Ben’s Cat Recovers from Colic Surgery

Ben’s Cat, the four-time Maryland Horse of the Year recipient, underwent colic surgery in order to fix an epiploic foramen entrapment. Dr. True Baker performed the surgery at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Kentucky. Ben’s Cat is now recovering under the watchful eye of Dr. Rana Bozorgmanesh at the McGee Medicine Center.

“In the short time Ben’s Cat has been in Kentucky, he has endeared himself to all that have been around him and cared for him,” said Spring Ridge Farm’s Christina Welker. Spring Ridge Farm is located close to Versailles, Kentucky. “His intelligence and demeanor are a true testament of his class as a racehorse.”

“I can assure all his loyal fans that every effort will be made to see him through to a full recovery and we are fortunate to have such skilled and high levels of equine medical care in our area.”

Spring Ridge welcomed Ben’s Cat to their facility on June 29 following the announcement of his retirement by Hall of Fame trainer King Leatherbury two days prior. The nine-year-old son of Parker’s Storm Cat raced 63 times during his career, compiling a respectable record of 32-9-7 and he earned $2,643,782. Of the 32 wins, Ben’s Cat won 26 stakes races.

From the Thirty Eight Paces mare Twofox, Ben’s Cat is the only horse to have won the Maryland Horse of the Year award four times. He earned the award every year from 2011 to 2014.

2016 Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association Awards Announced

The Pennsylvania Horse of the Year was named last week, and the award went to Finest City. She also won the Champion Older Female and Champion Female Sprinter awards. The awards were unveiled as part of the 38th annual Iroquois Awards Banquet that was hosted by the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association.

Finest City is the daughter of City Zip and was last year’s top state-bred runner, earning over $832,000 from eight starts. She won or placed in five graded stakes races. In addition to be named the Eclipse Champion Female Sprinter, Finest City won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) last year and also set the Los Alamitos track record when she won the Great Lady M Stakes (G2) in a time of 1:14.48.

Below is a list of the rest of the 2016 Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association award winners:

  • 2-Year-Old Filly: Rose Tree
2-Year-Old Male: Downhill Racer
  • 3-Year-Old Filly: Lucy N Ethel
  • 3-Year-Old Male & Male Sprinter: Tom’s Ready
  • Older Male: Page McKenney
  • Female Turf Horse: Al’s Gal
  • Male Turf Horse: Granny’s Kitten
Broodmare of the Year: Be Envied
  • Stallion of the Year: Jump Start
  • Steeplechaser: Senior Senator
  • PA Preferred: PA-Sired, PA-Bred Female: Disco Chick
  • PA-Sired, PA-Bred Male & Leading Breeding Fund Recipient (Horse):
Roxbury N Overton
  • Leading Total Breeding Fund Recipient: Northview Stallion Station
  • Leading Breeder Award Earner: Thomas G. McClay
  • Leading Overall Breeder of Pennsylvania-Breds: Blackstone Farm

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.

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.


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, 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.

Penn Mile Preview

Competitive Field of 10 Set for $500,000 Penn Mile Stakes

One of the biggest races of the weekend to break from the gate June 3rd is the $500,000 Penn Mile. The 5th running of the Grade II race is on the turf at Penn National Race Course with 10 fairly accomplished 3-year-olds lined up in a very competitively priced race. Eight of the runners were stakes-placed in their most recent race, and three trainer’s saddle of pair of horses – Mike Maker, Todd Pletcher and George Weaver.

The favorite Big Score (5-2) and Cistron (6-1) ship in from Southern California to challenge Frostmourne (3-1), who breaks from the outside. Frostmourne had a pair of wins last year and was runner-up in his 3-year-old debut in the Woodhaven Stakes following a lengthy layoff. He posted his best Equibase Speed Figure (ESF) of 102 in that race. Big Score also had his best ESF (108) in his last race, a 3rd place finish in the American Turf Stakes. He won the Transylvania Stakes (G3) in April at Keeneland with a 107 ESF and is the only horse in the field with a graded-stakes win. Multiple Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano rides him for the third-straight time. Castellano has owned Penn National, winning 9 of 17 stakes races at the track.

Time To Travel (8-1) makes his turf debut but is expected to make a good move on the surface. He posted a 102 ESF in an April sprint and finished 2nd in the Sir Barton Stakes in his most recent race.

