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Updated: 9 hours 24 min ago

Records Fall as Midlantic Sale Concludes

Tue, 2019-05-21 19:57

TIMONIUM, MD – With a blockbuster final session, the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale concluded Tuesday in Timonium with records in nearly every major category. A filly by Into Mischief caused the day’s biggest fireworks when selling for $1.8 million to Michael Lund Petersen. The seven-figure price was the most ever paid for a horse in the Midlantic sales ring and bettered the previous mark of $1.5 million set in 2017.

With 326 horses sold, the sale gross was a record $29,374,000, bettering the previous mark of $25,237,000, also set in 2017. The average of $90,104 bettered the 2015 figure of $88,859, while the median of $43,000 trailed only 2015’s figure of $45,000.

“I was hoping we would do something big based on what everyone was telling me with what they were bringing and it all came to be,” said Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sales Director Paget Bennett. “We had a lot of new buyers and a lot of new consignors here, so when you get all the new faces, that tells you that people have confidence in this sale.”

For the fifth straight year, the Midlantic sale produced a seven-figure transaction when Petersen, standing alongside bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, made his record-setting final bid for hip 360, a bay filly from Bobby Dodd’s consignment. The previous Midlantic record was set in 2017 when Breeze Easy and John Oxley teamed up to buy a colt by Curlin for $1.5 million.

The record-setting filly topped an impressive sale for Into Mischief, who had nine juveniles sell in Timonium for a total of $4,215,000 and an average of $468,333. The Spendthrift stallion was represented by three of the sale’s top eight prices, including a $710,000 colt.

Bennett admitted the record-setting auction exceeded her expectations.

“You hope to always improve over your previous year, but this really exceeded my expectations,” she said. “When that horse came in–everybody knew it was a lovely horse–and when it just kept going and going, it was very exciting. It’s great for this marketplace that consignors have the confidence to bring that type of horse to Maryland and for everybody to see that you can get the big bucks in Maryland in May.”

From a catalogue of 600 head, 425 horses went through the sales ring and 99 failed to find new homes for a buy-back rate of 23.3%. It was 22.6% a year ago, when 333 horses sold for $24,868,500. The 2018 average was $74,680 and the median was $38,000.

“I think it’s been strong and with a solid middle market,” bloodstock agent Liz Crow said of the action in Timonium. “I think there have been a lot of new names on the results sheet, which is nice to see and this a great place to have a sale. You get all of these trainers who don’t go to a lot of the other sales. It’s one of the sales where the middle market is actually existent and it’s been nice to see.”

Consignor Eddie Woods was more pragmatic about the market conditions.

“It’s all or nothing,” he said. “I think what you are able to peddle here are the horses that just need to be gone and you’ll get $35,000, $40,000 or $50,000 for them because there are people here to buy them. There is more racing in this part of the country than there is in any other part of the country period, so hence there is a bigger market for them. But it’s still all for the good horse at the end of the day and that’s all you can aim to have because, selling horses for $35,000, $40,000 or $50,000, that’s great that they are gone, but you don’t do any good.”

Into Mischief Filly Sets Midlantic Record

A filly by Into Mischief became the most expensive horse to ever sell in the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales ring when bringing a final bid of $1.8 million from Michael Lund Petersen. Petersen stood alongside bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, who did his bidding out back of the pavilion, not far from where Larry Best’s advisor John Dowd was bidding while on the phone.

For Petersen, a founding shareholder in Pandora Jewelry, the filly’s appeal started squarely with her future trainer, Bob Baffert.

“Bob loved her,” Petersen said. “I was hoping it wouldn’t go that high, but we had Bob on the phone and he still thought it was a good idea. I am solely relying on Bob. If he thinks it’s a good purchase and it’s my turn, then I am going to buy them. I don’t know enough about horses to spend $1.8 million on one. So I need a little bit of advice.”

The bay filly (hip 360) was the first to work the furlong in the bullet :10 flat time during last week’s under-tack preview. She is out of stakes-placed Peggy Jane (Kafwain) and was consigned by Bobby Dodd. Brad Grady’s Grand Oaks purchased the filly for $220,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

Petersen purchased another :10 flat worker from Dodd’s Midlantic sale consignment last year, going to $925,000 for a colt by Union Rags named Tale of the Union, who turned in a ‘TDN Rising Star’ debut at Del Mar last August. Also at the 2018 Midlantic sale, Petersen purchased a Mucho Macho Man colt for $625,000. That youngster is multiple graded stakes winner Mucho Gusto, who won Saturday’s GIII Laz Barrera S.

“Last year I bought two horses here,” Petersen said. “Mucho Gusto has done a lot of running and Tale of the Union is coming back to breeze in a couple of weeks. I guess that’s why we are here again.”

Asked how it felt to purchase the sale-record horse, Petersen admitted, “I’m still a little excited about spending that much money in five minutes. I don’t think about the history, I just thought it would be fun to have the horse. Mr. Baffert is really excited about him, so if he is excited I am excited. But I know there is a long way to go.”

Grady and Dodd are no strangers to million-dollar sales and now own the record sales price at two venues. The two teamed up to offer a colt by Tiznow who sold for an OBS record $2.45 million during the 2017 April sale.

“Bobby and I have been so fortunate,” Grady said. “We’ve sold several million-dollar horses over the years.”

Grady knew early on the Into Mischief filly was something special.

“Bobby doesn’t give the accolade of ‘freak’ very often,” Grady explained. “He’s done it a couple times. One of them happened to be the horse we went to the [GI Kentucky] Derby with and who we won the GI Haskell with, Girvin. The second time he breezed this filly, he called me and told me she was a freak. The team at the farm, Grand Oaks, does a great job. I knew if they kept her sound and happy, we would have big payday or have a good racehorse, either or. But it doesn’t make economic sense for us to keep horses like that when they are going to bring that much money.”

Of the filly’s record-setting final price tag, Grady said, “She had plenty of vetting, plenty of people, but also she had the right people. There were multiple people that could give seven figures. You never know with some of these horses how far it will go. We had a good idea that she was going to bring half a million, but it’s hard to know where it will go from there. It never crossed my mind that she could bring $1.8 million.”

Colonel John Colt to Best

Bloodstock agent John Dowd, bidding on behalf of Larry Best’s OXO Equine, was forced to $850,000 to acquire a colt by Colonel John Tuesday in Timonium. Consigned by Randy Miles, the bay (hip 528) is out of Tayrona (A.P. Warrior) and he worked a furlong last week in :10 1/5.

“We thought he was a really good individual who breezed really well,” Dowd said. “He checked all the boxes. He was a big strong, two-turn colt who has a natural turn of foot. Obviously, the stallion has left the country, but he himself was a really good horse. He won the GI Santa Anita Derby and the GI Travers S. and he was just a really good athlete.”

Colonel John, who won the 2008 Santa Anita Derby and Travers, currently stands in Korea.

The juvenile was bred by Silver Springs Stud and Susan Casner signed the ticket on the colt as a weanling at $10,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November sale. Miles acquired him privately last fall.

“We bought privately in Kentucky in October,” Miles said. “We were asked to go out and look at him for a private purchase and we fell in love with him right then. When we got him back to the barn and started breaking him and training him, with his class and athleticism, it all fell into place.”

While Miles declined to say what he paid for the yearling, he agreed it was significantly less than Tuesday’s final price tag.

“We couldn’t wait to get him here,” Miles said. “We wanted him here in Maryland to showcase him on the dirt because he just handled the dirt so well. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. This time it just worked.”

Miles continued, “The horse did everything. He breezed that way twice. He did it in his prep breeze, he did it in his timed breeze and he came back to the barn like he never breezed. He did it like it was a walk in the park. I can’t wait to watch this horse on the racetrack because his cardio must be out of this world. I really have lofty expectations for this horse. He has a great mind and he has the body and the heart. So I just can’t wait to see him.”

Bradley Stretches for Into Mischief Colt

Bloodstock agent Pete Bradley, bidding on behalf of owner Bill Lawrence, went to $710,000 to acquire a colt by Into Mischief during Tuesday’s second session of the Fasig Midlantic sale. The bay colt (hip 322) shared the quarter-mile bullet time of :21 3/5 at last week’s under-tack preview and was consigned by Top Line Sales as agent for Carlo Vaccarezza.

“I liked everything about him,” Bradley said. “He had beautiful balance, good stride and good mind. It is so hard to buy a good horse and it’s really tough for the rest of them to sell here. There are a lot of good judges here. A good horse comes in and there is plenty of money. Everyone you talk to has said it, you have to stretch. He was an exceptionally nice horse and those are hard to buy.”

The colt is out of Nihilist (Latent Heat), a half-sister to stakes winners Green Suede Shoes (Meadow Monster) and Cosmo Girl (City Zip) from the family of Grade I winner Ermine.

Vaccarezza purchased the colt for $265,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale. He RNA’d for $575,000 after working a furlong in :10 1/5 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale in March.

“He was a big, pretty colt down there, but I didn’t have an order for him then,” Bradley said when asked if he had seen the juvenile prior to the Gulfstream sale.

Top Line’s Torie Gladwell said the colt has only improved since March.

“Ever since the Miami sale, he just got better and better,” Gladwell said. “He never had a day off or did anything wrong. He was just a true, solid racehorse. He worked in :10 1/5 at Gulfstream and galloped out well there. He was just a little immature. A lot of people knew we were high on him and I think we were a little too high on him, but here he was just a star. He really showed up.”

Of the decision to work the colt a quarter in Timonium, Gladwell said, “He is super fit. We actually breezed him three eighths on the farm a couple weeks ago. He’s just gotten fitter and fitter and we knew he would breeze a quarter here really well even though he is a big horse. Our track is small at home, so we knew he would be able to handle the tight turns on this small track here.”

Vaccarezza, making his first concerted foray into pinhooking this year, has had several notable successes. During Monday’s session of the Midlantic sale, he sold a colt by Street Sense for a session-topping $500,000. That colt had been a $280,000 Keeneland September acquisition.

Another Filly For Speedway

Peter Fluor of Speedway Stable and bloodstock agent Marette Farrell have been focused on buying fillies with an eye towards increasing the operation’s fledgling broodmare band this week in Timonium. They added another potential broodmare to the stable Tuesday, going to $570,000 for a filly from the first crop of Palace (City Zip) (hip 384).

“She had a great work. I loved her composure and her class and she has a nice dam,” Fluor said. “We were looking for an athlete and she was very impressive to us. Obviously a lot of other people liked her, too. But the important thing is to be the last one [to bid]. Otherwise, we’re not talking and Boyd [Browning]’s not happy.”

Speedway also purchased a filly by Bernardini during Monday’s first session of the Midlantic sale, going to $335,000 for hip 85.

Hip 384 is out of Prenuptial Vow (Broken Vow) and is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Theperfectvow (Majesticperfection).

