JUSTIFY LOOMS KENTUCKY DERBY FAVOURITE
Good Magic getting to peak, wins Blue Grass, Vino Rosso takes Wood Memorial
How good is this group of American 3-year-olds?
When the Champion 2-year-old of 2017 begins to peak as a sophomore with a win in the Blue Grass Stakes and his win is merely considered pretty good on the day, you know the crop is strong.
(The big names are also large, good looking chestnuts!)
That beautiful specimen named JUSTIFY (Scat Daddy) is now 3 for 3 in his brief career and he won the Santa Anita derby on Saturday over the very good, and more experienced BOLT D’ORO. He was made the 3 to 1 favourite in the 4th and final pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager by fans.
Trained by Bob Baffert for a group that includes WinStar LLC, China Horse Club, Starlight racing and Head of Plains, Justify strolled on the lead of the 1 1/8 mile Santa Anita Derby, was chased in earnest by Bolt D’Oro but kept that colt behind him as he won in strong fashion in 1:49.72 over a slowish surface. His Beyer Figure was an impressive 107.
So all the talk leading up to the Derby 4 weeks from now will be about that famous (infamous) stat – the last horse to win the Derby that did not race as a 2-year-old was APOLLO in 1882.
Times have changed since then, horses do not race as mush. Horses have won the Derby that debuted in December, so it is only a matter of time. However, Justify will ship cross-country, meet 19 rivals, 100,000 screaming fans and a long, long stretch run. Never mind the other possible front runners who figure to push him along.
He is an exciting addition to what is a very nice Derby field taking shape.
The ARKANSAS DERBY next weekend is the last big prep, coming 3 weeks before the big race.
In Kentucky, on a cold and snowy Saturday, GOOD MAGIC, came to the fore and posted a 95 Beyer Figure to win the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) with a steady, wide rally over the very game Canadian-bred FLAMEAWAY.
Good Magic was the best horse and is going forward for the sizzling hot Chad Brown barn even though the race did not excite all that much and the victory was workmanlike. Free Drop Billy continues to plod along picking-up pieces, and Sporting Chance, who may have distance limitations, ran well but erratically.
Owned by the eFive Racing Synidcate and Stonestreet, GOOD MAGIC was a $1 million purchase and is a son of Curlin.
FLAMEAWAY, who is Thoroughblog’s Queen’s Plate top choice, is headed to the Derby, a race that trainer Mark Casse has never won. The Plate is certainly in the back of the mind of Casse and owner John Oxley but no doubt the on the agenda but the Derby would take precedence.
Casse has raced 5 horses in the Derby, two Canadian breds. Danzig Moon was 5th in 2015 but broke down in the Plate Triall and last year State of Honor was 19th and later was 8th in the Plate and 3rd in the Prince of Wales before being injured.
There is no discounting Flameaway’s grittiness but it is hard to imagine him getting more than a little piece in the Derby based on his running style. He matched his previous best Beyer Figure of 93 in the Blue Grass.
In New York, Todd Pletcher, the king of these Derby prep races, had VINO ROSSO all squared away and that son of Curlin roared to a big win and a 98 Beyer Figure in the Wood memorial. He left in his wake ENTICED, who exchanged bumps with Vino Rosso in the stretch run but did not battle back. Enticed was coming off a huge, lifetime best effort in the Gotham Mile. An inquiry after the race looked to favor Enticed to be placed 1st but the stewards let the result stand.
Vino Rosso easily won his first two starts but came up short in two stakes tries at Tampa Bay Downs, making a mild rally when third in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis in February and finishing a flat fourth in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in March. The Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable colourbearer was able to put it all together in the Wood Memorial, settling in sixth early behind the fast pace set by Old Time Revival, commencing a rally on the far turn, and overhauling Enticed in the stretch en route to a three-length score.
“He had been training well all winter and it was exciting to see him run the race we thought he could run,” said trainer Todd Pletcher.
Pletcher hasn’t determined where Vino Rosso will train in the lead up to the Kentucky Derby but is considering taking the colt back to Palm Beach Downs, where he has trained since November.
Pletcher has AUDIBLE, the Florida Derby winner, and Magnum Moon, who races in the Arkansas derby next week, as Derby hopefuls.
