Divining Rod

Divining Rod Close To Comeback

It’s hard to remember the runner-ups to American Pharoah because that particular champion captured our attention so vividly. Divining Rod is one of those horses, having placed third at the Preakness Stakes in 2015. Overall, the now four-year old colt for Laei Stable is 2-1-5 in 9 attempts. His last outing was the only time he placed off the proverbial podium.

That race was the Smarty Jones, a grade-three stakes challenge which runs in late August at Prax in Pennsylvania. Consistency is key, especially for horse players who are looking for horses to build exotic bets around, or just secure a safe show bet. For most of last year, Divining Rod was that type of horse, but he came out of the Smarty Jones with some lingering problems.

Trainer Arnoud Delacour admitted that Divining Rod had endured some wear and tear over the course of a gruelling 2015 schedule that saw him take part in seven races and that workload caught up to him by the end of last summer. “We felt that he didn’t really run his race, so he went for a checkup at Rood and Riddle (Equine Hospital) in Kentucky with Dr. Bramlage. He found a little, little thing that needed some time off, just wear and tear that you get when you run hard races, especially when you’re on the Triple Crown trail. It’s tough on the horses,” Delacour noted. “There was a bunch of little stuff that needed to be addressed and he needed time off for that.”

It’s been nearly a year since Divining Rod has last seen the track and Delacour was quick to point out that he is as consistent as the days of the week. That’s why the trainer, along with his connections and horse palyers, are anticipating his return. “He’s very consistent. He’s a neat horse. I’m pretty excited to bring him back to competition. Also with age, he can be even better,” Delacour said. “He’s got the two-other-than condition, so I’ll probably try to bring him back in an allowance. There’s no point going into a hard race. It’s going to be almost a year off so we’ll find a good spot for him and take it from there.”

According to Delcaour, Divining Rod is aiming for a return during the summer and will likely aim towards stakes races in the fall. How hard he runs the four-year old son of Tapit remains to be seen, but it will be great to have this competitor back in action.

50-50 Chance Forever d’Oro Runs at Belmont

Trainer Dallas Stewart said Forever d’ora is under consideration to run the June 11 $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) following his May 29 maiden win at Belmont Park.

“We’ve got to get back to training the horse, but we’re tossing it around,” said Stewart. “I’m 50-50 on it right now.”

The half brother of graded stakes winners Forever Unbridled and Unbridled Forever, the homebred Forever d’Oro was 0-2 in his first two starts, coming in fifth place in each of his two maiden special weight races.

“I’ve always liked the horse,” said Stewart. “He’s a horse that got started a little late, but I thought he ran pretty well the first time. He’s a beautifully bred horse. Then he ran (on the undercard) Derby Day and just got in a lot of traffic in the race. Even though the race was a mile and an eighth, he never really got a chance to run.”

Things changed on a dime for Forever d’Oro in his third race, when he threw his maiden status to the curb in winning the 1 1/16-mile contest at Belmont.

“He broke kind of sideways and he was way, way back,” said Stewart. “He is a horse that can lay up close. He’s got a little bit of speed. He just didn’t get off good, I think, because of the way he was standing in the gate. But he really finished great. He got out in the middle of the track and really ran well. I think if he would’ve broke with the rest of them, he would’ve been spectacular in that race.”

Speaking of Forever Unbridled, she will race for the first time in eight weeks at the June 11 Ogden Phipps (gr. I).

Penn Oaks Preview

Biggest Day of Racing at Penn National Starts with the Penn Oaks

Rain showers could hit the track in Grantville, PA on Friday and Sunday, but Saturday’s biggest race day at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course looks good. Four stakes races are scheduled including Race 1, the $200,000 Penn Oaks. A field of seven sophomore fillies will take to the turf going 1-mile.

Pricedtoperfection is the lone graded-stakes winner in the field, and trainer Chad Brown looks for a repeat of her effort when she won the 1-mile Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream at 9-2 odds. He’s now the morning line favorite at 9-5 with Joel Rosario returning to ride after being aboard the winner January 30. A third place finish followed in the Memories of Silver Stakes at Aqueduct April 24, and she’ll try to come off the pace again as Brown defends his Oaks title following last year’s win with Strict Compliance.

Todd Pletcher-trained Sweet Victory is the second choice at 5-2 and enters off back-to-back wins including May 7 when she captured the 1 1/16 mile Honey Ryder at Gulfstream in her first try in stakes company. She was the fourth choice that day at 5-1 and closed for the win despite going wide throughout. She breezed four furlongs at Monmouth May 27 and jockey Javier Castello will try to ride her to another Sweet Victory.

Conquest Serenade is trainer Mark Casse’s choice here as his star filly Catch a Glimpse will try to beat the boys in the feature $500,000 Penn Mile. Conquest Serenade has won two of her last three races including last time out in allowance company May 6 at Churchill Downs. That race was 6 ½ furlongs on the dirt when she won on the lead as the 4-5 favorite. She broke her maiden the race prior at Keeneland going seven furlongs on the dirt, and now the daughter of Unbridled’s Song switches to the turf. Tough to support her at first asking going further on the turf, but her trainer remains confident.

“She’s a young filly, but has a lot of talent,” said Casse. “The Oaks will mark several firsts for her.  First stakes, first going long and first on grass. We think she is a wonderful filly and has trained on the well on the turf.”

Undefeated fillies Involuntary and Tippling Ways will try to score as longer shots, and Involuntary has the best shot at 8-1. She broke her maiden at first asking at Tampa Bay Downs April 8 and made it 2-for-2 May 20 with an impressive front-running score on the Pimlico turf as the 2-1 favorite against 13 rivals. She could run clear again here in her stakes debut.

The Penn Oaks also serves as one of the races in the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge Event, a year-long incentive competition comprised of 22 races worth more than $5 million purse money that offers bonuses such as waived entry fees at PNGI tracks the following year and a trip to the PNGI owned M Resort in Las Vegas

Post Time for Race 1, the Penn Oaks, is at 6:05 P.M. EST as the start of an all-stakes Pick 4 culminating with the Penn Mile.

Fillies 3YO, 1 Mile (Turf)

  1. Horse, Jockey, Odds, Trainer
  2. Tippling Ways, Angel Serpa, 15-1, Tim Woolley
  3. Conquest Serenade, Florent Geroux, 9-2, Mark E. Casse
  4. Outsider Art, Joe Bravo, 6-1, Jonathan E. Sheppard
  5. Pricedtoperfection, Joel Rosario, 9-5, Chad C. Brown
  6. Sweet Victory, Javier Castellano, 5-2, Todd A. Pletcher
  7. Lottie, Edgar S. Prado, 8-1, K. Carmouchie, Graham Motion
  8. Involuntary, Trevor McCarthy, 8-1, Arnaud Delacour


Stellar Wind ready for Vanity Stakes

Stellar Wind Ready To Take On Beholder

The Vanity Stakes is undoubtedly the most intriguing race this coming weekend. The one-mile dirt challenge hosted by Santa Anita Park will feature Beholder, a horse that is riding a seven-race win streak in to her 23rd competition. She is widely considered unbeatable at this point, but at least one horse – Stellar Wind – might be able to prove otherwise.

Beholder’s unreal record of 16-3-0 in 21 races is the stuff of legend and anyone who has seen the six-year old mare in action knows that she’s something special. Her connections are confident that she could beat the boys at the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic which is her intended end goal this season. She was supposed to compete last year against American Pharoah but was held out due to a sudden fever.

Her races have included smaller fields because nobody sees the point in running against her. In the Adoration Stakes, the field touted just six competitors and nobody was close to Beholder at the finish line. The Vanity Stakes will feature an expected field of seven, and almost everyone expects this race to be nothing more than a formality for Beholder on route to the world championships.

But even her trainer, Richard Mandella, knows that the upcoming renewal of the Vanity Stakes will be so much more. “It’s a real race this time,” said Beholder’s trainer. That’s because of Stellar Wind, perhaps the only racemare in the country capable of taking Beholder on in the female classes (the argument for Songbird is there too).

John Sadler, who trains Stellar Wind, is fairly confident about the Vanity Stakes but knows that there’s a looming shadow competing alongside his prized champion. “We’re in a route race and there’s seven horses, so the rail is ok,” Sadler commented. “I’d have preferred post three or four, but the post is what it is. The first race back, we wanted to run at home. There’s a lot of things we like about the race. Except Beholder.”

Stellar Wind herself last raced at the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where she was caught at the finish line by Stopchargingmaria in an upset loss. Sadler and the Hronis Racing ownership team remain committed to her despite this, and there’s definite justification. The four-year old is now 5-1-1 in just 8 races total.

While there will be five other entrants in the 2016 Vanity Stakes, the larger sentiment is that this is a two-horse race. An outside shooting speedster like Taris is programmed to tackle a dirt mile extremely well, so she’s also a top consideration. But the showdown remains Stellar Wind and Beholder. Is the former ready to take down one of the best champions in all of thoroughbred racing? We’ll find out on Saturday.

For the record, I wouldn’t bet against Beholder but I would definitely stack her with Stellar Wind in a box no matter the odds.

