It was a weekend that helped shape the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), Emirates Airline Distaff (gr. I), and John Deere Turf (gr. IT). Of course, no big weekend at Belmont Park this fall would be complete without a controversy surrounding the use of pacesetters.
Mercedes Stables and Madeleine Paulson Pickens' Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) winner Rock Hard Ten came out of his latest victory in top shape, trainer Richard Mandella said, and will make his next start in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Belmont Park on Oct. 29.
Cross a strapping stamina-oriented stallion with a precocious speedster of a mare. What do you get?
Returning from a seven-month layoff, Rock Hard Ten swept past reluctant pacesetter Roman Ruler in the final furlong to win Saturday's $484,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.
Pleasantly Perfect used the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) to prepare for his victory in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). Tiznow took the same route in 2000. Now trainer Richard Mandella hopes the $500,000 stakes at Oak Tree Saturday can be a springboard to the $4 million Classic for handicap star Rock Hard Ten.
Fog City Stables' grade I winner Roman Ruler will not make the trip to New York for Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), trainer Bob Baffert said, and will instead run in the $500,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on the same day.
Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) winner Roman Ruler, third in the Aug. 27 Travers Stakes (gr. I) in his last start, led Friday's Santa Anita workout brigade of Bob Baffert-trained runners looking toward the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
Madeleine Paulson, widow of legendary horse breeder and owner Allen Paulson, is planning to marry Texas energy magnate T. Boone Pickens in the next couple of weeks.
Rock Hard Ten, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), is back galloping and is being pointed for the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita, said trainer Dick Mandella, whose ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
Often accused of failing to realize his awesome potential, Rock Hard Ten brought his true knockout punch to Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), pulling away for a decisive 1 3/4-length victory over the strongest field he is yet to face.
An old-fashioned East vs. West match-up between Saint Liam and Rock Hard Ten looms in Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I).
Rock Hard Ten and Congrats, two contenders for Saturday's Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) trained by Richard Mandella, worked at Santa Anita Tuesday.
Odds-on favorite Rock Hard Ten gave everything he had to hold off the determined Imperialism by a nose in an exhilarating finish to the $300,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Saturday.
Rock Hard Ten makes his debut as a 4-year-old Saturday against a quality field in the $300,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park.
Potential handicap star Rock Hard Ten remains on course for Saturday's $300,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park, but stablemate Minister Eric will not run, trainer Richard Mandella said Wednesday.
A total of 989 horses from 21 countries were nominated to the March 26 Dubai World Cup day card at Nad Al Sheba Race Course.
Malibu Stakes (gr. I) winner Rock Hard Ten, who breezed three furlongs Sunday in :36 4/5, may not be ready for the second leg of the Strub series for 4-year-olds, the $200,000 San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 15.
The hole opened up for Rock Hard Ten near the eighth pole and the strapping colt burst through to win the $250,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds Sunday in front of 31,874, the largest opening-day crowd since 1999 at Santa Anita Park.
Whether you felt this year's 3-year-old crop was a good one or bad one, it certainly inspired a good deal of passion and provided a number of memorable moments. The following is a look back at the tumultuous 3-year-old season and its most notable performers, broken down into categories.
Grade II winners Rock Hard Ten and Love of Money return from layoffs to head up Sunday's $250,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I), a test for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs that kicks off Santa Anita's 85-day winter meeting.
Minister Eric, who ran third in his only race since an eventful 16th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) May 1, will wear blinkers when he tackles a competitive field in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) Sunday at Santa Anita Park.
Rock Hard Ten, who finished sixth in last Sunday's Haskell Invitational (gr. I) as the favorite, will finally be going home on Sunday.
Rock Hard Ten, who finished sixth behind Lion Heart as the 4-5 favorite in Sunday's $1-million Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I), was still at Monmouth Park Wednesday morning, and will not ship home to California until he fully recovers from a slight illness that surfaced after the race.
Smarty Jones' retirement left the door open for a new 3-year-old division leader and Lion Heart busted through, winning the $1 million Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) in fine fashion at Monmouth Park Sunday.
Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's Lion Heart, the 121-pound starting highweight for the Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I), drew post 4 on Thursday for Sunday's race. He was quickly installed the 9-5 favorite for the $1-million Haskell, Monmouth Park's signature race of the season.
Tap Day and Pie's Prospect were added to Sunday's $1-million Haskell Invitiational Handicap (gr. I) at Monmouth Park bring the total field to seven starters.
The Breeders' Cup Classic Division Powered by Dodge takes center stage this weekend as 3 year olds and up start serious preparation for the headline event at Lone Star Oct. 30. The action will be televised by the ESPN family of networks.
The second season begins in earnest for the 3-year-olds the weekend of Aug. 7-8, with the runnings of the Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I), Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II), and West Virginia Derby (gr. III). If there is even the slimmest chance of dethroning Smarty Jones for the title, someone is going to have to run the table.
