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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

 


Kentucky Derby Horses

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BODEXPRESS
BY MY STANDARDS
CODE OF HONOR
COUNTRY HOUSE
CUTTING HUMOR
GAME WINNER
GRAY MAGICIAN
IMPROBABLE
LONG RANGE TODDY
MASTER FENCER
MAXIMUM SECURITY
PLUS QUE PARFAIT
ROADSTER
SPINOFF
TACITUS
TAX
VEKOMA
WAR OF WILL
WIN WIN WIN

 

BODEXPRESS (KY)
Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
Owner: Top Racing LLC, Global Thoroughbred & GDS Racing Stable
Breeder: Martha Jane Mulholland
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Bodemeister (Empire Maker, Untouched Talent)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam):  Pied a Terre (CAN) (City Zip, Lady Auchamore (CAN))
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-6-3-0-0 (14) 8.33
Foal Date: April 23, 2016

$45,000 RNA Keeneland 2017
$37,000 RNA Fasig-Tipton Midatlantic 2018


KENTUCKY DERBY. Arrival April 30 Churchill Downs.

Bodexpress entered the Florida Derby a four-race maiden, all of those races maiden special weights. He took the early lead in the second of those four races but otherwise ran behind fast early fractions.

He debuted sprinting at Gulfstream Park West on Nov. 24 and was beaten 15 lengths. That was followed by second-place finish, again sprinting, at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 23.

On Jan. 26, he ran in Hidden Scroll's debut race and finished fourth, beaten 18 lengths, going a mile on a sloppy track.

On Feb. 16, he finished second by a neck to Shancelot, who was racing for the first time in his career, in a seven-furlong race at Gulfstream Park.

In the Florida Derby on March 30, the other 10 horses in the field left the early speed alone, which was in the form of Maximum Security, ridden by Luis Saez. He set moderate early fractions of 24.42, 48.98 and 1:12.90, led at every call, and won the 1 1/8-mile contest in race horse time of 1:48.86. Bodexpress, a four race maiden ridden by Nik Juarez, finished second by 3 1/2 lengths at 70-1 odds. He tracked the leader throughout the carousel. Neither of those two had run two turns before. Meanwhile, Code of Honor and Bourbon War, both experienced at routing, rounded out the superfecta. Confirmed closers, they were compromised by the soft early fractions. Code of Honor settled for third under John Velazquez, beaten 6 3/4 lengths, and Bourbon War was fourth under Irad Ortiz, Jr., another three-quarters of a length back.

Nik Juarez: “It was a huge effort. I really liked him going into the race, and he impressed me the way he ran last time. He’s a young horse that can take dirt, and when he finishes, he gives it all he has. Today he did the same exact thing, we just didn’t have enough pace – it was just me and Luis. He wasn’t difficult going into the gate last time out as he was today, but you never know with big days like this, with the weather too, and his first time being in front of the crowd, he got a little nervous. You can see he’s a very talented horse despite what kind of energy he puts out first.”

THE NEXT DAY: Per a report by Mike Welsch at DRF, trainer Gustavo Delgado said Bodexpress will have two workouts at Gulfstream Park West before shipping to Churchill Downs the week of the Kentucky Derby.

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Bodexpress was in second or third for the first six furlongs but finished 14th, moved up to 13th via the disqualification of the winner, beaten 15 lengths.

Gustavo Delgado: Had no comment.

Chris Landeros: “I was able to get into a good spot after breaking that far wide. We were in a good spot in the far turn but I had to check pretty hard after the seven (Maximum Security) came out.”

The chart call: "Bodexpress angled inward after breaking alertly, was forwardly placed three wide for six furlongs, was forced to take up sharply between LONG RANGE TODDY andCOUNTRY HOUSE near the five-sixteenths, and dropped back."

WORKOUTS

Jan. 5, Bodexpress 1:04.00 Breezing 15/20 at GPW
Jan. 20, Bodexpress 1:16.20 Breezing sloppy 1/1 at GPW
Feb. 9, Bodexpress 1:02.00 Breezing 7/16 at GPW
March 2, Bodexpress 1:00.40 Breezing 1/23 at GP
March 9, Bodexpress 1:02.80 Breezing 9/17 at GPW
March 20, Bodexpress 1:02.00 Breezing     1/3 at GPW
April 11, Bodexpress 1.01:20 Breezing 1/5 at GPW
April 18, Bodexpress 48:60 Breezing 1/1 at GPW
April 29, Bodexpress 1.03:15 Breezing 1/1 at GPW

 

 

 

 

 

BY MY STANDARDS (KY)
Trainer: Bret Calhoun
Owner: Allied Racing Stable, LLC (Chester Thomas)
Breeder: Don LaddSire
(Sire’s Sire, Dam): Goldencents (Into Mischief, Golden Works (CAN))
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): A Jealous Woman (Muqtarib, Miss Free Bird)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 1-3-4-0-0 (8) 3.00
Foal Date: March 22, 2016

$150,000 OBS April 2018


KENTUCKY DERBY: Arrival at Churchill Downs March 26. Barn 23. JOCKEY: Gabriel Saez.

By My Standards started his career on Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs when he finished a closing second by four lengths to Jersey Agenda going 6 1/2 furlongs.

On Dec. 22 at Fair Grounds, he was second again, this time by 4 1/4 lengths after another slow start, to Gun It, in a two turn maiden race. Courtyard and Twelfth Labour were third and fourth.

On Jan. 19 at Fair Grounds, By My Standards finished third to Frank'sgunisloaded and Comedian in another 1 1/16-mile maiden race. He showed more early speed and led in the stretch but was beaten four lengths.

In his fourth career start, By My Standards won a maiden race at Fair Grounds on Feb. 16. He was timed in 1:45.04 for 1 1/16 mile under Gabriel Saez, and this time he won by 4 1/4 lengths. He was never worse than fourth of 12 and never more than three lengths back with early fractions of 23.80, 47.89 and 1:13.11.

March 19 NOTE: Owner Thomas said Gabriel Saez chose By My Standards over stable mate Mr. Money, and “If you look at the last five-sixteenths (of By My Standards maiden win), it was a little faster than the Risen Star. We thought he had potential, and honestly we were scratching our head after the race before his maiden win where he ran third, it seemed like he was just looking around. Gabe did a splendid job the day that he broke his maiden, and I think the horse woke up at the eighth pole because he was so in tuned and focused. He galloped out very, very nicely and came back well and was full of himself. He’s had some experience and has been bumped around bit with some of his racing so he’s had some learning and it has seasoned him a bit. It put Gabe Saez is a tough spot, but we’re blessed to have a good rider on Mr. Money.

In the Louisiana Derby on March 23, By My Standards, ridden by Gabriel Saez, crossed the finish line first. The race wasn't a carousel in the strictest sense, but the top three finishers, By My Standards, Spinoff and Sueno, were fourth, third and second, respectively, at each of the first three calls. Only pacesetter and 64-1 longshot Lemniscate, who led at each of those calls, wasn't around at the finish. The timer malfunctioned. Equibase reported hand-timed splits of 23.63, 47.68 and 1:11.54. The four early leaders were never separated by more than 3 1/2 lengths during that time. Lemniscate still led into the stretch, only to virtually stop running. Spinoff, with John Velazquez aboard, led by a length with one furlong remaining in the race but was overtaken by By My Standards late for a three-quarter length win. Sueno, with Corey Lanerie up, finished third, beaten 5 3/4 lengths. Country House was the only horse to make an impression with a late run. With Luis Saze aboard, he placed fourth, another three quarters of a length back.

Bret Calhoun: “I think the maiden win was crucial for him. When he was third the time before he broke his maiden, it was a very disappointing race for us. It looked like he had the race in control and just didn’t finish them off. It was a disappointing race. He bounced back, and that’s when the light came on. He was a different horse in the mornings from that point on. His breezes in the morning were just unbelievable. There were some fast works there, and none of them were intentional. He just turned into a different horse. It gives you a lot of confidence beating a field like that. (War of Will) had been very impressive for quite a while around here and very consistent. I knew we were up against it today, I didn’t know exactly how we were going to stack up against those kinds of horses, but our horse was doing very, very well and we took our chance.”

Gabriel Saez: “I loved the horse since the day I got on him. He was working great in the mornings and he did a tremendous job. Bret (Calhoun) and (wife and assistant) Sarah have done a tremendous job with him. I was really confident, to be honest with you. I was hoping that he would break on top and put me in the position that I wanted him to be and he did right off the bat. Thank God he ran well. I hope he has more in the tank; that would be great. Hopefully we can get the job done in the Derby, anything can happen. It’s horse racing.”

THE NEXT DAY: By My Standards is doing well today will ship out via van to Churchill Downs on Tuesday, per a tweet by track publicity.

THE NEXT DAY: This horse gives trainer Calhoun his first shot at making the Kentucky Derby.

April 13 NOTE: Trainer Calhoun said a couple of days ago, “I never had a top 3-year-old colt that I thought could get us to the Derby. This is really the first horse we’ve had that can get us there. It’s been a pretty bumpy road as a trainer to finally get here and I’m really excited to be in the position we are. Horse trainers are naturally nervous people. We’ve seen so many things come up the last minute with horses. We’ll be on the edge of our chairs from now until Derby. I’m very pleased to have six weeks between races. He ran his best race in the Louisiana Derby. I’m very happy we have some time between starts since he ran his best figures across the board in that race. He bounced out of the race in good shape, but I think we’ll be coming into the race a fresh horse. Quite frankly, horses either can get a mile-and-a-quarter or not. It’s a very demanding distance, and I don’t want to push him or go overboard with his training. He’s ready and where he needs to be.”

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, By My Standards was in double-digit positions behind the leader at every call. He finished 12th, moved up to 11th via the disqualification of the winner, beaten 11 1/4 lengths.

Bret Calhoun: “We lost all chances at the break. The outside horse came back on us pretty hard. I think he came out of it OK. I’m not sure what’s next for him. We’ll take a few days to look at what we want to do. Maybe Mr. Money (Pat Day Mile winner) will be the one going to the Preakness. We’ll just take a step back and see what we want to do.”

Gabriel Saez: No quote.

The chart call: "By My Standards was squeezed back at the start to get away slowly, raced three wide around the first turn, moved out wider bumping with GAME WINNER near the half-mile marker, and lacked a serious response."

WORKOUTS

Feb. 2, By My Standards Breezing 110/170 at FG
Feb. 9, By My Standards 48.80 Breezing 23/135 at FG
March 2, By My Standards 47.20 Breezing 1/87 at FG
March 9, By My Standards 59.00 Breezing 1/48 at FG
March 16, By My Standards 49.80 Breezing 16/32 at FG
April 4, By My Standards 48:40 Breezing 7/28 at CD
April 4, By My Standards 48:40 Breezing 7/28 at CD
April 11, By My Standards 48:80 Breezing 12/27 at CD
April 22, By My Standards 1.12:80 Breezing 2/5 at CD
April 28, By My Standards 48:40 Breezing 12/76 at CD

 

 

 

 

CODE OF HONOR (KY)
Trainer: Shug McGaughey
Owner: William S. Farish
Breeder: William S. Farish
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Noble Mission (GB) (Galileo (IRE), Kind (IRE))
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Reunited (Dixie Union, Tivli)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 3-1-11-7-0 (22) 0.76
Foal Date: May 23, 2016

Bred to run all day


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 24 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 43. JOCKEY: John Velazquez.

He debuted on August 18 going six furlongs at Saratoga and won by 1 1/2 length in a time of 1:11.42 after leading through splits of 23.07 and 47.01.

On Oct. 6 in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park, Jose Ortiz sent 5-2 favorite Complexity to the front, where he led the 10-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 22.51 seconds and the half in 45.31 on the fast main track. Ortiz continued to urge Complexity out of the turn, where he outkicked Code of Honor, completing one mile in a final time of 1:34.63. He finished three lengths better than Code of Honor in second after that one stumbled badly leaving the gate. Another three lengths back, Call Paul edged Aurelius Maximus by a nose for third. In fifth an additional three lengths back was Trophy Chaser, followed by Endorsed, Casa Creed, Listing, Successful Zip, and Achilles Warrior.

Shug McGaughey: "I thought for a young two-year-old, he ran a great race. He stumbled so bad at the start, so for him to be back where he was, eat dirt, and then to make that big run wide, so I'm pleased with the effort. They ran fast and he said he didn't want to get him stopped, and I think the horse that won is a pretty nice horse. I thought there'd be more speed in the race anyway, and my instructions to him was that I thought he'd break running, which he did, but he just did it on his head. I thought they'd go, and I told him to watch and see and maybe lay right off of them.

"With Honor Code, he finished second in the Champagne, and we decided not to (run in Breeders' Cup). This year, it's in Louisville, so that might make a difference. You've also got the Nashua at one turn right around Breeders' Cup time and the Remsen going around two turns. I wouldn't mind running straight into the Remsen. Going a mile and an eighth, if he gets away good, I think they might all be trying to catch him."

Eric Cancel: "At the break, as soon as he left the gate, he stumbled pretty bad coming out of there. I had to go to Plan B. I had to sit on the horse and just try to get him comfortable and make one move. The horse ran awesome to honest. He gave me his all, 150 percent. He kept on going and we just couldn't run down the winner, but he never stopped. He kept on trying and trying."

THE NEXT DAY: Trainer McGaughey said, "He came back fine. After the stumble, he had a couple of superficial things that didn't amount to anything. It'll either be the Breeders' Cup or the races here, the Nashua or the Remsen. We have plenty of options. We'll continue to see how he is and I'll decide whether to move him or not. Field size and other various factors."

Nov. 2 NOTE: Entered in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile but scratched this date, the morning of the race after the trainer said the night before he had spiked a fever.

Nov. 25 NOTE: Trainer McGaughey, a four-time Remsen Stakes winner, said, "So far, so good. We've just been training around the weather. It looks like we'll get some more good weather. So far, it looks like he's doing really well."

Nov. 27 NOTE: Suddenly, Code of Honor is reported to be out of the Remsen Stakes. Trainer McGaughey said he isn't satisfied with the colt's energy following a workout the day before.

