Archive for October, 2008

Stallion open houses on tap

So has everyone recovered from Breeders’ Cup? It was indeed an exciting two days of racing and, most importantly, it was an injury-free two days of racing. After the tragedy of George Washington last year and Pine Island and Fleet Indian breaking down the year before that (Fleet Indian thankfully recovered), it was refreshing to not see the ambulance make an appearance this time around.

We only have a short time to catch our breath, however, as both the Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland November sales are set to take place, both of which feature a number of top quality offerings including Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour who is set to sell at Fasig-Tipton Sunday night. One of the best parts of the sales season is it also marks the time of year when many of the top farms hold open houses to showcase their stallions for the upcoming breeding season.

Among the farms that will be holding open houses in the coming weeks are Adena Springs (Nov. 1 from 4-8 p.m.); Ashford Stud (Nov. 1-8 with Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Henrythenavigator and Majestic Warrior available for inspection), Darley (starting Nov. 1 12:30-3:30 p.m.), Gainesway Farm (Oct. 31-Nov. 17 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), Lane’s End (Nov. 1-14 10 a.m. 2 p.m.), and WinStar Farm (Nov. 1-5 10 a.m.-3 p.m.).

While the open houses are primarily for breeders, most farms understand that fans also enjoy the rare chance to get up close to some of the sport’s greatest stallions and visit some of their past heroes. After all, it’s not every day you get one-on-one time with such great champions as A.P. Indy or Tiznow (Tiznow will beg for mints, by the way. Literally). So if you’re dying to check out your favorite stallion – or just visit one of these gorgeous farms – take advantage of these offerings over the next couple weeks.

And speaking of visits, don’t forget that tomorrow is the public welcome ceremony for Alysheba at Kentucky Horse Park!

Raven’s Pass upsets Curlin in Classic

John Gosden’s 13-to-1 shot Raven’s Pass surged past Curlin on the outside during the stretch run and kicked on to defeat the reigning Horse of the Year in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in a new track record time of 1:59.27.

Curlin, who rated about eight lengths behind the leaders down the backstretch, began surging up five-wide around the turn, grabbed a short lead at the head of the lane, and looked like he was going draw off with his customary ease.

As they settled in for the stretch run, however, Raven’s Pass rolled up alongside Curlin after rating just behind him throughout the 1 1/4-mile test and simply exploded by the chestnut colt en route to a 1 3/4 length win. Curlin, unable to find his familiar kick over the synthetic surface, faded to fourth as Henrythenavigator rallied on the rail for second with Tiago third.

When jockey Frankie Dettori hit the finish line aboard Raven’s Pass, he tossed his whip in the air and raised his arm in celebration of one of the great upsets in recent history.

“When I crossed the line I didn’t know if it was true or a dream,” Dettori said.

Raven’s Pass was one of the top milers in Europe, defeating four-time Group I winner Henrythenavigator in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on September 27, but was stretching out beyond his preferred distance for the first time in his career.

Trained by Gosden, the son of Elusive Quality was bred in Kentucky by Stonerside and now races for Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Stable.

Raven’s Pass capped a storybook day for Darley as they also captured the Juvenile with Midshipman and the Juvenile Turf with Donativum.

Casino Drive was last in the field of 12 after setting the early pace.

Conduit comes from the clouds in Turf

Group I winner Conduit unleashed an amazing turn of foot on the extreme outside in the stretch and surged past his foes to capture the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf, covering the 1 1/2 mile distance in a new stakes record time of 2:23.42.

When expected pacesetter Red Rock Canyon began to get swallowed up by the pack, Conduit angled out under jockey Ryan Moore five wide and drove home to collar Eagle Mountain by 1 1/2 lengths in his first start in the United States.

Dancing Forever was third with Solider of Fortune coming in fourth.

Conduit was coming off a victory in the Group I St. Leger Stakes for trainer Sir Michael Stoute.

Midnight Lute repeats in Sprint

He hasn’t been right much this year but when Midnight Lute is on, he’s one of the best. The massive dark bay son of Real Quiet, who has only made two starts since winning the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, just joined the rare group of back-to-back Breeders’ Cup winners when he gritted past Fatal Bullet in the lane to win this year’s $2 million Sprint by 1 3/4 lengths.

The five-year-old horse has been plagued by injuries and started just once in 2008, a 10th place effort in the Pat O’ Brien Handicap on August 24. Midnight Lute sizzled in his final work this past Monday, however, and showed his old form was back when he rolled up on the extreme outside around the turn and kept plugging away down the middle of the track to cross the line in 1:07.08 for the six-furlong test.

The win was the second on the day for trainer Bob Baffert, who saddled Midshipman to victory in the Juvenile, and made jockey Garrett Gomez the first rider to boot home three Breeders’ Cup winners on one card. Gomez also rode Albertus Maximus to victory in the Dirt Mile and Midshipman in the Juvenile.

Fatal Bullet was second with Street Boss third.

Donativum takes Juvenile Turf

The John Gosden-trained Donativum prevailed in a stirring stretch battle against Westphalia to capture the $1 million Juvenile Turf by a half length.

