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Updated: 7 hours 59 min ago

Flatter’s West Coast Grabs 3-Year-Old Champion Male Honors off Strong Second Half

Thu, 2018-01-25 22:37

Gary and Mary West’s West Coast (Flatter–Caressing, by Honour and Glory) has been named champion 3-year-old male during the Eclipse Award Ceremony at Gulfstream Park. The bay colt captured this year’s GI Travers S. and GI Pennsylvania Derby and was third in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Champion 3-Year-Old Filly is Quality Road’s Abel Tasman

Thu, 2018-01-25 22:32

China Horse Club International and Clearsky Farms’ Abel Tasman (Quality Road–Vargas Girl, by Deputy Minister), winner of the GI Kentucky Oaks, has been named champion 3-year-old filly at the Eclipse Award Ceremony at Gulfstream Park. The bay filly also won the GI Acorn S. and GI Coaching Club American Oaks and was second in the GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Candy Ride’s Gun Runner is Champion Older Dirt Male

Thu, 2018-01-25 22:13

GI Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}–Quiet Giant, by Giant’s Causeway) has been named Eclipse champion older male. The chestnut’s 2017 victories also included the GI Whitney S., GI Woodward S. and GI Stephen Foster H. Campaigned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, Gun Runner is expected to complete his racing career in Saturday’s GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

Unbridled’s Song’s Forever Unbridled Named Champion Older Dirt Female

Thu, 2018-01-25 22:10

GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Forever Unbridled (Unbridled’s Song–Lemons Forever, by Lemon Drop Kid) has been named Eclipse champion older female in ceremonies at Gulfstream Park. The Charles Fipke homebred also won the GI Personal Ensign S. and GII Fleur de Lis H. during a perfect season in 2017.

Trainer Chad Brown Doubles Up at Eclipse Awards

Thu, 2018-01-25 21:39

Chad Brown has earned his second straight Eclipse championship as leading trainer during ceremonies at Gulfstream Park Thursday. The New York native led all trainers by sending out the winners of 16 Grade I events in 2017, including Lady Eli (Divine Park), Paulassilverlining (Ghostzapper), Good Magic (Curlin) and Rushing Fall (More Than Ready).

Northern Afleet’s World Approval ‘Eclipses’ His Turf Male Rivals

Thu, 2018-01-25 21:22

Live Oak Plantation’s World Approval (Northern Afleet–Win Approval, by With Approval) has been named Eclipse champion male turf horse during ceremonies at Gulfstream Park. The gray gelding ended his championship season with a win in the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile. World Approval was also winner of last year’s GI Woodbine Mile and GI Fourstardave H.

Divine Park’s Valiant Lady Eli Gets Her Eclipse

Thu, 2018-01-25 21:14

Fan favorite Lady Eli (Divine Park–Sacre Coeur, by Saint Ballado) was crowned Eclipse champion female turf horse at Gulfstream Park Thursday evening. The dark bay won the GI Gamely S. and GI Diana S. in 2017. The laminitis survivor was recently retired and will be bred to War Front.

Juddmonte Gets Back-to-Back Outstanding Owner Awards

Thu, 2018-01-25 20:37

Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms earned its second straight Eclipse championship as leading owner Thursday evening at Gulfstream Park. Juddmonte, which campaigned G1 Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song), as well as Paulassilverlining (Ghostzapper), also won the award in 2003 and 1992.

Cleary Family’s Clearsky Farm Gets Top Breeder Eclipse

Thu, 2018-01-25 20:29

The Cleary family’s Clearsky Farms has been named Eclipse champion breeder of 2017 at ceremonies at Gulfstream Park Thursday. The boutique operation, begun by the late Eamon Cleary and now run by his sons Bernard and Eamonn, bred champion Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song), and is breeder and co-owner of last year’s GI Kentucky Oaks heroine Abel Tasman (Quality Road).

More Than Ready’s Roy H Gets Top Sprinter Nod

Thu, 2018-01-25 20:21

Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen’s Roy H (More Than Ready–Elusive Diva, by Elusive Quality) has been named Eclipse champion sprinter during ceremonies at Gulfstream Park. The bay gelding capped his 2017 season with a win in the GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He also captured the GI Santa Anita Sprint Championship and the GII True North S. and was second in the GI Bing Crosby S.

Tapit’s Unique Bella Named Champion Female Sprinter

Thu, 2018-01-25 20:18

Don Alberto Stable’s Unique Bella (Tapit–Unrivaled Belle, by Unbridled’s Song) has been named champion female sprinter at the Eclipse Award ceremony at Gulfstream Park. The gray filly ended 2017 with a win in the GI La Brea S. She also won the GII Santa Ynez S. and GII Las Virgenes S.

Heiligbrodt Strikes Again at OBS

Wed, 2018-01-24 19:13

Under the banner of his East Hickman Racing, owner William Heiligbrodt purchased the two top-priced offerings at the 2017 OBS Winter Mixed Sale, going to $110,000 for a daughter of Shanghai Bobby–Yankee Victoria (Yankee Victor) and $90,000 for an Into Mischief filly out of Maren’s Melody (Unbridled’s Song). The Texan was forced to go a little deeper, but succeeded in landing the priciest lot during Wednesday’s renewal of the sale, going to $200,000 through agent Susan Montanye for hip 30, a filly from the third crop by boom sire Violence from the consignment of Gem Racing Inc.

Despite a preferred portion of the catalogue that was about a third larger than last year, the turnover of $3,567,000 was well more than double that of 2017, while the average of $24,772 and median price of $14,000 represented strong gains of 42.1% and 40%, respectively.

“I thought the went very well,” said OBS’s Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski. “I’ve always said that when our consignors bring us good stock, the buyers reward them and that’s how it played out today. There was good activity at all levels. We saw a rise in the median and that’s a good thing.”

One especially pleasing statistic was the buyback rate of 31.1%, which compared very favorably to last year’s 43.5%. “There’s a liveliness to the stock market and the economy and I thought the quality of horses was higher,” Wojciechowski reasoned.

Lot 30 was bred in Florida by Georg and Sharon Maharg’s Maharg Management from the mare Carphonic (Lion Heart), winner during her racing days of the 2009 Joe O’Farrell Juvenile Fillies for trainer William White and Gem Racing Inc, who consigned Wednesday’s top lot. Lot 30 is the second foal from the mare, whose now 3-year-old daughter Sauce On Side (Violence) broke her maiden at Santa Anita Jan. 5 and was runner-up in her first start against winners 15 days later. Montanye, who operates SBM Training and Sales, had a high opinion of the March foal from the start.

“I went through and gave [Mr. Heiligbrodt] a list of my top five horses and we evaluated all of them, went over the notes and at the end of the day she was my top pick of the sale,” Montanye commented. “She’s a big strong filly with very good bone, a great walk and a very good mind. She’s extremely well built, she had all the right angles to her and I loved everything about her. She is the kind that looks like she could go very fast, but at the same time, it looks like she’ll stretch out and go long. She looks like an Oaks-type filly.”

The Winter Mixed Sale was off to a fast start when hip 5, a filly by More Than Ready, fetched $170,000 from de Meric Sales, and with that in mind, Montanye knew that the horse that she had assessed to be superior to that filly would not come cheaply.

“I thought this filly was going to definitely be the top horse in the sale,” she said. “The More Than Ready was a beautiful filly as well, and when we saw what she made and comparing the two horses, we thought we might have to stretch a little.”

Montanye said her purchased would be sent to the farm “to be a horse again” and that a decision about her future will come at a later date.

Carrie Brogden elected to retain hip 5 when she was led out unsold on a bid of $55,000 at the Keeneland November sale two months ago, and the decision was validated Wednesday.

“She grew a lot [over the last two months],” Brogden said. “We sent her to Michelle Redding and she just blossomed, she really grew up. When I saw her when I got here, I was blown away with how much she improved. We’ve had a lot of luck with the de Merics. We’re thrilled, the reserve was very low, but she had 12 scopes and she was very well received.”

Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck’s Summerfield agency consigned the session’s top broodmare in the form of hip 21, the 9-year-old Hard Hat (Hard Spun), who was purchased by Gainesway for $62,000. A half-sister to Grade I winner Albert the Great (Go For Gin), the bay was offered in foal to Broken Vow, the sire of the mare’s 2015 produce–a filly–who realized $145,000 as a weanling at that year’s Keeneland November sale. Hard Hat’s current 4-year-old daughter Honey Jade (Harlan’s Holiday) is now a three-time winner from five starts on the dirt in Japan, including an impressive last-to-first victory at Kyoto Jan. 8. Among the underbidders on hip 21 was Chris Knehr’s Catalyst Bloodstock, which sold Hard Hat carrying the aforementioned Broken Vow filly ($60,000 ’14 KEENOV) and Honey Jade as a yearling at FTKJUL in 2015.

Trainer Eddie Plesa paid $110,000 for the 3-year-old filly Bring Joy (Twirling Candy) to top the horses-of-racing-age section of the Winter Mixed Sale. The former $100,000 Keeneland September yearling, a half-sister to SW Courtside (Cindago), was consigned by Eisaman Equine, agent, and worked three-eighths of a mile in :32 4/5 during an under-tack preview Jan. 22.

The Winter Mixed Sale continues with an open session Thursday beginning at 10:30 a.m. For full results visit www.obssales.com.

Bolt d’Oro, Good Magic Top TJC Juvenile Rankings

Wed, 2018-01-24 17:09

Multiple Grade I winner Bolt d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro) and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic (Curlin), both finalists for Eclipse champion 2-year-old honors, were ranked co-toppers of The Jockey Club’s 2017 annual Top 2-Year-Old Rankings. The rankings were formerly known as the Experimental Free Handicap.

Both colts were listed at 126 pounds, three pounds ahead of GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy). GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filles winner Caledonia Road (Quality Road) was the top-rated filly on the list at 123 pounds.

The Jockey Club’s annual Top 2-Year-Old Rankings are a weight-based assessment of the previous year’s leading 2-year-olds, with the weights compiled for a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 miles. All 2-year-olds of 2017 who started in graded or listed stakes races run in the United States and Canada are eligible to be weighted.

The racing secretaries on the weighting committee were P.J. Campo of the Stronach Group, Ben Huffman of Churchill Downs and Keeneland, Steve Lym of Woodbine Entertainment, Martin Panza of The New York Racing Association Inc., and Thomas S. Robbins of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Kentucky-foaled juveniles outranked all other states and provinces with 149 weighted males and 132 fillies; Florida was second with 18 males and 18 fillies. Ireland led foaling countries outside of North America with 16 fillies and nine males. Scat Daddy was the leading sire of weighted males with six and Malibu Moon led fillies with five.

The complete rankings can been on the resource section of The Jockey Club’s website.

Gun Runner Draws Ten in Pegasus

Wed, 2018-01-24 15:33

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.–As the pills were pulled at Gulfstream Park’s GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational draw Wednesday morning and more and more spots were filled without the name of prohibitive favorite and GI Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) appearing next to a number, the tension built. Only stalls one, ten and 11 were unspoken for when the chestnut’s name was finally called, and he was slotted in the best possible outcome of that trio when drawing ten—more comfortable than the rail, but still wide enough to cause some agita for his connections Saturday.

“You never know to complain about a post position until after the race is run,” said trainer Steve Asmussen. “Hopefully it’ll work out well. The horse has been training extremely good coming off his best race to date in the Classic. He’s settled in nicely here at Gulfstream and hopefully we’ll have a beautiful day Saturday and he’ll show his best side.”

Gun Runner was forced to pass on the Pegasus last year due to quarantine issues stemming from an equine herpes outbreak at his Fair Grounds base, and Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) captured the inaugural running. After finishing second to that rival in the G1 Dubai World Cup, the rest of the season belonged to the Winchell Thoroughbreds’ colorbearer, as he returned Stateside to capture the GI Stephen Foster H., GI Whitney S., GI Woodward S. and the Classic, a procession certain to earn him a Horse of the Year statuette at Thursday night’s Eclipse Awards. Now, he has one final mountain to climb, in the world’s richest race, before retiring to stud for the spring.

“You weren’t going into Breeders’ Cup week thinking about what was next, that was it,” Asmussen said. “Everybody knew what was on the line as far as Horse of the Year that day and he came through. Then you regroup and come here—are you in the same spot, are you better? Those are to be determined Saturday.”

Gulfstream doesn’t run many races at its full circuit distance of 1 1/8 miles on the dirt, and even rarer is one contested with a full field of 12 horses like the Pegasus. But the limited data available suggests that being marooned in a double-digit post position in two-turn dirt races, where there is a very short run-up to the clubhouse turn, spells trouble. Just from this current meet, posts 10-14 are a combined 1-for-34 in Gulfstream dirt routes through Sunday, while showing a more respectable 8-for-69 record in dirt sprints.

“This is another racetrack for him to run at,” Asmussen said. “The short run to the first turn, the wide draw? He’s been overcoming things his whole life. We heard about, for the six weeks we went out to California, it was always [about] what he hadn’t done. Well, he hasn’t won here and the outside isn’t good, but we get to run Gun Runner, so we’re OK.”

Asmussen also made sure to note that having the presumptive Horse of the Year came due to the willingness of Gun Runner’s owners to race the well-bred colt at four after he scored a potential stallion-making win in the GI Clark H. to close out his sophomore campaign.

“They need to be commended for the sportsmen that they are,” Asmussen said. “Ron Winchell, the Winchell Thoroughbred team, David Fiske, Three Chimneys and Mr. [Goncalo] Torrealba. I’m very appreciative of them allowing us to be in that position, because he was worth a lot of money with his pedigree as a Grade I winner at the end of his 3-year-old year. It was a sportsmanlike decision and they were rewarded.”

Elsewhere in the draw, the Jorge Navarro-trained pair of Sharp Azteca (Freud) and War Story (Northern Afleet) pulled posts four and eight, respectively. Right outside of Sharp Azteca—who was made the distant second choice at 6-1 on the morning behind Gun Runner’s 4-5—is Collected (City Zip), an 8-1 chance who captured the GI Pacific Classic last summer before running a game second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

One place behind him that day was Bob Baffert stablemate West Coast (Flatter), the GI Travers S. winner and likely Champion 3-year-old Male recipient Thursday night. The Gary and Mary West-owned bay will be a bit awkwardly situated in post two while also being quoted at 8-1.

Stellar Wind (Curlin), the champion mare who was thought to be retired after finishing last in the GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff but was instead sent back into training after being purchased by Coolmore for $6 million at Keeneland November, is 30-1 from post three.

Toast of New York (Thewayyouare), the comebacker who has just one start since finishing third in the 2014 Classic, sits at 20-1 and drew the nine-hole, while 2017 Clark winner Seeking the Soul (Perfect Soul {Ire}) will break from stall 11 as a 25-1 proposition.

A Fitting ‘Toast’ for Breeder Ramos

Wed, 2018-01-24 15:27

It has been over six years since Toast of New York (Thewayyouare) left his birthplace at Ashleigh Stud in Paris, Kentucky, and the 7-year-old’s well-documented career has seen him log many frequent flyer miles during trips from continent to continent over the ensuing seasons. From a promising juvenile year in England to a memorable sophomore campaign in the United States to a brief stud career in Qatar, it is easy to forget that the story of ‘Toast’ began in the Bluegrass.

In many ways, Toast of New York’s continual travels place him on similar path to that of his breeder, Jackie Ward Ramos. The matriarch of a family with numerous ties to the Thoroughbred industry, Ramos began breeding horses in England in the 1950s before relocating twice and ultimately establishing Ashleigh Stud in its current form in Kentucky. As Toast of New York approaches his second start off a 37-month layoff in Saturday’s GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the similarities are not lost on Ramos.

“I’ve been at it a long time–he’s like me,” Ramos said with a laugh. “It’s quite exciting. I’m very happy that the horse is back, and according to [trainer] Jamie [Osborne]–who I’ve been talking to–he’s well within himself. Horses do run at that age. I’ve bred a winner of a [Group 1] sprint at York when he was nine.”

Although years have passed since ‘Toast’ was a foal at Ashleigh, Ramos still recalls a few qualities that hinted at his ability from an early age. Ramos received a fortunate break when she obtained his second dam, dual-Grade I winner Claire Marine (Ire), from a long-time client in the twilight of her broodmare career.

“He was always a good foal to deal with,” said Ramos, who owns Ashleigh in conjunction with her husband and former jockey Frank Ramos. “He had a very exceptional walk and was a very good mover. We bred his dam [Claire Soleil {Syncline}]. The grandmother belonged to a client of mine, and won the Beverly D. She was very old when he gave her to me, and it was the second-to-last foal she had.”

At the age of 14, Claire Soleil is still a member of the Ashleigh broodmare band and continues to impress Ramos as a producer.

“I still have the mare,” Ramos said. “She has a yearling filly by Bernardini that’s very nice, and she’s going to go back to Bernardini.”

Ramos has plenty of perspective when it comes to the breeding game, having moved the Ashleigh Stud operation between three countries over the span of 60 years.

“I’ve personally had Ashleigh Stud since 1958 in England,” Ramos explained. “I started there with 25 acres and I bred two top horses there and a number of other winners in England. I got married and went to Ireland, we had Ashleigh Stud going there. And then when we moved there, we bought this property and we’ve been here nearly 30 years.”

Her imprint in the industry remains significant, as granddaughter Pamela Deegan is actively involved in the operation of Ashleigh Stud and launched Oxmoor Sales in 2015.

While Toast of New York’s task of knocking off expected 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) and 10 others Saturday seems like an uphill battle, Ramos suggested that the bay could be able to regain his top form at an advanced age thanks to some old-fashioned training approaches. Jamie Osborne, according to Ramos, is particularly well-suited to handle the challenge.

“I think all these people who come from the jumping game are good trainers.” Ramos said. “They’re very good at keeping horses going. From what I see, Toast of New York looks well within himself.”

In the process of recovering from a recent illness, Ramos said she will be unable to attend the Pegasus, but will be there in spirit to see Toast of New York meet the starter.

“I’d like to be jumping on a plane to go down and see him, but we’ll watch it on television,” she concluded.

 

Wednesday’s Pegasus Track Report

Wed, 2018-01-24 13:39

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – As was the case in 2017 prior to the inaugural GI Pegasus World Cup, Wednesday morning represented a calm before the storm of sorts, with a number of contenders slated to arrive in the ensuing 24 hours. Of the horses already present in Hallandale, race favorite Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) was early to hit the track, galloping under the cover of darkness around 5:30 a.m. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen arrived in town ahead of Thursday evening’s Eclipse Awards, where Gun Runner is expected to be crowned Horse of the Year of 2017.

Others to get their work in prior to sunrise were champion mare Stellar Wind (Curlin), who arrived from trainer Chad Brown’s Palm Meadows base Tuesday, and the hard-knocking veteran War Story (Northern Afleet).

As the sun rose behind a dense layer of clouds, the muggy Florida morning revealed a collection of last minute preparations being made ahead of race day Saturday. At the north end of the track, horses galloped past a newly constructed concert stage, which will play host to performances by rappers Ludacris and Post Malone Saturday (see more from Joe Bianca in Friday’s TDN), while finishing touches were made on The Stronach Group V.I.P. Cabana, a venue built uniquely for Pegasus day. Later in the morning, it would play host to the race’s post position draw.

Back on the track, training resumed after the renovation break with the sun breaking through the clouds. Pegasus contender Sharp Azteca (Freud) was easy to spot donning the bright red bridle customary of Jorge Navarro trainees, galloping an up-tempo circuit of the track soon after it opened. Some familiar faces frequented the track’s frontside, with trainer Ralph Nicks overseeing workouts sporting a Caledonia Road (Quality Road) Breeders’ Cup hat and The Stronach Group CEO Tim Ritvo surveying the property.

The morning wound down with a relatively quiet third training window which included Stronach Stables’ Singing Bullet (Hard Spun), the latest and final addition to the Pegasus field for trainer Dale Romans.

Thursday morning is expected to see an uptick in activity with the arrival of the Bob Baffert-trained pair of West Coast (Flatter) and Collected (City Zip) later in the day Wednesday.

 

Global Stars On Offer At Karaka

Wed, 2018-01-24 12:37

The fact that Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}) is out of a New Zealand-bred mare could be all the motivation buyers need to head to Karaka for New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale Series from Jan. 28 to Feb. 4. The truth, however, which buyers discovered for themselves long ago, is that New Zealand and Karaka itself are a rich source of worldwide Group 1 winners. Karaka graduates to win at the top level this season alone include Mighty Boss (Aus) (Not A Single Doubt {Aus}) and Aloisia (NZ) (Azamour {Ire}), who orchestrated a Karaka sweep when taking the G1 Caulfield Guineas and G1 Thousand Guineas in Australia in October. Other kiwis to fly the flag across the Tasman in the autumn included Group 1 winners Bonneval (NZ) (Makfi {GB}), Gingernuts (NZ) (Iffraaj {GB}) and Jon Snow (NZ) (Iffraaj {GB}). Beauty Generation (NZ) (Road To Rock {Aus}) and Mr Stunning (Aus) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}) advertised the sale on the world stage in Hong Kong in December when taking the G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile and G1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint, respectively. Karaka graduates have won four of the last eight Hong Kong Miles, and when it comes to Australian Group 1 3-year-old races, 25% have been won by New Zealand bred or sold horses over the past five seasons. In addition, 33% of Group 1 filly races in Australia over the past six seasons have been won by Kiwi-bred or sold fillies.

The NZB Yearling Sale Series begins on Sunday with a new format. The Karaka Million Twilight Meeting, headlined by the NZ$1-million Karaka Million for 2-year-olds, will take place Saturday evening, with the sale beginning with an evening session on Sunday that will commence Book 1 (formerly the Premier Sale), which runs through Jan. 31. Book 2, formerly the Select Sale and the source of Group 1 winners Jon Snow and Volkstok’n’barrell (NZ) (Tavistock {NZ}), runs Feb. 1 and 2. Book 3 takes place in a single session on Feb. 4.

I Am Invincible (Aus), sire of the two highest-priced lots at Magic Millions earlier this month and of three of the nine seven-figure lots at that sale, has three catalogued for Karaka. Other leading Australian sires with representation include reigning champion sire Snitzel (Aus), also sire of three millionaires on the Gold Coast. He has four, including a daughter of Group 1 winner Shez Sinsational (NZ) (Ekraar {GB}) (lot 577). Fellow champion sire Fastnet Rock (Aus) has 12 catalogued including a full-brother to Group 1 winner First Seal (Aus) (lot 188) and a daughter of seven-time Group 1 winner and New Zealand Horse of the Year Seachange (NZ) (Cape Cross {Ire}) (lot 561). Australian champion sires Lonhro (Aus) and Redoute’s Choice (Aus) each have one to sell. Written Tycoon (Aus) has three and Sebring (Aus) two. The lone representative for Not A Single Doubt (Aus) is a half-sister to last season’s champion 2-year-old filly Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands {Aus}) (lot 371).

Yearlings by New Zealand’s reigning champion sire Savabeel (Aus) grossed NZ$11.46-million at last year’s Premier sale, and he is represented by 75 yearlings in Book 1 this year, including full siblings to Group 1 winners Costume (Aus) (lot 163) and Brambles (Aus) (lot 493). Iffraaj’s stock will be in high demand after he provided both Gingernuts and Jon Snow last year, and the shuttler has 39 catalogued including a full-sister to multiple Group 1 winner Turn Me Loose (NZ) (lot 272) and a half-sister to Group 1 winner I Am A Star (NZ) (I Am Invincible {Aus}) (lot 619).

Cambridge Stud will offer its final consignment under the ownership of the legendary Sir Patrick Hogan and Lady Justine Hogan before being taken over by new owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay. The current star of the Cambridge stallion roster is Tavistock (NZ), and he has a whopping 96 set to sell across Books 1 and 2. Those include a full-sister to Werther (NZ) (lot 48) and half siblings to Group 1 winners Shamrocker (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}) and Rock Diva (NZ) (Lucky Unicorn) (lot 77), Kermadec (NZ) (Teofilo {Ire}) (lot 261) and Samantha Miss (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}) (lot 382).

Deep Field (Aus), Dissident (Aus) and Charm Spirit (Ire) were the leading first-season sires with three or more sold at Magic Millions, and all three are represented at Karaka. New Zealand-based first-season sires with progeny on offer include the Group 3-winning Proisir (Aus) (Choisir {Aus}), a full-brother to G1 Caulfield Guineas winner Divine Prophet (Aus), and Classic winner Sacred Falls (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}).

At most sales, international visitors draw plenty of interest and excitement, but it is usually the domestic contingent that is responsible for most of the outlay. Last year at Karaka, however, international buyers representing nine countries spent NZ$52-million, 63% of the aggregate. It is likely that a truly international affair, then, is in store for Jan. 28 to Feb. 4 at Karaka.

‘Match’ Proposal Muddies Future of $1.2M Charles Town Classic

Tue, 2018-01-23 16:04

One regulator’s “compromise” can be another track executive’s “nail in the coffin.”

That’s how a vote to impose an unorthodox form of 50/50 “matching” track and purse account funding on the GII Charles Town Classic was portrayed at the Jan. 23 West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC) meeting, which featured an unprecedented standoff over the seemingly routine approval of the $1.2-million signature stakes event at Charles Town Races.

In a carryover agenda item from December that had at first seemed like it would generate little debate and a perfunctory okaying based on past precedent, the WVRC once again on Tuesday took up the issue of whether it would approve Charles Town’s entire 2018 open stakes schedule, which was to be anchored by the Apr. 21 Classic.

At last month’s meeting, the WVRC had to table its approval of Charles Town’s stakes program after first-year commissioner Ken Lowe Jr. said he could not sign off on a seven-figure purse for just a single race. That money, he argued, would better serve West Virginia racing if it was instead spread out over a series of smaller races that might benefit local horsemen, and he had proposed that the WVRC only approve the purse of the Classic at no higher than $300,000.

Charles Town executives, in response, maintained that the Classic has become the calling card for the track since the nine-furlong race for older horses was established in 2009, and that the 8% expenditure from the purse account to fund stakes races has been fully approved as per the negotiated contract with the local Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA). The Classic, they argued, pays dividends in terms of boosted year-round handle and serves as a marketing tool that gets the track noticed on a national level.

When the agenda item came up on Tuesday, WVRC executive director Joe Moore read into the record a survey of other racing commissions he had been asked to compile, stating that “None of those jurisdictions that were surveyed have ever denied a stakes request” so long as local horsemen approved of the purse allocation. He noted the Charles Town HBPA had supplied such a consent letter.

Erich Zimny, Charles Town’s vice president of racing operations, then spoke about the importance of maintaining funding for the Classic at $1.2 million. His halo-effect rationale included the facts that daily per-race handle at the track is up 65% since the Classic was first run in 2009, purses paid to West Virginia-breds have essentially doubled over that same time frame, and that the Classic’s purse has already taken a 20% cut from its $1.5 million peak several years ago.

“It would really be putting a dagger into this industry and this program,” to further educe the Classic’s purse, Zimny said.

Lowe countered with this proposal, which he termed a “compromise” and put into the form of a motion: Charles Town could accept his standing offer to approve a $300,000 Classic funded solely out of the purse account. Or, he said, if Charles Town wanted to put on a Classic for up to $1.2 million, he would consent to a 50/50 funding scheme whereby the WVRC would approve letting half of that money come from the purse account if the track covered the other half out of its own operational pocket.

Zimny replied that such a scheme was not only unworkable from Charles Town’s financial point of view, but out of step with the way other American racetracks put together stakes programs.

“For the edification of folks who may not know, that is completely contrary to how almost any big-race purse in the country is funded,” Zimny said. “Five-hundred thousand in cash as a ratio of our revenues in racing is a large number. That’s nothing that we could ever do. It runs contrary to how stakes purses and how purses in general are funded as the status quo, and that’s not how it’s done. This motion in front of us, if we accept it, we’re going to take a hit financially as a racing operation. And if we say no, we’re going to take a hit financially as a racing operation. So what do we do?”

Lowe suggested that Charles Town agree to however the commission votes on the matter, then the two sides can try to hammer out further elements of compromise at a later date.

“Like it or not, we are in a forced marriage. We are in a shotgun wedding in a sense,” Lowe said. “The whole idea here is to get owners back into the game. I’m an owner who left. Why did I leave? Because of the unstability of racing in West Virginia in Charles Town. It is guys like me…that make the game go ’round. [Racing in the state] is dying now…. We can make West Virginia racing better again, and I’m going to stick by what I’m saying here.”

Commissioner Anthony Figaretti seconded the motion and chairman Jack Rossi called the vote, which passed without opposition.

Executive director Moore then pointed out that the agenda item had actually pertained to voting on Charles Town’s 2018 stakes schedule, not coming up with an alternate plan to fund the Classic. Rossi said he needed a motion to that effect. Zimny replied that he’d have to come back before the commission with a different stakes slate, because it now won’t be the same as the one initially proposed.

“‘Nail in the coffin’ is a good phrase for what has been done here,” Zimny said before thanking the commissioners and leaving the podium.

In a phone interview after the meeting, Zimny said Charles Town won’t officially pull the plug on the Classic just yet, but that it won’t be run for a “ridiculously” reduced purse, either.

“We’re not talking a drop of $100,000 in the purse. We’re talking $1.2 million to $300,000, which puts us almost half a million dollars beneath the [GII $750,000] Oaklawn Handicap,” Zimny said. “It does not work. We would not run the race at that point, and getting so close to April as it is, recruiting for the race is very difficult. Something’s got to be resolved in the next week or two for [an as-scheduled running of the Classic] to be pulled off.”

Lowe and Charles Town executives have clashed before. In 2011, when Lowe was president of the Charles Town HBPA, track management ejected him from the property for allegedly violating of Charles Town’s house rule against solicitation (authorizing the distribution of political flyers). Lowe told TDN in December that a lawsuit he initiated against Charles Town over the matter resulted in an out-of-court settlement in his favor that he cannot discuss, but he emphatically denied that the litigation had any effect on his ability to regulate the track as a commissioner. -@thorntontd

OBS Winter Mixed Sale Begins Wednesday

Tue, 2018-01-23 14:48

The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s two-day Winter Mixed Sale begins Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in Florida with a consignor preferred session of mares and short yearlings (hips 1-254) followed immediately by horses of racing age (hips 255 – 366, including supplements). The auction will conclude on Thursday with an open session of breeding stock.

“I think it’s a good catalog,” said OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski. “We’ve got a great selection of yearlings as well as mares in foal to some nice sires.”

An under-tack show was held Monday, with unraced 3-year-old colt Ready to Dance (Take Charge Indy) covering three furlongs in a fastest :32 flat. The son of stakes-placed Readybdancing (More Than Ready) and grandson of MSW Silent Serenade (Blare of Trumpets) will be offered by Brent and Crystal Fernung’s Journeyman Bloodstock Services, Inc. as hip 318.

“The breeze show went great,” Wojciechowski said. “All the horses were very professional and I thought it went as smoothly as it could go.”

This marks the second year of an adjusted sales schedule at OBS. The sales company cancelled its 2016 October Mixed Sale while renovating its sales pavilion, and subsequently consolidated its two mixed sales into one, the Winter Mixed sale. It also shifted its yearling sale from August to October starting in 2017. OBS had moved its “Day of Champions” to coincide with the winter sale, but has postponed those races this year with a potential date in the fall under consideration.

“The feedback has been positive,” said Wojciechowski when asked about the sales schedule changes. “The January mixed sale kind of supplanted the October sale and took it over, and it seems as though it’s a great opportunity for guys to come down from up North–there are plenty of people who have horses being broke here in town, so they get to see horses they already have and attend the sale. We’ve seen a lot of people from up North on the grounds [Monday] and [Tuesday].”

Last year’s sale topper was a Shanghai Bobby short yearling filly (hip 10) consigned by Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck’s Summerfield and purchased by Bill Heiligbrodt’s East Hickman Bloodstock for $110,000. East Hickman also picked up the second topper, a $90,000 Into Mischief filly (hip 115) offered by Select Sales, Agent XVIII.

For more information and to livestream this year’s sale, visit www.obssales.com.

Arrogate Named Longines World’s Best Racehorse

Tue, 2018-01-23 14:05

LONDON, UK – Less than five months after Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) had posted the top-rated performance of 2016 when winning the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Juddmonte colt’s last-to-first effort in the G1 Dubai World Cup earned him the accolade of Longines World’s Best Racehorse for the second time.

Following American Pharoah’s title in 2015, the award has gone to a horse trained in America by Bob Baffert for this third consecutive year. The winners were announced on Tuesday during an awards ceremony at Claridge’s in London, with Baffert in attendance alongside his wife Jill and son Bode.

Arrogate, who was awarded a mark of 134 for his exploits at Meydan, becomes the second Juddmonte representative to have been a dual winner of this prize following the homebred Frankel (GB) (Galileo {Ire}), who was the Longines World’s Best Racehorse in 2011 and 2012, his first mark of 136 equalling that awarded to Sea The Stars (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}) in 2009, while his final rating of 140 remains the highest ever.

Paying tribute to Arrogate, Baffert said, “He gave so much that night [at Meydan] spotting horses like Gun Runner eight to ten lengths. He never could come back to that form. It was one of those races–I don’t think I will ever witness a race like that again and that is why they are honouring him today.

“He showed so much heart and determination, it was an off-the-chart run. His Travers was off the chart, his Breeders’ Cup was off the chart, and his Pegasus was off the chart. Dirt racing is very demanding and to do what he did in the Breeders’ Cup and the Pegasus–the Dubai World Cup was like his drop the mic race and that was it.”

Arrogate was beaten in his final three starts, all at Del Mar, including when attempting to defend his crown in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“He was never the same after [the Dubai World Cup],” Baffert added. “He was healthy and all but he just said that’s it.”

Winx Is Top Mare And Turf Horse
Australian superstar Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}) again had to play second fiddle to Arrogate in the overall rankings but was named the top-rated mare and turf horse in the world when earning a rating of 132 for her victory in the G1 George Ryder S. in March. The Chris Waller-trained 6-year-old has subsequently won another six races, remaining unbeaten in 22 consecutive races since May 2015, including three G1 Cox Plates.

Debbie Kepitis was one of a number of Winx’s owners in London to accept the award and said, “It’s the most amazing feeling being involved with a horse like Winx. She’s taken us on the most amazing rollercoaster ride. We’re at the top of the rollercoaster and it doesn’t seem to be coming down for a while.”

Asked whether Winx might make an appearance at Royal Ascot this summer, Kepitis’s fellow owner Peter Tighe replied, “We can’t give you a definitive answer now. We’ll get back to Australia and put her through a few trials but we don’t want to give anyone false hopes, either here or in Australia. Once she’s through her trials we’ll give it careful consideration.”

Gun Runner And Cracksman Tied
Another American star, Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}), who is set to make his final start in Saturday’s valuable G1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational before taking up stud duties, tied for third in the rankings with Frankel’s first European Group 1 winner Cracksman (GB), raced by his breeder Anthony Oppenheimer. The pair was awarded 130, a mark to which the consistent Gun Runner ran to on four separate occasions–in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic, GI Woodward S., G1 Whitney S., and G1 Stephen Foster H.

Case Clay, representing Three Chimneys Farm, where Gun Runner is set to stand after his Saturday swansong and which owns him in partnership with Winchell Thoroughbreds, said, “Gun Runner has done really well in training and we’re very happy to be here. He carries his speed well and is a good-looking horse who is well bred so we are hoping that he will pass on these attributes to his offspring.”

He continued, “Steve Asmussen and his team have done an incredible job managing the horse since he started racing and he is a dream come true for the whole of team Gun Runner–I’m just here on behalf of Three Chimneys and the Winchells but I know that we’ve all been pinching ourselves all year. He was very impressive as a 2-year-old and a Grade I winner at three and then he did what he did at four.

“We’ll see what he can do on Saturday, it won’t be easy. Every Grade I is hard to win. He’s been well received by breeders and he has about 150 mares on the book right now.”

The top-rated 3-year-old in the world, Cracksman earned his 130 rating in the G1 QIPCO Champion S. at Ascot. John Gosden can take pride in having trained the two best horses in Europe in 2017, though many may feel that Cracksman’s stablemate Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}), the winner of five consecutive Group 1 races, culminating with her best-rated performance in the G1 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, should have been higher up the list, especially given the fact that the Arc, which she won by four lengths, was named as the Longines World’s Best Horse Race for the second time.

Gosden, however, was quick to praise the efforts of Arrogate and said, “Enable won the best race but to paraphrase Mark Twain, horse races are purely a matter of opinion.

“What Arrogate did in the Dubai World Cup was beyond wonder. I think it was the most frightening, extraordinary race of the year. I stood there and I couldn’t believe what he did. That to me is enough in itself. I’m thrilled to be here today, with Cracksman, and Enable winning the best race, so it feels like we’ve had a couple of winners and I’m pretty happy.”

Regarding seasonal plans for his two stable stars, Gosden added, “Cracksman will start when he tells me he’s ready, though the way he behaved this morning I might run him next week at Newcastle. He’s full of himself–he had three bucks and a rear before he cantered today.

“But one is doing a canter, one is trotting. If they are happy and healthy and well, they will both go to Longchamp and if they meet along the way, they meet along the way. All options are open. I think Mr Oppenheimer and I are very clear that we’d like Cracksman to run in the King George–this is a race that his family sponsored for years–and we want to run in the Arc. Everything before that or during is not as important as those two races, so that’s where we’re aiming.”

He continued, “With Enable, obviously the Arc is the key race but we’re looking at the Juddmonte International beforehand. What happens before that, the horses will tell us.”

For her Arc victory, Enable was awarded a rating of 128, while the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Ulysses (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) was next with a mark of 126 for his G1 Juddmonte International win in the colurs of the Niarchos family

Godolphin Duo Honoured
Godolphin’s Cloth of Stars (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) was the top-rated French-trained horse on 125, earned for his runner-up finish in the Arc when splitting Enable and Ulysses. Andre Fabre’s colt was joint-seventh overall with the highest-rated sprinter on the list, Harry Angel (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), who also carries the royal blue of Godophin and is trained by Clive Cox. His four-length G1 Haydock Sprint Cup victory over Tasleet (GB) was judged to be his best performance of 2017.

Representing Britain, America and Japan respectively, Ribchester (Ire) (Iffraaj {GB}), Collected (City Zip) and Kitasan Black (Jpn) (Black Tide {Jpn}) finished in equal ninth position on a rating of 124. Japan’s top horse Kitasan Black bowed out with victory in the G1 Arima Kinen on Christmas Eve before retiring to Shadai Stallion Station, while Ribchester was a third horse in the top ten for Godolphin, earning his best rating for his G1 Prix du Moulin win. Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Collected was another feather in the cap of Bob Baffert in 2017.

Just below the top ten, eight horses earned the same mark to finish collectively in twelfth position on 123 and these included three from Aidan O’Brien’s stable all by Galileo–Churchill (Ire), Highland Reel (Ire) and Order Of St George (Ire).

Arc Is World’s Best Race Again
For the second time, the G1 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was awarded the title of Longines World’s Best Horse Race of 2017. The award was inaugurated in 2015, with France’s most famous race being named the winner in the first year, while last year the award was claimed by the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Collecting the award on behalf of France Galop, President Edouard de Rothschild said, “It is a pleasure to receive this for the second time. The Arc will return to Longchamp this year after the redevelopment and we will be honoured to display this commemorative plaque on our new stand.”

The Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings are determined by international handicappers according to the performance of horses around the world, while the Longines World’s Best Horse Race Award recognises the top-rated race of all Group 1 races run internationally, taking into account the ratings of the top four finishers in each race as the basis for assessment.

 

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