Archive for January, 2010

Academy Award – the horse – to Old Friends

Academy Award, one of the only surviving sons of Triple Crown winner Secretariat, has been donated to Micheal Blowen’s Old Friends Thoroughbred retirement facility in Georgetown and will be sponsored by Golden Globe-winning actress Angie Dickinson along with Secretariat’s owner Penny Cheneryand Boston-based TV producer Barbara Bowen.

The 24-year-old stallion didn’t begin his racing career until age four. In his two seasons on the track the diminutive chestnut had 19 starts and five wins, including a stakes victory on the turf in the Grade II Early Times Manhattan Handicap, in which he defeated Stage Colony, an Old Friends retiree who passed away in 2009. Academy Award’s career earnings totaled $226,943.

“Michael and I have been friends for a long time and I adore the horses,” said Dickinson. “Now, I finally have an Academy Award, and I can’t wait to see him.”

Once owed by Peter E. Blum, Academy Award has been standing at Win Row Farm in Lebanon, OH since 1991.

“We’re overjoyed to have Academy Award in a paddock next to Commentator and Gulch,” Blowen said.

Former Claiborne stallion Private Terms euthanized

Pensioned Claiborne stallion Private Terms was euthanized last week due to the infirmities of old age, according to farm manager Bradley Purcell. He was 25.

Private Terms was retired from stud duty following the 2006 breeding season. Bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Janney and produced from a sister to champion Ruffian, he won the 1988 Grade I Wood Memorial and went into that year’s Kentucky Derby unbeaten in seven starts for trainer Charles Hadry.

After wins over Seeking the Gold in both the Wood and Gotham Stakes, Private Terms finished ninth in the Derby behind the victorious filly Winning Colors and was fourth in the Preakness two weeks later.

Private Terms won three of four starts as a four-year-old, taking the Grade II Massachusetts Handicap and setting a new track record in the Never Bend Handicap.

Retired with a record of 12 wins from 17 lifetime starts, Private Terms sired 27 stakes winners, including Grade I-winning millionaires Soul of the Matter and Afternoon Deelites. He is also the broodmare sire of 19 stakes winners, including 2009 Hawthorne Derby winner Proceed Bee.

War Pass, Curlin baby photos

The parade of foal cuteness continues to roll through today. Lane’s End Farm just sent over some shots of the first foal by champion War Pass, a filly out of five-time stakes winner Throbbin’ Heart foaled January 19 at Calumet Farm, as well as some pictures of the second and third foals by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin.

The Curlin foals – a filly out of Grade III winner Collect Call foaled at Taylor Made and filly out of Grade III-placed Home Court foaled at Gainesway Farm – were born on January 15 and January 13, respectively.

Enjoy the latest round of pictures:

Throbbin' Heart filly (Matt Goins/Lane's End photo)

Throbbin' Heart filly (Matt Goins/Lane's End photo)

Home Court filly (Matt Goins/Lane's End photo)

Home Court filly (Matt Goins/Lane's End photo)

Collect Call filly (Matt Goins/Lane's End photo)

Collect Call filly (Matt Goins/Lane's End photo)

Big Brown baby photos rolling in

Santaria colt (photo by Gayle Ewadinger)

Santaria colt (photo by Gayle Ewadinger)

This time of year is among the busiest and most exciting for Thoroughbred farms across the Bluegrass as mares are beginning to foal, giving us a new crop of young hopefuls to cheer for in the years to come.

Among the most anticipated foals this season are those by dual classic winner and champion Big Brown, who stands at Three Chimneys Farm. His first foal, a filly out of Impressive Attire, was born at Swifty Farms in Indiana on January 12 and just today, Three Chimneys marketing director Jen Roytz was kind enough to send on photos of two of his newest babies – a filly out of Gata Bella, located at Buck Pond Farm, and a colt out of Santaria born right at Three Chimneys on Wednesday.

Since everyone could use a little warm and fuzzy happiness to get them to the weekend, here are the photos of the newest “Brownies”.

Santaria colt (photo by Gayle Ewadinger)

Santaria colt (photo by Gayle Ewadinger)

Gata Bella filly (photo by Crystal Jones)

Gata Bella filly (photo by Crystal Jones)

Jockey Justin Vitek loses battle with leukemia

Jockey Justin Vitek, who made an inspiring return to the races at Turfway Park last February one year after being diagnosed with myelogenous leukemia, passed away due to the disease early Thursday morning in his home state of Texas. Vitek was 36.

Justin Vitek

Justin Vitek, Churchill Downs photo

Vitek, who began riding in 1993, developed a reputation as one of the grittiest as well as one of the most personable figures on the backstretch. While riding primarily in the Midwest, he racked up 739 winners throughout his career including a victory aboard Miss Pickums in the $200,000, Grade II Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs in November 2000.

