Archive for October, 2014

Napravnik announces retirement after Distaff triumph aboard Untapable

ARCADIA, Ca. – One girl brought the drama with the sheer force of her will, sticking her bay face with that paint strip of a blaze in front at the head of lane and showing her challengers in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff what a season’s worth of progressive brilliance looks like.

The other girl, the one who helped foster the above’s ability, then stole the show for most stunning performance on the day when she turned to her mother on national television and told the Thoroughbred racing community that outing might have been the last they would see of her own standard-setting skills.

There never has been a post-race scene quite like one that exploded before the crowd of 37,205 after Untapable’s 1 1/4-length triumph over Don’t Tell Sophia in the Distaff. Moments after guiding the 3-year-old filly to her most significant triumph yet, jockey Rosie Napravnik ignited shock waves that could rock the neighboring San Gabriel Mountains when she announced she would be retiring from race riding effective Sunday as she and her husband, trainer Joe Sharp, are expecting their first child.

Napravnik said she was about seven weeks pregnant  and that while her initial plan was to wait until after this weekend to break the news “this filly has just been so special to me…I couldn’t resist because they asked me how much it meant to me.”

At the age of 26, the native of New Jersey has already carved out a niche in racing history. She surpassed Hall of Famer Julie Krone’s total wins and earnings record in a single season for a woman in 2012, is the only female jockey to ride in all three Triple Crown races and is a two-time winner of the Kentucky Oaks, including this year aboard Untapable.

“I’ve been planning the retirement since I found out I was pregnant,” said Napravnik, who just won her second consecutive Keeneland Fall Meet title. “My husband Joe…his career is brand new and thriving so it’s kind of good timing. He’s going to step out of the limelight and I’m going to step out.”

Sharp, a former assistant to Mike Maker, went out on his own this summer and has already saddled nine winners from 19 starters.

Napravnik first decided she wanted to be a jockey at age 7 after riding in her first pony race. At 16, she took out a license with the National Steeplechase Association and in 2005, obtained her jockey’s license, winning 71 races.

In 2012, the year she won her first Kentucky Oaks aboard Believe You Can, Napravnik also joined Krone as the only female riders to win a Breeders’ Cup race when she piloted Shanghai Bobby to victory in the Juvenile.

Jockeys are notorious for their repeated comebacks: Exhibit ‘A’ being Hall of Famer Gary Stevens returning from a 7-year retirement last year and riding this weekend after having knee replacement surgery this season.

Napravnik is known to spend her down time away from race riding taking her own pleasure horses over fences. She didn’t totally close the door on one day returning to the jocks room but called the hiatus “indefinite”.

“I’m not thinking of a comeback in ten months, but I can’t promise to stay off a horse forever,” she said.

If indeed Napravnik’s four Breeders’ Cup mounts Saturday are her final career send off, they will have to do something remarkable to top the lasting feeling Untapable instilled in the final furlong.

The Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred had been near perfect coming into the Distaff, winning all five starts against her fellow sophomore female runners this year with  her only loss in six prior 2014 outings being a fifth-place run against males in the Grade I Haskell Invitational.

Still, the daughter of leading sire Tapit had run the worst race of her 11-race career at Santa Anita Park last year when she was eighth in the Juvenile Fillies, and the 1 1/8-miles Distaff presented her a new challenge as she was facing older fillies and mares for the first time. Though the Steve Asmussen-trainee was carried three-wide around the first turn, the race favorite traveled a clear path through fractions of 22.93 and 46.73 and had Iotapa and pacesetter Tiz Midnight hers for the taking when she advanced wide around the final turn.

“I don’t think anything she did this year was easy,” Asmussen said. “It’s just on her ability. She was obviously spot-on today after a very long year. The confidence in her ability is immeasurable.”


Napravnik said she had “so much horse” off the second turn, and got the response she needed to hold off Grade I winner Don’t Tell Sophia, who rallied from last in the 11-horse field edging Iotapa by a nose for second.

Final time for the distance was 1:48.68 over a fast track.

In notching her fourth Grade I win of 2014, Untapable not only has a stranglehold on the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old filly but can merit discussion for Horse of the Year honors if the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner ends up a longshot.

“Basically, the results are what you dream about,” owner Ron Winchell said. “My plans right now are…hopefully she’ll be competitive next year in the same race.”

With Napravnik boasting 1,878 career wins heading into Saturday and more than $71 million in career earnings, all her fans and horsemen can hope is that she decides to get competitive again herself.

“Nothing makes me happier than to be able to retire and, if everything goes well tomorrow, healthy and on a great note,” Napravnik grinned.

