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Updated: 1 hour 27 sec ago

The Big Beast Colt, Goldencents Filly Earn Bullets Saturday at OBS

Sat, 2019-03-09 15:22

A colt from the first crop of Grade I-winning Florida-based stallion The Big Beast (Yes It’s True) earned the bullet furlong breeze for both Saturday’s third under-tack show and for the OBS March previews as a whole when he covered an eighth in :9 3/5. The Mar. 10 foal was purchased for $45,000 as an OBS October yearling by Gina Fennell and is consigned to the March sale by L. G., Agent I as hip 418.

A Goldencents filly (hip 399) offered by Tim Hamm’s Blazing Meadows Farm LLC, Agent I matched the fastest quarter-mile clocking when she covered that distance in :20 2/5 without blinkers Saturday. A Super Saver filly from the Woodford Thoroughbreds draft hit the same mark on Friday.

Sale sessions for the March sale will take place Tuesday and Wednesday with selling beginning at 10:30 a.m. For more information, visit www.obssales.com.

Santa Anita to Re-Open Mar. 22

Sat, 2019-03-09 13:48

Barring any further problems with the main track, Santa Anita will resume racing Mar. 22, The Stronach Group’s COO Tim Ritvo told the TDN. In addition, the main track will re-open for training Monday.

Though the track has been deemed ready, TSG delayed the re-opening until Mar. 22 to give horsemen time to get their horses fit after the interruptions in training.

“[Former Santa Anita track superintendent] Dennis Moore thinks the track is perfect,” Ritvo said. “In fact, he said it is 100%. The point is, I think we’re in really good shape.”

The Mar. 9 card that was canceled because of concerns for the track conditions included several stakes races. Ritvo said the GII San Felipe S. will not be run this year. The GI Santa Anita H. will be contested. Ritvo said it will likely be part of the GI Santa Anita Derby card April 6. He said every attempt will be made to reschedule all the races, except the San Felipe, that were scrapped while the track has been shut down.

Since the meet opened Dec. 26, 21 horses have been euthanized, either after training in the morning or during the races. Santa Anita brought in track specialist Mick Peterson and closed the track for training for all but a few hours over a three-day period. After Peterson said he could not find anything wrong with track, Santa Anita resumed racing Feb. 28. After racing resumed, two more horses died and the decision was again made to shut down. Moore, who had only recently retired as Santa Anita’s track superintendent, was then brought in to go over the track and look for problems and solutions.

Once Moore told Stronach executives that he felt the track was safe the decision was made to resume racing Mar. 22.

“Dennis said that if the track were only 99% he’d tell me and he’d fix the 1%,” Ritvo said. “But he is confident the track is 100%.”

For the first few days the main track is open, horses will only be allowed to jog or gallop over it. However, horses will be allowed to work on the training track starting Monday. Ritvo added that if there are any problems once the main track re-opens for training, the decision to race Mar. 22 will be re-evaluated.

With Peterson and Moore both failing to find any problems with the racing surface, the Santa Anita team has concluded that the severe wet weather in recent weeks is at the root of the problems. Santa Anita has had to seal the track on several occasions because of the rain. Ritvo said that, in the future, when there is an overabundance of rain, consideration will be given to canceling racing.

“We are continuing to compile data,” he said. “It’s our belief that these tracks don’t perform well when they have to be sealed. We are considering that if we have a situation where we have a lot of rain and we have to seal the track we may consider not running. It would be almost like a snow day in New York. We worry that the mixture, the combination that makes up this track, unlike the Northeast tracks, is made for the warmer, desert-like weather. And when we have to float it we tighten it up. These horses run over it and they all seem to come back well. We are worried it’s not how they come back that day, it’s what happens to them in the future. We’re going to be much more conscious of the sealed track days and maybe not running.”

Ritvo said that Santa Anita will take several measures to improve its record on safety issues, including hiring a director of equine health and welfare. But most of the track’s efforts to improve safety will revolve morning training. Ritvo noted that more than half of the fatalities occurred in the mornings.

“Morning workouts are never monitored,” he said. “We’re going to be asking people to report and get permission to work. If everything is normal, they’ll be allowed to work. If there are ones with suspicious activity, like inconsistent work patterns, they will be flagged and they would have to be examined before they can work. And there may be some horses we decide we don’t need here anymore. We’re going to try to enhance our protocols in the mornings. We think our protocols are pretty stringent in the afternoon and we think the CHRB and their team have done a really good inspecting horses, so we are going to focus more on making sure the morning activities are more regulated.”

Santa Anita is also looking to enact a rule that after a horse is claimed the previous trainer must turn over its vet records to the new trainer.

“We’ve done this in other jurisdictions,” he said. “When horses get claimed and get passed around the vet records should be passed along with them. Then the new trainer will be able to see some of the issues the prior trainer had to deal with. There was initially some push back to this in Florida, then everybody started to like it.”

When Ritvo was brought to Santa Anita by The Stronach Group his mission was to improve handle. The easiest way to do is to increase field size, even if that means carding more cheap races. Some trainers have said they believed that was part of the problem and that they often felt pressured to run their horses when they might not be fully confident the timing was right.

