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Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: California Code

Kentucky Derby 2014 contender California Chrome put together a complete performance in the Grade II San Felipe and has now won three straight in romping fashion at Santa Anita. The wire job winner earned a lofty 107 BSF and the CA-bred might be the best of the sophomore speed horses. He might go to the SA Derby next. There is talk about training up to the first Saturday in May.

California Chrome

California Chrome joins the list after a sharp wire job win in the San Felipe – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Midnight Hawk did not have the best break and was forced to chase California Chrome from the outset. He was run into the ground but never gave up and finished well clear of the rest. He probably has distance limitations but I want to see what he can do when he puts it all together mentally and physically.

Kristo rallied to finish a non-threatening 3rd in the San Felipe, his first start since landing the place in the Sham Stakes on Jan. 11, and only his second start in more than four months. He tried rating tactics on Saturday and it was a schooling experience at the very least. He is earning Derby points but needs to step up his game and fast.

Schoolofhardrocks was a well-beaten 4th in the San Felipe. He has talent but was thrown to the wolves off a long layoff in his second lifetime start. I would like to see him work his way through the allowance ranks and return to graded company later this year.

Another Derby prep…another wire job winner. Add Ring Weekend to the speed list after going all the way in the Tampa Bay Derby for Graham Motion. The improving, gelded son of Tapit has won two straight and earned a 94 BSF for his victory on Saturday. Sam Davis hero Vinceremos was 2nd best for Todd Pletcher, with Surfing U S A (Todd Pletcher) and Conquest Titan (Mark Casse) rounding out the top four.

Honor Code made his much anticipated two turn allowance return at the Gulf on March 12 but Social Inclusion stole his thunder in the compact field.

Speed rules in 8.5f races at Gulfstream and Social Inclusion had no problem making an easy lead from the rail. He ran fast throughout, setting a new track record and earning a 111 BSF. The promising son of Pioneerof The Nile could end up in the Florida Derby and would definitely impact the pace in that affair. He was unraced as a juvenile but is quickly making up for lost time with back-to-back facile wins. He does not have the seasoning to handle ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May and is yet another in a long line of quality speed horses in the sophomore division.

It was an inconclusive effort for Honor Code but he was lucky to participate in a legitimately run two turn race with only five entrants. This race had no Derby points attached and was an obvious stepping stone to much bigger things. The talented late runner was forced to chase the pace on Wednesday and was never going to catch the runaway winner. He was miles best of the rest and figures to move way up in his final Derby prep. If you like this one, do not abandon ship. Shug knows what it takes to win the Derby and understands that an 8.5f allowance race in mid-March is a means to an end.

Kendall’s Boy worked for the first time since flopping in the Southwest Stakes. He went 4f in :48 (4/73) at Fair Grounds on March 9.

Misconnect, an original “elite eleven” member dropped due to inactivity, is back on the worktab. He went an easy 3f in :38.60 (3/3) at Crupi’s New Castle Farm on March 14. He obviously won’t join the Triple Crown chase but is worth following later this year.

Add another to the ever growing IR. First it was Shared Belief (foot injury), followed by Indianapolis (cough), Havana (quarter crack), and Bayern (foot bruise). Last Saturday, Top Billing came out of a workout with a cracked cannon bone in his right front and is off the Triple Crown trail.

Each week that goes by, we add more potential quality speed to the first Saturday in May. Wildcat Red & General A Rod, Samraat, Uncle Sigh, and In Trouble, plus Albano, California Chrome, Midnight Hawk, Tapiture, Ring Weekend, Social Inclusion, and a handful of others like to run on or very near the lead…something has to give!

This week’s big Derby prep is the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes from Oaklawn Park, which features a rematch of 1-2 Southwest finishers Tapiture and Strong Mandate.

Listen to my analysis of the San Felipe Stakes on the Fast Track radio show Saturday morning (10am ET).

Click on the names of each horse below (Top 5) to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

1. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat) Honor Code horse silks

Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Dell Ridge Farm

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Shug’s late runner remains on top after an inconclusive distant place finish in his allowance return. Last year’s Remsen hero owns a strong late punch and I want to see what he can do when he sits back and makes a run in the graded ranks next time.

2. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister) Strong Mandate silks

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.60 (10/17) at Oaklawn Park on March 6.

Derby Points (6)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Saratoga bow. He smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out and cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on Sept. 2. He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler and shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, losing nothing in defeat in the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17.

3. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Latest Workout: 4f in 49.45 (34/73) at Palm Meadows on March 8. “It was just what we ordered and wanted to see,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He looked great doing it, and we’re on course for the race. The reason we backed up and went slower is because we can’t go 59 and four every week or there will be not much left of him. We were real happy with the work. He’s doing great.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed to Honor Code in the slow early/fast late Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He is training up to the Florida Derby (March 29). A majority interest in Cairo Prince was sold to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley operation. He will remain with McLaughlin but run in the colors of Godolphin Stable.

4. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess) Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.40 (2/57) at Santa Anita on March 14.

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.

5. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio) Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.20 (12/27) at Oaklawn Park on March 10.

Derby Points (22)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. The Rebel is next on his docket.

6. CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit – Love the Chase, by Not for Love) california chrome silks

Trainer:  Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin

Derby Points (50)

Comments: 5-for-9 lifetime including three straight romps at Santa Anita. The overachieving CA-bred ran them off their feet in the G2 San Felipe (107 BSF) and will either run in the SA Derby or train up to the Kentucky Derby. He is a great Cinderella story and will try to overcome his modest breeding on May 3.   

7. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power) Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Derby Points (32)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph (blinkers off). He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes and was clearly second best in the San Felipe. He continues to rack up Derby points but still needs to develop mentally.

8. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory) Gold Hawk silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01 (3/21) at Fair Grounds on March 10

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished an okay 3rd in the Lecomte and basically ran the same race (even 5th of 14) in the Risen Star on Feb. 22. He seems to be losing focus and I would like to see him add blinkers for the LA Derby.

9. GALA AWARD (Bernardini – Wilshew, by Carson City) Gala Award silks

Trainer:  Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier

Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will likely try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

10. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote) Kristo silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts and stretched out at Santa Anita and romped by almost 7-lengths on Oct. 31. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best, and ended up a distant 3rd (California Chrome & Midnight Hawk 1-2) in the San Felipe.

11. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch) bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.80 (18/65) at Santa Anita on March 3.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe Stakes. Baffert said he is considering both the Santa Anita Derby and the Arkansas Derby for his final Derby prep.

Pedigree Spotlight Revisited: Honor Code

Honor Code’s sire A.P. Indy won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic. As a sire, he was responsible for well over 100 stakes winners.

A.P. Indy is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, out of Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. She was also the dam of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

honor code pedigree

Honor Code’s dam Serena’s Cat (Storm Cat – Serena’s Tune, by Mr. Prospector) went 4-for-12 in 2005-07 and won the Klassy Briefcase Stakes at Monmouth in ’07. She is also the dam of Grade II turf winner Noble Tune.

Grade I winner Storm Cat (Storm Bird – Terlinga, by Secretariat) captured 4 of 8 lifetime starts and was 2nd in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at the Big A. The legendary stallion stood for 20 years and sired more than 100 graded stakes winners. He died in 2013 at age 30 and is buried at Overbrook Farm.

Storm Cat’s sire Storm Bird (Northern Dancer) was a European champion. He sired 63 stakes winners (Summer Squall, Bluebird) before his death in 2004 at age 26.

Serena’s Tune (Mr. Prospector – Serena’s Song, by Rahy), foaled in 1998, was a stakes winner at age 3 and 4. The late mare was a half-sister to graded and/or group winners Grand Reward, Harlington, and Sophisticat.

Mr. Prospector (by Raise a Native) won 7 of 14 starts including the Whirlaway and Gravesend Handicaps in 1974.

Legendary “Sire of sires” Mr. Prospector is one of the most influential horses in the history of thoroughbred racing, siring 181 stakes winners (47 Grade 1 or Group I winners) and 16 champions.

Hall of Famer Serena’s Song (Rahy – Imagining, by Northfields) won 13 Grade I races and was Champion U.S. 3YO Filly in 1995.

Honor Code ran three quality races during his productive juvenile campaign including a graded win at nine panels. He shook off the rust in his allowance comeback and should be ready to resume graded success in his final Derby prep. He should continue to develop for patient trainer Shug McGaughey and ten furlongs should be well within reach on the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: New York, New York

Withers 1-2 finishers Samraat and Uncle Sigh pulled the same trick in the Gotham Stakes and the dynamic NY-bred duo are the best of the Big Apple Kentucky Derby 2014 hopefuls.

