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Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale posts across-the-board gains

No matter which side of the fence one was on within the Fasig-Tipton grounds Thursday, life was likely equal parts exasperating and satisfying.

 

 

For buyers in the Thoroughbred marketplace, the competition for quality stock was stout. For consignors, the pressure to bring product that fit strict requirements to the table was unforgiving.

 

Demands on both fronts brought about results that left all key parties encouraged as the Fasig-Tipton July selected yearling sale delivered on its expectations, posting across-the-board gains in a continuation of market strength.

 

The single-day exercise stands as the first major yearling auction of the season. While hard and fast judgements can’t be made of such a small sampling of the yearlings that will come through the ring in coming months, the factors that drove the juvenile sale season to its success remained steadfast.

 

Led by a chestnut filly by leading sire Tapit that sold to agent Steve Young for a sale-topping $500,000, the overall gross of $20,005,000 from 205 head sold improved by 31 percent over last season when 162 horses sold for $15,253,000.

 

The average increased by 4 percent to $97,585 while the median jumped up by 10 percent to $77,000. The rate of horses not sold came in at 29 percent, an improvement over the 2014 figure of 31.8 percent.

 

“It was a very similar marketplace to last year, maybe slightly better than in 2014,” said Boyd Browning Jr., president of Fasig-Tipton. “All in all a good marketplace, a fair marketplace.

 

“I think the buyers would say if you were trying to buy quality horses, it was really difficult to buy the quality they wanted. I think the sellers would say it’s not easy selling horses right now, that you have to make sure you jump through most of the hoops. But there is a legitimate marketplace right now. There is a demand for horses.”

 

The overall quality of the yearling catalog was earnestly supported by both end users and yearling-to-juvenile resellers as 18 yearlings sold for $200,000 or more compared to the 10 that reached that level in 2014.

Those horses that hit marks of being both top physical offerings and passing veterinary criteria struck the balance of being hard to buy without spilling over into unrealistic levels.

 

“I think each of the horses we’ve brought have been strong in terms of the price they commanded, but at the same time I feel like we got value with all three of them,” said Aron Wellman, president of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. “Look, the market just continues to thrive. I think we’re seeing a higher volume of better horses and that could be as a result of people creating better matings.

 

“What I’m seeing in particular is maybe not such an upward trend as far as the prices are concerned, just more of those horses that people see quality in.”

 

The name Tapit has become synonymous with the best quality in the Thoroughbred industry, which is why Young viewed it as good value to get an offering by the Gainesway stallion at the half-million level.

 

Consigned by Gainesway, the Tapit filly is out of the stakes-winning mare French Dip, who is a daughter of Grade I winner Mayo On the Side.

 

“She’s very well balanced and has a beautiful hip on her,” said Young, who purchased the filly on behalf of an undisclosed client. “Being by a $300,000 stud, that’s what she’s supposed to cost.”

 

For the third consecutive year, the July yearling sale was immediately followed by a Horses of Racing Age auction. Though the crossover appeal helped bring in more end users, the latter suffered from a lack of top end quality and suffered declines in gross and average.

 
Where the past two years featured seven-figure sale toppers, multiple stakes winner Temper Mint Patty paced the action this year when she sold to Mike Repole for $350,000.  Last year’s sale benefited by featuring horses from the high-profile dispersal of stock from Eugene Melnyk and the lack of fireworks in this season’s catalogue contributed to the overall gross coming in at $3,996,000 from 65 head sold, down from the $8,426,000 generated by 109 sold in 2014.

 

 
The average fell from $77,303 last year to $61,477 but the median rose to $48,000 up from $35,000 a year ago.

 
“Last year, basically half the sale was the Melnyk dispersal which accounted for several of the top prices,” Browning said. “We knew coming in this year we had some nice horses but we didn’t have the absolute star power at the very top end. But it’s hard to make any comparison year to year on a Horses of Racing Age sale.”

Crupi lands Scat Daddy colt for $385,000 at Fasig-Tipton July

A smooth-moving son of Scat Daddy became the highest priced youngster to sell midway through the afternoon at the Fasig-Tipton July select yearling sale when he sold to J. J. Crupi of New Castle Farm for $385,000 on Thursday.

Consigned by Indian Creek, the Scat Daddy colt has a pedigree with global appeal as he is out of the Group I placed mare Starbourne, a daughter of Sadler’s Wells.