“No one is ever threatened or ever made to run a horse,” Ritvo said. “Everyone makes their own decision in the end. Obviously, we were pushing for bigger fields because we were losing market share and handle. The customer wants bigger fields. What we did is cheapen up the program a little bit and we took some flak for that. We’ll have to revisit that. All of those criticisms I’ll take and evaluate. I don’t have all the answers. Wherever I go, I try to improve the product, which means getting more purses for the horsemen, which is done by increasing handle with larger fields. We want people to participate. If you have stalls you should run at the track you’re at and not just stable there. The truth of the matter is we want people to participate, but we would never force anyone to run.”

The breakdowns and the closing of the track has been a public relations nightmare for Santa Anita. The problems have received almost daily attention on Los Angeles television stations, the New York Times weighed in with a negative article and there have been protestors outside the track.

Ritvo said that, among insiders, the criticism that bothered him the most was the finger pointing directed at track superintendent Andy LaRocco, who took over for Moore.

“People are saying Dennis wasn’t here and that’s why this happened,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Andy is a top guy. He came in and had to deal with a very difficult situation where there was 16 inches of rain.”

On the mainstream media, Ritvo saw sharks looking for blood.

“Unfortunately, the news media was looking for a train wreck,” he said. “They sit out here and wait for something bad to happen. During the time when we had two Triple Crown winners stabled here, we saw one camera crew. It’s not just racing. It’s every aspect of journalism. Bad news sells and good news doesn’t get the coverage it deserves.”

 

Safety and Welfare Measures To Be Instituted at Santa Anita

Fri, 2019-03-08 20:05

While a thorough investigation and analysis of the Santa Anita main track continues, representatives of The Stronach Group (TSG) have announced that several new safety and welfare initiatives will be put into place whenever racing resumes at the Arcadia, California, oval.

“We’re looking forward to returning to normal, but it will be a new normal,” said Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer, TSG. “The safety of our equine and human athletes remains our highest priority. We need to work together and continue to create not only our own internal audits, but an open and honest dialogue with all of the stakeholders and evaluate best practices at other racetracks around the world.”

Santa Anita will require all trainers to provide 24-hour advance notice to track officials if they intend to breeze a horse, a move designed to allow track veterinarians to assist in identifying possible ‘at-risk’ horses through the evaluation of past performances, workout data and a physical inspection. Additional vets have been hired by Santa Anita to observe all horses entering and exiting the track each morning.

A previously announced change will see the first 15 minutes of training following the opening of the main track reserved exclusively for horses working for an official clocking. According to the track, the decrease in traffic will provide an overall safer environment.

The Stronach Group will for the first time employ a Director of Equine Welfare, a position that will be held by an accredited veterinarian. This individual will be tasked with oversight of all aspects of equine well-being and will front a new ‘Rapid Response’ team for injuries. This group will be responsible for conducting transparent investigations of all factors involving the injury, as well the communication of their findings to the racing and general public.

Santa Anita will also introduce a ‘House Rule’ that will require total transparency with regards to veterinary records. This will mandate that all vet records for a given horse follow that horse through any trainer or ownership change, including a claim or a private sale. A similar rule has worked well at TSG’s Gulfstream Park.

“This has worked very well at Gulfstream Park,” said Ritvo. “There was some pushback from the trainers at first, but this is the best thing for the horse. Now, everyone has bought into the process as they realize they are also on the receiving end of this information intended to understand the full medical history of that horse.”

TSG reiterated its commitment to work with the California Horse Racing Board and other industry stakeholders in evaluating racetrack safety, with a goal of establishing a “culture of health and safety throughout all of the racetracks, creating checks and balances, intervention strategies and working together to identify factors to help mitigate risk to horses and riders.” TSG will continue to engage Dr. Mick Peterson of the University of Kentucky, veteran trackman Dennis Moore and other independent experts to continually review the racing surface.

“Every one of us, from our Chairman and President (TSG) Belinda Stronach, to our employees, to every trainer and owner and person who works in the stable area, we all have deep, deep love for horses,” said Ritvo. “It’s why we get up every day. It’s all about the horses. Human medicine is more advanced than equine medicine, so if there is new technology or equipment that will assist in increasing the ability to discover our pre-existing injuries, we’re going to invest in that technology and bring it to our horsemen.”

Super Saver Filly Gets Fastest Quarter; Dozen Tie for Furlong Bullet at OBS

Fri, 2019-03-08 17:43

A Super Saver filly (hip 305) from the Woodford Thoroughbreds consignment was among the stand-outs during Friday’s under-tack preview for the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s March Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, covering a quarter mile in the day’s fastest clocking of :20 2/5. The $100,000 Fasig-Tipton July acquisition is out of the Grade II-placed Macha (Majestic Warrior). A Super Saver colt earned the :20 1/5 quarter-mile bullet here two years ago and subsequently sold for $625,000. Named Mourinho, he was second in the GII Bob Hope S. and annexed the Smarty Jones S.

Twelve youngsters tied for the fastest furlong breeze of :9 4/5:

Hip 198, a Stay Thirsty colt consigned by Omega Farm, Agent II (video).

Hip 206, an Uncle Mo filly consigned by Sequel Bloodstock on behalf of breeders Chester and Mary Broman (video).

Hip 230, an Into Mischief colt consigned by Halcyon Hammock Farm (video).

Hip 232, a Race Day colt consigned by Top Line Sales LLC, Agent IV (video).

Hip 235, a Discreet Cat colt consigned by Nice and Easy Thoroughbreds (video).

Hip 240, a Bernardini colt consigned by Kings Equine, Agent IX (video).

