Racetrack Cancellations and Weekend Weather Watch

Severe Winter Weather Causes Racetrack Cancellations

Extreme winter weather has caused racetrack cancellations at a number of locations including at Aqueduct in New York on Saturday, January 23 for the $100,000 Busanda Stakes. The New York Racing Association announced that the decision was made in anticipation of “extreme winter weather conditions and out of an abundance of caution for our equine athletes and their jockeys,” according to a NYRA release.

The Busanda Stakes is rescheduled for Sunday, January 31. Aqueduct will remain open for simulcasting Saturday, while the winter hat and glove giveaway has been rescheduled for Saturday, January 30.

Laurel Park in Maryland announced it cancelled live racing Saturday and Sunday as snow and blizzard conditions hit the Baltimore and Washington area. The track canceled its Friday, January. 22 program after the fifth race for the safety of its customers, employees, jockeys, horses, and horsemen.

Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore is closed for simulcasting Saturday.

Monmouth Park Racetrack in New Jersey is also closed for simulcasting Saturday as 5-8 inches of snow and high winds hit Oceanport.

High winds caused the cancellation of racing at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans Friday night, as the jockey’s voted not to ride.

Oaklawn Park in Arkansas cancelled the Friday card following an inch of rain and snow Thursday. Racing will resume Saturday with the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes, and Oaklawn will remain open for gaming and simulcast racing.

Turfway Park in Kentucky cancelled live racing and music Friday, and both Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia cancelled live racing Friday and Saturday.

Discreetness Rally’s for Upset Win in Smarty Jones Stakes

Smarty Jones Stakes Payoff for Discreetness

DISCREETNESS rewarded his betting backers as a 9-1 shot to win the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park January 16. The colt by Discreet Cat rallied off the pace to win by a neck and pay $20.20.

Trained by Jinks Fires and ridden by son-in-law Jon Court, Discreetness picked up 10 Road the Kentucky Derby points to move into a tie for eighth in the early standings.

Fires and Court said they expected a brisker pace, with so many horses stretching from sprints to the two-turn route distance for the first time.

“I expected to have half the field in front of me,” Court said. “However that wasn’t the case. I knew I had to keep him in a good spot, because with that short stretch in a flat mile there’s not much ground to lose. I was very fortunate to be in the position I was, and it paid off.”

Discreetness tuned up for the Smarty Jones with a 5-furlong bullet workout Jan. 7 (:59.80). His continued improvement paid off for the trainer and racing team of Xpress Thoroughbreds, who paid $105,000 for Discreetness at last year’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March 2-year-olds in training sale. The colt now has earned well in excess of $282,122.

Gordy Florida, a 22-1 shot, was a game second as he dueled with Discreetness down the stretch. Synchrony, the 5-2 second betting choice, went by five horses in the final half mile to finish third. Betting favorite and three times stakes winner Toews on Ice faded to finish sixth behind Luna de Loco in fourth and Gray Sky.

It was 31 degrees at post time for the Smarty Jones, but trainer Von Hemel said cold weather bothers people more than horses.

“They’re not uncomfortable at all,” he said. “They weigh a 1,000 pounds or 1,100 pounds, what’s a little cold weather to them? They don’t get cold like we do. It’s hard to cool down that much mass.”

Oaklawn’s 3-year-old stakes program has produced eight horses which have accounted for 12 Triple Crown race victories. In addition to Smarty Jones and American Pharoah, this list also includes dual Classic winner Afleet Alex, two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and champion 3-year-olds Summer Bird.

Discreetness can earn additional points in qualifying for the Kentucky Derby by running well at the $500,000 Grade III Southwest Stakes on February 15 at Oaklawn Park. He’ll also run in the $1M Arkansas Derby (G1) April 14 at Oaklawn Park.

La Canada Stakes Highlights Santa Anita Saturday

Handicap and Preview of the La Canada Stakes

The $200,000 La Canada Stakes (G2) highlights the 9-race card at Santa Anita Park January 16. Seven older fillies and mares will go a mile and 1/16 and YAHILWA has been pointing to this race and appears poised to make her 2016 debut a winner. Mike Smith takes the reigns and Yahilwa has the tactical speed to court the leaders, and her speed to finish third by a neck on October 4 in the Spinster Stakes (G1) at Keeneland may be good enough to overtake TARIS and hold off BIRDATTHEWIRE, who Smith road and rallied from worst to first to win by a half-length at the La Brea Stakes (G1) on December 26.

Birdatthewire will be closing hard as she did that day as a 10-1 shot, and she’s 2-for-2 at seven furlongs. The Kentucky bred daughter of Summer Bird likes to run out, and if improvement continues then first-time rider Drayden Van Dyke will be riding her to victory.

TARIS is a solid threat and will be on the lead up front with Gary Stevens aboard. The winner of the Go For Wand (G3) at Aqueduct November 27 returns to her home base with six in the money finishes in 10 lifetime starts. TARIS was the 4-5 favorite that day and drifted five wide into upper stretch before rallying to take command at the eighth pole. The 5-year old mare went 6 ½ furlongs to finish 3rd in a Grade 3 for fillies at Santa Anita Park on October 4.

Taris will duel with TARA’S TANGO, who has been off since September but had three straight runner-up finishes at Santa Anita last year including the Summertime Oaks (G2) at this distance.

2014 Preakness Winner California Chrome Wins 2016 Debut

California Chrome Impressive at Santa Anita In Return

California Chrome made an impressive 2016 debut to win the Grade ll $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita Park January 9.

“It’s super,” trainer Art Sherman said. “He hadn’t run in nine months, and showed what he showed. He could have opened up turning for home, but Victor put the full-Nelson on him,” said Sherman.

“For such a long time off, I didn’t want to burn him too much,” said Espinoza, also the rider of American Pharoah, which explains his permanent smile nowadays. “I wanted to go easy on him today. I expected him to be more tired than he was.” Espinoza continued, “but he feels like a champ. The most important thing about him today was that he accelerated in the stretch. Before, he was just steady, but this time he came back like the old Chrome.”

Sporting new silver and burgundy silks, with “CHROME” etched across jockey Victor Espinoza’s chest, the adoring fan favorite and heavy bet 3-5 choice didn’t disappoint despite paying just $3.20 to win the 1 1/16 mile race by 1 ¼ lengths.

The 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner hadn’t raced before Saturday since the Dubai World Cup run last March. “The way Chrome ran today is how he ran before. He’s one of the best horses I’ve ever been on,” said Espinoza.

California Chrome’s victory also pushed his career earnings to $6,442,650 and Chrome is now the highest-earning California bred horse.

“It means a lot to me that he’s now the all-time winningest Cal-bred,” the conditioner said. “It’s a great honor, and being a California boy like myself, starting out here—it brings back a lot of memories. I’m elated.”

Embarking on a globe-trotting tour designed to enhance his legacy and his owners’ retirement accounts, California Chrome will ship to Dubai on January 21 and run once more prior to the Dubai World Cup March 26. California Chrome’s connections have targeted the Breeders’ Cup Classic as his final run as California Chrome tries to finish his career in style after just missing in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2014.

Tribute To Horses Lost In Fire

Devastating Loss and Tribute to Horses Lost in Fire

A stable fire 38 miles Southwest of Toronto has killed 43 horses at Classy Lane Stables in Ontario’s horse racing community. The harness racing training center blaze broke out January 4 near 11:00 p.m. ET Monday and the community and racing industry is shaken by the tragic event and the horses lost in fire.

People in the harness racing community across North America are rallying to help those who lost everything in the Ontario fire. The people that love and care for these horses the most, had to witness them trapped by the fire and smoke, unable to save them. As any horse person knows, this is your worst nightmare.

“There are five companies that are out of business right now because they’ve got no horses, the help have no job, the trainers have no horses to train,” said Jamie Millier, owner of Classy Lane Stables.

Ben Wallace owned, or partially owned, 12 of the 17 horses he trained, all of which died in the fire. “I’ve lost everything. I mean, I’ve lost everything as far as my occupation, which I’ve been doing for 45 years, is gone. I don’t have so much as a stopwatch anymore.”

Horses at Classy Lane race at some of southern Ontario’s best-known tracks, including Woodbine, Mohawk and Flamboro Downs. The January 7 card at Woodbine will be dedicated to the equine lives lost to honor the horses lost in the fire at the January 7.

Racing fans can watch a video tribute which will be broadcast through the Woodbine facility, on HPItv, online at WoodbineEntertainment.com, and across North America on Woodbine’s simulcast feed.

As of Thursday morning, more than $100,000 had been donated to a GoFundMe campaign.

Prepping for the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico

Preparations for the 141st Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore have begun. The Preakness will be held on May 21, 2016 and is limited to 14 horses. Last year just eight horses ran in the 1 1/8 mile Preakness and American Pharoah blew them away in the slop in the second leg of his Triple Crown achievement. Eligibility for the Preakness is determined by earnings in previous races. That opens the door for horses who didn’t perform well enough in prep races to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, and other late bloomers who ran out of time to qualify.

The second jewel of the American Triple Crown, the Preakness attracts the Kentucky Derby winner along with other Derby participants. But with a two-week turnaround between the Triple Crown races, many Derby trainers elect to forego the Preakness citing a strain on their horses and a desire for more time between starts.

So while many horse racing fans focus on the lead up to the Kentucky Derby, there are plenty of promising horses to consider and watch for in the months leading up to the Preakness Stakes. Some potential value and under the radar horses who don’t compete in the Kentucky Derby can be found running in the Derby Trial and Illinois Derby in April.

Nearly half of the past 75 Preakness winners have spent the opening months of their three-year old campaigns racing in Florida. So watch for non-Derby qualifiers who run in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park January 30, and the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream on February 27.

The month of April will have some key races to watch leading up to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, so follow the ponies and their preparations and results at these stakes races below.

 

Florida Derby              April 2           Gulfstream Park – Hallandale Beach, FL

Wood Memorial          April 9           Aqueduct Racetrack – New York City, NY

Blue Grass                    April 9            Keeneland – Lexington, KY

Santa Anita Derby      April 9          Santa Anita Park – Arcadia, CA

Arkansas Derby          April 16         Oaklawn Park – Hot Springs, AR

Lexington                     April 16          Keeneland – Lexington, KY