Archive for August, 2013

Governor Beshear to attend Sire Stakes Night at The Red Mile

Red Mile release:

The best of harness racing in the Bluegrass State will be on display on Sunday night, Sept. 1, at The Red Mile when the historic Lexington racetrack hosts the $2 million Kentucky Sire Stakes Super Night. The program annually attracts one of the largest crowds of the year to the famed clay oval and attendees this year will be joined by Governor Steve Beshear and his wife, Jane.


“The history and heritage of The Red Mile is unique to Kentucky,” Gov. Beshear said. “Since opening in 1875, it continues to be the oldest pari-mutuel harness track in North America. The First Lady and I will be pleased to be a part of that tradition when we present the trophy for the Kentucky Sire Stakes on September 1.”


Eight $250,000 Sire Stakes Finals for 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers will be contested on the program. Admission will be free, with first race post time at 7 p.m., ET.


“The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is delighted Governor Beshear and the First Lady will present the trophy for the Kentucky Sire Stakes — one the richest finals in North America,” Kentucky Breeders Incentive Fund director Jamie Eads said. “The Governor and First Lady continue to support the equine industry in Kentucky and it is an honor to have their participation in the finals.”

Fort Larned to miss G1 Woodward; Paynter new morning-line choice

Courtesy of NYRA publicity team:

Reigning Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned  will be scratched from Saturday’s Grade I, $750,000 Woodward at Saratoga Race Course with a possible hind end issue, trainer Ian Wilkes said.


Wilkes said the multiple Grade I winner was “a little off behind” when he came off the track Thursday but was optimistic the ailment was not serious.


“He worked great Monday morning and jogged and walked fine Tuesday and Wednesday,” Wilkes said. “This morning, he was not 100 percent in his training. It’s not serious, possibly a pulled muscle, but when you are competing against horses on this level, you have to be 100 percent.”


Wilkes said the next likely start for Fort Larned would be the Grade I, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 28 at Belmont Park.


“We’ll wait for that and go from there,” said Wilkes.


With the defection of Fort Larned, who had been expected to be on or close to the pace, Eric Donovan, oddsmaker for The New York Racing Association (NYRA), made Grade I winner Paynter the 2-to-1 morning line favorite for the 1 1/8-mile race.


Successful Dan, the original morning-line choice, remains at odds of 5-to-2, followed by Flat Out (3-to-1), Mucho Macho Man (9-to-2), Ron the Greek (8-to-1) and Alpha (12-to-1).


Paynter got a look at Saratoga on Thursday morning with an easy gallop over the main track in preparation for Saturday’s race.


Owned by Ahmed Zayat and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, the 4-year-old Awesome Again colt arrived in Saratoga at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, following a nearly 17-hour trip from California via Newark International Airport.


The  Woodward will be the first Grade I race for Paynter since he won the Haskell Invitational last July at Monmouth Park. He developed a fever out of that race which evolved into colitis and the early onset of laminitis in three of his four hooves.


“To tell you the truth, a year ago I didn’t know where we were going to be in a year’s time. I’m happy to be where we’re at, that’s for sure,” said Baffert’s longtime assistant, Jimmy Barnes said. “He’s come a long way. The recovery was a lot quicker than I ever expected it to be. When he came back and ran his first race, he was very full of himself.”


Paynter showed plenty of energy upon his arrival, turning his head from side to side and neighing loudly and often as Barnes walked him from the van to his residence at trainer John Terranova’s barn.


“That’s him. That’s how he rolls,” Barnes said. “He rolls with a lot of energy. It isn’t uncommon for him to act like that. He’s normal, just how he should be.”


Paynter won a seven-furlong allowance on the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park on June 14 in his comeback race, and followed up by running second, beaten a half-length, in the Grade II San Diego over Del Mar’s Polytrack on July 27.


“He trains at Del Mar and he deals with the racetrack; he just doesn’t move over it as well as he does on dirt,” Barnes said. “We’re glad it all worked out and we’re here. When we ran him at Del Mar, so many people showed up; even at Hollywood when he ran.


“I expect it will be the same, maybe even more of a following up here. It’s exciting. Racing needs something like this, to have people interested in it and be excited about it.”

