Last Updated April 23 at 7:54 p.m. ET
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MATT KING COLE
Owner: Treadway Racing Stable; Breeder: Monticule; Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-3-8-0-0 (16) 3.00; By Any Given Saturday (Distorted Humor, Weekend in Indy) out of Sharp Minister (CAN) (Deputy Minister (CAN), Sharp Call (CAN)); Foal Date: March 10, 2013; $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October 2014; Trainer: Leah Gyarmati
NEXT RACE: Kentucky Derby? If not, the Peter Pan.
Going six furlongs at Aqueduct on Dec. 19, he won at first asking after stalking the pace in second. Connections sent him right into the Withers, and he finished third, 1 3/4 length behind Sunny Ridge, after running a little greenly.
In the March 5 Gotham Stakes, favored Shagaf rated in fourth while on the inside up the backstretch behind fractions of 23.33 and 47.16, kept running toward pacesetter Laoban in the stretch and got up in the final strides to prevail over him by 1 1/4 length in 1:45.90. Adventist nipped Sunny Ridge for third after the latter one challenged Laoban and was repelled. He was again a little green. The track was favoring early speed on this day.
Leah Gyarmati - "He ran great. He's definitely learning. Each race has been a new challenge for him, and he's stepped forward. He still has a lot to learn. I think distance is going to help him, and each experience is going to make him a better horse. He makes his run, but he's still young and figuring it out. He's going in the right direction. We'll probably look at the Wood."
April 2 NOTE: Trainer Gyarmati said, "He is doing fantastic. He's been on a regular breeze schedule, his breezes have been great: strong gallops to the pole and really good gallop-outs. So it's probably been more work than it looks like on paper. The three-quarters the other day was really the gallop out. He went five-eighths and galloped out three-quarters and ended up galloping out the full mile. I couldn't ask for anything better, he's doing really well.
On his greenness in the Withers and the Gotham: "And I don't think he was always as green as it looked; there was a lot of bumping going on and it wasn't just him. I thought he was pretty professional when he got walloped a few times and he just kept on digging in and outfinished the horses he was bumping with. He's got some fight in him. Obviously, when you have a horse with talent and they're really giving you a big effort, you wonder if you're one bump or one duck in from being second or winning that race because you lose momentum when that happens. But that's tempered with being very excited about having a nice horse. I try not to cry too much."
On April 9, Adventist came on late to finish third in the Wood Memorial on a muddy track. Outwork was tenacious winning the Wood Memorial on a muddy track at Aqueduct. The time was a less than torrid 1:52.92, and perhaps that can be chalked up to the condition of the track. After contesting fractions of 22.91, 46.93 and 1:12.31 with Matt King Coal, Outwork stayed on while the other one regressed. Ridden by John Velazquez, Outwork outfought the rail-hugging Trojan Nation, sent off at 81-1 odds after going winless in five starts at Santa Anita, to the wire to win by a head. Owner Mike Repole said after the race he thinks Outwork would have lost had there been another jump in the race. Adventist came on in the stretch to finish third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths,edging Matt King Coal by a neck. Shagaf, the 9-5 post-time favorite, disappointed to finish fifth, another 1 1/2 length back.
Leah Gyarmati, trainer Adventist - "He ran fantastic He went a little wide on the second turn, but that I guess that's the way things worked out on the second turn if you wanted a free run. He beat some nice horses; he beat the horses that were picked to win. He shows up every time. He's a legitimate horse. With the third-place we earn enough points ... we'll talk with Mr. Treadway and decide form there."
Kendrick Carmouche, aboard Adventist - "He just keeps getting better every start. He's a young horse. I was proud of the way he ran today."
THE NEXT DAY: Trainer Gyarmati said, "I thought he ran a huge race as he always does. Starting out, Kendrick had to ask him going into the first turn and then had to ask him again towards the finish after having to move out from the rail four-wide and into the seventh path towards the finish. We'll let everybody else's plans dictate the decision we make on the Derby. I haven't talked to Jeff yet, but if it happens that would be great. He came out of the race great, ate up all his feed and we know he can get the 1 1/4 mile distance with the trips he's encountered so we'll see."
April 22 NOTE: Trainer Gyarmati said of a workout the day before, "It was really a maintenance work. I was happy with the way he did it, and I thought his gallop-out was good, too." Gyarmati said there was a possibility the colt could be shipped to Churchill Downs or he could remain in New York for the Peter Pan on May 14 or await the Preakness on May 21. "It will be up to Jeff," she said. "There are a lot of options, and right now, they're all open."
AWESOME SPEED (KY)
Owner: Colts Neck Stables LLC; Breeder: Allen Poindexter & Adena Springs; Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 7-11-18-0-0 (36) 3.00; By Awesome Again (Deputy Minister, Primal Force) out of Speedy Escape (Aptitude, Great Escape); Foal Date: March 13, 2013 $80,000 Keeneland September 2014/$335,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida March 2015; Trainer: Alan Goldberg
NEXT RACE: TBD. Won the Frederico Tesio, a Win and You're In race for the Preakness for the first time this year.
Awesome Speed won two of three races at age two, both of them sprinting at Laurel, and one of them the James F. Lewis Stakes.
He won the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 2, timed for the mile in 1:35.97 after attending a pace of 46.69 and possessing the lead at 1:10.69.
Feb. 21 NOTE: Awesome Speed breezed four in 48.30. Trainer Goldberg said, “He went great. He got off in 13, went 48 and 1 or 2, galloped out in a minute and change, and galloped out three-quarters in 1:14. He came back fine and not blowing. Everything is all good. We’re ready. He’s coming into the race great. We’ve got six more days, everything’s all good. Hopefully there won’t be any hiccups.”
