Barbaro Updates: 887
Posted June 30, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5243: Off to OLEX, and I'll be tweeting updates.
And Salon wrote about horse slaughter. I was interviewed and am quoted: Horses to the slaughter.
Update 5242: Good news: Drumroll Please: Dam of Barbaro is Carrying a Filly! excerpt:
"Mr. and Mrs. Jackson are delighted that she continues to be in foal and it is a prospective full sister to Barbaro," Bell said.
Update 5241: A very pleasant morning this morning at Woodbine. I had six sets. All galloped, and all galloped very nicely. Luis, our jockey, was in to work a few horses. I went up to the track to watch the last one work, and it looked like she worked nicely.
During break I snapped a couple more pictures, in the track kitchen, for the Woodbine Characters series:
Don Parente, Eurico Rosa DaSilva's agent. Don Parente, who I don't know personally, is agent for one of the leading riders here, Eurico Rose DaSilva. Eurico recently won the Queen's Plate aboard Eye of the Leopard, so this team is obviously doing very well. Eurico rode one horse for us last year, I think to a second place finish. A very charismatic jockey. Don also used to be agent for Chantal Sutherland.
Joe Walls, trainer. Joe Walls, a trainer at Woodbine, is also father to Eclipse Award winning jockey Mickey Walls. Joe always has a good story to tell, and is someone I have been fortunate to get to know a little during my time at Woodbine. He recently had a bit of a Cancer scare, but told me this morning that all is well.
Update 5240: Here is the ABR Facebook Group e-mail for this week: Tweet this: OLEX, Chantal Sutherland, Rachel Alexandra, Paragallo, Chad Beckon, Greg De Gannes, Iavorone, Dutrow, Paragallo, Rene Douglas, Kelly Carlson, Olredlgetcha, Rahy's Attorney, Sterwins, Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, Woodbine, Tour of the Cat, Syphon City, Bison City, Frazee's Folly, Woodbine Characters.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:48 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 886
Posted June 29, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5239: Barbaro's 2yo brother Lentenor worked a half mile today: Lentenor Works Again at Fair HIll.
Update 5238: Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird worked this morning at Churchill Downs. From John Asher:
KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER MINE THAT BIRD BREEZES HALF-MILE IN :51 IN FIRST WORK SINCE BELMONT STAKES
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (June 29, 2009) - Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) winner Mine That Bird worked a half-mile in :51 over a fast track Monday morning at Churchill Downs in his first serious training move since a third-place finish to Summer Bird in the Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 6
Jockey Calvin Borel was aboard for the first in a series of five breezes leading to a scheduled run in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (Grade II) on Aug. 1 at Mountaineer.
Working well off the rail in the four path, Mine That Bird clicked off fractions of :12.80, :25.20, :38.20 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:04.40. The half-mile time was the 30th fastest of 42 at the distance.
Coming off the track, Borel gave a big thumbs up to trainer Chip Woolley.
"He came off the track bouncing just like he was before the Derby," Borel said. "He's ready. He doesn't need much. He's playful and happy and back to right where he was before the Derby."
Woolley thought the work would be a little faster.
"I thought he'd go in :49 or :50 because he's a little fresh, the freshest he's ever been," Woolley said. "I thought he'd be in the bridle a little more, but he looked good and came back cool as a cucumber. He was a little more into the bridle at Belmont and got a little shook up. Believe me, I like it a lot better this way."
Owned by Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine, Mine That Bird will walk Tuesday and return to the track Wednesday with another half-mile work scheduled for next Monday, July 6.
"His work next week will be sharper and then we will back off a bit in the next one," Woolley said of the schedule that calls for a five-furlong work on July 13.
Woolley is contemplating a change in his travel schedule to Mountaineer in Chester, W.Va. Originally, the trainer wanted to have two works over the track there, and it could still happen.
"I may ship up later and have just one breeze there," Woolley said. "The Bird doesn't need to take his racetrack with him. He has run on that fast track at Sunland and the deep, sandy track at Belmont. He will still have a work on the 20th, the only question is where."
After the West Virginia Derby, Woolley has targeted the $1 million Shadwell Travers Stakes (Grade I) at Saratoga on Aug. 29 where Mine That Bird possibly could meet up with Kentucky Oaks (GI) and Preakness (Grade I) winner Rachel Alexandra, the outstanding 3-year-old filly who won last Saturday's Grade I Mother Goose by a record 19 1/4 lengths in stakes-record time at Belmont Park. Mine That Bird fell a length short of catching Rachel Alexandra in the May 16 Preakness.
"If it happens, it would be a good thing for racing and that would be a great spot to do it," Woolley said. "Let's just see where things fall."
Update 5237: The ABR Top Five list of horses running in North America did not change this week. Two of the horses, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, ran. And ran impressively to reinforce their positions at the top of racing. Here is the list (alpha order): Einstein, Macho Again, Mine That Bird, Rachel Alexandra, and Zenyatta.
Update 5236: A quiet morning this morning at Woodbine, with only five to gallop. And all galloped nicely. One went to the gate for some gate schooling. Luis was in again to breeze three horses for us. I think they went well.
And continuing the Woodbine Characters series:
Nancy Sullivan, Roger Attfield's assistant. Nancy Sullivan, Roger Attfield's assistant, always seems in good form in the mornings on the rail supervising training hours. Nancy has quite a background, I believe she was a lawyer at one stage. Nancy has a farm where she has fostered for Long Run.
Anthony Reid, David Cotey groom. Anthony Reid (Tony) is in our barn, grooming for David Cotey. Always very pleasant, Tony loves to talk about the good trainers back in the UK. Sir Michael Stoute being one of them.
Shawn Kennedy, racetrack chaplain & exercise rider. Shawn Kennedy is the racetrack chaplain for Ontario (Chaplain Shawn, Ontario). Shawn spends most of his week here at Woodbine, and on Mondays goes down to Fort Erie. Shawn also runs the Jake Howard Center, which conveniently includes wireless internet access. I am in "The Jake" a lot. Shawn is also a freelance exercise rider, currently galloping horses from Stu Simon.
Update 5235: A fun afternoon yesterday spent at the races. It was the second leg of the Triple Tiara at Woodbine and the race was won by Dance for Us and Chantal Sutherland. They nosed out Emma Wilson aboard Flashy Got Even: Dance for Us earns first stakes win in Bison City.
And over in Ireland, Fame and Glory, with the absense of English Derby winner Sea The Stars, won the Irish Derby by five lengths: Fame and Glory Gives O'Brien 7th Irish Derby.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:48 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 885
Posted June 26, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5234: From NYRA:
"RACHEL" TAKES UP SUMMER RESIDENCE IN SARATOGA SPRINGS
ELMONT, N.Y. - Scarcely 12 hours after her record-setting victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose at Belmont Park, Rachel Alexandra stepped onto a van that carried her up the Northway to Saratoga Race Course, which will be the base for her summer campaign.
"She ran a big race," said trainer Steve Asmussen of the three-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, who set a stakes record of 1:46.33 for the nine furlongs, along with establishing the largest margin of victory (191/4 lengths) in the 53-year history of the race. "I think (jockey) Calvin (Borel) said it best - she's not normal."
Asmussen, still wearing one of the 10,000 pink "Rachel Alexandra" bracelets that were given away on Saturday, said he had watched the replay of the Mother Goose several times, and was still bowled over by the ease of her victory.
"The best way to describe it is that she's got an extremely high cruising speed," said Asmussen of the filly, co-owned by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stable and Harold McCormick. "But obviously, we've known that about her for a long time."
Rachel Alexandra, who extended her record to 9-2-0 from 12 starts with earnings of $1,798,354, arrived at Saratoga mid-morning and took up residence in Curlin's former stall in Asmussen's barn near the Oklahoma training track.
"She shipped great," said assistant trainer Scott Blasi, who accompanied Rachel Alexandra to Saratoga. "She's settled into Curlin's old stall, which is now her stall, right next to my office.
"She recovered very well," added Blasi. "She seemed strong yesterday and was starving when we fed her last night, and ate everything this morning, as well."
Several possibilities exist for Rachel Alexandra's next start, including the Grade 1, $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for three-year-old fillies at 11/4 miles at Belmont Park on July 25, the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy for three-year-olds at nine furlongs at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 1, and the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational, also for three-year-olds, at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2.
Following one of those, the scenario could next include the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 11/4 miles on Saturday, Aug. 22, the $1 million Shadwell Travers for three-year-olds going 11/4 miles on Saturday, Aug. 29 at Saratoga Race Course, or even the Grade 1, $400,000 Personal Ensign for fillies and mares, three-years-old and up, going 1 1/1/4 miles on Sunday, Aug. 30.
Asmussen declined to engage in any speculations.
"I'm well-versed in that with the Curlin-Big Brown thing last year," he said. "I'm just going to worry about her health and happiness, and then we'll sit down and decide what's best for her."
Update 5233: I had six to gallop this morning at Woodbine. And each galloped nicely. No gate schooling.. It was a little muggy early, and then it started to rain a little towards the end of the morning. We had a bunch of workers so Luis, our jock, was around working horses for us. I also caught up with jockey Slade Callaghan, and congratulated him on his terrific win aboard Rahy's Attorney yesterday: Rahy's Attorney Closes Case in King Edward.
And continuing our Woodbine Characters series:
Trainer Ian Black. Ian Black, originally from England, trains for Kinghaven Farms among other clients at Woodbine. He also trains Rahy's Attorney, who was an impressive winner of the King Edward VII Stakes here at Woodbine yesterday. I took this picture as we were leaving the track yesterday.
John Bell, Chantal Sutherland's agent. John Bell, also from England (he's a Newcastle United fan) is agent for jockey Chantal Sutherland.
Update 5232: Media reports from Rachel Alexandra's and Zenyatta's performances yesterday:
RACHEL ALEXANDRA, ZENYATTA DUST OVERMATCHED FOES
Undefeated Zenyatta Masters Another Vanity
'Rachel' Sets Stakes Record in Mother Goose
Rachel Alexandra dominant in Mother Goose
Zenyatta scores repeat win in Vanity
Update 5231: More pictures and video of Rachel Alexandra today on ABR Facebook Group.
Update 5230: Both Rachel Alexandra's and Zenyatta's races are on the ABR YouTube Group.
Update 5229: From NYRA:
MOTHER GOOSE QUOTES
Owner Jess Jackson, Rachel Alexandra (No. 3): "How about that!"
"I am a modest guy. I was hoping for maybe 10 lengths. She is a special filly, she is a champion, she is a lady,"
(on if we've seen the best of her) "We don't know where her bottom is. She has beauty combined with speed, so fast."
"I think she's the best 3-year-old right now. She just broke a track record and she wasn't even asked."
(on the Calvin Borel pairing with Rachel Alexandra) "The two of them are perfectly matched. Calvin has all the instincts, she expresses herself to him, he knows he doesn't have to lay down on her, and she just runs. She loves to run."
(on her next race) "I don't know. We're going to try to get up to Saratoga and see if we can find a race. We want to pick the spots for her. She tells us when to run
Trainer Steve Asmussen, Rachel Alexandra (No. 3): "We are very proud of Rachel Alexandra. Mr. (Jess) Jackson, Barbara (Banke) and Hal McCormick. What a great thrill for them. For them to step up and purchase a filly like this, and then to go ahead and campaign her is a thrill for them."
"To have a horse like her in your barn...I am really fortunate. She's a great athlete. She's just extremely endearing to you. She has a soft and kind look feel. When she walks over, she takes those great big strides. Everything about her She just excites you. You just want good things for her. Our job is to take care of her and defend her at all times."
(on the ride) "I can't say enough about Calvin Borel's ride. They took it right to her with 44 and change, the 1/9 shot and all the pressure in the world. He just let them go about their business and did what's best for her and he needs to keep doing that.
(on where she goes next) "She is going to Saratoga from here. We will train her there and that's where Scott (Blasi) and our stable move this time of year. Curlin did the exact same thing. It's gotten plenty warm back home (in Louisville) and we are very much looking forward to the cool mornings this time of year."
(on her next possible race) "The plans are for me to take to care of her. Just to have her in the best health possible and then sit down and try and decide what's best for her."
(on if she's the best horse he has even trained) "I am not saying that on the heels of Curlin. But I will say this, in the future, it would be a great match."
Jockey Calvin Borel, Rachel Alexandra (No. 3): "Steve (Asmussen) told me 'Ride your race. You know her as good as me and I think she's a kind of a grinder,' and I said 'Yes sir, that's what she is." I think she's just a wonderful animal, she grinds fast, you don't have to be in front, you know, you can take her back. She's a racehorse, this is a racehorse. Believe me, she's not normal, I'm telling you, she's unbelievable. I nudged (her) on the turn for home around the quarter pole but that was it. To make sure she'd get something out of it and do something for me. She set a new track record, believe me, she's not normal I'm telling you, she's unbelievable."
(on the early fractions) "I knew they were going fast early but around the 3/8th pole they were getting tired and I kind of squeezed her a little bit and she just went in there."
(on the crowd reaction) "It's unbelievable, they may love me but when you ride good horses it makes you that good. She's, I don't know - like a Secretariat or a Seattle Slew - whatever you want to call it, I've never been on one like that in my life.
Jockey John Velazquez, Malibu Prayer (No. 4): "Well, she broke on top and I just let her do her thing and the best horse won it."
(on Rachel Alexandra) "She's a champion that's for sure."
Jockey Javier Castellano, Flashing (No. 5): "She's a very talented filly and I am not to take anything away from the filly that won. I thought horse was better than she showed today and I didn't mean to go that fast early on. She will show up next time."
Update 5228: A fun afternoon at the races. We did not have any runners, although we did paddock school three in the second race. Watching Rahy's Attorney win the stake was terrific. Ian Black was pretty excited about it when I met him as we were leaving the races. It was also very cool to watch Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta both win their respective races.
Update 5227: Big bummer. Impressive first time out Stakes winner Olredlgetcha had to be euthanized on Tuesday. He beat us handily in the Victoria Stakes here: Debut stakes winner Olredlgetcha euthanized.
And continuing our Woodbine Characters series we have:
Sally Pierce, assistant trainer Malcolm Pierce. Sally Pierce is assistant trainer and wife of Malcolm Pierce. We share the same horse path to and from the racetrack and Sally always seems very friendly. This picture was taken in the track kitchen ahead of Sterwins race against Rahy's Attorney this afternoon!
Shana Bridges, exercise rider 4 Bob Tiller & pony girl. Shana Bridges keeps herself very busy at Woodbine, galloping in the mornings for Bob Tiller, and ponying horses for the races in the afternoons. We shared a couple of lunches last year. Always a smile.
Anita Bolton, Terry Jordan's assistant trainer. Anita Bolton is Terry Jordan's assistant and loves to work. Loves it. Anita is also a very cool person. We hang out a little from time to time, grabbing the odd lunch. Last year we went down to the big horse show in Toronto, the Royal. Very fun.
Update 5226: Two more additions to the Woodbine Characters series:
April LeBlanc, exercise rider for Malcolm Pierce. April LeBlanc gallops horses for Malcolm Pierce. April also galloped a few for us late in the meet last year and the beginning of the meet this year. April has been working at Woodbine for quite a few years. April was my "land lady" when I first arrived this year. I stayed with April until we (myself and Hank, our Assistant Trainer) found a place. April also runs Shadowy Hills Farm where she teaches riding lessons and sells x-racehorses she has retrained for new careers.
Robbie Martin, Assistant Trainer for Mike Keogh. Robbie Martin has been at Woodbine for about fifteen years. And for most of those years he has worked for trainer Mike Keogh. Robbie is originally from Scotland.
Update 5225: From NYRA:
RACHEL TO FACE TWO IN MOTHER GOOSE FOLLOWING SCRATCHES
ELMONT, N.Y. - The field for today's 53rd edition of the Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes was reduced to three Saturday morning with the scratches of Don't Forget Gil and Hopeful Image, leaving Preakness heroine Rachel Alexandra to face only Flashing and Malibu Prayer.
