*This weekend for horse racing lovers – today’s KENTUCKY DERBY from Churchill Downs; the great PINK LLOYD returns to action at Woodbine today in a big field for the Grade 3 JACQUES CARTIER STAKES;
Sunday – AJAX DOWNS opens it’s 50th year of QUARTER HORSE RACING with a 12:55 post time!
**ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THOROUGHBLOG: Woodbine analysis (selections, Pick 4 bets and comments on why the picks were made, will now appear at BETTOR’S CORNER at www.ontarioracing.com. OR has selections and analysis from tracks in Ontario on its expansive website with features and news about Ontario racing.
The day has arrived, Kentucky Derby Day. Edition 145 of the most famous horse race in the world.
Woodbine’s perennial Sovereign Award winning trainer MARK CASSE goes for his first Derby, this year with the very handsome, speedy WAR OF WILL. Gary Barber, a Sovereign Award finalist for Outstanding Owner in Canada for 2018, owns the son of War Front.
Hey if the track is anything like it was yesterday, which dried out and helped horses skip along on the pace and hold on to the lead, War of Will, should he stick to the rail and close to the pace, might be able to get a good piece.
There has been some bad news during Derby week with the scratch of favourite OMAHA BEACH and then New York star HAIKAL and the late jockey change by Starlight Racing on their colt CUTTING HUMOR from Corey Lanerie to Mike Smith (left without a mount after Omaha Beach scratched) did not play well.
From the Louisville Courier-Journal, Lanerie said:
It feels like a slap in the face,” Lanerie said. “All the hard work that we put into our careers, trying to make it to this point, it just kinds of devastates you. It’s a moment you’ve lived for and tried to wait for all year. Then you think you’ve got it and the next minute they just take it from you.”
FIVE HORSES were on track Saturday morning – MAXIMUM SECURITY actually had a blow out this morning – 2 furlongs, 23 1/5 – COUNTRY HOUSE, TACITUS, CUTTING HUMOR and WIN WIN WIN.
Thoroughblog has watched the training of most of these horses for more than a week, studied the previous races and come up with comments on each horse that will race today.
Horse number Horse Sire owner Trainer last 3 Beyer Figures (from most recent) Jockey odds
1 War of Will (War Front) – Gary Barber Mark Casse – 78, 90, 94 Tyler Gafflione 15-1
– Woodbine’s Sovereign Award winning trainer MARK CASSE goes for his first Derby; colt is among the top 6 or 7 from works and looks this week. Must use his speed from the rail post; watch how track is playing
2 Tax (Arch) – R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughb, Hugh Lynch & Corms Racing (Lucas – Stritsman) Danny Gargan – 95, 96, 93 J Alvarado 20-1
– Only gelding in the field; 2nd in the Wood Memorial to Tacitus after a nice trip
3 By My Standards (Goldencents)– Allied Racing Stable LLC (Chester Thomas) Bret Calhoun – 97,86, 73 Gabriel Saez 15-1
– the buzz of Derby week; on works and gallops alone, he is a major player; his Beyer Figures have been going up but has he already peaked?
4 Gray Magician (Graydar)– Wachtel Stable (Adam Wachtel), Eclipse Thoroughbrd & Gary Barber Peter Miller – n/a,80, 73 50-1 D Van Dyke
– got very sweaty in the morning this week, 2nd in to Plus Que Parfait
5 Improbable (City Zip)– WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt), China Horse Club) & Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf et al) -Bob Baffert – 95, 96, 93 Irad Ortiz 5-1
– Big marks for his appearances and works during Derby week; bit of a rank, speedy eager type, must relax early
6 Vekoma (Candy Ride-Arg) – R. A. Hill Stable (Randy Hill) & Gatsas Stables (Mike Gatsas) George Weaver – 94, 90, 97 J Castellano 15-1
– Blue Grass winner prepped in Florida, wide, galloping action and his speed carried him to his latest win
7 Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) – Gary L. & Mary E. West Jason Servis – 101, 102, 83 Luis Saez 8-1
– Debuted for maiden claiming (16,000!); works slow distances between long gallops; had a blowout Fri.. morning; mystery horse
8 Tacitus (Tapit)– Juddmonte Farms Inc. (Prince Khalid Abdullah) Bill Mott – 93,75, 77 J Ortiz 8-1
– Thoroughblog’s top ‘looker’ all week; floats over the track, big, long stride, will love mud
9 Plus Que Parfait (Point of Entry) – Imperial Racing LLC (Michael Foley) Brendan Walsh – UAE Derby win, 58, 83 R Santana 30-1
– Won in Dubai after not contending behind War of Will this winter
10 Cutting Humor (First Samurai)– Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf) Todd Pletcher – 95, 76, 85
Corey Lanerie Mike Smith 30-1
– Won the Sunland Derby; been prepping in Florida with Todd Pletcher; gets Mike Smith
11 Haikal (Daaher)– Shadwell Stable (Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum) Kiaran McLaughlin – R Maragh 95,84, 85 30-1 12 Omaha Beach (War Front) – Fox Hill Farm (Rick Porter) Richard Mandella – 96, 90, 83 Mike Smith 4-1
13 Code of Honor (Noble Mission) – William S. Farish Shug McGaughey III – 91,95, 77 John Velazquez 12-1
– Has been looking super all week, nice stride, still wonder about 1 1/4 miles for him
14 Win Win Win (Hat Trick-Jpn)– Live Oak Plantation (Charlotte C. Weber) Mike Trombetta – 88,89, 99 J Pimentel 12-1
– neat horse, faster in shorter races? Loved his workout last week
15 Master Fencer (JPN) (Just the Way) Katsumi & Yasuyo Yoshizawa Koichi Tsunoda Japan J Leparoux 50-1
– Japanese invader went slow in his workout this week; light looking colt
