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Updated: 6 hours 47 min ago

Poet’s Voice Dies

Sun, 2018-03-18 08:27

Group 1 winner and promising young sire Poet’s Voice (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}-Bright Tiara, by Chief’s Crown) died Saturday aged 11 at Darley’s Dalham Hall Stud after suffering a heart attack.

A homebred for Sheikh Mohammed, Poet’s Voice won the G2 Champagne S. at two and added the G2 Celebration Mile at three before recording a career high in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. over older horses next out. From three crops of racing age he has left behind 13 stakes winners, including German and Australian Group 2 winners Poetic Dream (Ire) and Viridine (Aus); G3 Glorious S. winner Poet’s Word (GB), also runner-up in the G1 Irish Champion and G1 Champion S., and G3 Oh So Sharp S. winner Poet’s Vanity (GB).

Saeed bin Suroor, who trained Poet’s Voice throughout his racing career, said, “I am very sad to hear of the death of Poet’s Voice and my condolences go to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and everyone connected to him at Darley. He was a pleasure to train, always relaxed in his work and gave his best throughout his career. His victory in the QEII S. was very special indeed.”

Sam Bullard, Darley’s director of stallions, said, “Poet’s Voice has been a great servant and will be greatly missed by the team here at Dalham Hall Stud. He has been a reliable source of winners for breeders and he enjoyed a wonderful year in 2017 with his 2-year-olds and of course Poet’s Word, who we hope will continue to fly the flag for his sire this year.”

Hard to ‘Fault’ This Daughter of Blame

Sat, 2018-03-17 19:54

Fault, heroine of the grassy GII Buena Vista S. Feb. 17, made it two-for-two in Southern California since transferring to the Phil D’Amato barn.

Claimed for $50,000 by Agave Racing Stable and trainer Michelle Lovell out of a winning effort at Churchill last May, Fault captured Arlington’s GIII Pucker Up S. in August. She closed out the campaign with a troubled fourth-place finish in the Pago Hop S. at Fair Grounds Dec. 30.

Drawn widest of all in post 10 here, the second choice took the first turn about five wide and raced in seventh through fractions of :22.92 and :46.79. She began to roll with a flashy, sweeping move on the far turn and showed no signs of slowing down in the stretch, storming home to a dominating victory.

Fault was making her first start on dirt since finishing a well-beaten fourth in an optional claimer at Fair Grounds last February.

Pedigree Notes:

Out of SW Charming N Lovable, Fault is a half-sibling to GIII Iowa Derby runner-up Betweenhereandcool (Unbridled’s Song) and SP Congenial (Pulpit). Charming N Lovable, a half-sister to GSW & GISP Mananan McLir (Royal Academy), is responsible for the unraced 3-year-old colt Iron Cor (Orb); a juvenile filly by Lookin at Lucky; and a yearling filly by Orb. She was bred back to Runhappy. Charming N Lovable, purchased by Claiborne Farm for $500,000 at the 2007 KEENOV Sale, RNA’d for $70,000 at last year’s KEENOV Sale.

Saturday, Santa Anita
SANTA MARGARITA S.-GI, $401,725, SA, 3-17, 4yo/up, f/m,
1 1/8m, 1:50.58, ft.
1–FAULT, 120, f, 4, by Blame
1st Dam: Charming N Lovable (SW, $146,240), by Horse Chestnut (SAf)
2nd Dam: St Lucinda, by St. Jovite
3rd Dam: Majestic Nature, by Majestic Prince
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($120,000 Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O-Agave Racing
Stable & Little Red Feather Racing; B-Claiborne Farm (KY);
T-Philip D’Amato; J-Geovanni Franco. $240,000. Lifetime
Record: 15-5-3-2, $558,795. *1/2 to Congenial (Pulpit), SP,
$254,610; Betweenhereandcool (Unbridled’s Song), GSP,
$276,611. Werk Nick Rating: C+. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Mended, 120, m, 5, by Broken Vow
1st Dam: Fair and Square, by Awesome Again
2nd Dam: Untarnished, by Unbridled
3rd Dam: Banshee Winds, by Known Fact
($45,000 Wlg ’13 KEENOV; $6,500 Ylg ’14 FTKOCT). O-Troy &
Maritza Onorato; B-Sheltowee Farm, Mariah Thoroughbreds
LLC & Pin Oak Stud LLC (KY); T-John F. Martin. $80,000.
3–Mopotism, 120, f, 4, by Uncle Mo
1st Dam: Peppy Rafaela, by Bernardini
2nd Dam: Peppy Lapeau, by French Deputy
3rd Dam: Peppy Raja, by Raja Baba
($135,000 Wlg ’14 KEENOV; $200,000 Ylg ’15 FTSAUG;
$300,000 2yo ’16 FTFMAR). O-Reddam Racing LLC; B-Frank T.
Batten (KY); T-Doug F. O’Neill. $48,000.
Margins: 6HF, 2 1/4, NO. Odds: 3.50, 7.30, 1.70.
Also Ran: La Force (Ger), Majestic Heat, Turkish Tabby, Dalsaros, Eccentric Spinster, Mistressofthenight, Bishop’s Pond.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

‘Rising Star’ Magnum Moon Out of This World in Rebel

Sat, 2018-03-17 19:39

‘TDN Rising Star’ Magnum Moon (Malibu Moon–Dazzling Song, by Unbridled’s Song) remained unbeaten while running away with Saturday’s GII Rebel S. at Oaklawn Park.

The 3-1 shot, an optional claiming winner in his two-turn bow at Tampa Feb. 15, chased from a three-wide third through fractions of :23.42 and :47.15. He hit the gas at the top of the stretch and leveled off nicely late after drifting out some down the lane to score by five lengths.

Favored Solomini (Curlin) was second; Combatant (Scat Daddy) was third.

The final time was 1:42.68. Sales history: $380,000 yrl ’16 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0. O-Robert E. & Lawana Low; B-Ramona S. Bass LLC (Ky); T-Todd Pletcher.

Saturday, Oaklawn Park
REBEL S.-GII, $900,000, OP, 3-17, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:42.68, ft.
1–MAGNUM MOON, 115, c, 3, by Malibu Moon
1st Dam: Dazzling Song, by Unbridled’s Song
2nd Dam: Win McCool, by Giant’s Causeway
3rd Dam: Win Crafty Lady, by Crafty Prospector
WIN. ($380,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP). O-Lawana & Robert Low;
B-Ramona S. Bass, LLC (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher; J-Luis Saez.
$540,000. Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0, $577,800. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick Rating: A+++
*Triple Plus*.
2–Solomini, 115, c, 3, Curlin–Surf Song, by Storm Cat.
($270,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP). O-Zayat Stables, LLC, Mrs. John
Magnier, Michael B. Tabor & Derrick Smith; B-Glenna R. Salyer
(KY); T-Bob Baffert. $180,000.
3–Combatant, 115, c, 3, Scat Daddy–Border Dispute, by
Boundary. ($320,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP). O-Winchell
Thoroughbreds LLC and Willis Horton Racing LLC; B-Paget
Bloodstock (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen. $90,000.
Margins: 3HF, HD, 1HF. Odds: 3.00, 1.10, 8.40.
Also Ran: Title Ready, Sporting Chance, Zing Zang, High North, Higher Power, Pryor, Curlin’s Honor. Scratched: Bode’s Maker.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


Proud Citizen Colt Just Gets Up in Jeff Ruby Steaks

Sat, 2018-03-17 18:47

Blended Citizen broke his maiden at fifth asking on the Del Mar lawn last November, and checked in fourth in Santa Anita’s Eddie Logan S. Dec. 29 behind two next-out stakes winners. He tried a synthetic surface for the first time when third behind filly Paved (Quality Road) in the Feb. 17 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate, and was getting first-time blinkers in this wide-open affair.

Acting up before the latch was sprung, the bay was pushed hard from the gate to find a spot behind the leaders in the scramble into the first turn. He sat midpack in between foes down the backside, and was ridden along to get closer as El Camino Real Derby fourth Mugaritz (Dialed In) had built up a sizable advantage approaching the stretch. Staying inside as one of five or six in with a chance, he was able to sneak inside of the fading frontrunner as that one shied slightly from left-handed encouragement. Pony Up had built up a full head of steam further out, but Blended Citizen kept finding along the fence to earn the decision.

