It’s been a crazy week…..it started last Sunday at Belmont Park when (long story short) I dropped an impromptu claim with Zilla Racing on Marriedtothemusic. We won the shake, the horse won the race with ease and…presto… all is right in the world again after the Gerard’s Warrior fiasco. He is doing really well…..so well in fact we wheeled him right back in the first at Belmont today (Friday). I’m not worried about the quick turnaround because he’s in good form right now, but the distance is what is somewhat troubling to me. I think his “wheelhouse” is 6 to 6 1/2 furlongs yet he will be going a mile this afternoon.
As the week progressed, it included me putting my back out in the gym and several days later receiving a phone call from Denise (my editor) saying she was “stuck in a car wash.”….never a dull moment, I will tell you that much.
Anyway, as I looked through the schedule to find this weekend’s Horse Racing “Races of the Week”, I noticed it must be “State Bred” racing weekend. Belmont Park, Laurel Park, Retama Park (Texas), Santa Anita, Thistledown (Ohio) and even as far north as Woodbine in Canada, are all running races that are restricted to only horses bred in their respective states.
That said, there were four races which caught my attention. First, our highlighted race is the $250,000 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland Race Course in Kentucky. The seven furlong sprint for three year old fillies drew a field of 11.
Elsewhere, we will look at a pair of New York State Bred races Saturday at Belmont Park in N.Y. The $300,000 Empire Classic, a nine furlong contest for three year olds and up, and the Empire Distaff, an 8 ½ furlong race for three year olds and up, fillies and mares.
Additionally, we will be looking at the Maryland Million Classic at Laurel Park. This is a nine furlong test for Maryland breds only and carries a $150,000 purse.
October 14, 2017- Back-Track
I missed this one. Engage, who went off at 3/5, came from last, circled the field on the outside and won going away. Albeit against a suspect field, I didn’t think he was this good…….Mojovation – broke a step slow, was rushed up to battle for the early lead and weakened down the lane in a disappointing effort….Barry Lee was making up ground late but simply could not reel in the winner who was much the best.
Great race! Rubilinda, who was fourth early on, charged to the lead in mid-stretch but had to go all out to hold off an oncoming Party Boat by a whisker on the wire. Thais was also charging hard, late, and was just a head behind those two. Like I said….. Great race.
Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup
La Coronel – was allowed an uncontested early lead and “stole” this one on the front end. Although clearly tiring in deep stretch, she had enough left in the tank to hold on to win by a half of a length. ….Daddys Lil Darling – was much closer to the early pace that I anticipated and just missed winning at almost 10-1.………Madam Dancealot – outran her odds as she came with a strong late rally to get third at 21-1. I saw no visible excuses for Uni, Proctor’s Ledge or 5/2 favorite New Money Honey.
WV Breeders Classic
Another absolute thriller! Charitable Annuity came with a strong six wide run on the turn for home and won a “blanket finish”. He won by a nose over North Atlantic and it was another nose to the late running 14-1 shot Weekend Liberty.
Saturday October 21, 2017
Race: 5 (2:34 PM EST Post)
Twisted Tom– has won 6 of 9 career starts. If you draw a line through his Belmont Stakes experiment, you’ll see he’s won 5 races in a row, has rising speed figures and back to back wins vs. NYSB’s on two different racetracks in his last two……logical choice…………..Governor Malibu – is just 3 for 17 in his career and 0 for 4 this year but don’t let those numbers fool you. Chestnut colt by Malibu Moon is consistent (13 of 17 starts on the board) and also runs well when dropped in against NYSB’s. Lastly, although he chased the streaking Diversify in his last and finished second, please note it was a long way back to the third place horse……………Trainer Rudy Rodriguez seems to have figured out what makes Control Group tick. After claiming this colt in January, he’s rattled off 4 wins in 7 starts including going “coast to coast” in his last 3 races. This son of Posse is clearly in career best form right now and figures prominent throughout, even though he is taking a pretty major class hike in this spot……………………Honorable Mentions: Can You Diggit – chased Twisted Tom in his last two and was not completely embarrassed in either race……………….Papa Shot – has hit the board in all 8 starts in 2017 including running third in a (almost) $900,000 purse race in Seoul, Korea in his last. Just two things trouble me. One, how will he bounce back from a trip to Korea after having just 6 weeks off? And two, he is giving me hints that he is cycling out of form……………. Testosterstone – drops back in to face NYSBs here after holding his own vs. open company most of 2017. The 6 year old gelding by Birdstone will also be cutting back in distance big time off his last two races. Add those two things up and you come up with, you guessed it, my beloved “drop in class/cut back in distance” angle.
