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Updated: 11 hours 21 min ago

Stephens, Bloch and Company Savoring ‘Champagne’ Ride

Wed, 2018-10-31 11:47

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky–What started as a chance encounter one year at the GI Kentucky Derby has blossomed into a very successful partnership between Brad Stephens of Six Column Stables, Randy Bloch and a rotating group of other enthusiastic owners. They’ll return to Churchill Downs on Saturday with Champagne Problems (Ghostzapper), who goes in the GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff before being offered Sunday at Fasig-Tipton November through Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency as hip 172.

“One of my first trips to the Kentucky Derby was the year Street Sense won,” recalled Stephens, a Dallas, TX-based financier who first caught the racing bug attending the harness races in Illinois while his father was in the livestock feed business. “I had walk around tickets, and Randy happens to have a pretty nice place to stand next to his box if you happen to be walking around. So, being a congenial guy, Randy was always very friendly, so I went back the next year and stood in the same place, and so on and so forth. Eventually, I told him I wanted to do it and get into horses. He didn’t have anything at the time, so he sent me in some other directions. That didn’t work out so well, but later I came in on some of their homebreds and we went to the sale and bought some together and it just kind of grew over time. It was just complete dumb luck, starting at the Kentucky Derby.”

Bloch added, “We would sneak up to the turf club and get drinks, and we’d let Brad watch the box and we’d sneak him a beer back down as a thank you. We just became friends over the years.”

Bloch, a Louisville native, grew up on a farm and is a partner in and executive vice president at Horsemen’s Track and Equipment. Prior to meeting Stephens, he co-campaigned MGSW My Boston Gal (Boston Harbor), who was trained by Street Sense’s conditioner Carl Nafzger and who competed in the 2003 GI Kentucky Oaks. Bloch, Nazfger and Champagne Problems partner Dr. John Seiler were co-owners in Street Sense’s dam Bedazzle (Dixieland Band) at one point before selling her to Sheikh Mohammed.

When Hall of Famer Nafzger handed the reins over to longtime assistant Ian Wilkes, so did Bloch, et al. Stephens and Bloch had a particularly good run of fortune in 2015-2016 when they campaigned MGSW Island Town (Hard Spun), Grade III winner Thatcher Street (Street Sense) and MGSP Sweetgrass (Street Sense)–all homebreds.

There are five partners (and their wives) in on Champagne Problems–Stephens, Bloch and Seiler, Dave Hall from Louisville, and Fred Merritt, who lives in in Indianapolis–plus another dozen or so who rotate in and out of partnerships with the group.

Champagne Problems was a $270,000 pick-up at the 2015 Keeneland September sale and has really blossomed this year at age four. She broke through at the graded level in August’s GIII Groupie Doll S. at Ellis before finishing close seconds to fellow Distaff entrant Blue Prize (Arg) (Pure Prize) in both the GIII Locust Grove S. Sept. 15 and GI Juddmonte Spinster S. Oct. 7.

“Ian [Wilkes] had said all along that she was just going to take a little time, and she was going to be better with age like a fine wine,” said Bloch of Champagne Problems’s progressive recent form.

While Stephens and Bloch both acknowledge that it’s a tough Distaff field, they say their charge is doing well and they remain hopeful. Either way, they’re going to enjoy the ride with their first Breeders’ Cup starter.

“Being a Louisville guy, it’s like Christmas morning,” Bloch said Wednesday morning. “I went out and watched her gallop this morning with Ian, picked up some of the Champagne Problems hats and garb for all the partners. It’s getting pretty exciting.”

“She’s definitely improving at the right time,” Stephens said. “She was not 100% to run in the Spinster until four or five days beforehand, so it’s not like she was pointing to that race and this was an afterthought–it was kind of the other way around. She’s improving and if the cards fall the right way, we’ll be happy, but we’ll be happy either way. She’s taken us on a great ride.”

After the Distaff, Champagne Problems will head to Lexington to be offered as a racing or broodmare prospect Sunday night during Fasig’s blockbuster auction.

“We might’ve learned a lesson with Sweetgrass,” Bloch said of the decision to sell Champagne Problems now. “We were debating with her whether to sell her as a 4-year-old or 5-year-old. I was probably pushing for five and Brad was pushing for four, and we kind of learned a lesson–when you’ve got a little momentum and things going right for you, you need to put them in the sale.”

Sweetgrass sold at last year last year’s FTKNOV sale as a 5-year-old for $250,000.

Champagne Problems is by Ghostzapper–the broodmare sire of this year’s Triple Crown winner Justify (Scat Daddy)–and she hails from the female family of Grade I winners and sires Southern Image (Halo’s Image), Turbo Compressor (Halo’s Image) and Jolie’s Halo (Halo).

“If money was no object, we would just hold on to her and maybe run her a little more and then have a homebred, but for an operation like ours, we have to take money off the table.”

Bloch quipped: “In other words, we bought too many at the [yearling] sales.”

With the help of Wilkes and Nazfger, Stephens, Bloch and company were very active during this year’s yearling sales–they picked up 10 as a group and Stephens bought another two outright.

They’ve never spent more on one than they did to secure Champagne Problems at $270,000.

“We prefer to call ourselves value shoppers, but when we bought Champagne Problems, Carl Nafzger kind of had us drinking the Kool-Aid, so we spent a little bit more than we usually do,” Bloch said.

Between members of the group in on Champagne Problems, they estimate that they own about a dozen in training together.

Given recent efforts by a pair of their juvenile fillies, they might have a reason to head back to Churchill come next May.

Champagne Anyone (Street Sense), a $70,000 pick-up, overcame a troubled trip to break her maiden second out at Ellis Aug. 31, and followed up with a very impressive last-to-first rally at Keeneland’s tricky one-mile distance Oct. 10.

Molto Bella (Violence), meanwhile, belied 26-1 odds to complete the exacta in Sunday’s Rags to Riches S. under the Twin Spires. She was acquired for $100,000 at KEESEP.

Both fillies are under consideration for the GII Golden Rod S. Nov. 24, but either or both could wait for a return down in Florida to gear up for a Kentucky Oaks push.

“You know how conservative Ian Wilkes can be–he’s not going to run them if they’re not ready,” Bloch said. “We’re looking to have good 3-year-old campaigns for both of those girls, so we don’t want to push them.”

Until then, they’ll be savoring the rest of the journey with Champagne Problems.

“There’s so much excitement this weekend, and you go through so many hard times throughout the year with horses getting hurt or not developing the way you want,” said Stephens. “Weekends like this kind of keep you going. The excitement is kind of indescribable.”

Bloch added, “We’re just thrilled to be here and want her to run well. You’ll see us having a great time whether we run fifth or sixth or hit the board. Hit the board and you might see us doing cartwheels.”

 

Equestricon Continues in Louisville

Tue, 2018-10-30 18:32

Day two of Equestricon started much like the first with a large variety of activities taking place around the Convention Centre, from panels to Justify’s connections signing autographs.
While the first day’s focus for this piece was on aftercare and racing personalities, the second day’s focus was on racing itself. That started in the Guardians At the Gate panel when Steve Koch, the executive director of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Safety & Integrity Alliance, and New York Racing Association Chief Examining Veterinarian Jennifer Durenberger shined some light on the regulatory and state veterinary side of racing.
Much of Koch’s talk was based around the track accreditation process and various rules that have to be followed to get accredited. Talking about the process and the run-down of what tracks have to provide in their report for the application, he said it is one of the most interesting reports the public never sees. While only 24 tracks are currently accredited, Koch said that there are other tracks that are working toward getting accredited, but they just have a few small things that need to be solved.
“One of the things a lot of folks don’t understand is that it’s not just the racetrack that has to get this done,” he said. “Each track has to have all of the stakeholders in on this. If your jockey colony isn’t working with you, if your regulators aren’t on the ball, if your horsemen and owners and trainers aren’t on the ball, it’s going to be difficult to get over the hump.”
During Durenberger’s part of the panel, she shared some interesting stats from a variety of topics, both as what she sees as a vet and from the regulation side. One such thing was that NYRA runs between 1,200 1,500 Out of Competition test samples every year, in addition to daily TCO2 testing on horses in selected races.
When asked how many horses she scratches on a weekly basis, Durenberger said that gate scratches vary, but no matter where she goes in the world, the number of morning scratches seem to stay the same.
“That is remarkably consistent at every racetrack I’ve ever worked at, every international jurisdiction I’ve visited. If I’m looking at 30 horses, I’m going to expect to have to make a decision about two or three and I’m going to have to scratch about half a horse a day, so I’ll scratch three or four a day,” she said.
Both panelists fielded multiple questions from the crowd and it was near the end of the panel when Koch threw out some more information about accredited tracks that shows how powerful those 24 tracks are in the industry.
“Seventy-five percent of North American wagering, 90% of graded stakes, and 96% of Grade Is [are run at accredited tracks],” he said.
Shortly after the panel ended, next door international racing took the spotlight in the International Perspectives on Racing panel. With four panelists from around the world moderated by Nick Luck taking the stage, the panel could have filled a full day.
Among the many points talked about in the 90-minute panel were providing more information for gamblers, aftercare, how shuttle stallions are making it easier to follow racing abroad, and the need for racing seasons.
When talking about the topic often discussed in how North America should find ways to be as popular as other countries, TDN’s Kelsey Riley threw out a point that isn’t often considered when talking about Australia versus the United States.
“One thing I think about the Australians, I feel like racing appeals on so many levels there because it’s embedded into the culture in so many levels there,” she said. “Speaking on the higher end, you see people all dressed up out at the races having a drink, being seen. I just feel like that’s a big part of the Australian culture, that’s something that they just inherently enjoy doing. But at the same time, you also have the country racing where you can even go to the pub and watch it and have a bet. I think it’s dangerous to say that you can take these experiences, these certain ways of doing things and transfer them over to America because I think there’s big inherent cultural differences there.”
Full of good information from beginning to end, one point talked about later in the panel was the need for consistent disqualification rules around the world. With a more international audience wagering on races, figuring out why a horse was disqualified is a challenge that could be changed to help bring in more money.
“I think internationally it makes it smoother if we have a similar perspective,” Fanny Salmon said. “That’s also what the International Federation of Horse Racing Authority is trying to achieve, is that we follow the same rules.”
The final panel attended was one on how to find the next big horse, a fitting panel with the passing of the legendary Cot Campbell over the weekend. His involvement in finding previous big horses and ownership groups was talked about by West Point Thoroughbred’s Terry Finley.
“Cot is really the king of partnerships, he originated the concept in the late 1960s. Every time you dealt with Cot, you dealt with a person who always had a smile on his face and a good word to put in and a good word to say. He just did it with so much class and he was so genuine,” Finley said. “I challenge any of us to look at anyone in our industry who had as big of an impact on our great game in the last 50 years as Cot Campbell. I’ll say to Cot up in heaven, ‘Thank you very much.'”
During his talk, Finley also made it clear that, just because you find a ‘big horse’ once, doesn’t mean your search is over. West Point placing second in the 2014 GI Kentucky Derby and winning the 2017 Derby just fed the urge to find another big runner, Finley said.
“You think about the fact that you got to the mountain top when you win the Derby,” he said. “And all those things, you’re thankful for the people who assisted you, you think about going to the races with your father, but the things that also comes into your mind is ‘I’ve got to figure out how to get back here’ and to get the next big horse. So the search and the quest and the journey to get your next big horse, it never stops and that’s a good thing.”
While Finley talked about the constant search for the big horse, for Fasig-Tipton’s Terence Collier, searching is only a part of the journey.
“The panel is about the next big horse and I’m going to tell you now, you cannot find the next big horse. The next big horse is going to find you because you don’t know where they’re going to come from,” Collier said.
From stallion acquisition with Bill Farish to buying yearlings with David Ingordo, all four speakers acknowledged that luck played a part in finding their big horses. Ingordo summarized it best at the end of his panel when telling the story about how he privately purchased Stellar Wind after his phone calls had been ignored, but a friend’s phone call was answered.
“I could have called this man 100 times and never got a response and yet fate brings somebody in to the office that was able to help me get it done and it ended up being Stellar Wind. You can have all the plans you want and everything else, but sometimes there’s this element of luck,” he said.
While the majority of Equestricon ended today, a few final events wrap up Wednesday with Equestricon’s final event passing the baton to Churchill Downs with a day of racing at the track for those who bought the add-on experience with their tickets.

