Archive for September, 2011

Bluegrass Cat leaving could be “sounding across the bow” for Kentucky

Catherine Parke not only had an extremely successful Keeneland September yearling sale, but the small-time breeder and consignor is proving to be a bit prophetic.

Moments after she had sold a Bernardini colt for $625,000 – which came less than 24 hours after she sold another Bernardini for $1.2 million – Parke spoke to some members of the media about her ongoing concerns for Kentucky’s Thoroughbred industry in the wake of increased competition from states with slots-fueled purses and breeders incentive programs.

“What’s holding our industry together is simply our sire power here,” Parke said at the time. “If any of our stallions leave – the Bernardinis, the Medaglia d’Oros  and Tapits –  if they leave, our industry is in serious trouble.”

That top-notch trio isn’t going anywhere but Kentucky did lose a promising stallion today when it was announced Vinery and WinStar were partnering to send Bluegrass Cat to Vinery’s New York-based Super Maple Farm for the 2012 season.

With Aqueduct in line to get slots in the coming months, the excitement level for New York racing and breeding has been on the rise. The expected boost in purses has been pointed to by many participants as a driving force behind renewed interest in New York -breds and top stock in general as owners are going to want to  have horses capable of competing in those newly-rich races.

“I think the most positive sign we have right now in the American market is what New York is doing,” Taylor Made president Duncan Taylor said prior to the September sale.

WinStar Farm president and CEO Elliott Walden said Friday the deal to send Bluegrass Cat to New York came about as a direct result of the operation wanting to reap the benefits of that state’s program. Though Walden said WinStar had no current  plans to send any of its other Kentucky stallions  out of state, he warned more promising sires could be on the way out if Kentucky is forced to compete without the benefit of expanded gaming.

“I think it’s a big deal. I think the people in Kentucky and people in Frankfort need to wake up and see what’s happening,” Walden said when reached by phone on Friday. “You know, we’re committed to Kentucky but at the same time,  this is a product of what is happening in New York  and the product of the development they’re doing up there and I think it is not going to be the last horse to possibly leave. ”

WinStar currently stands 14 stallions including leading sires Tiznow and Distorted Humor.

Bluegrass Cat is not in the elite category yet, but the Grade I-winning son of Storm Cat has gotten off to a solid start in the breeding shed, ranking among the leading second-crop sires this season. The eight-year-old stallion has a regal pedigree – being out of the A.P. Indy mare She’s a Winner, a full sister to Supercharger, dam of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver –  and has already produced runners like graded stakes winner Kathmanblu.

Walden said WinStar is planning to send about 10 of its broodmares to New York to support Bluegrass Cat in 2012.

“As far as any other stallions we have in Kentucky leaving, no. But we wanted to put one horse up there and see what New York was all about,” Walden said. ” I think there is enough excitement and enthusiasm in New York it warranted diving into that market.”

“This could be a sounding across the bow for our leadership in Kentucky.”


Top racing not limited to Thoroughbreds this weekend

It has already been established Thoroughbred racing fans are in for a treat this weekend with 16 graded stakes races taking place across the country and some of Europe’s best stars going head-to-head on the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe card at Longchamp this Sunday.

Though its easy for the Standardbreds to get lost in the shuffle, harness racing aficionados can get an equally good fix this weekend with the Kentucky Futurity – the third leg of the Trotting Triple Crown – taking place at the Red Mile on Sunday.

The Futurity is always a fun and unique event to witness as it is contested in two $196,000  heats with a horse needing to win both heats in order to take the prize. If a different horse wins each heat, the two winners will meet up in a $98,000 race-off.

Not surprisingly, the Futurity has attracted a strong cast of 10 led by Hambletonian winner Broad Bahn. The son of Broadway Hall won the Hambo in gate-to-wire fashion and is attempting to rebound off a 1oth-place effort in the $1.02 million Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk Racetrack on September 17 where it was discovered he was suffering from an irregular heartbeat.

The bay colt, who is trained by Noel Daley and driven by George Brennan, has already successfully overcome one physical setback in his career. Broad Bahn appeared on his way to capturing last year’s Breeders Crown after a resounding
1:55.1 victory in his elimination. However, his connections discovered in the aftermath the colt had been racing with a fractured hind coffin bone and he subsequently missed the Breeders Crown final and the rest of his 2-year-old season.

