Archive for April, 2012

Creative Cause heads busy morning at Churchill; no decision yet on Mark Valeski

It was another active morning on the work tab for Kentucky Derby hopefuls on Monday with Creative Cause, Liaison, Sabercat, Daddy Nose Best and Mark Valeski all going through their final serious paces over the Churchill Downs track.

Trainer Larry Jones said Sunday he and owner Brereton Jones needed to see something special from Mark Valeski – runner up in the Louisiana Derby last time out – in his final move to ensure the son of Proud Citizen would be in the starting gate Saturday. Even after the bay colt worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 under former jockey Larry Melancon, both Joneses remained non committal saying they would likely wait until Wednesday to make a final call.

“I’m not going to guarantee that we’re in or out,” Larry Jones said. “Tomorrow will tell more and I’ll know really Wednesday morning when I get on him, especially if he tries to buck me off coming off that track.”

“You shouldn’t go to the Derby unless you feel like you’re loaded for bear,” Brereton Jones said. “This is a really good horse and he’ s getting better all the time but you better be at your best for the Derby. That’s a decision that Larry is going to need to make. We’ll just have to talk about it.”

Grade I winner Creative Cause, who arrived on Saturday, breezed four furlongs in :47.80 for trainer Mike Harrington. The son of Giant’s Causeway, third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs last November, ticked off splits of :12.60, :24.60,  and :36 with a gallop out 1:01.20.

“I couldn’t ask him to work any better than he worked and I think he did it fairly easily,” Harrington said. “It wasn’t like my rider was asking him for his life. The best thing is the way he handled the racetrack so I’m just hoping Saturday the track is like it was today. When tracks are wet, you never know how even they’re going to play.”

While Creative Cause and Mark Valeski came out after the renovation break, trainer Steve Asmussen sent his duo of Sabercat and Daddy Nose Best out shortly after the track opened. Sabercat, winner of last year’s Delta Jackpot, breezed four furlongs in :48.40 with Sunland Derby winner Daddy Nose Best covering the same distance in :49.40.

“It’s amazing how similar these two horses are,” Asmussen said. “At every stage, both of them. They showed up on the same van ride, they worked together six to ten times last spring and fall and both of them had two starts at Churchill in the Spring. They are very similar horses and when you look at where they’re at here, I like the confidence level of Daddy Nose Best, the spacing of his races. And I like the experience that Sabercat has gotten with the travel and the dirt that he’s taken. I think they both have a lot of positives going for them.”

One day after his stablemate Bodemeister put in his final drill, the Bob Baffert-trained Liaison covered five furlongs in 1:00.80 working in company with Mile High Magic. The son of Indian Charlie put in splits of :24.80, :37.20, and :48.80 with a gallop out in 1:13.20, finishing on even terms with his work mate.


Leading sire Dynaformer dead at age 27

Just weeks after being pensioned from stud duty after suffering an aortic valve rupture, leading sire Dynaformer passed away at the age of 27 on Sunday at Robert and Blythe Clay’s Three Chimneys Farm.


Known internationally for siring such top class athletes as Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, Melbourne Cup winner Americain, Grade I winner Perfect Drift and European champion Rainbow View, the son of Roberto was considered among the most prolific sires in the industry. Out of the His Majesty mare Andover Way, Dynaformer stood for an advertised fee of $150,000 this year prior to being pensioned and has sired three champions, 61 graded stakes winners and 130 stakes winners to date with progeny earnings of  more than $110,000,000.


“Dynaformer impacted the industry in a way that few ever have or will,”  Three Chimneys president Case Clay said in a statement. “More than that, though, he was an awe-inspiring horse to be around. He commanded respect and his toughness was undeniable to the very end. He reminded me a lot of  Seattle Slew in that when you were around him, you knew you were in the presence of greatness.”


Though course in his own physical appearance and famous for his ornery personality, Dynaformer proved a versatile sire who get runners of all types on all surfaces. They not only excelled on the flat, but over jumps as well as his son, McDynamo won  an
unprecedented five Breeders’ Cup Steeplechase races.


“Dynaformer’s tough spirit will continue to influence our breed for many years to come,” said Robert Clay, owner of Three Chimneys. “He  reminds us that looks aren’t everything, and that the will to win is that intangible ingredient we  are all striving to find.”
“He commanded respect and total attention at all times,” added  Three Chimneys stallion manager  Sandy Hatfield. “He had earned every bit of his reputation as being one of the toughest stallions  in the industry, but when it came to his job in the breeding shed, he was a total professional. In  my opinion, our industry has lost one of the greatest sires it will ever see.”


