Archive for July, 2013

Keeneland catalogs 3,908 for September yearling sale

A total of  3,908 yearlings have been cataloged for Keeneland’s reformatted edition of the 2013 September Yearling Sale, to be held September 9-21.


The total number of horses  is up from the 3,604 horses cataloged for the  2012 September Yearling Sale, which produced double-digit gains in both average and median.


This year’s two-week September Sale has been reformatted to reflect three distinct market segments, with the Book 1 portion of the catalog now spanning the  four days with 875 yearlings cataloged.


Following the traditional dark day on Friday, selling will resume with Book 2 sessions held Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. each day, and Books 3-5 spanning Monday through Friday


“We strive to continually adapt the September Sale to meet the current needs of our consignors, and to facilitate the sales process so that we engage buyers from beginning to end,” said Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell. “We believe these changes will aid consignors in marketing their horses to their fullest potential, and allow buyers to better navigate today’s competitive marketplace.”


Yearlings representing 239 of the world’s leading sires have been cataloged, among them being Arch, Awesome Again, Curlin, Distorted Humor, Duke of Marmalade, Dynaformer, Elusive Quality, Fastnet Rock, Galileo, Ghostzapper, Giant’s Causeway, Hard Spun, Harlan’s Holiday, Henrythenavigator, High Chaparral, Iffraaj, Indian Charlie, Invincible Spirit, Kitten’s Joy, Lemon Drop Kid, Majestic Warrior, Malibu Moon, Medaglia d’Oro, Midnight Lute, More Than Ready, Pulpit, Raven’s Pass, Scat Daddy, Sea The Stars, Sky Mesa, Speightstown, Stormy Atlantic, Street Cry, Street Sense, Tale of the Cat, Tapit, Tiznow, Unbridled’s Song, and War Front.

Also cataloged are yearlings by such exciting freshman stallions as Blame, Desert Party, Discreetly Mine, Eskendereya, Lookin At Lucky, Majesticperfection, Makfi, Munnings, Quality Road, Super Saver, Tale of Ekati and Warrior’s Reward.


Of the total 3,908 yearlings cataloged, 2,031 are colts, 1,875 are fillies, one is a gelding and one is a ridgling. To date, 76 September Sale graduates have won 104 graded/group stakes, headlined by 19 Grade/Group I stakes winners.


“The September Sale is the one sale that shapes the sport,” said Keeneland Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson. “September Sale graduates have competed in 42 of the 47 Grade I stakes held in North America so far this year. Buyers who want to compete at the highest levels shop the September Sale.”


September Sales catalogs will be available online at beginning Tuesday, August 6. Print catalogs will be mailed the week of August 19.

Keeneland will provide live coverage of the entire September Sale at

Churchill Downs announces plans for Grandstand Terrace, Rooftop Garden

Churchill Downs Racetrack officially announced Tuesday plans for a new renovation project that will feature the creation of a Grandstand Terrace, a venue that will offer nearly 2,400 new seats on the second and third floors and significantly expand and update restrooms, wagering windows and food and beverage offerings available to Grandstand patrons.


The Grandstand Terrace project also features the addition of the Rooftop Garden, a hospitality lounge area for VIP guests.


The Grandstand Terrace Project was approved by the Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”) Board of Directors on Monday, July 29.   The venue and its amenities will be available for the 140th Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 2, 2014 and the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 3, 2014.


This year’s Kentucky Oaks and Derby featured the debut of The Mansion, a $9 million renovation project that transformed  the 6th floor of the Clubhouse – an area that previously served as the track’s media center – into a luxury venue.


The new seating is part of a $14.5 million renovation which includes 51,000 square feet of completely new space located behind and adjacent to the track’s current Grandstand seats that overlook the Kentucky Derby starting gate at the head of the homestretch. The number of restrooms, wagering windows and food and beverage stations will be significantly increased in that area of the Grandstand. An additional 14,000 square feet in the Grandstand is being renovated as part of this project.


Churchill Downs has invested more than $150 million in renovations and improvements to its historic facility since late 2001, but there have been no major improvement projects in that area of the Grandstand during that period.


The improved facilities and amenities will be accessible to patrons in more than 20,000 seats – approximately 37 percent of the track’s reserved seating – on Derby and Oaks Days.


“The Grandstand Terrace and Rooftop Garden offer a rare opportunity to create new seating for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, but it’s even more exciting because the new and updated amenities will significantly improve the experience for a large percentage of fans that join us in the Grandstand for this great sports and entertainment spectacle,” Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack, said in a release. “The new and renovated concessions, restrooms and wagering locations will be conveniently accessible for all of our Grandstand patrons. The result will be improved service and a more enjoyable experience during the premier weekend in American racing.


