PHOTO OF THE WEEKEND
ROUTE TO THE QUEEN’S PLATE
Canadian-bred colt wins Turfway stakes race
The Tiznow 3-year-old colt ALTERNATIVE ROUTE raced greenly in Saturday’s $75,000 Rushaway Stakes on the synthetic dirt at Turfway Park, but won his first stakes race for Town & Country and Spendthrift Farms. Bred by Bill Graham and sold as a weanling ($275K), yearling ($325K)and 2-year-old in Training ($265K) the full brother to one of last year’s top 3-year-old fillies in Canada, Enstone, posted a modest 71 Beyer Figure in his win. Al Stall trains the bay colt.
Rushaway Stakes recap from Turfway Park:
Jockey Mitchell Murrill paid heed to earlier races on the Jeff Ruby Steaks card and guided Alternative Route to a 1 3/4-length win in the $75,000 Rushaway Stakes. Truth Be Tolled finished second but was disqualified to fourth after bearing out in the stretch and impeding both Year of the Kitten and Road to Damascus, who were moved up to second and third, respectively.
To gain his first stakes win, Alternative Route sat just behind the moderate pace set by long shot Giant Honor and took over approaching the three-quarters mark of the 1 1/16th-mile race for 3-year-olds. Final time was 1:46.38.
“We had a great trip sitting up there near the speed,” said Murrill. “That was the place to be if you go off the earlier races. You have to push him along out of the gate, sort of nudge him a little bit, but he ran great, especially down the lane.”
After Truth Be Tolled in fourth came Violent Storm, Believe in Royalty, Honorable Treasure, Elgar, Front Door, Oskar Blues and Giant Honor.
Off at 7-1, Alternative Route paid $17.20, $8.20 and $5.80.
Alternative Route is owned by Spendthrift Farm LLC and Town and Country Racing LLC and is trained by Al Stall Jr.
Updated QUEEN’S PLATE TOP 10 from THOROUGHBLOG
Horse with current status
1. Flameaway – Blue Grass Stakes could be next for Oxley/Casse colt
2. Aheadbyacentury – Half mile prep at Payson Park Mar 15; 50.40
3. Neepawa -Bullet workout at Palm Meadows Mar 17 on turf; Transylvania at Kee?
4. Telekinesis – lightly raced Casse colt may try first stakes race next out
5. Wonder Gadot – filly races Saturday at Fair Grounds, Oaks
6. Alternative Route- green in his Rushaway win
7. Dixie Moon – busy working at Palm Meadows
8. Silent Sting – working in Florida
9. Be Vewy Vewy Quiet – working at Woodbine
10. Sent from Heaven – in Florida for owner Murray Stroud
HE IS SOMETHING AWESOME
Stronach runner zooms to top of Hot Canadian-bred list on Thoroughblog
Stronach Stable’s Grade 3-winning sprinter Something Awesome made the stretch out to 1 1/8 miles look easy with a decisive 2 ¼-length victory in the $100,000 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial for 3-year-olds and up.
He posted a 100 Beyer Figure.
A homebred son of multiple Grade 1 winner Awesome Again, Something Awesome ($6.60) completed the distance in 1:50.86 for his fourth victory from five starts and second straight in a stakes, following the seven-furlong General George (G3) Feb. 17.
Something Awesome was alert from his rail post and settled in a stalking position on the inside behind pacesetting Doyouknowsomething through a quarter-mile in 24.42 seconds and a half in 47.97. Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado steered the 7-year-old gelding outside leaving the backstretch and assumed the lead without resistance, then pulled away under a hand ride down the stretch.
Queens County Stakes winner Zanotti, the 9-5 favorite, overcome a slow start to get up for second, 3 ¼ lengths ahead of Discreet Lover. New York shipper Admiral Blue was fourth.
“I got very lucky. He got a good break and I was able to put my horse in a good position all the way around,” Prado said. “I had so much horse so I was riding with a lot of confidence, just waiting for the top of the stretch so I could turn him loose and when I did, he responded very well.”
It was an emotional win for trainer Jose Corrales, who took over the training of Something Awesome last October, coming in front of a multitude of friends and family. Something Awesome had run as far as 1 1/16 miles only four times in 22 previous starts, just twice on dirt, finishing third twice.
“He’s a pretty nice horse. Edgar rode a very good race,” Corrales said. “I’m so blessed, not only for the horse but I have my mother here with me and that never really happens too much. She’s visiting today, and I’m very happy for that.”
WOODBINE HORSES GETTING PREPARED
PINK LLOYD had his first workout of 2018 with a bullet 3 furlong move last week and he seems primed to get ready for the Jacques Cartier Stakes on opening day.
