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Updated: 11 hours 43 min ago

The Week in Review: Commitment? What Commitment?

Sun, 2019-09-29 16:51

Earlier this month the Illinois Racing Board (IRB) challenged Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI) to a game of chicken over the fate of CDI-owned Arlington International Racecourse.

This past Tuesday, the IRB lost–badly–while serving up a civics lesson of sorts about what can happen when gaming corporations clash with the politically appointed government entities tasked with regulating them.

Two weeks ago, the IRB threatened not to award 2020 race dates to CDI-owned Arlington after the corporation intentionally missed an August deadline to apply for racino licensure that would have bolstered purses at the state’s premier track.

CDI’s inaction on the racino license stunned the Illinois Thoroughbred community because the corporation had used the horsemen’s decade-long support to partner on finally getting gaming legislation passed in June before CDI abruptly abandoned the idea of operating an Arlington racino, citing bottom-line financial concerns as the reason.

CDI’s refusal to go after an Arlington gaming license is additionally controversial because CDI has an ownership stake in a nearby casino and has stated an intent to open another near Chicago.

Beyond the apparent conflict of CDI not wanting Arlington to compete against its other gaming properties, there have been numerous published reports in Chicago media speculating that the racino holdout is just a ploy to get the state legislature to rewrite portions of the Illinois Gaming Act with terms that are more financially favorable to the corporation.

At a Sept. 17 race dates hearing, the IRB verbally jousted with CDI executives over the corporation’s lack of commitment to Thoroughbred racing at Arlington. IRB commissioner Thomas McCauley even scolded CDI for lacking “any regard for social responsibility whatsoever.” That meeting ended with the IRB mandating that CDI come back before the board in a week’s time to demonstrate some form of long-term dedication to racing in Illinois. A figurative “or else” was thrown in for good measure.

On the national level, CDI is increasingly facing questions about whether it maximizes its gaming holdings at the expense of its Thoroughbred racetrack roots. It currently owns and runs Thoroughbred racing at Churchill Downs, Arlington, Fair Grounds, and Presque Isle Downs.

But CDI’s stewardship so far this century also includes the demise of two key racetracks on the national landscape. The corporation owned Hollywood Park in California but sold it for development. And CDI now runs the former Calder Race Course in Florida as a casino while leasing out the bare-bones racing aspects of that facility to The Stronach Group to fulfill its state-mandated pari-mutuel requirement (while simultaneously battling for the right to do away with horses entirely in favor of jai alai).

So while the U.S. racing world waited with interest last week to see if a regulatory body would actually stand up for the sport by holding CDI accountable for its inaction at Arlington, those same seven days of waiting were quite likely viewed very differently by the nine IRB commissioners tasked with voting on whether Arlington would get dates in 2020.

Politically speaking, the focus in Chicago has zero to do with the long-term safeguarding of our sport and everything to do with making sure Arlington doesn’t go belly-up and cause economic dysfunction under the watch of the current cast of elected officials and the racing commissioners they appoint.

That reasoning is probably why the entire IRB board about-faced from the previous week’s hard-line stance and voted unanimously on Sept. 24 to grant Arlington the entire slate of 2020 dates CDI had requested without extracting even a single tangible concession or commitment to future racing from the corporation.

As David McCaffrey, the executive director of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (ITHA), told TDN after the meeting, the entire spectacle unfolded like a bizarre soap opera whose plot lacked continuity from week to week. Why did the IRB go through the charade of delaying the vote and demanding some sort of show of dedication when, in the end, none was offered by CDI or strongly pressed for by the commissioners?

As is often the case when executives from publicly traded companies testify at public hearings, what is not said under oath can be more telling that what is revealed. And last Tuesday’s IRB meeting did yield some corporate-speak tidbits that give subtle clues to CDI’s intentions.

Commissioner McCauley engaged in a one-on-one grilling of Bradley Blackwell, CDI’s senior vice president and general counsel, and their exchange included the following questions:

McCauley: “To the best of your knowledge and belief, have there ever been [CDI] meetings to discuss selling Arlington Park?”

Blackwell: “I cannot go into the specifics here. It would be irresponsible to do so and you shouldn’t expect for [us to do so] in a public hearing.”

McCauley: “Have there been such meetings to sell the real estate known as Arlington Park?”

Blackwell: “Commissioner McCauley, if your line of questions are to breach the confidence that are in management meetings or board of directors’ meetings, we cannot address any of those. We can only speak to what we’ve said publicly, and about our commitment to find a solution here.”

McCauley: “Has Churchill or Arlington agreed with any third party to not have a casino at Arlington?”

Blackwell: “Not to my knowledge. And again we cannot get into anything specific. But I’m not aware of anything.”

McCauley later asked if it was CDI’s intent to seek legislative changes to the Illinois Gaming Act.

Blackwell: “We cannot speak about our legislative strategy here. Again, that would be irresponsible, and jeopardize or prejudice those efforts.”

McCauley (growing irked): “I think I know the answer to my next question, but I’ll ask it anyway. Is it Churchill’s intention to re-evaluate implementing gaming at Arlington Park if those [Gaming Act] modifications [happen]?”

Blackwell: “Again, we are examining and working towards the best solution.”

The obvious question remains, “best solution” for which entity? CDI or the sport?

McCaffrey, of the ITHA, took particular umbrage with one dubious point that CDI officials raised early in the meeting that the IRB commissioners willingly latched onto: Both the board and the corporation somehow fell into agreement that since no racinos were up and running just yet in Illinois, it would be premature to look too far down the road to speculate what the impact of gaming-fueled purses might be. By extension, there all of a sudden seemed to be little reason to hold CDI’s corporate feet to the fire about what it might or might not do in the future at Arlington.

“It’s a stunningly superficial understanding of the sport to say something like that because breeders, owners, and horsemen make their plans based on what the future looks like,” McCaffrey said. “If Arlington had committed to a gaming license like Hawthorne [and Fairmount Park] had, it would have had a gigantic 2020 effect on recruiting, people going out to buy horses, and future breeding plans. It’s a superficial understanding of the industry if you don’t think that good news like that would filter through the industry regarding breeding.”

McCaffrey related a recent conversation he had with the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s bureau chief for County Fairs and Horse Racing, who acts as a liaison between the sport and the state.

“He told me the other day that between the time the legislature passed the Gaming Act and the governor signed it this summer, he had more phone calls in that one-month period asking about getting back into Thoroughbred breeding in Illinois than he had in the previous three years.

“Now here’s the kicker,” McCaffrey summed up. “Since Arlington decided not to pursue their gaming license, he told me he’s had an equal amount of people call him about breeding opportunities in Illinois to say, ‘Forget it. I’m not going to do it now.'”

The post The Week in Review: Commitment? What Commitment? appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Code of Honor In Good Order, Iffy for Classic; Vino Rosso Connex Won’t Appeal DQ

Sun, 2019-09-29 16:02

W.S. Farish’s Code of Honor (Noble Mission {GB}), put up via a controversial disqualification in Saturday’s GI Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont, came out of his victory in good order Sunday morning according to trainer Shug McGaughey.

“He came back fine,” said McGaughey, who picked up his fourth JCGC win, but first since 1993. “He looked good last night, and he looked good this morning. We’ll see as we go along.”

The presumed next start for Code of Honor would be in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, but McGaughey made no such commitments in the Gold Cup aftermath.

“I’ll see how he comes out of it and talk to Mr. Farish as the week goes along and we’ll make up our mind,” McGaughey said. “I’ll possibly give him some time and try and bring him back in the spring. Maybe the [GI] Carter at Aqueduct and the [GIII] Westchester here.”

McGaughey believes the Gold Cup score put Code of Honor atop a 3-year-old division that has seldom had a clear leader throughout the year.

“I would think so,” McGaughey said. “I was very confident going into the Travers. I was confident going into this race that he was going to run his race, but stepping up against some nice older horses you never know until you try. I was very pleased with the way he ran and to step it up against some accomplished older horses was a big accomplishment for Code of Honor.”

Meanwhile, Todd Pletcher, trainer of the demoted Vino Rosso (Curlin), said he was disappointed with the stewards’ decision.

“To me, it was a classic horse race from the top of the stretch to the finish line. Two horses hooked up and they brushed, but to me, no horse was ever knocked off stride and neither horse lost momentum because of it,” said Pletcher. “It was a piece of race riding; Irad drifted out a little bit, Johnny drifted in a little bit. I’ve watched a lot of races and I felt pretty comfortable watching the head on there would not be a disqualification and I was surprised when there was.”

Pletcher said, however, that there would be no appeal of the stewards’ decision coming from co-owners Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable.

“I don’t believe there will be an appeal. I spoke to both owners last night and they were sort of split,” said Pletcher. “They agreed they would not appeal but I plan to meet with the stewards today as well to get an explanation of what they saw. I didn’t feel like I saw the same thing, but seldom in these appeal situations does anything ever come out of it.”

