Monday, April 27, 2015


Brereton C. Jones' Lovely Maria got her five-furlong work in :59 3/5 under jockey Kerwin Clark, while Fletcher and Carolyn Gray's I'm a Chatterbox went in 1:01 under jockey Florent Geroux for the same distance.

"I think we're having a very good morning," Jones said at Barn 43 as his two fillies were walking the shedrow.

Going out promptly at 8:30 a.m. EDT after the renovation break, I'm a Chatterbox was out in front of Lovely Maria by about 100 yards.

I'm a Chatterbox, from the first crop of Munnings  , went in :11 4/5, :23 4/5, :36, 1:01, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 2/5. Lovely Maria, a daughter of Majesticperfection  , went in :12, :23 4/5, :35 4/5, :47 3/5, :59 3/5, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13 2/5.

"It was great," Clark said of Lovely Maria's work. "I told the boss I wouldn't swap with anybody. She's on her way up. She worked great this morning; ears up; just very happy to be out there. She's ready."

"Both jocks came back happy," Larry Jones said. "I know when you look at Lovely Maria's work on paper, it's just picture perfect; every eighth was getting faster. Florent told me I'm a Chatterbox, who always starts off a little rank, was able to settle and relax and was in a nice, fluid motion. He was happy with the way she finished up and galloped out. He knows her better than I do.

"These guys know these horses. If I have to give them instructions here then I've got the wrong riders out there. That's the good thing about bringing your team in. They know the game plan, they know what they're doing. Obviously, it has been working for them."

I'm a Chatterbox swept the three stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots this winter. Out of the Lost Soldier mare Chit Chatter, I'm a Chatterbox has won four of six starts and has earned $468,614. She made two starts at Churchill last fall at 2 finishing third in an allowance/ optional claiming race and fourth in the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II).

Lovely Maria was second to I'm a Chatterbox in the Feb. 21 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) in New Orleans and won the April 4 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland. Out of the Thunder Gulch mare Thundercup, she's 3-3-0 from seven starts and has earned $402,600.

The two will be part of a full field of 14 for the Oaks.

"You can make a case for just about every horse in this race," Jones said. "They all have something on their resume that says, 'Hey, I can win this race.' We love the fact that both of our fillies are tactical; they have early speed and can get themselves into the race and hopefully avoid some issues and difficulties whenever it comes time to run. Hopefully we're seeing racetrack instead of horses' behinds."

The works were in the shadow of Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) likely favorite American Pharoah's five-furlong move in :58 2/5.

"We'll let him win the Derby," Brereton Jones said. "It looked like Lovely Maria did it real easy."

The former Kentucky governor and owner of Airdrie Stud has won the Oaks with Proud Spell in 2008 and Believe You Can in 2012. Both were trained by Larry Jones.

"Every time I've had confidence in Larry Jones," Jones said when asked to compare this year with his previous Oaks chances. "As long as Larry is with me, they're going to feel the same."




Patience is a virtue. You’d get no argument from Tyler Baze on that account, as he bided his time and orchestrated a thrilling nose victory in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Wilshire Stakes aboard the Eric Kruljac-conditioned Blingismything who prevailed in a four-horse photo while covering a flat mile on turf in 1:37.16.

Next to last with a quarter mile to run in a compact field of six fillies and mares 3-and-up, Baze split horses two off the rail a sixteenth out and eked out the win over a fast closing Smoove It, who was caught wide with Mario Gutierrez up.

“I won pretty easy, I thought,” said Baze. “She’s just a nice filly. I broke her maiden first time out a couple of years ago at Hollywood. This is my first opportunity to ride her back so I made the most of it. She’s a nice filly to ride with a big heart.”

Owned by Class Racing Stable, Blingismything was the second choice in the field at 5-2 and paid $7.40, $3.80 and $2.40. A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Arch, she was a close third in the Grade III Las Cienegas Stakes April 11, and the Wilshire triumph provided her with her first-ever stakes win. With the winner’s share of $60,000, she increased her earnings to $246,330 and ran her overall record to 10-4-2-3.

Trained by Doug O’Neill, Smoove It, who saved ground at the rail into and around the far turn, angled five-wide off the fence approaching the quarter pole and just missed at 6-1, finishing a head in front of her favored stablemate, Birdlover. Smoove paid $5.60 and $3.20.

“I thought I had it,” said Gutierrez. “She’s improving a lot and I was hoping to get that kind of race out of her.”

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Birdlover, who broke from the outside, was off at 9-5, made an easy lead and tired late to finish third, a nose in front of Indecise. Birdlover paid $2.40 to show.

“My filly broke beautifully,” said Bejarano. “We had an easy pace, 23 and change, 48 and change…it was perfect. The other horses were just flying late and we got beat a head. She ran great, no excuse.”

Fractions on the race, set by Birdlover, were 23.64, 48.79, 1:13.48 and 1:25.23.

Friday, April 24, 2015




              1. Gouyen
              2. Desert Steel
              3. Frandontjudge

              Live shot  Tale Of  Papa Nick



The speed/pace of this dash is Seek Safe Harbor....she drops in class and cuts back in distance.  This sprint has been won gate to take note when you are selecting a filly or mare to win this race.

