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Updated: 9 hours 58 min ago

Uncle Mo’s Moon Colony Too Strong in Penn Mile

Sat, 2019-06-01 20:11

John Oxley’s Moon Colony (Uncle Mo) rode the rail to a 9-1 upset in the $500,000 GIII Penn Mile Saturday evening at Penn National. Away in good order from his rail draw, the $400,000 KEESEP buy ran back off the pace in sixth, skimming the rail as Real News (The Factor) carved out opening splits of :22.71 and :47.60 with favored GSW A Thread of Blue (Hard Spun) pressing from a half-length second. Slipping up the fence to take closer order entering the far turn, the bay burst through on the rail to take control in mid-stretch and extended clear to score by 1 1/4 lengths over Casa Creed (Jimmy Creed).

Fourth to a ‘TDN Rising Star’ performance from Mucho (Blame) when unveiled on the dirt at Saratoga Aug. 4, Moon Colony filled the same spot behind next-out graded winner Forty Under (Uncle Mo) when extended to two turns and switched to the grass at the Spa three weeks later. Fifth in a main track optional claimer at Churchill Downs Oct. 28, he returned to the winner’s circle next out when switched back to the grass at the Fair Grounds Nov. 29. Kicking off this term with a fifth to Casa Creed in Gulfstream’s 7 1/2-panel Kitten’s Joy S. Jan. 5, the bay displayed a series of bullet drills leading up to this event, most recently breezing a best-of-20 half-mile in :46 2/5 at Belmont May 24.

Pedigree Notes:

Moon Colony is the 25th graded stakes winner and 50th black-type scorer for Coolmore’s Uncle Mo. His graded stakes-winning and MGISP dam Promenade Girl summoned $1.125 million at the conclusion of her racing career at the 2007 Keeneland November Sale and resold for $335,000 carrying a foal by War Front at the 2012 renewal of that auction. The 17-year-old mare is best known as the dam of ‘TDN Rising Star’ Cavorting (Bernardini), who carried the Stonestreet Stables colors six graded victories, three of which were Grade Is, for over $2 million in earnings. Promenade Girl also produced MGSP ‘TDN Rising Star’ Thirstforlife (Stay Thirsty), who is under consideration for the upcoming GI Stephen Foster H. The mare’s more recent produce includes a yearling filly by Tapit and a Liam’s Map filly born Feb. 4 of this year. Moon Colony also hails from the family of Grade I winners Another Review (Buckaroo) and No Review (Nodouble) and MGSW & GISP Dance Colony (Pleasant Colony).

Saturday, Penn National
PENN MILE S.-GII, $500,000, Penn National, 6-1, 3yo, 1mT, 1:37.45, yl.
1–MOON COLONY, 116, c, 3, by Uncle Mo
1st Dam: Promenade Girl (GSW & MGISP, $678,990),
by Carson City
2nd Dam: Promenade Colony, by Pleasant Colony
3rd Dam: Dance Review, by Northern Dancer
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($400,000
Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O-John C. Oxley; B-St. Elias Stables, LLC (KY);
T-Mark E. Casse; J-Julien R. Leparoux. $291,000. Lifetime
Record: 7-3-0-0, $370,635. *1/2 to Cavorting (Bernardini),
MGISW, $2,063,000; Thirstforlife (Stay Thirsty), MGSP,
$393,170. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Casa Creed, 116, c, 3, Jimmy Creed–Achalaya, by Bellamy
Road. ($15,000 Ylg ’17 OBSWIN; $105,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP).
O-LRE Racing LLC & JEH Racing Stable LLC; B-Silver Springs
Stud, LLC (KY); T-William I. Mott. $97,000.
3–Real News, 116, c, 3, The Factor–Missy’s Advantage, by
Tactical Advantage. ($85,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O-Town and
Country Racing, LLC & Gary Broad; B-Georgia Farms Inc (KY);
T-Albert M. Stall, Jr. $53,350.
Margins: 1 1/4, 3/4, 4 3/4. Odds: 9.80, 4.60, 6.50.
Also Ran: A Thread of Blue, Fluminense, The Black Album (Fr), Conative, Forty Under. Scratched: Empire of War.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

 

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Jimmy Creed Colt Earns TDN Rising Star Honors at Santa Anita

Sat, 2019-06-01 18:58

King Jack (c, 3, Jimmy Creed-Light Shine, by Tapit) stamped himself as one to watch this summer with a ‘TDN Rising Star’ debut performance, the second on the card at Santa Anita Saturday.

The 5-2 chance hinted ability in the a.m. for Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, led by a five-furlong bullet in :58 1/5 (1/9) at Los Alamitos May 10. He broke well and pressed from a three-wide third through an opening quarter in :22.17. The flashy chestnut ranged up with a good-looking, three-wide bid on the far turn, took over at the top of the stretch and bounded clear down the lane to graduate by three promising lengths.

Fellow firster Morning Snow (Morning Line), a $300,000 EASMAY graduate and 6-5 favorite for the Bob Baffert barn, stayed on for second after setting a pressured pace.

King Jack stopped the timer for six furlongs in 1:10.93, the exact same final clocking as fellow ‘Rising Star’ Comical Ghost (Ghostzapper) earned two races earlier.

King Jack was acquired by bloodstock agent Tom McGreevy on behalf of owner Michael C. Stinson for $100,000 at the 2017 KEESEP Sale. The unraced mare Light Shine, a half-sister to graded winners Scrappy T (Fit to Fight) and Tar Heel Mom (Flatter), was a $490,000 KEESEP yearling purchase by Spendthrift Farm in 2011. She produced a Temple City colt in 2017, a Brody’s Cause filly in 2018 and a colt by the latter sire this year.

6th-Santa Anita, $66,053, Msw, 6-1, 3yo, 6f, 1:10.93, ft.
KING JACK, c, 3, by Jimmy Creed
1st Dam: Light Shine, by Tapit
2nd Dam: Perpetual Light, by Sunny’s Halo
3rd Dam: Flash McAllister, by Ward McAllister
Sales history: $100,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $39,000. Click for the Equibase.com chart or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-Michael C. Stinson; B-Spendthrift Farm LLC (KY); T-Jerry Hollendorfer.

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Ghostzapper Colt Runs to the Hype, Tabbed TDN Rising Star

Sat, 2019-06-01 17:51

Godolphin homebred Comical Ghost (c, 3, Ghostzapper– Hystericalady, by Distorted Humor) entered the starting gate with a big reputation after working a trio of bullets at Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Los Alamitos base this spring–including a four-furlong move in :47 (1/14) May 15–and ran to the billing with a ‘TDN Rising Star’ performance on debut at Santa Anita Saturday.

The 1-2 favorite broke sharply and battled in between horses through an opening quarter in :21.93. He began to shake free approaching the quarter pole, kicked for home in charge and was kept to task down the lane by Joe Talamo en route to a promising, 2 1/4-length tally. The runner-up Beleth (Medaglia d’Oro) was also a rallying second on debut in late March.

Comical Ghost is a half-brother to Lady Montdore (Medaglia d’Oro), GSW & GISP-US, GSP-Fr, $308,356. His dam Hystericalady, heroine of the 2007 GI Humana Distaff S. and narrow runner-up in that term’s GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff in the Monmouth slop, brought $3 million from John Ferguson on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed’s operation at the 2008 KEENOV Sale. She is also represented by the 2-year-old colt Tapage (Tapit) and a yearling filly by Frosted. Comical Ghost’s second dam Sacramentada (Chi) (Northair) earned champion older mare honors in her native country.

