Ben’s Cat Prepping for Maryland Million Sprint

Ben’s Cat to Work Saturday for Maryland Million Sprint

Ben’s Cat, who has won a remarkable 32 times in 59 career starts, will breeze a final time this weekend in preparation for the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint on Saturday, October 22. at Laurel Park. The 10-year-old gelding trained by King Leatherbury will attempt to end the first four-race losing streak of his sensational career in the 6 furlong sprint next weekend.

maryland-million-dayBen’s Cat has won the Maryland Million three times and finished second three other times in six starts. He’s won 28 stakes races with more than $2.6 million in career purse earnings. His most recent finish was fifth in the Laurel Dash Sept. 10, and has since worded twice at Laurel including four furlongs in 49 seconds on Oct. 1, the third-fastest of 25 horses that day. His other was a mile work in 1:50 in his first time work since the Laurel Dash.

“He worked a slow mile, a very slow mile,” Leatherbury said. “He’s going to work back on Saturday.”

Ben’s Cat won the 5 ½-furlong Maryland Million Turf Sprint from 2010-2012 and was second in the one-mile Maryland Million Turf in 2013 and 2014. Last year, he finished second by a nose in the Sprint, his three losses coming by less than a length combined.

The Sprint will be just the third race on dirt from 20 starts dating back to June 2014 for Ben’s Cat, who is 11-for-17 lifetime on the main track with two seconds and a third.

A victory would tie Ben’s Cat for the oldest Maryland Million winner with La Reine’s Terms, who captured the 2005 Turf at the age of 10, and give him the most wins in event history.

“He’s coming along nicely,” the 83-year-old Leatherbury said. “He came out of the last one (Laurel Dash) fine but when you look at his record you’ve got to suspect that maybe it’s the beginning of the end, which is sad thing for me to say. He’s not coming up with his big finishes like he used to. He’s feeling good and he’s sound, just like me I guess,” Leatherbury said. “He’s right there and he’s in good spots, but when you ask him to run he just doesn’t have that kick like he’s had, which is a sad thing for an old man like me.”

A four-time Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, Ben’s Cat began 2016 with wins in an open allowance May 1 at Laurel and the Jim McKay Turf Sprint May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course. Since then, he ran third in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup, Parx Dash and Mister Diz before finishing fifth in the Laurel Dash Sept. 10.

Breeders’ Cup Distaff Next for I’m a Chatterbox

Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr. I) winner I’m a Chatterbox is fine, according to her trainer, Larry Jones. Coming off a seven-length win in the Spinster, I’m a Chatterbox is now being pointed towards the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I), which will be held at Santa Anita Park on November 4. Her spot was secured and paid for by winning the Spinster, which if it hadn’t of won, she might not have raced in the Distaff. ima_chatterbox

“I didn’t want to put up $60,000 to run against Songbird, Beholder, and Stellar Wind,” said Jones. “We would not have gone.” 
The Distaff was run at Keeneland last year and I’m a Chatterbox finished in eighth place.

“Last year she was a 3-year-old going against older horses for the first time,” said Jones. “This year she is a lot more mature and she is bigger and stronger, so we’ve got that going for us. Hopefully the results will be different.”

I’m a Chatterbox has raced five times this year, two fewer than she raced last year heading into the Distaff. “We got started a little later this year with her,” said Jones. “Last year she was on the road to the (Longines) Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and raced a lot early in the year.”

The Spinster win was I’m a Chatterbox’s third grade I win. The $300,000 payout that accompanied it pushed her career earnings over the $2 million mark. While not confirming his shipping plans, Jones has said he’d like to wait as long as he can before leaving Keeneland to head to California.

Exaggerator retires 2016

2016 Preakness Winner Exaggerator Retires

After a huge racing weekend, the biggest news of the cycle should be focused on the impending Breeders’ Cup. However, Winstar Farms has announced that their 2016 Preakness Stakes winner is being sent to stud at their facility in Kentucky. Yes you heard that right. Exaggerator retires at the tail end of a three-year old season to remember.

While Exaggerator retires amidst some suprising timing, the choice was clear for his connections. “We could not be more excited to add another classic winner the caliber of Exaggerator to the WinStar stallion roster,” remarked Eliott Walden of Winstar. “He is a sound horse that passes all physical exams, but as the only 3-year-old to test all the Triple Crown races and summer classics, he’s a horse that is asking us for a rest. The fact he remains sound after 15 big time starts in the last 16 months is a testament to his ability, consistency, fortitude, and class. He is an extreme racehorse. A tough, durable throwback to the old days, like Curlin.”