Given the strength of this year’s juvenile market, which saw many yearling-to-juvenile resellers turn hefty profits, Crupi said the Scat Daddy colt will likely be pointed to the 2-year-old sales next season.

“We just loved this horse, we thought he was a beautiful individual,” Crupi said. “He had a big walk and has the pedigree to be a stallion. But he will probably go on to a 2-year-old sale. We wanted to be around $300,000 with him so (the price) was right there. He was just a big, good looking individual. Very correct.”

Starbourne was a stakes winner and is a full sister to Group I producer Starrystarrynight.

 

Colt by Blame sells for $335,000 to pace early Fasig-Tipton action

The adoration owner Ellen Charles  holds for champion and sire Blame was broadcast through the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion Thursday as Charles went to $335,000 to land a bay son of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, the highest priced youngster to sell midway through the single-day July select yearling exercise.

Consigned by First Finds, the colt out of the Deputy Minister mare Private Opinion boasted some of the same refinement that made Charles fall in love with his sire in the first place. Seated alongside trainer Rodney Jenkins, Charles said she was about to drop out the bidding as it soared above the $300,000 before deciding she had come too far to give up on such an impressive physical specimen.

“I fell in love with Blame when he ran on the undercard of the Preakness,” said Charles, who currently has about 20 horses in training mostly based at Laurel Park. “Blame has the most beautiful head and this colt has the Blame head. I wanted one but I was very fussy because I had fallen in love with Blame and I wanted one that looked like him. Hopefully (this colt) can run like him.”

Charles said the colt would be sent to Niall Brennan in Ocala to be broken before heading to Jenkins next spring.

Originally purchased for $20,000 at the 2014 Keeneland November sale, the Blame colt is also the highest priced horse that Tami Bobo of Secure Investments and her business partner have sold as yearling consignors under the First Finds banner since branching out from her normal niche of selling 2-year-olds.

“This is only our second year selling yearlings together, we’ve been really blessed,” Bobo said. “I sell 2-year-olds and I thought it would be benefiical for my business to start getting into some yearlings.

“To have had the opportunity to buy him for the $20,000 we paid for him was exceptional. These babies go from one extreme to the next in the blink of an eye and..he’s just become an extremely strong and amazing colt.”

Bobo said that while she felt the Blame colt had the presence to head to the select Fasig-Tipton sale in Saratoga, she felt he would be a better fit at the July sale, which is known for its catalog of top physical offerings.

“This colt was definitely caliber enough to be at Saratoga,” Bobo said. “We felt that colt was best suited for this sale, being strong and precocious. In Saratoga you have a lot of pedigree so I felt this horse was best placed here having to compete against all the pedigree there.”

 

 

 

 

Graded stakes winner Medal Count retired to Spendthrift

Edited release:

Graded stakes winner Medal Count has been retired and will stand stud in 2016 at B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm as the newest participant in the farm’s renowned Share The Upside Program.

 

The 4-year-old son of Dynaformer will stand for an advertised fee of $5,000 on a traditional stands & nurses contract. His Share The Upside fee will be $6,500 stands & nurses on a one-year commitment, and breeders will earn a lifetime breeding right in Medal Count after producing just one live foal in 2017.

 

Bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Medal Count retires with three wins from 14 career starts and $480,671 in earnings. The bay colt had struggled in recent starts, finishing last of five in his seasonal debut at Churchill Downs on June 20 and seventh in the Grade II Firecracker Stakes on the turf June 27 for trainer Al Stall Jr., who took over his conditioning this year from Dale Romans.

 

Medal Count showed promise during his 3-year-old season when he won the 2014 Grade III Transyvlania Stakes at Keeneland and then wheeled back eight days later to run second in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.  After finishing eighth in the 2014 Kentucky Derby, Medal Count rebounded to run a good third in the Grade I Belmont Stakes but lost three more starts to close out his sophomore year.

 

“Medal Count is very similar to Temple City, another Grade I-performing Dynaformer we raced and then retired to stud on our Share The Upside program,” said Hughes. “Temple City has proven to be successful for our Share The Upside partners, and he booked full in 2015 at a substantially higher fee than his original Share The Upside price. Medal Count could be the last top son of Dynaformer to enter stud, and we feel like he’s another good opportunity for breeders through our Share The Upside program.”

