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Updated: 7 hours 59 min ago

Casse Looking Ahead After Big Weekend

Tue, 2018-02-13 17:10

It was a very good weekend for trainer Mark Casse with two graded stakes victories and a pair of nice maiden winners, including a “TDN Rising Star” performance from Telekinesis (Ghostzapper). The conditioner is already planning ahead for his weekend winners, as well as, hoping for another successful Saturday with two talented fillies entered in the GII Rachel Alexandra S. at Fair Grounds.

Casse’s newly crowned champion World Approval (Northern Afleet) took his win streak into 2018 with a half-length score in the 1 1/16-mile GIII Tampa Bay S. Saturday (video). The GI Breeders’ Cup Mile hero was under consideration for Dubai, but Casse said they would bypass the carnival and stay in America instead.

“Going back and watching the replay and the gallop out, I know he was a little short going into the race, but that was not Grade I company that he beat,” said Casse. “So, given that, we just think it is a smart idea to keep him home and keep him at a mile. We are flirting with the [GI Frank E.] Kilroe Mile [Mar. 10 at Santa Anita] and the [GI] Maker’s 46 Mile [Apr. 13 at Keeneland].”

The Indiana native continued, “I decided that [going to Dubai] was just pushing it. A mile is his best distance and to go and try to run almost a mile and an eighth against the best in the world is not fair to him. Johnny [Velazquez], Mrs. Weber and I talked about it the following day. Johnny agrees a mile is his game and Mrs. Weber agrees with that, so we are not going to push it. We are going to focus on a mile. I am not saying he can’t run further than a mile, but it is proven fact for him that a mile is his game for his best performance.”

World Approval’s victory was the second straight graded win of the day for Casse, who captured the GIII Sam F. Davis S. one race prior with Flameaway (Scat Daddy) (video). The John Oxley colorbearer won an off-the-turf renewal of the GIII Dixana Bourbon S. last term, after which he returned to the grass, finishing eighth in the GI Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Nov. 3 and winning the Kitten’s Joy S. Jan. 6.

“He is going to the [GII] Tampa Bay Derby [Mar. 10],” Casse said. “He won on the turf and there really isn’t a whole lot out there for turf, so Mr. Oxley said, ‘Would we consider running him on dirt again?’ I said, ‘Well, let’s see how he trains and if he trains good, we will try it.’ And, he did, so we did.”

Casse was also represented by GIII Endeavour S. runner-up La Coronel (Colonel John) at Tampa Saturday. He is pointing that talented turf distaffer to the GII Hillsborough S. there Mar. 10.

While those runners have already proven to be talented stakes horses, Casse unveiled a 3-year-old colt who appears poised to join their ranks in Telekinesis. Originally scheduled to make his debut in New Orleans Jan. 28, the $470,000 KEENOV buy was scratched after flipping over in the paddock, but made up for it Friday with an impressive 3 1/4-length graduation.

“He is extremely talented,” Casse said. “I am not sure what we are going to do with, but we think he is a future star. I haven’t come up with a second race yet, but probably two turns.”

Casse had another 3-year-old colt hint at his future potential in He Takes Charge (Tapit), who bobbled at the start and raced wide, but still came home a 2 1/4-length winner at Gulfstream Saturday.

Off the board in his first two tries on turf, the $625,000 KEESEP purchase finished in the money in his last two attempts on the dirt in Hallandale prior to his graduation. The gray’s second dam is blue hen and MGISW Take Charge Lady, who produced champion Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) and GISW Take Charge Indy (A.P Indy).

“He Takes Charge to me is the diamond in the rough,” Casse said. “I think he did everything wrong. He acted poorly before the race. He acted poorly in the paddock. He acted poorly in the post parade. He was up and down and all around in the race. He pulled himself up when he made the lead and still ran an 82 Beyer. I think he has a bright future. We just have to get him to focus more.”

While he did not win his last start, Mississippi (Pioneerof the Nile) has flashed his talent in his last three races and is poised to take a crack at the GI Kentucky Derby trail for the Casse barn. Earning his diploma at second asking at Churchill in November, the $700,000 FTFMAR buy checked in second behind undefeated “TDN Rising Star” and GII Risen Star S. contender Noble Indy (Take Charge Indy) in a Gulfstream allowance Jan. 11. He missed by just a neck last time in Hallandale Feb. 4, but finished 9 1/4 lengths clear of the third-place finisher.

“He is probably going to go to the [GII] Rebel [S. at Oaklawn Mar. 17], but I don’t know for sure yet,” Casse said. “I thought his last race was good. He is learning. I want to try and get him on a racetrack that is not as speed biased as Gulfstream can be, so that is why I am going to take him out of there.”

Casse has a pair of sophomore fillies set to take their next steps towards the GI Kentucky Oaks this Saturday in MGSW “TDN Rising Star” Wonder Gadot (Medaglia d’Oro) and GI Darley Alcibiades S. winner Heavenly Love (Malibu Moon).

“Both of them are good,” Casse said. “They are sitting on top races. We will just find out if they are good enough. It is not an easy race, but we are ready.”


AAEP Urges Caution–Not Alarm–For EHV-1 Outbreaks

Tue, 2018-02-13 13:31

Turf Paradise in Arizona on Feb. 12 became the fifth Thoroughbred track in the country since the start of the new year to have a quarantine imposed because of a confirmed case of equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1).

But what appears to be a recent spike in outbreaks should not be mistaken for a nationwide EHV pandemic, an official with the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) cautioned.

Rather, the apparent spate of EHV reports could just be a function of the AAEP’s Equine Disease Communication Center making outbreak information more readily accessible to the media and the general public, Dr. Nathaniel A. White II, DVM, a chair of the AAEP’s National Equine Health Plan Task Force, told TDN Tuesday.

The more robust recent reporting via the EDCC’s various public-facing platforms, which began sending out real-time alerts in 2016, can make it difficult to drill down precise EHV-1 prevalence comparisons with years prior to the implementation of the alert system, White said.

“It can happen at any time of the year, but it seems like this winter or early spring we’ve seen more outbreaks than during the rest of the year,” White said. “I’m not sure we know that it’s increased, because the reporting systems [previously] were not in place to keep track of every case in the country. That’s changing with the EDCC. We’ve been able to capture that. But this is [traditionally] the season where we see the most of it.

“[EHV-1] is called ‘reportable,'” White explained. “That is, the state veterinarians, when they have a case in their state, if it’s reportable in their state they’re obligated to look at the case and try to keep it from spreading.

“But until we started the EDCC, there was no central reporting system,” White continued. “So I think that we’re able to capture more of them now and know that they’re happening, whereas before [an outbreak could occur] and [the state] would just take care of it and nobody outside that state would necessarily know.”

Since January, EHV-1 quarantines have been imposed and subsequently released at Belmont Park in New York, Laurel Park in Maryland and Portland Meadows in Oregon. A barn remains under quarantine at Turfway Park in Kentucky after a 3-year-old was euthanized following an EHV-1 diagnosis there.

Standardbred entities have also been affected. Racing at The Meadows in Pennsylvania has been shut down since late January through at least Feb. 23, and The Blooded Horse Sales Company in Ohio canceled an auction this month.

Also according to the EDCC, the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania had a state EHV-1 quarantine lifted effective Feb. 3, but a self-imposed quarantine remains in effect at that facility for three horses that previously tested positive.

The Turf Paradise quarantine is for the “wild” strain of EHV-1 and traces to a horse that presented with neurological impairment Feb. 8 and was moved to a referral hospital. One barn at the racetrack has been quarantined while the state veterinarian works with track officials to monitor for exposed horses.

“People should be aware that [contracting EHV-1] is possible, but considering the total number of horses, it’s probably not that prevalent,” White said. “But it certainly can happen, particularly when horses travel and they’re very active and stressed, and people should practice biosecurity, which is the best way to prevent their horses from getting the problem.”

158 Catalogued for Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale

Tue, 2018-02-13 12:49

Fasig-Tipton has catalogued 158 entries for The Gulfstream Sale of Selected 2-Year-Olds in Training, to be held Wednesday, Mar. 28, in the Gulfstream Park walking ring. The sale will begin at 3 p.m., and the under-tack show is scheduled for Monday, Mar. 26 at 9 a.m.

“This is an exciting catalogue,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “There is strong sire power, quality individuals at a variety of price levels, as well as some exciting new faces in the consignor ranks coming to Gulfstream for the first time. Additionally, this year’s sale is being held during [GI] Florida Derby week, which will bring extra buzz to the auction.”

Among the sale’s notable graduates are undefeated GI Starlet S. heroine Dream Tree (Uncle Mo), GI Met Mile H. hero Mor Spirit (Eskendereya) and recent GII Holy Bull S. winner Audible (Into Mischief).

