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

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.

Preakness Stakes Aftermath Part 2

Always Dreaming was the 6/5 pre-race favorite to win the 142nd annual Preakness Stakes. If he did, the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner would have had a shot to make history in his quest to become the 13th horse ever to win the Triple Crown. While Always Dreaming lead after three-quarters, he quickly faded away during the stretch run, and finished a distant eighth.

Trainer Todd Pletcher mentioned that Always Dreaming was healthy following the Preakness Stakes, but wasn’t sure what happened to make him fall to the back of the pack late in the race.

“He’s healthy and happy,” said Pletcher. “We’ll head back to Belmont … and regroup. When I spoke to the ownership after the race yesterday, we all decided we wouldn’t make a decision (regarding his next start) until we got him home and evaluated him. … Talking to (jockey John Velazquez) a little more, he was concerned down the backside, that he wasn’t taking him there the same way he was taking him there in the Kentucky Derby and Florida Derby (G1).

“Other than that, I don’t have a good explanation. He came back healthy and looks good. … The surface—I hate to use that as an excuse, because he’s run well over all kinds of different surfaces, (but) this one was a little bit different, because it was in that drying-out phase. But it wasn’t his day, I suppose.”

Senior Investment, who finished third in the Preakness Stakes, will run in the Belmont Stakes (G1).

“We just used this as a prep race,” joked trainer, Kenny McPeek. “We felt all along he wanted a mile and a half, but the Belmont is tougher than this sometimes, because the pace can be much slower. Does it suit him? He’s just going to keep coming. … We made a decision yesterday before the race, if he finishes fourth or better, he punches his ticket.”

Cloud Computing

Preakness Stakes Aftermath Part 1

The day after winning the Preakness Stakes (G1) in an upset, Cloud Computing was set to leave Baltimore and the Pimlico Race Course and return to his Belmont Park home. Trainer Chad Brown left the night before, but before leaving his discussed the possibility of Cloud Computing running in the Belmont Stakes (G1), the third and final leg of the Triple Crown. Cloud Computing

“We haven’t ruled it [Belmont Stakes] out,” said Brown. “We’re just going to evaluate the horse this week and probably by next weekend we may have a decision.”

As for Belmont Stakes runner-up, Classic Empire, his trainer Mark Casse said running in the Belmont Stakes is a possibility.

“Right now I’d say there’s a very good shot he’s going to run in the Belmont,” said Casse. “But we won’t make that (decision yet). We’ll see how he acts and does everything.”

If Classic Empire does run in the Belmont Stakes, Casse mentioned an equipment change could be in order, saying the removal of blinkers could keep his charge engaged. Casse believes Classic Empire, who was leading after the final turn, might have been caught off guard by Cloud Computing’s late surge.

“If I could do it all over again, the only thing I would do differently is I would take the blinkers off him. I’m not so sure how much he saw that horse coming,” said Casse. “He dug back in, but the other horse had some momentum on him, and if you watch him going on out, he took off again.”

Senior Investment

Senior Investment Puts in Final Preakness Work

Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (G3) winner Senior Investment put in his final work at Keeneland in preparation for the Preakness Stakes (G1). Senior Investment was ridden by jockey Channing Hill, under the watchful eye of trainer Kenny McPeek. They would be timed completing the five-furlong work in 1:02 and would gallop out to six furlongs in a time of 1:14. The final time was satisfactory after things got off to a slow start with early fractions of :13 and :25 2/5. Senior Investment

“It was just a maintenance work. Good gallop out,” said McPeek.

“He went off good. Everything was super solid. Nice and normal—just an everyday move. He came home good,” said Hill. Hill was on top of Senior Investment when he won the Lexington Stakes and also rode him to a sixth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2).

“He’s just such a cool guy. His mentality gets him a long way. He’s just so calm and relaxed. He does anything you ask him to, and he loves running by horses,” continued Hill. “He was great getting to the quarter pole. Once we lost our company, he stayed on business, but I think he prefers chasing someone down. We’re going into this race good and hopefully we can upset some people.”

Senior Investment was purchased by McPeek at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale for $95,000. In eight career starts, he has won three and earned a shade over $207,080. Senior Investment is bred by Dixiana Farms.

Royal Mo

Royal Mo Injured in Last Preakness Workout

In his final timed workout before the Preakness Stakes (G1), Royal Mo suffered a devastating injury. Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens had flown in from Southern California to ride Royal Mo and he was the one who initially heard a loud “pop” during their workout. Royal Mo

“Initially I thought he just overreached and hit himself, but then there was a loud pop,” said Stevens.

“Unfortunately, when he hit the ground next, I knew he didn’t hit himself. He was just towing me around there, having a brilliant work. Then I heard it coming out of the turn. He looked after me and I looked after him.”

Once he pulled Royal Mo up, Stevens jumped off the colt around the 3/16 pole at Pimlico. Trainer John Shirreffs quickly darted out towards them from the grandstand. Bandages and a splint were put on on Royal Mo, who was then loaded onto an equine ambulance.

“He was in distress, but they had a good bandage on him and probably saved him,” said Stevens.

Tests were taken at Pimlico stakes barn, where x-rays revealed a “fracture of the right-front sesamoid.”

“There isn’t any other damage, so that’s a very good thing for him, for his life after racing,” said Shirreffs. “It’s very difficult. There were a lot of hopes and dreams with Royal Mo from Mr. and Mrs. Moss and my wife, Dottie. They were all excited to see him run, so they’re obviously devastated.”

Royal Mo was 2-2-1 and headed into the Preakness Stakes.

Always Dreaming Confirmed for Preakness Stakes

After winning the 143rd Kentucky Derby (G1), Always Dreaming will now begin preparations for the 142nd Preakness Stakes (G1) on May 20 in his quest of competing for the Triple Crown.

The invitation for Always Dreaming to compete in the Preakness Stakes was officially sent to Always Dreaming’s trainer Todd Pletcher by Maryland Jockey Club President/General Manager Sal Sinatra on the morning of Saturday, May 7.

“I congratulated him on winning the race and extended him the traditional invitation to the Preakness, which he accepted,” said Sinatra. “We are thrilled to have the Derby winner and he is excited about coming. He’s going into the Preakness barn and putting Always Dreaming in stall 40, which is historically reserved for the Derby winner. He said he wanted to keep the mojo going.”

Always Dreaming, who is owned by a tandem of St. Elias Stables, MeB Racing Stables, Siena Farm, Teresa Viola Racing Stables, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Brooklyn Boyz Stables, will arrive at Pimlico Race Course on May 9. He will be joined by fellow Preakness contender Royal Mo.

Other notable horses who might compete in the Preakness Stakes includes Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee and Classic Empire, if he is fully healed from a right eye issue. Girvin’s connections said they’ll consider the Preakness and Belmont Stakes (G1), while Gunnevera trainer Antonio Sano said a decision to run won’t be made until it’s discussed with majority owner Solomon Del-Valle.

One horse that likely won’t make the trip to Pimlico is Irish War Cry.

“I don’t see a lot of reason to go on to the Preakness at this point,” said Irish War Cry trainer Graham Motion. “He’s had a pretty good campaign this spring, so it’s likely we’ll skip that and make a plan to point for the Haskell (Invitational Stakes, G1).”

Always Dreaming Connections had a Kentucky Derby Plan and it Paid Off

Always Dreaming’s connections had a plan when it came to how to prepare for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and it all went down according to plan when he won the 143rd running of the roses. According to trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Vinnie Viola and Anthony Bonomo, they wanted Always Dreaming to peak in the Derby.

With only two races during his age-two campaign, everything had to go right leading up to the 2017 Derby, but most importantly, Always Dreaming had to execute. That’s easier said and done though, but Always Dreaming was up to the task.

First up was a maiden race at Tampa Bay Downs, and luckily John Velazquez, who rode Always Dreaming to Kentucky Derby glory, was in the area.

“We wanted him to go two turns, and he was ready to run,” said Pletcher. “On that particular day, Gulfstream had a seven-furlong race and a mile-and-an-eighth race. I didn’t want to run him a mile-an-eighth since he hadn’t run since August, and I didn’t really want to run him seven furlongs. Fortunately, Johnny had gone to OBS to ride for us and it worked out that he could be there the next day at Tampa. I said, ‘Hey, I think you’ll want to ride this horse.’ Everything just kind of fell into place.

“It was part of the plan that we had talked about, bringing him along instead of peaking too soon.”

Always Dreaming dominated the Tampa Bay assignment, winning by 11 and half lengths. Instead of racing in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) next, Always Dreaming’s connections decided an allowance race at Gulfstream to prepare for the Florida Derby (G1) would be better. They were right and Always Dreaming won that race by four lengths. Then the biggest test came next: the Florida Derby.

“The one thing that we wanted to do was have the horse peak [in the Kentucky Derby], not in the Florida Derby or not in the Fountain of Youth,” said Pletcher. “There was some risk with that plan. Because by not going in the Fountain of Youth, he had no [Derby qualifying] points at that stage of his career.

“But we felt like we were all comfortable taking our best shot at the Florida Derby as his only point‑eligible prep. And we all were comfortable with the fact that if something happened and he didn’t earn enough points, that we were willing to live with that decision.”

Always Dreaming would win the Florida Derby by five lengths and all that planning culminated in his eventual Kentucky Derby win.

Final Pre-Kentucky Derby Work for Irish War Cry

The 143rd annual Kentucky Derby (G1) is set for this weekend on May 6. All of the top contenders are putting in their final training sessions in preparation for this year’s Run for the Roses. One such contender is Irish War Cry. He final pre-Derby work took place at Fair Hill Training Centre on April 30, where he ran six furlongs in a time of 1:13 1/5 under the watchful eye of trainer Graham Motion.

The Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) winner ran under jockey Rajiv Maragh and in the company of Providence Road.

“I wanted him to have a decent work but not overdo it, and I think that’s exactly what he did,” said Motion. “Rajiv was anxious to see how he’d settle behind another horse, I thought it would be good for him to feel that himself, and he was happy with the way he did it. To be really corny, we ‘ticked all the boxes,’ pretty much.”

Maragh’s first time riding Irish War Cry was at the Wood Memorial and he was pleased with their final pre-Derby workout.

“I’ve never been on him directly behind another horse, so I just wanted to see if that was an option, how he would react,” said Maragh. “He was perfect, he did everything I was hoping he would. He didn’t react in any negative way at all.

“His workout was fantastic, he was in such a great flow and he did it well within himself. This horse is just such a fabulous horse to ride because he does anything you ask of him.”

Irish War Cry finished with the fifth-most Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points (110).

Weber City Miss Favorite Jenda’s Agenda Scratched Pre-Race; Lights of Medina Wins

Heading into April 22nd’s Weber City Miss, all eyes were on Jenda’s Agenda. She was the odds-on favorite going into the 1 1/16-mile race for three-year-old fillies that was tapped as a “Win and You’re In” event for the May 19 $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2).

Unfortunately for Jenda’s Agenda, the Laurel Park track veterinarian surprisingly scratched her pre-race because she wasn’t pleased with how she jogged getting off the van from her trip to the track from Delaware Park. Rain turned the track into a wet and sloppy one, and trainer Larry Jones considered the scratch a blessing in disguise not having to run in such horrible weather racing conditions.

Jenda’s Agenda was undefeated in her previous three career starts, a record made even more impressive when she didn’t train all that much for the Caesar’s Wish thanks to cold temperatures.

“She ran very, very well,” said Jones referring to the Caesar’s Wish performance. “The thing about that race, I was just awful proud of surviving it. We had shipped her out of New Orleans and that filly had only been able to go to the track one day out of 12. She had been hung in the barn just having to (walk the) shed row for that, so I was just awful proud to get out of that race in one piece and with a victory.”

Lights of Medina became the new odds-on favorite following Jenda Agenda’s scratch and she would win the Weber City Miss in a time of 1:45.22. Forever Liesl finished second and Frank’s Folly was third.