Danzing Candy presses in KDFW Pool 3

KDFW Pool 3 Closes With Four Contenders

When we began this long trail towards the Kentucky Derby, there was one horse to beat and one only. That honor belonged to Nyquist. Then Mohaymen started to pick up steam, followed shortly by Mor Spirit. A three-horse competition began between the top horses and everyone else seemed like canon fodder. The KDFW Pool 3 opened on Friday, but it was Saturday that saw a huge surprise.

Danzing Candy has joined the fray as a surging outside shot in derby futures, but still has a long way to go to prove he can hang with the big boys.

Mohaymen essentially stayed out in front as the derby favourite with 7/2 odds to win. He collected $36,370.85 over the weekend in additional handle. It was by far the most of any entrant in the KDFW Pool 3, exceeding the combined total of the second and third favourites.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Nyquist stayed at 7/1 odds. There seems to be a growing sentiment that the former favourite for the Kentucky Derby is no longer the best bet. Aside from limiting his competition this year to a 7-furlong sprint at the San Vicente Stakes, I’d imagine that the allure of Nyquist’s sheer talent would have driven bettors towards his tempting odds in the KDFW Pool 3.  That wasn’t exactly the case, although $21,211.39 in action came his way.

Nyquist and Mohaymen are both declared for the Florida Derby on April 2nd, in a showdown of the top-two horses on the east coast. It’s obvious that horse players are placing a clear preference on Mohaymen, but Nyquist could be a real steal from a value perspective here. If he wins the Florida Derby decisively – and there’s nothing to indicate that he can’t – then those that backed him heavily at 7/1 will be laughing down the trail to Churchill Downs.

But let’s get back to that fourth horse, shall we?

The conversation out west got way more interesting over the weekend thanks to the results of the San Felipe Stakes. Mor Spirit was justifiably touted as a talented enough horse to give the top two derby contenders a run for their money. But a lazy push out of the gates over the weekend saw Mor Spirit lose out to Danzing Candy. Even then, Mor Spirit’s odds in KDFW Pool 3 remained the same as they did in the last round. He stands as a 12/1 outside shot.

Danzing Candy and Mor Spirit will battle again at the Santa Anita Derby on April 9th in one of the most intriguing rematches available. It wasn’t just that Danzing Candy won the San Felipe Stakes, it’s how he did it. The front running horse shot out of the gates like a bullet and increased his speed as the race went on. It was a phenomenal display. Mor Spirit definitely began to close the gap down the stretch, and ran a poor race overall. A late rush of money came in on Daning Candy as the KDFW Pool 3 window closed. His 28/1 odds shrank to 17/1 and $10,030.26 came in to back him.

The fourth and final window of futures betting for the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager will open April 1st and close April 3rd.

Safety Alliance Reaccredited Santa Anita

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance reaccredited Santa Anita Park earlier today.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance requires tracks to apply every two years for reaccreditation. Santa Anita was first accredited in 2009.

The Arcadia, California track began it’s exhaustive reaccreditation process by filling out a lengthy written application, which was then followed by meetings with National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance officials. That led to an on-site inspection of racing operations at Santa Anita, and interviews with racetrack personnel, stewards, veterinarians, owners, jockeys, track executives, and regulators.

In charge of the inspection was security expert James Cain, racetrack operations consultant Jim Gates, former California Horse Racing Board equine medical director Dr. Ron Jensen, security and integrity consultant Mike Kilpack, and National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance Executive Director Steve Koch.

Alliance certification is important, as it addresses a number of integrity and safety concerns such as: aftercare/transition of retired racehorses, injury reporting, injury prevention, creating a safe racing environment, uniform medication, safety research, wagering security, and testing.

“Santa Anita and California racing have long been key supporters of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance,” said Koch. “We annually observe numerous industry best practices in the areas of safety and integrity at Santa Anita. And, the industry subsequently gains when we can share these solutions at racetracks across the continent. North America benefits tremendously from Santa Anita’s contributions to racing safety and integrity.”

With Santa Anita scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in November the reaccreditation came at a good time.

maryland stadium authority

Maryland Stadium Authority Assess Pimlico

The Maryland Stadium Authority has been brought in by state officials to investigate the structural, economical and long-term health of Pimlico Race Course. This is part of the process for upgrading the facility so that it can maintain its standing as the home of the Preakness Stakes. Pimlico is 146 years old making it the oldest race track on the Triple Crown race track, and only the second oldest in the country behind Saratoga Race Course.

