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Updated: 1 hour 3 min ago

NYRA 2018 Handle Tops $2.1 Billion

Fri, 2019-01-04 16:55

All-sources handle at race meets at the New York Racing Association’s Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course reached $2,113,408,494 in 2018, according to figures released by NYRA Friday.

With 10 full race days and three partial cards cancelled due to weather–and 193 races taken off the turf–average daily handle over the 219 days of racing in 2018 was $9,650,267. In 2017, just 98 races were taken off the turf over 225 days of live racing, leading to all-sources handle of $2,191,731,339. The 2018 season featured 2,038 races at NYRA tracks, or 52 fewer than in 2017.

Yoshida Back on Grass for Pegasus

Fri, 2019-01-04 16:36

WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International, SF Racing and Head of Plains Partners’ Yoshida (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry {Ire}), a Grade I winner on turf and dirt last year, will return to the grass for his 2019 debut in the Jan. 26 $7-million GI Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park.

“We debated about whether to run him on the dirt or the turf,” WinStar president and CEO Elliott Walden said Friday. “The nice thing about Yoshida is he’s a Grade I winner on both surfaces. We felt like with Audible (Into Mischief) [also co-owned by WinStar and expected to start over the main track in the GI Pegasus World Cup] being in the other race, this was a good place to start.”

Yoshida, a ‘TDN Rising Star,’ opened 2018 with a win in the GI Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. He won the GI Woodward S. in his first start over the dirt at Saratoga last September and was most recently fourth in the Nov. 3 GI Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“He’s done great,” Walden said. “He had a little bit of a break for the month of November and then started back training. He’s had three breezes at Payson Park and Bill [Mott] is really happy with him. He’s continued to fill out and do well and we’re excited about the upcoming year with him. He’s unbelievable. He’s been a good horse from Day 1.”

Haskell Shifted to Saturday, Moved Up a Week

Fri, 2019-01-04 16:15

Traditionally run seven weeks after the GI Belmont S. and four weeks prior to the GI Travers S., the 2019 GI Haskell Invitational will be run July 20. The change was made because Monmouth officials were informed that, if the race were run on its normal date, it could not televised on the NBC family of networks.

To ensure television coverage, the race had to be moved to the July 20 date, which is a Saturday. The Haskell has traditionally been run on a Sunday.

The story was first reported by the Asbury Park Press.

“If we wanted to retain national television coverage for the race, we had no other choice,” said Dennis Drazin, who heads the management group that operates the track. “We either had to move the race or lose coverage. This is a our signature race and it’s a world-class race. This is not a race that we wanted to be unavailable on a national network. I don’t know this for sure, but had we gone without the TV coverage, we were worried that the Haskell might also lose its status as a ‘Win-and-You’re-In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup.”

In addition to having a $1-million purse, the Haskell has normally attracted many of the top 3-year-olds in training because of its spot on the calendar. It was far enough removed from the Belmont, that most trainers of Triple Crown starters had their horse ready to go for their summer-fall campaigns by the time the Haskell rolled around. There was also enough spacing between the Haskell and the Travers that trainers were usually open to the idea of running in both races.

It’s unclear how the change in dates will affect the type of field the Haskell gets. The worry is that, if trainers feel that they need more time for their horses to recover from the Triple Crown races, they might instead chose the GII Jim Dandy S. at Saratoga. That race will remain seven weeks after the Belmont.

“This could be a double-edged sword,” Drazin said. “For people who want to run in the Travers, they’ll now have more time between races if they go in the Haskell. But I understand we’re cutting it close when it comes to where the race is positioned as far as the Belmont goes. We might lose a horse or two where they want more time after the Belmont and gain a horse or two that likes the idea of the five-week gap between the Haskell and the Travers. We had to weigh these options and we decided in the end that it was critical to retain TV coverage.”

There could be more changes at the 2019 Monmouth meet as it appears that an influx of at least $10 million will be added to the purse account. There is legislation pending in the state capital of Trenton that would provide the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries with an annual subsidy of $20 million to boost purses. Half the money would go to Monmouth and the other half to the Standardbreds at the Meadowlands. Though the legislation has several more hurdles to clear, it is supported by virtually every major politician in the state and is expected to pass.

Monmouth should also have additional money for purses from its cut of sports betting revenue. Drazin said it’s too early to tell how much money that may involve.

With more money available for purses, management is weighing two options. One is to raise purses across the board for the entire meet. The other is to use the money for a two-to-three week period around the Haskell to have a championship-type meet within the regular meet. If that were to happen, Drazin said purses during that period would be about $500,000 a day.

Drazin also has plans to extend the Thoroughbred meet at the Meadowlands, which, over the last few years, has included only a handful of dates with turf racing only. He would like to see 20 days of racing at the Meadowlands and have the harness track converted so that dirt racing could resume there. Drazin says, by law, the Thoroughbreds get first preference on the fall dates, but he has been negotiating with Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural. According to Drazin, Gural has asked that the expansion of the Thoroughbred meet at the Meadowlands be put off until 2020.

DeBernardis, Wolfe Earn Eclipse Award for TDN Weekend

Fri, 2019-01-04 14:03

Christie DeBernardis and Patty Wolfe have earned the Eclipse Award for Audio/Multi-Media Internet for their piece chronicling the journey of Cozmic One, first foal of champion Zenyatta, from the racetrack to the show ring through the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) and the careful eye of 17-year-old show rider Isabela de Sousa. The entry appeared first online in the July edition of TDN Weekend, a publication of Thoroughbred Daily News and can be viewed here.

The story of Cozmic One is told by DeBernardis, who came up with the idea, wrote the text, took the pictures and interviewed de Sousa on camera, and Wolfe, who shot and produced the video of de Sousa, in which the young rider extols the opportunity of second careers for retired racehorses and the success of Off-the-Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) programs. The video captures Cozmic One and the young de Sousa together with the rider discussing her process of choosing Cozmic One, previously owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, as her next mount in the RRP sponsored Thoroughbred Makeover competition. De Sousa is then seen riding Cozmic One in a “demo event” at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in April 2018, as well as at her home, where Cozmic One resides with his pal and fellow OTTB Isle of Giants.

“We are truly honored and humbled that our work was chosen for an Eclipse Award,” said DeBernardis, an associate editor at TDN. “It is our industry’s highest honor and what we all strive for day in and day out. There are so many talented writers and photographers in horse racing that we are lucky to know and work with, so to be selected as an Eclipse winner among such an exceptional group is beyond flattering. I am very grateful to my family, friends and everyone at the TDN who have supported me and made this possible. I am also thankful to have met Sergio and Isabela de Sousa, who inspired this piece and welcomed me into their home and stable. And, I can’t forget Cozmic One, who attracted many readers to this story and shined a new light on retired racehorses.”

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Wolfe, who produces videos for TDN, added, “I am humbled to be recognized with this extraordinary honor. Working with the TDN on their visual media initiative has already been the most fulfilling (and fun) part of my career. Christie’s vision for this story was spot on, and I’m grateful we had the chance to help Isabela and Cozmic One tell their story.”

Judges in the Audio/Multi-Media Internet category were Ashely Cline, founder and publisher of the equestrian lifestyle blog, EquestrianStylist.com; Brian Nadeau racing analyst for Horseplayer Now and Amy Zimmerman, Santa Anita Park Vice President and Senior Associate Producer for NBC Sports.

Also winning 2018 Media Eclipse Awards: Tim Layden of SI.com will be honored in the Feature/Commentary Writing category for “Remember Chic Anderson’s Legendary Call of Secretariat’s Record Run at 1973 Belmont Stakes” and Jeremy Balan of BloodHorse.com will be recognized in the News/Enterprise Writing category for “San Luis Rey Horsemen Faced Brutal Challenges in Fire.”

NBC Sports captured two Eclipse Awards, one for live racing programming for its coverage of the 2018 Belmont Stakes and in the television features category for “San Luis Rey Fires.”

Barbara D. Livingston, chief photographer for Daily Racing Form, won her fourth Eclipse Award for Photography for a photograph of the GIII Gallant Bob S. at Parx. Inside the final 50 yards of the six-furlong race, Whereshetoldmetogo was in a furious stretch drive to the outside of the favored Firenze Fire, when suddenly Whereshetoldmetogo attempted to bite Firenze Fire. Livingston, standing in the gully at the outside rail to the left of the wire, caught the action with her Canon 1DX Mark II and 300mm f2.8 lens in an image displaying the teeth of Whereshetoldmetogo right below the withers of Firenze Fire.

Gulfstream’s Total Handle Tops $2 Billion in 2018

Thu, 2019-01-03 17:03

A record $2.010 billion was wagered via Gulfstream Park in 2018, representing a $122.7 million increase over the previous record in 2017. Live wagering was up from $1.632 billion to $1.750 billion despite two fewer days of racing.

Gulfstream’s 2018 highlights included the second-running of the $16-million GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational, won by Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}), named Horse of the Year two days earlier at the Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream Park. All-sources handle on the Pegasus was a then-record $41 million, a four-percent increase over the 2017 inaugural running. The 67th running of the GI Florida Derby, won by Audible (Into Mischief), generated a total handle of $49.909 million, a single-day record handle.

“We’re grateful for all the support we received in 2018 from fans and horsemen,” said Gulfstream’s General Manager Bill Badgett. “The quality of racing, the stars both human and equine who participated at Gulfstream were incredible. We continue to rebuild year-round racing in Florida with the help of breeders, owners and horsemen. While we’re pleased with the record growth the past two years in handle, we believe there is room to continue growing. The Stronach Group’s commitment to reinvigorate Thoroughbred racing is evident by its pursuit of improved customer service, relevant entertainment and fine dining.”

