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Updated: 8 hours ago

Varian Secures February Record-Setter

Fri, 2018-02-02 10:18

A new record was set for the Tattersalls February sale on Friday when Classic prospect Willie John (GB) (Dansili {GB}-Izzi Top {GB}, by Pivotal {GB}) (lot 379) was bought by trainer Roger Varian on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid for 1.9-million guineas. Previously in training with William Haggas, Willie John was being offered as part of the selection of horses owned in part by Mayfair Speculators. A 325,000gns yearling in this ring at the October Sale two years ago, Willie John was a winner in his lone outing at Yarmouth on Oct. 16 for Markus Jooste and China Horse Club.

Figures Rise At Karaka Book 2

Fri, 2018-02-02 10:07

New Zealand Bloodstock’s decision to alter the format of its Karaka yearling sale appears to have been vindicated, with the gross at the conclusion of Book 2 on Friday surpassing the previous high at this point set in 2010. Total receipts for six sessions currently sit at NZ$95,242,000, while the cumulative average of NZ$120,712 is up 18% on last year, and the combined median is up 23% to NZ$80,000. The overall clearance rate is 80%.

The two-day Book 2 saw 248 sold from 335 offered for NZ$11,543,000. The Book 2 average was NZ$45,544, and the median NZ$40,000. The clearance rate was 74%. The three-day Select Sale would have traditionally followed on from the two-day Premier Sale under the sale’s past format.

“It’s great to see international participation continuing into Book 2,” NZB’s Bloodstock Sales Manager Danny Rolston said. “The success of the new format has not been at the expense of Book 2 with the average and median remaining at the same levels seen at the Select Sale last year. Combined Book 1 and 2 figures have outperformed the entire 2017 Sale, giving a healthy return to local breeders.”

While the overall Book 2 leader was a NZ$200,000 colt by Per Incanto sold to Hong Kong interests on day one, day two was topped by a Highly Recommended (Aus) colt who is a full-brother to stakes winner Waldorf (NZ) and a half to Group 3 winner Timy Tyler (NZ) (No Excuse Needed {NZ}) (lot 1011). He was bought by Waikato’s Ascot Farm.

British shuttler Showcasing (GB) enjoyed a strong session on Friday, siring three of the five top-priced lots. Chief among those was lot 906, a colt headed to Hong Kong after being bought by Winnie Kwan for NZ$160,000. Headed to Singapore is lot 1006, a Showcasing colt purchased for NZ$120,000, and a Showcasing filly (lot 1077) was bought by Auckland’s Bushmere Bloodstock for NZ$115,000. Sepoy (Aus) was also responsible for a six-figure colt, lot 1042 having been picked up by Wayne Ormond for NZ$125,000.

‘Pharoah Factor’ Could Boost Two FTKFEB Mares

Thu, 2018-02-01 17:20

There are just two mares being offered in foal to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah at the upcoming Fasig-Tipton Winter Mixed Sale and what many are calling the “Pharoah Factor” could give them a boost in the sales ring.

Mares in foal to the Triple Crown winner sold for an average of $410,416 in 2017, topped by $1.25 million KEENOV buy Life Well Lived (Tiznow). His first crop of weanlings averaged $467,307 at last year’s November sales with a half-sister to Bodemeister topping the list at $1 million. American Pharoah’s yearlings have been equally well received already with a half-brother to MG1SW Caravaggio (Scat Daddy) bringing $1 million just a few weeks ago at Keeneland January.

Touch and Smile (Ghostzapper) was originally the only mare being offered at Fasig-Tipton in foal to American Pharoah prior to the addition of the supplemental hips. Campaigned by Sol Kumin’s Head of Plains Partners and trainer Wesley Ward, Hip 494 retired with a record of 10-3-2-3 and $76,240 in earnings. The stakes-placed mare put in her final workout May 22 and was bred to the three-time Eclipse winner June 14.

“We were trying to pick off a stake with her,” said Ward, who is a partner on the mare. “She was more of a Polytrack horse than anything else. She had been in training a long time because unfortunately she missed in the race we had pointing for at Turfway and was just placed. She was a little bit over the edge, where she may have needed a break and it was at a bad time with what to do next [so we retired her]. I talked to Sol about it and he thought it would be a good idea to go to the greatest horse of modern times. Unfortunately, she got a very late cover date, but she is in foal to a great horse and we will see what happens.”

When asked why they chose the February sale over January or November for the 5-year-old mare, who will be consigned by St. George Sales, Ward said, “We could go late because she was bred so late as well. She can stand out because of American Pharoah and originally was the only [mare in foal to American Pharoah] in the sale. She is a nice looking mare and hopefully with the Pharoah factor, it will be a nice foal. We will see what happens.”

Darby Dan Farm will consign a late addition to the sale in Conquestadory (Speightstown), who is also in foal to American Pharoah with a May 19 cover. Bred by Eugene Melnyk, the 7-year-old is a daughter of Christie Village (Deputy Minister), a half-sister to MGISW and blue hen mare Take Charge Lady (Dehere), who is the dam of champion Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) and GI Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy (A.P. Indy).

