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Horse Racing, Kentucky Downs Horses at The Downey Profile®


Belmont Stakes Horses


Updated June 8, 2014 @ 9:14 a.m. ET



 

Click to go to horse; click back to return.

CALIFORNIA CHROME
COMMANDING CURVE
COMMISSIONER
GENERAL A ROD
MATTERHORN
MATUSZAK
MEDAL COUNT
RIDE ON CURLIN
SAMRAAT
TONALIST
WICKED STRONG


 

CALIFORNIA CHROME (CA)
Trainer: Art Sherman
Owner: Steven Coburn & Perry Martin
Breeder: Martin Perry & Steve Coburn
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Lucky Pulpit (Pulpit, Lucky Soph)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Love the Chase (Not for Love, Chase It Down)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 7-5-10-0-0 (22) 3.40
Foal Date: Feb. 18, 2011


WORKOUTS
On Feb. 8, California Chrome breezed four in :48.00 (7/21) at LA.
On Feb. 15, California Chrome worked four in :47:80 (6/19) at LA.
On Feb. 22, California Chrome worked six in 1.11:80 (1/4) at LA.
On March 2, California Chrome worked five on a track rated wet-fast in 1.00:40 (1/1) at LA.
On March 22, California Chrome worked four in :47:40 (5/29) at LA.
On March 29, California Chrome worked four in :46:40 (1/16) at LA.
On April 19, California Chrome breezed four in :47:80 ( 7/27) at LA.
On April 26, California Chrome worked four in :48.20 (5/12) at LA.
On May 31, California Chrome breezed four in :47.61 (5/24) at BEL.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 25, California Cup Derby, Santa Anita, 1 1/16 Mile.
While the race was restricted to state-breds, California Chrome looked good enough to take the step forward to open company. He didn't just win, he ran away it As the second betting choice at 5-2 odds, he beat 9-5 favorite Tamarando by 5 1/2 lengths. The time was 1:43.22. Victor Espinoza guided California Chrome through an ideal stalking trip a couple of lengths behind longshots Better Bet and Life Is a Joy. They set splits of :23.47, :47.47 and 1:11.95. As the field struck the end of the far turn, California Chrome separated himself and ran through the stretch alone. Tamarando, who was seven lengths off the pace after a half-mile, made a belated wide wide run to best the rest of the field. Life Is a Joy was another 3 1/4 lengths back in third, followed by Awesome Return, Better Bet, Public Policy and Lucky Views.

Art Sherman: “I thought he would run awesome today. He’d been training like a bomb. I brought him over here about a week before and schooled him and took him in the paddock. The horse, the light bulb went on. He was kind of green starting out. He had a couple of rough trips in his races, he kind of got banged around and had no place to go. Now, he’s learned how to rate himself and have speed, and in California, that’s the type of horse you want, where you can place them close up.

“(Blinkers and Lasix) helped him quite a bit. When he was first out, he was green. You didn’t want to rush him into everything. I let him get his legs under him and grow up a bit and now he’s starting to mature. Coming into this race, I knew he’d be awesome. He’s been training lights-out.”

Victor Espinoza: “I know he’s doing great, but it was his first time at two turns. We wanted to find out if he could go that far, and today, he showed he can go the distance. He did it easy. I had to tap him once though, just so he kept going because he waits for other horses.

“I talked with Art Sherman before the race and he asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to put him in the race; you have to let good horses run. I didn’t want to do too much with him, I didn’t want to take a hold or anything, I wanted him to be happy. He told me to do whatever I wanted.”

Feb. 22 NOTE: “I’m real happy with the work,” trainer Sherman said. “I got him galloping out seven furlongs in 1:25. He’ll have one more breeze at Los Al and we’ll ship to Santa Anita five days before the race for schooling and final preparations. Victor said he went really nice.”

March 2 NOTE: "He looked good," trainer Sherman said after another workout at Los Alamitos. "In light of all the weather we've had recently, everything went perfect. We'll bring him to Santa Anita Wednesday, he'll school Thursday and Friday and run  Saturday."

March 8, Grade II San Felipe Stakes, Santa Anita, 1 1/16 Mile. California Chrome, who came from off the pace to win his last race, led all the way in fast fractions. He and Victor Espinoza sped through splits of :23.09, :45.55 and 1:09.45 en route to a blistering final time of 1:40.59 -- and left the rest of the field far in their wake. Midnight Hawk, who stayed with California Chrome for a little over six furlongs, finished a distant second, beaten 7 1/4 lengths. Kristo, who was midpack much of the way, got up for third, but he was 13 1/2 lengths back of the winner at the finish. Schoolofhardrocks gave way to Kristo to come in fourth, another 1 1/2 length back.

Art Sherman: “I didn’t think he’d be on the lead, but he was a handful today. I just told Victor, ‘You got him.’ I told him he broke like that because of that Quarter Horse training at Los Alamitos . . . We all know Santa Anita’s a speed-biased type of track, so it was really great to see him with the hold he had on him. It’s unbelievable. I’m looking at the race saying, ‘Well, I hope that horse doesn’t press him too hard, but I’ll tell you, when (Victor) asked him to go, he looked like a fresh horse, breaking, didn’t he? Maybe I’m looking at the wrong race, I don’t know. But I had a lot of fun watching him run.”

Asked if the Santa Anita Derby might be next: “Well, we’ll kind of play it by ear. I needed this 50 points, and we’ll kind of see what happens. Now I think I deserve to go to the (Kentucky) Derby. I don’t think the distance will make any difference, a mile and a quarter. I think he’ll run all day.

Victor Espinoza: “It was great. He ran like I expected him to. Everything worked out today. I wanted to try something new today, so I let him go right out of the gate. I don’t know if people expected me to go right to the lead, but I wanted to let him enjoy his race, I just let him go. In these races, you can’t just try and do too much with them. I think it’s important for him to do his thing for the first five-eighths and be happy. It seems like he likes both tracks. He’s been training over at Los Al but he does things so much easier at Santa Anita after having trained at Los Al. He didn’t feel tired at all after the wire.”

March 16 NOTE: “We’re playing it by ear with him,” trainer Sherman said. “The horse is doing well. He galloped this morning (at Los Alamitos). Let’s say he’s on the Derby trail and there’s a chance he could run in the Santa Anita Derby. We’ll wait and see how the horse is doing.”

April 5, Grade I Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita, 1 1/8 Mile. California Chrome romped to an easy win. After a crowded start, California Chrome and Victor Espinoza rated in third position going into the first turn, then ran easily in second while pressing pacesetter Dublin Up in the backstretch and around the far turn. After initial fractions of :22.89, :47.02 and 1:10.86, California Chrome had plenty left in the tank and spurted away from the field in the top of the stretch. He prevailed by 5 1/4 lengths, timed in 1:47.52.

Art Sherman: “It was awesome. That’s all I can say. I got a little spooked leaving the gate. He got banged around pretty good, but I really think he’s a better horse stalking . . . when he won the San Felipe, he was on the lead all the way, which is something new to me, but I really prefer this type of race where he’s right off the lead.

“I know that the horse likes to have company. I’ve seen all his races; he’s pretty competitive. He doesn’t mind being hooked. Right now, he’s kind of freaky, and I’m enjoying it. I can’t believe the races I’ve been seeing. A length or two might have been all right with me.”

Asked about comparing him to Swaps: “He’s my Swaps, let’s put it that way. If all goes well, we’ll ship to Kentucky probably a week before the Derby.

“I loved it when Trevor (Denman) said, ‘They’d need to sprout wings’ to beat him. I love that saying.”

Victor Espinoza: “He knows what’s going on. He’s calm and focused, but for some reason, we missed the break a tiny bit, but I put him in the race right away. I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic. It worked out well.”

May 3, Grade I Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 1 1/4 Mile. California Chrome sat just behind Chitu and Uncle Sigh through fractions of :23.04, :47.37 and 1:11.80. Rounding the far turn, California Chrome was revved up by Victor Espinoza, and they struck the front at the top of the stretch. With a furlong remaining in the race, California Chrome led by five lengths. He was never challenged, and Espinoza geared him down the last 100 yards. He was timed in 2:03.66.

Art Sherman: “Just awesome. I’m breathless. This is so cool. I think I rode the horse with Victor the last 70 yards. It was a picture-perfect ride. He was right where he should have been all the way around. Coming down the stretch I was thinking: ‘Keep rollin’ big boy. Keep rollin’.’ This has to be the sweetest moment of my life. To be my age and have something like this happen, what can you say? For all my friends in California, this is for you. We did it!”

Victor Espinoza: “Awesome. I never dreamed I’d win a second Kentucky Derby, but here it is. This was a typical race for him. He ran like he always does. Art just said: ‘You know him, ride him.’ I had the trip I wanted. I don’t mess with him too much. I just stretch his legs and little bit and then let him do his thing. Pressure will be back on for the Preakness, but that’s OK.”

May 17, Grade I Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, 1 3/16 Mile. California Chrome broke well from post 3, and Victor Espinoza allowed Pablo Del Monte and Ria Antonia to clear him and sat in third position with the first quarter-mile run in :23.56 and the half in :46.85. Those three led the field going up the backstretch, followed most closely by Social Inclusion. Social Inclusion edged closer, passing Ria Antonia as the second turn loomed, and six furlongs were in the book in 1:11.06. In the far turn, Ria Antonia began a serious retreat, and Pablo Del Monte began to slow. Challenged on the turn by Social Inclusion, he asked California Chrome in mid-turn.. The horse and rider led into the stretch, the mile gone in 1:35.65. Ride On Curlin, 10th and last early, mounted a challenge. With a furlong left in the race, California Chrome led by daylight with Ride On Curlin three lengths back, having overtaken Social Inclusion in upper stretch. Espinoza showed California Chrome the whip, and he hit the finish line in 1:54.84. Ride On Curlin finished second, beaten 1 1/2 length. Social Inclusion was a distant third, another 6 1/2 lengths back. General a Rod surged late to miss the show spot by a head.

Art Sherman: “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 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.”

Victor Espinoza: “It was not easy, but we got it done. I’m excited and looking forward. I had to start early (before the top of the stretch) because the outside horse (Social Inclusion) 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.”

June 7, Grade I Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/2 Mile. Commissioner broke best of all and took the lead going into the first turn, with California Chrome a length behind him on the rail and General a Rod challenging for the lead from the outside after a quarter-mile in :24.06. The field rounded the first turn with Commissioner and General a Rod vying for the lead while Tonalist got involved. California Chrome sat behind them in fourth, and a half-mile was gone in :48.52. Going up the backstretch, Victor Espinoza looked for a way to get California Chrome outside. Meanwhile, Medal Count was moving up the rail into contention. Six furlongs had been run in 1:12.84. Tonalist went three wide into the turn while Espinoza worked his way to the outside of the eventual winner, Commissioner and General a Rod. Medal Count stayed on the rail, and the mile was booked in 1:37.13. As heads turned for home, the leaders were more or less on even terms, and the huge crowd waited for California Chrome to kick away from the field -- but it wasn't to be. Instead, Commissioner edged off and led by a length and a half at the furlong marker. Tonalist wasn't done yet, though, and he kept putting his huge stride to work, getting up at the last second to take the victory away from Commissioner by a head. Medal Count surged to take third, beaten a length. California Chrome held on to dead-heat for fourth with the late-running Wicked Strong, the second betting choice, another three-quarters of a length back. The race was timed in a solid 2:28.52.

