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Updated: 33 min 16 sec ago

TDN Derby Top 12 for Dec. 28

Thu, 2018-12-27 13:23

by T.D. Thornton

We’re now 128 days out from the 145th GI Kentucky Derby, and the pecking order is hazily taking shape. The initial Top 12 rankings are largely based on 2-year-old form, but there’s a speculative, forward-thinking element (read: guesswork) built into the equation, with the goal of projecting how these still-developing horses will blossom over the next four months. Get tied on and enjoy the ride.


1) GAME WINNER (c, Candy Ride {Arg}Indyan Giving, by A.P. Indy)
‘TDN Rising Star’. O-Gary & Mary West. B-Summer Wind Equine (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $110,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: MGISW, 4-4-0-0, $1,496,000.
Last Start: 1st, GI Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile , CD, Nov. 2
Accomplishments Include: 1st, GI American Pharoah S., SA, Sept. 29; 1st, GI Del Mar Futurity, DMR, Sept. 3
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 30.
‘TDN Rising Star’ Game Winner is the undefeated victor of the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and appears to be a lock to earn the divisional championship at the Eclipse Awards. You have to respect those impeccable credentials while also realizing there is active debate as to whether he will turn out to be the best long-range Derby candidate within trainer Bob Baffert’s deeply stocked stable. I assembled this season’s debut Top 12 with him on top only after strongly considering other combinations that involved this week’s 1-2-3 kingpins. This $110,000 KEESEP Candy Ride (Arg) colt bulled his way to an impressive open-length debut win at Del Mar prior to asserting himself in back-to-back, short-field Grade I stakes on the SoCal circuit. Then he roared home with authority as the even-money Juvenile fave despite being bumped at the break and giving up four paths of real estate on both turns. Strongly in his favor is Baffert’s been-there-done-that success in Triple Crown races. But since the advent of the Breeders’ Cup, Juvenile winners are a collective 2-for-34 in the Derby (Nyquist and Street Sense). Game Winner is currently in light training at Santa Anita.

2) SIGNALMAN (c, General Quarters–Trip South, by Trippi)
O-Tommie M. Lewis, David A. Bernsen, LLC & Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek). B-Monticule (KY). T-Kenneth G McPeek. Sales History: $32,000 Ylg ’17 FTKOCT. Lifetime Record: GSW & MGISP, 5-2-2-1, $448,990.
Last Start: 1st, GII Kentucky Jockey Club S., CD, Nov. 24
Accomplishments Include: 3rd, GI Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, CD, Nov. 2; 2nd, GI Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, KEE, Oct. 6
Next Start: Aiming for GII Fountain of Youth S., GP, Mar. 2
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 18.
While Signalman can’t match the four-for-four and three Grade I stakes wins of the only horse ranked above him in this week’s Top 12, he does have an edge in that he’s broadened his foundation beyond a third-place try in the Juvenile by coming back three weeks later to smartly annex the GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. That Nov. 24 neck win resonates as a positive “how he did it” sign of advancement, because this $32,000 FTKOCT General Quarters colt exhibited a high level of comfort while covered up on the inside of a sloppy Churchill Downs surface. He also gets style points for launching a prolonged, confident march five furlongs out that he accentuated with a strong, willing finish, repulsing several potential winning bids before galloping out nicely. Trainer Ken McPeek picked out this relative bargain himself, telling TDN earlier this month that he “put a lot more emphasis on the conformation than the pedigree.” Having accomplished so much at the tail end of his 2-year-old campaign, Signalman is being freshened for the GII Fountain of Youth S. at Gulfstream Park Mar. 2.
3) IMPROBABLE (c, City ZipRare Event, by A.P. Indy)
‘TDN Rising Star’. O-WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd. & Starlight Racing. B-St. George Farm LLC & G. Watts Humphrey Jr. (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $110,000 Wlg ’16 KEENOV; $200,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GISW, 3-3-0-0, $269,520.
Last Start: 1st, GI Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity, LRC, Dec. 8
Accomplishments Include: 1st, Street Sense S., CD, Nov. 2;
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. Caulfield on Improbable. KY Derby Points: 10.
‘TDN Rising Star’ Improbable’s 1-5 favored win in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity marks  him as an aggressive, confident stalker who responds well to rousing while using his energy efficiently. He was hard held to the backstretch (avoiding trouble that affected others on the turn), then picked off dueling pacemakers at will while being driven from the quarter to the eighth pole. He was kept to task while widening by five lengths to the wire, finishing like he had not scraped the bottom of his stamina reserve. Trainer Baffert noted post-win that the three-for-three Improbable “has a long stride like Justify (Scat Daddy). He’s just a smaller version. I’m not saying he’s at Justify’s level yet, but he’s a really good horse.” Baffert has now won the last five Los Al Futurities. The only two of those winners to go on and start in the Kentucky Derby—Dortmund (Big Brown) and Mor Spirit (Eskendereya)—both won Santa Anita’s GIII Robert B. Lewis S. in their next starts.

4) CODE OF HONOR (c, Noble Mission {GB}–Reunited, by Dixie Union)
O/B-W. S. Farish (KY). T-Shug McGaughey. Sales History: $70,000 RNA Ylg ’17 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GISP, 2-1-1-0, $146,750.
Last Start: 2nd, GI Champagne S., BEL, Oct. 6
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 4.
Based on his 14-1 adversity-overcoming second in the GI Champagne S. at Belmont Park (lost footing and pitched forward at break; nice five-wide run off turn) Code of Honor appeared poised to enter the Breeders’ Cup as the “wiseguy” horse for the Juvenile. But he spiked a temperature and scratched the night before the race, then trainer Shug McGuaghey kept him out of a planned next start in the GII Remsen S. because he was not totally satisfied with the energy level of this homebred Noble Mission (GB) colt. Code of Honor is now breezing at Payson Park, with an aim on a 2019 Gulfstream return. A fairly late foal (May 23) out of a Dixie Union mare, Code of Honor won on debut at Saratoga, wiring a six-furlong MSW at 6-1. Based on the disparate running styles of his only two races, it will be interesting to see whether he evolves as a pace presence or a stalker/closer. There are more accomplished stakes winners ranked behind him on this list. But the bet here is that Code of Honor will outperform them in the not-too-distant future.

5) COLISEUM (c, Tapit–Game Face, by Menifee)
‘TDN Rising Star’. O-Godolphin LLC. B-Godolphin (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $31,800.
Last Start: 1st, Maiden Special Weight, DMR, Nov. 17
Next Start: Aiming for GIII Sham S., SA, Jan. 5
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 0.
A horse needs a “Wow!” effort to crack the Derby Top 12 off a maiden win alone, and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Coliseum delivered with a flourish at first asking when unveiled at 1-2 odds in a seven-furlong MSW at Del Mar Nov. 17. Godolphin’s well-meant homebred made all the running with devastating ease, widening under a light hold entering the turn before deftly clicking into a secondary stretch gear—hardly his last—when nudged home by jockey Joe Talamo before being taken in hand 6 3/4 lengths clear of the competition at the wire. Prior to his debut, Baffert told TDN‘s Bill Finley that Coliseum can be a bit of a problem child to train. “He’s a nice horse, but he’s a Tapit and has a lot of typical Tapit issues,” Baffert said. “He can be a head case. In the middle of his works he just wants to take off.”

6) ROADSTER (c, Quality Road–Ghost Dancing, by Silver Ghost)
‘TDN Rising Star’. O-Speedway Stable LLC. B-Stone Farm (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $525,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GISP, 2-1-0-1, $72,000.
Last Start: 3rd, GI Del Mar Futurity, DMR, Sept. 3
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 0.
For a while last summer, Roadster was the “now” juvenile within the potent Baffert barn. He broke his maiden on debut by an easy 4 1/4 lengths at 4-5 odds at Del Mar July 29, then was bet down to 7-10 favoritism in the GI Del Mar Futurity. This $525,000 KEESEP Quality Road colt managed third but never showed any true pop or spark while finishing behind stablemate Game Winner, and it was later reported he had displaced his soft palate and required surgery to correct it. Roadster has been working steadily at Santa Anita since Nov. 28, and he enters 2019 as a 32-1 shot in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

7) INSTAGRAND (c, Into MischiefAssets of War, by Lawyer Ron)
‘TDN Rising Star’. O-OXO Equine LLC. B-Stoneway Farm (KY). T-Jerry Hollendorfer. Sales History: $190,000 Ylg ’17 FTKJUL; $1,200,000 2yo ’18 FTFMAR. Lifetime Record: GSW, 2-2-0-0, $144,000.
Last Start: 1st, GII Best Pal S., DMR, Aug. 11
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 0.
To steal a line from Winston Churchill, ‘TDN Rising Star’ Instagrand debuts on the Top 12 list as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” That’s because this $1.2-million FTFMAR co-sales-topping son of Into Mischief won his first two starts by a combined 20 lengths and figured to be the slam-dunk favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile before owner Larry Best cut short his reportedly healthy 2-year-old campaign with the aim of having a fresher, sturdier sophomore for 2019. Will the unorthodox game plan work? If Instagrand proves to be a major force on the Triple Crown trail, we might expect other owners and trainers to employ similar sit-it-out strategies in the future. If this highly hyped colt doesn’t deliver (or can’t replicate his form at longer distances), questions will abound over whether his aborted early-career arc cost him a shot at the Classics.

8) VEKOMA (c, Candy Ride {Arg}Mona de Momma, by Speightstown)
O-R. A. Hill Stable & Gatsas Stables. B-Alpha Delta Stables, LLC (KY). T-George Weaver. Sales History: $135,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSW, 2-2-0-0, $151,250.
Last Start: 1st GIII Nashua S., AQU, Nov. 4
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 0.
Vekoma shares a name with a roller coaster manufacturer, but this undefeated $135,000 KEESEP Candy Ride (Arg) colt is still climbing his steep, initial upward arc without yet experiencing a dizzying descent. He was a pace-pressing (but slightly green) winner at first asking in a Belmont Park sprint, then pounced to victory again with a stalking attack off the turn (head cocked to the grandstand and on the wrong lead) in the one-turn mile GIII Nashua S. His trainer, George Weaver, told Daily Racing Form that because Vekoma is a May 22 foal, he “still has some maturing to do” and is set to resume training at Palm Beach Downs after a 30-day break. A late January sophomore debut is a possibility.

9) KNICKS GO (c, PaynterKosmo’s Buddy, by Outflanker)
O-KRA Stud Farm. B-Angie Moore (MD). T-Ben Colebrook. Sales History: $40,000 Wlg ’16 KEENOV; $87,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GISW, 6-2-1-1, $672,515.
Last Start: 11th GII Kentucky Jockey Club S., CD, Nov. 24
Accomplishments Include: 1st, GI Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, KEE, Oct. 6; 2nd, GI Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, CD, Nov. 2; 3rd, Listed Arlington Washington Futurity, AP, Sept. 8
Next Start: Possible for GIII Sam F. Davis S., TAM, Feb. 9
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 18.
This $87,000 KEESEP yearling (the first graded stakes winner for Paynter) earned the honor of being a hard-trying overachiever with an improbable bomb of a win at in the GI Breeders’ Futurity S., yet several things not directly related to Knicks Go went right in order for him to pull off that 70-1 wire job (morning line fave scratched due to illness; starting fave got clobbered out of the gate). But certainly more than luck contributed to his next-out, 40-1 second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when he hopped at the start, rushed to take the lead, then held on for as long as he could into deep stretch against the presumptive Eclipse Award winner. Knicks Go then faltered as the fave in the Nov. 24 Kentucky Jockey Club S., but I’m willing to chalk up that blah 11th to a sloppy track and three hard races in an eight-week span. He’s aiming for a Tampa return.

