Archive for November, 2011

Ramseys win first John Deere Award as outstanding breeders

Bolstered by homebred Stephanie’s Kitten, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, Ken and Sarah Ramsey are the first recipients of the John Deere Award as outstanding breeders of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Challenge series and the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.


The John Deere Award, presented by Breeders’ Cup Limited and NTRA Advantage, emphasizes the contribution of breeders to the Breeders’ Cup program. The industry’s breeders fund the purses for the World Championships through annual nominations of foals and stallions.


The John Deere Award winner was awarded to the breeder who received the highest number of points based upon graded/group first-place finishes in the 68 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races and the 15 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races held this year.  In an extremely close competition, the Ramseys finished with 22 points, just two points ahead of five breeders all with 20 points each: Gregg Anderson, Adena Springs, Grapestock LLC, Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings and Whisper Hill Farm.


The Ramseys earned their 22 points from victories by the 2-year-old filly Stephanie’s Kitten, who captured the Grade I Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf  at Churchill Downs; and from a triumph by the 5-year-old Holiday for Kitten in the Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland.


Kitten’s Joy sired both Stephanie’s Kitten and Holiday for Kitten. Stephanie’s Kitten is out of the Catienus mare Unfold the Rose and Holiday for Kitten is out of the Cure the Blues mare Blue Holiday.


“On behalf of myself, my wife Sarah Kathern, our four children—Scott, Jill Jeffrey and Kelly—and all our valued employees, we’re thrilled and honored to receive this award from John Deere,” said Ken Ramsey, whose farm is based in Nicholasville.  “We’ve been blessed to breed such a wonderful animal as Kitten’s Joy and to stand him here on our farm.  We’re all so proud of him, along with our one other stallion Catienus.  We think Kitten’s Joy will be the next great international stallion.


“When Stephanie’s Kitten won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf—with all my family there—knowing we had bred her stallion, bred her mare, and bred the two together, I would say the emotion was higher than when we won the Dubai World Cup with Roses in May.”


NTRA Advantage and John Deere will provide a John Deere TS Gator Utility Vehicle to the Ramseys.

“We were delighted with the extremely competitive results for the inaugural year of the John Deere Award and congratulate the Ramseys on their outstanding success,” said Carter Carnegie, Breeders’ Cup Senior Vice President. “Over the years, John Deere has been a great partner with the Breeders’ Cup and their expanded role in teaming with NTRA Advantage to create this new award has proven to be is a great way to recognize and promote the essential importance of our breeders to the Breeders’ Cup program.”

The John Deere Award point system was based on wins in Challenge/Championships stakes races for U.S and Canadian Grades events and International Group events:


Grade/Group   I                      10

Grade/Group    II                     6

Grade/Group   III                     4

Ungraded                                  2       



The five breeders finishing in a second place tie with 20 points each were:

Adena Springs –Bourbon Bay – Cougar II Hcp. (gr. III); Celtic New Year, Del Mar Hcp. (gr. II) and Game on Dude, Goodwood Hcp.  (gr. I)

Gregg Anderson – Amazombie – Ancient Title Hcp. (gr. I) and Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I)

Grapestock LLC – Regally Ready – Nearctic Stakes (gr. I) and Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. I)

Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings – My Miss Aurelia – Frizette Stakes (gr. I) and Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I)

Whisper Hill Farm -Tizway – Metropolitan Hcp. (gr. I) and Whitney Hcp. (gr. I)



Keeneland catalogs 1,594 for January sale

 Keeneland has cataloged 1,594 horses for its 2012 January Horses of All Ages Sale, scheduled for January 9-12. The number is down from the 1,827 lots that were cataloged for the 2011 auction.


Catalogs will be available online at www.keeneland.combeginning Tuesday, December 6.  Print catalogs will be mailed the week of December 19.

“The January Sale appeals to buyers of all interests and market levels,” said Walt Robertson, Vice President of Sales. “As evidenced by our graduates, it offers exciting opportunities with regard to short yearlings and horses of racing age, and a strong selection of stakes-winning race fillies and broodmares in foal to some of the world’s most fashionable sires.”


Comprising the 1,594 lots cataloged for the four-day sale are 721 broodmares and broodmare prospects, 587 yearlings, 265 horses of racing age, 20 stallions or stallion prospects, and one share in Lemon Drop Kid.


