WinStar Adds Two Stallions to Stable

Stallions Speightster and Outwork will be joining WinStar Farm now that they’re both retired. Uncle Mo son Outwork is coming off a win in the April 9 Wood Memorial (gr. I), while Speightster has a win in the 2015 Dwyer Stakes on his resume. winstarfarm

“Outwork and Speightster are as close to Uncle Mo and Speightstown as you will find when you look at the combination of their overall quality, physical traits, and racing traits in relation to their sires,” said WinStar President/Chief Executive Officer Elliott Walden. “Speightstown is emerging as a sire of sires, and Speightster is closely related to Smart Strike and bred just like him. Most would expect Uncle Mo to have successful sons at stud, and Outwork looks like a carbon copy. So these are two very exciting new stallion prospects that will have the full support of some of the top breeders in the world, including WinStar and our partners Mike Repole and Woodford Thoroughbreds on Outwork. Both horses also figure to be priced in the market to be accessible for a wide range of breeders.”

Outwork is now the first Uncle Mo sire to retire to stud as a grade I winner.

“Outwork has always reminded me so much of Uncle Mo,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “Both are big colts with similar qualities, including their uncanny speed and precociousness for their size. Both were always very forward in the mornings and among the best work horses in the barn, and obviously they both went on to do great things stretching out their speed to win major grade I races.”

Santa Anita Saturday Preview 10/1

Star Studded Saturday at Santa Anita

Santa Anita Park will host an incredible card this coming Saturday. It’s highlighted by the Awesome Again Stakes and the Zenyatta Stakes, which feature four of the most talented horses in the sport. Both events offer places in the Breeders’ Cup events as part of the challenge series prep race circuit. Heading to Santa Anita for their final warm-ups prior to the world championships are California Chrome, Dortmund, Stellar Wind and Beholder making this a must-see weekend at the California based track.

CALIFORNIA CHROME VS. DORTMUND YET AGAIN
The main event of Santa Anita’s busy Saturday is undoubtedly the Awesome Again Stakes. The field of seven boasts three absolute studs in the form of California Chrome, Dortmund and Hoppertunity who are the no-brainer choices to finish in the top-three. But the draw has yielded some unexpected drama.

California Chrome will rifle out of the inside rail in hopes of getting past Dortmund, who will start right next to him in the second post. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but the 1 1/8 mile distance offers little room for error. Dortmund is also an imposing figure who could attempt to box California Chrome in or discourage him with some physical contact. The intensity out of the gates at Santa Anita this weekend will be sky high.

Trainer Art Sherman remained confident in his incredible horse. “I think I’ve got the best horse in the country,” Sherman said. “I might be a little prejudiced about it, but, you know, he’s done about everything a horse could do. We’ve travelled all over the country, abroad, and we’ve never ducked anybody, and it’s been a hard journey. He really can’t prove anything more to me. I think right now you’re going to wind up seeing him the rest of the year at his peak.”

California Chrome has beaten Dortmund in back-to-back efforts at the Pacific Classic and the San Diego Handicap. The oddsmakers are suggesting that it will be three consecutive victories. I’m sure that Baffert and Dortmund are expecting a different result this time.

Both are pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita towards the end of the season.

2016 Awesome Again Stakes – Saturday, October 1st at Santa Anita (6:30pm EST)
1 1/8 Miles — 3+ Year Olds — $300,000

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 California Chrome (CA) Victor Espinoza 125 Art Sherman
2 Dortmund (KY) Rafael Bejarano 121 Bob Baffert
3 Hoppertunity (KY) Flavien Prat 121 Bob Baffert
4 Win the Space (KY) Gary L. Stevens 121 George Papaprodromou
5 Soi Phet (CA) Kent J. Desormeaux 121 Leonard Powell
6 El Huerfano (CA) Martin A. Pedroza 121 Peter Miller
7 Hard Aces (KY) Santiago Gonzalez 121 John W. Sadler

BEHOLDER VS. STELLAR WIND AT ZENYATTA STAKES
One of the final races of the big card at Santa Anita will see Beholder trying to fend off Stellar wind in the Zenyatta Stakes. The two have faced off before, with the latter beating the former at the Clement Hirsch in an upset. However, Stellar Wind’s trainer was adamant that that victory was no fluke and is beyond excited to see what his emerging four-year old filly has to offer in the rematch.