“We surveyed our Grandstand patrons during the 2013 Kentucky Derby and Oaks and the improvement and expansion of concessions, wagering and restroom facilities were at the top of their list of recommendations. Along with enhancing our Kentucky Derby and Oaks experience, we believe the unique Grandstand Terrace and Rooftop Garden will be popular venues for family celebrations and other social gatherings and present another entertainment option at our historic track.”


The new seats created by the project will lift Churchill Downs’ overall seating capacity to 55,638 permanent seats for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks. The addition to Grandstand seating will be the first since the introduction of the Jockey Club Suites in three new floors of Grandstand space that opened in September, 2003. The addition of new seating is the first on the Grandstand’s second and third floors since 1953.


The Grandstand Terrace will include six new reserved seating sections on the second and third floors of the Grandstand and approximately 24,000 square feet of mostly covered space on the second floor that will offer food and beverage stations, wagering positions and restroom access. The new sections 226, 227 and 228 on the second floor will feature traditional bleacher seating, while third-floor sections 326, 327 and 328 will offer stadium-style, flip-up seats similar to seating offered for the Derby and Oaks in Churchill Downs’ Section 110 on the track’s first turn. In addition to the Grandstand Terrace, the Rooftop Garden will add 13,000 square feet that will feature table seating and a VIP section for Derby and Oaks.


Nine new restrooms – which include 350 new fixtures – are part of the Grandstand Terrace project, and many other restrooms are being completely updated.


The new venue also includes a 10,000-square-foot food and beverage plaza located near the Rooftop Garden and new reserved seating.


Most of the new seats in the Grandstand Terrace will be available for purchase during Churchill Downs’ online sale of tickets to the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Oaks in November. Those who wish to participate in that sale must register online by Thursday, Oct. 31.


Pricing for seating in the new Churchill Downs venue is being finalized.


Registrants for this year’s sale will be notified via e-mail prior to the November sale with details of the 2014 Derby and Oaks ticket offering.


One portion of the existing Grandstand set to be razed to make way for the new Grandstand Terrace will be preserved and integrated into the Grandstand terrace. A 50’ x 100’ section of rooftop in the rear of the Grandstand, which served as the roof of the track’s paddock in the early part of the 20th century, will serve as the roof that covers the largest portion of the Grandstand Terrace. It’s unclear exactly when that structure was built, but horses were saddled in that paddock prior to the building of a new paddock near the Clubhouse in 1924. The approximately century-old roof and frame will be elevated to cover approximately 5,500 square feet of the second-floor Grandstand Terrace.


Demolition of portions of the Grandstand that will be cleared to make way for the new structure is scheduled to begin on Thursday, Aug. 1.


Preakness winner Oxbow recovering from ankle injury; Pletcher loaded for Travers assault

Courtesy of NYRA publicity team

Preakness winner Oxbow emerged from his fourth-place finish in Sunday’s Haskell with a soft-tissue injury, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas reported Monday morning.


Oxbow returned on Monday to Lukas’ barn at the Oklahoma training track, where his progress will be closely monitored. He was pulled up shortly after crossing the wire in the Haskell.


“The X-rays were all perfectly clean,” Lukas said. “It’s what you guys would call an ankle sprain, it looks like. I was more concerned with a condylar [fracture] or something like that but, boy, he had a pretty set of X-rays. It’s amazing. For a horse with that many (starts), they were really clean.”


Ridden by Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, Oxbow led through fractions of 23.90 and 48.22 seconds, going six furlongs in 1:12.43 before dropping back. He managed to hang on for fourth, a head in front of Pick of the Litter.


“He just wasn’t traveling comfortably,” Lukas said. “Gary overreacted probably a little bit, but the good thing is we X-rayed him from top to bottom and everything’s clean. (Stevens) thought at the half-mile that he was starting to get uncomfortable, and he just kind of held him from there.”


Lukas was unsure of the timetable for Oxbow’s return, leaving his status for the Grade I Travers at Saratoga on August 24 uncertain. Sixth in the Kentucky Derby, he finished second to Palace Malice in the Belmont Stakes.


“You never know,” Lukas said. “Horses react differently to different situations. After seeing everything yesterday, I felt comfortable in that I didn’t rule out the Travers, but that’s probably the reality of it. I would say the fall and looking toward the Breeders’ Cup seems reasonable.”