4th-Santa Anita, $65,702, Msw, 6-1, 3yo, 6f, 1:10.93, ft.
COMICAL GHOST, c, 3, by Ghostzapper
1st Dam: Hystericalady (GISW, $2,390,556), by Distorted Humor
2nd Dam: Sacramentada (Chi), by Northair
3rd Dam: Sembrada (Chi), by El Oriental (Arg)
Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $39,000. Click for the Equibase.com chart or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O/B-Godolphin, LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert.

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Dubawi Colt Stays Perfect in Belmont’s Pennine Ridge

Sat, 2019-06-01 17:33

‘TDN Rising Star’ Demarchelier took his record to a perfect three-for-three with his first black-type score in the GIII Pennine Ridge S. at Belmont. This race is the local prep for next month’s GI Belmont Derby, which is now the first leg of NYRA’s new Turf Triple Crown.

Denying Seismic Wave by a head when taking his Aqueduct unveiling Nov. 21, Demarchelier bested next-out victor Award Winner (Ghostzapper) in a Keeneland allowance Apr. 12 and was given a 5-1 chance here.

The bay scraped the paint in second last early as stablemate and fellow ‘Rising Star’ Value Proposition (GB) (Dansili {GB}) was pushed along by Clint Maroon (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) on the front end, clocking early fractions of :24.53 and :49.27. Switched to the outside by Javier Castellano on the backstretch, the 425,000gns TATOCT buy was five-wide turning for home and unleashed a powerful rally in the lane, hitting the front in the final sixteenth and holding off a similar rally from Seismic Wave to score.

“He ran great,” winning trainer Chad Brown said. “Javier [Castellano] just bided his time back there and the race setup pretty well for him. The fractions weren’t really strong, but he was able to close down the center of the track and get up in time.”

He continued, “After he broke his maiden, we had mapped out a plan to get to the Belmont Derby [July 6] and fortunately it looks like the plan is coming together. He’s a really top-quality colt. Obviously well-bred and well-ridden each time. It’s exciting to have a horse headed to that big race.”

Pedigree Notes:

Demarchelier is the 111th graded/group winner for his European sire Dubawi and his 169th black-type victor. The winner is out of the unraced Sadler’s Wells mare Loveisallyouneed, who is a full-sister to Irish Highweights and MG1SWs Yesterday (Ire) and Quarter Moon (Ire), who is the dam of Group 1 winner Diamondsandrubies (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}). The 12-year-old mare is also responsible for a 2-year-old colt by Sea the Stars (Ire) and a yearling colt by Golden Horn (GB). This is also the family of MG1SW Aussie Rules (Danehill) and Irish Highweight Midas Touch (GB) (Galileo {Ire}).

Saturday, Belmont Park
PENNINE RIDGE S.-GIII, $200,000, Belmont, 6-1, 3yo, 1 1/8mT, 1:48.20, gd.
1–DEMARCHELIER (GB), 117, c, 3, by Dubawi (Ire)
1st Dam: Loveisallyouneed (Ire), by Sadler’s Wells
2nd Dam: Jude (GB), by Darshaan (GB)
3rd Dam: Alruccaba (Ire), by Crystal Palace (Fr)
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN.
‘TDN Rising Star’ (425,000gns Ylg ’17 TATOCT). O-Peter M.
Brant; B-Newsells Park Stud (GB); T-Chad C. Brown; J-Javier
Castellano. $110,000. Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0, $188,520.
Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Seismic Wave, 121, c, 3, Tapit–Conference Call (GB), by
Anabaa. O/B-Juddmonte Farms Inc (KY); T-William I. Mott.
$40,000.
3–Social Paranoia, 115, c, 3, Street Boss–Shutterbug, by Deputy
Minister. ($75,000 Ylg ’17 FTKJUL). O-The Elkstone Group, LLC
(Stuart Grant); B-Mineola Farm II, LLC & Silent Grove Farm, LLC
(KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $24,000.
Margins: NK, 1, 3/4. Odds: 5.20, 3.55, 2.35.
Also Ran: Henley’s Joy, Clint Maroon (GB), Magnificent McCool, Value Proposition (GB). Scratched: Swamp Rat.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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Los Al Alters Summer Meet

Sat, 2019-06-01 15:03

Los Alamitos has altered the schedule for their summer Thoroughbred meet, cutting it down to 10 days instead of the original 12. The meet will now start Saturday, June 29 instead of Thursday, June 27. Racing will be conducted Thursday through Sunday with post time at 1 p.m. and the meet concludes Jul 14.

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Pletcher Duo Put in Final Belmont Breezes

Sat, 2019-06-01 14:48

Todd Pletcher’s GI Belmont S. duo Spinoff (Hard Spun) and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Intrepid Heart (Tapit) put in their final breezes for the Triple Crown’s final leg Saturday on the Belmont main track. Spinoff worked in company with recent maiden winner Principled (Medaglia d’Oro), covering five furlongs in 1:02.16 (20/28) (video).

“I thought he went well,” Pletcher said. “He seemed very relaxed and got into a good comfortable rhythm. He stayed steady all the way around and put in a nice seven-eighths gallop out. He had a really strong workout last week, so we didn’t have to do quite as much today. He seemed happy and moving well.”

With John Velazquez aboard and blinkers on, Intrepid Heart breezed five panels in 1:00.92 (9/28) (video) in company with GSP Outshine (Malibu Moon).

“I thought he [Intrepid Heart] had another good work and strong gallop out,” Pletcher said. “I had him finish a mile in 1:38 and change. I think we got a solid work out of him. He seemed to be happy and moving well. He worked on the outside last time, so I just wanted to work him again with the blinkers on and have him on the inside this time and thought it went smoothly.”

Pletcher also worked recent G2 Godolphin Mile victor and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Coal Front (Stay Thirsty), who is scheduled to run in a very salty renewal of the GI Met Mile H. on Belmont day June 8. The bay went a half-mile in :50.02 (57/68) with jockey Jose Ortiz in the irons.

“Very solid work,” Pletcher said. “Consistent with what he’s been doing. He got into a nice rhythm. We’re happy with how he’s been doing since Dubai.”

Graded stakes winner Tax (Arch) was also on the worktab Saturday in Elmont, but his Belmont status is still undetermined. The gelding covered four furlongs in :49.03 on the Belmont main track in company with stablemate Blurred Line (Girolamo) (33/68) (video). Trainer Danny Gargan said the decision on whether the dark bay will run in the Belmont or not was forthcoming.

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Medaglia d’Oro Filly Stays Perfect at Belmont

Sat, 2019-06-01 14:43

2nd-Belmont, $82,000, Alw (NW1$X)/Opt. Clm ($80,000), 6-1, 3yo, f, 1 1/8mT, 1:49.40, gd.
CAFE AMERICANO (f, 3, Medaglia d’Oro–Roxy Gap {Ch. Female Sprinter & Ch. Older Mare-Can, MGSW, $952,790}, by Indian Charlie), a popular debut winner going a mile over the Gulfstream lawn Feb. 9, stayed perfect in this first attempt versus winners. The rail-drawn 6-5 chalk sat a perfect trip just behind the leaders in third through a half mile in :49.46. She was tipped out four wide on turn for home and kicked nicely while swooshing her tail once given her cue in the stretch en route to a two-length decision. Repatriated Gem (GB) (Medaglia d’Oro) completed the exacta for her leading sire. Two-time Canadian champion Roxy Gap, an $850,000 purchase by Fred Hertrich III, agent, at the 2013 FTKFEB Sale, is also represented by an Empire Maker filly of 2017 and a Curlin filly of 2018. She was bred back to Gun Runner. Sales history: $625,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0, $70,900. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-Peter M. Brant; B-Blue Heaven Farm (KY); T-Chad C. Brown.