Global Thoroughbreds signed the $85,000 ticket for the unraced mare, who sold in foal to Candy Ride (Arg) as part of the Conquest Stables dispersal at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. They partnered with Three Rivers Farm and bred her back to American Pharoah after she delivered her Candy Ride colt, which was her third foal by that Lane’s End sire.

“She is from the family of Take Charge Lady and is a very balanced nice-looking filly,” said Dr. Gustavo Vautier, who is an advisor for Three Rivers Farm. “They have a baby by Candy Ride and we bred her back to American Pharoah. I advised my client to go and sell now because of how the market is.”

Like Ward, Darby Dan’s Director of Sales Hunter Houlihan said he thinks the “Pharoah Factor” will give Hip 533 an edge.

“I think she should be very well received given her pedigree and the American Pharoah factor,” Houlihan said. “I saw an ad in the TDN just the other day where Coolmore was touting a pretty stout foal average just from that first group of American Pharoah babies. The mare’s female family is one you struggle to get into and families like that are only on offer so often. When they are, people realize they have to pay a premium.”

The Fasig-Tipton Winter Mixed Sale will run Feb. 5-6 with sessions starting at 10a.m.

 

NYRA Brings Back Enhanced 2YO Stakes Program

Thu, 2018-02-01 15:45

Eight maiden races worth $100,000 each will be offered this spring as part of the New York Racing Association’s ongoing program for 2-year-olds leading up to the Astoria S. and Tremont S., both part of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and the first two juvenile stakes of the year, it was announced Thursday.

For fillies, Astoria Trial A, at 4 1/2 furlongs, will be run Apr. 18 at Aqueduct. Astoria Trial B and C will be run May 3 and May 16 at Belmont–both at five furlongs–all in preparation for the 5 1/2-furlong Astoria Thursday, June 7. Tremont Trial A, at 4 1/2 furlongs, will be run Apr. 19, with Tremont Trial B and C at five furlongs scheduled for May 4 and May 17 at Belmont. The Tremont, also at 5 1/2 furlongs, will be held Friday, June 8. Additionally, NYRA will once again supplement the juvenile spring program with a pair of five-furlong turf trials at Belmont. For fillies, Astoria Trial D will be held May 24, while the Tremont Trial D will run May 25.

The fields for the trials are limited to 10, with the winner to receive $50,000 and all runners to be paid. Should 10 horses start, the second through sixth-place horses would receive $20,000, $10,000, $7,500, 5,000 and $4,000, respectively, with the remaining $3,500 divided among the seventh through 10th-place finishers. Additional bonuses worth a total of $25,000 will be offered to the owners and trainers of New York-breds who finish first, second or third in any state-bred or open maiden juvenile race held during the Aqueduct spring and Belmont spring/summer meets.

 

Good Magic Tops List of 360 Triple Crown Nominees

Thu, 2018-02-01 15:36

Newly crowned champion juvenile Good Magic (Curlin) heads a list of 360 3-year-olds made eligible during the early nomination phase of the 2018 Triple Crown, comprised of the $2 million GI Kentucky Derby, $1.5 million GI Preakness S. And $1.5 million GI Belmont S.

Other notable early nominees include dual Grade I winner Bolt d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro), GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Solomini (Curlin), GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf hero Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy), and Grade I-winning “TDN Rising Stars” McKinzie (Street Sense) and Sporting Chance (Tiznow).

Todd Pletcher, who saddle the Derby and Belmont winners in 2017, leads all trainers with 37 nominees and Triple Crown-winning conditioner Bob Baffert is second with 32.

Zayat Stables, who campaigned Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), topped the owner category with 12 horse nominated, followed by WinStar with 11. Charles Fipke leads the breeders with 11 homebred nominees and Gainesway was second with 10.

North America’s leading sire Tapit, who is responsible for two Belmont winners including 2017 hero Tapwrit, topped all stallions with 22 early nominees. Pioneerof the Nile has 12 and Candy Ride (Arg) and Curlin are tied at 11.

Out of the 360 sophomores nominated, 324 are colts, 20 geldings, 12 ridglings and four fillies, including MGSW “TDN Rising Star” Wonder Gadot (Medaglia d’Oro). A total of 19 nominees are based outside of the U.S. with 13 from Europe, three from Dubai and three from Japan.

 

Baffert Taking His Time With West Coast & Collected

Thu, 2018-02-01 15:13

Bob Baffert was pleased with how West Coast (Flatter) (second) and Collected (City Zip) (seventh) exited last Saturday’s GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational S., but will take his time in deciding future plans for both horses.

West Coast was named 2017’s champion 3-year-old male on the back of wins in the GI Travers S. and GI Pennsylvania Derby Thursday night. On Saturday, the bay proved he would be a force to be reckoned with as a 4-year-old as well when gamely chasing home Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) in the Pegasus. He finished 2 1/2 lengths behind that dual Eclipse winner in second, but was 10 3/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Gunnevera (Dialed In).

