Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Keeneland Barn Notes—Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Champs Elysees (GB), who is coming off a second-place finish to Einstein (BRZ) in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) on March 7, will make his Keeneland debut in the 24th running of the Fifth Third Elkhorn (G2) on Friday, closing day of the spring meeting. The 6-year-old, who will be ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr. for trainer Bobby Frankel, is the 124-pound highweight and will break from post 11 for the 1½ mile-turf race worth $200,000.

By Danehill, Champs Elysees is a full brother to champions Intercontinental (GB) and Banks Hill (GB) – just two of the accomplished members of his family. During her career, Intercontinental captured three Keeneland stakes: the Jenny Wiley (G3) in 2004 and 2005 and the WinStar Galaxy (G2) in 2005.

A two-time Grade 1 winner on turf, Champs Elysees returns to the turf for the Fifth Third Elkhorn. Among his rivals are Always First (GB), who was second in the race in 2007 and won Keeneland’s Sycamore (G3) last fall, and 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner Better Talk Now, who is making his 10-year-old debut in the race. Other starters Brass Hat, Embossed (IRE) and Transduction Gold all competed in last year’s Fifth Third Elkhorn. Brass Hat was third behind winner Dancing Forever.

The field for the Fifth Third Elkhorn, from the hedge out, is as follows: Quasicobra (J. Leparoux, 118 pounds), Transduction Gold (J. Graham, 118), Buddy’s Humor (J. Lezcano, 118), Spice Route (GB) (R. Douglas, 118), Better Talk Now (R. Dominguez, 118), Musketier (GER) (E. Prado, 118), Always First (GB) (G. Gomez, 118), Sir Whimsey (G. Saez, 118), Embossed (IRE) (J. Theriot, 118), Brass Hat (C. Borel, 118), Champs Elysees (GB) (J. Valdivia Jr., 124) and Admiral’s Cruise (J. Velazquez, 118). Also eligible are Sudden War (ARG) (K. Desormeaux, 118) and Sir Dave (R. Douglas, 118).


Hooh Why, who won the Ashland (G1) on April 4, remains at Keeneland while co-owner Mark Hoffman decides where the filly will go next. Hoffman had planned to send Hooh Why to Churchill Downs to work on Sunday, but changed his mind because of heavy rains at the track that morning. Instead, he worked the filly on Monday at Keeneland, where she covered five furlongs in 1:00.20.

“I almost took her back to the track this morning,” Hoffman said about the Cloud Hopping filly he owns in partnership with Derby Daze Farm Inc. of breeder Gail Gee. “She has so much energy. She’s jumping and squealing.”

Hoffman had said the Kentucky Oaks (G1) has been on the schedule for Hooh Why, but he is in awe of the horse that will be the overwhelming favorite for the race, Rachel Alexandra. On Tuesday morning in the Keeneland racing office, Hoffman watched a replay of Rachel Alexandra’s six-length victory in the Fantasy (G2) at Oaklawn Park from April 5. He said that was the first time he had seen Rachel Alexandra perform.

“Believe me, I want to run in the Oaks, but I don’t want to run against Rachel Alexandra,” Hoffman said, noting the two fillies’ front-running styles. “She’s a monster. She’s won on dirt; my filly hasn’t.”

While not completely ruling out a run in the Oaks for Hooh Why, Hoffman is considering the filly for stakes in mid-May at Arlington Park or at Woodbine, and he said he also would like to try her on the turf.

“She needs a race,” Hoffman said. “She’s ready to run.”


The 7 ½-length victory by Phipps Stable’s Parading in Sunday’s Ben Ali (G3) came in the runner’s first start on Polytrack and 15 days after he was nosed out of a victory in an allowance race on the Keeneland turf course.

“He’s been begging to run a good race like that,” trainer Shug McGaughey said about Parading, a 6-year-old son of Pulpit who defeated a field that included Toyota Blue Grass (G1) winners Monba and Dominican and defending champion Sterwins in the Ben Ali. “He put it together, so maybe his little minor things are behind him and we can go ahead with him.”

McGaughey had not decided the next race for Parading, saying “I’ve got plenty of options, grass or Polytrack somewhere.”

The trainer does have a clearer plan for Phipps homebred Conservative, who finished second in Saturday’s Coolmore Lexington (G2) in his first start on Polytrack. McGaughey said the Unbridled’s Song colt came out of the race “really well. He’s going back to New York, probably over the weekend, and I’ll see how he trains there and either (run him) back on the grass or possibly the Barbaro Stakes at Pimlico on Preakness (G1) Day.”

