Eleven of the 13 contestants in Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000
based locally at Oaklawn Park, but Southern California invaders Sabercat and
Secret Circle are the top draws in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Derby prep race
The outcome of the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 10 did nothing to make
trainer Patrick Byrne second guess the decision to skip it in favor of the Grade
1, $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 31.
In response to its popularity among horsemen over the past three years, the
Breeders' Cup board of directors has again approved an early foal nomination
program deadline which allows for a $100 discount off the standard $500
nomination fee for all foals nominated electronically by August 1 to the
Breeders' Cup program.
New Vocations will host "Thoroughbreds For All!" -- an evening of
education and fellowship for people who favor off-the-track Thoroughbreds
combined with an invitation for equestrians to shop in Kentucky for the
Thoroughbred of their dreams -- on April 28 shortly following the
Rolex cross country at 5 p.m. (EDT).
A total of 95 fillies have been entered for the Group 1, £350,000 Epsom
Oaks, highlight of Ladies Day at the Derby Festival at Epsom Downs on
June 1. The figure is two more than the 2011 entry and way ahead of the
2010 total of 77.
Champion female sprinter Musical Romance experienced a troubled trip when
opening 2012 in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint, grabbing a quarter
and ripping off a shoe at the start, but the five-year-old will look to rebound
when she lines up for Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000
Inside Information at
Gulfstream Park. The Bill Kaplan-trained mare will square off against 10 rivals,
including the top four finishers from the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie Stakes on
Late-blooming five-year-old Ellafitz will aim for a career high note as well
as her fourth straight stakes victory Saturday when facing five challengers in
Santa Anita's 75th running of the Grade 1, $300,000
Santa Margarita Stakes, the season's racing highlight for older fillies and
mares at 1 1/8 miles.
Only four other distaffers will line up against reigning Horse of the Year
Havre de Grace on Saturday in Fair Grounds' $150,000
New Orleans Ladies going 1
1/16 miles. The Larry Jones trainee will break from post 2 with regular rider
Ramon Dominguez in the saddle.
The perfect Kentucky Derby appetizer returns May 3 as Churchill Downs stages
its third annual Taste of Derby -- a celebration of cuisine and racing on the
eve of the Kentucky Oaks. Taste of Derby attendees will mingle with horse racing
and Hollywood celebrities and savor exquisite cuisine and delectable wines from
racing destinations across the country as nationally-renowned chefs serve
samples of their regional specialties.
Betfair US and Hollywood Park on Tuesday announced the completion of a
ground-breaking agreement intended to transform the customer experience for
racing fans at the historic venue, online and on television. Under the terms of
the five-year deal, the venue will be renamed "Betfair Hollywood Park" in the
first naming rights agreement ever for a horseracing venue in the United States.
Gulfstream Park will host the 14th running of the Claiming Crown on the
opening day of its 2012-13 meet on December 1. The 2012 event will see a
significant increase in purses to $850,000 for seven races with the individual
race purses ranging from $100,000 to $200,000. In addition to the six Claiming
Crown races conducted at the 2011 event, the Tiara for fillies and mares on the
turf will return this year.
Gulfstream Park will offer fans a week of activities and attractions leading
up to the $1 million Florida Derby on Saturday, March 31, including a concert by
a mystery Grammy-winning country artist as well as golf and poker tournaments, a
cocktail party with jockeys serving drinks, and the official Florida Derby
cocktail party with live and silent auctions.
Dennis J. Manning's first-time starter Crafty Unicorn stayed close to the
early pace of the 23rd running of the $100,000
Championship Stakes, contested Monday at the Ocala Training Center in
Florida. Crafty Unicorn fought to the lead along the inside in the stretch and
beat Burn the Mortgage by 1 3/4 lengths, with Moon Traveler checking in third.
Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace put in her last workout in advance
of Saturday's $150,000 New Orleans Ladies this morning at Fair Grounds, breezing
five furlongs in :59 3/5 with regular exercise rider Jen Brasser aboard. The
five-year-old mare worked in company with an unraced three-year-old filly, Just
Jan, who went the same distance in 1:00 under Rosie Napravnik while breezing to
the inside of Havre de Grace.
Champion Animal Kingdom will miss his intended start in the Group 1 Dubai
World Cup on March 31 after developing lameness in his left hind leg over the
weekend at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced Monday that an
updated set of racetrack safety and integrity standards has been circulated to
members of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, and that it is now available
for public comment. After finalization, the compliance standards will serve as
the basis for future racetrack Alliance accreditation, including the
re-accreditation of tracks previously accredited by the Alliance. The Alliance,
formed in October 2008 with the goal of establishing national uniform standards
in the areas of safety and integrity, includes 55 racetracks in North America
and every major national horsemen's organization. Twenty-two racetracks have
been accredited to date by Alliance safety teams.
Pinnacle Racing and Bill Kaplan's five-year-old mare Musical Romance closed
out an Eclipse Award campaign in 2011 winning the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare
Sprint at Churchill Downs on November 4, but her 2012 season debut did not go
well when she finished fourth in the Florida Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare
Sprint at Gulfstream Park on January 28.
There's a buzz back at the barn of Jinks Fires this spring a year after the
magical run by Archarcharch that culminated in a victory in the Grade 1, $1
million Arkansas Derby for his longtime clients Bob and Val Yagos. This time
another set of longtime owners are eagerly hoping Kid Sidney can make up for
lost time and get into the Grade 2, $500,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park
George and Mary Clare Schmitt's Izzy Rules lived up to her name, and her 6-5
favoritism, in Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000
Flores Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Grabbing command soon after the start,
the Jeff Bonde trainee led all the way home to finish the 6 1/2-furlong, fast
track event in 1:14 2/5. The five-year-old daughter of Peace Rules paid $4.60,
$3.20 and $2.80 to her faithful supporters.
Bradley Thoroughbreds, Steve Laymon and Jerry & Ronald Frankel's Dayatthespa
was all out to hold a closing Regalo Mia in Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000
Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream Park. With Javier Castellano aboard,
the Chad Brown-trained daughter of City Zip was a neck clear on the wire while
finishing the nine-furlong, firm turf affair in 1:47 1/5.
When Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein's Miz Ida powered home with a
late-running three-quarter-length victory in Saturday's $75,000 Allen LaCombe
Memorial at Fair Grounds, winning trainer Steve Margolis was quick to bring
attention to the filly's namesake.
Santa Anita will present its fifth annual "Santa Anita Uncorked" wine and
culinary festival on March 25. The event will be staged in the track's paddock
gardens area beginning at noon (PDT) and will feature a wide array of boutique
and hand-picked wine selections, cuisine sampling from 14 popular local
restaurants, a paddock art show and a full day of exciting Thoroughbred racing.
Mucho Macho Man continued to establish himself as a serious player in the
older horse division Saturday, posting a convincing victory in the Grade 2,
$300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap. A smart winner of the 1 1/8-mile Sunshine
Millions Classic January 28, the leggy bay colt cut back powerfully to a
one-turn mile while extending his win streak to three. Ramon Dominguez was up
for trainer Kathy Ritvo.
Anita Cauley's homebred On Fire Baby was sent off the 2-5 favorite in
Saturday's Grade 3, $125,000
Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park, but the gray miss
had to work for the win as 3-1 second choice Amie's Dini refused to yield in the
lane. It was only nearing the wire that On Fire Baby managed to pull away,
posting a two-length victory under jockey Joe Johnson to return $2.80, $2.40 and
$2.10 to her backers.
The San Felipe was widely viewed as the deepest Derby prep race so far this
season. Despite the withdrawal of Out of Bounds, who is sidelined by a fractured
ankle, and Fed Biz, who had a minor hiccup but is still on the trail, the 1
1/16-mile test lured a terrific group of classic hopefuls.
