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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

 


Belmont Stakes Horses

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BLENDED CITIZEN (KY)
Trainer: Doug O'Neill
Owner: Greg Hall & Sayjay Racing, LLC
Breeder: Ray Hanson
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Proud Citizen (Gone West, Drums of Freedom)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam):  Langara Lass (Langfuhr (CAN), Capilano)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-7-12-0-0 (24) 3.00
Foal Date: May 1, 2015

$57,000 RNA Keeneland September 2016
$85,000 OBS March 2017

 A half-brother to Lookin at Lee

LATE-NOMINATED TO THE TRIPLE CROWN

Blended Citizen began his career on dirt and was beaten a combined 35 3/4 lengths in three races.

Switched to turf, he won the second time on the surface, defeating River Boyne by 1 1/4 length in a one-mile maiden special weight at Del Mar on Nov. 24. He was timed in 1:34 4/5 after closing from ninth, over nine lengths behind, after the first quarter-mile. He came four wide into the stretch and won going away.

His next start came in the Eddie Logan Stakes at a mile at Santa Anita, and he finished fourth, beaten only 2 1/2 lengths by Pubilius Syrus and a time of 1:34 2/5. In the early going, he was a little closer this time, sixth by about five lengths. He was again swung out in the stretch but didn't have quite the closing kick he showed in his maiden-breaker.

In the Feb. 17 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate, Blended Citizen was again sixth in the early going, about five lengths off the lead. He finished with interest and came in third, beaten 1 1/4 length by the promising filly Paved. Kyle Frey was aboard Blended Citizen for the first time in this race.

In the March 17 Jeff Ruby Steaks, Blended Citizen won, Pony Up finished second and Arawak and Zanesville were third and fourth. Mugaritz set the pace, and late in the back stretch with six furlongs in the book in 1:12.55, he led by 3 1/2 lengths. At that point, Blended Citizen and Kyle Frey were sitting back in fifth, five lengths off the pace, and just behind Arawak. Pony Up and Albin Jimenez were ninth, behind seven lengths. Blended Citizen made his move in the turn, as did Pony Up and Arawak. In mid-stretch Blended Citizen and Arawak passed a tiring Mugaritz on either side. Just when it seemed those two might run first and second, Pony Up, who'd been fanned out five wide in the turn, came down the stretch well outside the other two and got up for second, beaten a neck. Arawak was a length back of Pony Up in third, followed another length by 27-1 longshot Zanesville, who was 10th of 12 after the first half-mile. The race was timed in 1:50.87.

Octavio Vergara, assistant to winning trainer Doug O'Neill: “I knew he would run good! Last time out, he should have won the El Camino Real Derby, but he got stopped twice. Doug O’Neill sent him here to win and get into the Kentucky Derby.”

Winning jockey Kyle Frey: “We broke a little quicker and we were a lot closer than I expected, and I had to steady a bit because the outside horse closed in on us early in the race. I wasn’t too worried about it. I pulled out of there and waited. About the half mile pole, it seemed like the race just started to fall apart. As things opened up, I just let Jesus take the wheel. With the way he was moving, all I needed was an opening and I got it.”

March 31 NOTE: Trainer O'Neill said after Blended Citizen's workout under Kyle Frey in company with Arawak today at Keeneland, “That was very nice. I’m very happy with it. I thought they both worked very well, and Arawak was very competitive with him. Looking back at his form, I can find reasons for his dirt race (poor) performances. This is a horse that needs two turns, and he is a half-brother to Lookin At Lee, who was second in the Derby last year. In his first start, he drew the rail at Del Mar sprinting, which is not what he wants to do. In his second start, he was outside all the way but he did make up some ground. Then I brought him back too quick when I stretched him out two turns at Santa Anita, and he was outside and never in it.”

March 31 NOTE: Kyle Frey said, “I was very satisfied with him, and he handled the track well. The addition of the blinkers made the light bulb come on (last race).” Upon leaving the track, O’Neill asked Frey about the work and the rider answered, “How are you going to spend your $60,000?”

In the April 7 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, Good Magic won, Flameaway finished second, and Free Drop Billy was moved up to third after Sporting Chance was disqualified to fourth. Blended Citizen finished fifth, beaten 4 3/4 lengths after being in 10th place much of the first six furlongs.

April 13 NOTE: Blended Citizen's next target is the Belmont Stakes, or so said assistant trainer Jack Sisterson, who said “There is an allowance race at Churchill, but it is for 3-year-olds and up, and the owners want to keep him with 3-year-olds.” Sisterson said other immediate possibilities are the Peter Pan at Belmont Park on May 12 or the Sir Barton at Pimlico on May 19.

April 17 NOTE: Blended Citizen was being pointed to the Belmont Stakes, but after last weekend's races he's listed at number 23 in Derby points. Assistant trainer said today, “Things have changed. Doug called me yesterday afternoon and said, ‘Let’s point to the Kentucky Derby.’ Brooke Hubbard, the racing manager for SAYJAY, will be here Thursday when What’sontheagenda runs (for SAYJAY in a turf allowance race. Doug will make the decision (on Blended Citizen's next workout), depending on weather, but probably Saturday.”

May 4 NOTE: Scratched as the sole also-eligible in the Kentucky Derby.

In the one-turn Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 12, Blended Citizen won after sitting behind a wall of horses in the early going. Just Whistle, Core Beliefs, High North and Gotta Go opened the race just heads apart while they ran the first quarter-mile in 23.92. Just Whistle, Core Beliefs and High North went on to get the half-mile in 47.07 and six furlongs in 1:11.41 as Gotta Go began to fade a bit. Meanwhile, Blended Citizen and Kyle Frey rated in fifth, 1 3/4 length off the lead, with Zing Zang a couple more lengths back in sixth.  Once the field emerged from the turn, Core Beliefs opened up and held a 2 1/2-length lead over Just Whistle with an eighth of a mile remaining in the race.  But Blended Citizen, who had come six wide but was only another half-length back at that point, wasn't be be denied and overtook Core Beliefs 70 yards from the wire. He won by 1 1/2 length going away. Core Beliefs stayed on for second, and Just Whistle finished third, beaten 5 1/2 lengths, followed by High North, Zing Zang and Gotta Go. The nine-furlong Peter Pan was timed in 1:49.75.

Assistant trainer Jack Sisterson: "We led him over here with a lot of confidence. He's such a big horse with such a big stride. We thought if he's going to love any track in America, it's going to be Belmont Park, so we weren't surprised with the result today. After the Bluegrass, the plan was the Peter Pan and then the Belmont. When horses started to drop out of the Kentucky Derby we thought, we'd take a chance there and we didn't get it. But everything happens for a reason and here we are today. I think a lot of credit goes to Doug giving an opportunity to Kyle. We aren't jockeys, so we didn't give him any instructions. He knows the horse well and has worked him in the mornings and ridden him in the afternoon and he has a lot of confidence riding him. We'll be liking our chances here. We wish Justify the best and hope he'll win the Preakness for a chance with a Triple Crown on the line, but we like our chances and he'll stay here and train up to it."

In the Belmont Stakes on June 9, Blended Citizen finished ninth, beaten 51 3/4 lengths after steadily losing ground throughout the race.

Kyle Frey: "My horse broke really well. I had him in a really good spot. We got to the three-eighths pole and that's when the dirt started shifting to the right and back. Too much dirt for what he's used to. I don't think he was tired, I just think he got discouraged. Another day."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1
Jan. 14, five in 1:02.60 Handily 60/90 at SA
Jan. 24, six in 1:14.20 Handily 2/6 at SA
Jan. 31, six in 1:15.00Handily 4/5 at SA
Feb. 9, six in 1:14.60 Handily 2/9 at SA
March 1, four in 48.00 Handily 8/116 at SA
March 9, six in 1:14.60 Handily 7/18 at SA
March 31, five in 1.01:00 Breezing 4/15 at KEE
April 21, five in 59:40 Breezing 1/25 at CD
April 28, one mile in 1.41:60 Breezing 1/2 at KEE
May 5, six in 1.16:00 Breezing 1/1 at CD
May 26, four in 47:55 Breezing 1/35 at BEL
June 2, five in 1.00:64 Breezing 4/9 at BEL

 

 

BRAVAZO (KY)
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Owner: Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley)
Breeder: Calumet Farm
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Awesome Again (CAN) (Deputy Minister (CAN), Primal Force)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Tiz O Gold (Cee's Tizzy, Pep O Gold)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 6-8-16-0-0 (30) 2.75
Foal Date: Jan. 29, 2015

On Sept. 16 at Churchill Downs, in his second career start Bravazo won going a mile under Jon Court in a field of nine favored at 2.4-1. He won impressively, by 4 3/4 lengths, after pressing the early pace that included a half-mile in 46.22. The final time was 1:38.38.

In the Oct. 7 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, Free Drop Billy was lively in the paddock, was sent off as the 3-2 favorite, was rated behind the early leaders and took command at the head of the stretch before drawing off under Robby Albarado to a four-length victory over longshot Bravazo. Albarado had Free Drop Billy in mid pack as longshot Ready Prospector led the field of 11 through fractions of 23.34, 47.11 and 1:12.66. On the turn, Bravazo briefly took over before being collared and passed by Free Drop Billy, who covered the 1 1/16 mile in 1:45.43 over a fast main track. Bravazo, ridden by Jon Court, finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of Lone Sailor under Florent Geroux. Lionite finished another half-length back of Lone Sailor in fourth and was followed in order by Givemeaminit, Ezmosh, Crea’s Bklyn Law, Bourbon Resolution, Ready Prospector and Lone Rock. Ten City broke down and was later euthanized.

D. Wayne Lukas: “Jon Court rode a great race. He could not have been in a better spot than the one Jon put him in. That was significant in the race. I love these old men who have experience. (Calumet Farm owner Brad Kelley) will have to make that decision (on Breeders' Cup). I have mixed emotions. We would like to win the Kentucky Derby. Sometimes if you put them away after, we see a little something, it works out better down the line. We know he has quality. If Mr. Kelley wants to go to the Breeders’ Cup, of course we will go. He got beat by a good horse today but we beat some good horses, too.”

Jon Court: “Exactly what Mr. Lukas just said. It was perfect.”

On Oct. 29 in the Street Sense Stakes, 8-1 Gotta Go rallied from off the pace to beat Lone Sailor by a head after an exciting stretch battle. The one-turn mile was timed in 1:37.48. Bravazo led the field of 10 into the turn after fractions of 22.55 and 45.66 while Lone Sailor raced in mid-pack. Gotta Go traveled a couple of lengths behind him. Bravazo still led after six furlongs in 1:11.76. Lone Sailor, from the inside, and Gotta Go, on the outside, drew even with an eighth of mile to run and battled stride-for-stride to the wire with Gotta Go prevailing in the final jump. Bravazo finished 3 1/4 lengths back in third. Renaisance Frolic, 5-2 favorite Honorable Treasure, Ebben, Souper Smart, Netas, Rubus and Twin Farms followed.

The Nov. 25 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes was next in Bravazo's progesssion, but he regressed with a 10th-place finish.

