Archive for March, 2015

Carpe Diem made even-money favorite for Grade I Blue Grass Stakes

Even for two of Thoroughbred racing’s most successful operations, farms that have made their mark dancing cheek to cheek with risk, what transpired when the gavel fell on hip No. 343 at the 2014 OBS March 2-year-olds in training sale amounted to a huge gamble.

The reality of the public auction area is that a majority of the seven and eight figure darlings never live up to their final bid, a by-product of an eternally optimistic marketplace colliding with the inherent tough odds every would-be racehorse must overcome.

So when the connections of WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stables teamed up to purchase a handsome son of Giant’s Causeway for $1.6 million at the OBS auction, the co-sale topper theoretically had one more albatross fixed upon his chestnut neck.

Already a Grade I winner and near-millionaire four starts into his career, Carpe Diem has become that rare high-dollar prospect who is threatening to make his final price a bargain. With a spot in the Kentucky Derby field already solidified in terms of qualifying points, the son of Giant’s Causeway is again tabbed a clear standout as he was deemed the even money morning-line favorite after drawing post five over seven others for Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

This year’s 1 1/8-miles Blue Grass Stakes is being held one week earlier than its usual spot three weeks out from the first Saturday in May.

In going head-to-head against the Santa Anita Derby in California and the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct this year, the Blue Grass lost a couple contenders to those circuits. Carpe Diem’s return to Keeneland, however, was pretty much locked in after he won the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity by 6 1/4 lengths last October, a freakish effort that came in just his second career outing.

In his seasonal bow and first start since running second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Carpe Diem added himself to the list of good 2-year-olds who have carried their form over when he won the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby on March 7 by five lengths.

As the only Grade I winner in the Blue Grass field and Ocho Ocho Ocho the only other contender with a graded stakes win to his credit, Carpe Diem stands one solid, healthy outing away from becoming the first seven-figure auction purchase to make the Kentucky Derby field since Cowtown Cat ($1.5 million purchase at 2006 Barretts 2-year-old sale) and Any Given Saturday ($1.1 million 2005 Keeneland September purchase) both started in 2007.

“We knew the horse from the OBS March sale…and he would have been a high, first-round draft pick at that point,” said Todd Pletcher, trainer of  Carpe Diem. “We were well aware of his capabilities early on…but what surprised me more than anything was the amount of speed he had.

“Normally a horse with his pedigree, you wouldn’t think to start them off (going) 5 1/2 furlongs their first start. When a horse like him is able to win in that type of situation, and then be able to stretch out to 1 1/16-miles in his next start, you don’t see that very often. It’s pretty exceptional. And he’s done all the things physically from 2 to 3 you would want him to do.”

WinStar Farm had Carpe Diem pegged as such from the start as they were the underbidders on him when he sold for $550,000 as a yearling at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Though WinStar doesn’t make it a habit to buy in the seven-figure range,  farm president Elliott Walden was given the go-ahead by owner Kenny Troutt to do what it took to land the colt when he reappeared as a 2-year-old. Knowing the level of what it would take to own him, Walden and Stonestreet bloodstock advisor John Moynihan paired up in the first partnership between the two operations.

“Most horses that bring that kind of money…not all of them work out so it was definitely out of character for what we do,” Walden said. “We basically kind of have a formula we follow as far trying to get Derby-type colts and we try to do that at a much lower cost basis.

“But every now and then (Kenny) said you have to go with your gut. He allowed us to step out of what we normally do and go ahead and purchase him. And it’s certainly worked out well.”

Classy Class, third last time out in the Grade III Gotham Stakes, drew post No. 7 in the eight-horse field and was made the co-second choice on the morning line with Ocho Ocho Ocho at 6-to-1 odds.

“This will be a true test for him, a two-turn race for him at 1 1/8-miles,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Classy Class. “(Carpe Diem) is definitely the horse to beat, maybe something happens and he has a bad day. But even him having an off day, we need to have our best day to be competitive. We just hope we run really well.”

