2017 Equine Sales Co. Dates Announced

The Equine Sales Company announced on December 15 that its complete 2017 schedule of auctions is set for the New Year. In addition to a couple of sales in May (the two-year-olds in Training sale on May 9 and breeze date on May 7), the Equine Sales Company announced two more sales to be held in their Opelousas, La. facility. ltba

Those two auctions will be the Consignor Select yearling sale, which will be held on August 31, and the Open Yearling and Mixed Sale, which will take place on October 15. Each sale will be held on or around the same date as they were the year before.

“Equine Sales Company had its best year yet in 2016, and I think we have found a good spot on the calendar for all three sales to work well for consignors and buyers, both nationally and regionally,” said Equine Sales Company Sales Director Foster Bridewell. “The addition in 2016 of the Equine Sales Derby and Equine Sales Oaks at Evangeline Downs for sale graduates has proven to a big boost for breeders, buyers and consignors, and we look forward to continuing those races in 2017 and beyond.”

In 2016, the Consignor Select Yearling Sale was the first unified yearling sale that was held in conjunction with the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association. Prior to 2016, the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association held its own separate yearling sale. The untied auction turned out to be quite successful so the partnership has been extended for 2017.

Steve Sexton Passes Away

Former Churchill Downs Racetrack President (2002-2009) Steve Sexton has passed away at the age of 57 from brain cancer. stebe

“He was one of the greatest racing executives of all time,” said Kentucky Downs President Corey Johnsen. “Just one example was a few years ago the disabled jockeys were in danger of losing funding. He knew there were 50 riders who needed that help. Steve personally got involved. He made it his mission to make sure the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund was properly funded.

“A lot of things would come up where Steve would be the first guy to step up and do everything he could. He was always that guy.”

Following his run as President, Sexton took over the entertainment division at Churchill Downs Inc., where he was the overseer of a $121 million facility rebuild project.

“All in the Churchill Downs Incorporated family are deeply saddened by the passing of former Churchill Downs racetrack president Steve Sexton, and our deepest sympathies go out to his wife Kim; son Taylor; daughter, Kalli, and his family and friends during this difficult time,” said Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen. “Steve led Churchill Downs during key years of change for both the institution and the Kentucky Derby. He also tirelessly served the Louisville community through membership on the boards of several community organizations. Along with his deep experience in horse racing and race track management, Steve brought enthusiasm and boundless energy to everything he touched at Churchill Downs. Today is a very sad day for all of us at Churchill Downs and Steve will be greatly missed.”

Sexton, a Topeka, Kansas native and Claremont McKenna College graduate, recently served as a managing partner at HKS Sports and Entertainment’s subsidiary LOGE.

Mastery Takes Final Derby Prep of 2016

In the final Kentucky Derby prep race for the calendar year, two-year-old Mastery put himself on the map. It was the third consecutive win in as many starts for the young contender who joins Mor Spirit, Dortmund and Shared Belief as a winner at the Los Alamitos Futurity. The only downside is that he faced a small field of just five total horses.

Those concerns should be wiped away considering that Mastery posted an absurdly fast time at the track. Winning in 1:41.56 puts him in the company of 2008 Los Alamitos Futurity winner Pioneerof the Nile, who would go on to finish second at the Kentucky Derby in 2009. You might know that name since ‘Nile’ sired American Pharoah. So it’s good news regardless of the small field opposing Mastery.

Trainer Bob Baffert was satisfied with the results after seeing Mastery take on two turns for the first time. “You never know how they are going to do going two turns for the first time until they try it,” Baffert said. “Turning for home, he hit a bit of a lull and I didn’t know if he was going to go on or flatten out. Mike said it was a good thing I put blinkers back on him, because he hit the brakes when he made the lead. The last part, he threw it in another gear.”

Of course, Mastery did not have a perfect run and was challenged by Irap in those final moments. There are still some kinks to work out. “I was worried when I saw the fractions, but he looked like he handled it pretty well. He withstood it and kicked on again at the end.”

Mastery paid $2.40 and $2.10 with the win while Irap delivered $9.40 to place. There was no show wagering due to the size of the field.


Resilient Humor Beats the Odds at Los Alamitos

Trainer Jesus Mendoza believed in his filly, Resilient Humor, no matter how high the odds were against her this past weekend at Los Alamitos Race Course. He proved it by showing a winning ticket at 32-1 odds.

Resilient Humor is the first foal multi-grade I winner Sassy Image, who won the Humana Distaff and Princess Rooney in 2011.

“There was no doubt in my mind, from day one, that she could run,” said a grinning Mendoza. “She’s not the perfect, correct filly, so along the way there were a little bit of issues, but we just gave her time. I knew, if she made it to the races, she was going to be a nice filly. The pedigree says it all.” reshum

Running out of post position five under jockey Chantal Sutherland, the Distorted Humor filly was forced to hold steady at the start, but eventually rallied in the stretch and then pulled away from the rest of the field to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Dominating Woman. Her winning time was 1:04.04 and the win paid out $67.40.