“He really showed up,” Baffert said. “He has just been a very consistent horse and keeps getting better. He came out of the race very well. He is back here at Santa Anita and goes back to the track tomorrow. He is a little tired from the shipping, but he looks good.”

Last year, Baffert sent his inaugural Pegasus winner and champion Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) on to Dubai following his romp in Hallandale.

When asked if West Coast would follow the same route, the Hall of Famer said, “We don’t know yet. We are going to wait. We haven’t sat down and mapped out anything for him yet. I just wanted to get him back here and give him a couple of weeks. I’ll go light on him and see how he is. We will know in a couple of weeks which way we are leaning towards.”

Baffert was also represented by GI Pacific Classic hero and GI Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Collected in the Pegasus. The chestnut faded to seventh after setting the early pace.

“Collected came out really well,” the conditioner said. “We sent him to a farm in Ocala. We will kick him out for 30 days and let him be a horse. I don’t have things planned for him yet, but we were thinking of trying him once on turf. We always thought he would be a great turf miler. That was the plan at Del Mar to run him on the turf there, but he worked so well over the Del Mar [main track], so we decided to try him in the big race there [the Pacific Classic].”

 

Benbatl Much The Best At Meydan

Thu, 2018-02-01 14:05

Benbatl (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), the winner of last year’s G3 Hampton Court S. at Royal Ascot, took his Dubai campaign to a perfect two on Thursday when notching his third group win in the G2 Al Rashidiya S. at Meydan. Settling in the third flight and off the fence as Mike de Kock’s much anticipated South African import Al Sahem (SAf) (Silvano {Ger}) set the pace in his local debut, Benbatl had that same rival trainer’s last-out carnival winner Light the Lights (SAf) (Western Winter) on his heels. Moving into the three path for running room at the quarter pole, Benbatl swept to the lead as the South African Classic winner Al Sahem (SAf) (Silvano {Ger}) swiftly packed it in at the 300. Fellow Godolphin colourbearer Bay Of Poets (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}) chased in vain thereafter but Benbatl was the clear class of the race.

Thursday, Meydan, Dubai
AL RASHIDIYA SPONSORED BY JEBEL ALI PORT-G2, $200,000, MEY, 2-1, NH4yo/up & SH3yo/up, 1800mT, 1:48.42, gd.
1–BENBATL (GB), 126, c, 4, by Dubawi (Ire)
1st Dam: Nahrain (GB) (Hwt. 3yo Filly-Eng at 9.5-11f, G1SW-Fr & US, GSP-Ire, $1,041,961), by Selkirk
2nd Dam: Bahr (GB), by Generous (Ire)
3rd Dam: Lady of the Sea (GB), by Mill Reef
‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Godolphin; B-Darley (GB); T-Saeed bin
Suroor; J-Oisin Murphy. $120,000. Lifetime Record: GSW-Eng,
9-4-1-1, $451,888. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Bay of Poets (Ire), g, 4, Lope de Vega (Ire)–Bristol Bay (Ire),
by Montjeu (Ire). (€190,000 wnl ’14 GOFNOV; 400,000gns yrl
’15 TATOCT) O-Godolphin; B-Ammerland Verwaltung Gmbh &
Co Kg (IRE); T-Charlie Appleby. $40,000.
3–Bravo Zolo (Ire), 126, g, 6, Rip Van Winkle (Ire)–Set Fire (Ire),
by Bertolini. (€68,000 yrl ’13 GOFOCT; 170,000gns HRA ’16
TATOCT) O-Godolphin; B-Tipper House Stud (IRE); T-Charlie
Appleby. $20,000.
Margins: 3 3/4, 2, SHD.
Also Ran: Light the Lights (SAf), Earnshaw, Sharpalo (Fr), Al Sahem (SAf). Click for the Racing Post result. VIDEO.

Benbatl earned ‘TDN Rising Star’ status with a first-out win at Doncaster in April, and was pitched into the G1 Investec Derby off a third in the G3 Craven S. and a second in the G2 Dante S. A respectable fifth, beaten 3 1/2 lengths, in the blue riband, Benbatl fulfilled his promise when dropped down to 2000 metres at Royal Ascot. Well beaten behind Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) in the G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S., Benbatl was a non-threatening sixth in the G3 Superior Mile at Haydock on Sept. 9. His local debut was a 2 1/4-length win in the Jan. 11 G3 Singspiel S. over this trip.

Pedigree Notes…

Benbatl is the first foal out of the GI Flower Bowl Invitational S. and G1 Prix de l’Opera winner Nahrain (GB) (Selkirk), herself a daughter of the G2 Ribblesdale S. and G3 Musidora S. winner and dual Oaks placed Bahr (GB) (Generous {Ire}). It is a family that traces back to the New Zealand champion La Mer (NZ) (Copenhagen II {GB}). Nahrain has an unraced 3-year-old named Ta Allak (GB) (New Approach {Ire}), a 2-year-old Dansili (GB) colt named Montzar (GB) and a yearling full-sister to Benbatl. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.

