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Updated: 3 hours 37 min ago

Thursday’s Belmont Stakes Report: Justify ‘Flourishing’

Thu, 2018-06-07 16:08

ELMONT, NY – The crowds may not be quite as big as they were a few days ahead of American Pharoah’s historic Triple Crown sweep three years ago, but the mood here at Belmont Park is starting to feel awfully similar.

They were all lined up by the clubhouse gap-including Hall of Famers Bob Baffert and Mike Smith and WinStar Farm’s Elliott Walden–to watch unbeaten GI Kentucky Derby/GI Preakness S. winner Justify (Scat Daddy)’s first spin over Big Sandy after the break at 8:45 a.m. on a cool and cloudy Thursday morning.

The long-striding chestnut couldn’t have made a better first impression galloping for about 1 3/8 miles with extremely good energy with his ears up just awaiting a cue from regular exercise rider Humberto Gomez while under a snug hold. He shipped in from Baffert’s Churchill Downs base Wednesday afternoon.

“He went around there like he’s been here before,” Baffert said during his morning press briefing in the Belmont Cafe. “He just floated over this track. He couldn’t have looked any better today coming around there. He looks like a horse that is really flourishing.”

Justify, a jaw-dropping ‘TDN Rising Star’ debut winner at Santa Anita just four months ago Feb. 18, will already be making his sixth career start in the Belmont. How is he holding up to the workload?

“He’s the kind of horse that thrives on it,” Baffert replied. “He’s a big, strong powerful horse. I think he’s a throwback-I could’ve run him in between the Preakness and Belmont like in the old days.”

Baffert concluded, “I want to win it for the horse. I want Justify to be up there with those great horses. I’d like to see his name up there [with the Triple Crown winners]–number 13.”

No fewer than seven of the 10 Belmont S. runners were out for light training before the break, including Preakness second- and third-place finishers Bravazo (Awesome Again) and Tenfold (Curlin); and Florida Derby runner-up Hofburg (Tapit). Free Drop Billy (Union Rags) and Gronkowski (Lonhro {Aus}) flew in well under the radar while sharing the track with Justify.

There was plenty of other star power in action throughout the morning as well, headed by Kentucky Derby runner-up and last year’s champion 2-year-old colt Good Magic (Curlin), 2017-18 GI Kentucky Oaks winners Abel Tasman (Quality Road) (GI Ogden Phipps S.) and Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) (GI Acorn S.); and two-time G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Mind Your Biscuits (Posse) (GI Runhappy Metropolitan).

Distorted Humor Filly Scores on Debut at Belmont

Thu, 2018-06-07 15:38

3rd-Belmont, $85,000, Msw, 6-7, 3yo/up, f/m, 6 1/2f, 1:17.86, ft.

COSITA MIA (f, 3, Distorted Humor–Calais, by A.P. Indy) was hammered down to 3-2 favoritism for this unveiling and ran to the money with a gritty victory at Belmont Thursday afternoon. Breaking sharply from the outside post in this eight-horse affair, the chestnut took back to stalk from third, running in the two-path through early splits of :23.24 and :47.11. Ranging up on the outside turning for home, the homebred battled stablemate Communal (Elusive Quality) into the final furlong and kicked clear late for to win by 1 1/2 lengths. The winner’s unraced dam Calais is a daughter of champion Flanders (Seeking the Gold) and a half-sister to champion Surfside (Seattle Slew), who produced GSW Irish Surf (Giant’s Causeway). This is also the family of European Highweight and Coolmore stallion Air Force Blue (War Front). Purchased by Don Alberto for $450,000 at the 2013 Keeneland November sale carrying a foal by Ghostzapper, Calais is also responsible to a 2-year-old full-brother to the winner named Cogan; and produced Empire Maker fillies in both 2017 and 2018. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $51,000. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

O-Don Alberto Stable; B-Don Alberto Corporation (KY); T-Thomas Albertrani.

Wednesday’s Belmont Stakes Report: ‘Let’s Get It On’

Wed, 2018-06-06 17:53

ELMONT, NY – Well before unbeaten Triple Crown hopeful Justify (Scat Daddy)’s highly anticipated early afternoon arrival from Kentucky–more on that in a bit–there were plenty of GI Belmont Stakes runners out stretching their legs for routine gallops during early training hours on a beautiful Wednesday morning on Long Island.

The Todd Pletcher-trained pair of Vino Rosso (Curlin) and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Noble Indy (Take Charge Indy) were out at 6 a.m. sharp without their Belmont S. saddle towels on as the rising sun attempted to make its way through partly cloudy skies.

With the legendary D. Wayne Lukas riding shotgun aboard his stable pony, GI Preakness S. runner-up Bravazo (Awesome Again) wasn’t far behind the Pletcher duo entering the track about a minute or two later.

Blended Citizen (Proud Citizen), winner of the Belmont’s traditional prep GIII Peter Pan S., stood by the rail by the clubhouse gap and took in the somewhat surprising serene scene at 6:15 a.m. You can expect a much different atmosphere here in the coming days, that’s for sure.

Hofburg (Tapit), the 9-2 second-choice on the Belmont S. morning-line, entered through the tunnel accompanied by a pony after taking a tour of the paddock at 6:55 a.m.

‘TDN Rising Star’ Tijori, the first winner for champion 3-year-old colt and freshman sire Will Take Charge, really made her presence felt during this early timeslot as well. The striking chestnut, a $525,000 OBS March purchase by Kaleem Shah this spring, headlines Thursday’s Astoria S. after airing in a Santa Anita maiden special weight for Simon Callaghan last month.

Streaking European invader Gronkowski (Lohnro {Aus}) was the final of the Belmont contenders spotted training on the main track, galloping in a pair of black blinkers after the break just before 9 a.m.

There was plenty of activity in the picturesque Belmont paddock just before noon, too. With trainer Chad Summers keeping a close eye on his every move, school was in session for popular New York-bred Mind Your Biscuits (Posse). The two-time G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner is the 5-2 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s prestigious GI Runhappy Metropolitan H.

Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes led dual Classic winner Justify off the van to the familiar sound of clicking camera shutters in front of a packed house at Barn 1 just after 2 p.m. Just as he did in Baltimore, Barnes passed the baton to Baffert, who walked the big horse under the shedrow as the slew of media in attendance continued to snap away.

“He was, like, ‘Let’s get it on,'” Baffert said during a 15-minute press conference once Justify settled in. “He got off the van and he was dragging me around there and all the horses in the barn were all screaming and yelling–he got their attention somehow. It’s almost like they were greeting him. It’s a pretty cool feeling.”

Baffert concluded, “You’re in New York. The place is going to be rocking.”