Unknown when the race ended was that California Chrome had grabbed a quarter, probably at the start of the race. His right front foot was seen bleeding before he was taken to his barn.

Alan Sherman, assistant trainer of California Chrome: "When Victor started to squeeze on him, he didn't respond. He was wore out, I think. Victor seemed to think he handled the surface fine, and he seemed to come back fine. We'll know more when we get back to the barn." (Spoken before he knew of the right-front foot injury)

Victor Espinoza: "A little tired. I thought he was...turning for home I was just waiting to have the same kick like he always had before, and today he was a little bit flat down the lane. (Taking dirt didn't bother him) at all. I was nice and comfortable in there, and I had a chance to move out, and when I moved out, he just don't have that today. I think it was tough for him. He ran back-to-back races in different tracks -- and all those fresh horses. But he feels good."
(Spoken before he knew of the right-front foot injury)

Steve Coburn, Co-owner: "I thought he was gaining ground, but he didn't have it in him, apparently. You know what? This is his third very big race. These other horses, they always set him out. They set him out and try to upset the apple cart. I'll never see, and I'm 61 years old, another Triple Crown winner in my lifetime because of the way they do this. It's not fair to these horses that have been in the game since day one. If you don't make enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby you can't run in the other two races. It's all or nothing. It's all or nothing because this is not fair to these horses that have been running their guts out for these people and for the people who believe in them. This is a coward's way out, in my opinion. This is a coward's way out."

Asked if he thought the field ganged up on California Chrome: "Exactly. Our horse had a target on his back and everybody else lays out one and they won't run in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness; they'll wait until the Belmont. If you've got a horse, run him in all three. Those 20 horses that start in the Kentucky Derby are the only 20 eligible to run in all three races. This is a coward's way out."


PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

He was the last horse to win a stakes race at Betfair Hollywood Park.

As a 2-year-old, he raced six times, winning twice at 4 1/2 furlongs and 5 1/2 furlongs -- against state-breds in a maiden race at Betfair Hollywood Park and in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar.  He was fifth against open company in the Willard Proctor Memorial and sixth against like company in the Del Mar Futurity. He closed out 2013 with a win in another restricted race, the seven-furlong King Glorious Stakes.

 

COMMANDING CURVE (KY)
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Owner: West Point Thoroughbreds
Breeder: T. F. VanMeter
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Master Command (A.P. Indy, Lady Lochinvar)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Mother (Lion Hearted, Proper Lassie)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 3-6-12-0-1 (22) 2.14
Foal Date: March 23, 2011

$60,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall 2012.
$75,000 OBS 2013.

WORKOUTS
On Dec. 20, Commanding Curve breezed four in :50.40 (52/79) at FG.
On Dec. 30, Commanding Curve breezed five in 1;03.80 (45/53) at FG.
On Jan. 5, Commanding Curve breezed five in :59.80 (1/79) at FG.
On Jan. 16, Commanding Curve breezed six in 1:14.80 (1/2) at FG.
On Jan. 24, Commanding Curve breezed six in 1:14.60 (1/2) at FG.
On Feb. 2, Commanding Curve breezed six in 1:14.80 (1/2) at FG.
On Feb. 9, Commanding Curve worked five in 1:00.40 B (1/80) at FG.
On Feb. 16, Commanding Curve breezed six in 1.14:00 (1/7) at FG.
On March 7, Commanding Curve breezed six in 1.13:60 (1/3) at FG.
On March 15, Commanding Curve breezed five in 1.01:00 (11/55) at FG.
On March 22, Commanding Curve breezed five in 1.01:40 (12/44) at FG.
On April 10, Commanding Curve breezed four in :48:20 (6/24) at CD.
On April 18, Commanding Curve breezed five in 1.00:40 (5/13) at CD.
On April 26, Commanding Curve breezed five in 1.02:60 (35/68) at CD.
On May 16, Commanding Curve breezed four on a good track in :48:80 (6/36) at CD.
On May 23, Commanding Curve breezed five in :59:80 (3/25) at CD.
On June 1, Commanding Curve breezed four in :47:38 (3/25) at BEL.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Feb. 6 NOTE: “We plan on giving him a couple of more works between now and the Risen Star, but we’re very pleased with the way this horse has come along for us, and we’re looking forward to this next race (in the Risen Star),” said trainer Stewart.

Feb. 22, Grade II Risen Star Stakes, Fair Grounds, 1 1/16 Mile. Commanding Curve and Robby Albarado finished sixth, beaten 8 1/4 lenths by Intense Holiday. He moved from 11th to eighth during the first six furlongs while gaining some lengths, but he dropped back to his original deficit by the time the race was over.

March 29, Grade II Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds, 1 1/8 Mile. Commanding Curve was third. In a roughly run race, Vicar’s in Trouble stayed out of just that by going to the lead and staying there. He cut through fractions of :23.56, :47.86, 1:12.14 and 1:37.15 before winning in 1:50.77 in the 1 1/8-mile race. Intense Holiday rated off the pace in fourth or fifth and started moving up going into the turn while saving ground. He was bumped by Louies Flower, costing him momentum, but he managed to forge ahead to get second, beaten 3 1/2 lengths, despite ducking in sharply in the stretch while under a left-handed whip. Commanding Curve was pinched back at the start and forced in. That left him running last after a half-mile, 8 1/2 lengths off the lead. After going three and four wide on the far turn, he checked in third, beaten five lengths. In Trouble finished another 3 3/4 lengths back in fourth and was moved down to fifth after coming out twice on Albano in the stretch.

Robby Albarado: “He’s progressing every time. I got eliminated at the start, but he ran on so easily. There’s more there.”

May 3, Grade I Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 1 1/4 Mile. Commanding Curve was a late-running second, beaten 1 3/4 length by a geared-down California Chrome. He was 18th early and 11th with a quarter-mile to go. The winner was timed in 2:03.66.

Dallas Stewart: “I wish I was out there (in the winner's circle), but you know, hey, I thank God for everything, the way it is, and that's what keeps us going for next year. Hopefully, we'll be back here next year. On training the second-place finisher two years in a row: "I would never get frustrated over that. There's a lot of things to be frustrated about. Getting beat in a horse race isn't one of them.'' On whether the Preakness is a possibility: "You know, who knows? Maybe. Yeah, probably. We'll see. He's a big, strong horse. You can see he handled the paddock real good. He handles a lot of things good. So, I doubt the race would knock him out. I was just hoping California Chrome would kind of give in a little bit, but he didn't. We were running at him. I mean, Shaun said, 'He was running, Dallas.' So I'm very proud of him.''

Shaun Bridgmohan: “All I had to do was just ride him hard and he gave me everything. I was starting to get him geared up when he turned for home and I had half the field beat at that point. I just was looking somewhere for him to go. Once I got him down the lane, man, he lengthened his stride and really dug in for me.”

June 7, Grade I Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/2 Mile. Commanding Curve finished last of the nine that finished the race, beaten 12 3/4 lengths.

Dallas Stewart: "He came back and said he just didn't show up today. I don't know if it was the track, or what it might have been, but he said he just kind of went around there evenly."

Sean Bridgmohan: The race unfolded much like I thought it would. The horse just ran even all around the track today. He felt good the whole time, but he didn't finish with the same energy as he did in the Derby."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

He debuted at Saratoga, finishing fifth behind winner Grand Arrival.  

His other three races were all at Churchill Downs. Going a mile on Sept. 28, he was beaten only a neck by 3-5 favorite Purple Sky. On Nov. 7, he ran third behind Chas's Legacy and Thundergram going two turns for the first time, 1 1/16 mile, beaten less than a length.

Nov. 30, Maiden Special Weight, Churchill Downs, 1 1/16 Mile. Fourth time was the charm for Commanding Curve, 3-1 co-favorite at post time.. Timed in 1:44.34 under Shaun Bridgmohan, he was best of 12 runners after coming from about four lengths off the pace. Harbor Bound finished second, beaten 1 1/2 length, and Irish You Well was another 12 1/4 lengths back in third. The chart call: "Commanding Curve broke a step slow, settled in hand, advanced between rivals at will, loomed large four wide leaving the second turn, shook clear and held safely."

 

COMMISSIONER (KY)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owner: WinStar Farm, LLC
Breeder: WinStar Farm, LLC
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): A.P. Indy  (Seattle Slew, Weekend Surprise)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Flaming Heart (Touch Gold, Hot Lear)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-11-20-0-0 (36) 2.60
Foal Date: April 7, 2011

WORKOUTS
On Jan. 26, Commissioner breezed four in :49:40 (18/54) at PMM.
On Feb. 2, Commissioner breezed five in 1:00.60 (3/28) at PMM.
On Feb. 9, Commissioner breezed five in 1.00:90 (16/31) at PMM.
On Feb. 16, Commissioner breezed four in :49.10 (30/55) at PMM.
On March 8, Commissioner breezed four in :49:35 (29/71) at PMM.
On March 16, Commissioner breezed five in 1.01:45 (4/12) at PMM.
On April 6, Commissioner breezed four in :49:05 (8/24) at PMM.
On May 3, Commissioner breezed four in :48:40 (9/50) at CD.
On May 25, Commissioner breezed five in 1:00.77 (8/28) at BEL.
On June 1, Commissioner breezed four on the training track in :49.86 (28/38) at BEL.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 3, Entry Level Allowance, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/8 Mile. Commissioner (6-1) prevailed over what was perceived by many at the time as a strong field. Never far back and running in second position early, he surged between horses in the stretch to defeat Top Billing (3-1) by a neck, timed in 1:50.72. Commissioner stalked pacesetter Ichiban Warrior (3-1) through fractions of :24.38, :49.03 and 1:13.81 and to the furlong marker timed in 1:38.48. Cousin Stephen (8-5 favorite), who'd been running with Commissioner, challenged Ichiban Warrior briefly, but both faded a bit late. Commissioner and Top Billing were swung to the outside from their rail positions for the stretch drive, joined on the outside by Hy Kodiak Warrior (9-2). Top Billing appeared on his way to victory in mid-stretch but lacked running room between Commissioner to his inside and Hy Kodiak Warrior to his outside. Commissioner took charge and out-battled Top Billing to the wire. Hy Kodiak Warrior finished third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths and a head in front of Ichiban Warrior, who in turn was a neck in front of Cousin Stephen.

Todd Pletcher; “We’re pretty pleased with that – a horse with a big pedigree like that, good looking. It seems like he has all the right ingredients. It was a good educational trip. It was a big effort. It was his first race since Saratoga. He’s a big, powerful horse. He’s still improving, still learning to run. He’s still learning to finish and focus, so I think there’s room for improvement. At that time your options are pretty limited for a horse that wants a mile and an eighth. We didn’t feel like he was mature enough to want to go to California and go that route, so it was kind of a tactical plan to give him some time off and bring him back for his 3-year-old campaign in mind. Most of the A.P. Indys I’ve been around get better as they get older. To see what he did today was very encouraging. We’ve got a lot of options. I like the mile and an eighth, but we won’t have a mile-and-an-eighth option before the Florida Derby, so we might have to back up to a mile and a sixteenth. We’ll see how he bounces out of it, but you have to put the Fountain of Youth in the mix.”