“Some have questioned his record on a fast track, however, Exaggerator ran everywhere, in all types of conditions, and always faced the best, from Santa Anita to Saratoga,” Walden continued. “If you look at how the multiple different speed-figure makers rated Exaggerator, it actually bears out that he was as fast – or even faster – on a dry track as he was on an off track.”

Exaggerator retires with a record of 6-3-1 over 15 starts in a career that is highlighted not only by its wins, but his captivating rivalry with Nyquist. In their eight encounters, Exaggerator squarely won two of them outright while speeding to victory at both the Haskell and the Preakness. But his other outings were less fruitful, as Nyquist would win the majority of their encounters or place higher than him at the ones where they finished off the podium.

It’s undoubtedly been a punishing season on Exaggerator who was trained by Keith Desormeaux. “We believed in this horse from the very beginning,” remarked the trainer. “He is an outstanding individual with class and looks, and he’s by a top sire in Curlin. He checked all the boxes for me when I bought him as a yearling. Exaggerator had a tremendous racing career, and it’s rewarding that he lived up to our expectations.”

The 2016 Triple Crown has seen two of its champions retire out of the blue. Creator, who won the Belmont Stakes this year, also announced his plans to stud out in Japan. Exaggerator retires just a few days after that announcement, leaving Nyquist as the sole survivor of this Triple Crown class. The Kentucky Derby winner is scheduled to face off against the best in the sport at the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Meanwhile, Exaggerator retires in to a potentially lucrative situation as a champion stud with Curlin blood running through his veins. He totalled $3.5 million in career earnings and will forever be remembered as a champion.

Miss Temple City Beats the Boys in Shadwell Turf Mile

Miss Temple City Sparkles in $1 Million Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland

The babe beat the boys Saturday in the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) as Miss Temple City held off a furious late charge from the favorite Ironicus to take the winners share of $600,000. Miss Temple City (7-1) tracked the early pace behind the longest shot Pleuven and stayed in the four path entering the lane. She took command nearing the eighth pole and inched clear inside the sixteenth and lasted at the wire by a head over the hard-charging Ironicus.

Miss Temple City paid $17.40, $8.20 and $5.40 as she beat the boys again. She covered the one-mile course over the firm turf in 1:37.04 under Edgar Prado, earning an entry fees-paid berth to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile next month at Santa Anita. Ironicus (3-1) was ninth in the stretch and stormed home from the middle of the track to place and pay $4.60. Tourist made a bid three wide entering the lane and held on for third and $4.00 while Arlington Million winner and co-favorite Mondialiste was bumped a bit down the lane and settled for fourth.

Miss Temple City had beaten the boys in the Grade I Maker’s Mile at Keeneland in April. She passed on the First Lady Stakes where Tepin, the reigning queen of the filly-mare turf ranks, was upset at the heavy 2-5 favorite. Miss Temple City now has two wins and two seconds in four starts at Keeneland.

“She’s the best filly I’ve ever trained,” Graham Motion said. “She’s spectacular. My frustration was over the summer when it seemed we got a little lost with her. She had some tough trips. I’m glad the crew talked me into running her here today. I think I would have chosen to go the other way (and run her in the Grade 1 First Lady two races earlier). But this was the right thing to do; we took a shot. She’s a very special filly. I think she’s been on form all summer. It’s just been frustrating that she hasn’t been able to show it on the race track.”

Bred in Kentucky by Bobfeld Bloodstock, Miss Temple City was an RNA at $10,000 as a short yearling at Keeneland January. The filly won at first asking at Laurel Park, but the Maker’s 46 Mile was her first graded stakes win. Her victory in the Shadwell Turf Mile was her second stakes win, and increased her earnings to $1.2 million with five wins in 14 starts.

“I’ve studied her races over and over,” Prado said. “Seems like the real key is just getting her to relax. There wasn’t much speed in the race and she was very comfortable most of the race. I saw that horse (fast-closing Ironicus) coming and I was glad the wire was there.”



