Archive for August, 2015

Star Spangled Stakes offers fans chance to sing National Anthem at Keeneland

Edited release:

Keeneland will host a competition titled Star Spangled Stakes to select the singer to perform the National Anthem on Prelude to the Cup day, Thursday, Oct. 29.

The winner of the Star Spangled Stakes will sing the anthem trackside just before racing on Prelude to the Cup day, the nine-race card that precedes the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland on Oct. 30-31. The singer and five guests will enjoy a VIP Prelude to the Cup experience with Loge Box seating, on-site parking, food vouchers, programs and a Breeders’ Cup merchandise package.

“Keeneland is excited to present the Star Spangled Stakes competition,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “The opportunity to showcase Central Kentucky’s talent in a unique way during the Fall Meet and at Prelude to the Cup, and have a little fun while doing it, felt like the perfect fit for a community that has so fully embraced the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.”

To enter the competition, people must submit a 90-second video of them singing an a capella song of their choice Keeneland judges will select the 30 performers demonstrating the most talent to be invited to call-backs at the Keeneland Entertainment Center on Friday, Sept. 11, where they will perform the National Anthem before a panel of judges.

The panel will select 10 finalists to perform the anthem live during the Keeneland Fall Meet, to be held Oct. 2-24. Video of each finalist also will be featured on, where fans can watch the performances and vote for their favorite singer.

The winner will be announced on closing day of the Fall Meet.

Rules for the Star Spangled Stakes:


  • Contestants must be at least 10 years old and submit on a 90-second audition video of themselves performing an a capella song of their choice. Online submissions are open from 11:59 a.m. ET, Thursday, Aug. 27, to 11:59 p.m.,Friday, Sept. 4.
  • Once submissions close, Keeneland will invite the 30 performers demonstrating the most talent to audition live at the Keeneland Entertainment Center at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11. Contestants will be required to sing the National Anthem at the audition.
  •   From the live auditions, a panel of judges will select 10 finalists who each will sing the National Anthem before the races on a date to be determined from Oct. 2-18.
  • Each finalist will be featured with a dedicated page on and have his or her live anthem performance shared on Keeneland’s social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. They also will receive race-day accommodations on the day of their performance.
  • Upon the conclusion of the final live performance on Oct. 18, public voting will open at to determine the winner. Voting will end at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22. The contestant receiving the most votes will be announced on closing day of the Fall Meet, Saturday, Oct. 24.

Additional information for the Star Spangled Stakes, including submission forms, competition rules and more can be found


Future plans uncertain for American Pharoah; Keen Ice to train up to Breeders’ Cup

Edited NYRA release:

Showing no signs of fatigue or sorrow from his first loss in more than a year, Triple Crown champion American Pharoah met with some lucky fans one last time Sunday morning before saying goodbye to Saratoga Race Course.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert led American Pharoah to a fence outside his barn on the main track backstretch, where the colt obligingly accepted carrots and stood for pictures before reluctantly being led back to his stall. He is scheduled to depart early Monday morning for California via Kentucky.
“I’m happy with the way he looked today. I could tell he’s not upset,” Baffert said. “You could see when he was out here, he was himself. He was his sweet self.”
After battling with fellow Grade I winner Frosted from the starting gate to the top of the stretch, American Pharoah didn’t have enough left to hold off late-running Keen Ice in Saturday’s Grade I, $1.6 million Travers. The bay Pioneerof the Nile colt had won eight straight races, seven of them Grade I, including his historic sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes this spring.
The final time for the 1 ¼-mile Mid-Summer Derby was 2:01.57, the fastest since Point Given won in 2:01.4 in 2001 – Baffert’s lone Travers victory in five tries. Last summer, Baffert finished last in the Travers with eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern.
“It’s unfortunate when you get beat like that. I thought he tried so hard under the circumstances and he was still trying to win,” Baffert said. “He could have given it up. He could have done like Bayern and said, ‘Adios. I’ll see you in the next dance.’ He just dug and dug.”
Baffert did not second-guess the decision to bring American Pharoah to Saratoga, where 15,000 people showed up to watch him gallop the morning before the Travers, his second race since the Triple Crown. On August 2, he won the Grade I Haskell at Monmouth Park.
“I wasn’t disappointed with his race. We were all sad. We really wanted him to win. He’s been so great to us; that’s why I’m not disappointed in him. He tried. If I had to do it again, I would have brought him here. I’m glad I brought him. I think racing needed something like this,” Baffert said.
“It’s amazing, what he’s done for racing. Everybody in town afterward, when they saw me they said, ‘We’re sorry. We feel so bad for you, Bob, but thanks for bringing that horse.’ It almost ended well. Almost. We almost pulled it off.”
In the immediate aftermath of the Travers, owner Ahmed Zayat wondered if he had pushed American Pharoah too hard and said if he shows even the slightest sign of regression, that he would be retired. Baffert said Sunday that no decision has been made.
“Mr Zayat is a very emotional man. We were all pretty disappointed. We were like in shock. We were surprised he got beat. We weren’t really prepared for a losing speech. When we hit it, it was like, we’ve just got to get through this,” Baffert said. “Basically, we’ll let the horse tell us what he’s doing. I really don’t know what the thought is. I know [Zayat will] be going back and forth. He brought him up here. You really have to thank him. He wanted to share him. He’s a sportsman for bringing him up here and sharing him with Saratoga. He did it for racing, and it didn’t work out. The horse was just valiant in defeat and he was trying so hard. He was empty, empty, at the top of the stretch and he was still trying to win. I still thought there was a chance.”
Baffert said if American Pharoah does run again, he would likely train up to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic October 31 at Keeneland. He will be retired at the end of his 3-year-old campaign and stand stud at Coolmore.
“We’ll just get him back there and let him chill for a little bit. He needs to chill. He’s been running, and he got a little hot yesterday, which he usually doesn’t get hot. Sometimes it means the racing might be getting to him a little bit. As you saw, the way he looks today he looks pretty good,” Baffert said. “We’ll just play it by ear. Ahmed Zayat, it’s his horse. My job is if I see something, if he were to come up with something I didn’t like, then I’d tell him. Nothing has shown up today. We’re glad that he looked fine and he’s healthy. I didn’t see any problem there.
“He looks great today,” he said. “According to the sheet guys, he was the play against. He was supposed to bounce, which he did. That’s what they do. He could come back and freshen up and run. I don’t think he tailed off; I think he just didn’t bring his ‘A’ game. If you look at him, he still looks pretty healthy. He doesn’t look like a tired horse.”
When the time does come to say goodbye, Baffert said it will be difficult on the entire team, including wife Jill, son Bode, assistant Jimmy Barnes and exercise rider Jorge Alvarez.
“I think we’re all going to cry. We just don’t know. I think Ahmed was very emotional. It was tough to see him lose. It’s going to be tough to let go,” he said. “But, we’ve both said that if we see something where he’s just tailing off or something like that, that he needed more time, that we’d make that call. Right now, I just haven’t heard. He could have won (the Travers) and he could have pulled the plug. There’s a lot of rumors out there but I don’t hear any of those.
“Sometimes, you feel like he’s invincible, but they all get beat,” he said. “There’s no horse that’s ever done it like he’s done it. I’ve never had a horse that could bring performance after performance after performance. I’ve had horses throw a big performance, but they can’t keep it going. He almost did it.”
*           *           *
Keen Ice’s victory in Saturday’s Travers Stakes was so cool that trainer Dale Romans’ smart phone actually froze.

“It’s been overwhelming since last night,” he said while standing outside the barn and still soaking in post-race glory. “I’ve been in a lot of big events and won a lot of big races, but the lingering effect of this one is bigger than (winning) the Preakness or any of them. I had so many calls my phone froze up and I haven’t been able to use it since last night. I finally got it working late this morning. I know everybody thinks I’m ignoring them, but it wouldn’t work.”

Romans, an Eclipse Award-winning trainer who has experienced more valleys than peaks this year until winning the prestigious Travers, praised Triple Crown champion American Pharoah for the work he did to finish second. He also gave Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert high marks.

“I think American Pharoah ran his race. His speed figure was really good,” said Romans, who added he and Baffert spoke for 30 minutes last night. “Bob is a class act and a sportsman. He was proud of his horse, as he should have been. He knew what he was up against coming over here. I thought he had his horse well prepared and that he ran well. He took the worst of it getting hooked on the lead and had to work. But great horses have to earn it. They have a target on their back.”

Donegal Racing’s color bearer, who had lost to American Pharoah in three straight Grade I’s before the Travers – the Kentucky Derby, Belmont and Haskell – just walked the shedrow this morning.