Jose Lezcano: “I had a very good trip. He’s a very nice colt, and I think he’ll be very good in the future. He got to the front, and then he waited for the horses, and when he felt the horse beside him he took off again. I think he’s very nice. but he’s still learning.”

Feb. 13 NOTE: We’re very pleased with him,” trainer Pletcher said. “Physically, he’s in great order. He holds his weight well. He’s a very easy horse to train. For him to win a mile-and-an-eighth race off a layoff against a top-quality field and Top Billing coming back to win impressively really flatters the race."

Feb. 22, Grade II Beslilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/16 Mile. Commissioner and John Velazquez finished sixth at 7-2 odds on a track favoring speed, beaten 10 lengths by Wildcat Red. He broke from post 1 and was in good position in sixth or seventh, about five or six lengths behind the pace, but the pace never came back to him.

Todd Pletcher: “I thought he ran pretty well, better than it probably looks on paper. He broke well and put himself into a decent spot, but the way the track’s playing speed is so, so good right now and it’s hard to make up much ground. He tried to chase him the whole way, and I think he wants to settle. I think he needs longer and he probably needs to get off Gulfstream.”

March 23, Grade III Sunland Derby, Sunland Park, 1 1/8 Mile. Chitu, favored when the gate opened, prevailed over second choice Midnight Hawk by 2 1`/4 lengths. Commissioner was third, beaten seven lengths. Ridden by Martin Garcia, Chitu and Garen each broke well and ran to the first turn in tandem. Garen took the lead and ran the field through early fractions of :23.24 and :46.46, with Chitu, Midnight Hawk and Tanzanite Cat stalking. Meanwhile, Commissioner was six lengths back, eighth of nine, after the first four furlongs. Heading into the far turn with six furlongs gone in 1:09.60, Chitu and Midnight Hawk pounced on Garen, and the race was on. With Midnight Hawk to his outside, Chitu dug in through the far turn and into the stretch, hit the furlong marker a half-length best in 1:34.58 and completed the 1/18-mile race in 1:47.88. Rebranded, a local runner,, was another 1 1/2 length back in fourth.

April 12, Grade I Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, 1 1/8 Mile. Commissioner acted up in the infield saddling area and then finished sixth, beaten 11n lengths by stable mate Danza.

Todd Pletcher: It wasn’t Commissioner’s day. I wasn’t aware of his antics until after the race. But, I would have to think that it affected his performance in a negative way.”

May 10, Grade II Peter Pan Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/8 Mile. The Belmont Stakes got a new contender as Tonalist easily won on a sloppy track. After breaking a bit slowly, Joel Rosario hustled Tonalist into contention, and Fabulous Kid surrendered the the lead before the half-mile was in the books at :46.83. Our Caravan tracked in third, followed by Commissioner. Javier Castellano and Commissioner took off after Tonalist as the field headed into the far turn, and six furlongs were gone in 1:10.89. The pursuit continued around the turn, and Commissioner, cutting the corner turning for home while saving ground, looked to have a chance. In the meantime, Irish You Well and Matterhorn were trying to close the gap on the leader. But Tonalist bounded away. At the furlong marker, with the mile run in 1:35.63, he led Commissioner by 3 1/2 lengths and won by four. Commissioner ran second. The final time for the one-turn race was 1:48.30.

Todd Pletcher: "I thought he ran pretty well. Second best on the day, but he seemed to handle everything pretty well. The slop didn't seem to bother him, he put himself in a decent position, he kept running to the wire, galloped out well."

Belmont Stakes? "I think so. We certainly feel he would handle the distance of a mile and a half. We'll see how he comes out of it, but talking to Elliot (Walden, WinStar president and CEO) initially after the race, we'd be inclined to go to the Belmont if he's doing well."

Javier Castellano: "I had a beautiful trip. It set up perfect; he was just second best today. The winner was best, but I like the way he ran. He handled the sloppy track well; he was splashing in it like a kid. I don't know about (the Belmont distance), but he galloped out beautifully today; I really like the way he did it."

June 7, Grade I Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/2 Mile. Commissioner broke best of all and took the lead going into the first turn, with California Chrome a length behind him on the rail and General a Rod challenging for the lead from the outside after a quarter-mile in :24.06. The field rounded the first turn with Commissioner and General a Rod vying for the lead while Tonalist got involved. California Chrome sat behind them in fourth, and a half-mile was gone in :48.52. Going up the backstretch, Victor Espinoza looked for a way to get California Chrome outside. Meanwhile, Medal Count was moving up the rail into contention. Six furlongs had been run in 1:12.84. Tonalist went three wide into the turn while Espinoza worked his way to the outside of the eventual winner, Commissioner and General a Rod. Medal Count stayed on the rail, and the mile was booked in 1:37.13. As heads turned for home, the leaders were more or less on even terms, and the huge crowd waited for California Chrome to kick away from the field -- but it wasn't to be. Instead, Commissioner edged off and led by a length and a half at the furlong marker. Tonalist wasn't done yet, though, and he kept putting his huge stride to work, getting up at the last second to take the victory away from Commissioner by a head. Medal Count surged to take third, beaten a length. California Chrome held on to dead-heat for fourth with the late-running Wicked Strong, the second betting choice, another three-quarters of a length back. The race was timed in a solid 2:28.52.

Todd Pletcher: "He ran super. I didn't anticipate that we would be on the lead, but we weren't going to take away anything they gave us. He was almost good enough today."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

Commissioner debuted with a second-place finish going one mile at Monmouth Park on Aug. 11 -- Solemnly Swear won that race by 8 1/2 lengths.

Seventeen days later, he won a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight on the dirt at Saratoga timed in 1:51.26 at 4-5 odds under John Velazquez. He edged Souper Lucky by a head, and third finisher Gaining Ground was 22 1/2 lengths behind them. Six ran. Commissioner was mid-pack in the early going. The ultra-detailed chart call: "Commissioner was guided over to the rail before reaching the end of the homestretch, was taken off the inside swinging into the backstretch, stalked the front runners from the two path, under some light hand urging to maintain interest, paused for a stride as all but one member of the field congregated at the midway point on the far turn, was given his cue and responded positively getting tipped outward, was under a drive taking the three path for entrance into the stretch, with clear sailing available, closed in readily on the leader during the run through the furlong grounds, alternated on the lead with that opponent sparring vigorously before sticking his head in front near the shadow of the wire for good to prevail."

Shortly after that, WinStar's Elliott Walden said Commissioner would get the rest of the year off, and that he thinks Commissioner would like longer distances in 2014.

Commissioner returned to the worktab on Nov. 19 at Palm Meadows and put in steady strings of workouts the remainder of the year.

 

 

GENERAL A ROD (KY)
Trainer: Mike Maker
Owner: Skychai Racing LLC & Starlight Racing LLC
Breeder: Hare Forest Farm
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Roman Ruler (Fusaichi Pegasus, Silvery Swan)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Dynamite Eyes (Dynaformer, Buckeye Search)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 4-2-12-0-0 (18) 2.00
Foal Date: Feb. 26, 2011

$90,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October 2012.

WORKOUTS
On Jan. 18, General a Rod breezed five in :59.54 (4/49) at GP.
On Jan. 25, General a Rod breezed five in 1.01:16 ( 11/34) at GP.
On Feb. 2, General a Rod breezed five in :59.13 (1/55) at GP.
On Feb. 9, General a Rod breezed five in 1.02:81 (25/30) at GP.
On Feb. 16, General a Rod breezed five in 1.00:12 (7/32) at GP.
On March 8, General a Rod breezed four in :51:26 (76/82) at GP.
On March 15, General a Rod breezed five in :59:50 (6/53) at GP.
On March 23, General a Rod breezed five in 1.01:14 (7/25) at GP.
On April 17, General a Rod breezed five in :59:80 (1/4) at CDT.
On April 23, General a Rod breezed five in 1.03:40 (13/15) at CD.
On April 29, General a Rod breezed four in :49.40 (17/27) at CD.
On May 31, General a Rod breezed five in 1.00:20 (1/10) at CDT.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 1, Gulfstream Park Derby, Gulfstream Park, One Mile.
General a Rod was victorious under Joel Rosario. After breaking from post 9, he attended the :23.14 and :45.91 contested pace set by Wildcat Red and Aaron’s Orient from his outside. Wildcat Red had the lead after six furlongs in  1:10.25 as Aaron’s Orient started fading. General a Rod got on even terms with Wildcat Red in the stretch and got the win by a head over Wildcat Red in a ding-dong finish. The time was 1:35.94.

Mike Maker: “I didn’t know I thought I had it, but I was glad (Wildcat Red) hung around. I was worried about Joel opening up a little bit because he waits on horses. So it gave him some company. We drew great (post 9 of 9). He got a perfect trip. I have no complaints. He’s always shown great promise. He’s a big, immature colt, but since his last race he’s made no mistakes. We were looking for a big effort today and we got it. He ran great last time. He was just second best. The winner (Conquest Titan) was coming out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and was a bit more experienced. Eveything’s a possibility. We’ll talk it over with the owner, but my first inclination is keeping him right here (for the $400,000 Holy Bull on Jan. 25).”

Joel Rosario“When I got to the horse in front (Wildcat Red), he just kind of waited a little bit. He didn’t want to go by, but the other horse was running pretty good, too. I thought I had a little more left when I asked him, but he did the job. I think he’s still learning now, so going forward he’ll be even better.”

Feb. 22, Grade II Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/16 Mile. Wildcat Red narrowly defeated General a Rod. Those two shot from the gate and began winging it early, running together through fractions of :23.03, :46.25 and 1:10.13. General a Rod and Javier Castellano were to the outside of Wildcat Red and Luis Saez. Nothing else came close to them at any point, and Wildcat Red prevailed by a head, timed in 1:41.85. Top Billing, the 2-1 favorite despite having to break from post 11, made a valiant closing run to get third, beaten two lengths. Longshot East Hall, sent away from the gate at 72-1 odds, finished fourth, another 4 1/2 lengths back. Top Billing and East Hall were at the back of the pack after the first quarter-mile, 13 1/2 lengths off the lead.

Mike Maker: “The horse ran super. What else can you say?”

Javier Castellano: “I had a beautiful trip. It was where I wanted to be. He’s such a nice horse. It was a competitive race. I had a lot of chances to win the race. The horse gave me everything he had. Unfortunately, he just got beat by the bob.”

March 29, Grade I Florida Derby, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/8 Mile. Constitution edged Wildcat Red, with General a Rod close by and favored Cairo Prince fourth. With General a Rod and Constitution tracking him, Wildcat Red went through the opening quarter-mile in :24.01. Spot was third after a half-mile in :48.19, with Constitution still close. Spot quickly faded while the other three kept running, and six furlongs were in the book in 1:12.00. General a Rod loomed and Cairo Prince made his move. Constitution moved up on the rail entering the stretch. At the furlong marker, Constitution led by a head in 1:36.46. He managed to keep Wildcat Red at bay and prevailed by a neck. General a Rod finished another 1 1/4 length behind, and Cairo Prince was beaten 3 3/4 lengths by the winner, timed in 1:49.16.

