Princess of Sylmar Becomes Oaks Royalty
Princess of Sylmar Becomes Oaks Royalty
Updated: Friday, May 3, 2013 9:30 PM
Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013 8:57 PM
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Princess of Sylmar overtakes Beholder to win the Kentucky Oaks. Order This Photo
King of Prussia Stable's Princess of Sylmar pulled off a 38-1 upset in the May 3 Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). The 3-year-old daughter of Majestic Warrior roared past juvenile filly champion Beholder inside the sixteenth pole for the half-length score (VIDEO) in the $1 million event.
Unlimited Budget was third, 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner, edging 3-2 favorite Dreaming of Julia by a head.
Princess of Sylmar was one of four fillies in the 10-horse Oaks trained by Todd Pletcher, along with Silsita, Unlimited Budget, and Dreaming of Julia. Pletcher has five entrants in tomorrow's May 4 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Mike Smith was up, winning his first Kentucky Oaks aboard the first horse ever bred by Ed Stanco, who heads the King of Prussia Stable partnership. Storm Dixie, the broodmare of the Oaks winner, was their first runner.
The pre-race and start were action packed. As the horses neared the gate for the Oaks, Beholder dumped jockey Garrett Gomez. He quickly remounted and she entered the 3 hole without further incident.
"She lost it in the post parade," Gomez said. "I knew that might jeopardize her performance a little bit. After everything that happened, she still ran a tremendous race.
"She almost fell down and rolled in the post parade and lost it going to the gate. After she got up on her feet, she left the gate and settled nicely. When I told her to 'go' turning for home she put the other filly (pacesetter Midnight Lucky) away in a heartbeat."
Dreaming of Julia, breaking from post 8, was squeezed hard at the start by Rose to Gold, who broke from post 9.
"She lost all chance," said Pletcher after the race. "She got creamed at the start and then was stopped at the three-eighths pole. I thought she showed a lot of courage."
"That did it all, right from the start," said Dreaming of Julia's rider John Velazquez. "She got pinched out of there and the race was over. I saved all the ground I could and she made a nice run but it was too much ground to make up."
Princess of Sylmar was also roughed up at the start and settled off the rail while racing in ninth for the opening half mile.
Midnight Lucky grabbed the early lead from post 2 and was tracked by Beholder (post 3) as the field went by the stands the first time. The early pace was swift, :22.84 and :46.79, as Midnight Lucky and Beholder led the way down the backstretch. They were tracked by Silsita along the rail and Unlimited Budget.
The field tightened some as they headed to the far turn after six furlongs in 1:11.34. Beholder and Gomez collared Midnight Lucky for the lead and quickly opened up by two lengths in the stretch. Dreaming of Julia came with a wide move, and Unlimited Budget got into the mix as well. But Princess of Sylmar, who advanced into fourth at the three-eighths pole, was moving best of all while motoring down the center of the track.
Of the winner Pletcher said: "We're pleasantly surprised with her effort and her win. We didn't much like her first breeze here (:48 3/5 April 20), but her second one (:49 1/5 April 27) was much better. She's a good filly; we knew that all along.'
"I had a perfect trip," said Javier Castellano, who was aboard Unlimited Budget. "Turning for home I thought I had a chance to win. I asked her and she responded, but she just didn't have enough."
The final time was 1:49.17, quick, but not as fast as Bird Town's stakes mark of 1:48.64 set in 2003.
Princess of Sylmar had two stakes wins and one graded stakes placing to her credit, which nevertheless made her a 38-1 shot in a field considered the best for the Oaks in many years.
The lineup included last year's champion juvenile filly Beholder, who was sent off at 9-1 odds; Unlimited Budget, unbeaten in four starts and winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II); Dreaming of Julia, winner of the March 30 Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II) by 21 3/4 lengths; Midnight Lucky, unbeaten in two starts including the Sunland Park Oaks by eight lengths; and the 3-for-3 Close Hatches, who defeated Princess of Sylmar in winning the Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) last time out.
"I've always wanted to take our time with her, keep her her happy, and keep her calm," said Stanco. "After (the Gazelle) we gave her a little time and worked her out. And she did just great; she's just come along."
Stanco, who has had horses in training with Pletcher off and on over the last 10 years, praised the trainer's well-planned approach for choosing Princess of Sylmar's races.
"To me, there's no better trainer in the world that can (win a race like the Oaks) with this kind of filly," he said.
Princess of Sylmar, bred in Pennsylvania by Stanco out of the Catienus mare Storm Dixie, paid $79.60, $29.40, and $14. Beholder returned $9 and $5.60. Unlimited Budget paid $3.80 to show. The exacta was worth $727, while the trifecta came back $3,470.80.
The only filly to pay a higher price in the Oaks was the 47-1 Lemons Forever in 2005.
The winner made her first two starts at Penn Nationa Race Course, breaking her maiden second time out by 19 lengths going a mile. Moved on to Aqueduct Racetrack, she dusted a short allowance/optional claiming field to end her 2-year-old campaign Dec. 13. At 3 she won the Jan. 5 Busanda Stakes by 7 1/2 lengths at a mile and 70 yards and added the Busher Stakes Feb. 2 at 1 1/16 miles. In her graded stakes debut she was second, beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Close Hatches in the Gazelle.
