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Derby winner Orb to ship to Baltimore Monday

Posted on 09 May 2013 by WNST Staff

DERBY WINNER ORB PLEASES TRAINER; SCHEDULED TO SHIP TO PIMLICO MONDAY

 

Goldencents Jogs over Pimlico track; Hernandez Set for First Preakness Ride

 

BALTIMORE, 05-09-13—Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb pleased trainer Shug McGaughey during his morning visit to the sloppy track at Belmont Park Thursday. The Kentucky Derby (G1) winner also gave exercise rider Jenn Patterson all the right signs in his preparation for the 138th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico on May 18.

 

“He jogged three-eighths to a half-mile and galloped a mile. I thought everything was good,” said McGaughey, whose colt had jogged a mile on a sloppy track Wednesday in his first visit to the track since his 2 ½-length victory at Churchill Downs last Saturday. “The track was still sloppy. Jenn said he was kind of bucking and playing and jumping the water puddles on the backstretch. I was pleased with what I saw. His energy level is right where you’d want it to be on Thursday after Saturday.”

 

McGaughey outlined the challenge he faces while preparing Orb for a return to the races in just two weeks.

 

“The first thing we’ve got to do and what we’ve been doing is getting him over his last race – try to get him back on his feet the best we can, get him fresh and happy again,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “Next week, we’ll get him ready to run again and that’ll hopefully be through the breeze on Monday. We just want to put him back in the game. We don’t need anything fast, just something that puts his mind back on what he’s doing. Then, we’ll get him to Pimlico and get him acclimated. There’s not much else we can do.”

 

McGaughey, who said it was likely that Orb would ship to Pimlico on Monday following his breeze that morning, expressed confidence that his Derby winner was up to the challenge of running back in two weeks.

 

“Day in and day out, with your better horses, you don’t want to run them back in two weeks, because they give you a lot when they run. You’ve got to train them a little bit to get them to run again,” McGaughey said. “There’s no compromise here. You’ve got to do it. You’ve just got to hope you haven’t drained your horse over the winter with prep races and his training, so he can bounce out of a big race like he had on Derby Day. But I think we’ll be fine.”

 

Goldencents, the only Preakness candidate on the Pimlico grounds thus far, is also set for the two-week turnaround following his 17th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Into Mischief returned to the track for the first time since the Derby Thursday morning when he jogged once around the Pimlico oval under jockey Kevin Krigger.

 

The Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner was shipped from Kentucky Monday afternoon and arrived at Pimlico early Tuesday morning. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt walked the shedrow Tuesday and Wednesday morning and was given his first bit of exercise for the Preakness by Krigger at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

 

Assistant trainer Jack Sisterson said that Goldencents will jog and gallop Friday morning and will have a timed workout on Monday.

 

“Basically, this morning was just to have him stretch his legs, get warmed up for tomorrow,” Krigger said. “It was more to feel how good he felt and he felt perfect today. Everything was good. He was smooth, graceful on the track, and relaxed. That’s all the factors you’re looking for.”

 

O’Neill sent 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another to Pimlico the Monday after the race to prepare for the Preakness, which the colt won. Though Goldencents did not match I’ll Have Another’s result in the Derby, finishing 17th after contesting the early pace, O’Neill is using a similar program to get him to the Preakness.

 

“It was successful last year, so why change it?” Sisterson said.

 

Goldencents, a three-time stakes winner, got his first look at the Pimlico track during the easy jog.

 

“This is one of the first steps training-wise leading up to the Preakness,” Sisterson said. “We just jogged him and we were very happy. There was no sign of stiffness or tightness. His energy level was high. He’s a very happy horse.”

 

Krigger has ridden Goldencents in all seven of his career starts and said the Derby, run on a sloppy, sealed track at Churchill Downs, was an uncharacteristic performance.

 

“The key to him is to have him run his race,” Krigger said. “If you look at the Kentucky Derby, at least to me, that wasn’t the race we expected to see out of him at all. We had a lot of factors in the race that could have been the reason. We’re here trying to regroup, gather him back up and get back on the winning trail.”

 

Sisterson and other members of the O’Neill staff have been enjoying their second visit to Baltimore for the Preakness. The Maryland Jockey Club arranged for them to attend a Baltimore Orioles game against the Kansas City Royals Thursday night.

 

“We said last year that we’d love to get back,” Sisterson said. “We didn’t expect it to be the year after.”

 

As of Thursday, as many as eight Derby starters could make the same quick turnaround at Pimlico. The Al Stall Jr.-trained Departing, who captured the Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne in his last start, will have the luxury of four weeks between starts.

 

Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., who is looking forward to his first Preakness appearance, recalled his first ride aboard Departing at Fair Grounds last December. Seven weeks after capping off his 27th birthday with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on Fort Larned, Hernandez was on a roll at Fair Grounds with four victories from eight mounts.

 

“I had just won on Bind and Al was bragging on this first-time starter in the next race,” Hernandez said. “That was Departing. I had never been on him and he ran huge. He was my fifth winner and the most impressive.”

 

Fast forward nearly five months later and Departing, owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, has emerged as one of the top contenders to Kentucky Derby winner Orb in the Preakness.

 

Hernandez has been aboard Departing for all five of his starts, all victories save for a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2).

 

Following the Louisiana Derby, the Kentucky Derby was ruled out and Departing was pointed to the Illinois Derby (G3), a race he won by 3 ¼ lengths despite breaking from the No. 13 post position.

 

“After the Louisiana Derby, they made the plan to go to the Illinois Derby and then the Preakness,” Hernandez said. “I can’t be disappointed in missing the Derby. We have a chance to upset Orb and the Preakness is not a bad race to run in.”

 

“After this meet was over, I used to ride at Delaware Park and I have ridden some at Laurel but never at Pimlico,” Hernandez said. “I am going to go over a day early and ride a horse for Al (Tread in the Miss Preakness Stakes).”

 

Departing continued his Preakness preparations Thursday morning at Churchill Downs, galloping two miles over a fast track under Trina Pasckvale.

 

“We changed it up a little bit this morning, but we had the luxury to do that,” Stall said of a break in the regular routine of galloping 1 ½ miles.

 

With a 60-percent chance of rain in the forecast for Friday, Stall said he plans to give Departing his final work for the Preakness at Churchill on Sunday morning.

 

GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm’s Mylute jogged in the mile chute and then galloped 1 ½ miles at Churchill Downs for trainer Tom Amoss.