The filly, who worked a furlong last week in :10 1/5, has made a habit of being popular in the sales ring. She was purchased by Peter O’Callaghan for $140,000 as a weanling at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton November sale. A pinhooking partnership led by Eddie Woods purchased her for $170,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

Asked if he was surprised that a filly from Palace’s first crop attracted a $570,000 bid, Woods explained, “For the Palace, yes, but for the horse, no. She was the most expensive Palace yearling from the past year. And she is stunning. Every time you look at her, you think, ‘Wow.’ She’s just one of those. And she was just like that the day I saw her in Peter O’Callaghan’s barn at Keeneland. I thought, ‘We’ll never get this one.’ And she’s been like that all year.”

The filly worked a furlong at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale in :10 flat, but little else went right for her in South Florida, Woods said.

“We took her to Miami and she had the joint-fastest move of the day, but it was on her wrong lead,” Woods said. “And the whole Miami experience wasn’t good. She hated the place. She didn’t act right, she didn’t act like she normally does. She didn’t eat. It was just a mess. And at Miami, you can’t stutter step, so we just regrouped and came here. And she’s done everything perfectly.”

More Pharoah for Durant

Josh Stevens, bidding on behalf of owner Tom Durant, purchased a daughter of American Pharoah out of a full-sister to Tapit for $275,000 at last month’s OBS April sale. He was so happy with that purchase, the bloodstock agent went to $530,000 for a colt by the Triple Crown winner out of Our Love Tap (Tapit) (hip 350) for the same owner in Timonium Tuesday.

“We had bought an American Pharoah filly for Tom Durant at OBS April who was from the family of Tapit,” Stevens said. “This colt, being out of a Tapit mare, made our list and then that pushed us over the edge because we are really happy with that filly.”

Both juveniles will be trained by Bret Calhoun, but the colt will be given plenty of time to mature.

“Having an owner like Tom who is willing to turn the horse out and let him grow up a little bit gave us more confidence to go after a horse that we think is going to be better when he gets a little older,” Stevens said.

Our Love Tap is a half-sister to Grade I winner Dearest Trickski (Proudest Romeo) and a full to graded-placed Gray Sky.

Hip 350 worked a furlong during last week’s under-tack preview in :10 3/5. He was consigned to the Midlantic sale by Paul Sharp and was part of Sharp and Liz Crow’s pinhooking venture, which purchased him for $200,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

“He is so easy to be around,” Crow said. “He is so calm and carries himself with class. Every single thing we’ve asked him to do, he’s done it like it was nothing.”

Crow admitted the colt’s work was a concern when they sent him through the sales ring Tuesday.

“We were a little disappointed he went in :10 3/5 because we know how talented he is and I know what it takes at these sales to bring a million-plus dollars,” she said. “We really thought all year he could be that quality horse. But we are really happy with who got him. I’m happy he is going to a good program and we’ll see him down the road.”

Malibu Moon Colt a Score for Scanlon

David Scanlon, who admitted he was pleasantly surprised to acquire a colt by Malibu Moon for just $25,000 from the Eaton Sales consignment at last year’s Keeneland September sale, was rewarded Tuesday in Timonium when the juvenile (hip 497) brought a final bid of $275,000 from trainer Ian Wilkes, bidding on behalf of Bob Lothenbach.

“It was kind of a heads-up deal,” Scanlon said of the September purchase. “My partner, Frankie O’Connor, he works at Eaton. We looked at him and Frankie pointed him our way and said he seemed to be falling through the cracks. $25,000 was probably a little cheaper than we expected. We were prepared to pay $50,000 or more. When we paid $25,000, we thought it was our lucky day.”

The colt is out of Steely Magnolia (More Than Ready), a half-sister to GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Stopchargingmaria (Tale of the Cat). He worked a furlong in :10 1/5 during last week’s under tack preview.

“He has grown and he really filled out,” Scanlon said of the colt. “He had a really nice walk as a baby and a really nice hip, but he was just immature looking. So we pointed him to a later sale to give him time to mature. And he was just a runner. He had all the good points. He is a Malibu Moon, but had the best parts of More Than Ready.”

Of the result, Scanlon said, “It’s typical pinhooking. A couple of them you get beat up on and this one you get rewarded.”

Scanlon sent 12 horses through the sales ring in Timonium this week and sold all 12 for a total of $1,424,000 and an average of $118,667.

“It has been really good sale,” he said. “The clearance has been great. We’ve sold every horse. So when you can hit a couple of good home runs and sell every horse, that’s a really good horse sale.”

L & N Racing Strikes for Tapit Colt

As the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale was winding down Tuesday, Lee Levinson’s L & N Racing swooped in to purchase a Tapit half-brother to Saturday’s GI Preakness S. winner War of Will (War Front) for $260,000 while bidding over the phone.

“He’s a Tapit who is a half to War of Will–those are the kind of horses we look for,” Levinson’s son Michael said. “He obviously didn’t have the most impressive work of the day, but we thought he galloped out well.”

Lee Levinson added, “He is well bred and we love to buy well-bred horses. The ones who go longer take longer to develop, so we’ll give him time.”

The bay colt (hip 575), a $130,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October Yearling purchase, is out of Visions of Clarity (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells). In addition to War of Will, he is a half-brother to Group 1 winner Pathfork (Distorted Humor) and multiple stakes winner Tacticus (A.P. Indy). He worked a furlong last week in :10 3/5.

Given the colt’s stand-out pedigree and War of Will’s Preakness win, was the father-son team surprised to acquire the 2-year-old for $260,000?

“To be honest, yes,” Michael said. “He vetted well, but he went later in the sale. Maybe people who were on him had already bought what they wanted to buy. We think it’s a good buy. I guess we’ll find out when he gets to the track.”

The youngster will be trained by Steve Asmussen.

The L & N Racing partnership, which also includes Lee Levinson’s son Andy and family friend Don Nelson, finished second with Lookin at Lee (Lookin at Lucky) in the 2017 GI Kentucky Derby.

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Unbeaten Quality Road Gelding Keeps Finding to Take Parx Spring Derby

Tue, 2019-05-21 16:50

PARX SPRING DERBY, $75,000, Parx Racing, 5-21, 3yo, 1m 70y, 1:44.59, ft.
1–BETHLEHEM ROAD, 121, g, 3, by Quality Road
   1st Dam: Alydarla (GSP, $150,650), by Henny Hughes
   2nd Dam: Mamboalot, by Kingmambo
   3rd Dam: Investalot, by Vice Regent
1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN. O/B-Gryphon Investments, LLC, Don
Ameche III & Randy Reed (KY); T-Dee Curry; J-Luis A. Rodriguez
Castro. $44,700. Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0, $99,300.
2–Mount Travers, 121, c, 3, Speightstown–Hot Summer, by
Malibu Moon. ($95,000 RNA 2yo ’18 OBSMAR). O/B-Alpha
Delta Stables, LLC (KY); T-Linda Rice. $14,900.
3–Fix Me a Sandwich, 121, g, 3, To Honor and Serve–Queen
Frostine, by Giant’s Causeway. ($6,000 Wlg ’16 KEENOV;
$6,000 Ylg ’17 FTKOCT). O-John Fanelli; B-Fedai Kahraman
(KY); T-Joseph Taylor. $7,450.
Margins: 1HF, 7HF, 1 3/4. Odds: 1.40, 1.70, 19.50.
Also Ran: Thiscatcanjump, Whistling Birds, War Tocsin.

Bethlehem Road, unbeaten in two outings to start his career, stretched out in the Parx Spring Derby Tuesday and turned back several challengers to score an impressive frontrunning victory.

Wiring his debut by 4 1/4 lengths going seven furlongs at this oval Apr. 1, the homebred came back three weeks later and triumphed by open lengths on the engine once again, earning an 86 Beyer for the effort. Taking late money to go off a narrow favorite in this first two-turn try, the bay broke on top and went straight to the lead. Dictating an eye-popping quarter of :22.32, the gelding moderated the pace somewhat down the backside through a half in :46.27. Pressed and briefly overtaken by Fix Me a Sandwich midway around the far turn, Bethlehem Road stiff-armed that rival by the top of the lane and skipped clear again. Second choice Mount Travers, however, had enjoyed a perfect trip from off the pace while saving ground on the turn, and appeared to have the leader measured approaching the sixteenth pole. Bethlehem Road found more yet though, and turned back the Linda Rice invader to get clear for the third time, striding home a convincing victor.

The winner’s dam, stakes placed three times, is a half to SW/GSP A Red Tie Day (Indygo Shiner) out of SP Mamboalot, herself a daughter of GSW Investalot. Bought by Don Ameche for $75,000 at Keeneland November in 2013, Alydarla has a juvenile City Zip filly named Mama Kin who went to Blue Devil Stable for the same price as a KEESEP yearling. She also is responsible for a yearling filly by Malibu Moon and foaled an Outwork filly Apr. 4. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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Colonel John Colt Summons $850K

Tue, 2019-05-21 16:21

John Dowd, acting on behalf of Larry Best’s OXO Equine, went to $850,000 to secure a son of Colonel John (Hip 528). A :10 1/5 breezer for consignor Randy Miles, the colt was purchased by Susan Casner for $10,000 at Keeneland November. Out of the A.P. Warrior mare Tayrona, hip 528 was bred by Silver Springs Stud.

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Into Mischief Filly is First to Hit Seven Figures at EASMAY

Tue, 2019-05-21 12:55

Shortly after an Into Mischief colt shot to the top of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old Sale when selling for $710,000, a filly (Hip 360) by the Spendthrift stallion shot right past him, becoming the new topper at $1.8 million. Donato Lanni signed the ticket on behalf of Michael Lund Petersen, who campaigned the likes of MGISW Mor Spirit (Eskendereya) and MGSW Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man). A :10 flat breezer for consignor Bobby Dodd, the bay was purchased by Brady Grady’s Grand Oaks for $220,000 at KEESEP. Bred by Barbara Banke’s Grace Thoroughbred Holdings, the filly is out of SP Peggy Jane (Kafwain).

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Into Mischief Colt Sparks Early Fireworks in Timonium

Tue, 2019-05-21 12:04

A colt by leading sire Into Mischief (Hip 322) sparked some fireworks early in Tuesday’s second session of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old Sale when hammering for $710,000 to bloodstock agent Pete Bradley, who was acting on behalf of owner Bill Lawrence. Bred in New York by Dr. Jerry Bilinski and Marty Zaretsky, the bay is the second foal out of Nihilist (Latent Heat). Carlo Vaccarezza purchased the colt for $265,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale and he RNA’d for $575,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale in March. Hip 322 breezed in :21 3/5 in Maryland for consignor Top Line Sales.