LATER, McGaughey said,   (Before Breeders' Cup) we got to Louisville and he started coughing a little. We were hoping against hope. That morning he did have a temperature. Somehow, he got over it. I shipped him home Sunday and I gave him three or four days, and he never missed a beat. (Then, before he missed the Remsen) the main track was closed. We were training on the training track. I’m not really familiar with the training track that much because I basically train on the main track. He looked like he worked fine, but I could tell, myself, that he didn’t work as well as he had before. Johnny came back and told me, ‘Listen, he worked great, but he didn’t work as good as he did before the Breeders’ Cup.’ After the fact, he said, ‘If I never worked him before I’d tell you it was a really good work, but I had worked him before and he was better before.’ To take him over there and run him a mile and an eighth over a deep track would have been crazy.”

Jan. 2 NOTE: Ahead of the one-turn, one-mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes, trainer McGaughey said, “He’s got to get through this one, but it sure would be nice if we could get to the Florida Derby if he’s that kind. He ran a one-turn mile at a mile and a sixteenth in the Champagne. He did fine, so I thought it was all good." McGaughey said Code of Honor has breezed three times at Payson Park. "Physically, he needs to develop. He does well, but he’s a bit slight. I’d like to see him physically get bigger. He has a lot of talent.”

On Jan. 5 in the one-mile, one-turn Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Mihos emerged triumphant as the 5-2 second choice. He broke well from the outside post six but was five lengths off the 23.00 pace set by Gladiator King. After that one burned through the half in 45.53, Mihos was only 1 1/4 length back in second. Mihos remained in that position in the turn, 2 1/2 lengths back of the new leader, Trophy Chaser, who was part of that lively pace after a half-mile. Those two hit the furlong marker one-two, with 2 1/2 lengths still separating them, but Mihos finally wore down Trophy Chaser to win by a half-length in a time of 1:37.56. Garter and Tie, who was just behind the eventual winner headed toward and through the turn, rallied to finish third, beaten 2 1/2 lengths. Code of Honor and Well Defined were a very close fourth and third up the backstretch but started losing ground at that point. Code of Honor finished fourth, beaten 7 3/4 lengths. Well Defined was fifth, beaten 12. Gladiator King faded to last, beaten 20 1/2 lengths.

The chart says Code of Honor "bumped with Gladiator King at the start, exchanged brushes with Mihos up the backstretch, stayed in striking range four wide between horses into the turn, struggled to keep pace after six furlongs and gave way."

John Velazquez to DRF.com: “He was going easy but at the quarter pole, he took a deep breath and let the bridle go.”

Feb. 27 NOTE: Trainer McGaughey said, “I thought maybe he needed the race. He’s never been a really big-statured horse, so I never trained him hard. I just made up my mind that I was going to get into him and see if he could take it physically. So far, he has. I think he’s had a good two months.”

In the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 2, Code of Honor and John Velazquez bided their time in fifth place early on, some eight lengths off the pace, but blew by pacesetter Hidden Scroll at the top of the stretch and took it on home to win in 1:43.85, prevailing by 3/4 length. Hidden Scroll, ridden by Joel Rosario, led through fast fractions of 22.80, 45.69 and 1:10.42, and it turned out to be too much for him, although he did hang on to finish fourth. Bourbon War, who was seventh, 10 lengths off the pace after the first half-mile, finished second with a monster late run while guided outside by Irad Oritz, Jr. Vekoma, with Manny Franco up, finished third by 2 3/4 lengths after being in fourth position early, challenging Hidden Scroll leaving the far turn and then narrowly outrunning that one to the wire. Hidden Scroll, fourth, was beaten three lengths. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to fifth finisher Global Campaign.

Shug McGaughey: “Well, I just thought that I made a couple of mistakes. I thought that I did stuff with him that maybe didn’t need to be done. I thought I had him ready for the real stuff. That didn’t work out, and maybe he just wasn’t ready. After the Mucho Macho Man, I said listen, ‘we’re going train him. If he takes it he takes it,’ and he took it. He was doing good with what we were putting into him so we kept doing it and we felt like he was going to come down here and run well. We saved some ground going around the first turn and he was just patient. We got the set up.”

“There’s obviously three different spots. The Florida Derby would be my preference. We’ve got to ship him an hour and a half down the road. But there is the Wood and Bluegrass. It’s not all the Kentucky Derby. If he takes us there it’ll be fine but we still got to do it again. I would prefer to stay here, but I’m going to see. A couple of them are a little farther down the line, so we’ll see how he comes out of it. We’ll figure it out.”     

John Velazquez: “There was so much speed in the race I was expecting a quick pace in front of us. We broke well, got position into the first turn and we held that position there. Once I was on the backstretch I was very comfortable with the way he was doing things. By the time three-eighths pole I was a little uncomfortable – one horse was kind of backing up and the other one was kind of holding me there. I had to make kind of a premature move around the quarter pole and I got there a little too soon to tell you the truth, but once he got in front he opened up a little bit. This is what we expected of him. Obviously, he came from a long layoff and he probably wasn’t quite ready. We put a lot of work in him and he’s taken it well and he showed us today what kind of horse he is.”

William Farish: Unbelievable. It’s simply unbelievable. We’ve known he has the talent, but we’ve had these little hiccups ever since he was second in Saratoga. Today he showed what he had all along and what we’ve saw all along. It’s why he’s had to work him so much coming up to this. It’s just incredible. You go through these things, and all of a sudden it works. This is what he’s always done and he’s a very talented horse. We’ll have to see how he comes out of this. With the works he’s had, we’ll probably back off a little bit after this. We may not do that. We’ll see. There’s no way to tell you what it means. It’s a terrific thing. We’ve been in this business a long time. There’s a lot of good and a lot of bad, but this was a great day.

March 3 NOTE: Saying "He's a very efficient little horse," trainer McGaughey said Code of Honor is doing well today, per a DRF Live post. He narrowed down Code of Honor's next start to either the Florida Derby or Wood Memorial.

March 21 NOTE: John Velazquez will bypass the Godolphin Mile and perhaps other opportunities on the Dubai World Cup card to ride Code of Honor in the March 30 Florida Derby.

March 25 NOTE: Trainer McGaughey said,  “He looked like he worked very well. I asked him for 49 and he worked 48 and 2 or so, so I think we’re in pretty good shape. He looks good, and I think he’s been training very well. I think all systems are go with him right now. He’s had a good winter since the first of January, and I think he‘s looking forward to what he does. I like what I saw physically today and in terms of how he worked.”

March 27 NOTE: Trainer McGaughey said, “I think I have a little bit more confidence because I was a little bit shook after the Mucho Macho Man. I kind of changed my strategy, and that worked, so I’ve kept on with it and I think he’s progressing the right way. It depends on the pace. I don’t want him up too close. I don’t think that’s his way. A lot of that will be up to Johnny as the race unfolds out of the gate. I hope we get a little pace, which I think we probably will. Going a mile and an eighth, he’s just going to have to be patient with him as he was the other day.”

In the Florida Derby on March 30, the other 10 horses in the field left the early speed alone, which was in the form of Maximum Security, ridden by Luis Saez. He set moderate early fractions of 24.42, 48.98 and 1:12.90, led at every call, and won the 1 1/8-mile contest in race horse time of 1:48.86. Bodexpress, a four race maiden ridden by Nik Juarez, finished second by 3 1/2 lengths at 70-1 odds. He tracked the leader throughout the carousel. Neither of those two had run two turns before. Meanwhile, Code of Honor and Bourbon War, both experienced at routing, rounded out the superfecta. Confirmed closers, they were compromised by the soft early fractions. Code of Honor settled for third under John Velazquez, beaten 6 3/4 lengths, and Bourbon War was fourth under Irad Ortiz, Jr., another three-quarters of a length back.

Shug McGaughey: “I thought we were done in the turn and he kind of kept going. I think he tried to get him going early because he could see what was going on. It just didn't work out. I'm not overly disappointed with the way he ran. We’ll have to see how he comes out of it and go from there.”

THE NEXT DAY: Trainer McGaughey said, “I thought he ran fine. That’s not the type of race he needs, with one horse on the lead and everybody taking back. We were kind of in between horses. He had half a racetrack on him. I thought it was pretty game what he did considering the circumstances."

April 12 NOTE: Trainer McGaughey said at Keeneland after Code of Honor breezed, “He looked good. I was pleased with the way he went off, and he galloped out well. I was excited about it. I will probably have Johnny work him in seven or eight days and then have his final work at Churchill."

April 17 NOTE: Per a tweet by Jay Privman, Johhny V will stay with Code of Honor in the Kentucky Derby.

April 20 NOTE: Trainer McGaughey said of today's workout, “I was pleased with that this morning and I’m glad that’s over with. I wanted him to go in 1:01, and that’s what he did, and I had him going out in 1:13 and change and seven-eighths in 1:26 and change.” He said Code of Honor probably would ship to Churchill Downs this Wednesday, April 24 with his final Derby work coming four or five days later.

April 20 NOTE: Jockey Velazquez said, “It was very good, very nice. There was a nice inside path where nobody had been galloping, and he handled it very well. I had worked him at Payson, and he was more laid-back down there. Once he gets on a race track, he’s more aggressive.”

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security was much the best but was disqualified and placed 17th by stewards. He won by 1 3/4 length in a time of 2:03.93 on a sloppy-sealed track. Country House was elevated to first. He was followed by Code of Honor, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Maximum Security and three-quarters of a length by Country House. Tacitus was elevated to third, beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Maximum Security and 1 1/2 length by Country House. Improbable, who finished fifth, a head behind Tacitus, was moved up to fourth.

Shug McGaughey: “He ran a good race. He just cut the corner and it looked like we were going to be home free. But I think he got to looking at the crowd a little bit, according to John. Then the horses ran away from him again, and he was finished. But he ran a good race. We’ll get him back and see what’s happening to him, and go from there.”

John Velazquez: “My horse ran great. The rail opened up great for me. It was like ‘Open Sesame.’ I was like “Wow, this never happens.” I thought I was going to win it. He ran like a green horse down the stretch. He was definitely affected by what was happening to his outside.”

The chart says, "Code of Honor moved closer to the first flight saving ground after a half-mile, was presented with a large opening slipping through to take a short lead after a mile,but flattened out through upper stretch."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 16, Code of Honor 49:00 Breezing 1/2 at PAY
Jan. 22, Code of Honor 49:20 Breezing 3/8 at PAY
Jan. 29, Code of Honor 1.01:00 Breezing 1/12 at PAY
Feb. 5, Code of Honor 48:00 Breezing 1/22 at PAY
Feb 12, Code of Honor 1.01:40 Breezing 2/8 at PAY
Feb. 18, Code of Honor 1.01:40 Breezing 2/2 at PAY
Feb. 25, Code of Honor 49:60 Breezing 1/13 at PAY
March 16, Code of Honor 1.01:00 Breezing 1/6 at PAY
March 25, Code of Honor 48:40 Breezing 1/12 at PAY
April 12, Code of Honor 49:00 Breezing 9/27 at KEE
April 20, Code of Honor 1.01:00 Breezing 1/4 at KEE
April 28, Code of Honor 46:80 Breezing 2/76 at CD

 

 

 

 

COUNTRY HOUSE (KY)
Trainer: Bill Mott
Owner: Mrs. J. V. Shields, Jr., M. McFadden, Jr. & LNJ Foxwoods (Larry, Nanci and Jamie Roth)
Breeder: J. V. Shields, Jr.
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike (CAN), Private Feeling)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Quake Lake (War Chant, Shooting Party)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-7-11-1-0 (24) 2.69
Foal Date: May 8, 2016


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 15 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 19. JOCKEY: Flavien Prat

He debuted with an off-the-board finish on turf at Aqueduct on Oct. 6 before returning in December to finish a close second in a one-mile maiden race at Aqueduct.

In the words of the track press office, Country House "put open a show" on Jan. 17 at Gulfstream Park with 3 1/2-length win in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight. He spotted five rivals many lengths after breaking very slowly from the rail. Luis Saez allowed the 3-5 favorite to settle into a rhythm, and he joined the field midway along the backstretch before launching a sweeping move on the turn. He gained the lead at the top of the stretch and continued on to score comfortably in a time of 1:44.49.

Assistant trainer Ken McCarthy: “I don’t know what happened. Luis thought he slipped a little behind. It looked like he was standing in the gate fine. He was impressive once he got going. You’re never sure, when they do that and they get distance between them and the field, how they’ll react. Luis said he wanted to go right away, but he just wanted to steadily bridge the gap, let him grab a breath, and go again.”

THE NEXT DAY: Trainer Mott said, “It was very exciting. It was his third race. He was a little bit of a slow learner, but it looked like he started to get it yesterday after what I would say was a difficult start. It was of his own doing. He came out of the gate slow and took a left-hand turn into the rail. He spotted the field eight or 10 lengths by the time they made the first turn. When he made his move, it was quite impressive. It looked like Luis Saez turned his whip down, hit him once, and he drew off from the field. Time will tell how good he is. He looks like a horse that’ll get the distance. He’s had three races. I think at this juncture, with a horse like him, we might want to (run in a stake). You have the mile and a sixteenth races. The mile and an eighth races are probably the ones you want to be pointing for. We could go back in allowance company, but I’m not sure we want to do that.”

Feb. 13 NOTE: Co-owner Guinness McFadden said, “I don’t know that you ever really think you’re on the Derby trail until it happens. You just hope that he’s competitive and that he can get better going over a mile. We’re pretty pumped. Running here was Bill’s call. He had been training well and seemed to be moving forward so this seemed to be the next step. Bill’s a great trainer and we’ll keep doing what he suggests. Were really happy with where we are right now. He didn’t look too interested when we ran him first time on the turf. But he had definitely trained well on dirt. He looked like a dirt horse early on and seemed to get over the dirt nicely. He kind of comes off the pace...."

