought he had an unbelievable breeze today,” Ward said. “The turf was soggy, and I love to breeze on a deep, soft turf. They come in and out of the works so good. He broke off 10 lengths in front of a 2-year-old filly, ['TDN Rising Star'] Love Reigns (Ire) (U S Navy Flag)–she's no match for a horse like him at this stage of her career–but she had a target. She had a great work (1:03.60) following the fastest horse in the world. He skipped over it–it was unbelievable. That's what you want to see.”

Love Reigns, owned by Stonestreet Stables, scored a 9 3/4-length victory at Keeneland in her Apr. 29 career debut sprinting on turf. She is scheduled to race in the G2 Queen Mary S. June 15.

Stonestreet also owns G1 Platinum Jubilee S.-bound Campanelle (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) (1:04) and Palace of Holyroodhouse S. contender Ruthin (GB) (Ribchester {Ire}) (1:04.80) (video). Campanelle is bidding for her third win at Royal Ascot, following triumphs in the Queen Mary in 2020 and G1 Commonwealth Cup in 2021.

Ward's other Royal Ascot worker was Andrew Farm and For the People Racing Stable's No Nay Hudson (Ire) (No Nay Never) (1:06.40), who is headed to the Windsor Castle June 15. No Nay Hudson won his career debut at Keeneland Apr. 28 on the dirt.

On June 8, they have a direct flight from Indianapolis to London Stansted Airport, “and they land and have a 10-minute ride to Chelmsford Racecourse, where they'll stay for three days until they go to Ascot,” Ward said.

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New TV Ad Launched by We Are NY Horse Racing

Fri, 2022-05-20 11:52

The launch of a new television advertisement was announced by officials at We Are NY Horse Racing Friday, titled 'Community.' It seeks to further educate and inform New Yorkers about the importance of horse racing to the New York State economy.

The ad will air on broadcast and cable networks across the state beginning Friday, with additional ads to be unveiled in the coming months.

The ad also appears on YouTube, below.

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Should the Triple Crown Be Changed? Veteran Industry Participants Weigh In

Fri, 2022-05-20 10:55

After the connections of GI Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike (Keen Ice) opted to skip the GI Preakness S. and instead prepare for the GI Belmont S., the structure of the Triple Crown races has been a subject of debate leading up to the second leg of the historic series. Should the timing between the races be adjusted? We asked a few veteran industry participants here.

Steve Asmussen:

I think it's what makes it the Triple Crown. There are other lucrative races on the calendar, but these are the American Classics. I think that it all depends on who has what horse in what year.

[Asked about timing between races with Preakness contender Epicenter] I'm far more concerned about the weather, which you would have no control on that if you ran it later. If anything, there's a good probability of it being that much hotter.

The difference of two weeks from the Kentucky Derby to the Preakness and three weeks from the Preakness to the Belmont is negligible. I think a similar argument that would come into that is, would you have more entries if the Belmont wasn't a mile and a half? But the Belmont is a mile and a half. That's what makes it the Belmont. Having the Preakness two weeks after the Derby is what makes it the Preakness.

I've had several runners in the Preakness and our two winners were Rachel Alexandra, who won running back 15 days after the Kentucky Oaks, and then Curlin running back 14 days after the Derby. I've had fresh horses coming into the Preakness who ran well, but none that were winners.

Kenny McPeek:

I don't think there's anything wrong with the timing of the Triple Crown. I think it's fine. It's the ultimate challenge and I think especially without Lasix nowadays, it's even better. Horses can come back quicker. It's tradition and it's hard to do. It takes a really special horse.

Chris McCarron:

I don't think it should be changed. I know that it has changed a number of times over the last 150 years, or whatever it is.

Even if we adjusted things by one week and had three weeks between the Preakness and the Derby and then three to the Belmont, it would certainly make things a little bit easier because a horse is going to have another seven days to rebound and to avoid any kind of a bounce. But if that happened, you'd have to put an asterisk next to any future Triple Crown winners. It would diminish the accomplishment.

With Alysheba, he won the Preakness easily but he was a little bit tired, a little bit knocked out coming into the Belmont. The timing of the races probably did catch up to him. That being said, I don't believe it's in the industry's best interest to fool around with the timing of the races.

Check in tomorrow for more responses from industry participants and see our responses from yesterday here.