Robsham Stables to disperse breeding stock at Keeneland November sale

E. Paul Robsham Stables LLC, which bred and raced such Grade I winners as Awesome Maria and R Heat Lightning, will completely disperse its Thoroughbred breeding stock at Keeneland’s 2013 November Breeding Stock Sale, it was announced Thursday. Lane’s End Farm will act as agent.


A total of 24 horses will be cataloged in the November dispersal, including seven broodmares, three broodmare prospects, four weanlings and ten yearlings.


Awesome Maria, winner of the 2011 Grade I Ogden Phipps Handicap and more than $1.1 million in her career, is among those broodmares to be offered in November. Currently in foal to leading sire Giant’s Causeway, the daughter of Maria’s Mon won nine of 16 career starts including eight stakes. In her first start following an eight month layoff, Awesome Maria defeated champion Royal Delta by eight lengths in the 2012 Grade III Sabin Stakes.


Discreetly Awesome, dam of Awesome Maria and a half-sister to Grade I winners Discreet Cat and Discreetly Mine, also will be sold, in foal to Malibu Moon.


Joyce Robsham, who has continued the operation since the death of her husband, a prominent real estate developer and philanthropist, in 2004, will continue to campaign her racing stable. Discreet Dancer, winner of the 2013 Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap, will be sold privately.


“Together, Paul and Joyce Robsham built a racing and breeding operation that competed at the highest levels of the sport,” said Lane’s End Farm’s Bill Farish. “Since Paul’s death several years ago, Joyce has continued to pursue their passion with great success. She loves her horses, and enjoys every aspect of the game.”


The Robshams first became involved in Thoroughbred racing and breeding in 1983. That year the stable ranked as leading owner by number of wins during Belmont’s spring/summer race meeting. The Robshams bred and raced Grade I stakes winners Awesome Maria, Discreet Cat, R Heat Lightning, Discreetly Mine and Pretty Discreet, and Grade II winners Discreet Dancer and Trippi’s Storm. Other graded stakes winners campaigned by the Robshams in their distinctive maroon and gold silks were Trust N Luck, Canadian Frontier and Travelin Man.


“The Robshams maintained a small breeding operation of remarkable quality,” said Keeneland vice president of sales Walt Robertson. “We appreciate the opportunity to include such an exceptional offering in the November Sale.”


R Heat Lightning,  in foal to Bernardini, will also be among the broodmares offered along with Grade II winner Broadway’s Alibi (in foal to Smart Strike) and Grade III Feline Story,  in foal to Discreetly Mine.


R Holiday Mood, winner of the 2012  Grade III Hurricane Bertie Stakes,  and stakes winner R Gypsy Gold, both homebreds, will be offered as broodmare prospects.


This year’s Keeneland November sale will run from November 5- 15.

Venerable Successful Dan is morning-line choice in Woodward field

The gaps in Successful Dan’s past performances are as glaring as they are lengthy – which is exactly why trainer Charlie LoPresti remains adamant in his desire for everyone to see what first jumped out at him four summers ago.

Hiatuses of 14 months, 17 months and his last break of nearly 10 months illustrate the physical woes which have  plagued the 7-year-old Successful Appeal gelding since his sophomore year of 2009. In a particularly sadistic twist, the suspensory issues which have haunted Successful Dan  in his 14 career starts seem to wait until he is on the verge of his best form before resurfacing to stymie the whole process.

Lost in his comeback upon comeback is the fact that, before injury ever touched him, Successful Dan was the first horse to give LoPresti a taste of the high-level success that has become the barn norm. When Saturday’s Grade I, $750,000 Woodward Stakes concludes, LoPresti hopes the horse who bestowed him with his first career graded stakes triumph exits with a top-level designation all his own.

Backing up LoPresti’s long held belief that a sound Successful Dan could be among the handicap division’s best, Morton Fink’s homebred gelding was installed as the 5-to-2 morning line favorite out of post No. 2 in a field of seven entered Wednesday for the 1 1/8-miles Woodward at Saratoga.

Of the Woodward field, which also includes Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned, 7-to-2 second choice Flat Out and sentimental favorite Paynter, only Successful Dan and Mucho Macho Man are not yet Grade I winners.

A great source of comfort to LoPresti while Successful Dan battled his ailments is the fact he has developed his younger half brother Wise Dan into the beast that is the reigning Horse of the Year. Still, ever since Successful Dan won the Grade III Northern Dancer in 2009, the first graded score for himself and his trainer, LoPresti has pegged the large-bodied bay as one of the best he’s ever laid hands on.

