Stonetastic Takes Pumpkin Pie Stakes

Heavy Favorite Stonetastic Wires the Field in the Pumpkin Pie at Belmont

Stonetastic went wire-to-wire Sunday to win the $100,000 Pumpkin Pie Stakes at Belmont. The heavy 1-2 favorite showed the way in the six furlong sprint with fast fractions of 22.04 and 45.03 for the half mile, and then edge away and added to the margin to finish in a hand ride in 109.51.

Ridden by jockey Paco Lopez, the gorgeous gray 5-year-old mare by Mizzen Mast won for the eighth time and picked up $60,000 to increase her earnings to $876,062 in 21 starts. Stonetastic paid $3.10 to win and finished nearly 3-lengths in front of Saharan, who was second by a neck over Disco Chick.

Stonetastic, a multiple Grade 2 winner owned by Stoneway Farm, has finished first of second in seven of her last eight races. She is due to be bred next year.

“Now it’s a matter of trying to figure out if we race her one more time or not,” trainer Kelly Breen said. “We wanted her to go out a winner and now we’ll talk it over and see what we want to do.”

If Stonetastic races again, it could be in either the $125,000 Garland of Roses at Aqueduct on Dec. 10 or the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 17, according to Breen.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Breen said. “It’s getting to the end of a career of a really nice, talented filly. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Belmont’s 38-day Fall Meet concluded Sunday. The Pumpkin Pie Stakes and $100,000 Chelsey Flower for 2-year-old fillies on the turf were the final two stakes races of the meet. British-bred Create a Dream was the favorite in the Chelsey Flower and picked up her first North American stakes win in her second stateside start for trainer Chad Brown.

Songbird Work Moved Up

With rain in the forecast in California a number of training runs for Breeders’ Cup participants were moved up, including the one for undefeated champion Songbird. The two-year old filly recorded a final five-furlong breeze for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) on the morning of October 27 at Santa Anita Park in a time of 1:01. songbird-1

“She’s training up to the race well and that should be her final work,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who watched the workout from the Santa Anita grandstand. “It was a nice, easy work and she galloped out nicely, too.”

The plan now is for Songbird to walk on October 28 and follow that up with a jog the following day. She will then gallop into the race on November 4. “I couldn’t ask for her to be training any better than she is right now,” said the Hall of Fame trainer.

Songbird wasn’t the only notable name that worked out on October 27. Also in attendance during the 6:30 AM PST training session were Melatonin, who was preparing for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Lady Shipman, who was training for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, and Land Over Sea, who was training for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Melatonin was recorded running five furlongs in a time of :59 2/5, Lady Shipman ran a half-mile in a time of :48 3/5, and Land Over Sea finished a seven-furlong run in a time of 1:28 3/5.

Cinco Charlie Retired

Graded stakes winner Cinco Charlie has retired from racing. He will now enter stud life at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky. cinco_charlie

“Cinco Charlie is a fast, precocious, and great-looking son of Indian Charlie,” said Spendthrift General Manager Ned Toffey. “We’ve seen the success of Uncle Mo, and we are very high on Liaison and the offspring we’re seeing from him. It’s a sire line with a lot of upside, and Cinco Charlie has won more stakes races than any Indian Charlie at stud.”

Cinco Charlie’s stud fee has been announced at $5,000 for the 2017 season and he is being offered through the Share The Upside program at Spendthrift Farm.

Owners Bill and Corrine Heiligbrodt campaigned Cinco Charlie and he was trained by Steve Asmussen. He was a leading two-year-old, winning his debut race at Churchill Downs. Winning came natural to Cinco Charlie as he won his second race, the Manor Stakes (gr. III). As a juvenile, he won four stakes races; each one at a different racetrack.

The winning didn’t stop for Cinco Charlie once his age-two racing season was over. At the age of three, he won two races (Riley Allison Stakes and the William Walker Stakes) and finished second in a third (Woody Stephens Stakes). This year was his age-four racing season, and he was a winner yet again, taking down the Duncan Kenner Stakes. In 18 starts, Charlie Cinco won eight times and will retire having earned over $600,000.