Pleasant Acres Adds Ride on Curlin

Pleasant Acres Stallions farm owners Joe and Helen Barbazon out of Morriston, Florida, welcomed a new stud for the 2017 breeding season to their stable in the form of Ride On Curlin. The stud fee for Ride On Curlin has yet to be announced.

“It has been my goal since opening a stallion station in 2014 to bring new bloodlines to Florida,” said Joe Barbazon. “Ride On Curlin fits our program by being the first son of Curlin to come to our state and is out of a brilliant female family. I look forward to diversifying my broodmare band to complement this fine young stallion.”

In 22 career starts, the Kentucky-bred Ride On Curling has earned $795,175. The bay son of Curlin was special from the get-go, setting an Ellis Park track record after running 5 1/2 furlongs in a time of 1:03. Upon retirement, the famous Curling was the leading money winning in North America with an impressive sum of of $10,501,800. Curling was twice named Horse of the Year (2007 and 2008), and was a 2014 Hall of Fame inductee.

2014 was a banner year for Ride on Curling, with two third place finishes in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) and Rebel Stakes (gr. II), as well as two second place finishes in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

“Ride on Curlin is a stunning individual,” said Pleasant Acres Director of Bloodstock Michelle Hemingway. “Being a track record-setter in July of his 2-yr-old campaign will make him very attractive to Florida breeders. In my mind, Curlin looks to be an up-and-coming sire of sires, and we are so pleased to have the first son of Curlin to stand in Florida right here at Pleasant Acres Stallions.”

Ride On Curlin moves on to Pleasant Acres

Ride On Curlin Joins Pleasant Acres Stallions

The runner-up from the 2014 Preakness Stakes is heading to Pleasant Acres Stallions to join the stud roster. Daniel Dougherty announced intentions to move Ride On Curlin to the Florida based farm located in Morriston. He will partake in the 2017 breeding season.

Ride On Curlin earned $795,175 in his 22 career starts with highlights coming during his three-year old season where he placed 7th at the Kentucky Derby, 2nd at the Preakness Stakes and 11th in the Belmont Stakes. This was the same year California Chrome almost captured the Triple Crown. As a son of Curlin, the new five-year old horse never truly lived up to his potential and failed to win a stakes race. He stands with a 3-3-5 record over those 22 starts, having won a pair of allowances along with a maiden.

Even still, the bloodstook of Curlin is at an all time high since Exaggerator’s upset victory at the 2016 Preakness Stakes. It will be interesting to see if the other horses he sired garner as much attention from stallion farms across the country. Ride On Curlin moving to Florida is also a considerable move for thoroughbred racing within the state.

“It has been my goal since opening a stallion station in 2014 to bring new bloodlines to Florida,” Joe Barbazon said in a release. “Ride On Curlin fits our program by being the first son of Curlin   to come to our state and is out of a brilliant female family. I look forward to diversifying my broodmare band to complement this fine young stallion.”

“Ride on Curlin is a stunning individual,” Michelle Hemmingway said. Hemmingway is the bloodstock agent for Pleasant Acres Stallions. “Being a track record-setter in July of his 2-yr-old campaign will make him very attractive to Florida breeders. In my mind, Curlin looks to be an up-and-coming sire of sires, and we are so pleased to have the first son of Curlin to stand in Florida right here at Pleasant Acres Stallions.”

Exaggerator arriving at Belmont Stakes for the final leg of the Triple Crown

Exaggerator Arrives for Final Leg of the Triple Crown

Exaggerator arrived at Belmont Park on Sunday, May 29th to compete in the final leg of the Triple Crown. The small journey, which spans about 300 miles, was manned by a four-person crew and was reportedly to be uneventful. No news is good news.

Driven by Julie Clark, assistant trainer to Keith Desormeaux, Exaggerator arrived safely and was taken to Barn 29 by his groom, Victor Vargas. He will be stationed there for the next two weeks as he preps for the Belmont Stakes on June 11th. As expected, he will be favored when the $1.5 million race kicks off.

For now, all we wanted to see was Exaggerator being his old self upon touching down at the New York track. Like Nyquist, the Preakness Stakes winner is undergoing a light training schedule that is intended to keep him fresh for the final leg of the Triple Crown. The Belmont Stakes is a 1 1/2 mile gauntlet, meant to test the mettle of the best horses in the three-year old class. That’s why it’s called the Test of the Champion.

So far, everything’s up to par. “That is very normal for him,” Clark noted. “They usually walk two days after a race and then walk on Thursdays and Sundays, and then we fit in another walk day—just to be make it more exciting for the hotwalkers.”