She now sports a 5-1-0 mark from eight starts and her $589,000 payday boosts her earnings to $827,220.
Dreaming of Julia was followed in the Oaks by Midnight Lucky, Pure Fun, Close Hatches, Rose to Gold, Seaneen Girl, and Silsita.
The Oaks attendance was 113,820, second largest in Oaks history topped only by the 116,046 on hand in 2010.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/78048/princess-of-sylmar-becomes-oaks-royalty#ixzz2SKHaXure
Authenticity the Real Deal in La Troienne
Authenticity the Real Deal in La Troienne
Updated: Friday, May 3, 2013 7:39 PM
Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013 2:17 PM
Photo: Mathea Kelley
Authenticity (right) fights off On Fire Baby to win the La Troienne Stakes.Order This Photo
In a fierce stretch battle beneath the Twin Spires, Padua Stables' Authenticity held off stubborn On Fire Baby to take the $335,100 La Troienne Stakes presented by Steelcase and ORI (gr. II) by a head.
Even-money favorite Believe You Can, winner of last year's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) was 4 3/4 lengths back in third (VIDEO).
Authenticity was the fourth choice in a seven-horse field for the 1 1/16-mile La Troienne, the first of five stakes (four of them graded) on the May 3 Longines Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and the workmate for Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender Verrazano, Authenticity set a stakes record of 1:42.09 over a fast track in the La Troienne. The previous stakes record was 1:42.43 set by Shadow Cast in 2005.
Anita Cauley's homebred On Fire Baby broke on top from post 5 in the event for older fillies and mares, but was quickly challenged by Authenticity and jockey John Velazquez, who secured the rail as they went around the first turn.
Authenticity and On Fire Baby, ridden by Joe Johnson, separated themselves from the pack early on while setting sensible fractions of :24.80, :48.45, and 1:12.39 over a fast track. Second choice More Chocolate and Believe You Can sat off the leading pair, but neither made much headway when the field straightened for home.
Holding her rail slot heading down the stretch, Authenticity continued her duel with On Fire Baby as they hit the sixteenth pole together after getting the mile in 1:36.02.
Authenticity carried 118 pounds in the La Troienne, five fewer than the grade I-winning runner-up.
On Fire Baby was the third choice in the La Troienne off her strong score in the April 12 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr.I) at Oaklawn Park in her 2013 debut. She was fifth behind Believe You Can in last year's Oaks.
"This is a huge win for us on a number of fronts," Pletcher said. "This mare has been working in company with Verrazano. That goes a long way toward solidifyng what he's been doing. It's also Johnny's first win back in only his second ride (since being injured last month). And we're winning a good race against a good mare, so it was good, good, good."
A lightly raced 6-year-old mare by Quiet American out of the Deputy Minister mare Court of Appeal, Authenticity was bred in Kentucky by Dixiana Stables. She was making only her seventh career start in the La Troienne, but it marked her fourth start of the year. She broke her maiden in her second outing back in late June of 2011 at Churchill, then was away from the races healing from a condylar fracture until January of this year.
"I was cautiously optimistic," said Sasha Sanan, son of Padua Stables owner Satish Sanan."I have the most respect for Believe You Can and On Fire Baby, and I thought our filly would give a good accounting of herself. Beyond that I thought we got lucky with a favorable trip and she stepped her game up to a new level."
Authenticity ran third in January, then won by 17 1/2 lengths in an allowance/optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park before she ran second to Ciao Bella in her black-type debut March 30 in Gulfstream's Rampart Stakes (gr. III). The La Troienne victory, worth $203,607 improved her record to 3-2-1 with earnings of $313,362.
"I just left her alone and she went from there," Velazquez said. "I asked her to run and she ran and the other horse was coming at me. I wasn't sure, but every time the other horse came to her, she gave another spurt."
Authenticity paid $12.20, $4.80, and $3.40. On Fire Baby paid $4.80 and $2.80, while Believe You Can returned $2.20 to show. The 2-5 exacta paid $57.
Class Included, who was cross-entered in the May 4 Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT), finished 2 1/2 lengths back in fourth, and was followed by More Chocolate, Imposing Grace, and Draw It.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/78032/authenticity-the-real-deal-in-la-troienne#ixzz2SKIHl7R3
Forty Tales Tops Pletcher Exacta
Derby Trial: Forty Tales Tops Pletcher Exacta
Updated: Sunday, April 28, 2013 12:09 AM
Posted: Sunday, April 28, 2013 12:00 AM
Photo: Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
Forty Tales wins the Derby Trial Stakes.
In what he surely hopes is an omen for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) a week hence, trainer Todd Pletcher's colts Forty Tales and Capo Bastone ran first and second, respectively, in the $201,425 Derby Trial Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) on the night of April 27 at rainyChurchill Downs.
In spite of the weather, a crowd of 21,038 showed up on opening night of the spring Churchill meet.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, who dominated the jockey ranks at Keeneland this spring, the victorious Forty Tales was the the slight favorite at 3-1 odds for owner Perretti Racing Stable. The son of Tale of the Cat gutted it out late to defeat his rallying stablemate Capo Bastone by a neck for his first stakes victory. Final time for the one-turn mile test for 3-year-olds was 1:35.77 over a track listed as fast.
"When we turned for home, I asked him to go and he went and put me in a good spot," Rosario said. "I'm lucky to be here (Kentucky). Things have been going great and hopefully they'll continue."