“We want it to be an unbiased assessment of the benefits of keeping it there … and also the negative aspects if it were to move,”said Delegate Sandy Rosenberg of the Maryland Stadium Authority. “We think the case is there in the merits that it should stay there.”

Recent upgrades to Laurel Park generated rumours that the Preakness Stakes could be on the move. The other, major track in the state is currently moving forward with a massive $200 million renovation spearheaded by the Maryland Jockey Club. However, it does look like everyone in the state wishes to keep the Preakness at Pimlico.

For now, any talk of moving the second leg of the Triple Crown are on hold. Attention is instead shifting to a updating the grounds so that they meet or exceed modern standards and provide patrons with a premium experience overall.

The two-phase study conducted by the Maryland Stadium Authority will initially begin with a report on the current conditions of the facility and its grounds. The second phase will assess the feasibility of development options.

“Pimlico and the Preakness are incredibly important to Baltimore,” reiterated William H. Cole, the president of the Baltimore Development Corporation. “We will work with the Jockey Club, the Maryland Racing Commission and the stadium authority to ensure that they both remain for generations,” he said.

It’s been several years since Pimlico received a proper facelift and the state’s combined efforts will point towards the use of public and private funds to make the renovations happen. The Maryland Stadium Authority is composed of seven government officials from within the state that have routinely overseen the conditions and upkeep of places like Camdem Yards, Memorial Stadium, M&T Bank Stadium the XFINITY Center and a number of convention centers around the state.

Pimlico has fallen by the wayside in recent years, but is now in the best possible care that the state can provide.

Ten Finalists Selected for Horseracing Hall of Fame

Finalists For Horseracing Hall of Fame Include 4 Horses, 4 Jockey’s and 2 Trainers

The ballot for induction into the 2016 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame has been narrowed down and includes 10 finalists. Among those on the ballot are four thoroughbreds, four jockeys and two trainers.

Horses nominated include two of racing’s most popular thoroughbreds in recent memory, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, along with English Channel and Kona Gold. Jockey’s include Ramon Dominguez, Victor Espinoza, Garret Gomez and Craig Perret. Trainers David Whiteley and the controversial Steve Asmussen make up other two finalists eligible for the Hall of Fame.

The finalists were selected by the Hall of Fame’s 16-member nominating committee from a total of 82 initial candidates suggested by turf journalists, thoroughbred industry participants and racing fans. To be eligible, trainers must have been licensed for 25 years and jockeys for 20 years. Thoroughbreds are required to be retired for five calendar years.

Asmussen was nominated in 2014 but had his nomination withdrawn by the Hall of Fame directors after PETA released results of an investigation into the trainers methods of medicating horses. PETA is appealing again to the president of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame to withdraw his nomination once again.

Jockey Ramon Dominguez rode from 1996-2013 before he suffered a career-ending head injury. The 20-year requirement was waived by the Hall of Fame’s executive committee.


Ramon Dominguez: Won 4,985 races while earning $191,620,277. He won the Eclipse Award for outstanding rider in 2010-12 and was the top North American rider in earnings in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He won 20 individual meet titles on the New York Racing Association circuit and had a record 68 wins at Saratoga in 2012. In 2004 he rode Preakness Stakes runner-up Scrappy T. Dominguez retired in 2013 due to injuries suffered in an accident at Aqueduct.

Victor Espinoza: He’s won 3,266 races with earnings of $186,231,530. He was the regular rider of American Pharoah, who, last spring, became the sport’s first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Espinoza has won a Triple Crown race four other times including twice in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes with California Chrome and War Emblem.

Garrett Gomez: Rode from 1988-2013 and won 3,769 races and $205,224,899. He won the Eclipse Award winner in 2007 and 2008. Gomez totaled 13 Breeders’ Cup wins and won the Bill Shoemaker Award for top jockey at the Breeder’s Cup on four separate occasions.

Craig Perret: Rode from 1967-2005 and won 4,415 races with earnings of $113,837,299. He won the Eclipse Award in 1990 as the Outstanding Jockey. That same year he won the Kentucky Derby aboard Unbridled as part of 57 stakes victories that year.


Steve Asmussen: In 2014, had his name removed from a list of finalists due to PETA’s claims of animal abuse. Since being cleared, he is eligible again. Ranks second all-time in career wins (7,246 through March 8) and fourth in earnings ($237,473,515). The 50-year-old trainer’s highlights include two Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer designations, three Horse of the Year honors, twice with Curlin and once with Rachel Alexandra, and five Breeders’ Cup victories

David Whiteley: Trained champions Revidere, Waya and Just a Game and won 678 races during his 25- year career from 1970-1995. Won 45 graded stakes races and 62 overall stakes.