Feb. 24 NOTE: Irad Ortiz Jr. takes the reins from Joel Rosario, who broke his wrist in a spill at Gulfstream Feb. 20. Trainer Goldberg said of the horse, showing much humility, “He does everything pretty easy, and he’s going into the race well. If we can get Kiaran’s horse not to run and maybe Awesome Banner not to run and a few of those others, we’ll have a good shot.”
Feb. 25 NOTE: Trainer Goldberg said, “He won at a mile so it’s (Fountain of Youth) not that much further. It should be easier for him. His bottom half, she was a sprinter but I don’t think he’ll have any problem going a little further. It won’t be a problem until it’s a problem. We’ve got to find out at some point. That was the plan all along, run in the Macho Man and then run in the Fountain of Youth. I didn’t want to run a lot of times down there. There’s the Fountain of Youth, obviously, but then the Florida Derby. We purchased him at Fasig-Tipton so we’d get a $1 million bonus if we won that race, so that was our deal I don’t think he was tops for the Macho Man. He had some skin disease and he wasn’t 100 percent. Right now he’s 100 percent so we’ll see how he runs. I think we’ll be sitting second or third off of Awesome Banner. I think he’s got to go to the front. This horse will rate. You don’t have to send him. He gets himself into the race. He’s very ratable. I think he’ll be fine.”
It wasn't Awesome Speed's day in the Feb. 27 Fountain of Youth. He finished fourth at 7-1 odds, beaten 13 lengths. After six furlongs, he was four lengths off the pace, but at the furlong marker, he was 10 lengths back. The chart call: "Awesome Speed was forwardly placed after being bumped soon after the start, raced five-wide through the second turn and lacked the needed closing response."
On April 9, Awesome Speed won the Federico Tesio Stakes via disqualification of Governor Malibu and earning an automatic berth in the Preakness Stakes. Favored at 3-5 in a field of six, Awesome Speed finished a nose behind Governor Malibu after leading from the gate into deep stretch. He was promoted to the victory following Governor Malibu’s disqualification to second for interference in the final sixteenth of a mile. Ridden for the first time by Jevian Toledo, Awesome Speed broke sharply from post 4 and set comfortable fractions of 25.60 for the quarter-mile, 50.93 for the half and 1:15.79 after six furlongs under slight pressure on his outside from Never Gone South. Governor Malibu and Horacio Karamanos raced three wide down the backstretch and began to launch a bid rounding the far turn as Never Gone South dropped back. Awesome Speed dug in on the inside as Governor Malibu challenged down the middle of the track, then veered in several paths and bumped Awesome Speed after Karamanos switched the whip to his right hand. The winning time was 1:53.31 over a good main track.
Alan Goldberg - “It’s pretty good spacing, that’s the main thing. We’d have enough time. I think it would be good. We’ll have to see how the Kentucky Derby shakes out and all that, and see what’s what. It was great and I’m glad we won it. It would have been a tough beat. To be honest, I was watching the TV and I didn’t see him get in, but you could see it on the head-on pretty clearly. I think we probably would have won, but when the horse hit him it made him change leads and he kind of lost his momentum. He claimed foul and then there was the inquiry. He thought he was coming down. He thought he would have won the race if he hadn’t been hit. (The Preakness is) a good option now; at least he got (the distance). I don’t know if the horse is one of the best horses, but at least he showed he’ll get two turns with this bunch, and I guess with a free run in the Preakness. We might take it.”
Owner: Alto Racing, LLC; Breeder: Mike Connelly; Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 8-2-11-3-0 (24) 1.82; By Scat Daddy (Johannesburg, Love Style) out of Miss Ocean City (Mineshaft, Madam Lagonza) Foal Date: Jan. 26, 2013; $300,000 Keeneland September 2014; Trainer: Todd Pletcher
NEXT RACE: To be determined
Azar made his debut in July, finishing seventh in a six-furlong turf sprint before stretching out to 1 1/16 mile on the grass, resulting in a close second-place finish after he did all the heavy lifting on the lead. Stakes company was to be next.
In the Sept. 2 With Anticipation Stakes going 1 1/16 mile on turf, Azar broke from post 2 in a short field, stalked the pace, then responded when asked to break his maiden in his third start. He won by 3/4 length at 11-1 odds. He settled just behind Next Shares as he led through opening splits of 23.19 and 47.16. He continued to hug the hedge rounding the turn and into the stretch, taking off when asked with a furlong left and going on to complete the distance in 1:41.68. Next Shares held for second, with Unbridled Daddy another 2 1/2 lengths back in third. Favored Site Read checked in fourth, followed by Monster Bea and Runaway King.
Todd Pletcher: "I thought he ran a much-improved race last time. He was on the lead most of the way, and came back and worked really well. We were thinking of maybe running back in a maiden race when this came up a short field. It is not something we do often, but we felt like with two-race experience, and that he did everything except win last time. He sold us on the last breeze; he acted like he was doing well and improved since the race. He was much better today; Johnny thought he was much more focused and more professional following horses. He gave a big last hundred yards."
John Velazquez: "It worked out better today. The last time he ended up being on the lead and getting out and looking around and not really focused on what he needed to do. Today he was following somebody and when I pulled him out, he responded right away. Coming to the last turn I had to squeeze him pretty good, and once I got him going and I put him to the outside and he saw the light, that's when he started running."
Sept. 20 NOTE: Trainer Pletcher said, "Right now it looks like we're going to the Pilgrim but we haven't decided for sure. He came out of it well. I thought it was a big effort for a maiden to win a stakes. He seems to have improved with each start, so I hope he continues on that pattern."
Next, Azar finished second to Isotherm in the Pilgrim at Belmont. He engaged in a poor effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland, finishing 13th of 14 at 15-1 odds. He was in striking position hitting the far turn but then got a poor trip in the balance of the race.