‘Rising Star’ ‘Drills’ Allowance Foes at Gulfstream

Wed, 2018-01-31 14:32

4th-GP, $45,400, Alw (NW1X), Opt. Clm ($25,000), 1-31, 4yo/up, 6f, 1:08.87, ft.
ARMY MULE (c, 4, Friesan Fire–Crafty Toast, by Crafty Prospector) was making his first start since earning TDN Rising Star status for an 8 1/2-length debut success at Belmont Park last April and overcame a sluggish dispatch to score with condescending ease Wednesday afternoon at Gulfstream Park. After bobbling slightly at the break, the Pennsylvania-bred quickly mustered at the fence beneath Javier Castellano and did not have to expend too much energy to get onto the leaders’ heels before the field hit the turn. Taken a snug hold of from there, Army Mule was angled out into the three path at the apex of the bend, swept to the lead with better than a furlong to travel and was ridden out hands and heels to score by 7 1/2 lengths in slick time. A half-brother to Platinum Steel (Eddington), SP, $171,013; and to SP Special Ruth (Forest Camp), Army Mule cost the braintrust at David Scanlon’s Scanlon Training & Sales just $35,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton October sale, but made for a tremendous pinhooking success when hammering to Crupi’s New Castle Farm for $825,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. He worked an eighth of a mile in :10 flat at the auction’s under-tack preview. The dam of a 2-year-old colt by the expatriated Old Fashioned, Crafty Toast was covered by both Imagining and Normandy Invasion last year. Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0, $71,400. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-St. Elias Stable; B-Hope Hill Farm (PA); T-Todd A Pletcher.

Mask Sidelined for Two Weeks

Wed, 2018-01-31 14:11

Lanes End Racing’s ‘TDN Rising Star’ Mask (Tapit), who skyrocketed on many GI Kentucky Derby contender lists with a rousing victory in the Jan. 8 Mucho Macho Man S., will be sidelined from training for two weeks with a setback, according to trainer Chad Brown. The undefeated colt was under consideration for the Feb. 17 GII Risen Star S., but will be forced to miss the race.

“He’s unfortunately had a setback, he’ll miss about two weeks of training and we’re anxious to get him back on track,” Brown said. “We’ll evaluate him from there.”

Mask split horses to notch a convincing three-length victory in his 6 1/2-furlong debut at Belmont Oct. 20, defeating promising next-out winner Navistar (Union Rags) in the process. After shipping south for the winter, the $685,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase wired the field in a 6 1/4-length romp in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream. He registered one published workout since the race, a four-furlong breeze at Palm Meadows Jan. 20.

Mask and e Five Racing’s Good Magic (Curlin), recently voted champion juvenile male of 2017, are considered Brown’s two primary contenders on the road to the Kentucky Derby. Brown has previously stated that Good Magic is likely to make his sophomore debut in Gulfstream’s GII Fountain of Youth S. Mar. 3.

 

Talismanic To Dubai World Cup

Wed, 2018-01-31 13:28

Godolphin’s GI Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Talismanic (Medaglia d’Oro), most recently second to Highland Reel (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the G1 Hong Kong Vase on Dec. 10, will target the Mar. 31 G1 Dubai World Cup, where he would be making his first start on dirt.

“Talismanic is on course for the Dubai World Cup,” said Godolphin’s French representative Lisa-Jane Graffard. “Andre Fabre suggested it after he came back from the Breeders’ Cup as a potential long-range target. The horse has wintered really well and looks in great condition. He appears to have fully recovered from his trips to Del Mar and Hong Kong.”

“The [Dubai World Cup] is the target for him now as the horse appears to have some aptitudes which would suggest it’s worth trying him on dirt,” Graffard continued. “In regularly training, albeit doing steady work, at Del Mar he showed a very easy action on the dirt track there. He’s also a horse who is easy to place in his races and can lie up with the pace and is by a top-class dirt stallion. He has an excellent temperament and is a good traveller, adapting to different situations easily. It’s a big step into the unknown, but Andre Fabre is very talented at pinpointing objectives that might not seem obvious to anyone else.”

Graffard said Talismanic could prep at Meydan on Super Saturday on Mar. 10 or at Chantilly on Mar. 6.

Body and Soul: Back to the Future

Wed, 2018-01-31 12:22

Sometimes it’s staring you right in the face. In this case, it’s the fact that there are only two remaining viable branches of the once ubiquitous, and very popular, sire line of Halo. The two branches in question are that of Southern Halo and Sunday Silence.

And this is notable, and important, because? The answer is hidden in the origins, permutations, and travels of each branch since the dawn of the 2000s when each branch assumed its own physical and performance identity while other branches simply faded away.

In this examination, we will concentrate on the Southern Halo branch, specifically through his son More Than Ready, who enters 2018 poised to solidify his always respected, but rarely tumultuous, reputation as a dependable source of speed, acceleration, and quality. We do this because the Sunday Silence branch is still basically rooted in Japan, although it is showing signs of viability in North America and Europe. While pedigree data is abundant, we do not have enough viable biomechanical data to include that branch in this study (although, ironically, More Than Ready’s leading earner, the champion mare More Joyous {NZ}, is out of a mare by Sunday Silence).

