Old Friends Receives $50,000 From Fasig-Tipton

Old Friends President Michael Blowen was appreciative of the support provided by Fasig-Tipton’s Blue Horse Charities, who donated $50,000 that will be used to rebuild a hospital barn at the retirement farm in Georgetown, Kentucky.

A fire destroyed the hospital barn on January 24th that’s home to 150 retired Thoroughbreds. The rebuilt structure will be given the moniker of the “John Hettinger Memorial Barn.”

“Blue Horse Charities was conceived and created by John Hettinger during the time of his family’s ownership of the company,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “We are delighted that Old Friends will name the new barn in John’s honor.”

“John Hettinger’s commitment to caring for Thoroughbreds in retirement was unparalleled,” continued Blowen. “I remember many years ago sitting on John’s porch in Saratoga discussing what we needed to do to protect these retired racehorses. I think he would have loved Old Friends as much as we love him. Blue Horse’s $50,000 donation is like hitting the Pick 6 without even buying a ticket!”

In addition to using the $50,000 donation to rebuild a newer and fire-safe hospital barn, portions of the proceeds will be earmarked to updating and renovating the main barn on the farm’s property and ensuring that is is fire-proof as well.

Some of the more noteworthy and familiar retired Thoroughbreds that call Old Friends home includes Silver Charm, Game On Dude, Sarava, War Emblem, and Alphabet Soup.

Preakness to Stay at Pimlico

Pressure Will Continue To Mount for Move of Preakness Stakes

Despite criticism of Pimlico and pressure to move the Preakness Stakes to another site, the second leg of the Triple Crown will remain in Baltimore at Pimlico Race Course.

“The Preakness will be run at Pimlico for the foreseeable future,” Sal Sinatra told the Thoroughbred Daily News this month. Sinatra is president and general manager of Laurel and sister track Pimlico, “We are working with the state on options for upgrading the facility and studies are being done for feasability.”

The Maryland Jockey Club hasn’t ruled out moving the Preakness Stakes years down the road, with nearby Laurel Park the favorite as it upgrades its facilities in the midst of a $200 million renovation.

Pimlico Race Course is one of Baltimore’s and the State of Maryland’s most well-known landmarks. Built in 1870, it’s the second oldest track in the country behind Saratoga Springs.

“This building is old, you just can’t add suites to it,” Sinatra said of Pimlico before last year’s Preakness Stakes. “It’s almost a rebuild here, where Laurel is a pretty healthy building. Laurel you can renovate, so that plays into it as well. … Obviously, we have more acreage over at Laurel than we do here.”

The Preakness Stakes draws more than 100,000 annually to the Baltimore oval as the Mid-Atlantic’s largest single-day sporting event. Tracks nationwide would covet the race’s international exposure,

Those who don’t want the Preakness moved, either chronologically or geographically, have one important ally — at least for the next three years. As he stood on the jockey terrace watching the races last May, Maryland governor Larry Hogan weighed in on what is surely to continue to be a hot-button issue.

“It’s just critically important for the Preakness to stay here in Maryland,” Hogan said. “It’s part of our history and culture, and we’re going to keep it here in Baltimore.”

Unfortunately, at a time when cities like Baltimore desperately need economic assistance from the business community to help rebuild communities and areas like the historic Park Heights neighborhood that supports Pimlico, it appears the it’s just a matter of time before the old landmark has a new Preakness home.

Mohaymen is ready for 2016 Holy Bull Stakes

Mohaymen Ready for 2016 Holy Bull Stakes

The 2016 Holy Bull Stakes cracks its gates open next weekend on January 30th, and all eyes will be focused on Mohaymen. The three-year old son of Tapit is undefeated in three races, having won the Remsen and the Nashua at the end of 2014. He is also the second favourite amongst Triple Crown hopefuls this coming season, ranking just behind the front running Nyquist.

Two weeks ago, Mohaymen ran like he was shot out of a canon, covering five furlongs in just 0:59 2/5 which brought some excitement from trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.  “It’s very exciting. He’s training great and done everything right. He works well every time and comes back, and doesn’t blow out a match…We know he can handle most things thrown at him at this stage. We just hope we have a good trip and a clean trip.”

It certainly seems like the winner of the Gulfstream main event next weekend is a given, and excitement for Mohaymen continues to rise as we march down the road to the Kentucky Derby.

Conquest Big E might stand as the biggest threat to Mohaymen at the 2016 Holy Bull Stakes. His disappointing 8th place finish at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile notwithstanding, the highly rated Conquest Stables product topped the podium at an impressive allowance hosted by Churchill Downs to finish his 2015 campaign. He ran a mile in 1:37.62.

