Super Bowl Sunday…brief recaps of 3 Kentucky Derby prep races..full Thoroughblog Monday morning

**99 Beyer Figure earned by AUDIBLE in Holy Bull makes him major Kentucky Derby contender



$500,000 colt had to switch New York plans to Florida

AUDIBLE – Into Mischief – Blue Devil Bel by Gilded Time
$500,000 2yo at OBS March

$175,000 yearling

New York bred WinStar LLC, China Horse Club and SF Bloodstock
1:41 4/5

Audible registered a resounding victory in Saturday’s $350,000 Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park, stamping himself as a prime prospect on the Road to the Florida Derby (G1) and the Triple Crown.

Making his stakes debut in the 29th running of the Holy Bull, which headlined a 12-race program offering five stakes for 3-year-olds, Audible earned 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points with his 5 ½-length triumph over Free Drop Billy.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Audible ($8.40) entered the 1 1/16-mile Triple Crown prep off three starts, two against fellow New York-bred rivals. After finishing third in his Sept. 27 debut at Belmont, Audible graduated against state-bred company Nov. 15 at Aqueduct before going on to win an open optional claiming allowance Dec. 6. His two wins came at the one-turn mile distance.

“We felt like he wanted more ground and he kind of showed that in his first race when he didn’t get away real quickly and retreated when the dirt hit him in the face and then rallied with a pretty strong effort,” Pletcher said. “Then he came back and won two pretty impressive races after that, so we felt like more distance was definitely what he was looking for.”

In his first start around two turns, Audible broke alertly under jockey Javier Castellano to closely stalk the pace set by 30-1 longshot Master Manipulator, who set fractions of 23.59 (seconds), 47.14 into the far turn before tiring. Audible took over the lead on the turn leaving the backstretch and was challenged by Free Drop Billy into the stretch before drawing away to a commanding and comfortable margin of victory in 1:41.92. He earned a 99 Beyer Figure.

“It’s only a mile and sixteenths today, but the way he galloped out was amazing,” Castellano said. “I look forward to the next race.”

Free Drop Billy finished second under Luis Saez, 7 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Tiz Mischief and jockey Robby Albarado.

“He ran hard. He tried hard. The winner was tough,” Saez said. “Maybe after the layoff he got a little tired, but he tried. I think he’ll be ready for his next start.”

Enticed, the 9-5 favorite ridden by Joel Rosario, finished another 1 ½ lengths back in fourth after saving round behind the pacesetters and failing to offer a stretch kick.

“I got a good trip. He just didn’t give me a run,” Rosario said.

Audible, who was purchased for $500,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale for 2-year-olds in training at Gulfstream Park last March, had been scheduled to run in a stakes for New York-breds that was cancelled due to poor weather in New York. The decision was made to ship the colt owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing Stable to Pletcher’s Palm Beach Downs training base earlier than scheduled.

“Maybe it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The original plan was to run him in the New York-bred stake and then bring him down, but when all the bad weather hit, we came up with a different strategy and it seemed to work out well today.”

The next stop on Gulfstream Park’s Road to the March 31 $1 million Florida Derby is the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) March 3.

“I think the question now is do you run him two more times or one more time, and we’ll let him tell us kind of how he bounces out of this,” said Pletcher, who saddled Always Dreaming for victories in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby last year. “He’s a very kind horse to train, very easy on himself in the morning. I love the way he came over here and handled everything. He was perfect in the paddock, post parade, gate – all those little intangibles that really help with horses that are pointing for big days.”

BLUE DEVIL BEL, raced by Oak Cliff Stables, won 7 races in her career and $118,000. She ended her career with 4 straight wins at Mountaineer racing for $5,000 and $6,250 claiming.

This is her 3rd foal.



AVERY ISLAND – Withers 87
Street Sense – Kinda Spicy by A.P. Indy
Third foal of the mare who was 2 for 2 in her career

Godolphin Racing’s homebred Avery Island got his sophomore campaign off to an impressive start, picking up 10 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby with a two-length victory in the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and ridden by regular jockey Joe Bravo, Avery Island took up position at the head of the five-horse field, where he was quickly joined by Coltandmississippi, one of three entrants from the Todd Pletcher barn. After an opening quarter-mile in 23.32 seconds, Bravo took an easy hold on the bay colt by Street Sense, leaving Coltandmississippi about two lengths in front to lead the half in 47.08 and six furlongs in 1:11.57.

Mr. Amore Stable’s Firenze Fire, winner of the Grade 1 Champagne in October and Jerome last month, began his move from fourth while talented maiden winner Marconi rallied from last as the field rounded the far turn.

Avery Island was soon reengaged with the pacesetter, briefly meeting Coltandmississippi at the three-eighths pole before putting him away to turn for home 2 ½ lengths ahead of Firenze Fire and Marconi. Avery Island held clear down the lane to complete the 1 1/8-mile route in 1:51.01.

Firenze Fire was second, a half-length ahead of Pletcher trainee Marconi, making his stakes debut. It was another 18 ¾ lengths back to Coltandmississippi in fourth. Bal Harbour was fifth. California Night was scratched.

“The best horse won today,” said Bravo. “Avery has all the tools to be a good horse. He’s just learning to enjoy himself out there. He just relaxed. He just got better and stronger going down the lane. I opened up early around the turn. The quicker he goes, the better he is, but I didn’t want to turn it into a sprint, so if they are going to beat us, they’re going to have to outrun us from the top. Today, he did it nicely.”