“He was laying down last night before I left and that’s the first time I had seen that, so he was tired,” said Romans. “I think he really got a lot out of the race. I’d never seen him tired, but he’s tired now, and with every right to be so.”

Romans said that for now the long term plan is to train Keen Ice up to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. In the short term, he will be on the same plane with American Pharoah and Baffert’s pony, Smokey, headed for Lexington, Ky. early Monday morning. Keen Ice will deplane there and van to Romans’ stable at Churchill Downs while Baffert’s pair fly on to Southern California.

Even though the Travers winner won’t be in Saratoga, his legacy will live on. The Spring Street Deli has already added the “Keen Ice” to the menu.

“It’s Wonder white bread, bologna, Velveeta cheese and Miracle Whip. That’s a hillbilly sandwich straight from South Lousiville. The blue collar horse needs a blue collar sandwich,” quipped Romans.

*           *           *
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin reported Sunday morning that Travers third-place finisher Frosted came out of the race in fine fettle and may point to the Grade I, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational on October 3 at Belmont Park.
Frosted, owned by Godolphin Racing, found himself in an unusual position on Saturday pressing the early pace set by American Pharoah. The gray son of Tapit dueled with the Triple Crown winner for much of the 1 ¼-mile journey, even putting a head in front as they left the far turn before succumbing in the final eighth of a mile. He finished three lengths behind winner Keen Ice and 2 ¼ lengths behind American Pharoah.
“He’s in good shape,” said McLaughlin. “He certainly put in a good effort; it just wasn’t exactly the game plan. I was excited at the quarter pole, we were head and head. I thought maybe we were going to get lucky again, but it didn’t work out. He ran a big race.”
McLaughlin was forced to call an audible when, two races before the Travers, Frosted’s jockey, Joel Rosario, was injured in a spill and forced to take off his mounts. After carefully weighing his options, McLaughlin went with Jose Lezcano, who rode Wedding Toast to victory for McLaughlin and Godolphin in the Grade I Ogden Phipps on June 6 at Belmont.
“When Wedding Toast ran (in the Ogden Phipps), I told [Jose] to lay third,” said McLaughlin. “He broke, he (went to the lead), and he kept going and won by five. This time, it looked like American Pharoah would be on the lead, maybe Upstart would press him, and we’d be third to fifth. We always break well, but just try to sit third to fifth. He took it upon himself to go and engage him early because no one else was there.
“It’s so tough to lose your jockey 30 minutes before the race,” McLaughlin added. “Joel has been working him since March and knows him so well and rides him so well. We didn’t want to engage (American Pharoah) that early but Jose rode him well. It was unfortunate for us and maybe for American Pharoah, too.”
*           *           *
Grade II Jim Dandy winner Texas Red has emerged from his fifth-place finish in Saturday’s Travers in good condition, according to Julie Clark, Keith Desormeaux’s Saratoga-based assistant trainer.

Clark reported that nothing appeared to be amiss with the Afleet Alex colt, who bumped the gate at the start of the race and seemed to lack his usual kick in the stretch, ultimately finishing 11 ¾ lengths behind winner Keen Ice.

“He seems good,” she said. “He certainly left us with a few questions after yesterday. I mean, they don’t fire every time but we obviously expected a very different effort out of him. There’s nothing obvious, we even had a vet take a look at him and didn’t find anything. I guess we’ve got to chalk it up to ‘just not his day,’ which is great but disappointing at the same time.”

Texas Red kept to his regular post-race routine, walking the shedrow and grazing outside of the barn Sunday morning. Clark described the colt’s demeanor as “business as usual. (He’s) a little tired, obviously, and resting but that’s about it.”

Multiple Grade I winner Palace Malice retired; will stand at Three Chimneys

Multiple Grade I winner Palace Malice has been retired from racing and will stand stud at Three Chimneys Farm for the 2016 season, Dogwood Stable and Three Chimneys  announced in a release on Thursday.

Palace Malice had been plagued by a series of physical setbacks this season in his attempt to return from bone bruising that was discovered following his sixth place finish in the 2014 Grade I Whitney last August. The 5-year-old son of Curlin only managed two starts this year, running third in the Diablo Stakes at Belmont Park on May 10 and fourth in the Alydar Stakes at Saratoga on August 9.

