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Saturday, March 29, 2008


UPDATE 5:53 P.M.


Horse racing has another superstar after BIG BROWN remained undefeated in his 3rd career start, demolishing 11 others in the FLORIDA DERBY this afternoon and GULFSTREAM.

The imposing 3yo colt by BOUNDARY - MIEN, NUREYEV won by at least half a dozen lengths in the incredible time of 1:48.16 for 1 1/8 miles...two ticks off the track record.

Never mind that the colt won but it was his manner of winning. Starting from post 12, the colt quickly made the lead after going 3 wide on the first turn, set sizzling splits of 22/76, 45.83 and he just opened up.

All the talk from his camp, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., jockey Kent Desormeaux, etc. was right on. This guy is a freak.

The 1:48 time translates into a raw 122 Beyer Figure and once you take into account the track variant, you could see the colt earn in the 110 range (higher?).

Canadian-bred COOL GATOR fared okay too - he was 5th and seemed to be trying hard to pick up the pieces so he has earned a solid title as the clear Queen's Plate favourite for Hillsbrook Farm.

SMOOTH AIR had a methodical rally to be 2nd in a super effort but who is going to beat BIG BROWN if he can go that fast and keep going?

Curlin from U.S. ridden by Robby Albarado wins the $ 6 million Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai, Saturday, March 29, 2008. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

HORSE OF THE WORLD - 1:37 p.m.

CURLIN scored a workmanlike victory in the $6 million DUBAI WORLD CUP over South African ASIATIC BOY and confirm his status as the best racehorse in the world. "It's an honour to ride a creature like this," said Robby Albarado on his way back to the winner's circle. "This is the top of any of (my accomplishments)"

Curlin pressed the pace 4 wide along with WELL ARMED and ASIATIC BOY and it appeared as if the slow pace was going to work in his favour.

In behind that trio, PREMIUM TAP was checking and steadying with just over 2 furlongs to run and was giving his rider a hard time.

Meanwhile, the trio went on with things before CURLIN edged clear.
The 1-2-3 runners at the start were 1-2-3 at the finish.

MORE FROM SOUTH AFRICA...The world's best horses just might be in SOUTH AFRICA... Mike de Kock sent out the mare SUN CLASSIQUE to win the Sheema Classic at 12:56 in a thrilling finish to that 1 1/2 mile turf race.
The Australia bred mare is by the Sunday Silence stallion FUJI KISEKI and is owned and bred by L. Cohen and partner. The mare has won 9 of 15 races and she gas won all 3 od her Dubai outings in 2008.

UPDATE - 12:21 Being FAIR means complimenting and criticizing where one thinks...freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. I invite my friend this morning to send me an email and not hide.

PICTURE PERFECT! The DUBAI DUTY FREE was another success for SOUTH AFRICA, but not Mike de Kock. It was the Marcus's family's JAY PEG who computed a good trip on the pace in the 1 1/8 mile turf event, was passed in deep stretch and then came on again to beat the good filly DARJINA.
This all came even though the saddle slipped nearing the wire and Jay Peg's jock almost fell off. Wild stuff.
A 35 to 1 bomber, JAY PEG (Camden Park, by A.P. Indy) was 2nd time blinkers but he had been a disappointment in Dubai this year. The sire, a winner in the U.S., died last year in South Africa of toxic shock.

11:30 THERE WAS A 15 MINUTE INQUIRY into the Shaheen finish but that was not mentioned on HPI..instead..a lengthy TARGET LOUISVILLE feature was shown before a lengthy discussion on Gulfstream races. No ticker was shown.

DUTROW JR. ON A ROLL ...UPDATE: 11:11 - He's a bull for sure..BENNY THE BULL came from off the pace and wore down IDIOT PROOF for a 1-2 finish in the GOLDEN SHAHEEN, the straightaway 6 furlong dash.
The American sprinters have won the last 5 editions and made the others look silly, including Godolphin's DIABOLICAL, who fared very poorly.
IEAH STABLE et al owns Benny (by Lucky Lionel-Comet Cat, Birdonthewire), a Florida bred. And the colt's trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr. has stayed home to watch IEAH's BIG BROWN in Florida.
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UPDATE: 10:19 A.M
. HONOUR DEVIL (Honour and Glory-Diamond Fitz-arg) crushed the field in the UAE DERBY and that race has been won every year by either MIKE DE KOCK or Saeed Bin Suroor.
De Kock was 1-2 in this year's race and had predicted that Honour Devil would do the better of the 2.
It was a long way to go for MASSIVE DRAMA for Dale Romans, who was simply annihilated in a pace duel with a Japanese horse who was hard sent from the gate and the pair fried each other.
Honour Devil is 4 for 5 in his life and a head away from being unbeaten.