10) MAXIMUS MISCHIEF (c, Into MischiefReina Maria, by Songandaprayer)
‘TDN Rising Star’. O-Cash is King LLC & LC Racing. B-Martha Jane Mullholland (KY). T-Robert E Reid, Jr. Sales History: $165,000 Wlg ’16 KEENOV; $170,000 RNA ’17 FTNAUG; $245,000 RNA 2yo ’18 FTFMAR; $340,000 2yo ’18 FTIMAY. Lifetime Record: GSW, 3-3-0-0, $192,100.
Last Start: 1st GII Remsen S., AQU, Dec. 1
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 10.
Big, strong, speed-centric ‘TDN Rising Star’ Maximus Mischief earned a trip to Florida for the winter by leaping from the Parx allowance sprint ranks to being a nine-furlong graded stakes winner in New York’s final top-level juvenile test of 2018. This $340,000 EASMAY Into Mischief colt (pinhooked for $165,000 then twice RNA’d at $170,000 and $245,000) accomplished his GII Remsen S. win by establishing a prime stalking spot, then dueling a pair of longshot pacemakers into defeat while vigorously shaken up for the stretch run to stay focused. His connections expressed encouragement that ‘Max’ learned how to relax in his two-turn debut while stepping up in class, and his up-close running style fits the traditional speed-friendly profile of Gulfstream Park, where he is likely to next race.
11) AVIE’S FLATTER (c, Flatter–Avie’s Empire, by Empire Maker)
O-Ivan Dalos. B-Tall Oaks Farm (ON). T-Josie Carroll. Lifetime Record: MSW, 4-3-0-0, $251,834.
Last Start: 1st Coronation Futurity, WO, Nov. 18
Accomplishments Include: 1st, Cup and Saucer S., WO, Oct. 7
Next Start: Aiming for GII Tampa Bay Derby, TAM, Mar. 9
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 0.
Avie’s Flatter is a true outlier to be included on anyone’s Top 12 list. But his credentials aren’t that far-fetched. This Flatter homebred is the heavy favorite to win the Sovereign Award for 2-year-old champion colt in Canada, and although he’s unraced on dirt, Avie’s Flatter made it onto my watch list Sep. 16 with a game, much-better-than-it-looks fourth against a deep field in the GI Summer S.—an extremely ambitious assignment right off his maiden score. He then dismantled Canadian-breds on both dirt and Tapeta in a pair of stakes at Woodbine, and will resurface at Tampa Bay Downs later this winter. “I’ll try to go the same route that I did [in 2015] with Ami’s Flatter (Flatter), who came down to Florida and ended up running second in the [GII] Tampa Bay Derby and third in the [GI] Florida Derby,” owner/breeder Ivan Dalos told TDN earlier this month.

12) CAIRO CAT (c, Cairo PrinceLa Belle Cat, by Tale of the Cat)
O-Walking L Thoroughbreds, LLC. B-Clifton Farm, LLC (KY). T-Kenneth G McPeek. Sales History: $130,000 Ylg ’17 FTKJUL. Lifetime Record: GSW, 3-2-0-0, $133,750.
Last Start: 1st GIII Iroquois S., CD, Sept. 15
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 10.
Cairo Cat outran 18-1 odds winning career start number two going seven furlongs at Saratoga, then exceeded expectations again with a 17-1 first-time-Lasix score in the Sep. 15 Iroquois S.  In that 1 1/16 miles Churchill stakes score, he dug in for a rail trip and angled out to nail an aggressively ridden favorite. This $130,000 FTKJUL colt has been unraced since, and is gearing back up for a 2019 campaign at Payson Park. No next-race plans have been confirmed, but his sire, Cairo Prince, was the favored winner of the 2014 GII Holy Bull S. at Gulfstream.

On the Bubble (in alphabetical order)

Bankit (Central Banker): Bulled from last to get second and galloped out past stablemate winner of Springboard Mile S.

Gray Attempt (Graydar): Could stretch out in Jan. 25 Smarty Jones S. off Dec. 22 Sugar Bowl S. wire job.

Long Range Toddy (Take Charge Indy): Boxed and bottled off turn yet prevailed in Springboard Mile.

Network Effect (Mark Valeski): Second in both Remsen and Nashua S. to close out 2018.

Mihos (Cairo Prince): ‘TDN Rising Star’ could be aiming for one-turn-mile Mucho Macho Man S. on Jan. 5.

Mind Control (Stay Thirsty): GI Hopeful winner missed Keeneland stakes start because of fever; training for comeback in Jan. 1 Jerome S.

Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man): ‘TDN Rising Star’ likely to ship our of SA for next stakes start, per Baffert via DRF.

War of Will (War Front): Nice turf stakes form while still a maiden, then won in Churchill Downs slop. Aiming for GIII LeComte S.


Street Sense’s McKinzie Much Too Good in Malibu

Wed, 2018-12-26 19:32

Firming into 6-5 favoritism in what appeared a salty renewal of the GI Malibu S. on opening day of the Santa Anita winter/spring meeting, TDN Rising Star‘ McKinzie (Street Sense) had to do it tough from his awkward draw in gate 13, but his class kicked in three-sixteenths of a mile from home and the $170,000 Keeneland September yearling–named in honor of the late Los Alamitos executive Brad McKinzie–overwhelmed his 13 rivals to score by 4 3/4 very convincing lengths. Identity Politics (Into Mischief) rallied from near the back of the pack for second, surviving an objection from the connections of fourth finisher Axelrod (Warrior’s Reward). Fellow East Coast raider Still Having Fun (Old Fashioned), this year’s GII Woody Stephens S. upsetter, was third. It was the third win in the Malibu for trainer Bob Baffert, who sent out The Factor (War Front) to score in 2011 and Mike Pegram’s co-owned Shakin It Up (Midnight Lute) in 2013.

McKinzie looked to bobble slightly a few strides after the break and though he had shown plenty of early zip in amassing four wins from his first six trips to the post, the bay was outrun in the early stages and settled well back in the field while well out into the racetrack. Calexman (Midshipman) did the heavy lifting early on, tracked closely by McKinzie’s less-heralded stablemates Nero (Pioneerof the Nile) and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Ax Man (Misremembered), as Still Having Fun landed just behind the speed. Still worse than midfield and consigned to a wide run around the turn, McKinzie traveled on the bridle for Mike Smith and was cut loose off the home corner, with Calexman to catch. Shaken up under hands-and-heels riding passing the eighth pole, McKinzie inhaled those ahead of him in a matter of strides and galloped home strongly for a third top-level success despite the ground loss. Identity Politics came out abruptly in upper stretch under a sharp left-handed stick from Irad Ortiz, Jr., bumping soundly with Axelrod and causing the comebacking Solomini (Curlin) to take evasive action. Despite Axelrod missing second by a half-length and third by an even slimmer margin, stewards elected to take no action.

McKinzie broke his maiden over course and distance at first asking last October, earning ‘Rising Star’ status, then was put up to first via a much-maligned disqualification of Solomini in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity. The facile winner of the GIII Sham S., McKinzie was placed behind Bolt d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro) in the GII San Felipe S. in yet another controversial ruling Mar. 10. A hind-leg injury put pay to a trip down the Triple Crown trail and McKinzie resumed with a defeat of Axelrod in the Sept. 22 GI Pennsylvania Derby, but he faded tamely to finish a distant 12th after showing some early pace in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3.

Pedigree Notes:

Winner of the 2004 GII Darley Alcibiades S., second to Sweet Catomine (Storm Cat) in that year’s GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and runner-up in the 2005 GI Ashland S., Runway Model was covered by Storm Cat in her first year at stud and was scooped up by Summer Wind Farm for $2.7 million at the 2006 Keeneland November Sale. McKinzie is easily the best of five winners from eight to race for Runway Model, herself a daughter of the SW Ticket To Houston (Houston), who was also responsible for SW & GSP Mambo Train (Kingmambo), GSP Elena Strikes (Smart Strike) and SP Texas Kitty (Forest Wildcat), dam of GSW Saham (Lemon Drop Kid). McKinzie’s 2-year-old half-brother Smart Alchemy (Super Saver) was sixth on his Japanese debut Dec. 22 and the mare is represented by a yearling Liam’s Map filly. Runway Model was most recently bred to Street Sense.

Wednesday, Santa Anita
MALIBU S.-GI, $303,105, Santa Anita, 12-26, 3yo, 7f, 1:22.48, ft.
1–MCKINZIE, 124, c, 3, by Street Sense
1st Dam: Runway Model (MGSW & GISP, $725,598), by Petionville
2nd Dam: Ticket to Houston, by Houston
3rd Dam: Stave, by Navajo
TDN Rising Star($170,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP). O-Karl Watson,
Michael E. Pegram & Paul Weitman; B-Summer Wind Farm
(KY); T-Bob Baffert; J-Mike E. Smith. $180,000. Lifetime
Record: 7-5-1-0, $1,086,000. Werk Nick Rating: A.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Identity Politics, 120, c, 3, Into Mischief–Brianna Rose, by
Distorted Humor. ($115,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP; $350,000 2yo ’17
OBSMAR). O-Klaravich Stables, Inc.; B-Siena Farms LLC (KY);
T-Chad C. Brown. $60,000.
3–Still Having Fun, 122, c, 3, Old Fashioned–Casual Kiss, by
Dehere. ($12,000 Ylg ’16 EASOCT). O-Gary Barber, Wachtel
Stable & Terp Racing LLC; B-Mr. & Mrs. Charles McGinnes &
Tim Keefe (MD); T-Timothy L. Keefe. $36,000.
Margins: 4 3/4, HD, NK. Odds: 1.20, 13.90, 45.70.
Also Ran: Axelrod, Bobby’s Wicked One, Calexman, Nero, Kanthaka, Solomini, Majestic Dunhill, Copper Bullet, Ax Man, Greyvitos, Seven Trumpets. Scratched: Super Sol, Cool Bobby.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Son of Twirling Candy Provides Hronis, Sadler With Another ‘Gift’

Wed, 2018-12-26 18:54

Battle of Midway and Dabster looked set to renew the rivalry that had them separated by just a neck in the Nov. 25 GIII Native Diver S., but it was newcomer Gift Box who stole the show in the GII San Antonio S. at Santa Anita Wednesday. The gray, making his first start for Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler off a nine-month layoff, broke alertly but settled off the pace just behind the two favorites who were shadowing pacesetting longshot Pitino (Union Rags). Battle of Midway and Dabster moved in tandem to overtake the pacesetter leaving the backstretch and Gift Box followed in their wake, ranging up three wide to challenge for the lead entering the home stretch. Gift Box forged to the lead at midstretch despite drifting out and strode home a half-length winner.

