Friday, February 20 2009
Impressive Allowance Victory Puts Dunkirk on Target for Florida Derby
Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s 3-year-old Dunkirk made headlines before he ever started as a $3.7 million Keeneland September yearling purchase, but he’s making them on the track now after drawing off to an explosive 4¾-length victory in Thursday’s eighth race allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.
With jockey Garrett Gomez flying in from California for the mount, Dunkirk broke well enough in the 1 1/8-mile test but was carried very wide in the first turn. However, the roan/gray colt by Unbridled’s Song moved up steadily down the backstretch and took command with authority in the stretch while drawing clear from A. Steven Miles Jr.’s Warrior’s Reward second in the field of 10 3-year-olds.
BAZE EXTENDS LEAD WITH PAIR OF VICTORIES
ALBANY -- Jockey Russell Baze extended his lead in the Golden Gate Fields jockey standings by riding a pair of winners Thursday.
Baze recorded his wins in back-to-back races aboard heavy favorites. The Hall of Famer won the second race with Leo the Cat ($4.00) and the third with Moon Moment ($4.20).
Baze has won 57 races through 36 days of racing at the 2008-2009 winter/spring meeting and owns a commanding 25-victory lead over Frank Alvarado, who has won 32 races.
Thursday, February 19 2009
HUBER VILLA GOMEZ BOOTS HOME THREE WINNERS
OLDSMAR, Fla. (February 19, 2009) Huber Villa-Gomez escorted three horses to the winners’ circle on today’s card, giving him fifteen wins for the 2008-2009 Tampa Bay Downs racing season.
Villa-Gomez got his first victory in the day’s opener aboard Speculator, a four-year-old Exchange Rate gelding bred in Florida by Marianne Chess, conditioned by Manuel Criollo, and owned by the breeder. Villa-Gomez also visited the winners’ circle in the fourth race aboard Always in Love, a three-y ear-old gelded son of Northern Afleet saddled by Jorge Navarro, Jr. for owner Julian De Mora.
MOR CHANCES RUNS AWAY WITH HOLLIE HUGHES
The toughest part of handicapping Thursday’s 31st running of the $70,200 Hollie Hughes for New York-breds at six furlongs was figuring out who would take the lead.
The answer wasn’t much clearer when the gates opened, as Mor Chance, Good Card, Citifest and Gold and Roses all broke fast and clean.
But within a few strides, favored Mor Chance separated himself from the field and finally carried jockey Richard Migliore to a 2 ½-length victory in 1:09.72 on the fast inner dirt track.
Read more articles in the Aqueduct
PAST WINNERS MAY BE OVERMATCHED IN SUNDAY’S SAN LUIS OBISPO
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 19, 2009) – Spring House, the defending champion, and Obrigado, the 2007 winner, are among 14 turf marathoners named to Sunday’s 53rd running of the Grade II, $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap, but neither is expected to be a top contender in the talented field going 1 ½ miles on turf at Santa Anita.
In addition to Obrigado, Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale entered two others including 119-pound co-high weight Artiste Royal, winner of the Grade II San Marcos Handicap in his last start on Jan. 15 and a victor last June of Hollywood Park’s Grade I Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap.
STABLE NOTES, THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19TH, 2009
FRANKEL CALLS AUDIBLE, ENTERS ZAMBESI SUN IN SUNDAY’S SAN LUIS OBISPO
Zambesi Sun, a highly regarded Group 1 winner in Europe who had been scheduled to make his United States debut in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on Pro-Ride on March 7, instead has been entered in Sunday’s San Luis Obispo Handicap scheduled for 1 ½ miles on turf by Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who still plans to run the English-bred horse in the Big ’Cap.
“I might have missed a little training, so this way it will be like a workout for him,” Frankel said of the English-bred son of the Danehill stallion Dansili. Asked if Zambesi Sun would still be a candidate for the Big ’Cap, Frankel said, “Of course. It shouldn’t take too much out of him, on the grass.”
LONE SPEED IS FAVORED IN MARYLAND RACING MEDIA HANDICAP
LAUREL, MD. 02-19-09---Hello Poochi Pooh holds a big advantage as the only sprinter in Saturday’s $50,000 Maryland Racing Media Handicap. The 4-year-old is the 6-5 favorite to beat four other fillies and mares in the nine furlong test at Laurel Park.
Hello Poochi Pooh, who campaigned in Florida last year, has made two visually impressive starts at Laurel, finishing a strong second in an entry level allowance in late December and storming to a 9-1/2 length victory under the same conditions three weeks later.
Read more articles in the Laurel
Gladiatorus storms the Fort
Local trainer Mubarak Bin Shafya and horses trained in the UK shared the honours at Thursday’s seventh meeting of the 2009 Dubai International Racing Carnival with three winners apiece.
Bin Shafya’s treble included the ultra impressive victory of Gladiatorus in the night’s feature, the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort over 1600m on the Nad Al Sheba turf.
Read more articles in the Meydan
Criticism & ‘Backseat’ Return in The Very One Sunday
Darley Stable’s 5-year-old English-bred Criticism made a big impression winning the Long Island Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct in her second American start last fall and Paul Pompa Jr.’s 4-year-old Grade 1-winning filly Backseat Rhythm makes her 2009 season debut as the two clash in Sunday’s $100,000 The Very One Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Jockey Edgar Prado rides Criticism for trainer Tom Albertrani in the 11-furlong turf test for fillies and mares as she makes her first start since capturing the 12-furlong Long Island on Nov. 1 after a runner-up effort in the Athenia Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park. Those were her only two starts last year.
Barn Notes GP 2-19
Gray Gains Foothold at Gulfstream
Two female turf runners are helping trainer Liz Gray make an impact in her first winter with a public stable at Gulfstream Park, with Kamal Fustok’s Leap in the Sun her latest name-maker heading into Sunday’s $100,000 The Very One Stakes (G3).
Last Sunday, Andrew Farm and Frank O’Connor’s Obsequious finished third in the $125,000 Coconut Grove Stakes. It was the 3-year-old daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus’s first stakes-placing and one of the biggest paydays for Gray since she returned to the backstretch last year.
Presious Passion & Always First Clash Again in Mac Diarmida Saturday
Patricia Generazio’s 5-year-old gelding Presious Passion returns home to Gulfstream Park from a runner-up effort in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita in his last start, and Merriefield Farm and Charles Noell’s 8-year-old gelding Always First ships in from Maryland to meet in Saturday’s $150,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2).
Jockey Elvis Trujillo gets a return call on Presious Passion for trainer Mary Hartmann, breaking from the far outside 12 post. Rider Rene Douglas has been retained on Always First for trainer Tom Voss and they drew post 6 in the 1 3/8-mile turf test.
Barn Notes 2-18
Presious Passion Happy Back Home at Gulfstream
The extended dry weather in South Florida this winter is exactly what the connections of Patricia Generazio’s Grade 1-winning turf star Presious Passion have been hoping for as the 6-year-old gelding goes into Saturday’s $150,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Trainer Mary Hartmann says the son of Royal Anthem loves firm ground, and she’s warily watching the weather for any sign of rain even though the area has had only 32/100ths of an inch of precipitation this year. She points to the gelding’s runner-up finish in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita where rain dampened the usually firm Southern California course (it was rated ‘good’ that day).