Mike Hushion Retires From Training

Respected trainer Mike Hushion has reached the end of his career following two races this past weekend in the New York Racing Association (NYRA) circuit. The 69-year-old Hushion announced his plans to step away from training last September.

“I think like anybody my age, I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” said Hushion. “My owners have all been wonderful and this is the right time for it, that’s all. (The runners) keep us busy. It gives us a little something to do, but the winding down has gone pretty smoothly.”

“I’ve been with him for 25 years, so that pretty much says it all,” said long-time client Barry K. Schwartz said. “We’ve had a great relationship. He’s a terrific guy and a wonderful trainer. It’s sad to come to an end but I’m very happy for him. It’d be nice for him to win with one of them but, regardless, he’s done such a great job with so many horses over the years. We’ve had some amazing times together, a lot of highs.”

Hushion battled and beat leukemia in 2015 and plans to spend the early part of his retirement with this three adult children — sons Ryan and Quinn, and daughter Casey — as well his eight grandchildren. There’s a ninth grandchild on the way, so Hushion should be plenty busy with family time.

The 69-year-old trainer began his career in the mid-70s, with his first winner coming in 1975 — Tugboat Ryan. Since that initial victory, Hushion has gone on to train 1,426 winners and earned over $52 million in purses.

“With my past experience, the one thing I was sure that I didn’t want to do is go from here to basically the hospital,” said Hushion. “I wanted to take some time and enjoy everything that’s supposed to be in between.

“As soon as I made the phone calls to my owners, there’s never been a doubt in my mind, and that’s a good sign. My horses will be getting good care where they go, and I’ll move on and see what happens. Spend a little time out in the big world. We’ll see what comes along, but I have some ideas. No paying jobs, though.”

Getting Set for the Saratoga Summer Stakes Races

Saratoga Summer Meet Features 35 Graded Stakes Including 16 Grade 1’s

The best racing of the summer season starts this week with Del Mar out West in California and the Saratoga Summer Meet in Saratoga Springs, NY. Racing fans and horsemen look forward to these meets, which draw the best racing, and betting, in the world. The 40-day Saratoga Summer Meet starts Friday, July 21 and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 4.

During the 2017 Summer Meet, Saratoga hosts 35 graded stakes races, including 16 Grade I races – 13 on the dirt track and 3 on turf. A total of 69 stakes worth $18.775 million in purses are set for this summer at Saratoga, the oldest track in the U.S. and voted one of the top-10 sports venues of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated, .

The two richest races at the carnival is the $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 26, and the $1.2 million Whitney Stakes, the first ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup Challenge race of the Saratoga meet. The Travers is the traditional midsummer highlight for 3-year-olds, and the world’s best race horse, Arrogate, announced his arrival with a record-breaking performance in the 2016 Travers Stakes.

Travers day is August 26, and the biggest day of racing at Saratoga with six Grade I races including four ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. They include:

  • $700,000 Personal Ensign – (BC Distaff)
  • $500,000 Ballerina – (BC Filly & Mare Sprint)
  • $600,000 Forego – (BC Dirt Mile)
  • $1 Million Sword Dancer – (BC Turf)

Five graded stakes headline opening weekend at Saratoga, and the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) for top 3-year-olds follows next Saturday, July 29.

The Saratoga Race Course Guide provides all the information you need, whether you are a first-time track goer looking for the basics, or a life-long veteran looking for what’s new this year. The biggest and richest races of the summer at Saratoga are listed below. Let the races begin!

Sat., July 22 – Diana (G1), 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares on the turf – $500,000
Sat., July 29 – Jim Dandy (G2), 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds – $600,000                                                                                                                                                     Sat., July 29 – Vanderbilt (G1) 6 furlongs for 3-year-olds & up – $350,000
Sat., Aug. 5 – The Longines Test (G1), 7 furlongs for 3-year-old fillies – $500,000
Sat., Aug. 5 – The Whitney (G1), 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds & up – $1,200,000
Sat., Aug. 12 – Fourstardave Handicap (G1), 1 mile on the turf for 3-year-olds & up – $500,000
Sat, Aug. 19 – Alabama (G1), 1 ¼ mile for 3-year-old fillies – $600,000
Sat., Aug. 26 – Forego (G1), 7 furlongs for 3-year-olds and up – $600,000
Sat., Aug. 26 – H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1), 7 furlongs for 3-year-olds – $500,000
Sat., Aug. 26 – Ketel One Ballerina (G1), 7 furlongs for fillies & mares 3-year-olds & up – $500,000
Sat., Aug. 26 – Personal Ensign (G1), 1 1/8 miles for fillies & mares 3-year-olds & up – $700,000
Sat., Aug. 26 – Sword Dance (G1), 1 ½ miles on turf for 3-year-olds & up – $1,000,000
Sat., Aug. 26 – Travers (G1), 1 ¼ miles for 3-year-olds – $1,250,000
Sat., Sept. 2 – Woodward (G1), 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds & up – $750,000                                                                                                                                         Sat., Sept 2 – Spinaway (G1), 7 furlongs for 2-year-old fillies – $350,000
Mon., Sept. 4 – Hopeful (G1), 7 furlongs for 2-year-olds – $350,000