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Claiborne to Stand Catholic Boy Upon Retirement

Tue, 2019-05-21 11:22

Claiborne Farm has purchased an interest in Catholic Boy (More Than Ready–Song of Bernadette, by Bernardini), a Grade I winner on both dirt and turf and victor of the GII Dixie S. at Pimlico on Preakness Day in his 2019 debut. He will stand at the farm upon his retirement from racing, they announced Tuesday.

“What an incredible horse. What an incredible effort [in the Dixie],” said Robert LaPenta, who campaigns Catholic Boy in partnership with Madaket Stables, Siena Farm, and Twin Creeks Racing Stables. “Six and a half months off–(the Dixie S.) was not an easy race, and he made us proud.”

A graded stakes winner at ages two, three and four, Catholic Boy won three of his four starts as a juvenile, including the GIII With Anticipation S. on turf at Saratoga and the GII Remsen S. on dirt. In 2018, Catholic Boy became just the third American 3-year-old in history to win Grade I races on dirt and turf, preceded by two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome and Secretariat, who also retired to Claiborne. Those wins came in the GI Belmont Derby Invitational S. and the GI Runhappy Travers S., both at a mile and a quarter.

“He’s just such a gifted horse,” said trainer Jonathan Thomas immediately after the Dixie. “I would have been happy coming here and running a good second or third and galloping out well. But he has it in him to win. It was great to see. Sometimes turf is a little easier on them coming back and that was the plan we utilized.”

Bred in Kentucky by Fred W. Hertrich III and John D. Fielding, Catholic Boy is out of Song of Bernadette, who sold to Bridlewood Farm for $2.3 million carrying a foal by War Front at last year’s Fasig-Tipton November Sale. (See the TDN video feature on Song of Bernadette.)

Catholic Boy’s record currently stands at seven wins from 11 starts–six of them graded–and earnings of over $1.9 million. He is being pointed toward’s Belmont’s GII Suburban H. on the main track July 6.

“A graded stakes winner on both dirt and turf at two, and Grade I winner on both dirt and turf at three, makes him one of the most versatile and unique stallion prospects on the market,” said Claiborne’s Walker Hancock. “Plus, being a son of More Than Ready opens him up to breed to a very wide variety of mares. We are thrilled to stand him at Claiborne Farm upon his retirement.


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Strong Opener to Fasig Midlantic Sale

Mon, 2019-05-20 18:53

TIMONIUM, MD–The two-day Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale kicked off in Timonium Monday with a strong session punctuated by competitive bidding from a broad buying bench. Trainer Ken McPeek made the day’s highest bid, going to $500,000 to secure a colt by Street Sense (hip 156) from the Top Line Sales consignment.

In all, 156 juveniles sold Monday for a total of $11,402,500. The average of $73,093 ticked up 4.2% from last year’s opening session and the median rose 19.4% to $43,000. The buy-back rate was 25.7%. It was 22.9% a year ago.

Eleven horses sold for $200,000 or more during the session, compared to 13 a year ago.

“It was a solid start to the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, Jr. “Statistically, it was very similar to last year. It was pretty much the market that we have seen throughout the 2-year-old sales season of 2019 and it was about as expected.”

A traditional strength of the Midlantic sale is its diverse buying bench, which was on full display Monday, according to Browning.

“We feed a number of racing jurisdictions and you see buyers from literally all over the United States, from California to the Southwest and obviously a lot of Eastern trainers and some Midwestern support,” Browning said. “There was activity from Korea and some folks from Dubai. It’s a very broad-based buying bench that participated in this sale.”

The day’s top 10 lots were all purchased by unique buying interests.

The Midlantic sale continues Tuesday and Browning is looking for another strong session.

“I think we probably have some more top-end horses tomorrow, based on the chatter on the sales grounds amongst both consignors and buyers,” he said. “So we should hopefully have some fireworks tomorrow, but it was certainly a good, solid consistent marketplace at a variety of levels today, which was encouraging.”

The Midlantic sale’s final session begins at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Colt Makes Sense for McPeek

Ken McPeek made good use of his time in Baltimore. While in town to saddle Signalman (General Quarters) in Saturday’s GI Preakness S., the trainer went through the Fasig Midlantic sales barns and came up with a colt by Street Sense. McPeek purchased the bay on behalf of Reebok founder Paul Fireman for $500,000 Monday in Timonium.

“I thought he was a real standout here,” McPeek said. “Obviously the sire is a Derby winner and the bottom line is speed. He looked great breezing and presented himself well out back. He had an injection of Deputy Minister on the bottom line, too, in the second dam, which I am always fond of. I have had a lot of luck with that line.”

The juvenile (hip 156) is out of Forest Fashion (Forest Wildcat), who is a daughter of Fashion Editor (Deputy Minister) and she is a half-sister to graded stakes placed Luxembourg (Wild Rush).

The 75-year-old Fireman, who races as Fern Circle Stables, was represented in this year’s GI Kentucky Oaks by Restless Rider (Distorted Humor).

“Paul Fireman, the principal on this one, is always looking for a really good horse,” McPeek said. “We had Restless Rider in the Oaks this year, so we’ve sort of sniffed around at some top-end stuff and that is what he is after. And this is certainly a high-class colt.”

The colt worked over a challenging surface during last week’s first session of the under-tack preview and turned in the fastest quarter-mile time of the day, covering the distance in :21 4/5.

“He showed a turn of foot that you need to win big races,” McPeek said of the work.

He added, “Because I was here for the Preakness with Signalman, I looked at every horse myself. I had some time to kill going into the race. I trained in the morning and then I had the afternoon [to look at horses]. So I looked at every horse by Sunday and narrowed it down. This was a horse who made the short list and he certainly deserved to be on it.”

The colt was consigned by Top Line Sales, as agent for Carlo Vaccarezza who purchased him for $280,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale. Vaccarezza has enjoyed a string of successful pinhooking scores this spring. At the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale, he sold a colt by American Pharoah for $775,000. He had purchased the youngster for $235,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale.

Hip 156 was originally also slated to go to the Gulfstream sale, according to Top Line’s Torie Gladwell.

“This colt just took a little bit longer to get ready,” Gladwell said. “We actually had him entered in the Miami sale and he was just a big and little heavier horse and we opted to scratch him out of Miami and just keep training him and getting him a little fitter. We knew he would be a big fish up here. And he did everything right. He breezed two ticks faster than anything else on the first day. The first day was pretty tough and we actually sent him in the last set, hoping the track would dry out a little bit. He breezed really well and he looked good doing it. He looked like he was galloping in his breeze. I’m happy for Carlo, he’s having a good year.”

Patience Pays for Uncle Mo Colt

Consignor Eddie Woods admitted it had taken some time for his colt by Uncle Mo to come to hand, but the juvenile did it handsomely in Timonium this week before ultimately selling for $475,000 to Martin Schwartz. Woods’s Quarter Pole Enterprise partnership purchased the dark bay for $225,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

“He is a lovely horse,” Woods said. “He is just very immature and very backward. It took a long time for him to come around. We never took him to another sale. We had him entered in [OBS] March and he just wasn’t ready for it. His butt is still up in the air, way above his withers. We could just never get him to balance out and in March he looked awkward. But we just gave him the time. This is sort of the last place to come with a horse. I had a partner who wanted to sell here and I said, ‘Okay.’ It went really well.”

Hip 236 is out of the unraced Lady Godiva (Unbridled’s Song) and is a half-brother to Grade I winner Leofric (Candy Ride {Arg}). Lady Godiva, in foal to Candy Ride, sold for $600,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton November sale.

The juvenile worked a furlong last week in :10 2/5.

“He breezed great,” Woods said. “He had a beautiful video because he’s a beautiful-moving horse. He struggled with the turn a little bit, he was going a bit quick and he kind of blew the turn and went into the middle of the track a little bit and then drifted back in and cost himself a tick.”

As the juvenile sales season winds down, Woods observed of the Timonium market, “We are getting horses sold. This is one of the last events. Some of the pinhooking has gone quite well, so we’re just moving horses along here.”

He continued, “This was the lightest that we had seen for the showing here. Usually Sunday, we are swamped. And we were busy in spots this year, but we weren’t swamped. So I was a little concerned, especially for the bottom-end horses, but we got a lot of them sold just due to setting very realistic reserves and people wanting to move them on.”

Carlisle Strikes for Ghostzapper Filly

A filly by Ghostzapper will be joining the Tom Amoss barn after bloodstock agent Lauren Carlisle went to $400,000 to secure hip 205 on behalf of owner Temple Webber.

“She is beautiful,” Carlisle said after signing the ticket on the youngster. “I loved her top line and her breeze was very impressive. She had a great shoulder and hip to match, so all the angles were there.”

The dark bay is out of stakes winner I’m Mom’s Favorite (Indian Charlie) and her third dam is multiple Grade I winner Tout Charmant (Slewvescent). She worked a furlong during last week’s under-tack show in :10 2/5.

“That was my last bid,” Carlisle admitted. “I was lucky to get her, but we stretched.”

That was a refrain Carlisle has found common all season long at the juvenile sales.

“It’s hard to buy the ones you want,” she said. “Everybody is on the same ones, so you’ve got to pray when you go to bid that you’re going to be able to get what you want. The good ones sell.”

The dark bay filly was consigned to the Timonium sale by Pelican State Thoroughbreds.

“She is just beautiful,” Pelican State Thoroughbreds’ Terry Gabriel said. “Just about everybody in the place was interested in her.”

Gabriel purchased the filly on behalf of David Fennelly’s Mountmellick Farm for $185,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale.

“We just thought she had a lot of potential in front of her,” Gabriel explained. “She was sort of a late foal [Apr. 28]. She was a big, gawky-looking filly that wasn’t really put together back in October. We hoped that she would arrive here today looking like she did and she did. You’ll read about her again. She is special.”

An Irish native, Fennelly worked as a groom at Spendthrift when he first came to the U.S. and he is now building his own commercial broodmare band at his 600-acre Mountmellick Farm in Georgetown.

Of Fennelly’s pinhooking venture, Gabriel explained, “He basically does that because of me. Anything that I sort of want to do, he’ll let me do. It’s been enjoyable for us.”

The filly’s final price tag was a career mark for Gabriel.

“It was right up there,” he said. “I can’t recall the numbers at this point, but it’s at least as strong as I’ve ever sold one for. I don’t do that many pinhooks–I have just two today. But I was so excited. I just loved her. It was easy for me to promote her because I could stand in front of her and tell people you can send her to the track tomorrow and she is going to be that for you, day in and day out. She has it all in front of her.”

Wilkes Busy Shopping for Lothenbach

Trainer Ian Wilkes kept busy during Monday’s first session of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale, purchasing four juveniles on behalf of owner Bob Lothenbach. Leading the way was a filly by Uncle Mo (hip 90), who sold for $350,000.