Race: 10 (5:19 PM EST Post)
Bonita Bianca – has won 4 of 7 career starts (one second and one third). Filly by Curlin is 4 for 5 vs. NYSB’s, is 2 for 2 on this oval and 2 for 2 at this distance. Closes and should get a sufficient pace to run into in this spot. Only knock on her is her speed figures are alarming low………………..Literata – looms a major threat here based off her last 3 races. Filly by Read the Footnotes beat an allowance field at Finger Lakes, won a NYSB Stakes race at Saratoga and finished a very good third vs. open $62,500 claimers in her last. Her speed figures are “Steady Eddie” and she likes this track (on the board in 9 of 13 tries)………………Five Star Rampage – has won 4 of her last 5 on three different surfaces. Filly by Quality Road is obviously in peak form right now and another good effort looks promising…………………..Honorable Mentions: Pride of Saratoga – is also peaking right now based off the facts that she has won 3 of her last 4 at Finger Lakes and has recorded the 4 best speed figures of her career in those 4 races. Good looking filly by Proud Citizen has been firing bullet works for “Miah” in the morning which tells me she is holding form…………………..Trainer Linda Rice is being aggressive with Jcs American Dream in this spot and I’m trying to figure out why. After claiming this mare out of a slowly run NYSB $25,000 claiming race win, she spots her here? In a $250,000 Stakes race?? Rice spots her horses very well so something must be up with this 6 year old….watch the board 5 to 10 minutes before post time for further clues.
Race: 10 (5:13 PM EST Post)
Maryland Million Classic
(Note: of the six horses I mention here, four are cross entered in other races so I am expecting a couple of scratches) Bonus Points – chased Bricks and Mortar and the mega talented Pavel in his last two and will meet no such rivals in this race. I like the drop in class and his speed figures have climbed steadily since April, spanning 6 races…….slight edge here………………John Jones – is clearly the one to beat in this spot based solely off the fact that this 5 year old gelding by Smarty Jones is 7 for 13 over this surface (and just 1 for 8 everywhere else). So, can you say “Horse for the Course”? Moreover, I thought he ran terrific in NY in the top claiming level in his last, which was his first start in over 10 months. Note, he made up over 10 lengths in the last half mile of that race and it was run in a smoking 1:08.1 for six furlongs. Like I said, clearly the one to beat here………………Clubman – is in peak form right now after coming from behind and rattling off 3 straight wins vs. lesser. He likes this track (6 for 8 on the board over it) and that bullet 5 furlong work last week signals to me he is holding that form……………..Honorable Mentions: Nicaradalic Rocks – is just 3 for 28 in his career and, on paper, appears to be cycling out of form. But I am having a hard time ignoring the fact that this gelding has hit the board in 9 of 10 tries on this surface……………………Takethattothebank – is two necks shy of riding a five race winning streak coming into this. Albeit, this son of Fairbanks is 0 for 6 over this surface, his current form, which he seems to be holding based off the bullet work last week, must be respected in this spot……………………Ghost Bay – has been “right there” at the finish in 4 of his last 5 races. However, this son of Ghostzapper takes a sizable step up in class in this spot.
Keeneland Race Course
Race: 9 (5:30 PM EST Post)
Raven Run Stakes
1) Tequilita – came from behind to win the Charles Town Oaks in her last after a rough trip (bumped at the break and in the three path down the stretch).
Filly by Union Rags shows four straight wins sandwiching three losses to the likes of Salty, pro-tem three year old filly division leader Abel Tasman and the fleet American Gal.