“It looks like it’s going to be another epic race,” John Sadler quipped. “Stellar Wind has trained really well and hasn’t missed a day or an oat, or anything since her last race, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Beholder lost back-to-back races for the first time in her career over the summer. She also lost to California Chrome at the Pacific Classic. A return to the female-only side of racing might be the confidence booster she needs, but she needs to vanquish her rival to prove she has the competitive spirit to go for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in just over a month’s time.

Stellar Wind will be opting for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at the world championships. This will be the final tune-up for both stars.

The main dark horse in the group is Tara’s Tango, who has gone 3-0-1 this season in four starts.

2016 Zenyatta Stakes – Saturday, October 1st at Santa Anita Park (7:30pm EST)
1 1/16th Miles — 3+ Year Old Fillies & Mares — $300,000

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Off the Road (BRZ) Tiago Josue Pereira 121 Richard E. Mandella
2 Beholder (KY) Gary L. Stevens 125 Richard E. Mandella
3 Vale Dori (ARG) Rafael Bejarano 121 Bob Baffert
4 Tara’s Tango (KY) Martin Garcia 123 Jerry Hollendorfer
5 Stellar Wind (VA) Victor Espinoza 125 John W. Sadler

Deeply Undervalued is Best in Commonwealth Derby

Deeply Undervalued and Commonwealth Derby Day Payoff at Laurel Park

Saturday’s Commonwealth Day at was a big success at Laurel Park. And the featured race saw Deeply Undervalued take the outside path down the lane and rally from eight lengths back to win the $200,000 Commonwealth Derby (G2) by a length. Isoterm was second in blanket finish, a head in front of He’ll Pay, who was a nose better than the 7/5 favorite, American Patriot in fourth. Revved, the co-second choice finished fifth.

Deeply Undervalued, off at 6-1, is a Kitten’s Joy colt. She ran 9 furlongs on the firm turf in 1:46.63 for jockey Manny Franco. Making improvement through six starts, Deeply Undervalued made a big jump in class for Saturday’s Derby and delivered a top effort.

“It was a nice win,” said winning trainer Chad Brown. “I’m really proud of Manny and the way he rode this horse. We’ve been really high on this horse and it’s nice to win this following up his summer campaign. He got a great trip and a patient ride.”

Deeply Undervalued settled into eighth place, behind fractions of :23.58, :47.69, and 1:11.94 through six furlongs set by Franklin Towers. After a three-wide move in the final turn, however, the colt found room on the outside and surged by the frontrunners.

“I just let him be comfortable after he stumbled a little bit,” Manuel said of the trip. “I tried to be covered up, but when it was time to move, I took him to the outside and he made a big run.”

The winner paid $15.40, $7.60, and $4.80 across the board. Isotherm brought $5 and $4.20, and He’ll Pay delivered $8 to show.

Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Deeply Undervalued now has a 2-3-0 record from six starts with $213,132 in earnings.

Earlier in the card, Stuart Janney’s homebred My Impression put together one of the more impressive performances of the day with a 3 1/4-length victory in the $150,000 Commonwealth Oaks (G3).

Late-blooming 5-year-old Blacktype (FR) won his third race in a row and second straight graded stakes when he turned in a record-setting performance to beat longshot Top of Mine and favored Force the Pass by a half-length Saturday at Laurel Park in the Grade 2, $200,000 Commonwealth Turf Cup. Blacktype (7/2) rallied along the rail in the 1 mile race and hit the wire in 1:33.43 to break the 10-year old record by nearly one full second.

Following Pennsylvania Derby Win, Connect Has Eyes on Breeders’ Cup

Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) winner Connect came out of his upset winning race over Gun Runner fine and his trainer Chad Brown is of the mindset that the Breeders’ Cup is under consideration for his next race. Brown was thrilled with Connect’s win, which he watched from Belmont Park.

He should be thrilled, and impressed, as Connect, who is the son of Curlin, beat out a tough field that included Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Preakness Stakes champion Exaggerator.