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

Champion Zenyatta’s weaning filly euthanized

Champion Zenyatta’s weanling filly by War Front was humanely euthanized Tuesday evening after a paddock accident at Lane’s End Farm,  Team Zenyatta announced in a statement on its website.

Nicknamed “Z Princess”, the War Front filly was the third foal out of the 2010 Horse of the Year.

“We are deeply saddened to report the passing of Zenyatta’s filly,” Team Zenyatta posted in a statement on its website. “She was a member of our family and had just begun to make her mark on the world. This is a heartbreaking loss for those who knew and loved her.”

“It is with a heavy heart that I must report the death of the 2014 War Front-Zenyatta weanling filly.  She was humanely euthanized last night at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital after a paddock accident on the farm,”

Zenyatta has resided at Lane’s End since her retirement at the conclusion of the 2010 season. Trained by John Shirreffs for Jerry and Ann Moss,  Zenyatta transcended the sport of Thoroughbred racing with her streak of 19 straight victories, her only career defeat coming at the hands of Blame in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Zenyatta won the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park and captured the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, retiring with 13 Grade I victories. Her first foal, a 2-year-old dark bay colt by Bernardini named Cozmic One, is currently in training with Shirreffs.

Zenyatta also has a yearling colt by Tapit name Ziconic, foaled in April 2013.

“As caretakers of these Thoroughbreds, we collectively mourn the loss of this beautiful filly,” Mike Cline, general manager of Lane’s End said in a statement. “On behalf of the Farish family and the entire staff at Lane’s End Farm, our condolences go out to  Jerry and Ann, Team Zenyatta and all the great fans who support Zenyatta.”

Team Zenyatta asked that all messages of love and condolence be sent to the Zenyatta office.

Defending winner Magician out of Breeders’ Cup Turf

Coolmore Stud’s Magician will be scratched from his attempted title defense in the Breeders’ Cup Turf after  he was discovered to be lame in his right front, trainer Aidan O’Brien said Wednesday morning at Santa Anita Park.

“Very disappointing really,” O’Brien said. “This is the race we were looking at all year. Just this morning, when he came out for his trot, he was acutely lame.”

Magician is the second major defection in as many days for the Breeders’ Cup. On Tuesday, Grade I winner and  morning line favorite American Pharoah was declared out of the Juvenile with a possible foot bruise.

A 4-year-old son of Galileo, Magician captured last year’s Turf by half a length over The Fugue, capping off a year that also saw him win the Group I Irish 2000 Guineas. The bay horse has struggled to get back to that form this year, with a win in the Group III Mooresbridge Stakes his lone triumph in six starts this season.

Magician was coming into the Turf off a runner-up finish to Hardest Core in the Grade I Arlington Million.

“Obviously we hadn’t gotten him back this year to last year,” O’Brien said. “But everything through the year had been to come here. We were just dialing him, gently, gently, gently until this was the one we decided to push him for. It’s just a big pity.”

Magician is slated to stand at Coolmore’s Kentucky-based Ashford Stud for 2015. He retires with five wins from 14 starts and $2580,402 in earnings.

American Pharoah out of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

Grade I winner American Pharoah, the morning line favorite for Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, will scratch from the race  due to an injury to his left front foot, his connections said Tuesday.

Trainer Bob Baffert  said they noticed the colt was off after his five-furlong work this Sunday. While x-rays and ultrasounds came back clean, the son of Pioneerof the Nile was still showing signs of a possible deep bruise in the foot and will be sent for a nuclear scan this week.

“It’s just to the point where he is so valuable and we all know what a great horse he is, how valuable he is,” Baffert said. “I didn’t want to risk it and (owner) Mr. (Ahmed) Zayat didn’t want to risk it.

“I’ve had horses scratch close to a race but this is probably the most disappointing. He was something special, I haven’t had a colt like this is a long time. It’s a pretty tough pill to swallow but he’s going to be okay. The timing is just killer. It was tough.”

Baffert said the foot was getting better and that the issue was not soft issue and “it’s not bone.”

“It’s part of the business that knocks you down to the ground,” Baffert said. “He’s never had a bad day. It’s sickening. When I saw him yesterday I was hoping well maybe…I have had a few foot bruises that get better in a couple days.  But when you have something like that in this caliber of race, you can not even think about it. I didn’t want to take that chance.”

Owned by Zayat Stables, American Pharoah has won two of his three career starts. He broke his maiden in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity, winning by 4 3/4 length on September 3 and most recently took the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita by 3 1/4 lengths on September 27.

“Just the way he’s trained, some horses are born freaky like that,” Baffert said. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet that he’s out. It’s nothing career ending but the timing is really bad.”

Champion Beholder scratched from Fasig-Tipton November sale

Two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder has been scratched from the Fasig-Tipton November Sale on November 3 due to her continued recovery from an illness that knocked her out of next week’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Spendthrift Farm announced Saturday night.


Beholder was declared out of her expected title defense in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last Sunday when she spiked a fever that hit 104 degrees. The 4-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes has shown improvement but is not considered well enough to ship from her base at trainer Richard Mandella’s Santa Anita Park barn to the sales grounds.


“Beholder continues to recover from her illness, and while her fever is down and she’s acting much better, veterinarian Jeff Blea of Von Bluecher, Blea, and Hunkin Inc. in California has advised us not to ship her cross country to Kentucky right now,” said Ned Toffey, general manager of Spendthrift, said in a release. “We had radiographs taken of her lungs (Friday) and she did have some inflammation, so we’re going to do right by Beholder and allow her to continue to get better. She’ll be scratched from the November sale, and Dr. Blea believes she probably needs 30-60 days to recover. Then Beholder should be ready to resume training, pending a full recovery.”


Beholder was expected to be among the sale toppers in an outstanding Fasig-Tipton catalog that features three Kentucky Oaks winners going through the ring. A six time Grade I winner, Beholder won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and 2013 Distaff en route to earning divisional honors. She has 10 wins from 15 starts with $3,368,300 in earnings.



Breeders’ Cup enhances Convicted Trainer Rule for 2015

The Board of Directors of  Breeders’ Cup Limited announced Saturday it has unanimously voted to modify its Convicted Trainer Rule to prohibit the pre-entry or entry of any horse found to have tested positive for any substance listed under Class One or Class Two, Penalty Category A, in the twelve month period preceding the Championships.  As part of the Board revision of the Convicted Trainer Rule, Breeders’ Cup will also implement rule modifications prohibiting the participation in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships by assistant trainers or other employees that affected trainers may transfer horses to following the imposition of sanctions under the rule.


The rule modifications will be implemented for the 2015 Breeders’ Cup and all subsequent Championships.


The current incarnation of the Convicted Trainer Rule states that “No person may participate as a trainer of a horse pre-entered or entered in a Breeders’ Cup World Championships race if that person, during the twelve months preceding the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, has been found by any racing regulatory agency, whether a governmental agency or a non-governmental regulatory body, to have violated a racing regulation prohibiting the possession or use of any substance listed under Class 1, carrying Category “A” or “B” penalties, or Class 2, carrying a Category “A” penalty, in the Association of Racing Commissioners International Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances or a racing regulation prohibiting the possession or use of steroids and the appeal periods for such finding shall have expired or all appeals, if any, will have received final disposition (a “Drug Conviction”).”


The rule has come into the spotlight leading up to this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park on October 31 and November 1 due to the fact that trainer Doug O’Neill is currently serving concurrent suspensions levied by the California Horse Racing Board and New York State Gaming Commission for a prohibited substance found in the horse Wind of Bosphorus at Belmont Park in June 2013.



While the Breeders’ Cup announced that O’Neill would not be able to pre-enter any horses in this year’s event under the Convicted Trainer Rule, some of his trainees –  including defending Dirt Mile winner Goldencents – were transferred to race under the name of his top assistant Leandro Mora, thus allowing their participation in the upcoming Breeders’ Cup races.

“Our Board is strongly committed to the principle that the most important asset of the Breeders’ Cup is integrity, and there is no place in the Championships for those who are unable to comport with the rules prohibiting the administration of prohibited substances,” Breeders’ Cup chairman Bill Farish said in a statement.


While the contemplated changes will not be applicable for the 2014 event, Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO, indicated that the goal of the rule changes is to put owners and trainers on notice that serious medication violations will have consequences at the highest level of the sport.


“We are hopeful that in selecting a trainer, owners will exercise the utmost care to assure themselves that a horse in that trainer’s care will not be treated improperly. A commitment to playing by the rules is vital to the future of the sport.”


WinStar Farm acquires half interest in Grade I winner Daredevil

Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm announced Friday it has acquired half interest in Grade I Champagne Stakes winner and expected Breeders’ Cup Juvenile contender Daredevil in a partnership with Let’s Go Stable.


The deal calls for the son of More Than Ready to stand alongside his sire at WinStar Farm at the close of his promising racing career. Todd Pletcher will remain as trainer.


Daredevil is unbeaten in two career starts to date, breaking his maiden by 6 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park on September 13 before taking the one-mile Champagne by 2 1/2 lengths under jockey Javier Castellano.