The post Code of Honor In Good Order, Iffy for Classic; Vino Rosso Connex Won’t Appeal DQ appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale Starts Monday

Sun, 2019-09-29 14:23

TIMONIUM, MD – The Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearlings Sale opens with an abbreviated session beginning Monday at 4 p.m. at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. Monday’s session of the two-day auction will include the first 150 yearlings in the catalogue and hips 151 through 435 will be offered during Tuesday’s session, which begins at 10 a.m.
“Based on the traffic here on the grounds, I am feeling pretty positive,” Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Director of Sales Paget Bennett said Sunday morning. “With the results that have come out of this sale-pinhookers have done well out of here, the end-users have done well out of here–so they are all back to shop because they know they can get good horses out of there.”
The Fall Yearlings Sale comes a little over four months removed from a record-setting Midlantic May 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale which set new marks for gross, average, and sales price.
“A lot of the big scores in the May sale have been yearling grads here, so I think there are a lot of people who see that and make sure they come up here and check out this sale,” Bennett added.
Recent graduates of the Fall Yearlings sale include GI Belmont Derby winner Henley’s Joy (Kitten’s Joy), who sold for $20,000 in 2017, and Call Paul (Friesan Fire), who sold for $20,000 that same year and brought $210,000 at the following year’s Midlantic May sale. The bay colt is now a two-time graded stakes winner.
Both Call Paul and his half-sister Pink Caddy (El Padrino), who sold for $40,000 at the Fall sale last year, were stakes winners at Delaware Park Saturday. Both were consigned by Marshall Silverman, whose 2019 consignment to the sale includes a half-brother to the pair by Bullsbay (hip 22).
“We’ve been getting hammered this morning and yesterday we were busy all day,” Silverman said between shows at his Barn J at the fairgrounds Sunday. “People are getting into town now and I’m sure Monday, with the sale starting at 4 p.m. and the guys coming down who are racing today, we’ll really get hit tomorrow. Traffic has been good.”
Silverman, who will send some 60 yearlings through the ring during the next two days in Timonium, said he expects to see a continuation of the polarization which as been a staple of the marketplace in recent years.
“I think the bottom line is that people are going to be keying in on certain horses,” Silverman said. “A lot of horses who are bread-and-butter type horses are probably going to be bought reasonably and then I think the better horses will be really strong.”
Silverman added those bread-and-butter types were often worth a second look.
“We had horses last year that people weren’t crazy about the vetting and now they are stakes horses,” Silverman said.
Two years ago, Silverman sold Gotta Be Strong (Strong Mandate) for $2,100 at the Midlantic Fall Sale. Now a stakes winner, the filly has earnings of $254,340.
“Gotta Be Strong was a big, racy-looking filly,” Silverman recalled. “But you pulled her out and people said, ‘Thank you,’ because she was back in her knees. And now she’s won a stakes and made a couple hundred thousand. And she cost $2,200.”
One of the strengths of the 2018 Midlantic sale was a low 21% buy-back rate.
“We want to get horses changing hands and hopefully we’ll be able to do that in the next couple of days,” Bennett said.
Silverman added, “You just hope they dig deep into their pockets. At this sale, you get a lot of people who buy horses behind the ring. That’s where you really have to work sometimes. But they do buy them.”
During the 2018 Midlantic Fall sale, 338 yearlings sold for $7,318,700. The average was $21,653 and the median was $15,000. A filly by Into Mischief brought’s the sale’s highest price of $210,000.

The post Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale Starts Monday appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Galileo Power Behind Boherguy Debut

Sun, 2019-09-29 11:00

Wednesday sees Clare Manning make her first foray into consigning at the Goffs Orby Sale, one she has come to know well through the commercial success of her grandfather Jim Bolger, as well as through her time working for Baroda Stud.

Operating under the banner Boherguy Stud, Manning will offer the high calibre of pedigrees she has been surrounded with her whole life; two beautifully-bred fillies by Galileo (Ire) and Sea The Stars (Ire). Both were bought as foals by her grandfather and though Manning has no financial involvement in the bluebloods, she has been with them every step of the way.

“I went through the catalogue with my Granda and we viewed them together at the sales,” she explains. “They’ve been with me ever since. They’re two gorgeous fillies and have been so easy to prep–they’ve taken everything in their stride.”

Both bays are faultless, Manning reveals. “They both have unbelievable pages. The Galileo filly comes from a Juddmonte family and it’s rare to have the opportunity to get into a family of that calibre–she’s one-of-a-kind. The Sea The Stars filly is an absolute belter and so athletic; both of them are.”

The first Boherguy yearling through the ring is the daughter of Sea The Stars, bought by Bolger for €150,000 from Al Eile Stud. Bolger has enjoyed success with Al Eile’s Michael Ryan in the past, training the great Finsceal Beo (Ire) (Mr Greeley) to win three Group 1 contests in his striped silks. Lot 277 comes from another family of top-class fillies, with the likes of Yesterday (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells), Quarter Moon (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells) and Diamondsandrubies (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) appearing on the page.

Lot 460 is another first foal with a proven pedigree, the daughter of super sire Galileo being closely related to Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet heroine Romantica (GB) (Galileo). She looks value at her €160,000 foal price, given that her dam Replete (GB) cost 775,000gns as an unraced 3-year-old in 2016, buyers keen to secure the daughter of champion 3-year-old filly Banks Hill (GB) (Danehill).

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Jim Bolger has a history of enjoying success with Galileo at what now look like bargain prices, having supported the Coolmore kingpin in his earliest seasons to produce Soldier Of Fortune (Ire), Teofilo (Ire) and New Approach (Ire).

Manning began her work experience at Bolger’s Redmondstown Stud and went on to work at Darley’s Kildangan Stud. It was there that Joe Osborne, Gerry Duffy and Clodagh Kavanagh advised her to venture further afield, and with that, she went to WinStar Farm. “That was probably the point where I decided what I wanted to do in the future,” muses Manning.

While there, she met David Cox and returned to work at his Baroda Stud, where she has worked on-and-off for three years, interspersed with completing the Irish National Stud course, working for Harry Sweeney in Japan and spending time at Arrowfield Stud in Australia.

Each place has been integral to Manning reaching where she is now, though she says her father and grandfather have been the greatest influences on her career to date. “I was born into the industry and I learnt so much from them both, sometimes without even realising,” she says, adding, “David Cox has also been very good to me–if I hadn’t spent three years at Baroda, I don’t known if I’d be in a position to do my own thing.

“Everywhere I’ve been, there’s been someone who’s guided me. Dennis Griffin was yearling manager while I was at Arrowfield and he was great. If the guys at Kildangan hadn’t told me to go abroad, things would have been different–that was a turning point.”

Still, the path to the Orby wasn’t a meticulously-planned project, she explains, “Later, I felt the need to spread my wings. I liked the idea of the sales co-ordinator roles they have in the U.S., but those jobs don’t exist over here.”

So, on to plan B. “I got asked to take a couple of foals, and through talking to different people, next thing I knew I’d been offered 10 mares to foal. I remember speaking to my parents and saying if I said no to those mares, I may never be offered them again. Full credit to my dad, he gave me the push to do my own thing. For the last two years, doing my own thing had been on my mind, but I didn’t necessarily plan how it began.”

Manning had the perfect location to begin her new venture, with the yard at her family home offering an American barn, loose boxes, an arena, lunge ring, gallops and a walker. “If I didn’t have that, I don’t think I would be in the position I’m in now,” admits Manning, adding, “Facilities are a major challenge facing those looking to go out on their own. Rent for yards can be colossus. That may be ok if you know you’ll have 30 horses in, but what if that drops to 10 at some point? I’m lucky that if my numbers fluctuate, I don’t have to worry about not paying my rent.”

It is very admirable to see someone making their own way in any industry, none more so than in the horse racing and bloodstock worlds, though one might wonder if it’s often seen as a more viable option than attempting to climb the ladder through other companies. It’s something Manning has noticed. She says, “We all want the best people in the best positions, but I don’t think young people are always given the chance. They could be looking to take the next step up in their career, but a yearling manager role might look for someone with five years experience and it’s tough to get the chance to get to that point.”

She admired the opportunities she saw in the U.S., however. “I know people who have less experience than me who have been offered similar roles in the U.S.,” she explains, “But I find the Irish slightly more old-fashioned in that they look for the well-known, experienced staff. I understand why they do it, but I think it deters young people from excelling.”

It then made sense that Manning looked to another talented young person in the industry to join her at Boherguy Stud. She tells the story: “I worked with Charles Weld at Baroda and we’ve been good friends for a long time. I did the mares and foals myself, but when it came to yearlings, I asked Charles to join me. He’s so good with young horses and I can completely trust him. It’s very important to have trustworthy staff so that if I’m away for two days, for instance, I know I don’t have to worry about the yard. Having worked together before, we already had a system and it made life very easy. The work always gets done, but we get to have some craic too, and it’s an easy-going atmosphere.”