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Wests Want Maximum Security, Country House Declared Co-Winners of Derby

Fri, 2019-05-31 17:56

An attorney representing owners Gary and Mary West has reached out to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission asking that it declare that their horse (Maximum Security) and Country House (Lookin at Lucky) both be considered winners of he GI Kentucky Derby until the dispute over Maximum Security’s disqualification is resolved in the courts.

On May 14, the Wests officially filed their lawsuit in a federal court in Lexington contesting the Derby outcome. The Wests are arguing that the Churchill Downs stewards erred in disqualifying Maximum Security, who crossed the finish line first, but may have interfered with several horses, including eventual GI Preakness winner War of Will (War Front). Though not impacted by the chain of events that took place during the Derby stretch run, Country House crossed the wire second and was moved up due to the disqualification and declared the winner.

On Friday, the Wests’s public relations team sent out a press release to inform the media that on May 23, the West’s attorney Barry Stilz filed an affidavit to the Kentucky Racing Commission requesting that it follow its own rules and recognize Maximum Security as the co-winner of the Kentucky Derby pending final adjudication of the lawsuit.

On that date, the West’s legal team wrote to Kentucky Horse Racing Commission General Counsel John Forgy stating that under its interpretation of Kentucky Horse Racing rules both horses must–for now–be declared the winner. The attorneys cite a Kentucky Administrative Regulation they claim specifies that since the outcome of the Derby is “in dispute,” that the purse money and the trophy must immediately be returned to the racing association by order of the stewards. They conclude: “Upon final adjudication of the dispute, the person deemed to be entitled to the purse money or trophy shall be entitled to an order of recovery from any person or association holding the same.”

The letter concludes with the following: “We hereby demand that (a) the Commission immediately and publicly declare both Maximum Security and Country House to be the winners of the 145th Kentucky Derby until the above action is ‘finally adjudicated’; and (b) that the stewards order that any purse money previously distributed be returned ‘immediately’ to the Commission to be held in escrow until final adjudication of the matter.”

A spokesperson for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission said that it would have no comment on the latest developments. Gary West, on the advice of his lawyers, declined to comment. Stilz declined to answer any questions and referred the TDN to the legal documents that were online and had already been filed.

In a separate filing, Dennis Drazin, an attorney who heads the management team that operates Monmouth Park, was officially added to a long list of lawyers representing the Wests. Maximum Security is stabled at Monmouth for trainer Jason Servis.

It is not immediately clear what the Wests hope to gain by having Maximum Security declared the temporary co-winner of the Derby. That title would be officially stripped away if they lose their court battle and if they are to succeed in court their horse would indeed be declared the 145th winner of the Kentucky Derby. That he was once determined a “co-winner” would bear no relevance on the court’s verdict or who goes down in history as the official winner of the race.

West did confirm that the next major goal for Maximum Security is the July 20 GI Haskell at Monmouth and that a prep in the June 16 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth is possible.

 

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California Trainer, Radio Host Roger Stein Dies

Fri, 2019-05-31 16:48

Roger Stein, a successful trainer of both Standarbreds and Thoroughbreds and longtime radio show host in Southern California, passed away the morning of May 31 at his home in Hidden Hills following a lengthy battle with a variety of illnesses. He was 65 years old.

Having secured a harness trainer’s license in 1979 after working a few years as a groom and owner and became an unstoppable force in the code, winning 10% of all harness races in the state from 1979-1984 while racking up 17 straight titles.

Among the Thoroughbreds of note conditioned by Stein were Southern Truce, a $16,000 claim who went on to win a pair of Grade Is, including an upset of champion Paseana (Arg) in the 1993 Santa Margarita S. Forty Niner Days gave him his most valuable victory when taking out the $400,000 GII Golden Gate H. Stein was the leading trainer at the Fairplex meeting in 1990.

“Roger was always supportive of me from the time I had the bug,'” recalled jockey Aaron Gryder. “He had a good stable back then and I was out every morning. Obviously, the last 10 years he hadn’t been out much because of health issues, but I kept in touch with him and would visit with him from time to time.”

Stein is survived by his mother, and two grown children, daughter Shayna and son, Sam, as well as one grandchild. Services will be Sunday, according to Roger’s brother, Rick, 63. Funeral arrangements are pending.

 

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Commissioner Get His First Winner at Indiana

Fri, 2019-05-31 16:31

4th-Indiana Grand, $39,680, Msw, 5-31, 2yo, 5f (off turf), 1:00.27, gd.

TWO LAST WORDS (g, 2, Commissioner–My Peg, by Fusaichi Pegasus), dispatched at 2-1 in this debut, vied for the lead through an opening quarter in :23.05. Shaking free of his rival at the top of the stretch, the dark bay drew clear to don cap and gown by 2 1/4 lengths and become the first winner for his freshman sire (by A.P. Indy). Freedomfi (Guilt Trip) was the runner-up. Two Last Words is the first foal out of My Peg, who has since produced a yearling filly by Into Mischief. She visited Super Saver last spring. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $26,040. Click for the Equibase.com chart.

O-Deann Baer; B-Deann & Greg Baer DVM (IN); T-Tim Glyshaw.

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Bourbon War Joins Belmont Cast

Fri, 2019-05-31 15:19

Bourbon Lane Stable and Lake Star Stable’s Bourbon War (Tapit) has joined the cast for next Saturday’s GI Belmont S. Last seen finishing eighth in the GI Preakness S. May 18, the well-bred son of GISW My Conquestadory (Artie Schiller) breezed four panels Friday at Big Sandy. He was clocked in :48.74 (3/7) without the blinkers he added for the Preakness. “I was happy with him. I thought he did well, looked sharp and galloped out strong,” trainer Mark Hennig said. The GII Xpressbet Fountain of Youth runner-up will be ridden for the first time in the Belmont by three-time race winner and Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

Also working for the Belmont Friday was Tracy Farmer homebred Sir Winston (Awesome Again), who was clocked in :50.16 (5/7) over the same track and distance as Bourbon War. “He worked an easy half-mile with a good gallop out,” said Jamie Begg, assistant to conditioner Mark Casse. “He did it the way he likes to do it and he did it the right way. [Rider] Joel [Rosario, who will be aboard in the Belmont,] was very happy with the breeze.”

Sir Winston most recently rallied to be second in the GIII Peter Pan S. in Elmont May 11. Casse’s more fancied Belmont runner, Preakness hero War of Will (War Front), is scheduled to arrive in New York Monday.

 

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Another Derby Mission With Noble Possibilities

Fri, 2019-05-31 13:14

“One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day.” And similar circumspection is plainly advisable before deciding that a single migrant across the seas has opened a sunlit future even for one young stallion, never mind the entire business. Nonetheless it is heartening on many levels to see Noble Mission (GB), from his very first crop, get a son into both the GI Kentucky Derby and the Epsom original, which is staged for the 240th time Saturday.

Humanitarian is admittedly an outsider, unlikely to emulate Code of Honor, the promoted runner-up at Churchill. But nor is he just a token runner: saddled in the Maktoum cause by John Gosden, and with a nicely progressive profile. So however he fares, let’s acknowledge an authentic achievement not only for Noble Mission but also for William S. Farish, who stands him at Lane’s End and bred both Humanitarian and Code of Honor.