UPDATE 10:04 A.M. - Those watching DUBAI on HPI TV getting a bit restless as channel has not been showing the feed from Dubai as it normally does. Currently a feature on Santa Anita is being shown and a replay of last year's UAE Derby..
and it's 8 minutes to POST!!!

UPDATE - 9:44 A.M.

Florida bred DIAMOND STRIPES, the beautiful grey horse who has been outworked by BIG BROWN (see Florida Derby) fought back on the rail to win the GODOLPHIN MILE this morning on DUBAI WORLD CUP night.
The Notebook-Romantic Summer, On to Glory gelding is a 5yo who has won 6 of 12 races now and about $1.4 million.
He is owned by Four Roses Thoroughbreds and trained by Rick Dutrow Jr.
Oh yes, Dutrow stayed in Florida to be with BIG BROWN (read more below)

Today's news...all racing, all time, every hour, almost up until EARTH HOUR (8-9 p.m., where will you be?)

I will blog off and on all this morning during the DUBAI on the action etc...and then we can get ready for the FLORIDA DERBY, featuring Queen's Plate favourite COOL GATOR.

Everyone seems to be grumbling about the Ontario-bred bonus for races at Woodbine and Fort Erie - money that has been taken away from the purse and will be now given to any Ontario-bred that has NOT been we can read about the CTHS TIP program for breeders' (below)

Okay, I got a ton of responses for the TRIVIA QUESTION...thanks for that and a few of you were right ..the answer you will find below...and reader's guesses are under yesterday's post..

BOY OH BOY, WE WANT A STAR and how about Smart Strike?

That's what a lot of racing fans and folks are thinking today, a few hours before CURLIN heads to the post for the DUBAI WORLD CUP. A win and the son of Canadian-bred sire SMART STRIKE would get ever closer to being the richest horse ever and surely considered one of the greats of the last half-century.
The year 2008 has not been a great one for one of the world's most influential breeding operations, SAM-SON FARMS, started by Ernie Samuel some 40 years ago.
Both Tammy Samuel Balaz and her mother Elizabeth Samuel died this year, both after long illnesses but it was a shock that Tammy passed away at such a young age.
So as we wonder and hope that SAM-SON will continue with the legacy that has brought international and Canadian racing DANCE SMARTLY, SKY CLASSIC and so many others we can watch CURLIN, a son of SMART STRIKE (brother of Dance Smartly).

CURLIN sets sail at 1:30, the DUBAI card starts on HPI TV in an hour.


Okay, so we know that BIG BROWN is a big monster, a heroic winner in his first start of the year but also a guy who wears 2 patches on his front feet for quarter cracks.
He's super, no doubt, but this year, 2008, has been a model for why we don't bet on favourites. I mean, who would have thought WAR PASS would have been last at Tampa.
So, for the Big Brown-ies out there, maybe there is a star coming, that would be cool.
But from post 12, at 9 furlongs and likely 2 to 1 or less, no thanks.

There are some other monsters in the race from my standpoint so let's pick..
HEY BYRN, 2 for 2 this year by Put It Back-Restraining Order by Skip Trial.
A through and through Florida-bred, the Eddie Plesa trainee just won at 9 furlongs in big fashion. He could be any kind of colt and I see him running a 100 Beyer Figure.

I like SMOOTH AIR too but the distance could be tough, he is simply not bred to be more than a one-mile specialist.

And of course ELYSIUM FIELDS (El Prado-Dreams) has been freshened and prepared to the minute by Barclay Tagg and he is the horse to beat.

In other GULFSTREAM STAKES...Canadian bred SUGAR SWIRL is going to be heavily favoured in the Shirkey Jones, a race that was washed away last weekend when the races were cancelled. The Touch Gold mare currently sits on top of the hot Canadian-bred list on THOROUGHBLOG.

In the BONNIE MISS, the El Corredor filly BACKSEAT RHYTHM looks solid as the barn has a stablemate entered that figures to ensure a fast pace for this strtech running, Grade 1 placed gal.

In Gulfstream's first race, the BEAR STABLES will start BEAR DEN, by Forest Camp in an ALLOWANCE race first time out. He is a Florida-bred who cost $165,000 at auction.

Later, KAPAZUNDER, a Canadian-bred who should have won his last race, is back in action in an allowance race for Stronach Stables. He's a promising type but one with issues - he won his debut in 2006 at Woodbine and was vanned off after the race. He's by Giant's Causeway.