Baroda also inspired Manning’s plans for Boherguy Stud. “I spent three years at Baroda Stud and I enjoyed the system and routine there,” she says. “I would be very happy to own a few mares and pinhook a few foals, to dabble in both. I enjoy foaling, and breaking horses is nice as it follows on well from yearling prep. In time, I would like to focus on the sales, though it may not work out that way.”

Manning is very aware that to excel in this industry, you mustn’t drop your standards, and she is determined to maintain a high quality of stock, even if it means veering from her original plan. “I bought a mare a couple of years ago when I’d actually planned to pinhook a foal,” she explains. “I saw a few I liked but they ended up making too much. My budget didn’t really allow me to buy the foals I wanted, but in hindsight, I’ve been lucky because looking at Doncaster, they weren’t making a profit. When there are so many horses, and it’s so difficult to even get yearlings into the right sale, I don’t see the point in buying something I don’t like, just because it’s cheap.”

No matter how many boxes you tick, circumstances can often be out of your hands, which is something Manning is predicting may affect her two fillies selling at the Goffs Sportsmans Sale.

“I’m only consigning the Dawn Approach filly, who is owned by a friend. The Harzand filly is gorgeous, with a lovely page, in fact she could have been an Orby filly. My biggest concern with her is if anyone will be there to buy her–many buyers will have moved on to Book 1. The horse itself isn’t always the main worry.”

Having said that, Manning remains optimistic ahead of the Orby, and when asked if she’s stressed or worried, she quickly replies, “Absolutely not for some reason. I’m just excited to bring them to the sales, to show them off and show people what I can do.”


The post Galileo Power Behind Boherguy Debut appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Hightail Gelding Shocks Them in Awesome Again

Sat, 2019-09-28 20:33

At 1-5, MGISW McKinzie (Street Sense) was bet like he couldn’t lose Saturday’s GI Awesome Again S. at Santa Anita, while Mongolian Groom (Hightail) was completely dismissed at 25-1. In a shocking twist, that longshot turned back the bid of the heavy favorite to pull off a major upset and secure a spot in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic field at this oval Nov. 2.

Seizing the early advantage, Mongolian Groom was pushed along by 60-1 shot Isotherm (Lonhro {Aus}) through a half-mile in :48.29, with McKinzie perched on their outside in third. Draft Pick (Candy Ride {Arg}) slid up the rail to take third from McKinzie, who maintained his position in the three path and Higher Power (Medaglia d’Oro) joined the fray between those two as three-quarters went in 1:12.07. Mike Smith gave McKinzie the signal and readily responded, gliding up to challenge the pacesetter. Mongolian Groom still had plenty left in the tank, however, and instantly turned back his more-fancied rival, skipping clear to an 2 1/4-length score. McKinzie held third and GI Pacific Classic hero Higher Power was third. It was the second graded win of the day and first Grade I victory for rider Abel Cedillo.

Completing the trifecta behind Gift Box (Twirling Candy) in the GI Santa Anita H. Apr. 6, Mongolian Groom was off the board in his next three attempts in the Apr. 20 GII Charles Town Classic, May 27 GI Gold Cup at Santa Anita and June 23 GIII San Juan Capistrano S. on grass. Runner-up to Catalina Cruiser (Union Rags) in the GII San Diego H. July 20, the $12,000 OBSAPR buy filled the show spot behind Higher Power and Draft Pick in the Pac Classic Aug. 17 and was fifth last time in Saratoga’s GI Woodward S. Aug. 31.

Pedigree Notes:

Mongolian Groom is the second stakes winner and first graded winner for his sire Hightail, who is a son of Mineshaft. However, he is the 144th stakes victor and 45th black-type scorer out of a daughter of the legendary Dynaformer. His dam Bourbonesque produced the colt Bourbon Treaty (Raison d’Etat) in 2018. He sold for $1,200 at that year’s Keeneland November Sale and she brought $4,500 from Equus Farm at the same auction. The 10-year-old mare had a Keen Ice colt Apr. 21 of this year and was bred back to GI Preakness S. winner Cloud Computing.

Saturday, Santa Anita
AWESOME AGAIN S.-GI, $300,351, Santa Anita, 9-28, 3yo/up,
1 1/8m, 1:49.27, ft.
1–MONGOLIAN GROOM, 121, g, 4, by Hightail
                1st Dam: Bourbonesque, by Dynaformer
                2nd Dam: Rhineland, by Mr. Prospector
                3rd Dam: Versailles Treaty, by Danzig
WIN. ($11,000 Ylg ’16 FTKOCT; $12,000 2yo ’17 OBSAPR).
O-Mongolian Stable; B-Calumet Farm (KY); T-Enebish Ganbat;
J-Abel Cedillo. $180,000. Lifetime Record: 16-3-2-3, $579,141.
Click for eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick Rating:
2–McKinzie, 125, c, 4, Street Sense–Runway Model, by
Petionville. ($170,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP). ‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Karl
Watson, Michael Pegram, & Paul Weitman; B-Summer Wind
Farm (KY); T-Bob Baffert. $60,000.
3–Higher Power, 125, c, 4, Medaglia d’Oro–Alternate, by
Seattle Slew. ($250,000 4yo ’19 KEEAPR). O-Hronis Racing LLC;
B-Pin Oak Stud, LLC (KY); T-John W. Sadler. $36,000.
Margins: 2 1/4, 5 1/4, 1. Odds: 25.40, 0.30, 3.20.
Also Ran: Seeking the Soul, Draft Pick, Isotherm. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


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Code of Honor Put Up in Jockey Club Gold Cup

Sat, 2019-09-28 18:18

In what was arguably the second most controversial disqualification of the year, GI Runhappy Travers S. hero Code of Honor (Noble Mission {GB}) was put up by the stewards as the winner of Belmont’s GI Jockey Club Gold Cup Saturday after the disqualification of GI Gold Cup at Santa Anita victor Vino Rosso (Curlin). The sophomore came up a nose short of his elder on the line after a lengthy stretch battle, but after an objection from Code of Honor’s pilot John Velazquez, Vino Rosso was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.

Installed as the 2-1 second-choice behind favored GI Woodward S. scorer Preservationist (Arch) in this five-horse affair, Code of Honor broke sharply, but instantly relaxed and sat back in a joint last as Vino Rosso clocked a first quarter in :24.02 with MGSW Tacitus (Tapit) breathing down his neck. Code of Honor closed the gap a bit, leaving longshot Olympic Village (Congrats) to trail the field as he glided into fourth, right on the heels of Preservationist, as the half went in :47.73. Drawing even with the chalk a half-mile left to run, the W. S. Farish homebred ranged up three wide alongside Tacitus and Vino Rosso on the far turn. Tacitus backed out of it at the top of the lane, leaving the chestnut duo to decide the result. Code of Honor and Vino Rosso battle stride-for-stride down the lane, making light contact on multiple occasions, but it was Vino Rosso’s nose in front at the wire. However, Velazquez lodged a claim of foul and after a lengthy stewards inquiry, Vino Rosso was disqualified for the light brushing down the lane and Code of Honor was declared the new winner, earning a spot in the starting gate for the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.

“Both horses ran incredible races and you hate to see it happen like this,” said Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey. “I do think we had gotten by him and the other horse came out into us a little bit. We battled back to just be beaten by a nose. I can’t say enough about Code of Honor to be able to step up against older horses the way he did today. This horse is a pretty good horse now. He’s made so much improvement since the [Kentucky] Derby. I couldn’t be any prouder of him than I am.”

The conditioner continued, “I thought maybe Johnny had to move a little sooner than he wanted to just because Tacitus and Preservationist weren’t able to put the pressure on Vino Rosso. I thought we had him at every jump and [Vino Rosso] kind of came out. I knew he had come out, but I didn’t know they bumped because my view was watching sideways. When I saw the head on, then they threw the objection and inquiry, I thought there was a good chance they’d make a change. Johnny told me they got us twice pretty good.”

“Honestly, he came out and bumped my horse on me,” said Velazquez. “I had put the head in front of him and he bumped him. It kind of got my horse off balance for the second time when he bumped him. And now he puts the head in front of me and I’m trying to get back in front him and he beats me by a head or a nose or whatever it is.”

“I don’t go after anybody, but this is a wonderful horse and he deserved it,” said Farish. “I saw the pictures of it and it was definitely three bumps but bottom line, we’re all very excited. It was a really meaningful win for us. We had our family here from all over the country and Shug is just a great, great friend, a wonderful trainer and he did a fabulous job with this horse. This is just fantastic.”

