Champion Wise Dan returns with thrilling victory in Bernard Baruch

In the end, none of it mattered.

Not the 17-week layoff since Wise Dan’s last race. Not the incision carved upon his belly during emergency surgery, not even a rare bout of fractiousness in an area where he is usually a total gentleman.

When Optimizer came to Wise Dan’s flank in deep stretch of the Grade II, $250,00 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga Race Course, the former looked as if he might be a threat the two-time defending Horse of the Year could not fend off. Once the finish line photo was reviewed, Optimizer joined the above obstacles as just another in a countless list of challenges overcome by Morton Fink’s homebred champion.

Emotions exploded in the winner’s circle and around the Thoroughbred racing community Saturday afternoon as Wise Dan held off Optimizer by a nose to capture the 1 1/16-miles Bernard Baruch on the Saratoga turf in what was his first start since undergoing emergency colic surgery at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital on May 16.

As wonderfully as Wise Dan recovered from his bout with colic, no one was holding their breath more than Fink and trainer Charlie LoPresti in anticipation of whether the 7-year-old gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry could run and fight in the aftermath of his surgery in the same manner that has earned him six Eclipse Awards to date.

Nerves got even more frayed when Wise Dan uncharacteristically acted up in the starting gate, rearing and unseating his Hall of Fame pilot, John Velazquez. It was business as usual when they reunited and sprang from post No. 5, sitting fourth through fractions of 23.26 and 46.32 en route to covering the distance in 1:39.08, just .17 off the course record of 1:38.91 set by Fourstardave in 1991.

“He showed today when he is the two-time Horse of the  Year,” an emotional LoPresti said. “To overcome what he’s overcome…that’s the amazing thing about him. He’s been through a lot. I knew he was training good and I knew he was going to run good.”

LoPresti has been masterful at listening to what his gut and his stable star tells him is the best course of action. Thought the Lexington-based trainer initially considered bringing Wise Dan back in the Grade II Fourstardave Handicap on August 9, he opted to bypass that outing and give the chestnut monster more time and tightening works.

The Bernard Baruch indeed set up beautifully for Wise Dan as Five Iron set a honest pace on front end with Velazquez saving ground with his mount on the rail. Wise Dan rolled up three-wide outside of Sayaad around the final turn and was inching up under right-handed urging from Velazquez, but had longshot Optimizer rallying to his outside to give him all he could handle in the last handful of strides.

“He was really tough,” Velazquez said. “He showed he has the heart of a champion. (He carried) 127 pounds coming from a long layoff. When I got to the eighth pole, I didn’t think I got it. When I got past the sixteenth pole he was giving me everything he had and the other horse was coming from the outside. There was a little bit of doubt; he was getting tired. (I’m) incredibly proud. It’s incredible to have this horse coming back.”

Optimizer, sent off at 29-to-1 odds, was  1 1/4-lengths ahead of Five Iron who ended up third.

The Bernard Baruch improved Wise Dan’s record to 22 wins – ten of which have come in Grade I races -  from 30 lifetime starts with earnings of $6,952,920.

A two-time defending winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Wise Dan opened his 2014 campaign with victories in the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland and Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs before being sidelined. A start in the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on October 4 is likely the next stop for the gelding with a third straight run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile this November the ultimate goal.

“He’s a trouper, man,” LoPresti said. “He knows how to win races. I can tell you, he’s just an amazing horse. That’s the way he wins.

“He’ll build from this race, I have to think. He’ll be way tougher next time.

 

Kentucky Sire Stakes action highlights Sunday’s Red Mile card

Edited Red Mile release:

The best 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers in the Bluegrass State will be out in force at The Red Mile on Sunday night as the Lexington oval hosts the $2 million Kentucky Sires Stakes (KYSS) Championship Night. Each of the eight divisions for 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers will vie for a purse of $175,000.

All four 2013 KYSS 2-year-old champions will be on the track in their respective finals on Sunday in hopes of repeating.

Last year’s champion colt pacer On Golden Ponder has cruised to a pair of preliminary victories with driver John Campbell. The son of Ponder was on the sidelines all year until KYSS action, and he returned with scores in 1:57.2 and 1:54.3.