Larry Snyder Passes Away

Tue, 2018-10-30 18:10

Retired jockey Larry Snyder, a longtime steward at Oaklawn Park, passed away Monday. He was 76 and had been battling cancer.
During his 35-year riding career, Snyder won eight titles at Oaklawn. Among his most notable Oaklawn wins were the 1983 Rebel S. aboard that year’s GI Kentucky Derby winner Sunny’s Halo, as well as the 1989 GII Arkansas Derby on Dansil, whom he would ride to a fourth-place finish in both the Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness S.
“Larry was a very beloved member of the Oaklawn family,” track president Louis Cella said. “We were all happy that we were able to honor him with the new Winner’s Circle before he passed. It was a very proud moment in Oaklawn’s history. We are able to recognize someone who played an important part of our past with something that will begin a wonderful new tradition at Oaklawn. Please join the Oaklawn Family in sending our thoughts and prayers to the Snyder family.”
Oaklawn dedicated its winner’s circle to Snyder in a ceremony held last Thursday.
Snyder became only the sixth rider in U.S. racing history to reach 6,000 career wins at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 24, 1989. He was honored by his peers that year with the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. Snyder retired in 1994 with career earnings of $47,207,289 and 6,388 recorded victories, which still ranks him 14th among all North American jockeys 24 years after his retirement.
“In my 40 years at Oaklawn, I don’t know if I worked with anyone with more integrity than Larry Snyder,” Senior Vice President Eric Jackson said. “He lived his life the same way on the track as he did off of it. Larry will be greatly missed.”
While still an active rider in 1988, Larry Snyder was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and during retirement, in 2001, he was honored as part of the Arkansas Walk of Fame in Hot Springs. He was nominated for induction in 2006 into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In 1999, he was inducted into the Fair Grounds Racing Hall of Fame.
Snyder was a steward at Oaklawn from 1995-2017.
A longtime resident of Hot Springs, Snyder is survived by his wife of nearly 57 years, Jeanette, who is renowned for her jockey silks, and son, Larry, Jr. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Lynette.

Free Drop Billy Retired to Spendthrift

Tue, 2018-10-30 17:39

Grade I winner Free Drop Billy (Union Rags–Trensa, by Giant’s Causeway) has been retired from racing and will begin his stud career at B. Wayne Hughes’s Spendthrift Farm as part of the nursery’s “Share the Upside” program in 2019.
“Free Drop Billy is a great-looking horse with a proven sire’s pedigree, and he was a dominant Grade I winner and leading 2-year-old of his crop,” said Ned Toffey, general manager at Spendthrift. “He ticks a lot of significant boxes, especially for a stallion prospect in his spot in the market. We believe he’s a terrific value that breeders are really going to like, and we’re excited to stand him.”
The Share The Upside fee for Free Drop Billy will be $10,000 for one year, however, breeders must also breed a mare in 2020 on a complimentary basis. After the breeder has a live foal in 2020, pays the stud fee, and breeds a mare back, he or she will earn a lifetime breeding right beginning in 2021. For breeders not interested in the Share The Upside program, Free Drop Billy will be offered for $10,000 on a standard stands and nurses contract.
Racing for Albaugh Family Stables and trainer Dale Romans, Free Drop Billy was second in the GIII Sanford S. and GI Hopeful S. before an emphatic four-length victory in the GI Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. He was second in this year’s GII Holy Bull S. and third in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. and GIII Gotham S. On the board in seven of 11 starts, Free Drop Billy retires with two wins and earnings of $662,470.

Tuesday’s Trackside Breeders’ Cup Report

Tue, 2018-10-30 15:45

LOUISVILLE, Ky – With Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas leading the cavalry charge aboard his stable pony, there was no shortage of action on another chilly morning beneath the lights during the special Breeders’ Cup training window at Churchill Downs Tuesday.

Already boasting a Breeders’ Cup-leading 20 victories, Lukas was out keeping a close eye on Calumet Farm homebred Derby Date (Will Take Charge), who is listed at odds of 30-1 on the morning-line for the Juvenile.

The ageless 83-year-old continues to make the rounds throughout the week off the track in Louisville as well, promoting his new book Sermon on the Mount, an absolute must-have for any racing fan.

Legendary former football head coach Bill Parcells will have the yellow-and-green colors of his August Dawn Farm carried by GIII Pilgrim S. winner Forty Under (Uncle Mo) (Juvenile Turf), who was led out for training by conditioner Jeremiah Englehart.

Wesley Ward’s most recent Royal Ascot conqueror Shang Shang Shang (Shanghai Bobby) (Juvenile Turf Sprint), a last out winner over the boys in the G2 Norfolk S. June 21, bounded onto the track with very good energy, as did the comebacking ‘TDN Rising Star’ Selcourt (Tiz Wonderful) (F/M Sprint), most recently seen dominating the GII Santa Monica S. Mar. 24.

Unbeaten ‘TDN Rising Star’ Complexity (Maclean’s Music) and Code of Honor (Noble Mission {GB}), one-two across the track in Belmont’s GI Champagne S. Oct. 6, both stood by the turn and took in the hectic scene for a few minutes, which included another spirited gallop from the wildly popular diminutive Sprint favorite Imperial Hint (Imperialism).

Trainer Mark Casse watched by the rail as ‘TDN Rising Star’ Wonder Gadot (Medaglia d’Oro) (Distaff) continued to live up to her ‘Wonder Woman’ moniker, repeatedly attempting to jump throughout her gallop down the backstretch for the second straight day.

“She’s been giving a lot of good photo-ops this week,” Casse said with a laugh. “That’s her though–she flies through the air. She just has so much energy.”

The striking gray coat of Disco Partner (Disco Rico) (Turf Sprint) and the flaxen mane of the chestnut 2-year-old Current (Curlin) (Juvenile Turf) were only to be outdone by another stunning sunrise beneath the Twin Spires Tuesday as temperatures once again hovered in the low 40s.

There was still plenty to take in following the private Breeders’ Cup training session, too, as the Classic-bound ‘TDN Rising Star’ Pavel (Creative Cause) made his way out over a very congested racetrack at 7:50 a.m.

Other big names spotted sporting Breeders’ Cup saddle towels later in the morning included: the powerhouse Godolphin duo of Thunder Snow (Ire) (Helmet {Aus}) (Classic) and Talismanic (GB) (Medaglia d’Oro) (Turf); ultra-talented 2-year-old fillies Jaywalk (Cross Traffic) (Juvenile Fillies), unbeaten ‘TDN Rising Star’ Newspaperofrecord (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}) (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Sippican Harbor (Orb) (Juvenile Fillies); and the speedy Kentucky Derby pacesetter Promises Fulfilled (Shackleford), who is slated to take on his elders in the Sprint.

As if that all wasn’t enough, the highlight of the morning didn’t come until the turf course was open for training shortly after 9:30 a.m., with the brilliant two-time Arc heroine Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) receiving the much-deserved rockstar treatment with photographers lined up along the outer rail by the dozen recording her every move.

Fasig-Tipton Date for Shang Shang Shang’s Dam Yankee Victoria

Tue, 2018-10-30 14:37

Kris and Lorenzo Del Guidice lived out the dream of every small breeder when Shang Shang Shang (Shanghai Bobby) gritted out a dramatic victory in the G2 Norfolk S. at Royal Ascot  some four months ago. Now two-for-two, the juvenile filly will put her unbeaten record on the line in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Two days later, her dam Yankee Victoria (Yankee Victor) (hip 151) and her weanling half-sister by Paynter (hip 53) will go through the sales ring at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale through the Baccari Bloodstock consignment, but the weekend will be bittersweet for Kris Del Guidice. Her husband Lorenzo, who purchased Yankee Victoria in 2016, passed away in September.

“This is all my husband’s doing,” Del Guidice said of Yankee Victoria’s addition to the couple’s small Ocala-based broodmare band. “He was looking for something in foal to Shanghai Bobby. He had been to Keeneland that winter and, for our money, he couldn’t find anything. The quality just wasn’t there for the money. So he came home and he said, ‘I’m going to OBS. I’ll find something over there.’ He searched the books and he found her. Yankee Victoria is a very beautiful mare.”

