Tag Archive | "Pimlico"

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Pimlico announces handles up for 2014 meet

Posted on 10 June 2014 by WNST Staff


BALTIMORE, 06-10-14—The Maryland Jockey Club concluded its spring meeting at Pimlico Race Course last weekend with the average daily handle 4.7% higher than 2013. The average daily handle increased from $4.5 million to $4.7 million with one fewer day of live racing. Easter fell during the spring stand this year.

“We had a strong finish with our numbers up 14 times during the last 16 days of the meet,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “Despite running one fewer day, we had more total runners this year so the racing department deserves a great deal of credit.”

The 2014 meet featured 2,689 runners in 344 races (7.82 average), while last year’s spring stand included 2,683 starters in 359 races (7.47 average).

Preakness weekend was a major success as nearly 160,000 fans attended the Black-Eyed Susan (34,736) and Preakness day (123,469) cards at Old Hilltop. During the two days, there were 26 high-quality races, including the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1), and performances by eleven musical acts in the famed infield.

“We would have shattered the Black-Eyed Susan Day attendance and handle records set a year ago if not for the two inches of rain that hit Baltimore that morning which caused six races to come off the turf and discouraged attendance,” added Chuckas. “But I am still proud of what we have done to improve the Preakness weekend and will continue to find ways to sustain the momentum through the end of the meet and beyond.”

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California Chrome departs Pimlico for Belmont

Posted on 20 May 2014 by WNST Staff


BALTIMORE, 05-20-14—Dual classic winner California Chrome left Pimlico Race Course at 6:14 a.m. for what is expected to be a 4-hour van ride to Elmont, NY. Trained by 77-year-old Art Sherman, California Chrome is eligible to become Thoroughbred racing’s 12th Triple Crown champion in the 146th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) June 7 at Belmont Park.

“He looks great,” assistant trainer Alan Sherman said 45 minutes before the California Chrome boarded the Brook Ledge van. “I just went in there checking on him and he was biting me and pushing me around. He licked the bottom of his feed tub clean, so he ready to go.”

The modestly bred California-bred colt will seek to join the company of Triple Crown champions Affirmed (1978), Seattle Slew (1977), Secretariat (1973), Citation (1948), Assault (1946), Count Fleet (1943),Whirlaway (1941), War Admiral (1937), Omaha (1935), Gallant Fox (1930) and Sir Barton (1919).

California Chrome followed up his May 3 Kentucky Derby (G1) victory with a 1 ½ length score in the Preakness Stakes (G1)Saturday afternoon.

“It is just an amazing experience,” added Sherman. “Every time I watch the Preakness replay I darn near cry. It has been a great experience. None of these horses have run a mile and a half so it is an unknown for everybody. This horse has a high cruising speed and I think he’ll be fine but the track at Belmont is completely different than it is here at Pimlico or Churchill. I know one thing, he will try hard.”

California Chrome was led out of the Preakness stakes barn by exercise rider Willie Delgado. After posing for pictures, he boarded without incident at 6:04 a.m.

“I think he enjoyed the couple days of relaxation,” Sherman said. “I probably don’t realize how big of a zoo it is going to be up there in New York. I have never gone through anything like this.”

Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin accompanied California Chrome on the trip leaving Social Inclusion as the only remaining Preakness runner left on the grounds. He is expected to depart for New York Sunday.


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Preakness record 123,469 see California Chrome take second leg of Triple Crown

Posted on 17 May 2014 by WNST Staff


Derby Winner Continues Quest to Become 12th Triple Crown Champion

BALTIMORE, 05-17-14 – California Chrome continued on his quest for a Triple Crown sweep Saturday at Pimlico Race Course, scoring a dominating victory in the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) to the enthusiastic approval of a record crowd of 123,469.


Two weeks after capturing the Kentucky Derby (G1) by 1 ¾ lengths, the California-bred 3-year-old colt received yet another heads-up ride from jockey Victor Espinoza on his way to a 1 ½-length triumph over Ride On Curlin in the 139th running of the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.


Trained by 77-year-old Art Sherman, California Chrome is eligible to become Thoroughbred racing’s 12th Triple Crown champion in the 146th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) June 7 at Belmont Park. The modestly bred California-bred colt will seek to join the company of Triple Crown champions Affirmed (1978), Seattle Slew (1977), Secretariat (1973), Citation (1948), Assault (1946), Count Fleet (1943),Whirlaway (1941), War Admiral (1937), Omaha (1935), Gallant Fox (1930) and Sir Barton (1919).


California Chrome, a strong 1-2 favorite in a field of 10, broke alertly and gained stalking position behind early pacesetter Pablo Del Monte. After Ria Antonia, the lone filly in the field, made an early move to challenge the pacesetter heading into the first turn, California Chrome settled in third around the turn and on the backstretch. Social Inclusion, the 5-1 second betting choice ridden by Luis Contreras, made a move outside California Chrome heading into the far turn, prompting Espinoza to ask his horse for some run. The favorite swept past the pacesetter on the turn into the homestretch, engaged to his outside by Social Inclusion, and spurted away in early stretch, never to be challenged again.


California Chrome crossed the finish line clear of Ride On Curlin, who rallied from far back under Joel Rosario to finish second, 6 ½ lengths clear of Social Inclusion. The running time of 1:54.84 for the 1 3/16 miles of the Maryland Jockey Club’s signature race was the fastest since Big Brown was timed in 1:54.80 in 2008.


The Preakness highlighted a 13-race program with nine stakes, including four graded stakes, generating an all-sources handle of $83,786,363, including the $53,655,673 wagered on the Middle Jewel.


The Preakness Day Celebration included performances by Grammy Award winner Lorde and hip-hop icon Nas in the infield.


“It was another fantastic day with the record attendance under ideal conditions,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “We pride ourselves in our hospitality and extend an invitation to Sherman Racing to stay here at Pimlico for as long as they want as the team prepares California Chrome to the Belmont Stakes and a date with destiny.”



Winning Trainer Art Sherman (California Chrome): “He broke great and had a perfect trip. I was so happy when I saw where he was able to set him. Right now he’s really on his toes and doing good. He’s a remarkable horse to come back in two weeks and win. I know he’s not the only horse that ever did that, but it’s tough on a horse to come back in two weeks. I appreciate everyone involved in my team. They did a hell of a job. Both my sons are here. It’s very emotional.

“To me, this race was even a little tougher for me knowing that I’m coming back in a little shorter distance than I normally ever run them and the time I give them to rest between races. I was a little concerned about that, but he’s got a big heart this horse – big.

“Wow. I’ll tell you it’s quite a thrill. I know we had to run harder in this race.  For me, just watching him perform, coming back in two weeks, I was a little concerned.
But I’ll tell you one thing: he’s a real race horse. I’m hoping that the mile and a half is up his alley, too, because he’s a very good horse.

“Oh, you’ve got to have a tear. I’ve got my whole family here. We worked hard all year and Victor (Espinoza) rode him perfect. It’s a dream for any trainer to do this.

“I couldn’t tell how much horse he really had. It was hard for me to get a good view because people were jumping up and down in front of me. But when I looked up at the board, I could see him starting to move away and I felt really good then.”


Winning Jockey Victor Espinoza (California Chrome): “It was not easy, but we got it done. I’m excited and looking forward. I had to start early because the outside horse was pushing me. I thought I had the perfect position, but when the outside horse attacked me, I had to open it up at that point. It was tough today. This race was a little complicated. I saw another horse take the lead, I’m second, then (Ria Antonia) wants to go. I have to steady, steady and I have to hope and make the right decision and hope for the best. Then, I’m sitting third and I think it’s perfect.”


Trainer Billy Gowan (Ride On Curlin, 2nd): “I thought it was awesome. California Chrome ran a great race and he’s a great horse. My horse ran a great race. He was in a good spot down the back. Joel (Rosario) said he got shut off for a second, but he came running in the stretch and gave me a heckuva thrill. I’m really proud. I like the horse; I like everything; I like the Preakness. I think we have to go to the Belmont if he comes out of the race good.”


Jockey Joel Rosario (Ride On Curlin, 2nd): “We had a good race. My horse ran really well. I thought that I had him and we were going strong, but if I got beat, I wanted it to be California Chrome, because he is a great horse. I know my horse is too.”


Owner Ron Sanchez (Social Inclusion, 3rd): “My horse, I would have liked to have seen him on the lead, but that didn’t happen today. I’m proud of my horse. He ran well. Right now, we’re going to the Belmont.”


Jockey Luis Contreras (Social Inclusion, 3rd): “He acted up a little bit in the gate, but it was no big deal at all. The horse ran a really big race today. I can’t tell you how happy I am with this horse. We will get them the next time.”


Trainer Mike Maker (General a Rod, 4th): “He ran well. He may have been a little crowded down the backside. Whether or not that affected anything, we’ll find out.”


Jockey Javier Castellano (General a Rod, 4th): “It was a beautiful trip until the three-eighths pole when I checked him bad. I’m not sure if I could have beat California Chrome, but that sure cost me.”