In the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 16, War of Will won, Country House was second, longshot Roiland third and Hog Creek Hustle fourth. War of Will broke well from post 13 and pursued front-runner Gun It -- who broke from post 14 -- and Dunph leaving the first turn, and the first quarter-mile run in 23.71. Up the backstretch, Gun It continued to lead the way, with War of Will in closest pursuit, followed by Dunph, Mr. Money and 10 others and the half-mile  gone in 47.36. Far back of those four were Country House, Roiland and Hog Creek Hustle. Into the far turn, War of Will took charge and led with six furlongs timed in 1:12.20 with Gun It, Mr. Money and Dunph about to fall away. War of Will opened a clear lead in the stretch. Country House, ridden by Luis Saez, came on strong to finish 2 1/4 lengths back of the winner after being in 11th position, almost 10 lengths off the lead, after the first half-mile and ninth on the far turn. Roiland, third by a total of 3 3/4 lengths under James Graham, was able to accomplish that at 69-1 odds when he came from dead last, 16 1/2 lengths off the pace, at the second call. Hog Creek Hustle ran his second straight credible two-turn race to come fourth, 2 1/4 lengths behind Roiland. He was 13th after the first half-mile.

Luis Saez: “He ran well. We could have won, but he kept lugging in.”

Feb. 17 NOTE: Assistant trainer Riley Mott said, “We were very pleased with his effort despite running pretty green in the stretch.“He came back well and looked good this morning. I’m sure the boss and the owners will discuss his next race once we get him back home, but given how he shipped so well and handled the track fine, I would say the Louisiana Derby would be an option for us.”

March 4 NOTE: Trainer Mott told DRF Live today he will stay on course with County House, pointing to the Lousiana Derby.

In the Louisiana Derby on March 23, By My Standards, ridden by Gabriel Saez, crossed the finish line first. The race wasn't a carousel in the strictest sense, but the top three finishers, By My Standards, Spinoff and Sueno, were fourth, third and second, respectively, at each of the first three calls. Only pacesetter and 64-1 longshot Lemniscate, who led at each of those calls, wasn't around at the finish. The timer malfunctioned. Equibase reported hand-timed splits of 23.63, 47.68 and 1:11.54. The four early leaders were never separated by more than 3 1/2 lengths during that time. Lemniscate still led into the stretch, only to virtually stop running. Spinoff, with John Velazquez aboard, led by a length with one furlong remaining in the race but was overtaken by By My Standards late for a three-quarter length win. Sueno, with Corey Lanerie up, finished third, beaten 5 3/4 lengths. Country House was the only horse to make an impression with a late run. With Luis Saze aboard, he placed fourth, another three quarters of a length back.

Bill Mott: “He made a big run. He started it a little early and was fairly wide around the turn, yet I thought he had his chance coming off the turn. I thought he looked pretty good there. It wasn’t a horrible race, but I was hoping he would be a little closer than that.”

April 12 NOTE: Trainer Mott said yesterday, “He’s doing well. He came out of the Louisiana Derby good. He’s a big, tough horse, so we thought we’d try to go back in here and maybe accumulate a few more points and maybe earn our way into the Kentucky Derby. I mean, I suppose right now we’d probably be on the bubble. I don’t even know at the moment if he would have enough points to get in. If we get lucky, maybe we can accumulate enough to earn the trip.”

In the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 13, Omaha Beach won by a length, followed by Improbable, Country House and Laughing Fox. Omaha Beach, ridden by Mike Smith, wouldn't let Improbable and Jose Ortiz by during the stretch run and won the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:49.91 on a sloppy track. Improbable was restless in the gate at post 1 and was backed out twice, but the delay was minimal. After the bell rang, One Flew South and Jersey Agenda led the field through the first turn, but Omaha Beach was soon right behind One Flew South and passed him to take the lead on the backstretch. Heading into the far turn,  Improbable was a length behind Omaha Beach with Long Range Toddy tracking them in third. Coming out of the turn, the same two led. Country House, with Joel Rosario in the irons, and Laughing Fox, ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr. had come on around the turn to get in third and fourth place. Those four stayed in that order across the finish line, but it was a two-horse race to the wire. The third and fourth finishers were beaten by 6 3/4 and 7 3/4 lengths, respectively.

Bill Mott: “We’ll talk to the owners. That’s what we were looking for (points), and he ran well.”

THE NEXT DAY: Doing well today, with shipping plans not revealed yet. Trainer Mott said, “He was where we thought he’d be early. He came with a good run. On the middle of the turn, he was creeping up. I was starting to get a little excited. He made a little run. After he got past the field, apart from the two leaders that were quite a ways in front, I thought he might have started waiting a little bit and then the fourth horse came up on his inside and kind of pushed him along a little bit. I haven’t talked to the owners this morning. As far as I know, they were pleased. Initially, it sounded like they were last night. We didn’t talk Derby. I think that was one of the goals, to get enough points to go to the Derby. Now we’ve got to assess the situation and see if it makes sense to enter up.”

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security was much the best but was disqualified and placed 17th by stewards. He won by 1 3/4 length in a time of 2:03.93 on a sloppy-sealed track. Country House was elevated to first. He was followed by Code of Honor, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Maximum Security and three-quarters of a length by Country House. Tacitus was elevated to third, beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Maximum Security and 1 1/2 length by Country House. Improbable, who finished fifth, a head behind Tacitus, was moved up to fourth.

Bill Mott: Pre DQ: “If it were a maiden 10 claimer, he would come down. I wish they would have left the track sealed because they get more kickback when they leave it like this, but he handled the track really well in Arkansas. You’re supposed to keep a straight line when you’re riding and there shouldn’t be a difference between a maiden 10k and the Kentucky Derby. It’s not supposed to matter between the two. I’m just waiting to see what the stewards decide. There was definitely a foul in the race. My horses didn’t get bothered terribly. Country House got bumped just a little bit, but there were a couple jocks who almost went down in there. I know what I naturally would like to happen, but I have no control over it at this point. There’s over 100,000 people here and they don’t want to make that call, but it’s their duty to do the right thing and I hope they do. I was second and fourth (past the finish) and I’m proud of my horses. I think they’re fair and I think they want to be fair, but there were a couple horses who nearly went down in the race and I think those horses, it eliminated all chance for them. It looked like he bore out at the 5/16ths and he forced some horses to come together. There were a couple jocks who had to stand straight up at a very critical time in the race. I can’t say that he bothered my horse that badly and I’m not going to moan about that. It’s really between the horses that he bothered and the winner. My horses ran well. I’m pleased. It took Tacitus a little while to get on track but he came flying at the end.”

Post DQ: “I think the horse ran great. I was pleased with the position he had and the way Flavien rode him. The horse responded for him. It’s bittersweet and I’d be lying if I said It was any different. You say you always want to win with a clean trip and everyone recognize the horse as the as the great athlete he is and due to the DQ some of that is diminished. Two horses lost all chance to win a Kentucky Derby and they were in a position at the time to hit the board. People bet on these horses and millions are bet on these races. I know the stewards had a very difficult decision. With that being said, I’m damn glad they put our number up.”

Flavien Prat:“The race was great. He broke well and put me in the right spot. He was cruising the whole way. I was closer than I thought I would be and then when we hit the final turn, he was just dragging me. I moved him out and made a nice move at the quarter pole. Then, that horse just drifted out, kind of turned me sideways, and there were two horses inside of us. After that, I straightened up, he made a good move and that was it.”

(On claiming foul) “It was a wide move and I thought they (the stewards) had to look at it. Like we said, it slightly bothered us, but it also bothered the two horses inside of us which is I thought they should look at it.”

Stewards, per Equibase chart: "The jockey of COUNTRY HOUSE lodged an objection against MAXIMUM SECURITY for interference nearing the five-sixteenths marker. Following the Stewards review MAXIMUM SECURITY was disqualified from first and placed seventeenth for veering out and stacking up WAR OF WILL, LONG RANGE TODDY, and BODEXPRESS."

The chart says, "Country House settled in the middle of the field three wide off the first turn, advanced four wide into the far turn, was brushed by LONG RANGE TODDY while largely unaffected by the incident five-sixteenths out, loomed boldly outside MAXIMUM SECURITY coming to the eighth-pole, was repelled by that one and held the place."


WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 5, Country House 48.60 Breezing 1/20 at PAY
Jan. 13, Country House 49.20 Breezing 10/40 at PAY
Jan. 30, Country House 50:60 Breezing 10/19 at PAY
Feb. 5, Country House 50:00 Breezing 11/22 at PAY
Feb. 11, Country House 49:20 Breezing 3/28 at PAY
March 3, Country House 49:20 Breezing 6/32 at PAY
March 10, Country House 1.02:40 Breezing 1/5 at PAY
March 17, Country House 49:60 Breezing 2/15 at PAY
April 5, Country House 50:20 Breezing 2/5 at PAY
April 28, Country House 1.00:00 Breezing 4/25 at CD

 

 

 

 

CUTTING HUMOR (KY)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owner: Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf et al)

Breeder: Dell Hancock & Bernie Sams
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): First Samurai (Giant's Causeway, Freddie Frisson)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Pun (Pulpit, Joke)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 3-7-18-0-0 (28) 2.11
Foal Date: April 7, 2016

$135,000 Keeneland January 2017
$400,000 Fasig-Tipton New York August 2017


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 30 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 40. JOCKEY: Mike Smith.

Cutting Humor debuted at Belmont Park on Sept. 9 in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden test, when he chased front-running favorite Looking At Bikinis and finished second.

He came back to finish third after a rocky start in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Keeneland on Oct. 7

Cutting Humor ran to a two-length maiden victory at Gulfstream Park West on Nov. 17 with an off-the-pace effort going one mile at two turns at Gulfstream Park West while racing with blinkers the first time. He was timed in 1:39.08 and was sixth of seven but only 2 1/2 lengths back at the first call. Identifier finished second.

In a 1 1/16-mile, entry-level allowance on Jan. 18 at Gulfstream Park, 3-2 favorite Bourbon War and Irad Ortiz, Jr. registered a dominant 2 1/4-length victory over 2-1 second choice Cutting Humor, ridden by John Velazquez. Both those two came from off the pace to overtake pacesetter and 6-1 third choice Award Winner, who did a lot of early heavy lifting under Jose Ortiz with fractions of 23.93, 47.45 and 1:11.97 while taking heavy pressure from Everfast and Whitecap Bay. The race was timed in 1:43.54. Leaving the far turn, Bourbon War found a seam between Award Winner and a hard-charging Cutting Humor and split those horses before drawing off to win by 2 1/4 lengths. It was another four lengths back to Award Winner, and 6 1/2 more to Everfast. Archidust, Borracho, Art G Is Back, Whitecap Bay and He's a Macho Man rounded out the order of finish.

Jan. 29 NOTE: Nominated to the UAE Derby.

In the 1 1/16- mile Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 18, Cutting Humor and John Velazquez were sent off as the 2-1 favorite, were a close sixth after a half-mile, surged into contention on the turn, then faded to finish seventh, beaten 8 3/4 lengths.

In the Sunland Derby on March 24, Cuttinng Humor won, Anothertwistafate was second, Mucho Gusto was third and Wicked Indeed was fourth. Ridden by John Velazquez, Cutting Humor stalked the early pace in fifth through the first turn. Going up the backstretch he sat fourth behind 4-5 favorite Mucho Gusto and Joe Talamo, Hustle Up and Anothertwistafate, ridden by Juan Hernandez, with a half-mile timed in a blazing 45.63. Heading into the second turn, Cutting Humor laid third with six furlongs in the books in 1:09.63, with Mucho Gusto leading a closely pursuing Hustle Up in second and Anothertwistafate only 1 1/2 length back in fourth. Leaving the far turn, Mucho Gusto was in a narrowing command, and Cutting Humor was soon on even terms with him as Hustle Up backed away. Cutting Humor led Mucho Gusto by a half-length with one furlong remaining, and Anothertwistafate had moved to third, albeit still a length-and-a-half back. Anothertwistafate made a belated charge only to come up a neck short. Mucho Gusto faded to finish third, beaten six lengths, and Wicked Indeed rounded out the superfecta, another 1 1/2 length back. Cutting Humor covered the 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby in an eye-catching 1:46.94, eclipsing the former track record of 1:47.21 set by Oh So Regal on April 15, 2018.

John Velazquez: "He got to the lead and then he started waiting. He seems like (he could go forward). He's a big horse, so two turns helps him a lot."

April 7 NOTE: Trainer Pletcher said Cutting Humor will train up to the Kentucky Derby at Palm Beach Downs. He is due to breeze on either Thursday or Friday of this week.

April 9 NOTE: Trainer Pletcher, at Keeneland, said of Cutting Humor and Spinoff, “They are both doing well at Palm Beach Downs and they will have a couple of works there. I have not decided on shipping. We will keep an eye on the weather, but recent history shows it is not necessary to have a work over the track (at Churchill Downs before the Derby).”

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Cutting Humor was either seventh or 11th at every call but finished 11th, moved up to 10th via the disqualification of the winner, beaten 9 1/4 lengths.

Todd Pletcher: “We got the trips we wanted to get with them. Cutting Humor had a good trip and closed some ground late. He didn’t disgrace us. Both colts seemed to come back fine. We’ll be back another day.”

Mike Smith: “He ran good. He’s a nice horse but he is still learning out there.”

The chart call: "Cutting Humor entered the backstretch five wide and well back, made a run into the far turn getting fanned six wide in the process, and gave way through the stretch."


WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 11, Cutting Humor 1:02.29 Breezing 1/3 at PBD
Feb. 4, Cutting Humor 48:55 Breezing 1/6 at PBD
Feb. 11, Cutting Humor 48:81 Breezing 1/5 at PBD
March 9, Cutting Humor 48:09 Breezing 3/23 at PBD
March 16, Cutting Humor 48:89 Breezing 6/19 at PBD
April 12, Cutting Humor 47:90 Breezing 1/15 at PBD
April 19, Cutting Humor 59:58 Breezing 1/4 at PBD
April 26, Cutting Humor 48:01 Breezing 1/12 at PBD

 

 

 

GAME WINNER (KY)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: Gary L. and Mary E. West
Breeder: Summer Wind Equine
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Candy Ride (ARG), Ride the Rails, Candy Girl (ARG))
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Indyan Giving (A.P. Indy, Fleet Indian)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 3-6-10-1-0 (20) 2.33
Foal Date: March 6, 2016

$110,000 Keeneland September 2016


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 27 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 33. JOCKEY: Joel Rosario.

