James Barry purchased his 4-year-old Divine Park for just $20,000 at Keeneland's September yearling sale in 2005. Less than three years later, the son of Chester House became a grade I winner when he ran down the talented Commentator in the $600,000 Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
In the $150,000 Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's homebred Lattice got an extension to the 1 1/2-mile distance, a confident ride from jockey Robby Albarado, and a soft pace to run at courtesy of Transduction Gold. Those factors were all he needed to put together a winning run.
In January, Tracy Farmer's Commentator blistered to a new track record at Gulfstream Park as he trounced an outclassed field of five allowance competitors by 14 lengths. In March, he demolished six Richter Scale Sprint Handicap (gr. II) contenders while drawing off to win by 13 3/4 lengths. But the 7-year-old Distorted Humor gelding faces his steepest test of the season this Memorial Day, when he heads a field of nine in the $600,000 Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, on three years' probation for a California DUI and unable to apply for a riding license in that state until Dec. 31 of this year, plans to begin riding races at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., according to a report in the Daily Racing Form.
On May 24, while reporters trace the every move of Triple Crown contender Big Brown, a hard-knocking 7-year-old gelding will make the 25th start of his career in the $150,000 Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs. And although the racing industry looks to a 3-year-old runner to attract nationwide fans, the reality is that Fred Bradley's Brass Hat is an equally intriguing horse to follow.
On May 17, the jockeys at Pimlico wore patches on their boots to honor Eight Belles. Each time the television networks showed a replay of Big Brown's latest performance, the late runner's image filled the frame. And when Buy the Barrel took the $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff Handicap (gr. II) for trainer Larry Jones and jockey Gabriel Saez, we were reminded of Eight Belles once again.
Lantana Mob equaled the six-furlong track record at Pimlico May 17 when he ran down Silver Edition for a neck victory in the $100,000 Hirsch Jacobs Stakes (gr. III) on the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) undercard.
Going into the $100,000 Miss Preakness Stakes (gr. III), the question for Palanka City was whether the black-type winner could step up to graded competition. At odds of 1-2, it was a question the Terry Gestes trainee answered with an emphatic "yes" at muddy Pimlico May 16.
There will be racing at other locations besides Pimlico on May 17, although most of the nation will be prone to forget it. At Belmont Park in the $150,000 Shuvee Handicap (gr. II), older fillies and mares head out a mile on the New York dirt just one hour before the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) goes off in Maryland.
That Roman Emperor likes the 1 1/16-mile distance has already been proven. Whether he'll bounce back from a seventh-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial (gr. I) remains to be seen. We'll find out when the Steve Klesaris trainee leads a field of seven 3-year-olds in the $100,000 Barbaro Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Just 14 days after saddling Eight Belles to a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), trainer Larry Jones will give a leg up to jockey Gabriel Saez and the two will take Hinkle Farms' Buy the Barrel postward in the $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (gr. II) May 17 at Pimlico Race Course.
Vinery Stables' Lantana Mob is the most likely choice in the $100,000 Hirsch Jacobs Stakes (gr. III) at Pimlico May 17, which is why he's been assigned the high weight of 122 pounds in a nine-horse field. But several 3-year-olds looking for graded stakes-winning status could step up to provide a challenge in this Preakness undercard event.
The top-weighted runner in the $250,000 Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico May 17 is coming off a sixth-place finish, while his closest competitor also ran sixth in his last start. That leaves a chance at graded earnings readily available to seven other runners in the 1 1/8-mile turf event on the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) undercard.
Ben P. Walden Jr. and his wife, Elaine, prominent members of the Kentucky Thoroughbred industry, have sold their 310-acre farm near Lexington. The property, called Gracefield, was purchased by Robert and Lisa Lourie of Setauket, New York, for an undisclosed amount.
Between Pletcher, Passion, and Pimlico, there are plenty of alliterations. And here is another for the record-preference-which is what the Eclipse Award-winning trainer will be trying to pinpoint as he sends his versatile 3-year-old filly to the $100,000 Adena Stallions' Miss Preakness Stakes (gr. III).
Behindatthebar wasn't ready for a start in the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) after winning the April 19 Coolmore Lexington (gr. II). But with two more weeks between races under his girth, the Todd Pletcher trainee could be one of the more legitimate contenders for the May 17 Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Stevil has not won a race since his maiden score at Belmont in October of 2007, but trainer Nick Zito has the grey son of Maria's Mon on track for a start in the May 17 Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Indizguys Stable's On the Acorn hadn't won a race since last year's running of the $250,000 Jim Murrary Memorial Handicap, but he defended that score with dignity and took the May 10 event at Hollywood Park for the second time in a row.
Shadwell Stable's Lucky Island wore down the front-running Man of Danger and got his third consecutive victory when he took the $109,100 Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont Park May 10.
A petition urging Churchill Downs to honor Fox Hill Farms' deceased filly Eight Belles by ringing eight bells, a nautical euphemism for "finished," prior to the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), is gaining momentum among horse lovers across the nation.
Of the seven horses headed postward in the $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont Park May 10 - from the lightly-raced Lucky Island to the hard-knocking Callmetony - every one looks like a legitimate contender.
Six days after Eight Belles' breakdown in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farms approved a wristband manufactured in memory of the gallant filly, with proceeds to benefit Midlantic Horse Rescue.
The last time Bel Air Sizzle was entered in a race, it was through error. Less than 72 hours after the 3-year-old filly scored a solid 2 3/4-length allowance win at Hollywood Park, she was placed in the April 27 Melair Stakes, where trainer Barry Abrams intended to enter another starter, Lethal Heat, instead.
