Kentucky Downs set to kick off lucrative live racing season Saturday

The 24th season of live racing at Kentucky Downs in Franklin will kick off Saturday with a 10-race card contested over North America’s only European-style turf course.

 

Opening day will feature 113 entries and purses  totaling more than $1.5 million. The kickoff event will be highlighted by a trio of $300,000 stakes: the Calumet Farm Juvenile, the Encore Juvenile Fillies and the 18th running of the More Than Ready Mile.

 

The field of ten contenders in the More Than Ready Mile is topped by Undrafted, fresh off a victory in the Group I Diamond Jubliee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. The five-year-old gelding will face off against Departing, winner of the Grade II Firecracker Stakes at Churchill Downs this June, and Grade I winner Regally Ready, last year’s winner who will return to defend his title.

 

One Legend, meanwhile, has been installed at the morning-line favorite for the Calumet Farm Juvenile. The Ken McPeek trainee gamely captured his last start at Ellis Park and will be ridden in the seven-furlong contest by Corey Lanerie.

 

“This is Thoroughbred racing at its highest level, with world class horses and internationally recognized jockeys and trainers,” said Kentucky Downs President Corey Johnsen. “I’m sure horseplayers will enjoy our full fields, wagering format and low takeout.  Best of luck to all participants. I look forward to a great live season.”

 

Full cards are also set for live racing at Kentucky Downs on September 10, 12, 16 and 19 with a total 12 stakes and record purses totaling $7.5 million.

 

Post time for Saturday’s first race is 1:35 pm (CDT). General Admission and parking are free, and this year the track is also offering several premium seating options, including the Tailgate Party Lot, The Turf Club and The Finish Line Tent. Reservations for unique seating can be made by calling (270) 586-7094 or by visiting www.kentuckydowns.com.

 

 

Grade I winner Secret Circle retired

Two-time Breeders’ Cup race winner and 2015 Golden Shaheen victor Secret Circle will be retired to stud for the 2016 breeding season, owner Mike Pegram said.  Stud plans have not yet been determined.

The 6-year-old Secret Circle had a career marked with brilliance and consistency, winning or placing in 10 graded stakes including victories in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, the 2013  Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and this year’s Grade I Dubai Golden Shaheen in what was his final career start.

Trained by Bob Baffert, the son of Eddington retires with eight wins from 16 career starts and earnings of $3,670,790.

“Secret Circle proved his class on the racetrack and has the pedigree and race record you want to see in a stallion. He is a horse of exceptional talent from an impressive family, and we look forward to introducing him to breeders,” said Pegram.

Boden joins Calumet Farm management team

Edited release:
Calumet Farm announced today that Charlie Boden has been appointed Stallion Season Sales Director and Racing Manager for the historic Kentucky farm.  His duties will include managing the growing stallion division as well as overseeing the racing operation.  Boden will join general manager Eddie Kane in a renewed effort to return the historic nursery to its glory days as one of central Kentucky’s most accomplished operations for owner Brad Kelley who purchased the farm in 2012.
Boden has spent the last nine years as head of sales at Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley USA where he managed the careers of top stallions Bernardini, Street Cry, and Medaglia d’Oro.
 “I am honored to be joining the team at Calumet,” Boden said. “Mr. Kelley’s passion for the sport is unrivaled.  We have a tremendous facility and the resources to do some very exciting things here. “
The farm’s stallion roster includes English Channel, winner of the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Turf and  sire of this year’s Arlington Million winner The Pizza Man and last year’s Travers winner V.E. Day.
Other notable stallions at Calumet include 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow, 2006 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Red Rocks and Ready’s Image.  Recent additions to the roster will include two G1 winning sons of Kitten’s Joy, Real Solution and ’15 Arlington Million runner-up Big Blue Kitten, at the end of his racing career.  Returning to Calumet Farm for the 2016 season will be Aikenite,  who stood at Bridlewood Farm in Florida for 2015, as well as 2010 Melbourne Cup Winner Americain and 2004 Irish Derby Winner Grey Swallow who both stood in Ireland for 2015.

