Archive for July, 2012

Pacific Classic could be next for Grade I winner Dullahan

On the heels of a disappointing fifth place finish in the Grade I Haskell Invitational this past Sunday, multiple Grade I winner Dullahan could finally make a return to the synthetic surfaces he relishes in the Grade I Pacific Classic against older horses at Del Mar on August 26.

The Haskell represented the sixth loss for Dullahan in as many tries over a dirt surface as both of his career wins  – the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes – came over the Polytrack at Keeeneland. Trainer Dale Romans had been considering putting the son of Even the Score back on the turf, possibly in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on August 18, but Donegal Racing managing partner Jerry Crawford said Tuesday he would likely bypass that spot and look to Del Mar instead.

“You know we have Finnegans Wake (third in the Grade II Virginia Derby) and we believe he can win the Secretariat so we will not send Dullahan to the Secretariat,” Crawford said on Tuesday. “Having said that, I spent some time this morning studying the Pacific Classic which obviously will be contested on Polytrack like the surface at Keeneland and that is a surface he has excelled at. At least as of today, that is one of things that is under consideration.”

A 3-year-old facing older horses for the first time is always a gamble and the Pacific Classic could represent the deepest end of the pool Dullahan has tried to swim in. Multiple Grade I winner Game On Dude and reigning older male champion Acclamation are both pointing to the $1  million race.

“They’re some of the best older horses in America but it’s on a surface he may prefer,” Crawford said. “It’s a real opportunity to make a strong statement if he can go out there and be successful.”

More than just not handling the track on Haskell day, Crawford also feels that tactically they made a mistake in having Dullahan closer to the pace than normal thus negating his late, one-run style. With dirt races now on the shelf temporarily, Crawford is also non committal on a possible Breeders’ Cup start for the chestnut colt but is already plotting a possible trip to Dubai next March for the $10 million Dubai World Cup over the synthetic Tapeta surface at Meydan Racecourse.

“My goal with him and with (Grade II Remsen Stakes winner) O’Prado Again, who is about to come back to the races at Saratoga, has always been the Dubai World Cup,” Crawford said. “The Breeders’ Cup would be a dream come true but we’re trying to keep our eye on the Dubai World Cup. He’s been through the grueling 3-year-old campaign and at some point he’s going to need a break. I just think we just have to let him tell us on a race by race basis when he wants to run again so it might be premature to answer (the Breeders’ Cup) question.”

 

Haskell winner Paynter spikes fever

Zayat Stable’s Paynter, who scored his first graded stakes win when he took the Grade I Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park this past Sunday, did not ship back to Del Mar as planned after spiking a temperature on Tuesday.

“Paynter slight temp this morning so could not ship home,” trainer Bob Baffert posted on his Twitter account. “Will van to Saratoga by weekend to prepare for Travers.”

Justin Zayat, son of owner Ahmed Zayat, later on his Twitter account that Paynter’s temperature was 102 in the morning but was down to 99 by the afternoon.

“Just being cautious. He will be okay,” Justin Zayat posted.

The setback could jeopardize plans to send the upstart son of Awesome Again to the Grade I Travers at Saratoga on August 26 where he is expected to be the likely favorite. The bay colt launched himself into the picture as one of the top 3-year-olds still in training when he trounced a field of five others by 3 3/4 lengths in the $1 million Haskell.

The 1 1/8-miles Haskell was just Paynter’s sixth career start and first outing since running second by a neck to the now retired Union Rags in the Belmont Stakes.

Churchill to turn sixth-floor press center into “The Mansion”

After weeks of speculation, Churchill Downs confirmed during an announcement on Tuesday it was redesigning the sixth-floor press box at the track to become the home of “The Mansion”  – a new venue that will cater to the most high end of clientele.

The Mansion, which will be located in the area that has housed both the track’s media center and Gold Room for big bettors since 2005, will be open for the 2013 renewals of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. It is the largest of four projects that will be underway at the track in the coming months.