Keeneland will offer broodmares in foal to 186 sires, among them leading stallions Arch, Awesome Again, Bernardini, Blame, Candy Ride, Colonel John, Congrats, Curlin, Elusive Quality, Eskendereya, Ghostzapper, Giant’s Causeway, Hard Spun, Harlan’s Holiday, Henrythenavigator, Indian Charlie, Invincible Spirit, Lemon Drop Kid, Lookin At Lucky, Medaglia d’Oro, More Than Ready, Pulpit, Quality Road, Raven’s Pass, Scat Daddy, Smart Strike, Speightstown, Stormy Atlantic, Street Cry, Street Sense, Summer Bird, Super Saver, Tapit, Tiznow, Unbridled’s Song, War Front, Warrior’s Reward and Zensational.


Also cataloged are yearlings representing 176 stallions, including top sires Arch, Awesome Again, Bernardini, Broken Vow, Candy Ride, Colonel John, Curlin, Duke of Marmalade, Elusive Quality, Giant’s Causeway, Hard Spun, Harlan’s Holiday, Henrythenavigator, Indian Charlie, Kitten’s Joy, Malibu Moon, More Than Ready, Mr. Greeley, Pulpit, Scat Daddy, Smart Strike, Speightstown, Street Cry, Street Sense, Tapit, Tiznow, Unbridled’s Song and Zensational.

Hanrahan new CEO of National HBPA

The Board of Directors of the  National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA) announced on Tuesday  its unanimous selection of attorney and retired Army Brigadier  General Phil Hanrahan as its new chief executive officer effective December 19, 2011.


Hanrahan earned his bachelor’s degree with cum laude honors from  Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He also graduated magna cum laude from Washington and Lee Law School in 1986. Hanrahan spent almost seven years on active duty in the Army as an armor officer between his bachelor’s degree and law school. After law school, he moved  to Lexington, Kentucky and began practicing law, where he has specialized in  bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, and equine law for the last 25 years.


Hanrahan grew up working on a horse farm on Long Island, where he  learned to ride in exchange for mucking stalls. It was here that he met Hall of  Fame trainer Allen Jerkins and spent part of a summer – after attending paratrooper school – walking “hots” at Belmont for the trainer. For a time, Hanrahan was a licensed Thoroughbred trainer. He has also owned, bred, and pinhooked racehorses. He is currently a handicapper and  occasional tournament player.


“Phil  brings a full array of proven leadership skills to the National HBPA as a result of  his vast military experiences,” said National HBPA President and Chairman Joe Santanna. “His quarter-century of practicing law adds legal and professional negotiation, litigation, and public speaking skills. When we coupled those with his hands-on experiences in every facet of the Thoroughbred  horse racing industry, we knew we had the right person. We are looking forward to Phil Hanrahan serving as the CEO of the National HBPA.”

Turfway Park Holiday meet set to begin

Live Thoroughbred racing returns to Turfway Park this Thursday, Dec. 1, the start of the Holiday Meet and the beginning of the track’s winter racing season.


Highlighting the Holiday Meet are five $50,000 stakes:


  • Holiday Inaugural, 6 furlongs for fillies and mares 3 years old and up, Dec. 3
  • My Charmer, 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares 3 years old and up, Dec. 10
  • Prairie Bayou, 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds and up, Dec. 17
  • Gowell, 6 furlongs for 2-year-old fillies, Dec. 23
  • Holiday Cheer, 6 furlongs for 3-year-olds and up, Dec. 31


The Holiday Inaugural Stakes closed last Thursday with 42 nominations.  Nominations for the My Charmer Stakes will close this Thursday, Dec. 1.


Live racing runs Thursday through Sunday each week with two exceptions.  Turfway is closed Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 24 and 25, and then will be open every day the following week for its traditional holiday schedule, including Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 26-28.


Post time is 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and 1:10 p.m. on Sunday, again with holiday exceptions: post time from Monday, Dec. 26, through Friday, Dec. 30, will be 1:10 p.m.  Post time remains at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31, when Turfway hosts its second annual New Year’s Eve Track Bash.


Turfway stakes proved wildly successful this year as eventual Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen prepped at the Florence, Kentucky track.  Animal Kingdom won the Grade III Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes  in his final start prior to the Kentucky Derby while undefeated Hansen romped to a 13 1/4 length win in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Stakes on September 24 before defeating Union Rags in the Juvenile.