“It is with great disappointment that we announce the retirement of Palace Malice,” said Dogwood Stable’s President Cot Campbell. “He is the horse of a lifetime who has brought our partners exciting memories that will live on forever. After getting a clean bill of health in November subsequent to an uncharacteristic performance in the Whitney last year, I owed it to my partners and the fans to give it our best shot to see if we could bring the mighty son of Curlin back in 2015.

“Despite our sporting effort, it was not meant to be.”

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Palace Malice was one of the most versatile runners of his generation. The bay horse rebounded from a 12th place finish in the 2013 Kentucky Derby to capture that year’s Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown, as well as the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes.

When Palace Malice returned for his 4-year-old season, he rattled off four consecutive victories en route to establishing himself as one of the nation’s leading handicap horses. He opened his campaign with wins in the Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap, Grade II New Orleans Handicap and Grade III Westchester Stakes before earning arguably his most impressive career win in the 2014 Grade I Met Mile.

In the Met Mile, Palace Malice overcame having to break from the undesirable No.1 post position and gamely fought past eventual two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents to win by a length.

“Palace Malice was all class from day one. He was one of those rare horses whose raw speed allowed him to dominate his division as a miler yet whose stamina had  him winning the Belmont against the best of his generation,” Pletcher said. “He was the most versatile horse I have ever trained, and one of the best. You don’t see such a talented, multi-dimensional horse like this very often. To win the Belmont one year and come back the next year and win the Met Mile in 1:33 2/5 …it’s an unbelievable accomplishment, and indicative of his exceptional talent.”

Bred by William S. Farish, Palace Malice retires with seven wins from 19 starts and $2,691,135. A stud fee for 2016 has yet to be announced but Palace Malice will be available for inspection at Three Chimneys throughout the upcoming Keeneland September yearling sale.

“Palace Malice is a valuable addition to the strengthening roster at Three Chimneys, as he possesses a superb physical to go along with an amazing body of work as a racehorse,” said Doug Cauthen, Vice Chair of the Three Chimneys’ Board. “John Malone’s Bridlewood Farm will be a cornerstone partner in the horse, and we anticipate that a coalition of shareholder partners will be added over the next month to ensure this extraordinary horse’s chances to succeed at stud.”


Breeders’ Cup announces public transportation plan for Keeneland Breeders’ Cup

Edited release:

Breeders’ Cup and Keeneland have announced public transportation service plans for the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will offer shuttle service from three Park-and-Ride locations in the Lexington area to and from Keeneland Race Course on October 30 and 31.

Breeders’ Cup and Keeneland have established public shuttle service from the following Park-and-Ride locations: Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington, Whitaker Bank Ballpark, and the Kentucky Horse Park. In addition, the Kentucky Horse Park and Rupp Arena will offer Park-and-Ride service for Keeneland’s “Prelude to the Cup” race card on Thursday, October 29. For more information on Prelude to the Cup tickets and parking, click here.

Parking passes for the three locations are available for purchase now on the Breeders’ Cup Parking & Transportation page and are subject to availability. Limited options will be available for day-of purchases.

The key details are as follows:

  • Parking at Keeneland will be limited to those with official pre-paid parking credentials. Vehicles arriving at Keeneland without an official onsite parking credential will be redirected to a Park-and-Ride location.


  • Park-and-Ride tickets purchased in advance online will be $20.00 per car each day at all three locations for parking on October 30 and 31. All park-and-ride parking passes will be available as a print-at-home pass, with a unique barcode. All patrons can either print out the passes and show them at the lots upon entry or can also show the passes from a smartphone. Park-and-Ride passes will not be mailed. All Park-and-Ride parking passes will be emailed to the user in an immediate email confirmation.


  • In addition, patrons may pay a $25.00 fee for event day “drive in” purchase only at the Kentucky Horse Park. There will be no event-day parking purchase availability at Rupp Arena or at Whitaker Bank Ballpark; only pre-paid online purchases will be accepted.


  • Breeders’ Cup ticketholders without cars may also purchase a day of “walkup”, $5 shuttle ticket at Rupp Arena on Friday and Saturday.


  • All Park-and-Ride passes include courtesy shuttles to/from Keeneland and complimentary Breeders’ Cup World Championships track programs for each person.


“The Park-and-Ride locations will provide Breeders’ Cup ticketholders with smooth and convenient transportation to and from Keeneland for the Championships,” said Bob Elliston, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Breeders’ Cup Limited. “We greatly appreciate our association with Rupp Arena, Whitaker Bank Ballpark and the Kentucky Horse Park as official parking locations, and with local Lexington transportation authorities for their cooperation and assistance in the Park-and-Ride program.”