Hip 255, an Uncaptured filly consigned by S G V Thoroughbreds (video).

Hip 277, a Majestic City filly consigned by de Meric Sales, Agent X (video).

Hip 281, a Midshipman filly consigned by S G V Thoroughbreds (video).

Hip 326, a Secret Circle colt consigned by McKathan Bros., Agent III (video).

Hip 346, an Uncle Mo filly consigned by Top Line Sales LLC, Agent II (video).

Hip 374, a Union Rags filly consigned by de Meric Sales, Agent X (video).

The third and final under-tack session begins Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. Sale sessions Tuesday, Mar. 12 and Wednesday, Mar. 13 begin at 10:30 a.m. For more information, visit www.obssales.com.

Santa Anita, What Next? The Possible Safety Measures to Reduce Fatalities

Fri, 2019-03-08 16:53

After two quiet days, the training track at Santa Anita re-opened Friday morning—an obvious relief to those trainers whose horses have been restricted to exercise around the barn.

But at the forefront of many minds among those present at Santa Anita early Friday morning was the issue of what safety protocols, other than track maintenance, will be instituted to reduce the high fatality rates that have marred the track’s current winter-spring meet.

Indeed, this issue was raised at a trainers meeting Friday morning at Santa Anita, said California Thoroughbred Trainers executive director, Alan Balch.

“There’s no question that the attention is on horsemanship and preparation of horses, and everyone needs to be extremely careful, even in sending horses out to jog, gallop and everything else,” said Balch, when the meeting concluded. “It should go without saying, with an abundance of caution we want to make sure that trainers have a heightened sense of responsibility.”

Balch also said that the horsemen had an “extended conversation” about a number of other safety and racing-related issues, including the condition book, numbers of races, race distances on turf, and intimidation of horsemen to run.

“We as an organization do not have the authority to approve the condition book,” Balch added. “Our understanding is that the [Thoroughbred Owners of California] shares our concerns about number of races, use of the turf course, and the levels of races being run.”

On Thursday, TDN spoke with California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) Executive Director, Rick Baedeker, who explained that Santa Anita and the CHRB could employ a similarly rigorous version of safety initiatives instituted at Del Mar in 2017 to tackle the high numbers of equine fatalities that occurred the year prior. “Reinvigorating the program that was implemented at Del Mar is apparent to all of us,” he said.

Though many of the same initiatives are already in place at Santa Anita, officials explain they haven’t been enforced as intensely as at the San Diego venue.

During the 2016 summer meet at Del Mar, 17 horses were fatally injured during training and racing. During the 2017 summer meet, that number was cut to five. These numbers were again relatively low during last year’s summer meet.

Perhaps the most visible step that Del Mar took in 2017 was to employ veteran track superintendent Dennis Moore to reconfigure the dirt surface to match the geometric shape of Santa Anita’s main track.

On top of that, the facility used the Jockey Club’s InCompass system to provide a daily itinerary of horses that fell within two categories: horses that hadn’t raced for a period of 120 days or more, and those that hadn’t started before four years of age or older. That same list also included other important information, like whether the horse had previously been on the vet’s and Steward’s lists, as well as the date of its last two workouts, the distances and times.

Two additional state veterinarians were drafted in to assist the usual team of official veterinarians to routinely monitor horses flagged a relative risk of catastrophic injury. By the time any flagged horse made it to the usual pre-race examination, they had been seen-typically multiple times-in the preceding weeks and months.

As an additional layer of scrutiny, past performances were pulled on entry day, to identify other horses not included on the daily InCompass list, but whose profiles caused concern. This included horses being dropped in claiming price, and those shipping in from Northern California or out-of-state—horses that hadn’t been previously examined by the track or state veterinarians.

What’s more, the horsemen along with a state veterinarian and safety steward posted on the grounds seven days a week were asked to keep their eyes peeled for any warning signs during training. Interestingly, two official veterinarians were posted at the Santa Anita training track Friday to watch morning exercise.

According to officials, many of the same procedures employed at Del Mar have been in place at Santa Anita. For example, the InCompass system is still used to produce the same list of possible at-risk horses for added scrutiny.

However, these same officials explained that a reduced number of official veterinarians at Santa Anita, as compared to Del Mar, meant these flagged horses weren’t examined as frequently. At Del Mar, for example, a state veterinarian was situated on the racetrack grounds seven days a week. At Santa Anita, an official veterinarian was only required to be on the grounds five days a week.

Balch expresses surprise that the safety measures instituted at Del Mar weren’t enforced as vigorously at Santa Anita. “That’s a surprise, as I thought they were. I don’t know why they wouldn’t be,” said Balch.

“I thought that was standard operating procedure for the racing board now,” Balch added. “We support that [same intensely enforced set of safety policies] 100%.”

Baedeker admitted that a lack of personnel at Santa Anita made the program difficult to maintain at the same level as at the San Diego venue. “Admittedly, we haven’t had as many veterinarians examining the horses as we used to during the Del Mar meets, but that’s a scenario that can be addressed, and will be,” he said. “There’s going to be expense involved, but that’s fine, we have no choice.”

One of the biggest benefits of the intensive pre-race examination system, said Baedeker, was the increased awareness it generated. “The trainers became more used to it,” said Baedeker. “They may not have known a horse they had gotten a month ago had issues. Then they were.”