Dettori to Ride Mexico’s Undefeated Triple Crown Winner in Pegasus

Thu, 2019-01-03 16:42

Mexico’s undefeated Triple Crown winner Kukulkan (Mex) (Point Determined), last seen winning the $300,000 Clasico del Caribe Dec. 8 at Gulfstream Park, will have the services of international champion jockey Frankie Dettori Jan. 26 when he goes to post in the $9-million GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the richest race in North America.

“He’s really interested to ride,” trainer Fausto Gutierrez said. “He will be arriving that week [of Pegasus].”

Kukulkan is scheduled to breeze twice in Mexico before leaving Jan. 17 for Gulfstream.

2019 Kentucky Sires: Established Sires

Thu, 2019-01-03 12:55

The whole thing’s crazy, really.

In five previous instalments of this series, we’ve surveyed a dazing variety of young stallions–among which only a single intake has even undertaken the cursory test of actually loading some adolescent stock into the starting gate.

The percentage of mares sent to these unproven sires is pretty horrifying, when you consider how quickly most of them will promptly be written off–more often than not on the self-fulfilling basis that their fees, books and sale dividends start to fall as soon as they get anywhere near exposure on the track. You have to get very lucky to stumble across one that not only survives the initial commercial ordeal of the sales ring, courtesy of a wholly unreliable consensus, but then conjures enough credits from his first couple of crops on the track to prevent a terminal freefall in his book.

For every Pioneerof The Nile or Uncle Mo, standing at six figures after pulling an American Pharoah or Nyquist out of their hats, there will be a cavalry of stallions very soon banished to regional or overseas service. They trudge away like pawns cynically sacrificed in a recurring stalemate, annually renewed in the hope of someday fluking a move that traps the market in a profitable “check.”

But if history tells us that new sires are never again likely to command as high a fee, then conversely there is real value to be had among the survivors. Not so much the sire kings, the War Fronts and Tapits, as those knights and bishops who quietly fight their corner, achieving far more than will ever be within the competence of even the most glamorous of new names.

If such proven achievers are often said to lack commercial appeal, then that is another sad reflection on an industry that too often sets out to breed yearlings rather than racehorses. For the end user, however, that’s a beautiful situation. And for farms trying to build up families, likewise.

In the end, that’s the great thing about this business–at least for those who can afford to back their judgement. If you think everyone else is wrong, then you can go out there and take advantage. And, at the wire, everyone can find out who was right, and who was wrong.

To be fair, moreover, there’s still commercial value to be found among those sires who are establishing a track profile. War Front and Tapit, after all, had to earn their stripes: in his fourth season Claiborne were down to $10,000 and making deals for their $250,000 top gun, and Gainesway had Tapit at $12,500 until his runners starting advertising what he could do.

So let’s have a browse through the sires who are able to let their runners do the talking, rather than the advertising agencies.

Nobody, of course, needs telling that a stallion commanding a big fee might be able to get a runner. True, it’s alarming to see the champion freshman in Europe catapulted to €100,000 from €25,000 after a single crop. Among those who form what remains of the lower-to-middle market, however, we’ll try to pick out a few value bets.

RUN AWAY AND HIDE (City Zip), $6,500, Darby Dan

The City Zip story has only grown more remarkable since his death in 2017, with yet another Breeders’ Cup winner in Bulletin and a potential Kentucky Derby contender in Improbable. His legacy will soon be contested accordingly, but for now one of the most accomplished sons available to transfer the genes of Ghostzapper’s half-brother is quietly producing very solid results off fees that have never exceeded $7,500.

Precocious enough to break his maiden over 4 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland, and to win a Grade III on May 1, Run Away And Hide promised to prove a match for later developers when setting a stakes record in the GII Saratoga Special S. in August. Sadly he was then derailed but he has produced sounder stock himself, notably the redoubtable Are You Kidding Me: from his first crop, he was Grade II-placed as a juvenile and his in 2018 success in the GII Eclipse S. at Woodbine, aged eight, took his record in the last four runnings of that race to three wins and a neck defeat.

That admirable campaigner is among the black-type and graded-stakes winners produced by his sire at a ratio comparable to many dignified with a higher fee: to take two random examples, both Pioneerof the Nile and his sire Empire Maker.

Interesting to see Run Away And Hide’s book move back up from 65 to 91 last year–perhaps a response to smart juveniles the previous year in Run Away, Grade I-placed after his GII Best Pal S. success; and Ten City, winner of the GIII Bashford Manor S.

It’s hardly a mainstream family, but we keep reiterating why that’s not always a bad thing. (His third dam, in fact, is by a son of Hyperion!) Anyway what do you expect? Look at the price on the label.

MIDSHIPMAN (Unbridled’s Song), $8,500, Jonabell

With exciting freshmen in champion Cross Traffic and Will Take Charge, and young guns coming through in Arrogate and Liam’s Map, Unbridled’s Song is getting a posthumous lift as a sire of sires. Certainly you won’t go to any of those in 2019 anything like as inexpensively as you can to Midshipman. Yet how many of them will match his quiet consistency as a producer of stakes horses, even with mares superior to those he has always entertained?

Hardly the first son of his sire to prove difficult to hold together subsequently, Midshipman was a champion juvenile on synthetics and the turf elements in his family give his pedigree–the highlight of which is his half-sister, the Grade II-winning dam of Frosted (Tapit)–an intriguing mix. He had graded stakes winners on both dirt and turf in 2018, contributing to a cumulative black-type-horse percentage across five crops of better than 12.5%. Again, that beats a lot of horses standing at bigger fees. Midshipman will always roll his sleeves up and look after his clients.

ORB (Malibu Moon), $12,500, Claiborne

This takes a bit of courage, clearly. But his farm has shown plenty, in halving his fee after a generally tame start by his first two crops of runners. And it’s no good me spending half this series rebuking the commercial market for a jittery overreaction to early clues, and then failing to recognize that his new fee warrants continued faith in all those things that first made Orb so eligible as a stallion prospect.

He still has that princely family–crowned by his fourth dam, a Bold Ruler half-sister to Ruffian–and that top-class record on the track, unbeaten as he roared through the grades to win the Kentucky Derby. And his ability to throw a handsome yearling kept him unchallenged at the top of the intake in both his first two years at market.

So it’s just silly to decide that his failure to land running (just two black-type winners in 2018) means he can be definitively written off after just a second crop of juvenile starters. Especially when one of those two stakes winners stood up against the tide to win at Grade I level, Sippican Harbor winning the Spinaway S. after a 17-length maiden success at the Spa.

So we know already that he’s perfectly capable of producing an elite winner. His studmate Blame (Arch) took much longer to do that, Senga (Fr) winning a French Classic in his fourth year with runners. That came too late to stop Blame’s book haemorrhaging from 105 to 48 in 2017. But Claiborne did exactly the same to his fee as they now have with Orb, qualifying Blame as a value pick at $12,500 this time last year. And the rest is history: his book revived to 112 even as his maturing stock rallied to the cause, two Grade I winners helping his fee straight back up to $30,000.

Orb finds himself in a similar pickle, his yearling average slumping from $184,006 in 2017 to $53,097, with his book meanwhile down from 125 to 70. But breeders have been given every incentive to roll the dice at his new fee, and I can do no better than reprise exactly the words used of Blame in the equivalent space last year. Because some day you might find yourself looking pretty far-sighted for having sent a mare to Orb in his hour of need.

MIDNIGHT LUTE (Real Quiet), $15,000, Hill ‘n’ Dale

Last year Midnight Lute was given his second consecutive $5,000 fee cut and his deeds in 2018 qualify him as real value at this level. Dual Grade I winner Midnight Bisou (also third in both the Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Distaff) was the obvious highlight, but he had two other make the elite podium and eight graded stakes performers overall. His ratio of black-type winners and performer to starters, at 4.05 and 7.66%, was at least on a par with (and often better than) many stallions commanding much higher fees.

It’s instructive to see him produce a filly like Midnight Bisou because the blistering speed he showed as a dual GI Breeders’ Cup sprint winner–and as author of that famous 124 Beyer–was notoriously connected to the fact that he more or less raced on one gasp. With a following wind, his page would have entitled him to go two turns and he quickly showed breeders the kind of animal he could pull out of his hat with Mylute, fifth in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness from his first crop.

As Real Quiet’s outstanding son (auspiciously out of a Dehere mare), he has a cosmopolitan outcross family and it’s very interesting to see that he moved his book back up from just 56 mares in 2017 to 93 last year. Midnight Lute could not have ended the campaign more auspiciously, his unbeaten juvenile daughter Midnight Fantasy having won her second stakes race by 10 lengths at Fair Grounds on December 30. In his prime at 16, and at such a competitive fee, Midnight Lute has been given every chance by his astute farm and there’s no saying what the rewards might yet be.

SKY MESA (Pulpit), $15,000, Three Chimneys

This is one seriously underrated horse. He has all the juvenile class and precocity commercial breeders seek, unbeaten in three starts at two between his Spa maiden, the GI Hopeful and the GII Breeders’ Futurity. He has an immensely powerful physique. And he has a royal pedigree, out of a MGSW sister to Bernstein, their dam in turn a half-sister to champion 2-year-old filly Outstandingly (Exclusive Native); the next three dams are by Round Table, Nasrullah and War Admiral and extend directly to the great La Troienne. Oh yes–and, despite a quiet 2018, he has also compiled a record at stud that compares favourably with far more expensive stallions.

Sky Mesa’s 65 black-type winners represent just a tick under seven percent of his named foals, and his 125 operators at that level exceed 13%; 24 graded stakes winners and 53 graded stakes horses weigh in at 2.5 and 5.5%. That is a very similar ratio to More Than Ready and Candy Ride (Arg), to name two $80,000 stallions too excellent to be embarrassed by the comparison. And there are many standing at fees in between who cannot match that level of performance.

