A nicely matched field of eight fillies and mares is set to challenge in the 44th running of the Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland Race Course Wednesday. Topped by morning line favorite Angara, and second-choice Cape Town Lass, the field will contest 1-1/2 miles over the Lexington track's turf course.
Trainer John Ward won't be caught up in the hoopla of Florida Derby (gr. I) week like he was in 2001 when Monarchos parlayed a victory in Gulfstream's premier event into a win in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but he did send three of his talented fillies for workouts Monday, each with potential for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
- By Tom LaMarra
The Thoroughbred industry will have to face the music and change its tune in the next few years if it is to flourish, trainer John Ward suggested during a lively discussion the evening of Nov. 4 at the monthly Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club meeting.
At an Oct. 21 open forum on Kentucky's equine medication policy, nearly everyone agreed the state should be part of a national effort to attain uniformity. However, opinions varied widely when it came to just what that policy should include.
Saratoga Notebook: Medaglia d'Oro's Foot Blisters; Velazquez on Volponi; Dynever Pennsylvania-Bound; Gygistar in Forego
Trainer Bobby Frankel said Friday that Whitney Handicap (gr. I) winner Medaglia d'Oro popped a pus pocket in a foot this week, a few days after finishing second to Candy Ride in the Pacific Classic (gr. I).
Saratoga Notebook: Velazquez Equals Win Mark; 'Woe Bobby'; Sky Mesa Gallops On; New Face in Spinaway; Sackatoga's Latest 'Episode'
Having already set one Saratoga riding record this summer, John Velazquez equaled another one Thursday afternoon.
Sky Mesa returned to the track on schedule Wednesday, five days after bruising a hoof while finishing last in the Travers (gr. I).
Travers winner Ten Most Wanted didn't look like he had run a mile and a quarter in 2:02 as he posed for pictures Sunday morning on the backstretch at Saratoga Race Course. His dappled coat was glowing in the bright sunshine.
Saratoga Notebook: McPeek Thinking Upset; Weight Could Factor; Tagg Rethinks Hopeful; Bond High on Solar Man
When Sarava rocked the Thoroughbred world by winning the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) last June, trainer Ken McPeek may have been the least surprised by the unexpected upset.
Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide, whose status for Saturday's Travers Stakes has been termed "highly unlikely" by trainer Barclay Tagg, took a step closer to entering Wednesday when he worked a half-mile in :47 4/5 Tuesday morning.
Saratoga Notebook: Frankel Drills Troops; Sky Mesa Dodges Bullet; Funny Cide Update; Strong Hope 'Super'
Looking to beat the rain, Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel had several of his top stars on the main track Saturday morning, led by likely Travers (gr.I) favorite Empire Maker.
Racing was held as scheduled at Saratoga Friday, with only a few changes necessitated by the power outage Thursday that affected an estimated 50 million people in the United States and Canada.
- By Ray Paulick
Trainer John Ward received a surprise phone call on Wednesday from New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer, three days after the Kentucky horseman made comments critical of the federal investigation of the New York Racing Association.
Saratoga Notebook: Volponi's Jockey Audible; Slow Go for Blazing Fury; Sky Mesa Pushed Back; Frankel Plots
Hall of Fame trainer Phil Johnson tried to out-think Breeders' Cup Classic (gr.I) winner Volponi Wednesday. He was at least partially successful.
- By Mike Kane
Kentucky Derby-winning trainer John Ward has called some of the recent attacks on the embattled New York Racing Association "essentially a political assassination campaign" linked to development of video lottery terminals at racetracks in the state.
Mother Goose (gr. I) and Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) winner Spoken Fur breezed four furlongs in :51 2/5 Sunday morning over the muddy Oklahoma training track in preparation for the Alabama (gr. I) on Saturday.
Saratoga Notebook: Top 3-Year-Olds Work; Prado Opts for Peace Rules; Volponi Ready for Whitney; Alabama Target for Awesome Humor
Empire Maker, Peace Rules and Sky Mesa all worked Saturday morning on the main track at Saratoga Race Course in preparation for their scheduled starts in stakes races on Aug. 3.
One week after winning Belmont's Mother Goose (gr. I) with Spoken Fur and the Delaware Handicap (gr. II) with Wild Spirit, the Hall of Fame combination of trainer Bobby Frankel and jockey Jerry Bailey join forces for Sunday's $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) with the immensely talented Sightseek.