Baedeker stressed the up-in-the-air nature at the moment behind any possible alterations to safety and integrity protocols at Santa Anita. Mirroring Balch’s comments, Baedeker flagged the Santa Anita condition book as a possible place for change—”restrict the condition book to a degree, so that certain horses in certain races aren’t run,” he said.

Baedeker also raised the possibility of curbing the races on a card to a “reasonable” number. “Those 11 race cards may not be appropriate,” he said.

Baedeker said that the state “can only do so much,” and that “we really need the association to step up. All indications show they are, and they’re willing to do what they can going forward,” he said.”

He added that the CHRB is eager to hear “any idea” that could be employed as a potential fix. The next board meeting is scheduled Mar. 21. “In terms of board action, anything and everything is on the table when it comes to solving this problem,” he said.

TDN reached out to Santa Anita and the TOC for comment on what safety protocols could be employed in the immediate future at Santa Anita. This story will be updated if necessary.

TwinSpires.com Road to the Triple Crown Throwdown: TB Derby, Gotham, Jeff Ruby Steaks

Fri, 2019-03-08 16:19

Ed DeRosa of TwinSpires.com 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 Arkansas Derby/Lexington day wins.

DiDonato: GII Fountain of Youth S. Bourbon War (+$250) obviously got a set-up, but he ran a very nice race to be a fast-finishing second. Bankroll: $9420.

GII Tampa Bay Derby The Right Path strikes me as a horse who will clearly appreciate two turns. He looked good winning his six-furlong debut back in November, and had every right to pack it in last out at Gulfstream when a very awkward spot pretty much throughout, but fought on well for third before being moved up a slot by the stewards. I’m not entirely sure where he’ll be early, as he’s got a lot of cruising speed and could get sucked into sitting too close to the front, but if he works out the right stalking trip he should keep going in the lane. He’s by Quality Road out of an unraced Bernardini half-sister to Fed Biz from a huge female family, so the pedigree appeal’s certainly there. Selection: #8 The Right Path (15-1).

GIII Gotham S. – My first inclination was to just take Instagrand–who still has every right to pick up where he left off and prove one of the best members of a pretty promising crop–but the amount of other speed signed on and the cross-country ship makes me hesitant to take too short of a price. Haikal was very brave to eventually squeeze up a tight spot on the rail in the Winkfield. He’s the one I’m most confident will be finishing late. He may be closing into a distant second behind Instagrand, but place money’s fine too. Selection: #5 Haikal (6-1).

GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks – I really struggled with this one… How about Five Star General? It looks like his connections were trying to get him on the grass last year, but he won twice in off-the-turfers. He was floated pretty wide into the first turn of the Sam Davis last time, and just ran an overall weird race–maybe he didn’t like that quirky surface. He figures to work out a much cleaner stalking trip this time, and that could mean a return to form pver a turf-friendly surface he may appreciate. Selection: #3 Five Star General (6-1).

Sherack: GII Fountain of Youth S. Bourbon War fell too far back early for his own good and put in a huge stretch rally to finish a promising second. In your face, DiDonato. Oh.. wait. You picked him too? Bankroll: $830.

GII Tampa Bay Derby – Dream Maker and Win Win Win are both awfully imposing and worthy favorites off their last two victories, but I’ll shop for a little value with Outshine. The son of Malibu Moon wasn’t the flashiest 1x winner by any means while covering plenty of ground in his seven-furlong comebacker at Gulfstream, but he certainly ran like a horse that would appreciate more distance after leveling off nicely in deep stretch with first-time blinkers. Considering all the success that trainer Todd Pletcher has had at Tampa Bay in these preps in recent years, this is a hard horse to pass on if he’s anywhere near his morning-line quote. Selection: #6 Outshine (8-1).

GIII Gotham S. – With so much speed signed on in the Gotham, my immediate inclination was to go with a closer. While the talented stretch-running Haikal certainly makes a ton of sense from a dynamics standpoint, a horse he defeated last time is where I’ll end up. Tikhvin Flew broke his maiden like a good thing first out in a live race over this course in early January, then was really against the track when third with a wide trip as the favorite in the Jimmy Winkfield. He’s drawn well on the outside here, has a bullet five-furlong work since and could get first run on what figures to be a lively early pace at a big price. Selection: #8 Tikhvin Flew (12-1).

GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks Somelikeithotbrown, third in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and a sharp winner of Turfway’s Battaglia Memorial in his comebacker, is clearly the horse to beat and should work out a perfect trip sitting just off pacesetters Dynamic Racer and Five Star General. Take the short price. Selection: #10 Somelikeithotbrown (8-5).

DeRosa: GII Fountain of Youth S. Vekoma was third. Bankroll: $680.

GII Tampa Bay Derby Selection: #7 Win Win Win (5-2).
GIII Gotham S. Selection: #6 Instagrand (1-1).
GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks Selection: #8 Twelfthofneverland (12-1).

Click for Tampa Bay Derby, Gotham & Jeff Ruby Steaks Ultimate PPs from Brisnet.com.

Scott Stevens Wins George Woolf Award

Fri, 2019-03-08 14:22

Jockey Scott Stevens has been selected by a nationwide vote of his peers as the winner of Santa Anita’s 2019 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.

In winning this year’s Woolf Award, Stevens, 58, joins his Hall of Fame brother Gary, the 1996 Woolf winner, in becoming the only pair of brothers to win the Award since its inception in 1950. One of five Woolf Award finalists, Stevens outpolled fellow riders Joe Bravo, Kerwin Clark, John Davila, Jr. and Julien Leparoux.