Samraat

Samraat wins a Gotham thriller – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Samraat is now undefeated in five starts. Look for him to join Uncle Sigh and In Trouble in the Wood Memorial. The winning Gotham BSF came back a rock solid 96 and the top three all have some quality to them but the Wood is dying to be won by an off the pace shipper like Honor Code.

Noble Cornerstone followed up a Sam Davis flop with another poor effort in the Gotham. He has not progressed from age 2 to 3 and drops off the bottom of the list.

Gala Award has emerged as an intriguing Derby prospect for Todd Pletcher. He exits back-to-back turf route wins including the G3 Palm Beach and could end up contesting the G1 Blue Grass Stakes next. He owns fine tactical speed and his promising dirt pedigree is featured below.

Injuries, illness, and missed training, oh my! First it was Shared Belief (foot injury), followed by Indianapolis (cough). Last week, Havana (quarter crack) missed the Swale Stakes. Now, Bayern (foot bruise) is out of the San Felipe. Eight weeks and counting – Time is rapidly running out to make the Derby, and Havana and Bayern drop to the bottom of the list and are in serious danger of falling off the radar screen.

Schoolofhardrocks worked 5f in 1:00.20 (14/69) at Santa Anita on March 4. An original “exceptional eleven” member dropped due to inactivity, he is finally set to return in Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes. It is a tough test but he is training well and has a ton of raw ability.

Each week that goes by, we add more potential quality speed to the first Saturday in May. Wildcat Red & General A Rod, Samraat, Uncle Sigh, and In Trouble, plus Albano, Midnight Hawk, Tapiture, and a handful of others like to run on or very near the lead…something has to give!

Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com.

Listen to my analysis of the San Felipe Stakes on the Fast Track radio show Saturday morning (10am ET).

Click on the names of each horse below (Top 5) to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

1. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat) Honor Code horse silks

Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Dell Ridge Farm

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.18 (6/43) at Gulfstream Park on March 2. “So far everything looks good, McGaughey said from his South Florida base. “He worked real good the other day and we’ll work him again on Sunday.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He missed some training time due to bruising up his back ankles and returned to the work tab Feb. 12. He is entered in an Allowance event (8.5f, race 8) at Gulfstream Park on March 12, and if all goes well, he will wrap up his Derby prep season in the Wood Memorial.

2. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)Strong Mandate silks

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.60 (10/17) at Oaklawn Park on March 6.

Derby Points (6)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Saratoga bow. He smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out and cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on Sept. 2. He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler and shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, losing nothing in defeat in the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17.

3. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 59.95 (1/35) at Palm Meadows on March 1. “He worked very well,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “It was a little faster than we wanted this far out, but yet we wanted a decent work. It was a great work. He worked excellent and everything went well. We were all very happy, and we’ll probably not go in company next week because we’re looking for a 1:01 and change. But, he worked great.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He is training up to the Florida Derby (March 29). A majority interest in Cairo Prince was sold to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley operation. He will remain with McLaughlin but run in the colors of Godolphin Stable.

4. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess)Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.20 (23/52) at Santa Anita on March 6.

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.

5. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power)Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.40 (45/61) at Santa Anita on March 4.

Derby Points (12)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mind was wondering in the lane. He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. He has raw talent but still needs to develop mentally. Saturday’s San Felipe is his next engagement.

6. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)Kristo silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:13.40 (4/16) at Santa Anita on March 3.

Derby Points (4)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts as the beaten favorite at Del Mar & Santa Anita. He stretched out at the Great Race Place on 10-31 and romped by almost 7-lengths after battling on the pace under Rafael Bejarano. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best. Joel Rosario will ride in the San Felipe.

7. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio)Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (2/48) at Oaklawn Park on March 2.

Derby Points (22)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. The Rebel is next on his docket.

8. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)Gold Hawk silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished an okay 3rd in the Lecomte and basically ran the same race (even 5th of 14) in the Risen Star on Feb. 22. He seems to be losing focus and I would like to see him add blinkers for the LA Derby.

9. GALA AWARD (Bernardini – Wilshew, by Carson City) Gala Award silks

Trainer:  Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier

Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

10. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch)bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.80 (18/65) at Santa Anita on March 3.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe Stakes.

11. HAVANA (Dunkirk – Missy Turtle, by Kyle’s Our Man) Havana Silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Taber, Magnier, and Smith

Derby Points (14)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.90 (3/14) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 23.

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut and earned a 102 BSF and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) second time out. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. A quarter crack caused him to defect from the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 1.

