ascot aug08
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Monday, February 18, 2008


Okay, I'm not thrilled to be back in this weather but home is home and Woodbine opens soon!
(Photo is of PYRO, the colt that is making everyone excited so early in Kentucky Derby trail season. His Risen Star Stakes win was something though. Photo is from Spruceton Spook's FLICKR page)

Cleaning up the desk:

Comments that came in during the last week included an update on trainer JODY HAMMETT, (bear in mind, it’s from Anonymous) that says he will be training privately for Herbert Chambers in 2008 (read the comment under the post ‘Batten Down the Hatches’)

If anyone from Fort Erie knows trainer JENNIFER DAVIS…please send an email to me…I have had a request for information about Ms. Davis. Thanks!

One reader makes an interesting point about the WOODBINE STAKES SCHEDULE, all the new moves on the sked (the WIN AND YOU’RE IN races) and the placement of the Northern Dancer Stakes on Woodbine Mile day. Maybe you have an opinion on the schedule?

Other readers sends his/her opinions on HPI TV and some of the commentary (not necessarily any of these comments are the opinions of yours truly either). Please note that many of the hosts on HPI do go into the day’s work very prepared – studying many of the races at the litany of tracks that are going. I have seen the preparation that goes into the work by some of the hosts.


(as far as I can tell)

Some updates and notes since last Saturday (the big card at Fair Grounds) - I've mixed my reports with some stories from the web...

100 Beyer Figure for Swirl

'Sugar Swirl wins second race in a row'


Frank Stronach's Sugar Swirl (Touch Gold-Astrapi, by Distinctive Pro) won her second graded stakes race in a row, capturing the $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Handicap (Gr. 3) on Sunday at Gulfstream Park.

''I think this is her best distance,'' trainer Brian Lynch said of the seven-furlong feature. ``They [Stronach's advisors] were thinking of breeding her this year if this didn't go well, but now I think they'll keep her in training.''

Sugar Swirl won the First Lady Handicap (Gr. 3) on Jan. 13.

Sugar Swirl, under Javier Castellano, stalked the pace set by Cher Ami in quick fractions of 22.02 and 44.54 for the first half-mile. Halfway through the far turn, Castellano moved Sugar Swirl into the lead and sprinted off to an 8 ¾-length victory in 1:22.77.

''I saw the No. 2 horse [Cher Ami] take the lead, so I took advantage,'' Castellano said. ``My filly was so sharp early in the race, she was just galloping along. I hit her a couple of times just to keep her focused because she started to look around [once she got the lead]. No matter what, she was primed and ready. There's no question about her being able to go longer based on the way she ran today. I had a ton of horse going for home.''

Sugar Swirl was the 3-5 favorite in the six-horse field and paid $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10.


Stronach and Brian Lynch are cleaning up in Florida this year. Perhaps the monster of all the monsters is SPRING WALTZ, (Silver Charm-Relaxing Rhythm, Easy Goer) who won for the 5th time in her 8 starts yesterday at Gulfstream (she has been 2nd in the other 3 races). That 5yo mare with the wonderful pedigree ran a 106 Beyer Figure in her win at 1 1/8 miles. Too bad she’s not Canadian-bred!

At the FASIG TIPTON MIXED SALE last week, Canadians that were buying included Mike Newell, Box Arrow Farm and Dave Cotey.

The latter bought the unfortunately named SLOW GOAT (Explicit – Fast Goat), a 2yo gelding. Eeks.

NUMBER ONE IS..NUMBER ONE – Hip No. 1 was the sales topper at the OBS 2yo sale last week. She’s a filly by Silver Deputy out of the stakes winning Ghazi mare Daisy Dukes and a half-sister to stakes winner Surplus Singer.

There is a Canadian connection in the pedigree – the 3rd dam is MIDI SKIRT, a well know Canadian mare by Caucasus, who produced stakes horse for Canada such as Futurette and stakes placed native Skirt and Water Spider (who is the dam of Minshall Farms stakes winners Spider Wire, Barbed Wire etc.)

At the 2yo sale, Dany Dion’s BEAR STABLES came to life again.

The Bear bought a colt, hip no, 58, by Teton Forest from the family of Canadian bred star Formal Gold for $185,000 and hip no. 49, a gray colt by Two Punch, from the family of grey stars such as DARN THAT ALARM and STRONG PERFORMANCE for $140,000.