Shadwell Turf Mile Betting Preview

$1 Million Shadwell Turf Mile Highlights 5 Saturday Stakes at Keeneland

Last year’s winner, Grand Arch, will seek a repeat against 10 rivals in Saturday’s $1 million Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, a “Win and You’re In” offering for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile.

shadwell-turf-mileGrand Arch is 10-1 on the morning line, and the 7-year-old gelding is in tough here. A pair of 3rd place finishes since May including last time out in the
FourstarDave Handicap (G1) behind winner Tourist (3-1) shows he must improve to make the money. Tourist faces more familiar rivals but is a tough Tiznow cold who has three in the money finishes in Grade 1 races since April including the victory in the Fourstardave. He’ll be running near the lead while Miss Temple City (8-1) tries to come from off the pace while battling the boys. She romped in the Maker’s Mile but will need a very fast pace to get a piece. She passed on the First Lady Stakes where Tepin is expected to win as the heavy 2-5 favorite. Miss Temple City has a win and two seconds in three starts at Keeneland, where she posted her career-best Equibase and Beyer Speed Figures in the Maker’s 46 Mile.

keeneland-pick-5Ironicus (4-1) can certainly win this and is one to include in your exotics. The 5-year-old from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey is consistent and honest making him a worthy inclusion. He’s won six of 13 career starts and finished in the top two in each of his last nine races. In those nine races, he won or finished within a half-length of the leader eight times. Ironicus prefers to come from off the pace, which works very well as a tactic on the Keeneland turf, and his trainer and jockey (Jose Ortiz) have won at a 23 percent clip on the year when joining forces. Ironicus has been a favorite in four of his last five starts, and offers a nice payoff in a most competitive Turf Mile.

Other worthy contenders include Arlington Million winner Mondialiste (IRE) at 6-1, Ring Weekend (5-1) and What a View (6-1), who faces his toughest challenge and field from the far outside. Tower of Texas (20-1) is a longshot but was second to Tepin in the Woodbine Mile.

Here is Saturday’s stakes schedule at Keeneland, all part of the Pick 4 and Pick 5 betting action on a big day of racing at Keeneland. The Shadwell Turf Mile is the last stakes race and has an accomplished list of runners with a handful suggested as part of the Pick 5.

Race 5 – Woodford Stakes (G3). 5 ½ furlongs, Turf. 3-year-olds and up. Purse $150,000

Race 6 – Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (G2). 6 furlongs, Fillies and Mares 3-year-olds and up. Purse $250,000

Race 7 – First Lady Stakes (G1). 1 mile, Turf. Fillies and Mares 3-year-old and up. Purse $400,000

Race 8 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1). 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-olds. Purse $500,000

Race 9 – Shadwell Turf Mile (G1). 1 mile, Turf. 3-year-olds and up. Purse $1,000,000

Post time for Race 1 at Keeneland on Saturday, Oct. 8 is 1:05 p.m. ET, with Race 9 Shadwell Turf Mile scheduled for 5:45 p.m. ET

Enhanced Catalog Released for Fasig-Tipton November Sale

The Fasig-Tipton November mixed sale is coming up and they have cataloged 160 horses up for auction. The sale will take place on November 7 at the Newton Paddocks. It’s a one-evening event sale that will start at 5 PM local time.

Hip 22 sold for $450,000 at the Fasig-Tipton horse sales on Monday evening.Photo Erica Miller 8/8/11 spt_FasigSales3_Tues
Hip 22 sold for $450,000 at the Fasig-Tipton horse sales on Monday evening.Photo Erica Miller 8/8/11 spt_FasigSales3_Tues

“Our goal each year for the November Sale is to assemble a catalog of outstanding quality that will appeal to buyers from around the globe,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “This year’s catalog hits that ‘mark’ from start to finish.”

Some of the high-profile mares and broodmare prospects include Love the Chase (a dam from California Chrome), as well as offerings from grade I winners Curlina, Wavell Avenue Cathryn Sophia, Stopchargingmaria, and Dacita.

“The evening will begin with 50 selected weanlings, and then transition into a superb collection of racing stars and elite broodmares,” said Browning. “In total, this year’s catalog features 57 graded stakes winners or producers, 24 of which are grade I. A remarkable 83% of the racing/broodmare prospects and broodmares on offer are black-type earners or producers.”

If you would like to view the catalogue online, Fasig-Tipton has created an Enhanced Catalog that’s been updated for the 2016 sale. It’s viewable on desktop computers and mobile devices. The enhanced catalog also features past performances, race replays, stats, photos, and more. New for this year’s catalog is Alan Porter pedigree analysis.