With three days remaining in the Keeneland spring meeting, McGaughey and Rusty Arnold both have six wins to tie for the title as leading trainer. McGaughey’s stable also has recorded four seconds and six thirds and has earned $398,485 in 20 starts.

McGaughey is bidding for his seventh title as leading trainer. He was the spring leader in 1984, 1993 and 1996, and was the leading trainer during the fall meeting from 1983-1985. Parading’s Ben Ali victory marked McGaughey’s 19th career stakes win at Keeneland.


Atop the standings after winning $9,811 on Keeneland’s third race Sunday, Dave Flanzbaum nursed his lead the rest of the day and captured the inaugural Grade One Gamble handicapping contest, a qualifying event for the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship. The Rolling Meadows, Illinois, resident finished with a final score of $9,067 in his account and took home the $15,000 winner’s check in addition to his winnings.

Dan Riddell of Georgetown, Kentucky, used his brother Joe’s free “Twitter” paddock reports, provided by Keeneland to anyone who subscribes, to help make his selections. He earned $8,000 for his second-place finish, plus $8,064 in winnings.

Bill Shurman moved up seven places with his final race wagers to post a score of $5,480 – good enough for third place and an additional $4,000 in prize money.

The top three finishers also earned a qualifying berth in the National Championship, to be held in early 2010 at Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas. Since Shurman qualified for the National Championship earlier this year, his berth was awarded to fourth-place finisher Rich Nilson.

The Grade One Gamble, an event limited to 30 players, required a $3,000 entry fee of which $1,800 was earmarked for wagering. Players were required to bet at least $200 per race on all of Keeneland’s Sunday races, in any combination of win, place, show, exacta and trifecta wagers.

“It was an outstanding group of players, most of them NHC Tour members,” said Keeneland’s contest coordinator, Jude Feld. “The room was like a library most of the afternoon, as everyone was handicapping and strategizing, but when the horses crossed the finish line after the last race, the losers were as gracious in defeat as the winners were joyous in victory. Despite the inclement weather, it was a tremendous day of racing and an exciting contest.”


Wednesday, April 22-

Keeneland Handicapping Contest Presented by Formulator Web - Place a mythical $2 win and place wager on Keeneland races 3-9. Entry fee is $10 with a guaranteed $2,500 pool. Limit three entries per person. First 200 participants receive a free Daily Racing Form.

United Way Day - Keeneland will donate all paid admission to the United Way of the Bluegrass.

Thursday, April 23 - Grey Goose Hat Giveaway - First 1,000 paid admissions will receive a free Grey Goose hat.

(Stats Through Sunday, April 19)

Current Meet Leading Jockeys
Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Purses
Julien Leparoux 83 24 16 10 $1,192,217
Kent Desormeaux 76 14 10 12 1,052,865
John Velazquez 47 10 5 5 619,813
Garrett Gomez 44 9 7 8 678,378
Rene Douglas 49 7 8 7 332,890
Jamie Theriot 46 7 3 5 278,135
Miguel Mena 70 6 6 13 382,125
Shaun Bridgmohan 45 6 1 3 231,895

Current Meet Leading Trainers
Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Purses
Shug McGaughey 20 6 4 6 $398,485
George Arnold II 22 6 1 3 206,775
Michael Maker 29 5 7 3 189,775
Bill Mott 35 5 6 6 646,385
Wesley Ward 15 4 4 1 154,880
Todd Pletcher 22 4 2 2 382,740
Steve Asmussen 17 4 2 2 156,045
Jonathan Sheppard 7 4 1 1 414,350
Barclay Tagg 13 3 2 3 145,820
Ian Wilkes 16 3 2 2 141,820
Ken McPeek 17 3 1 2 179,186
Michael Matz 20 3 1 1 131,105
Angel Penna Jr. 6 3 0 1 135,775

Current Meet Leading Owners
Name Wins
Augustin Stable (George Strawbridge Jr.) 4
Phipps Stable (Ogden Mills Phipps, et al) 4
Ken & Sarah Ramsey 4
WinStar Farm LLC (Bill Casner, et al) 4
Dixiana Stables Inc. (William Shively) 3
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable (Bill & Corrine Heiligbrodt) 3
Ashbrook Farm (Glenn S. Bromagen) 2
Castletop Stable (Morton Topfer) 2
Chiefswood Stables (Robert & Mark Krembil) 2
Darley Stable (Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum) 2
G. Watts Humphrey Jr. 2
David A. Ross 2

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