 

Amoss said a decision on the fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher’s status for the Preakness would be made after training Saturday. If Mylute is a go for Baltimore, he would represent a second Preakness starter for Amoss, who saddled Hot Wells for a fourth-place finish behind Real Quiet in 1998.

 

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent all three of his Preakness candidates to the track at Churchill Thursday morning. Oxbow and Will Take Charge, the sixth- and eighth-place Derby finishers, respectively, galloped 1 ½ miles. Titletown Five jogged twice around the track.

 

Bob Baffert-trained Govenor Charlie also jogged at Churchill.

 

On the morning after his arrival at Monmouth Park from Churchill Downs, Itsmyluckyday went to the track for a two-mile jog Thursday morning.

 

“It was kind of a nasty morning and since we just arrived yesterday from Churchill we just jogged him,” said Frankie Perez, assistant to trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., who was enroute from South Florida to New Jersey. ”From a scale from one to 10, he was a 10.”

 

The Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) winner, who finished a disappointing 15th in the Kentucky Derby, will be ridden for the first time by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the Preakness.

 

Normandy Invasion jogged in the rain at Belmont Park for a second day Thursday. Trainer Chad Brown said that the fourth-place finisher in the Derby is 50-50 for the Preakness. He expects to make a decision over the weekend after he has had a chance to watch the Tapit colt gallop.

 

Vyjack remains a candidate for the Preakness, but trainer Rudy Rodriguez said Thursday that no decision has been made on whether Pick Six Racing’s gelding will be entered. Due to the wet weather in New York this week, Rodriguez has not been able to do very much with the gelding since he returned from Kentucky after finishing 18th in the Derby.

 

“We’ve been babying him,” Rodriguez said. “I would like to gallop him and see what’s going on.”

 

Rodriguez said that after he has the opportunity to watch Vyjack gallop a couple days, he will talk about the Preakness with owner David Wilkenfeld.

 

“I’m just going to wait and make my decision and then tell the owner what is going on,” he said. “So far, everything is good. I have to talk with the owner first and see what he wants to do.”

Trainer Greg Geier said Thursday that he will make a decision on running James Tafel’s Street Spice in the Preakness after he breezes the colt Saturday morning in Chicago. Tafel bred and owned 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, who is the sire of Street Spice. Geier trains eight horses for Tafel.

 

NEARLY 500 HORSES NOMINATED TO PREAKNESS WEEKEND STAKES

While the Preakness is rightfully the centerpiece of the Pimlico spring meeting, sixteen other stakes (six graded) for thoroughbreds will provide a weekend full of excitement for racing fans. A total of 499 horses were nominated to those added-money races.

The $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) and $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) headline the Friday, May 17 card that features six other stakes races. Thirty-one three-year-old fillies were nominated to the Black-Eyed Susan, including Sagamore Farms Walkwithapurpose, who won a pair of stakes races at Laurel Park this winter. Thirty runners were nominated to the Pimlico Special, including Maryland-bred Richard’s Kid, who has earned $2.3 million and won three Grade 1 races.

Thirty-five fillies were nominated to the $100,000 Miss Preakness Stakes. Thirty-two horses were nominated to the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint, including 15-time stakes winner Ben’s Cat. Thirty-five female turf specialists were nominated to the $100,000 The Very One Stakes, while twenty-six were nominated to the $100,000 Skipat Stakes. Thirty-six three-year-old fillies were nominated to the $100,000 Hilltop Stakes and another sixteen to the $40,000 Kattegat’s Pride Starter Handicap for Maryland-breds.

The Pimlico racing office will draw the May 17 card on Sunday afternoon.

The Saturday, May 18 Preakness undercard features eight added money races, including four graded. Thirty-six top grass specialists were entered in the $300,000 Dixie Stakes (G2). Thirty-two fillies and mares were nominated to the $150,000 Gallorette Handicap (G3). The $150,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) features forty-one nominations. Twenty-five fillies and mares were nominated to the $150,000 Allaire duPont Distaff (G3). Thirty-three three-year-old sprinters were nominated to the $100,000 Chick Lang. Forty-four turf specialists were nominated to the $100,000 James Murphy. Twenty-eight two-year olds were nominated to the $75,000 Rollicking Stakes. There were nineteen Maryland-breds on the list for the $40,000 Deputed Testamony Starter Handicap.

The Pimlico racing office will draw the May 18 card on Wednesday, May 15.

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Derby winner Orb works at Belmont in preparation for Preakness

Posted on 08 May 2013 by WNST Staff

DERBY WINNER ORB RETURNS TO RACETRACK TO PREP FOR PREAKNESS STAKES

 

Velazquez to Ride Itsmyluckyday; Smith Gains Mount on Will Take Charge; Leparoux Aboard Titletown Five

 

BALTIMORE, 05-08-13 – On a rainy Wednesday morning at Belmont Park, Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb went to the racetrack for the first time since his Kentucky Derby victory last Saturday, jogging a mile under exercise rider Jenn Patterson in preparation for the Preakness Stakes on May 18.

 

“The weather was terrible, so instead of galloping, he just jogged,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “It was a pretty miserable morning when he went out. But Jenn said he was feeling good and moving good. All signs are good.”

 

Although plans changed Wednesday due to the muddy track, McGaughey said Orb will gallop Thursday morning, rain or shine, and is likely to breeze on Monday before shipping to Pimlico Race Course on Tuesday.

 

After adding a Kentucky Derby victory to his Hall of Fame resume, McGaughey has been somewhat overwhelmed by the avalanche of congratulations and tributes to his consummate horsemanship.

 

“It’s hugely appreciated. I appreciated the reception we got in Louisville. What’s happened after the Derby is absolutely mind-boggling and very, very flattering for me,” McGaughey said. “The phone calls, the emails, the newspaper articles have just been absolutely wonderful. Nobody knows how much how I appreciate this reception.”

 

McGaughey has long been respected for his low-key, no-nonsense approach to training thoroughbreds.

 

“I try to conduct myself in the right way and try to run my stable in the best possible way. I try to surround myself with good people, who played a role in this,” he said. “I think that people have appreciated that. I had no idea that a horse race could bring that out.”

 

Itsmyluckyday, who arrived at Monmouth Park from Churchill Downs Wednesday morning, will have a new rider for the Preakness. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will replace Elvis Trujillo aboard the Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) winner, who finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby.