Bear also bought hip no. 99, a grey Tapit filly for $90,000

Here’s a re-cap of the sale from the Ocala Star-Banner:




OCALA — "We started out strong, and we finished strong," Tom Ventura, Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. director of sales said Tuesday at the conclusion of the OBS Selected Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training.

"The first horse in the [sales] ring sold for $520,000, and the last horse to sell sold for $475,000," he continued. "It was a record day across the board."

In fact, Tuesday's edition of the sale set records for average ($157,640), median ($125,000) and number of horses to sell for $200,000 or more (17).

The sale-stopper was hip no. one which sold to Buzz Chace, agent, for $520,000.

In an era when few two-year-old consignors want to be bothered with mares, the Silver Deputy filly was bred and sold by Dr. Barry and Shari Eisaman.

"I love to breed my own horses," Shari Eisaman said. "Homebred horses have bought our farm. Every year one of my broodmares makes the mortgage payment."

This year it was Daisy Dukes, the dam of the sale-stopper.

"We pinhooked her, but when she didn't sell as a two-year-old, we raced her. She became a stakes winner, so we bred her."

"This is her third foal. Her first foal sold two years ago to Japan where she has earned more than $700,000."

While the filly was on the farm, she was good, but when she breezed at the undertack show in :10, Eisaman thought she was great, and buyer Chace agreed.

"She went over the track very well," Chace said. "She was just such a beautiful mover. When we went to the barn to look at her, she was just such a big, strong, intelligent, good-looking horse."

Eisaman agreed. "Buzz Chace knows how to pick out a good horse."

In the 30 years Chace has been coming to Ocala to buy horses he has purchased some very good ones.

Recently, he purchased stakes winner Dream Rush, who was pictured on the front cover of this year's catalog, and Flashy Bull, who was pictured on the back cover of this year's catalog.

The leading buyer at this year's sale was Satish and Anne Sanan's Padua Stables with 10 head for $2.38 million, including the co-second highest price of the sale, a Friend's Lake colt for $450,000.

Sanan worked with his selection team of Bruce Hill, Nadia Briggs, Shasha Sanan and Shane Tripp. "The team worked the sale very hard," Sanan said. "I just came here to spend a little bit of money. They all said this was one of the best groups of horse in a long time."

Numerically, the sale was up 9.3 percent on gross of $14 million; up 17.9 percent on average and up 25 percent on median. The buy-backs were 28.2 percent compared to 29.9 percent last year.

The old record for average was $139,430 set in 2006, and the old record for median was $120,000 set in 2005.

Sales resume at OBS on March 18-19 with the Selected Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training.


JAZZ NATION (Ontario-bred by City Zip) was a surprising 2nd in the OBS Sales Sprint Stakes (presented by Darley) last week. The colt, owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Reade Baker, surely would have been favoured in the 6 furlong sprint but the race was won by front runner Ben and the Twin (Storm Boot).

The winning Beyer for 1:11.40 was low and Jazz Nation earned only a 69 Beyer. The track seemed fast, 2yo’s worked in :20.80 and :9.80 the day before at the gallop show.

(Note: the OBS track was using Pro-Ride synthetic surface for the first time, perhaps some horses did not handle the surface)

I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE the news I read last week, or maybe I can, that THE GREEN MONKEY was retired to stud. Wow, this beautiful colt, the one I saw sell for $16 million 2 winters ago in Florida, just couldn’t run I guess, or he broke down early, or whatever.

JOE JONES AT writes his column about this news:


I love this sport and I think anything to promote it or its stars, for the most part, is a good thing.

But a story I read this week on goes against that grain.

It was about the Green Monkey, a 4-year-old colt trained by Todd Pletcher, that was being retired to stud after three career starts, finishing no better than third.

For those of you who don’t know, the Green Monkey was purchased for a record $16 million a couple years back. He was regally bred and had a dazzling workout before going to auction.

Green Monkey took a long while to get to the track and injuries may have played a role in the horse not turning out to be a star.

OK, I get it. The horse has top-notch bloodlines and he wouldn’t be the first sire to produce star-caliber offspring without doing much on the track.

Here’s the truly ridiculous part. There are plans in the works to possibly have the Green Monkey accessible to visitors. The feeling is people will want to see the horse that was bought for $16 million.


In the same way people may want to go out and rent a copy of “Ishtar?” For those of you who don’t know, that’s a movie starring icons Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman that cost a kazillion dollars to make in the 1980s and was a box office bomb.

