Archive for August, 2012

Post-race quotes after historic Travers dead heat

Courtesy of NYRA publicity department:

– And as an added note, both Kiaran McLaughlin and Ken McPeek were raised in Lexington with McLaughlin going to Lafayette High School and McPeek graduating from Tates Creek.

Kiaran McLaughlin, winning trainer of Alpha (No. 6): “At the wire, it was too close to call. I said, ‘We’ll take a dead-heat.’ It was a great race. We thought he would run great, and he did. Kenny’s horse ran very well also. It’s a dead-heat, but it goes in the ‘W’ column. It doesn’t happen very often in a Grade 1, $1 million race, but we’re all happy it happened today for two guys from Lexington,Ky. We’re happy to win a Grade 1 with this horse.”


“I’m wondering who gets the canoe, how they’re going to paint the canoe. That’s very important at this time.”


“At the sixteenth pole, I thought we were second-best. I didn’t think we were going to get there. Then, at the last lunge or two, I thought we got there. The photo indicated a tie, and I said, ‘We’ll take it.’”


Did you think you had it at the wire: “ The first time no, second time yes, and then it was just pray for a dead heat. Kenny McPeek was standing right next to me and both of us were happy to take a dead heat. It was that close.”


Ramon Dominguez, winning jockey aboard Alpha (No. 6): “I was, throughout the whole race, three wide. Given that the other two horses were dueling for the lead, I really didn’t want to take my chances tucking behind them. For a little while, I tucked behind [Stealcase], but I always kept in mind the most likely two horses who would be coming to get me [Neck ‘n Neck and Nonios] would be coming on the outside. So I kept my options open, keeping him on the outside. David rode a great race and got through on the rail. I really think that made a difference for him to become a winner. But either way, I’m very proud of my horse. Inside the sixteenth pole, it looked like [Alpha] had probably lost because [Golden Ticket] had some separation, and he just kept coming. I’m very, very happy.”


Who did you think had won? “It was hard to say. I don’t think either [one of us] really knew. When we both realized it was a dead heat, we were pretty relieved and pretty happy at the same time.”


Was it the race you expected from Alpha? “The race I wanted to see would have been probably a nose difference just to get it all by myself. Nah, I’m just kidding. I was very happy with his race.”


Ken McPeek, winning trainer of Golden Ticket (No. 3): “I thought we were beat at first, then I thought we won. I couldn’t tell. I’m thrilled we finished in a dead heat. It couldn’t work out better for the two of us. Kiaran is a great guy. We all work our tail off. It would have been a heartbreaker for either one of us to lose. [Our horse] had been training unbelievable. We had been training him for the mile and a quarter distance. David [Cohen] nailed it. He cut him loose to the tee. He couldn’t have done a better job.”


David Cohen, winning jockey aboard Golden Ticket (No. 3): “The horse ran great. We had two options; [take the lead] if they gave it to us, or try to sit back and find the pocket. If the rail came available great, or if we had to come out, just try to save our run until the very end. Wins like that you’re not even looking at the wire; you’re just trying to stay focused and keep riding hard. On the gallop-out, Ramon and I spoke to each other and neither one of us knew if we won. Words can’t explain how this feels. Ramon and I took the dead heat in a great victory.”


Nick Zito, trainer of third-place finisher Fast Falcon (No. 11): “That wasn’t bad. I think if we don’t have the [outside] post, he’s right there.”


Junior Alvarado, rider aboard third-place finisher Fast Falcon (No. 11): “I tried to chase Street Life a little bit. All of a sudden by the three-eighths pole [Street Life] just stopped in front of me when I thought he was going to start to kick up. So, I had to move up, check a little bit and move outside. He started to pick it up again, but I’m sure that’s what cost me the race.”


**This is the first dead heat for win in the 143-year history of the Travers Stakes.**


***Street Life (No. 5), 11th place finisher, was pulled up shortly after the wire and vanned off. According to Dr. Celeste Kunz, on-call veterinarian for the American Association of Equine Practitioners, there were no obvious injuries to the horse, though he did appear to favor his left front. He will undergo further evaluation at his own barn.***

“Down the Stretch” radio program returns Saturday

The weekly “Down the Stretch” radio program ( Streaming “Live” ) returns Saturday August 25 on 790 AM in Louisville. Hosted by Don Knobel, “Down the Stretch” is a one-hour show featuring interviews and handicapping with horsemen and racing personalities from across the United States every Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Pre-race samples on Travers entrants clean; vet records made available

Dr. George Maylin, Director of the Racing and Wagering Board’s Drug Testing and Research Program, has completed initial testing of samples taken from Travers Stakes entries on Wednesday with all results coming back negative, it was announced Friday.