As for the Breeders’ Cup, Farish said, “That’s up in the air. This horse needs a little vacation but on the other hand, he comes out of his races well and that is certainly a possibility.”

An impressive debut winner at Saratoga last August, Code of Honor uncorked a powerful late rally to be second at odds of 14-1 in Belmont’s GI Champagne S. Oct. 6. He was one of the talking horses leading up to last term’s GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but was scratched the morning of the race with a fever. Fourth as the favorite in Gulfstream’s Mucho Macho Man S. Jan. 5, he won the GII Fountain of Youth S. in Hallandale Mar. 2 and was third to Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) in a paceless renewal of the GI Florida Derby Mar. 30.

Crossing the line third in the GI Kentucky Derby May 4, the Lane’s End colorbearer benefitted from the disqualification of winner Maximum Security with a promotion to the place spot. Expertly handled by McGaughey, Code of Honor skipped the rest of the Triple Crown, as well as the GI Haskell Invitational S. and GII Jim Dandy S., and instead resurfaced in Belmont’s one-mile GIII Dwyer S., which he won with ease July 6. It was on to the Travers from there, where the chestnut sat the perfect trip under Velazquez, unleashing his trademark late turn of foot to score by three lengths over Tacitus and Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man).

Pedigree Notes:

Code of Honor, who is a May 23rd foal, is the only Grade I winner and one of two black-type winners by second-crop sire Noble Mission, a full-brother to superstar Frankel (GB) (Galileo {Ire}). The Lane’s End stallion’s other black-type scorer is Group 3 winner Spanish Mission. Code of Honor’s dam Reunited, victress of the 2005 GIII Thoroughbred Club of America S., is also responsible for 2016 GII Best Pal S. runner-up Big League (Speightstown) and a yearling colt by Karakontie (Jpn). The 17-year-old mare produced a colt by Lane’s End’s Honor Code May 1 of this year and was bred back to the farm’s Quality Road. Code of Honor’s broodmare sire Dixie Union was also a member of the Lane’s End stallion roster and his daughters are responsible for 38 stakes winners to date, including champion Caledonia Road (Quality Road) and Grade I winners Klimt (Quality Road), Mor Spirit (Eskendereya), New Year’s Day (Street Cry {Ire}) and Salty (Quality Road).

Saturday, Belmont Park
JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP S.-GI, $734,250, Belmont, 9-28, 3yo/up, 1 1/4m, 2:00.30, ft.
1–CODE OF HONOR, 122, c, 3, by Noble Mission (GB)
                1st Dam: Reunited (GSW, $326,771), by Dixie Union
                2nd Dam: Tivli, by Mt. Livermore
                3rd Dam: Bold Boston, by Bold Forbes
($70,000 RNA Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O/B-W. S. Farish (KY); T-Claude
McGaughey III; J-John R. Velazquez. $412,500. Lifetime
Record: 9-5-2-1, $2,298,320. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple
Plus*. Click for eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
*2–Vino Rosso, 126, c, 4, 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. $150,000.
3–Tacitus, 122, c, 3, Tapit–Close Hatches, by First Defence.
O/B-Juddmonte Farms Inc (KY); T-William I. Mott. $94,500.
Margins: 4, NO, 1. Odds: 2.00, 3.60, 2.80.
Also Ran: Preservationist, Olympic Village.
*Finished first, but was disqualified and placed second.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.



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Structor Gives Palace Malice a First Graded Winner in Pilgrim

Sat, 2019-09-28 17:43

Structor stepped up from the maiden ranks with aplomb, becoming the first graded stakes winner for his freshman sire Palace Malice (Curlin) in Belmont’s GIII Pilgrim S. Saturday. A $160,000 KEESEP yearling turned $850,000 OBSMAR juvenile after breezing in :21 1/5, he donned cap and gown by 1 1/4 lengths in his two-turn turf debut at Saratoga Aug. 31. The 5-2 chalk ran two-wide in a three-way battle for third as pace-setting Tuggle (Point of Entry) was pressed by Maxwell Esquire (Discreet Cat) through a :47.23 half-mile. Advancing on the top two on the backstretch, the Chad Brown pupil drew even while three wide turning for home and took control as the top two folded in early stretch. The bay was instantly joined by Andesite to his inside, but that foe never seriously threatened Structor, who forged clear late to win by a neck. Our Country made a bold late run to complete the trifecta.

“I was proud of this horse [knowing] how wide he had to travel the whole way,” said Brown. “No fault of the jockey, just his post and the way some horses wedged their way in there early. He gutted it out. This was a solid pace, :47 and change traveling three deep into the turn. To have enough to gut it out, I think he wouldn’t mind a cutback to a mile at all in the [GI] Breeders’ Cup [Juvenile Turf]. He’s an improving horse.”

“I didn’t want to go that wide, but I didn’t have any other option,” said winning rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. “If I wanted to drop in some more, I would have to keep taking him back and I didn’t want to do that. He needed the race. I think he will improve. The first time was a slow pace and he just finished. Today, he moved little more in the beginning. He needed the race to get to the next level. He did everything perfectly. He’s a nice horse. He’s got some talent. I think he’s going to get to the next level.”

Pedigree Notes:

Structor is the first graded stakes winner and second black-type winner for his freshman sire Palace Malice, victor of the 2013 GI Belmont S. and 2014 GI Met Mile. He is also the 90th stakes winner and 36th black-type winner out of a daughter of More Than Ready. The winner’s dam Miss Always Ready, a full sister to GII Breeders’ Cup Fillies Juvenile Turf heroine More Than Real, was purchased by Three Chimneys, who stands Palace Malice, for $400,000 at the 2014 Keeneland April Sale. Structor was her first foal and she has since produced a yearling filly by Malibu Moon and a weanling filly by Palace Malice. She was bred to both Will Take Charge and Gun Runner this spring.

Saturday, Belmont Park
PILGRIM S.-GIII, $200,000, Belmont, 9-28, 2yo, 1 1/16mT, 1:41.46, fm.
1–STRUCTOR, 120, c, 2, by Palace Malice
                1st Dam: Miss Always Ready, by More Than Ready
                2nd Dam: Miss Seffens, by Dehere
                3rd Dam: Noise Enough, by Bold Ruckus
Ylg ’18 KEESEP; $850,000 2yo ’19 OBSMAR). O-Jeff Drown &
Don Rachel; B-Three Chimneys Farm, LLC (KY); T-Chad C.
Brown; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr.. $110,000. Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0,
$159,500. *Second stakes winner for freshman sire (by Curlin).
Click for eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick Rating:
2–Andesite, 120, c, 2, The Factor–Ahh, by Saint Liam. ($40,000
Ylg ’18 FTKOCT; $90,000 2yo ’19 OBSMAR). O-Kent Spellman &
Madaket Stables, LLC; B-Stoneway Farm (KY); T-Brad H. Cox.
3–Our Country, 120, c, 2, Constitution–Light and Variable, by
Tiznow. ($190,000 RNA Ylg ’18 KEESEP; $70,000 2yo ’19
EASMAY). O-R. A. Hill Stable & Gatsas Stables; B-WinStar Farm,
LLC (KY); T-George Weaver. $24,000.
Margins: HD, 1 1/4, HF. Odds: 2.50, 10.10, 3.80.
Also Ran: Famished, No Word, Maxwell Esquire, No Lime, The Gray Blur, Tuggle. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


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Uncle Mo Filly is as Fast as Advertised; Becomes Day’s Fourth Rising Star

Sat, 2019-09-28 17:26

Donna Veloce (Uncle Mo)–Fast Woman in Italian–was pounded down to 3-5 as the lone first timer in this field and into the face of a trio of debut runners-up Saturday at Santa Anita. She became the latest high-dollar 2-year-old in training purchase for these connections to appear worthy of the investment as she blitzed her competition to be named Saturday’s fourth ‘TDN Rising Star’. A $450,000 KEESEP yearling turned $800,000 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream buy after a co-quickest :9 4/5 breeze, the bay emerged with the early lead and had to hit the gas a bit more to maintain her position as a longshot rushed up to her inside. Always traveling very strongly, she got the half in :45.42 and demolished her competition in the lane to the tune of 9 1/4 lengths in 1:16.22. Nora’s Joy (Street Sense), second by 6 3/4 lengths to ‘Rising Star’ Immediate Impact (Into Mischief) in her July unveiling at Del Mar, completed the exacta.

The winner’s second dam is 1999 GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Cash Run (Seeking the Gold) and her third dam is GSW Shared Interest (Pleasant Colony). Cash Run sold to Coolmore’s John Magnier for $7.1 million in foal to Storm Cat at the 2003 Keeneland November sale and produced Irish SW/MGSP Great War Eagle (Storm Cat) in 2005. Dam Coin Broker (Ire) was thrice-placed in England for Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier. She produced fillies by War Front in 2018 and 2019 and was bred back to Justify earlier this season. Coin Broker’s yearling filly RNA’d for $290,000 at this year’s Keeneland September sale before being purchased for $175,000 by CJ Thoroughreds and Bob Gorsky.