Greenpointcrusader also remains an intriguing entry. He placed 7th at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile just after winning the one-mile Champagne (GR1) with a time of 1:36.25. This will be Greepointcrusader’s first race at Gulfstream and he remains, quite literally, a dark horse in the 2016 Holy Bull Stakes.

Fellowship will also compete at the 2016 Holy Bull Stakes with the hopes of generating the same buzz he had at the tail of 2015.  The Stanley Gold trainee finished first in a Gulfstream maiden while placing second at the Birdonthewire and another allowance at Gulfstream West. He also finished a respectable 5th at the Mucho Macho Man Stakes to start his sophomore season.

Perfect Saint and Frontier Ranger are also projected to race in the 2016 Holy Bull Stakes, but nobody feels more important than Mohaymen. Truth be told, running this race just seems like a formality. Everyone just wants to see how fast McLaughlin’s star truly is as a three-year old.

The 2016 Holy Bull Stakes is a 1 1/16 mile race on dirt at Gulfstream Park, scheduled for January 30th. It offers a purse of $350,000.

Frankel Sires in Hot Demand Yet Again

European Horse of the Year Frankel had his first yearling sire sold today at the Southern Hemisphere as part of New Zealand Bloodstock’s Karaka 2016 Premier Sale. The sire in question sold for NZ$ 1.3 million, or $843, 232 USD.

A combination of parties joined forces to purchase the sire, including Adrian Nicoll of BBA Ireland, who said, “The two best Frankels I have seen have been this horse here and the filly at Goffs that sold for €1.7 million. He’s a lovely horse, he’s got immense presence and we started trying to make this happen about three days ago.”

Frankel sires are quite the draw. His sires accounted of the top average during the Book 1 stage of the Keeneland September yearling sale, with two colts going for an average of $650,000. He also led the way at the Arqana August yearling sale, with six of his sires being sold for an average of $619,582.

This year’s Karaka Premier Sale brought in an aggregate total of NZ$ 36,121,100 during its two day sale. That number is an increase of 24 percent from last year’s sales total, and is the highest sales figure the event has seen since 2011.

Both the average sales price (NZ$ 176,226) and the median sales price (NZ$ 140,000) saw increase in year-over-year from 2015, as well as a boost in clearance (78 percent).

“We are delighted with the results that have been achieved over the past two days,” said New Zealand Bloodstock Managing Director Andrew Seabrook. “An extremely diverse buying bench was active, leading to some great bidding spectacles in the ring.

“We achieved the best average since 2010 and the best aggregate and median since 2011 which shows the depth of the catalog. Credit must go to our vendors for putting together a catalog of great strength and for presenting their horses in immaculate condition.”

The event’s biggest spender was Te Aku Racing’s David Ellis for the 11th year in a row, walking away with 17 horses for NZ$ 4,775,000.

Lost Bus Wins Santa Monica Stakes

Lost Bus Stuns 2016 Santa Monica Stakes

Jerry Hollendorfer was hoping for a three-peat at the 2016 Santa Monica Stakes, but was upended in one of the biggest upsets of the year so far. Lost Bus came across the wire first as a staggering 64/1 longshot. The four-year old filly paid an astounding $131.20, $42.20 and $14.80 across the board.

Head trainer Gary Sherlock was obviously thrilled with the result of the 2016 Santa Monica Stakes. It represents the first stakes victory since 2008 for the trainer. “I was running for third and it turned out better than that. There wasn’t a lot of speed in the race and I told Fernando [Perez] to go to the front.”

Jockey Fernando Perez was also impressed by Lost Bus’s efforts as well. “I got a clean break, I took her to the lead, and she was comfortable the whole time—and at the end, she was still trying.”

Lost Bus finished with a time of 1:21.78 after duelling with Finest City the entire way during the 7-furlong chase. It was a strong finish for the second-place Finest City, who was coming off a disappointing 10th place finish at the La Brea in late December. Also a four-year old filly, Finest City had gone 2-1-0 in three optional claiming races, including her maiden victory.

Tara’s Tango finished in third at the 2016 Santa Monica Stakes during an up-and-down effort. She started strong, faded, then upped her pace to barely miss closing the gap behind Finest City and Lost Bus. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who had won the 2014 and 2015 Santa Monica Stakes, was still able to make the podium at the very least.