Lukas expects to be represented in the Travers by Grade II winner Will Take Charge, who ran second to Palace Malice in Saturday’s Grade II Jim Dandy at Saratoga.


Former Lukas protege Todd Pletcher figures to have a strong hand for the Travers after sweeping both major preps over the weekend.


Pletcher was back in Saratoga on Monday morning after saddling Verrazano to a record-setting 9 ¾-length victory in Sunday’s Grade I $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park. On Saturday, Palace Malice followed up his impressive Belmont Stakes victory in June with an emphatic triumph in the $600,000 Jim Dandy.


“We’re fortunate to have two such outstanding colts,” Pletcher said. “You hate to run horses against each other from the same barn, but in this case I think it’s the logical case for both horses and both owners. We’ll see how they both come back and both train, but right now it certainly looks like they’re likely to show up in the Travers.”


Pletcher won the Travers with Flower Alley in 2005 and Stay Thirsty in 2011. Verrazano returned to Pletcher’s Saratoga barn Monday morning.


“He shipped back great and looks really good this morning,” Pletcher said. “It was a powerful performance. The Pegasus, with the misfortune of Itsmyluckyday getting hurt, kind of left everyone not knowing how well he ran. I think he put any questions about that to rest yesterday.”


Pletcher won four stakes over the weekend, including the Grade II, $200,000 Amsterdam with Forty Tales and the $100,000 Sir Cat with Winning Cause, both Sunday at Saratoga. Forty Tales is likely to come back in the Grade I, $500,000 King’s Bishop on the Travers undercard.


“It was a great weekend. We’re blessed to have some pretty talented horses,” Pletcher said. “(Forty Tales) has really found his niche. He’s a tough little horse that keeps delivering one good performance after another.


“Winning Cause ran very well,” he added. “We started him on the turf here last year because we thought he showed improvement when we breezed him over the turf. His first two starts, maybe he just needed a little time to get it together. That was a good effort for him yesterday.”


One of the many horses Pletcher breezed on Monday was reigning juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby,  who was timed in 38.95 seconds for three furlongs by NYRA clockers on the main track.


Owned by Starlight Partners, Shanghai Bobby has been out of action since being diagnosed with a slight pelvic stress fracture following his fifth-place finish in the Grade I Florida Derby on March 30. He returned to light training after a June 4 ultrasound exam of the area came back clean.


“It was his first work back, and it went very well,” Pletcher said. “It was just an easy three-eighths. It was nice to get him back on the work tab. He went just nice and easy by himself, just getting him back into a routine. He did exactly what we were hoping he would do, and seemed to handle it well.”


Shanghai Bobby won all five of his starts in 2012, including the Hopeful at Saratoga, the Grade I Champagne at Belmont Park and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. He is 0-for-2 this year, also finishing second in the Grade 2 Holy Bull.


“Now, we’ll kind of start to pick it up gradually as we go along,” Pletcher said. “Basically, he’ll be on a weekly work schedule from here, but I don’t see him making a race here at Saratoga.”


Before Palace Malice won the Jim Dandy and Verrazano took the Haskell, Kentucky Derby winner Orb took another step toward the Travers when he worked a half-mile on Saturday at the training center in Fair Hill, Md. in 48 1/5 seconds.


The work was Orb’s fourth since his third-place finish behind winner Palace Malice in the Belmont Stakes, and Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said he is pleased with the way the Malibu Moon colt is coming up to the “Mid-Summer Derby.”


“It was foggy, so I didn’t see too much, but I liked what I did see,” he said. “It was very good, and he seemed to come out of it good.”


McGaughey said he was impressed by the performances of the Todd Pletcher-trained Palace Malice and Verrazano.


“I thought Verrazano ran great,” he said. “The races were good.”


While the 3-year-olds held the spotlight this past weekend, the handicap division will command attention this Saturday with the Grade I Whitney Handicap Invitational on tap. Defending race winner Fort Larned indicated his readiness for Saturday’s 86th edition of the race with a bullet five-furlong breeze Monday morning.


NYRA clockers caught the 5-year-old bay son of E Dubai going five-eighths in 1:00.71 on the main track under regular rider Brian Hernandez, Jr., the fastest of 31 works at the distance.


“Everything went good; we’re very happy,” said Ian Wilkes, who trains Fort Larned for owner Janis Whitham. “It was just how he did it. It was a little crisp work, just the right way. I put a horse out there in front for him. I didn’t want to hurt the other horse … but I wanted something for him to look at.”