Bred and campaigned by Joseph Allen, the course-looking Dynaformer was a multiple Grade II winner on the track, taking the 1988 Jersey Derby and Discovery Handicap. Upon retiring with seven wins from 30 starts and more than $671,000 in earnings, Dynaformer began his stud career Nathan Fox’s Wafare Farm for an advertised stud fee of just $5,000.


From his initial crop of just 47 foals, 46 went onto race and from that group came five stakes winners, including Blumin Affair,  who was second in the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and third in the 1994 Kentucky Derby. Dynaformer relocated to Three Chimneys for the 1995 breeding season and has been with the farm ever since.


After suffering a significant cardiac episode in his stall on April 14, Dynaformer had been stabilized. An ultrasound  performed on April 15th revealed several holes in his heart as a result of the heart attack, one  measuring eight centimeters long and two others measuring two centimeters each.  Dynaformer had been resting comfortably, eating well, and maintaining his daily turnout routine  in the weeks following his heart scare, but his health took a turn Saturday evening.


For a horse who lived life strictly on his terms, it was the only fitting way for him to pass.


“Dynaformer told us when it was his time to go,” said Dr. Jim Morehead, Three Chimneys’  resident veterinarian.  “A normal horse would not have survived his initial  cardiac episode. He did everything on his terms, including deciding when he’d had enough.”
The public is invited to pay their respects to Dynaformer during the annual Three Chimneys  Derby Week Open House on Thursday, May 4 from 10:00am until 1:00pm. A memorial service  for Dynaformer will be held at 12:30 during the event in the stallion cemetery.

Bodemeister has final tune up for Kentucky Derby

Arkansas Derby winner Bodemeister, one of the likely favorites for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, continued to turn heads in his preparations for the race, working five furlongs in 59.60 in company with Oaks hopeful Jemima’s Pearl over the Churchill Downs main track Sunday.

Trainer Bob Baffert had contemplated pushing the work back to Monday in the aftermath of severe thunderstorms that drenched Louisville Saturday night. The muddy surface appeared to be little concern to Bodemeister though as he finished up in front of his workmate after breaking off about four lengths behind.

“I’m glad I got the work in,” Baffert said. “I was a little worried last night with the rains and all the stuff how the track was going to be but it turns out the track was in perfect shape today. He got a hold of it, it was nice and firm.”

Bodemeister reeled off splits of :36.40, and :48 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.20.

“He worked his usual self,” Baffert said. “He stayed with that other horse and I don’t see him being rank or anything in the works. He’s really settled in here really well. He’s working like he was in California. He was doing that within himself, he’s the kind of horse who will go slower or faster, whatever you want to do.”

Hansen gets added push in five furlong move at Trackside

Reigning juvenile champion Hansen got a little help from a friend in his final move before next Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

In a five furlong breeze at Churchill Downs’  Trackside Training Center, Hansen covered the distance in 1:01.20 working the first three furlongs solo and then getting company in the form of stablemate Derby Kitten for the final portion of the drill.

As Hansen came into the lane for the last two furlongs of his work, Derby Kitten dropped in and acted as a target for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner with the latter kicking on strong to record splits of : 12.20, :24.60, :36.80, and :49.20.

“It was good, we weren’t looking to do a whole lot today,” trainer Mike Maker said. “The plan was to go a soft first three eighths and then finish up the last quarter, which he did. We wanted an honest effort all the way through.”

Getting the front-running Hansen to relax and harness his speed will be paramount if the gray colt is to last 1 1/4- miles next weekend. Hansen showed that dimension when he captured the Grade III Gotham Stakes on March 3 after sitting just off the early pace but couldn’t hold off Dullahan in the stretch of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 14 after setting wicked internal fractions.

“As you saw today he has no problem relaxing,” Maker said.

Union Rags leads quartet of Derby works at Churchill

With the expected rain in the forecast giving way to mild temps and sunshine, a foursome of Kentucky Derby hopefuls – led by Grade I winners Union Rags and Dullahan – all hit the Churchill Downs track on Saturday to put in their final major preparations.

Hitting the track right after the renovation break at 8:30 a.m., Union Rags, Dullahan, Prospective and Went the Day Well had all the cameras on them as the readied themselves for their respective breezes.

Tampa Bay Derby winner Prospective was the first to complete his work, covering five furlongs in 1:01.20 in company with Moon Traveler and finishing about three lengths in front.  Dullahan also drilled five furlongs, clocking in at 1:01.20 while Union Rags worked five  furlongs in :59.80 with jockey Julien Leparoux up.  Went the Day Well was officially clocked going five furlongs in 1:01 flat with trainer Graham Motion recording him going six furlongs in 1:14 1/5 under jockey John Velazquez.