She will meet no such rivals in this spot; she is 1 for 1 over this oval and 3 for 4 at this distance….narrow margin in a race that is/was ridiculously difficult to figure out.
2) Miss Sunset – has won 6 of 10 in her career including 3 of her last 4 on the West Coast. With her running style, this speedster by Into Mischief draws a tough post for this assignment.
Monster work on Oct 7th signals to me she probably comes out running and may not look back.
3) Chalon – chased Finleysluckycharm (who is 9 for 11 in her career) over this surface just two weeks ago.
After setting the early pace in that race, I loved the way she started to “retreat” at the quarter pole but “rebroke”, and battled back to get the place spot.
Although her speed figures continue to climb, I’m wondering how she will handle the quick turnaround here. With just two weeks between her last race and this one, it automatically makes her a “bounce” candidate.
Honorable Mentions: There are several due to the depth of this field:
Nonna Mela – is clearly a better filly at age three than she was last year. Filly by Arch wired mid-level optional claimers in her 2017 debut then chased Vertical Oak in a Grade: 2 over a sloppy track in her last. Both of those efforts were far better than any race she ran prior……could better this rating………………..Classy Tune – has been on the board in all 5 career starts and was heavily favored 4 of those 5. This filly clearly has the ability to win this race and the only reason I put her this low is because I found no visible excuse in her last where she was beaten fair and square by Miss Sunset…………….. Overture – has never been off the board in 7 career starts. This $385,000 Congrats filly was visually impressive making up almost 11 lengths in the last 3 furlongs of the Charles Town Oaks to finish just 1 1/4 lengths behind the top pick…..threat if she duplicates that effort in this spot. ………………….Pinch Hit – is tactical and has won 3 of her last 4. Filly by Harlan’s Holiday is improving for trainer Brad Cox……………..If you are shopping for a long shot, look no further than Happy Mesa, who will be returning to the dirt surface for just the second time in 11 career starts. By the gorgeous Sky Mesa, this filly (on paper) looks to be sitting on an enormous race and judging by her career debut the surface change will pose no problem at all.
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
2017- Record: 78-191 = 41%
2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
2013- Record: 20-59= 34%
2012: Record: 24-73= 33%
2011- Record: N/A
2010- Record: 24-74= 33%
Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** Two time Grade: 1 winner, The Factor will relocate to the Japan Breeders’ Association Farm for the 2018 breeding season on a one year lease.
The Factor, who has stood at Lane’s End since entering stud in 2013, is a leading second crop sire in North America, with $3,690,740 in cumulative earnings.
Trained by trainer Bob Baffert during his racing days, The Factor won six of 13 starts during his racing career, including the 2011 Pat O’Brien Stakes and 2011 Malibu Stakes, and retired with earnings of $922,180.
**** Multiple Grade: 1’s winner Mastery will stand his first season at Claiborne Farm in 2018 for $25,000, the farm announced last week.
The mega talented 3 year old son of Candy Ride was a perfect four for four while racing for Cheyenne Stables and trainer Bob Baffert.
The colt’s two year old campaign included lopsided victories in both the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity and the Bob Hope Stakes.
In 2017, Mastery established himself as my personal Kentucky Derby favorite after taking the San Felipe Stakes by 6 3/4 lengths.
Unfortunately, he sustained a condylar fracture in his left front leg down the stretch of the San Felipe, which was surgically repaired but deemed unfit to race on and was subsequently retired.
Mastery retired with $511,200 in earnings and won his four races by a margin of 19 1/2 lengths.
$25,000 is a steal if you ask me….
**** 2017 Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming will return to training in November and be pointed for a four year old racing campaign in 2018.
The 3 year old colt by Bodemeister was found to have stomach ulcers after the Aug. 26 Travers Stakes and was recently cleared to return to training by veterinarians after treatment and a month of being turned out at WinStar Farm in Kentucky.
“When Always Dreaming came to the farm, we had a complete physical conducted by Dr. (Larry) Bramlage and his team at Rood & Riddle. He checked out extremely well and was in very good shape, except for his stomach,” said WinStar president and chief executive officer Elliott Walden.
“He had a pretty bad case of ulcers. Dr. Steve Reed of Rood & Riddle said it was one of the worst cases of ulcers he has seen” Elliot added.
Always Dreaming will have a follow-up scope of his stomach in the next two weeks, and he’ll continue to be turned out through the end of the month. Plans then call for him to resume light training at WinStar’s training facility Nov. 1, before being sent down to Palm Beach Downs Dec. 1 to rejoin trainer Todd Pletcher’s Florida operation.
“I’m glad we found something that we could fix,” Pletcher said. “Up until the Preakness, I had never seen Always Dreaming get beat at anything, whether it be a workout or race. He did not act like a typical ulcer horse”.
**** 1995 champion older mare and Hall of Fame inductee Inside Information died Oct. 14 at Claiborne Farm near Paris, KY. from natural causes due to old age. She was 26.
“Double I”, who was one of best females I’ve seen in all my years of being involved of this sport, was born at Claiborne in May of 1991, the daughter of Private Account out of Pure Profit, by Key to the Mint, won 14 of her 17 career starts, including six Grade 1 victories, and earned $1,641,806.
Bred and raced by Ogden Mills Phipps, Inside Information was trained by Shug McGaughey. The gorgeous bay won six of seven starts as a three year old, including the Ashland Stakes, Acorn Stakes, and Bonnie Miss Stakes.
However, she went on a tear in her 1995 season as she won the Shuvee Handicap, Ruffian Handicap, Spinster Stakes, Molly Pitcher Handicap, and Monmouth Park Breeders’ Cup Handicap.
She was returned to Claiborne Farm upon retirement. As a broodmare, she produced Smuggler, the 2005 champion 3 year old filly.
In 2009, the Shirley Jones Handicap was renamed the Inside Information Stakes in her honor and she will be buried at Claiborne’s Marchmont cemetery.
This was by far her greatest performance, one that still stands out in my mind to this day:
***** Two time Grade 1 winner Mondialiste has been retired from racing and will stand at Geoff Turnbull’s Elwick Stud in Northern England, the farm announced Oct. 15.
His biggest win in this country came as a 6 year old when he won the Arlington Million XXIV Stakes by a neck.
Mondialiste raced in France, England, Canada, Hong Kong, Dubai, and the U.S., and recorded a record of 5-6-5 from 31 starts, 12 of which were Grade/Group 1 races, and earnings of $1,830,660.
Mondialiste will stand for a fee of £6,000 (just under $8,000) in 2018.
***** Breeders’ Cup Works/News: (Sunday)
* Pro-tem three year old male division leader West Coast, along with stablemate Cat Burglar, went six furlong in 1:12 flat.
“It was a good work. It was a nice, stiff work,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “Next week we have to decide if we’re going to run them or not, and he has to be doing really well.”
* Budding superstar Bolt d’Oro logged his first workout since his 7 3/4-length monster win in the FrontRunner Stakes.
The Medaglia d’Oro colt covered four furlongs in :48 4/5 without any asking, and ran the final furlong in :11 3/5.
Owner/trainer Mick Ruis said the plan for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile favorite was to “just get in an easy breeze”. (If coming home in :11.3 is an “easy” breeze, God help his competition).
“After the last race it looked like he could go a mile and a half, so we don’t have to put any stamina in,” Ruis said. “We just want to keep him happy and fresh for the race.”
Other notable works included:
*Abel Tasman – five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
* Constellation – (Filly and Mare Sprint) went seven furlongs in 1:26 4/5
* Hunt– (Breeders’ Cup Turf) went five furlongs in 1:02 1/5.
* Snapper Sinclair – (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile turf) went five furlongs in 1:01 1/5.
* Faypien – went six furlongs in 1:12 4/5.
* Midnight Storm – who could go in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile or Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile, went four furlongs in :48 4/5.
****2016 two year old champion male Classic Empire has been retired and will stand at Ashford Stud in KY beginning next year. A stud fee has not yet been determined.