“Hopefully this horse will be in the handicap division this year and we’re not opposed to going to Dubai with him,” said winning trainer John Sadler, who also trained the colt’s sire, 2010 GI Malibu S. victor Twirling Candy (Candy Ride {Arg}).

“He’s close to my heart,” Sadler continued. “He’s from the first crop of Twirling Candy, so I’ve been watching him for a couple of years. He’s trained really well for this race and he’s had a bunch of bullets. He ran like he trained.”

Winning owner Kosta Hronis admitted he was optimistic about Gift Box’s first West Coast start.

“I was expecting big things today because John told me he had a ‘gift box’ for me, for Christmas,” Hronis said. “John was pointing for this all along, so this was always the target. John knew what he had and he was really happy when he got him. He’s been working well and he loves it here. Sadler is doing his magic again.”

Gift Box, purchased by W.S. Farish for $135,000 as a weanling at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton November sale, was third behind Mohaymen (Tapit) in the 2015 GII Remsen S. and was second in the 2016 Curlin S. before finishing fourth behind Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) in the GI Travers S. Second in four straight New York optional-claimers last fall and winter, he was an 8 3/4-length winner at Aqueduct Mar. 24 in his final outing for Farish and trainer Chad Brown. He was entered and withdrawn from the Keeneland November sale before resurfacing on the West Coast.

“I was following him before the sale happened,” Sadler said. “He went back to the farm and the previous owners indicated that they’d like to move him along, so I went back there before the September yearling sale and took a look at him, and liked him. I know he can run, he’s had some good speed figures. We took a shot and here we are.”

Pedigree Notes:

Special Me has proved more than special for Machmer Hall, which purchased the mare for $6,000 as a 3-year-old at the 2009 Keeneland January sale. The mare’s second foal is multiple graded stakes winner Stonetastic (Mizzen Mast). Her weanling filly by Medaglia d’Oro sold to Larry Best’s OXO Equine for $500,000 at last month’s Fasig-Tipton November sale. The mare’s yearling filly by Honor Code sold to Tracy Farmer for $260,000 at this year’s Keeneland September sale. At last year’s September sale, her Speightstown filly sold to Shadwell for $550,000. Special Me, a half-sister to G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen S. winner Our New Recruit (Alphabet Soup), was bred to Into Mischief this year.

Gift Box is the fifth graded stakes winner for Twirling Candy, who has also been represented by 2018 Grade I winner Finley’sluckycharm. Hronis Racing has already enjoyed success with a daughter of the Lane’s End stallion, having raced multiple stakes winner Uptown Twirl, a half-sister to champion Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile), before selling the filly for $1.075 million at the 2016 Keeneland November sale.

Wednesday, Santa Anita
SAN ANTONIO S.-GII, $301,380, Santa Anita, 12-26, 3yo/up,
1 1/16m, 1:43.88, ft.
1–GIFT BOX, 122, h, 5, by Twirling Candy
                1st Dam: Special Me, by Unbridled’s Song
                2nd Dam: Delta Danielle, by Lord Avie
                3rd Dam: Domasco Danielle, by Same Direction
   WIN. ($135,000 Wlg ’13 FTKNOV). O-Hronis Racing LLC;
B-Machmer Hall, Carrie & Craig Brogden (KY); T-John W.
Sadler; J-Joel Rosario. $180,000. Lifetime Record: 14-4-5-2,
$524,160. *1/2 to Stonetastic (Mizzen Mast), MGSW & GISP,
$856.062. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for
   eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Battle of Midway, 124, c, 4, Smart Strike–Rigoletta, by
Concerto. ‘TDN Rising Star’ ($410,000 Ylg ’15 FTSAUG). O-Don
Alberto Stable & WinStar Farm LLC; B-Thor-Bred Stables, LLC
(KY); T-Jerry Hollendorfer. $60,000.
3–Dabster, 122, c, 4, Curlin–On a Roll, by A.P. Indy. ($430,000
Ylg ’15 KEESEP; $1,000,000 2yo ’16 FTFMAR). O-Sheikh
Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum; B-G. Watts Humphrey Jr.,
Susan Keller, Victoria Oliver & G. Watts Humphrey III (KY);
T-Bob Baffert. $36,000.
Margins: HF, 3/4, 3HF. Odds: 6.50, 1.50, 1.90.
Also Ran: Beach View, Sonneteer, Air Strike, Yulong Warrior, Tatters to Riches, Pitino. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.



Dan Kenny, Bloodstock Agent and Broadcaster, Dies

Wed, 2018-12-26 18:37

Dan Kenny, a Kentucky-based bloodstock agent also known for his work as a television commentator on racing broadcasts, died Christmas Day in Atlanta after battling Lewy body dementia.

Tony Lacy, the sales and bloodstock consultant for Four Star Sales, where Kenny had been a partner, confirmed the death via phone on Wednesday. He said he believed Kenny was 73.

“He handled his illness very bravely. Dan was an inspiration to us all. Not only was he a mentor to a lot of people, but he was just an all-around great person,” Lacy said.

Kenny had moved into an assisted living center about a year ago, and recently had to be switched to hospice care because of the progression of his illness, Lacy said.

“He was with his family–his son and his brother live down there. It wasn’t unexpected, but obviously we’re sad to see him go,” Lacy said.

“To be quite Frank, Dan was a good horseman, but an even better person,” Lacy said. “And I think it’s a true testament to anybody’s character to be remembered that way. Dan lived life to the fullest. He never missed an opportunity to experience something that was worthwhile. To him, a stranger was a friend he hadn’t met yet.”

According to his Four Star Sales biography, Kenny was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and began his bloodstock work in 1972 after first embarking upon a career as a journalist. He honed his Thoroughbred experience in Canada and California before establishing his own farm in Kentucky in 1993, advising clients through the firm Dan Kenny Bloodstock.

Outside of the auction scene, broodmares and matings were Kenny’s specialty, and his bio noted that he was most proud of having purchased In Neon, the eventual 1998 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, for longtime client John Franks. Kenny was also known for selecting the future dam of Eclipse Award winner Chilukki, the champion 2-year-old filly of 1999.

Kenny was also involved in the Thoroughbred industry as an auction announcer, bloodstock appraiser, sales consignor, horse owner, and broadcast commentator with NBC, ESPN and CBC. He had served as a director of the Kentucky Equine Education Project and as chairman for the Oral History Committee at the University of Kentucky.

“He loved to travel, he loved the industry, he loved the sport,” Lacy said. “He was always in the press box at various racetracks, and if there was a microphone or a camera, he was always in front of it. Dan was very knowledgeable, very shrewd, a great handicapper. He had a true, true passion for the sport.

“He loved the characters that were involved, at all levels,” Lacy summed up. “He was a person who could speak to a Hollywood celebrity, and be just as comfortable chatting with a hotwalker in the barn. I’ve never met anybody who didn’t like him, and I think the way he lived his life was an example to all of us.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.


Smiling Tiger Filly Caps Cal-Bred Exacta in La Brea

Wed, 2018-12-26 17:39

Off the board just once in 12 previous tries on the main track, Dare To Dream Stable’s Spiced Perfection (Smiling Tiger) joined the likes of Alphabet Kisses (Alphabet Soup, 2004) and Teddy’s Promise (Salt Lake, 2011) as fillies bred in the state of California to win the opening-day co-featured GI La Brea S. at Santa Anita.

Advantageously drawn widest in a field reduced to eight by the early scratching of Mo See Cal (Uncle Mo), Spiced Perfection landed in about fifth spot early on as odds-on and previously undefeated Dream Tree (Uncle Mo) strode forward to take a narrow advantage from Happy Like a Fool (Distorted Humor) to her inner and fellow Cal-bred Hot Autumn (Tiz Wonderful) to her outside. Committed to an overland run around the turn, Spiced Perfection had the leading trio in the crosshairs, a group which now included Emboldened (Elusive Quality)–who made a bold early bid up the rail entering the turn–but did not include Dream Tree, who was already a beaten rival three furlongs from the wire. Roused four deep into the stretch, Spiced Perfection descended on the leaders with an eighth of a mile to travel and edged clear in the final 50 yards. Hot Autumn stayed on well for second, while Dream Tree was effectively eased through the final three-sixteenths.

The victory was especially sweet for Spiced Perfection’s connections, who had reportedly concluded a deal to sell the winner for $500,000 before the interested party backed out, according to winning trainer Brian Koriner.

“They made the offer before they ever looked at her and then took back the offer,” Koriner said. “It was a done deal and they backed out. So it was good to see her win after somebody said ‘no we don’t want her.'”

Having faced state-bred restricted company for the bulk of her career, Spiced Perfection was the narrow winner of this track’s Evening Jewel S. in April and posted her first open victory in a Del Mar allowance Aug. 24. A good third in the Sept. 29 Unzip Me S. down the hillside turf course, she returned to Cal-bred competition for an easy success over a pair of next-out allowance winners in Del Mar’s Betty Grable S. going this specialist trip Nov. 11.

Pedigree Notes:

Spiced Perfection is one of five black-type winners and the first at the graded level for her California-based stallion, a dual Grade I winner over sprint trips. Her year-younger full-brother Cruel Intention was the recent winner of the Golden State Juvenile S. for the partnership of Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing LLC, LNJ Foxwoods and Nexus Racing Club. The winner’s dam was purchased in foal to champion Acclamation for $7,500 at the 2014 Barretts January Sale.

Wednesday, Santa Anita
LA BREA S.-GI, $301,035, Santa Anita, 12-26, 3yo, f, 7f, 1:23.54, ft.
1–SPICED PERFECTION, 120, f, 3, by Smiling Tiger
                1st Dam: Perfect Feat, by Pleasantly Perfect
                2nd Dam: Bold Feat, by Capote
                3rd Dam: Afleet Francais, by Afleet
BAROCT; $50,000 2yo ’17 BARMAR). O-Dare To Dream Stable
LLC (Michael Faber); B-Premier Thoroughbreds LLC (CA);
T-Brian J. Koriner; J-Flavien Prat. $180,000. Lifetime Record:
14-6-4-2, $622,405. *Full to Cruel Intention, SW, $140,000.
Click for eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick Rating: B.
2–Hot Autumn, 120, f, 3, by Tiz Wonderful
                1st Dam: Shesoprovocative, by Orientate
                2nd Dam: Wildcat Orchid, by Pirate’s Bounty
                3rd Dam: Desert Orchid, by Saros (GB)
($11,000 Ylg ’16 BARJAN; $12,000 3yo ’18 BARJAN). O-Clarke
Cooper Family Trust and Ian Kruljac; B-H & E Ranch (CA);
T-Ian Kruljac. $60,000.
3–Emboldened, 120, f, 3, by Elusive Quality
                1st Dam: Al Andaleeb, by Bernardini
                2nd Dam: Ajina, by Strawberry Road (Aus)
                3rd Dam: Winglet, by Alydar
O/B-Godolphin LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert. $36,000.
Margins: 1 1/4, HD, 1 3/4. Odds: 5.40, 33.00, 10.00.
Also Ran: Happy Like a Fool, Heavenhasmynikki, Kelly’s Humor, Cathedral Reader, Dream Tree. Scratched: Mo See Cal.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


Kentucky Sires 2019 Part IV: First Runners

Wed, 2018-12-26 17:17

So here we are, into a fourth intake of stallions, and we still don’t have even a bullet breeze to show whether or not they can produce stock that actually run. But at least the group we consider today is finally on the brink of testing the water, with their first yearlings now broken and preparing to launch on the track as juveniles of 2019.