Insights on the American Racing Scene: Thursday, June 7, 2018

Wed, 2018-06-06 17:28

3rd-BEL, $85K, Msw, 3yo/up, f/m, 6 1/2f, post time: 3:03 p.m. ET
A maiden befitting the start of the Belmont S. festival features a gaggle of well-bred firsters. Phipps homebred COVER STORY (War Front) is a son of MGSW & GISP Daydreaming (A.P. Indy), making her a half to Grade I-winning turfer Imagining (Giant’s Causeway), MSP Reflecting (Elusive Quality) and SP Browse (Medaglia d’Oro). Second dam Get Lucky (Mr. Prospector) was the dam of Daydreaming’s Grade I-winning full-brother Girolamo, GSW & GISP Accelerator (A.P. Indy) as well as Supercharger (A.P. Indy), dam of GI Kentucky Derby Super Saver (Maria’s Mon) and GSWs Cyrus Alexander (Medaglia d’Oro) and Brethren (Distorted Humor). Mybigitalianfriend (Union Rags), a half-brother to GISW Currency Swap (High Cotton), has been training well at Momouth Park for her debut; Jay Em Ess homebred Acting Chipper (Street Sense) is out of GSW & MGISP Acting Happy (Empire Maker), herself a daughter of GISW I Ain’t Bluffing; and Cosita Mia (Distorted Humor) is out of an unraced daughter of champion Flanders (Seeking the Gold), the dam of fellow Eclipse Award winner Surfside (Seattle Slew). TJCIS PPs

1st-CD, $51K, Msw, 2yo, 5 1/2f, post time: 5:00 p.m. EDT
DREAM MAKER (Tapit) gets his career started for owner/breeder John Oxley and trainer Mark Casse and has pedigree power in his corner, as he is a full-brother to last year’s GI Del Mar Oaks winner Dream Dancing and a half to GSP Sky Dreamer (Sky Mesa), the dam of UAE G3 winner Kimbear (Temple City). Second dam Beautiful Pleasure (Maudlin), a sister to MGISW Mecke, won the 1999 GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff for Oxley and trainer John Ward. Fluminense (More Than Ready) was hammered down for $410K at KEESEP last year, the fifth most expensive of 52 yearlings by his sire to sell. He is out of a half-sister to five black-type winners, including MGSW & MGISP Out of Control (Brz) (Vettori {Ire}). TJCIS PPs

4th-SA, $59K, Msw, 2yo, f, 5 1/2f, post time: 5:08 p.m. EDT
GIZA GODDESS (Cairo Prince) fetched $200K as a KEESEP yearling from West Point Thoroughbreds and Mercedes Stable and is out of a half-sister to MGSW The Pamplemousse (Kafwain) and SW American Lady (Stormy Atlantic), the latter of whom is the dam of a Pioneerof the Nile colt that fetched $850K at OBSMAR this year. TJCIS PPs

7th-SA, $61K, Alw/Opt. Clm., 3yo, f, 6f, post time: 6:47 p.m. EDT
Three Chimneys Farm homebred AMADA RAFAELA (Distorted Humor) got pounded into 7-10 favoritism for her track-and-trip debut May 5 and made that look like value when storming home to graduate by 8 1/4 lengths en route to the ‘TDN Rising Star’ badge. Same as he did with ‘Rising Star’ Justify (Scat Daddy) following his barnstorming debut success, trainer Bob Baffert elects to remove the blinkers for this first start against winners. TJCIS PPs

Fasig-Tipton July Catalogue Online

Wed, 2018-06-06 13:16

Fasig-Tipton has catalogued 349 selected yearlings for The July Sale, to be held Tuesday, July 10 at the company’s Newtown Paddocks in Lexington, Ky. starting at 10 a.m. The catalogue is now available to view online here and via the Equineline catalogue app. Print catalogues will be available beginning June 12.

“July was a very healthy market last year, and as a result, consignors have responded with increased quality and quantity,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “This year’s catalogue is our largest for July in nearly a decade, and boasts a significant uptick in sire power, as well.”

Nominations are also open for Fasig-Tipton’s July Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale, which will be held Monday, July 9. The auction house will accept nominations through late June.

“The July Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale was one of the strongest sales on the auction calendar last year,” said Browning. “The sale’s timing makes it very popular with buyers looking to load up their racing stables ahead of the major summer race meetings.”

Breeders’ Cup Introduces ‘Capture the Classic’ Challenge

Wed, 2018-06-06 13:00

Breeders’ Cup has launched a new, fantasy sports-themed promotion centered around the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series on NBC Sports called the Capture the Classic Challenge. The contest asks participants to predict the winners of six Classic Division races that will be televised on NBC or NBCSN, starting with this Saturday’s GI Belmont S. By accurately picking the winning horse, virtual owners will receive inside access to premium content about their horses, as well as a chance to win a $100,000 grand prize should one of them go on to win the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs.

Virtual owners will also be entered into a prize pool for the opportunity to win one of six VIP Ownership Experiences at the Breeders’ Cup, including round trip airfare for two, hotel accommodations, premium box seats and two tickets to the Taste of the World culinary event, to be chosen at random. Additional drawings will also be conducted after each designation Classic Division race for a $1,000 and $500 cash prize, respectively.

“Our goal with this promotion is to provide fans with a fun and engaging way to follow the top horses this summer as they make their way along the road to the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” said Justin McDonald, VP, Marketing & Digital for the Breeders’ Cup. “The idea is to curate custom, behind-the-scenes content for the virtual owners that will deepen their connection with the horse–as well as the human team behind it–and give them another reason to tune in to NBC Sports for the major Classic Division races this summer and ultimately the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”

McDonald added that some of the inspiration for the contest came from trying to incorporate the popularity of fantasy sports.

“There are definitely some similarities with a traditional season-long fantasy game where fans follow players on their roster closely all season long and develop a deeper level of affinity for those players,” he said. “We hope that holds true with this program and new and current fans learn more about learn more about our great equine and human athletes and their quest for the Classic.”

Fans can register for the promotion and select their horse for the first race, the Belmont, online now at As an added incentive, fans that attend the host track during a designated Classic Division race can automatically gain virtual ownership of the winning horse by entering an exclusive promotional code that will be displayed in the track program and in other Capture the Classic marketing materials at the track.

TDN Video: Scenes from the Belmont Draw

Wed, 2018-06-06 12:13

Trainers D. Wayne Lukas, Bob Baffert, Dale Romans and Todd Pletcher were among the horsemen represented at Tuesday night’s Belmont Stakes draw at Citi Field, and the four used the occasion for some good-natured ribbing of one another and NYRA host Andy Serling. Check out the TDN video below.


Justify Draws Rail In Belmont

Tue, 2018-06-05 17:54

QUEENS, NY–The Foxwoods Club at Citi Field couldn’t have been any more quiet as Larry Collmus got ready to announce unbeaten Triple Crown hopeful and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Justify (Scat Daddy)’s post position draw for Saturday’s GI Belmont Stakes.

