Friday, February 20, 2009

GP Barn Notes 2-20

Stakes Ahead for McLaughlin Runners

Vision Racing’s 4-year-old colt Keep Laughing and Mr. and Mrs William K. Warren’s 3-year-old colt Charitable Man both hit important benchmarks for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin Thursday and have stakes races in their future.

Keep Laughing, a son of Distorted Humor, returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since winning the Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland last April with a come-from-behind victory Thursday afternoon in a six-furlong allowance at Gulfstream Park.

Charitable Man, the winner of The Futurity (G2) at Belmont Park last fall, logged his second workout of the winter earlier that morning at Palm Meadows Training Center and the son of Lemon Drop Kid will be hustled to join the 3-year-old scene in the next eight weeks.

Keep Laughing’s sweeping score was a relief to his connections coming on the heels of a tiring eighth-place finish in his comeback race on Jan. 15. The colt dropped back off a fast pace under jockey Alan Garcia before making a bold run through the stretch to draw off by 2¼ lengths.

“I was worried until I saw the fractions and then I was glad we weren’t on the lead,” said assistant trainer Neal McLaughlin, subbing for his brother Kiaran, who is on a vacation cruise with his family. “Alan never gave up on him and he came with the finish like we had been hoping for.”

McLaughlin said the first race back was a disappointment, but plenty of good came out of the result.

“His first race back he probably needed,” he said. “He had really developed and matured over the winter, filled out, and he really, really got a lot out of it.”

It was the third career win for Keep Laughing and the McLaughlin brothers will be on the lookout for stakes at a mile in the future, although Kiaran McLaughlin indicated by phone Friday it might be a tough jump to join the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) at that distance on Mar. 14.

“We’re thinking a mile will be what he does best,” said Neal McLaughlin right after the race. “He showed that today. He also showed that even a sprint with those kind of fractions would be okay, but we might look at stakes at a mile for him now.”

Charitable Man breezed three furlongs in 37 4/5, and will now ramp up his efforts to make a late appearance on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail.

“It was just an easy three-eighths to get him back and ready,” said McLaughlin. “We will be looking to run somewhere in early April. Whether it’s a stakes or some kind of allowance we don’t know, but it all depends on everything going perfectly. We’re up against it to make the first Saturday in May, but we will see what happens from here. We can’t have any setbacks.”

Borel Gets Beethoven to Step on the Gas in Latest Workout

With Oaklawn Park-based jockey Calvin Borel in town for stakes mounts, trainer John Ward accelerated the workout schedule for John Oxley’s 3-year-old star Beethoven Friday morning at Gulfstream Park, and Borel accelerated the graded-stakes winner into a faster breeze than his last few drills.

The son of Sky Mesa breezed five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 under the jockey who won the 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) aboard Street Sense. It was four seconds faster than the colt’s work last Saturday.

“He didn’t put a lot of effort into his last workout,” said Ward Friday morning. “With Calvin in town, we figured we’d get him back out there and he did it well and finished strongly. If you look at all his workouts, he throws in some slow ones, so that wasn’t much of a concern.”

Beethoven, who won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29 and finished fourth in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) here on Jan. 31, has developed a strong late kick for Ward.

“He’s finishing the way a good mile-and-a-quarter horse should,” he said. “We’re finding out what he likes, and as long as I can figure that out, we can keep pleasing him.”

Beethoven is expected to race next in the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) on Sat., Feb. 28.

Campos Scores First Career Win

Apprentice jockey Ares Campos secured his first career victory Thursday at Gulfstream Park aboard Gary Aiken’s Gary’s Boomer in the sixth race.

The 18-year-old native of Puebla, Mexico, began galloping at Saratoga two years ago and secured a job exercising horses for Todd Pletcher at Monmouth Park.

“I’m very happy right now and filled with emotions,” said Campos moments after guiding the 4-year-old gelding home at 25-1. He said it moments before the traditional dousing by his fellow riders in the Jockeys’ Room (photo attached).

“Every race is tough. When you leave your country, no matter how human you are, there’s always a feeling that things could go wrong. But to be able to say I’m competing with the best jockeys in the world as an apprentice is a dream come true.”

Campos will continue to race with a 10-pound allowance until he wins four more races. It took him 16 races to get his first victory.

“You leave everything behind so it’s satisfying,” said Campos. “This is a great reward. You’re doing what you want to do. It’s a special day for me and I hope I have plenty more.”

Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Tops Weekend Stakes Tripleheader at Gulfstream

The latest renewal of the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) – with a field expected to include Beethoven, This Ones for Phil, Capt. Candyman Can and other potential Kentucky Derby (G1) prospects – will be the highlight of a graded-stakes tripleheader next weekend at Gulfstream Park.

The Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth, to be run at one mile this year, will almost certainly yield one or more contenders for the $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) to be run four weeks later here on Sat., Mar. 28. It shares the spotlight on Saturday’s card with the $150,000 Canadian Turf Handicap (G3) for older horses at one mile on turf.

Sunday’s $150,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) is the 3-year-old filly companion test to the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth, also at one mile, with IEAH Stables and partners’ Grade 1 winner Laragh and Lael Stable’s recently purchased Frolic’s Dream prominent among the nominees.

John Oxley’s Beethoven turns back in distance from the nine-furlong Holy Bull Stakes (G3), in which he finished fourth after breaking from the far outside post 10 in his first start since capturing the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs in late November for trainer John Ward.

Paul Pompa Jr.’s This Ones for Phil was very impressive winning the Sunshine Millions Dash on Jan. 24 by 2¾ lengths in his first start since a private purchase last year and first start for trainer Rick Dutrow, who guided IEAH Stables and Pompa’s Big Brown through victories in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby last year.

Joseph Rausch and David Zell’s Capt. Candyman Can won the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (G2) over the track on Jan. 30 for trainer Ian Wilkes. The homebred son of Candy Ride was making his first appearance since finishing third behind Beethoven in the Kentucky Jockey Club, beaten only a half-length for it all.

Other probable starters in the 63rd edition of the race include Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Notonthesamepage, Edward P. Evans’ Quality Road, Eli Gindi’s Break Water Edison, Samotawka Stable and partners’ Theregoesjojo, Shadwell Stable’s Taqarub, MiJak Stable’s Salo Jak and Thomas Conway and partners’ Jack Spratt.

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