Unfortunately for some, the lack of meaningful evidence to this point means that impetuous breeders have already over-reacted to the few straws in the wind. Fees and books are beginning to slide. A stallion’s only chance to protect his reputation has come at the weanling and especially yearling sales–and many breeders will already have fled, knowing that future crops will be judged not according to market whims, but by his stock’s deeds on the track.

It’s hard to feel sorry for those marketed as commercial prospects, if they already find themselves going out of fashion. For it was security from exposure on the track that first drove business their way–and breeders of nervous disposition have meanwhile been offered three fresh cycles of new sires.

The end user, in contrast, is getting better and better value. And, of course, even commercial breeders can strike gold by holding their nerve now. By the time you sell a yearling conceived this coming spring, these sires will have put three previous books into play. In other words, it won’t just be those producing precocious 2-year-olds who will have had a chance to show what they can do.

After all, it’s hardly as though the market has established an unerring sixth sense for the sires that are going to work. Year after year, the table of yearling sale averages is predictably dominated by the sires who retired at the highest fees. There will only be the odd one that slips or climbs markedly out of order, and even these bring no guarantee, one way or the other.

We all know that many of the megasires, like Tapit (Pulpit) and War Front (Danzig), suffered the customary cooling in fee and demand until put in lights by their own flesh and blood on the track. The stallions eligible to sire a good horse are seldom identified through their debut at the yearling sales.

In this latest group to endure trial by sales fire, then, we unsurprisingly find the top four averages achieved by stallions who respectively retired at the top, second, equal-fourth and equal-fourth fees of their intake. (They had filled the same slots, naturally from a smaller sample, in the table of foal averages the previous year.)

Now as it happens they do look a legitimately strong group. But all of them, even the first Triple Crown winner in more than a generation, must take a deep breath now that the moment of truth approaches.

Sure enough, having set out at $200,000 and been listed as “private” last year, AMERICAN PHAROAH (Pioneerof the Nile) courts his fourth book of mares at $110,000–despite having proved able to make even his giddy opening fee stand up at the yearling sales.

With the experienced Coolmore team putting their shoulders reliably to the wheel, he sold 67 out of 85 yearlings at an average of $449,389, including half a dozen at seven figures. One way or another, it’s quite an achievement to keep up his end of the bargain so well that after covering 208 and 214 mares in his first two years, he managed to hold together 182 this time round. Throw in his Australian foals, and he already represents untold millions of investment.

Perhaps the best thing that has happened for him this year is the emergence of his young half-sister Chasing Yesterday (Tapit), who now matches him as a juvenile Grade I winner. Another sibling had already been placed at that level, again at two, while their dam is a half-sister to two GSWs. So, it’s all working somehow, which warms the cockles for those of us who like to see some invigorating diversity along the bottom line: first three dams by Yankee Gentleman, Ecliptical and Tri Jet. As previously noted in this series, there have always been stellar Thoroughbreds who challenge us to think more deeply about the genetic threads they entwine.

TDN Rising Star‘ HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy), in contrast, could hardly have brought a more aristocratic family tree back to Lane’s End. From the last crop of his sire, he’s out of a Storm Cat grand-daughter of Serena’s Song (Rahy), the 11-time Grade I winner whose own date with Storm Cat produced Group 1 winner Sophisticat. It is a family brimming with GSWs and Honor Code played his full part, nosing out Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile) in the GII Remsen and regrouping, after largely missing out at three, to win Grade Is in the Met Mile and Whitney with Beyers of 112 and 113, respectively.

Many of his first yearlings bore an eerie stamp of Honor Code’s dark, glossy glamour and 61 of them changed hands, from 77 offered, at $220,303–with a significantly consistent median of $200,000. These numbers are well able to sustain him at his starting fee of $40,000, bearing in mind the resilience of his book: 154 mates this year, after 144 and 153 in his first two seasons.

His buddy TDN Rising Star‘ LIAM’S MAP (Unbridled’s Song) has fared every bit as well off a $25,000 start-up. He sold 64 out of 80 yearlings at $162,293, with a $150,000 median, again underlining the consistency in his stock. Great work from Lane’s End with these two, then, albeit they have given Liam’s Map a precautionary trim to $20,000 after his book dwindled to 114 this year from 148 and then 157. That’s pretty tempting when you recall the way Liam’s Map carried his speed for 114 Beyers in both his Grade Is, the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the Woodward S., while only Honor Code himself could run him down in the Whitney.

Though a late starter on the track, Liam’s Map is a half-brother to a precocious achiever in Not This Time (Giant’s Causeway)–whose own stud credentials got him on the value podium in the previous instalment of this series. As noted in connection with Not This Time, this is a bottom line that soon touches greatness: a third dam, for instance, by Damascus out of the daughter of Secretariat and Dr Fager’s half-sister Ta Wee!

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Not This Time’s late sire has another potential heir in TDN Rising Star‘ CARPE DIEM (Giant’s Causeway), whose fee at WinStar is held at $25,000 after he weighed in fourth in the yearling averages with 73 of 94 selling at $134,704. He burned briefly, but brightly on the track, disappearing after finishing down the field in the Kentucky Derby, but an impressive Grade I winner at both two (second start, by over six lengths) and three, besides chasing home Texas Red (Afleet Alex) in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

At $1.6 million, Carpe Diem was his great sire’s most expensive yearling and duly proceeded to become his premier American earner, besides being his only Grade I winner on dirt. That yearling tag reflected not only his physique, but also a page that shows him to be a half-brother to a fellow GI Breeders’ Futurity S. winner in J.B.’s Thunder (Thunder Gulch) and dual Grade II winner Farrell (Malibu Moon) as well as two other GSP siblings. There are some pretty quirky names along the bottom line, but we’ve already observed how that can spice up a pedigree. His book held up pretty well this year–133 partners, after 162 and then 144 in his first two years–and it’s easy to envisage some early firecrackers on the track to keep the door revolving.

At number five in the sales table, punching splendidly above weight off $15,000 at Hill ‘n’ Dale, take a bow TDN Rising Star‘ BAYERN (Offlee Wild). An average of $107,634 for 52 sold, out of 64, represents a nine-fold yield on his fee–highlighted by a $600,000 filly. Bayern covered 139 mares in his first year, followed by books of 105 and 106. Turns out that these latter are ahead of the game.

Had he not persevered for an unproductive campaign at four, nor had such an offbeat sire, Bayern could have retired at twice the fee or more. Once he got rolling at three, he piled it on from the front to win the GII Woody Stephens S. by 7 1/2 lengths (in 1:20.75) and the GI Haskell by 7 1/4 lengths, before regrouping after bombing in the Travers to take the GII Pennsylvania Derby by 5 3/4 lengths, and finally held out to break two minutes for the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Offlee Wild made a promising start at stud, champion freshman sire of a champion juvenile filly, but failed to consolidate and was dispatched to Turkey the year Bayern was making hay. But the bottom line certainly shores things up: Bayern’s second dam is Grade II turf winner Aqualegia (Alydar), daughter of blue hen Courtly Dee (Never Bend); sister of champion juvenile filly Althea; and mother of Bertolini (Danzig), runner-up in three Group 1 sprints in England. Though what is especially fun about this pedigree is how quickly it spans the decades: Bayern’s fourth dam is by War Admiral!

The way Bayern carried his seven-furlong speed is exactly what unites the commercial breeder with the one trying to breed a Derby horse. And with that bottom line, plus a sire and damsire (Thunder Gulch) who excelled at Classic distances, you really can’t put a limit on what you might get for a $15,000 cover. A no-brainer for the value podium.

Next in the sale yields is a stallion who’s finding the going rather stickier in TDN Rising Star‘ TONALIST (Tapit). Lane’s End have done so well with the other pair in this intake–who also, as it happens, had the measure of Tonalist when relegating him to third in the GI Whitney S.–but quickly repented of advertising this four-time Grade I winner at $40,000. Consecutive cuts to $30,000 and $20,000 enabled him to stabilise his book impressively, at 124 after covering 138 and 115 mares in his first two seasons, but he now shrinks to $15,000.

Perhaps the drastic correction to his fee infected the psychology of the market, where 41 of 61 yearlings found a home at $103,036. (Remember that his first weanlings had actually been processed at a far better clearance rate than those of Honor Code, for instance). But his latest fee actually looks very fair value for an exemplary Thoroughbred whose stock, after all, has yet to be given a hearing on the track.

Because Tonalist packages together much that a far-sighted breeder might want to replicate, as a Belmont winner who rounded off with a Grade I win at a mile, in the meantime retaining the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup at the intermediate distance. You could set your watch by his 11 triple-digit Beyers, and he backs all this up with a spectacular bottom line: his dam is a half-sister to the mothers of Horse of the Year Havre de Grace (Saint Liam) and dual Grade I winner Riskaverse (Dynaformer), out of a half-sister to champion Plugged Nickle (Key to the Mint). The next dam Toll Booth was not only Broodmare of the Year, but also a half-sister to Gay Missile, ancestress of A.P. Indy among many other high achievers on and off the track.

PALACE MALICE (Curlin) had a similar career, winning the Belmont before dropping back to win a Grade I mile–the Met, no less–at four and racking up eight consecutive Beyers in three figures. He also joins Tonalist this year at $15,000, from an opening fee at Three Chimneys of $20,000, having sold 59 of 84 yearlings at $74,644. From the first crop of his sire, he could not reward connections for keeping him in training at five, but similar perseverance may yet pay off for breeders. It must be said that his book has dropped pretty steeply, down to 65 this year, but he will have a chance with a first crop of 158 covers.

Splitting Tonalist and Palace Malice in seventh in the sales averages is LEA (First Samurai), a highly creditable achievement for one who started at $12,500. He’s an interesting case. Though his weanlings were very well received, he had meanwhile mustered only 46 mares (down from 100) for his second book so Claiborne threw down the gauntlet with a cut to $7,500.

A characteristically smart move: he received 125 guests this time round, and then sold 41 of 52 yearlings at $87,200. Admittedly that’s more than double his median, but the vendors of a $650,000 colt won’t be bothered about that. Out of a Galileo (Ire) half-sister to three Group winners on turf, Lea nonetheless won the GI Donn H. on dirt and chased home Liam’s Map in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Only caught late when switched back onto the lawn for the GI Woodbine Mile, Lea was as versatile as he was hardy (better than ever in his fourth season on the track). By an under-rated sire, he looks a very solid wager at these odds.