Triple Crown winner American Pharoah to remain in training

The storybook ride of the 2015 Thoroughbred racing season is going to go on for at least one more chapter.

 
After days of discussion regarding the future of American Pharoah in the wake of his runner-up finish in the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga last Saturday, it was announced Thursday that the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years will remain in training with the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland October 31 still the target for his career swan song.

 
“I have decided to continue to race American Pharoah! The champ deserves another chance,” owner/breeder Ahmed Zayat tweeted late Thursday morning.
The specter of whether American Pharoah would be retired was strongly raised when he ran second to Keen Ice in the Travers last weekend, his first loss since dropping his career debut at Del Mar last August.

 
In the immediate aftermath of the race, Zayat emotionally stated that his “gut feeling” was to retire the son of Pioneerof the Nile. However, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said the colt came out of the effort in good order and added he would be game to keep the bay colt in training and give him a chance to go out on a winning note before retiring to Ashford Stud at the end of his 3-year-old season.

 
“I have discussed all aspects of American Pharoah’s race last Saturday in the Travers – and his condition since the race — with our whole team, and have decided American Pharoah deserves another chance, so we are pointing to the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” Zayat said in a statement given originally to Daily Racing Form and ESPN and later sent to the Herald-Leader. “I am very confident in my decision.

 
“Not a moment has gone by since the race on Saturday when I have not thought about this decision. My initial concern right after the race was about American Pharoah’s condition, because he did not run his ‘A’ race. He has come out of the race in great shape. And after examining all the evidence and talking it over with our team –  Bob Baffert, my son Justin, Jimmy Barnes, and Victor Espinoza – I believe there were a combination of factors that prevented American Pharoah from running his absolute best on Saturday. I have every confidence that he can run to his best again, and he deserves the chance to do so.”

 
Whether or not American Pharoah has one more prep race before the Breeders’ Cup has yet to be finalized. What is likely is that he will be returning to Kentucky in the coming weeks to train at Churchill Downs.

 
Churchill Downs does offer a possible prep race for American Pharoah in the form of the 1 1/8-miles $175,000 Lukas Classic on September 26th. Should Zayat and Baffert decide to go in that spot, Churchill Downs officials confirm the purse of the race would get a significant bump.

 
“We’ve had discussions with the connections and…obviously (the Lukas Classic) would need a significant purse increase,” said Darren Rogers, senior director of communications for Churchill Downs. “We’ve told them we would love to do that. But it ultimately it depends on the horse and if they decide to have a prep race or not.”

 
Even though the Travers loss ended American Pharoah’s eight-race win streak – highlighted by his historic sweep of the American classics –  it was hardly a disgraceful effort from the seven-time Grade I winner.

 
Breaking well as he always does, American Pharoah seemed in command as he shot to the front of the 10-horse field but he had Frosted and jockey Jose Lezcano at his hip pressing him through increasingly taxing internal fractions down the backstretch.

 
Frosted came eyeball to eyeball with the Triple Crown hero around the final turn, but American Pharoah still fought back along the rail to put that away in midstretch only to be caught by Donegal Racing’s late-running Keen Ice surging on the far outside to get up over the champion by three-quarters of a length.

 
“It almost ended well, almost pulled it off,” Baffert said the morning after the Travers. “He tried so hard under the circumstances and  he still was trying to win. He could have given it up… but he just dug and dug and dug.

 
“Sometimes you feel like ‘Well, he’s invincible’  but they all can get beat.”

 
If American Pharoah does not have another race between the Travers and the Breeders’ Cup, he would he into the year-end test off a nine-week layoff.

 
The break may be just what he needs to refuel his brilliant form. Beginning with his seasonal bow in the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 14, American Pharoah has made seven starts since that time, crisscrossing the country several times.

 
“It’s tough, but there is no horse who has ever done it like he’s done it,” Baffert said of the colt’s ability to ship.