Pedigree Spotlight: Gala Award

Gala Award’s sire Bernardini raced just one season but he certainly made a splash in 2006. In his 3rd career start, he won the G3 Withers and followed that up by capturing the G1 Preakness, G2 Jim Dandy, G1 Travers, and G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. He finished his career with a runner-up effort behind Invasor in the G1 BC Classic.

As a sire, Bernardini is represented by the likes of G1 Travers and G1 Cigar Mile winner Stay Thirsty, G1 Woodward Stakes and G1 Cigar Mile hero To Honor and Serve, and G1 Travers and G1 Woodward winner Alpha.

Gala Award pedigree

Bernardini’s influential sire A.P. Indy won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic and has sired more than 135 stakes winners.

A.P. Indy is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, out of Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. She was also the dam of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

Bernardini’s mother Cara Rafaela (by Quiet American) was a classy runner for D Wayne Lukas in 1995-96. She won the G2 Alcibiades and G1 Hollywood Starlet and placed in such prestigious races as the G1 Las Virgenes (2nd), G1 SA Oaks (2nd), G1 Ashland (2nd), G1 Kentucky Oaks (3rd), G2 Black-Eyed Susan (2nd), and G1 Mother Goose (3rd). Cara Rafaela is out of the Spectacular Bid mare Oil Fable.

Cara Rafaela’s father Quiet American has sired numerous graded winners including 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero Real Quiet.

Gala Award’s dam Wilshewed (Carson City – So Cozy, by Lyphard) produced the likes of G1 Hollywood Futurity and G2 Norfolk winner Stormello, and G2 Del Mar Derby hero My Best Brother.

The speedy Carson City won multiple graded sprints including the G2 Sapling and G2 Fall Highweight. He sired may stakes winners including G2 Illinois Derby winner Pollard’s Vision.

So Cozy won the Priscilla Stakes at Suffolk Downs in 1982, and Northern Dancer’s son Lyphard won multiple overseas grass races in 1971-72 and produced 115 stakes winners including Dancing Brave, Jolypha, and Manila.

Gala Award is already proven at nine furlongs. He owns a promising dirt route pedigree and could easily get ten furlongs if he handles conventional dirt.

WinStar Farm Visit (Part III): Behind the Scenes

Now that the 2013 Breeders’ Cup is in the books, it is time to finish up my WinStar Farm blog series. In Part I, I took a look at the stallions, and Part II was all about the Training Barn. In this edition, I will take a behind the scenes look at the WinStar training and rehab center.

WinStar FarmWinStar Farm has a state of the art training track and rehab center, and I am looking forward to seeing the Training Barn residents compete this winter and beyond.

outdoor poolWinStar offers much more than a training track for equine residents. If your horse needs some swimming therapy, try the large outdoor pool (right), or the indoor aqua tread (below right).

Does your horse need oxygen? No problem. Check out the hyperbaric chamber (below left).

hyperbaric chamberEstablishes horses like Normandy Invasion and Revolutionary should both be revitalized and full of energy when they return to the racing wars in the near future. I hope to see them both competing at a very high level in Florida this winter.

In the weeks and months to come, I will follow the progress of young, lightly raced, and unraced horses currently residing at WinStar Farm, including but not limited to Amazing Shoes (Empire Maker – Isabell’s Shoes, by King of Kings), Clark Kent (Unbridled’s Song – Ideal Image, by Hennessy), Flirtatious (Hard Spun – Christina’s World, by Unbridled’s Song), Holy Soldier (Colonel John – Dance Swiftly, by Danzig), Queenie’s Song (Unbridled’s Song – Queen of Money, by Corporate Report), Race Day (Tapit – Rebalite, by More Than Ready), Sweet Dreamer (Tiznow – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer), and The Trunk Monkey (Old Fashioned – Susquehanna River, by Trippi).

aqua treadThese refreshed horses and others could end up offering decent value when they make it to the track. Stay tuned!

Thank you to WinStar for allowing us to visit and for taking us behind the scenes. If you would like to learn more about the WinStar StableMates program, check out their website.

If you would like to see more of Stacy’s WinStar and other horse racing pictures, please visit her Kentucky horse racing photos page, The Runaway Horse.

WinStar Farm Visit (Part II): The Training Barn

We recently visited WinStar Farm in Versailles, KY. This is my second in a 3-part blog series. In this edition, I will look at the Training Barn.

In addition to housing top class stallions, WinStar has a great training center and rehab facility.