More Than Ready, on the other hand, has indisputably sealed the deal as the most consistently successful North America- Australia shuttle sire in history-which is far beyond the most optimistic hopes of his connections when he went to stud in 2004.

He has also franked the form of his sire Southern Halo in terms of physical expression and geographical success. We have not found a similar instance of an American-bred sire whose influence as a sire in the Northern and Southern hemispheres includes sons, and grandsons, who are among the leading sires.

Other than as the sire of the elite performer More Than Ready, Southern Halo was not a huge success in Kentucky after an exceptional career in Argentina, but he left several good sons in the Pampas headed now by Sebi Halo.

The focus on More Than Ready comes about because of the serendipitous events of the past two months during which his son Roy H and his daughter Rushing Fall won Breeders’ Cup events in November. Meanwhile, More Than Ready’s son Catholic Boy became the only 2-year-old to win graded stakes on dirt and turf.

Compounding this news is the fact that More Than Ready’s best North American son to date, Verrazano, has his first crop ready to run in 2018, and the sire’s best Southern Hemisphere son, Sebring (Aus), is ranked among the top 10 sires in Australia again-and he has been every year since his first crop there turned three.

There are those who look at the pedigree of More Than Ready and wonder where he came from, because his direct female line produced very little quality through four generations despite a build-up of broodmare sires Woodman, Naskra, First Landing, and Better Self. However, the fifth dam was by Blue Larkspur, and her name was Belle of Troy, dam of the excellent racehorse and sire Cohoes. And, of course, Belle of Troy was a daughter of *La Troienne, ancestress of more great racehorses and producers than can fit on the heads of a passel of pins.

With that pedigree behind him, it’s not a surprise that More Than Ready was a terrific racehorse succeeding primarily at seven furlongs or less, with a Grade I victory in the King’s Bishop S. But many sprinter-leaning types don’t succeed as he has, and a study of his record, along with a biomechanical examination of his branch of the Halo line, reveals some interesting clues as to why he has become such a singular success.

He has sired 103 stakes winners in the Northern Hemisphere and 80 in the Southern. The average winning distance of his progeny in the North is 7.08 furlongs, with the average maximum winning distance being 7.44 furlongs. In the South, the corresponding averages are 6.66 and 7.03 furlongs. Thus, he fits right into the breeding and racing schemes of both hemispheres, able to bring speed to the more middle-distance type mares he gets in this country while redoubling the brilliant influences of the mares he gets in the speed-crazy South.

By reintroducing the Phenotype Target graphic as detailed in our previous column, we can see that one of the reasons More Than Ready (and much of the Southern Halo branch) “fits” successfully has to do with biomechanical properties. In biological terms, a breed carries on best when its male progenitors are closer to the average size and scope of a wide cross section of mares–and can pass those properties on to their descendants. That “average” is expressed in the center of the Phenotype Target.

In general, the Halo line was all over the place in terms of phenotype and aptitudes. Halo himself carried some weight (he would be in the Heavy category) and is probably the single most influential stallion of that type in the past half-century.

However, many of his sons were biomechanical outliers–i.e., they were extremely efficient racing machines but did not have the overall properties to mix with a wide cross-section of mare types and their sons, in turn, became inconsistent progenitors.

Our study of almost 50 Halo-line stallions shows that the Southern Halo branch has more consistently produced stallions that were closer to the average size and scope of the breed, i.e., the bullseye, than any other Halo branch. All of Halo’s other sons are in red, but the Southern Halo and More Than Ready sires are in blue and green. For the most part, they are where a majority of successful sires, and sire lines, used to come from back in the day. And as it looks, maybe ahead in the day.

(Bob Fierro is a partner with Jay Kilgore and Frank Mitchell in DataTrack International, biomechanical consultants and developers of BreezeFigs. He can be reached at bbfq@earthlink.net).

Tattersalls February A Winter Warmer

Wed, 2018-01-31 08:31

Markus Jooste was prevented from having runners at South Africa’s major Sun Met meeting last weekend amid the fallout from the Steinhoff accounting scandal, and some of the thoroughbreds in which he is involved in Europe are likely to provide a boost to the bottom line of the Tattersalls February Sale, which begins its two-day run on Thursday.

The mixed auction has been on the up in recent years, not just in numbers catalogued, which saw it stretched to two sessions in 2017 from its more regular stand-alone day. Twelve months ago also featured a new high mark when Easton Angel (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) was sold for 500,000gns to Mick Flanagan. That record price has to be under threat with the inclusion in the sale of the regally-bred Willie John (GB) (Dansili {GB}), catalogued as lot 379, to be sold from William Haggas’s Somerville Lodge on behalf of Jooste and the China Horse Club. It’s rare to see a Classic prospect change hands at this time in his career but the unusual circumstances of the colt’s current ownership means that he will return to the ring where he fetched 325,000gns as a yearling. Since then, the son of Meon Valley Stud’s dual Group 1 winner Izzi Top (GB) (Pivotal {GB}) has won his sole start–a seven-furlong novice race at Yarmouth–in eye-catching fashion, and he holds entries for the Derby and the Irish Derby.