Defending filly trot champ Petticoat Affair has finished second and third in both her preliminaries, which have been won by Dress For Success and Twice Too Nice. Petticoat Affair is sandwiched between the two on the starting gate in post 2, with Dress For Success in post No. 1 and Twice Too Nice in post 3.

The final for sophomore filly pacers features defending divisional champ Somethinincredible and Rollin Deep, both daughters of Ponder. Somethinincredible may have her work cut out for her to repeat as she has finished second to Rollin Deep in both preliminaries. Campbell drives Somethinincredible while fellow Hall of Famer Mike Lachance sits behind Rollin Deep.

The 3-year-old gelding trotter Sorrento Hall rounds out the returning champions, and he starts from post 6 in Race 7 with driver Lachance. The son of Groton Hall’s lone win last year came in the KYSS final and he has yet to taste victory this year in six attempts. Both of that division’s early rounds have been won by Tinder.

In the finals for 2- year-olds, four daughters of Groton Hall are in the five-horse field in the filly trot, including preliminary winner Armatrading and Janey Eyre. Groton Hall’s lone representative in the race for male trotters is Cinnabar Hall, likely the odds-on favorite after capturing both preliminaries.

Bestbestraight, a son of Third Straight, bested his rivals in both preliminaries for freshman male pacers, the latter score a career-best 1:54.2. Dave Palone, the sport’s all-time winningest driver, will be in the sulky from post 3.

Cielle, also a daughter of Third Straight, will start from post No. 1 in the six-horse KYSS final for 2-year-old filly pacers and has six wins and two seconds in eight career starts, with her victories including a sweep of the KYSS preliminaries.

Post time for Sunday’s Kentucky Sires Stakes Championship night is 7 p.m. There is a guaranteed Pick-4 pool of $10,000 offered on races 6-9. Concession-stand specials Sunday include $1 hot dogs, soft drinks and beer. The clubhouse is also open for fine dining, with reservations made by calling (859) 233-0814.

 

Pleasantly Perfect shifts to Taylor Made Stallions for 2015

Pleasantly Perfect, winner of the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2004 Dubai World Cup, will stand the 2015 breeding season at Taylor Made Stallions. A fee will be announced at a later date.

 

Pleasantly Perfect had stood at Lane’s End Farm since retiring following his 2004 campaign and commanded a fee of $5,000 for the 2014 breeding season. The son of Pleasant Colony  has sired 16 stakes winners, five graded stakes winners, and two champions to date, led by millionaire and 2010 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Shared Account. He’s also sired top-class performers as Setsuko, a multiple Grade I-placed earner of $657,936, and Cozi Rosie, a multiple graded stakes winner  earner of $527,280

 

On the racetrack, Pleasantly Perfect was a three-time Grade I winner under the care of trainer Richard Mandella, including two of the world’s richest and most prestigious races on dirt – the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup. He defeated Medaglia d’Oro to claim his Breeders’ Cup Classic victory and toppled that one again in winning the Dubai World Cup that following March.

 

Pleasantly Perfect retired to stud as Pleasant Colony’s most accomplished performer, with career earnings of $7,789,880.

Grade 1 winner Discreet Marq to be offered at Fasig-Tipton November

Trainer Christophe Clement announced Thursday he will consign, as agent, Grade I winner Discreet Marq to the Fasig-Tipton November sale being held November 3, offering the daughter of Discreet Cat on behalf of her owners and breeders Patricia and Frank Generazio.

The 4-year-old Discreet Marq earned her most prestigious victory in the 2013 edition of the Grade I Del Mar Oaks  in which she defeated a top class field that included five graded stakes winners.  Her five career stakes wins to date also include the Grade II Sands Point Stakes at Belmont as a three-year-old, as well as the Lie Low S. at Aqueduct at two.

Discreet Marq most recently finished second to fellow Grade I winner Dayatthespa – who is also slated to be sold at the Fasig-Tipton November sale – in the Yaddo Stakes over the Saratoga turf on August 24. She has career earnings to date of $945,900.

“Discreet Marq is as remarkably consistent and versatile a filly as I have ever trained,” said Clement.  “From her two-year-old year, to present, she has won from 5 ½ furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, competing against the best fillies of her generation from coast-to-coast. She is also a very beautiful filly, and should appeal to a wide range of buyers this fall at Fasig-Tipton.”