In Part 1 of this blog series, I talked about seeing my losing Derby selections Colonel John and Pioneerof The Nile in the Stallion Barn. After visiting the studs, we hopped over to the Training Barn, and the first horse I see is my losing Kentucky Derby 2013 pick Revolutionary. C’mon WinStar, you’re torturing me!

Revolutionary

Jarrod & Revolutionary discuss the Derby

Revolutionary actually ran a fine race to land the show in the Derby. He skipped the Preakness and appeared loaded for bear in the Belmont Stakes but finished a flat 5th and has been at WinStar since.  He has a ton of raw ability and could have a big 4-year-old campaign for Todd Pletcher.

Normandy Invasion

Normandy Invasion- Photos by Stacy Edwards

Another Kentucky Derby 2013 participant, Normandy Invasion, is also rehabbing at WinStar. He checked in right behind Revolutionary on the first Saturday in May and has not raced since.  He will likely rejoin the Chad Brown barn in Florida this winter.

The Training Barn was also full of promising juveniles, including Holy Soldier (Colonel John – Dance Swiftly, by Danzig), Race Day (Tapit – Rebalite, by More Than Ready), and The Trunk Monkey (Old Fashioned – Susquehanna River, by Trippi).

WinStar Farm

Unraced 2-year-old filly Sweet Dreamer (Tiznow – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer) is worth following. She is bred to be a good one.

Graham Motion has Queenie’s Song (Unbridled’s Song – Queen of Money, by Corporate Report) at WinStar. The promising juvenile filly graduated in her Aug. 21 Presque Isle debut and finished 2nd in a Keeneland allowance race Oct. 9.

In the coming weeks and months, I will be following the progress of the horses I saw at the WinStar Training Barn right here on the blog. – stay tuned!

Thank you to WinStar for allowing us to visit and for taking us behind the scenes. If you would like to learn more about the WinStar StableMates program, check out their website.

If you would like to see more of Stacy’s WinStar photos, please visit her Kentucky horse racing photos page, The Runaway Horse.

In Part III of this series, I will take a behind the scenes look at the WinStar training and rehab center.

WinStar Farm Visit (Part I): Dullahan and the Studs

We recently visited WinStar Farm in Versailles, KY. This is my first in a 3-part blog series. In this edition, I will look at the WinStar stallions.

Dullahan

RIP Dullahan

Part II takes a look at the horses in the Training Barn. In Part III, I will take a behind the scenes look at WinStar.

Before discussing the sires, I have to mention Dullahan.

Unfortunately, we were one of the last people to see Dullahan at WinStar. We saw him last Wednesday and were shocked to hear that he had to be put down due to colic less than four days later.

I respect all of these amazing athletes, even when they cost me money. I needed Take charge Indy (also at WinStar) to finish 4th to cash my 2011 BC Juvenile superfecta, but along came Dullahan to nip me on the wire.

I had no idea that Dullahan was rehabbing at WinStar and was pleasantly surprised to see him last week. He was a magnificent looking animal and will be missed.

Colonel john

Photos by Stacy Edwards

The WinStar stallions read like a who’s who of my losing Derby selections, beginning with Colonel John. Don’t worry big guy, you redeemed yourself in the Travers!

Colonel John is off to a fast start at stud. He could run on anything and the versatile sort seems to be passing that valuable trait to his offspring.

Oh, look who’s right across from Colonel John. It’s my Kentucky Derby 2008 losing pick Pioneerof The Nile. The latter is a feisty one and reportedly tried to bite someone recently. Don’t turn your back on this one! He seemed a bit keyed up on Wednesday and is ready for the upcoming breeding season.

Pioneerof The Nile was dusted by one of the most unlikely Derby winners of all time, Mine That Bird. Earlier this year, it was fun to see Mine That Bird frolic with energetic miniature horse Winston at the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs.

Distorted Humor

Distorted Humor

Distorted Humor put WinStar on the map,  siring the likes of Drosselmeyer, Funny Cide, and Flower Alley.

Distorted Humor laid the foundation and paved the way for 2-time Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Tiznow, who might be the most popular stallion on the magnificent grounds.  Colonel John’s papa is also responsible for Well Armed, Tizway, and fellow WinStar stud Gemologist.

Tiznow

Tiznow

Tiznow beat me in the 2001 BC Classic. I was at Belmont Park that day, and the tragic memories of 911 were fresh in everyone’s mind. In a surreal world, snipers were perched on the roof, and the crowd got lost in the moment when Tiznow turned back Sakhee to win one for America.