Alan Brodsky's Don't Forget Gil was scratched due to an elevated temperature, according to trainer Mark Hennig, while Hopeful Image had not recuperated sufficiently from a mild case of colic she suffered Wednesday evening, said trainer Gerald Procino.
"We did everything we could to keep her in the race, but yesterday, she spiked a temperature and we had no choice but to give her antibiotics," said Procino, who co-owns the filly with Linda Sullivan and Joseph McMahon. "She'll be fine, but the veterinarian advised that we scratch."
With three betting interests, there will be win betting only on the race, with no exacta or trifecta wagering. Multi-race wagering is not affected.
Update 5224: A gorgeous morning this morning at Woodbine. We had eight sets. All galloped nicely. One went to the gate for a little schooling. He was a little "on the muscle", but then relaxed nicely.
A couple of loose horses. Our jock came flying off another trainer's horse coming on to the track. Fortunately he landed on his feet and his horse was caught quickly. Another rider came off coming home and her horse then went off down the road spooking other horses, including mine. I think all was well.
And to continue our Woodbine Characters series (all can be viewed here: Woodbine Characters):
Dessy Luokanov, freelance exercise rider. Dessy Luokanov is from Sofia, Bulgaria. He has been at Woodbine for about 10 years. Dessy also has a background in other equestrian sports. I took this picture after I was finished this morning. I asked Dessy if he had time for the picture. He said yes, but had 20 more horses to get to on the farm!
Robert Belanger, hotwalker for Peter Beringer. "The Professor" is the name by which I know Robert Belanger. The professor hotwalked for us a little bit last year. He has twin sons who also work at Woodbine, galloping and ponying horses.
James Desmond, groom for Paul Attard. James Desmond is someone I don't know well but I remember last year when he had a winner he was so excited you had to be excited for him. James also has a Facebook page and regularly sends out Facebook friends recommendations.
Kerri Beauclaire, Tyler Pizarro's agent. Kerri Beauclaire is one of two female agents on the backside at Woodbine. Kerri is also Tyler Pizarro's sister. Tyler is Kerri's second jockey. She has also been an agent for Constant Montpellier.
Alyssa Carriere, groom for Andrew Smith. Alyssa Carriere seems to be a very nice person, I just don't know her. I see Alyssa regularly as she works in the barn next to us.
Update 5223: Two big horses racing today, Rachel Alexandra (Rachel Alexandra to make Belmont
debut in Mother Goose) and Zenyatta (Zenyatta to be tested in Vanity). Lets hope both continue to demonstrate their well being.
At Woodbine we have a rematch between Rahy's Attorney and Sterwins: Sterwins, Rahy's Attorney Set for Rematch.
And the prosecutors in the Ernie Paragallo abuse case are seeking a plea bargain deal: Prosecutors seeking plea in Paragallo cruelty case.
Update 5222: From NYRA:
BELMONT PARK NOTES
ELMONT, N.Y. - Preakness and Kentucky Oaks champion Rachel Alexandra galloped about a mile and a quarter on Belmont's fast main track early this morning, well in advance of a 9:30 a.m. downpour.
On Saturday, racing's hottest star will be a heavy favorite against four rivals in the Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes. Admission is free for all women and pink bracelets with Rachel Alexandra's name will be given away to the first 10,000 customers in support of owner Jess Jackson's decision to donate a percentage of the filly's future earnings to the Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure" for breast cancer.
"We send her out with the second set," trainer Steve Asmussen said from his Belmont office this morning. "We don't want her to be a guinea pig and we don't want to send her out there when the track's all torn up."
The Mother Goose will be the second start that Asmussen has trained Rachel Alexandra for and already he is completely enamored with everything the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro does.
"She is a great pleasure to be around," Asmussen said. "She's very endearing in the way she looks and acts."
While Rachel Alexandra has been installed as the 1-5 morning line favorite for the Mother Goose after beating Mine That Bird in the Preakness, the presence of the speedy Malibu Prayer and Flashing could make things slightly tricky for jockey Calvin Borel aboard the eight-time winner.
"I think it's an extremely respectable race," Asmussen said. "That said, our only concerns are what we can control. We have to take her over there in the right state of mind and right condition and hope she runs her race."
Update 5221: A short afternoon spent at the races at Woodbine. We had a runner in the second race, Jimmy Simms. He ran a nice second coming of a little bit of a lay-off.
I did take a couple more pictures for the Woodbine Characters series:
Racing fan! I just loved the Barbaro hat, so I had to take the picture of "Racing Fan"! We did have a brief conversation and he did know who I was. Very cool!
Leroy Trotman, Reade Baker's assistant trainer . Leroy Trotman is Reade Baker's assistant trainer, which means he is very busy, both in the mornings and in the afternoons. They run one of the largest racing stables on the backside at Woodbine. Leroy seems to be a very cool guy. Always has a smile and a hello in the morning as he is walking to and from the racetrack with his string of horses.
Update 5220: Eight sets for Steve this morning at Woodbine. Three of which went to the gate for some gate schooling. All schooled and galloped nicely. There was one loose horse, walking down the horse path. Waiting for someone to grab him. It was pretty funny really, I guess it took a while for the outriders to realize he was loose. I think all was well.
And to continue our Woodbine Characters series we have:
Albert Trudell, pony boy. Certainly not a boy, but "pony boy" is what they call Albert Trudell when his services are needed at a barn in the morning. Albert seems to own most of the ponies on the backside at Woodbine and has additional pony riders working for him, both in the mornings and in the afternoons.
Bill Tallon, DRF writer. Bill Tallon is one of the main writers for the Daily Racing Form here at Woodbine. A very affable kind of guy, Bill is often seen on the backside of Woodbine, chasing down a story, and similarly on the front side during races. Bill also keeps track of the upcoming Stakes so a good person to ask who is nominated for what and so forth.
Update 5219: Feature racing today comes from the evening program at Prairie Meadows. And Hooh Why will take on Hightap in the Iowa Oaks: Hooh Why to try dirt in Iowa Oaks.
More cool coverage: The Ubiquitous Alex Brown Speaks Out on Community and Horse Welfare.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:54 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 884
Posted June 25, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5218: Short videos and photos of Rachel Alexandra, training at Belmont Park, available on our ABR Facebook Group.
RACHEL ALEXANDRA CONTINUES MOTHER GOOSE PREPARATIONS
ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Steve Asmussen continued to put the finishing touches on Rachel Alexandra's preparations for Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park, as the filly went to the gate in the morning and schooled in the paddock in the afternoon.
The 3-year-old filly, the first of her sex to win the Preakness Stakes in 85 years, stood in the starting gate for a few moments at about 6:30 a.m., then galloped a mile on Belmont's training track with exercise rider Dominic Terry aboard.
During the sixth race, under sunny skies and with a small crowd looking on, the Stonestreet Stable's star stood quietly in the saddling enclosure, and then took several turns around the paddock before heading back to the barn with assistant trainer Scott Blasi.
"She was great in the gate this morning," said Blasi of Rachel Alexandra, who has her own website, "Rachel's Sandbox," on www.nyra.com/rachel. "She was relaxed, and paying attention. This afternoon, she parked herself right in the saddling enclosure and she never moved a muscle. I didn't have to do a thing, and I couldn't be any happier with how she acted, and how she's coming into the race."
Rachel Alexandra, who brings a six-race winning streak into the Mother Goose, is the 1-5 favorite over four others in the nine-furlong race: Don't Forget Gil, Flashing, Malibu Prayer, and Hopeful Image. The race will be aired live on MSG Plus from 5-5:30 p.m. (EDT).
Update 5217: Another afternoon spent at the races. We did not have a winner, but of course Terry Jordan did. That's all he has been doing lately! I did take a couple of more pictures for the Woodbine Characters series:
Jimmy Sutherland, Gapper. Jimmy's role at Woodbine is to be in the hut, by the tunnel that goes under the turf track to the main track during racing and training hours. Jimmy hands out the numbers for the grooms during race days. He phones in to the clockers all the workers who are heading on to the track during training hours. And finally Jimmy makes announcements, in a unique beat and tone (I thought it was a voice recording for the longest time.) He announces to grooms the 15 minute and 9 minute "warning" to bring their horses to the tunnel for the races. He also announces the ten minute "warning" for when the main track will shut for training and break. And that's what the "Gapper" does at Woodbine!
Harold Fortune, paddock judge & exercise rider. Harold is the paddock judge at Woodbine, and as such he checks the equipment for each of the horses and notes which horses need additional attention in the paddock. Harold keeps meticulous notes and is a good person to ask about one of your own horses if you have not run him for a while. Harold also gallops in the mornings, for trainer Danny Vella.
Update 5216: I had seven to gallop for Steve this morning at Woodbine, and it was a steamy morning. Oddly though it was a perfectly pleasant morning's work. All my horses galloped nicely. Three went to the gate for some schooling, and each schooled nicely. I have to say, the gate crew here are really good to work with. I guess they are getting used to us always being there to school our horses, but it is a pleasure to go back to the gate and hang out.
And to continue our Woodbine Characters series we have:
Donzel Evans aka Spanky. Hotwalker for David Cotey. Spanky (I only learned his real name today) is a fixture in our barn, walking hots for David Cotey. Spanky is the definition of character. He has his quircks. He's not quiet, he walks slowly, but he is who he is! And he says he is going to fix the headlight on my truck. He said that more than a year ago, and it still needs fixing.
Rolf Fowley, freelance rider for Rolf Fowley, freelance rider for Paul Buttigieg . Rolf, a native of Ireland, he gallops in the morning's at Woodbine, then heads up to his boss' farm in the afternoon to gallop more horses. If I head for the kitchen during break time I usually run into Rolf for a quick chat. That is where I took this picture this morning.
Update 5215: Zenyatta faces seven others this weekend in her quest to remain unbeaten: Zenyatta Aims for 11th Straight in Vanity.
A fun evening at the races here at Woodbine last night. We had a second in the first race. The most impressive performance of the night, up to the time I left, was Tribal Belle in the fourth. And I took some more pictures for the Woodbine Characters series:
Terry Jordan, a hard to beat trainer! Terry Jordan is winning races for fun at this meet, at about 40%. Terry's main base has been in Vancouver, and he still commutes from "out west". His assistant trainer, Anita Bolton, is here permanently and does a terrific job. Both great people who have always been very friendly to me. We hang out. I also freelanced for them a little last year including Tribal Belle, who was the easiest of winners last night.
Sandy Hawley, jockey and legend. Woodbine is most proud of two racing "icons." Northern Dancer and Sandy Hawley. Sandy Hawley is universally liked. A terrific jockey with riding titles here in Canada as well as in the US. Most recently he won the jockeys legends race in California last year. He is now a TV personality for Woodbine.
Sid Attard, 30 year trainer @ Woodbine. Sid Attard has been at Woodbine for about 40 years and has been a trainer here for the last 30 years. He has won about five training titles. He is currently in the top five. Seems like a very pleasant guy and while I don't know him very well Sid was very happy to have his picture taken!
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:49 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 883
Posted June 24, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5214: A cool story about standardbred Broadway Kevin: Retired racehorses join fight against crime.
Off to the races, from where I may tweet.
Update 5213: From NYRA: Four to face Rachel Alexandra in the Mother Goose:
IT'S TIME FOR THE RACHEL ALEXANDRA SHOW!
ELMONT, N.Y. - She walks like a supermodel and runs like an Olympic champion, and Saturday afternoon, Rachel Alexandra will make her New York debut when she puts her six-race winning streak on the line in the 53rd running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park.
The leggy bay daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, who will be making her first start since beating the boys in the May 16 Preakness Stakes, arrived at Belmont Tuesday afternoon to the snapping of camera shutters, and was bedded down at trainer Steve Asmussen's barn in stall No. 5, the same one occupied by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin.
Not surprisingly, there were more people on hand for her arrival than will be horses facing her in the nine-furlong Mother Goose - just four others were entered in the one-turn race: Alan Brodsky's multiple stakes-winner Don't Forget Gil, off the board just once in eight starts; Godolphin Stable's Flashing, with a three-race win streak of her own; Edward P. Evans' Malibu Prayer, who has won her last two starts by a combined margin of 201/4 lengths, and Linda Sullivan and Gerald Procino's Hopeful Image, who is coming off a 1 3/4-length victory in an optional claimer in the mud here on June 12.
Whether any of them are up to the challenge of upsetting Rachel Alexandra, who her jockey, Calvin Borel, calls "the best horse in the country" remains to be seen.
"We're all kind of in the same boat, with Rachel Alexandra being in the race, of looking at a Grade 1 stakes placing," said Rick Mettee, the North American racing manager for Godolphin Stable, which won last year's Mother Goose with Music Note. "Besides Rachel, the other three are pretty good fillies, and they're all in form. Flashing is doing exceptionally well - after her victory in the (Grade 3) Nassau County (May 2) it was felt this would be a logical spot for her.
"Apparently," he added, "they thought it was a logical spot for Rachel Alexandra, as well."
Indeed. After her historic victory over Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in the Preakness, her new owners, Jess Jackson and Harold McCormick, considered entering Rachel Alexandra in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes on June 6. After much consideration, they felt it would be asking too much of her and aimed instead at the Mother Goose, whose roster of victors fillies such as Sky Beauty, Go for Wand, Davona Dale, Ruffian, Shuvee and Dark Mirage, all of whom went on to championship honors.
"This," said assistant trainer Scott Blasi of the Stonestreet Stable miss, "is a stepping-stone, hopefully, to bigger things."
Rachel's reign began last Nov. 29, when in her first start for Borel she ran off to a 4 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Goldenrod Stakes at Churchill Downs. She piled up impressive victories in the Mount Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park, the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks and the Grade 2 Fantasy, also at Oaklawn, but it was her 201/4-length tour de force in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks that catapulted her to superstar status.
"Pretty impressive," said Mark Hennig, trainer of Don't Forget Gil. "In fact, very impressive."
Don't Forget Gil, a New York-bred daughter of Kafwain, owns a pair of stakes victories in the restricted East View Stakes at Aqueduct and the Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs earlier this year, but finished a disappointing eighth in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico the day before the Preakness.
"She got sick a few days after the race, so maybe she was coming down with something," said Hennig of Don't Forget Gil. "She's had a busy year and a few miles on the van, and it kind of made us choose to stay home. This will be her first time running at her home track since she broke her maiden, so we're coming back to a place where she's had success."
Malibu Prayer, a daughter of Malibu Moon, will be making her stakes debut in the Mother Goose after just four starts, including a 13-length maiden victory at Aqueduct on April 17 and a 71/4-length allowance win at Philadelphia Park on June 2.
"The race seems to be more about Rachel Alexandra, but Malibu Prayer is a filly that on her own merit probably deserves a chance," said Jonathan Thomas, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher.
Hopeful Image, a daughter of Gulch, has three victories in 13 starts, with her best finish in a graded stakes race a third behind Justwhistledixie in the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream Park on March 27. Her most recent stakes appearance was a sixth-place finish behind Gozzip Girl in the Grade 2 Sands Point on May 30.
Update 5212: It's going to be a hot day today at Woodbine. I went in after the break, and got on five horses. All went to the gate for some schooling. All schooled very nicely. A nice day to do not too much for sure.
As part of our new ongoing series, Woodbine Characters, today we have:
Danny Williams, Jimmy McAleney's agent. Jimmy rode a lot of races for us last year and I got to know Jimmy and Danny quite well. Danny is on the backside at Woodbine each morning helping organize Jimmy's morning works and figuring who they are going to ride in the afternoons. We have remained friends and Danny often buys me a beer in the Champions Bar at the races!
Paul Eccleston, Mine That Bird's Woodbine groom. Paul is the shedrow foreman for David Cotey. He also looked after Mine That Bird all last year. We are in the same barn and Paul has always been very cool to share a barn with.