The Kentucky-bred Resilient Humor was purchased at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale and was bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings.
According to Mendoza, Resilient Humor’s next possible race could be the $200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park on January 8. A win in the Santa Ynez stakes would be the first graded stakes victory of Mendoza’s career.

Chris Davis Makes a Mark With First Career Win

Some in the racing community believe that 27-year-old trainer Chris Davis is the next up-and-coming superstar trainer in the industry. Well, it didn’t take long for him to saddle his first charge to victory. In his fist start, Davis saddled Uncork the York in a maiden special weight race at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on November 27. chrisdais

Uncork the York came into the race with 12-1 odds and went from last to first in the field of nine horses, winning the 1 1/16-mile turf race under rider James Graham by 3 1/4 lengths. The first horse Davis saddled was My Year Is a Day only 44 days ago; she finished 11th in the Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes (gr. IIIT).

“I felt like the world was lifted off my shoulders. It was like static,” said Davis. “It’s stressful to win that first one when you only have a couple horses, and you don’t have a lot of shots at it. Every race you run means the world and it was especially great to win for Town and Country, who have been so kind to me. I currently have five horses in training here at Fair Grounds and (Uncork the York) is a nice one. He really improved and is still learning. I’ll look at an allowance next for him and maybe nominate to the Woodchopper, but I won’t throw him to the wolves. He has talent and I’d like to develop him.”

Horses are in the Davis bloodstream. His parents were trainer Liane Davis and assistant starter Hershell Davis.

“Working for mom was key,” said Davis. “She never had a lot of horses, maybe 10 to 20 at a time, and it was all hands-on hard work and dedication. I really learned from her how to make sure they’re happy, sound, healthy and looking good. In her 35 years training, she only has had one catastrophe on the track. That is unheard of.

“Then I started galloping horses for Richard Hazelton, who is a legend and won thousands of races. He was an old school, hard-knocking trainer. I got some more great experience from working for Rusty Hellman and then Wayne Catalano, galloping Animal Kingdom when he had him. To work for Catalano was a dream. He had won so many races as a jockey—which so many people forget—and then went on to double that training.

“I then worked for Pat Byrne and I had the opportunity to gallop Take Charge Indy, who was a really talented animal. Here was a guy who at one point was on top of the world, so he had great stories that taught me a lot about the ups and downs of the game.”

The plan now for Davis, who has big dreams, is a move to Keenland.

“I want to win the (Kentucky) Oaks, (Kentucky) Derby and be in the Hall of Fame, but I know it’s a hard climb,” said Davis. “Right now I am happy for the few horses I have and I will try to win races with them. This game is not for the faint of heart. There are incredible wins and there are mornings making those bad phone calls you don’t want to make, but you get up and do it all over again because you love it.”

Miss Temple City Surges Down the Stretch to Win Matriarch

Miss Temple City Wins out West at Del Mar in the Matriarch Mile on the Turf

Miss Temple City completed a super season Sunday. The fabulous 4-year-old filly won her third Grade I race of the year at 1 mile on the grass, holding off Roca Rojo by a nose after running past the pacesetter Stays in Vegas in the $300,000 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar.

Miss Temple City, a daughter of Temple City, established a good stalking position from the outside gate, advanced toward Stays in Vegas as the field exited the stretch turn and got to the lead shortly thereafter. Roca Rojo made a late run on her outside while Stays in Vegas persisted along the rail to make it a photo.

Miss Temple City won last year at Pimlico, and the well-traveled filly has raced in Kentucky, New York, California, and at Royal Ascot in England this year, and twice earlier in the year defeated males in Grade 1 races at Keeneland in the Shadwell Turf Mile and Makers 46 mile. That type of resume would usually result in a year-end Eclipse Award, but she’ll come up short to the great Tepin.

“I wish they’d retire Tepin,” Graham Motion, the trainer of Miss Temple City, joked after the race.

“Any other year she’d stand out,” Motion said of Miss Temple City

Miss Temple City went to post as the 8-5 favorite and delivered with a Matriarch mile time of 1:35.16, speeding down the stretch in a final quarter-mile time of less than 23 seconds. Miss Temple City paid $5.20, $3.60 and $3.00 while Roco Rojo paid $5.20 and $3.60 and Stays in Vegas retuned $5.60 to show.

“The trick with her is to get her to settle early,” said winning rider Edgar Prado. “We got a good spot early and in the first eighth of a mile she was relaxed. She was just going easy. We turned for home and I asked and she was there. I had some extra and I needed it. She’s a special horse.”

Miss Temple City has now won six times in 16 starts, and the $180,000 first prize brought her career earnings to $1,453,038.