From PAT INFANTE comes these numbers for the final 3/8 and final 1/8 of Derby contenders:
Justify 37.11 / 12.70
Bolt d’Oro 37.37 / 12.96
Instilled Regard 38.09 / 13.00
Good Magic 38.21 / 13.31
Flameaway 38.55 / 13.31
Free Drop Billy 38.46 / 13.23
Vino Rosso 37.59 / 12.81
Enticed 38.27 / 13.30
KENTUCKY DERBY POINTS
Rank Horse Points Owner(s) Trainer Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Good Magic 134 e Five Racing Thoroughbreds (Bob, Kristine, Cassidy, Riley & Delaney Edwards) & Stonestreet Stables LLC (Barbara Banke) Chad Brown $1,838,400
2. Audible 110 China Horse Club International Ltd. (Ah Khing Teo), Head of Plains Partners LLC (Sol Kumin), Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf) & WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt) Todd Pletcher $803,520
3. Noble Indy 110 WinStar Farm (Kenny Troutt) & Repole Stable (Mike Repole) Todd Pletcher $640,000
4. Vino Rosso 107 Repole Stable (Mike Repole) & St. Elias Stable (Vincent Viola) Todd Pletcher $572,500
5. Bolt d’Oro 104 Ruis Racing (Mick Ruis) Mick Ruis $980,000
6. Enticed 103 Godolphin Racing LLC (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum et al) Kiaran McLaughlin $545,880
7. Mendelssohn 100 Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier & Michael Tabor Aidan O’Brien $1,947,299
8. Justify 100 China Horse Club International Ltd. (Ah Khing Teo), Head of Plains Partners LLC (Sol Kumin), Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf) & WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt) Bob Baffert $600,000
9. $-Flameaway 70 John C. Oxley Mark Casse $672,260
10. Bravazo 54 Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) D. Wayne Lukas $359,913
11. Promises Fulfilled 52 Robert J. Baron Dale Romans $266,480
12. Magnum Moon 50 Lawana L. & Robert E. Low Todd Pletcher $540,000
13. $-Runaway Ghost 50 Joe Peacock Todd Fincher $520,310
14. Quip 50 WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt), China Horse Club International Ltd. (Ah Khing Teo) & SF Racing LLC (Gavin Murphy) Rodolphe Brisset $212,000
15. Free Drop Billy 44 Albaugh Family Stables LLC (Dennis Albaugh & Jason Loustch) Dale Romans $597,200
16. Lone Sailor 42 G M B Racing (Gayle Benson) Tom Amoss $273,347
17. Hofburg 40 Juddmonte Farms Inc. (Prince Khalid Abdullah) Bill Mott $192,000
18. Firenze Fire 39 Mr. Amore Stable (Ron Lombardi) Jason Servis $647,500
19. Solomini 34 Zayat Stables LLC (Ahmed Zayat), Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B.Tabor & Derrick SmithBob Baffert $616,000
< 20. Gronkowski ERTKD Invite Phoenix Thoroughbred III (Amer Abdulaziz) Jeremy Noseda $79,496
21. My Boy Jack 32 Don’t Tell My Wife Stables (Kirk Godbey & Rob Slack) & Monomoy Stables LLC (Sol Kumin) Keith Desormeaux $502,000
22. Instilled Regard 29 Oxo Equine LLC (Lawrence Best) Jerry Hollendorfer $246,000
23. Snapper Sinclair 22 Bloom Racing Stable (Jeffrey Bloom) Steve Asmussen $321,810
24. Combatant 22 Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (Ron Winchell) & Willis Horton Racing LLC Steve Asmussen $300,000
25. $-Blended Citizen 22 Greg Hall & SAYJAY Racing LLC (Steve Young) Doug O’Neill $159,644
KENTUCKY OAKS POINTS
Rank Horse Points Owner(s) Trainer Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Midnight Bisou 160 Allen Racing LLC & Bloom Racing Stable LLC (Jeffrey Bloom) Bill Spawr $440,000
2. Monomoy Girl 154 Monomoy Stables LLC (Sol Kumin) & Michael Dubb Brad Cox $506,150
3. My Miss Lilly 112 Courtlandt Farms (Donald & Donna Adam) Mark Hennig $219,400