Trainer Graham Motion (Ring Weekend, 5th): “He got a decent spot but he just didn’t have a real clean trip. A horse stopped in front of him. I don’t think it cost him a lot but it might have cost him a position. I was very pleased with him. I thought he was very game. I thought he ran very competitively. I just wish he’d had a clean trip and then you wouldn’t have any question. We’ll talk about it (Belmont Stakes), definitely. I was very pleased with how he ran today.”


Jockey Alan Garcia (Ring Weekend, 5th): “We had an unbelievably rough trip. We had trouble right from the start, getting bounced around. But he did everything he could.”


Trainer Wesley Ward (Pablo Del Monte, 6th): “He got away good from the gate but then Calvin (Borel) on Ria Antonia put her right with him. I wish we could have gotten away with a 48 (second) half. I would have felt a lot better.”


Jockey Jeffrey Sanchez (Pablo Del Monte, 6th): “He wanted to go for the lead and got over good to a spot. He ran his race.”


Trainer Mark Casse (Dynamic Impact, 7th): “I think we beat three or four horses. We have no excuses. He just didn’t run fast enough.”


Jockey Miguel Mena (Dynamic Impact, 7th): “We got a nice trip and a clean break and got around the turn good. But he struggled a little with the racetrack, but he came running at the end.”


Trainer Linda Rice (Kid Cruz, 8th): “I was a little disappointed, but he was running at the end of it. He just had too much to do. I’m also thrilled that we have a Triple Crown in the making, so that’s really good for racing. I think we still may go after the Belmont because the distance is in his favor. This was a pretty good challenge for him and he did pretty well.”


Jockey Julian Pimentel (Kid Cruz, 8th): “We were really far back on the outside. It took so long to get going. When we started going, he got going pretty good down the lane, but it was just too late.”


Trainer Bob Baffert (Bayern, 9th): “I got a horrible trip. That was a horrible trip. He took a half-step and got bumped. (California Chrome) is something. He’s a cool customer. He does everything right. He’s fast enough to stay out of trouble. Victor rides him with so much confidence. He knows when he has to move into a spot. He has so much acceleration.”


Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Bayern, 9th): “It was very rough. The horses on either side of us sandwiched us so tight we were practically off the ground. We got into a decent position and he still made a run to the quarter pole.”

Trainer Tom Amoss (Ria Antonia, 10th): “Disappointed, but she looks good.”


Jockey Calvin Borel (Ria Antonia, 10th): “My horse ran OK today. We didn’t have any real trouble. She’s a nice horse, but she just didn’t have it in her today.”

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California Chrome owner Coburn: “The hospitality (Maryland has) shown us is top shelf”

Posted on 17 May 2014 by WNST Staff





THE MODERATOR:  We have Victor Espinoza, and we’ll have Steve Coburn and Art Sherman coming in as well.  Victor,  congratulations.  Well done.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Thank you, sir.


Q.  Did you start him earlier than in the past?  If so, is there any reason you did that?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  I had to because the outside horse, he was pushing me.  He made me move at the half mile post.  I really don’t want to.  I want to wait as soon as possible.  I thought I was in a perfect position, and I just wanted to wait as long as I can.

But when the outside horse attacked me, and I had to just let it go, slowly.  I don’t want to make a strong move at that point.  But turning for home, he really got after me, and I had to just open it up at that point.


Q.  Does this feel different for you from winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown?  If so, how come?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  It was tough today.  It was tough because this race was just a little complicated.  I bounced out of there running out of the gate, and I saw one horse and I was in the right (Indiscernible).  I saw somebody else come by the turn, and he just like trying to go with the other one.  And I had to just like go steady, steady and wait.  And all of those things, I had hope to make the right decision, let the horse clear me and sit in behind him, without even irritating California Chrome.  In a tenth of a second I had to make that decision, and hopefully the best.  After the other horse got cleared, so I sit 3rd and I thought it was perfect.  As soon as I think that, in a half mile, here he comes the other one.  They attacked me too soon.  There he goes.  Wow, this is crazy.  It was a big challenge for me.  I was telling somebody, I don’t even know who I was talking to, like this race it was more tiring mentally than physical because all of the things going on early in the race, wow, I didn’t expect that.


Q.  You said you wanted a second chance at the Triple Crown.  You have one now.  What does it mean to you?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  It means a lot, and I’m ready.  I’m ready for it.  Hopefully California Chrome comes back good.  It’s tough, but I’m just glad to have my second chance in my career. In a million years I didn’t think I was going to have a second chance.  I was very close for once.  But it will work out.  Life goes on, and over a decade, here we go.  I’m here again.


Q.  Has this been the toughest race for you, and why?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  This Preakness was tough.  I’m telling you.  There are some horses, some fresh horses, and they attacked me very soon that I won.  And the way this race was set up, it was just kind of complicated.  I mean, I’m just glad that I don’t study the form, because it will work out the way the form looks.  The way you think the horses are going to go, everything is different.  But I never have a plan how I want to ride this horse.  Every race that he runs.  Many people ask me how are you going to ride him, and I wish I knew.  Some maybe thought that I’m not going to tell the truth, but it is the truth.  I go like a blind guy how I’m going to ride him.  I make my decisions during the race.

THE MODERATOR:  Art Sherman has joined us now, the trainer for California Chrome.  We have a question for both Victor and Art.


Q.  What did you learn from your first run at the Triple Crown in regards to the hype and all the things off the track that go with it?  What did you learn from that?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  I learned a lot.  I think the first time I’d been there I was kind of like, you know some things I was not ready for.  Some things that I did that I shouldn’t have done, or some things that I had done that I’m just glad that I did.  But now I have a second chance, so I probably will enjoy myself a little bit better, and go day by day.  Because as long as California Chrome comes out good and is ready for the next step, I’ll be ready too.


Q.  Are you somewhat amazed this horse is able to respond to every challenge, and do you think he can do it again?

ART SHERMAN:  After watching him today, and coming back in two weeks which I never usually run a horse that quick back, and now I’ve got three weeks, a mile and a half, it’s quite a challenge.  I’ll tell you.  You have to have a very good horse to win these three races, and I’m hoping I’ve got one right now.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  It’s not easy.  If it was easy a lot of horses would have won the Triple Crown, you know?  30‑something years, it’s just crazy.  It has to be a super horse to win that.  It’s so close to the races.  They lose so much energy.  Hopefully California Chrome comes back good, and he is the one who hopefully can do it.


Q.  Because the race is now a mile and a half, does it change how you train the horse?

ART SHERMAN:  Well, it will be because we’ve got a new surface.  I’ve got three weeks now.  He’ll probably just work an easy half a mile up to this race, and I can just play it by ear and see how fast he recovers and when I will work him back.  But he will work before that Belmont.


Q.  (Indiscernible)?

ART SHERMAN:  (No Audio) in my career.  A Triple Crown winner, if you had said that to me at the beginning of the year, I would have said, “Are you crazy?”  Now that I’m getting closer, I’m elated, really big time.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  It would probably be something I’ve never dreamed in my life just to win the Triple Crown.  I don’t even know what to say right now.  I’m just having fun and enjoying the Preakness right now and waiting for the Kentucky Derby.  So I’ll think of that later when I get close to the race.


Q.  The question for Victor, is this a victory for the fans who have supported you so much?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Absolutely.  You know, they’ve got my support.  (No Audio) all the jockeys that have helped support me, every human being that’s helped me.


Q.  I wonder if you can walk us through your view of the race, and the level of confidence?

ART SHERMAN:  I didn’t see it really clear, to be honest with you.  I know I’ll get a chance to see it a lot better.  Everybody was standing up in front of me, and I had a camera point blank in my face, but I got a chance to see the board, you know what I mean?  I knew when I saw him break, I was very happy.  I knew going into the first turn Victor was in that position.  As a former rider, he had to make a decision.  So whether to go on or get in behind horses, he got a chance to move him out.  When I saw him at the half a mile pole having dead aim on the leaders, I said, now, Victor, we’re in the driver’s seat.


Q.  Art, can you describe your emotions when the race ended as compared to the Derby?  Was there the same elation or was there relief today because you won the second leg?

ART SHERMAN:  Well, every race to me, the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, you know, I’ve never won at million dollar races.  I was always kind of a claimant type of trainer.  Now I’m up there with all the big boys, and I’m saying, wow.  I said it’s just an honor being blessed to have a horse like him.


Q.  Victor, when you turned for home, did you have as much horse as you had in the past when you’ve made the move?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Yes, I had.  Oh, no, I had to move early today.  I had to start moving in the half‑mile pole, which is tough for a horse to start moving early and keep going all the way to the end.  It’s not easy.  And today, California Chrome proved he can move.  Even if he’s a little early, he still has it.  I don’t know how much still has, but I’ll make sure I get him to the wire first today.


Q.  Same feeling?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Same feeling.


Q.  I believe this is the sixth straight win for California Chrome.  What has been the number one ingredient for that winning streak right now?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  I think the way I ride him.