The result ended the dreams of a Kentucky Derby for Green Bay Packer greats Paul Hornung and Willie Davis, at least for this year. Their charge, Titletown Five, faded to fourth after getting the lead from pacesetter Zee Bros briefly in upper stretch.
Pletcher said he has no such dreams for Forty Tales, who had never been farther than seven furlongs before the Derby Trial. But Pletcher, who has at least five starters in the May 4 Kentucky Derby already, said he would talk it over with the colt's owners.
"Both (Forty Tales and Capo Bastone) are at their very best in one-turn sprints," Pletcher said. "We didn't come in here with Derby expectations."
A classic start could be in Capo Bastone's future, but not in next Saturday's Derby.
"We were thinking that if he ran really well we could consider the Preakness (gr. I) or something like that," Pletcher said. "We'll see how he comes out of it."
Bred by the Randal Family Trust in Kentucky, Forty Tales is out of the multiple stakes-placed Forty Niner mare Forty Love. The bay colt cost $80,000 as a select yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale in 2011.
Forty Tales appeared ready for more distance after a fifth-place effort in the seven-furlong Swale Stakes (gr. III) March 2 at Gulfstream Park. Prior to that, he charged home gamely to finish second in the by half a length to Honorable Dillon in Gulfstream's seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 7.
He began his career with a pair of six furlongs victories, debuting in maiden special weight company Nov. 24 at Aqueduct Racetrack with a 2 3/4-length victory. He ventured to Parx Racing for his next encounter against first-level allowance foes to start the season Jan. 5, scoring by 3 3/4 lengths.
A field of nine contested the Derby Trial, with Forty Tales the slight pick over Titletown Five and Zee Bros, who were also 3-1.
Forty Tales settled nicely in sixth while wide for the opening half mile. Zee Bros struck the front early over Tour Guide and Titletown Five and set a swift early tempo of :22.48 and :45.07. Capo Bastone, ridden by Garrett Gomez, had just one beaten.
"It was a perfect trip. He broke well. I figured there was going to be some speed in the race and we'd be five, six, seven lengths off the speed," Rosario said. "That's exactly where we were."
Zee Bros reached the quarter pole in 1:10.02 still a length in front of Titletown Five, who was closing in on the outside of the leader as Forty Tales advanced into third and Tour Guide faded. After being headed in upper stretch, Zee Bros brushed aside the challenge from Titletown Five to open up a clear advantage in the lane, but the quick early fractions soon took a toll past the eighth pole.
Forty Tales collared the leader and briefly kicked clear in deep stretch. But he was all out approaching the wire as Capo Bastone, after an awkward beginning, drew closer with each stride before running out of time.
"We felt like there was a little bit of speed in the race and both of these horses' styles are to settle and make one run," Pletcher said. "It seemed like the track was playing favorably to those kinds of horses on the night so we just let them do their thing and it worked out well."
"He was keyed up," Gomez said of Capo Bastone. "First time under the lights, a young 3-year-old. But I got him to settle on the backside and then when I asked him he came with a good run. Good race for him, for sure."
Ruler of Love stalked the leaders all the way for Rosie Napravnik and made his bid in the stretch before finishing evenly for third, three lengths behind Capo Bastone. Then came Titletown Five, Ruble, Zee Bros, Officer Alex, G. T. Tabu, and Tour Guide.
Forty Tales won for the third time in five tries and extended his earnings to $219,789 with the winning share of nearly $120,000.
Under equal weights of 118 pounds, he paid $8.20, $4, and $3.20 while keying a $43.20 exacta. Capo Bastone returned $5 and $4.20. Ruler of Love paid $8.40.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/77856/derby-trial-forty-tales-tops-pletcher-exacta#ixzz2Rl1TMzJr
Disposablepleasure Gives Pletcher Another Sixty Sails
STICKNEY, Ill. – Considering how little his day-to-day has to do with Chicago racing, Todd Pletcher has carved quite a niche in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap. Pletcher won his fourth Sixty Sails on Saturday with Disposablepleasure, who, like his previous race winners, Fleet Indian and Life At Ten, looked like a very progressive horse winning here at Hawthorne.
Four Footed Fotos
Disposablepleasure wins the Grade 3 Sixty Sails by 3 1/2 lengths under Javier Castellano.
Racing three wide the entire trip under Javier Castellano, Disposablepleasure burst to the lead at the three-sixteenths pole and quickly blew the Sixty Sails wide open, running off to a 3 1/2-length victory over the accomplished filly Brushed by a Star. Disposablepleasure, a 4-year-old filly by Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, now is 2 for 2 in 2013 after losing all seven of her starts last year.
“I didn’t want any trouble, since I thought I was on the best horse in the race,” said winning rider Javier Castellano. “She won easily. She’s pretty sharp. She galloped out really well. I was impressed with her.”
Devious Intent, pressed lightly by Little Ms Protocol, set splits of 23.89 seconds for the quarter and 48.51 to the half while Disposablepleasure and Castellano waited in third, and when Castellano asked his mount to go on, she quickly collared the pace-setting pair, ducking briefly to the inside while making the lead. Brushed by a Star, who raced inside and behind the lead group much of the trip, came outside for a stretch rally, but lost ground the final furlong to the winner and was a well beaten second while six lengths clear of third-place Little Ms Protocol. The winner was timed in 1:50.19 for one and one-eighth miles.