Prospective made his move to the lead on the far turn, was headed in
midstretch by a surging Golden Ticket, then came back again to prevail in
Saturday's Grade 2, $350,000
Tampa Bay Derby. Winner of the Grade 3 Grey Stakes
at two and second in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes in his previous start, the
Mark Casse-trained colt likely guaranteed himself a spot in the Kentucky Derby
field by increasing his graded earnings to $365,452.
Mikhail Glinka foreshadowed what Master of Hounds would accomplish two races
later in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta. Interestingly, both had been stablemates under
the tutelage of Aidan O'Brien, and neither had managed to win since the summer
of 2010. Mikhail Glinka last visited the winner's circle after a photo-finish
score in the Group 3 Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot.
Shivananda Parbhoo's Trinniberg is a colt to be reckoned with in the major
three-year-old sprints later this year after an impressive 2012 debut in
Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000
Swale at Gulfstream Park. Making his first start
since November and racing without blinkers for the first time, the son of
Teuflesberg assumed command at the start, led by a length through splits of :22
3/5 and :45, and exploded through the stretch to win by six lengths under Willie
Martinez. Final time for seven furlongs over a fast track was a sharp 1:21 3/5.
Trinniberg, sent off at 7-1, returned $17.20, $9.60 and $6.40.
Ahmed Ajtebi picked up the mount as Godolphin's other associated riders
piloted more accomplished entrants. Frankie Dettori, who had ridden Capponi in
all three of his starts this season, got off to partner Prince Bishop for Saeed
bin Suroor, who also sent out Mendip with Kieren Fallon. Al Zarooni saddled two
other contenders -- Monterosso, piloted by Mickael Barzalona, and Biondetti, who
drew in from the also-eligible list with Silvestre de Sousa. But none of them
In the early going, Master of Hounds was tracked by Secrecy, Pisco Sour and
Derbaas, and City Style was also well placed in fifth. The same could not be
said of several major contenders, including Master of Hounds' stablemates, River
Jetez and Mutahadee. Christophe Soumillon, who got off Master of Hounds to ride
Mutahadee, anchored him near the tail of the field. River Jetez was almost as
far back. Defending Jebel Hatta champion Wigmore Hall was likewise in a poor
position, and reigning Duty Free hero Presvis lagged in last after his habitual
Zagora was given a textbook ride by regular pilot Javier Castellano. The
odds-on choice was reserved in sixth early, six lengths off the pace established
by 96-1 longshot Megaspiel through fractions of :23 2/5 and :47 1/5. Unbridled
Humor stalked in second, followed by Sea Level Drive and Federation. Zagora
commenced her move entering the far turn, cutting her deficit to just 2 1/2
lengths when the leader reached six furlongs in 1:11 2/5.
Despite an initial early challenge in Saturday's Grade 3, $147,000
Stakes, Agave Kiss easily ran away with the six-furlong contest to move her
career record to a perfect four-for-four under jockey Ryan Curatolo. The Rudy
Rodriguez trainee was made the 1-4 prohibitive favorite by the betting public
and delivered when crossing under the wire three lengths the best.
Take Charge Indy, the 3-1 second choice on the morning line for Saturday's
Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, will be scratched from the race and point instead to
the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 31. Trainer Pat Byrne confirmed the change in
plans to Daily Racing Form on Friday.
When the devastating news came out that jockey E.J. "Tee Joe" Perrodin was
diagnosed with brain cancer just days after retiring from the saddle -- and that
Fair Grounds would be hosting a charitable crawfish boil on March 20 to benefit
the popular rider's family -- one of the first people to volunteer his services
at the upcoming event was Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg, who will be
returning to New Orleans that afternoon as an auctioneer.
There will be no change in the price of general admission tickets for the
138th runnings of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks if tickets
are purchased online and in advance of those events, but the ticket price will
be higher for walk-up purchases at admission gates on those respective days.