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Bevy of Bullets as Midlantic Breeze Show Concludes

Thu, 2022-05-19 18:03

TIMONIUM, MD – The final session of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale under-tack show, delayed an hour by overnight rains, concluded with 11 juveniles sharing the fastest furlong time of :10 flat, while a filly by Violence turned in the day's fastest quarter-mile work of :21 1/5 Thursday in Timonium.

The Top Line Sales consignment was responsible for three of the furlong bullet workers Thursday, including a pair of fillies by freshman sire Sharp Azteca. A filly by Speightster (hip 484) was first to hit the :10 flat mark for the Gladwells' consignment when working in the day's second set. Out of Little Miss Brown (Big Brown), the chestnut filly was acquired for $35,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearlings Sale.

“My sister [Nelly Breeden] and Omar [Ramirez] came up here and bought her together out of the Fasig-Tipton sale as a yearling,” Jimbo Gladwell said of hip 484. “She has been phenomenal all year. She is really fast. We knew she was going to work good, it was just a matter of getting her up there and getting her through it.”

Both Sharp Azteca fillies were representing long-time members of the Top Line team. Larry Mejias purchased hip 628 for $20,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall sale and the rider, who also counts Kevin McKathan and Dave Scanlon among his clients at the breeze show, was aboard the filly when she turned in her :10 flat work Thursday.

“There were a lot of nerves going up there,” Gladwell admitted. “Me on the pony, him on the horse. We had three or four plans and we just tried to keep it simple. Don't overrride, let the horse do the work.”

The filly is out of Roxie Dancer (Successful Appeal), a half-sister to graded winner Declan's Warrior (Majestic Warrior).

Rounding out Top Line's three bullet workers Thursday was hip 538, a daughter of Sharp Azteca out of the unraced Munjazaat (Daaher) (:10 flat). Ramirez purchased the dark bay filly for $50,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton July sale.

“Both of the Sharp Aztecas are owned by guys that work for me,” Gladwell said. “I'm proud of them and happy to come up here and they have some success and their horses are working well for them.”

Of the first crop juveniles by GI Cigar Mile H. winner Sharp Azteca that he has worked with, Gladwell said, “They are very pretty horses and they seem willing. I think he's going to be ok.”

As the breeze show was winding down Thursday, Gladwell said, “We had a great day. Horses are breezing to their preps just like they are supposed to. We had high expectations for today, we had a lot of fast horses, it just worked out, on the last day.”

Asked if the overnight rains had effected the track, Gladwell said, “I don't think so. It was a little sloppy earlier, but Fasig did a good job of putting the brakes on and giving the track an extra hour for the crew to work on it and get it right. And it was on the faster side, but I don't think it changed from the other two days, just from the horses' prep times from last week and how they are moving forward. It's pretty much the same as my other horses that breezed on the other days.”

Kevin McKathan is doing double duty this week in Maryland. In addition to overseeing his McKathan Bros. Sales consignment, he has also been busy across town preparing Fenwick (Curlin) for Saturday's GI Preakness S. The Ocala horseman sent out a pair of bullet workers Thursday. Hip 537, a daughter of Cairo Prince, turned in her :10 flat work during the day's second set. She is out of the unraced Mother of Swords (War Front) and was purchased by Fenwick's co-owner Jeremiah Rudan for $50,000 at the 2020 Keeneland November sale. She RNA'd for $100,000 at Keeneland last September and was originally expected to be offered at this year's OBS March sale.

“She is a big, beautiful, stretchy filly,” McKathan said of the juvenile. “I had her in an earlier sale and she ended up getting a little shin before the breeze show, so I scratched her and pinfired her and brought her here. She is a big, sexy filly. Everyone should love her. She's for the guy I have Fenwick for in the Preakness, so it could be a big weekend for him.”

McKathan also sent out a filly by American Pharoah (hip 443) to work in :10 flat. He is consigning the filly, who is out of graded stakes winner Jordan's Henny (Henny Hughes), on behalf of breeders Erv Woolsey and Ralph Kinder. The juvenile will be making her second appearance in a sales ring next week after RNA'ing for $290,000 following a :10 1/5 work at OBS March.

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California’s ‘Lens of Equity’ Could Benefit Jockeys

Thu, 2022-05-19 17:04

As part of a mandate that flows from the governor on down to the commissioners he has appointed to the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), the “lens of equity” may soon be focused squarely on the state's jockey colony.