Discreet Marq’s first dam, To Marquet, and her second dam, Pretty Momma, are both multiple stakes winners and multiple stakes producers.  Her third dam, Turn To Mommie, is also a multiple stakes producer.

Discreet Marq is scheduled to make her next start in the Grade I First Lady Stakes at Keeneland on October 4th.

Carstanjen named CEO of Churchill Downs Inc.; Evans remains Chairman of Board of Directors

Edited release:

The board of directors of Churchill Downs Incorporated named Bill Carstanjen as the company’s 12th chief executive officer (CEO), succeeding Robert L. Evans in the position he has held since August 2006.  Carstanjen has been the CDI’s president and chief operating officer since March 2011.

Evans will continue as chairman of the Board of Directors and will continue his full-time, daily involvement in the leadership of the company focusing on strategy, acquisitions, senior management selection and development, technology initiatives, legislative initiatives, and the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby events.

“CDI’s future is exciting and I look forward to continuing to work with these outstanding leaders,” said Evans.  “We operate under a collaborative senior leadership model and have frequently changed our organizational structure to allow our executives to develop experience in new areas.  This approach has served us well, enabling us to diversify and grow the company.”

Over his career, Carstanjen, 46, spent five-and-a-half years as an attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York and five years at General Electric Company (GE) in Connecticut.  Since joining CDI in July 2005, Carstanjen has served as the company’s general counsel and chief development officer (2005-2008), as chief operating officer (2008-2011) and, most recently, as president & chief operating officer.  He has led CDI’s diversification strategy into online wagering on thoroughbred racing via TwinSpires.com, including the acquisitions of Youbet.com, AmericaTab, and Bloodstock Research Information Systems (BRIS); the growth of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby events; and into regional casino gaming.

“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to lead Churchill Downs,” said Carstanjen.  “Over the last several years we have transformed Churchill Downs into a diversified growth company while continuing to strengthen and invest in our traditional horse racing business.  Today, CDI is better positioned strategically and operationally, and is stronger financially and organizationally, than perhaps at any time in its 140-year history.  I’m excited about our terrific team and the future of our racing, gaming and online businesses and new businesses we may yet enter.”

In addition, William E. Mudd has been promoted to president and chief financial officer (CFO).  Mudd has served as the company’s executive vice president and CFO since joining CDI in October 2007.  Mudd will be responsible for operations at the company’s race tracks and gaming properties, except for Churchill Downs Racetrack, and for all finance activities, corporate-level communications and investor relations.  He will report to Bill Carstanjen.

“In Bill Carstanjen and Bill Mudd we have two proven senior executives who are well known by our major shareholders and who can continue to profitably grow the company and deliver exceptional returns to our shareholders,” Evans said.

Evans, Carstanjen and Mudd will assume their new roles effective immediately.

 

Champion Wise Dan to break from post No. 5 in Bernard Baruch

Priorities often change in the face of crisis. After two-time defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan underwent emergency colic surgery on May 16, trainer Charlie LoPresti has repeatedly stated that the main thing he wants the 7-year-old champion gelding to achieve is a long,  healthy life.

 

 

Like most challenges he has dismissed on track, Wise Dan has handled his recovery with his signature aplomb. Now 106 days removed from his venture to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Morton Fink’s homebred star is set to make his return in Saturday’s Grade II, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.

 

 

The six-time Eclipse Award winner has had seven works since the operation, the last six at Saratoga, where he won the Grade II Fourstardave in 2012 and 2013 en route to multiple championship honors. Though LoPresti initially had targeted this year’s Fourstardave for Wise Dan’s first start post surgery, he put the breaks on that idea for fear of asking too much, too soon out of the chestnut Wiseman’s Ferry gelding.

 

 

The way Wise Dan has acted and moved in the mornings last few weeks have told LoPresti that go-time was upon him. Though LoPresti said that if something were to go off track the next few days, he could still bypass the 1 1/16-miles Bernard Baruch for the Grade I Woodbine Mile on September 14, the plan is indeed to commence with Wise Dan’s return this Saturday.