Other stallions at WinStar that we got to spend some time with include Bellamy Road, Bodemeister, Gemologist, Hold Me Back, Kodiak Kowboy, Maimonides, Speightstown, Spring at Last, Street Hero, Super Saver, and U.S. Ranger.

We were told that Bodemeister does not care about his appearance – typical dude! Maimondes is very sweet and and owns an outstanding pedigree but is the forgotten sire standing for a mere $2,500.

Thank you to WinStar for allowing us to visit and for taking us behind the scenes. If you would like to learn more about the WinStar StableMates program, check out their website.

If you would like to see more of Stacy’s WinStar photos, please visit her Kentucky horse racing photos page, The Runaway Horse.

Del Mar 2013 Preview Video

The 2013 Del Mar thoroughbred season gets underway on Wednesday, July 17. In the video below, I look back at the 2012 leading riders, trainers, and the track profile. I also take a look at races and horses to watch for 2013.

As always, I will be posting daily free Del Mar Pick 6 selections and tickets:

For daily insight on Del Mar’s Pick 6 races, check out Pick 6blog.HorseRacingNation. com
for free selections and tickets.

Farm Hopping: Hello, Union Rags!

by Jarrod Horak

Earlier this week, I ventured to Lexington, Kentucky with Candice Curtis and Stacy Edwards to visit with some of our favorite equine stars.

First stop was Lane’s End Farm. We spent some quality time with the likes of After Market, Candy Ride, City Zip, Curlin, Discreetly Mine, English Channel, The Factor, Lemon Drop Kid, Pleasantly Perfect, Quality Road, Smart Strike, and Union Rags.

Seeing these equine legends brought back some handicapping memories. I was in the early stages of my stint with Racing On The Net when Lemon Drop Kid captured the Belmont Stakes, and he was one of my first significant online play of the day winners.

I made my first trek to Santa Anita Park for the 2003 Breeders’ Cup and Pleasantly Perfect won the Classic that year.

Jarrod and rags 2

Fast forward to 2012 and Union Rags was my Derby horse. He had a less than ideal trip that day but redeemed himself in the Belmont Stakes. He retired shortly after the Test of Champions and I relocated to Kentucky just in time to visit the regal looking son of Dixie Union. He was taking a nap when we first arrived but curiosity got the best of him and he came over to see what we were up to. I rubbed his nose a few times and the gentle giant went back to sleep in the blink of an eye.

Some delicious refreshments were offered including chili and quiche. Real men don’t eat quiche but I had some anyway before out next stop — Ashford Stud.

Coolmore America is an impressive operation with an imposing group of young stallions including Cape Blanco, Dunkirk, Hansen, Lookin At Lucky, Stay Thirsty, and Uncle Mo. It was also a pleasure to see veteran sires Fusaichi Pegasus, Giant’s Causeway, Tale of the Cat, and Thunder Gulch.

Candice got her picture taken with her early racing idol Thunder Gulch, and for Stacy it was all about Stay Thirsty.

Hansen horse

Hansen stood out with his soft, light coat. He seemed a bit edgy at first but calmed down nicely once he got outside and allowed us to get up close and personal. Our picture perfect day was not over yet, because we were only a hop, skip, and a jump from Three Chimneys.

Stacy told me to wear my Big Brown hat since she knew we would be visiting the 2008 Derby winner, but before that I had to get a glimpse of my 2001 Derby horse, Point Given.

Point Given horse

I was all over Point Given before, during, and after the 2001 Triple Crown trail, and I even traveled to Big Sandy to watch him romp in the Belmont Stakes. He seemed unaware that I was there but just as I was about to walk away he pranced over and allowed me to share a moment with him. To his right was young stallion Caleb’s Posse. Brilliant Speed was just down the road and Ice Box was in the middle of his meet and greet with the fans.

We journeyed outside and as we walked down the path, a horse handler looked at my hat and said “I know who you want to see.” Actually, Colonel John was my Derby horse that year, but I played along.

Big Brown horse

Big Brown is a magnificent looking bay son of Boundary, standing at 16.1 hands, and he seems to know that he is a Derby winner.

We proceeded to walk a bit further down the path and were greeted by Marketing and Communications Director Jen Roytz. She was very gracious and asked us if we would like to see any horses.

She showed us Exchange Rate, Red Giant, and War Chant, and walked us to the next viewing area to visit with I’ll Have Another’s proud papa Flower Alley, who seemed to set a world record for chowing down his food. Jen was very excited about showing off low profile sire Lewis Michael, and we were more than happy to the share our day with the handsome son of Rahy.

