Archive for February, 2012

Smarty Jones stakes winner Junebugred off Derby trail

Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Smarty Jones Stakes winner Junebugred has a bone chip in his ankle and will need arthroscopic surgery to have it removed, taking him off the Triple Crown trail.

“It’s tiny, little and brand new but it’s going to knock him out for about 90 days,” said trainer Steve Hobby Wednesday morning, one day after discovering considerable filling in the colt’s left front ankle. “The good news is there’s no damage to the joint or anything like that, so the prognosis is good.”

Junebugred exits a division of the Grade III Southwest Stakes  on Feb. 20 where he finished sixth behind Castaway. The son of Corinthian won the Smarty Jones in January in what was only his third career start.

Hobby had been at a loss to explain the disappointment in the Southwest, but says this development made it clear.

“I’m surprised it took a week to show up,” he said.

The colt will ship Thursday to Rood & Riddle Equine Center in Lexington for the surgery and recover at Diamond A Farm.

“It’s disappointing, but maybe we’ll end up counting our blessings,” said Hobby. “He’s a small horse, and who knows what rushing and forcing him into something like (the Triple Crown) might do. In this case, we will let him get better and find the best spots for him when we get him back.”

Hansen to break from post No. 12 in Grade III Gotham Stakes

Reigning  juvenile champion Hansen, who suffered his first career loss when he was defeated in the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes, gets a shot at restoring some of his lost luster this Saturday when he headlines a field of 13 in the Grade III, $400,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.

The front-running son of Tapit will break from post position No. 12 in the field but has a huge class advantage as the only graded stakes winner in the bunch. Deemed the 6-to-5 morning line favorite, Hansen will run without blinkers in the 1 1/16-miles Gotham after he stumbled and was very keen early on in the Holy Bull, where he was ultimately beaten five lengths by Algorithms.

“I feel like he was extra sharp in the Holy Bull,” said Hansen’s jockey, Ramon Dominguez. “In talking after the race with (trainer) Mike Maker, he said he wasn’t really surprised how fresh the horse was. He said all along, although he would have liked to win that race, it wasn’t the ultimate goal. I’m pretty optimistic that with that race under him, he will be a little more settled.”

The Holy Bull marked the first time Hansen had run since his stirring victory over Union Rags in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs on November 5. That Breeders’ Cup triumph capped a 3-for-3 campaign for the gray stunner last season as he went on to earn the 2011 Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old male.

Stakes winner My Adonis closed from 20 lengths back to finish third behind Hansen in the Holy Bull and was made the 5-to-1 choice in the morning line for the Gotham.


The field for the Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham:







1 My Adonis (KY) E Trujillo 120 K J Breen  5-1
2 Stealcase (KY) L Contreras 116 M E Casse 12-1
3 Finnegans Wake (KY) K J Desormeaux 116 D L Romans 20-1
4 Pretension (NY) J Santiago 116 C W Grove 20-1
5 Maan (KY) R Maragh 116 E Kenneally 15-1
6 Dan and Sheila (KY) J R Velazquez 116 T A Pletcher  8-1
7 Suns Out Guns Out (KY) I Ortiz, Jr. 116 D L Romans 30-1
8 Raconteur (KY) C H Velasquez 120 T A Pletcher 15-1
9 King and Crusader (MD) M J Luzzi 116 R E Dutrow, Jr. 15-1
10 Side Road (KY) A Garcia 116 K P McLaughlin 12-1
11 Done Talking (KY) D Cohen 116 H A Smith 20-1
12 Hansen (KY) R A Dominguez 123 M J Maker  6-5
13 Tiger Walk (KY) E Castro 116 I Correas, IV 12-1


Purses soar for upcoming Belmont, Saratoga race meetings

Note: With the push for expanded gambling once again stalled in this state, expect news like this to further draw Kentucky horsemen out of the Bluegrass in search of a return on their equine investment.


The surge in popularity of New York racing program figures to continue as purses for both the 56-day Belmont Stakes spring meet and the 40-day Saratoga meet will see hefty increases this year,  New York Racing Association announced  Wednesday.