 

“He’s gotten back to where he was; he’s dragging (exercise rider Damien Rock) around there,” said LoPresti. “His works have been really good, and they’ve been basically not even asking him to do that. He’s just been doing it in hand.

 

“I think he’s back to himself again,” he added. “It took him a while to get back. We were probably two works short of the Fourstardave. Once we got him up here, I realized I was trying to play catch-up to make that race and this makes more sense. I can’t say that any race at Saratoga is easy, but this is an easier spot, I think, for him to come back in.”

 

Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez will be back aboard Wise Dan, who drew post No. 5 in the field of 11 entered. Lea and Red Rifle are entered for main track only.

 

How much weight Wise Dan will have to carry compared to his competition has been a concern of LoPresti’s. It will certainly be a challenge as Wise Dan was assigned 127 pounds, eight more pounds than key challengers Boisterous and Five Iron.

 

Wise Dan did carry 129 pounds in his 1 ¼-length victory over King Kreesa in last year’s Fourstardave. Coming off a layoff and surgery this time around though brings the task to heightened levels.

 

“We got a lot of weight,” LoPresti said. “It’s not as bad as last year, but we still got the weight that we’re dealing with, too. I think he’s really good. He’s doing good right now. I got him as fit as I can get him and I’m happy with him.

 

“I’m not going to jump off the roof if he gets beat half a length or a length, something like that. If he’s lucky enough to win, fine, but if it sets him up for the Shadwell (Turf Mile at Keeneland) and the Breeders’ Cup (Mile), I’m OK with that, too.”

 

A two-time defending Breeders’ Cup Mile winner, Wise Dan opened his 2014 campaign with victories in the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland in April and Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs in early May before his colic surgery. He has a record of 21 wins and two seconds from 29 lifetime starts and earnings of $6,802,920.

 

“At this point I’m just glad that he’s alive and we’ve got a chance to run him back,” LoPresti said. “(As far as winning a third straight) Horse of the Year…I  haven’t even thought about that much at this point.”

But now at this point I’m just glad that he’s alive and we’ve got a chance to run him back, and Horse of the Year really hasn’t—I haven’t even thought about that much at this point. – See more at: http://www.ntra.com/en/news-media/teleconferences/2014/8/26/ntra-road-to-the-breeders-cup-world-championships-from-aug-26/#sthash.9B5aDzjo.dpuf
But now at this point I’m just glad that he’s alive and we’ve got a chance to run him back, and Horse of the Year really hasn’t—I haven’t even thought about that much at this point. – See more at: http://www.ntra.com/en/news-media/teleconferences/2014/8/26/ntra-road-to-the-breeders-cup-world-championships-from-aug-26/#sthash.9B5aDzjo.dpuf

 

The other Grade I winner in the Baruch field is Boisterous, a 7-year-old son of Distorted Humor making his sixth start since being transferred to trainer Todd Pletcher for the 2014 campaign.

 

Boisterous won the Grade I Man o’ War last summer at Belmont Park for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and owns one victory in four career tries on the Saratoga turf, his maiden triumph in August 2010. Most recently, he finished fourth, beaten 1 ¼ lengths, in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap on July 12 at Belmont, going 1 ½ miles.

 

Closing in on 1,000 career stakes victories, Pletcher captured the Grade III, 1 1/8-mile Cliff Hanger on August 24 at Monmouth Park with Winning Cause, who the trainer cut back in distance after running fourth in the 1 5/8-mile John’s Call at Saratoga. Pletcher won the 2012 Baruch with Dominus.

 

“Sometimes you get an improved effort when you’re going from longer to shorter [distances]. We saw that with Winning Cause,” Pletcher said. “Boisterous shows up and tries hard every time. He’s been training steadily since his last race and he’s doing well. On certain days, he’s shown that he can compete at the highest level.”

 

 

The field for the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch:

 

PP

Horse

Jockey

WGT

Trainer

Odds

1

Optimizer (KY)

A Garcia

116

J Fernandez

30-1

2a

Bio Pro (KY)

J Lezcano

117

W I. Mott

5-1

3

North Star Boy (IRE)

I Ortiz, Jr.