 

“Medal Count is a unique Dynaformer because he was precocious and had Grade 1 ability on the dirt,” added  Ned Toffey, Spendthrift general manager. “You don’t see many of them win their debut on dirt as 2-year-olds, and then become Classic-placed on dirt as 3-year-olds. Like Temple City, Medal Count has a strong dirt female family, and is more refined than your typical Dynaformer, while still possessing the soundness and toughness that’s synonymous with that sire line. We believe breeders are going to like Medal Count and the value he presents.”

 

Out of the graded stakes-placed Unbridled’s Song mare Brisquette, Medal Count is a half-brother to Garden District, a graded stakes-winning 2-year-old filly.

 

For more information about Medal Count, Spendthrift’s Share The Upside Program, or to set up an inspection during the Fasig-Tipton July sale, please contact Des, Mark, or Brian at 859-294-0030, or visit SpendthriftFarm.com.

Keeneland alters opening week schedule for 2015 September yearling sale

Edited release:

Keeneland sales officials announced Monday it will adjust the opening week schedule for its 2015 September  Yearling Sale, tightening the Book 1 portion of the catalog to three days and shifting the traditional “dark day” up to Thursday.

 

This year’s September Sale, to be held Sept. 14-26,  will open with a three-day Book 1, spanning Monday-Wednesday, Sept. 14-16, one day less than previously. The sale’s traditional “dark day,” when no sales are conducted, will move from Friday of opening week to Thursday, Sept. 17. The Book 2 portion of the sale will be conducted FridaySaturday, Sept. 18-19, followed by Books 3-6 beginning Sunday, Sept. 20.

 

“We’ve listened to our consignors and buyers, who prefer a tighter Book 1, offering more horses each day over fewer days and starting earlier,” Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell said in a release. “They also want a more immediate, smoother transition to Book 2 horses. This change affords buyers the opportunity to inspect a greater number of horses during Week 1.”

 

Book 2 horses will now be available for buyer inspection beginning Wednesday, Sept. 16. In previous years, which featured a four-day Book 1 and a break on Friday, Week 1 buyers were exposed only to Book 2 horses through Sunday. A three-day Book 1 offers Week 1 buyers the ability to inspect Book 1, Book 2 and some Book 3 horses.

 

The stabling format will return to a traditional barn rotation, with Book 1 horses in Barns 1-24 and Book 2 horses in Barns 25-49.

 

 

The format for the 2015 September Sale will be as follows:

 

Book 1 (MondayWednesday, Sept. 14-16– The September Sale opens with the premier Book 1 catalog, which will span three days versus four previously. Sessions will begin an hour earlier, at 11 a.m. ET. Yearlings will continue to be cataloged alphabetically by dam.

 

Dark Day, Thursday, Sept. 17 – The break will move from Friday of opening week to Thursday.

 

Book 2 (FridaySaturday, Sept. 18-19) – Sessions begin at 10 a.m.

 

Book 3-6 (SundaySaturday, Sept. 20-26) – Sessions begin at 10 a.m.

 

 

Keeneland’s September Sale annually attracts the world’s major foreign and domestic buyers, top trainers and bloodstock advisers, and prominent juvenile sales consignors. The sale is globally regarded as the primary barometer of the health of the Thoroughbred industry.

 

Results for the 2014 September Sale were nearly equal to 2013, continuing a healthy trend toward market stability and confidence in the Thoroughbred industry. Trade in the upper middle market (horses sold for $400,000 or more) proved exceptionally strong, with 13 horses selling for $1 million or more in Book 1. The highest-priced yearling of each session during Book 2 and Week 2 of last year’s sale exceeded the top price for the corresponding session in 2013, further indicating the sale’s strong performance. In each of those sessions, a yearling sold for $100,000 or more.

 

Keeneland will provide live coverage of the entire 2015 September Sale at Keeneland.com.

 

Divisidero carrying Bradley, Gunpowder Farms to new levels of success

The backstory of Buff Bradley’s success is a quintessential feel-good tale within the Thoroughbred industry. The days of the trainer’s feats qualifying as some unexpected fairy tale, however, have sailed.

 
When Bradley and his father, Fred, first caught lightning in a bottle by breeding and campaigning Grade I winner and multi-millionaire Brass Hat, it was a game-changing achievement for their modest Frankfort-based operation.