Discovery, who won three consecutive Whitneys from 1934-36 when it was contested at 1 ¼ miles, is the only horse to win the race in successive years. Hall of Famer Kelso (1961, 1963, 1965) and New York-bred Commentator (2005, 2008) are the only other horses to win the Whitney more than once.


Fort Larned won the 2012 Whitney, run at 1 1/8 miles since 1955, in 1:47.76, beating Ron the Greek by 1 ¼ lengths.


“It would be special,” Wilkes said. “I’m fortunate enough to train a few horses for Marylou Whitney, which would make it even more special.”


This year, Fort Larned stumbled and lost his rider in his debut, the Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap in March, then was fifth, beaten 10 ½ lengths, in the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap on April 13.


Given a freshening, Fort Larned came back to wire the field in Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap on June 15 at Churchill Downs, his most recent race.


“I feel good,” Wilkes said. “I think he’s a more mature horse right now; he’s more battle-tested. He’s run some huge races against some of the best competition.”


The post-position draw for the Whitney will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Saratoga paddock. Also expected to be entered are Alpha, Cross Traffic, Csaba, Fast Falcon, Mucho Macho Man and Successful Dan.


Grade I winner Take Charge Indy retired to WinStar Farm

Grade I winner and millionaire Take Charge Indy was retired from racing Monday after undergoing surgery to repair his left foreleg resulting from an injury sustained in Sunday’s Grade II Monmouth Cup at Monmouth Park. The son of A.P. Indy will stand at WinStar Farm for the 2014 breeding season.
“I was on the lead with a big smile on my face. He was cruising. The only question was how much would he win by,” said Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens.
Immediately after the race, the 4-year-old colt was shipped to nearby Hogan Equine. Dr. Patty Hogan successfully performed a 30-minute procedure on Take Charge Indy Monday morning. He has come out of the surgery in good condition.
“It’s unbelievable how classy this horse is,” said Dr. Hogan. “The surgery went very well. He’s a super patient.”
A graded stakes horse at 2, 3, and 4, Take Charge Indy broke his maiden by an impressive 6 1/2 lengths at Arlington Park in his 2-year-old debut. The dark bay colt became a leading Kentucky Derby contender when he led every point of call to defeat fellow Grade I winner Union Rags in last year’s Grade I Florida Derby by a length at Gulfstream Park. Following a 19th place finish in the 2012 Kentucky Derby, it was discovered that the colt suffered a left front ankle injury that required surgery in order to remove a chip.

Take Charge Indy returned at the end of 2012 and finished second against older horses in the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. He scored his lone win this year when he took the Grade II Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs by six lengths on May 3.

“We purchased Take Charge Indy because of his gene pool. Considering he might be the last great son of A.P. Indy, his mother winning three Grade 1’s, and he being a Grade 1 winner as well, we feel he has a tremendous chance at stud,” said WinStar Farm President & CEO Elliott Walden. “When I first went to see him, I thought I was looking at A.P. Indy himself.”
Take Charge Indy retires with three wins from 14 starts and $1,103,496 in earnings.
Out of three-time Grade I winner and millionaire Take Charge Lady, Take Charge Indy is a half brother to Grade II winner Will Take Charge, who ran second in the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes this past Saturday. His stud fee will be announced at a later date.

Another jaw-dropping breeze for HOY Wise Dan

Courtesy of NYRA publicity team
Horse of the Year Wise Dan went out to the Oklahoma turf course Saturday morning for what likely will be his only work for the Grade II, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on August 10.

Under regular exercise rider Damien Rock, Wise Dan hit the turf course at 9:45 a.m., with trainer Charlie LoPresti watching, and unleashed a sensational five-furlong work in 57.38 seconds. NYRA clockers caught Morton Fink’s homebred 6-year-old gelding galloping out six furlongs in 1:09.16 and seven in 1:22.56. His opening three-eighths fraction was 34 4/5 seconds.


“I never in my life had a horse like this,” LoPresti said afterward. “People don’t believe me when I tell them, but he’s a freak of nature, this horse.”


Wise Dan had a one-mile blowout on the main track last week, but LoPresti considered this Wise Dan’s first significant drill since the Grade II Firecracker on June 29 at Churchill Downs. LoPresti had not wanted a work quite that fast, but he had no complaints afterward.


“He was never asked for anything, I’ll tell you,” LoPresti said. “I would have liked for him to have gone in a minute, but that turf is not real soft right now. But I don’t worry about him. He does what he wants to do. He’s a horse that does it the way he wants to do it. You can’t make him do things you want him to do. If he had worked real slow, I might have had to come back and do something else, but this looks like it’s going to put me right where I want to be.”