Pilgrim chart call: "Azar bobbled as the field was sent on its way, was placed in the two path in midpack, kept within range of the front runners, was given his cue coimmencing the stretch a bit wider, appeared to be the first to reach the furlong marker with a hoard of rivals still in the thick of things right behind, dug in with good detemination trying to fend off two rivals late, yielded reluctantly and had to settle for the place.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf chart call: "Azar saved ground, was bumped and put in tight in upper stretch and failed to recover."
The Kitten's Joy Stakes on Jan. 30 at Gulfstream Park was next, and he finished third. This time he stalked in third most of the race but was outrun in the lane by J R's Kitten, who closed to get by him inside the furlong marker. Don't Be So Salty set the pace and held off Azar for second. The chart call: "Azar as bumped at the start, settled off the leaders from the inside early, angled out into the lane, checked late while rallying and finished willing.
Azar made his first start on dirt and his seventh overall in a 1 1/16-mile dirt allowance at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 28. He won after stalking the pace and surging to the lead in the stretch in a visually impressive effort.
Todd Pletcher: “I thought Azar responded really well. From the outside post, he put himself in decent position and he closed resolutely down the lane. It was a good effort from him. I think we put ourselves in a position where we have some options. He’s run well on the turf, and he’s run well on turf, so I think that puts everything in play, including maybe Polytrack. Maybe the Spiral. We’ll see how he comes out of it.”
March 31 NOTE: After drawing wide for the Spiral, trainer Pletcher said, “Hopefully we can maneuver a trip from out there. He’s overcome a wide post before and hopefully he can do it again. We had a few options to consider since he’s run well on both turf and dirt. We felt like the synthetic angle for horses like that with a little bit of turf pedigree and success on the turf might be to his liking.”
At 23-1 odds, Oscar Nominated ran down Todd Pletcher trainee Azar by a neck in the final strides of the April 2 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. Brian Hernandez, Jr. picked up the mount after Robby Albarado had to take off the horse after not making weight.Oscar Nominated came from sixth, 3 1/2 lengths offf the pace after the first quarter-mile of the race. Azar, meanwhile, prompted a pace of 23.22 before setting fractions of 48.23, 1:13.62 and 1:38.74. The final time was 1:51.12. Surgical Strike was a closing third and finished just another neck back of Azar. Two Step Time was in turn a neck back of Surgical Strike and just a nose in front of Ralis at the finish.
The chart call: "Azar contested the pace three wide, fought on through a prolonged drive, but was turned away in the shadow of the wire."
Manuel Franco - “He ran hard all the way. He was a little tough to handle in the beginning. The outside post wasn’t a problem. I saw the other horse coming, but my horse kept trying.”
CHERRY WINE (KY)
Owner: William Pacella and Frank L. Jones Jr.; Breeder: Pacella Racing, Frank L. Jones Jr., Frank Shoop; Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 7-9-6-2-0 (24) 3.80; By Paddy O'Prado (El Prado (IRE), Fun House) out C. S. Royce (Unbridled's Song, Sweeping Story); Foal Date: Feb. 13, 2013; No auction sale; Trainer: Dale Romans
NEXT START: Kentucky Derby? Preakness? Arrived at Churchill Downs April 3 - Barn 4
Cherry Wine debuted at Saratoga and needed four more starts to break his maiden, graduating with a 9 1/4-length victory Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs to cap his juvenile campaign. He was timed in 1:46.83 for 1 1/16 mile. He came from eighth, 5 3/4 lengths back, at the first call.
On Jan. 9, Cherry Wine won by six lengths in his first try against winners in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 9. His time was considerably faster, 1:44.37. He again came from well off the pace, last of eight and 8 1/4 lengths back of the frontrunner after the first quarter-mile -- not always an easy feat at Gulfstream Park. The runner-up, Battery, came back to win in a similar spot, but at 1 1/8 mile, on Feb. 10.
Feb. 11 NOTE: Trainer Romans said, “He’s training great. He’s a horse that never really seems to have a bad day. He’s just getting mentally more into the game all along. It took him a while to figure it out. His last two races have been spectacular, and he’s just been very simple to train.”
Feb. 13 NOTE: Trainer Romans said after a workout, “He went very well. He went easy. It looked like he was going slower and he went in 59 and one. He did it right and galloped out good, came back good. We thought about going in the Holy Bull originally, but it was just going to be too many races going into the Derby if we think he’s a true contender. So we decided to skip and run in (the Fountain of Youth) and the Florida Derby. If he gets enough points and he looks like he fits, we’ll go.”
That plan didn't work out at all. Cherry Wine didn't compete in either race.
March 18 NOTE: Trainer Romans said, “I think (the time it took to break his maiden) was all mental. He was physically always a nice horse. He just hadn’t figured out how to run. His father didn’t break his maiden until February of his 3-year-old year. Some horses take a while to come around. Some horses have the talent but don’t have the drive to compete just yet. Then when they figure out why they’re there and what they’re trying to do, they become better horses. And that’s what happened to him." On the Rebel: “It might be the most even fields of a Derby prep we’ve had this year. It looks like a strong bunch. I sure would rather have had the five-hole, but we’ll see what happens from the outside. I have the best rider in the country on him, and he should be able to figure out what to do."
Cherry Wine finished a troubled fourth, but it was Cupid held off Whitmore to win the Rebel Stakes on March 19. Creator finished third but didn't threaten for the win. After exiting post 3, Cupid led 13 rivals through fractions of 22.96, 46.82 and 1:12.11 while being tracked by Siding Spring and Madtap. The especially moderate third quarter-mile allowed him to keep just enough in reserve to win after Whitmore surged to his side mid-stretch. Whitmore eased off and finished second by 1 1/4 length. Creator, who like Cupid is a gray son of Tapit, came on willingly for third, beaten three lengths. Another 1 3/4 length back in fourth was Cherry Wine, who edged Suddenbreakingnews by a head. The latter horse had to check after encountering traffic in the far turn. The final time was 1:43.84.
