Posts Tagged ‘Keeneland’

A Day at Keeneland + Blue Grass Stakes 2013 Preview

We spent the day at Keeneland on Wednesday, April 10, and here are some of the highlights:

Francisco Torres

Jockey Francisco Torres

Hanging out with ‘Cisco Torres at Keeneland.

I became friends with jockey Francisco Torres when I worked as Track Handicapper/TV Host at Louisiana Downs in 2008-09. He moved his tack to the Midwest shortly after that and my current employer Horse Racing Nation relocated from Shreveport to Kentucky late last year.

‘Cisco had a few mounts on Wednesday and it was nice to see him again. He said that he will ride at Churchill Downs after the current Keeneland meet ends.

War Dancer

Wednesday’s feature race was a salty $60,000 allowance turf route for 3-year-olds and War Dancer mowed ‘em all down after blowing the break under Alan Garcia.

War Dancer

War Dancer storms home on Keeneland turf

Ken McPeek’s $220k son of War Front could end up in the graded turf ranks in the near future. Look for him in races like the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs and the Secretariat at Arlington Park this summer.

Positively ended up 2nd in his first start of the season and is worth following as well. He faced graded main track rivals on multiple occasions last year and dam has tossed four turf winners.

Blue Grass Stakes Draw

Blue Grass stakes draw

Fourteen horses will break from the starting gate in the $750,000, Grade I Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday, April 13. The field was drawn on Wednesday morning and Dynamic Sky will start from the inside post.

Morning line favorite Uncaptured drew well in post seven.

Balance the Books goes from post one in the Spiral to post eleven in the Blue Grass.

Rydilluc will try to overcome unlucky number thirteen and Fear the Kitten is marooned in the far outside post.

Blue Grass Video with Joe DePaolo

I have been working with Steve Bortstein for more than fifteen years. We were colleagues at Racing on the Net and I have contributed to his Fast Track radio show for many years. Joe DePaolo and I became Fast Track fixtures a few years ago and were joined by Molly Jo Rosen recently.

I shot a couple of Derby prep videos with Molly Jo earlier this year and I finally got to meet Joe DePaolo in person at Keeneland on Wednesday. We had a great time shooting the Blue Grass video below and hope to do more in the future. Thanks, Joe. It was a pleasure working with you.

Amazingly, I have yet to meet Steve in person. We have to make that happen!

If you would like to listen to the Fast Track with Steve Bortstein, you can tune in each Saturday & Sunday from 10am to 11am Eastern Time on the FoxSports 1340 New Mexico IHeart radio channel - http://www.iheart.com/#/live/5306/?autoplay=true

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.

Coolmore Lexington 2012 Preview: Holiday Promise on upswing

This is the final chance to earn Kentucky Derby 2012 graded cash and morning line favorite Castaway can make the gate on the first Saturday in May with a win in the Grade 3 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday.

Castaway

Castaway can make the Derby cut with a win in Saturday's G3 Lexington - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#7 Castaway (3-1) had his goose cooked on the front end in the G3 Sunland Derby. The Baffert trainee captured the slower division of the G3 Southwest before that and landed the place in his synthetic bow at Del Mar last summer. He won’t offer much value and could be in trouble if pressured early.

#6 Holiday Promise (6-1) had the light bulb turned on after adding blinkers Feb 20. He exits a fine place finish in the G3 Spiral and is working well at Keeneland. He has enough positional speed to keep the leaders in his sights and should offer a hint of value for Alvarado/Pletcher.

#11 Gold Megillah (10-1) finished 3rd in Turfway’s Rushaway last out and the top two came back to run well. The Graham Motion trainee needs to work out a trip from the outside post under Johnny V.

#10 News Pending (5-1) put his name on the map following a place finish behind Union Rags in the G2 Fountain of Youth. He never got involved in the paceless G1 Florida Derby but has some tactical ability and would not be the first turf horse to handle Polytrack.

#8 Hammers Terror (30-1) rates a longshot look. He ran well in both Polytrack starts last year and showed some ability at Fair Grounds this season. A tactical trip under Albarado is anticipated.

#1 Morgan’s Guerrilla (6-1) was last seen landing the place from post 12 in the G3 Illinois Derby on April 7. The early-pressing type should save all the ground under Leparoux and still has a shot to make the Derby field with a win.

#2 Summer Front (9-2) nabbed all three of his turf starts last year for Clement. The $475k purchase is firing Payson bullets for this and shows up in an ambitious spot off the shelf.

#3 Johannesbourbon (8-1) easily captured his Turfway sprint bow and the distant runner-up came back to tally. He stretches out and looms a pace factor at the very least in this salty spot.

#5 Golden Ticket (6-1) rallied for the place in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby. He raced evenly in both local sprints and will try to get involved late.

#4 Skyring (30-1) stumbled at the start, raced wide, and split the field at 45-1 in the Illinois Derby. He will probably stalk the pace under Court with a clean beginning.

#9 All Squared Away (50-1) made a wide move before flattening out in the Spiral. Wesley Ward has him now and he excels with new additions to his barn. This one could end up being a pace casualty.

The Plays:

$16 to win #6

$4 Exacta Box 6-11 ($8)

$4 Exacta 6-11/8-10 ($16)

Dullahan Runs Down Hansen in Blue Grass Stakes

Keeneland’s marquee Kentucky Derby 2012 prep was run on Saturday and Dullahan beat juvenile champ Hansen in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes.

G1 Blue Grass (4-14-12): 98 BSF (Dullahan)

Dullahan

Dullahan is 2-for-2 in Grade 1 races at Keeneland - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Hansen relaxed from an outer post in the G3 Gotham but went straight to the front from post 4 on Saturday, carving out solid fractions of :23.10, :46.64, and 1:11.32. Outsiders Politicallycorrect, Midnight Crooner, and Hero of Order gave futile chase.

The 2-year-old champion opened up a commanding 2-1/2 length lead in the stretch but Dullahan was slowly creeping up from 11th after a 1/4, 10th, after a 1/2, and 9th after six panels. The son of Even The Score made a sustained three furlong run under Kent Desormeaux and had dead aim on Hansen in the lane.

Dullahan had the momentum and swept past Hansen to win by 1-1/4 lengths for trainer Dale Romans. He completed his nine furlong trip in 1:47.94 and paid $8.40 as the second betting choice. Hansen was clearly second best, followed by longshot stablemate Gung Ho and late runner Holy Candy.

Howe Great was an even 5th for Graham Motion, followed by Tampa Bay Derby hero Prospective, Heavy Breathing, Midnight Crooner, Scatman, Ever So Lucky, Russian Greek, Politicallycorrect, and Hero of Order.

Dullahan seems as though he can run all day and continues to improve for Romans. He has two solid nine furlong preps under his belt this year and looms a late running threat on the first Saturday in May. Both of his career wins occurred in Grade 1 races at Keeneland and his 0-for-3 conventional dirt record under the Twin Spires does not seem to bode well for his Kentucky Derby chances.

Hansen dropped two of his three Derby preps this year after going 3-f0r-3 as a juvenile. He surprisingly seemed willing to relax a bit in the G3 Gotham but was back to aggressive early tactics in Lexington on Saturday. The Derby pace could be on the quick side with the likes of Bodemeister, Hansen, I’ll Have Another, Secret Circle, and Take Charge Indy mixing it up early.

Blue Grass Stakes Grade: B (85 out of 100)

Blue Grass Stakes 2012 Preview: Hansen’s final Derby prep

The Keeneland sophomores try to make their mark on the road to Kentucky Derby 2012 in Saturday’s Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes and juvenile champ Hansen is the strong 6-5 morning line choice.

Pace Scenario:

Early Speed- Hansen, Hero of Order, Scatman

Pressers – Heavy Breathing, Politicallycorrect, Midnight Crooner, Howe Great, Ever So Lucky

Closers – Gung Ho, Prospective, Russian Greek, Dullahan, Holy Candy

Analysis:

#9 Holy Candy (30-1) could be poised to surprise this field. He scratched out of the SA Derby in favor of this and Candy Ride is a fine synthetic sire. He has done the bulk of his training on Cushion Track and ran well in his Hollywood Park synthetic sprint bow last fall. The promising Sadler trainee looked great in March 23 graduation run and has faced some decent sorts in SoCal (Empire Way, Castaway, Stirred Up). Did you know that Drew Brees might have a Kentucky Derby horse?

#3 Prospective (10-1) is 2-f0r-2 on Polytrack (Woodbine) and exits a good looking tally in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby (blinkers on). The improving sort owns a pair of graded route wins and should get pace to chase.

#6 Dullahan (6-1) won the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last year and fired a strong local bullet for this April 8. He has had a few setbacks this year (fever, minor splint injury) but ran well in the grassy G3 Palm Beach and appears to be back on track.

#4 Hansen (6-5) is an obvious prominent throughout threat but he meets other speed and gets a stamina test at low odds. He is 2-for-2 on Polytrack (Turfway Park) but My Adonis, the horse he beat in his last pair, came back to disappoint in the G1 Wood Memorial last weekend. I woulf not be shocked if he won or finished up the track.

The Plays:

$5 Exacta Box 3-6-9 ($30), $10 to win #9

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