THe stone cold closer that will fly late if the speed meltdown is Awe Gee........trained by Dominiguez who has been cold this year but do not dismiss horse or trainer.

Champion Risk ran   a 59 G sprint and ran like a horse that was like a mere prep.........She has been facing some high price claiming horse as she was over her field......She was over her head and now is back with horses that she can beat

               1. Seek Safe Harbor
               2. Awe Gee
               3. Champion Risk


One mile on the turf at the claiming price of 25 G's.......non winners of two open up to three year olds and up!


Cwevaro is on my watch list which is a better then what appears in the DRF. I expect he will be hammer down to a short price. He is a sprinter that sprint that stalks the speed. This race he will get a fast pace to run at. for thr turf and bred to get one mile stretching out s  real sprinter.

           1. Cervaro
           2. Wings Of Mojave
           3. Ransom Canyon


            1. Cuddle Alert
            2. Divine Tale
            3. Euroclydon

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Longines Kentucky Oaks 141
The first running of the Kentucky Oaks was on May 19, 1875 when Churchill Downs was known as the Louisville Jockey Club. The race was founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. along with the Kentucky Derby. The Oaks and the Derby are the oldest continuously contested sporting events in history, and the only horse races to be held at their original site since its conception. The Longines Kentucky Oaks was modeled after the British Epsom Oaks.

The Longines Kentucky Oaks is considered by some to be among the most popular horse races in American horse-racing society due to its high attendance. It attracts about 100,000 people in attendance a year.


"A variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome...a noteworthy special talent or quality... an indescribable quality; something about a person that you cannot put your finger on."

Those are all definitions of the term "X factor," and they all could describe Mubtaahij in this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) run May 2.

Perhaps the most relevant of those definitions in describingMubtaahij and his chances at Churchill Downs is the last..."something that you cannot put your finger on."

Yes, he could have a "significant impact on the outcome," and, yes, he definitely could be "a special talent," But if only we could put our finger on just how talented he is and where he fits with a group of Derby horses people are calling the deepest and most gifted in many years.

Americans, both fans and horsemen, seem to be pretty much split down the middle on whether we have a potential superstar on our hands who has a big shot to knock off this year's illustrious group of 3-year-olds or whether he simply has been beating up on a slow bunch of horses at Meydan and will not be able to match the speed of the Americans, while competing in unfamiliar surroundings in a 20-horse field with a French jockey on his back.

And that is why no one can really put their finger on how he is going to perform in the Derby. And that is what makes him so intriguing.

The son of Dubawi currently is stabled at Arlington Park and had his first three-furlong blowout over the Polytrack surface this morning, April 21.

Just look at some of the intangibles we are dealing with:

* He will be the only horse in the Derby racing without Lasix.

* In Dubai, he resided in an outdoor barn to get fresh air because he had been prone to lung infections as a young horse, but appears to have grown out of it and has been fine this year. But trainer Mike de Kock said one can never sure and has continued to stable him outdoors just in case.

* He trains without shoes and will not be shod until race day.

* He is the only horse other than 1971 winner Canonero II to come into the Derby having already raced twice at a distance farther than 1 1/8 miles, winning the last two legs of the United Arab Emirates Triple Crown (the Al Bastakiya and grade II UAE Derby), both at 1 3/16 miles.

* He has already competed in a Triple Crown series and has twice defeated a Triple Crown winner, the Southern Hemisphere-bred 4-year-old Sir Fever, winner of the Uruguayan Triple Crown.

* When he broke his maiden on the dirt at Meydan as a 2-year-old, he defeated 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds, something unheard of in this country.

* Unlike the majority of the American horses, he has raced five times in the past four months, and keeps improving.

* In the UAE Derby, Mubtaahij displayed a spectacular turn of foot and burst clear of his opponents, winning by eight lengths, with jockey Christophe Soumillon looking back twice in the final furlong. In winning the UAE Derby, he defeated horses from England, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, U.S., and Dubai.

In summation, we have an Irish-bred horse, owned by an Arab sheikh (Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum), trained by a South African, and ridden by a Belgian. And you're surprised you can't put your finger on this horse?

One thing you can depend on, a lot of people will be putting their finger on his number when they punch out their tickets, either at the track or on their computers. And many will be doing so because of that intangible called the unknown.

And that unknown also includes how the colt will perform without his regular (and special) feed that is not registered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be permitted in the U.S.

"I think that's the most significant thing with all the traveling," de Kock said on a national teleconference April 21. "It's something that's out of our control, and I understand where they're coming from. But no trainer would like to change a regular diet going into any sort of event. The diet I've changed to is something I do know a little bit about and have used before. But the fact is, it's not what he's used to regularly. How much bearing that would have on his performance, quite frankly, I'm not that sure. But from a trainer's psyche it's not ideal, let's put it that way."

As for the decision not to use Lasix, de Kock said. "It's purely about bleeding. As I understand things, Lasix is there to assist known bleeders and there has not even been a suspicion of this horse ever bleeding. I'm not sure what he'll do if given Lasix, and because he's never bled, I'm not prepared to gamble on his performance being altered with Lasix."