“He has only run one bad race (the Travers) and he came out of it with a lung infection,” said Brown. “(Owner Paul Pompa Jr.) felt it was a legitimate excuse and he pushed to run in the Pennsylvania Derby. I’m glad he did.”

It was Connect’s first graded stakes win. He had won his first three races of 2016, one of which was the July 29 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. In his last graded stakes event, the Travers Stakes (gr. I) on August 27, Connect finished sixth.

“We always thought a lot of Connect,” said Brown. “He’s a horse that took a while to come around. He had a couple of minor injuries along the way and he finally showed yesterday what we thought all along about him—that he could be a top 3-year-old dirt horse.

“We’re very excited about him. So far he looks OK and we’ll form a plan in the days to come. The Breeders’ Cup will be considered, but there are other races as well and other routes we can take with him. He’s definitely an exciting horse for the future.”

2016 Pennsylvania Derby results

Big Stars Fade At Pennsylvania Derby

The main attractions for the 2016 Pennsylvania Derby were set in stone. This was the eighth clash between Nyquist and Exaggerator, and a chance for both to put recent doubts to rest. Unfortunately, neither were up to the task with a $1.25 million bounty on the line at Parx Racing over the weekend.

Connect was the big winner at the Pennsylvania Derby, paying out  $23.20, $9.80, and $7.20 across the board as a longshot. Gun Runner delivered $5.40 and $4.00 in second. Wild About Deb slipped in as the third place horse with 61/1 odds delivering $21.20 to show.

Nyquist fell to 6th, while Exaggerator was 7th after opening the race in second last. It was a disappointing turn of events for the pair to say the least, especially after Doug O’Neill had touted a change in gameplan for the front-running Nyquist. The altered strategy didn’t pan out as he seemed out of sorts down the home stretch and frustrated that he wasn’t in a better position to win. I don’t know if he even had it in him to be honest.

Paul Reddam was a little despondent following the Pennsylvania Derby results. Nyquist is undoubtedly poised for strong career, but his later showings have not gone according to plan in the slightest. Hopes of him competing at the Breeders’ Cup are legitimately fading. “The winner ran well and we didn’t have any apparent excuse,” Reddam said of Nyquist. “We’ll have to check the horse over and make sure that he’s well and we’ll work from there. That was definitely the worst performance of his life, so that’s not how you want to go into the Breeders’ Cup. Maybe it’ll somehow look different tomorrow, but I’m not sure how.”

The same is likely expected of Exaggerator. The two have now gone from having the biggest rivalry in the sport, to having one of the least interesting. How they both regroup and resolve their recent issues is pivotal to their futures, but it’s impossible to stay uplifted about their chances for the balance of the 2016 campaign after such sour showings in the Pennsylvania Derby.

Commonwealth Day is Class on the Grass Stakes Style

Commonwealth Day Features Eight Turf Stakes Races at Laurel Park

Saturday is Commonwealth Day at Laurel Park.  As in the Commonwealth of Virginia Day. With an 11-race card focused on Virginia-breds, including 8 on the turf, this day of racing will put a smile a furlong wide on many fans faces.

Since Virginia’s only Thoroughbred track Colonial Downs just off of I-64 between Richmond and Williamsburg shutdown 2 years ago, the Maryland Jockey Club has been hosting racing days a couple times a year featuring Virginia-bred and sired horses.

The $200,000 Commonwealth Derby and $200,000 Commonwealth Turf Cup highlight the big day of racing at Laurel, but the five Virginia-bred/sired stakes races make it a special day of racing at Laurel.