Fear not, California riders: This initiative means the owners of male horses that you pilot to victory in certain graded stakes might soon be compelled to award you a one-time breeding right if that winner goes on to become a stallion. That's a practice that was once a “gentleman's agreement” type of custom, but is believed never to have been codified in any American racing jurisdiction.

The renewed focus on fairness could also mean that the state's jockeys might also be getting some everyday weight breaks in the foreseeable future.

These items were both discussed–but not voted upon–during Thursday's monthly CHRB meeting, one day after a subcommittee that deals with jockey welfare first broached those subjects in a public forum.

“It has to do with embracing the tradition of California racing, which has always had the pre-eminent jockey colony in the world,” said vice chair Oscar Gonzales, who is advocating the stallion share concept but noted that the idea still needs legal analysis and fine-tuning via public commentary before it resurfaces as an actual rule proposal.

Gonzales said that attracting and retaining top riders is vital to the health of racing in the state, calling jockeys “the best ambassadors” of the sport.

“The other thing I believe this has to do with is about fairness and equity,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales pointed out that to his understanding, neither Victor Espinoza nor Mike Smith were awarded breeding shares in American Pharoah and Justify after their respective Triple Crown championships, even though both stallions had won Grade I stakes in California along the way.

“So I question that fairness,” Gonzales continued. “I believe that there's a lack of consistency. And this board, being as reform-minded as we strive to be, are always looking for disparities and things that we can fix.”

Commissioner Wendy Mitchell expressed support for the concept.

“I read one press report that it's a 'radical idea,'” Mitchell said. “And I appreciate that we're making changes; this board is going in new directions that have not been seen in horse racing. And we see other states and other jurisdictions following suit.”

Mitchell continued: “As far as the breeding rights for jockeys, I think [that policy] is a brilliant idea, because it goes to the 'equity lens' that every commission in the state of California is looking at policies through… It's the governor's directive. It's what everyone is talking about and what we should be looking at.”

The concept of an “equity lens” has been increasingly championed over the past several years by Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose “California for All” message underscores that state government must strive to serve all citizens and advance all forms of diversity, fairness and inclusion, especially among marginalized populations. It encompasses everything from policing to road-building to public health and housing-and now horse racing, too.

As commissioner Thomas Hudnut put it, one of the ways this concept applies to racing regulation is via making sure jockeys are getting adequately compensated for the professional risks they take.

“We really need to take a holistic approach to the whole question of jockeys and jockey welfare, because relatively few jockeys ride stakes-winning horses,” Hudnut said. “It's the food-chain matter of the jockeys who don't get the chance, who are chronically underpaid and frequently overworked. And we need to keep them in our sights as well. Because if we're talking about the 'lens of equity,' those are the guys who are more often than not getting the short end of the stick.”

Gonzales added that it will be the board's responsibility not to make decisions (like on breeding shares) without understanding the wider socio-economic implications.

“We should also, at some point when we take up this issue, have a very thorough and comprehensive understanding of what it is that the industry does to support jockeys on the one hand, and how they make a living…. Because jockeys remain important to what we do in this industry, it's time for this board to have a fuller understanding of how we can be supportive of jockeys.”

No commissioners publicly expressed opposition to the stallion-share concept during the May 19 meeting. There was no public commentary either for or against the idea, but that is expected to come at a later stage once an actual proposal is brought before the CHRB for voting.

At a different point in the meeting, Gonzales updated commissioners on work-in-progress proposals to give jockeys weight breaks that are more in line with 21st Century human physiology.

Currently, Gonzales explained, California gives a 10-pound weight break to new apprentices to incentivize trainers to employ them. But some trainers will insist on the jockey weighing out right at the 10-pound max allowance, which is a weight some jockeys can't easily achieve.

“The way things currently are is that a beginning rider will have to weigh about 110 pounds or so, which is pretty difficult these days, ” Gonzales said. “This low-weight threshold can be a barrier.”

Gonzales said the way the scale is now, an apprentice gets a 10-pound “bug” until win No. 5, when it drops to seven pounds. The allowance then drops to five after win No. 40.

Gonzales said the rule that is likely to be proposed will instead start with a seven-pound base, then drop to five after win No. 10, “which can make a huge difference,” Gonzales said.