Lorenzo was willing to go to $40,000 for the then-11 year old mare in foal to champion juvenile Shanghai Bobby, but he was able to walk out of an OBS with what, even then, seemed a bargain.

“He thought he’d have to give anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 for her,” Del Guidice said. “So when he got her for $17,000, we were a little surprised.”

When Shang Shang Shang was born a few months later, it was apparent she had inherited her mother’s placid disposition.

“We used to call her Bobby Buffalo because she was so furry and hairy,” Del Guidice said with a laugh. “She was a little non-descript dark bay filly, very laid back. Her mom was very sweet and laid back and she was the same way.”

The youngster quickly rewarded her breeders when topping the 2017 OBS Winter Mixed Sale with a final bid of $110,000 from William Heiligbrodt’s East Hickman Racing.

“When she was the sale topper, we were pleasantly surprised, of course,” Del Guidice recalled. “She was a nicely put together little filly. We had a $40,000 reserve on her, so when she hit that, Lorenzo said, ‘That’s a legitimate bid, let’s go.’ We were out back at OBS and he wouldn’t even look up at the monitor. I said, ‘Hold on. They are still bidding on her. Look, she’s at $50,000, $60,000.’ And he thinks I’m lying and he won’t turn his head to look. When I told him she was at $100,000, he really thought I was lying. He finally said, ‘You’re not kidding?’ We were both shaking by then. When she went to $110,000, we were just staring at each other.”

Del Guidice continued, “I’ve been on the racetrack my whole life, that’s where I actually met Lorenzo, at a racetrack in Cleveland. That’s something you pretty much dream about. You always dream, why not us some day? You never know. And being such a small breeder, we only have three mares, so that was a really nice deal for us.”

Returned to the sales ring at OBS the following March, Shang Shang Shang sold to Sam Ross and Mike Hall’s Breeze Easy for $200,000. A debut winner at Keeneland in April for trainer Wesley Ward, the filly earned an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint when she outbattled Pocket Dynamo (Dialed In) for a nose victory in the Norfolk (video).

“I had guys putting in new counter tops and as the race was going on, we were screaming,” Del Guidice recalled of watching the Norfolk from her home in Ocala. “Those guys, their eyes were bugging out of their heads. They didn’t know what was going on. When it was all said and done, I said, ‘That filly that just won this race in England, her mother and her little sister are literally standing outside the window.'”

Lorenzo, meanwhile, had already left to open the couple’s nearby Roma Italian Restaurant.

“My husband called me and he was out of breath and he said he was going to have a heart attack. His health was not very good and I said, ‘Seriously are you okay?’ He was so excited.”

Asked if it was a difficult decision for the couple to sell Yankee Victoria, Del Guidice was succinct.

“No,” she said. “I am very sentimental, but I also know opportunity knocks once. Especially, being a small breeder, we didn’t have to sell her, but it turned out to be a good decision since my husband passed away.”

The 66-year-old Del Guidice has spent a lifetime involved with racehorses.

“I always had a riding horse, since I was 10 years old,” she said. “When I was growing up in Ohio, there were only two Thoroughbred farms. I worked at both of them. And the second one I worked at, all of the horses were leaving to go to the racetrack. I was 20 or 21 and they asked me if I wanted to stay on the farm and clean stalls or did I want to go the racetrack. And I thought, ‘Really? I’ll see you later!’ When I went to the racetracks and I saw people getting paid to pony, I thought, ‘You have got to be kidding me.’ I didn’t know anything about the racetrack, but they wouldn’t have had to pay me if I just got to ride my horse all day. I started out grooming, hotwalking, ponying, training. I did it all. I love the racetrack. I just absolutely love it. But that’s a whole other time ago.”

As Del Guidice juggles the responsibilities of the restaurant and the couple’s adopted son, she expects to disband her breeding stock.

“I just have too much on my plate,” she said. “We adopted a little boy and he’s just seven, so my days are filled with homework and we have this restaurant going and this bar going. I’m just spinning in the wind from everything right now, so I’m not going to breed anymore. There are two other mares standing there in foal and three weanlings, so hopefully I can get them sold.”

Chris Baccari will be handling the consignment of Yankee Victoria and her weanling filly at the Fasig-Tipton sale.

“I’ve known Chris for quite a long time,” Del Guidice said. “We always send our mares up there to be bred. He always took care of all of that for us. So I am really comfortable with him. That helps.”

Yankee Victoria will sell in foal to Cupid. Her weanling filly will walk into the sales ring bolstered by recent stakes winners for her young sire Paynter, including Knicks Go, who won the Oct. 6 GI Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and goes postward in Friday’s GI Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile.

“She has a completely different temperament from Shang Shang,” Del Guidice said of the weanling. “She is kind of a witch. Out of the same mare and I’m just telling you how sweet the mare is, but she didn’t get her mare’s temperament.”

Looking ahead to the sale, Del Guidice admitted, “I’m so nervous and I’m so excited. And it’s really bittersweet because Lorenzo won’t be there.”

The Fasig-Tipton November sale will be held Sunday in Lexington, with bidding scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.

Breeders’ Cup Week Kicks Off With Day One of Equestricon

Mon, 2018-10-29 20:15

Starting off Breeders’ Cup week in downtown Louisville, Ky. Monday was the second annual Equestricon horse racing convention.

The first day of the event attracted horse racing fans and owners from all walks of life attending over 15 Monday panels taking place on the Breeders’ Cup stage on the Convention Floor and in rooms downstairs. For those who had time to spare between panels, rows of vendors took over the rest of the floor, from farms in Horse Country Row to a Breeders’ Cup merchandise booth and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Hub.

If you had forgotten the racing industry was in the midst of Breeders’ Cup, walking around the Kentucky International Convention Center would bring you back to this week’s races. Breeders’ Cup signage could be seen around the block and walking into the Convention Floor and all four walls had a purple tint from the bulbs lining the ceiling.

The Breeders’ Cup Stage provided the location for the convention’s first ever “Track Talks,” which kicked off with an aftercare panel titled “Leaders and Innovators In Aftercare, Presented by the TAA.” Moderated by the TAA’s Stacie Clark-Rogers, Old Friends Farm’s Michael Blowen kicked off proceedings with a talk that at times could have doubled as a comedy routine.

“The day Silver Charm showed up at our farm, Dec. 1, 2014 is the greatest day of my life,” Blowen said. “I know you’re supposed to say the day you got married or the day your kids or your grandkids were born, but it’s not the truth.”

Once the crowd was warmed up, the power of off-the-track Thoroughbreds was on full display through the stories shared by three people who had seen or felt the effect they’ve had first hand.

The process former National Football League player Jeff Tow-Arnett had to go through to prove he was fit to adopt his horse Nowhere to Hide from the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center was challenging, but he credits it for helping to change his life.

“Thoroughbred aftercare is a huge thing. It’s drastically changed my life. If you would have asked me four years ago if I’d be standing here, I would have told you you’re absolutely nuts. If you would have told me I’d go from one horse to now having 23 horses, I would have told you there’s no possible way but ‘Noah’ turned my life upside down.”

Today, Tow-Arnett has a 60-acre property with his brother and girlfriend where they are growing a lesson program in Minnesota. Still in contact with the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center, Tow-Arnett’s operation is also looking at teaming up with the Center to create a “Maker’s Mark North” in the future.

The most powerful speech of the day, however, came as the final talk in the aftercare Track Talk with war veteran James Stewart.

Sharing the story of how an off-track Thoroughbred named “Budder” (registered as Three Lions) literally saved his life after years in the military had the crowd enthralled. Recounting how his mother-in-law told him about a program that could help him, Stewart was forced to stop a few times as his emotions caught up to him.

Traveling to the program, he was assigned to Budder for his time there. Working with Budder in the round pen alone one day, the horse walking up to him was the change that he needed to start to heal from his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“You turn your shoulder to the horse and if he wants to accept you, he comes up to your shoulder.” Stewart explained. “So I did it, I turned my shoulder to him and he approached. We were walking a figure eight, then I pretty much just stood there with him and cried. I had no idea what had gone on. I left a bunch of war baggage right there in the sand of that pen. He saved my life that day, because if it hadn’t worked, I probably would have gone home and committed suicide.”

Following Stewart’s Track Talk was hard, but the next talk an hour later gave it a try with the “Innovative and Leading Women in Racing” talk, presented by the Thoroughbred Women’s Network.

The session started with Claire Crosby sitting down beside Dell Hancock, one of the most recognizable women in racing.

Hancock spent most of her time on the stage talking about the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. In a very informative talk, she explained how the Foundation chooses projects to help fund–including the process that goes into choosing which projects will play a bigger part in usable research–and how those who aren’t accepted also get feedback on how to improve.

Hancock also gave examples of horses who have been helped by the research funded by Grayson, including champion Lady Eli and Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.

“I think if you take care of the horse, the horse will take care of you,” she said. “We wouldn’t be having this wonderful week right now and this great weekend of racing coming up if our horses weren’t healthy. At the end of the day, it takes a lot of work to keep them healthy and any help that we can give through research or rules or whatever it is, I think it’s our responsibility. If you love the horse, you’ve got to take care of it.”

With four other women participating, there were many nuggets of wisdom not only for other women but anyone aspiring to get into the sport. But it was an oft-used saying repeated by Tanya Gunther of Glennwood Farms that stuck out the most.

“‘Never quit something that you can’t spend a day not thinking about.’ For me that is the horses. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think about them and I feel very lucky for that,” she said at the end of her panel.

Equestricon wrapped up the day with the Breeders’ Cup draw and a successful Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance auction. Tuesday’s panels kick off at 8:55 a.m. and run all day long on topics from handicapping to Thoroughbred aftercare and ownership, with more good stories and thought-provoking discussions still to come to wrap up this year’s edition of Equestricon.

Collected to Stand at Airdrie

Mon, 2018-10-29 17:51

Grade I winner Collected (City Zip–Helena Bay {GB}, by Johannesburg) will begin his stallion career at Airdrie Stud for the 2019 breeding season, the farm announced Monday. Bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm Inc. and Peter J. Callahan and raced in the silks of Peter Fluor and K.C. Weiner’s Speedway Stable LLC, the Bob Baffert trainee was an Eclipse Award finalist for Champion Older Male in 2017, a season highlighted by his victory over champion stablemate Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) in the GI Pacific Classic and second-place finish to Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic. A five-time graded stakes winner, Collected’s current earnings stand at $2,975,500.