Owner Kaleem Shah and trainer Simon Callaghan also campaign MGISW Bellafina (Quality Road), who cost $800,000 herself at Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream in 2018.

4th-Santa Anita, $50,351, Msw, 9-28, 2yo, f, 6 1/2f, 1:16.22, ft.
DONNA VELOCE, f, 2, Uncle Mo
1st Dam: Coin Broker {Ire}, by Montjeu {Ire}
2nd Dam: Cash Run, by Seeking the Gold
3rd Dam: Shared Interest, by Pleasant Colony
Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $30,000. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton. Click for the catalog style pedigree.
O-Kaleem Shah, Inc.; B-Coin Broker Syndicate (KY); T-Simon Callaghan. *$450,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP; $800,000 2yo ’19 FTFMAR


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Candy Ride Firster Another ‘Rising Star’

Sat, 2019-09-28 17:04

Wertheimer et Frere homebred Kanderel (Candy Ride {Arg}) was given a heads-up ride by five-pound apprentice Jorge Velez, got a dream run through at the fence and shot through when an opening appeared nearing the entrance to the Santa Anita stretch and finished full of run to become Saturday’s third ‘TDN Rising Star.’

A 6-1 gamble for a barn not known for its proficiency with first-time starters, the dark bay sat a two-path trip from gate six and commenced a steady advance with a little less than a half-mile to race. Shifted down to the inside at the point of the second turn, Kanderel was driven through a gaping hole at the quarter pole and covered his final two furlongs in a very smart :23.57, defeating the well-meant U.S. firster Liar Liar (Ire) (Dream Ahead) by 3 1/4 lengths.

The Wertheimers acquired Kanderel’s dam, a half-sister to MGSW Old Trieste (A.P. Indy), for $600,000 as a weanling at Keeneland November in 2000 and raced her at first in France with Criquette Head, for whom she won her maiden and placed three times in listed company. Repatriated and turned over to Gary Mandella, Stormica was third in the GIII Desert Stormer H. and was retired following a victory in the 2005 Richmond H. at Golden Gate Fields.

Stormica, who was bought back on a bid of $9,500 at KEENOV in 2017, produced an English Channel filly in 2018 and was most recently covered by Exaggerator. The wildly successful cross of Candy Ride over Storm Cat-line mares has yielded Horse of the Year Gun Runner, champion Shared Belief and additional Grade I winners Sidney’s Candy, Evita Argentina and Capt. Candyman Can. GISW Mastery, who is out of a mare by the aforementioned Old Trieste, has a second dam by Storm Cat.

3rd-Santa Anita, $51,755, Msw, 9-28, 2yo, 1mT, 1:34.74, fm.
KANDEREL, c, 2, by Candy Ride (Arg)
1st Dam: Stormica (SW & GSP-US, MSP-Fr, $167,472), by Storm Cat
2nd Dam: Lovlier Linda, by Vigors
3rd Dam: Linda Summers, by Crozier
Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $30,000. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton. Click for the free catalog-style pedigree.
O/B-Wertheimer and Frere (KY); T-Richard E Mandella.

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Midnight Bisou Keeps Perfect Season Going in Beldame

Sat, 2019-09-28 16:56

Midnight Bisou kept her flawless 2019 record in tact with her seventh straight victory in Saturday’s GII Beldame Invitational S. at Belmont Park. Away well from her rail draw, the 1-9 chalk raced on the longshot leader Spring in the Wind (Spring At Last)’s inside hip in second through soft early splits of :24.83 and :48.09 with last term’s Beldame winner Wow Cat hot on their heels in third. The dark bay drew even with the pacesetter on the backstretch and they were joined by Wow Cat on the outside entering the far turn. Spring in the Wind backed out of it immediately, leaving the top two betting choices to battle it out. Wow Cat did her best to run with Midnight Bisou in the lane, but proved no match for the divisional leader, who charged clear in the final sixteenth to register yet another decisive victory.

“You’re always a little worried drawing the one-hole in short fields, but I thought Johnny [Velazquez] rode her great and did a terrific job riding her to the wire,” said Scott Blasi, assistant to winning trainer Steve Asmussen. “She proved to be the best. She’s just been an amazing horse this year. The way she’s developed this year, she’s turned a corner going from three to four, and it’s exciting. She’s been training great since the Personal Ensign and hopefully we can just keep her happy going forward.”

“It was pretty easy for her,” said Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who was subbing for Mike Smith aboard Midnight Bisou. “I didn’t have to do very much, just keep her out of trouble, and she did what she had to do. I didn’t have to hit her or anything. I just showed her the whip, and let her know she had to run. That was it.”

Midnight Bisou kicked off what has been a perfect season so far with a victory in the GIII Houston Ladies Classic Jan. 27. Besting Elate (Medaglia d’Oro) by a length in Oaklawn’s GII Azeri S. Mar. 16, she outnosed Escape Clause (Going Commando) in that venue’s GI Apple Blossom H. Apr. 14 with Elate finishing third. A decisive winner over next-out GI Ballerina S. heroine Come Dancing (Malibu Moon) in Belmont’s GI Ogden Phipps S. June 8, the $80,000 OBSAPR buy scored a facile victory in Monmouth’s GIII Molly Pitcher S. July 20. Midnight Bisou was last seen dueling with Elate down the Saratoga stretch in the Aug. 24 GI Personal Ensign S. and came out on the winning side of a very tight photo.

Pedigree Notes:

Midnight Bisou is one of three Grade I winners for two-time GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint hero Midnight Lute. The winner’s dam 2010 GIII Florida Oaks heroine Diva Delite (Repent) was purchased by Breeze Easy for $750,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton November sale carrying a foal by the late Pioneerof the Nile. Diva Delite has a 2-year-old colt by Warrior’s Reward, just a $1,500 purchase by Dalton Lawrence at this year’s OBS April Sale, and a yearling filly by Wicked Strong. She dropped a Pioneerof the Nile filly May 1 and was bred back to Triple Crown hero Justify.

Saturday, Belmont Park
BELDAME S.-GII, $291,000, Belmont, 9-28, 3yo/up, f/m, 1 1/8m, 1:48.86, ft.
1–MIDNIGHT BISOU, 123, f, 4, by Midnight Lute
                1st Dam: Diva Delite (GSW, $300,067), by Repent
                2nd Dam: Tour Hostess, by Tour d’Or
                3rd Dam: Counsel’s Gal, by High Counsel
($19,000 RNA Ylg ’16 KEESEP; $80,000 2yo ’17 OBSAPR).
O-Bloom Racing Stable, LLC, Madaket Stables LLC & Allen
Racing LLC.; B-Woodford Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Steven M.
Asmussen; J-John R. Velazquez. $165,000. Lifetime Record:
MGISW, 18-12-3-3, $3,410,000. Werk Nick Rating: D+. Click
   for eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Wow Cat (Chi), 123, m, 5, Lookin At Lucky–Winter Cat (Chi),
by Cat Thief. O-Peter Brant & Stud Vendaval, Inc.; B-Haras Paso
Nevado (CHI); T-Chad C. Brown. $60,000.
3–Crimson Frost, 123, m, 5, Stormy Atlantic–Rock Jasmine, by
Horse Chestnut (SAf). ($10,000 Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O-Barry R.
Ostrager; B-Joe Mulholland Jr., John Mulholland & Keith
Desormeaux (KY); T-Michelle Nevin. $36,000.
Margins: 3 1/4, 5 1/4, 1. Odds: 0.15, 2.95, 38.25.
Also Ran: Another Broad, Spring in the Wind. Scratched: Vexatious. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


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Opinions on the Cap: Headley Bell

Sat, 2019-09-28 16:06

It appears there is a growing consensus with stallion farms in Central Kentucky on limiting their stallion’s book to around 140 mares. As I mentioned before to T D Thornton, we wrote in the syndicate on Oscar Performance that we would limit his book to 140 mares and not breed Southern Hemisphere so we believe in this.

Yet, I also mentioned that I think it should be left up to the individual farms to make this decision rather than a directive from The Jockey Club. This country is based on free trade, and I personally do not buy into the idea that it is limiting the genetic pool. Who is an authority to suggest this and what great horses have they bred over generations? It appears that the inbreeding to Danzig in Australia has been successful and they will navigate the next cross that works. In Ireland, Coolmore has an abundance of Sadler’s Wells but will manage to navigate the next great line without any industry mandate. They have a lot more at stake than anyone and I am going to bet on them.