4. Chocolate Martini 100 Double Doors Racing LLC Tom Amoss $240,000
5. Coach Rocks 100 Roddy J. Valente, RAP Racing (Rick Pitino) & West Point Thoroughbreds (Terry Finley)
Dale Romans $145,700
6. Rayya 90 Sheikh Rashid Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi Bob Baffert $600,000
7. Eskimo Kisses 80 Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek), Gainesway Stable & Harold Lerner Kenny McPeek $180,000
8. Take Charge Paula 70 Peter Deutsch Kiaran McLaughlin $372,720
9. Midnight Disguise 70 William B. Wilmot & Joan M. Taylor Linda Rice $195,000
— +Sara Street 60 Godolphin Racing LLC (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum et al) Kiaran McLaughlin $100,000
10. Cosmic Burst 52 Norma Lee Stockseth & Todd Dunn Donnie Von Hemel $192,500
— +Blamed 50 Cleber J. Massey Joel Marr $208,000
11. Wonder Gadot 44 Gary Barber Mark Casse $360,002
12. Thirteen Squared 41 Arnold Zetcher LLC Bob Baffert $112,000
— +Spectator 40 Rick & Sharon Waller Phil D’Amato $138,000
13. Patrona Margarita 35 Craig D. Upham Bret Calhoun $174,320
14. Classy Act 30 Carl R. Moore Management LLC Bret Calhoun $56,000
15. Caledonia Road 24 Zoom and Fish Stable Inc. (Luke Paiement) & Charlie Spiring & Newtown Anner Stud (Maurice & Samantha Reagan) Ralph Nicks $1,180,000
16. Princess Warrior 24 Evan Trommer, Matthew Trommer & Andrew Trommer Kenny McPeek $128,350
17. Amy’s Challenge 20 Novogratz Racing Stables Inc. McLean Robertson $160,000
— +Go Noni Go` 20 Three Diamonds Farm Mike Maker $96,104
— +Kram 20 Chris G. Coleman & Brad King Todd Fincher $89,000
— Expressiy (FR) 20 Godolphin Racing LLC (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum et al) Charlie Appleby $85,056
18. Virginia Key 20 Blue Heaven Farm Todd Pletcher $30,000
19. Red Ruby 15 Sandra Sexton & Brandi Nicholson Kellyn Gorder $85,000
20. Exuberance 15 Seltzer Thoroughbreds (Wayne & Tyler Seltzer) Ian Kruljac $82,000
British Columbia’s John & Tanya Gunther Breeders of Justify and Vino Rosso
The father and daughter team of John & Tanya Gunther of Vancouver, British Columbia have about 20 mares at their Glennwood Farm in Versailles, KY and two of them produced two big winners on the weekend, two Kentucky Derby-bound colts. One is the undefeated JUSTIFY.
JUSTIFY, a Scat Daddy colt, is from the stakes placed Ghostzapper mare STAGE MAGIC, who won 3 races up to 1 1/16 miles. Justify is her 3rd foal and he cost $500,000 at auction.
Vino Rosso, by Curlin, is out of Mythical Bride by Street Cry and he was a $410,000 yearling purchase. He is the 2nd foal of the winning mare. The 2nd dam, Flaming Heart, produced Hawthorne Gold Cup winner COMMISSIONER and Woodbine stakes winner LAUGH TRACK (Vigil Stakes).
Born in Alberta and a stock broker since his early 20’s, Gunther “caught the racing bug by attending nearby Hastings Park at an early age. Gunther currently splits the majority of his time between Vancouver and Versailles. “I’d go to the track every weekend and I enjoyed betting so much that I thought it would be nice to own one at some point,” Gunther explained. “I ended up buying a mare–she was not very well-bred–and I bred her. I raced the offspring and ended up winning a couple of races and that sort of got me hooked.” (from Thoroughbred Daily News, Steve Sherack – 2015).
Gunther has raced plenty of good horses as well as bred stars. He has also raced at Woodbine. He had a filly at Woodbine in 2016, Mama Tempbu, trained by Dan Vella.
