Monday, May 21, 2018


Justify Emerges From the Fog to Win Preakness
Derby winner dueled with Good Magic and held to win second Triple Crown leg.

There are portions of the May 19 Preakness Stakes (G1) that will be unknown to anyone who wasn't riding the horses.

In an intense, white fog at Pimlico Race Course, Justify and Good Magic—the top two finishers in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1)—dueled for the second prize in the Triple Crown. In the final turn, they were still beside each other, but from the quarter pole to mid-stretch, they disappeared.

At the eighth pole—when they returned to visibility—it appeared the battle had taken its toll on Good Magic, but the Derby winner kept on. The Bob Baffert-trained chestnut continued to drive to the wire as his rival tired, but it wasn't a breeze to the finish like his victory at Churchill Downs.

The closers were coming.

Bravazo—who stalked the pace in third during the backstretch run, about two or three lengths off the leaders—made the boldest move, widest of four in the final sixteenth, but came up a half-length short as Justify and jockey Mike Smith hit the wire in 1:55.93 for 1 3/16 miles over a sloppy (sealed) track. Tenfold, who also loomed three wide in the final furlong, finished a neck behind Bravazo and a neck in front of Good Magic for third.

"That was a nail-biter," Baffert said. "They put it to us. That was a good horse (Good Magic), and it was like they had their own private match race. Somebody had to give, and I'm glad it wasn't us. ... He had to really work for it. ... Good Magic, I tip my (hat) to him. He made us really work. He's a really good horse."

The fractions went in :23.11, :47.19, and 1:11.42 through six furlongs, and Justify had a head in front at each point of call. Good Magic's trainer, Chad Brown, said he was unhappy with the Curlin  colt's trip under jockey Jose Ortiz.

"I didn't want the horse on the lead. I'm disappointed with the trip," Brown said. "The post (5, inside of Justify, who broke from post 7) didn't help. We were inside (Justify) the whole way. Unfortunately, our horse took the worst of it being on the fence and getting pressed the whole way. He's not a horse that runs on the lead, so I'm pretty disappointed. He didn't give up. I know this horse very well, and he's not a horse to be on the lead. No way.

"You guys asked me all week what I wanted to do—sit off the pace and follow (Justify) around the track. And he's following us around."

Baffert also wasn't all that pleased with the pace setup, at least from what he could see in the backstretch.

"The quality—you can only get away with it with a superior horse, like he is," Baffert said. "Sometimes as a trainer and a jockey, we have to count on that horse to make up for—I can only do so much in two weeks, and I went really easy with him. ... Good Magic really put it to us. ... They didn't give it away. He was going to make us earn it, and I wasn't liking it down the backside ... but this is what makes horse racing so great.

"These great horses, they find themselves when they get in that situation, and today he showed he's not only this big, beautiful, gorgeous horse, but he is all racehorse. And that's what it took today."

Once he dispensed of Good Magic—who, to his credit, only finished a length behind the winner—Smith said he saw Bravazo closing on the outside but felt the wire would come in time.

"I looked over with about a hundred yards to go and saw him on the outside, but the wire was coming up pretty quick, and I felt we had him at bay," Smith said.

The Hall of Fame rider may have been comfortable and confident in the irons, but there were plenty of uneasy moments for Justify's other connections, especially when the Scat Daddy colt owned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing, and WinStar Farm disappeared from view.

"My boys were with me, and they said, 'I can't see anything,' and when I heard my boys say, 'He's making his move,' I saw the white (WinStar) colors turning for home. ... But I was never really relaxed during the race," Baffert said. "I knew he was in for a fight. I knew it was not going to be easy. But all I was doing—I was just praying for the wire."

The tension of not knowing what was occurring in the the thick fog was a common topic after the race.

"Really what got me more than anything is when they turned for home, and all of the sudden I couldn't see him," said WinStar owner Kenny Troutt. "That scared me to death."

