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Sunday, April 13, 2008


I borrowed this photo from KEENELAND, the website, and it is by Z for the Keeneland Association. It is MONBA edging COWBOY CAL and Canadian owned KENTUCKY BEAR (in the orange) in the Blue Grass Stakes.


STUCK IN TRAFFIC proved he is every bit as game as he is quick when he turned back a strong bid from NOT BOURBON to win the $150,0000 Achievement Stakes at 6 furlongs yesterday at Woodbine.
The Ontario bred Kiridashi-Deadlock Regal Classic colt, owned by MAD Racing and Martha Gonzalez skippd to the lead as the 4 to 5 favourite as expected.
He went fast over the very,very fast Polytrack surface (rain fell all day, seemed to make the track quicker as the day went on) - 21 4/5, 44, 55 4/5 and then NOT BOURBON (Not Impossible) upped his chasing bid and came to the butt of Traffic.
It looked as if Not Bourbon would go by but Stuck in Traffic refused to give up.
Both colts were getting tired and Not Bourbon started to drift and finally gave in.
The final time of 1:08.62 was just 6/100 off the track record.

Certainly, the way Stuck in Traffic ran, it would be hard to envision him as a Queen's Plate contender. The situation with this colt is similar to that of Wholelottabourbon, another top 2yo from the MAD group that stayed in sprints.

"I don't know if we could use today as a yardstick for the future, but I was really pleased with the way he ran," said Gonzalez, of the Ontario-bred, who won three of seven starts in 2007 and finished third in Sovereign Award voting for Canada's champion two-year-old male honours. "Today is just one step up that ladder. I was impressed with his grittiness. He had every reason to give in, but he didn't."

Clark, who notched his sixth Achievement victory, was equally pleased with the effort from Stuck in Traffic.

"I just let him fall out of there and two jumps out, he said, 'Let's go.' You don't think you're going that fast. He fought back really hard today. He found another gear."

Not Bourbon, who also may be hindered by the distance of the Plate, showed a good chasing and rallying

Stakes races may be on the horizon for PAYDAY PERIL, owned by Harlequin Ranches. The Kentucky bred colt by Officer won a 7 furlong allowance race off a 10 month layoff in race 9 in 1: 21 4/5 under a virtual hand-ride.

Can it be this easy?
The world's leading trainer STEVE ASMUSSEN won with his first starter at Woodbine in 2008 as PIANO TUNNER (why did everyone call this horse Piano Tuner?) inhaled a ridiculously fast pace and won the 3rd race yesterday at Woodbine.
Favoured, and rightly so, the race set up so perfectly for the Millenium Farms-owned Sefapiano mare.
CHICAGO BREEZE, a 2 furlong specialist, won her first 2 races of 2007 at 5 furlngs but went 21 2/5 out of the gate yesterday under Rod Dacosta and predictably plummeted.
Grain of Truth, a winter raced contender, blew the turn and no one else was good enough.
Darren Fleming, ASSISTANT to Asmussen spoke after the race:
"We claimed her not far back, she had liked Polytrack before, It's nice to get started off this way. We were a little worried about (the distance) but the race set up perfectly."

Two hotshot first-time starters won yesterday:
SINGING SENSATION, owned by Woodford Racing and trained by Mark Casse, was very professional in her maiden allowance win under Simon Husbands, a new jock for the Casse stable (while brother Patrick is not available). The Coronado's Quest filly went in 57 3/5 for 5 furlongs.

In race 5, DARING ATTRACTION won in the pouring rain in his debut for Tony Bowling and trainer Danny Vella. The Bernstein colt (that sire had a winner on Friday too) battle don the pace all the way (21 3/5) and then edged clear to win in 57 flat and earn an 81 Beyer Figure.
The Kentucky bred was entered 6 SALES from weanling through 2yo, went through 3 of them and was consigned to 3 of them by Bowling.

DANCING DORIS, bred by John Carey, won her maiden in race 7 for Ontario-sired gals. The One Way Love-Parisian Profit gal is owned by Carey's wife Doris. It was a One Way Love exactor as longshot SERENA'S ROSE, owned by Heste Sport, was 2nd.
Trainer LAURIE SILVERA is doing well with his runners. After Dancing Doris, he sent out BLUSHING VICAR to win the last race for Pierre Allard. The Vicar gelding won his maiden for $16,000 under Justin Stein.