Not one to let any grass grow under his feet, trainer Lukas shipped Bravazo to his winter base and ran him on Jan. 13 in an entry-level allowance that Bravazo won by a neck after laying five lengths off the pace in fifth for the first half-mile. The mile was timed in 1:37.74. Gary Stevens rode. Eight ran. Bravazo overcame difficulties: squeezed at the start, four wide in the far turn. Ezmosh ran second, and the third finisher, Dream Baby Dream, was beaten 9 1/4 lengths.

D. Wayne Lukas: “That was race-horse time. It was what, two seconds or (10) lengths better than the other division, and there were some horses in the other division they liked." Lukas said Bravazo has “probably earned his way” for a return to stakes company to be determined.

Jan. 25 NOTE: Trainer Lukas said the Risen Star is next.

The Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 17 started with Bravazo (21-1) and Snapper Sinclair (41-1) duking it out, and that's the way it ended as the former nosed out the latter.  Noble Indy, always prominent, finished third, and 7-5 post time favorite Instilled Regard, who also was among the top four at each call, finished fourth. Miguel Mena booted Bravazo home after Gary Stevens, who was named to ride Bravazo on his entry form, didn't make the trip from Oaklawn Park. Adam Beschizza took Snapper Sinclair to the lead, hounded by Bravazo. In the first turn, Noble Indy, who broke well under John Velazquez, found himself just behind the leaders in third with Instilled Regard and Javier Castellano three wide to his outside in fourth. The group ran closely bunched through fractions of 24.15, 47.96 and 1:12.85.  Going into the far turn, Instilled Regard made a bid at the pacesetters, but in the stretch, Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair wouldn't be denied, and Instilled Regard's bid fell short. Meanwhile Noble Indy, looking a bit green, continued to run strongly and retook third position. Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair hit the wire virtually together, and photo showed them separated by a nostril. Noble Indy was two lengths back, a neck ahead of Instilled Regard. The top two got to the wire in race horse time with the clock stopping in 1:42.95.

D. Wayne Lukas:  “I didn't know it was that close. (Mena)was getting into him pretty good and he drifted out. That cost us a little bit. He's a fighter. He's tough. He's got real good tactical speed. He's a horse that carries his weight well and can withstand training up to the Derby. We’ll get him back here with me and if everything checks out and goes right, then I’m going to lock up Miguel Mena. I'll pack him and the horse in Styrofoam and keep them under lock and key until the next race. Gary (Stevens) had a commitment on a live horse in the Bayakoa, so I made a phone call. I felt pretty good about getting the meet's leading rider. Hell, he knows every grain of sand on the track.”

Miguel Mena: "I found out two or three days ago that Gary wasn't coming, and he gave me the call. I talked to Bas this morning and told me how much they liked the horse. They told me to ride him with confidence.  I think they expected me to be fairly close, but I didn't think I'd be that close. A couple speed horses didn't show up. The horse came out sharp and he was on the bridle nice. I was confident and had a lot of horse. The horse on the inside was hard to beat. I didn’t know if I had it, but thankfully I did. I have a nice horse.”

In the March 24 Louisiana Derby, Noble Indy won, and Lone Sailor, My Boy Jack and Givemeaminit were second, third and fourth.  Longshot Marmello that broke on top and led the field through the first turn and up a portion of the backstretch with Noble Indy, running under John Velazquez with blinkers for the first time, in closest pursuit, followed by Bravazo on the inside, Snapper Sinclair several paths wide, and Givemeaminit .  Initial fractions were a spritely 22.97 and 46.64. From there on out, Bravazo retreated and finished seventh, beaten 21 lengths. The chart says he "was asked leaving the gate, lugged out into the first turn, went three then four wide on that bend, raced up close on the outside, lugged out in the six path on the far turn, drifted inward in upper stretch and faltered."

Gary Stevens:  “He warmed up good, got away from there good. We were going fast and I eased into the three-path going into the first turn and all of a sudden he wanted to go straight. I didn’t make the turn, I had a steering malfunction for whatever reason. I just don’t know, but he was lugging out with me the entire trip and I had both hands on the inside rein, literally, trying to hold him in. I was breaking his momentum and he was fighting me, and I was just trying to keep him on track but wasn’t really able to accomplish that. I can’t explain why. He was sound after the race, pulled up good, but he was mad.  I don’t know what happened, I really don’t. Maybe they’ll find some cuts in his mouth or a bad tooth or something. That’s what he acted like, like he was really fighting the bit, and it all happened at once. I’ll talk with the Coach when I’m done here and he’ll figure it out, but it was very disappointing.”

March 29 NOTE: Trainer Lukas said, “He’s assured himself a spot, so I’ve got the luxury of having six weeks to fine tune him. I’ll have a nice fresh horse for the Derby, it looks like.”

In the May 5 Kentucky Derby run on a sloppy track during rain, Bravazo finished sixth, beaten eight lengths. He was 11th, seven lengths off the pace, going into the far turn.

D. Wayne Lukas: "He ran really well. I’m very pleased. He was in contention at the eighth pole. His odds were 69-1 and he ran way better than that.”

Luis Contreras: “I was surprised how good he handled the sloppy track. I got a good break and tried to stay as close as I could. I got a bit of a wide trip but it happens in a race like this. He moved very good on the far turn but horses passed me in the end.”

With the Preakness starting gate and the track at Pimlico enshrouded in fog, Mike Smith and Justify broke from post 7 and rolled down the sloppy-sealed stretch the first time to the outside of Good Magic and Jose Ortiz, who had exited post 5. With just a head separating them, Justify and Good Magic posted fractions of 23.11 seconds for the first quarter-mile, 47.19 for the half and 1:11.42 for six furlongs. As the pair approached the top of the stretch, Justify could be seen with Smith's white WinStar silks begin to get the better of Good Magic, and he led by a half-length with an eighth of a mile left. At that point, Tenfold had advanced from sixth in the early going to be third, 3 1/2 lengths off the lead, and Bravazo was fifth, five lengths in arrears. With Good Magic tiring, Tenfold got by him late, then Bravazo, and at the wire Justify had won by a half-length. It was a neck from Bravazo back to Tenfold in third and another neck to Good Magic. Lone Sailor finished fifth, beaten only two lengths, after being last after the first half-mile. Another 8 3/4 lengths behind him was Sporting Chance, followed closely by Diamond King. Quip was distanced, beaten 45 1/2 lengths when he faded badly after the first six furlongs. The final time was 1:55.93.

D. Wayne Lukas: “What I saw of it, I liked a lot. I want them to extend it another 50 yards. He was running on in the end. Luis did a good job. A very good horse won the race, a very good horse. We ran at him. We kept him honest just like we said we would. Bob’s tough in these and if he gets the right horse, he’s really tough. But, kudos to him, and we’ll see what happens in the next one. We’ve got three weeks. I’m pretty confident he’ll be OK. I thought all day long we were going to be very competitive.”

Luis Saez: “He broke very nice. When we came to the three-eighths pole Justify and Good Magic took off on us. Because me horse doesn’t have a quick turn of foot, it took me time to get him going. He was coming and coming down the stretch, and I thought we were going to catch Justify.”

In the Belmont Stakes on June 9, Bravazo finished sixth, beaten 8 1/2 lengths after steadily losing ground throughout the race.

Luis Saez: "He was running well to the three-eighths pole but then when I started to ask him, he was very tired."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1
Jan. 7, four in 50.60 Breezing 24/238 at OP
Jan. 22, five in 1.00:40 Breezing 1/47 at OP
Jan . 29, five in 1.03:40 Breezing 26/38 at OP
Feb. 5, five in 1.02:00 Breezing 10/18 at OP
Feb. 12, four in 47:80 Breezing 1/22 at OP
Feb. 26, four in 49:00 Breezing good track 19/99 at OP
March 5, five in 1.01:80 Breezing muddy track 4/8 at OP
March 12, five in 1.00:00 Breezing 1/8 at OP
March 18, five in 59:60 Breezing 1/26 at OP
April 2, four in 48:60 Breezing 4/15 at OP
April 13, five in 1.01:20 Breezing 9/23 at CD
April 20, six in 1.15:40 Breezing 1/3 at CD
April 28, five in 1.01:40 Breezing 10/49 at CD
May 13, four in 50:60 Breezing 42/47 at CDMay 31, one mile in 1.42:60 Breezing 1/1 at CD

 

 

FREE DROP BILLY (KY)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Owner: Albaugh Family Stables
Breeder:  Helen K. Groves Revocable Trust
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Union Rags (Dixie Union, Tempo)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Trensa (Giant's Causeway, Serape)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 4-4-17-1-0 (26) 1.74
Foal Date: May 3, 2015

$200,000 Keeneland September 2016

Free Drop Billy started his racing career in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs on June 15, and he won the race by three lengths after laying sixth of seven, about five lengths off the pace, in the early going. Pace fractions were 22.23 and 46.00 with a final time of 1:04.63.

In the July 22 Sanford Stakes, Firenze Fire stalked in third position as Baffin and Psychoanalyze dueled in front through fractions of 22.27 and 46.06. About midway through the turn, Irad Ortiz, Jr. angled out Firenze Fire three-wide and set him in full drive, and they caught the leaders in upper stretch. Firenze Fire went on to claim the victory by one length and was timed in 1:11.50 on a track playing slow. Free Drop Billy, the favorite, also finished well under Robby Albarado to come in second, followed by Psychoanalyze, Baffin, Bal Harbour, Admiral Jimmy and Nauti Buoy.

In the Hopeful Stakes on Sept. 4, a crazy ending saw Sporting Chance survive a stewards' inquiry after he veered out wildly in deep stretch in close quarters with the late-running Free Drop Billy. Luis Saez was on the winner, and Robby Albarado was on Free Drop Billy, who lost by a neck with Givemeaminit a head back in third. Sporting Chance, sent off at 5-1, stalked pace-setter National Flag through splits of 22.50 and 45.92. The pair was followed closely at that point by Firenze Fire and Psychoanalyze as Free Drop Billy, Givemeaminit, Mojovation and Oskar Blues followed. Leaving the turn, Sporting Chance took the lead as National Flag began to tire. Free Drop Willy, last from the break, made a move five wide as Givemeaminit made a move near the rail after three quarters of a mile in 1:10.30. The final time was 1:23.71. It was trainer Lukas' eighth win of the Hopeful.

Dale Romans: "You can't tell a 2-year-old who has run three times in his life and the horse bolts in front of him, how much it stops his momentum. If they all stayed straight, he may run right past him. You don't know what it does to a horse's mind. He got beat a head by a horse who bolted in front of him. It's a ridiculous call."

Robby Albarado: "He ducked out in front of our path, but obviously the stewards didn't think it was a mistake, so what can you do?"