Born Oct. 6, 1960 in Caldwell, Idaho and the son of a trainer and former rodeo queen, Stevens was raised with horses and broke his maiden on May 30, 1976 at Les Bois Park in Boise, at the age of 15. Stevens has amassed more than 4,800 wins from more than 32,400 career mounts.

A helpful source of information and guidance to younger riders, Stevens remains active this winter at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, AZ, where he’s a nine-time leading rider. Stevens, who resides in Phoenix with his longtime partner Pam Isles, has two grown children, a daughter, Jessica and a son, Jake.

72 Juveniles Cataloged for KEEAPR

Fri, 2019-03-08 13:12

A total of 72 juveniles have been catalogued for Keeneland’s April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, which will be held in Lexington on Tuesday, Apr. 9 starting at 2:00 p.m. The catalog can be viewed online now, and print catalogs will be mailed the week of Mar. 18.

The sale will also feature a horses of racing age section, with entries closing Friday, Mar. 15 and that catalog to be released digitally on Friday, Mar. 22 complete with Daily Racing Form past performances and Thoro-Graph and Ragozin sheets. Print catalogs for the horses of racing age section will be available Friday, Mar. 29.

Keeneland will continue to accept supplemental entries for the sale. It will host a Preview Day with breezes on both the dirt and turf on Monday, Apr. 8 starting at 11 a.m.

“The return of the April Sale adds further excitement to Keeneland’s Spring Meet opening weekend, which begins April 4 and includes the $1-million [GI] Toyota Blue Grass,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “This is a high-quality, boutique auction that boasts a proven record of success, evidenced by the two Eclipse Award winners, Lady Eli (Divine Park) and Roy H (More Than Ready), who sold at the last edition of the April Sale in 2014.”

The Keeneland April 2-year-old sale had been held 1993 to 2014.

 

Baffert to Ship 3-Year-Old Stars to Los Al

Thu, 2019-03-07 18:57

Unable to work his horses at Santa Anita, where the track has been closed indefinitely due to safety concerns, Bob Baffert will ship several prominent horses to Los Alamitos Friday morning. Among them will be GI Kentucky Derby hopefuls Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg}), Improbable (City Zip) and Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man).

He said he plans to work all three Sunday and those works will give him a better idea of what direction he should take with each as he makes out their pre-Derby schedules.

Game Winner and Improbable were both scheduled to run this Saturday in the GII San Felipe S. at Santa Anita, but the Saturday card has been canceled and Santa Anita management has given no indication when it expects the track to re-open. For Baffert and others with top 3-year-olds stabled at Santa Anita, that has made the decision-making process extra difficult. Should the track re-open and hold the San Felipe on Sept. 16 that would remain a viable option. But at this point no one knows if that is going to happen.

“As far as the San Felipe goes, I’m just waiting to hear more information,” he said.

Baffert has been planning on running Mucho Gusto in the GII Rebel S. next Saturday at Oaklawn.

“I’m trying to adapt,” Baffert said. “There is so much confusion going on.”

He said the options that top his list for Improbable and Game Winner are the Rebel and the GIII Sunland Derby Mar. 24.

The Rebel seems like an obvious spot for the Baffert horses to land. Not only have there been no problems with the track at Oaklawn, but he has won the race a record six times and took the Arkansas route to the Kentucky Derby with 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile).

Another Baffert horse that is headed to Los Alamitos is McKinzie (Street Sense), who was expected to be favored in the GI Santa Anita H., another race that has been postponed indefinitely.

“I’m sending a lot of my top horses to Los Alamitos,” Baffert said. “I’m sending all the ones that I need to work right now.”

Unlike some other Southern California based trainers, Baffert has the luxury of going back and forth between Santa Anita and Los Alamitos because he has stalls at both tracks.

 

Santa Anita Training Track to Re-open Friday

Thu, 2019-03-07 18:34

The training track at Santa Anita will, as expected, re-open for training Friday morning, after veteran track superintendent Dennis Moore evaluated the surface Thursday. According to California Thoroughbred Trainer president Jim Cassidy, horses will be restricted to jogging and galloping only–no breezes.

The hours of operation have been extended, and the track will remain open until 11:00 a.m. in order to lessen the bottle-neck of horses expected on the track Friday, said Cassidy, who added that it’s still up in the air as to when workouts will resume on the track. A press release by the Thoroughbred Owners of California stated that expanded training on the training track could resume “as early as next week.”

The track was off limits for training Wednesday and Thursday morning after Santa Anita announced Tuesday evening that both the main and training tracks were closed. The decision was in response to two more fatalities at the track over the weekend. This brought the total of equine fatalities since the start of the Santa Anita winter-spring meet to 21. None of those catastrophic injuries were sustained over the training track.

A number of trainers have already shipped some of their horses to Los Alamitos or San Luis Rey Downs to train. Roughly 350 stalls were reported available at Los Alamitos, and between 50-70 at San Luis Rey Downs.

According to trainer Richard Baltas, he’s taken 9 “pretty nice” horses to San Luis Rey Downs, where he also keeps a string. “These horses are ready to roll–I need to work them,” he said.

Peter Eurton told TVG that he was sending 15 horses to Los Alamitos on Thursday to train, including Giant Expectations, who was originally scheduled to run in the San Carlos S. this weekend.