Peace and War made Ashland favorite
Peace and War, winner of the Grade I Darley Alcibiades last October, was installed as the slight 3-to-1 morning line favorite for the Grade I Ashland Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday.

Trained by Olly Stevens for Qatar Racing, Peace and War will break from post No. 3 in a field of seven entered. The daughter of War Front has not started since winning the Alcibiades as she was sidelined shortly after due to a slight tear of the XYZ ligament at the base of her fetlock.

“She’s really training great,” Stevens said. “Now it’s a case of she’s either good enough or she’s not.”
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: Twitter: @horseracinghl.

Champion Groupie Doll delivers Tapit colt early

Champion Groupie Doll delivered her first foal, a colt by Tapit, prematurely on March 5 and the foal is currently receiving care at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Wayne Sweezey of Timber Town Stable confirmed on Saturday.

Groupie Doll had a due date of March 11. The two-time Eclipse Award winning daughter of Bowman’s Band did not suffer any post foaling complications herself and is slated to be bred back to Tapit in the coming days.

Sweezey, whose Timber Town Stable boards mares on behalf of Mandy Pope, owner of Groupie Doll, said the Tapit foal was immediately rushed to Rood & Riddle and is currently on a nurse mare.

“He was a little premature and Ms. Pope is going to give him every chance to survive and be a viable individual,” Sweezey said. “They have done a great job over at the clinic. He is getting better and better but because he was early, all the bones weren’t developed. Hopefully he will go on and develop and be a normal foal.”

Bred and campaigned for most of her career by Frankfort-based Fred and Buff Bradley, Groupie Doll won 12 of 23 career starts including four Grade I races. The 7-year-old mare captured back-to-back editions of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, winning the 2012 edition by 4 1/2 lengths and defending her title in 2013 with a half length victory.

Both of her Breeders’ Cup triumphs cemented year-end honors for the popular distaffer as she was an overwhelming pick for champion female sprinter in 2012 and earned the Eclipse Award again the following season. Days after her second Breeders’ Cup triumph, Groupie Doll was purchased by Pope from the Bradleys and their partners for $3.1 million at the 2013 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

She would go on to make two more starts in Pope’s colors, finishing fourth in the 2013 Grade I Cigar Mile before capping off her career with a seven-length win in the 2014 Grade III Hurricane Bertie Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Groupie Doll retired with $2,648,850 in earnings.


RMTC board approves cobalt threshold

Edited release:

The board of directors of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) announced Thursday that a uniform threshold for cobalt regulation in the United States was approved at its regularly scheduled meeting held on March 24 at Gulfstream Park racetrack in Hallandale, Florida.


The cobalt threshold, which was developed and unanimously recommended by the RMTC’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), will be submitted to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) for consideration as a model rule at RCI’s April meeting in Tampa Bay, Florida. Technical assistance will be provided by the RMTC to individual jurisdictions seeking to adopt cobalt regulations. The SAC is a standing committee of the RMTC, comprised of leading chemists, pharmacologists, lab directors, regulatory veterinarians and racetrack veterinarians from across the U.S. horse racing industry.


Under the RMTC recommendation:


  • Horses that test above 25 parts per billion (ppb) of cobalt in plasma shall be: (i) subject to a fine or a warning for the first offense; (ii) placed on the veterinarian’s list; and (iii) ineligible to race until they test below 25 ppb of cobalt in plasma (at the owner’s cost); and
  • Horses that test above 50 ppb of cobalt in plasma shall be subject to a class B penalty which in most jurisdictions includes: (i) disqualification of the horse; (ii) a fine; and (iii) trainer suspension.


“This proposal is designed to protect the health and welfare of the race horse,” explained Dr. Rick Arthur, RMTC Secretary and California’s equine medical director. “The recommended thresholds provide generous allowances for vitamin and mineral supplementation but make the administration of cobalt salts impractical. Importantly, the 25 ppb total cobalt threshold in blood is comparable to the 100-200 ppb thresholds in urine being administered internationally.”