 
When their homebred filly, Groupie Doll, took up the torch after Brass Hat’s retirement in 2011 and became a two-time Breeders’ Cup heroine and champion, it put the Bradley name on a level that many learned horsemen work their entire lives never to reach.

 
It is no longer a secret that Buff Bradley can train the heck out of a racehorse – be it on dirt, turf, synthetic, running short or long.

 
And after years of being a self-made success, Bradley is now showing he is just as effective doing onto others.

 
When the principles of  Tom Keithley’s Gunpowder Farms were discussing which trainers to enlist for the burgeoning operation, Bradley’s name was openly praised and mildly questioned as there was the perception he primarily conditioned his own homebreds.

 
What won out was overwhelming belief that Bradley’s patient style would merge perfectly with Gunpowder’s philosophy – a point the bright bay colt by the name of Divisidero has validated heading into Saturday’s Grade I, $1.25 million Belmont Derby going 1 1/4-miles on the Belmont Park turf.

 
On the undercard of the Kentucky Derby this May 2, Gunpowder Farms celebrated its first graded stakes winner when the Bradley-trained Divisidero captured the Grade II American Turf in just his third career start.

 
Coming off a neck victory in the Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont on May 30, the son of Kitten’s Joy stands as the 4-to-1 second choice on the morning in the nine-horse field for the Belmont Derby as he attempts to give Gunpowder its first Grade I winner and Bradley a top-level victor for an outside client.

 
“It’s pretty exciting to have a  horse of that caliber in you stable. And the thing that might help me out is people understand that I’m not just breeding and raising horses myself, I’m doing it for other people as well,” Bradley said. “I think I sometimes haven’t gotten horses because of that reason. They think I’m just doing my own thing but that’s far from the truth.

 
“It gives me the opportunity to get a variety of horses and hopefully a little better quality of animal in my stable.”

 
Divisidero was among the first group of yearlings  purchased on behalf of Gunpowder Farms in September 2013, eliciting a final bid of $250,000 at the Keeneland September auction. As a May foal, the bay colt had a lovely frame to him and – more important – the room for potential Keithley most desired.

 
“What Tom always wanted…was a horse that isn’t that flashy, big, ready to run kind of yearling,” said University of Louisville graduate Josh Stevens, racing manager for Gunpowder Farms. “The minute I saw (Divisidero) I thought this is the kind of horse Tom had preached he was looking for the whole time, which was a horse who could develop and we could continue to grow and raise him under our program and he could thrive.”

 
Among the many things Stevens said he appreciates about Bradley is how in tune he is with his charges and how committed he is to patience in a what-have-you-done-lately industry.

 
Some minor shin and maturity issues kept Divisidero from making his career debut until appearing in a maiden, 1 1/16-miles turf race this February 7 at Gulfstream Park. He was 25-to-1 in the eyes of the betting public. When he hit the wire first under jockey Rafael Hernandez, rallying from near the back of the 13 horse field, it told Bradley his eyes had not deceived him.

 
“I thought he was ready,” Bradley said of the colt’s debut. “I had worked him a mile on the dirt and he was really impressive to me. I said, if he moves up on the grass as well as he’s working on the dirt we’ll have a monster.”

 
Divisidero will be in deep waters against the likes of Bolo in the Belmont Derby, but he has shown intangibles that could put him on a course to the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland this October 31.

 
Bradley has maintained longer distances would only be in his colt’s favor. And in the 1 1/8-miles Pennine Ridge Stakes, Divisidero showed he was more than just a closer when he overcame a stumble at the break, rushed up into contention in the paceless race and ran down fellow Belmont Derby entrant Takeover Target to win by a neck.

 
“He showed a very gutsy performance there,” Bradley said. “Rafael knew the pace was slow and to get him right up there and then idle him back down…it’s  amazing for that horse to be able to do that. Sometimes with these young horses you push the button in, you can’t pull it back out, you’re on go.”

 
Stevens said that Gunpowder Farms – which boards horses at Silver Springs Stud in Paris – currently has about 15 horses at the track and 15 2-year-olds going through their paces. Bradley himself has six horses for the operation, with more set to come his way.

 
“What is crazy is to me in that in one year you could have a horse not only win your first graded stakes at Churchill Downs but then potentially come back and win a Breeders’ Cup race at Keeneland,” Stevens said. “To even have an idea you could do that in same year is amazing.