“Since conducting our first sale at Gulfstream in 2015, the racetrack success of our graduates has been nothing short of remarkable,” continued Browning. “In just a short time, Gulfstream grads have claimed many of the sport’s biggest races, including the [GI] Kentucky Derby, [GI] Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Florida Derby, Met Mile, [GI] Del Mar Futurity, and both the [GI] Futurity and Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos.”

The catalogue is now available online and will also be available via the Equineline sales catalogue app. Print catalogues will be available from Fasig-Tipton offices by Monday, Feb. 19.

Phoenix Rising Emerges With a ‘Flame’

Tue, 2018-02-13 12:19

For a smalltime breeder in the Canadian province of British Columbia, Deborah Holmes is having a hard time believing that one horse she bred and sold is on the road to the GI Kentucky Derby and another is on the path to the Queen’s Plate.

The victory by John Oxley’s Flameaway (Scat Daddy) in Saturday’s GIII Sam F. Davis S. has thrust him into the Derby picture, even though he is not yet nominated to the American Triple Crown. He is, however, eligible for the Canadian Triple Crown.

Another horse Holmes sold, Silent Sting (Silent Name {Jpn}), had a strong freshman season in Canada for Stronach Stables, winning two of four races, including the Kingarvie S. in December, and is considered a strong prospect for the Plate.

Theoretically, Holmes–a part-time accountant whose breeding business is called Phoenix Rising Farms–could have two horses in the Plate. Not bad for a crop of six foals produced by her broodmare band three years ago. She bought two more mares last year.

“Six was a big crop for us and some are going to Classics?” she asked with amazement. “It’s beyond anything I could have imagined. How does that even happen?”

Flameaway was nicknamed Hercules as a foal, while Silent Sting was called Caesar. They were both born in Hillsburgh, Ontario at Gail Wood’s Woodlands Farm, and it was Wood who gave the colts their early monikers because of their size. Holmes credited her success to John Penn and George William Smith. Penn does her confirmation analysis and raises her U.S.-based horses at his family’s Pennland Farm in Paris, Kentucky. Smith, a Canadian pedigree expert, has a company called The Matchmaker.

“My plan in this business is to surround myself with experts,” Holmes said. “That’s why I’m with the Penns. That’s why I have George Smith advising me. That’s why I have Gail Wood. She has downsized farms and now I’m with Susan Foreman. I work with the best. I have John Penn look at every mare before I buy them and make sure I’m not missing something on the physical side, and I obviously couldn’t have bred sich good yearlings without my pedigree guy.

“I put in place good people. I can go to sleep each night knowing my horses are in good hands. I breed the best I can possibly afford to the best. But there’s always luck. There has to be luck. I mean, come on, there are very rich people in this business that do exactly what I’m doing that don’t have a Derby and a Queen’s Plate contender this year. So, of course there’s luck. It takes a team. I make the final decisions, but I rely on the expertise of all these horsemen and horsewomen to make the right decisions.”

Of the six yearlings from the same crop as Flameaway and Silent Sting, two were foaled in British Columbia, two in Ontario and two in Kentucky. Four of the six foals sold for $100,000 or more. Flameaway sold for $150,000 as a Keeneland January short yearling and was re-sold for $400,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling. Silent Sting sold for $150,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. The unraced Gatlinburg (Uncle Mo), a $100,000 KEEJAN short yearling, was subsequently sold for $525,000 at Keeneland September. Meanwhile, El Corazon (Quality Road), a $100,000 KEESEP yearling, won a maiden special weight at Laurel as a 2-year-old.

The other two horses are a pair of British Columbia-breds by Second in Command–Titus Command  and Starresha. The latter captured much attention at Woodbine in 2017 because of her interesting coloration. She has brown spots on her body, brown ears and a tail that is mostly black. Registered as a paint and a Thoroughbred, the filly has her own Facebook fan page.

Holmes also bred Seguimi (Victor’s Cry), who co-topped the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s yearling sale last year with a price tag of $85,000. The colt is a half-brother to Flameaway.

Silent Sting is a half-brother to the 6-year-old Grade I-winning mare Celestine (Scat Daddy), whom Holmes sold for $100,000 as Keeneland September yearling in 2013. A high-priced RNA as a juvenile, she ultimately stamped herself as a top-class racemare with a victory in the 2016 GI Just a Game S. and subsequently sold for $2.55 million at Keeneland November later that year.

Sadly for Holmes, Mona Mia, the dam of Celestine and Silent Sting, died giving birth to the latter, who was born by a caesarean section. Mona Mia, who had a tumor under her tail, had been diagnosed with melanoma and Holmes and her team were researching for potential treatments–one of which was identified in California. It was a month before the mare was scheduled to foal, so the decision was made to wait.

“We had no idea she had internal tumors and the thought is that one of them ruptured and that’s why she couldn’t get the foal out,” Holmes said. “She was in deep distress and she was going to die. There was no saving her. It was awful, truly awful…We saw the external, but we didn’t have any idea the extent of it inside. That was my first grey horse that had cancer and it was very sad. A few years later we would have had a treatment for it.”

The year before, Mona Mia foaled a filly by Second in Command that died the day after birth because of a virus. Mona Mia subsequently developed colic and had to be rushed into surgery. A month afterward she was bred to Silent Name and got in foal on the first cover, eventually producing Silent Sting.

“He was really a miracle baby,” Holmes said. “Do you know how much I regret that the Second in Command filly died? That would have been one of my broodmares.”

Holmes said the death of Mona Mia, whom she bought privately in foal in Kentucky for $18,000, and the foal that died after birth are part and parcel of numerous tragedies she has experienced as a breeder. After numerous accidents and mishaps with both broodmares and foals, Holmes said she has learned to accept the highs and lows that come with breeding horses.

“I’m grateful for every baby that’s born safe and healthy,” Holmes said. “When I first started breeding horses and these things happened, I almost quit. It’s so painful to lose a horse that you love. But you pick yourself up and dust yourself off and you just have faith that better days are ahead.”

Among Holmes’s successes on the racetrack is Goldstryke Glory (Second in Command), now an 8-year-old mare, who raced 19 times in Ontario and banked almost $320,000.

Holmes said she transitioned her accounting duties to a part-time capacity because the horses are starting to pay for themselves and she wants to devote more time to her breeding business.

“It used to be that my accounting practice could pay for my horses, but I’ve far eclipsed that now,” Holmes said. “Horses are way too expensive for the accounting to support them. They need to support themselves. My husband, who is a lawyer, is awesome, and he said I’m retiring in June. He wants me to enjoy life. I’m just going to be a horse breeder.

“To be honest, there have been times when the horses’ cash flow has not been [strong] and he stepped in and loaned me a little bit of money. That’s why I sold Flameaway and Gatlinburg early. I didn’t have enough money to bring this herd forward and those two were very saleable. I paid back my husband the money he loaned me and went forward–and from that I was able to sell Silent Sting and El Corazon in September.”

After starting out in the breeding business in 2000 and going through some tough times, she decided to hire Penn and Smith and hatched the idea of Phoenix Rising Farms with the goal of figuratively rising from the ashes.

“When I did Phoenix Rising Farms and got serious about it in 2007, the accountant side kicked in and I knew I had a limited amount of time to figure out how to make money in this business,” she said. “I was losing money left, right and center. I said we’re either going to do this right or we’re not going to do this at all. We’re producing stakes winners at a pretty high clip now…We have some valuable broodmares and young stock right now, including Flameaway’s dam and his yearling half-brother as well as a 2-year-old half-brother to Gatlinburg selling in the Ocala April sale, just to name a few. If we chose to cash out and sell everything, we would definitely show an overall profit for the horse business from day one. However, since I have no intention of leaving this business, the journey continues.”

As a small breeder, Holmes has a specific strategy that includes the expertise of horse people and a voracious reading appetite to learn as much as she can about pedigrees and stallions.

“In my world, I’m always looking for a potential pitfall in a breeding and then I’m trying to find the stallion who doesn’t have the pitfall because I’m always breeding six or eight mares a year,” she said. “My husband sometimes complains about all the time I spend on it, but I love it. I absolutely love everything about it. I would rather spend a day in a pasture with a couple of my mares and foals than go to a spa.”


Melbourne Cup Purse To Increase

Tue, 2018-02-13 11:34

The purse for the G1 Melbourne Cup will increase this year, AAP reports, but the Victoria Racing Club has not revealed how much. The 3200 metre race, which was this year worth A$6-million, will also be sponsored by Lexus, which takes over from Emirates Airlines, beginning this year.

VRC Chairman Amanda Elliott said the move is not in response to Sydney’s announcement that The Everest will this year be worth A$13-million for its second running.