 

Accompanying projects include a new Media Center located where the former corporate offices were; the razing of the Paddock Pavilion to create an open gathering space for patrons of the Derby, Oaks, “Downs After Dark” racing and business and social events throughout the year; and the relocation and expansion of the track’s Gold Room.

Floor plan for The Mansion

 

The Media Center and the new gathering space adjacent to the Paddock are scheduled to be completed prior to Churchill Downs’ Oct. 28-Nov. 25 Fall Meet, and the expanded Gold Room is set to open in August.  The Mansion at Churchill Downs will be completed prior to the 2013 Spring Meet and its 139th runnings of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby scheduled, respectively, for Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4.

“We’ve been hinting at details of The Mansion and those mentions have generated considerable buzz in our community and the racing and sports entertainment industries, so it’s good to provide some enticing details of a marvelous venue that will take the Kentucky Derby experience to an extraordinary new level,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs racetrack, said in a release. “Few events in the world can offer the experiences provided by the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, which combine entertainment, fashion, celebrity, food and fun with the excitement generated by the world-class races that are their respective centerpieces.  The sensations experienced by our guests in The Mansion will be unlike any offered in our 138-year history.”

The $9 million in spending on the four projects brings total investment over the past decade in facilities by Churchill Downs to more than $150 million. The investment total also includes the sweeping renovation of the track’s Clubhouse and Grandstand, which was completed in 2005 with a final price tag of $122.4 million, and the purchase and installation of a permanent lighting system for the main track and turf course, a $4 million project completed in 2010.

“The four projects getting underway this summer at Churchill Downs are the latest steps in an ongoing effort to improve and enhance both the facilities and the customer experience at Churchill Downs,” Flanery said.  “The more than $150 million in spending on facilities over the past decade at Churchill Downs has been targeted toward that goal and represents a significant investment in our city, state and region.  We will continue those efforts to ensure that the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and their home track remain major economic engines for our region for decades to come.”

Patrons will be delivered to The Mansion at Churchill Downs via private elevator, and its doors will open onto a  venue described as evoking “the elegant feel and flow of a celebration at a stately home”. The Mansion, with seating and exclusive entertainment opportunities for more than 320 guests, will offer grand settings in its Dining Room, Living Room, Library, Parlor and Veranda, along with more intimate gathering spaces in its foyer and bar. Guests will have access to a private wine cellar, and personal concierge service.

Like other premium seating areas at Churchill Downs, The Mansion will be an invitation-only venue for both the Derby and Oaks. Churchill Downs is contacting potential patrons of The Mansion with details of the luxurious amenities and extraordinary personalized service the new location will provide.

 

The new Media Center will be located near Churchill Downs’ Gate 1 entrance and Paddock in a building that has housed the track’s General Offices. Its first floor will be transformed into an open facility outfitted with media work stations, multiple large screen televisions, enhanced Wi-Fi and other technology for digital coverage but does not offer a live view of the racetrack itself.

The Media Center will feature a dedicated area for press conferences, and several third-floor boxes have been set aside for viewing of the Derby, Oaks and other races by credentialed media representatives.

Offices currently located in the new Media Center site are relocating to the building’s second floor, which formerly housed offices of Churchill Downs’ parent firm, Churchill Downs Incorporated. The corporate offices were recently moved to CDI’s new headquarters at 600 N. Hurstbourne Lane.

The new Gold Room for Churchill Downs VIP players is located on the second floor of the Clubhouse in a space that had previously been utilized as the Champions Lounge.   Previously located on the sixth floor of the Clubhouse, the new Gold Room is a larger facility with additional seating.  The facility has been outfitted with new large-screen televisions, food and bar service and a terrific vantage point for the viewing of pre-race activity in the Paddock during the track’s Spring and Fall Meet. The new Gold Room will open in early August.

