TACITUS is a regally bred son of Tapit from Grade 1 winning mare Close Hatches owned by Juddmonte Farms, the Aga Khan. Tampa Bay Downs photo

New Shooters Scoop Points

Of the 3 major stakes races on Saturday that are considered stepping stones to the Kentucky Derby, it is not certain if any of the winners have Derby faves Game Winner et al worried. The Tampa Bay Derby was likely more relevant for the Derby hunt as it was run on the dirt and Turfway’s Jeff Ruby Steaks was on synthetic dirt and Aqueduct’s Gotham was run at one mile.

TACITUS (named after one of the most famous Roman historians) came up the rail to sneak off with the Tampa stakes race at 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.90, a stakes record. He earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. The colt had only raced two other times – last year in New York and he had won his maiden in his most recent race.

The sizzling early pace in the Tampa Bay Derby certainly helped the winner who was 3 wide most of the way until he moved up the rail in the stretch run.

For trainer Bill Mott and Juddmonte it was a much better day than last Saturday when the much-hyped 3yo colt Hidden Scroll fizzled in the Fountain of Youth. A week later they are in the winner’s circle with a keen colt who rallied from off the pace, sneaked up the rail and won with flair.

The Tapit colt is the first foal of Champion mare CLOSE HATCHES (First Defence) who earned over $2 million for Juddmonte.

The day after the Tampa Bay Derby, Mott said that Tacitus, who is a “big, tough horse”  came out of the race in good shape and is likely to make his next start in one of three races: the Grade II Wood Memorial on April 6 at Aqueduct, the Grade II Toyota Blue Grass on April 6 at Keeneland or the Grade I Arkansas Derby on April 13 at Oaklawn Park. All are at a distance of a mile-and-an-eighth.

“He’s run in New York (twice), so it’s very possible we could go there,” Mott said.

A crowd of 10,275 thrilled to the exciting action on a sunny, balmy afternoon. Total wagering handle on the 12-race card was $13,956,020 and change, the second-highest amount in Tampa Bay Downs history.

TACITUS emerges as a Kentucky Derby contender for the Aga Khan – AMBER CHALFIN PHOTO –

SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN led all the way at 3 to 5 to win the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park on Polytrack. Canadian breds Skywire and Federal Law finished well back – TurfwayPark photo

At Turfway, the Big Brown colt SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN led all the way to win the Jeff Ruby Steaks (Grade 3) on Polytrack, racing 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.05 for an 83 Beyer Speed Fugure. The colt, who was heavily favoured at 3 to 5,  picked up 20 points for the Kentucky Derby

In New York at Aqueduct, HAIKAL won the 1 mile Gotham (Grade 3) with a charging finish in 1:35.63 for a 95 Beyer Figure. The son of Canadian bred stallion Daaher from a Distorted Humor mare, is owned by Shadwell Farm and the colt has won three straight races.

HAIKAL (far left) roared past runners form behind a very fast pace to win the Grade 3 Gotham and he is now in the Kentucky Derby picture – NANCY ROKOS photo –


On the QUEEN’S PLATE front, a number of hopefuls were in action on the weekend while the race’s current big favourite Avie’s Flatter bides his time training in Florida. TONE BROKE, who has been in Dubai this year with trainer Steve Asmussen, was eased up in the Al Bastakiya on Saturday. The race was a final prep event for the UAE Derby. Tone Broke had shown promise at Remington last year.

A Turfway Park, FEDERAL LAW was checked hard early in the Rushaway Stakes and then dropped back in his season debut for trainer Mark Casse and owner Qatar Racing. SKYWIRE, one of the favourites in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, was undefeated after 2 races going into the 9 furlong race but he was outrun and finished 8th with a 67 Beyer Figure. The colt had just won his maiden with a 77 Beyer Figure in his season debut and this was his first stakes test.

WESTERN CURL, a Curlin filly from Chiefswood Stable, had her second run on the Gulfstream dirt and was outrun. The filly was an impressive maiden winner on grass last year at Woodbine.

*In other Plate news, stakes winner MY SILENCER has been moved to trainer Mark Casse and recently recorded his first workout at the Casse Training Centre. The Silent Name gelding, owned by Heste Sport, won the Frost King Stakes first time out and was 3rd in the Kingarvie. The sophomore was outrun in his Gulfstream debut on grass in January. My Silencer worked 3 furlongs in :36 on March 5 for Casse.