“It would mean more to me (for Successful Dan to win the Woodward) probably than any race that I’ve ever won,” LoPresti said during a teleconference this week. “I don’t say that lightly, because I’ve won a Breeders’ Cup race, I’ve won Grade Is. But I just think that this particular horse, we’ve been through so much with him, I would just like for everybody to see that he is as good a horse as I’ve said all along.

“It would mean a great deal for me to see this horse win. He has a special place in all our hearts.”

Successful Dan’s ability when he is right supports LoPresti’s sentiment as he has eight wins, four graded stakes triumphs and a track record in his start-stop career.

His Grade I ventures have had a similarly hard-luck theme, though. In 2010, Successful Dan crossed the wire first in the Grade I Clark Handicap only to be disqualified to third for interference. Earlier this month as he headed onto the track for what would be a runner-up finish behind Cross Traffic in the Grade I Whitney, Successful Dan got worked up and fell over coming through the paddock, unseating jockey Julien Leparoux.

“It is kind of frustrating. I mean every time he has come into his own and really started to show the kind of horse he is, there’s always something that goes wrong with him,” LoPresti said. “I think I had him pretty sharp for (the Whitney). I don’t really know why he did it. I’ve got to think that maybe it took a little bit out of him when he hit the ground as hard as he did. So maybe he wasn’t into the race, the first part of it, but he made up a lot of ground and he ran really hard.”

Fort Larned got the best of Successful Dan in both the 2012 Grade III Cornhusker Handicap and the Grade I Stephen Foster this June. However, the Ian Wilkes-trainee ran flat after rating just off the pace in the Whitney, fading to fifth for his third loss this year.

Paynter, who has comeback from a near fatal bout of colitis and early onset of laminitis, should be going right with Fort Larned early on setting up for Successful Dan to theoretically sit closer than in the Whitney.

One of LoPresti’s favorite pre-race mantras is as long his horses “run good and come back good, I’ll be happy”-  something that will carry even more weight when he saddles Successful Dan and Grade I winner Turallure, who runs in the Grade II Bernard Baruch Saturday.

This past Sunday, LoPresti lost a horse to a fatal race breakdown for the first time in his career when the 5-year-old gelding Kris Royal fractured his left front leg in the ninth race at Saratoga, a 1 1/8-mile turf contest.

“It’s taken a couple of days and I’m still not over it,” LoPresti said of Kris Royal’s breakdown. “That means more to me than talking about these big races really.”

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: Twitter: @horseracinghl.

Jockey Club Gold Cup, Pennsylvania Derby among options for Will Take Charge

 Courtesy of NYRA publicity team:

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas was a busy man Sunday morning, his regular routine interrupted several times for interviews following Will Take Charge’s upset victory in Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Travers.


“They keep coming in droves,” quipped Lukas. “That’s a good thing.”


Will Take Charge gave the 77-year-old Lukas his third Travers victory and first since 1995, charging down the stretch to nail stubborn pacesetter Moreno by a nose at the wire.


“He’s doing wonderful; really good,” Lukas said. “I’m very pleased with that. He had great energy this morning, out grazing and feeling good, very good.”


Winner of the Smarty Jones and Grade II Rebel during the winter, Will Take Charge ran in all three legs of the Triple Crown, finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby, seventh to injured stablemate Oxbow in the Preakness, and 10th in the Belmont Stakes.


He came back to run a strong second, beaten just a length by Belmont winner Palace Malice, in the Spa’s Grade II Jim Dandy on July 27.


“His trips were compromised (during the Triple Crown),” Lukas said. “His style of running puts him in a position where he has to have some things go his way. As he’s gotten older and more mature now, mentally and physically, he’s able to overcome that stuff. Early on in his career, that was the thing that probably slowed him up.”


Ridden for the first time by 21-year-old Luis Saez, Will Take Charge was able to relax off a leisurely pace set by 31-1 long shot Moreno, who led through a quarter mile in 24.40 seconds, a half in 48.88 and six furlongs in 1:13.43.


Saez swung Will Take Charge outside turning for home, and they closed relentlessly down the center of the track to catch Moreno in the final jump.