Successful Dan out of Whitney, to be evaluated at Rood and Riddle

Multiple graded stakes winner Successful Dan will miss his expected start in next weekend’s Grade I Whitney Handicap at Saratoga after filling was discovered in his left front leg, trainer Charlie Lopresti said Saturday.

The six-year-old Successful Appeal gelding has battled suspensory injuries in the past – including one that kept his sidelined for nearly 17 months. He was being shipped Saturday afternoon from Saratoga to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington to be evaluated by Dr. Larry Bramlage.

“He’s got some filling in his pastern,” Lopresti said from Saratoga. “He’s not lame, but that’s where he had an old injury from 2009. But that’s not the one we did the suspensory on, this is a pastern ligament. It’s disappointing but we did an ultrasound on it and saw a little suspicious place. We needed to breeze him this weekend to make the Whitney but he’s had that swelling and we just didn’t want to take a chance with him.”

Lopresti said they should get the full results on the nature of the ailment by this Wednesday.

“Hopefully it’s nothing and he’ll just need a little time off and he can run back up here (at Saratoga) or at Keeneland,” Lopresti said. “We’re being real cautious but he’s not painful on it.”

Lopresti had considered starting both Successful Dan and his Grade I winning half brother Wise Dan in the Whitney but decided to send the later to the Grade II Fourstardave Handicap on the turf on August 11. Despite the fact Successful Dan is now on the shelf, Lopresti said he will not reroute Wise Dan back to the Whitney.

“I brought him up here and made a commitment to (jockey) John Velazquez and he’s been training very well here,” Lopresti said of Wise Dan. “He had a super good breeze on the grass and I’m not going to try and change gears now once I’ve come here and done this. It’s probably not the smart thing to do.”

Successful Dan missed all of the 2011 season with his suspensory injury but return to action this April at Keeneland, winning an allowance race  going seven furlongs over the Polytrack. Morton Fink’s homebred gelding then captured the Grade II Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 4 over the likes of eventual Suburban winner Mucho Macho Man before finishing second to Fort Larned in the Grade III Cornhusker Handicap on June 30.

Shackleford could turn up in Alfred G. Vanderbilt

From today’s NYRA notes:

 

Instead of going straight to the Grade I, $500,000 Forego on Saturday, September 1 as originally planned, multiple Grade I winner Shackleford may run on Sunday, August 5 in the Grade I, $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap.

 

“There is a slim chance that Shackleford might show up in the Vanderbilt,” said trainer Dale Romans. “A lot depends on how he breezes at Churchill tomorrow. It has been in the back of my mind for a while.”

 

Owned by Bill Cubbedge and Michael Lauffer, Shackleford most recently ran perhaps the top race of 2012 to this point, defeating Caleb’s Posse by a nose in the Grade I, $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap on May 28 at Belmont.

 

Romans previously indicated that the 4-year-old son of Forestry would await the Forego, but he has seen signs that the 2011 Preakness winner might be ready sooner.

 

“He’s starting to come out of his shell and I don’t think it will be as taxing on him as the one and one eighth miles of the Whitney,” Romans said. “He’s a horse that likes to run, and if nothing else, it would be a good prep for the Forego. He only has three or four more races left in his career, so we might as well get them.”

 

If Shackleford does run in the Vanderbilt, it would be the first time in his career trying six furlongs. Because he was not nominated for the race, he would need to be supplemented for $8,000.

 

Monmouth Park out as 2013 Breeders’ Cup host

According to a story in today’s Newark Star-Ledger, Monmouth Park has not been selected as the host site for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup, leaving  Churchill Downs and this year’s host Santa Anita Park as the two front runners.

Bob Kulina, president of Darby Development, the new operators of Monmouth, confirmed to the Star-Ledger the racetrack was not selected to host the 2013 but was being encouraged to bid for the 2014 edition of the World Championships.

Read the full story here:

http://www.nj.com/horse-racing/index.ssf/2012/07/monmouth_loses_bid_to_host_2013_breeders_cup.html

Update on Breeders’ Cup hero Arazi

In the wake of news last month that Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another had been sold and would stand stud in Japan, there has been a groundswell of interest and debate about horses standing overseas.

To that end, Jen Roytz, marketing director for Three Chimneys Farm, was kind enough to share an update on champion and former Three Chimneys stallion Arazi. Arazi, as many recall, scored what remains one of the most visually stirring Breeders’ Cup wins in his history with his breathtaking move in the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The son of Blushing Groom has gone from has gone from England to the U.S, to Japan to Sweden to Australia as a stud.

Here is the update on Arazi as posted on the Three Chimneys Facebook page:

 

Arazi lives as a pensioner at Independent Stallions in Victoria, Australia, but he’s been a globe trotter from day one. Arazi was born in America, but began his racing career in France, winning six of seven races before coming back to the States and winning the 1991 Breeders; Cup Juvenile. Arazi went back to France after the Breeders’ Cup to prepare for a run in the Derby, but finished eighth to Lil E. Tee. He raced four more times after that win, retiring as a four-time Grade/Group 1 winner with a record of 14-9-1-1, earnings of just over $1.2 million, and titles of Eclipse Champion Two-Year-Old in America, European Champion Two-Year-Old Male, and European Horse of the Year in 1991.

 

Arazi retired to stud originally at Sheikh Mohammed’s Dalham Stud in England, and later Sheikh Mohammed relocated Arazi to Three Chimneys. Arazi’s travels didn’t end there, as he was relocated to Breeders Stallion Station in Japan in 1997, then moved to Gestut Sohrenhof in Switzerland in 2003 to stand for one season before moving to the Southern Hemisphere to Mike Becker’s Independent Stallion Station in Australia.

 

Arazi

Arazi’s fertility was on the decline and, at the end of the 2011 breeding season, the farm made the decision to call it a career and retire Arazi from stud duty.

 

“He’s in great form, very bright and active,” said Mike Becker of Independent Stallion Station. “He’s cheeky, yet loves attention and is quite the character. He has a penchant for apples and will sniff through your pockets until he finds them and makes his displeasure known if you forget them. He has a home for life with us.”

 

Arazi’s paddock is adjacent to another Independent Stallion Station pensioner, Brief Truce, a fellow Kentucky-bred-turned-international traveler. Arazi also has a pasture of mares in a second adjacent paddock and Mike explained that the only time Arazi gets upset is if his girlfriends go out of sight.

 

“We still get a while lot of interest about Arazi from the US,” said Mike. “We’ve sent locks of his mane or tail, shoes, or bridles and get emails almost weekly from people interested in his welfare. It’s safe to say I’ve never had a stallion with a bigger, more widespread fan base. We’re proud to have him and will make sure he has every care for his life.”

 

RCI to consider “one strike, you’re out” penalities

RCI release:

 

The Board of Directors of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) has voted to direct its committees to develop a “One Strike, You’re Out” proposal for those licensees found to be responsible for putting substances in horses that endanger the horse.

 

Under an approach outlined by RCI President Ed Martin, not only licensed trainers, but also owners who fail to monitor their trainers and the veterinarians who provide or facilitate the administration of such substances could be subject to exclusion. In addition to racing license revocation, complaints would also be filed with law enforcement for possible violations of animal cruelty statutes.

 

The RCI Regulatory Veterinarians Committee has been instructed to compile a list of substances that, if found in a horse during drug testing, would warrant this type of treatment. The committee chairperson, Dr. Lynn Hovda of the Minnesota Racing Commission, suggested that the presence of some therapeutic substances (e.g. Clenbuterol) at excessive levels should also be considered, suggesting that such administrations may qualify those responsible for similar regulatory treatment.

 

Maximum penalties under current RCI Model Rules recommend a first time penalty for the most egregious drug violation of a one to three year suspension and a $10,000 to $25,000 fine. A license revocation recommendation currently does not apply in until the second offense with aggravating circumstances.

 

“There is general consensus among the regulators that these guidelines do not deter those who would use things that endanger our horses.  This will be changed,” predicted Martin.

 

The RCI Board also agreed in principle with a proposed procedure in which veterinarians believed to be overusing legal medications in inappropriate ways would be referred to those agencies with the power to review their actions and revoke their license to practice veterinary medicine.

 

“RCI is clearly concerned about reports of the overuse and possible abuse of legal medications and believe that this is where the hole is in the racing regulatory scheme,” Martin said, noting that racing commissions do not have jurisdictional authority over the practice of veterinary medicine.

 

While endorsing the concept, the RCI Board deferred action on a specific protocol proposed by Martin based upon concerns raised by the Regulatory Veterinarians Committee. The committee was instructed to suggest modifications and instructed the Model Rules Committee to consider how best to handle such referrals at its next meeting, currently scheduled for December 6, 2012 in Tucson, Arizona.

 

In other actions, the RCI Board adopted the following Model Rule revisions:

 

•         A requirement that written logs be maintained by racetrack security personnel noting the names and license numbers of those individuals who enter the backstretch of racetracks between the hours of Midnight and 5:00am

 

•         New restrictions on the use of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) machines and the imposition of a 1 year suspension and $10,000 fine for rule violations. Aggravating factors could increase the penalty to a three year suspension and $25,000 fine as well as a 90-day exclusion of the horse from racing. ESWT machines would be registered with the commission and the location and hours of treatments required to be approved.

 

•         Horses treated by veterinarians with ESWT would be ineligible to race or train for ten days following the day of treatment, treatments must be reported to the official veterinarian, and horses treated would be placed on an “ineligible list” maintained in the race office and accessible to practicing veterinarians and jockeys.

The RCI Board also voted to accelerate review of the proposed Reform Medication Rules submitted by The Jockey Club and created a Task Force to assess the recommended thresholds and withdrawal times.

 

“We appreciate the proposal that The Jockey Club has made and view it as a good first step that is in need of some strengthening in certain areas,” Martin noted. “There is general agreement among the regulators to develop stronger penalties and to provide a level of deterrence to those veterinarians who may be pressured to do things they know in their heart they should not.”

 

Oaklawn to offer richest stakes program in its history

Oaklawn press release:

Oaklawn has increased purses on 13 of its 32 stakes planned in 2013, including a majority of its 3-year-old stakes races. Overall, the track has raised stakes purses by nearly $400,000 to $5.7 million, the richest program in its history.

 

There will be more money and points available to Kentucky Derby  hopefuls at Oaklawn in 2013 than any track in the U.S. The track’s 3-year-old series, which, since 2004, has produced two Kentucky Derby winners, four Preakness winners, one Belmont Stakes winner and the last two Kentucky Derby runner-ups, has a total of 289 points available and $2,050,000 in purses. 2013 will mark the first year that Churchill Downs will use a point system rather than graded stakes earnings to determine the Kentucky Derby field.

 

Significant $100,000 boosts were made to two marquee 3-year-old races, the Grade II Rebel Stakes for colts and geldings March 16 and the Grade III Fantasy Stakes for fillies April 10, and the purses of the first two legs of the track’s series for male 3-year-olds– the Smarty Jones and Grade III Southwest Stakes – have both been raised by $50,000. Additionally, the purse of the Grade III Honeybee Stakes  for 3-year-old fillies March 9 was raised $25,000.

 

“Oaklawn welcomes the new point system because it rewards the prep races such as our Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby that have a longstanding tradition of producing Triple Crown caliber horses,” said David Longinotti, Assistant General Manager of Racing. “We are also excited that horses can start earning points with the Smarty Jones Stakes in January, so it was only fitting that we make this and the Southwest even more attractive with larger purses. We believe this can only enhance our series.”