In discussing his decision to use Christophe Soumillon instead of looking for an American jockey, de Kock said, "I believe he will have a game plan in his mind and I don't like to interfere too much with jockeys because I don't want to hold them to any tactics. I believe if one employs a jockey, you can sit down and have a game plan, but there's no race ever run on paper. So you have to really have faith in your man, and if the game plan changes in the first 400 meters (quarter mile) of the race, well, so be it. One just has to accept that. The reason why I have Christophe Soumillon riding the horse is because I trust the man, I think he's a very good jockey, and I'm going to live by the decision he makes."

What makes this story all the more fascinating is that Mubtaahij's career on dirt nearly never happened, and most likely only did because he was such a disappointment in his first two starts on grass at Newmarket and de Kock had no idea what to do with him.

"He was showing us a fair bit at home, so we were quite disappointed with his first two starts in England," de Kock said. "I think he was kind of immature and just wanted a little bit of time. In fact, there was a great debate amongst us whether to take him to Dubai or not. We almost left him in England just to do the winter there, and then I thought, 'What the hell, let's get him to Dubai, get a bit of sun on his back, and see what he does.

"When he got to Dubai he just seemed to mature and enjoy himself, so we thought let's have a crack at a maiden race (on dirt) and he goes and wins that and just keeps improving. So it all happened by chance and we'll just accept the result as it is."

De Kock said he is confident Mubtaahij can handle all that is being asked of him because of his temperament.

"With his demeanor and the fact that he's an easy horse to travel and won so well in the UAE Derby, it gave confidence to take a crack at it," De Kock said. "But I probably picked the worst year when it comes to the opposition, but at the end of the day you never know. It's a sporting event and there are never any guarantees."

Some people in America also are skeptical about a horse traveling this far and being able to win a grueling race like the Kentucky Derby. But to de Kock, this is old hat.

"In South Africa, we train in Johannesburg and we race in Cape Town, which would roughly be 18 to 20 hours by van, and it's something we do very regularly during the Cape Town season. I'll do it multiple times and the horses win group I races regularly. I've shipped to Hong Kong to win multiple group I races there, which is about 12 hours door to door. It's not something that's actually foreign to us. I've put horses on a van for eight hours and race the next day and have been successful.

"I think the key to transporting horses is, a) the horse has got an appetite, and b) the horse has got to take in fluids. If you can get the balance of the two right, you've got half the battle won," de Kock said. "An 18-hour or even 24-hour journey to a destination to race is something that does not put us off."

As for Mubtaahij as a traveler, de Kock said the trip to Arlington Park was about 24 hours door to door (with a stopover in Amsterdam), and when the colt arrived he just didn't look quite the same as when he left Dubai, according to assistant trainer Trevor Brown.

"Trevor just felt that he looked a little bit tucked up, so I decided not to travel him down to the (Skylight) Training Center near Louisville as originally planned. Why put him on a van two or three days later and another eight hours shipping. Let's just stay in Chicago and let him recover and get used to his surroundings. We're very comfortable with that track and we've raced very successfully at Arlington.

"So we switched plan in midstride and I think we did the right thing, because within two or three days the horse was just bursting out of his skin and he hasn't stopped eating and drinking, and whatever weight he lost he put back on really quickly. As horsemen, we have to be flexible when it comes to these kinds of things. I think the horses talk to us."

In looking at the Derby and how Mubtaahij's running style would fit the likely pace scenario, de Kock said, "Given the little I know about the horses that are in there, the emphasis in America does seem to be on speed, and he's a horse who can relax fairly well off a hot pace and has a big kick and will be doing his best running toward the end. Certainly I'm not there to match the American horses for speed; I don't think we have that ability. But I do know we have the ability to get the 10 furlongs and we have the ability to come home strong the last three or four furlongs."

De Kock feels Mubtaahij has all the attributes to handle anything that is thrown at him in the course of the race.

"I think he needs the speed to be on and he's a horse who has courage enough to deal with the kickback, although I probably wouldn't want him down on the rail. We might just want to give ourselves the easiest passage sitting a little off the gallop, maybe a little wide away from all the trouble. In Dubai there was a fair amount of kickback and I think if he can deal with that, he can deal with most dirt tracks. He's got a lot of courage and a real competitive spirit and can deal with adversity. He never lays down in a race and I never work him in company because he's so competitive."

De Kock, however, admits the UAE Derby set up perfectly for Mubtaahij because of the hot pace.

"They went a little too quick early on with four horses taking each other on at a suicidal pace," de Kock said. "It was a little crazy up front and that's why his acceleration possibly could be a little flattering. The two Japanese horses really took each other on and he was able to relax behind them and get the perfect trip. He does have acceleration, though, and he does get the 10 furlongs and runs hard to the (finish) line.

"He has the ability to sit off a lot of speed and accelerate off that, and that's probably in his favor. However, in America I think we're taking on a different animal in that they can lay the speed down and keep going. So, we have to accelerate; we can't wait for them to come back to us."

Even coming from South Africa, de Kock not only appreciates what the Kentucky Derby stands for and the prestige it holds around the world, it is a race in which he has always dreamed of competing.

"It doesn't matter what country you come from, they Kentucky Derby has proven it's the greatest, and if it isn't, you tell me which one is. To be part of that is something very special to us. We're not going with a 100-1 shot, and it would be fantastic if he ran well. It is mind-boggling to think about it and I don't believe it will all settle in until we're actually there and see the real scenario and all the spirit around it all.