“I was concerned about the fractions. I thought the fractions were way in favor of the horses that you all liked and not him,” Lukas said. “When they threw up that half-mile and then the [1:13.43] for three quarters, I thought it was tailor made for the favorites. When you go 13 and four and you’re a world-class horse, you’re supposed to finish.”


Lukas complimented the ride of Saez, who he named to ride Wednesday morning before the post position draw, replacing Junior Alvarado.


“He rode a very smart race,” said Lukas. “If he stays tucked in behind that horse at the sixteenth pole, he loses. Boy, this horse really accelerated when he saw daylight and took off. He lengthened his stride five, six feet in the last hundred yards.


“We thought he would mature into a better horse, but we took some chances. We took an untried rider who had never won a Grade I in his life and put him up there. We took the blinkers off. I’ve always felt in racing and training horses that if it’s not working, change up and try something different.”


Lukas is keeping the logical options open for Will Take Charge, including the Grade I, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup against older horses at Belmont Park on September 28, and staying with straight 3-year-olds in the Grade II, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on September 21.


“One of them’s a Grade I and very prestigious. If you were to win the Jockey Club, you’d go damn sure to the head of the division,” Lukas said. “If you stay in your division, the million dollars is not necessarily bad, either. We’ll weigh all the things. You get an extra week if you go to the Jockey Club, so that’s also something.”


Lukas said the Travers did little to clarify the 3-year-old picture. Kentucky Derby winner Orb finished a solid third, Palace Malice closed to be fourth after missing the break, and 8-5 favorite Verrazano faded to seventh after stalking the pace.


“I think it muddles it a little bit,” he said. “I think if you’re one of the voting group, you’re going to have trouble until we get a little further down the basepath. It’s going to have to be sorted out in a race or two more. Maybe it will get all the way down to the Breeders’ Cup. The fight’s not over.”


*           *           *


Moreno was bright and doing well after his gallant second by a nose to Will Take Charge, but trainer Eric Guillot revealed Sunday morning that the gelded son of Ghostzapper raced with a large abscess near his throat.


“That’s an abscess that started Monday,” said Guillot, while a stable hand jogged Moreno in a straight line outside the barn for the trainer’s inspection. “I think the worst day was yesterday. We started compressing it. We’re good to go now, but I thought I was going to have to scratch on Monday. We don’t know what caused it – I think an ingrown hair, maybe, or he jerked back on the chain. It got infected and went the wrong way. You don’t want to pack it and work on it too hard and too fast. Yesterday, we iced it. I gave him a lot of anti-inflammatories.”


While Guillot said the abscess had no impact on Moreno’s performance, the strap from his blinkers wrapped around the abscess. He is treating the wound with silver sulfadiazine, a topical antibacterial.


Travers Day was an emotional one for the colorful Guillot, who told anyone who would listen that the horse named after owner Michael Moreno was one of the best in the 3-year-old division.


“Everyone thought I was talking trash,” Guillot said. “He just beat the Derby winner, the Haskell winner and the Belmont winner, right? ”


Guillot had predicted the key to Moreno’s success would be internal fractions, and Moreno got away on the lead with an opening quarter-mile in 24.48 seconds and a second quarter in 24.55, which put him up by two lengths.


On the turn for home, Moreno was in full flight and had plenty left to turn back a bold challenge by Kentucky Derby winner Orb, only to get caught at the wire by Will Take Charge.


“That’s what we wanted,” Guillot said of the manageable fractions. “That’s why he got beat a whisker. It was a tough loss. It left me all emotional. I walked down to the track by myself. I wished everybody, 50,000 people, just evaporated. I wanted to be by myself for a few minutes. Then I realized, ‘I just got beat a whisker at 30-1 against the best of the best.’ It’s horse racing. If his name was Guillot, he would have won by 20.


“I tried to not get all emotional and teared up, but I had to. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t see (owner) Michael (Moreno); he was up in the box. I was in there 10 minutes later, and we were both crying.”


Guillot said he plans to leave Moreno at Saratoga to train up to the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on September 21 at Parx Racing and then, if all goes well, he will run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.


“We’d run him right out of his stall,” Guillot said, referring to his California base. “It’s my back yard. I’ve got to take that on.”