16 Game Winner (Candy Ride-Arg) – Gary L. & Mary E. West Bob Baffert – 96, 93, 97 J Rosario 9-2
– more Baffert, this is the Champion 2yo of last year; he’s a monster
17 Roadster (Quality Road)– Speedway Stable LLC (Peter Fluor & K.C. Weiner) Bob Baffert – 98, 93, 89 Florent Geroux 5-1
– Baffert colt is a light framed fellow that Mike Smith set aside for Omaha Beach
18 Long Range Toddy (Take Charge Indy) – Willis Horton Racing LLC Steve Asmussen – 95, 87, 83 Jon Court 30-1
– He’s a big, handsome colt who bombed in the slop in Arkansas
19 Spinoff (Hard Spun)– Wertheimer et Frere (Alain & Gerard Wertheimer) Todd Pletcher – 96, 84, 75 M Franco30-1
– Pletcher colt led late in the La. Derby; question mark at distance
20 Country House (Lookin at Lucky) – Mrs. J.V. Shields, E.J.M. McFadden Jr. & LNJ Foxwoods Bill Mott – F Prat 87, 86, 80 30-1
– stretch runner has been modest in his runs
21 Bodeexpress (Bodemeister) Top Racing, Global Racing, GDS Racing G Delgado Chris Landeros 96, 91,, 74 30-1
– Draws in from also eligible list; never won a race; his mum was born at Kinghaven Farms in King City
SELECTIONS – TACITUS – GAME WINNER – BY MY STANDARDS – CODE OF HONOR – IMPROBABLE
EMPRESS IN THE OAKS
Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress grabbed the advantage out of the gate and repelled a stretch bid from Liora by 1 ¾ lengths to win the 145th running of the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) for 3-year-old fillies before a crowd of 105,719 at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Tom Amoss and ridden by Jose Ortiz, Serengeti Empress covered the mile and one-eighth on a fast track in 1:50.17. It is the first victory in the race for Amoss and Ortiz.
“How about that! I’ve never won a race this big. I’ve won a lot of races, but not one like this. I’ve heard it said that when it happens, it’s just a different experience. Today, for me, it was just a rush of emotions. I thought about my mom and dad who are 93 and 94. They’re at home watching. I know they saw this today. I can’t wait to speak to them. My extended family. I have five brothers and their families. My wife and kids are here. Colleen, my wife, Ashley my oldest daughter and Hailey my youngest daughter. I think, as a team, us four have seen quite a bit as a trainer has. They put up with a lot. I thought about the people along the way.”
Ortiz, who will ride Tacitus in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, has a chance to become the eighth rider to sweep the Oaks and Derby in the same year with Calvin Borel being the most recent in 2009 with Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird.
Winner of the Pocahontas (GII) here last September in front-running fashion, Serengeti Empress went right to the front with Motion Emotion in closest pursuit. Serengeti Empress clicked off fractions of :23.25, :46.65 and 1:11.26 and maintained a daylight advantage into the stretch.
Only Liora, sent off at 38-1, threatened the winner in the final run through the lane, closing to within a length at the eighth pole but getting no closer.
The victory was worth $705,250 and increased her earnings to $1,037,390 with a record of 8-5-0-0. Three of the victories have come in graded stakes with the Oaks being her first Grade I.
Serengeti Empress is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Alternation out of the Bernardini mare Havisham.
Serengeti Empress returned $28, $14.80 and $9.60. Liora, ridden by Channing Hill, returned $32.60 and $17 with Lady Apple finishing another 5 ½ lengths back in third under Ricardo Santana Jr. and paying $7 to show in finishing a neck in front of Champagne Anyone.
Completing the field in order were favored Bellafina, Jaywalk, Street Band, Chocolate Kisses, Motion Emotion, Jeltrin, Out for a Spin, Flor de La Mar and Restless Rider. Positive Spirit did not finish.
Jaywalk was disqualified from sixth and placed 13th for interfering with Positive Spirit out of the gate.
Wagering on Friday’s 145th running of the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) reached record levels at Churchill Downs Racetrack as Serengeti Empress captured the race before a crowd of 105,719 that braved early morning rain. Attendance decreased 7% compared to last year which had more favorable weather conditions. This follows a record-breaking Thursday (“Thurby”) crowd of 48,212.
Wagering from all-sources was the highest all-time on both the Kentucky Oaks program and on the Kentucky Oaks race.
Wagering from all-sources on the full Kentucky Oaks Day race card totaled $60.2 million, an 8% increase over the previous wagering record total of $55.8 million in 2018. All-sources wagering on the Kentucky Oaks race rose 10% to $19.4 million from the previous Oaks race record total of $17.5 million in 2018.
More stuff to watch for today:
This year’s QUEEN’S PLATE favourite AVIE’S FLATTER, who started 2019 with a win in the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes on grass at Keeneland, will compete in the American Turf, although if it rains a lot, he might be scratched
SPRING IN THE WIND, an Ontario bred recently sold by Nick Nosowenko to Ron Paolucci Racing, makes her 2019 debut in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff today at Churhill. The Spring at Last filly was bred by Sam-Son Farms. That race goes as race 6 at 1:13 p.m.
At WOODBINE, the Jacques Cartier Stakes was upped in purse money to $125,000 and made a Grade 3 and it lured a strong field of top sprinters including the Champion Sprinter in canada form the last 2 years – PINK LLOYD.