In the Oct. 7 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, Free Drop Billy was lively in the paddock, was sent off as the 3-2 favorite, was rated behind the early leaders and took command at the head of the stretch before drawing off under Robby Albarado to a four-length victory over longshot Bravazo. Albarado had Free Drop Billy in mid pack as longshot Ready Prospector led the field of 11 through fractions of 23.34, 47.11 and 1:12.66. On the turn, Bravazo briefly took over before being collared and passed by Free Drop Billy, who covered the 1 1/16 mile in 1:45.43 over a fast main track. Bravazo, ridden by Jon Court, finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of Lone Sailor under Florent Geroux. Lionite finished another half-length back in fourth and was followed in order by Givemeaminit, Ezmosh, Crea’s Bklyn Law, Bourbon Resolution, Ready Prospector and Lone Rock. Ten City broke down and was later euthanized.

Dale Romans: “I’d rather him not do that (get hot before the race), but he does it, and that’s just him. I think if he changed, I’d worry about it at this point. He’s done it in all four of his races. He gets hot – it’s not nerves, he just sweats.We always thought (two turns would suit him). If you look at all his numbers on paper, every time they stretched a race a bit, he got a little bit better. Today I think we saw what he is really capable of.”

Robby Albarado:  “He’s been inside basically in all of his starts. He’s been in a lot of trouble in all of his starts, and he’s got a lot of hair on his chest for a young horse. When I got him outside, he ran home nicely. Once he got in front, he got a little lazy. I expected that. He’s never run that far before.”

THE NEXT DAY: Free Drop Billy was returned to trainer Romans’ Churchill Downs base on Saturday evening and was scheduled to leave for Southern California on Oct. 16. “We want to get him acquainted to the California weather as soon as possible,” Albaugh Family Stables General Manager Jason Loutsch said. Joining Free Drop Billy on the trip west for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was to be the Albaughs’ Hollywood Star, runner-up in the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill for Romans.

In the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Free Drop Billy was the second choice in wagering at 7-1, but he finished ninth, beaten almost 30 lengths. He ran for about six furlongs, then totally spit the bit.

Nov. 9 NOTE: Trainer Romans said, “(He is) on the farm in Lexington for a bit (for) a break and then return to the track this winter.”

Dec. 30 NOTE: Trainer Romans said Free Drop Billy is expected to return to the worktab at Gulfstream Park next week.

Jan. 6 NOTE: Mike Welsch tweeted, "Free Drop Billy and Hollywood Star turned in their first works since Breeders' Cup Juvenile this a.m. at Gulfstream Park for trainer Dale Romans, both easy half-miles although Free Drop eager to do more under exercise rider Tammy Fox."

Jan. 31 NOTE: Trainer Romans said, I have no excuse for Free Drop Billy (in the Breeders' Cup). I’ve quit trying to make one. He ran bad. Something wasn’t right that day. Horses that he beat beat him. He just didn’t run a jump, the only time in his life. He’s back training super. We’ll just draw a line through it."

In the Feb. 3 Holy Bull Stakes, Audible blew away the competition with a resounding 5 1/2-length win. Free Drop Billy was second, and 7 3/4 lengths behind him was third finisher Tiz Mischief. Enticed, the 9-5 favorite, was fourth, beaten 14 3/4 lengths. In his first start around two turns, Audible broke alertly under Javier Castellano to closely stalk the pace set by 30-1 longshot Master Manipulator, who set fractions of 23.59 and 47.14 before starting to tire with Audible overtaking him leaving the backstretch at six furlongs in 1:12.00.  Free Drop Billy, never worse than third or fourth under Luis Saez, mounted a serious challenge going into the turn, less than a length behind Audible. Meanwhile, Tiz Mischief and Robby Albarado were sixth early and mounted a three-wide bid of his own, albeit never getting closer than two lengths from the lead.  Enticed, the 9-5 favorite ridden by Joel Rosario, saved ground behind the pacesetters and failed to offer a stretch kick. There was a race horse final time of 1:41.92. Nine ran.

Luis Saez: “He ran hard. He tried hard. The winner was tough. Maybe after the layoff he got a little tired, but he tried. I think he’ll be ready for his next start.”

March 3 NOTE: Free Drop Billy is a scratch from the Fountain of Youth, breezed this morning after the renovation break, and is being pointed to the March 10 Gotham Stakes. After that, the target will be the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Trainer Romans said after the Fountain of Youth, “The owner and I made the decision. He’s already a grade 1 winner, and we just wanted as easy a race as we can get going into the last round of preps, so we decided to go the New York way. This race looked like it was coming up the toughest of the year, and I think it did. It was just a strategy play.”

In the March 10 one-turn Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, Enticed closed from the outside to win the one-turn, one-mile Gotham Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths over Old Time Revival. Free Drop Bill was third, Firenze Fire fourth. Maryland shipper Old Time Revival set the early pace while Cove Blue sat close in company with Nine Route to his outside. The trio led the way while Enticed, who broke from the outside post 9,  remained outside under Junior Alvarado. The 9-5 favorite Free Drop Billy, ridden by Dylan Davis, settled well behind with only Whereshetoldmetogo beat through the early going. After an opening quarter-mile in 23.14, Free Drop Billy began a steady advance with Firenze Fire, the 5-2 second wagering choice, ahead of him in sixth. Old Time Revival took the field through a half-mile in 46.43 and continued to look strong as Enticed began to make a run. Into the stretch, Enticed swooped outside, and the 4 1/2-length margin held by the leader after six furlongs in 1:11.77 began to diminish. Enticed won going away in a time of 1:38.24. Free Drop Billy came up short, beaten 6 3/4 lengths. Another 2 1/2 lengths back in fourth was Firenze Fire, followed by Whereshetoldmetogo, Cove Blue, Nine Route, Beautiful Shot and Dial Operator.

Dale Romans: "We got 10 points today. If he belongs, we'll have enough points to get there. Right now, that should be enough. He still has to come back and run well next time. I think he ran a clean trip. There was some good things to see, but I wanted him to win. I thought he would win. He ran in the end away from the horse coming for fourth down the lane. That was good and he kept on going. Looked like he galloped out strong. Two turns would probably be better. We'll take him back to Florida and probably go to the Blue Grass. He's already a grade 1 winner there (at Keeneland), but we'll go from there."

Dylan Davis: "This was my first time on him. The more ground he gets, the better he gets. That was the main focus. Speed was pretty good today. I thought he ran an honest race. (His early position) was more of him being comfortable and after that you just go from there. He's going to be a much tougher horse (going longer)."

In the April 7 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, Good Magic won, Flameaway finished second, and Free Drop Billy was moved up to third after Sporting Chance was disqualified to fourth. Good Magic and Flameaway  broke adjacent to each other near the outside of the gate, and Flameaway, ridden by Jose Lezcano, sprinted to the lead. Good Magic and Jose Ortiz were never far back as Flameaway set fractions of 23.55, 47.40 and 1:11.89 saving ground all the way. Arawak hounded Flameaway through the backstretch before giving way, at which point it was Good Magic in closest pursuit with Sporting Chance close by in third. Turning for home, Flameaway maintained a slim lead. Good Magic drew nearer and took over in upper stretch With an eighth of a mile to go, Good Magic led by 1 1/2 length, with Sporting Chance another 1 1/2 length back in third. Flameaway gamely held on for second, beaten the same margin that he trailed at the furlong marker. In the middle of the track, Sporting Chance challenged Flameaway nearing the wire but suddenly bolted to his right under a left-handed whip from Luis Saez. He finished third, beaten 3 1/4 lengths, but he impeded Free Drop Billy and Irad Ortiz, Jr, who closed from 12th position after a half-mile to be beaten four lengths.  When all was said and done, the final time for the race was 1:50.18.

Irad Ortiz Jr.: “He ran a good race. When I ask him, he goes. I finished fourth, but he ran a good race. He did everything I wanted him to do. I'm pretty happy with him. He'll be all right in the Derby.”

In the May 5 Kentucky Derby run on a sloppy track during rain, Free Drop Billy finished 16th, beaten 21 lengths. He never threatened at any point.

Dale Romans: “He was laying in position, but it looked like he was never getting a hold of it. I don’t know.”

Robby Albarado: “It’ll be fun one year whenever Dale wins the Derby. He didn’t fire.”

In the Belmont Stakes on June 9, Free Drop Billy finished seventh, beaten 9 1/2 lengths after never being in contention.

Dale Romans: "My horse ran well, no excuses. He just got outrun by these good horses. We'll regroup and do something later. We'll figure it out. He needs to try the grass sooner or later. It was a monster race. It's a great honor to be a part of it. The noise from the crowd out front was shaking this building. It was incredible. It's nice to be a part of something special. I thought my horse ran his race. I'm proud of him. That was a spectacular performance, what Bob did with this horse. There can't be anything greater for the sport."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1
Jan. 6, four in 49.33 Breezing 21/97 at GP
Jan. 13, five in 1:01.25 Breezing 15/53 at GP
Jan. 20, five in 1:01.04 Breezing 11/40 at GP
Jan. 27, five in 59:02 Breezing 1/18 at GP
Feb. 18, four in 48:13 Breezing 9/68 at GP
Feb. 24, five in 1.01:55 Breezing 16/39 at GP
March 3, five in 1.02:55 Breezing 28/46 at GP
March 24, four in 49:91 Breezing 65/96 at GP
March 31, five in 1.01:80 Breezing 12/33 at GP
April 21, five in 59:00 Breezing 1/52 at CD
April 28, four in 49:40 Breezing 27/83 at CD
May 21, four in 47:60 Breezing 1/51 at CD
May 28, five in 59:60 Breezing 2/25 at CD
June 3, five in 59:20 Breezing 1/15 at CD

 

 

GRONKOWSKI (KY)
Trainer: Chad Brown
Owner: Phoenix Thoroughbred III Limited & Rob Gronkowski
Breeder: Epic Thoroughbreds LLC
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Lonhro (AUS) (Octagonal (NZ), Shadea (NZ))
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Four Sugars (Lookin at Lucky, Iridescence)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 3-2-5-0-0 (10) 3.00
Foal Date: Feb. 1, 2015

$75,000 Keeneland November 2015
$67,415 Tattersall's October 2016
$404,492 Tattersall's Breeze-Up Sale 2017

Gronkowksi finished seventh and second in his first two outings, both on grass, but later found success on  all-weather surfaces. He won by 4 1/2 lengths in his first try on the surface going a mile at Chelmsford City in November, and then led throughout in taking his 3-year-old debut, again at one mile, by six lengths at Newcastle in February, albeit among an extremely short field.

On March 7, the Road to the Kentuck Derby Conditions Stakes was contested at Kempton Park in England on its all-weather surface going a one-turn mile. Taken back early by jockey Jamie Spencer, Gronkowski pulled hard in the run down the backside, but was allowed to advance with a three-wide move on the turn. Ranging up to be on even terms with pacesetting longsot Ventura Knight in upper stretch while still under a snug hold, Gronkowski responded when asked with just over a furlong to go and passed the wire three-quarters of a length ahead of early trailer Court House. The final time was 1:37.74. Kempton judges reviewed the final furlong of the race when Gronkowski came in on Court House, who was forced to switch left for a clear run, but the order of finish wasn't changed. In the U.S. pools, Gronkowski paid $3.40. Finishing 1 1/4  length behind second choice Court House was Fortune’s Pearl, who was followed by Ventura Knight, Three Weeks, Ambient and Bobby Biscuit.