In other action, the RMTC board approved Interim Accreditation for the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory (PETRL), after receiving a report from the Horseracing Testing Laboratories Committee – a committee which oversees the RMTC laboratory accreditation process. PETRL is the sixth laboratory accredited by the RMTC since the program began in 2011. With this action, Pennsylvania becomes the 24th horse racing state to utilize an RMTC-accredited lab and an external quality assurance program for its equine drug and medication testing services.


RMTC laboratory accreditation is one of four key components of the National Uniform Medication Program. The RMTC board received updates on the nationwide adoption of a Controlled Therapeutic Substances Schedule, third-party administration of furosemide, and a Multiple Medication Violation penalty system. In the past 15 months, the industry has seen major gains in the number of jurisdictions that are presently operating or soon-to-be operating under one or more of the reforms.


“We applaud the many state racing authorities and industry stakeholders around the U.S. who are working diligently toward nationwide adoption of the uniform medication program,” said Alex Waldrop, RMTC Chair. “These reforms are critical to the health and safety of horse and rider, while also creating a level playing field for horseplayers and for horsemen who race in multiple jurisdictions.”


The RMTC board also addressed the use of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) – an endogenous substance that has also been inappropriately administered on race-day as a performance enhancer under the name Carolina Gold. Representatives from the SAC updated the RMTC board on the status of research into the proper regulation of GABA, including an RMTC-funded administration study and industry-sponsored analysis of more than 400 post-race samples. Based upon the final results of the SAC’s study and analysis, the RMTC board expects to finalize a recommendation concerning a normally occurring threshold for GABA in the next two weeks. The RMTC will then submit the recommended threshold for GABA to the RCI for consideration at its April meeting.


The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing. The organization works to develop and promote uniform rules, policies and testing standards at the national level; coordinate research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants; and protect the interests of the racing public.

Leading sire Smart Strike euthanized due to laminitis

Two-time champion sire  Smart Strike was euthanized on Wednesday, succumbing to a case of laminitis, Lane’s End Farm announced. The son of Mr. Prospector was 23.

Smart Strike, who was commanding a fee of $100,000 for the 2015 season, had a top career at stud siring 112 stakes winners, 12 Champions, four Breeders’ Cup winners and two Classic winners. Smart Strike had been doing incredibly well for his age but recently took a turn for the worse.

“We are very saddened by the loss of Smart Strike,” William S. Farish, owner of Lane’s End Farm, said in a statement. “He has been one of our flagship stallions for many years. He was an exceptional sire and his influence on the breed will be felt for a long time. I want to thank Sam-Son Farm for entrusting us with his stallion career as well as the other shareholders and breeders that have supported him.”

Smart Strike was bred and raced by Sam-Son Farm, establishing himself as multiple graded stakes winner in his eight-race career. The highlight of his racing days came when he captured the 1996 edition of the Grade I Philip H. Iselin Handicap by 2 ¼ lengths, defeating a field that included champion distaffer Serena’s Song.

Out of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame mare Classy ‘n Smart, Smart Strike stud career ranks among the sports best on the track and in the sales ring.   Retired to stud in 1997, he is credited with over $118 million in progeny earnings, including two-time Horse of the Year and leading sire Curlin.   His offspring also include notable names such as English Channel, Lookin at Lucky and My Miss Aurelia.

In 2007, Smart Strike established the single-season record for progeny earnings when his offspring racked up a total of $14,358,570. That record stood until 2014 when Gainesway leading sire Tapit shattered the old mark with more than $16.8 million in progeny earnings.

Smart Strike will be buried at Lane’s End Farm.


Keeneland announces enhanced security protocols for Blue Grass Stakes

Keeneland has announced security measures for horses participating in the Grade I, $1 million Toyota Blue Grass to be held Saturday, April 4.


Horses competing in the Blue Grass are required to be on the Keeneland grounds 54 hours in advance of the race, no later than noon on Thursday, April 2. Twenty-four-hour security for each entrant will begin at noon on April 2 and end at 6 p.m., post time for the Blue Grass, on April 4.