Stakes purses for the Belmont meeting will increase approximately $1.9 million, or 26.6 percent, to $9.05 million in 2012, while stakes purses for the boutique Saratoga meet will jump $2.85 million, or 27 percent, to $13.35 million this season. Purses for overnight races – overnight stakes, allowance, claiming, and maiden special weights – will increase approximately $8.7 million during the Belmont spring meet and approximately $7.7 million during the Saratoga meet.


Average daily purses, including stakes and overnight races, will go from approximately $430,000 to $620,000 (44 percent increase) for the 2012 Belmont spring meet and from approximately $670,000 to $930,000 (39 percent increase) for the 2012 Saratoga meet.


“The purse increases for overnight and stakes races for the upcoming Belmont Park and Saratoga meets confirm NYRA’s leadership position in thoroughbred racing,” said NYRA Vice President and Director of Racing P. J. Campo. “The enhanced purses should result in larger field sizes, stimulate additional wagering activity, and increase profitability for NYRA.”


The New York racing circuit has been aided in recent months by the revenue brought in by casino gambling at its Aqueduct facility.


The Belmont Spring/Summer meet runs from April 27-July 15 while the Saratoga meet runs from July 20-September 3.


NYRA purse increases are also creating a demand for New York-breds in the marketplace, which is sparking a renaissance in the state’s breeding industry. Breeders from out of state are once again sending their mares to New York, quality stallions have moved to the state, and several large commercial breeding farms have reopened. Purse increases also translate into bigger incentive awards from the New York Thoroughbred Breeding & Development Fund for individual breeders.


The centerpiece of the 2012 Belmont spring meet falls on Saturday, June 9 with the 144th running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes, the third jewel of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. Also on Belmont Stakes Day are the Grade I, $500,000 Manhattan Handicap, the Grade I, $500,000 Just a Game, the Grade II, $400,000 Woody Stephens, and the Grade II, $400,000 True North Handicap.


One of the most notable stakes purse increases for the Belmont spring meet is for the Grade I Metropolitan Mile Handicap, which will be run on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28 with a $750,000 purse, up $250,000 from last year. Additional stakes on Met Mile Day include the Grade I, $400,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap and the Grade 2, $200,000 Sands Point.


Also, the Grade I, $300,000 Acorn will be run on Met Mile Day for the first time, allowing for optimal spacing between it and the Grade I, $300,000 Mother Goose on June 23.


The final Grade I of the Belmont spring meet will be the $600,000 Man o’ War on Saturday, July 14.


The 2012 Saratoga meet will be highlighted by the 143rd running of the Grade I, $1 million Travers Stakes on Saturday, August 25. Four of the largest specific-race purse increases during the Saratoga meet occur during Travers weekend. The Grade I Ballerina, usually run on Travers Day, will now be run on Friday, August 24 with a $500,000 purse, up $250,000 from last year.


On Travers Day, 3-year-old sprinters will be competing for larger purses, with the Grade I King’s Bishop and the Grade I Test both being run for $500,000 pots, up $250,000 from last year.


Closing out Travers weekend will be the Grade I Personal Ensign on Sunday, August 25. With a $600,000 purse, up $300,000 from last year, the Personal Ensign is now one of the premier older filly and mare dirt races in the country.


The Grade I, $750,000 Whitney Handicap is the centerpiece of the two-day Fasig-Tipton Festival of Racing, scheduled for August 4 and 5 and also including the Grade I, $300,000 Prioress and the Grade I, $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap.


The Test had been previously run on Whitney Day, and now the Prioress has been moved from the Belmont spring meet to take the Test’s place alongside the Whitney. The Grade III, $150,000 Victory Ride, previously run on Travers Day, has been moved to the Belmont Spring meet – Saturday, July 7.


The Grade II Fourstardave, previously run at 1 1/16 miles with a $150,000 purse, will be run at a mile on Saturday, August 11, with a $500,000 purse.


