With the focus of many racing fans on Fair Grounds and the 3-year-old efforts of Derby hopefuls, 5-year-old Spotsgone quietly stole the $150,000 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn Park.
From the cavalry charge that entered the head of the lane for the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds, a star emerged. Winchell Thoroughbreds' Pyro smoked the competition, making a huge last-to-first move under Shaun Bridgmohan at Fair Grounds Feb. 9.
Daytona, coming off a Dec. 30 win in the San Gabriel Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita, kicked off his 4-year-old campaign with an emphatic wire-to-wire win in the $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT) Feb. 9.
Grasshopper made an impressive 4-year-old debut and earned his first graded stakes victory when he took the $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Feb. 9.
European top jockey Kieran Fallon, banned from racing for 18 months by the French racing authority, was denied his appeal of the sentence which was issued after a failed drugs test, the Racing Post reported Feb. 8.
Michael Langford's 6-year-old Jonesboro, winner of the 2007 edition of the Essex Handicap, will defend his title when a field of 11 hits the Oaklawn Park oval in this year's running of the $100,000 event Feb. 9.
Millennium Farms' Student Council, back-to-back winner of the Pacific Classic (gr. I) and the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) in 2007, looks to rebound from an eighth-place finish in the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) when he heads a field of nine in the $250,000 San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Feb. 9.
With his conditional license revoked in California and no chance to apply there until Dec. 31, Patrick Valenzuela is shifting his tack to Louisiana.
Todd Pletcher trainee Magna Graduate has not scored a win since April 2007 and the Neil Howard-trained Grasshopper has not raced since a second-place finish in the Super Derby Sept. 22. Both are looking for a return to their winning ways in the $150,000 Mineshaft Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Feb. 9.
Eclipse Award winner Indian Blessing will attempt to maintain a perfect record for Hal and Patti Earnhardt when she leads a field of seven in the $200,000 Silverbulletday Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Feb. 9.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' homebred Pyro will make his 3-year-old debut in the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Feb. 9, but don't think the Steve Asmussen trainee lacks experience. Prior to a Feb. 5 move over the Louisiana oval, his last two works were impressive bullets fired in company with 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin.
Spring At Last had only one start under his belt after winning the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) last March, and that was a Dec. 26 allowance race over the Santa Anita turf. But Doug O'Neill had no qualms about sending the Silver Deputy colt into the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I), and the trainer's faith was rewarded when his 4-year-old runner returned with a solid victory at Gulfstream Park Feb. 2.
David and Jill Heerensperger's Sky Mystic reeled in the field and returned to her winning ways for trainer Greg Gilchrist when she won the $100,000 California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields in a late rally Feb. 2.
Trainer Tom Albertrani may have a promising 3-year-old on the Derby trail for Darley Stable-or so it would seem after the $109,000 Whirlaway Stakes. Going 1 1/16-miles over Aqueduct's inner track, Darley's Barrier Reef battled it down to the wire with a tenacious Roman Emperor and eked out a determined half-length win Feb. 2.
Charles Wait, president of the Adirondack Trust Company in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has resigned from his position on the New York Racing Association's board of trustees, citing his dissatisfaction with the position of Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno as the main reason for his decision.
Brass Hat, A.P. Arrow, Fairbanks, Spring At Last, Einstein all pack into talented field for the 50th running of the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 2.
Trainer Greg Gilchrist sends out David and Jill Heerensperger's Sky Mystic, a 3-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa, in the $100,000 California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields Feb. 2. The question is, will the Kentucky-bred filly return to her winning form?
Trainer Nick Zito has a barn loaded with potential Kentucky Derby contenders, and four of those 3-year-olds made impressive moves this weekend.
Sent off at odds of 5-2, Mike Tarp's American County went wire-to-wire to win the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks at Gulfstream Park Jan. 26.
Quite a Bride turned in quite a performance and had 3-5 favorite Nashoba's Key playing the bridesmaid when she rolled to a solid win in the $500,000 San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Stakes at Santa Anita Jan. 26.
European rider Kieren Fallon has been handed a worldwide 18-month ban by France Galop after failing a random drug test in that country, according to The Racing Post.
Youthful runners and experienced contenders will go head-to-head at Sam Houston Race Park Jan. 26, when 7-year-old horses and 4-year-old colts mix it up in the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup Handicap.
Unraced since her fourth-place finish in the Emirates Airlines Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT), Eclipse Award finalist Nashoba's Key will make her 5-year-old debut in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Stakes at Santa Anita Jan. 26.
Although the Sunshine Millions races feature horses bred in Florida and California, the likely favorite for the Sunshine Millions Oaks will be shipping in from Louisiana's Fair Grounds with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan along to ride for trainer Steve Asmussen.
- By Claire Novak
When you meet Thornton in person, you think he is a very, very nice young man. You wonder how he remained steady and well-mannered even after encountering the racetrack's fast-paced lifestyle. When you hear of his multiple injuries and comebacks, you wonder why he hasn't given up on riding or spiraled into oblivion. Then you speak to his mother, and it all makes perfect sense.