Keeneland requires horses participating in all other stakes during the Spring Meet, including the Grade I Central Bank Ashland and Grade I Madison, also held on Saturday, April 4, to be on the grounds four hours prior to post time for their stakes. Each stakes entrant will be placed under security watch at that time.


“These enhanced protocols ensure the integrity of the  Blue Grass and our entire racing program, and serve to protect the public and our fans,” said Keeneland Vice President of Racing Rogers Beasley.


Keeneland has mandated the following protocols and steps for horses participating in the  Blue Grass:


  • The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) will take out-of-competition blood samples of horses competing in the Toyota Blue Grass and send them to LGC Science Inc. in Lexington, Ky., for immediate testing. The KHRC will coordinate with other jurisdictions to obtain out-of-competition samples from horses that are not stabled in Kentucky. In a follow up, Beasley said such testing currently does not include testing for cobalt, which is naturally occurring but has been used by some as a blood-doping agent, because Kentucky is waiting for the Association of Racing Commissioners International recommendations on threshold levels. However, Beasley added he does expect testing for cobalt will be added in the future.
  • Horses competing in the Blue Grass are required to be on the Keeneland grounds 54 hours in advance of the race, no later than noon on Thursday, April 2, and remain on the grounds until after the running of the race. Exceptions will only be granted in the case of an unforeseeable emergency, as determined by Keeneland security in consultation with the Stewards.
  • Twenty-four-hour security for each entrant will begin at noon on April 2 and end at 6 p.m., post time for the  Blue Grass, on April 4.
  • Horses shall stay in their trainers’ current barns and stalls on the grounds, which shall be monitored at all times by additional security personnel.
  • Trainers shall submit a list of treating veterinarians to the Stewards no later than noon on Thursday, April 2.
  • The stalls for all horses entered in the Blue Grass shall have an identifying marker on them.
  • Security personnel will monitor all treatments performed by veterinarians. All containers for medications administered will be retained by the KHRC for possible testing.
  • A full daily veterinarian’s record of all medications and treatments given to horses from noon on Thursday, April 2, until after the running of the race shall be provided to the KHRC Chief Veterinarian located in the detention barn.
  • Entry-exit logs will be maintained by security personnel. All persons – including grooms, veterinarians, trainers, assistant trainers, farriers, owners or other connections – on entering the stall, or engaging in contact with the horse or performing any service for the horse, must possess a valid KHRC license. Each person will be logged in by security personnel with the reason for their visit.
  • All equipment, feed, hay bales, etc., are subject to search and seizure, as provided by law, by both Keeneland and the KHRC.
  • As is current policy, Lasix administration will take place in the horse’s own stall by a KHRC veterinarian. Syringes will be preserved by the KHRC for possible testing.
  • The KHRC, in conjunction with Keeneland, will appoint a single 24-hour point person each day for trainers and connections to contact in case of an emergency.
  • On Saturday, April 4, no treatment will be permitted (beyond Lasix for specifically designated horses) unless it is for an emergency or as approved by the Stewards.
  • On Saturday, April 4, horses participating in the  Blue Grass will be required to be in the Assembly Barn between 45 minutes to 1 hour before post time for TC02 testing. They will then be escorted with security personnel to the Paddock.
  • Blue Grass participants will receive priority for Paddock schooling with security personnel present.


Dubai Sky reigns in Spiral Stakes

FLORENCE – The first Saturday in May hasn’t been a priority where Dubai Sky was concerned, as evident by the fact his connections let the early nomination period for the Triple Crown pass without throwing his name and the $600 fee into the mix.

They have until 11:59 p.m.  EST on March 23 to make the son of Candy Ride a late nominee. The $6,000 late fee and a case as to why such a route should be considered was taken care of Saturday when the bay colt surged to a 2 1/4 length victory in the Grade III, $550,000 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, earning himself 50 qualifying points toward a start in the Kentucky Derby.