Rachel Alexandra: Named Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old filly in 2009. She beat the boys three times that season, in the Preakness, Haskell and Woodward at Saratoga while also dominating the Kentucky Oaks. Has a career record of 13 wins and five seconds in 19 career starts and earnings of $3,506,730.

Zenyatta: Named Horse of the Year in 2010 and won four Eclipse Awards during her career. Won 19 of 20 career starts, the only loss coming in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic.  to Blame.

English Channel: Started 23 times in his career and won 13 races including six Grade 1 stakes while earning $5,319,028. He won his only start as a 2-year old at Saratoga in 2004. English Channel won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Grass Horse in 2006 and in 2007 for Outstanding Turf Horse.

Kona Gold: Had 30 starts in his career with 14 wins and seven seconds with career earnings of $2,293,384. The 2000 Horse of the Year runner-up won the Breeders’ Cup Spring and collected 10 graded stakes victories. He also won the Eclipse Award as Champion Sprinter in 2000.

NTRA Poll Results

The Week 1 National Thoroughbred Racing Association poll for Top three-year-olds has been released. The poll spans racing performances though to the end of March 6th, and are based on a scoring settings system of: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. Industry and racing media members make up the voters.

Topping the poll is Mohaymen of Shadwell Racing, who received 23 first place votes. He edged out Nyquist and his 13 first place votes. Mor Spirit (2) and Songbird (6) were the only two other horses to receive first place votes.

Below is the complete standings for the poll, with first place votes in brackets, followed by total points earned:

1. Mohaymen (23 first place votes) – 420 total points
2. Nyquist (13) – 400
3. Mor Spirit (2) – 263
4. Songbird (6) – 263
5. Shagaf – 171
6. Exaggerator – 168
7. Gun Runner – 142
8. Suddenbreakingnews – 106
9. Mo Tom – 92
10. Zulu – 86

Here is a list of other horses who received votes, ranked by number of votes received: Cathryn Sophia (75), Brody’s Cause (75), Greenpointcrusader (71), Smokey Image-1 (70), Destin (20), Danzing Candy (15), Awesome Banner (10), Catch a Glimpse (9), Sunny Ridge (9), Whitmore (8), Forevamo (5), Rafting (3), Swipe (3), Frank Conversation (3), Converge (2), Tusk (2), Cupid (1), Laoban (1), Hit It A Bomb (1), Flexibility (1), Maliby Sunset (1), Awesome Speed (1).

In a separate poll, California Chrome leads the Top Thoroughbred Poll, with 24 first place votes and 402 total points. You can see the full poll results below:

1. California Chrome (24 first place votes) – 402 total points
2. Mshawish (7) – 301
3. Beholder (4) – 205
4. Frosted (3) – 204
5. Songbird (2) – 164
6. Mohaymen (3) – 151
7. Tepin – 149
8. Nyquist – 116
9. Hoppertunity – 107
10. Runhappy – 106

Here is a list of other horses who received votes, ranked by number of votes received: Effinex (44), X Y Jet (41), Valid (38), Heart to Heart (37), Lukes Alley (37), Blofeld (35), Flamboyant (34), Cathryn Sophia (32), Bolo (22), Flintshire (14), Page McKenney (13), Mexikoma (13), Dortmund (12), Mor Spirit (11), Keen Ice (10), Stopchargingmaria (8), Imperative (8), Exaggerator (8), Taris (7), Shagaf (7), Grand Tito (7), Brody’s Cause (6), Smokey Image (6), Gun Runner (6), Chocolate Ride (5), Private Zone (5), Texas Red (5), Financial Modeling (5), Forever Unbridled (4), Danzing Candy (4), Suddenbreakingnews (4), Eagle (4), Stanford (3), Gent (3), Swipe (3), Sheer Drama (2), Shining Copper (2), Dancing House (2), Keri Belle (2), Charming Kitten (1), Tommy Macho (1), Firing Line (1), Majestic Harbor (1), Lady Shipman (1), Lady Eli (1).

songbird wins again!