5 weeks until the season opens but the April 19 Sovereign Awards come first – get your tickets!
Woodbine’s Hotwalker and Groom School Programs.
KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS
Another weekend and more Kentucky Derby ‘prep’ races (major stakes races that can serve as events leading up to the May 5 Derby).
The latest Derby prep winners, MAGNUM MOON (Malibu Moon) and BLENDED CITITZEN (Proud Citizen) are very different. The former is unbeaten for Bob and Lawana Low and trainer Todd Pletcher and the latter is a grass horse/synthetic dirt horse from California.
Magnum Moon, who was making his stakes debut, recorded a 3 ½-length victory over favored Solomini and secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby May 5 at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Luis Saez, Magnum Moon ($8) covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.68, making it the fastest Rebel since Smarty Jones – stretching his unbeaten streak to five – ran 1:42.07 in 2004.
His Beyer was 97.
Magnum Moon (3 for 3) earned 50 points for his victory and ranks fifth on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, according to a news release Saturday from Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 starters, with starting preference given to horses with the highest point totals in designated races like the Rebel, if the race overfills.
Pletcher assistant Ginny DePasquale said Sunday morning that Magnum Moon and stablemate Hedge Fund emerged from their victories in good order. Hedge Fund was a front-running winner of the $300,000 Essex Handicap for older horses about 80 minutes before the Rebel.
“They both came back very well,” said DePasquale, who saddled the horses in Pletcher’s absence. “Both came back in good shape.”
Magnum Moon is scheduled to be flown back to his south Florida base Monday, but DePasquale said the flight may be delayed until Tuesday.
If Magnum Moon returns for the Arkansas Derby, Pletcher would be following the same script he did last year with Malagacy, who, in his stakes debut, won the Rebel in his third career start. Malagacy finished fifth in the Arkansas Derby. Neither Malagacy or Magnum Moon raced at 2.
A son of Malibu Moon, Magnum Moon has earned $577,800 for the Lows, who live in Springfield, Mo., and previously won Oaklawn stakes races with trainers Dan Peitz and Steve Margolis.
Sporting Chance emerged in good order from his fifth-place finish in the Rebel, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Sunday morning, and will be pointed for the Arkansas Derby.
A Grade 1 winner at 2, Sporting Chance was beaten 5 ¾ lengths after an outside stalking trip under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
“It’s hard for me to handle that one because I thought I had him trained to the minute,” Lukas said. “I really felt like he would run a monster race, and he didn’t. He flattened out a little bit. He had a decent trip. I was disappointed in him. Don’t have a lot of explanations, but he did come back good.”
Recap of Jeff Ruby Steaks, formerly the Spiral Stakes:
Just more than two lengths covered the top three finishers in a thrilling renewal of the $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park Saturday, with Blended Citizen hitting the wire a neck in front to earn 20 points toward a spot in the Kentucky Derby gate. Pony Up was second, a length ahead of Arawak in third.
Final time for the 1 1/8-mile race over Polytrack was 1:50.87. That was an 83 Beyer Figure.
Mugaritz took the lead early and set a moderate pace while Blended Citizen was steadied before settling mid-pack and Pony Up and Arawak raced near the back of the field of 12 3-year-olds. The lead stretched to six and then seven lengths, with Mugaritz holding the advantage until the late runners began to engulf him just before the sixteenth pole. It was a horse race from that point home, as jockey Kyle Frey drove Blended Citizen up the rail and Albin Jimenez urged Pony Up to challenge from the outside.
“We broke a little quicker and we were a lot closer than I expected,” said Frey. “I had to steady a bit because the outside horse (Ride a Comet) closed in on us early in the race. I wasn’t too worried about it. I pulled out of there and waited. About the half mile pole, it seemed like the race just started to fall apart. As things opened up, I just let Jesus take the wheel. With the way he was moving, all I needed was an opening and I got it.”
The Jeff Ruby is the first stakes win for Blended Citizen, who earned two points toward the Kentucky Derby with a third-place finish in the El Camino Real Derby exactly a month ago. Trainer Doug O’Neill added blinkers for the Jeff Ruby and the close win proved the wisdom of the change.
“He got such a great ground-saving trip,” said O’Neill by text. “The owner Steve Young and (assistant) Leandro Mora talked about adding blinkers after his last race. What a great call.”
Behind Arawak came Zanesville, Mugaritz, Sky Promise, Cash Call Kitten, Ride a Comet, Dreamer’s Point, Magicalmeister, Archaggelos and the 3-1 favorite Hazit, who stumbled out of the gate.