Rock marveled after the workout, saying despite his extensive experience, Wise Dan continues to surprise him.


“He’s so hard to judge; he’s got that huge stride,” Rock said. “Once he starts going 11s (seconds) like that, you pretty much have to sit there and let him go because that’s when he’s comfortable.


“For me, clocking in my head over the year, I feel like I’m going closer to 59 on him, and then you come back and hear the time. Every time I go out on him on the grass, I feel like I know him more and I’ve gotten closer to (hitting the scheduled time), and it’s like his stride has gotten bigger this year. This year, he’s been flying over the track from Day 1. He just feels like a powerhouse underneath me.”

For video of Wise Dan’s five-furlong breeze Saturday morning please visit:

Leading sire Unbridled’s Song euthanized at age 20

Unbridled’s Song, the flagship stallion of Taylor Made Farm and one of the industry’s leading sires,  was euthanized Friday due to a rapid decline in his health as a result of a large mass present in multiple sinus cavities and around the optic nerves.
The 20-year-old son of Unbridled began exhibiting acute neurological signs Thursday morning, July 25th, and was transported to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. Based on the results on an MRI, it was determined the mass was invasive and aggressive in nature and deemed inoperable.
Unbridled’s Song stood his entire career at Taylor Made Stallions in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
“Unbridled’s Song was majestic from the beginning. Rarely are there horses that are supposed to be great from the beginning and actually are,” said Taylor Made President & CEO Duncan Taylor. “Unbridled’s Song was one of those great horses. He had it all — looks, pedigree, speed, and presence.
“Our team loved him from the beginning. I appreciate and am proud of the job our team did with the management of this magnificent horse. I would also like to thank the breeders and owners who supported and helped him become a great stallion.”
From 14 crops of progeny to race, Unbridled’s Song has sired 730 winners from just over 1000 lifetime starters to date, with nearly $90 million in career progeny earnings. Earlier in 2013, his leading older horse Graydar impressively captured the  Grade I Donn Handicap at Gulfstream, giving Unbridled’s Song 100 career stakes winners as a sire – a landmark of triple-digit stakes winners that only 26 other stallions in North American history have accomplished.
Among Unbridled’s Song’s 100 stakes winners are 45 Graded stakes winners and 15 Grade 1 winners, including siring at least one Grade 1 winner for 12 straight years. He has three Breeders’ Cup winners, including 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic victress Unrivaled Belle, 2001 Breeders’ Cup Distaff  winner Unbridled Elaine, and 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile  winner Midshipman, the Eclipse Champion 2-Year-Old Colt that year.
As a racehorse, Unbridled’s Song was also top class. The most accomplished son of Unbridled, the talented gray earned respect as a leading 2-year-old and 3-year-old of his generation. He captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at two before going on to win the Florida Derby  and Wood Memorial  at three. Unbridled’s Song earned $1,311,800 before retiring to stud at Taylor Made in 1997.
Unbridled’s Song proved to be one of the most popular commercial sires of all time. His $298,118 lifetime yearling average is best among all North American sires and ranks third all-time in North America among sires by gross yearling sales with $198,844,653 in gross sales.
Sons of Unbridled’s Song at stud already include Grade 1-producing sires Even the Score, First Defence, etc, and his daughters have ranked him among the top broodmare sires, having produced many Grade 1 winners internationally.
Bred in Kentucky by Mandysland Farm out of the Caro  mare Trolley Song, Unbridled’s Song had recently completed the 2013 breeding season at Taylor Made Stallions.

Keeneland Fall stakes schedule worth more than $4.6 million; Purse for G1 First Lady increased

Keeneland release:

A total of 17 stakes – six of which are Grade 1 races – worth $4.625 million in purse money will headline Keeneland’s 2013 fall race meeting, to be held October 4-26, the track announced Thursday.


The fall meeting, which opens with the prestigious Fall Stars Weekend, is among the richest in the country with purses averaging approximately $600,000 per day, attracting the nation’s leading owners, trainers and jockeys and showcasing many Breeders’ Cup-bound horses.


Prize money has been increased in 2013 for two Fall Stars Weekend stakes: the purse for the opening-day Grade III Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix, a six-furlong event for 3-year-olds and up, has been raised from $175,000 to $200,000 this fall, while the purse for the Grade I First Lady, a one-mile turf race for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and older on October 5, is up $50,000 to $400,000.