Living The Life, Kiss At Midnight, Room For Me, Prize Exhibit, Kryiaki and Ben’s Duchess rounded out the order. It was most certainly a heavy finish for Ben’s Duchess, who had gone 5-1-4 over 11 previous races and entered the fray as the favourite. It might be back to the drawing board for John Sadler’s trainee, or we could just chalk the 2016 Santa Monica Stakes up to what they were – a phenomenal upset.

Racetrack Cancellations and Weekend Weather Watch

Severe Winter Weather Causes Racetrack Cancellations

Extreme winter weather has caused racetrack cancellations at a number of locations including at Aqueduct in New York on Saturday, January 23 for the $100,000 Busanda Stakes. The New York Racing Association announced that the decision was made in anticipation of “extreme winter weather conditions and out of an abundance of caution for our equine athletes and their jockeys,” according to a NYRA release.

The Busanda Stakes is rescheduled for Sunday, January 31. Aqueduct will remain open for simulcasting Saturday, while the winter hat and glove giveaway has been rescheduled for Saturday, January 30.

Laurel Park in Maryland announced it cancelled live racing Saturday and Sunday as snow and blizzard conditions hit the Baltimore and Washington area. The track canceled its Friday, January. 22 program after the fifth race for the safety of its customers, employees, jockeys, horses, and horsemen.

Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore is closed for simulcasting Saturday.

Monmouth Park Racetrack in New Jersey is also closed for simulcasting Saturday as 5-8 inches of snow and high winds hit Oceanport.

High winds caused the cancellation of racing at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans Friday night, as the jockey’s voted not to ride.

Oaklawn Park in Arkansas cancelled the Friday card following an inch of rain and snow Thursday. Racing will resume Saturday with the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes, and Oaklawn will remain open for gaming and simulcast racing.

Turfway Park in Kentucky cancelled live racing and music Friday, and both Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia cancelled live racing Friday and Saturday.

No Doubt Mohaymen Ready for Holy Bull Stakes

Undefeated graded stakes victor Mohaymen out of Shadwell stable made it known he’s ready for the January 30th running of the South Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park with a sharp final training session.

In yesterday’s work, under rider Miguel Jaime, Mohaymen coasted through five furlongs in a time of :59 1/5. If that time is a preview of things to come his 2016 debut could lead to another victory lap.

“He worked great and he continues to do well,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “That was a really nice work. We’re a little more than a week away, and we’re all excited.”

Since arriving in South Florida earlier last month, Mohaymen has gone to the track for four separate practice runs. His previous sessions were of the half-mile variety, running :49 2/5 on December 31st and :47 3/5 on January 8th. He moved up to a mile on January 14th, doing so in a time of 1:01.

“I wanted him to go (a half-mile) in :48 and he went in :47,” said McLaughlin. “It was a little quicker, but he is just doing so well. He did it all on his own and he doesn’t blow at all coming back. He cools out so quickly. We’re all set. All systems are go.”

The Holy Bull Stakes is part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” scoreboard and the winner will receive ten points. Second place gets four, third is awarded two points, and the fourth place finisher is given one point. Mohaymen currently has ten points.

Santa Monica Stakes favourite Ben's Duchess

Santa Monica Stakes Led By Ben’s Duchess

The race with the biggest purse this weekend is the Santa Monica Stakes. The 7-furlong sprint is open to older fillies and mares, offering a purse of $200,000 as a GR2 stakes race. The dirt track at Santa Anita Park has served as the host of the Santa Monica Stakes since 1957.

The nine-horse field will be led by Ben’s Duchess who will head in to the Santa Monica Stakes boasting the most interest since she’s posted impressive times at this racing distance before. The John Sadler trainee ran an incredible 1:20.38 at the Angel’s Flight, finishing third, and 1:23.31 in the La Brea (GR1) while finishing 6th.  The winning time for the last three renewals of this race has posted a winning time of 1:22+.

In fact, the last two winners have been trained by Jerry Hollendorfer who will submit Tiara’s Tango this weekend. Sired by Unbridled’s Song, the four-year old filly will drop down to the sprint category after turbulent runs at longer distances. Tiara’s Tango finished 10th at the Cotillion (GR1) but also placed second at the Summertime Oaks (GR2), both of which run at 1 1/16 miles. Interestingly enough, she’s bested Ben’s Duchess twice in sprints, placing second at the Angel’s Flight and and the Santa Paula. Hollendorfer’s recent history of wins at this race will undoubtedly generate intrigue with Tiara’s Tango at the Santa Monica Stakes.

The main issue for Tiara’s Tango is that her last two outings have seem uninspired and there’s a feeling around the track that she’s beginning to lose her competitive spark. So I wouldn’t automatically slip her in to the win just yet, though she’s performed better at sprints. There is a chance that competing against an old rival like Ben’s Duchess will bring out the best in her.

James Cassidy’s Prize Exhibit is another four-year old filly who is one to keep your eyes on. She blitzed the Monrovia Stakes (GR2) at a distance of 6 1/2 furlongs earlier this month and also placed a respectable 6th at the Matriarch Stakes (GR1) in late November last season. This will be her first race on dirt.

Room For Me and Living The Life head to Santa Anita with the most wins in the field, with each touting 9 apiece. The six-year old Room For Me recently showed third at the Interborough, while winning the Garland of Roses at Aquaduct last December. Gary Mandella’s Living The Life is also six years old this season and has been erratic at all distances. She placed 6th at the Goldikova Stakes after winning the Presque Isle Masters (GR2).

Lost Bus, Kiss at Midnight, Kyriaki and Finest City round out the order for the Santa Monica Stakes.


No Surprise, World’s Best Racehorse is American Pharoah

The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) named American Pharoah its Longines World’s Best Racehorse. The win comes on the heels of an earlier Horse of the Year win for American Pharoah at the Eclipse Awards. American Pharoah

American Pharoah’s final 134 rating in the 2015 World’s Best Racehorse rankings is the highest grade since Frankel in 2012, and he is the first North American-based horse to top the standings since Curlin in 2008.

“To see American Pharoah named as the Longines World’s Best Racehorse is an incredible honor and something which means a great deal within the international horse racing industry,” said American Pharoah owner Ahmed Zagat. “It has been a pleasure to be in London to receive this prestigious award and share the company of so many respected figures from the horse racing community. I’ll never have another horse like him, he did so much for the sport.”

Finishing in second behind American Pharoah was Golden Horn, who earned a rating of 130. He also was named Europe’s Horse of the Year. In a tie for third place with 126 points were Treve and the late Shared Belief. The top ten saw an additional four North American-bred horses in addition to American Pharoah and Shared Belief. They each tied for eighth with 123 rating and were: Beholder, Dortmund Firing Line, and Honor Code.

There were a total of 15 North American-based horsed who finished with a 120 or better rating that ranked in the top 50. Click here to see a complete list of the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

Mo Tom Wins The 2016 LeComte

Mo Tom Outlasts Field at 2016 LeComte

GMB Racing were the big winners at the 2016 LeComte over the weekend. Still in its first year of operation, the group founded by Gayle and Tom Benson saw two of their products top the podium in the first leg of the Fair Grounds Triple Crown. Mo Tom finished first ahead of Tom’s Ready, beating out the listed favourite Uncle Walter.

“Man I’m so excited, I can’t talk. I didn’t expect 1-2. I expected one, but I didn’t expect two to come in there.” Benson said, elated about the results from Saturday’s race. “He ran a great race. Both of them did. It was a great day for us. Hey we want both of them in the Kentucky Derby.”

Mo Tom continued to build towards the Triple Crown season with a strong victory at the 2016 LeComte. He paid out $6.40, $3.60 and $2.40 as a 2/1 favourite and earned his first trip to the winner’s circle. He’d previously finished third at both the Kentucky Derby Jockey Club (GR2) and an allowance at Keeneland last October. Mo Tom displayed power and poise down the stretch of the 1 mile 70 yard race, and is certain to catch the eyes of those looking farther down the derby road.

Tom’s Ready was the bigger shock of the two. Paying out $5.60 and $3.40 in second place, there were very few expectations on the lesser known GMB Racing colt as you could tell by his 5/1 odds. There’d be no real indication that Tom’s Ready was prepared for a breakout performance, but he responded to the spirit of Mo Tom admirably. Tom’s Ready finished 5th at the Hopeful last September before dropping to 8th at the Kentucky Derby Jockey Club a couple months later.

Rounding out in third at the 2016 LeComte was Uncle Walter, who began the day at 5/2. Like Mo Tom, he was sired by Uncle Mo, and had massive expectations heading in to this race. Owned by the Ramsey’s and trained by Michael J. Maker, Uncle Walter may have just been caught on an off day. It remains to be seen where his connections intend to point him.

It’s a different story for the top two finishers at the 2016 LeComte, who have already been nominated for the Risen Star Stakes (GR2), which will be held at Fair Grounds on February 20th. If all goes well for Mo Tom at that race, there’s no doubt that he will race in the Louisiana Derby on March 26th in an attempt to bag a preseason Triple Crown before challenging for the real one.