114

N Saville

20-1

4a

Boisterous (KY)

J Castellano

119

T A. Pletcher

5-1

5

Wise Dan (KY)

J R. Velazquez

127

C LoPresti

3-5

6

Lea (KY) (MTO)

J Rosario

126

W I. Mott

4-5

7

Paris Vegas (KY)

L Saez

114

E Voss

12-1

8

Red Rifle (KY) (MTO)

124

T A. Pletcher

3-1

9

Five Iron (KY)

J Rosario

119

B A. Lynch

8-1

10

Sayaad (KY)

J L. Ortiz

117

K P. McLaughlin

6-1

11

Sky Blazer (KY)

R Maragh

116

B Tagg

15-1

 

a-Coupled entry

 

 

Los Alamitos Futurity added to Kentucky Derby points system

The Grade I, $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity  has been added to the list of 35 select races that comprise the 2014-15 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points system that determines which horses qualify to start in the first leg of the Triple  Crown to beheld next year on May 2, 2015.

 

The Kentucky Derby points system features 19 “Prep Season” races and 16 “Championship Series” races with points increasing in value as they are held closer to the first Saturday in May.

 

The 1 1/16-mile Los Alamitos Futurity, which was known as the Hollywood (1981-2006) and CashCall (2007-13) Futurity at the now-shuttered Hollywood Park, will be run for the first time at Los Alamitos Race Course – the home base for 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome – on Saturday, Dec. 20. Points awarded to the top four finishers in the Los Alamitos Futurity will be 10-4-2-1 as part of the “Prep Season” that showcases foundation-building races over a minimum of one mile between September and mid-February. It commences Sept. 6 at Churchill Downs with the Grade III, $100,000 Iroquois over 1 1/16 miles.

 

The 2013 edition of the CashCall Futurity was won by eventual divisional champion Shared Belief. The reigning 2-year-old champion male most recently defeated older horses in the Grade I Pacific Classic this past Sunday to remain unbeaten in six career starts.

 

“The robust commitments by the team at Los Alamitos suggest a strong desire to be included in our series, and we’re confident the race is likely to attract aspiring and compelling Derby prospects,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery. “We’re delighted to welcome the Los Alamitos Futurity to the Kentucky Derby ‘Prep Season.’”

 

The 16 significant events that comprise the “Kentucky Derby Championship Series” during the 10-week run-up to the first Saturday in May remain unchanged from a year ago.

 

This is the third consecutive year that Churchill Downs  will use a sliding scale of points awarded to the Top 4 finishers in choice races to determine preference for its 20-horse Derby field. At least 20 horses have entered the 1 ¼-mile classic for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds every year since 2004, and 14 of the last 16 years.

 

In the first two years of the point system, the horses that topped the leaderboard with 150 points each won the Kentucky Derby: Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb in 2013 and Steve Coburn and Perry Martin’sCalifornia Chrome in 2014.

 

A similar series remains in place to qualify for the Derby’s sister race, the $1 million  Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on Friday, May 1, 2015. The lone change to the 31-race “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” series is the addition of the Grade I, $350,000 Starlet, a 1 1/16-mile “Prep Season” race scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 13 at Los Alamitos. Like the Futurity, the Starlet also had been previously run at Hollywood Park.


 

2014-15 ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY
35 Races (16 Championship Series Races)
 
Kentucky Derby Prep Season (20 races)
 
Date Race Racetrack Distance 1st (Points) 2nd (Points) 3rd (Points) 4th (Points)
Sept. 6 Iroquois Churchill Downs 1 1/16 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
Sept. 27 FrontRunner Santa Anita 1 1/16 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
Oct. 4 Champagne Belmont Park 1 Mile (10) (4) (2) (1)
Oct. 4 Breeders’ Futurity Keeneland 1 1/16 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
Oct. 5 Grey Woodbine 1 1/16 Miles (S) (10) (4) (2) (1)
Nov. 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Santa Anita 1 1/16 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
Nov. 22 Delta Downs Jackpot Delta Downs 1 1/16 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
*Nov. 29 Remsen Aqueduct 1 1/8 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
Nov. 29 Kentucky Jockey Club Churchill Downs 1 1/16 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
+Dec. 20 Los Alamitos Futurity Los Alamitos 1 1/16 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
*Jan. 3 Jerome Aqueduct 1 Mile 70 Yards (10) (4) (2) (1)
*Jan. 10 Sham Santa Anita 1 Mile (10) (4) (2) (1)
*Jan. 17 Lecomte Fair Grounds 1 Mile 70 Yards (10) (4) (2) (1)
Jan. 19 Smarty Jones Oaklawn Park 1 Mile (10) (4) (2) (1)
Jan. 24 Holy Bull Gulfstream Park 1 1/16 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
*Jan. 31 Withers Aqueduct 1 1/16 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
*Feb. 7 Robert B. Lewis Santa Anita 1 1/16 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
*Feb. 14 El Camino Real Derby Golden Gate 1 1/8 Miles (S) (10) (4) (2) (1)
Feb. 16 Southwest Oaklawn Park 1 1/16 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
 
Kentucky Derby Championship Series (16 races)
 
Date Race Racetrack Distance 1st (Points) 2nd (Points) 3rd (Points) 4th (Points)
Feb. 21 Fountain of Youth Gulfstream Park 1 1/16 Miles (50) (20) (10) (5)
*Feb. 21 Risen Star Fair Grounds 1 1/16 Miles (50) (20) (10) (5)
*Feb. 28 Gotham Aqueduct 1 1/16 Miles (50) (20) (10) (5)
*March 7 San Felipe Santa Anita 1 1/16 Miles (50) (20) (10) (5)
*March 7 Tampa Bay Derby Tampa Bay Downs 1 1/16 Miles (50) (20) (10) (5)
March 14 Rebel Oaklawn Park 1 1/16 Miles (50) (20) (10) (5)
*March 21 Spiral Turfway Park 1 1/8 Miles (S) (50) (20) (10) (5)
March 22 Sunland Derby Sunland Park 1 1/8 Miles (50) (20) (10) (5)
March 28 UAE Derby Meydan Racecourse 1 3/16 Miles (S) (100) (40) (20) (10)
March 28 Florida Derby Gulfstream Park 1 1/8 Miles (100) (40) (20) (10)
*March 28 Louisiana Derby Fair Grounds 1 1/8 Miles (100) (40) (20) (10)
*April 4 Wood Memorial Aqueduct 1 1/8 Miles (100) (40) (20) (10)
*April 4 Santa Anita Derby Santa Anita 1 1/8 Miles (100) (40) (20) (10)
*April 11 Blue Grass Keeneland 1 1/8 Miles (100) (40) (20) (10)
April 11 Arkansas Derby Oaklawn Park 1 1/8 Miles (100) (40) (20) (10)
*April 18 Lexington Keeneland 1 1/16 Miles (10) (4) (2) (1)
 
2014-15 Road to the Kentucky Derby Changes
 
Date Race Racetrack Distance Top 4 Points Change
Dec. 20 Los Alamitos Futurity Los Alamitos 1 1/16 Miles 10-4-2-1 Added
 

Kentucky Downs enhances surveillance throughout stable area

Edited release:

In its continuing effort to be an industry leader, Kentucky Downs has installed a total of 16 surveillance cameras in the stable area for their 2014 racing season, which gets underway on Saturday, September 6.

The installation of surveillance cameras in the barn area is just one of several improvements initiated at the Franklin, Kentucky track this year. The test barn has been expanded and renovated and the turf course has benefited from a comprehensive fertilization program and improved drainage system.  A new rail was purchased for the unique European style turf course. Duralock Fencing Systems was selected based on their exemplary reputation as a world leader inequestrian fencing and rails.

“Safety and security is the foundation of everything we do at Kentucky Downs,” said Kentucky Downs president, Corey Johnsen.  “Since we opened our gaming area in 2011 with 78 surveillance cameras, we have found it to be an effective tool in maximizing the safety and security of our patrons.  Now, we plan to transfer that experience to our racing program.  It is our goal to be a catalyst for change and we hope that all tracks will investigate expanding their surveillance systems to the stable area.”

Located near the Kentucky-Tennessee border off Interstate 65, Kentucky Downs offers live racing on its unique mile and five-sixteenth European-style turf course in September.  Simulcasting is available seven days a week, as well as pari-mutuel wagering on historical horse races, charitable gaming, dining and other events.

