Monday, August 31, 2009

Jockey Garcia Suspended Seven Days

Jockey Garcia Suspended Seven Days
Alan Garcia

Jockey Alan Garcia has been suspended seven days for careless riding aboard Vineyard Haven in the King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga on Aug. 29. Upon appeal to the New York State racing & Wagering Board, the rider was granted an automatic stay of the suspension that was scheduled to run Aug. 30-Sept. 5.

Vineyard Haven won the King’s Bishop over a sloppy track, but was disqualified and placed second for interference with Capt. Candyman Can in the stretch. Capt. Candyman Can was awarded first upon the disqualification of Vineyard Haven.

Through racing of Sunday, Aug. 30, Garcia was second-leading rider at the Spa meet, with 30 wins, six behind leader Ramon Dominguez.


Together Again: Borel Works Mine That Bird

Together Again: Borel Works Mine That Bird
Calvin Borel after winning the Kentucky Derby aboard Mine That Bird.

Jockey Calvin Borel was back on board Mine That Bird on the morning of Aug. 31 as the winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) worked a half mile in :51.16 over the main track at Saratoga Race Course.

Trainer Chip Woolley sent the Birdstone gelding to the track for a breeze before he ships Sept. 1 to the Woolley's base in New Mexico.

"(It was) very good. He looked super," the trainer said. "We started him off pretty slow. The track was good but still heavy (from recent rain), but he finished real big down the lane."

While Woolley was pleased with the move, he was even more excited about having Borel back not only for the workout, but also for Mine That Bird's next two scheduled outings – the Oct. 10 Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) and the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).

"It worked well for us before," Woolley said of the Borel-Mine That Bird team.

After a rail-skimming ride aboard Mine That Bird at 50-1 odds in the Derby, Borel honored a commitment to ride super filly Rachel Alexandra in her victory in the BlackBerry Preakness (gr. I), in which Mine That Bird finished second under Mike Smith. In the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Borel and Mine That Bird finished third, with Summer Bird winning the third leg of the Triple Crown.

In the Aug. 2 West Virginia Derby (gr. II), Smith and Mine That Bird were third as Borel road Warrior's Reward to a second in the Jim Dandy (gr. II).

Mine That Bird was scheduled to run in the Aug. 29 Shadwell Travers Stakes (gr. I), but missed the race after undergoing minor throat surgery 11 days prior to the race.

Now he and trainer Woolley will be returning home for the first time since they got on the road for Kentucky in the spring.

"It will be nice to get home and see my friends," said Woolley, who has been walking on crutches (due to a broken leg) during his journey through Kentucky and New York.


Rachel Alexandra in Final Woodward Tuneup

Rachel Alexandra in Final Woodward Tuneup
Rachel Alexandra following this morning's workout at Saratoga.

Rachel Alexandra, whose eight-race win streak includes four grade I stakes, turned in her final preparation for the Sept. 5 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) when she breezed four furlongs at Saratoga on the morning of Aug. 31.

The workout over the Oklahoma training track in :49.09 was the 15th fastest among 44 horses working the distance.

The Woodward at 1 1/8 miles will mark Rachel Alexandra’s first effort against older males. The 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has already shown her dominance over the 3-year-old male class with impressive victories in the BlackBerry Preakness Stakes and Haskell Invitational, both grade I.
Trained by Steve Asmussen for Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stable and Harold McCormick, Rachel Alexandra has won 10 of 13 career starts and earned $2,498,354.

Clockers for The New York Racing Association, Inc. caught the 3-year-old filly going the first quarter in 25.53 and galloping out five furlongs in 1:02.23 under exercise rider Dominic Terry.

"She was very happy, came back very loose," said trainer Steve Asmussen. "If she’s happy, we’re happy. It was a nice, cool, crisp morning, and the racetrack was in great shape. She was extremely impressive. We were teasing about it, (about) making a training video and putting it in everyone else’s stall to say, ‘Try to do it like this.’ It’s great to have an opportunity to run her on the stage that is Saratoga, one I think she is deserving of. To run her in a race that Curlin was fortunate enough to win last year, we realize what a tall order it is for her. Most likely Saturday, it will take a career effort for her."


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Icon Project Runs Smasher in Personal Ensign

Icon Project Runs Smasher in Personal Ensign
Favored Icon Project rolled past her rivals with an impressive performance in the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga.

Favored Icon Project, ridden by Julien Leparoux, demolished her rivals with a Rachel Alexandra-type performance Aug. 30 in the $400,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) at Saratoga Race course.

Icon Project stalked the pace in the 1 1/4-mile event for fillies and mares over a track rated "good," taking the lead on the outside of Weathered as the field left the final turn. Under slight urging from Leparoux, the 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker pressed her advantage quickly as no threat emerged from the pack.

When Leparoux stole a quick look back at the eighth pole, he realized he was all by himself and rode Icon Project evenly to the wire. The 9-5 favorite posted her first grade I victory by 13 1/2 lengths. Swift Temper, ridden by Alan Garcia, finished best of the rest for second. Morena won the photo for third. The final time was 2:02.37.

Marty Wolfson trains Icon Project for owner Andrew Rosen. The bay filly won the off-the-turf New York Stakes (gr. III) on a muddy Belmont Park track by 13 1/4 lengths June 20, but finished second to Swift Temper in the Delaware Handicap (gr. II) on a fast track in her last start July 19.

Weathered went to the front soon after the start as Unbridled Belle escaped the rail to stalk the leader on the outside with Icon Project and the Peruvian-bred Morena just behind them. The fractions on the tiring racetrack were realistic -- :23.81, :47.62 and 1:11.31 -- but as the field made its way around the final turn, Unbridled Belle began to fall back. Icon Project, never far off, engaged the leader at the quarter pole. She had a narrow edge as they reached the stretch and quickly opened a commanding lead, lengthening her advantage while being kept to the task in a smashing effort.

“For once she left the gate well, so I lay pretty close to the pace today," Leparoux said. "At the three-eighths pole she just grabbed the bit from me and she kept on going. She didn’t get tired at all, she just kept on going the whole way.”

Swift Temper, who rallied on the outside from sixth, took second by 5 1/2 lengths over Morena and jockey Jose Lezcano.

“She had a little problem of handling the track because it was still wet," Garcia said of the runner-up. "She made me work harder than the last time (in Delaware). When I saw the other filly run away, I just wanted to hold on for second.”

Morena finished a half-length in front of second choice Miss Isella, the 120-pound high weight. Then came Weathered, With Flying Colors, Sea Chanter , and Unbridled Belle, who came into the race as the only grade I winner in the field.