“We might have raced him three times with that fracture,” Daley told the Meadowlands’ publicity staff prior to the Hambletonian. “It wasn’t showing up in X-rays and we thought we were dealing with a bad foot. The great thing about this horse is his real good attitude. He’s a real pleasure to have around. He’s quite full of himself – not nasty – he just enjoys what he does.  He’s just a big, steady horse in a year when there aren’t a lot of them.”
Board Bahn’s departure from the Breeders Crown final opened the door for Manofmanymissions to capture that race. Manofmanymissions is also among the entrants for Sunday’s Futurity.

Should Broad Bahn prevail on Sunday, it would allow Brennan to become the first driver since Ron Pierce eight seasons ago to win the Kentucky Futurity in back-to-back years. Brennan won last year with Wishing Stone, the first non-Hambletonian winner of the Futurity since Strong Yankee in 2005.

“It looks like all systems are go and hopefully he gets back on track,” Brennan told the United States Trotting Association publicity staff. “I expect him to bounce right back off of this. Most horses do.”


Bluegrass Cat to Vinery New York for 2012

Vinery Ltd.  announced Friday it has partnered with WinStar Farm to stand promising sire Bluegrass Cat at its New York operation in Sugar Maple Farm in 2012. The son of Storm Cat will stand as a Vinery/WinStar venture.


“We identified Bluegrass Cat as a top stallion and approached WinStar with the idea of partnering. We wanted to give the New York Breeders another reason to stay home, and have the type of stallion that Kentucky breeders will follow,” Tom Ludt, president of Vinery Ltd, said in a release. “At only eight years old, Bluegrass Cat has it all; race record, looks and one of the best pedigrees in the stud book. Already at stud, he has several current graded stakes runners, big books and a lot of foals in the pipeline. So we feel like everything is in place for him to be the leading sire in New York for many years to come.”


Bluegrass Cat is among the top 10 leading second-crop sires and has sired top 3-year-olds such as multiple graded stakes-winning filly Kathmanblu and Blue Laser. Bluegrass Cat  has eight juvenile winners from his second crop including a pair of colts who were third and fourth in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga with Big Blue Nation and Laurie’s Rocket, respectively.


“We’re ready to make a big splash in New York. It’s a market we’ve looked at with great interest for some time now because of the unlimited potential,” said Elliott Walden, WinStar president and CEO. “Going into New York with a top-caliber stallion like Bluegrass Cat, and partnering with an established forerunner in New York like Vinery, fit the bill for us. WinStar has been fortunate to have enjoyed success in venture stallions such as Tiznow and Speightstown, and we’re looking forward to continued success with Vinery. WinStar plans on breeding as many mares to him in New York as we did in Kentucky.”


As a racehorse, Bluegrass Cat was a graded stakes winner as a juvenile and went on to run second in both  the 2006 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. His biggest win came when he captured the Grade I Haskell Invitational by a record margin of seven lengths. He retired with earnings of $1,761,280.


Bluegrass Cat is out of the A.P. Indy mare She’s A Winner, who is a full sister to the dam of Super Saver and hails from the immediate family of Private Account, Mutakddim and Not For Love.


A 2012 stud fee for Bluegrass Cat will be announced at a later date.


Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide to greet honorees

 Sackatoga Stable’s Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby, will return to the site of his greatest triumph when he travels to Churchill Downs on Saturday, Oct. 1 to greet living recipients of the United States’ Medal of Honor and other guests as part of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention underway this week in Louisville, Ky.
        Funny Cide, who is now 11 years old and resides at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., will be in Churchill Downs paddock as Medal of Honor recipients and guests arrive for a noon (all times Eastern) luncheon and other activities at the historic home of the Kentucky Derby.  He is scheduled to travel Churchill Downs by van  from the Kentucky Horse Park Saturday morning, and will walk from the stable area to the paddock around 11:15 a.m..  Funny Cide will be available to pose for pictures with Medal of Honor recipients while in the paddock.
        Saturday’s Congressional Medal of Honor Convention gathering at Churchill Downs is a ticketed event and is not open to the general public.
        “This is really wonderful,” said Jack Knowlton, the managing partner of Sackatoga Stable via telephone from Saratoga Springs.  “We are honored to have Funny Cide be part of this special day that honors America’s greatest heroes.  The Medal of Honor is our country’s highest military honor and its distinguished recipients displayed incredible bravery, character and compassion in the most difficult of situations.    In our sport and industry, there is no greater achievement than winning the Kentucky Derby, one of the world’s great sports events, and we hope Funny Cide’s presence as one of only 137 horses that have won this historic race will make the visit to Churchill Downs by the Medal of Honor recipients even more memorable and special.”
        Funny Cide followed his Kentucky Derby victory with an emphatic 9 ¾-length victory in the Preakness but fell short in his Triple Crown bid when he finished third to Empire Maker in the Belmont Stakes.  The first gelding to win the Kentucky Derby since 1929, the New York-bred son of Distorted Humor was named champion 3-year-old male of 2003.  He raced four more seasons and completed his career with a win in the Wadsworth Memorial Handicap at New York’s Finger Lakes on July 7, 2007.
        Bred by WinStar Farm and trained by Barclay Tagg, Funny Cide raced 38 times in his career with a record of 11-6-8 and earnings of $3,529,412.  He moved to the Kentucky Horse Park in December, 2008 after a brief career as a stable pony for Tagg’s New York-based stable.

Claiborne raises War Front’s fee to $60,000

Bolstered by the efforts of his  Grade I-winning offspring The Factor and Summer Soiree this season, Claiborne Farm announced their stallion War Front will stand for an advertised fee of $60,000 in 2012.

The bay son of Danzig stood for $15,000 in 2011 and $10,000 in 2010 but is currently the No.2 second-crop sire behind only Bernardini with 42 winners from 73 starters this year through Thursday, including seven stakes winners.

In addition to The Factor, who won the Grade I  Pat o’ Brien Stakes, and Summer Soiree, winner of the Grade I  Del Mar Oaks, War Front also had a Kentucky Derby starter in Soldat. Soldat won the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes earlier this spring but is currently sidelined.

Champion Blame, winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, will remain at $35,000 for 2012. Blame’s sire Arch will stand for $30,000, the same fee he commanded this year, and Pulpit will also hold steady at $50,000, equal to his fee in 2011.

“We are committed to setting realistic stud fees and to capping the number of mares bred,” said Claiborne’s Bernie Sams.

Claiborne’s 2012 stud fees are as follows:
Arch    $30,000
Blame    $35,000
Eddington    $5,000
First Samurai    $15,000
Flatter     TBA
Horse Greeley     $5,000
Parading    $3,500
Pulpit    $50,000
Stroll    $5,000
War Front    $60,000

Keeneland tightens catalog for November sale

Keeneland has cataloged 3,919 horses for its 11-day November Breeding Stock Sale, to be held November 7-17, down from the 4,695  the auction cataloged for the 2010 exercise.


The November Sale, the largest auction of its kind in the world, will feature the dispersals of the estates of Edward P. (Ned) Evans’ Spring Hill Farm, consigned by Lane’s End, agent, and Prince Saud bin Khaled’s Palides Investments N.V. Inc., consigned by Chanteclair Farm, agent.


“We have a quality November catalog with strong global appeal,” said Keeneland vice president of sales Walt Robertson. “As always, we will offer a number of top-class race mares and a number of prized broodmares, as well as weanlings by some of the most sought-after sires in the world.”


Of the 3,919 horses cataloged, 1,991broodmares or broodmare prospects, 1,518 weanlings, 398 horses of racing age, five stallions and seven stallion shares will be offered.


“The catalog has been reduced in number this year, which is a positive development,” Robertson said. “Breeders have done an excellent job of decreasing the number of noncommercial mares being bred, which concentrates the overall quality of the sale and strengthens the Thoroughbred industry as a whole.”


Catalogs for the November Sale will be available on Keeneland’s website,, beginning Tuesday, October 4.  Print catalogs will be mailed the week of October 17.

Sunday could be Golden for Wertheimers

You pretty much need an abacus of titanic proportions to keep track of all the graded stakes races set to take place this weekend as it seems like virtually every top horse in training  – save for Frankel – who is not battling illness or injury will be in a starting gate either Saturday or Sunday.