 

“We had an opportunity to ride John Velazquez. No slight to Elvis Trujillo. Elvis did a fantastic job, no question. The Derby was what the Derby was. It was a racetrack that was unfavorable to our horse,” trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said. “But with John being open, we just felt that we had to take advantage of having one of the very top riders in the country.”

 

The son of Lawyer Ron had returned to the racetrack Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs, where he jogged two miles.

 

Five-time Preakness-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas has firmed up the jockey assignments for his three Preakness candidates. He reported Wednesday morning that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will replace Jon Court aboard Will Take Charge, while Julien Leparoux will have the mount aboard Titletown Five and Gary Stevens will retain the mount on Oxbow.

 

Smith, 47, has competed in the Preakness 14 times since 1984. He picked up his lone win on Prairie Bayou in 1993 and has two seconds on his resume: Mine That Bird in 2009 and Bodemeister in 2012. Leparoux has been blanked with five Preakness mounts, including 2008 second-place finisher Macho Again. Stevens has ridden two Preakness winners, Silver Charm (1997) and Point Given (2001), from 16 mounts.

 

Titletown Five, who finished fourth in the Derby Trial (G3), walked the shedrow at Churchill Downs Wednesday following his half-mile work of: 47 3/5 on Tuesday. The son of Tiznow is owned in partnership by Lukas, Pro Football Hall of Famers Paul Hornung and Willie Davis, plus Ed Martin, David Miller and Margaret Shade.

 

Lukas sent Calumet Farm’s Oxbow and Willis Horton’s Will Take Charge to the track for the first time Wednesday since their respective sixth- and eighth-place finishes in the Kentucky Derby.

 

“I was going to walk them another day, but I had them out on the lawn yesterday about 3 and they were so disruptive, I was afraid they were going to hurt themselves,” Lukas said. “I had to bring them out today.”

 

Oxbow and Will Take Charge both jogged twice around the Churchill track.

 

Trainer Doug O’Neill’s Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Goldencents walked the shedrow at his barn at Pimlico for 30 minutes Wednesday morning. He will return to the track at 8:30 Thursday morning for the first time since finishing 17th in the Kentucky Derby last Saturday.

 

Goldencents shipped from Kentucky Monday and was the first Preakness candidate to arrive at Pimlico.

 

“He’s great. He’s settled in really well,” said assistant trainer Jack Sisterson. “We’re happy with him.”

 

Eleven other horses from O’Neill’s stable traveled overnight from Kentucky and arrived at Pimlico at 4 a.m. Wednesday. Some of them will compete at Pimlico.

 

“It depends how they train over the track,” Sisterson said. “We expect to run a few, but we’re going to make sure that they’re all 100 percent before we make a decision. They all shipped in well.”

 

Jockey Kevin Krigger, who will be aboard Goldencents when he goes out to jog Thursday, has a mount on Sunday’s program at Pimlico.

 

GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm’s fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Mylute returned to the track for the first time since the Run for the Roses with an easy jog early Wednesday morning at Churchill.

 

“Everything was fine this morning,” trainer Tom Amoss said. “He will gallop the rest of the week and the partnership will get together Saturday after training and make a decision on the Preakness.”

 

Mike Pegram’s Governor Charlie came out of his work on Tuesday in fine shape and remains a prospect for the Preakness, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Wednesday morning.

 

The Midnight Lute colt completed six furlongs on 1:11 2/5 at Churchill Downs. Following his routine, Baffert will fly in from California and watch the colt breeze before making the call on whether to enter the Preakness.

 

“He’s going to work Sunday or Monday and then I’ll decide,” Baffert said. “He worked really well. He’s going to have to convince me when he works again.”

Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing galloped 1 ½ miles on a fast track early Wednesday at Churchill Downs. Trained by Al Stall Jr., the Illinois Derby (G3) winner is scheduled to work Saturday or Sunday depending on weather. Friday’s forecast in Louisville is for scattered thunderstorms with a 50 percent chance of rain and Saturday’s outlook is for a few showers and a 30 percent chance of rain.

 

Normandy Invasion, fourth in the Kentucky Derby, Vyjack, 18th in the Derby, and Street Spice remain candidates for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

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O’Neill horse Goldencents settling in after arriving at Pimlico for Preakness

Posted on 07 May 2013 by WNST Staff

GOLDENCENTS SETTLES IN AT PIMLICO TO PREPARE FOR PREAKNESS START

Lukas Adds a Third Candidate; Itsmyluckyday Confirmed for Middle Jewel

 

BALTIMORE, 05-07-13 – Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents settled in at Pimlico Race Course Tuesday after arriving in the middle of the night from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

In 2012, trainer Doug O’Neill sent Derby winner I’ll Have Another to Baltimore two days after the race, and the colt won the Preakness. Goldencents didn’t run well in the Derby Saturday, finishing 17th on the sloppy, sealed track, but O’Neill decided to follow the plan that worked so well last year and shipped the colt to Pimlico early to prepare for the Preakness.

Maryland Jockey Club officials approved O’Neill’s request to have his Derby horse and 10 other runners occupy Barn D, the same place I’ll Have Another stayed in 2012.

“The horse is doing fantastic,” said assistant trainer Jack Sisterson. “He ate up everything last night. We just walked him this morning and his energy level is high. He’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and we’re happy to see that in him.”

Goldencents flew from Louisville to New York on Monday afternoon and was sent by van to Baltimore. He arrived at 1:30 a.m.

“That was a little later than expected,” Sisterson said. “We got him bedded down straightaway and he got a good night’s rest.”

The horse walked the shedrow at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

“He was out for about 25 minutes to get familiar with the surroundings,” Sisterson said. “His ears were pricked and he was happy.”

Goldencents is expected to return to the track for a jog on Thursday, resume galloping on Friday and have a timed workout Monday morning.

Sisterson said the O’Neill operation was comfortable at Pimlico.

“We love it here,” he said. “We’ve got great memories so we don’t plan to change that.”

Jockey Kevin Krigger is a member of Team O’Neill at Pimlico. The 29-year-old native of St. Croix, has ridden Goldencents in all seven of his starts and will be aboard in the Preakness. He will be the first African-American rider to compete in the Preakness since Wayne Barnett in 1985.

Krigger accepted an invitation to remain with the colt between the first two legs of the Triple Crown. He will exercise Goldencents and other O’Neill-trained runners in Maryland and ride them in the races at Pimlico.