This race was the fifth of seven European Road to the Kentucky Derby races. At that point, Gronkowski was the only top-four finisher that was early-nominated to the Triple Crown.

March 10 NOTE: Trainer Noseda told Racing Post on March 9,  "This plan was hatched after he won at Chelmsford last year. We've taken our two first little steps towards that and if Newcastle and Kempton worked out well then we would go to America for most probably the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, but the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct would also be on our horizon. The easy way to go would be to go to the next race in England but in trying to win the real race you have got to do a real preparation and get him on American dirt and get him to race on American dirt to know where you are. As much as there is an easy route there, if you really want to achieve the big prize the prep race on dirt in America is key.

March 25 NOTE: Racing Post reported that trainer Noseda admitted misunderstanding the Derby points system and will now run Gronkowski in the Burradon Stakes instead of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.

In the March 30 Burradon Stakes going a straight mile on synthetic, as reported at Bloodhorse.com, "Jamie Spencer settled Gronkowski near the back in the field of 10.... With just more than a quarter-mile remaining, Spencer guided Gronkowski out to the stands side of the course and the colt responded to the open room, quickly improving his position.... Gronkowski steadily wore them down before finally opening a clear advantage at the wire to score by 1 1/4 lengths over longshot Iconic Sunset, who just edged third-place Dark Acclaim for the runner-up spot. Iconic Sunset earned his first stakes-placing and Dark Acclaim has finished third in a pair of stakes."

The chart call: "Took keen hold, held up on near side of group, headway to lead over one furlong out, driven out final furlong." The time was 1:37.49.

Jeremy Noseda: "It sounds strange, but I haven't yet seen on the racetrack what I believe this horse is capable of. I'm sure there's more to come. We'll go and sharpen up and get ready for Kentucky now. We'll need a much better effort, but I'm sure we can do ourselves justice. He hasn't got real gears, but if he can get into a rhythm, he can keep in a rhythm a long time."

April 18 NOTE: Revealed today that the New England Patriots player Rob Gronkowski bought part of Gronkowski.

April 23 NOTE: Gronkowski's connections say he spiked a fever, has a slight infection and cannot be shipped to the U.S., so he is out of the Kentucky Derby. We are told he will get some time off.

April 24 NOTE: Connections say, in the midst of Kentucky Derby coverage, Gronkowski is pointed to the Belmont Stakes. Tom Ludt, Vice President of equine operations for Phoenix Thoroughbreds, said “Gronkowski the horse is recovering very well from a small infection. He’s extremely strong, and we are excited about getting him to the U.S. to compete at The Belmont.” Rob Gronkowski said. “As an athlete, I understand the need for rest and recovery time. I’m glad that he’s recovering quickly, and I look forward to meeting him soon and taking some selfies!”

May 8 NOTE: Gronkowski removed from Jeremy Noseda's care. He told Racing Post he was given no explanation. Transferred to Chad Brown.

May 21 NOTE: Gronkowsi was shipped across the ocean to Chad Brown's barn on or about May 11. We're starting to look for a workout.

Looking comfortable all the way around Belmont Park's 1 1/2-mile oval, Justify became the second horse in three years to win the Triple Crown by caputring the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike Smith rode masterfully. He got Justify away from the gate in good order, and the two of them led at each call of the race while running close to an even pace. Justify's fractions were 23.37 for the first quarter-mile, 48.11 for the half, 1:13.21 for six furlongs, 1:38.09 at one mile, 2:02.90 after 1 1/4 mile and home in 2:28.18. He ran the final quarter-mile of the race in 25.28 seconds. Gronkowski and Hofburg both made late runs to fill out the trifecta. Justify's margin of victory was 1 3/4 length, with another 1 3/4 length separating the two-three finshers. Vino Rosso, Tenfold, Bravazo, Free Drop Billy, Restoring Hope, Blended Citizen and Noble Indy rounded out the order of finish.

Chad Brown: "I'm really proud of my horse. The horse ran a great race. He had a lot of things against him, and we talked about that all week. It was his first time running on dirt, his first time going a mile and a half and he was coming off the layoff. I'm really proud of the way of the way he ran on dirt with so many things going against him. Then he misses the break, and then there's a soft pace.

"I was shocked to see him that far back. It was no fault of Jose. The horse didn't break well. It was his first time racing in the country here. Even though we warmed the horse up well in the post parade, and we kept the blinkers on him, but he just didn't break at all. Then to see a decent first quarter but then they backed it down and nobody went with the horse, and that was extremely disappointing. We can't help because we were so far back. There were other riders in there that can.
 
"But hey. The pace might have been a little slow but this horse ran in all three races and he won the Triple Crown and went the whole mile and a half today. He showed up and earned it.

"My thought turning for home was that (Gronkowski) had a shot to get him if Justify was vulnerable at a mile and a half. Even though the fractions were soft for a horse of his caliber, still he had to go a mile and a half. And I thought maybe, because I could see Gronkowski flying, but he just couldn't get to that horse.

"It's one of those Triple Crowns where I had two really good horses. I think in each race I had the second-best horse and that's the way it went. That's the end of the story. Justify is a top horse and he won the Triple Crown, and that's what horse racing is all about. You've got to run against everybody and it only takes one good one to beat you. To come so close in the Triple Crown...but we ran into a real buzz saw.

"It's exciting to think about what could be down the road with this horse. The Triple Crown is over. One chapter is over and another one begins. We look at this horse as a quality horse for the future. The way he ran today, and yes, we have some things to work on, particularly in getting better position early and stuff like that, but he's an exciting horse and I had a lot of confidence in this horse that he would handle the dirt. I wasn't sure that he was fit enough to stay the mile and a half because we only had him for a little over a month, but in his works, he showed me that he can stay on the dirt.
 
"The previous trainer (Jeremy Noseda), to his credit, he felt this horse could run on the dirt and so did his owner, and they were right.
 
"But it is what it is and I'm really proud of his effort. When he was that far back early I said to myself this is not going to end well. He's just so far back and there are quality horses in front of him and then I saw the fractions and said how is this horse going to close? For him to close up that much ground off a real easy pace, it was a remarkable race that he ran. But it's still a loss. He ran great, but we didn't win."

Jose Ortiz: "He broke a bit slow. He's a horse from England. After that, I didn't have any choice. I had to drop in and save all the ground. He handled the dirt. I worked him twice and he handled it, so I was optimistic. We got a good trip, it worked out well. He broke a bit slow. I wish he would have broke a little bit better."

WORKOUTS SINCE MAY 26
May 26, four in 47.99 Breezing 3/35 at BEL
June 2, five in 1.01:87 Breezing good track: 4/8 at BEL

 

 

HOFBURG (KY)
Trainer: Bill Mott
Owner: Juddmonte Farms, Inc.
Breeder: Juddmonte Farms
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Tapit (Pulpit, Tap Your Heels)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Soothing Touch (Touch Gold, Glia)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 6-11-16-1-0 (34) 2.78
Foal Date: Feb. 11, 2015

Hofburg’s half-sister Emollient, also trained by Mott, won six of 18 starts including four grade 1 races and more than $1.3 million in purses from 2012 to 2014.


He was fourth in his career debut going seven furlongs on Sept. 2 at Saratoga. Trainer Mott later said "we did have a race last August at Saratoga, and he ran really well."

Hofburg didn't race again in 2017.

On March 3, Hofburg was an impressive maiden special weight winner going 1 1/6 mile on March 3 at Gulfstream Park. He was initially hesitant to load in the starting gate. Once the gates opened, he settled just off the pace, took a clear lead entering the stretch and held on to win by a half-length at 7-1 odds over Just Whistle, who was 36-1. Traveling Midas was another 4 3/4 lengths back in third at 3-1 odds, while Personal Time, the even-money favorite, was fourth, beaten six lengths. The race was timed in 1:45.54 on a track rated fast.

The chart call: "Hofburg briefly delayed the start reluctant to load, came away in good order only to be strung out five wide around the first turn, moved after the leaders four wide into the far turn, took over from Travelling Midas as they shifted nearer the inside with a quarter-mile remaining, drifted out in deep stretch while clear, and straightened out in time to keep Just Whistle at bay.

March 27 NOTE: Trainer Mott said, “We don’t have a lot of seasoning in us, but we did have a race last August at Saratoga, and he ran really well. We’ve been pretty high on the colt all along. He had time after that race, and his race here was very good. It was over the race track, he had a wide trip and came out a winner. It’s a big reach, but looking at what’s probably available for him, we just thought it was worth taking a chance with him. We’ve always regarded him pretty well, and thought we’d give it a try.” Speaking of his half-sister Emollient, Mott said, "She broke her maiden on the dirt and won an a-other-than on the dirt and then she wound up being a multiple grade 1 winner on the synthetic and on the turf, but she was a very good mare/ This colt comes from a good female line and a good sire line, so he’s got a lot going for him.”

In the Florida Derby on March 31, Audible won and Hofburg, Mississippi and Catholic Boy finished second, third and fourth. The 8-5 favorite, Audible and John Velazquez were content to stay nearly a dozen lengths, then almost nine lengths behind a fast early pace of 21.96 and 46.37 set by Promises Fulfilled, with Strike Power right on his heels. Those two were a half-dozen lengths ahead of the rest of the field early in the backstretch.  Going into the far turn, the pace was beginning to take its toll on the front runners, and  MIssissippi, ridden by Julien Leparoux,made his move three wide to get within a length of the lead with six furlongs gone in 1:11.68. He led through the turn while Audilble, who was fifth but only two lengths behind heading into the far turn, made a four-wide closing move. He got by Mississippi leaving the turn.  Hofburg and Jose Ortiz were eighth of nine runners, 15 lengths back, early on, but they were only 3 1/2 lengths in arrears, albeit still eighth,  going into the far turn.  Like Audible did, Hofburg went four wide on the turn and ran by Mississippi inside the furlong marker to finish second, three lengths behind Audible. It was another 7 3/4 lengths back to Mississippi. Catholic Boy, who tried to mount a challenge at about the same time and in the same way as Audible and Hofburg, finished fourth, beaten 12 lengths. The final time for the 1 1/8 mile was 1:49.48.

Bill Mott: “I think we’re all pleased.  Naturally, winning would have been the only thing that would have been better, but he ran well and he galloped out well. He took a lot of dirt, and he was very professional. He did everything right. He was much more seasoned today when he came down here and was in the post parade and everything. He seemed to be more at home. We had him down here for a few days. He was here since Wednesday, so he had an opportunity to train here and school in the gate. He was much better. He was the perfect gentleman and a professional today.”

“We’ve certainly got to think about (the Kentucky Derby). He ran well enough and galloped out good enough. I guess we’ve got to take everything into consideration, but we’re certainly not going to rule anything out at this point.”

Jose Ortiz: “Perfect trip, he did it like a champ. He proved a lot today and got beat by a good horse. I followed Audible the whole way, good trip and he behaved like a champ. I’m really happy with how he’s progressing, I think he’s a really nice horse.”

In the May 5 Kentucky Derby run on a sloppy track during rain, Hofburg finished seventh, beaten 8 3/4 lengths. He was 15th, nine lengths off the pace, going into the far turn.

Bill Mott: “His trip was a bit rough.”

Irad Ortiz, Jr.: “It went pretty good at first, then horses came backing up in front of me and I had nowhere to go. I had to check him a little bit and after that he came back. When I asked him he was there, he was coming.”

Looking comfortable all the way around Belmont Park's 1 1/2-mile oval, Justify became the second horse in three years to win the Triple Crown by capturing the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike Smith rode masterfully. He got Justify away from the gate in good order, and the two of them led at each call of the race while running close to an even pace. Justify's fractions were 23.37 for the first quarter-mile, 48.11 for the half, 1:13.21 for six furlongs, 1:38.09 at one mile, 2:02.90 after 1 1/4 mile and home in 2:28.18. He ran the final quarter-mile of the race in 25.28 seconds. Gronkowski and Hofburg both made late runs to fill out the trifecta. Justify's margin of victory was 1 3/4 length, with another 1 3/4 length separating the two-three finshers. Vino Rosso, Tenfold, Bravazo, Free Drop Billy, Restoring Hope, Blended Citizen and Noble Indy rounded out the order of finish.

Bill Mott, trainer of third-place finisher Hofburg: "There was no pace and nobody put any pressure on the horse and he kind of walked the dog going around there. They were going slow and he said he didn't want to make some crazy move down the backside to go join him, which probably wouldn't have made any sense. Our horse came running. He ran well. I mean, for not having any pace, he finished up very well.

"Mike's great, obviously, and Justify is probably a great horse. I mean, they're a good combination and they got the job done. We saw another Triple Crown winner. A lot of people are happy about it.

"You can't doubt him now, there's no way. You've got to give him credit. He did it right up on the pace, and everybody had an opportunity to take their shot. They didn't do it today. They let it go too easy. I thought at the quarter-pole, our horse was moving and we wanted to be close at the quarter-pole and we did get into position and made a run, but the speed wasn't coming back. They went too slow."

Irad Ortiz, Jr., jockey aboard third-place finisher Hofburg: "I was right there on the far turn, but slow fractions helped the winner. I expected a little more pace early on. I thought I would catch him though on the far turn, but he's a champion and you knew he would run well. I went for it, made my move at the quarter pole but I couldn't catch him."


WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 27
Jan. 27, four in 51.40 Breezing 24/37 at PAY
Feb. 3, five in 1:02.40 Breezing 3/10 at PAY
Feb. 11, five in 1:03.20 Breezing 1/4 at PAY
Feb. 18, four in 49.80 Breezing 4/17 at PAY
Feb. 24, four in 49.00 Breezing gate 3/24 at PAY
March 13, four in 49.60 Breezing 6/20 at PAY
March 20, five in 1:02.60 Breezing 3/11 at PAY
March 26, four furlongs in  48.60 Breezing 1/10 at PAY
April 15, four in 49.02 Breezing 2/11 at PAY
April 22, five in 1:01.60 Breezing 1/6 at PAY
April 29, four in 48.20 Breezing 9/73 at CD
May 18, four in 49:32 Breezing training track 6/50 at SAR
May 25, six in 1.13:43 Breezing training track 1/1 at SAR
June 3, June 3, five in 1.01:03 Breezing training track 1/11 at SAR

 

 

JUSTIFY (KY)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: China Horse Club International Ltd., Head of Plains Partners LLC (Sol Kumin), Starlight Racing & WinStar Farm LLC
Breeder: John D. Gunther
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Scat Daddy (Johannesburg, Love Style)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Stage Magic (Ghostzapper, Magical Illusion)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-6-8-1-0 (20) 3.00
Foal Date: March 28, 2015

$500,000 Keeneland September 2016

On Sunday, Feb. 18, Justify debuted at 1-2 odds and blew away four rivals in a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Santa Anita. Timed in 1:21.86 under Drayden Van Dyke, Justify won by 9 1/2 lengths. He led at each call. After being challenged by Show Time Rocket through fractions of 21.80 and 44.37, he shook loose in the turn, led by five lengths with a furlong left and drew off. Meanwhile, Show Time Rocket faded to last.  The chart says he was "a half step slow into stride, had good early speed and dueled between horses, inched away just off the rail on the turn, drifted in a bit in the stretch and drew off under some left handed urging and steady handling."

Bob Baffert: “He does not need blinkers! It’s not too late. I’ve got a plan…We’re looking for (a graded stake). He’s shown his brilliance in the morning.”

In a one-mile allowance race on a sealed muddy track on March 11 at Santa Anita, Justify made short work of four rivals, putting them away in the blink of an eye when asked by Mike Smith. He raced three wide dueling for second place untill Smith smooched him, and then he was gone. The race was timed in 1:35.73. In the winner's circle, Smith compared Justify to Easy Goer.

Mike Smith: “That was extremely impressive. He passed the two turn test with flying colors. He had a little bit of the second race jitters in the post parade, in the beginning. But man, he took a deep breath and chilled out. For a young horse he has a great mind. That might allow him to catch up even sooner than a normal horse, because of his talent and the mind to go with it. He settled and took dirt. Just a little, I didn’t want to get carried away with it. He just kept passing every test so I just stayed out of the way.

(After hearing the final time of 1:35.73) “And he was gearing down. I didn’t want him to completely pull up so I just squeezed him a little bit but he was gearing way down and did that with flying colors. I was happy to keep the weight on his back anyway. That (acceleration) came so natural. He switched leads and naturally opened up his stride and was two in front. I was like, ‘wow.’ I didn’t ask him to move, he just did that extremely easily. He came off that turn like it was a stroll. Just very, very impressed. I hate to compare him to other horses right now, but doesn’t he remind you of an Easy Goer way back in the day? Just a big ol’ red horse with a big, powerful stride. The distance didn’t seem to bother him. I know that was just a mile but he could have galloped out another quarter of a mile if he had to. There’s a lot of potential there.

March 16 NOTE: Trainer Baffert told John Cherwa of the LA Times that he’s decided to keep McKinzie at home for the Santa Anita Derby and that Justify would be ticketed to the Arkansas Derby a week later. “It could change, but that’s the plan right now,” said Baffert in a text message to the Times this morning.

April 2 NOTE: After Justify worked this morning, trainer Baffert said he will compete in the Santa Anita Derby instead of the Arkansas Derby.

April 5 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said, “I’ll let Mike Smith deal with (the early going). Last time, he sat off a horse, but the jump is more important than the barrier. We call him Big Red at the barn, We’re always looking for the big red sonofagun, but he’s got to pass this test before we start calling him anything special.”

In the Santa Anita Derby on April 7, Justify won, Bolt d'Oro finished second and Core Beliefs and Instilled Regard were third and fourth. Justify was made the 4-5 favorite by bettors. Bolt d'Oro was 11-10.  Ridden by Mike Smith, Justify broke on top of the seven-horse field and set fractions of 23.96, 47.85  and 1:12.61 going into the far turn. Bolt d'Oro, under Javier Castellano, gave chase and tracked the leader first about 1 1/2 length back, then three lengths. Approaching the turn, the chase was on and 'Bolt' narrowed the gap to 1 1/2 length again.  As the pair left the turn, the ultimate result was in doubt for a few moments, but Justify edged ahead of Bolt d'Oro and widened the gap to three lengths at the finish line. The mile and an eighth was timed in 1:49.72. Core Beliefs, a 41-1 longshot, finished third, beaten 9 1/2 lengths. Instilled Regard, the third betting choice at 5-1, lagged far behind the pace and failed to rally.

Bob Baffert: There was concern down the backside when he took off like that. I was worried about him. Mike let him run a little bit but he said he (Justify) saw something in the infield and he sort of spooked. He said I might want to put a little more bit on him to control him, and I told Mike he better start working out between now and then (Kentucky Derby May 5) to hold him down.

“It was very exciting. Those are two really tough horses. I figure that race for Bolt d’Oro probably took a little bit out of him with McKinzie (in the San  Felipe on March 10), but they’re two really good horses. I think the whole field is really tough. But Justify is just a natural and he’s just learning how to run. He has that big, beautiful stride. He reminds you a lot of Point Given, just a big, red train type of horse. He’s quick and he’s light on his feet. It’s just good that he showed up, he did what we thought and were hoping he was going to do. I just feel fortunate to have him. It takes a lot of the sting out of what happened to McKinzie. It’s a tough business but we’ve just got to keep going.”

Mike Smith: “He rides with room to grow. He’s learning and it’s the first time he rides with the infield open, I don’t know if he saw the umbrellas and everyone screaming that he got to looking at them so much that I had to get the bit out of his mouth to really make him pay attention and that’s when he kind of skirted away and focused. What you’re seeing right now is really just raw talent. He’s got so much room to grow and to even get better, believe it or not. I think this race is going to put a lot more bottom into him. He handled a 1 1/8 really well and like I said what you’re seeing right now is just raw talent. If he moves forward off of this race, which he should, then it’s even kind of scary to talk about.”
 
Jack Wolf (Starlight Stables), part owner:  “He did it pretty easy.  We came in late on both him and Audible and they’re both Grade I winners. We’re just tagging along here with WinStar, the China Horse Club and Head of Plains…Even I couldn’t screw it up!  We’ve got two great trainers with Bob here and Todd back there.”

April 15 NOTE: Trainer Baffert told Jay Privman of DRF that  Justify is scheduled to have two works prior to the Derby, the first of them slotted for later this week at Santa Anita. Baffert left the door open for Justify to work at Churchill Downs, too.

April 22 NOTE: As reported yesterday, Justify will put in final pre-Kentucky Derby workout at home at Santa Anita and won't arrive in Kentucky until Derby week.

In the May 5 Kentucky Derby run on a sloppy track during rain, Justify tracked Promises Fulfilled through fractions of 22.24, 45.77 and 1:11.01 with Flameaway, Bolt d'Oro and Good Magic closely tracking those two. Justify took over going into the far turn and emerged into the stretch with a 1 1/2-length lead over Good Magic. Meanwhile, Audible entered the far turn in 12th position, eight lengths off the lead; Instilled Regard was 17th, 10 lengths off the lead, and My Boy Jack was last of all, 17 1/4 lengths back. Justify increased his advantage to 2 1/2 lengths at the finish, with Good Magic holding off Audible's late charge by a head. Instilled Regard finished fourth, beaten 4 1/4 lengths, and My Boy Jack was fifth, another 2 3/4 lengths back.

Bob Baffert: “We saw something really great. That’s greatness right there. When he won his second race, we were in Pharoah territory.”

Mike Smith: “Going into the race the main concern was just getting him out of the gate. This horse is so talented. I keep using the term ‘above average’ because he has a mind to him as well. It was a sigh of relief when I got him out of the gate and I just stayed out of his way. Bolt d’Oro came to my outside the first time by the wire and I figured if we were going fast up front, they’re going fast behind me as well.”