Farish, of course, was formerly ambassador to the Court of St James. He may perhaps have some sympathy for the Queen, whose pleasant duties at Epsom will be followed by a state visit from an unpredictable president. But it’s fitting that Farish, restored to civilian life, is still doing his bit for transatlantic harmony through Noble Mission. Because if ever an isolationist wants to see what his world might become, you just have to show him the bloodstock industry over the last generation.

To be fair, it is the Europeans who have lately been most parochial in the prescriptive, self-fulfilling perception of bloodlines, as oriented to turf or dirt. And now they have painted themselves into a corner. Yes, the Galileo (Ire) dynasty has earned its hegemony, and absolutely deals in qualities you want to see replicated in the 21st century Thoroughbred. But you certainly couldn’t say that about some of the sires so witlessly pursued by the commercial market over there, who might (and only might) get you a fast and early juvenile but will never produce a Classic winner even at a mile.

It’s no good commercial breeders protesting that they have no choice, being unable to compete with the wealthy end-users who can afford Galileo or other elite fees. Because when an affordable son of Galileo like Nathaniel (Ire) comes along, and produces champion Enable (GB) from his first crop, and five other Group winners in 2018, he still can’t get his yearlings even into the top 50 in the European sale averages.

You can see the result in today’s Derby field–and, to this extent only, Noble Mission is more symptom than cure. Because of the 13 runners, six are by the ageing patriarch Galileo himself; five are by various sons, and one is by a grandson. That leaves only the overnight sensation Sir Dragonet (Ire), who was unfancied for a Tipperary maiden barely five weeks ago. He is a son of the elegant Camelot (GB) but fear not, his second dam is a full-sister to Galileo!

On the face of it, that might appear to support a defeatist position regarding the people who not only stand Galileo, but also employ Aidan O’Brien, who saddles no fewer than seven runners. But who can say what the landscape might look like, if only the hundreds of mares corralled by unproven, plainly bred stallions with a couple of sprint stakes to their name had instead been sent to one who won’t make you a fast buck at the sales, but might just get you a Classic racehorse?

As it happens, with their own broodmare band saturated by his blood, it is the owners of Galileo who gave European credibility to their outcross experiments with Scat Daddy and War Front. (In the process, obviously, they have also shaped the profile of those horses in the U.S.)

But that only happened a) because they recognised a need; and b) met it imaginatively. And I am convinced that many other American stallions, given the chance, could emulate the European Classic success enjoyed by John Magnier and his original confederates when first importing sons of Northern Dancer.

That was typical of the cyclical, mutual regeneration of the gene pool either side of the ocean. And the American dirt horse–an animal I have been scandalized to hear dismissed, by European agents of clients who deserve far more reflective counsel, as a drugged speedball–offers precisely the assets required to crash Galileo’s private party.

Because the American ideal is not just speed, but speed you can carry two turns. The critical difference, compared with Europe, is that both commercial breeders and end-users are looking for a horse for the first Saturday in May. And if only we remember that sire-lines are very seldom immutably turf or dirt, then the same horse could prove just as eligible for the first Saturday in June.

We’ll leave aside the dubious practice of ascribing to an untested racehorse properties trademarked only to his top line. The fact is that only Coolmore, again, have in recent years shown reliable adventure in trying accomplished European campaigners on dirt at the Breeders’ Cup. (Especially since the synthetic experiment was abandoned; before that, there were plenty of European “turf” horses who showed up the indigenous opposition on dirt.)

Coolmore obviously don’t do that purely out of altruism. And most of the time, it’s a bet-to-nothing–as with Galileo himself, who bombed in the Classic. Though he’d had a gruelling season at home, his performance nourished the theory that he represented a sire-line with an inveterate aversion to dirt. (A theory that required you to throw out half the pedigree of Sadler’s Wells: for every Kitten’s Joy, after all, there’s a Medaglia d’Oro.)

You’ll never see a turf champion run more like a dirt horse than did Frankel (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) and the failure to test him in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, though pardonable on account of his trainer’s health, squandered an epoch-making opportunity to stem the ongoing retrenchment of prejudices either side of the ocean. As it is, his brother Noble Mission–who himself developed a hard-running style–has been given a chance to break down barriers instead.

Now let’s not forget that this is a two-way street. As we were reminded more than once on the Triple Crown trail this spring, horses perceived as turf-bred are as likely to miss their true metier on dirt as the other way round. And I see horses running in Europe every week whose earning capacity could be transformed by a change of surface, or sometimes merely of environment.

In their domestic market, however, American horsemen have not matched fine words about turf racing–about a huge expansion in the program, about welfare–with dollars and cents. Their neglect of horses like Kitten’s Joy or English Channel, in the sales ring, is no less reprehensible than the European relegation of Classic stallions to National Hunt farms.

So while he remains up against it, you have to hand it to Noble Mission. Himself a late bloomer, he has rocked everyone back on their heels with Code of Honor on the dirt. Remember Farish offered him as a yearling, but bidding stalled at $70,000 for a Saratoga debut winner and Grade I runner-up at two, now placed in the Derby itself.

It would be unfair to burden Noble Mission with too much responsibility, especially with a second book limited by colic. He already knows all about turf in the American sales ring, his fee down to $15,000 this year from an opening $25,000. But while even another Derby podium at Epsom would not yet allow us to say Mission accomplished, nobody should think of the broader possibilities he has shown as Mission impossible.

 

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Old Friends Launches New Membership Program

Thu, 2019-05-30 16:41

Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, Ky, is introducing a new fan-based membership initiative, “The Hoof Patrol,” which will serve to educate members and aid with equine retirees facing costly and ongoing hoof-related issues.

Members who join the The Hoof Patrol will be able to choose from different levels of support, and their contribution will supply a continuous funding stream to for Old Friends retirees that have short and long-term ailments–everything from common abscesses to serious issues such as Laminitis.

All Hoof Patrol memberships will include a gift of an official key chain, a full year of email updates and information, including spotlight horse case-studies, videos & photos, “Talk to the Hoof” Q & A’s, and photo opportunities with Old Friends Hoof Patrol horses when visiting the farm.

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Master Fencer Sound After Stumbling During Wednesday’s Breeze

Thu, 2019-05-30 16:37

Katsumi Yoshizawa’s homebred Master Fencer (Jpn) (Just a Way {Jpn}), a rallying seventh in the GI Kentucky Derby, remains on schedule for the GI Belmont S. He stumbled slightly in the stretch during his five-furlong breeze in 1:01.48 (XBTV Video) Wednesday morning under training assistant Yosuke Kono.

As a precaution, an X-ray was taken of Master Fencer’s front ankles, which did not show any issues. Kono, via translator Mitsuoki Numamoto, said that Master Fencer was sound and in good order.

“He got a little inflammation because of the breezing, which is normal,” said Kono. “The X-rays came back totally fine. The vet is not concerned about anything.”

Kono said that Master Fencer followed his regular schedule on Thursday morning, which included an opportunity to stretch his legs on the walking path in the back paddock of their barn.

“Today, he walked for an hour, which is normal for us the day after a breeze,” said Kono. “Tomorrow, we will go to the paddock for paddock schooling first and then to the main track for a light jog.”

Julien Leparoux will retain the mount on Master Fencer for the third leg of the Triple Crown.

