Tepin in Line to Start in the Ballston Spa

Tepid will forgo competing in the Fourstardave Handicap (gr. I) on August 13 at the Saratoga Race Course with the hope to compete against Lady Eli in the Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa (gr. IIT) on August 27 instead.

While trainer Mark Casse said Tepin was fine physically, he mentioned how she suffered through a couple of “blah days” this past week and decided not to follow through with the initial plan to breeze her this weekend.

The Fourstardave was going to be the first time Tepin started since her June 14 Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) win, where she made history becoming the first U.S.-based horse to win the British event.

“We said all along that everything had to go perfect for us to (make the Fourstardave),” said Casse. “When we went to Royal Ascot, we never planned on bringing her back that quickly. Then when we got to looking at it we said ‘well, maybe’ but everything had to go right.

“She had a couple blah days this week, enough so that we didn’t get to lead up to this weekend the way we wanted. We had planned on breezing her tomorrow (July 30) which would have been a big work for her. And we just felt she wasn’t ready to do that yet. So now we’ll just kind of sit back and we’re still looking at the Ballston Spa.”

Tepin finished in second to Chad Brown-trained Dacita in last year’s Ballston Spa. Lady Eli also happens to be trained by Brown. In 20 career starts, Tepin has won 12 and earned over $3.5 million.

Jim Dandy Preview

Mohaymen Returns In Loaded Jim Dandy

The field for this weekend’s Jim Dandy Stakes is one of the most intriguing of the year. It mostly resembles a field of redemption for horses that are still trying to prove what they’re worth, and you’ll recognize a lot of those names from the derby trail. One of those features is none other than Mohaymen.

You might remember the popular Kiaran McLachlin trainee after he thundered to the front of the three-year old class in February, posting as the Kentucky Derby favorite. But the late bloomer had been ground through a gauntlet of seven races in just nine months. At times, he was running high grade stakes races every four or five weeks. That’s how good he is…or at least was.

Heading in to the Jim Dandy, Mohaymen has as much to prove as the rest of the field. He trailed to 4th in a heated showdown at the Florida Derby with Nyquist who was supposed to be his archrival, but he seemed disinterested in challenging that race. He repeated the same result at the Kentucky Derby as the fourth choice in a better effort, but the wear and tear on his performance was apparent. That’s why the Jim Dandy is such a pivotal point in his career.

As a son of Tapit out of Justwhistledixie, nobody can question Mohaymen’s pure talent. Leading up to the Kentucky Derby I openly wondered if he had simply run too many races in too little time. He has won over $952,850 in his career and will push over the million dollar mark if he podiums at the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes but there are doubters lingering out there. This is still a “what have you done for me lately sport”.

I wouldn’t count Mohaymen out. The good news is that it’s been almost three months since he last competed and he’s beaten every horse in this race. The bad news is that every horse in this race has also made stark improvements where Mohaymen has vanished to the wayside in order to rest and recover.

Headlining the field will be Destin and Creator, who finished as the top-two horses at the Belmont Stakes. Both have top-end closing speed and Destin is as consistent as they come. Creator has three wins in his back pocket, but he also hasn’t posted back-to-back wins in his entire career.

Joining them will be Laoban, who was last out at the Dwyer where he crumbled to 5th place. He also placed 6th at the Preakness Stakes and has never won a race. I doubt that the Jim Dandy represents that opportunity for him. Also in the mix is Governor Malibu, a 4th place finisher at the Belmont Stakes as a new shooter.

The most intriguing entry out of the six expected competitors is Race Me Home who came 2nd at the Easy Goer and promises to be a threat simply by virtue of his unknown station. He posted a blistering 1:40.68 time in that 1 1/16th mile race.

For me, the horse to watch and wager on is Mohaymen. Outside of him I prefer Destin simply because he has always finished welll. In seven starts he is 3-2-0 with $670,700 in earnings. The third option is either Creator or Race Me Home and that option I’ll leave up to you.