ART SHERMAN:  I’ll drink to that.

THE MODERATOR:  We can probably end that right there  (Laughing).  Great answer though.


Q.  When will you be at the barn tomorrow so the media can talk to you tomorrow morning, and when are you thinking about taking the horse out of here?

ART SHERMAN:  I think he’ll probably have a couple of days here to unwind and just be a horse.  You know what I mean?  Even though it’s not that far a van drive, he needs to just ‑‑ he’s going to be tired in the morning.  I’m going to be there early like I always am.


ART SHERMAN:  Give him a little kiss for myself.  I tell you, he’s my superstar, I can tell you that.


Q.  So no plans etched in stone as to the time you’re going to take him out?  6:00 a.m. you’ll be there tomorrow?

ART SHERMAN:  He’s not going to be out.  He’ll be probably walking before you guys get there.


Q.  How is it dealing with all the outside distractions pulling at you both before the race and now after the race?

ART SHERMAN:  Well, I’m kind of getting used to it.  After I won the Kentucky Derby, I said, wow, all of a sudden I feel like Willie Nelson the old rock star coming through the airport.  So I’m getting kind of used to it.  Sometimes I need to take my little siesta for about an hour.  I call it just charging my battery a little bit, and then I’m okay.


Q.  How hard did you ride him today?  You were pretty easy on him at the stretch at Churchill.  How much did you have to dig into him today?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  I had to a little bit more than Churchill.  The only reason because the race today was a little bit complicated.  The horse on the outside they attacked me very soon, early move at the half a mile pole.  So it’s way, way too much for him.  But I had to continue to go not really hard but more than the Kentucky Derby.

THE MODERATOR:  Victor, thank you.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Thank you all, and thank you for everything.

THE MODERATOR:  On behalf of the Maryland Jockey Club and all the fans, thank you for your class all week.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Thank you to all the guys around here and everybody from Pimlico.  They’re awesome.  Thank you all.

THE MODERATOR:  Steve, congratulations on behalf of the Maryland Jockey Club.  Congratulations on a spectacular performance.

STEVE COBURN:  Thank you very much.


Q.  You’ve always had a great feeling about this horse.  You keep predicting wins and he keeps winning for you.  What’s next?

STEVE COBURN:  The Triple Crown.  You know what?  I don’t mean to be bold or cocky or arrogant because I’ve said this.  I’ve said it a hundred times if I’ve said it once.  When I saw this colt, when I saw this baby when he was a day old, I told my wife, Carolyn, this horse is going to do something big.  I don’t know what it is, but we’re going to stay in the game to make sure this colt gets to be the best that he can be.  I’ve been a firm believer in that ever since, and he’s not proven me wrong.  This is a nice horse.  He loves people.  He loves what he does, and that’s why he’s America’s horse, because in my opinion, this horse, what he’s doing for two guys that work their butts off every day just to put beans and bacon on the table, this horse has given everybody else out there the incentive to say, you know what?

We can do it too.  We can do this also.  It may not be a race horse.  It may be the idea that they have in their head or a new product or whatever the case may be, but we just hope that this horse is letting America know that the little guy can win.  The little guy can do it, because this is the little guy here.  Have you ever seen him?  He’s only about that tall (laughing).

But honestly, folks, I don’t know how to explain how I feel within my heart and soul.  It’s hard for me because I get very emotional about it.  But I honestly believe this horse is America’s horse.  He’s giving everybody that little light bulb when it clicks on, say you know what?  We can do this.  We can do this with just a little bit more try.  We can do it.  I’ve always told my wife, I said when I die, on my headstone put my name and say a man that loved his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and he always had try, period.


Q.  Can you imagine the kind of reception you’re going to get when you get to New York?

ART SHERMAN:  All I know is my wife already bugged me she wanted to go see a play downtown, so I know I’m in trouble right away.

STEVE COBURN:  So your wife’s been talking to my wife, right?

ART SHERMAN:  That’s right.


Q.  Steve, how about you?

STEVE COBURN:  I’ve never been to Kentucky.  It was always on our bucket list to go there.  Not necessarily for the Kentucky Derby, but just to go to Churchill Downs.  We went to Kentucky as the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, and we did.  We came to Maryland with the favorite to win the Preakness, and we did.  I think I’m going incognito to New York.  I’m going to go buy me some dreadlocks, and some Billy Bob Ts, and I’m sliding in the back door (laughing).

But you know what?  Dave Picker from NBC Sports, he told me, when you get there, you call me and we’ll show you a good time.  So, Dave, you know you’re on the hook right now.


Q.  Can you get some dreadlocks for Art?

STEVE COBURN:  They’re on the way.


Q.  Can you take us through your emotions watching the race?

STEVE COBURN:  Well, honestly, when he broke good, and he held his line, I had so many cameras in my face, I didn’t even get to see the race.  Carolyn says he’s in the lead.  I said where is he.  She said he’s in the lead.  He’s going to win the race, and then I saw him, I said he’s winning the damn race (laughing).  I had so many cameras in my face that I actually couldn’t see the race.

But you know what?  Ladies and gentlemen of this wonderful, wonderful state, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate what you’ve done for us.  We’re just everyday people.  We go to work every day.  What you’ve done for us, I cannot express how much I appreciate it.

I looked in the mirror this morning, and I thought I had me like a royal birthmark on my butt.  But I didn’t, because you people have been treating me like I’m royalty here.  So thank you, Maryland.  Thank you so much.


Q.  As crazy as it sounds, can you look back now and think that turning down the $6 million was a good decision?

ART SHERMAN:  Actually, he knew more than I did, and now the horse is worth $30 million.

STEVE COBURN:  That’s my boy.


Q.  So the answer is an emphatic yes?

ART SHERMAN:  A big yes.


Q.  In retrospect now, the $30 million you talked about winning the Triple Crown tonight ‑‑ the deal you turned down for $30 million, $6 million, whatever it was, was it the best business deal you didn’t make?

STEVE COBURN:  Not only yes, but hell yes.  No, honestly, we were here yesterday, and the man I said not only no, I said hell no.  And he shook my hand and I said I respect what you did.  So that tells me this man actually believed in us because we knew we had a good horse.  This horse wouldn’t be who he is today without the trainer, Art Sherman.  The exercise rider, Willie, and Raul, because Raul sleeps with this horse more than he sleeps with his wife.

So, Raul, thank you.  I love you.  You’re doing a great job.  Art, you have a lot of competition in front of you.  So when you see Raul, you tell him I said thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I’ll see him in the morning, actually.

But, yeah, it is what it is.  I can’t explain it.  But we’re not Dumbass Partners.  We’re Dumbass Partners family right now, and we’re sharing this with the world.  We just want everybody to know that thank you, thank you so much for just believing in us and in this horse because he is a very special horse.


Q.  You keep talking about going to work every day.  At what point do you quit your job and live off the income?

STEVE COBURN:  Well, I’m only 61, so I’ve got at least four more years to work, and I will show up every day because I cannot do this to my family, which is the people that I work with.  I could not walk away from them simply because I don’t want to put them in a bind.  I could do it, but I’m not going to do it because that’s not the type of person I am.  I am me.  I get up.  I go to work every day.  For somebody that has been fortunate enough as I have to have this happen to them, I can understand that they want to just get out the door and say, I’m done.  I can’t do this because I cannot put my company in that situation.  Because I work.  I work.  I love my job, and I work.         So I’ll be there until I’m able to retire.  Try to get me some social security.  Right now I can’t get it.  I’m only 61.  Now my wife retired, thank goodness.  I never knew I had so many underwear.  She had been washing my drawers for a long time.  I’ve got a lot of clean drawers.  Okay, all right, honey, we’re done.


Q.  In all seriousness, can this horse win the Triple Crown?

ART SHERMAN:  I tell you, I wouldn’t want to be in anybody else’s shoes right now.  I think the horse is a phenomenal horse.  I know right now we’re running on a high.  But I think when we get to Belmont this horse is going to run big.  I really do.


Q.  Why is Mr. Martin not here?

STEVE COBURN:  Well, all I can say is my partner, Perry Martin, is a very private person.  And Perry, I hope you’re listening to this because, you know what?  We love you, and we really wanted you to be here.  But I can understand why he’s not here.  The hospitality we received at Churchill Downs wasn’t very good, and Perry Martin, he decided that he and his family were going to watch the race some place within the world ‑‑ I can’t tell you where it’s at because I don’t even know where in the hell it’s at ‑‑ and then go have a good supper.

So, Perry, I hope I did you proud, because you saw me crying on camera.


Q.  There is a question in regards to the Churchill Downs comment you made to NBC?  You said Churchill Downs could take a lesson from the Maryland Jockey Club.


STEVE COBURN:  Yes, and I’m serious about this.  I’m serious as a heart attack.  Because you know what?  We got to Churchill and not only did I complain, but there were other trainers and owners and even the jockeys were complaining about the way they were treated.  I’ve said this once, I’ve said it 50 times, Churchill Downs needs to call Maryland to get a lesson in hospitality.  Because these people right here, they’ve treated us like we’re royalty, and I can’t say thank you enough.