 
“I think if you give the horse everything they need, the patience…you’ll get the best out of them. I kind of grew up with an appreciation  of what time could do for a horse and Buff falls right in line with that.”

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

It’s official: Haskell confirmed as next target for Triple Crown winner American Pharoah

The next scheduled start for Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was made official on Thursday as owner Ahmed Zayat confirmed his champion colt will point for the Grade I, $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on August 2.

 
The 1 1/8 miles Haskell will mark the first start for American Pharoah since the son of Pioneerof the Nile captured the Belmont Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths on June 6 to become the first horse in 37 years to sweep the American classics.

 
Both Zayat and trainer Bob Baffert had previously indicated the Haskell was the leading candidate to serve as American Pharoah’s post-Triple Crown race debut. ESPN was first to report the decision had been made official and in a follow-up interview with the Herald-Leader, Zayat said the Haskell “worked perfectly” in terms of both its timing for his colt and creating an atmosphere worthy of a Triple Crown hero.

 
“I wanted to give him a race that will be kind on the horse and…my direction to Monmouth Park was make it a day that is memorable for the fans and the sport,” said Zayat, who is a resident of New Jersey. “I said ‘Don’t worry about the purses and the bonuses’. That’s important, but this is not about that. This is about the horse and the fans. And Monmouth promised me they are going to do a day that will not be forgotten.
“We’re working on ideas of having giveaways, concerts. Trying to get people like Bruce Springsteen who is from New Jersey. I just want this for the sport.”

 
Zayat said American Pharoah has regained most of the weight he lost after the Belmont – which was his fourth start in eight weeks and seventh win from eight career starts. They got the green-light on his form when the colt returned to the worktab this Monday, breezing three furlongs in 36.40 at Santa Anita Park.

 
“He came out so far really good,” Zayat said. “He lost some weight, he gained some back. But we’ve literally been parading him from one track to another and everybody and their mother wanted to see him.”

 
Zayat said going forward if American Pharoah ran to expectations in the Haskell and came out of that well, he would consider running him back in the Grade I Travers at Saratoga Race Course on August 29. He added he would prefer to keep the reigning juvenile champion on the East Coast this summer to reduce the amount of cross-country shipping heading into his expected swan song in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on October 31.

 
“If he comes out (of the Haskell) good, then I am actually very much looking forward to wheeling him back at Saratoga,” Zayat said. “(If he didn’t run in the Travers) the next target would probably be the Pennsylvania Derby (at Parx on September 19). But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. It depends on the horse. Nothing is ruled out. I just want to give him a first test and atmosphere that will be respectful for the legacy of American Pharoah.”

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

Champion Main Sequence back where it all began in United Nations Stakes

This was the point a year ago when things got real in a hurry for those in Main Sequence’s orbit.

 
It was the moment trainer Graham Motion had his eyes thrown wide open in recognition of the talent in his care. It was the first salvo fired in what would be a dual championship winning campaign and the first step in a rivalry that has held its drama even as it remains one-sided.

 
Monmouth Park’s Grade I, $500,000 United Nations Stakes was the race that first unleashed the now reigning king of North American turf last season. With two Eclipse Awards to his credit and the added weight of his reputation, champion Main Sequence is set to return to the 1 3/8-miles turf test this Sunday to reaffirm his dominance in the spot where it all began.

 
Before Main Sequence became the defending champion turf male and champion older male, he was a European-based underachiever trying to find some form in the wake of a 10-race losing skid he racked up in England and severe illness he contracted after coming to the states in the winter of 2013.
In his first North American start and first outing for Motion, the Flaxman Holdings homebred knocked the American turf division on its ear when he captured the 2014 United Nations by a neck over West Point Thoroughbreds’ Twilight Eclipse to begin what would become a five-race winning streak that included four Grade I triumphs en route to year-end honors.

 
Though his string of victories was halted when he ran seventh in the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic on March 28, Main Sequence will van to the Jersey Shore this holiday weekend as a poster boy for celebrating life in the United States. The six-year-old gelded son of Aldebaran has yet to lose in North America including his season-capping victory in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita Park last November.

 
“It’s kind of odd because you’re coming back to (the United Nation) in completely different terms than he went to it last time,” said Motion, who took over Main Sequence’s conditioning after the gelding was trained in England by David Lanigan. “Last time it was the experiment to find out how good he was and where we stood. Now we’re going back as the defending champion so it’s a little different feeling than it was back then.