“It’s not about a competition,” Elliott told AAP. “We don’t do anything in response to what happens across the border.”

Trainer Gai Waterhouse, winner of the 2013 Melbourne Cup with Fiorente (Ire) (Monsun {Ger}), said, “I don’t know if they have to increase their prize money any more. It’s a lot of prize money and people come from all over the world to be able to win that prize money and take away the coveted prize.”

“Four or five million looks pretty good when you win it, I can tell you,” Waterhouse added. “We paid a lot of money for Fiorente when we bought him. When we ran second [in 2012] on the first Tuesday in November he paid his purchase price, running second.”

Terry Finley Joins WHOA

Mon, 2018-02-12 16:49

Terry Finley, founder and CEO of West Point Thoroughbreds, has joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance. In announcing his support for WHOA, a grassroots organization formed to support the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing, Finley released the following statement:

“For many years, I thought bringing in an outside entity to manage our sport’s drug testing and anti-doping programs was a bad idea.

My outlook has changed.

Think about this–on Jan. 27, 1934, The BloodHorse published an article describing the extensive efforts of the National Association of State Racing Commissioners and their goal of achieving the “adoption of uniform rules, penalties, and enforcement” among racing states.

84 years later–and racing is still waiting.

The current anti-doping structure (38 different drug testing/anti-doping programs) is the biggest threat to the future of our great game–it is unmanageable, indefensible, and unfair to our horses, owners, bettors, trainers and our industry. Any system that is not uniform and not independent can only fail, and our current system is failing us.

Let’s stop kicking the can down the horsepath. We need a national drug testing/anti-doping program.

The one way we can do that is by supporting the Horseracing Integrity Act and bringing the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) into our world. USADA is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization with a proven track record of successfully addressing serious anti-doping problems in many other sports.

It’s time to make a move.”

Lucullan Poised for Turf Feast in 2018

Mon, 2018-02-12 16:41

The Godolphin and Darley names have been synonymous with top-class turf talent overseas for decades now, but in America, they adjusted to the market and have mostly made their bones by breeding and racing dirt horses. Every now and then, however, their rich history of buying and breeding turf mares manifests itself Stateside, with the latest promising example being Lucullan (Hard Spun), an ascendant grass talent who appears primed for big things in 2018 after starting his 4-year-old season with a sharp allowance victory Sunday at Gulfstream.

Back when Storm Cat was first laying the groundwork to be a superstar sire, he was represented by a hard-knocking lawn specialist in Caress, a six-time stakes and three-time graded stakes winner in the mid-1990s. Bred and owned by Louis Wolfson’s Harbor View Farm, the mare went through the ring at the 2000 Keeneland November sale and John Ferguson plunked down $3.1 million of Sheikh Mohammed’s money to secure her. She went on to produce Golden Velvet (Seeking the Gold) for Darley, a stakes-placed filly in France who nevertheless found her best success on dirt for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin with a pair of graded stakes scores in 2008.

Golden Velvet’s first two foals raced under McLaughlin’s watch as well, and had just one turf try in 22 combined starts. Lucullan also started on the main track, but after two ho-hum efforts last spring in New York, was put on grass and immediately had the proverbial lightswitch turn on. He broke his maiden June 23 at Belmont with a sharp finishing kick, something that would become a theme for the rest of the season. Third in an allowance July 30 at Saratoga, the bay nevertheless came home in :21.48 for his last quarter-mile. He rattled off a :21.89 final split to clear his one-other-than condition back at Belmont Sept. 10 and flew home in :33.60 for his final three furlongs when running a neck second at 14-1 in the GIII Hill Prince S. there Oct. 7. Given a few months off, he returned with an easy three-length tally Sunday, getting his last three panels in :33.95.

“He’s a really, really nice horse that we decided to give a little bit of a break to after his second in the Hill Prince,” McLaughlin said Monday. “It was a really good race, good effort and we felt like he could be an important horse this year for our stable. Yesterday was the start of the year and he was very impressive. It was just an allowance race, but we hope to move up to stake races soon.”

Lucullan, unlike most McLaughlin trainees, generally takes it easy on the timer in his workouts. He always brings that acceleration in the afternoon though, regardless of who his pilot is. The colt was ridden in his previous five outings by Kendrick Carmouche before getting acquainted with Irad Ortiz, Jr. at Gulfstream.

“He’s got a great turn of foot,” McLaughlin said. “We don’t do a whole lot in the morning time to see that, but he’s easy to ride. Kendrick did a great job on him on multiple occasions, but he’s in New York so Irad picked up the mount and rode him great yesterday.”

As for what’s next in Lucullan’s story, McLaughlin couldn’t pin down a particular spot one day removed from his return, but is mulling several different options as bridges to the meat of the turf racing season.

“It’s hard to say right now,” he said. “We’re not going to rush him back anywhere and we hope to have a long, good, successful summer with him. We’re not going to wait that long either, but we’ll look around first. We could run back [at Gulfstream] later. Fair Grounds has a nice race Mar. 24 [the GII Muniz Memorial H.], then there’s Keeneland or Churchill once we get him back to New York. We probably will keep him from a mile to a mile and an eighth.”

McLaughlin also touched on a few other Godolphin runners with high hopes for 2018, including Westwood (Bernardini), a 4-year-old gelding out of multiple champion Ashado. Graduating third out Nov. 5 at Aqueduct, the bay was second in an allowance there Dec. 1 before jumping forward to earn a 105 Beyer when going one better Jan. 20. Westwood is slated to try to build on that breakthrough in a second-level allowance/optional claimer Thursday at the Big A.

“He’s doing great, so we entered him back for Thursday,” McLaughlin said. “He’s a very nice gelding, so we’ll just try to win races and make money. If he runs well, we’ll probably step up to stakes.”

Godolphin also has a pair of GI Kentucky Derby hopefuls in McLaughlin’s care, led by recent GIII Withers S. hero Avery Island (Street Sense). The 57-year-old conditioner said that he’ll pass on the GIII Gotham S. Mar. 10 at Aqueduct since that race was cut back from a two-turn event to a one-turn mile for this season’s renewal.

“He came out of the race fabulous, but the Gotham is a mile so we won’t do that with him,” McLaughlin said. “He may run in the [GII] Wood [Memorial], but we’re undecided at this time. I talk to [Darley president] Jimmy Bell each week and [Avery Island] will probably work Friday morning. He’s on course to run on a Saturday, but we’re not sure which Saturday or where.”

McLaughlin is regrouping with GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. victor Enticed (Medaglia d’Oro), who finished a well-beaten fourth as the favorite behind runaway winner Audible (Into Mischief) in the GII Holy Bull S. last Saturday at Gulfstream.

“We were disappointed obviously, but we had the one-hole which is the shortest way around, but is also the crowded way around,” he said. “He was in tight all the way and might not have liked that. The winner was very impressive and we’re not sure what we’re going to do with him, but he came out of the race in good shape and he too will work Friday. I’ll be in touch with Jimmy Bell and make some plans, but they’re both doing well out of their races and we are going to run back. Where and when, I’m not sure, but we’re going to have to make that decision soon.”

Reid Promoted to NSA Manager of Racing Operations

Mon, 2018-02-12 16:01

Courtney C. Reid, a mainstay of the National Steeplechase Association’s racing program since November 2015, has been promoted to Manager of Racing Operations, it was announced Monday.

“In a short period, Courtney has become a very important asset to the NSA and steeplechasing,” said Guy Torsilieri, president of the NSA. “She is extraordinarily competent, she is a very quick study, and she has brought much-needed technological skills into our racing operation.”

A native of Williamsburg, Virginia, she holds an undergraduate degree from James Madison University and a master’s degree from Liberty University. She previously worked for the Virginia Racing Commission under longtime racing official Bernard J. Hettel.

During her time at the NSA, Reid has graduated from the Racing Officials Accreditation Program’s stewards school and become an accredited steward. She also has worked in the racing offices of the New York Racing Association and the Breeders’ Cup.

“I am both flattered and grateful that the NSA Board has acknowledged my efforts with a promotion and a new title,” she said. “I am very grateful for the many opportunities the NSA has provided me in the short time I have been with the association, and I look forward to the future…Thoroughbred racing is my passion, and while steeplechasing represents a small segment of the industry, it is steeped in tradition and plays an important role in Thoroughbred history, especially at Saratoga, which is my favorite racetrack.”

Reid will continue to report to Bill Gallo Jr., the NSA’s director of racing.

“Courtney Reid has had a distinct and definitive effect on our racing operations at the NSA,” he said. “In a very short time, she has grasped the scope of the racing program and has streamlined many of our racing functions. Her understanding of technology and its benefits when applied to the traditions of racing allows us to move forward with swift precision to better serve our horsemen and the race meets. She is an invaluable asset to me in my role as Director of Racing, and I am delighted that the NSA Board has recognized her many contributions.”