The following venues have been identified as official Park-and-Ride locations for the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships:


Park-and-Ride Options


Breeders’ Cup World Championships

Friday, October 30 and Saturday, October 31


  1. Kentucky Horse Park

–      ADA Handicap accessible lot

–      Pre-purchase parking passes available online

–      Day-of event parking passes available onsite


  1. Rupp Arena

–      Must pre-purchase parking passes online

–      Walk-up shuttle only passes available onsite


  1. Whitaker Bank Ballpark

–      Must pre-purchase parking passes online

Prelude to the Cup

Thursday, October 29


  1. Kentucky Horse Park

–      ADA Handicap accessible lot

–      Pre-purchase parking passes available online

–      Day-of event parking passes available onsite


  1. Rupp Arena

–      Must pre-purchase parking passes online

–      Walk-up shuttle only passes available onsite


Breeders’ Cup Week Racing Schedule at Keeneland

Shuttles will run continuously each day departing approximately every 15 minutes.

Thursday, October 29: Prelude to the Cup

  • Public shuttles will begin at 10:30am; Last public shuttle will be at 6:30pm
  • Gates open at Keeneland at 11:00am; 1st Post is 12:30pm; Last Post is 4:57pm

Friday, October 30: Breeders’ Cup World Championships

  • Shuttles will begin at 9:30am; Last shuttle will be at 7:00pm
  • Gates open at Keeneland at 10:00am; 1st Post is 12:30pm; Last Post is 6:10pm

Saturday, October 31: Breeders’ Cup World Championships

  • Shuttles will begin at 8:30am; Last shuttle will be at 7:00pm
  • Gates open at Keeneland at 9:00am; 1st Post is 11:00am; Last Post is 6:15pm

Zayat Stables pledges percentage of American Pharoah’s earnings to New Vocations

Edited release:

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program announced Tuesday that Zayat Stables, owner and breeder of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, has committed to donating a percentage of the champion colt’s purse earnings for the remainder of his racing career to support the program’s mission to rehab, retrain and rehome retired racehorses.

Zayat Stables retires horses to New Vocations each year and is an ongoing supporter of the annual Breeders’ Cup pledge, where owners and trainers opt to pledge a percentage of their Championship earnings to the aftercare program.  This year, Zayat Stables is taking it a step further by pledging a percentage of American Pharoah’s earnings leading up to and including the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

American Pharoah is slated to contest Saturday’s Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga, which will have a $1.6 million purse contingent on the son of Pioneerof the Nile starting in the race.

“We feel owning a horse is a lifelong responsibility, which is why we are happy to support New Vocations’ aftercare efforts. We are firmly committed to the care of our horses from the moment they are born, while they are on the track and once they retire,” said owner Ahmed Zayat.

“We are very thankful and honored to be the recipient of the Zayat Stable’s generous pledge,” said Anna Ford, New Vocation’s Program Director. “The Zayat’s truly care about their horses beyond the track and we are forever grateful for their ongoing support of our program.  We hope their kind gesture will encourage other owners to do the same, as we rely heavily on donations to continue to take in hundreds of retired racehorses each year and ensure their successful second careers.”

New Vocations first opened their barn doors in 1992 to retired racehorses looking for new careers. Starting with a single farm in Dayton, Ohio, the program has grown to six facilities in Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Serving over 40 racetracks, New Vocations works directly with owners and trainers in need of an aftercare program for horses leaving the track. Currently, the program leads the nation in racehorse adoptions, taking in over 450 horses each year. The program has a sound adoption system in place that is proven to move a large number of horses in a rather short period of time. Their focus is on adoption

Tickets on sale for Keeneland’s ‘Prelude to the Cup’ day

Edited release:

Keeneland will celebrate its first time to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Oct. 30-31, with a special day of racing titled Prelude to the Cup to be held Thursday, Oct. 29. Individual ticket reservations for Prelude to the Cup will go on sale beginning Tuesday via

All seating and dining for Prelude to the Cup will be sold in advance. General Admission tickets, which do not include a seat, are $5 and will be available for purchase at Keeneland on Prelude Day. Children 12 and under will receive free General Admission with a paid adult.

Keeneland has carded nine races for Prelude to the Cup highlighted by the $100,000 Lafayette  for 3-year-olds and older at seven furlongs on the main track. Gates open at 11 a.m. ET; post time for the first race is 12:30 p.m.