I can see it now. People by the busloads heading to a Kentucky farm, fathers with sons, mothers with daughters, flocking to see thoroughbred horse racing’s version of Ishtar.

“Hey Jimmy, here’s the racehorse a bunch of people shelled out $16 million for that never won a race.”

“Gee, Daddy, you were right. This is much better than going to see Smarty Jones.”

If I bashed my head up against the wall for every time I read or heard something about this sport that had me thinking, “They just don’t get it,” I might be looking to get my skull re-enforced with a titanium plate.

Does any other sport promote itself worse than horse racing?

I know there probably are only about three people in Western Canada watching hockey on Versus, but at least they try to promote the game.

There just aren’t enough people in this country who care enough about it to make it a huge success here.

Maybe, that’s the same for horse racing, but who really knows?

The sport’s governing bodies and tracks do such a poor job promoting the game in general that they don’t even give themselves a chance to grow it.

But, hey, you can go see The Green Monkey, $16 million bust, if you like.

If you were going to a carnival and paying a $1 to see him along with the bearded lady” and snake boy it might be cute.

As for me, I’ll be looking for a place that still has a copy of “Ishtar.”


STERWINS ran well in the Fair Grounds Handicap, third behind front running Daytona who set things up on the pace and went slow enough to scoot away. The Eugene Melnyk homebred should be fun to watch again at Woodbine on the turf in 2008.

FRENCH BERET (from Sam-Son Farms) bounced a bit off his peak win in the Grade 3 Colonel Bradley Stakes and was 5th. He’ll be back too.

CHARLES TOWN RACES, 8th, February 8, Alw, $28,000, 4yo up, 6.5f, fast,


1st—CLASSIC FRANCESCO, Dk b. or br. g. 6, Bold n’ Flashy—She Is Impressive,

by Regal Classic. O—Lucy B. Webb; B—Dom Romeo (On.); T—

Lucy B. Webb. 30-4-6-4, $129,318.

2nd—WIN AGAIN, B. g. 6, Awesome Again iSD—Valid Approval, by Valid Appeal.

O—Scott Nicks.

3rd—KODA, B. g. 5, Hennessy—Kissin’ Jeb, by Jeblar. O—Robert L. Cole Jr.

Margins: 1, nose, 4.

Rock of Gibraltar (Ire) (15/6) WEST OF GIBRALTAR, B. f. 4, Western Reel,

by Gone West. Gulfstream Park, 2/10, 8f, good, 1:38.38. Won by 3/4. O—

Cudney, Robert and Gunther, John D.; B—John D. Gunther & Cudney Stables

(On.); T—Barclay Tagg. 2-1-0-0, $26,388.

ROCKIN’! – Ontario-bred 3yo HARLEM ROCKER, making his career debut on Valentine’s day, won in thrilling fashion after a slow start and posted an impressive 81 Beyer Figure. The Macho Uno-Freedom Come, Lit de Justice colt (grey on grey, makes a grey colt) is owned and bred by Adena Springs and trained Todd Pletcher seems to have only recently joined the Stronach team.

ASCOT STUD (see ad above), home of TEJANO RUN and IMPEACHMENT report that FLEET CAROLINE (Tejano Run) won the Sun City Handicap at Turf Paradise on Sunday with an 85 Beyer Figure.

Another Tejano Run offspring, PRORUNNER, was 2nd in the Turf Paradise Handicap on the same day. The stakes winning 6yo ran a 94 Beyer Figure.


From NWA

By Robert Yates

HOT SPRINGS — If it was good enough for Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex and Curlin, then trainer Mark Casse said he believes it’s good enough for Turf War.

But following the same path to Churchill Downs doesn’t guarantee you’re going to get there.

It’s still up to the horse. In this case, it’s still up to Turf War, who makes his 3-year-old debut in the $ 250, 000 Grade III Southwest Stakes today at Oaklawn Park.

The Southwest highlights a 10-race program that begins at 1 p.m. and includes the annual $ 55, 000 progressive cash giveaway promotion.

Post time for the 1-mile Southwest, the first of Oaklawn’s three major Kentucky Derby prep races, is 5: 02 p.m.

Since 2004, the Arkansas route to Kentucky has become the country’s hottest with Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex and Curlin harvesting five Triple Crown victories.

Asked why he brought the promising Turf War to Arkansas, Casse, not surprisingly, said it was about location, location, location.