Sent off as the even-money favorite, Avery Island returned $4.30 for a $2 win wager.

The win was Avery Island’s second at the Big A, following a 4 ¾-length score in the Grade 2 Nashua at a one-turn mile in November. The colt stretched out to two turns in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 2 Remsen on December 2, where he tracked the early pace and kicked on late to finish an encouraging second behind the late-running Catholic Boy.

Avery Island, whose Remsen effort earned him four qualifying points to the Derby on May 5 at Churchill Downs, picked up another 10 points for the Withers, a designated race in the Kentucky Derby prep series for a total of 14. Firenze Fire earned four additional Derby points in the Withers to bring his total to 24, while Marconi picked up two points and Coltandmississippi got one.

The win was the third overall for Avery Island, who boosted his lifetime earnings to $365,332.

“It was a great run,” said McLaughlin, who also trained Withers winners Divine Park (2007), Mr. Fantasy (2009), and Alpha (2012). “Joe Bravo rode him very well, letting the other speed go and sit second. He did everything right and finished strong. It was a nice win and we’re pleased with Avery Island. It looked like he was push button, so it was great that he switched off that quick and then switch back on.”

The next New York-based Kentucky Derby prep is the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham on March 10, followed by the centerpiece of the Aqueduct spring meet, the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial on April 7.

LOMBO – 86
Graydar – Burg Berg, Johannesburg

With Flavien Prat calling the signals on the lead, a new Derby contender emerged today at Santa Anita as longshot Lombo scored an impressive two length victory in the Grade III, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes. A Kentucky-bred colt by Graydar, Lombo is trained by Mike Pender and he got a mile and one sixteenth in 1:45.41.

A 3 ½ length maiden winner going six furlongs here on Jan. 20, Lombo was making his fourth career start today and his first added money appearance.

“He ran a big race,” said Prat, who picked up the mount when Kent Desromeaux opted to ride eventual runner-up Ayacara. “They put a little pressure on him down the backside, but he was nice and relaxed. I worked him last week and he’s got a lot of speed. I was concerned he might want to go, but he was relaxed. That was my main concern, but he releaxed and then he went on.”

Off at 8-1 in a field of nine sophomores, Lombo paid $19.40, $10.40 and $7.20.

Owned by Michael V. Lombardi, Lombo was purchased for $75,000 at an Ocala, Fla. 2-year-old in training sale this past March. Out of the Johannesburg mare Burg Berg, Lombo is now 4-2-0-1. With the winner’s share of $90,000, Lombo increased his earnings to $129,225.

“He’s definitely a high octane horse,” said Pender. “Apparently, Graydar had some of the same characteristics and Unbridled’s Song (Graydar’s sire) as well. He’s just a big kid and has a little (Attention Deficit Disorder) to him, but he’s starting to figure it out. When he does…I think he’ll be really dangerous.”

Along with the purse money, Lombo picked up 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.

Well back early, Ayacara ran on very well late for the place under Kent Desormeaux, finishing 2 ¼ lengths in front of longshot Dark Vadar.

Off at 9-2, Ayacara paid $6.00 and $4.40.

Ridden by Stewart Elliott, Dark Vadar was in an all-out drive around the far turn and finished third, 3 ½ lengths in front of Regulate. Off at 36-1, Dark Vadar paid $13.60 to show.

The disappointment in the Lewis was 2-1 favorite Peace, who added blinker but turned in a dull effort, finishing seventh under Mike Smith.

Fractions on the race were 23.40, 47.26, 1:12.20 and 1:38.34.



Rank Horse Points Owner(s) Trainer                      Non-Restricted  Stakes Earnings

1. Good Magic 24 e Five Racing Thoroughbreds (Bob, Kristine, Cassidy, Riley &
Delaney Edwards) & Stonestreet Stables LLC (Barbara Banke)
Chad Brown $1,200,000
2. Firenze Fire 24 Mr. Amore Stable (Ron Lombardi) Jason Servis $567,500
3. McKinzie 20 Karl Watson, Michael E. Pegram & Paul Weitman Bob Baffert $240,000
4. Bolt d’Oro 14 Ruis Racing (Mick Ruis) Mick Ruis $540,000
5. Free Drop Billy 14 Albaugh Family Stables LLC (Dennis Albaugh & Jason
Loustch) Dale Romans $467,200

6. Solomini 14 Zayat Stables LLC (Ahmed Zayat) Bob Baffert $436,000
7. Avery Island 14 Godolphin Racing LLC (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al
Maktoum et al)
Kiaran McLaughlin $320,000
8. Instilled Regard 14 Oxo Equine LLC (Lawrence Best) Jerry Hollendorfer $180,000
9. Enticed 13 Godolphin Racing LLC (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al
Maktoum et al)
Kiaran McLaughlin $180,880
10. Greyvitos 10 Triple B Farms (Michelle Boghossian) Adam Kitchingman $300,000
11. Catholic Boy 10 Robert V. LaPenta Jonathan Thomas $290,000
12. Audible 10 WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt), China Horse Club International Ltd. (Ah Khing Teo) & SF Racing LLC (Gavin Murphy) Todd Pletcher $208,320

13. Mourinho 10 Phoenix Thoroughbred III (Amer Abdulaziz) Bob Baffert $124,360
14. Lombo 10 Michael V. Lombardi Mike Pender $90,000
15. Combatant 8 Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (Ron Winchell) & Willis Horton Racing LLC
Steve Asmussen $110,000
16. Tiz Mischief 6 Frank L. Jones Jr. Dale Romans $70,400