*           *           *


Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey on Sunday expressed satisfaction with Orb’s third-place finish in Saturday’s Travers, and said the colt likely will make his next start in the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 28.


In the Travers, Orb saved ground while stalking the pace and loomed at the top of the stretch but was unable to match strides with winner Will Take Charge or overtake runner-up Moreno. Orb was ridden by Jose Lezcano, who replaced injured jockey Joel Rosario.


“I thought he ran a great race,” said McGaughey, who trains the Kentucky Derby winner for Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable. “He came to the paddock the way I wanted him to, and I thought he had running on his mind. I thought Jose rode him great. He was down on the inside the other two horses, and he couldn’t get by Moreno, really, after that slow pace. I’m disappointed we didn’t win, but I’m not disappointed in his effort one bit. I thought they did a terrific job with him.”


If Orb competes in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, he will be making his first start against older horses. The Travers was his first start since his third in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes in June.


“Now we’ve got a good, solid race under his belt, we’ve got all last winter and spring’s stuff behind us,” said McGaughey. “I think we can really move forward now. I’m going to look at the Gold Cup. That’s not to say the Pennsylvania Derby or the Indiana Derby or something is completely out of the picture, but I think we want to go to the Gold Cup.”


*           *           *


Trainer Todd Pletcher reported Sunday morning that  Travers favorite Verrazano and second choice Palace Malice returned from their respective seventh- and fourth-place finishes in good order, and that a decision on their next starts would not be forthcoming for a few days.


“We’re disappointed,” Pletcher said. “Any time after a race, you don’t only look at that race but their entire body of work. As far as their next starts, we have no firm plans. We’ll wait a few days and talk it over with Mr. (Cot) Campbell and the other connections before we make any decisions.”


While Palace Malice wound up beaten less than a length after stumbling at the start, Pletcher could offer no excuse for Verrazano, winner of the Grade I Wood Memorial and Grade I Haskell Invitational.


“(Verrazano) is still 6-for-8 and a multiple Grade I winner,” he said of the More Than Ready colt. “We’re disappointed in yesterday’s performance but we’re not disappointed in the horse. I can’t offer much excuse. I thought he was in a very good tactical position. (But) when Johnny (Velazquez) needed him to start picking it up around the half-mile pole, he just didn’t have the response we were looking for.”


“(With Palace Malice), we weren’t planning on being last going into the first turn behind a dawdling pace,” he said of the Belmont Stakes winner. “I thought he had a winning race in him. Unfortunately, the start did not go well. Once that happened we were in a completely different spot than we anticipated being. Unfortunately, he came up a length short. For a number of reasons, the bad start was compromising. When you tack on the fact they didn’t go very fast up front, I thought he ran a great race, considering all that.”


The Pletcher barn was far from empty-handed Saturday, as Capo Bastone took advantage of torrid early fractions and came from 10th to upset the Grade I, $500,000  King’s Bishop at 28-1.


“We were hoping we would get a favorable pace set-up,” Pletcher said. “We felt like the horse was training very well into it. Based on the strength of his training, we thought we’d take a shot, and it worked out.”


Among those on the main track worktab for Pletcher on Sunday were 2012 Champion Two-Year-Old Male Shanghai Bobby, who worked five furlongs 1:00.91 in company with Graydar, and Grade I Whitney Invitational Handicap winner Cross Traffic, who went a half-mile in 48.19.


“Shanghai continues to go great,” he said. “We’re still a month or so away, but I like what we’re seeing so far. He’s coming back and getting fit a week or so ahead of what we anticipated. We’re really pleased with him and happy to have him back.


“Cross Traffic also went well,” he added. “We’ll make a decision tomorrow or the next day on whether he’ll run in the (Grade I, $750,000] Woodward (on Saturday).”


Breeders’ Cup to allow Lasix in all races in 2014

In a complete reversal of its previously announced medication policy, officials with Breeders’ Cup Ltd. announced Friday it would allow the race-day use of the anti-bleeder medication Lasix in all of its races for the 2014 World Championships at Santa Anita Park.

Back in 2011, Breeders’ Cup stated plans to ban the use of Lasix in its juvenile races for 2012 with the ultimate goal of disallowing the use of race-day medication in all of its races by 2013. The board began backing off said pledge this March when it voted instead to only maintain the ban in this year’s 2-year-old Breeders’ Cup races.

Citing that no racing jurisdiction in the U.S. has yet banned the use of race-day medication and that “none of our potential future host sites has been able to offer assurances that such an eventuality is likely in the near term”,  Breeders’ Cup released a statement Friday saying that “in evaluating host-site options for 2014, it became apparent that the race-day medication policy for 2014 would have to be consistent with rules in effect in any eligible host jurisdiction at the time of the event.”

“We were successful in implementing event-specific race conditions for 2012 and 2013 which prohibited race day administration of furosemide in Breeders’ Cup two-year old races in cooperation with the CHRB, Santa Anita and the TOC,” the statement said. “The horsemen’s groups in potential host jurisdictions indicated that they would withhold their approval of simulcast rights unless this was the case, jeopardizing our ability to conduct simulcast wagering on our event, and thus the event itself.”

This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be held at Santa Anita for a second consecutive year on November 1 and 2. A handful of 2-year-olds who ran on the championship card last November did reportedly bleed.

“Breeders’ Cup remains committed to the goal that the world’s major international racing events, including the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, should be conducted under the same rules and conditions with regard to race-day medication,” the statement continued. “We will continue to work constructively with stakeholders in the U.S. and elsewhere, including potential host sites, racing commissions and horsemen’s groups, toward that objective.”


Royal Delta looms large in Grade I Personal Ensign

There is no disputing who the gatekeeper of the older filly and mare division has been for the last 18 months. If one wants a true read on where their distaffer fits in to the big-race picture, going through two-time Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta is a must.

Four entrants are signing up for said challenge in Sunday’s Grade I, $600,000 Personal Ensign at Saratoga Race Course – one of the few spots where Royal Delta’s regal air was diffused last season.

Much of the reason the 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker has maintained her reputation through some less than flattering outings is she almost always delivers an authoritative response whenever her throne is on the verge of being seriously threatened.

No one suggests that Royal Delta is unbeatable, as evidence by the eight losses on her record from 19 career starts. But when Ben Leon’s champion mare does get herself feeling right and all her elegant cylinders rhythmically churning, it becomes awfully difficult to fathom one of her divisional challengers denying her victory.

After her 10th place finish against males in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in March, trainer Bill Mott thought he had the latter version of Royal Delta on his hands for the Grade II Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs on June 15 only to be left perplexed when she labored home five lengths behind race winner Funny Proposition that night.

Though she had run on the anti-bleeder medication Lasix for the majority of her career, Mott thought the affects of it made Royal Delta uncomfortable that outing and took her off said medication for her start in the Grade I Delaware Handicap on July 20. Whether it was due to that change or not, the Royal Delta who has won the last two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic – now known as its original name of the Distaff – resurfaced that day with her destroying four challengers by 10 3/4 lengths under a hand ride from jockey Mike Smith.

“We were obviously very disappointed in the Kentucky race, and a little confused by it,” Mott said. “We did take her off of Lasix after that. I just felt like it probably wasn’t doing her any favors.

“I think Lasix can offset the electrolyte balance in their system and I think it can adversely affect them at times,” Mott continued. “In some horses it can cause the diaphragm to go into spasms, and, consequently they don’t get their air properly. We just thought that it was a possibility that that’s what had happened to her in the Fleur de Lis. As long as we don’t feel the need for it, I’m going to probably continue on that path with her (running without Lasix).”

The 1 1/8-miles Personal Ensign did trip Royal Delta up last season as she finished a half length behind Love and Pride. All was forgiven when she rebounded to take the Grade I Beldame by 9 1/2 lengths a month later prior to her Breeders’ Cup triumph, but there are legitimate challengers who could turn Sunday’s race into another all-out test of her mettle.

The Gary Hartlage-trained On Fire Baby broke through for her first Grade I score when she took the 1 1/16-miles Apple Blossom at Oaklawn in April and most recently was second by a head to Authenticity in the Grade II La Troienne at Churchill on May 3.

Previously best known as the workmate for Grade I winner Verrazano, Authenticity has stepped out on her own merit, running second by a half length in the Grade I Ogden Phipps Handicap in late May before capturing the Grade III Shuvee at Saratoga over the same 1 1/8-miles distance on July 20.