The name Mubtaahij translates to "elated," which is most appropriate, considering what de Kock feels having a horse like this and being able to embark on such a special journey.

"I don't think I'll be disappointed and I hope to gain everything out of it that I expect," he said. "It's something that has been an ambition and a dream since I was a very young man in this industry, and I'm really honored and privileged to realize that dream."



We would guess the skepticism about Line of David’s prospects primarily stemmed from the fact he ended his career by running 18th of 20 in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and that his sire, Lion Heart, had recently been dispatched to Turkey from Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky. Neither of these caveats, however, really holds water when it came to disqualifying Line of David as a potentially successful sire. A look at Line of David’s race-record suggests that he, despite a relatively brief career, had plenty of talent. He apparently failed to come to grips with the all-weather surfaces in Southern California in his first three starts, two as a juvenile, but when switched to the turf early at 3, he captured in succession, a maiden and an entry-level allowance, both over a mile at Santa Anita. Next time out, and making his debut on the dirt in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I), Line of David zipped through an opening quarter in :22.65 and a half in :46.26, before digging deep to hold on by a pair of necks from Super Saver  —winner of the Kentucky Derby—and grade I winner Dublin  .

As far as Lion Heart was concerned, he was almost certainly the best 2-year-old of his crop, and at 3 his credits included a victory in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I) and a second in the Kentucky Derby. And if he didn’t achieve a level of commercial success for him to be retained by Ashford, Lion Heart’s record as a sire is by no means an embarrassing one. From five Northern Hemisphere crops, he’s been represented by 34 stakes winners, and in addition to Line of David, they include Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) victor Dangerous Midge, grade I winner Tom's Tribute, and 14 other graded winners including Canadian Horse of the Year Uncaptured   and undefeated juvenile star Kantharos  .

We also liked the fact that Line of David’s granddam, Kentucky Lill, was closely related to Mr. Prospector (by Mr. Prospector’s sire, Raise a Native out of a daughter of Mr. P’s dam, Gold Digger), making him a natural to cross with mares carrying that strain. On a more esoteric front, it was also notable that he and Mr. P owned particularly strong linebreeding to the great foundation mare Frizette.

We can certainly say that Line of David is off to a promising start to his stud career—he is near the top of the 2015 second-crop sire list. So far he has been represented by two stakes winners: Firing Line and Cross the Line (winner of the California Derby and second in the El Camino Real Derby, gr. III).

It’s Firing Line that has been the real standout for his sire, and he had the opportunity to step out March 22 from the imposing shadow of Dortmund, who had narrowly defeated him in the Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I) and Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III). In the absence of his nemesis, starting as the 1-5 favorite for the Sunland Derby (gr. III), Firing Line was on or near the lead through sharp fractions and then romped home under a hand-ride for a 14 1/4-length victory. Firing Line’s time for the nine furlongs set a track record of 1:47.39.

Firing Line is the fourth foal and second winner for his dam, Sister Girl Blues, a daughter of the unraced Red Ransom horse Hold for Gold. Sister Girl Blues was purchased for $25,000 as a barren mare at the 2011 Keeneland January sale by the late Eamon Cleary, for his Clearsky Farms (now run by Eamon’s sons, Eamonn and Bernard). Sister Girl Blues had never won a stakes but showed well above average ability, finishing second to Adoration in the Hollywood Breeders’ Cup Oaks (gr. II) in only her second outing, and later taking runner-up spot to Azeri in the Vanity Handicap (gr. I). Sister Girl Blues is a half sister to the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) winner Mint Lane, and both her second and third dams produced minor stakes winners. The family doesn’t become really illustrious, however, until we reach Sister Girl Blues’ fourth dam, the Canadian Oaks winner and Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, Kamar.

The decision that Sister Girl Blues would be a good mate for Line of David wasn’t a difficult one. Line of David’s grandsire, Tale of the Cat  , had crossed well with Sister Girl Blues’ grandsire, Red Ransom, getting four stakes winners, two group or graded, and Lion Heart had also done well with mares from the male line of Red Ransom’s sire, Roberto.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015




DRAYDEN VAN DYKE, QUEEN OF THE SAND, WINNER: “I knew I had a lot of horse but it was all about getting through at the top of the lane. Luckily, I had a lucky break, was able to hustle my way out of there, got through and had a run. At the wire I knew I had it. Down the lane I saw Fanticola and knew she was fighting on, but I went left handed at the last second and got up there.”

TYLER BAZE, THREE HEARTS, THIRD: “I didn’t have anywhere to go. Mario (Gutierrez on Tangelo) laid on me the whole race and never really gave my horse a shot to run. He had no horse. He was all over me from the time the gates opened. By the time I could get her out to run, it was too late.

“She doesn’t really have a fast turn of foot but she’s real honest. She’s tries, she’s a really nice horse. She ran hard. For that horse to be all over the top of her, the whole race, she’s a nice mare.”


PADDY GALLAGHER, QUEEN OF THE SAND, WINNER: “I was a little concerned with the pace, and she did have some trouble in the race in upper stretch, but Drayden (Van Dyke) had talked to Mike (Smith) who had been riding her, but was out of town today, and he helped Drayden with some advice.