We’ve got a gentleman out here, his name’s John.  That’s our driver.  John, say hi to the folks.  There is John.  He’s saying hi to the folks.  But you know what?  We’re not royalty.  We don’t expect to be treated like royalty, but the hospitality that these folks in Maryland have shown us is top shelf.  I’m talking above top shelf liquor.  I’m talking top shelf.

So, thank you, Maryland.  Thank you for everything you’ve done for us, and hopefully we’ll be back next year for the Black‑Eyed Susan, because California Chrome has a foal sis.


Q.  Do you think Perry will be able to make the Belmont?

STEVE COBURN:  Well, you know what?  I know a lot of people that can throw a good loop, and we’ll drag his butt to Belmont if he doesn’t want to show up on his own, so I’m hoping he will.  I really am.  Because he needs to be ‑‑ he’s missing out on a lot of fun.  He really, really is.  I know how him and Denise are, and I’ll talk to him.  I can’t guarantee nothing, but I’ll talk to him.


Q.  Do you think he missed out here for not being here?

STEVE COBURN:  You know what?  I can’t answer that for him.  All I can say is Perry, you’re missing a hell of a party, buddy.  You really are.


Q.  Did you talk to Perry right after the race?  If so, what did he say?

STEVE COBURN:  I have not talked to Perry yet.  My phone’s turned off, but I’m sure that when I turn it back on, there are going to be a lot of buzzes coming on that thing.  Perry and I, we talk a lot.  It’s back and forth.  It’s like, hey, partner, how you doing?  Fine.  How you doing?  It’s very casual.  We have a great relationship with Perry and Denise.  When we get together, my wife Carolyn and I, and Perry and Denise, it’s us.  I don’t know what else to tell you.  But Perry, we need to go to New York, New York, New York.


Q.  Is it fair to say that Perry isn’t here because of the way he was treated at Churchill?

STEVE COBURN:  You know what?  I can’t answer that for him, but I think it had a lot to do with it.  Because he had his mother who is 84 years old, trying to get everything done for her so she could be in the winner’s circle and so on and so forth.  There were people doing what they could to help us, but apparently they didn’t do quite enough.  But I can’t answer that for Perry.  I honestly believe that it was a bad, bad day at Churchill.  Even though we won, it was a bad day for my partner and his family.


Q.  How much does this sport need a Triple Crown winner?

STEVE COBURN:  This sport of horse racing ‑‑ okay, let me back up here a little bit.  We went on the number system as far as not money, based on points, right?  And in my opinion, in my opinion there are trainers out there that train horses just to upset the apple cart.  I honestly believe that there are a lot of good horses running out there, and 19 of them started in the Kentucky Derby.  I honestly believe that they need to change this sport to where those 20 horses that start in the Kentucky Derby are the only 20 eligible to run in all three races.  If you bow out in the Preakness, you don’t come back for the Belmont.

I honestly believe that if the Triple Crown is not won this year by California Chrome, I will never see it in my lifetime because there are people out there trying to upset the apple cart.  They don’t want a Triple Crown winner.  They want a paycheck.  So that’s my honest opinion.  If they don’t like it, I don’t care.  But that’s my opinion.  Thank you very much.  Thank you, folks.

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California Chrome trainer Sherman says throat issue “not a big deal” on Preakness eve

Posted on 16 May 2014 by WNST Staff


CALIFORNIA CHROME – The connections of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome said again Friday morning that their colt is healthy and ready to compete in Saturday’s $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

California Chrome coughed after training Thursday morning and he was examined by trainer Art Sherman’s veterinarian, who discovered that the colt had a small blister in his throat. The homebred colt owned by Steven Coburn and Perry Martin had a similar blister prior to his victory in the Derby.

Alexis Garske, a spokeswoman for Sherman Racing, said that when the blister – described as a common, minor irritation – was found in Kentucky after the Derby, blood tests were done and the colt’s airway was scoped. Those examinations showed that the colt was fine and able to continue training. Garske said Friday that California Chrome was not scoped and did not have his blood tested in Maryland this week.

California Chrome is being treated with a glycerin throat wash.

“California Chrome is fine. His throat is fine. He had a little tickle,” said Sherman’s son and assistant trainer, Alan Sherman. “He is not scratching from the Preakness. He is fine. I don’t know why it was blown out of proportion.”

Art Sherman said the blister is a routine matter and not a cause for concern.

“Sometimes they get a little scratchy,” Art Sherman said. “It’s not a big deal, as long as their blood comes back good and they eat up everything. It’s just something that horses do have. If you scope a lot of horses after a race you’re going to see all kind of little stuff going on. None of them are really perfect. Going a mile and a quarter, if you scope them afterward, you’ll see dirt down their throats. It’s just imperative when you race horses.”

California Chrome went to the track shortly after 6 a.m. Friday and galloped two miles in the rain under exercise rider Willie Delgado. The exercise was moved ahead by approximately 30 minutes because a heavy round of showers was expected to arrive later in the hour.

“I thought he looked good,” Art Sherman said.

The Shermans have enjoyed their time at Pimlico while meeting the connections of other Preakness runners.

“It’s been fun and we’re trying to be relaxed into this race,” Art Sherman said. “When you run a 3-5 shot, you’ve got a lot more pressure on you knowing you’re going to be the favorite, but I think we can handle it.”

Sherman said that it is up to jockey Victor Espinoza to decide what strategy to use in the Preakness.

“You’ve got to see how the race is going to play out,” Sherman said. “I wish I had a future book to look at and see how this is going to be, but I’ve been around for a long time and I just go one race at a time. I can’t give instructions to Victor; he’s been around there. Anyone that gives instructions to these kind of jocks are kidding themselves. That’s why they are earning the big bucks and they are very talented riders.”


BAYERN – Assistant trainer Jim Barnes sent Kaleem Shah’s Bayern out to the track for a 1 1/2 mile gallop in the rain Fridaymorning at Pimlico.


Barnes said the Offlee Wild colt was fine and ready for the Preakness.


Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert ran Bayern in the Derby Trial on April 26 at Churchill Downs rather than wait five days to see if he would have enough points to get into the field for the Kentucky Derby. Bayern finished first in the Trial but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch. He worked twice at Churchill Downs before shipping to Pimlicoon Wednesday.


Rosie Napravnik, who rode Bayern in the Derby Trial, will be aboard in the Preakness.


DYNAMIC IMPACT – John Oxley’s Dynamic Impact galloped 1 ½ miles in a driving rain at Pimlico Friday morning, going to the track at 7:30 with exercise rider Wayne Brown up.


“We are not used to training in this kind of weather at Woodbine; we try to avoid it,” said trainer Mark Casse, who arrived from Ocala, Fla. Thursday night. “But it looked like he went well over it.”


Dynamic Impact, riding a two-race win streak that includes a victory in the Illinois Derby (G3), will break from post No. 1 and be ridden by Miguel Mena.


Casse, who is set to saddle his first Preakness starter, was asked what he would like to see unfold for Dynamic Impact on Saturday afternoon.


“I think there is a lot of speed in there,” said Casse, who reported that Dynamic Impact would not go to the track Saturdaymorning. “Of course, a lot of times you think that way and it does not materialize, but I think that will happen. I hope he is able to sit right behind the speed.


“Things have to go our way and he has to save ground and then move out at some point. We will be closely watching the earlier races, and there could be some last-minute changes in our strategy.”


GENERAL A ROD – Skychai Racing and Starlight Racing’s General a Rod was out on the Pimlico track shortly after 6 a.m. Friday for a 1 1/8-mile gallop under exercise rider Joel Barrientos.


Trainer Mike Maker said Friday’s rainy weather didn’t seem to have any effect on General a Rod, who had trained on wet tracks before, although all six of his starts have come on fast tracks.


“Everything’s good, we’re all set,” Maker said. “He’s got a great attitude. He never gets nervous about anything.”


General a Rod will be making his fifth start of the year, his lone victory coming in the ungraded Gulfstream Park Derby. He was second in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and third in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream before finishing a troubled 11th in the Kentucky Derby.


“His resume speaks for itself,” said Maker, who is saddling his first Preakness runner. “He’s run well with good horses in Florida. He’s a big, imposing horse. He just needs to run his race.”


Maker has plenty of respect for the Derby winner, but firmly believes his colt is in the upper echelon of his generation at this point. As for the Preakness, he’s optimistic.


“It’s just like every other race,” he said. “You need a good trip, a good set-up and to have everything go your way. Obviously, (California Chrome) is head and shoulders above everybody so far. He’s proved it, and every race, he’s continued to do so.”


Javier Castellano, who last was aboard General a Rod in his photo-finish defeat in the Fountain of Youth, returns to ride him in the Preakness.


KID CRUZ – Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable’s Kid Cruz, rated at 20-1 in the morning line for Saturday’s Preakness, went out to the track early Friday morning for a 1 1/8-mile gallop over a sloppy Pimlico strip with exercise rider Reul Munoz in the irons.