Blended Citizen was the bettors’ second choice at 6-1 and paid $14.40, $7.20 and $5.
Bred in Kentucky by Ray Hanson, Blended Citizen is by Proud Citizen out of the Langfuhr mare Langara Lass. He now has two wins and two thirds in eight starts for owners Greg Hall and Sayjay Racing LLC.
Okay, so where is everyone at currently as far as the Derby and the qualifying points to get into the race (20 is max number of horses allowed in race)?
And who are the major contenders vs the likely outsiders? (The Louisiana Derby, next Sat., the Ark Derby, Blue Grass and Florida Derby are still to be run)
Derby points are below with horses in bold considered by Thoroughblog to be the current strong contenders.
Rank Horse Points Owner(s) Trainer Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Bolt d’Oro 64 Ruis Racing (Mick Ruis) Mick Ruis $780,000
2. Enticed 63 Godolphin Racing LLC (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum et al) Kiaran McLaughlin $360,880
3. Bravazo 54 Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) D. Wayne Lukas $349,913
4. Promises Fulfilled 52 Robert J. Baron Dale Romans $256,480
5. Magnum Moon 50 Lawana L. & Robert E. Low Todd Pletcher $540,000
6. Quip 50 WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt), China Horse Club (Ah Khing Teo) & SF Racing LLC (Gavin Murphy) Rodolphe Brisset $212,000
7. McKinzie 40 Karl Watson, Michael E. Pegram & Paul Weitman Bob Baffert $320,000
8. Good Magic 34 e Five Racing Thoroughbreds) & Stonestreet Stables LLC (Barbara Banke) Chad Brown $1,238,400
9. Solomini 34 Zayat Stables LLC (Ahmed Zayat), Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor & Derrick Smith Bob Baffert $616,000
10. $-Flameaway 30 John C. Oxley Mark Casse $472,260
11. Firenze Fire 29 Mr. Amore Stable (Ron Lombardi) Jason Servis $582,500
12. Free Drop Billy 24 Albaugh Family Stables LLC (Dennis Albaugh & Jason Loustch) Dale Romans $497,200
13. Combatant 22 Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (Ron Winchell) & Willis Horton Racing LLC Steve Asmussen $300,000
14. Snapper Sinclair 22 Bloom Racing Stable (Jeffrey Bloom) Steve Asmussen $301,810
— +Blended Citizen 22 Greg Hall & Sayjay Racing LLC Doug O’Neill $129,644
15. Strike Power 20 Courtlandt Farms (Donald & Donna Adam) Mark Hennig $199,560
16. Old Time Revival 20 Fred J. Brei Kenneth Decker $80,000
17. Instilled Regard 19 Oxo Equine LLC (Lawrence Best) Jerry Hollendorfer $196,000
18. Catholic Boy 14 Robert V. LaPenta & Madaket Stables LLC (Sol Kumin) Jonathan Thomas $330,000
19.INJURED Avery Island 14 Godolphin Racing LLC (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum et al) Kiaran McLaughlin $320,000
20. My Boy Jack 12 Don’t Tell My Wife Stables (Kirk Godbey & Rob Slack) & Monomoy Stables LLC (Sol Kumin) Keith Desormeaux $402,000
21. Greyvitos 10 Triple B Farms (Michelle Boghossian) Adam Kitchingman $300,000
22. Audible 10 WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt), China Horse Club International Ltd, SF Racing LLC (Gavin Murphy) & Starlight Racing
Todd Pletcher $208,320
— +The Tabulator 10 Carolyn Wilson Larry Rivelli $186,750
23. Kanthaka 10 West Point Thoroughbreds LLC (Terry Finley) Jerry Hollendorfer $168,000
24. World of Trouble 10 Michael Dubb & Bethlehem Stables LLC Jason Servis $145,000
25. Lombo 10 Michael V. Lombardi Mike Pender $90,345
WOODBRIDGE WINS CITY OF AIKEN TROPHY FOR 2ND YEAR
Gus Schickedanz/Mike Keogh loving the South Carolina training races
It didn’t rain on Woodbridge’s parade during the 76th Aiken Trials.
Even though Saturday got off to a wet and cloudy start, the sun was shining when the 4-year-old thoroughbred gelding rolled to victory in the City of Aiken Trophy at the Aiken Training Track.
At the wire, Woodbridge was all alone, finishing far ahead of his three rivals while winning the race for the second year in a row.
THE STRANGE TALES IN RACING NEWS
There have been strange goings-on in racing in recent days from a controversial workout by a horse said to be retired, to a fine and suspension for Breeders’ Cup winning trainer for disorderly conduct and, wait for it… robot jockeys!