“Typically, after a certain milestone, the public is pretty familiar with that five-pound allowance, which is really the number that we ought to concentrate on,” Gonzales said. “But what we're trying to do is eliminate a barrier of entry to young riders coming up.”

In addition, Gonzales said, the CHRB is likely to consider a proposed rule that would raise the minimum weight for established riders from 112 pounds to 114 pounds, and to reduce the maximum amount of overweight from seven pounds to five.

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Preakness Alibi Breakfast Highlights Thursday

Thu, 2022-05-19 16:50

BALTIMORE, MD–In the continued lead up to Saturday's GI Preakness S., the intensity in the air, as well as the increasing media presence, grew noticeably denser Thursday morning at Pimlico. A couple of groups of fans could be seen milling around the Stakes Barn area, in addition to large clusters of media hoping to get in their final interviews in before a jam-packed weekend of racing.

Drawing a gaggle of reporters and interested onlookers, morningline favorite Epicenter (Not This Time), who continued with his usual routine and went out for a routine gallop, appeared to look the picture, glowing in health despite the overcast start to the morning.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, who has remained steadfast in his confidence in the Winchell Thoroughbreds runner following a runner-up finish in the May 7 GI Kentucky Derby, believes that the GII Risen Star and GII Louisiana Derby winner's main weapon in his arsenal is his consistency.

“He has been beautifully consistent in his training,” said Asmussen, who also won the Classic race in 2007 with Curlin and 2009 with Rachel Alexandra. “It was something I found remarkable leading up to the Derby; how consistent he's been a week out as he's been a month out.”

Asked how he's taken to the new surroundings, he added, “I really like how he settled in and how he looked going over the racetrack. That's what we were concerned about because he had been at Churchill and at the Fair Grounds–he was at home. But this will be the first time running here. From what we have seen from the last days on the racetrack, and his demeanor in the stall, he's been consistent. His appetite has been the same. He's been very relaxed going to the track, lively on the racetrack and he's cooled out comfortably. He's settled in very well.”

Also attracting a crowd, GI Kentucky Oaks heroine Secret Oath (Arrogate) continued to give her Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas all the right signs in the lead up to her second encounter with colts following a third-place finish in the Apr. 2 GI Arkansas Derby. Lukas also has Ethereal Road (Quality Road) slated to run in the Sir Barton S. on the Preakness undercard.

Later in the morning, Pimlico hosted its traditional Preakness week Alibi Breakfast and Lukas showed why he remains ever popular, regaling the crowd with a few of his favorite jokes, including one playfully lobbed at fellow competitor Ken McPeek, who saddles Creative Minister (Creative Cause).

Lukas, who has won the iconic race on six prior occasions, reminisced his debut appearance with Codex in 1980.

“I came here from the Quarter Horse industry with Codex in 1980 and they put him in that first stall [far side of the first stakes barn],” recalled Lukas. “I sat there outside that tackroom and nobody even knew who we were.”

And that victory was not only memorable because it was his first, but also because of the drama associated with the controversial ride Angel Cordero Jr. gave the Tartan Stable-owned colt when besting that season's Kentucky Derby winner, filly Genuine Risk.

“Codex had to win it three times, once on the track, once in the steward's room and once with the commission,” he said. “That was a memorable experience.”

Only two trainers have won the race on more occasions than Lukas–R. Wydham Walden and Bob Baffert. The latter has been conspicuously absent from the Preakness proceedings over the last two season's following Medina Spirit's positive in the 2021 Kentucky Derby and the subsequent fallout, including a 90-day suspension which the trainer is currently serving. In previous years, Preakness week has served as a place for the two Hall of Famers to catch up, and Lukas offered a shout out to his absent friend.

“I was sitting on that chair this week and we left one chair for Baffert,” admitted Lukas. “We used to sit there and analyze the field and just talk. So, we sent a picture to Bob with me next to that one empty chair.”

Among the horsemen tipping their hats to Lukas yesterday, McPeek believes the lightly-raced Creative Minister has what it takes to compete at this level of competition he will face Saturday.

“You can't win one if you're not in one,” he said. “And a guy that I have the most respect for, Wayne, came over here many times and he was never scared to take a shot, so why should we. We realized we're taking a big gamble, but this is a really nice horse and I feel really good about his chances.”