The chart call: "Cherry Wine near the back off the inside three wide in the far turn when beginning to rally, traffic, split foes in the three path into the lane, improved position with some modest late interest."
Dale Romans – “ I thought that he ran an impressive race, and a Derby-horse style race. It was a big field, he split horses, bounced around and kept running. He’ll only improve when they stretch out. I’m going to sit back and look at all the options. Baffert’s the best. He’s good at everything he does. He can win everything but the Travers."
Corey Lanerie – “He doesn’t have any speed, so it worked out good. I got over. The second turn, I had to make a decision to go out or stay in and I stayed in. I had a trip. I think the added distance will only help my horse."
On April 9, Cherry Wine was edged for the place by My Man Sam in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes after coming from far off the pace. Meanwhile, Brody's Cause, eleventh of 14 runners after a half-mile run in a brisk 46.75 by pacesetter Laoban, won the race. While Loaban stayed on the lead through six furlongs in 1:11.44, Brody's Cause was getting ready to make his move. Ninth at that point, and 6 1/4 lengths off the pace, he was on the lead two furlongs later with the mile gone in 1:37.26. He stayed on to win in 1:50.20, prevailing by 1 3/4 length. For a few moments in the stretch run, it looked like Cherry Wine might round out the exacta. My Man Sam got to him in the final jump, eking out the place by a head. Both horses also came from far off the pace. My Man Sam had to work out a good trip after breaking from post 14. Cherry Wine broke from post 3. Loaban hung around for fourth, beaten 4 3/4 lengths.
Dale Romans - (Cherry Wine) ran a huge race, too. We’ll take him too and take a one-two punch in the Kentucky Derby.”
Corey Lanerie, rider of Cherry Wine - “The first turn got a little rough. I don't know if something was happening on the outside, but we got bounced around a little bit. Other than that, it was pretty good. He settled in nice. Brody’s Cause came by me about the half-mile pole, and I jumped in his wake and tried to follow him through. We got to the outside, and it was a horse race. Brody’s Cause was just a better horse today. My horse gave me all he had. In the last couple of jumps, we got caught for second; that was disappointing. I was really happy with my horse; he gave me every ounce he had. He ran hard."
Owner: Speedway Stable LLC; Breeder: Runnymede Farm Inc. & Peter J. Callahan; Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 10-5-7-0-0 (22) 5.29; By City Zip (Carson City, Baby Zip) out Helena Bay (GB) (Johannesburg, Josette); Foal Date: March 24, 2013; $150,000 Keeneland September 2014/$170,000 OBS March 2015; Trainer: Bob Baffert
NEXT START: Said to be out of consideration for the Kentucky Derby, but maybe the Preakness could come into play.
Collected started his career on the turf, winning his debut on the Santa Anita downhill course and finishing second in the one-mile Cecil B. DeMille Stakes.
Collected handily won the Sham Stakes on Jan. 9. Always close, he was on the lead turning for home and hit the finish line in 1:38.00. Let's Meet in Rio was second, and Laoban was third after sitting fifth for the first half-mile.
In the Southwest Stakes, Collected finished fourth as the 5-2 favorite after breaking from the rail. Suddenbreakingnews broke from post 13 and was 14th of 14 after a half-mile, but he won with a seven-wide move, flashing down the stretch to prevail in the final strides under Luis Quinonez. His time was 1:45.14 on a track rated good that had been producing slower times all day. Whitmore broke last after being upset in the gate and was 11th after a half-mile. He came on in the far turn and stretch to get the place, beaten 2 3/4 lengths. American Dubai, a 21-1 longshot, was second until taking a lead in the stretch, but he faded a bit to hit the wire third, 3 1/4 lengths back of the winner.
Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes - “I would have liked to have been close to the lead, on the lead. A lot of horses in the race and you get shoved around. You're in the gate forever. But the bottom line is you've got to get out there and run, and he didn't.”
Connections next opted to send Collected to Sunland Park. The Sunland Park Derby had been cancelled and an ungraded stakes race replaced it. He went to the lead and held off Gettysburg to win by two lengths in 1:48.90 on a course that's known to produce fast times.
In the Lexington on April 17, Javier Castellano and Collected popped right out of post 10 and positioned themselves second behind 40-1 shot One More Round around the first turn. That's the way things stood until Collected reeled in One More Round at the top of the stretch and went on to win by four lengths. He was timed in 1:43.33. Following One More Round under the finish line in third was Synchrony. He was followed by Direct Message, Yo Carm, 2-1 favorite Swipe, Lomcevak, Riker, Call the Colonel and Big Squeeze. Collected contested splits of 23.57, 47.47 and 1:11.73. Collected was on the lead after a mile in 1:36.82 and finished the final sixteenth-mile in 6.51.
Peter Fluor, partner in Speedway Stables, winning owner of Collected - “I was very impressed with. Bob did a very good job getting him ready. Lot of good horses in the race.
I think (the Preakness) would be the most logical step, given the distance. We’ll see how he comes out, but that would be a thrill for us.”
Javier Castellano - “What an impressive horse. I really liked the way he did it. He broke well out of the gate, and he wanted to dictate the pace today. I tried to sit a little bit behind the pacemaker. Turning for home, I really like the way he accelerated. When I asked, he really responded. I was really satisfied today.” Could Collected like longer distances? “I think so. The way he galloped out past the wire, I was very impressed.”
Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith; Breeder: JKG Thoroughbreds LLC; Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-12-14-1-0 (32) 3.00; By Tapit (Pulpit, Tap Your Heels) out of Pretty 'n Smart (Beau Genius (CAN), Charge Daffaires (CAN)); Foal Date: May 19, 2013; $900,000 Keeneland September 2014; Trainer: Bob Baffert
NEXT RACE: Arrived April 18 at Churchill Downs - But announcement about surgery for an entrapped epiglottis spoiled any Derby hopes
After finishing fourth and second sprinting at Los Alamitos on Dec. 20 and Santa Anita on Jan. 9, Cupid broke his maiden at Santa Anita on Feb. 7 in his third career start and first going two turns. After stumbling at the break, Cupid regained his footing and relaxed two lengths off the pace in fourth position under Martin Garcia. He moved up on the far turn while wide and swept to the lead while wider still in upper stretch. He veered in a bit as he got by the leader but was corrected easily by Garcia and prevailed by 5 1/4 lengths over pacesetter Inhibition. Trojan Nation was next. Seven ran. The time for 1 1/16 mile was 1:43.78, just three lengths off the winning time of Mor Spirit in the Bob Lewis Stakes the day before.
Cupid was entered in the March 12 San Felipe Stakes, but he was withdrawn from the race with the Rebel Stakes in mind.
March 16 NOTE: Cupid arrived at Oaklawn yesterday and was on the track today. Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said, “It was a light day today after a travel day yesterday. We were just showing him the track this morning, and we’ll get a little more serious with him tomorrow when he’ll gallop a mile and a half. It will be just our regular routine for him all week. I like Cupid. He’s lightly raced, but he turned out to be a good horse. It was just a matter of stretching him out. We ran him short, and he needs to run long. The distance of this race shouldn’t be any kind of problem for him with his pedigree, and from the way he ran, he definitely likes the two turns.”
Cupid followed up his maiden with win a front-running victory in the Rebel Stakes on March 19. It was trainer Baffert’s sixth victory in the race in the last seven years. His other winners were Lookin at Lucky, Secret Circle, The Factor, Hoppertunity and American Pharoah.
After exiting post 3, Cupid led 13 rivals through fractions of 22.96, 46.82 and 1:12.11 while being tracked by Siding Spring and Madtap. The especially moderate third quarter-mile allowed him to keep just enough in reserve to win after Whitmore surged to his side mid-stretch. Whitmore eased off and finished second by 1 ¼ length. Creator, who like Cupid is a gray son of Tapit, came on willingly for third, beaten three lengths. Another 1 3/4 length back in fourth was Cherry Wine, who edged Suddenbreakingnews by a head. The latter horse had to check after encountering traffic in the far turn. The final time was 1:43.84.
The chart call: "Cupid broke behind the leaders, used to secure inside position up front into the first turn, pace, given a breather into the far turn when maintaining daylight advantage, dipped in when straightened for home, continued to hold a daylight edge past the furlong marker, responded when the runner up challenged late, kicked clear again in the waning strides in finding more."
Martin Garcia - “It’s hard for horses to break their maiden and then step up to this kind of company with this many people around and win, but he did. He’s still green. When we hit the top of the stretch, he got lonely and he locked in on the other horse that was coming up on the outside he responded one more time. He showed a lot of ability and we know he can run. He really proved today that he is improving. The distance doesn’t matter, he can go as far as he wants.”
Bob Baffert - "You never know what they're going to do when they ship, and when there are 14 horses. He missed the break a little bit, and I had told Martin that the last time we went there we got destroyed leaving the gate. Once he got the lead down the backside, he was going pretty fast. He showed he's improving and he's a fast horse. Down the backside, he looked like he was really doing it easier than the time said. Turning for home, I don't know what it was, but he looked a little green there and lost a little momentum. He was on the rail tight and was probably looking around. He was maybe too close to the rail, and I've seen horses do that. He's a lightly raced horse.
"I am so happy that he ran so well, especially for Martin. He works so hard getting these horses ready, and he got the win. I'm happy for the Coolmore gang, too. I knew going in he was a nice horse. But he never had been tested, and that was a pretty strong bunch. That was like the Tapit Rebel.
"I was sweating at the break when he didn't break. I was worried they were going to close up on him like that they did with Collected last time. But once he got him rolling...when that horse came rolling down the middle of the stretch I thought we'll see hat he's made of. That's when we realized what he's made of. He started to kick back in. That what you want to see this time of year, them showing some grit and some guts. He looked fantastic in the paddock and the post parade. He was ready to run, and he ran like he looked. We'll bring him back here, as long as he doesn't get light on us. He likes a little time in between his races. I'm just really happy."
THE NEXT DAY: Trainer Baffert said, “He came back well from his race and he's doing well today. We're hoping to come back with him for the Arkansas Derby."
ROMANS' TWO CENTS: Trainer Romans said, “They could have pressed that horse gate to wire and they weren’t going to beat him. He’s better than us. He was the best horse that day. That doesn’t mean he’ll be the best horse the first Saturday in May. But he’s in the best hands, one thing about it."
Cupid disappointed badly in the Arkansas Derby on April 16. Creator, who won the race, came away from the gate last. Gettysburg, with the same owner as Creator, set quick fractions of 22.81, 46.33 and 1:10.61, closely pursued by 4-5 favorite Cupid. That one spit the bit after six furlongs and finished 10th of 12.
Jimmy Barnes, assistant to Bob Baffert - “We were done early, basically. I think the fractions probably took a toll on us. But that’s racing. I know Martin wanted to get him in the clear, which he did. But, unfortunately he got in the clear and they were rolling right along.”
Martin Garcia - “It wasn’t his day today. He was too excited. I was trying to save him and tried to get a position with him. I started on the rail and slowly moved him out and was second. When I asked him to go at the 3/8ths, he wasn’t responding. We had nowhere to go. I asked him and he didn’t respond. Next time.”
April 18 NOTE: Regarding Cupid's diagnosis of entrapped epiglottis, causing him to miss the Kentucky Derby, the Merck Vet Manuals says in part, "Clinical signs of epiglottic entrapment include inspiratory and expiratory respiratory noise during exercise and poor exercise performance. Less common signs include cough, nasal discharge, and headshaking. In mature nonracehorses, cough is the most consistent presenting complaint. Diagnosis is determined by endoscopic examination." Surgery can cure the problem, but whether a race horse can get back to top performance isn't always predictable. "Surgical transection is generally curative, with a relapse rate of 5%. Some affected horses can race successfully with the condition," the manual says.