Trainer Linda Rice, bidding to become the first female trainer to win the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, realizes that making his graded-stakes debut in the Preakness will be an uphill battle for the son of Lemon Drop Kid.


“I’ve been racing horses for quite a few years, but I typically don’t like to go places that I don’t have a chance,” the New York-based trainer said. “I’ve never been here for this. I know he won’t be short odds, but I still think he deserves a shot.”


Kid Cruz won the Federico Tesio Stakes over the Pimlico track on April 19 after scoring in the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel.


“I’m not so sure Pimlico is the same when they ran the Tesio as it will be on Preakness Day,” Rice said. “There’s the big crowd, a lot of noise. It’s much different, but he certainly ran well over the track. In some ways I think this is more of a speed-favoring track, but because they usually go hard and fast early, I’m hoping that’s the case.”


Kid Cruz, a $50,000 claim by Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds after a November maiden win at Aqueduct, is a late runner whose speed figures may not stack up with some of the other Preakness contenders, particularly California Chrome, as Rice readily acknowledges.


“He looks slow (numbers-wise),” Rice said. “I think the Belmont (Stakes) is really his best option to beat these kinds of horses. I’m aware of that. We just need him to move forward here. We’re still going to try hard on Saturday.”


Julian Pimentel, who has been aboard for Kid Cruz’s two recent victories, has the return mount for the Preakness.


PABLO DEL MONTE – Blake Heap, the longtime assistant to trainer Wesley Ward, decided not to send Pablo Del Monteout to the track in the heavy rain Friday morning.


“We just tack-walked him around the shedrow in here and jogged a little bit in here,” Heap said. “He’s ready and I didn’t think that one day of jogging on the track was going to make a big difference. He’s ready and everything is perfect.”


Heap said the speedy Giant’s Causeway colt does not have to lead from gate to wire to be successful in the Preakness.


“He’s probably got to get a good break,” Heap said. “He’s got speed and he’s on the outside, but he can’t get into a real speed duel. If he could be in front that would be nice, but if he could just relax and be second or third on the outside, he might do that. Things just have to go that way and other people have got to have bad trips. Things have to go your way to win.”


RIA ANTONIA – Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s Ria Antonia galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Maurice Sanchez at 6:30 Friday morning in a driving rain at Pimlico.


Trainer Tom Amoss watched the morning activity on a video while overseeing his main string at Churchill Downs.


“I liked the way she went. She looked good, but then she looked good before the Kentucky Oaks (G1), too,” Amoss said of the sixth-place Oaks finisher who joined his barn three days after the May 2 race.


Ria Antonia will be ridden Saturday by Calvin Borel, who was aboard her for the first time on Sunday for a half-mile work in :47 3/5 at Churchill Downs. She will break from post No. 6.


Amoss, who will arrive in Baltimore Friday afternoon, was asked how he would like to see the race unfold for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner.


“I would like to see a lively pace, a contested pace, involving the contenders,” said Amoss, who saddled Mylute to a third-place finish behind Oxbow in last year’s Preakness.  “She needs to be in a good striking position and we need to see her run her peak race.”


In addition to Mylute, Amoss has had one other Preakness starter, Hot Wells, who finished fourth behind Real Quiet in 1998.


RIDE ON CURLIN – Trainer “Bronco Billy” Gowan sent Ride On Curlin to the track for a mile gallop under exercise rider Bryan Beccia on Pimlico’s sloppy main track Friday morning.


“If he ran over this stuff tomorrow, he’d love it,” Gowan said of his first Preakness starter. “I think he’d run over anything – wet, grass, anything… I really do.”


Gowan insists that his horse has yet to show his real ability following a troubled trip in which he still managed to finish seventh in the Kentucky Derby under Calvin Borel.


“We just have to get a good trip,” Gowan said. “I think he’s a good horse. I think that’s all we need. And if (California) Chrome stubs his toe a little bit… well that would help. He’s (California Chrome) an awful good horse. I’d like to hook him at the top of the stretch and see what we’ve got, you know? I’d like to see them fast up front and me laying off them a little bit.”


Gowan’s son of Curlin, a $25,000 Keeneland purchase in 2012 by Daniel Dougherty, hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since taking an allowance race at Oaklawn five starts back. His second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) has been his most impressive outing and he’s one of only three horses returning from the Kentucky Derby for the Middle Jewel of racing’s Triple Crown.


“There’s only one chance to run in the Preakness,” Gowan said. “The Derby didn’t take much out of him. He’s given me all the signs he wants to run. I don’t think it’s that big a deal, coming back in two weeks. It seems like he’s getting stronger all the time. He hasn’t lost any weight and he’s getting stronger and tougher all the time. I was pretty confident in the last race. I feel the same here.”


Ride On Curlin is Dougherty’s only runner in training. He has a pair of 2-year-olds in training in Kentucky with Gowan.


“He was a little crooked-legged,” Gowan said when asked how he managed to find a son of Curlin out of a Storm Cat mare (Magical Ride) for such a bargain price. “He was a little off-set in his knees, but he had a serious pedigree. I bought him in September and we had him at my house for six weeks, then we sent him down to Florida and started (training) him. Hey, sometimes you see million-dollar horses that can’t get out of their own way.”


RING WEEKEND – St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds’  Ring Weekend galloped a mile after visiting the starting gate at Pimlico Race Course Friday morning. It was the first activity on the Pimlico track for the Graham Motion-trained colt, who did the bulk of his training for the Preakness at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. before shipping on Thursday.


“Everything went well,” assistant trainer and exercise rider Alice Clapham said.


Alan Garcia has the mount on the gelded son of Tapit, who captured the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) before finishing second in the Calder Derby.


“I’m going to leave everything up to Alan, because I think I interfered with him for the Calder Derby,” said Motion, offering that he may have ‘over-instructed’ Garcia. “I’m going to leave it up to him and let him see how the race sets up and let the horse run his race.”


SOCIAL INCLUSION – Rontos Racing Stable Corp.’s Social Inclusion galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Domingo Navarro at Pimlico Friday morning.


“He liked the rain. He trains in rain all the time in Florida,” said Ron Sanchez of Rontos Racing. “He looks great.”


Social Inclusion has shown brilliant speed in his three lifetime starts. The son of Pioneerof the Nile launched his career during the winter at Gulfstream Park with a pair of easy front-running triumphs, including a track-record performance at 1 1/16 miles in an open allowance. After breaking a step slowly from his outside post in the Wood Memorial, the Manny Azpurua-trained colt raced wide around the first turn before setting a strong pace into deep stretch and faltering to third late.


Although Social Inclusion is generally regarded as a speed horse, Sanchez expects the Kentucky-bred colt to be a late factor, as well, in the 1 3/16-mile Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.


“I want him to have the lead at the three-quarters – breaking well, going to the turn first or second and at the three-quarters, there he goes,” Sanchez said. “He’s going to finish. In the Wood, the track didn’t help him. This time the track is going to help us.”


Luis Contreras, who has been aboard Social Inclusion in all three of his starts, has the return mount.

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Pletcher couples Black-Eyed Susan win with Pimlico Special victory

Posted on 16 May 2014 by WNST Staff

Revolutionary Rallies from Last to Win $300,000 Pimlico Special

BALTIMORE, 05-16-14 – WinStar Farm’s Revolutionary launched an extended and thrilling rally to register a narrow victory in Friday’s $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3).

The Todd Pletcher-trained 4-year-old was slow to get into stride over the racing surface that was turned ‘sloppy’ by 2-1/4 inches of rain that fell during the morning hours but was upgraded to ‘fast’ shortly before the 44th running of the Special.

After trailing the nine-horse field by open lengths heading into the backstretch, the son of War Pass leveled off under jockey Mike Smith and steadily made progress heading into the far turn, where he began to circle the field.

Revolutionary loomed as a wide threat at the top of the stretch and kicked in with a determined bid to catch Prayer for Relief at the wire by a neck. Cat Burglar finished another 1 ¼ lengths back in third.

Revolutionary ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:55.99 as the 2-1 betting choice in the historic race on a card that included the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2), a race Pletcher also captured with Stopchargingmaria.

The on-track attendance was 34,736 with the 13-race program generating a handle of $11,346,688

“I am very happy with the day considering where we were this morning,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “At 5:30 it was raining sideways and you couldn’t see.  The card got pulled apart with six races coming off the turf creating a lot of scratches which made it difficult. But overall I am pleased. My team did a great job and worked hard under adverse conditions. The track was fast by the end of the day and we will be good to go on the turf tomorrow.”

The Ultimate Girls Day Out festivities also included an infield concert with the Counting Crows, The Fray and Annie Bosko and a keynote address by Academy Award-nominated actress and author Mariel Hemingway at the inaugural Morgan Stanley Women in Business networking event & luncheon in the Preakness Village. Proceeds benefitted the Maryland Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and Baltimore-based Suited To Succeed.

