Posts Tagged ‘Stay Thirsty’

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.

Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders

This is my first in a series of blogs devoted to Kentucky Derby 2013 contenders. Once again I am getting an early start in September and there will be many twists and turns in the months ahead.

Kentucky Derby 2013

Eight of the last twelve Kentucky Derby winners graduated by October 4 including six of the last seven. Kentucky Derby 2012 hero I’ll Have Another captured his career debut at Hollywood Park on July 3 of his juvenile season.

My list below is based on a combination of promise shown and distance breeding. Stay Thirsty occupied the top spot at this stage two years ago and Alpha was my early top dog for Derby 138. They finished up the track on the first Saturday in May but both blossomed in the summer with wins in the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga. Maybe I should call this the Travers 2013 contenders blog!

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 Top Ten Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders

1. Fortify (Distorted Humor) – Reminds me of Stay Thirsty and Alpha. Love the long winded pedigree. He graduated in 6.5f bow and finished solid 2nd in G2 Hopeful. Sprinting is probably not his game and he should continue to develop for McLaughlin/Godolphin. The G1 Champagne on 10-6 is his next target. Breezed 5f in :59 (1/3) at Greentree Training Center on 9-22.

2. Pataky Kid (Rockport Harbor) – G3 Arlington-Washington Futurity hero continues to train well and will probably show up in Keeneland’s G1 Breeders’ Futurity. Garrett Gomez rode him last time for Tom Proctor. Fired a 5f bullet in 1:00 (1/13) at Arlington Park on 9-24.

3. Know More (Lion Heart) – From same connections as I’ll Have Another. Debuted a winner in G2 Best Pal and rallied for the place in G1 Del Mar Futurity. Entered in the G1 FrontRunner at Santa Anita on 9-29.

4. Archwarrior(Arch) – Pletcher’s highly regarded $375k colt was a professional debut winner at Saratoga on 8-30. He is listed as definite for the G1 Champagne. Breezed 5f in 1:00.22 (3/23) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on 9-24.

5. Micromanage (Medaglia d’Oro) – Cruised in Saratoga debut on 9-1. Yet another exciting prospect for Pletcher. Breezed 5f in 1:00.22 (3/23) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on 9-24. He could show up next in the G1 Champagne or Dover Stakes at Delaware.

6. Shanghai Bobby (Harlan’s Holiday) – Made it 3-for-3 with a decisive win in the G2 Hopeful (88 BSF). Not sure how far he wants to go but he is off to a flying start for Pletcher. The Champagne is probably next and he breezed 4f in :49.47 (16/34) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on 9-24.

7. Balance the Books (Lemon Drop Kid) – Graduated in G2 With Anticipation in his second lifetime start for Chad Brown. He has only run on turf so far but seems like the type to run all day. Brown is considering the Oct 7 Pilgrim at Belmont on turf or the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on synthetic ground. Brown also has sharp debut winner Noble Tune for the Pilgrim.

8. Tizracer (Tiznow) – Improved smartly second time out to romp in flat mile graduation run (92 BSF) at Belmont Park on 9-8 (exciting prospect Orb was 4th). Todd Pletcher trainee breezed 4f in :49.48 (17/34) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on 9-24. He might be headed to the Breeders’ Futurity.

9. Gabriel Charles (Street Hero) – Game nose victory in Del Mar bow and ended up a troubled 6th in Del Mar Futurity. He looks to rebound in the FrontRunner for Jeff Mullins.

10. Capo Bastone (Street Boss) – Closed smartly in Del Mar sprint bow and followed that up with an even 4th in the Del Mar Futurity. He goes next in the FrontRunner for John Sadler.

Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order):

Code West (Lemon Drop Kid) – $340k Keeneland sales grad rolled a pair of 3’s to begin his career at Del Mar. Baffert runner owns a promising route pedigree and is entered in the 1st race at Santa Anita on 9-29.

Goldencents (Into Mischief) – Sharp debut win (93 BSF) for Doug O’Neill/Leandro Mora on 9-2. He is expected to contest the G1 Champagne at Belmont on 10-6. Worked 6f in 1:16.20 (2/3) at Hollywood Park on 9-26.

Orb (Malibu Moon) – Blew the break and rallied to finish a strong 3rd in his bow. McGaughey’s promising colt flopped at low odds (fractious gate) going a flat mile at Belmont second time out. He has raw talent but lacks maturity at this stage. Breezed 4f in :51.03 (18/23) at Belmont Park on 9-26.