“It’s been a successful path in recent years,” said Casse, who turned 47 on Thursday. “That doesn’t hurt.” If Turf War performs well today, Casse said the colt could return to Oaklawn for the $ 300, 000 Grade II Rebel Stakes on March 15 or the $ 1 million Grade II Arkansas Derby on April 12.

Turf War is the most accomplished of the 11 horses entered in the Southwest, having closed 2007 by rallying from far back for a dead-heat victory in the $ 1 million Grade III Delta Jackpot Stakes on Dec. 7 at Delta Downs in Louisiana.

The $ 400, 000 winner’s share virtually assured Turf War — if he’s good enough — a spot in the Kentucky Derby.

What made the Delta Jackpot more encouraging, Casse said, was that Turf War had a new rider (Calvin Borel ), was racing at night for the first time, racing on dirt for the first time, racing on a bullring (three-quarters of a mile in circumference ) for the first time and coming off an eightweek layoff.

Dismissed at 39-1 in the Jackpot, Turf War is the 3-1 program favorite today.

“He had a lot of things going against him,” Casse said, referring to the Jackpot. “I understand why he was such long odds.” But Turf War began building his resume long before the Delta Jackpot.

As a 2-year-old, the son of Dixie Union won half of his four starts at Woodbine in Toronto, including the $ 125, 000 Swynford Stakes.

Turf War then ran sixth in the $ 250, 000 Grade III Grey Breeders’ Cup Stakes — his only poor career performance — before uncorking a wide, sweeping late move to finish on even terms with Z Humor in the Delta Jackpot at 1 1 / 16 miles.

“I thought early on in his training that he was a decent horse, but I never looked at him as a top horse,” said Casse, a Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s top trainer the past two years. “But as he’s gotten older and older, especially toward the fall, he continued to improve.” Casse said he will leave today’s strategy in Borel’s hands, but doesn’t envision Turf War being close to the early pace.

“I think [today’s ] race is important, but it’s not like we have to win it,” Casse said. “I would just like to see him come running.” Besides, the goal is having Turf War at his best on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs, not the third Monday in February at Oaklawn.

Casse pointed to Z Humor, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, as an example. In his 3-year-old debut, Z Humor finished fifth in Saturday’s $ 200, 000 Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

“I think Bill’s a little in the same situation that we are in,” Casse said. “He’s got enough earnings to get there [Kentucky Derby ], but I’m sure the Sam Davis wasn’t Bill Mott’s big goal. I would say you’ll see a much tighter horse in his next start.”


  • At 12:53 PM, Blogger the_drake said…

    Running 2 G1 races on the same day will not dilute the fields. If anything it will get rid of the 20 or 30-1 shots who run in every big race that trying to pick up a piece of the purse. I can't see many trainers saying "damn I can't run in the Atto Mile AND Northern Dancer this year". Other tracks don't have a problem running a 7/8s and a 1 1/8 or 1/4 G1 dirt race on the same card, because real Grade 1 horses usually stick to their distance. This is the only way Woodbine will continue to attract fields of that caliber.

    Plate day would be fitting also, but I can see many of the locals getting a little pissy since it will give a major advantage to shippers seeing as there won't be many chances to get a turf horse ready to go 1 1/2 by mid June.

    Good to see you came back Jen and didn't decide to stay in the warm weather.

  • At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Turfwar, Mark Casse and Calvin Borel....A Classic Combination.

  • At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I guess Calvin is kicking himself now that he may have lost the mount on Dennis of Cork...nice win by that three year old.

  • At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There is nothing wrong with running 2 G1 races on the same day. Other tracks do it successfully all the time. But that said, I don't like the Northern Dancer Stakes being run the same day as the Mile either. There are only 4 G1 races in Canada and we had to go cramming them in on just two days. I think the race deserves a day all its own. And it should not be on Plate day either. That is a showcase race and putting a G1 on that day would just take away from it.

    And speaking of the stakes schedule, when is Woodbine ever going to get a good, high profile main track race back, like the old Molson Million? As much as we love our turf racing at Woodbine, if they really want US classic horses coming up here, that is the race that will draw them, not the turf races.

  • At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I doubt Calvin is that upset, I'm sure it helps that he has already won the KENTUCKY DERBY. Besides Dennis of Cork didn't look like the next Smarty Jones either. Im not ready to dismass Turfwar yet and it wouldn't be that surprising if the tables were turned the next time they meet.


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