 
Among the likely contenders American Pharoah would face in the Breeders’ Cup Classic are his Travers conqueror Keen Ice, who is back at Churchill Downs is also likely to train up to the race, the champion mare Beholder, who defeated males by 8 1/4 lengths in the Grade I Pacific Classic on August 22, and multiple Grade I winner Honor Code.

 
“I am very confident that this is the right decision for American Pharoah,” Zayat said. “He loves to race. He has provided my family, racing fans, and general sports fans with great thrills this year. He won the Triple Crown earlier this year, and he deserves the chance to be in the sport’s premier year-end event.”

 
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.

Champion Curlin relocating to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm

Champion Curlin, sire of 2015 Travers Stakes winner Keen Ice, will relocate to John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm for the 2016 season, it was announced Wednesday evening.

A two-time Horse of the Year, Curlin has stood at Lane’s End Farm since beginning his stud career in 2009. Hill ‘n’ Dale purchased a 20 percent share in the 11-year-old son of Smart Strike this May with Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Farm retaining majority 80 percent ownership.

“We believe that the owners of the horse are in the best position to direct his stallion career,” Banke said. “(Hill ‘n’ Dale owner) John Sikura has assembled a unique world-class broodmare band and has pledged his best mares to the sire. This year, we bred (champion) Dayatthespa and multiple graded stakes winner and producer Dream Rush to Curlin and will continue to support him with top-quality mares.”

Curlin stood the 2015 season for an advertised fee of $35,000 and has steadily had a string of progeny ring up success on the racetrack. This past Saturday saw his son Keen Ice rally in the stretch to defeat Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the $1.6 million Travers, ending that champion’s eight-race winning streak.  His daughter Curalina also scored back to back Grade I wins in this year’s Acorn Stakes and Coaching Club American Oaks.

Emerging from Curlin’s first crop of foals was 2013 Belmont Stakes winner and 2014 Met Mile hero Palace Malice, who was recently retired to Three Chimneys Farm to stand the 2016 season.

Campaigned by Stonestreet Farm, Curlin was named Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008 and retired as the all-time leading money earner in North America with $10,501,800 in earnings. Included in his 11 wins from 16 career starts were victories in the 2007 Preakness Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders’ Cup Classic and wins in the 2008 Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster Handicap, Woodward Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup. He was inducted into Racing’s Hall of Fame in  2014.

“An opportunity to invest in a proven stallion is rare, so we are honored by Barbara’s trust in us to stand Curlin,” Sikura said. “Of course, his addition to our roster is a huge boost for us.”

American Pharoah and Team lead NTWAB Award winners

The National Turf Writers and Broadcasters will salute American Pharoah and the team that molded him into the first Triple Crown champion in 37 years to highlight its 56th annual awards dinner on Oct. 28 at the Griffin Gate Marriott in Lexington.

 

Members of the NTWAB also voted to honor Eclipse Award winners Tom Hammond of NBC and Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated, Cathy Schenck of the Keeneland Library, and distinguished turf writer Bill Mooney. Tom Leach, the voice of the University of Kentucky, will emcee the dinner.

 

Ahmed Zayat, owner of American Pharoah, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza will be presented with the Mr. Fitz Award for typifying the spirit of racing. Zayat’s willingness to showcase the 12th Triple Crown champion whenever possible put the national spotlight on the sport and delighted fans. Baffert and Espinoza played critical roles in helping American Pharoah complete the historic sweep. The Mr. Fitz Award is named for the legendary trainer “Sunny” Jim Fitzsimmons.

 

“On behalf of myself, my family, the Baffert barn and all those connected with American Pharoah, we are honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award,” Zayat said. “As the owner and breeder of the winner of the Triple Crown, I feel a huge sense of responsibility that you can be the face of the sport. It’s actually not about the Zayats, not about the Bafferts. It’s about American Pharoah and the spirit of American Pharoah.”

 

Zayat said of American Pharoah, “This is America’s horse. He’s for all of you.”

 

Hammond will receive the third annual Jim McKay Award for broadcasting excellence. The Lexington native hosts NBC’s coverage of the Triple Crown races as well as “Summer at Saratoga” and the Breeders’ Cup. He holds a master’s degree in equine genetics from the University of Kentucky, providing him with extensive knowledge that he conveys to viewers in language that is easy to digest. He is a two-time Eclipse Award winner who earned an Emmy for his role in NBC’s telecast of the 1992 Breeders’ Cup.

 

Layden earned the Walter Haight Award for career turf writing excellence. Haight was an esteemed turf writer and columnist for the Washington Post. Layden has covered racing since 1976, beginning with the Schenectady (N.Y.) Gazette, the Albany Times-Union and Newsday. He has been the primary racing writer for Sports Illustrated since 2001. He is highly respected for an elegant writing style that is rich in detail. He won an Eclipse Award in 1987. The Maryland Jockey Club presented him with the Old Hilltop Award in 2012.

 

Schenck will be presented with the Joe Palmer Award for long and meritorious service to racing. Palmer was a celebrated turf writer for the New York Herald Tribune. Schenck, the head librarian at the Keeneland Library, has been an enormous help to journalists and others since she began working there in 1978. She holds a master’s degree in library science from the University of Kentucky. The Keeneland Library was recognized with a Special Eclipse Award in 2002.

 

Mooney, a former winner of the Walter Haight Award among numerous other honors, will receive the inaugural Bill Mooney Award for displaying courage in the face of tremendous adversity. Mooney, a cancer patient, wrote a letter to colleagues after the disease was discovered in which he told them that one of his remaining goals is “to enrich the lives of others.”

 

Cocktails and a silent auction, featuring autographed racing industry collectibles, memorabilia and prominent stallion and race-winners halters, will begin at 6:00 p.m. Dinner to begin at 7:30 pm and Awards Presentations to begin at 8:30 p.m.

 

Tickets for the event are $75 for NTWAB members and $100 for non-members and guests. The Awards Dinner represents the NTWAB’s only fundraiser and a portion of the proceeds from the event are used toward scholarship of prospective Thoroughbred racing journalists and to support Thoroughbred industry charities. Invitations will be mailed to members and non-members can request an invitation be sent by mail by contacting Loren Hebel-Osborne at lorenpr@aol.com . Ticket purchases can also be made online at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ntwab-56th-annual-awards-dinner-tickets-18434861166

 

 

Regis Farm to offer complete dispersal of stock at Keeneland November sale

Edited release:

Nat Rea’s Regis Farms announced Tuesday that it  will offer a complete dispersal of its Thoroughbred bloodstock holdings at Keeneland’s 2015 November Breeding Stock Sale, to be held Nov. 2-14. Three Chimneys Farm has been selected t represent Regis Farms as consignor of the dispersal, which is comprised of 41horses, including 15 broodmares, 6 weanlings and 20 horses of racing age, all to be offered without reserve.

After retiring from Martinrea International, an auto parts company which Rea founded and grew into a multi-billion dollar manufacturing business, he set out in 2012 to build a world-class breeding farm and racing operation.

Highlighting the dispersal are 2015 Kentucky Oaks runner-up Shook Up; Canadian Horse of the Year Sealy Hill, in foal to Medaglia d’Oro; as well as Bijou, a half-sister to two Grade I stakes-winning juvenile fillies in Certify and Cry and Catch Me. Also featured in the dispersal are graded stakes winner Seduire, winner of the 2015 Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes; Tapas, in foal to Distorted Humor; Zindaya, graded placed and stakes winner of the 2015 Intercontinental Stakes and earner of $284,240, and the impressive stakes winner and graded stakes-placed colt Donworth.

“I have shifted all my business focus to oil. I see great opportunity in that business today,” Rea said. “I’m passionate about both industries, and love the horses but I can’t devote my time to both, so I had to make a choice.”

“My relationship with Gonçalo Torrealba is why I chose Three Chimneys as my agent for this dispersal – I’m impressed with what he and his team are doing at Three Chimneys  Farm,” Rea added. “I told him I had decided to sell all of my equine interests and my farm, and within a week Three Chimneys structured a deal that was a win/win on every level. I am not certain who else would have been able to so fluidly construct such a seamless deal. As part of the agreement, all of the great staff at Regis Farms will remain fully employed going forward, which was extremely important to me. I will miss the business and sincerely wish buyers the best of luck with their purchases from our consignment.”

