Mind Your Biscuits Preps for Belmont Sprint Championship

Grade one champion Mind Your Biscuits came away from a recent bullet breeze unscathed and looks in good shape to make his stateside return in the upcoming $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship (G2) at Belmont Park on July 8, according to his trainer Chad Summers.

Mind Your Biscuits was a winner his last time out, crossing the finish line of the Dubai Golden Shaeen (G1) in first. During his most recent workout, he was timed running five furlongs in :58.19, which was the fastest time of the day at the distance out of ten horses. He was ridden by jockey Joel Rosario. His quarter-mile and half-mile fractions were timed at :22 and :45 2/5, respectively.

“(It was) a little bit faster than we were looking for, but he did it the right way,” said Summers. “It was about as easy a :58 as there’ll ever be. He galloped out (to six furlongs) in 1:11. It was a good, fine dress rehearsal for what’s going to come July 8. He’s in the best form of his life. He came out of Dubai great. The time off was good for him. He’s raring to go.

“When they work that fast you always have to be a little bit cautious. I came back to the barn about 9:45 last night just to make sure that the feed tub was empty and it was, and he walked good this morning. We’re very excited about where we’re at.”

In 15 career starts, Mind Your Biscuits sports a record of 5-6-2, and has earned a shade over $2 million.

2017 Ohio Derby results

Irap Victorious in 2017 Ohio Derby

Trainer Doug O’Neill’s Irap is back in the winner’s circle after a victory in the 2017 Ohio Derby. The three-year-old colt was last seen finishing a disappointing 18th in the Kentucky Derby but was able to best Girvin down the stretch this past weekend. The winning time was 1:50.48 over 1 1/8th miles.

Girvin was the heavy 4/5 favorite, but I had advised last week that his odds weren’t exactly trustworthy. The oddsmakers and handicappers alike had always overvalued the colt in my eyes. That didn’t stop Girvin from putting on a good show regardless.

Fast and Accurate took the team out as an 18/1 pace setter, but fell off immediately at the top of the stretch with Girvin stalking behind. Hinton and Vibe were a part of the front pack for the early stages but faded off equally as well. Game Over went with Girvin initially, but was left in the dust as the latter tore down the stretch with his trademark kick. He looked like the 2017 Ohio Derby winner up until the last portion of the stretch.

That’s when Irap made his move, bursting on the outside of Game Over and catching up with Girvin to provide an absolutely thrilling finish at the wire. It was completely indistinguishable to the naked eye, but video replay proved that Irap got the edge and won the 2017 Ohio Derby in the process.

Florent Leparoux was aboard Irap, and spoke about edging out the legendary Mike Smith who was riding Girvin. “He broke good and we had good position,” said Leparoux. “I was a little farther back in the first turn but I was right behind Mike Smith, and I knew that was the right horse to follow. He’s the kind of horse you have to ask pretty early, because he has that long, long stride, so I was able to get him going early and got there on time. I didn’t know that I’d won, it was so close.”

It was the rebound performance that O’Neill was looking for out of Irap and other supporters of him at the 2017 Ohio Derby window were fairly rewarded. Irap paid $7.60, $3, and $2.40 across the board

Horacio Karamanos Earns Win Number 2000

Jockey Horacio Karamanos, a familiar face in the Maryland riding scene, celebrated Father’s Day by winning his 2,000th career race at Laurel Park. He accomplished the feat on top of Liquid Aloha in a $28,000 starter optional claiming race for three-year-olds.

“I was not nervous but I am excited to make it,” said Karamanos, “I feel inspired because everyone was saying, ‘C’mon, 1,999,’ so I had to do it. I made it and I’m happy because 2,000 races—it’s hard to get that.

“Someday my daughter is going to be a mother and she can say, ‘Look at what your granddaddy did,'” added the jubilant jockey. “You show them the picture because the picture is going to be forever. I wanted my family to stay with me in this moment. I feel happy for them, very emotional. Laurel is my home.”

It was an early birthday present for the Argentina jockey, who will turn 44 on June 28. Prior to his move to South Florida in 2000, Karamanos was a top rider in his home country, winning over 1,500 races in Argentina. His first stateside win was at the track formally known as the Calder Race Course. His first riding title came in 2002, and he has won five individual riding tiles in Maryland. His career earnings has crossed the $50 million threshold.

One of Karamanos’ career highlight occurred on October 26, 2002, when he won seven races on one single card at Laurel Park, which tied a track record.