Game Winner began an undefeated juvenile season with an Aug. 18 maiden special weight win at 9-5 odds at Del Mar. With Joel Rosario up, he beat eight others and had a 5 3/4-length margin of victory timed in  1:11.21. The chart says he " dueled four wide, took the lead on the turn, inched clear leaving the turn, continued off the rail in the stretch and won clear under left handed urging."

On Sept. 3, Game Winner won the Del Mar Futurity with Mario Gutierrez aboard, and they sat five lengths off the pace for a half-mile before coming home in 1:23.18 for seven furlongs. This time he prevailed by 1 1/2 length at 8-5 odds. Rowayton was second, and Roadster, trained by Baffert at 3-5 odds, finished third. Six ran.

On Sept. 29, Game Winner was sent off at 3-10 and was the easy winner of the newly-named American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita, defeating four others. Gunmetal Gray was clearly second best. His time was 1:43.77, about a half-second better than the winning counterpart filly that day. Game Winner flanked Rowayton through fractions of 23.43, 47.50 and 1:11.85, then went on to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Gunmetal Gray was never more than 1 1/2 length back in third and got by Rowayton in late stretch. Rowayton was a length back of him in third at the finish.

Bob Baffert: “I can’t take credit for this horse. The Wests and their team found this horse and trusted me with him. Clients put their trust in me. I just want to get there with a nice healthy horse. This horse tipped us off this summer that he was going to be a good one. He is strong and he still looks a little heavy. It’s exciting to have this horse. These horses sort themselves out. Circumstances dictate who gets there. I had one bullet here and I just want to keep him healthy; I don’t plan to do too much with him before the Breeders Cup. The good ones get there. I was very happy to win the first American Pharoah. Pretty cool and nice of Santa Anita to name a race after him. We had the same groom on this horse as American Pharoah (Eduardo Luna).”

Joel Rosario: “He broke well out of there. I just chirped at him a little bit, put him on the outside, and he responded to that really well. I wasn’t trying to be too far back, and that worked out. He’s a very good horse. He kinda just waits for other horses, he’s a one-run horse. He stays galloping and kinda waited for some company. He’s an easy horse to ride, I was just a passenger today.”

Gary West:  “He came out of the Del Mar Futurity really well. He’d been training well and we thought he’d like two turns. His family all liked a mile and a quarter, but you never know until they do it. I didn’t think he deserved to be that big of a favorite (1-5), but he ran great. We’re looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup for sure…I’ve been in the horse business about 40 years. All days are not like this one.”

In the 1 1/6 mile Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5, favored Game Winner overcame adversity to surge past longshot Knicks Go in deep stretch and score a 2 1/4-length victory. Signalman finished third after having to break from the outside, and Mr. Money ran fourth. Game Winner was timed in in 1:43.67 over a fast main track. Second-choice Complexity assumed the early lead and maintained a daylight advantage in the run down the backstretch with 40-1 shot Knicks Go in closest pursuit and Game Winner racing outside in mid-pack. Turning for home, Complexity stopped running hard and Knicks Go took command, but Rosario had Game Winner in high gear on the outside. There was a brief bump between the two at midstretch before Game Winner drew off. Knicks Go held the place by a length over the closing Signalman, with Mr. Money finishing another 6 1/4 lengths back in fourth.

Bob Baffert: "Talk about a rough trip! I was glad Joel was patient with him. I felt a lot of pressure coming here because I have really thought a lot about this colt. I know he is a really good horse. He showed it today; he was much the best. I am so happy for Gary and Mary West. I felt more pressure because I told Gary 'I don't think they can beat us.' Breeders' Cup, you have to step it up. It's championship racing. You have to show up. You have to have a good horse, and you have to be lucky, and we were -- the horse, in the paddock when I saddled him, he couldn't have looked any better. There's some other horses in there. It looked like a good field. There's some nice horses in there. I thought he was a good horse, but he's a lot better than I thought he was. For him to do what he did that last quarter mile and for him to give that horse a head start like that, being that wide, that's a serious horse. I'm glad I wasn't watching the race with Gary, because we both would have been saying, 'We're done, we're done.' But any other horse, he would have been done, but that's how good a horse he is."

Joel Rosario: “He broke fine, but it looked like they took my spot and I had to go wide. He seemed like he didn’t mind that. He was comfortable. That’s why we got him moving at that point, instead of getting inside and taking back. Turning for home, the more I rode him the more he gave it to me.”

Dec. 28 NOTE: He is in light training at Santa Anita.

Jan. 9 NOTE: Trainer Baffert told DRF.com, “Game Winner has gotten bigger and stronger. He’s a pretty serious horse. He’s tough. He doesn’t need the lead, and he’s got the speed to put him anywhere. He’s not one-dimensional.”

Jan. 13 NOTE: Trainer Baffert says Game Winner's next race will be the March 9 San Felipe "if all goes well."

Jan. 21 NOTE: Trainer Baffert told DRF.com after Game Winner's solo workout, "He’ll get ready pretty quick."

Jan. 29 NOTE: It's probably nothing, but we are looking for a workout.

Jan. 30 NOTE: Game Winner worked today at Santa Anita, five furlongs in 1:03.40.

Jan. 31 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said this about Game Winner's Wednesday workout to DRF.com, “He went easy. He went off a little slow. He’s pretty ready. He didn’t lose much condition. We’ve got plenty of time."

Feb. 3 NOTE: Game Winner resides in stall 33 of trainer Baffert's barn at Santa Anita, the same one formerly occupied by American Pharoah.

March 6 NOTE: Game Winner will detour to the Rebel Stakes, per a tweet this afternoon by Joel Rosario's agent, Ron Anderson. Anderson later tweeted that, per trainer Baffert, the Rebel is Game Winner's first option.

March 7 NOTE: Will be shipped to Los Alamitos and will work there over the weekend.

March 10 NOTE: Game Winner again said to be definite for the Rebel Stakes. The plane leaves Southern California on Wednesday. Improbable is also definite.

March 10 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said of Game Winner and Improbable, “We’re coming. They worked well. Everything’s good. There’s no changing between now and then. We knew the Rebel was always there, but at first we were thinking not to ship. We could come back. We hate to ship twice. It changes things a little bit, but right now we’re going through a little crisis here in Southern California. We never dreamed the day would come they would close down Santa Anita, but we’re getting through it. The main thing is that the 3-year-olds, they worked well. They’re coming up there. I think it’s very nice of them to want to split that race. That’s the key thing.”

In the second division of the Rebel Stakes on March 16, Omaha Beach turned back a late-charging Game Winner to win by a nose with the rest of the field far back. Omaha Beach was two lengths behind pacesetter Market King after the first quarter-mile. He took command thereafter with the first half-mile gone in a pressured 47.29 and six furlongs in 1:11.82 leading by a length. Omaha Beach extended his lead to two lengths with a furlong remaining in the race. Game Winner was sixth, five lengths off the pace after the first quarter-mile, but he steadily advanced while four wide in the far turn. He closed ground on Omaha Beach in the final furlong, bumping him in the process, but Omaha Beach would not be denied. Market King stayed with Omaha Beach for six furlongs and steadily lost ground thereafter to finish third, beaten 8 1/4 lengths. Gunmetal Gray was far back in 10th place through the first six furlongs, but he never gave up and passed tiring horses to take fourth place, beaten 9 1/4 lengths. The winning time was 1:42.42.

Trainer Bob Baffert (Game Winner):  “I would have liked to have won, but I’m very happy with both horses. They both ran well off the layoff. Thank goodness for the Cella family (owners of Oaklawn Park). We got to run both horses today. It was great racing.”

In the Santa Anita Derby on April 6, Roadster upset Game Winner, with Instagrand third and Nolo Contesto fourth. Instagrand led the field of six from the start of the race with Flavien Prat up, his initial splits timed in 23.34, 47.84 and 1:12.20. He was under pressure from Nolo Contesto, just a half-length back or less until the far turn, when that one started falling back. At about the same time, Game Winner, who had tracked the leaders into the turn, initiated his move under Joel Rosario going three wide. A stubborn Instagrand still led entering the stretch and was a half-length in front of Game Winner with an eighth of a mile left in the race, but then Game Winner took over. They were both about to be caught by Roadster. Fifth in the early going, but never more than five lengths back, he and Mike Smith began their serious running at the top of the lane and rolled by the two leaders by to secure a half-length victory. Game Winner was better than Instagrand by another 1 3/4 length. Nolo Contesto was fourth by 7 1/2 lengths in all. They were followed by Synthesis and More Ice. The final time for the mile and an eighth was 1:51.28 on a track playing slowly and deep for safety.

Bob Baffert: “They’re two good horses. Game Winner was out there by himself and when he gets by himself, he needs company. It was a good, hard race for both of them, and coming in, that’s what you want to see. This track is deep and slow, but it’s safe, and that’s what we wanted. I couldn’t be happier. We knew that Roadster needed to win or run second. It was a great finish. They were both finishing well, they were fighting; Game Winner is a fighter. It was a great stretch run. At the eighth pole, I knew I was going to win, I just didn’t know which one, but it was exciting. They’ll both like a mile and a quarter. I think Game Winner’s next race will be better. I’ve been bringing him along really easy. left strategy up to my riders. Rosario and Mike know what it is to be at that high level. They did not have any instructions at all. They were on their own and they know their horses. They rode great races. We’re there, we’ve just got to keep them happy and healthy, enjoy the ride, the moment. It’s hard to get to this moment. What I love the best is there’s not a better feeling than there was today.

“The fans, despite what they’ve reading, they showed up, they’re here to watch good racing, they bring their family, they’ll always remember the Santa Anita Derby. It was so comforting to see all these fans here and get behind us. They know at the end of the day we love our horses. We wake up worrying about them, we go to sleep worrying about them. To me, that’s what made this a great day.

Joel Rosario: “I moved a little bit soon because they weren’t putting much pressure on Instagrand, but they weren’t going too fast up front, so I was comfortable with my position. He got a little bit tired the last part, that’s why Roadster got by me.”

April 17 NOTE: Amy Zimmerman of NBC Sports tweeted today that Joel Rosario will remain with Game Winner in the Kentucky Derby. She quotes trainer Baffert saying, "He's the only one of my horses who still has his same jockey!"

April 20 NOTE: After Roadster and Game Winner worked today, trainer Baffert said, “I’m really happy with them. There’s always a lot of anxiety this time of year getting ready for the Derby, but so far, so good.”

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Game Winner struggled for the last three furlongs and finished sixth, moved up to fifth via the disqualification of the winner, beaten 3 3/4 lengths.

Bob Baffert: “I told them that was the horse to beat (Maximum Security). I told him be thankful you didn’t lose him for $16,000 or else you’d be throwing up all over you horse right now. The field never got separated they were all right there. It was like a kids’ soccer game, they were all right there. I knew the first quarter of a mile I knew I was toast. I told my riders to stay clean, they don’t listen to me.“

Joel Rosario: “I thought he was going to be sharper at the gate. He broke OK but he stayed there for a little bit. I tried to push him a little early. I thought I was going to be OK because they were going fast at the beginning but he struggled the last three furlongs. He also had a little trouble with the track.”

The chart call: "Game Winner was well in arrears widest into the backstretch, bumped solidly with BY MY STANDARDS near the half-mile pole, continued extremely widearound the far turn and into the stretch, exchanged brushes with TACITUS late and did not have enough."


WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 9, Game Winner 35:20 Handily 1/6 at SA
Jan. 20, Game Winner 48:60 Handily 14/86 at SA
Jan. 30, Game Winner 1.03:40 Handily 35/42 at SA
Feb. 8, Game Winner 1.00:20 Handily 6/92 at SA
Feb. 13, Game Winner 1.01:60 Handily 26/50 at SA
Feb. 19, Game Winner 1.25:00 Handily 1/1 at SA
Feb. 25, Game Winner 1.13:60 Handily gate 3/9 at SA
March 4, Game Winner 1.00:60 Handily 6/44 at SA
March 10, Game Winner 59:80 Handily 12/25 at LA
March 26, Game Winner 48:80 Handily 7/23 at SA
April 1, Game Winner 1.13:40 Handily 1/11 at SA
April 20, Game Winner 1.00:80 Handily 2/47 at SA
April 26, Game Winner 1.27:00 Handily 1/1 at SA

 

 

 


GRAY MAGICIAN (KY)
Trainer: Peter Miller
Owner: Wachtel Stable (Adam Wachtel), Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners (Aron Wellman) & Gary Barber
Breeder: Twin Creeks Farm
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Graydar (Unbridled's Song, Sweetest Smile)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Berg Burg (Johannesburg, Snowberg)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 4-4-4-0-0 (12) 5.00
Foal Date: Feb. 16, 2016

$250,000 Keeneland September 2017


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 29 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 39, JOCKEY: Drayden Van Dyke

He broke his maiden in his fourth start, a one-mile maiden special weight on Nov. 24 at Del Mar. His time was 1:38.55 after sitting four or five lengths off an early pace of 22.72 and 46.76. After that, he and Flavien Prat were on the move and drew off to win by 9 1/2 lengths. He was 1-2 on the tote board, but it was an impressive-looking win despite his favoritism.

On Jan. 5 in the one-mile Sham Stakes at Santa Anita, 7-2 second choice Gunmetal Gray rallied from last of seven to win by one length under Mike Smith in 1:38.96. The resulting speed figure was less impressive than this win looked. Taken in hand by Smith up the backside and around the far turn, Gunmetal Gray was 6 3/4 lengths off the pace after a half-mile and was caught six-deep turning for home. He continued to advance and near the wire overtook Much Better, ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, and Sueno, ridden by Kent Desormeaux. Much Better pressed the early pace of 23.46 and 46.95 set by Savagery and took the lead a quarter-mile out in 1:11.64, and was up by 2 1/2 lengths at the furlong marker, but he faltered. Sueno, who was never worse than third or fourth a couple of lengths back, slipped by Much Better inside the furlong marker, clearing that one by 3/4 length at the wire.  It was another 1 1/4 length back to Gray Magician and Flavien Prat, who were third or fourth at each call. Easy Shot ran evenly three or four lengths back to come in fifth, beaten 3 1/4 lengths. The 3-5 favorite, Coliseum, finished sixth by another length after breaking a bit slowly and pulling Joe Talamo. Savagery weakened to finish a poor last. Gray Magician's chart call says he "saved ground stalking the pace, split rivals into the stretch, drifted in late and was outfinished."