“Prelude to the Cup will be an unforgettable day of racing at Keeneland on the eve of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “The look and feel of the entire Keeneland campus will convey the excitement of Breeders’ Cup and will offer our guests an opportunity to view world-class racing in a unique setting. This is truly a memorable time in the history of this great race track.”


Keeneland will offer guests a variety of seating and dining accommodations for Prelude to the Cup, ranging from established fan favorites to distinctive new venues.


Fans can experience a number of facilities constructed just for Breeders’ Cup that afford once-in-a-lifetime views of the action. Among these exceptional options are:


  • Clubhouse Lawn Chalet: Located along the Clubhouse turn, this dining chalet offers stunning views of the race track.


  •   Saddling Paddock Chalet: This dining chalet provides premium views of the horses as they circle the Saddling Paddock before making their way to the track.


  • Grandstand Loge Boxes: These open-air boxes between the sixteenth pole and just past the finish line are elevated from the first floor Grandstand to offer commanding views of live racing.


As a new feature for Prelude to the Cup, Keeneland will offer table dining on the second-floor Grandstand, with views of the Saddling Paddock and Walking Ring.


Additionally, dining reservations are being taken for the Lexington/Kentucky Room, which features panoramic views of the race track; the Phoenix Room, which overlooks the Saddling Paddock and Walking Ring, and the trackside Equestrian Room. Grandstand reserved seats also will be sold.


Due to great demand, parking at Keeneland will be limited to those with official pre-paid parking credentials. Vehicles arriving at Keeneland without an official on-site parking credential will not be permitted onto Keeneland’s grounds and will be directed to a park-and-ride location. For more information please visit


New Vocations to host pair of Kentucky events

Edited release:

New Vocations will be hosting two Kentucky events in September: a Thoroughbred-only charity horse show on Saturday, Sept. 12 and an open hunter pace on Sunday, Sept. 20. Proceeds from both events will go to support the program’s efforts to rehab, retrain and rehome retired racehorses.

Held in conjunction with The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program, the one-day New Vocations Charity Thoroughbred Show will offer newly retired racehorses, as well as seasoned show horses, a chance to compete at the historical Kentucky Horse Park in both the Rolex Stadium and the Walnut Ring. Junior/Amateur and Open Hunter Derbies and Jumper Stakes classes will be offered, as well as multiple over-fences, flat and pleasure classes. Additional Thoroughbred awards will be offered, and a special Thoroughbred recognition ceremony will take place in the Rolex Stadium.

The second annual New Vocations Hunter Pace will take place on Sunday, Sept. 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Scheffelridge Farm in Paris, Kentucky. The event will be ridden over 100 Bluegrass acres on a course simulating hunting terrain in teams of two to four riders.

With jumping, non-jumping, and family/pleasure divisions of between two and four riders, there’s something for everyone, no matter their discipline or experience level of horse and rider. Riders that don’t have a team can be assigned one. Teams finishing closest to the optimal time (without going over) will win great prizes and ribbons to sixth place will be awarded. Jumps can be jumped at any height (6”, 2’, 2’3” or 2’7”) or not at all. Also available on this fun-filled day is toddy stops sponsored by Buffalo Trace and a Poker Pace. The team with the best “hand” of poker at the finish will win a prize.

New for this year are awards for Best Tailgate, Best Costume, Best Barn Representation and Best Turned Out. Thoroughbred-only awards will include Best Thoroughbred Team, Oldest Thoroughbred, Youngest Thoroughbred, Most Recently Raced and Most Money Earned. Tailgating is encouraged and an awards presentation will take place at 4 p.m.

For more information on either of these great events, please visit and click on the “Events” tab.

New Vocations first opened their barn doors in 1992 to retired racehorses looking for new careers. Starting with a single farm in Dayton, Ohio, the program has grown to six facilities in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Currently, the program leads the nation in racehorse adoptions, taking in over 450 horses each year.

Champion Beholder deemed morning-line pick for Pacific Classic

The sporting world always gets wound up for an old fashioned battle of the sexes. Because no matter how often it occurs, there is undeniable intrigue that comes with seeing a female athlete at the top of her game matching skills with male counterparts.

Should champion mare Beholder become the first distaffer to defeat males when the 25th running of the Grade I, $1 million Pacific Classic is contested this Saturday at Del Mar, it would be a remarkable milestone on what is already a Hall of Fame worthy resume.