“I feel like she’s doing better coming into this race than the last one, and I thought she was doing well going into that one,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who conditions Authenticity and also conditioned Love and Pride. “She certainly needs to be to run in this type of race against a mare the quality of Royal Delta. We’re pleased that Authenticity is as good as she can be.”

Installed as the 2-to-5 morning line favorite, Royal Delta will break from post No. 2 Sunday with Authenticity, the 7-to-2 second choice, in post No. 5.

Currently, the Dubai World Cup stands as the only race Royal Delta has run in twice and lost both times. Smith is banking on that still being true Monday morning given that he gave up the mount on multiple Grade I winner Game On Dude in Sunday’s Grade I Pacific Classic to stick with his championship partner.

“I hope for, everybody’s sake, and in particular Mike, I hope it works out for him,” Mott said. “I hope she comes back and runs a good race and can get the job done, and, you know, that’ll justify his decision.”

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: Twitter: @horseracinghl.

Orb ready to resurface in Travers Stakes

He exited the first leg of the Triple Crown with some already deeming him the chosen one of the sophomore class. By the time Orb completed the remaining classics, the premature coronation had given way to reality that the 3-year-old division still had multiple candidates capable of mounting a leadership campaign.

Verrazano and Palace Malice have already started strengthening their cases, with the former coasting to a 9 3/4-length victory in the Grade I Haskell Invitational on July 28, one day after his stablemate followed up his Belmont Stakes triumph with an equally sublime win in the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes.

For the first time since the first Saturday in May, the above three will be in the starting gate together this Saturday for the 144th running of the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga. And as was the case on May 4, Orb is going to need a bullish sustained run to complete this game of catch up.

After a couple of months out of the fray, Kentucky Derby winner Orb will get back to the matter of trying to reestablish his divisional standing. Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s homebred will break from post No. 2 in a field of nine entered for Saturday’s $1 million Travers in what will be his first start since running third in the Belmont Stakes on June 8.

The impression Verrazano and Palace Malice have made in that time was further illustrated Wednesday when the Todd Pletcher-trained duo were installed as the 2-to-1 morning-line favorite and 5-to-2 second choice, respectively, over 4-to-1 third choice Orb.

An all out beast in his training leading up to his Kentucky Derby triumph, Orb became mortal in the five weeks that followed, running a disappointing fourth in the Preakness to the now injured Oxbow before finishing five lengths behind Palace Malice in the 1 1/2-miles Belmont.

With that, his Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey sent the son of Malibu Moon to Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland for a couple of months in hopes the bucolic surroundings would serve as a rejuvenating equine spa of sorts.

The horse McGaughey saw get off the van at Saratoga on August 11 struck him nearly as much as the one who brought the Twin Spires down for what was his fifth consecutive victory. He hopes such a tout proves a telling as it did in early May.

“I do think he’s much better. I think he kind of left me in June as a horse and he came back as a man,” McGaughey said. “He’s got a different look to him. He’s heavier but I think he’s heavier because he’s put on some muscle and he’s mentally very sharp now. I think our experiment (of going to Fair Hill) worked. We won’t know until Saturday afternoon but I think we’ve got a much better horse today than we had earlier in the year.”

Pletcher is just as confident Palace Malice and Verrazano have never been better – and he has the recent evidence to back it up.

Any notion Palace Malice’s 3 1/4-length Belmont Stakes win – his first graded score in eight starts at that point – would fall into the fluke category dissipated with his stalk-and-pounce one length triumph over fellow Travers entrant Will Take Charge in the Jim Dandy.

Before the wheels came off in the form of his 14th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Verrazano had done nothing but ascend, going from maiden winner to Grade I Wood Memorial hero in four months.

While the Travers’ 10-furlong distance remains a question for his bloodlines, his Haskell exploits combined with his front-running 9 1/4 length win in the Pegasus Stakes on June 16 reaffirmed the son of More Than Ready’s prior status as arguably the most brilliant of the 3-year-old crop.

“In (Palace Malice’s) case, he’s gaining weight, he’s gotten bigger and stronger, more professional,” Pletcher said “Verrazano’s constitution, he’s very much the same kind of horse. We’re concerned we’re trying to match lifetime-best performances in four weeks. But everything we have seen in their training since the Jim Dandy and Haskell indicates they’re still in peak form.”

Being stuck inside the No. 1 post for the Preakness was widely seen as a source of Orb’s struggles that day with jockey Joel Rosario unable to get him clear enough to make the breath-stopping move he utilized in his Derby triumph. The bay colt will have a similar issue in the Travers with Verrazano to his outside in post No. 3 and Palace Malice favorably in post No. 8.

“If I’d have had the six or seven or eight (post) I probably would have been a little more happy…but we’ve got a long way to go.,” McGaughey said. “We can save some ground and, hopefully, there will be a pace where we can get out when the time comes.

“The Preakness and Belmont were obviously disappointments for us but hopefully Saturday we can win the race and everyone will be talking about Orb again.”

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: Twitter: @horseracinghl.

Grade I winner Daisy Devine to be offered at Keeneland November

Grade I winner Daisy Devine will be offered for sale at this year’s Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. Consigned by Eaton Sales, as agent for owner James M. Miller, the millionaire will be sold as a racing or broodmare prospect.


A multiple graded stakes winner on dirt and turf, Daisy Devine won the 2012 Grade I Jenny Wiley at Keeneland  as well as the 2011 Grade III Pin Oak Valley View on turf. The 5-year-old daughter of Kafwain set a stakes record in the 2012 Grade III Cardinal Handicap on turf at Churchill Downs and won the 2011 Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on dirt.


Daisy Devine has 10 wins from 21 career starts to date with earnings of $1,055,892. She remains in training, and is being pointed to the Grade I First Lady at Keeneland on October 5, a race she ran second in a year ago.


“She is a top-class mare that ran and won on all surfaces and at all distances,” said Eaton Sales’ Reiley McDonald, who bred the bay mare. “In addition to ability, soundness, and looks, she is a complete outcross of Halo and Blushing Groom, a very unusual commodity in today’s broodmares.”


Raised in Kentucky by McDonald and purchased by Miller at Keeneland’s 2009 September Yearling Sale, Daisy Devine is the leading money earner by Kafwain and is out of the Devil’s Bag mare, Devil’s Dispute.


“Daisy Devine has a very special connection to Keeneland, and we are delighted to include her in our November Sale,” said Keeneland Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson. “She is a unique individual: a Grade I stakes winner with a lovely pedigree. She has all the potential to be a top-quality broodmare.”


Daisy Devine will be sold in November along with her stakes-winning stablemate, Maude S, a 5-year-old daughter of Jump Start who has earned nearly a quarter of a million dollars.




Point of Entry back galloping, still aiming for Breeders’ Cup

Multiple Grade I winner Point of Entry returned to galloping in Ocala on Tuesday for the first time since emerging from his victory in the Grade I Manhattan on June 8 with a condylar fracture in his left hind cannon bone.

During a national teleconference, trainer Shug McGaughey said he is optimistic that the 5-year-old son of Dynaformer would be able to return in time to start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita Park on November 2, a race he finished second in a year ago.

“We’re definitely hoping,” McGaughey said of Point of Entry’s Breeders’ Cup chances. “He jogged yesterday and galloped about a mile today. He was a fit horse when he hurt himself so I think he will be the kind of horse who will come around quickly. Whether we get a prep race into him or not, who knows. But if he says he’s ready, I think I can get him ready to run in the Breeders’ Cup off works.”

Point of Entry has won five of his last six starts against Grade I company with his lone loss during that span being his Breeders’ Cup defeat. The bay horse captured the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap over champion Animal Kingdom on February 9 and defeated a field that included newly-minted Arlington Million hero Real Solution when he won the Manhattan by 1 1/2-lengths over a yielding Belmont turf.

Owned by Phipps Stable and Adena Springs, Point of Entry has nine wins from 17 career starts with $2,314,490 in earnings.

McGaughey will also saddle Kentucky Derby winner Orb in his own return to the races this Saturday when he faces the likes of Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice and multiple Grade I winner Verrazano in the Grade I Travers at Saratoga. Orb has been freshened at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland since his third place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

“I think that we’ve got the best horse,” McGaughey said of Orb. “I’m not worried about his fitness level. I know Palace Malace’s and Verrazano’s prep races were as good as you could want. But the reason I didn’t run him in a prep race (for the Travers) was I felt we were going forward fast and I didn’t want to take a chance on running him and maybe knocking him out a little bit and taking a step backward. I’m just hopeful on Saturday that we’ve got the best horse.”

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