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Bobby’s Kitten deemed 3-1 morning line choice for Blue Grass

Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Bobby’s Kitten was installed as the 3-1 morning line choice over 13 other rivals slated to go to post in Saturday’s Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Bobby’s Kitten landed in  fortuitous spot in post No. 5 in the full field of 14 entered. The front-running son of Kitten’s Joy is coming off a victory in an allowance race going one-mile on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs on March 8 in what was his first start since running third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last November.

Medal Count, who is being wheeled back in the Blue Grass after winning the Grade III Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland last Friday, drew post No. 13 and was deemed the 9-2 second choice.  Todd Pletcher trainee Gala Award, winner of the Grade III Palm Beach Stakes, has the outside post No. 14 and was made the 5-1 third choice.

 

Full post positions w/odds:

PP 1 – Asserting Bear (15-1)

PP 2 – Extrasexyhippzter (15-1)

PP 3 – Pablo Del Monte (12-1)

PP 4 Harry’s Holiday ( 10-1)

PP 5 Bobby’s Kitten ( 3-1)

PP 6 Coltimus Prime (20-1)

PP 7 Casiguapo (30-1)

PP 8 Dance With Fate (12-1)

PP 9 Big Bazinga (20-1)

PP 10 So Lonesome (50-1)

PP 11 Coastline (20-1)

PP 12 Vinceremos (8-1)

PP 13 Medal Count (9-2)

PP 14 Gala Award (5-1)

Grade I winner Egg Drop retired with tendon injury

Edited release:

Grade I winner Egg Drop has been retired from racing it was announced Tuesday after a routine exam following exercise and subsequent scan showed the mare sustained a small tear to her left front superficial digital flexor tendon.

 

Owned by Little Red Feather Racing Club, Egg Drop had been preparing for a start in the Grade I Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland this Saturday.

 

“Although she’s never taken an unsound step and the prognosis is for a full recovery, we thought it best to retire her and give her a great life on a farm,” said Billy Koch, managing partner of Little Red Feather. “She’s taken our partners on such an amazing ride and given us so many thrills. We will breed and sell her, in foal this November.  We are very much looking forward to following the next chapter in her promising career as a broodmare.”

 

The five-year-old daughter of Alphabet Soup will travel to Kentucky Wednesday. Stallion plans are pending and will be announced in the near future.

 

Bred by Centaur Farms, Egg Drop notched three consecutive graded stakes scores over three different courses to close out her 2013 campaign. The gray mare took the Grade II Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Del Mar  in September and the Grade II Goldikova at Santa Anita on November 3 before edging Discreet Marq by a nose in the Grade I Matriarch at Hollywood Park December 1.

 

Egg Drop began 2014 by running second in the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes at Santa Anita on February 17. She retires with six wins from 13 career starts and earnings of $534,020.

 

“When bloodstock agent Tom McCrocklin called to say she was one her way to us, he said I am sending you a freak,” trainer Mike Mitchell said of Egg Drop. “Everything he said was right. She was a star and a dream to train. She won on synthetic, turf and dirt and at distances from 5 ½ furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.  Everyone from the groom to the hot walker to the exercise rider loved her. She is very correct and should throw some nice babies.”

Half brother to Tapit sells for $1 million to pace polarized Keeneland April sale

Barely a weekend goes by these days without Gainesway Farm receiving more evidence of how dominant their top sire Tapit has become. And when one houses one of the best factories in existence, it is natural to leap at a chance to acquire a commodity that boasts the same foundation.

 
The single-session Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training presented such an opportunity as Gainesway teamed up with Greg Goodman’s Mt. Brilliant Farm and owner Robert LaPenta to purchase a half brother to Tapit for a sale-topping $1 million Monday, pacing an evening of highly-selective bidding.

 
Already established as one of the Thoroughbred industry’s most desirable stallions, Tapit is enjoying another banner season at stud, leading the general sire list with likely Kentucky Oaks favorite Untapable and Kentucky Derby contenders Constitution and Tapiture among his most productive offspring this year.

 
There is quite the list of achievements his half sibling must notch before he can rival Tapit in merit. The chestnut colt by Malibu Moon answered every bell for consignor Niall Brennan, however, including breezing an eighth of a mile in  :9 4/5 during the under tack show last Thursday.