Members of the NSA Executive Committee praised the skills that Reid has brought to the NSA and the talents she has honed in her tenure with the organization.

“Courtney has quickly learned the nuances of the racing office and works well with our horsemen and race meets,” said NSA Vice President Doug Fout, a longtime licensed trainer and Middleburg Spring’s president. “In my opinion, she’s the best thing to come along for the NSA in a long time. From a horseman’s view, she’s always on top of her game.”

As a steward, Reid will also be able to provide assistance to officials at race meets.


“Why Racing?” With Caroline Walsh

Mon, 2018-02-12 15:37

CAROLINE WALSH, Business Manager, PM Advertising

As part of a new series, we asked a number of people not born into racing families why they got into the sport, and what their first racing memory was.

Why did you get involved in the sport?

Honestly, I was a little girl who had a lot of energy and loved horses. I grew up in Dublin city without any kind of horse background. My cousin, Sarah, paved the way for me by convincing my parents to let me take riding lessons. Through sheer luck, this unrealistically brave 10-year-old wound up at Crossogue Stud in Tipperary where I was introduced to Mark Molloy’s string of National Hunt horses. He was kind enough to indulge an enthusiastic kid, and I spent pretty much every vacation for the next decade either jumping cross country or on the gallop.

My first introduction to the equine industry in the U.S. came in 2010 through an internship at Ashford Stud. That’s where I caught the bug for good. I returned the following year, this time to Castleton Lyons, and from there landed a spot in the Godolphin Flying Start program. I have been fortunate to meet many people who were willing to give me an opportunity, and I’m very grateful. Eight years later, Lexington, Ky., is my home. I got involved in the industry because of the horses and I have stayed in the business because of the people.

What is your earliest racing memory?

Going racing in Galway in the summer. I was very young, but I remember the buzz. Ireland has a lot of great racing festivals, and Galway is one of the most iconic. My first experience in America was the Keeneland Spring meet, so I’ve been spoiled on both sides of the Atlantic.

Want to participate in the “Why Racing?” series or have a suggestion? Please email the TDN at


Jorge Ricardo: Greatness Beyond the Racetrack

Mon, 2018-02-12 15:29

The greatness of Jorge Ricardo extends far beyond becoming the jockey with the most wins in the history of racing. It is in his professionalism, his character and his spirit. He is an idol–someone who sets an example, someone who always has a smile on his face and someone who values a Group 1 winner and a 5-year-old maiden in the same way.

An examination of those unique, different and enviable qualities unearths what makes Jorge Ricardo special. His record-setting achievement Wednesday at San Isidro represented the fulfillment of a dream that guided his life in recent years: to surpass Russell Baze as the winningest jockey of all time. In the magical moments following his 12,845th winning ride aboard Hope Glory (Honour and Glory), “Ricardinho” spoke with humility and passion: “I thank everyone for the support and affection they always gave me. But I also want to thank Russell Baze with all my heart–he is the man who inspired me to move forward. He is a great person without whom I would not have achieved what I achieved. I have respect for an incredible professional who is as much the owner of this record as I am.”

Now 56 years old, Jorge Ricardo is happy–relieved, it could be said–after his dream to be the jockey with most all-time wins became a reality. The road to the record consisted of two steps. His story begun in his native Brazil and wrapped up in Argentina, where he has competed for more than a decade. While everything went according to plan, Ricardo admittedly endured some discomfort in the final days leading up to his crowning accomplishment.

“I was getting anxious, very nervous,” Ricardo said. “At Gavea, in Brazil, Monday’s rain ruined me, because all the races went to the dirt and my horses had [a great] chance on the grass. I lost two incredible races.”

Ricardo’s voice nearly broke when describing the feeling of finally breaking the record.

“I felt happiness, joy, desire to embrace everyone–I remembered everyone,” Ricardo said. “Many people who were there to see it–and another who is no longer there, who were part of my career–[encouraged me] to do what I like the most.”

Ricardo said that, barring the unforeseen, he knew he would eventually capture the record.

“I never doubted that I would tie the record or [surpass] it–never–even in the worst moments,” Ricardo said. “After my last fall, I knew that only death could keep me from realizing my dream. I know that 20, 30 or 40 is not the same as at 56, but I am not finished either. I have good form, I take care of myself more than ever and I am still able to fight.”

Ricardo had a bout with cancer in 2009, and he also won that race. He held the jockey record at the time of his diagnosis, but Baze amassed more victories in the twilight of his career and regained the lead while Ricardo underwent treatment.

The goal of regaining the record was a driving force for “Ricardinho” all these years and, true to form, he said he will attack every future goal with similar motivation.

“Every race that I win from now on will be a new record–it sounds good,” Ricardo said with a laugh. “My goal is now fulfilled and my new goal will be to continue with the same enthusiasm and the same professionalism to get the best advantage possible. At the end of the year, I will decide what to do–I will see how my body and head are and I will decide if I should keep riding or retire. I think it is more likely that I will stay active, but be more selective. But I’ll talk to my family and I’ll decide.”

Ricardo also took a moment to reflect on the attention his accomplishment gained across the globe.

“It brings great emotion and equally great pride,” Ricardo said. “It was not easy to achieve it, and to see that it has been talked about in so many countries [is special]. It’s the same here in South America, having gained so many friends throughout my career. I have nothing but gratitude to all of them.”

The Brazilian waited all his life to reach this sublime moment. With Hope Glory, he finally broke the record with the same passion and heart that have defined him throughout his magnificent and incomparable career. But he always desires more wins, so it came as no surprise that Ricardo quickly registered win number 12,846 aboard Gold Attraction (Lingote de Oro).

Each race that he wins in the future will only add to his legend even more, adding to a sense of pride amongst the South American racing community. The passage of time, which is sure to eventually see “Ricardinho” hang up his tack, will reveal one of the most important jockeys in the history of horse racing and one of the greatest professionals in the history of sport.


Littlemore Takes NHC 2018

Sun, 2018-02-11 20:36

On stage in the Treasure Island ballroom, Canadian Chris Littlemore breathed a literal sigh of relief yesterday as War Heroine (Lonhro {Aus}) dug in to take the Sweet Life S. at Santa Anita. The longtime leader, Littlemore had watched his advantage steadily dwindle during the final day of the National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas. But Littlemore picked War Heroine at 9-2 in the final mandatory race and, in the process, won the near $3 million NHC in exciting fashion. Littlemore will take home $800,000 for his efforts, as well as an Eclipse Award as Horseplayer of the Year.

“I didn’t like the races that much today, and I got lucky that a lot of chalk came in, and that kept me on top,” said Littlemore, who began the day with a commanding $57 lead over second-placed Keith Fenton. “I didn’t have a good day today, but I just kept picking away.”

After an extended drought in the semi-final round, Littlemore was still on top as the field of 70 was whittled down to 10 at The Final Table. He picked up $5.60 by selecting the place horse in the first of the seven mandatory races in the final, which helped him regain confidence.

“Any time you score, it changes your mindset,” he said. “You feel better about yourself and how you’re looking at the races. As the day wore on, I just kept missing, but did have a place score on a 25-1 that nearly won, which would’ve been huge.”

Still, after six final-round races in the book, Littlemore’s lead had dropped to $16.80. Everything came down to the Sweet Life S., where War Heroine was stepping on to the turf for the first time.

“I was fortunate that no big long shots came in to overtake me,” he said. “I picked the right horse in the last one, and that got me through.”

It wasn’t Littlemore’s first score at Treasure Island, where the NHC is held annually. He won an NHC consolation tournament a few years back. “That tournament gave me the confidence I could be competitive [at the highest levels], and I’m just lucky here, I guess.”

Littlemore became the third Canadian to win the NHC and the second consecutive. Fellow countryman Ray Arsenault won in 2017.

“It’s just something in the water up there,” Littlemore laughed.

Littlemore is a retired autoworker who lives about 30 miles outside of Toronto.

“I was an autoworker for 31 years, and now I just like to play tournaments and bring my son to hockey,” he said. “I’m just a normal guy.”

Fenton also came up with War Heroine in the day’s finale, helping him to regain second-place honors from Garett Skiba.’

The final leaderboard stood as such:

1 Chris Littlemore 348.3

2 Keith Fenton 315.1

3 Garett Skiba 314

4 Tom Noone 287.6

5 Stephanie Schmidt 277.9

6 Scott Carson 267.8

7 Gloria Kahlden 262.5

8 David Watts 260.7

9 John Roe 260.1

10 Daniel Hart 256.1

Paul Matties Jr., the 2016 NHC winner, didn’t make it to the semifinals, but came away with a prize nonetheless. The Ballston Spa, NY, resident won the $50,000 consolation tournament, edging Lawrence Kahlden by the narrowest of margins, 100.8 to 100.6. Matties picked up a check for $10,000 for the win. Kahlden is the husband of Final Table finalist Gloria Kahlden.