Assistant trainer Elesar Chavez: “He was trying at the end, but he couldn’t get past the other ones. Probably the pace was just too fast. He likes to go head-to-head with the other one, but it’s fine. We’ll see what Mike says for next time, but he looks like he can go longer and we’re going to look at the Kentucky Derby. He’s going to be fine.”

Joel Rosario: "It took him a little bit to keep him going and Johnny already had a good position on the outside he was coming out a little bit and I just followed him the whole way and opened up the inside a little bit and Constitution came through the rail and it was over from there. My horse ran great and tried very hard. He ran a great race. It was a little quick, but thats how it goes sometimes, I guess we were third best today.

March 30 NOTE: General a Rod was shipped to Kentucky this date.

April 28 NOTE: Skychai Racing LLC and Starlight Racing LLC announced their purchase of General a Rod. Skychai also owns an interest in Harry's Holiday, while Starlight owns Intense Holiday.

May 3, Grade I Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 1 1/4 Mile. General a Rod finished 11th, beaten 8 1/2 lengths by California Chrome, after being taken back to rate. He was 16th in the early running. The winner was timed in 2:03.66.

Mike Maker: "It just looked like (he wasn’t) good enough. That's about it.''

Joel Rosario: “Good trip. The pace was pretty good, we were pretty steady the whole way. I thought he put together a pretty good run later, but just too late.”

May 17, Grade I Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, 1 3/16 Mile. General a Rod finished fourth after a tough trip, beaten eight lengths by California Chrome and a time of 1:54.84.

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

Javier Castellano: “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.”

June 7, Grade I Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/2 Mile. General a Rod finished seventh, beaten 5 1/4 lengths. He vied for the early lead and was third, 1 1/2 length off the lead, with a furlong left in the race.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

General a Rod debuted at Keeneland against 10 others and won on the course that goes about 7 1/2 furlongs. He was clear 2 3/4 lengths at the finish line and drawing away after being eighth after a half-mile.

Nov. 30, Entry Level Allowance, Churchill Downs, One Mile. General a Rod finished a stubborn second. Conquest Titan registered a going-away win timed in a spritely 1:35.27. Sixth by 4 1/2 lengths after six furlongs, Conquest Titan won by 1 3/4 length. General a Rod set fast early fractions -- :22.69 and :45.45. The chart call: "General a Rod alternated for the lead three wide, responded willingly when the winner surged past then held on gamely to be seco
nd."

 

MATTERHORN (KY)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher  
Owner: Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners
Breeder: Town & Country Farm Corp.
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Tapit (Pulpit, Tap Your Heels)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Winter Garden (Roy, Hillsburgh Gardens (CAN))
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 6-10-11-1-0 (28) 3.31
Foal Date: Feb. 7, 2011

$625,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida March 2013.

WORKOUTS
On Jan. 19, Matterhorn breezed four in :53:00 (50/51) at PMM.
On Jan. 26, Matterhorn breezed four in :50:15 (40/54) at PMM.
On Feb. 2, Matterhorn breezed four in :48.30 (10/82) at PMM.
On Feb. 9, Matterhorn breezed five in 1.01:25 (22/31) at PMM.
On Feb. 16, Matterhorn breezed four in :48:75 (14/55) at PMM.
On March 16, Matterhorn breezed four in :49:00 (3/47) at PMM.
On April 13, Matterhorn breezed four on the training track in :49.05 (13/65) at BEL.
On April 19, Matterhorn breezed four on the training track in :48.50 (30/116) at BEL.
On April 27, Matterhorn breezed four on the training track in :48.71 (21/53) at BEL.
On May 5, Matterhorn breezed four on the training track in :48.27 (2/57) at BEL.
On June 1, Matterhorn breezed four on the training track in :49.90 (29/38) at BEL.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Feb. 22, Entry Level Allowance/Optional Claiming, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/16 Mile. Matterhorn, the 3-1 third betting choice, disappointing connections and backers by finishing 10th and last, beaten 18 3/4 lengths.

March 28, Allowance, Aqueduct, 1 1/8 Mile. Matterhorn finished third, beaten 6 1/2 lengths by the 7-5 favorite Mighty Ian and a time of 1:50.75. Matterhorn was 7-2 and ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr.

 

May 10, Grade II Peter Pan Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/8 Mile. On a sloppy track, Matterhorn (7-1)  finished fourth, beaten 6 1/4 lengths by 6-5 favorite Tonalist and a time of 1:48.30. He came up a head short of third place finisher Irish You Well. Commissioner was second, beaten four lengths.

May 26 NOTE: Bought by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners from Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, Matterhorn is named as a candidate for the Belmont Stakes.

June 7, Grade I Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/2 Mile. Matterhorn finished eighth, beaten 10 lengths. He was eighth or ninth at each call except one.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

Matterhorn raced once and won, then was laid off. Going a mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 16, he beat stable mate and 4-5 favorite Harpoon by a half-length, timed in 1:36.16 under Luis Saez at odds of 13-1.

Dec. 31 NOTE: Nothing on the worktab following the November  maiden win.

 

 

MATUSZAK (KY)
Trainer: Bill Mott
Owner: George Prussin
Breeder: Sha-Li Leasing Associates, Inc.
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Bernardini (A.P. Indy, Cara Rafaela)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Golden Sonata (Mr. Prospector, Elissa Beethoven (GB))
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 12-10-17-1-0 (40) 3.21
Foal Date: Feb. 15, 2011

No auction history.

WORKOUTS
On Jan. 18, Matuszak breezed four on the training track in :48:83 (3/81) at BEL.
On Feb. 23, Matuskak breezed four on the training track in :51:10 (67/85) at BEL.
On March 2, Matuszak breezed four on the training track in :48:27 (22/146) at BEL.
On March 22, Matuszak breezed four on the training track in :49:06 (18/59) at BEL.
On March 28, Matuszak breezed five on the training track in 1.03:10 (24/42) at BEL.
On April 3, Matuszak worked four on the training track in :48:69 (9/61) at BEL.
On April 12, Matuszak breezed four in :48:65 (9/19) at BEL.
On May 4, Matuszak breezed five on firm turf in 1.04:02 (3/4) at BEL.
On May 12, Matuszak breezed five on the training track in :59:88 (1/42) at BEL.
On May 19, Matuszak breezed five in :59:70 (1/35) at BEL.
On May 26, Matuszak breezed five in 1.01:56 (19/30) at BEL.
On June 1, Matuszak breezed five in 1:00.94 (6/14) at BEL.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 4, Grade II Jerome Stakes, Aqueduct, One Mile 70 Yards. Matuszak finished fourth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths, after cutting his deficit in half under Rajiv Maragh. Noble Moon sat off the early pace, took the lead on the backstretch, and repelled multiple bids en route to a two-length victory over Classic Giacnroll. He was timed in 1:45.08. He sat second early behind long shot Pin and Win through an opening quarter in :24.07. Noble Moon claimed the top spot under a tight hold, getting the half in :48.34. Pressed by Master Lightning and Classic Giacnroll from there through three quarters in 1:13.50, Noble Moon began to assert himself when put to a drive turning for home, with Classic Giacnroll chasing in vain in the stretch and Master Lightning dropping out of contention. Classic Giacnroll finished 2 1/2 lengths ahead of third finisher Scotland, who held off Matuszak, Lawmaker, and Mental Iceberg in a blanket finish for third. The chart call: "Matuszak got taken hold after taking an awkward initial step at the start, quickly tucked along the rail and rode it until the top of the far turn, slipped outward to elude the fading former pacesetter, swung four wide into the stretch, shied outward several more paths reacting to Lawmaker, went on to mainly improve position belatedly."

Jan. 26, Entry Level Allowance, Aqueduct, 1 1/16 Mile. Matuszak finished third, beaten 6 3/4 lengths by Undertaker and a time of 1:44.33. Five ran. The chart call: "Matuszak,  lightly bumped at the start, racing mostly two wide, spun into the stretch under a drive, proved no match."

March 8, Private Terms Stakes, Laurel Park, 1 1/8 Mile. Matuszak rallied to take third, beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Kid Cruz, who was timed in 1:54.18.

April 19, Frederico Tesio Stakes, Pimlico, 1 1/16 Mile. Matuszak finished second. Kid Cruz rated off the pace into the far turn, then charged by his rivals to post an easy victory, winning by 3 1/2 lengths and completing the 1 1/16 mile in 1:47.38. Joint Custody took third. Sassicaia was fourth.

June 7, Grade I Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/2 Mile. Matuszak didn't finish the race. He was pulled up in the stretch.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

Matuszak was victorious in his debut on Sept. 21 at Churchill Downs going 1 1/16 mile in a maiden special weight that came off the turf. That was followed by three races where he was beaten a combined 25 1/2 lengths -- two-turn allowances at Keeneland and Churchill Downs and the Grade II Remsen Stakes. He was never in contention in any of those races.

 

MEDAL COUNT (KY)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Owner: Spendthrift Farm LLC
Breeder: Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Dynaformer (Roberto, Andover Way)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Brisquette (Unbridled's Song, Pirate's Glow)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 7-7-21-0-1 (36) 2.13
Foal Date: May 1, 2011

$360,000 Keeneland September 2012.

WORKOUTS
On Feb. 2, Medal Count breezed four in :48.87 (41/100) at GP.
On Feb. 8, Medal Count breezed five in 1.00:28 (18/46) at PMM.
On Feb. 15, Medal Count breezed five in 1.01:02 (39/70) at GP.
On March 8, Medal Count breezed five in :59:81 (4/41) at GP.
On March 15, Medal Count breezed five in :59:36 (4/53) at GP.
On March 22, Medal Count breezed five in :59:05 (4/36) at GP.
On April 1, Medal Count breezed five in 1.00:38 (7/26) at GP.
On April 26, Medal Count breezed six in 1:13.00 (1/2) at CD.
On May 17, Medal Count breezed four in :49.00 (29/67) at CD.
On May 24, Medal Count breezed five in :59.40 (1/42) at CD.
On May 31, Medal Count breezed six in 1.10:60 (1/8) at CD.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 12, Entry Level Allowance/Optional Claiming, Gulfstream Park, 7 1/2 Furlongs (T). At 9-5 odds off an 8-1 morning line, Medal Count rallied late to earn a dead-heat victory with 53-1 longshot Drover Road in a closely packed field. Medal Count was rated a few lengths off a dawdling pace set by Scorched Cat and pressed by Drover Road. After posting fractions of :25.10, :51.01 and 1:15.06, the early leaders picked up the pace through the stretch run. Asked by Corey Lanerie, Medal Count kicked in with a late surge to hit the finish line in 1:32.32.

Dale Romans: “(Dynaformer) has a lot of horses that can run on the dirt and this is one of them. He’ll be back on the dirt before the Derby trail. It ended up with no pace. One of the reasons I wanted to run him so short was that I wanted some pace for him to run after, but it never showed up. But he was game. He really had to belly down that last sixteenth of a mile. It didn’t look like he was going to get up for any part of it. I’m very impressed. He has a lot of room to improve. He has all the natural talent in the world. The horses have turned the corner. We had a real tough year last year with a lot of sickness and stuff. It looks like we’ve turned the corner.”