“He looks great and is in good shape. All the vettings have been good and there’s been plenty of interest in him,” said Willie John’s trainer William Haggas, whose own Classic success stretches to Derby winner Shaamit (Ire) (Mtoto {GB}) and Oaks winner Dancing Rain (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}). “He won his maiden very impressively and he certainly has potential. Obviously we don’t want to lose him and if he’d been staying with us we’d have been looking at a campaign starting with the Craven Stakes.”

Other well-bred offerings co-owned by Jooste to be returning to Tattersalls for sale are Smoulder (GB), the 4-year-old Redoute’s Choice (Aus) half-sister to Legatissimo (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}), who will sell today as lot 150. On her previous appearance in Book 1 she fetched 725,000gns, while Key To My Heart (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who sells four lots later as 154, was a 1.3 million gns yearling and won the Listed Oaks Trial at Naas last season.

Also in the draft from the Castlebridge Consignment as lot 152 is Pocketfullofdreams (Fr) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), a half-sister to Group 2 winner The Juliet Rose (Fr) (Monsun {Ger}) who won a mile maiden and was runner-up in the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial for Jooste and the Coolmore partners.

Other notable Castlebridge offerings include the final mare from the Ballymacoll Stud dispersal, Thetis (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), who missed her intended slot in the December Sale. Offered as lot 149, she will be sold alongside her Lope De Vega filly foal who was born on Jan. 13.

Among a Juddmonte draft which, as ever, includes some interesting in-training prospects, two in-foal mares will be offered on the first day. Lot 70 is the regally-bred Listed winner Novellara (GB), a 15-year-old daughter of Sadler’s Wells and Modena (Roberto) and thus a half-sister to Group 1 winners Reams Of Verse (Nureyev) and Elmaamul (Diesis), and also to the dam of Midday (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}). Already a Group 3 producer, Novellara will be sold with a mid-April cover to Bated Breath (GB) and will be followed through the ring by Canada Water (GB) (Dansili {GB}) (lot 71), a full-sister to the Arc winner Rail Link (GB) who is carrying to Showcasing (GB) on a May 24 cover.

Among a 27-strong draft from Godolphin are two Shamardal fillies of note: lot 183, the unraced 3-year-old Endow (Ire), is a grand-daughter of the G1 Irish Oaks winner Pure Grain (GB) (Polish Precedent), while lot 186, Laughily (Ire), is also three and is out of a half-sister to G3 Prix de Cabourg winner and G1 Lockinge S. runner-up Alexandros (GB) (Kingmambo) from the further family of In The Wings (GB) (Sadler’s Wells).

Buyers on the lookout for a progressive staying or dual-purpose prospect will doubtless be scrutinising the well-credentialed Zenon (Ire), a 4-year-old son of Galileo (Ire) and the Indian champion filly Jacqueline (Ind) (King Charlemagne) who has won twice for John Gosden and is rated 96. He is catalogued as lot 394, two lots before Gracious Diana (GB) (Foxwedge {Aus}) (396), an impressive maiden winner last season at Newbury and a half-sister to the classy stayer and Australian-based stallion Dandino (GB) (Dansili {GB}).

A popular feature of the February Sale at Tattersalls has been the staging of the TBA Flat Stallion Parade before trading commences on the opening day. This year, 14 first- and second-season stallions will be on site in the Left and Right Yards and will parade through the ring at 11am. These include Ardad (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), Danon Ballade (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), Frankel’s full-brother Proconsul (GB) (Galileo {Ire}), Australian newcomer Spill The Beans (Aus), who is the first son of Snitzel (Aus) to stand in Europe, and his fellow National Stud resident Time Test (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}).

27 Added to F-T Winter Sale

Tue, 2018-01-30 17:57

Twenty seven additional offerings–including racing and/or broodmare prospects, in-foal mares and short yearlings–have been added to the Fasig-Tipton Winter Mixed sale catalogue. Listed as hips 548 to 574, they are available to view online now. Among the supplemented entries are:

Lirica (Kantharos), a stakes winner at two and three from the female family of 2017 GI Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity winner McKinzie (Street Sense). She will be offered as a racing/broodmare prospect by Taylor Made Sales agency as hip 548.

Secret Garden (Per) (Flanders Fields), a Group 1 winner in her native country from the family of Bernardini consigned as a racing/broodmare prospect by South Point Sales Agency, Agent XI as hip 549.

Girl Talk (Medaglia d’Oro), a stakes-placed racing or broodmare prospect out of MGSW One Caroline (Unbridled’s Song) and a half to GSP Improv (Distorted Humor). She will be consigned by Craig and Holly Bandoroff’s Denali Stud on behalf of Ramona Bass and Cheyenne Stables as hip 574.

The sale will be held Monday, Feb. 5 and Tuesday, Feb. 6 in Lexington.

 

EHV-1 Quarantine at Portland Meadows

Tue, 2018-01-30 15:22

Portland Meadows in Oregon is the latest Thoroughbred racetrack to have a quarantine imposed after a 7-year-old mare was diagnosed with the “wild” strain of equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1).