Bought by Marette Farrell for $170,000 as a 2-year-old at OBS March, the chestnut won four of his first six starts and, after almost a year on the sidelines, returned with four consecutive victories to begin his 4-year-old season, including a 14-length tour de force in the GIII Precionist S. and his Pacific Classic triumph. He most recently ran fourth in the Pennsylvania Derby Champion S. Sept. 22 at Parx.

“It’s a very proud day for Airdrie Stud to be able to announce Collected as our newest stallion,” said Airdrie owner Brereton Jones. “One of the smallest bullseyes to hit in our business is to find a young stallion that both fills the eye of the commercial breeder while also boasting the resume of a genuine leading sire prospect. Collected is that horse. He’s a beautiful, masculine, correct Marette Farrell purchase, he was a debut winner at two going 6 1/2 furlongs and he trained on to beat the best horses in the world at the classic mile-and-a-quarter distance. We couldn’t be more grateful to Peter Fluor and K. C. Weiner and their families for allowing us to stand their great horse or more excited about the exceptional partnership we’ve put together to support Collected at stud.”

“Collected has been an absolute dream horse for our Speedway Stable family,” Fluor and Weiner added in a joint statement. “Our advisers Marette Farrell and John Adger identified him as a perfect Bob Baffert candidate when we bought him as a 2-year-old, and it would be very difficult for a plan to work out better. Because of our tremendous confidence that his next career will be every bit as successful as his first, we have elected to stay involved with Collected and to partner with the wonderful group that Airdrie has put together. We will be supporting the horse with several of the very nice fillies and mares we’ve raced and purchased over the last few years and look forward to doing our part to make him the great success we know he can be.”

Accelerate All the Way Outside as BC Fields Take Shape

Mon, 2018-10-29 17:47

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky–Fields for this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships took shape Monday at the Rood & Riddle Post Position Draw on the main stage at the second-annual Equestricon, held this year in Louisville’s Kentucky International Convention Center.

A total of 191 entrants (48 international) from a record 221 pre-entries remained in contention for the 14 Breeders’ Cup contests set to be held Friday and Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Hronis Racing’s Accelerate (Lookin At Lucky), who enters the $6-million GI Breeders’ Cup Classic off a trio of Grade I victories out in Southern California, will break from the far-outside 14 post as he faces a full field (with two also eligibles) in the weekend’s main event.

“I’m glad they keep inviting me back for these events–I’m just happy to be in the room,” quipped Accelerate’s trainer John Sadler, who seeks a much-talked-about elusive first Breeders’ Cup win and who will also send out major contenders Catalina Cruiser (Union Rags, GI Dirt Mile) and Selcourt (Tiz Wonderful, GI F/M Sprint). Of Accelerate’s draw, he said, “At a mile and a quarter, you’re out in the clear and have plenty of time to make a trip. He’s got a good style; he doesn’t have to be way back, he can kind of press the pace if he wants–whatever [Joel] Rosario wants to do. That’s not a bad post at all.”

The Bob Baffert-trained duo of McKinzie (Street Sense, 6-1) and West Coast (Flatter, 5-1) drew next to each other in six and seven, respectively, while well-traveled Mind Your Biscuits (Posse, 6-1), the all-time richest New York-bred, will attempt

10 panels for the first time from stall 11.

“I kind of called 11 this morning,” said Mind Your Biscuits’s trainer Chad Summers. “We’re saddle towel ‘111’–there are a lot of ones going on… He’s a cool horse, and this is a dream come true. It’s kind of what the Breeders’ Cup is all about. When you buy a horse and you don’t make the GI Kentucky Derby, then this comes next.”

Back-to-back G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) will look to become the first horse to win that prestigious event and the GI Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same season. The shortest price on any of Mike Battaglia’s morning lines at even-money, she’ll break from gate two–just outside of last year’s upset winner Talismanic (GB) (Medaglia d’Oro).

The $2-million GI Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff features a clash of the last two GI Kentucky Oaks heroines back over the same track and trip, as leading sophomore filly Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) takes on her elders for the first time, including 2017 champion 3-year-old filly and Distaff runner-up Abel Tasman (Quality Road). The former, drawn in slot 11, was set as the 2-1 favorite as Abel Tasman looks to bounce back from an uncharacteristically dull effort last out in the GI Zenyatta S.

Back-to-back Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will run five in the $2-million GI Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup F/M Turf–the first time a conditioner has sent out five in a Breeders’ Cup race since D. Wayne Lukas did so when winning the 1988

GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, also contested at Churchill Downs.

For the first time, Friday’s Breeders’ Cup menu will feature all juvenile races–dubbed “Future Stars Friday”–including the inaugural running of the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. The $2-million GI Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies was the only juvenile race not to draw an overflow field, but the high-quality group will be led by 2-1 morning line choice Bellafina (Quality Road), who breaks from the far-outside 10 hole.

UnbeatenTDN Rising Star‘ Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg}) was given the 8-5 morning line nod in the GI Sentient Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as he looks to provide Baffert with a fourth win in that event.

Monday’s Trackside Breeders’ Cup Report

Mon, 2018-10-29 17:37

LOUISVILLE, Ky – With the iconic Twin Spires illuminated in Breeders’ Cup purple and the backstretch sky beginning to light up in stunning orange hues just before sunrise, the action began to pick up on a very brisk Monday morning at 7:30 a.m. at Churchill Downs.

The Classic-bound Gunnevera (Dialed In) was the first to grab the eye with his blue reins and bridle as Breeders’ Cup runners began to flood the track during the reserved private training window.

Yoshida (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry {Jpn}), two lengths to the good of that popular aforementioned chestnut while successfully switching to dirt in come-from-behind fashion in Saratoga’s GI Woodward S. Sept 1, stole the show during the pre-dawn training hours, breezing four furlongs in a visually impressive :49 3/5 with Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott keeping close tabs aboard his stable pony.

Two-time Canadian Classic winner and painful GI Kentucky Oaks runner-up ‘TDN Rising Star’ Wonder Gadot (Medaglia d’Oro was clearly in a playful mood as the mercury hovered in the low 40s, lunging and jumping multiple times down the lane and continuing on around the clubhouse turn.

Two very talented youngsters in 19 1/2-length GII Pocahontas S. heroine Serengeti Empress (Alternation) and GI Darley Alcibiades S. victress and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Restless Rider (Distorted Humor) shared the racetrack ahead of their highly anticipated showdown in Friday’s GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

All eyes were on the sensational dual G1 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) (Turf) as she had her ears up while taking in her new surroundings along with her John Gosden-trained stablemate and four-time Group 1 winner Roaring Lion (Kitten’s Joy) (Classic). Both merely just stretched their legs in the one-mile chute before heading back to the barn area. It was the pair’s first trip to the track after clearing the regulatory 48 hours in quarantine.

There were plenty of other notable European raiders out once the sun rose beneath cloudless skies, including: runaway G1 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow (Ire) (Helmet {Aus}) (Classic); G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest heroine Polydream (Ire) (Oasis Dream {GB}) (Mile); and MG1SW Waldgeist (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) (Turf).

The stunning, blaze-faced defending GI Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Talismanic (GB) (Medaglia d’Oro) proved well worth the wait taking a spin over the grass course as the remaining media flocked to the rail just before 10 a.m. The unbeaten 2-year-old East (GB) (Frankel {GB) (JFT) also made a favorable impression strutting her stuff over the lawn, too.

Other highlights from a busy Monday morning included a four-furlong breeze in :49 from Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute) (Distaff) shortly after the main track opened for business at 5:45 a.m. with owner Jeff Bloom in attendance.

Peter Leidel On Parting With Lady Aurelia

Mon, 2018-10-29 14:59

Over the past 25 years, Peter Leidel and his Yorktown Partners have invested in over 100 gas and oil companies in the United States. But it was his investment in one of the first Thoroughbreds he ever owned which has not only repaid him back in financial terms, but in pure joy. The TDN’s Patty Wolfe caught up with Leidel as he prepares to part with Lady Aurelia at this November’s Fasig-Tipton Night of the Stars.

TDN: Where did your original exposure to horse racing come from?

PL: I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, actually in suburban Maryland. I did go to some horse tracks when I was younger; Bowie, Laurel, and I went to a Preakness race when I was high school, so I got a little bit of a toe in the water with the horse racing world when I was younger. I lived overseas as well. My father was with the CIA and State Department, so we lived in Germany, Argentina, Mexico. He became an ambassador in Bahrain. I went to the Kentucky Derby in 2011 when Animal Kingdom won. It was a very exciting experience. Everybody should have the Kentucky Derby on their bucket list. It’s an incredible day. So that kind of whetted my appetite.

TDN: What has the experience has been like, owning Lady Aurelia?

PL: It has been an absolutely incredible experience. I’ve been to Europe four, five times for races, including three times to Royal Ascot. My son and one of my daughters were there for the King’s Stand and they had a blast. For a one-minute race, it’s a full day’s experience. From getting up at 10, leaving the hotel, arriving at the track, all the way through dinner, it’s 14 hours for one minute. But that minute lasts a lifetime.

TDN: Were you in Deauville when she won the Prix Morny?

PL: Yes, she had won the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot and we flew her over to Deauville. So she’d been back and forth to the United States twice. It’s a pretty challenging campaign for a two-year-old to fly back and forth to Europe twice. We were treated like royalty by the hosts there, France Galop, and she was kind of the star of the program. The one thing the man from France Galop said is that the field went down from 12 horses to five when they knew she was entering, because they knew that coming off the seven-length victory at Royal Ascot, that she was the heavy favorite. And she pulled away and she won that one. It was a closer race, but she won that Group 1, and it was again just a fantastic day. And that’s such a nice horse town and such a nice track. It was really a great experience.

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TDN: How lucky do you feel that you got to be involved in this horse?

PL: She’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse. I’d like to hope I find another one like her, but she’s the needle in the haystack. In her maiden race at Keeneland she set the track record for four-and-a-half furlongs and won by five lengths. And then onto Royal Ascot and Deauville and she won the European championship-the first time an American-bred horse had ever won the Cartier European championship for two-year-old fillies. That was a really special night as well, and a special award. It’s been a fantastic dream come true. I’ll have memories for a lifetime.