Royal Posse Slops Through to Win Empire Classic at Belmont

Royal Posse Wins Biggest Race on Empire Showcase Day  

Saturday was a big day at Belmont, which featured eight New York-bred stakes races. Heavy rains caused a number of scratches, but 53 horses still ran in those eight races and Royal Posse won the richest race; the $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap.

Royal Posse wins Empire Classic
Royal Posse wins Empire Classic

Rain fell throughout the day creating a sloppy track. Following the second race, the jockeys met with management to voice concerns about the condition of the track. But the track maintenance crew went over the surface before the Iroquois Stakes. The jockeys rode that race and then agreed to ride the remainder of the card.

Royal Posse was the day’s biggest winner, hitting his stride in the slop down the stretch to win by 3 ½ lengths. Off at 3-1 odds, he paid $7.90 to win with race favorite Governor Malibu closing hard to finish second. Royal Posse has now finished first or second in 13 straight races since being claimed by trainer Rudy Rodguez for owner Michael Dubb. He’s won seven of those starts and picked up $180,000 for winning the Empire Classic.

He’s a very, very game horse,” Rodriguez said. “When I see him close to the pace I was like ‘wow.’ He wants to run all day. You got to give a lot of credit to Irad, because he didn’t take him back.”

Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. teamed with Rodriguez to win the $250,000 Maid Of The Mist for 2-year-old fillies with Bonita Springs, the 6-5 favorite. She won by 5 1/4 lengths.

The program, billed as Empire Showcase Day, saw New York-breds take center stage with the following additional results.

Bar of Gold was the dominant winner of the day, taking the $250,000 Empire Distaff by 18 lengths as the 4/5 favorite. She paid $3.70 to win, improving to 5 for 5 against New York breds, all on wet tracks.

  • Pat On the Back pulled a 20-1 upset in the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow 2-year-olds, returning $43.20 to win.
  • Brother O’Connell edged Tapitation by a neck in the $200,000 Mohawk. He paid $11.20 to win.
  • Old Harbor, sixth in the race last year, rebounded to take the $200,000 Ticonderoga for fillies and mares. She paid $7.80 to win.
  • Quezon, the 1/5 favorite, took the $150,000 Iroquois for filly and mare sprinters by 5 1/4 lengths, paying $2.50 to win.
  • Breakin the Fever beat 2/5 choice Weekend Hideaway by a half-length in the $150,000 Hudson for sprinters, paying $8.30 to win.


FTBOA Names New BOD and President

The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (FTBOA) named three new members to its board of directors: Valerie Dailey, Brent Fernung, and Phil Matthews. They also announced the return of two other board members: George Isaacs and Milan Kosanovich. The moves were made at their annual meeting, which was held on October 20. Each member will serve three-year terms that will run through 2019. screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-38-25-am

Due to by-law term limits, the following board members left: Charlotte Weber, Roy Lerman, and Jessica Steinbrenner. Following the annual board meeting, Fernung was named the association’s new President. He was grateful to return and had the following to say about his new role and his fellow board members:

“I am very happy to return to the board and very honored to be elected president. We are also proud to welcome to the board Ms. Dailey and welcome back Dr. Matthews. I’d also like to congratulate Mr. Isaacs and Mr. Kosanovich on their re-elections.

“While the FTBOA has had many significant accomplishments in recent years, such as increasing breeder and stallion awards to all-time high levels, and has seen record handle on the Florida Sire Stakes, we will be looking for the leadership skills, forethought and other assets from all board members in order to meet the challenges that face our Florida Thoroughbred industry, in particular decoupling.”

The 2016 FTBOA Executive Committee will comprise of the following:

  • President – Brent Fernung
  • First Vice-President – Phil Matthews
  • Second Vice-President – George Russell
  • Treasurer – Joseph M. O’Farrell III
  • Secretary – Greg Wheeler
  • Immediate Past President – Fred Brei
Mandella Beholder

Mandella’s Beholder Brilliant In Breeze

The 2016 season has been a tough one for Beholder and her trainer Richard Mandella. Everything started off perfectly as she crushed the fields at the Vanity Stakes and the Adoration. But then something happened to the champion mare that’s never happened before – she lost three consecutive races.

Beholder surrendered victories to Stellar Wind at the Clement Hirsch and the Zenyatta, but also lost decisively to California Chrome at the Pacific in between. It’s an unprecedented mark in her incredible career, but Mandella seems unfazed by her recent results. Posting some ridiculous times at Santa Anita ahead of the Breeders’ Cup helps quell any concerns.