Jan. 20 NOTE: “He’s doing good,” Romans said. “I’m sure that we’ll go back to the dirt in a stakes somewhere, I’m just not sure where yet. He has a lot of room to improve. He has all the natural talent in the world.”

Feb. 16 NOTE: Confirming a prior report; "I think we're going to run," trainer Romans said. "He worked great going five-eighths. He's a good horse and does everything right."

Feb. 22, Grade II Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/16 Mile. Medal Count and Joe Rocco, Jr. finished fifth at 43-1 odds on a track favoring speed. He was third or fourth at each call of the race, tracking pacesetters Wildcat Red and General a Rod, before giving way, beaten 9 1/4 lengths by Wildcat Red.

April 4, Grade III Transylvania Stakes, Keeneland, 1 1/16 Mile. Medal Count finally lived up to some of his promise, winning by 1 1/4 length on the main track. He came from seventh of eight, almost six lengths back in the early running, and was timed in 1:43.35.

Dale Romans: “He is versatile. He ran well on the Polytrack here in the fall, but he just had too much trouble. This is a really good horse. He’s been one of my favorites all along. He’s a good horse, and he showed the performance we were expecting.”

“(His next race will) be up to Mr. Hughes. If he were mine, I’d still have him on the Derby trail, but he wanted to take a more conservative approach and let him grow up a little bit. Today was a big performance and showed he can go anywhere.”

Robby Albarado: “I got squeezed back right under the wire the first time. I had specific instructions from Dale to just try to keep him clear. At the three-eighths pole, I tried to sneak through. Fortunately, I got through there and it worked out for us.

“I rode him in the fall here, and he had so much trouble. He was only beaten two lengths then. Dale had high expectations. I guess as an older horse he’s shown everything that Dale thought about him.”

April 12, Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, Keeneland, 1 1/8 Mile. Medal Count also closed to get second place, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, Dance With Fate got the job done with a closing, going-away move. Pablo Del Monte, who led the field through fractions of :23.58, :47.59 and 1:12.74, faded to third, 1 3/4 lengths behind Medal Count. Big Bazinga was fourth, another 5 1/4 lengths back, after being placed last at the first call. The final time was 1:50.06.

Robby Albarado: “He acted like a good horse today. He ranged to (the leader) like a good horse. He had a wide trip both turns. With a field like this, you kind of expect that at Keeneland, with the Polytrack, whereas on traditional dirt they kind of stretch themselves out pretty good and you can kind of weave your way in and out. He’s a grown-up horse now. He’s got a lot of hair on his chest, all the trouble he’s been in in his career. He’s a man now.”     

Dale Romans: “The 13 hole’s not the best and he was a bit wide on both turns, but I think that’s better for this horse than being stuck inside and having to stop and start. So everything went well. I didn’t see a real problem with (the trip). In a 14-horse field, you can’t expect to have a perfect trip unless you’re just going to be on the lead.”

May 3, Grade I Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 1 1/4 Mile. Medal Count, finished eighth after running evenly, beaten 7 1/2 lengths by California Chrome. The winner was timed in 2:03.66.

Dale Romans: “I felt good about where we were the whole race, even up the backside. About the half-mile pole I thought we were ranging up exactly where we needed to be and he could quicken from there. I wish there had been a lot more pace in the race. It looked on paper like there would be a lot more. We got shut off pretty badly down the lane but, I don’t know, that’s the Derby. I think we could’ve moved up a couple positions but I don’t think it kept us from winning. I do want to say one thing on the record. I didn’t think that California Chrome had any chance going into this race, and I was very, very wrong. Whether the crop’s a good crop or not, that’s a special horse. I was wrong. I was a very big skeptic; I threw him out of all my tickets in every spot. I didn’t think he fit the profile to win the Derby. I’m very impressed the way he came into it, the way he looked, the way he was prepared and the way he ran. Now he has a new fan.”

Robby Albarado: “No trouble under the wire the first time. I was basically where I needed to be going to the backside. We made a little run turning for home but obviously not what I needed.”

June 7, Grade I Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/2 Mile. Commissioner broke best of all and took the lead going into the first turn, with California Chrome a length behind him on the rail and General a Rod challenging for the lead from the outside after a quarter-mile in :24.06. The field rounded the first turn with Commissioner and General a Rod vying for the lead while Tonalist got involved. California Chrome sat behind them in fourth, and a half-mile was gone in :48.52. Going up the backstretch, Victor Espinoza looked for a way to get California Chrome outside. Meanwhile, Medal Count was moving up the rail into contention. Six furlongs had been run in 1:12.84. Tonalist went three wide into the turn while Espinoza worked his way to the outside of the eventual winner, Commissioner and General a Rod. Medal Count stayed on the rail, and the mile was booked in 1:37.13. As heads turned for home, the leaders were more or less on even terms, and the huge crowd waited for California Chrome to kick away from the field -- but it wasn't to be. Instead, Commissioner edged off and led by a length and a half at the furlong marker. Tonalist wasn't done yet, though, and he kept putting his huge stride to work, getting up at the last second to take the victory away from Commissioner by a head. Medal Count surged to take third, beaten a length. California Chrome held on to dead-heat for fourth with the late-running Wicked Strong, the second betting choice, another three-quarters of a length back. The race was timed in a solid 2:28.52.

Dale Romans: "He ran very well. I thought he would be closer. It was a perfect trip. I think if we could have gotten free a little earlier because he's more of a grinder than a real turn of foot, I would have been real happy with him. I'm happy anyway. It's a great day for racing in America."

"It's unbelievable the way this New York crowd came out here and supported our sport, and I want them to know how much we truly appreciate it. It's about being around greatness, and California Chrome is greatness. He couldn't get it done today like the last twelve that tried, but he's greatness, and it proves people here still appreciate the greatness of this game. It's always an honor to be a part of a great event like this."

Robby Albarado: "I was in position where I needed to be the first part of the race down the backside. I had eyes on California Chrome and those were obviously two nice horses in front of us that eventually beat us. I wish I could have gotten out a little earlier toget some more momentum. He's not a quickening type of horse; he kind of grinds it out. I did get some room turning for home and had every chance to get to him.

"He ran huge. I had to get into him a little early to get some momentum going but he still ran big. I thought we had a chance when we went with the eventual winner, but it didn't work out."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

Medal Count scored his first career win at Ellis Park in his debut, a race that came off the turf, then finished fifth in the Bourbon Stakes, taken off the turf at Keeneland. Trainer Romans thought so highly of the colt that he sent him to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but he finished 11th of 13.

Nov. 29 NOTE: Trainer Romans said he has no explanation for Medal Count’s dull effort in the Breeders’ Cup, and he still expressed optimism with this statement. “If Medal Count doesn’t turn out to be a good horse, it’ll be the most wrong I’ve ever been about a horse. He just does everything so easy. It doesn’t matter what it is – his works or his gallops. He’s got the pedigree, the looks and the size – he’s the total package for a good horse.” After Breeders' Cup, Medal Count put in one work at Churchill Downs, but Romans didn't nominate him to the Kentucky Jockey Club. Romans said he never considered the colt for the race. “I thought I’d take it easy with him,” Romans said. “I’ll take him to Florida and maybe run him on the grass, and kind of start over with him down there.”

Dec. 18 NOTE: Medal Count was on the worktab at Gulfstream Park as of Dec. 16.

Dec. 20 NOTE: “I’ll run him after the first of the year,” trainer Romans said. “We’ll probably breeze him on the grass to see what we have, but I think he’s a good horse. If he’s not a good horse, I’ve never been so wrong.”

 

RIDE ON CURLIN (KY)
Trainer: William Gowan
Owner: Daniel J. Dougherty
Breeder: G. Watts Humphrey Jr. & Louise Ireland Humphrey Revocable Trust 2008
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Curlin (Smart Strike (CAN), Sherriff's Deputy)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Magical Ride (Storm Cat, Victory Ride)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 6-5-9-0-0 (20) 3.44
Foal Date: Feb. 16, 2011

$25,000 Keeneland September 2012.

WORKOUTS
On Jan. 27, Ride On Curlin breezed five in 1.03:00 (22/57) at OP.
On Feb. 5, Ride On Curlin breezed five on a muddy track in 1.03:40 (6/18) at OP.
On March 6, Ride On Curlin breezed seven in 1.26:80 (1/1) at OP.
On March 30, Ride on Curlin breezed five in 1.00:60 (4/46) at OP.
On April 6, Ride On Curlin breezed seven in 1.26:80 (1/1) at OP.
On April 27, Ride On Curlin breezed seven in 1.29:00 (1/1) at CD.
On May 14, Ride On Curlin breezed four in :49:60 (1/5) at PIM.
On June 1, Ride On Curlin breezed seven in 1:28.03 (1/1) at BEL.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 12, Entry Level Allowance, Oaklawn Park, Six Furlongs. Some called it very handy, some called it workmanlike, and here's what happened. From the outside post 10, Ride On Curlin put himself right into the race under Calvin Borel and attended a pace of :21.80 set by longshot Compendium. After a half-mile in :45.98, Ride On Curlin was in the lead, and he stayed there, hitting the wire in 1:13.77. Smiling Charlie, who tried to stay with the winner, was beaten 2 1/2 lengths. Rivers Run Deep, last and 15 3/4 lengths back after a quarter-mile, got third, another two lengths back. The chart call: "Ride On Curlin, never far back outside, four wide when moving a bit closer into the turn, three wide bid late turn, clear, kept to the task."

Feb. 17, Grade III Southwest Stakes, Oaklawn Park, 1 1/16 Mile. Tapiture turned a ground-saving trip into victory. Ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., Tapiture broke from the rail and briefly lagged behind several horses entering the first turn. As the field straightened onto the backstretch, Tapiture dueled for the lead with Tanzanite Cat and Ride On Curlin. Tanzanite Cat backed out of it in the second turn, and Ride On Curlin, who was seven wide in the first turn, continued running. Strong Mandate was taken in hand early after being bumped at the start and was eighth after a quarter-mile. Despite being wide on the first turn and four and five wide rounding the turn for home, he managed to get within a length of the lead at the home stretch loomed. But Tapiture was not looking back and ran a fairly straight path to the wire, prevailing by 4 1/4 lengths and timed in 1:44.95. Strong Mandate, who shifted in mid-stretch under Joel Rosario, finished second, six lengths ahead of Ride On Curlin. Coastline got the nod in a photo for fourth, another half-length back. They were followed by Tanzanite Cat, Bourbonize, Walt, Fire Starter, Son of Dixie, Paganol, Kendall's Boy and Louies Flower. Twenty-six lengths separated the winner and the last finisher.

Billy Gowan: “He ran a heck of a race. He was hung nine wide, and he got a little bit tired. We’ll be back for the Rebel.”

Calvin Borel: “He ran good. He broke sharp. He got hung a little wide going into the first turn, and he didn’t like that. I had to take him back and let him go about his business. He got a little heavy at the end."

March 6 NOTE: “I thought it was awesome,” trainer Gowan said of a workout on this date. “He couldn’t have worked any better. He’s sitting perfect for the Rebel." Kent Desormeaux will be aboard Ride On Curlin, replacing Calvin Borel, who is riding Street Strategy.

March 15, Grade II Rebel Stakes, Oaklawn Park, 1 1/16 Mile. After a tense stewards' inquiry, the order of finish in the Rebel Stakes was declared unchanged, and Hoppertunity's number stayed on top at 7-1 odds after a late surge in the stretch. On a track rated wet-fast, Hoppertunity was always close to the lead. Strong Mandate set the pace into the stretch with fractions of :24.06, :47.96 and 1:12.24. Ride on Curlin was right there with him going up the backstretch and into the second turn. Hoppertunity was behind them on the outside while Tapiture sat on the rail stalking. Once heads turned for home, the race to the wire was wild, and although there was some bumping, the stewards decided it did not affect the order of finish. Hoppertunity prevailed by a half-length over Tapiture, who also surged late, while Ride on Curlin stayed on for third, another half-length back. Strong Mandate backed up just a bit to fourth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths. The 1 1/16-mile race was timed in 1:43.90.

Kent Desormeaux, aboard Ride On Curlin: “I tell you, I fancy him. I like him a lot. At the half-mile pole, I thought I could win. The only thing I didn’t like was my post. I think if I had had an outside post, it would have been better. I was kind of committed from where I was. But, he was comfortable. He’s like riding a 9-year-old he’s so cool.”

April 12, Grade I Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, 1 1/8 Mile. Ride On Curlin, who was in sixth place of eight in early running, 4 1/2 lengths off the pace, finished second, beaten 4 3/4 lengths by Danza. Danza won at 41-1 odds after a ground-saving trip. After breaking from post 1, Danza was never far back. Fourth, then third at the first three calls, he stayed close to Bayern, who set the pace in :23.72, :47.72 and 1:12.29. Coming out of the second turn, Danza and Joe Bravo came through on the rail and moved off from the field to prevail. Bayern faded to third, beaten 5 1/4 lengths. Tapiture toiled in mid-pack and went five wide into the stretch before finishing fourth. He was beaten 7 1/4 lengths. The time was 1:49.68.

Jon Court: “Everything came together and he’s been pressed his last couple of races. Actually, he tested me on the backside like it’s time to go. I had to just put him in a position to settle and I knew I had a lot of horse turning for home. I was kind of taken back to see the one horse just continue coming off that 7/8ths.I thought he was making a move and I made my move and he out finished us. He’s to be respected, it was a good field of horse flesh.”

May 3, Grade I Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 1 1/4 Mile. Ride On Curlin finished a late-running seventh, beaten 6 3/4 lengths by California Chrome. The winner was timed in 2:03.66.

Billy Gowan (following morning): "Once he got clear he came flying, but it was too late. He never got a chance to run. You've got to look at the Preakness. The way he came out of it, the way he looks this morning, leg-wise he's perfect and he ate up pretty much everything. The way this horse is, after two or three days, he's ready to fight again."

Calvin Borel: “It was a little bit of a rough trip. They backed up into me around the turn and we had nowhere to go. He ran a good race, though.”

May 17, Grade I Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, 1 3/16 Mile. California Chrome broke well from post 3, and Victor Espinoza allowed Pablo Del Monte and Ria Antonia to clear him and sat in third position with the first quarter-mile run in :23.56 and the half in :46.85. Those three led the field going up the backstretch, followed most closely by Social Inclusion. Social Inclusion edged closer, passing Ria Antonia as the second turn loomed, and six furlongs were in the book in 1:11.06. In the far turn, Ria Antonia began a serious retreat, and Pablo Del Monte began to slow. Challenged on the turn by Social Inclusion, he asked California Chrome in mid-turn.. The horse and rider led into the stretch, the mile gone in 1:35.65. Ride On Curlin, 10th and last early, mounted a challenge. With a furlong left in the race, California Chrome led by daylight with Ride On Curlin three lengths back, having overtaken Social Inclusion in upper stretch. Espinoza showed California Chrome the whip, and he hit the finish line in 1:54.84. Ride On Curlin finished second, beaten 1 1/2 length. Social Inclusion was a distant third, another 6 1/2 lengths back. General a Rod surged late to miss the show spot by a head.

Billy Gowan: “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 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.”

Joel Rosario: “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.”

June 7, Grade I Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/2 Mile. Ride On Curlin bled, according to trainer Billy Gowan, who said he'd be OK. The colt didn't finish the race; he was pulled up coming out of the far turn.

 

SAMRAAT (NY)
Trainer: Rick Violette
Owner: My Meadowview Farm
Breeder: My Meadowview LLC
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Noble Causeway (Giant's Causeway, Mimi's Girl)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Little Mountain Girl (Indian Charlie, Brighter than Gold)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 1-0-9-0-0 (10) 1.22
Foal Date: April 18, 2011

WORKOUTS
On Dec. 31, Samraat breezed four in :50.00 (37/52) at PMM.
On Jan. 9, Samraat breezed four in :48.00 (2/21) at PMM.
On Jan. 17, Samraat breezed a mile in 1:41.85 (1/2) at PMM.
On Jan. 24, Samraat breezed a mile in 1.46:60 (1/1) at PMM.
On Feb. 15, Samraat breezed four in :49:30 (41/83) at PMM.
On Feb. 22, Samraat breezed a mile in 1.45:00 (1/1) at PMM.
On March 15, Samraat breezed four in :50:55 (54/66) at PMM.
On March 22, Samraat breezed a mile in 1.45:15 (1/1) at PMM.
On March 28, Samraat breezed a mile in 1.44:05 (1/1) at PMM.
On April 18, Samraat breezed four in :49:12 (8/19) at BEL.
On April 25, Samraat breezed a mile in 1.45:91 ( 1/1) at AQU.
On May 18, Samraat breezed four in :48:84 (2/15) at AQU.
On May 25, Samraat breezed a mile in 1:41.28 (1/1) at BEL.
On May 31, Samraat breezed a mile in 1:47.55 (1/1) at AQU.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 23 NOTE: "If all goes well in the Withers, I’ll have to decide whether I want to bring him back down here for a month or leave him in New York for the next one,” trainer Violette said to DRF.com from Florida.

Feb. 1, Grade III Withers Stakes, Aqueduct, 1 1/16 Mile. Uncle Sigh and Pablo Morales took the lead early from post 1 with Samraat, ridden by Jose Ortiz, Jr.,  just off their flank on the outside. They stayed in that configuration until they were about to hit the stretch, when Samraat began inching forward. He cleared Uncle Sigh by a length at the wire. Both horses were sent off at even money odds in the field of six. Following early fractions of: 24.00,: 48.33 and 1:12.77, the winning time was 1:46.31. Scotland rallied from last to finish third, beaten 11 1/4 lengths. Classic Giacnroll was 2 3/4 lengths behind him, followed by Honorable Judge and Street Gent.

The chartt call: "Samraat attended Uncle Sigh from the outside while two to three wide throughout shaking away steadily in tandem from the rest of the field down the backside, had his main foe come under coaxing three furlongs out, responded in kind nearing the quarter pole still well clear of the rest, took over narrowly at that station, dug in determined through the length of the stretch as Uncle Sigh fought stubbornly inside, shook away in the final jumps to prevail."

Rick Violette: "It was a long drive. (Uncle Sigh) was kind of tested in his first race. We haven't been. We left the rest of the field. As fast as we went early, it wasn't like all of a sudden somebody from out of the clouds was going to get there. Hats off to both horses. They ran a huge, huge race today, and I think they'll show up later in the year.

"We broke really well. The only thing was we weren't going to just surrender the lead, because then it would have been a quarter in :25 and it would have been no contest. If they were going to go, they were going to have to step on the gas. That was the plan: make them commit, and then we can lay off of them, and that's what happened.

"You got to (have a tough race) before you get to the bigger races. They have to learn how to fight. I really thought that happened to Easy Goer his 3-year-old year. He had never really been in a fight until the Preakness, and he became a better horse after that.

"This was a tough race. We might wait for the Wood Memorial. We're in a good spot now. If he's kind of kicking the walls down he can certainly come back for the Gotham or we can wait for the Wood or the Louisiana Derby. There are a lot of options."

Jose Ortiz: "My horse broke really good, I tried to go out and get the lead. By the half mile I had a lot of horse but he was used already. He ran a big race. At the quarter pole, I thought I had a little more horse; I thought I was going to pass him. My horse didn't pick it up the way I thought he was going to, but he came through. He did a tremendous job, bringing the horse to Palm Meadows and shipping him up here."

March 1, Grade III Gotham Stakes, Aqueduct, 1 1/16 Mile. Samraat edged Uncle Sigh and In Trouble after a thrilling stretch run. Those three were on the engine from the break, with In Trouble getting to the first turn sightly in front of Uncle Sigh and Samraat. They ran in that order around the first turn, up the backstretch, around the second turn and into the lane. In Trouble was on the inside after breaking from the rail, and Samraat was to Uncle Sigh's outside. The first quarter-mile was timed in :23.85, the half in :48.30 and six furlongs in 1:12.30. The same three dueled through the stretch to the wire, with Samraat, ridden by Jose Ortiz, and Uncle Sigh, with Corey Nakatani aboard, barely inching ahead of In Trouble, who had Joe Rocco, Jr. in the saddle. They were 1-2-3 at the furlong marker, and that's how they finished. The final time was 1:44.44 for the 1 1/16-mile Gotham. Only two necks separated the top three finishers.

Rick Violette: "This is a real horse now. We knew he had a shot to be a real horse after the Withers; he proved he is a real horse today. This was a good field. It was a deep field of horses. The weight had me worried. We picked up five pounds from last time; that's a big shift." Are you thinking about the Kentucky Derby? "I'd be lying if I said we weren't already thinking it. At this stage, we didn't want to do anything that would prevent us from going to the Derby. A couple of races before the Derby probably toughens him, but this was another stretch-long, hard duel, but Jose never hit him. He's an honest racehorse, and there might be a little left. Today, he graduated big time. His last race was a terrific race, and this was a notch above that. He was pretty impressive today. He leaves for Florida tomorrow. The Wood is a real possibility. That would be our best option as long as the horse cooperates and tells us that we should get on a plane and come up for it."

Jose Ortiz: "He has a lot of heart, he's a nice horse. We had a good trip, broke from the eight post. As soon as we got to the first turn I was third behind the two leaders, and that's where I wanted to be. He responded very good. In the stretch when I showed him the whip a little bit, he was lugging in, but he never made contact with other horses. I just hand rode him, and he responded very good, and I tried to keep him straight. He runs good when he's in the front, but I rated him the last two times, and he responded and passed horses and kept running. That's a nice horse. I think he's going to handle (more distance) very good."

Leonard Riggio: "We thought he might need a little more time. The horse bounced back pretty quick. He's a magnificent horse, and that was some race."

April 5, Grade I Wood Memorial, Aqueduct, 1 1/18 Mile. Wicked Strong closed down the center of the stretch to win. He relaxed in sixth, four lengths off the lead after a half-mile and was still fourth, two lengths back, with a furlong left. But he easily cleared the field for a 3 1/2-length win in 1:49.31. Schivarelli relinquished the lead to Social Inclusion after a quarter mile run in :23.79. Social inclusion led through fractions of :47.47, 1:11.18 and still was in front by 1 1/2 length after a mile in 1:36.39. But he could not hold off the winner -- and failed to hold off Samraat as well, who edged him by a nose for the place. Samraat was never worse than fourth at any call. Schivarelli was a non-threatening fourth.