In a one-mile allowance race on a sloppy track at Santa Anita on Jan. 31, Extra Hope won, followed 3 1/4 lengths back by Kingly and another 1 1/2 length to Big Scott Daddy in third. Extra Hope and Gray Magician dueled for the lead through torrid splits of 22.86, 45.14 and 1:08.97. Extra Hope, with Flavien Prat up, stayed on to prevail in 1:34.74. After Kingly broke a step slow, he stalked the two leaders about a length back up the backstretch, lost ground on the turn and fell back to almost a three-length deficit, then came again under urging by Drayden Van Dyke to get second. Big Scott Daddy and Mike Smith, who were about four lengths back in the early going, wound up competing with Kingly down the stretch to settle for third. Another 2 3/4 lengths back in fourth was Manhattan Up, ridden by Tiago Pereira. Gray Magician, ridden by Joel Rosario, faded to fifth, beaten eight lengths. Palladium and Swamp Souffle rounded out the order of finish.

In the one-turn, one-mile Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park on Feb. 16, the 3-5 favorite Alwaysmining opened up in the stretch to win by 4 1/4 lengths in 1:35.2 7 . There was a nice ride by Daniel Centeno, who glanced back at the competition in the backstretch and who shook up his willing runner at the top of the lane. Gray Magician, who was 1-5 in the early betting and sent off at 2-1, finished second after closely pursuing the winner early with Flavien Prat in the saddle. Tybalt closed from last but flattened out in the stretch and was nosed out at the wire to finish third. Six ran. Alwaysmining's early fractions were 24.23, 47.51 and 1:11.29.

March 28 NOTE: For the second consecutive day, Gray Magician underwent light training in the stable area rather than come out on the track. Trainer Miller said, “At this point they’re all fit. At this point all I can do is screw them up by overdoing it."

On March 30, the UAE Derby at Meydan produced a United States-based exacta with Plus Que Parfait prevailing over Gray Magician by three-quarters of a length. Those two were never far from the pace set by longshot filly Swift Rose, who was most closely pursued by Stubbins around the far turn. As the field turned for home, Swift Rose was about to surrender the lead. Manguzi, who tracked the early pace after breaking from post 14 under Fernando Jara, came wide and took command about 3/16-mile out. Plus Que Parfait and Jose Ortiz got by on the inside around the furlong marker. Nearing the wire, Gray Magician surged and got up for second. Manguzi was third, beaten a length. Derma Louvre was another 5 1/4 lengths back in fourth. The winning time was 1:58.41 for 1 3/16 mile.

Peter Miller: “ I thought he’d run a big race and he looked like a winner at the, but maybe Joel didn’t see the horse coming up on the inside because he didn’t use the whip in the last strides. Still, I’m very proud of the horse. It’s not likely that he’ll go for the Kentucky Derby, but he’s got 40 points so it’s not out of the question.”

Joel Rosario: “He’s run his best race. I thought he was moving like a winner in the stretch, and we got momentum when he went to the front, but the other horse has come on strong.”

Co-owner Aron Wellman: Said it's "highly unlikely" Gray Magician will be entered in the Kentucky Derby.

March 30 NOTE: Co-owner Aron Wellman, while not completely ruling out the first Saturday in May, said on TVG, "Today was his Kentucky Derby."

April 6 NOTE: Trainer Miller told the Keeneland press office that Gray Magician was shipped back to California from Dubai two days ago. “He’s got 41 points toward the Derby, so he should get in. He will train at San Luis Rey and ship to Churchill Downs the week of the Derby.”

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Gray Magician was never in contention and finished last, beaten 26 1/4 lengths.

Peter Miller: “The horse bled a two out of five and we are going to give him a little break and bring him back in 30 or 45 days.”

Drayden Van Dyke: “I had a beautiful trip; no trouble whatsoever. He seemed to handle the track well but I just ran out of horse. We’ll come back and fight another day.”

The chart call: "Gray Magician gained mildly two wide after six furlongs, but was finished by the quarter-pole."


WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 2, Gray Magician 37.40 Handily 6/6 at SLR
Jan. 14, Gray Magician 49:40 Handily 5/8 at SLR
Jan. 22, Gray Magician 1.15:40 Handily 1/2 at SLR
Feb. 10, Gray Magician 50:80 Handily 6/6 at SLR
March 1, Gray Magician 50:00 Handily 11/14 at SLR
March 9, Gray Magicician 1.41:00 Handily 1/1 at SLR
March 16, Gray Magician 1.37:80 Handily 1/1 at SLR
April 20, Gray Magician 48:40 Handily 2/24 at SLR
April 27, Gray Magician 1.00:40 Handily 8/37 at SLR

 

 



IMPROBABLE (KY)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: WinStar Farm (Kenny Troutt), China Horse Club (Ah Khing Teo) and Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf et al)
Breeder: St. George Farm LLC & G. Watts Humphrey Jr.
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): City Zip (Carson City, Baby Zip)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Rare Event (A.P. Indy, Our Rite of Spring)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 12-9-13-0-0 (34) 4.23
Foal Date: Feb. 11, 2016

$110,000 Keeneland November 2016
$200,000 Keeneland September 2017


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 15 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 33. JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz, Jr.

In his debut on Sept. 29 at Santa Anita, Improbable romped by 7 1/4 lengths.

Improbable remained undefeated with a 7 1/4-length romp in the Street Sense Stakes on Breeders' Cup Friday at Churchill Downs. Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke at 4-5 odds, Improbable tracked just off the early lead that was shared by Trophy Chaser and Manny Wah. At the half-mile pole, following fractions of :22.27 and :44.96, Van Dyke tipped Improbable to the outside and rallied three wide to complete the one-turn mile in 1:35.61 over a track rated fast. Trophy Chaser stayed on for second. Manny Wah, Marquee Prince, Louder Than Bombs, Moonster, Reward the Miracle and Unionizer completed the order of finish.

Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes: “I think he’s a pretty exciting horse. He showed some talent in his debut and trained really well out in California. Hopefully this kick starts a fun weekend.”

Drayden Van Dyke: “I knew I’d be just behind some of the early pace setters. I tracked the one that I thought was the better, and when the hole opened up right after we passed the Big Board I moved him outside. He was very professional throughout the entire race."

On Dec. 8 in the 1 1/16-mile Los Alamitos Futurity, trainer Baffert recorded his fifth straight and 11th overall victory of the fixture with Improbable, sent off at 1-5 odds in his two-turn debut. Mucho Gusto finished second. Improbable broke well from post 1 under Drayden Van Dyke in the field of six. They saved ground in mid-pack while Mucho Gusto and Savagery contested the very early going. Savagery blew the first turn, carrying Extra Hope out a few paths and Dueling even wider, leaving Mucho Gusto to lead in fractions of 23.25 and 47.25 with Savagery, who recovered, pressing him. At that point, Improbable was two wide in a joint third under a hold, but Van Dyke soon let him go, and Improbable caught the other two quickly. They were three abreast turning for home. Savagery dropped back in early stretch. Mucho Gusto kept trying but couldn't stay with Improbable, who won by five lengths. Mucho Gusto held second, finishing three lengths clear of Extra Hope. Savagery finished  fourth but was disqualifed to fifth for interfering with Dueling. The time was a solid 1:41.18.

Bob Baffert: “At the top of the stretch. he looked a little lost. He had to hit him a couple of times. Once he straightened out, he got into that long, beautiful stride of his. The good horses always find a way to win. He had trained like he was going to run like this. I was really excited about (Mucho Gusto). He tried very hard and just got a little tired. His race was very encouraging. We’ll just let these horses come along at their own pace and hope they stay healthy. That’s the key. Improbable has a long stride like Justify, he’s just a smaller version. I’m not saying he’s at Justify’s level yet, but he’s a really good horse.”

Drayden Van Dyke: “We were just behind the trouble on the first turn, and to be honest, we benefitted because we ended up where wanted to be, three wide behind the leaders. This is just such a cool horse. He hit another gear when we got to the stretch.”

Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm; “Bob has liked this horse all along. When Justify went to the farm from Del Mar this summer, Bob put Improbable in his stall. I loved his race today. The best thing about it was his last eighth of a mile and the way he galloped out. That gives you the hope for the future and that’s what we’re all looking for going towards the Spring Classics.”

Jan. 29 NOTE: Nominated to the UAE Derby.

March 7 NOTE: Will be shipped to Los Alamitos and will work there over the weekend.

March 10 NOTE: Improbable definite for the Rebel Stakes. The plane leaves Southern California on Wednesday. Stable mate Game Winner is also definite.

March 10 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said of Game Winner and Improbable, “We’re coming. They worked well. Everything’s good. There’s no changing between now and then. We knew the Rebel was always there, but at first we were thinking not to ship. We could come back. We hate to ship twice. It changes things a little bit, but right now we’re going through a little crisis here in Southern California. We never dreamed the day would come they would close down Santa Anita, but we’re getting through it. The main thing is that the 3-year-olds, they worked well. They’re coming up there. I think it’s very nice of them to want to split that race. That’s the key thing.”

With Jon Court riding Long Range Toddy for the first time, they ran past heavily-favored Improbable in the final yards of the March 16 Rebel Stakes, division one, to win by a neck. Galilean finished third, beaten 2 1/2 lengths, followed by Extra Hope another length back. Classy John, then Extra Hope, led through fractions of 23.77, 47.58 and 1:11.97. At first, Long Range Toddy was right there with Classy John, but he and Court eased back to fifth at the next two calls, but never more than two lengths off the pace. Meanwhile, Improbable stalked the pace in the five path, and that wide trip could have cost him once he finally had a one-length lead with a furlong left in the race. Galilean pressed the pace at each call, was second to Improbable at the furlong marker, and didn't have enough left in the stretch. Extra Hope, who was three or four wide during his trip, was a head behind Galilean at the furlong marker and yielded.The winning time was 1:42.49.

Trainer Bob Baffert (Improbable):  “I would have liked to have won, but I’m very happy with both horses. They both ran well off the layoff. Thank goodness for the Cella family (owners of Oaklawn Park). We got to run both horses today. It was great racing.”

March 26 NOTE: Jose Ortiz has been named to take over from Drayden Van Dyke in the Arkansas Derby, per Elliott Walden as reported on a DRF Live post today.

April 9 NOTE: Improbable arrived at Oaklawn Park late this morning following a flight that originated earlier in the day in Southern California.

April 11 NOTE: Reportedly, trainer Baffert was on the phone for a brief interview after the post position draw, and after learning he drew post 1, he asked an Oaklawn official what post Gray Attempt drew.... Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said Improbable schooled in the gate following the first renovation break Thursday morning and added, “I was looking to see if I noticed anything this morning that was a little different than the last time I was here. He was maybe a little more relaxed than last time. Very good on the track. We do have a special time to train, so it’s quiet out there, which really helped the horsemen. You get the first 15 minutes after the break. Maybe that’s what I’m noticing, and before I had him out there with all the other horses. It’s a pretty busy racetrack. He seems more relaxed here.”

In the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 13, Omaha Beach won by a length, followed by Improbable, Country House and Laughing Fox. Omaha Beach, ridden by Mike Smith, wouldn't let Improbable and Jose Ortiz by during the stretch run and won the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:49.91 on a sloppy track. Improbable was restless in the gate at post 1 and was backed out twice, but the delay was minimal. After the bell rang, One Flew South and Jersey Agenda led the field through the first turn, but Omaha Beach was soon right behind One Flew South and passed him to take the lead on the backstretch. Heading into the far turn,  Improbable was a length behind Omaha Beach with Long Range Toddy tracking them in third. Coming out of the turn, the same two led. Country House, with Joel Rosario in the irons, and Laughing Fox, ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr. had come on around the turn to get in third and fourth place. Those four stayed in that order across the finish line, but it was a two-horse race to the wire. The third and fourth finishers were beaten by 6 3/4 and 7 3/4 lengths, respectively.

Bob Baffert: “The horse, happy with the way he ran. I was a little bit worried in the starting gate. He was acting up in there. I had a few moments there of maybe he was going to rear up or do something and get left. Luckily, they unloaded him and put him back and he left there well. I thought Jose Ortiz did a masterful job of riding him. We got beat by a good horse. They showed how these California horses are good horses.” Baffert added that he believes the colt doesn’t need blinkers.

THE NEXT DAY: Doing well today, and set to be flown to Lousville on April 15. Trainer Baffert said, “I thought he had to run first or second to have a chance, so it puts him right there in the mix. It’s a wide-open Derby this year. I just feel thankful. It could have been disastrous. Really had some anxious moments there. I think he ran a great race and he’s going to improve off this. I’ve been bringing him along, getting him ready by running him and so he’ll move forward off of it. I don’t think he needs the blinkers. I think they got him a little upset. That’s probably why he acted up in the gate.”

April 15 NOTE: Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride Improbable in the Kentucky Derby.  Jose Ortiz was on board in the Arkansas Derby but will stay with Wood Memorial winner Tacitus.

April 19 NOTE: Jockey Ortiz (Irad) said, "He's a nice horse, he has a good trainer, so we'll see what happens. It's very exciting. I've got a lot of good support from the owners and trainers."

April 20 NOTE: Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said, “When you have this kind of weather, and the track is sealed, you want to go out there and take a little jaunt, and not try to do too much. He’s basically a lightly-raced horse, so he’s running him into shape. He raced at Los Alamitos in December, and went from there to the Rebel, so it’ll take him a few races just to get racing fit. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him, and he came out of Arkansas with two second-place finishes. But he could have won the first race easily if he’d had a better trip, and in the second one we were beaten by Omaha Beach, but that’s a very nice horse. I see him improving with each start.”