Finally, I remind those who were not around in the ’80’s, when seasons to Northern Dancer were trading for $1 million and Mr. Prospector for $1 million and Nijinsky for $1 million and Seattle Slew for $1 million.. all NO GUARANTEE! You could only obtain no guarantee seasons at Matchmaker or Stallion Access, auction houses for seasons and shares or on the street. And then…we had the crash and everything was rewritten, based on the market.

This is an inexact sport/business and that is one of its greatest qualities…along with the horse.. and the land.. and the people…I think many stallion farms will choose to limit their book to 140 mares and promote this because that is what they believe. Breeders will choose to support them or not. I personally do not feel it right to dictate to Coolmore/Ashford or Wayne Hughes or whoever might choose that they should limit their book. The market will decide this in the end when breeders choose to support those farms and those horses. What might be the next directive.. that stud fees have gotten too high and we need to limit them?

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American Pharoah Half to Lady Eli Named ‘Rising Star’

Sat, 2019-09-28 15:35

Princesa Caroline (American Pharoah), perhaps not bet quite as hard as one would expect for a Chad Brown-trained half-sister to his former superstar trainee Lady Eli (Divine Park), belied lukewarm 9-2 odds to turn in a good-looking debut Saturday worthy of a ‘TDN Rising Star’ nod. Showing a steady series of drills all over the local main track, the dark bay broke well enough to track from third as second timer Laughable (Distorted Humor) enjoyed a fairly easy time of it up front through splits of :23.77, :48.83 and 1:12.40. Princesa Caroline tackled that foe in upper stretch, and wore down midway through the lane before crossing over into that one’s path and cutting her off. Princesa Caroline proceeded to run up the score 3 1/2 lengths and stop the clock in 1:46.67, and Laughable was never challenged for second. The stewards took a look at the stretch run, but made no change in the order of finish. Princesa Caroline becomes the 14th winner for her Triple Crown-winning first-crop sire (by Pioneerof the Nile). In addition to Lady Eli, Ch. Turf Female, MGISW, $2,959,800; the winner is a half to Bizzy Caroline (Afleet Alex), MGSW, $347,935. Her dam hails from the deep female family of graded/group winners Jacodra’s Devil, Jacodra, Changing Ways, Pays to Dream, Tejano Run, More Royal, Palace Episode, Laughing Lashes, Spring in the Air, Sweet Loretta, etc. and produced an American Pharoah filly last June. She ran out of time to breed back that season, but visited Gun Runner for 2020. Lady Eli sold for $4.2 million to Hill ‘n’ Dale’s John Sikura while in foal to War Front at last year’s Keeneland November sale.

5th-Belmont, $75,000, Msw, 9-28, 2yo, f, 1 1/16mT, 1:41.67, fm.
PRINCESA CAROLINE, f, 2, American Pharoah
1st Dam: Sacre Coeur, by Saint Ballado
2nd Dam: Kazadancoa (Fr), by Green Dancer
3rd Dam: Khazaeen (GB), by Charlottesville (GB)
Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $41,250. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton. Click for the catalog style pedigree.
O-Runnymede Farm, Catesby W. Clay & Three Chimneys Farm; B-Runnymede Farm Inc. & Catesby W. Clay Investment 2 LLC (KY); T-Chad C. Brown.


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Little Horse, Big Heart: Imperial Hint Fights Back in Vosburgh

Sat, 2019-09-28 14:51

The fleet-footed Imperial Hint (Imperialism) proved he may be little, but he sure is fierce with a gutsy title defense in Belmont’s GI Vosburgh S. Saturday, securing a spot in the gate for the GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita Nov. 2 in the process. Hammered down to 1-9 favoritism in a field scratched down to four, the dark bay took up his customary position on the front end and was chased by GISW Firenze Fire (Poseidon’s Warrior) through a blazing first quarter in :22.11. Clocking a half in :44.65, he was confronted by Firenze Fire in mid-stretch and the stage was set for a battle to the wire. Firenze Fire briefly headed Imperial Hint, but the chalk refused to be denied and called upon all of his class, boxing back at his rival in the final strides. The duo hit the line together in a photo too close to call, but it was only a few moments before Imperial Hint was declared the winner by a determined head.

“He has so much heart,” said trainer Luis Carvajal, Jr. “This is when you see when a horse has heart. I knew he always did. It seemed like he was comfortable, and he was going to make it look easy, but Firenze Fire came back on the outside and he got a surprise from that horse. He’s small but you can see he has heart.”

As for the Breeders’ Cup, the conditioner said, “We’ll go back to Monmouth Park and evaluate the horse and make sure he’s good. We’ll resume training and hopefully we’ll see him at Santa Anita and leave in the middle of October or something like that. You don’t have to do much now after this race. This will be enough.”

“It was unbelievable,” said winning rider Javier Castellano. “You never know in this game, nothing is for sure. You have to ride your race, and this is a great horse. I loved the way he did it. He fought all the way to the end. He didn’t want to get beat. I give all credit to the horse and the trainer, he did a great job. Now, we have the Breeders’ Cup, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Irad Ortiz, pilot of runner-up Firenze Fire, said, “He passed [Imperial Hint] and the other horse came back on him. He tried to fight back. There was no speed in the race except the horse to beat, so I had to go for it. I took my horse out of his place too early. You don’t want to do that, but I had to do it. I thought it was a little early to try and jump on him. It worked out good turning for home and at the three-sixteenths pole, but it didn’t work out in the end.”

Following wins in the GII True North S. and GI Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. with a victory in the Vosburgh last year, Imperial Hint finished third to two-time Eclipse winner Roy H (More Than Ready) as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last November at Churchill Downs. Kicking off 2019 with a third-place finish as the favorite in Tampa’s Pelican S. Feb. 16, he was sent to Meydan, where he filled the show spot yet again in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen S. Mar. 30. Given a breather upon his return Stateside, Imperial Hint returned to winning ways with a decisive four-length score in the Vanderbilt at Saratoga July 27, a race in which divisional leader and next-out GI Forego S. winner Mitole (Eskendereya) finished third.

Saturday, Belmont
VOSBURGH S.-GI, $282,000, Belmont, 9-28, 3yo/up, 6f, 1:08.35, ft.
1–IMPERIAL HINT, 124, h, 6, by Imperialism
1st Dam: Royal Hint, by Lahint
2nd Dam: Ray’s Trial, by Skip Trial
3rd Dam: Ray’s Gift, by Text
O-Raymond Mamone; B-Shade Tree Thoroughbreds Inc (FL);
T-Luis Carvajal, Jr.; J-Javier Castellano. $165,000. Lifetime Record: GISP-UAE, 23-14-2-3, $2,199,155. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Firenze Fire, 124, c, 4, Poseidon’s Warrior–My Every Wish, by Langfuhr. O-Mr. Amore Stable; B-Mr Amore Stables (FL); T-Jason Servis. $63,000.
3–Brown Buckeye, 124, g, 5, Big Brown–Prizes, by Prized. O-Ron Paolucci Racing, LLC; B-Bruce Tallisman (OH); T-Anthony T. Quartarolo. $36,000.
Margins: NO, 9 3/4, 3 1/4. Odds: 0.25, 2.45, 27.25.
Also Ran: American Power. Scratched: Call Paul, Promises Fulfilled.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


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Curlin Filly Goes Three-for-Three to Garner Rising Stardom

Sat, 2019-09-28 14:33

Promising sophomore filly Arrifana (Curlin) saw out an additional furlong at Laurel Saturday to go three-for-three and garner the ‘TDN Rising Star’ distinction. A 10-length debut winner here going seven panels Aug. 1 for breeder Gunpowder Farms, she was subsequently bought into by Millennium Farms, Gainesway Stable and LNJ Foxwoods before overcoming a slow start to take a first-level Saratoga allowance going that same distance Aug. 31. Looking like a very likely winner this time off a last-out 84 Beyer Speed Figure, the bay was pounded down to 10 cents on the dollar and did not disappoint.

Showing a bit more early zip from the rail to chase in second down the backside, Arrifana was given her cue by Julian Pimentel after a :46.21 half to crank up the pressure on the pacesetter. She collared the frontrunner in upper stretch under extremely confident handling, and cruised away from there by a facile 5 1/2 lengths. Hard-knocking older stakes winner Victory Rally (Jump Start) completed the exacta.

The winner is half to Lukes Alley (Flower Alley), Ch. Older Horse-Can, GISW, $795,122, and fillies by Empire Maker born in 2018 and 2019–the yearling sold for $950,000 at the recent Keeneland September sale to Northshore Bloodstock. Dam Vaulcluse (A.P. Indy), a track record breaker going an extended mile on the Tampa dirt in her third win from as many starts, was purchased for $600,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton November sale in foal to Lookin At Lucky. She was bred to War Front this season. This is the extended female family of highest-level winners Coup de Fusil and Elusive City.