In addition to the aforementioned Grade I races during the Saratoga meet are the following: $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks on Saturday, July 21, $600,000 Diana on Saturday, July 28, $600,000 Alabama on Saturday, August 18, $600,000 Sword Dancer on Saturday, August 18, $150,000 New York Turf Writer’s Cup Steeplechase on Thursday, August 23, $750,000 Woodward on Saturday, September 1, $500,000 Forego on Saturday, September 1, and $300,000 Spinaway on Sunday, September 2.

“All Others” favored in Pool 2 of Kentucky Derby Future Wager

A dominant performance by  Union Rags in last weekend’s Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes has made the son of Dixie Union a strong individual choice in this week’s second three-day pool of Churchill Downs’ 2012 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”), but the  “All Others” wagering interest  remains a narrow morning line among the 24 betting entities.
Wagering on KDFW Pool 2 opens at noon (all times Eastern) on Friday, March 2 and the mutuel field, which includes all 3-year-old Thoroughbreds other than the 23 individual horses in the pool, has been installed by Churchill Downs’ oddsmaker Mike Battaglia as the 3-1 morning line favorite.  Union Rags, the 7-1 individual fan favorite in the Feb. 10-12 opening pool of the Derby Future bet, is a close 4-1 second choice in Battaglia’s odds. Among those 23 individual 3-year-olds are the five wagering interests trained by Bob Baffert including Bodemeister (#3 at 15-1); Castaway, winner of the first division of Oaklawn’s Southwest Stakes (#4, 20-1); Fed Biz (#9, 12-1); CashCall Futurity winner Liaison (#13, 50-1) and Secret Circle (#21, 15-1), the winner of the second division of the Southwest and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint.   The Todd Pletchertrained El Padrino (#7), winner of the Risen Star (GII), is the co-third choice in Pool 2 at 12-1.
Wagering in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager at racetracks, off-track betting centers and and other online platforms is scheduled to close on Sunday, March 4 at 6 p.m.  The companion Kentucky Oaks Future Wager will open with the Derby bet at noon on Friday, but that wager will close on Sunday at 6:30 p.m., 30 minutes later than the Derby Wager.
The Kentucky Derby Future Wager, now in its 14th year, got off to a quick start with record single-pool wagering of $631,304 in its Feb. 10-12 opening pool.  The total included $494,263 in win betting and $137,041 in exactas.  The three-day total eclipsed the $620,362 wagered during the four-day opening pool of 2005, the year in which the KDFW three-pool betting record of $1,665,990 was set.  There was no KDFW exacta betting in 2005.
The Kentucky Derby Future Wager annually offers fans opportunities to bet on candidates for the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby well in advance of the renewal of Churchill Downs’  1 ¼-mile classic for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds.  Future Wager bettors will receive odds that are in place at Sunday’s conclusion of wagering, and those odds could turn out to be significantly higher and more attractive than those available on the same horses on Kentucky Derby Day.  The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby is set for Saturday, May 5 at Churchill Downs.
 Bets in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which offers win and exacta bets, are $2 minimum wagers, with $1 exacta boxes and wheels also available.   There are no refunds on any wager placed during a KDFW pool. KDFW Pool 2 wagering interests were chosen by a committee that includes Ed DeRosa, marketing director for Brisnet; Brad Free and Mike Watchmaker of Daily Racing Form; and Churchill Downs’ John Asher.
Final Pool 2 odds, exacta payouts, and other information on Kentucky Derby Future Wager are available at the Kentucky Derby’s official event Web site at

March 2-4
# Wagering Interest Morning Line Odds Friday,

March 2

March 3
FINAL ODDS $2 Wil1 Pay
1 Alpha 20-1        
2 Battle Hardened 50-1        
3 Bodemeister* 15-1        
4 Castaway* 20-1        
5 Creative Cause 20-1        
6 Dullahan 50-1        
7 El Padrino 12-1        
8 Empire Way 50-1        
9 Fed Biz 12-1        
10 Gemologist 20-1        
11 Hansen 15-1        
12 Ill Have Another 30-1        
13 Liaison 50-1        
14 Mark Valeski* 30-1        
15 Midnight Transfer 30-1        
16 News Pending* 30-1        
17 Out of Bounds 20-1        
18 Rousing Sermon 30-1        
19 Sabercat 30-1        
20 Scatman* 20-1        
21 Secret Circle* 15-1        
22 Take Charge Indy 30-1        
23 Union Rags 4-1        
24 All Other 3YOs 3-1        
Morning Line Odds by Mike Battaglia
*new wagering interest in KDFW Pool 2

Holy Bull Stakes winner Algorithms off Triple Crown trail

Starlight Racing’s Algorithms, who defeated champion Hansen in the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes on January 29, has been declared off the Triple Crown trail with a fractured splint bone in his right front leg, it was announced Tuesday.