“We had been patiently looking for a top son of our leading sire More Than Ready to bring alongside in the WinStar stallion ranks, and we believe Daredevil is the most exciting one to come along yet,” said Elliott Walden, president and CEO of WinStar. “He is a Grade I winner on dirt, and extremely fast. We are grateful to be partners with Let’s Go in this promising young star, and we hope to share in all of the success they have had in such a short amount of time. We can’t wait to race Daredevil, and eventually add him to our stallion roster.”



The chestnut colt hails from the multiple Grade I-producing Forty Niner mare Chasethewildwind, and was purchased for $260,000 by Pletcher as agent for Let’s Go Stable at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale. Daredevil has earned $345,000 to date.

Report of mares bred shows slight increase

Edited release:

The Jockey Club today released Report of Mares Bred (RMB) statistics for the 2014 breeding season. Based on RMBs received through October 13, 2014, The Jockey Club reports that 1,547 stallions covered 34,540 mares in North America during 2014, up slightly


The annual statistics represent approximately 92% of the mares that eventually will be reported as bred in 2014. According to historical trends, The Jockey Club expects to receive RMBs representing an additional 2,000 to 3,000 mares bred during the 2014 breeding season.


The number of stallions declined 8.9% from the 1,698 reported at this time in 2013, and the number of mares bred increased 1.1% from the 34,174 reported at this time last year.


The number of stallions covering 100 or more mares increased from 88 in 2013 to 97 in 2014. These stallions accounted for a greater percentage of the total mares reported bred this year — 36.4% of all mares bred in 2014 versus 34.0% of all mares bred in 2013 as reported at this time last year.


Further book size analysis shows an 8.3% increase in the number of mares bred to stallions with a book size of 100 or more in 2014 when compared to 2013 as reported at this time last year; a 12.9% increase in mares bred to stallions with a book size between 75 and 99; a 4.8% decrease in mares bred to stallions with a book size between 50 and 74; a 1.2% increase in mares bred to stallions with a book size between 25 and 49; and a 9.2% decrease in mares bred to stallions with a book size fewer than 25.


The stallion Kitten’s Joy led all stallions with 204 mares bred in 2014. Rounding out the top five were Into Mischief, 203; Scat Daddy, 202; Midnight Lute, 186; and Violence, 181.


Kentucky traditionally leads North America in Thoroughbred breeding activity. During 2014, Kentucky’s 233 reported stallions covered 16,826 mares, or 48.7% of all of the mares reported bred in North America. The number of mares bred to Kentucky stallions increased 7.2% percent compared with the 15,695 reported at this time last year.


Of the top 10 states and provinces by number of mares reported bred in 2012, Kentucky, Florida, and California, New York, and Maryland stallions covered more mares in 2014 than in 2013, as reported at this time last year. The following table shows the top 10 states, ranked by number of mares reported bred in 2014 through October 13:


State/Province 2013 Stallions 2014 Stallions Pct. Change 2013 Mares Bred 2014 Mares Bred Pct. Change
Kentucky 235 233 -0.9% 15,695 16,826 7.2%
Florida 126 122 -3.2% 2,853 2,910 2.0%
California 136 143 5.1% 2,332 2,472 6.0%
New York 62 51 -17.7% 1,560 1,614 3.5%
Louisiana 137 116 -15.3% 1,833 1,609 -12.2%
New Mexico 97 84 -13.4% 971 871 -10.3%
Oklahoma 89 67 -24.7% 928 813 -12.4%
Pennsylvania 53 55 3.8% 902 809 -10.3%
Maryland 30 33 10.0% 647 751 16.1%
Texas 105 88 -16.2% 865 735 -15.0%

Note: Each incident in which a mare was bred to more than one stallion and appeared on multiple RMBs is counted separately. As such, mares bred totals listed in the table above may differ slightly from counts of distinct mares bred.



Declaration of War to Ashford Stud for 2015

Multiple Group I winner Declaration of War,  third in his only start on dirt in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, will re-locate to Ashford Stud for the 2015 breeding season.


The son of War Front, who was beaten only a nose and a neck by Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge in the Classic, is out of a half-sister to Champagne Stakes and Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags. Declaration of War stood his first season at Coolmore’s headquarters in Fethard, Co. Tipperary where he commanded a fee of €40,000.


Unbeaten as a two-year-old in France for Jean-Claude Rouget, Declaration of War recorded two wide-margin successes by a combined 11 lengths. Having joined Aidan O’Brien he last year contested five straight Group I races in Europe during a nine-week period in mid-summer. winning both the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Juddmonte International Stakes at York.