 

“We are honored to act as agent for the Regis Farms dispersal,” added Case Clay, Chief Commercial Officer of Three Chimneys. “Mr. Rea has accumulated an outstanding group of horses with high-quality pedigrees and physicals to match, and they fall into various categories and price points, so there will be something for everyone. Three Chimneys will catalog over 90 horses in November including this outstanding group, so we will be busy preparing for November.”

Plans for the farm are likely to be disclosed in the coming weeks.

Star Spangled Stakes offers fans chance to sing National Anthem at Keeneland

Edited release:

Keeneland will host a competition titled Star Spangled Stakes to select the singer to perform the National Anthem on Prelude to the Cup day, Thursday, Oct. 29.

The winner of the Star Spangled Stakes will sing the anthem trackside just before racing on Prelude to the Cup day, the nine-race card that precedes the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland on Oct. 30-31. The singer and five guests will enjoy a VIP Prelude to the Cup experience with Loge Box seating, on-site parking, food vouchers, programs and a Breeders’ Cup merchandise package.

“Keeneland is excited to present the Star Spangled Stakes competition,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “The opportunity to showcase Central Kentucky’s talent in a unique way during the Fall Meet and at Prelude to the Cup, and have a little fun while doing it, felt like the perfect fit for a community that has so fully embraced the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.”

To enter the competition, people must submit a 90-second video of them singing an a capella song of their choice atKeeneland.com/prelude/star-spangled-stakes. Keeneland judges will select the 30 performers demonstrating the most talent to be invited to call-backs at the Keeneland Entertainment Center on Friday, Sept. 11, where they will perform the National Anthem before a panel of judges.

The panel will select 10 finalists to perform the anthem live during the Keeneland Fall Meet, to be held Oct. 2-24. Video of each finalist also will be featured on Keeneland.com, where fans can watch the performances and vote for their favorite singer.

The winner will be announced on closing day of the Fall Meet.

Rules for the Star Spangled Stakes:

 

  • Contestants must be at least 10 years old and submit on Keeneland.com/prelude/star-spangled-stakes a 90-second audition video of themselves performing an a capella song of their choice. Online submissions are open from 11:59 a.m. ET, Thursday, Aug. 27, to 11:59 p.m.,Friday, Sept. 4.
  • Once submissions close, Keeneland will invite the 30 performers demonstrating the most talent to audition live at the Keeneland Entertainment Center at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11. Contestants will be required to sing the National Anthem at the audition.
  •   From the live auditions, a panel of judges will select 10 finalists who each will sing the National Anthem before the races on a date to be determined from Oct. 2-18.
  • Each finalist will be featured with a dedicated page on Keeneland.com and have his or her live anthem performance shared on Keeneland’s social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. They also will receive race-day accommodations on the day of their performance.
  • Upon the conclusion of the final live performance on Oct. 18, public voting will open at Keeneland.com to determine the winner. Voting will end at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22. The contestant receiving the most votes will be announced on closing day of the Fall Meet, Saturday, Oct. 24.

Additional information for the Star Spangled Stakes, including submission forms, competition rules and more can be found atKeeneland.com/prelude/star-spangled-stakes.

 

Future plans uncertain for American Pharoah; Keen Ice to train up to Breeders’ Cup

Edited NYRA release:

Showing no signs of fatigue or sorrow from his first loss in more than a year, Triple Crown champion American Pharoah met with some lucky fans one last time Sunday morning before saying goodbye to Saratoga Race Course.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert led American Pharoah to a fence outside his barn on the main track backstretch, where the colt obligingly accepted carrots and stood for pictures before reluctantly being led back to his stall. He is scheduled to depart early Monday morning for California via Kentucky.
“I’m happy with the way he looked today. I could tell he’s not upset,” Baffert said. “You could see when he was out here, he was himself. He was his sweet self.”
After battling with fellow Grade I winner Frosted from the starting gate to the top of the stretch, American Pharoah didn’t have enough left to hold off late-running Keen Ice in Saturday’s Grade I, $1.6 million Travers. The bay Pioneerof the Nile colt had won eight straight races, seven of them Grade I, including his historic sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes this spring.
The final time for the 1 ¼-mile Mid-Summer Derby was 2:01.57, the fastest since Point Given won in 2:01.4 in 2001 – Baffert’s lone Travers victory in five tries. Last summer, Baffert finished last in the Travers with eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern.
“It’s unfortunate when you get beat like that. I thought he tried so hard under the circumstances and he was still trying to win,” Baffert said. “He could have given it up. He could have done like Bayern and said, ‘Adios. I’ll see you in the next dance.’ He just dug and dug.”
Baffert did not second-guess the decision to bring American Pharoah to Saratoga, where 15,000 people showed up to watch him gallop the morning before the Travers, his second race since the Triple Crown. On August 2, he won the Grade I Haskell at Monmouth Park.
“I wasn’t disappointed with his race. We were all sad. We really wanted him to win. He’s been so great to us; that’s why I’m not disappointed in him. He tried. If I had to do it again, I would have brought him here. I’m glad I brought him. I think racing needed something like this,” Baffert said.
“It’s amazing, what he’s done for racing. Everybody in town afterward, when they saw me they said, ‘We’re sorry. We feel so bad for you, Bob, but thanks for bringing that horse.’ It almost ended well. Almost. We almost pulled it off.”
In the immediate aftermath of the Travers, owner Ahmed Zayat wondered if he had pushed American Pharoah too hard and said if he shows even the slightest sign of regression, that he would be retired. Baffert said Sunday that no decision has been made.
“Mr Zayat is a very emotional man. We were all pretty disappointed. We were like in shock. We were surprised he got beat. We weren’t really prepared for a losing speech. When we hit it, it was like, we’ve just got to get through this,” Baffert said. “Basically, we’ll let the horse tell us what he’s doing. I really don’t know what the thought is. I know [Zayat will] be going back and forth. He brought him up here. You really have to thank him. He wanted to share him. He’s a sportsman for bringing him up here and sharing him with Saratoga. He did it for racing, and it didn’t work out. The horse was just valiant in defeat and he was trying so hard. He was empty, empty, at the top of the stretch and he was still trying to win. I still thought there was a chance.”
Baffert said if American Pharoah does run again, he would likely train up to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic October 31 at Keeneland. He will be retired at the end of his 3-year-old campaign and stand stud at Coolmore.
“We’ll just get him back there and let him chill for a little bit. He needs to chill. He’s been running, and he got a little hot yesterday, which he usually doesn’t get hot. Sometimes it means the racing might be getting to him a little bit. As you saw, the way he looks today he looks pretty good,” Baffert said. “We’ll just play it by ear. Ahmed Zayat, it’s his horse. My job is if I see something, if he were to come up with something I didn’t like, then I’d tell him. Nothing has shown up today. We’re glad that he looked fine and he’s healthy. I didn’t see any problem there.
“He looks great today,” he said. “According to the sheet guys, he was the play against. He was supposed to bounce, which he did. That’s what they do. He could come back and freshen up and run. I don’t think he tailed off; I think he just didn’t bring his ‘A’ game. If you look at him, he still looks pretty healthy. He doesn’t look like a tired horse.”
When the time does come to say goodbye, Baffert said it will be difficult on the entire team, including wife Jill, son Bode, assistant Jimmy Barnes and exercise rider Jorge Alvarez.
“I think we’re all going to cry. We just don’t know. I think Ahmed was very emotional. It was tough to see him lose. It’s going to be tough to let go,” he said. “But, we’ve both said that if we see something where he’s just tailing off or something like that, that he needed more time, that we’d make that call. Right now, I just haven’t heard. He could have won (the Travers) and he could have pulled the plug. There’s a lot of rumors out there but I don’t hear any of those.
“Sometimes, you feel like he’s invincible, but they all get beat,” he said. “There’s no horse that’s ever done it like he’s done it. I’ve never had a horse that could bring performance after performance after performance. I’ve had horses throw a big performance, but they can’t keep it going. He almost did it.”
*           *           *
Keen Ice’s victory in Saturday’s Travers Stakes was so cool that trainer Dale Romans’ smart phone actually froze.

“It’s been overwhelming since last night,” he said while standing outside the barn and still soaking in post-race glory. “I’ve been in a lot of big events and won a lot of big races, but the lingering effect of this one is bigger than (winning) the Preakness or any of them. I had so many calls my phone froze up and I haven’t been able to use it since last night. I finally got it working late this morning. I know everybody thinks I’m ignoring them, but it wouldn’t work.”

Romans, an Eclipse Award-winning trainer who has experienced more valleys than peaks this year until winning the prestigious Travers, praised Triple Crown champion American Pharoah for the work he did to finish second. He also gave Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert high marks.

“I think American Pharoah ran his race. His speed figure was really good,” said Romans, who added he and Baffert spoke for 30 minutes last night. “Bob is a class act and a sportsman. He was proud of his horse, as he should have been. He knew what he was up against coming over here. I thought he had his horse well prepared and that he ran well. He took the worst of it getting hooked on the lead and had to work. But great horses have to earn it. They have a target on their back.”

Donegal Racing’s color bearer, who had lost to American Pharoah in three straight Grade I’s before the Travers – the Kentucky Derby, Belmont and Haskell – just walked the shedrow this morning.

“He was laying down last night before I left and that’s the first time I had seen that, so he was tired,” said Romans. “I think he really got a lot out of the race. I’d never seen him tired, but he’s tired now, and with every right to be so.”

Romans said that for now the long term plan is to train Keen Ice up to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. In the short term, he will be on the same plane with American Pharoah and Baffert’s pony, Smokey, headed for Lexington, Ky. early Monday morning. Keen Ice will deplane there and van to Romans’ stable at Churchill Downs while Baffert’s pair fly on to Southern California.

Even though the Travers winner won’t be in Saratoga, his legacy will live on. The Spring Street Deli has already added the “Keen Ice” to the menu.

“It’s Wonder white bread, bologna, Velveeta cheese and Miracle Whip. That’s a hillbilly sandwich straight from South Lousiville. The blue collar horse needs a blue collar sandwich,” quipped Romans.

*           *           *
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin reported Sunday morning that Travers third-place finisher Frosted came out of the race in fine fettle and may point to the Grade I, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational on October 3 at Belmont Park.
Frosted, owned by Godolphin Racing, found himself in an unusual position on Saturday pressing the early pace set by American Pharoah. The gray son of Tapit dueled with the Triple Crown winner for much of the 1 ¼-mile journey, even putting a head in front as they left the far turn before succumbing in the final eighth of a mile. He finished three lengths behind winner Keen Ice and 2 ¼ lengths behind American Pharoah.
“He’s in good shape,” said McLaughlin. “He certainly put in a good effort; it just wasn’t exactly the game plan. I was excited at the quarter pole, we were head and head. I thought maybe we were going to get lucky again, but it didn’t work out. He ran a big race.”
McLaughlin was forced to call an audible when, two races before the Travers, Frosted’s jockey, Joel Rosario, was injured in a spill and forced to take off his mounts. After carefully weighing his options, McLaughlin went with Jose Lezcano, who rode Wedding Toast to victory for McLaughlin and Godolphin in the Grade I Ogden Phipps on June 6 at Belmont.
“When Wedding Toast ran (in the Ogden Phipps), I told [Jose] to lay third,” said McLaughlin. “He broke, he (went to the lead), and he kept going and won by five. This time, it looked like American Pharoah would be on the lead, maybe Upstart would press him, and we’d be third to fifth. We always break well, but just try to sit third to fifth. He took it upon himself to go and engage him early because no one else was there.
“It’s so tough to lose your jockey 30 minutes before the race,” McLaughlin added. “Joel has been working him since March and knows him so well and rides him so well. We didn’t want to engage (American Pharoah) that early but Jose rode him well. It was unfortunate for us and maybe for American Pharoah, too.”
*           *           *
Grade II Jim Dandy winner Texas Red has emerged from his fifth-place finish in Saturday’s Travers in good condition, according to Julie Clark, Keith Desormeaux’s Saratoga-based assistant trainer.