“It seems like she’s kind of improved with age,” said assistant trainer Ginny DePasquale, who saddled Disposablepleasure. “She’s matured a little bit, and she’s more relaxed now.”
Disposablepleasure, owned by Glencrest Farm, was a $45,000 yearling buy whose bankroll stands at $505,460 after picking up the $120,000 winner’s share of the Sixty Sails’s $200,000 purse. Saturday’s victory, the fourth of her career, was her first stakes win since the Grade 2 Demoiselle in November 2011.
Overanalyze Makes Arkansas Derby Look Simple
Overanalyze Makes Arkansas Derby Look Simple
Updated: Sunday, April 14, 2013 8:01 AM
Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013 7:13 PM
Photo: Coady Photography
Overanalyze rolls home to win the Arkansas Derby.
Overanalyze, rebounding from a lackluster seasonal debut, overpowered his rivals in the drive to easily win the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) and stamp his ticket for this year's Run for the Roses (VIDEO).
Before a crowd of 66,158 at Oaklawn Park, jockey Rafael Bejarano brought the son of Dixie Union from well off the pace to score handily by 4 1/4 lengths at 7-2 odds for Repole Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher. The Arkansas Derby, the last major prep for the 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), was worth 100 points to the winner. It guaranteed Overanalyze a starting spot in the 20-horse starting gate May 3.
Frac Daddy garnered 40 points for finishing second and also appears to be headed for Lousville. Unheralded Carve finished third, with pacesetter Falling Sky weakening to fourth in deep stretch. That left the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) winner with 30 points and 20th on the leader board for the Derby.
Overanalyze was considered a top Derby candidate after a 2-year-old campaign that included wins in the Futurity Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park and the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack. In his only start since the Nov. 24 Remsen, which he won by a nose over Normandy Invasion, he ran a non-threatening fifth in the Gotham Stakes (gr. II) last month at Aqueduct.
The final time for the Arkansas Derby, a 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds, was 1:51.94 on a fast track.
"This is my Derby horse, I'm pretty sure," said Bejarano, who was aboard Overanalyze for the first time as he replaced the injured John Velazaquez. "Thanks to Mr. Pletcher for giving me the opportunity to ride him today."
War Academy, the 9-5 favorite in the field of 10, was backed out of the starting gate when he was unruly before being reloaded. The son of Giant's Causeway , attempting to give trainer Bob Baffert a second straight Arkansas Derby win following Bodemeister last year, never appeared comfortable while chasing the early pace. He was pulled up gradually after a half-mile and walked off the track.
Baffert's second entrant, Den's Legacy, finished sixth.
It was Pletcher, however, who stole the training spotlight show with the strapping Overanalyze. The former assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas and the 2010 Kentucky Derby winner with Super Saver won his first Arkansas Derby since Graeme Hall and Balto Star won back-to-back renewals in 2000 and 2001. He now appears to have four candidates for this year's Kentucky Derby.
"Todd was going to run Verrazano in the Wood (gr. I), so we decided to split the two horses up and come here," said owner Mike Repole. "I wasn't surprised that he won, but I was shocked at how easy he won. I'm really blessed to have a filly (Unlimited Budget) for the (Kentucky) Oaks (gr. I) and now a colt for the (Kentucky) Derby."
Repole said he's pleased for Pletcher, who in addition to Overanalyze could also take Verrazano, Revolutionary, and Palace Malice to this year's Derby .
"If I can't win, I'm always rooting for Todd," he said. "He's a great trainer, but he's an even better friend."
The winner was a $380,000 Keeneland September sale yearling in 2011 from the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment. Overanalyze was bred in Kentucky by Gerald Ford’s Diamond A Racing out of the unraced Unaccounted For mare Unacloud. He is a half bother to Belmont Matron Stakes (gr. II) winner Meadow Breeze, a daughter of Meadowlake.
Overanalyze raced seventh early as Falling Sky, challenged on the inside by 60-1 Divine Ambition, took a narrow advantage while racing off the rail after the opening quarter mile. the two leaders carved moderate splits of :23.32, 47.64, and 1:12.57.
Den's Legacy, getting through between horses as Divine Ambition faded on the final turn, and Frac Daddy on the outside, were the biggest threats as Falling Sky maintained a narow edge in upper stretch. But Overanalyze, still seventh while five wide rounding the bend, was put to a drive by Bejarano. The big colt responded impressively on the grandstand side to overtake the leaders a furlong out. He went on to win easily while drifting in after getting clear under steady handling.
"My horse broke really good. I placed him right behind the early speed because I didn't want to rush him. At the half-mile pole, He started to chase the horses on the lead and he kicked clear," Bejarano said. "I had a beautiful trip. Once we got to the stretch, I felt like I had a lot of horse left and saved something for the next race."
Frac Daddy, ridden by Victor Lebron for trainer Ken McPeek, outlasted the rest of a tired lot to finish second, a half-length better than Carve. Frac Daddy rebounded from two subpar efforts at Gulfstream Park this season, including a distant seventh in the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) March 30.
The McPeek barn claimed foul against Overanalyze for interference past mid-stretch, but stewards disallowed it.