Miss Temple City passed up a chance to contest the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin on Dec. 11 in favor of the Del Mar season-closing fixture. Trainer Graham Motion was looking toward 2017, when the Breeders’ Cup will be run for the first time at Del Mar, adding, “Hopefully we’ll be here at this time of year next year.”

Lime Country Thoroughbreds Partners With Think Big Stud

Lime Country Thoroughbreds, the boutique Thoroughbred breeding and sales consignors, are relocating from New Zealand to Australia to be a part of Think Big Stud owned by Dato Tan Chin Nam. The partnership between the two will officially commence in February. lime

Lime Country Thoroughbreds was established in 2007 and the next phase of their journey will see them take a step forward and focus on trading top market mares and weanlings. They will continue offering sales preparation, pre-training, and breaking services at their new home.

Dato Tan is one of Australia’s leading owners and has been successful in the Australian horse racing scene since 1971. His successes include four Melbourne Cups, three Derbies, Three Cox Plates, and one Caulfield Cup. He has also been a part of numerous group I wins.

The Lime Country relocation will coincide with the kickoff of this year’s Inglis Easter yearling sale.

“We are honored that Dato Tan and his family have entrusted us with their stud and horses that will remain at the farm,” said Greg Griffin. “We have spent the last 10 years building our business in New Zealand and this is the next natural step forward for us. We already have some fantastic Australian clients who we will enjoy being closer to, and we are keen to provide our clients in New Zealand and Asia, and new clients from America and Europe, our services for their Australian interests, too.”

Dato Tan’s land ownership will stay in tact as part of the transaction.

“Dato is delighted with this outcome after exploring his options for the last few months,” said Think Big Stud Managing Director/Dato Tan Long-term Racing Manager. “Passing the operations of the stud itself to Greg and Jo Griffin—a young, energetic, and ambitious couple—means his horses can remain at the property and continue to be cared for to the highest of standards.”

2016 Hollywood Derby preview

Camelot Kitten Takes On Hollywood Derby

Chad Brown’s Camelot Kitten has been a profitable, under-the-radar bet for horse players all year long. The three-year-old colt has won the American Turf Stakes, Pennine Ridge, National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes and the Hill Prince most recently on a spellbinding tour of the lower tiers. He next takes on the Hollywood Derby and is expected to be the favorite.

Joining him will be stablemates Beach Patrol and Annals of Time who finished second and third at the Hill Prince in August. Both are also trained by Chad Brown and will try to avenge a defeat to Camelot Kitten, who has remained at the top of his game when pointed at the appropriate level.

Crashing the Hollywood Derby party is Revved Up, who is highly rated across the board despite his 5th place finish at the Commonwealth Derby in late September. The Claude McGaughey trainee has also had a flurry of strange results from multiple allowances, going just 2-1-0 in seven other non-stakes starts. Revved Up certainly remains a bit of a dark horse and could be worth a standalone play if you happen to have some misplaced faith in him.

A flurry of hopefuls from the Twilight Derby will also take part in this weekend’s challenge. That group is topped by Frank Conversation, who won the Twilight and was followed by Free Rose and Blackjackcat. Diplodocus came 5th while Path of David came 7th. I would rank Frank Conversation highly, but I also love Free Rose as an upstart in the upcoming Hollywood Derby. The Twilight was the gelding’s first loss at a stakes race.

Defiantly (1st at the Let It Ride), Isotherm (8th at the English Channel) and Hayabusa One (1st Allowance) round out the field.

However, this remains a race for Camelot Kitten to lose. I’m not sure that his compatriots can pace him like they did at the Hill Prince, so my money’s on Free Rose to spoil the race. An exacta on the pair wouldn’t be ill informed. Camelot Kitten has made it a habit to outdo himself against strong competition in general.

2016 Hollywood Derby – Saturday, December 3rd at Del Mar (6:30pm EST)
1 1/8th Miles — 3 Year Olds — $300,000

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Beach Patrol (KY) Florent Geroux 122 Chad C. Brown
2 Camelot Kitten (KY) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 122 Chad C. Brown
3 Frank Conversation (KY) Mario Gutierrez 122 Doug F. O’Neill
4 Diplodocus (KY) Kent J. Desormeaux 122 Richard Baltas
5 Free Rose (KY) Norberto Arroyo, Jr. 122 Richard Baltas
6 Isotherm (KY) John R. Velazquez 122 George Weaver
7 Blackjackcat (KY) Mike E. Smith 122 Mark Glatt
8 Hayabusa One (FR) Victor Espinoza 122 H. Graham Motion
9 Revved Up (KY) Drayden Van Dyke 122 Claude R. McGaughey III
10 Defiantly (KY) Gary L. Stevens 122 Craig Dollase
11 Annals of Time (KY) Javier Castellano 122 Chad C. Brown
12 Path of David (KY) Joseph Talamo 122 Kristin Mulhall