Jim Dandy Stakes – Saturday, July 30th at 6:18pm EST (Saratoga)
1 1/8th miles, 3 year olds, $600,000

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Creator (KY) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 123 Steven M. Asmussen
2 Laoban (KY) Jose L. Ortiz 117 Eric J. Guillot
3 Mohaymen (KY) Junior Alvarado 121 Kiaran P. McLaughlin
4 Destin (KY) Javier Castellano 121 Todd A. Pletcher
5 Governor Malibu (NY) Joel Rosario 117 Christophe Clement
6 Race Me Home (IRE) Luis Saez 117 Dale L. Romans

Preakness Winner Exaggerator Enters Haskell Invitational

Top Field Coming Together with Exaggerator Entry in $1 Million Haskell July 31

A jam-packed schedule of weekend racing has more big news as Preakness winner Exaggerator has joined Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist in the field for Sunday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. Graded stakes winner and third-place Derby finisher Gun Runner is also ready to run in the Haskell.

Exaggerator was being pointed towards Saturday’s Grade II Jim Dandy at Saratoga, but Matt Bryan of Big Chief Racing, which co-owns Exaggerator, said they had a change of heart and decided to target the $1 million Haskell going 1 1/8 miles.

“I do believe that is the way we are going,” Bryan said. “That is the plan that we’re going to the Haskell. We’ve just come to the conclusion that if we’re going to try and be the 3-year-old of the year we have to run against the best. So, we have to run against Nyquist there and hopefully in the Travers.”

Exaggerator ran second to Nyquist in the Derby, then handed Nyquist his only loss in the Preakness. Exaggerator finished 11th in the Belmont Stakes in his most recent start.

Working in Exaggerators favor could be the weather, with a 60 percent chance of rain in the forecast for the Haskell. Two of his biggest wins in the Santa Anita Derby and Preakness Stakes came on an off track.

Along with Exaggerator, Nyquist and Gun Runner, other Haskell entries include Brody’s Cause, Sunny Ridge, American Freedom and Awesome Slew.

Exaggerator has won five of 12 starts and has $2,971,120 in career earnings. He’ll be looking for another big score in a most anticipated Haskell Invitational Sunday.

“Bob Kulina has really wanted us to come over there,” Bryan said of the Monmouth Park president. “We thought it was a good opportunity. It sets up to be a very good race.”

With a scheduled post time of 5:49 p.m. EDT, the Haskell will be telecast live on NBC. The race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win & You’re In” event for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).

Pete Bradley Owned Saratoga This Past Weekend

It was “Pete Bradley Day” on July 23rd at Saratoga Race Course, according to BloodHorse. The owner of Bradley Thoroughbred Services first watched a couple of two-year-olds, Bitumen and Random Walk, take home the top two spots in the $150,000 Sanford Stakes (gr. III). The duo were bought and sold by Bradley and partner Eddie Woods Jr.

Without even getting a chance to take in that special 1-2 victory, Bradley was in the winner’s circle again. This time it was for Dacita, a mare he co-owns with Sheep Pond Partners, who won the Diana Stakes (gr. IT).

“It’s pretty unbelievable,” said Bradley. “When you win a grade I race, what could be any more exciting? But the process of selecting horses, no matter who ends up with them, when you get it right it is just a pretty amazing feeling. That takes the cake. Those days just don’t come along very often.”

Bitumen and Random Walk were both sold at this year’s Ocala Breeders’ Sale in March, with Bitumen going for $280,000 and Random Walk being purchased for $300,000. Dacita is part of a large chain of Bradley-owned racehorses, which includes champion Dayatthespa and Whatsdachances, who won the Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT).

Even though it finished as a fantastic weekend for Bradley, it didn’t start out that way.