“This horse is our bread and our butter, our best horse,” Krigger said. “The day I was leaving to go back to California on Monday, my agent phoned me and said ‘Doug would like you to stay and get on the horse.’ This is something I’ve always wanted to do, gallop him every day. It wasn’t a hard decision for me to make.”

Krigger said he understands that he could lose some business with trainers who regularly give him mounts in California and is willing to make that gamble.

“If we get it done, I don’t see where that should be a negative impact,” Krigger said. “I’m going to give him my best to get it done. If we get it done, just me staying here and winning it should erase the fact that I stayed.”

Krigger has ridden in a number of states during his career and laughed as he recalled how he failed to get an agent when he looking into riding on the Maryland circuit a few years ago.

“I tried coming here when I went to Golden Gate Fields,” Krigger said. “I contacted a few agents and they said, ‘Nah, don’t worry about it.” So I didn’t.”

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas confirmed Tuesday that Titletown Five will be entered for the Preakness, giving him three starters for the second time in his career. Kentucky Derby runners Oxbow (6th) and Will Take Charge (8th) are also scheduled to compete in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Lukas decided to add Titletown Five to the roster of Preakness candidates after the Tiznow colt worked a half-mile in :47 3/5 Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs. It was the fifth fastest of 35 recorded at the distance. Titletown Five has a record of 1-2-1 from seven starts. In his most recent outing, he was fourth in the Derby Trial (G3).

“We had flirted with the idea of going into the Kentucky Derby and late additions bumped us from that,” Lukas said. “He has been doing so well lately and today just highlighted that. It was a brilliant work and a great gallop out. I just thought that it was a good spot maybe to try him. He’s an exceptional horse He’s very talented with good tactical speed. He’ll make some noise there.”

Lukas saddled Editor’s Note (3rd), Victory Speech (5th) and Prince of Thieves (7th) for the 1996 Preakness. If all three go to the post on May 18, it will extend his Preakness record to 40 competitors, including winners Codex (1980), Tank’s Prospect (1985), Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995) and Charismatic (1999).

“I feel comfortable starting this horse,” he said. “I own a piece of him with Paul Hornung and Willie Davis, the all-pro players. They’re excited about him and so am I.”

Lukas said he was securing a rider for Titletown Five.

Itsmyluckyday, who finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby, was confirmed Tuesday morning as a likely starter in the Preakness. Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. expressed confidence that the sloppy track at Churchill Downs was the reason for his Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) winner’s subpar showing.

“For a horse to train that well and run that poorly and come out of the race so well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out,” he said.

Itsmyluckyday has shown his connections nothing but positive signals since the Derby.

“Everything’s going 100 percent,” Plesa said.” He went to the track today, and my assistant trainer (Frankie Perez) and exercise rider (Peter Shelton) gave him a 10-plus on a scale from 1-10.”

The son of Lawyer Ron jogged two miles at Churchill Downs.

“It’s a good thing we went around twice and not once because I might not have gotten him back to the barn, because he was feeling so good,” Shelton said.

Itsmyluckyday was scheduled to leave Churchill Downs at 4 p.m. and is expected to arrive at Monmouth Park at approximately 2 a.m. Wednesday. Plesa said his colt would likely arrive at Pimlico on Monday or Tuesday.

Meanwhile at Belmont Park, trainer Shug McGaughey was pleased with what he saw in Kentucky Derby winner Orb Tuesday morning.

“We walked him under tack. Right now we’re in good shape,” McGaughey said. “He looks the picture, looks bright, happy with himself.”

McGaughey said Orb would return to the racetrack Wednesday morning.

The Bob Baffert-trained Govenor Charlie worked six furlongs at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning. Working in company with Fed Biz, Govenor Charlie was clocked in 1:11 2/5 after posting fractions of :12, :23 4/5, :35 2/5 and :58 3/5 under Ricardo Santana Jr. Stakes winner Fed Biz, who was ridden by Rosie Napravnik, was also clocked in 1:11 2/5.

Also at Churchill, Illinois Derby (G3) winner Departing galloped 1 ½ miles Tuesday morning and is scheduled to tune up for the Preakness with a breeze on Saturday or Sunday. Mylute, fifth-place finisher in the Derby, walked the shedrow and could return to the racetrack on Wednesday morning.

Chad Brown-trained Normandy Invasion, the fourth-place Derby finisher, and  Rudy Rodriguez-trained Vyjack, who finished 18th in the Derby, remain Preakness possibles.

Street Spice, the fifth-place finisher in the Illinois Derby (G3), is under consideration for a run in the Preakness. Trainer Greg Geier said Tuesday that he will make the decision on whether to try the Preakness after he works the Street Sense colt this weekend.

The Kentucky-bred has a 2-0-1 record in six starts, all at Chicago-area tracks. At odds of 44-1, he finished 5 ½ lengths behind Preakness-bound Departing in the Illinois Derby on April 20 at Hawthorne.

“He had a lot of trouble in the Illinois Derby and got bumped around three or four times,” Geier said. “He was about eight-wide all the way around there.”

Bellarmine, an allowance winner on the Kentucky Derby undercard, has been withdrawn from Preakness consideration by trainer Ken McPeek.

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Vyjack, Normandy Invasion now candidates to join Preakness field

Posted on 06 May 2013 by WNST Staff

DEPARTING LOOMS AS DANGEROUS ‘NEW SHOOTER’ FOR 138THPREAKNESS STAKES

Derby Winner Orb ‘Bright;’ Normandy Invasion, Vyjack Enter Picture

BALTIMORE, 05-06-13 –Although several other horses that prepped at Fair Grounds ran well in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Al Stall has no regrets about having Departing skip the race to run fresh in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 18.

Graduates of the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby at Stall’s hometown track in New Orleans finished in the five spots behind Orb in the Derby, run over a sloppy sealed track at Churchill Downs.

“With those conditions, I was happy that the horse was sitting back in a nice comfortable stall instead of in a mile-and-a-quarter war on a tough racetrack,” Stall said Monday in his office at Churchill Downs. “I didn’t think about that. We were committed to what we were going to do and we don’t look back.”

Departing, bred and owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, was a Derby candidate, but was taken off the trail when he finished third in the Louisiana Derby. Following that race, Stall and the owners changed their approach and scrapped plans for Kentucky, deciding to focus on the Preakness. Departing was sent to Hawthorne Park on April 20 to run in the Illinois Derby and he cruised to a 3 ¼-length victory from an outside post.

With four wins in five career starts, the War Front gelding heads the list of new shooters headed to Pimlico for the 138th Preakness. Stall said that the Illinois Derby route was good for Departing.

“The timing was perfect,” Stall said. “He’s not that big of a horse. The race was a prep for the Preakness. That’s what Hawthorne designed it as and we’re going to follow it that way.”

Although Departing finished a competitive third in the Louisiana Derby behind Revolutionary and Mylute – who were third and fifth, respectively in the Kentucky Derby – his connections decided to change course.

“The Louisiana Derby was only his fourth race,” Stall said. “He ran well, but we just thought that he was lacking in seasoning. He might have gotten in a little bit of trouble and it looked like the holes were moving a little bit faster than he was.”

Stall said Departing showed talent, but that he won his first three races so easily that he really needed more experience before stepping onto the big stage of the Triple Crown. The Louisiana Derby clearly picked him up quite a bit and he showed a lot of seasoning and a little guts in the Illinois Derby. It’s apples and oranges. The way he trains every day. He’s more into it. He just has more life to him. That last little piece of seasoning he got was the Louisiana Derby.”

Stall plans to gallop Departing at Churchill Down the rest of the week and is planning to give him a breeze over the weekend before shipping to Maryland on Wednesday, May 15. The veteran trainer was impressed with the Shug McGaughey-trained Orb’s performance in the Derby.

“He was the best horse that day,” Stall said. “He seems to be a horse going in the right direction. He’s got all the pedigree in the world, all the connections. He’s strictly the horse to beat. I have no idea whether we can beat him or not. We’re happy with our horse and are going to take a chance.”

The Kentucky Derby winner, who flew from Louisville to New York on Sunday, has settled in nicely at trainer Shug McGaughey’s Belmont Park barn.

“He shipped real well. This morning he walked around here great and ate his lunch right up,” McGaughey said. “He seems to be as bright as can be.”

The media demands for his time commenced yesterday with interviews with CNN, NBC Sports and radio, but McGaughey regards the attention as a small price to pay for adding the Kentucky Derby to his Hall of Fame resume.

“I’m prepared. I’ve read about it and watched other people go through it,” McGaughey said. “I was ready for it to happen to me.”

Orb, who has won five straight races, is expected to train for the Preakness at Belmont before shipping to Pimlico early next week.

A couple of Derby participants, Normandy Invasion (4th) and Vyjack (18th) were added Monday to the list of candidates for the Preakness.

Trainer Chad Brown said Monday that Normandy Invasion, who finished fourth in the Derby after leading in the stretch, is a possibility for the Preakness.

“Originally, I threw the Preakness out,” Brown said, “but he’s come out of the race so well that I’m at least going to remain neutral on the topic until I can see the horse go back to the track and get a gauge on his energy level and his soundness.”

Brown said the colt was scheduled to fly from Kentucky to New York on Monday and that a decision on the Preakness would likely be made by this weekend.

Vyjack, who had a wild trip in the Derby and finished 18th, might join the Preakness field, trainer Rudy Rodriguez said Monday morning. Rodriguez said he will take a close look at the Into Mischief gelding when he returns to his barn at Aqueduct on Tuesday. The Derby was a disappointment because Vyjack lost his composure and dragged jockey Garrett Gomez close to a torrid early pace.

“Garrett told me that the horse ran off for the first five or six furlongs and that he just eased him up. He said he had no control of the horse in the beginning,” Rodriguez said. “He said the horse broke well, but he shied away from the crowd and when he took hold of him the horse just took off. He was never able to relax.”

Rodriguez said Vyjack came out of the race in very good physical shape. 

Other Derby starters confirmed for the Preakness are Goldencents (17th) and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained duo of Oxbow (6th) and Will Take Charge (8th).

Goldencents, who captured the Santa Anita Derby (G1) prior to his Derby disappointment, is scheduled to fly from Louisville to New York Monday afternoon before vanning to Pimlico Monday night. Goldencents is trained by Doug O’Neill, who saddled I’ll Have Another for victories in last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

Oxbow and Will Take Charge are scheduled to walk the shedrow at Churchill Downs tomorrow and Wednesday before likely returning to the track on Thursday. 

Itsmyluckyday, who finished 15th in the Derby, is scheduled to van from Churchill Downs to Monmouth Park Tuesday afternoon. If all goes well in his training at the New Jersey track, the Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained colt is likely to return in the Preakness.

Assistant trainer Frankie Perez, who used to work for trainer Frank Brothers, learned long ago that a disappointing finish in the Derby shouldn’t eliminate a horse from Preakness consideration. Brothers saddled Hansel for a victory in the 1991 Preakness and Belmont Stakes following a 10th-place finish in the Derby.

“He didn’t run any good in the Derby and he ran back (in the Preakness) and won,” said Perez, who has worked for Plesa for 20 years.

Mylute, who finished fifth in the Derby, remained a possibility for the Preakness, trainer Tom Amoss said. 

“No decision has been made about the Preakness,” Amoss said. “He is doing well, has good energy and probably will go back to the track Wednesday and have a very light day.”

Bob Baffert-trained Govenor Charlie, the Sunland Park Derby (G3) winner, and Bellarmine, one of three winners on the Kentucky Derby Day undercard for trainer Ken McPeek are also under consideration for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.

Fear the Kitten is no longer considered a Preakness contender.

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Derby disappointment Goldencents to arrive at Pimlico Monday

Posted on 05 May 2013 by WNST Staff

GOLDENCENTS WILL ARRIVE TOMORROW NIGHT FOR PREAKNESS PREPARATION

BALTIMORE, 05-05-13—Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Goldencents will arrive at Pimlico Race Course tomorrow night to begin preparations for the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1) on Saturday, May 18. Trainer Doug O’Neill followed a similar course shipping to Baltimore two days after the Kentucky Derby last year with dual classic winner I’ll Have Another.

Assistant trainer Jack Sisterson informed the Maryland Jockey Club Sunday afternoon that the son of Into Mischief, who finished a disappointing 17th in yesterday’s Kentucky Derby (G1) as the third betting choice, and 3-year-old filly Birdlover will fly to New York Monday afternoon and then van down to Pimlico.

The Team O’Neill runners will be stabled in Barn D.

REPEAT WINNER IN PREAKNESS PORTRAITS YOUTH ART CONTEST

Lashé Speight, a seventh grader at Cross Country Elementary/Middle School, is the grand prize winner of the 14th annual Preakness Portraits Youth Art Contest. Speight also captured top honors last year and becomes the first repeat Jewel winner in the history of the contest.

 

Students from eight Baltimore City area schools, grades K through 12, were invited to create artwork showing the significance of the Preakness to Maryland history, while capturing the spirit of Thoroughbred racing. The artwork had to include Preakness related images.

 

As the winner of “The Jewel”, the best artwork for grades 5 through 12, Speight receives box seating for four at the Preakness, framed artwork autographed by this year’s Preakness winners, a $250 gift certificate and a presentation ceremony at the winner’s luncheon this afternoon.

 

“The Junior Jewel”, the best artwork for grades K through 4, went to Maiya Mone’t Hall, a fourth grader from Cross Country Elementary School.

 

The judging was conducted by Baltimore City Mayor’s Neighborhoods Liaison Betsy Gardner, retired Baltimore City principal Herbert Miller, Maryland Racing Commissioner David Hayden and his wife, prominent horse breeder Joanne Hayden, along with three representatives from the Maryland Jockey Club.

Participating schools:

Arlington Elementary/Middle

Cross Country Elementary/Middle

Edgecombe Circle Elementary/Middle

Fallstaff Elementary/Middle

Hampden Elementary/Middle

Mt. Washington Elementary/Middle

Pimlico Elementary/Middle

Western High

All the artwork is on display at Pimlico Race Course in the first floor grandstand through Preakness day.

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Preakness Funnie with Crab

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Orb Draws Post #16 as 7-2 Morning Line Favorite for Kentucky Derby 139; Thursday Picks at Pimlico

Posted on 01 May 2013 by Gary Quill

Post Positions for the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby were drawn Wednesday evening at Churchill Downs. Native Kentuckian and veteran Derby Oddmaker Mike Battaglia set the Moring Line odds and made Florida Derby winner Orb the 7-2 favorite, who will break from post #16 over the undefeated Verrazano (Post #14) the 4-1 second choice among a full field of twenty 3-year-olds.


Drawing courtesy of Mel @dailyracefunies. To see more of Mel’s work, click here.

Among the many hats that I’ve worn, setting the Morning Line odds at any thoroughbred horse racing track in America is not yet one of them, but on my Bucket List. Over the years, many of my friends and blog readers have come to enjoy, look forward to or simply tolerate my yearning to see how close my odds for a particular race come to the actual Morning Line. Battaglia has been working his craft for nearly 40 years whereas I do it for big races and friends and some horse owners who are eager for an opinion on a probable Morning Line or predicted Post Time odds.

PP – HORSE———— JOCKEY / TRAINER—————- M/L— GQPPTO*
1.  Black Onyx            Joe Bravo / Kelly Breen                   50-1          46-1
2.  Oxbow                   Gary Stevens / D. Wayne Lukas      30-1          21-1
3. Revolutionary       Calvin Borel / Todd Pletcher              10-1            6-1
4. Golden Soul          B.Hernandez Jr / Dallas Stewart       50-1          51-1
5. Normandy Invasion  J.Castellano / Chad Brown            12-1           11-1
6. Mylute                  Rosie Napravnik / Tom Amoss           15-1           16-1
7. Giant Finish        Jose Espinoza / Anthony Dutrow          50-1          48-1
8. Goldencents        Kevin Krigger / Doug O’Neill                 5-1             8-1
9. Overanalyze        Rafael Bejarano / Todd Pletcher          15-1          23-1
10. Palace Malice    Mike Smith / Todd Pletcher                  20-1          18-1
11. Lines of Battle   Ryan Moore / Aidan O’Brien                 30-1         31-1
12. Itsmyluckyday  Elvis Trujillo / Eddie Plesa, Jr.               15-1          21-1
13. Falling Sky         Luis Saez / John Terranova                 50-1          53-1
14. Verrazano          John Velazquez / Todd Pletcher            4-1            5-1
15. Charming Kitten Edgar Prado / Todd Pletcher              20-1          44-1
16. Orb                      Joel Rosario / Shug McGaughey        7-2             4-1
17. Will Take Charge  Jon Court / D. Wayne Lukas             20-1          27-1
18. Frac Daddy         Victor Lebron / Ken McPeek               50-1          42-1
19. Java’s War           Julien Laparoux / Ken McPeek          15-1          15-1
20. Vyjack                  Garrett Gomez / Rudy Rodriguez      15-1           19-1
AE Fear the Kitten      Alan Garcia / Michael Maker             —              —

AE – Also Eligible IF any other runner scratches prior to Friday
* – GQ’s Predicted Post Time Odds

Recapping Pimlico’s Sunday 9-race card posted had 5 winners (2 Top Selections in BOLD type) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $5.40 (1st race), $2.60 (2nd), $11.80 (5th), $4.80 (6th) and $5.00 (8th).

The BEST BET of the Day (15 7-2-1) Classic Wildcat (R4 #5 5-2 PT; 6-1 M/L) started in good shape, but was pulled up nearing the lane then walked onto the van on his own courage.

The LONGSHOT PICK (15 4-1-1) Lil Escape Artist (R8 #5 5-1 PT; 10-1 M/L) ran the race I anticipated, but was only good enough to be second best. She allowed the speed duel to take place, but so did the winner, as both made their move entering the stretch, passing their tiring rivals, but the winner was much the best, but the runner-up returned $5.00 to PLACE and $3.20 to SHOW.

SHOW Parlay Play of the Day, $20 on Elkhorn Creek / Sting Boy (R2 #2/2X 1-5 PT; 1-1 M/L) brought out the bridge-jumpers (bettors who wager thousands to SHOW thinking they can make a quick 5% ROI), after the second choice (#6 –Ram) was scratched. As predicted, these two proved to be the best in here as they finished 1-2 well headed of the third place runner, but nearly 90% of the SHOW pool was on the 2/2X entry, returning $2.60 to WIN, $2.10 to PLACE and $2.10 to SHOW.

Selections for the Day 17 Pimlico Sunday, May 2nd card are on Page 2.

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Preakness Funnie with Crab

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Rosie Napravnik featured on CBS’ 60-Minutes; Selection Sunday at Pimlico (Day 16)

Posted on 27 April 2013 by Gary Quill

Nearly 6 months ago, Rosie Napravnik was on top of the thoroughbred racing world, as she guided 2-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby to a thrilling victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, stamping him the early Kentucky Derby favorite. “Bobby” and Rosie seemed destined to have a date on the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs. Well those of us who have been around the “Sport of Kings” for decades, know there are no “sure things” in horse racing.

“Bobby” won’t be one of the twenty to run in the Derby. His 3-year-old campaign did not go as planned, so he was taken off the Derby trail. On the other hand, Rosie’s riding career has continued to flourish. For the third consecutive year, she won the riding title at the Fairgrounds Winter Meet. One of the many winners she rode was Mylute. Lucky for Rosie, this 3-year-old son of Midnight Lute earned enough Derby points to get a spot in the Derby starting gate. Rosie has been named to ride.

Due to her success and the fact she’s a female in a male dominated industry, made her an attractive storyline for CBS’ 60 Minutes program. No female rider has won the Kentucky Derby. In fact, the best finish for a female rider is 9th, which was accomplished by Rosie in 2011 aboard Pant On Fire. On Sunday (Apr. 28th) at 7pm EDT, CBS will air that segment, giving thoroughbred horse racing some positive publicity 6 days prior to the Kentucky Derby.

The JockeyWorld.org racing term of the day is #118… “Front-Runner

Recapping Pimlico’s Saturday 11-race card posted had just 3 winners with only 1 Top Selection (in BOLD type) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $42.20 (1strace), $3.20 (5th) and $23.00 (6th).

The BEST BET of the Day (14 7-2-1) Blues Heir (R3 #1 9-2 PT; 7-2 M/L) had a nice stalking trip while saving ground around the turn, swung out in upper stretch and closed gamely outside the winner, appeared to have gotten up in time for the win, but lost the photo finish by a nose, returning $6.80 to PLACE and $4.20 to SHOW.

The LONGSHOT PICK (14 4-0-1) Jazz (R5 #6 3-1 PT; 8-1 M/L) took a ton of money at the mutual windows and was the Post Time favorite. Unfortunately for Jazz and all of her backers, she was carried out by a 26-1 shot entering the first turn, killing any chance. When put back into the race she was five deep leaving the far turn, tried to rally on the far outside in the stretch, but had nothing left after her rough trip. Put this one on your “Watch List” and bet her the next time she runs on the turf.

SHOW Parlay Play of the Day, $20 on Smart Tori (R8 #8 6-1 PT; 9-2 M/L) broke down in upper stretch. This is one thing you cannot anticipate when handicapping based on Past Performances. The SHOW parlay has had a rough week, filled with bad racing luck. We’re down to the final $20 to play for Day 16.

Selections for the Day 16 Pimlico Sunday, April 28th card are on Page 2.

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Preakness Funnie with Crab

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Departing Wins IL Derby, Becomes First Preakness “Probable”; Selection Sunday at Pimlico (Day 12)

Posted on 20 April 2013 by Gary Quill

The Illinois Derby may not have been an official Kentucky Derby prep race, since no Derby Points were up for grabs, but could have served as a Preakness Stakes prep. Claiborne Farms Departing went off as the 9-5 favorite and did not disappoint his backers as he won the $750,000 IL Derby by 3 lengths.

If I were a betting man (grin), I would wager that Departing will be entered in the Preakness Stakes. The Al Stall, Jr. trainee now has 4 wins in 5 career starts. His only blemish was a troubled 3rd in the Louisiana Derby, beat by Revolutionary (the winner) and Mylute (runner-up). Both are scheduled to start in the Kentucky Derby.

The JockeyWorld.org racing term of the day is #111…  “Float

Recapping Pimlico’s Satuday 11-race card posted just 6 winners but 4 were Top Selections (BOLD type) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $8.60 (3rd race), $3.60 (7th), $9.20 (8th), $3.00 (9th), $3.80 (10th) and $8.40 (11th).

The BEST BET of the Day (10 5-0-1) Volastic (R8 #2 7-2 PT; 9-2 M/L) was tardy from the gate as usual but when asked for his best entering the stretch, a  winning move as all but ohe could make no headway on the leaders settling for 4th , 3 lengths behind the winner.

The LONGSHOT PICK (10 4-0-1) Sasta Go Lucky (R6 #3 11-1 PT; 10-1 M/L) certainly did not put in a Hall of Fame effort here. He chased the pace, was three deep when lightly steadied entering the far turn, then gave way and drifted out in upper stretch to finish 5th.

SHOW Parlay Play of the Day, $60 on Jewel of a Cat (R7 #10; 4-5 PT, 5-2 M/L) easily handled six rivals with a nice stalking trip then took over in mid-stretch under steady urging to win by 2¾ lengths returning a pualtry $3.60 to WIN, $2.40 to PLACE and $2.10 (ouch!) to SHOW. Look at it this way, you’d be doing back-flips if you financial institution gave you 5% ROI in 59.09 seconds. It adds $3.00 to the current $60.00 SHOW parlay amount for Day 12.

Selections for the Day 12 Pimlico Sunday, April 21st card are on Page 2.

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Pimlico Opeing Day

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Closing Day Selections at Laurel Park plus UAE, Florida and Louisiana Derby Analysis

Posted on 29 March 2013 by Gary Quill

Thankfully, the Laurel Park winter meet comes to a close on Saturday so that live Maryland racing shifts to Pimlico Race Course on Thursday, April 4th. I happily say, “Good Riddance” to Laurel Park as my Saturday BEST BET and LONGSHOT selections were woeful to say the least, as the record below indicates. It was great meet for the Maryland Jockey Club, but it’s time to pack up the wagons and move the troops to Baltimore for the next two months.

With Pimlico’s 36-day spring meet (Apr. 4th thru June 8th), it’s a new beginning. A chance to redeem myself as the plan is to post selections for all 36 live racing days. Here’s what the Maryland Jockey Club is doing at Pimlico on Opening Day to entice fans to enjoy nine (9) exciting chase scenes…
Pimlico Opeing Day
On the national scene, with the Kentucky Derby just five (5) weeks away, there are 3 Derby prep races on Saturday… G2 UAE Derby at Meydan Race Course (Dubai) at 10:22am EDT, G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park at 6:19pm EDT and the G2 Louisiana Derby Fairgrounds at 6:44pm EDT. To read HOW I SEE IT, click here.

Recapping the previously posted selections at Laurel Park from Saturday, Mar. 23rd had 8 winners from 9 races (6 Top Selection; pay-offs shown in BOLD type) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $4.00 (1st race), $3.00 (2nd), $9.00 (3rd), $3.20 (4th), $4.00 (5th), $5.80 (6th), $7.60 (7th) and $2.20 (8th).

This past Saturday was a perfect illustration of how “snake bit” the BEST BET and LONGSHOT picks were during the Laurel Park meet. Despite having 6 Top Pick winners from 9 races, both BEST BET and LONGHSOT selections were off the board (OTB).

The BEST BET of the Day (12 2-1-0) Nacho Earl (5-1 PT; 7-2 M/L) trailed in the early stages, swung wide at the eighth pole and rallied strongly in deep stretch but was no match for the winner, setting for a runner-up effort and returning $5.60 to PLACE and $2.40 to SHOW.

The LONGSHOT PICK (12 0-0-3) Willieslittletrick (6-1 PT; 12-1 M/L) dueled early with a rival, setting a pressured pace along the rail and tired when entering the stretch, finishing a distant 5th.

For Saturday races the weather forecast calls for a clear skies, meaning the track will be FAST at Laurel Park on Saturday Mar. 30th, Closing Day. Selections for all races posted are handicapped based on making multi-race wagers such as DOUBLE’s, Pick-3’s and Pick-4’s using all three (3) listed for each race in each leg.

1st race – $38,000 Maiden Special Weight for 2 y.o.– 4½ furlongs
#3 – Take Time to Pray (5-2)
#6 – Debt Ceiling (4-1)
#1/1A – New Zone / Searchparty Dolly (7-2)

2nd race – $5,000 Claiming N1Y for F&M 4 y.o. & up – 5½ furlongs
#3 – Prime Mistress (5-1) *** BEST BET ***
#1 – Super Nova Desert (5-2)
#7 – Harbor Fox (2-1)

3rd race – $10,000 Claiming 3 y.o. fillies – 7 furlongs
#1 – Go Money Go (3-1)
#3 – Oxford Lass (3-1)
#5 – Lost Yer Number (8-1)

4th race – $10,000 Claiming 3 y.o.– 5½ furlongs
#5 – Monacacy Warrior  (8-1) $$$ LONGSHOT $$$
#4 – Video Storm (4-5)
#1 – Chi Chi’s Pride  (5-1)

5th race – $5,000 Claiming N3L for 4 y.o. & up – 7 furlongs
#3 – Ram (3-1)
#8 – Singing My Way (2-1)
#4 – Rio Samba (15-1)

6th race – $25,000 Allowance Optional Claiming for 4 y.o.& up – 5½ furlongs
#2 – Regal Revenge  (7-5)
#6 – Never Stop Looking (5-1)
#3 – Itsnottheright (9-2)

7th race – $38,000 Maiden Special Weight for F&M 3 y.o.& up – 5½ furlongs
#8 – Litigious (3-1)
#3 – Smart n Smokin (8-1)
#7 – South Andros (6-1)

8th race – $50,000 Allowance Optional Claiming N1X for 3 y.o. – One mile
#3 – Arrive (9-2)
#8 – Hanky Doodle (5-2)
#7 – Torchrunner (10-1)

9th race – $5,000 Claiming for 4 y.o.& up – 5½ furlongs
#7 – Tennis Racket  (3-1)
#6 – Kincaid  (5-2)
#5 – By Your Side (15-1)

GOOD LUCK!

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PP

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Horse Racing Progress: GQ and “Mel” Join Forces

Posted on 07 March 2013 by Gary Quill

Progress. Webster defines progress, “positive development, usually of a gradual kind, toward achieving a goal or reaching a higher standard”.  In the 40+ years that I’ve been an enthusiastic thoroughbred horse racing fan, there has been plenty of progress. Racing surfaces, medications, jockey and horse equipment, tote systems and types of wagers have all been part of the progress in terms of safety and the quality of the horse racing product.

From a fans standpoint, there has been progress on many fronts. Information is one example. Now there are multiple sources from where one can obtain Past Performances (PPs) instead of just one. The PPs provide additional statistics such as jockey win percentages at a specific tracks’ meet and YTD, with a trainer for the current meet and YTD; a trainers’ win percentage with “Shippers”, “3rd off Layoff”, “1st time Blinkers” and so on. A horses’ record on a fast dirt track v. off track v. turf v. synthetic surfaces is at your fingertips, unlike yesteryear when one needed the memory of an elephant to recall if Port Conway Lane liked an off track or not. The only hint was seeing an asterisk (“*”),”X” or an X inside a circle, to the right of the horse name, which indicated his/her prowess on an off track. Are you old enough to remember those?

PP's

A true speed rating used to require simple addition of the Speed Rating plus Track Variant. Now anyone under the age of 35 thinks Beyer (or Bris) Speed Figures are “bible” and find it impossible to pick winners without them. Same is true with Tomlinson (or Bris) Pedigree numbers. Fractions were measured in 5th’s, not 100th’s of a second and unless you were at the track to witness every race ever run, you didn’t have a clue if any of the top 3 finishers of a given race came back to win their next start.

Even with all of this progress, there is a one aspect of thoroughbred horse racing that, until now, had fallen by the wayside, an equine cartoonist. For 53 years (1955-2008) Pierre Bellocq aka Peb” was the staff cartoonist for the Daily Racing Form. This French-American’s cartoons and caricatures earned him recognition worldwide. As a kid in the 60’s when my Dad would buy “The Form”, I’d look forward to seeing his work on the cover of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes editions. But that ended in December 2008.

Enter Marcy Leonard, aka “Mel”. In my humble opinion, Mel fills the void left when Peb retired. Thanks to social media, Twitter to be specific, I recently discovered Mel which led me to Daily Racing Funnies DOTCOM (www.dailyracingfunnies.com). The website features all of Mel’s equine drawings. From Aqueduct to Woodbine and many tracks in between, her gallery is impressive considering she didn’t draw her first (equine) “Funnie” until 2011.

Daily Racing Funnie

In an effort to give Mel’s “Funnies” exposure they truly deserve, I offered to use them in my blogs. After trading numerous emails of negotiating (not really) with Mel and her better half Rick, we settled on a “relationship” which is basically an old-fashion, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” arrangement. Because after all, GQ wants, needs and deserves (tongue in cheek) more exposure too.

It is my hope that you will join me in welcoming Mel into OUR horse racing inner circle and $upport her (and my) passion for this sport we all love, as she expresses it through art for our enjoyment.

My BEST BET of 2013: The Daily Racing Form or Bloodhorse come knocking on Mel’s door with contract in hand, leaving GQ out in the cold. Dooooohhhhhllllll!!!!!!

* Daily Racing Funnies are courtesy of Mel should not to be copied or produced and distributed without Mel’s written consent.

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