The morning after watching Forever Together win the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) at Santa Anita, the crew at trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s barn all wore big smiles on their faces. Forever Together spent nearly the entire month of October at Keeneland, where she won the First Lady (G1) on opening day of the fall meeting and worked twice over the Polytrack before leaving for Santa Anita on Wednesday.
“She just blossomed while she was here,” said assistant Barry Wiseman about the four-year-old daughter of Belong to Me who races for George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable. “Training on the Polytrack really moved her up.”
WAYZATA BAY INTRODUCES TRAINER TO KENTUCKY IN CLOSING-DAY FAYETTE
When she drove through the Keeneland barn area for the first time the other day, trainer Judi Hicklin said she was taken aback when she read the signs hanging over the reserved parking spaces near the barns and bearing the last names of trainers—many of whom are among the most successful in Thoroughbred racing.
“I saw the names of those famous people, and I thought, ‘Oh my God. What am I doing here?’ ” said Hicklin with a laugh.
Today, Hicklin will saddle Grade 3 winner Wayzata Bay in the 50th running of the Fayette (G3), a 1 1/8-mile, $150,000 race for three-year-olds and older horses. Hicklin, who is from Des Moines, Iowa, has been training since 1990 and has a small stable that races in the Midwest in the summer and at Tampa Bay Downs in winter. She is making her Kentucky training debut in the Fayette.
Wayzata Bay is a six-year-old homebred son of Roar who races for Isaac “Gene” Phelps’ World Thoroughbreds Racing Inc. Phelps named the horse after a noted scenic area west of Minneapolis-St. Paul where he has a home. In five campaigns, Wayzata Bay has won 12 of 44 races, including three consecutive runnings of the Prairie Meadows Handicap, and has earned $680,198 to rank as the leading earner among the Fayette’s 11 starters. In June, Wayzata Bay became a graded stakes winner when he won the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3).
For trainer Paul McGee, Wayzata Bay had made two previous starts at Keeneland that include a ninth-place finish in the Fayette in 2006. Hicklin believes the horse has improved as he’s gotten older, and today she expects him to perform better over the Polytrack. Wayzata Bay returns to the Fayette off a third-place finish behind Fairbanks and Magna Graduate in the 1 1/4-mile Hawthorne Gold Cup (G3) on September 27. The Keeneland race fit nicely into the horse’s schedule, Hicklin said.
“We like to run him about every 30 days, and this worked out really good with the timing,” said Hicklin, adding that Phelps owns a farm in nearby Midway, Kentucky, and wanted to race Wayzata Bay in Kentucky.
Israel Ocampo, who has ridden Wayzata Bay in his last five races, will again be aboard the horse in the Fayette. Wayzata Bay is the 6-1 third choice in the morning line.
“I don’t see much speed in the race, so I think he’ll be pretty close,” Hicklin said. “We’re hoping for big things.”
RACE FOR LEADING TRAINER DOWN TO WIRE
Heading into the final day of Keeneland’s fall meeting on Saturday, Mike Maker is the winningest trainer of the season with eight victories and will send out one more horse in his quest for his first leading trainer’s title at the track. However, the race is still to be decided. Second with seven wins is Ken McPeek, who has four horses scheduled to run on Saturday.
Al Stall Jr. currently ranks third with six wins. Also tied at six is Bill Mott, who has two horses entered at Keeneland on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Robby Albarado seems to have locked up his third title as Keeneland’s leading jockey. Albarado, who is riding in the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita, has 22 wins at Keeneland. Albarado also was Keeneland’s leading jockey for the spring 2002 and spring 2003 meetings.
During the fall meeting, Albarado won three stakes: the Darley Alcibiades (G1) on Dream Empress, the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) on Thorn Song and the Thoroughbred Club of America (G3) on Indyanne. Albarado’s 41 career stakes wins at Keeneland rank him fourth among the track’s all-time leading riders by stakes victories.
Second behind Albarado with 19 wins in Julien Leparoux, also riding in the Breeders’ Cup.
Among owners, Ken and Sarah Ramsey are leading with seven victories. The Ramseys also were Keeneland’s leading owners in the fall 2007(tie), spring 2006, spring 2004 (tie) and fall 2002 (tie).
SIMULCAST RACING ACTION CONTINUES AT KEENELAND
The close of the live meet doesn’t mean the end of racing action at Keeneland, which will offer a full schedule of simulcast racing beginning Sunday, October 26.
Keeneland will simulcast Wednesdays through Sundays, with the exception of Veteran’s Day, Tuesday November 11, when a limited simulcast card will be offered.
Simulcast racing will be featured from Aqueduct, Tropical at Calder, Churchill Downs, Delaware, Fair Grounds, Golden Gate, Hawthorne, Hollywood, Hoosier Park, Laurel, Oak Tree at Santa Anita, Philadelphia Park, Suffolk and Woodbine.
Keeneland’s popular Turf and Tackle Pick 4 contest begins Sunday, October 26 and runs each Sunday through December 14. Race fans compete for $400 in prize money by selecting the winners of two NFL football games and two stakes races (or other designated races).
2008 KEENELAND FALL MEET LEADERS
(Stats Through Friday, October 24)
Current Meet Leading Jockeys
Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Purses
Robby Albarado 104 22 19 20 $1,760,622
Julien Leparoux 114 19 14 9 $1,154,574
Miguel Mena 112 12 17 10 $491,209
Jesus Castanon 94 10 15 4 $353,591
Kent Desormeaux 55 9 6 5 $820,342
Rene Douglas 97 8 9 12 $522,056
John Velazquez 34 8 3 5 $818,162
Jamie Theriot 83 6 12 10 $579,509
Calvin Borel 83 6 8 6 $357,820
Shaun Bridgmohan 71 6 1 11 $249,967
Current Meet Leading Trainers
Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Purses
Michael Maker 37 8 3 4 $196,311
Ken McPeek 39 7 5 4 $532,898
Albert Stall Jr. 16 6 5 1 $292,563
Bill Mott 32 6 3 4 $360,960
George Arnold II 33 5 5 3 $240,350
Ian Wilkes 16 5 1 3 $149,647
Kiaran McLaughlin 21 4 3 2 $601,199
Todd Pletcher 41 4 1 4 $328,146
Current Meet Leading Owners
Ken & Sarah Ramsey 7
Adele B. Dilschneider & Claiborne Farm 4
Zayat Stables LLC 4
Augustin Stable 3
G. Watts Humphrey Jr. 3