“She is a nice filly,” Wilkes said after signing the ticket on the bay filly. “Bob has her half-brother, Elusive Mischief, who is a nice horse who won a race for him.”

Hip 90 was consigned by Top Line Sales on behalf of Zayat Stables, which purchased her for $160,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale. She is out of Claire’s Song (Unbridled’s Song), a half-sister to the dam of Canadian champion Wonder Gadot (Medaglia d’Oro). Lothenbach purchased Elusive Mischief (Into Mischief) for $92,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Horses of Racing Age sale. The 4-year-old won the Punch Line S. at Laurel for Lothenbach last September.

Also on behalf of Lothenbach, Wilkes purchased a colt by Pioneerof the Nile (hip 76) for $195,000, a Street Sense filly (hip 58) for $150,000, and a Speightstown filly (hip 56) for $135,000. “He’s looking for the Oaks or the Derby-type horse,” Wilkes said of Lothenbach. “That’s his main thing. That’s what he is looking for–that nice two-turn type horse.”

Bernardini Filly to Speedway Stable

Peter Fluor sat alongside Marette Farrell as the bloodstock agent went to $335,000 to secure a filly by Bernardini for his Speedway Stable. While immediate plans are to race the filly in the Speedway colors of Fluor and K.C. Weiner, long-term plans might include adding her to the operation’s fledgling broodmare band to support Grade I winner Collected (City Zip), as well as possibly GI Santa Anita Derby winner Roadster (Quality Road).

“They have now started keeping a couple of fillies as broodmares because we have Collected as a stallion,” Farrell said. “We are very hopeful that Roadster is going to come back big in the later part of this year. So we want fillies with proper pedigrees. Which she has.”

Hip 85 is out of the unraced Christmas Lass (Lemon Drop Kid), a full-sister to Grade I winner Christmas Kid.

“We loved the bottom line and Bernardini speaks for himself,” Fluor said of the filly’s appeal. “So we are buying athletes, but secondarily, looking for Collected and possibly Roadster.”

Speedway currently has a broodmare band of some 15 head, with plans to build a commercial breeding operation.

“Thanks to Marette, we have been into breeding for three years,” Fluor said. “But we are still very early on in the process. We will race the filly and then we will breed and sell the offspring. It’s a commercial breeding operation, rather than having people wonder why are you selling this one–because it’s a business.”

The filly, who worked a quarter last week in :22 1/5, was consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables on behalf of Ron Fein. Fein’s Superfine Farms purchased the filly for $137,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale.

“She has a great pedigree, a great body and she was a nice mover,” Fein said of the filly’s appeal last Fall. “Ciaran loved her–that’s all that counts.”

Fein, who said he aims to pinhook five or six a year, had his first million-dollar sale at last month’s OBS April sale, when he sold a colt by Liam’s Map for $1.2 million. The juvenile had been purchased for just $50,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

“It’s been a great year,” Fein said of his 2019 sales season. “With a lot of thanks to Ciaran Dunne.”

Grassroots Training and Sales Cleans Up

Grassroots Training and Sales enjoyed a string of big pinhooking successes during Monday’s opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale, topped off by a son of Wicked Strong (hip 131) who sold for $240,000 to Manganaro Bloodstock. The dark bay colt was a $27,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling purchase by the Ocala-based operation.

“We bought the Wicked Strong colt at Fasig Tipton in October and he was a very nice colt up there,” explained Grassroot’s David McKathan. “He had injured himself and he had some cuts behind which took a lot of buyers off of him, but they were superficial. We took a chance and he turned out to be a nice colt, so we got lucky.”

Earlier in the session, Grassroots sold a colt (hip 99) from the first crop of multiple graded stakes winner Golden Lad, who stands in Maryland, for $175,000 to Gary Young, as agent for Michael Dubb. That chestnut was purchased for $20,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Yearling sale.

“The Golden Lad was by a young sire who people weren’t familiar with,” McKathan said of the bargain purchase. “He’s a good-looking colt. We saw a possible opportunity when we saw him. We buy a lot of possible opportunities that don’t work out, but he did.”

During last Tuesday’s first session of the under-tack preview of the Midlantic sale, Grassroots sent out two of the furlong :10 1/5 bullet workers and both sold well Monday. A filly by Weigelia (hip 118), purchased for $23,000 at the Midlantic fall sale, brought $120,000 from Patti Miller and a filly by Competitive Edge (hip 106), purchased by $13,000 at the OBS October sale, attracted a final bid of $110,000 from West Bloodstock.

“When we target this market, we try to stay with state-breds for the area, Pennsylvania-breds and Maryland-breds,” McKathan said. “We try to buy good individuals. And sometimes it works.”

Strong Timonium Debut for Hemingway

Michelle Hemingway brought her first consignment to Timonium and made an immediate impression in the Midlantic sales ring Monday. Hemingway sold a colt by Pioneerof the Nile (hip 76) for $195,000 to Bob Lothenbach. The Virginia native, daughter of former Mid-Atlantic trainer Clarke Whitaker, purchased the youngster for $12,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale.

“He had the most beautiful walk of any horse I’d ever seen,” Hemingway said of the colt’s appeal as a yearling. “I was shocked [to get him for that]. I have to give a lot of credit to Mark Taylor and Alex Payne. They had him with Taylor Made and they’ve been really good to me this year. They showed him to me, he was completely under-prepped and overweight, but he had a great walk. So I was very fortunate to get him for what I got him for.”

Of the colt’s progression since last fall, Hemingway said, “He is a totally different horse. He’s a real jewel now. I couldn’t have been happier.”

Hemingway, based in Ocala since 2008, started Hemingway Racing and Training in 2014.

Of her decision to sell horses in Timonium this year, she explained, “[Fasig-Tipton President] Boyd Browning has been super to me. He’s really helped in getting me started and I really wanted to support this sale. I’m from the Virginia area–I grew up riding show horses in Virginia and Maryland and New Jersey. I thought, it was time to go home for a while. And so far, it’s been so good.”

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TIEA Nominations Open

Mon, 2019-05-20 18:34

Nominations for the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards (TIEA) open Tuesday, May 21, and will close Monday, July 15. A new award category, the Administration Award, is being added in 2019, which brings the total number of categories to seven and total prize money to $128,000. The awards will be held Friday, Oct. 11 at Keeneland.

“Keeneland is honored to host the 4th annual Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards,” said Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason. “These individuals are the backbone of our industry and it is a privilege to celebrate their contributions to our sport.”

For more information and to nominate online, please go to

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Leading Mid-Atlantic Sire Jump Start Dead at 20

Mon, 2019-05-20 14:45

Northview Stallions’ Jump Start (A.P. Indy–Steady Cat, by Storm Cat), the leading sire in the Mid-Atlantic region for the past five years, was euthanized Sunday morning at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center due to complications from colitis, Northview announced Monday. The dark bay was 20.

Standing at Northview PA in Peach Bottom, Pa., for $10,000 live foal, the most expensive stallion in the region, Jump Start sired 69 stakes winners and 24 graded/group winners since launching his stud career in 2003 at his birthplace, Overbrook Farm in Kentucky. He sired three millionaires–GISW Rail Trip and MGSWs Prayer for Relief and Pants On Fire. Sent to Argentina for seven breeding seasons through the mid-2010s, Jump Start also sired three South American champions: 2014 Argentinian Horse of the year Idolo Porteno (Arg), Uruguay’s 2017 champion 3-year-old filly and older mare Sexy Reasons (Arg) and Argentina’s 2-year-old filly champion of 2015 Seresta.

Trained by D. Wayne Lukas for his breeder, William T. Young, Jump Start won the GII Saratoga Special S. as a juvenile and finished second in the GI Champagne S. He was retired with a condylar fracture of his left front cannon bone after an off-the-board finish in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and finished his racing career with a record of 5-2-1-0 and earnings of $221,265.

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A Whip-Free Day of Racing in Norway

Mon, 2019-05-20 13:45

It was Constitution Day last Friday when racing was held at Norway’s Øvrevoll racecourse, a leafy green little country track nestled on the outskirts of Oslo, the famous Holmenkollbakken ski jump soaring high in the far distance.

Constitution Day commemorates the signing in 1814 of the Norwegian Constitution, declaring the nation a sovereign entity–Norway, at the time, had been ceded by those sneaky Danes to the king of Sweden (and it would take Norway until 1905 before they finally became an independent nation, but that’s a story for another time).

On this day every year, droves of Norwegians throw on their glad rags–lavish folk costumes called bunad. And there was bunad aplenty at Øvrevoll last Friday. But this wasn’t perhaps the most eye-catching memento from the day. Nor was it the large Ikea bags turned hay nets, into which the rotund little pony taking families on cart rides around the track would routinely disappear.

No, for this export from California–where the authorities are currently debating whether to restrict use of the whip for safety purposes only–perhaps the most conspicuous turn of events was the sight in race after race of jockeys driving their horses towards the finish line with both whip-less hands on the reins, that dull “thwack, thwack, thwack” absent from the end-of-race soundtrack. A sight unique to this country for quite some time.

It was back in 1986 that the Norwegian minister of agriculture first outlawed use of the whip in both Thoroughbred and trotting races. This didn’t go down too well with some of the horsemen, however, who pushed back against the measure, and a compromise was reached allowing jockeys to carry a shortened version of the whip, to be used for safety purposes only.

In 2009, a further amendment put into place the rules that exist today, allowing jockeys to carry a whip in 2-year-old and jump races only. In flat races for 3-year-olds and up, no whip may be carried. Both of the jockey’s hands must be on the reins at all times, and if jockeys violate these rules, they can face a possible fine, ban and disqualification.

“We’ve never had any complaints from the punters,” Hans Petter Eriksen, former director of the Norwegian Jockey Club, told a gathering of leading industry figures from around the world the day before. “The best horse can win the race, even without the whip.”

Eriksen also said that in 30 years, “there have been no accidents resulting from jockeys not being able to carry a whip;” a statement with which the Øvrevoll stewards all agreed, when they stayed behind after the last race to explain the mechanics of policing the rule to the TDN.

Helge Byrgin, one of those stewards, added that anecdotal evidence suggests that there have been “fewer serious injuries to horses during the races than there were before.”

The jockeys can use the whip on the shoulder to avoid a dangerous situation, said Kristin Grundy, head steward, but the action must be taken only when the horse visibly needs correction–it cannot be used to correct a horse in anticipation of wrongdoing.

Most races are for 3-year-olds and up, where jockeys aren’t permitted to carry a whip at all. Nor can they use their reins as a substitute. But that doesn’t stop the jockeys from trying; just that afternoon, one was suspended for using his reins as a whip. Still, the stewards all agreed that their jobs had gotten easier since 2009, when the whip was banned entirely in most races.