DAZZLING GEM (KY)
Owner: Steve Landers; Breeder: Lisa Reynolds & Jennifer Feiner; Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 2-2-2-0-0 (6) 5.00; By Misremembered (Candy Ride (ARG), Beyond Perfection) out of Dazzler (Vindication, Bright Image); Foal Date: March 15, 2013; $95,000 Keeneland September 2014; Trainer: Brad Cox
NEXT START: Kentucky Derby? Arrival at Churchill Downs April 18- Barn 9
Dazzling Gem debuted Jan. 18 winning at a mile at Oaklawn Park. About a half-hour earlier, Gray Sky ran fifth, beaten 3 3/4 length in the Smarty Jones Stakes. Those two were to meet soon.
On Feb. 13, despite racing greenly in the stretch, Dazzling Gem wore down Gray Sky on the outside in the final furlong to win a 1 1/16-mile entry-level allowance race at Oaklawn Park by two lengths under Shaun Bridgmohan. Dazzling Gem was timed in 1:45.91.
Brad Cox - “Good day. The horse ran good. We expected a lot out of him.”
THE NEXT DAY: Trainer Cox said the Rebel is a good fit for Dazzling Gem because he won’t have to travel, the distance and timing of the race and a record purse. “Obviously, he likes this track,” Cox said. “He raced green yesterday, but the fractions were solid, a little more solid than the Essex. Came home just a shade slower, but you’re comparing older horses and younger horses.”
March 9 NOTE: Dazzling Gem will miss the Rebel because of a minor foot problem, trainer Cox said. Cox said Dazzling Gem will now point for the $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 26. Cox said Dazzling Gem developed a foot abscess five days ago, forcing the colt to miss a scheduled work the next day. The trainer said the foot is better today. “It's just a minor thing," Cox said. "As well as he's trained, he deserves a shot.”
March 20 NOTE: With Dazzling Gem's foot better, trainer Cox said, “There aren’t a lot of options for 3-year-olds who’ve already won two races. I think he’s a talented horse and I’m not running him in the Louisiana Derby just to run him. We’ll work him Monday and check on him Tuesday, and if all is well we will ship down Tuesday to Fair Grounds. I really like him and I think he can run with the big boys. He’s a true mile and an eighth to a mile and a quarter horse, and these are hurdles he can jump. I’m not ruling out running him in both the Louisiana and Arkansas Derby with how the races are this year.”
Dazzling Gem ran third, but it was Gun Runner who won the Louisiana Derby by 4 1/2 lengths while timed in a tepid 1:51.06. He sat off Candy My Boy in third, then second, following honest fractions of 23.54, 48.24 and 1:12.94. Tom's Ready, overly eager early on, plugged along moving up from seventh, then fifth, to get the place. Dazzling Gem, second at the first two calls, stayed on for third, beaten 5 3/4 lengths. Mo Tom for the second straight race was checked hard on the rail in mid-stretch. This time was worse than the Risen Star. Somehow he managed to finish fourth, a neck behind Dazzling Gem.
The chart call: "Dazzling Gem raced in the two path while under a strong hold on the first turn, tracked the pace on the outside, was asked while two then three wide on the far turn, bumped with Foreveamo inside the quarter-pole and weakened while just able to get the show."
Brad Cox - “Big effort. Really pleased with him. He was a beat horse at the top of the lane, but he showed a lot of fight after getting bounced around a bit. He’s obviously an inexperienced horse. In three weeks, we’ll look at (the Arkansas Derby), but we’ll let him tell us. He’s a nice big long-striding colt. A mile and a quarter shouldn’t be an issue.”
Shaun Bridgmohan - “I thought he ran hard. Very honest. I was laying second. The winner came up inside and he kind of dropped back a little but he never quit. He’s getting better.”
March 30 NOTE: Dazzling Gem was returned to Oaklawn Park on March 28. He has 20 Kentucky Derby points. Trainer Cox talked about what's next, saying, “Go back to the same old line. We’ll let the horse tell us. It’s kind of like one minute, you’re like, ‘You know, maybe we ought to just run in the Derby.’ Another minute, it’s, ‘We have to earn our way into the Derby.’ The thing is just going to be how he moves forward.... Obviously if we’re thinking Kentucky Derby, he’s got to move forward. He’s got to move forward, really, with all these spots we’re talking about," including the Northern Spur, the Lexington Stakes or the Pat Day Mile.
April 4 NOTE: Trainer Cox now talking about maybe skipping the Arkansas Derby and training up to the Kentucky Derby -- if he has enough points to get in.
April 12 NOTE: Joe Talamo has been named to ride Dazzling Gem in the Arkansas Derby, replacing Shaun Bridgmohan, who already had the call on Synchrony for the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on the same day. Word is that Bridgmohan made the commitment before Cox decided to enter Dazzling Gem in the Arkansas Derby.
On April 16 in the Arkansas Derby, Dazzling Gem finished fourth. Creator charged down the stretch between horses to win in an 11-1 upset. Creator came away from the gate last. Gettysburg, with the same owner as Creator, set quick fractions of 22.81, 46.33 and 1:10.61, closely pursued by 4-5 favorite Cupid, with American Pioneer and Unbridled Outlaw in third and fourth position at the first two calls and Gray Sky in third and American Pioneer following the front two after six furlongs. As the stretch run unfolded, four of those five early contenders were out of the picture, and Gettysburg was still fighting for position. But it was Creator who threaded his way through horses to get the lead about 220 yards from the finish line. At that point, the closing Suddenbreakingnews was a head back in second and Whitmore, yet another closer, was third by only a half-length. That was the trifecta at the wire after Creator finished best to win by 1 1/4 length. Whitmore was another 1 1/2 length back of Suddenbreakingnews, and Dazzling Gem finished fourth, beaten 4 3/4 lengths after running mid-pack most of the way. After the first half-mile, Creator was last, 14 1/4 lengths off the lead. The 1 1/8-mile was timed in 1:50.14.