Trainer John Ward said Thursday that he is leaning toward running Sky Mesa in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park on Aug. 3 instead of the Jim Dandy (gr. II) at Saratoga. "I'd say I'm 60-40," Ward said.
Trainer John Ward, believing that Funny Cide will be vulnerable in his first start since the Belmont, has opted to run Sky Mesa against the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner in the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 3.
Some six weeks after his bid for the Triple Crown ended in the Belmont Stakes (gr.I), the Funny Cide merchandising bandwagon has started rolling into his hometown, Saratoga Springs.
Trainer John Ward is hoping the 2003 version of the Go For Wand Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga is better for Forest Secrets than it was last year. Last year, the Debby Oxley-owned mare injured her left front ankle in the 1 1/8-mile race, which sent her to the sidelines for the remainder of the year.
While leading Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contenders Funny Cide, Empire Maker and Dynever are getting most of the attention these days, it wasn't long ago that Sky Mesa, Vindication and Toccet were the darlings of the current 3-year-old class.
Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, often paired with some of racing's leading female turf horses in recent years, finds himself aboard another immensely talented grass runner in Lilac Queen for Saturday's $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park.
Booklet, winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I), was honored as the 2002 Florida-bred Horse of the Year during the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association's annual awards dinner Monday night in Ocala.
After talking to owner John Oxley on Monday, John Ward said that Sky Mesa's Kentucky Derby status is "very clouded," and that he feels the colt should not be a single betting interest in next week's second Derby Future Wager.
The $150,000 Bayou Breeders' Cup Handicap at Fair Grounds, which drew multiple graded stakes winner Snow Dance, could use a break from Mother Nature. The last two years, the richest turf race for older fillies and mares at the meet has been transferred to the main track due to wet weather.
John Oxley's Booklet had his final workout on Sunday in preparation for Saturday's Sunshine Millions $1 million Ocala Breeders Sales Classic at Gulfstream Park, where the 4-year-old has posted a grade one win.
Holiday Thunder, a graded stakes-placed son of Thunder Gulch, enters stud at William Schettine's Signature Stallions.
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.
A bone scan performed Tuesday confirmed that the injury suffered by Sky Mesa was a minor one.
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.
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.
Keeneland's Fall Meet opens Friday and several racetrack stars are working toward weekend stakes races.
<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.
<b>Saratoga Notebook: </b>Long, SuccessfulTrip Extended for Aussie Import Zabenz; McPeek Gets Smarter; Ward Colt has B.C. Goal; Carson Hollow Update
It's off to the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase (gr.I) for Zabenz, the Austrialian import who won the New York Turf Writers Cup (gr.I) Thursday.
Riva Ridge (gr .II) and Dwyer (gr .II) winner Gygistar is a on course for the King's Bishop that is on the Travers Day program on Aug. 24.
<b>Saratoga Notebook: Day's Quest Continues; Forest Landing at Monmouth; Make Out's Spinaway Plans; Ward Frets Virus</b>
More than a year after becoming only the third jockey to reach 8,000 wins, Pat Day' continues to close in on another career milestone.
The way Medaglia d'Oro ran in Sunday's Jim Dandy, trainer Bobby Frankel said he is likely to put a little more spacing in the colt's races. After the Travers, that is.
<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.
Trainer Mark Hennig said Gygistar has a slim chance of making the Jim Dandy on Aug. 4; trainer John Kimmel got off to a good start, winning the first and third races; and trainer John Ward said that multiple stakes winner Booklet may return to the races for the first time since the Preakness later in the meet.
- By Tom LaMarra
A July 2 panel discussion on racetrack medication and the "reality of perception" led to allegations of medication abuse, racing surfaces that damage horses, and a regulatory system that hinders progress.
On the eve of Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the buzz around Baltimore's Pimlico Racecourse is which horses will be on the lead or pressing the pace so that War Emblem does not get an uncontested victory as he did in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
With only two horses left to be drawn, including Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner War Emblem, and the first and last choices for post positions remaining, trainer Bob Baffert was poised to be either the straw that stirred the Preakness post position drink or a man without a plan.
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.
John and Donna Ward are the Kentucky Thoroughbred Media's Ambassadors of Racing for 2002.
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