“She had been training well and her last race helped her, I think. We’d look at the Gamely for her next race (Grade I, $300,000, 1 1/8 miles on turf, May 25).”



TYLER BAZE, GET HAPPY MISTER, WINNER: “He was really nice to ride, a really classy horse. I’ve never been on him but I watched all his replays and rode him accordingly. It looks like he can do anything; he loves to run. I let him run out of there and had a beautiful trip. When Pure Tactics and Sweet Swap hooked up in front of me and opened up five I knew they were flying. I just took my time. When the time was right he just . . . he’s so big and strong and he has a huge stride. Just a really classy horse.

IF THEY ASK YOU TO GO TO COLORADO WILL YOU GO RIDE? “We’ll see! If they ask me, maybe!”


MARK TSAGALAKIS, GET HAPPY MISTER, WINNER: Asked about trying him on the grass for the first time: “Right now, there weren’t a lot of choices. The horse was doing super. It was time to let him rock and roll. It was fun. This is my first stakes win.”

Asked how many years he’s been training: “Too many to count, probably close to 25 years. I’ve won some races, but never a stakes. The race came up, he was ready to go, we were eligible for it, it was like ‘Let’s give it a try.’ We had him out on the turf the other day, he seemed to like it, and he did.

“The plan is to go back home to Colorado and then come back here in the fall and run here again. We’ll play it by ear but that was the original plan and we’ll just enjoy it for now and think about that next week.”


“I bought him at a 2-year-old sale in Arapahoe. I’ve been in the business about 14 or 15 years. He has a little history with his name, Get Happy Mister. We were sitting at the auction and I was with my trainer, Butch Gleason. He was getting nervous because everyone was bidding on him. I just said, ‘What? What’s your problem? Do you want that horse?’ He said ‘Yes!’ so I said ‘then get happy!’ and that’s how he was named.

“He’s been a joy. I don’t know his limits and after today, I have no idea. I’m just amazed that he did as well as he did today. He’s just been training out of his skin. It’s all due to Mark, he takes his time. He takes his pulse every two hours.”

NOTES: This is Mark Tsagalakis’ first stakes win ever. He was 52 on March 23. Winning owner Annette Bishop is from Denver.



With scintillating performances by top older horse Shared Belief and Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund highlighting a 68-day run that started on Dec. 26, Santa Anita Park’s 2014-15 Winter Meet drew to a close Sunday, with the track posting a three percent increase in overall pari-mutuel handle and a four percent hike in on-track attendance.

For the second year in a row, Santa Anita will conduct a 39-day Spring Meeting, which will kick off on Friday, April 24 and run through June 28. First post time on Friday will be at 1 p.m., and first post each weekend, with the exception of Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes Days, will be at 12:30 p.m.

Santa Anita will again offer fans free Infield admission and parking, via Gate 6 on the track’s northern perimeter.

With Dortmund, American Pharoah, Firing Line and others leading a talented Santa Anita-based contingent of 3-year-olds into the May 2 Kentucky Derby, expectations are running high, as the $1 million Santa Anita Derby has produced 17 winners of the Run for the Roses, including last year’s running which was taken by California Chrome.

Trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Kaleem Shah, Dortmund remained undefeated on Derby Day, April 4, as 38,647 on track fans contributed to an overall handle of $21,586,685.94.

The Race of the Meet, as voted by the media, was the Grade II, $500,000 San Antonio Invitational on Feb. 7, in which Shared Belief defeated 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome.

Peruvian-born Rafael Bejarano, 33, notched his sixth Winter Meet riding title as he finished with 76wins, 18 better than runner-up Tyler Baze. In the trainers race, Jerry Hollendorfer defeated Peter Miller in a photo finish, 34-33. It was Hollendorfer’s second consecutive Winter Meet title. In the owners division, Hronis Racing, LLC, led the way with 13 wins, two more than runner-up Rockingham Ranch.

Trained by John Sadler, Hronis Racing’s Stellar Wind was an emphatic 5 ¼ winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks April 4, and she’ll carry the Hronis colors in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks on May 1.



ARCADIA, Calif. (April 19, 2015)–Although they will both be racing for the second time off lengthy layoffs, the similarities end there as up and coming Abbey Vale and classy Quick Casablanca figure prominently among a field of eight older horses set to go 1 ¼ miles on turf in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Last Tycoon Stakes at Santa Anita.

Speedy Abbey Vale overcame an 11-month absence to win a second condition allowance here on March 27, as he pressed the pace and went on to an impressive one length win at 1 1/8 miles on turf. Trained by Phil D’Amato, the 5-year-old Irish-bred was originally conditioned by the late Mike Mitchell, who sent him out to a 1 ¼ length win in his U.S. debut going a flat mile on turf on March 8, 2014.

With two wins from three Southern California starts, Abbey Vale, who is owned by Ellis, R/M Racing and Sim, will try graded stakes competition for the first time and is 18-3-4-1 overall with earnings of $98,014.