 
“He’s worth every penny and if he’s as good as I think he is, he’s worth way more than that as a stallion prospect,” said Brennan, who sold the $1 million colt on behalf of breeder Barouche Stud. “He’s been unbelievable student. The horses who have a mind like him, look like him, train like him…those horses have a chance to get to that ‘A’ level.

 
“His breeze was always within himself. He was never out of rhythm, never hustled. Only good horses can perform like that.”

 
Flanked by Goodman and John Panagot, agent for LaPenta, Gainesway president Antony Beck signed the ticket for the colt out of Tap Your Heels and said the youngster would head to the barn of trainer Chad Brown.

 
“It’s very seldom you get to have a horse like Tapit on your farm,” Beck said. “So when a half brother comes along with a lot of ability, you really want to try and own a horse like that if you can. He moved over the ground really easily, just skipped along effortlessly.”

 
The Malibu Moon colt became the first horse to sell for seven figures at the Keeneland April sale since 2009. However, he was one of just 38 horses that sold from 125 cataloged as the boutique nature of the auction was heightened due the fact 70 were withdrawn before the sale – 53 of which were pulled before the under tack show.

 
Not surprisingly, the overall gross of $8,769,000 was down 35.59 percent compared to last year’s exercise. The average of $230,763 and median of $200,000 improved by 16.97 percent and 33.33 percent, respectively, while 17 horses failed to meet their reserve.

 
Some consignors have suggested that with the shrinking foal crop, the market may not be able to support as many select sales going forward. Officials with Keeneland said any talk of altering or removing the April sale from its schedule will come at a later time.

 
“The nature of the 2-year-old market is very polarizing,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “Disappointing number of outs but the horses that went through the ring sold very well. We proved yet again we are able to recruit a group of buyers willing to give top money for horses. But we sent buyers home without horses and that’s not a good thing.

 
“I would suggest all three boutique sales will be evaluating between this and next year.”

 

Trainer Dickie Small dies at age 68

Edited Maryland Jockey Club release:

Prominent Maryland trainer Richard “Dickie” Small, who conditioned 1994 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Concern, died late Friday night after a battle with cancer. He was 68 years old.

Born in Baltimore on December 2, 1945, Small attended the Gilman School, played lacrosse at the University of Delaware and served two tours of duty during the Vietnam War as a Green Beret before launching his training career in 1974.

He finished his career with 1,199 wins with earnings of $38.9 million, according to Equibase.

“Dickie was the consummate horsemen,” said Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Coley Blind, a friend of Small for more than 40 years. “Horses came first. He put everything into the horses. He knew everything about his horse right down to the pimples. He was a good man and very easy to deal with from the racing office perspective.”

Small won 36 graded stakes during his career, including Grade I scores by Caesar’s Wish, Broad Brush and Concern.

Small considered Caesar’s Wish the best horse he ever trained. The Maryland-bred won five stakes as a 2-year-old, had four added money victories at three, including the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan and Grade I Mother Goose, where she broke Ruffian’s record.

 

Broad Brush, who retired at age four in 1987 as Maryland’s all-time money winner, was Small’s next star. The son of Ack Ack finished in the money in 24-of-27 career starts and earned nearly $2.7 million for owner-breeder Robert Meyerhoff. As a three-year-old Broad Brush won the Grade I Wood Memorial and finished third in both the Kentucky Derby  and Preakness Stakes. He came back the next year with two Grade I victories in the Santa Anita and Suburban Handicaps.

 

“The best stories about Dickie involved Broad Brush when he would take him for a ride in the van before races to get him to relax,” added Blind. “He just drove him around the Beltway and brought him back to the barn and the horse performed.”

Broad Brush’s son Concern won the 1994 Grade II Arkansas Derby and finished third in the Preakness but peaked later that season, capturing the Breeders’ Cup Classic  at Churchill Downs beating Tabasco Cat by a neck at the wire at odds of 7-1. He finished in the money in all 14 starts that year with earnings exceeding $2.5 million.

Small, who also conditioned multiple graded winners Tactile and Valley Crossing, won a stakes race in Maryland every year but one from 1974-2013.

“That is an amazing statistic,” Blind said. “I remember the year he didn’t do it (2003). He was so disappointed that the streak was broken.”

Small was known for helping launch the careers of female riders such as Andrea Seefeldt, Jerilyn Brown, Rosie Napravnik and Forest Boyce.

“As far as I’m concerned, the Dickie Small School of Racing is one of the best in the country,” Blind said. “For as gruff as Dickie could be, especially when he was younger, he had a knack of working well with female riders. Dickie knew what to look for in horses and people. He was a great teacher.”

Small’s father, Doug, and uncle, Sid Watters, were both well-known Maryland trainers.

Services for Small are still pending as of Saturday morning, according to his assistant Dylan Smith.

Bobby’s Kitten breezes for Blue Grass Stakes

Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Bobby’s Kitten went through his final serious paces in advance of next week’s Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, breezing five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 over the Polytrack at Keeneland Saturday morning.

With trainer Chad Brown watching from the grandstand, Bobby’s Kitten worked solo under Marino Garcia, finishing up well in hand as he attempts to secure a place in the Kentucky Derby with a victory next Saturday.

“He worked good, I got him in a 1:00 3/5 and I thought he did it nice and easy,” Brown said. “We’ve been working on getting that horse to relax and he’s doing real well. We’ve been working him by himself and it looked like he was real comfortable with the rider  the whole way. Hopefully he’s ready to go for (the Blue Grass Stakes).”

Bobby’s Kitten is trying to become the third horse owned by the Ramseys to qualify for the Kentucky Derby this year. The Eclipse Award-winning couple already have Grade II Louisiana Derby winner Vicar’s in Trouble and Grade III Spiral Stakes winner We Miss Artie slated to run in the first leg of the Triple Crown

Bobby’s Kitten won the Grade III Pilgrim Stakes over the Belmont Park turf last October but finished third as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf after getting rank and setting wicked fractions on the front end.

The bay son of Kitten’s Joy was on the lead again when won his seasonal bow, an allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs going a mile on March 8, but looked much more settled in that outing under jockey Javier Castellano.

“Javier had worked him one time at Palm Meadows before that and we had worked on getting him settled and the horse really responded to that real well,” Brown said. “His works have been with no trouble, he’s going to the pole nice and easy. I don’t even think he needs to be on the lead in the Blue Grass. It depends on where we draw in there.”

Brown also worked Grade I winner Stephanie’s Kitten five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 in company Saturday in advance of her expected seasonal bow in the Grade I Jenny Wiley Stakes on the Blue Grass undercard. Also owned by the Ramseys, Stephanie’s Kitten was supposed to start in the Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs but kicked herself about a week before and needed to have stitches to close a wound in her leg.

“It just wasn’t the right thing to do to lead her over there for that race,” Brown said. “We had to just  train her up to this race, which is hard to do, but she’s a top horse and hopefully she’ll come through off the layup.”

Keeneland to have enhanced security protocols for Blue Grass Stakes

 Edited Keeneland release:

Keeneland announced Thursday that it will have enhanced security measures in place for horses competing in its signature Kentucky Derby prep race, the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, next Saturday April 12.

The protocols mirror those that will be in place for the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct this weekend and include out-of-competition testing on Blue Grass entrants as well as 24-hour security beginning April 10 at 8 a.m. and concluding at 5:45 p.m. April 12.

“These protocols, similar to those followed by the New York Racing Association and other major racing venues, ensure that the Toyota Blue Grass will be run with the utmost integrity,” said vice president of racing Rogers Beasley. “They will provide enhanced protection for the participants and our fans, and guarantee a level and safe playing field for all.”

The protocols will only be in place for horses competing in the Blue Grass Stakes. The Grade I Jenny Wiley and Grade I Madison are also being contested on the undercard along with the Grade III Shakertown and Grade III Commonwealth.

In addition to all other applicable state laws and Keeneland policies, Keeneland has mandated the following protocols and steps for the horses participating in the Toyota 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.
  • Horses participating in the Toyota Blue Grass shall be on the grounds no later than 8 a.m. on Thursday, April 10, and shall remain on the grounds until after the running of the race. Exceptions shall only be granted in the case of an unforeseeable emergency, as determined by Keeneland security in consultation with the Stewards.
  • Twenty-four-hour security shall commence at 8 a.m. on Thursday, April 10, and end at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, April 12.
  • 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 8 a.m. on Thursday, April 10.
  • The stalls for all horses entered in the Toyota 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 8 a.m. on Thursday, April 10, 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 have a valid KHRC license on their person. Such persons 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 stalls 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 12, 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 12, horses participating in the Toyota 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.
  • Toyota Blue Grass participants will receive priority for paddock schooling with security personnel present.

 

Keeneland to remove Polytrack, go back to dirt

Seven and a half years after the era of synthetic surfaces was given a hero’s welcome at Keeneland Race Course, the historic facility ended months of scuttlebutt Wednesday when track officials announced it would indeed be removing its Polytrack surface and returning to a main dirt track in time for the Fall 2014 meet.

 
Keeneland announced it was switching to a synthetic surface in April 2006 and conducted its first meet over the Polytrack that Fall.

 
Construction to install the new dirt track is slated to begin on May 19 and be completed by August 15.

 
“We are extremely proud of the Polytrack and the safety record it has achieved,” Keeneland president Bill Thomason said. “Polytrack has achieved everything that we wanted other than we hoped it would become the prevelant and predominant racing surface around America. And for various reasons, that’s just not happening.

 
“With that reality and knowing one of our prevailing missions is providing racing at the highest level, we have horses and trainers who just don’t come here, don’t come for those high-level races. So we’ve been looking at it for a while. This is not something that happened quickly for Keeneland.”

 
In declaring its plans to return to dirt, Keeneland will leave Turfway Park in Florence, Woodbine, Arlington, Presque Isle Downs, and Golden Gate Fields as the only remaining major tracks in North American to retain a synthetic surface. The decision also continues what has been a shift within the Thoroughbred racing community to forsake what had been a heralded surface and re embrace its main-track roots.

 
Santa Anita Park, which will host its third straight Breeders’ Cup World Championships this fall, switched from dirt to a Pro-Ride surface following a 2007 mandate from the California Horse Racing Board that all its tracks install synthetic surfaces, but returned to dirt by 2011.

 
Fellow California track Del Mar also announced earlier this year plans to remove its Polytrack surface and go back to traditional dirt for 2015 – a move that was widely seen as a bid to strength itself as a potential Breeders’ Cup host site.

 
With Keeneland officials revealing last week that it too plans to make a push to host a Breeders’ Cup in the near future, speculation over the track returning to dirt reached peak levels.

 
When Keeneland announced its intentions to switch to Polytrack in 2006, then track president Nick Nicholson declared its installation as part of a mission was “to create the safest and most modern racetrack in the world.”

 
The numbers suggest it was mission accomplished for Polytrack on that end.

 
When the Jockey Club on Monday released the fatality statistics collected from the Equine Injury Database  for the five-year period from 2009 to 2013, Keeneland was shown to have a race-related fatality rate of 0.33 per 1,000 starts for 2013 – well below the overall average of 1.90 for all contributing tracks last year.

 
Since the data has been tracked, Keeneland’s race related fatality rate has consistently been below the average with its highest number being 1.74 in 2012. The Equine Injury Database also shows that synthetic surfaces have a consistently lower rate of fatal breakdowns, coming in at 1.22 from 2009-2013 compared to 2.08 for dirt surfaces.

 
“I just don’t understand any of it (going back to dirt),” said Keeneland-based trainer Charlie LoPresti, who conditions reigning two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan. “Isn’t it supposed to be about the safety of the horses? That’s what I’m concerned about is the safety of my horse.”

 
While many pundits lamented being able to handicap form on Polytrack and said the synthetic track did not lure the top handicap horses to its races, Keeneland concluded its Fall 2013 meet with record attendance and all-sources wagering and had an average field size of 9.85 starters per race.

 
The 2013 Spring meet also featured records for all-sources handle and attendance.

 
“I guess they had to weigh a lot because they had record field size, record handle, lowest breakdown rate in the country, and record attendance,” said longtime Kentucky-based trainer Rusty Arnold. “Weighing that against the fact that it (the Polytrack) probably affected the quality and the significance of the Blue Grass (Stakes). That would be my guess. But the decision came from a lot higher up than me.”

Woodfield Springs gets stakes test in Grade III Transylvania

Trainer Rusty Arnold thinks enough of Woodfield Springs that he originally planned on making the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes the colt’s first try against open company.

An expected overflow field for Keeneland’s signature Kentucky Derby prep race put the kiabosh on that concept, but Arnold is hoping Plan B results in an ‘A’-level result when he saddles the son of Raven’s Pass in Friday’s Grade III, $100,000 Transylvania Stakes, the highlight of Keeneland’s opening-day card of its Spring meet

The Transylvania serves as the highlight for the opening-day program that features 10 races with a first post time of 1:05 p.m. ET. The stakes is the ninth race, and post time is 5:13 p.m.

Owned and bred by G. Watts Humphrey Jr., Woodfield Springs broke his maiden in his third career start, winning a one-mile test on the Gulfstream Park turf on March 1. With about 17 others horses ahead of him on the list to get crack the 14-horse limit for the Blue Grass Stakes, Arnold didn’t want to risk getting shut out of that spot and having to hit the pause button on a race-ready horse.

“He’s a horse who shows a lot of promise and our intention when we came here was to run him in the Blue Grass,” Arnold said. “We ran the numbers on it and we’re afraid we’re not going to get in. It was going to take four horses to come out and we didn’t want to risk it. I just didn’t want to sit on him for another month by not getting in. So we went this direction.”

Among the 11 horses slated to test Woodfield Springs in the 1 1/16-miles Transylvania are stakes winner Storming Inti, third last time out in the Grade III Palm Beach Stakes, and Glen Hill Farm’s Global View, winner of the Grade III Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park last November. After coming from well off the pace to get third in his career debut at Gulfstream last December and then being on the lead during a fourth-place run on the dirt his second time out, Woodfield Springs found the happy medium of rating mid pack and then launching a sustained kick when he triumphed by 1 1/2-lengths in his maiden score.

“The last race we got him back and sat on him and made a really nice run and I think that’s what he’s going to be,” Arnold said. “I attribute that to I think he just learned a lot from those first two races. He has enough speed, he’s not a plodder and he’s handy enough to get a spot. With 3-year-olds who are changing so much from race to race, we think he’s changing too. So we’re going to take a step forward and see what we have.”

Arnold did not rule out putting Woodfield Springs back on dirt at some point and said he would consider wheeling the colt back for the Grade III Coolmore Lexington Stakes on April 19 if he runs huge Friday.

“I don’t get to do that very often but if things were to go the right way, that’s what I think I would do,” Arnold said.

The field for the Transylvania, from the inside out, is as follows: Medal Count (Robby Albarado, 118 pounds), Ry’s the Man (Florent Geroux, 118), WoodfieldSprings (Julien Leparoux, 118), Hesinfront (Corey Lanerie, 118), Kody With a K (Chris Rosier, 118), Red River Rising (Joe Rocco Jr., 118), Laddie Boy (Jesus Castanon, 118), Pleuven (FR) (Alan Garcia, 118), Global View (Lezcano, 123), Storming Inti (Castellano, 123), Picozza (John Velazquez, 118) andCan’thelpbelieving (IRE) (Joel Rosario, 118).

Champion Wise Dan works toward seasonal bow

Taking to the track under still darkened skies, two-time defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan provided a dose of luminosity to the Keeneland track early Tuesday morning when he worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 in preparation for his likely seasonal bow in next week’s Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile.

 
With regular exercise rider Damien Rock aboard, Wise Dan broke off a bit slow but was striding out as easy as he pleased, galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.20. Trainer Charlie LoPresti said the 7-year-old Wiseman’s Ferry gelding is still on track to make the Maker’s 46 on April 11 – a race he captured last year to kick off what would be his second straight championship season – but added he would look at the Grade III Ben Ali  on April 19 as a Plan B if any setbacks occur in the next handful of days.

 
“I’d like to run him here,” LoPresti said Tuesday. “I’m a little bit behind the eight ball to tell you the truth, only because of the weather. We missed a week when they did the maintenance on the track so I had to kind of squish his works together a little bit. A couple days ago, Rock said he’s really starting to come into himself, just the last 3-4 days he’s been really on it in the barn. He looked like he was dragging him down the backside.”

 

LoPresti said Wise Dan was only about “three-quarters of the way fit” when the chestnut gelding captured last year’s Maker’s 46 Mile. Though he expects him to need the race, LoPresti once again isn’t going all out on his stable star as the summer and late fall is when he feels Wise Dan really kicks into high gear in terms of his form.

 

“I’m not leaning on him too hard this year really,” LoPresti said. “He’ll be better on in the summer, he’s fitter then. I think his best race (last year) was Woodbine but I think he really turned the corner after the (Grade II) Firecracker (last July). That’s why I’m not in a great hurry to run him here. If we run, we run. But we have to get started and hopefully he’ll be good enough to beat whoever is coming. But I’ll know, he’ll tell me.”

 

As of Tuesday, only Grade I winner Lochte, Breeders’ Cup Mile runner-up Za Approval and Grade III winner Reload are the only other probables for the Maker’s 46 along with Wise Dan.

 

LoPresti added that multiple graded stakes winner Successful Dan, Wise Dan’s older half brother, will not race during the Keeneland meet as expected after a check up by Dr. Larry Bramlage at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital revealed some inflammation in his sesamoidal ligament in his left front.

 

Successful Dan has been plagued by suspensory issues throughout his career.

 

“There are no tears but (Dr. Bramlage) said whenever there is inflammation and you press on with them, you could risk having a tear,” LoPresti said. “He wanted us to back up a little bit so he won’t run here. And trust me, he doesn’t know he has inflammation in that ligament. He’s tack-walking right now, we’ll give him a couple weeks and then start jogging him again.
“That’s the thing about that horse is you have to look at him all the time. We have to watch him really close. But he’ll be back though. And we he comes back, we know how he runs.”

Ramsey’s Vicar’s in Trouble rolls to Louisiana Derby victory

Two down, one more to go.

A week after locking in one Kentucky Derby starter with Grade III Spiral Stakes winner We Miss Artie, Nicholasville-based owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey watched another of their contenders cement a trip to Louisville in May as Vicar’s in Trouble headed every point of call to win the Grade II, $1 million Louisiana Derby by 3 1/2-lengths over Intense Holiday at Fair Grounds Saturday.

With the win, Vicar’s in Trouble now heads up the Kentucky Derby standings with 120 points. And the Ramseys aren’t done with possible classic representation. The reigning Eclipse Award winners for Outstanding Owner and Outstanding Breeder for 2013 are slated to send out graded stakes winner Bobby’s Kitten in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 12.

“It sure would be nice to get all three in…we’d only have 17 others to beat,” Ramsey joked after the Spiral.

A Louisiana bred, Vicar’s in Trouble has fittingly notched each of his three career wins over the Fair Grounds track. The dark bay son of Into Mischief won the  Grade III Lecomte Stakes by 6 3/4 lengths in his seasonal bow on January 18 and was third behind race winner Intense Holiday after a wide trip in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes on February 22.

The colt popped an abscess in his left front foot shortly after being shipped to trainer Mike Maker’s Gulfstream Park base. The setback only forced him to miss about 3-4 days of training, according to Ken Ramsey, and there were no signs of ailment as he shot to the lead Saturday under jockey Rosie Napravnik and set fractions of 23.56 and 47.86.

“You know he is a tiny horse but he’s got a great big heart,” said Napravnik, who also won the Fair Grounds Oaks aboard Untapable Saturday.

Intense Holiday, who made a big run to nip Albano by a nose in the Risen Star, couldn’t make up much ground in the lane as Vicar’s in Trouble hit the wire in 1:50.77 over a fast track for the 1 1/8-miles race. Commanding Curve ran a good third after getting bumped at the start and Albano crossed the wire fifth but was elevated to fourth when In Trouble was disqualified for interference.

“I had the #9 clocked (In Trouble), but when Gerard’s horse (Rise Up) came up on the outside and then dropped over, In Trouble wheeled out and he hit my horse so hard, it knocked the air out of him. He just couldn’t recover from that,” said Kerwin Clark, jockey of Albano.

 

 

 

 

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