“It’s not always easy when they have the whip,” said steward Nicholas Cordrey. “It’s a lot easier when they don’t.”

Fines range from around $230 to $570US for an infraction, and stewards also have the option of disqualifying a horse–not that the rules are broken too often, anyway. The stewards said it occurs on average 3 times a year–out of between 240 and 250 races run annually–and they added that no horses were disqualified in 2018.

Helpful to the stewards, undeniably, is how the fields typically aren’t glued together tight. Indeed, as they enter the straight, the horses fan wide across the track. This phenomenon, they said, has less to do with the whip ban (as some suggest), and more to do with Øvrevoll’s configuration: as undulating as a swelling ocean, narrow tracks, and tight turns that would give a greyhound vertigo.

“It’s not a bend, it’s a corner,” said steward Nicholas Cordrey of the turn into the straight. “And if they can come around that corner without a whip, they can come around nice big bends without one.”

One of the concerns raised in California about the proposed whip rule is that it could lead to more instances of non-triers. “We discuss it regularly when a horse is behind and whether the rider put the horse enough in a race,” said Cordrey. “But I think that happens just as much when they can use the whip.”

Another concern in California is that a whip ban would throw a wrench in punters’ handicapping algorithms. But the form, said Grundy, holds up well when horses who run regularly in Sweden and Denmark (where the whip is still largely permitted) come to Norway, and vice versa.

Interestingly, while the whip ban extends to the morning, trainers still use it regularly during training, but are rarely, if ever, reported to the stewards, they admitted. “I have never heard of anybody being reported,” said Grundy.

A little earlier in the afternoon, I checked in to gauge the temperature in the jock’s room, and, as expected, the warm enthusiasm shown by those policing the rules wasn’t mirrored by those being policed.
“What use is that to the jockey?” complained Per-Anders Graberg, a veteran of the jock’s room, about the shading in the rules where jockeys can only correct a horse when it visibly needs correcting, and not before. “If they’re going to duck out, you want to whack them before they do it. Now you’ve got to let the horse duck out and possibly hit someone and then whack it. It’s too late.”
“I always see things happening that you could have avoided carrying the stick,” he added. “They always say, ‘nobody broke their neck the last 10 years.’ It doesn’t have to go that far. Every year you see things that could have ended up better if you had the stick to correct the horse.”

Roughly six or seven years ago, said Graberg, a horse he was riding hung out during a race and broke through the outside rail, leaving the jockey with a broken rib. “I’m pretty sure if I had a stick I could have made the turn,” he said.
(For their part, the stewards have a different reading of this incident, and place a lot of the blame on the narrow nature of the course).

Jockey Jan-Erik Neuroth, son of one of Norway’s most illustrious trainers Wido Neuroth, told his own story, of an incident concerning a 2-year-old having its first run. “It started broncking, started to turn, I gave it two on the shoulder,” said Neuroth. “That’s it, I got two days on the ground [suspension], big fine,” he added.

Which explains why a number of jockeys in Norway now voluntarily choose to leave the whip back in the jock’s room when riding 2-year-olds. “It’s too big a risk, really,” said Graberg, about the temptation to reach for the whip and the potential consequences of doing so.

“We can’t afford to lose big races,” jockey Oliver Wilson chimed in.

While the stewards and the jockeys are polarized on this issue, other horsemen enjoying the hazy spring Oslo sunshine that afternoon appeared ambivalent. Indeed, in a turn of phrase that will ring familiar to any trainer in the U.S., Neuroth expressed greater frustration with the lack of regulatory uniformity between the Scandinavian countries where his horses perform.
Madeleine Brixner owns a 6-year-old mare called Swan Black, in training with Øvrevoll-based Niels Peterson. While she would prefer the jockeys to at least carry the stick, “I understand the public perception,” she said.

As for the general race-going public, the consensus was clear: don’t bring the whip back.

“I think it’s bad,” said Anders Lien, a racing neophyte, who had never seen the whip used in a race until he watched recently the Netflix series “7 Days Out,” which chronicled the lead up to the 2018 Kentucky Derby. “I don’t see the need for it,” he said.

With that in mind, I asked the Øvervoll stewards one piece of advice for their American counterparts, in the event California goes the way of Norway, and jockeys will only be able use the whip for safety purposes only. Collectively, they replied, almost in unison: take the whip completely away.

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The Rematch We All Want: Let’s Make It Happen

Sun, 2019-05-19 17:09

The Week in Review, By Bill Finley

We won’t see War of Will (War Front) versus Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) in the GI Belmont S. Via email, Gary West, the co-owner of Maximum Security, confirmed that his horse will not race in the final leg of the Triple Crown.

“We are not looking at the Belmont because the trainer (Jason Servis) thinks he needs more time to recover from the Derby and, with us, the horse comes first,” West wrote. “Maximum Security will tell us when he is ready to run.”

War of Will is being pointed toward the Belmont, trainer Mark Casse confirmed after his colt’s win in the GI Preakness S.

Holding Maximum Security out of the Belmont is perfectly reasonable. There is no Triple Crown on the line and he had to run hard every step of the way in a Derby in which he crossed the wire first only to be disqualified. The game of bumper cars that ensued in the Derby stretch run could also have left him banged up.

But with all that has ensued in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, Round 2 of War of Will vs. Maximum Security would be the most anticipated race in years. It’s an odd situation since Maximum Security did not officially win the Derby, but most everyone believes he was the best horse that day. But there is a grey area since War of Will was bothered so badly he wasn’t fully able to show what he could do Derby Day. And when he got a trouble-free trip he came back to win the Preakness. You also have a bit of a dustup between the owners. In between races, West went on TV and claimed that War of Will, and not Maximum Security, actually caused all the trouble in the Derby. Barber answered back with a press release where he “categorically denied” what he said was a “false accusation.”

So what we have here is the chance for a good old-fashioned grudge match.

Barber, who watched the Preakness from France, has been unavailable to the media since the race, so no one is quite sure what is going through his mind right now. He might like to know that West said he was happy to see War of Will win.

“(War of Will) was the best horse in the Preakness and I congratulate everyone connected with the horse,” he said.

West said the only race that is definitely on Maximum Security’s schedule is the July 20 GI Haskell at Monmouth. He added that there is a chance Maximum Security will use the June 16 Pegasus S., also at Monmouth, as a prep.

“Our goal now is to win the 3 year-old Eclipse and everything we do will be to that end,” West said.

The most obvious place for the two horses to meet is the Haskell. The GI Travers, the GI Pennsylvania Derby and the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic are also possibilities. But everyone should be rooting for Barber and Casse to point War of Will to the Haskell rather than waiting for another spot to take on Maximum Security. With horses being as fragile as they are, the longer they put off the rematch the less of a chance there is that it will actually happen. Gary Barber has to worry about what’s best for his own horse, but we can all hope he would also factor into the equation what’s good for the sport, and that’s a Haskell appearance by War of Will.

There’s also the matter of West’s challenge that he issued to the owners of the others horses involved in the Derby incident. He essentially offered to bet any of the other owners $5 million that their horse would not finish ahead of Maximum Security in any race where any among that group of 3 year-olds showed up to take on his horse.

Prior to the Preakness, the challenge looked silly. Maximum Security was the best horse in Derby and any of the owners of horses who finished behind him would be foolish to wager $5 million at even-money odds that they could beat him. After the Preakness, that may no longer be the case. West and Barber are both very rich men and Barber very well could be so emboldened by the Preakness win that he’s ready to accept West’s challenge.

“Mr. Barber is a good man, but I can’t speak for him,” West said. “But I would personally take me up on my offer in a heartbeat. War of Will and Maximum Security would generate a lot of interest in racing and a ‘match race within a race’ with those two horses would be very good for the sport.”

He’s 100% right. Let’s hope Barber agrees and has already circled the Haskell on his calendar.

Problems at Delaware Park

It’s no secret that there is too much racing in the Mid-Atlantic and not enough horses to go around to adequately fill cards at all the tracks running this time of year in the region. To have racing going on concurrently at Laurel/Pimlico, Delaware Park, Monmouth and Parx is not sustainable. To make things even more difficult on the racing offices, Colonial Downs will rejoin the group later this year after being closed since 2013. And, in the past, when they raced, the Maryland tracks would shut down. This year that’s not going to happen.

One of these tracks had to be the odd track out and it’s clear that it’s Delaware Park. Even with slot-infused purses they simply don’t have enough horses to conduct a viable meet. On Saturday, Delaware had three races with just four starters and another with five. They are averaging 6.08 starters per race for the meet.

That figure would be even lower if not for Delaware twice canceling cards due to insufficient entries. That’s two cancellations from the first nine scheduled cards.

The TDN received no response when sending an email request to interview Delaware Park President Bill Fasy. What I would have liked to know is what the track plans to do about the situation. It might be a hard pill to swallow, but the most obvious solution would be, in the future, to run a five or six-day meet centered around the GII Delaware H. It would be terrific if some, if not all, of the tracks that compete with Delaware would all shut down on Del Cap Day if Delaware agreed to forego a full meet. That, however, as we all know, will never happen.


Usually superlatives and accolades are reserved for races run at the highest level, but Friday’s GIII Miss Preakness produced what was undoubtedly the best performance of the year by any horse. Covfefe (Into Mischief) completed the six-furlong race in 1:07.70 for trainer Brad Cox. She shattered the Pimlico track record for the distance, which was 1:09, and set by Northern Wolf in 1990.

What makes the feat all the more impressive is that there is basically no “run up” when it comes to six-furlong races at Pimlico. The horses trip the teletimer within a stride or two of leaving the gate, essentially meaning that the races are timed from a standing start. The 1:07.7 at Pimlico might have been 1:06 and change at any other track.

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Obituary: Gerry Aschinger

Sun, 2019-05-19 16:26

Gerald Aschinger, co-owner of War Horse Place, passed away Friday, May 17 after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Aschinger and his wife Dana founded War Horse Place in Lexington, Ky. in 2004. An avid polo player before moving to Kentucky, he enjoyed success as a trainer, led by SW & MGSP Lots o’ Lex (Kitalpha) and Dramedy (Distored Humor), who won the 2015 GII Dixiana Elkhorn S. at Keeneland.

There are currently no service plans, but in lieu of flowers, donations in his honor are welcome to his favorite charities, Thoroughbred Charities of America, America’s vetdogs, MD Anderson and Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

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War of Will Targeting Belmont Stakes

Sun, 2019-05-19 16:02

War of Will (War Front) exited his 1 1/4-length victory in Saturday’s 144th GI Preakness S. in good order and will line up next in the GI Belmont S. June 8 if he continues to show all the right signs, trainer Mark Casse said Sunday morning.

“I would say there’s an extremely good shot he’ll be there,” Casse said of the Belmont S. “Now it’s just a matter of him saying he doesn’t want to go, that would be if he was lethargic or something in training.