Trainer Michael Matz admittedly didn’t have the best view to see Union Rags’ move, but his eyes lit up when he heard the final time the son of Dixie Union had registered.

“We wanted him to have a strong work here and that was the plan all along,”  Matz said. “Like I said, I wish I could’ve seen it, but all I saw was the front part of it, the last quarter mile, but he looked like he did that nice. (Leparoux) said he galloped out real strong and said he thinks he likes the track.”

Went the Day Well, winner of the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park in March, is trying to give  Motion, Velazquez and owners Team Valor their second consecutive win in the Derby following Animal Kingdom’s triumph last season.  The son of Proud Citizen is known for being more lazy than spectacular in the mornings but put in one of most impressive moves  Saturday, clocking splits of 12.40, 24.60, 36.60, 48.80 in company with stablemate Crimson China and finishing up about three lengths in front.

“I thought it was his best work ever. It’s the first time he went by a horse without having to be asked,” said Team Valor CEO Barry Irwin. “He went a lot better on the dirt than he did on the Polytrack.”

Went the Day Well worked in blinkers Saturday, which his connections believe improved his focus during the move. Irwin said after the work the colt would likely race with the blinkers for the Derby.

“Johnny (Velazquez) was very pleased with him,” Motion said. “He actually thought he breezed a little better over here than he did on the synthetic last week so we’re very happy with that. Animal Kingdom was an exceptional work horse where this horse tends to be little lazy but I thought today was probably one of the best works I’ve seen him do to be honest.”

Dullahan, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last time out, recorded splits of s 11.80, 23.80 and :36 with Tammy Fox up. The son of Even the Score has yet to win in three tries over a dirt surface but has pleased trainer Dale Romans with how he has moved over the Churchill track in recent days.

“That was perfect, that was all we were looking for,” said Romans. “We just wanted a nice maintenance breeze. He  went in :57 the week before the Blue Grass so…he’s plenty fit. We just wanted to let him stretch his legs, stretch his lungs a little bit. We’ll take it easy from here.”

Trainer Mark Casse called Prospective outing “perfect” after the colt put in splits of :12.20, :24.80, :36.80, and :49.

“I told (jockey) Shaun (Bridgmohan) to go 1:01, so I think he went 1:01 and 1, so he’ll get docked for that,” Casse laughed. “He was just telling me, he sensed he was magnificent. Shaun actually worked him last year I think before the Breeders’ Cup for us once. But he said he just was super. He said he was wanting to go a little too fast and he slowed him down down the backside. The horse he works with is not a bad horse and I was surprised at how easily he worked away from him. We’ve said all along that he likes Churchill and I think he does. We’re ready.”

Byrne all smiles after Take Charge Indy’s move

Courtesy of the Gulfstream Park publicity department:


After watching Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy work five furlongs easily Thursday morning at Palm Meadows in 1:00 2/5, trainer Pat Byrne lowered his binoculars as the colt was galloping out and said to a handful of onlookers on the clocker’s stand, “There you go. How do you like those apples?”

Palm Meadows clocker Bryan Walls had Take Charge Indy in :11 3/5, :23 3/5, :35 3/5, :47 3/5 and galloping out in 1:14 3/5 under exercise rider Susie Bricker. The colt worked in company with Zimmer, a fourth-place finisher March 11 at Gulfstream in a $66,100 allowance optional claimer.

“To sum it up in a word – magnificent,” said Byrne later back at his barn. “The track here is in great shape. It was a super work. He couldn’t be doing any better. He’s ready to go. He was just stretching his legs this morning. Visually, it was very impressive. I’m delighted.”

Said Bricker, “He went super…so easy. As soon as the horse came up to us in the stretch he took off again.”

Byrne, trainer of 1997 Horse of the Year Favorite Trick and 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, said Take Charge Indy would ship to Louisville and Churchill Downs Tuesday for the May 5 Kentucky Derby.

“He’s just going to go back to galloping,” Byrne said. “I schooled him in the gate Tuesday, so we don’t have to worry about that. All we’ll do at Churchill next week is gallop over the track. He may two minute lick a little, but he likes the track. He worked a bullet prior to (last year’s Breeders’ Cup) Juvenile (G1). He doesn’t need to do anymore than what he’s done today. He’s really mentally sharp and ready to go.

“We’re looking forward to this race. He’s had a nice rest since the Florida Derby. Things couldn’t have gone better since the Florida Derby. It’s been perfect, and a mile and a quarter with his pedigree is right up the street.”

Take Charge Indy, a son of A.P. Indy, is owned by Chuck and Maribeth Sandford. The colt, fifth at Churchill Downs in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, will be ridden in the Derby by Calvin Borel.

Liaison works for Baffert, Isn’t He Clever no longer under Derby consideration

From today’s Churchill Downs notes:
Arnold Zetcher LLC’s Liaison worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 over a track labeled as “good” under Shaun Bridgmohan after the renovation break on a sunny and mild Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.
Working on his own after the renovation break in the 8:30-8:45 a.m. (all times Eastern) training period reserved for Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders, Liaison posted fractions of :12.60, :24.80, :37 and 1:00.80.
“I liked his gallop yesterday,” trainer Bob Baffert said of the Indian Charlie colt’s first day at the track. “He’s a very lazy worker and today I sent him out with no company and Shaun did an excellent job with him.”
 Winner of the Real Quiet and CashCall Futurity (Grade I) last fall at Hollywood Park, Liaison is winless in three 2012 starts, all of them at Santa Anita.
 “He did not like Santa Anita at all. It was too hard for him,” Baffert said. “This track is a lot softer. He still has a lot to prove, but he is training well and looks well.”

 Baffert’s other Derby hopeful,  Bodemeister walked the shedrow a day after working five furlongs in 1:00.80 under Garcia.
“He came out of the work well and will go back to the track in the morning,” Baffert said of the Arkansas Derby winner who worked in company with Kentucky Oaks  hopeful Jemima’s Pearl. “I liked the way he sat off that other horse in the work, very controlled.”
DADDY NOSE BEST / ISN’T HE CLEVER / SABERCAT – Isn’t He Clever, runner-up in the Sunland Derby and most recently eighth in the Arkansas Derby, was considered to be a possible Kentucky Derby starter at number 21 on the graded stakes earnings list; however, trainer Steve Asmussen confirmed Wednesday morning the 3-year-old gelded son of Smarty Jones will not be in the starting gate for the Run for the Roses.
“Isn’t He Clever has been withdrawn from consideration (for the Derby),” Asmussen said.
Isn’t He Clever had been under the care of trainer Henry Dominguez, but was transferred to Asmussen following the Arkansas Derby. He arrived at Churchill Downs on April 17 and breezed four furlongs over the track in :51.60 Monday.
Asmussen listed the Preakness at Pimlico on May 19 and the Woody Stephens on June 9 at Belmont Park as potential targets for Isn’t He Clever.
The two remaining Kentucky Derby contenders in the Amussen barn, Daddy Nose Best and  Sabercat, galloped around the Churchill Downs oval prior to the renovation break Wednesday morning.

Bodemeister works, Liaison confirmed for Derby start

Bodemeister, spectacular winner of the Grade I Arkansas Derby on April 14, tuned up for his expected start in the Kentucky Derby on May 5 by drilling 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 under the watch of trainer Bob Baffert at Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning.

The son of Empire Maker worked in company with Oaks hopeful Jemima’s Pearl, breaking off about 4 lengths behind and clocking splits of . 12.80, 25, 36.80, 48.80.

Though lightly raced with just four starts to his credit, Bodemeister is expected to be among the favorites for the Derby off his 9 1/2 length romp down at Oaklawn.

“He’s got a ways to go but what I saw today was very encouraging,” said Baffert, who was in attendance for the move. “He worked really nice, just skipped over the track. He moves over the ground really easy. I still think Union Rags and Hansen and those other horses (are the favorites). He’s only had four starts.”

Baffert also confirmed Tuesday that Grade I winner Liaison would be in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field. Owned by Arnold Zetcher, Liaison won the Grade I CashCall Futurity last December but has been off the board in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis, Grade II San Felipe Stakes, and Grade I Santa Anita Derby this year.

“I’m going to run him, I love the way he went over this track,” Baffert said. “What a difference. Santa Anita, he just hated that place. He worked well the other day at Hollywood Park and today he went around there and looked like a different horse. He still has a mountain to climb but we’re going to work him here and give him a chance.

“At the end of December, he looked like he would be one of the Derby favorites. But he’s just had rough outs this year.”

Baffert said Martin Garcia would have the mount on Liaison for the Derby.

Champion Havre de Grace retired

Havre de Grace, the reigning Horse of the Year, has been retired according to a post on owner Rick Porter’s website.