 

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Taking Stock: Beneath Lasix, EIPH Is Real

Thu, 2019-05-30 16:20

“Back in the early 1970s, you’d see horses bleeding from the nostrils more commonly than you do now,” said trainer Barclay Tagg, who took out his license in 1971. “I had a horse back then that came back after a race, and he was being washed up and suddenly he starts gushing blood from the nostrils. You barely see them bleed from the nostrils now, and that’s because of Lasix.” Tagg said he was a proponent for the use of the diuretic Lasix to combat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, or EIPH, a condition that results in bleeding in the lungs from exercise and racing. Its extreme manifestation is epistaxis, or bleeding through the nostrils, and this condition has existed for as long as Thoroughbred history has been recorded over the last 300-plus years. That’s a point that gets forgotten when partisans debate Lasix usage.

Lasix officially entered the racing landscape in Maryland in the mid-1970s as a therapeutic treatment to reduce the effects of EIPH and is now used almost exclusively on most racehorses in this country on race days, though race-day Lasix is prohibited abroad. As a diuretic, Lasix lowers blood pressure, and this is thought to mitigate bleeding by relieving pressure on capillaries in the lungs that burst during stress. It was known and used by some trainers at least a decade before it was officially sanctioned, and Northern Dancer was reportedly administered the drug by Dr. Alex Harthill for the 1964 Kentucky Derby. “I was good friends with Dr. Harthill, and I can confirm that. He told me personally that he gave it to Northern Dancer,” Tagg said.

Lasix usage has been controversial for a long time and is even more so nowadays with the mainstream publicity surrounding the fatalities at Santa Anita, which have somehow been publicly linked to the drug–without the evidence of science. For example, one of the first reforms instituted during the eye of the storm by The Stronach Group (TSG), owner of Santa Anita, was a reduction in the race-day dosage of Lasix, which had the effect of implying to the public that larger doses may have played a part in the breakdowns. Joe Drape in the New York Times was more direct, writing: “[Lasix] is also thought to increase the chance of catastrophic injury to a horse’s thin legs.”

I’ve read as many legitimate peer-reviewed scientific papers and studies on Lasix dating back to the 1980s as anyone else, and I’ve yet to come across one that states what Drape did, in one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country no less. TSG’s stance on Lasix is more understandable as a reflexive PR maneuver and a deflection from its racing surface, especially as a Jockey Club-led medication reform federal bill that would ban race-day Lasix was introduced in Congress during this period of tumult at Santa Anita. All of this has unfortunately fudged the lines between cause and effect for legislators like Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has called for a suspension of racing at Santa Anita and a review of medication policies, and journalists like Drape and others reporting on the deaths in mainstream media.

Aside from the black eye of the current fatalities at Santa Anita, racing’s image hasn’t been helped over the last five or so years by partisan debates over earlier versions of the current bill in Congress. A lot of the damage is specifically from the chorus of some of the bill’s supporters in the media equating Lasix with illegal “drugging” despite that Lasix is legal and sanctioned by every racing jurisdiction in this country. This confusion has only added to governmental and public perception outside racing circles that the sport and industry is riddled with chronic drug and animal abuse, and it’s brought to the fore groups like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which was– surprisingly–invited by TSG to the Santa Anita discussions. PETA is now calling for the suspension of racing nationwide until reforms like those instituted at Santa Anita are applied to all tracks in the country, even though the reforms at Santa Anita haven’t completely stopped the fatalities.

The net effect is that the industry is under siege from the outside, and within it there’s a chasm between a cadre of wealthy owners and breeders who are against the use of race-day Lasix and who back The Jockey Club’s federal initiative, and trainers and smaller owners on the other side who don’t support the proposed legislation. “Sure, I’d be for getting rid of Lasix,” Tagg said, “if they found another way to treat bleeders that works. Lasix, if used properly, is not as debilitating as people think, either. If they are treated right the next few days after a race and get plenty of fresh water, an electrolyte jug the day after, and get some grazing, they rebound quickly.”

Deconstructing this entanglement the industry finds itself in first and foremost requires admitting publicly that EIPH is a real disorder and needs to be addressed and treated one way or another if race-day Lasix is ultimately held as the scapegoat for industry ills and is banned.

“Before Lasix, horses were taken off water and food 12 to 24 hours before races,” Tagg said. “You’d feel bad for the poor horses.” Dehydrating them in this manner had the effect of lowering blood pressure, but not as effectively or as humanely as Lasix does. “There was other stuff people would give them, too. Everyone had their potions,” Tagg said, implying that water, hay, and oats alone is a quaint notion.

Dallas Stewart came up as a trainer during the Lasix era and said it’s the most inexpensive and efficient way to treat EIPH. “Sure, there are guys that will give them a bunch of stuff, but that’s expensive versus a $20 or $25 shot of Lasix,” he noted. The cost of treating a bleeder for a small owner or trainer would skyrocket without Lasix, and this is another line of demarcation between the two warring sides.

And one other thought that no one seems to have addressed while pinning the tail on the donkey that is Lasix: if the diuretic leads to “catastrophic injuries,” as Drape wrote, why would it still be allowed for training? Most bleeders use Lasix far more often in morning workouts than they do in the afternoons. A horse that made 15 lifetime starts on Lasix, for example, might have used it five times as much while training in between starts.

EIPH and the Breed…

Depending on the study, it’s estimated that between 55% to 95% of racehorses experience some level of EIPH, though between only 1% (lower in some studies) to 4% exhibit epistaxis. Bleeding through the nostrils was the obvious indicator of EIPH until the development of the endoscope and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) allowed for the detection of various levels of blood in the lungs and trachea. Most studies indicate that EIPH becomes more prevalent and acute with age and racing mileage, and one study has suggested that EIPH is heritable and that bleeders should be removed from the breeding population, something that’s been put into practice in Germany, where horses that raced on Lasix are not allowed as breeding stock.

One thing is for certain, though: bleeders have been around since the beginning, and many bleeders or descendants of bleeders have had a profound impact on the breed. Bartlett’s Childers (1716), a son of the Darley Arabian–one of the three founding stallions of the Thoroughbred, along with The Byerley Turk and the Godolphin Arabian–was unraced because he was a bleeder (he was also known as Bleeding Childers) but nonetheless became a champion sire and was the great-grandsire of the top racehorse and pivotal stallion Eclipse (1764), to whom most racehorses now trace.

Herod (1758) was a contemporary of Eclipse and a descendant of The Byerley Turk. He, too, has been recorded as a bad bleeder–and keep in mind that these horses were known as bleeders only because they exhibited epistaxis. Herod led the sire list for eight consecutive years, and his son Highflyer led the list 13 times. Today this line is all but extinct but has some representation in modern pedigrees primarily through Ahonoora (1975).

Hermit (1864), a male-line descendant of Eclipse, was another well-known bleeder. He won the Epsom Derby and led the British sire list seven years straight. One of his daughters produced Gallinule (1884), a stakes-winning 2-year-old colt whose subsequent career was marred by EIPH. He led the British sire list in 1904 and sired the outstanding filly Pretty Polly (1901), who founded an influential family whose impact is still felt today.

There are far too many cases of these types to list here, but here’s one more, a contemporary example. Claiborne’s Special (1969) was a talented filly who was unable to race because she was prone to bleeding. Retained as a broodmare, she produced champions Fairy Bridge (1975) and Nureyev (1977), who between them made a total of five starts. Nureyev, a son of Northern Dancer, became an outstanding sire, and Fairy Bridge produced the top racehorse and iconic sire Sadler’s Wells (1981), also a son of Northern Dancer. Sadler’s Wells is, of course, the sire of Galileo (1998), one of the all-time greats.

Sid Fernando is president and CEO of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc., originator of the Werk Nick Rating and eNicks.