Update 5211: A "half" day off today. I don't have to be in until after the break to get on a couple of horses that will gate school. Nice to have a little lie in for sure.
Zenyatta is scheduled to run this weekend, along with Rachel Alexandra. Zenyatta on the west coast, Rachel on the east coast. We will provide updates for both as we can. Here is a Q and A with Zenyatta's trainer, John Shirreffs: Q & A With Zenyatta Trainer John Shirreffs.
And this is great feedback: All The Pretty Horses.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 11:46 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 882
Posted June 23, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5210: From NYRA:
RACHEL ALEXANDRA ARRIVES AT BELMONT PARK
ELMONT, N.Y. - Following an uneventful flight from Louisville, Ky., Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra arrived safely at Belmont Park late Tuesday afternoon for her next start, Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Accompanied by assistant trainer Scott Blasi, exercise rider Dominic Terry, the Stonestreet Stables security team, and four other thoroughbreds, Rachel Alexandra departed Churchill Downs at noon (EDT) for the 90-minute flight to Farmingdale, N.Y., and arrived at trainer Steve Asmussen's barn on the Belmont Park backstretch by van at about 4:30 p.m.
After a few turns around the shedrow to stretch her legs, and a bath, the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro was bedded down in stall No. 5 - the same stall previously occupied by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin - at 5:30 p.m.
"Four and a half hours, barn to barn, that's pretty good," said Blasi. "She's a pretty good traveler, though - she's shipped to Oaklawn Park, and the Fair Grounds, and of course to Baltimore."
Rachel Alexandra, whose six-race winning streak includes her historic victory over the boys in the Preakness, will get her first tour of the Belmont Park oval Wednesday morning, and will likely school in the paddock Thursday afternoon between races.
The Mother Goose, which will be run for the 53rd time Saturday, is expected to attract a compact but talented field including Alan Brodsky's multiple stakes-winner Don't Forget Gil, off the board just once in eight starts; Godolphin Stable's Flashing, with a three-race win streak of her own; and Edward P. Evans' Malibu Prayer, who has won her last two starts by a combined margin of 20 1/4 lengths.
Update 5209: There will be a rally at Keeneland tomorrow in response to the lack of support Kentucky racing is receiving from its Senate office holders. Here is Paulick Report on the issue: A SAD DAY FOR KENTUCKY.
Update 5208: Jennifer Morrison wraps up the Queen's Plate weekend: JUMPING OUT of his (LEOPARD) SKIN.
Update 5207: Superfecta here, with your regular weekly update.
Much of the news this week seems to carry a bit of an international flavor; there is talk that Wesley Ward's successes at Royal Ascot will bring more American horses (especially sprinters - Cannonball narrowly missed out on winning the Golden Jubilee). The Guardian put his accomplishments rather quaintly:
A top-class Ascot success for an American-trained horse may now be just a matter of time. When it arrives, Cannonball and Wesley Ward, the Californian trainer who was as good as unknown seven days ago, will deserve some of the credit for showing the way.
Given the strong track record Australian horses already have in the sprints at Ascot, it seems the longer-term goal is to get more 'mile and middle-distance horses' from around the world to compete. Attracting American horses (at least from the West coast) might be easier now with Polytrack reigning supreme on California tracks - stepping up to a top-level turf mile with that foundation is certainly possible.
It's very unlikely you'd see an American horse step up to try to take the long-distance mantle from Yeats, however - while it's true we do have at least enough horses to fill the Breeders' Cup Dirt Marathon (we do, right?), we simply do not have much depth in the turf stayer division. But that's not to say we cannot enjoy Yeats - it's even possible he will contest the Arc this year (and seeing an eight-year-old stallion win the year after a three-year-old filly won and headed straight to the breeding shed would be a nice bookend). It's more likely he will point toward a race at Goodwood or the Curragh, but it's certainly an enticing possibility. (Vision d'Etat, winner of the Prince of Wales's Stakes, is definitely aiming for the Arc, after finishing fifth behind Zarkava last year).
The international trend continued with the announcement of more Win and You're In races for the Breeders' Cup (the full list is here); races at Sha Tin, Deauville, Longchamp, the Curragh, Leopardstown, Dundalk, Moonee Valley, Ascot and Newmarket are all part of the package now. I was pleased to see the effort made to reach out to the Aussie sprinters via the Moonee Valley race, but given the incompatibility of our racing calendars, it's unlikely we'd ever get to see them send their best to the Breeders' Cup. (As a side note, I'd also mention how few of these races are going to be normally televised - why isn't ESPN going to be at the Del Cap? I've always seen them there in years previous).
Heading back stateside, the racing world is very excited indeed about Rachel Alexandra headlining the Mother Goose at Belmont Park this weekend (naturally, I will be away at a conference and unable to attend - can I hold out hope for the Del Cap?). While I commend the decision taken by Jess Jackson to contribute a portion of Rachel Alexandra's winnings this season to charity, I do wish they would have picked one 1) that is less reliant on pink and 2) that actually sends a larger percentage of their donations to research. If awareness is the goal, it's all well and good, but if spending your research dollars wisely is the aim, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation is a better bet. Still, it's a nice gesture and I don't hate the idea of the bracelets (just the color), but there's still a long way to go toward decent official merchandise. I will take this CafePress offering over the rather anemic-looking HorseHats.com shirt any day (although I'd really like to see something more along these lines).
As far as the race itself, it's not much on paper beyond Rachel Alexandra and Justwhistledixie (although I quite like the idea of getting a really top-class filly in this race to renew some of its past glory - even if few others bothered making the trip), but I will most definitely be following along on my iPhone.
Of course, there's walkover action on the West coast too - Zenyatta is taking on a few other runners in the Vanity, but she'll at least have the high weight of 129 pounds to make it a little more even. (Well, it still won't make it very even, but is should make things a bit more interesting for Life Is Sweet's presumed second-place finish). The fact that there is no unofficial Zenyatta merchandise suggests that perhaps her race is the one that needs a bit more marketing.
Imagine the possibilities if both horses were in the same race...
Update 5206: Off to OLEX, I'll provide real-time updates via twitter.
Update 5205: My weekly contribution to Eclipse Magazine (UK): Alex Brown 23 June 2009.
This morning we had six sets. And it was a pretty hot morning too at Woodbine. All mine galloped nicely though for a pretty straightforward morning's work. We also had a bunch of horses working, so our jock Luis Contreras was in the barn working horses. I think they all went well too. A straightforward morning's work.
As part of our new ongoing series, Woodbine Characters, today we have:
Meggy Watson, who is better known as "Marge" and works in the track kitchen. Always there for your first cup of coffee in the morning. Always in good form.
Wayne Green, trainer and x jockey, Wayne is in our Barn, Barn 30 at Woodbine. He trains a few horses, which he gallops and looks after himself. Wayne used to be a jockey. I first met Wayne when I first arrived at Woodbine last year.
Update 5204: The weekly ABR Facebook Group E-mail: Tweet this: Chantal Sutherland, Sue McMullen and Royal Ascot, Wesley Ward, Yeats, Chantal Sutherland, Bob Baffert and Calvin Borel, Sailer's Cap, Nicanor, Oliver's Strike, Chad Beckon, Simon Husbands, Lane Gold, Molly Jo Rosen, Justin Stein, twitpic, Smart Enough, Dr. Fisher, Hugo Dittfach, Tony Dowman, and Chantal Sutherland.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:43 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 881
Posted June 22, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5203: Triple Dead Heat recaps a terrific day yesterday at Woodbine: Photo Essay: Eye of the Leopard Wins The Queen's Plate.
Update 5202: John Asher on Rachel Alexandra's work this morning at Churchill Downs:
RACHEL ALEXANDRA WORKS HALF-MILE AT CHURCHILL DOWNS IN FINAL PREP FOR RETURN IN MOTHER GOOSE
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (June 22, 2009) - Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick's Rachel Alexandra, winner of the Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) and the Preakness (GI), worked four furlongs in :49.80 at Churchill Downs on Monday in preparation for her scheduled return to racing in Saturday's $300,000 Mother Goose (GI) at Belmont Park.
Exercise rider Dominic Terry was in the saddle as the 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro covered the distance over a "fast" track in fractional times of :13, :25 and :37.40. Her half-mile work ranked as the 17th fastest of 51 at the distance and the Steve Asmussen-trained filly galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.40.
"The filly went beautiful this morning," said Asmussen. "She looked very happy. Scott (assistant trainer Scott Blasi) and Dominic have done a great job keeping her happy."
Rachel Alexandra will face 3-year-old fillies in the 1 1/8-mile Mother Goose, which will be her first race since her win over Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Mine That Bird and 11 other males in the Preakness (GI) on May 16 at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course.
The filly will ship to New York on Tuesday for Saturday's race. Rachel Alexandra figures to be an overwhelming favorite in the Mother Goose, although she could face such accomplished foes as graded stakes winners Justwhistledixie and Don't Forget Gil in the race.
"That's why they're Grade I's," said Asmussen. "We're not looking to trade her with anyone."
Her Preakness victory lifted the career record for Rachel Alexandra to 8-2-0 in 11 races with earnings of $1,618,354.
Update 5201: ABR Top Five, the five best runners in North America, remains the same as last week: Einstein, Macho Again, Mine That Bird, Rachel Alexandra, and Zenyatta. We should see some action this upcoming weekend with Rachel Alexandra in New York and Zenyatta in California (Zenyatta Assigned 129 For June 27 Vanity)!
Update 5200: A gorgeous morning this morning at Woodbine. I galloped five for Steve. All galloped nicely for a very pleasant way to start the day. Everyone seemed in good humor, if a little quiet after yesterday's festivities.
I am going to start taking pictures of the characters here at Woodbine, now I have figured out how to do that with my iPhone and get them uploaded on twitpic. Here are the two "Woodbine Characters" from this morning:
Tony Dowman, hotwalker & valet. A native of Ireland Tony came over here many, many years ago. A tremendous character, he is one of our hotwalkers and is a jockey's valet in the afternoons.
Hugo Dittfach, hallof fame jock, trainer & gallop guy! Hugo rode many winners in his day. Lots of jockey titles. He now trains a couple at Woodbine, he gallops them himself. He is 73 years old. He had his first winner of the meet yesterday, on the Queen's Plate undercard!
Update 5199: A terrific day at the races yesterday, with Eye of the Leopard (my pick) grinding it out and winning the Queen's Plate: Eye of the Leopard Pounces to Queen's Plate.
And here is my interview with Chantal Sutherland from last week: Girls with Guts Part 6: CHANTAL SUTHERLAND.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:50 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 880
Posted June 19, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5198: Off to the races, and you can follow my afternoon at the Queen's Plate here.
Update 5197: The rainy weather seems to have cleared out of Woodbine, just in time for the Queen's Plate this afternoon! It was a perfectly gorgeous morning this morning to be galloping horses. And because the track shut early this morning for training (8 am) we had a nice short morning's work. Five sets. No gate schoolers. All mine galloped nicely.
You can get Queen's Plate news and analysis from Jennifer Morrison: DADDY OF THEM ALL.
I'll be heading back over to the races, we have a runner in the third race. I'll also be "tweeting" the afternoon's events, with pictures too, I hope.
Update 5196: Today is the Queen's Plate at Woodbine. The longest running horse race in North America. It should be a fun afternoon at the races, with a large crowd that gets dressed up for the occasion. The favorite for the race may well be one of the two fillies that ran one / two in the Oaks two weeks ago. My pick is the Plate Trial winner Eye of the Leopard: Queen's Plate: Filly Milwaukee Appeal Favored.
There is also good racing on the undercard: Highlander, Singspiel Top Woodbine Undercard.
Update 5195: Sue McMullen from Royal Ascot:
They came from around the world to participate in today's feature race, the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes, the British leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, but it was a horse from Newmarket flying the home flag who came with a storming run under Tom Queally, his first Group 1 winner, and claim the honours. Art Connoisseur won last year's Coventry Stakes with a similar flying finish and was a leading fancy for the Guineas but following a spell on the sidelines due to injury trainer Michael Bell discovered he had a sprinter in the making. Injury struck again a month ago when the horse threw a splint so instead of pounding up the Newmarket gallops in his prep for Royal Ascot, Art Con took to the swimming pool twice a day, clocking up more miles in the pool than Michael Phelps. Hopeful of a big run from their horse, the Bell camp were also aware he faced some of the world's best sprinters and Bell admitted he thought his horse would be 'a boy among men' but his boy showed one of the classiest fields to set hooves on turf the way home.
With racing becoming increasingly global it is wonderful to see so many horses seemingly cope very well clocking up the air miles and the sprints in particular are now attracting big name globetrotters. The highly touted JJ The Jet Plane from South Africa and Hong Kong's star Sacred Kingdom joined the line-up and it seemed likely that the race would go to an international raider but it was not to be their day. If UK racegoers have one thing in common, it is their appreciation and recognition of great horses, wherever they come from and we relish the appearance of top horses from around the world.
Not to be overlooked was the US raider Cannonball described by Wesley Ward as an 'over-achiever with a big heart' and all praise to the horse for his creditable sixth in Tuesday's Kings Stand Stakes over a trip that is clearly too short for him and almost claiming today's Golden Jubilee Stakes with a storming run behind Art Connoisseur. Wes Ward enjoyed a fantastic Royal Ascot with his team and his trip was certainly worth the air fare. Hopefully he will be back next year as he looks most at home in top hat and tails and maybe his presence will encourage other trainers in the US to join the fun.
Big hats are apparently back in fashion at Royal Ascot and the trend for the bizarrely-named 'fascinator', which is less of a hat and more of a hairband with something stuck to it, is waning. Few women are flattered by these contraptions so perhaps the return of the killer hat is to be welcomed. Shocking pink was apparently the hottest colour this year, followed by coral. But this is merely a nod and a poor one at that, to fashion reporting and a grudging acknowledgement that this event is very much a social occasion, to see and be seen. For those who go for the serious business of horseracing we have little interest who wears what and what they wear on the heads, as long as they don't frighten the horses.
We have an enjoyed a vintage week at Royal Ascot and will take away unforgettable memories of brave, wonderful horses, in what is regarded by many as the 'Olympics' for the racehorse.
Staying races have been out of fashion for many years as the trend for breeders has been to produce speed, which in the view of many in the business has been to the detriment of the Thoroughbred itself. But one horse put the Ascot Gold Cup back on the map and it is his performance that dominated, which is no mean feat in a week that lived up to all the hype and expectations as we knew we would witness some superb performances. But Yeats made history and made this Olympian week entirely his own. For those of us privileged enough to have been there to see him in the flesh and marvel at his superb physique, grace and power, the living embodiment of a fantasy racehorse, we will never forget him and reliving his victory still has the power to bring tears to the eye.
Update 5194: I will be interviewed on radio, 11:30 am today on WKJK 1080 AM in Louisville, KY. They are broadcasting live from Woodbine for the Queen's Plate weekend. I think they will be asking me for my tips!
Update 5193: A damp morning this morning at Woodbine, and it looks like it is going to rain for most of the day. We had six sets. All galloped nicely, and none of them went to the gate for any schooling. Lets hope the rain finishes today so we can have a nice day for the big race tomorrow, the Queen's Plate: MAGIC.
Update 5192: Today is the final day of the Royal Ascot meet: SPEED TO THE FORE AT ROYAL ASCOT.
And yesterday the Kentucky House approved a slots bill: KY House Drops Racetrack VLTs in Senate's Lap.
Update 5191: Sue McMullen on Day Four at Royal Ascot:
Day four at Royal Ascot and feelings are still running high following Yeats emotional victory. It was strange to see Johnny Murtagh in top hat and tails as he had to play the visitor today due a suspension he received at Epsom, so despite currently leading the jockey's table with four wins he can take no further part at this meeting. Reliving yesterday's fairytale Johnny said if he been able to have only one Group 1 victory this year, he would have chosen the Gold Cup simply for Yeats himself.