Carson's Legacy overcame a rough start and proved he could come from off the pace when he won the $50,000 Dixieland Stakes at Oaklawn Park for trainer Steve Asmussen Jan. 18, opening day at the Hot Springs, Ark., track.
Horse of the Year candidate Curlin continued his path toward an unrevealed destination when trainer Steve Asmussen sent him to an easy five-furlong work over the Fair Grounds surface Jan. 18. The 4-year-old Smart Strike colt went the distance in 1:04 flat on a fast track.
For trainer Nick Zito, this week has truly been the best of times and the worst of times, at least where older horses are concerned. One day after 5-year-old Hesanoldsalt had to be euthanized following a freak accident at Palm Meadows, 7-year-old Commentator set a track record at Gulfstream Park - and blew away his competition with a 14-length victory Jan. 17.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Daily Racing Form have announced a National Handicapping Championship Tour that will offer additional prize money and qualifying births to the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, and have launched a coalition that will target legislation related to pari-mutuel wagering.
The eight horses entered in the Jan. 19 San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita are not lacking talent, but which runner will show the best turn of foot in the 1 1/4-mile turf event remains to be seen.
- By Claire Novak
The eight horses entered in the Jan. 19 San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Jan. are not lacking talent, but which runner will show the best turn of foot in the 1 Â¼-mile turf event remains to be seen.
After finishing second for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in the Dec. 29 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) over the Cushion Track at Santa Anita, 4-year-old Unspoken Word returns to turf and drops down in company to make her seasonal debut in the $100,000 Tuzla Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita Jan. 19.
Live racing in the heart of Hot Springs, Ark., kicks off Jan. 18 as the 56-day Thoroughbred meet gets under way at Oaklawn Park. The historic facility first hosted racing in 1905.
Jockeys in California are wearing plastic safety visors to protect their faces from harsh kickback as racing at Santa Anita continues despite the track's surface problems.
Jockey Julien Leparoux is shifting his tack to Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La., after spending about six weeks in California, according to the jockey's agent, Steve Bass.
Potential Horse of the Year Curlin turned in a slightly faster work at Fair Grounds Jan. 12, going four furlongs in :51.20 six days after he went the same distance in :53.40.
Zayat Stables' Z Fortune put himself near the top of trainer Steve Asmussen's 3-year-old list when he came from off the pace to take the $100,000 LeComte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Jan. 12.
The four ungraded $100,000 stakes races at Fair Grounds' "Road to the Derby Kickoff Day" were all about gate-to-wire wins and solid payoffs, as all but one of the winners paid more than $10 while setting or contesting the pace to do so at the Louisiana track Jan. 12.
Brazilian jockey Jorge Ricardo rode his 10,000th winner Jan. 9 at Hipodromo San Isidro in Buenos Aires, becoming the first rider in history to do so.
3-year-old fillies including Indy's Alexandra and Elusive Lady will launch their 2008 campaigns in the Jan. 12 edition of the Old Hat Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.
Midnight Cry Stable's Einstein could not defy the laws of gravity in his last start, when he went down in a frightening spill in the Dixie Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico on Preakness (gr. I) day, May 19. A mild injury from that spill cut short the 6-year-old's 2007 campaign, but he'll be back in a one-mile turf allowance feature at Gulfstream Park Jan. 11.
Fair Grounds' "Road to the Derby" Jan. 12 kickoff day is headed by Silverfoot in the Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap (gr. IIIT) and Blackberry Road in the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III), but four other $100,000 stakes races have drawn familiar names as well.
- By Claire Novak
Kellyn Goder is a skilled horseman, one of the few trainers who actually deserve that distinction. He is not famous, but that is about to change. Gorder is on the verge of a breakthrough.
Dogwood Stable's Blackberry Road may be the 7-2 morning line choice for the $100,000 Lecomte Stakes (gr. III), but he'll face two unbeaten runners, a graded stakes winner, and an impressive 9 1/4 length victor when a field of nine heads to the post at the Fair Grounds Jan. 12.
A group of New York jockeys is asking all parties in the ongoing negotiations for the New York racing franchise to come up with creative solutions to the problems facing the industry.
Noonmark earned his first graded stakes victory and rolled to a second consecutive win as he took the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 5.
The top three finishers from Aqueduct's Nov. 23 Top Flight Handicap (gr. II), led by Edward P. Evans' Mini Sermon, will meet again in the $150,000 Sabin Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 6.
Timber Reserve missed three months of training after his game victory in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II). Now he's back, seeking to emerge as a top 4-year-old in the Hal's Hope Handicap (gr. III) Jan. 6 at Gulfstream Park.
Keyed Entry has not raced since June 9, when he bore out on the turn in the six-furlong True North Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park. Making his first start since returning from a five-month layoff, the 5-year-old son of Honour and Glory carries highweight of 118 in the Jan. 5 Mr. Prospector Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park.
Members of the Southern California jockeys' colony, led by top jockey Garrett Gomez, will donate $20,300 to the Winners' Foundation on Dec. 29 at Santa Anita.
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