John Sadler told the TDN he’ll get “creative” if workouts are restricted on the training track for a period of time. “I’ll probably work some of my horses at Los Alamitos,” he said. Sadler typically maintains a string of between 25-35 horses at Los Alamitos. “It’ll be on a case-by-case basis,” Sadler added.

Santa Anita announced Thursday that Moore and the University of Kentucky’s Mick Peterson had begun extensive testing of the one-mile main track. Though before the “formal process of testing [could] begin,” Moore and Peterson had requested that Santa Anita personnel “[harrow] and [aerate] the track which has been saturated due to recent rains.”

There is currently no news on when the main track will re-open for training and racing. However, California Horse Racing Board commissioner Alex Solis told the TDN Wednesday that the picture could be much clearer by next Monday, by which time Moore will have had more time to conduct his tests. “We’re working hard on finding solutions for the safety of the horse and the rider,” he said.

 

135 Head Catalogued to Texas 2YO Sale

Thu, 2019-03-07 16:43

The Texas Thoroughbred Association’s Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale will feature a catalog of 135 hips, up from 106 last year, for this April’s sale. The under tack show is set for 10 a.m. Sunday, Apr. 7 at Lone Star Park, with the auction to take place there Tuesday, Apr. 9 at 12 noon. The catalog features offerings from nationally successful stallions like Kitten’s Joy, Malibu Moon, Uncle Mo and Union Rags. All sale graduates will be eligible for the Texas Thoroughbred Futurity, run in divisions for fillies and colts/geldings at $100,000-estimated apiece this summer at Lone Star.

“Our consignors have really stepped up again this year and continue to bring better quality 2-year-olds, and I think the list of stallions in this catalog really proves that,” said Sales Director Tim Boyce. “I’m looking forward to seeing what these horses do in the under tack show.”

The interactive catalog, which will include photos and videos after the undertack show, is now online at www.ttasales.com. The auction will also be broadcast live on the website.

Distorted Humor Colt Breezes Quickest Quarter; Six Share Furlong Bullet at OBSMAR

Thu, 2019-03-07 16:17

A Distorted Humor colt breezed the fastest quarter during the first of three under-tack shows for next week’s OBS March 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, while six juveniles tied for the quickest eighth of a mile.

Hip 142 was the lone youngster to stop the clock in :20 3/5 for his quarter-mile move. The half-brother to MSP Glamoride (Ide) is consigned by Greg and Karen Dodd’s Southern Chase Farm, Inc.

Five horses shared the eighth-of-a-mile bullet of :9 4/5:

Hip 24, an Irish-bred daughter No Nay Never consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stable (video).

Hip 31, a Florida-bred son of Take Charge Indy from Top Line Sales LLC, Agent I (video).

Hip 49, a de Meric Sales, agent VI-consigned filly from Verrazano’s second crop (video).

Hip 81, a son of Justin Phillip offered by Patrick Hoppel’s Hoppel Horse & Cattle Co., Inc. (video).

Hip 134, a filly by freshman sire Wicked Strong consigned by Mayberry Farm, Agent V (video).

Hip 140, a first-crop filly by Karakontie (Jpn) from All Dreams Equine (video).

Additional breeze shows will be held Friday (hips 193-384) and Saturday (hips 385-577) starting each day at 8:00 a.m. For complete information, visit www.obssales.com.

Indiana Derby Slated for July 13

Thu, 2019-03-07 16:01

The $500,000 GIII Indiana Derby scheduled for July 13 once again headlines Indiana Grand’s upcoming racing calendar. The Shelbyville, Indiana oval will hold 120 days of live racing from Tuesday, Apr. 16 through Wednesday, Nov. 6. A total of 35 stakes worth more than $4.3 million are scheduled, with the majority of them being held on Wednesdays. The Saturday, July 13 Indiana Derby program will feature five other stakes, including the GIII Indiana Oaks. Purses for the evening card will be in excess of $1.1 million. “We are anticipating another great season of racing at Indiana Grand,” said Kevin Greely, director of racing. “Our track maintenance crew has been working all winter long on a $700,000-plus track renovation project for our one-mile dirt course. Having this type of investment in our racing program by our new owners, Caesars, is a great way to kick off our 17th year of racing at Indiana Grand.” Racing at Indiana Grand will be conducted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Friday with a 2:15 p.m. post time and on Saturdays with a 6:15 p.m. first post. For the complete 2019 stakes schedule, visit www.indianagrand.com.

Mar. 8 Insights: Wonder Gadot Makes 4YO Debut at Oaklawn

Thu, 2019-03-07 13:33

Gary Barber’s popular WONDER GADOT (Medaglia d’Oro) will make her seasonal bow in a third-level allowance Friday at Oaklawn Park. Establishing her quality with a pair of graded stakes wins as a juvenile, the $325,000 OBS April buy came tantalizingly close to a GI Kentucky Oaks victory when coming up a half-length short to eventual division champion Monomoy Girl (Tapizar). Heading north of the border after that, the dark bay easily conquered males in both the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales S. before fading to finish 10th in the GI Travers S. She was last seen running ninth in the GI Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff and shows five workouts since, most recently going five furlongs from the gate here in 1:01 2/5 (4/21) Feb. 24. Trainer Mark Casse told the Oaklawn notes team that with a good return run in the one-mile event, Wonder Gadot will be pointed to the track’s GI Apple Blossom H. Apr. 14.