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security was much the best but was disqualified and placed 17th by stewards. He won by 1 3/4 length in a time of 2:03.93 on a sloppy-sealed track. Country House was elevated to first. He was followed by Code of Honor, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Maximum Security and three-quarters of a length by Country House. Tacitus was elevated to third, beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Maximum Security and 1 1/2 length by Country House. Improbable, who finished fifth, a head behind Tacitus, was moved up to fourth.

Bob Baffert: “I told them that was the horse to beat (Maximum Security). I told him be thankful you didn’t lose him for $16,000 or else you’d be throwing up all over you horse right now. The field never got separated they were all right there. It was like a kids’ soccer game, they were all right there. I knew the first quarter of a mile I knew I was toast. The problem is (Improbable) couldn’t get out, the six (Vekoma) wouldn’t let him out. He could not get out. I told my riders to stay clean, they don’t listen to me."

Irad Ortiz Jr.: “My horse didn’t really like the track. I asked him to keep up and he just could not.”

The chart says, "Improbable went along istriking range covered up in the two-path, idled through the far turn in traffic losing some position, shifted out in the drive and offered a mild response.


WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 9, Improbable 38:00 Handily 2/3 at SA
Jan. 14, Improbable 49:20 Handily 20/42 at SA
Jan. 20, Improbable 48:00 Handily 6/86 at SA
Jan. 26, Improbable 1.02:00 Handily 33/46 at SA
Feb. 1, Improbable 58:40 Handily 1/35 at SA
Feb. 8, Improbable 1.15:00 Handily 13/19 at SA
Feb. 13, Improbable 1.12:80 Handily 3/9 at SA
Feb. 20, Improbable 1.13:20 Handily 7/23 at SA
Feb. 25, Improbable 1.12:00 Handily 1/9 at SA
March 4, Improbable 59:80 Handily 4/43 at SA
March 10, Improbable 59:20 Handily 6/25 at LA
March 30, Improbable 1.12:80 Handily 1/24 at SA
April 5, Improbable 1.14:00 Handily 1/8 at SA
April 22, Improbable 48:00 Breezing 4/79 at CD
April 28, Improbable 1.00:60 Breezing 9/25 at CD

 

 

 

 

LONG RANGE TODDY (KY)
Trainer: Steven M. Asmussen
Owner: Willis Horton Racing LLC
Breeder: Willis Horton Racing LLC
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Take Charge Indy (A.P. Indy, Take Charge Lady)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Pleasant Song (Unbridled's Song, Pleasant Temper)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 4-11-9-0-0 (24) 4.33
Foal Date: April 12, 2016


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 15 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 38. JOCKEY: Jon Court.

He broke his maiden at one mile on Sept. 28 at Remington Park in his second start and first trip around two turns and then turned back for the prep race for the Springboard Mile, the seven-furlong Clever Trevor, at Remington Park on Nov. 2. He won the Clever Trevor.

After crying out for running room in the turn of the Springboard Mile, Long Range Roddy got loose to win at 18-1 odds. Bankit, Dunph, and Tone Broke took second, third and fourth places. The Springboard was one of five wins for Asmussen on the evening. Richard Eramia was aboard Long Range Toddy for the upset win, the third straight for those two, covering the mile in 1:39.75 over a fast track, and beating stable mate Bankit by a head. The time was well off the stakes record of 1:37.14 from last year’s winner, Greyvitos. Long Range Toddy tracked the two early front-runners in the Springboard for the first half of the race, following Dobbins G and Marquee Prince. When those two wilted after moderate splits of 24.13 and 48.76, Long Range Toddy took over and held off Bankit, who was 11th, 3 3/4 lengths off the lead, after six furlongs.

Remarkably, with one furlong left in this race, the first eight horses were separated by only one length.

Steve Asmussen: “He’s a beautiful colt, a home-bred of Mr. Horton’s. It was a nice win, and I’m proud of him and Bankit, who ran second.” The trainer said Long Range Toddy would probably race next at Oaklawn Park.

Jan. 16 NOTE: Trainer Asmussen said yesterday, “He’s training great. Unbelievable how much that horse has improved.”

Jan. 23 NOTE: Trainer Asmussen said, “He’s just gotten better and better."

In the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 25, Gray Attempt, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, won after going straight to the front from the outside post 8, clipping off splits of 23.12, 46.86 and 1:11.01 and finishing the mile in 1:36.94. Long Range Toddy and Richard Eramia closed from 1 1/2 lengths back after the first half-mile to get second, beaten only a neck. Boldor, always prominent, went three wide into the stretch and fought on to take third under Ramon Vazquez, another neck behind Long Range Toddy. Six Shooter, with Stewart Elliott aboard, finished fourth, another length back, after being four lengths back in fifth place in the far turn.

Steve Asmussen: “Obviously, I'm disappointed as heck in Bankit, but Long Range Toddy and Boldor both ran solid. Kind of a merry-go round race. They went in :46 and change fractions. That's pretty solid, but nobody changed any positions. First day of the meet, things will change. We'll see what happens.”

In the 1 1/16-mile Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 18, Super Steed won at 62-1, Sueno was second at 7-1, Long Range Toddy was third at 7-1 and Six Shooter with blinkers added was fourth at 28-1. The result: a one dollar superfecta payoff of $26,749.70 -- if anyone had it. The early pace was set alternately by Gray Attempt and Jersey Agenda in 23.43, 47.63 and 1:12.73. Super Steed and Terry Thompson were back in ninth of 11 after the first half-mile, rallied on the far turn, surged to the lead in upper stretch, had a three-length lead at the furlong marker, and defeated Sueno by 3/4 length in a time of 1:44.04. Sueno and Corey Lanerie stayed mid-pack the first half, was actually eighth after six furlongs but only two lengths back, and rallied down the stretch. Long Range Toddy and Richard Eramia broke from post 10 but got into contention early and stayed in contention to get third, beaten two lengths. Six Shooter and Stewart Elliott were last but only 4 1/2 lengths off the pace after the first half-mile and lost by 3 1/4 lengths.

With Jon Court riding Long Range Toddy for the first time, they ran past heavily-favored Improbable in the final yards of the March 16 Rebel Stakes, division one, to win by a neck. Galilean finished third, beaten 2 1/2 lengths, followed by Extra Hope another length back. Classy John, then Extra Hope, led through fractions of 23.77, 47.58 and 1:11.97. At first, Long Range Toddy was right there with Classy John, but he and Court eased back to fifth at the next two calls, but never more than two lengths off the pace. Meanwhile, Improbable stalked the pace in the five path, and that wide trip could have cost him once he finally had a one-length lead with a furlong left in the race. Galilean pressed the pace at each call, was second to Improbable at the furlong marker, and didn't have enough left in the stretch. Extra Hope, who was three or four wide during his trip, was a head behind Galilean at the furlong marker and yielded. The winning time was 1:42.49.

Steve Asmussen: “The horse is doing extremely well. He stepped up. Jon gave him a beautiful trip today and I love how he earned it late. The horse is extremely kind. Jon worked him the other day, and his comment was that he was push-button. The horse was away well and got a good spot. They went about their business and he relaxed down the backstretch. You could tell coming into the stretch he was loaded. He waited until they all lined out, didn’t waste any ground and wheeled him out late like he should and got rewarded for it.”

Winning jockey Jon Court: “I was able to get settled and hoped I had left enough for a big punch. I also hoped I hadn’t let him get too far in front. Believe me, I was sweating bullets, but I had a lot of confidence in him. I had watched his races and I had worked him before the race. It’s great when a plan comes together as well as this one did.”

April 12 NOTE: Owner Horton said Long Range Toddy is named after his daughter-in-law’s nephew.  “I try to name all the horses that I raise for family,” Horton said. “I’ve named a lot of them. I’m about to run out of names.”

In the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 13, Long Range Toddy, ridden by Jon Court, finished sixth, beaten 14 3/4 lengths by Omaha Beach on a sloppy track. He contended in third heading into the far turn, but he lost ground after that. The chart says he "pressed the pace in the three path, then faded in the stretch."

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Long Range Toddy prompted the pace into the far turn, began to fade a bit as he was moving toward the stretch, had to take up when Maximum Security came out, and finished 17th, moved up to 16th via the disqualification of the winner, beaten 18 lengths.

Steve Asmussen: “it was very unfortunate that it rained. He doesn’t do well on an ‘off’ track. But he was in a good position and then, as we know, the race got real rough.”

Jon Court; “Well, at least I am still the oldest rider ever to ride in the Derby. It was a lot of fun but I had to stop very abruptly.”

The chart call: "Long Range Toddy angled inward after an alert beginning, attended the pace outside MAXIMUM  SECURITY, was bumped and forced  out  into BODEXPRESS while checking sharply approaching the five-sixteenths, and retreated."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 5, Long Range Toddy 1.01:00 Breezing Muddy 1/28 at OP
Jan. 14, Long Range Toddy 1.01:00 Breezing 5/91 at OP
Feb. 3, Long Range Toddy 51:80 Breezing 71/81 at OP
Feb. 10, Long Range Toddy 1.00:20 Breezing muddy 4/47 at OP
March 2, Long Range Toddy 1.00:80 Breezing 5/40 at OP
March 10, Long Range Toddy 53:00 Breezing 89/93 at OP
March 25, Long Range Toddy 51:00 Breezing 14/19 at OP
April 1, Long Range Toddy 1.00:00 Breezing 1/18 at OP
April 8, Long Range Toddy 52:60 Breezing 21/22 at OP
April 22, Long Range Toddy 1.02:60 Breezing 29/35 at CD
April 29, Long Range Toddy 47.80 Breezing 5/40 at CD

 

 

 

 

MASTER FENCER (JPN)
Trainer: Koichi Tsunoda
Owner: Katsumi and Yasuyo Yoshizawa
Breeder: Mishima Bokujo
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Just A Way (JPN) (Heart's Cry (JPN), Sibyl (JPN))
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Sexy Zamurai (Deputy Minister (CAN), Powder)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 3-4-6-1-0 (14) 2.50
Foal Date: Feb. 21, 2016

Not sold at auction.


KENTUCKY DERBY: Quarantine Chicago. April 29 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 16. JOCKEY: Julien Leparoux.

Master Fencer's first two races were at  about 1 1/4 mile on turf. He finished second at Hanshin on Sept. 23 and fourth at Chukyo on Dec. 2.

He was switched to dirt and won twice going about 1 1/8 mile, a Dec. 23 maiden race at Hanshin by 3 1/2 lengths, and again in a Jan. 14 allowance at Kyoto.

He registered a fourth-place effort in the Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse on Feb. 17.

Most recently, he finished a wide closing second to an even wider Der Flug in the Fukuryu at Nakayama Racecourse on March 31.

He was declared in the Kentucky Derby on April 6. He would become the first horse bred in Japan to run in the Kentucky Derby.

April 6 NOTE: Owner Katsumi Yoshizawa said, “It is an honor to be able to participate in one of the world’s greatest races. In Japan, kids in grade school have a yearly athletic competition that the whole family and close friends all get very excited about. They hope when their children perform they do well but, of course, parents most of all want their children to come back safely. That is how I feel about Master Fencer. I hope he comes back from the race safely most of all. I feel lucky to be able to race my horse in Kentucky.”

Yoshizawa’s training operation has been responsible for six-time Grade I winner Gold Ship, 2014 Longines World Best Racehorse and three-time Grade I-winning Just a Way, and prominent Japanese sire Tanino Gimlet. Yoshizawa has been a prominent buyer at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale for more than a decade including purchasing Master Fencer’s dam, Sexy Zamurai, for $110,000 in 2005.

Two horses based in Japan have run in the Kentucky Derby: Ski Captain (14th in 1995) and Lani (ninth in 2016).

April 13 NOTE: Master Fencer is scheduled to travel to the U.S. on April 23, according to Kate Hunter,  the Japan-based representative for Churchill Downs. He would spend 42-48 hours in quarantine in Chicago prior to vanning to Keeneland on April 25 and continuing to Churchill Downs on April 30.

April 15 NOTE: Julien Leparoux will ride Master Fencer in the Kentucky Derby.

April 26 NOTE: Master Fencer's at Keeneland for the time being, in light training. Shipping agent/manager Mitsuoki Numamoto said, “(Exercise rider Yosuke Kono) wants him to get used to the American circumstances – horses, track and so forth." Kate Hunter, a Japan-based recruiter for Churchill Downs, said, "He’s surprisingly laid back, given the fact he’s never traveled abroad before."

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Master Fencer was last of all up to the point he left the far turn but finished seventh, moved up to sixth via the disqualification of the winner, beaten four lengths.

Koichi Tsunoda: “He didn’t break that well, but we knew he’d break slowly. He made a huge effort in the stretch. I’m really pleased with how we finished so close to the other quality horses in the race. Great effort by horse and rider. If he comes out of this well, I want to take him to the Belmont next.”

Julien Leparoux: “I very much appreciate the connections of this horse for allowing me the opportunity to ride in the Derby.”

The chart call: "Master Fencer veered out to get away behind his field, was  crowded from heavy  outside pressure at the start, went along striding a bit  awkwardly far back early inside, moved  out up the backstretch, began taking better hold of the track in the two-path into the stretch, moved back inside and finished willingly."

WORKOUTS

May 1, Master Fencer 1:05.20 Breezing 15/15 at CD

 

 

 

 

MAXIMUM SECURITY (KY)
Trainer: Jason Servis
Owner: Gary L. and Mary E. West
Breeder: Gary & Mary West Stables, Inc.
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): New Year's Day (Street Cry (IRE), Justwhistledixie)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Lil Indy (Anasheed, Cresta Lil)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-2-7-0-0 (14) 3.00
Foal Date: May 14, 2016


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 30 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 17. JOCKEY: Luis Saez.

Maximus Security won his first three starts: (1) 6 1/2 furlongs at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 20 in a $16,000 claiming race by 9 3/4 lengths at 5-2 odds; (2) six furlongs at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 24 in a starter optional claiming race by 6 1/2 lengths at 3-10 odds; and (3) seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 20 in a starter optional claiming race by 18 1/4 lengths at 1-10 odds. His time in that seven-furlong race was 1:21.72 while ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr.

March 19 NOTE: Looking for a workout.