Here is a super review of the Gulfstream races from a top New York paper.. BIG BROWN FACES FIRST REAL TEST WWW.DAILYGAZETTE.COM (Schenectady) By Phil Janack (Contact) Gazette Reporter
Perhaps all anyone needs to know about the ability and potential of unbeaten but untested colt Big Brown is where his trainer will be today. Rather than the Middle East, where he has two accomplished horses entered on the Dubai World Cup undercard, Richard Dutrow Jr. is at Gulfstream Park to saddle Big Brown in the Grade I $1 million Florida Derby. “Big Brown’s got me, right now,” Dutrow said this week on a national teleconference. “I don’t want to be away from him. “I get so excited just talking about him. I haven’t had one like him to take my breath away like he does.” A contentious field of 12 was entered for the 11⁄8-mile Florida Derby, which includes stakes winners Smooth Air, Fierce Wind and Maj­estic Warrior, who won the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga Race Course last summer, as well as prospects such as Hey Byrn, Face the Cat and B B Frank, all coming off impressive allowance wins. Despite his inexperience and his post, Big Brown was made the 3-1 program favorite. The race will be televised live as part of an hour-long broadcast on ESPN2 from 5-6 p.m. that will also include same-day tape from Dubai, where reigning Horse of the Year Curlin goes after the $6 million World Cup. “It wouldn’t matter who’s in this race. We have a lot of confidene in this horse,” Dutrow said. “He’s got to pass the test, which is fine. We’re ready to take that gamble. “Right now, we’re happy with what we’re doing. We’re not looking at the competition. We’re looking for our horse to run his race. We’re under the impression that if he does that, he’s the one to beat.” Big Brown broke his maiden last summer on closing day at Saratoga, going gate to wire to win by 111⁄4 lengths for previous trainer Pat Reynolds, running 11⁄16 miles in 1:401⁄5 on the Mellon Turf Course. One of Dutrow’s main clients, IEAH Stables, purchased a majority interest in the Boundary colt from Paul Pompa Jr. for a reported $2 million following that debut victory. Quarter cracks in each of his front feet cost Big Brown 45 days apiece and kept him on the shelf until this month. “The most amazing thing is that for the whole month of January, this horse never went to the track,” Dutrow said. “He walked every day twice a day, then we started putting a rider on him around the shedrow. Eventually, we jogged him and galloped him, but I put him in the race, thinking I had a short horse. “Finally, I got him ready to run and I called the racing secretary and asked him if he had a mile and an eighth ‘a other than,’ turf or dirt. We were ready to go. Fortunately, it all worked out.” Big Brown returned to racing March 5, in an off-the-turf allowance at Gulfstream that went from 11⁄16 miles to a mile with the surface switch. Under Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux, Big Brown strolled to a 123⁄4-length win in 1:353⁄5. “At the quarter pole there, he just took my breath away, considering everything we had to go through with him,” Dutrow said. “I’m glad they brought it off the turf because maybe things would have been different. Just how well the horse ran and the way he did it, it got us thinking, ‘Let’s strike now.’ We’re hoping we made the right move.” The foot problems, distance and 24-day turnaround are all concerns for Dutrow, trainer of 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam who got his first inkling of Big Brown’s ability when he outworked Grade II-winning stablemate Diamond Stripes on the dirt between quarter cracks. “We breezed him one morning at Palm Meadows in company with Diamond Stripes, and he just had Diamond Stripes the whole way, and I just loved it,” Dutrow said. “It was beautiful because I know Diamond Stripes was playing his game. It was fun to watch. “We feel extremely strong about our feelings heading toward this race, as we should. He’s got to pass a whole lot of tests, but we feel very confident with our chances going into the race.”

HERE'S A TIP...BREEDERS' AWARDS TIP Worth $9.6 Million in Awards, Bonuses and Purses

Rexdale, ON - March 28, 2008 - The CTHS (Ontario Division) unveiled the 2008 Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP), following approval of the Ontario Racing Commission yesterday. Valued at $9.6 million, the TIP includes increases in Breeders Award distributions, Overnight Stakes races and the introduction of a new OSS Stakes Award program.

Highlights of this year's TIP include a $3.18 million Breeders Awards program, representing a 7.8% increase from last year; an increase in the annual Breeders Awards cap to $85,000 for each eligible breeder; and the offering of eight Overnight Stakes for Registered Ontario-Breds at Woodbine Racetrack, which are valued at $95,000 each, up from the five offered last year.

New for 2008 is the introduction of an OSS Awards Program totaling $120,000. This program will be distributing awards to the breeders of our top OSS horses racing in Ontario.

"We're very pleased with this year's Thoroughbred Improvement Program, where we are continuing with the trend to further support our Registered Ontario-Breds with more incentives, and at the same time, keep our purse allocations on a consistently, competitive basis," said Julie Coulter, General Manager of the Ontario CTHS. "We're especially excited about the new Ontario Sire Stakes Awards Program, which will no doubt further support the racing excellence and marketability of our Ontario-sired foals."

Developed annually by the CTHS, the TIP is an award and incentive program directed toward the betterment of breeding and racing of Thoroughbreds in Ontario. For further information, please contact the CTHS office at 416-675-3602 or visit

The Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (Ontario Division) is a non-profit organization representing breeders within Ontario by promoting Canadian-Bred/Ontario-Foaled Thoroughbreds, both nationally and around the world.