Race 3 – Punch Line Stakes. 5 ½ furlongs for state-bred 3-year olds and up. Purse $60,000

Race 4 – Brookmeade Stakes. 1 1/16 miles state-bred fillies and mares 3-yr old and up. Purse $60,000

Race 5 – Commonwealth Oaks (G3). 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-old fillies. Purse $150,000

Race 6 – Commonwealth Turf Cup (G2). 1 mile for 3-year-olds and up. Purse $200,000

Race 7 – Commonwealth Derby (G2). 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds. Purse $200,000

Race 8 – Jamestown Stakes. 5 ½ furlongs for state-bred 2-year-olds. Purse $60,000

Race 9 – Oakley Stakes. 5 ½ furlongs for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up. Purse $60,000

Race 10 – Bert Allen Stakes. 1 1/16 for miles state-bred 3-year-olds and up. Purse $60,000

Turf Mile

Twelve signed on for Saturday’s $200,000 Grade II Commonwealth Turf Cup going a mile on the lawn. French-bred Blacktype (4-1) has won two straight, including the Grade III Oceanport at Monmouth. He and Grade I winner Force the Pass (3-1) look sharpest in a rather inconsistent bunch but the latter drew the outside gate for this with a good deal of speed to his inside.

Turf

The $200,000 Grade II Commonwealth Derby attracted a quality field of 10 runners to tackle 9 furlongs. Isotherm (7-2) is a graded stakes winner who will break from the far outside. Another graded stakes winner American Patriot (5-2) is the Todd Pletcher-trained favorite. Several others have just missed at that level. Revved Up (5-1) looks to be on the upswing.

Post time for Commonwealth Day racing at Laurel Park is 1:10 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 24.

KEEP Hosts Equine Industry Conference

The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) is hosting an industry event that will feature in-state horse industry influencers and policy makers with an emphasis on figuring out ways to promote the industry. The event will take place on October 17th and 18th and will be held in the Embassy Suites on Newton Pike in Lexington. keep

“KEEP is proud to bring leaders from across the state together to discuss the challenges we face as an industry and how best to build on recent success,” said KEEP Executive Director Joe Clabes.

Partner organization meetings and a welcome reception make up the first day of the conference. On Day 2, panel discussions regarding the current equine economy conditions and ways to improve it will be the focus of the day. Legislative and regulatory discussions, economic data review presentations, and policy expert discussions are a few of the highlights of Day 2.

“The 1996 and 2005 Economic Impact Studies gave incredible insight to an industry that operates in every corner of the country, and contributes greatly to the American culture and economy. We are looking forward to seeing how the 2017 study will be able to further illustrate the importance of our diverse industry,” said American Horse Council President Julie Broadway. “With a new Congress coming into Washington in November, it’s more important than ever that the AHC continue to play a critical role in the long-term success of the industry, and ensure a favorable legislative environment for the industry to come.”

Songbird Cotillion odds 2016

Trainer Speaks On Songbird’s Cotillion Odds

This hasn’t been an easy year for Songbird. The top choice in the Cotillion odds for this weekend’s challenge at Parx Racing is facing a 1/2 mark which is sure to inflate even farther away by the time the gates crack open on Saturday. But trainer Jerry Hollendorfer knows what everyone else does – Songbird deserves the recognition.

Beginning the year as the three-year old filly to beat, Songbird got off to an incredible start and was the hopeful anchor for the Triple Tiara. An untimely fever, however, knocked her out of contention for the entire spring. “It was great to see her come back from that,” Hollendorfer said of the Cotillion odds favorite, who came back in the summer to win the Summertime Oaks in June. “Once she continued to have the fever for a few days, myself and Mr. Porter realized we were probably going to miss the Kentucky Oaks.”

Rick Porter is the president of Fox Hill Farms, the group that owns Songbird, and he’s been involved in the direction of his prized filly. “He just told me to take my time and get her over it; get her 100%,” the trainer continued. “We had some of the best vets looking over her and making decisions. So we gave her all the time she needed to come back 100% and it seems like we made the right decisions because she came back and ran very well.”

Songbird’s fiercest competition this weekend is Cathryn Sophia, another champion who is 6-0-2 in eight starts and has never faced her before. Hollendorfer continues to be confident despite Cathryn Sophia receiving 5/2 Cotillion odds this weekend because of the preparation his own contender has been experiencing. “She’s been ultra-consistent through the entire time I’ve been training her, which started well before her first start,” Hollendorfer said. “She was well thought of from when she was sent to me and has never done anything to make us think otherwise.”

