Archive for February, 2011

Stronach steps up, creates Thoroughbred retirement program

Frank Stronach, chairman of MI Developments and owner of Adena Springs, announced today the formation of the Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred After-Care Program.

MI Developments Inc., the parent company of Gulfstream Park, said the After-Care Program will help match horses with loving owners who will make a lifelong commitment to their health, safety and well being.

Stronach said he will seed the After-Care Program by matching the money currently taken from purses (one-third of one percent) at Gulfstream and distributed to retirement programs by the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (FHBPA).

“This is not a solution to the problem, but we feel it is another step in the right direction,” Stronach said. “While we believe it is the responsibility of every owner to find safe, after-race programs for all thoroughbreds, we also believe in taking the initiative to develop retirement, rehabilitation and retraining programs for these equine athletes who give so much to all of us.”

Stronach set an industry precedent seven years ago by developing the first in-house retirement program, Adena Retirement. Under the direction of a full-time, in-house staff of professional trainers, riders, grooms and veterinarians, Adena Retirement carefully evaluates and retrains horses owned by the Stronach family and Adena Springs before matching them with owners who will provide suitable lifelong adoptive homes. Many of the horses retrained at Adena Retirement have flourished in other disciplines, including hunter, jumper, dressage and pleasure.

The Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred After-Care Program will be directed by a committee: Michael Rogers, Director & Vice President of Operations, Gulfstream Park; Tim Ritvo, VP of Racing, East Coast, MI Developments Inc; Stacie Clark, Adena Retirement; Dan Bork, Racing Secretary, Gulfstream Park; Nicola Kuzoff, Adena Retirement.

The committee will outline the board’s responsibilities and procedures in a constitution. There will be an application process for Florida Thoroughbred Charities with 501c status. Applications will be voted on by the committee and funds distributed accordingly.

“This program shows that Mr. Stronach is a strong supporter of these fine athletes after their careers on the track are over,” Ritvo said. “He still believes the owners are mainly responsible for their own horses, but he’s always willing to contribute toward the betterment of the horse industry.”

Keeneland catalogs 169 juveniles for April sale

A total of 169 juveniles have been cataloged for the 2011 Keeneland April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, scheduled for 4 p.m. on Monday, April 11. The total number of horses is fewer than the 181 that were cataloged for the 2010 auction.

A one-day preview show will be held Thursday, April 7, beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Keeneland’s main track.

The April Sale has produced such classic winners as Lookin At Lucky, Big Brown, Thunder Gulch, Keeper Hill and Gal in a Ruckus.

“We are very proud of the April Sale’s classic connections, particularly Lookin At Lucky, who is one of only five colts to be named champion at both two and three,” said Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell. “To have sold five classic winners from a sale which is still fairly young in stature speaks to the quality of the individuals we offer.”

Field favored in first Derby Future Wager pool

Mike Repole’s Uncle Mo, the unbeaten 2-year-old champion of 2010, is leading individual choice in the first of three betting pools in Churchill Downs’ 2011 Kentucky Derby Future Wager, but the mutuel field is expected to again be the bettors’ choice when the Feb. 18-20 pool completes its run early Sunday evening.

The mutuel field, which includes all 3-year-olds other than the 23 individual betting interests, was installed as the 5-to-2 morning line choice by oddsmaker Mike Battaglia with Uncle Mo the second choice at 9-to-2.

“Uncle Mo showed every sign of being something special during his perfect 2-year-old season,” Battaglia said. “Uncle Mo is a horse with real star power and has a good chance to close at odds lower than 9-to-2, but that makes this year’s Derby Future pool even more fun because the lower Uncle Mo’s odds go, the prices on other individual horses will rise and become more appealing.”

The mutuel field has been the favorite in each of the previous 12 years of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which was launched in 1999.

Graded stakes winners To Honor and Serve and Dialed In are the co-second choices among individual horses with each being rated at odds of 10-to-1.

Betting on the Future Wager Pool 1 opens at noon on Friday, February 18 and concludes at 6 p.m. on Sunday February 20. The Future Wager offers win and exacta betting and all bets are $2 wagers. There are no refunds made on a horse who does not make it to the Kentucky Derby but individual wagering will be suspended if a horse is knocked off the trail due to injury or illness.

Pool 2 mutuel payouts on Kentucky Derby day will be determined by the odds in place at the conclusion of betting at North American tracks, off-track betting facilities, and advanced deposit wagering outlets.

Two more Future Wager pools will be conducted prior to the running of the Kentucky Derby on May 7. Pool 2 is set for March 11-13 and the final pool will run from April 1-3.

KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURE WAGER

Pool 1, Feb. 18-21

Program # KDFW Pool 1 Wagering Interest Morning Line Odds
1 Anthony’s Cross 30-1
2 Astrology 30-1
3 Brethren 15-1
4 Clubhouse Ride 50-1
5 Comma to the Top (g) 20-1
6 Decisive Moment 50-1
7 Dialed In 10-1
8 Gourmet Dinner 30-1
9 Indian Winter 50-1
10 J P’s Gusto (r) 20-1
11 Jaycito 20-1
12 Machen 30-1
13 Mucho Macho Man 30-1
14 Rogue Romance 30-1
15 Santiva 30-1
16 Silver Medallion 20-1
17 Soldat 20-1
18 Stay Thirsty 30-1
19 Sweet Ducky 50-1
20 The Factor 20-1
21 Tiz Blessed 30-1
22 To Honor and Serve 10-1
23 Uncle Mo 9-2
24 Mutuel Field (All Other 3-Year-Olds) 5-2
(g) – gelding   (r) – ridgling
Morning Line Odds by Mike Battaglia

Keeneland tweaks format of 2011 September sale

In the wake of a successful 2010 exercise, Keeneland Association announced on Wednesday it was making several adjustments to the format of its 2011 September Yearling Sale.

Last season, Keeneland overhauled the format of the September auction by limiting the select session to 200 yearlings over two days and then cataloging its Book 2 horses to sell Tuesday through Friday. The results were ultimately positive as the sale posted across-the-board gains despite the depressed marketplace.

This year will see Book 1 remain unchanged, with the 200 horses selling Sunday and Monday during evening sessions that begin at 7 p.m. However, the Book 2 portion of the catalog will now consists of about 900 horses with about 300 yearlings selling Tuesday through Thursday in sessions that will begin at 11 a.m. The off day – which was moved to Saturday in 2010 –  is back to its usual spot on Friday. Selling will then resume with Book 3 on Saturday with sessions starting at 10 a.m.  for the remainder of the sale.

“The changes made to last September’s format were positively received, and largely met Keeneland’s goal to better serve the needs of our customers in today’s dynamic market,” said vice president of sales Walt Robertson. “These alterations reflect a ‘fine-tuning’ of that format in an effort to help consignors and buyers better navigate the first week, and to further encourage buyers to stay deeper into the sale.”

“We indicated last year that we would tweak the format based on feedback from our constituents,” added Keeneland’s director of Sales Geoffrey Russell. “We have worked extensively with them to craft these changes, which we believe will have a positive effect on the sale.”

Tapizar injured, off Derby trail

Graded stakes winner Tapizar has been taken off the Kentucky Derby trail after emerging from his fifth-place finish in Saturday’s Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes with a knee chip.

“We’ll do right by the horse, of course,” trainer Steve Asmussen told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Tuesday, “and hope that he can come back and prove what a great horse he is.”

Tapizar will be flown from California to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington where Dr. Larry Bramlage will perform the surgery. Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred colt came into the Robert B. Lewis as the heavy favorite following a dominating win in the Sham Stakes in January.

The son of Tapit was extremely worked up in the paddock before the Robert B. Lewis, however, and his fractious attitude spilled over onto the track. Tapizar was very rank on the front end, carving out an opening half of :45.64 before fading in the stretch.

Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed retired

WinStar Farm’s homebred Well Armed, winner of the 2009 Dubai World Cup, has officially been retired from racing after an attempted comeback from injury.

The 8-year-old gelded son of Tiznow had been in training with Eoin Harty but came up with a small amount of filling in a tendon following a half-mile workout on Jan. 20 at Hollywood Park. Although the ultrasound showed no tears, the decision was made to retire him.

“Well Armed has been training like a 3-year-old. He is the epitome of a racehorse and dearly loves his task,” said Harty. “He is a barn favorite and he will be dearly missed.”

Well Armed had not raced since finishing eighth in the 2009 Grade II San Diego Handicap. He emerged from that effort with an ankle chip.

Well Armed had overcome injury in the past, having undergone knee surgery in 2006 and fracturing his pelvis in a stall accident. The bay gelding was rehabbed from that injury by former WinStar Farm co-owner Bill Casner and returned to win the Grade I Goodwood Stakes as well as two other graded stakes in 2008.

His crowning achievement came in 2009 when he won the $6 million Dubai World Cup by a record 14-lengths. That margin of victory stands today as a record in the world’s richest race, and the runner-up – Gloria de Campeao – came back to win last year’s $10 million running of the race. He retires with a record of seven wins from 24 career starts and earnings of $5,179,803.