Mark Casse is also training some horses for Joe Guerrieri’s Joey Gee Thoroughbreds including stakes winning SPEEDY SOUL, a Woodbine Oaks prospect.

Thoroughblog’s Queen’s Plate Top 10 (updated Monday, Mar. 11):

1. Avie’s Flatter
2. Bold Script
3. Skywire
4. My Silencer
5. Awesome Wok N Roll
6. Green Fleet
7. Come on Gerry
8. Desert Ride
9. Dun Drum
10. Moon Swings


FLAMEAWAY gets back in the winner’s circle with his return to Tampa Bay Downs. for the Challenger Stakes. He is an Ontario bred by Scat Daddy – Tampa Bay Downs photo

Four-year-old FLAMEAWAY, bred by Deb Holmes and owned by John Oxley, won Saturday’s $100,0000 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. The son of Scat Daddy – Vulcan Rose was winning for the first time since he won the Sam Davis at Tampa Bay last year. He had been on the Kentucky Derby trail last season. The colt has 6 wins in 15 races and his earnings are over $909,000.





Last week the Santa Anita main track was closed for more analysis and the training track was flooded with horses. The main track was expected to be available for light training today – VANESSA NG PHOTO

Analysis and work has been done on the main track at Santa Anita and racing could resume at the California oval as soon as March 22. The track has put protocols in place.

Moving forward, Santa Anita Park will require trainers to apply for permission to work a horse (a timed high-speed training exercise) at least 24 hours in advance. This will allow track veterinarians to assist in identifying “at risk” horses through the evaluation of past performances, workout data and physical inspection. Santa Anita has hired additional veterinarians to observe all horses entering and exiting the tracks each morning during training hours.

Santa Anita had previously announced a change to the morning training schedule to ensure a more orderly and safe process. The first 15 minutes of training after the main track opens, and after each renovation break, are now exclusively reserved for horses working for an officially clocked time. This will allow horses going at a faster pace to encounter less traffic, thus providing a safer environment.

TSG is also announcing the creation of a new position, Director of Equine Welfare, which will be held by an accredited veterinarian. This person will be responsible for the oversight of all aspects of equine well-being and will lead a new Rapid Response team for injuries which will be tasked with conducting transparent investigations of all factors involving the injury, as well the communication of their findings to the racing and general public.

As has been implemented with great success at Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita will now institute a “House Rule” requiring complete transparency with regard to veterinary records. This mandates that the veterinary records of a horse follow that horse through any trainer or ownership change, including a claiming race or private sale.

“This has worked very well at Gulfstream Park,” said Ritvo. “There was some pushback from the trainers at first, but this is the best thing for the horse. Now, everyone has bought into the process as they realize they are also on the receiving end of this information intended to understand the full medical history of that horse.”

TSG is strongly committed to working with the California Horse Racing Board and industry stakeholders in evaluating racetrack safety. The goal is to establish a culture of health and safety throughout all of the racetracks, creating checks and balances, intervention strategies and working together to identify factors to help mitigate risk to horses and riders. This includes the continued engagement of Dr. Mick Peterson of the University of Kentucky and veteran trackman Dennis Moore, and other independent racetrack surface experts to continually review both the dirt and turf courses for consistency, composition and compaction, as well as the exploration of advancements in injury detection and prevention.

“Every one of us, from our Chairman and President (TSG) Belinda Stronach, to our employees, to every trainer and owner and person who works in the stable area, we all have deep, deep love for horses,” said Ritvo. “It’s why we get up every day. It’s all about the horses. Human medicine is more advanced than equine medicine, so if there is new technology or equipment that will assist in increasing the ability to discover our pre-existing injuries, we’re going to invest in that technology and bring it to our horsemen.”


The new one mile track in Alberta, Century Mile, will open for racing on April 28.












The amazing gelding KILLIN ME SMALLS was one of the first horses to train in the Century Mile strip this winter. The Marcavelly gelding from Curly Girl has won 21 races from 54 starts, many stakes races and he has earned $591,000 – ATOBA photos


Opening day of the 2019 live racing season at Hastings Racecourse has been moved to Saturday, May 4 after an interruption of training schedules in February and March due to inclement weather.