 
“I certainly didn’t feel any pressure last time and I certainly do this time.”

 
A gentleman of a horse temperament wise, Main Sequence has his quirks in training – most notably getting out of the starting gate in clean order – but possesses a brilliant turn of foot able to make up for a many in-race issues.

 
His late kick looked as wicked as ever when he won his seasonal debut in the Grade II Mac Diarmida Stakes at Gulfstream Park February 21. The Dubai Sheema Classic, however, saw everything go awry as Main Sequence missed the break, rushed up too close to the pace under jockey Rajiv Maragh and faded in the 1 1/2-miles test.

 
“The Dubai thing was frustrating because I thought it was his chance to sort of wipe out all his naysayers,” Motion said. “He really didn’t get an opportunity to do so and it really wasn’t through any fault of his own.

 
“We laid too close to the pace and I think probably Rajiv and I spent too much time analyzing it, kind of over thought it instead of letting him run his own race. But the trip to Dubai really didn’t take much out of him.  I could have run him several weeks ago but I thought I would be patient and wait for this spot.”

 
One who benefited from Main Sequence’s Dubai venture is the venerable Twilight Eclipse, who is also slated for another United Nations crack.

 
The bay gelding has lost five straight meetings at the hands of Main Sequence, finishing second three times, but broke through for his first top-level triumph when he captured the Grade I Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park May 9.

 
The softer turf at Belmont on June 6 contributed to Twilight Eclipse running seventh in the Grade I Manhattan Stakes. Assuming rain doesn’t impact his chances this weekend, the West Point crew would love if Motion – who also trains for them – would have his top charge show Twilight Eclipse some mercy.

 

 
“I’ve even begged and said ‘How about a dead heat? Would you be that upset with a dead heat?’. But Graham Motion is a cruel individual,” joked Jeff Lifson, executive vice president of West Point Thoroughbreds. “We’re going to need to have our ‘A’ game and Main Sequence maybe have his A-minus game.

 
“(Twilight Eclipse) needs to start chugging at the three-eighths pole and…get some distance between him, make sure Main Sequence has a lot to do with that burst in order to reach him.”

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

Churchill Downs renames Homecoming Classic in honor of D. Wayne Lukas

Edited release:

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time winner of both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, will be honored by Churchill Downs with the naming of a stakes race to be run during its upcoming September Meet that will feature eight stakes events with total purses of $1.025 million.

The $175,000 Lukas Classic, a listed race for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles, was known as the Homecoming Classic during the first two years of September racing at Churchill Downs. The Lukas Classic, introduced in 2013 and designed to be an autumn prep for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, shares the September Meet stakes spotlight with events for juveniles that that respectively launch the 2016 Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks: the Grade III, $150,000 Iroquois for 2-year-olds and the Grade II, $200,000 Pocahontas for 2-year-old fillies. Both races will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track and each is included on the Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge Series schedule. Their respective winners will be guaranteed automatic starting spots in Breeders’ Cup events on Oct. 31 at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.

In renaming the Homecoming Classic to honor the four-time Eclipse Award-winnining trainer, Churchill is saluting Lukas’ accomplishments, contributions and influence on the industry, the track said in a release. Lukas, who bases his stable at Churchill Downs Barn 44 through much of the year, has won a record 14 victories in Triple Crown races, and trained a record 20 winners of Breeders’ Cup Championship races. At Churchill Downs, Lukas ranks second in career stakes victories (73) and fourth in total wins (510).

“Along with the enormity of the numbers of his total victories, the stakes races he has won and earnings by his stable’s horses throughout his Hall of Fame career, D. Wayne Lukas forever changed both the Kentucky Derby and North America’s horse industry,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “It is Churchill Downs’ honor to salute Wayne Lukas by placing his name on this race. We are enthusiastic about the potential of the Lukas Classic and believe it will very soon be an important annual stop for older horses who are working to prepare for and earn starting spots in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“We think the presence of Wayne Lukas’ name on this race will enhance its attractiveness and its status. And we would love to see Mr. Lukas do one of the few things he has yet to do during his legendary career. Our team at Churchill Downs is confident that Wayne is a long way from entertaining any thoughts of retirement, and we hope that he will soon saddle a winner of this race, which would allow him – for the first time – to present a winner’s trophy to himself.”

