Thanks to Mine That Bird and Rachel Alexandra, respectively, both Birdstone and Medaglia d'Oro have achieved the distinction of becoming Classic sires with their first crops. But how much of a boost will it really give them?
Four years after Birdstone upset Smarty Jones' Triple Crown bid, trainer Nick Zito would love to play spoiler again, as he will send out Four Roses Thoroughbreds' Anal Nakal in the Belmont in hopes of rejecting Big Brown's bid for racing immortality.
The Fasig-Tipton Texas sale of 2-year-olds in training, scheduled for April 1 at Lone Star Park in Texas, has a higher quality catalog than it did a year ago, according to Fasig-Tipton Texas' director of sales, Tim Boyce.
So Long Birdie, a half-brother to Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Birdstone and champion filly Bird Town, will stand in 2006 at Dr. Leonard Blach's Buena Suerte Equine near Roswell, N.M. His fee will be $2,000.
Trainer Nick Zito had Andromeda's Hero on the track Thursday morning at Saratoga Race Course working toward a start in the Aug. 27 Travers (gr. I). With exercise rider Jorge Abreu, Andomeda's Hero breezed five furlongs on the Saratoga main track in 1:02.
You could say that So Long Birdie has some awfully big wings to fill. Last year, his half-brother, Birdstone, won the grade I Belmont and Travers, and the year before, his half-sister, Bird Town, captured the grade I Kentucky Oaks and Acorn on her way to an Eclipse Award.
The Eclipse Award finalists, announced Jan. 5, reveal many familiar names in the human categories, with several big-name horses appearing in more than one category. Although most of the winners look like sure things, there are still some potential drag-out battles in the Sprint and 4-Year-Old and Up Female categories.
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.
In discussions of the Horse of the Year merits of Smarty Jones and Ghostzapper, it has been stated that Smarty Jones defeated an inferior group of 3-year-olds. But when you look at all the facts, there really is no basis for this.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, who was retired earlier the week of Nov. 1 after suffering a chip fracture in his left front ankle, will stand at Gainesway Farm near Lexington, Ky., Whitney's husband, John Hendrickson, said Nov. 5.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, winner of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and Travers Stakes (gr. I) this year, has been retired after a routine radiograph taken Nov. 2 revealed a P-1 medial chip in the colt's left front ankle.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, winner of the Belmont (gr. I) and Travers Stakes (gr. I) this year, has been retired after a radiograph taken Nov. 2 revealed a P-1 medial chip in the colt's left front ankle.
Based on the approximately $188,000 wagered at Lone Star Park Friday in advance wagering on the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, joint 9-1 favorites were Pleasantly Perfect, who won the $4-million race one year ago, 2003 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Funny Cide and this year's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Birdstone.
Diamond A Racing's Pleasantly Perfect was installed as the 5-2 favorite and drew the 12 post position as he attempts to defend his title in the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Texas' Lone Star Park Saturday.
Tomiro Fukami's Personal Rush, who will run in the $4-million Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), paid his first visit to the track Tuesday morning, and it was almost an hour before he finally made his way back to his barn.
The action was hot and heavy going into Breeders' Cup week, with 26 pre-entered horses working on Oct. 24, an influx of horses arriving from all parts of the country and Europe, and a serious injury to Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) contender Ready's Gal.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone had his first gallop over the Lone Star Park track Sunday after arriving Saturday afternoon on a private charter from Albany, N.Y. that also brought three other Nick Zito-trained horses.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, winner of the Belmont (gr. I) and Travers (gr. I), breezed six furlongs in 1:16 4/5 over a muddy training track at Saratoga Oct. 22 in preparation for the $4-million Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Lone Star Park Oct. 30.
Although no horse has won the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) coming off a layoff of more than 49 days, Richard Mandella, trainer of Pleasantly Perfect, and Marylou Whitney, owner of Birdstone, are confident taking their respective horses to Lone Star Park for the Oct. 30 World Thoroughbred Championships off layoffs of 69 and 63 days.
No matter how much time one spends studying the past performances and various speed figures for this year's Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I), they still won't be able to feel secure picking a winner.
Following this past weekend's stakes extravaganza, the field for the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) is pretty much firmed up...America has a budding superstar who can finally end the Europeans' five-year reign in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT)...and the Nextel Distaff (gr. I) has found another gem.
Although there are still several major preps remaining for the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), the leading players are pretty well set, with Pleasantly Perfect, Ghostzapper, and Birdstone all heading straight for Texas. But there is still one player – former Horse of the Year Azeri -- who could add a whole new dimension to the race.
Birdstone's 2 1/2-length win Saturday in the Travers (gr. I) at Saratoga, coupled with the colt's upset of Smarty Jones in the Belmont (gr. I), opens up the race for this year's 3-year-old championship, at least in the minds of some.
Marylou Whitney Stable's Belmont-winning Birdstone gave trainer Nick Zito his first victory in the Travers Stakes (gr. I) Saturday at Saratoga Race Course, just moments before an intense rainstorm hit the track.
Patrick Biancone, who will saddle Haskell Invitational (gr. I) winner Lion Heart in the $1-million Travers Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 28, and Todd Pletcher, trainer of Jim Dandy (gr. II) winner Purge, have different opinions about the 3-year-old championship picture.
Trainer Nick Zito sent two of his three starters for the grade I, $1 million Travers Aug. 28 out for works on the main track at Saratoga Friday morning. Sir Shackleton breezed five furlongs in :59 3/5 while The Cliff's Edge went the same distance in 1:01 1/5.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, who denied Smarty Jones the Triple Crown with his victory in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), will make his first start back in the $1-million Travers Stakes (gr. I), trainer Nick Zito said July 23.
Nick Zito has been busy recently trying to come up with a schedule for his talented arsenal of 3-year-olds. Even with the loss of Eurosilver, Zito is loaded as he sets his sights on a number of major stakes, beginning with the July 11 Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park.
By Ray Paulick -- Haven't we been here before? A horse, one that by the first Saturday in June is carrying too heavy an impost--an entire industry--for any Thoroughbred, is caught and passed in the cruel stretch of New York's Belmont Park.
Records in attendance and handle for Belmont Park and the New York Racing Association (NYRA) were set Saturday as Birdstone upset heavily-favored Smarty Jones in the 136th running of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) before a crowd of 120,139. The previous attendance record was 103,222 during the Belmont Stakes two years ago.
Trainer John Servis said he was "disappointed" for owners Roy and Patricia Chapman that Smarty Jones' bid for the Visa Triple Crown Challenge came up short when he finished a gutsy second to Birdstone in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) but that he was proud of the effort given by the colt Saturday.
Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) win by 36-1 shot Birdstone ended previously unbeaten Smarty Jones' Visa Triple Crown hopes and delivered a 13.4 overnight rating and a 27 share, the best Belmont overnight since a 15.4/47 for Seattle Slew's Triple Crown-clinching victory in 1977, according to Nielsen Media Research.
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."