After pacesetter Orthodox began to give way around the final turn, Westphalia moved up to challenge and was set down for a powerful drive by jockey John Murtagh. Donativum, who had won his last two races in England, responded with his own kick and the two youngsters battled to the wire with the gray gelding Donativum fighting back in the final strides.

“I was concerned just before the straight of finding a way out, I could see Johnny had the same problem. I angled him out and it took about 100 yards to find top gear and once he got to Johnny’s horse I knew he was in full flight,” said winning jockey Frankie Dettori, who earned his seventh Breeders’ Cup triumph.

Owned by Princess Haya, Donativum covered the one-mile distance in 1:34.68. Coronet of a Baron was third.

Midshipman holds strong in Juvenile

The Bob Baffert-trained Midshipman held off a charge from Square Eddie to his inside on the rail and Street Hero to his outside to earn a gritty victory in the $2 million Juvenile by 1 1/4-lengths.

The chestnut son of Unbridled’s Song took over the lead from Square Eddie down the backside and was still full of run when Street Hero ranged up to challenge around the final turn.

Street Hero seemed in prime position to go by but Midshipman stubbornly would not back up to his foes, hitting the wire in 1:40.94 for the 1 1/16-miles test.

Square Eddie fought back along the rail to get second with Street Hero third.

The win gives Baffert his sixth career Breeders’ Cup triumph and his second win in the Juvenile, having saddled Vindication to victory in 2002.

Goldikova too good in Mile

The great female stars of the sport were not just showcased on “Ladies’ Day” Friday. Goldikova, the wonderful French-based filly trained by former two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winning jockey Freddie Head, shot through an opening between Daytona and Precious Kitten and simply exploded in the stretch under jockey Olivier Peslier to capture the $2 million Mile over defending race winner Kip Deville by 1 1/4 lengths.

“Just before the last corner, I was waiting for a chance, when that hole opened up she jumped up and just kept going,” Peslier said. “She’s very good. I’ve won a lot of big races with her.”

With the victory, Head becomes the first former Breeders’ Cup winning jockey to later train a Breeders’ Cup winner. Head was the jockey for the champion racemare Miesque, who won the Mile in 1987 and 1988.

“She was a little backward before but now she’s in the same league as Miesque,” Head said of Goldikova.

Goldikova, a multiple Group I winner, broke smoothly out of post position four and settled just along the rail behind pacesetter Thorn Song through fractions of :23.00 and :46.52.

Daytona rose up to challenge Thorn Song around the turn with Precious Kitten also moving well on the outside and for a brief moment, it appeared Goldikova would not get the room she needed. The 3-year-old bay filly finally emerged from a gap and kicked home effortlessly to hit the wire in 1:33.40.

Kip Deville, winner of the Mile a year ago, was second with Whatsthescript getting up for third over Precious Kitten.

Head was the regular rider of the great racemare Miesque, who became the first horse to win back-to-back Breeders’ Cup races when she took the Mile in 1987 and 1988.

Albertus Maximus gets up in Dirt Mile

Under steady handling from jockey Garrett Gomez, Albertus Maximus came running down the center of the track and kicked away from Rebellion to take the $1 million Dirt Mile by 1 1/4-lengths.

Albertus Maximus was coming off a third-place effort in the Grade I Goodwood Stakes here on September 27, but the cut back in distance suited the son of Albert the Great perfectly today. Trained by Vladimir Cerin, Albertus Maximus covered the distance in 1:33.41.

Rebellion was second with pacesetter Two Step Salsa holding for third.

Desert Code springs upset in Turf Sprint

Jockey Richard Migliore angled longshot Desert Code out in the stretch and then collared Diabolical in the final strides to win the $1 million Turf Sprint in an upset.

Diabolical looked a winner as he came rolling down the middle of the stretch but Desert Code found room after being stuck briefly behind horses to get the up by half a length at the wire. The son of E Dubai, who was winless in his last four starts including a seventh-place finish in the Grade III Morvich Handicap here on September 24, paid $75.00 to win, $30.80 to place and $21.00 to show.

The win gives veteran rider Migliore his first career Breeders’ Cup triumph.

Final time for the race, contested over about 6 1/2 furlongs, was 1:11.60. Storm Treasure got up for third.

Muhannak takes Marathon

Muhannak, a multiple stakes winner in England and Ireland, emerged from the pack at the head of the lane to win the first running of the Breeders’ Cup Marathon.

Muhannak overtook Zappa coming off the turn and held off a determined outside rally from Church Service to prevail by a head. Final time for the 1 1/2-mile race was 2:28.24.

Owned by Richard Pegum and trained by Ralph Beckett, Muhannak was specifically pointed to this race this season as he is synthetic and stamina specialist.

“He’s a Polytrack horse and he’s a mile and a half horse so the conditions for him to ideal. We had to come,” said Beckett, who only began training in 2000 and is enjoying a career-year having saddled Look Here to a stunning win in the Juddmonte Oaks this season. “He got the perfect trip. The fact that there’s no kickback on polytrack evens it out and makes it fair for all hold-up horses or speed horses.”

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