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California Governor Newsom Issues Statement on Racing Licenses

Thu, 2019-05-30 14:50

The California Governor, Gavin Newsom, has weighed into the ongoing saga embattling the racing industry in the state by throwing his support behind a bill designed to give the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) unilateral authority to immediately suspend racetrack operating licenses—authority the board currently doesn’t have. The bill is making its way through the state legislature.

“The recent horse fatalities in California are unacceptable,” said Governor Newsom, in Thursday’s announcement. “We must hold the horse racing industry to account. If we can regulate horse race meets, we should have the authority to suspend licenses when animal or human welfare is at risk.”

Newsom’s remarks follow on the heels of renewed calls for racing at Santa Anita to be suspended, as a result of three recent equine fatalities within the space of nine days. Before those fatalities, Santa Anita went nearly seven weeks without a single catastrophic injury during training and racing–a period in which at least 50,000 horses exercised. On top of that, 698 horse raced on the main track and 651 raced on the turf, according to The Stronach Group (TSG) figures.

On Monday, California senator Diane Feinstein called for a moratorium on horse racing at Santa Anita, as well as the need for a “thorough investigation of practices and conditions.” On Wednesday, the LA Times editorial board mirrored Feinstein’s remarks, calling for Santa Anita to “end its season and stop racing” until it can produce an explanation for the 26 equine deaths at the track since racing resumed there last December.

In a written statement, California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT) executive director, Alan Balch, didn’t address Newsom’s announcement, but emphasized that “we have a zero tolerance for any accident that we determine, in the aftermath, could have been mitigated or prevented.”

As such, suspending racing at Santa Anita at this point could set a “perceived precedent” that racing has to stop “in the aftermath of any accident of any nature,” he warned.

“We need to investigate and learn from any accident that occurs, because there are some, and some aspects of them, that are simply beyond our control,” he said. “Racing should not be an exception to the fundamental facts of life,” Balch added.

In response to Feinstein’s Monday remarks, California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) chairman Chuck Winner previously told the TDN that he and the board’s executive director, Rick Baedeker, are in communication with California senator Dianne Feinstein’s office as they try to organize a call with the senator “at her convenience” as part of an ongoing dialogue with the influential lawmaker.

TSG wrote in an email that “our new practices must be followed by all stakeholders with a zero tolerance approach, and anyone who doesn’t comply will no longer be able to race at any Stronach Group track. Suspending racing at the track now will not advance these efforts, as we will continually strive to improve horse safety at our track now and for years to come.”

In addition to voicing his support for SB 469, governor Newsom also singled out a number of measures that have been proposed, or already taken, to improve racehorse welfare and safety in recent months.

This includes the suspended authorization of certain corticosteroids and anti-inflammatories, and increased staffing at Santa Anita of official veterinarians, safety stewards and investigators. Among the proposed changes is a new rule eliminating use of the riding crop in racing, except in cases of emergency, and prohibited use of bisphosphonates, a controversial drug that prevents loss of bone density.

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Ballydoyle Seven Dominate Derby

Thu, 2019-05-30 11:34

Aidan O’Brien will saddle seven of the 13 runners in Saturday’s G1 Investec Derby at Epsom, with the likely favourite and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Sir Dragonet (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) joined by fellow trial winners Broome (Ire) (Australia {GB}), Anthony Van Dyck (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and Circus Maximus (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). Sir Dragonet was handed the outside stall in 13, which will be much more favourably received than the one draw given to Saxon Warrior (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) 12 months ago, while Broome is in eight and Anthony Van Dyck in seven. Cape of Good Hope (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) is off to Chantilly for the following day’s G1 Prix du Jockey Club along with the other withdrawal, the Roger Varian-trained G2 Dante S. third Surfman (GB) (Kingman {GB}).

The supplemented May 16 Dante winner Telecaster (GB) (New Approach {Ire}) will break from stall two, which is far from ideal given that the lowest-drawn winner in the past 10 runnings was Sea the Stars (Ire) who had stall four in 2009. That misfortune was not lost on Oisin Murphy on Thursday as he said, “We’re drawn in two and everyone would like a higher draw, but that’s the card we’ve been dealt,” he said. “He’s obviously come out of the Dante really well and we’re excited. On Monday, he felt in really good order and has not lost much weight since the Dante. Hughie [Morrison]’s pleased, so it’s all systems go.”

King Power Racing’s Apr. 26 G3 Sandown Classic Trial scorer Bangkok (Ire) (Australia {GB}) will emerge from stall 12 as the other leading home-trained protagonist alongside Telecaster. Godolphin’s Line of Duty (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), fitted with cheekpieces following his disappointing seventh in the Dante, will break from the hoodoo stall one.

As expected, Ryan Moore has sided with Sir Dragonet, with Donnacha O’Brien on Broome and Seamie Heffernan on Anthony Van Dyck. Frankie Dettori has received the call-up for the Listed Dee S. scorer Circus Maximus and Jamie Spencer is on the G3 Chester Vase runner-up Norway (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). The dual G1 1000 Guineas-winning rider Wayne Lordan has the leg up on last year’s G2 Beresford S. winner Japan (GB) (Galileo {Ire}).

Dettori, who partnered Scorpion (Ire) to win the G1 St Leger for Ballydoyle in 2005 and also the stable’s Order of St George (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) to be third in the memorable Arc of 2016, said of Circus Maximus, “He looks like a horse who is a bit lazy. He’s never going to be flash. I spoke to Aidan O’Brien this morning and the horse will wear cheekpieces just to sharpen him up a little bit because he is very laid-back. One thing we do know is that he stays really well and if you look at his Autumn S. form, he is red hot with Magna Grecia and Phoenix of Spain. The race does looks wide-open. You can make a case about most of the runners, but I am pleased with mine who will most definitely stay the trip.”

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Wednesday’s Belmont S. Updates

Wed, 2019-05-29 16:05

Japanese invader Master Fencer (Jpn) (Just a Way {Jpn}) breezed five furlongs in 1:01.48 (2/2) over the Belmont main track Wednesday morning in preparation for the June 8 GI Belmont S. (video). Jockey Julien Leparoux, who rode the chestnut to a sixth-place finish in the GI Kentucky Derby May 4, was supposed to be aboard for the work, but his flight from Kentucky was canceled, so regular exercise rider Yosuke Kono was in the irons. The horse stumbled near the eighth pole, so Kono pulled him up just past the finish line. The colt appeared fine and cooled out in good order later at the barn.

“Up until the eighth pole, he was breezing really well and I was so satisfied,” Kono said via a translator. “All of a sudden, he stumbled, and gradually shifted to the left by the rail. I switched my whip to make him aware and focus to the end of the breeze. We then recovered but it was feeling a little weird so I tried to stop him as soon as possible. After the work he had a light jog and there were no problems. I don’t think it’s something that will cause a major issue.”

Master Fencer was last most of the way in the Derby, closing strongly late to cross the line seventh, but was promoted to sixth via DQ. Kono said the extra two furlongs in the Belmont will benefit the colt.

“He has a big heart and big lungs and is better suited to the longer distance,” said Kono. “He is not the type to make crazy speed. He has a long, strong late kick. For him, the mile and a half will be a lot better.”

Mark Casse originally said he would breeze his GI Preakness S. winner War of Will (War Front) this week in preparation for the Belmont, but he has decided to skip that work and gallop into the race.

“He’s not going to breeze. We kind of feel like he’s in a very happy place and relaxed right now and we want him to be that way going 1 1/2 miles so I don’t really see any reason to,” Casse said. “We know his Preakness was good and I didn’t breeze him into that. We are going to do it our way. So he is not going to breeze.”