2nd-Laurel, $52,785, Alw (NW2X)/Opt. Clm ($35,000), 9-28, 3yo/up, f/m, 1m, 1:36.81, ft.
ARRIFANA, f, 3, Curlin
1st Dam: Vaulcluse (SW), by A.P. Indy
2nd Dam: Betty’s Pet, by Dehere
3rd Dam: Liturgism, by Native Charger
Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0, $99,050. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton. Click for the catalog style pedigree.
O-Gunpowder Farms LLC, Millennium Farms, Gainesway Stable (Antony Beck) & LNJ Foxwoods; B-Gunpowder Farms LLC (KY); T-Kelly Rubley.


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Eight Rings Makes Amends in the American Pharoah

Fri, 2019-09-27 20:07

Sent off the 6-5 chalk to atone for the disaster that was the GI Del Mar Futurity, ‘TDN Rising Star’ Eight Rings (Empire Maker) set a strong pace over a Santa Anita main track that was extremely tiring and therefore got a bit leg-weary late, but proved too tough in Friday’s GI American Pharoah S. American Theorem, by the Triple Crown winner for whom the race is named, chased home the winner from second, while Storm the Court (Court Vision), who was involved in the Del Mar Futurity fiasco as well, took a three-way photo for third.

Ridden for speed by John Velazquez, Eight Rings led them along at a good gallop, covering the opening couple of furlongs in :23.72, a full second faster than the pace of the Chandelier S. three races earlier on the program. Still cruising along after a half in a strong :47.06, Eight Rings was given a tap-down crack of the whip nearing the stretch, put a few more lengths on American Theorem and raced greenly inside the final eighth of a mile, but by then had the race in safe keeping.

“He’s still not 100% confident in what he needs to do,” said Velazquez. “If he can put his mind to running, he’ll be a dangerous horse.”

A $520,000 acquisition by this powerhouse partnership at last year’s Keeneland September sale, Eight Rings was no doubt one of the talking horses of the entire Del Mar meeting when he went out for his Aug. 4 debut. Favored at 3-5 at a 5 1/2-furlong trip that was always going to be too sharp, he nonetheless treated his five rivals with disdain, pouring it on late to score by 6 1/4 lengths, good for a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. The Futurity was to be a mere formality, but it all went wrong out of the chute when he ducked in Drefong-style and dumped Drayden Van Dyke. With blinkers added Friday, he left little doubt as to who the king of the hill is, at least in the west.

Eight Rings is the record-extending ninth winner of the American Pharoah (nee Norfolk, FrontRunner) and second in succession following Game Winner (Candy Ride)’s victory 12 months ago. The latter, along with fellow race winners American Pharoah and Lookin at Lucky, each went on to Eclipse Award honors at two.

Pedigree Notes:

Eight Rings is the 12th Grade I winner for Empire Maker, whose first crop since his repatriation from Japan in 2016 are 2-year-olds of this year. He is the 62nd worldwide black-type winner and 33rd group/graded winner overall and is the third male Grade I winner for Empire Maker, joining fellow Baffert trainees Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister. Storm Cat dams or granddams have produced three of Empre Maker’s top-level winners (In Lingerie, Bodemeister). Eight Rings’s Grade III-winning dam produced a colt by GI Breeders’ Cup Mile hero Tourist (Tiznow) in 2018 and a filly by Pioneerof the Nile this past Apr. 19. Purely Hot was most recently bred to Union Rags.

Friday, Santa Anita
AMERICAN PHAROAH S.-GI, $301,404, Santa Anita, 9-27, 2yo, 1 1/16m, 1:45.41, ft.
1–EIGHT RINGS, 122, c, 2, by Empire Maker
1st Dam: Purely Hot (GSW, $426,905), by Pure Prize
2nd Dam: Wood Not, by Kissin Kris
3rd Dam: Wood So, by Baederwood
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN, 1ST GRADE I WIN. ‘TDN Rising Star ($520,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP). O-SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Frederick Hertrich III, John D Fielding & Golconda Stables; B-WinStar Farm LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert; J-John R Velazquez. $180,000. Lifetime Record: 3-2-0-0, $216,951. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–American Theorem, 122, r, 2, American Pharoah–Mighty Renee, by Maria’s Mon. ($190,000 RNA Ylg ’18 KEESEP). O-Kretz Racing LLC; B-Sierra Farm (KY); T-George Papaprodromou. $60,000.
3–Storm the Court, 122, c, 2, Court Vision–My Tejana Storm, by Tejano Run. ($5,000 Ylg ’18 FTKFEB; $60,000 2yo ’19 OBSAPR). O-David A Bernsen LLC, Exline-Border Racing LLC, Dan Hudock & Susanna Wilson; B-Stepping Stone Farm (KY); T-Peter Eurton. $36,000.
Margins: 6, 2 1/4, NK. Odds: 1.20, 7.30, 19.70.
Also Ran: Express Train, Shoplifted, Defense Wins, Fore Left, Nucky, Collusion Illusion.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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Uncle Mo’s Bast Repeats in Chandelier

Fri, 2019-09-27 18:28

Bet like a mortal lock into 1-5 favoritism for Friday’s GI Chandelier S. on opening day of the fall/winter/spring meeting at Santa Anita, Baoma Corporation’s Bast (Uncle Mo) had to work for it, but ultimately got just the better of pacesetting ‘TDN Rising Star’ Comical (Into Mischief) to take the ‘Win and You’re In’ event for the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies five weeks down the line. The Chus’ Alluring Star (Exchange Rate) was runner-up in the 2017 Juvenile Fillies after leading into the final furlong, while the couple’s Drefong (Gio Ponti) won the GI Sprint the last time the Breeders’ Cup was held at Santa Anita back in 2016.

Those who took the skinny price on the $200,000 Keeneland November purchase turned $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling were surely looking for a repeat of Bast’s latest, an 8 3/4-length drubbing of seven overmatched rivals in the GI Del Mar Debutante Aug. 31, with Comical third. But it wasn’t meant to be.

Away without incident from the four hole in a compact field of six, Bast was three wide into the clubhouse turn racing off the flank of Comical, with the rail-drawn 9-2 second favorite Been Studying Her (Fast Anna) holding her position at the fence. Content to sit three wide the trip, Bast remained under a long John Velazquez hold into the final half-mile before edging closer to Comical at the entrance to the second turn. Niggled along three-eighths out, Bast appeared to be going the better of the two on the business end, but Comical proved a stubborn rival, making the chalk work for every inch before going down to a narrow defeat. Bast covered 31 feet more than the runner-up, according the Trakus. K P Dreamin sat a good inside trip and finished willingly for third while no menace to the top pair. Leucothea (Midshipman) swerved a couple of strides out of the gates, casting Norberto Arroyo, Jr. to the ground.

“Down the backside she was going nice, then turning for home, John was like, ‘Come on baby, we’ve got to go,’ and she wasn’t going,” said Bob Baffert, winning this race for the 11th time. “He thought she would respond, but I think this will get her ready for the next one.

“This is a very demanding, deep, heavy race track. Not only do you have to be really good, you have to be ready..The Chus are really excited and we’ve been really lucky together, winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint with Drefong, so they’ve already had a champion. They’ve been great supporters of mine. I really think this race is going to move Bast up, so I feel pretty good about it. You’re supposed to get tired first time two turns. But she got the job done.”

The victory marked a record 661st in graded company for John Velazquez, bettering the previous mark set by Jerry Bailey.

“This means a lot. [Jerry Bailey] is a guy who I rode with for so many years and have looked up to for so long. It’s incredible,” the rider commented.

Pedigree Notes:

Bast is the first foal from her dam, a half-sister to GSW & GISP Mananan McLir (Royal Academy), SW & GSP Big Sur (Malibu Moon) and SW Chaming N Lovable (Horse Chestnut {SAf}), dam of GISW Fault (Blame) and GSP Betweenhereandcool (Unbridled’s Song). As pointed out by Chris McGrath in a recent column, Bast–who was bought back on a bid of $290,000 with this filly in utero at Keeneland November in 2016–carries Arch 3×2 (Uncle Mo is out of Playa Maya, by Arch). Laffina is the dam of a colt from the first crop of California Chrome that the Chus paid $325,000 at the recently concluded Keeneland September sale. It was the most expensive of 27 yearlings by the two-time Horse of the Year at the auction. Laffina is the dam of a filly foal by Pioneerof the Nile and was most recently covered by Ghostzapper.