Keeneland partners with Fayette Schools to educate students on track, industry importance

Edited release:

Keeneland  announced Monday it will welcome 2,500 fifth-grade students on field trips this week as part of a partnership between Keeneland and Fayette County Public Schools that teaches the history of the race track and the importance of the Thoroughbred industry in Kentucky’s economy.

Each morning from Monday, Aug. 25 through Friday, Aug. 28 several hundred local fifth graders will make the trip to Keeneland for a morning full of activities. Students will be greeted by Keeneland officials, watch a live Thoroughbred auction demonstration in the Sales Pavilion, and tour the track’s Grandstand, Paddock and trackside areas.

The tour will have stops along the route featuring horse industry partners such as Darley, Riddle & Rood Equine Hospital, North American Racing Academy, and Locust Trace AgriScience Farm. Each stop will feature presentations and demonstrations for the students.

“These student visits have become a highlight for Keeneland, and we enjoy their eagerness to learn about Keeneland and Kentucky’s horse industry,” said Keeneland vice president  Vince Gabbert. “We appreciate our partnership with Fayette County Public Schools and its interest in including the horse industry’s many opportunities in students’ curriculum.”

Keeneland will provide each student with a “Thoroughbred Racing and Sales” book, which can be used in the classroom following the field trips.

Close Hatches makes it no contest in G1 Personal Ensign

Edited NYRA release:

Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Close Hatches left no doubt about her status as the leader of this year’s distaff ranks. On Friday at Saratoga Race Course, the 4-year-old daughter of First Defence went to the lead and never looked back, running away to a dominant five-length victory in the Grade I, $500,000 Personal Ensign for fillies and mares.

 

Close Hatches was favored at 9-5 in the Personal Ensign against six competitors, all graded stakes winners, including four-time Grade I winner and Ogden Phipps runner-up Princess of Sylmar. After racing in second outside of Antipathy during the opening stages, Close Hatches claimed the top spot on the first turn after the early leader was taken firmly in hand by her rider.

 

Ahead by 2 ¼ lengths through an opening quarter-mile in 23.05 seconds, Close Hatches dictated a steady pace along the backstretch, running the half in 46.61 over the muddy, sealed main track. She held a two-length advantage through three-quarters in 1:11.12 and drew clear in the stretch under hand urging from jockey Joel Rosario.

 

Fiftyshadesofhay finished second and was 3 ¾ lengths clear of third-place finisher Stanwyck. Antipathy, second choice Princess of Sylmar, Belle Gallantey, and Majestic River completed the order of finish.

 

Close Hatches, who is trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott for Juddmonte, completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.62. The Personal Ensign was her third straight Grade I victory and fifth top-level triumph of her career.

 

“I did not expect it to be wire-to-wire. It looked like another horse was going to go to the lead,” said Rosario. “It looked like Irad (Ortiz, Jr.) took a little hold (of Antipathy) and I just took my position. Turning for home, I expected Princess of Sylmar to show up, but she didn’t. (My horse) looked good out there; she was doing it nice and easy and it was a good race for her. She’s a nice filly with a long stride. I’m not surprised she went that fast.”

 

As a 3-year-old, Close Hatches won the Grade I Mother Goose and Grade I Cotillion and was second to Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She opened her 4-year-old season with victories in the Grade II Azeri and Grade I Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park before defeating Princess of Sylmar and Antipathy in a blanket finish in the Grade I Ogden Phipps. Beholder, the 2013 champion 3-year-old filly, was fourth in the Phipps.

 

Overall, Close Hatches is 9-2-0 in 12 starts. The $300,000 winner’s share of the Personal Ensign purse enhanced her bankroll to $2,682,300.

 

“She’s already a Grade I winner, and she just carried on that tradition today,” said Mott.

 

Trainer Todd Pletcher made no excuses for Princess of Sylmar, who entered the Personal Ensign off a second to Belle Gallantey in the Grade I Delaware Handicap on July 12.

 

“It seemed like she was in a decent position and handling [the mud] pretty well,” said Pletcher. “She’s run OK on an off track before.”

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