California sire MOMENTUM is off to a fast start at stud as the son of Nureyev sired a 2yo winner at Santa Anita yesterday. Aromatica raced 2 furlongs in :21.00.
The FRESHMAN SIRE CONTEST link will be up soon on my site.

Ontario-bred Daily Double at the Mountain

(Forest Wildcat-Light Show, Pleasant Colony) won for the 2nd time this year yesterday at Tampa Bay Downs for $5,000 claiming. The 5-year-old gelding has had a big winter in Florida for owner/trainer Shane Learn and Kate Schaffenrath.

BELLE OF ASCOT (Ascot Knight-Marina Bella, Bold Executive) won for $5,000 claiming at Mountaineer last night. She was bred by Jennifer Leuty in Ontario.

UNBRIDLED WISDOM, bred by Eugene Melnyk, won the 2nd race for $5,000. The 4yo gelding by Unbridled Time was owned by the estate of Dale Baird but was claimed by Charles Darris.


Okay, the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED question (first thoroughbred to appear on the cover) was SWAPS in 1955. There were a couple of generic racing photos on the cover the magazine before that.
The Sports Illustrated VAULT is a new website and database that is very cool...

check it out..

FORT ERIE PREVIEW BY T.J. GOERTZ - Woodbine's Elissa Blowe discusses track


Posted By T.J. Goertz

The horses are up and running at the Fort Erie Racetrack.

Horses, trainers and even some jockeys were arriving in town earlier this week as the track opened its stable areas on Sunday morning.

As soon as the weather allows, thoroughbreds will be running on the main track.

On Wednesday, The Times headed down to the sand ring on Thompson Road to check out the action.

Trainer Paula Loescher, an owner of five horses, was watching as jockeys Eldridge Lindsay and Pierre Creat rode around the muddy sand ring on horses P.J.'s Chocolate Swirl and Can't Be Pete.

She said until Fort Erie's racing season opens on May 3, the trainers and jockeys would be "playing" on the sand ring.

"We're just getting ready for the races," Loescher said.

She had just arrived in Fort Erie from Woodbine, where she had already been for six weeks. Horses like Can't Be Pete will have to be shipped back to Toronto for a few races, as Woodbine opens in April, she said.

After some trepidation on whether the local track would be open this year, Loescher said she is very excited to get things going.

"I like Fort Erie. For small trainers like me, with the horses that are a little cheaper, we wouldn't have a chance at Woodbine. This gives the smaller guy a chance to get into the racing. It's more affordable and gives everyone a chance to enjoy it," the six-year veteran said.

Elissa Blowe is back in Fort Erie as a racing analyst after a year working full-time at Woodbine. She said horses that had been racing and training in the United States and at Woodbine should be coming back over the next few weeks, to gear up for the 2008 season. A lot of trainers take their horses down south to West Virginia, Florida and Kentucky to race during the winter.

"We should see them arriving in loads over the next few weeks. If you look at what we have back there today and what we'll have two weeks from now, it'll be a huge increase," Blowe said.

Fort Erie can house 1,100 horses, and Blowe said it's looking like the stables will be full this year.

"I'm excited about this season. This is going to be hopefully a big year...I think this is a great track. It's a super surface. It's a great atmosphere to train a horse in because it's quiet. It's not like being in the city," she said.

It would be great if the track's atmosphere could be rejuvenated to where it was 30 years ago, she said.

"If you talk to people who were stabled here and raced here 30 years ago, all they talked about is the wonderful time they had in Fort Erie...It's a family racetrack. It's a small community, we all cheer for one another and we're all here for the same reason," Blowe said, adding she hopes the racetrack will attract more young people and families this year.

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  • At 10:53 AM, Blogger ironmike said…

    The first time we saw a horse (live) for the Godolphin Mile was when they were behind the gate ... just minutes before they raced.

    WHY ... why does HPItv provide this awful coverage on big race days.

    HPItv needs to improve their coverage

    Target Louisville is done on Thursday ... so if its a taped feature it could be shown anytime this weekend. Why would HPI pick the middle of their Dubai coverage to show a 24 minute piece of taped footage.


  • At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    HPITV irks me, it has so much potential. I just wish I knew who was calling the shots there because they routinely make poor decisions.

  • At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I also agree on the Target Louisville comment. It had old information in it and by the time they had shown it the UAE Derby had already been run (Massive Drama finishing last). Seirge had already talked about the Fla Derby, just a poor call.

  • At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Two days later and people are still crying.

    GET OVER IT!!!

    HPITV was the ONLY place to watch any coverage from Dubai. No other T.V. station on the planet would touch this event so be happy you atleast got to see it...

    Jen, wher is my comment from yesterday? You know...Free Speech and all that....


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