 

The $150,000 Smarty Jones and the $300,000 Southwest will anchor Oaklawn’s two Monday holiday cards on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 21 and Presidents Day, Feb. 18, respectively. The purse for the Rebel Stakes will now be $600,000, which is the second significant increase for this race in two years. The series will culminate April 13 with the Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby.

 

The other significant change to the 3-year-old program is a distance change for the Southwest Stakes, which has been increased from one mile to 1 1/16 miles.

 

In addition to the Rebel and Fantasy, the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap  received a $100,000 increase to $500,000, its second increase in two years. This 1 1/8-mile event for older horses will once again be part of a four-stakes closing day program April 13, along with the Arkansas Derby, $250,000 Grade III Count Fleet Stakes and $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes. Two other races for older horses – the March 9 Grade III Razorback Handicap and the April 11 Carousel for female sprinters – had their purses raised by $25,000 to $150,000 and $100,000, respectively.

 

Other stakes to receive purses increases were the Dixie Belle, American Beauty, King Cotton, Downthedustyroad Breeders’ Stakes and Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes, which were all bumped from $50,000 to $60,000. There will be no stakes races, including state-bred ones, run for less than $60,000. For the complete stakes schedule, visit www.oaklawn.com. The 56-day 2013 meet runs Friday, Jan. 11 through Saturday, April 13.

 

 

Tapitsfly, Winter Memories meet again in Diana

While the glamorous 3-year-0ld division will again take center stage this weekend with the Grade II Jim Dandy and Grade I Haskell being contested, Saturday’s Grade I Diana Stakes at Saratoga has an intriguing match up deserving of its own billing.

Grade I winner Tapitsfly – one of a seemingly endless slate of stakes winners coming from the barn of trainer Dale Romans this year – will face off with fellow Grade I heroine Winter Memories in the 1 1/8 miles turf contest in a rematch of the Grade I Just a Game Stakes at Belmont last month.

Having first burst onto the scene with her win in 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, Tapitsfly had become more of a hard knocking performer in recent years. Though the daughter of Tapit was rarely off the board, it wasn’t until this year that she won her first graded stakes, taking the Grade II Honey Fox at Gulfstream in March.

After running third in the Grade I Jenny Wiley at Keeneland and second in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile, Tapitsfly got loose on the front end in the one-mile Just a Game en route to a 2 1/4 length triumph over Winter Memories on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

“She’ll handle the distance (in the Diana),” Romans said of Tapitsfly. “I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. I think this weekend will answer a lot of questions because if she gets the 1 1/8-miles that opens up a lot of options. If she does, and I think she will, we’ll have a lot more places to look.”

Winter Memories has been one of the better regarded members of the female turf division since her 3-year-old season last year. The daughter of El Prado won four graded stakes in 2011, including the Grade I Garden City Stakes, and took the Grade III Beaugay Stakes in her seasonal bow at Belmont on May 5.

Her late-running style is notoriously heart stopping for her connections as it has at times caused Winter Memories to have to overcome a good deal of trouble en route to the wire.

“Every time she runs, you get excited,” trainer Jimmy Toner said of Winter Memories. “And the way she runs is exciting. You have to give (Tapitsfly) a lot of credit (for her Just a Game win. She was on the lead, nice and comfortable, and we just couldn’t catch her. When they asked her, she had plenty enough to kick in. We just couldn’t catch her. And I don’t see any pace in the race, truthfully. Unfortunately for us and fortunately for them, it could be the same scenario all over again.”

The Chad Brown trained Zagora, winner of the 2011 edition of the Diana, is back to attempt to defend her title. The chestnut mare has three Grade III wins in four 2012 starts, most recently taking the Gallorette on May 19 at Pimlico. Her lone loss was a fifth in the Grade I Jenny Wiley.

She came out of the Gallorette with a popped splint, and we freshened her for a couple of weeks to fix that,” said Brown. “She caught a slow pace (in the Jenny Wiley), and she’s 0-for-3 at Keeneland. It’s not her course. Otherwise, she’s been perfect this year.”

 

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