Mercedes Stable's and Madeleine Paulson's Rock Hard Ten, runner-up to Smarty Jones in the Preakness Stakes, turned a swift and visually impressive five furlongs Saturday morning in a final tuneup for next Saturday's Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
Lion Heart leads a field of seven expected for the $1-million Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I), going 1 1/8-miles on Aug. 8 at Monmouth Park. The Patrick Biancone-trained Lion Heart will carry a top weight of 121 pounds.
A field of eight, topped by grade I winner Lion Heart, is shaping up for the $1-million Haskell Invitational (gr. I), going 1 1/8 miles on Aug. 8 at Monmouth Park.
Rock Hard Ten finally had the day everyone was waiting for in the $409,300 Swaps Breeders' Cup (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park Saturday, taking command in the stretch for an easy 3 3/4-length victory.
Rock Hard Ten, runner-up to Smarty Jones in this year's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), heads a field of six 3-year-olds who will clash in the $400,000 Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Mace and Samantha Siegel's stakes-winning 3-year-old Suave will be shipped to Hollywood Park for the $400,000 Swaps (gr. II) July 10, trainer Paul McGee said Friday.
In his first work since a fifth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes on June 5, Rock Hard Ten drilled five furlongs in 1:00 Sunday at Hollywood Park under jockey Patrick Valenzuela. Imperialism also worked Sunday.
Rock Hard Ten, one of the leading 3-year-olds in the nation, galloped on the main track at Hollywood Park on Thursday with an eye toward the $400,000 Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr.II) July 10.
Notes on Belmont Stakes (gr. I) runners other than the Nick Zito-trainer Birdstone and Royal Assault and Smarty Jones, which have been reported in other stories.
Yes, it is blasphemous to even think that Smarty Jones will be beaten in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). But it is still a horse race, and a mile and a half one to boot. And there will be some people who will try to win money and beat the favorite. Although I hate to even suggest that will happen, this column is for them. To all Smarty Jones fans who think this is a lock, read on at your own risk.
Jason Orman, trainer of Preakness (gr. I) runner-up Rock Hard Ten, is taking aim once again at Smarty Jones in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), saying "If we were running for second, we wouldn't be here."
Eddington, the third-place finisher in the Preakness (gr. I) and 10-1 on the morning line for Saturday's 136th running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds, galloped a mile and three furlongs over Belmont's main track Friday. "He's ready," trainer Mark Hennig said. "He's doing as well as can be expected."
Shortly before he arrived at Belmont Park after a 2 1/2-hour van ride, Someday Farms' Smarty Jones was installed as the 2-5 morning line favorite when he breaks from the outside nine post position in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Tuesday morning that Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) winner Purge will attempt to disrupt Smarty Jones' Visa Triple Crown Challenge bid in Saturday's $1-million Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
With Visa Triple Crown Challenge contender Smarty Jones biding his time at Philadelphia Park until mid-week, three colts who will attempt to pull an upset in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) worked five-eighths of a mile at Belmont Park Monday.
Mark Hennig was surprised when Eddington worked a blistering half-mile last week, so for his final Belmont Stakes (gr. I) prep, he equipped the colt with blinkers, put Jerry Bailey up, and worked him in company to see how aggressive he'd be off that last work. He found out when Eddington blazed five furlongs in :59 flat.
With Rock Hard Ten having already been trounced by Smarty Jones in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), trainer Jason Orman can only hope that the mile and a half distance of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) will help bring the two colts closer together in the third leg of the Triple Crown.
It took Rock Hard Ten three tries, but he finally worked Tuesday morning for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) with jockey Pat Valenzuela, who may or may not ride the colt in the Belmont, aboard. Even the distance and time of the work are uncertain, depending on how you look at it.
His connections hope that Rock Hard Ten, who threw a fit prior to being loaded into the starting gate for last week's Preakness (gr. I), could improve on his second-place finish in the race with some improved etiquette in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who was set to serve out the remaining 30 days for a recent suspension handed to him by the Calng Board during the month of June, is considering filing an appeal that will allow him to ride Mercedes Stables' and Madeleine Paulson's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Rock Hard Ten in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
Mercedes Stables' Rock Hard Ten, runner-up to Smarty Jones in the Preakness Stakes (gr. II), has been getting accustomed to his new surroundings at Belmont Park since arriving here Monday. The son of Kris S. is preparing to start in the grade I, $1 million Belmont Stakes June 5 and will attempt to deny Smarty Jones the Visa Triple Crown.
The California Horse Racing Board Tuesday suspended jockey Patrick Valenzuela for four months, with three months' credit for time served, and ordered the rider to serve out his remaining 30 days during the month of June.
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