Also new this fall will be Hagyard Equine Medical Institute’s sponsorship of the closing day Grade II Fayette Stakes, a 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and up. Purse money for the Hagyard Fayette has been increased $50,000 to $200,000.


“The fall meet is so special for our fans because they get to see horses who are campaigning for year-end honors; athletes that are truly at the top of their game,” said Rogers Beasley, Keeneland’s Vice President of Racing. “Both our stakes and overnight racing programs continue to thrive, and that is made possible by the great partnership with have with our horsemen and our fans.”


Headlining Fall Stars Weekend, October 4-6, are nine graded stakes worth $3.15 million. Five Fall Stars stakes are Grade I events – the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades, for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, on October 4; the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile, for 3-year-olds and up, the $400,000 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity, for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, and the aforementioned First Lady, all held October 5; and the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster, for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on October 6.


A sixth Grade I stakes, the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, an internationally renowned invitational for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the turf, will be contested Saturday, October 12.


Eight Keeneland stakes are part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series of automatic qualifying races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to be held November 1-2 at Santa Anita Park.


Seven of those Breeders’ Cup Challenge stakes highlight Fall Stars Weekend: the Darley Alcibiades (a Challenge race for the Juvenile Fillies) and Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (Sprint) on October 4; the Shadwell Turf Mile (Mile), Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (Juvenile) and Thoroughbred Club of America  (Filly & Mare Sprint) on October 5; and the Juddmonte Spinster (Ladies’ Classic) and Bourbon  on October 6.


The Grade III JPMorgan Chase Jessamine, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge stakes for the Juvenile Fillies Turf,  has been moved up one day on the race schedule to Wednesday, October 9.


Keeneland’s fall stakes have been a springboard to success for a number of Breeders’ Cup champions. Last fall, Morton Fink’s homebred gelding Wise Dan romped to a 2¼-length win in the Shadwell Turf Mile as a prelude to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and eventual Horse of the Year honors.


The Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes has produced the past four winners of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint – champion Informed Decision (2009), Dubai Majesty (2010), champion Musical Romance (2011), and champion Groupie Doll (2012).



Keeneland 2013 Fall Stakes Schedule


Date          Stakes                                                                    Division              Distance


Oct. 4         $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1)*                           2YO Fillies           1 1/16 Miles


Oct. 4         $200,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G3)*        3YOs & Up         6 Furlongs


Oct. 5         $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1)*                        3YOs & Up         1 Mile (T)


Oct. 5         $400,000 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1)*            2YOs                  1 1/16 Miles


Oct. 5         $400,000 First Lady (G1)                                        3YOs & Up, F&M   1 Mile (T)


Oct. 5         $200,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2)*    3YOs & Up, F&M   6 Furlongs


Oct. 5         $150,000 Woodford (G3) Presented by

                  Keeneland Select                                                   3YOs & Up         5½ Furlongs (T)


Oct. 6         $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1)*                       3YOs & Up, F&M   1 1/8 Miles


Oct. 6         $150,000 Bourbon (G3)*                                         2YOs                  1 1/16 Miles (T)


Oct. 9         $150,000 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3)*           2YO Fillies           1 1/16 Miles (T)


Oct. 11       $100,000 Buffalo Trace Franklin County (L)          3YOs & Up, F&M   5½ Furlongs (T)


Oct. 12       $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) 3YO Fillies           1 1/8 Miles (T)

Oct. 17       $100,000 Sycamore (G3)                                         3YOs & Up         1½ Miles (T)


Oct. 18       $150,000 Pin Oak Valley View (G3)                       3YO Fillies           1 1/16 Miles (T)


Oct. 19       $250,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2)                           3YO Fillies           7 Furlongs


Oct. 20       $125,000 Rood & Riddle Dowager (L)                  3YOs & Up, F&M   1½ Miles (T)


Oct. 26       $200,000 Hagyard Fayette (G2)                             3YOs & Up         1 1/8 Miles


*Denotes Breeders’ Cup Challenge stakes


Wise Dan, Successful Dan breeze at Saratoga; Fort Larned on track for Whitney defense

Courtesy of NYRA publicity team

After Wise Dan and Successful Dan turned in separate Saturday breezes at Saratoga Race Course, trainer Charles LoPresti said he now has a better idea of where he’ll run the half-brothers during the 2013 race meet.


Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan remains on course for a title defense in the Grade II Fourstardave Handicap on August 10, while Successful Dan is now under consideration for the Grade I, $750,000, Whitney Invitational Handicap on August 3, according to LoPresti, who trains the geldings for Morton Fink.


Exercise rider Damien Rock was aboard for both workouts, with Wise Dan breezing four furlongs in 51.24 seconds over a main track labeled “good” and Successful Dan earning a bullet for his five-furlong breeze in 1:00.61 after the track had been upgraded to “fast.”


Successful Dan, a four-time graded stakes winner, was fourth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 15 at Churchill Downs in his most recent start.


“I was really on the fence what to do with [Successful Dan] after he got up here,” said LoPresti of the 7-year-old. “His race in the Foster was kind of a question. He had never been beat at Churchill. A lot of those horses didn’t show up that night. [The winner] Fort Larned ran a great race, but the rest of the horses – Ron the Greek and Take Charge Indy – didn’t run their races. Royal Delta didn’t run her race over that track [second  in the Grade II Fleur de Lis Handicap]. [Jockey Julien Leparoux] told me [Successful Dan] was having trouble getting hold of the ground, so I drew a line through it.”


Successful Dan’s breeze Saturday impressed LoPresti sufficiently for the trainer to consider the Whitney. The trainer had hoped to run Successful Dan in the Whitney last year before the gelding was forced to miss the race with a strained XYZ ligament.


“That was our plan last year, but it went south on us because of injuries,” said LoPresti. “This horse has been plagued by injuries that keep him from being the same caliber as Wise Dan.”


LoPresti spoke in glowing terms when describing Wise Dan’s breeze.


“We didn’t go fast by design,” said LoPresti. “Damien said he just held onto him the whole way. He was really strong galloping out and going down the backside. [Wise Dan] wanted to do more, obviously. He’s dead fit off those races. We’ll probably take him over to the grass, maybe next week, and work him one time for the Fourstardave.”


Wise Dan, a 6-year-old, has won seven straight races, a streak that began with last year’s Fourstardave and includes the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Mile. The streak briefly appeared in jeopardy last time out in the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap on June 29 at Churchill Downs when Wise Dan was shut off before he squeezed through along the inside en route to a two-length win.


“I don’t have to prove anything or chase anybody,” said LoPresti. “Now I got him where I want him. If he can repeat what he did last year, I don’t have to win a Grade I on the dirt with him.”


Also on the main track worktab was Enchanting Lisa, a 3-year-old half-sister to Wise Dan and Successful Dan who went four furlongs in 51.51. Enchanting Lisa has made one start, a seven-length victory on June 12 at Presque Isle Downs.


Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned had his penultimate tune-up Saturday morning for his title defense in the Grade I Whitney Invitational Handicap, breezing five furlongs in 1:03.81 over the main track.


“It was a little slower than what I wanted, but the track was a little dead this morning, and it was a work to set up a work,” said Ian Wilkes, who trains Fort Larned for owner Janis Whitham. “We’ll come back [next week] and get a major work with him off this.”


Fort Larned, who earned his first Grade I triumph in last year’s 1 1/8-mile Whitney, enters this year’s edition off a eye-catching 6 ¼-length victory in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap on June 15 at Churchill Downs. It was the 5-year-old’s first win since the 2012 Classic, having lost his rider two strides out of the gate in the Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 9 and then finishing a non-threatening fifth in the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap a month later.


“The first one, the stumble, that was a thing which took more out of him than you think,” said Wilkes. “If I’d stuck with my original plan [and not run at Oaklawn] that would be fine, but I could second-guess myself all day long.


“He got a lot out of his last race,” he added. “He ran fast [1:47.45] and the track wasn’t a fast track that night.”


Fellow Whitney hopeful Mucho Macho Man also went to the main track Saturday morning, where he was credited with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.61 under exercise rider Nick Petro.


“He had a great work this morning, and we’re looking forward to the Whitney,” said trainer Kathy Ritvo of the Reeves Thoroughbred Racing color-bearer. “He’ll have one more work; the day will be dependant on the weather.”


Mucho Macho Man, second in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic, has made two starts this year, finishing seventh in the Sunshine Millions Classic on January 9 at Gulfstream Park and third in the Criminal Type overnight stakes on June 14 at Belmont Park.


“His last race was a good comeback race for him,” said Ritvo. “It reminded us of the Alysheba last year, when he finished third and then came up and won the [Grade 2] Suburban Handicap.”

KHRC restores Sign as winner of Pocahontas Stakes

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced Wednesday it had reached a settlement with trainer Al Stall Jr. and owners Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider that will void a prior decision by the state stewards to disqualify the filly Sign from her win in the 2012 Grade II Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs due to positive test for the Class C medication methocarbamol.

The decision by the stewards initially nullified Sign’s four-length win last October 28 as well as a forfeit of the purse money won. Under the settlement, Stall shall be held responsible for both the positive on Sign as well as a second methocarbamol overage that came up on another trainee,Upon Reflection, following a victory in a Nov. 7 maiden claiming race at Churchill. Stall accepts a $500 fine on the first violation and a $1,000 fine on the second but the disqualifications and purse redistributions originally ordered by the stewards are rescinded.

During a hearing on the matter in May, attorneys for the connections of Sign argued that the stewards had misinterpreted changes made last year to state regulations and believed they were bound to order a disqualification. Following a commission meeting on Wednesday, KHRC general counsel Susan Speckert said it was the position of the state now “that the regulation is discretionary and there was a mistake made in interpreting the regulation.”

“I think they are most pleased to just have this behind them,” said Bill Lear, one of the attorneys representing Sign’s connections. “Those who attended the hearing saw how it unfolded and what we ended up with was a result that would have been the result had there not been a misinterpretation of the new regulation. Once that was sorted out, what we agreed to naturally followed. There were some technical changes made by the LRC (Legislative Review Committee) that was not intended to change the substance of (the reg) but the way they got interpreted before we went through this is that they did change the substance of it. And that’s what needed to be sorted out.”

Methocarbamol, also known as Robaxin,  is a muscle relaxant commonly used in therapeutic treatment. Lear said his clients still had “not a clue” on how the overage on Sign happened.

Claiborne Farm is owned by the Hancock family, who have been among the most outspoken members of the Thoroughbred industry against the use of race-day medication.

“Sign had never been given the medication in any form, in pill or liquid,” Lear said. “So how it turned out to be a positive is an unknown. And the proof also was the amount found in the test would not have affected the performance of the horse in any event.”

Sign, a daughter of Pulpit, has been sidelined due since that Pocahontas outing.

In other commission news, equine medical director Dr. Mary Scollay reported during the meeting Wednesday that through 2013 to this point, Kentucky Thoroughbred racing has a fatality rate of 0.94 per 1,000 starts, well below the North American average of 1.92 per 1,000 starts reported for all of 2012. The recently concluded Churchill Downs Spring Meet had three racing fatalities and three training fatalities.





Pope goes to $420,000 for Bellamy Road colt

Mandy Pope took ambitious steps to shore up her broodmare band last fall. On Monday, the owner of Whisper Hill Farm landed what she hopes could be the star of her racing operation.

The strong action taking place early on during the Fasig-Tipton July select yearling sale continues to build momentum during the afternoon with Pope going to $420,000 for a chestnut son of Bellamy Road, the second highest price of the auction through 4 p.m.

Pope made two of the bigger purchases last year when she bought 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace for $10 million at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton November sale and multiple Grade I winner Plum Pretty for$4.2 million at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Pope said the Bellamy Road colt out of the stakes winning mare Affirmed Dancer struck her as “an extreme athlete” and showed the early characteristics she looks for in potential classic horses.

“He was always poised, he did everything the same every time,” Pope said. “He never had an hiccups and he has such fluid movements and a long stride. He’s hopefully what makes a (Kentucky) Derby horse. I was hoping he’s go for a lot less but he was the standout horse he at the sale. We really couldn’t find anything to pick him apart other than being by a sire that is not really prolific at this point in time.”

Consigned by Gainesway, the Bellamy Road colt is a half brother to graded stakes winner La Gran Bailadora.

“We’re excited, he’s a great prospect,” said Michael Hernon of Gainesway, which also consigned a Tapit colt that sold for $375,000 to Chip McEwen’s Wounded Warrior Stable. “He’s big and bold, he’s balanced, he’s correct and he moved well. The price was very exciting, it was way beyond our reserve. It did exceed our expectations a little but we did feel going in he was a break out horse.”

Thanks to some bullish trading during the 2-year-old sales season, there was much optimism that strong returns would continue and then some for the yearling marketplace. Many would-be buyers were stating how difficult it was to buy during the Fasig July sale and those horses who did hit many of the key marks were often going for well above pre-sale estimates.

“The market is strong,” Hernon said. “That would be in correlation with the stock market for one, the good year that the pinhookers (yearling to juvenile resellers) had and the reduced numbers from a supply and demand perspective. There is some polarization as expected with the better quality stock and people are inclined to reach for those horses.”


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