Friday, February 20 2009
Kentucky Derby 135 Update (2.20.09)
SOUTHEAST/UNBEATEN DUNKIRK LIVES UP TO BILLING, PRICE TAG IN GULFSTREAM ALLOWANCE WIN
Favored Dunkirk, a star in the sales ring well before he made it to the races, lived up to his considerable advance billing with a powerful 4 ¾-length victory in a strong 3-year-old allowance race on Thursday at Gulfstream Park. The emphatic win stamped the lightly-raced colt as a serious contender for the 135th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade 1) at Churchill Downs on May 2.
The gray son of Unbridled’s Song, a $3.7 million purchase as a yearling in Keeneland’s 2007 September Sale, overcame a wide journey around the first turn in the 1 1/8-mile contest, grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch and drew clear to turn back runner-up Warrior’s Reward and eight other 3-year-olds. Sincero, a 48-1 longshot, finished third and More Than Willing was fourth.
ELYSIUM FIELDS SCORES IMPRESSIVELY AFTER 11-MONTH LAYOFF
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 19, 2009) – Regarded as a leading Kentucky Derby prospect before finishing eleventh in last year’s Florida Derby, Elysium Fields resurfaced as a 4-year-old Thursday to score an impressive 1 ¾-length victory over pace-setter Fiery Trippi in Santa Anita’s $52,712 allowance feature at 1 1/16 miles.
With Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, Elysium Fields surged between horses in the closing yards to draw clear while covering the distance in 1:43.45 after the runner-up had set some pedestrian early fractions under Mike Smith that included a 49.33 half-mile.
JOHN VELAZQUEZ WINS SANTA ANITA WOOLF AWARD
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 19, 2009)—John Velazquez, a native of Puerto Rico and a two-time Eclipse award winning jockey, has been selected by a vote of his peers as the 2009 winner of the Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. The Woolf Announcement was made Thursday on HRTV by retired Hall of Fame jockey and past Woolf winner Gary Stevens.
Presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950, this year marks the 60th presentation of one of racing’s most prestigious awards. The Woolf Award honors and recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
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.