"It seemed like an eternity, but when they went into the fog, I was like, 'Where are they? Where are they?'" said Elliott Walden, WinStar's president, CEO, and racing manager. "Just the anticipation of them coming out, and you knew when they went in that he was in front, so you were hoping to see those white silks coming out."

Teo Ah Khing of China Horse Club called the Preakness the "longest race of my life. Waiting for 20 seconds without seeing the result—it was like years."

Those who were looking to upset Justify were also in the dark as the field turned for home, hopeful the duel took just enough out of the Derby winner.

"What I saw of it, I liked a lot," said Bravazo's trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. "I want them to extend it another 50 yards. He was running on at the end. ... A very good horse won the race—a very good horse. We ran at him. We kept him honest just like we said we would."

Smith, as the pilot, shed the most light on Justify's trip around Pimlico in front of an announced crowd of 134,487.

"(He) jumped (out of the gate) extremely well, and I was really happy he did that," the rider said. "(I was) a little bit concerned going around the first turn. He jumped the tracks right past the wire, where they roll the things out, and when he did, he really got to slipping. After we straightened up down the backside, he got back underneath himself. I felt very good. I looked over, and I looked to my inside and saw it was Good Magic. I said, 'Oh, man. It's going to be a match race from this point on.'"

The rider also indicated Justify got "tired" and may have waited on the field once he got in the clear.

"Although he got tired today, he was also looking around a bit at the end," Smith said. "A bit of greenness came out today, but he also got pushed pretty hard early on."

For Tenfold's trainer, Steve Asmussen, the third-place effort was encouraging enough for him to take the next step.

"Absolutely," Asmussen said when asked if Winchell Thoroughbreds' homebred Curlin colt would take on Justify in the Belmont Stakes (G1) with a Triple Crown on the line. "Heck yes."

Tenfold, who made just his fourth start in the Preakness and finished fifth in the April 14 Arkansas Derby (G1), his stakes debut, raced in sixth early and appeared to get the jump on Bravazo for second but was passed late.

"When he came out of the fog, he was game," Asmussen said. "I'd say he got beat three-quarters of a length for all of it. He's a top-class horse who is getting better. We were three-quarters of a length away from where we want to be. Let's figure out how to get it."

Lukas also indicated Bravazo could return in three weeks at Belmont Park.

"You never know, but I think he'll bounce back pretty good," Lukas said. "We've got three weeks. I'm pretty confident he'll be OK."

A length behind Good Magic came Lone Sailor, who was followed by Sporting Chance, Diamond King, and Quip to complete the order of finish. Quip, who raced in fourth early on and crossed the wire 33 1/4 lengths behind Diamond King, came out of the race without apparent issue, according to his connections.

"It looked like we had a good trip, but he just stopped," said trainer Rodolphe Brisset. "We were in a good position. It looks like he came back OK."

The victory was Baffert's seventh in the Preakness, which moves him into a tie with trainer R. W. Walden for most in the classic. Justify has a flawless record from five starts, with $2,998,000 in earnings. He was bred in Kentucky by John Gunther out of the Ghostzapper mare Stage Magic and was a $500,000 Keeneland September yearling sale graduate from Gunther's Glennwood Farm consignment.

"Since the first time we worked him, raced him at Santa Anita, and when he broke his maiden, we've always known," Baffert said. "We were pretty confident we had something really, really special. Something like American Pharoah , something like Arrogate —they're freaky horses, just like all the greats."




There is a Pick Six carryover into Thursday at Santa Anita of $63,001.  With three dark days in the interim, track officials project Thursday’s total Pick Six pool will exceed $250,000.

With a Single Ticket Pick Six Jackpot payout on Saturday of $714,919 (purchased for $960.00 through TVG), there was another six-figure hit on Sunday, as there were two winning tickets in the 50 cent Late Pick Five, each worth $198,013.

First post time on Thursday, day one of a special holiday five-day race week, is at 12:30 p.m.  Approximate post time for Thursday’s third race, leg one in the Pick Six, is at 1:30 p.m. PT.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Saturday, May 5, 2018




        (9) HOFBURG.........TRAINED BY MOTT...SIRED BY TAPIT........


Wednesday, May 2, 2018



A pair of Irish-breds, West Palm Beach and Pursuing The Dream, along with Kentucky-bred Exuberance, all figure prominently among a field of seven 3-year-old fillies in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Senorita Stakes at one mile over the Santa Anita turf.

An impressive winner over the course of her U.S. debut on March 16, West Palm Beach, who is trained by Simon Callaghan, seeks her fourth consecutive win on Saturday and looms the probable favorite with Tyler Baze taking over for Flavien Prat who is away to ride in Kentucky.

Trainer Jim Cassidy’s Pursuing The Dream, who pressed the pace and was beaten three quarters of a length in her U.S. debut, a 6 ½ furlong hillside turf allowance here on March 30, will get the services of Stewart Elliott and will likely be on the lead or thereabouts.

Trainer Ian Kruljac’s Kentucky-bred Exuberance, who will try turf for the first time, was second two starts back in the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes and was most recently a troubled fourth in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 7.


Owner:  Michael B. Tabor                             Trainer:  Simon Callaghan

A winner of her last two starts in England this past November, this Irish-bred filly by Scat Daddy tried turf for the first time in her U.S. debut March 16 and she responded with an authoritative 1 ¼ length win as the 7-5 favorite in a one mile turf allowance.  She has three wins from five overall starts and appears to be the horse to beat.


Owner:  D P Racing and Madaket Stables, LLC                     Trainer:  Jim Cassidy

Dismissed at 10-1, she ran too good to lose in her U.S. debut down the hillside turf, finishing fourth, beaten three quarters of a length while earning a solid 79 Beyer Speed figure.  With Drayden Van Dyke away to ride at Churchill Downs, Stewart Elliott will take over on what appears to be an improving filly for Cassidy.


Owner:  Seltzer Thoroughbreds                Trainer:  Ian Kruljac

The leading money earner in the field with $131,200, she has a good measure of class and faced much tougher fillies in her most recent start, the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, a race in which her chances were compromised by a troubled start.  A Kentucky-bred filly by Archarcharch, she’ll be ridden for the first time Tiago Pereira as she tackles turf for the first time in what will be her seventh career start.


West Palm Beach–Tyler Baze–120
May Girl–Joe Talamo–120
Exuberance–Tiago Pereira–120
Treasuring–Brice Blanc–120
Consolida–Julien Couton–122
Pursuing The Dream–Stewart Elliott–120
Movie Moment–Geovanni Franco–120

Special early first post time for an 11-race card on Kentucky Derby Day, Saturday is at 12 


Justify, light on experience but apparently long on luck, drew a solid spot for the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), getting post 7 at the draw for the $2,192,000 Run for the Roses May 1 at Churchill Downs. Oddsmaker Mike Battaglia installed the Scat Daddy colt as the 3-1 morning-line favorite.

Justify, who races for WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, and Starlight Racing, has only made three starts and carries the history of the "Apollo Curse" with him. Apollo, in 1882, was the last horse to win the Derby without racing at 2—but Justify has impressed in each outing. He comes to the Derby off a three-length score over the seasoned Bolt d'Oro in the April 7 Santa Anita Derby (G1).

Justify is trained by Bob Baffert, who is tied with D. Wayne Lukas with four Derby winners. Baffert has sent out 27 horses in the Derby, and also trains Zayat Stables' Solomini, who landed in post 17.

Baffert walked into the room just after Justify drew the seven.

"I walked in and looked at the board," he said. "I forgot which colors we were using. I said,'There's a WinStar. Is that Justify in seven?' I'll take that.

"I'm happy; everybody should be happy with their posts. I wanted to be in the middle or outside. We didn't want the one-hole, that's for sure."

The race is slated for 6:46 p.m. EDT and will be shown live on NBC.

International star Mendelssohn was tabbed as the 5-1 second choice after drawing post 14.