Trainer Tim Yakteen, who marked his Triple Crown debut this year with a pair of runners at Churchill Downs earlier this month, will try to break through with Armagnac (Quality Road), a confident optional claimer winner at Santa Anita May 8.

“I think he ran a super race [last time] and we wanted to try and capitalize on that great race and see if he can get a piece of the pie or all of the pie here,” said Yakteen.

Also in attendance at Thursday's breakfast, Saffie Joeseph Jr., who will saddle Skippylongstocking (Exaggerator), makes only his second appearance at the Preakness following a ninth in the 2020 renewal with Ny Traffic (Cross Traffic).

“He's facing quality horses here, the Oaks winner, Epicenter, who probably ran the best race in the Derby and [GISW] Simplification [Not This Time], so it's a quality field. I know we're taking a chance. After watching the Derby, we thought he might have a chance to win it.”

Rounding out the conference, Joseph commented on the attraction in returning to Baltimore for the second jewel in racing's American Triple Crown.

“It's a really good atmosphere here,” he said. “We were here two years ago with no fans, so to get to see everybody on the backside and with fans back Saturday. We're looking forward to it.”

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24 Candidates Up For BC Election

Thu, 2022-05-19 15:06

Twenty-four members of the racing industry are on the ballot for the election of 20 Breeders' Cup members. On May 27, the Breeders' Cup Election website will open for 2021 Breeders' Cup foal and stallion nominators to begin the voting process. Of the 24 candidates on the ballot, 17 are incumbent members standing for re-election. The 20 individuals receiving the most votes will each serve a term of four years.

Members are elected every other year by Breeders' Cup foal and stallion nominators through a proportional voting system based on the level of nominations paid to the organization. There are a total of 39 elected Breeders' Cup members. The members meet each July and elect individuals to the Breeders' Cup Board of Directors, which oversees the activities of the organization.

The 24 candidates for the members election are: Rory Babbich, Michael Levinson, Antony Beck*, M.V. Magnier*, Gatewood Bell*, Patrice M. Miller, Christian Black, Pope McLean, Jr.*, Case Clay*, Gavin Murphy*, Alan Cooper*, Garrett O'Rourke*, Everett Dobson*, Alex Payne, William S. Farish, Jr.*, Mike Pons*, H. Greg Goodman*, Daisy Phipps Pulito*, Jonathan Green, Jaime Roth*, Fred W. Hertrich, III*, Tom Ryan*, Jak Knelman*, Shunsuke Yoshida. (*Denotes Member standing for re-election).

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Hawthorne Cuts Back to Two Days Weekly

Thu, 2022-05-19 14:54

Citing an inability to support three days of racing per week, Hawthorne Race Course asked for and received permission from the Illinois Racing Board (IRB) to drop the remaining five Sundays from its current Thoroughbred meet that runs through June 25.

This is the first season in recent Illinois history with the scheduled-to-be-sold Arlington International Racecourse not running a summer meet, which has led to a thinned horse population this spring at Hawthorne.

The Hawthorne season started Apr. 2 with just Saturday and Sunday racing. Fridays were added May 6, adversely affecting the Sunday, May 8, card, which featured only 39 starters over seven races. The following Sunday, May 15, yielded 51 starters in eight races.

Sunday was deemed to be the weaker link, betting-wise, so it was axed in favor of better-handling Fridays and Saturdays. Those programs are now anticipated to be expanded by several additional races each day.

For next week, the Sunday, May 29, races already in the condition book will be offered as extras for May 27 and 28.

The final week of the season is still scheduled for three dates, with a Thursday, June 23 card thrown into the mix before Thoroughbred racing in Illinois goes dark until Sept. 23 while Hawthorne hosts a summer Standardbred meet.

Hawthorne management indicated to the IRB that the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association had no objection to the cutback.

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Should the Triple Crown Be Changed? We Ask Trainers to Weigh In

Thu, 2022-05-19 12:47

After the connections of GI Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike (Keen Ice) opted to skip the GI Preakness S. and instead prepare for the GI Belmont S., the structure of the Triple Crown races has been a subject of debate leading up to the second leg of the historic series. Should the timing between the races be adjusted? We asked a few veteran trainers here.



