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Updated: 20 hours 37 min ago

Mahoning Valley Closes Season on a High

Tue, 2021-04-20 11:52

The 2020-21 racing season at Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Valley Race Course came to a record-setting close last Saturday. The 2020-2021 season concluded with an average handle per race of $121,770, a 4.43% increase in average handle per race over the 2019-2020 racing season. During the 2021 Winter/Spring meet portion of the racing season, average handle per race came in at $131,411 with the wagering highlight coming Mar. 29.

In a mandatory payout of the Buckeye Jackpot Pick 6, which had grown to $343,876, the single day handle record was shattered by over $1 million. The new record is $3,095,044. The 2021 meet also saw the introduction of the 15% takeout Pick 5, with an average pool size of nearly $30,000.

Jeffery Radosevich took his 11th training title with 2021's Winter/Spring meet, winning with four of his final five starts giving him 23 wins in the meet.

Taking his second Mahoning title, Sonny Leon claimed the 2021 Winter/Spring leading jockey championship with 74 wins, 17 ahead of the runner up. Earlier this year he made trip number 500 to the winners circle and his mounts have surpassed $9 million in earnings.

Last fall, Mahoning Valley hosted the Best of Ohio stakes on Oct. 31, five restricted Ohio Bred stakes valued at $500,000. Forewarned, for trainer Uriah St. Lewis and owner Trin-Brook Stables, Inc, successfully returned to defend his title in the mile and a quarter Best of Ohio Endurance S. Just over a week after the Best of Ohio Stakes Nov. 10, Mahoning was shutdown due to the pandemic, losing seven live racing days. Despite the setbacks, Mahoning returned Nov. 23 in time to host the sixth running of the Steel Valley Sprint, won by Vertical Threat.

Racing will return at Mahoning Valley Friday, Oct. 22.

The post Mahoning Valley Closes Season on a High appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Monmouth’s Mr. Prospector Downgraded for ’21

Tue, 2021-04-20 11:22

Monmouth park's Listed Mr. Prospector S., traditionally contested in late September, was downgraded to a non-Listed Black-Type after moving to May 29 for the 2021 season. The substantial change on the calendar prompted a review by the American Graded Stakes Committee. The Committee's policy states, should a graded or eligible race be altered materially in age, sex, eligibility, racetrack location, or purse, or is substantially changed on the calendar (30 or more days), a review may result in a change in grade. If it is regarded as a new race, it must be run two years before it can be considered for grading.

The post Monmouth’s Mr. Prospector Downgraded for ’21 appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

TIF Series: “Wagering Insecurity” Part 3 – Volponi

Tue, 2021-04-20 11:09

   This is Part 3 of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation's (TIF) series “Wagering Insecurity.”

   Faced with remarkable competitive pressure from the rise of legal sports betting, horse racing is at a crossroads.

   Confidence amongst horseplayers and horse owners is essential to the future sustainability of the sport. Efforts to improve the greater North American Thoroughbred industry will fall flat if its stakeholders fail to secure a foundation of integrity, along with increased transparency of the wagering business and its participants over time. Achieving this is growing increasingly difficult after the sport has neglected its core base–horseplayers –for decades.

    “Wagering Insecurity” details some of that neglect, and the need to embrace serious reform. Fortunately, there are examples across the racing world to follow.

The major North American tracks, which are now vertically integrated companies controlling most of the major ADWs, tote companies, other service providers and even some of the high-volume betting shops like Elite Turf Club, have had little incentive to upgrade the oversight of wagering on the more than 30,000 annual Thoroughbred races on the continent.

The one entity which does offer some wagering security apparatus–the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB)–is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the tracks themselves, through the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America (TRA), a consortium of racetracks.

Despite several attempts from TIF, the TRPB's Executive Vice President Curtis Linnell declined to answer questions for this series.

What was once a robust organization, even called horse racing's own “little FBI,” is now a shell of itself, focused primarily on the microchipping of horses.

The headline of a 1960 piece in Sports Illustrated may offer that generation's perspective of where racing stood relative to security and integrity measures:

“The Best-Policed Sport of All.”

Today, the TRPB does offer its member tracks a tool known as the Wagering Analysis and Security Platform (WASP).

According to its website, the TRPB says: “this platform currently provides each Thoroughbred Racing Associations' member track officials with a robust integrity toolset for distributed betting networks. A variety of reports and modules are included which assist users with timely examination of wagering detail.”

This description suggests the tracks are mostly responsible for monitoring WASP themselves.

When TIF questioned a TRPB official in mid-2020 about a curiously low superfecta payoff, it was affirmed that the organization does not respond to individual questions about incidents, but only those raised by member tracks. If we wanted more insight, we would have to contact the track directly. The burden of dealing with a customer inquiry is on the racetrack.

North American racing does not have independent oversight of betting or wagering systems. The lone protection comes from a small office wholly-owned by the tracks, which gives them tools to monitor their own races.

This was not the plan when many in and out of racing recognized the need for radically improved wagering oversight in the early 2000s.

For the complete article, click here.

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Lopez Names New Chair of ARCI

Tue, 2021-04-20 10:51

Robert Lopez, the Chairman of the Washington State Horse Racing Commission, was elected the new Chair of the Association of Racing Commissioners International at Monday's online annual Board of Directors election. Lopez replaces Tom Sage of Nebraska whose term expired.

A graduate of the FBI's National Academy, Lopez is a longtime law enforcement professional who was a member of the Washington State Patrol before retiring as Assistant Chief in 2001. In 2002, Lopez joined the staff of the racing commission and later became its executive secretary. In 2015, he was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to serve as a member of the commission and subsequently elevated to Chairman. Lopez also served on the ARCI's Board of Directors and the Model Rules Committee.

At Monday's meeting, the ARCI added 10 Directors to those designated by the top five horse racing jurisdictions as measured by live race days consistent with the organization's ByLaws. The five automatic Board Members are: Brent Stone, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario; Rob Williams, New York Gaming Commission; Chairman Scott Borgemenke, Ohio State Racing Commission; Anthony Salerno, Pennsylvania Racing Commission; Louis Trombetta, Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.

Newly-elected ARCI Board:

  • Michael Hopkins – Executive Director, Maryland Racing Commission
  • Commissioner Connie McNabb, DVM – Texas Racing Commission
  • Judith Nason, Esq. – Executive Director, New Jersey Racing Commission
  • Marc Guilfoil – Executive Director, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission
  • Charles Moore – Executive Director, Wyoming Gaming Commission
  • David Lermond – Executive Director, Virginia Racing Commission
  • Commissioner Duncan Patterson – Chair, Delaware Thoroughbred Commission
  • Charles Gardiner – Executive Director, Louisiana Racing Commission
  • Kelly Cathey – Executive Director, Oklahoma Racing Commission
  • Doug Moore – Executive Director, Washington State Racing Commission

At its next Board meeting, the ARCI will elect two additional Board Members to serve as Secretary/Chair-elect and Treasurer and Chairman Lopez will also appoint two additional members.

The post Lopez Names New Chair of ARCI appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Hall of Famer Julie Krone Brings Talents to Team Lindy

Tue, 2021-04-20 10:16

Just last week Lindy Farms, the Thoroughbred racing partnership of Philip Antonacci and Jimmy Takter, which was announced in September last year, had its first winner. They bring to the sport a novel approach to training and a dedication to keeping their horses relaxed and happy with a regiment that includes plenty of turnout in company with other horses.

Now, as they head back north to Monmouth for the summer, they are adding Hall of Famer Julie Krone to their team.

Krone is scheduled to arrive at Monmouth at the end of April.

“I'm very grateful to both Philip and Jimmy for the opportunity and am looking forward to getting to know the horses,” she said.

Antonacci, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Darley Flying Start program, grew up in a family that bred and raced Standardbreds at the highest level. Their renowned stable included the trotter Moni Maker, a mare trained by Takter, that retired as the richest female Standardbred in history, with $5,589,256 in lifetime earnings. As part of it's 1,000-acre breeding and training operation in Connecticut, the Antonacci family began dabbling in Thoroughbreds. It has long been the younger Antonacci's desire to be a trainer.

Takter, an international legend in the Standardbred business, began training for Antonacci's family in 1984. Retiring as a Standardbred trainer in 2016, he was looking for new challenges in life and now, as an adviser to Antonacci, Takter is applying his 40 years of conditioning experience and success with Standardbreds to Thoroughbreds.

“Simply put, Jimmy Takter is one of the great horsemen in the world,” Antonacci told the TDN in September, 2020. “He has a completely unique connection with the horses and his stats speak for themselves. Four Hambletonians, six Hambletonian Oaks and 34 Breeders Crowns, those are unfathomable statistics. He is one of those guys who, even though he was so successful every year, was always looking to make changes or modify something that would give him an advantage moving forward. He is a fast learner and is someone who can adapt.”

“We try to do things a little bit different without trying to reinvent the wheel,” Antonacci said of the new Lindy Farms partnership. “Obviously, everybody's been doing their own individual things for years and they are very successful at the highest level. So, we're just trying to find what works for us. Jimmy is a big believer, as am I, in interval training. We're trying to get horses to build a high cardio rate, and then recover, and then build back up again without putting too much stress on them.”

He continued, “So with our babies, we do interval training. It comes with plenty of rest, and not going too fast and letting them recover. So far, they've all taken to training very well and enjoy it. Everybody seems to be thriving off of it.  After every training they seem to grow and muscle up more.”

Added Takter, “The reason why I like interval training is that you're building up the body a little stronger. I'd like to try to get a little bit more bone on the horses and get a little bit more solid foundation on the base. If they get a few months of that, then I think they can carry speed longer and hopefully stay sounder.”

In between the days of training, their pupils receive days of rest and turn out.

“These babies have their whole life to be stressed out in a racehorse environment,” said Antonacci. “We don't really want to replicate that type of environment in the early process as they're growing and developing. So, they spend plenty of time out in the paddock together. We pair them up in twos and they spend their off days, all day nearly, turned out in the paddock, enjoying themselves and being horses.”

With their first winter in Florida coming to an end, Antonacci and Takter have been able to see the fruits of their efforts, both in terms of the team they are building and their horses in training. Currently, there are 15 horses in the stable–eight of which are well-bred 2-year-olds.

“It's challenging,” Takter admitted. “It is way different than training a Standardbred. You never know what you will be facing every day, but I think for the last month I've been really, really happy with how things can come together. I think we finally found the right path, what we want to do with these horses. We went in very easy and very kind to them. Now the last month here they're coming along perfectly.”

“You know, with any new business or new team forming there is going to be ups and downs,” said Antonacci. “It's been a lot more ups than downs and I'm very happy with the people I have around me. The horses are doing great, so it's very exciting. Our team is really strong and everybody looks forward to coming to work every day. We're very happy with the horses and how they're progressing.”

“Our horse Advanced Strategy (Karakontie {Jpn}), who we acquired off Jim Jerkens, raced at Gulfstream [in first start for Lindy Farms]. He finished third. He raced very well. I give a lot of credit to Jim for sending him in such great order. He's a really honest horse and will be a fun New York-bred to have this summer to race around Belmont and Saratoga.”

In his next start last Saturday, the 4-year-old sailed to victory in an optional claimer at Gulfstream, giving Antonacci his first trip to the winner's circle as a trainer.

Krone's connection to the Antonacci family and Takter started with a big win. In 2000, when it came time to retire Moni Maker, Takter wanted to do it in an extra special way.

“When we had Moni Maker, the richest female Standardbred ever, she won a $500,000 race in her final start, but we wanted to do something a little bit more, you know, a little special for her when she did retire,” said Takter. “Julie Krone had just come off retirement and was getting inducted in the Hall of Fame. It was a nice tribute to bring a famous woman like her to ride Moni Maker in what we call Monte. It's riding on the saddle at the trot. Then, of course, she broke the world record. Philip kept in contact with her and about three weeks ago, we decided we would go to Monmouth Park and Julie said, `I want to be with you guys.' So I look forward to that day. She's such a great horsewoman and we can learn a lot from her.”

“Julie's got so much knowledge and she's really just a wealth of information,” said Antonacci. “I'm very, very excited to bring her along. And I think she's going to contribute to the team greatly. And, you know, she's got such a winning personality and is the type of person that you love to have around the farm. She makes everybody feel good and makes everybody feel happy.”

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TVG Offers Mandatory $250K Payout in Super 8

Tue, 2021-04-20 10:08

For the first time since introducing the promotion in 2017, TVG will offer a mandatory payout in its free-to-play Super 8 contest with a $250,000 jackpot this week. If more than one contestant picks the highest number of winners, those contestants will win equal shares of the $250,000 prize. TVG will announce which races will be part of the Super 8 sequence later this week.

This is the first year TVG has included a carryover component to the Super 8, adding $25,000 per week as the jackpot builds from $100,000. There is no purchase or wager necessary, and entry is restricted to TVG account holders in TVG participating states as well as 4NJBet account holders, age 21+. New sign-ups will also receive a bet of up to $200.

Previously, the Super 8 grand prize was $100,000 for selecting all eight races in the sequence correctly with smaller consolation prizes for selecting more than five races.

For more information, click here.

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Big A Already Given Over 180K COVID Vaccines

Tue, 2021-04-20 09:40

With live racing transitioning from New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) 's Aqueduct Racetrack to Belmont Park for the start of the spring/summer meet Apr. 22, Aqueduct will continue to serve as mass COVID-19 vaccination center. The New York State vaccination distribution center opened Jan. 18 and has provided more than 180,000 doses. Operating seven days a week, the Aqueduct site is now providing as many as 4,000 doses per day.

“This facility has vaccinated more than 180,000 individuals since January thanks to the teamwork displayed by employees from the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Department of Health, Division of Military and Naval Affairs, Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, New York State Police, Somos Community Care and the New York Racing Association, and I applaud all their efforts in this fight to help us end the pandemic,” said Patrick A. Murphy, Commissioner of the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

Belmont also serves as vaccination distribution center, operated by Northwell Health. The vaccination hub, which also opened in January, will continue to administer vaccinations through Belmont's 2021 spring/summer meet.

“NYRA is proud to contribute to the mass vaccination effort to help turn the page on the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dave O'Rourke, NYRA President and CEO. “We thank all those who have been working at Aqueduct Racetrack and Belmont Park to protect their fellow New Yorkers during this public health crisis.”

Since April 2020, the Aqueduct parking lot has been the site of a drive-thru COVID-19 testing location.

The post Big A Already Given Over 180K COVID Vaccines appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

The TDN Derby Top 20 for April 20

Mon, 2021-04-19 17:19

We've entered that fun phase of microscopic scrutiny that accompanies the GI Kentucky Derby waiting game. The rankings below are independent from the “Road to the Derby” points leaderboard that Churchill Downs will use to determine starting berths; that list can be accessed here.

1) ESSENTIAL QUALITY (c, Tapit–Delightful Quality, by Elusive Quality)
O/B-Godolphin (KY). T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: Ch. 2yo Colt & MGISW, 5-5-0-0, $2,265,144.
Last Start: 1st GII Toyota Blue Grass S., KEE, Apr. 3
Accomplishments: 'TDN Rising Star', 1st GI TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile, KEE, Nov. 6, 1st GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity, KEE, Oct. 3, 1st GIII Southwest S., OP, Feb. 27
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 140

When you're the undefeated juvenile champ coming off a gutsy win in the most demanding prep of the season, you'd better expect to have a figurative target on your back in Louisville. This Tapit-sired Godolphin homebred can be a threatening pace presence while still retaining multiple gears for a stretch fight, as evidenced by his 97-Beyer Speed Figure win by a neck in the GII Blue Grass S. after an arduous stretch battle. That's a potent combination of tactics the majority of his foes have yet to demonstrate. The final furlong of this 'TDN Rising Star's Blue Grass was clocked in :12.53, the fastest in seven editions of that stakes since Keeneland switched back from synthetic to dirt. But we're now going on 30 years since the last Blue Grass winner—Strike the Gold in 1991—also won the Derby. In the 21st Century, Street Sense, American Pharoah and Nyquist have been the only 2-year-old Eclipse Award winners to win the Derby. There were no dual Eclipse/Derby winners in the 1980s or '90s. But in the '70s that feat was routine, and the honor roll includes some legendary names: Spectacular Bid, Affirmed, Seattle Slew, Foolish Pleasure, Secretariat and Riva Ridge.

2) KNOWN AGENDA (c, Curlin–Byrama {GB}, by Byron {GB})
O/B-St Elias Stable (KY); T-Todd Pletcher. Sales History: $135,000 RNA Ylg '19 FTSAUG. Lifetime Record: 6-3-1-1, $541,700.
Last Start: 1st GI Curlin Florida Derby, GP, Mar. 27
Accomplishments: 3rd GII Remsen S., AQU, Dec. 5
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 102

A bet on Known Agenda in the Derby is essentially a wager that he's put early-season greenness behind him and will be able to leverage the stamina and speed aspects of his pedigree effectively enough to excel over 10 furlongs. The dam of this athletic chestnut, Byrama, was bred in Great Britain but was exported stateside to earn a Grade I win at nine furlongs over a synthetic surface at Hollywood Park. And Known Agenda himself already has four lifetime attempts at 1 1/8 miles, which leaves him positioned a bit better than many of his competitors. A $135,000 RNA at FTSAUG, this Curlin colt looked impressive gliding up the rail to cuff the field in the GI Florida Derby, his second straight win since adding blinkers. But his 94 Beyer Speed Figure in that race was a 12-point leap off of his career best, and Known Agenda will have to up that number yet again to win in Louisville, where a clear, ground-saving run might not be as achievable in the 20-horse Derby the way it was at Gulfstream.

3) HOT ROD CHARLIE (c, Oxbow–Indian Miss, by Indian Charlie)
O-Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing LLC & William Strauss; B-Edward A Cox (KY); T-Doug O'Neill. Sales History: $17,000 Ylg '19 FTKFEB; $110,000 Ylg '19 FTKOCT. Lifetime Record: GSW & GISP, 7-2-1-2, $1,005,700.
Last Start: 1st GII Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, FG, Mar. 20
Accomplishments: 2nd GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile, KEE, Nov. 6; 3rd GIII Robert B. Lewis S., SA, Jan. 30
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 110

Hot Rod Charlie figures to go off as the third choice in the Derby betting, and at 7-1 or so I can see him offering a hint of value (as opposed to the two horses ranked ahead of him, both of whom figure to be slightly underlaid). If this two-time Fasig-Tipton sales grad ($17,000 FTKFEB; $110,000 FTKOCT) does manage to earn a blanket of roses, it will probably be because he manages to fuse the raw speed of his older half-brother (2019 sprint champ Mitole) with the staying power of his sire (Oxbow, the wire-to-wire winner of the 2013 GI Preakness S.). Known for being relaxed in morning training, Hot Rod Charlie comes across as a horse who is speed-centric but doesn't require the lead, and he's run well in deep stretch under sustained pressure and amid bumping. There is one historical caveat that works against Hot Rod Charlie, though: He ran second at 94-1 in last November's GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The 108 horses who have run 1-2-3 in the 36-year history of the Juvenile have only accounted for four Derby wins (3.7%), meaning a good race in the Juvenile has devolved into a negative-slanted metric for projecting success six months later in the Derby.

4) HIGHLY MOTIVATED (c, Into MischiefStrong Incentive, by Warrior's Reward)
O/B-Klaravich Stables, Inc (KY). T-Chad Brown. Sales History: $240,000 wlg '18 KEENOV. Lifetime Record: SW & MGSP, 5-2-2-1, $320,050.
Last Start: 2nd GII Toyota Blue Grass S., KEE, Apr. 3
Accomplishments: 1st Nyquist S., KEE, Nov. 6, 3rd GIII Gotham S., AQU, Mar. 6
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 50

This $240,000 KEENOV Into Mischief colt bulleted a half mile in :47.20 Sunday at Keeneland (1/27) in his first timed workout since giving division leader Essential Quality a serious run for the money in the Blue Grass S. (97 Beyers for both). On Monday Highly Motivated shipped to Churchill, were trainer Chad Brown hopes to hone this bay's tactical speed into an effective weapon over 10 furlongs. Highly Motivated also beat No. 2-ranked Known Agenda in a MSW last season in New York, meaning he's fared the best in head-to-head matchups against the horses at the top of the crop. Over the past three decades, contenders who have lost the Blue Grass have actually performed better in the Derby than the winners of that prep, with Street Sense (2007), Thunder Gulch (1995) and Sea Hero (1993) all tasting defeat in Lexington prior to reversing form in Louisville. But despite the arresting visual nature of Highly Motivated's stretch fight in the Blue Grass, this colt will go to the Derby without having seen the inside of a winner's circle in nearly six months. You have to go back to Super Saver in 2010 to find any Derby winner who did not win a race at age three prior to winning the Derby.

5) KING FURY (c, Curlin–Taris, by Flatter)
O-Fern Circle Stables & Three Chimneys Farm LLC;
B-Heider Family Stables (KY); T-Ken McPeek. Sales History: $950,000 Ylg '19 FTSAUG. Lifetime Record:
GSW, 6-3-0-0, $262,739.
Last Start: 1st GIII Stonestreet Lexington S., KEE, Apr. 10
Accomplishments: 1st Street Sense S., CD, Oct. 25
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 20.

Last week King Fury was parked way out at No. 28 on the qualifying list, but seven defections have tightened up the field to the point where he now only needs one other horse to opt out to make the starting cutoff. This $950,000 FTSAUG Curlin colt isn't ideally prepped for the Derby with just one start at age three, but trainer Ken McPeek no doubt can build off of King Fury's meaningful base of six lifetime starts at 1 1/16 miles and a punch-through 95-Beyer win over the slop in the GIII Lexington S. on Apr. 10. We are certainly in an era when A-list prospects race only sparingly, but to give you an idea of the hurdle that King Fury must overcome to win the Derby, consider this: Since 1937, horses with just one sophomore start prior to the Derby are a collective 0-for-24 (and no horse has even attempted that feat since 2013). Yet in this case, I'm willing to go against convention if the price is right, pari-mutuelly speaking. This is a “live” Derby horse if he sneaks in.

6) DYNAMIC ONE (c, 3, Union Rags–Beat the Drums, by Smart Strike)
O-Repole Stable, Phipps Stable & St Elias Stable; B-Phipps Stable (KY); T-Todd Pletcher. Sales History: $725,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSP, 5-1-2-0, $194,120
Last Start: 2nd GII Wood Memorial S., AQU, Apr. 3
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 40

Few bettors are going to back Dynamic One in the Derby based on his speed numbers alone. He was nipped at the wire by a 72-1 stablemate in the slowest running ever of the GII Wood Memorial (89 Beyer), and his maiden win by 5 1/4 lengths was achieved by pressing a 42-1 pacemaker through soft splits in a nine-furlong race clocked in 1:55.21 (79 Beyer). But trainer Todd Pletcher's initially high aspirations for this $725,000 KEESEP colt are starting to coalesce into discernible improvement, as Dynamic One is cultivating the look of an effective stayer who is just now learning how to finish. Earlier in his career, this Union Raags colt drew some undesirable posts and he had trouble leaving the gate in three starts. But in the Wood he rated patiently four wide on both turns, then wrested control of a six-way go from the quarter pole home before losing in the final jump to Bourbonic (Bernardini). Sired by a GI Belmont S. winner and with a female pedigree that resonates with Phipps-homebred stamina influences, Dynamic One's lofty ranking at No. 7 is not so much an assessment of where he stands now, but a prognostication of what he might be capable of orchestrating at long odds on May 1.

7) MIDNIGHT BOURBON (c, Tiznow–Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon)
O-Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC; B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY); T-Steve Asmussen. Sales History: $525,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSW & GISP, 7-2-2-3, $461,420.
Last Start: 2nd GII Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, FG, Mar. 20.
Accomplishments: 1st GIII Lecomte S., FG, Jan. 16, 2nd GIII Iroquois S., CD, Sept. 25, 3rd GII Risen Star S., FG, Feb. 13, 3rd GI Champagne S., BEL, Oct. 10
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 66

Jockey Mike Smith will be the new rider for this $525,000 KEESEP colt from Steve Asmussen's barn. Smith is 2-for-26 in the Derby, and it's interesting to juxtapose the odds of his two winners, Giacomo (50-1 in 2005) and Justify (the 2018 fave who went on to win the Triple Crown). But Smith's luck in the last two Derbies hasn't been so hot: In 2019, he was the rider of morning-line fave Omaha Beach, who got injured and scratched days before the race; he instead picked up the ride on 24-1 Cutting Humor, who ran tenth. Last summer, Smith opted off of eventual Derby winner Authentic to instead ride Honor A.P., who finished fourth. Smith doesn't often ride for Asmussen (they race on different circuits except for big racing days), but he won with the last two mounts the trainer offered him at Churchill last June 27. Smith's task with Midnight Bourbon will involve teaching this capable (three 93+ Beyers this year) stalker how to seal the deal, because this Tiznow bay has had trouble putting away opponents under pressure. Midnight Bourbon has never been off the board in seven lifetime starts, a nice foundation that has yet to be capped with a breakthrough effort.

8) ROCK YOUR WORLD (c, Candy Ride {Arg}–Charm the Maker, by Empire Maker)
O-Hronis Racing LLC & Talla Racing LLC. B-Ron & Deborah McAnally (KY). T-John Sadler. Sales History: $650,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GISW, 3-3-0-0, $546,600.
Last Start: 1st GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, SA, Apr. 3
Accomplishments: 1st Pasadena S., SA, Feb. 27
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 100

Although Rock Your World's record stands at a perfect 3-for-3, trainer John Sadler told TDN last week that it took a lot of behind-the-scenes prep to make the leap from winning a MSW turf sprint and a $100,000 grass stakes to wiring a Grade I field with a 100 Beyer in this colt's first dirt try. “After the Pasadena [S.], we went to work a little bit harder on things that weren't working for him. We took him to the gate three times before the Santa Anita Derby, we did extra schooling in the paddock,” Sadler said. “I also wanted to start on the grass because I thought it would be easier. He's a big horse [and I] wanted to give him time to develop, grow up, mature into himself. He's done that…. Does whatever you want. Willing worker. Pretty nice horse to train. Good energy.” Despite a pedigree with some convincing stamina influences (by Candy Ride [Arg] out of an Empire Maker mare), Rock Your World may still be in for a class shock in Louisville. His Santa Anita Derby was soft in terms of quality, with only one stakes winner among the eight horses he beat by 4 1/4 lengths.

9) SUPER STOCK (c, 3, Dialed In–Super Girlie, by Closing Argument)
O-Erv Woolsey & Keith Asmussen; B-Pedro & P J Gonzalez (KY); T-Steve Asmussen. Sales History: $70,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 8-2-2-2, $804,762.
Last Start: 1st, GI Arkansas Derby, OP, Apr. 10.
Accomplishments: 2nd Street Sense S., CD, Oct. 25; 3rd GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity, KEE, Oct. 3; 3rd GIII Iroquois S., CD, Sept. 5. Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 109

Super Stock might be a late arrival on the Derby scene, but wind the clock back to last autumn to recall this $70,000 KEESEP colt by Dialed In finished just 4 3/4 lengths behind Essential Quality in a Grade I stakes at Keeneland, then was bet down to 9-10 favoritism when second in a black-type stakes at Churchill. This Steve Asmussen trainee then didn't race for nearly five months, but apparently got more out of his 40-1 fourth in the GII Rebel S. than was evident on paper, rebounding to win the GI Arkansas Derby with a well-executed, ground-saving surge into a tiring speed setup. On the plus side, this is a horse who consistently advances his position in the stretch and could be on the cusp of getting good at the right time. On the minus side, the subpar performances of the two 'TDN Rising Stars' he passed in the stretch at Oaklawn were so iffy that the connections of Concert Tour (Street Sense) have already opted out of the Derby and those of Caddo River (Hard Spun) are still on the fence.

10) MEDINA SPIRIT (c, Protonico–Mongolian Changa, by Briliant Speed)
O-Zedan Racing Stables. B-Gail Rice (FL). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $1,000 ylg '19 OBSWIN; $35,000 2yo '20 OBSOPN. Lifetime Record: GSW & GISP, 5-2-3-0, $315,200.
Last Start: 2nd GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, SA, Apr. 3
Accomplishments: 1st Robert B. Lewis S., SA, Jan. 30, 2nd GII San Felipe S., SA, Mar. 6, 2nd GIII Sham S., SA, Jan. 2
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 74

When the subject of trainer Bob Baffert's Derby prowess gets brought up, it isn't long before someone chimes in that it's not surprising he's won six Derbies considering the depth of his well-stocked stable that annually gets replenished with fashionably bred, high-priced colts. But if Medina Spirit–Baffert's lone remaining Derby candidate this year–delivers win number seven, no one is going to say this low-budget bargain ($1,000 at OBSWIN and $35,000 OBSOPN) was out of the reach for everyone else at the sales ring. This Protonico colt's 2-3-0 record from five starts (with a Grade II stakes win and Beyers routinely in the mid-90s) is all the more impressive considering Medina Spirit was discovered to have had an entrapped epiglottis after the Mar. 6 GII San Felipe S. He had surgery to correct it, missing practically no training, and was a best-of-the-rest second behind Rock Your World in the Santa Anita Derby the first time he raced after the operation.

11) MANDALOUN (c, Into MischiefBrooch, by Empire Maker)
O/B-Juddmonte Farms Inc. (KY). T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: GSW, 5-3-0-1, $361,252.
Last Start: 6th GII Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, FG, Mar. 20
Accomplishments: 'TDN Rising Star', 1st GII Risen Star S., FG, Feb. 13, 3rd GIII Lecomte S., FG, Jan. 16
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 52

If you can avert your eyes from Mandaloun's no-punch sixth as the beaten fave in the Louisiana Derby, the overall past performance block for this 'TDN Rising Star' isn't badly tarnished. This Juddmonte homebred by Into Mischief kept credible company in his first four starts, registering improving Beyers in each of those races. He's a stalker with some seasoning and a speed-over-stamina pedigree, and he won his only start at Churchill. But beware of this red flag: Trainer Brad Cox has started a total of 10 horses on dirt at 1 1/4 miles or longer over the last five years. None have won, and only one managed to hit the board.

12) SOUP AND SANDWICH (c, Into Mischief–Souper Scoop, by Tapit)
O-Live Oak Plantation; B-Live Oak Stud (FL); T-Mark Casse. Lifetime Record: GISP, 3-2-1-0, $203,875.
Last Start: 2nd GI Curlin Florida Derby, GP, Mar. 27
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 40

I don't rank him as an overt win threat, I generally respect any young horse that trainer Mark Casse thinks is ready to attempt a sizable step up in class and distance. This gray didn't debut until Jan. 28 in a restricted sprint for Florida-breds, then only had to beat two other starters in a two-turn Tampa allowance. But this Live Oak homebred shouldered the pace burden on the front end of the Florida Derby and still had something remaining to punch back at Known Agenda in upper stretch, earning second despite finishing on his left lead through the lane.

Potentially rounding out the starting gate…

13) Caddo River (Hard Spun): The Derby status of 'TDN Rising Star' Caddo River was in limbo up until deadline for this column on Monday, and it could remain undecided until later in the week. This Hard Spun homebred for Shortleaf Stable is expected to be a key pace component if he does start in the Derby, but he appeared out of his comfort zone in each of his last two stakes preps at Oaklawn, when he was rank while stalking in the GII Rebel S. (fading to fifth) and when he got dueled into defeat in the Arkansas Derby (regaining second but not authoritatively so). Caddo River does own an impressive 9 ½-length victory at Churchill, which could be of benefit if he goes in the Derby.

14) Hidden Stash (Constitution): Deep closer Hidden Stash's two in-the-money Tampa stakes attempts were sneaky-good efforts, particularly his runner-up try in the GII Tampa Bay Derby. But he didn't advance when outclassed in the Blue Grass, checking in as a one-paced fourth with a slight Beyer regression. This $50,000 KEESEP does own a win over the Churchill main track and Hidden Stash figures to be passing horses late in the lane, making him a potential inclusion for underneath spots in exotics.

15) Helium (Ironicus): After Helium won the GII Tampa Bay Derby, trainer Mark Casse said what impressed him most was how this 3-for-3, $55,000 FTKOCT colt closed from midpack even though the pre-race strategy was to have this Ironicus colt sitting closer to the early pace. Such versatility can be a virtue in a mad-scramble race like the Kentucky Derby, which Helium will attempt off an eight-week gap. But his 84 Beyer for that effort rates on the low end for prep-race speed figures, and the nine horses that have run back out of the Tampa Derby have combined for only one next-out win and one third (both requiring class drops).

16) Bourbonic (Bernardini): This Calumet homebred required a drop into maiden-claiming company to register his first win back in December, and he subsequently failed to deliver when second in a Parx allowance two months later. Let go at 72-1 odds in the slowly run Wood Memorial, he looped the group from far back under an impeccably timed ride by Kendrick Carmouche. There is some logic in thinking that this is a horse (whose Beyers have been on an upward arc for four straight races) who is sure to get a quicker cadence to set the table for him in the Derby, so maybe lightning will strike twice.

17) Sainthood (Mshawish): Sainthood ($100,000 KEEJAN, $90,000 KEESEP RNA, $62,000 OBSOCT) was the only horse gaining on the winner when second (84 Beyer) in the GIII Jeff Ruby S. at Turfway. But that race as a whole looks aberrational considering the favorite got wiped out at the break and there was a logjam of traffic that impeded several late runners in the stretch. As a May 15 foal, Sainthood won't truly turn three before Derby day.

18) O Besos (Orb): Son of the 2013 Derby victor was most recently third, beaten just two lengths, in the Louisiana Derby. Beyers have ascended in all five starts for this homebred colt, although habit of slow starts and giving up real estate when wide into the first turns of route races could be costly in the Derby.

19) Like the King (Palace Malice): His sire won the 12-furlong Belmont S. in 2013 and his damsire (Corinthian) was a high-torque miler who won both the GI Metropolitan H. and the inaugural Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in 2007. This rangy chestnut ($28,000 KEENOV, $170,000 OBSOCT) has never been off the board in six lifetime tries, but his only three wins have been over turf (once at Belterra) and Tapeta (twice at Turfway).

20) Dream Shake (Twirling Candy): Debuted in a big way at 20-1 odds Feb. 7, earning 'TDN Rising Star' status when coasting home by 4 ¾ lengths (96 Beyer) over a decent field (two next-out winners). But since coming off Lasix and stepping up to graded stakes, this colt has twice run no-impact thirds, beaten an aggregate 16 ¾ lengths. He bulleted five-eighths in :59.20 (1/72) on Saturday at Santa Anita.

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Neuman Named Prairie Meadows Announcer

Mon, 2021-04-19 12:14

Bobby Neuman, the long-time voice of Calder Race Course and more recently a regular in the commentator's booth at Los Alamitos Race Course, will call the races at Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack and Hotel for the 2021 season. The meet begins Apr. 30 and runs through Sept. 25. Given a prior commitment to contribute to Horse Racing Radio Network's coverage of the GI Kentucky Oaks and GI Kentucky Derby, Neuman will be at the mic for the first time May 7. Former announcer Ken Miller will handle race-calling duties Apr. 30 and May 1.

“I'm really excited about getting back into the booth,” Neuman said by phone after his hiring. “Calling the races has always been my passion and I believe I will bring an accurate, entertaining, and professional approach to the fans watching Prairie Meadows racing on-track, in the simulcast outlets, and at home.

“I see the horses, the jockeys, the trainers, and the owners as the stars of the show,” Neuman added. “It's the job of a good announcer to put the spotlight on their accomplishments on the race track.”

Having earned a degree in Business Administration through the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program, Neuman first called races at the Arizona fairs in the 1990s. He moved to Thistledown for three years and was at Calder for 15 years. He has also called harness races at The Red Mile and Pompano Park, while also doing a fill-in stint at Churchill Downs.

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OBS Spring Sale Returns Tuesday

Mon, 2021-04-19 12:09

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, which was delayed until June in 2020 due to the pandemic, returns to its traditional spot on the calendar when it begins its four-day run in Central Florida Tuesday.

“It feels good to have April back in its normal slot,” agreed OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski.

OBS opened the 2021 juvenile sales season with a competitive renewal of its March sale last month which featured frenetic bidding through a wide swath of the market.

“We certainly would like to capitalize on the momentum from the March sale,” Wojciechowski said. “There were a lot of people on the grounds and a lot of people hungry for horses in March. We hope that trend continues. And there seems to be a good feel on the grounds so far.”

The March sale included a strong middle market. If that trend is to continue at the Spring sale, it will have to do so with the ongoing absence of Korean buyers, who have helped drive the middle market in recent years. South Korea currently has an embargo on importing foreign racehorses as a way to counteract the economic impact of the pandemic on the country's breeding industry.

“I see promise [for the middle market],” Wojciechowski said. “If the demand that we saw in March continues, that will certainly help things. We are going to miss the Korean buyers, but I think we have the capability to pick up that slack.”

OBS hosted a rain-shortened six-session under-tack show last week. The company was forced to cancel the first day of the show due to stormy weather, but added horses each day of the remaining days to compensate. The start of Saturday's final session was delayed over an hour by rain.

“It's April and it sometimes rains in April in Florida, as we all know,” Wojciechowski said. “But fortunately, we had built in a little extra time. The initial plan was to breeze over seven days, but we had that opportunity that if we were presented with a situation like we had on Sunday we could adjust and overcome it. And we got very lucky Saturday, there was rain all around us and rain early in the morning, but we were able to pull it off.”

During the under-tack show, a pair of fillies by first-crop sires earned the quarter-mile bullet of :20 2/5; a daughter of Classic Empire (hip 317, video) and a daughter of Cupid (hip 576, video). Twenty juveniles shared the week's fastest furlong time of :9 4/5.

With 1,217 horses catalogued for the four-day auction, buyers were spread out over the entire OBS backstretch during a busy day of showing around the raindrops Sunday.

“We are dealing with some rain, but in between the rain you see a lot of horses out around the barns and a lot of people looking,” Wojciechowski said. “We have 1200 horses on the grounds and there are horses in all 29 barns. The horses aren't as concentrated in one area, so sometimes it may not look like there are that many people. But there sure are a lot of people out here looking.”

A Top Line Sales-consigned filly by Not This Time topped the 2020 Spring sale when selling for $1.35 million to bloodstock agent Gary Young on behalf of Zedan Racing. Named Princess Noor, she won last year's GI Del Mar Debutante S. The filly was one of two to bring seven figures at the auction. In all, 634 head sold for $57,715,000 for an average of $91,033 and a median of $50,000.

The OBS Spring sale will be held Tuesday through Friday, with bidding beginning each day at 10:30 a.m.

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Pricey Cezanne Wins Big in Return to the Races

Sun, 2021-04-18 21:07

Cezanne (Curlin), who topped the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale in 2019 at $3.65 million, stamped himself as one to watch for this year with a dominant victory in Santa Anita's GIII Kona Gold S. Sunday evening. A debut winner going this same 6 1/2 furlongs last June, the Coolmore partners and St. Elias Stable representative doubled up going a mile at Los Alamitos in July. He was most recently fourth in Del Mar's Aug. 1 Shared Belief S. behind million-dollar stablemate Thousand Words (Pioneerof the Nile) and $850,000 GISW Honor A. P. (Honor Code). The hulking bay had been working very quickly for this, and was off as the 9-5 second choice in a field of four behind last-out GII San Carlos S. hero Brickyard Ride (Clubhouse Ride).

Away cleanly but last from the rail, Cezanne sat third some

10 lengths behind the fleet-footed Brickyard Ride as that foe zipped through splits of :21.18 and :43.60 with Cezanne's stablemate Ax Man (Misremembered) applying pressure. Cezanne cruised ominously closer heading for home as the pacesetter was clearly feeling his early exertions. Brickyard Ride came well off the fence entering the lane, and Cezanne cut the corner and seized the lead before running up the score to 9 3/4 lengths. Brickyard Ride held second over Fight On (Into Mischief).

“It worked out well,” said rider Flavien Prat. “We had a fast pace in front of us and we were able to save ground.  He gave me a good kick when I asked him. He ran really nice.”

Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, added, “We knew there was going to be a hot pace. Not sure how fast, but it ended up being fast, and you know Cezanne just ate them up.  [Prat] gave him a wonderful ride and Bob had him ready… With the races coming up this spring and summer, we should be looking really good with Cezanne.”

Sunday, Santa Anita
KONA GOLD S.-GIII, $98,000, Santa Anita, 4-18, 3yo/up, 6 1/2f, 1:14.71, ft.
1–CEZANNE, 122, c, 4, by Curlin
          1st Dam: Achieving, by Bernardini
          2nd Dam: Teeming, by Storm Cat
          3rd Dam: Better Than Honour, by Deputy Minister
1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($3,650,000
2yo '19 FTFMAR). O-Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick
Smith & St Elias Stable; B-Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings, Inc. &
St. Elias Stables, LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert; J-Flavien Prat.
$60,000. Lifetime Record: 4-3-0-0, $123,000. *1/2 to
Counterforce (Smart Strike), SW, $323,708; and Arabian
Hope (Distorted Humor), GSW-Tur, SW & G1SP-Eng, $227,783.
Click for eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick Rating:
   A+++ *Triple Plus*.
2–Brickyard Ride, 126, c, 4, Clubhouse Ride–Brickyard Helen,
by Southern Image. O/B-Alfred A. Pais (CA); T-Craig Anthony
Lewis. $20,000.
3–Fight On, 124, h, 6, Into Mischief–Havenlass, by Elusive
Quality. ($340,000 Ylg '16 KEESEP). O-C T R Stables LLC
(Calvert) & Westside Racing Stable; B-Haymarket Farm LLC
(KY); T-Doug F. O'Neill. $12,000.
Margins: 9 3/4, 1 1/4, 3/4. Odds: 1.90, 0.60, 20.90.
Also Ran: Ax Man. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

Cezanne was a :10 flat breezer at Gulfstream. Coolmore's M.V. Magnier was also involved in the acquisition of three of the next five lots. With the auction having been cancelled last year due to the pandemic, representatives of Coolmore bought two colts at last month's sale–the $2.6-million Nyquist topper and $1.3-million Uncle Mo third topper.

Pedigree Notes:
Cezanne is the 70th stakes winner, 40th graded, for super sire Curlin–who was also responsible earlier on the card for dominant Baffert-trained firster Curvette. Cezanne is bred on a potent cross also responsible for last year's GI Coaching Club American Oaks winner Paris Lights and leading 2021 GI Kentucky Oaks contender Clairiere.

Bernardini sits at 11th on the broodmare sire list for 2021 with significantly fewer mares than the majority of older counterparts above him. His ever-growing list of stakes winners as a broodmare sire sits at 49 (28 graded), and includes this year's GI Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational S. hero Colonel Liam (Liam's Map).

The winner's dam Achieving is a great granddaughter of Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour. Achieving produced a full sister to Curlin in 2019. Vinnie Viola's St. Elias has had serious success with sons of Curlin, including GI Breeders' Cup Classic hero Vino Rosso and this year's GI Curlin Florida Derby winner Known Agenda, who is GI Kentucky Derby bound.

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Familiar Faces Atop Aqueduct Spring Standings

Sun, 2021-04-18 19:15

Jockey Jose Ortiz defeated his brother Irad Ortiz, Jr. 24-17 to come out on top of standings for Aqueduct's 11-day spring meet. Leading trainer Chad Brown recorded 10 victories, while his owner Peter Brant tied Orlando and Jonathan Noda's Noda Brothers with four wins to share the owner's title.

“It's a big deal,” Ortiz said. “We're happy with where we are and it sets us up for the Belmont meet… It's nice to win and I'm also happy for Irad; he's had a great start of the year. He congratulated me earlier and said he's proud of me, and that means a lot.”

Irad Ortiz currently leads all jockeys in the nation by wins and purse earnings.

“I'm very appreciative; it was a long winter just preparing for this meet,” said Brown, the New York Racing Association's leading trainer for the last six years. “Our program is tailored around NYRA, mostly, just getting the horses ready all winter. After missing a lot of last year, this year's start has been more traditional for us. It feels good and gives us a sense of normalcy to get back on track with how we point our horses to begin their seasons in April in New York.”

Racing on the NYRA circuit now moves to Belmont Park for the 48-day spring/summer meet that runs from Thursday, Apr. 22 through Sunday, July 11.

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Curlin Debutante Runs to the Money at Santa Anita

Sun, 2021-04-18 16:53

2nd-Santa Anita, $61,000, Msw, 4-18, 3yo/up, f/m, 6 1/2f, 1:16.86, ft, 5 1/2 lengths.
CURVETTE (f, 3, Curlin–Fiftyshadesofhay {MGSW & MGISP, $1,097,951}, by Pulpit) was bet like a good thing for her debut Sunday at Santa Anita and ran to the money with an open-length score for Bob Baffert. Showing an upbeat local worktab capped by a five-furlong spin in 1:00 flat (9/64) Apr. 11, the Stonestreet homebred broke cleanly as the 6-5 favorite. Tracking barnmate Reem (Danza) from a close second through a :22.07 quarter, the bay turned up the heat on that rival in hand past a :45.27 half and drew on even terms heading for home. Drifting in outside the furlong grounds, she took charge soon after straightening out and kicked clear despite staying on her left lead for a 5 1/2-length success. Reem held for second. The winner's dam, bought by Stonestreet for $1.4 million at Keeneland November in 2014, has a yearling Medaglia d'Oro filly and produced a colt by Ghostzapper Mar. 29. Sales History: $95,000 RNA Ylg '19 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $36,600. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.
O-Stonestreet Stables LLC; B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert.

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Rosario to Ride Rock Your World in Derby

Sun, 2021-04-18 15:54

Jockey Joel Rosario will replace Umberto Rispoli on unbeaten GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby hero Rock Your World (Candy Ride {Arg}) in the GI Kentucky Derby. The decision came after it was announced that Bob Baffert trainee Concert Tour (Street Sense), who Rosario had ridden in each of his four starts, would skip the Derby and opt for the GI Preakness S.

Rosario rode Rock Your World in his turf sprint debut win at Santa Anita Jan. 1, but Rispoli was up for both the Pasadena S. and Santa Anita Derby. Rosario has had significant success riding for Rock Your World's trainer John Sadler and co-owner Hronis Racing, including with 2018 Horse of the Year Accelerate (Lookin At Lucky).

“Let's be very clear here, I was rooting for [Bob Baffert's] Concert Tour to win the [Apr. 10 GI] Arkansas Derby and [then] this is all a non-conversation,” Sadler said on the “Thoroughbred Los Angeles” radio show Sunday morning. “We decided to wait until after the Concert Tour race to see what was going to happen and nobody could've predicted that (a third-place finish), really. I mean, he was 1-5 or whatever and then he didn't run on.

“So, when Joel came available…You know, these are agonizing decisions and not easy. I want to be very clear, I think the world of Rispoli and I think the world of his riding. He's a terrific rider on our circuit and he's been a great addition to California and will continue to be. But, I had to make a call and this is the call I made… History will tell whether I'm right or wrong. Things could go bad, you know, overnight in this game, but this is the decision we made for this race, so you know, we have to live with it and go forward.

“We think with [Joel's] experience over the track… And just my relationship with him and these owners (Hronis Racing LLC and Talla Racing LLC)… this gives us our strongest position. So, this is what we're going to do.”

Sadler said that Rock Your World would ship to Louisville on Sunday, Apr. 26.

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Butler to Receive TOC’s Ed Friendly Award

Sun, 2021-04-18 14:14

Aidan Butler, Chief Operating Officer, 1/ST RACING and President, 1/ST CONTENT, has been selected by the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) as recipient of the 2020 Ed Friendly Industry Service Award. The award is presented annually to recognize outstanding contributions and service in the Thoroughbred racing industry. Originally known as the TOC Chairman's Award, it was renamed for the legendary television producer, Thoroughbred owner and TOC founding member following his death in 2007. Former recipients include Mace Siegel, John Harris, Bob and Beverly Lewis, Jerry and Ann Moss, and Clement Hirsch.

“We are very pleased to honor Aidan with this award,” said TOC Chairman Gary Fenton. “Aidan came to Southern California two years ago and navigated us through an existential crisis and the institution of historic medication changes. He created trust and relationships between stakeholders and was instrumental in bolstering the now thriving Southern California racing circuit.”

“There isn't an hour in the day that anyone–from staff to racing fans–cannot reach Aidan,” Fenton added. “His dedication to making this industry and everyone around him better is admirable and makes him very deserving of having his name on the same list as so many other industry legends.”

Butler will be recognized at TOC's Southern California Annual Meeting at Del Mar on Aug. 14.

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Laurel Resurfacing Project Begins

Sat, 2021-04-17 22:12

Edited Press Release

The reconstruction of the Laurel Park dirt surface began in earnest April 17 as heavy machinery began removing the cushion from the base from the rail out. Maryland Jockey Club Track Superintendent Chris Bosley said that over the next several days the cushion will be removed and the base will be inspected to determine if there are any deficiencies. Bosley, who has been in contact with Glen Kozak, who oversees racing surfaces for the New York Racing Association, said the MJC is in the process of locating base material from New York that was used to successfully rebuild the bases at Saratoga Race Course and the nearby Oklahoma Training Track.

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Antonacci Wins First Race as a Trainer

Sat, 2021-04-17 20:26

Godolphin Flying Start graduate Philip Antonacci won his first race as a trainer Saturday when Advanced Strategy (Karakontie {Jpn}) took an allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream Park. Antonacci said he's only officially been training on his own since January, but grew up spending summers in the barn with his brother, Frank, a trainer for their family's prominent Standardbred operation.

“We're very excited about [the first win],” said Antonacci. “It was good for the whole team, a morale boost. We've only had four starters, so we've got a good percentage going right now. I have a good team.”

Antonacci drove professionally in the harness world for a short time and said he had seven or eight wins. “But I always had my eyes on training [Thoroughbreds].” He said in addition to graduating from the Flying Start program in 2019, he has worked for a number of trainers, including Wesley Ward in the U.S. and Gai Waterhouse in Australia. He's also been closely associated with Harness Racing Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter.

“Hopefully there's many more winners in our future,” said Antonacci. “We're at Payson Park right now, but headed at the end of the month to Monmouth. We've got 10 babies. Hopefully this will give us some momentum.”

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Letruska Denies Monomoy Girl in Apple Blossom; Swiss Skydiver Third

Sat, 2021-04-17 19:25

St George Stables' Letruska (Super Saver) completed an ascent from the humblest of humble beginnings to the highest of highs in the Thoroughbred game, fighting back willingly inside of multiple Eclipse Award winner and two-time GI Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) to take Saturday's $1-million GI Apple Blossom H. by half a head. Reigning 3-year-old champion Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) couldn't go with the top two late and settled for third.

The contrarians were out in force all across social media since the Apple Blossom was drawn Tuesday, reasoning that Letruska had the speed to lead the field and was a danger to take them all the way. Turns out 'they' knew.

Last year's GI Preakness S. winner Swiss Skydiver, exiting a dominant 4-year-old debut in the GI Beholder Mile S. last month, was kicked away from gate two by Robby Albarado, but the lead was short-lived, as Letruska was hustled along by Irad Ortiz, Jr. and set the pace from the two path through an opening quarter in :23.56. She left the rail open down the backstretch, did Letruska, allowing Swiss Skydiver to hold her spot at the fence, 3/4 of a length behind, while Monomoy Girl was sitting her usual trip in the clear, ridden by Florent Geroux like the best horse in the race.

Letruska continued to gallop them along comfortably as they approached the second turn, and Florent Geroux slipped the odds-on favorite a bit more rein, sidling up next to Letruska nearing the stretch. Albarado was committed to riding for luck along the inside, and the gap did come at the rail, giving her a shot were she equal to the task. She was soon beaten, however, and it was Monomoy Girl who looked to have the momentum as she surged to a clear advantage a furlong and a half from home. The champ held the call into the final sixteenth of a mile, but Letruska–in receipt of six pounds–remained in for the fight down towards the inside and was up in the nick of time.

“The instructions were: 'We are the speed of the race,'” said winning trainer Fausto Gutierrez, who also conditioned Mexican imports Kukulkan (Mex) (Point Determined) and Jala Jala (Mex) (Point Determined). “She started a little bit slow in the last races. I told Irad [Ortiz, Jr.], 'No matter if this happens, you try to move and go in front and set the pace and make the others think: What do you have to do?'”

He continued, “When [Monomoy Girl] took the lead and I saw Swiss Skydiver start to go a little bit back, in my mind, I thought second is very good. We finished close. She started to come back and come back. I didn't see the picture very clearly. I went carefully to check the replay and I thought, 'Oops, we won.' For me, this is incredible because I come from a small racetrack in Mexico City. This horse started her career there. We had the confidence to send her here (United States) and she started to improve, improve and improve.”

A perfect six-for-six in Mexico, Letuska won the restricted Copa del Caribe in her U.S. debut in December 2019 and made Gulfstream's Added Elegance S. her first win at stakes level last June. A weakening fifth in the GI Ballerina S. at Saratoga Aug. 8, she was given an aggressive ride by Joel Rosario and held on for a one-length success in the GIII Shuvee S. Aug. 30, but was no better than fourth after setting a suicidal pace in the GII Beldame S. at Belmont Oct. 4. Letruska shed the blinkers and romped in the GIII Rampart S. in Hallandale Dec. 12, was the easy winner of the GIII Houston Ladies' Classic Jan. 31 and missed by a head to last year's GI Kentucky Oaks heroine Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil) in this track's GII Azeri S. Mar. 13.

Pedigree Notes:

Letruska, purchased in utero for $100,000 at KEENOV in 2015, is the fifth Grade I winner for the expatriated Super Saver and is one of three black-type performers for her Grade II-placed dam, a full-sister to Grade I winner J P's Gusto and a half-sister to Kid Majic (Lemon Drop Kid), the dam of two-time Sovereign Award winner and GSW Miss Mischief (Into Mischief) and MSP Mind Out (Tapit). Letruska's third dam produced Pacific Spell (Langfuhr), whose daughter Proud Spell (Proud Citizen) won the 2008 GI Kentucky Oaks en route to an Eclipse Award; SW No Distortion (Distorted Humor)l; GSP Proud Pearl (Proud Citizen); and SP Really Proud (Kitten's Joy). Magic Appeal is the dam of the 2-year-old colt Ocotzingo (Hard Spun), a yearling colt by Arrogate and is due to Malibu Moon for 2021.

Saturday, Oaklawn Park
APPLE BLOSSOM H.-GI, $1,000,000, Oaklawn, 4-17, 4yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16m, 1:43.14, ft.
1–LETRUSKA, 118, m, 5, by Super Saver
1st Dam: Magic Appeal (GSP), by Successful Appeal
2nd Dam: Call Her Magic, by Caller I. D.
3rd Dam: Malibu Magic, by Encino
1ST GRADE I WIN. O/B-St. George Stable LLC (KY); T-Fausto
Gutierrez; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr. $600,000. Lifetime Record:
18-13-1-1, $1,157,319. *1/2 to Trigger Warning (Candy Ride
{Arg}), MSW & GISP, $555,378. Werk Nick Rating: A.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Monomoy Girl, 124, m, 6, by Tapizar
1st Dam: Drumette, by Henny Hughes
2nd Dam: Endless Parade, by Williamstown
3rd Dam: Mnemosyne, by Saratoga Six
($100,000 Ylg '16 KEESEP; $9,500,000 5yo '20 FTKNOV).
O-My Racehorse Stable, Spendthrift Farm LLC and Madaket
Stables LLC; B-FPF LLC & Highfield Ranch (KY); T-Brad H. Cox.
$200,000.
3–Swiss Skydiver, 122, f, 4, by Daredevil
1st Dam: Expo Gold, by Johannesburg
2nd Dam: Clouds of Gold, by Strike the Gold
3rd Dam: Cloudy Colors, by Personal Flag
($35,000 Ylg '18 KEESEP). O-Peter J. Callahan; B-WinStar Farm, LLC (KY); T-Kenneth G. McPeek. $100,000.
Margins: NO, 6HF, 1 1/4. Odds: 3.40, 0.70, 1.90.
Also Ran: Getridofwhatailesu, Another Broad, Chance to Shine.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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Liam’s Map Filly Puts in Bullet Work for Flying Fish at OBS

Sat, 2021-04-17 18:52

A Liam's Map filly (Hip 1188) from the Flying Fish consignment looks to become the next star to come out of Art Fisher's training center after being one of eight juveniles to work a bullet in :9 4/5 during the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's Spring Sale under-tack show Saturday. The start of the sixth and final session was delayed until 9:30 a.m. due to storms in the forecast.

“The third time I breezed her, I called the guy who owns her and said, 'This filly is diseased with speed.' So, I kind of put in her in the freezer and I didn't have to do much with her,” said Fisher. “I couldn't have been more proud of her. She went out in :20 4/5 and she x-rays and scopes perfect. She has been very good the whole season.”

Bred by Edwin Anthony, Hip 1188 was purchased by Fisher's longtime client Tom Bozarth's Arch Bloodstock for $50,000 at Keeneland September.

“She has done great,” Fisher said. “She has grown probably two hands. She has gained a lot of weight, never misses an oat. She lays down a lot and is very smart around the barn, very sensible. Anybody can walk her. You can walk her with a kite string, but when you put the tack on her, she knows what the game is about.”

Flying Fish's Spring Sale consignment is comprised of nine horses this year with the Liam's Map filly being the fastest worker. The second quickest breezer is a Medaglia d'Oro colt out of MGSW Tin Type Gal (Tapit) (Hip 320), who belongs to another longtime client of Fisher, Len Riggio of My Meadowview. The colt went in :10 flat earlier this week.

“I broke Tin Type Gal for Mr. Riggio too,” Fisher said. “This colt is incredible. A friend of mine, who is in the Hall of Fame, came by and said this colt had the best work he has seen in the sale.”

Tin Type Gal is one of many talented runners to go through Fisher's program over the years. He broke, trained and sold MGISW Secret Circle (Eddington) at OBS March for $165,000; and conditioned the top two finishers in last year's GI Pennsylvania Derby, Mr. Money (Goldencents) and Math Wizard (Algorithm). Fisher also broke and trained consecutive GI Preakness S. winners in Pine Bluff (Danzig) and Prairie Bayou (Little Missouri), both of whom were owned by John Ed Anthony's Loblolly Stables.

Anthony has since changed his stable name to Shortleaf Stable, but he still works with Fisher and they have a chance at more Classic success with GI Kentucky Derby contender Caddo River (Hard Spun). Winner of the Smarty Jones S. earlier this year, the homebred most recently finished second in the Apr. 10 GI Arkansas Derby.

“After I breezed him five or six times, I called Mr. Anthony and said, 'I am afraid to breeze him anymore. He is just too fast. He needs to get off this training track,'” Fisher said. “So, we sent him up to Brad [Cox] and the rest is history. He is a lovely horse and I couldn't be more proud of him.”

The other seven juveniles to breeze in :9 4/5 Saturday were: Hip 1036, an Upstart colt (video); Hip 1068, a son of Bird Song (video); Hip 1099, a filly by red-hot sire Into Mischief (video); Hip 1115, a Kobe's Back colt (video); Hip 1118, a daughter of Frosted (video); Hip 1140, a colt by Union Jackson (video); and oftlineHip 1174, a filly by Dialed in (video). There was one colt to work a bullet quarter-mile in :20 3/5, Hip 1135, a son of freshman sire Connect (video).

The four-day OBS Spring Sale gets underway Tuesday with sessions beginning at 10 a.m.

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Bankruptcy Trustee Warns of Risk that Zayat Will Wipe Away Electronic Records

Sat, 2021-04-17 16:26

Two weeks after being granted an extra month to determine if Ahmed Zayat is hiding assets while seeking Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, the court-assigned trustee in the case told a federal judge Friday that the allegedly insolvent owner and breeder of Triple Crown champ American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) is still trying to evade scrutiny by withholding records.

And trustee Jeffrey Testa further warned that the longer the case drags on, the higher the risk is that Zayat will wipe away cloud-storage financials before the trustee can examine those documents.

Testa now wants the judge to “compel turnover” of Zayat's trove of electronic records, and to “direct” Zayat to cooperate with the investigation, according to an Apr. 16 United States Bankruptcy Court (District of New Jersey) filing.

In that document, the legal team for the trustee wrote that because of the “serious and disturbing allegations of fraud at play in this case,” the court “should not leave it to chance that Mr. Zayat or his designees will act competently” to maintain the integrity of the evidence.

“Given the overwhelming allegations of fraud and expected sought-after delay, the Chapter 7 Trustee simply cannot wait any longer for access to the Cloud,” the filing states. “Although Mr. Zayat has represented that the Cloud is secure and that he is aware of his obligations, the longer the information on the Cloud remains in the hands of Mr. Zayat the more susceptible it is to manipulation or destruction, and this ongoing and unreasonable delay impedes the Chapter 7 Trustee's investigation.”

The job of trustee in a voluntary bankruptcy case is to make sure that a debtor's claim of insolvency is on the up-and-up. In Zayat's case, he alleged in his initial filing last September that he has $19 million in debt but only $314.22 in assets, with a huge chunk of that money owed to Thoroughbred-related creditors.

People who file for bankruptcy protection generally try to cooperate with their assigned trustees, because without the trustee's seal of approval, their debt likely won't get forgiven by a judge.

But Zayat's case has been riddled with accusations of his stonewalling and evasion since the outset of the initial hearings. Zayat, through his attorney, has repeatedly denied those claims and stated that he has been a willing and cooperative petitioner.

Not only can a trustee file an objection if aspects of the filing don't seem legit, but if alleged fraud is uncovered in a bankruptcy petition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation can investigate, and the U.S. Department of Justice can prosecute.

The trustee's request to the judge on Friday capped a week of drawn-out, back-and-forth demand letters and phone conferences between the trustee and Zayat's legal team over whether and how the access to his cloud-storage records would be granted.

According to the filing, just when the trustee thought the parties had agreed on safeguards that would satisfy Zayat's concerns about not wanting anyone to read his family's personal emails, Zayat on Apr. 15 instead proposed an unworkable alternative, which essentially was that the trustee should ask for specific financials it believed were stored in the cloud and Zayat would retrieve them for the trustee.

“This proposed process was simply a close cousin of Mr. Zayat's previous proposals designed, in the Trustee's view, to dictate and control the process contrary to law [and] leave the Cloud unsecured, delay, and make Mr. Zayat the lynchpin of any document search and review,” the filing states.

“Mr. Zayat's primary basis for refusing to grant the requested access is that the Cloud allegedly commingles and contains his emails and those of his family members that are supposedly unrelated to the Debtor's business and that might comingle and contain, among other things, HIPAA-implicated, non-business, and attorney client-privileged communications,” the filing continues.

“The fact that Debtor's principal and his family members supposedly decided to mix business and non-Debtor affairs does not negate Debtor's statutory duty to turn over property of the estate and recorded information to the Chapter 7 Trustee,” the filing asserts. “There is simply no valid reason why the Chapter 7 Trustee should not be granted access to independently secure the Cloud. The law does not support Mr. Zayat's position…

“Given these circumstances and Mr. Zayat's decision not to allow the Chapter 7 Trustee to have access to and independently secure the Cloud and its contents raise serious concerns on the part of the Chapter 7 Trustee that the cloud and its contents might not be secure while under Mr. Zayat's exclusive possession and control, and that the Chapter 7 Trustee might be obstructed in reviewing documents that can lead to recoveries for the benefit of all creditors.

“The Chapter 7 Trustee has already taken steps to engage a reputable IT partner–Epiq–to take control of the Cloud, preserve it, and copy its contents. Mr. Zayat will have access copies to any information on the Cloud once it is secured; thus there is and will be no prejudice to Mr. Zayat or his family members,” the filing states.

MGG Investment Group, LP, the lender that is separately suing Zayat and his family members for allegedly obtaining a $24 million loan by fraud and then not repaying it, has alleged in court documents that the trustee needs to examine bank accounts in the names of Zayat's wife (Joanne Zayat) and son (Justin Zayat) because “they appear to have been used as conduits through which Sherif El Zayat, the Debtor's brother, loaned money to Ahmed Zayat.”

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