“There are only three Triple Crown races; they’re pretty important. I think if you can do it, you should do it. The Belmont is the Belmont. It’s the third leg of the Triple Crown. Who doesn’t want to win it?”

War of Will was at the center of the potentially catastrophic entanglement in the GI Kentucky Derby when Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) came out into War of Will’s path. War of Will finished eighth and was moved up to seventh upon Maximum Security’s disqualification to 17th. War of Will could be the only horse to run in all three spring classics for 3-year-olds this year.

“Between texts and emails, I had more than 400, and I always answer everybody,” Casse said. “I’ve only answered about 250 so far, so I’m still working on that. And I got a very nice email from Gary West, which was very nice, congratulating [owner] Gary [Barber] and I.”

• Calumet Farm’s Everfast (Take Charge Indy), a rallying second at 29-1 for trainer Dale Romans in the Preakness, will likely point to the Belmont S. “If everything goes well and he’s training well, he’ll be there,” Romans said of the GII Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull S. runner-up. “He can sneak up and run a big race. He always tries, and he showed in the Holy Bull that he can run with those kinds of horses.”

• Brad Cox, who finished third with Owendale (Into Mischief) and fourth with Warrior’s Charge (Munnings) in the trainer’s Triple Crown debut in the Preakness, said Owendale could possibly run in the Belmont S.

“They both cooled out fine, actually pretty quick too, considering to ask them to do something they’d never done before, going that far,” Cox said. “Warrior’s Charge, as fast as he went early, he looked great his morning. His energy is good. Same thing with Owendale.

“Warrior’s Charge, we wouldn’t even consider the Belmont with him, obviously. The mile and a half is a touch far. Owendale, we’ll think about it. We’ll see how he’s moving. It would have a lot to do with who’s running, and, first of all, how he’s doing. It’s a lot back in three weeks. But it’s a big purse and it’s a prestigious race, and these horses only get one shot in their 3-year-old year.”

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Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale Starts Monday

Sun, 2019-05-19 13:40

TIMONIUM, MD – The Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, looking to build on a string of successful renewals, begins its two-day run in Timonium Monday morning with bidding slated to begin at 11 a.m.

Following a stakes-packed weekend of racing at nearby Pimlico, the sales barns were bustling Sunday morning at the Maryland State Fairgrounds and consignors were optimistic about strong trade Monday and Tuesday.

“It’s been very active,” Cary Frommer confirmed. “There are a lot of people. My consignment has been booming, we’ve been very busy. And I hope that translates to buyers.”

This season’s juvenile sales have featured a broader marketplace, but activity continues to be briskest at the top. Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, Jr. looks for that trend to continue at the Midlantic sale.

“The market will continue to gravitate to what they perceive to be quality,” Browning said. “There will be serious competition for what are perceived to be the top horses and I think there will be a solid marketplace below that, as well.”

Consignor J.J. Crupi agreed the market will always be strong for the most prized offerings.

“If you’ve got the right horse, it’s always strong,” Crupi said. “No matter where you are. You could be at Cahokia Downs, if you have the right horse they will find it.”

The Midlantic sale has produced seven-figure transacations in each of the last four years and, as evidenced by the 2019 catalogue cover, boasts an increasingly impressive list of graduates.

“The sale has grown in both popularity and success in recent years,” Browning said. “Consignors have brought us better and better horses and, as a result, the graduates have peformed more successfully on the racetrack. I think consignors have confidence to bring a top quality horse here and buyers have the confidence to buy a quality horse here.”

Frommer agreed the success of the sale’s graduates helps build momentum from year to year.

“The sale itself has gotten better and better every year,” she said. “It used to be kind of a B sale and now everybody is here and the horses are really good. The main thing is that really good horses are coming out of this sale every year–graded stakes horses and super runners. That’s what brings new buyers around.”

Located in the heart of the Midlantic racing circuit, the auction traditionally attracts a diverse group of buyers.

“There is a bigger mix of buyers here than we get in a lot of places,” explained Ciaran Dunne, whose Wavertree Stables consignment boasts the sale’s biggest update with a Tapit half-brother to Saturday’s GI Preakness S. winner War of Will (War Front). “You can sell horses at any level here, from $5,000 to a million dollars. There are all kinds of buyers here. It’s a really good clearing place.”

The juvenile sales season is starting to wind down and Frommer pointed to the Midlantic auction’s later date as another positive for consignors.

“A lot of these horses, if they were in training for racing, would be, maybe not doing what they are doing as fast as they’re doing it, but they would be up to doing this,” Frommer said. “It’s not really pressing on them to get them ready for this sale. They round into this sale really nicely, I think.”

During last year’s sale, 333 juveniles sold for $24,868,500 for an average of $74,680 and a median of $38,000. A colt by Medaglia d’Oro brought a sale-topping final bid of $1.2 million.


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Le Havre Hits New Heights

Sun, 2019-05-19 10:39

With enough evidence in the books for this year’s European flat turf season to begin analyzing sire performance, we’re faced with some predictable trends, while others are a little more surprising.

Predictable: Galileo retains his spot atop the general sire list by European and North American earnings, a position he has yet to relinquish since 2010. He is trailed by almost £800,000 in earnings by Shamardal, who likewise stands for a private fee at Darley’s Kildangan Stud, and Irish National Stud linchpin Invincible Spirit, who is making his €120,000 covering fee look rather reasonable in light of the incredibly good fortune being enjoyed by himself and his sire sons like Kingman (GB) and I Am Invincible (Aus).

A less likely face in the top five is France’s Le Havre (Ire), who sits about £14,000 off Invincible Spirit in fourth. Moreover, had the nose decision of Shamardal’s Castle Lady (Ire) and Le Havre’s Commes (Fr) in last Sunday’s G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches gone the opposite way, Le Havre would currently be occupying second.

Pondering such ‘what ifs’ is time wasted, however, and Le Havre looks to have plenty to go to bat with this summer, first and foremost the stoutly bred Commes herself, who trainer Jean-Claude Rouget “without hesitation” committed to the G1 Prix de Diane in the immediate aftermath of the Pouliches. Le Havre also has a pair of live contenders for the June 2 G1 Prix du Jockey Club in the last-out G2 Prix Greffulhe victor Roman Candle (GB) and Motamarris (Ire). The unbeaten Motamarris is 10-1 for the Chantilly Classic despite never having run in a stakes race, so impressive was his eight-length conditions win over the French Derby course and distance on May 11.

Le Havre has sired nine stakes winners thus far in 2019, equal to Galileo and, remarkably, already exceeding his 2018 total of six. And while such trends in stallion performance can sometimes be difficult to quantify, Le Havre’s ascension could be attributed to the fact that this year’s 3-year-olds are his first bred on a five-figure fee.

Le Havre, a son of the nondescript Noverre and out of Marie Rheinberg (Ger) (Sukaro {Ger}), an unraced half-sister to Pivotal (GB)’s sire-and Group 1-winning sprinter–Polar Falcon (Nureyev), was a €100,000 yearling and one of the first horses purchased by Gerard Augustin-Normand-who named the colt after his hometown–when he began to seriously invest in yearlings in 2007. Noverre, a sharp 2-year-old who trained on to be placed in some of Europe’s best mile races, was sold to India by Darley while his first crop was three, just months after Le Havre had passed through the ring at Arqana. Noverre did in fact go on to make an impact with his few crops left behind in Europe; Le Havre, with his Prix du Jockey Club win, was the stallion’s first top-level winner, and his next crop contained three: the Falmouth winner Music Show (Ire), Beverly D. victress I’m A Dreamer (Ire) and G1 Prix de Diane winner Enora (Ger). Noverre has also done respectfully as a broodmare sire, having sired the dams of Group 1 winners Dylan Mouth (Ire) and Under the Louvre (Aus) as well as last year’s G2 Prix Royallieu winner Princess Yaiza (Ire).

But, back to Le Havre. The dark bay made a promising start to his racing career at two, winning at first asking in August at Clairefontaine before adding a Saint-Cloud conditions race. He was seventh, albeit beaten just 2 3/4 lengths, in the G1 Criterium International to round out the season. After starting out at three with a win in the Listed Prix Djebel, Le Havre was second in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains after a luckless trip before redeeming himself in the Jockey Club. Sadly, a tendon injury just weeks later put halt to the ascendant colt’s racing career, and he retired prematurely to Haras le Cauviniere (now Haras de Montfort & Preaux), becoming the foundation stallion there, in 2010 for a fee of €5,000.

Le Havre’s first-crop 2-year-olds in 2013 numbered 99 foals and yielded 41 runners, 14 of which won headed by the listed-winning La Hoguette (Fr), bred and raced as many of the sire’s good ones have been by Augustin-Normand and trained by Rouget. The promising start warranted a small fee raise up to €7,000, but it was another winner from that first bunch, Avenir Certain (Fr), that would send Le Havre into the stratosphere in 2014 by completing the Pouliches/Diane double. The G2 Prix du Chaudenay and G3 Prix de Lutece wins of Auvray (Fr) added further clout, and Le Havre was priced at €20,000 for 2015.

Avenir Certain’s Classic double was remarkably repeated just two years later by another daughter of Le Havre, La Cressonniere (Fr). Another standout from 2016 was the G3 Prix Vanteaux winner Zghorta Dance (Fr), who was bought by Al Shaqab Racing for €550,000 at Arqana December last year as part of the Isaam Fares dispersal.

Le Havre maintained a career-high €60,000 fee in 2017-the year his first-crop son Suedois (Fr) won the GI Shadwell Turf Mile–and 2018 and while he has dipped down to €45,000, if he keeps up his current momentum he’ll be hitting new heights before long. And Le Havre’s success in 2019 has not been restricted to France: his leading earner this year is Rymska (Fr), who broke her maiden and won in listed company in her country of birth in 2016 before being sold and transferred to trainer Chad Brown, for whom she has now won four graded stakes, including the GII Hillsborough S. in March. She was most recently second to Rushing Fall (More Than Ready) in the GI Jenny Wiley S. at Keeneland in April.

Le Havre also has a significant flagbearer in Japan, the 3-year-old filly Pourville (Jpn). Pourville was foaled in Japan after Teruya Yoshida purchased her dam Kenhope (Fr)-incidentally by another homegrown French stallion in Kendargent-and she was deemed good enough to contest the G1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) after winning the G2 Hochi Hai Fillies’ Revue in March. Pourville was not disgraced in the Oka Sho, finishing sixth and beaten four lengths, and the margin was the same when she checked in 12th in the May 5 G1 NHK Mile Cup against older horses. Pourville’s year-to-date earnings of $410,649 are not included in the aforementioned TDN sire list, which is restricted to European and North American earnings.

Le Havre’s Normandel (Fr), a listed winner in France at three, took the G3 Park Express S. at Naas on Mar. 24 and the sire’s five group winners thus far in 2019 are completed by the G3 Prix Vanteaux victress Platane (Fr). He also had a listed winner in Italy on Saturday.

There should be plenty to look forward to when Le Havre’s latest 2-year-olds, bred on a €35,000 fee, beginning hitting the racetracks, and he was well enough in demand in the sales rings last year. His yearlings offered were led by a 850,000gns filly at Tattersalls October and also included a €360,000 filly at Orby and a €240,000 filly at Arqana August. He could have another stakes representative in Japan too after Paca Paca Farm spent 200,000gns on a colt foal at Tattersalls December. Perhaps buoyed by the success of Rymska, America’s Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners took home a Le Havre filly from Orby for €160,000. This year’s yearlings and foals by Le Havre were bred on a €60,000 fee, so this is likely not the last we’ll be seeing of the sire in the headlines.

While Le Havre is the leading flagbearer among the French stallion ranks this year, he isn’t the only one. Haras de Bonneval’s Siyouni (Fr), who stands for €100,000 for the first time this year, leap-frogged over compatriot Kendargent (Fr) to grab seventh on the sires’ stable after his five-time Group 1 winner Laurens (Fr) resumed with a second in the G1 Lockinge S. on Saturday. The country’s true rags to riches stallion, Kendargent, has three stakes winners in 2019 headed by last week’s G3 Ormonde S. winner Morando (Fr) and Godolphin’s G3 Prix Exbury winner Soleil Marin (Ire).

While Kingman is the runaway leader of the second-crop sires year-to-date, the winners just keep coming in for Haras de Bouquetot’s Olympic Glory (Ire) and Toronado (Ire), who sit third and fourth by earnings. The latter actually leads his sire crop this year by winners with 24, while Olympic Glory is on 15.

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Op/Ed: Deserving Preakness Win for a Classy Bunch

Sat, 2019-05-18 21:04

When the horses crossed the wire in the GI Kentucky Derby, trainer Mark Casse, owner Gary Barber and jockey Tyler Gaffalione knew they had been the victim of bad luck. War of Will (War Front) lost all chance when Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) crashed into him. He wound up crossing the wire eighth.

In the immediate aftermath of the race, Casse, Barber and Gaffalione probably figured this would be a situation where they could simply move on, regroup and hope for a better result next time with their colt.

They couldn’t have known that they’d find themselves in the middle of a circus. Controversy. Lawsuits. A media firestorm. A $20-million challenge race that will never happen. Accusations that their horse, who was mugged in the Derby, was actually the mugger.

Gary West, the owner of Maximum Security, who crossed the wire first in the Derby only to be disqualified for bothering War of Will, was understandably upset that racing’s greatest prize was snatched away from him. But he just couldn’t let it go, with the situation hitting its most bizarre moment when West somehow came up with the theory that it was War of Will who caused all the problems in the Derby and not Maximum Security. Never mind that the Churchill Downs stewards unanimously agreed that Maximum Security prompted the collision and every photo and video tape out there conclusively backed up their opinion.

Barber chose to stick up for his horse, issuing a statement that read, in part: “It has recently been brought to my attention that Mr. Gary West stated on Fox News that my horse War of Will caused the infraction in the Derby. I categorically deny this false accusation. The video evidence irrefutably shows that his horse, Maximum Security, caused a major infraction that almost led to a catastrophe and in doing so, denied my horse and others of a better placing.”

It was a reasonable reaction to an unreasonable accusation.

Casse never took any of the bait. He just kept repeating how fortunate he felt that War of Will was not seriously hurt and that the Derby pileup didn’t cause a calamity on the racetrack, the last thing the sport needed after all that had gone wrong at Santa Anita.

For his part, Gaffalione kept his mouth shut and went back to work.

West and his trainer, Jason Servis, chose to sit out the GI Preakness. But the War of Will team didn’t. They wanted to give their a horse a chance to show what he could do if able to run a trouble-free race. Now we know what he’s capable of: winning a Classic.

This time, it was a cleanly run race and the best horse won. Getting a perfect ground-saving trip under Gaffalione, War of Will spurted through a hole on the rail near the top of the stretch, pulled ahead of the rest and hung on to outlast longshot Everfast (Take Charge Indy). The 144th Preakness was theirs.

Barber, the former chairman and CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, was not at the race as he was attending the Cannes Film Festival in France. So it was left to Casse to do the talking for the team and the horse. He had every right to crow or gloat or tell West that his momma wears army boots. Instead, he once again chose the high road.

“It wasn’t about revenge,” he said. “I didn’t feel he got his shot in the Derby. Any trainer, when they take their horse anywhere, it doesn’t matter what kind of race, you just want them to have a fair chance. You want them to show their true ability and he never got that.”

When asked how he reacted to the brouhaha, he replied: “I was fine. I was absolutely fine because I thought I was lucky. I thought I was the luckiest guy. The only thing luckier was horse racing because we were this close to never seeing him again.”

War of Will finished 4 1/4 lengths behind Maximum Security in the Derby and I wrote that I didn’t believe the foul cost him the race. He would have been beaten by fewer lengths and might have been third or even second. Now the War of Will team has earned the right to argue that point.

Horse for horse, I’d still take Maximum Security. The field he faced in the Derby was far superior to the one War of Will beat in the Preakness. But if the stars align, the two will meet again. Casse said War of Will will likely run in the GI Belmont. Neither West nor Servis had said much of anything about where they will run their horse next, other than to say the GI Haskell at their home track, Monmouth Park, is a goal. It looks like they are the two best 3-year-olds out there and, considering all that has transpired from Derby Day to the present, it would be fascinating to see them meet up and meet up in a cleanly run race.

But on the third Saturday in May, the day, the story, the race all belonged to War of Will. Casse said the win wasn’t about redemption, but it was. They proved just how good their horse is and that sometimes nice guys do finish first.


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War of Will Gets the Trip, Redemption in Preakness Win

Sat, 2019-05-18 19:23

BALTIMORE, MD–Two weeks ago at Churchill Downs, Gary Barber’s War of Will (War Front) drew the rail and rode that fence all the way into menacing contention on the waning strides of the far turn run. But when jockey Tyler Gaffalione tried to find a seam to let his horse run to GI Kentucky Derby glory, there was none there, as has been rehashed extensively in the time since the race’s controversial disqualification. Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in the GI Preakness S., the hulking bay had a nearly identical journey after pulling the one-hole again. The only difference–besides the weather–was the sea parted this time, and War of Will took advantage, running away in the stretch and holding sway late to give sweet redemption to his connections, particularly the 24-year-old Gaffalione, riding in his first Preakness. It was also a first American Classic success for trainer Mark Casse.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” Gaffalione said in the race’s aftermath. “I can’t even put it into words. I can’t thank my family enough for all the support. He’s got so much heart. We always knew he had the ability, we just had to get a little bit lucky and today was our day.”

In front of a crowd of 131,256 that enjoyed perfect conditions with temperatures in the mid-70s and a light breeze, the 144th Preakness got off to an eventful start when longshot Bodexpress (Bodemeister) reared up at the start and lost jockey John Velazquez, who quickly got up and walked off the track. War of Will took a slight stumble a stride out of the gate, but quickly asserted his speed before deferring to let Warrior’s Charge (Munnings) go on with it early. Sticking to the fence in the garden spot, a pocketed fourth, behind sharp fractions of :22.50 and :46.16, War of Will was more settled than in the sloppy-track Derby, when he was tossing his head around noticeably.

Inching a bit closer to the front-runner as three-quarters went up in 1:10.56, Gaffalione stayed patient with a handful of horse until giving his colt some light coaxing just inside the five-sixteenths pole. Soon after, Warrior’s Charge drifted out one path and Gaffalione seized the opportunity, pushing War of Will through the opening three-sixteenths out. Kicking clear past the eighth pole as Warrior’s Charge began to falter, he remained in charge from there and hit the wire a comfortable 1 1/4 lengths to the good. Everfast (Take Charge Indy), the second-longest shot on the board at 29-1, finished with a flourish along that same rail to edge Owendale (Into Mischief) for second money in a head bob, while Warrior’s Charge held on for fourth. Race favorite and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Improbable (City Zip) acted up in the gate and never fired, checking in sixth at 5-2.

“It’s sweet,” said Casse. “I’ve been following horse racing since I was five and the Preakness has always been so big to me. There was so much written, so much said, our horse wasn’t going to win [the Derby], and I felt bad for him and felt very bad for Gary Barber. I just wanted a fair shot. I was extremely proud. A lot of people asked, ‘Is this revenge?’ No. I just wanted to win.”

Barber was in France for the Cannes Film Festival and unable to attend the race, but entrusted Casse with getting War of Will ready off of two weeks’ rest after the top four finishers across the wire in the Derby passed on running.

“Anybody that knows me or follows my training knows I’m aggressive and I’m not afraid to take chances,” Casse said. “Personally, I don’t think [running in the Preakness after the Derby] is done enough. I think too many times trainers are too worried about their win percentages. We’re not afraid to run them.”

In addition to getting through the hole that didn’t materialize in the Derby, Gaffalione credited War of Will’s ability to remain calm during the race as a determining factor in the Preakness’s differing result.

“He relaxed more than usual today. That was the key,” he said. “We warmed him up to do so. Mark said, ‘Just jog him today, let him walk, try to keep him as calm as possible’ and it worked out. We just followed Warrior’s Charge the whole way around there. He came off the fence going into the turn, and I thought about waiting to go outside him, but he kept going out, out, out. So I took my shot and went through there. The horse didn’t hesitate and he finished the job.”

War of Will’s victory came after two weeks of back-and-forth in the media about the disqualification of Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) in the Derby, who at one point tangled legs with the Preakness winner. Some, including Maximum Security’s owner Gary West, pinned the blame on War of Will and Gaffalione for the incident, saying he caused the first contact, which Casse admitted didn’t sit well with him after he initially was grateful that all the Derby horses came back in one piece.

“Honestly, right after the Derby, it’s hard to believe, but I felt joy and relief that he was okay and that we didn’t have the worst disaster in horse racing history,” he said. “I was good the next day. It didn’t start until about Tuesday, and Tuesday there was a remark that somebody made that it was Tyler’s fault. That got me pretty fired up. And then I read where they were blaming War of Will. I then became not quite as nice, and I was irritated. I said other words that I later regretted because they put them in headlines. But I handled it. My mom called me Thursday in tears, and she goes, ‘Are you okay? Are you okay?’ I said, ‘Mom, I’m great, don’t worry about me, I can handle this.'”

Gaffalione didn’t bite when asked if this win felt particularly redemptive for him after all the discussion of the past two weeks.