Speaking of JUSTIN STEIN, that rider was part of a backstretch feature on SUN TV yesterday, touted STAR OPERATOR as a mount of his to watch.
She won the 4th race yesterday for Bob Pastor and trainer Sammy DiPasquale and paid $21. The allowance event was worth $78,400. Star Operator is a Florida bred by Quaker Ridge.

And trainer SCOTT FAIRLIE grabbed his first win of the meeting with BOLD CORREDOR (El Corredor) who raced at Penn National last time out. The Hill 'n' Dale Ontario bred is owned by Ace Stable and he won for $19,000 claiming with a big surge to get past a stubborn Night Leader in deep stretch.


The highly anticipated match up between Horse of the Years SEALY HILL and ARRAVALE didn't work out.
In the Jenny Wiley yesterday, Sealy Hill was running a big race from the along the inside on the 'off' turf, made a bid for the lead off the turn but, as is her style, got fussy with horses to her outside and she stopped.
Arravale finished last.
Trainer Mark Casse said Sealy Hill came out of the race fine.

Eugene Melnyk's Canadian-bred 4yo colt MARCHFIELD, the Breeders' Stakes winner, was a solid 5th in a 1 3/16 mile turf allowance at Keeneland today.
The A.P. Indy colt was several lengths off a very slow pace in his first race of the year, was blocked for half the turn and halfway through the stretch and he finished mildly as th elate pace was quickening smartly.

Queen's Plate contender PALMERS was 7th in an allowance race at Keenland for the Melnyk/Casse team. The colt was far off the very slow pace and was beaten 6 lengths.


Queen's Plate eligible PEWTER won a maiden race at Gulfstream yesterday with a 93 Beyer Figure in his 3rd career start. A $270,000 yearling purchase the Silver Deputy- Penny Perfect, by Alydeed. won by 6 lengths on the pace for owner William Clifton and trainer James Bond.

Ontario bred ARE YOU SERIOUS (You and I -Iron feather, Crafty Prospector) won an allowance race at Charles Town yesterday. Formerly raced at Woodbine by Frannk DiGiulo and trainer Bob Tiller,the gelding is co-owned and trained by Todd Beattie. He won for the 10th time in 32 starts in the slop yesterday.

At Tampa, AWESOME ATTITUDE ( 5yo by Awesome Again —Mad ‘bout You, by
Skip Trial) won a 5 furlong turf allowance race for his 7th win in 18 starts. He was bred by Adena Springs in Ontario.

At Stampede Park, Alberta's HORSE OF THE YEAR, FOOTPRINT returned to racing action with a win in allowance race yesterday at 6 furlongs. The Gold Case gelding won the Alberta Derby last year.

Blue Grass Beyer Figure - 92

What was more shocking? MONBA'S win over stablemate COWBOY CAL in the Blue Grass Stakes yesterday or PYRO'S dull showing?
MONBA? Okay, so he has a beautiful pedigree cross (Maria's Mon out of an Easy Goer mare) but he was 12th beaten 39 lengths last time, behind Cool Coal Man in Florida.
Maybe the switch to Polytrack was the key, he had won his maiden at Keeneland.
Cowboy Cal,a Giant's Causeway colt, has had better form - he has been racing on the grass since his debut at Saratoga on dirt.
Meanwhile, Danny Dion's KENTUCKY BEAR (Mr. Greeley) ran as well as trainer Reade Baker predicted, benefitting from a lovely trip to be 3rd while racing on the wrong and very greenly through the stretch.

MINER'S CLAIM, according to trainer Mark Casse, reportedly raced the entire event without a front shoe. The colt made a lovely move up the inside from the quarter-mile pole to upper strtech before flattening out.
The slow, slow early pace meant the top few quickened while the stretch runners could not gain ground.

What do you take away from this race as far as picking your Derby horse?

Likely nothing - the Derby is on the dirt and Keeneland's Poly is about as far away from dirt as you can get.

Here's a good review of the race from the Herald-Leader at

Race favorite flames out
Pyro humbled; Derby field wide open By John Clay HERALD-LEADER SPORTS COLUMNIST

From last October's Breeders' Cup Juvenile through the middle of March, the Kentucky Derby trail seemed narrowed to a two-horse path. There was War Pass, winner of the Juvenile and subsequent 2-year-old champion. And there was Pyro, second in the Juvenile, back-to-back winner of the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby. Then on March 15, War Pass came up dead last in the Tampa Bay Derby.
Then Saturday, even-money favorite Pyro all but walked home 10th out of 12 horses in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.

It's now official.

The 137th running of the Kentucky Derby is anybody's race.

Todd Pletcher jumped back into the picture Saturday, saddling the surprising Monba and Cowboy Cal, who ran 1-2 in the Blue Grass in front of 26,000 at Keeneland to make Pletcher the first trainer since George Poole in 1971 to place first and second in the important Derby prep.
Two weeks ago, the wonderfully named but lightly raced Big Brown made a huge impression by running off to a 5-length victory in the Florida Derby. Last Saturday, West Coast wonder Colonel John rallied for a half-length victory in the Santa Anita Derby. Those two figure to be near the top of the odds board come May 3. After that, however, it's anybody's guess.
Just as it was anybody's guess why Pyro ran so poorly Saturday.

"You could just tell going into the first turn that he wasn't getting over the ground like he normally does," said Scott Blasi, assistant trainer to Steve Asmussen, who was at Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby.

"At no point in the race did I think he looked comfortable," Asmussen told the Keeneland public relations department. "We'll just train him up (to the Derby) accordingly. Hopefully, we can just keep moving forward from here."

Still, wasn't Saturday a surprise?
"Nothing surprises me on Polytrack," said Blasi. "It's just some horses run on it, and some don't. That being said, we chose to bring all of our horses here to prep for the Breeders' Cup and they all ran very well. Not to mention we've had some outstanding meets at Churchill Downs with our horses running and training on Poly." Polytrack figures to be the X-factor these next three weeks. For instance, Colonel John has never raced on dirt. All six of his career starts, including his four wins, came on synthetic surfaces in California. Might the Colonel be demoted once he hits the hard dirt off Central Avenue? Cool Coal Man, trained by Nick Zito, won the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream last time out, was second choice in the betting Saturday behind Pyro, was in position at the head of the stretch and then faded badly to finish ninth. Perhaps, like Pyro, he didn't warm to the Poly.
Monba finished 12th in the Fountain of Youth on the dirt at Gulfstream on Feb. 24. So perhaps he liked the Poly much better. And Cowboy Cal had already proven to be a good turf horse, winning three on the grass before his strong second Saturday on a surface many think favors turf-runners.

Others deserve consideration. Tale of Ekati won the Wood Memorial, but in the slowest time by a Wood winner since 1952. Recapturetheglory won the Illinois Derby in wire-to-wire fashion last weekend, but as a 15-1 shot. Gayego won Saturday's Arkansas Derby, but against a field considered to be a little shy of weak.

So thanks to his fantastic Florida Derby showing, and that wonderful name, Big Brown should be the betting favorite come the first Saturday in May, even though Regret in 1915 was the last unbeaten 3-year-old to win the Derby.

But keep an eye out for rebounds.

After all, War Pass did rebound from his Tampa Bay disaster to finish second in the Wood.
And, back on dirt, who knows, Pyro could rebound May 3. Said Blasi, "If he wins the Derby three weeks from now, nobody will care." Right now, however, everybody cares, because the Derby is anybody's race. (Reach John Clay at (859) 231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3226, or Read his blog at

The pace was faster in this race (the track at Oaklawn is also faster) and GAYEGO, who has actually posted a Beyer Figure in the Triple Digits before, was a smart winner for Cubanacan Stable. A $32,000 Gilded Time colt, he is stretching out in distance well.

72ND ARKANSAS DERBY : Derby dreamers BY ROBERT YATES Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2008
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HOT SPRINGS — Hasta la vista, Hot Springs. Hola, Louisville.