War of Will has been training at Keeneland since the Preakness under assistant trainer David Carroll and will ship to New York Monday. He will be the only horse this year to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

The Brad Cox-trained Owendale (Into Mischief) has been removed from Belmont consideration. The GIII Stonestreet Lexington S. winner may be pointed to the June 22 GIII Ohio Derby.

“We’re going to bypass on the Belmont. He’s great, doing outstanding. Maybe the Ohio Derby [next],” said Cox. “[The distance] and a combination of coming back in three weeks is asking him a lot.”

Cox will send out a trio of runners on Belmont weekend in GII Belmont Gold Cup contender Arklow (Arch), GI Just a Game S.-bound Beau Recall (Ire) (Sir Prancealot {Ire}) and Jersey Girl S. runner Break Even (Country Day).

 

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Keeneland Winner’s Circle: Raise a Glass of Vino Rosso to Crupi

Wed, 2019-05-29 15:58

Life is full of coincidence. And our own lives are full of horses: a teeming cavalcade of them, all on different trajectories, rising or falling; sometimes seeming to fulfill carefully planned agendas, more often prey to random twists of luck. So when a single Thoroughbred steps out of the chaos to meet a cue as specific as the one that summoned Vino Rosso (Curlin) at Santa Anita on Memorial Day, it really asks us what we believe about the world, and our place in it.

On the one hand, you could say that for Vino Rosso to win a Grade I race in the achingly hollow days between the death and funeral of the man who found him for his owners, and then taught him how to be a racehorse, is simply a fortuitous demonstration of the impact routinely made on the business by James “J.J.” Crupi. His eye and touch were such that it was only a matter of time before a graduate of his New Castle training center outside Ocala would reiterate the scale of his loss, aged 79, last Thursday. How much time was a matter of pure chance.

On the other hand, it is not as though Crupi is being mourned merely as a horseman. The sheer dimensions of his character–in terms both of the courage he brought to his own battles, and the generosity with which he assisted others in their own–were such that many of those now grieving will be comfortable with the idea that fortunes on the racetrack, trivial and apparently arbitrary as they are, might reflect a deeper register of our existence.

As Vino Rosso wore down favorite Gift Box (Twirling Candy) in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, after all, the racecaller happened to mention that they being followed down the stretch by a horse named Higher Power (Medaglia d’Oro)!

Vino Rosso Wins the Gold Cup | Benoit photo

Wherever you stand, the Grade I breakthrough of Vino Rosso was as apt as it was moving. Apart from anything else, he represents a partnership between two men who each owe their finest hours on the Turf to Crupi: Mike Repole, for whom he found champion juvenile Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) as a yearling; and Vinnie Viola, whose St Elias Stable was likewise put on the map by Crupi, literally so in the case of the top-class miler Liam’s Map (Unbridled’s Song). Viola also had a stake in the 2017 Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming (Bodemeister), who learned the ropes under Crupi before his transfer to Todd Pletcher.

Pletcher is also the trainer of Vino Rosso and naturally his owners are indebted to him for helping the horse regroup, his form having tapered off at Saratoga last summer after his Classic campaign. But Viola, in the course of paying tribute to a cherished friend and counsellor on Friday, had expressly remarked that this race might prove a perfect testimonial.

Viola explained that Vino Rosso had exemplified Crupi’s patience with horses. And not just his patience, but his intuition. There had been a time when the colt had lost his way. “He wasn’t progressing,” Viola recalled. “But then Jimmy called up Rory Babich [who assists in the St Elias operation] one day and said: ‘You know, I figured Vino out. I worked him in the morning, and I didn’t like the way he worked. So I worked him in the afternoon, and did it for a few days–until he learned that when he gets on the track, he should put out his best effort.'”

And having seen how the race duly played out, Repole echoed his partner’s sense that Vino Rosso could have carved no better memorial to Crupi.

“I think Vino and Johnny [Velazquez] had a little help down the stretch yesterday, in getting past Gift Box,” Repole said. “To win a Grade I race a couple of days after Jimmy passed away, and a couple of days before his funeral Mass, I think there’s a higher power involved here.

“It meant more than you’d ever think. I know Grade Is are few and far between, but this one had a lot more meaning. It was very special. I spoke to some people on the farm, Vinnie did too: people who were closest to Jimmy, like Monique [Delk] and Johnny Sacco, it was emotional for them all.”

Vino Rosso was one of the first couple of horses Repole bought in partnership with Viola, whom he had introduced to Crupi.

“When Vinnie and I started to see some of these partnerships happening we said, ‘Hey, you know what, we both root for each other.’ When he’s winning a race I say congrats and when he’s winning a race he says congrats, so it made all the sense in the world, and for Jimmy to be very involved in the choosing,” he said. “We’ve got about five more [2-year-olds] coming this year that Jimmy picked out.

“But for this to happen, four days later after Jimmy’s passing… He died 12.33 on Thursday night, so really Friday, the day the entries were made. A horse he picked out for Vinnie and I, a horse who’s had a lot of promise and excitement but for one reason or another hasn’t put it all together. I think yesterday was the culmination of a lot, for Vino Rosso and obviously for the relationship of Vinnie and [Viola’s wife] Teresa and myself and Jimmy. And Todd, too, because he and Jimmy had a pretty special relationship.

“Vinnie and Teresa have been so great to Jimmy. Over the years there’ve been so many times when they went above and beyond to get him the best doctors, to put him in the best hospital in New York, the best hospital in Miami.

“Jimmy lived his life like a Grade I racehorse. He gave it his all every single time. Jimmy was like a Grade I horse that had 110 starts. He wouldn’t want to work, he’d want to run every week. Obviously it’s very bittersweet. He’d been suffering. But when you talk about Jimmy Crupi, you’re talking about the Frank Sinatra song: ‘I did it my way.’

Viola and Repole | Sarah K. Andrew photo

“So it was a special, special win. For three Italian guys to be winning with a horse named Vino Rosso. In New England, where I was, and Vinnie in New York, I think we both opened a nice bottle of wine and toasted Jimmy, and 79 years of a great life, over a nice Grade I vino rosso.”

But let’s not forget, in taking a step back from the poignant circumstances, the role of another remarkable achiever in the Vino Rosso story. For when this colt emerged on the Derby trail last year, what jumped out of his background was not his selection and breaking, but the fact that he had been born and raised on the same farm as Justify (Scat Daddy).

The two horses were born on consecutive days, and sealed their Derby candidature the same day on opposite coasts: the eventual Triple Crown winner in the GI Santa Anita Derby, and Vino Rosso in the GII Wood Memorial. That would have been a stellar day for Claiborne or Lane’s End, never mind for the boutique Glennwood Farm, run by John D. Gunther and his daughter Tanya.
To breed both colts, they had identified a stallion going places: Curlin and Scat Daddy were still available at $25,000 and $30,000 respectively when covering the dams of Vino Rosso and Justify.
John Gunther had been similarly ahead of the game in the $42,000 acquisition of Mythical Bride (Street Cry {Ire}) at the 2011 Keeneland November Sale. Winner only of a Sunland Park maiden, she was culled by WinStar before two subsequent sons of her mother Flaming Heart (Touch Gold) could elevate the page. Her weanling by A.P. Indy was Commissioner, subsequently beaten a head in the GI Belmont S.; while her 2-year-old by Distorted Humor, Laugh Track, was foiled by a neck in the GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint. (Both also won graded stakes.)

Besides Vino Rosso, Mythical Bride is since responsible for So Alive (Super Saver), a debut winner at Keeneland last fall and Grade III-placed this spring; and a Pioneerof The Nile colt in training with Aidan O’Brien. She recently delivered a brother to Vino Rosso, and also has a yearling colt by none other than Crupi’s discovery Uncle Mo.