“Well Armed certainly occupies a special place in my heart,” said Casner, who campaigned the multiple Grade 1 winner under the WinStar colors. “He was a horse that had true grit. He chipped a knee and fractured a hip as a 3-year-old, yet he came back to win the richest race in the world by an unimaginable margin. He had the desire and will to overcome adversity.”

Well Armed will serve out his retirement at Casner’s ranch in Texas.

Toothaker, Eastham dissolve partnership

The Lexington-based bloodstock agency Legacy Bloodstock announced today that partners Mark Toothaker and Tommy Eastham are amicably dissolving their partnership, with Toothaker acquiring full ownership of Legacy Bloodstock and Eastham leaving to form EastWynd Sales Agency, which is also to be based in Lexington.

Toothaker will continue to operate Legacy as a sales consignment agency in conjunction with consultant Hal Wiggins. In founding EastWynd Sales Agency, Eastham will continue to focus on selling horses, both privately and at public auction.

Eastham founded Legacy Bloodstock in 2004, and in 2007 Toothaker became a partner.  The agency has ranked as high as No. 11 in the world by gross yearling sales, and in the last few years it has maintained a top-15 ranking among yearling consignors. Eventual stakes winners sold by Legacy include champion Stardom Bound and multiple Grade I winner Life at Ten.

“It was a fun ride from the start, and Tommy and I were fortunate to sell some tremendous horses,” said Toothaker. “Over the last two years, we’ve averaged 40 stakes horses a year in our consignments.  So our partnership has formed a very firm foundation for the Legacy brand.”

“I have enjoyed my partnership with Mark and the decision to leave Legacy has been a difficult one for me,” said Eastham. “Sales and marketing is what I’m best at and that will continue to be my focus. Mark and I will continue to serve our current clients, and we will always support each other’s endeavors.”

Borel to compete in Dubai Masters competition

Jockey Calvin Borel, who won an unprecedented third Kentucky Derby in four years while aboard Super Saver in 2010, will represent the United States in the Meydan Masters jockey competition in Dubai on February 17-18.

Borel will be competing against some of the best jockeys in the world, including Ryan Moore of Great Britain, Hiroyuki Uchida of Japan, Johnny Murtagh of Ireland and Italian-born Frankie Dettori.

“I’m very excited. This is unbelievable—a very big honor,” Borel said Tuesday from his current base at Oaklawn Park. “My agent (Jerry Hissam) and I work hard, and I’m very fortunate to be here in this position.”

Borel and his wife, Lisa, will be in Dubai from February 14-19 and will be treated to a variety of special events in conjunction with the Meydan Masters, a highlight of the ongoing Dubai International Racing Carnival. This will be their first trip to Dubai.

“They’ve sent me some information and pictures and it’s amazing,” said Borel.

The 45-year-old Louisiana native said he has fully recovered from the broken jaw he suffered in a fall when his mount bolted in the Grade III Delta Jackpot in November. Borel won the first race on Oaklawn’s opening program this year.

In 2009, Borel won a race in the World Super Jockeys series in Japan and finished fifth of 15 riders overall who had been selected to compete in that prestigious event.

Dubai Racing Club officials have invited 12 riders for the Meydan Masters, with most recognized for a memorable ride in 2010. Borel was chosen for his Derby victory on Super Saver, which followed his Derby win in 2009 on longshot Mine That Bird and another victory in 2007 on Street Sense.

Moore was selected for his wins on European champion Workforce in the Epsom Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Moore also rides international Group I winner Snow Fairy, who is being pointed toward a possible start in the Dubai World Cup, and he captured the 2010 International Jockeys’ Championship in Hong Kong in December and the World Super Jockeys event the preceding month in Japan.

Uchida, who recently was honored as the best jockey in Japan for 2010 and also was champion rider in 2009, was invited for his winning ride on Eishin Flash in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby).

Dettori, famous around the world as the rider of such Godolphin champions as Dubai Millennium, Fantastic Light and Sakhee, earned an invitation for his winning ride aboard the stable’s Mastery in the Hong Kong Vase, while Murtagh was chosen for his win on Cape Blanco in the Irish Derby. Both Mastery and Cape Blanco could run on the Dubai World Cup program.

