UPSET IN INDIA!
Previously unbeaten SIR CECIL (the ‘Frankel’ of India) stalled in the late stages of the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby on the weekend while rival STAR SUPERIOR blew past for a 5 length win.
Sir Cecil was 8 for 8 and already had the first leg of the Indian Triple Crown under his belt but the son of Win Legend (by Sunday Silence) from the Elusive Pimpernel mare Elusive Trust could only manage third.
STAR SUPERIOR is a son of the Poonawalla Stud EXCELLENT ART, winner of the St Jame’s Palace Stakes (G1) and from the mare Ramjet by Placerville.
Star Superior’s second dam Lap of Luxury is by the brilliant Indian sire MALVADO, a Canadian bred born at Windfields Farm by Nearctic.
Watch the race below and read more here.
SANTA ANITA SATURDAY – MUCHO MESS
You know that song ‘It never Rains in California’? It doesn’t actually apply any more, it seems.
A week of rain at the famed Santa Anita racetrack played havoc with racing last weekend which included some major stakes races and a mandatory payout of a big Rainbow 6.
With a carryover of $1.5 million, it was thought that the total pool available to fans could have been as high as $10 million, but it ended up at $5.1 million. The sloppy track and scratches made the bet not as enticing as it would have been on a fast track. Mostly favourites skipped their way over a hard, sloppy track, and almost everyone (over 18,000 fans), cashed their wager – to earn just $296.
Horsepeople wanted to see how the races were going on Saturday before deciding to keep their horses in the entries which caused headaches for everyone. One trainer, Shelbe Ruis, who wanted to scratch her first time starter from a maiden race got on Twitter and said she was ‘harassed’ by the racing office for trying to scratch. This led to a lengthy story about the incident, which involved former Woodbine Entertainment director of racing Steve Lym.
In the Grade 3 Robert Lewis Stakes won by Mucho Gusto, an early Kentucky Derby prep race, 3-year-old Kid Cantina broke down and was euthanized.
KENTUCKY DERBY PREPS BEGIN TO HEAT UP
Tax, Mucho Gusto and Harvey Wallbanger are the winners, “let the games begin”
Harvey Wallbanger parlayed a ground-saving trip under Brian Hernandez Jr. into a 29-1 upset victory in Saturday’s $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
The Holy Bull, a 1 1/16-mile prep for 3-year-olds, was one of three very early Derby ‘prep’ stakes races that took place in Florida, New York and California.
The Ken McPeek-trained Harvey Wallbanger was making his stakes debut in the Holy Bull while racing for the first time this year. In his most recent start, the son of Congrats – Adorabell by Distorted Humor captured a maiden special weight race at Churchill Downs Nov. 17 after starting off his career with three straight second-place finish for owners Harold Lerner LLC, AWC Stables, Nehoc Stables, Scott Akman and Paul Braverman.
Maximus Mischief, the 3-5 favorite in a field of nine, suffered his first loss in four starts while finishing third, unable to withstand the inside challenge of Harvey Wallbanger after gaining a lead in the stretch.
“It’s a horse race. You can’t duck one, can you? He showed he had some good, solid ability. I was thinking he’d rise up to whatever level you put him in,” McPeek said. “All we did last fall was really kind of teach him what to do. The end of the season he was a little tired after his fourth race and we backed off, came down here, and took our time.
“I had some options to run in an a-other-than and I told [co-owner] Harold [Lerner], ‘Let’s find out how good he is, because he can’t be training any better,’” McPeek added. “Today, I told Brian, ‘If they go, let them go. Don’t worry about it. Just tuck in, save some ground, and make your run.’”
Hernandez, who has enjoyed solid success during his first Championship meet at Gulfstream, executed the plan to perfection. Harvey Wallbanger was rated far off the early pace set by Epic Dreamer, who showed the way around the turn and along the backstretch while posting fractions of 23.18 and 46.76 seconds for the first half mile. Maximus Mischief, who captured the Dec. 1 Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct in his most recent start, broke from the gate sharply under Jose Ortiz and was in closest pursuit of the pacesetter.
Harvey Wallbanger ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.69 while giving McPeek a second Triple Crown prospect. McPeek also trains Grade 2 winner Signalman, who breezed at Gulfstream Park Saturday morning in preparation for a start in the Fountain of Youth.
The colt, co-owned by Paul Braverman who raced horses at Woodbine last year with trainer Reade Baker, is from the mare Adorabell, whose own dam is Canadian-bred stakes winner Hear the Bells by Deputy Minister.
At Santa Anita on a dreary, rainy day, favored Mucho Gusto was all business, as he rated kindly and exploded the final eighth of a mile to take the Grade III, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes by 4 ¾ lengths under Joe Talamo. Trained by Bob Baffert, the chestnut colt by Mucho Macho Man got a mile and one sixteenth over a sloppy track in 1:41.81.
A comfortable third into and around the Club House turn, Mucho Gusto was well within himself as he stalked Magnificent McCool while second heading to the far turn. Five sixteenths of a mile from home, he took command and accelerated through the lane like a top Derby prospect to win with his ears pricked.
“Every race, he’s getting better and better,” said Talamo, who’s ridden him in all four of his starts. “He settled today like he’s been doing this a hundred times…He galloped out real strong. I don’t think distance is going to be any problem. At the three eighths (pole), I was pretty confident. He’s a 3-year-old, but he feels like an older horse.”
Idle since running second to his highly regarded stablemate Improbable in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity Dec. 8, Mucho Gusto, who is out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Itsagiantcauseway, was off at 3-5 in a field of five sophomores and paid $3.20, $2.20 and $2.10.
Owned by Michael Lund Petersen, Mucho Gusto, who was purchased for $625,000 at a 2-year-old in training sale this past May, picked up $90,000 for the win, hiking his earnings to $234,000. He now has three wins from four starts and he picked up 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points as well.