“We broke a little quicker and we were a lot closer than I expected, and I had to steady a bit because the outside horse closed in on us early in the race,” said winning pilot Kyle Frey. “I wasn’t too worried about it. I pulled out of there and waited. At about the half-mile pole, it seemed like the race just started to fall apart. As things opened up, I just let Jesus take the wheel. With the way he was moving, all I needed was an opening and I got it.”

Assistant trainer Octavio Vergara added, “I knew he would run good! Last time out, he should have won the El Camino Real Derby, but he got stopped twice. Doug O’Neill sent him here to win and get into the [GI] Kentucky Derby.”

Saturday, Turfway Park
JEFF RUBY STEAKS-GIII, $202,400, TP, 3-17, 3yo, 1 1/8m (AWT), :00.00, ft.
1–BLENDED CITIZEN, 123, c, 3, by Proud Citizen
1st Dam: Langara Lass (MSW & GSP, $190,418),
by Langfuhr
2nd Dam: Capilano, by Demons Begone
3rd Dam: Bella Isabella, by Conquistador Cielo
RNA Ylg ’16 KEESEP; $85,000 2yo ’17 OBSMAR). O-Greg Hall &
Sayjay Racing, LLC; B-Ray Hanson (KY); T-Doug F. O’Neill; J-Kyle
Frey. $113,000. Lifetime Record: 8-2-0-2, $167,054. *Full to
Battlefield Angel, SW & GISP, $149,030; and a half to Lookin at
Lee (Lookin at Lucky), SW & MGISP, $1,058,145. Werk Nick
Rating: A++. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Pony Up, 123, c, 3, Aikenite–A. P. Petal, by A.P. Indy.
O/B-Calumet Farm (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $37,800.
3–Arawak, 123, c, 3, Uncle Mo–Spicy Teddy, by Spanish Steps.
($200,000 Ylg ’16 FTKJUL). O-R3 Racing LLC, Steven Keh & C T R
Stables LLC; B-Parrish Hill Farm & Ashford Stud (KY); T-Wesley
A. Ward. $19,000.
Margins: NK, 1, 1. Odds: 6.20, 6.30, 12.90.
Also Ran: Zanesville, Mugaritz, Sky Promise, Cash Call Kitten, Ride a Comet, Dreamer’s Point, Magicalmeister, Archaggelos, Hazit. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Pedigree Notes:

Blended Citizen is a half-brother to last year’s late-running GI Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee (Lookin At Lucky). His second dam was a multiple stakes winner on the Pacific Northwest/Western Canada circuit, and in addition to dam Langara Lass was also responsible for that’s one’s full sister and GSW Madeira Park. Langara Lass has a yearling filly by Fort Larned and was bred back to Liam’s Map.


Weisbord to Retire

Sat, 2018-03-17 16:05

Barry Weisbord will retire from his role as President and Co-publisher of the Thoroughbred Daily News, effective Sunday, Mar. 18, the paper has announced.

“At this point in my life, I am looking forward to spending more time with my 10-year-old daughter, Juliette, and to pursuing other personal and business ventures,” said Weisbord.

Sue Finley, Weisbord’s longtime business partner and co-owner and co-publisher of the paper, will assume the role of sole publisher and President. Gary King will operate alongside Finley in the overall management of the company, while also continuing in his role of Vice President of International Operations, overseeing the TDN‘s European and international activity. Finley and King will be responsible for all editorial, commercial and business decisions.

“We look forward to continuing to drive innovation at the TDN, which has undergone tremendous transformation in the past years while continuing to serve the daily informational needs of the bloodstock community,” said Finley. “We have an incredibly dedicated and talented staff–the best in the business–and we’ll continue to push the envelope and be at the forefront of change.”

“I’m delighted to take on this role at the TDN,” said King. “We have assembled a brilliant team, and I’m extremely proud of the product produced 363 days a year. It’s a testament to the hard work, dedication and ability of everyone involved. We have some exciting plans in the pipeline as well.”

Weisbord and Finley have co-owned and jointly operated the TDN since 1993, when they relocated it from Lexington, KY to Red Bank, NJ.

Barry Weisbord: One Last Letter from the Publisher

Sat, 2018-03-17 16:02

Over 30 years ago, I got involved in the daily information business. To help facilitate more trading of stallion shares and seasons on Matchmaker, we started to provide European stakes results on our closed-end computer system delivered over modems.

When Matchmaker ended, we kept the slightly expanded daily information going by subscription, and delivered by a new technology–the fax machine–calling our offering Thoroughbred Daily News. I partnered first with Dick Broadbent and the weekly Thoroughbred Times, and then Peter Brant and the Thoroughbred Record. When the ACRS ended, and I was looking for my next project, I bought out Peter and shortly thereafter moved the TDN to New Jersey where Sue Finley had joined my team during ACRS and decided to stay on. It was 1993, and neither of us had much idea of our future.

In the 25 years since, we added more news, information, advertising, killed the subscription model, partnered with the Blood-Horse (our idea), ended the Blood-Horse partnership (their idea), mostly ended the fax delivery (hey, Chuck Fipke!) and morphed to another new technology, the Internet. We built a website, added color, pictures, embedded links with charts and pedigrees, built sire lists and research tools, added breaking news alerts and race videos, then video features, a podcast, built an app, geo-located our information, and started a monthly lifestyle magazine.

This has all been accomplished with the excellent assistance of my publishing partner Sue, who spearheaded many of the content and technical innovations, and the most dedicated, knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff in the industry, both past employees, and those in the present who make up the deepest and most diverse staff we have ever had.

Why am I telling this story? I have decided to make myself more available to my 10-year-old daughter Juliette, who needs her father’s attention more than ever as she approaches adolescence. I plan to spend the kind of time with her that I was unable to with my sons Josh and Brad. It also allows me to spend that time with them now as they navigate their own particular chapters of their lives.

To accomplish this, I am retiring as the publisher of TDN, and passing the baton to Sue and to Gary King, who has ably taken over our international activities.

The responsibility of being the most respected and most interesting information source in the Thoroughbred world will be in good hands.

I am so proud of what we have become and wish our whole team the most successful future. I am not retiring from the Thoroughbred industry. I look forward to letting go of my TDN responsibilities, which will give me more time to spend with my kids, breeding more horses, continuing to chair Trakus, and maybe even being involved in a new project or two. Thank you to all for your support over these many years. It is so very appreciated.


Into Mischief Firster ‘Commands’ Rising Star Badge at Gulfstream

Sat, 2018-03-17 15:59

The very well-bred Central Command (c, 3, Into Mischief–Advance Party, by Empire Maker), the first foal out of an unraced full-sister to GISW Acoma and a half-sister to GISW Arch (Kris S.), graduated in style on debut at Gulfstream Saturday, good for ‘TDN Rising Star’ honors.

Drawn on the rail, the 8-5 favorite found himself in a perfect spot saving ground in fourth through an opening quarter in :22.80. Loaded for bear and awaiting racing room at the top of the stretch, the $575,000 KEESEP yearling purchase was tipped out three-wide by Javier Castellano and kicked away smartly down the lane to score by 4 1/2 lengths. Candygram (Candy Ride {Arg}) was second. It was another 6 1/4 lengths back to First Commander (Medaglia d’Oro) in third.

Central Command, the most expensive of 79 yearlings by Into Mischief to sell in 2016, is the lone produce from his 7-year-old dam. She was bred to Shackleford and Shanghai Bobby last year. His third dam is champion 2-year-old filly Althea (Alydar).

8th-GP, $48,000, Msw, 3-17, 3yo, 6 1/2f, 1:17.42, ft.
CENTRAL COMMAND, c, 3, by Into Mischief
1st Dam: Advance Party, by Empire Maker
2nd Dam: Aurora, by Danzig
3rd Dam: Althea, by Alydar
Sales history: $575,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $28,800. O-Lane’s End Racing; B-Alexander-Groves Thoroughbreds (KY); T-Chad C. Brown. Click for the chart, free catalogue-style pedigree or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


Rebel a ‘Solo’ Act?