Hall of Famer Sheppard could finally have a Derby horse on his hands

From today’s Churchill Downs barn notes:
Those who watched the impressive 3 ¼-length debut victory by  Ever So Lucky at Churchill Downs on Nov. 11 might have been surprised to learn the Indian Charlie colt  is trained by Jonathan Sheppard.
 Sheppard, who last year became the first trainer to saddle 1,000 steeplechase winners in the United States, is not known for having precocious juveniles in his barn, but finds himself with one of the Fall Meet’s most-discussed horses the colt owned by George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable. The $600,000 sales topper at Fasig-Tipton’s Mid-Atlantic Selected 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale at Maryland’s Timonium, Ever So Lucky was installed  as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill.
“I was absolutely delighted with his first race,” Sheppard said. “He broke a step slowly and (jockey Julien) Leparoux asked him to move up and it seemed like he took the lead in just a few jumps. He was under pressure on the lead and when Julien asked him to run, he responded and won with a lot left. He ran like an old pro.”
 Ever So Lucky’s flashy debut so impressed his connections that they paid $7,500 to make him a supplemental nominee to the Kentucky Jockey Club.
“It was a mutual decision between myself and Mr. Strawbridge,” Sheppard said. “We were trying to decide what to do with him and we decided to give him a second race at the track he was at and seems to like. This also gives him a race going two turns and sets him up nicely to get a breather and then get him ready for the big 3-year-old races next spring.”
One of those “big 3-year-old races” Sheppard was referring to is the Kentucky Derby.  Sheppard, who will turn 71 on Dec. 2, has never saddled a starter in the Run for the Roses.
“I’m not going to push them and make them do something they’re not ready for,” Sheppard said. “We usually stick to the theory that you can have a good young horse or a good older horse, but you can’t have both. However, I think he (Ever So Lucky) has the disposition to be a good horse next year. He has a very good mind and is a really nice horse. I don’t want to jinx myself though because you really never know.”
Ever So Lucky will break from the rail post in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Some would be nervous about a 2-year-old breaking the inside gate, but Sheppard does not see the post as an issue for Ever So Lucky.
“The rail is not a bad spot if you have a horse with some speed,” Sheppard said. “I think Leparoux will be able to get him out of there fine.”

Trappe Shot retired to Claiborne

Trappe Shot, winner of this year’s Grade II True North Handicap, has been retired from racing and will enter stud in 2012 at Claiborne Farm and command an advertised fee of $10,000.  The 4-year-old son of leading sire Tapit raced for Mill House and retires with six wins, two seconds, and earnings of $703,884.

Bred by Hobeau Farm, Trappe Shot set an auction record in Maryland when he was purchased for $850,000 as a 2-year-old in training by Steve Young, agent.  The colt broke his maiden at Gulfstream the following February by an impressive 10 1/4 lengths.  He followed that race with consecutive allowance wins, winning by 12 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream and by 4 lengths at Belmont.

His most impressive victory came this year in the True North, where he earned a 111 Beyer Figure and went the six furlongs in 1:08 4/5.

“Trappe Shot is a star of a horse to be around,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “His race in the Vanderbilt earned him the best Ragozin number  (-1 1/2) of any horse I’ve ever been associated with.  It was just bad luck he didn’t get a Grade I win. I believe he has everything it takes to make a very successful stallion.”

By Tapit, Trappe Shot is out of the Private Account mare Shopping.  She has produced three other stakes winners, including Grade Iwinner Miss Shop.

Wise Dan on a mission in Clark Handicap

This likely won’t make it into the paper but here is a little feature on graded stakes winner Wise Dan and his quest to “avenge” his half brother Successful Dan from last year:


Wise Dan has been nothing if not the dutiful younger sibling this year.

With his graded stakes winning-half brother Successful Dan sidelined for 2011 with suspensory injury, Wise Dan has made sure their trainer Charlie Lopresti didn’t endure much of a drop off as he himself has notched a pair of Grade II victories this season.

When he goes into the starting gate for Friday’s Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, the Wiseman’s Ferry gelding will try to take up another mantle for his family and his conditioner.

The 2010 edition of the $500,000 Clark Handicap saw Successful Dan cross the wire first, but also saw Lopresti leave the track fuming after his charge was disqualified and placed third behind Giant Oak, who was awarded the win, due to interference in the stretch.

Dealing with such lows is a part of life in racing. While Lopresti has put last year’s win-turned-stinging defeat behind him, he won’t deny there would be no more perfect time for Wise Dan to earn his first career Grade I victory than in the 1 1/8-miles Clark.

“I try to forget about last year. It’s water under the bridge, that’s how those guys (the stewards) saw it and I wouldn’t want to have to make that decision,” Lopresti said. “Either way they went, they were going to get somebody aggravated. But that’s the way they saw it, I respect their opinion.

“I know I had the best horse in the race, there is no doubt about that. Hopefully little brother will run just as well but hopefully he won’t get into any kind of trouble.”