Bronson (4-1) and Bonus Points (8-1) are the pair for Pletcher, and Bronson won the English Channel last month while Bonus Points captured the Parx Derby on the main track. Mo Maverick (8-1) is expected to push the pace, while Prize Fight (8-1) and Shiraz (8-1).  Holiday Stone (12-1) is the long shot in the field, but he was a close 2nd to Big Score in the Transylvania and posted a strong 106 EFS.

The field and post position with best Equibase Speed Figure in parentheses.

  1. Shiraz (94)
  2. Bonus Points (90)
  3. Prize Fight (89)
  4. Bronson (99)
  5. Time To Travel (102)
  6. Cistron (100)
  7. Mo Maverick (99)
  8. Holiday Stone (106)
  9. Big Score (108)
  10. Frostmourne (102)

The Penn Mile is Race 9 on Saturday, June 3 and is preceded by the $200,000 Mountain View Stakes (1 1/8 miles), $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup (5 furlongs turf), $200,000 Penn Oaks (1 mile turf), $100,000 Danzig Stakes (6 furlongs), $100,000 Lyphard Stakes (1 1/16 miles turf) and $100,000 New Start Stakes (6 furlongs).

Twisted Tom 2017 Belmont Stakes

New Shooter Twisted Tom Enters Belmont

The Belmont Stakes will entertain a new shooter by the name of Twisted Tom. This three-year-old gelding out of Giant’s Causeway is fresh off a three-race win streak where he was last out winning the Private Terms and Frederico Tesio. He’s also trained by Chad Brown, who saw Cloud Computing claim the Preakness Stakes just a couple weeks ago.

Brown has been lightly drilling Twisted Tom ahead of the final leg of the Triple Crown and seems very enthusiastic about the gelding’s chances. “This horse has continued to improve all year, and more of the same today. It was a nice, strong work from him.” Brown continued that the Belmont Stakes is a, “huge class test for this horse, but I love the way he’s developed. I do think he can stay a mile and a half, I think the longer the better for him, so I’m anxious to get him out to that distance, but it’ll be a tough field, a large field.”

With Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing withdrawn from contention, the door is wide open for any number of contenders to take the 1 1/2 mile challenge at Belmont Park. Amongst those vying for the title are J Boys Echo, Tapwrit, Irish War Cry and Gormley. Classic Empire is expected to be the favorite.

Cloud Computing won the Preakness thanks in large part to being a new shooter, which Brown admitted was part of the strategy. Could this be the same tale weaving with new talent? It appears to be that way. Twisted Tom is an upward trending contender.”He appreciated the time after the win in the Tesio and has had a nice string of works since then, so the horse seems to be sitting on a new top again,” Brown said.

Despite the fact that his owners at Cobra Farm will have to pay a small $75,000 fee to run him in the Belmont, Twisted Tom appears bound for the race on June 10th and is undeniably a consideration amongst a pretty tight field. Brown may be working the system a little bit to his advantage, but results are results. For him…and for you.

Preakness Meet at Pimlico Ends Memorial Day

Mandatory Payouts at Pimlico on Memorial Day

Memorial Day concludes Pimlico’s short 12-day meet, and the race course will offer mandatory payouts in the 20-cent Rainbow 6, 50-cent Late Pick 5 and $1 Super Hi-5 wagers on closing day of the Preakness Meet Monday May 29. Pimlico set attendance and handle records for the Preakness Stakes when over 140,000 fans watched 13-1 shot Cloud Computing chase down Classic Empire  in the deep stretch to win the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes. Those fans wagered over $97,000,000 on on Pimlico’s 14-day race program on Preakness Stakes day.

The Rainbow 6 jackpot is paid out only when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 60 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool. However, on days when a mandatory payout is scheduled the entire pool is shared by those holding tickets with the most winners.

Last Thursday, one lucky bettor hit a life-changing 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot of $185,957.24 from a $420 investment purchased through the Xpressbet wagering platform’s Oregon hub.

Also on Preakness weekend, Hall of Fame horseman Steve Asmussen earned a $50,000 bonus from a total pool of $100,000 offered to trainers who run a minimum of five horses in the 15 stakes races over Preakness weekend. Asmussen totaled 38 points while trainer Mark Casse finished 2nd with 33 points to earn $25,000. Points were accumulated for finishing first (10 points), second (seven), third, (five), fourth (three) and having a starter (one) in the selected stakes races.

Maryland racing shifts to Laurel Park for the summer meet beginning Friday, June 9 and continuing through Sunday, Aug. 20.