Fri, 2018-03-16 18:25

When the racing world last saw Zayat Stables’ Solomini (Curlin), he was the subject of a good deal of controversy. Crossing the wire first in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity Dec. 9, the $270,000 Keeneland September graduate was disqualified to third after a lengthy inquiry, prompting backlash led by the colt’s owners themselves. One week after his stablemate and the chief beneficiary of his Los Al demotion, McKinzie (Street Sense), was taken down in the GII San Felipe S., Solomini will look to avenge that defeat in the GII Rebel S. Saturday at Oaklawn.

A debut winner Sept. 2 at Del Mar, the chestnut was a well-beaten second to San Felipe winner Bolt d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro) in the GI FrontRunner S. Sept. 30 before filling the same slot in the GI Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He returns off a four-plus month break with several bullet workouts for Bob Baffert, capping off preparations with a five-furlong move in :59 flat (1/61) Mar. 10 at Santa Anita. Solomini would represent a remarkable seventh Rebel win in nine years for Baffert should he prevail.

Robert Baker and William Mack’s ‘TDN Rising Star’ Sporting Chance (Tiznow) will look to build off of an encouraging sophomore debut in the GIII Southwest S. here Feb. 19. Chasing a fast pace over a sloppy racetrack, the $575,000 KEESEP buy was steadied in the stretch and held on for third in his first start since capturing the GI Hopeful S. Sept. 4 at Saratoga.

Todd Pletcher made the rare interruption to Baffert’s Rebel dominance last March when he took the trophy with two-for-two ‘Rising Star’ Malagacy (Shackleford). He will attempt to replicate that feat Saturday with Robert and Lawana Low’s two-for-two ‘Rising Star’ Magnum Moon (Malibu Moon). Picked up for $380,000 at KEESEP, the bay earned a 95 Beyer for his debut win Jan. 13 at Gulfstream and annexed a two-turn allowance Feb. 15 at Tampa.

Breeze Easy and John C. Oxley’s Curlin’s Honor (Curlin) will try to stay undefeated in his stakes debut. Bought for an easily sale-topping $1.5 million at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale, the chestnut owns two neck victories from his two starts, scoring last out Feb. 25 in the Fair Grounds slop despite a difficult trip.

TDN Q&A With Martin Panza

Fri, 2018-03-16 15:42

Friday, NYRA announced a starter loyalty program which will pay bonus money to horses that have made at least five starts during the year at a NYRA track. Under the new program, horses can earn Silver- through Diamond-level purse bonuses between 5% and 15% on money earned in a qualifying race, based on their number of starts at NYRA tracks through Apr. 1, 2019.

NYRA also announced an “Under 20s Claiming Challenge” for modest-sized stables to compete for cash prizes during the upcoming 2018 Belmont spring/summer meet. The Under 20s Claiming Challenge is open to all trainers stabled at NYRA facilities with 20 or fewer horses in their care nationwide at the start of the contest on opening day, Friday, Apr. 27. Contestants will earn points based on their horses’ performances in all winners’ claiming races at Belmont through the close of the spring/summer meet on Sunday, July 15.

The TDN reached out to NYRA Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin Panza to find out more about the bonus program and the problems facing racing at all racetracks in their attempts to increase field size.

TDN: Is this program designed to get horses to run more often, period, to get them to race more often at NYRA tracks, or a little of both?

MP: It’s a little bit of both, but mainly driven by the idea of being loyal to people who are running in New York. We could have raised purses by, say $1,000 a race. This is little bit more specific in that it rewards people who are running their horses in New York. We know that 20% of the trainers are wining 85% of the purse money. This allows any New York trainer or any owner to get a purse increase, and the way they do that is by running their horses multiple times at NYRA racetracks. It doesn’t matter if you are Chad Brown or Todd Pletcher or Eddie Barker or Joe Parker. You’ve all got an equal opportunity here and you control your own fate. If the horse runs multiple times during the year at NYRA tracks, you are eligible for purses increases. I’ve got to give credit to Steven Duncker. He is on our board and he brought this up in one of our racing committee meetings. We went back and ran some numbers and it made sense that we try this program and see if it drives business more than, again, by raising every purse by $1,000.

TDN: One way to reduce field size is by racing less often. Why don’t tracks cut their racing dates? Besides reducing the amount of races, what else can be done to raise field size?

MP: Running less often probably would help. Obviously, there have already been a lot of racing dates cut, that is when you compare what we run now versus what we used to run. The foal crop has dropped below 20,000, which is very concerning. We need to work as an industry. We’ve gotten some tax laws passed and there are some really positive reasons from a tax standpoint for people to own horses. We need to get that message out there. We need to get it out there not only to our existing audience but to potential people who are thinking about getting into the business. If you can buy horses at 60 cents on the dollar and participate in the game at 60 cents on the dollar, we need to let people know they can do that. Why give the money to the federal government when you can participate in this game at a discounted rate? That said, we also need to have some meetings among horsemen. I don’t think any trainer is not running a horse that is ready to run, and there are times when we can’t get a race to go. But if horses, on average, just made one more start during the year, this industry would be significantly healthier than what it is today. If you are an owner looking to get into the game and your horse only runs six times a year, it’s pretty hard for that owner to even come close to breaking even. We need to get back to the old days when horses made significantly more starts during the year. We need to work with the horsemen and the owners and try to get them to understand, you’re not going to win every time you run but you can pick up checks and earn money and pay bills. When you do that it helps the tracks generate more handle, which, in turn, increases purses in the long run. We have to get that cycle turned in a different direction.

TDN: Much of this is about mindset. There was one mindset in the fifties, where a trainer had no problem running a horse once a week. There’s a new mindset now where most trainers believe it’s best to give a horse six or seven weeks off between races. How do you go about changing that mindset?

MP: That’s the $1-million question. Horses can run more often. Linda Rice ran Voodoo Song (English Channel) four times at Saratoga and won some significant races, including the GIII Saranac S. They can run more often. In the old days horses ran and they didn’t work. Now everyone needs three or four works in between races and everyone worries about the sheets and if their horse might bounce. When I was working at Hollywood Park, some guys worked their horses so fast that they were bouncing in their works. They might be running nines on the sheets, but they’re working elevens. It made no sense. At the same time you have to leave it up to the trainer to know their horse, which ones can get away with it and which ones can’t. We certainly don’t want horse running that has physical problems and might break down in the race. But, at the same time do they need five works in between races, when they could run every three weeks instead of every six weeks instead? Right now, horses are averaging 6.2 starts per year. If we can work as industry to get to that number up to 6.6 or 6.7 you would see drastic changes so far as business improving at all racetracks. The loyalty program is one way to do that. It’s an incentive for people to maybe make that one extra start and at the same time to reward people to run in New York. If a trainer is thinking of shipping to Delaware or Parx or Laurel to make a start they can still do that, but they will have lost a start in New York. If they had made that start instead in New York it would have gotten them to the next level in our bonus program and would increase their earnings capabilities because they were loyal to New York.

TDN: The magic bullet, so to speak, for many tracks, has been an increase in turf racing, which generally yields bigger fields. Is that a theory that NYRA also believes in?

MP: We have two turf courses at all three of our tracks, so we probably run more turf racing than anyone else during our turf season. It’s not that we want to do that, it’s that we struggle to fill dirt races. I think turf racing is probably kinder to the horses and I have read articles where trainers like Graham Motion and Wesley Ward have been quoted saying that. We handle more money on the turf races and we have larger field sizes. It’s not that we’re trying to kill dirt racing or don’t want dirt racing. We certainly do and it’s a major part of our racing program. But you go for races that will fill and go for field size and turf races are what trainers are entering in. If we wrote a New York-bred $40,000 maiden claimer at one mile on the dirt we’d probably get two entries. If you put the same race on the turf there would be 18 entered. More turf racing is the trend, whether that’s a good thing or not. A lot of our classic races are still on the dirt and we want to make sure dirt races go as well. Racing offices are at the mercy of where horsemen enter. We can offer races but if they don’t go they don’t go. It’s pretty hard to twist arms, especially these days with the limited amount of horses available on your backstretch. They’re going to run wherever they think they have the best chance of winning.

TDN: There was a time when even the biggest trainers in the business had one barn at one racetrack and a max of 30 horses or so. Now, we have the super trainers with 200 horses. Has this trend contributed to the problems we have been discussing?