Wise Dan is certainly in deep waters in the Clark with the likes of Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice, Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Flat Out, and multiple graded stakes winner Prayer for Relief among the 13 entrants. Still, Wise Dan has rarely looked as good as he has in the last six months.

After beginning the season with three straight losses, the four-year-old chestnut gelding won the Grade II Firecracker Handicap this July at Churchill Downs in his first start on the turf  and followed that up with a victory in the Presque Isle Mile. A start in the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland yielded a respectable fourth-place finish but Wise Dan came back to close out that meet with a four-length win in the Grade II Fayette Stakes – his first win at 1 1/8-miles.

“I tell you right now he’s as good as I’ve ever had him,” Lopresti said. “We trained him yesterday (Tuesday), we galloped him two miles and he could have went around there three more  times. I think he’s doing really good, I couldn’t ask him to be any better.”

Owned and bred by Morton Fink, Wise Dan has won seven of 13 career starts including the Grade III, six-furlong Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland last October. Even though Wise Dan appeared to stretch out with issue in the Fayette, Lopresti isn’t ready to say he is now unconcerned about his charge’s ability to handle the distance on Friday. Sustaining his kick on the Polytrack surface at Keeneland is one thing. Doing it on the Churchill main track could be another.

“You worry about the distance on the dirt,” said Lopresti, who added that Successful Dan is back in light training at his farm and should be expected back at the races this coming Spring.  “Distance on the synthetic might be a little different than distance on the dirt but we don’t think the distance is a problem. We’ll just see how he handles it on the dirt. Now if he can get 1 1/8-miles on the dirt like he did on the synthetic then we got a pretty good handicap horse for next year.”


Fabulous Strike joins Old Friends roster

Fabulous Strike, winner of the 2007 Vosburgh Stakes, has been permanently pensioned at Old FriendsThoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, KY.

The 8-year-old Pennsylvania bred was retired from racing in September and was donated to Old Friends by his owner and breeder, Walter Downey and his Tea Party Stable.
In addition to the Vosburgh, Fabulous Strikes earned victories include the Grade I Aristides Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2007 and the Grade II Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. in 2009. In all, the gelded son of Smart Strike captured 15 of his 28 starts and had total career earnings of $1, 448, 399.
After suffering an injury in 2009, Fabulous Strike was sidelined for 18 months during which he underwent stem cell therapy at Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. He made a return to the track this past April when he went wire-to-wire for long-time trainer Todd M. Beattie to capture a 6-furlong allowance race at Penn National Race Course.
“We are so happy to add Fabulous Strike to our family of retirees,” said Old Friends president and founder, Michael Blowen. “We are honored that Walter Downey has entrusted us with his champ.”
Blowen added that Fabulous Strike marks the third Vosburgh winner to retire with Old Friends. He joins 2002 winner Bonapaw and 1998 winner Affirmed Success. “We know Fabulous Strike has many devoted fans,” Blowen continued, “and we can’t wait for them to come out and visit him here at the farm.”
“I’m a small time breeder and he was a once in a lifetime horse for me,” said Downey.  “After his last start he came back a bit sore, not at all lame, but in the same breath the trainer and I decided it was time to just let him be a horse.”


Flat Out to break from post No. 6 in Clark Handicap

Grade I winner Flat Out will have an ideal starting point as he takes aim at possible divisional honors in Friday’s Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, drawing post six in a deep field of 13 who were entered for the Grade I, 1 1/8-miles test on Tuesday.

In the wake of Drosselmeyer’s upset win in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, championship honors are still up grabs in the case of Horse of the Year as well as  older male and 3-year-old male divisions. With a victory in the Clark, Flat Out could become a leading contender for either of the first two categories as the 5-year-old son of Flatter previously triumphed in the Grade II Suburban and Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup this season.

Though he is based at Churchill Downs, Flat Out is winless in three career starts over the Louisville track the most recent being a fifth-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Trained by Scooter Dickey and owned by Preston Stables, Flat Out will carry a highweight of 123 pounds in the $500,000 Clark.

Overlooked by many since his surprising win in the Belmont Stakes, Ruler On Ice could put himself in strong running for an Eclipse Award should the 3-year-old gelding topple his older rivals in the Clark. The son of Roman Ruler has not won in four starts since his Belmont win but has also not been worse that fourth during that time and is coming off a third-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

With a victory in the Clark, Ruler On Ice would join Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Caleb’s Posse as the only sophomore males to earn two Grade I victories this year.

Ruler On Ice drew the rail for the Clark while fellow 3-year-old Prayer for Relief will break from post No. 12.