The girls took centre stage today in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes and with three Guineas heroines, English, Irish and French, we knew we were in for a feast. It was said here following Ghanaati's victory in the English 1,000 Guineas that this powerful daughter of the much-loved 'iron horse' Giants Causeway was something special and she proved it today. She is definitely a 'chip off the old block' and looked the most physically impressive as she strode around the ring, unfazed and totally calm, in total contrast with the French filly Elusive Wave who got very upset in the parade ring, forcing Christophe Lemaire to jump off and remount. It is easy to forget these horses are still babies and the sight of some of those hats would make the best of us spook.
With Ghanaati's trainer, Barry Hills, unable to be in attendence for this year's meeting due to ill health, today was highly charged for son Charlie, who acts as assistant to his father and for another of his sons, jockey Richard Hills who already had one victory under his belt today having partnered Habaayib to victory in the Group 3 Albany Stakes. Ghanaati means 'my love' in Arabic and the love shared by the Hills family and owner Sheikh Hamdan for this royally bred filly was evident for all to see in the winners' enclosure after she blitzed her rivals and when Richard, not the most demonstrative of jockeys, leaned down and threw his arms around the filly's neck and kissed her after she pulled up. Declaring her to be 'my love' as he jumped off the filly, Richard admitted there are two women in his life, his wife and Ghanaati.
Another popular win in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes, otherwise known as the 'Ascot Derby' when training legend Henry Cecil's Father Time cruised home under Eddie Ahern. Currently battling cancer and about to undergo another bout of chemotherapy, Cecil was present to witness his 71st Royal Ascot winner.
Last day tomorrow but by no means least as we have the six furlong, Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes to look foward to. This British leg of the Global Sprint Challenge is another battle of the speedsters and includes a formidable line-up but sadly this year it will not include a horse who has become almost a permanent feature of Royal Ascot, the much-loved, globetrotting Takeover Target. Known as 'Archie' to his friends, the fairytale Aussie rags to riches horse is now 10 years-old and appears to still relish the game but was reported today to be running a slight temperature and he will be aimed at Newmarket's July Cup, where he will take on Scenic Blast, victor of Tuesday's Kings Stand. We will miss Archie tomorrow and it is a huge compliment to his trainer Joe Janiack, a former taxi driver, and to this horse himself, once written off as worthless and then acquired by Joe and nutured to brilliance by him, that he is back in the UK for yet another crack at the top sprints. His presence will be missed tomorrow and all his fans wish him a speedy recovery.
Update 5190: A pleasant morning's work at Woodbine this morning for Steve. We had seven sets. All galloped nicely, although one was feeling so good he started lunging and leaping and I just kept looking down to make sure my tack did not slip! Three of mine went to the gate for a little gate schooling. All schooled nicely too. We have one runner later this afternoon so lets hope for a little luck!
Update 5189: It is day four of Royal Ascot. The Coronation Stakes is among the feature races: GHANAATI TO BE CROWNED.
And here is a preview for Sunday's Queen's Plate here at Woodbine: Queen's Plate: Filly Milwaukee Appeal Favored.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:53 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 879
Posted June 18, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5188: It's Queen's Plate weekend at Woodbine. Jen's Thoroughblog has all the news. Today was the draw, she includes the draw in today's entry: SPILL, excerpt:
1 El Brujo, Windways Farm, Malcolm Pierce, Emma-Jayne Wilson, 15-1
2 Flip For The Coin, Molinaro Stable, Vito Armata, Emile Ramsammy, 30-1
3 Active Duty, Woodford Racing, Mark Casse, Corey Fraser, 20-1
4 Milwaukee Appeal, CEC Farms, Scott Fairlie, Stewart Elliott, 3-1
5 Mr. Foricos Two U, Annecchini & D'Alimonte, Catherine Day Phillips, Mike Smith, 15-1
6 Reservoir, Goldie Stables & Weila Ye, Julia Carey, Jim McAleney 20-1
7 Eye Of The Leopard, Sam-Son Farm, Mark Frostad, Eurico Rosa Da Silva, 7-2
8 Rapid Release, Dolantori Racing, Roger Attfield, Jono Jones, 8-1
9 Bucephalus, Knob Hill Stable, Kevin Attard, Tyler Pizzaro, 20-1
10 Stardust Ziggy, UNstable, Lorna Perkins, Jerry Baird, 20-1
11 Tasty Temptation, Woodford Racing, Mark Casse, Patrick Husbands, 4-1
12 Shut It Down, K.K. Sangara, Lorne Richards, Russell Baze, 20-1
13 Keino West, Track West Racing, Steve Attard, Gerry Olguin, 15-1
Update 5187: Sue McMullen from Royal Ascot:
It's all about Yeats - it just had to be
Win or lose today was always going to be about one horse and what a horse he is. Superlatives don't exist to do this horse justice and it was one of those occasions when those present gave thanks they were there to witness Yeats remarkable achievement. No horse has won four Ascot Gold Cups and no 8 year-old has won in more than 100 years.
Any doubts that he was back to his magnificent best after defeat in soft ground at Navan two months ago were immediately dispelled as he strode imperiously into the pre-parade ring. A magnificent bull of a horse with the heart of a lion, it is remarkable to consider he is still entire and a career at stud still awaits him. A portrait of Yeats beautiful dark bay head and kind eye adorns the cover of this year's media guide, an unusual feature as trainers are notoriously supersticious and such an honour would usually be reserved for a retired horse. Aiden O'Brien admitted he had felt sick with nerves all morning, in common with many of the horse's biggest fans.
Emotions were running high as the race drew near with owner John Magnier summing up the feeling of those present when he said before the race that 'today Yeats is everybodys horse' and jockey Johnny Murtagh's emotional tribute to the horse when he spoke of his class, stamina, speed and courage and said that today was all about Yeats and not about him. Looks don't win races but Yeats took the breath away as he strode around the parade ring, cool and calm with just one little hop of excitement indicating he knew exactly where he was. It was impossible to look at him as he walked by, the embodiment of power and equine majesty and imagine him being beaten. It was that sort of day and the rest is, quite literally, history.
He had to win and anybody who begrudged him today would have a lump of rock where a heart should have been beating. And how he won, this relentless galloper who also possesses a turn of foot left the field trailing with only Sir Michael Stoute's Paktai able to give chase. But he couldn't catch him, no horse was going to catch him today and deny him his place in history. At full cruising speed Yeats makes a two and a half mile slog look effortless and as the crowd watched him draw clear the cheers threatened to lift the roof from the grandstand in a display of emotion usually reserved for those winter kings of National Hunt racing.
Royal Ascot is an odd place. It is very much a tale of two racecourses, with the serious racing fans rubbing shoulders with those who have little knowledge or interest in the sport as this is, after all, a major social event. Today is Ladies' Day, which means ramping up the glitz and glamour to even greater heights and after yesterday's fierce gusts of wind, the fashionistas were relieved to have only a breeze to contend with. A brief pause between strutting and preening or quaffing champagne as they watched the next race where a horse called Yeats appeared to be causing some kind of fuss, then back to the serious business of the day.
But the rest of us, those who had come today to pay homage, watched in humble admiration and awe as a powerful bay horse, this mighty of son of Sadlers' Wells, made history and we're still shaking.
Update 5186: Yeats does it! More to follow: Yeats Wins - Ascot!
Update 5185: The Alex Brown Racing Facebook Group has now reached 1600 members!
Update 5184: Toronto Star on last night's spill: Jockey in coma after Woodbine crash.
Update 5183: Nine galloped this morning for Steve at Woodbine. I was scheduled to gallop eight but we had one extra one at the end. Two of mine went to the gate, and schooled nicely. It was a damp and dreary morning this morning.
The atmosphere at Woodbine this morning was muted. There was a terrible spill last night. One horse, Oliver's Strike, collapsed and died while running in mid pack. Two more went down falling over the stricken horse. Chad Beckon, who was leading rider at Fort Erie before moving his tack to Woodbine this meet, suffered a broken back and a concussion. Simon Husbands was also injured but released from Hospital.
Update 5182: It's day three of Royal Ascot, highlighted by Yeats' bid for his fourth straight Gold Cup: PREPARE FOR A GOLDEN MOMENT.
Media coverage of Nicanor's win yesterday:
Nicky Wins Again; Stakes Company Next?
Nicanor cruises to second straight win
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:49 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 878
Posted June 17, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5181: A nice length and a half win by Nicanor, going wire to wire.
Update 5180: Sue McMullen reporting on day two at Royal Ascot:
Day two and what a contrast in the weather. Intrepid Brits and veterans of Royal Ascot understand the vagaries of the British weather and just get on with it but it's tougher on the women, like so much else in life. Not just rain today but strong gusts of wind, a lethal combination for the larger hats. The trick is to have one hand welded to the head at all times but one poor soul wasn't quite fast enough and lost hers. The unusual missile, black and rather appropriately covered with feathers, flew into the middle of the course but thankfully racing hadn't started or it could have had rather more serious consequences. Horses at Royal Ascot have to cope with a parade ring lined with humans sprouting strange headgear of every colour, size and shape and few seem that bothered but to have one of these monsters flying into your midst while at full stretch might have proved too much for some. Hopefully the errant hat was reunited with the owner.
Rain might dampen the spirits of the fashionistas but it has no effect on serious racegoers who enjoyed another feast of racing, with Sheikh Hamdan's Ougba winning the Group 3 Jersey Stakes in fine style and providing the Sheikh with back-to-back victories. Abandoned by the Sheikh's number one jockey Richard Hills who chose to ride stablemate Infiraad, the unprounouncable Ougba gave Irish jockey, possessed of an equally unfamiliar name, Tadegh O'Shea his first win at the Royal meeting.
Chevely Park Stud's red and white colours led the way home in first and second in the Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes, with their girls, Spacious and Heaven Sent underlining the success of the Stud's breeding programme. A hugely popular win for the modest Thompsons who own Chevely Park, their flagbearers must have heard Mrs Thompson's pre-race interview when she expressed the wish that favourite Lush Lashes had stayed at home. She needn't have worried as her girls provided her with the sort of day that breeders can only dream about and never truly hope to achieve.
More international success in the 10 furlong Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes, with last year's French Derby winner Vision D'Etat coming from last to first under French jockey Olivier Peslier. Sir Michael Stoute's Tartan Bearer couldn't quite hang on but finished in front of the other French raider Never on Sunday. Vision D'Etat even managed to score without his tongue tie, which was missing as his French connections didn't understand the rules in the UK and hadn't declared it. But its absence made little difference to this very talented colt. So much for gadgets.
Favourite Forgotten Voice gave Johnny Murtagh his third win of the meeting in the Royal Hunt Cup and it will be interesting to see where trainer Jeremy Noseda now aims this beautiful gelding, looking every inch like a candidate for the remake of Black Beauty. Few favourites have won this cavalry charge, one of the oldest races on the Royal Ascot card and horses winning in top handicaps are Group horses in all but name so he might now have to step up and take on the big boys.
Shocking pink might be the fashion colour of this year's Royal meeting, but the most fashionable girl on the course was Jealous Again, sporting a black and gold headpiece to match the jockey's colours. Blitzing away from the field in the Group 2 Queen Mary to give Wesley Ward and John Velazquez their second victory of the meeting, the filly was too precocious for her UK rivals, something Wesley Ward, looking by now very comfortable and at home in his top hat, was quick to concede. He knew that Strike the Tiger and his flying filly were trained for speed whereas in the UK these babies are usually going to run further and get better next year. A bold move but one that has proved very popular over here as racing becomes ever more international at this level.
Favourite Moneycantbuymelove bagged the Listed race for fillies, the Sandringham Handicap and brought the curtain down on a day that saw racegoers huddled together for shelter, some rather bedraggled finery and a few stilettos sinking like tent pegs into the turf. But we love it all and revel in the highly international nature of this flagship meeting. Stetsons have now been added to top hats and long may it continue.
The scene is set for tomorrow. For some this is Ladies Day, but for the serious racegoer it is but one day - Yeats Day. Hearts are beating and nerves already frayed. Can he claim his fourth Ascot Gold Cup? Many of us are praying that he'll do it and if he has his head in front in the home stretch the crowd will take the roof off the grandstand and there won't be a dry eye to be seen.
Update 5179: As suspected Rachel Alexandra's next start will be in the Mother Goose, against fillies, at Belmont Park on June 27: Mother Goose Next Start for Rachel Alexandra, excerpt:
"Rachel is rested, healthy and ready to run," Jackson said in a statement. "On Monday, she turned in a very strong six furlong work galloping out seven furlongs around the clubhouse turn in 1:24.80."
Update 5178: Only four to gallop this morning. I also rode the pony for a few sets just to help out a little bit. Three of the ones I galloped went to the gate for some gate schooling. All schooled nicely.
Now to sit down and hash out the interview I conducted with Chantal Sutherland yesterday. One thing is becoming clear in my "research". She is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, figures in horse racing in North America. I determined this by looking at how many times her name is searched on in google per month.
Update 5177: Nicanor is running to day at Delaware Park.
It is day two of the Royal Ascot meet: TARTAN A LUSH BET ON DAY TWO.
And here is the report from OLEX yesterday: OLEX JUNE 16th 2009.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:48 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 877
Posted June 16, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5176: Ellie Ross reported from OLEX today on twitter. I interviewed Chantal Sutherland instead!
Update 5175: Sue McMullen with a report from the opening day at Royal Ascot:
Day one of arguably the world's most famous race meeting. There is nowhere quite like Royal Ascot, a unique mix of fashion, glitz, and glamour providing a stunning backdrop to the week's best Flat racing. Crowd numbers are 5% down for the week but late bookings are still being made and Saturday is a sell-out. Somewhere out in the real world there is a credit crunch but to the naked eye, there is no sign of it here at Ascot.
Day one exceeded expectations and even the sun shone. Paco Boy, who has never been given the credit he deserves, took the Queen Anne in fine style, providing jockey Richard Hughes with the first leg of a treble. Aussie raider Scenic Blast lived up to the hype that always surrounds these sprint kings from 'down under' and blitzed a classy field in the Kings Stand Stakes, the second leg of the Global Sprint Challenge. This truly international series of races is now attracting horses from all over the world and today's race included the US challenger Cannonball, who finished sixth, and runner-up Fleeting Spirit, a gutsy filly who made a valiant attempt to catch Scenic Blast but it was no disgrace for her to finish second to the speed machine from Oz. At the time of writing the word is that Scenic Blast will not go for Saturday's Golden Jubilee Stakes in an attempt to emulate Choisir's awesome double in 2003, and instead he will be saved for the July Stakes at Newmarket.
The Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Master Craftsman flew the flag for Ballydoyle in the St James Palace Stakes but he had to really fight for it, going down a head to Delegator before digging deep and powering back to get his head in front. A brave horse who was given a confident ride by maestro Johnny Murtagh. Poor Delegator seems destined to be the bridesmaid but hopefully he will have his day.
Richard Hughes' second win of the day came aboard the horse described by him as the best he has ever ridden, no mean accolade, the two year-old Canford Cliffs whose win in the Coventry Stakes had jaws dropping. Running away with Richard in the early stages, Canford Cliffs looked as if he had blown his chances but even to Richard's surprise he then managed to pick up and scoot home leaving the rest of the field trailing in his wake. A very exciting prospect who could be anything at all and is already shortening in the market for next year's 2,000 Guineas.
Judgethemoment under an inspired ride from Richard Hughes claimed the marathon Ascot Stakes, over two and a half miles, with some hurdlers in the race wondering where the jumps were. One win on the board after the first day at Royal Ascot is a jockey's dream but to have bagged three is remarkable and it shows that regardless of how good you ride, you have to be on the best horse on the day. A highly talented jockey, the five foot ten Hughes has ridden at major racetracks around the world and when he's on a good horse he is as good as anybody riding.