Per the board’s previous announcement, the full daily veterinarian’s record of all medications and treatments given to horses from noon August 22 until race time has also been posted on the NYSRWB’s website.

To view the vet records of the Travers entrants, visit:

Wise Dan causes stir in bullet move at Saratoga

Trainer Charlie Lopresti got quite the mood-elevating jolt Friday morning at Saratoga, and it wasn’t from a strong dose of caffeine.

In his first work since taking the Grade II Fourstardave Handicap on August 11, Lopresti’s Grade I-winning charge Wise Dan had his trainer and onlookers awestruck when he worked four furlongs in a bullet :45.89 on the Spa’s turf training course, fastest of 45 moves at the distance.

With regular rider John Velazquez among those looking on, the 5-year-old Wiseman’s Ferry gelding had many doing double takes at their stopwatches as Lopresti said the handsome chestnut completed the move as if he were merely out for a strong gallop.

“He’s pretty awesome,” Lopresti said via cell phone. “It was faster than we wanted but it was the way he did it. Everyone thought he was just galloping and when the clockers looked at their watches and told me and Johnny, Johnny said ‘No way’. It was just…unbelievable.

“It tells me he was just like he was before and I don’t need to work him too many times, I just need to run him.”

In the Fourstardave, Wise Dan unleashed a monster turn of foot in midstretch as he opened up by five lengths in just a handful of strides. Lopresti said the Grade I Woodbine Mile –  a race he won last year with Turallure – would likely be next for Wise Dan and from there, a decision over whether to stay on the turf for the Breeders’ Cup Mile or take a swing at the Breeders’ Cup Classic would have to be made.

Now a multiple graded stakes winner on turf and synthetics, Wise Dan did earn his lone career Grade I win on the dirt when he took the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs last November and was just inches away from capturing  the Grade I Stephen Foster over the same surface this June. Still, his aptitude on dirt may be the product of sheer raw ability, according to Lopresti as he still feels Morton Fink’s homebred is most naturally gifted on synthetic and grass surfaces.

“I would say if we were ever going to put him on dirt, it either be in the Breeders’ Cup Classic or we would run him in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and then if he came out of it good, run him in the Clark just to prove again that he could win a Grade I on the dirt,” Lopresti said. “I’ve always said he is better on synthetic and grass. From (his victories in) the Firecracker  and the Ben Ali, you watch the way he travels over it and he’s just a different horse”


New Kentucky drug rules go into effect September 4

Effective September 4, two days before the start of the Turfway Park meeting, only Furosemide – the anti bleeder medication commonly known as Lasix or Salix – will be permitted in horses for race-day use in Kentucky.

In a memo released Thursday by Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, the use of adjunct bleeder medications ;like Amicar, Tranex, Estrone, and Kentucky Red will no longer be permitted to be administered with 24 hours of a race. The Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council voted last August to adopt the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium  model rule banning the race-day use of  all adjunct bleeder medications.

The memo goes on to state that horses treated with Lasix must have the drug administered to them in their assigned stall by a KHRC veterinarian between 4 and 4 1/2 hours before the published post time for the race in which the horse is entered. Horses will not be allowed to be treated after the four-hour deadline has passed.

The default dose administered will be 250 mg (5 cc) and it will be the trainer’s responsibility to notify the veterinarian if an alternate dose is to be given. The permitted dose range is 150-500 mg (3-10 cc) and the trainer will also be required to have an attendant with the horse beginning at 45 minutes prior to the horse’s Lasix administration deadline.

A $20 charge for the administration of Lasix will be assessed, but may be reduced after a review of the costs associated with administration.

Royal Delta out to make another statement in Personal Ensign

 Preview courtesy of the NYRA publicity department:


Last year at Saratoga Race Course, Royal Delta bolstered her Eclipse Award credentials with a 5 ½-length win in the Grade I Alabama, and she later sewed up Champion Three-Year-Old Filly honors with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.


On Sunday, Royal Delta will make her first start at Saratoga since the Alabama when she carries high weight of 124 pounds of the Grade I, $600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares.


“We’re happy to give [Royal Delta] another chance back in Saratoga, where she won the Alabama,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. “She seems to be doing fine here and we hope she repeats from a year ago.”


The Personal Ensign could serve as the fourth meeting between Royal Delta and It’s Tricky and the first match between the two in 2012. In 2011, Royal Delta was third to It’s Tricky in the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks only to come back and defeat her rival both in the Alabama and Ladies’ Classic.