Ladies were well-represented on the NHC Final Table. Despite comprising just 6% of the tournament players, two of the 10 finalists, 20%, made it to the final. Stephanie Schmidt, who qualified from a Del Mar tournament, came to the Final Table in fourth. She concluded in fifth with $277.90. Gloria Kahlden of St. Petersburg, FL, who has horses in training with Tom Amoss, finished in seventh with $262.50. Kahlden had a good week in Vegas, and not just at the NHC. She hit for nearly $44,000 on a Treasure Island slot machine, too. For footage of that tremendous celebration, click here (

For the full leaderboard of the NHC, visit

Owner Sanders Goes 14th at NHC

A week ago, Ten Strike Racing’s Clay Sanders knew he had a least one entry in the NHC. A second possible entry, meanwhile, was just on the bubble. But a last-minute defection by another player opened the door for Sanders, and that turned out to be a big stroke of luck: it was on that second entry that Sanders advanced into yesterday’s semi-final in Las Vegas.

(If you’re unfamiliar with the NHC, tournament rules allow for players to qualify for two entries, but no more. So there were 702 entries in 2018, but only 568 individual players.)

Sanders started the day in 39th at $189.90, but after cashing the 5-1 Could Be (Candy Ride {Arg}) in the first at Gulfstream, jumped all the way to sixth on the leaderboard. With just two races to play, he slipped out of the Top 10 and checked in at 14th. That’s a big finish for someone making his second appearance at the NHC. His first came in 2015.

Sanders is a Memphis-based financial analyst who, along with fellow NHC qualifier Marshall Gramm, owns Ten Strike Racing. Ten Strike has been on its own hot streak of late. They own the 3-year-old filly Cheponera (Flat Out), who easily won a Churchill maiden claimer in November, then made the big jump into allowance company and cleared off by 3 1/4 lengths in $76,000 event at Oaklawn Feb. 2. Cheponera next targets the

GIII Honeybee S. at Oaklawn.

Sanders says he became a fan of racing and handicapping growing up in Arkansas.

“People probably don’t realize it, but Oaklawn on Saturdays is the place to go,” he said. “There are huge crowds on the weekends. So some of my buddies grew up going there, and I’d go with them sometimes. I’m a numbers guy, so I was quickly hooked. When I graduated college, a lot of people were golfing on the weekends, and I’d go to bet the horses.”

As his career took off, Clay became involved in horse ownership, too.

“I randomly met Marshall at a banquet,” said Sanders. “He’s an economist and a professor at Rhodes College, and we had invited him to speak to our group. He mentioned how he does all his research on sports betting and playing horses, and my eyes lit up. It’s kind of a lonely sport; there aren’t too many people who can speak the language when you’re a hardcore handicapper.”

The two became friends and would meet up for lunch once a month. “We’d talk and bounce ideas off each other,” said Sanders. “We eventually began buying horses together, and now I talk to him 10 times a day. My wife calls him my second wife.”

Ten Strike has won owners titles at Monmouth and several at Parx, and is perennially a leading owner at Oaklawn, too. Sanders has also owned pieces of the Grade I winners Dayatthespa (City Zip), Watsdachances (Ire) (Diamond Green {Fr}), Mind Your Biscuits (Posse) and Desert Blanc (GB) (Desert Style {Ire}).

“The whole game is about diversification and having more bullets.” said Sanders. “We breed, we own pieces of stallions, we do some pinhooking.”

But at the end of the day, Sanders said he and Gramm are handicappers first.

“A lot of people who own horses only handicap on the side,” he said. “But we play the races every day. We both just love the science of figuring out who’s going to win.”

He added of the NHC, “This is basically a horseplayers conference. Even if you don’t have a shot at winning, it’s so much fun because of the camaraderie. Some of our best friends in horse racing, we’ve met here.”

Ten Strike itself was well-represented at the NHC, with a total of six partners competing.


Fords Really Like Ike

Sun, 2018-02-11 19:27

Trainer Bob Baffert unveiled another promising sophomore Sunday when Joe and Scott Ford’s Westrock Stables’ Ike (Paynter) scored a gritty debut win at Santa Anita.

Asked for his expectations going into Sunday’s race, Scott Ford laughed, “We don’t have expectations anymore–we just hope. We were hopeful that he would show himself well. There were a couple of really nice horses in that race, so you never know. And it was 6 1/2 furlongs and he wasn’t in race shape, per se. Bob has just been trying to get him there. He called after and he said, ‘Now, he’s ready.’ Before that, he had said, ‘6 1/2 is a little far.’ But it worked out.”

Joe Ford founded Alltel and Scott was C.EO. of the telecommunications company until it was sold in 2009. The father/son team are co-founders of the investment firm Westrock Group.

Based in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Fords were initially involved in Quarter Horse racing before transitioning to Thoroughbreds in the mid-2000s. One of their earliest purchases was Ike’s dam Dreamcaster (GB) (Bernardini), who they purchased for $250,000 at the 2009 Keeneland November sale.

Also trained by Baffert, Dreamcaster was a debut winner at Del Mar in 2011, but was injured after a start in that year’s GI Del Mar Debutante.

“She ran twice and got hurt,” Ford said. “We were really, really excited about her.”

He added with a rueful chuckle, “She’s one of the reasons we no longer have any expectations. We just hope.”

The Westrock broodmare band has been cut back in recent years, but still includes Dreamcaster and graded stakes placed Heykittykittykitty (Tactical Cat).

“At one point a couple of years ago, we’d gotten up to about 12 or 14 [broodmares] and I think at this juncture we have three or four. Sometimes we breed them commercially and sometimes we breed them and keep them to race.”

One that looked destined for the sales ring was Ike, who worked a bullet quarter-mile in :21 2/5 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale in May.

“My father and I were battling back and forth,” Ford said. “We kept him because you don’t get too many chances with a horse like him. We don’t have expectations, but you don’t get too many along the way that at least have the potential to be a really fun horse. You get a lot of really nice horses, but every now and then you get one special. And he’s been special since he was a baby. We couldn’t part with him at the end of the day.”

Westrock Stables has campaigned graded stakes winners Secret Compass, Sky Kingdom, Den’s Legacy, Be Fair and Decelerator, as well as 2010 GI Kentucky Oaks third-place finisher Tidal Pool. In addition to Ike, the stable currently has three horses in training with Ron Moquett at Oaklawn Park and about eight 2-year-olds in Ocala with Ciaran Dunne.

All early signs are positive after Ike’s debut success Sunday.

“I have heard that he came back clean and all looks well,” Ford reported.

Flameaway Due Back for Tampa Bay Derby

Sun, 2018-02-11 18:00

John Oxley’s Flameaway (Scat Daddy), a battling winner of the GIII Sam F. Davis S. Feb. 10, will return to Tampa to contest the $400,000 GII Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby Mar. 10, trainer Mark Casse confirmed Sunday.

“I had that conversation with Mr. Oxley this morning, and that is the plan,” Casse told the Tampa press office. Casse conditioned the Oxley-owned Prospective (Malibu Moon) to win the 2012 Tampa Bay Derby.

The $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga graduate was making his second start of the season Saturday and was returning to the main track off a hard-fought success in the grassy Kitten’s Joy S. at Gulfstream Jan. 6. He stopped the timer in a stakes-record 1:42.44, bettering the time ‘TDN Rising Star’ McCraken (Ghostzapper) recorded last year by 0.01 seconds.

Flameaway was not an early Triple Crown nominee, but will be entered at the late closing stage in mid-March, Casse said.

Beaten Davis favorite Catholic Boy (More Than Ready) was shipped to Bridlewood Farm in Ocala following Saturday’s race and is under consideration for a few different races, but trainer Jonathan Thomas suggested the colt will have just one more prep before the GI Kentucky Derby.

“Catholic Boy replicated his 91 Beyer [Speed Figure] from [winning] the Grade II Remsen [S. in December at Aqueduct] and he’s healthy,” Thomas said. “In retrospect, I might have been a little light on him from a training perspective, but we’re anticipating a long spring. We’ll probably try to have one more prep and, if he’s good enough, he will earn his way into [the Kentucky Derby].”

