What a difference a day makes. On Friday in Baltimore, the morning began with rain, wind, and chilliness. Patrons heading to Pimlico Saturday for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) awoke to bright, sunny skies and temperatures so pleasant jackets and sweaters were not necessary.
There was plenty of speed for Eddington to run at this time. The son of Unbridled bided his time behind the pace and blew by down the stretch to win the $500,000 Pimlico Special Handicap (gr. I) Friday by 5 1/4 lengths.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out favorites that were defeated in consecutive stakes at Pimlico Friday, but he did not make it three in a row as Spun Sugar easily won the $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II).
Ashado, sent off at 2-5 and with only three competitors to beat, went down to defeat at the hands of hometown hope Silmaril in the $107,400 Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap (gr. III) Friday afternoon.
Burnish, who liked the sloppy surface at Keeneland in her last start, also enjoyed the off going Friday at Pimlico, splashing home to win the $100,000 Miss Preakness (gr. III) under Rafael Bejarano.
If the rain stops as predicted Friday afternoon, Pimlico track superintendent Jamie Richardson said he expects the track surface to be fast on Saturday.
Handicappers aren't the only ones who have questions prior to a race. Trainers do, too.
Nick Zito ran five horses in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) -- including the favorite -- and no one has to remind him they finished seventh, eighth, 10th, 14th, and 15th. But the Preakness (gr. I) is a new day, Zito said Friday morning at Pimlico.
There was only one way Scrappy T would run in the Preakess (gr. I) Saturday at Pimlico...he had to win the April 30 Withers Stakes (gr. III). And, he did.
Giacomo, named for rock star Sting's son, sang an upset tune in the $2,399,600 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Having just missed last time out when they moved too soon, Robby Albarado and 17-1 shot America Alive timed their move perfectly Saturday, taking the $470,400 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
At odds of 2-5, Madcap Escapade made an easy lead and cut fast fractions, but she had nothing left in the final eighth and was passed by a group of fillies in the $281,750 Humana Distaff Handicap (gr. I) Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Alex Solis slowed down the pace and had plenty left down the lane as he guided Miss Terrible to a front-running upset win Saturday in the $112,200 Comp USA Turf Mile (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs.
In the race on Kentucky Derby day anticipated nearly as much as the Derby itself, Half Ours showed what everyone already knew. Of juveniles that have started so far this year, he is the clear leader of the class.
Battle Won, in his second start since running in Hong Kong, drew off to win the $231,000 Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II) by 3 1/2 lengths Saturday at Churchill Downs, the first stakes race on the card that will feature the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
The crowd at Churchill Downs has settled on Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Bellamy Road as the favorite for this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Summerly, who disappointed her connections in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland, more than made up for it with a wire-to-wire win in the $554,400 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Friday.
There hadn't been a thrilling stretch duel all day, but the ninth race on the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) undercard featured one. Rush Bay, under Robby Albarado, and Rey de Cafe, with Javier Castellano up, hit the wire together in the $114,700 Crown Royal American Turf (gr. IIIT).
Shadow Cast, who had a three-race win streak broken in her last start, rebounded to win the $336,300 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) Friday at Churchill Downs.
- By Dan Liebman
Granted, the pool is still small, but the bettors on Kentucky Oaks day pushed more than $380,000 into the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) win pool on Friday. And they made Afleet Alex the favorite over program pick Bellamy Road.
Mighty Beau, who just missed last time out in the Shakertown Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland, easily took the $113,500 Aegon Turf Sprint (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs Friday.
Even-money favorite Limehouse, who ran fourth in last year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I), ran this year on Kentucky Oaks day, winning the $112,900 Alysheba Stakes.
Sweet Talker burst to the lead as the field straightened for home and held off the late charge of Rich in Spirit to win the $112,400 Edgwood Stakes by three-quarters of a length at Churchill Downs Friday.
Everyone likes to talk about the Derby gods. Their impact on racing this weekend at Churchill Downs is unknown, but they certainly have blessed the Louisville, Ky. area with nice weather.
In both the good times and the bad times, 1990 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Unbridled would let his trainer, Carl Nafzger, know everything was all right.