"The day was excellent," said McPeek. "It makes all of the hard work you put in worth it. I couldn't see what happened that caused the objection, but he (assistant Phil Bauer) had to put it in. But my horse ran great and he punched his ticket to the Derby.
"In the past he's shown a lot of talent and today he put it together. Victor did a very good job riding him. He let him settle and then kept him in the clear."
Carve, meanwhile, showed vast improvement in his fourth start for trainer Steve Asmussen, including a sixth-place showing in Oaklawn's Rebel Stakes (gr. II) March 16.
Falling Sky was followed by Rebel runner-up Oxbow, the 3-1 second choice who lacked much punch in the stretch. Then came Den's Legacy, who faded after making a bold advance, Divine Ambition, Texas Bling, Heaven's Runway, and War Academy.
"(War Academy) was just very uncertain over the surface and I tried to get him to settle," said Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. "He was OK the first turn, but then he took four or five really awkward steps. I didn't see anything major causing it, but I just felt really awkward on him and figured better safe than sorry, so I pulled him up. I didn't want to take any chances."
Overanalyze posted his fourth win from seven tries and boosted his earnings to $956,381 with the winner's share of $600,000.
The winner carried 122 pounds and paid $9.40, $5.60, and $4.60, keying a $195.40 exacta with Frac Daddy, who returned $16.80 and $11 as a 23-1 shot. Carve, off at 22-1, paid $8.60 to show.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/77518/overanalyze-makes-arkansas-derby-look-simple#ixzz2QRIXwrvP
Verrazano Remains Undefeated
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Undefeated, but no longer untested, Verrazano turned back the challenges of logical contenders Normandy Invasion and Vyjack to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct by three-quarters of a length and perhaps earn himself the role as favorite for the May 4 Kentucky Derby.
Barbara D. Livingston
Verrazano holds off Normandy Invasion (left) and Vyjack (center) to win the Wood Memorial.
Normandy Invasion rallied furiously to get second by a neck over previously undefeated Vyjack, likely earning the necessary points to get into the Derby field.
Vyjack, who suffered his first loss after winning the first four races of his career, will likely head to Louisville. He was third, 3 3/4 lengths in front of fourth-place finisher Mr Palmer, who was followed by Elnaawi, Chrisandthecapper, Quinzieme Monarque, Go Get the Basil, and Always in a Tiz. Freedom Child finished last but was declared a non-starter by the stewards as he was deemed in the hands of the assistant starter when the gates opened.
While not as dominant as he had shown in his previous three starts - including a three-length victory in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby last month - Verrazano was good enough to beat two quality horses and earn his owners, the Lets Go Stable of Bryan Sullivan and Kevin Scatuorchio, their first Grade 1 win.
[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]
He also gave trainer Todd Pletcher his third Wood Memorial victory in the last four years. Eskendereya (2010) did not make it to the Derby while Gemologist (2012) finished 16th.
“I feel good, I think there’s only one result we could have left here happy with and we got it,” Pletcher said in the blustery Aqueduct winner’s circle.
Verrazano was ridden by John Velazquez, who last week won the Florida Derby on Orb. While Pletcher said he expects Velazquez to ride his horse in the Kentucky Derby, Velazquez said he would like to wait before he has to make a decision.
“I’d be very stupid if I made a decision right now,” said Velazquez, who has seen top quality Derby contenders get sick or injured a week before the race.
Verrazano, sitting second, stalked Chrisandthecapper through a half-mile in 24.89 seconds and a half-mile in 49. Entering the far turn, Velazquez sent Verrazano to the lead but Chrisandthecapper stayed with him for several strides.
Turning into the stretch, Verrazano grabbed a clear lead, but Vyjack, who was a close-up fifth, tried to make a run at Verrazano, but he appeared to flatten out in deep stretch.
Normandy Invasion, who saved all the ground while in sixth under Javier Castellano, came running in the stretch and though he was able to nip Vyjack, he was unable to get to Verrazano.
Verrazano, a son of More Than Ready, covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.27 and returned $3.60 as the 4-5 favorite.
“I never hit him, he was running good enough I didn’t have to hit him,” Velazquez said. “I didn’t even see [Normandy Invasion]. I thought Vyjack was the only one fighting me.”
Pletcher said he thought the Wood was another lesson learned for Verrazano, who will try to become the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old.
“I think he’s still learning, he’s had a tendency to kind of idle a little bit and wait on company down the lane, I thought he did that a little bit,” Pletcher said. “It’s the first time he really had horses real close to him at the finish of a race. Hopefully, every step we make is a learning experience for him and he learns to polish these races off a little better.”
Pletcher said he Verrazano would likely ship to Kentucky on April 14 and train at Churchill for three weeks leading up to the Derby.
Normandy Invasion, who was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Risen Star, probably earned the necessary points (40, he now has 44) to get into the Derby field by finishing second. He was kept a little closer to the pace than usual, but still came with a strong late run.
“I’m happy with my horse’s performance, very grateful to get up for second and get the points to hopefully get into the Derby,” trainer Chad Brown said. “And if the horse comes back good I don’t see any reason why a mile and a quarter third off the layoff shouldn’t really hit him between the eyes.”
Vyjack acted a little skittish in the paddock, but put in a solid effort. Like Normandy Invasion, Vyjack was probably impacted by the slow pace.