Paynter Colt Gets the Vote

Sun, 2018-02-11 16:55

3rd-SA, $54,345, (C), Msw, 2-11, 3yo, 6 1/2f, 1:17.81, ft.
IKE (c, 3, Paynter–Dreamcaster {GB}, by Bernardini), the even-money choice, broke from the outside in the six-horse field and contested the pace four wide through an opening quarter in :22.45. He forged to a narrow lead after a half in :45.60 and opened a clear advantage at midstretch. More Honor (More Than Ready) was relentlessly cutting into his lead late only to come up a half-length short of the favorite at the wire. Dreamcaster, a daughter of MGSP Winendynme (Dynaformer), was purchased by Joe and Scott Ford’s Westrock Stables for $250,000 as a weanling at the 2009 Keeneland November sale. She made two starts in the Westrock colors, winning her debut at Del Mar in 2011 for Bob Baffert before finishing seventh in the GI Del Mar Debutante a month later. After aborting her 2017 foal, the mare was bred to Speightster. She also produced a colt by Gemologist in 2016. Ike worked a quarter in a bullet :21 2/5 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale last May before being withdrawn from the auction. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $32,400.

O/B-Westrock Stables LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert.


Big Gains at Inglis Continue

Sun, 2018-02-11 16:24

After the close of the second of four days of selling during the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale, 296 lots have cumulatively grossed A$30,391,500, over A$2.5 million above last year’s gross at this point. The clearance rate is a positive 90% over the first two days, with an average of A$102,657 (+36%) and a median of A$80,000 (+45.5%). A colt by sire of the moment I Am Invincible (Aus) topped proceedings at A$400,000 and was purchased by Hong Kong’s Sun Bloodstock.

During just Sunday’s session, 191 yearlings found new homes from 215 offered, good for a clearance rate of 89%. The gross was A$16,729,000, while the average increased by 31.4% to A$87,586 and the median rose even more, gaining 40% to A$70,000.

Yarraman Park’s I Am Invincible is now responsible for four of the five top-priced lots after two days of trade, including Sunday’s topper, a colt out of the winning Chickasaw (NZ) (Flying Spur {Aus}. He leads by aggregate, A$2,505,000 for 9 sold, as well as by average, which stands at A$278,333. Lot 316, offered by Yarraman, currently the leading vendor with an an aggregate of A$1,922,500 for 10 sold, is from the family of MG1SW Malaguerra (Aus) (Magnus {Aus}).

“We are very happy as vendors with the whole sale,” Yarraman’s Harry Mitchell said. “It’s been going very well. The buyers are here, the market’s good and we’ve got stallions people like which doesn’t hurt either. The Chickasaw colt, he’s a lovely horse who we knew would sell well because he’s a great type.”

Trainer Tony McEvoy has been busy during the first two days of the Classic Yearling Sale, snapping up a wide range of lots, eight in total and seven on Sunday alone, from A$40,000 to A$340,000 for a net of A$1,360,000. Leading the way among the octet is lot 130, a filly by Zoustar (Aus) from the draft of Rosemont Stud.

“Why wouldn’t I be here for that reason?” McEvoy said, with an eye toward winning the A$2-million Inglis Millennium on the all new A$4-million Inglis Race Day scheduled to begin the Saturday afternoon prior to the Classic Yearling Sale night session in 2019. “It’s a fantastic initiative and I want to be the inaugural winning trainer. The Zoustar filly, she’s got class, a great head and eye and she’s feisty, which I love.”

The filly is the second foal out of the winning Special Favour (Aus) (General Nediym {Aus}), while her second dam is MGSW and MG1SP My Tusker (NZ) (Volksraad {GB}), a half-sister to MGSP Platinum Passion (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}), already responsible for listed hero Tribal Wisdom (Aus) (Makfi {GB}). McEvoy is already familiar with this family, having purchased a son of Fastnet Rock (Aus) out of My Tusker (lot 123) for A$175,000 out of the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale last month. Fourth dam is champion Horlicks (NZ) (Three Legs {GB}), who produced champion Australian stayer Brew (NZ) (Sir Tristram {Ire}) and New Zealand champion female stayer Bubble (NZ) (Sir Tristram {Ire}).

Lot 193, the third dearest lot on the day, once again went the way of McEvoy, as he paid A$300,000 for the Lucas Bloodstock offering. Previously purchased for A$180,000 out of the Inglis Chairman’s Sale last April from the Newhaven Park draft, the son of Newgate Farm’s Deep Field (Aus) is out of a sister to Group 3 hero Exceedingly Good (Aus) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), as well as Better Be The One (Aus) (More Than Ready), a MSW in Singapore.

“The Deep Field colt, he had a swagger about him, he looked a real athletic horse,” said McEvoy.

Another colt by Deep Field, Milburn Creek’s lot 157, sold for A$220,000 to Bruce Perry Bloodstock. He is a son of four-time winner Tahnee Topaz (Aus) (Lonhro {Aus}), a half-sister to three SP runners. One of the trio, Tahnee Tango (Aus) (Grand Lodge), has produced Group 3 winner Worthy Cause (Aus) (Choisir {Aus}).

Young sire Pierro (Aus) also enjoyed a decent session, with Sweetbriar Equine shelling out A$260,000 for lot 127, a colt out of G3 Glenlogan Park S. heroine Sookie (Aus) (Casino Prince {Aus}). The Newgate Farm-consigned colt’s third dam is Australian champion juvenile filly Victory Vein (Aus) (Mr Henrysee).

The third day of the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale Book 1 will be held on Monday, beginning at 11 a.m. local time, with lots 361-600 going through the ring. For the complete results, go to

Champ World Approval Takes His Win Streak Into 2018

Sat, 2018-02-10 19:02

Fresh off a win at the Eclipse awards, champion World Approval carried his win streak into 2018 with a determined score in the GIII Tampa Bay S. Away in good order, the 1-5 favorite was well back off dueling longshots Le Ken (Arg) (Easing Along) and Western Reserve (Indian Charlie) in third through an opening half-mile in :46.66. Closing the gap as three-quarters went up in 1:10.32, the 6-year-old gelding moved just in time to avoid getting caught up in an incident when Doctor Mounty (Street Sense) fell to the turf and Cheyenne’s Colonel (Colonel John) fell over him. Drawing even with the leaders while running three wide turning for home, World Approval took control at the top of the stretch and immediately bounded clear. Forge would not let the Eclipse winner get away that easy and charged after him, making it a two-horse race to the wire. World Approval always had his rivals measure, however, and hit the line a half-length clear. It was four lengths back to third-place finisher Fire Away. Both Doctor Mounty and Cheyenne’s Colonel got to their feet immediately following the spill and galloped across the finish line on their own accord. Jockey Manny Cruz, rider of Cheyenne’s Colonel), was transported to a local hospital and Antonio Gallardo was evaluated in the jockeys room.

“I feel bad for the two horses that fell and those jockeys,” said winning trainer Mark Casse. “[World Approval] has been better than he was today, but hopefully this will set a nice foundation for him this year. He’s a funny horse. He is not going to let you by.”

“He was coming off a long layoff and sometimes they need a race, but he’s still a true champion and he put everybody away down the lane,” Hall of Famer John Velazquez said. “I think when we passed a mile it was getting a little long for him with the layoff and [the extra sixteenth] hit him right in the head a little bit.”

Winner of the 2015 GIII American Derby and GIII Saranac S. and the 2016 GI United Nations S., World Approval won the GII Dixie S. last term before finding his niche as a turf miler. A decisive winner of Saratoga’s GI Fourstardave H., the Live Oak homebred captured the GI Woodbine Mile next out Sept. 16 and followed suit with a 1 1/4-length score in the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile, making him the overwhelming choice for champion turf male.

Pedigree Notes:

World Approval’s blue hen dam Win Approval, profiled by Steve Sherack prior to his Breeders’ Cup win, joined Hasili (Ire), Primal Force, Leslie’s Lady and Sweet Life as producers of multiple Breeders’ Cup winners. From 10 foals, the pensioned 25-year-old has produced nine starters, eight winners, four graded stakes winners and progeny earnings of $8,811,808. Her first Eclipse winner was Miesque’s Approval, who was named champion grass horse after his victory in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Mile. She is also responsible for MGSW millionaire Revved Up and MGSW & MGISP millionaire Za Approval (Ghostzapper). A second-generation Live Oak homebred, two-time winner Win Approval was bought back for $38,000 as a weanling at the 1992 OBS Fall Mixed Sale.