Owned by Three Chimneys Farm and Ben Leon’s Besilu Stables, Dubai Sky came into the Spiral slightly under the radar in that he was trying both a synthetic track and graded stakes company for the first time. His potential class spoke for itself, however, as he came into the 1 1/8-miles test having won three of his four prior career starts, all on turf, including a head victory in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream  Park January 24.

The decision to go to the Spiral was largely brought on the fact Turfway’s Polytrack surface plays favorable to turf horses. Though non committal about a possible Kentucky Derby venture, his connections suggested that a late nomination was at the very least a worthy consideration.

“He paid his way (for the late nomination so we’ll see,” said Chris Baker, chief operating officer for Three Chimneys. “It would be hard at this time of year with 50 points to not to at least think about it.

“The horse has shown talent so we felt good. It was just a matter of did he like the surface, could he get the trip he needed from the No. 12 hole. All those things. He showed up and did what we wanted and more.”

Running on the anti-bleeder medication Lasix for the first time, the Bill Mott trainee had the disadvantage of breaking from the outside post No. 12 in the Spiral field.
Jockey Jose Lezcano was able to hustle the bay colt into fourth position before they hit the first turn and had Dubai Sky tracking four wide just alongside stakes winner Royal Son as the opening half went in :47.57 after Watchyourownbobber took the 11-horse field through the first quarter in :22.99.

Royal Son was able to poke his head in front from between horses on the final turn but Dubai Sky was rolling three wide at that juncture and put that one away, opening up by two lengths in midstretch en route to rewarding his backers that sent him off at 7-to-1 odds.

“I though the outside would be better today. He took me to the quarter pole and I saw Mike Smith (on eventual runner-up Conquest Typhoon) behind me and I said it’s time to go,” Lezcano. “My horse really took off when I asked him.”

Final time for the 1 1/8-miles distance was 1:50.26.

Multiple graded stakes winner Conquest Typhoon made a game run to get second by a neck over Firespike, prompting trainer Mark Casse to consider a trip to Churchill Downs for the newly-named Pat Day Mile, formerly the Derby Trial, on Derby day.

“Our goal is the Queen’s Plate (at Woodbine on July 5) with him,” Casse said of Conquest Typhoon. “Obviously we’d love to win the Kentucky Derby but we want to be realistic.”

The connections of Dubai Sky now have a happy dilemma of their own on their hands.

“We just thought this race would fit his style and we thought he might be ready to step up,” said Case Clay of Three Chimneys. “Bill (Mott) has done such a nice job training him that we’ll want to talk to him before making any (Derby) decisions.”

Don’t Leave Me wins Bourbonette
One week after Gold Medal Dancer defeated champion Untapable in the Grade II Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn, fellow Pin Oak Stud homebred Don’t Leave Me gave the operation more graded stakes glory when she won the Grade III Bourbonette Oaks by three quarters of a length over Sweet Success.

Don’t Leave Me was making her first start since finishing sixth in the Grade II Natalma on the turf at Woodbine last September 13. After tracking in ninth early on in the 12-horse field, she made a wide bid and edged clear late.

“At this point, I think we’d probably stick to turf or synthetic with her,” said Pin Oak’s Clifford Berry when asked about possibly going on to the Kentucky Oaks.
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: Twitter: @horseracinghl.

Conquest Typhoon out for more graded stakes glory in Spiral Stakes

Trainer Mark Casse is both a hard-core, devotee to chasing the dream that is victory in the Kentucky Derby and a realist who knows when said hopes need the cold blanket of perspective hung over them.

It a mentally draining wrestling match he has engaged in more than once over his career. And he would very much like for Conquest Typhoon to force him into a similar position once the Grade III, $550,000 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park concludes this Saturday.

While stakes winner Royal Son was deemed the Spiral’s 7-to-2 morning line favorite and Grade III winner Metaboss tabbed as his main threat, Conquest Typhoon stands as the most accomplished member of the 11-horse field set to vie for 50 qualifying points the victor will earn towards a spot in the Kentucky Derby.