On his website,, Porter posted the Havre de Grace emerged from her work at Churchill Downs on Sunday with heat in her right front ankle and was sent to Rood and Riddle for evaluation by Dr. Larry Bramlage. According to the vet report Porter linked to, Havre de Grace was found to have a ligament injury that area and that remaining ligaments could become “progressively more vulnerable” should the daughter of Saint Liam be kept in training.

“It’s been a rough day,” Porter proclaimed when reached Monday afternoon. “My understanding in talking to Larry (Bramlage) is there would be problems with the ligaments in that area. With a year’s time off she could be 100 percent again but that would take us into her six-year-old year…and it just didn’t make any sense.

“If someone had seen her walk, according to (trainer) Larry Jones this morning, she wasn’t even off. She had some swelling a little while after the breeze and this morning, the heat was still there. When I got up this morning, I had a message from Larry to give him a call when I wake up. I was afraid to call him because I knew it wasn’t good news. It’s just one of those sad things.”

Attached in the link below is a copy of the vet report from this morning.




Asmussen trio, Mark Valeski work at Churchill Downs

Daddy Nose Best, undefeated in two starts this year with victories in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby and Sunland Derby, breezed six furlongs on a fast Churchill Downs track Monday morning prior to the renovation break in 1:14 for trainer Steve Asmussen.
        Working under Garrett Gomez on the outside of Z Dager, Daddy Nose Best recorded fractions of :13, :25.40, :37.60, :50 and 1:01.80 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:27.20.
        It was the first time Gomez has been aboard the bay son of Scat Daddy and he will also be in the irons on Kentucky Derby Day.
        “Steve wanted me to get a feel for him,” Gomez said. “He is quite a nice ride. He jumped a shadow when we broke off, but I don’t think there will be any shadows that afternoon (on Derby Day). It was a nice three-quarter (of a mile) work. He did it very well.”
        Monday marked the third work at Churchill Downs for Daddy Nose Best since he arrived at the Louisville track on March 28.
        “He’s a nice horse and does everything he’s supposed to,” Asmussen said. “He has a lot of experience over this racetrack and he’s very comfortable on it. He’s a very healthy horse and he’s doing extremely well.”
        Working just a few minutes after Daddy Nose Best was Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Sabercat, who is also trained by Asmussen.
        Under exercise rider Carlos Rosas on the outside of Major Hope, Sabercat breezed five furlongs in 1:02.80. The dark bay son of Bluegrass Cat, who most recently finished third in the $1 million Arkansas Derby, recorded fractions of :13.40, :26, :38.40 and :50.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16.40.
        “It was his first work back from the Arkansas Derby so we did a little less with him,” Asmussen said. “He’s also very comfortable over this racetrack. He’s happy and I’m pleased with the way he’s coming up to this race.
        “Our concerns now are the quality of the rest of the field and the kind of trips they can work out. But we’re excited about the way both horses are coming into the Derby. I definitely feel like Daddy Nose Best and Sabercat are going to show up in the Derby and run the best races of their lives when it matters the most.”
        Another possible Derby contender from the Asmussen barn breezed Monday morning following the renovation break.  Isn’t He Clever, runner-up to Daddy Nose Best in the Sunland Derby and most recently eighth in the Arkansas Derby, breezed four furlongs in :51.60.
        “We will let the horse tell us where to go,” Asmussen said. “There is no pressure from the owners to run in the Derby. The Derby will be on a Saturday and more than likely Isn’t He Clever will breeze that following Monday and we’ll look at the Preakness or something else.”
With owner Brereton Jones looking on from the front side of the track, Louisiana Derby runner-up Mark Valeski worked five furlongs in :59.60 under jockey Rosie Napravnik.
Working in the company with the unraced 3-year-old Hamiltonian, Mark Valeski started a length behind Hamiltonian on the outside, drew even at the quarter pole and finished about a length in front.
         Fractions for Mark Valeski were :12.60, :24.20, :36, :47.40 and out six furlongs in 1:14.60. The move was the second fastest of 31 at the distance over a fast track.
        “He worked excellently,” said Napravnik, who minutes prior to the Mark Valeski work had piloted stablemate Believe You Can through a bullet five-eighths in :59. “He is more laid back (than Believe You Can), but come race day, he is on his game as soon as they break.”
        Trainer Larry Jones was happy with the work.
        “When you work here, you wonder how they will handle the racetrack and both of them did in their works today,” Jones said. “I picked both of them up and neither of them was breathing excessively.”
        Jones said that Mark Valeski likely would have his final work for the Derby next Monday with exercise rider Jen Brasser likely to handle the breeze.

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