“Justify has drawn the rail,” Collmus said of the GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness S. hero as the big crowd of media and horsemen assembled let out a couple of oohs.

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert could join the legendary “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons as the only two trainers to campaign multiple Triple Crown winners.

“I never do like to draw the rail,” said Baffert before throwing out Tuesday night’s first pitch at the Mets vs. Orioles game. “Most importantly, the horse is doing well. You can have a great post, but if you don’t leave there, you’re in trouble. We have it [rail draw], we can’t change it, so we’ll just deal with.”

Baffert made three Triple Crown attempts before finally achieving racing’s most difficult feat ending a 37-year drought with the brilliant American Pharoah in 2015.

“I’m very fortunate,” Baffert said. “This is my fifth time going through this. It never gets old. Once Pharoah did it there was a sense of relief that it can happen if you have the right horse and right circumstances. Now, we’re coming in here with another great horse that’s been phenomenal to date and just keeps bringing it. The races haven’t taken a toll on him. He looks strong.

Baffert continued, “There’s an excitement in the air coming in here, but we know it’s going to be tough. Right now, we’re just going to enjoy the moment and hope that if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”

Nine rivals will be standing in the 4-5 morning-line favorite’s way, including 9-2 second-choice Hofburg (Tapit) (post four), second in the GI Florida Derby and a troubled seventh in the Derby. The other runners in single digits and both at 8-1 on the morning line are Preakness runner-up Bravazo (Awesome Again) (post three) and GII Wood Memorial S. victor Vino Rosso (Curlin) (post eight).


It’s Here: Sports Betting Debuts at Delaware Racetracks

Tue, 2018-06-05 17:47

STANTON, DE–A fellow by the name of Tom Barton made his way to the front of the line at the windows in the simulcasting area at Delaware Park, peeled off ten $100 bills and told the teller to bet the money on the Yankees to win the World Series at odds of 5-1. By doing so, he made gambling history, placing the first significant legal U.S. sports wager outside of Nevada.

The day has finally come.

Very limited forms of bets had been allowed in three states besides Nevada–Delaware among them–but full-scale sports betting outside the Silver State had not been permitted in the U.S. until the Supreme Court of the United States struck down The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 in May. Monmouth Park, which was a leading figure in fighting PASPA, was expected to be the first facility to offer sports bet, but fell behind Delaware while New Jersey state politicians ironed out some final regulations. Monmouth is hopeful it can begin taking sports bets Friday.

Delaware’s two harness tracks, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway, also opened up their sports books yesterday. All three opened simultaneously at 1:30 p.m. For sports betting, they will normally be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

While one day of sports betting in one tiny state won’t provide much, if anything, in the way of how the new legal form of betting will affect horse racing, industry leaders will be watching carefully, not knowing what to expect. Because Monmouth Park is leased by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, profits from sports bets will definitely be used to help racing and, in particular, purses.

Delaware is also unique. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, it was allowed to take parlay-style wagers on games and the local horsemen’s group negotiated a 9.6% cut of the profits from those bets. It will get the same from all the new forms of sports betting. In virtually all other states where there is racing, there are no provisions in sports betting legislation that call for money to go to the sport. The fear is that sports betting could prove to be so popular that it will have a negative impact on wagering on racing and that tracks and casinos that get sports books will not funnel any of the money to the sport.

When asked if he thought sports betting would improve the quality of racing at Delaware, which has struggled in recent years due to increased casino competition in neighboring states, track president Bill Fasy said: “I’m hoping it’s not a detractor. You have your money in your pocket, you’re a horse bettor and you see the Eagles are playing this weekend and you’re also a fan of the Eagles. You might want to wager on the Eagles instead of the horses.”

Leslie Poland, a spokesperson for the Delaware Lottery, which operates the sports betting in the state said it was premature to make any projections so far how much would be handled in Delaware on an annual basis.

Because baseball was the lone U.S. sport being played Tuesday, it was an otherwise quiet day for sports betting. But as 1:30 p.m. approached, there was a noticeable energy in the building and people began to line up to wager and be able to say they were there when sports betting finally escaped outside of Nevada.

“Everyone has been waiting for this,” said Barton, a self-described professional gambler. “It feels like we just got released. You used to be able to bet on lotto, but not sports betting? Come on, how ridiculous is that? And now we finally can do it. To be able to do what we love, have some fun with it and, like me, make a living at it and not have to travel to Vegas all the time anymore, that is great.”

Barton was followed closely in line by Vince Kordic of Hagertsown, Maryland. He said he made a total of $150 in bets on soccer’s World Cup.

“I came specifically for the moment,” he said. “I looked to find what odds [offered] were better than other places I wager with. With the World Cup, that was the case on some of the longer-priced teams. I’ll be here Thursday for day baseball and will probably come once or twice a week, more during football season. I’ll still bet online offshore, but this gives me a chance to shop for odds.”

Kordic said he had a passing interest in racing and speculated that he may make a few horse bets on trips to Delaware Park.

Robert Williams of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, wagered $1,100 to win $1,000 on the Golden State Warriors to cover tomorrow night’s NBA championship round game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors are 4.5-point favorites. He said has also has an offshore betting account.

Like Kordic, he said he would be making return trips to Delaware Park, but would not be playing the horses.

“No horses,” he said “I don’t know anything about it at all. I have bet on horses before but its not my forte. In Vegas, I’d bet on horses occasionally, but that was only because they used to have rules where you got free drinks if you bet on horses but not on sports. It’s money and I take this seriously. I only bet on what I am knowledgeable about.”

While bricks and mortar facilities like Delaware Park will be the first out of the gate with sports betting, the future is, no doubt, on line. Fasy said Delaware Park should be able to accept on-line sports bets from Delaware residents by the fall.


Justify Connections Make Pledge to New Vocations

Tue, 2018-06-05 15:38

The connections of Triple Crown hopeful Justify (Scat Daddy)-owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing, SF Bloodstock, Head of Plains LLC, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith–have committed to donating a percentage of their GI Belmont S. earnings to support the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program.

“The China Horse Club, and all of our partners, take great pride in the care and welfare of our horses. New Vocations exemplifies all we believe in and support, in the aftercare of not just ours, but all horses,” said China Horse Club’s racing and bloodstock manager Michael Wallace. “As a group, we are proud to support New Vocations and its belief. We see a Triple Crown bid as an ideal platform to acknowledge the importance of aftercare.”

Anna Ford, Program Director for New Vocations, added, “We are thrilled to see the success this ownership group has had together as they are all longtime supporters of our efforts. Every member of this group truly cares about their horse’s well-being beyond the track; we are extremely grateful for their generosity as we rely heavily on donations to continue to serve hundreds of racehorses retiring each year.”