Before we left Three Chimneys, we had a lengthy conversation with a veteran bloodstock consultant and helped ourselves to some food offered during the open house. Chili was on the menu again, and although it was tasty, I have to give the cook-off award to Lane’s End.

Wise Dan

We hopped in the car and headed to our final destination, Keeneland. It was the first day of the January sale but before hitting the pavilion, we toured the grounds, snapped some more photos, and reminisced about last year’s stakes winners through the eyes of the lawn jockeys.

As for the sale, Trip for A. J. (hip 241) went for $310k, and we left after Big Tiz (hip 299) brought down the gavel at a cool $600k.

This was our first of many planned Kentucky farm visits. 2013 is off to a wonderful start and that spring aroma in the not too distant future can only mean one thing – live racing at Keeneland is just around the corner!

If you would like to view more of our farm adventure pictures, please visit Stacy’s Kentucky Horse Racing Photos page.

Beyond the Crown – Hansen rights his ship

Juvenile champion Hansen rebounded from a 9th place finish in the Kentucky Derby to trounce four overmatched rivals in the G3 Iowa Derby (97 BSF) on June 30. The Michael Maker trainee has his confidence back and will try to make it two straight in the G2 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer on August 3.

Hansen

Hansen got back on the beam at Prairie Meadows – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Teeth of the Dog, stablemate of Union Rags, gamely captured the G2 Dwyer at Belmont Park on June 30. The Michael Matz trainee earned a 92 BSF and will take on Hansen in West Virginia next.

In other 3-year-old stakes action, Bob Baffert sent out Blueskiesnrainbows in the G2 Swaps and he controlled the tempo and kept on finding on the fourth of July. G3 Affirmed winner Nonios rallied for the place and Baffert runner Liaison finished 3rd. The winner earned a 102 BSF.

My Adonis threw his hat into the Haskell following a game ½ length score over Macho Macho in Monmouth’s Long Branch Stakes on July 8.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Active 3-Year-olds

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – My longtime top ranked sophomore goes next in the G1 Haskell at Monmouth Park on Sunday, July 29. The Belmont Stakes hero breezed 5f in 1:00.60 (1/7) at Fair Hill on July 6.

Bodemeister

Bodemeister worked five panels on July 8 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

2. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – The Derby-Preakness bridesmaid was tuckered out after his 3rd race in 5-weeks at Pimlico. His early speed is especially dangerous up to nine panels and he could prove an elusive target in the Haskell. Worked 5f in 1:01 (11/31) at Santa Anita on 7-8.

3. Alpha (Bernardini) – Leg infection after the Wood Memorial probably contributed to his 12th place Derby effort. He spiked a fever and missed the Belmont Stakes. He is currently stabled at Saratoga and fired a 4f bullet in :47.33 (1/16) on July 7.

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – His perfect record went down the tubes in the Derby but he came out of that with a foot bruise. He is back in Pletcher’s barn with an eye on the Travers. Breezed 5f in 1:04.88 (8/10) at Saratoga (dirt training) on 7-2.

5. Hansen (Tapit) – Juvenile champion got back on the beam in facile G3 Iowa Derby victory. The G2 West Virginia Derby on 8-4 is up next, followed by the Travers.

6. Paynter (Awesome Again) – Gave Union Rags a run for his money in the Test of Champions. Baffert’s lightly raced colt should continue to develop. He zipped 5f in :58.60 (1/19) on July 4 and could resurface in Saratoga’s Jim Dandy on July 28.

7. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Kentucky Derby show finisher flopped in the Belmont. He loves Keeneland’s Polytrack and is a competent turf performer as well. Look for him to resurface in the Haskell. Breezed 5f in 1:01 (2/11) at Churchill Downs on 7-7.

8. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Late bloomer ran into the likes of Union Rags in Florida earlier this year. He exits back-to-back sharp Churchill wins and made the grade in the Matt Winn on June 16.

9. Went The Day Well (Proud Citizen) – G3 Spiral Stakes hero finished a troubled 4th in the Derby. My Preakness top flopped in the second jewel and seemingly had nothing left to offer after his aforementioned bad trip two weeks earlier. Breezed 4f in :48.40 (1/14) at Fair Hill on 6-23 and 5f in 1:01.20 (4/16) on 6-30.

10. Holy Candy (Candy Ride) – Expecting big things from Sadler’s late developing colt. He exits a needed show finish in the G3 Affirmed and goes next in the Oceanside at Del Mar on July 18. Worked 6f in 1:13.80 (2/7) at Hollywood Park on 7-5.

