Thursday, April 09, 2009

Barn Notes 4-8-2009

Pastel Gal Carries Sackatoga Colors into Deep South Beach Water

Trainer Barclay Tagg and Sackatoga Stable general partner Jack Knowlton thought that 5-year-old Pastel Gal earned a chance in a black-type race after two come-from-behind allowance victories this season at Gulfstream Park, and Saturday’s $50,000 South Beach Stakes at 7½ furlongs on turf was their chosen target.

“It looks like the water is pretty deep in there,” said Knowlton Thursday morning. “But we’re here and she’s never been better, so we’ll take our chances. I talked to Robin (assistant trainer Robin Smullen) after the entries came out and she said that it looked like a Grade 2 stakes.

“We’ve got the leading rider (Jose Lezcano) and some of the more accomplished horses in there are coming off layoffs,” said Knowlton, who emerged a familiar figure on the national racing scene as Sackatoga’s Funny Cide carried the burgundy and gray diamonds colors to victory in the 2003 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) for Tagg.

“Pastel Gal is the last of the horses we bought for the original partnership,” said Knowlton. “We bought her for $100,000 at a New York-bred sale, but she doesn’t have a New York pedigree by Lemon Drop Kid out of a Theatrical mare. We have nine horses currently and about 70 people involved in the various partnerships.” Indeed, the full field of 14 fillies and mares entered in the South Beach includes a Grade 2 winner at Belmont Park, a Group 2 winner in France, a Grade 3 winner in New Jersey and several others that are either graded-stakes-placed or winners of non-graded events.

Darley Stable’s 4-year-old Raw Silk won the Sands Point Stakes (G2) at Belmont last spring for trainer Tom Albertrani and will be making her first start since November. Jedburgh Stud’s 5-year-old French-bred mare All Is Vanity was a Group 2 winner at Chantilly in France as a 3-year-old in 2007 and twice graded-stakes placed in the U.S. for trainer Christophe Clement last year. She will be making her first start since October.

Trujillo & McPeek on 1,000 Career-Win Watch

Jockey Elvis Trujillo rode two winners Wednesday at Gulfstream Park leaving him five to go to reach the 1,000 career victory plateau, and Ken McPeek continues to lead the Gulfstream trainer standings after sending out 29 winners. He, too, is approaching the 1,000 victory mark with divisions currently in action here and at Keeneland.

Trujillo ranks seventh in the standings at this session that runs through Thurs., Apr. 23 with 39 victories as Jose Lezcano extended his lead with a winner Wednesday with 54 trips to the winners’ circle.

Lezcano leads by six over Kent Desormeaux at 48. Lezcano, Trujillo and Paco Lopez (10th) are the only top 10 riders remaining in action here during the final weeks as the others have moved on to Keeneland and/or New York after Florida Derby weekend. Lezcano and Trujillo will be headed to Monmouth Park this summer while Lopez remains at Calder.

Julien Leparoux ranks fourth in the Gulfstream standings and was among those that went on to Keeneland. He has jumped out to the early lead there with nine wins in the first four days, including the victory of Dixiana Stables’ 3-year-old filly War Kill in Wednesday’s $150,000 Beaumont Stakes (G2) at Keeneland for trainer Ken McPeek.

A Kentucky homebred daughter of War Chant, War Kill had won an allowance race at Gulfstream on Mar. 1 in her only previous start this year and became McPeek’s 990th career winner.

McPeek leads Todd Pletcher (27) by two in the Gulfstream standings with both leaving small divisions to compete during the final days of the meet. Pletcher is bidding for a sixth consecutive Gulfstream championship.

Trainer Nick Zito shipped north after sending out 21 winners to rank third and Wesley Ward moved into fourth with one win Wednesday and holds the early lead at Keeneland with four tallies in four days.

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