 

Ohio Derby Preview

Girvin is Favorite in Field of 9 for $500,000 Ohio Derby

Saturday’s Grade 3 Ohio Derby is the richest race in the U.S. over the weekend just outside Cleveland. Nine 3-year-olds are ready to run 9 furlongs over the main track at JACK Thisledown, and the $500,000 purse ensures a big payday.

Girvin winning Louisiana Derby

Girvin is the 2-1 favorite and the multiple graded stakes winner had his biggest score when winning the $1 million Louisiana Derby in April.  He followed with a 13th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, as he wasn’t fully healthy with a hoof crack and also had a troubled trip under Mike Smith that included being sharply steadied along the far turn. Smith rides Girvin for the second time, and the Joe Sharp-trained colt has 3 wins and a second in five starts, and he worked a 5 furlong bullet in 1:00.00 at Churchill Downs June 17.

Irap (3-1) is the Tiznow colt who surprised everyone winning the Blue Grass Stakes at 31-1 odds. He beat four Derby runners that day at Keeneland on a deep track, and then was another big long shot who suffered a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby. Irap is expected to be near the leaders breaking from the rail with Julien Leparoux looking for a similar Blue Grass trip.

Untrapped (9-2) has just one win in seven starts and was 2nd behind Girvin in the Risen Star (G3) in February at identical 8-1 odds. He finished just in front of Girvin in the Kentucky Derby after a 6th place finish in the Arkansas Derby when Smith rode him. Ricardo Santana, Jr. was up in the Risen Star and Derby, and takes over again here for trainer Steve Asmussen. A stalking trip near mid pack hoping for plenty of speed up front and a late burst.

Fast and Accurate (8-1) is the fourth and final Kentucky Derby runner in this field who faded badly to finish 18th in Louisville. He’s expected to set the pace in Ohio like he did in his recent start May 27 in the Arlington Classic (G3) on the turf. He folded up in the stretch to finish 4th, and Mike Maker’s colt will have a tough time holding off stronger runners at 9 furlongs.

Sorry Erik (6-1) is trained and ridden by the Desormeaux brothers and is 2-0for-5 this year with a 5th in the Louisiana Derby and 7th in the Risen Star, both as a huge long shot. He needs a very fast pace to run into, which he got in his recent allowance race at Santa Anita when he rallied from last to finish second.

Game Over (12-1), Talk Less (12-1), Vibe (12-1) and Hinton (20-1), who is 3-for-4 and moves up sharply in class, complete the field as longer shots.

The Ohio Derby is Race 8 on Saturday, June 24 with post time for the 1 1/8 mile race at 5:30 ET.

 

2017 Queen Anne Stakes Ribchester

Ribchester Dominant in 2017 Queen Anne

The 2017 Queen Anne Stakes kicked off a busy first day of action at the Royal Ascot Meet and saw 16 hopefuls take to the gates. But it was 4/5 favorite Ribchester who was unrelenting in his pursuit of victory in the Group 1 race. Godolphin Racing expects nothing but the best out of their elite talent, and that’s exactly what they got on this day.

The oddsmakers had designed the lines to be top heavy with Ribchester going off as a strong preference followed by 5/1 second choice Lightning Spear. However, Lightning Spear was poor in this effort and finished 9th overall. He gave way to Mutkayyef, who finished 2nd at 6/1, and 12/1 outside shot Deauville who is trained by Aiden O’Brien.

Jockey William Buick was aboard for the win and couldn’t say enough about how powerful Ribchester was over the one-mile turf challenge. “You’ve got to hand it to the horse, he’s an absolute jockey’s dream,” Buick stated. “It doesn’t get much better than this. This is the biggest week for our sport and to wear the royal blue here. We’re all working towards one goal. We’re all working to get to the winner’s enclosure. That’s what Sheikh Mohammed deserves.”

Trainer Richard Fahey also beamed at the four-year-old colt’s potential, saying that he has much more left to offer. “Look Ribchester is just an exceptional horse,” Fahey exclaimed. “He has to be the best horse I have ever trained,” winning trainer Richard Fahey said. He broke the track record here today and that’s not being disrespectful to the others, but he is just exceptional.

Fahey went on to say that the 2017 Queen Anne Stakes was just the beginning, and after conferring with his jockey, he knows where the end game for the season is. “William doesn’t feel that the tank is empty with him and that he is getting stronger the whole time. The Sussex Stakes is where he has to go really. I was always hoping that he would stay further but at the moment, I don’t need to go further.”