March 21 NOTE: Trainer Servis revealed earlier this week that the last race took at lot out of Maximus Mischief and that he lost some weight. Luis Saez will have the Florida Derby mount with Irad Ortiz, Jr. booked on Bourbon War.

March 22 NOTE: Trainer Servis said, “I thought he had a good breeze. He came home in 12. I would still like to not commit (yet to the Florida Derby), but I would say we are on schedule.”

March 27 NOTE: Trainer Servis said, “I’d like to see two horses head-and-head for the lead and him tucked in laying third about four lengths off of them. I’ll leave it to Luis Saez. He’s a great rider He’s a young horse that is probably going to lay it all out just because he’s young enough where he hasn’t really learned just to go through the motions. I’ll leave it to Luis and see what happens. I thought he had some ability, but I didn’t think he was this kind of horse, to be honest. I thought he was well-spotted (for a $16,000 price tag) and he’d get the job done. I’m a big boy. He was in for a claiming price, and we got lucky and he didn’t get claimed. Then I picked a couple of soft spots out for him where he was the heavy favorite, and he easily won those. He’s three-for-three at Gulfstream, so we’ll see.”

In the Florida Derby on March 30, the other 10 horses in the field left the early speed alone, which was in the form of Maximum Security, ridden by Luis Saez. He set moderate early fractions of 24.42, 48.98 and 1:12.90, led at every call, and won the 1 1/8-mile contest in race horse time of 1:48.86. Bodexpress, a four race maiden ridden by Nik Juarez, finished second by 3 1/2 lengths at 70-1 odds. He tracked the leader throughout the carousel. Neither of those two had run two turns before. Meanwhile, Code of Honor and Bourbon War, both experienced at routing, rounded out the superfecta. Confirmed closers, they were compromised by the soft early fractions. Code of Honor settled for third under John Velazquez, beaten 6 3/4 lengths, and Bourbon War was fourth under Irad Ortiz, Jr., another three-quarters of a length back.

Jason Servis: “The plan was not to go to the lead. I talked to Luis about it. I didn’t want to overread the race. Luis agreed that there was going to be a couple speed horses that might not be as good as a Derby horse, so we were really thinking that we were going to be laying third. At the end of the day I told Luis, ‘Look, he’s yours. He breaks, and you ride him however you want.’ I worked in the jock’s room for 20 years, and if I heard anythin,g I heard jockeys say, ‘If this guy would have left me alone I could have won this race for him.’ I just wanted to stay out of Luis’ way. It was his decision 100 percent. They went slow early, and the rest is history.

“He wasn’t beating anything, he really wasn’t, but he was three-for-three at the track and I had Luis Saez. I was like, ‘Hello, what’s the downside?’ I’ll leave it to Team West. They’ve got some really good managers and we’ll see what they think they want to do. They’ve got that horse Game Winner, so I don’t know what we’ll decide. I guess I have to cancel my fishing trip in May.”

Luis Saez: “It was beautiful. He broke so perfect and I just took it. He was traveling beautiful, and when he came to the half-mile pole and you feel the pressure, I knew I had a lot of horse and in the stretch he just took off. My plan was if the favorite or somebody else took the lead, I’m going to sit because I don’t want to make the race for somebody else. He took it so easy, so I just went with it.”

THE NEXT DAY: Trainer Servis said, “I watched on the TV over by the jock’s room because I watched the 11th race on that TV, and my horsewon. So, I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going back to that TV. When he broke and Luis decided to go and it looked like he was going to get the lead by himself. I said, ‘That’s good.’ Then, I saw 24 and I said, ‘Well, that’s good.’ Then, I saw his ears up and I saw the 48.8 or something, I said, ‘This is good,’ because I know he’s going kick. I said, ‘This is really good.’ Luis walked the dog. He backed them up. I have to give him credit. I think it had a lot to do with it. ’m not downgrading the horse, but Luis did a great job.... Candidly, if you read between the lines, there had to be a reason why I ran him for $16,000. Am I glad I didn’t lose him? Hell, yeah. Is he training good and sound? Yes. But there was a reason why I ran him for $16,000. I claim a lot of horses. If I’m claiming and I see a homebred, I figure they got what they were dealt. It wasn’t like he was an $180,000 yearling. I was taking a shot. I didn’t think he would be claimed.”

April 1 NOTE: Maximum Security probably will stay at Palm Meadows until early in the week of the Kentucky Derby.

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security was much the best but was disqualified and placed 17th by stewards. He won by 1 3/4 length in a time of 2:03.93 on a sloppy-sealed track. Country House was elevated to first. He was followed by Code of Honor, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Maximum Security and three-quarters of a length by Country House. Tacitus was elevated to third, beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Maximum Security and 1 1/2 length by Country House. Improbable, who finished fifth, a head behind Tacitus, was moved up to fourth.

Jason Servis: "I don't think it changed the outcome of the race. It looks like something scared him in the infield, but I haven't been able to watch it that close. I feel bad for the Wests. I feel bad for the owners, the Wests. It looked like he ducked out a little bit.  It's tough. It hasn't sunk in yet, but it will.

"I saw 22 and I was concerned and 46. I thought it was too fast, but he threw his ears up, I thought he was getting a breather and he'd be OK. He did seem to duck out a little, but when he (Luis Saez) set him down, he was impressive.”

Luis Saez: “I thought I never put anybody in danger. My horse shied away from the noise of the crowd and may have ducked out a little."

Stewards, per Equibase chart: "The jockey of COUNTRY HOUSE lodged an objection against MAXIMUM SECURITY for interference nearing the five-sixteenths marker. Following the Stewards review MAXIMUM SECURITY was disqualified from first and placed seventeenth for veering out and stacking up WAR OF WILL, LONG RANGE TODDY, and BODEXPRESS."

The chart says, "Maximum Security came away in good order to take a short lead through the stretch the first time, edged away up the backstretch slightly off the rail, veered out sharply forcing WAR OF WILL out into LONG RANGE TODDY and BODEXPRESS nearing the five-sixteenths pole, responded when challengedfrom both flanks by CODE OF HONOR and COUNTRY HOUSE, and edged away from the latter through the final stages."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 6, Maximum Security 50.25 Breezing 27/51 at PMM
Jan. 19, Maximum Security 50.90 Breezing 80/103 at PMM
Feb. 13, Maximum Security 49.80 Breezing 18/27 at PMM
March 22, Maximum Security 52:95 Breezing 63/63 at PMM
April 13, Maximum Security 54:85 Breezing 50/50 at PMM
April 21, Maximum Security 42:00 Breezing 15/15 at PMM
April 29, Maximum Security 53:80 Breezing 6/6 at PMM

 

 

 

 

PLUS QUE PARFAIT (KY)
Trainer: Brendan Walsh
Owner: Imperial Racing, LLC (Michael Foley)
Breeder: Calloway Stables, LLC
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Point of Entry (Dynaformer, Matlacha Pass)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Belvedera (Awesome Again (CAN), Forever Land)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 2-9-15-0-0 (26) 2.47
Foal Date: March 23, 2016

$24,000 RNA Keeneland November 2016
$135,000 Keeneland September 2017
Listed as a ridgling at Equibase. Described as a gelding in a Jan. 11 FG release


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 13 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 9. JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana, Jr.

On Oct. 7, Plus Que Parfait won for the first time while racing for the third time, and he did it going 1 1/16 mile at Keeneland in a time of 1:44.78 under Ricardo Santana, Jr. He was always prominent, second by a length the first half-mile behind Absolute Control's opening fractions of 23.66 and 47.29. After six furlongs, those two were pretty much on even terms in 1:12.61. The other one retreated and Plus Que Parfait kept going, only to be caught by Harvey Wallbanger, but Plus Que Parfait remained resolute with that rival and won by a nose. The chart call: "Plus Que Parfait "tracked the pace early, angled off the rail into the lane, was under a long drive down the lane and gamely won the nod at the wire."

On Nov. 24 on a sloppy-sealed track at Churchill Downs, 7-2 second choice Signalman, ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr., won the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes after grabbing the lead with three-sixteenths of a mile to run.  Fourteen ran. He held off a late charge from 14-1 shot Plus Que Parfait to win by a neck, timed in 1:45.29. Signalman broke from the rail, rated in sixth down the backstretch as longshot Topper T led the field through a quarter mile in 23.12 and a fast half-mile in :46.83. As the leaders neared the final turn, Signalman showed a quick burst of speed and moved into third along the inside. Topper T, also on the rail, passed the six-furlong marker in 1:12.33 but was tiring. King for a Day briefly poked his head in front at the top of the stretch and Plus Que Parfait and Limonite were hitting their best strides after racing near the back of the pack. But it was Signalman who zipped past Topper T while between horses as Plus Que Parfait was engaging in his late challenge. Limonite, sent off at 20-1, narrowly edged King for a Day for third -- they were another 1 3/4 lengths back of the winner. Roiland, Tracksmith, Current, Topper T, Dunph, Royal Urn, 3-1 favorite Knicks Go, Mick’s Star, Blue Steel and Everfast completed the order of finish.

Brendan Walsh: “He ran a great race. I’m very excited and pleased with his effort today. We’ll have a lot of fun with him down the road. He’s just getting going.”

Julien Leparoux: “He ran great. I think he’s just going to keep getting better with each start.”

Jan. 11 NOTE: Trainer Walsh said of Stall 26 across from his office,  “It’s a high pressure stall. Any year I’ve been down here, I always had nice horses in that stall. It’s nice to be able to look up from my desk at him. I definitely would want a good horse of mine to be in there. (Having two-turn experience) always been an advantage. It looks like he’s good enough. He seems to like this track. He’s worked well on it, and I believe that the long stretch will suit him. Just like any of them this time of year, he still has a lot of questions to answer, but I think he’s a pretty nice horse. There’s plenty of stamina in his pedigree.He’s doing well and it looks like he’s very healthy. I saw a photo of him the other day from last September, and psychically he looks twice the horse now that he was then. (Julien Lepareoux) rode him in the Kentucky Jockey Club and said he was keen to stay on him."

Jan. 16 NOTE: Trainer Walsh told DRF.com, “He’s done really well since the Jockey Club. We got a little held up with the rain here, but it’s early and it’s a long year. He’s a pretty active horse. He gets plenty out of his training. He’s an easy horse like that, as straightforward as they come. He doesn’t carry a ton of weight the way he’s made. He won’t have any distance limitations."

In the mile and 70 yard LeComte Stakes at Fair Grounds on Jan. 19, Plus Que Parfait had some excuse for finishing off the board. He finished fifth, beaten 6 1/2 lengths by War of Will and a time of 1:43.44. The chart calls says he "stumbled at the start then bumped with a foe, went four wide on the first turn, was reserved on the outside, came under urging in the four path on the far turn, shifted six wide into the stretch and...lacked the needed response."

Jan. 29 NOTE: Nominated to the UAE Derby.

Feb. 10 NOTE: Trainer Walsh said on Feb. 9, “He ran a good race last time. I think had he not stumbled, it would have had an extra length or two and he would have been more prominent. It was a lot of small things that went against him. He didn’t run a bad race. Between his maiden win and the Kentucky Jockey Club, he’s run some solid races. Hopefully we won’t have as many excuses this time. You hate to be making a bunch of excuses, but hopefully this time we’ll get a better trip and see how good he is. He worked great.  He’s not one that would blow your socks off when watching him work, but I thought he worked great and came back and was pretty much exactly what we wanted. It seems like the horse is doing well.”

In the Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 16, Plus Que Parfait finished 13th of 14. He was seven lengths off the pace early in the race and finished 20 1/4 lengths behind winner War of Will. He "came five wide into the stretch and failed to respond."

March 27 NOTE: Tommy Molloy, the assistant trainer to Brendan Walsh, said: “He’s feeling great and doing absolutely wonderful since he arrived from South Florida. He’s full of energy, so we’re over the moon.”

March 28 NOTE: Jose Ortiz said,  “He felt really good today. I think he fits really good in this spot and has a good chance."

On March 30, the UAE Derby at Meydan produced a United States-based exacta with Plus Que Parfait prevailing over Gray Magician by three-quarters of a length. Those two were never far from the pace set by longshot filly Swift Rose, who was most closely pursued by Stubbins around the far turn. As the field turned for home, Swift Rose was about to surrender the lead. Manguzi, who tracked the early pace after breaking from post 14 under Fernando Jara, came wide and took command about 3/16-mile out. Plus Que Parfait and Jose Ortiz got by on the inside around the furlong marker. Nearing the wire, Gray Magician surged and got up for second. Manguzi was third, beaten a length. Derma Louvre was another 5 1/4 lengths back in fourth. The winning time was 1:58.41 for 1 3/16 mile.

Brendan Walsh: “This is huge. Jose gave him such a great ride, and what a night for him with two winners. This has been the plan for quite awhile and his owners are based out here. We said if things didn’t work out to get to the Kentucky Derby, then we would come here. He had a bad day the last time he ran, but we didn’t hold it against him and it has worked out. Brilliant.”

Jose Ortiz: “I have a nice horse. He was running well and around the turn I was trying to find spaces. I was happy that I saved the whole ground in the race. And when I was able to find a way through, he responded really well, so I am very happy and very happy for Brendan. He deserves it. Brendan, he works so hard, and he gave me so many shots, and we haven’t been lucky and now I was able to deliver for him. To win means a lot. It’s tough to come all the way and win and I have been blessed to have two winners, so I am very happy.”

April 12 NOTE: Trainer Walsh said of Kentucky Derby plans, “He got in to Churchill last night. He had a little jog this morning to gradually get him back in training.  He is going to have to really come back in good shape. He has the right mentality for the Derby; nothing really bothers him. We saw that with the way he handled everything in Dubai. That was a good experience for him to learn from. (Spending time in Dubai before being shipped home )gives horses a chance to recuperate, put some weight back on and rehydrate. The next week to 10 days will be very important. If he is not, we will rethink his plans.”  An easy half-mile breeze is set for April 19 or 20 if Plus Que Parfait is showing good energy, Walsh added.

April 15 NOTE: Ricardo Santana, Jr. will ride in the Kentucky Derby. Jose Ortiz rode him in the UAE Derby.