His cancer was in remission when he returned to ride in four races last February but he began feeling ill again shortly after and later underwent a stem cell transplant when it was determined the leukemia had returned.

“We talked with him shortly after Christmas and it sounded like he was doing well but sometime after that his body began having problems with the transplant…and it went downhill from there,” said Jeff Johnston, Midwest regional representative for the Jockey’s Guild. “He was like family. He stayed with me and my family when he rode at River Downs and Turfway. You couldn’t meet a nicer, more genuine guy.”

Johnston said services for Vitek would be held in Wallis, Texas and that Turfway Park was also planning to hold a memorial service as well. He is survived by his daughter, Bree.

“He was one of the most genuinely, truly nice people that you could ever run into in this industry,” said John Asher, vice president of racing communications for Churchill Downs. “He was the guy who showed up every day and he did so with a smile on his face. You always felt better after you saw Justin.”

Vale of York, Lookin At Lucky top Experimental Free Handicap

Vale of York  and Lookin At Lucky, the one-two finishers, respectively, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, share the high weight assignment of 126 pounds on the 2009 Experimental Free Handicap, released today by The Jockey Club and available at

The filly division is headed by Grade I Hollywood Starlet winner Blind Luck and  Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner She Be Wild at 123 pounds.

The Experimental Free Handicap, published annually by The Jockey Club since 1935, is a weight-based assessment of the previous year’s leading 2-year-olds, with the weights compiled for a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 miles on dirt. This year’s weighting committee of racing secretaries was composed of Ben Huffman of Churchill Downs, P.J. Campo of the New York Racing Association and Thomas S. Robbins of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

The committee weighted a total of 93 males and 82 fillies. Eligible for weighting were all 2-year-olds of 2009 that finished among the top four in graded or other unrestricted races with an added value of at least $75,000, run in the continental United States.

Lookin At Lucky, a son of Smart Strike, won five of his six starts last year for earnings of $1,243,000. Owned by Karl Watson, Michael Pegram and Paul Weitman, Lookin At Lucky won the CashCall Futurity, Norfolk Stakes, Del Mar Futurity and Best Pal Stakes. He was bred in Kentucky by Gulf Coast Farms LLC.

Godolphin Racing’s Vale of York defeated Lookin At Lucky by a head in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his only North American start. Bred in Ireland by Stock Vale Ltd., Vale of York won three of his six races in 2009 for earnings of $1,151,186.

The 126 pounds assigned to Lookin At Lucky and Vale of York is the standard impost for top Experimental colts and equivalent to the assignment on last year’s high weight, Midshipman.

Lookin At Lucky and Vale of York are weighted two pounds higher than Noble’s Promise, a winner of three of his six starts in 2009, including the Grade I Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October and the Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile Stakes. He earned $733,500 for owner Chasing Dreams Racing.

Kingfield Stables’ Buddy’s Saint, winner of the Nashua Stakes and Remsen Stakes by a combined 16 ¾ lengths, is weighted at 123 pounds. He won two of his three starts on the year and earned $218,600.

At 122 pounds are Lady Serena Rothschild’s Pounced and WinStar Farm’s homebred Super Saver.

Pounced won two of his four starts in 2009, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in his only North American start. He earned $668,454.

Super Saver also won two of his four starts last year, including the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, for earnings of $171,232.

In the filly division, the 123 pounds assigned to Blind Luck and She Be Wild is the standard impost for top Experimental fillies and one pound less than the assignment on last year’s high weight, Stardom Bound.

Bred in Kentucky by Fairlawn Farm, Blind Luck’s four victories from six starts last year included the Grade I Hollywood Starlet and Oak Leaf Stakes. She also finished third by three-quarters of a length to She Be Wild in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. She earned $709,050 for her owners Mark DeDomenico LLC, John Carver and Jerry Hollendorfer.

Nancy Mazzoni’s She Be Wild won four of her five starts in 2009 and earned $1,311,040. In addition to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, She Be Wild won the Arlington Washington Lassie Stakes and was beaten a half-length when second in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes. She was bred in Kentucky by Mike and Nancy Mazzoni.

Blind Luck and She Be Wild are weighted two pounds higher than Hot Dixie Chick, who notched three wins from four starts included the Spinaway Stakes and Schuylerville Stakes.

At 120 pounds are Beautician and Negligee, winner of the Grade I Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland.

Among sires of Experimental horses, Bernstein tops the list of colts and geldings with five representatives, while Tiznow heads the fillies’ list with four representatives. Combining the two lists, Roman Ruler is the leading sire with six representatives. Of the 175 juveniles weighted, 108 were bred in Kentucky, 34 in Florida and five each in California and Pennsylvania.