True, some of those will have mustered more than three Grade I winners, but even that is good work by Sky Mesa granted the kind of mares he must have been entertaining at that sort of fee. He has just turned 19, which will doubtless cause his book (just 63 in 2018) to be confined by another baseless prejudice. But he’s only a year older than Tapit and end-users, who will note his big stats already as a broodmare sire, are not going to get better value out of the Pulpit line.

CREATIVE CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway), $20,000, Airdrie

This fellow found himself in a fiercely competitive intake, no fewer than 10 individual stallions having already produced a Grade I winner with only a third crop of juveniles on the track. Union Rags (Dixie Union), who has sired four, has broken clear but is now priced accordingly. Of the rest, perhaps Creative Cause has as good a chance as any of breaking into the elite.

Only the nose of I’ll Have Another (Flower Alley) in the Santa Anita Derby prevented Creative Cause being a Grade I winner at both two and three and he beat Bodemeister (Empire Maker) in the GII San Felipe in between. He derailed after the Preakness but was plainly among the best of his generation and there is an air of quiet consolidation about his work at Airdrie so far: his biggest book yet this year, off a newly elevated fee, matched by a first elite scorer in Pavel, winner of the GI Stephen Foster H.; plus a Kentucky Derby fifth in $20,000 yearling bargain My Boy Jack.

Though the dam of Creative Cause was a Grade I winner, and his full brother ran second in the Belmont, it’s a family that salvages some rare and neglected lines. His damsire Siberian Summer (Siberian Express), for instance, is a half-brother to European blue hen Magnificient Style (Silver Hawk), whose son Nathaniel (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) sired champion Enable (GB) in his first crop.

It feels as though this guy is one good horse away from a real breakout. In the contest to succeed his great sire, here is a Cause worth fighting for.

KANTHAROS (Lion Heart), $20,000, Hill ‘n’ Dale

No explanation needed, by this stage. He’s just a horse on his way. And with his bigger, better books, it’s only a matter of time before he gets the Grade I winners he needs to warrant bigger hikes in fee than from $15,000 last year. As it, off his $5,000 Florida covers, he has been producing black-type winners and performers at a cumulative rate superior to Malibu Moon, Kitten’s Joy, Candy Ride (Arg), Flatter, Tiznow, Bernardini–er, need I go on?

LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike) & MUNNINGS (Speightstown), both $20,000, both Ashford

These two entered the game in the same year as not only Kantharos, but also Quality Road–who has since disappeared into the $150,000 stratosphere. A tough grade, then. But both the Ashford pair made a sound start as freshmen in 2014, respectively finishing third and fourth by earnings; and Lookin At Lucky top by number of winners, remarkably mustering 29 from just 44 starters.

Their rewards in 2015, however, were radically different. Munnings, inched up to $12,500 (before a hike to $25,000 the following year), soared to 196 mares (from 94 the previous year), behind just five other stallions nationally; whereas Lookin At Lucky, raised to $25,000 from $15,000, stalled at 115 (from 121). The resulting foals will be the sophomores of 2019, while their imminent crop of two 2-year-olds likewise come from books of 182 and 126. The difference was even more pronounced in 2017: Lookin At Lucky had 76 escorts, Munnings 178.

The time has absolutely come, then, for Munnings to start walking the walk. In principle, his better mares and bigger books should kick in now, so he is in a position to make $20,000 look decent value. While Lookin At Lucky has somehow never built up much of a reputation as a sales sire, Munnings had hardly been knocking it out of the park. But at least his first $25,000 covers did what they had to in 2018, moving his average up to $80,590 from $53,849.

In principle, then, there’s a rising tide to catch. But the fact remains that Lookin At Lucky was the better racehorse of the pair, and has now produced a champion in Accelerate–a famously slow burn, from his second crop. Only Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) meanwhile prevented his shuttle daughter Wow Cat (Chi) matching Accelerate’s Breeders’ Cup success in the GI Distaff, having already added the GI Beldame to five Group 1s won in her homeland. After serial near-misses at the elite level, Lookin At Lucky has confirmed himself eligible to produce a top-class racehorse off a middle-market fee.

Munnings had a much quieter year on the track, albeit in fairness he already had his pair of Grade I winners. And the fact is that his overall body of work features black-type and graded-stakes winners at the slightly better ratio of the pair, albeit Lookin At Lucky (consistent with his many narrow misses) edges it on aggregates of placed operators at those levels.

Bottom line is that both are at a critical point. One needs due recognition for defying the shallow consensus of the market and proving that he can sire top-class racehorses; the other, conversely, has been given every chance by the market to advance his profile, too. Possibly they will head in different directions now, but you couldn’t be surprised if either were standing at a much higher fee a couple of years down the line.

AWESOME AGAIN (Deputy Minister), private, Adena Springs

There’s a whole bunch of ageing stallions who are entitled to feel affronted by the kind of money commanded by showy younger sires, some with no runners at all and others trading on just one or two early stars. At WinStar alone, for instance, the veteran Distorted Humor is outrageous value at $50,000; you could argue that More Than Ready’s global imprint also makes him underpriced, even at $80,000; while Tiznow is a genuine legend who is also making his name as a sire of sires at $50,000.

Awesome Again is now 25 and listed as private, so his energies are presumably being carefully managed by a farm that also stands his mighty son Ghostzapper (himself, again, reasonably priced at that level of the market at $85,000). But he has covered 117 mares over the past two years, so there’s plenty of life in the old boy as yet. And what a privilege for any breeder to have the chance of a filly, in 2020, by a son of the great Deputy Minister out of a Blushing Groom mare: broodmare sire gold. Sure enough, this year in that capacity Awesome Again was represented by none other than Accelerate.

How much he can be credited for that horse’s durability can perhaps be judged by the fact that Awesome Again is the sire of one of the world’s toughest elite sophomores in 2018. Bravazo, Grade I-placed at two, started his campaign with a win on January 13; followed Justify every step of the way through the Triple Crown, beaten just half a length in the Preakness; and wrapped up with a neck defeat in the GI Clark H. on his 11th start of the year in November.

They won’t take just any mare off the street, and I have no idea how much they’d charge, but access to Awesome Again remains a priceless privilege.

BERNARDINI (A.P. Indy), $50,000, Jonabell

So, on which side do you stand? By consecutively cutting one of the world’s most beautiful and accomplished stallions from $100,000 to $85,000 and now $50,000, Darley have made it impossible to sit on the fence. At 16, he’s clearly at a major crossroads. He has had a painfully slow year on the track, with just two Grade III winners, but his farm has decided to grasp the nettle and stand up for what it unquestionably an elite body of work overall.

For years Bernardini has been a knockout sales sire who has backed it up with 14 individual Grade I winners. Half a dozen of those, moreover, have come in the past five years: it’s not as though he has forgotten how to come up with a star since producing GI Travers S.winners–emulating his own success in the race–from his first two crops.

For the end-user, the clincher surely has to be his spectacular start as a broodmare sire. The venerable A.P. Indy topped the 2018 table with black-type winners at 4.66 and 9.81 percent, eclipsing such broodmare sire legends as Storm Cat (2.71 percent black-type winners) and his son Giant’s Causeway (2.93). Bernardini produced his at an off-the-charts 7.77 and 12.14%. Aptly enough, his latest Grade I success in this capacity came in the Travers through Catholic Boy (More Than Ready).

Darley recently produced a table ranking broodmare sires by black-type winners at the equivalent age. Yes, the expansion of the stakes program invalidates comparisons with historic greats in the sphere, but the fact remains that he is comfortably ahead of modern benchmarks in Galileo (Ire), Giant’s Causeway and Shamardal.

I guess those playing the long game, at the top end of the market, are not especially bothered by such a purposeful cut to his fee. But value is available at every level of the market, and it would be rude to ignore so generous a gesture.

Value Sires Podium

Gold: Lookin At Lucky

Silver: Midnight Lute

Bronze: Sky Mesa

 

Sir Anthony Gives Trainer Mitchell A New Shot at the Big Time

Thu, 2019-01-03 11:55

Trainer Anthony Mitchell closed 2018 out with a bang when his 3-year-old Sir Anthony (Mineshaft) sprung a shocking 25-1 upset of heavily favored GI Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Audible (Into Mischief) in the GIII Harlan’s Holiday S. at Gulfstream Park Dec. 15, but the veteran conditioner said he is resisting the temptation to press on toward a potential start in the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational Jan. 26.

Mitchell, who trains the ridgling for American Academy of Art president Richard Otto, has been based in Chicago for the last 20 years, but has spent more than four decades in the horse-training business. He has trained some nice fillies, including graded stakes winners Original Spin (Distorted Humor), Lovely Afternoon (Afternoon Deelites) and Summer Mis (Summer Squall). He was an assistant to William Badgett during his reign with Hall of Fame champion Go for Wand. But this is the first time he has a male horse in prime position to take on the toughest foes of the handicap division.

It’s taken a lot of patience–a virtue that characterizes Mitchell, along with his modesty. Ask him about the success of Sir Anthony and he will first mention his assistant, partner and owner Aimee Bohlman. Then he will credit trainer Eoin Harty and his assistant Andy Hansen for looking after Sir Anthony on his trip from Chicago to Florida. Ask him about Go for Wand, and he won’t take any credit.

“That was Rose’s baby,” he said, referring to Rosemary Badgett Hennig, who was the filly’s exercise rider.

Mitchell, 60, grew up in the seaside resort town of Brighton, England as the son of a butcher.

“My neighborhood was a working-class area,” Mitchell said. “It was a little bit tough, a little bit rough, some kids went the wrong way. My father wanted me to be on the straight and narrow, so he bought me a pony.”

Mitchell learned to be a rider, but it wasn’t his calling. “I just wasn’t good enough. I tried it for a year. I was battling weight.”

By 15, he had already left school in order to work full-time for trainer Charlie Moore, working his way up to head lad at the barn.