If few can hope to match the Gunthers’ prescience, in picking mares and their mates on the marketplace, everyone can learn something from the matings that produced Justify and Vino Rosso. For both balance inbreeding to Mr Prospector with duplication of a classy stamina influence.

Justify carries Mr P. 3 x 5 x 5: as Scat Daddy’s damsire and also as sire of sisters Preach and Yarn, respectively the dams of Pulpit (sire of Justify’s second dam) and Myth (dam of Scat Daddy’s sire Johannesburg). But all this dash is weighted by that a copper-bottomed Classic force, Nijinsky: not only as the sire of Scat Daddy’s second dam, and grandsire (through Baldski) of Justify’s third dam; but also as damsire of Narrate, the dam of Preach and Yarn. (And actually Narrate’s sire, Honest Pleasure, is a brother to What A Pleasure, sire of Justify’s fourth dam: more ballast across the pedigree.)

In Vino Rosso, that pattern is magnified: between Mr P. glitz, and one of the ultimate conduits of broodmare class and hardiness in Deputy Minister. The Mr P. arrives straight down the line, 3 x 4: a sire by his son Smart Strike; and a dam by his grandson Street Cry (Ire) (Machiavellian). Deputy Minister, likewise 3 x 4, appears as damsire of Curlin; while his son Touch Gold (out of a mare by another broodmare sire legend in Buckpasser) is responsible for second dam Flaming Heart.

Vino Rosso’s bottom line has mild distinction, overall, though it’s fun to note that both the grand-dams of Flaming Heart’s mother were by Lt. Stevens, a son of the linchpin matriarch Rough Shod. Beyond that you find some pretty arcane influences: Vino Rosso’s sixth dam, for instance, is by the exported British speedball Pappa Fourway.

Vino Rosso has spent much of his life in Justify’s shadow. Even before they had left Glennwood, the herd leader seemed to know who he was. Tanya Gunther once memorably compared them to the Fonz and Richie Cunningham from the old TV series “Happy Days”: Justify, the biker swaggering around in his leather jacket; Vino Rosso clean-cut, eager-to-please. Evidently his deportment at the 2016 September Sale was correspondingly laid back, but he caught Crupi’s eye as Hip 528 and made $410,000.

Crupi’s fellow Italian-American patrons gave their new colt a name that would invite the most obvious of “brindisi” (toasts). And he gave them a memorable opportunity the day he won the Wood, a very special race for guys raised in the neighbourhood; not least given Viola’s success in the GI Carter H. on the same card with another Crupi discovery, Army Mule (Friesan Fire).

At the time, Crupi complimented Viola for giving horses all the time they need. But as Viola told us the other day, that was precisely the lesson he most valued from Crupi. One way or another, Vino Rosso–having always been mellow in character–now appears to be maturing, like fine Chianti, into an animal worthy of the names on the label. And that’s saying something: planted by Gunther, harvested by Crupi.

So ultimately, perhaps, we don’t really need to ask ourselves whether someone up there might be taking a benign interest in a mere horserace. Because Crupi had long since made all the necessary difference to Vino Rosso, by all his patient development of talent. Perhaps he even imparted something of his own indomitable spirit. As such, then, Crupi would perhaps now like nothing more than for his countless friends simply to raise a glass to his memory–and to enjoy Vino Rosso among all his other living, vital and lasting legacies.

The post Keeneland Winner’s Circle: Raise a Glass of Vino Rosso to Crupi appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Trainer Burness Captures Trio of Wins at Woodbine Sunday

Wed, 2019-05-29 15:48

When Ashlee Burness was just three years old, her father hoisted the toddler up on the back of his horse in the Woodbine winner’s circle. While it made for a fantastic picture, one that still adorns the trainer’s office at the Toronto track, the track stewards didn’t let the rebellious John Burness off the hook without a fine. That was just the beginning of Burness’s career in the horse racing industry.

This past Sunday, Burness reached a new milestone in her 12 years in the training business when three of her runners posted victories at Woodbine.

“Nobody expects a three-win day, it was a first time for me for sure,” said Burness. “We were expecting them all to run well, they were all training well but it’s horse racing. You never know. If it’s a horse race they can all lose.”

The three runners were Now Play Nice (Roman Ruler), Bear Paw (Bear’s Kid) and Analyzer (Leonnatus Anteas). Purchased for $50,000 at this past winter’s KEEJAN sale, Now Play Nice appeared to be a promising broodmare prospect for Burness’s father, who owns the 300-acre Colebrook Farms in Unxbridge, Ontario. John Burness has been in the breeding and racing side of the business for over 50 years.

Previously trained by David Cotey, Now Play Nice went off as the longest shot on the board and rallied gamely through the stretch to score by a half-length. “We weren’t ready to breed her quite yet and she pleasantly surprised us winning like that after that time off [her last race was Dec. 12 at Woodbine],” said Burness.

Burness’s other two winners of the day, Bear Paw and Analyzer, are both Colebrook Farms’ homebreds, though Bear Paw is jointly owned with John Burness’s long-time partner, Danny Dion. Bear Paw was making her second start of the year off a five month lay-off and the consistent four-year-old filly has only been off the board once in her 12-race career competing over the Woodbine synthetic, including a win in last year’s Classy n’ Smart S. Burness mentioned Bear Paw will be pointing towards a stakes race for her next start.

Analyzer recorded his first triumph against winners by a length in the 10th race after breaking his maiden in a $40,000 maiden optional claiming race Oct. 20. The chestnut gelding had been preparing for a big effort with a series of steady breezes, the most noteworthy being an Apr. 27 five-eighths blow out in 1.00.80 (5/84).

Burness began training back in 2007 when her father threw her the reins, literally, after firing his head trainer, Frank Passaro. “My dad said: ‘Here’s 50 horses, figure it out-verbatim. That’s how it happened.”

Burness won the La Prevoyante S. with Reconnect (Niigon) in her first year of training, which coincidentally occurred on her wedding day. “I missed part of the wedding because I had snuck away with my dad to watch the races. Everyone was like where’s Ashlee? Where’s John?”

Johnny Bear, however, was the horse that took the Burness family and Bear Stables’ for a whirlwind of a ride over the last few years. Burness recalls the CANSEP sales topper looked the part of a star from day one, and repaid every bit of his $278,823 price tag after notching Woodbine’s GI Northern Dancer S. in consecutive years (2017-2018). Unfortunately, the now eight-year-old gelding fractured his right front leg during a routine workout in Florida this past winter.

“That was one of the worst phone calls I’ve ever received,” recalls Burness. “We rushed him off to the Ocala Equine Clinic and they did the surgery right there. The injury wasn’t life-threatening and he’s honestly the horse of a lifetime. It doesn’t matter how much money it costs to fix him. If he comes back to the races again, we’ll see, but if not, my only care is that he lives out his life as a happy old man at the farm.”

Johnny Bear reportedly came out of his surgery in good condition and is set to have an X-ray in three weeks. The earner of $702,706 is currently rehabbing at Colebrook Farms.

“The horse owes us nothing, he’s the horse of a career for me. I’m just happy the farm has the facilities to provide the care for him,” said Burness.

Meanwhile, Burness currently oversees 100 horses-in-training between Woodbine and Colebrook Farms. She credits the barn’s success Sunday to her diligent employees, her assistant Patrick Dickson and her foreman of nearly 10 years, Pablo.

The post Trainer Burness Captures Trio of Wins at Woodbine Sunday appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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