After Royal Delta won the Ladies’ Classic, Benjamin Leon of Besilu Stables purchased the daughter of Empire Maker for $8.5 million at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.


In her Besilu debut, Royal Delta chased Awesome Maria to finish a distant second in the Grade III Sabin in February atGulfstream Park, then was one-paced when ninth against males in the Group I Dubai World Cup in March.


The intercontinental sojourn seemed to take nothing out of the 4-year-old, who blitzed her opponents by eight lengths in the Grade II Fleur de Lis in June at Churchill Downs. She had to work harder in her most recent start, moving into a fast pace set by Love and Pride and then staving off a late challenge from Tiz Miz Sue to win the Grade II Delaware Handicap by a neck on July 21. Both Tiz Miz Sue and Love and Pride have been entered back in the Personal Ensign.


“She had to work at it [in the Delaware Handicap], without a doubt,” said Mott. “She had to work early and hang on late. With the difference in weight [nine pounds] she gave to the second horse, she ran quite well. She’s doing well and she’s proven in the past she can run well over this racetrack. She’s high weight, and I suppose she deserves to be.”


Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith has the assignment aboard Royal Delta, the 4-5 favorite, from post position 4.


It’s Tricky also is entered in the Grade I, seven-furlong Ballerina on Friday, and as of Thursday trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and owner Godolphin Racing had not made a final decision on whether she’d compete in that race or the Personal Ensign.


The trainer said Thursday the Personal Ensign remained the more likely spot for It’s Tricky, but added that he needed to discuss the matter with Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford.


It’s Tricky, the 2-1 morning-line second choice for the Personal Ensign, is unbeaten in three starts this year, opening her 4-year-old season with a pair of wins at Aqueduct Racetrack: a 2 ¾-length triumph over Love and Pride in the Grade II Top Flight Handicap in March and a 3 ½-length score cutting back in distance in the Grade II Distaff Handicap in April. She is unraced since she wore down Cash for Clunkers to take the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap by three-quarters of a length on May 28 at Belmont Park but has trained steadily at Belmont and the Greentree Training Center adjacent to Saratoga Race Course since that race.


“We have her coming back at 1 1/8 miles, and she hasn’t raced in three months,” noted McLaughlin. “Hopefully we’ll have her tight enough. She’s training well and is coming into the race in great shape. We’re ready to go.”


It’s Tricky, who usually stalks the pace, drew post position 1, directly inside front runners Brushed by a Star and Love and Pride.


“We might have a slight pace edge over Royal Delta,” said McLaughlin. “Being that we’re in the one hole, we’ll be forwardly placed. There will probably be one or two outside who will go out and clear us. We’ll see if they can. We’ll let [jockey] Eddie [Castro] sort it out.”


Despite the formidable presence of Royal Delta and It’s Tricky, McLaughlin did not want to concede the Personal Ensign to the favorites as it also drew Tiz Miz Sue and Love and Pride, second and fourth in the Delaware Handicap; and Brushed by a Star and R Gypsy Gold, first and third in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher.


“[Royal Delta and It’s Tricky are] the two most accomplished runners in the field, but there are some other nice fillies in there,” said McLaughlin.


Tiz Miz Sue seeks her first win since a three-length decision in the Grade III Azeri in March at Oaklawn Park. Since that race, she has finished third in Oaklawn’s Grade I Apple Blossom Handicap in April and second in both the Grade III Obeah in June and the Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park.


In the Del ‘Cap, Tiz Miz Sue raced in fifth through six furlongs, came to Royal Delta’s flank in the stretch, and could get no closer than a neck to the eventual winner.


“She ran a huge race; that’s all there is to it,” said trainer Steve Hobby of Tiz Miz Sue’s performance. “She was training well, and we got nine pounds from [Royal Delta in the Delaware Handicap].”


The spread will remain nine pounds as Tiz Miz Sue was assigned 115 for the Personal Ensign. She’ll leave from post 6 with Joseph Rocco, Jr. aboard at 6-1 on the morning line.



The field for the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational Handicap:

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer Odds
1 It’s Tricky (KY) E Castro 123 K P McLaughlin  2-1
2 Brushed by a Star (KY) C S Nakatani 118 G T Forster 15-1
3 Love and Pride (KY) J R Velazquez 114 T A Pletcher 12-1
4 Royal Delta (KY) M E Smith 124 W I Mott  4-5
5 R Gypsy Gold (KY) J Castellano 115 T A Pletcher 15-1
6 Tiz Miz Sue (KY) J Rocco, Jr. 115 S Hobby  6-1


Frankel gives performance for the ages in Juddmonte International (with video link)

The racing world is running out of questions for champion Frankel to give an answer to.