MP: Certainly the super trainer situation has not been a positive for racing. It’s become more prevalent and more of a problem as the foal crop has dropped. I started in the late eighties out in California when the foal crop was 46,000, 48,000. Trainers were healthy. The middle trainers had a lot of horses because there were just a lot of horses around. The foal crop now is around 19,000-20,000 horses, so there aren’t a lot of horses to go around. With these bigger trainers having 100-200 horses it doesn’t leave a lot of horses for the rest of the group. It’s like when you have that gorgeous boat that you water ski with out on the lake and the lake is full of water. Everything is fine. But when the lake is only half full and there are rocks all over the place you better be careful where you are going. Right now, we’re at that half-full point and that’s exposing a lot of dangers. The super trainer situation: with so many horses in the hands of so few people, becomes a bigger problem as the foal crop continues to drop. You have to question what owners are thinking when they automatically go to these trainers. When you’re the tenth ‘one other than’ in that barn you’re not running more than three or four times a year. You look at the larger trainers and that’s the case with most of those horses. That’s stupidity on the part of an owner. There are plenty of guys that can train and you can pick a smaller trainer, and when I say smaller that doesn’t mean he can’t train, it means he doesn’t have the same numbers. You give that horse to him and that horse might run eight or nine times a year instead of four. And that’s proper management of your asset. A lot of it is self-inflicted wounds. There are plenty of good horsemen out there.


The China Horse Club and the Kentucky Derby: Michael Wallace on the TDN Podcast

Fri, 2018-03-16 14:42

The China Horse Club is a relatively new name in American horse racing, but it has wasted little time letting the world know that it intends on being nothing less than a major player on the U.S. racing scene. The Horse Club had a breakthrough when Abel Tasman, a horse it co-owned with Clearsky Farms, won the 2017 Kentucky Oaks and was named 3-year-old filly champion. It looks like they were just warming up as in Audible, Quip and Justify the China Horse Club has three serious contenders for this year’s Kentucky Derby. Michael Wallace is a big part of the team, the group’s head of bloodstock and racing. He is this week’s guest on the Thoroughbred Daily News podcast, brought to you by Taylor Made.  Click here to listen.

Let’s Not Lose That ‘Elusive’ Versatility

Fri, 2018-03-16 14:42

In terms of his own output, the legacy of Elusive Quality (Gone West) is in pretty safe hands: most notably, those of Quality Road. The question is whether the rest of us can be trusted with it?

For the loss of the Jonabell stallion, earlier this week, extinguishes one of few flickering flames that unite old school breeding with a spirit of adventure and experimentation. Elusive Quality was one of those stallions who dismantled the barriers erected by those who stick nervously to what they know. And in the end, if anything, his versatility probably held him back.

I first came across him when a colt from his debut crop won a maiden at Lingfield in 2002 for my friend Gerard Butler, nowadays assistant to J.J. Pletcher in Ocala. Elusive City went on to win the G2 Richmond S. at Goodwood and the G1 Prix Morny in Deauville, before finishing third to Oasis Dream in the G1 Middle Park S.

Up and running with a precocious turf sprinter, from his next crop Smarty Jones emerged out of Pennsylvania to win the GI Kentucky Derby and then, by 11 1/2 lengths, the GI Preakness, before being reeled in late in the GI Belmont.

Then came Raven’s Pass, a top-class miler in Europe who exploited a synthetics window to win the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2008.

That, of course, proved something of a crossroads for the sport. At the time, we Europeans condescended to congratulate the Americans for their enlightened self-sacrifice. In the years since, some of us have repented of our own insularity: recognising not only that dirt racing has too precious a heritage to be renounced on such contentious grounds, but also that the Americans have shown far more enterprise in the meantime.

For while they have found due reward, at Royal Ascot, hardly any European horses (with a few honourable exceptions, chiefly from Ballydoyle) have since risked dirt at the Breeders’ Cup. With this retrenchment, Elusive Quality was left to extend his adaptability to Australia where his stars included Sepoy (Aus). On dirt, meanwhile, Quality Road emerged as a speed-carrying monster, winning the GI Donn H. by 13 lengths—beating the track record he had himself set in the GI Florida Derby—before adding the GI Met Mile and the GI Woodward.

So Elusive Quality showed that transcending the environmental divisions of the international sport was perfectly within the compass of certain sires, if only horsemen had the wit to try. Not all sires, clearly. As it is, however, people continue to hide behind perceived but largely untested incompatibilities; and Elusive Quality rather came to be viewed as neither fish nor fowl.

Yet how valuable are the other bridge-builders? The likes of Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado {Ire}), or War Front (Danzig), or Scat Daddy (Johannesburg)? And why, if their blood is so precious, do so many breeders persist in believing that turf is turf, dirt is dirt, and never the twain shall meet?

Time after time, after all, the breed has been invigorated by transatlantic cross-pollination. It famously took a Kentucky Derby winner in Northern Dancer, for instance, to stoke up a stagnant European gene pool; but he in turn had benefited from E.P. Taylor’s transfusions from Classic bloodlines in Europe.

Straight after Raven’s Pass had won the Classic, Elusive Quality found himself shuttling to Brazil. Unsurprisingly, he proved a big success there. But by the time he was retired last year, his Kentucky fee—raised to $100,000 after his flying start—had dwindled to $30,000. His last three books comprised 66, 55 and 32 mares; nor were his yearlings treated like collector’s items last fall, mustering a median of just $25,000.

Breeding, of course, is full of enigma and variation. Many people scoff at the infinitesimal genetic strands surviving from prized names lurking deeper down a horse’s family tree. Nonetheless some of us find a comfort in a mesh of undiluted class of the kind that underpinned Elusive Quality.

Because it’s the stuff in the foreground, paradoxically, that is most out of focus. Even full siblings can be wildly divided by genetic variation. When a pedigree is held together by one Classic seam after another, however, it barely matters which become unstitched.

To that extent, Elusive Quality proved to have been well named.

On the one hand, true, the quality was there for all to see: his genes were hallmarked top to bottom with sires of the old school. Just as a snapshot, those duplicated across his fourth and fifth generations are Nasrullah, three times; and Native Dancer and Princequillo, twice. Oh yes, and the latter makes Somethingroyal—one of the all-time distaff influences—a shared cornerstone between Elusive Quality’s sire and dam: her son Secretariat is damsire of Gone West; her grandson Sir Ivor, damsire of Touch Of Greatness (Hero’s Honor).

On the other hand, who can say what elusive distillation of all these copper-bottomed influences promoted Elusive Quality—author of precisely two Grade 3 wins, both on turf as a 5-year-old—from a $10,000 start-up to a sire of authentic global reach?

One way or another, anyhow, Native Dancer can be found holding up both sides of Elusive Quality’s pedigree: his grandson Mr Prospector as sire of Gone West, and his daughter Natalma in producing Northern Dancer, whose son Hero’s Honor sired Touch Of Greatness.

The latter united two clans so saturated in Grade 1 performers—significantly, on both dirt and turf—that you can perfectly understand the ambition in her naming, albeit she was ultimately unraced. Her grand-dam, from the Frizette family, was a Broodmare of the Year; and so was the dam of Hero’s Honor, in turn tracing to La Troienne.

All told, then, Elusive Quality brought together a ton of class on both surfaces. Even so, for some people, it all simply boiled down to Gone West—perceived, while contrasting branches were evolving through the likes of Fappiano and Smart Strike, as a conduit of pure Mr Prospector speed. That’s all very well when you consider a son like Speightstown, but Gone West was also sire of turf champions Zafonic, Da Hoss and—over a country estate of lawn—Johar.

Elusive Quality, as a runner, certainly bore the speed brand. The King’s Bishop was only a Grade II when Honour And Glory (Relaunch) clawed him back at the wire, but he was still raw and a horse called Distorted Humor (Forty Niner) was back in third. (No wonder the race got an upgrade soon after.)

At four, Elusive Quality broke the seven-furlong track record at Gulfstream on his reappearance, but he tended to fold when unable to dominate and ultimately it was the switch of surface, the next season, that provided a platform for his marquee achievement: a world record for a mile on turf of 1.31.63.