While we have the ultimate loaded plate in the states with the likes of Havre de Grace and Blind Luck running in their respective races Saturday, the single best card of the weekend might be Longchamp’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe line up and undercard on Sunday – which has the potential to produce a piece of history.

Among the seven Group I races taking place on Arc day is the Prix de la Foret, featuring champion and three-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Goldikova as she aims for her 15th Grade/Group I victory. Even if Goldikova triumphs as many expect,  there is a chance her own blood could overshadow her as her 3-year-old half sister Galikova is expected to be among the starters in the $5.7 million Arc.

Should both siblings triumph,  Gerard and Alan Wertheimer – who own and bred both horses – will not only have two of the best runners in the world bearing their colors, but they will  likely have the runway favorite for European’s Broodmare of the Year honors in Born Gold.

A homebred herself, Born Gold is the dam of both Goldikova and Galikova and has produced  four graded stakes winners total from 12 foals to race. Sunday gives the 20-year-old Blushing Groom mare the possible distinction of having two of her offspring win Grade/Group I races on the same day – an accomplishment that would put her in a rare category to say the least.

Such a feat has been done at least once before, according to the Jockey Club registry department, that by Live Oak Stud’s Sultry Sun, dam of Grade I winners Solar Splendor and Sultry Song. On September 19, 1992 Solar Splendor captured the Grade I  Man o’ War Stakes  while  Sultry Song took the Grade I Woodward Stakes, both at Belmont. The two had also previously won graded stakes on the same day with Sultry Song triumphing in the Grade II Jamaica Handicap at Belmont on October 1, 1991 and Solar Splendor taking the Grade I Turf Classic Invitational  on the same card.

Regardless what transpires Sunday, Born Gold boasts an impeccable produce record as Galikova already joined her big sister as a Group I winner when she captured the Prix Vermeille.  That Born Gold has become such a prolific broodmare has merely been a matter of her living up to her own bloodlines, being out of the Group I winning mare Riviere d’ Or and being a full sister to Group I winner Gold Splash.

According to Jockey Club statistics, Born Gold foaled a colt by top stallion Galileo this April named Goldeo and produced a full brother to Goldikova by the late Anabaa named Anodin  last Feburary. It is fitting such a regally-bred individual would produce an all-time great in Goldikova. It is also mind blowing to think Born Gold’s already magnificent career might reach an all-time peak this weekend.

Fire and Ice out for year with fracture

Promising 2-year-old colt Fire On Ice suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture in his left hind leg and will be out the rest of the year, trainer and co-owner John Kimmel said Thursday.


A gray son of Unbridled’s Song, Fire On Ice won his debut on August 27 at Saratoga Race Course by 10 ¾ lengths, running six furlongs in 1:09.67. He was being pointed toward the Grade I Champagne Stakes on October 8 at Belmont.


“He worked beautifully yesterday (a bullet five furlongs in 59.94 on the Belmont main track). He wouldn’t have blown a match out when he came back,” Kimmel said. “We took the bandages off this morning and (discovered the fracture).”


Fire On Ice will be shipped to Florida and operated on Monday at the Ocala Equine Hospital by Dr. John Madison. He will convalesce at Adena Springs South in Williston, Fla. Adena owner Frank Stronach recently purchased a majority interest in the colt.


“It’s straightforward medicine and surgery, and we’ll bring him back as a 3-year-old,” Kimmel said.

Blind Luck works for Lady’s Secret; Ladies’ Classic still main target

Champion filly Blind Luck had her final major move in advance of her expected start in Saturday’s Grade I Lady’s Secret at Santa Anita, covering four furlongs in :47.60 at Hollywood Park Tuesday.

A six-time Grade I winner, Blind Luck will be making her first start since defeating fellow Grade I winner and rival Havre de Grace in the Grade II Delaware Handicap on July 16. The 11-week break between races is one of the longest layoffs the daughter of Pollard’s Vision has had in her hard-knocking career but trainer and co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer said the time off was done with the four-year-0ld filly’s long-term interest in mind.

“We’re looking to run her next year if we can and we think that’s a possibility,” Hollendorfer said during a national teleconference on Tuesday. “That’s one of the reasons we’ve been trying to make long-range plans instead of short-range and that’s why we gave her a break this summer.