Juddmonte Farm’s brilliant son of Galileo, widely regarded as the best race horse in the world, remained unbeaten in 13 career starts and earned his first win going beyond a mile when he drew off with ease to take the Group I Juddmonte International at York by seven lengths over Farhh on Wednesday.

For everything Frankel has ticked off on his unblemished resume, how the 4-year-old bay colt would handle a significant route of ground was about the only lingering doubt anyone could muster. Like the majority of his rivals, the about 1 5/16-miles distance of the Juddmonte International proved no challenge for the all-time great as Frankel kicked clear up on the nearside rail under only a shake of the reins from jockey Tom Queally, barely drawing a hard breath as he notched his ninth Group I triumph.

“It was great wasn’t it?,” Sir Henry Cecil, trainer of Frankel,  told Racing Post. “It is great for Yorkshire, they are great supporters of racing and they deserved to see him.”

Frankel tracked along about sixth in the nine-horse field as Robin Hood set the early pace with Windsor Palace just behind. The magnificent turn of foot Frankel has displayed throughout his career left the likes of Group I winners St Nicholas Abbey and Twice Over toiling behind him, with the former getting up for third.

For those who missed Frankel’s latest masterclass, here is the YouTube video link:

Champion Hansen out of Travers, likely retired

Last year’s champion juvenile Hansen has been ruled out of consideration for this Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Travers at Saratoga Race Course and will likely be retired after suffering a tear in his left front tendon, majority owner and breeder Dr. Kendall Hansen said Wednesday.

Dr. Hansen said the son of Tapit has about a 20 percent tear of the tendon and that, while he would seek other opinions and treatment options before making a final decision, he believes his homebred champion is done with racing.

“It’s a typical type tendon injury where if he was nice claiming horse, you’d give him six months and see how it looks,” Dr. Hansen said. “But it’s a different ball game I guess when you’re looking at potential stallions. It’s really sad, I was looking forward to running him in these upcoming races and if we were winging away on the front end of the Travers, it would have been fun to see.

“It’s swollen bad today so we’ll see what it looks like when the swelling is out of it,” he continued. “I don’t want him to come back and be 95 percent, I want him to be 100 percent.”

Following a ninth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Hansen came back to win the Grade III Iowa Derby by ten lengths on June 30 – his second Grade III win this season. The gray colt was then upset in the Grade II West Virginia Derby on August 4, finishing fourth after getting caught up in a pace duel with Hero of Order, and his subsequent workout may have suggested to his owner that something not right was festering.

“I have my suspicions because he ran so poorly in that race and he should have dominated (the West Virginia Derby),” Dr. Hansen said. “In his workout, even when (trainer) Mike Maker just wants him to do an easy maintenance work, he’ll usually go in 1:01 for five furlongs and his last work was in 1:02 and change. Everything looked normal though, he’s never had a sore day in his life. It was just out of the blue.”

Dr. Hansen added that while he has been in contact with about four or five stud farms, no deal on Hansen’s stallion career has been made yet.

“Nothing really got serious because we made it clear we wanted to run him as a 4-year-old and maybe beyond that,” Dr. Hansen said.

Owned by Dr. Hansen and Skychai Racing, Hansen was undefeated in three starts as a 2-year-old including a win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. This year he won the Grade III Gotham in addition to the Iowa Derby to give him five victories from nine career starts and $1,810,805 in earnings.


Hansen’s injury comes one day after it was announced that Grade I winner Bodemeister, the runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, was retired to WinStar Farm with a shoulder injury. Of the top ten finishers in this year’s Kentucky Derby, only Grade I winners Dullahan (3rd) and Liaison (6th) Rousing Sermon (8th) and Daddy Nose Best (10th) are actively in training.


Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another was retired a day before the Belmont Stakes with a tendon injury and Belmont winner Union Rags was retired last month due to an injured suspensory. Went the Day Well, fourth in the Derby, is out for the year with bone bruising while Creative Cause has not raced or had a published workout since finishing third in the Preakness Stakes.

“This was a deep crop going into the Derby and now who’s left,” Dr. Hansen said. “It’s Liaison, Alpha, maybe (Wood Memorial winner) Gemologist is still out there. They’re dropping like flies and I was actually glad to be carrying on. It’s just horrible. I had already made up my mind we were going to run as a 4-year-old.”


Dams of I’ll Have Another, Bodemeister to be offered at Fasig-Tipton November

The producers of the top two finishers in this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes will each be offered at the Fasig-Tipton November sale,  it was announced on Tuesday.

Arch’s Gal Edith, dam of dual classic winner I’ll Have Another, and Untouched Talent, dam of newly-retired Grade I Arkansas Derby winner Bodemeister, will both be consigned by the Seitz family’s Brookdale Farm. Arch’s Gal Edith is currently in foal to champion and Castleton Lyons sire Gio Ponti while Untouched Talent is carrying a foal by Taylor Made stallion Unbridled’s Song.

Arch’s Gal Edith is owned by Harvey Clarke and resides at Brookdale. Untouched Talent is owned by Audley Farm.

“They’re both long-term clients and valued friends,” Joe Seitz said of the owners of the two mares. “We’re honored they have entrusted us with these two wonderful, young mares. The timing is perfect, they are both in foal to very exciting stallions and we are looking forward to a big night for both mares.”

The Fasig-Tipton sale takes place on November 5.


Grade I winner Bodemeister retired

Grade I winner Bodemeister has been retired to stand stud at WinStar Farm after being diagnosed with a nerve injury to his left shoulder, his connections announced on Tuesday.

The son of Empire Maker had not run since his runner-up finish to I’ll Have Another in the Preakness Stakes and was sent to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital last week for an examination after trainer Bob Baffert was not satisfied with the way the colt had been training.  Bodemeister has begun treatment and a full recovery is expected in the coming months, but the Arkansas Derby winner would not have been able to return in time for major races at the end of 2012.


Bodemeister has a peripheral nerve injury which caused atrophy of the infraspinatus muscle in his left shoulder,” said Dr. Larry Bramlage, specialist from Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. “Obviously, this made us look at something unusual, rather than a normal lameness. His legs are perfect, but he was clinical when jogging to the left. After ruling out neck issues with X-rays and a myelogram, we feel confident in the diagnosis. It will take approximately 60 days to heal.”

According to Baffert, the injury likely occurred a couple of weeks ago at Del Mar when Bodemeister stumbled significantly during routine training. It was enough to throw his exercise rider to the ground. “He was just never quite right after that and we couldn’t figure out what was going on with him,” said Baffert. “It’s extremely unfortunate. We wanted to win the Breeders’ Cup with him.”

Bodemeister becomes the latest high profile member of this year’s 3-year-old crop to have his career come to a premature end. I’ll Have Another, who was on the verge of a Triple Crown after winning the first two legs, was retired one day before the Belmont Stakes with a tendon injury while eventual Belmont winner Union Rags was retired last month due to a suspensory injury.

Of the top two finishers in each Triple Crown race this year, only Belmont runner-up Paynter is still currently in training.

Initial plans are for Bodemeister to rehabilitate through mid-October at WinStar before being available for inspection by breeders.

The positive thing is that we now know what the issue is and it’s treatable. Bodemeister will be back to full health,” said Elliott Walden, President & CEO at WinStar. “Unfortunately, he would not be able to come back as a racehorse in time to make any of the year-end goals such as the Breeders’ Cup, so Mr. Zayat, Mr. Moreno and myself came to the conclusion that it was best to retire him. With his raw speed, four Beyers over 100, Empire Maker killing it, and his good looks, we think Bodemeister is the best stallion prospect this year, and we’re looking ahead to what we believe will be an exciting future at stud for Bodemeister.”

The heralded runner-up in this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Bodemeister  became the favorite for the Kentucky Derby after his runaway 9 1/2-length victory in the Grade I Arkansas Derby  in April. The Arkansas Derby represented  just the fourth career start for Bodemeister – who did not race at 2 – and came after he ran second in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes in March.

You must always put the horse first, and it is in Bodemeister’s best interest to retire at this time,” said majority owner Ahmed Zayat. “The sportsman in me is very disappointed, because the sky was the limit for his racing career. He is the most brilliant horse that I’ve had the privilege of owning, and my family and I will miss him thrilling us in the afternoons. But every end is a new beginning, and we’ll now look forward with great anticipation to racing little Bodes in the future.”

Bodemeister, who hails from the graded stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Untouched Talent, retires with earnings of $1,304,800 for owners Zayat Stables LLC and Mike & Tiffany Moreno.

Bodemeister gave me and my family the thrill of a lifetime in the Classics this year,” Mike Moreno added. “I decided to invest in him prior to the Derby because of his exquisite talent and pedigree, and although this injury kept us from fulfilling all of our dreams on the track, I look forward to supporting him in his next career.”

A stud fee will be announced at a later date.

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