Though a strapping individual himself, Elusive Quality didn’t always throw lookers at stud. And as a sire of sires he doubtless lost appeal as Smarty Jones collapsed from $100,000 rookie to $7,500. Elusive City quickly became a Classic sire himself, however, and now Quality Road—a more elegant model than his father—is unmistakably breaking into the elite.

First to draw attention to Quality Road, of course, was a Royal Ascot and Breeders’ Cup winner on turf in Hootenanny. He was out of a mare by Hennessy, the sire of a crossover champion in Johannesburg—himself responsible for a transatlantic phenomenon in Scat Daddy. Give Quality Road a Deputy Minister mare, on the other hand, and he’ll get you Abel Tasman.

We have seen how Elusive Quality’s ancestry mixes flavors; and likewise his own contribution to the breed. But so many modern horsemen share a chronic failure of imagination; or at least a failure of nerve. Everyone deplores commercial myopias so long as they don’t have to put their money on the line. At market, however, they prove incorrigible.

But if people won’t risk mixing dirt and turf lines, they’ll end up painting themselves into a corner. Will even the mighty Galileo, who has only translated their sire’s influence on turf, ever match the reach—in terms of geography and racing discipline—of El Prado?

Speaking of Galileo, do remember that among European sires in 2017 the only other sires to exceed the black type winners-to-starters ratio of Raven’s Pass in 2017 were Dubawi, Frankel, Sea The Stars and Tamayuz. Yes, that Raven’s Pass—the one who has taken six fee cuts in a row. No wonder quality is so elusive, when we don’t seem to know where to seek it. Triple Crown Throwdown: Rebel & Jeff Ruby

Fri, 2018-03-16 13:31

Ed DeRosa of takes on TDN’s Steve Sherack and Brian DiDonato as they handicap each prep race leading up to the GI Kentucky Derby. The three will make $100 Win/Place bets – highest bankroll after the Lexington S. wins.

DEROSA: Last Week – We picked up $1,410 last week thanks to Old Time Revival‘s breakthrough effort in the Gotham. For a moment turning for home I thought I was going to clinch this bad boy, but Enticed was clearly best. I don’t want anyone else out of that race going forward. A smaller pittance came from McKinzie‘s “second-place” finish. The DQ talk has been beat to death, so I’ll just be thankful for the $120 to add to my “score.” The Tampa horses continued to underwhelm me on the trail. BANKROLL: $2180.

GII Rebel S. – The Rebel is far more likely to be applicable to the Triple Crown, but the now-called Jeff Ruby Steaks has a full field and has provided big payouts the past two years. All that said, I’m going with chalk in both. I think Solomini solidifies the conventional wisdom that West is best currently. He’s posted a couple triple-digit Brisnet Speed Ratings as a 2-year-old, which easily puts him on top of this group. Selection: #3 Solomini (3-2).

GIII Jeff Ruby S. – I really like Hazit‘s tactical speed, and think it will play even better going 1 1/8 miles on synthetic with Drayden Van Dyke in for the mount. Selection: #7 Hazit (5-1).

SHERACK: Last WeekBoth Vino Rosso and Free Drop Billy were huge disappointments, then the stewards landed the final blow of the day, taking down McKinzie in one of the worst calls I’ve seen in quite some time. Thankfully, it didn’t cost me much. Time to make my move now. BANKROLL: $1170.

GII Rebel S. – Solomini and the unbeaten Magnum Moon both look like very serious players and deserve to vie for favoritism. That being said, I’m going to take a swing on Title Ready, who looked like a different horse in his sophomore debut last month while trying two turns for the first time versus allowance company at Oaklawn for the loaded Asmussen barn. He has speed and the rail, and also picks up Jose Ortiz. Son of More Than Ready is live at a price. Selection: #1 Title Ready (8-1).

GIII Jeff Ruby S. – I always prefer horses with nice grass form in these ‘synthetic’ Triple Crown preps. Pony Up certainly fits that criteria with a huge, come-from-behind second-place finish behind subsequent GIII Sam F. Davis upsetter and GII Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Flameaway in the Kitten’s Joy S. at Gulfstream in early January. Speed Franco also exited that race to win and finish a close second in a pair of Grade III attempts since. Ignore Pony Up’s well-beaten fifth in Audible’s breakthrough GII Holy Bull–this switch to the all-weather and stretch out in distance to 1 1/8 miles (he’s out of an A.P. Indy mare) is going to suit him very well. Selection: #4 Pony Up (6-1).

DIDONATO: Last Week – Two of my plays did nothing, but I guess I got lucky to have Bolt d’Oro put up. That was a tough call either way. Ed’s cutting this thing close all of a sudden so I better come up with something good this week. BANKROLL: $2590.

GII Rebel S. – This might be a start or two too soon for him, but I’m pretty interested in Higher Power going forward. He’s a big, powerful horse who did well to overcome some early trouble and blow by highly regarded ‘TDN Rising Star’ and next-out winner New York Central going a flat mile last time. The more real estate the better for this well-bred half-brother to another ‘Rising Star’ in Alternation. He needs to get faster, but he has every right to. Selection: #5 Higher Power (20-1).

GIII Jeff Ruby S. Archaggelos hasn’t been seen since finishing a disappointing fourth (he was already empty when he checked) in the Display S. up at Woodbine in December, but if anyone’s going to have him ready to go for this it’s Michael Dickinson. His GIII Grey S. win was very convincing, and he really doesn’t have to get much faster, but he should given expected progression. Selection: #3 Archaggelos (6-1).


Wings of Eagles Kin Sets New HK Int’l Sale Record

Fri, 2018-03-16 09:54

A Holy Roman Emperor (Ire) gelded half-brother to 2017 G1 Investec Derby hero Wings of Eagles (Fr) (Pour Moi {GB}) fetched a final bid of HK$11 million (£1,006,423/€1,141,773/A$1,810,647/US$1,402,492) to establish a new record price at Friday’s Hong Kong International Sale conducted in the parade ring at Sha Tin Racecourse. The previous mark of HK$10.5 million was set just last year by a son of Hussonet.

With two late scratches, a total of 26 Northern and Southern Hemisphere 3-year-olds went under the hammer and, as widely expected, it was lot 17 that stole the show. Bred in Great Britain by Mme Aliette Forien, the April foal is a son of 2005 G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches third-place finisher Ysoldina (Fr) (Kendor {Fr}), whose half-brother Belle et Celebre (Fr) (Peintre Celebre) was the winner of the G1 Prix Saint-Alary. Lot 17 was acquired by the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Mark Richards and his team at the 2016 Arqana August Yearling Sale for €130,000 from the consignment of Haras de Montaigu, where Wings of Eagles is standing his first year at stud in 2018. Holy Roman Emperor has been a prolific sire in Hong Kong, accounting for the likes of Designs on Rome (Ire), Beauty Only (Ire) and Rich Tapestry (Ire). John Moore will train for businessman Cheung Kwok Keung.

Eight horses fetched better than HK$6 million, including a Poet’s Voice (GB) three-parts brother to the reliable Catkins (Aus) (Dubawi {Ire}), who was one of two horses to realise HK$7.2 million Friday evening. An A$280,000 graduate of the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, lot 6 was acquired by the Vision Syndicate, who campaigns its horses in Hong Kong with trainer Caspar Fownes.

Kern Dim, who paid HK$6 million in 2016 for a Shamardal gelding that would become ‘TDN Rising Star’ Pakistan Star (Ger), was at it again Friday evening, stretching to HK$7.2 million for a beautiful moving son of Arrowfield Stud’s Not a Single Doubt (Aus). The chestnut, cataloged as lot 14, was an A$210,000 acquisition by the HKJC at Magic Millions two years ago and is out of a half-sister to GSW Moon Dragon (Aus) (Danehill).

Total gross receipts for the sale were HK$135.3 million, good for an average of HK$5,203,846 (+15.3% over 2017) and a median price of HK$4,700,000 (+11.9%), both HKIS records.

The Hong Kong International Sale was held in a night-time slot for the third consecutive year and was preceded by a cocktail reception for guests.

“We are very pleased with tonight’s results, with a number of new marks. The purchase of lot 17 speaks for itself and is a credit to the astute work of the Club’s buying team,” said Andrew Harding, executive director of racing for the HKJC. “They uncovered this horse as a yearling, before Wings Of Eagles soared to Derby glory at Epsom, and its page justified the price. I congratulate Nick Columb and Mark Richards on their expert efforts.”

