Archive for August, 2010

MI Developments to offer $5.5 million Preakness bonus

MI Developments, parent company of Pimlico Race Course, announced today the introduction of a bonus program which could award an additional $5.5 million in bonuses to the winner of the 2011 Prakness Stakes. The bonus will be shared between the owner ($5 million) and the trainer ($500,000).

The bonus program allows both east and west coast based three-year-olds to qualify by having the preliminary races at Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields.

“The purpose of this grand prize is to provide a spectacular event for the fans and to create a potential life changing experience for the stakeholders of the racing industry,” Frank Stronach, Chairman of MID, said in a release. “These events represent the greatest hope for the renewal of the thoroughbred racing business in America. Our continued development of MID’s recently acquired assets should translate into improved results across MID Racing Properties’ asset base.”

To qualify for the bonus at Gullfstream Park, a horse must win either the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes or the Grade II Fountain of Youth, and then go on to win the Grade I Florida Derby on Sunday, April 3, 2011.

Gulfstream Park General Manager, Steve Calabro, announced the Florida Derby purse will increase from $750,000 to $1,000,000.

At Santa Anita Park, a horse must win either the Grade II Robert B. Lewis or the Grade II San Felipe, and then go on to win the Grade I Santa Anita Derby to be eligible for the bonus while at Golden Gates Fields, a horse must win the Grade III El Camino Real, which is scheduled to be run on February 12, 2011 and win the Santa Anita Derby to qualify for the bonus.

I believe this is truly an effort to improve the quality of racing during the Triple Crown season,” said Pimlico President Tom Chuckas. “The public will benefit from the incentives in this promotion.”


Romans hopes blinkers will spark breakout for First Dude

It’s hard to be disappointed in a horse who routinely hits the board against Grade I company. But, as trainer Dale Romans will attest, the bridesmaid routine is getting a little old where his charge First Dude is concerned.

Though First Dude has just a maiden win to his credit, the massive son of Stephen Got Even has come tantalizing close to earning the ultimate black-type on his resume having finished second in the Preakness Stakes, third in the Belmont, and third in the Haskell Invitational.

“I’m afraid to put him in a non-winners-of-two allowance and he loses at 1-9,” Romans joked at his barn Thursday morning as First Dude was led out for a walk. “As long as he’s competitive, I’m going to keep him in these races. We’re waiting for him to break through and win one of these babies.”

In an effort to ensure that winning effort comes this Saturday in the Grade I Travers, Romans has decided to outfit the front-running First Dude in blinkers with the hope that it will help him harness his speed over the 1 1/4-miles distance.

“We’re not putting a big cup on; it’s a half-cup,” Romans said of the blinkers. “Ramon (Dominguez, jockey) says it helps him focus on accelerating when he calls on him. It’s frustrating. We’re trying to think of things different. The blinkers took a lot of consideration before doing it.”

First Dude has breezed twice wearing his new equipment, but Romans pointed out “you can’t simulate racing conditions with these horses.”

A Little Warm installed as Travers favorite

Grade II winner A Little Warm was installed as the 7-to-2 favorite for Saturday’s Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga, headlining a field of 11 that were entered for the Mid-Summer Derby.

Trained by Tony Dutrow, A Little Warm was made the morning line pick after ahead of Haskell Invitational runner-up Trappe Shot (4-to-1) and Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver (6-to-1) after drawing post position five on Wednesday. The son Stormin Fever was regarded as one of the top sprinters earlier this year but has successfully stretched out of late, winning the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes over fellow Travers entrant Miner’s Reserve going 1 1/8-miles on July 31.

“I was a bit surprised A Little Warm was able to finish as well as he did going two turns, with such limited experience going two turns,” Dutrow said during a national teleconference on Tuesday. “He is a true two-turn horse. It took me a little too long to give him the opportunity of going two turns. It was the owner Ned Evans that wanted to do that in the Louisiana Derby. The horse has just been fantastic. I think he is a true two-turn horse.”

A Little Warm finished second in the Louisiana Derby, his first start beyond seven furlongs, and also went on to win a 1 1/16-miles allowance race at Delaware Park on June 29.

Trappe Shot, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, had been under consideration for either the Travers or the Grade I, seven-furlong King’s Bishop also on Saturday. On Wednesday morning, however, McLaughlin said the weight a Travers victory would carry and the depth of the King’s Bishop field swayed them toward the former.

“We feel like he can get the mile and a quarter, and not too often will you be second choice in the Travers,” McLaughlin said. “Both (the Travers and the King’s Bishop) are great races, we didn’t have to worry about shipping or getting our rider to go somewhere different – both races are here on the same day, so we just waited until the last minute to see everyone was going where they thought they were going.”

Trappe Shot will break from post position No. 2 in the Travers while Super Saver will leave from the outside post No. 11.

Super Saver enters the Travers off a fourth-place finish in the Haskell, where he was nosed out for third by First Dude.

“The interesting thing to me is, it looks like most of the speed has drawn inside,” said Todd Pletcher, trainer of Super Saver. “You’d expect First Dude, Miner’s Reserve and A Little Warm to be the main pacesetters. Admiral Alex showed speed in his first race and Trappe Shot obviously is a very tractable horse. It looks like your main speed is 1-2-3-4-5 and the other horses who have drawn the outside can kind of fall in there somewhere.

“Sometimes, the No. 11 might be a little further out than you’d ideally like, but I think at 1 ¼ miles it’s OK. You get a decent run to the first turn, so (jockey) Calvin (Borel) should have the option to kind of survey everything inside him.”