So ends the first day and how strange it was to see US ace John Velasquez amid the quintessential setting of the Royal meeting. You wonder what visitors make of it all. Top hats and tails, women wearing hats so big they risk locking horns like fighting stags trying to enter and exit the rest rooms at the same time. A place to see and be seen, Royal Ascot attracts an army of Paparazzi snapping just about anybody in a big hat in case it proves to be somebody of note. Many visitors are oblivious to the racing as it interferes with the main business of the day, which is simply to be seen and quaff enough champagne to make those stilettos seem a less than good idea as they stagger back to the train station or limo. Celebs, royalty, politicians and the rest of us all rubbing shoulders in Racing's finest salute to the Thoroughbred. Strutting and snorting down the course in peacock finery and that doesn't include the horses.
Update 5174: Superfecta here, with your regular weekly update.
Today is the first day of Royal Ascot; before we get to the racing across the pond, we'll have a quick update of the past weekend's goings-on stateside. The was naturally disappointment in Camp Superfecta over Einstein's tough trip in the Stephen Foster (and let's give credit to Macho Again for putting in a fine performance), but the fact that Einstein still managed to get up for third after finally getting some racing room was heartening. Asiatic Boy definitely showed he's looking to make an impact on American racing as well with a nice second-place finish.
Off the track, Quality Road continues to work toward a return to the races, but it will be under a different trainer - he's been taken from Jimmy Jerkins and sent to Todd Pletcher (along with five of his stablemates, although not all went into a Pletcher barn). Make of that what you will. Friesan Fire is also recovering well from injury, although his return to training seems further in the future.
And so, to Ascot - first, the Queen Anne Stakes will likely produce a few Breeders' Cup Mile entrants; it featured Gladiatorus, whose effort in the Dubai Duty Free earned him the world's top racehorse ranking, as well as tough Paco Boy, who ended up winning despite doubts about his ability to handle the distance. It's difficult to know what to make of Gladiatorus after such a lackluster performance - perhaps he just doesn't like Royal Ascot. In case you are keeping track, the next set of rankings comes out on June 24th - in the last edition, Paco Boy was just under Mine That Bird (and two ahead of Rachel Alexandra). Clearly some serious number crunching is going to be taking place this week.
The King's Stand Stakes again proved that the Aussies produce great sprinters; favored Scenic Blast easily defeated tough Irish filly Fleeting Spirit and the rest of the field. (You may recall Fleeting Spirit finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint last year). This marks the fourth time a horse from Down Under has captured this race. Clearly, the 4-year-old gelding is ready to take on the mantle - if Takeover Target wants to give it up. (He'll be running on Saturday in the Golden Jubilee Stakes - and it's possible Scenic Blast will as well - but so far only Takeover Target is having a film made about his life).
The St. James's Palace Stakes was won last year by Henrythenavigator; this year, Mastercraftsman rewarded his many backers when the heavy favorite took the race. There would seem to be something of an iron-bound convention that an Aidan O'Brien trainee must win this race - Mastercraftsman is the sixth. Whether he will want to contest the Breeders' Cup Classic remains to be seen, however; one mile seems to be his ideal distance. His victory today was exciting, but very close - I would imagine he'd be sticking with the Breeders' Cup Mile come the fall if he makes the journey.
The Coventry Stakes was taken by Canford Cliffs; it's a bit early to say where the 2-year-olds will all fit but it's no bad thing to remain unbeaten - even if it's only in two starts. Some are already labeling him a freak, though, so he bears watching.
American-bred Judgethemoment won the 2-mile Ascot Stakes - who says we don't breed distance horses any more? That said, Judgethemoment is by Judge T C - the same Judge T C who went from a modest stud fee in New York to an even more modest $2500 in Pennsylvania (via a brief high spot in Kentucky) - he's now in Saudi Arabia. Someone got a deal. But there's some speed in his bloodline somewhere as well - his half-brother Olympic Express (also known as Ecclesiastical) won the Hong Kong Mile, the Hong Kong Derby and the Hong Kong Classic Mile. And just because this is the internet, I managed to scare up some pictures of Judgethemoment as a foal. And if you wanted to see his 2-year-old half sister by Street Cry, be my guest. Judgethemoment's trainer, Jane Chappel-Hyam, is doing awfully well, considering this is only her fourth year training on her own.
And finally for today, the Windsor Castle Stakes; while not quite as prestigious as the other races on the card, we can be proud that an actual American-based horse won - Strike The Tiger is a 2-year-old gelding trained by Wesley Ward. Given that there hasn't even been an American-trained runner since 2005, it's quite a coup - even if it's just in a listed stakes and not one of the Group 1 events scattered throughout the meet. John Velazquez was the winning jockey, so it's an American triumph all around. The second-place finisher, Fratellino, had quite an experience jump on the winner - today's race was already his eighth lifetime start. Ward has a number of other runners giving Royal Ascot a go (Cannonball already finished behind Scenic Blast earlier today) - it's a very good beginning.
Tomorrow's highlights should include the Jersey Stakes with Gallagher and Donativum, the Windsor Forest Stakes with Lush Lashes, the Prince of Wales's Stakes with Tartan Bearer and Vision D'etat and the Queen Mary Stakes featuring Capercaillie - or perhaps you'll want to back another Wesley Ward trainee in Jealous Again.
Check back Wednesday for more!
Update 5173: We had a bunch of workers today which meant I had an easy morning at Steve's. I galloped five, and they all galloped nicely. The weather is very nice too at the moment.
Quality Road, who was one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby before he was withdrawn from consideration due to foot troubles, has been transferred to Todd Pletcher's barn: Quality Road Sent to Pletcher.
And Royal Ascot begins today: EXPECTING AN ASCOT MASTER CLASS?
Update 5172: Here is the weekly ABR Facebook Group e-mail: Tweet this: OLEX, Rene Douglas, Paragallo's daughters, Premier Account, Pay Attention, Mine That Bird, Port Renfrew, Commentator, 3k horses saved, Einstein, Speed Whiz, Roger Stein, Rachel Alexandra, Paragallo and Lentenor.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:45 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 876
Posted June 15, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5171: My weekly contribution to Eclipse Magazine (UK): Alex Brown 16 June 2009.
Update 5170: A busy week for Barbaro's brothers. 2yo Lentenor had his first official work today: Lentenor Breezes 3 Furlongs at Fair Hill and Nicanor is running on Wednesday at Delaware Park: Nicanor to face winners on Wednesday.
Update 5169: From John Asher at Churchill Downs:
LIGHTS ... CAMERAS ... ACTION, SORT OF -- The temporary lights were aglow and the television cameras were ready to roll when the gates Churchill Downs' historic one-mile main track were opened for the first-ever session of training under the lights at the home of the Kentucky Derby on Monday at 4:57 a.m. (all times EDT).
Four minutes later, a set of three horses from the Bret Calhoun barn came on the track at the five-eighths gap led by Country Living. A little after that, the first worker of the day, Sok Sok from the Steve Asmussen barn, put in a five-furlong breeze in 1:04.60.
That paved the way for Asmussen's second worker, the brilliant Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) and Preakness (GI) winner Rachel Alexandra, who zipped through six furlongs in 1:12 under Dominic Terry.
The lights remained on until the 8 o'clock renovation break and everything was business as usual.
"It seems all right," jockey Larry Sterling Jr. said. "They may have to tweak a few things and the shadow from the rail could be a problem."
Jockey Jamie Theriot, who also worked some horses under the lights, concurred.
"It was good. They may have to make a couple of adjustments like maybe a different angle in spots," Theriot said. "But the good thing is the majority of the riders here have ridden under the lights, so it is not new to them."
Churchill Downs is set to conduct the first of its "Downs After Dark" night racings sessions - the first racing under the lights in the 135-year history of the track - on Friday, June 19. Other night race programs are scheduled for Friday, June 26 and Thursday, July 2. Post time for each of those racing programs is set for 6 p.m.
Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Mine That Bird was snoozing in his stall when the lights came on, unaffected by the illuminated barn area. At 7, he went to the track with regular morning partner Charlie Figueroa aboard and jogged once around the wrong way.
"He's doing great; I like what I see," trainer Chip Woolley said. "He'll continue to jog a day and walk a day until we begin to let him 'lope' on Monday."
Woolley got the track at 5:30 on Monday, a little earlier than usual, to check out the lights. Mine That Bird never has raced under the lights and Woolley said he called Mountaineer Casino Racetrack to be sure the Aug. 1 West Virginia Derby (Grade II) would be run during the day.
"I have had limited experience running horses at night, but if I had one running, I'd like them to see the lights," Woolley said. "I took a horse to Remington Park one time for trials and he never had seen lights. When he went to the gate, he was just looking up and when they sprang the latch he was not ready. The whole way down the lane he had his head up and never straightened it out to look ahead."
The morning's training activity under the temporary lights supplied by Iowa-based Musco Lighting received a strong "thumbs up" from Churchill Downs' Vice President of Operations David Sweazy.
"We're very pleased with the bleed over of lights on the racetrack and into the stands, the backside, the gaps and the infield. All early indications are positive. We've received feedback from horsemen and they're pleased," Sweazy said. "Late in the morning we had an issue with one of the trucks in the infield and a generator blew. That's why we test these things and have plenty of backups.
"(Musco Lighting) will do some tinkering of the lights on a couple of the turns where there were a few shadows. They'll do that tonight (between 9-11 p.m.) and we'll test them again tomorrow (during training between 4-8 a.m.) and be ready for Friday night."
John Veitch, Chief State Steward for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, also liked what he saw.
"From a safety standpoint, Churchill Downs has done a magnificent job in arranging and preparing the lighting," Veitch said. "From the standpoint of the commission, our duty is basically safety. It appears to be well organized, well coordinated certainly meets all of our high standards."
Update 5168: A reminder for next Monday: Reminder- Paragallo Court Date 6/22.
And tomorrow I am scheduled to interview Jockey's star, and leading Canadian jockey, Chantal Sutherland. Let me know if you have any questions for Chantal.
Update 5167: A gorgeous morning this morning at Woodbine. We had an easy morning's work with only five to gallop. All mine galloped nicely. Two also went to the gate for a little gate schooling.
Rachel Alexandra worked a strong 7/8ths this morning at Churchill Downs. She went in 1:24 and change which seems to be a pretty clear signal she is gearing up for another race in a couple of weeks if all goes well.
Update 5166: It is Royal Ascot this week. We will cover some of the meet: Ascot opens with three Group 1's.
Found on Paulick Report.
And each Monday I will be providing my picks for the top five horses in the U.S. For the first Monday here are the picks:
Einstein, Macho Again, Mine That Bird, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:55 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 875
Posted June 12, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5165: Off to the races at Woodbine!
Update 5164: Six sets this morning for Steve at Woodbine, and a straightforward morning's work. All mine galloped nicely. Lovely weather too for training. We have one runner this afternoon, so I will return to the races later.
Update 5163: Racing media reports of the Stephen Foster from yesterday:
Macho Again comes up big in Foster
Macho Again Denies Einstein in Foster
Macho Again captures Stephen Foster
And Seattle Smooth won her fifth race in a row to score her first Grade 1 Stakes win in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont Seattle Smooth powers to Ogden Phipps victory.
Update 5162: Macho Again won the Grade 1 Stephen Foster. Einstein, the favorite, got stuck behind horses and made a belated move.
Update 5161: Off to the races at Woodbine.
Update 5160: Here is my report from OLEX on Tuesday:
About 85 horses sold at OLEX. Slightly up versus the last few weeks. And there was also a good crowd in attendance. Two main kill buyers were bidding on horses and between them bought the majority, just over 45. The top meat price paid was 56 cents / pound for a very good looking chestnut of decent weight and fitness. Another decent looking horse went for 51 cents / pound for kill, so meat prices were certainly up a little bit this week. A few thoroughbred broodmares went through the sale this week. A good number of standard breds, which is certainly not unusual. Bottom prices for meat were at 20 cents / pound for one horse, and 21 cents / pound for another but overall prices were up.
Update 5159: Five sets this morning for Steve at Woodbine. And good weather too for training. No gate schoolers. All mine galloped nicely. We have a couple of runners this afternoon so lets hope for a little luck!
Update 5158: The biggest race for today is the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. Curlin won this race last year, defeating Einstein. 7yo Einsten, who appears to be better than ever, will be favorite to win the race this year. His most interesting rival will be the well traveled Asiatic Boy: Einstein Seeks History in Stephen Foster.
Update 5157: NYRA on today's win by Commentator:
COMMENTATOR COMES BACK BIG; EYES THIRD WHITNEY
By Francis LaBelle Jr.
ELMONT, N.Y. - Tracy Farmer's 8-year-old Commentator put himself back on schedule to pursue his third Whitney victory as he dusted four fellow New York-breds in the $66,250 Kashatreya for state-breds at a mile on Belmont Park's first "Party At The Park" Friday afternoon card of the season.
The Distorted Humor gelding popped out on the lead under jockey John Velazquez and set fractions of 24.75, 48.94 and 1:12.17 on the muddy track. Briefly challenged by Naughty New Yorker at the half-mile pole, Commentator drew off from his rivals to be a seven-length winner in1:35.65. Runner-up for the third straight time since his victory in the Empire Classic here last fall was Stud Muffin. Joe Corrigan, Naughty New Yorker and Commissioner Chris trailed.
Commentator, who returned $2.40 and topped a meet-low $2 exacta worth $4.30, began 2009 on April 18 when he tired as the pacesetter to run fourth in the Charles Town Classic. That was his first race since running third in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on November 28.
His victory on Friday now puts him back on target for Saratoga Race Course's Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney on Saturday, August 8. Five-time Horse of the Year Kelso, who won his third Whitney at age 8 in 1965, remains the oldest Whitney winner. With victories in the 2005 and 2008 Whitney, Commentator stands with Kelso and Discovery, who won the Whitney three years in a row from 1934-36, as the only repeat winners of one of Saratoga's biggest races.
"Now, that was more like it," said Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito after Commentator's victory on Friday. "Now, it's seven-and-a-half, eight weeks to the Whitney. Let me see how he does, because I might even squeeze something in between, maybe a month before. If not, we'll wait the eight weeks. Don't forget, he's still a New York-bred."
Commentator carried top weight of 126 pounds on Friday, spotting his rivals from four to six pounds.
"Stud Muffin, he won the (Empire) Classic, he's not a bad horse, neither is Naughty New Yorker," Zito said. "There's a lot of good things going on. To come home that fast, I don't care what anybody says, it's gratifying. He's some horse, no matter how you look at it. This is what we needed, this is what he needed."
Added Velazquez: "It was nice to have him back like that. He came back really good today, so that's what counts. It was an easy trip for me!"
Update 5156: Railbird here, with your weekly update.
With Triple Crown season over, attention turns to older horses and campaigns that'll lead to appearances in the Breeders' Cup. Second season gets off to a strong start this weekend, with several notable stakes around the country.
At Monmouth, six graded stakes winners are entered in the Monmouth Stakes, which was won by Big Brown in his final career start last September. This year, the track has moved the race to June to make it more of a prep for the July 4 United Nations Stakes. G1 winner Grand Couturier, making his belated 2009 debut, and local star Presious Passion, winner of the 2008 United Nations, head a field that also includes GII winners Proudinsky and Strike a Deal, and GIII winners Kiss the Kid and Buddy's Humor. There's no lack of class or speed in this race.
In the Ogden Phipps at Belmont, the headliner is Music Note, making her first start since finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Distaff behind Zenyatta and Cocoa Beach. The 4-year-old filly won the Mother Goose, Coaching Club American Oaks, and Gazelle Stakes over the surface last year and her final work leading into Saturday was a solid four furlongs in :48.24. But returning from a seven-month break is a challenge for any horse, and even though only six others are entered, two are particularly tough: Apple Blossom winner Seventh Street and Shuvee winner Seattle Smooth both come into the Phipps in excellent form.
An even dozen will start in the Californian at Hollywood, including Mervyn LeRoy winner Ball Four and the previously undefeated Rail Trip. Also entered in this traditional prep for the Hollywood Gold Cup is Mast Track, winless since last year's Gold Cup, and millionaire Awesome Gem, a gelding perpetually in the money but rarely in the winner's circle.
There are five graded stakes on the Churchill card Saturday, but two especially stand out: In the Fleur de Lis, Santa Maria Handicap winner Santa Teresita faces Miss Isella, who beat One Caroline in the Louisville Distaff, and Distinctive Dixie, stepping up in class, but sharp and speedy. In the Stephen Foster, Einstein attempts to make history by earning a G1 win over dirt (he would then be the second horse to have achieved G1 wins over three surfaces, something only Lava Man has done so far). He'll face Researcher, who beat Commentator in the April Charles Town Classic, and Asiatic Boy, winner of nearly $3 million making his US debut.
And don't forget, today in race three at Belmont (post time 4:00 pm ET), Commentator preps for the Whitney by taking on Naughty New Yorker, making his first start since the 2008 Suburban, and three other New York-breds in the ungraded Kashatreya Stakes.
Update 5155: As a self-proclaimed social media geek, I found this particularly interesting: GOOD NEWS FRIDAY sponsored by Liberation Farm: SOCIAL NETWORKING FOR A CAUSE.
Update 5154: A little chilly early this morning, but it is turning into a beautiful day here at Woodbine. We had five sets, so a nice and easy morning's work. A couple of mine also went to the gate for some schooling. No problems there. A very straightforward and pleasant morning.
Update 5153: A nice story about the retirement of Pay Attention, a Top Bunk listed horse: West Manchester Township woman provides love, home for former race horse.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:50 AM
| Comments (87)
Barbaro Updates: 874
Posted June 11, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5152: Nicanor is back on the work tab, and his younger brother is close to a work at Fair Hill: Nicanor Breezes Again; Lentenor Work Also Set.
Mine That Bird returned to the track today for the first time since his nice effort in the Belmont Stakes: Mine That Bird Returns to Track.
And we had a nice 2yo winner today at Woodbine, Always Wildcatin'.
Update 5151: Off to the races!
Update 5150: Seven sets this morning for Steve at Woodbine. Four before the break and then three that did some gate schooling. They all galloped nicely, and those that schooled schooled well. A pleasant morning, although the barn was a little "tired" after racing last night. But getting a winner helped move things along.
Update 5149: Birdstone, in his first season with 3yo runners, has sired both Mine That Bird and Summer Bird. Steve Haskin reproduces a piece he wrote about Birdstone in 2004 after his Belmont win: Bird of Prey.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:49 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 873
Posted June 10, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5148: Ernie Paragallo's daughters have relinquished their New York licenses. Paragallo faces 22 counts of animal cruelty which may result in time in jail: Paragallo's Daughters Relinquish Licenses.
Off to the races at Wooodbine.
Update 5147: The Rail is over for another year: So Long Till Next Year.
Update 5146: A very pleasant and easy morning this morning for Steve at Woodbine. We had five sets. Two went to the gate after the break. All galloped nicely under decent enough weather. Not summer weather, but decent enough. We have three runners tonight, so lets hope for a little luck!
Update 5145: Overbrook Farm, which stood the prolific Storm Cat, is shutting down: Overbrook Farm to Disperse Stock.
Steve Haskin wraps up the Belmont: Haskin's Belmont Wrapup: Avian Adventures.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:49 AM
| Comments (44)
Barbaro Updates: 872
Posted June 9, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5144: Superfecta here, with your regular weekly update.
While the dust settles from the Triple Crown and many of the 3-year-olds take a little break (literally, in the case of Dunkirk, who is having surgery for a left hind fracture - although with luck he should be back in the fall - although it still adds fuel to the Unbridled's Song = 'soft bones' thesis), the focus shifts back to the older horses.
This coming weekend's big feature is the Stephen Foster, in which Einstein has been assigned the high weight of 124 pounds. You may recall that Einstein finished second to ex-stablemate Curlin in this race last year, so I am very much hoping he finally wins it. There should be some serious competition from horses such as Arson Squad and I'm curious to see where Macho Again stands in relation to his elders (even if it occasionally seems he's the only horse still in training from last year's Triple Crown series). But perhaps the most interesting (non-Einstein) entrant will be Asiatic Boy in his US debut. He's been sent from Dubai after a miserable finish in the Dubai World Cup but previous success in the desert under the care of Mike de Kock - will the Dubai bounce affect a horse who has never raced in the US before?
We will have more later in the week on Einstein and the other Stephen Foster participants, as well as a little bit of catching up with the 3-year-olds across the pond, so do check back.
Finally, Dana has clips of some amazing Super 8 footage of Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed in their respective Belmont post parades - check it out!
Update 5143: Steve Byk, from Sirius's At The Races and Beyond, sent me the following e-mail this morning confirming the injury to Dunkirk:
Non-displaced condylar fracture of left hind. He has surgery scheduled today.
Update 5142: Weekly contribution to Eclipse Magazine (UK): Alex Brown 9 June 2009.
Update 5141: A day off this morning from Woodbine!
Here is this week's ABR Facebook e-mail: E-mail 28: The Belmont, Paulick Report, California Rescue, Ajax, Wiki, Twitter, Woodbine Oaks.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 12:04 PM
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Barbaro Updates: 871
Posted June 8, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5140: My final 2009 contribition for The Rail: Another Season in the Books.
Update 5139: Off to teach "First Time Starters @ Woodbine."
Update 5138: From Churchill Downs:
MINE THAT BIRD RETURNS TO CHURCHILL DOWNS
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Monday, June 8, 2009) - Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird returned to Churchill Downs on Monday morning after his third-place finish in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (Grade I).
Mine That Bird was unloaded in front of Barn 40 at 10:40 a.m. and walked back to Barn 42 by exercise rider Charlie Figueroa. Mine That Bird grazed for 20 minutes before being led back into Stall 22, which has been his home here since he arrived on April 21 for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands.
"It was an uneventful flight and he handled the trip well," trainer Chip Woolley said. "He came out of the Belmont great. He has held up well and hasn't lost any weight. I am tickled with where he is at now."
Woolley said he has not decided on when Mine That Bird will return to the track.
"He is definitely going to walk for three or four days and then I may back-track him a couple of days to get the kinks out," Woolley said.
Future plans for Mine That Bird, owned by Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine, remain on hold.
"I want to watch him the next three or four days and make sure everything is well," Woolley said. "If it is, we'll come out with a plan. We have not made a decision, but there are six options we are looking at."
Woolley said he plans to stay in Louisville through the weekend, when he, jockey Calvin Borel and owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach will receive their Kentucky Derby trophies between live races on Saturday's Reunion Day featuring the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.
"My brother Bill may come in after that and that will give me and Charlie a chance to go home to New Mexico," Woolley said.
Update 5137: Rachel Alexandra worked this morning at Churchill Downs:
RACHEL ALEXANDRA WORKS SIX FURLONGS AT CHURCHILL DOWNS;
NO DECISION YET ON NEXT START FOR STAR 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Monday, June 8, 2009) - Preakness Stakes (Grade I) and Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Rachel Alexandra turned in solid six-furlong workout Monday at Churchill Downs as the team behind the 3-year-daughter of Medaglia d'Oro considers her next start.
Rachel Alexandra covered the distance over a "fast" track in 1:13.80. Regular exercise rider Dominic Terry was in the saddle as Churchill Downs clockers caught her in fractions of :13, :25.60, :37.60, :49.40 and 1:01.20. She galloped out seven furlongs in 1:28.
Trainer Steve Asmussen was happy with the move, but said there's no decision yet from majority owner Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables regarding Rachel Alexandra's next start.
"She went a nice, smooth three quarters," Asmussen said. "She went beautiful, like she always does. She's in a nice rhythm and seems very happy right now. We'll report back to Jess and the gang and see what we do next."
Jackson had earlier mentioned Belmont Park's Mother Goose (GI) on Saturday, June 27 as one option for Rachel Alexandra. The Mother Goose is a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies.
Rachel Alexandra has won six consecutive races, with her victory over Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in the Preakness being her latest triumph. She has a career record of 8-2-0 in 11 races and has earned $1,618,354.
Update 5136: Eight sets this morning for Steve at Woodbine. Decent weather made for a very pleasant morning's work. All mine galloped nicely. A couple also went to the gate for some schooling. And schooled well. The barn was in good humor this morning after another winner. A very straightforward morning's work.
Update 5135: It was Oaks day yesterday at Woodbine, and a fun afternoon at the races. We capped a great weekend for us here with a win with Salty Langfuhn. A very cool horse, who won his second race for the meet. Milwaukee Appeal won the Oaks itself, in pretty good fashion. She beat the favorite, Tasty Temptation, who dwelt leaving the starting gate: Milwaukee Appeal shines in Woodbine Oaks.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:50 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 870
Posted June 5, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5134: Belmont Stakes notes the day after:
BELMONT STAKES NOTES
ELMONT, N.Y. - Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird obviously loves New York - so much so, that he could return this summer to run at Saratoga Race Course in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes and the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers Stakes.
"We've discussed the Jim Dandy and the Travers with the owners (Drs. Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman)," said winning trainer Tim Ice, his voice still hoarse Sunday morning from cheering Summer Bird home in Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million race. "If we go, like we did for the Belmont, we'll go ahead of time, ship up a month before the (August 1) Jim Dandy.
"People tell me you have to go to two places - Del Mar and Saratoga," said Ice, who took out his trainer's license 14 months ago. "I've been to Del Mar, and to take a horse like this and go to Saratoga would be amazing."
Summer Bird, who was making only his fifth career start in the Belmont, came out of the mile-and-a-half race in great shape, said Ice.
"I had him grazing for two hours," he said. "He looks great."
Ice, who celebrated his 35th birthday Saturday, said he thought there were several factors that contributed to Summer Bird's victory, the second of his brief career.
"He had five weeks off, the horse is maturing, the jockey (Kent Desormeaux) is a Hall of Famer who knows Belmont Park and was our best shot, and I'm glad I came here early," he said. "It took the horse a week to get used to the track. After I saw him train here the first three days, I put toe grabs on him (in back), and of course right after the Derby we were going to put blinkers on, and he was up closer.
"He's done nothing but give me confidence," he added. "When he two-minute-clipped on Wednesday, he put confidence in me."
Summer Bird, a homebred son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone, will leave New York on Monday and be flown to Louisville. From there, he will be vanned to Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., Ice's home base.
"I have about 25 horses there, and I picked up two new owners just in the weeks I've been here," said Ice. "This whole thing is unbelievable. Watching the horse come down the stretch was like an out-of-body experience."
While the mood at Mine That Bird's barn on Sunday morning was somewhat subdued, Mine That Bird himself showed no signs of exhaustion for his impressive effort running third in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
"He feels awful good this morning," said trainer Chip Woolley "Awful bright and bouncing - he's ready to get out and go do something."
One look at the little gelding walking around the barn, peering inquisitively at the small crowd gathered outside bore this statement out. His trainer, stretched out in a lawn chair complete with footrest and cup holder for coffee, admitted a touch of fatigue.
"Talk about whipped," Woolley said. "About halfway through dinner last night I just said 'Guys, I'm done,' and I'm not that type at all. I couldn't believe how I hit a wall last night. I never thought I'd be sitting here sort of down about running third in the Belmont - this has been a lifetime dream."
Although he is understandably disappointed by the loss, Woolley keeps it in perspective.
"When he was making for the lead as they turned for home, I was thinking "We're in trouble," Woolley said. "It was just too early to make the lead here and I was really concerned we'd used a little too much horse in the turn. If you move too early with this horse, his past history shows he comes up empty. Tim (Ice, trainer of winning Summer Bird) is a great guy and he deserves to win. He's done a nice job with his horse."
Mine That Bird may not have come home a winner on Saturday, but his trainer is as impressed as ever with the son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone.
"There's only one three-year-old this year who made it through all three of these races and was right there all three times," Woolley said. "The horse showed up every time. He's the same horse he was when I led him over to the Derby and I'm in love with what I saw here."
Mine That Bird will ship back to Churchill Downs at 6 a.m. Monday, and Woolley said they planned to spend the week in Kentucky and was still discussing Mine That Bird's future with owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach. He hopes to get two good races into the gelding before the Breeders' Cup in November.
"We'll see what fits his schedule best," Woolley said. "I'd rather keep him on dirt and against other three-year-olds. It may be a couple of days before we make a hard decision, and we'll definitely for sure give him eight weeks off now. There's a lot of opportunity out here [on the East Coast] more than anything out West, even in California."
Woolley named the Grade 2 $500,000 Jim Dandy or the Grade 1 $1 million Travers at Saratoga Race Course among the options he was considering for Mine That Bird, but said the welfare of the horse would dictate his next move.
Belmont Stakes second-place finisher Dunkirk showed no signs of fatigue this morning at trainer Todd Pletcher's barn. Dunkirk set the pace through a mile before dropping back, then coming back again to finish ahead of Mine That Bird by a neck.
"He put in a big effort and was tired after the race," Pletcher said. "His energy levels seem to be up. He was bright and alert this morning. I was proud of his determination. It looked like at the quarter pole he was going to be surrounded by the [Kentucky] Derby winner and the Peter Pan winner [Charitable Man], but he fought back. I have to give him a lot of credit for doing something like that.
The Belmont was the fifth start for the $3.7 million son of Unbridled's Song. Since winning his debut less than five months ago in Florida, Dunkirk won an allowance race and ran a game second to Quality Road in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.
"We felt back as far as November he was a top-class horse," Pletcher said. "When he broke his maiden in January, we were thinking about races like this [The Belmont]. He's still probably a race behind his schedule."
Pletcher's goal for Dunkirk is Saratoga Race Course's marquee race of the meet - the Shadwell Travers - as well as the Jim Dandy.
"The Travers is a key race for us," he said. "The question is how we are going to get there. It's going to be either the Jim Dandy or the Haskell. We think it's ideal to give him two months of spacing in between races. The three-year-old picture is still open. We'll have to see if someone steps up and strings a couple of victories together."
Trainer Kiaran McLauglin, though disappointed with Charitable Man's fourth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, said the horse came back in relatively good shape.
"He got nicked up a little, but otherwise, he's okay," McLaughlin said. "I said before the race that I wouldn't trade places with anyone, and I still feel that way. He is a nice horse. I think the race track had a speed bias and the complexion [of the race] changed a lot when Dunkirk went to the lead."
McLaughlin said he would regroup and look to races like Saratoga’s Grade 2, $250,000 Jim Dandy at nine furlongs on August 1, and the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers on Saturday, Saturday, August 29 or possibly Monmouth Park’s Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational on August 2.
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito said that both of his Belmont Stakes runners - seventh-place finisher Brave Victory and 10th-place finisher Miner's Escape - were doing well this morning, although he admits that Brave Victory was particularly lucky.
"He got jumped on, and there is a gash on the back of his knee," said Zito holding his thumb and index finger about an inch apart. "He missed nicking his tendon by this much.
"Miner's Escape never had a chance. He stumbled and got squeezed at the start and Dunkirk got the jump on him. I don't know if we're ready for the big races later this summer, but those are the ones we like to run in. We'll give them some time and see where they take us."
Trainer Eoin Harty was still disappointed in Mr. Hot Stuff's eighth-place finish in the Belmont. Mr. Hot Stuff, who was showed promise with third-place finishes in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby and the Grade 3 Sham, raced close to the pace before fading after a mile.
"It didn't work out to what we had expected," Harty said. "We'll take him back to California, start him easy, and see if he shows up again."
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer of ninth-place Belmont Stakes finisher Chocolate Candy, has already returned to California but reports that the horse is doing well. Chocolate Candy is scheduled to ship out of Belmont on Monday.
Update 5133: Eight sets this morning for Steve at Woodbine. And a very pleasant morning's work. All mine galloped nicely, which included a couple of new horses here that shipped in a couple of days ago. A couple of these horses were here last year, so it is good to see them return. Lots of chatter this morning about The Belmont. Many blaming the odd ride of Calvin Borel for making Mine That Bird's task difficult. Overall a fun morning. We have a couple of runners this afternoon, so hope for a bit of luck!
Update 5132: Media coverage of The Belmont:
Summer Bird Ends Borel's Quest for a Sweep
SUMMER BIRD UPSETS THE BELMONT
Summer Bird surprises in Belmont
Summer Bird, Desormeaux Soar to Belmont Upset
Summer Bird soars to Belmont upset.
And at Woodbine yesterday we had a winner, which was nice. And the feature race was won by Ice Bear under terrific handling by Chantal Sutherland: Ice Bear denies Marchfield in Eclipse Stakes.
Update 5131: My assessment of the Belmont, The Rail: It's All About Tactics.
Update 5130: Summer Bird takes the Belmont. Odd tactics from Dunkirk and Mine That Bird did not help.
Update 5129: Sue McMullen on the Epsom Derby today:
Racing loves a superstar so when the aptly named Sea the Stars strode imperiously around the parade ring before the 2,000 Guineas, an imposing bay colt who could just as easily have graced the show ground, he looked every inch a star in the making. Possessed of the 'look of eagles', used to describe an attitude and bearing often seen in very good horses, Sea the Stars lived up to his name and appearance, barely breaking sweat as he travelled like the wrath of God through Newmarket's Rowley Mile to bag the first Classic of the season.
The scene was set for Epsom and the facile manner of his victory at Newmarket suggested all he had to do today was show up and aside from the little matter of the battalion from Ballydoyle, the only question mark over his noble, equine head was the distance. Some believed he wouldn't stay those extra, stamina-sapping furlongs. But others pointed to his royal lineage, half brother to duel Derby winner Galileo and 'mum' Urban Sea won the Prix de l'arc de Triomphe over the Derby trip.
Racing loves these endless debates about distances and the fact remains that until horses hit the turf, nobody really knows. Watching Sea the Stars stroll around the parade ring, cool, interested but totally unfazed by it all, any lingering doubts seemed unworthy. The script had surely been written and racing's latest hero was about to claim his crown. No horse had won the 2,000 Guineas and Derby since Nashwan 20 years ago, but Sea the Stars was oblivious to the statistics as yet again he stamped his superiority over this year's Classic crop, sweeping around Tattenham corner beautifully balanced and engaging overdrive as he powered to the post.
Trained by Irish maestro John Oxx, the softly-spoken, modest handler of a host of fabulous horses including the 2000 Derby winner Sinndar, Sea the Stars is now likely to tread the same path as his half-brother Galileo and go for the double.
"He's always been special, from the first time I saw him as a yearling", said Oxx. "He's a very intelligent horse and everything we did with him came easy to him. Some horses look the part but they let you down, he's never let us down.
"I was never very anxious at any time during the race because he was going so well and when Mick sent him on I knew he wouldn't stop as he'd been going too well for too long. He could win at any distance. He could go back to a mile but ten furlongs is probably perfect for him."
Led away by jubilant grooms to celebrate with hand-picked fresh grass, racing's latest hero wore his crown very well.
Update 5128: My assessment of today's Belmont for The Rail: Mine That Bird's Competition Is Rested.
Update 5127: 2000 Guineas winner Sea The Stars won the Epsom Derby this afternoon: SEA THE STARS WINS EPSOM DERBY.
Update 5126: Guest Commentary on Paulick Report: SELLING HORSES BY THE POUND.
An easy morning this morning at Woodbine for Steve. We only had four sets, and no gate schooling. All mine galloped nicely for a pleasant start to the day. Gorgeous weather too!
And a great interview with Jeannine Edwards, who will be covering the Belmont Stakes today: Edwards' love for horses, sport still shines through.
Update 5125: Belmont picks from The Rail: Our Belmont Picks. And Steve Haskin's view: Haskin's Belmont Picks: No Dunkirk Evacuation.
Aside from The Bemont Stakes today, and the fantastic undercard at Belmont, we also have the Epsom Derby in England: FAME IS THE SPUR AT EPSOM.
Update 5124: Belmont Stakes picks on Horserace Insider: 2009 Belmont Stakes Media Selections.
Update 5123: Railbird here, with your weekly update.
And this one will be short, as I point to Foolish Pleasure and Superfecta, both of whom have written superb round-ups of the racing this Friday and Saturday.
Other than the Belmont Stakes, the two races I'm most interested in are the Manhattan Handicap, in which Better Talk Now, winless since the 2007 Manhattan, attempts to become the first 10-year-old to score a G1 victory, and the Woody Stephens, which has drawn an intriguing field of talented 3-year-old sprinters, including two undefeated starters (Hull and Everyday Heroes), Hello Broadway, and Regal Ransom, making his first start since finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby.
As for the Belmont, like Steve Haskin, I've become smitten with Mine That Bird, the little gelding who left me stunned and confused on the first Saturday in May. Watching the Derby winner at Belmont this rainy morning confirmed for me he's ready to run again. Not only did he appear to glide smoothly over the sloppy track, he looked fresh, as though the rigors of the past five weeks have taken nothing out of him. While mostly well behaved as he was being bathed and walked, Mine That Bird, draped in a Kentucky Derby blanket, couldn't resist a bit of playful bucking as he was led around the shedrow. "It'll take a good horse to beat him this Saturday," rider Calvin Borel said on Thursday, and I saw nothing today to make me doubt the rider's words.
Update 5122: Off to the races at Woodbine!
Update 5121: A gorgeous morning this morning at Woodbine. We had six sets for Steve. Three before the break and then three after the break that each schooled in the starting gate. All galloped nicely and schooled nicely for a very straightforward morning's work.
Update 5120: A fun evening yesterday spent at the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Plaques of the 2008 inductees were unveiled, which included those of trainer Bob Tiller and stallion phenom Smart Strike. And the 2009 inductees were formally introduced, which included Somebeachsomewhere, who I got to see race one time last year.
We also won the last race yesterday with Officer Rocket, so all in all a great day spent at Woodbine.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:40 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 869
Posted June 4, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5119: Off to the races, and then the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Wine & Cheese, celebrating the formal announcement of the 2009 Horse Racing Hall of Fame Inductees. Should be fun!
Update 5118: Joe Drape breaks down the Belmont Stakes: Joe Drape's Belmont Picks.
Update 5117: NYRA update:
"BIRD" HAS HIS FIRST GALLOP AT BELMONT
ELMONT, N.Y. - Under a light drizzle, Belmont Stakes morning-line favorite Mine That Bird had his first tour of Belmont Park's 11/2-mile oval Thursday morning, galloping briskly over the sloppy, sealed track just after 7 a.m.
Trainer Chip Woolley and owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach were on hand as the Kentucky Derby winning gelding, who was second in the Preakness, fairly skipped over the surface as he came down the middle of the stretch, as the inside part of the track was closed for training, with exercise rider Carlos Figueroa up.
"He gets over it so easy - that's what I was hoping for," said Woolley, who immediately afterward departed with the owners to ring the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange, along with jockey Calvin Borel. "He carries it with him wherever he goes. He loped through the stretch real easy. If there's a track he doesn't like, we haven't found it yet."
Mine That Bird, the 2-1 morning line favorite, arrived at Belmont Park at 4 p.m. on Wednesday following an uneventful flight from Louisville, Ky., a departure in travel style from the first two legs of the Triple Crown, for which Woolley personally drove him by horse van from New Mexico to Churchill Downs and from there to Baltimore for the Preakness.
Mine That Bird will face nine other three-year-olds in the 141st running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, which is scheduled to go off at 6:27 p.m. (EDT), with ABC covering the race live from 5 to 7 p.m.
Charitable Man, the second choice on the morning line at 3-1 in the 11/2-mile Belmont, jogged twice around the training track Thursday morning at 8 a.m. with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin looking on.
"With the rain, the training track seemed to be a little better, because they race over there and seal it a little tighter," said McLaughlin, who trains the Grade 2 Peter Pan winner for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren, Jr. "I don't know what we'll do tomorrow because of the rain. He's fit, but ideally speaking, we'd like to gallop over a fast track, just to keep him in a routine. We don't mind running on a sloppy track, but there's no money in the morning, so we don't train on it."
The Warrens will be visiting Anna House, the child care center located on Belmont Park's backstretch, on Friday around 10:15 a.m. There they will be presented with two posters made by the center's preschoolers wishing Charitable Man good luck in Saturday's race. The Warrens recently donated $10,000 to Anna House in honor of McLaughlin, who is being recognized by the Belmont Child Care Association this summer for his long-standing and continued support.
Trainer Todd Pletcher guaranteed it would not rain on Belmont Stakes Day.
"I would not allow it to rain on Saturday," said Pletcher, whose Dunkirk, the third choice on the morning line at 4-1 for Saturday's race, galloped over the main track. "He handled it well this morning. If it were a drying-out track, a sticky, gooey track, then I would be concerned.
"But I don't anticipate it would be an off-track unless it rains Saturday," added Pletcher, who trains Dunkirk for Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith. "This track dries out pretty quickly."
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent his Belmont duo of Luv Gov and Flying Private out early morning Thursday morning and later was happy to continue sharing his thoughts on restructuring the Triple Crown.
"It's the time in between races that we all struggle with," said Lukas, who has saddled four Belmont winners. "Nowadays, you need to run in two Grade 1 races to even get into the Derby - back in the 1940s, Calumet Farm would send their horses in schooling races to get them ready for the Derby."
Lukas proposed at Wednesday morning's draw that the Derby be run on the first Saturday in May, the Preakness go off during Memorial Day weekend, the Belmont be moved to Independence Day and that the Shadwell Travers, run the last weekend in August, be added to the series.
"Nothing is going to take away from the Derby, but if you figure that the media capital is in New York, you would then have three races in the East," said Lukas, who trains Luv Gov for Marylou Whitney Stables and Flying Private for Robert C. Baker and William L. Mack.
The other "bird" in the Belmont, Kalarikkal and Vilasni Jayaraman's Summer Bird, jogged around the main track and stood in the starting gate as trainer Tim Ice put the finishing touches on the colt's preparations for Saturday's race.
The chestnut colt was full of energy as exercise rider Chris Trosclair cooled him out, and Ice was hopeful he would be able to gallop Summer Bird Friday morning.
"Yesterday (a mile gallop followed by a blow-out through the stretch) took nothing out of him," said Ice. "If the track is sloppy, he'll jog, but I'm hoping it's all right. He needed a gallop today but I didn't want to do it. If I jog him tomorrow, I may have to jog him three miles."
Summer Bird will be the second Belmont starter for the Jayaramans, both of whom are doctors. In 1989, Hall of Famer Leroy Jolley trained Irish Actor for the Jayaramans, and he finished eighth behind Easy Goer in the Belmont Stakes.
Trainer Eoin Harty sent Mr. Hot Stuff, who arrived Wednesday afternoon on the same flight as Mine That Bird, out on the training track Thursday morning.
"He looked like a million dollars and he'll win by 20," joked Harty of the WinStar colt, who was 15th in the Derby in his first start on dirt. "Seriously, he went well. I don't know what I will do tomorrow with him. I will call God and see what he has planned (weather-wise)."
The Craig Family Trust's Chocolate Candy, who came to Belmont Park directly from Churchill Downs, where he finished fifth in the Derby, galloped Thursday morning on the main track with exercise rider Lindsey Molina aboard.
"I didn't want to run all those [Triple Crown] races in a row," said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, explaining his decision to skip the Preakness. "I never planned on running in Preakness and all along point to this race, though we might have gotten more pressure to run in the Preakness if he'd done better in Derby."
Chocolate Candy schooled Wednesday and, weather permitting, was to school Thursday afternoon in the paddock as well.
"We did fine, so I'm not too worried about that," said Hollendorfer. "I hadn't seen him on a sloppy track here until today, and I thought he got over track fine."
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito sent his two Belmont Stakes starters for owner Robert V. LaPenta - Miner’s Escape and Brave Victory - out on the training track this morning.
"Everything is cool," Zito said. "They galloped and jogged about two miles and everything is going the way it's supposed to."
Zito has saddled 20 Belmont Stakes starters, winning the "Test of the Champion" twice with Birdstone in 2004 and Da' Tara last year.
Update 5116: Another chilly start to the day, but it seems to be warming up nicely for the races this afternoon. I had nine to gallop this morning for Steve at Woodbine. Three also went to the gate for a little gate schooling. All schooled well and galloped well for a straightforward morning's work.
The rider that was hurt yesterday at the track was back galloping today, so all was well with her. Another rider who was hurt riding quarter horses the night before is not so lucky. I think she has broken her pelvis.
Update 5115: Steve Haskin looks at how the Belmont Stakes race may set up: Haskin's Belmont Report: Pace Makes the Race .
Paulick Report provides it's Belmont picks, which include mine: PAULICK BELMONT INDEX by AmWest Entertainment: 'BIRD' FINALLY GETS RESPECT.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:46 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 868
Posted June 3, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5114: NYRA Update:
MINE THAT BIRD ARRIVES FOR BELMONT STAKES
ELMONT, N.Y. - After a smooth and uneventful flight from Louisville, Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird arrived at Belmont Park just before 4 p.m. for his engagement in Saturday's 141st running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes.
Trainer Chip Woolley and a throng of photographers and reporters were on hand to greet the little gelding, who is the solid favorite over nine other 3-year-olds in the 1 1/2-mile "Test of the Champion."
On crutches, Woolley hobbled up the ramp to the horse van that brought Mine That Bird from John F. Kennedy International Airport, and after ascertaining all was well, told him, "Welcome to New York." With cameras following his every move, Mine That Bird then was brought to graze outside his barn.
"This is a lot different than when I arrived at Churchill Downs," said Woolley with a smile. "Nobody even came to see me for the first week."
Woolley said Mine That Bird would go out for his first trip around Belmont Park's 11/2-mile oval at 7 a.m. Thursday. Immediately afterwards, Woolley, jockey Calvin Borel and owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach will depart the track to travel to New York to ring the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
Update 5113: Nicanor was back on the work tab today. He was entered but did not get in a race at Belmont for Saturday: Nicanor Works at Fair Hill; Entered at Belmont.
Update 5112: Today's contribution to The Rail, related to the theft of Mine That Bird's papers yesterday: For Every Horse, a Paper Trail.
Update 5111: NYRA: Trainer quotes from the Post Position draw:
Chip Woolley, Mine That Bird (No. 7) "The No. 7 is fine with me. My horse is going to back out of it anyway, so it's not going to be a factor."
"If you watch Mine That Bird run, his stride is bigger than most horses. He has a huge stride and gets over the ground real easy ... With his running style, we're going to have to let him run his race. But the good thing here is, when you start slowing the fractions down, if you let him run his same race, he's going to move way up. If we can just be within 10 to 12 of them, I'm confident he'll have enough kick left."
"When I watched the replays of his races last year, he'd stop and restart like it was nothing. One win, he was on his left lead the whole way ... before the Derby, Calvin watched the replays and saw this horse had a lot more to give than appeared (on paper)."
(On Calvin's guarantee of victory) "That's just Calvin. I'm fine with that. I love a man who's confident and he'll be comfortable when he gets on the horse, because he won't be afraid."
Nick Zito, Brave Victory (No. 10) and Miner's Escape (No. 9): "They both had good winters. They both have good chances. I think they're live longshots. They've had two good races in a row. I think they're going to run well. The only thing, sometimes leading up to the Triple Crown can take a lot out of the horse. These two particular horses may have that in their favor - they might not be as good as the Mine That Birds or Charitable Mans, but on the other hand, they didn't have the rigors of the Triple Crown (prep) races leading up to the Derby ... If we have them the way we think we have them, and they're strong, who knows, maybe lightning strikes twice. We've been lucky in this race, and hopefully everything will work out OK."