Brad Cox - “What do we get? Ten points? I was very pleased with the race. Joe kind of chased them a little bit going to the backside. Good ride, moved him around the turn, all opportunity to run down the lane and run a good race. We’ll see how he comes out of it. As of right now, absolutely" training for the Kentucky Derby.
Owner: McCormick Racing LLC and Southern Equine Stable LLC; Breeder: Respite Farm; Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 1-3-4-0-0 (8) 3.00; By Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie, Playa May) out of Chattertown (Speightstown, Chatter Chatter); Foal Date: Jan. 31, 2013; $40.000 Keeneland November 2013/$260,000 Keeneland September 2014; Trainer: Eric Guillot
NEXT RACE: Kentucky Derby? Preakness? Stabled at Keeneland since the Blue Grass
Laoban opened his career with a seventh-place finish at Del Mar and a second-place finish at Los Alamitos. Both races were staged at one mile.
Laoban finished third in the one-mile Sham Stakes at Santa Anita in January after running evenly in fifth, then fourth, and then third, always about the same distance from the front. He didn't have a very good trip, as we see below.
One of the two California shippers entered in the Risen Star Stakes, Laoban was declared from the race on Monday, Feb. 15. Trainer Guillot said the horse is OK and will aim toward another race, but you really have to take that with a grain of salt, don't you. Later Guillot said Laoban had a fever.
Feb. 28 NOTE: Trainer Guillot said, "He worked good. He went 24 for the last quarter and galloped out in 1:27 and 3. He's pretty fit; I just wanted to get a work over this track. I really wasn't worried about time. He is still a maiden but he's a nice horse. In the Sham, he got slammed out of the gate, got a little rank, went wide and still ran third. I really think he might've been the best that day. He's still got a summer coat on him so he's got a big blanket on him. But horses are cold weather animals by nature, so he hasn't seemed worried about it."
March 2 NOTE: Later trainer Guillot spoke again about the Sham, "He was slammed out of the gate, the saddle slipped up on his withers, he ran six wide in the first turn and then almost clipped heels. It changes the thought process.You don't want to use your horse in a 1 1/16-mile race, but you don't want to get buried either. We might have to try to pull a Moreno (in the Gotham)."
In the March 5 Gotham Stakes, favored Shagaf rated in fourth while on the inside up the backstretch behind fractions of 23.33, 47.16 and 1:11.69, kept running toward pacesetter Laoban in the stretch and got up in the final strides to prevail over him by 1 1/4 length in 1:45.90. Adventist nipped Sunny Ridge for third after the latter one challenged Laoban and was repelled. The track was favoring early speed on this day.
Eric Guillot - "I don't think anybody did anything wrong. We had to go off plan when we drew the rail. He's a big, 17 and 1 horse, and he's a little straight up behind. He never really breaks that sharp. He broke a half-jump slow and he (Aaron Gryder) had to quarter-horse him a little bit to get him rolling. He's got tons of ability but this horse, when you ride him, he gets on the muscle and just keeps peddling. The second quarter, I think, cost us the win, but that's what you have to do when you have a horse that doesn't break that fast. Otherwise, we probably would've been buried and wouldn't have hit the board." On next race: "Maybe (the Wood Memorial). I don't know yet, I'll have to make a decision. Or I might go to Keeneland for the Blue Grass."
On April 9, Laoban set the pace, then faded to fourth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Meanwhile, Brody's Cause, eleventh of 14 runners after a half-mile run in a brisk 46.75 by Laoban, won the race. While Loaban stayed on the lead through six furlongs in 1:11.44, Brody's Cause was getting ready to make his move. Ninth at that point, and 6 1/4 lengths off the pace, he was on the lead two furlongs later with the mile gone in 1:37.26. He stayed on to win in 1:50.20, prevailing by 1 3/4 length. For a few moments in the stretch run, it looked like Cherry Wine might round out the exacta. My Man Sam got to him in the final jump, eking out the place by a head. Both horses also came from far off the pace. My Man Sam had to work out a good trip after breaking from post 14. Cherry Wine broke from post 3. Loaban hung around for fourth, beaten 4 3/4 lengths.
Jose Lezcano, rider of fourth-place finisher Laoban - "My horse kind of ran off the whole way around and got tired. He held on very good, but I think if he was more relaxed he could run better."
MATT KING COAL (FL)
Owner: Lady Sheila Stable; Breeder: John E. Shaw; Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 4-6-10-0-0 (20) 3.00; By Cool Coal Man (Mineshaft, Coral Sea) out of Donna Marie (Came Home, Pate Maison); Foal Date: March 5, 2013; $25000 OBS August 2014/$250,000 OBS April 2014; Trainer: Linda Rice
NEXT RACE: To be determined - Out of consideration for the Kentucky Derby
Matt King Coal debuted on turf, finishing third, but it wasn't the intention of connections to make him a turf horse. Later on Rice said in a story at thoroughbredracing.com, “Unfortunately at Saratoga the only way to go two turns was to start him out on the turf, so I took that avenue. When we purchased him, he had breezed very well on a synthetic surface at Ocala so I felt he would be all right on turf. He finished third and, at that point, moving forward, my intention was to get him on the dirt at Belmont for a mile race. That was the goal at the time. It wasn’t to make him a turf horse.”
He broke his maiden by 5 3/4 lengths in his third career start going a mile at Belmont in a maiden special weight in late October where he received a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.