Full entries for the Clark courtesy of  Equibase are as follows:


PP Horse Virtual
A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer
1 Ruler On Ice (KY) 3/G LA G K Gomez 118 K J Breen
2 Alma d’Oro (KY) 5/H LA J L Castanon 115 T A Pletcher
3 Demarcation (KY) 7/G L C J Lanerie 114 P J McGee
4 Stately Victor (KY) 4/C LA V Lebron 115 M J Maker
5 Mission Impazible (KY) 4/C LA J Castellano 116 T A Pletcher
6 Flat Out (FL) 5/H LA A O Solis 123 C L Dickey
7 Pleasant Prince (FL) 4/C L J A Garcia 114 W A Ward
8 Headache (KY) 5/G LA E S Prado 115 M J Maker
9 Mister Marti Gras (KY) 4/G LA R Maragh 117 C M Block
10 Will’s Wildcat (KY) 3/G LA C H Borel 112 J E Baker
11 Wise Dan (KY) 4/G L J R Velazquez 120 C Lopresti
12 Prayer for Relief (KY) 3/C LA R Bejarano 117 B Baffert
13 General Quarters (KY) 5/H L J K Court 116 T R McCarthy


Trainer Bob Holthus dead at age 77

 Veteran trainer Bob Holthus, a regular on racing circuits in Kentucky, Arkansas and the Midwest for nearly 60 years, died Tuesday morning in Louisville, Ky. at the age of 77.
Ever the hands-on horseman, Holthus was preparing to head to Churchill Downs to oversee his horses’ morning training when he was stricken by an apparent heart attack.  He died a short time later at a local hospital.  Holthus is survived by his wife, Bonnie; sons Paul and David; and a daughter, Debbie.
A local memorial service for Holthus has been scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 26 at 10:30 a.m. (EST) at Christ Chapel on the Churchill Downs backside.  An additional memorial service will be scheduled later in Hot Springs, Ark.
 “This is a very sad day for all members of the Churchill Downs and Kentucky Derby families as we have lost a revered figure and a true friend in Robert Holthus,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs.  “His talents as a horseman are easily appreciated by a look at wins and earnings that serve as the bottom line for a remarkable career, but Bob was also a true gentleman to everyone who crossed his path.  He has meant so much to fellow horsemen, fans who have watched his horses compete here for more than a half-century and to members of our Churchill Downs team.  Our hearts and prayers are with the Holthus family and Bob’s many friends during this time of great loss.”
His career, which began at Nebraska’s Columbus racetrack in 1952, started well before the launch of official record-keeping for American Thoroughbred racing.  But Holthus saddled documented winners of 2,824 races, which ranks 28th on the sport’s all-time win list, and compiled earnings of $46,085,877.  He had at least 146 stakes wins, with 27 of those in graded stakes events.
 Career highlights included a pair of victories in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park with Proper Reality and future champion Lawyer Ron (2006), both of whom were among his five career starters in (1988) and  the Kentucky Derby.  Proper Reality finished fourth to Winning Colors in his  Derby outing while Lawyer Ron finished 12th behind Barbaro.


Proper Reality went on to win the Grade I Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park and the Grade I Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park.  Lawyer Ron’s wins in the spring of his 3-year-old season for Holthus also included the Southwest and Grade III Rebel Stakes.

Another outstanding horse in his career was Pure Clan, a stakes winner on both turf and dirt.  Her wins on the grass included the Grade I Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park and the Grade I American Oaks at Hollywood Park.  Two of Pure Clan’s stakes victories came on the dirt at Churchill Downs in the 2007 Grade II Golden Rod and Grade III Pocahontas  and she also won the Grade II Regret for 3-year-old fillies on turf the following year.
        Holthus never won a training title at Churchill Downs, but won 211 races locally and had six documented top five finishes in “leading trainer” races.  They included:
  • Third place finishes in the Spring Meet in 1974 (9 wins) and ’75 (10 wins);
  • A fourth-place finish in the 2005 Spring Meet (14 wins); and
  • Fifth-place finishes in the 2006 Fall Meet (six wins), 1997 Spring (11 wins) and 1995 Spring (nine wins).
His earned his last victory at Churchill Downs with Dance Caller on Nov. 18, 2010.
The native of Table Rock, Neb. was the son of a trainer and is the all-time win leader at Oaklawn Park. Holthus earned nine “leading trainer” titles the Arkansas track and his Oaklawn exploits earned Holthus enshrinement in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.  He also won training titles at Arlington Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Louisiana Downs, Detroit Race Course, and Kentucky’s Ellis Park and Turfway Park.


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