TDN: How many horses do you own now?

PL: I presently own nine horses, of which only two or three are racing. I have a couple of yearlings that are developing, and then I had a couple of weanlings that we were doing some pinhooking with. I have one racing in Australia and I guess I have two others racing here, so there’s three racing right now. But a couple of two-year-olds coming along that should start racing in the next month or so. So maybe I’ll have four or five racing shortly.

TDN: So you’ve caught the bug.

PL: I’ve caught the bug. I try to go the races as often as I can. One of the great aspects of horse racing are the people who are involved, the other owners. I have great co-owners, Barbara Banke and George Bolton. You couldn’t ask for better owners. The trainers, getting to know guys like Wesley Ward. We now have a couple horses with Chad Brown and Christophe Clement. I mean, just a great group of people. Even the jockeys; I got to meet Frankie Dettori and share a glass of champagne with him. Johnny Velasquez. So it’s just a fun environment. And, you know, it’s much more fun when you win, but even when you don’t, being at the track for a great day, whether it’s Saratoga or whether it’s Belmont or whether it’s Royal Ascot, it’s just a fun experience.

TDN: Do you have a model for your involvement? What is your plan?

PL: One, I like to own horses with partners. You can diversify and own more horses, but it’s also fun to have a partner and kind of share the thrills and have somebody support you if you have some setbacks. I do own a couple of horses 100%, but it’s almost more fun to have partners. And if you just have a couple of partners, you’re still a full owner and you’re still involved in the big decisions, you know, what to name it, which trainer do you use, sometimes which races to enter. When to sell, things like that. So I think that’s the ideal way. I’ve had much more luck with the fillies than I have with the colts, with Lady Aurelia being the best one, but I had a couple of other stakes-winning fillies. I haven’t yet had my big colt, but I’m trying. I’m not really in the breeding end of the business. I basically buy horses to race. That didn’t appeal to me, so we just decided that it was time to sell and make her part of somebody else’s broodmare band. I think she’ll be the crown jewel of any stable. She’s got and incredible pedigree. I think she’s going to be a fabulous mare for a lucky owner.

TDN: Has owning horses changed your life? And in what way?

PL: It has brought a whole different dimension into my life. A fun dimension. It’s a way, at my age, that you can vicariously or indirectly participate in top-level sports, and even though I’m physically not an athlete anymore, it’s fun to be in some of the big horse festivals. It has really brought another dimension to my life, and I’ve met some fabulous people through it. My family loves the horses as well. My son has become a real expert. At the auctions, he does all his analysis, but he follows it very closely, he gets to more races than I do, actually. My daughter, Jennifer, also loves it. Who can’t love the experience, really? It’s a lot of fun, so the family, my wife, also enjoy it. It’s a great family activity.

TDN: Have you brought any other people into the sport?

PL: Other than my family, not yet, but I do have some friends in the oil business who are getting very interested in it, and I think very soon I’ll have some new co-owners. They’ve been to the Kentucky Derby, we’ve had some get togethers at Keeneland, and they all enjoy it a lot. So I think I’ll soon have some new owners to introduce to the sport. Even if you don’t get the thrill of owning a champion like Lady Aurelia, there’s a lot of fun in the sport. Winning any race is a lot of fun. It’s competitive, but it’s rewarding, and I’ve just had so many great experiences in the seven or eight years I’ve been involved in horse racing. I hope I get another one half as good as Lady Aurelia.

Temple City’s Dunph Runs Up the Score in Spendthrift Stakes

Sun, 2018-10-28 17:59

Dunph, an 8 1/2-length Penn National romper going a main-track mile Sept. 15, handled the move to a bigger stage with aplomb Sunday to crush his competition in this event restricted to Spendthrift Farm-sired horses. Transferred from Tim Kreiser to Mike Maker and with Three Diamonds Farm added to the ownership line since the unveiling, the striking dark bay stalked from second while always traveling sweetly. Given his cue by Tyler Gaffalione in upper stretch, he quickly spurted away from his competition with impressive ease and ran up the score from there.

“The horse broke really sharp and I got into the spot I wanted,” said pilot Tyler Gaffalione, fresh off winning the riding title at the recently concluded Keeneland meet. “When I turned for home, I still had a ton of horse left. I think he’ll just keep getting better as the distances get longer. I think I like it here in Kentucky.”

Maker added, “That was very impressive. He’s been doing well over at Trackside and has a very bright future.”

Dunph’s yearling half-sister by Medal Count was bought back for $27,000 at last week’s Fasig-Tipton October sale. His third dam is Canadian Horse of the Year and champion 2-year-old filly Ruling Angel (Vice Regent).

SPENDTHRIFT JUVENILE STALLION S., (NB) $150,000, Churchill Downs, 10-28, (C), 2yo, 7f, 1:23.20, ft.
1–DUNPH, 120, g, 2, by Temple City
1st Dam: Skymynx, by Sky Mesa
2nd Dam: Goodeve, by Pleasant Colony
3rd Dam: Ruling Angel, by Vice Regent
($20,000 RNA Ylg ’17 FTKJUL; $18,000 RNA Ylg ’17 FTKTUR;
$27,500 2yo ’18 OBSMAR). O-Three Diamonds Farm & Joseph
Besecker; B-Equus Farm (KY); T-Michael J. Maker; J-Tyler
Gaffalione. $89,280. Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0, $105,540.
2–Naughty Joker, 115, f, 2, Into Mischief–Fleeting Humor, by
Distorted Humor. O/B-Kenneth L. & Sarah K. Ramsey (KY);
T-Wesley A. Ward. $28,800.
3–Into the South, 117, f, 2, Into Mischief–Southbound, by
Southern Image. ($35,000 RNA Ylg ’17 KEESEP).
O/B-Merriebelle Stable, LLC (KY); T-Ignacio Correas, IV.
$14,400.
Margins: 7 3/4, HD, 3/4. Odds: 4.40, 3.60, 8.40.
Also Ran: Kajawa, Gentle Warrior, Casa Creed, B. B. Dude, Achilles Warrior, Distorted Jimmy. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Week in Review: Rainbow Heir Returns from Stud Duty for Breeders’ Cup

Sun, 2018-10-28 16:58

When the pre-entries were announced for this year’s Breeders’ Cup, the presence of Rainbow Heir (Wildcat Heir) went largely ignored. That wasn’t exactly a surprise since he’ll go in one of the less glamorous races on the Saturday card, the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, and he’s never even run in a Grade I race.

But what many probably did not know is that he is a racing oddity, a horse that has returned to run in the Breeders’ Cup after standing a successful season at stud.

The 8-year-old New Jersey-bred appeared to have ended his racing career on a good note. He was retired after winning the Jan. 27 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint. He recorded a career high 106 Beyer figure that day in what was his second straight stakes win for the owner, Eb Novak’s New Farm and trainer Jason Servis.

His stud fee was set at $3,500 and he went to Ocala Stud in Florida. According to Novak, he was bred to “about 40 mares.” There were no set plans to bring Rainbow Heir back to the races, but Novak never forgot a conversation he had with Servis the year before.

“I wanted to run him in the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar last year,” Servis said. “Ebby didn’t want to do it and said we were going to run him at Gulfstream and then get ready to retire him instead. I told him, ‘You’ve got to be kidding; this horse has all these 100-plus Beyer numbers and he’s never been doing better.’ I guess he got tired of all my whining, so he made me a deal. He said that if we sent him to stud and he was doing well afterward, he’d give me the chance to run him in the Breeders’ Cup this year.”

Back in training, they brought him along slowly and he passed every test.

“He’s doing fine, he’s healthy, he’s a beautiful horse,” Novak said.

Servis had Rainbow Heir ready ro run in the Sept. 3 GII Turf Monster at Parx, where he ran third, beaten three-quarters of a length with Trevor McCarthy aboard. His Beyer number declined to a 96, but Novak said that the race was better than it looks on paper.

“He should have won that race,” Novak said. “He was blocked in and had to go around all those horses. The rider didn’t have him in a good spot. He pulled him back and he came running and we lost the race by less than a length. He was flying at the end. Jason was really pleased. He said after it was over, ‘He’s in great shape, he’s doing good, let’s go for the Breeders’ Cup.'”

Novak understands that he is making an unconventional move and also acknowledges that this could not be done with just any horse. In Rainbow Heir, he believes he has the horse with the demeanor to pull this off.

“He’s a very calm, controlled horse,” Novak said. “I’m not saying you could ride him next to a broodmare and he wouldn’t get excited, but he’s not a high-strung, hard horse to handle. He’s a very intelligent horse. I’ve had studs that were nuts. Once they start breeding their heads go crazy and that’s all they can think of. They’re like guys at a bar. This horse isn’t like that at all.”

Said Servis: “You see this horse now, you’d have no idea he was bred to 40 mares.”

Novak, 80, has been a fixture in New Jersey racing for decades. He said he grew up wanting to be a cowboy, but instead, at age 23, started Unique Industries, a global party supply manufacturing company. His roots, when it come to Rainbow Heir, run deep. Novak campaigned his grandsire Forest Wildcat (Storm Cat), a multiple Grade III winner. Forest Wildcat is the sire of Wildcat Heir (Forest Wildcat), the winner of the 2004 GI DeFrancis Memorial Dash and another horse who ran under Novak’s purple colors. As a sire, Wildcat Heir kept things rolling, producing, among others, Rainbow Heir.

What Novak is doing is not a first. There are no records available when it comes to horses that went to stud only to return for the Breeders’ Cup, but at least one prominent horse does come to mind. Bertrando (Skywalker) began his stud career in 1994 and was brought back after the breeding season. He was the champion older male in 1993 and ran second that year in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic. After stud duty, he did win the GII Goodwood, but was but two for eight overall and finished sixth in the 1994 Classic.

As long as his stint as a stud has not affected his ability to run, Rainbow Heir looks like a legitimate contender in the Turf Sprint. Disco Partner (Disco Rico) is the only horse in the prospective field with a higher lifetime Beyer number on the grass.

“I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked if he were to win,” Servis said. “He’s got seven Beyer numbers over 100 and I’ve got the leading rider [Jose Ortiz] in the country on him. This horse is very live.”