With the Preakness starting gate and the track at Pimlico enshrouded in fog, Mike Smith and Justify broke from post 7 and rolled down the sloppy-sealed stretch the first time to the outside of Good Magic and Jose Ortiz, who had exited post 5. With just a head separating them, Justify and Good Magic posted fractions of 23.11 seconds for the first quarter-mile, 47.19 for the half and 1:11.42 for six furlongs. As the pair approached the top of the stretch, Justify could be seen with Smith's white WinStar silks begin to get the better of Good Magic, and he led by a half-length with an eighth of a mile left. At that point, Tenfold had advanced from sixth in the early going to be third, 3 1/2 lengths off the lead, and Bravazo was fifth, five lengths in arrears. With Good Magic tiring, Tenfold got by him late, then Bravazo, and at the wire Justify had won by a half-length. It was a neck from Bravazo back to Tenfold in third and another neck to Good Magic. Lone Sailor finished fifth, beaten only two lengths, after being last after the first half-mile. Another 8 3/4 lengths behind him was Sporting Chance, followed closely by Diamond King. Quip was distanced, beaten 45 1/2 lengths when he faded badly after the first six furlongs. The final time was 1:55.93.

Bob Baffert: “It was a nail-biter. They put it to us. That was a good horse [Good Magic] and it was like they had their own private match race. Somebody had to give, and I’m glad it wasn’t us. I’m so happy that we got it done. He’s just a great horse, to handle all that pressure and keep on running. He had to really work for it and I’m happy for the horse and Mike and all the connections that we pulled it out. They ran fast; I’ve never had one run that fast here. It took a lot out of me but I’m just glad … everybody came to see a good horse race. It was a great horse race. Good Magic, I tip my hand to him. He made us really work. He’s a really good horse.”

Mike Smith: “It’s unbelievable. It’s a dream come true, to be honest with you. It’s been 25 years since I was blessed to win my first one, which was here, and to go into it with Bob and [wife] Jill and the whole crew, WinStar and China Horse Club and everyone who’s involved, Jack Wolf, I’m just so blessed to be riding for these people right now. I’m on cloud nine. He got a little tired. This is the hardest race that he’s had, but he was also waiting on competition. It was awful loud out there and the track’s pretty narrow and he was kind of looking and jumping tracks and doing a few things, but it was a good kind of tired. It was that kind of tired I’m hoping, anyway, and I feel like he’ll move forward.”

Looking comfortable all the way around Belmont Park's 1 1/2-mile oval, Justify became the second horse in three years to win the Triple Crown by capturing the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike Smith rode masterfully. He got Justify away from the gate in good order, and the two of them led at each call of the race while running close to an even pace. Justify's fractions were 23.37 for the first quarter-mile, 48.11 for the half, 1:13.21 for six furlongs, 1:38.09 at one mile, 2:02.90 after 1 1/4 mile and home in 2:28.18. He ran the final quarter-mile of the race in 25.28 seconds. Gronkowski and Hofburg both made late runs to fill out the trifecta. Justify's margin of victory was 1 3/4 length, with another 1 3/4 length separating the two-three finshers. Vino Rosso, Tenfold, Bravazo, Free Drop Billy, Restoring Hope, Blended Citizen and Noble Indy rounded out the order of finish.

Bob Baffert: "It's amazing. It never gets old. American Pharoah, he'll always be my first love. Justify was showing me the same signs, he showed me that same brilliance. Superior horse. I mean, he could have won every race on the undercard today. He's just that kind of horse."

Mike Smith: "This horse ran a tremendous race. He's so gifted. He's sent from heaven. He's just amazing. Did you see him standing in the gate? He's standing so still. I actually thought, 'He's not going to break today.' I mean, he left there like he was going 440 yards in Ruidoso, New Mexico."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1
Jan. 6, five in 1:01.00 Handily 5/19 at LA
Jan. 15, five in 1:00.00 Handily 1/6 at LA
Jan. 29, five in 1:01.20 Handily 12/45 at SA
Feb. 5, six in 1:12.40 Handily gate 1/7 at SA
Feb. 12, six in 1:13.80 Handily gate 4/14 at SA
Feb. 26, five in 1.01:40 Handily 33/55 at SA
March 5, five in 1.00:80 Handily 29/106 at SA
March 20, four in 46:40 Handily 1/103 at SA
March 26, five in 59:60 2/116 at SA
April 2, six in 1.13:20 Handily 2/8 at SA
April 21, six in 1.13:20 Handily 4/16 at SA
April 27, seven in 1.25:20 Handily 1/1 at SA
May 29, four in 46:80 Breezing 1/43 at CD
June 4, five in 1:01.40 Breezing 9/15 at CD

 

 

NOBLE INDY (KY)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owner: WinStar Farm LLC & Repole Stable
Breeder: WinStar Farm
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Take Charge Indy (A.P. Indy, Take Charge Lady)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Noble Maz (Storm Boot, Ilusive Note)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 4-5-9-0-0 (18) 3.00
Foal Date: March 31, 2015

$45,000 RNA Keeneland September 2016

Noble Indy debuted on Dec. 3 at Gulfstream Park with a head-turning 8 3/4 -length victory in the sixth race, a seven-furlong maiden special weight. Noble Indy acted up in the starting gate and had to be reloaded into his outside stall, but he did everything right thereafter. He went right to the lead under Tyler Gaffalione, withstood mild pressure on the backstretch and drew off impressively to get the seven furlongs in a sharp 1:22.15.

American League MVP Jose Altuve, the second baseman of the World Champion Houston Astros, was at the track and saw Noble Indy’s debut.

Tyler Gaffalione: “That’s a nice horse. He still a little green. He’s still learning. It’s all coming together. Once it does, I think he’s going to be a very talented horse.”

Dec. 6 NOTE: Trainer Pletcher said,“We were hoping for a good effort. He had been training really well. We’d been pointing to that race since the condition book came out. It was exciting. He’s a big good-looking colt who’s bred to run longer and for him to show good tactical speed when going seven-eighths is encouraging.” As for his next start: “We’ll play it by ear. I wouldn’t rule out something like the Mucho Macho Man or a one-other-than. We’ll just see how he comes out of his race. The only thing he’s been a little bit complicated about is making sure he behaves at the gate, which we’ve been working hard on. He still needs to improve in that area.”

On Jan. 11 at Gulfstream Park, which was a Thursday, Noble Indy scored in his first start around two turns -- and against winners -- in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance. Ridden by John Velazquez, he finished three-quarters of a length ahead of Mississippi as the 4-5 favorite. Mississippi set the pace under Julien Leparoux, posting fractions of 23.82, 47.33 and 1:11.27 for six furlongs while being pressed by Noble Indy, who inched away through the stretch. Tip Sheet finished a distant third under Emisael Jaramillo. Noble Indy was timed in 1:42.52 after behaving much more professionally in the starting gate than he did in his debut.

Trainer Pletcher said a stakes start would likely be next.

Todd Pletcher: “I thought it was a big effort. You’re always concerned making your first start against winners, some pretty well-thought-of horses in the race, and stretching out around two turns. I though he did everything we’d want him to do. We’ve been working on (the starting gate). I thought he improved. He was actually great in the enclosure. Then when we got out in the walking ring, he got up on his toes a little bit. I didn’t have any issues with that. I thought he handled himself well in the gate. Johnny said when he made the lead, he idled a bit. Hopefully, there’s more to come.”

Feb. 15 NOTE: Trainer Pletcher told Christie DeBernardis of TDN, "He's been training super. We are looking forward to seeing how he handles a new location and a step up in class. We are very pleased with the way he is coming up to it."

The Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 17 started with Bravazo (21-1) and Snapper Sinclair (41-1) duking it out, and that's the way it ended as the former nosed out the latter.  Noble Indy, always prominent, finished third, and 7-5 post time favorite Instilled Regard, who also was among the top four at each call, finished fourth. Miguel Mena booted Bravazo home after Gary Stevens, who was named to ride Bravazo on his entry form, didn't make the trip from Oaklawn Park. Adam Beschizza took Snapper Sinclair to the lead, hounded by Bravazo. In the first turn, Noble Indy, who broke well under John Velazquez, found himself just behind the leaders in third with Instilled Regard and Javier Castellano three wide to his outside in fourth. The group ran closely bunched through fractions of 24.15, 47.96 and 1:12.85.  Going into the far turn, Instilled Regard made a bid at the pacesetters, but in the stretch, Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair wouldn't be denied, and Instilled Regard's bid fell short. Meanwhile Noble Indy, looking a bit green, continued to run strongly and retook third position. Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair hit the wire virtually together, and photo showed them separated by a nostril. Noble Indy was two lengths back, a neck ahead of Instilled Regard. The top two got to the wire in race horse time with the clock stopping in 1:42.95.

John Velazquez: “That’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to teach him. I wanted to give him a good schooling and see how he reacted. In the end he ran good, just a little green, that’s it.”

Elliot Walden, CEO of WinStar Farm, owner of Noble Indy: “I was very pleased. Always like to win, but I think Johnny made the choice to take him off horses, and that might have cost us the race today, but I think in the long run it will be a good experience.”

In the March 24 Louisiana Derby, Noble Indy won, and Lone Sailor, My Boy Jack and Givemeaminit were second, third and fourth.  Longshot Marmello that broke on top and led the field through the first turn and up a portion of the backstretch with Noble Indy, running under John Velazquez with blinkers for the first time, in closest pursuit, followed by Bravazo on the inside, Snapper Sinclair several paths wide, and Givemeaminit .  Initial fractions were a spritely 22.97 and 46.64. Marmello yielded before the second turn, and Noble Indy was leading by two lengths after six furlongs in 1:11.47. Noble Indy sped into the turn close to the rail with Lone Sailor and James Graham in sixth position, four lengths off the lead. My Boy Jack and Kent Desormeaux were last of 10 after the first half-mile and still last by almost 11 lengths after six furlongs. Noble Indy exited the turn with his advantage shortening. Lone Sailor grabbed a one-length lead mid-stretch a couple of paths outside Noble Indy. Meanwhile, My Boy Jack flew down the center of the track and also got ahead of Noble Indy, but not Lone Sailor. Noble Indy dug in and impressively surged back to the lead and reached the wire first, a neck in front of Lone Sailor, with My Boy Jack another half-length back in third. Givemeaminit, in fourth, was beaten 8 1/2 lengths. The race was timed in 1:50.28.

Todd Pletcher: “I think the blinkers had him more focused. I was a little concerned early on, he was a little too head-strong. Johnny made a good tactical move letting the pace setter go and then getting outside of the horse. He fought back hard, finished up well and galloped out with enthusiasm. This race was a big step in the right direction. I was pleased with the way he conducted himself. He seems to be maturing as he gets more experience.”

John Velazquez: “He was so far out that we never noticed them until (Lone Sailor) started coming next to me and put up a very nice fight down the lane. That’s what made him brave and come back again. I’m happy with the way he did it. The reason we put the blinkers on is because we know that he is very talented, but he’s very green. Today with blinkers on he was better, but he was a little too keen on the backstretch so I was a little afraid that he was a little too strong on the backstretch. I was a little afraid that he was a little too strong down the backstretch and would not have anything down the lane.”

