Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Keeneland Barn Notes—Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Domino Stud of Lexington Inc.’s Miss Isella, winner of last fall’s Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs, will carry high weight of 123 pounds and concede six pounds to her seven rivals in Friday’s 15th running of the $100,000 Doubledogdare Stakes (G3). The race is for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up and will be contested at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track.

Trained by Ian Wilkes, Miss Isella will break from post position six and be ridden by Calvin Borel. In her first start since winning the Falls City, Miss Isella ran fourth in the Grade 3 Sabin at a mile at Gulfstream Park in February.

The other graded stakes winner in the field is Courtlandt Farms’ Indescribable. Trained by Bill Mott, Indescribable closed 2008 with a victory in the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap on the turf at Churchill Downs. Indescribable won the Grade 3 Arlington Matron last May over Polytrack at Arlington Park after running third in the Doubledogdare.

Kent Desormeaux, who won last year’s Doubledogdare on Carriage Trail, has the mount on Indescribable and will break from position eight.

The field for the Doubledogdare, from the rail out, is as follows: Tejida (J. Leparoux, 117 pounds), Awesome Ashley (G. Gomez, 117), Sefroua (J. Velazquez, 117), Serenading (R. Albarado, 117), Drop a Line (J. Rose, 117), Miss Isella (C. Borel, 123), Crown of Diamonds (E. Prado, 117) and Indescribable (K. Desormeaux, 117).


Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm’s Friesan Fire, a three-time graded stakes winner this winter at Fair Grounds, continued his preparation for the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) by working five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Tuesday morning at Keeneland (see video of work).

With jockey Gabriel Saez up, Friesan Fire posted fractions of :13, :25, :36.60 and a 24-second clocking through the lane, according to Keeneland clockers.

“He went very well; this was just a prep for Sunday when he will have a long work of a mile,” trainer Larry Jones said.

Jones is following the same formula he has used the past two years with Hard Spun in 2007 and Proud Spell and Eight Belles last year: training at Keeneland before shipping to Churchill Downs a week before the Kentucky Oaks (G1) or Derby and having their final works at the Louisville track.

“It has been working OK for us, so there is no reason to change,” Jones said after Friesan Fire’s work over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface that was unaffected by heavy, overnight rain. “That’s why we come here, because we don’t have to worry (about track conditions).”

Tuesday’s work was the second at Keeneland for Friesan Fire since arriving in Lexington after his 7 ¼-length romp in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 14. He had worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 on April 8 with Saez up.

“I thought he worked well,” said Saez, who has been Friesan Fire’s regular work rider all this year. “He handles this track well and he is getting better and better all the time.”


Mark Hoffman, co-owner of Ashland Stakes (G1) winner Hooh Why, is contemplating a move to Churchill Downs and a possible run at the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

“I am probably going to ship over in the next couple of days, maybe Thursday,” Hoffman said before Hooh Why galloped Tuesday morning. “I’d like to breeze over the track and if she doesn’t like it, go on to Arlington Park and get ready for the American 1,000 Guineas on May 23.”

One factor in Hoffman’s decision is that Hooh Why was not nominated to the Oaks by the February 14 deadline.

“She would have to be supplemented for $25,000, then another $2,500 to enter and $2,500 to start,” Hoffman said. “I have to think about that.”

Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.’s Charitable Man, seventh in last Saturday’s Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes in his first start in seven months, is scheduled to return to the track Wednesday morning, according to Neal McLaughlin, assistant to his brother Kiaran.

“He is going to train in the morning and we are going to see where we are with him,” McLaughlin said. “He came out of the race fine and cooled out quick. We are going to keep our options open.”

With $150,000 in graded stakes earnings, Charitable Man may have enough in the bank to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1) starting gate.

“The owners may want to go over to Churchill Downs and see how he trains over there and have a work there,” McLaughlin said.

Les Reynolds, head traveling lad for trainer John Gosden, said no decision had been reached on where Shadwell Stable’s Mafaaz (GB) would go next. Eighth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, Mafaaz jogged and galloped on the Keeneland training track Tuesday morning.

Also, no decision had been made on plans for 2008 Eclipse Award winner Stardom Bound, who ran third in the April 4 Ashland. Michelle Nevin, assistant to trainer Rick Dutrow, was aboard for Stardom Bound’s Tuesday gallop on the main track.

When Larry Jones arrived at Keeneland on Monday night from Oaklawn Park, he had a surprise for his wife, Cindy, who has been overseeing the Keeneland operation: a 3-year-old Palomino pony.

“I call her Little Belle after Eight Belles,” Cindy Jones said. “I had always wanted a Palomino and Larry had had her for three weeks and didn’t tell me. She will be great for the grandkids.”


In April 2000, Kim Boniface trained Field Cat to win the $113,900 Transylvania at Keeneland for breeder and owner James S. Karp. The bay son of Metfield out of the stakes-placed Storm Cat mare Sandy’s Storm was the 2-1 favorite for the turf race, and he scored a front-running victory with Mike Smith aboard.

Today, Boniface, a member of the well-known Maryland racing family, is an exercise rider for trainer Todd Pletcher. She has a folder of newspaper clippings and other Field Cat memorabilia, but she has something even better: Field Cat himself. Throughout the year, the now 12-year-old gelding travels with Boniface and serves as a pony for racehorses in the mornings and afternoons at various racetracks and at her family’s Bonita Farm in Darlington, Maryland. At Keeneland, Field Cat even is the mount for an aspiring jockey whom Boniface is teaching.

“He’s good at everything he does, and I’m blessed to have him,” Boniface said about Field Cat.

After his Transylvania win, Field Cat went on to compete in graded stakes and was second in the Kent Breeders’ Cup (G3) at Delaware Park, but a breathing problem eventually led to his retirement. He won five races in 22 starts at eight different tracks and earned $309,833. Karp sold Field Cat to Boniface for $1, which, she said, the owner never collected.

At Keeneland, Field Cat is shod by the same blacksmith who worked on him when he was a racehorse. Everywhere he and Boniface travel, she said, someone knows Field Cat.

“Everybody still recognizes him when I get on him because he’s such a big pony, and everybody still remembers him, and that’s cool,” she said.

Field Cat is not the only member of his family who is excelling in a second career. His half-brother Corporate Storm, a winning son of Corporate Report who earned $214,935 for Boniface, is a successful three-day event horse in Maryland.

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