NO LUCK FOR RETURNING CANADIAN STARS
It was a rough weekend for returning stars of 2017 who tried Keeneland stakes races.
DREAM IT IS went into Sunday’s Beaumont Stakes undefeated as she won the My Dear Stakes and Schuylverville last year as a 2-year-old for Hoolie Racing and trainer Barb Minshall. Coming off a long layoff, Dream It Is tracked the speed in the 7 furlong Beaumont but faded in the stretch while racing on her off lead and finished 5th beaten 3 1/4 lengths. She put up a 74 Beyer Figure while finishing behind winner Gas Station Sushi.
SUMMER SUNDAY, another unbeaten Canadian, was also in the Beaumont and she was in mid-pack early in the race but faded to 9th in her first try on a dirt track. She is owned by William and Anne Scott and trained by Stuart Simon.
Also on Sunday, DIXIE MOON, another top 2-year-old filly of 2017, trailed on soft turf in the Apalachian Stakes and never looked comfortable in her first outing since she was 6th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf. Dixie Moon is trained by Catherine Day Phillips for Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry. The winner of the race was unbeaten RUSHING FALL, co-bred by Toronto’s John Fielding.
There was a nice Canadian-bred winner at Gulfstream on Saturday. SCRAPPER, bred by Christine and Jay Hayden, won his maiden in a 7 1 /2 furlong turf race at Gulfstream Park with a 79 Beyer Figure. It was the 3rd career race for the son of Kentucky Derby winner Orb from the mare Lynnette, dam of Woodbine stakes winner Jennifer Lynnette. He is trained by Todd Pletcher and was a $100,000 yearling and $600,000 2yo purchase.
SCRAPPER could now be on a trail that leads to the Queen’s Plate.
At Oaklawn Park, Canada’s leading trainer of 2017 NORM MCKNIGHT won his 16th race of the meeting with his 74th starter. Malibu Wood won for the 2nd time this year for McKnight.
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STANDARDBRED RACING LEAVES TORONTO
Almost 150 years of harness racing in Toronto comes to an end tonight as the last card of racing will be held at Woodbine. Standardbred racing moves to Mohawk Raceway permanently beginning Thursday.
Woodbine is replacing the Standardbred track, the 7 furlong inside oval, with a turf course, which it was before 1994.
WOODBINE AND JAPAN TO HAVE A RACE EXCHANGE PARTNERSHIP
Woodbine Entertainment and the Japan Racing Association have partnered on a race exchange sponsorship agreement for this year’s Grade 2 Canadian Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack and Paradise Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse.
The $500,000 Paradise Stakes, Presented by Woodbine Entertainment, will be held on Sunday, June 24 at Tokyo Racecourse in Japan. Well-regarded horses such as Mitra and Red Spada have gone on to be multiple graded stakes winners after earning victories in the seven-furlong turf stakes for three-year-olds and up.
“Woodbine Entertainment applauds the Japan Racing Association as an international leader in the horse racing industry,” said Jonathan Zammit, Vice President of Thoroughbred Racing Operations at Woodbine. “We look forward to presenting the Paradise Stakes this June in Tokyo and cultivating a long-term partnership in horse racing with the Japan Racing Association.”
The $250,000 Canadian Stakes, Presented by the Japan Racing Association, is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 15 at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. The Grade 2 stakes event for fillies and mares three years old and up will be contested over 1-1/8 miles on the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course. The list of past Canadian Stakes champions includes Hall of Famer Alywow and recent multiple graded stakes winners Quidura, Rainha Da Bateria and Strut The Course.
“JRA recognizes Woodbine Racetrack as an integral part of Canadian racing, and we are very pleased to initiate an exchange partnership with an organization that is highly acclaimed internationally,” commented Mr. Masayuki Goto, President of JRA. “It is my sincere desire to enhance and strengthen the relationship between us further through exchange races.”
Woodbine will host representatives of the Japan Racing Association for the Canadian Stakes, including one JRA director from the head office in Tokyo (to be announced) and Mr. Takahiro Uno, General Manager of the JRA New York Office, who will make the trophy presentation to the winning connections.
The last Japanese-based horse to run at Woodbine was Taiki Blizzard in the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic.