Friday, April 08, 2011
UNUNDEFEATED UNCLE MO IS OVERWHELMING FAVORITE IN THE WOOD MEMORIAL
In his final appearance before the Kentucky Derby, undefeated Uncle Mo returns to New York as the overwhelming favorite for Saturday's Grade I,$1 million Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, N.Y. Supporting the Wood on Saturday's card is the 111th renewal of the Grade I, $250,000 Carter Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs and a pair of Grade III events, the $200,000 Bay Shore for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs and the $150,000 Comely Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going a mile.
"Pleasant Colony was the first horse I remember who won the Wood, and I was there when I was a teenager for Broad Brush , Gulch , and Easy Goer ," said Repole. "To me, Aqueduct was the racetrack, and from being a 13-year-old kid who took the bus there to having the favorite for the Wood is like coming full circle. If I had a choice of what race I wanted to win in New York, other than the Belmont Stakes, it would be the Wood Memorial."
Nine will line up in the gate on either side of Uncle Mo, who has won his four starts by a combined margin of 27 ¼ lengths. The 1-5 choice on the morning line, Uncle Mo drew post position 5 under regular jockey John Velazquez as he looks to add a third Grade I victory to his resume, having taken the Champagne at Belmont Park and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile en route to the Eclipse Award as 2010's Top 2-Year-Old Male. A 14 ¼-length maiden winner at Saratoga Race Course last August, Uncle Mo launched his 3-year-old campaign with an easy 3 ¾-length victory over four rivals in the Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park on March 12, further cementing his credentials as the early favorite for the May 7 Run for the Roses.
The Wood will be the third time Uncle Mo has faced nine others, having done so in both his maiden race and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and marks the first time the Indian Charlie colt will travel 1 1/8 miles; the Champagne and the Timely Writer were both one-mile races, while the Juvenile was at 1 1/16 miles.
"He's never given me any concerns about distance limitations in any of his races or any of his training, so we're looking forward to it," said trainer Todd Pletcher, who won last year's Wood with Eskendereya. "We wanted a 1 1/8-mile prep before the Derby, so that's one of the reasons we chose the Wood a while ago."
The lone listed stakes winner facing Uncle Mo in Saturday's 87th edition of the Wood is Toby's Corner, victorious in the Whirlaway at Aqueduct on February 5 and subsequently third behind Uncle Mo's stablemate, Stay Thirsty, in the Gotham on March 5. Outfitted with blinkers for the first time, the Bellamy Road colt is the second choice in the Wood at 8-1, having drawn post 2 with Eddie Castro aboard.
"It's a $1-million race, it's a Grade I, and it's 2 ½ hours away," said trainer Graham Motion on the decision to run Toby's Corner in the Wood rather than Saturday's Illinois Derby. "It's just a ship on the day of the race, while [the Illinois Derby] is a 14-hour ship. I think he'd be the second favorite in either race. I'm not eager to run against Uncle Mo, but the second or third-place money is really good.
The complete field for the Wood Memorial, in post position order, is: Starship Caesar (jockey: Cornelio Velasquez, morning line odds: 50-1) Toby's Corner (Eddie Castro, 8-1); Full of Scoundrels (C.C. Lopez, 50-1); Arthur's Tale (Roman Dominguez, 12-1); Uncle Mo (John Velazquez, 1-5); Preachintothedevil (Junior Alvarado, 20-1); Duca (Jon Court, 20-1); Norman Asbjornson (Julian Pimentel, 15-1); Isn't He Perfect (Channing Hill, 50-1); and Son of Posse (Francisco Maysonett, 99-1). All will carry 123 pounds.
PREMIER PEGASUS FAVORED IN SANTA ANITA DERBY FOR OWNER, TRAINER AND BREEDER CHO
If Premier Pegasus is to make good on his 8-5 morning-line favoritism among 11 entrants in Saturday's Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby, the show would truly belong to 68-year-old Myung Kwon Cho.
The Korean immigrant, who races a small stable of six horses, would become the first person to solely own, train and have bred the winner in 74 runnings of this major stepping stone to the May 7 Kentucky Derby.
Cho would burst upon the national scene much like Premier Pegasus did with his stunning 7 ¾-length victory in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 12, his final prep for the mile-and-one-eighth Santa Anita Derby. Cho would emerge from the sport's shadows at the expense of racing's most recognizable figure, trainer Bob Baffert, whose Jaycito is the 4-1 second choice in the event for 3-year-olds that Baffert has won a record five times.
The 74th Santa Anita Derby is one of four graded stakes races on Saturday's 11-race program at Santa Anita. The card includes the Grade II, $150,000 Arcadia Stakes at one mile on turf, the Grade II, $150,000 Providencia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf, and the Grade III, $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap at 6 ½ furlongs on turf.
Premier Pegasus, by virtue of his San Felipe win, is one of three Santa Anita Derby entrants that could qualify for the Preakness 5.5 bonus. The others are Anthony's Cross, winner of Santa Anita's Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes, and Silver Medallion, winner of the Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. A win by any of the three on Saturday would qualify that colt for the multi-million dollar bonus with a victory in the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse on May 21. The winning owner would receive a bonus of $5 million; the winning trainer, $500,000. Cho, of course, would sweep the monetary deck.
The margin of victory for Premier Pegasus in the San Felipe was a record for the race in its 74th running. Premier Pegasus clearly took to racing around two turns, and he clearly responded to the decision by his owner/trainer/breeder to remove blinkers that had been worn in his first four starts.
"We took the blinkers off because we were thinking it would make him relax a little bit more," Cho said afterward. Mission accomplished at odds of 7-1. The bay colt rallied from seventh in the San Felipe. "I liked the horse from his first race," said Cho, "but I didn't expect him to accomplish as much as he's had so far. I love him now."
Jaycito, who won Oak Tree's Grade I Norfolk Stakes last October while in the care of trainer Mike Mitchell, will be making his second start for Baffert following a distant second to Premier Pegasus in the San Felipe.
"I was leery about running him back here because horses with his [closing] style weren't doing that well until recently," said Baffert, who had been considering Saturday's Wood Memorial at Aqueduct as an option for Jaycito. "But shipping could take something out of him, we won't have to face [unbeaten Kentucky Derby favorite] Uncle Mo, and the weather is good here. Plus, I think he's got a good chance to win the race. Our main concern is to have him ready for the next one. This should set him up perfect for the Kentucky Derby."
Third choice at 9-2 on Santa Anita oddsmaker Jon White's morning line is Silver Medallion, who won the El Camino Real by 1 ½ lengths over a synthetic surface. Silver Medallion will be making his first start on a dirt track Saturday.
The complete field for the Santa Anita Derby, in post position order, is: Offlee Wild Boys (jockey: Joe Talamo, morning line odds: 50-1); Indian Winter (Patrick Valenzuela, 15-1); Mr. Commons (Mike Smith, 12-1); Silver Medallion (Garrett Gomez, 9-2); Comma to the Top (Corey Nakatani, 8-1); Midnight Interlude (Victor Espinoza, 20-1); Quail Hill (Martin Pedroza, 50-1); Premier Pegasus (Alonso Quinonez, 8-5); Anthony's Cross (Joel Rosario, 6-1); Bench Points (Rafael Bejarano, 12-1); and Jaycito (Martin Garcia, 4-1). All will carry 122 pounds.
The Santa Anita Derby will be televised on HRTV and broadcast on Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN). Post time for the Santa Anita Derby is scheduled for 7:37 p.m. (ET).
KEENELAND KICKS OFF 75TH ANNIVERSARY SPRING MEET TOMORROW
Keeneland will put the emphasis on fun as the spring race meeting (April 8-29) begins tomorrow at the Lexington, Ky., track, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
In addition to world-class racing, a special-events calendar packed with such new promotions as a 50-cent Pick Five wager and 75-cent hot dogs on Wednesdays will be combined with old favorites including tomorrow's College Scholarship Day. Full-time college students will receive free admission tomorrow and can register to win one of 10 $1,000 college scholarships.
Those students will also see some exciting opening-day racing action, highlighted by the 23rd running of the Grade III Transylvania Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for three-year-olds. The marquee name in the Transylvania field is Pluck, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
On Saturday, Keeneland will present an important Grade I race for three-year-old fillies, the 74th running of the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the main track
The favorite in the nine-horse Ashland field is the versatile Kathmanblu. Trained by Ken McPeek, who won the 2002 Ashland with Take Charge Lady, Kathmanblu enters the race on a three-race win streak that began with an 8½-length victory in the Golden Rod at Churchill Downs in November. This year, Kathmanblu won the Sweetest Chant on yielding turf at Gulfstream Park in January and the Rachel Alexandra on dirt at Fair Grounds in February. Kathmanblu also won the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine at Keeneland on firm turf last year.
Alan Garcia will have the mount on Kathmanblu, who will break from post position six.
Three other graded stakes winners are in the field, headlined by Dancinginherdreams. Trained by John Ward, Dancinginherdreams broke her maiden at Keeneland last fall in her career debut and then captured the Pocahontas at Churchill by 5¼ lengths. In two starts this year, Dancinginherdreams has run second at Gulfstream Park in both the Forward Gal and Davona Dale. Regular rider Julien Leparoux has the call Saturday on Dancinginherdreams, who will break from post position five.
The complete field for the Central Bank Ashland, from the rail out, is: Bouquet Booth (jockey: Robby Albarado, morning line odds: 8-1); Lilacs and Lace (Javier Castellano, 30-1); Wyomia (Freddie Lenclud, 8-1); Delightful Mary (Shaun Bridgmohan, 5-1); Dancinginherdreams (Julian Leparoux, 2-1); Kathmanblu (Alan Garcia, 9-5); Grand Style (James Graham, 30-1); Draw It (Rajiv Maragh, 20-1); and Excited (Kent Desormeaux, 8-1). All starters will carry 121 pounds.
TVG will provide live coverage of Keeneland each race day while a portion of TVG's daily Keeneland coverage will air on FOX Sports affiliates Altitude, Fox Sports Ohio, FSN Prime Ticket, SportSouth and/or Sun Sports. Horse Racing Radio Network, (HRRN) will feature live coverage of Keeneland featured race each day. For the latest schedule of HRRN coverage of Keeneland, visit http://www.horseracingradio.net.
SATURDAY'S WOOD MEMORIAL TO BE SHOWN LIVE ON NTRA.COM
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association's (NTRA) Web site, NTRA.com, will offer free, live video streaming this Saturday of the Grade I, $1 million Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial from Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, N.Y. The Wood Memorial Webcast is the second in the 2011 NTRA Live! series of Webcasts. Last Sunday, NTRA Live! featured Dialed In's come-from-behind win in the Florida Derby from Gulfstream Park.
Saturday's Webcast, to be hosted by Randy Moss, is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. (ET), with post time for the Wood Memorial slated for 5:48 p.m. (ET). The race also will be televised live on TVG and HRTV. Moss will also provide a preview of another important Kentucky Derby prep race?the Santa Anita Derby, to be run later in the day on Saturday.
In addition to live streaming of featured races, NTRA Live! features interviews with handicappers and on-track analysts, interactive chats with viewers, pre-and post-race analysis, free Equibase past performance data, handicapping selections; a one-click link to wagering opportunities through NYRA Rewards, and other original and unique programming components. The Executive Producer of NTRA Live! is Tim Turrell, who has produced numerous telecasts on horse racing and other sports for ESPN, The Golf Channel and others. Access to the Webcast is free.
Following Saturday's Webcast, NTRA Live! will continue on April 16 with the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland, and on April 23 with the Coolmore Lexington Stakes from Keeneland. On that April 23 Webcast, NTRA Live! will also present a comprehensive preview of the 2011 "Run for the Roses".
TVG OFFERING EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE FROM WOODBINE, KEENELAND AND HOLLYWOOD PARK IN APRIL
TVG will provide live, exclusive coverage from three of North America's premier Thoroughbred racing venues, Woodbine Racetrack near Toronto; Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., and Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif.
The 167-day Woodbine meet got underway this past Saturday. Meet highlights include the $1 million Queen's Plate, the opening leg in the Canadian Triple Crown on June 26; the $1.5 million Pattison Canadian International on October 16; and the $1 million E.P. Taylor, also on October 16.
Keeneland's 15-day spring meet begins Friday, and will feature 15 graded stakes, including four Grade I contests. The meet's key Kentucky Derby prep, the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, is slated for April 16. TVG will be on-site at Keeneland throughout the meet, with commentary, analysis and handicapping provided by Todd Schrupp, Paul LoDuca, Michelle Yu and Donna Barton Brothers on opening weekend. Simon Bray will join the cast for coverage during the remainder of the meet.
Hollywood Park's 54-day meet gets underway April 21, and will include 27 graded stakes, including seven Grade I events. Highlights include the Hollywood Gold Cup (July 9) and the American Oaks (July 16). TVG on-air talent will present every race of the meet live from the track.
"Having exclusive rights to premier track partners like Woodbine, Keeneland and Hollywood Park really allows us to focus on their races, and that means great viewing and wagering for our fans and account holders," said Tony Allevato, TVG senior vice president and executive producer.
"We love having TVG on-site because it adds to the buzz of our meet," said Keeneland president and CEO Nick Nicholson. "The TVG team's ability to provide outstanding racing analysis, along with insightful interviews with our sport's biggest newsmakers as well as behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes on here is extremely valuable to viewers. We appreciate their partnership."
"We are delighted that TVG recognizes the quality of Woodbine and Mohawk racing and have chosen to showcase our races again this year," said Steve Koch, vice president Thoroughbred racing, Woodbine Entertainment Group. "The exposure we received on TVG last year was a key contributor to Woodbine's success and one of the reasons why Woodbine was able to grow its handle in a declining market."
RACING TO HISTORY
April 7, 1973: In his second start as a three-year-old, Secretariat won the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct as the 1-10 favorite. His time of 1:33 2-5 for the mile equaled the track record for that distance.
April 7, 1979: Jockey Steve Cauthen made his first race in England a winning one, with Marquee Universal (IRE), at Salisbury.
April 8, 1971: New York City Off-Track Betting opened for business. Two branches were available to accept wagers: the Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan and an outlet in Queens. Total handle, including telephone betting, was $66,091.
April 8, 1991: Rider-turned-trainer Bill Shoemaker was paralyzed after an automobile accident.
April 8, 2001: "Seabiscuit: An American Legend", by Laura Hillenbrand, took over the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction after just three weeks in the nation's bookstores.
April 8, 2010: Undefeated Hall of Famer Personal Ensign died at age 26 of natural causes at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.
April 9, 1962: Jockey Ron Turcotte rode his first winner, at Fort Erie Racetrack.
April 9, 2009: Churchill Downs became the first racetrack to be accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.
April 10, 1969: I Double Dareya was ridden to victory by jockey Gilbert Hernandez at Golden Gate Fields. Hernandez also happened to be the horse's owner and trainer, giving him a triple win.
April 11, 1945 Future Triple Crown champion Citation was foaled at Calumet Farm, Lexington, Ky.
April 12, 1948: After winning seven consecutive races, Citation lost the Chesapeake Trial Stakes by a length to Saggy, but rebounded to post 16 consecutive victories, including the Triple Crown.
April 12, 1969: Jockey Sandra Schleiffers, one of the first female riders in America and a former member of the Sisters of St. Francis convent in Clinton, Iowa, won her first career race at Turf Paradise. Schleiffers subsequently became the first woman to be admitted to the Jockeys' Guild.
April 13, 1872: The Louisiana Jockey Club held its inaugural meet at Fair Grounds. The first race, a two-mile hurdle, was won by Templo.
April 14, 1936: The first Maryland race result ever decided by a photo-finish camera took place at Havre de Grace in the second race, in which a 7-1 shot, Alit, was declared the winner.
April 15, 1940: With the start of the racing season at Jamaica, New York became the last major racing state to adopt electronic parimutuel wagering, thus eliminating on-track bookmaking.
April 15, 1941: In preparation for the May 3 Kentucky Derby, Whirlaway worked 1 1/8 miles in 1:52 at Keeneland.
April 15, 1943: With many of the country's young men joining in the war effort, women exercise riders were first employed at Pimlico Racecourse.
April 15, 2004: Jerry Hollendorfer became just the sixth trainer in history to win 4,000 races.
April 16, 1995: At age 25, Kent Desormeaux became the youngest jockey to reach the 3,000-win mark when he rode Maisonaire to victory at Santa Anita Park.
April 17, 1972: Future champion filly Ruffian was foaled at Claiborne Farm, Paris, Ky.
April 18, 1970: The New York State Legislature passed a bill enabling off-track betting.
April 19, 1952: Native Dancer won his first race, at Jamaica racetrack.
April 19, 1969: Bill Veeck, promoter and president of Suffolk Downs, staged a $10,000 race featuring all female jockeys, then a novelty in racing. Called the Lady Godiva Stakes, the event attracted such riders as Diane Crump, Tuesdee Testa and Robyn Smith. It was Penny Ann Early, however, who won the race?her first career victory. The previous year, Early had attempted to ride at Churchill Downs, but the male jockeys boycotted and the race was canceled.
April 19, 2000: Jockey Pat Day guided first time starter Unbridled Time to victory in the second race at Keeneland, giving the 46-year-old a record 717 victories at the Lexington, Ky. track.
April 20, 1949: Jockey Bill Shoemaker won his first race, aboard Shafter V, at Golden Gate Fields in Albany, Calif.
April 20, 1999: Trainer Charlie Whittingham died in Pasadena, Calif., of complications from leukemia. He was 86.
WEEKEND STAKES RACES (unrestricted stakes in N.A. worth $75,000 and up)
FRIDAY, APRIL 8
Transylvania Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, Grade III, 1 1-16M (T), Keeneland
SATURDAY, APRIL 9
Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial, 3yo, $1,000,000, Grade I, 1 1-8M, Aqueduct
Santa Anita Derby, 3yo, $1,000,000, Grade I, 1 1-8M, Santa Anita Park
Central Bank Ashland Stakes, 3yo fillies, $400,000, Grade I, 1 1-16M, Keeneland
Oaklawn Handicap, 4&up, $350,000, Grade II, 1 1-8M, Oaklawn Park
Illinois Derby, 3yo, $300,000, Grade III, 1 1-8M, Hawthorne
Carter Handicap, 3&up, $250,000, Grade I, 7F, Aqueduct
Bay Shore Stakes, 3yo, $200,000, Grade III, 7F, Aqueduct
Arcadia Stakes, 4&up, $150,000, Grade II, 1M (T), Santa Anita Park
Providencia Stakes, 3yo fillies, $150,000, Grade II, 1 1-8M (T), Santa Anita Park
Comely Stakes, 3yo fillies, $150,000, Grade III, 1M, Aqueduct
Star Shoot Stakes, 3yo fillies, $150,000, 6F, Woodbine
Las Cienegas Handicap, 4&up (f&m), $100,000, Grade III, 6 1-2F (T), Santa Anita Park
SUNDAY, APRIL 10
Fantasy Stakes, 3yo fillies, $300,000, Grade II, 1 1-16M, Oaklawn Park
La Puente Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, 1 1-8M (T), Santa Anita Park
THURSDAY, APRIL 14
Vinery Madison Stakes, 4&up (f&m), $300,000, Grade I, 7F, Keeneland
Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, 4&up, $150,000, Grade III, 6F, Oaklawn Park