“That’s why she’s there, if everything goes well,” he said, adding, “A mile is maybe just a touch on the short side for her, but given her time off and everything, I think it’s perfect. It’s a good spot for us to get going. Hopefully, it leads to bigger and better things down the road, but it’s a nice beginning for the year.” TJCIS PPs

Oaklawn Officials May Split Rebel Stakes

Wed, 2019-03-06 17:51

The Mar. 16 GII Rebel S., a key GI Kentucky Derby prep at Oaklawn Park, may be split into two divisions, the Oaklawn Jockey Club announced in the wake of the suspension of racing at Santa Anita. If the Rebel is split, each division will carry a purse of $750,000, and each division will offer 63.75 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.

In a statement released Wednesday, Oaklawn president Louis Cella said he hopes the situation in California resolves itself quickly, precluding any reason to split the Rebel. “But if that is not the case, Oaklawn stands ready to help horsemen around the country,” Cella said.

He added, “From a financial standpoint, splitting the race makes no sense whatsoever. If we split it, it will be strictly on the basis of sportsmanship and what is best for the sport and best for top 3-year-olds trying to get to Kentucky.”

Cella said both divisions of the Rebel would need to attract a minimum of 10 runners in order to justify the split.

The deadline for nominating to the Rebel was to have been midnight, Mar. 7, but has now been pushed back to midnight, Mar. 8, according to racing secretary Pat Pope.

Spendthrift Launches “Safe Bet” Breeding Program

Wed, 2019-03-06 15:38

B. Wayne Hughes’s Spendthrift Farm has unveiled a new breeder incentive program to help support the nursery’s fourth-year stallions. Under the Safe Bet program, breeders are assured that a stallion’s first crop of 2-year-olds will have at least one graded/group stakes winner in 2019 or the breeder will be completely relieved of the stud fee for the impending foal in 2020.

“It’s no secret that Mr. Hughes is constantly thinking of ways we can offer breeder-friendly programs for our stallions,” said Spendthrift General Manager Ned Toffey. “The inspiration behind the Safe Bet program largely came from the success of our leading first-crop sires last year, particularly the great things accomplished by Cross Traffic and Goldencents. Breeding to a fourth-year stallion requires making a bet on the early success of the stallion’s first runners. It can be very rewarding–as we saw last year–and there’s also risk involved. We wanted to remove as much risk for the breeders as possible.”

Toffey continued, “In recent history, you typically have a handful of freshmen in every class that sire a 2-year-old graded or group winner, and it’s usually a very good sign for a sire. Safe Bet assures that a breeder will be investing in a stallion that will have the immediate success of a graded or group winner from his first 2-year-olds to race in 2019. If that does not happen, the breeder won’t owe a stud fee. It’s that simple.”

Spendthrift has six stallions with first-crop 2-year-olds hitting the racetracks this year: Wicked Strong, Palace, Race Day, Danza, Medal Count and Normandy Invasion–all of whom are participating in the Safe Bet program.

Training Track At Santa Anita Could Re-Open Friday

Wed, 2019-03-06 14:29

If veteran trackman Dennis Moore gives the Santa Anita training track the thumbs-up after he has evaluated it Thursday, the track could re-open for training Friday morning, said California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT) president Jim Cassidy after a meeting Wednesday morning.

This sentiment was mirrored by California Horse Racing Board member Alex Solis, who also attended the meeting. He said there’s a “good chance” the track will be open Friday. “It’s a different surface [to the main track], said Solis. “It can absorb more water.”

Should the training track re-open Friday morning, the hours will be extended to “at least 10:30” a.m., Cassidy said, and horses will be restricted to routine exercise. “No workouts,” he said, adding that there could possibly be a cessation of workouts lasting a week.

“I think you’d need at least a week on the training track before anybody was allowed to work on it,” said Cassidy. “You’ve got to understand, you’re talking about a lot of horses on that training track, and it can get torn up just as easily.”

Of the 21 equine fatalities since the start of the Santa Anita winter-spring meet Dec. 26, there have been no catastrophic injuries sustained on the training track.

Solis said that Dennis Moore also attended the meeting, along with P.J. Campo, executive vice president, Racing Division, for The Stronach Group, state veterinarian Dr. Tim Grande, jockey Aaron Gryder, and exercise rider Humberto Gomez.

The Stronach Group announced late Tuesday evening that Santa Anita would close for live racing and training while the one-mile main track undergoes additional extensive testing.

According to Solis, the picture could be much clearer as to when the main track re-opens for training and racing by next Monday, by which time Moore will have had “a few days” to conduct his tests. “We’re working hard on finding solutions for the safety of the horse and the rider,” he said.

Cassidy said that if the training track re-opens Friday and workouts are restricted for a period of time, trainers needing to work their horses can take them to Los Alamitos or San Luis Rey Downs.

According to CTT executive director Alan Balch, there are roughly 350 available stalls at Los Alamitos. A well-placed source said that there are between 50 and 70 available stalls at San Luis Rey Downs.

“Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with not working for a while, but that’s my take,” Cassidy said. “We’ve missed a lot of works anyway because of the weather.”

Cassidy said that he hadn’t heard of any other trainers who have started shifting their horses from Santa Anita to other training facilities.

According to trainer John Sadler, he’ll have to get “creative” if workouts are restricted on the training track for a period of time. “I’ll probably work some of my horses at Los Alamitos,” he said. Sadler typically maintains a string of between 25-35 horses at Los Alamitos. “It’ll be on a case-by-case basis,” Sadler added.