Rick Violette: "It's his best race. It's the first time he's been surrounded and covered up, and he handled it. He came back three times. I thought he was going to be fourth the entire (stretch run), and he kept finding more, finding more. Good horses rally from this and get better. Other than win, he got a huge education. As long as he comes out of it all right we'll head to Kentucky.

“I don't think there's anything he can't do; Jose can put him anywhere he wants - behind horses, on the inside, wherever. I don't think the extra eighth of a mile is going to bother him. We kind of did it the hard way. We made the first charge against the horse on the lead and did everybody else's work, and (Wicked Strong) - who's shown signs of talent - came and ran everybody down. I thought he was going to be fourth every step of the way. You just can't ask more from a horse."

Jose Ortiz: "We had a perfect trip. He broke very sharp and I sat behind the favorite, and when I asked him to go, he went, but he was looking at the horse in front of him and he didn't see the other horse come out, but he came out and passed us. I think he did great. He ran a big race."

May 3, Grade I Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 1 1/4 Mile. Samraat finished fifth, beaten 5 3/4 lengths by California Chrome, and nosed out of fourth by Wicked Strong. The winner was timed in 2:03.66.

Rick Violette: “I thought he his ran eyeballs out. He laid it out on the line. The kid rode a terrific race. No second guessing, my horse ran a great race. The winner was just better. We looked him in the eye and he just pulled away. My horse came out of the race good. So far so good. I feel bad for a horse that ran so well and so hard and only got fifth place.”

Jose Ortiz: “He ran very well. He got a perfect trip and broke very well. As soon as I could get clear, I did. After that, I just chased the five horse. I had to move a little because I had to chase him, but he’s a nice horse. As soon as he was asked, he took off.”

June 7, Grade I Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/2 Mile. Samraat finished sixth, beaten four lenghts. Normally a forwardly-running type, was in tight and steadied early and was still last of 11 after a mile, 10 1/4 lengths off the pace.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

Samraat kicked off his career with a 3 1/2 length, front-running win at Belmont Park going six furlongs. Stretched out to 7 1/2 furlongs at Aqueduct, he again went straight to the lead and drew off to win by 5 1/2 lengths.

Dec. 14 NOTE: "He's got a high cruising speed, and I think the two turns will be an asset," said trainer Violette. "There's no reason to think he won't get a mile-and-an-eighth or better. If someone wants to go faster than him, then fine, but they're probably going to have to go real fast."

Dec. 18, Damon Runyon Stakes, Aqueduct, One Mile 70 Yards. At odds-on, Samraat handled two turns racing with a dominating 16 3/4-length win timed in 1:44.09. Away quickly from his inside post, Samraat established early command of the race just a few strides out of the starting gate and set splits of :24.55 and :49.73. Leaving the far turn, Samraat bounded away from the field without being asked by Jose Ortiz, and widened his lead. Finishing a distant second in his first attempt on dirt was the maiden Forever Utopia. He tracked the early lead along the inside, but could not keep pace with the winner in the stretch and had to settle for his fourth second-place finish in five starts. It was another 2 ¾ lengths back to third finisher Deceived, who lunged at the break and rushed up to join the leaders on the backstretch.

Rick Violette: "I thought the two turns would be right up his alley; pedigree-wise it's supposed to be up his alley, and it was. The pace slows down a little bit, he gets into a nice rhythm, and the only thing that concerned me was his preparation. We've had a lot of bad weather, and he missed some training, but he was good enough to overcome that today.

"It's always tense until they cross the wire. It was nice when he opened up at the head of the lane, at that point I certainly thought we were in command, but until they put the hammer down and ask them to run, there have been plenty of horses that looked like they were home until the head of the lane. He's a very nice horse, and I think he's getting better."

On Samraat's next start: "I originally was thinking the Jerome (Jan. 4), but we moved this (the Damon Runyon )back three days because of the weather, and it was going to be tight, anyway, so I'm not sure we make it. I could even send him to Florida for a month just to keep him in training and get him out of the cold weather, then bring him up for the spot after that, which is the Withers (Feb. 1). I think we might have to test open company. If not his next start, then the start after that."

Jose Ortiz:"He's a nice horse. Rick and the team did a tremendous job. The horse usually doesn't break very good, but Rick schooled him a few times, and today he broke really good. He put me on the lead through a slow pace, and when I said 'go' at the quarter pole he kicked away. He rates pretty well. When he feels the other horses, he feels a little keen, but I don't think he needs the lead."

 

TONALIST (KY)
Trainer: Christophe Clement
Owner: Robert S. Evans
Breeder: Woodslane Farm
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Tapit (Pulpit, Tap Your Heels)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Settling Mist (Pleasant Colony, Toll Fee)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index:  5-13-14-1-1 (34) 2.78
Foal Date: Feb. 11, 2011

WORKOUTS
On Feb. 2, Tonalist breezed five in 1:04.00 (13/15) at PAY.
On Feb. 9, Tonalist breezed five in 1.02:30 (7/11) at PAY.
On Feb. 16, Tonalist breezed five in 1.03:10 (1/6) at PAY.
On March 6, Tonalist breezed five in 1.03:40 (4/4) at PAY.
On March 13, Tonalist breezed five in 1.03:00 (1/5) at PAY.
On March 20, Tonalist breezed five in 1.02:60 (1/6) at PAY.
On March 27, Tonalist breezed five in 1.04:00 (6/9) at PAY.
On April 17, Tonalist breezed five in 1.03:40 (5/6) at PAY.
On May 4, Tonalist breezed five in 1.00:12 (1/10) at BEL.
On May 25, Tonalist breezed five in 1.01:66 (19/28) at BEL.
On May 31, Tonalist breezed five in 1:00.14 (8/28) at BEL.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 18, Maiden Special Weight, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/8 Mile. Tonalist broke from post 1 and came from off the pace -- seventh of 12 after a half-mile -- under Joe Bravo to win in a very nice 1:50.21 after going four wide in the second turn. Global Strike finished second, beaten four lengths, and Palace Gate came from eighth in the early running to get third, another 1 1/4 length back. Favored Awesome Sky broke from post 2 and didn't have the best of trips. He finished seventh, beaten 12 3/4 lengths, as the 2-1 favorite. The chart call: "Tonalist switched off the inside early while taking up a position off the second flight racing to the backstretch, commenced a steady advance five deep approaching the far turn to challenge for command in tandem with several rivals, continued to force the issue four deep racing through the second bend, shifted nearer to the inside while contesting the issue outside a rival racing into upper stretch but edged clear late under firm handling."

Feb. 22, Entry Level Allowance/Optional Claiming, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/16 Mile. Under Javier Castellano, Constitution left the gate as the 2-1 favorite in a field of 10, and he won easily. After once again having some difficulty breaking cleanly from the gate, Constitution was soon on the lead with a quarter-mile run in :24.31, the half in :47.71 and six furlongs in 1:11.03. Longshot Big Guy Ian chased Constitution up the backstretch in vain, vying with Tonalist, the 5-2 second choice, for second position. Tonalist kept running and stayed on to get the place, beaten 3 1/4 lengths behind a winning time of 1:42.19. Mexikoma broke from post 10 and trailed the field after a half-mile, 10 1/2 lengths in arrears. He made a quality late run to take the third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Tonalist. Wicked strong finished fourth, beaten 6 1/2 lengths, after also trailing much of the field in the early running.

May 10, Grade II Peter Pan Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/8 Mile. The Belmont Stakes got a new contender as Tonalist easily won on a sloppy track. After breaking a bit slowly, Joel Rosario hustled Tonalist into contention, and Fabulous Kid surrendered the the lead before the half-mile was in the books at :46.83. Our Caravan tracked in third, followed by Commissioner. Javier Castellano and Commissioner took off after Tonalist as the field headed into the far turn, and six furlongs were gone in 1:10.89. The pursuit continued around the turn, and Commissioner, cutting the corner turning for home while saving ground, looked to have a chance. In the meantime, Irish You Well and Matterhorn were trying to close the gap on the leader. But Tonalist bounded away. At the furlong marker, with the mile run in 1:35.63, he led Commissioner by 3 1/2 lengths and won by four. Commissioner ran second. The final time for the one-turn race was 1:48.30.

Christophe Clement: "Joel makes all the calls on track. Obviously, he broke a tad slow, so he sent him and showed more speed than expected, but he was just galloping along easily. You could see he was striding very well. What impressed me was the last eighth of a mile, when he opened up again. I thought he was fit. I was very worried about the wet track. I don't breeze my horses on the wet track so that was a complete question mark. He answered that pretty nicely. This win is nice, it's great; Mr. [Robert] Evans is very happy. Let's see how the horse comes out of it, but of course we have to think about the Belmont Stakes. We're New York people and we're at Belmont."

Joel Rosario: "He was handling everything fine. He broke good, galloped out good. When they opened the gate (he was a little unprepared) and then he figured it out quick. From there, I just had to tap him a little bit and he just took me all the way. He was doing it easy; he was doing it on his own. I don't think we were going that fast. He can go a mile and a half; I think he can run all day. He's a big horse with a long stride, when you get him in the bridle, the more you ask, the more he'll give."

June 7, Grade I Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/2 Mile. Commissioner broke best of all and took the lead going into the first turn, with California Chrome a length behind him on the rail and General a Rod challenging for the lead from the outside after a quarter-mile in :24.06. The field rounded the first turn with Commissioner and General a Rod vying for the lead while Tonalist got involved. California Chrome sat behind them in fourth, and a half-mile was gone in :48.52. Going up the backstretch, Victor Espinoza looked for a way to get California Chrome outside. Meanwhile, Medal Count was moving up the rail into contention. Six furlongs had been run in 1:12.84. Tonalist went three wide into the turn while Espinoza worked his way to the outside of the eventual winner, Commissioner and General a Rod. Medal Count stayed on the rail, and the mile was booked in 1:37.13. As heads turned for home, the leaders were more or less on even terms, and the huge crowd waited for California Chrome to kick away from the field -- but it wasn't to be. Instead, Commissioner edged off and led by a length and a half at the furlong marker. Tonalist wasn't done yet, though, and he kept putting his huge stride to work, getting up at the last second to take the victory away from Commissioner by a head. Medal Count surged to take third, beaten a length. California Chrome held on to dead-heat for fourth with the late-running Wicked Strong, the second betting choice, another three-quarters of a length back. The race was timed in a solid 2:28.52.

Christophe Clement: "It's a great win, it's great for the team, for the staff, for the owner, Mr. Evans, who believed in us. I'm absolutely thrilled. It's wonderful."

"He trained great, he looked great before the race. I'm absolutely delighted that he won."

"I wasn't sure he won. We actually thought he finished second, but we got lucky, he won. It was great."

Did you ever think you'd win the Belmont Stakes when you were growing up in France? "I'm not sure, but I was hoping to win some big races."

Joel Rosario: This is very important to me like always. This is the Belmont, so this is great. This horse, he did very good today. I'm a little bit upset about California Chrome. If I was going to get beat, I wanted to just get beat by him. Yes (it's bittersweet). He is just kind of a big horse, and he has one long stride, and he just grind it, and keeps on going and going, keeps on coming, and he got the job done today."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

Nov. 16, Maiden Special Weight, Aqueduct, One Mile. Tonalist debuted with a fourth-place finish under Joel Rosario, beaten four lengths by Matterhorn. He was seventh in the early going. Harpoon was second, Wolf Den third. This was Tonalist's only 2013 race. The chart call: "Tonalist, three wide and asked by the three-eighths pole, commenced the stretch two paths wider, lacked the needed response."

 

WICKED STRONG (KY)
Trainer: James Jerkens
Owner: Centennial Farms
Breeder: William F. Lynn
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Hard Spun (Danzig, Turkish Tryst)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Moyne Abbey (Charismatic, Classic Approval)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 2-5-11-0-0 (18) 2.27
Foal Date: April 28, 2011

$375,000 Keeneland September 2012.

Named in tribute to the Boston Marathon bombing victims.

WORKOUTS
On Dec. 19, Wicked Strong breezed four in :49.50 (15/35) at PMM.
On Dec. 28, Wicked Strong breezed four in :50.50 (44/54) at PMM.
On Jan. 3, Wicked Strong breezed five in 1:01.00 (2/22) at PMM.
On Jan. 11, Wicked Strong breezed eight in 1:40.05 (1/1) at PMM.
On Jan. 19, Wicked Strong breezed five in 1.00:90 (2/25) at PMM.
On Feb. 8, Wicked Strong breezed four in :48:00 (5/53) at PMM.
On Feb. 16, Wicked Strong breezed five in 1:00.20 (1/32) at PMM.
On March 11, Wicked Strong breezed four in :48:35 (3/20) at PMM.
On March 26, Wicked Strong breezed seven in 1.27:95 (1/1) at PMM.
On April 3, Wicked Strong breezed three on the training track in :37:26 (5/21) at BEL.
On April 17, Wicked Strong breezed four on the training track in :49:62 (14/28) at BEL.
On April 25, Wicked Strong breezed seven on the training track in 1:27.11 (1/1) at BEL.
On May 1, Wicked Strong breezed three in :36:60 (1/26) at CD.
On May 18, Wicked Strong breezed five on the training track in 1.01:84 (1/6) at BEL.
On May 25, Wicked Strong breezed a mile on the training track in 1:39.59 (1/1) at BEL.
On June 1, Wicked Strong breezed five on the training track in :59.10 (1/12) at BEL.

PERFORMANCE AT AGE THREE

Jan. 19 NOTE: Javier Castellano has chosen to ride Wicked Strong instead of Coup de Grace in the Holy Bull.

Jan. 20 NOTE: “People still don’t know how to gauge the (Remsen) because it was so slow – the pace was so slow,” trainer Jerkens said. “It was incredibly slow, and they sprinted home. He was going faster than all of them. He beat a nice horse (breaking his maiden). The horse that was second of John Shirreff’s (Cool Samurai) ended up going out to California to win his next race. I think it was a nice field my colt beat, and he came back good and ran good in the Remsen. All his races are legit. He’s a nice colt; he’s got good wind; he’s good and strong; and he’s got a bit of a streak in him, which is good. He’s a tough horse to handle, but he puts it all together on the track. He doesn’t cheat on the track. He’s all business when he gets out there.”

Jan. 25, Grade II Miller Lite Holy Bull Stakes, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/16 Mile. One of the biggest disappointments in the race was Wicked Strong, the 4-1 third choice off an 8-1 morning line partially on the strength of Javier Castellano being on his back for the first time. He was fractious at the gate, dismounting Castellano. Once the race started, he essentially ran in place in eighth position much of the way before checking in ninth. The chart call: "Wicked Strong, reserved off the pace, stopped."

Feb. 22, Entry Level Allowance/Optional Claiming, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/16 Mile. Under Javier Castellano, Constitution left the gate as the 2-1 favorite in a field of 10, and he won easily. After once again having some difficulty breaking cleanly from the gate, Constitution was soon on the lead with a quarter-mile run in :24.31, the half in :47.71 and six furlongs in 1:11.03. Longshot Big Guy Ian chased Constitution up the backstretch in vain, vying with Tonalist, the 5-2 second choice, for second position. Tonalist kept running and stayed on to get the place, beaten 3 1/4 lengths behind a winning time of 1:42.19. Mexikoma broke from post 10 and trailed the field after a half-mile, 10 1/2 lengths in arrears. He made a quality late run to take the third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Tonalist. Wicked strong finished fourth, beaten 6 1/2 lengths, after also trailing much of the field in the early running.

April 5, Grade I Wood Memorial, Aqueduct, 1 1/18 Mile. Wicked Strong closed down the center of the stretch to win. Under Rajiv Maragh, he relaxed in sixth, four lengths off the lead after a half-mile and was still fourth, two lengths back, with a furlong left. But he easily cleared the field for a 3 1/2-length win in 1:49.31. Schivarelli relinquished the lead to Social Inclusion after a quarter mile run in :23.79. Social inclusion led through fractions of :47.47, 1:11.18 and still was in front by 1 1/2 length after a mile in 1:36.39. But he could not hold off the winner -- and failed to hold off Samraat as well, who edged him by a nose for the place. Samraat was never worse than fourth at any call. Schivarelli was a non-threatening fourth.

Jimmy Jerkens: "I thought he was training well enough in Florida, but he didn't show up in the afternoon for some reason. I felt good seeing all the Palm Meadows horses running well today. When I saw him laying five lengths off the lead, just galloping, I really felt we had a big shot. He was really comfortable laying relatively close behind a pretty fast pace.

"We were looking at the Florida Derby and the Wood Memorial, and the closer we got to both races, I decided I was going to train him up to the Wood down in Florida. The horses that come from behind in Florida, the kickback really bothered him down there.

"I said to Rajiv, 'It's great to save ground all the way, but if you can get him to that crown on the stretch, go ahead.' They were taking off out there all day.

Q: You came close to going to the Derby several years ago with Quality Road, how does this feel?

"I'd love to get another crack at it, that's for sure. Looks like a horse where distance shouldn't bother him."

Rajiv Maragh: "It all unfolded well. I was going to let the horse dictate where he wanted to be. He fell into a nice groove early, and he finished up really strong. It seemed like he had a lot left, and coming down the lane I was just thinking 'Let's go to the wire first.' It worked out good.

"Handicapping the race, you would think there was going to be a contested pace. I really wasn't so much concerned with the fractions; I just wanted my horse to get happy early, to get into a nice rhythm and take it from there."

"He ran awesome in the Remsen, but he was a little green and that might have cost him the race. I felt like I had, probably, the horse to win that day. Today, he was really more mature, more settled, and it made him have a lot more to finish with, I think.

"To me, he's the Derby favorite right now. In my book, anyway. He showed that more distance is going to be better for him. He's really maturing at the right time now, and there's a lot left in the tank, so I don't think we're at the bottom of him, yet."

Don Little of Centennial Farm: "Rajiv rode him perfectly. He rode him in the Remsen and did a great job. When we decided to run in this race, we instantly called him. He fits him; he knows him. We talked before the race. He waited, and we were hoping it would go off with the speed like it did in :23 and :47 and a tick and we had something to run at, and he came running."

May 3, Grade I Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, 1 1/4 Mile. Wicked Strong finished a late-running fourth, beaten 5 3/4 lengths by California Chrome, after bumping or bothering several horses during the early running. The winner was timed in 2:03.66.

Jimmy Jerkens: “I thought he ran decent. He didn’t accelerate fast enough to go through the holes that were opening and those closed up on him quickly. He was making nice forward motion at the end though and that was encouraging.”

Rajiv Maragh: “He ran well. The trip played out pretty good. Going into the last turn, I felt like I was in a position where if he picked it up from there like he did in the Wood Memorial he would be able to get a big piece of it. He came on at the end. He broke really sharp and was well behaved. He was just fourth best.”

June 7, Grade I Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, 1 1/2 Mile. Commissioner broke best of all and took the lead going into the first turn, with California Chrome a length behind him on the rail and General a Rod challenging for the lead from the outside after a quarter-mile in :24.06. The field rounded the first turn with Commissioner and General a Rod vying for the lead while Tonalist got involved. California Chrome sat behind them in fourth, and a half-mile was gone in :48.52. Going up the backstretch, Victor Espinoza looked for a way to get California Chrome outside. Meanwhile, Medal Count was moving up the rail into contention. Six furlongs had been run in 1:12.84. Tonalist went three wide into the turn while Espinoza worked his way to the outside of the eventual winner, Commissioner and General a Rod. Medal Count stayed on the rail, and the mile was booked in 1:37.13. As heads turned for home, the leaders were more or less on even terms, and the huge crowd waited for California Chrome to kick away from the field -- but it wasn't to be. Instead, Commissioner edged off and led by a length and a half at the furlong marker. Tonalist wasn't done yet, though, and he kept putting his huge stride to work, getting up at the last second to take the victory away from Commissioner by a head. Medal Count surged to take third, beaten a length. California Chrome held on to dead-heat for fourth with the late-running Wicked Strong, the second betting choice, another three-quarters of a length back. The race was timed in a solid 2:28.52.

Jimmy Jerkens: "From what I could see, I thought he was in a pretty good spot. He just didn't have any real punch. He just kept grinding. I thought it looked like he was starting to make a move and somebody was right with him the entire way. He couldn't shake loose, but he ran pretty good. He didn't get beat far."

Rajiv Maragh: "The pace was kind of slow to materialize, but we were in a good spot all the way. We had a fair shot at it; we just couldn't quite get there. He kept on and never gave up. He tried his best. He sure belongs with these horses. He's one of the top 3-year-olds. He ran good."

PERFORMANCE AT AGE TWO

After finishing second to Manhattan Johnnie in his Sept 21 debut at Belmont Park, Wicked Strong broke his maiden at Belmont on Oct. 26, prevailing by two lengths over a closing Cool Samurai. Never far back, Wicked Strong had the lead passing the quarter-mile pole in 1:11.23 and easily held off the second finisher. His time was 1:37.09.

Nov. 30, Grade II Remsen Stakes, Aqueduct, 1 1/8 Mile. Wicked Strong finished third, beaten only a half-length by Honor Code, who nosed out Cairo Prince at the wire. He was sent off at 10-1 odds under Rajiv Maragh. The race had a very slow pace as Master Lightning went the first six furlongs in 1:17.96. Honor Code's final time was 1:52.92. Wicked Strong was fifth at the first call, 3 1/2 lengths off the pace, then ran between 1 1/2 to three lengths back of the lead until the final furlong. He was green in the stretch. The chart call: "Wicked Strong tossed his head at the start, getting off a bit awkward, settled just off the pace just off the inside, came under encouragement at the five-sixteenths, angled four wide for home, rallied with good energy erratically shying from the stick through the lane a bit green, finished well steadily gaining on the front pair to secure the show."

Jimmy Jerkens: "Anytime they finish strong, it's good. With the slow pace, everyone was in the same boat. He had a nice ground-saving trip."

 

 

 

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