Print catalogues are also available at all Fasig-Tipton offices starting October 14 and The Jockey Club’s Equineline Catalog app offers it as well.

Shadwell Turf Mile 2016 preview

2016 Shadwell Turf Mile Preview

The 2016 Shadwell Turf Mile has a bonafide field of contenders seeking a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. It’s truly a star studded cast worth of the hefty million dollar purse, and one that promises to be the premier event at Keeneland this weekend.

To me, the most promising choice at the Shadwell Turf Mile is Tourist, who is coming off a win at the Fourstardave and has been cresting upwards all season. He’s got to show that he’s a worthy bet in a grade-I stakes race, but I still like a standalone win bet on him. Call me crazy, but sometimes I like to get in on a horse before the curve spikes.

Also competing at the Shadwell Turf Mile out of the Fourstardave is Grand Arch who finished third in that race.

Tower of Texas last finished as a convincing runner-up to Tepin at the Woodbine Mile, a fate he’s achieved in three straight races. He’s as good of a bet as any in a dense field at the Shadwell Turf Mile.

Heading the class is Mondialiste who took the Arlington Million in mid-August. While his earlier performances in the year weren’t anything to speak of, he’s certainly positioned himself as a threat amongst milers. Kasoqui, who came second at the Arlington Million, is also featured in this race.

Muddying the betting waters even further at the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes is Ironicus, who has finished on the proverbial podium in his last 12 starts. I love him as a box packer in this one for those of you that like the exotics. He’s either due for a win, or due for a top finish at this race.

Miss Temple City will battle the boys, but it’s hard to imagine the four-year old filly cracking the top three. She’s coming off a 5th place finish at the Ballston Spa, after a pair of 4th place finishes in two races before that. Her win at the Maker’s 46 Mile was more of a fluke it seems.

Rounding out the Shadwell Turf Mile field are Triple ThreatPleuvenWhat A View and Ring Weekend.

My preferences remain Tourist and Ironicus with either Tower of Texas or Mondialiste coming in third.

2016 Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes – Saturday, October 8th at Keeneland (5:45pm EST)
1 Mile Turf — 3+ Year Olds — $1,000,000

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Triple Threat (FR) Paco Lopez 126 William I. Mott 15/1
2 Pleuven (FR) Corey J. Lanerie 126 Philip A. Sims 20/1
3 Tower of Texas (ON) Julien R. Leparoux 126 Roger L. Attfield 20/1
4 Mondialiste (IRE) Daniel Alexander Tudhope 126 David O’Meara 6/1
5 Grand Arch (KY) Luis Saez 126 Brian A. Lynch 10/1
6 Kasaqui (ARG) Robby Albarado 126 Ignacio Correas, IV 20/1
7 Miss Temple City (KY) Edgar S. Prado 126 H. Graham Motion 8/1
8  Ironicus (KY) Jose L. Ortiz 126 Claude R. McGaughey III 4/1
9 Ring Weekend (KY) Junior Alvarado 126 H. Graham Motion 5/1
10 Tourist (KY) Jose Lezcano 126 William I. Mott 3/1
11 What a View (CA) Kent J. Desormeaux 126123 Kenneth D. Black 6/1

California Chrome Shows He’s Awesome Again

California Chrome Wins Awesome Again Stakes in Prep for Breeders’ Cup Classic

A tough weekend at the track for many big name race favorites prepping for the Breeders’ Cup, but not California Chrome. The super star won his sixth straight race in 2016 with a 2 1/4 length victory in Saturday’s $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita. With Hoppertunity and El Huerfano scratched, California Chrome went off as the heavy 2-5 favorite in a five horses. The head-to-head duel with Dortmund was no match again, as California Chrome beat Dortmund by 2 1/4 lengths and paid $2.80 to win while running 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.07. Jockey Victor Espinosa cruised Chrome home in the final sixteenth of a mile and basically cantered him the final 70 yards.

California Chrome, the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, hasn’t been beaten since finishing second to Prince Bishop in the 2015 Dubai World Cup.

“He’s a challenging horse to run against because he’s versatile on top of his talent,” Espinoza said. “He can run on the front end and can come from behind. That’s difficult to run against, he’s so tactical. If someone wants to try and run with us again, maybe I’ll take back the next time. That’s the best part, he doesn’t have to be up there on the lead.”