He has made all but two of his seven career starts against graded stakes company, collecting victories in the Grade II Summer Stakes at Woodbine last September and Grade III Cecil B. DeMille Stakes at Del Mar on November 30. The only time the son of Stormy Atlantic has been worse than third came when he finished a thoroughly decent fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita Park last October 31.

What would give Casse pause about going to the first leg of the Triple Crown even if Conquest Typhoon were to win the 1 1/8-miles Spiral is the fact that the bay colt has never started over a dirt track.

While the affable trainer already has a couple non-Derby plans rolling around in his mind for his promising sophomore, the best case scenario this weekend is one that has him and owner Conquest Stables making the tough call.

“I don’t want to say that if he won and won impressively we would definitely not think about the Derby. But more than likely, not,” Casse said Thursday. “This horse is eligible for the Queen’s Plate (on the Polytrack at Woodbine on July 5). And we have some questions in our mind if 1 1/8 miles is too far for him.

“If we don’t run well on Saturday, we’ll regroup and probably just stay on the turf. If he were to run well, say he runs well but not off the chart, then we’ll concentrate on trying to win the Queen’s Plate with him. But if he gave us just a super effort, there is a chance we would go to Churchill Downs and train there. But he would have to have a really big effort in the Spiral for us to even think about the Derby.”

Casse points out that part of what would fuel him to take a look at the Kentucky Derby should Conquest Typhoon’s effort merit consideration is the notion that Churchill Downs’ main track has played particularly favorable to turf/synthetic horses making the transition.

The most obvious example is Animal Kingdom, who won the 2011 Spiral Stakes en route to claiming the Kentucky Derby in his first try on dirt. Further backing up that argument are performances from the likes of Dullahan, who won all his Grade I races on synthetic tracks but ran third in the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Paddy O’Prado, a future Grade I winner on turf who finished third in the 2010 Kentucky Derby.

“I’ve said for the last 7-8 years that Churchill Downs to me, especially in the spring, not the fall, is as close to synthetic as any track there is,” Casse said. “There is a good reason for it. Churchill Downs has a lot of clay in its track and the warmer it gets, the harder it gets and the less penetration in the top of the surface occurs. And that is what a synthetic horse likes. On the turf they bounce over the top, same thing with synthetic. And that’s what happens.

“‘I think back to when I had Seaside Retreat (10th in the 2006 Kentucky Derby). He ran second in the Spiral, we took him to the Blue Grass Stakes when Keeneland was still dirt… and he got beat 30 lengths, he couldn’t handle it. But we took him to Churchill and he trained well and…he beat half the field. It was just a huge improvement.”

None of the above will come into play if  Conquest Typhoon does not improve off his seasonal debut, though there is reason to think a move forward is on the horizon. His third place finish behind Metaboss in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby on February 14 was his first start since November 30. And instead of coming from off the pace as is his usual style, jockey Mike Smith had Conquest Typhoon up on the lead down the backstretch trying to take advantage of pedestrian fractions that saw the half-mile go in :49.25.

“He hadn’t ran in three months so that was one thing,” Casse said. “I thought he actually ran really well. Typically I didn’t necessarily want to be up on the pace but Mike thought as it was there was no pace, so he said lets go with it. But I  don’t think we’re going to run in that problem on Saturday. He has enough speed where Mike should be able to be wherever Mike wants to be. And wherever Mike wants to be is where I want to be.”











Hall of Fame trainer Jerkens dies at age 85

Obit courtesy of NYRA:

Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens, who trained hundreds of stakes winners and engineered some of the biggest upsets in racing history, died late Wednesday afternoon in a South Florida hospital after a brief illness. He was 85.

Jerkens, known reverently by the racetrack community as “The Chief,” was born on April 21, 1929 in Islip, New York, the son of a former Austrian cavalry captain who owned a riding academy. Jerkens’ father enjoyed rehabilitating injured race horses and sending them back to the track, a hobby that influenced Allen to pursue a career as a thoroughbred trainer, although he started out as a steeplechase jockey.