Novak said this will definitely be Rainbow Heir’s last race. A victory, he said, would result in an increase to his stud fee.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my business,” he said. “I live well and will live well no matter what he does in this race. I know I’m taking a chance. You take a chance any time you run a horse. Why not give him this opportunity? He deserves it.”

Cot Campbell’s Legacy

Cot Campbell, who passed away Saturday at age 91, will be remembered for many things. His Dogwood Stable won Triple Crown races with Palace Malice (Curlin) and Summer Squall (Storm Bird) and it owned 1996 champion 2-year-old filly Storm Song (Summer Squall). But more so than anything else he was an innovator who changed the sport for the better. It seems inconceivable now, but there was no such thing as race horse partnership groups before Campbell came along in 1969 and started syndicating horses and then created Dogwood. Dogwood was the first of its kind and launched the numerous partnerships groups that now are such a big part of the sport.

Perhaps someone else would have come around eventually with the same idea, but Campbell was the one who started it all. With partnerships now such a prominent part of the sport, he is directly and indirectly responsible for getting thousands of people into ownership that otherwise may have not done so.

Campbell was also one to always take a chance with someone he thought was an up-and-coming star in the trainers ranks.

“He gave a lot of young trainers over the years an opportunity and a chance to prove themselves,” said Todd Pletcher, who trained Palace Malice.

Pletcher, no doubt, would have been a success without Campbell’s help, but Dogwood certainly gave him a boost. When he went out on his own in 1996 Dogwood was among the first major owners to give him quality horses.

Trainers Who’ve Been There From Day One

It was 34 years ago when the inaugural Breeders’ Cup was run at Hollywood Park. Chad Brown was five years old on that day.

No jockeys that rode on the inaugural card will ride in this year’s Breeders’ Cup, but three trainers who participated that day will take part this year. They are Wayne Lukas, Richard Mandella and John Gosden. With Gosden having the likely favorite in the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf in Enable (Nathaniel {Ire}) and Classic starter Roaring Lion (Kitten’s Joy), he very well could accomplish the rare feat of having won in the first Breeders’ Cup, with Royal Heroine, and the most recent edition.

Baffert Begins Churchill Invasion Early as POTN Filly Takes Rags to Riches

Sun, 2018-10-28 16:55

Mother Mother, named a TDN Rising Starfor a 6 1/2-length debut drubbing at Del Mar July 22, was last seen finishing second to leading GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies contender Bellafina (Quality Road) in the GI Del Mar Debutante Sept. 1. Adding blinkers while getting a touch of class relief and an extra furlong to work with here, the $450,000 KEESEP yearling seized early command with the wind at her back through splits of :22.55 and :45.16. Longshot Molto Bella tried to make a race of it in the stretch, but Mother Mother shut the door and continued on comfortably to the wire with High Regard further spicing up the trifecta. Chocolate Kisses (Candy Ride {Arg}) dropped her rider at the start. The winner’s dam visited Bernardini this breeding season.

RAGS TO RICHES S., $100,500, Churchill Downs, 10-28, 2yo, f, 1m, 1:36.72, ft.
1–MOTHER MOTHER, 118, f, 2, by Pioneerof the Nile
1st Dam: Mother, by Lion Hearted
2nd Dam: Proper Lassie, by Topsider
3rd Dam: Proper Miss, by Tom Rolfe
TDN Rising Star($450,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP). 1ST BLACK-TYPE
WIN. O-George Bolton, Barry Hall, Barry Lipman, Mark
Mathiesen & Andrew Molasky; B-T F Van Meter (KY); T-Bob
Baffert; J-Florent Geroux. $61,503. Lifetime Record: 3-2-1-0,
$157,503.
2–Molto Bella, 118, f, 2, Violence–Dr. Zic, by Milwaukee Brew.
($60,000 Ylg ’17 FTKFEB; $100,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O-Six
Column Stables, LLC & Randall L. Bloch; B-SF Racing Group Inc
(KY); T-Ian R. Wilkes. $19,926.
>3–High Regard, 118, f, 2, Will Take Charge–Highest Class, by
Mineshaft. ($115,000 Wlg ’16 KEENOV; $160,000 Ylg ’17
KEESEP). O-G. Watts Humphrey, Jr.; B-Coteau Grove Farms
(KY); T-Victoria H. Oliver. $9,963.
Margins: 1 3/4, 2HF, 10 3/4. Odds: 1.70, 26.80, 13.70.
Also Ran: Princesa Carolina, Take Charge Angel, Into Mystic, Chocolate Kisses. Scratched: Love My Honey, My Wynter Rose.
Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

 

Verrazano Filly Goes Wire-to-Wire in Chelsey Flower

Sun, 2018-10-28 14:34

Seek and Destroy got out to the front and never looked back to capture the off-the-turf Chelsey Flower S. Sunday at Belmont. Third in a washed-off Saratoga debut Aug. 5, the bay was sixth on the Spa lawn Sept. 3 before romping in another off-the-turf spot here Oct. 8. Made the second choice in this non-black-type event, she showed the way through splits of :23.76 and :48.11, skipped clear past mid-stretch and never faced a serious challenge. Hollywood Glory was second-best. The victress has a weanling full-sister and her dam was bred to Kitten’s Joy this term. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

CHELSEY FLOWER S., (NB) $100,000, Belmont, 10-28, 2yo, f, 1m (off turf), 1:39.78, sy.
1–SEEK AND DESTROY, 118, f, 2, by Verrazano
1st Dam: Search and Seizure, by War Chant
2nd Dam: Search Party, by Seeking the Gold
3rd Dam: Deputation, by Deputy Minister
($425,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O-e Five Racing Thoroughbreds;
B-William B. Harrigan (KY); T-Chad C. Brown; J-Javier
Castellano. $55,000. Lifetime Record: 4-2-0-0, $101,860. *1/2
to Tammy the Torpedo (More Than Ready), MGSW, $355,530.
2–Hollywood Glory, 118, f, 2, Maclean’s Music–Marcellina
d’Oro, by Medaglia d’Oro. ($180,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP).
O-Courtlandt Farms (Donald and Donna Adam); B-Stonestreet
Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY); T-Mark A. Hennig. $20,000.
3–Take Ten, 116, f, 2, Uncle Mo–Savviest, by El Corredor.
($180,000 Wlg ’16 KEENOV; $350,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP).
O-Courtlandt Farms (Donald and Donna Adam); B-A. T. Brede
& Ashford Stud (KY); T-Mark A. Hennig. $12,000.
Margins: 3HF, 6 1/4, 6HF. Odds: 2.85, 6.20, 4.80.
Also Ran: Two Dozen Roses, Shoobiedoobydoo, Tweety Kitten. Scratched: Lucky Lips, On the Town, Sweet Timing, Stormy D, Multi Strategy.

Deja Vu for Simon Callaghan in Bid for First Breeders’ Cup Win

Sun, 2018-10-28 14:05

If Simon Callaghan believes in deja vu, he’s sure experiencing a heady dose of it right now.

This time last year, Callaghan had in his barn the favorite for the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies–Moonshine Memories. After breaking her maiden, the daughter of Malibu Moon harvested all available scalps in a couple of top flight 2-year-old contests, the GI Del Mar Debutante S. and the GI Chandelier S.

The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies was the next assignment, and for some who were looking to nail down a sure bet for the two-day spectacle, Moonshine Memories was their gal.

Cut to 12 months later, and Callaghan has in his barn the favorite for this year’s GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies–Bellafina. After breaking her maiden in the GII Sorrento S. in August, this daughter of Quality Road harvested all available scalps in a couple of top flight 2-year-old contests, the GI Del Mar Debutante S. and the GI Chandelier S.

The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies is her next assignment, and for some who are looking to nail down a sure bet for this year’s two-day spectacle, Bellafina is their gal.

“This is a better filly,” admitted Callaghan, an ex-Brit, one morning at Santa Anita recently, about the younger of his two stablemates. “[The Juvenile Fillies] is just the perfect kind of race. She’s coming into it in great form, and I feel that she’s the deserving favorite.”

Rewind once again to last year, and Callaghan’s contender deviated from script, breaking sharp to lead the field for the first half of the race before dropping back through the pack. Her trainer, however, notes some important distinctions between the two that leaves him hopeful for recompense.

“They’re two very different types of fillies,” he said. “In hindsight, that distance was probably a little bit too far for Moonshine Memories.”

While Moonshine Memories is cut more from the pocket-rocket mold of racehorse, precocious and speedy, Kaleem Shah’s Bellafina is rangier, scopier–a horse to pin hopes for the future on.

“I mean, I think with all the Quality Roads, they just get better with age,” said Callaghan. “She’s actually really grown, muscled up, and she’s developed physically from race to race. She looks like a 3-year-old colt almost already. She’s a big, strong, tough, masculine type of filly. I believe she’s just going to keep getting better and better. I think we will probably see the very best of her when she’s a 3-year-old.”

Take nothing away from her 2-year-old career, mind you.

A decent second on her debut at Los Alamitos in July, she returned a reformed pupil next time out in the Sorrento S. at Del Mar, disposing of a large field by 4 1/4 lengths, leading virtually gate-to-wire. Next up came the Del Mar Debutante S., when she put a five-strong field to bed in similar fashion. After that, she came back to produce an even more visually impressive performance in the Chandelier S.

“Everyone said that the final quarter [of the Chandelier] wasn’t very fast, but the track was so deep that day and they went off fast and there was nothing really catching her,” Callaghan said. “She can only beat what’s put in front of her and I think she’s answered every question.”

A “smart filly” not shy of advertising her well-being–“she can be a little tough to gallop because she just wants to get on with it”–the key, he said, to the Chandelier was the manner in which she relaxed around the two turns. “We’ve seen, obviously in the races in the summer, that she’s got lots of natural speed, but she had yet to prove her stamina over the extra distance.”

All of which bodes well for the Juvenile Fillies, over 1 1/16 miles, and a race that–surprisingly for a Breeders’ Cup that’s turned into something of a popularity contest–has come up a little light in numbers, with just 11 pre-entries. Not that Callaghan confuses quantity for quality.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a field, but I think the fillies that are going into it are all really good,” he said. “I think it’s a going to be a very good race.”

Top of the pack is Kenny McPeek’s Restless Rider (Distorted Humor), impressive winner of a big-field GI Darley Alcibiades S. at Keeneland last time out. “She’s the one that worries me the most.”