Matt King Coal was forced to skip the Jerome in January after he spiked a fever in December. He regrouped with a trio of works in February and was nominated for the Gotham, but traienr Rice opted instead for a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer that ultimately also attracted My Man Sam and the stakes-aimed Mo Power.
Matt King Coal made his sophomore debut on March 6 in that allowance race at Aqueduct -- and he won. Breaking alertly from post 5 under Jose Ortiz, he went wire-to-wire completing the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:44.92 to best an impressive field of five that included My Man Sam and Mo Power.
The chart call: "Matt King Coal oaxed from the gate, established the front shortly after the break and showed the way just off the inside in hand, settled into a comfortable rhythm down the backstretch, began to shake away midway on the turn remaining patiently handled as the remainder of the field got busy in behind, spun just off the inside for home roused into upper stretch, drew clear under a drive to the eighth pole, got a bit leg weary inside the final furlong shying a bit from the stick when employed both to the off side and near side showing some greenness, dug in under late threat and held safe to prevail."
Linda Rice - "I thought he might be a little short today and that he really might need this race, so we're delighted to get the win. He broke his maiden on Oct. 29, and we had pointed towards the Jerome, and he had gotten sick he had to take some time off and we were kind of struggling getting him back going again. But it's absolutely a step in the right direction towards facing graded stakes level competition. We're going to take it race by race but it's absolutely a step in the right direction towards facing graded stakes level competition. Obviously, the race right here at home the Wood Memorial is a big consideration, but there are a lot of races around the same time to choose from. The Wood Memorial would be the most probable."
Later, Rice said, "I was in a little bit of a rush to get him back and that's why I chose the allowance race over the Gotham Maybe if I had gotten a fourth breeze in him, we might've gone with the Gotham but, at the time, I felt like I barely had him ready to go. So I chose the allowance race and then that came up so tough. But he ran great.... We pointed to the Aqueduct winter stakes, the Withers, the Jerome, the Gotham, then we had a little hiccup along the way. He spiked a fever and we had to send him to the farm for six weeks. At that point we were behind schedule. I got him back and put three workouts into him, but I didn’t want run in the Gotham off just that out of fear of running a short horse.”
April 2 NOTE: Trainer Rice said, "I decided to only give him two works into the race (Wood Memorial). He came back after that race (allowance) and worked three-quarters really nice. With his last breeze on Wednesday (March 30), he went beautifully; so we're ready. It can be a little intimating to jump right into a grade 1 but I think we've taken all the natural steps. He broke his maiden and we gave him time last fall. He was running fast numbers and he looked like a nice colt, so I wanted to give him a chance to grow up before I threw him into the deep end of the pool.
"It's surprising that he has the speed he has because when you look at him, and when I bought him at the OBS April sale a year ago, I was just shocked that a horse of his stature could be that fast. And Jose thought the same way; when he breaks from the gate, he's surprised that he has that kind of speed. There are certain things about it; he's been two turns already but he's never been off the lead yet so that, of course, leaves an unanswered question, and I've still got the blinkers on him. I don't really anticipate making any changes going into the race. We're just going to let it unfold and let Jose figure it out. The less instruction the better. Jose has got great instincts and we're just going to let it roll."
April 5 NOTE: Trainer Rice said to thoroughbredracing.com, “It’s an exciting time. Anyone would be excited to be at the end of March and have a horse who has a chance to be in the Triple Crown races. I’ve done a lot of things in my career. I’ve won some training titles, broken some barriers, but the one thing I haven’t participated in is the Kentucky Derby. The Preakness might be a terrific spot. It usually is a better spot than the Derby. But if you win the Wood, nobody passes up the Derby, unless they have to. His speed figures were exceptional at two and, if we can get him to improve on them at three, like people expect him to, that would make him Triple Crown material. But that’s a lot of ifs. When we purchased Matt King Coal, he had a modest pedigree but he was brilliant on the racetrack. His racetrack performance was phenomenal. He was a big and leggy and looked like a two-turn horse. I was hoping he could carry that speed two turns, which he has.”
On April 9, Matt King Cole led early but finished fourth in the Wood Memorial on a muddy track. Outwork was tenacious in victory. The time was a less than torrid 1:52.92, and perhaps that can be chalked up to the condition of the track. After contesting fractions of 22.91, 46.93 and 1:12.31 with Matt King Coal, Outwork stayed on while the other one regressed. Ridden by John Velazquez, Outwork outfought the rail-hugging Trojan Nation, sent off at 81-1 odds after going winless in five starts at Santa Anita, to the wire to win by a head. Owner Mike Repole said after the race he thinks Outwork would have lost had there been another jump in the race. Adventist came on in the stretch to finish third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths,edging Matt King Coal by a neck. Shagaf, the 9-5 post-time favorite, disappointed to finish fifth, another 1 1/2 length back.
Owner: John D. Gunther, Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier; Breeder: John D. Gunther; Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 7-6-9-2-0 (24) 2.69; By Medaglia d'Oro (El Prado (IRE), Cappucino Bay) out of Bending Strings (American Chance, Straight South); Foal Date: April 24, 2013; RNA $350,000 Keeneland September 2014; Trainer: Todd Pletcher
NEXT RACE: To be determined
On November 8, Stradivari finished fourth in his debut, a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Aqueduct won by Vorticity.
He was shipped to Florida and scored big in his second outing, which took place on Dec. 5 at Gulfstream Park. Going 1 1/16 mile, Stradivari won by 11 1/4 lengths while timed in 1:44.08. He was the second choice at 9-5. After attending the pace for a half-mile clocked in 48.51, he was in control after six furlongs timed in 1:13.64.
Stradivari needed some time off and came back on April 17 at Keeneland to again win by a large margin going nine furlongs in a very sharp 1:48.64. He prevailed by 14 1/2 lengths at 7-5 odds. Siding Spring, at 6-5, finished fourth.