Revolutionary, who paid $6.40 to win, earned $180,000 for his fifth victory in 12 lifetime starts. Last year, the Kentucky-bred colt won the Withers (G3) and the Louisiana Derby (G2) before finishing third in the 2013 Kentucky Derby. He had not won a race since capturing an allowance test at Gulfstream Park to start 2014 and most recently finished second in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2).



Winning Trainer Todd Pletcher (Revolutionary): “That was a good win. He came from way, way off it (the pace). We didn’t anticipate being that far back, but I felt a little better when the fractions were as fast as they were. Once they threw up 46 (seconds)-and-change, I felt better. Turning for home he was right in the mix. I think he showed last year and as a 2-year-old that he was a really good horse. He won the Louisiana Derby and he was third in the Kentucky Derby. The time off we gave him after the Belmont Stakes (June to January) did him well. This was a big effort for him.”


Winning Jockey Mike Smith (Revolutionary): “I didn’t realize I was going to be so far back. I even asked him a little bit coming out of the gate. I was a little concerned and I thought, ‘They’ve got to be flying out there.’ I started picking up horses about the 4 ½-pole. Going past the five-eighths, he really started to level off and I felt very confident that he was going to run well. I didn’t know if he would get by all of them, but at the quarter-pole I was pretty confident.”


Assistant trainer Tammy Fox (Prayer for Relief, 2nd): “Coming into this race he trained super over this surface. I knew he was going to run a big race, which he did. Johnny (Velazquez) said that he really didn’t want to pass the horse in front and then when he did, he was just as surprised when Revolutionary came up to him. He ran a great race. You can’t take anything away from him.”

Jockey John Velazquez (Prayer for Relief, 2nd): “I had a perfect trip. I was where I wanted to be. I was close. I got to the eighth pole and my horse did not want to pass the horse on the lead. He just hung in there and hung in there and finally put his head in front of the horse. He went to running, and then he went to pull up, and sure enough, the other horse nailed him because he wanted to wait for the other horse. He never saw him until the other horse passed him on the outside.”


Trainer Bob Baffert (Cat Burglar, 3rd): “We got a great trip. I love the way Rosie had him in a great spot. It looks like he’ll be able to run with these top handicap horses. I was trying to find out more about him today. They were going pretty fast and for him to keep on running at the end, I feel that he’ll be better as we go along.”


Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Cat Burglar, 3rd): “I had a pretty good trip on the inside. I just tried to find a way through at the quarter pole and had a ton of horse all the way. We ran really tight down the lane. My horse showed a lot of class and a lot of grit and I really love him. I’m excited to see where he goes next.”

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Pletcher trained Stopchargingmaria claims Black-Eyed Susan Stakes

Posted on 16 May 2014 by WNST Staff

Stopchargingmaria Charges to Victory in Black-Eyed Susan Stakes


BALTIMORE, 05-16-14 – Repole Stable’s Stopchargingmaria took the overland route and narrowly won the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) in dramatic fashion Friday at Pimlico Race Course. The Black-Eyed Susan is restricted to 3-year fillies and is contested at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.


Sent from the gate by Javier Castellano, the Todd Pletcher-trained Stopchargingmaria saved ground around the first turn before being taken to the outside. Asked for run around the far turn, the daughter of Tale of the Cat hooked Vero Amore at the top of the stretch but only gained the lead a few jumps from the finish line, winning by a neck in 1:51.79 over a track rated good. Fortune Pearl finished third.


The Black-Eyed Susan win was the fourth for Pletcher, having saddled Spun Sugar (2005), Panty Raid (2007) and In Lingerie (2012) for victories in the race.


Stopchargingmaria, who paid $9.60, has won three stakes in eight lifetime starts, including the Temped (G3) and the Demoiselle (G2).



Winning Trainer Todd Pletcher (Stopchargingmaria): “It was a terrific performance. We actually got shuffled back a little bit going to the first turn. We were hoping to be a little closer. Javier was able to move her to the outside and get a good position, and she really picked it up. Once she got to the outside on the far turn, she started to make her move and she was rolling. This was certainly her best race. To be honest, I’m not really sure why her first two races this year didn’t go as well as last year. It took her a little while after the Fantasy (April 5 at Oaklawn) to get back. After the Fantasy we took her up to Saratoga and the cool weather seemed to invigorate her. Today she acted like she was back to her old self. I like this race; I think it’s my fourth Black Eyed Susan.”


Winning Jockey Javier Castellano (Stopchargingmaria): “It set up perfectly for us and I had a beautiful trip. We took a look at the race beforehand. We figured there’d be a lot of speed and I just wanted to put her in a good position. We saved ground going into the first turn and after that it was a matter of keeping her in the clear. I had ridden her before at Saratoga on an off track, and she had no problems with it today at all. At the top of the stretch, I was pretty confident.”


Trainer Robert Reid Jr. (Vero Amore, 2nd): “I can’t believe she is still not a stakes winner. She’s so game, this filly. What she lacks in size and maybe pedigree, she makes up in trying. I saw her give them the slip a little at the top of the stretch. I’ve got to give the winner a lot of credit. She ran really game. They were both really trying all the way to the wire.”


Jockey Frank Pennington (Vero Amore, 2nd): “I thought I had it coming off the turn and we’d kick on. I thought we were going to keep on going, then the horse came alongside of me and we just got beat. She gave me everything she could. I’m very proud of her.”


Trainer Graham Motion (Fortune Pearl, 3rd): “I was pleased with her race. She was coming off short rest. She won very impressively last time, and she showed today that it wasn’t a fluke.”


Jockey Trevor McCarthy (Fortune Pearl, 3rd): “I had a great trip. She was forwardly placed today and she really kicked in around the turn. We got pushed out a little bit early, but once she got clear, she really responded.”

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Velasquez claims Hall of Fame Jockey Challenge

Posted on 16 May 2014 by WNST Staff



Rider wins Xpressbet Hall of Fame Jockey Challenge

BALTIMORE, 05-16-14—John Velazquez took top honors, but it was all of his fellow riders who went home winners on Friday afternoon.


Velazquez, 42, compiled 27 points to edge Kent Desormeaux and win the inaugural $50,000 Xpressbet Hall of Fame Jockey Challenge at Pimlico Race Course.


Based in New York, Velazquez won two of four challenge races to finish with a five-point edge over Desormeaux in a competition that featured seven of the eight active Hall of Fame riders.


Also taking part were Northern California-based Russell Baze, North America’s all-time leader with 12,253 victories; Edgar Prado, one of Maryland’s most decorated jockeys with 24 individual riding titles from 1989-99; Mike Smith, who owns a record 20 Breeders’ Cup victories; three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel; and 2014 inductee Alex Solis.


Multiple scratches among participants caused separate win and exacta wagering on the four-race challenge to be canceled. The total purse was split evenly among the riders, each receiving $7,142.86.


As part of the event, the Stronach Group, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator which includes Pimlico, donated $50,000 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund.


“It’s incredible to have all this talent in one room, all these Hall of Famers,” said Velazquez, who owns one Kentucky Derby and two Belmont Stakes among his 5,132 career victories to go along with two Eclipse Awards and more than $302 million in lifetime purses.


“I am the youngest one, so I have followed a lot of them and I am a big fan of all of them,” he said. “It’s great to be here. It’s a great challenge, for a great cause. I’m glad to be part of it.”


The challenge shared Friday’s card with eight stakes races including the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies and the $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) for older horses; as well as the fifth and final edition of Lady Legends for the Cure presented by Wells Fargo, a pari-mutuel race featuring eight retired female riding pioneers.


This marked the sixth year for a jockey challenge at Pimlico on the eve of the Preakness Stakes and the first in its new format, bringing together a group that has combined to win nearly 45,000 races and more than $1.6 billion in purses, nine Eclipse Awards, 20 Triple Crown races and 41 Breeders’ Cup races.


Twelve points were awarded for finishing first among challenge participants, six for second, four for third and three for fourth. Baze and Solis tied for third place with 12 points apiece, followed by Prado (six), Smith (four) and Borel (three).


“Unfortunately, a lot of the guys didn’t get to ride most of the races,” Velazquez said. ‘With all the rain, there were a lot of scratches. It would have been a lot more fun if everybody had a little more opportunity to ride in the races and make it a little bit closer, but we can only deal with what Mother Nature throws at us.”


Velazquez captured each of the first two challenge races, finishing first among participants in the second race and winning the fourth race with Coco Punch ($7.80) for trainer Robin Graham to give him 24 points.


Desormeaux, 44, who won two Eclipse Awards, 648 races and $11.7 million in purses at Pimlico during his three years in Maryland from 1987-89, had just four points after two challenge races. He was third among participants in the second race and scratched out of the fourth.


With Velazquez sitting out the sixth race, Desormeaux won with Handsome Harley ($5.20) to cut the lead to 24-16 heading into the final challenge race. Velazquez, who  picked up Noor Un Nisa after his original mount was scratched, was fourth in the eighth race while Desormeaux was second.


Baze, 55, and Smith, 48, were each limited to one mount, both in the eighth race. Riding for the first time at Pimlico in his 41-year career and just the third time in Maryland, Baze was first among participants with Seaside, while Smith was third on Dora Dora.