“I was hoping that the horse on the lead would go a little farther,” said Rudy Rodriguez, trainer of Vyjack. “He didn’t have the kick that he had the other day but we were happy the way he ran.”
Rodriguez said Vyjack would most likely move on to the Kentucky Derby.
The last Wood Memorial winner to come back and win the Kentucky Derby was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000, the 20th Wood starter to win the Derby. However, since 2004, the Wood has produced 19 Kentucky Derby starters with no better than a fourth-place finish.
Jack Milton Wins First Stakes in Transylvania
Jack Milton Wins First Stakes in Transylvania
Updated: Friday, April 5, 2013 8:09 PM
Posted: Friday, April 5, 2013 5:58 PM
Photo: Mark Mahan
Jack Milton (inside) holds off Up With the Birds to win the Transylvania Stakes.Order This Photo
Gary Barber's Jack Milton came up from Florida to earn his first stakes score, holding off the late charge of Up With the Birds to win the $100,000 Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT) by a neck on opening day at Keeneland April 5 (VIDEO) .
The lightly-raced sophomore son of War Front ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in a strong 1:41.80 under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez as the 5-2 favorite, and took his second trip to the winner's circle in three starts.
"He's been training in Florida and they liked what they saw in his works," said Whit Beckman, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. "He's been a horse that's shown talent on the grass. He's improved a lot since his first and second starts."
Velazquez kept the Pletcher trainee in a solid stalking spot three wide off a pace set by Redwood Kitten, who went the quarter in :23.41 before Star Contender put a head in front for a half in :47.43. Redwood Kitten regained the lead to go three-quarters in 1:11.98 as Jack Milton launched his bid from third leaving the second turn.
"I thought we had a really good trip," Velazquez said. "I was concerned that there wasn't a lot of pace in the race, so I wanted to make sure I got a nice comfortable position the first part of the race. THe only thing down the lane was, it's the first time he's been to the lead a little bit early, so when he got to the lead, he decided to wait on the horses. The other horse (Up With the Birds) came to him on the outside, and he put up a good fight but he made me work for it."
The dark bay colt took over with a furlong to run and he completed a mile in 1:35.77. But he was all out in the final sixteenth to maintain his advantage when 9-2 Up With the Birds came flying six wide into the homestretch and finished full of run. Redwood Kitten held for third, two lengths farther back, at odds of 7-1.
"I had a great trip and saved ground," said jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, who was aboard Up With the Birds. "He ran hard the whole way. I thought I was going to catch the winner. My horse lunged at him and finished up pretty good, but obviously Johnny had a little bit more to hang on. My horse tried the whole way."
"This was definitely a step up in class," said trainer Malcolm Pierce, who conditions Black Gold Stakes winner Up With the Birds. "We will find out if he can get a mile and a quarter in July; we are pointing him to the Queen's Plate at Woodbine. We will see how he comes out of his race and work backward from July 7 (the date of the Queen's Plate). He may get one or two more starts. He is a nice colt... we are very happy with his efforts."
Jack Milton returned $7.20, $4.40, and $3.40, Up With the Birds paid $5.20 and $3.80, and Redwood Kitten brought $4.80. Brown Almighty, Amen Kitten, Bambazonki, Star Contender, Fire Guard, Holiday Star, and Bethel completed the order of finish.
Jack Milton, bred in Kentucky by Cherry Valley Farm out of the Forty Niner mare Preserver, was a $190,000 RNA from the 2012 Ocala Breeders Sales Co.'s March sale of 2-year-olds in training after being purchased for $100,000 from the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale by agent Steve Young from the Claiborne Farm consignment.
The colt broke his maiden Jan. 12 at Gulfstream Park with a strong 2 1/2-length maiden victory going 1 1/16 miles on the turf, then came back Feb. 9 to miss to Fire Guard by 1 1/4 lengths in a $54,500 allowance at the same distance. He now has earnings of $93,900.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/77344/jack-milton-wins-first-stakes-in-transylvania#ixzz2PgkHyM2u
Revolutionary's Win Marks Him Serious KY Derby Threat
NEW ORLEANS – Whether he comes inside and knifes through traffic, or takes the scenic route and goes around everyone, Revolutionary is moving forward like a horse to be reckoned with in the Kentucky Derby on May 4.
Lou Hodges Jr.
Revolutionary holds off a determined Mylute to win the Louisiana Derby.
Revolutionary ($6.80) took a significant step forward on Saturday, when he made a powerful, wide move on the final turn, then held off a pesky Mylute to win the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds.
[DERBY WATCH: Top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders with odds and video]
The victory followed up on a troubled score in the Withers Stakes in February at Aqueduct. In both races, Javier Castellano was up.
“He did everything you could ask, last time and today,” Castellano said. “I’m looking forward to the Derby big-time.”
Besides a payday of $600,000 for first, the Louisiana Derby was worth 100 points to the winner under the new system put in place this year by Churchill Downs to determine eligibility to the Derby. That will be more than enough to put Revolutionary in the starting field.
Revolutionary crossed the wire a neck in front of Mylute, who was three lengths clear of third-place Departing, who suffered the first loss of his four-race career. Golden Soul was fourth and was followed, in order, by Ground Transport, Code West, Palace Malice, Sunbean, Titletown Five, Proud Strike, Hip Four Sixtynine, Nina’s Dragon, Brazilian Court, and Whiskey Bravo.