“Declaration of War has an incredibly similar profile to (fellow Ashford Stud stallion) Giant’s Causeway who also joined us after standing a single season in Ireland,”  Ashford manager Dermot Ryan said in a release. “Both were unbeaten at two, both won some of Britain’s key Group I races over a mile and a mile-and-a-quarter and both ran incredible races on their first starts on traditional dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. And then of course they’re both by top sires out of daughters of Rahy from great American families. Bred by Joe Allen in whose colors he ran, Declaration of War was one of the best yearlings ever raised here on the farm and we’re delighted to be getting him back.”

A fee will be announced at a later date.

Record 201 horses pre-entered for Breeders’ Cup

A record 201 horses, including 38 from overseas, have been pre-entered for the 2014 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park, surpassing the prior record total of 194 pre-entered in 2011.


The 31st Breeders’ Cup World Championships will consist of 13 races with purses and awards totaling $26 million. It will be held at Santa Anita Park for the third consecutive year on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1. There will be four Breeders’ Cup races on  Friday and nine Breeders’ Cup races on Saturday.


The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live by NBCSN and NBC. The $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic will be broadcast live and in primetime on Saturday, November 1 on NBC (8-9 p.m. ET).


Goldencents (Dirt Mile), Ria Antonia (Juvenile Fillies), Magician (Turf); Secret Circle (Sprint) and Dank (GB) are the five 2013 winners pre-entered for this year’s Breeders’ Cup. A total of 37 horses have received automatic qualifying berths into the races through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series.


An oversubscribed field of 15 horses have been pre-entered for this year’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic going 1 1/4-miles, headed by champion Shared Belief and dual classic winner California Chrome.


Friday’s headline event is the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up. Juddmonte Farms’ Close Hatches was the undisputed divisional leader off a 4-for-4 record this year for trainer Bill Mott but will need to rebound from a disappointing fourth-place finish behind Don’t Tell Sophia in Keeneland’s Grade I Juddmonte Spinster on October 5. The 4-year-old daughter of First Defence, who was second to Beholder in last year’s Distaff, won Oaklawn Park’s Apple Blossom in April, the Phipps and Personal Ensign prior to her loss in the Spinster.


While the Classic and Distaff figure to have deserving and identifiable favorites, the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf and $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf are shaping up as deep and wide open affairs. The Turf, run over 1 ½ miles, is led by Flaxman Holdings’ homebred Main Sequence, who has done little wrong in winning all three U.S. starts—in grade I company—for trainer Graham Motion. Coolmore’s defending Turf champion Magician will also attract support, although the 4-year-old son of Galileo, has won just once this year, but has been second in three group one races, including the Arlington Million.


The Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, run at 1 ¼ miles, is led by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Stephanie’s Kitten, who could be the favorite off her sharp win in Belmont’s Grade I Flower Bowl on September 27 for trainer Chad Brown. Tough competition should come from defending champion Dank, who has started just twice this year, most recently a fifth place finish in Prince of Wales at Royal Ascot.


The defection of two-time defending race winner Wise Dan from the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile has opened up the race considerably as 25 horses have been pre-entered. The Europeans expect to have the top contenders leading with Al Shaqab Racing’s Toronado, who won the group one Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot for trainer Richard Hannon. The 4-year-old son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf winner High Chaparral lost the Prix de Moulin de Longchamp by just a head in his most recent start on September 14. Wertheimer et Frere’s Anodin, a full-brother to three-time Mile winner Goldikova, was second in the Group I Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August for Freddy Head and was third to Toronado in the Queen Anne.


A maximum of 14 starters are allowed in each of the 13 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races with the exception of the Dirt Mile (12). Breeders’ Cup Limited has adopted a field selection system to select runners in the event fields are oversubscribed. This system ranks horses in order of preference based on (i) Breeders’ Cup Challenge race winners, (ii) a point system, and (iii) the judgment of a panel of racing experts. The field selection system was implemented following the taking of pre-entries on Monday, Oct. 20, to officially rank the oversubscribed fields. The Racing Secretaries and Directors Panel (the “Panel”) ranked all horses pre-entered in the oversubscribed races. After pre-entry, any vacancies in the fields will be filled by horses in order of panel preference. Entry for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships races will be Monday, Oct. 27 by 10:00 a.m. (PT). At the time of entry, a maximum of 14 horses (or 12) will be accepted for each race based on the order of preference established at pre-entry.


There will be up to two (2) also-eligible horses for each Championship race. The also-eligible horses will be designated in accordance with the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel’s order of preference for each Championship race that is oversubscribed at the time of pre-entry. Scratch time for all Championships races to be contested on both Championship Friday and Championship Saturday will be 8:00 a.m. PT, Friday, Oct. 31.


For the complete list of pre-entries, visit:


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