For more information, visit

‘Warrior’ Bound for Irish Derby

Tue, 2018-06-05 15:17

G1 2000 Guineas hero and G1 Investec Derby fourth Saxon Warrior (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) will contest the G1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh on June 30, Racing Post reported Tuesday evening. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, the 2017 G1 Racing Post Trophy victor will potentially face his Derby conqueror Masar (Ire) (New Approach {Ire}) in the 1 1/2-mile Classic.

O’Brien, who is gunning for his 13th Irish Derby scorer, told Racing Post, “We’ve talked things over and it’s been agreed Saxon Warrior will be aimed at the Irish Derby. He seems to have come out of Epsom well, and The Curragh is the plan.”

Other Ballydoyle runners have also had their next starts mapped out, with G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup hero Lancaster Bomber (War Front) bound for the G1 Prince of Wales’s S. at Royal Ascot on June 20; and G1 Irish 1000 Guineas ninth Clemmie (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) heading to the June 22 G1 Coronation S. Runner-up in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas, US Navy Flag (War Front) is pointing toward the G1 St James’s Palace S. on June 19 and G1 Investec Oaks heroine Forever Together (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) will tackle the Irish equivalent on July 21. GI Kentucky Derby participant Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy), a winner of the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and G2 UAE Derby, is still looking toward the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs as his long-term goal.

“Clemmie needed the run in the Irish Guineas and came out of the race well,” said O’Brien. “She’ll go for the Coronation, while Happily (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who ran third in both the Newmarket Guineas and Irish Oaks, will step up in trip in the [June 17] G1 Prix de Diane on Sunday week. The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the plan [for Mendelssohn] and he’ll probably have a couple of races in the US before then.”

McShane Hoping Paytience Pays Off

Tue, 2018-06-05 13:19

Jack McShane, who along with his wife Kelly, has campaigned three stakes-placed runners in his three years in the racing business, admitted he was having dreams of that first stakes winner after the impressive debut performance of ‘TDN Rising Star’ Mr Paytience (Paynter) Sunday at Santa Anita.

“Absolutely, we are hoping he can take us to that next level,” McShane said Monday. “Those were the dreams I had last night.”

McShane was a longtime racing fan well before he even considered becoming a racehorse owner.

“I started going to the races back when I was in high school in Santa Monica,” he recalled. “We would go to Hollywood Park right after lunch in high school and then I just kept going. I met my wife in high school and her family used to go to the racetrack, too. So when we were dating, we went to the racetrack. After we got married, we went to Del Mar and we took our vacations there every year. It was always a drive to be around the horses–normally it was just betting them. I never thought of actually purchasing horses.”

A career in the restaurant industry blossomed into a food-safety audit company, the sale of which paved the path for the couple’s involvement in racing.

“I worked my way up the ladder and was an executive for  restaurant chains throughout the United States,” McShane said. “Then I came up with this business idea of Everclean. They have grades in the windows of restaurants all over the country and that started in 1998 in Los Angeles. I started a company that would guarantee that the restaurants would keep the A [rating] and that triggered a business that, in 1999, we did 100 audits, and when we sold it in 2012, we were up to 200,000.”

McShane Racing was formed in the wake of the sale of Everclean Services and three years later, the operation had its first taste of black-type when Paynes Prairie (Tale of Ekati) was second in the 2015 Tremont S. Another one of its first acquisitions was a daughter of Colonel John (hip 1021) purchased for $145,000 at that year’s OBS June sale. The filly, Everqueen, was third in the 2016 Beverly J. Lewis S. at Los Alamitos, while Go On Mary (Broken Vow), a $40,000 OBS April graduate (hip 555) in 2016, was third in last year’s Sweet Life S. at Santa Anita.

As the couple’s experience in the game increased, McShane found himself applying some of the same lessons he’d learned in the restaurant industry to the racing business.

“Some of the same principles [from the business] applied to our racing operation,” he said. “I hired a lot of really smart people to have around me. The same thing goes for this industry. You’ve got to have people that are smart. When you are talking about the O’Neill brothers, Doug and Dennis, and you’re talking about the people they hire and surround themselves with, it’s pretty exciting stuff.”

It was bloodstock agent Dennis O’Neill who steered McShane towards the purchase of Mr Paytience (hip 402) at this year’s OBS March sale.

“Dennis O’Neill and [trainer Doug O’Neill’s operations manager] Steve Rothblum looked at the horse and they really liked that he was a Cal-bred,” McShane said of the colt, who was purchased for $90,000. “They sort of guided me in that direction.”

Expectations were high for the colt as he went to the post for the first time Sunday, but it’s safe to say he exceeded expectations with his supremely easy 7 3/4-length victory in the 4 1/2-furlong race.

“Doug’s assistant trainer, Stephanie Murray, loves the horse,” McShane said. “I had gone out the last three weeks to watch

Mr Paytience breeze and he just looked so comfortable. They put blinkers on him a couple of weeks ago and it made all the difference in the world for him.”

Of the juvenile’s romping victory, McShane admitted, “I was shocked. It was so easy and he had such a beautiful stride. We really believed when we purchased him at the OBS sale that he was a good-looking, two-turn horse. So for him to win so easily this early, that is the best part about it.”

McShane Racing currently has a stable of six horses, four of whom are juveniles.

“We are really comfortable with the six and I definitely want to keep it under 10,” he said of the stable size. “The one thing that I’ve learned over the last three years, is that you need a horse or two to carry the barn. You can’t go in and try to get one or two horses. It doesn’t work. You need more than two and we are trying to keep it less than 10.”

Among the current roster is an unraced 2-year-old McShane is already excited about, a colt by Morning Line out of Sierra Vista (GB) (hip 24) who was purchased for $130,000 at OBS in March.

“His name is Stubbins,” McShane said. “We have high expectations for him. He’s been working great at San Luis Rey and the barn loves him.”

While most of McShane Racing’s prospects are purchased as

2-year-olds, the operation did make one yearling purchase last year.

“I bought one yearling and I bought her because she was out of the same dam [Text Queen] as my first successful horse, Everqueen,” McShane said. “I bought her at the Saratoga Yearling Sale [hip 83] and paid $150,000 for her. It was sort of an emotional purchase. We’ll see how that works out.”

He added with a laugh, “I am absolutely, from this point forward, only buying 2-year-olds.”

With his grown children living states apart, racing has become a family-bonding activity for the McShanes.

“We are enjoying the excitement of the races, the excitement of continuing to come down to Del Mar and have our family vacationing there,” he said. “My daughter lives in New York and my son lives in Los Angeles, they are older now, so it’s kind of keeping the family together, going to the races.”

As for where Mr Paytience will make his next start, McShane said, “I am going to see Doug [Tuesday] at San Luis Rey and we’ll talk about where he’ll go next, but he came out of the race really, really great. My wife and I went to see him after the race and he still had a lot of energy.”