Revolutionary completed 1 1/8 miles on the fast main track in 1:50.28. Todd Pletcher trains Revolutionary, a colt by War Pass, for the WinStar Farm of Kenny Troutt.
“Huge performance from him,” Pletcher said at Gulfstream Park. “Sometimes you lose ground like Revolutionary did but you get a clean run at it, and sometimes you save ground like Palace Malice did and you take the worst of it. It worked out for Revolutionary, it was kind of a frustrating trip for the other horse.”
Revolutionary was calm in the paddock, which was chaotic with 14 horses and their connections.
“He didn’t turn a hair in the paddock," said Elliott Walden, the president and chief executive officer of WinStar. "He went around there like a puppy dog. All those things matter."
Walden said Revolutionary would be sent to WinStar in Kentucky on Sunday to recuperate from the race before heading to Churchill Downs for final preparations for the Derby.
Revolutionary has now won three straight races since beginning his career with three losses.
Trainer Tom Amoss, a New Orleans native, was thrilled with the way Mylute ran, but disappointed he could not win his first Louisiana Derby.
“There’s one out there with our name on it,” Amoss said.
As for the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby, Amoss said he would give it a few days before deciding.
“He answered the question of a mile and an eighth today,” Amoss said. “I was so worried about the distance that I didn’t even start to cheer until the last 40 yards.”
Fair Grounds Oaks Victory Keeps Unlimited Budget Unbeaten
NEW ORLEANS – Unlimited Budget gave trainer Todd Pletcher a sweep of the nation’s Kentucky Oaks preps on Saturday when she remained unbeaten with a thoroughly professional victory here in the Grade 2, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks.
Earlier in the day, Dreaming of Julia was an overpowering winner of the Gulfstream Oaks for Pletcher. Both races are worth 100 points to the winner under the system put in place by Churchill Downs to determine eligibility to the May 3 Kentucky Oaks, and those points are more than enough to put both in the maximum 14-horse field.
Unlimited Budget ($3.80), under Javier Castellano, finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of a stubborn Flashy Gray, who pressed the pace of So Many Ways. Flashy Gray gallantly tried to fight off Unlimited Budget, who stalked the two leaders while in third, three paths wide, for the first six furlongs of the 1 1/16-mile race.
Unlimited Budget was always going best, but Flashy Gray did not go down without a fight. Flashy Gray’s rider, Junior Alvarado, lost his whip just outside the furlong pole.
Flashy Gray finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Seaneen Girl, who ran well in her first start since November. Promise Me More was fourth and was followed, in order, by So Many Ways, Blue Violet, and Ante Up Annie.
Unlimited Budget completed 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:43.22. She has won all four of her starts, including the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra here last month and the Grade 2 Demoiselle last November at Aqueduct.
“I thought it went more or less like we thought,” Pletcher said at Gulfstream. “I thought she ran really well. I thought both her races at Fair Grounds were very impressive.
“She’s a very good filly in her own right,” Pletcher said, referencing Unlimited Budget in comparison to the clamor created by Dreaming of Julia at Gulfstream. “She’s 4 for 4. It’s hard to knock anything she’s done.”
Mike Repole owns Unlimited Budget, a daughter of Street Sense. Pletcher remained at Gulfstream on Saturday, so assistant Whit Beckman saddled Unlimited Budget.
Dreaming of Julia Devastates Gulfstream Oaks
Dreaming of Julia Devastates Gulfstream Oaks
Updated: Saturday, March 30, 2013 5:30 PM
Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2013 4:45 PM
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Courtney Heeney
Stonestreet Stables' homebred Dreaming of Julia left her connections dreaming of victory in the May 3 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) when she devastated the $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks (gr. II) March 30 at Gulfstream Park with a 21 3/4-length romp, leaving five opponents in the dust. (VIDEO)
The 3-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy out of the grade-I winning Wild Rush mare Dream Rush earned 100 points on the road to the Kentucky Oaks with her powerhouse win under Racing Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, vaulting to the head of the leaderboard for the Classic with 132 points overall.
"Awesome," owner Barbara Banke said. "She's a homebred; I have her mother, I have her brother... she's awesome. I think that's enough points (to get to the Kentucky Oaks) and that's her plan. We'll see how she comes out (of the race); she looks good now and hopefully we're en route to Louisville."
Dreaming of Julia was undefeated in her first three starts capped by a Frizette Stakes (gr. I) victory last October at Belmont Park for trainer Todd Pletcher, then registered her first defeat with a third-place finish in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park in November. She made her sophomore debut in the Feb. 23 Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) but finished second by 1 1/2 lengths in that 1 1/16-mile event to Live Lively, who returned to set the pace in the Gulfstream Oaks.
Off alertly at the break and favored at odds of 8-5, Dreaming of Julia settled second outside Live Lively as that one showed the way through opening fractions of :23.43 and :47.18. Live Lively had opened a 1 1/2-length lead by the half-mile marker and still maintained a half-length advantage after three-quarters in 1:11.16. But Dreaming of Julia was poised to strike from the three path and moved to gain command approaching the final turn.
From there to the wire it was a one-horse show as Velazquez allowed the brilliant bay filly to rumble, clocking a mile in 1:36.12 and finishing the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:48.97 under a hand ride. Live Lively held for second while Cue the Moon finished four lengths behind her in third.