Overseeing the action at Santa Anita this week, Mandella witnessed his star trainee hit fractions of :11 1/5, :22 2/5, :34 1/5, and :46 3/5, with the final time for five-furlongs being :59 1/5. That’s business as usual for Beholder, who almost always trains at an intensely fast pace. “Couldn’t look better. Period,” Mandella said. “This was the serious one. The next one will be a little easier.”

Jockey Gary Stevens was in town for the work and couldn’t have been happier. “She’s really happy and in a good spot mentally. We were rolling. Those were some pretty serious fractions, and she picked up just coming into the straight and I snugged her up. Mandella was looking for a minute and we went a bit better than a minute, so that was plenty for today.”

At the beginning of the season, Beholder was pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but her connections have no redirected her to the Distaff where she’ll face Stellar Wind for a fourth time. It will also mark the first meeting between her and Songbird, the undefeated three-year old filly who has been setting tracks on fire all summer. The Distaff is unquestionably one of the most anticipated events at the world champions in a few weeks time, and Mandella will have Beholder ready to repeat at an event she won back in 2013.

RaceTech Sale to Stronach Group Complete

RaceTech was the original racing company and became the first to offer Instant Racing Games at Oaklawn Park back in 2000. The Stronach Group made a deal to purchase 100 percent of RaceTech from owners the Cella family. The Stronach Group have now added the RaceTech holdings to their own historical racing outlet, PariMax, and have combined the two to form PariMax Holdings. machines

Historical racing games are like slot machines, but with pari-mutuel formula payouts calculated by previous run horse races. The Cella family founded RaceTech, which offered historical racing games, and AmTote International (a Stronach Group-owned tote company) aided in the development of the games and eventually took on the role of technology services provider.

AmTote International President Steve Keech said the purchase of RaceTech shows how committed The Stronach Group is to horse racing and that historical racing games provide additional content monetization opportunities.

“These opportunities continue to deliver additional income, which is reinvigorating racing operations where it has been deployed,” said Keech.

Oaklawn Park Vice-President Louis Cella said the creation and implementation of historical racing games helped turn the track around.

“It was a great run. When we launched Instant Racing, our goal was to save racing at Oaklawn Park and it did that,” said Cella. “We positioned ourselves that once we had a strong underpinning at Oaklawn to see if it could benefit tracks outside of Arkansas, and it did. It’s done a great job.”

Cella also espoused on how successful historical racing games continue to be.

“It’s doing exactly what it was designed to do: to bring pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing in an electronic format to help attract new fans,” said Cella. “You have to believe in the sport. That’s why it probably would not have worked at many other tracks besides Oaklawn. Our fans love the sport—we’ll have 10,000 people show up on a random Thursday. Our patron base is racing fans. They got it, they appreciated it, and it really took off.

“All of a sudden horsemen started coming to Oaklawn and saying, ‘Why are your purses going up when you don’t have slots?’ And on the other hand, they’d talk about going to tracks that did have slots but nobody was at the racetrack. The formula worked, it really worked.”

Arella Rockstar Upsets in Matron

Arella Rockstar Rewards Bettors and Owner in Winning Matron at Belmont

Arella Rockstar turned more heads and gained a stronger following with Sunday’s $200,000 Matron (G3) win at Belmont Park. The juvenile filly also rewarded her long shot betting backers and owner in her second win in two starts.

Arella Rockstar pressed the pace early and hit the front in the lane and battled to the wire with the favorite, Cherry Lodge, before prevailing by 3/4 length. Spirituality was up for third. Arella Rockstar, a daughter of Astrology, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.68 with Luis Saez up and returned $27.20 to win at 12-1 odds in the field of five.

“That filly ran so big,” Saez said. “When I got on, I was thinking, ‘Man, she’s all right.’ When she broke from the gate, she was running. She never gave up.”

Owner Bob Edwards and trainer Rudy Rodriguez purchased the 2-year-old filly Arella Rockstar for $50,000 out of the 10th race at Saratoga Aug. 31. She won that day, and her stakes victory Sunday was part of four wins for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, who leads Chad Brown in the trainer standings 22-19 with two weeks remaining in the Belmont fall meet.

“I think she has a lot of guts. She’s a fighter,” said Rodriguez. “It looked like Cherry Lodge had her beat, but she had another gear. She looked good.” He continued, “We just wanted to take a chance and find a race for this filly,” said Rodriguez. “Once she broke her maiden, I didn’t want to ship her out of town I wanted to keep her home.”

Edwards is in his first year owning Thoroughbreds, and calls his recent run “beginners luck.” He races under the name e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, and two weeks ago won the Grade 3 Miss Grillo with New Money Honey, who is headed to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. “It’s a total team effort,” he said in crediting his trainers, blood stock agent and entire racing team.

Bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall, out of the Old Fashioned mare Story Untold, Arella Rockstar has $150,000 in earnings from her two victories.

2016 Pebbles Stakes

Thundering Sky Upsets 2016 Pebbles

The 2016 Pebbles Stakes ran out of Belmont Park this past weekend, and was meant to be nothing more than a return-to-form for Ancient Secret, who opened as the 3/1 favorite. Instead it was a wild race highlighted by curious decisions that led to two longshots finishing first and second. The outright favorite, Mo d’Amour finished last despite posting at 8/5.

Believe in Bertie took a somewhat commanding lead, stretching well out ahead of her rivals to set an early fraction of :22.45 at the quarter mile. Ancient Secret ran in fourth, holding a strong position behind Ultra Brat and Louisville First, who was an intriguing 38/1 longshot. As strange and unexpected as it seemed, Thundering Sky seemed to feed off of Ancient Secret’s pace staying with her competition the entire way.

Holding the lead in to the homestretch, Believe in Bertie continued at the half-mile with a time of :45.30 before hitting the pole at 1:08.91. She would battle to hold on to fourth, but gave way to the top-three at the 2016 Pebbles Stakes.

Thundering Sky made the move halfway down the homestretch, and Ancient Secret had no answer. Flying down the outside from way back was Mom’s On Strike, a 20/1 longshot who came out of nowhere to steal second. It was a shocking finish to a 2016 Pebbles Stakes that was supposed to at least resemble the board the oddsmakers had selected.

“I had a really good trip,” winning jockey Antonio Gallardo said. “I knew this filly was doing good. The trainer told me that she was doing really good, and after watching a replay of her last race, I knew she would run at the end and I could relax her a little bit. She gave me everything at the end, and she kicked on really good. The race set up perfectly for me.”

The 2016 Pebbles Stakes was the first win for Thundering Sky in his racing career. He had previously finished 3rd at the Ontario Colleen and 5th at the Lake George. So when I say that this was an upset, I mean it in every sense of the word. At 15/1, the three-year old filly delivered a whopping $33.80 with the victory. She herself has now earned just over $250K in career earnings.

Stellar Wind Returns to Track

Stellar Wind is in good hands with trainer John Sadler, who had a specific plan for the Curlin filly’s 2016 campaign, and so far it’s been going exactly as mapped out. Now they face one of the bigger challenges of the year in the form of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I), where she will go up against fellow champions Songbird and Beholder. stellar_wind

In order to prepare for the Distaff, Sadler wanted to get in three workouts. The first one took place early today, where Stellar Wind ran a half-mile at Santa Anita Park in a time of :48 2/5. “It was a nice, easy half,” said Sadler. “Right on her routine. She’s obviously right where she’s supposed to be.”

The end goal was always a spot in the Distaff and Stellar Wind’s four-year-old campaign has gone off without a hitch to this point. It started with a second-place finish in the Vanity Mile (gr. I) and then won two straight races in the Clement L. Hirsch (gr. I) and Zenyetta (gr. I). She lost to Beholder in the first race, but left Beholder in second in both her wins.

“What’s nice is we haven’t had any glitches. Everything is right on plan,” said Sadler. “She hasn’t missed any days, she’s eating great—everything is just super.

“It’s gone exactly like we wanted—unless we could have beat (Beholder) three times,” said a chuckling Sadler. “Everything has gone like we hoped and we’re going into the race with a fresh horse… I always thought she could be better at 4 and she’s proven me right.”

While the current plan is to let Stellar Wind race in her age-five campaign, she does have a reserved spot in the Keeneland November sale, which Sadler labels “flight insurance.”