D’Amato will also be represented by classy Big John B, who has been idle since running ninth, beaten 5 ¼ lengths in the Grade I, 1 ½ miles Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 1. A winner of the Grade II, 1 3/8 miles turf Del Mar Handicap three starts back on Aug. 23, the late running Big John B will again be handled by regular rider Mike Smith. Owned by Michael House, the 6-year-old gelding by Hard Spun is 30-11-5-4 overall with earnings of $482,805.

Chilean-bred Quick Casablanca, an imposing physical specimen who won last year’s Last Tycoon in his first start for Ron McAnally, came off a nine-month freshening to run a close eighth, beaten 5 ½ lengths, in the one mile turf Thunder Road Stakes on April 4. A Group I winner in Argentina in March, 2012, 7-year-old Quick Casablanca is 20-4-7-5, with earnings of $612,830.

Neil Drysdale’s Power Foot comes off a good third in the Grade II, 1 ½ miles turf San Luis Rey Stakes on March 21 and he’ll get the services for the first time of Rafael Bejarano.

The complete field for the Grade III Last Tycoon, to be run as the eighth race on a nine-race card Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Big John B, Mike Smith, 122; Power Foot, Rafael Bejarano, 120; Ganesh, Flavien Prat, 122; Joes Blazing Aaron, Tyler Baze, 120; Play Hard to Get, Kent Desormeaux, 120; Si Sage, Elvis Trujillo, 120; Quick Casablanca, Gary Stevens, 120, and Abbey Vale, Tiago Periera, 120


American Pharoah 
Bob Baffert

Pioneerof the Nile—Littleprincessemma, by Yankee Gentleman

He had to win the Arkansas Derby and win impressively to keep that superstar aura that has surrounded him since last fall. His well of talent is bottomless and he just keeps reaching new heights of sheer brilliance with every performance. And now we learn that he can rate behind horses, which makes him all the more formidable in a year loaded with talented 3-year-olds. Watching it live, I would have preferred if Espinoza had ridden him out to the wire and not eased him to such a degree, but after further viewing it was apparent that had he not eased him to a gallop, he would have won by 15 lengths in 1:47 and change and that might not have been in his best interests with the Derby coming up in three weeks. What was impressive was his ability to rate kindly, while tracking brisk opening quarters of :22 3/5 and :23 1/5 and still come home his final eighth in :12 2/5, despite being eased to a crawl with his ears straight up. Although his time was three-fifths slower than older horses in the Oaklawn Handicap, that winner was hard-ridden to the wire, and on top of that, American Pharoah was carrying six more pounds. With his 105 Beyer speed figure, he has now run four consecutive triple-digit Beyers. The only question left is how he will stand up to a challenge, as he has never been battle-tested. Who knows what an athlete will do after a series of strolls in the park and then having to slug it out against some tough heavyweights, especially his own stablemate Dortmund, an intimidating and proven street fighter. Then again, he may not need to be battle-tested if he is as scary good as he looked on Saturday.

 Bob Baffert

Big Brown —Our Josephina, by Tale of the Cat

Baffert wants to emphasize that there is little separating Dortmund and American Pharoah. It’s one thing to be fast, but it’s the ability to go fast and do it so much easier than the others that makes a horse all the more imposing and separates him from his opponents. And both these horses, with their magnificent strides, have shown the ability to go fast while appearing to be just loping along, which will take the steam out of anyone running near them. But sometimes an attribute can be a detriment in other areas. In Dortmund’s case I cannot recall a horse this big with such a humongous stride winning the Derby. The closest I can recall is Winning Colors. So it’s all about keeping him in the clear and using that stride to his advantage, because it could very easily work against him with a bad break, bad post, or traffic problems. If you’re trying to weave your way through traffic and tight holes you want to be in a Lamborghini and not a Dodge Grand Caravan. When you have a horse who takes one stride to his opponents two, that is a big weapon to have going 1 1/4 miles, as long as you don’t have to abruptly step on the brake. We all witnessed how effective that same weapon was for Zenyatta when she was kept in the clear, but we also saw what can happen when she had to do a lot of maneuvering in traffic in the 2010 BC Classic. What he has going for him is his tactical speed and the ability to use it on the lead if he has to. He is so light on his feet for a big horse it is easier for him to work out a perfect trip than other horses his size. As of now, Dortmund will do all his serious training at Santa Anita and then ship to Churchill after his final work a week before the Derby.

Carpe Diem 
Todd Pletcher

Giant's Causeway—Rebridled Dreams, by Unbridled’s Song

If this horse is going to lose the Derby, there is a better chance of him losing it before the race than during the race. He has it all; the complete package…once the gates open. But he has had issues at times in the saddling stall, on the walking ring, in the post parade, and at the gate. If he can have those problems at Tampa and Keeneland, what’s going to happen with all the craziness and turmoil at the Derby? Ironically, the main problem he’d been having, which was getting in the gate, was the only problem he didn’t have before the Blue Grass. He must get past the walkover, the saddling, the paddock, “My Old Kentucky Home,” and then the gate with 20 horses loading. His grandsires are Storm Cat (through Giant’s Causeway) and Unbridled’s Song, so there is a lot of hot blood there, capable of boiling over at any time. Unbridled’s Song, in fact, lost it before the ’96 Derby when the crowd cheered after “My Old Kentucky Home’ and he did almost a complete 360 wheelie. There have been a lot worse horses than this guy, and he hasn’t let his issues take a toll on his performances so far. The strange part is that he was always a very quiet, easy-going horse as a baby, who went about his training with no problem and then slept most of the day. He does have a great deal of class about him once the gates open and he’ll have to rely on that class. If he can get through the preliminaries and keep his cool, and not waste too much physical and mental energy, his tremendous natural ability, fluid action, and high cruising speed are going to make him very tough to beat.


Kiaran McLaughlin

Tapit—Fast Cookie, by Deputy Minister
This colt is one of the lucky few in that his issues, and he had several, all appear to be behind him, as McLaughlin seems to have tinkered with him just right and corrected everything to the point where he is coming off a flawless performance in the Wood Memorial and brings no bad habits into the Kentucky Derby. Some people can’t see a son of Tapit going the mile and a quarter in top-class company, but I don’t see pedigree as an issue at all, especially with a strong female family. He also is one of the few horses to win a major stakes without once feeling the whip. It’s easy to put the whip away when a horse is coasting along with a huge lead, but when you’re trying to catch a live horse in the stretch who is opening up on the rest of the field and still don’t need the whip, while keeping a perfectly straight course, that is a major advantage. And when you can come home as fast he did in the Wood, you have to go into the Derby with a great deal of confidence. This is a horse who obviously needed blinkers, had a breathing problem, and wasn’t showing any explosive kick in the stretch. This is not that horse anymore. We saw an example of who he is when he was merely toying with Upstart and Itsaknockout at the quarter pole in the Fountain of Youth. Edit out the last quarter mile of that race, when he apparently displaced, and pick it up in the Wood and you have an impressive reel that suggests this is one very serious horse who is sitting on a peak performance.


Mike de Kock

Dubawi —Pennegale, by Pennekamp

Some people insist on using the lack of success of past UAE Derby runners in the Kentucky Derby to get a gauge on this colt. That’s like saying Mine That Bird couldn’t win the Derby because no Sunland Park-based horse had ever won it before. We have never had a UAE Derby horse like this before. Yes, he will have a long journey to Churchill Downs and is coming off five races in four months and two at 1 3/16 miles, and there is always the question of whether if he can keep moving forward or if he is over the top. Mike de Kock will be the one to tell us the answer, and you can count on whatever he says. If he says Mubtaahij traveled great and is feeling great and training great, you can take that to the bank. This was no last-minute lark. This is de Kock’s first Dubai-trained 3-year-old bred in the Northern Hemisphere and Mubtaahij was an early Triple Crown nominee. Other than Mubtaahij’s inconsistency in changing leads I sure can’t find any flaws in him. Of course, there is the question of whether he’s fast enough to run with these horses. To his credit, he won the UAE Derby by eight lengths on his left lead, while taking a lot of kickback down the backstretch. Some also question the competition in Dubai and rightly so. But did you ever hear of a horse named Lot o’ Gold? He was a nice useful horse, nothing more, yet he finished second to Spectacular Bid in the Hutcheson, Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby, and Blue Grass Stakes. Sometimes it’s just about the eye test. This colt passes that with flying colors and is one of the few Derby contenders who has zero question marks regarding his ability to get the mile and a quarter. He will do a the  bulk of his training over a Polytrack surface at a nearby training center before shipping to Churchill on Derby week. It's nothing new, as he trained over the Tapeta training track in Dubai.

Firing Line 

Simon Callaghan

Line of David—Sister Girl Blues, by Hold For Gold

He has maintained his sharpness, working a strong 5 furlongs in :59 1/5. As previously mentioned, this could very well be the forgotten horse and another whose ceiling is a mystery right now. Expect to see an improved version of the horse who lost those two heartbreaking photos to Dortmund, as he was coming off only a pair of sprints. The Sunland Derby romp had to boost his confidence after his tough defeats, but he did not beat anyone of consequence in that race, and he now has to go into the Kentucky Derby off a six-week layoff and with a pedigree that appears to be borderline going 1 1/4 miles. Like American Pharoah, Dortmund, Materiality, Carpe Diem, Stanford and others, he likely is going to be caught up in the wave of fast tactical speed horses who want to be on or near the lead. Some of these horses will be forced to take back, and it’s just a question of which one will emerge from the first tier. Whether he can withstand that kind of pace pressure and stay the 10 furlongs is a big question mark. While he is a smooth mover with a decent reach to his stride, it appears to be on the quicker side and doesn’t have the extension of the top three contenders. But, again, we really don’t know how good he is, and he has come from a bit off the pace before, so he could very well avoid the fracas up front. One thing is pretty sure; he is going to make his presence felt and should still be in the thick of things deep into the race. And he is Gary Stevens’ type of horse. Stevens has made a Hall of Fame career out of riding horses just like this.

International Star 

Mike Maker

Fusaichi Pegasus—Parlez, by French Deputy

There are some who really like this colt and rank him in their top 5 and others who don’t like him at all, feeling he is too slow, beating an inferior group of horses at Fair Grounds. What can’t be denied is the fact that he’s won three straight graded stakes and did it in three different ways. In the Lecomte, he was trapped behind horses along the inside and had to be abruptly steered to the outside and still was able to run down a good horse in War Story, while changing leads twice in the final sixteenth. In the Risen Star, he squeezed through a very narrow opening on the rail and again outran War Story. Then in the Louisiana Derby, he pulled off the rail at the top of the stretch, came between horses and wore down a very stubborn opponent in Stanford who had controlled the pace through easy fractions. In fact, he was the only horse to get near Stanford, as all the other closers failed to challenge the front-running Pletcher colt. International Star should have no problem with the mile and a quarter and is one of only a handful of true closers in this year’s field. And if you’re looking for constant steady improvement, his Beyers have climbed every race: 66—74—84—90—93—98. He is one of these plain brown wrappers with not a lot of size to him, but he is well balanced and athletic with a very efficient stride and possesses a powerful late knockout punch. And most important, he is fearless; there isn’t a hole he won’t go through, no matter how small. With this horse, it is wise to remember, brilliance and beauty do not win Kentucky Derbys.

Danzig Moon 

Mark Casse

Malibu Moon—Leaveminthedust, by Danzig

Don’t let his Blue Grass defeat turn you off in any way, especially since he was compromised in the Tampa Bay Derby incubating a viral infection. Remember, since 1990, 11 Derby winners have come off a victory and 13 have come off defeats, with eight of those coming off a second-place finish. And the one thing those eight had in common is that in their second-place finishes they all pretty much maintained the same margin at the eighth pole to the wire without losing any ground to the winner, who they came back to beat in the Derby. The biggest exception was Funny Cide, who was a head back at the eighth pole in the Wood and was beaten a half-length by Empire Maker. Danzig Moon was 3 1/2 lengths behind Carpe Diem at the eighth pole and was beaten 3 lengths, so he certainly fits that same pattern. And as far as pedigree, he is one of the few horses who should improve going a mile and a quarter. Whether he is ready to take a big step forward against these horses, especially maturity-wise, remains to be seen. I’m not sure if we’re ready to see the finished product just yet. But he definitely should keep improving and is not one you want to ignore just because he was beaten in the Blue Grass.

 Todd Pletcher

Afleet Alex—Wildwood Flower, by Langfuhr

This colt remains a huge question mark because of his inexperience, lack of racing foundation, and his running style. But what makes him possibly the biggest enigma in the field is his untapped ability and brilliance. He’ll have to be very special to win, bucking so much history, but he just may be that special, and that is what makes him so perplexing and difficult to handicap. Sometimes, you pick up little things about a horse from the most mundane sources. I saw a close up photo of him turning for home in the Florida Derby, and even with being challenged on his outside by a tough horse in Upstart, his left ear was straight up in the air, as if he were merely toying with him, while his right ear was pointing straight out to the side, as if he was aware of Upstart’s presence and was tracking his every move. I remember Affirmed used to do that whenever Alydar came up on his outside. Now, that may be insignificant and mean absolutely nothing, but I did find it interesting in that it might have revealed two special qualities in the colt at the same moment.

 Rick Violette

Flatter—Party Silks, by Touch Gold

We’ll have to monitor his illness to see if it’s anything to be concerned about or just a mild bug that will have only minimal impact on his training schedule. The good news is that his fever was gone quickly, so there’s a good chance it will turn out to be nothing more than a 24-hour bug. But even so, that’s not something you want to have to deal with three weeks before the Derby, and you don’t want to miss a work, having to go into the Derby off five weeks. Fortunately, he has a solid foundation, good bottom, and has had a couple of tough races to get him fit, so he might be able to get away with missing a work three weeks out, although that gives him only two works between the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. After those two grueling races over an agonizingly slow and demanding track, he is one horse that should benefit from the five weeks. He ran like a tired horse in both the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, judging by his inability to keep a straight course in both races.

Far Right 
Ron Moquett
Notional—Zindi, by Vindication

Here is your longshot sleeper. He actually turned in a pretty strong effort in the Arkansas Derby, considering how far back he was. Mike Smith certainly wasn’t going to beat him up trying to catch American Pharoah, and, remember, he did skip the Rebel to freshen up for this race and was given only three works since Feb. 22. Getting beat 7 lengths in his final prep in the Santa Anita Derby didn’t stop Ferdinand from winning the Kentucky Derby by daylight. This was a much better performance than it looks on paper. His trouble began when he broke inward, bouncing off American Pharoah, and found himself far back in last, some six lengths behind the next-to-last horse and about 15 lengths off the lead. Smith asked him to run nearing the three-eighths pole and he began passing horses, while 6 wide at the top of the stretch. Smith then eased him to the far outside where he was herded badly by Win the Space, who forced him several paths farther out. He still was able to charge home his last eighth in about :12 or :12 1/5 to snatch second from Mr. Z while striding out very well at the finish and galloping out strongly. He’s finished in the money in eight of his nine career starts, with his only out of the money performance a fourth in the Futurity at Belmont when he didn’t have the best of trips. He also has a win a second, and a third in three starts at Churchill and definitely looks like one of those 25-1 shots who can come flying late in the Derby to at least pick up a piece of it. Ron Moquett and the owners have themselves a tough, consistent runner who always gives his all, with a pedigree to get the 1 1/4 miles with no problem. And he’s one of only a few true closers in the field, who fires every time.

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