This past Sunday, the son of Bernardini had to be scratched out of the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes -where he was the 8-to-5 morning line favorite –  when it was discovered he had popped a splint in his right front. Follow up x-rays taken Tuesday morning revealed the  fractured splint would have to be surgically removed, thus ending his connections’ hopes for a Triple Crown run.

Algorithms will be shipped to Ocala Equine Hospital tomorrow where Dr. John Madison will perform surgery.

“We are hoping that he only requires a minimal amount of time off, but he is definitely not going to make the Triple Crown,” trainer Todd Pletcher said in a statement

Added Jack Wolf, one of the principles of Starlight Racing, “It’s very disappointing he will have to miss the spring classics but we look forward to having him back in the late summer or early fall. This really is the best long term option for Algorithms.”

Unbeaten in three career starts, Algorithms stamped himself as a leading Kentucky Derby contender when he bested champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen by five lengths in the Holy Bull. The one-mile Holy Bull was his first try against stakes company.

The loss of Algorithms is also a blow to his jockey Javier Castellano. Castellano was the regular rider for both Algorithms and Grade I winner Union Rags but opted to give up the mount on the latter in order to stick with the Pletcher-trainee for the Fountain of Youth.

Union Rags, with new rider Julien Leparoux in the irons, rolled to an easy four-length win in the Fountain of Youth to cement his status as the current divisional leader. However, Castellano also rides El Padrino for Pletcher and guided that one to victory in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds this past Saturday.

Pimlico Special returning to stakes lineup

The Maryland Racing Commission approved the 2012 Pimlico Race Course racing days and spring stakes schedule at its monthly meeting this afternoon. The headline event of the eight-week meeting is the 137thrunning of the $1 million Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, on May 19.

The marquee meet of the Maryland racing season will feature 22 stakes races for purses of $3.425 million, an increase of $525,000. Preakness weekend features 16 stakes races for $3 million.

The Preakness undercard features seven other stakes races, including four graded races. The purse for the Grade II Dixie Stakes  has been increased from $200,000 to $300,000 and the Grade III Gallorette Handicap  goes from $100,000 to $150,000.

The May 18 card features eight stakes races, six for fillies and mares, highlighted by the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for three-year-old fillies. The purse for the Black-Eyed Susan was increased to $300,000. The Preakness eve card also includes the return of the historic Grade III, $300,000 Pimlico Special , which has run just once since 2007. The Special replaces the William Donald Schaefer Stakes in the stakes lineup.

The Pimlico Special was last run in 2008 when it was won by Student Council. It has been captured by such past champions as Mineshaft (2003) and Invasor (2006).

“Having a strong stakes schedule at Pimlico is important,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. “The return of the Special combined with the purse increases for the Black-Eyed Susan, Dixie and six other stakes races over Preakness weekend improves our profile. We are working hard to make the other races desirable to the horsemen and bettors. Increased purses will hopefully lead to larger fields and more wagering.”

One other modification is that the name of the Federico Tesio Stakes has been changed to Canonero II, after the 1971 Preakness winner.

The Pimlico spring stand will begin March 30 with live racing taking place four days a week on a Thursday through Sunday schedule (with holiday exceptions). The 29-day meet will end with the Preakness day card.

Pimlico Spring Meeting Live Racing Schedule

March 30-31-April 1

April 5-6-7 (dark Easter)

April 12-13-14-15

April 19-20-21-22

April 26-27-28-29

May 3-4-5-6

May 10-11-12-13

May 17-18-19

First post for 26 of the 29 days of the meeting will be 1:10 p.m. Eastern with adjustments on Preakness (10:45 a.m.), Black-Eyed Susan (12:15 p.m.) and Kentucky Derby (May 5, 12:45 p.m.) days.