No stallion in their intake put more yearlings into the ring than the one who narrowly denied Lea in his defence of the Donn,TDN Rising Star‘ CONSTITUTION (Tapit) moving on 73 out of 98 at $71,424. Having hitherto stood at $25,000, he gets a businesslike cut to $15,000 from WinStar after a typical third-season slide, from books of 172 and 143 to 110. His Donn performance got a 111 Beyer, he already had a GI Florida Derby to his name, and his dam–also responsible for a Group 2-winning juvenile in England–is a Distorted Humor half-sister to Grade I Forego S. winner Emcee (Unbridled’s Song).

The top 10 on the sales chart is completed by FAST ANNA (Medaglia d’Oro), whose 31 sales (from 42 in the ring) worked out at $55,919-good work off his $7,500 start-up at Three Chimneys. As with Lea, that’s quite a lot higher than his median, but again there was one particularly happy customer, who sold a $400,000 colt.

Though unraced at two, he proved full of natural speed when blitzing his first two races and was then only cut down late in no less a race than the GI King’s Bishop S. That proved to be as good as it would get, but that was plenty good enough for 120 mares in his first season. He covered half as many this year, but his performance at the sales may encourage breeders to have a second look at his pedigree.

Obviously his own career reiterates the amazing diversity funnelled through his sire and grandsire, but his family is classy and connects him to another major conduit of that grandsire’s legacy–his second dam being a half-sister to none other than Kitten’s Joy (El Prado {Ire}). And Fast Anna owes his peculiar name, of course, to his dam Dreaming Of Anna, champion 2-year-old filly and a sister to a fast horse in dual GII winner Lewis Michael (Rahy).

Kitten’s Joy, incidentally, is damsire of a stallion that appealed strongly this time last year, after a very warm reception for his weanlings. SUMMER FRONT (War Front)’s yearling sales went well enough–48 of 68 sold at $52,645–for Airdrie to hold him at $10,000. He’s another of those whose average doubles his median, but again that reflects a couple of home-run paydays, for instance a colt for $325,000 and filly for $275,000.

He’s a physical knockout: War Front was not yet War Front, remember, when he changed hands for $475,000 as a second- crop yearling. And he underwrote his class with a fifth Grade I podium at the age of six, having held his form every season from two onwards (GSW at three, four and five). He’s a half-brother to one Grade I winner in Laragh (Tapit) out of a half-sister to another in Siphonic (Siphon {Brz}), and managed a third three-figure book after starting out with 137 mares.

Perhaps the most remarkable set of covering statistics has been assembled by TAPITURE (Tapit) at Darby Dan. Having started off with 176 partners at $7,500, he covered 165 last year and this time round maintained an industrial output of no fewer than 184. Transactions were also brisk at the sales, 67 yearlings processed out of 88 at $50,219.

A multiple GSW who also chased home Goldencents (Into Mischief) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, he does have a pretty plain page–first graded success appears only under the fourth dam–albeit he has two stakes-placed brothers. Actually his damsire Olympio (Naskra), if hardly a potent influence, is a quietly effective broodmare sire: daughters have produced elite winners in France, Japan and the U.S.

Another son of Tapit hoping to contest what is becoming a pretty competitive legacy is RACE DAY, who started at Spendthrift off $7,000 and has had a small trim to $6,000 after 38 of 52 yearlings averaged $32,263. His books have proved less resilient than those of Tapiture, down from 155 to 96 and 82, but he is a triple GSW with a bunch of big times to his name; and he’s out of a half-sister to GI Kentucky Oaks winner Lite Light (Majestic Light).

On the face of it COMPETITIVE EDGE (Super Saver) took a pretty thin page to Ashford, albeit his third dam produced a GII Blue Grass S. winner. But the next dam Anjelicco (Angle Light) produced several elite performers or producers, and there was no denying the natural speed manifested by Competitive Edge as a juvenile at Saratoga: a 10-length maiden winner early in the meet, and then a 5 3/4-length success in the GI Hopeful S. The world appeared to be at his feet when he resumed the following spring with two more daylight scores, but he lost his way terminally in only three more starts.

Predictably there was plenty of commercial demand for that precocious speed, and he covered 160 mares at $12,500 in his first season, and moved on 62 of 80 yearlings at $48,252. But he will need help from that big initial crop if he is to regroup, after two troubled years since, at $7,500.

COMMISSIONER (A.P. Indy), nailed on the line by Tonalist in the Belmont, later won two Grade IIIs and a Grade II to earn as many as 154 partners for his first season at WinStar, at $7,500. His two subsequent books measured 119 and 92, but his GSP dam is by a model broodmare sire in Touch Gold and has also produced GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up Laugh Track (Distorted Humor).

Besides being one of his sire’s last sons to retire to stud, Commissioner has a lot of senatorial names up-and-down his family tree: notably that of Buckpasser, who recurs as damsire of both Touch Gold and A.P. Indy’s dam Weekend Surprise (Secretariat). That gives a legitimate foundation for his 55 yearlings sold, out of 72, at $44,534. In fact a bottom line tracing to the venerable Rough Shod II clinches him a place on the value podium.

Another venerable sire, though one sadly departed, also makes PALACE (City Zip) of interest. He was very fairly priced indeed by Spendthrift, at $6,000, given that he was the hard-knocking winner of two Grade I dashes at Saratoga as resonant as the Forego S. and the Vanderbilt H. Much less accomplished racehorses in the intake nonetheless benefited from bigger opening books than 134 and 93, so it’s good to see his third book rallying to 116 after a $170,000 filly crowned 39 yearlings sales (of 52) at $41,467. His is admittedly not the deepest page you’ll ever see, but his dam is a half-sister to a Grade II winner out of a Grade II-placed mare.

The same farm found a staggering 190 escorts for the opening book of WICKED STRONG (Hard Spun) at $10,000–exceeded nationally only by Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie), Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday), American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) and Kitten’s Joy (El Prado). The inundation did not pay off at the sales, 67 of 88 moved on for an average $29,221, and he has dropped to $7,500 after his book shrank to 139 and now 67.

To be fair, it is every bit as silly to write him off without seeing his stock on the track as it was to stampede to an unproven stallion in the first place. He was good enough at two to get within half a length of Honor Code and Cairo Prince in the GII Remsen, got his Grade I in the Wood Memorial and finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby before beating Tonalist in the GII Jim Dandy S. Though he couldn’t win at four, he kept the best of company and showed up every time. He’s out of a half-sister to several Graded stakes animals and a big initial footprint on the track could very easily renew his momentum.

KARAKONTIE (JPN) (Bernstein) represented an awful lot of horse at an opening fee of $15,000 but Gainesway have now had to trim him to $10,000 to help myopic breeders see the sheer class on offer. It’s rather pathetic to see him dignified by just 57 and 43 mares over the past two seasons, down from an opening book of 113, but these things tend to be self-fulfilling and his 50 yearling sales, from 63 offered, averaged no more than $38,770.

Hardly the only turf sire to struggle at auction in the U.S., of course, but those who have kept the faith will surely have the last laugh. A Group 1 winner at two and Classic winner at three in his homeland, he advertised his genetic wares to the American market in the Breeders’ Cup Mile with a 110 Beyer. And what wares! Out of Miesque’s granddaughter by Sunday Silence, he is from one of the elite families in the book. It did not help his cause that he was unable to justify his owners in persevering on the track at four, or that his sire remains underrated despite Tepin. But Karakontie certainly offers real value to the end-user.

DAREDEVIL (More Than Ready) has a more obvious profile for many commercial breeders, having melted the clock in the GI Champagne S. He didn’t go on, but does have a proper page: his dam, also responsible for GI Donn H. winner Albertus Maximus (Albert The Great), is out of a Grade I winner who has also produced a couple of elite turf runners in Europe. His 43 yearling sales, out of 61, achieved an ordinary $33,939 off a $12,500 cover, but WinStar had already taken action, cutting him to $7,500. And they had a very auspicious response, getting him his biggest book in his third year-up to 140, from 123 and 113.

Lane’s End have held MR SPEAKER (Pulpit) at $10,000 despite a low-key market reception, 36 of 48 yearlings selling at $31,630. Obviously losing a year after his suspension for Chilean ticks made his an uphill cause, but he’s a good-looking Grade I winner out of a Grade II-placed daughter of the great Personal Ensign. He was welcomed back by 86 mares this year and Mr Speaker deserves a second hearing.

SECRET CIRCLE (Eddington) was a very accomplished runner, winner of the GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint and G1 Golden Shaheen, and you have to love the way he held his form through five years. Hill ‘n’ Dale made full allowance for the fact that he’s much the best by his sire when starting him at $5,000, and he’s out of a half-sister to a Grade I-placed GSW. His book this year was small, but he did sell his yearlings at a very brisk ratio, 21 out of only 25 weighing in at $36,673-including one filly for $180,000.

The same fee will get you access to some stellar genes through SKY KINGDOM (Empire Maker) at Darby Dan, albeit he could not translate them into success beyond Grade III level. His dam is out of a Classic-placed sister to A.P. Indy, and his good looks and page told in a $185,000 filly, one of 16 yearlings sold out of 19 at $31,281.

CONVEYANCE (Indian Charlie), standing for the same tag at Buck Pond Farm, was an unbeaten juvenile who resumed with two Grade III wins as a sophomore. He did not appear to stand regular racing thereafter but had plenty of dash on his day, sold all but one of his 25 yearlings at $25,041, and has a bottom line that gets pretty royal in time.

That is also true of JACK MILTON (War Front), who extends a classy Claiborne family for $6,500 at Crestwood. Winner of the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile, he is a brother to a Grade III winner (also on turf) and their second dam is a half-sister to the dam of champion juvenile War Pass (Cherokee Run).

His yearlings found the going tough at market, however, and likewise the Spendthrift pair MEDAL COUNT (Dynaformer) and Kentucky Derby third DANZA (Street Boss). The latter pair struggled for mares this year and now stand at $3,500, but all these sires–from American Pharoah down–now have the chance at least to let their runners do the talking.