1. Miner’s Reserve 12-1

2. Trappe Shot 4-1

3. Admiral Alex 12-1

4. First Dude 8-1

5. A Little Warm 7-2

6. Ice Box 10-1

7. Afleet Express 6-1

8. Fly Down 8-1

9. Friend Or Foe 15-1

10. Afleet Again 30-1

11. Super Saver 6-1

Dam of Silver Charm euthanized

Bonnie’s Poker, dam of 1997 Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm and the inaugural resident of Michael Blowen’s Old Friends Thoroughbred retirement facility in Georgetown, was euthanized today at the age of 28 due to complications from EPM.

Though Bonnie’s Poker was a solid performer on the track, winning 11 times from 63 starts, she shot to stardom in the breeding shed when champion Silver Charm – her fifth foal – captured the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes before getting edged out of the Triple Crown by Touch Gold in the Belmont Stakes.

Silver Charm also went on to capture the 1998 Dubai World Cup and retired with earnings just shy of $7 million.

“Bonnie was doing very well until the last few week,” said Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends. “Then she started to develop some problems with rear end mobility. She was one of our big stars. She was proud and dignified until the very end.”

Owned by Bill and Kris Jakeman, Bonnie’s Poker was pensioned by the couple in 2003 after she suffered complications delivering a Fusaichi Pegasus colt. The daughter of Poker was donated to Old Friends in 2004.

Potomac fever case did not originate at Keeneland

Kentucky Department of Agriculture officials have concluded a recent case of Potomac Horse Fever — diagnosed in a horse at Keeneland’s training center on Rice Road — was not contracted or introduced to the horse while he was stabled on the grounds.

State veterinary officials were alerted on Friday when a horse that had been stabled at the facility tested positive for the disease, said Rusty Ford, equine programs manager in the Office of State Veterinarian Robert Stout.

“Our investigation found the horse developed a fever in the days following his arrival at the training facility from an area farm,” Ford said in the statement.  “With the fever not easily resolved the colt was moved to an equine hospital for veterinary care and diagnostics.  In consultation with the horse’s attending veterinarian and the internist caring for the horse at the hospital, we are confident that there is no evidence that leads us to believe that the horse contracted the disease causing agent in the less than five days he was at the training center.”

Potomac Horse Fever is caused by a type of bacteria — Neoriketssia risticie — and is associated with hot weather and aquatic insects.  It is a condition found in Kentucky during the hot summer months. Agriculture and veterinary officials have recently noted an increase in the number of PHF cases diagnosed in several eastern states, Ford said.

Against that backdrop, equine health officials have been monitoring potential cases in Kentucky, although at this juncture there does not appear to be an increased occurrence rate of the disease, Ford said.

Horses contract the disease after inadvertently consuming infected insects while grazing or eating feedstuffs. The disease is not transmitted from horse to horse, Ford said.  Symptoms associated with the disease include fever, diarrhea and laminitis.

Regretfully, Ford said, in this case the horse’s condition failed to improve and resulted in the decision to eliminate suffering through euthanasia.

A.P. Indy colt brings $1.2 million in Saratoga

It appears my colleagues attending the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale finally have a seven-figure horse to write about. A striking son of A.P. Indy out of the champion mare Maryfield got the sale’s second session started off on a strong note when he sold to Ben Leon’s Besilu Stables for $1.2 million.

Monday’s opening session proved disappointing as no horses reached the seven-figure mark and the overall gross fell by more than 47 percent compared to 2009. The notion that many of the catalog’s stronger horses were set to go through the ring on the second day came to fruition right off the bat as the handsome bay colt – the first horse through the ring – opened with a bid of $100,000 and clicked up from there.

Consigned by Meg Levy’s Bluewater Sales, the colt is the first foal out of Maryfield, the champion female sprinter of 2007. Maryfield was purchased by Mike Moreno’s Southern Equine Stables for $1.25 million at the 2007 Fasig-Tipton November mixed sale.

Pletcher: Super Saver still on track for Travers

Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, fourth behind champion Lookin At Lucky in the Grade I Haskell Invitational on Sunday, emerged from the race in good order and is still being pointed toward the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga on August 28.

The Haskell was the first start for WinStar Farm’s homebred since he finished eighth in the Preakness Stakes on May 15. The bay son of Maria’s Mon was moving side by side with Lookin At Lucky around the final turn but could not sustain his run and was nosed out by pacesetter First Dude for third.

“I thought it was a pretty good performance but he did get tired during the last part,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “We’re looking forward to the Travers.”

Eskendereya to enter stud at Taylor Made

Grade I winner Eskendereya, the expected favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby before being withdrawn due to injury the week of the race, will enter stud at Taylor Made Farm for the 2011 season. A fee has not yet been announced.

Campaigned by Ahmed Zayat, Eskendereya was retired the week after the Derby due to a soft tissue injury in his left front leg. Zayat sold a majority interest in the son of Giant’s Causeway to Jess Jackson but retained some breeding interests in the Wood Memorial winner for himself.

“The entire Taylor Made Team is extremely excited to partner with the Jacksons and the Stonestreet team for the opportunity to stand such a special horse,” Duncan Taylor, president of Taylor Made Stallions, said in a statement. “After witnessing Eskendereya’s incredible performances in the Wood Memorial and Fountain of Youth, we truly believe he is the most talented racehorse to go to stud in years. He possesses a rare blend of speed, stamina and pedigree that you rarely find in today’s thoroughbred.”

Out of the Seattle Slew mare Aldebaran Light, Eskendereya captured the Grade I Wood Memorial by 9 3/4 lengths this spring after previously winning the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes by 8 1/2 lengths. He retired with four wins from six starts and earnings of $725,700.

“Eskendereya was widely considered to be the best of his generation,” Jackson said. “He has the highest Beyer speed rating  (109) and best Rag number for a three year old colt. Eskenderya has a royal pedigree and beautiful conformation.”