The Pimlico stable area will be open for training from March 12 through June 1.

The current Laurel Park winter meeting will conclude its 12-week run on Saturday, March 24.

Q&A with John Ward

On Monday, Governor Steve Beshear announced he would appoint veteran Thoroughbred trainer John T. Ward as the new executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Ward, who along with his wife Donna operate John T. Ward Stables in Paris, Ky., as well as training and racing operations in New York and Florida, will assume his new role April 1. He succeeds Lisa E. Underwood who resigned in November 2011 to return to private law practice.

Ward, who counts 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos and champion Beautiful Pleasure among his top horses, took time out Monday to discuss with the Herald-Leader his new position, what it means for his training operation, and what some of the more immediate obstacles are he will have to face.


Q: Why did this position appeal to you and why did you feel this was something you wanted to take on?

A: “Well as far as training horses goes, my record speaks for itself. As far as my industry involvement goes, I’ve always been very pro active inside our industry to protect it and to try and make it better. This particular scenario became available and the question was, do I take a pause from training racehorses and give back for a little bit? I can always pick up training race horses again but this scenario won’t come up. I feel it’s very important to our industry over the next couple of years that we don’t make any mistakes. That’s essentially it. That’s been my frame of mind. Governor Beshear decided he wanted to give something back to the state and I decided I wanted to give something back to my state and my industry.”


Q: Does this mean you’re gong to be turning all your horses over?

A: “It means I will effectively give up my trainer’s license in Kentucky. That’s the only place I have interference. But my wife will take over the duties of training and I’ll be looking over the shoulder because this is a 9-to-5 job, five days a week. I’m  not going to walk away from the industry and what we do. We’ve got some nice horses we want to finish out and whether they race in Kentucky or race other places, that will be strictly a side light. But as far as a conflict of interest goes, in the state of Kentucky, I will give up my license as a licensed trainer. And if there are other problems, the ethics commission will have to look at that.

“But it’s very difficult in our industry in America and especially Kentucky to have anybody who doesn’t have a conflict to have any knowledge about the industry. And so what we have to be careful of is not to hit on this conflict of interest thing really hard because if we did, we wouldn’t have anybody sitting on any boards in anywhere in the industry. We’d have maybe a bunch of people who maybe know nothing about racing running the show.”


Q: Do you have to give up your license in New York and Florida?

A: “I would think I would retain the licenses. And I would think it would  not be used but you don’t want to go through the hullabalo of getting relicensed in these places.


Q: What is the biggest issue the commission needs to tackle in the coming months?

A: “This commission which I’ve sat on has done a lot of work. I think the things that need to be done in the future, we have to make sure we have a healthy racing circuit. We’ve got to do things to increase our purses, increase our betting handle and become user friendly as a racing state. And not do things that drive people away. I think we just have to adjust quickly to the changes that are happening in racing.  I think that’s what I bring to the table is an awareness of what the problems are probably before they happen and an extremely good relationship with all sides of the industry in Kentucky and in the country.”


Q: One of the biggest issues right now is race day medication, specifically Lasix and you were among  the ones that opposed the ban. Where do you think Kentucky needs to stand on that matter?

A: “I’ve moved from the voting side of the regulatory body to the advisor side of the regulatory body and my main purpose – and this is what I have done through most of my involvements in all these committees as a trainer – is I try to bring reality to the table of what happens every day, day in and day out in the trenches. And a lot of time there is a misconception about what actually happens in racing and what is perceived to happen in racing and so what I want to be able to do is add a great educational process to the people who are going to make the decisions and vote. I want them fully informed of both sides of the issue and then I feel however they vote then that’s the way the people want it. But  a lot of times, I see some of the members of our boards, our racing commissions and our national boards, being not as well informed when they make a vote on a critical decision as they should be.”