“She’s worked really good today and galloped out real strong. I think she’s on edge and we’re looking for her to run a good race.”

Though they won’t be renewing their rivalry this weekend, Havre de Grace will also be in the entry box this Saturday as she is slated to start in the Grade I Beldame at Belmont. Although Blind Luck has finished ahead of Havre de Grace in four of their six meetings, Havre de Grace has gained an edge over her smaller challenger in the Horse of the Year race in the wake of her dominating win over males in the Grade I Woodward earlier this month.

Trainer Larry Jones reiterated on Tuesday that pending a win in the Beldame, Havre de Grace will likely take on males again in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. Despite the prestige and surefire year-end honors that would come should Blind Luck enter and win the Classic herself, Hollendorfer maintains the Ladies’ Classic the day earlier has been and still is the ultimate goal for the diminutive star distaffer.

“In my opinion, we’re not considering the Classic,” Hollendorfer said. “If something were to persuade me to change my mind, I would change my mind but right now I’m focused on the Ladies’ Classic. But I don’t want to look beyond this race this Saturday. We need to get that done first before we start talking about any other races.”


Sales participants uncertain if medication rules will impact marketplace

One of the biggest hot button topics within the Thoroughbred industry is the proposed ban on race day medication – specifically the use of the anti-bleeder medication Lasix – that is set to go into effect in juvenile stakes races in 2012 and in all Breeders’ Cup events in 2013.

While the Lasix issue in particular is arguably the most divisive talking point currently in the sport, it is unclear whether the potential new measures will have any impact on one the industry’s backbones – the breeding and sales arena.

Because the overwhelming majority of horses currently competing in the United States  run on Lasix, the notion of  not breeding to stallions who may have been bleeders could be an  impossible one to follow through on as few will ever know which horses really needed Lasix and which ones could have performed without it.

Though Europe – which does not allow race-day medication – routinely produces some of the best runners in the world,  American breeders have not exactly jumped on the chance to snatch up offspring by top overseas stallions like Coolomore Stud’s Galileo. Through the first five days of the Keeneland September yearling sales, the leading sires by average are domestic stallions Awesome Again, A.P. Indy, War Front, Street Cry and Bernardini.

“I think the impact (of no Lasix) has got to be viewed in a long term sense,” agent Lincoln Collins said during the September sale this week. “I’m 100 percent in favor of no medication at all. And I think that banning the medication in graded stakes and hopefully the Breeders’ Cup  is a step in the right direction.  But I don’t think anyone knows at this point which horses are more prone to produce bleeders and which aren’t because most horses are medicated.

“Those chips will have to fall where they may over the term because we  aren’t going to know right away. But, to me, it can only be a good thing if Lasix goes.”

Though several trainers and agents say the proposed medication rules won’t change the way they buy a horse, some are openly worried that in taking away Lasix, the sport could be hindering the abilities of horses who could potentially become top performers and future sires.

“I think it’s the most stupid, stupid thing anyone has ever even considered,” agent Ben Glass said of the proposed Lasix ban. “We have an inexpensive drug that will take care of our horses’ pulmonary hemorages and why anybody would want to take that away from us. I trained when we didn’t have Lasix and I was training when we got Lasix and it was a God send to trainers. I could run a horse back in two weeks where if they bled, I was lucky to get them back in two months. If they take away Lasix and all these horses start bleeding and they end up with five and six horse fields, they’re not going to like it.”

“(With the new rules) you’re just going to have to hope that horse is not a bleeder,” Glass continued. “But if that horse gives it 110 precent on a 97 degree day at Calder…what do you think it’s going to do without Lasix?”

Among those who are best prepared to handle the transition in the U.S. away from medication will likely be international outfits like Coolmore, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Darley operation and Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Farm.

“I don’t really think (it will have an impact on the sales), but  I think anything we do toward eliminating drugs espeicially on the Grade I races will be a positive,” said Rick Nichols, general manager of Shadwell. “I think we’ve just gotten so used to having to use (Lasix) that when everybody else in the race is using something, everybody feels they have to use it to be on an equal playing field. A lot of the horses don’t need all that stuff and I think it will be a poisitive move for American racing and our American horses in general.”

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