- By Dan Liebman
By Dan Liebman - On May 7 in Louisville, Ky., when the most famous race in the land is run at the most famous track in the land, the race will look the same as it did a year ago. The Kentucky Derby (gr. I) is still for 3-year-olds, still at a mile and a quarter, still the first Saturday in May, and the winner still gets a garland of roses.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which went outside the industry for its first commissioner, has decided to stay within the industry in keeping its second. D.G. Van Clief Jr., who was named commissioner following the resignation of Tim Smith last July, will remain in the position.
- By Dan Liebman
By Dan Liebman - What does is take to operate a Thoroughbred breeding farm in the height of the breeding season? In this issue of The Blood-Horse, we attempt to show you.
Should Greater Good win the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), it would make the second time in the past three years the winner cannot stand at stud.
Pat Day, the all-time leading jockey in North America by earnings and fourth by wins, will undergo surgery on his right hip March 30 and may miss the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), a race he has ridden in the past 21 years.
The following is the transcript of a question and answer session by John Gaines with Dan Liebman, executive editor of The Blood-Horse, which appeared in the pages of the magazine in October, 1999.
John Gaines, who built Gainesway Farm into one of the industry's leading stud farms and is the man credited with founding the Breeders' Cup, died Feb. 11. He was 76.
- By Dan Liebman
By Dan Liebman -- In Smarty Jones and Ghostzapper, Eclipse Awards voters were faced with two clear and deserving choices for 2004 Horse of the Year. Now they have spoken.
At the five-sixteenths pole in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), Sweet Catomine was blocked and in need of racing room. But having to check was no big deal for the daughter of Storm Cat. Corey Nakatani steered her out of harm's way and she rolled by the other 11 members of the field as the crowd at Lone Star Park cheered her on.
Frank Stronach could not have asked for anything more Oct. 30. The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships was being held at Lone Star Park, owned by Stronach's Magna Entertainment Corp.
In September 2004, Storm Cat set a record when he passed Northern Dancer as the all-time leading sire of seven-figure yearlings. As the year came to a close, the Overbrook Farm stallion added another impressive statistic to his résumé.
By Dan Liebman -- Numbers. This business is about numbers. Big numbers... dramatic numbers...incredible numbers. The wildest number of 2004, and in fact perhaps the wildest number ever in the history of this game, is the number of stakes winners sired by Danehill. With only 19 stallions having sired 100 or more stakes winners in their entire careers, Danehill, by Danzig, was represented by 51 in 2004.
Carson City, the 14th ranked sire by progeny earnings in 2004, died Friday morning at Overbrook Farm. The cause of death is not known, pending the results of an autopsy.
The bloodstock market is not the only thing that has been healthy in Central Kentucky in 2004. So too has the real estate market.
On day 10 of the Keeneland November sale, it was dark, gloomy, and drizzly. But you couldn't dampen the spirits of those who consigned to the world's largest breeding stock auction.
The Sales Integrity Task Force will meet for the third time Friday at Keeneland, and within a week, will hold a press conference to release its first recommendations to the industry.
There will be more North American stallions standing in 2005 for $100,000 or more than at any time since the heyday of the 1980s. Fourteen Kentucky stallions will stand next year for a stud fee of $100,000 or more.
If you need to satisfy your curiosity, you can check the lip tattoo and foal papers. But the fact is Sweet Catomine is a 2-year-old. Really.
At 10:35 a.m. (local Central time), D.G. Van Clief Jr. walked to the microphone in the Lone Star Park winner's circle and the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships officially began.
Mark Casse, who has trained in both the U.S. and Canada, knows one way to find out if you have a really good Canadian-based horse -- ship to the states.
On the heels of a Breeders' Cup when they had a huge day, the Europeans do not seem to hold as strong a hand this year.
Win or lose Saturday in the Breeders' Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel (gr. I), champion Storm Flag Flying will be making her last start.
When Tom Proctor won the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) in 1994, his One Dreamer paid $96.20. If Indy Groove wins the Distaff – Presented by Nextel Saturday at Lone Star Park, Proctor said she might pay twice that.
There are at least two trainers who think the correct move with Azeri is to run in the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) rather than the Breeders' Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel (gr. I). One is D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Azeri. The other is Patrick Biancone.
- By Dan Liebman
By Dan Liebman -- In Florida for a few days this past winter, Gulfstream Park was an obvious place to spend a couple of hours. Keeping in mind Florida is a leading retirement center, it was no surprise that the average age of the patrons at the track that day was similar to that necessary to receive a "Here's Your Medicaid Card" welcome.
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