Saturday, Tampa Bay Downs
TAMPA BAY S.-GIII, $175,000, TAM, 2-10, 4yo/up, 1 1/16mT, 1:40.66, fm.
1–WORLD APPROVAL, 124, g, 6, by Northern Afleet
1st Dam: Win Approval, by With Approval
2nd Dam: Negotiator, by Hoist the Flag
3rd Dam: Geneva II, by Gulf-Weed
O-Live Oak Plantation; B-Live Oak Stud (FL); T-Mark E. Casse;
J-John R. Velazquez. $115,000. Lifetime Record: Ch. Turf
Male-US, MGISW, 25-12-2-4, $3,052,363. *1/2 to Revved Up
(Sultry Song), MGSW & MGISP, $1,394,666; $1,548,653;
Miesque’s Approval (Miesque’s Son), Ch. Grass Horse-US,
GISW, $2,648,879; and Za Approval (Ghostzapper), MGSW,
$1,394,666. Werk Nick Rating: A++. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Forge (GB), 117, h, 5, Dubawi (Ire)–Heat Haze (GB), by Green
Desert. O-Juddmonte Farms, Inc.; B-Juddmonte Farms Ltd
(GB); T-William I. Mott. $30,000.
3–Fire Away, 117, h, 6, War Front–Salute, by Unbridled.
O/B-Phipps Stable (KY); T-Claude R. McGaughey III. $15,000.
Margins: HF, 4, HF. Odds: 0.20, 12.20, 8.30.
Also Ran: Tasit, Noble Thought, Le Ken (Arg), Western Reserve, Cheyenne’s Colonel, Doctor Mounty. Scratched: Brass Compass.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Jimmy Creed’s Kanthaka Rallies to Upset San Vicente

Sat, 2018-02-10 18:10


Kanthaka became just the second graded stakes winner for his young sire Jimmy Creed with a late running score in the GII San Vicente S. Saturday. Fifth in his Del Mar unveiling Nov. 11, the $140,000 BARMAR buy charged by late to graduate by a neck next out over this track and trip Dec. 26 and was given a 10-1 chance in this six-horse affair. Away alertly, the chestnut settled back in a three-wide fifth as heavily favored Ax Man (Misremembered) and longshot Mr. Jagermeister (Atta Boy Roy) duked it out through a sharp first quarter in :22 flat and a half in :44.25 with $950,000 FTSAUG purchase Nero (Pioneerof the Nile) close behind in third. Swiftly advancing up the backstretch run, Kanthaka exploded in the lane, flying clear to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Nero was the only one attempting to chase after the leader and finished second, 12 lengths clear of third-place finisher All Out Blitz. Favored Ax Man faded to fourth.

“We thought we had a good chance because we thought a lot of speed would be in there, which there was,” said winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who also saddled Saturday’s GII Santa Maria S. winner Unique Bella (Tapit). “They went :22 and :44, so we thought we might have a chance to close them down, especially the way he broke his maiden. He got in trouble, and then still won, so that was pretty impressive.”

The San Vicente was the 100th stakes win for ownership group West Point Thoroughbreds.

“This feels great,” West Point’s Jeff Lifson said. “It never gets old. We were hoping that he can rate and not get too far behind the speed and Flavien [Prat] just rode him perfectly. He responded well in the stretch and we knew he tries really hard and he lived up to what we thought he would do. So, we’re really happy. We’re hoping that he can stretch out. We’ll find that out but I have a feeling we’ll try two turns and will see how it goes.”

Pedigree Notes:

Kanthaka is the second graded stakes winner to come from the first crop of Spendthrift’s GI Malibu S. winner Jimmy Creed, following GII Sorrento S. heroine Spectator. The winner is the first foal out of the unraced mare Sliced Bread, who is a half-sister to Japanese MSW Red Chili Pepper (Unbridled). She produced another colt by Jimmy Creed in 2016 and a Hampton Court (Aus) filly in 2017. The 7-year-old mare was bred back to Hit It a Bomb.

SAN VICENTE S.-GII, $200,345, SA, 2-10, 3yo, 7f, 1:22.62, ft.
1–KANTHAKA, 120, c, 3, by Jimmy Creed
1st Dam: Sliced Bread, by Noonmark
2nd Dam: Raise a Carter, by Dr. Carter
3rd Dam: Raise an Heiress, by Raise a Native
RNA Ylg ’16 FTKJUL; $140,000 2yo ’17 BARMAR). O-West Point
Thoroughbreds; B-Spendthrift Farm LLC (KY); T-Jerry
Hollendorfer; J-Flavien Prat. $120,000. Lifetime Record:
3-2-0-0, $153,440. Click eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Werk Nick Rating: A.2–Nero, 120, c, 3, Pioneerof the Nile–Ocean Goddess, by
Stormy Atlantic. ($950,000 Ylg ’16 FTSAUG). O-M. Tabor, M.
Magnier, D. Smith & Stonestreet Stables LLC; B-Thor-Bred
Stables, LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert. $40,000.3–All Out Blitz, 120, c, 3, Concord Point–Smart and Single, by
Smart Strike. O/B-Kaleem Shah, Inc. (KY); T-Simon Callaghan.
$24,000.Margins: 3 1/4, 12, 3/4. Odds: 11.10, 9.10, 9.00.
Also Ran: Ax Man, Kris’ Rocket Kat, Mr. Jagermeister. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Tiznow Filly Scores in the Martha Washington

Sat, 2018-02-10 17:55

Runner-up going this trip beneath the Twin Spires when unveiled Oct. 29, Red Ruby donned cap and gown going 1 1/16 miles there Nov. 25. Second choice on the board, the gray brushed with a rival leaving the stalls, and soon rushed up to sit a very rank fourth through the early going. Sneaking in between horses on the far turn, Red Ruby took dead aim on the leader past six furlongs in 1:12.63 and skipped clear down the lane to win going away for her first black-type rosette.

“She’s trained on an off track here in the last month and she handled that beautifully, so I wasn’t concerned at all,” said winning trainer Kellyn Gorder. “It [Martha Washington] was our plan all along. We had an option to go in an allowance race earlier in the meet and she was training too well, so I decided, ‘Let’s go to the stake.'”

Already the half-sister to SW & MGISP Beautician (Dehere), SW Bella Castani (Big Brown), and GSW Mo Tom (Uncle Mo), Red Ruby is followed by a 2-year-old filly named Tobago (Pioneerof the Nile). Caroni, herself a half-sister to MGSW Kashatreya (Daring Groom), was covered by Uncle Mo in 2016 and Honor Code last term. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

MARTHA WASHINGTON S., $122,500, OP, 2-10, 3yo, f, 1m, 1:39.67, sy.
1–RED RUBY, 118, f, 3, by Tiznow
                1st Dam: Caroni, by Rubiano
                2nd Dam: Douce Carotte, by Caro (Ire)
                3rd Dam: Kshesinskaya, by Nijinsky II
1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN. O-Sandra Sexton & Brandi Nicholson;
B-Hargus & Sandra Sexton & Silver Fern Farm, LLC (KY);
T-Kellyn Gorder; J-Robby Albarado. $75,000. Lifetime Record:
3-2-1-0, $123,000. *1/2 to Beautician (Dehere), SW & MGISP,
$636,175; Bella Castani (Big Brown), SW, $128,225; and Mo
Tom (Uncle Mo), GSW, $665,356.2–Sassy Sienna, 119, f, 3, Midshipman–Tap for Gold, by
Pleasant Tap. ($65,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP). O-Medallion Racing
& Jerry McClanahan; B-Haymarket Farm LLC (KY); T-Brad H.
Cox. $25,000.3–Cosmic Burst, 122, f, 3, Violence–Peggy Ring, by
Ghostzapper. ($20,000 Ylg ’16 EASJAN; $25,000 Ylg ’16
KEESEP). O-Norma Lee Stockseth & Todd Dunn; B-Pewter
Stable (PA); T-Donnie K. Von Hemel. $12,500.Margins: 2HF, 4 1/4, 8HF. Odds: 2.50, 3.00, 2.50.
Also Ran: Tyfosha, Secret Passion. Scratched: Grats Road.

Flameaway Shows Grit in the Sam F. Davis

Sat, 2018-02-10 17:28

John Oxley’s Flameaway (Scat Daddy), already a winner on turf, Tapeta and wet dirt, proved he could also handle a dry main track Saturday as he ferociously fended off heavily favored Catholic Boy (More Than Ready) in Tampa’s GIII Sam F. Davis S. Saturday. Vino Rosso (Curlin) was a fast-charging third.

Dismissed at 10-1 off a narrow score in Gulfstream’s grassy Kitten’s Joy S. Jan. 6, the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga grad was pushed on for speed from the gate to seize the early advantage as Catholic Boy was hung wide into the first bend in second last of a compact field. Clicking off splits of :47.73 and 1:11.15, he was challenged by the chalk heading for home and that one seemed to be going better of the two. Catholic Boy poked his head in front in upper stretch while keeping Flameaway pinned to the rail, but the pacesetter punched back determinedly, and found a second wind to claw back the advantage and prevail by a half-length.