2017 Indiana Derby results

Irap Crushes 2017 Indiana Derby

Going off as a 7/5 favorite in the 2017 Indiana Derby, Irap had a lot to prove. He had cruised to a win in the Ohio Derby just a month ago, but the stink of his 18th place finish in the Kentucky Derby was still fresh in people’s minds. There was simply a lot of ground to recover before cappers and players were firmly behind him once again.

Consider the mission accomplished…for now.

Wild Shot took the field out as the pace setter with opening half-mile fractions of :23.71 and :47.71 but dropped well out of the lead as the pack hit the home stretch. Jockey Mario Gutierrez made a definitive pass at that point and Irap did the rest, dusting the remainder of the field to a closing time of 1:42.21 over the 1 1/8th mile distance.

With a 2017 Indiana Derby win, trainer Doug O’Neill answered positively as to whether or not you have to consider the colt a contender. “I think you have to,” O’Neill replied. “He’s getting better with each race. We’ve learned so much from him. We just couldn’t be more happy than we are now. And Mario rode just a perfect race. We’re just very, very happy.”

Gutierrez shared that same feeling by addressing Irap’s development since a rough run in the first leg of this year’s Triple Crown. “He’s definitely grown up since then,” Gutierrez noted. “He was very unlucky in that race and he was a bit immature back then. He has matured a lot and he showed that today.”

Irap delivered$4.80, $3.20 and $2.60 with the 2017 Indiana Derby win while Coloneldarktemper was worth $9.60 and $5.80 in second. Untrapped finished third for the second time to Irap and was worth $2.80.

The next destination for Irap would logically be the Travers Stakes where he’s expected to run up against the top three-year-old colts in the country. With the 2017 Indiana Derby and 2017 Ohio Derby providing some much needed momentum, Irap could certainly add to the $1.3 million he’s already earned while improving his prestige wildly.

Handicapping the Indiana Derby

Indiana Derby Favorite Irap May Not be so Handsome

The $500,000 Indiana Derby is set for Saturday, and it’s time to pick a winner. The Derby is race 9 and the last of six stakes on a strong 10-race program that includes the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G3) in race 8. While the American Graded Stakes Committee dropped both the Derby and Oaks to Grade 3’s this year, they still drew solid fields of 11 and 8 horses respectively.

Trainer Doug O’Neill saddles the favorite in both races for 3-year-olds with Mopotism (7-5) breaking from the outside post in the Oaks and Irap (8-5) drawing the No. 2 post in the Derby. O’Neill also trains the favorite in the Warrior Veterans Stakes, Gangster (5-2). O’Neill’s go to jockey Mario Gutierrez will ride all three favorites.

Have Fun betting Indiana Derby and All Stakes Pick Four

No Derby runners have more than two wins in their careers, but Irap is the lone millionaire having broke through for his maiden win in the Blue Grass Stakes to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, where he finished up the track in 18th place. But a victory in the Ohio Derby in late June when he finished well clear of Steve Asmussen-trained Untrapped (6-1) should have the Tiznow colt drawing plenty action as the favorite. Irap is the proven horse and best horse in the field, but will offer little value when wagering.

Awesome Saturday (8-1) is an up and comer for trainer Bret Calhoun who tries stakes company for the first time. He’s raced five times, all this year, and finished in the money each time with a pair of wins. His last race in June was an impressive 3-length win at this distance over Watch Me Whip (10-1), who drew the outside post for trainer Dale Romans. Brian Hernandez, Jr. has ridden Awesome Saturday in all his starts, and figures to be cashing in again Saturday night with a breakthrough win pushing the pace not too far-fetched.