Once he grew too big to continue riding professionally, Jerkens began training thoroughbreds, and at the age of 21, Jerkens saddled his first winner on July 4, 1950 at Aqueduct Racetrack with Populace. Two owners who helped launch his career were Eddie Seinfeld, who claimed Admiral Vee for $12,500, and Al Meser, who owned War Command, Jerkens’ first stakes winner. Jerkens also was a longtime trainer for Jack Dreyfus’ Hobeau Farm, for which he developed Beau Purple, Prove Out, Duck Dance and Handsome Boy.

Although he rarely ventured outside New York, Jerkens’  national reputation soared during the 1970’s, when he twice defeated Secretariat: first with Onion in the 1973 Whitney Handicap, and then later that same year with Prove Out in the Woodward Stakes. The monumental upsets solidified Jerkens’ moniker as “the Giant Killer,” which had seen its genesis a decade earlier when he sent out Beau Purple to defeat five-time Horse of the Year Kelso on three separate occasions. Other champions his horses defeated include Cicada, Buckpasser, Riva Ridge and Forego.

Overall, he trained 3,859 winners of nearly $104 million, placing him 11th and 14th, respectively, among trainers all-time.

“The men and women of the New York Racing Association mourn the passing of Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens, not only one of the most revered horsemen of our time, but one of the finest people our industry has ever known,” said Christopher Kay, CEO and President of the New York Racing Association. “‘The Chief’ leaves behind a lasting legacy both on and off the track. We were humbled and proud to have honored him at Saratoga Race Course last summer in our second annual Red Jacket ceremony for achievement and excellence inn our sport. Our deepest sympathies go out to his children and grandchildren.”

Due in large part to twice vanquishing the immortal Secretariat, Jerkens earned the Eclipse Award for outstanding North American trainer in 1973. Two years later, he became the youngest trainer ever inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame at the age of 45, despite not yet having trained a champion.

Jerkens’ first champion finally came in 1994, when Sky Beauty won the Eclipse Award for Top Older Female.

Other notable Jerkens-trained runners include multiple Grade I winner Devil His Due, who won the Gotham and Wood in 1992, to go along with the 1993 edition of the Pimlico Special, Suburban, and Excelsior; Believe The Queen, who won the 1984 Tom Fool; Missy’s Mirage, who won the First Flight in 1991, and the Shuvee and Hempstead in 1992; and Emma’s Encore, who won the Victory Ride and Prioress in 2012.

Jerkens won many of the major stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, except the one that mattered most to him: the Travers, also known as the Mid-Summer Derby, which was won in 2010 and 2014 by his son, Jimmy, also a trainer. His best finish in five Travers starts came with his first entrant, Devil His Due, who was second to Thunder Rumble in 1992.

Although Jerkens sent several horses to the Kentucky Derby, he never came close to winning, with his best finish coming with Sensitive Prince, who was sixth in 1978. He also never won a Breeders’ Cup race, with his best finish in 11 starts a second with Society Selection in the 2005 Distaff.

Despite his renown as a trainer, those who knew him best say his greatest success came with people, not horses. Among the trainers he mentored are Thomas Bush, Leah Gyarmati, Mike Hushion, and his two sons, Jimmy and Steven.

Jerkens, who was predeceased by his wife, Elisabeth, is survived by three sons, Allen, Steven and Jimmy, a daughter, Julie, and several grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are pending.

Castleton Lyons announces finalists for book award

Edited release:

Castleton Lyons has announced the three finalists for its ninth annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award with the winner to be announced on  April 15. The finalists include a look back 50 years ago at a legendary racehorse’s classic season; a well-penned novel about a struggling third-tier jockey; and an iconic collection of archival racing photos.


The Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award was launched in 2006 by the late Dr. Tony Ryan, founder of Ryanair airlines and owner of Castleton Lyons farm near Lexington. The winner will earn a $10,000 prize along with a custom-designed Tipperary Irish crystal trophy depicting Castleton Lyons’ famed Irish round tower. Runners-up receive checks for $1,000, plus trophies.