The most expensive sale yearling in 2016 when he went to M.V. Magnier for $3 million at the Keeneland September yearling sale, Mendelssohn has drawn the most buzz of any European-based runner since Arazi caused a frenzy on the Churchill backstretch in 1992. Sent off at 9-10 in the Derby following his scintillating run in the previous year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), Arazi ran eighth.

Mendelssohn, by Scat Daddy out of 2016 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Leslie's Lady, won last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T) at Del Mar. Pointed toward a dirt run under the Twin Spires, he had his training somewhat compromised by cold weather in Europe this winter, but turned the racing world on its ear with his 18-length score at Meydan in the March 31 UAE Derby Sponsored by Saeed and Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2).

Mendelssohn arrived in the states April 30, landing in Indianapolis. He was vanned to Churchill Downs and is bedded down in the quarantine barn (Barn 17) on the backstretch. He is expected to take to the track May 3.

Trainer Todd Pletcher holds four aces for the Derby. He's 2-for-48 lifetime in the Run for the Roses, having won with Super Saver in 2010 and with Always Dreaming last year.

His runners are Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible (post 5), Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Magnum Moon (post 16), Wood Memorial Presented by NYRA Bets (G2) winner Vino Rosso (post 18), and Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Noble Indy (post 19).

Robert and Lawana Low's unbeaten Magnum Moon, the 6-1 third choice, also faces the "Apollo Curse."

Pletcher maintained a poker face throughout the draw, even when the first of his four horses wasn't assigned a position until the 13th announced post, and then three ended up in the auxiliary gate (posts 15-20)

"It's kind of strange the way it unfolded with all four of them being so late," Pletcher said, and "three of the four in the auxiliary gate wouldn't have been what I ideally wanted. But you know you can work out good trips from bad posts and get bad trips from good posts."

Pletcher said he felt best about Audible in post five. 

"Noble Indy and Magnum Moon have good tactical speed so hopefully they can get away from there cleanly and establish position," he said. "And I think Vino Rosso's looking to settle in the middle, and Audible got the best post of the group."

Pletcher did feel a little better, pumping his fist, when NBC Sports' Donna Barton showed him one of her notes that four of the last seven Derby winners came from the auxiliary gate.

"We'll go with that angle," Pletcher said.

Audible, a New York-bred son of Into Mischief , races for WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, and Starlight Racing, and also captured the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park. Javier Castellano will ride. John Velazquez rode Audible in the Florida Derby, but has opted to ride Vino Rosso in the Run for the Roses.

Luis Saez will be aboard Magnum Moon, a strong winner of the Rebel Stakes (G2) prior to his four-length score in the Arkansas Derby. By Malibu Moon , Magnum Moon was a $380,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase by the Lows.

Good Magic, last year's champion 2-year-old male and winner of this year's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) drew post 6. E Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Thoroughbreds Holding's son of Curlin  will be ridden by Jose Ortiz and was pegged as the sixth betting choice at 12-1.

"Hopefully if he breaks away from there, he can secure a nice ground-saving position that first turn," said trainer Chad Brown. "I'm fine with it. It was one of those deals where you didn't want one of those first couple posts right down inside or something way, way outside where he's going to lose ground going 1 1/4 miles. It's a long way to go as it is and to add more distance to the race I don't think would work with this horse. So where he is, he can hopefully save some ground on both turns and work out a good trip."

As for being right next to Justify in post seven, Brown said: "Potentially he might be a good horse to follow into that first turn."

Ruis Racing's Bolt d'Oro was second to Justify in the Santa Anita Derby. The son of Medaglia d'Oro  was third in last year's Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) behind Good Magic and Solomini after winning back-to-back grade 1 races in Southern California.

Bolt d'Oro will break from post 11 under Victor Espinoza. He's the fourth betting choice at 8-1.

"One and 11 load first and one thing about Bolt is he's nice and cool," said Ruis. "He's almost too cool, that he can get relaxed in there. We've been working on that and I think it will be OK. I like it.

"I think there will be five horses probably in front of us and we go in the second tier the way it looks like it right now. It looks like we have some lay-back type horses, one to the left and two to the right of us so that kind of gives us some separation. That's what Victor wanted was to be in the second tier so I think it's about a perfect draw."

Espinoza knows his way to the winner's circle with three Derby wins under his belt: War Emblem (2002), California Chrome  (2014), and American Pharoah  (2015).

The fear of all Derby horsemen is drawing the rail, once a golden path to Derby success, but recent history puts the one-hole right next to purgatory. Ferdinand in 1986 is the last Derby winner to come from post 1, and prior to that Chateaugay won from there in 1963. That's two-for-55. However, last year longshot Lookin At Lee rode the rail to the runner-up spot behind Always Dreaming.

Mr. Amore Stable's Firenze Fire (50-1) drew the rail for Derby 144.

"I'm happy with it. I'm happy to be here, but I'm also happy with the one hole. Hopefully where we start is where we finish," said Mr. Amore Stable's Ron Lombardi. "The one hole is the third-most winning post position. After the five and the 10, it's the one and the eight. Everyone is against the one but you look up statistics and it's there. I'm happy with it."

Trainer Jason Servis said: "I'm OK with it. I'd rather have it than be stuck in 19 or something. We can save some ground and not have to be hung up wide."

The top spots to break from since the starting gate was first used in 1930 are post 5 (with 10 winners including Always Dreaming) and post 10 (nine winners; the most recent Giacomo in 2005).

Big Brown is the lone winner from post 20, but that slot has only been used 16 times since 1930. The last 10 winners of the Derby came from: 5, 13, 15, 5, 15, 19, 16, 4, 8, and 20.

Blended Citizen, winner of the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) is the lone also-eligible. Scratch time is 9 a.m. May 4.


Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 05, 2018, Race 12

Grade I1 1/4mDirt $2,000,0003 yo6:50 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1Firenze Fire (FL) Paco Lopez 126 Jason Servis 50/1
2 2Free Drop Billy (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Robby Albarado 126 Dale L. Romans 30/1
3 3Promises Fulfilled (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Corey J. Lanerie 126 Dale L. Romans 30/1
4 4Flameaway (ON)Keeneland Sales Graduate Jose Lezcano 126 Mark E. Casse 30/1
5 5Audible (NY) Javier Castellano 126 Todd A. Pletcher 8/1
6 6Good Magic (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Jose L. Ortiz 126 Chad C. Brown 12/1
7 7Justify (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Mike E. Smith 126 Bob Baffert 3/1
8 8Lone Sailor (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate James Graham 126 Thomas M. Amoss 50/1
9 9Hofburg (KY) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 126 William I. Mott 20/1
10 10My Boy Jack (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Kent J. Desormeaux 126 J. Keith Desormeaux 30/1
11 11Bolt d'Oro (KY) Victor Espinoza 126 Mick Ruis 8/1
12 12Enticed (KY) Junior Alvarado 126 Kiaran P. McLaughlin 30/1
13 13Bravazo (KY) Luis Contreras 126 D. Wayne Lukas 50/1
14 14Mendelssohn (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Ryan L. Moore 126 Aidan P. O'Brien 5/1
15 15Instilled Regard (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Drayden Van Dyke 126 Jerry Hollendorfer 50/1
16 16Magnum Moon (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Luis Saez 126 Todd A. Pletcher 6/1
17 17Solomini (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Flavien Prat 126 Bob Baffert 30/1
18 18Vino Rosso (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate John R. Velazquez 126 Todd A. Pletcher 12/1
19 19Noble Indy (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Florent Geroux 126 Todd A. Pletcher 30/1
20 20Combatant (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Ricardo Santana, Jr. 126 Steven M. Asmussen 50/1
21 21Blended Citizen (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Kyle Frey 126 Doug F. O'Neill 50/1
Get This 4 Column Template Here
Get More Templates Here