Early look at the Derby Watch

The first series in our annual Derby Watch will not appear in print until this Saturday, March 3. Given what a huge weekend of racing we just witnessed and the implications it has on the Derby trail going forward, however, I’m offering up an early peak at our rankings for this week as well as some Monday morning quarterbacking of what went down the past couple of days. With the way things go in this business, these rankings may change again by Friday afternoon….

Even though he lost the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by a head and the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old male to Hansen by 142 votes, there seemed to be a general consensus Union Rags was ultimately going to win out as the most fearsome 3-year-old on the Kentucky Derby trail.

While many of his classmates have already been tripped up by rust, immaturity, or injury this year, Union Rags used Sunday’s Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes to validate those who believe the son of Dixie Union has the kind of transcendent talent needed to become a true classic contender.

Superlatives were flowing from the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle this weekend after a tour-de-force, four-length triumph by Union Rags over six others in his seasonal bow. Unlike champion Hansen and fellow Grade I winner Creative Cause who both suffered losses in their first starts of 2012, a less than fully-cranked Union Rags was still effortlessly better than his competition Sunday leaving one to wonder how scary good the bay colt will be when trainer Michael Matz really starts pushing his buttons.

While it’s true Union Rags lost his biggest challenger when Holy Bull Stakes winner Algorithms popped a splint and had to scratch out of the race Sunday morning, last year’s Grade I Champagne Stakes winner did everything one could have asked of him in his first start since November.

Jockey Julien Leparoux – who picked up the mount when Javier Castellano opted to stay with Algorithms – barely moved on the colt after sitting off a leisurely :48.11 half set by Discreet Dancer as Union Rags advanced under his own volition. The way he strided out in the lane was ridiculously smooth and – unlike his antics in the stretch of the Breeders’ Cup – he maintain a straight course throughout.

“We were just out for a practice run. Can you believe that one?,” owner and breeder Phyllis Wyeth said of her colt after the race.

Just as Union Rags’s triumph doesn’t equal a coronation, the losses by Hansen and Creative Cause in their sophomore debuts shouldn’t prompt a mass abandonment of their bandwagons. Each had legitimate excuses contributing to their defeats and should they move forward next time out, their early bobbles will be forgiven.

Kudos to Union Rags, however, for living up to his early hype. He may have lost in the ballot box but he is pulling out to a hefty early lead in this latest race.

The Derby Dozen

1. Union Rags – The comparisons between him and Matz’s 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro are inevitable and he will try and follow the same course as his predecessor by pointing to the Grade I Florida Derby on March 31. By far the most impressive sophomore male thus far.
2. El Padrino – Salvaged a disappointing weekend for trainer Todd Pletcher when he showed he a) had serious guts and b) could win over fast track by outfighting Mark Valeski to take the Grade II Risen Star at Fair Grounds. His running style and pedigree should relish longer distances and he picked up $180,000 in graded earnings Saturday. The $1 million Louisiana Derby on April 1 could be next.
3. Alpha – Covered four furlongs in :49.71 at Palm Meadows Training Center on February 25 in preparation for his expected start in the Grade I Wood Memorial on April 7. Son of Bernardini was ultra impressive in winning the Grade III Withers but there is some concern  the worst race of his life (11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) came over the Churchill Downs track.
4. Gemologist – Has yet to start in 2012 and thus, has sort of become the forgotten horse in Pletcher’s lineup. Son of Tiznow is working steadily toward his seasonal debut including a bullet five furlong breeze in 1:00.92 at Palm Meadows on February 26.
5. Fed Biz – Son of Giant’s Causeway looked like the definition of raw talent when he cruised to an allowance win at Santa Anita Park on February 9. Didn’t really switch leads until he was nearing the wire and will likely get his first test against stakes company in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 10.
6. Creative Cause – The good news was the seven furlong San Vicente was likely too short for the Grade I winner and his style. The bad news is he really wasn’t threatening 1-2 finishers Drill and American Act in the stretch. Trainer Mike Harrington has another promising 3-year-old in Empire Way so keeping those two apart will be a happy problem.
7. Hansen – Has his chance to redeem himself after the Holy Bull when he starts this Saturday in the Grade III Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. Doesn’t look like he will face the toughest bunch on paper so this should be an ideal spot to get his mojo back. If he loses this one, however, even a legit excuse may not restore his luster.
8. Out of Bounds – Son of Discreet Cat worked seven furlongs in 1:25.60 at Hollywood Park on Monday as he readies for his expected start in the Grade II San Felipe at Santa Anita Park on March 10. One of the big questions surrounding offspring of Discreet Cat is how far they want to go and Discreet Dancer’s third-place run in the 1 1/16-miles Fountain of Youth didn’t do much to dispel those concerns.
9. I’ll Have Another – Winner of the Grade II Robert B. Lewis drilled four furlongs in :48.60 at Hollywood Park on February 23 with the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 7 as his next target. “He is very reserved but when you ask him to do something he is very active,” trainer Doug O’Neill said about the colt. “He’s just got the perfect personality for a big time race horse.”
10. Mark Valeski – Stunned even his connections with his second-place finish in the Grade II Risen Star where he was beaten just a nose by El Padrino. Son of Proud Citizen was making his stakes debut and trying two turns for the first time so who knows how good he might get with more experience.
11. Motor City – Grade III winner worked five furlongs in 1.01:88 at Palm Meadows Training Center on February 23. That breeze was the fifth timed move for the Street Sense gelding since returning to the work tab in late January but trainer Ian Wilkes is still debating where his potential Kentucky Derby contender might make his 3-year-old debut.
12. Secret Circle – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner put himself in the Derby picture when he took a division of the one-mile, Grade III Southwest Stakes on February 20.