“I feel very good about Dennis Moore being back in there,” Sadler added. Moore was the former Santa Anita track superintendent, until he left his position in December of last year. Just this Tuesday, it was announced he would be back as a consultant at Santa Anita, expanding on the ground radar testing conducted by the University of Kentucky’s Dr. Mick Peterson last week.

“We have a lot of confidence in him, and I think I’m speaking for the majority of the horsemen. He’s a very strong track man, very popular,” said Sadler. “I have great confidence he’ll get it up and going in short order.”

No evaluation was conducted on the track Wednesday, however, due to heavy rain. In Wednesday’s announcement, Santa Anita said that Moore would be using for his work the Orono Biomechanical Surface Tester, “a device that mimics the impacts of a horse running at full gallop, allowing engineers to see how the track holds up.”

The rain could corrode the “sensitive” bearings of the Orono Biomechanical Surface Tester, potentially leading to inaccurate readings, hence why the machine was left idle Wednesday, said Kaleb Dempsey, a laboratory manager who works with Peterson. Dempsey is currently at Santa Anita, helping Moore and the Santa Anita track crew, headed by current superintendent Andy LaRocco.

Earlier in the day, Balch warned that if the training track remains closed for any longer than Friday, it could jeopardize the health and safety of horses who are currently restricted to exercise around the barns. “We’re trying to do what’s best for the horses,” said Balch, stressing the volatile nature of the Thoroughbred. “The main concern is the training track and being able to get horses out of their stalls and out of the backstretch.”

Balch also pointed to a number of concerns trainers raised at the meeting, including the “pressure” trainers are under to run horses in conditions they’re not entirely happy with, including a sealed track.

“Horses can suffer an injury that might not be evident after running over a sealed racetrack,” said Balch, who added that perhaps “the time has come where we should at least consider not running when you have to take these steps to protect the racetrack. Horsemen made the point that races are canceled in the East [Coast] all the time [due to inclement weather].”

Interestingly, Peterson had previously told the TDN that data shows how sealed tracks are not unsafe tracks. “The challenge is when you transition from a sealed track to an open track. You run the risk of a very hard sealed track as it’s beginning to dry out,” he said.

As for the owners and trainers who were pointing for the

GII San Felipe S., it appears that many of are taking a wait-and-see attitude and are putting off their decisions on where to run for at least a few days.

Elliott Walden, the CEO and President of WinStar Farm, a co-owner of Improbable (City Zip), told the TDN that they will see how things develop at Santa Anita before firming up the schedule for their horse. Another option is the Mar. 16 GII Rebel S. at Oaklawn.

Improbable is a stablemate of Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg}). By text, trainer Bob Baffert said he had nothing to report so far as where his two 3-year-old stars would go next. Eclipse Award winner Game Winner, who has yet to race this year, was also pointing for the San Felipe. Later in the day, agent Ron Anderson tweeted Game Winner, along with jockey Joel Rosario, would start in the Rebel. And the possibility of other Santa Anita sophomores being re-routed to the Rebel had Oaklawn officials announcing the race might be split into two divisions.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who had been planning on running Gunmetal Gray (Exchange Rate) in the San Felipe, is also on the fence.

Bridgmohan Sidelined After Spill

Wed, 2019-03-06 13:55

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan suffered a broken right collarbone after being unseated from Oxford Comma (Majesticperfection) in midstretch of Tuesday’s Mardi Gras S. at Fair Grounds, according to agent Anthony Martin.

“He’ll see the orthopedic doctor tomorrow and he’ll go for surgery on Friday,” Martin said. “I think four to six weeks is the recovery time, so that’s where we’re at right now.”

Oxford Comma was vanned off the track and was subsequently euthanized.

OBS March Breeze Show Begins Thursday

Wed, 2019-03-06 13:18

The three-day Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training breeze show begins Thursday. Hips 1-192 will breeze on the first day. Hips 193-384 will go Friday, Mar. 8 and Hips 385-577 will work Saturday, Mar. 9. All three sessions will begin at 8:00 a.m.

A total of 577 juveniles have been catalogued for the two-day sale, set for Tuesday and Wednesday, Mar. 12 and 13, with both sessions beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Graduates from last year’s sale appearing on the catalog cover include GI Spinaway S. heroine Sippican Harbor (Orb) ($110,000 RNA ’18 OBSMAR) and unbeaten G2 Norfolk S. heroine Shang Shang Shang (Shanghai Bobby) ($200,000 ’18 OBSMAR).

Fasig-Tipton Adds Supplemental Entries to Gulfstream Sale

Wed, 2019-03-06 11:39

Fasig-Tipton has cataloged an initial three supplemental entries for its Gulfstream Sale of Selected 2-Year-Olds in Training, it was announced Wednesday. These new entries, catalogued as hips 186, 187 and 188, will all be consigned by McKathan Bros., agent

Fasig-Tipton will continue to accept supplemental entries for The Gulfstream Sale through Mar. 14. These entries may now be viewed online, and will also be available via the equineline sales catalogue app. Print versions of the supplemental catalog will be available on the sales grounds.

The Gulfstream Sale will be held Wednesday, Mar. 27 at 2:00 p.m. at Gulfstream Park. The under tack show will be Monday, Mar. 25 at 9:00 a.m.

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