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.

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.