“Charlie was a very patient trainer who paid attention to detail. He had a very good eye for the horses but didn’t have the financial means to buy [the better stock],” he said, adding that his time with Moore taught him valuable skills, such as how to identify physical problems early.

After about 15 years with Moore, Mitchell made the trek to the United States.

“I pretty much got as far as I was going to go over there,” Mitchell said. “In England, they don’t train on the track. You need the finances to get into a property.”

In New York, he went to work for Thoroughbred trainer Tom Skiffington at Belmont Park, who also had a background as a steeplechase rider. There, he learned how to train horses stabled at the track and how to develop graded stakes horses. Eventually, Skiffington’s assistant Richard Schosberg went on his own and Mitchell would join his good friend as an assistant handling his horses at Aqueduct.

While later working as an assistant to Badgett, he was with Go for Wand in her final moments after she tragically broke down at Belmont Park in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Distaff while dueling with Bayakoa. Mitchell ran onto the track and pulled her up after she got back on her feet after collapsing at the sixteenth pole

“It was the worst day,” the trainer recalled.

Mitchell used to ride out on a pony in the mornings with Go for Wand and Rose as they went to work.

“I really don’t think she reached her full potential,” he said of the seven-time GI winner. “These exceptional horses seem to have an aura about them. They just stand out from the rest. The breezes were so easy for her.”

Mitchell’s experience with Go For Wand laid the groundwork for his patient approach toward training Sir Anthony, who shares a third dam with 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome. Mitchell elected to give Sir Anthony a winter break last year rather than push on toward a Florida campaign–a decision that allowed him to hatch a better plan this winter to prepare for his breakout stakes score. Continuing down the same path, Mitchell doesn’t expect to run his muscular grandson of A.P. Indy and Smart Strike in the Pegasus–perhaps next year, he said.

“As a 4-year-old, I think he’s going to get bigger and better,” Mitchell said. “He’s still filling out. He’s developing muscles on his front end and hind end.”

Sir Anthony was bred by his owner, Richard Otto. The two connected when Mitchell was working for Arlington Park magnate Richard Duchossois at his Hill ‘N Dale Farm in Illinois in the 1990s. Otto, who has owned horses since being introduced to the sport in 1985 by former Chicago Bears chairman Ed McCaskey, named the horse Sir Anthony because Arlington Park announcer John Dooley refers to Mitchell as “Sir Anthony” when he wins a race.

As for the horse, Sir Anthony is currently resting on a farm in Ocala, awaiting his next assignment. It will likely be another graded stakes in Florida. Mitchell said he wants to give him a month off.

“He’s a very cool customer. He’s very laid back. Nothing really bothers him too much,” said Mitchell, who currently operates a nine-horse barn out of Hawthorne and will base five horses at Gulfstream Park this winter.

The trainer admitted he is savoring the moment.

“I don’t get to see graded stakes horses year after year,” he said. “I’m very blessed and fortunate. When the times are hard and you’re not winning and you put your head down and a horse like Sir Anthony comes around, it makes all the rest of the stuff not so bad.”

 

Value Sires Series: First Foals Of 2019

Thu, 2019-01-03 07:40

After kicking off our European value sires series earlier this week with stallions entering stud in 2019, we move on to sires with their first foals this year. Please note that figures of mares bred are taken from the 2018 Return of Mares, and are subject to be slightly off due to late registrations.

A trio of colts entered stud last year sharing the top-of-the-class fee of €35,000, and all three remain at that price this year: Coolmore’s Caravaggio (Scat Daddy) and Churchill (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), and Haras d’Etreham’s Almanzor (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}).

After an undeniably successful first season for Scat Daddy’s No Nay Never that saw his fee quadrupled, Caravaggio will have an even heavier load of anticipation and all the buzz riding on his shoulders. And while No Nay Never was an exciting racehorse in his own right, Caravaggio was simply a masterpiece in winning the G2 Coventry S., G1 Keeneland Phoenix S. and G1 Commonwealth Cup, the latter from the champion sprinter Harry Angel (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}). The hype had started early for No Nay Never, his first yearlings selling so well that he earned a fee hike before he even had runners, so it will be interesting to see how the Caravaggios are received at the foal sales later this year. He had 17 in-foal mares sold last year from 19 through the ring for an average of £158,446/€176,305. He covered 217 mares in 2018.

Almanzor broke down every barrier he confronted in 2016, proving himself the top French 3-year-old with a win over Zarak (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the G1 Prix du Jockey Club before besting the future Arc winner Found (Ire) (Galileo {Ire})-and a host of other top-class older horses-in both the G1 Irish Champion S. and G1 Champion S. and was named Europe’s champion 3-year-old colt. The sporting decision was made to leave him in training as a 4-year-old, but Almanzor was sadly struck by a herpesvirus outbreak that hit trainer Jean-Claude Rouget’s barn and never returned to his best. That won’t affect his odds at stud, of course; he is by Iffraaj’s Wootton Bassett, who is still a promising young sire himself and has had his own fee doubled to €40,000 this year, and he comes from a stout Aga Khan female family that includes Prix du Jockey Club winner Darsi (Fr) (Polish Precedent) and G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches winner Darjina (Fr) (Zamindar).

Churchill is the latest in the lineup of Galileo-sired Classic winners to head to stud in Co. Tipperary, following on from Australia (GB) and Ruler of the World (Ire) in 2015, Gleneagles (Ire) the following year and The Gurkha (Ire) in 2017. Galileo’s success thus far as a sire of sires is there for all to see, but the likes of Gleneagles, Churchill and Decorated Knight (GB) could usher in a new era for their sire as the first sons of Galileo from Storm Cat mares to go to stud. This trend is a result of breeders sending Galileo faster mares than those from the stamina-laden pedigrees that produced New Approach (Ire), Teofilo (Ire) and even Frankel (GB) earlier in his career, and Churchill-who covered 211 mares last year–in particular has a very fast page, his dam being the G2 Queen Mary S. second Meow (Ire), a daughter of the G1 Cheveley Park S. winner and G1 Diamond Jubilee second Airwave (GB) (Air Express {Ire}), who is a half-sister to the G1 Nunthorpe S. winner Jwala (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}). For Churchill and his full-sister Clemmie (Ire), the blending of Galileo’s stamina with a sharp Storm Cat dam resulted in the ultimate mile performer. Sprinting mares of all types are now knocking down Galileo’s door, and it will be fascinating to see where this latest trend sends his career as a sire of sires. At the same time, Coolmore stands Highland Reel (Ire) from the same sire crop; the admirable middle-distance performer hails from the tried-and-true Galileo over Danehill cross that has produced successful sires Frankel and Teofilo as well as up-and-comers like Intello and Noble Mission, and Highland Reel stays at €17,500 after covering 184 mares last year.

Galileo’s two other European Group 1-winning sons from this sire crop both get a fee trim for 2019: Ulysses (Ire) (£30,000 to £17,500) and Decorated Knight (€15,000 to €12,000). Two better bred horses you would hardly find anywhere: the G1 Coral-Eclipse and G1 Juddmonte International winner Ulysses is out of the G1 Oaks winner Light Shift (Kingmambo) and therefore is from a similar cross to rising young sire Camelot (Sadler’s Wells over a Kingmambo mare), while G1 Jebel Hatta, G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup and G1 Irish Champion S. winner Decorated Knight is out of a full-sister to Giant’s Causeway and You’resothrilling, the dam of Gleneagles.

In the case of Ulysses, the fee cut looks like good business practice on behalf of Cheveley Park Stud; the horse covered 115 mares last year, and after a cut throat season at the breeding stock sales perhaps breeders will respond to a little relief and support the horse in his crucial second year.

The Irish National Stud stated when it released its fees for 2019 that it was reducing some to respond to market needs, and the package that is Decorated Knight should be extremely appealing: a three-time Group 1 winner that is closely related to Gleneagles-who started out at €60,000-and Giant’s Causeway and from one of the best families in the global stud book for €12,000. It is surprising that just 66 mares visited the horse last year-perhaps a one has fallen off the front of that figure? Sure, he didn’t do his best running until five, but at that stage he could run with the best of them, and the page is full of precocious Group 1 winners that could tip the odds slightly more in the favor of those looking for a quick return. In any case, buyers of in-foal mares this season were more than happy to take a swing; he cleared 24 of 25 offered, including the G3 Princess Margaret S. winner Princess Noor (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}), who brought 675,000gns. Breeders Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar supported Decorated Knight with some of their impeccably bred mares-a number of those being the ones to go through the ring–so he’ll have some blueblooded youngsters working for him in a few years’ time.

Also taking small fee cuts-again, not alarming considering the market–are Darley’s Group 1 winners Ribchester (Ire) (Iffraaj {GB}) and Postponed (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire})-both four-time Group 1 winners. Ribchester was Europe’s standout miler last year, following up on a win in the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois at three with victories in the Lockinge S., Queen Anne and Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. The success of the aforementioned Wootton Bassett, another son of Iffraaj, at stud should only help his popularity, and Ribchester covered 154 mares at €30,000. He is down to €25,000.

Postponed took the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. at four, and the Dubai Sheema Classic, the G1 Coronation Cup and the Juddmonte International at five. He is a grandson of G1 Moyglare Stud S. winner Bianca Nera (GB) (Salse) and his half-sister God Given (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) boosted the page in November with a win in the G1 Premio Lydia Tesio. Postponed did his best running later but he also won the G2 Great Voltigeur S. at three. Dubawi has yet to establish a flagship son at stud-he has had some bad luck with Al Kazeem being subfertile and Poet’s Voice dying young-but the likes of Poet’s Voice and Makfi have both sired Group 1 winners, and Postponed looks to have all the ingredients. He covered 112 mares last year at £20,000 and a small cut to £15,000 could help keep the momentum going.