Mark Casse:

I think it has to stay the same. I think it's nonsense to talk any different. This is history, this is what our game has been about for over a hundred years. The Triple Crown is not supposed to be easy. A horse can handle the racing, especially now where we aren't doing as much prior to the Kentucky Derby.

In the Kentucky Derby, we run at a neutral surface. There has been no racing there all spring. Some horses may have ran there in the fall, but the Churchill Downs racetrack is very different in the fall compared to the spring so I don't feel like there's any home field advantage there. Then we go to Pimlico, where it is definitely a neutral playing field. We see a lot of horses run well in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. War of Will (War Front) is a perfect example of that. He was very much hindered in the Derby and he came back and won the Preakness, but he didn't show up in the Belmont. A lot of people would say he was tired, but I would say it had more to do with the fact that they call it Big Sandy for a reason. The surface is very loose and a lot of horses won't handle it.

It's my feeling that anyone stabled at Belmont has a big advantage. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness are run on a neutral battlefield, but the Belmont is not. I think if you look over the last 20 years, a lot of it has to do with there being a home field advantage rather than horses being tired.

That was my reasoning in doing what I did with [2019 Belmont S. winner] Sir Winston (Awesome Again). I ran him in the GIII Peter Pan S., where he ran second, and I thought going into the Belmont that he had a big chance because he was running over a racetrack he had already ran on. There's no question that Belmont is entirely a different world. A lot of times these horses are doing well in the Derby and the Preakness and then are getting beat in the Belmont. They'll say it's because the horse is tired, but I don't think it's that.

I'm always looking for new ideas and new reasons to make things better, but I don't think the Triple Crown should be changed.


Doug O'Neill:

I think it is time for a change. Everything evolves. We have made a lot of other positive changes in the best interests of the horse. I like the concept of putting four weeks between each of the races and having it be the first Saturday in May, the first Saturday in June and the first Saturday in July. It would work well, too, from a marketing standpoint. My gut says that's the way to go.

I completely disagree with the idea that it would diminish the accomplishment. Sometimes, coming out of the Derby and going into the Preakness, you really don't have to do a lot.  As long as there are no injuries, you can kind of coast in between. If you put a month in between, that would require some good horsemanship. Man and horse will have to work together to maintain that level of brilliance in between the races. It could even make it a tad more challenging. I hate being a contrarian, but I think changing it would be a good thing.


Shug McGaughey:

I don't think it should be changed. It's very traditional and one of the reasons why it is so difficult to win is the way the races are spaced.

If they went to three weeks, I wouldn't complain about that. But I think the way it is structured right now adds to the mystique of the Triple Crown. You have to run and you have to have the horse and the knowledge to be able to get the horse from the Derby to the Preakness and then from the Preakness to the Belmont. If I had a horse that ran second or third in the Derby, would I come back in the two weeks? I would think about it.

The Preakness is a race that stands on its own and I would love to win it. If I had a horse that was capable of coming back in two weeks, I would run. If I didn't think the horse was capable of coming back in two weeks, I wouldn't run.

Check in tomorrow for more responses from industry participants.

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Graham Motion Talks Importance of Taking Shots On Writers’ Room

Wed, 2022-05-18 17:02

In an era where trainers are increasingly hesitant to run their horses frequently and/or in races where they might be longshots, Graham Motion is a throwback. It often pays off for his perennially successful outfit, as it did on Saturday at Belmont, when his Highland Chief (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}), dismissed at 19-1 in a five-horse field, upset defending champion turf male Yibir (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and MGISW Gufo (Declaration of War) in the GI Man O' War S. Tuesday, Motion joined the TDN Writers' Room presented by Keeneland as the Green Group Guest of the Week to talk about why he's steadfast about taking shots and running his horses, how he feels about the current state of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, the upcoming Royal Ascot trip for his undefeated Spendarella (Karakontie {Jpn}) and more.

“I think we are very cautious these days,” Motion said of modern trainers. “I think everyone's so worried about that [win] percentage. I think you can learn a lot from watching a guy like Wayne [Lukas], who's never been afraid to take a shot. I think we're just so caught up in being careful. It's so easy to ship across the country now. It's so easy to avoid races that you think are too tough. At the end of the day, that takes a little bit away from the sport, which is to see who has the fastest horse, and the challenge. I kind of live for that. That's what I find so exciting. That's why I love going to Ascot, because it's out of the normal and it's a challenge for these horses. That's what it's all about, right?”