A second HKIS, including the two horses that were scratched Friday, is scheduled for June.

Saints, Pelicans and Horse Owner Tom Benson Dies at 90

Thu, 2018-03-15 18:27

Tom Benson, the owner of the National Basketball Association’s New Orleans Pelicans, as well as the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League and who late in life tasted success as a Thoroughbred owner, passed away peacefully Thursday, Mar. 15, at Ochsner Medical Center with his wife Gayle Marie Benson at his bedside. He was 90 years old.

Born July 12, 1927 in New Orleans, Benson enrolled at Loyola University (New Orleans) and interrupted his business and accounting education, to enlist in the U.S. Navy, where he was assigned to the USS Dakota. He returned home following the conclusion of World War II to continue his studies.

Having accepted a job in 1948 as a bookkeeper for the Cathey Chevrolet Co., Benson was well on his way to manage a Chevrolet dealership before he had turned 30. In 1962, he took full control of the company, establishing outlets throughout the New Orleans area and extending into South Texas. In 1972, Benson entered the banking business, ultimately taking his company public as Benson Financial World.

When the Saints were on the verge of being sold to parties interested in possible relocation of the franchise, Benson stepped in to purchase the team May 31, 1985. He became one of the league’s most respected owners while serving as the Chairman of the league’s finance committee. New Orleans also became a five-time host of the Super Bowl after his purchase.

In 2012, Benson purchased the NBA franchise, then known as the Hornets, and rebranded and renamed it the New Orleans Pelicans. Benson is also well respected for his philanthropic undertakings, routinely putting significant sums of money back into local communities.

According to Equibase statistics, Benson, racing under his GMB Racing banner, won 16 races from 95 starters and earned better than $2.1 million in purse money. His top runners were 2016 GII Woody Stephens S. winner Tom’s Ready (More Than Ready) and Mo Tom (Uncle Mo), victorious in the 2016 GIII Lecomte S. His horses were trained primarily by Tom Amoss and Dallas Stewart.

Details regarding a public visitation and funeral arrangements are forthcoming.


‘Bolt’ to Retain Castellano for Santa Anita Derby

Thu, 2018-03-15 16:21

Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who earned a victory via disqualification in a dramatic running of the GII San Felipe S. aboard Bolt d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro), will return to Santa Anita to ride the colt in the GI Santa Anita Derby Apr. 7, owner/trainer Mick Ruis said Thursday. Castellano and Bolt d’Oro crossed the wire a head short of McKinzie (Street Sense) and pilot Mike Smith in the San Felipe, but Bolt d’Oro was promoted to first after McKinzie was disqualified for interference in deep stretch.

“Bolt is doing fantastic,” Ruis said. “He’s eating everything up, he’s 100% sound and he’s as healthy as he was going in [to the San Felipe], which was 100%. Hopefully, he’ll move up off that race because he really needed it. He was about 80% [fit] for the San Felipe–everybody knows that.”


Breeders’ Cup Meets, Decides Against Split Events

Thu, 2018-03-15 16:06

The Breeders’ Cup board of directors met Thursday in Lexington to discuss the possibility of dividing its event into two separate race days in November and December, but ultimately the idea was dropped, according to a statement released by the Breeders’ Cup Thursday afternoon. According to a Wednesday report in the Daily Racing Form, the suggested concept would have moved four races–including the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic–to a card on a later-than-usual date in December.

“The Breeders’ Cup Board of Directors met today and among the items under discussion was a ‘bifurcation’ concept generated by the Company’s Innovation Committee,” read the statement issued by Breeders’ Cup Limited. “While the Board determined not to proceed with the concept under consideration, we continue to welcome and encourage the consideration of new ideas and affirm that healthy debate on those ideas will be a positive for both the Breeders’ Cup and international Thoroughbred racing. Breeders’ Cup will have no further comment on this matter.”

In addition to the Classic, the Racing Form reported that the pair of dirt races for juveniles would have joined the Classic on the December card. Previous reports indicated that the Classic would have also become a follow-up race to a possible $3-million “Breeders’ Cup Derby” restricted to 3-year-olds.


Winx Joint Top-Rated

Thu, 2018-03-15 14:22

Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}) is joint top-rated at 129 with American Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) for the first edition of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings of 2018. Winx earned that mark for her seven-length win in the G1 Chipping Norton S. on Mar. 3, while the now-retired Gun Runner was assigned the same mark for his career-closing victory in the GI Pegasus World Cup in January. The Pegasus second and U.S. champion 3-year-old colt, West Coast (Flatter), is third on 124 while Happy Clapper (Aus) (Teofilo {Ire}) and Redkirk Warrior (GB) (Notnowcato {GB}), who both won Group 1s in Australia last weekend, are a joint fourth on 121.

Maker, Ramsey to Stable at Woodbine

Thu, 2018-03-15 12:32

Trainer Mike Maker is planning to run a string of horses at Woodbine for the first time in 2018, and his principal owner Ken Ramsey is hoping it results in another Queen’s Plate victory.

Maker plans to stable about 20-25 horses, about a third of them owned by Ramsey and his wife, Sarah, at Woodbine. The trio celebrated a win in the 2016 Queen’s Plate with Sir Dudley Digges (Gio Ponti), who was victorious in the recent Barbados Gold Cup with stablemate Shining Copper (Aragorn {Ire}) second. It was the third win in the race for the Ramseys, who also have two seconds.

Many of the horses that will be shipped are Canadian-breds. The Ramseys have four horses eligible for the Plate, the top one being Hemp Hemp Hurray (Artie Schiller), trained by Wesley Ward and listed at 25-1 in the Queen’s Plate theoretical winterbook odds. Ward will train the horse in the U.S. and ship to Canada for the Plate.

Maker trainee Queen’s Fate (Artie Schiller), owned by Maxis Stable, is being pointed to the Woodbine Oaks.

“We’ve had some good luck [at Woodbine] the last couple of years and I felt rather than ship every couple weeks with a horse I figured I might as well stay with some horses there and hopefully pick us some business with some Canadian clients and so forth,” Maker said. “Our stable is unbalanced as far as grass horses and poly [synthetic] horses go, so I figured it would be a good fit.”

Ken Ramsey said when Maker approached him about his plan to run a string at Woodbine, he supported the move, thinking Sir Dudley Digges would likely have a shot to win a stakes or two.

“I’ve got a whole lot of horses by my sire Kitten’s Joy and they run really well on the synthetic surface and they also run well on the turf course, so I think the Kitten’s Joys will run well at Woodbine,” Ramsey said. “I enjoy trying to win on an international basis. We’ve on races in [many countries]. To me, it’s a challenge to go up and try to win the Queen’s Plate and [GI] E.P. Taylor and whatever they have up there that would be a challenge for us. Mike wants to go, so I threw my hat in and said I’ll be glad to send some horses with him.”

In addition to Sir Dudley Digges, the Ramseys and Maker have had some success in other prominent Canadian races. They won the 2016 E.P. Taylor with Al’s Gal (English Channel) and finished second last year in the race with Kitten’s Roar (Kitten’s Joy). They also placed second in the GI Pattison Canadian International S. with Oscar Nominated (Kitten’s Joy).

The Ramseys placed fourth in the 2014 Plate with We Miss Artie (Artie Schiller), the pre-race favorite who was done in by a poor start. We Miss Artie stood in Canada as a stallion for a time and is now based at the Ramseys’ farm in Kentucky.

“We enjoy winning a race like the Queen’s Plate,” he said. “They treated me well when I won it. I got to go in the room where [Queen’s Elizabeth II] goes when she attends the races up there. I got to say a few thousand words about E.P. Taylor and Northern Dancer because the Northern Dancer mares fit really well with Kitten’s Joy, so we’ve had great success with that nick.

“I probably don’t have the horse to [win] this year, but we’re going up there to give it a try. I’ve been looking to buy a few yearlings or 2-year-olds in training, so I always check the Canadian-breds to see if I could pick one to get the job done for me the second time.”

The horses are expected to be shipped in the next few weeks. Woodbine’s season opens April 21.

Maker’s assistant, Nolan Ramsey, grandson of Ken and Sarah, will oversee the Woodbine division. Maker has about a handful of divisions running at the same time at different tracks from his overall stable of 150 horses.