Clark reported that nothing appeared to be amiss with the Afleet Alex colt, who bumped the gate at the start of the race and seemed to lack his usual kick in the stretch, ultimately finishing 11 ¾ lengths behind winner Keen Ice.

“He seems good,” she said. “He certainly left us with a few questions after yesterday. I mean, they don’t fire every time but we obviously expected a very different effort out of him. There’s nothing obvious, we even had a vet take a look at him and didn’t find anything. I guess we’ve got to chalk it up to ‘just not his day,’ which is great but disappointing at the same time.”

Texas Red kept to his regular post-race routine, walking the shedrow and grazing outside of the barn Sunday morning. Clark described the colt’s demeanor as “business as usual. (He’s) a little tired, obviously, and resting but that’s about it.”

Multiple Grade I winner Palace Malice retired; will stand at Three Chimneys

Multiple Grade I winner Palace Malice has been retired from racing and will stand stud at Three Chimneys Farm for the 2016 season, Dogwood Stable and Three Chimneys  announced in a release on Thursday.

Palace Malice had been plagued by a series of physical setbacks this season in his attempt to return from bone bruising that was discovered following his sixth place finish in the 2014 Grade I Whitney last August. The 5-year-old son of Curlin only managed two starts this year, running third in the Diablo Stakes at Belmont Park on May 10 and fourth in the Alydar Stakes at Saratoga on August 9.

“It is with great disappointment that we announce the retirement of Palace Malice,” said Dogwood Stable’s President Cot Campbell. “He is the horse of a lifetime who has brought our partners exciting memories that will live on forever. After getting a clean bill of health in November subsequent to an uncharacteristic performance in the Whitney last year, I owed it to my partners and the fans to give it our best shot to see if we could bring the mighty son of Curlin back in 2015.

“Despite our sporting effort, it was not meant to be.”

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Palace Malice was one of the most versatile runners of his generation. The bay horse rebounded from a 12th place finish in the 2013 Kentucky Derby to capture that year’s Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown, as well as the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes.

When Palace Malice returned for his 4-year-old season, he rattled off four consecutive victories en route to establishing himself as one of the nation’s leading handicap horses. He opened his campaign with wins in the Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap, Grade II New Orleans Handicap and Grade III Westchester Stakes before earning arguably his most impressive career win in the 2014 Grade I Met Mile.

In the Met Mile, Palace Malice overcame having to break from the undesirable No.1 post position and gamely fought past eventual two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents to win by a length.

“Palace Malice was all class from day one. He was one of those rare horses whose raw speed allowed him to dominate his division as a miler yet whose stamina had  him winning the Belmont against the best of his generation,” Pletcher said. “He was the most versatile horse I have ever trained, and one of the best. You don’t see such a talented, multi-dimensional horse like this very often. To win the Belmont one year and come back the next year and win the Met Mile in 1:33 2/5 …it’s an unbelievable accomplishment, and indicative of his exceptional talent.”

Bred by William S. Farish, Palace Malice retires with seven wins from 19 starts and $2,691,135. A stud fee for 2016 has yet to be announced but Palace Malice will be available for inspection at Three Chimneys throughout the upcoming Keeneland September yearling sale.

“Palace Malice is a valuable addition to the strengthening roster at Three Chimneys, as he possesses a superb physical to go along with an amazing body of work as a racehorse,” said Doug Cauthen, Vice Chair of the Three Chimneys’ Board. “John Malone’s Bridlewood Farm will be a cornerstone partner in the horse, and we anticipate that a coalition of shareholder partners will be added over the next month to ensure this extraordinary horse’s chances to succeed at stud.”

 

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