Added trainer Art Sherman, “He took Dortmund’s game plan away from him. He tried and ran a hell of a race, but you’re looking at maybe the best horse in the world right now. I can’t say enough about him. I’m just blessed to be able to train him.”

Almost as amazing as this equine rock star is his ever growing entourage. Inside the paddock, people were two or three deep to try to get a picture of California Chrome walking the ring. That’s only the people allowed into the paddock, not fans, who were lined up on the outside six deep.

A conservative estimate of 50 were in the Chrome traveling party in the paddock and the group grew to about 70 in the winner’s circle after the race.

Speaking of the Breeders’ Cup, Sherman added, “I’m looking forward to it and hope everything goes according to plan. Each race seems a little bit better. It’s a little scary. He’s the best I’ve ever seen.”

The fans think so too, and they’ll see him on racing’s biggest stage next month. California Chrome’s next big run will be in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita November 5.



Ankle Injury Forces Pretty City Dancer to Skip Alcibiades

Grade I winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) contender Pretty City Dancer won’t be making her next scheduled start in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland on October 7th due to a minor ankle injury, according to trainer Mark Casse. pcd

“Irad Ortiz was supposed to ride her and I told his agent we’re not going to make (the Alcibiades), but don’t count us out of the Breeders’ Cup right yet,” said Casse.

Upon finishing in a first-place dead-heat with Sweet Loretta in the Spinaway Stakes on September 3rd, the Tapit filly was forced to miss training time following a September 23rd breeze.

“We x-rayed her (right front) ankle and it looked fine,” said Casse. “We gave her a few days off, and we’re just being cautious with her. We’re going to see how she trains before we breeze her again. We just didn’t have time enough to work her (before the Alcibiades), so we’re going to skip it.”

Thanks to her finish in the Spinaway, Pretty City Dancer earned automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, which will take place at Santa Anita Park on November 5th. It was also her third straight win, following victories in the Debutante Stakes and a maiden special weight race.

Casse is optimistic she’ll be able to keep in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series. “If not, she’s too valuable and too good a filly to rush her along,” said Casse. “(The injury is) disappointing, but luckily its nothing of any great consequence.”

Gormley 2016 Frontrunner Klimt

Gormley Ready For Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

For most of this season, the juvenile age category was thought to have a clear – ahem – frontrunner. That was Klimt, who opened the 2016 Frontrunner Stakes as the overwhelming 1/5 favorite. Gormley had other plans in mind as he stole the race with a pulse pounding performance, unraveling the shroud of “unbeatable” off of Klimt.

The race opened with some unique weirdness of its own as Secret House busted from the gate without his rider. Thankfully, Secret House was able to trail off to the side and leave Gormley to take the early lead as the 11/1 longshot. Straight Fire, who was the second choice at 7/2, sat in the back. The late shooting Klimt was way in the back, patiently waiting to make his move.

Nobody, however, could’ve foreseen Gormley maintaining the pace he set early on with fractions :23.72 over the first quarter :47.18 for the half. Straight Fire made his move going around the second bend but couldn’t overtake him and Klimt turned on the jets way too late. Gormley cruised to a win of 3 1/2 lengths over the top choices on the Frontrunner Stakes betting board.

Victor Espinoza was actually the biggest winner of all, having ridden California Chrome and Stellar Wind to wins at the Awesome Again and Zenyatta Stakes earlier int he day. But Gormley provided him his biggest upset. Even the famed jockey was stunned by the results of the Frontrunner Stakes.

“I was really surprised. Like anything you go into it with a plan, but when that gate opens, everything can change,” Espinoza began. “I originally wanted to take back a little bit and let him run in the end. I was on the rail and didn’t want to take him back then, so I let him run. This horse can run well wherever he runs. He’s a very talented young horse and he’s going to improve for the future.”

Gormley was worth $23.60 to win, $5.00 to place, and $3.00 to show while Klimt still paid out $2.20 and $2.10 in second place. Straight Fire paid $2.20 to show.

Klimt is still the standard in the juvenile class and will get his rematch with Gormley at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in a month. The Frontrunner has produced the winner of the BC Juvenile, and also the winner of the following Kentucky Derby for the past two years. Is Gormley at the same level as Nyquist and American Pharoah were? We’ll see.