Untrapped was 3rd behind Irap in the Ohio Derby, and while the cutback in distance may help him, the others mentioned including Hollywood Handsome (8-1) seem to be better shots. Hollywood Handsome fired a 5 furlong bullet work of 23 at the distance on July 3 and then breezed easy again for trainer Dallas Stewart on July 9 at Churchill. He should rebound well off his DNF performance in the Belmont when Florent Geroux was removed from the irons and did not finish. He was 4th in the Louisiana Derby in April, but the impressive performance was his allowance win when he won at this distance on the front end with a fast pace. Must include if you’re looking for a long shot winner and a score in your horizontal wagers.

The Derby is the cashing leg in an all-stakes pick four, and post time Saturday night is 9:49 ET.

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.

2017 Delaware Handicap preview

Songbird Preps for 2017 Delaware Handicap

The 2017 Delaware Handicap isn’t pretending to be much of a competition. After all, Songbird is coming in a heavy 1/5 favorite so the oddsmakers and handicappers are calling this is a done deal. Such is life when a competitor is as proven as Songbird, who remains 12-1-0 in 13 starts.

Most of us won’t be interested in what Songbird does until she goes toe-to-toe with the best female runners in the world in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where she placed second to Beholder by a nose in arguably the most exhilarating finish from last season. She has since rebounded by decimating a field at the 2017 Ogden Phipps that included noted challengers like Paid Up Subscriber.

The Fox Hill Farms superstar won’t face a significantly threatening batch of rivals in the 2017 Delaware Handicap either. Weep No More is a distant second choice at 6/1, considering that Songbird is 1/5, and is coming off a harrowing sixth place finish in the Fleur de Lis Stakes. It’s not far off her regular results. Weep No More also finished fifth in the Matron Stakes.

There’s potential for a big upset, and if you’re looking for that play than look no further than Martini Stakes. Obviously this is a stretch. Songbird is a no-brainer, but Martini Stakes is coming off a second place finish int he Obeah Stakes and is a home grown product with experience on this track. The only time Songbird has ventured away from California to compete is when she crushed the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.

Miss Mo Kelly, Line Of Best Fit and Home In round out the 2017 Delaware Handicap as longshots.

This one’s a wrap, folks. But are you really going to miss a chance to see the best female racehorse in the world? I didn’t think so. Anytime you get to see Songbird, it’s a damn treat.

2017 Delaware Handicap – Saturday, July 15th at Delaware Park
1 1/4 Miles – 3+ Year Old Fillies – $750,000

PP HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY Wg OD
1 Miss Mo Kelly Kellyn Gorder Carol Cedeno 111 15-1
2 Martini Glass Keith Nations Jose Ferrer 115 8-1
3 Weep No More George Arnold II Joel Rosario 111 6-1
4 Line of Best Fit Keiron Magee TBA 112 12-1
5 Songbird Jerry Hollendorfer Mike Smith 124 1/5
6 Hone In Victoria Oliver Tyler Gaffalione 111 15-1

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
2017 king edward results

Go Bro Upsets 2017 King Edward at 44/1

All of the major action was at Woodbine Racetrack over this past weekend. While Holy Helena dusted the boys in the marquee event known as the Queen’s Plate with odds, and Green Mask made short work of his rivals in the Highlander Stakes as the odds on preference, Go Bro wasn’t going to let all the favorites have the fun. The six-year-old stunned the 2017 King Edward field as a 44/1 longshot.

To be clear, Go Bro was never a consideration for handicappers and that’s largely because he almost never runs in stakes races. So when we say “upset” we damn well mean it. Nobody saw this coming.

“He broke sharp and I knew we were going slow, so I let him be there. It set up very good,” jockey Jesse Campbell said before echoing a strange sentiment about the race. “I say it all time—I’d rather be lucky than good. The race went our way and the horse showed up.”

The stunner was the first graded stakes victory for trainer Michael Keogh, who was last in the winner’s circle with Last Answer in the 2007 Nijinsky Stakes. It may have taken a decade to get back, but the 2017 King Edward stakes victory has to be just as sweet.

With the 2017 King Edward Stakes victory, Go Bro delivered a monsterous $91.30, $34.20, and $10.20 across the board. Hootenanny paid $8.20 and $4.70, and Tower of Texas was just $2.50 to show. Tower of Texas has to be the most disappointed after entering as the favorite.

It’s been a very modest career for Go Bro, who now holds a record of 4-6-3 over 20 starts and just $338,786 in career earnings. The 2017 King Edward Stakes win will likely end up being his career highlight, but it’ll be hard to ignore this tempting longshot when you see him on the board next. I’d rather bet on talent than luck, but if Jesse Campbell is back in the saddle then I might have to rethink my strategy.

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