WinStar Farm to host Fantasy Kentucky Derby contest

WinStar Farm, which boasts such early Kentucky Derby hopefuls as Rule, American Lion and Super Saver, is giving fans a chance to ramp up their Derby fever as well by hosting a Fantasy contest for the 2010 Derby Trail.

The Fantasy Derby game is a free program that gives participants the chance to manage their own stable of Kentucky Derby hopefuls and be eligible to win prizes, ranging from a Derby trip package to the right to name a WinStar horse (terms apply), as well as Distorted Humor, Tiznow and Colonel John halters and pictures.

Each player will draft 12 horses into their fantasy stable and the player who accumulates the most earnings from February 13th through April 17th, wins. WinStar does the work of gathering statistics, computing earning totals and updating standings.

“We are hoping to offer fans, handicappers and potential new owners unique access to the world of WinStar,” said Elliott Walden, Vice President and Racing Manager of WinStar.

Top prizes include:

1st Place
Two 3rd floor box seat tickets to the 2010 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. Round-trip coach airfare. Lodging for 3 nights. VIP tour of WinStar Farm.

2nd Place
Two 3rd floor box seat tickets to the 2010 Kentucky Derby. VIP tour of WinStar Farm.

3rd Place
Two 3rd floor box seat tickets to the 2010 Kentucky Oaks. VIP tour of WinStar Farm.

To sign up and participate, visit

Curlin’s stud fee lowered to $40,000

Lane’s End stallion and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who was slated to stand the 2010 season for an advertised fee of $60,000, has had his fee readjusted down to $40,000 for this year.

As was the case a year ago, many farms have reduced stud fees across the board. Curlin’s stood his initial season last year for $75,000 before having his fee lowered when Lane’s End first announced its roster in early November.

“We are delighted with the three Curlin foals that we’ve seen so far, and are eagerly awaiting our home bred Curlin babies,” Curlin’s owner Jess Jackson said in a statement. “We also know that times are tough for our friends in the breeding business. To continue to attract the best book of mares for Curlin and further help our breeders, we have decided to lower his fee for the 2010 breeding season to $40,000.”

Curlin’s first foal, a filly out of the Hawkster mare Zophie, was born January 12.

Midshipman returns in Meydan opener

The opening of Dubai’s splashy new Meydan Racecourse tomorrow will be nothing short of a spectacular affair. Thus, it’s only fitting that one of Sheikh Mohammed’s stable stars would be on hand to usher in his remarkable state-of-the-art racing complex.

Midshipman, the champion 2-year-old male of 2008, will make his four-year-old debut on the opening night of the Dubai Racing Carnival when he lines up in the Group III, one mile Al Maktoum Challenge Round One.

Midshipman was expected to be a top candidate for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Racing on the Kentucky Derby trail last season but had to miss the entire Triple Crown season due to a soft tissue injury in his left front leg that occurred in March. The son of Unbridled’s Song returned last September, winning a six furlong allowance race at Belmont before running a strong third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile over the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita Park in November.

Midshipman had captured the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile also at Santa Anita.

“Midshipman is in good form and he looks a much better horse in terms on condition compared to last season – physically he appears to be a different horse,” said Saeed bin Suroor, trainer for Godolphin. “He has some very good form on Pro Ride and Polytrack in America and the Tapeta (at Meydan) surface is very similar. He has been working well but I think he will improve on whatever he does on Thursday.”

Noble’s Promise getting ready to gear up

This past Fall, Noble’s Promise launched himself into early Kentucky Derby discussions when he threw down a half-length triumph over Aikenite in the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and then followed up that up with a third place run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

In a couple of weeks, Chasing Dreams Racing’s promising colt will officially start prepping for this year’s classics as he is slated to have his first breeze in early February, according to trainer Kenny McPeek.

Noble’s Promise was given about four weeks of rest following his second place finish behind champion Lookin At Lucky in the Grade I Cashcall Futurity on December 19 and has recently resumed galloping in the last couple weeks.

“He’s doing good,” McPeek said Tuesday. “He’s been galloping at Santa Anita and will be arriving in Miami today. We’re tentatively set to have his first breeze in early February but nothing is really set in stone right now. Depending on how he does physically is going to determine where he ends up (for his first start back).”

Though Noble’s Promise has made all of his six career starts on either turf or synthetic tracks, McPeek said he plans on prepping the son of Cuvee exclusively on dirt leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

“I’d like to have two preps,” McPeek said. “I think he’s a horse with plenty of foundation from his 2-year-old season and we just want his third start – hopefully the Kentucky Derby – to be his best start.”

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