Monday, April 20 2009
FAVORED MIDSHIPS VIRTUALLY WALKS OFF WITH SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 19, 2009) – Finding a paceless field in North America’s longest graded stakes race, Midships took full advantage with a wire-to-wire victory by three-quarters of a length over Spring House in Sunday’s 70th running of the Grade II, $200,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at 1 ¾ miles over Santa Anita’s Camino Real turf course on the meet’s closing day.
Jockey Victory Espinoza, slowing the pace to a virtual crawl, therefore provided Juddmonte Farms and Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel with their first win in the historic race since 1996 when their Raintrap just happened to be the event’s last wire-to-wire winner.
ON-TRACK BUSINESS AT SANTA ANITA UP, FREE FRIDAYS, SANTA ANITA DERBY LEAD WAY
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 19, 2009)—Santa Anita Park concluded its 84-day winter/spring meeting in robust fashion on Sunday, posting the first gain in on-track attendance at any major California racetrack since the summer of 2007 at Del Mar.
Leading the way was Santa Anita’s “Free Fridays” promotion, which offered fans free on-track General Admission, free box seating and one dollar concessions, along with a robust Santa Anita Derby Day crowd on April 4 of 50,915, which helped Santa Anita to post a one percent gain in on-track attendance, reversing a trend of steep declines at racetracks nationwide.
PIONEEROF THE NILE NAMED HORSE OF MEET IN MEDIA POLL
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 19, 2009) – Pioneerof the Nile, who won the Santa Anita Derby to remain unbeaten in three stakes at the meet and establish himself as a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby on May 2, was named Horse of the Meet in Santa Anita’s annual Media Poll.
“It’s hard to win three stakes in one meet in California,” trainer Bob Baffert said when apprised of the honor. “This is the toughest circuit in America, so for him to dominate makes us very proud. He made all the top 3-year-olds leave town. That’s when you know you have a good horse, so his accomplishment is very satisfying.”
Barn Notes 4-19-2009
Pletcher & McPeek Remain Tied With Three Days to Go
Trainers Todd Pletcher and Ken McPeek each had a winner Saturday at Gulfstream Park and remained tied in the standings at 33 victories apiece with three days to go before the meet closes on Thursday, but the numbers now make Pletcher the solid favorite to gain a sixth straight championship here.
Both trainers have runners entered in two races Sunday, but Pletcher has seven horses in five races Wednesday and two more Thursday while McPeek has just one on Wednesday and none Thursday. The top two are well clear of their closest rivals, Nick Zito and Wesley Ward, tied for third with 21 victories each.
Parading Turns Ben Ali Into One-Horse Race
Lexington, Ky. (April 19, 2009)—Parading turned a highly competitive Ben Ali Stakes (G1) into a one-horse race Sunday at Keeneland, drawing away to a 7 ½-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile, $150,000 event for 4-year-olds and upward.
The 6-year-old son of Pulpit broke away from a three-horse battle for the lead midway down the backstretch, brought a substantial advantage into the stretch and then just drew away for his sixth career win.
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Keeneland Barn Notes—Sunday April 19, 2009
FRIESAN FIRE TURNS IN FINAL KEENELAND WORK BEFORE HEADING TO LOUISVILLE
On Sunday around 7 a.m. as light rain fell, trainer Larry Jones on his pony, Pal, accompanied Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Friesan Fire and jockey Gabriel Saez to Keeneland’s main track for the colt’s final work at Keeneland before he heads to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). Jones galloped alongside Friesan Fire and Saez before turning the colt loose for his one-mile work, timed in 1:39.60.
As the colt was rounding the final turn, a huge plane at Blue Grass Airport across Versailles Road took off with a thunderous roar, distracting a few observers but apparently not bothering Friesan Fire. Clockers caught Friesan Fire’s eighth-mile splits in :13.52, :12.41, :12.44, :12.63, :12.50, :12.48, 11:91 and 12.00.
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21 HORSES NOMINATED TO 9TH RUNNING OF THE CHRIS THOMAS TURF CLASSIC
OLDSMAR, Fla. (April 19, 2009) The ninth edition of the $75,000 Chris Thomas Turf Classic, a 1 1/8 miles grass test for three-year-olds and upward to be run on May 2, has drawn 21 nominations. Among them is Fearless Eagle, winner of the $85,000 Kinsman Stable Turf Classic at the 1 1/8 miles distance on Florida Cup Day, April 4. Fearless Eagle is a multiple stakes winning five-year-old son of Invisible Ink who has never finished out of the money at Tampa Bay Downs and as scored four of his six lifetime wins running on the grass for conditioner Edward Plesa and owner Isaac Muhtar.
BAZE RIDES FOUR WINNERS AT GOLDEN GATE FIELDS
ALBANY -- Leading jockey Russell Baze padded his victory total Sunday at Golden Gate Fields by riding four winners.
Baze teamed with leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer to take the first two races with She'smylittleman ($3.20) and Quite the Man ($4.40). Baze then captured the fifth race with the Steve-Sherman trained Always Trying ($3.40) and the eighth with the Doug O'Neill-conditioned Ukiah ($4.60).
Sunday, April 19 2009
Dubai-based Regal Ransom, Desert Party and Illinois Derby Winner Musket Man Sharp In Saturday Works
LOUISVILLE, KY. (April 18, 2009) – Godolphin’s pair of contenders for the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) – Desert Party and Regal Ransom – turned in sharp works Saturday in their first serious training at Churchill Downs, while Illinois Derby (GII) winner Musket Man worked a strong six furlongs under Derby jockey Eibar Coa.
UAE Derby (GII) winner Regal Ransom turned in one of the best works of the day as he zipped five furlongs over a “fast” track in :59.80 under exercise rider Bob Chapman. The son of Distorted Humor worked shortly after the track opened for training on the perfect spring morning and carved out fractions of :12/60, :24.20, :35.80 and :48 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.
Barn Notes 4-18-2009
Dunkirk Drills at Palm Meadows Saturday Morning
Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s 3-year-old Dunkirk, runner-up in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Mar. 28, worked a solid five furlongs in 59:90 Saturday morning at Palm Meadows as he continues his preparation for the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs on Sat., May 2.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the roan/gray son of Unbridled’s Song appears almost certain to be assured a berth in the Kentucky Derby field limited to 20 based on graded-stakes earnings with $150,000 after several defections announced this week.
Miss Blakely Rallies to Boynton Beach Upset
Capital Hill Thoroughbreds’ 3-year-old filly Miss Blakely came a long way from breaking her maiden for a $25,000 claiming price in December to the winners’ circle at Gulfstream Park Saturday after rallying in the stretch to upset the $50,000 Boynton Beach Stakes by 2½ lengths over Three Diamonds Farm’s 27-1 longshot Seminole Lass.
Jeffrey Sanchez rode Miss Blakely to victory for trainer Joe Orseno in the one mile turf test, the final stakes on the Gulfstream schedule before closing day on Thursday. The daughter of Smart Strike paid $25 for $2 to win and was timed in 1:34:94 over ‘firm’ ground. Chester Bishop and partners’ pace-setter Oilgonewile finished third, a half-length before the runner-up in the field of nine 3-year-old fillies.
SMOOTH SAILING FOR SEATTLE SMOOTH IN BED O’ROSES
Mercedes Stable’s Seattle Smooth might not have been fully cranked for Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Bed O’Roses, but it turned out she didn’t have to be.
As luck would have it, she caught an easy spot to make her 2009 seasonal debut and waltzed away to 5 ¾-length victory in this 53rd renewal of the seven-furlong sprint for fillies and mares on Aqueduct’s fast main track.