A.P. Magic, a $2.3 million graduate of the Keeneland September yearling sale, came back from an injury thought to be career-ending when he broke his maiden at Calder Race Course May 3.
Speaking to reporters on the Churchill Downs backside the day after Big Brown won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. was cautiously optimistic regarding his starter's chances in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
The 12-1 outsider Bayou's Lassie got the jump on the rest of the field and galloped home a clear winner in the $169,050 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIIT).
There's always plenty of hay around the backstretch of any track, so it was a little surprising when we saw a bale arriving special delivery.
The past few years have been the best and worst of times for Rene Douglas. But in spite of personal hardship, the jockey is riding Z Humor in this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Trainer Todd Pletcher doesn't have the first, second, or third choice in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). In fact, his horses were assigned odds of 15-1 (Monba) and 20-1 (Cowboy Cal) on the morning line. So, after giving an update on the status of his runners, Pletcher was left to confirm Rick Dutrow Jr.'s confidence in Big Brown during a May 1 press conference at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. sent Big Brown for an easy work over the Churchill Downs surface May 1, and the imposing colt looked every bit the Derby favorite as he took to the track under regular exercise rider Michelle Nevin. Big Brown, installed as the 3-1 morning line choice following the April 30 post position draw, went three-eighths in :35 2/5.
Stronach Stables' homebred Sugar Swirl has taken everything trainer Brian Lynch has thrown at her, including four back-to-back stakes races " three of them graded. Now the 5-year-old daughter of Touch Gold seeks her first grade I victory against the likes of Hystericalady, Baroness Thatcher, and Intangaroo in the $300,000 Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I).
Although he has had 13 Kentucky Derby mounts, the winning prize has eluded 38-year-old Corey Nakatani. Not so honors in other racing events, from riding titles at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, Del Mar, and Oak Tree, to seven Breeders' Cup victories.
John Velazquez is well-known for his successful partnership with trainer Todd Pletcher, so it is extremely fitting that his Derby contender this year come from Pletcher's stable. Cowboy Cal is Velazquez's mount, and if the jockey improves off his second-place finish aboard Invisible Ink in 2001, he'll have himself a winner.
Frank Calabrese's homebred Dreaming of Anna, winner of the March 15 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) in her last start, will be the one to beat when nine older fillies and mares heads postward in the $150,000-added Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIIT).
Who can forget Edgar Prado's winning ride aboard Barbaro in the 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I)? The experience seemed once-in-a-lifetime, but Prado is back this year aboard the H. Graham Motion-trained Adriano seeking a second Derby win.
As Todd Pletcher's contenders for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) arrived at Barn 34 from Keeneland April 30, accompanied by stakes contenders Danzon, Leah's Secret, and Garden District, the Eclipse Award-winning trainer took time to reflect upon the challenge of reaching - let alone winning - the first leg of the Triple Crown.
In our quest to discover the origins of names belonging to Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contenders, we discovered a diamond mine, picked up some basketball lingo, learned Indonesian, and found out what brown can do for us. Here are the stories behind the names of a few runners going into this year's first Saturday in May.
An interview with Benny Stutts Jr. was the highlight of the annual Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners' and Breeders' Association's Derby trainers' dinner, as the 70-year-old trainer expressed his delight at preparing to saddle his first Kentucky Derby starter - Mount Joy Stables' Smooth Air.
Frank Stronach's 5-year-old Ginger Punch heads a field packed with talent in the $300,000 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) day May 2. Facing the Eclipse Award winner will be grade I winner Lear's Princess, grade II winner Kettleoneup, and blacktype winner Unforgotten.
Ten years ago Rick Dutrow was living in a tack room at Aqueduct, determined to make it on his own in the racing industry. On the morning of April 28, he faced a room full of media members intent on covering the progress of his contender for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Two-time Eclipse Award winner Mike Smith won the Kentucky Derby aboard Giacomo in 2005. Since then, he's had Derby fever even worse than before.
Trainer Nick Zito is holding court with a ring of media members outside his barn. The two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer has two starters for Saturday's running: Cool Coal Man and Anak Naktal. Zito is talking about the subject of the year: synthetic surfaces. We have a feeling he's not a big fan.
Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Big Brown shipped into Churchill Downs April 28, exhibiting the same ease with which he earned his latest five-length victory.
Julien Leparoux adds a bit of French flair to the American racing scene, having developed a strong career in Central Kentucky at tracks such as Keeneland and Churchill Downs after getting his start on horseback in his native country.
Jose Lezcano answered the questions for this interview on the telephone, through the interpretation of his agent, Jason Bidas, while laughing hysterically in the background.
Richard Migliore bounds through Barn 45 at Churchill Downs at a few minutes past nine. That's late for a racetracker, but the jet-setting jockey has a valid excuse. He just got into town.
Trainer Christophe Clement took two of four stakes events on the card during Calder Race Course's inaugural Turf Million day, including the $400,000 Calder Derby (gr. IIIT) with Jon and Sarah Kelly's 3-year-old Sporting Art.
West Point Thoroughbreds' Macho Again had the determination to overcome four graded stakes winners, plus four others, when he powered to the lead in the $115,200 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs April 26.
With a nationwide network of top clients and an agent who keeps him on the country's best horses, Garrett "Go-Go" Gomez used up enough frequent flier miles last year to earn him plenty of free trips to Louisville. Now the key is finding a winner in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
David Flores has been around the block a time or two, but he has yet to find his way to the Kentucky Derby winner's circle. This year, he has two potential mounts in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
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