Red Rifle Blasts Through in Bowling Green
With four horses lined up across the course in the stretch, Red Rifle emerged from the two path and drew off to a clear victory in the $250,000 Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) Aug. 1 at Saratoga Race Course. Watch Video
With Javier Castellano showing the way, Twin Creeks Racing Stables homebred Red Rifle moved into the two path at mid-stretch, just outside Iron Power and inside Imagining, with War Dancerwidest in the four-horse tussle. Red Rifle proved to have one final gear, bravely punching through on his way to a second straight graded stakes win.
The race was marred by the catastrophic breakdown of Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Innovation Economy, who won the Belmont Gold Cup Invitationial Stakes June 5 on the turf at Belmont Park. Innovation Economy was euthanized after the race.
Red Rifle entered off a clear victory in the Dominion Day Stakes (gr. III) July 1 on the Woodbine Polytrack. The 5-year-old Giant's Causeway gelding completed the 1 3/8-mile race in 2:13.69 on firm turf, returning $15.40 to win, $6.60 to place, and $4 to show. War Dancer finished second, paying $4.10 and $2.80, while Imagining returned $2.90 to show.
A ground-saving trip early in the Bowling Green likely helped Red Rifle late.
"I was able to take advantage all the way inside on the rail," Castellano said. "In a long distance, on the grass, the most important thing is to save all the ground. And that's exactly what I did. He did it very professionally today and I'm very satisfied with the way he did it."
Oddly enough, the first six finishers were in order of program numbers, as the top three finishers were followed by No. 4 Iron Power, No. 5 Morning Calm, and No. 6 Golden Soul.
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher earned three graded stakes wins in the space of 35 minutes Saturday, taking the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. I) with Rock Fall at 5:15 p.m. EDT, where he also teamed with Castellano; the West Virginia Derby (gr. II) at 5:23 with Madefromlucky, and then the Bowling Green with Red Rifle at 5:50.
With his Bowling Green win on grass, Dominion Day victory on Polytrack, and his 2014 Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) score on theHawthorne Race Course main track, Red Rifle boasts graded stakes wins on turf, synthetic, and dirt surfaces.
"He's just a throwback kind of horse—he's hardy, he's tough. He's a gelding now, (so) we just need to look at the opportunities and place him where he fits," Pletcher said. "He won the Hawthorne Gold Cup last year, he just won a race on Polytrack at Woodbine and now on the turf. All options are on the table."
Red Rifle was bred in Kentucky by Twin Creeks and Tom and Nancy Clark.
Madefromlucky Gets Job Done in WV Derby
Cheyenne Stables and Mac Nichol'sMadefromlucky, out of the shadow of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, rallied nicely from off the pace to capture the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. II)Aug. 1 at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort. Watch Video
With Joe Bravo riding for trainer Todd Pletcher, Madefromlucky captured his second grade II stakes. In May he won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park. The 3-year-old colt by Lookin At Lucky , out of the Pulpit mare Home From Oz was bred in Kentucky by RMF Thoroughbreds.
"He's a special horse," Nichol said. "We've known that for a long time. We were looking forward to him running a big race today, because we thought this race would suit him and it didn't hurt that we didn't have to worry about American Pharoah."
The latter is entered in the Aug. 2 William Hill Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park for his first start since the June 6 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
The 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby drew a field of 11 that was reduced to nine after the scratches of Stanford and Tekton, who both raced in the July 31 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. Bettors settled on the right horse, as Madefromlucky was the slight 5-2 choice in a contentious field.
In a race that appeared loaded with speed, it was Cleveland Gold Cup winner Alliseeisgold who ended up with the lead—and he kept it through surprisingly easy fractions of :24.19 for the opening quarter-mile, :48.67 for a half-mile, and 1:13.01 for six furlongs. He was tracked by Bent On Bourbon and Thirtysilverpieces, while the eventual winner sat is sixth, about six lengths off the leader.
Despite the slow pace, the top three began to fade under pressure on the far turn. Souper Colossal and second choice Iron Fist rallied in tandem with Madefromlucky, and those three blew by into the lane. Souper Colossal grabbed a short advantage after a mile in 1:38.66, but Madefromlucky wore him down to win by 1 1/2 lengths. War Story, last most of the way, closed well for third, a half length behind Souper Colossal. Iron Fist was fourth.
The final time was 1:51.40 on a track rated fast. Madefromlucky paid $7.20 to win.
"Isn't Todd Pletcher the best?" Bravo yelled to crowd as he entered the winner's circle aboard Madefromlucky, who now has four wins, three seconds, and a third in 10 starts for earnings of $875,200.
"I was calm in knowing I had the best horse today," Bravo said. "He's such a relaxed, cool horse. You know this game. Let's just keep him sound and healthy."
Nichol said Madefromlucky wasn't 100% in the Belmont Stakes, but had rebounded well.
"When he's at the top of his game, he's full of himself," he said. "That's how he was when he won (the Peter Pan)."
"It's a real thrill," Dobson said. "I'm just thankful to be part of the horse. I'm very pleased with the job Todd Pletcher and his team has done with him, and Joe Bravo gave him a tremendous ride. Joe actually described the race beforehand and he followed it to a T."
The Derby was one of nine races on an all-stakes program at Mountaineer Saturday afternoon. The total pari-mutuel handle of $3,003,673 was up from $2,925,034 for nine races on the program last year.
Rock Fall Edges The Big Beast in Vanderbilt
Rock Fall continued his dazzling win streak and stepped up to the top level with a game performance in the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. I) Aug. 1 at Saratoga Race Course, edging grade I winner The Big Beast in a photo at the line. Watch Video
The 4-year-old son of Speightstown , who won the 2004 edition of the Vanderbilt for trainer Todd Pletcher, has not been defeated in six straight starts at the six-furlong distance and is 4-for-4 in 2015. Making his grade I debut, he would not allow 2014 King's Bishop (gr. I) winner The Big Beast past him, as they duked it out in the final strides.
"He finished powerfully and we were fortunate to be on the right side of a very close head bob," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "It's tough to win a photo against a horse as big as The Big Beast. If you're head-and-head, he's got a head on you. We got a fortunate bob and it was a great horse race."
It was the first grade I win for Stonestreet Stables' Rock Fall, who last time out won the June 5 True North Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park. Javier Castellano was in the irons aboard the bay colt, who closed from third to run down his game rival in the nick of time, while favored at even money in a field of seven.
"It was too close to call," Castellano said. "The bob could have gone either way. I was lucky it went my way."
The Big Beast, 7-2 second choice in his first start off a layup and racing for the first time since a fourth in the April 4 Carter Handicap (gr. I), held a determined second by a nose. Pacesetter Favorite Tale was third, two lengths behind a final time of 1:08.75 on a fast track.
Favorite Tale headed out to the early lead as expected in the Vanderbilt, with The Big Beast tracking a length back and Rock Fall keeping close about another length behind in third. The opening quarter went in :22.74 with a half in :45.31, before The Big Beast took over with a determined charge for home.
Rock Fall was in close pursuit, however, and hooked up with his more accomplished rival down the lane before catching him just in time.
"He was a really nice horse the way he did it today, off the pace," Castellano added. "There was a lot of speed in the race and he covered up perfect. Turning for home, I let him go outside. That's where he likes it and it paid off today. My horse fought back to win the race. I give all the credit to him."
"(In the stretch), I thought we had him, and then I thought he was coming back and he had us, and Javier said The Big Beast just re-rallied," Pletcher said. "It wasn't like Rock Fall was slowing down, they were coming home. The True North was a good field. These were some really top horses. ... This was a big win."
Trainer Anthony Dutrow said he was pleased with The Big Beast's effort under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez as well.
"I thought our horse was good. I thought Johnny (Velazquez) was good. I thought it was all good—and I thought we lost the bob. ... He broke well, like he does, and picked it up when Rock Fall came for him."
The winner returned $4, $3, and $2.40, while The Big Beast paid $4.10 and $2.80, with Favorite Tale bringing $3.20 at odds of 5-1. Salutos Amigos, Viva Majorca, Clearly Now, and Departing completed the order of finish.
Rock Fall was bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock, out of the Medaglia d'Oro mare Renda, and was a $250,000 purchase from the Woods Edge consignment at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga select yearling sale. His record now stands at six wins from seven starts for earnings of $509,180.
Angela Renee, Competitive Edge Drill at Spa
Todd Pletcher sent out several of his stable stars for workouts July 26 atSaratoga Race Course, including graded stakes winners Stopchargingmaria,Angela Renee, and Competitive Edge.
Breezing early in company, Stopchargingmaria and Angela Renee are both targeting graded stakes at the Spa. Stopchargingmaria, who swept the grade I Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama last summer at Saratoga, went four furlongs in a bullet :47.03. It was the best of 62 works at the distance and .09 seconds faster than Angela Renee.
Stopchargingmaria is being pointed to the $200,000 Shuvee Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares Aug. 2, and Angela Renee is expected to go next in the $500,000 Longines Test Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-old filly sprinters Aug. 8.
Also breezing a half-mile together on the main track were 2014 Hopeful (gr. I) winner Competitive Edge
(:48.34), who is on the list of probables to take on Triple Crown winner American Pharoah
in the next week's William Hill Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park
, and Long Branch Stakes winner Stanford
Graded stakes winners Palace Malice
(1:01.68) and Protonico
(1:01.76) were five-furlong workmates on the main track.
"I thought we had a really good morning," Pletcher said. "I was a little concerned when I woke up and it was raining a bit, but the track was in good shape and I thought we had some pretty powerful workouts this morning. I didn't see anything this morning that would deter anyone from pointing for the next spot."
Other notable workers for Pletcher were multiple grade I winnerConstitution
, unraced since taking the Donn Handicap (gr. I) Feb. 7, going four furlongs in :50.07; and 2-year-old filly Rachel's Valentina
. Under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, the daughter of championBernardini
, out of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra
, was clocked in :48.55 out of the gate with workmate Preppy
and has Pletcher ready to look for a debut spot.
"I thought she worked very well," Pletcher said. "She's not super quick away from the gate, but she makes up for it once she gets going. She's got a big, long stride to her and it seems like the farther she goes, the better she gets. We'll see how she comes out of it, and look through the condition book, and try and figure something out."
Uncle Vinny Placed First in Sanford Stakes
A late move into second place by Uncle Vinny paid off, when the son of Uncle Mo was placed first in the $150,000Sanford Stakes (gr. III) July 25 atSaratoga Race Course after Magna Lightwas disqualified from first. Watch Video
Magna Light ran a perfect race until he shied from three left-handed cracks from jockey Jose Ortiz and veered out about five paths. Stewards ruled that when Magna Light veered out just past the eighth pole, the son of Magna Graduate interfered with Percolator, who was attempting to rally under jockey Kendrick Carmouche. Magna Light also appeared to drift back into Percolator's path after veering out.
The stewards took a few moments, but soon posted the inquiry and Carmouche also objected. They ruled interference and placed Magna Light third, behind Main Line Racing Stable's and John Servis's Percolator, who entered off a June 6 victory in a maiden special weight race at Monmouth Park.
Starlight Racing's Uncle Vinny and rider John Velazquez avoided any of that trouble with an outside rally that saw him get by Percolator late, a half-length at the wire, a key move in the six-furlong race for 2-year-olds, as it would determine the winner.
"Perfect trip. He was running coming down the lane," Velazquez said. "We were getting to the point where he was rolling from the eighth pole to the wire and he inherited the win. Nothing I can say. He definitely was coming running. (Magna Light) ran a great race, too."
Uncle Vinny bounced back with the victory after he finished sixth as the favorite in the June 5 Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park. He earned that favoritism with a 4 1/2-length maiden special weight victory there in his debut. Uncle Vinny is the first stakes winner for freshman sire Uncle Mo , who stood for $25,000 this season at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky.
Uncle Vinny paid $10 to win, $5.80 to place, and $5.30 to show, while Percolator returned $17.60 to place and $11.20 to show. Magna Light delivered $8.60 to show. Tremont winner Cocked and Loaded, the 2-1 favorite, weakened late and finished sixth.
Owned by Michael Dubb and several other partners, Magna Light raced smoothly before the stretch incident, leading the field through a quarter-mile in :22.52 and a half-mile in :45.98. He reached the wire first in 1:10.92 on a fast track, three-quarters of a length in front of Uncle Vinny.
"I thought they were going to look at it, but not take it down," said Magna Light's trainer Rudy Rodriguez. "He's a good horse. Unfortunately we got taken down. We have to get over it, but it's a shame. You come to Saratoga to bring the horses the best way you can."
In stewards' notes posted to NYRA.com, the officials ruled that Magna Light shifted out several paths just past the eithth pole, forcing Percolator to steady, then drifted back down toward Percolator in the final strides.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, who picked up his sixth Sanford victory, Uncle Vinny launched his move in the far turn and sustained it to the wire.
"I really, really do feel bad for Rudy Rodriguez, Michael Dubb and all his connections, because they really did run a winning race," said Starlight's Don Lucarelli. "It's unfortunate to have to win them this way. We ran huge, too, but (Magna Light), today, was a better horse. Bottom line is, we get to cash a ticket. It is what it is."
Bred in Florida by Gilbert Campbell, Uncle Vinny is out of the stakes-winning Untuttable mare Arealhotlover. Starlight purchased Uncle Vinny for $175,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Stanford Grabs Stakes Win in Long Branch
After finishing second in his two most recent stakes tries, Stanford took care of business Saturday, July 11 to win the $103,000 Long Branch Stakes atMonmouth Park. Watch Video
Sent off as the 1-2 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds, Stanford rallied three wide off the final turn to seize the lead and then held off Souper Colossal, who had led early and proved determined in the stretch, to post the 1 1/4-length victory.
Trainer Todd Pletcher had considered M.V. Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Stonestreet Stable's Stanford for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) after the Malibu Moon colt finished a close second to International Star in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II). But Pletcher opted to skip that race and Stanford ultimately missed the Triple Crown races before returning June 6 with a runner-up finish to Japan in the Easy Goer Stakes on the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) undercard June 6.
In Saturday's race, Stanford raced just off the pace set by Live Oak Plantation's Souper Colossal, who went a half-mile in :48.01 and six furlongs in 1:12.63. Coming off the turn, Souper Colossal was first challenged by longshot Total Joint but Stanford quickly made it three across and surged to the lead.
Winning jockey Joe Bravo believes Stanford could put together a nice summer and fall campaign after winning the local prep race for the Aug. 2 William Hill Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I).
"He is a really classy horse. They were going an honest pace up front. I asked him to go a little bit before the quarter pole to just get him going and he answered really nicely," Bravo said. "If he comes back for the Haskell, the good thing is that we know he likes the course."
Favored Stanford paid $3 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show while Souper Colossal returned $3 and $2.60. Total Joint returned $4 to show.
Iamahandsome Man was pulled up and vanned off. A track spokesperson said the son of Musket Man appeared to be standing fine before loading on the van.
Stakes Winner Temper Mint Patty Tops F-T Sale
Fasig-Tipton Kentucky saved the best for last at its July horses of racing age session, when the last horse through the ring, Temper Mint Patty, brought the session's top price of $350,000.
The 3-year-old daughter of Congrats , whose victories include the New York Oaks for New York-breds, was purchased by Mike Repole. Jacob West of Taylor Made Sales Agency signed the ticket on behalf of Repole.
The filly consigned by Bluewater Sales will be sent to trainer Todd Pletcher and likely be pointed toward state-bred stakes.
Trained by Jeremiah Englehart for Mark Stanley, Temper Mint Patty increased her earnings to $274,050 when she rolled to a 9 1/2-length victory in the New York Oaks July 3 at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack. She was supplemented to the F-T sale following that victory.
Bred by Gallaghers Stud, Temper Mint Patty was initially purchased by Becky Thomas for $30,000 from the Denali Stud consignment to the 2013 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale and then resold to Stanley for $95,000 at the F-T Florida March sale of 2-year-olds in training.
Another recent stakes winner added to the sale later, Come to Mischief, a 2-year-old daughter of Into Mischief who won the My Dear Stakes at Woodbine June 26, was bought back by her connections for $500,000.
Come to Mischief races for Horen'n Around Stable and Martha Gonzalez.
"We were trying to get a little more money and didn't get it," said Nicholas Gonzalez, who trains the filly. "She's a real nice filly and got great vet reports (at the sale). In this market, we just thought she was worth a little more than that. So we're going to take the next step and try to make her worth a little more."
Gonzalez said Come to Mischief would either return to her base atWoodbine or be sent to Saratoga Race Course for her next start.
Another high-profile buyback was multiple graded-placed War Story, who was returned to Loooch Racing Stable and Glenn Ellis after failing to meet his reserve on a final bid of $545,000. Trained by Tom Amoss, War Story finished second in the Risen Star (gr. II) and LeComte Stakes (gr. III) and third in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II). After checking in 16th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), the son ofNorthern Afleet was given a breather, returning to be fourth in the June 20 Ohio Derby.
The gross and average were down, but the median was up this year from the 2014 auction that was boosted by horses from the dispersal of Eugene Melnyk's Melnyk Racing Stables. Melynk's Bedford Landtopped that sale when purchased by Three Chimneys Farm for $1,075,000.
This year, 65 horses were sold for $3,996,000, an average price of $61,477. A year ago, 109 horses grossed $8,426,000. This year's $48,000 median price was well above the $35,000 figure a year ago. There were 31 horses bought back this year.
The horses of racing age sale was preceded by the July selected yearlings sale.
Second-highest price of $270,000 was paid by West Point Stables for three-time grade III winner Divine Oath, a 4-year-old son of Broken Vow who has earned $464,210, was sold for $270,000. West Poinit's Terry Finley said the colt will be campaigned in New York, possibly with trainer Christophe Clement.
Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, the colt was trained by Todd Pletcher for Let's Go Stable to win five of 14 starts to date. Bred in Kentucky by Sanford B. Robertson, Divine Oath was a $200,000 yearling purchase by Pletcher.
Dixiana Farms went to $250,000 to acquire Lutine Belle, a 3-year-old daughter of Bellamy Road who has won three of 10 starts and earned $114,950. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for KMN Racing, Lutine Belle won the Blue Norther Stakes at Santa Anita Park Jan. 1.
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm and John R. Penn, the filly had been purchased for $40,000 by Litt Bloodstock from the Taylor Made Sales consignment to the 2013 Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale.
Got Lucky Surges to Molly Pitcher Victory
Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and Philip Steinberg's homebred Got Lucky turned the tables on rival Stiffed in emphatic fashion July 3, pouncing first and pulling away to win by 5 1/2 lengths in the $150,000 Molly Pitcher (gr. III) atMonmouth Park. Watch Video
Off at 1-5 odds under Paco Lopez, the 4-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy stalked early leader J's Two Step Halo in third and blew by coming out of the final turn in the 1 1/16-mile dirt test. Stiffed closed from last in the six-horse field to finish second, but could not make up significant ground on the winner.
Last time out, Stiffed was a half-length better than Got Lucky in the Monmouth Beach Stakes. The Molly Pitcher victory is Got Lucky's first graded stakes score.
J's Two Step Halo set early fractions of :24.46, :49.85, and 1:14.38 through a six furlongs, before Got Lucky took command, running the mile in 1:38.30 and hitting the wire in 1:44.12.
"I knew Stiffed would be coming to the outside again," Lopez said. "This time the pace was a little easier for us. We were able to sit comfortably just off the pace along the backstretch. She wanted to go a little early, but I had to hold her back. Once we were in the clear I let her go, she sprinted away perfectly."
J's Two Step Halo held to finish third, 4 1/4 lengths behind Stiffed.Lucky Liberty was fourth, followed by Oasis At Midnight and Mary n' Eileen to complete the order of finish.
The winner paid $2.60, $2.10, and $2.10 across the board. Stiffed returned $2.80 and $2.40, while J's Two Step Halo brought $5.
"She was impressive today," said Anthony Sciametta Jr., assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "She stumbled just a bit out of the gate, but seemed to overcome that just fine. It looked like she was on cruise control out there and (Lopez) just steered her in the right direction."
Got Lucky was bred in Kentucky, out of the Deputy Minister mareMalka. She has a 4-5-0 record from 13 starts and earnings of $451,340.
Race Day Heads Loaded Salvator Mile
Matthew Schera's Race Day, winner of the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) and Razorback Handicap (gr. III) in consecutive graded scores for trainer Todd Pletcher, is the 123-pound highweight for the $150,000 Salvator Mile (gr. III) July 5 at Monmouth Park.
The 4-year-old Tapit colt will have Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons from post 8 in a field of 10 for the mile test, which attracted the likes of George and Lori Hall's old-timer Pants On Fire, Crossed Sabres Farm's grade II winner Valid, Fox Hill Farm's grade II winner Coup de Grace, and multiple grade III winner Bradester.
The Salvator Mile will be broadcast live by Fox Sports 1 along with the United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Monmouth Park , Sunday, July 05, 2015, Race 10
Red Rifle Rallies to Dominion Day Victory
Red Rifle secured his first stakes victory of the 2015 season when he rallied on the outside to win the $150,000Dominion Day Stakes (Can-III) July 1 atWoodbine. Watch Video
With the 1 1/4-length victory, Twin Creeks Racing Stables homebred Red Rifle ended a four-race skid that dated back to his clear victory in last year's Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (gr. II) atHawthorne Race Course. The 5-year-oldGiant's Causeway gelding bounced back from a ninth-place finish in the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes June 5 at Belmont Park.
Sent off the 2-1 favorite, Red Rifle settled in sixth under Alan Garcia, while Patrioticandproud cruised through a half-mile in :47.26, six furlongs in 1:12, and still held a clear lead through a mile in 1:36.61. But Red Rifle had launched his rally on the outside before the quarter pole, while last year's Ontario Derby (Can-III) winner Florida Wonwould soon find room inside under Patrick Husbands.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Red Rifle took command at the eighth pole and had enough to hold off Live Oak Plantation's Florida Won, completing Wednesday's 1 1/4-mile race in 2:01.93. Veteran Pender Harbour finished third, giving Canada's champion 3-year-old male of 2011 the 22nd stakes placing of his career.
Garcia, who was riding Red Rifle for the first time, said multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer Pletcher gave him some good advice before the race.
"He told me let him run his race," said Garcia, who earned his meet-leading seventh stakes win at Woodbine. "(He said) If he breaks good, then go on with him. He's got a beautiful stride and can run all day long. He broke a step slow, so I said, 'let me be patient and come running.'
"Unbelievable, today, this horse. Pletcher also said if he's rating and he's happy, don't worry about what position you are in."
Red Rifle paid $6.40, $3.50, and $3, while Florida Won returned $3.80 and $3.20. Pender Harbour paid $2.70 to show.
Bred in Kentucky by Twin Creeks and Tom and Nancy Clark, Red Rifle is out of the stakes-winning Gulch mare May Night, who also has produced stakes winner Notte d'Oro, by Medaglia d'Oro .
Golden Lad Popular Winner of Cornhusker
Heavily favored Golden Lad got by 31-1Ecleto Red late to win the $300,000Cornhusker Handicap (gr. III) June 27 atPrairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Watch Video
Ridden by Javier Castellano for owner E. Paul Robsham Stables and trainer Todd Pletcher, Golden Lad sat in third through moderate fractions set by Ecleto Red in the 1 1/8-mile race, before making his bid on the final turn. He surged past Ecleto Red, who had won his last two starts at Prairie Meadows, near the wire to win in 1:49.86 on a track rated fast.
Mid-Atlantic shipper Page McKenney, second in the grade III Pimlico Special in his last start, finished third after a wide trip, with Carvefourth. Golden Lad paid $4.60 to win.
Castellano hopped a plane to Iowa from New York and arrived in time to win the grade III Iowa Derby aboard Bent On Bourbon. He then won the Cornhusker in the next race.
"He's very competitive," said Castellano, who rode Golden Lad to a five-length win in the Mountainview Stakes at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in his previous start. "I've learned a lot about him. He has done phenomenal in his last two starts."
Golden Lad, a 5-year-old horse by Medaglia d'Oro out of theSeeking the Gold mare Broadway Gold, was bred in Kentucky by Robsham Stables. He now has eight wins in 15 starts.
Dame Dorothy Speeds to Bed O' Roses Victory
Bobby Flay's Dame Dorothy added another victory to her already-impressive résumé with a 1 1/2-length win in the $150,000 Bed O' Roses Handicap (gr. III)June 20 at Belmont Park. Watch Video
The 4-year-old daughter of Bernardini is now two-for-two at Belmont and four-for-four at the Bed O' Roses distance of seven furlongs, where she also won the Humana Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downslast time out May 2. Jockey Javier Castellano was aboard for both victories.
Dame Dorothy received a lucky break when apparent pace-setterRoom for Me lunged at the start and was left at the gate by the rest of the five-horse field.
That allowed the Dame Dorothy, trained by Todd Pletcher, to settle into an easy lead, opening up fractions of :23.96 and :47.65 through a half-mile, while Street Story stalked a length back.
"I didn't expect to be on the lead, but after (Room for Me) didn't break out of the gate, I took a shot," Castellano said. "When the only speed horse didn't break, I was able to dictate the pace."
Whispering Oaks Farm's Street Story provided a challenge in the stretch, nearly going head-to-head with Dame Dorothy, but the 3-5 favorite battled back on the rail to prevail by a comfortable margin. Longshot Expression (14-1) was six lengths back in third.
La Verdad, another speed threat who was 2-1 on the morning line, was also a key scratch before the race. Room for Me finished fourth, followed by Tahoe Tigress.
"The race didn't unfold as we anticipated it would, when Room for Me missed the break, but anyways, it worked out well," Pletcher said. "Certainly, with La Veradad coming out, it was a significant scratch. When we originally picked up the overnight, we didn't anticipate being on the lead, but it worked out."
Dame Dorothy finished off the seven furlongs in 1:24.19 and paid $3.50, $2.20, and $2.10 across the board. Street Story brought $3.40 and $2.60. Expression delivered $3.20 to show.
Bred in Pennsylvania by Derry Meeting Farm, out of the Woodmanmare Vole Vole Monamour, the filly now has $709,740 in earnings and a 7-1-1 record from nine career starts.
"My filly likes to be competitive," Castellano said. "Every time we see a horse, she goes forward."
Dame Dorothy Returns in Bed O' Roses
Humana Distaff (gr. I) winner Dame Dorothy is scheduled to make her first start since that May 2 victory at Churchill Downs when she faces an expected seven other older fillies and mares in the $150,000 Bed O' Roses Handicap (gr. III)June 20 at Belmont Park.
A winner of six of eight career starts, Bobby Flay's Dame Dorothy scored at the top level in the seven-furlong Humana Distaff, when the 4-year-old Bernardini filly edged last year's champion female sprinter Judy the Beauty by a neck. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Pennsylvania-bred will try seven furlongs again Saturday, a distance at which she boasts three wins in as many starts—including this year's Florida Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream Park.
"She's doing well and we decided to run her in this spot," Pletcher said. "She's been very consistent and she's coming off of her biggest win last time going seven-eighths so it seems like that might be the trick."
Carrying just one pound less than 123-pound highweight Dame Dorothy will be the speedy New York-bred La Verdad, who will try to pick up her third straight graded stakes victory this season. The daughter of Yes It's True opened her 5-year-old season with a victory in the Distaff Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack followed by a May 16 score in the Vagrancy Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont.
Lady Sheila Stable's La Verdad has won five of her six career starts at Belmont, but in her third start at the distance, she will be looking for her first career win at seven furlongs.
Also entering Saturday's race off a graded stakes win is Whispering Oaks Farm's Street Story, a 4-year-old daughter of Street Cry who won the Winning Colors Stakes (gr. III) May 25 at Churchill.
Belmont Park, Saturday, June 20, 2015, Race 8
Curalina Wins First Stakes in Acorn
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Curalina, making her first start in stakes company, prevailed in a very deep field for the $750,000 Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park June 6 (VIDEO).
The 3-year-old daughter of Curlin , with John Velazquez in the irons, won by a neck over longshot By the Moon, who is owned by Jay Em Ess Stable. Wonder Gal finished 4 1/2 lengths back in third. The final time in the mile race was 1:35.13 over a dirt course rated fast. The winner is trained by Todd Pletcher and was ridden by John Velazquez.
Curalina paid $16.40, $8.90, and $6.20. By the Moon returned $26.40 and $13.40. Wonder Gal delivered $9.70 to show.
"She's a filly we'd had high hopes for for a long time," Pletcher said. "We felt she was one of our best 2-year-old fillies last year, unfortunately she had some baby stuff that she needed some time off for."
The filly faced some challenges right at the start of the Acorn, having gotten squeezed from both sides right after the break. She got clear and stalked the pace set early by Promise Me of Silver, who took the field through an opening quarter in :22.89 and a half in :45.42. Miss Ella tracked a length behind in second until the turn when she took the lead briefly.
As the field moved through the turn, By the Moon began to rally and had a clear and widening lead at the top of the stretch. About an eighth of a mile from the wire By the Moon was sailing in front with Curalina and Wonder Gal hooked up two lengths back. As Curalina and Wonder Gal battled, they ate away at By the Moon's lead. Curalina broke free and chased down the leader for the win.
"We ended up far back," said Velazquez. "I put her in the clear, and she got a little bit rank on the backstretch. I let her do a little bit and tried to settle her on the turn, which she did, and she finished up well."
Michelle Nevin, trainer of Samantha Siegel's homebred By the Moon, said she was very happy with her filly's performance.
"She ran a huge race," Nevin said. "It's unfortunate we could not hang on for the win, but I have nothing to complain about."
The final order of finish was Danzatrice, Oceanwave, Bar of Gold, Miss Ella, Calamity Kate, Condo Commando, Promise Me Silver, Light the City, and Shook Up.
Shook Up, who finished second in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), was vanned off after the race. She had an inflatable cast put on her right front leg.
Coach Inge Outruns V. E. Day in Brooklyn
Repole Stable's Coach Inge and jockey John Velazquez outran 2014 Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner V. E. Day for a game neck victory in the Brooklyn Invitational (gr. II) on the Belmont Stakes presented by DraftKings (gr. I) June 6 card (VIDEO).
Coach Inge, who provided trainer Todd Pletcher with his first stakes win on the card, was always forwardly placed, battling early with longshot Call Me George, as the large field went through the mile in 1:38.80, with Sky Kingdomand jockey Victor Espinoza tracking in third.
Rounding the second turn in the 1 1/2-mile test over a fast main track, Coach Inge, Call Me George, and Sky Kingdom were closely bunched, as V. E. Day made a strong move on the outside. Those four battled into the top of the stretch before Coach Inge and V. E. Day pulled away from the rest of the field. Coach Inge led throughout the length of the stretch, with V. E. Day pressing all the way, but eventually prevailed.
"For a horse that went all the way around, kind of head-and-head with (Call Me George) in the backstretch, he put in a good fight, and he put in another fight down the lane," Velazquez said. "That's a lot of guts."
Coach Inge, coming off a 12 1/2-length romp in allowance optional claiming company, completed the distance in 2:27.17. He paid $7.90, $4.30, and $3.20. V. E. Day, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, was worth $5.00 and $3.60, while Sky Kingdom, trained by Bob Baffert, was another 5 1/2 lengths back and paid $3.10. The top two combined for a $39 exacta.
The Brooklyn marked the stakes debut for Coach Inge, who was making his 10th start. It took the gelded son of Big Brown five attempts to break his maiden and he has subsequently had three victories.
"He came in off a very powerful allowance race and we just kind of had a feeling he'd handle the mile and a half, so we've kinda been targeting this for a while," Pletcher said. "I'll tell you, it was a heck of a horse race."
The winner's purse of $220,000 improved his bankroll to $376,177.
Coach Inge was bred in Kentucky by Paul Pompa, Jr. and was a $150,000 purchase at the 2013 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March sale of 2-year-olds in training.
Rock Fall Keeps Streak Alive in True North
Stonestreet Stables' Rock Fall earned his fifth straight victory and first graded stakes win June 5, taking the $250,000True North Stakes (gr. II) by 3 3/4 lengths at Belmont Park (VIDEO).
The 4-year-old Speightstown colt completed six furlongs in 1:08.37 on a fast track while favored heavily at odds of 6-5 in a seven-horse field. It was his first start for trainer Todd Pletcher since taking an April 18 allowance by nine lengths going the same distance atKeeneland.
"When he broke his maiden last year, I thought he as going to be a good horse, and then he followed it up with a nice allowance win," Pletcher said. "He hat to take a little time off, but to win five in a row now is pretty hard to do, especially sprinting. He really found his groove."
Jockey Javier Castellano allowed Rock Fall to find his natural rhythm from his post on the far outside while Favorite Tale scooted out to lead the group. As a quarter went in :22.35, the colt moved up to third, his sights set on the frontrunner and on the pace-pressing Eastwood.
Heading around the turn through a :45.01 half, that trio was briefly three across the track, but Rock Fall kicked into second gear after straightening for home and drew off while clocking five-eighths in :56.48.
Stallwalkin' Dude came from last to get second, while Dads Caps also closed a neck back for third.
"This is a special hose," Castellano said. "You can do whatever you want with him. Everything worked out perfect for us."
Rock Fall returned $4.40, $3.10, and $2.40 while Stallwalkin' Dude brought $5.30 and $3.40. Dads Caps paid $2.80. Eastwood, Favorite Tale, Clearly Now, and Tenango completed the order of finish. Captain Serious scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock out of the stakes-winning Medaglia d'Oro mare Renda, Rock Fall was a $250,000 purchase from the Woods Edge consignment at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga select yearling sale. The dark bay or brown runner improved his record to those five wins from six starts for earnings of $299,180.
Competitive Edge Provides Class in Stephens
Competitive Edge puts his undefeated record on the line in the $500,000 Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park June 6.
Fresh off of a powerful score in the Pat Day Mile (gr. III) at Churchill Downs May 2, Competitive Edge is one of six talented 3-year-olds entered in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens.
NOVAK: Competitive Edge Takes Pat Day Mile
Owned by Nancy Favreau, Kathy Psoinos, and Michael Tabor, Competitive Edge began his career by breaking his maiden by 10 1/4 lengths in his debut at Saratoga Race Course in July of last year.
In just his second start, Competitive Edge won the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga by 5 3/4 lengths, but suffered a hairline fracture to his left-front foot, ending his 2014 campaign.
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, Competitive Edge didn't make his 3-year-old debut until March 27, when he easily took the Tamarac Stakes by 8 1/4 lengths at Gulfstream Park.
From there, trainer Todd Pletcher sent the son of Super Saver to the Pat Day Mile and watched the colt set the stakes record, when he completed the mile 1:34.18.
Competitive Edge drew post 3 and will be ridden by John Velazquez, who has ridden the colt in all four career starts.
Chalk Racing's Ready for Rye will look to rebound in the Woody Stephens after tiring to third as the favorite in the April 4 Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Prior to the race, Ready for Rye upset the Mar. 7 Swale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream, when he took the field gate-to-wire, defeating favored Daredevil.
The 3-year-old son of City Zip has been working steadily for his return to the races for trainer Tom Albertrani and might be the one to catch breaking from the rail under Luis Saez.
The gelding already owns a victory at Belmont, where he broke his maiden Oct. 11.
Besides saddling Competitive Edge, Pletcher will also start Two Weeks Off in the Woody Stephens, a month after the colt weakened to third as the favorite in the May 9 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II).
Two Weeks Off be back to seven furlongs Saturday, however, the distance at which he is two-for-two, breaking his maiden at Saratoga Aug. 30 and scoring in an allowance race at Keeneland April 4.
Two Weeks Off will be ridden by Javier Castellano and will leave from post 4.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/92384/competitive-edge-provides-class-in-stephens#ixzz3cBdu25JQ
Five Aim for First Stakes Score in Easy Goer
A pair of colts best known to this point in their careers for strong runner-up finishes in graded stakes this spring, Stanford and Donworth, head a field of five 3-year-olds in the $150,000 WinStar Farm Easy Goer Stakes that will open the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) day of racing June 6 at Belmont Park.
Stonestreet Stables, M.V. Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith's Stanford will be making his first start since finishing a close second in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) March 28 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The son of Malibu Moon led most of that 1 1/8-mile race before getting edged late by International Star.
Trainer Todd Pletcher had considered starting Stanford in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), but ultimately opted to skip the Derby and the Triple Crown races.
Regis Racing's Donworth finished second to Divining Rod in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III) April 11 at Keeneland and the son of Tiznow enters Saturday's 1 1/16-mile test off a third-place finish to Fame and Power in the Sir Barton Stakes May 16 at Pimlico Race Course.
While the field doesn't feature a previous stakes winner, two other Easy Goer horses are stakes-placed in Wounded Warrior Stables' Combat Diver, who finished a close second in this year's Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park; and Repole Stable's Nonna's Boy, who enters off a runner-up finish in the May 1 Gold Fever Stakes at Belmont.
Rounding out the field is Barry Schwartz's Japan, who registered a seven-length maiden victory April 30 at Churchill Downs.
Belmont Park, Saturday, June 06, 2015, Race 1
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/92376/five-aim-for-first-stakes-score-in-easy-goer#ixzz3cBf2YcjF
Pletcher Seeking Third Belmont Stakes
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) twice and finished second four times, has three opportunities to improve on that record in the June 6 renewal of the classic at Belmont Park.
As of May 31, Pletcher plans to run Carpe Diem, Madefromlucky, and Materiality in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont and will make rider decisions by June 2.
The three, who breezed May 29, walked the shedrow Sunday, as Pletcher continued preparations for his stable that will have as many as 19 runners during the June 5-6 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
Carpe Diem, the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner owned by WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stables, sat out the Xpressbet.com Preakness Stakes (gr. I) after finishing 10th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Alto Racing's Materiality also sat out the Preakness after he got off to a poor start and finished well to be sixth in the Derby.
Madefromlucky, owned by Cheyenne Stables and Mac Nichol, ran fourth in American Pharoah's Arkansas Derby (gr. I) win and then won the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont, the same race used by Tonalist as a prep for his 2014 Belmont victory.
"I can't make an excuse for Carpe Diem (in the Derby), other than the fact he may not have relished the Churchill Downs surface," Pletcher said. "We've seen horses over the years who didn't like it in the past.
"Materiality unfortunately missed the break (in the Derby), but closed well after that. Both have trained well since the Derby. Madefromlucky has a win over the (Belmont) track in the Peter Pan, which has been a good Belmont prep in years past, so that's encouraging. We think he'll handle the mile and a half."
In addition to not having his jockey assignments, Pletcher said he will await the June 3 post position draw to try to come up with a race strategy for each in the Belmont.
Pletcher won his first Belmont with the filly Rags to Riches in 2007 and in 2013 he sent out Palace Malice for his second win in the classic.
His runner-up efforts were with Bluegrass Cat (2006), Dunkirk (2009), Stay Thirsty (2011), and Commissioner (2014).
"Commissioner's beat last year was as tough of a beat you will take in any race, much less a classic," Pletcher said. "To essentially lead every step of the way, except for the last one—that was a tough beat.
"Stay Thirsty's beat was actually pretty tough, too," he continued. "And Dunkirk, he ran very well, and led most of the way. Our results overall have been very good (in the Belmont), but we're kind of a length away from having won four or five of these."
In addition to his Belmont three, here are Pletcher's other Belmont Festival probables:
June 5: Uncle Vinny, $250,000 Tremont Stakes; Enchantress, $150,000 Jersey Girl Stakes; Eastwood and Rock Fall, $250,000 True North (gr. II); and Red Rifle and Unitarian, $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational.
June 6: Micromanage and Coach Inge, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational (gr. II); Stopchargingmaria, $1 million Ogden Phipps (gr. I); General a Rod and Jack Milton, $1 million Knob Creek Manhattan Stakes (gr. IT); Competitive Edge and Two Weeks Off, $500,000 Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II); Curlina, $750,000 Acorn Stakes (gr. I); and Stanford and Nonna's Boy, $150,000 WinStar Farm Easy Goer Stakes.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/92293/pletcher-seeking-third-belmont-stakes#ixzz3cBgrEFsR
Carpe Diem, Madefromlucky Work in Company
Carpe Diem and Madefromlucky, a pair of colts trained by Todd Pletcher, worked a half-mile in company May 29 at Belmont Park. Both are under consideration for the June 6 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and a bid at thwarting American Pharoah's bid for the Triple Crown.
Carpe Diem, a grade I-winning son of Giant's Causeway , recorded a half-mile of :47.66 (the third fastest of 33 on the day) for the four furlongs while Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) winner Madefromlucky got the trip in :47.84 (co-sixth fastest)
Carpe Diem, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) April 4 at Keeneland, was tenth behind American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stables' runner has won four of six starts and has earned $1,519,800. He is out of the Unbridled's Song mare Rebridled Dreams.
Madefromlucky, a one-length winner of the May 9 Peter Pan at Belmont, was second behind American Pharoah in the March 14 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) and was fourth behind the dual classic winner in the April 11 Arkansas Derby (gr. I). This was his second move since the Peter Pan. He went five furlongs in a bullet :59.01 May 22.
Madefromlucky, by Lookin At Lucky —Home From Oz, by Pulpit, is owned by Cheyenne Stables and Mac Nichol. Home From Oz is a full sister to leading sire Tapit .
Another top Pletcher 3-year-old, the unbeaten Competitive Edge, also worked May 29. The son of Super Saver went four furlongs in :48.87. The winner of last year's Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), Competitive Edge won the Pat Day Mile (gr. III) at Churchill Downs on Derby day in his last outing.
Last year's Belmont winner, Tonalist (by Tapit), worked five furlongs in 1:01.23 for trainer Christophe Clement.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/92241/carpe-diem-madefromlucky-work-in-company#ixzz3bYPVYVZY
Materiality, Frosted Drill Toward Belmont
Materiality and Frosted, two candidates for the June 6 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) worked a half-mile May 29 at Belmont Park. The moves came later in the day following the early-morning efforts put in by Carpe Diem and Madefromlucky.
HAMMONDS: Carpe Diem, Madefromlucky Work in Company
Materiality, the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) winner, got the slightly better time, getting his four furlongs in :47.78, the fourth-fastest of 33 of the day. Materiality, Carpe Diem, and Madefromlucky are trained by Todd Pletcher.
Materiality was sixth behind American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
The work was his third since the Derby over Belmont's main track. He went five furlongs in 1:00.04 May 22 and four furlongs in :49.03 May 16.
Godolphin Racing's Frosted, winner of the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) and fourth in the Derby, worked a half-mile in :47.84. The move was the co-sixth-fastest of 33 on the day at the trip.
Frosted, a son of Tapit —Fast Cookie, by Deputy Minister, is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. The May 29 work was the colt's third since the Derby. He went five furlongs in 1:01.45 May 22.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/92252/materiality-frosted-drill-toward-belmont#ixzz3bd1Me3vu
Race Day Excels in Oaklawn 'Cap
Race Day Excels in Oaklawn 'Cap
Photo: Coady Photography
Race Day wins the Oaklawn Handicap.
Schera purchased the gray son of Tapit
at the 2014 Keeneland November sale for $285,000 and transferred the colt to the care of Todd Pletcher. Since that purchase, Race Day has won three of his last four starts, also taking the March 14 Razorback Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn.
"It certainly looks like that," said Schera, after being asked if the horse was a good purchase. "He's done everything right since we got him."
Breaking alertly from the rail under John Velazquez, Race Day was involved from the start, battling with Carve
through a half-mile in :46.71 and into the stretch, before drawing off to score by 3 3/4 lengths as the 6-5 favorite.
"It worked out perfect," Velazquez said. "We went a little quicker than I expected to, but we had no choice to be up front. We got good position going into the first turn and I tried to save enough horse for the run home. He did everything so easy coming to the quarter pole. When I asked him right at the eighth pole he responded. Very proud of the way he ran today."
It was also the first grade II win for Race Day, who has now won five of eight career starts, with earnings of $610,450.
"It was a super effort," said Pletcher, who also saddled Lawyer Ron to victory in the 2007 Oaklawn Handicap.
After the race Schera said Race Day may try grade I competition next in the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap from Belmont Park
on June 6, as part of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) undercard.
"It's very exciting," Schera said. "We're thinking the Met Mile next and see how he comes out of it. We always put the horse first."
"I'm not really going to complain," said jockey Jesus Castanon, aboard Carve. "He was really in the bridle today and was happy doing it. He was up there with the winner for most of the race and really tried. He was second best today."
Race Day ran the 1 1/8-mile event in 1:47.93 and returned $4.40 to win, $3.60 to place and $2.80 to show.
Carve paid $7.20 to place and $4.80 to show, while Tapiture returned $3.20 to show.
Race Day was bred in Kentucky by James Miller and is out of the More Than Ready mare Rebalite.
The gray 4-year-old began his career under the care of trainer Kellyn Gorder, finishing third in his debut on Aug. 8 of last year at Ellis Park
. He then finished second at Ellis on Aug. 29, before finally breaking his maiden in his third career start at Keeneland
on Oct. 3.
He then won an allowance race at Churchill Downs
on Nov. 2 before being placed in the sale.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/91215/race-day-excels-in-oaklawn-cap#ixzz3X67Eku5L
Protonico Bounces Back with Ben Ali Score
Protonico Bounces Back with Ben Ali Score
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
After being eased during his seasonal debut in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) Feb. 7 at Gulfstream Park, Protonico bounced back with an easy victory in the $150,000 Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) April 11 at Keeneland.
With the front-running victory, Sumaya U.S. Stables' Protonico secured the third graded stakes win of his career. The 4-year-old son of Giant's Causeway won last year's Discovery Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack and the Smarty Jones Stakes (gr. III) at Parx Racing.
With a pair of recent bullet works signaling his readiness, including a four-furlong breeze in :47 2/5 April 5 at Keeneland, Protonico took control of the 1 1/8-mile race from the start under jockey Javier Castellano. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Protonico led through a half-mile in :47.49 and then left no doubt in the stretch, easily drawing off while completing the test in 1:48.79 on a fast track.
It marked the first gate-to-wire victory for Protonico since his career debut—a six-furlong maiden race in September of 2013 under Castellano at Delaware Park.
"When we were handicapping the race, I didn't see much speed," Castellano said. "I took advantage—my horse has speed. I rode him before (when he broke his maiden in September 2013 at Delaware Park) and was in the lead wire to wire. I tried to do the same today, and it worked out very well. The way he did it (was) very easy. Turning for home, when I asked he responded so well."
Sent off the 4-5 favorite, Protonico returned $3.60 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.20 to show. A. Stevens Miles Jr.'s Neck 'n Neck earned his second straight stakes placing, and returned $6.40 to place and $4.60 to show. Ami's Holiday finished 2 1/2 lengths behind the runner-up, finishing third and returning $4.40 to show.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/91208/protonico-bounces-back-with-ben-ali-score#ixzz3X67eGEdb
Jack Milton Goes Last to First in Maker's 46
Jack Milton Goes Last to First in Maker's 46
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Gary Barber's Jack Milton went from last to first to claim his first grade I score in the $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile (gr. IT), tracking down longshot Aripeka in the lane April 10 at Keeneland (VIDEO).
Off at 9-2 odds, the 5-year-old son of War Front sat last in the seven-horse field, 4 1/2 lengths behind early leader Long On Value after an opening quarter-mile in :23.89 and 5 1/2 back after a half in :47.42. He moved up to sixth when Long On Value covered six furlongs in 1:12, then went seven wide in the final turn to rally for a 2 1/4-length victory.
"I really like the way (it set up today)," jockey Javier Castellano said. "He's a come-from-behind horse and it was a beautiful pace—I think it went pretty quick early in the race. It set up perfect (for) a come-from-behind horse. He had a good kick today."
Jack Milton completed the mile in 1:36.30 on a turf course rated soft under Castellano for trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the third win for each on Keeneland's Friday card.
"It was pretty special—special for everybody," Pletcher assistant Tristan Barry said. "We had two plans. If he broke well, we were going to sit close to the pace and pounce. If he didn't, we were going to sit back and make one run. Plan B worked well."
Favored Summer Front, off at odds of 6-5, tracked the early leader and appeared to get a dream rail trip when Long On Value came out of the final turn wide, but faded to finish sixth, 7 1/4 lengths behind the winner. Long On Value hung on to finish third, a head behind Aripeka.
""It seemed like he was struggling a little bit at the end," Summer Front's jockey, Victor Espinoza, said. "It was a little too soft for him. I was sitting patiently with him all the way around. It was wide open for me, but when it was time to go, he struggled a little bit."
Jack Milton returned $11.20, $6.20, and $4. Aripeka delivered $10.40 and $4.20, while Long On Value paid $4 to show.
Bred in Kentucky by Cherry Valley Farm out of the Forty Niner mare Preserver, Jack Milton improved his record to 5-1-5 from 15 career starts and now has $751,161 in career earnings.
Prior to the Maker's 46, Jack Milton's only graded victory came in the mile Poker Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park last May.
Beyond Long On Value, Legendary closed to finish fourth, followed by Za Approval, Summer Front, and Skyring, to complete the order of finish.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/91196/jack-milton-goes-last-to-first-in-makers-46#ixzz3X0JX58P5
Carpe Diem Rumbles in Blue Grass
Carpe Diem Rumbles in Blue Grass
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Carpe Diem won for fun in the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) April 4 at Keeneland, living up to his 2-5 favoritism and the hype that surrounded him leading into the race (VIDEO).
The 3-year-old son of Giant's Causeway put steady pressure on pacesetter Ocho Ocho Ocho and then powerfully took command coming out of the final turn, drawing away down the stretch under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez to finish three lengths ahead. Danzig Moon put in a good closing run to get second, but could not reach the winner, who finished the 1 1/8-mile test on a fast track in 1:49.77.
"We had a really good trip. He was pretty close to the pace and then he just stayed there," Velazquez said. "I tried not use him too much the first part of the race.
"There wasn't much speed in the race. It was a nice slow pace and I didn't want to fight him very much. He was doing it pretty easy. Like (trainer) Todd (Pletcher) said, 'Don't fight him, just let him do it.' Down the lane, I asked him and he responded right away. Once he gets to the lead, he wants to wait, so I have to make sure I keep his mind on running.
"He's done everything right to this point, so hopefully we can keep him like that when we go to Churchill Downs."
Ocho Ocho Ocho held for third, 2 1/2 lengths back, after showing the way through opening fractions of :24.15, :48.05, and 1:12.18, leaving trainer Jim Cassidy uncertain as to his next move.
"His effort was fine," Cassidy said. "I knew (Carpe Diem) was going to go with us. I'm sure Pletcher wasn't going to change his style, but he knew we were going to go and he didn't want us to open up too much on him. It was a hell of a match race there for a bit. We'll see what happens after this. I don't think I have any big plans right at the moment."
The Blue Grass was worth 100 points to the winner on the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), bumping Carpe Diem's total on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard to 164 points. Danzig Moon ranks 12th on the list for the 20-horse field with 45 points, and Ocho Ocho Ocho has 30 to rank 19th.
"He likes the surface here and we like the surface here, so we'll probably stay here a couple weeks or a week at least and then decide if we want to have one breeze at Churchill or two," Pletcher said of future plans for Carpe Diem, one of the trainer's key Kentucky Derby contenders along with Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Materiality.
The victory for Pletcher was his third in the race, tying him with Ben Jones, Woody Stephens, LeRoy Jolley, and Nick Zito for the most triumphs in the classics prep. Pletcher's other wins came with Bandini in 2005 and Monba in 2008.
It was the second Toyota Blue Grass victory for Velazquez, who rode Bandini for Pletcher in 2005.
Carpe Diem came off a March 7 victory in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II), his first start of 2015 for WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stable after running second in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He won the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland as a 2-year-old straight off his powerful maiden win Sept. 1 at Saratoga Race Course, and became just the third horse to complete a sweep of the Breeders' Futurity as a 2-year-old and the following spring's Blue Grass, joining Round Table (1956-1957) and Dullahan (2011-2012).
"He just continues to get better and you want to have a horse that's moving forward this time of year—you want to have a horse that's blooming and he's doing that," said Elliott Walden, WinStar's president and CEO.
The winner returned $2.80, $2.40, and $2.10 while Danzig Moon paid $7.80 and $5 with Ocho Ocho Ocho bringing $3.20.
Norm Casse, assistant to Danzig Moon trainer Mark Casse, had high praise for their runner-up.
"He ran a big race, and with a better trip, we might have been even closer," Casse said. "I'm just glad the real Danzig Moon showed up today and showed that he's a serious racehorse. This race is redeeming, because we thought he had a big shot (in the Tampa Bay Derby) and he ran a bad fourth (behind winner Carpe Diem). But I think he just didn't handle the track that day and today is a better indication of his ability. I'm sure we'll take him over to Churchill and see where he stands and how he's doing."
MCCARTHY: Coffee Pot Brews a Good One in Carpe Diem
Carpe Diem was bred in Kentucky by Coffee Pot Stable out of the Unbridled's Song mare Rebridled Dreams, and is the first grade I winner produced by that outfit. He was a $1.6 million purchase by WinStar and Stonestreet from the Northwest Stud consignment to the 2014 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. selected sale of 2-year-olds in training. The Blue Grass brought his career record to four wins and a second from five starts, for earnings of $1,519,800.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/91086/carpe-diem-rumbles-in-blue-grass#ixzz3WRtuemoc
Unbeaten Materiality Secures Florida Derby
Unbeaten Materiality Secures Florida Derby
Photo: Coglianese Photos
In his graded stakes debut, Alto Racing's Materiality proved up to the challenge as he outlasted grade II winner Upstart in an extended duel and scored a 1 1/2-length victory in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) Saturday, March 28 at Gulfstream Park (VIDEO).
A son of dual classic winner Afleet Alex , Materiality picked up his third victory in as many starts in Saturday's 1 1/8-mile race. Trained by Todd Pletcher, who earned his second straight Florida Derby win and third overall, Materiality won a maiden special weight event in January at Gulfstream before taking the Islamorada Handicap March 5 at the South Florida track.
On Saturday in the biggest start of his young career, Materiality and Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) winner Upstart drew off from the other seven 3-year-olds in the far turn and battled into deep stretch, thrilling the crowd. Materiality finally separated himself from Upstart near the sixteenth pole.
Racing inside of Upstart, Materiality drifted out in the stretch but there was no inquiry or objection after the race. In his previous start, Ralph Evans' Upstart finished first in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I) but was disqualified for stretch interference and placed behind Itsaknockout.
"We got very close (to Upstart), that's for sure. We got out a little bit further than I thought I did," Velazquez said. "I had my head down, looking over to make sure I didn't bump him. There was a little brushing, maybe, but there was no contact. I was very conscious to pull back in and you can see the two horses spread apart."
Upstart's trainer Rick Violette Jr. didn't have a problem with the stretch run but wondered if things would have been different if the son of Flatter hadn't started from the outside in the field of nine.
"I don't want to hear from the guys that say, 'Don't worry about the nine hole,' because it made all the difference," Violette said. "If we had (Materiality) on our hip the whole way, maybe the result would have been different. (Materiality) beat us fair and square. He is obviously a very nice horse, he comes off a really fast race and didn't regress."
Materiality completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.3 on a fast track. Ami's Flatter finished well behind the top two finishers—12 1/2 lengths behind Upstart—to secure his first grade I placing while Itsaknockout followed in fourth.
In the Islamorada, Materiality defeated stablemate Stanford, who on Saturday ran second in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots after leading that race into the stretch. Pletcher noted the 22-day turnaround from the Islamorada was a concern.
"So we monitored how he was training; he looked great. He's a big, strong colt and he holds his weight really well. He's got a big appetite," Pletcher said. "He put forth a really good breeze a week ago so we felt like he was showing us all of the right signs.
"Yet you still worry about those situations when you get to the eighth pole. Watching Stanford finish a very good second in the Louisiana Derby about a half-hour before gives you a little more confidence, but you're still concerned about the short turnaround."
Materiality returned $5.60 to win, $3 to place, and $2.40 to show. Upstart, who was sent off as the even-money favorite, returned $2.60 and $2.20, while Ami's Flatter paid $3 to show.
Pletcher won the Florida Derby with Constitution last year and Scat Daddy in 2007. Materiality, a bay colt, was guided to victory by John Velazquez, who also earned his third Florida Derby win after taking the key prep race aboard Orb in 2013 and Quality Road in 2009.
The Florida Derby is a 100-40-20-10 Road to the Kentucky Derby points race, ensuring the winner enough points to qualify for a starting spot in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Upstart also has secured enough points.
Bred in Kentucky by John Gunther, Materiality is out of the Langfuhr mare Wildwood Flower, who also has produced grade II winner My Miss Sophia.
Materiality sold twice before his racing career, most recently being landed for $400,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale where he was purchased by Steven Young, agent, for Gil Moutray's Alto Racing from the consignment of De Meric Sales, agent. As a yearling, Materiality was purchased for $260,000 by Venture Six from Gunther's Glennwood Farm consignment at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/90958/unbeaten-materiality-secures-florida-derby#ixzz3VmcUFVX9
Commissioner Edges 'Quisqueyano' in Skip Away
Commissioner Edges 'Quisqueyano' in Skip Away
Photo: Coglianese Photos
WinStar Farm's Commissioner put away stubborn rival Sr. Quisqueyano March 28 at Gulfstream Park, winning the $150,000 Skip Away (gr. III) by a head after a prolonged battle (VIDEO).
Both runners rebounded from failed efforts at tougher starts, 4-year-old Commissioner coming in off a sixth-place finish in the Feb. 7 Donn Handicap (gr. I) for trainer Todd Pletcher, and 5-year-old Sr. Quisqueyano returning to Florida after shipping to take on Shared Belief in the March 7 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park, where he finished ninth for Loooch Racing, Christopher Dunn, and trainer Peter Walder.
Sr. Quisqueyano and jockey Edgard Zayas set the pace in the 1 3/16-mile Skip Away, clicking through opening fractions of :24.38 and :48.97 with 7-5 favorite Commissioner and jockey Javier Castellano tracking about two lengths behind in a group of six.
Commissioner, a son of A.P. Indy, gradually made up the difference through three-quarters in 1:13.81 and looked ready to drive clear with an outside closing move sweeping around the far turn. Once on even terms with the leader, however, he had his work cut out for him, as 10-1 Sr. Quisqueyano fought back determinedly on the rail while a mile went in 1:38.72.
It was a neck-and-neck battle down the length of the stretch, with Commissioner finally edging out the victory by a neck.
Final time was 1:58.60 on the fast main track.
"We knew Sr. Quisqueyano is a tough horse to get by," Pletcher said. "Javier gave him a good ride. This horse has been knocking on the door for a while. We're happy to get a graded stakes with him, so that he could have a spot in the WinStar stallion barn. These A.P. Indys, we know they just get better with age. We'll probably point to the (June 6) Brooklyn (Handicap, gr. II, at Belmont Park), the only question is whether we run before that or not."
Commissioner, a Kentucky homebred out of the Touch Gold mare Flaming Heart, returned $4.80, $3.20, and $2.40. Sr. Quisqueyano, by Eluisve Quality, paid $6.80 and $3.60. Encryption returned $2.60 far back in third, while East Hall, Ulanbator, and Tryer completed the order of finish.
The Skip Away win improved Commissioner's record to 3-3-2 from 11 starts for earnings of $617,237. Runner-up by a head to Tonalist in the 2014 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the bay colt earned his first graded score.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/90946/commissioner-edges-quisqueyano-in-skip-away#ixzz3W4URFOHy
Race Day Shows Grit, Takes Razorback Handicap
Race Day Shows Grit, Takes Razorback Handicap
Photo: Coady Photography
Race Day fights off Midnight Hawk to win the Razorback Handicap.
Matthew Schera's Race Day edged past a stubborn Midnight Hawk near the wire to capture the $250,000 Razorback Handicap (gr. III) for 4-year-olds and up March 14 at Oaklawn Park (VIDEO).
Race Day, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, sat just off the pace set by Midnight Hawk from the start in a race that had little movement throughout. Race Day came into the 1 1/16-mile Razorback off of a third-place finish in the Fred Hooper Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 7 at Gulfstream Park.
In a field of six shortened by the scratch of I Got It All earlier Saturday afternoon, Midnight Hawk, ridden by Victor Espinoza for trainer Bob Baffert, grabbed the early lead on a good, sealed track and methodically set fractions of :23.87 for the opening quarter-mile, :48.26 for the half-mile, and 1:12.58 for six furlongs. Race Day was in no hurry to challenge the leader, with Carve and Tapiture further back in third and fourth, respectively.
Race Day, a 4-year-old colt by Tapit out of the More Than Ready mare Rebalite, hooked Midnight Hawk at the top of the stretch, but Midnight Hawk, to his inside, didn't give in. It wasn't until the late stages that Race Day got past the leader to win by a neck in 1:44.88 for the distance.
Carve, winner of the Fifth Season Stakes at Oaklawn in his previous start, and Tapiture, second in last year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) in his last start, had nothing to offer in the lane. They were passed late by Golden Ticket, who finished third, 7 1/4 lengths behind Midnight Hawk. Carve was fourth, followed by Tapiture and Ride On Curlin.
Velazquez said Race Day, whom he rode in the Hooper and the previous race in which the colt won a second-level allowance race in Florida, needed some urging late.
"Last time there was a lot of pace at Gulfstream, but he didn't break well," Velazquez said. "He broke well today, but was a little rank on the first turn. When he came down the lane, he started waiting a little, so I got after him again, and he put up a good fight."
Race Day is the first horse owner Schera has had with Pletcher. Schera, who lives in Connecticut, makes his living in the hedge-fund business and brought eight friends with him to Arkansas.
"We all flew down; a bunch of friends came," Schera said. "We felt we had a good shot. The last race, he had a little bit of traffic problems, and we know he is a good horse."
Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes said Midnight Hawk, despite defeat, showed improvement.
"He ran huge, and he ran straight, which makes us really happy because in a lot of his past races he has been very erratic," Barnes said. "We could not be happier with him and how well he did today."
Ricardo Santana Jr., who rode fifth-place finisher Tapiture, who carried high weight of 119 pounds for trainer Steve Asmussen, made no excuses.
"He just got tired," Santana said. "He was coming off a layoff and probably just needed this race."
Race Day returned $6.20, $4.80, and $3.60 across the board. Midnight Hawk, in from California, paid $6.80 and $4.40, while Golden Ticket was worth $5.60 to show. The $2 exacta returned $69 and the $1 trifecta $260.30.
Race Day, bred in Kentucky by James Miller, was purchased by his current owner for $285,000 at the 2014 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. The colt now has four wins, a second, and two thirds in seven starts.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/90706/race-day-shows-grit-takes-razorback-handicap#ixzz3UTqquy1a
Carpe Diem Returns a Tampa Bay Derby Winner
Carpe Diem Returns a Tampa Bay Derby Winner
Photo: SV Photography
Carpe Diem and John Velazquez take the Tampa Bay Derby.
Carpe Diem made his 2015 debut in style March 7, taking the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) at Tampa Bay Downs by five lengths to claim his third victory from four starts (VIDEO).
Runner-up in the Nov. 1 Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) last time out, the 3-year-old son of Giant's Causeway tracked fourth behind pacesetter Divining Rod, who set fractions of :23.10, :46.65, and 1:11.35. Carpe Diem made his move heading into the far turn, striking the lead heading for home and lengthening away through a 1:37.22 mile under confident handling.
"He was very fresh warming up and when they finally got him into the gate and I got on, he settled down," said Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who had to dismount momentarily before the start due to Carpe Diem's reluctance to load. "We broke very well and I took a position just where I wanted to be, right behind the leaders. He rated very well and I was able to wait with him until nearing the stretch. When I asked he came away very nicely."
Carpe Diem races for WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stables and is trained by Todd Pletcher. He covered the Tampa Bay Derby's 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.60.
The 3-year-old Triple Crown prep race was his second graded-stakes score; Carpe Diem took the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland in October after breaking his maiden at first asking on Labor Day over Ready for Rye, who on March 7 won the $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Swale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.
NOVAK: Ready for Rye Upsets Daredevil in Swale
"When they leave their 2-year-old season behind, you hope they come out like he did," said Elliott Walden, WinStar president and chief executive officer. "Everyone who has watched him train said he has been training better than any horse in Florida, and it's nice to see him put it together like that. He is just a natural athlete and has a great rhythm to him.
"We missed him as a yearling, but thankfully John (Moynihan, representative for co-owner Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Stables). and I got together on him as a 2-year-old."
Bred in Kentucky by Coffee Pot Stable out of the Unbridled's Song mare Rebridled Dreams, Carpe Diem was a $1.6 million purchase by WinStar and Stonestreet from the Northwest Stud consignment to the 2014 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. selected sale of 2-year-olds in training. He improved his earnings to $919,800.
MCCARTHY: Coffee Pot Brews a Good One in Carpe Diem
"We couldn't be more pleased," Pletcher said. "Johnny put him in a perfect position and he really kicked on at the top of the stretch. It was exactly what we were hoping for. He has a history of (reluctance to load) a little, and we will continue to work to try to get that corrected. He has a lot of (sire) Giant's Causeway) and (grandsire) Storm Cat about him; that's what makes him good. We're delighted with the way he ran today."
Off at even money, Carpe Diem returned $4, $3, and $2.40. He was followed home by 13-1 shot Ami's Flatter
, who paid $9 and $6.80, and Divining Rod, worth $5.60.
, Great Stuff, and Moonlight Bandit came next, followed by Sam F. Davis (gr. III) winner Ocean Knight
— previously undefeated in two starts and also a Stonestreet Stables runner who failed to fire when asked for run. My Johnny Be Good
brought up the rear in the group of eight; Souper Colossal
"Ocean Knight seemed very flat and maybe it was a minor off day because he had been training like a really good horse," said winning co-owner Barbara Banke of Stonestreet.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/90520/carpe-diem-returns-a-tampa-bay-derby-winner#ixzz3ToC6IyPI
Itsaknockout Wins FOY
Upstart DQ'd in FOY, Itsaknockout Wins
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King
Itsaknockout (right) finishes second to Upstart in the Fountain of Youth, but is awarded the win.Order This Photo
Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) winner and 4-5 favorite Upstart was disqualified after crossing the wire first in the $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 21 at Gulfstream Park, with lightly-raced Itsaknockout elevated from second to his first graded win (VIDEO).
Upstart, with Jose Ortiz in the irons, closed steadily in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth to take control from 7-2 second choice Frosted in the final sixteenth. But he bore out under steady left-handed urging from Ortiz against Starlight Racing's Itsaknockout in deep stretch, causing not only a stewards' inquiry, but a jockey's objection by Itsaknockout's rider, Luis Saez.
Itsaknockout, a 3-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid , won his first two races and stepped into stakes company in just his third start Saturday. He now has a 3-for-3 record at Gulfstream and will target the March 28 Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I).
"That was a tough decision," Saez said. "I did think (Upstart) would get taken down, because he really bothered me. When we came into the stretch, I felt like my horse wanted to run, so I thought we'd win the race. But the other horse came out and bothered me. I couldn't ride my horse. He's a little better on the outside. Today there was a little speed outside of us, so we had to play with that. At the three-eighths he really responded."
Todd Pletcher trainee Itsaknockout rated just off the leaders early on, as Bluegrass Singer went a quarter in :24.27 and a half in :47.87 while tracked by Frosted, the second choice at 7-2. Frosted ranged up to take the lead as three-quarters went in 1:11.65. But a determined Upstart was closing to his outside with Itsaknockout off his right hip.
"(Frosted) came out on me and I bumped (Itsaknockout) after that," Ortiz said. "I bumped him just a little, but I don't think enough to take me down."
The stewards thought otherwise. Although Upstart eked out the advantage through a 1:38.98 mile and then drew ahead by 2 3/4 lengths to finish in 1:46.28 on a fast track, the way he drifted out under Ortiz's steady stick while doing so caused them to place him second despite his finish ahead.
"I feel bad for the connections of the other horse," Pletcher said. "He crossed the finish line first, but definitely we got impeded a bit and Luis (Saez) had to stop riding for a couple strides. I don't know how it would eventually affect the outcome."
"Bad call," trainer Rick Violette said of the Upstart disqualification. "(The stewards) have to understand that when the horse gets hit behind the girth, the only place the horse can go is to the right. It's disappointing. The horse ran great, we just don't get credit for it. Don't know what's next, but we might have to go to New York."
The Fountain of Youth is worth 50 points to the winner for a spot in the starting gate of the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), with 20,10, and 5 going to the second- through fourth-place finishers. Itsaknockout jumped to the second spot on the leaderboard with his tally.
With 71 points, International Star tops the leaderboard after winning the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Upstart, with 36 points, is now third.
NOVAK: International Star Carries On in Risen Star
Itsaknockout paid $12.80, $5, and $4 at odds of 5-1. Upstart paid $2.60 and $2.10. The late-closing Frammento got up over Frosted to return $12.80. Gorgeous Bird, Bluegrass Singer, Juan and Bina, and Danny Boy completed the order of finish.
"The thing I'm most proud of is for this horse to run this well in his third lifetime start, first time around two turns and first time in a (stakes)," Pletcher said. "It was a very, very good effort. He was in between horses in a situation he hasn't been in before, so it was a big effort."
Itsaknockout was bred in Kentucky by Brookfield Stud out of the Cherokee Run mare Stormy B. He was a $350,000 purchase by agent Frank Brothers from the consignment of Dromoland Farm, agent, at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale after being pinhooked for $130,000 by Black Cherry Farm from the Elm Tree Farm consignment at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale in 2012.
"We knew he had the talent, but you have to always wonder until they do it," said Starlight managing partner Don Lucarelli. "This sealed it. We had never won this race and naturally it gives us a lot of aspirations for going to the Derby. We're just excited for all the partners. We had a big crowd here today. We really rolled the bones and it paid off."
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/90282/upstart-dqd-in-foy-itsaknockout-wins#ixzz3SbAEpcwJ
Graydar's First Foals Have Arrived!