Songbird Steering Clear of Triple Crown

Songbird remained undefeated at the Santa Ysabel Stakes this past weekend, winning by an easy stretch of 3 3/4 lengths, fuelling even more speculation that she’ll toss her name in to a run at the boys come Triple Crown season. That seems to be the only element of Songbird’s racing life that trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is pumping the brakes on. His prize filly is pointed straight to the Santa Anita Stakes and onwards to the Kentucky Oaks, just as planned.

Jockey Mike Smith barely had to do any work as Songbird dashed out of the gates and took the lead immediately. She began to open up a virtual chasm during the backstretch and then continued to keep a safe gap all the way round the final turn and across the finish line. There was never any doubt as to who was going to win the race.

“It was incredible,” Smith reflected after the win. “I got a bit star struck when I looked over at the big screen (in the infield) to see if I needed to do a little bit of work and I was just in awe of how easily she was doing things, again. I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off the big screen. I told myself, ‘I better get back to it and stay on.’ She was really on her game.”

Land Over Sea finished second to Songbird for the third time in her career. Trainer Doug O’Neill was as optimistic as one can be when routinely faced with a talent such as Songbird. “It was a super race by Songbird,” O’Neill stated, “but we’re super proud of Land Over Sea, too.” Land Over Sea is next due to run the Fair Ground Oaks (GR2) on March 26th, and she’ll likely be relieved to discover that Songbird will not be in the field for that race. The Reddamn Racing filly has yet to win a stakes race.

The boys of the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown will also be relieved that Hollendorfer is staying the course with Songbird, pointing her down the unofficial pathway of the Triple Tiara. The first leg of that journey will be the Kentucky Oaks, and Songbird will look to pad her winning margin. She has won all six of her contests by a combined 32 1/4 lengths.

You can witness the champion filly’s sheer dominance below just to get a taste of why it might be more intriguing to see her matched up against the top colts. Unfortunately for race fans, that specific challenge may have to wait until much later in the season. It could occur at the Breeders’ Cup, but Hollendorfer’s intentions have been made clear. Let’s not spin the rumour mill surrounding Songbird needlessly.


New York-Bred Effinex Ready for Santa Anita Handicap

Seven Challengers Including East Coast Shipper Effinix in Santa Anita Handicap

The Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Handicap is set for Saturday, March 12 and Effinex will carry high weight of 123 pounds as the betting favorite in the 1 ¼ mile race.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkins shipped in the 5-year old colt, and Effinex will race for the first time since winning the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs November 27. Effinex, by Mineshaft won that race by three quarters of a length, and previously ran second to Triple Crown champion Amerian Pharoah in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic October 31 going off at 33-1 odds.

Effinex is owned by Tri-Bone Stables, and he breezed a pair of six furlong works at Palm Meadows before shipping in from Florida March 3. The temperamental horse will be ridden by Mike Smith for the third straight race.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkins, “I would have liked to have a little more time to prepare him. The decision to go out their (Santa Anita), was kind of late, and it kind of put us behind the eight ball, but he never ceases to amaze me and I wouldn’t put anything past him.”

Kent Sweezey, assistant trainer to Jerkins for the past 18 months said, “He jogged today (March 4), will gallop tomorrow, breeze in the next couple of days, and then go straight into the race.”

Effinex has won seven of 20 starts with earnings of $2,112,950. He looked his career best in his two most-recent starts.

Clockers were busy at Santa Anita Saturday as 251 workouts were recorded March 5 with the San Felipe Stakes also running March 12. Newly acquired Doug O’Neill trainee Donworth ran four furlongs in :48 seconds flat on March 4 and will be one of the main challengers to Effinex in the Anta Anita Handicap.

Along with Effinex and Donworth, others pointing to the Big Cap include Hard Aces, General A Rod, Melatonin and Imperative. One of trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s nominated trio of Cyrus Alexander, Point Piper and Southern Freedom should go as well. Bob Baffert-trained Dortmund will skip the race, continuing to heal up from nagging foot issues.


Sunland Park Quarantine Could End Next Week

Sunland Park Quarantine Against EHV-1 Scheduled to be Lifted March 9

State officials have set March 9 as the date which Sunland Park Racetrack will no longer be under Livestock Board quarantine. Sunland Park has been caught in an outbreak of an equine herpes virus, and the news comes after a horse tested positive for the virus last week.

The infected horse was not entered to race but others in neighboring stables were. Those horses have been quarantined as a precaution. Nearly 70 horses in New Mexico have been infected and two cases have been documented in El Paso County, Texas.

If final approval is granted by the New Mexico Livestock Board, Sunland Park will open its barn area to outside horses and allow horses currently stabled on site to travel offsite.