Gary Contessa’s Sippican Harbor (Orb) beat Restless Rider in this summer’s GI Spinaway S. While Tom Amoss’s Serengeti Empress (Alternation) proved well named in the GII Pocahontas S. at Churchill Downs, storming away with the race like a runaway freight train.

“It’s tough when you’re trying to equate the form here on the West Coast to the East Coast–you don’t really know,” Callaghan said. “But we’ve got lots of respect for the other fillies in the race, naturally.”

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Hovering as a proverbial and literal dark cloud over the whole two-day event is the meteorological unpredictability of Kentucky in November.

“[Rain is] obviously a possibility when you go back east this time of year, but I really don’t feel an off-track would be something that would inhibit her chances,” he said. “I know a few of the sons and daughters of Quality Road have won on off-tracks. With this filly, I just don’t think it’s a problem.”

If it isn’t indeed a problem, and Bellafina performs as connections expect she does, it would add a tasty garnish to what has already proven a very satisfying season for Team Callaghan. Aside from Bellafina’s exploits, he has sent out Kaleem Shah’s American Gal (Concord Point) to nab Grade I honors in the Humana Distaff S. at Churchill Downs.

He’s also picked up graded stake trophies with Beau Recall (Ire) and Treasuring (GB), horses by Sir Prancealot (Ire) and Havana Gold (Ire) respectively–perhaps not the most fashionable of stallions back home in Europe, where they stand, and yet, “sometimes you get those sires that, maybe like you said, aren’t top shelf, but they come to California and they just really sort of seem to improve,” he explained.

A good season made great by a Breeders’ Cup win? What trainer would turn their nose up at that? For Callaghan, it would mark his first Breeders’ Cup victory after just eight full seasons with a license. But there’s another major contest equally as alluring to any self-respecting handler. And Callaghan singled out a couple of his 2-year-olds that have him dreaming of a return to Churchill Downs next May.

One of them, he said, is a colt by Algorithms called Value Play. “He’s the one that we have high hopes for.”

The other is a Will Take Charge colt called Stretford End who ran a fine second on his debut in September. “I think he’s going to be a really nice horse for the future as well.”

A Derby win would, of course, be vindication for a narrow eclipse in the race more than three years ago, when Firing Line came within a head of spoiling American Pharoah’s Triple Crown coronation before it had even begun.

“Looking forward to seeing how he does at stud,” said Callaghan, about his former charge. “I think he’s got a chance to really throw some good horses. You know, the whole Derby experience just makes you want to get back there again. This time of year, it’s always really hard to tell who’s the best, but….” and he let the thought trail off.

All that, however, is for the distant–and yet not too far-off–future to determine. More immediately, there’s the events of next weekend to contend with. Whatever happens, Callaghan will afterwards give Bellafina a little R & R, “just let her sort of decompress. She’s obviously already achieved a lot, and we’ll just take our time with her and work backwards from the [GI Kentucky] Oaks, probably look to be having one or two races prior to the Oaks.”

As it happens, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies has a good record when it comes to the Oaks–in 34 runnings of the 2-year-old contest, the race has produced 11 winners of the filly’s Classic. Though only two, Silverbulletday and Open Mind, have clinched both.

“I really feel that we’re bringing the best horse we have into the Breeders’ Cup this year,” said Callaghan. “I think we’ve learned a lot and I think this year we can pull it off.”

Cot Campbell Passes Away

Sat, 2018-10-27 18:28

Lifelong horseman W. Cothran Campbell passed away Saturday afternoon at his home in Aiken, South Carolina. He was 91. The founder of Dogwood Stable, and widely considered the progenitor of present day racing partnerships, Campbell developed the reputation of turning modestly priced horses into winners.

Born Sept. 27, 1927 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Campbell began syndicating horses in 1969 shortly before launching the Dogwood partnership in Georgia. Based in Aiken, South Carolina since the mid-1980s, Dogwood Stable became irrevocably bound to the Palmetto State through the decades. With over 80 stakes wins to its credit, Dogwood campaigned a bevy of graded stakes winners, including Classic winners Palace Malice (Curlin), winner of the 2013 GI Belmont S., and 1990 GI Preakness S. hero Summer Squall (Storm Bird). Additionally, Dogwood developed a pair of champions–the outstanding juvenile filly of 1996 Storm Song and Inlander, 1987 American Steeplechase Horse of the Year. The operation also raced Grade I winners Nassipour (Blushing Groom {Fr}) and Southjet (Northjet {Ire}) and graded scorers Smok’n Frolic (Smoke Glacken), Limehouse (Grand Slam), Trippi (End Sweep) and Aikenite (Yes It’s True).

Campbell, who was honored as a ‘Pillar of the Turf’ during his induction to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs this past August, has amassed an impressive string of honors and accomplishments during a career that spans a half century. A member of The Jockey Club, Campbell was the 2004 Thoroughbred Club of America’s Honored Guest and that same season, was a Saratoga Walk of Fame honoree. He was the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce’s Man of the Year in 2006 and the following year, was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. Awarded an Eclipse Award of Merit in 2012, he was named the Aiken Standard Person of the Year in 2013.

“I’m honored to be a Pillar of the Turf and I’m flabbergasted to be a Pillar of the Turf,” Campbell said during his Hall of Fame induction in August. “Much of my superb life is due to racing horses…I am probably the only person in this building-or maybe this town-who ever saw Man o’ War. I want to thank Man o’ War because he lit the fuse that caused me to pursue this wonderful life.”

Following almost five decades in operation and having conveyed over 1,200 partners through the Dogwood partnership, Campbell sold the operation’s stable client list in 2013 to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. However, he continued to campaign horses in subsequent years.

“I’ve had an absolutely wonderful life,” Campbell told the Aiken Standard in May. “A hell of a lot of it is due to the lady I married [Ann Campbell]. And a hell of a lot of it is due to the horses. My career in racing has taken me to Japan and Dubai, and all over Europe. I’ve done business with the Aga Khan, Queen Elizabeth and Sheikh Mohammed. My life has been adventurous, glamorous, exciting and tumultuous. And no one could be more aware of it and more appreciative.”

Super Saver Colt Rallies to ‘Rising Stardom’

Sat, 2018-10-27 17:33

Robert LaPenta’s So Alive (Super Saver) appeared to be struggling with the muddy surface at Keeneland most of the way around, but he came alive late to register a ‘TDN Rising Star’-worthy victory Saturday. A half-brother to GII Wood Memorial S.-winning stablemate Vino Rosso (Curlin), $842,500, the juvenile was hammered down to 3-2 favoritism for this career bow for trainer Todd Pletcher, who has been on fire at the Keeneland fall meet. A bit slow to get going, the bay saved ground near the back of the pack as the runaway leaders zipped through a first quarter in :22.22 and a half in :45.97. The $160,000 KEESEP buy appeared to be spinning his wheels at the top of the stretch, but suddenly kicked it into high gear in the final furlong, weaving between rivals late to get up just in time for a neck success. Tapizars Secret (Tapizar) completed the exacta.

Breeder John Gunther bought Mythical Bride for just $42,000 at the 2011 Keeneland November Sale and she has been quite productive for his operation. Her second foal Vino Rosso was a $410,000 yearling and was a contender on this year’s Triple Crown trail. His part owner Mike Repole bought Mythical Bride’s yearling colt by Pioneerof the Nile for $350,000 at KEENOV last term and resold him to Coolmore for $575,000 at this year’s KEESEP sale. The 10-year-old mare produced an Uncle Mo colt Apr. 30 of this year and was bred back to Curlin. Mythical Bride is a half-sister to MSW & GSP Flaming Heart (Touch Gold), who is the dam of MGSW & GISP WinStar sire Commissioner (A.P. Indy) and GSW & GISP Laugh Track (Distorted Humor).

5th-Keeneland, $65,582, Msw, 10-27, 2yo, 6f, 1:11.21, my.
SO ALIVE, c, 2, Super Saver
1st Dam: Mythical Bride, by Street Cry (Ire)
2nd Dam: Flaming Heart, by Touch Gold
3rd Dam: Hot Lear, by Lear Fan
Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $40,200. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

O-Robert V. LaPenta; B-John D. Gunther (KY); T-Todd Pletcher.

 

Breeders’ Cup Bulletin: Saturday, Oct. 27

Sat, 2018-10-27 17:16

In stark contrast to weather patterns plaguing the central and eastern part of the country, Saturday morning in Arcadia, California dawned sunny and warm as several Breeders’ Cup contenders put in their final works ahead of the Championships next weekend. Heading the cast was Classic favorite Accelerate (Lookin At Lucky) (video), who went six furlongs under John Sadler assistant Juan Leyva in 1:12.80. The four-time Grade I winner covered five furlongs in 1:00.80 with a seven furlong gallop out of 1:26.20, according to Santa Anita clockers. Sadler also sent undefeated GI Dirt Mile favorite Catalina Cruiser (Union Rags) (video), who negotiated five furlongs in :59.80; and GI Filly & Mare Sprint contender Selcourt (Tiz Wonderful) (video) the same distance in 1:00.40. Both Catalina Cruiser and Selcourt have recorded back-to-back graded stakes wins heading in next week’s races. All three horses are scheduled to depart for Kentucky today, as is Sadler. “Accelerate’s work was super-duper, but all went really well,” enthused Sadler. “It was a good morning. I’m happy with all of them.”

Bob Baffert has another busy day Saturday, highlighted by workouts by Classic contenders Gary and Mary West’s West Coast (Flatter) and Watson/Pegram/Weitman’s McKinzie (Street Sense). West Coast (video) breezed four furlongs in company with unraced juvenile Trojan Magic (Twirling Candy). They were timed in :47.20 and :47.40, respectively. McKinzie , in company with Dabster (Curlin), covered five furlongs in a minute flat while his year-older stablemate completed the task in :59.60. McKinzie was partnered by Joe Talamo, who would ride last year’s GI Pacific Classic winner Collected for Baffert in the 10-furlong test should the colt draw into the field. Drayden Van Dyke worked West Coast. Also working for Baffert Saturday, GI Filly & Mare Sprint favorite Marley’s Freedom (Blame) (video), in tandem with workmate Super Sol (Awesome Again), went four furlongs in a bullet :47 flat. They were the fastest of 53 drills at the distance.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer sent out Juvenile aspirants GI American Pharoah runner-up Gunmetal Gray (Exchange Rate) and recent maiden scorer Dueling (Violence) at Santa Anita Saturday morning. The duo completed their respective tasks in :48.60 and :49.40. “Both riders were happy,” Hollendorfer said, alluding to Flavien Prat on Gunmetal Gray and Freddie Rodriguez aboard Dueling. “We’re all set to go.” The 2-year-olds are scheduled to ship early today, while Hollendorfer will leave on Monday.