Friday, Santa Anita
CHANDELIER S.-GI, $300,351, Santa Anita, 9-27, 2yo, f, 1 1/16m, 1:46.10, ft.
1–BAST, 122, f, 2, by Uncle Mo
1st Dam: Laffina, by Arch
2nd Dam: St Lucinda, by St. Jovite
3rd Dam: Majestic Nature, by Majestic Prince
($200,000 Wlg ’17 KEENOV; $500,000 Ylg ’18 FTSAUG).
O-Baoma Corporation; B-BlackRidge Stables LLC (KY); T-Bob
Baffert; J-John R. Velazquez. $180,000. Lifetime Record:
3-2-1-0, $372,200. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus* Click
for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Comical, 122, f, 2, by Into Mischief
1st Dam: Kayce Ace, by Tiznow
2nd Dam: Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman
3rd Dam: Grande Dame, by Zen
($100,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP). ‘TDN Rising Star’ O-ERJ Racing, LLC,
Gary Barber, Dave Kenney, Madaket Stables LLC & Westside
Racing Stable; B-Susan Casner (KY); T-Doug F. O’Neill. $60,000.
3–K P Dreamin, 122, f, 2, by Union Rags
1st Dam: Litigating, by Point Given
2nd Dam: Mediation (Ire), by Caerleon
3rd Dam: Redeem Herself, by General Assembly
($100,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP; $170,000 2yo ’19 OBSAPR). O-Karl
Pergola; B-Vegso Racing Stable (FL); T-Jeff Mullins. $36,000.
Margins: NK, 3, 2 1/4. Odds: 0.20, 11.60, 17.60.
Also Ran: Been Studying Her, Buyer’s Remorse, Leucothea.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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Banahan Named Farm Manager of the Year

Fri, 2019-09-27 15:02

Michael Banahan, Director of Farm Operations at Godolphin’s Jonabell Farm, has been named the 2019 Ted Bates Farm Manager of the Year, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers’ Club (KTFMC) announced.

“It is the committee’s unanimous belief that Michael exemplifies all the criteria set forth for Farm Manager of the Year: excellence in farm management, service to the KTFMC, and service to the community,” a release from the organization read. “Michael takes a hands-on approach by going into the field with the mares, foals, and stallions. Michael has been a role model for many in the industry and gives back to the community that has given so much to him.”

A native of County Meath, Ireland, Banahan worked at Coolmore Stud in Ireland and at Ashord Stud in Kentucky before breaking yearlings at Juddmonte Farm and working with trainers Colin Hayes (Australia), Guy Harwood (England) and Bill Mott (U.S.). He began his stint at Darley/Godolphin 26 years ago, initially working at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket under Liam O’Rourke. Subsequently promoted to manager of Raceland Farm–Darley’s original U.S. farm–he was eventually elevated to overseeing Godolphin’s farm operations in the States at his current post.

Banahan resides at Jonabell with his wife Kathryn and their three children, Grace, Brian and Laura. He serves on the board of directors of Central Kentucky Riding for Hope and the Kentucky Equine Management Internship and is Vice Chair of the Gluck Foundation.

“I am delighted to hear of this fitting accolade for Michael,” said Liam O’Rourke, Director of Studs, Stallions & Breeding at Godolphin’s Dalham Hall Stud. “He has been a key team player for the company going back to the early nineties. He is a person of great qualities–a leader, a talented and thoroughly proficient all-around horseman and an equally great family man. His in-depth industry knowledge has been gained from several working placements around the globe during his formative years. He remains as unassuming as ever and I cannot think of a more deserving recipient of this most coveted award for industry professionals.”

Godolphin Chief Operating Officer Dan Pride said: “Michael has served Darley and Godolphin for over 25 years in various capacities. He dedicates himself to not only manage and develop horses and people for our operation, but also believes strongly in giving back to the community and serves on numerous industry boards. He takes a keen interest in the Godolphin Flying Start program and works closely with the trainees during their time in Kentucky. We are very fortunate to have him on the Godolphin team.”

Jimmy Bell, President of Godolphin, added: “It is wonderful to see that Michael’s peers in the KTFMC feel as strongly about Michael as we do here at Godolphin. His dedication to our horses, personnel, and farm sets him in perfect company with past recipients. Michael has been a valued friend and colleague during my tenure at Godolphin. He represents Godolphin well in all his endeavors.”

The KTFMC will honor Michael Banahan as the 2019 “Ted Bates Farm Manager of the Year” at its annual Dinner Dance on Friday, December 6th at Distillery Square in Lexington. More information about the Dinner Dance can be found by visiting

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Put Horses First

Fri, 2019-09-27 13:11

Editor’s Note: Responses continue to come in for The Jockey Club’s proposed mandate to cap stallion covers at 140 annually. Today, we publish a reply from the long-time general manager for Lane’s End Farm.

I have followed and read with great curiosity people’s thoughts and opinions on The Jockey Club’s proposal to control book sizes and would like to take this opportunity to give my own.
I have had both the pleasure and responsibility of working for the Farishes and Lane’s End for more than 40 years. At Lane’s End, like so many other farms, everything we do is in the best interest of the horse. We have more the 2,000 acres and 200 stalls; everything is planned, from barn development to stall and field sizes, for the health and well-being of the animals we care for.

I’ve seen many changes in our industry through the years; some good, some bad, but the one I’m most concerned with is the increase in stallion book size. Unfortunately, I’ve seen it rise to levels I’m just not comfortable with. Granted, I come from a different side of the industry from many of the owners and breeders weighing in on this issue. I admit I’ve never bought a multi-million dollar stallion. I have, however, helped to syndicate and manage, along with Billy Sellers, the careers from start to finish of many of them. I have purchased shares and bred mares to several of them, so I am very aware of the economics of the stallion business.

There is a toll on large books and overbreeding. It affects mare handlers, stallion handlers, booking personnel, breeders and farms. Trying to get a spot on a certain day to a popular but oversubscribed stallion is frustrating. It often forces a mare to miss a heat cycle, thus pushing her foaling date back by three weeks.

Our stallions and mares are affected both mentally and physically by overbreeding. There are just so many days in the short breeding season. Horses often need time to rest and recuperate from injury or sickness, which forces them to miss days, compounding the problem. Yes, some stallions handle large books better than others, but I would argue that they would benefit from not being forced to breed multiple mares a day, often only a few hours apart.

People can argue fair trade, capitalism, genetics and all other issues with respect to capping the stallion limit. We may even, in the end, have to agree to disagree on some of the specifics. I believe it comes down to greed versus our responsibilities, as caretakers, to always do what is right by the horse. People would have to be ill-informed or not paying attention to think overbreeding is not harming our horses. We are both an industry and a sport structured around living beings that depend on us. Whether it’s a break between races or between breeding, it’s our responsibility to always give horses the time they need.

Many of you who know me are aware I seldom, if ever, speak out in print with regards to controversial matters affecting our industry. With that said, I believe a total somewhere between 125-140 total mares bred is an acceptable number. Supply and demand will work itself out. We at Lane’s End are supportive of regulations put in place to benefit horses, and The Jockey Club’s proposed stallion cap undoubtedly does that.

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25 Supplements Added to Fasig-Tipton Midlantic

Fri, 2019-09-27 12:15

Twenty-five offerings have been supplemented to the catalogue for the upcoming Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearlings Sale, set for Monday, Sept. 30 and Tuesday, Oct. 1 in Timonium, MD. The entries, catalogued as hips 411-435, can now be viewed online or in the Equineline sales catalogue app. Print copies of the supplemental catalogue will be available on the sales grounds. “There is strong sire power among the supplemental entries,” said Midlantic Director of Sales Paget Bennett. “Between this catalogue, and the continued Grade I success of our graduates, the Midlantic Fall Yearlings Sale is not to be missed.” Hips 1-150 will sell starting at 4:00 p.m. Monday, with the remaining yearlings on offer during a Tuesday starting at 10:00 a.m.

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WinStar Confirmed for Pitons Cup

Fri, 2019-09-27 11:13

WinStar Farm has been confirmed as a participant in The Pitons Cup, to be held at the new Royal Saint Lucia Turf Club Dec. 13.

“It’s always exciting to be a part of something new whether it is the Dubai World Cup, the Pegasus World Cup or a race like The Pitons Cup,” said Elliott Walden, President and Racing Manager of WinStar Farm. “[The Pitons Cup] is certainly capturing some attention and some good operators are signing on. It will be a great fun to get down to Saint Lucia and be a part of what is shaping as a great event.”

Walden continued, “The importance the Thoroughbred industry supporting itself and supporting new initiatives cannot be understated. We all benefit with a strong industry and we are all responsible for ensuring it is strong and healthy,”

Of the developments in St. Lucia, spearheaded by China Horse Club’s Teo Ah Khing, Walden said, “The creation of a new industry in Saint Lucia is very exciting. It is difficult to fully understand what opportunities may arise with a new center of horse racing in the Caribbean, but what is clear is that helping the sport grow can only be a positive thing.”

Other U.S.-based entities/individuals set to participate in the $150,000 race include Taylor Made Farm, trainer Todd Pletcher, owner Sol Kumin and bloodstock agent Bradley Weisbord.


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