Ramsey said he had a secondary reason to support Maker’s plan. Nolan Ramsey is engaged to former rider, Katie Clawson, who was runnerup for the 2017 Eclipse Award for Apprentice Jockey. She had to retire from racing because of concussion issues.

“They’re going to be up the entire meet, so I’ve got to support them a little bit,” he said.


Shamardal Half To Solow Impresses On Chantilly Bow

Thu, 2018-03-15 10:50

2nd-CHY, €25,000, Debutantes, 3-15, 3yo, f, 8f (AWT), 1:41.78, st.
LUNCH LADY (GB) (f, 3, Shamardal–High Maintenance {Fr} {GSP-Fr, $115,823}, by Highest Honor {Fr}), a half-sister to Solow (GB) (Singspiel {Ire}), Hwt. Older Horse-Eur/Fr/UAE at 7-9 1/2f, MG1SW-Eng, G1SW-Fr & UAE, $6,287,999. was sent off the 13-10 favourite and proved difficult to load before breaking well to travel easily in fourth. Sent to the lead approaching the furlong pole, the homebred stayed on strongly to win with authority by 4 1/2 lengths from Ghabnah (Fr) (Equiano {Fr}). Solow was the first foal out of the dam, who had the stamina to finish third in the G3 Prix Gladiateur, and it was no surprise that he was initially campaigned over middle distances by this stable. It was only when Freddy Head dropped him to around this trip that he turned himself inside out, memorably winning the G1 Prix d’Ispahan, G1 World Dubai Turf, G1 Queen Elizabeth II S., G1 Sussex S. and G1 Queen Anne S. Under the G2 Prix de Royallieu-winning second dam Fabulous Hostess (Fabulous Dancer) are the likes of the GIII Northern Dancer S. winner Colizeo (Distorted Humor), while the family features last year’s Listed Rose Bowl S. winner and G2 Lowther S. and G1 Cheveley Park S.-paced Madeline (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) and Thistle Bird (GB) (Selkirk) who took the G1 Pretty Polly S. Next to come from High Maintenance is the 2-year-old filly High Profile (GB) (Dansili {GB}) and a yearling colt by Dubawi (Ire) named Salesman (Ire). Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, €12,500. Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O/B-Wertheimer et Frere (GB); T-Freddy Head.

‘Mo’ Filly, ‘Mandate’ Colt Top OBSMAR Finale

Wed, 2018-03-14 19:38

The seemingly ever-recent market trend of strength at the top and hit-or-miss results in the middle and lower segments continued during the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s March Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, which concluded Wednesday.

Gross receipts for the two-day auction were $42,592,000 compared to $56,510,000 in 2017 when a catalogue with 104 more horses saw 47 more sell. The 2018 cumulative average was $167,685, down 10.7% from last year’s record of $187,741, while the median rose by 15.8% to $110,000 from $95,000. The RNA rate was 30% for the sale, compared to 27.3% last year after all post-sale transactions were added into the 2017 numbers. Because of OBS’s policy of updating statistics to include subsequent private sales, the RNA rate and other statistics are something of a moving target and are therefore somewhat inexact to compare year over year. Tuesday’s buyback rate, for example, had already dropped from 38% to 30% since the prior evening.

The average price Wednesday was $174,444 and the median was $120,000. The RNA rate was 29.2%.

A pair of $775,000 juveniles were tied for Wednesday’s priciest: a Strong Mandate colt consigned by Wavertree Stables, Agent V, and purchased by Carolyn Wilson; and an Uncle Mo filly picked up by agents Solis and Litt on behalf of LNJ Foxwoods out of the Eddie Woods consignment.

Wilson, Rivelli Hoping to be BC-Bound Again…

Owner Carolyn Wilson and trainer Larry Rivelli’s trips to OBS in 2016 and 2017 translated into starts in the Breeders’ Cup, and they’re hoping to be heading to Churchill for the 2018 world championships with hip 447. The member of Grade I-winning juvenile Strong Mandate (Tiznow)’s first crop was consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables, Agent V and cost $775,000 after a very flashy :9 4/5 co-bullet breeze (Click for ThoroStride video).

Wavertree also sold Wilson her prior Breeders’ Cup starters: TDN Rising StarWellabled (Shackleford), a $340,000 OBS April grad who took the 2016 GIII Arlington-Washington Futurity S. and competed in that year’s GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf; and The Tabulator (Dialed In), who cost $460,000 last March and went three-for-three in the GIII Iroquois S. before most recently finishing fifth in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

“He was the best-looking horse in the sale, In my opinion, no doubt,” Rivelli said. “It was the most athletic breeze–it looked like he did it about as easy as you could do it. These past two years we’ve made the Breeders’ Cup with two that we picked who were pretty nice-priced horses, so we’re hoping now we can win one.”

Hip 447 was a $37,000 Keeneland November weanling and $47,000 OBS Winter Mixed Sale buy-back. His four-time-winning Majestic Warrior dam is half to juvenile stakes winner Tiz Blessed (Tiznow).

Of paying that much for a horse by a popular, but still unproven sire, Rivelli said, “He’s a son of Tiznow, so you’re hoping that some of that rubs off. If you had to pick out an individual in terms of looks–I’ve seen a million horses in my time–[hip 447] was a beauty. He looks like a 3-year-old.”

Rivelli noted the number of RNAs at this sale overall, and hypothesized that it could have been due to how much pinhookers had to spend for yearlings last year.

“It’s kind of the same at this sale,” he said. “The good ones go for a lot of money and the other ones kind of fall through the cracks. There have been a lot of buy-backs, too. I think that the yearling sales were nuts last year with what they were giving for horses.” @BDiDonatoTDN

LNJ Back for ‘Mo’

A day after selling an $850,000 colt by Pioneerof the Nile (Hip 151), the Roth family’s LNJ Foxwoods brought home a 2-year-old filly by Uncle Mo for a session co-topping $775,000 at OBS March.

Purchased by Expo Racing for $200,000 as a KEESEP yearling, the bay was consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent XLV, as Hip 459. She worked a quarter in :21 2/5 at the breeze show.

Agents Alex Solis II and Jason Litt did their bidding while standing by the wall on the left side of the ring.

“She worked fantastic,” Solis said. “Eddie’s had her all winter and he kept on telling us how good of a filly she was.”

Hip 459 was bred in Kentucky by Atlas Farm and Conor Doyle. The half-sister to GSW Southern Honey (Colonel John) and MSW Cali Thirty Seven (Eskendereya) is out of the unraced Carson City mare Mama Tia. ‘TDN Rising Star’ and last term’s GI Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity winner McKinzie (Street Sense), disqualified from first and placed second in a wild renewal of last weekend’s GII San Felipe S., appears on the page under the second dam.

“She had a nice update in McKinzie,” Solis said. “I watched her work on the farm and she worked phenomenal on the dirt. We’re excited. She’s a May foal–I think she’ll grow up a lot. She’s a nice filly.”

A decision on a trainer will be made later, per Solis.


White Birch Adds’Quality’ to the Stable

Peter Brant of White Birch Farm, back in the game in a big way after a long hiatus, continued his recent shopping spree at OBS March Wednesday, landing a Quality Road filly for $750,000.

Brant, of course, campaigned 1988 homebred champion sprinter Gulch before shifting his attention to polo. He bought 13 yearlings at Keeneland September alone for gross receipts of $6.46 million in 2017, including a $1-million colt by the aforementioned Lane’s End stallion in partnership with Coolmore.

“That was going to be our absolute max–she’s quite a nice filly,” said trainer Chad Brown after signing the ticket out back.

Hip 439 was consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent XVI, on behalf of Bradley Thoroughbreds. Bred in Kentucky by Three Chimneys Farm, the :20 4/5 breezer RNA’d for $175,000 at KEESEP. Hip 439 is the first foal out of the winning Not For Love mare Love This Kitty, a half-sister to GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile turf hero Hootenanny (Quality Road). This Edward P. Evans family also includes GI Prioress S. heroine Cat Moves (Tale of the Cat).

Recent impressive 3-year-old filly debut winner at Santa Anita Well Hello is also by Quality Road out of a Not For Love mare.

