This week in Horse Racing is supposed to be one of the more festive ones as “Derby Week” official starts. Basically, Derby Week consists of a week long party in Louisville, Kentucky as they build towards the 2012 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. However with the news of Dynaformer, one of the more influential stallions in recent years, passing I must admit it threw some cold water on an otherwise really fun week.
Dynaformer had been resting comfortably, eating well, and maintaining his daily turnout routine in the days following an aortic valve rupture the afternoon of April 14 while in his stall, but his health took a turn for the worse on the evening of April 28.
Dynaformer, who was known for being ornery, started in 30 races from 1988 thru 1989, winning seven of them, placing in five, and coming third twice. Bred by Joseph Allen and owned by Paul Lynn, his Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas once said Dynaformer “was the most difficult horse I ever trained.”
But it wasn’t on the racetrack that Dynaformer excelled…it was in the breeding shed. He started his career as a stallion for a modest $5,000 but when he was pensioned some two weeks ago it was $150,000.
Dynaformer has been a top sire four times in the last five years, and actually finished as the leading stallion in 2005.
He sired Mystery Giver, Perfect Drift and Americain, winner of the $6 million 2010 Melbourne Cup and now Dynaformer’s leading stakes earner.
Dynaformer’s versatility was notable also as he sired McDynamo, the five-time winner of the Grade I Breeders Cup Grand National Steeplechase, and two of his better fillies were Riskaverse and Film Maker.
The irony of it all was Dynaformer died on Sunday April 29…..which just so happens to be the birth date of arguably his best offspring in the ill-fated 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.
“Dynaformer told us when it was his time to go,” said Jim Morehead, DVM, Three Chimneys’ resident veterinarian. “Amazingly, he had been comfortable after his initial crisis on April 14 and had been able to go to his paddock daily. A normal horse would not have survived his initial cardiac episode. He did everything on his terms, including deciding when he’d had enough.”
Looking ahead to the big day (Saturday), some news and notes:
(In alphabetical order)
Alpha– had a very light exercise at Belmont Park Monday morning before being shipped to Churchill Downs.
“He just walked this (Monday) morning because we’re shipping today and he has new shoes,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He will train Tuesday morning in Kentucky at the scheduled time for the Derby horses, 8:30. He will gallop 1 3/8 miles.”
“Other than that, we’re all set,” McLaughlin said. “He’s doing great.”
Bodemeister– walked the shedrow Monday morning, after breezing five furlongs in :59.3 on Sunday morning.
“He looks good,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He handled the work pretty easily. He’s a very fit horse. We just need to draw well and have some racing luck.”
Creative Cause– worked a half in :47.3 Monday morning in a work trainer Mike Harrington called “perfect”
“It was perfect in my book”. Harrington said. “I wanted him to show he was on his game and he did it fairly easy.”
Exercise rider John Cisneros said “He was gliding like he always does. When I asked him for a little more in the stretch, he came flying. I’m very happy. What made me even happier was Mike’s ‘Good job, John,’ when I came off the track.”
Daddy Nose Best– worked six furlongs in 1:16.3 on Monday. The Sunland Park Derby winner went in fractions of :13.1, :25.3, :37.2, and 1:02.2 for five furlongs
He appeared to be on cruise control while running the final eighth in :12.
“Daddy Nose Best has been in a very good rhythm,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “He’s put in some very good works over the racetrack and just want to keep that rhythm with him and keep him happy.”
Done Talking– galloped the Churchill Downs surface upon his arrival from Laurel Park inMaryland.
“He was fresh coming off the van and we wanted to do a little something today,” said James Springs, groom and exercise rider for trainer Hamilton Smith.
Dullahan- galloped a strong 1 ½ miles on Monday morning and I still can’t believe how good he looks physically. I’ll go ahead and tell you now; I expect a huge performance from him this weekend.
El Padrino- breezed the four furlongs in :53.1 on Sunday.
Gemologist- breezed a half-mile in :50.2 Sunday as well.
Hansen –last year’s 2-year-old champion galloped 1 ½ miles on Monday. It was the first day back at the track for the almost white colt by leading sire Tapit, who had worked five furlongs on Saturday.
I’ll Have Another- put in a brisk gallop Monday morning. “He likes the racetrack and is really training well here,” said trainer Doug O’Neil.
Optimizer- walked the shedrow Monday morning, one day after his five-furlong drill in 1:00.2.
With the recent announcement that Mark Valeski was being withdraw from the Derby Optimizer, who was 21st on the earnings list, is now in.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas indicated Optimizer would return to the track Tuesday. “One thing about him, he’s a true mile-and-a-quarter horse.” Lukas added.
Prospective– galloped 1 ½ miles on Monday after the renovation break.
“There may be more talented horses in this year’s Derby, but I’m not sure any of them are training any better than my horse going into the race,” trainer Mark Casse said
“He handled the heat just fine this morning,” Casse said. “He’s a class act. I’m very pleased with where we’re at, knock on wood.”
Rousing Sermon– galloped 1 ½ miles Monday morning and got a glowing report from interim trainer from Christina Jelm,
“He’s not even breathing hard,” Jelm, who sometimes helps look after Hollendorfer horses when he ships them to Kentucky to run. “He jogged to paddock before his gallop, We wanted him to get a feel for the track. He was very relaxed throughout and he switched leads right on cue.
“The exercise didn’t take anything out of him. He went about his business very professionally.”
Sabercat- worked in fractions of :12.3, :24.2, and :36. He then galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.1 and a sixth furlong in 1:15.3.
“Little sharper [than last week’s five-furlong work in 1:02.4],” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “We’re wanting him to be a little quicker. He needs to be a little faster. I like his experience but I think he’s a horse that’s going to have to run faster than he has to this point.”
Take Charge Indy- got some light exercise at the Palm Meadows Training Center (in Fla.) and is scheduled to be flown to Louisville early Tuesday morning.
“Our track was still deep in mud. We rain and thunder,” trainer Pat Byrne said. “Indy walked under tack for about 30 minutes then we went out to the racetrack and he proceeded to jog about a mile and an eighth”.
“He’s eager to do a bit more, but I didn’t want to take a chance on galloping him on a deep, muddy racetrack. I’d love to have been able to get a gallop into him, but that’s OK. We’ll just just fly there and we’ll let him gallop over the track at Churchill on Wednesday morning.”
Trinniberg– blew out two furlongs under jockey Willie Martinez Monday morning.
“We backed up to the wire and got all the way up to the three-eighths pole and from there on I was able to ease him out at the top of the lane and let him stretch his legs a little bit. That’s all we wanted to do,” Martinez said. “We weren’t looking for any time.”
Union Rags– worked five furlongs in :59.4 on Saturday, got a day off on Sunday and jogged two miles on Monday.
Trainer Michael Matz has been impressed with Union Rags’ attitude and energy level since arriving at Churchill Downs last week.
“(Exercise rider) Peter (Brette) said he thought he was going to pull his arms out this week,” Matz said. “There’s nothing else we can do except keep him happy until Saturday.”
“He’s a very happy horse. He’s always been a happy horse, very easy to deal with,” Brette said. “He’s certainly coming into himself right now. Since we’ve brought him up toKentucky, he’s certainly starting to peak.”
Went The Day Well- jogged once around the Churchill Downs track Monday morning under the supervision of David Rock, assistant to trainer Graham Motion. He had walked the shedrow on Sunday after working five furlongs in 1:01 on Saturday.
“I was very pleased with the work. I’ve watched it a couple of times since and have become even more pleased. I don’t know what more he could have done,” Motion said from his Fair Hill headquarters.