Lukas will celebrate his 80th birthday on September 2. Included in the 26 champions he has trained over his storied career is reigning juvenile filly champion, Take Charge Brandi.

In addition to renaming the race, the purse for the Lukas Classic was also boosted by $50,000. The purse for the Iroquois was also increased by $50,000.
Churchill Downs’ 11-date September Meet operates on a four-day, Thursday-through-Sunday weekly racing schedule with the exception of its first week. Opening day is Friday, Sept. 11 and the meet will conclude on Sunday, Sept. 27. Regular post time for the meet will be 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern), with exceptions being 5 p.m. “Twilight Thursday” racing on September 17 and 24 and the meet’s lone “Downs After Dark”night racing celebration on Saturday, Sept. 19 with a post time of 6 p.m.

The first races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks headline four stakes events on Saturday, Sept. 12, the first of three Saturdays of racing during the September Meet. Along with the Pocahontas and Iroquois, that program will feature the $100,000 Locust Grove, a Listed race for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up on the main track and the $100,000 Open Mind, which matches fillies and mares ages 3 and up at six furlongs on the dirt.

The racing program on Saturday, Sept. 19 features the Grade III, $100,000 Dogwood, and event for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs.

The final Saturday of September Meet racing on Sept. 26 will offer three stakes events in the Lukas Classic, the Grade III, $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at one mile, and the Grade III $100,000 Jefferson Cup for 3-year-olds at one mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course – the only stakes race on grass during the meet.

After the September racing session, Churchill Downs will have one remaining race meet in 2015. The track’s traditional Fall Meet is scheduled for Nov. 1-29 Fall Meet, which will offer 21 racing dates on a weekly Thursday-through-Sunday schedule.

Keeneland to card seven additional stakes for 2015 Fall Meet

Edited release:

A total of 23 stakes worth $5,975,000 in purse money will be offered during the 2015 Keeneland Fall Meet to be held Oct. 2-24, including an additional seven stakes worth $900,000 that will be carded during the three-day celebration surrounding the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

Sixteen stakes, including six Grade I events highlighted by the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile, worth $5,075,000 are slated for the 17-day Fall Meet, which opens with the Fall Stars Weekend, Oct. 2-4. Eight Fall Meet stakes are “Win and You’re In” events, part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series of automatic qualifying races for the Breeders’ Cup.

As the host site for the 2015 Breeders’ Cup, Keeneland  carded an additional seven stakes; one to be held Oct. 29 and three scheduled for each of the Breeders’ Cup undercards on Oct. 30-31. The stakes are a mix of new and familiar names: $100,000 Lafayette for 3-year-olds and up at 7 furlongs on Thursday; $200,000 Grade II Hagyard Fayette  for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles, which moves in 2015 from its traditional Fall Meet closing day spot to Friday and is joined by the $200,000 Grade II Marathon Stakes  for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ¾ miles and the $100,000 Bryan Station  for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. The undercard of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup lineup will feature the $100,000 Fort Springs for 3-year-old fillies, $100,000 Juvenile Dirt Sprint for 2-year-olds, and $100,000 Perryville for 3-year-olds, each at six furlongs.

“This fall will be one of the most memorable racing seasons in Keeneland history,” said Keeneland Vice President of Racing  Rogers Beasley. “The competition will be superb; the top trainers and jockeys will be on hand as the anticipation builds all month toward the first-ever Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland. It will be an exciting time for fans, horsemen and the entire Central Kentucky community.”

Keeneland’s signature Fall Stars Weekend kicks off with nine graded stakes worth $3.7 million will be held Oct. 2-4. Five of those races are Grade I events with the  Grade I, $400,000 Darley Alcibiades  for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles anchoring the opening day card. The Saturday, Oct. 3 card includes the Shadwell Turf Mile, for 3-year-olds and up;  Grade I, $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; and Grade I, $400,000 First Lady for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up at a mile on turf.

Sunday Oct. 4 is led by the Grade I, $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up at 1 1/8 miles.

A sixth Grade I stakes, the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup  for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the turf, will be held Saturday, Oct. 10.

