Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Hightail has been retired from racing, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas confirmed Jan. 8.
- By Mike Kane
Trainer Michael Dickinson's appeal of a medication violation with Fleet Renee in the 2001 Mother Goose (gr.I) and a $250 fine was turned down Wednesday by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board during its monthly meeting in Albany.
Multiple grade I winner Fleet Renee will make her first start of year in Friday's Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap (gr. III) where she'll likely meet the likes of Canadian champion Dancethruthedawn and graded winner Atelier, along with eight other rivals.
Only six fillies and mares passed the entry box for Saturday's Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park, but oh, what a cast. Of the six, all are grade I winners.
Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Val Royal continued working toward his return to the races Thursday at Santa Anita and Ashland (gr. I) and Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) winner Fleet Renee worked five furlongs on fast dirt at Tapeta Farm. Others working Thursday were Printemps; Bella, Bella, Bella; Crafty C. T.; Griffinite; Sarah Lane's Oates; and Silver Charm's half-sister by Deputy Minister, Elrose.
The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships lost three starters on Friday when stewards were notified that Fleet Renee, Slew Valley, and Numerous Times would be scratched.
The Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) has the reputation of being the most formful race on racing's most important day. However, it is actually the Juvenile that has the lowest average winning payoff of $10.84 of the seven traditional races on the card. The Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) has only had two runnings, and should not be judged historically. The Distaff comes in second with an average winning payoff of $17.09; no doubt last year's $113.80 upset victory by Spain has done much to lift that average.
Pedigree Analysis for Fleet Renee
Well, it's all over now but the shouting. The preps have been run. The pre-entry forms have been filled out, mailed, faxed, or stuffed into the Breeders' Cup ballot box.
The Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) has brought us some memorable showdowns between sophomore fillies and their more battle-tested elders, and this year's renewal figures to be no different.
After finishing on the board in a graded stakes in each of her last three starts, Exogenous made it to the Belmont Park winner's circle Saturday after upsetting the field of 3-year-old fillies in the $250,000 Gazelle Handicap (gr. I) to earn her first career stakes win.
The grade I $250,000 Gazelle to be contested Saturday at 1 1/8 miles over the main track at Belmont Park marks the return of multiple grade I winner Fleet Renee. The daughter of Seattle Slew has not raced since winning Belmont's grade I Mother Goose on June 30 by 5 1/2 lengths.
Verne Winchell's Fleet Renee, winner of the grade I Ashland and Mother Goose Stakes, will not run in Saturday's $750,000 Alabama Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.
Ashland Stakes (gr. I) winner Fleet Renee, who subsequently disappointed as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), made amends for her Oaks performance with a 5 1/2-length victory in Saturday's $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park.
Ask Bobby Frankel about Flute, and the 59-year-old trainer starts acting like a teen-ager in love. His eyes grow soft, his mouth stretches into a dopey smile, and his gruff voice turns into a warm purr. "What a sweetheart she is," Frankel said as he patted the friendly bay filly's nose one morning on the Churchill Downs backstretch. "She's a doll; she's my baby. Sometimes, I think she's almost human; she's so nice."
Michael Dickinson's worries about the Churchill Downs racing surface apparently have been eased.
Don't believe Bobby Frankel. That was the message from rival trainer Mark Hennig Wednesday morning. He said his decision to increase his Oaks entry from two fillies to three was an insurance policy to make sure his client, Edward P. Evans, would have a runner in the big race. It was not, as Frankel claimed, a strategic maneuver to knock out the highly-regarded Flute.
Tossing her head and fighting the bit, an eager Fleet Renee charged down the Churchill Downs backstretch Tuesday morning. She was trying to take off again while galloping out following her final work before Friday's Kentucky Oaks -- something that exercise rider Lisa Tenney called "a good sign." The filly's official clocking for the three-furlong move was :36 4/5, but trainer Michael Dickinson said he timed the 3-year-old daughter of Seattle Slew in :37.14.
A full field of 3-year-old fillies, headed by Ashland Stakes (gr. I) winner Fleet Renee, has been entered for Friday's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) that highlights the Kentucky Derby eve card at Churchill Downs.
Bobby Frankel can be brash, and he can be gruff. But when the Hall-of-Fame trainer talks about his Kentucky Oaks candidate, Flute, he gets downright mushy.
Ashland Stakes (gr. I) winner Fleet Renee, among the favorites for the May 3 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), worked five furlongs in 1:01 under exercise rider Lisa Tenney at Churchill Downs on Wednesday.
Michael Dickinson surprised us in 1996, when Da Hoss conquered the heavy favorite, Mark of Esteem, in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I). He surprised us again in 1998, when Da Hoss won the same race after a long layoff and just one prep. But this time the trainer surprised even himself. After he saddled Fleet Renee to upset the formidable Golden Ballet in the April 7 Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland, Dickinson looked a little bit stunned.
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