Algorithms out of Fountain of Youth after popping a splint

Starlight Racing’s Algorithms, the 8-to-5 morning-line favorite in today’s Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, has been scratched from the race due to a popped splint in his right front leg.

“The colt has been training beautifully,” said trainer Todd Pletcher in a statement. “It’s an unfortunate situation. We’ll monitor him closely and see how he responds.”

Algorithms is unbeaten in three career starts and stamped himself as a top Kentucky Derby candidate when he defeated juvenile champion Hansen in the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream on January 29. The son of Bernardini was expected to be the main challenger to Grade I winner Union Rags in Sunday’s 1 1/16-miles race.

Pletcher still has another Fountain of Youth entrant in Discreet Dancer, who is undefeated in two career starts. Discreet Dancer will be making his first start against stakes company.

Ludt: No change in Breeders’ Cup medication stance for now

Despite Friday’s announcement that the American Graded Stakes Committee would not move forward with plans to implement a ban on race-day medication in graded stakes races for 2-year-olds in 2012, officials with Breeders’ Cup Ltd. said Saturday the organization has no current plans to alter its decision to prohibit the race-day use of the anti-bleeder medication Lasix in its juvenile races this year.

The decision by the American Graded Stakes Committee was prompted by a collective lack of action as none of the jurisdictions which hold graded stakes races for juveniles have moved forward with the proposed Lasix ban.

Breeders’ Cup chairman Tom Ludt said Saturday its board members will likely have a discussion on the matter at its next meeting but doesn’t necessarily foresee a change in that directive for this year’s two-day World Championships, which are slated to be held at Santa Anita Park on November 2 and 3rd.

“We had heard rumblings (about the AGSC stance) for a while but I don’t think it has any impact on us for California,” Ludt said. “We have it set up with the California board and… I don’t see why we would change our stance. We are in a unique situation where as the Graded Stakes Committee is crossing many state lines.We haven’t talked about it yet and I’m sure we’ll have a lively debate about it. I don’t think we’ll have any change of stance, but I don’t know.”

In addition to banning Lasix in this year’s juvenile contests, Breeders’ Cup Ltd. also plans to prohibit the use of  race-day medications in all of its races by 2013. If the racing jurisdictions continue to drag their feet and the majority of horsemen remain opposed to the ban, Ludt said Breeders’ Cup might have to take a harder look at its position.

“Again, I haven’t talked to the board members about it but if it became a big issue and it never went anywhere, we’d have to talk about it and address it,” Ludt said. “That doesn’t mean we’d change our vote. But going forward into 2013, if this thing doesn’t gain enough momentum to have an impact, we’d have to talk about it.”

Next Page »