Gold: Liam’s Map $20,000, Lane’s End

Silver: Bayern $15,000, Hill ‘n’ Dale

Bronze: Commissioner $7,500, WinStar


Scat Daddy Colt Overcomes Wide Trip for First-Out Score at Santa Anita

Wed, 2018-12-26 17:00

5th-Santa Anita, $57,070, Msw, 12-26, 2yo, 6 1/2f, 1:17.65, ft.
BIG SCOTT DADDY (c, 2, Scat Daddy–Last Song {GSW & GISP, $336,483}, by Unbridled’s Song), a graduate of last year’s Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase but debuting here on the main track, took some early nibbles in the wagering before settling at 8-1. Away well from his wide draw, he was unable to ever really tuck in and was parked far out in the track behind splits of :21.65 and :45.23. The handsome bay picked off horses ominously heading for home, took over in upper stretch and held sway late by a half-length from now two-time runner-up Ka’nah (Gio Ponti). The winner RNA’d for $195,000 at OBS June after a :21 1/5 breeze. His dam, also responsible for Shut the Box (Hard Spun), MSP, $191,732, annexed the 2004 GII Bonnie Miss S. and was third in the GI Ashland S. She sold for $1.75 million at KEENOV ’06 in foal to A.P. Indy, and brought $1 million in foal to Distorted Humor two years later at Fasig-Tipton November. She was most recently bought back for $775,000 at the 2010 Keeneland January sale in foal to Elusive Quality. Last Song produced a Maclean’s Music filly in 2017 and a Laoban colt in 2018. She was bred back to the former. Big Scot Daddy’s third dam is GISW Only Queens, who in turn produced MGISW Tactile. Sales history: $140,000 Ylg ’17 FTKTUR; $195,000 RNA 2yo ’18 OBSOPN. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $33,000. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-Paymaster Racing LLC & Slugo Racing; B-Southern Equine Stables, LLC (KY); T-Mike Puype.


Shamardal Filly Goes Two-for-Two Stateside at Santa Anita

Wed, 2018-12-26 16:31

Amandine had competed mostly in handicaps in her native country for trainer David Simcock and her breeder, but is now two-for-two Stateside after an impressive score in Wednesday afternoon’s Lady Shamrock S. Purchased privately after a runner-up finish at Newmarket Sept. 22, the bay resurfaced going this distance at Del Mar Nov. 22 and blew away her competition from far back to score by 3 1/4 lengths. Made the second choice here behind only SW/MGSP Ms Bad Behavior, the dark bay showed more early speed to sit in midpack along the rail. Tipped off the fence to tackle Ms Bad Behavior in upper stretch, she inhaled that foe willingly and ran up the score from there in a visually impressive effort. Amandine had also been entered in Saturday’s GI American Oaks. The winner’s dam was Group 1-placed in Ireland before coming to the U.S. and winning Saratoga’s Waya S. over 1 1/2 miles and finishing third in that venue’s GIII Glens Falls S. over 11 furlongs. She hails from the family of G1SW Brian Boru (GB) (Sadler’s Wells), MG1SW Workforce (GB) (King’s Best) and GI Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up Sea Moon (GB) (Beat Hollow {GB}). Amandine has an unraced 2-year-old half-sister named Loving Glance (GB); a yearling half-brother by Lope de Vega (Ire); and a weanling half-sister by Gleneagles (Ire).

LADY OF SHAMROCK S., $79,685, Santa Anita, 12-26, 3yo, f, 1mT, 1:35.10, fm.
1–AMANDINE (GB), 120, f, 3, by Shamardal
1st Dam: Kissable (Ire) (G1SP-Ire, SW & GSP-US, $225,919), by Danehill Dancer (Ire)
2nd Dam: Kitty O’Shea (GB), by Sadler’s Wells
3rd Dam: Eva Luna, by Alleged
1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN. O-Red Baron’s Barn, LLC, Rancho
Temescal, LLC & Shanderella Stables; B-Lordship Stud (GB);
T-Jeff Mullins; J-Drayden Van Dyke. $46,920. Lifetime Record:
13-3-4-3, $109,584.
2–Ms Bad Behavior, 124, f, 3, Blame–Cumulonimble, by Stormy
Atlantic. ($75,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP). O-Sayjay Racing LLC, Greg
Hall & Brooke Hubbard; B-Ron Clarkson (ON); T-Richard Baltas.
3–Stradella Road, 120, f, 3, Elusive Quality–Miss Houdini, by
Belong to Me. O/B-Bo Hirsch LLC (KY); T-Gary Stute. $9,384.
Margins: 2 1/4, 3/4, HF. Odds: 1.80, 1.00, 50.70.
Also Ran: Love and Peace (Fr), Streak of Luck, X S Gold, West Palm Beach (Ire), Animosity.
Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


Battle Ready in San Antonio

Sun, 2018-12-23 15:17

Battle of Midway (Smart Strike), the 9-5 morning-line favorite will be looking for his third straight victory when he goes postward in Wednesday’s GII San Antonio S. at Santa Anita. The bay colt was an open-lengths winner of the Comma to the Top S. over the Arcadia oval Oct. 28, but had to outbattle a determined Dabster (Curlin) to win the Nov. 25 GIII Native Diver S. at Del Mar last time out.

“He hasn’t missed a beat [in his training],” Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, said of Battle of Midway’s preparation for the San Antonio. “He ran a good race last out. He had to go head and head all the way, so that should have him plenty fit. He’s worked well here at Santa Anita and he’s run well here, so he’s ready to go.”

Battle of Midway will break from post two in the nine-horse 1 1/16-mile race and Dabster will be just to his outside in post three. The Bob Baffert trainee, 5-2 on the morning-line, will once again be ridden by Joe Talamo.

“He’s a fun horse to ride,” Talamo said of Dabster, who worked a bullet four furlongs in :46.60 last Friday in the company of GI Malibu S. contender Solomini (Curlin). “He shows up every time, and even when he loses, he really tries hard. It should be a good race with him and Battle of Midway. They’re two good horses. Hopefully, we can flip the page this time.”

Gift Box (Twirling Candy) will be making his first start for trainer John Sadler and Hronis Racing. The 5-year-old has not been out since winning a Mar. 24 optional-claiming race at Aqueduct for W. S. Farish and trainer Chad Brown. Third in the 2015 GII Remsen S. and fourth in the 2016 GI Travers S., the handsome gray is looking for his first graded stakes tally in the San Antonio. He turned in a bullet five-furlong work in 1:00 Dec. 19 at Santa Anita.

Rising Star Watch 2019: Improbable

Sun, 2018-12-23 14:15

Members of the TDN staff reveal what TDN Rising Star they’re most excited to see race in 2019.

This is a fairly obvious choice, but what I liked most about Improbable (City Zip) was his clear development between each start of his three-race juvenile campaign. Though he got the job done at 2-5 first out at Santa Anita Sept. 29, I felt that he ran the second best race, laying off a sizzling speed duel and just getting up by a neck over one of the tiring pace actors. Shipped to Churchill for the Street Sense S. Nov. 2, he overcame some early traffic and left no doubt as to his potential when scampering away in the stretch to a 7 1/4-length romp. Given his initial two-turn test in the Dec. 8 GI Los Alamitos Futurity, the chestnut appeared to be struggling with the track pretty significantly, tugging at the bit and trying to bear out on the first turn. Once he found his footing, however, he strode clear powerfully, leaving his fellow ‘Rising Star’ stablemate Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man) in the dust to the tune of a five-length score. The Beyers for his three races reflect his progression on the eye test, as he graduated from an 85 in his debut to a 93 in the Street Sense to a 96 at Los Alamitos.

With his copper color, white blaze and trademark Bob Baffert blue shadow roll, Improbable aesthetically evokes memories of Justify taking the racing world by storm over the winter and spring. I see similarities in their strides as well, with each colt looking like they’re jumping twice as far as their opponents when they lengthen their gait. The main difference between the two, at least so far, is stylistic. Justify came right out of the box running, rattling off splits of :21.80 and :44.37 on debut, and he was never worse than second at any call in any of his six career races. Improbable, though far from slow early, does his best running from behind the speed and figures to be able to use that tractability to his advantage as we move into Derby season.

Joe Bianca, Associate Editor

Globetrotting Jockey Lermyte Settles on North America

Sun, 2018-12-23 13:54

Jerome Lermyte wanted to be more than just a jockey. The 30-year-old Frenchman wanted to see the world and saw a riding career as his ticket to do so. In his passport, you’ll find stamps from the U.S., Canada, France, South Korea, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Macau, Malaysia, Mauritius and a few others.

“That was my dream before I even thought about riding horses,” Lermyte said. “Seeing the world and traveling. France is such a small country compared to the rest of the world. I wanted to do more than ride in France. I wanted to see the world and I felt that way since I was very young.

“Everywhere I was going, I was winning. Anywhere I went, I wanted to succeed. I didn’t want to just be a tourist there. I did very well in Macau. But I still didn’t want to stay in one place. I wanted to move around, see new places and learn.”

But his years of wanderlust have at last come to an end. Thanks to an in with the Mark Casse stable, Lermyte is staying put, riding at Woodbine through most of the year and Fair Grounds during the winter. Though not Cassse’s No. 1 rider, he gets many quality mounts from one of the nation’s top trainers and has learned to be content with seeing Toronto and New Orleans and not much more.

Lermyte attended the French jockey school in 2004 when he was just 16 and made his riding debut a year later. Like many young French riders trying to get started, he found out how difficult it can be to break in. French racing is dominated by a handful of major stables who have contracts with major riders. The rest fight for the scraps. Lermyte did have an association with the Aga Khan’s stable, but would only get to ride for them when stable rider Christophe Soumillon was not available.

In 2010, he decided to pack his bags. His first stop was Mauritius. As he attempts to go over the chronology of the various countries that he had stopovers in, even he sometimes can’t keep track. Did he go to Macau before Korea or Korea before Macau?

“I enjoyed all the places I rode,” he said. “They all had their own different charms and beauty. Everyone of them had something about them that you would love. All the experiences were great and everywhere I went I learned something and discovered something.”

The time came, however, where Lermyte figured out he’d be better off sticking to one place, establishing a reputation and finding a stable that would back him, knowing that he wasn’t going to stay for a year and then head somewhere else.

He came to the U.S. in 2015 and won his first-ever race here, at Sam Houston. He was close friends with Florent Geroux and Geroux convinced him to come to Arlington and said he would help him get established. He won 27 races in the U.S. in 2015 and looked like he was on his way. But 2016 was a disaster. He was kicked by a horse and spent most of the year trying to get healthy. He won just three races.

In 2017, he connected with Casse and won 26 races, but no stakes. Casse uses many riders at Woodbine, and Lermyte was primarily getting the weaker horses in his stable. That was pretty much the case at the beginning of 2018, but Lermyte kept plugging away and Casse’s confidence in him grew. He won 37 races, including seven stakes.

“He is very loyal and also a top trainer,” Lermyte said of Casse. “He will pick the best jockey to do to the job. If you watched the early part of the Woodbine meet, at first I was only riding longshots. For him, that’s normal because he had two main riders, Gary Boulanger and Patrick Husbands. But I started winning stakes for him and from there he started to give me more mounts because I was delivering good results. By the end of the year I was riding many of his best horses.”

He is so pleased with how things have gone at Woodbine that he has put away his world atlas.

“I’m not that same kid that wants to see everything,” he said. “I’ve seen most of the best racetracks in the world. I’m happy where I’m at and I love Woodbine.”

Had Lermyte tried to ride in North America 10 years earlier, he probably wouldn’t have had much success. With the influx of riders coming in from Latin American countries, trainers, at first, weren’t paying attention to the handful of riders coming here from France.

Julien Leparoux was the first to break through. Then Florent Geroux, after struggling mightily at the beginning of his U.S. career, took off. Flavien Prat was next. The three are now all considered top 10 U.S. riders.