The Fall Meet also reflects two changes to the stakes program. Purses for the Grade III Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix on Oct. 2 and Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America  on Oct. 3 have increased from $200,000 to $250,000 each. Additionally, the Grade III, $150,000 Pin Oak Valley View, a 1 1/16-mile race on turf for 3-year-old fillies, has been moved to closing day, Oct. 24 for Fall Meet 2015.

Seven Breeders’ Cup Challenge stakes will be run Fall Stars Weekend: Darley Alcibiades (a Challenge race for the Juvenile Fillies) and Phoenix (Sprint) on Oct. 2; Shadwell Turf Mile (Mile), Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (Juvenile) and Thoroughbred Club of America (Filly and Mare Sprint) on Oct. 3; and Juddmonte Spinster (Distaff) and Grade III, Dixiana Bourbon (Juvenile Turf) on Oct. 4.

NBC will broadcast live from Keeneland with two “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In Series” programs on Saturday, October 3 (5-6 p.m. ET) featuring the Breeders’ Futurity and Shadwell Turf Mile and on Sunday, October 4 (5-6 p.m. ET) with the Spinster and the Bourbon Stakes.

The eighth Breeders’ Cup Challenge race is the Grade III, JPMorgan Chase Jessamine on October 7, which awards the winner a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The winners of 40 Breeders’ Cup races have made their final start before the World Championships during Keeneland’s Fall Meet, most notably in the Thoroughbred Cub of America, Spinster, Shadwell Turf Mile, Alcibiades and Breeders’ Futurity. Last year, horses that prepped at Keeneland in October won three Breeders’ Cup races: Filly and Mare Turf winner and champion Dayatthespa, winner of the First Lady; Juvenile Fillies winner and champion Take Charge Brandi, who ran in the Alcibiades; and Sprint winner and champion Work All Week, winner of the  Phoenix.

 

Keeneland 2015 Fall Stakes Schedule: Oct. 2-24

Date

Stakes

Division

Distance

Oct. 2

$400,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1)*

2YO Fillies

1 1/16 Miles

Oct. 2

$250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G3)*

3YOs & Up

6 Furlongs

Oct. 3

$1 Million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1)*

3YOs & Up

1 Mile (T)

Oct. 3

$500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1)* 

2YOs

1 1/16 Miles

Oct. 3

$400,000 First Lady (G1)

3YOs & Up, F&M

1 Mile (T)

Oct. 3

$250,000 Thoroughbred Club
of America (G2)*

3YOs & Up, F&M

6 Furlongs

Oct. 3

$150,000 Woodford (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select

3YOs & Up

5½ Furlongs (T)

Oct. 4

$500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1)*

3YOs & Up, F&M

1 1/8 Miles

Oct. 4

$250,000 Dixiana Bourbon (G3)*

2YOs

1 1/16 Miles (T)

Oct. 7

$150,000 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3)*

2YO Fillies

1 1/16 Miles (T)

Oct. 9

$100,000 Buffalo Trace Franklin County (L)

3YOs & Up, F&M

5½ Furlongs (T)

Oct. 10

$500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Lane’s End

3YO Fillies

1 1/8 Miles (T)

Oct. 15

$100,000 Sycamore (G3)

3YOs & Up

1½ Miles (T)

Oct. 17

$250,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2)

3YO Fillies

7 Furlongs

Oct. 18

$125,000 Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3)

3YOs & Up, F&M

1½ Miles (T)

Oct. 24

$150,000 Pin Oak Valley View (G3)

3YO Fillies

1 1/16 Miles (T)

*Denotes Breeders’ Cup Challenge stakes

 

Keeneland Stakes Schedule: Breeders’ Cup Weekend, Oct. 29-31 

Date

Stakes

Division

Distance

Oct. 29

$100,000 Lafayette (L) Presented by Keeneland Select

3YOs & Up

7 Furlongs

Oct. 30

$200,000 Hagyard Fayette (G2)

3YOs & Up

1 1/8 Miles

Oct. 30

$100,000 Bryan Station (L)

3YOs

1 1/8 Miles (T)

Oct. 30

$200,000 Marathon (G2) 

3YOs & Up

1 3/4 Miles

Oct. 31

$100,000 Fort Springs (L)

3YO Fillies

6 Furlongs

Oct. 31

$100,000 Juvenile Dirt Sprint (L)

2YOs

6 Furlongs

Oct. 31

$100,000 Perryville (L)

3YOs

6 Furlongs

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