“Excessive February freezing temperatures in Vancouver limited our opportunities to train at Hastings,” said Darren MacDonald, Regional Director, BC Racing. “At the request of the HBPA, BCTOBA and CTHS-BC, we have canceled the first three days of our original schedule and will go with the May 4 start date, extending our 2019 racing calendar through the final weekend of October.”

Opening day festivities at Hastings will include four $50,000 stake races – the Swift Thoroughbred Inaugural, Brighouse Belles, Jim Coleman Province and Ross McLeod – as well as live coverage of the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs. The 2019 season will now conclude on the Oct. 26-27 weekend.



First-year sires all the rage

The 2-year-old sales market gets rolling in a big way tomorrow with the March Ocala Breeders’ Sale (Tuesday March 12 and Wed. 13) and the first day of workouts was held on Thursday. A small group of Canadian-breds are in the catalogue and two of them had swift preps.

An Ontario bred Verrazano colt, bred by Mitch Kursner and sold as a weanling for $115,000 and then for $100,00 last fall, sped two furlongs in 21 3/5.

A Munnings filly, bred by the late Bill Graham, was a $105,000 yearling last year and she went quick in her workout, 21 1/5.

Another Canadian twist for the sale is that an undisclosed owner from Canada is partners with Florida horseman Carlo Vaccarezza in 5 horses entered in the sale that are pinhook projects. Vaccarreza, when approached by Thoroughblog, declined to name the partner in the horses. The Thoroughbred Daily News listed the 5 horses:

Vaccarreza and partner sale horses:  Day One, Mar. 12:

• Hip 147, f, Candy Ride (Arg)–Eltimaas. *$300,000 KEESEP yearling. **Half-sister to champion sprinter Drefong (Gio Ponti).

• Hip 243, c, Street Sense-Isla. *$175,000 FTSAUG yearling. **Produced by a stakes-placed half-sister to MGSW Juanita (Mineshaft).

Day Two, Mar. 13:

• Hip 346, f, Uncle Mo-My Fast One. *$410,000 KEESEP yearling. **Extended female family of MGISW Wekiva Springs.

• Hip 440, f, Into Mischief-Rosemonde. *$375,000 FTSAUG yearling. **Full to MGISP juvenile Rowayton.

• Hip 464, c, Cairo Prince-She Hung the Moon. *$105,000 KEESEP yearling. **Produced by a daughter of Canadian champion Bear Now.

This is one of the deepest years for freshman sires in the US and several are represented in the sale. Take a look at this list of some of the hot sires whose first foals are 2-year-olds of this year (this list is not exhaustive):

AMERICAN PHAROAH – Triple Crown winner by Pioneer oftheNile

FAST ANNA – by Medaglia D’Oro, stakes placed

Liam’s Map – Grade 1 winner by Unbridled’s Song

Wicked Strong – Grade 1 winner by Hard Spun

Carpe Dieme – Grade 1 winner by Giant’s Causeway

Chitu – graded SW by Henny Hughes

Tonalist – Belmont Stakes winner by  Tapit

The Big Beast – graded SW by Yes It’s True

Secret Circle – Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner

Race Day – Grade 2 winner by Tapit

NOT PHAR NOW, from the first crop of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, worked one furlong in :10 at the March OBS sale gallop show. This is a New York bred colt offered by Sequel Bloodstock.

Ontario-breds in sale:

Hip Workout Time  Birthdate –  Name if avail –  Breeding  Consignor

14  21 3/5    3/5/2017 C  Verrazano Aline’s Secret ON Wavertree Stables, Inc. (Ciaran Dunne), Agent 5
22  21 1/5   4/18/2017 F Munnings Amiable Grace ON Wavertree Stables, Inc. (Ciaran Dunne), Agent XIV 5
75   OUT     3/8/2017 F Sky Mesa Casey’s Dreamin’ ON Hidden Brook, Agent 11
100 OUT  3/18/2017 C Competitive Edge Cool Slew ON Brick City Thoroughbreds 13
265   10 1/5       1/7/2017 F Bay Society Seek Again Keep a Knockin ON de Meric Sales, Agent XX 12
340   10 1/5       2/5/2017 C More Chances Hard Spun More to Like ON Paul Sharp, Agent IX 8
382   10 1/5       1/17/2017 F Pastel Emily Bayern Pastel Princess ON Ends Well, Agent I 1
476   10     3/16/2017 F Life On the Edge Competitive Edge Simply Precious ON CM Thoroughbreds