“One thing that I know from traveling all over the world, if you don’t get that chance, you will struggle,” he said “You need to have somebody with a good stable to back you. When Flo got here, he was not popular. Trainers weren’t used to giving someone named Florent with a French accent a shot. They were much more likely to go for Latin riders. They didn’t know anything about the French riders. One hundred percent, those guys made it easier for me. They helped me get a chance, but once you get that chance you have to deliver.”

Having now settled down and riding for Casse and other top Canadian trainers, he has set his sights on winning major, Grade I races, even a Breeders’ Cup.

It can happen. Just don’t go anywhere.

Dream Tree Back in La Brea

Sun, 2018-12-23 13:09

Phoenix Thoroughbred III’s undefeated Dream Tree (Uncle Mo) makes her return to the races in Wednesday’s GI La Brea S. at Santa Anita. The $750,000 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream grad annexed last year’s GI Starlet S. and added the GII Las Virgenes S. in February, but was taken off the GI Kentucky Oaks trail due to a non-disclosed issue. The Bob Baffert pupil resurfaced to romp in Saratoga’s GII Prioress S. going six panels Sept. 2, but was scratched from both the GI Breeders’ Cup F/M Sprint–and the Keeneland November Sale–after suffering an entrapped epiglottis during a breeze. Baffert boasts a record seven wins in the La Brea, but hasn’t taken it since 2012. The Hall of Famer will also saddleTDN Rising Star‘ Emboldened (Elusive Quality). A debut romper here almost a year ago, the Godolphin homebred was third in a local optional claimer in February. She returned in May to annex the track-and-trip Angel Flight S. over MGISW Moonshine Memories (Malibu Moon), but hasn’t been seen since. Peter Miller has two chances at a second La Brea trophy. Mo See Cal (Uncle Mo), claimed for $25,000 over the summer, seeks her fourth consecutive victory. She most recently annexed an open Del Mar optional claimer going a two-turn mile Nov. 15. Kelly’s Humor (Midnight Lute), who took the Ellis Park Debutante S. at this distance and who was also third in the GI Test S. this summer while under the care of Brad Cox, settled for fifth from far back in a Nov. 16 optional claimer first off the trainer switch. Wesley Ward pupil Happy Like a Fool (Distorted Humor), a two-time graded winner, got a confidence builder in a Churchill optional claimer Nov. 25 after bringing $1.45 million at Fasig-Tipton November. Now owned only by the Coolmore partners, she was co-campaigned by Merriebelle when she finished sixth in the GI Breeders’ Cup F/M Sprint. Three-time Cal-bred stakes winner Spiced Perfection (Smiling Tiger) most recently took the Betty Grable S. at Del Mar Nov. 11.

Malibu Might Be Race of the Year

Sun, 2018-12-23 13:08

Santa Anita’s always popular day-after-Christmas opener does not disappoint this year, with the co-featured GI Malibu S. for sophomore sprinters as interesting a race as has been assembled all season. Bob Baffert boasts four of the 14 who made it into the main body of the field, with one more on the also-eligible list for good measure. Leading his group is Pegram, Watson and Weitman’s McKinzie (Street Sense). Garnering the TDN Rising Stardistinction for a track-and-trip romp last October, the bay was (somewhat controversially) promoted to first over stablemate Solomini (Curlin) in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity that December. More recently, he bested Axelrod (Warrior’s Reward) in the GI Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 22 before finishing a distant 12th when taking on his elders in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3. Solomini, meanwhile, has been off since finishing third in the GIII Affirmed S. around two turns here June 10.

Another Baffert runner who cuts back is Ax Man (Misremembered). A head-turning sprint winner himself here on New Year’s Day, the Earnhardt homebred took the two-turn Sir Barton S. in the Pimlico slop in May but was a disappointing third at 1-2 in the GIII Matt Winn S. at Churchill June 16. He was last seen finishing third–again at odds-on–in the GIII Los Alamitos Derby over nine furlongs July 14. The quirky Nero (Pioneerof the Nile) was second behind Kanthaka (Jimmy Creed) in the GII San Vicente S. here in February, and returned off the long lay-off to take a Del Mar optional claimer Nov. 18. Kanthaka, by 2012 Malibu winner Jimmy Creed, is a three-time winner over track and trip–he most recently took the GIII Lazaro Barrera S. here back in May.

The Malibu often features a formidable East Coast contingent, and this year is no exception. The precocious TDN Rising Star Copper Bullet (More Than Ready) aired in the GII Saratoga Special S. in August of his 2-year-old season, but went missing for more than a year. He picked up where he left off with a convincing allowance score going this distance at Churchill Nov. 23, and defeating older graded stakes winner Wild Shot (Trappe Shot) in the process.

Trainer Al Stall, Jr. ran a close second in this race in 2013 with Central Banker (Speightstown), and he’ll look to go one better with another son of Speightstown in the form of Bobby’s Wicked One, who was second beaten a nose in the Steel Valley Sprint S. at Mahoning Valley Nov. 19. Not to be left out of the action is conditioner Chad Brown, who will ship in Klaravich Stables’s Identity Politics (Into Mischief) off a close second against older foes at Aqueduct Nov. 24. Seth Klarman’s Klaravich co-owned Central Banker.


Son of Great Hot Becomes Second Tapit Rising Star of the Day

Sat, 2018-12-22 19:38

Cornacchia (Tapit) was hammered down to even-money for this unveiling for the red hot Brad Cox barn and lived up the hype, getting up just in the nick of time to deny front-running Comedian (Into Mischief) and become the second Tapit ‘TDN Rising Star’ of the day. Rushing up into mid-pack, the bay was forced to check off heels as he tried to muscle his way through the middle of the pack as they hit the opening quarter in :22.41. Swung way out to the center of the track in the lane, the homebred gobbled up ground and got to Comedian in the final stride with a determined late surge, winning in a tight photo.

Gainesway purchased dual graded winner Great Hot for $400,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton November Sale. Her first foal is the now 3-year-old colt It’s Good to Be Us, who summoned $650,000 from Chuck Zacney’s Cash is King at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale in 2016. He graduated at second asking for John Servis at Parx May 26 and followed suit with an allowance score there June 26. The 10-year-old mare’s recent produce includes a yearling colt by Empire Maker, who sold Spendthrift Farm for $600,000 at the recent Keeneland September Sale, and a Tapit filly born Mar. 12 of this year. Great Hot was bred back to Curlin earlier this term.

13th-Fair Grounds, $41,000, Msw, 12-22, 2yo, 6f, 1:11.80, ft.
CORNACCHIA, c, 2, by Tapit
1st Dam: Great Hot (Brz) (MGSW & GISP, $594,177), by Orientate
2nd Dam: That’s Hot, by Seeking the Gold
3rd Dam: Catchy, by Storm Cat
Sales history: $685,000 RNA Ylg ’17 FTSAUG. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $24,600. O/B-Gainesway Stable (KY); T-Brad Cox.
Click for the chart and the free catalogue-style pedigree.


Graydar Colt Wires Sugar Bowl S.

Sat, 2018-12-22 18:38

Gray Attempt became the third black-type winner for his sophomore sire (by Unbridled’s Song) with a front-running score in the Sugar Bowl S. at Fair Grounds. Seizing the early advantage, the $50,000 FTKJUL buy ticked off opening splits of :22.23 and :45.90. Manny Wah (Will Take Charge) tried his best to close in on the leader, but Gray Attempt was always going the better of the two and easily held that rival at bay. The winner has a yearling half-sister by Tapiture and his dam was bred to Overanalyze this year. Click for the chart.


SUGAR BOWL S., $74,250, Fair Grounds, 12-22, 2yo, 6f, 1:10.45, ft.
1–GRAY ATTEMPT, 116, c, 2, Graydar–Attempt to Name, by
Consolidator. ($47,000 RNA Wlg ’16 KEENOV; $50,000 Ylg ’17
FTKJUL). 1ST BLACK TYPE WIN. O-Dwight Pruett; B-Wynnstay
LLC, Donna Moore & Jim Richardson (KY); T-William H. Fires;
J-Shaun Bridgmohan. $45,000. Lifetime Record: 3-2-0-0,
$94,700. *Third stakes winner for sophomore sire (by
Unbridled’s Song).
2–Manny Wah, 122, c, 2, Will Take Charge–Battlefield Angel, by
Proud Citizen. ($175,000 Ylg ’17 FTKJUL). O-Susan Moulton;
B-Martha Jane Mulholland & Modo Tesio Equine, LLC (KY);
T-Wayne M. Catalano. $15,000.
3–Hog Creek Hustle, 122, c, 2, Overanalyze–Candy Fortune, by
Candy Ride (Arg). ($150,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O-Something
Special Racing, LLC; B-Hargus & Sandra Sexton & Silver Fern
Farm, LLC (KY); T-Vickie L. Foley. $7,500.
Margins: 1, 2HF, 3HF. Odds: 5.00, 7.50, 5.80.
Also Ran: Super Steed, Assemblyman, Cajun Firecracker, Uncapped, Sovereign Impact. Scratched: Sambucca.

Taking the ‘Speedway’ to the Top

Sat, 2018-12-22 17:13

by Joe Bianca, from the TDN Weekend

“Thanks for bringing the weather with you.”

I’m in the sprawling metropolis of Houston, Texas, and it is indeed feeling like New Jersey: 53 degrees and drizzly. Walking into the headquarters of Texas Crude Energy, the first thing I notice is how much smaller the office is than expected. The second is the disarming personality and dry Texan humor that has seeped into the company’s Southern California-bred president and CEO, Peter Fluor.

You wouldn’t know it by the three-story office building and its modest team of 40 employees, but this is the nerve center of an enterprise that holds its own with some of their Texas neighbors, America’s energy behemoths. It’s also the home base of Speedway Stable, a venture started by Fluor and his partner and friend K.C. Weiner in the fall of 2014 that began with two splashy auction purchases of ready-made runners and has quickly blossomed into a multi-faceted racing and breeding operation. And it’s not difficult to draw connections between the efficiency and ingenuity that established Texas Crude and the principles that have now entrenched Speedway in the Thoroughbred world.

Though they each come from an oil background, they took disparate, winding roads into their profession. They also both had horse-related backgrounds, but took decades to return to the equine. Now they’re in it. For good.

Peter Fluor was born in 1947 in Pasadena, California, the son of J. Robert Fluor, who ran Fluor Corporation, an engineering and construction company started by Peter’s ancestors. In addition to running his business, Robert was commissioner of racing in California for several years and owned a few Thoroughbreds.

“Growing up in the Pasadena/Arcadia area, I could hear the calls at Santa Anita when they would turn the volume up for the featured race,” Peter said.

With a little enticement, the elder Fluor got his young son to come out with him to the backstretch of The Great Race Place.

“He would take me out to the track when I was six, seven, eight years old,” Fluor remembered. “He’d wake me up at 5:30 and ask if I wanted to go to the training track with him. I asked him if we could get a donut on the way back and he agreed. I didn’t know what I was looking at, but it was cool to go out there and I enjoyed it.”