With the 2017 Queen Anne Stakes victory, Ribchester is now 5-3-3 in 12 starts and has posted back-to-back wins in Group 1 races.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux Warned Following Workout Whip Usage

An official warning was issued by stewards at Santa Anita Park to jockey Kent Desormeaux on June 10 for his actions during a May 28 workout on their track.

Steward Kim Sawyer said she and fellow stewards would have gone even further in their actions, but were unable to find a rule in the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) guidelines they could have employed for Desormeaux’s actions that took place on May 28 on top of Demonslayer.

During the workout, Desormeaux whipped Demonslayer towards the end of their workout, and once they galloped out, Desormeaux hit the horse three times on the shoulder. There was video of the incident posted to xbtv.com, but it was taken down due to negative social media attention.

“We could have very easily penalized him, but we couldn’t find a rule to use,” said Sawyer. “What was upsetting to me was that he hit the horse after the workout.” Sawyer also mentioned how there’s now a CHRB proposal being put together to address workout whip usage.

Desormeaux defended his gallop whip usage by saying he thought Demonslayer was going to “prop”, or dig his front legs and abruptly stop.

“He was trying to pull up and prop,” said Desormeaux. “The only difference between me and other guys was I was standing up and not (riding with) my hands. If (Demonslayer) had his way, he would have turned around or stopped entirely.”

Sawyer and her fellow stewards didn’t believe Desormeaux’s explanation. “I think it’s fair to say we didn’t buy the propping explanation,” said Sawyer.

Demonslayer trainer Bob Hess Jr. was concerned at first, but satisfied with Desormeaux’s explanation.

“The horse is cantankerous,” said Hess. “We trust Kent, but we were concerned. (Demonslayer) has a has a habit of knowing where the wire is and hitting the air brakes. Kent has been riding for me for 20 years. It was for Kent’s safety. Personally we both hate to hit a horse. I have a policy not to hit horses in my barn, because they can’t hit back. If you want to hit a horse, come and hit me, because I can hit back.”

Mastery retired

Potential Champion Mastery Retired

We’ll never really know what Mastery was capable of. The three-year-old colt has been retired to Clairborne Farms after suffering a condylar fracture in his front left leg back in March. Unfortunately, he just never recovered and will prepare for what promises to be a decent stud career.

Mastery is undefeated in four races having won the Bob Hope Stakes, Los Alamitos Futurity and the San Felipe Stakes in dominant fashion. The son of Candy Ride opened his career with a win in a maiden special weight in October 2016 as well. In total, Mastery has won $511,200 after being purchased for $425,000.

How good was this horse? Many considered him Bob Baffert’s best prospect in the 2017 Triple Crown. Mastery opened the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager as a 10/1 top choice and held those odds up until the final round, where concerns about his ability to compete after a fractured left leg arose in March following the San Felipe.

It’s a sour end to what could have been an incredible career and Baffert is still reeling from the sudden downturn in the undefeated colt’s career. “He was just starting to mature,” Baffert said. “I’m still sick about him getting hurt. It’s safe to say he was on the same path as American Pharoah, the way he was dominating his races.”

The 2017 San Felipe Stakes was where Mastery established the hype. He went off as a 4/5 favorite and dusted a field that included Iliad and Gormley. But after the race, jockey Mike Smith knew something was off and pulled him up after crossing the finish line. X-Rays proved that the jockey’s fears were well justified, and a recovery strategy was immediately put in place. Unfortunately, that not only involved surgery, it meant that Mastery wouldn’t be ready for the Kentucky Derby despite being one of the favorites.

This is truly part of the sport. Injuries happen at the most inopportune times, and can sometimes have tragic endings. It’s certainly a loss considering how sorely we’ve yearned for a true king of the colts this year and having the endorsement of a trainer like Baffert goes a long way in substantiating how talented Mastery actually was.

Mastery will retire undefeated and as a son of Candy Ride out of Steady Course, he is sure to have a strong life as a sire.

2017 New York Stakes Preview

The 2017 New York Stakes (G2) is scheduled to run today at 5:14 PM local time at Belmont Park. The $500,000 race will feature two last-out winners in Sea Calisi and Hawksmoor.

Sea Calisi is coming off a win in the May 6 Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2T) on the very same track the New York Stakes will be run on. She won that race by 2 1/2 lengths over Suffused, who will also run in the New York Stakes.

In her last race, Hawksmoor took home the Beaugay Stakes (G3T), also run at Belmont, on May 13. The New York Stakes will be her fourth race on U.S. soil.