Power Broker (Pulpit) – $360k purchase is still a maiden after three starts but he keeps improving for Baffert. G1 FrontRunner is next and he might get brave if able to sneak away early.

Title Contender (Pulpit) – Set the pace and held the show behind subsequent stakes winner Dry Summer in his Del Mar bow July 28. Baffert’s $310k purchase is entered in the opening race at Santa Anita on 9-29.

Injured Reserve

Palace Malice (Curlin) – Smart second time out maiden tally for Pletcher at the Spa on 8-4. He is out of action with bucked shins.

Rolling Fog (Posse) – Baffert’s G1 Del Mar Futurity hero is out for 60 days with bucked shins.

Will I’ll Have Another Sweep Triple Crown?

I’ll Have Another will try to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 when he runs in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9.

I'll Have Another

Does I’ll Have Another have what it takes to win the Triple Crown? – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Since Spectacular Bid in 1979, eleven 3-year-olds have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to fail in their Triple Crown quest at Belmont Park.

Spectacular Bid appeared to be a slam dunk in the ’79 Belmont Stakes but received a questionable ride and finished 3rd. Pleasant Colony was also 3rd in his failed bid in 1981. Alysheba finished a disappointing 4th behind runaway winner Bet Twice in 1987. Easy Goer turned the tables on his arch rival Sunday Silence to deny history in 1989.

Touch Gold turned the tables on Silver Charm in 1997. Real Quiet moved too soon and Victory Gallop made him pay the price late in 1998. My value top Lemon Drop Kid spoiled Charismatic‘s party in 1999.

Big Brown

Big Brown was a big frown in 2008 Belmont Stakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

War Emblem faded to 8th while Sarava lit up the tote in 2002. My Derby top Empire Maker got sweet revenge on Funny Cide in 2003. I was never on the Smarty Jones bandwagon and was not surprised to see him go down to Birdstone in 2004. Finally, I was not a fan of Big Brown and expected him to go down in flames in 2008 but I was not smart enough to come up with Da Tara.

I did not start attending the races until 1980 so I just missed Spectacular Bid’s 3-year-old season, but I did see the last ten failed attempts and know how hard it is to complete the sweep with a win in the Test of Champions.

I’ll Have Another has a winning spirit, versatile running style, and a promising pedigree, but is that enough to complete a seemingly impossible task? History is not on his side.

Mario Gutierrez has been a huge asset up to this point, but so was Stewart Elliott aboard Smarty Jones until he was harassed by Rock Hard Ten (Alex Solis) and Eddington (Jerry Bailey) at Big Sandy. Kent Desormeaux jumped the gun in ’98 aboard Real Quiet and Gary Stevens and Victory Gallop tagged him late. Gutierrez has been a cool customer so far but the inexperienced pilot could get lost in the vastness of Belmont Park.

Ruler On Ice

Last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On ice – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Fresh, talented rivals also make the twelve furlong task a daunting one. Empire Maker, 2nd to Funny Cide in the 2003 Derby, skipped the Preakness and turned the tables on him in the Belmont. Birdstone did the same thing to Smarty Jones in 2005. The last six Belmont Stakes winners (Ruler On Ice, Drosselmeyer, Summer Bird, Da’  Tara, Rags To Riches, Jazil) did not run in the Preakness Stakes.

The most dangerous threat to I’ll Have Another is Union Rags. The Michael Matz trainee is a 3-time graded winner exiting back-to-back troubled trips under Julien Leparoux in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. I have always thought that he was the most talented member of his generation and a clean trip is all he needs to prove me right. Look for Matz to reach out for an experienced NY rider for the Belmont Stakes.

Alpha is another interesting candidate and reminds me of last year’s Belmont Stakes runner-up Stay Thirsty. He owns tactical speed, is bred to run all day, and should get better with age. Kiaran McLaughlin won the 2006 Belmont Stakes with Jazil. This year’s Kentucky Derby show finisher Dullahan is also waiting in the wings.

Much will be written and said in the weeks leading up to the Belmont Stakes. I would like to see a Triple Crown winner as much as anyone and will be pleasantly surprised if history is made at Belmont Park on Saturday, June 9. Let the games begin!

2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Preview

Post positions were drawn for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic on Monday and below is the advance I wrote on Horse Racing Nation.