While that’s all well and good with regards to Beholder’s legacy, that factor alone was not what swayed her connections into taking on such a task. When trainer Richard Mandella, jockey Gary Stevens and owner B. Wayne Hughes evaluated what was before them, they simply saw a horse doing as good as ever in a career of sustained excellence who deserved a chance to exert their skills beyond the confines of their division.

Already regarded as the top female runner in the country, the chance has come for Spendthrift Farm’s Beholder to officially crown herself one of the best older horses in training, period. In a field that features reigning Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern and Grade I winners Hoppertunity and Hard Aces, it is the two-time Breeders’ Cup heroine and two-time Eclipse Award winner bringing the most heat to the table as Beholder was installed as the 5-to-2 morning line favorite out of post nine in a field of 10 for the 1 1/4-miles Pacific Classic.

The decision to take on males for the first time with the 5-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes was one Beholder herself had the most say in. Her seven-length victory in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch  at  Del Mar on August 1 – the 13th career win and seventh Grade I triumph of her career – left her Hall of Fame jockey working harder to find adequate words in the aftermath than he did while in the saddle.

Where once her temperament quirks tested Mandella’s Hall of Fame horsemanship, Beholder is now a grown lady who, frankly, owes nothing to anyone in terms of her accomplishments.

Hence, her connections felt they owed it to her to get out of a comfort zone she has already mastered.

“I think the filly vs. colts thing gets maybe a little overdone here because it’s not done quite as much in this country. But I think it’s probably less about that and more about she’s doing so well  and it’s a good race with a good purse and the timing seems right,” said Ned Toffey, general manager of Hughes’s Spendthrift Farm. “And it probably doesn’t detract from her that much if she doesn’t run a big race. She’s gotten so much better mentally, not that she was ever bad mentally, but she’s so professional now and she’s become really push button.”

Added Mandella, “I don’t often do it, but I don’t often get one as good as Beholder. I think she deserves a chance to step up. I think when you come to a point when you’re winning in your own class so much, you probably ought to try something different.”

The notion of a setback being a blessing in disguise is often an attempt by sufferers to soothe themselves. In the case of how Beholder’s 2014 campaign ended, there is a genuinely grateful tone to how it played out.

Last October, Beholder had to miss her attempt at winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff for a second straight time and a Breeders’ Cup race for a third consecutive year when she spiked a fever less than two weeks out from the event. Her illness also prevented her from shipping to Kentucky where she was slated to be sold at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton November sale.

At the time, it was a frustrating end to a campaign that also saw the bay mare sidelined for much of the summer after suffering a gash in her left hind pastern while running fourth in the Grade I Ogden Phipps last June. Seeing her comeback to take the Santa Lucia Stakes in her seasonal bow this April 10 and the Grade III Adoration Stakes on June 13 prior to her Clement L. Hirsch win has allowed her people a bonus chance to soak in a most special individual.

“Last year was sort of anticlimactic,” said Toffey, who added the current plan is to offer Beholder at auction following the Breeders’ Cup this year.  “She had some bad luck on timing issues. But Richard has always taken such good care of her and that we felt like that this is a filly that still had plenty of good racing still left in her.

“They don’t come around like her very often and so we basically wanted a do-over. I think this year… we’ve been able to sit back and take her in and just say ‘Wow’.
Beholder has never tried the Pacific Classic’s 10-furlong distance and she will likely have Bayern pressing the issue on the front end. While she doesn’t have the most stamina laden pedigree, the way she has drawn off going 1 1/8-miles suggest she could overcome what her bloodlines say is an issue.

More than one pundit has suggested Beholder might be among the few who could seriously challenge Triple Crown winner American Pharoah should they ever meet. While the Breeders’ Cup Distaff is the main target, Toffey said he would “not say no” to considering the $5 million Classic pending Saturday’s outcome.

“When I won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on her two years ago, I said I’d never felt the power and had the confidence I had in that race except for maybe one or two colts,” Stevens said. “She (Beholder) was just dominant. I felt that had she run against the colts in the Classic that day, she could have won it.

“She’s a sweetheart in the stall, but when she steps on the track she becomes a man. I go along for the ride.”

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

Keeneland to offer Breeders’ Cup tours to fans

Edited release:

Keeneland will celebrate hosting the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s 13-race, $26 million championship event on Oct. 30-31, by offering hour-long, guided tours that will give fans an insider’s look at the rich connection between Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup. Tours will begin Saturday, Aug. 22.