“We were just focused on getting the horse to the winner’s circle. That’s the main thing. And his safety of course,” he said. “But it wasn’t anything to do with redemption or trying to prove something. It was just, the horse deserved it. He’s a talented horse, and we’re just very thankful he was able to prove that today.”

War of Will, a €250,000 purchase as an Arqana May 2-year-old, went winless in his first four starts, but the company he kept showed Casse’s confidence. He ran second in the GI Summer S., then fourth in the GIII Dixiana Bourbon S. and fifth in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Casse and Gaffalione reflected on last summer at Saratoga, when eyes were focused on another Gary Barber runner, the popular Wonder Gadot (Medaglia d’Oro).

“Everybody would come by the barn to see Wonder Gadot. And I would say, ‘Do you want to see a really, really good horse?'” Casse said. “And I brought him out and I would show him. That’s when we started calling him ‘Wow’. A lot of people said, ‘Why are you so excited?’ And Derby week he breezed, and everybody was like, ‘Wow’, and I’m like, ‘Now you know what I’ve been seeing.'”

“I’ll add more about that,” Gaffalione said. “When Wonder Gadot was going for the Travers, there was talk that I might be able to ride her, and when they made the decision to ride Irad Ortiz, Mark told my agent, ‘Don’t worry, we have another one just as good.'”

War of Will broke his maiden fifth out in the Churchill slop Nov. 24, then reeled off impressive tallies in the GIII Lecomte S. and GII Risen Star S. before losing his hind action in the opening strides of the GII Lousiana Derby and finishing ninth at 4-5. He battled to deep stretch in the Derby, but faded late to finish eighth, later elevated to seventh with Maximum Security’s DQ.

With the first two legs of the Triple Crown now in the rearview, Casse said his intention is to run his colt in the June 8 GI Belmont S. as well.

“You know us, we like to run,” he said. “We’ll probably be at Belmont. He’ll go back to Keeneland, we’ll see how he acts, and if all goes well, we’ll probably send him up maybe 10 days before [the] Belmont. But that’s a big question. Gary Barber is a very, very hands-on owner, extremely, extremely smart and a very good horse person. So there will be lots of conversations.”

Pedigree Notes:

War of Will is the 21st Grade/Group I winner for super-sire War Front and his first in a Triple Crown event. He is the ninth foal to race out of the Sadler’s Wells mare Visions of Clarity and a half-brother to Irish highweight and G1SW Pathfork (Distorted Humor)–a stallion in South Africa–as well as the late MSW marathoner Tacticus. Visions of Clarity was a SW in France and is a half-sister to Spinning World (Nureyev), a five-time GISW who captured the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile in 1997. She is responsible for a juvenile colt by Tapit who went for $130,000 as a Fasig-Tipton October yearling and sells through Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables Inc., agent, as hip 575 at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic this coming Tuesday (under-tack breeze), and was bred to American Pharoah last spring. Second dam Imperfect Circle is a G1SP half-sister to MG1SW Chimes of Freedom (Private Account), who in turn produced MGISW Aldebaran (Mr. Prospector) and GISW Good Journey (Nureyev), as well as MGISW Denon (Pleasant Colony).

Saturday, Pimlico
PREAKNESS S.-GI, $1,650,000, Pimlico, 5-18, 3yo, 1 3/16m, 1:54.34, ft.
1–WAR OF WILL, 126, c, 3, by War Front
1st Dam: Visions of Clarity (Ire) (SW-Fr), by Sadler’s Wells
2nd Dam: Imperfect Circle, by Riverman
3rd Dam: Aviance (Ire), by Northfields
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($175,000 RNA Ylg ’17 KEESEP; €250,000
2yo ’18 ARQMAY). O-Gary Barber; B-Flaxman Holdings Limited
(KY); T-Mark E. Casse; J-Tyler Gaffalione. $990,000. Lifetime
Record: 10-4-1-1, $1,491,569. *1/2 to Pathfork (Distorted
Humor), G1SW-Ire, $237,521. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple
Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Everfast, 126, c, 3, Take Charge Indy–Awesome Surprise, by
Awesome Again. ($47,000 Ylg ’17 KEEJAN). O-Calumet Farm;
B-Extern Developments (KY); T-Dale L. Romans. $330,000.
3–Owendale, 126, c, 3, Into Mischief–Aspen Light, by
Bernardini. ($200,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O-Rupp Racing;
B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY); T-Brad H. Cox.
Margins: 1 1/4, NO, 1 1/4. Odds: 6.10, 29.30, 7.90.
Also Ran: Warrior’s Charge, Laughing Fox, Improbable, Win Win Win, Bourbon War, Signalman, Anothertwistafate, Alwaysmining, Market King, Bodexpress. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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English Channel Half Sis to Derby Winner Makes the Grade on Preakness Day

Sat, 2019-05-18 16:23

Mitchell Road (English Channel) was already worth a considerable amount of money entering Saturday’s GIII Gallorette S., but her value increased exponentially, as the year-older half-sister to promoted GI Kentucky Derby hero Country House (Lookin At Lucky), was given a perfectly rated ride from the front by Joel Rosario and proved easily best for a first graded-stakes victory.

A half-step slow to begin, Mitchell Road was hustled along and was able to secure the lead with relative ease prior to passing under the wire for the first time as Dynatail (Hightail) pressed to the outside. Racing a touch freely through an opening quarter mile in :23.28, Mitchell Road settled a bit better in the middle stages, with an internal couple of furlongs in :23.79, as positions behind her remained unchanged. Racing ears-pricked into the final 3 1/2 furlongs, Mitchell Road drifted out ever so slightly off the home corner, but she responded gamely to a right-handed stick in upper stretch and then vigorous hand riding in the final furlong to win as much the best. Thewayiam (Fr) (Thewayyouare) rallied up the fence for second ahead of Viva Vegas (The Factor), who charged down the center of the course for third.

“She’s never been out of the exacta and she’s developed into a very nice filly,” said assistant trainer Riley Mott. “She got a little bit sick after her race at the Fair Grounds, and needed a little time to recuperate, which is why you’re only seeing her now at Pimlico. She always trains very forwardly, very willingly and she surely ran well today. She gave her little brother [Country House] a big update there.”

Mott said the GI Just A Game S. on the Belmont S. undercard could be next for Mitchell Road, who graduated in her sophomore debut at Gulfstream before going missing off an allowance second in Hallandale Beach in March. She had run the table since, resuming with an Aqueduct allowance tally Dec. 7 and another at Gulfstream Jan. 18 ahead of a defeat of recent GII Distaff Turf Mile winner Beau Recall (Ire) (Sir Prancealot {Ire}) in the Stall Memorial S. at the Fair Grounds Feb. 16.

Pedigree Notes:

Like Country House a paternal son of Smart Strike and like Lookin At Lucky descending from a Danzig female line, Mitchell Road is out of a daughter of turf GISP Shooting Party (Sky Classic), whose son, the GSW & MGISP Breaking Lucky (Lookin At Lucky), was an overachiever, many times at longshot odds. The late Joe Shields, Jr. bought out co-breeder Robert Clay when paying $47,000 for Quake Lake at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling purchase. The mare, who was bought back for $25,000 when carrying Mitchell Road at Keeneland November in 2014, died in 2016. Mitchell Road is the 21st graded winner for English Channel.

Saturday, Pimlico
GALLORETTE S.-GIII, $150,000, Pimlico, 5-18, 3yo/up, f/m,
1 1/16mT, 1:41.21, fm.
1–MITCHELL ROAD, 122, f, 4, by English Channel
 1st Dam: Quake Lake, by War Chant
 2nd Dam: Shooting Party, by Sky Classic
 3rd Dam: Ayanka, by Jade Hunter
1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. O-Mrs. J. V. Shields, Jr. & E. J. M.
McFadden, Jr.; B-J. V. Shields (KY); T-William I. Mott; J-Joel
Rosario. $90,000. Lifetime Record: 7-5-2-0, $244,570.
*1/2 to Country House (Lookin At Lucky), GISW, $2,120,175.
Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Thewayiam (Fr), 122, f, 4, Thewayyouare–Water Feature
(GB), by Dansili (GB). (€17,000 Ylg ’16 AROYRG). O-Dubb, Great
Point Stables LLC, The Elkstone Group, LLC (Stuart Grant), Al
Shahania Stud America LLC & Bethlehem Stables LLC; B-S.C.A.
La Perrigne (FR); T-H. Graham Motion. $30,000.
3–Viva Vegas, 122, m, 5, The Factor–Viva Vega, by Cobra King.
($190,000 Ylg ’15 OBSWIN; $180,000 4yo ’18 KEENOV).
O-Merriebelle Stable LLC; B-Summer Grove Farm, LLC & Terry
Gabriel (LA); T-Ignacio Correas, IV. $15,000.
Margins: 2 1/4, HF, 3/4. Odds: 2.10, 6.10, 7.50.
Also Ran: I’m So Fancy (Ire), Dynatail, Inflexibility, Barkaa (Fr), In the Lee. Scratched: Hogans Holiday. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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‘Omaha’ Return to California On Hold

Sat, 2019-05-18 15:23

Omaha Beach (War Front), the would-be favorite in the GI Kentucky Derby who was scratched with an entrapped epiglottis three days before the race, will have his return to California delayed. The son of the immaculately bred Charming (Seeking the Gold) underwent surgery at Rood and Riddle May 3, but is not quite ready to head back to the Richard Mandella barn at Santa Anita.

“He’s still at WinStar Farm in Kentucky, but he’s not quite healed up yet,” the Hall of Fame trainer said Saturday morning. “He’ll be on a plane to California but we don’t have a schedule to know when that is.

“It shouldn’t be too long, perhaps a week or so. He is healing from the procedure, but it’s just not healed enough yet to ship him right now.”


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Tacitus Works Towards Belmont

Sat, 2019-05-18 15:16

Juddmonte Farms’s Tacitus (Tapit), who rallied from 16th to cross the line fourth before being promoted to third in the GI Kentucky Derby May 4, returned to the worktab Saturday morning as he begins preparations for an appearance in the GI Belmont S. June 9.

Under the watchful eye of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, the gray son of champion Close Hatches (Unbridled’s Song) breezed a half-mile in :48.57 just after 6 a.m. in the company of 2017 GIII Illinois Derby winner Multiplier (The Factor) over the Belmont main track (XBTV video). He covered the opening quarter-mile in :24.3 and galloped out five panels in 1:01.44 as he edged away from his workmate.

“It all went smoothly. It was his first breeze back and exactly what we wanted,” said Mott. “It’s what I expected. They look like a good team together.”

The conditioner said that Derby winner and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Country House (Lookin At Lucky) has been tack-walking since returning to Churchill this past Wednesday following an examination at Rood and Riddle in Lexington.

“I’ll leave him there for a couple weeks. I want to make sure that he’s healthy before we move him and make sure everything is good as it should be,” said Mott.


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