Others from the sire crop to give Dubawi a chance to establish a top sire son include Zarak (Fr), the Aga Khan’s Group 1-winning son of Arc winner Zarkava (Ire) who stands at Haras de Bonneval for €12,000 and covered 133 mares last year. It bodes well that the Aga Khan Studs are giving him a real chance with some of their well-bred mares, including Group 1 mares Shareta (Ire) and Shankardeh (Ire). He also covered sisters to Charm Spirit (Ire) and Laurens (Fr). The National Stud stands Time Test (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) for £8,500. He was top class over a mile to 2000 metres and was unlucky to not be a Group 1 winner, placing at that level four times.

Darley’s third Group 1 winner in this sire crop is Profitable (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), the G1 King’s Stand S. winner who lived up to his name when covering 185 mares at Kildangan Stud last year at €12,000. Profitable is rated higher than both Invincible Spirit and that one’s best sire son thus far, I Am Invincible (Aus)-also a five-furlong specialist who reached his best later in his racecourse career-and while Profitable hit his best stride at four and five, he did win at two. He stays at €12,000 this year.

Another son of Invincible Spirit is available alongside his sire at the Irish National Stud at a reduced fee: the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner National Defense (Ire), who is down from €12,000 to €8,000 for 2019. National Defense is out of a Kingmambo mare, and class shines through on the page with 10 black-type horses under the first two dams.

Two more well-supported Group 1 winners to take fee cuts for their second seasons are Tally-Ho Stud’s Galileo Gold (Ire) (Paco Boy {GB}) and the National Stud’s Aclaim (GB) (Acclamation {GB}). Again, this looks like smart business in a ruthless sales climate. The G1 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold covered 140 mares last year at €15,000 and is available for €10,000 this year, while the G1 Prix de la Foret winner Aclaim can be accessed in 2019 for £9,500 after breeding 160 mares at £12,500 in 2018.

Incidentally, the two horses share a similar page: Aclaim’s second dam is a half-sister to Montjeu (Ire), while Galileo Gold’s third dam is a different half-sister to that prolific sire. That family also features the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas and G1 Moyglare Stud S. winner Again (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}), and the G1 King’s Stand S. winner Goldream (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}).

Standing alongside Galileo Gold at Tally-Ho is the G3 Molecomb S. winner Cotai Glory (GB) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}), who covered 180 mares at €6,000 and also takes a fee trim to €5,000. The fact that Bungle Inthejungle, also by Exceed and Excel, did so well this year bodes well for Cotai Glory, as does the fact that, like No Nay Never, he is out of an Elusive Quality mare.

As Scat Daddy’s stock continued to rise in late 2017, Yeomanstown Stud secured his dual Grade III-winning son El Kabeir for stud duty. That was before No Nay Never had had a runner and before Justify had started in a race, and sure enough by season’s end El Kabeir had covered 146 mares at €8,000-he remains at that fee this year. He was a winner at Saratoga at two before taking the GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. later that year, and he won two Kentucky Derby prep races-the GIII Jerome S. and GIII Gotham S. over 1700m-at three.

Ardad (GB) (Kodiac {GB}) was very popular at Overbury Stud last year, covering 132 mares at £6,500, and he is just the kind of horse the commercial buyers could latch on to at the foal sales: he won the Listed Windsor Castle S. on his second start at two and later added the G2 Flying Childers S. And of course, he is by Kodiac from the super speedy family of G1 Prix de l’Abbaye winner Maarek (GB) (Pivotal {GB}).

While Almanzor and Zarak are the headliners for France of this sire crop, there are some strong supporting acts, of which Haras de Bouquetot stands four. Brametot (Fr) (Rajsaman {Fr}) was a dual winner at two before taking the G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains and the G1 Prix du Jockey Club the following year. He ran an RPR of 121 when fifth behind Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) in the 2017 G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He is free of Northern Dancer and his dam is a half-sister to Monsun (Ger). He is down to €6,000 from €10,000.

Al Wukair (Ire) (Dream Ahead) and Zelzal (Fr) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) both stay at their opening fee of €8,000. Al Wukair was an unbeaten stakes winner in France at two before finishing third to Churchill in the G1 2000 Guineas. He won the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois with an RPR of 120 later that season. He is out of a daughter of Machiavellian and his second dam is the G1 Prix de Diane winner Caerlina (Ire) (Caerleon).

Zelzal is by Sea The Stars out of a Kingmambo mare, and while he didn’t get going until three he barely put a foot wrong thereafter. He found the G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains to be too much too soon after winning his first two starts, but bounced back to take the G3 Prix Paul de Moussac and the G1 Prix Jean Prat.

Ectot (Fr) (Hurricane Run {Ire}) stays at €5,000. The half-brother to G1 St. James’s Palace S. winner Most Improved (Ire) (Lawman {Fr}) won the G1 Criterium International at two, was a Group 3 winner over GI Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie (Jpn) (Bernstein) at three and at five he won the GI Joe Hirsch Turf Classic over Flintshire (GB) (Dansili {GB}).

Haras du Logis stands Ultra (Ire) (Manduro {Ger}), who combines class with precocity. The highest-rated 2-year-old by Manduro (Ger)-and out of a Nashwan mare who has produced three stakes horses-Ultra is the fastest-ever winner of the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. He was unbeaten in three starts at two and won a listed race at three. He stays at €7,000 this year.

Also at that fee is The Grey Gatsby (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) at Haras du Petit Tellier, and let’s not forget he was among the very best of his generation at three, winning the G1 Prix du Jockey Club and the G1 Irish Champion S.-over Australia-before an agonizing run at four saw him place in the G1 Dubai Turf, G1 Prince of Wales’s S., G1 Coral-Eclipse and G1 Juddmonte International. He earned RPRs of 125-plus on four occasions and stands for €7,000.

Montfort et Preaux has crafted a remarkable success story with its flagship sire Le Havre (Ire), and it will be hoping to follow suit with The Queen’s Recorder (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). The chestnut made just three starts, all at two, breaking his maiden at second asking before taking the G3 Acomb S. Being out of a Danehill Dancer mare, Recorder bears the aforementioned cross that has already produced sires like Frankel and Teofilo, and in addition to Recorder, his G2 Cherry Hinton and G3 Albany S.-winning dam Memory (Ire) has produced the Grade II winner Call To Mind (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). Recorder remains at €6,000 in 2019.

Value Sires Podium

Gold – Decorated Knight (€12,000): a three-time Group 1 winner from the family of Giant’s Causeway and Gleneagles.

Silver – Profitable (€12,000): has a similar profile to I Am Invincible.

Bronze – Aclaim (£12,000): by sire of sires Acclamation from the Classic family of Montjeu.

McKinzie Aiming for Pegasus, But Needs a Spot

Wed, 2019-01-02 17:41

The McKinzie (Street Sense) camp has decided it wants to take a shot at the $9-million GI Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, but there remains an obstacle: they did not purchase one of the $500,000 spots for the race and those spots are now sold out.

“I knew the slots were gone when he won the [GI] Malibu S., so I haven’t really talked much about going in the Pegasus,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “But if he’s doing really well and an available spot comes up, we’ll go. If there’s not a slot available for him we’re not going to worry about it.”

In other Pegasus news, the Daily Racing Form reported yesterday that Tom’s d’Etat (Smart Strike) has joined the field for the Jan. 26 race. He has won four in a row, but has never run in a graded stakes event. Based at Fair Grounds with trainer Al Stall, his last win came in the Tenacious S. Dec. 22.

With so much maneuvering behind the scenes with people owning spots and trying to make deals with others who do not own spots, it can sometimes he hard to keep track of who is in and who is out of the Pegasus. It appears that nine horses have committed to the field, which is restricted to 12. They are Accelerate (Lookin at Lucky); Tom’s d’Etat; Kukulkan (Mex) (Point Determined); City of Light (Quality Road); Audible (Into Mischief); Bravazo (Awesome Again); True Timber (Mineshaft); Seeking the Soul (Perfect Soul {Ire}); Gunnevera (Dialed In).

It appears there are spots still available and it would make perfect sense for one of those stakeholders to want to make a deal with the McKinzie team. McKinzie, who has always been a highly regarded member of the Baffert stable, threw in a clunker when 12th in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic, but rebounded with an impressive win in the Malibu. He could be second choice in the race behind Accelerate.

“I’m going to breeze him on Saturday,” Baffert said. “I want to run him when he’s super right. I don’t want to rush anything. I would like to go but if I can’t find a spot, there’s nothing we can do about it. I can’t commit to the race without a spot. If it happens, it happens.”

Baffert won the inaugural Pegasus with Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song).

As for his embarrassment-of-riches collection of 3-year-olds, Baffert will look to strengthen his hand Saturday at Santa Anita when he sends out Much Better (Pioneerof the Nile) and Coliseum (Tapit) in the GIII Sham S. Though he’s only run once, winning a maiden, Coliseum will be the likely favorite in the Sham. Owned by Godolphin, he was already being hyped before his first start, which he won by 6 3/4 lengths with Joe Talamo aboard.

“Coliseum has so much raw talent,” Baffert said. “He is really, really good. He has the talent but he has an immature mind. We’re slowly getting him there. He wants to get tough, rank. Talamo has been working him. He needs to find a way to wrestle that speed, particularly in the middle part of the race.”

 

Ritvo Hopes Retouched Photos Gaffe Will Spur Whip-Use Reform

Wed, 2019-01-02 16:30

An internal marketing policy at The Stronach Group (TSG) designed to minimize imagery that shows whip usage in horse races resulted in unintended blowback to start the new year.

But Tim Ritvo, the company’s chief operating officer, told TDN Wednesday that the company is owning up to its error in judgment, and that he now intends to use the instance of overzealous photo editing to spur reform to one of the sport’s most sensitive welfare issues.