Large Turnout at Service for Bill Graves

Mon, 2018-06-04 17:49

Hundreds of Thoroughbred industry participants from all over the country turned out for the celebration of the life of Bill Graves at the Fasig-Tipton pavilion Monday. Graves, a longtime Fasig-Tipton senior vice president, died May 30 at the age of 70. Attendees listened to more than a half-dozen eulogies, including many from Graves’s Fasig-Tipton coworkers. Terence Collier served as the host for the event. He recounted how he met Graves when both were in their early 20s and how they came to work together when Graves joined the company in 1992 at the invitation of then-owner John Hettinger.
“In rode Bill,” said Collier, “our shining knight in heavily starched jeans and expensive cowboy boots to reorganize our selected-sales yearling process. It was a new beginning.”
Collier noted that at Graves’s first Saratoga sale in 1992, there were 22 consignors and 165 yearlings.
“By 2017, Bill’s imprint on Saratoga in August produced record sales of nearly $70 million,” said Collier. “Not bad for a skinny kid from Lynchburg, Virginia.”
Walt Robertson, one of Graves’s closest friends for the past 25 years, was next to speak, and he said, “He will be sorely missed, by each and every person in this room, but how lucky are we all to have Bill Graves as a friend and a big part of our lives?”
Like Collier, he gave Graves credit for shaping Fasig-Tipton and turning it around, gaining the respect of the entire Thoroughbred community.
“As with many things that he has been involved with, Bill has left this company and the community far better than he found it,” said an emotional Robertson.
Graves’s son Brian said, “What a touching tribute to my father this gathering of people truly is. Since my father’s passing, I have received countless messages from friends and family. Superlatives such as mentor, friend, gentleman, impeccable horseman, great man, class, and legend have been used. I knew at a very young age how special my father was. I have always wanted to be by his side. We didn’t have much money growing up, but I felt like the richest kid in the world. My dad could just make you feel like that.”
Fasig-Tipton President and CEO Boyd Browning delivered his eulogy in a series of letters to Graves, thanking him for teaching him about conformation, for always thinking of the safety of the horse, for his attention to detail, his loyalty and support. Most poignantly, Browning thanked him for being kind to Browning’s own late father, a frequent visitor to Fasig-Tipton, who Browning said would often get so caught up chatting with Graves in his office that he would forget to visit his own son.
“Sorry, I didn’t have time to see you today,” the senior Browning would tell his son as he was on his way home. “I was busy hanging out with the boys.”
Mike Levy recounted his long friendship with Graves, and told stories about their travels fishing, golfing and going to horse sales, and about Bill’s delight in being mistaken for Richard Gere by a woman on a plane. He concluded with a story about how Graves had watched him give copious instructions to a jockey riding one of the horses they owned together.
Levy recalled his friend saying, “Michael. Let me explain something to you. That jockey doesn’t speak a word of English, and he didn’t understand what you said. And even if he did, he ain’t going to listen to you.” Levy answered, “Billy, what should I have said?” Graves answered, “Simple, son. Just tell him to hurry home.”
“Hurry home, Billy,” Levy concluded. “It was one hell of a ride.”
All of the speakers told humorous tales about Graves, about practical jokes played by him and on him, about his storytelling and often-told jokes, about his smile and enthusiasm.
“I thought this was going to be one of the toughest days of my life,” said Collier as the service wound down. “It has turned out to be one of the most uplifting days of my life.”
The service is available here and starts at the 1:06 mark of the video.

Justify Breezes Towards Belmont

Mon, 2018-06-04 14:01

GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness S. winner Justify (Scat Daddy) turned in a five-furlong work in 1:01.40 ahead of his Triple Crown bid in Saturday’s GI Belmont S. Martin Garcia was aboard for the work, which took place over a fast track and in front of a crowd of a few hundred fans.

“It was a really nice breeze and exactly what we were looking for,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He relaxed nicely and seemed very happy. Martin was very happy with him, as well, so I was happy, too. He was a little fresh earlier in the week, so it was good to see him relax nicely.”

Justify broke away from the stable pony Sunny and assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes at the 4 1/2-furlong pole and began his breeze at the half-mile marker, working through splits of :12.80, :24.80, :37 and :48.80 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.60 and seven-eighths of a mile in 1:27.20.

Justify is scheduled to ship to New York Wednesday ahead of his attempt to become the 13th horse to sweep the Triple Crown in Saturday’s 1 1/2-mile Belmont S.

“I think the Triple Crown brings a lot more people into the game,” Baffert, who also trained 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), said. “It also brings a lot of new owners. I saw a lot of new faces in the game after Pharoah won the Triple Crown. It’s no walk in the park to win, but it’s very important to our sport when we have a Triple Crown possibility on the line.”

The Baffert-trained Restoring Hope (Giant’s Causeway), third in the GII Wood Memorial S., also worked at Churchill Downs Monday in preparation for the Belmont. The Gary and Mary West homebred worked six furlongs in 1:13 under jockey Florent Geroux.

“Restoring Hope went really well,” Baffert said. “He’s always been a really good work horse. He’s sort of a one-paced horse. He went a little faster than Justify, but I thought overall the work was very good.”

The Weekly Wrap: Let’s Hear It For The Mares

Mon, 2018-06-04 12:42

Two superpowers of the east and west traded blows on Sunday. No sooner had Frankel (GB) notched a second Group 1 winner in Japan with victory in the G1 Yasuda Kinen of Mozu Ascot, than Japanese supersire Deep Impact (Jpn) fired back a riposte with a second Classic winner in Europe courtesy of Study Of Man (Ire) in the G1 QIPCO Prix du Jockey Club. The racing world has never felt smaller: an American-born son of a British superstar winning in Tokyo while a Japanese-conceived, Irish-born colt triumphs in Chantilly.

So much focus is centred on stallions’ offspring but there were some mighty mares in play over the weekend, particularly perhaps the mightiest pair seen in Europe and America for many a generation. Urban Sea (Miswaki) has already achieved the rare feat of producing two Derby winners, both of whom have appeared as sires of Derby and Oaks winners. In the case of Galileo (Ire), he now appears as grandsire of Masar (Ire) (New Approach {Ire}), while his half-sister Melikah (Ire), by another Derby winner in Lammtarra, is his great grandam. Thus we find Urban Sea’s name twice in the pedigree of the 2018 G1 Investec Derby winner and this is unlikely to be an unusual occurrence in major race winners of the future.

However much Urban Sea is feted, her great rival as both top-class racemare and broodmare, Miesque (Nureyev), has also loomed large in the Classic picture this season, with her great granddaughter Alpha Centauri (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) having won the G1 Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas, followed a week later by the success of her grandson Study Of Man.

Green Is The Colour…

Vimal and Gillian Khosla’s star broodmare Green Room (Theatrical {Ire}) is another to have taken a major step up the ladder within blue hen territory when represented by her third Group 1 winner, the Investec Oaks winner Forever Together (Ire) (Galileo [Ire}). She and her full-sister Together Forever (Ire) are destined to be forever confused with one another, but in one sense it matters not, as they are both winners at the highest level and both were darlings of the sales ring even before their racing days.