“I am not a superstitious guy, but I began to get worried,” said Bradley. “I flew to New York from Del Mar (on Friday) and when I arrived in Albany, I found out they had lost my bags. I get in my rental car and about 10 miles up the road, it breaks down. The rental car broke down! I was stuck on the side of the road for 45 minutes waiting for a new car.

“I was thinking ‘I hope this doesn’t continue. I have a big day tomorrow and I hope this doesn’t flow over.’ The next morning I was told my clothes would be delivered at 3:30 but since I had to be at the track at noon, I drove to Albany and picked them up.”

Bradley and company will be back at Saratoga the weekend of July 29-31.

Dacita Wins Thrilling Finish in Diana Stakes

Dacita Rallies from Last to Win Grade I Diana for Second Straight Victory

In a thrilling race that saw four horses surging to the finish together, Dacita rallied from the back of the pack to take the Diana Stakes by a nose. Trainer Chad Brown saddled both Dacita and near miss third place finisher Rainha Da Bateria, the longest shot on the morning line who went off at 28-1.

“Dacita loves Saratoga and knows where the wire is. They were really rolling along the first quarter and it set the tone for the race, that someone from behind, or at least mid-pack at worst, was going to have the best run. Irad was patient and worked out a great trip, he timed it just right.”

With a $500,000 purse in the Grade I at Saratoga, Dacita finished the 1 1/8 miles on the turf in 1:46.25 and paid $10.20, $5.70 and 4.20 across the board as the 4-1 choice. Recepta was 9-1 and finished second by a nose while 28-1 longshot Rainha Da Bateria was third. Favorite Miss Temple City (5/2) was fourth in a blanket finish. The $2 exacta paid $95.90 and the $2 trifecta was $1,217.

“She’s a nice filly,” said the winning rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. “I got the perfect trip while saving ground. She came from last and come running at the end.”

Dacita defeated the great Tepin in her U.S. debut nearly a year ago at Saratoga in the Ballston Spa Stakes. She then was off her game and was a well-beaten fourth to Tepin in April before flashing her winning ways again last time out at Belmont in the New York Stakes.

Dacita has now won nine of her 15 career starts to boast earnings of nearly $970,000.


Louisiana Yearling Sale Cataloge Sees 19% Increase

The Equine Sales Company consignor select yearling sale that will take place in Opelousas, Louisiana, on September 7th has 224 horses cataloged. That’s a 19 percent increase from last year’s 188 cataloged horses. The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association and Equine Sales Company have teamed up for this year’s sale. It was previously held separate from each other.

“The results of the agreement with the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association are evident in this catalog,” said Equine Sales Company sales director Foster Bridewell. “Not only do we have significantly more yearlings compared to last year, but we have also seen an increase in the quality of consignments. We have nearly 40 different consignors, including some who are making their first appearance at this sale.”

A who’s who of prominent North American sires will be represented in this year’s catalog. A few of the names include: Warrior’s Reward, Quality Road, Paddy O’Prado, Oxbow, Intro Mischief, Gemologist, and Curlin.

Also featured in this year’s catalog is a laundry list of offspring from leading Louisiana sires. The list includes the top five stallions based on progeny earnings for 2015. They are: Closing Argument, D’Wildcat, Songandaprayer, E Dubai, and Half Ours.

Sale graduates will have the ability to nominate to the 2018 Equine Sales Oaks and the Equine Sales Derby, which both offer $75,000 purses at Evangeline Downs.

For those interested in taking a look at the catalog in its entirety online you can do so here.

Coaching Club American Oaks preview

Coaching Club American Oaks Preview

One of the many highlights of this weekend will be Songbird running in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga. The undefeated, three-year old champion will go for her ninth victory against a tiny field of just five total horses. It should be business as usual for one of the most untouchable horses in the 2016 campaign but there is at least one, legitimate threat.