“We’ve had a lot of luck getting horses off Eddie [Woods] last year,” Brown said. “Mr. Brant bought a nice filly named Significant Form [winner of last year’s GIII Miss Grillo S.] off him [for $575,000] at OBS April. We really liked this horse and Eddie has a lot of confidence in her. She’s going to fit right in with what Mr. Brant is looking to do–race at a high level and also build a really good broodmare band for the future.”


More Than Ready Filly Heading to Asmussen…

A More Than Ready filly (hip 420) consigned by Ocala Stud will be heading to Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen’s barn after the Phoenix Thoroughbreds team scooped her up for $625,000. The :20 3/5 breezer was bred by the Heath family’s Centaur Farm and bought back for $77,000 as a Keeneland September yearling.

“We know a little bit about [More Than Ready], Steve loved him and he’s trained about a hundred of them,” said Phoenix’s U.S. director of operations Tom Ludt, who was president of Vinery when More Than Ready stood there. “She’s very racey and we’re hoping to get lucky.”

Out of graded stakes-placed juvenile La Song (Unbridled’s Song), who Centaur purchased for $225,000 in foal to Animal Kingdom at KEENOV ’14, hip 420 hails from the female family of Grade I-winning 2-year-old Currency Swap. The More Than Ready–Unbridled’s Song cross has produced the likes of Asmussen trainee and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Copper Bullet, who won last year’s GII Saratoga Special S.

Ludt said that he hadn’t paid much attention to the market overall, but was pleased with how Phoenix had fared: “We stopped on one, so we’re three for four. We’re happy.”

The Dubai-based Thoroughbred investment fund picked up two other fillies Tuesday for an overall outlay of $1.9 million to be top buyer. @BDiDonatoTDN

‘Real’ Big Pinhook Score for Hoppel…

Patrick Hoppel of Hoppel’s Horse & Cattle Co. enjoyed one of the biggest pinhook scores of the OBS March Sale when trainer Mark Casse went to $675,000 to acquire hip 479, a big-striding :21 2/5 breezer from the first crop of multiple Grade I-winning grasser Real Solution (Kitten’s Joy). Hoppel purchased the Ken and Sarah Ramsey-bred May 4 foal for just $32,000 at Keeneland September. The bay is a half to GSW Noble Beauty (Kitten’s Joy) and MSW Adorable Miss (Kitten’s Joy). His second dam is Grade I winner Favorite Funtime (Seeking the Gold).

“He’d gotten a lot of action–we thought he’d sell well–but to say we expected that, no. We thought he’d be in the $300,000 range,” said Hoppel. “He was just all frame and a raw horse [as a yearling]. I knew there was a lot of run there. If we could keep him in one piece, he could do that.”

Real Solution began his stud career in Kentucky at Calumet Farm, but was leased out for the 2018 breeding season by Blue Star Racing in Louisiana, where he’s commanding a $5,000 fee. Real Solution’s 2017 yearling average was just $18,733, but he wasn’t a one-hit wonder at OBS March. Hip 285, another colt who breezed in a snappy :20 3/5, was purchased by Klaravich Stable for $325,000 during Tuesday’s first session. That Top Line-consigned, $60,000 Fasig-Tipton Turf Sale pick-up by Zayat Stables is kin to another Kitten’s Joy graded stakes winner in Kitten Kaboodle.

“It made me know that at least they were looking at the sire,” Hoppel said when asked if seeing how hip 285 sold gave him added confidence. “No doubt this was a surprise, but he’s real special, that horse. We’ve always known that. My son Cody trained him most of the winter.” @BDiDonatoTDN

Mixed Results for Ocala Stud, Among Others…

While Ocala Stud sold the aforementioned hip 420 for $625,000, the O’Farrell family’s operation saw hip 385–a Tapit colt who covered a quarter mile in :21 2/5–fail to meet his reserve at $725,000.

“The market carried her,” David O’Farrell said after hip 420 sold. “She’s a really nice filly. She breezed exceptionally well, showed herself with class, vetted. A lot of the elite buyers who are here were interested in her. We set a low reserve and the market carried her from there. We’re very happy with the result. We sold her for some of our best long-term clients. They had originally entered her in the Keeneland September sale. She was immature, she didn’t get sold, she came to the farm, and from that day forward she went the right way. She’s blossomed into a nice filly and she can just flat out run.”

Like hip 420, hip 385 is also out of an Unbridled’s Song mare in Peter Blum’s multiple stakes-winning turf sprinter Inspired. Already named Picasso, the Tapit colt was bought back by Blum for $735,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale.

“It was disappointing,” said David O’Farrell. “Here’s a horse who was bred really well by Peter Blum. He got an outstanding individual who had a solid work, a super gallop-out and a perfect set of X-rays. Peter bred everything on the page. He believes in the horse. He didn’t want to give him away and he’s happy to take him and go racing. The horse means more to him than anyone else. He tested the market, the market spoke, and hopefully he proves them wrong.”

O’Farrell, like plenty of others on both the buy and sell side, noted that market dynamics seemed to be a bit off at March.

“It’s been a little bit of a tricky market,” he said. “[Hip 420] was a really nice sale and we sold a nice City Zip yesterday [hip 2, for $250,000]. It’s kind of an all-or-nothing deal. People are enthusiastic and looking for the better horses, but the reality is it takes a really good horse and the good Lord has only put so many on this earth.”

The March sale was switched from a select to more open format for 2015, while the larger OBS April sale has risen in popularity and prominence during that same span.

“The April sale is the sale that everyone really wants to be in,” O’Farrell said. “It gives you more time. When we enter these horses in the March sale it’s December. You really don’t know what you have. You know what you think you like, but you really don’t know what you’ve got. They’re just galloping at that point, and you’re taking a wild guess. They’ve got to have sire power, enough pedigree on the bottom side, and they’ve got to be a nice physical, but you don’t know if they can run or not yet. These horses were entered early on in their training career and you don’t find out what you have until the weeks leading up to the sale. So you better bring a horse you think can cater to the top end of the market. That’s why the April sale is so popular, because not only do you get a broader depth of buyers, but you get another six weeks to train your horses…. It’s just a safer sale. They had to de-select the March sale to attract more entries, but if you look around here, these are buyers here for the $250,000 – half-million-dollar horse and there’s a small percentage that can achieve that type of figure.”


‘Mar’ to Come from Boden Thoroughbreds…

Charlie Boden–the longtime former Head of Sales at Darley–received a timely update for his fledgling bloodstock company when Maraud (Blame) delivered a narrow tally in Gulfstream’s GIII Palm Beach S. earlier this month. He signed the slip on the Treadway Racing Stable colorbearer for $375,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale.

Boden was back at it during the two-day OBS March Sale, purchasing five juveniles for a total of $1.325 million ($265,000 average) on behalf of undisclosed clients.

“Things are good,” Boden said. “We’ve had some early success and I really think the world of Maraud–he’s done everything right.”

Boden’s OBS March purchases include:

Hip 45, f, Munnings–Spring Breeze (:10 1/5), consigned by Wavertree Stables, Inc. (Ciaran Dunne), Agent VIII. Price: $160,000.

Hip 58, f, El Padrino–Stuttgart (:10), consigned by Julie Davies, Agent II. Price: $310,000.

Hip 99, c, Fed Biz–Tulipmania (:21 1/5), consigned by de Meric Sales, Agent VIII. Price: $375,000.

Hip 465, c, City Zip–Meiann (:9 4/5), consigned by Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds LLC, agent. Price: $360,000.

Hip 555, c, Dialed In–Red White and Blue (:10 1/5), consigned by Bobby Dodd, Agent VIII. Price: $120,000.

After a year at Calumet Farm as racing manager and stallion director, Charles H. Boden Thoroughbreds was launched in 2016.

“There is plenty of money at this sale,” Boden said. “This isn’t a one-man job–Gary Young and I are working together. He clocks horses on the frontside and I’m on the backside watching these horses come on and off the racetrack and also listening for any anomalies. I also watch for any behavioral things that might be negatives, too. We look at the videos and head back to the barn to see what we think of the physicals. I saw plenty of nice horses here.”

Boden concluded, “When I get done here, I’ll head back to Kentucky, then flip it around and come back to Miami [for Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream] and OBS April.” –@SteveSherackTDN