An early supporter of the HISA reform law that has since hit hiccups in potential implementation, Motion was asked how optimistic or pessimistic he is that the program will take full effect and the new rules will fundamentally improve the sport.

“It's going to be difficult, there's no doubt about it,” he said. “I realize there are issues with cost and where the money is going to come from. What I don't understand and what frustrates me a little bit–I'll probably get chastised for saying this, but–we're running for these extraordinary purses. We're running for $100,000 with maidens. Couldn't we put some of that money aside toward the integrity of our sport? I don't understand it. Improve the backstretch, improve safety, improve the integrity of our sport and put some of this money toward HISA. It's going to be a difficult task. I was disappointed when USADA dropped out. I don't know much about the new arrangement. I'm surprised how little, quite frankly, we read about it. So, look, I'm optimistic it's going to happen. I hope everybody eventually gets on board because I think it'll be game changing, and it's going to take a while. There are going to be some hiccups along the way.”

Elsewhere on the show, which is also sponsored by Coolmore, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, XBTV, West Point Thoroughbreds and Legacy Bloodstock, the writers had a thorough discussion on the proposals to increase the spacing of Triple Crown races and previewed a Rich Strike-less Preakness. Click here to watch the show; click here for the audio-only version or find it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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Bernardini Colt Zips Furlong Bullet in Timonium

Wed, 2022-05-18 16:19

TIMONIUM, MD –  Just minutes into the second day of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale under-tack show, a colt by Bernardini (hip 385) zipped the week's fastest furlong work of :9 4/5 Wednesday in Timonium. It was the first time since 2012 that a juvenile had shaded :10 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds oval. The dark bay colt is consigned to the Midlantic sale by Becky Thomas's Sequel Bloodstock on behalf of breeders Chester and Mary Broman.

“The expectations were pretty high,” said Sequel's Carlos Manresa. “Like most of Mr. Broman's horses, they are bred to go fast. And he did just that. We didn't know that he was going to go quite that fast. We hadn't asked him to go that fast, but we knew that he would be a standout performer.”

The colt is out of G Note (Medaglia d'Oro), a daughter of graded stakes winner Seeking the Ante (Seeking the Gold) and a half to stakes winner Mineralogist (Mineshaft), as well as stakes-placed Risk a Chance (A.P. Indy), who is the dam of this year's GII Rebel S. winner Un Ojo (Laoban).

Thomas's association with the Bromans' families goes back generations.

“We have three relatives of that family,” Thomas said. “The mother of Un Ojo was Mr. Broman's and we sold her to another partner of ours. And now, in Mr. Broman's breeding band, we have the aunts, Mineralogist and Ante Up My Friend (Friend or Foe), and we have G Note. We have many members and we breed them all really well. So one of them will fill in that gap up there.”

The Munoz family's CM Thoroughbreds is making its debut at the Timonium auction with a three-horse consignment this year and one of the trio, a colt by American Freedom (hip 236), turned in Wednesday's fastest quarter-mile work of :21 2/5. Anna and Adela Munoz purchased the dark bay, who is out of Bringingdown Babel (Roman Ruler), for $12,000 at last year's OBS October sale.

“We liked the way he looked, he had a big body on him,” said Damian Munoz, who is overseeing the consignment on behalf of his father, Carlos. “We tried to enter him at the OBS sale in April, but they had so many horses, so we decided to come here for the first time. This is our first time trying Timonium and so far, I am loving it here. I love the weather.”

Of Wednesday's bullet work, Munoz said, “I was expecting a fast breeze out of him, but not as fast as he did it. He got sick before he shipped over here, so he missed out on two workouts. So we had to get him sharp over here with two breezes and he wasn't breezing like what he did today. So I was a little surprised today.”

The Munozes, who generally race at Tampa Bay Downs, expanded their pinhooking venture this year and have been pleased with the results.

“We have been able to sell just about everything and make a profit out of it, so we've been doing pretty good,” Munoz said of the family's 2022 results.

CM Thoroughbreds had its first consignment at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale earlier in the year and will offer nine juveniles at the upcoming OBS June sale.

“It's all a family thing, with me, my mom and my dad,” Munoz explained.

The under-tack show concludes with a final session beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday. The auction will be held next Monday and Tuesday with bidding commencing each day at 11 a.m.

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