The Oregon Department of Agriculture reported that the mare developed mild ataxia on Jan. 25, and while neither the neuropathogenic or wild type strains of EHV-1 were detected by blood testing, nasal swab samples confirmed the wild-type strain.

“Portland Meadows racetrack veterinary authorities have quarantined the index case and high-risk contacts in a barn separate from other horses,” the Equine Disease Communication Center reported Jan. 30. “Enhanced biosecurity measures have been implemented. The index case is stable and non-febrile. High risk contacts are being closely monitored. To date, there have been no additional sick animals reported.”

Earlier this month, EHV-1 quarantines were imposed and subsequently released at Belmont Park in New York and Laurel Park in Maryland.

 

Indian Star Progressing Nicely in Florida

Tue, 2018-01-30 13:03

Serjeant At Arms (Ind) (Ikhtyar {Ire}) drilled five furlongs over the Palm Meadows turf course in :59 1/5 Jan. 27 in the company of Grade I winner Ring Weekend (Tapit) and is about a month away from his U.S. debut, trainer Graham Motion said Jan. 30.

Owned by Mr. & Mrs. K. N. Dhunjibhoy, Serjeant At Arms was victorious in 12 of his 14 career starts in India, 10 of which came in black-type races, including the 2016 Kingfisher Ultra Derby Bangalore (2000m) (video) and the Indian 2000 Guineas at Mumbai (1600m) (video). The Southern Hemisphere 4-year-old cleared quarantine in Chicago in early November and was vanned to Motion’s base a Fair Hill in Maryland before recently joining the string at Palm Meadows.

The conditioner has been pleased with the way Serjeant At Arms has taken his travel and acclimated to the U.S.

“He really had a long trip,” Motion said. “I was surprised how well he handled it–condition-wise he looked really well and didn’t lose a lot. Knock on wood, he really hasn’t missed a beat since he got to us. We gave him the better part of a month of pretty much doing nothing when he got here [to Fair Hill] and then once we got him going, he’s gone on from there.”

Saturday’s drill was Serjeant At Arms’s fifth since his arrival in Florida and easily his stiffest to date.

“He worked down on the rail while everyone else was around the cones, so the time looks fast, but take nothing away from it,” Motion said. “It was a very good work, I was very happy with how he did it. He’s been very straight-forward and a pleasure to be around. He’s really taken to the training.”

He continued, “I haven’t noticed anything that he’s taken a while to get adjusted to. That Palm Meadows turf course can be a little tight, a little different for a horse to come to, but he’s taken to everything.”

All things equal, Motion said Serjeant At Arms will remain on a weekend work regimen for the next month.

“He and Ring Weekend will probably work together from now on, they’re very much on the same schedule,” Motion said. “I think they’re going to need another month, so we’re going to be looking for something around the end of February or the beginning of March or so. I’m getting to the point where I could start looking for something. I imagine we’ll be looking at similar races for both of them–mile or mile and a sixteenth, Grade III, Grade II.”

Motion said he was put in touch with Serjeant At Arms’s owners through Cheveley Park Stud Managing Director Chris Richardson.

“I think it’s a very sporting for them thing to [send the horse to the U.S.], Motion commented. “I think they felt he’d accomplished so much in India and wanted to see how he stacks up with our horses and I think they’re excited about the prospect. There’s a lot of interest in it in India, which is great.”

A son of Sheikh Hamdan’s SW & GSP Ikhtyar, Serjeant At Arms is one of six full stakes winners for Rahy’s Serenade (Rahy–Shihama, by Shadeed), who was exported to India after being purchased in foal to Allied Forces for $8,000 from the Walmac consignment at the 1999 Keeneland November sale. The further female family includes champion Sayyedati (GB) (Shadeed), her graded-stakes winning son Almushahar (Silver Hawk) and MG1SW Golden Snake (Danzig).

Serjeant At Arms’s lifetime record stands as 14-12-2-0 for earnings of $670,325.

Dettori Contract Reduced

Tue, 2018-01-30 09:57

Frankie Dettori’s contract with Al Shaqab Racing has been reduced, his agent Peter Burrell confirmed to The Times. Burrell said it was the operation’s shift in concentration to France that necessitated the change.

“They have reduced the number of horses by 50% in Britain and the contract makes allowance for that,” Burrell told The Times. The agent said of Dettori’s previous contract, which stretched back to 2013, “It would be correct to say that [the retainer] was a substantial six-figure sum.”

Despite the cut Dettori will presumably not be short of quality mounts in 2018, his rides outside the Al Shaqab banner including John Gosden’s champion 3-year-olds Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) and Cracksman (GB) (Frankel {GB}).

It has been reported that Al Shaqab has in recent months owed its trainers considerable debts, which Al Shaqab General Manager Khalifa Al Attiya linked to organizational restructuring and an issue between offices in Europe and Qatar.