To call Songbird a special horse is an understatement. She’s captivating. Mesmerizing. A must-see event every time she starts. “These kind of horses are few and far between. We’re very glad to have her. Right now we’re real happy with Songbird and hopefully we can continue winning with her.”

The Cotillion odds are listed below. The race is scheduled for a 4:55 post time at Parx Racing.

Cotillion Stakes – Saturday, September 24th at Parx (4:55pm EST)
1 1/16th Miles — 3 Year Old Fillies — $1,000,000

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Carina Mia (KY) Julien R. Leparoux 124 William I. Mott 5/1
2 Cathryn Sophia (MD) Javier Castellano 124 John C. Servis 5/2
3 Disco Rose (PA) Edwin Rivera 117 Robert E. Reid, Jr. 20/1
4 Land Over Sea (KY) Mario Gutierrez 122 Doug F. O’Neill 10/1
5 Songbird (KY) Mike E. Smith 124 Jerry Hollendorfer 1/2
6 Queena Esther (FL) Carol Cedeno 117 Juan C. Vazquez 30/1

Lady Aurelia Has Confidence of Trainer

Unbeaten filly Lady Aurelia is gearing up to defend her win streak in the upcoming Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes (Eng-I) on September 24. Her trainer Wesley Ward believes it will be the race of her career.

Lady Aurelia is a perfect three-for-three in her young career, winning the Queen Mary Stakes (Eng-II) by seven lengths, a race at Keeneland, and the Prix Morny (Fr-I). A September 17 workout led to Ward’s confidence. lady-aurelia

“Lady Aurelia worked great on the Rowley Mile (Saturday) and is ready to run her best ever race,” said Ward. “I have a lot to thank my ‘assistant trainer’ Frankie Dettori for! He’s the only person to have ridden her since she came over from France after the Prix Morny, and I’m really excited to have such interaction race-to-race from the world’s greatest jockey.

“When I wake up every morning there’s a video bulletin from Frankie waiting for me, telling me how things are going—it’s as if I was there. And he’s been telling me that we are really going to see something from her this time.

“Lady Aurelia was at a disadvantage at Ascot and in the Morny as she was taking on the home team. Now, mainly thanks to Brian O’Rourke who has graciously allowed her to lodge at The National Stud, I feel that we are more of the home team than they are.

“I gave her a month off after Ascot; before the Morny she just had four easy breezes, so in hindsight maybe she was not as cranked up for that as she might have been. And, when you study the Deauville video, you can see that she steps in a hole at the furlong marker—there’s a cloud of dust around all four of her feet.”

It’s expected the Chevely Park Stakes will be a ten-horse field, with the toughest competition for Lady Aurelia coming in the form of Lowther Stakes (Eng-II) winner Queen Kindly.

Ironicus Training Well for Return

 Ironicus Set for Return in Shadwell Turf Mile October 8

With six wins and five runner-up finishes in 13 starts, Ironicus will be a strong choice in the Shadwell Turf Mile October 8 at Keeneland. Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Ironicus worked at Belmont for a second consecutive week and breezed a half mile in 48.88 seconds Sunday. Ironicus continued to train on the dirt despite racing exclusively on grass since his first career start in 2013.

“He was excellent,” McGaughey said. “As of right now, he seems to be doing everything the right way.”

Ironicus started her stakes career in style, winning the Grade II Dixie Stakes at Pimlico last year in May. He followed that with an allowance score before running second in the Fourstardave Handicap (G2) at Saratoga last August and then winning the Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) in September.

A return to racing was a winning one in this year’s Fort Marcy Stakes (G3) at Belmont May 7. Ironicus then showed well with a runner-up finish in the Grade I Manhattan Stakes at Belmont, finishing behind top turf runner Flintshire.

Ironicus has been rested since that race to recover from a popped splint.  He began his preparations for a return to racing before Labor Day.

“I thought it went very well and he came back good,” said McGaughey of Ironicus’ work September 4.

Ironicus was not quite ready to return to racing to defend his title in this year’s Bernard Baruch Handicap September 5, but he’ll be fit and ready for next month’s big Grade I race at keeneland.

Ironicus will be going in search of his first Grade 1 in the Shadwell Turf Mile, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita.