While there's questions surrounding Saturday's $100,000 Hal's Hope Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park, the biggest one is which horse will come out of the race with the best chance to make some noise in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) on Feb. 22.
Grade I winner Booklet was victorious in his return to the track in a $59,500 allowance race for 3-year-olds and up Tuesday at Churchill Downs. Under jockey Pat Day, the son of Notebook covered the mile distance in 1:34.68, crossing the wire three-quarters of a length in front of Rock Slide, with Dash for Daylight another three-quarters of a length back in third.
Fountain of Youth (gr. I) winner Booklet, out of action since finishing next to last in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 18, is entered on Tuesday in the eighth race at Churchill Downs.
John Oxley's Perfect Story, a half-sister to Horse of the Year Point Given, drew off to a 3 3/4-length victory under jockey Pat Day in a maiden special weight race at Churchill Downs on Sunday in her second career start.
Sky Mesa not only likes to be on time, he likes to be early. And that has made life interesting for his connections.
John Ward Jr. doesn't remember ever running a 2-year-old 1 1/8 miles. And he would prefer not to do so now. But that's the distance for the longest ever Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), and the trainer is blessed with the ideal candidate, Sky Mesa, a colt with stamina in his bloodlines and a running style that fits two turns.
Perfect Story, a half-sister to 2001 Preakness, Belmont and and Travers (all gr. I) winner Point Given, ran a powerful debut race for owner John Oxley Saturday at Keeneland, losing by about a length to Belle of Perintown after taking the lead in the stretch with a wide move.
Sky Mesa, crowned leader of the juvenile division off his victory in the Hopeful (gr. I) at Saratoga, will face five foes on Saturday, in the $400,000 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. II) at Keeneland, in his final prep for the Breeders Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Oct. 26.
<b>Saratoga Notebook: </b>Ward Compares Sky Mesa to Fusaichi Pegasus; Biding His Time With Booklet; Take Charge Lady Breezes for Gazelle; Frankel Brings Out His Top Guns
More reserved than than usual after the race, trainer John Ward compared Hopeful winner Sky Mesa to a couple of other nice horses he's been around: champion Beautiful Pleasure and Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.
Sky Mesa, Winner of the Hopeful stakes, is in fine form the day after his sparkling effort, according to his trainer.
Sky Mesa grows up in a hurry and runs off with the Hopeful Stakes.
Saratoga Notebook: Medaglia d'Oro and Repent on Collision Course; Sky Mesa Healthy, Ward Hopeful; Lewis Ends Drought; Schulhofer Colt Put Down
There could be one or two more meetings between Travers (gr.I) stars Medaglia d'Oro and Repent in the next two months.
As the Thoroughbred industry embarks on a national campaign to encourage more investment in racehorses, the chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association has issued a plea for uniformity in medication to help the sport in a number of areas.
<b>Saratoga Notebook: Sky Mesa One to Watch; Buddha Returns to 'Serious' Training; Easyfromthegitgo Chooses Jim Dandy; Gygistar Pointed to King Bishop; Gold Mover Waits for Belmont</b>
John Oxley's 2-year-old Sky Mesa turned in an impressive performance in his maiden debut Saturday, winning the six-furlong third race by 7 3/4 lengths. Trainer Phil Johnson in Saratoga win cloumn for 42nd year.
Mike's Wildcat, acquired by owner John Oxley after romping to an eight-length victory in the June 30 Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park, seeks her second stake in the grade 2, $150,000 Schuylerville that highlights Wednesday's opening day of 134th meet at Saratoga Race Course.
Trainer John Ward said Tuesday he's ready to "ambush" Saturday's Preakness field after Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I) winner Booklet worked a half-mile in :48 and galloped out in five furlongs "1:02 and change" at Churchill Downs under Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day.
The Oxley Foundation is contributing $100,000 to the Kentucky Derby Museum's endowment fund.
With Darby Dan Bloodstock acting on his behalf, casino industry veteran Stanley Fulton purchased an Unbridled's Song colt for $850,000 to top Keeneland's April 2-year-olds in training sale Tuesday.
Eleven horses were entered Wednesday for Saturday's $1-million Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park, but the focus clearly was on two: Florida-bred Booklet and Harlan's Holiday.
John Oxley, owner of 3-year-old stakes winner Booklet, has pledged a portion of future purses won by the colt to equine research. Booklet is scheduled to race next in the March 16 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
John Oxley's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos will enter stud this year at the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky. The 4-year-old son of Maria's Mon will stand for $25,000 live foal, with Oxley retaining about 40% interest in the colt.
John Oxley's Snow Dance, the top filly in trainer's John Ward's strong barn, will make her 2002 debut in Friday's $100,000 De La Rose Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf at Gulfstream Park
Booklet and Harlan's Holiday, the respective first and second place finishers in Saturday's Holy Bull Stakes, are expected to meet again Feb. 16 in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I), the next step on the road to the Florida Derby (gr. I).
John Oxley's Beautiful Pleasure worked six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 Tuesday morning at Keeneland and will likely use the Beldame Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park on Oct. 6 as her final prep for the World Thoroughbred Championships.
John C. Oxley's Monarchos, winner of this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) who suffered a hairline fracture earlier this summer, will not race for the rest of the year.
Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos will be sidelined for up to 60 days after suffering a subchondral hairline fracture of the third carpal bone of the right knee.
Beautiful Pleasure, the champion older mare of 1999, will make her first start of the year in Saturday's grade I Hempstead Handicap at Belmont Park where the 6-year-old mare will face seven rivals in the 1 1/16 mile contest, including stablemate Darling My Darling. Beautiful Pleasure races for John Oxley while Darling My Darling races for his wife, Debby Oxley, both are trained by John and Donna Ward.
John Oxley, owner of Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, and Gary and Mary
West, owners of Dollar Bill, have pledged to donate 1% of the winner's share of the purse to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation with a victory in Saturday's Belmont Stakes. The winner's share of the grade I event is $600,000, which means $6,000 would go toward research.
John Oxley, the owner of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) favorite Monarchos, announced today that he has extended his pledge of one per cent of purse earnings to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation if his three-year-old colt wins Saturday's Preakness Stakes and/or the Belmont Stakes June 9. The total purses for the Preakness and Belmont Stakes are each $1,000,000.
John Oxley's Kentucky Derby hero Monarchos arrived at Pimlico Race Course Wednesday with plans to gallop under regular exercise rider Bryan Beccia Thursday. Trained by John Ward, Jr., Monarchos was accompanied on the flight by 3-year-old stablemate Hero's Tribute and a maiden, as well as the stable pony, and arrived under the supervision of assistant trainer Yvonne Azeff. Ward is due in Baltimore Saturday.
Sportsman John Oxley reflects on his feelings after Monarchos won the 2001 Kentucky Derby.
Florida Derby winner Monarchos displayed his readiness for the May 5 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) when he turned in a solid five furlong work in 1:00 4/5 at Churchill Downs on Friday.
John C. Oxley, who with wife Debby has a pair of Triple Crown candidates in Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos and graded stakes-placed Hero's Tribute, announced that 1% of money either colt wins through victories in grade I races through the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) will be earmarked for the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. The donations are retroactive to the Florida Derby, in which Monarchos earned $600,000 (which provided $6,000 to the foundation).
Trainer John Ward's two Kentucky Derby 127 contenders, John Oxley's Monarchos and Hero's Tribute, arrived on the grounds at Churchill Downs at approximately 10:40 a.m. (EST) Monday.
Monarchos (Maria's Mon -- Regal Band, by Dixieland Band) posted his first stakes win in the Florida Derby (gr. I) to remain undefeated this year. The March 10 race was his first attempt in stakes company in five lifetime starts.
After lengthy discussions between trainers John and Donna Ward and owner John Oxley, it has been decided Beautiful Pleasure will race another year. Oxley said the year's goal is the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Belmont Park. She has not started since the 2000 edition of the race where she finished sixth.
Owner John Oxley and trainer John Ward are still discussing whether to race or retire Beautiful Pleasure. In mid-February, Oxley said March 1 was decision day, but recently he said another discussion is slated for March 8.
A top price of $180,000 was paid by John Oxley for a Defrere colt to top Wednesday's session of the Keeneland September yearling sale.
One day after single-session records for a Keeneland fall yearling sale, the auction in Lexington, Ky. continued Wednesday with prices that were more realistic than the previous day's gargantuan numbers. Top price of $850,000 was paid by John C. Oxley for a Saint Ballado colt produced from the unraced Proud Truth mare Sunyata.
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