“He is a very nice horse who I think is improving with every race,” said winning pilot Jose Lezcano. “He’s very quiet, not hyper at all, and he gives you what you ask for. I think he will be a nice horse in the future.”

Jonathan Thomas, who trains the GIII With Anticipation S. and GII Remsen S.-winning runner-up, said, “I really need to watch the race again, but I thought it was a big effort giving six pounds. I’m happy because it was a good effort. I just need to see it again and digest the race.”

Saturday, Tampa Bay Downs
SAM F. DAVIS S.-GIII, $200,000, TAM, 2-10, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:42.44, ft.
1–FLAMEAWAY, 120, c, 3, by Scat Daddy
                1st Dam: Vulcan Rose, by Fusaichi Pegasus
                2nd Dam: Rose of Tara (Ire), by Generous (Ire)
                3rd Dam: Flame of Tara (Ire), by Artaius
($150,000 Ylg ’16 KEEJAN; $400,000 Ylg ’16 FTSAUG). O-John
Oxley; B-Phoenix Rising Farms (ON); T-Mark E. Casse; J-Jose
Lezcano. $120,000. Lifetime Record: 7-5-0-0, $434,834. *1/2
to Ellan Vannin (Spring At Last), SW, $120,021. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.

2–Catholic Boy, 122, c, 3, More Than Ready–Song of
Bernadette, by Bernardini. ($170,000 RNA Ylg ’16 KEEJAN).
O-Robert V. LaPenta & Madaket Stables LLC; B-Fred W.
Hertrich III & John D. Fielding (KY); T-Jonathan Thomas.
$40,000.3–Vino Rosso, 116, c, 3, Curlin–Mythical Bride, by Street Cry
(Ire). ($410,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP). O-Repole Stable & St. Elias
Stable; B-John D. Gunther (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $20,000.
Margins: HF, 3/4, 8HF. Odds: 10.30, 0.70, 2.30.Also Ran: Hollywood Star, Navy Armed Guard, Septimius Severus. Scratched: Vouch.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Heart to Heart had settled for second in Grade I company three times previously, but the speedy 7-year-old finally came out on the other end of a close one Saturday to break through at the highest level.

Boasting a four-for-six record over the local lawn and two wins from three tries at nine panels, the bay zipped to the front from his rail draw as expected. He seemed briefly like he’d take heat from a keen One Go All Go, but that one settled down into the first turn and allowed Heart to Heart to find his rhythm through splits of :24.15, :48.74 and :1:12.08. Kurilov (Chi) loomed the clear main danger as he revved up from the pocket spinning for home, and while that foe gave game chase, Heart to Heart had enough left in the tank to find the wire with a sliver to spare.

“He broke good and I got to the lead, and I was pretty comfortable the whole way,” said rider Julien Leparoux, who was climbing back aboard Heart to Heart for the 16th time, having been in the irons in only one of his last four prior starts. “I’m glad the wire was coming, too, though because they were coming fast at the end. The horse he tries, he tries hard, and he deserves that Grade I win and we finally got one. We’re all very happy about it.”

A winner of the GIII Canadian Turf S. here some 11 months ago going a mile, Heart to Heart missed by a neck when second in Keeneland’s GI Maker’s 46 Mile in April and checked in third by 3/4 of a length in Santa Anita’s GI Shoemaker Mile in June. He returned to winning ways in Saratoga’s GII Bernard Baruch H. Sept. 4, but was again collared late to play second fiddle in Keeneland’s GI Shadwell Turf Mile Oct. 7. Tenth, beaten three lengths in the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile Nov. 4, he was most recently seventh after a uncharacteristic poor start in the GII Fort Lauderdale S. here Jan. 13.

“The elusive Grade I!” beamed Heart to Heart’s trainer Brian Lynch. “Watching him come back in and blowing as hard as he blew after that race, he gave it his all to win the race. He’s an absolute deserved horse to have a ‘one’ next to his name. It’s nice to get it done here, because he’s always loved this track.”

Pedigree Notes:

Heart to Heart’s dam Ask the Question most recently sold for $35,000 in foal to Silent Name (Jpn) at the 2014 Keeneland November sale. The resulting filly, bred by Hidden Brook Farm, Everett Dobson and Chris Swann, was a $4,500 KEESEP yearling RNA, but was a maiden special weight winner up at Woodbine in October. Ask The Question’s 2-year-old Animal Kingdom colt was a $75,000 KEESEP yearling purchase by Cecil Seaman. She produced a Liam’s Map colt last term before highly coveted visit to Quality Road this past breeding season.


Champion Unique Bella Dominates in Santa Maria

Sat, 2018-02-10 16:49

Newly crowned champion Unique Bella made a mockery of the GII Santa Maria, going gate-to-wire in what was the equivalent of a paid workout. Seizing the early advantage, the “TDN Rising Star” maintained a comfortable lead as she loped along through early fractions of :23.54 and :46.80. Turning for home in front with Hall of Famer Mike Smith still motionless in the irons, the 1-9 chalk effortlessly sailed further clear in the lane to win as she pleased.

“I really don’t think we’ve seen how good she can be,” Smith said. “I’ve surely seen how easily she’s doing things right now which I think is extremely impressive. I truly believe we haven’t gotten to the bottom of it. There could even be more to her. I’m excited to see what the future holds for her, I really am. There are some different things we can do with her too because of her size. She probably can step up to the boys at some point. Who knows because she’s not just a one-gutted kind of filly. She’s got a lot to her. She’s built more like a colt.”

“I think we’ll look at the next race here [GI Santa Margarita S. Mar. 17] and try to point for that, and then who knows what will happen after that,” winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. “We’ll look at the Santa Margarita for sure. There are other races around the same time. We’d look at the [GI] Apple Blossom [at Oaklawn Apr. 13], but I’d like to stay home if we can.”

Dominant winner of the GII Santa Ynez S., GII Las Virgenes S. and GIII Santa Ysabel S. last term, Unique Bella was subsequently sidelined and returned as good as ever with a facile win in the GIII LA Woman S. Oct. 8. Fading to seventh as the favorite in the GI Breeders’ Cup F/M Sprint Nov. 4, the $400,000 KEESEP buy returned to winning ways in the GI La Brea S. Dec. 26, a victory which clinched her the Eclipse statue as 2017’s top female sprinter.

Pedigree Notes:

Unique Bella’s dam Unrivaled Belle would be a champion herself had she not had her career-best year in 2010, which was Hall of Famer Zenyatta’s final year on the racetrack. The gray scored back-to-back victories in that term’s GIII Rampart S. and GII La Troienne S. and finished second in her next three starts, all of which were in Grade I company. She closed out her 2010 season with a career high, winning the GI Breeders’ Ladies Classic over 2010 champion 3-year-old filly and race favorite Blind Luck (Pollard’s Vision) and 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace (Saint Liam).

Making just two starts in 2011, Unrivaled Belle was retired and sent through the ring at Keeneland November, where she summoned $2.8 million from Brushwood Stable. She went back through the Keeneland ring in November 2016 and topped the sale on a final bid of $3.8 million from Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm. A daughter of MGSW Queenie Belle (Bertrando), the 12-year-old mare has a 3-year-old filly named Relicario (Malibu Moon), who hammered for $550,000 KEESEP purchase. Unrivaled Belle failed to get in foal to Bernardini the following year, but produced the filly Unrivaled Princess (Tapit) in 2017 and foaled a Tapit colt Jan. 28 of this year.

Saturday, Santa Anita Park
SANTA MARIA S.-GII, $200,000, SA, 2-10, 4yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16m, 1:43.45, ft.
1–UNIQUE BELLA, 122, f, 4, by Tapit
                1st Dam: Unrivaled Belle (GISW, $1,854,706),
                                by Unbridled’s Song
                2nd Dam: Queenie Belle, by Bertrando
                3rd Dam: Lady Argyle, by Don B.
‘TDN Rising Star’ ($400,000 Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O-Don Alberto
Stable; B-Brushwood Stable (PA); T-Jerry Hollendorfer; J-Mike

  1. Smith. $120,000. Lifetime Record: Ch. Female Sprinter-US, GISW,

9-7-1-0, $712,400. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*.
   Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.2–Mopotism, 124, f, 4, Uncle Mo–Peppy Rafaela, by Bernardini.
($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. $40,000.3–Majestic Heat, 124, m, 6, Unusual Heat–Chi Chi Nette, by
Ole’. O-M. Auerbach LLC, Bardy Farm & Ron McCauley;
B-Madeline Auerbach & Barry Abrams (CA); T-Richard E.
Mandella. $24,000.
Margins: 9, 1 1/4, 9HF. Odds: 0.10, 6.30, 8.20.
Also Ran: Shenandoah Queen, Kathy’s Song.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.