Past winning authors have included Eclipse and National Book Award winners, a Pulitzer Prize-nominee, a noted European sports writer, and renowned journalists at some of America’s premier newspapers and magazines.


Originally called the Castleton Lyons Book Award, the name was changed in 2007 to honor Dr. Ryan, who passed away that fall. Current Castleton Lyons president, Shane Ryan, has since hosted the award annually in memory of his father.


Judges for the 2014 award are: Kay Coyte, managing editor of the Washington Post-Bloomberg News Service; TVG-HRTV broadcaster/producer Caton Bredar; and David Owen, freelance sportswriter and winner of the 2013 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award for Foinavon: The Story of the Grand National’s Biggest Upset.


Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington will be showcasing the award in a display and will stock all three finalists’ books. For more information, contact Betsy Hager at:


The finalists in alphabetical order are:



Northern Dancer: The Legendary Horse That Inspired a Nation

Author: Kevin Chong


A well-researched study of the great Northern Dancer’s 1964 classic campaign when the undersized champ captured the first two jewels in the Triple Crown, only to fall short of immortality in the Belmont. Chong focuses not only on the horse himself, but on his colorful connections: Canadian industrialist owner, E. P. Taylor, debonair South American trainer Horatio Luro, and fiery tempered jockey, Bill Hartack.


Offerings from a Rust Belt Jockey

Author: Andy Plattner


Flannery O’ Connor Award-winner Andy Plattner, previously a Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award finalist with his 2008 coffee table history Kentucky Derby Vault, returns with the fictional tale of a small-time journeyman jockey named Carl Arvo. Short, but well-crafted, it is a story about love, ambition, gambling, risk, and luck in the often unforgiving world of horse racing, alternately funny and poignant, and packed with powerful dialogue.



RaceLens: Vintage Thoroughbred Racing Images

Author: Philip Von Borries


Compiled over a two-decade span by an Eclipse Award winning historian, this artistic volume showcases the Keeneland Library’s archival photo collection and features the work of many of racing’s most legendary racing photographers. Included in RaceLens are some of the sport’s iconic images along with never-before-seen shots of old-time champs, early jockeys, and long-defunct racetracks. Pictures are accompanied by text, with forward by past Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award winner Bill Mooney.

Texas Red off Kentucky Derby trail

Texas Red, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November, was officially declared off the Kentucky Derby trail early Tuesday morning.

In a statement posted on the Texas Red Facebook page, his connections wrote:

“Considering the best interests of the horse and his long-term welfare, the connections of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red have decided to remove him from consideration for the Kentucky Derby. We feel we do not have adequate time to prepare Texas Red for a prep race that he would need to get in condition for, and attain adequate points for, a Derby start.

“We look forward to bringing him back to the races when he is ready to compete once again at the highest level, and hope to again share his talent and brilliance with racing fans throughout the country.”

Texas Red had been sidelined since emerging from his second-place finish in the San Vicente Stakes on February 1 with a foot abscess. The bay son of Afleet Alex was sent to Premier Equine Center in Oakdale, about five hours north of Santa Anita in California’s Central Valley, to recover from the abscess and returned to trainer  and co-owner Keith Desormeaux two Sunday’s ago.

Texas Red did put in workout this past Saturday, covering four furlongs in 51.40 as  Desmoreaux held out hope of making either the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 4 or the Grade I Arkansas Derby  at Oaklawn Park on April 11.

Owned by a group that includes Desormeaux, Erich Brehm, Wayne Detmar, and Lee Michaels, et al, Texas Red has won two of six career starts with $1,232,300 in earnings. He made a last-to-first rally to capturd the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by 6 1/2 lengths, but now becomes the third consecutive Juvenile winner to not make the Kentucky Derby, following Shanghai Bobby in 2012 and New Year’s Day in 2013.

The last Juvenile winner to run in the first leg of the Triple Crown was 2011 winner Hansen,  who finished ninth in the 2012 edition of the classic.


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