Favored Gayego added a little spice to the Kentucky Derby picture after scoring a threequarter length victory over Z Fortune in the $ 1 million Grade II Arkansas Derby on sunny, windy Saturday afternoon at Oaklawn Park. A season-high crowd of 56, 326 watched Gayego — in his first start outside California — make a successful transition from a synthetic surface to dirt, which he will encounter next in the Kentucky Derby on May 3 at Churchill Downs. For owners Carlos Juelle and Jose Prieto, who immigrated from Cuba more than 20 years ago, Gayego represents the American dream. “Right now, we only have one horse,” said Juelle, an accountant from Rolling Hills, Calif. “All the others horses have broken down.” But Gayego, whose name derives from the natives of Galicia, a region in northern Spain, is all the Cubanacan Stables needs. Gayego, the 2-1 favorite, paid $ 6. 40, $ 4. 40 and $ 3. 80. Z Fortune paid $ 7. 40 and $ 6. Tres Borrachos, who finished another 4 lengths farther back in third, paid $ 14. 80. Gayego became the fifth consecutive betting favorite to win the Arkansas Derby, following Smarty Jones (2004 ), Afleet Alex (2005 ), Lawyer Ron (2006 ) and Curlin last year. All were later voted champions, and, in the case of Curlin, he was the 2007 Horse of the Year. Gayego completed a monstrous Oaklawn trifecta for Smith, who a week earlier won the $ 500, 000 Grade I Apple Blossom Handicap (aboard Zenyatta ) and $ 500, 000 Grade II Oaklawn Handicap (aboard Tiago ). “It just helps to ride talented horses,” Smith said. “Ride for the right people and ride talented horses, that’s what helps.” Other than slipping at the start, which Smith said he believes cost Gayego about a length, the Arkansas Derby unfolded exactly the way he envisioned. “Almost to a tee,” he said. Breaking from post 4, Gayego stalked Tres Borrachos on the outside through fractions of: 22. 71,: 46. 61 and 1: 11. 09 for three-quarters of a mile. Finally, Gayego stuck his head in front with about 3 furlongs remaining and, under left-handed urging, turned back a challenge from Z Fortune on the outside in midstretch. “Once we caught the leader, I stayed busy on him to make sure he stayed focused,” Smith said. “Once that horse got to his hip, he pretty much stayed doing what he was supposed to do and that’s to stay in front.” Rebounding from a dismal performance in the $ 300, 000 Grade II Rebel Stakes on March 15, Z Fortune likely punched his Kentucky Derby ticket with a strong runner-up showing.
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  • At 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It was actually Sealy Hill that finished dead-last, not Arravale (she was 2nd last and was moving forward while Sealy Hill was moving backwards).

    And how good was that info. from both Justin Stein and Bob Tiller in that feature yesterday on Sun TV? Not only was I highly entertained (I thought it was really fun) but Stein and Tiller helped me hit the triactor! (A tri I never would've had had I not heard that comment from Stein).

    And what's going on with horse racing on t.v. lately? I saw that The Score aired a highlight pack of what happened at Woodbine yesterday - it was right amongst their golf and soccer highlights. Then I saw something the other day on the same network that was really quick and was trying to show a great big payout that happened at Woodbine (I can't remember what it was called). Could it be that The Score is starting to see that a product they carry is actually worth-while enough of a sport to include as part of their "regular sports recaps"? It's about time!

  • At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Photos from Blue Grass Stakes weekend at Keeneland:

  • At 10:15 PM, Blogger Viva Pataca said…

    Hi Jen,

    I was at the track today. I notice they are building a new standardbred paddock at the first turn area. From the 2nd level grandstand, the view to the 7 furlongs starting gate is now completely blocked (I haven't yet checked the view from higher level though). I wondered if WEG has considered this initially when they planned the site?

    So isn't this why when they show the start of the 7 furlongs race from TV in the last couple of days, there is a camera shot from near the 6f post area?

  • At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "It was actually Sealy Hill that finished dead-last, not Arravale (she was 2nd last and was moving forward while Sealy Hill was moving backwards)."

    Geez somebody was really happy that Sealy Hill didn't run to expectations on Saturday. Enjoy it while you can, its painfully obvious that the horse can't be inside of other horses and still be effective. Her connections won't allow it to happen again, which's means that will be the last time she is "moving backwards."


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