Sunland Park General Manager Rick Baugh said “It has been a tough few weeks and I want to thank everyone for their hard work and understanding”. He goes on to say “This virus is very serious and all our focus and resources have been dedicated to reducing its impact. I’d like to thank all parties involved for their help.”

The outbreak at the track along the Texas-New Mexico border began in January. Sunland Park took immense precaution to contain and reduce the spread of the virus with the assistance of the New Mexico Livestock Board. Beginning in late January, the property underwent a full barn area quarantine which included nearly 1,600 horses. Biohazard protocols for preventing the spread of the virus were distributed with local horseman trained by New Mexico State Veterinarian Dr. Eckoff. Foot baths to equipment cleaning and storage to twice daily temperature testing were covered. Additional veterinarians were brought in to assist with testing of horses and daily inspections along with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

The racetrack also added multiple compliance officers and 30 extra security guards to patrol the grounds focusing on restricted areas and appropriate biohazard procedures.

Over 342 EHV tests were run in an effort to identify horses with the virus and reduce the spread with 68 unique horses testing positive. The virus was contained to 4.2% of the barn area.

Joe Wilson Named New TRA President

The Board of Directors for the Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA) of North America have named Joe Wilson their new President. He was previously Parx Racing’s Chief Operating Officer.

Wilson will become the organization’s 37th President and will succeed previous President Scott Wells, who was elected in 2013. It’s a position that traditionally comes with a two-year term.

A wealth of experience comes with naming Wilson the new President of the TRA, as he has over 30 years of experience in the racing industry. Prior to his 2007 Parx appointment, Wilson was involved with Greenwood racing for 17 years, and another 17 years with both Scientific Games and AmTote. He has also been a director for the TRA since 2002.

“It is a great honor to be elected as president of this distinguished organization,” said Wilson. “The TRA is comprised of a group of talented and respected individuals that are well-equipped to take on the challenges facing our industry and to further enhance our great sport of Thoroughbred racing. I look forward to continuing and building on the success of the TRA and all of the association’s many accomplishments as it embarks on its 75th year of operation.”

Other key appointments to the board of the TRA includes: re-electing Peter N. Berube to serve as Vice President and Treasurer, Sean Pinsonneault as it’s Secretary, and Christopher N. Scherf as the Executive Vice President. Berube has been with the organization since 2007, and Sherf joined the TRA in 1982. Pinsonneault has been an integral member of the Woodbine Entertainment Group for the past 16 years.

malibu sunset

Malibu Sunset Could Begin Late Derby Push

Malibu Sunset turned plenty of heads when he won his maiden voyage at Santa Anita over this past weekend. Now there is plenty of talk as to whether Bob Baffert will send the Bernadini colt down the Kentucky Derby trail. Could we have a late entry in to the fray as we bear down on Triple Crown season?

A late push like this doesn’t usually happen, but that’s how impressive Malibu Sunset was. He left quit an impression, and overcame some familiar obstacles to earn the win.

Even before the race began, there was plenty of anxiety as some competitors presented obvious nerves in the paddock. This had been a problem for Malibu Sunset in previous training sessions. Originally worked in Louisiana where he had trouble staying in line before races, the three-year old was moved out west to train under Baffert. “He stayed pretty calm and cool throughout,” Baffert said. “Reports were, in his first out, he got away twice and was a little rambunctious, but since he has been here, he has been really goodquiet everywhere.”

Calming Malibu Sunset’s nerve is a big part of his training. Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes noted that a major focus has been dialled on modifying the colt’s morning behaviour. The cool attitude that Malibu Sunset displayed during Saturday’s allowance, despite some anxious surroundings, was a testament to Baffert’s team. “You never know until they turn for home if they can go that extra distance,” Baffert said. “It was a good race for him. He needed something like that to get some bottom into him.”

Malibu Sunset took the one mile allowance in a time of 1:37.97, taking second place finisher Xingontothebone down the stretch. French Getaway finished in third. It was such an impressive victory that Baffert was almost immediately pressed for Malibu Sunset’s chances of a Triple Crown run. “We know two turns is not going to be a problem for him. He’ll let me know.”

While Mohaymen, Nyquist and Mor Spirit remain the headlined choices for the Kentucky Derby, horses like Malibu Sunset will continue to push for attention. Even though no immediate plans have been established, there is now a small backing that is interested to see where Baffert’s newest sensation will be pointed next.