Songbird has been training at Santa Anita for the past few months since dominating the Summertime Oaks in her return from a low grade fever that took her out of the Triple Tiara Races. In her absence, the spotlight was seized by three other winners. Cathryn Sophia seized the Kentucky Oaks, while Go Maggie Go upset the field at the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Carina Mia won the Acorn hosted by Belmont Park, and she will also feature in the Coaching Club American Oaks in a bid to hand Songbird her first loss.

That’s an uphill climb as there is in the sport, but Carina Mia seems up to task. Her connections have long intended to point her towards the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, a race also targeted by those in charge of Songbird. So the Coaching Club American Oaks is a good a time as any to see whether or not its worth gunning for that particular race, or pivoting in another direction.

Weep No More is always a worthy choice in the books despite her up-and-down career. The speedster is clearly capable of immense pace after catching both Rachel’s Valentina, Cathryn Sophia and Carina Mia at the Ashland in what can only be described as a massive upset. She has since only run the Kentucky Oaks, where she fell to a disappointing 7th.

More d’Amour is also a member of the Coaching Club American Oaks field after a 4th place run at the Mother Goose. Flora Dora rounds out the field after finishing 7th at the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and 2nd at a Belmont allowance. She’s probably not worth consideration at the Coaching Club American Oaks in full honesty.

Though this is a five-horse race, it truly seems like Weep No More and Carina Mia are running for second place. While she was battling her fever, Songbird was likely more than happy to let other contenders shine in her place. Now that she’s back at center stage, however, the spotlight is hers.

The 2016 Coaching Club American Oaks runs this Sunday, July 24th out of Saratoga at 6:18pm EST. It is a 1 1/8th mile contest with a sizeable $500,000 purse on the line.

Saratoga Preview Panelists Raise Awareness

NYRA Missing Member for Saratoga Preview Panel Discussion

The annual Saratoga Preview took place July 20 at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. This year’s audience-driven discussion featured insight from four panelists covering Thoroughbred racing. The question and answer session included discussion on night racing, entertainment options to increase attendance, jockey promotion, Thoroughbred aftercare and control of the New York Racing Association. Interesting that no representative of the NYRA was present.

The Saratoga Preview panel included three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Ramon Dominguez, Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion, Starlight Stables founder Jack Wolf, and ST Publishing managing editor Tom Law.

National Museum of Racing HOFDominguez addressed the issue of the current race fan demographic and getting younger fans interested in racing with a focus on the experience at the track and relationships. That included offering a variety of entertainment options to get more people involved in racing with a goal of increasing attendance.

“We could be doing a better job,” the retired jockey said. “The current demographic of people who go to the track is 50 (years old) and up; they’re set in their ways and probably fine with the old model of racing.”

He also said racetracks could do a better job promoting jockeys, whose careers are much longer than those of racehorses.

“You will grow old following these guys, following a human, and being connected to this person,” Dominguez said to a round of applause. “It’s that human connection, which is really second to none.”

In response to a question from the audience about Thoroughbred aftercare, Wolf, who was instrumental in establishing the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, said that while awareness of the issue is broadening, the TAA has been unable to meet its original goal of mandating funding at each level of the industry.

“We raise $3 or $4 million a year, and that just scratches the surface of what’s needed,” Wolf said. “The Jockey Club has been very helpful with seed money, and I would love to see them possibly make it a sizable amount to register a horse. Presently they’re charging $25. If that could be something like $800 or $1,000, that would pretty much take care of the deal.”

Motion pointed out that racing is a “spectacle” at some of the boutique meets like the one opening at Saratoga July 22. The trainer raised concerns for many smaller tracks, and said given a smaller foal crop and the current number of racing days, some tracks will likely need to close in order to preserve the industry.

“Racing isn’t a spectacle on a Tuesday at (Parx Racing),” he said. “There’s too much racing and it’s a real struggle to fill entries. It puts a tremendous strain on horses and horsemen.”

Motion also noted the impact night racing, which has proven successful at several venues, can have on racing staff, but he acknowledged its ability to attract new customers.