Prior to Santa Anita’s first race Friday, Classic longshot Pavel (Creative Cause) worked seven furlongs in 1:26.45 under regular rider Mario Gutierrez. Winner of the June 16 GI Stephen Foster H. at Churchill Downs, the Doug O’Neill trainee recorded fractional times of :24.87, :49.87 and 1:14.37. “He’s got a win over the track, so we’re looking at all the positive aspects,” O’Neill said. “He’s had a little breather since the Pacific Classic [a distant second to Accelerate Aug. 18] and he’s doing well.”

Working in company over the muddy Churchill Downs main track, GI Breeders’ Cup Classic contender Axelrod (Warrior’s Reward) and Vibrance (Violence), slated to contest the GI Juvenile Fillies following a runner-up finish in the GI Chandelier Sept. 29, completed their championship preparations with a half-mile move in :48.40 Saturday morning. Internal fractions for the work were :12.20, 24.20, :36.20 and with both going out five furlongs. Dual graded stakes winner Axelrod rounded out six furlongs in 1:14.60; and Vibrance in 1:14.80, according to Churchill Downs Clocker John Nichols. “I just wanted them to stretch their legs,” trainer Michael McCarthy explained. “Conditions were not ideal weather wise but I knew they would do a good job with the track. I was more than pleased with the works.” Runner-up in the GI Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 22, Axelrod was partner by jockey Jose Ortiz in yesterday’s work and will be reunited with Joe Bravo in the Classic.

Tommie Lewis, David Bernsen and Magdalena Racing’s GI Breeders’ Futurity runner-up Signalman (General Quarters) completed his GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile preparations with a four-furlong move in :47.60 Saturday morning at Churchill Downs. Breezing with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. in the saddle, Signalman began his work one length behind stablemate Math Major (four furlongs in :48) through opening splits of :11.60 and :23, before finishing one length in front on the five-furlong gallop out in 1:01 and completing six furlongs in 1:15.

Impact Thoroughbreds and Madaket Stables’ Reflect (Trappe Shot) worked five furlongs in 1:00 over a track rated as sloppy after the first renovation break Saturday morning. Accompanied by Jose Ortiz aboard, Reflect carved out fractions of :12.40, 23.40, 35.40, :47.60 and 1:00 with gallop-out times of 1:13.60 and 1:27.80 for six and seven furlongs. “I liked it; she did it pretty easy,” said Julie Clark, assistant to trainer Keith Desormeaux. “Jose liked her last week too [a half-mile in :48.40 Oct. 20]. He said she does it so easy and feels like there is another gear there.” Ortiz will ride the Oct. 5 GI Alcibiades runner-up for the first time in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Trainer Tom Amoss confirmed Saturday that G M B Racing’s Lone Sailor (Majestic Warrior) would be entered in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic. Winner of the GIII Oklahoma Derby last time, Lone Sailor was pre-entered in the Classic as well as the GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, but Amoss said the determining factor was the pace setup for the Classic. James Graham, who has ridden Lone Sailor five times including the Oklahoma Derby victory, will have the mount in the Classic.

Calumet Farm’s Derby Date (Will Take Charge) worked a half-mile in :48.20 Saturday morning at Churchill Downs. It was the third fastest of 24 at the distance on the day. Previously sitting on among the also eligibles, the D. Wayne Lukas trainee appears likely to enter the GI Juvenile fray following the defection of Trophy Chaser (Twirling Candy), who is now expected to enter in the Street Sense S. Nov. 2.

 

Small Time Goes Big

Sat, 2018-10-27 14:02

Ocala horseman Bert Pilcher figured a clever way to breed a Breeders’ Cup favorite. Take a free mare, a free stallion season, foal an undersized pocket rocket dismissed by many, and turn loose one of the fastest horses we’ve seen in some time. That’s the story of Imperial Hint (Imperialism), who has belied an unfashionable pedigree to become a dual Grade I winner…and the early choice to go one better than his second in last year’s GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

“This little horse…he’s a dream,” Pilcher said of Imperial Hint, who is owned by Raymond Mamone and trained by Luis Carvajal, Jr. “We went to the Breeders’ Cup with him last year and he ran his heart out, that little son of a gun. He’s a real tough competitor.”

Yes he is. Beaten a length by eventual champion Roy H (More Than Ready) in the 2017 Sprint, Imperial Hint has bounced back with a sparkling 2018 campaign. He’s gone four for five on the year, and his last two wins—a first Grade I win in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt S. at Saratoga July 28 and a second in the Vosburgh S. at Belmont Sept. 29—were accomplished with dominant ease. Imperial Hint earned a 108 Beyer in the Vanderbilt, and he surely would have shaded 1:08 in the Vosburgh had he not been taken in hand in the final sixteenth.

Imperial Hint’s recent humbling of his rivals leaves Pilcher awestruck.

“Really, truly, I’m not going to lie—it freaks me out when I see it because I think, ‘How is he doing that to those kind of horses?'” Pilcher said.

And to think Pilcher bred Imperial Hint almost by accident.

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Ocala Roots…

Bert Pilcher is an Ocala hardboot if there every was one. His father was a groom at Ocala Stud and Bert grew up learning the ropes from some of Florida’s best horsemen.

The Pilcher family founded Shade Tree Thoroughbreds, a small farm located 20 miles northwest of Ocala, in 1980.

“We built the barns, the fences, everything, and we’ve raised horses here for that length of time,” said Pilcher. “It’s been a fun life doing something that you like, because I really enjoy horses. It’s a job, and it takes a lot of time, but there’s a lot of satisfaction in it when you get a good horse.”

Pilcher thought he had a horse of a lifetime when he came up with Three Rules (Gone Astray), who in 2016 won his first five races, including three straight Florida Sire Stakes. Three Rules ran sixth in that year’s GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 7-1, and last year was third in the GII Fountain of Youth S. That may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but for a blue-collar horseman, Three Rules was a dream come true.

Then came Imperial Hint.

An early client of Shade Tree’s was Imperial Hint’s owner Raymond Mamone. Back in the mid-oughts, Mamone retired a third-generation homebred filly named Royal Hint (Lahint) to Shade Tree and bred from her a quartet of modest performers. Royal Hint was never an easy mare to get in foal, however, and when she didn’t produce a foal in 2011 or 2012, Mamone gave her to Shade Tree.

Around the same time, Pilcher won a free season to the Langfuhr stallion Imperialism, who was standing at nearby Get Away Farm. Imperialism was a long-winded, one-paced sort of runner who finished third in the GI Kentucky Derby in 2004. But if his accomplishments weren’t all that flashy, he had one thing Pilcher was looking for as a cross for his new acquisition: the genes of his grandsire Danzig.

“I had always tried to talk Mr. Mamone into breeding her to a Danzig-line horse,” said Pilcher. “Now, this sounds crazy, and don’t ask me why, but every time I would look at that mare, I would think, ‘She needs some Danzig.'”

He found it in Imperialism, and the result was a beautifully shaped colt later named Imperial Hint. Beautifully shaped…but small.

As Pilcher tells it, people would stop by the farm and comment on the handsome colt before shrugging their shoulders and adding, “But he’s a little guy.”

“That’s been his thing his whole life,” said Pilcher. “He was the little guy. When he was a baby, he’d get in the middle of the pack and fight with the rest of them just like it didn’t bother him, his size. He don’t know he’s small. He thinks he’s one of the guys.”

Imperial Hint showed some early promise as a 2-year-old, enough that Pilcher initially planned to put him into training himself, but not so much that he didn’t entertain offers. Some people came and looked. They liked the colt. Too small, ultimately, was the verdict.

Even Mamone, down one day in search of young runners with his trainer, Luis Carvajal, Jr., initially wasn’t convinced, according to Pilcher. Carvajal, on the other hand, liked what he saw when Imperial Hint breezed past.

“Mr. Carvajal really liked him,” said Pilcher. “He said, ‘He’s built and he’s got a good stride on him. We ought to get this horse.'”

The price, later estimated to be around $25,000 by Mamone, would be a terrific bargain. To date, Imperial Hint has won 12 of 18 starts and earned $1.4 million.

Selling a horse for 1/56th of his current earnings no doubt stings. But Pilcher is genuinely happy for Mamone, who recently celebrated his 85th birthday.

“For Mr. Mamone to have Imperial Hint is almost…as good as me having him,” said Pilcher, laughing. “But, it’s as good as anybody I can think of in the world because he’s been a super nice guy and a super client for us for years. For him to have this horse at his age is just super for me. It’s one of those things that you just feel really good about.”

And, as it turns out, Pilcher did get a warning before selling Imperial Hint. Gene Corbin, who breaks and trains for Shade Tree, told Pilcher, “Now, I want you to understand before this horse leaves your barn that this is a good horse. I mean, I think this horse can really run, and I don’t want you to be upset with me because I let you sell this horse.”

Pilcher replied, “I realize that Mr. Gene. And If I’m selling a good horse, Mr. Mamone is the guy I want to sell it to. He’s been with me for over 30 years. I want him to have some fun.”

Corbin had words for Carvajal, too. According to Pilcher, Corbin told the trainer, “Luis, this horse has got two problems. 1) The first time you run him you’re going to get a speeding ticket, and 2) if you don’t win with him, I’m going to take your trainer’s license!”

Carvajal’s license was safe: Imperial Hint won first out at Tampa Bay in a romp.

Now, Imperial Hint gets his rematch with an in-form Roy H, who is coming off a win in the GI Santa Anita Sprint Championship S.

Asked if he would attend the Breeders’ Cup, Pilcher said, “Oh, yeah. I’m going. There ain’t no way, you couldn’t keep me away. I hope that he’ll do it this time. He’s really in good form. Luis has done an unbelievable job with him. I think he will.”

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