TSG’s Gulfstream Park recently gave away a 2019 wall calendar as a promotional item. Soon after the calendars began to circulate publicly, some racegoers took to social media to criticize the track’s decision to digitally remove some of the whips carried by jockeys in the in-race action shots.

The most prominent image that was sanitized in this fashion was of Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) soaring home in front of the GI Pegasus World Cup field last January.

The edited photograph was conspicuous because it did not match up with the original image released by the track a year ago in which jockey Florent Geroux exultantly waved his whip aloft in his left hand as he crossed the wire. Instead, the retouched image shows Geroux riding one-handed with the other hand making a loose fist with nothing in it.

Jordan’s Henny (Henny Hughes), the long-shot victress of last year’s GIII Hurricane Bertie S., was similarly depicted with an edited-out whip, resulting in jockey Tyler Gaffalione holding his right arm extended away from his mount’s flank in an awkward position.

Some sarcastic denizens of social media saw fit to fill in the blanks with items of their own choosing. One Gun Runner shot showed Geroux instead brandishing a photoshopped baguette; a retouched version of a different horse showed the jockey wielding a light saber from the “Star Wars” movie in place of the vanished whip.

“If we could do it again, we would have not removed the whips,” Ritvo said. “There’s no question that was an oversight, and that we should have just selected other images. To try to hide or deface [whip use] is not the best strategy, and it was clearly a mistake. We should not try to hide what is already out there. People know that jockeys use whips. What we should do is try to move forward with what’s the right message and what’s the right thing to do. From this, I’ll learn myself, and we’ll address these issues.”

Ritvo explained that TSG’s marketing policy at its six United States tracks is to depict “limited use of the whip, meaning nobody reaching back and hitting the horse or anything like that.”

TSG’s Santa Anita Park also had a 2019 calendar giveaway, which Ritvo said was assembled by being a little more judicious about which photos were selected rather than relying on the editing process to remove the whips.

“The instructions from our main office to our marketing [team] were not to use any whips where people are reaching back to strike a horse,” Ritvo said. “In [Gun Runner’s] case, instead of just swapping out the photo and using another picture, they ended up [digitally editing out] the whip, which is probably a little bit stupid. And the reason it’s stupid is [Geroux] is just waving the whip in victory, not like he’s going to reach back and hit the horse. That’s the frustrating part.”

Ritvo has a unique perspective on this issue because he is one of the few former jockeys to rise to a prominent position in racetrack management. He last rode 30 years ago at Suffolk Downs, and he told TDN that he feels strongly about the need to change the culture of whip use in the sport–not only because it creates negative public perception, but because he believes whip usage is largely unnecessary.

“Back in my day when we rode, it wasn’t an item of discussion. And truthfully, aftercare wasn’t an item of discussion either. But look how that’s evolved in the last couple of decades,” Ritvo said. “Being an ex-jockey, I actually believe horses enjoy running when they’re properly taken care of. So the question is, why do they need any more encouragement if they really enjoy what they’re doing?”

“People in the industry are now more understanding about the health and welfare of the animal,” Ritvo continued. “These are important issues. They’re integrity issues. And because [TSG] benefits from racing, we need to be aware of them. I think we’ve done a good job in aftercare. I think we’ve done a good job from where we came from in using the whip for correction. Now we need to evolve into the next steps as to how much are they really needed, and [how we] encourage horses without the effect of hurting the animal or making it do something it doesn’t want to do.

“The bottom line is, we care about the horses as much as anybody, because horses are our business,” Ritvo summed up. “The whip should be used as a correction tool, and that’s it. The discussion moving forward should be more on the direction we go as a business as to whether whips are even required. Maybe this will bring the issue more to the forefront.”

 

$1.25M Medaglia d’Oro Filly’s Gulfstream Graduation a Walk in the ‘Parc’

Wed, 2019-01-02 15:58

7th-Gulfstream, $43,560, Msw, 1-2, 3yo, f, 1 1/16mT, 1:41.48, fm.
CAMBIER PARC (f, 3, Medaglia d’Oro–Sealy Hill {HotY, Ch. 3yo Filly, Ch. Grass Mare-Can & GSW & MGISP, $1,747,081}, by Point Given), a $1.25-million yearling purchase by OXO Equine, took to the turf with a good-looking and well-bet maiden score Wednesday at Gulfstream for trainer Chad Brown. Heavily favored in her debut Nov. 3 on the Aqueduct main, the bay was outfooted after a slow start and showed mild interest late to be fourth. Backed down to 13-10 off a 5-1 morning-line quote here, Cambier Parc settled in a comfortable tracking spot as the field strung out behind sharp splits of :22.69 and :46.44 down the backstretch. Creeping up to the leaders progressively wider nearing the lane, she surged to the front outside the furlong grounds and drew clear to triumph by four lengths. Cap de Creus (Tapit) got up late to complete the exacta.

“It was a great win,” trainer Chad Brown said. “The horse has always showed a lot of promise, and we finally got her on the right surface. The owner, Larry Best, is here today and I’m happy he got a nice win here with a promising filly. He’s been real patient with her and it looks like her future is on turf.”

The winner’s dam, a three-time Canadian champion, was bought by Bonne Chance Farm for $750,000 at Keeneland November in 2015 with Cambier Parc in utero before she justified that investment when hammering for seven figures at KEESEP in 2017. Sealy Hill, who also has produced Hillaby (Distorted Humor), Ch. Female Sprinter-Can & GSW, $282,265; Belle Hill (Sky Mesa), GSW, $180,725; and Gale Force (Giant’s Causeway), GSW, $138,611, has another Medaglia d’Oro filly who went for $425,000 toWhisper Hill Farm at KEESEP in the fall, and she produced a colt by Into Mischief last spring. Sales History: $1,250,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 2-1-0-0, $30,000. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

O-OXO Equine LLC; B-Bonne Chance Farm LLC (KY); T-Chad C. Brown.

Grade I Winner Fatale Bere Supplemented to Keeneland January

Wed, 2019-01-02 15:18

Fatale Bere (Fr) (Pedro the Great), winner of the 2018 GI Del Mar Oaks, is the headline name among nine new supplemental entries to next week’s Keeneland January Sale in Lexington.

Consigned by ELiTE as hip 397K and offered as a broodmare prospect only, the 4-year-old won the Surfer Girl S. in her U.S. debut in October 2016 and added the GIII Providencia S. in her first sophomore appearance last April. Campaigned in this country by the Benowitz Family Trust, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Mark Mathiesen and Mathilde Powell and trained by Leonard Powell, Fatale Bere amassed a record of five wins from 11 appearances and earnings of $427,964.

Other additions to the Monday session include:

Hip 397H, French stakes winner and U.S. graded-stakes placed Pas de Soucis (Ire) (Footstepsinthesand {GB}), consigned by Hunter Valley Farm as a racing/broodmare prospect

Hip 397I, Rain On the Dune (GB), a Frankel (GB) half-sister to GISW Bellamy Road (Concerto), consigned by Taylor Made Sales as a broodmare prospect

Hip 397J, Lori’s Attitude (Temple City), a three-time winner of better than $136,630 and a two-time victress this term. She is consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale as a broodmare prospect only.

Shack Parrish’s Indian Creek agency consigns three of the five newest entries to Tuesday’s session, including hip 795E, Nothing To Wear (Malibu Moon), daughter of MGSW Rich In Spirit (Repriced) and therefore a half-sister to MGSW & GISP Wishing Gate (Indian Charlie). The 7-year-old mare sells on a June cover to Blame. Ashview Farm consigns hip 795G, Heavenly Lucky (Lookin At Lucky), as a broodmare prospect, while Lane’s End will offer Morning Line (Tiznow) as a stallion prospect as hip 795H.

The four-day Keeneland January sale kicks off Monday, Jan. 7, with each session beginning at 10 a.m. ET. The auction will be streamed live at www.keeneland.com, while TVG coverage will begin Sunday and will continue Monday and Tuesday on TVG2.

At Top of Game, Ortiz Brothers Maintain Family Bond

Wed, 2019-01-02 13:29

By the time 2018 came to a close, Irad Ortiz, Jr. and Jose Ortiz had firmly established themselves atop the nationwide jockey standings, distancing themselves from the pack in the earnings race by millions of dollars. With Irad generating $27.7 million and his younger brother, Jose, ending the year with $26.8 million, the Puerto Rican duo is poised to once again contend for the Eclipse Award for champion rider, to be presented at Gulfstream Park on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 24. On the heels of a breakout 2017 campaign which saw Jose top the jockey standings and bring home his first Eclipse Award, Irad will hope to claim one of his own for the 2018 season. The brothers, who are on-track competitors on a daily basis, sat down with the TDN‘s Christina Bossinakis to discuss how they balance their desire to win with a deeply rooted brotherly love.

TDN: It seems like riding was in your blood since day one. Did you ever have a thought that you wanted to do anything else?

IO: Not really…I was just waiting to turn 16 to get into a jockey school. And my mom said, ‘No, you can’t do that. You’re going to school.’ So they put me in a school…[But] I knew what I wanted to be in my life–I wanted to be a jockey. I was working on my weight early, like at age 15, so I worked every day to try to stay ready when I turned 16.

TDN: And Jose, did you decide to be a rider because of Irad, or did you want to be one anyway?

JO: No, I wanted to be a rider already…If it wasn’t for our dad, we probably wouldn’t know anything about horse racing. But because of him, I knew what I wanted to be. I tried to follow in Irad’s footsteps, but I knew I wanted to go there too. It was a little bit harder for me to keep my weight down because I was a little taller, but I worked it out and here we are.

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TDN: You guys clearly have a lot of brotherly love, but how do you balance that with the desire to win races as competitors on a daily basis? How do you manage the two?