“I think there’s a great future for it,” he said. “It’s easier for people to go after work, and it makes racing a social event. But it’s incredibly hard on the staff, who come in at 4:30 in the morning and don’t finish until 8:30 or 9 at night. It’s a tremendous strain on the outriders and the jockeys, too. But it’s definitely a concept that has something to be said for it.

“It worries me. We run very late here (at Saratoga) now. It’s a long day for everyone.”

The 40-day Saratoga meet, which opens July 22 with racing six days a week, continues through Labor Day, Sept. 5.

NYRA president and chief executive officer Christopher Kay addressed the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce July 21 during a breakfast event. He discussed a list of improvements that the special NYRA board were putting in place for the upcoming race season.

Yellow Ribbon Stakes winner She's Not Here

She’s Not Here Takes Yellow Ribbon Stakes

She’s Not Here hadn’t won a stakes race since the 2015 Yellow Ribbon Stakes, so this was an all important challenge for the five-year old mare. After five, frustrating and non-podium starts the daughter of Street Cry finally got back to her winning ways by seizing control of one of her favorite races.

There were many doubts concerning the Victoria Oliver trainee as she closed in at 8/1 odds, standing as an outside shot to win the Yellow Ribbon Stakes this year as a repeat champion. Her Emmynency took the lead as a 5/1 choice, and measured a steady pace round the first bend. She was tracked dutifully by Keri Belle, who also held 8/1 odds. Finest City, who was the favorite heading in and my own personal choice, held in a perfect stalking spot in third as they entered the backstretch.

Prize Exhibit started to show some flare at the backstretch making a very early move that took her in to second place for a moment. That daring pass upped the pace just at the tip of the second turn, and brought them to 1:12.32 at the 3/4 mile point. All hell broke loose down a tight homestretch with She’s Not Here taking a bee line down the middle to repeat as the Yellow Ribbon Stakes victor as Fresh Feline and Nancy From Nairobi stormed from the back to take second and third respectively.

She’s Not Here paid out $20.40, $10.20, and $6.60 across the board. Fresh Feline returned a whopping $19.40 and $6.60 in second, and Nancy From Nairobi brought $3.20 to show.

“I thought  Drayden had her in good position down the backstretch, and when he asked her, she really responded,” trainer Victoria Oliver noted of her two-time Yellow Ribbon winner. “She runs well on that turf course. I don’t know exactly why, Maybe she just likes it because it’s a little more firm than most.”

Perhaps there’s more to come on the fast stuff for She’s Not Here. If there are hefty chunks of $200,000 purses available, it will be a definite consideration for her connections.

Record Purses Offered at Saratoga This Year

The 2016 Saratoga Race Course summer meet that is set to kick off on July 22nd is going to be one for the record books. The 40-day summer meet will feature 69 stakes and be worth a record $18.725 million in purses.

The highlights of the Saratoga Race Course 40-day summer meet are the August 6th $1.25 million Whitney (gr. I) and the August 27th $1.25 million Travers (gr. I). Saratoga

The first day of the meet features two graded stakes in the $150,000 Schuylerville (gr. III) and the $200,000 Lake George (gr. III) for three-year-old fillies. The first post time is scheduled for 1PM EST and gates will open at 11 AM.

Day two will be highlighted by the $150,000 Sanford (gr. III) for juveniles and the $500,000 Diana (gr. I) for mares and turf fillies. The first weekend will be capped off by the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), which draws champion Songbird.

“We are very fortunate to have Songbird running on opening weekend,” said New York Racing Association Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin Panza. “The following weekend is the (grade II, $600,000) Jim Dandy, in which we are likely to see the Belmont (gr. I) winner, Creator, and the Preakness (gr. I) winner, Exaggerator. Looking beyond that, nearly every weekend there will be a champion or a star running, and that’s what Saratoga is all about.”

Once the July 22nd to July 25th opening weekend has concluded, the schedule will follow a Wednesday to Monday routine until it closes on Labor Day, September 5th.