Dreaming of Julia returned $5.20, $2.60, and $2.20. Live Lively paid $3 and $2.40, with Cue the Moon bringing $3.60. Completing the order of finish were Kimberly Jean, Emollient, and Original Script.
Bred in Kentucky, Dreaming of Julia now has a 4-1-1 record from six starts with earnings of $767,000.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/77205/dreaming-of-julia-devastates-gulfstream-oaks#ixzz2P475Lqrg
Ciao Bella Takes Rampart with Authority
Ciao Bella Takes Rampart with Authority
Updated: Saturday, March 30, 2013 4:18 PM
Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2013 3:03 PM
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Courtney Heeney
Michael B. Tabor's Ciao Bella ran like a favorite should March 30 at Gulfstream Park, holding the advantage from gate to wire and drawing off to a 4 1/2-length victory in the $150,000 Rampart Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO).
The 2-5 choice in a field of six older fillies and mares, Ciao Bella went 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.06 under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez when earning her first graded stakes score. She was followed home by stablemate Authenticity, giving trainer Todd Pletcher the exacta and his third consecutive Rampart win.
The 4-year-old Giant's Causeway filly was barely bothered on the front end after breaking sharply. She set soft early fractions of :24.64 and :49.20 with 3-1 second choice Successful Song tracking along outside about a half length behind. Ciao Bella opened a one-length advantage while going three-quarters in 1:13.07, and struck the head of the lane under a confident hand ride.
"We knew there wasn't a lot of speed except for Successful Song," Velazquez said. "It seemed like she didn't want to be on the lead, so it was pretty easy."
Authenticity was clearly second best by more than 11 lengths after closing three wide to pass a tiring Successful Song as Ciao Bella widened her advantage through the stretch. Go Unbridled, Call the Ten, and One Last Dance completed the order of finish.
"We were just third-best today," trainer Eddie Plesa said regarding Successful Song. "Ciao Bella was far superior...and we tried to put pressure on her. We just finished third."
Ciao Bella returned $2.80, $2.20, and $2.10. Authenticity paid $4.20 and $2.60 and Successful Song brought $2.20.
The win was a second stakes victory on the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) undercard for Pletcher, who took the Sir Shackleton Stakes with Travelin Man.
"It's a good start to the day," Pletcher said. "We were also looking at (the Ruffian Handicap) at Aqueduct for Ciao Bella (next Saturday). It was a tough call. I talked it over with Mr. Tabor and decided to keep her here. She was two-for-two over the main track. With the slow fractions, Johnny was able to dictate the race. The other mare (Authenticity) ran a good race to be second after getting bottled up behind the slow pace. I haven't got any specific plans for them right now."
Ciao Bella was bred in Kentucky by Chelston out of the French Deputy mare Bella Bellucci. After breaking her maiden on the Gulfstream dirt at the end of 2011 and making two other main track starts in 2012, she was moved to turf for a try at the Garden City Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park, where she finished fourth. At the end of 2012 she ran on the turf to finish second to Closing Range in the La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder Casino & Race Course after missing by just three-quarters of a length to Upperline in the Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes at Keeneland.
Switched back to dirt this season after a third-place finish in one outing over the Gulfstream lawn, Ciao Bella responded with a 5 3/4-length allowance win going a mile Feb. 18. The Rampart score improved her record to 4-2-1 from nine starts, with earnings of $236,960.
Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/77202/ciao-bella-takes-rampart-with-authority#ixzz2P47SDRqI
Graydar Outduels Mark Valeski in New Orleans Handicap
Graydar backed up his breakthrough score in the Donn Handicap by asserting himself late against a stubborn Mark Valeski for a clear-cut victory Saturday in the 88th running of the Grade 2, $400,000 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds.
Hodges Photography/Lynn Roberts
With Edgar Prado aboard, Graydar wins the New Orleans Handicap for his fourth win in five starts.
With Edgar Prado up for Twin Creeks Racing Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher, Graydar returned $4.60 as favorite in a field of eight older horses. Carrying high weight of 120 pounds while spotting his rivals one to nine pounds. He finished the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:49.16 over a fast main track.
Majestic Harbor, a 63-1 shot, set the pace, with Mark Valeski giving close pursuit and Graydar poised just to his outside. Nearing the quarter pole, those two chasers made their moves, and Mark Valeski, a 4-1 shot with Jimmy Graham up, maintained a head in front until inside the eighth pole, from where Graydar edged away to win by 1 3/4 lengths.
Macho Macho finished third, another three-quarters of a length back, with Bourbon Courage fourth and Flat Out fifth.
Graydar, a gray 4-year-old colt by Unbridled’s Song, “showed a new dimension, some versatility,” in coming from off the pace to win, said Pletcher assistant Whit Beckman, who saddled the colt while his boss watched from Gulfstream Park. “He ran a huge race.”
Graydar now has won 4 of 5 career starts. His prior race was the Grade 1 Donn on Feb. 9 at Gulfstream Park, where he led all the way in his stakes debut, with Bourbon Courage finishing second.
The $2 exacta (8-7) paid $22; the $1 trifecta (8-7-6) returned $24.40; and the 10-cent superfecta (8-7-6-2) was worth $10.46.