“They’re both training really well and they’re coming into the race the right way,” said Brown of Sea Calisi and his other filly in the race, Dacita. “They have similar running styles but they complement each other in terms of ground preference. Dacita prefers it firm but can handle soft if she has to; Sea Calisi can run on firm but she prefers some give in the ground.”

In four starts at Belmont Park, Sea Calisi has a record of 2-1-1. Hawksmoor is a grade two winner in Europe. Another filly to keep tabs on who could surprise is Sassy Little Lila. She has finished worse than second only once in seven career starts and was the runner-up in the American Oaks (G1).

Below is the full post position starting gate draw for the New York Stakes:

  1. Quidra
  2. Suffused
  3. Apple Betty
  4. Kitten’s Roar
  5. Hawksmoor
  6. Sea Calisi
  7. Summersault
  8. Dacita
  9. Sassy Little Lila
Lookin At Lee 2017 Belmont

Lookin At Lee Understated At Belmont

Lookin At Lee is ready for the 2017 Belmont Stakes, but not too many will be discussing him. That’s too bad because if the colt has proven anything, it’s that he can compete at the highest levels offered by this season’s three-year-old crop. After finishing second in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness Stakes, Lookin At Lee will be one of just two horses that will compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown this year.

That’s notably impressive for a horse that was a 20/1 longshot at Churchill Downs just five weeks ago.

Despite being the son of 2010 Preakness Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky, there was nothing to suggest that this particular contender was going to be…well…uh…a contender. His best effort was a third place run in the Arkansas Derby behind Classic Empire, who is the only other three-year-old to compete in all the Triple Crown legs this season.

Before that Lookin At Lee had posted sixth in the Rebel Stakes and third in the Southwest Stakes. Prior that? He ran fourth in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile which was won by Classic Empire.

All things considered, however, Lookin At Lee has the feeling of a horse that could randomly have his day making him a decent standalone play. At the very least he’s what I like to call a parlay stuffer. The Belmont Stakes is hard enough at a gargantuan 1 1/2 miles, so I like to invest in horses that like to compete. Covering the distance is one thing, but showing up to race is the real ticket.

“He came back great and I thought it went perfect,” said Toby Sheets, an assistant to head trainer Steven Asmussen. “He seems to really like Belmont. We got great weather this morning, so that always helps.”

It’s no doubt that the Belmont Stakes is a true gamble. The distance is simply agonizing. But Lookin At Lee being healthy enough to compete in the race after drilling well in the lead-up shows a lot of promise. There’s no way his connections would run him in this race given how hard the Triple Crown schedule is. Very rarely do owners and trainers push horses this hard when they don’t have anything at stake other than a win itself.

The 2017 Belmont Stakes field is taking shape and we’ll know who’s where on Wednesday. But it would be silly to overlook a hearty competitor like Lookin At Lee. With top-four finishers in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, he offers the type of consistency you like to see in a horse prior to the final leg of the Triple Crown. A win bet is hard to swallow considering that Classic Empire has shown the same resolve, but the Belmont makes mice out of the mighty. This very well could be the moment that Lookin At Lee has been waiting for.

Todd Pletcher Preps for Belmont Stakes

The 2017 Triple Crown gamut is close to completion, with only the Belmont Stakes (G1) left on the docket. Trainer Todd Pletcher has a couple of charges he will most likely send in an attempt to snag the last slice of the Triple Crown pie in Tapwrit and Patch. He sent them both out to work on May 27.

Patch is coming off a 14th place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1), and did not run in the Preakness Stakes (G1). Tapwrit, the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner, also skipped out on the Preakness after finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher, as we know, trained Always Dreaming to a win in the Kentucky Derby, but they finished eighth in the Preakness.

During the 9:30 AM work, Tapwrit was timed running five furlongs in 1:02.25 under jockey Jose Ortiz. Patch worked out earlier than Tapwrit, hitting the track at 7:45 AM with jockey John Velazquez, who rode Always Dreaming to Kentucky Derby glory last month. They ran four furlongs in :50.24.

“I thought Tapwrit worked well; he’s not an overzealous workhorse but we got a good solid five-eighths into him on what I’d describe as a relatively slow training track,” said Pletcher. “I thought it served its purpose and he seemed to work as he normally does. (Patch) worked fine. Neither horse are ones that overachieve in the mornings but they have that solid, grinding style that could suit the Belmont.”

Tapwrit is definite to start in the Belmont Stakes, according to Pletcher, but he has yet to make a decision on Patch.