“He got to sit off the pace, which was good,” said Baffert. “They have to learn to do that, and I was really happy with Joe. He rode him with a lot of confidence today, like he was a good horse and he (Talamo) was on his own. I didn’t give him any instructions…He’s a good horse. He’s a fighter, too. If they’d have hooked him, he likes to fight.
“This is the time of the year when you want to start getting excited about something…I want to run him in spots where he’s going to be very competitive, and we have those other horses, so it depends on what the other horses are doing. Right now, I’m going to nominate my horses everywhere and whoever’s doing great that week runs in that race…Let the games begin.”
The 139th running of the Withers was the second of four races on the New York path to the Kentucky Derby, awarding Tax 10 qualifying points for the Run for the Roses on May 4 at Churchill Downs.
Owned by R.A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing Stable, Tax broke from the inside post as the 2-1 favorite, staying off the pacesetter Not That Brady, who led the seven-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 23.56 seconds, the half in 47.39 and three-quarters in 1:11.44 on the main track labeled fast.
Out of the turn, Not That Brady maintained the lead as Our Braintrust challenged to his outside. The duo bumped slightly in the stretch while Tax, under encouragement from jockey Junior Alvarado, kept gaining ground from the inside, taking command near the sixteenth pole and completing 1 1/8 miles in a final time of 1:50.27, finishing a head of Not That Brady.
“He ran really good today. I think down the backside, he got a really good education,” Gargan said. “Junior said he was really impressed with him. He said he kind of got stuck down in there and clipped heels a couple of times.
“I’m happy with the fact that he learned and got in there and got an education. We’re going to get into bigger fields as this goes down the road further.”
Tax returned $6.20 on a $2 win wager. He more than tripled his career bankroll to $186,300 and increased his Derby qualifying points to 12 after earning two with a third-place finish last out in the Grade 2 Remsen on December 1 at the Big A.
KENTUCKY DERBY POINTS
Rank Horse Points Owner(s) Trainer Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Game Winner 30 Gary & Mary West Bob Baffert $1,460,000
2. Knicks Go 18 KRA Stud Farm (Jin Woo Lee) Ben Colebrook $656,085
3. Signalman 18 Tommie M. Lewis & Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek) Kenny McPeek $392,840
4. Gunmetal Gray 18 Hollendorfer LLC, Pearl Racing & West Point Thoroughbreds (Terry Finley) Jerry Hollendorfer $210,000
5. Long Range Toddy 14 Willis Horton Racing LLC Steve Asmussen $330,000
6. Mucho Gusto 14 Michael Lund Petersen Bob Baffert $210,000
7. Maximus Mischief 12 Cash is King LLC (Charles J. Zacney et al) & L C Racing LLC (Glenn Bennett) “Butch” Reid Jr. $171,100
8. Tax 12 R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch & Corms Racing Stable
Danny Gargan $167,500
9. Mind Control 10 Red Oak Stable (Stephen Brunetti) & Madaket Stables LLC (Sol Kumin) Gregg Sacco $295,000
10. Complexity 10 Klaravich Stables Inc. (Seth Klarman) Chad Brown $275,000
11. Improbable 10 WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt), China Horse Club International Ltd. (Ah Khing Teo) & Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf et al) Bob Baffert $239,520
12. Harvey Wallbanger 10 Harold Lerner LLC, AWC Stables, Nehoc Stables, Scott K. Akman & Paul Braverman Kenny McPeek $208,320
13. War of Will 10 Gary Barber Mark Casse $200,840
14. Gray Attempt 10 Dwight Pruett Jinks Fires $135,000
15. Cairo Cat 10 Walking L Thoroughbreds LLC (Scott Leeds) Kenny McPeek $86,490
16. Our Braintrust 6 Gary Barber Mark Casse $147,000
Derby contender was originally a $14,000 yearling purchase
Flashy MUCHO GUSTO, winner of the Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday in the slop, is one of those wild sales horses that blossomed from yearling to 2-year-old, going from few interested parties to a big ticket purchase.
From the first crop of the Adena Spring’s exciting stud MUCHO MACHO MAN, Mucho Gusto was sold as a ‘short’ yearling at the Keeneland January Horses of Racing Age sale for $14,000 to Kelly Lively.
In September at the Keeneland yearling sale, the colt was sold for $95,000 to S.R. Schwartz. The following spring at the March Ocala Breeders’ 2-year-old sale, the son of the Giant’s Causeway mare Itsagiantcauseway worked one furling in 10 seconds flat on a synthetic surface but had few people excited. He was bought back for $55,000.
Incredibly, just 75 days later at the Fasig Tipton Midatlantic 2-year-old sale in May at Timonium, the colt worked 2 furlongs in a sizzling 21 1/5 in the slop for that sale. He then brought a staggering $625,000 at that sale from Michael Lund Petersen and was sent to trainer Bob Baffert.
Kip Elser’s Kirkwood Stables sold the colt at the Maryland sale and said the colt blossomed before the sale.
OWNERSHIP INTEGRITY CONDITIONS MOVING FORWARD
A group of Ontario’s signature harness race tracks – Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway and The Raceway at Western Fair District – have jointly announced a new ownership integrity stakes condition which will take effect on February 15, 2019 and will apply to some of the province’s most high profile races.
It has not received the attention it deserves, but the recent announcements by Ontario regulators that race horse owners will be held accountable for their drug-treating trainers is a major development in the game.
More than 25 years in the making, the new ruling and buy-in by the racetracks sends a sobering message that change is in the wind.
Last year, Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) as usual, led the way by announcing an ownership integrity condition to the major stake races it conducts at the Mohawk Woodbine Park.