Queen’s Plate 2012 Preview – Golden Ridge ready to rumble

Sunday’s 153rd edition of the $1 million Queen’s Plate features a 14-horse field and morning line favorite Strait of Dover shoots for a four-bagger.

Queen's Plate 2012

#4 Strait of Dover (3-1) stretched out successfully in a facile Marine tally May 12 and should be on or near tepid splits from the outset. Justin Stein rides him well and he clearly enjoys the Woodbine surface. His sire English Channel was a long distance turf specialist so ten furlongs could be within his grasp.

#7 Golden Ridge (6-1) is my value top. The lightly raced, improving colt is bred all over to adore this longer journey and has enough positional speed to keep the leaders in his sights.

#8 Ultimate Destiny (20-1) has Pleasant Tap on the bottom of his pedigree and should continue to improve with added distance and experience. His last two numbers were his best yet and a tactical trip at square odds is anticipated.

#1 River Rush (4-1) is on the upswing and packs a nice late kick. He gets his stamina from dam sire Lemon Drop Kid and will try to get involved late.

#14 Irish Mission (10-1) lost her first six races but the rapidly improving sort exits back-to-back local wins including the Woodbine Oaks. She looms a pace player at the very least and can compete here with another forward move. Her late pace numbers are on the low side so she could prove vulnerable in the lane.

#10 Dixie Strike (8-1) was a hot commodity in the Woodbine Oaks but ended up a disappointing 5th that day. She smartly captured the G3 Selene on May 13 and might be best up to a mile and a sixteenth. She adds blinkers for this.

#5 Classic Bryce (12-1) hit the board in his last three local stakes route attempts and can contend for a minor award in this spot.

#6 Wilcox (20-1) has only raced twice and owns a nice pedigree (Giant’s Causeway-Seeking the Gold). He graduated from post 14 on the turf here last out and moves back to synthetic for trainer Josie Carroll.

Trainer Roger Attfield seeks his 9th Queen’s Plate win with #9 Colleen’s Sailor (15-1). The sophomore son of Northern Afleet exits a local nine furlong entry level tally but needs to earn better numbers to compete here.

#3 Macho Whiskey (15-1) finished 5th and last in his lone local route attempt May 27 but was only beaten a length and a half. He ran well in a pair of sprints before that and figures to push the pace under Emma-Jayne Wilson.

#12 Big Creek (10-1) will take some action due to connections (Dominguez-Pletcher). He chased and weakened to 4th in the Plate Trial, and the son of Indian Charlie might run out of gas at ten furlongs.

#2 Peyton (20-1) finished 5th in the Plate Trial last time. He was 5th in his other stakes try as well and might need easier company and less ground. Julien Leparoux rides.

Late running sprinter #11 Making Amends (20-1) flattened out in the nine panel Plate Trial and does not figure to fare much better in this salty spot.

#13 Washington Dash (50-1) is still a maiden after three tries. He ran better over the Arlington weeds June 10 but figures to fail this class test.

The Plays:

$20 to win #7

$2 to win #8

$2 Exacta 7/1-4-8 ($6)

$2 Exacta 1-4-8/7 ($6)

$1 Trifecta Key 1-4-7/1-4-7/8 ($6)

Belmont Stakes 2012 Bloodlines: Ravelo’s Boy

Which horse has the best pedigree to handle twelve furlongs in the final leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday, June 9 at Belmont Park? My Belmont Stakes alphabetical list continues with Ravelo’s Boy.

Belmont Stakes logo
Ravelo’s Boy’s sire Lawyer Ron (by Langfuhr) won 12 of 26 races from 2005-07. He was on the Triple Crown trail in ’06, winning such races as the G3 Risen Star, G3 Rebel, and G2 Arkansas Derby before finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby. In ’07, he captured the G2 Oaklawn Handicap, G1 Whitney, and G1 Woodward, and earned more than $2.7 million on the racetrack. Unfortunately, he died from colic surgery complications in 2009 at age six. He sophomore son Drill is a multiple graded winner.

Lawyer Ron’s sire Langfuhr (by Danzig) went 9-for-23 from 1995-97 and won multiple stakes races including the G1 Vosburgh, G1 Carter, and G1 Met Mile. He sired multiple stakes winners including Wando, Mobil, and Euroears.

Read the rest of this post at HorseRacingNation.com.

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