JO: Out there, we have to ride for our owners and trainers–there is a lot of money on the line in the game. So Irad rides for his connections, and I ride for mine. If I have to try to race ride him a little bit, I will. And if he has to race ride me, I understand. As long as you do it with class, it doesn’t matter.

TDN: You both have accomplished so much in your young careers. Do you still have any goals that you’re hoping to accomplish? Are there any achievements that you would like to define your careers?

IO: The Kentucky Derby, and an Eclipse Award, for me. Those are my big goals.

JO: I want to win the Derby and go to Dubai. I haven’t been to Dubai yet. Let’s see if I can go this year.

TDN: Both of you are in the run for the Eclipse Award this year and, Jose, you won it last year. Irad, how would feel if Jose won another one this year?

IO: Great. I mean, that would be good. If he won, I’m okay with that–you know, I’m happy for him. He deserves it, he works so hard. He’s always on the line. He does everything right, he does everything so perfect. You have to follow him if you want to be a nice man, you wanna be a nice person…He’s so perfect sometimes. Nobody’s perfect but, he’s very close, he’s very close to it…I helped him a lot from the beginning, and I want to see him on top, and he’s on top right now.

TDN: How about you, Jose? How would you feel if your brother won his first Eclipse Award?

JO: I’d feel very happy for him, because I know how badly he wants to win it. And if he wins it, he deserves everything. He’s working very hard. I’ve been watching him put a lot of work in this year. He’s going to Parx, he’s working hard, waking up early every day. Even if he doesn’t have to work, he’s out there. I’m here where I am because of him…If he wins, I’ll feel like I have two Eclipse Awards now.

 

Mind Control In Control in the Jerome

Tue, 2019-01-01 16:03

Sent off the 3-2 favorite to get the New Year off on a positive note, Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables’ Mind Control (Stay Thirsty) set a comfortable if pressured pace, took a narrow lead into the stretch and repelled a final-furlong challenge from Maryland invader Our Braintrust (Freud) to win Tuesday’s $150,000 Jerome S. at Aqueduct, good for 10 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.

The bay, a 10-1 upset winner of the GI Hopeful S. at Saratoga last summer, was last seen finishing a distant seventh to likely 2-year-old champion and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg}) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs Nov. 2. Cutting back to a one-turn route for this sophomore debut, Mind Control showed good speed from the gate and was tracked along to his outside by his chief market rival Souper Jackpot (Ghostzapper), narrowly second in the Dec. 8 Smooth Air S. at Gulfstream Park at this trip. That duo was joined to their outer by the slow-starting Gates of Dawn (Arch) as the quarter pole loomed, but Mind Control was always holding those two, then found an additional gear when taken on by Our Braintrust inside the eighth pole.

“I wanted to put him in the race and make sure that I was in a good position where if someone was going crazy, I could just sit off the speed,” said winning jockey John Velazquez. “I broke well and got the position I wanted in the first part of the race. I saw the other horse on the outside [Souper Jackpot], he didn’t want to go, so I got close to him and by the turn we both came in and kind of sat there. Down the lane, I remember from Saratoga he opens up and he waits, so I waited until they came after him to get after him really hard and he responded really well.”

Mind Control is kin to the 2-year-old filly My Gift From Above (Bodemeister) and his dam–a full-sister to NJ-bred stakes winner Ima Jersey Girl–was most recently bred to Mineshaft after missing to Bodemeister in 2018.

JEROME S., $150,900, Aqueduct, 1-1, 3yo, 1m, 1:39.06, gd.
1–MIND CONTROL, 123, c, 3, by Stay Thirsty
1st Dam: Feel That Fire, by Lightnin N Thunder
2nd Dam: Ubetwereven, by French Deputy
3rd Dam: Raysor Lake, by Private Account
O-Red Oak Stable (Brunetti) and Madaket Stables, LLC; B-Red Oak Stable (KY); T-Gregory D. Sacco; J-John R. Velazquez. $82,500. Lifetime Record: GISW, 5-3-1-0, $323,400.
2–Our Braintrust, 120, c, 3, Freud–Caller Trust, by Trust N Luck. ($27,000 RNA Ylg ’17 FTKJUL; $25,000 Ylg ’17 EASOCT). O-Cathal A Lynch & Stanton J Smith; B-Barak Farm (MD); T-Cathal A Lynch. $30,000.
3–Family Biz, 118, r, 3, Fed Biz–I’mclassyandsassy, by Master Command. ($11,000 2yo ’18 OBSAPR). O-Danny J Chen, James Cestaro & Campbell Road Stables; B-Alex & JoAnn Lieblong (KY); T-Edward R Barker. $18,900.
Margins: 1HF, 4, HF. Odds: 1.50, 9.00, 4.20.
Also Ran: Gates of Dawn, Souper Jackpot, Direct Order.
Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Maker Sets Turfway Trainer Titles Record

Tue, 2019-01-01 14:17

Mike Maker tied with Wesley Ward to earn his 21st training title at Turfway Park and took sole possession of the record for most titles at the Florence, Kentucky track. Maker had been tied with Bernie Flint, who last earned a Turfway Park title for the 2004 holiday meet. Maker and Ward ended Turfway’s holiday meet Monday with 10 wins apiece.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey earned a record 15th owner’s title at Turfway with nine winners from 20 starters. Leading jockey honors went to Rodney Prescott with 21 wins.

Ten Best Horses Who Lost Out on Horse of the Year

Tue, 2019-01-01 14:04

There’s some hope for the camp of Accelerate (Lookin At Lucky), but not much. The more you talk to voters and racing fans and experts, the more it becomes clear that Justify (Scat Daddy) will be named the 2018 Horse of the Year. It’s the power of the Triple Crown, and it’s such a big force it appears that even a GI Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and a five-time Grade I winner on the year can’t even put a dent into it.

A little history: The modern day Eclipse Awards were created in 1971. Wikipedia has compiled a list of Horses of the Year going all the way back to 1887. Until the award was unified by the Daily Racing Form, The National Turf Writers Association, and the Thoroughbred Racing Associations (which has been replaced by the NTRA), several groups, including Turf and Sports Digest Magazine named their own champion. That sometimes led to there being more than one Horse of the Year.

Should Accelerate not be named Horse of the Year, trainer John Sadler and the Hronis brothers might want to take some solace in the fact that he would be joining an elite list of great Thoroughbreds who fell short.

Here’s one person’s list of the 10 best horses who were not named Horse of the Year in a year when their racetrack feats were extremely impressive.

1. Omaha (1935): The only Triple Crown winner in history not named Horse of the Year. The Triple Crown may not have meant as much in 1935 as it does today, but the linking of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont had definitely been established by then. In its coverage of the 1935 Belmont, the New York Times alludes to the fact that Omaha’s win meant he won the Triple Crown. Instead, Horse of the Year went to Discovery, who was 11 for 19 on the year and at one point reeled off eight in a row, including a 90-length win in the Detroit Challenge Cup. The pivotal race was the Brooklyn H., where he met Omaha for the only time that year. Not only did he beat him by 12 lengths, he won in a world-record time. That gave him two world records, joining Man o’War as the only horse at the time to hold more than one.

“Omaha was a disappointment to the many who backed him, but it was simply a case of a good 3-year-old not being able to beat good older horses,” the Times reported. “This is a result as old as horse racing and has seldom been reversed.”

2. Seattle Slew (1978): He won five of seven starts, including the GI Woodward and the GI Marlboro Cup H. and he was, well, Seattle Slew. In the GI Marlboro Cup, he beat Affirmed by three lengths. He also finished ahead of him when he was second behind Exceller in the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup, but Affirmed’s race was finished the moment his saddle slipped. Because he was DQ’ed in the Travers, Affirmed won only one race after the Triple Crown and it was the GII Jim Dandy. But the power of the Triple Crown carried Affirmed to Horse of the Year. Seattle Slew was, of course, Horse of the Year in 1977.

3. Native Dancer (1953): Those 1953 voters must have been a tough bunch to satisfy. One loss derailed one of the greatest horses ever. Native Dancer was 21 for 22 during his career. Unfortunately, for him, the one defeat, came in the 1953 Derby when he was beaten by Dark Star by a head. Other than that, he merely won the Gotham, Wood Memorial, Withers, Preakness, Belmont, Dwyer, Arlington Classic, the Travers and the American Derby. At least he was beaten by a deserving horse. The 1953 Horse of the Year was Tom Fool, who ran the table, going 10 for 10. In his last four starts, though, he twice faced only two horses and twice was involved in match races. No betting was allowed on any of those races.

Native Dancer was Horse of the Year in 1952 and 1953.

4. Personal Ensign (1988): You go 7 for 7 on the year and end an historic campaign with a Breeders’ Cup win so riveting that 30 years later many still believe the 1988 GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff was the single best race in the history of the series…and you’re not Horse of the Year? Personal Ensign retired after that Breeders’ Cup with a 13 for 13 record, the first major horse to retire without a loss after a full campaign since Colin in 1908. But much like Accelerate, she came around in the wrong year. The voters went for Alysheba, who son six Grade I races, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He likely would have been Horse of the Year in 1987, the year of his wins in the GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness, if not for losing the Classic by a nose to Ferdinand.

5. Northern Dancer (1964): Well before he became known as one of the greatest sires in history, Northern Dancer was one hell of a horse. After winning the Florida Derby, the Blue Grass, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, he returned home to his native Canada and won the Queen’s Plate. Losing out on the Triple Crown when third in the Belmont clearly cost him, as did the fact that he never ran again after the Queen’s Plate. He was beaten out by Kelso, who won his fifth straight Horse of the Year title that year.

6. Blame (2010): Yes, he only ran five times, but that was par for the course for top horses by 2010. His only loss came in the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup and he became the only horse in history to defeat Zenyatta, when he stuck his head in front at the wire of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It was the only time the two met. But Zenyatta had cult-like status and some may have felt she deserved Horse of the Year after losing to Rachel Alexandra the year before. The end result: Zenyatta was named Horse of the Year.

7. Zenyatta (2009): You can’t do much better than Zenyatta did in 2009. She went 5-for-5 and beat males in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. But there was another super filly out there by the name of Rachel Alexandra. She was also undefeated in 2009 and beat males twice, in the Preakness and GI Woodward. To some, she should have been penalized because she never took on Zenyatta because owner Jess Jackson refused to run her over “plastic” (a.k.a a synthetic surface). But at the end of the day, the voters determined she was the more super of the two super fillies. Zenyatta would have to wait one year for her Horse of the Year title.

8. Slew o’ Gold (1984): Maybe they just should have called this one a dead-heat. A winner of four straight Grade I’s before a narrow defeat in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Classic, Slew o’ Gold was expected to be named Horse of the Year, but lost to sentimental favorite John Henry. Barely lost, that is. Slew o’ Gold won the National Turf Writers Association bloc, while John Henry was the choice among the Daily Racing Form voters. Like the electoral college, total votes don’t matter when it comes to Horse of the Year. You had to win the majority of the votes among at least two of the three entities that voted. The voting among the third, the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, ended in a tie. In a tiebreaker, John Henry won because he had more overall votes. This was John Henry’s 10-year-old year and his last year of racing. He won six of nine starts, including four Grade I’s. He did not participate in the Breeders’ Cup.

9. Spectacular Bid (1979): Buddy Delp called him “the greatest horse to ever look through a bridle,” but voters in 1979 decided he was second best in the Horse of the Year vote. Affirmed won for the second straight year. Obviously, losing the Belmont S. cost Spectacular Bid. So did he his head-to-head loss to Affirmed in the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup. With an undefeated season in 1980, Spectacular Bid was a runaway winner of the Horse-of-the-Year title.

10. Exceller (1978): Seattle Slew wasn’t the only star not to be named Horse of the Year in 1978, a year when the award went to Triple Crown winner Affirmed. In the ’78 Jockey Club Gold Cup, he became the only horse in history to beat two Triple Crown winners in the same race when he defeated Affirmed and Seattle Slew. A Grade I winner on both turf and dirt, he also won the GI Oak Tree Invitational, the GI Sunset H., the GI Hollywood Gold Cup, the GI Hollywood Invitational, the GI San Luis Rey and the GIII Arcadia H. He had a sensational year. But it was the year of Affirmed.

Pedigree Insights: Bright Start for Cairo Prince

Tue, 2019-01-01 13:55

Judging by a list in an old edition of the American Racing Manual, taking the title of leading freshman sire has often been a stepping stone to even greater success. The list features the likes of Bold Ruler, Northern Dancer, Buckpasser, What A Pleasure, Raja Baba, Roberto, Mr. Prospector, Seattle Slew, Alydar, Danzig and Fappiano. But they all took the title more than 30 years ago, when the world of Thoroughbred breeding was a simpler place. Superstardom has arguably awaited fewer of their successors, but there are still some notable names among the freshman title-holders, such as Distorted Humor, Tiznow, Street Cry, Tapit, Scat Daddy, Quality Road and Uncle Mo.

The corollary to this is that many a good stallion HASN’T landed the title, or even come close to doing so. For example, Curlin ranked no higher than ninth in 2012, whereas Ghostzapper was 21st, Indian Charlie 10th, More Than Ready sixth, Pulpit seventh and Kitten’s Joy fifth in their respective years. And don’t forget that some years are much more competitive than others, the prime example being the class of 2008, when the top five featured Tapit, Candy Ride, Medaglia d’Oro and Speightstown.

Only time will establish the strength (or weakness) of the group of newcomers who contested the 2018 title. Only three of them–Will Take Charge, Noble Mission and Verrazano–covered their first mares at fees higher than $20,000, and only three of them–Will Take Charge, Cairo Prince and Fed Biz–achieved a median higher than $60,000 with their first yearlings in 2017.

It is fair to say, then, that few people would have backed Cross Traffic to run out a comfortable winner of the 2018 title, thanks largely to the Grade I successes of his admirable daughter Jaywalk. He had ranked outside the top 10 by average and median at the yearling sales of 2017, a year when his fee had been reduced to $7,500 from its original $12,500. Now, thanks to his team of first-crop black-type winners, Cross Traffic will stand the 2019 season at $25,000, which should give him every chance of building on his early success.

The Spendthrift team must be delighted that, in addition to Cross Traffic, they also stand second-ranked Goldencents. In taking second place, Goldencents ranked one place higher than his sire Into Mischief (third behind Henrythenavigator and Spring At Last in 2012) and he, too, will be standing at career-high fee of $20,000 this year.

Third on the freshman table is Cairo Prince, who arguably made the biggest impact of any of the new stallions at the 2017 yearling sales. Although he covered his first mares at only $10,000, he achieved an average of over $150,000 and a median of $115,000, to finish second in both categories to Will Take Charge, who stood the 2015 season at $30,000.

The reaction to Cairo Prince’s sales success was to increase his fee for a second time, from the $15,000 he had cost in his second and third seasons to $25,000 in 2018, when–as usual–he covered around 148 mares. Although Cairo Prince’s second crop couldn’t match his first-crop’s sales figures, his 2018 yearlings still sold well for a comparatively inexpensive stallion, with colts achieving $450,000, $350,000, $340,000 and $300,000. He is therefore well placed for a bright 2019.

Fortunately for his admirers, Cairo Prince has made a bright enough start to maintain his fee at $25,000 in 2019. In finishing third, he went close to matching his sire Pioneerof The Nile, runner-up to Dunkirk among the freshmen of 2013, and he fared better than his grandsire Empire Maker, who was seventh in 2007. Bodemeister, another of Empire Maker’s sons, was third behind Dialed In and Union Rags in 2016, before coming up with the 2017 GI Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.

The star of Cairo Prince’s first crop has been Cairo Cat, who has won two of his three starts, including the GIII Iroquois S. at Churchill Downs. Cairo Prince’s daughter Pakhet has also proved well above average, contesting the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf after her maiden victory at Belmont and her second in the GII Jessamine S.

Cairo Prince closed the year with another black-type winner when Giza Goddess landed Sunday’s Blue Norther S. at Santa Anita, for her second win in three starts on turf. We have also seen two of Cairo Prince’s recent maiden special weight winners earn ‘TDN Rising Star’ status– Qahira, who impressively defeated more-experienced rivals over six furlongs at Del Mar, and Mihos, who won easing up over six furlongs at Aqueduct. His total of winners now stands at 19, and the chances are that we will be seeing plenty more over the coming months.

Even allowing for the fact that Pioneerof The Nile has enjoyed success on turf with the likes of Grade I winner Midnight Storm and Grade III winners Insta Erma, Cash Control and Levante Lion, I have been a little surprised at Cairo Prince’s early success as a sire of turf runners. In addition to the stakes fillies Pakhet and Giza Goddess, he has been represented by Dark Prince (a winner at Santa Anita), Silent Surprise (a MSW winner at Keeneland), Marquee Prince (an allowance winner at Churchill Downs), Shazier (a MSW winner at Gulfstream Park) and Sexyama (a MSW at Laurel).

This potentially makes Cairo Prince of interest to Europeans, even though he comes from a sire line which has traditionally struggled in Europe, where the turf courses are frequently much softer than their American counterparts. Interestingly, several of Cairo Prince’s turf performers have won on ground described as good or yielding, and it will be interesting to see whether many Europeans are brave enough to take a chance on a stallion who is pretty much an outcross for most European mares.

Eclipse Awards Finalists To Be Revealed Live Jan. 5

Mon, 2018-12-31 15:53

Finalists for the 2018 Eclipse Awards will be revealed live Saturday, Jan. 5 at 11:05 a.m. ET from Gulfstream Park on the track’s website, all racetrack outlets carrying the Gulfstream signal and on XBTV.com. Finalists in 17 equine and human categories will be announced during a 30-minute program hosted by Gulfstream park racing analysts Gabby Gaudet and Jason Blewitt. Winners in all categories, including 2018 Horse of the Year, will be announced at the 48th annual Eclipse Awards, presented by Daily Racing Form, Breeders’ Cup and The Stronach Group Thursday, Jan. 24 at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla., two days prior to the $17 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational race card.

NYTHA Announces Workers’ Comp Premium Drop for 2019

Mon, 2018-12-31 15:45

The New York Jockey Injury Compensation Fund (NYJICF) has released its 2019 Workers’ Compensation Premium Assessment and Formula, and the initial base payment for horsemen stabled at the New York Racing Association tracks will decrease by 17%, according to an announcement from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Monday. The initial base payment this year will be $1,250, down from $1,500 in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This is the first base payment reduction ever for the NYJICF, which provides workers’ compensation insurance for jockeys and exercise riders in New York.

The fee for shippers has also been reduced. For 2019, owners and trainers shipping in to race at NYRA tracks will be charged $125 each per start for their first 10 starts, for a maximum of $1,250 for the year. Last year, the fee was $250 per start for the first six starts, a total of $1,500. One additional change was made to the fee schedule. The flat fee for Saratoga, both during the meet and during the spring and fall training sessions, has been eliminated. Trainers stabled at Saratoga will pay the same $1.60 per stall fee as those stabled at Aqueduct and Belmont Park.

“The NYJICF has been working diligently with the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the New York State Gaming Commission, the New York Racing Association, the Finger Lakes Racing Association and FLHBPA, and our state legislators to find ways to cut the cost of workers’ compensation,” said Joe Appelbaum, president of the NYJICF and NYTHA. “We have also put in place programs to help offset the burden on our owners and trainers. Our job is far from done, but we are trending in the right direction. We believe that our collective efforts will continue to drive down the cost of doing business in New York.”

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