Unraced at 2, Icon Project began her career in Great Britain in 2008 with trainer Brian Meehan. She won one of five races in Europe before transferring to Wolfson to commence her 4-year-old campaign in Florida in February. She won one of three starts on turf in Florida, which included a third-place finish in the April 25 La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder, then turned in her big win in the New York. She has remained on the main track since.

"I had been wanting to run her on the dirt – she’s by Empire Maker, and she trained great on dirt, ever since I got her from overseas," Wolfson said. "When she was tugging at him at the three-eighths pole, it was just a question of how far she was going to win by. It was just like the New York Handicap."

Wolfson, who won his fourth grade I race at Saratoga, said he would review his options before making a decision on Icon Project's next start. The trainer's other grade I wins at the Spa were with Chaposa Springs in the 1995 Test and the 1996 Ballerina and Pomeroy in the 2006 Forego.

Icon Project improved her career mark to 4-2-2 in 11 starts. The winning purse, $240,000, increased her earnings to $660,965.

A $775,000 yearling sale at Keeneland in 2006, Icon Project was bred in Kentucky by Ronald Carter Family Trust. The bay filly is out of grade I winner La Gueriere, a daughter of Lord At War. La Gueriere also produced multiple graded winner Lasting Approval. La Gueriere captured the 1991 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland. She is a half-sister to grade I winner and millionaire Al Mamoon (by Believe It).

Icon Project carried 116 pounds and paid $5.60, $3.30, and $3.10, topping a $2 exacta of $25.40.

Beckner Suffers Head Injuries in Accident

Beckner Suffers Head Injuries in Accident
Dale Beckner

Jockey Dale Beckner, who rode longshot Soul Warrior to victory in the Aug. 1 West Virginia Derby (gr. II), was seriously injured Aug. 28 in an accident at Presque Isle Downs.

Beckner, 37, was aboard the Rick Beattie Jr.-trained Private Exchange in the first race of the day at the Pennsylvania track, a six-furlong event for $7,500 claimers. When the 4-year-old colt broke down suddenly at the nine-sixteenths pole, his rider appeared to be kicked in the head by a trailing runner. Private Exchange was euthanized following the accident.
According to the jockey’s girlfriend, Chamisa Goodwin, Beckner sustained multiple fractures to his facial area, eye sockets and nasal passages, and part of his skull. He was conscious and in good spirits Aug. 29 at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, she said, although doctors were monitoring his condition for slight bleeding on the brain.
“They’re going to have to put some hardware in his skull; a plate and screws,” she said. “They haven’t given me an exact date yet but he’ll be in ICU for at least a couple of days and undergo surgery in about a week.”
Beckner is a native of Spokane, Wash., and won the Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice jockey in 1994. He ranks sixth in the standings at Presque Isle’s current meet behind leader Hubert Villa-Gomez with a 46-39-53 record from 300 starts.

News > Summer Bird Takes Flight in Travers Victory

Summer Bird Takes Flight in Travers Victory
Summer Bird comes home strong in the Travers Stakes.

He’s not the “other” Bird anymore.

Summer Bird continued his meteoric rise to the top of the nation’s 3-year-old ranks, as he rolled through the slop for an easy 3 1/2-length score in the $1-million Shadwell Travers (gr. I) (VIDEO) Aug. 29 at Saratoga.
Having made his racing debut less than five months ago, Summer Bird has won two of the most important races for 3-year-olds, first pulling an 11-1 upset over Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) victor Mine That Bird in the June 6 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and now a convincing victory in the “Mid-Summer Derby.” The chestnut colt duplicated the feat accomplished by his sire, Birdstone , who won both of those races back in 2004.
Owned by Drs. Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman, and trained by Tim Ice, Summer Bird has gone over $1.5 million in earnings during his improbable ascent toward Thoroughbred racing’s elite.
"They can call him the other Bird if they want, but he's won the Belmont and the Travers. Take it from there," said Ice, who credited jockey Kent Desormeaux and the addition of blinkers as reasons for Summer Bird’s rapid improvement. “It was just a matter of getting the right trip and the way he handled the track.
“Winning this race means as much as winning the Belmont. I can’t say that I feel better about either one. For my colt to win the Belmont and come back and win the Travers, like his sire, Birdstone, and be the 30th horse to come out of the Belmont and win the Travers, means a lot.”
With Desormeaux in the irons, Summer Bird raced close to the pace the early stages of the 1 1/4-mile Travers, unlike his Belmont triumph when he came from well back. He was never far off the lead this time, as expected pacesetter Our Edge took the field through an opening quarter in :23.19 and a half-mile in :46.88 with Alan Garcia aboard.

The winner, sent off as the 5-2 second choice, paid $7.80, $4.30, and $2.70. The exacta (6-1) with 17-1 Hold Me Back paid $115.50. The trifecta (6-1-4) was $343.50.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back Leg Injuries Tied to Synthetic Tracks

Back Leg Injuries Tied to Synthetic Tracks

A post-mortem report presented to the California Horse Racing Board Aug. 27 at Del Mar tends to support trainers who complain that synthetic tracks lead to more hind leg injuries.

In 2008, 19 Thoroughbreds from a total of 111 that died on synthetic tracks in the state succumbed to catastrophic hind-end leg injuries, according to a preliminary CHRB/University of California-Davis report.

That compared to just one death as the result of a hind-leg injury among 65 Thoroughbreds that succumbed during racing or training on dirt tracks during the same period, according to the report. Dr. Hailu Kinde, who has been with the post-mortem program at UC-Davis since 1991, presented the figures to the board.

"This actually confirms that there are additional hind-end injuries on synthetic surfaces, which is what trainers have been telling us," said Dr. Rick Arthur, the CHRB's equine medical director.

Sesamoid fractures resulted in 81 deaths and were the most common of fatal skeletal injuries, Kinde said.

There were a total of 351 horse deaths for all breeds within racing enclosures in the state during 2008: 163 fatalities occurred during racing, 93 while training and 95 of non-exercise related causes such as gastro-intestinal or respiratory problems, Kinde told the board. Equine deaths by breed broke down as follows: Thoroughbreds, 258; Quarter Horses, 86; Standardbreds, 4; Arabians, 3.

Catastrophic breakdowns in front legs in Thoroughbreds, which numbered 135, according to the report, remained much more prominent than hind leg breakdowns.

The 2008 totals were punctuated by an increase in Quarter Horse deaths on Los Alamitos' dirt track, which doubled over the preceding year.

Horse deaths for all breeds have shown an increase at racetracks in the state since 2004, but Arthur noted that only in the past couple of years has the data collection been very reliable. He said the program's full annual written report should be available within a couple of weeks.

"I'm very pleased with the better data we are getting," Arthur said. Eventually, he hopes to be able to produce quarterly reports on equine deaths "so we can figure out what's going on and how to respond."

But Arthur said that in 90% of racetrack fatalities, the horse had a pre-existing injury that led to the catstrophic breakdown.

"To think that this is only a racetrack problem, and that we will solve the problem by fixing the racetracks is terribly naive," Arthur said.


Jockey to Have Surgery, Paralysis Feared

Jockey to Have Surgery, Paralysis Feared
Jockey Mike Straight

Apprentice jockey Michael Straight, seriously injured in an Aug. 26 spill at Chicago’s Arlington Park, will undergo surgery for four fractured vertebrae at Luther General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. at approximately 3:30 p.m. CDT.

Although Straight suffered bleeding to the brain as a result of the accident, doctors were optimistic that he had not sustained serious head trauma. The Daily Racing Form reported Straight may be paralyzed as a result of the accident.
Straight, 24, was thrown from his mount in the eighth race, a $10,000 event run at 1 1/16-miles for maiden claimers, when the Clayton Pierce-trained gelding Im No Gentleman collapsed and died near the quarter pole. No other horses or riders were involved in the spill, which happened as Im No Gentleman raced seventh among the trailers in the nine-horse field.
Straight is the second jockey to sustain severe injuries in races run over Arlington’s Polytrack at the current spring/summer meet. On May 23, veteran Rene Douglas was thrown when his mount clipped heels in the Arlington Matron Stakes. He lost all feeling in his lower extremities and is still recovering in the Chicagoland area.
Jockeys at Arlington were scheduled to meet with track management Aug. 27 regarding the condition of the surface.
Straight and his twin brother Matthew are graduates of the North American Riding Academy run by Hall of Fame rider Chris McCarron. The injured Straight scored his first win March 6 at Tampa Bay Downs and has 39 winners from 372 starts, 23 earned this season at Arlington. His brother has been riding at Ellis Park in Kentucky, but drove to Illinois late last night; the twins’ parents flew in as well and McCarron will fly there Aug. 27.
“As of noon today, Mike is stable and is scheduled to undergo surgery later this afternoon,” Matthew Straight said in a statement. “The surgery is expected to last several hours.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

18-year-old apprentice wins Laurel title

Apprentice jockey Dusty Shepherd capitalized on the white-hot barn of trainer Jerry Robb to capture the riding title at Laurel Park's 11-day summer meet that ended Sunday.

Shepherd, 18, whose older brother Justin is also a jockey, rode 10 winners, six for Robb, to edge Anna Napravnik and Rosemary Homeister Jr. by one win to finish atop the jockey standings. Both of Shepherd's parents are also involved in the sport, Sherri as a trainer and Dave as a jockey.

Shepherd credited his agent, Mark Rosenthal, for getting him aboard live mounts.

"My agent had Robb's barn lined up and his horses have run huge the last two weeks," Shepherd said. "I am hoping to build on this success for the fall."

Robb was 7 for 9 with two second place finishes during the mini-meet to capture his first training title at the major Maryland tracks since the 2004 winter meet. The average win payoff on Robb's winners was $15.60.

The Maryland Jockey Club does not release final handle figures for the mini-meet.

Live racing in Maryland shifts to Timonium for the Maryland State Fair meet on Friday before returning to Laurel for the balance of the year on Sept. 12. The fall season will be highlighted by the 24th annual Jim McKay Maryland Million on Sept. 26 and the Grade 1 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash on Oct. 24.

Delaware Sports Betting Plan Ruled Illegal


A federal appeals court ruled Aug. 24 that Delaware's plan to offer sports betting would violate a 1992 federal ban on sports wagering.

The court in Philadelphia ruled after hearing almost two hours of arguments from attorneys for Delaware and for professional sports leagues and the NCAA, which opposed the plan.

Delaware claimed it was exempt from the federal ban because it ran a sports lottery in 1976. The leagues claim the exemption does not allow Delaware to offer bets on single games or on sports other than professional football, but attorneys for the state argued otherwise.

The leagues were challenging the denial of an injunction that would have prevented the betting from beginning in early September at three racetracks: Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway & Casino, which already have video lottery terminals and plan to add table games.

Attorneys for Delaware argued that the leagues had not met the requirements for an injunction. But instead of ruling on the injunction, the appeals court turned directly to the league's claim that the sports betting would violate federal law.

During the Aug. 24 arguments, Judge Theodore McKee questioned what would happen if the state was allowed to begin sports betting in September, then have it declared illegal by several months later. Individual bettors will have lost hundreds or thousands of dollars on what essentially was an illegal state scheme, he noted.

"What happens if you're wrong?" McKee asked Andre Bouchard, an attorney representing the state.

"Caveat emptor," Bouchard replied, citing the Latin admonition of "buyer beware."


Monday, August 24, 2009

Super Filly Rachel Alexandra to Woodward

Super Filly Rachel Alexandra to Woodward
Rachel Alexandra, in Haskell Invitational victory.

Trainer Steve Asmussen said Aug. 24 that top 3-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra will run in the Sept. 5 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) and that stablemate Kensei would contest the Aug. 29 Shadwell Travers Stakes (gr. I).

Asmussen, accompanied by Barbara Banke, announced the plans following workouts by both horses at Saratoga Racecourse. Banke is the wife of Jess Jackson, whose Stonestreet Stable races Rachel Alexandra in partnership with Harold McCormick.

Working over the main track, Rachel Alexandra went six furlongs in 1:12, according to Asmussen, and Kensei was timed in :50 for a half-mile clip. With regular exercise rider Dominic Terry aboard, and jockey Calvin Borel watching from the grandstand, NYRA clockers caught the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro in splits of 24.27, 36.23, 47.86 and 59.60, galloping out six furlongs in 1:25.58.

"It was awesome," said Terry. "She’s amazing."

"Rachel Alexandra’s workouts have been excellent," Jackson said in a statement released later. "Hal McCormick, my family and I, like other fans of horseracing, want to see her tested. If she goes up against older male horses, we’ll be better able to get a measure of her greatness."

"I think she deserves a chance to run in the Woodward," Asmussen said of the decision to run the filly against older males. He noted that although Rachel Alexandra has defeated 3-year-old males twice, she would obviously not be voted 3-year-old champion in that division because of her gender.

Along with the announcement that Rachel Alexandra will seek to become the first filly to win the Woodward, the New York Racing Association has raised the purse for the 1 1/8 mile race from $500,000 to $750,000.

"Raising the Woodward purse will help attract a top field to what will be an historic race," said NYRA vice president and director of racing P.J. Campo. "In addition, we felt that to have a filly like Rachel Alexandra seeking to become the first ever female to win the Woodward warranted an increase in purse."

"Legacy," said Asmussen when asked about chosing the Woodward as Rachel Alexandra’s next start. "Jess’s sportsmanship about what they can do is quite obvious, instead of just talk … there’s just so much – no filly has won the Woodward. For everything else that she’s done I think that it’s the showcase or the platform that she’s worthy of."

Purchased by her present owners following a 20 1 4/-length romp in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), Rachel Alexandra has won 10 of 13 career starts and is on an eight-race win streak. The daughter of Medalgia d’Oro, who has earned more than $2.2 million, won the Mother Goose (gr. I) by 19 1/4 lengths in record time against other 3-year-old fillies. She has defeated males twice – in the BlackBerry Preakness (gr. I) and Haskell Invitational (gr. I).


Mine That Bird feisty three days after throat surgery


Three days after having surgery to repair an entrapped epiglottis, Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner Mine That Bird was back on the main track at Saratoga Race Course on Friday morning.

Given the okay after an endoscopic exam from Dr. James Hunt, Mine That Bird jogged twice the wrong way under exercise rider George Smith at about 7:15 a.m. EDT.

"The horse was playing and having a good time," trainer Bennie "Chip"
Woolley said. "He came off the track just firing and bouncing. He looked super."

Mine That Bird had surgery on Tuesday morning at the Ruffian Equine Medical Center across from Belmont Park. He returned that afternoon to the Clark Memorial Stakes Barn at Saratoga, which also houses Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Summer Bird.

"If you didn't know we had done the surgery—say you vetted this horse for a sale today—and somebody looked in there, they would say he has the perfect throat," Woolley said. "What more could you ask for?"

At about 8:45 on Friday morning, Woolley was on the phone with Mark Allen, who co-owns Mine That Bird with Dr. Leonard Bloch.

"I told Mark, I said, 'I know you're concerned, but you could not ask for your horse to be any better than he is right here, right now,' " Woolley said. "We'll monitor it every day. If we see the slightest indication that the horse is not right, he will not run.

"On the racetrack this morning, he was full of himself, bucking and jumping and playing, and he came off the track with his head up, dancing and firing off the ground. My recommendation to him was to run as long as we don't see a change."

Woolley plans to bring Mine That Bird to the track on Saturday and Sunday, gallop him on Monday pending another scope, then work him on Tuesday morning prior to the $1-million Shadwell Travers Stakes (G1) on August 29.

"As long as things go according to Hoyle, we're aiming for being in the Travers," he said. "I told Mark a million times, 'I'd be the first one to pull the plug if he isn't right.' I'm not going to run him if he's not 100%. I won't run him if he's 95%. We'll see what happens."

In his previous start, Mine That Bird was third in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (G2) at Mountaineer Park behind longshot Soul Warrior in his first start following the grueling Triple Crown series.

"The horse could feasibly be better right now than he was when we ran him in the West Virginia Derby," Woolley said. "I just don't think you could ask to have a horse any better than he is today, and any more prepared for a big race than he is."


Tyler Baze Out of Action With Broken Finger

Tyler Baze, second in the Del Mar rider standings to Joel Rosario, is expected to be out of action for a week as the result of suffering a broken little finger on his left hand. Baze was unseated by his mount, R. Bee Ess, as they went to the gate for the 10th race Aug. 22.

R. Bee Ess ran off and was scratched from the race.

Baze was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla for x-rays, and the finger was set there. A cast was prepared there as well.

The 26-year-old rider was named on eight horses on Sunday's card on the Aug. 23 card. (2nd race: Its in God's Hands, replaced by Mike Smith; 3rd: Kaloula, Alex Solis; 4th: Desert Cowboy, Corey Nakatani; 6th: Stormy Inferno, Martin Garcia; 7th: Sweet Golden Carol, Michael Baze; 8th: Win Allison Win, Victor Espinoza; 9th: Job Boss, Michael Baze; 10th: No Caps No Floors, Aaron Gryder.)

On Aug. 26, Baze is named on eight horses, including Men's Magazine in the Harry F. Brubaker Stakes.

Baze's agent, Ron Ebanks, said the injury would mean he would have to give up the mount on Monterey Jazz in the $300,000 Del Mar Mile (gr. IIT) on Aug. 29 or the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) the following day. Ebanks remains hopeful that Baze will recover in time to ride Battle of Hastings for trainer Jeff Mullins in the $350,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) on Sept. 6.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

NYRA Joins Rachel Alexandra-Zenyatta Bidding

NYRA Joins Rachel Alexandra-Zenyatta Bidding
NYRA is hoping to lure Zenyatta to Belmont Park to face Rachel Alexandra.

Online wagering companies TVG and Betfair have pledged an additional $400,000 to the New York Racing Association to invite Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta to participate in the Beldame Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park Oct. 3.

With the $400,000 title sponsorship by TVG-Betfair, NYRA will raise the purse of the Beldame to $1 million if the starting gate includes both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, two of the most successful female runners in racing history, the companis said in an Aug. 21 release.

"TVG-Betfair and NYRA are thrilled to offer the owners of these two great horses the chance to participate in a Beldame for the ages," Betfair US president Gerard Cunningham said in a statement. "Racing fans have been clamoring for Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta to square off all year, and the Beldame presents the best opportunity for the two Horse of the Year contenders to meet at one of racing’s best venues."

Jess Jackson, co-owner of Rachel Alexandra, didn't bite Aug. 21. He said it's still wait-and-see with the filly.

“Our strategy has not changed in scheduling Rachel Alexandra’s campaign this year," Jackson said in a statement. "We will always take it one race at a time. Right now, we are focused on her next start. I hope to have a decision on that early (the week of Aug. 24). After that race, we will need to see how she recovers, and then determine her next start.

"I understand the growing excitement around a race that involves these two magnificent athletes competing, but both camps need to do what is in the best interest of the horse. And for us, that means waiting until (Rachel Alexandra) completes and soundly recovers from her next race before any decisions are made about the Beldame Stakes or any other venue.”

Other tracks and industry players have attempted to bring the two females together as well. Jackson has said Rachel Alexandra won't compete in a Breeders' Cup race this year, while Zenyatta is expected to do so. The event will be held at Santa Anita Park.

Rachel Alexandra, owned by Jackson and Harold McCormick, has won her last eight races, including the BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Record executive and co-founder of A&M Records Jerry Moss owns Zenyatta, who remains undefeated in 12 career starts and won last year’s Eclipse Award as champion older filly or mare.

The Beldame is at 1 1/8 miles, a distance at which Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta have each captured three grade I events. At Belmont, the distance is run around one turn, however, not two.

"We are very excited to partner with TVG-Betfair and provide the venue and opportunity for fans to see the race of a lifetime," NYRA president and chief executive officer Charles Hayward said. "Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta are two of the most talented females that Thoroughbred racing has ever witnessed, and Belmont Park would be the perfect setting for this dream match-up.

"We would expect the race to draw a stellar field to be part of racing history."


Friday, August 21, 2009

Can't Stop Laughing!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We need a little Humor for today!

The Wiley Coyote Classic! ... Too Funny! :+textinb3 :+textinb3

No virus threat detected

Improved on-track averages posted at Del Mar


While the track has reduced the number of days it races each week from six to five, Del Mar reports double-digit percentage increases in on-track handle and attendance.

All-sources handle for the meet is steady, up 0.2% for the first 20 days of the 37-day meeting compared with last year.

On-track attendance is up 11.8% to 18,607 and average on-track handle is up 12.8% to $2,389,811.

“We're tickled with the response our fans have given us so far at the meet," Del Mar President Joe Harper said.

Del Mar had raced on a six-days-per-week basis since 1946. Because of a horse shortage in California and the general economy’s downturn, however, it received approval from the California Horse Racing Board to drop its Monday programs (with the exception of Labor Day) and cut back to a five-day week.

Robby Albarado Jockey of the Week

Robby Albarado Picture

Robby Albarado led all North American jockeys by stakes winners with three for the week ended August 18. Albarado enjoyed a banner day on August 15 at Charles Town Races as he won three stakes, including a half-length score aboard Four Gifts in the $250,000 Charles Town Oaks, the feature race on the card.
Albarado also guided Western Smoke to victory in the Charles Town Juvenile Stakes and Kinsolving to a win in the Miss Shenandoah Stakes during a lucrative trip to the Charles Town, West Virginia, track.

A Lafayette, Louisiana, native who splits his time living in New Orleans and Louisville, Albarado has collected more than 4,000 winners since he began riding professionally in 1990. His 24,526 mounts have amassed $155,789,168 in purse earnings through

August 18.

Albarado is perhaps best known as the regular rider of 2007 and ’08 Horse of the Year Curlin. Albarado guided Curlin to wins in the 2007 Preakness Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (G1) and the ’08 Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAEG1). He also was the regular rider of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft. Albarado, 35, has won riding titles at Churchill Downs, Arlington Park, Fair Grounds, Keeneland Race Course, and Oaklawn Park. He won the 2004 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, presented annually by Santa Anita Park to honor riders whose careers and personal character reflect positively on the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing. The Woolf Award winner is determined by a vote of jockeys nationwide.

Albarado founded the Robby Albarado Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to assist homeless, socially or economically disadvantaged.

Well Monied Heads Full Field for Del Mar Oaks

Well Monied Heads Full Field for Del Mar Oaks
Well Monied heads a full field in the Del Mar Oaks.

American Oaks (gr. IT) runner-up Well Monied heads a full field of 3-year-old fillies for the $350,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) Aug. 22 on the turf at the seaside track.

The 1 1/8-mile event shapes up as a highly entertaining affair. Also entered are the first four finishers from Del Mar's exciting San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) on Aug. 1, as well as Lexlenos, who ran third at 63-1 in the American Oaks at Hollywood Park last month.

Trainer Paddy Gallagher, who won last year's Del Mar Oaks with 43-1 shot Magical Fantasy, won't be slipping in under the radar this time. The popular Irishman not only starts Lexlenos, but he also has Starlarks, who upset the one-mile San Clemente at 11-1 by a nose over Strawberry Tart. Both of Gallagher's closers figure to be considerably shorter odds this time.

Also coming out of the San Clemente are Hameildaeme, who ran third by a nose over Internallyflawless, who represents newly enshrined Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Favoritism, though, is likely to go to Well Monied, who was so impressive in winning the Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Hollywood Park lawn prior to her second-place finish to Gozzip Girl in the 1 1/4-mile American Oaks July 5. Trained by Howard Zucker for C.T. Grether, the gray/roan daughter of Maria's Mon gave a game effort when rallying from 13th in the big field, but could not overcome a five-wide trip into the stretch and was defeated by 3 1/4 lengths.

Prior to the American Oaks, the Kentucky-bred Well Monied had won three of five starts in 2009 while handling several of the top contenders in the Del Mar Oaks, including Lexlenos, Hameildaeme and Starlarks. Joel Rosario retains the mount and they will break from post 5.

Alabama: No 'Rachel,' But Still a Solid Field

Alabama: No 'Rachel,' But Still a Solid Field
Funny Moon comes into the Alabama off of a win in the
Coaching Club American Oaks.

There are two ways to look at the field for the $600,000 Alabama (gr. I): It could be a disappointment that the nation’s top 3-year-old filly, Rachel Alexandra, is not included in the field. Or, a more optimistic view would be that many of the talented fillies entered for the prestigious race are only there because Rachel Alexandra is not in the field.

Whatever the outlook, a solid field of eight was entered for the 1 1/4-mile event at Saratoga Aug. 22, and they will all look to take a step toward establishing themselves as the second best sophomore filly in the land. Post time is set for 5:47 p.m. for Saratoga’s feature.
Among those in the mix for the Alabama title are the top four finishers from the July 25 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) at Belmont, including the winner, Funny Moon, as well as graded stakes winners last out, Be Fair and Careless Jewel, the latter of which has scored three straight victories.
Owned by Mrs. C. Wilson McNeely III, Funny Moon came from off the pace with a wide stretch move and got up by a neck over Don't Forget Gil in the American Oaks, which was also at 1 1/4 miles. A daughter of Malibu Moon —Fun Crowd, by Easy Goer, Funny Moon fared much better in that race than she did in her stakes debut when finishing eighth in the June 6 Acorn (gr. I) after a troubled trip.
Prior to the American Oaks, trainer Christophe Clement raised Funny Moon’s confidence by placing her in an optional claiming event on July 3, where she romped by more than eight lengths. Overall, the chestnut filly is 4-1-0 from six starts.
Funny Moon, who was bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Stautberg, will break from post 3 with regular rider Alan Garcia aboard.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rachel ‘stronger than normal’ during workout

Photo: Rachel Alexandra turned in a solid workout Monday morning at Saratoga Race Course.

Not even the eerie mist of an early Monday morning could keep Rachel Alexandra from showing off her talent.

The Blackberry Preakness (G1) and Haskell Invitational (G1) Stakes winner turned in another outstanding work at the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Race Course., covering five furlongs in 1:00.37.

It was the fastest of 12 horses at the distance, including stablemate and multiple Grade 2 winner Kensei, who was clocked in 1:01.85 for trainer Steve Asmussen.

"She just looked beautiful," Asmussen said. "It was a pretty foggy morning and the clockers did a nice job of going across the infield to catch her breaking off for us. She looked beautiful coming down the lane."

Exercise rider Dominic Terry, who has been on Rachel Alexandra's back every morning since she was purchased by Jess Jackson and Harold McCormick in May, also was impressed.

"She was a lot stronger than normal," Terry said. "She was pulling me to the pole. She went really nice and galloped out really strong. I couldn't ask for more.

"It was just effortless, like she was galloping. It was absolutely amazing. The little bit you could see, you could tell. I'll have confidence in her anywhere they want to run her."

Asmussen said no race has been ruled out for Rachel Alexandra. After consulting with Jackson, a decision will come this week. Among the options are four at Saratoga — the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (G1) on Saturday, the $1-million Shadwell Travers Stakes (G1) on August 29, the $400,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) on August 30, and the $500,000 Woodward Stakes (G1) on September 5— as well as the $1-million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) on September 7 at Philadelphia Park.

"We're not keeping anybody guessing. I just think it would be definitely delinquent of us to be obligating somebody who's accomplished as much as her," Asmussen said. "Rachel is a tremendous talent, and I think our responsibility is to keep her that way."

Kensei also is nominated to the Travers, Woodward, and Pennsylvania Derby.

Also pointing to the Travers is Warrior's Reward, the runner-up to Kensei in the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) on August 1 at Saratoga. Trained by Ian Wilkes, Warrior's Reward breezed five furlongs on Saratoga's main track in 1:00.26 on Monday under jockey Calvin Borel. The time was the fastest of 12 horses at the distance.

"It was a nice, solid work," Wilkes said. "The main thing is I wanted Calvin to finish down the lane a little. I wanted him to just pay attention to finishing, and he did it all himself. He galloped out strong.”


NY Jockeys to Use New Riding Crops


New York jockeys will start riding full time with equine friendly riding crops beginning Wednesday, Aug. 19, at Saratoga.

The new riding crops conform to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) Model Rules and The Jockey Club Safety Committee’s recommendations.

“This initiative is great for racing in New York,” said jockey John Velazquez, chairman of the board of directors of the Jockeys’ Guild. “It’s really about what is best for the horse. As a group, the jockeys decided to take this action that will benefit the horses competing on the track as well as the sport of racing. The New York jockeys and the Jockeys’ Guild are pleased to take this step.

“The quality and durability of the new crops has improved significantly, and there are enough suppliers now to meet demand. The first generation of these riding crops, particularly the padded flap, was not sufficiently durable to last a reasonable amount of time. We now feel confident that the quality and the supply are there to implement this change.”

“The padded flap is much kinder to the horse,” said jockey Edgar Prado. “Jockeys across the country have been using the new riding crops on a trial basis for quite a while, and in Kentucky the new riding crop is the standard. In New York, now is the right time to make that change and Saratoga is the proper place.”

“The New York jockeys, like the Del Mar jockeys last week, deserve the credit for being proactive in adopting this measure,” said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “This action is an example of the commitment of the jockeys to work with all groups in the industry to help overcome the challenges facing it. In New York, the jockeys want to continue to work with NYRA to strengthen the racing industry in the state.”

Surgery for Mine That Bird; Travers Still On

Surgery for Mine That Bird; Travers Still On
Mine That Bird

Mine That Bird, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), will have surgery Aug. 18 to correct an entrapped epiglottis, trainer Chip Woolley said. The son of Birdstone will still be pointed for the $1-million Shadwell Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga on Aug. 29.

According to Woolley, the entrapped epiglottis was detected during a routine scope performed by Dr. James Hunt on Mine That Bird following his morning work at Saratoga earlier in the day. He worked five furlongs in 1:03.83, the slowest time of a dozen horses going that distance over a main track labeled "good."

Woolley said the surgery would be performed by Dr. Patricia Hogan at the Ruffian Medical Center just outside of Belmont Park in Elmont, NY. He expected the bay gelding to ship back to Saratoga and return to training.

The condition occurs when the thin membrane lying below the epiglottis (the fleshy tissue that covers the windpipe when a horse swallows) moves up and covers the epiglottis.

"We’re just going to take him to the best facility we can find and try to give ourselves the best opportunity to make the race," the trainer said. "A lot of other guys have had a lot worse problems than him, so we’ll get it fixed and go on. He’s perfectly sound, he’s healthy. This is just something you’d have never guessed he was going to run into. Of course, now it’s going to be a big thing because it happened to him, but it happens a lot. They do these surgeries regularly, so it’s not unheard of, and we’ll get him fixed."

Although Woolley was still hopeful his starter would make the Travers Stakes, he called the minor setback "tough" and said he would nominate to the $1-million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. I) on Sept. 7 as well.

"We’ll make our backup plans and figure out what they are in the next day or two because it’s not something we’d really planned on," Woolley said.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hall of Fame Ceremony Honors the Greats

Hall of Fame Ceremony Honors the Greats

The 2009 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame inductions, held on Aug. 14, came together like a great American tapestry, highlighted by the irrepressible Bob Baffert, who rose from the Quarter Horse ranks in and around his hometown of Nogales, Ariz., to become one of the top big-money Thoroughbred trainers of all time and winner of eight Triple Crown races; his star filly, Silverbulletday, winner of 13 graded stakes, whom Baffert purchased as a yearling for his good friend Mike Pegram; and Tiznow, the California-bred from obscure parents who singlehandedly repulsed back-to-back European invasions of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) in dramatic fashion.

Also honored were “Steady” Eddie Maple, who won 4,398 races over a 34-year career; Janet Elliot, the first woman trainer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame; and jumper Ben Nevis II, winner of England’s grueling Grand National.

When such an eclectic cast of characters, all five with their own special story, share their sport’s most distinguished honor in front of family and friends, it is sure to inspire a wide gamut of emotions.

While some people wear their heart on their sleeve, Baffert, like the quintessential showman, usually keeps his heart concealed, shielded by quips, jokes, and other comments that some may find outrageous. But on this occasion, he knew well in advance that his defenses would crumble as soon as he stepped up to the podium at the Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and saw his mother and father in the audience. With his brothers and sisters and longtime friends also in attendance, Baffert tried his best to hold his emotions in check. He failed miserably.

On three separate occasions, Baffert was unable to speak, once after looking out at his daughter, Savannah, who was in tears.

“I still can’t believe I’m here,” Baffert said. “It didn’t hit me until I arrived in Saratoga and saw this pavilion. That’s when it hit me, and I thought, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.’”

Bob Baffert watches the Hall of Fame ceremonies. Photo by Skip Dickstein.

Baffert talked about shadowing his father, Bill, who would pick him up at school and take him to ride in match races. They had to make a pact, however.

“I’d tell him, ‘Dad, if you don’t tell Mom about me riding I won’t tell her about you drinking beer,’” Baffert recalled.

He then addressed his mother, Ellie, whom he called the backbone of the family:

“She used to say, ‘I didn’t send you to college for six years to train horses.’ So, Mom, I hope this day makes up for all the years worrying about me.”

What made the day even more special for Baffert was being inducted along with Silverbulletday, who was represented by owner Mike Pegram. It was Pegram who convinced Baffert to leave Quarter Horse racing and try Thoroughbreds.

“I wouldn’t be here if not for one man – Bobby,” Pegram said. “We’ve had a lot of fun and lot of wins, and to be here with my pal is as good as it gets. Silverbulletday took us on a magic carpet ride – 10 tracks in 26 months. And now, she’s one of the greatest fillies of all time.”

Another popular inductee was Eddie Maple, who has waited years for this moment to finally come.

“The first time I was nominated was in 1992,” he said. “I didn’t get in that year. Then, two years came and went, then three, four, five, and six. Everyone told me the seventh is the charm, and they were right.”

Pamela Ziebarth, daughter of the late Cecilia Straub Rubens, represented Tiznow. Her mother had put up $360,000 to supplement Tiznow to the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Three days after the colt’s victory, she passed away, losing her battle to cancer.

“Nothing was more gratifying than to have my mother witness Tiznow’s first Breeders’ Cup win,” Ziebarth said. “He was a special gift to my mother and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and Tiznow and the great times we all shared.”

Two steeplechase legends were also inducted – Ben Nevis II and trainer Janet Elliot.

“It was such a thrill watching Ben win the Grand National,” said Ann Stewart, daughter of owner Redmond Stewart. “That race was the supreme challenge, and it had rained for almost a month leading up to the race and they had the deepest course ever. And there was Ben show jumping around there to win by 20 lengths, never even leaving a hoofprint. That was a life-altering experience.”

Elliot, from Cobh in County Cork, Ireland, was introduced by her mentor Jonathan Sheppard. “This is an honor beyond my wildest dreams,” she said. “I’ve always loved animals, and have always had a passion for horses, but I had no idea it would be my life. I came to America and soaked in all I could from Jonathan Sheppard. When I started training on my own I had no idea what an adventure it would be.”


Meteore Rises to the Top in La Jolla Handicap

Meteore Rises to the Top in La Jolla Handicap
Meteore pulls away in the La Jolla.

Meteore was in last place coming off the far turn with seemingly nowhere to go. But once jockey Alex Solis found room with a sweeping four-wide move it was clear sailing from there, as the son of Pulpit picked up all eight of his rivals en route to a 1 1/2-length victory in the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) Aug. 15 on the Del Mar turf course.

Making his graded stakes debut while going off as the 6-1 fourth choice, Meteore posted his third win in his last four starts. The chestnut colt has now gone from maiden to graded stakes winner in a little more than four months for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.
Meteore trailed throughout the backstretch in the 1 1/16-mile La Jolla, waiting patiently while stablemate New Bay clicked off an opening quarter of :23.05 and then dueled with I'll Show Them and Herr Mozart through a half-mile in :46.92 and three-quarters in 1:10.03.
New Bay and I’ll Show Them were the first to the quarter-pole, but a rallying Rendezvous easily took over approaching the top of the stretch with his three-wide move. Rendezvous, with Joel Rosario aboard, led until deep stretch, but was no match for Meteore, who came roaring like a freight train from the middle of the racetrack.
Meteore, a 3-year-old homebred of Wertheimer and Frere, hit the wire in 1:40.82 on a ‘firm’ turf course. Rendezvous was second, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Gretsky. Previously undefeated I’ll Show Them, the 5-2 favorite, was fourth.
"Richard told me he wanted to take him back, drop over and make one late run. It worked well," Solis said. "I knew they were going along at a good clip up front, so I felt comfortable back there. I saw Garrett's horse (Garrett Gomez on Gretsky) get in trouble near the five-sixteenths (pole), and I was able to come out and go around. It worked out perfectly. It was a good race for him."

The winner paid $14, $6.60, and $4.40. The $1 exacta (7-2) returned $27.90, and the $1 trifecta (7-2-4) was $100.20.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2009 Horse Racing Leaders!


Here are the links for all the Racing Leaders of 2009 so far his year!





. Handle Up, Net Income Down

. Handle Up, Net Income Down reported Aug. 12 a 3% increase in revenue for the second quarter of 2009 but a 27.9% decrease in net income.

Total revenue for the April-June period was $30.18 million, up from $29.23 million for the second quarter of 2008. Pari-mutuel handle through the system increased 13% for the period, from $113.7 million in 2008 to $128.4 million this year.

In a statement accompanying an earnings release, president and chief executive officer David Goldberg said the handle increase was fueled by a 7% increase in unique customers and a 5% gain in the average amount wagered. reported the handle gain stemmed from the return of content controlled by TrackNet Media Group and addition of new content. Goldberg said gross profit was down because of higher fees for racetrack content, which more than offset the revenue increase.

Goldberg said “overall industry softness may continue in the back half of the year” given the 13.4% decrease in total handle on United States racing in July.

“We continue to see weakness across the consumer and gaming sector in particular, which has impacted the horse racing industry,” Goldberg said. “Although the (advance deposit wagering) business continues to grow within the industry, we remain diligent in managing expenses, while at the same time pursuing growth opportunities for our Youbet Express platform.

The bulk of revenue comes from commissions from handle, which came in at $23.9 million in the second quarter of 2009. Commissioners made up 18.6% of total system handle. also owns United Tote, which experienced a 17% decline in revenue for the second quarter. Contract revenue was down 14% to $5.7 million at United Tote; gross profit for the period was $1.9 million, down 36%.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Zenyatta-Rachel Alexandra Match Race Proposed

Zenyatta-Rachel Alexandra Match Race Proposed
Zenyatta won the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes on August 9.

James McIngvale, a Houston horse owner known for his high profile promotions on behalf of his Gallery Furniture stores, is proposing a $2-million match race between super fillies Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra.

The proposed race, in late September or early October, would be held at Sam Houston Race Park. From the $2 million offered by Gallery Furniture, which would sponsor the event, the winner would receive $1.2 million and the other horse would get $800,000.

"I think it would be good for horse racing, and be good for Houston," McIngvale said Aug. 11. "And hopefully I can make some money on it."

McIngvale, who is known as "Mattress Mack" on his television commercials that are beamed to Houston-area audiences, said he would hope to profit from the match race by the exposure generated for his business. Among his previous promotions within horse racing, McIngvale in 1999 sponsored the Turfway Park stakes race now run as the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II). Previous to McIngvale’s one-year sponsorship, when it was run as the Stakes, the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep was the Jim Beam Stakes.

The owner said he selected Sam Houston for the race because it is his local track, because it is centrally located, and because it has a safe dirt surface.

McIngvale said he planned to contact the owners of both horses Aug. 11 to review his proposal. The proposed match race was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.

Based in California, Zenyatta has done most of her running on artificial surfaces. Following her victory in last weekend’s Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. I), Zenyatta is undefeated in 12 career starts. Owner Jerry Moss has said this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships at California’s Santa Anita Nov. 6-7 is the ultimate goal for Zenyatta. Last fall, Zenyatta won the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) on her way to championship honors as top older female.

East Coast-based Rachel Alexandra has won 10 of 13 lifetime starts and races for Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick. Jackson has said the filly, who has defeated colts in the BlackBerry Preakness (gr. I) and Haskell Invitational (gr. I), would not participate in the Breeders’ Cup because of the artificial Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Commentator Retired, Zito Announces

Commentator Retired, Zito Announces
Commentator has been retired.

Tracy Farmer’s two-time Whitney Handicap (gr. I) winner Commentator has been retired after finishing third in his quest for his third win in the important Saratoga event, trainer Nick Zito announced on the morning of Aug. 9.

“He’s officially retired. We’ll let him go out on a high note,” Zito said a day after Bullsbay upset the Whitney field. “It would have been wonderful for him to win. Physically, there’s nothing wrong with him other than his age. Considering what he has to do to run back in those grade I races, we thought this was the best thing to do.”

Commentator set a brisk pace in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney for jockey John Velazquez before being passed with a furlong to run. The gelded son of Distorted Humor tired to third, beaten by three lengths.

The 8-year-old New York-bred finishes his 24-race career with 14 wins, a second-place finish and four third-place finishes with earnings of $2,049,845. Commentator started his career as a 3-year-old with a five-race winning streak.

NYRA is planning to bring Commentator back on track for one final time before the close of the Saratoga meet to give fans an opportunity to show their appreciation for the amazing gelding. The details have not yet been finalized.

Commentator first made a name for himself in 2005 when he defeated Horse of the Year and Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) champion Saint Liam in the Whitney. Zito believes last year’s Whitney win and the Massachusetts Handicap a race which he won easily by 14 lengths also rank as highlights of Commentator’s career.

“When he was on, he was good as any horse in America. I think the Mass ‘Cap, last year, proved that,” Zito said. “You know his record it’s fantastic. He earned over $2 million the hard way. He’s as gallant as he could be. He’s a real treasure.”

Sunday, August 9, 2009

For Monday 8-10-09 ...

Today I will be posting at E-Ponies Horse Forum!

Please feel free to join me ...

Best of Luck!
U.S. :cheers

Zenyatta Cuts Perfection Close in Hirsch Win


Unbeaten Zenyatta remained perfect in 12 starts, but she had her closest call yet in Del Mar's Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) Aug. 9. Forced to circle the field six wide on the turn behind a slow pace, the giant mare just managed to get up by a head over Anabaa's Creation.

Ridden perhaps a little overconfidently by regular jockey Mike Smith, the 1-5 shot Zenyatta got the job done in the final lunge after Anabaa's Creation, who stalked the deliberate pace of Lethal Heat, got a narrow advantage in deep stretch. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares was 1:43.24 on the Polytrack.

“Wasn’t that something! I thought I had it," Smith said. "But I’ve got to admit I underestimated the company we were keeping today. They made her run."

Zenyatta registered her sixth grade I win for trainer John Shirreffs and owners Jerry and Ann Moss and successfully defended her win last year in the Hirsch, when she was victorious by one length. She is three-for-three in 2009 and eight-for-eight at the distance.

“It was very, very close down there," said a relieved Shirreffs. "All the way down the stretch I’m hollering, ‘Get ‘em, Get ‘em.’ What I really liked about her race is that she had a lot of ground to make up, and she put her head down and kept making it up. She never picked her head up. She kept reaching out and running for the wire. That’s Zenyatta.”

Zenyatta's career bankroll swelled to $2,594,580 with the victory. She earned $180,000 for the win. Maverick Productions bred the dark bay In Kentucky. She is by Street CryVertigineux, by Kris S.

The winner paid $2.40, $2.20 and $2.10 and the $2 exacta with Anabaa's Creation ($7.60, $5.80) was $22.20. Lethal Heat was $5.20 to show.

Gio Ponti Much the Best in Arlington Million

Gio Ponti Much the Best in Arlington Million
Gio Ponti powers home in the Arlington Million.

Castleton Lyons’ Gio Ponti notched his fourth consecutive grade I victory Aug. 8 at Arlington Park, as he rolled to a 1 1/4-length win in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) (VIDEO) under Ramon Dominguez.

A 4-year-old son of Tale of the Cat , Gio Ponti solidified himself as the top turf horse in the country with his convincing score over a tough field, one that put him over the $2-million mark in career earnings. It was the ninth win in 14 lifetime starts for the bay colt and his seventh graded stakes triumph. He also earned an automatic berth to the Nov. 7 Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita and the Japan Cup (Jpn-I).
Christophe Clement, one of the nation’s best turf trainers for years, collected his first Arlington Million win.
"We were very patient with (Gio Ponti) when he was a 3-year-old and he keeps maturing and is a better 4-year-old,” said Clement. "There are many good races around and he could go in any one of them. Let’s just enjoy today.”
A confirmed closer, Gio Ponti stumbled coming out of the gate but quickly recovered and received a solid pace to run at in the 1 1/4-mile Million, as speedy Presious Passion broke away from the field of eight and posted fractions of :23.88, :48.44 and 1:14.23 under Elvis Trujillo. Gloria de Campeao, Einstein and Mr. Sidney stalked the pace through the backstretch, while Gio Ponti raced mid-pack. Presious Passion, the United Nations (gr. IT) winner last month at Monmouth Park, opened up a 10-length lead after a half-mile.
Gio Ponti’s lone setback in five starts in 2009 came in his season debut when he finished fifth in the Feb. 7 Strub (gr. I) on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride surface. Since then, he has rolled to grade I turf wins in the Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita, and the Manhattan and Man ‘o War handicaps, both at Belmont. He has now earned $2,133,800.
Bred in Kentucky by Shane Ryan’s Kilboy Estate, which is part of Castleton Lyons’ powerful Irish-based operation, Gio Ponti is out of the Alydar mare Chipeta Springs.
Sent off as the 3-2 favorite, the winner paid $5, $3.40, and $2.60. The exacta (6-3) returned $72.20 and the trifecta (6-3-4) was $889.20.