"If we don't win, we certainly are rooting for the connections of Mine That Bird and Summer Bird (both are sons of Birdstone, whom Zito trained to victory in the 2004 Belmont)."
Kiaran McLaughlin, Charitable Man (No. 6): "Our horse couldn't be doing any better. We're very excited. Charitable Man should be on or near the lead. We'll let Alan (Garcia) decide where he's going to lay early. He's a young jockey with a lot of success - I like the fact he won the Met Mile and the Vagrancy and went to Canada and won a $300,000 race for Christophe Clement -- his confidence level is high, and he won the Belmont last year."
"I wouldn't trade places with anyone."
"Everyone said you have to have tactical speed, but we won (the Belmont) with Jazil coming from behind. With a little bit of racing luck, Mine That Bird could be going for a Triple Crown."
Todd Pletcher, Dunkirk (No. 2): "After all the dust settled after the Derby, we looked at all the possibilities. We felt like John Velazquez has been our go-to guy for a long time and we've had a lot of success together, including this race, so we made the choice to go with him."
"I felt going into the Derby this is a very good horse. At the beginning of the race out of the gate, he stumbled, and when he did get to the first turn, he got squeezed back and lost position, and I felt he never ran to his capabilities. He is training very well. He's put on some weight since the Derby. I stand by the fact he's a very high-quality horse."
(On his bullet work :47 1/5 on May 18) "That's not really my style of training, but it shows how talented he is."
D. Wayne Lukas, Flying Private (No. 8), Luv Gov (No. 5): "I think it takes a special horse (to win the Belmont). All of them run a mile-and-a-half, some take a little longer. The thing about it is, I think it's the style of the horse, and of course there's a gut-check with the pedigree about the quarter-pole, too. We think we have a couple of horses that fit the mold, at least in my opinion, to be competitive."
(On revamping the Triple Crown): "I think what we need to do in racing is keep the field together to develop a fan base. I would say you don't have to change the distance ... But it would be my proposal to keep our fields together, to maybe run the first Saturday in May, go ahead and run then mile and a quarter. Then maybe go to Memorial Day weekend, run the mile and three-sixteenths, and make this a Fourth of July celebration and run a mile-and-a-half here and even add Travers the last week of August, make it a four-race series?"
Eoin Harty, Mr. Hot Stuff (No. 3):"I have no idea (how he will handle the surface). We'll throw him in there and see what happens."
"I have three things to say: Edgar Prado chose our horse over Dunkirk. I don't want to change the Triple Crown. And I loved the potato joke.*"
Tim Ice, Summer Bird (No. 4): "The Arkansas Derby was his third race, and he showed enough to give him a chance. In the Derby, he had a wide trip. There were 19 horses in the field, and two birds were trying to surround everyone - Mine That Bird on the inside and Summer Bird on the outside."
"We worked him seven-eighths to give him a good work, see how he handled it. He was a little uncomfortable over the track, and when he came back and worked five-eighths, he worked five-eighths much better. I'm very hopeful And I'm very confident."
*The Potato Joke, as told by Tom Durkin
Once there was a very regal potato who married another potato of equally stellar lineage. Eventually they had a little baby girl potato, a sweet potato. When the princess potato grew up, she announced to her parents she wished to marry Walter Cronkite.
"Absolutely not!" said her royal parents.
"But why? Why can't I marry Walter Cronkite?" she asked.
"Because," replied her father, "he's a common tater."
Update 5110: Belmont Stakes draw and morning line: Mine That Bird 2-1 favorite.
Update 5109: Six sets this morning for Steve at Woodbine. And dare I say it, but the weather was very pleasant! Three of my horses went to the gate for a little gate schooling. And stood nicely and backed out. All galloped nicely too for a very straightforward morning's work.
Update 5108: Here is my report from my visit to OLEX yesterday: OLEX June 2nd 2009.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:50 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 867
Posted June 2, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5107: NYRA update from Belmont Stakes media lunch:
BOREL WOWS MEDIA AT LUNCHEON, GUARANTEES VICTORY AGAIN
NEW YORK - On his first day in Manhattan, jockey Calvin Borel didn't back off his bold guarantee that Mine That Bird would win Saturday's 141st running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes.
"He'll win," Borel said before a packed house during a Belmont Stakes media luncheon at Madison Square Garden. "That's what we're here for."
The Kentucky Derby winning gelding, expected to be a solid favorite over nine other three-year-olds in the Belmont, will be reunited with Borel in the 1 1/2 mile race, setting up the possibility of Borel becoming the first jockey to sweep the Triple Crown races aboard different horses. The 42-year-old Cajun took off Mine That Bird after the Derby to ride filly Rachel Alexandra to victory in the Preakness, then got back aboard the gelding when the filly's owners decided not to run her in the Belmont.
"I'll let him run his race like I did in the Derby," said Borel. "He has an unbelievable turn of foot. He reminds me so much of Street Sense when you set him down. That's why I like the little horse."
Borel said the mile-and-a-half of the Belmont Stakes, the longest of the Triple Crown races, would not faze Mine That Bird, and added he was more familiar with the sweeping oval of America's largest racetrack than most people realize.
"I've ridden there a lot of times," he said, adding with a smile: "It's like any track -- you just turn left."
Borel said it was the way Mine That Bird worked on Monday at Churchill Downs that gave him so much confidence.
"He worked the same was as he did before the Derby," said Borel. "He did super good yesterday morning. He can go all day long.
"I see a Derby race, same style," he added. "He sits back there. Belmont has a long stretch and I can sit and wait. I watch this horse every day, he goes two miles, two-and-a-half miles."
Tuesday's media luncheon was part of a whirlwind of activities in which Borel is participating during Belmont Stakes week. Having already taped a segment that will air Friday evening on the "Late Show with David Letterman," Borel will also make several appearances on national television, and visit Wall Street on Thursday morning to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
As for his own personal "triple," Borel said he wasn't really thinking about it.
"It would be awesome, but it won't sink in until afterward," said Borel. "I'm just going out there to win the race. I want to win it for (trainer) Chip (Woolley) because I owe that to him for giving me the opportunity to ride the horse back. This is a dream, and I'm just riding it right now."
Earlier at the luncheon, jockey John Velazquez, the 2007 Belmont winner aboard Rags to Riches who will be aboard Dunkirk on Saturday, addressed fellow riders Rajiv Maragh, who will ride Brave Victory, and Alan Garcia, aboard Charitable Man, and offered some advice.
"Stay on the rail," said Velazquez, referring to Borel's style of riding, typified by his rail-hugging run from last-to-first in the Derby.
Woolley, who arrived in town from Louisville just before the luncheon, was still on crutches from the broken leg he suffered in a motorcycle crash weeks before the Derby but did not let that dampen his enthusiasm for the way the gelding is training up to Saturday's race. Indeed, the Kentucky Derby Museum has reportedly asked for Woolley's crutches to display after he has finished with them.
"Mine That Bird had a super work," said Woolley. "Calvin started him off soft. He finished strong down the lane. He galloped out super."
Mine That Bird is expected to arrive at Belmont Park midafternoon on Wednesday after flying in from Kentucky along with Mr. Hot Stuff. Expected to pass the entry box as well on Wednesday are Chocolate Candy, Flying Private, Luv Gov, Miner's Escape and Summer Bird.
Also attending the luncheon were Mine That Bird's owners, Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach.
"We've been here a few days now, and we're looking forward to the race," said Allen. "He's ready to go."
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who will send out Charitable Man, said he respects the Derby winner but wasn't about to concede the Belmont, ticking off a litany of reasons his colt is a threat.
"He's 2-for-2 at Belmont, 3-for-3 on the dirt, his sire won the Belmont (Lemon Drop Kid in 1999), he's a fresh horse, he's training great," he said. "Should I go on?"
McLaughlin, who saddled Jazil to victory in the 2006 Belmont, earlier got a laugh from some of the attendees before a shuttle bus departed Belmont for Manhattan. The trainer climbed aboard and told everybody they might as well go home, since Borel had already predicted the outcome of the race.
Velazquez said he was looking forward to riding Dunkirk for the first time for Todd Pletcher, the trainer for whom he usually rides.
"I worked him last week for the first time. He worked really well and galloped out great," said Velazquez. "A mile-and-a-half seems to suit Mine That Bird better than anyone but we still have to go a mile-and-a-half and see what happens."
Update 5106: From OLEX today (report forthcoming), horses wait to be shipped out.
Update 5105: Superfecta here, with your regular weekly update.
Belmont week is upon us - while we know we won't see a Rachel Alexandra-Mine That Bird showdown on Saturday (although I hope that happens in the Travers), we will have a fantastic day of racing ahead of us. Belmont day is one of my favorite days of racing all year, largely because of the fantastic undercard it features, and this year is no exception.
The True North should be interesting, with Fabulous Strike and Kodiak Kowboy taking on Disco's Son and Per Incanto. It definitely has the makings of an interesting betting race.
I'll wait to see the final entries for the Just a Game, but I like Forever Together; I may also go for my Belmont fallback position of 'Alan Garcia's horse' which seems to pay off not infrequently.
The year's Acorn is a little lacking in star power (and out of all the races on Belmont day, it has probably had the most storied list of winners: Gallorette, Shuvee, Susan's Girl, Chris Evert, Ruffian et al.) but Justwhistledixie will likely be the favorite, with Just Jenda and Doremifasollatido getting some action as well.
Perhaps the toughest race on the card will be the Woody Stephens - Like Jessica, I'm not sure what to make of Hello Broadway at this point, but Hull is very interesting and I'm intrigued to see Regal Ransom as a possible starter. This Ones For Phil should like the distance.
In the Manhattan Handicap, 10-year-old Better Talk Now will be making his 50th start and it will have one of the most interesting lineups on the card - Court Vision and Cowboy Cal have both come into their own since moving to the turf, and Grand Couturier and Gio Ponti are always dangerous. While I don't think this will be Better Talk Now's year to grab a second victory in the race, Brass Hat's recent resurgence demonstrates that it's a bad idea to discount the old guys out of hand.
And as for the big race - well, you'll have to check back tomorrow (and the rest of the week) for that. But I'm certainly hoping to see Calvin Borel win his own personal Triple Crown on Mine That Bird - he's going to be a busy man this week, what with ringing The Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday and making various media appearances around town.
I'll just be happy to be back on my old stomping grounds - a real bagel before heading to the track and a Nathan's Famous hot dog with (hopefully) a Brooklyn Lager will be in order once I arrive...
Update 5104: Off to OLEX from where I will be providing short updates on Twitter.
Update 5103: My latest contribution to The Rail: Working to Retire the War Horses.
I ended up riding two horses this morning for Steve at Woodbine. And it was a nice quiet start to the day!
Update 5102: ABR Weekly Facebook e-mail: E-mail 27: Rachel Alexandra, Mine That Bird, Paragallo, Queen's Plate, Pay Attention, Rene Douglas, Natasha Sihota, OLEX.
Nearly a day off. I am just going in to get on one horse. I will then head off to OLEX a little later.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 10:55 AM
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Barbaro Updates: 866
Posted June 1, 2009
updates are now here.
Update 5101: My weekly contribution to Eclipse Magazine (UK): Alex Brown 1 June 2009.
Update 5100: Getting ready to teach Internet for First Time Starters at Woodbine.
Update 5099: Vincent O'Brien died today: VINCENT O'BRIEN DIES AGED 92.
Update 5098: Update from John Asher at Churchill Downs on the works of Mine That Bird and Rachel Alexandra:
MINE THAT BIRD WORKS HALF-MILE IN :50 FOR BELMONT - Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine's Mine That Bird put in his final major preparation for Saturday's Belmont Stakes (Grade I) by working a half-mile in :50 under jockey Calvin Borel on Monday at Churchill Downs.
The winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) came on the fast Churchill Downs track shortly after 8:30 a.m. (all times EDT) when the track reopened after the morning renovation break. Borel backtracked Mine That Bird to the frontside and then loped around to the backstretch for the work that clockers caught in splits of :13.80, :26.60, :38.40, the half in :50 with a five-eighths gallop out time of 1:02.20 and six furlongs in 1:15.
The time for the half-mile was the 32nd fastest of 57 at the distance.
"He picked it up good the last quarter," said trainer Chip Woolley, who before the work said he was looking for something in the 49 to 49.20 range. "The main thing was the last quarter in 23 and 2. The important part was finishing strong and galloping out without weakening."
After the work, Borel was ecstatic about the work and Mine That Bird's chances in the Belmont.
"We're gonna win, no questions asked," Borel said. "He worked in :50 and out in 1:02, just like before the Derby. He is doing everything the same. After those two hard races (the Derby and Preakness), I think the colt is very happy."
Woolley continued to the perfect fit that has become horse and rider.
"You watch when he comes out on the track with (exercise rider) Charlie (Figueroa) or anybody else and he has his head up and is looking around," Woolley said. "With Calvin, he just drops his neck and knows it is time to go to work. He knows the difference, maybe it's because Calvin is lighter."
Woolley is going to look in on Mine That Bird early Tuesday morning before catching a 7:15 flight to New York with Mine That Bird flying the following day.
"I think we are in good shape going into the Belmont," Woolley said. "The horse is doing good and probably training better than he did going into the Derby.
"It is going to be a tough race and, how many do I fear? How many are in there? Wayne's horse (Flying Private for trainer D. Wayne Lukas) is on the improve and Kiaran's horse (Charitable Man for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin) is a sheer monster and he likes that racetrack."
Woolley said that Mine That Bird would return to the track early Wednesday morning to backtrack to the paddock runway and go around the track 1 ½ times. Mine That Bird would go to the track at Belmont on Thursday and Friday "but not on Saturday unless he is getting rattled."
Tentative plans call for Mine That Bird to return to Churchill Downs next Monday and remain here at least for a week.
"All of our stuff is here and so is the trailer," Woolley said. "We'll see how he does up there and how he comes out of the race but the plan now is we'll stay here at least through the Stephen Foster (June 13) and then decide on where we'll go."
RACHEL ALEXANDRA WORKS SOLID FIVE FURLONGS - Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick's Rachel Alexandra, winner of Preakness (Grade I) and Kentucky Oaks (GI), breezed a solid five furlongs on Monday in her first serious training move since majority owner Jess Jackson announced that she would bypass Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
Regular exercise rider Dominic Terry was in the irons aboard the Steve Asmussen-trained daughter of Medaglia d'Oro covered the distance over a "fast" track in 1:01.60. Churchill Downs clockers timed Rachel Alexandra in fractions of :13, :25.20, :37 and :49.20. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60.
As the filly worked around 6:30 a.m. (EDT), trainer Steve Asmussen and Barbara Banke, Jackson's wife, looked on.
"She's a beautiful filly and travels tremendous," said Asmussen. "She's got a gorgeous stride on her and she seemed very comfortable. I thought Dominic did a great job with her as usual."
Asmussen said no firm target has been selected for Rachel Alexandra's return to racing after her historic win over males in the May 16 Preakness at Pimlico.
"I think everybody gets to take a step back and take a deep breath," he said. "We'll take a little bit of the pressure off her and just enjoy her. We were very pleased with how she went. We'll see what sort of energy she comes out of it with. As always, we'll be talking with Jess and communicating where we feel she is."
Rachel Alexandra has a record of 8-2-0 in 11 races and has earned $1,618,354.
Update 5097: Seven sets this morning for Steve at Woodbine. Two of which went to the gate for a little gate schooling. All was well. It was a little overcast this morning, but I was expecting it to be colder.
Update 5096: La Ville Rouge, Barbaro's mum, is confirmed in foal at the 30 day stage: La Ville Rouge Passes 30-Day Pregnancy Test.
Mine That Bird and Rachel Alexandra are both scheduled to work this morning at Churchill Downs.
You can follow morning updates through training hours on twitter: AlexBrownRacing.
And please keep calling.
Posted by Alex at 9:52 AM
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