Born three years ahead of her Classic-winning sibling, the G1 Dubai Fillies’ Mile winner Together Forever sold for €680,000 to the Coolmore team, and she was followed a year later by Signe (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), the sole yearling of Green Room to bring seven figures at €1.1 million, though the subsequent Oaks heroine wasn’t far off in 2016 when selling for €900,000. All three were offered at the Goffs Orby Sale by Ballylinch Stud, where Green Room is a permanent boarder.

Ballylinch manager John O’Connor reports the 16-year-old to be in good form, having foaled her latest daughter of Galileo on Apr. 25 and recently been covered by Sea The Stars. For the preceding four years she has only visited Galileo and was barren the season after she produced Forever Together, but she also has a yearling filly by the champion sire on the ground.

“Vimal and Gillian Khosla are delightful clients and this is another wonderful result for them as breeders,” O’Connor said. “They will be visiting the farm in the coming weeks and will make a decision on whether or not to sell the yearling then.”

Green Room already has a son at stud, the G1 Prix Jean Prat winner Lord Shanakill (Speightstown), who is now at Pennsylvania’s Pin Oak Lane Farm and is the sire of G1 Prince Of Wales’s S. winner My Dream Boat (Ire).

The chances of her establishing a dynasty in her own right are enhanced by the fact that she also has two of her daughters at Ballylinch Stud for company. The Khoslas, who are based in Scotland and currently have six mares, retained maiden winner Black Ruby (Ire) (Dansili {GB}), who is now in foal to Lope De Vega (Ire). Meanwhile Signe, who is in foal to Siyouni (Fr), is boarded at the farm by her owner Fiona Carmichael.

“The mare has been incredibly versatile in that her Group 1 winners have won at a mile and a mile and a half, and she produces lovely stock,” O’Connor added.

Masar Meets The Press…

The gates of Moulton Paddocks were swung open for members of the Fourth Estate on Monday morning as Masar, the first horse to win the Derby in Godolphin’s royal blue silks, was paraded around the yard.

“I’m still not through half the messages yet to be able to reply to all the wellwishers,” admitted Charlie Appleby as he showed off his star colt with some of his 160 staff members on hand for a group photo.

“We hit the ground running in the spring—even through the really bad weather we didn’t miss a day and we’re very lucky to have the staff and the facilities to be able to do it,” he said.

Masar is of course not just the first Derby winner for home stallion New Approach, who won the blue riband back in 2008, but he is a third generation homebred following the purchase of Melikah as a yearling 20 years ago. His dam Khawlah (Ire) is by the late Darley sure Cape Cross (Ire) and won the G2 UAE Derby and G3 UAE Oaks for Godolphin at Sheikh Mohammed’s home track.

“I’m the lucky one who is given these horses to train but it’s really heartfelt back at the stud for Liam [O’Rourke] and Sam [Bullard]. It’s great for the stallions and the mares,” Appleby added.

“We’re in a little bit of a bubble up here but I try not to get too sucked into it and I like to know what’s going on outside it. Twenty years I’ve been here and it’s home for me. Half my life has been dedicated to Godolphin. The support I receive from His Highness is phenomenal. We talk twice a week when we’re working horses and from January onwards we’re always talking about hopefuls for the Classics. It’s a huge operation and I have a wealth of experience I have around me—I’m not doing this single-handed.”

He continued, “One hopes it’s a new chapter for Godolphin. It’s taken us five years to get that Classic winner, but we were very lucky in the first season with Outstrip (GB) winning at Santa Anita [at the Breeders’ Cup]. I felt like last year we took another step up and we had the strongest team of 2-year-olds to go into the winter with. Saturday has put us where we wanted to be. Sport is all about confidence and it’s given us that. We have the right players now to be competitive. We’re a global team and it’s been amazing. People want to see competition and Coolmore have been our competitors for many years, but honestly we haven’t been competitive enough and we know that. I know what people are saying outside these gates but that just gives us more determination. After His Highness, Coolmore were the next people on to congratulate us. They want the competition too.”

Lindop Signing Off In Style…

An agreeable feature of modern-day racing is the rise of the number of women in the weighing-room and this is particularly so in Australia. The country is about to lose one of its leading lights, however, with the impending retirement of Clare Lindop, who in 2003 became the first female to ride in the G1 Melbourne Cup.

Five years later, she recorded another ‘first’ when winning the G1 VRC Derby aboard Rebel Raider (Aus) (Reset {Aus}) for the man whom she credits as giving her the most support throughout her career, trainer Leon Macdonald.

Lindop, a native of Warrnambool, Victoria, has spent much of her career riding in South Australia, where she has won the jockeys’ championship three times, most recently in 2015 after returning from serious injuries sustained in a fall on Adelaide Cup day.

As well as being a first-rate jockey, Lindop is also a first-rate individual whose easy charm and committed work ethic has seen her blaze a significant trail for those who follow in her wake.

As she prepares to step down at the end of the current SA Racing Festival, Lindop has written an open letter to her fans, published last week on her website. It’s well worth reading in its entirety as its fulsomeness in praising others also speaks volumes for Lindop herself.

She credits her first Melbourne Cup ride on Debben (Aus) as career-changing: “The media exposure that becoming the first Australian female to ride in our greatest race brought me set me onto a path full of opportunities which I may never have otherwise gained. That season, after riding in the Cup, I had my biggest year in the saddle, riding 111 winners for the season, a new record for a female jockeys and one which was only just broken by Jamie Kah last year, and looks to be smashed again and set even higher this year by a flying Linda Meech. The fact that both of these jockeys don’t really want this to be a ‘female record’ and are looking to break the record full stop also makes me proud of the long way that female jockeys have come.”

Lindop won’t be drawn on the exact date of her final departure from the weighing-room but ends her letter by saying, “I’ll be out on the track racing amongst the pack, doing my utmost to keep up somewhere in contention, copping a face full of mud and stones to boot, and then saying, ‘Well lads, I’m out. Good luck to you all!'”

Good luck to you too, Clare.



Northern Afleet Euthanized at 25

Mon, 2018-06-04 12:37

Taylor Made Stallions’s Northern Afleet (Afleet–Nuryette, by Nureyev) was euthanized Friday at the age of 25, the farm reported Monday. According to Dr. Charles Scoggin, DVM, the stallion had experienced acute abdominal pain Friday evening and was transferred to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. After being evaluated by specialists, it was determined Northern Afleet had severe gastrointestinal disease and was subsequently euthanized.

Northern Afleet, who was actively breeding this year, was the sire of 14 Grade I winners, including 2017 champion turf horse World Approval. Among his most successful progeny was dual Classic winner Afleet Alex, champion 3-year-old colt of 2005 and winner of the GI Preakness S. and GI Belmont S. He was also responsible for champion sprinter Amazombie and Canadian champion and Grade I winner Negligee, as well as 2015 Brazilian Horse of the Year Barolo.

“Northern Afleet was like part of the family at Taylor Made and he was truly a unique stallion within the industry,” said Ben Taylor of Taylor Made. “Not too many stallions have sired a Classic winner and a Breeders’ Cup winner, not to mention numerous Grade I winners over varying surfaces and distances of ground. Northern Afleet was the definition of versatility and was always considered one of the best value stallions around. He provided every breeder the opportunity to produce a top-class racehorse, regardless of the quality of their mare.”

Additional Grade I winners sired by Northern Afleet include Denman’s Call, Teaks North and Evening Jewel, while his GSW millionaire War Story remains a factor in the handicap division in 2018.

On the racetrack, Northern Afleet won the GII San Fernando Breeders’ Cup S., GII San Carlos H. and GIII San Diego H. while under the care of trainer David Hofmans for owners Gregg Anderson and Ronald Waranch. He was bred in Kentucky by Hermitage Farm.

Northern Afleet entered stud in 1999 at Double Diamond Farm in Ocala and was relocated to Taylor Made after Afleet Alex captured the 2004 GI Hopeful S.


Belmont Stakes Q&A with Mike Repole

Mon, 2018-06-04 12:36

For native New Yorker Mike Repole, it doesn’t get much bigger than the GI Belmont Stakes. Born and raised in the Middle Village neighborhood of Queens and a graduate of nearby St. John’s University, Repole will be looking to play the role of spoiler with Vino Rosso (Curlin) and Noble Indy (Take Charge Indy) as the unbeaten ‘TDN Rising Star’ Justify (Scat Daddy) heads to Long Island with a Triple Crown bid on the line. Vino Rosso followed a win in the GII Wood Memorial S. with a ninth-place finish in the GI Kentucky Derby while the narrow GII Louisiana Derby winner and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Noble Indy was 17th on the First Saturday in May. The co-founder of Glaceau (the company was sold to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion in 2007) has campaigned standouts such as champion Uncle Mo, Overanalyze, Outwork, Stopchargingmaria, etc., and came within 3/4 of a length of upsetting the 2011 Belmont with MGISW Stay Thirsty.

Q: You’ve always made it very well-known that the Belmont S. is at the top of your list of races that you really want to win. What would a victory in the third leg of the Triple Crown mean to you?

MR: Listen, I’ve never made it a secret how important the Belmont is to me. That’s the one race, growing up, and especially once I became an owner, that I’ve always said that I wanted to win. When my team is out there looking at horses, whether it’s a 2-year-old sale or at the yearling sales at Keeneland, I’m always asking the question, ‘Can they get the mile and a half?’

It’s definitely the first time any of these 3-year-olds will ever run that distance and most likely the last time, too. It’s a very funny race. Just being a kid from Queens and going to Aqueduct and Belmont and never even being able to make it up to Saratoga because I don’t think I had a car that could go that far growing up, it was the race.

Being in the Kentucky Derby now four times in the last eight years is special. Trust me, I wouldn’t be disappointed if I won the Kentucky Derby. But if I could choose between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont S., I’ve said numerous times, I would take the Belmont.

Q: Is playing the role of spoiler and potentially silencing the capacity crowd at Belmont with a Triple Crown on the line something you embrace?

MR: Just to be in the race is amazing and I’m going to have two shots. It’s exciting. Usually the Derby is the biggest stage, but when you have a Triple Crown on the line, it becomes the Belmont.

I was rooting for Justify in the Preakness. I knew that if he won, the Belmont would be seen by probably 20-25 million people and we would have 90,000 people there with the attendance capped. If he lost the Preakness, they would probably get 40,000-45,000. So I was rooting for Justify, there was no doubt about it.

Q: What have you thought of Justify’s unprecedented run this spring?

MR: He’s amazing. He checks every single box out there and is undefeated. Probably one of the greatest 3-year-olds of all time, no doubt, win or lose this race. What he’s done in the last 12 weeks has been amazing. He’s the Golden State Warriors and Lebron [James] or someone else will be trying to take him down. He’s had a lot of races in a short period and he’s done everything right.

Q: Partnerships between high-profile owners continue to become increasingly popular. You own Vino Rosso with Vinnie Viola of St. Elias Stable and you also campaign Noble Indy with Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm. Thoughts on this trend?

MR: At the beginning, I kind of fought against it, but with the right partner, I think it works out perfectly. I think there’s a really cool aspect of it where some of the biggest owners with the biggest money in the sport are getting together and becoming partners.

I’m very blessed where I get to choose partners like WinStar, where two of my stallions Outwork and Overanalyze stand, my foals are born, and have 60-65 horses on the farm.

I’ve known Vinnie for six or seven years now. My wife grew up in Brooklyn, Vinnie grew up in Brooklyn. His wife grew up in Queens, I grew up in Queens. I love his story, and he loves mine. We’re all about family first and big, Italian families. Winning the Wood with Vinnie was probably one of the best wins I’ve ever had. It was so awesome having both of our families there. After the race we went back to my house with about 60 other people and we drank a lot of Vino Rosso and had a good time.

Q: Vino Rosso is certainly bred for a race like this and has always been held in high regard by trainer Todd Pletcher. Between the wide trip and off going in the Derby, a case can be made for him as a potential upsetter in the Belmont. What’s your confidence level like heading into the race?

MR: There’s no doubt that he has the talent to win this race along with his incredible pedigree to get the distance. His dam Mythical Bride is a half to Commissioner, who barely lost the Belmont and his sire Curlin also lost a photo to Rags to Riches in the Belmont. He’s bred to go two miles, never mind a mile and a half. He’s a horse that’s going to go at one pace and I think that last quarter of a mile, he might be going two seconds faster than everybody else and just grind it out.

Noble Indy is going to have Javier [Castellano] aboard and Vino Rosso will have Johnny [Velazquez]. To have two chances at the Belmont with two great partners and both trained by Todd Pletcher, I really like my chances.

Q: Even going back to your early days as a racing fan, any Belmont S. memories that stick out to you?

MR: When I was younger, I was awed by Easy Goer. That was really big. Bet Twice dethroning Alysheba–I was probably 17-18 years old when that happened. More recently and even going back 10 years, being there and watching Da’ Tara upset Big Brown. There have been some great moments and just being a part of it-and probably not until the Big Brown one-I was lucky to just be in the grandstand or in the backyard with a bunch of friends.

When one of my horses has a race, I’m there as a fan, too. I’m always going to be Mike from Queens. You’re not going to change me. Whether it’s Aqueduct on a Wednesday or Belmont on a Saturday, you won’t see me in the Trustee’s Room with a jacket and tie. It’s who am I and where I come from. To be able to be in a position to win a race like this, I’ve been so blessed.

Q: Stay Thirsty gave you a huge run finishing second at 16-1 in the Belmont seven years ago. Can you reflect on his performance and that experience?

MR: Coming in second with Stay Thirsty was probably one of my biggest racing accomplishments and also probably one of the worst losses of my life. My wife jokes that I didn’t come out of my basement for two weeks. It was tough because you don’t know how many chances you’ll ever get to be in the race again. I don’t come in here thinking that I’m definitely going to win. I’m coming in here wanting to win, but not everybody in life gets what they want.

Q: Are your Belmont S. day plans set yet? How big of an entourage will you have with you at the races this year?

MR: I was smart enough to book for 75 people-friends and family–before the Triple Crown was on the line. If it wasn’t a Triple Crown, it probably would’ve been 200. As much as NYRA loves me, and I love them–they treat me really well–75 was the max that they felt comfortable with.

Q: With your blue-and-orange stable colors a tribute to the New York Mets, how excited are you about the draw coming to Citi Field Tuesday? Bob Baffert is also expected to throw out the first pitch at that night’s game.

MR: My silks are blue and orange after the Mets, so it’s kind of ironic that the draw this year coincidentally happens to be at Citi Field and my silks will be represented in the Belmont S. I think it’s a pretty cool experience. My 91-year-old grandmother and my 2-year-old daughter will be there. We’re excited.

Q: Any restaurant recommendations for people coming into town for the Belmont? Do you have a favorite spot that you like to go to after a big day at the races?

MR: I’m gonna go three Italian, Queens restaurants–Barosa, Park Side and Piccola Venezia. And if you want some Long Island recommendations–Chris and Tony’s, Rare 650 and Rothmann’s Steakhouse. Three in Queens and three on Long Island. Nobody’s going to be disappointed. If they are, tell them to bill me!

Paynter Colt Shellacs Foes in Rising Star Effort at Santa Anita

Sun, 2018-06-03 17:57

Mr Paytience survived a three-way speed duel and drew away powerfully in the stretch to graduate first out at Santa Anita and become the latest ‘TDN Rising Star’. Picked up for $90,000 at OBS March after breezing a furlong in :10 2/5, the bay broke alertly as a 61-10 proposition before finding himself embroiled as the inside marker in a pace scrum through a :22.53 quarter. Cutting the corner and shaking off his pursuers soon after straightening, Mr Paytience poured it on the stretch, exploding away to graduate by some 7 3/4 lengths in sharp time. Nice Haircut (Square Eddie) completed a one-two exacta for trainer Doug O’Neill. The winner’s dam, a half-sister to GSW Strike Dancer (Smart Strike), produced a filly by Bluegrass Cat last season before returning to the same sire.

5th-Santa Anita, $60,035, (S), Msw, 6-3, 2yo, 4 1/2f, :52.22, ft.
MR PAYTIENCE, c, 2, Paynter
1st Dam: Kantstopdancin, by Yes It’s True
2nd Dam: Dancing Shoes (Ire), by Danehill
3rd Dam: Emmaline, by Affirmed
Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $35,400. O-McShane Racing, LLC; B-Ballena Vista Farm (CA); T-Doug F. O’Neill. *$40,000 Ylg ’17 BARSEL; $90,000 2yo ’18 OBSMAR. Click for the chart, the free catalogue-style pedigree or the VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Sunday’s Belmont Update: Hofburg and ‘Billy’ Breeze

Sun, 2018-06-03 16:21

GI Belmont S. contender Hofburg (Tapit) completed his final serious preparation for the final leg of the Triple Crown Sunday morning, breezing five furlongs in company with MGSW 4-year-old Good Samaritan (Harlan’s Holiday) over Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track. Ridden by Neil Poznansky and working outside of Good Samaritan, Hofburg completed the breeze in 1:01.03 before drawing away from his stablemate past the wire.

“We wanted to do a little bit more with Hofburg than with Good Samaritan,” said Mott. “We let them both work under the wire, then I wanted to make sure Hofburg had a good gallop out. Both horses went well, and I was very pleased. Hofburg couldn’t have worked better.”

Good Samaritan is a contender for the GI Runhappy Met Mile on the Belmont day card.

Meanwhile, at Churchill Downs, Albaugh Family Stables’ GISW and GI Kentucky Derby 16th-place finisher Free Drop Billy (Union Rags) breezed five furlongs in :59.20 under regular exercise rider Juan Segundo at Churchill Downs Sunday morning as he prepares for a rematch with Justify (Scat Daddy) in the GI Belmont S.

“I don’t think he got over the track well at all in the Derby,” said trainer Dale Romans. “I think he’s coming into the race a better horse than when he faced Justify in the Derby. He’s been really training well in the lead-up to the Belmont and today was not any different.”

Justify galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Sunday morning ahead of an expected breeze over the strip Monday.

The Belmont card will also feature an appearance from GI Kentucky Oaks heroine Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) in the GI Acorn S., and the fleet-footed chestnut tuned up for that affair with a sharp half-mile breeze in :47.20 in company with older stablemate Dazzling Gem (Misremembered) at Churchill Sunday. Churchill Downs clockers caught Monomoy Girl in splits of :12.40 seconds for the first eighth-mile, :24 for the quarter-mile and :36 for three-eighths. She was timed galloping out five furlongs in :59.80 and six furlongs in 1:12.60.

“I was really pleased with what we accomplished. She seemed to cool out fine,” said trainer Brad Cox, shooting for a third straight Grade I victory with Monomoy Girl, who gave him the first in his training career in Keeneland’s Ashland. “I wanted to keep her sharp. We’re shortening up to a mile. She had a really nice breeze last week, and she followed it up with a similar breeze this week.”

Big Screen Gets First Winner at Woodbine

Sun, 2018-06-03 16:05

6th-Woodbine, C$85,531, Msw, 6-3, 2yo, 4 1/2f (AWT), :52.34, ft.
SAV (f, 2, Big Screen–Executive Affair, by Bold Executive) beat the break, relaxed off the lead and swept away in the stretch to become the first winner for her freshman sire (by Speightstown) at Woodbine. Tipping her hand with a sharp local half-mile breeze in :46 3/5 (3/80) May 20, the gray was nevertheless overlooked at 11-1 and broke well clear of the others before deferring to sit second past a :23.15 quarter. Traveling sweetly at the rail on the turn, she tipped out one path and cruised back to the lead three-sixteenths from home en route to a dominant 6 1/2-length score. Heavily favored Fly Away Birdie (Birdstone) ran on late to get second. The winner is a half to Cooler Mike (Giant Gizmo), SP, $155,920. She has a yearling full-brother and her dam visited Big Screen once again last season. Sales History: C$28,000 Ylg ’17 CANSEP. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $42,290. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-Steven T. Duffield; B-Spring Farm (ON); T-Keith Edwards.