Breeders’ Cup Tours will be available at 8:30 a.m. ET on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Each tour group is limited to 30 people, who will receive souvenir lapel pins. The cost is $8 per person; children 12 and under are free.

“The Official Breeders’ Cup Tour will weave the history and importance of the Breeders’ Cup with that of Keeneland and Central Kentucky; all three play a significant role globally in Thoroughbred racing and breeding,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “This year marks the first time Keeneland is hosting the Breeders’ Cup, a homecoming for Thoroughbreds born and raised in Central Kentucky, many of whom were sold at a Keeneland auction, have run here and will return here to compete.”

The walking tour includes stops at Keeneland’s Paddock, Grandstand and Winner’s Circle, where guests will learn how each location will be used for the Breeders’ Cup and see all the preparations for the event. They will watch a short video about the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, have photos taken in the Winner’s Circle with a replica of the Breeders’ Cup trophy and see horses train on the main track.

On weekdays, visitors are encouraged to visit the Keeneland Library to see additional Breeders’ Cup memorabilia, including original works by the internationally celebrated artist “Peb” (Pierre Bellocq) and photographs of prominent Breeders’ Cup races and horses.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at or at Keeneland’s Ticket Office located near the Clubhouse and Grandstand South entrances on tour days starting at 8 a.m.

Tours will continue Oct. 2-14 during Keeneland’s Fall Meet and Oct. 25-28 during Breeders’ Cup Week. The schedule of those tours will be announced.

American Pharoah smooth as ever in four furlong breeze

Edited release:
Triple Crown champion American Pharoah worked a half-mile in :47.60 under rider Martin Garcia Sunday morning at Del Mar with an estimated 800 people looking on from the grandstand.
Trainer Bob Baffert and owner Ahmed Zayat and his family also monitored the work from the grandstand and came away pleased.
“He went nice; like he always does,” Baffert said. “I think this empty track today (Del Mar closed the track for training between 7:45 and 7:55 to all except Pacific Classic horses and Triple Crown winners) allowed him to relax some. When he’s got horses all around him, he gets keyed up.”
American Pharoah came onto the track at approximately 7:45 with Baffert assistant Jim Barnes alongside on his stable pony. They backtracked to the finish line, then jogged to just past the six-furlong pole. American Pharoah galloped up to the half mile marker, then went into work mode, coming down the stretch to applause and cheers from the crowd.
Official split times from the clockers were: 12.40, :24.60, :35.80, and :59.80  and 1:13.60 for six furlongs on the gallop out.
“It went super good,” Garcia said back at the stable area. “Bob just told me to work him like we usually do and make sure we get a little bit out of it. He was just cruising. It’s like he’s still getting better and better. This horse is unbelievable.”
Head clocker John Malone noted the horse was well within himself for the move. American Pharoah’s work was categorized as “breezing” (without urging), a sparingly-used designation by Southern California circuit clockers.
“I think he’s doing fine,” Baffert said.  “I’m always checking with his riders – George (Alvarez), Manny (Avila) who gets on him on his (George’s) day off, Martin (Garcia) and asking if they feel anything different; asking if he’s done anything that is a change. But all the reports are good. Everything they’ve said so far has been positive. Actually, it’s amazing how this horse has held his form for so long.”
Baffert reflected briefly on the overall American Pharoah experience.
“The ride (with the horse) has been good, but I can feel the pressure,” Baffert said.  “I’ve got a lot of responsibility with him – to the racing industry, to everyone. I’ve got to make sure he’s 100%. I’ve got to focus on the horse from here on out, make sure everything is right for him.
“Today (in his work) he looked like the ‘Pharoah’ we know. His ears were up and forward, he was looking around checking things out; doing it easy. It’s what we want to see.
“I’ll work him again next week. We’ll see when. Then we’ll probably know what we’re going to do next.”
The most likely next start for American Pharoah would be the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, August 29. The $1 million Pacific Classic, the signature event of the Del Mar summer meeting, is next Saturday, August 22. Baffert was asked about the possibility of parading American Pharoah for the crowd on Pacific Classic Day.
“If I was sure that we weren’t going to the Travers, then it would be a no-brainer,” Baffert said. “But when you put them in front of a crowd it can take something out of them. I’m just not sure about that yet.”


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