Some of those early childhood memories prominently feature one of the sport’s all-time legends. Robert Fluor owned horses with Hall of Famer and California racing god Charlie Whittingham, who took a liking to his son.

“Charlie would ask me, ‘C’mon Peter, you ever been on a pony?'” Fluor recalled. “So I’d get on the back of Charlie’s pony and he’d walk around and watch his horses work. Then I would get the donut from my dad. I held him to that.”

When Fluor was a teenager, his father bought El Rancho Murrieta in Murrieta, California, a 160-acre ranch turned commercial racing operation. His partner on the deed was Charles Weiner, father of K.C.

“Charles and my father were friends in business and they had the ranch for 10 years,” Fluor said. “It had a training track and a breeding shed and a foaling barn and an operating barn.”

Eventually, the real estate started to become more expensive and the friends grew too busy to justify the investment, so they sold the ranch to a developer. Fluor’s father maintained an interest in several horses, one of which turned out to be Alleged, a three-time champion in Europe who scored back-to-back conquests of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1977 and 1978.

“I never got to see him run,” Fluor lamented. “I was here and we were busy trying to build a company, so the idea of going to the Arc sounded fun, but wasn’t too practical and wasn’t a priority.”

After graduating from the University of Southern California, Fluor went to the East Coast to try to break into finance, but was put off by the Wall Street culture and instead returned home to accept an offer from a family friend, driving to Texas with everything he could pack in his two-door car.

“The solenoid went out on my stick shift, so any motel I stayed in had to be on an incline so I could pop the clutch in the morning,” he said, laughing. “That was in 1972, and 46 years later, I’m still here.”

K.C. Weiner was born to a successful geologist in Midland and took a circuitous route to his Houston office. He did a semester abroad in Spain and ended up staying for a year and a half, working as a dishwasher and cook in a resort town. It was only due to political upheaval that Weiner returned home to Texas.

“I had some adventures there and then [Spanish dictator Francisco] Franco died [in 1975] and I thought there would be a revolution,” he recalled. “I came back here, finished college, went to grad school, and then went to law school.”

Weiner soon realized he didn’t want to be a lawyer and took a job as an oil field and land man to make some money while he figured out what was next.

“I really liked it, got to know some of the guys and found them interesting and more of my ilk than some of the guys who were really good in law school,” he said. “I came down here and Peter and my dad gave me an office to hang out in. Over time, we ended up being partners. My dad wanted to do what he wanted to do and Peter and I had a little bit different vision of what makes us motivated. My dad was just fascinated by geology, and for him it was a pleasure to know the countryside. We liked to think about what’s going to move the needle and make a difference.”

The needle was definitely moved in the late 2000s, when Texas Crude essentially changed its industry forever. The company got in on the ground floor of the Eagle Ford Shale discovery in South Texas, one of the landmark developments in the history of oil and gas exploration.

In 2000, shale gas, found trapped in formations of the common sedimentary rock, made up only 1% of U.S. natural gas production. By 2010, after Eagle Ford exploration got underway, it was 20%. Government forecasts say that number will rise to 46% by 2035. But it took some outside-the-box thinking from the lean operation of Texas Crude to get into this first big shale play before the energy giants did.

“There’s a saying: ‘Oil is found in the minds of men,'” Weiner said. “Someone thinks that’s one way for it to be there, but what if there was another way? That’s what we’ve done typically, because there are a lot of smart people who’ve done a lot of normal things and we always had to come up with something different. And that difference made a difference.”

“It was unconventional,” Fluor added. “A lot of people think that you just drilled a well and found something and were lucky. But you have to put yourself in a position where something good can happen to you. Twenty years ago, K.C. and I decided the only way we could effectively determine the quality of what we look at is to internally generate more, because you control your own destiny, if you’re good.”

Texas Crude drilled the first well at Eagle Ford, allowing the company to buy up land there before the boom hit.

“It was very exciting, because we knew that it had a long way to go,” Weiner said. “We knew it could stretch from Louisiana to Mexico, and it ended up being almost like that.”

Fluor and Weiner’s breakthrough windfall in Eagle Ford led directly to Speedway Stable when Fluor, with his family’s future secured, decided after three decades to re-enter the racing world. Click here to read the rest of this story in the December TDN Weekend.

Gunnevera Works Towards Pegasus

Sat, 2018-12-22 16:56

Working for the third time since his runner-up effort to Accelerate (Lookin at Lucky) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3, Margoth’s Gunnevera (Dialed In) was clocked five furlongs in 1:01.40 (see below) at Gulfstream Park West Saturday morning as he continues to prepare for a rematch with the Horse of the Year candidate in the $9-million G1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulstream Park Jan. 29. Irad Ortiz, Jr. was in the boot.

“He’s working really good,” Ortiz Jr. submitted. “He’s been doing everything the right way. He’s getting better and better. Today, he worked better than the last couple times. He’s doing everything comfortable. I put my hands down and he does whatever he wants. We’re just keeping him happy.”

A distant third to Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) in last year’s Pegasus, the overachieving 4-year-old used a facile local allowance success as a springboard to a runner-up effort to ‘TDN Rising Star’ Yoshida (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry {Jpn}) in the GI Woodward S. at Saratoga in September. Trained up to the Classic, the chestnut was roughed up at the break and raced well back early on, but came with his reliable late run to finish a length behind Accelerate.

In other Pegasus-related news, Accelerate drilled five-eighths of a mile in 1:01.60 at Santa Anita Saturday morning (video), while GI Cigar Mile H. hero Patternrecognition (Adios Charlie) went a half-mile in :48 4/5 (video) at Palm Meadows Saturday morning.

WATCH: Gunnevera works five furlongs for the GI Pegasus World Cup

Majesticperfection Filly Remains Perfect in Letellier Memorial S.

Sat, 2018-12-22 16:37

After two impressive scores at this distance–a Sept. 1 maiden special weight over the synthetic at Arlington Park and an Oct. 17 allowance at Keeneland–Bell’s the One wasn’t about to let her third track in as many starts or her first time in stakes company stand in her way. As in her previous starts, she didn’t break in any hurry and this time dawdled second to last for the first two furlongs. She began weaving first inside, then outside, horses to come four wide off the turn and dug in to reach the front. Under strong urging, she fought on to hold her position and record the win. The winner’s dam has produced yearling and weanling fillies by Summer Front. She has been bred back to Cairo Prince for 2019. A half-sister to GSW and GISP Tap Day (Pleasant Tap), the mare is in the immediate family of GSWs Fairy Garden (Lyphard) and Possible Mate (King’s Bishop), the latter of which was also MGISP.

LETELLIER MEMORIAL S., $74,250, Fair Grounds, 12-22, 2yo, f, 6f, 1:11.80, ft.
1–BELL’S THE ONE, 122, f, 2, Majesticperfection–Street Mate,
by Street Cry (Ire). ($155,000 Ylg ’17 FTKJUL). 1ST BLACK TYPE
WIN. O-Lothenbach Stables, Inc.; B-Bret Jones (KY); T-Neil L.
Pessin; J-Florent Geroux. $45,000. Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0,
2–Idle Hour, 116, f, 2, Malibu Moon–Downthedustyroad, by
Storm and a Half. ($100,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O-Stonestreet
Stables LLC; B-Grousemont Farm (KY); T-Brendan P. Walsh.
3–Unholy Alliance, 122, f, 2, First Samurai–Canticle, by
Unbridled’s Song. ($170,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O-E 5 Racing
Thoroughbreds; B-Craig Drago (KY); T-Brad H. Cox. $7,500.
Margins: HF, 1 1/4, HF. Odds: 3.50, 8.60, 4.00.
Also Ran: Q Go Girl, Lady T N T, Adventurous Lady, Smila’ssenseofsnow, Istan Council. Scratched: Kajawa, Eskendar.

Tapit–Miss Besilu Colt Romps to ‘Rising Stardom’ at Fair Grounds

Sat, 2018-12-22 15:14

The well-bred Gun It (Tapit) made amends for a troubled-trip fourth on debut at Churchill Downs Oct. 28 with an ‘TDN Rising Star’-worthy graduation at the Fair Grounds Saturday. Sent off at 6-5, the $2.6 million KEESEP buy saved ground in mid-pack off early fractions of :24.40 and :48.54. Tipped out for a bid on the backstretch, the gray displayed some greenness, lugging in a bit at the top of the lane. However, once righted by Ricardo Santana, the May 5 foal powered clear of the field to win for fun by 4 1/4 lengths over By My Standards (Goldencents).

Gun It’s MGISP dam Miss Besilu, who was also named a ‘TDN Rising Star’ in her second-out graduation, summoned the same $2.6 million sum at auction, except she did it as a weanling at Keeneland November in 2011. It is price befitting her pedigree as Miss Besilu is a half-sister to Horse of the Year Saint Liam (Saint Ballado), GISW young sire Funtastic (More Than Ready); GSW Quiet Giant (Giant’s Causeway), who is the dam of reigning Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}); GSW Congressionalhonor (Forestry); SW Dance Quietly (A.P. Indy); and the dam of MGSW Lull (War Front). Gun It is Miss Besilu’s first foal and she has since produced a yearling colt by Candy Ride (Arg) and a weanling filly by Curlin. The 7-year-old mare was bred back to Into Mischief. (Click here for Thorostride video).

4th-Fair Grounds, $41,000, Msw, 12-22, 2yo, 1 1/16m, 1:46.13, ft.

GUN IT, c, 2, Tapit

1st Dam: Miss Besilu (MGISP, $187,829), by Medaglia d’Oro

2nd Dam: Quiet Dance, by Quiet American

3rd Dam: Misty Dancer, by Lyphard

Sales history: $2,600,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 2-1-0-0, $28,400. Click for the chart and the free catalogue-style pedigree.

O-Whisper Hill Farm & Three Chimneys Farm; B-Three Chimneys Farm & Besilu Stables (KY); T-Steve Asmussen.

Super Saver Filly Goes Wire-to-Wire in NOLA

Sat, 2018-12-22 14:09

2nd-Fair Grounds, $41,000, Msw, 12-22, 2yo, f, 6f, 1:12.07, ft.
MARATHON QUEEN (f, 2, Super Saver–Marathon Lady {MGISP, $282,825}, by Graeme Hall), off at odds of 7-1 for this debut run, went straight to the front from her rail draw and never looked back. Seizing the early advantage, the homebred was pressed through a sharp opening quarter in :22.07. They lined up four across the track to take her on at the top of the stretch, but Marathon Queen had plenty left in the tank, drawing away smartly to defeat Rumandice (Congrats) by 2 1/2 lengths. Marathon Lady, a $45,000 OBSAPR graduate, carried the Lieblongs’ silks to third-place finishes in the GI Mother Goose S. and GI TVG Coaching Club American Oaks. She produced a colt by The Big Beast this year and was bred back to Super Saver. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $24,600. Click for the chart.
O/B-Alex & JoAnn Lieblong (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen.