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Gun Runner, Justify, Rosario Join Hall of Fame

Tue, 2024-04-23 11:49

Triple Crown winner Justify, champion Gun Runner, and jockey Joel Rosario lead a class of nine new members to be inducted this year to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame. In addition to those three entries–all in their first year of eligibility–jockey Abe Hawkins and racehorses Aristides and Lecomte have been selected by the Pre-1900 Historic Review Committee; and Harry F. Guggenheim, Clement L. Hirsch, and Joe Hirsch were chosen by the Pillars of the Turf Committee.

Joel Rosario, 39, a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, has won 3,604 races through Apr. 20 and ranks fourth all time in North American purse earnings with $318,313,804 in a career that began in 2003. He has ranked among the top 10 in North American earnings 15 times, including topping the list in 2021 with a career-best $32,956,215. He has also ranked in the top 10 in wins five times.

The Eclipse Award winner for outstanding jockey in 2021, Rosario won the 2013 GI Kentucky Derby with Orb and the GI Belmont S. with Tonalist (2014) and Sir Winston (2019). He has won 15 Breeders' Cup races, including the Classic with champion Accelerate (2018) and Horse of the Year Knicks Go (2021).

Joel Rosario | Lauren King

Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}–Quiet Giant, by Giant's Causeway) won the Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year and champion older male in 2017. Racing from 2015 through 2018, he compiled a record of 12-3-2 from 19 starts and earnings of $15,988,500, the second-highest total of any North American-based horse (behind Hall of Famer Arrogate).

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen for owners Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, Gun Runner's championship season in 2017 included Grade I wins in the Breeders' Cup Classic, Woodward, Whitney, and Stephen Foster.

As a 3-year-old in 2016, he won the GI Clark H. He made one start in 2018 prior to being retired, winning the GI Pegasus World Cup. Overall, he won races at seven different tracks.

Gun Runner with Goncalvo Torrealba, Scott Blasi, and Ron Winchell | Sarah Andrew

Justify (Scat Daddy–Stage Magic, by Ghostzapper) became America's 13th Triple Crown winner and was voted the Eclipse Award winner for Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male in 2018. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert for owners China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing, and WinStar Farm, he crossed the finish line first in all six of his career starts, spanning 111 days from his career debut on Feb. 18, 2018, through his Belmont S. victory on June 9.

The three contemporary selections were chosen by a nationwide voting panel of 177 members from a group of 17 finalists submitted by the Hall of Fame's Nominating Committee. To be elected, finalists are required to receive 50% plus one vote (majority approval) from the voting panel after earning two-thirds support from the Nominating Committee to advance to the ballot.

Abe Hawkins earned nicknames including “The Black Prince,” “The Dark Sage of Louisiana,” and “The Slayer of Lexington” for his prowess as a jockey in the pre- and post-Civil War years. Arguably the most celebrated rider in America prior to Isaac Murphy and the first Black athlete to gain national prominence, Hawkins is remembered foremost for his victory aboard Lecomte vs. Lexington at the Metairie Course in New Orleans on April 1, 1854. That day, Hawkins piloted Lecomte to a record 7:26 for the distance of four miles to hand Lexington the lone defeat in his Hall of Fame career.

An enslaved person on Duncan Kenner's Ashland plantation in   Louisiana, Hawkins won a documented 25 races from 1864 through 1866 and countless informal and undocumented events during the course of his career. Hawkins first appeared as a

rider at Metairie in 1851 and rode for Kenner for a decade beginning in 1854. After the Civil War, as a free man, Hawkins went north and achieved celebrity and fortune, particularly at Saratoga Race Course, Jerome Park, and the course at Paterson, N.J.

Bred in Kentucky by his owner, H. P. McGrath, Aristides (Leamington–Sarong, by Lexington), a chestnut colt foaled in 1872, won the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875. Trained by Hall of Famer Ansel Williamson, Aristides, a week before the Derby, finished out of the money in the Phoenix Hotel S. He came back in the Derby before a crowd of 10,000 to defeat Volcano by a length. His time of 2:37 3/4 was the fastest ever to that date by a 3-year-old for 1 1/2 miles.

Bred in Kentucky by Gen. Thomas Jefferson Wells, Lecomte (Boston–Reel, by Glencoe), a chestnut colt foaled in 1850, made his debut at the Metairie Course in New Orleans on April 5, 1853, in a 2-year-old sweepstakes at mile heats. Lecomte won both mile heats, including a time of 1:45 1/2 in the second heat, the fastest ever raced in America at the time. He returned to win at two-mile heats at the Pharsalia Course in Mississippi before winning three races in three weeks back at Metairie to remain undefeated through five starts. His victory on Jan. 6, 1854, was in mile heats against Sallie Ward, considered one of the best mares in the South prior to the Civil War. Lecomte was finally defeated when he met up with Hall of Famer Lexington

in the Great State Post Stakes in consecutive four-mile heats.

A week later, Lecomte met Lexington again in the Jockey Club Purse, again at four-mile heats. Lecomte won the first heat by six lengths in 7:26, more than six seconds faster than the record set by Hall of Famer Fashion a dozen years earlier. Lecomte won the second heat by four lengths in 7:38 3/4, which handed Lexington the lone defeat of his career.

Lecomte then won the Association Purse in Mississippi and walked over for another purse two days later before returning to New Orleans and winning another Jockey Club purse. Early in 1855, Lecomte had won nine of 10 races and owned American records for one and four miles.

The Museum's Historic Review Committee considered only candidates from before 1900 this year. The committee will review the era of 1900 through 1959 in 2025 and 1960 through 2000 in 2026.

Harry F. Guggenheim was a leading figure in the fields of publishing, mining, government service, aeronautics, and philanthropy. Born in New Jersey in 1890, Guggenheim developed a passion for racing after graduating from Cambridge University. He became a significant figure in the sport as an owner, breeder, and industry leader.

Under the name Cain Hoy Stable, Guggenheim won 540 races as an owner with purse earnings of $6.2 million. He also bred the winners of 1,230 races (those horses earned $8.7 million). Cain Hoy campaigned 1953 Kentucky Derby winner Dark Star (a

$6,500 purchase and the only horse to defeat Native Dancer), champion Bald Eagle (back-to-back winner of the Washington, D.C., International), and Hall of Fame member Ack Ack (who raced for Buddy Fogelson and wife Greer Garson after Guggenheim's death and was Horse of the Year in 1971).

Cain Hoy-bred standouts included champions Crafty Admiral and Never Bend; Kentucky Oaks winners Lalun (1955), Hidden Talent (1959), Make Sail (1960), and Sally Ship (1963); Bold Reason, winner of the American Derby, Hollywood Derby and Travers S. in 1971; San San, winner of the 1972 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe; and multiple stakes winner One-Eyed King.

Guggenheim, who was elected to The Jockey Club in 1951, was the leading breeder in total earnings in England and Ireland in 1963.

Along with Hall of Fame members John W. Hanes and Christopher T. Chenery, Guggenheim outlined a plan for a non-profit to reorganize New York racing in the 1950s, which eventually led to the creation of the New York Racing Association.

In 1969, with his health failing, Guggenheim dispersed all his stock except his stallions and homebred colt Ack Ack. His breeding stock went to Keeneland's fall sale that year and his horses in training were sold at Belmont Park for a gross of $4,751,200 for 137 head, a record gross for a dispersal.

Clement L. Hirsch was born in 1914 in St. Louis into a successful family of retail merchants. In 1936, Hirsch founded the Dog Town Packing Company in Vernon, Calif., which became a prominent pet food producer he later renamed Kal Kan Foods, Inc. He also was the founder of Stagg Foods of Costa Mesa, which he built into a major producer of canned chili. He sold Stagg Foods in 1996 to Hormel Foods.

Hirsch purchased his first racehorse in 1947. During his more

than 50 years as an owner, Hirsch employed only two trainers. He first hired Robert H. “Red” McDaniel, then Warren Stute, who remained with him for more than 40 years. A member of The Jockey Club, Hirsch was successful with a number of horses imported from South America, among them the colt Figonero, who won the 1969 Hollywood Gold Cup. He was also successful with the filly Magical Maiden, who won the 1991 Hollywood Starlet and the 1992 Las Virgenes S. In 1993, Magical  Maiden won the Chula Vista H. at Del Mar, a race that track officials later renamed the Clement L. Hirsch H.

While successful racing horses, Hirsch is best remembered in the sport as a co-founder and President of the Oak Tree Racing Association. In 1968, the operators of Del Mar decided to cancel their fall racing program and to host only a summer meet.

Hirsch, along with businessman/racehorse owner Louis R. Rowan, veterinarian Dr. Jack Robbins, and other racing enthusiasts, formed Oak Tree to annually host a fall meet at Santa Anita Park. It proved to be successful and Hirsch served as its president from its inception until his death in 2000. The Oak Tree meetings also benefited numerous racing charities.

Born in New York City in 1928, Joe Hirsch enjoyed a prolific journalism career that carried him from the eras of Citation and Native Dancer to the dawn of the 21st century. He earned a degree in journalism from New York University, then served in the United States Army for four years. Following his time in the military, Hirsch worked briefly for The New York Times before joining the staff at The Morning Telegraph. He then transitioned to its companion publication, Daily Racing Form, where he spent 49 years (1954 through 2003) and became one of racing's most visible and impactful figures. Hirsch became the Form's executive columnist in 1974 and held that title until his retirement.

Through his omnipresent and comprehensive reporting and personal access to the leaders and prominent participants in the sport, Hirsch became highly influential and used his platform to become one of the game's greatest ambassadors.

The Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame was created in his honor in 2010 to recognize career excellence in media. Additionally, the press boxes at Churchill Downs and Saratoga are named in his honor, as are journalism scholarships at the University of Kentucky and one through the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, a Grade I grass race, is held each fall in New York.

“Joe Hirsch was much more than just the dean of American racing writers for half a century. He was a global ambassador for the sport, a mentor to two generations of journalists, and probably the most universally respected figure in the world of horse racing,” said Steven Crist, a longtime colleague of Hirsch and former publisher of Daily Racing Form.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be enshrined Aug. 2, at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony will be broadcast live on the Museum website at The event is free and open to the public.

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Saratoga Breakfast, Farm Tours Expanded for 2024

Tue, 2024-04-23 10:18

The New York Racing Association is expanding its Saratoga Breakfast and Breeding Farm tour program this summer with the addition of a third participant, Sugar Plum Farm, to complement incumbents Old Tavern Farm and Song Hill Thoroughbreds.

Saratoga Breakfast and Breeding Farm tours will be offered Wednesday through most Saturdays, plus select Sundays, beginning July 12 through Aug. 31. Tours will be available weekly as follows: Wednesdays and Thursdays at Song Hill Thoroughbreds in Mechanicville; Fridays at Old Tavern Farm in Stillwater; and six Saturdays and two Sundays at Sugar Plum Farm in Saratoga Springs.

The all-inclusive experience begins with a buffet-style breakfast at Saratoga Race Course from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. during morning training at the track. At 9:45 a.m., fans board a CDTA trolley at the Clubhouse entrance for a short ride to the day's breeding farm where they will experience a 60-minute guided tour with the farm's owners and expert staff before returning to the track for an afternoon of live racing.

Tickets are $95 for adults and $35 for children 12 years of age and under and are available on a first-come, first-served basis at Each tour accommodates up to 52 guests.

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NTRA Launches Safety Runs First Campaign

Tue, 2024-04-23 09:52

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has launched a national campaign, Safety Runs First, and a new corresponding website to promote the sport's commitment to safety, welfare and integrity. The campaign and website,, are designed to be a continuing, long-term resource for the public as the racing industry furthers its investment in programs and resources to help reduce injury risk and enhance the safety of its athletes.

The website highlights reforms being implemented in the sport and their results to date, including the impacts of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA); emerging technologies and their applications on the future of equine safety and welfare; new veterinary and track surface protocols; and other measures being taken by the sport to enhance safety practices.

“Safety Runs First will be a key part of our sport's commitment to transparency and accountability as we continue to strive for ways to create the safest environment possible for racing,” said Tom Rooney, NTRA President and CEO. “This is an evolution of a program the NTRA launched last fall, but with substantial additional reach and resources, thanks to NTRA member organizations.”

Shannon Arvin, Chair of NTRA Board and President and CEO of Keeneland Association, added, “From uniformity in our rules, strengthened veterinary protocols, and the use of new technologies, data and AI, Thoroughbred racing is making significant strides in safeguarding the welfare of our horses. Safety Runs First provides the platform to share this exciting forward progress with our fans and the general public.”

Produced by creative communications agency CTP, the initial promotional campaign will coincide with the 2024 Triple Crown series of races and then continue through the summer and fall. It will launch with national and regional broadcast, digital, social media, and radio advertising.

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Derby, Oaks Workouts Open to Public

Tue, 2024-04-23 09:39

Beginning Thursday and continuing through May 1, fans can visit Churchill Downs free of charge from 7-10 a.m. to watch horses preparing for the GI Kentucky Derby and GI Kentucky Oaks.

Horses train on Churchill Downs' main track daily from 5:15-10 a.m. There will be an exclusive training window only for Derby and Oaks participants from 7:30-7:45 a.m. following the 7-7:30 a.m. renovation break. Those horses will be identified by special saddle towels which include their names: yellow saddle towels for Derby horses and pink saddle towels for Oaks contenders.

Guests can enter Churchill Downs through the Clubhouse Gate and should park for free in the nearby Yellow Lot for convenient entry. Guests will be directed to Sections 115-117 to watch the morning workouts.

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CDI: Ruling Favoring Muth Would Create ‘Media Circus’ That ‘Jeopardizes the Wellbeing of Horses’

Mon, 2024-04-22 19:41

Churchill Downs Inc., (CDI) invoked a horse-health argument on Monday in an attempt to get the Kentucky Court of Appeals not to overturn the banishment of trainer Bob Baffert that Thoroughbred owner Amr Zedan is trying to reverse so his 'TDN Rising Star' Muth (Good Magic) can gain entry into the GI Kentucky Derby.

“This case has already drawn intense media attention,” CDI stated in one of two court filings Apr. 22 that seek to halt Zedan's incorporated racing stable from moving forward with its appeal for emergency relief and a temporary injunction. “A court order compelling CDI to house Muth on its property for a week, with a suspended trainer in tow, would create a media circus and would be an enormous distraction for Churchill Downs, its personnel, and other owners and trainers that have fairly earned a berth to the Derby (in addition to overtly infringing CDI's property rights).

“That is hardly a fair result-and it is one that jeopardizes the well-being of horses being housed at the track who have earned the right to be there under the rules,” CDI alleged.

“This Court should deny all of Zedan's requested relief,” CDI concluded.

On Apr. 18, a lower court in Kentucky denied a motion by Zedan Racing Stables, Inc. to make Muth eligible for the Derby by forcing CDI to drop its ban against Baffert.

CDI had barred Baffert from its properties shortly after the 2021 Derby, which the now-disqualified, Zedan-owned, Baffert-trained Medina Spirit won while testing positive for betamethasone.

Baffert's ban was initially just supposed to last for two Derbies. But in July 2023 CDI extended the penalty through 2024.

Baffert is not a party to Zedan's lawsuit. The Hall-of-Fame trainer had already lost a similar lawsuit in a federal court in 2023 that sought to put an end to CDI's ban.

Last Friday, the day after the lower court refused to grant an injunction favoring Muth, Zedan asked the appeals court to consider, “At a minimum, a partial injunction [enabling] Muth to be stabled under Derby rules at Churchill Downs Racetrack by 11:00 a.m. Eastern on Saturday, Apr. 27.”

Zedan reasoned that, “Such an approach will properly protect the rights and interests that hang in the balance and enable the upcoming Derby to proceed as it should, with all qualified horses racing and the very best horse winning.”

CDI's filings on Monday told the Kentucky Court of Appeals that, “Zedan's lawsuit is the horseracing equivalent of asking a court to kick out teams that had earned a spot in March Madness on the eve of the tournament and replace them with teams that did not qualify under the existing rules for qualification.”

CDI's filing on Monday gave its view on what transpired in the lower court last week: “The Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion in denying Zedan's last-minute bid to litigate its way into the Derby and displace up to three horses that earned their berths under rules in place for many months.”

At a different point, CDI argued, “Like all private entities, CDI has the right to determine who may participate in events that it organizes and hosts on its own property. That right is confirmed under Kentucky common law and regulations issued by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

“Nothing in the law gives Zedan a right to challenge the basis for CDI's decision to extend Baffert's suspension,” CDI continued. “The Jefferson Circuit Court correctly rejected Zedan's eleventh-hour attempt to litigate its way into the Kentucky Derby. As the Circuit Court held, Zedan failed to establish any of the three requirements for a temporary injunction.”

Zedan's Apr. 19 filing hadn't seen it that way. “Without purporting to find any substantive justification for CDI's ban, the Jefferson Circuit Court denied [the] request for injunctive relief,” it stated.

Zedan's filing from last Friday further alleged that CDI was “excluding a horse based on a trainer's public 'narrative' rather than actual qualifications, compliance, and merit.”

There was one thing that Zedan and CDI did agree to on Monday: That with five days until the Derby entry deadline, and 12 days until the race itself, both sides stated they were willing to do whatever they could to speed up the process and get an answer from the appeals court as swiftly as possible.

To that end, CDI earlier on Monday had agreed to expedite its filing of the above-referenced  legal responses. The gaming corporation could have waited until the court-ordered deadline of Wednesday, Apr. 24.

Zedan's legal team, too, made it known that it was willing and able to move quickly to facilitate a quick court order.

“To further assist the Court as it works towards prompt, informed resolution of this emergency appeal, counsel for Zedan will stand available for oral argument at any time and via any means that the Court may deem helpful and fitting,” Zedan's Apr. 22 legal filing stated.

“Zedan and its counsel greatly appreciate this Court's expedited attention and will continue working with Churchill Downs on an appropriate, agreeable process even as important disputes persist between the parties on the merits,” the filing stated.

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New Vocations’ Open Barn & BBQ to be Held April 25

Mon, 2024-04-22 17:10

The 7th annual New Vocations Open Barn & BBQ will take place Thursday, Apr. 25 from 4:00p.m. to 8:30p.m. at the Lexington, KY facility at Mereworth Farm, the organization stated via press release Monday.

Presented by Seidman Stables, the event is free and open to the public and will feature a series of educational seminars including one by international five-star eventer Allie Knowles. There will be a chance to meet adoptable horses while touring the facility and guests can expect an interactive, educational program on a variety of topics pertaining to Thoroughbreds on and off the track, which will also include live demonstrations.

Live music, food trucks, a boutique cash bar, and a silent auction are also part of the event. The auction is now live and items on offer may be bid on until 8:00p.m. Apr. 25. All proceeds from the auction will go directly to support New Vocations' mission to rehab, retrain and rehome retired racehorses. Gates will open at 4:00 p.m. with the first demo getting underway at 4:30 p.m.

“We look forward to welcoming guests to New Vocations at Mereworth Farm,” said Anna Ford, New Vocations' Thoroughbred Program Director. “We're excited to make our Open Barn & BBQ free to the public this year, it's the perfect event for us to showcase our adoptable horses, host inspiring demos and spread the word about these amazing equine athletes.”

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TOBA Announces Peak Biologics Sponsorship

Mon, 2024-04-22 16:47

Peak Biologics, an authorized distributor of the AniCell Biotech product line, has become an official sponsorship partner of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA), the organization announced via release Monday.

The AniCell products are a line of regenerative, wound-care products derived from amnion and amniotic fluid/tissue and the AniCell Biotech complete product line of cellular and acellular bioscaffolds is designed for management of fractured bones, damaged ligaments, torn tendons, joint and cartilage damage, eye injuries, superficial wounds, burns and puncture wounds.

“We are excited to welcome Peak Biologics as a sponsor,” said president Dan Metzger. “TOBA is honored to partner with a company whose goal is to represent and distribute an all-natural regenerative product to address some of equine animal health's most challenging issues.”

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Stephen Brunetti Passes Away at 56

Mon, 2024-04-22 16:31

Stephen Brunetti, whose family operates Red Oak Farm and Red Oak Stud and owns Hialeah Race Course, passed away Monday after a long battle with cancer. He died at his home in Delray Beach, Florida, surrounded by his family. He was 56.

His passing was first announced in a Facebook posting from his son, Stephen Brunetti Jr.

Brunetti took on an added role at Red Oak when his father, John Brunetti Sr., passed away in 2018. Along with his brother John Jr., he also took over as the owner of the casino at Hialeah. Hialeah last conducted a Thoroughbred meet in 2001.

“Ever since my father passed away, I just want to do everything at a higher level,” Brunetti told the Blood-Horse in 2022. “And that's what we're trying to do: acquire better mares, breed to the better stallions, better horses, and if it means you got to sell some here and there as yearlings, that's what we're going to do. We're going to be a little bit more commercial. We've had a lot of success with the breeding program. My family loves going to Saratoga and we loved going up north this summer, and that's where we want to participate.”

“Stephen was the horse guy in the family. He was a super breeder and was actually director of racing at the end of Hialeah. He loved the horse racing business,” said Red Oak's racing manager Rick Sacco.

Under the leadership of Stephen Brunetti, Red Oak enjoyed some of its greatest success in recent years. Mind Control was bred by Red Oak and co-owned by Red Oak and Madaket Stables LLC. He won 10 stakes, including three Grade I's, the GI Cigar Mile H, the GI H. Allen Jerkens S. and the GI Hopeful S. He owned and bred another Grade I winner in Unbridled Mo (Uncle Mo), the winner of the 2018 GI Apple Blossom H.

The Brunetti family also owned King for a Day (Uncle Mo), a listed stakes winner that now stands at stud in New York at Irish Hill & Dutchess View Stallions.

“He loved our game and was getting more heavily involved in breeding,” said one of his trainers, Greg Sacco. “Our industry lost a real cool guy. He put up a valiant fight against cancer.”

According to Rick Sacco, the passing of Stephen Brunetti will not slow down the Red Oak operations.  Sacco said that John Brunetti Jr. is still very much committed to having a racing and breeding operation. In addition, Stephen Brunetti's son, Stephen Brunetti Jr., a recent graduate from the University of Kentucky, is ready to take on added role in the racing and breeding operations.

“John Jr. has a love of horse racing and shared that passion with his father,” Rick Sacco said. “We will continue on. We've already spoken about having horses in New York and at Monmouth this year. We are also looking forward to the King for a Day babies. Stephen Jr. Is already a horse owner and has a horse in over the weekend trained by Todd Pletcher.”

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Resilience, Just F Y I Breeze at Churchill Downs on Busy Day for Arrivals

Mon, 2024-04-22 16:04

Bill Mott's Barn 19 was busy Monday morning as Kentucky Derby and Oaks hopefuls GSW Resilience (Into Mischief) and MGISW Just F Y I (Justify) put in published five-furlong workouts.

The former galloped about one mile before producing a move clocked in 1:01.60 under jockey Junior Alvarado and easily galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.

“He's the type of horse that has taken a little more time to mature than some others,” trainer Bill Mott said. “We took our time with his development and it seems to have worked out well.”

Just F Y I was clocked in :59.80 on her return to the work tab and galloped out six panels in 1:12.20, seven furlongs in 1:25.40, and completed a mile in hand in 1:40.20 under Junior Alvarado.

“She's a very nice filly and we had a minor setback with her this winter when she developed a fever on race day [in the GII Davona Dale] and we had to scratch that day,” Mott said. “It's one of those situations where we hoped she'd get over the virus quickly to return training, and she did. Then, we started looking at the [GI] Ashland as her next option.”

Champion MGISW Fierceness (City of Light) arrived at Churchill Downs Monday morning from South Florida as well as GI Florida Derby runner-up Catalytic (Catalina Cruiser) and GSW Domestic Product (Practical Joke).

GI Toyota Blue Grass winner Sierra Leone (Gun Runner) had his first training day beneath the Twin Spires, galloping a little over a mile. Domestic Product and Sierra Leone will likely have their final pre-Derby works Saturday, weather dependent.

As of Monday, 16 of the top 20 Derby contenders are on-site with GISW Stronghold (Ghostzapper) set to ship on Tuesday from California and GSW West Saratoga (Exaggerator) scheduled to arrive Friday from Lexington. Grand Mo the First (Uncle Mo), the newest entry with the defection of GSW Deterministic (Liam's Map), is set to arrive Thursday after a breeze at Gulfstream Park Tuesday morning.

Japan's other hopeful, T O Password (Jpn) (Copano Rickey {Jpn}), is to leave Japan Tuesday, arrive for quarantine in Chicago for 42 hours, and then make a scheduled arrival in Louisville early Friday morning.

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ECL Entertainment, Clairvest Purchase Wyoming Downs

Mon, 2024-04-22 09:20

ECL Entertainment and its joint venture partner Clairvest Group have entered into an agreement to purchase Wyoming Downs in Evanston, as well as the track's historic racing locations across Wyoming, the partners announced Monday. The sale is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2024, pending all required regulatory approvals and standard closing conditions.

Based in Las Vegas, ECL operates live horse racing and four historic horse racing locations in Kentucky, including the Mint Gaming Hall at Kentucky Downs, as well as charitable gaming locations in New Hampshire that also operate historic horse racing machines.

“We are very excited to continue the growth of Wyoming Downs' racing and historic racing businesses and look forward to investing in the great state of Wyoming,” said Marc Falcone, co- founder of ECL.

Wyoming Downs opens for its 2024 season June 8.

“Given our company's deep roots in horse racing, the purchase of Wyoming Downs is a natural extension of our business,” said ECL co-founder Ron Winchell. “We look forward to working with all of the Wyoming Downs stakeholders.”

Clairvest, based in Toronto, is a private equity firm with over $3 billion of assets under management. This transaction would represent Clairvest's 16th investment in the gaming space, building on Clairvest's 24-year successful track record in the gaming industry.

“We are excited to partner with ECL for our second joint investment in horse racing in the United States,” said Michael Wagman, President and Managing Director of Clairvest. “We look forward to continuing to build the business in Wyoming.”

Wyoming Downs has been owned for the last 10 years by a partnership led by Wyoming Equity Investors, LLC, and Eric Nelson. In addition to its horse racing track in Evanston, Wyoming Downs also operates 18 off-track betting locations throughout the state in Evanston, Casper, Cheyenne, Evansville, Gillette, Green River, Laramie, Mills, Sheridan, Rock Springs, and Thermopolis. Wyoming Downs employs 163 people across the state.

“This is a huge win for the State of Wyoming. ECL is the right operator at the right time for Wyoming Downs and will make the state proud,” said Nelson.

Valtus Capital Group, an investment bank specializing in the gaming and real estate industry, is advising Wyoming Downs on the transaction.

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Coffee In Bed Rises To The Occasion At The Wire In GII Santa Maria S.

Sun, 2024-04-21 20:28

Coffee in Bed just got her neck in front of pacesetting Super Shine on the line to earn the first graded victory of her career in the GII Santa Maria S. at Santa Anita Sunday evening. The dark bay filly settled off the pace while shadowing favorite Desert Dawn as a four-way battle for the lead developed around the first turn. Super Shine asserted control into the backstretch as the quarter went up in :22.66. Desert Dawn and Coffee in Bed moved in tandem, four and five wide, to loom a threat heading into the far turn as the half was completed in :46.64. Super Shine was still in front at the top of the lane as Desert Dawn and Coffee in Bed rolled up to her outside. The gutsy pacesetter kept finding more down the lane and the favorite was first to blink, but Coffee in Bed dug in gamely to grab the lead in the final jump.

Coffee in Bed just got her neck in front of pacesetting Super Shine on the line to earn the first graded victory of her career in the GII Santa Maria S. at Santa Anita Sunday evening. The dark bay filly settled off the pace while shadowing favorite Desert Dawn as a four-way battle for the lead developed around the first turn. Super Shine asserted control into the backstretch as the quarter went up in :22.66. Desert Dawn and Coffee in Bed moved in tandem, four and five wide, to loom a threat heading into the far turn as the half was completed in :46.64. Super Shine was still in front at the top of the lane as Desert Dawn and Coffee in Bed rolled up to her outside. The gutsy pacesetter kept finding more down the lane and the favorite was first to blink, but Coffee in Bed dug in gamely to grab the lead in the final jump.

“Although we settled back a little, and were hung out a little wide, she seemed to be happy there,” winning rider Mike Smith said. “She was at a really nice, happy cruising speed. I said, 'I'll stay out of the way and let her do what she does best.' And she showed up today.”

Frankie Dettori was pleased with the effort of the runner-up, a multiple group winner in her native Argentina who was making her U.S. debut for trainer Phil D'Amato.

“She jumped good, nobody was faster than me, so I had to go,” Dettori said. “[Coffee in Bed] always had me. The last sixteenth, she really poured it out for me. It was her first time here. I couldn't ask for more. She ran great.”

Coffee in Bed, a first-out winner at Santa Anita in January 2023, added an optional-claiming victory four starts later going one mile in Arcadia in October. She concluded her sophomore campaign with a fifth-place effort over the lawn in the Nov. 5 GIII Autumn Miss S. The bay filly resurfaced in 2024 to come up a length short of Desert Dawn when second in the 1 1/16-mile GIII La Canada S. Jan. 20 and was most recently a well-beaten sixth in the GI Beholder Mile Mar. 9.

Pedigree Notes:

Coffee in Bed is the 105 worldwide stakes winner and 57 graded winner for Curlin. Curlin's son Gladiator King is his only other graded winner out of a Hennessy mare.

Sumptuous, the first foal out of graded winner Belle of Perintown and a half-sister to graded winner Strike it Rich (Unbridled's Song), sold in foal to Good Magic to Tim Thorton for $85,000 at the 2022 Keeneland November sale. She has a 2-year-old filly by Liam's Map–who sold for $100,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale–and a yearling filly by Good Magic. She was bred to Maclean's Music last year.

Breeder Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings purchased the mare, in foal to Quality Road, for $410,000 from the Ned Evans dispersal at the 2011 Keeneland November sale. Her first foal was graded-winner and Grade I-placed Great Stuff (Quality Road).

Sunday, Santa Anita
SANTA MARIA S.-GII, $201,000, Santa Anita, 4-21, 4yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16m, 1:45.16, ft.
1–COFFEE IN BED, 120, f, 4, by Curlin
                1st Dam: Sumptuous (MSP, $105,245), by Hennessy
                2nd Dam: Belle of Perintown, by Dehere
                3rd Dam: Hot Match, by Mr. Prospector
Ylg '21 KEESEP). O-Spendthrift Farm LLC; B-Stonestreet
Thoroughbred Holdings (KY); T-Richard Mandella; J-M Smith.
$120,000. Lifetime Record: 9-3-2-1, $253,860. *1/2 to Great
Stuff (Quality Road), GSW & GISP, $478,902.  Werk Nick
   Rating: A+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Super Shine (Arg), 120, m, 5, Super Saver–Sunshine Allie, by
Southern Halo. O-R Unicorn Stable; B-Firmamento (ARG);
T-Philip D'Amato. $40,000.
3–Desert Dawn, 122, m, 5, Cupid–Ashley's Glory, by Honour
and Glory. ($32,000 RNA Ylg '20 OBSOCT). O/B-H & E Ranch
(AZ); T-Philip D'Amato. $24,000.
Margins: NK, HF, 4. Odds: 4.20, 3.80, 0.60.
Also Ran: Blue Dream Machine, Turnerloose, Princess Bettina, Liberal Lady. Scratched: Big Novel. Click for the chart or the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

COFFEE IN BED ($10.40) kept digging under urging by @mikeesmith10, found more late, and just beat Super Shine (ARG) at the wire in the $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes (G2). Richard Mandella trained the 4-year-old filly for @spendthriftfarm.

Bet the last:

— TVG (@TVG) April 22, 2024

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Keeneland Becomes ITBF Sponsor

Sun, 2024-04-21 19:24

Keeneland has become a sponsor of the International Thoroughbred Breeders' Federation, an organization which serves the members of Thoroughbred breeding associations in 26 countries that produce some 80,000 foals annually.

“We are enormously grateful to Keeneland for their support and welcome them as an ITBF sponsor,” said Sarah Carmichael,  CEO of ITBF. “As a not-for-profit organization, ITBF has to look to the industry for ongoing financial assistance to facilitate the essential service that we provide to the international breeding industry. Our role is a continually expanding one, and without our sponsors we would not be able to deliver and further develop as we do.”

ITBF is dedicated to providing a worldwide platform for the voice of breeders with the goal of safeguarding the integrity of the Thoroughbred breed, and the global production of responsibly bred and reared, healthy, capable future athletes of the racetrack.

“Keeneland is pleased to become an ITBF sponsor in support of the federation's important work in the global Thoroughbred community,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “Though an international industry, breeders worldwide are interconnected by similar needs and issues. ITBF plays a critical role in helping breeders achieve their goals.”

Keeneland joins existing ITBF partners which include fellow auction houses Tattersalls, Goffs, Hokkaido Sales, New Zealand Bloodstock and Fasig-Tipton, as well as Gallagher (bloodstock insurance).

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Risk Tolerance Debuts a Winner at the Big A

Sun, 2024-04-21 18:22

8th-Aqueduct, $80,000, Msw, 4-21, 3yo/up, 1 1/16mT, 1:41.40, fm, 3/4 length.
RISK TOLERANCE (IRE) (c, 3, Kingman {GB}–Loving Things {GB} {GSW-Fr, SW & GSP-Eng, $107,896}, by Pivotal {GB}) was hustled out of the gate but didn't appear particularly hurried and settled back into a stalking third along the inside as 5-1 shot Coast Along (West Coast) cut out opening fractions of :23.83 and :48.23. Gradually working his way closer to the pacesetter approaching the quarter pole, he took aim at the frontrunner in the stretch, caught up in the final sixteenth and inched clear late to graduate by 3/4 of a length. Black Diamond (Street Sense) completed the trifecta. Group winner Loving Things was purchased for 260,000gns at the 2022 Tattersalls November sale in foal to Sea The Stars (GB). Sales history: 260,000gns Ylg '22 TATOCT. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $44,000. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.
O-Klaravich Stables, Inc.; B-Normandie Stud Ltd (IRE); T-Chad C. Brown.


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Dragoon Guard Charges Home A Winner For Juddmonte At Keeneland

Sun, 2024-04-21 16:56

6th-Keeneland, $96,700, Msw, 4-21, 3yo, 7f, 1:27.39, ft, 3 3/4 lengths.
DRAGOON GUARD (c, 3, Arrogate–Filimbi {GSW & MGISP-USA, SW-Fr, $670,763}, by Mizzen Mast) just missed by a neck to future SW Otto the Conqueror (Street Sense) when he debuted last September under the Twin Spires. Back on the work tab in late February for Brad Cox, the homebred went off with Lasix as the 3-5 choice here to kick off his 3-year-old season. The colt charged out of the gate, but was content to lay off of Rock N Roll Bolt (Bolt d'Oro) up the backstretch. Taking on the leader around the far turn, the gray put the pacesetter away at the top of the lane, kicked for home past the eighth pole and won geared down by 3 3/4 lengths over Term (Medaglia d'Oro). Filimbi produced a filly last year by Into Mischief and foaled another, this one by Constitution, Mar. 8. The winner was bred top to bottom by Juddmonte, who campaigned his dam, second dam Flute (Seattle Slew) and third dam Rougeur (Blushing Groom {Fr}). They also stood Arrogate and Dragoon Guard's broodmare sire, Mizzen Mast. Lifetime Record: 2-1-1-0, $86,000. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.
O/B-Juddmonte (KY); T-Brad H. Cox.

DRAGOON GUARD ($3.34) got a perfect trip under @flothejock to easily win @KeenelandRacing race 6. @bradcoxracing trained the 3-year-old Arrogate colt for @JuddmonteFarms.

Bet the Late Pick 3:

— TVG (@TVG) April 21, 2024

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Tapit’s Jane Austen Posts Debut Win at Santa Anita

Sun, 2024-04-21 16:54

1st-Santa Anita, $54,000, Msw, 4-21, 3, 4,/5yo, f/m, 7f, 1:23.90, ft, neck.
JANE AUSTEN (f, 3, Tapit–Shayjolie {SW & MGSP, $415,843}, by Indian Charlie), sent off at 5-1 for this unveiling, broke well and was eased back but she eagerly tugged her way up upon the heels of pacesetters Quick Brown Fox (Justify) and Queen of Naples (Hard Spun) through a :22.58 quarter. Requiring racing room and finding it turning for home, Jane Austen closed on the stubborn leader late and forged past Quick Brown Fox to graduate by a neck. Ms Bo J (Mitole) was third. Stakes-winning Shayjolie, a half-sister to MGSW and GISP Mythical Power (Congaree), was purchased by Speedway Stables for $400,000 at KEENOV in 2015. Responsible for an unraced juvenile filly by Constitution and a yearling colt by Essential Quality, she was bred back to Into Mischief. Sales history: $750,000 Ylg '22 FTSAUG. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $32,400. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.
O-Muir Hut Stables LLC; B-Speedway Stables LLC (KY); T-Mark Glatt.


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Nutella Fella Targets Woody Stephens

Sun, 2024-04-21 16:01

Bell Gable Stable's Nutella Fella (Runhappy), off since winning last year's GI Hopeful S., could return to action in the June 8 GI Woody Stephens S. The bay colt upset the Hopeful at 54-1, but suffered a hind ankle injury while training for the GI Champagne S. and underwent surgery. He has been working at Oak Ridge Training Center in Ocala and is currently back with trainer Gary Contessa's string in Saratoga.

“He worked five-eighths in 1:01 in Ocala before I brought him up last week,” Contessa said. “He'll probably have his first work the middle of next week. I'll wait until the weather is good and the track is to my liking.”

Contessa continued, “His first race of the year should be the Woody Stephens on Belmont Day. He's a good horse and it's the perfect distance for him–same distance as the Hopeful and he's already worked five-eighths. He's going to be really ready for that race in June. I know it's a tough ask to come back in the Woody Stephens, but that distance is what he's best at.”

Contessa is expecting another 2023 Saratoga graded winner to make the trek north from Ocala in the coming week. Lee Pokoik's Becky's Joker (Practical Joke) won the GIII Schuylerville S. in her racetrack debut last July, but has not been seen since finishing seventh in her second outing in the Aug. 6 GIII Adirondack S.

“Mentally, she just fell apart on me after that race,” Contessa said. “We gave her the winter off and that's what you've got to do with these young horses when they're not progressing mentally the way you want them to and Lee is the type of owner who will let you do the right thing.”

Becky's Joker spent the winter at Eclipse Training Center.

“I worked her five-eighths last Friday in 1:02 at Eclipse,” Contessa said. “My game plan is to work her there this Friday and then ship her on the weekend.”

Of potential targets for the filly, Contessa said, “I want to see how she's progressing and how she's doing. Obviously, during the Belmont Stakes weekend there is a mile and an eighth race for her [June 7 GI Acorn S.] and I don't think distance is going to be a problem for her because she's 17.2 [hands]. She's the biggest filly you'll ever want to see, but she'll have to tell me when she wants to come back. She's eligible for allowances and all the 3-year-old stakes races–there's so many opportunities for her, so we'll play it one step at a time.”

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Blazing Sevens Possible for Met Mile

Sun, 2024-04-21 15:42

Rodeo Creek Racing's Blazing Sevens (Good Magic), who returned from a nine-month layoff to capture a one-mile allowance and earn a 97 Beyer at Aqueduct Saturday, may make his next start in the June 8 GI Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan H.

“He had a wide journey and was fit enough to gut it out in a fairly quick time. We'll see how he comes out of the race and go from there, but I'll consider a race like the Met Mile,” said trainer Chad Brown. “I think he's good enough. It's quite a tough race, but that's at the top of my list.”

The 'TDN Rising Star' won the 2022 GI Champagne S. and missed by just a head when second to National Treasure (Quality Road) in the GI Preakness S. last year. He was making his first start Saturday since finishing third in the Curlin S. at Saratoga last July.

John Capek of Rodeo Creek Racing said he was impressed with Saturday's performance after the time off.

“We are glad to have him back on the track. After nine months off, I think he ran well,” said Capek. “He got a little bit of a challenge coming out of the gate, but he showed his capability in the turn.”

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Deterministic Works at Belmont, Will Skip Derby

Sun, 2024-04-21 15:24

St. Elias Stable, Ken Langone, C. Steven Duncker and Vicarage Stable's Deterministic (Liam's Map) turned in his first work since finishing a well-beaten eighth in the Apr. 6 GII Wood Memorial S. with a five-furlong move in 1:02.63 (11/19) over the dirt training track at Belmont Park Sunday.

Deterministic is 16th on the eligibility list for the GI Kentucky Derby thanks to his victory in the GIII Gotham S., but trainer Christophe Clement confirmed the dark bay colt will skip the Run for the Roses.

“I spoke to the owners and we decided to keep him in New York and we will keep all the New York options open,” Clement said.

Of Sunday's work, Clement added, “He came back all right, he had a maintenance work. He looked well.”

Deterministic was tabbed a 'TDN Rising Star' following his debut victory at Saratoga last August and returned from seven months on the sidelines to win the Gotham by two lengths in March. He finished 17 3/4 lengths back as the favorite in the Wood.

Deterministic's defection from Derby consideration allows Grand Mo the First (Uncle Mo), third in the GI Curlin Florida Derby, to gain a berth in the race.

“The horse will breeze here [at Gulfstream] Tuesday and will be moved to Kentucky Thursday,” trainer Victor Barboza said. “That will be his last workout. There are no more workouts at Churchill Downs after next week. He'll just school in the paddock and starting gate.”

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Flameaway’s Dreamaway Beats the Boys in Keeneland Unveiling

Sun, 2024-04-21 14:20

2nd-Keeneland, $79,675, Msw, 4-21, 2yo, 4 1/2f, :53.41, ft, head.
DREAMAWAY (f, 2, Flameaway–Dream Dancing {GISW, $483,271}, by Tapit) came into this race sporting a recent bullet three-furlong work in :35 3/5 over this surface Apr. 5 and was duly made the 1-2 favorite to make good while facing the boys. Narrowly in front through an opening quarter in :22.48, the grey had to battle all the way through, but proved best at the end, scoring by a head over fellow firster Clever Again (American Pharoah). Mo Hair Sam (Mo Town) rounded out the trifecta. The hombred is out of GI Del Mar Oaks winner Dream Dancing, a granddaughter of champion older mare Beautiful Pleasure (Maudlin). In addition to Dreamaway, John Oxley also campaigned her first two dams. Dream Dancing is also responsible for a juvenile filly by Gun Runner and a colt foaled this season by Justify. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $47,740. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

O/B-John C. Oxley (KY); T-Wesley A. Ward.


On debut 2yo #2 DREAMAWAY ($3.04) by Flameaway just holds off the #4 Clever Again to win race 2 at Keeneland. John Velazquez was aboard for Wesley Ward, who wins yet another 2yo race.

Watch on @FanDuelTV.

— TVG (@TVG) April 21, 2024

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Track Phantom Tunes Up for Kentucky Derby

Sun, 2024-04-21 14:11

Track Phantom (Quality Road) continued his preparation for the GI Kentucky Derby with a five-furlong work in 1:00.80 (6/32) at Churchill Downs Sunday morning. With jockey Tyler Gaffalione in the saddle, Track Phantom worked outside 'TDN Rising Star' and GII Pat Day Mile contender Carbone (Mitole) as the duo cruised an opening quarter-mile in a modest :26.20, but galloped out six furlongs in a solid 1:13.60, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols. Track Phantom's final three furlongs was a sharp :34.60.

Track Phantom worked in blinkers Sunday and he is expected to wear them for the first time in the Kentucky Derby, according to trainer Steve Asmussen.

“It was the first serious move for Track Phantom since we added the blinkers and he handled it very nicely,” Asmussen told Kentucky HBPA's Jennie Rees. “It was a solid work, like always, from him.”

Owned by L and N Racing, Clark Brewster, Jerry Caroom and Breeze Easy, Track Phantom won the GIII Lecomte S. in January and was second in the GII Risen Star S. before finishing fourth in the GII Louisiana Derby last time out.

“He's always had a lot of talent,” Asmussen said of the colt. “He has a great attitude and he's a good mover. He's a wonderful horse to be around. He just has to continue to develop and get faster. I think that he will handle the circumstances of the Derby and the crowd, all the pageantry of it, really well.”

Gaffalione was also aboard Courtlandt Farm's Our Pretty Woman (Medaglia d'Oro) Sunday as the GI Kentucky Oaks hopeful breezed five furlongs in 1:00. The Asmussen trainee worked outside her stakes-winning 3-year-old stablemate Otto the Conqueror (Street Sense)–also under consideration for the Pat Day Mile–through an opening quarter-mile of :25 and completed six furlongs in 1:12.60, according to Nichols.

“It was an excellent work for her,” Asmussen said of Our Pretty Woman's drill.

Our Pretty Woman won her first two career starts over a sloppy Fair Grounds surface and was second behind Tarifa (Bernardini) while making her stakes debut in the Mar. 23 GII Fair Grounds Oaks last time out.

The two Asmussen runners were the only official Derby/Oaks workers Sunday morning at Churchill Downs, but Michael McMillan's GIII Gazelle S. winner Where's My Ring (Twirling Candy) breezed a quarter-mile down the lane in :24. Trainer Val Brinkerhoff reported the filly is scheduled to have an official workout Saturday.

Trainer Todd Pletcher reported 'TDN Rising Star' and G3 UAE Oaks winner Manama Gold (Star Guitar), unbeaten in three career starts, has been transferred to his care and will possibly be supplemented to the Kentucky Oaks. The Louisiana-bred sophomore is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs Monday.

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