In the May 5 Kentucky Derby run on a sloppy track during rain, Noble Indy finished 17th, beaten 22 1/4 lengths. He was seventh, 4 3/4 lengths off the pace, going into the far turn.

Todd Pletcher: Florent...got his trip; he just wasn’t good enough.”

Florent Geroux: “My horse did not like the wet track. I was happy with the trip I had on the outside. I was about to take a good position but floated two-three wide on the first turn. He just didn’t handle the off going very well.”

In the Belmont Stakes on June 9, Noble Indy finished last of 10, beaten 54 lengths after steadily losing ground throughout the race.

Todd Pletcher: "Noble Indy didn't behave great in the paddock . He got a little bit anxious in the post parade but none of the race went as we wanted it to go. We wanted to get away from the gate, get involved early to be close to the pace. He didn't break great. He broke out a little bit, and basically Javier decided he was going to something different than we set out to do, and the horse didn't' respond very well."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1
Jan. 4, five in 1:02.19 Breezing 3/4 at PBD
Jan. 27, four in  50.03 Breezing 9/14 at PBD
Feb. 3, four in 48:95 Breezing 5/24 at PBD
Feb. 10, five in 1.01:12 Breezing 1/4 at PBD
March 3, four in 49:21 Breezing 6/26 at PBD
March 10, five in 1.01:39 Breezing 7/12 at PBD
March 17, five in 1.00:77 Breezing 2/10 at PBD
April 6, four in 50:20 Breezing 5/18 at PBD
April 13, five in 1.01:00 Breezing 4/7 at PBD
April 20, six in 1.15:00 Breezing 1/2 at PBD
April 27, five in 1.01:60 Breezing 24/43 at CD
May 25, four in 47:04 Breezing 1/36 at BEL
June 1, five in 1:01.22 Breezing good training track (1/10) at BEL

 

 

RESTORING HOPE (KY)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: Gary and Mary West
Breeder: Gary & Mary West Stables, Inc.
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Giant's Causeway (Storm Cat, Mariah's Storm)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Symbol of Freedom (Tapit, Slammingpartygirl)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 3-6-25-0-0 (34) 1.72
Foal Date: May 5, 2015

He finished 2017 a maiden, but he got some attention from Steve Haskin, who wrote on Dec. 18, "Restoring Hope was brought to my attention several weeks earlier when Baffert said he had a Giant's Causeway colt who he was very high on."

Restoring Hope debuted on Dec. 17 at Los Alamitos in a six-furlong maiden special weight. In Haskin's eyes, "Dropping back to seventh early, he unleashed the most explosive turn of foot I've seen by any 2-year-old this year and then had to fan some six-wide turning for home." Restoring Hope was beaten a nose by All Out Blitz, who was running for the third time. All Out Blitz sat 1 1/2 length back of favored Montmarte's 22.34 and 44.31 before taking command just above the furlong marker. Restoring Hope came soaring home and was barely beaten. The third finisher was Montmarte, beaten three parts of a length.

On Dec. 30, Restoring Hope was wheeled back in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight, and he was made the 3-2 second choice, but the 3-5 favorite, Peace, won the race in 1:46.42 and beat Restoring Hope by 4 1/4 lengths.. Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Restoring Hope pressed the early pace, the early pace folded, Restoring Hope led into the turn albeit barely, but he could not stay on and was beaten not only by Peace, but also by Regulate.

On Feb. 2, in his third career start, Restoring Hope broke his maiden at Santa Anita in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight. The 4-5 favorite in a field of seven, he  prevailed by 3 1/2 lengths under Flavien Prat after stalking 1 1/2 length back in second through six furlong splits of 23.63, 47.64  and 1:12.51 set by second finisher Longden. The final time was 1:45.24. The chart says he "had speed outside, then angled in and dueled alongside the runner-up, took the lead into the stretch, inched away a sixteenth out and pulled clear under urging."

Bob Baffert: “He’s all caught up now. We were playing catch-up with him going into his last race, but we’re ready for the deep end of the pool now.  He’s got a lot of quality, and he’s bred to go a mile and a quarter.  He’ll run all day.”

In the April 7 Wood Memorial, Vino Rosso won, Enticed was second, Restoring Hope was third and Firenze Fire fourth. Vino Rosso and John Velazquez had to go wide through the first turn. Old Time Revival led the field of nine early, and in the backstretch  was at least a half-dozen lengths in front of favored Enticed, ridden by Junior Alvarado, and the rest of the field through fractions of 22.96  and  46.68. As he approached the second turn in  1:11.44, his lead began to perceptibly diminish, and Vino Rosso and Enticed engulfed Old Time Revival on the far turn with Restoring Hope in pursuit not too far back. Turning for home, with Restoring Hope dropping back four lengths by mid-stretch,  the race was between Vino Rosso and Enticed, and it was Vino Rosso that  was fastest home, clear by three lengths in 1:49.79. . Restoring Hope finished another 5 1/4 lengths back in third. Firenze Fire was fourth. There was a stewards' inquiry and a jockey's objection lodged by Alvarado claiming interference by Vino Rosso in the stretch, but stewards declined to act.

In the Pat Day Mile run on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs on May 5, a horse never on my radar, Funny Duck, won by 4 3/4 lengths at 39-1 odds under Brian Hernandez, Jr.. New York Central was second at 31-1 and Givemeaminit was third at 21-1. Restoring Hope had a wide trip around the turn and faded to finish 12th, beaten 24 1/4 lengths.

In the Belmont Stakes on June 9, Restoring Hope finished eighth, beaten 38 3/4 lengths after steadily losing ground throughout the race.

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1
Jan. 13, six in 47.80 Handily 6/85 at SA
Jan. 21, six in 1:13.00 Handily 2/14 at SA
Jan. 28, six in 1:12.40 Handily 1/10 at SA
Feb. 11, four in 47:60 Handily 4/101 at SA
Feb. 17, six in 1.16:00 Handily 13/18 at SA
Feb. 24, six in 1.12:00 Handily 2/11 at SA
March 4, six in 1.11:60 Handily 2/6 at SA
March 12, five in 1.03:40 Handily 6/6 at SA
March 19, five in 1.00:40 Handily 21/86 at SA
March 25, six in 1.12:20 Handily 1/25 at SA
April 2, five in 59:80 Breezing 2/82 at SA
April 21, five in 1.00:20 Handily 10/94 at SA
April 28, five in 1.00:00 Handily 2/80 at SA
May 14, four in 47:00 Breezing 1/23 at CD
May 22, five in 1.00:00 Breezing 1/19 at CD
May 29, seven in 1.26:00 Breezing 1/1 at CD
June 4, six in 1:13.00 Breezing 1/1 at CD

 

 

TENFOLD (KY)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC
Breeder: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Curlin (Smart Strike (CAN), Sherriff's Deputy)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Temptress (Tapit, Perfect Cause)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-8-13-0-0 (26) 3.00
Foal Date: March 27, 2015

Tenfold didn't debut until Feb. 9, when he won an Oaklawn Park maiden special weight going 1 1/16 mile. At 5-1 odds under Ricardo Santana, Jr., he took the lead and stayed there until he was under the wire with a 5 3/4-length advantage in 1:44.93. Contested splits under pressure were 23.73, 47.72 and 1:13.06, and then he was able to separate from the others. Twist Off was second at 7-2, and Animus was another 4 1/2 lengths back in third. The chart says Tenfold "led inside, drew off in the stretch and was ridden out for the win."

In a 1 11/6-mile allowance optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park on March 18, Tenfold was sent off at 3-5 odds, and he won by a neck under Ricardo Santana, Jr. After stalking Plainsman, then 5-2 second choice Navistar, through splits of 23.26, 47.37 and 1:12.45, he and Navistar, riden by John Velasquez, began separating themselves from the field as they rounded the far turn. Those two dueled in the stretch, and it was Tenfold who won the day. The race was timed in 1:44.16. Another 3 1/4 lengths back, Plainsman was in third at the wire. The chart says Tenfold "broke readily to gain a forward position tracking just off the leaders while angling inwards a bit on the first turn, continued outside a rival under light rating to the second bend, shifted three deep nearing upper stretch while advancing to challenge for command, then wrested a narrow advantage in time under firm handling."

April 8 NOTE: Agent Brian Beach has Victor Espinoza booked to ride Tenfold in the Arkansas Derby.

Magnum Moon won the April 14 Arkansas Derby by four lengths, with Quip, Solomini and Combatant separated by less than a length second, third and fourth. With Luis Saez aboard, Magnum Moon broke from post 6 and immediately went for the lead, but Quip and Florent Geroux quickly joined him to his outside. With Magnum Moon ahead by less than a length, they ran through the first turn and up the backstretch in fractions of 23.34, 48.60 and 1:13.39. Closest behind them were Beautiful Shot, Tenfold, and, for the first half-mile, Machismo. The battle for the lead continued on the second turn, but Magnum Moon cut the corner into the stretch and quickly separated himself from Quip. At the furlong marker he led by two lengths, and he went on to win despite drifting five or six paths toward the outer rail inside the furlong marker. Quip finised second, a neck ahead of Solomini, who was a head in front of Combatant, who was a neck ahead of Tenfold. Following them were Plainsman, beaten 7 1/4 lengths, Dream Baby Dream, Beautiful Shot and Machismo.

With the Preakness starting gate and the track at Pimlico enshrouded in fog, Mike Smith and Justify broke from post 7 and rolled down the sloppy-sealed stretch the first time to the outside of Good Magic and Jose Ortiz, who had exited post 5. With just a head separating them, Justify and Good Magic posted fractions of 23.11 seconds for the first quarter-mile, 47.19 for the half and 1:11.42 for six furlongs. As the pair approached the top of the stretch, Justify could be seen with Smith's white WinStar silks begin to get the better of Good Magic, and he led by a half-length with an eighth of a mile left. At that point, Tenfold had advanced from sixth in the early going to be third, 3 1/2 lengths off the lead, and Bravazo was fifth, five lengths in arrears. With Good Magic tiring, Tenfold got by him late, then Bravazo, and at the wire Justify had won by a half-length. It was a neck from Bravazo back to Tenfold in third and another neck to Good Magic. Lone Sailor finished fifth, beaten only two lengths, after being last after the first half-mile. Another 8 3/4 lengths behind him was Sporting Chance, followed closely by Diamond King. Quip was distanced, beaten 45 1/2 lengths when he faded badly after the first six furlongs. The final time was 1:55.93.

Steve Asmussen: “Honestly, you saw them go by the first time, and I was concerned with where he was. He was a little farther back than I thought he would be. He was pretty wide around the first turn. You see them down the backside, and you know he got in a great position into the second. When they came out of the fog, he was in the game. I’d say he got beat three-quarters of a length for all of it. He’s a top-class horse who is getting better. We were three-quarters of a length away from where we want to be, let’s figure out how to get it.” (The Belmont next?) “Absolutely. Heck yes.”

Ricardo Santana Jr.: “I was happy in the position I was in. He ran a good race, but he’s still just a baby. I am happy with the third place and how he finished. He’s going to be tough later this year. I was happy with the way he ran.”