Solis, 50, was second among participants in the fourth and sixth race, and scratched out of the second and eighth. Borel, 47, and Prado, 46, each rode only in the challenge opener, finishing second and fourth, respectively.


Desormeaux won Pimlico’s inaugural Preakness eve jockey challenge over three rivals in 2009, and was second to Javier Castellano in 2010. Switched to an all-female format, the challenge was won by Emma-Jayne Wilson in 2011 and local favorite Rosie Napravnik in 2012.


Wilson repeated her victory last year, when the challenge was tweaked again for a ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ featuring four male and female riders.

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Throat irritation no issue for California Chrome heading into Preakness

Posted on 15 May 2014 by WNST Staff



CALIFORNIA CHROME – Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome is being treated for the recurrence of a minor throat irritation that his connections say will not affect his preparation for the 139th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course Saturday.

Alan Sherman, assistant to his father, trainer Art Sherman, said that the colt has a small throat blister that is being treated with a glycerin throat wash. The blister was discovered during a thorough examination after California Chrome coughedThursday morning.

“He’s fine,” Alan Sherman said. “He had it going into the Derby and it went away. After he ran in there, it came back a little bit, but it’s not a big deal at all.”

After the colt coughed, blood work was done and he was scoped. Nothing but the blister was found. Alan Sherman said a throat blister is fairly common.

“I don’t know how they get them, but a lot of horses get them,” Sherman said, comparing it to an itchy throat for a human.

When questions arose about the status of the colt’s health,

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California Chrome, General A Rod, Ride On Curlin get first work in at Pimlico

Posted on 13 May 2014 by WNST Staff



CALIFORNIA CHROME – Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome’s first visit to the track at Pimlico Tuesday morning was more about getting acclimated to the home of the Preakness Stakes than exercise.

Exercise rider Willie Delgado took the big chestnut out for a tour of the one-mile course at 6:45 a.m., approximately 16 hours after he arrived at the Preakness Stakes Barn on a trip from Louisville, Ky.

“He jogged and he was great,” said assistant trainer Alan Sherman, who has managed the horse since the Derby while his father, Art, has tended to the rest of his stable in Southern California. “He stood out there for a while, just looked around and took it all in. He’s a really curious horse. He likes to look around a lot and check out the surroundings. He was good. He was really good.”

Alan Sherman said the colt has settled in nicely in Stall 40, traditionally the Pimlico home of the Kentucky Derby winner. The next step, Sherman said, was to let the horse check out the track while he was stretching his legs and getting a feel for the surface.

“Yeah, just let him look around,” Alan Sherman said. “When he gallops, I want him to be focused on what he’s doing and not be looking around and stub his toe or anything.”

Art Sherman, 77, was scheduled to arrive from California Tuesday afternoon and will be at Pimlico when California Chrome returns to the track at 6:45 Wednesday morning.

“He is enjoying the ride immensely,” Alan Sherman said, “but he’s not a young guy and was getting a little tired toward the end of all that. He’s fresh now.”

California Chrome’s emergence from promising young horse to the leader of his division with his resounding Derby victory has put the Shermans in the spotlight. Art Sherman has spent 60 years in the business as a stable hand, exercise rider, jockey and trainer. Alan Sherman works for his father and his brother, Steve, is a trainer in Northern California. The Sherman family is enjoying its ride with California Chrome.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Alan Sherman said. “Every year when you get the 2-year-olds in you’re saying, ‘maybe this will be the one that will get us to the Derby,’ but we’ve been saying that for a lot of years now and we finally made it. It’s really special.”

California Chrome, bred and owned by Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, brings a five-race winning streak into the Preakness, but he wasn’t an overnight sensation. He won two of his first six starts, most of them races against other California-bred horses before he stepped forward.

“In the King Glorious, the last stake at Hollywood Park (Dec. 22), that opened my eyes up. Then he just kept getting better,” Alan Sherman said. “Then he won the California Breeders’ Derby and that was another impressive race. But the San Felipe (G2) was probably when I went, ‘wow.’ It was the first time against open company and he just broke two in front and won so easy that day. I was pretty excited about that one.”

After the San Felipe, California Chrome won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) by 5 1/4 lengths, a performance that made him the Derby favorite. His victory at Churchill Downs on May 3 made Art Sherman the oldest trainer to win the Derby and punctuated a solid career.

“My dad is so deserving of it,” Alan Sherman said. “He works hard. He goes to the sales and buys horses himself and claims horses with his own money. He puts up his own money. He deserves it.”

Having prevailed from the 19-horse Derby, in which several participants ran into traffic, California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza move to the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, a slightly shorter test at 1 3/16 miles with 10 likely starters.

“You’re not going to get the traffic problems, hopefully,” Alan Sherman said. “You can get in traffic problems in a four-horse race, but it’s not 20, by any means. And he’s got enough turn of foot. All Victor has to do is squeeze on him a little bit and he can keep himself out of trouble.”

When someone asked him what the worst possible scenario might be, Alan Sherman grinned and said, “Losing.” Sherman understood that the question was about race dynamics and quickly said the colt’s versatility would enable Espinoza to ride the race as it develops.

“If they go too slow in front, he’ll take it right to them and push the horses in front of him. If they are going fast in front, he can just sit off the pace,” he said. “That’s the good thing about him – that he doesn’t have one style of running. He’s pretty push-button. If you ask him he’ll do it.”


BAYERN – Kaleem Shah’s Bayern walked the shedrow at Barn 33 at Churchill Downs and received a visit from jockey Rosie Napravnik Tuesday morning.

Never worse than third in four career starts, Bayern had worked five furlongs in company Monday with Napravnik up in 1:02 3/5.

“He came out of the work fine and we are ready for Baltimore,” said Jim Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert.

Bayern, along with Preakness hopefuls Dynamic Impact and Ria Antonia, is scheduled to be loaded onto a van at 10:30 Wednesday morning for the short ride to Louisville International Airport to make a Tex Sutton charter flight to Baltimore scheduled to arrive at Baltimore-Washington International Airport in early afternoon.
DYNAMIC IMPACT – It was back to business Tuesday morning for John Oxley’s Illinois Derby (G3) winner Dynamic Impact.

With exercise rider Marco Cano aboard, Dynamic Impact was on the fast track at Churchill Downs to gallop 1 ½ miles. Dynamic Impact had worked five furlongs on a track labeled as “good” in 1:01 3/5 Sunday and walked the shedrow Monday.

Assistant trainer Norman Casse indicated that Dynamic Impact would visit the starting gate Wednesday as part of his morning routine.

Dynamic Impact will be ridden in the Preakness by Miguel Mena, who rode the Tiznow colt for the first time in the Illinois Derby.

In that race, Dynamic Impact eventually wore down 2-5 favorite Midnight Hawk, winning by a nose with the third-place horse 8 ½ lengths back.

“He is a classy horse,” Mena said of what will be his initial Preakness mount. “Those kinds of horses dig in and don’t like to get beat.

“He’s a fighter, but he doesn’t like to be inside. At the half-mile pole (in the Illinois Derby), I was able to pull him out (from the rail) and he found another gear. He fought so hard until he got the job done.”


GENERAL A ROD – Trainer Mike Maker was on the scene Tuesday morning for General a Rod’s first trip to the racetrack at Pimlico Race Course, supervising the colt’s 1 ½-mile gallop under exercise rider Joel Barrientos.

“He really seems to like it here,” said Maker, the former D. Wayne Lukas assistant who is preparing his first Preakness runner. “He likes that big stall. He’s all sprawled every time I’ve seen him. Last night and this morning he was in the same spot, sprawled out and relaxed.”

The son of Roman Ruler is in the same location that trainer Doug O’Neil’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another occupied two years ago at the rear of Barn D. Maker said he’s hoping to glean some of that good fortune for the Gulfstream Park Derby winner.

Maker has had much more tangible exposure to Preakness success, having served alongside Lukas for more than a decade from 1993 to 2003, when the Hall of Famer won the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown with Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995), and Derby winner Charismatic (1999). General a Rod wasn’t quite as successful in Louisville, finishing a troubled 11th.

“I didn’t think he had a fair shake,” said the 45-year-old Michigan native. “He had a rough trip and didn’t get to run his race. He came out of it well and with high energy. It’s the Preakness … we might as well give it another shot.”

General a Rod was a model of consistency before the Derby, never off the board in his first five starts, including a head defeat in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and a 1 ½-length setback in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream in his final prep. Skychai Racing and Starlight Racing purchased the colt only days before the Kentucky Derby from J. Armando Rodriguez.

General a Rod has impressed his trainer with his consistency through his sophomore season.

“He’s been exactly the same,” Maker said. “Obviously he needs to get a little better, but, knock on wood, he’s had a string of great days for a long time.”


KID CRUZ – Assistant trainer Samantha Randazzo supervised a routine gallop for Kid Cruz in the colt’s first trip over the Pimlico racing strip Tuesday morning shortly after 6:30 a.m.

Trainer Linda Rice is scheduled to be on hand at Pimlico for Wednesday’s post-position draw for the Preakness.

“He got in last night at about 8 o’clock and had a nice mile-and-a-half gallop this morning over the track,” Rice said by phone from her Belmont Park base.

Rice said she plans to gallop the colt the rest of the week and plans to school him in the paddock sometime on Thursday.

Julian Pimentel, who has been aboard a pair of ungraded stakes victories by Kid Cruz in Maryland, will also be going for his first Preakness victory in only his second mount. He finished 11th with Norman Asbjornson in the 2011 edition.

Rice, representing Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds, claimed Kid Cruz from Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott for $50,000 off his maiden-breaking win on dirt at Aqueduct on Nov. 13. Mott had tried the son of Lemon Drop Kid on grass in his first start with no success before making the surface switch to dirt. Rice was paying attention.

“I spoke to the connections and we decided to put in the claim,” said Rice, who was the first female to ever win a training title at Saratoga Race Course in 2009. “I really liked his conformation and the way he moved.”

After closing to finish second in an allowance at Aqueduct on Jan. 26 to begin his sophomore season, Kid Cruz was shipped to Laurel and rewarded his connections with a resounding four-length victory in the $100,000 Private Terms.

The Wood Memorial was next on Kid Cruz’s schedule but he couldn’t make the race, so Rice opted to aim for the Preakness. He prepped for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown with another easy victory in the Federico Tesio at Pimlico on April 19.

“He’s stepping up in class considerably,” said Rice, who is preparing to saddle her first Preakness starter. “His numbers aren’t as good as most of the horses in the field, so we know he’ll have to step up in this race, but we’re excited to give him the chance. He deserves it.”


PABLO DEL MONTE – Trainer Wesley Ward reported Tuesday that Pablo Del Monte had a good and uneventful morning of training at Keeneland.

“We galloped a mile and a half,” Ward said. “Everything went beautifully.”

Pablo Del Monte debuted with a victory in April 2013 and won his next start, an allowance race at Keeneland in October. Ward moved him into stakes company, where he has been competitive but winless in four tries. Pablo Del Monte set the early pace in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and finished third, 3 1/2 lengths behind Dance With Fate.

Ward decided to skip the Kentucky Derby after the colt drew into the field from the also-eligible list and was assigned Post 20, opting to focus on the Preakness. Pablo Del Monte will be Ward’s third Preakness runner.

“He’s certainly ready,” Ward said.  “He worked 1:10-and-change last week and he came back with a 1:12 1/5 on Saturday. He’s had the spacing between the Blue Grass and the Preakness now. If ever you’d want to take on a Kentucky Derby winner it’s when he’s coming back on short rest, like these two weeks.

“My colt’s got speed and historically, for Aloma’s Ruler and horses like that, speed has been to their advantage and they have taken it from gate to wire. There have been a lot of gate-to-wire winners. Everything is kind of coming together right now and I really don’t want to change anything. That’s why I kept the horse here until Wednesday. Everything is looking great.”

Ward had originally planned to ship Pablo Del Monte to Baltimore from Lexington, Ky, on Wednesday, but switched up and said he would put the colt on a Monday charter. However, he reversed himself Monday and went back to the original schedule.

Jeffrey Sanchez will ride Pablo Del Monte in the Preakness Stakes.


RIA ANTONIA – Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s Ria Antonia, jogged a mile under exercise rider Maurice Sanchez shortly after the track at Churchill Downs opened at 6 o’clock Tuesday morning.

Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) via disqualification last fall, Ria Antonia is scheduled to gallop in the morning before heading to Baltimore.

Ria Antonia would be the first filly to run in the Preakness since Rachel Alexandra won the race in 2009 with Calvin Borel aboard. Borel will ride Ria Antonia on Saturday.


RIDE ON CURLIN – Trainer Billy Gowan took a very active role in Ride On Curlin’s morning activities at Pimlico Tuesday. After leading the son of Curlin out to the track for a vigorous 1 1/8-mile gallop under exercise rider Bryan Beccia, Gowan walked his Preakness hopeful in the shedrow and assisted in the bath and the grooming of the star of his four-horse stable.

“It looked like he got over it (the track) perfect to me,” said Gowan, whose colt shipped into Pimlico from Kentucky Mondayafternoon. “Every track he’s ever been on he’s gone over good. This one looks just like the rest of them, really good. I was really happy.”

The son of 2007 Preakness winner Curlin had an eventful trip from Post 18 in the Kentucky Derby under Calvin Borel, ultimately passing seven horses in the stretch to finish seventh behind California Chrome. Gowan decided to switch riders to Joel Rosario for the Preakness.

“If we can get a clean trip, we’ll just see,” said the 48-year-old Louisiana native. “California Chrome is an awful nice horse. I’d just like a clean trip and see what the horse is really made of. I thought it’d be our day in the Derby; maybe it’ll be our day in the Preakness.”

Ride On Curlin won an allowance race in the first start of his 3-year-old campaign at Oaklawn Park. He went on to finish third in both the Southwest and Rebel, before running a solid second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and heading to Kentucky.

Last season he set a track record at Ellis Park while breaking his maiden at 5 ½ furlongs, but owner Daniel Dougherty turned down a $1 million offer to sell the colt.

Rosario will be the fourth jockey for Ride On Curlin in six races this season.

“I don’t think it’s the jockey,” Gowan said. “All these jockeys are trying to win. They want to win races just like I do. It’s just racing luck and circumstances. He’s (Rosario) a really strong finisher on a horse, and it’s going to take a really strong finisher to beat California Chrome and all these horses. They’re all nice horses.”

Ride On Curlin is scheduled to breeze  “an easy half-mile” Wednesday morning.


RING WEEKEND – St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Ring Weekend galloped 1 5/8 miles under Alice ClaphamTuesday morning at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.

The 3-year-old son of Tapit is scheduled for a quest to become the eighth gelding to win the Preakness Stakes, from which geldings were barred from 1920 through 1934.

Ring Weekend was gelded following his 2-year-old campaign, in which he finished third twice in three starts.

“He was quite a tricky horse to be around. We also felt that perhaps he was showing more in the morning than he was in the afternoon. It gave us reason to think there was more there and perhaps getting his mind more focused would help,” trainer Graham Motion said. “Also, he had one testicle that was not properly descended. We had in the back of our minds that it could be bothering him.”

Ring Weekend made a good showing in his 2014 debut, finishing second in a Gulfstream turf race on Jan. 18, before breaking his maiden on dirt on Feb. 8.

“The first time we ran him he was still green, a little cheeky, perhaps, when he ran on the grass at Gulfstream that day. The second time he really put it together. That was a big transformation for him,” Motion said. “Even this morning, we were commenting on what a different horse he is in the morning and how he is a more professional workhorse. I think it’s an ongoing thing for him.”

Ring Weekend followed up his maiden victory with a triumph in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and a second-place finish in the Calder Derby. The Kentucky-bred gelding was knocked out of a trip to the Kentucky Derby by a fever that cost him a few days of training. He showed no ill effects from the fever last Saturday, when he breezed six furlongs in 1:13 1/5 before galloping out a mile in 1:41at Fair Hill.

Funny Cide was the last gelding to win the Preakness in 2003, following up his Kentucky Derby victory with a 9 ¾-length romp in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.


SOCIAL INCLUSION – Rontos Racing Stable Corp.’s Social Inclusion jogged once around the Pimlico racetrack under exercise rider Domingo Navarro Tuesday on the morning after turning in a sharp 47-second half-mile workout in preparation for Saturday’s Preakness.

“He is feeling good. He ate up everything,” trainer Manny Azpurua said. “I really think he is going to run a big race.”

Azpurua is greatly encouraged by the way Social Inclusion has trained over the Pimlico surface since arriving from Gulfstream Park on Thursday.

“After his work, he came back with his head up and looking around. Sometimes after a work, horses that are tired will drop their heads. He was looking around. It was like he did nothing,” said the 85-year-old native of Venezuela who has been training in South Florida since 1979.

The son of Pioneerof the Nile also pleased his trainer during his trip to the track Tuesday morning.

“My main concern is if there is rain for Saturday, but I believe he’d handle it,” Azpurua said. “I think the track will be nice either way. I like the racetrack here.”

Social Inclusion, who has worked on a wet track at Gulfstream, has excelled in three starts on fast tracks, winning his first two starts by a combined 17 ½ lengths before setting the pace  into deep stretch during a third-place finish in the Wood Memorial (G1) on April 5.

Having lost an automatic berth in the Kentucky Derby when nosed out of second in the Wood, Social Inclusion was on the outside looking in when entries were taken for the Run for the Roses. His connections opted not to enter him to be included in the also-eligible list. He was entered in the Sir Bear Stakes at Gulfstream on Derby Day, but he was scratched due to a bruise in his right front foot.

“I worked him the way he worked (Monday) because I lost the chance to run him (May 3),” Azpurua said. “I’m very happy with him.”

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