“The first day back (to train on May 24), he was actually pretty strong, and the second time, (May 28), he was very relaxed,” she went on. “We have a different rider, Peedy [Landry], who just has a way of putting the horses to sleep and we love that. He went on a loose rein and was happy to go whatever speed Peedy wanted him to, without trying to dictate.”

The oddsmakers and horse players around the country will be pulling for the horse, hoping that Exaggerator arrives at the finish line first in the final leg of the Triple Crown.

Rainbow 6 Solved Saturday at Pimlico

Rainbow 6 Pays Out $230,597 For One Bettor

The 20-cent Rainbow 6 hit Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore when Ruston Vow captured the 10th-race finale for a $230,597.20 payoff.

Two horses were live for the Rainbow 6 jackpot into the last race, and Ruston Vow made a lucky winner of a Pimlico patron when the 3-year-old finished first on the turf, running the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.10 at 9-2 odds to pay $11.80.

A total of $54,251 was wagered into the popular multi-race wager on Saturday, which included a carryover of $187,186.95 from Friday’s program. The winning numbers in the six-race sequence were 2-5-8-6-7-1.

The Rainbow 6 carryover jackpot is only paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 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.

On Sunday, the Rainbow 6 begins anew covering Races 4-9 and includes the featured eighth race, a $35,000 allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up going five furlongs on the turf course which attracted a field of 12.

Live racing will continue Monday, May 30 Memorial Day with post time at 1:10 ET.

Governor Malibu

Who Is Governor Malibu?

There is currently a ten-horse field for the 2016 Belmont Stakes that is largely made of up familiar faces from both the derby trail and the first two legs of the Triple Crown. One new shooter, however, has emerged and that’s Governor Malibu. So who exactly is this horse?

Governor Malibu is the son of Malibu Moon out of Akilana. He is trained by Chris Clement, who won the 2014 Belmont Stakes with Tonalist. The three-year old has posted a record of 2-4-1 in seven races, most recently placing second at the Peter Pan Stakes in an effort that inspired Clement to submit his name for the Belmont Stakes. This is presumably because both are run on the same track.

“When you run so well in the Peter Pan, I had to consider the Belmont Stakes,” Clement stated. “He has never stopped stepping up. We came from a New York-bred stakes in the winter to the [Federico Tesio], which he won but was disqualified. We ran a really good race in the Peter Pan, finishing well all the way to the wire.”

Clement went on to admit that the Belmont Stakes are a rather formidable challenge for Governor Malibu but was adamant in giving the horse a chance. “He wants to go long on dirt, he trains at Belmont, and he belongs to people who really enjoy New York racing. It is ambitious, but I think he deserves a shot at it.”

It’s obvious that the still unproven Governor Malibu will enter the race as a longshot, but it’s not unheard of for those types of bets to come through. D’Tara won at 38-1 back in 2008, while Ruler on Ice claimed the title at 20/1 in 2011. Most recently, Palice Malice won for Todd Pletcher in 2013 at 15/1. While a new shooter in the Triple Crown, it’s important to remember that Governor Malibu will be just one month removed from the Peter Pan Stakes. He is in competition shape. Whether that means it’s enough to challenge a strong three-year old class remains to be seen.


Miller Earns Millennium Farms Promotion

On May 26th, Millennium Farms announced the promotion of longtime Farm Manager Bobby Miller to the position of Vice Chairman. The vacated role of Farm Manager will be bestowed upon current Assistant Farm Manager Jose Rodarte.

Miller, a graduate of the University of Kentucky, has 40 years of equine experience under his belt, which includes spending the last ten as Millennium Farms’ Farm Manager. Before that, he spent 18 years at Walmac International in a similar role.

“Bobby is one of the most respected horsemen in our industry. He has been the architect of the strong foundation of horsemanship and bloodstock management that our customers have come to expect and appreciate,” said Millennium Farms Owner Ro Parra. “He has been such an integral part of our operation that I can’t imagine not being able to lean on Bobby for advice, counsel, and direction going forward.”

Rodarte is no slouch himself when it comes to equine experience. He’s been with the company for 14 years and has experience in a multitude of different areas such as handling stallions and working with broodmares.

“I have worked with Jose for over 20 years and it has been a pleasure watching him grow personally and professionally. He is an excellent horseman, has top notch ethical standards, and has earned the respect of employees and customers,” said Miller.

Miller continued: “I decided to make the transition now because I am 100% confident that Jose will make an outstanding farm manager. “I look forward to the next stage of my career. I plan to continue to live at the farm and be readily available for Jose, J Ted, Ro, and our customers.”