Uncle Mo gets the 5-2 morning line nod over Havre de Grace in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

Uncle Mo

Uncle Mo is the 5-2 BC Classic favorite - photo by Eclipse Spoprtswire

Two-year-old champ Uncle Mo has overcome health problems to be the improbable favorite in the biggest race of the year. The Pletcher/Repole runner was forced to miss the Triple Crown series with an intestinal problem and has been a force since returning at Saratoga. He ran too good to lose in the G1 King’s Bishop and exits a visually impressive score in the G2 Kelso at Big Sandy. He has yet to win beyond a mile and a sixtenth so Saturday’s ten furlong trip is a question he must answer.

Havre de Grace will take on the boys but that should not pose a problem because she beat the gents in the G1 Woodward at the Spa in September. She tuned up for this with a facile triumph in the G1 Beldame and tries to become just the second female to ever win the BC Classic.

G1 Jockey Club Gold cup hero Flat Out will try to turn the tables on Havre de Grace. The fantastic filly got the jump on him in the G1 Woodward but the ten panel trip might even the odds. He is training well for this engagement but both wins this year occurred at Belmont Park.

Overseas invader So You Think gives conventional dirt a whirl for Aidan O’Brien. The classy New Zealand-bred has captured eleven graded/group events on turf in Australia, Great Britain, and Ireland from seven furlongs to a mile and five sixteenths. Saturday marks his third start in five weeks but he seems to thrive on activity and can compete here if he handles the footing.

To Honor And Serve is stuck out in unlucky post thirteen and figures to attend the pace with railsitting longshot Prayer For Relief and G1 Goodwood winner Game On Dude. The Mott trainee exits back-to-back sharp prominent throughout wins including the G2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept 24.

PA Derby runner-up Ruler On Ice deserves a look at a big price. The surprise G1 Belmont Stakes winner gave To Honor And Serve ten pounds and showed newfound rallying ability over a speed favoring surface at Parx last time. He will be finishing under Garrett Gomez.

Stay Thirsty hit his best stride at Saratoga this summer with wins in the G2 Jim Dandy and G1 Travers. He was last seen landing the show in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and must prove he can fire a big shot away from his New York home.

The remainder of the Breeders’ Cup Classic field consists of Drosselmeyer, Ice Box, Rattlesnake Bridge, and Headache.

Breeders' Cup Classic

Breeders' Cup Classic Odds

Breeders’ Cup Classic 2011 Report – Ladies First

Older Males…and Females

Look out Tizway. There’s a new sheriff in town and her name is Havre de Grace. The talented daughter of Saint Liam threw her hat into the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic ring after winning the Grade 1 Woodward against males on Sept 3.

Havre de Grace

Havre de Grace beat the boys at the Spa - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Havre de Grace will return to the distaff ranks for Belmont’s G1 Beldame Oct 1, where she could meet her nemesis Blind Luck (see below). After that it is on to Churchill Downs for the Ladies’ Classic or male Classic. She earned a 111 BSF in the Woodward.

Flat Out followed up his solid place finish behind Tizway in the G1 Whitney with another runner-up effort in the Woodward. He seemed a bit uncomfortable racing wide and in between horses on the backstretch and found his best stride late. He romped earlier this year in the G2 Suburban at Belmont and his preferred wide, sweeping style works well at Big Sandy. The G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and a rematch with top dog Tizway on October 1 is up next.

Rule set the Woodward pace and held the show in a respectable effort. He is a cut or two below the best but his early speed must be respected in a shallow handicap division.

Acclamation got away with soft splits and held Twirling Candy safe in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug 28.

The Goodwood on Oct 1 at Santa Anita is next for Twirling Candy, followed by the BC Dirt Mile or Classic.

Acclamation will probably go in the BC Turf if he points to any Cup race. No word on his next start but the grassy ten furlong Clement L Hirsch Turf Championship at Santa Anita on Oct 2 makes sense.

Talented late running filly Blind Luck passed on the Del Mar showcase and is expected to go next in the Lady’s Secret at Santa Anita or Beldame at Belmont, both on Oct 1. She worked 4f in :47.40 at Hollywood Park on Sept 8.

Three-Year-Olds

I have been covering the 3-year-old-crop of 2011 on Pick 6 Blog since last September and posted my latest Top 10 list on Sept 8.

Stay Thirsty is once again my top ranked 3YO after winning the G1 Travers. He will face older in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Some well known former top ten members have returned to my list, including The Factor, To Honor And Serve, and Uncle Mo.