Other jockeys invited for the Meydan Masters are:

· Olivier Peslier of France, the regular rider of international champion Goldikova who was invited for his record-breaking win on Harbinger in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes;

· Brazilian Tiago Pereira, who made history as the first jockey to win a $10-million race when he piloted Gloria de Campeao to victory in the 2010 Dubai World Cup;

· Frenchman Gerald Mosse, for his win on Americain in the Melbourne Cup;

· Maxime Guyon, rider of Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) winner Lope de Vega at age 21;

· Irishman Richard Hughes, who ventured from his base in Britain, where he rode top three-year-old Canford Cliffs, to win classic races in India last year; and

· British-based William Buick, who was invited for his win on Dar Re Mi in the 2010 Dubai Sheema Classic.

The jockeys will compete on horses assigned by random draw in two races on the February 17 program at Meydan and another two races on February 18, with the distances ranging from 1,600 meters (about one mile) to about 2,400 meters (1 ½ miles). Points will be awarded based on order of finish.

Cal Nation a good omen?

If UK fans are looking for a positive sign as the Cats seek to end their current two-game skid tonight against Tennessee, it couldn’t hurt to take a gander at the sparkling debut effort from WinStar Farm’s homebred colt Cal Nation this past weekend.

A son of Distorted Humor, Cal Nation is one of the most regally bred WinStar runners as he is a half brother to Grade I winner and WinStar stallion Bluegrass Cat, the runner-up in the 2006 Kentucky Derby. Bluegrass Cat and Cal Nation are both out of the A.P. Indy mare She’s a Winner, who is a full sister to Supercharger, the dam of WinStar’s 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.

Such top bloodlines demanded an equally high quality name for the bay colt – hence the nod to UK Coach John Calipari.

In his career debut on Feb. 5, Cal Nation took the first step toward living up to both his lofty breeding and namesake when he won by 7 3/4 lengths over a field of nine going seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park in 1:22 flat.

“We felt like he was just that kind of horse and he’s always been that kind of horse. That’s why we gave him that name,” said Elliott Walden, president and CEO of WinStar Farm. “We wanted to identify him with Kentucky just like we did with Bluegrass Cat. We wanted a special name and we wanted to kind of celebrate the University of Kentucky.”

Impressive as Cal Nation was in his first career start, Walden and trainer Todd Pletcher don’t have any Derby aspirations for him right now choosing instead to take their time with the talented youngster.

“We’re going to be a little conservative with him. I don’t think we’re going to get caught up in the Derby fever with him,” Walden said. “We’re going to probably just look to run him in four to five weeks and then take it from there. We want to get him really sharp before we decide to stick him in deep waters.”

WinStar does have a promising Derby candidate again this year in Brethren, who himself is a  half brother to Super Saver. Brethren is undefeated in two career starts and is slated to make his seasonal bow in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs this Saturday.

For those interested, here is the video replay of Cal Nation’s win on Saturday:

http://www.racereplays.com/winstarfarm/video.cfm?siteid=lwsf&raceid=tgp9020511a08&runnername=Cal%20Nation

WinStar to offer Fantasy Derby again

WinStar Farm, owner and breeder of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, will offer its popular Fantasy Derby contest again this season.

WinStar’s Fantasy Derby 2011 allows each fan to name his or her own Fantasy Stable, and then select horses in four separate categories. The first category is WinStar’s own Derby hopefuls. The second category is progeny from WinStar’s Stallions. The third and fourth categories let fans select from a broad menu of Derby nominees. Fans also get an “add-on” period in mid March where they can add three additional horses, such as late bloomers that they may have overlooked.

Entry into the contest is free but participants must pick their fantasy stable by Saturday, Feb. 12th at noon.

Elliott Walden, CEO of WinStar Farm, sees Fantasy Derby 2011 as another step in WinStar Farm’s broad desire to engage with more and more racing fans and thoroughbred enthusiasts: “This contest makes it really easy for fans to get interested in the Derby Prep races, and the horses who are certainly on the Derby watch lists.”

Winners will be determined by who has the most Fantasy Stable earnings through April 16, 2011 with prizes going to the top 10 finishers. First Prize is round-trip coach airfare for two from any major airport in the continental U.S.A. to Louisville, KY, plus lodging for three  nights (May 5-7, 2011), two  box seat tickets to the 2011 Kentucky Oaks on May 6, 2011, and two box seat tickets to Kentucky Derby (May 7, 2011). The winner also will receive a VIP tour of WinStar Farm on May 5, 2011. (Note: meals and ground transportation are not included.)

The other nine prizes feature such rewards as the chance to have a private tour of  WinStar Farm, the chance to name a WinStar horse, and the chance to win the halters of WinStar stallions Distorted Humor, Tiznow, and Super Saver as well as 2010 Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer.

Fans can register to play at http://Fans.WinStarFarm.com