Study Finds Male, Female Jockeys Equal

Tue, 2018-01-30 09:30

The performance of male and female jockeys, when quality of horses ridden is considered, is equal, according to a study carried out through the Thoroughbred Horseracing Industries MBA at the University of Liverpool.

The study used detailed analysis techniques on data covering a 14-year period, which showed that only 11.3% of professional licensed jockeys are female, and those were responsible for just 5.2% of available rides.

Vanessa Cashmore, author of the study, said, “This study strongly indicates that female jockeys are every bit as good as their male counterparts. I hope it helps to provide more opportunities for female jockeys and also encourages more women to further their careers as race riders.”

Nick Rust, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said, “This study provides further evidence towards something that many in the industry have felt for some time–that there is no reason why female jockeys should not be considered as good as their male counterparts. We are proud that British racing is one of the few sports where men and women can compete on equal terms. However, if female jockeys are not being given the same opportunities as the men, then this cannot be considered as equality. Understanding why there are fewer female jockeys than male, and why those jockeys get fewer rides than the men–in particular in higher profile races–is something that we are determined to address, and will be considered by the sport’s dedicated Diversity in Racing Steering Group.”

The BHA said in a statement that it will continue to monitor the results of France’s female weight allowance initiative combined with the views of the Diversity in Racing Steering Group and the findings of this study in determining any steps that should be taken to improve opportunities for female jockeys.

World Approval on Target for Tampa

Mon, 2018-01-29 18:17

Live Oak Plantations’ World Approval (Northern Afleet), named champion turf horse during last week’s Eclipse ceremony at Gulfstream Park, is on target to make his 2018 debut in the GIII Tampa Bay S. The gray, off since winning the Nov. 4

GI Breeders’ Cup Mile, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 over the turf at Palm Meadows Saturday.

“After the Breeders’ Cup, we sent him home to [Charlotte Weber’s] Live Oak [in Ocala], which we do every year, and got him back the last week of December,” trainer Mark Casse said. “He looks good and is ready to go, and we’re hoping for another big year. This is just the beginning. Johnny [Velazquez] will be coming to Tampa to ride him.”

After the Tampa Bay, World Approval could ship to Dubai for the Mar. 31 G1 Dubai Turf.

In Sharper Focus: Promising Debut for Epical

Mon, 2018-01-29 17:37

Epical (Uncle Mo) brought the curtain down on a record-setting weekend of racing with a gritty debut victory in the final race of the day at Santa Anita Sunday. Going a mile on the turf, the bay ridgling battled favored Concur (Curlin) on the front end and put that foe away in deep stretch before bravely holding off the late charge of Fibonacci (Artie Schiller) to win by a neck.

The performance was no surprise to trainer Jim Cassidy.

“My expectations were high,” Cassidy said Monday. “That’s why I ran him at a mile the first time. We knew he wanted to route and I thought he’d like the grass. I’m not going to say I was cocky enough to say he would win, but I thought he would run really well. I told the jock, ‘Listen this is a pretty nice horse, so wherever he breaks, don’t mess with him. Just let him do his thing.’ And that’s pretty much what happened. But I’ll tell you what, that was as game an effort as I’ve seen for a long time from a horse.”

Epical RNA’d for $145,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale before being acquired privately by Deron Pearson’s D.P. Racing.

“He was a ridgling, so the one [testicle] that was up in his belly, we took it out,” Cassidy said of Epical’s late debut. “He didn’t get over it quite as quickly as I had hoped. That was what took me so long to get him ready.”

The bay trained forwardly towards Sunday’s debut, including a five-furlong work in :59 4/5 (2/39) Jan. 21.

“He was pretty straightforward most of the time and always happy to do whatever he did,” Cassidy said. “I’d worked him in company. I worked him with a couple of nice horses and he held his own.”

As for what is next, Cassidy added, “I just want to make sure he’s ok for the next few days. He looked pretty tired this morning.”

While Epical’s next start is still to be determined, Cassidy expects it will be on the turf.

“The Uncle Mos seem to like the turf better than they do the dirt,” Cassidy said. “Right now, he’ll stay on the turf.” Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

 

Bowman Set to Appeal Suspensions

Mon, 2018-01-29 15:39

Jockey Hugh Bowman, the regular pilot of superstar mare Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}), is set to appeal both careless riding suspensions he incurred on the weekend, racing.com reported. Bowman formally lodged an appeal with Racing NSW stewards on Monday and is going to do the same with New Zealand officials on Tuesday in an effort to be aboard the Chris Waller trainee when she resumes in the Feb. 17 G2 Apollo S.

Bowman currently needs his suspensions reduced by five days. He earned the first infraction from his winning ride aboard Tswalu (Aus) (Northern Meteor {Aus}) at Warwick Farm last Friday, which would suspend him from Feb. 4-15. Those dates were altered however, following his ride aboard Five To Midnight (NZ) (Domesday {Aus}) at Ellerslie on Saturday and he is now slated to be suspended from Jan. 29-Feb. 10 for the Warwick Farm suspension. Bowman’s New Zealand suspension would then begin on Feb. 10 and last through Feb. 21. A date for the appeal with Racing NSW is yet to be confirmed.

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