In the Belmont Stakes on June 9, Tenfold finished fifth, beaten 7 1/4 lengths after running fifth, sixth or seventh at each call.

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1
Jan. 7 five in 1:01.00 Breezing gate 5/62 at FT
Jan. 22 four in 49.60 Breezing 18/52 at FG
Jan. 29 five in 1:02.00 Breezing 9/38 at OP
Feb. 4, four in 52.00 Handily gate 75/78 at OP
Feb. 26, five in 1.02:00 Breezing good track 8/43 at OP
March 5, five in 1.02:00 Breezing muddy track 5/8 at OP
March 12, four in 50:60 Breezing 14/21 at OP
April 2, five in 1.01:20 Breezing 1/10 at OP
April 9, four in 49:60 Breezing 16/39 at OP
April 30, five in 1.01:80 Breezing 9/13 at CD
May 7, five in 1.00:20 Breezing 7/23 at CD
May 14, four in 49:40 Breezing 13/23 at CD
June 2, five in 1.01:60 Breezing 27/42 at CD

 

 

VINO ROSSO (KY)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owner: Repole Stable & St. Elias Stable
Breeder: John D. Gunther
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Curlin (Smart Strike (CAN), Sherriff's Deputy)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Mythical Bride (Street Cry (IRE), Flaming Heart)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-4-7-0-0 (16) 3.57
Foal Date: March 29, 2015

$410,000 Keeneland September 2016

At Churchill Downs April 23 - Barn 40

JOCKEY: John Velazquez

Vino Rosso broke his maiden at first asking on Nov. 11 at Aqueduct going seven furlongs and was rewarded with a trip to Florida.

On Dec. 22, John Velazquez journeyed from the Miami area to ride Vino Rosso in a Friday allowance/optional claiming race at Tampa Bay Downs, signaling Kentucky Derby watchers to pay attention. Vino Rosso toyed with five rivals in the mile-and-40-yard third race. He stalked a slow pace before pulling away through the stretch for a 2 1/2-length victory over pacesetting stablemate Bon Raison while Johnny V was merely showing him the whip. We don't pay attention to things like this, but Always Dreaming, co-owned by Vino Rosso's part-owner St. Elias Stable, broke his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 25 under Velazquez at the same mile-and-40-yard distance. Vino Rosso was timed in 1:41.82.

Todd Pletcher by telephone: “Tampa Bay Downs has been great to us over the years; it’s been a part of both of our Kentucky Derby winners, with Super Saver making his first start there as a 3-year-old and Always Dreaming breaking his maiden there. He remained undefeated and he showed he can stretch out around two turns, so I feel this was another step in the right direction toward bigger things, hopefully, down the road. It’s always fun this time of year when you have an exciting 2-year-old prospect, and he has shown lots of ability, has a lot of stamina in his pedigree and we’re pleased at how he is developing. We’d love to follow suit by bringing another Derby winner through Tampa. But it is probably a little early to draw comparisons."

John Velazquez: “I wanted him to work a little harder than he did. It was a little too easy. I wanted to teach him a little something down the lane, but he was going away easy from the other horses. I thought we’d give him a little test today, but there was nothing to test him with. We’ve got to see when he gets tested and has to work a little harder and see how he reacts to that. Right now, it’s about developing mentally and physically and moving forward from here."

In the Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 10,  Flameaway, at odds of 10-1, led all the way and held off 3-5 Catholic Boy by a half-length after a stirring stretch run. Vino Rosso, the 2-1 second choice, finished third, beaten 1 1/4 length. Hollywood Star finished another 8  1/2 lengths back in fourth, followed by Navy Armed Guard and Septimius Severus. Flameaway and Jose Lezcano took the field of six through fractions of 24.18, 47.73 and 1:11.25  for the first six furlongs. Vino Rosso and John Velazquez, initially in second position, dropped back to fifth, albeit only two lengths back after the first half-mile. Meanwhile, Septimius Severus pressed Flameaway while Catholic Boy, ridden by Manny Franco, laid in third, 1 1/2 length off the lead. Flameaway led into the stretch and was hooked by a determined Catholic Boy. With a furlong left, the pair were only a head apart, but Flameaway repelled the challenge. Vino Rosso seemed to have trouble getting hold of the track or was bothered while between horses early. After he shook loose at the top of the stretch, he closed strongly to finish third. Carrying 122 pounds, Catholic Boy gave six pounds to every other horse in the field except Flameaway, whose rider weighed in at 120 pounds.

Feb. 15 NOTE: Trainer Pletcher said, "It was a good education for him. I like the way he finished and galloped out. Right now, the plan is to take him back to the Tampa Bay Derby."

Feb. 26 NOTE: Johnny V will ride him in Tampa instead of World Approval at Santa Anita on March 10.

March 8 NOTE: Vino Rosso is adding blinkers in the Tampa Bay Derby.

March 9 NOTE: Trainer Pletcher said, “Both of our Kentucky Derby winners, Super Saver and Always Dreaming, were able to move forward off their races at Tampa. It is a good, safe surface that legs horses up well, and the Tampa Bay Derby happens to fit well on the calendar. With Vino Rosso, we’ve been high on him from the beginning. We felt his race in the Sam F. Davis was a learning experience for him and Johnny V. He continues to mature and fill out as a young 3-year-old, and the thing he does that always impresses us is that he finishes his works strongly and gallops out strong after the wire. His pedigree (by Curlin, out of Mythical Bride, by Street Cry) would indicate that stamina is his real strength, and I think as the distance of his races stretches out to a mile-and-an-eighth and beyond is when we’ll really see him at his best. We’re very pleased at the way he’s coming up to the race, and hopefully he performs as well as he’s been training."

In the March 10 Tampa Bay Derby, Quip paid $40.20 on a $2 win ticket by outlasting Flameaway. World of Trouble was third and Vino Rosso fourth. Quip, a Fair Grounds shipper ridden by Florent Geroux, took on post-time second choice World of Trouble and Irad Ortiz, Jr. and hounded the pacesetter from the outside through the first turn, down the backstretch and around the second turn. Flameaway, with Jose Lezcano aboard, and 8-5 favoriteVino Rosso, ridden by John Velazquez, dueled for third position a couple of lengths back during the first half-mile. Early splits were timed in 24.54 and 49.48 and 1:13.78. Turning for home, World of Trouble held a slight advantage over Quip, and Flameaway had put away Vino Rosso. At the furlong marker, only a head separated the two leaders, but as they neared the finish line, World of Trouble slowed, allowing Quip, then Flameaway to get by. Quip was timed in 1:44.72. Quip finished a length in front of Flameaway, who was a neck better than World of Trouble. Way back in fourth, beaten six lengths, was Vino Rosso. Another 5 1/2 lengths back was Tiz Mischief, followed by Untamed Domain and three others.

In the April 7 Wood Memorial, Vino Rosso won, Enticed was second, Restoring Hope was third and Firenze Fire fourth. Vino Rosso and John Velazquez had to go wide through the first turn. Old Time Revival led the field of nine early, and in the backstretch  was at least a half-dozen lengths in front of favored Enticed, ridden by Junior Alvarado, and the rest of the field through fractions of 22.96  and  46.68. As he approached the second turn in  1:11.44, his lead began to perceptibly diminish, and Vino Rosso and Enticed engulfed Old Time Revival on the far turn with Restoring Hope in pursuit not too far back. Turning for home, with Restoring Hope dropping back four lengths by mid-stretch,  the race was between Vino Rosso and Enticed, and it was Vino Rosso that  was fastest home, clear by three lengths in 1:49.79. . Restoring Hope finished another 5 1/4 lengths back in third. Firenze Fire was fourth. There was a stewards' inquiry and a jockey's objection lodged by Alvarado claiming interference by Vino Rosso in the stretch, but stewards declined to act.

Todd Pletcher: "I was a little worried right at the start, because his hind-end kind of slipped out leaving the gate, and it looked it took him about a hundred yards to get engaged. He was a little farther back than I thought he would be, but when you take the pacesetter out, he really was close to the contenders. I felt good about it. I was just hoping he would sustain his momentum around the turn, and he finished up and did great. We're feeling like we're seeing a horse that has that talent, and he's doing well, and we felt like that mile and an eighth is something he's looking for. This is the performance we've been looking for."

John Velazquez: "I got close to (Enticed in the stretch) and he was coming out. So, I made my horse switch leads and when he switched, I leaned on him a little bit, and then he pushed me out and my horse went right back on him. That's what happened. I got him easy, anyway. He was holding his ground out and I was holding him back in. He was the horse to beat and I wasn't going to give him a chance.

April 9 NOTE: John Velazquez to ride Vino Rosso in the Kentucky Derby.

April 10 NOTE: Bloodstock agent J. J. Crupi, who picked out Vino Rosso at the Keeneland sale, told Ron Mitchell of Bloodhorse.com on April 9, "Viola gives a horse all the time they need. It makes it a lot easier when you have a client like that, who spends whatever it takes to get a good horse, and then if there are hiccups along the way they will give them time and not worry about it. And that's what makes him successful. Repole is a great owner, too. Vino Rosso is coming around at the right time." He also said he  believes the colt didn't like the going at Tampa Bay Downs.

In the May 5 Kentucky Derby run on a sloppy track during rain, Vino Rosso finished ninth, beaten 10 1/2 lengths. He was 18th, 10 1/4 lengths off the pace, going into the far turn.

Todd Pletcher:  Johnny said Vino Rosso didn’t like it (the track)..."

John Velazquez: “He broke well. It’s tough obviously starting that far outside. We got into a good position in the far turn but just couldn’t make up that much ground.”

In the Belmont Stakes on June 9, Vino Rosso finished fourth, beaten 3 3/4 lengths after coming to winner Justify in the far turn and being repelled.

Todd Pletcher, trainer of Vino Rosso, fourth: "I thought Vino Rosso ran well. Johnny felt like he needed to move a little earlier than he really wanted to because there were pretty soft fractions up front. He felt like if he was going to have any chance he had to go a little sooner than he wanted to and thought that may have compromised his finish a little bit."

John Velazquez, jockey aboard fourth-place finisher Vino Rosso: "I made a premature run to see if I could get there. It wasn't enough." On Mike Smith: "I've known him for so long, and for him to get this at this age is incredible. I am really happy for him."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1
Jan. 13, four in 50.04 Breezing 15/19 at PBD
Jan. 22, five in 1:03.77 Breezing 1/2 at PBD
Jan. 28, five in 1:02.19 Breezing 3/6 at PBD
Feb. 3,  four in 48:86 Breezing 3/24 at PBD
Feb. 24, four in 48:68 Breezing 6/24 at PBD
March 3, four in 49:58 Breezing 12/26 at PBD
March 24, four in 49:19 Breezing 2/30 at PBD
March 31, four in 48:27 Breezing 2/13 at PBD
April 20, four in 49:65 Breezing 5/10 at PBD
April 27, four in 47:20 Breezing 1/75 at CD
May 25, four in 47:04 Breezing 1/36 at BEL
June 1, five in 1:01.55 Breezing good training track (3/10) at BEL

 

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