Breeders’ Cup Classic 2011 Report: Pacific Classic Preview

Older Males…and Females

Tizway is widely considered the early favorite for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic after winning the Grade 1 Whitney on August 6th. He earned a 111 BSF for his nine furlong win at the Spa, and his G1 Met Mile triumph on May 30 netted him a 113 BSF. The back-to-back grade one winner has his sights set on the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct 1.

Flat Out proved his G2 Suburban (113 BSF) victory was no fluke with a solid runner-up effort behind Tizway in the Whitney. The G1 Woodward on Sept 3 could be next, followed by a rematch with Tizway in the JCGC.

Havre de Grace

Watch out gents, here comes Havre de Grace - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Havre de Grace will take on the males in the aforementioned Woodward, a race that could attract Duke of Mischief, Friend Or Foe, Mission Imapzible, and Rule.

The next big test for older males is the G1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug 28. At this stage, the field is expected to include Blind Luck, Game On Dude, Setsuko, Stately Victor, Tres Borrachos, and Twirling Candy.

A Blind Luck victory in the Pacific Classic would give her a leg up on Horse of the Year honors, but her task will not be easy with enigmatic Twirling Candy, consistent Game On Dude, and a resurgent Tres Borrachos signed on.

Twirling Candy is suspect at ten furlongs but might be sitting on a big race after working a strong mile in 1:37.80 at Del Mar on Aug 21.

Three-Year-Olds

I have been covering the 3-year-old-crop of 2011 on Pick 6 Blog since last September and posted my latest Top 10 list on Aug 19.

My top ranked sophomore Coil is officially going in the G1 Travers following a 4f bullet in :46.12 at Saratoga on Aug 23.

Preakness hero and Haskell runner-up Shackleford heads the Travers probable list, along with Jim Dandy winner Stay Thirsty and Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice.

Stay Thirsty is probably the one to beat. His 106 BSF in the Jim Dandy is the top dirt route number for 3yo’s this year and he looms large with a similar effort.

Uncle Mo makes his much anticipated return in the G1 King’s Bishop on the Travers undercard. The Factor, originally slated to face Uncle Mo at the Spa, will stay in SoCal and tackle older sprinters in Del Mar’s Pat O’Brien on Aug 28.

Breeders’ Cup Classic 2011 Report – Tizway Ready for Whitney

Older Males

The road to the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic is back in full swing at Saratoga with the Grade 1 Whitney on August 6th. Post positions will be drawn on Wednesday morning and the stellar field is expected to include Met Mile hero Tizway, Apart, Duke of Mischief, Flat Out, Friend Or Foe, Giant Oak, Mission Impazible, Morning Line, and Rail Trip.

Tizway

Watch out for Tizway in the Whitney - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

.

G1 Hollywood Gold Cup winner First Dude has been retired because of a tendon injury. It is a real shame since he was just beginning to hit his stride.

Gold Cup 2-3 finishers Game On Dude and Twirling Candy both have their sights set on the G1 Pacific Classic on Aug 28. The latter worked a strong five furlongs in :59.60 at Del Mar on 7-31.

The local prep for the Pacific Classic, the G2 San Diego, was captured by veteran Tres Borrachos. The former frontrunner is now coming off the pace for his new conditioner Marty Jones and he smartly ran down vastly improved early runner Kevlar Kid at Del Mar on Saturday.

The Del Mar showcase might also include Blind Luck, Bourbon Bay, Caracortado, Make Music For Me, and Setsuko.

Three-Year-Olds

I have been covering the 3-year-old-crop of 2011 on Pick 6 Blog since last September and posted my latest Top 10 list on Aug 3.

My top ranked sophomore Coil proved he deserved top billing with a sharp late running victory over Shackleford in Sunday’s Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth Park. The Bob Baffert trainee has shipped to Saratoga with an eye on the Aug 27 Travers Stakes.

Shackleford is also expected to make his next start at the Spa, with the aforementioned Travers or the Sept 3 Woodward against older rivals as possible engagements.

Belmont Stakes hero Ruler On Ice is headed to the Travers following a solid show finish in the Haskell.

I have always been fond of Stay Thirsty and he had his coming out party at Saratoga on Saturday. The smashing Jim Dandy winner earned a 106 BSF and has finally put it all together. The Travers is next for the Todd Pletcher trainee.

Earlier in July, Dreamy Kid beat Coil in the Swaps at Hollywood Park, and he gets a chance to prove that was no fluke when he starts as the likely favorite in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby on Aug 6.

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