April 20 NOTE: Trainer Walsh said, “He bounced out of the much better than expected. He’s been doing really well since he’s gotten to Churchill Downs. We are just so proud of his effort in the UAE Derby to jump up and win like that. I think it just showed all along that he didn’t really care for the surface at Fair Grounds over the winter.”

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Plus Que Parfait was 12th early, advanced to fifth at the top of the stretch, but finished ninth, moved up to eighth via the disqualification of the winner, beaten 5 1/4 lengths.

Brendan Walsh; “I’m thrilled with him. I thought he ran his heart out. I couldn’t ask for anything more. He ran his race. He had as good a trip as you’re probably going to get. He’s not beaten very far at all and went all the way to Dubai and came back and ran his race. For a second I thought it could maybe happen and he gave me a thrill. He showed he could run with these horses. He was no 54-1 shot.”

Ricardo Santana Jr.: “I thought my horse ran a solid effort. He may not have liked the surface.”

The chart call: "Plus Que Parfait was unhurried early two wide, continued in that path  improving position after the first mile, but could not sustain the bid."


WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 5, Plus Que Parfait  1.01:00 Breezing 9/71 at FG
Jan. 12, Plus Que Parfait 1.01:80 Breezing 27/77 at FG
Feb. 2, Plus Que Parfait 49:80 Breezing 93/169 at FG
Feb. 9, Plus Que Parfait 1.01:40 Breezing 16/61 at FG
March 3, Plus Que Parfait 50.25 Breezing 30/40 at PMM
March 9, Plus Que Parfait 1:00.80 Breezing 2/22 at PMM
March 16, Plus Que Parfait 1:01.05 Breezing 4/18 at PMM
April 21, Plus Que Parfait FOG unofficially 49.40 Breezing at CD
April 27, Plus Que Parfait 1.02:00 Breezing 28/43 at CD

 

 

 

 

ROADSTER (KY)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owner: Speedway Stable LLC (Peter Fluor & K. C. Weiner)
Breeder: Stone Farm
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Quality Road (Elusive Quality, Kobla)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Ghost Dancing (Silver Ghost, Ransom Dance)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 6-2-10-0-0 (18) 2.60
Foal Date: April 23, 2016

$525,000 Keeneland September 2017


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 27 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 33. JOCKEY: Florent Geroux.

In his career debut, Roadster broke his maiden by 4 1/4 lengths at 4-5 odds at Del Mar on July 29, gaining much attention.

The 3-5 favorite in the ensuing Del Mar Futurity, he finished third behind winner and stable mate Game Winner. He was said to have displaced his soft palate, and surgery was performed. He didn't race again in 2018.

Dec. 20 NOTE: Roadster put in workouts Nov. 28 and Dec. 4, 10 and 19.

Dec. 22 NOTE: Trainer Baffert told DRF Roadster should be ready in January.

Jan. 8 NOTE: No workouts since Dec. 19.

Jan. 21 NOTE: He has had quarter cracks in multiple hooves, per report.

In a one-mile allowance optional claiming race at Santa Anita on March 1, Roadster and Mike Smith won. They were three wide around the first turn, stalked in second behind 70-1 Diamond Blitz and fractions of 23.75 and 47.85 while challenging the leader at the second call, was virtually head to head with the leader after six furlongs in 1:13.16, took command into the stretch and won by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:37.53. Nolo Contesto and Joel Rosario, after breaking from post 1, were never more than 1 1/2 length back into the stretch after a rail trip, lost a bit of ground at that point, were 2 1/2 lengths back with a furlong to go and finished second by that margin.  Manhattan Up was third, just a half-length behind Nolo Contesto, Diamond Blitz fourth, beaten 10 1/2 lengths. Five ran.

Mike Smith after the race: Said Roadster was purring like a kitten, wasn't making noise like he did before the soft palate surgery. Smith said time wasn't on their side, but he didn't rule out a run to the Derby.

April 1: Mike Smith will ride Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby.

In the Santa Anita Derby on April 6, Roadster upset Game Winner, with Instagrand third and Nolo Contesto fourth. Instagrand led the field of six from the start of the race with Flavien Prat up, his initial splits timed in 23.34, 47.84 and 1:12.20. He was under pressure from Nolo Contesto, just a half-length back or less until the far turn, when that one started falling back. At about the same time, Game Winner, who had tracked the leaders into the turn, initiated his move under Joel Rosario going three wide. A stubborn Instagrand still led entering the stretch and was a half-length in front of Game Winner with an eighth of a mile left in the race, but then Game Winner took over. They were both about to be caught by Roadster. Fifth in the early going, but never more than five lengths back, he and Mike Smith began their serious running at the top of the lane and rolled by the two leaders by to secure a half-length victory. Game Winner was better than Instagrand by another 1 3/4 length. Nolo Contesto was fourth by 7 1/2 lengths in all. They were followed by Synthesis and More Ice. The final time for the mile and an eighth was 1:51.28 on a track playing slowly and deep for safety.

Bob Baffert: “They’re two good horses. Game Winner was out there by himself and when he gets by himself, he needs company. It was a good, hard race for both of them, and coming in, that’s what you want to see. This track is deep and slow, but it’s safe, and that’s what we wanted. I couldn’t be happier. We knew that Roadster needed to win or run second. It was a great finish. They were both finishing well, they were fighting; Game Winner is a fighter. It was a great stretch run. At the eighth pole, I knew I was going to win, I just didn’t know which one, but it was exciting. They’ll both like a mile and a quarter. I think Game Winner’s next race will be better. I’ve been bringing him along really easy.

“Roadster is a light horse but always shown brilliance from day one. We’re just lucky we were able to bring him back, because after Del Mar I was worried that maybe the (throat) surgery didn’t go well, because it could’ve gone worse. But I couldn’t thank the surgeon that did it enough. He’s one of the best in the business and I’ve never had issues with it. His breathing is not an issue. Today he passed the test to know he’s good enough to go to the Big Show. I left strategy up to my riders. Rosario and Mike know what it is to be at that high level. They did not have any instructions at all. They were on their own and they know their horses. They rode great races. We’re there, we’ve just got to keep them happy and healthy, enjoy the ride, the moment. It’s hard to get to this moment. What I love the best is there’s not a better feeling than there was today.

“The fans, despite what they’ve reading, they showed up, they’re here to watch good racing, they bring their family, they’ll always remember the Santa Anita Derby. It was so comforting to see all these fans here and get behind us. They know at the end of the day we love our horses. We wake up worrying about them, we go to sleep worrying about them. To me, that’s what made this a great day.”

Mike Smith:  “We knew before he and Game Winner started running that they both had ability. They were breezing by the competition like this and putting them away. We weren’t sure which one was better. The first time he ran for me, he showed he had all the gears. The second time he had the problem with his wind. We fixed that, and he’s doing all the right things. We got a good break, and then we dropped back. He took a breather, while the others were going out there quick. When I asked him again, he was gone.”

Peter Fluor, winning owner: "I thought he would've been closer to the lead frankly, but it was cool to see him run a different kind of race. He’s been running second and then accelerating. Today, I’m proud of him for coming from off the pace like that. I wasn’t too thrilled about things halfway through the race, but Mike said he’s got gears, and he showed it today. Hopefully, he comes out of it well and we can go on to the Derby. Mike did a good job keeping him relaxed, and obviously he had to make a move at the top of the stretch, and you're always waiting for a horse to make a move. He did just that, so happy ending. But, like I said, I thought we would've been closer up front. That was absolutely thrilling."

April 16 NOTE: Mike Smith will not ride Roadster in the Kentucky Derby. He chose Omaha Beach. Door was opened for Roadster's new jockey, and Florent Geroux took the call.

April 19 NOTE: Trainer Baffert said of jockey Geroux, “Every summer when I go to Kentucky, he helps me out and breezes a lot of horses for me. We’ve won races together. When he comes out here, I put him on horses. I have a good relationship with the guy. He knows Churchill really well. I wanted to go with somebody who’s very familiar with Churchill Downs, and after discussing it with the owners (Speedway Stable), we were all in agreement about Flo.”

April 20 NOTE: After Roadster and Game Winner worked today, trainer Baffert said, “I’m really happy with them. There’s always a lot of anxiety this time of year getting ready for the Derby, but so far, so good.”

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Roadster was near the back of the pack throughout and finished 16th, moved up to 15th via the disqualification of the winner, beaten 16 1/2 lengths.

Bob Baffert: “I told them that was the horse to beat (Maximum Security). I told him be thankful you didn’t lose him for $16,000 or else you’d be throwing up all over you horse right now. The field never got separated they were all right there. It was like a kids’ soccer game, they were all right there. I knew the first quarter of a mile I knew I was toast. I told my riders to stay clean, they don’t listen to me.“

Florent Geroux; “I am disappointed to be honest. He broke all right but never traveled down the stretch the first time. He started picking up horses down the backside, but when I hit the half- mile pole, I was just out of horse. I am not sure if he didn’t like the track but it felt like he never ran.”

The chart call: "Roadster was six or seven wide off the first turn, continued along extremely wide the rest of the way and was never in contention."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 30, Roadster 49:80 Handily 44/77 at SA
Feb. 10, Roadster 1:02.00 Handily 26/35 at SA
Feb. 17, Roadster 1.10:60 Handily gate 1/18 at SA
Feb. 23, Roadster 1.14:40 Handily 4/7 at SA
March 14, Roadster 1.02:60 Handily 11/30 at SA
March 19, Roadster 1.01:80 Handily 31/63 at SA
March 26, Roadster 1.14:00 Handily 4/8 at SA
March 31, Roadster 1.12:60 Handily 1/19 at SA
April 20, Roadster 1.13:60 Handily 2/11 at SA
April 26, Roadster 1.13:80 Handily 1/3 at SA

 

 

 

SPINOFF (KY)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owner: Wertheimer and Frere (Alain & Gerard Wertheimer)
Breeder: Wertheimer et Frere
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Hard Spun (Danzig, Turkish Tryst)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Zaftig (Gone West, Zoftig)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 6-10-18-0-0 (34) 2.78
Foal Date: Feb. 18, 2016


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 30 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 40 JOCKEY: Manny Franco.

Spinoff debuted on June 23 sprinting at Gulfstream Park and won. Among those he beat were Garter and Tie in third.

In his second and final start at age two, Spinoff finished third of only four runners in the August 12 Saratoga Special, beaten 2 3/4 lenggths and coming in behind Call Paul and Tight Ten. Meade was fourth. Trainer Pletcher later said Spinoff had a "little setback" that kept him away from the races the remainder of the year.

He made his 2019 debut on Feb. 22 in a mile and 40 yard allowance optional claiming race at Tampa Bay Downs. With John Velazquez aboard at 3-5 odds, Spinoff won by 11 3/4 lengths in a field of 5. Cave Run finished second. The winning time was 1:40.25. Early splits, with Spinoff never more than a length back, were 22.68 and 45.88. Spinoff was ahead after six furlongs in 1:10.97. Per the chart, Spinoff was "was bumped soon after the start, vied inside for the early lead, eased back off the pace on the backside, re bid outside of Mercusio entering the far turn, took charge at the quarter pole, responded when roused under right handed urging in upper stretch and drew away for the win."

Todd Pletcher by phone: “It looked like he was still figuring things out coming down the lane and running a little green, but what was impressive was that he finished well and had something left in the tank. This is a colt we’ve always had high hopes for, and we thought we had him fit enough to go two turns today and that it could benefit him for something bigger and better down the road. Tampa Bay Downs has worked well for us; it’s a good, safe surface, and getting two-turn experience is very important looking ahead.” The Tampa Bay Derby “probably would be bringing him back a little quicker than what’s ideal. Whatever we do next, it probably will be in a graded stakes somewhere."

John Velazquez: “He passed the other horses and got to the quarter-mile pole, and then he started waiting. Then he saw the gate (at the top of the stretch) and he went to pull up and I said ‘Aargh, come on, pay attention.' Once he passed the gate, the other horse (Cave Run) kind came to him a little bit and he went on again. So it was a good effort. I was trying to let (Mercusio) go, but he kind of slowed down around the first turn and got me in a little bit tight. So I forced him to go a little bit faster and then on the backstretch, I took back and went around him just to be in a comfortable position with my horse, and after that it was pretty easy."

March 20 NOTE: Trainer Pletcher said, “We’ve always had high hopes for him. He had a little setback after the Saratoga Special, and we felt the two-turn race at Tampa was the best starting point to the path moving forward. He was so much the best in that race. He was looking around at the starting gate and idling a bit. Johnny had to keep him to task. He’s trained like we had hoped since the Tampa race, and the timing of the Louisiana Derby is good for him. With six weeks before the Kentucky Derby, we can still run back in the Arkansas Derby, or if he runs really well on Saturday, I feel very comfortable just training him up to Louisville. War of Will has been very impressive. We are drawn outside of him (post 10), so Johnny should be able to keep tabs on where he’s at. Spinoff has a lot of natural early speed, so we expect to be forwardly placed. We’d like to save some ground, but we can be on the lead or targeting. Maybe we will be targeting War of Will, it all depends on how it plays out.”

In the Louisiana Derby on March 23, By My Standards, ridden by Gabriel Saez, crossed the finish line first. The race wasn't a carousel in the strictest sense, but the top three finishers, By My Standards, Spinoff and Sueno, were fourth, third and second, respectively, at each of the first three calls. Only pacesetter and 64-1 longshot Lemniscate, who led at each of those calls, wasn't around at the finish. The timer malfunctioned. Equibase reported hand-timed splits of 23.63, 47.68 and 1:11.54. The four early leaders were never separated by more than 3 1/2 lengths during that time. Lemniscate still led into the stretch, only to virtually stop running. Spinoff, with John Velazquez aboard, led by a length with one furlong remaining in the race but was overtaken by By My Standards late for a three-quarter length win. Sueno, with Corey Lanerie up, finished third, beaten 5 3/4 lengths. Country House was the only horse to make an impression with a late run. With Luis Saze aboard, he placed fourth, another three quarters of a length back.

John Velazquez: “We had a good trip. He was drifting away from the horses inside of me a bit, and I had to fight him to keep him with the others. Down the stretch. I thought he was home free and then the other horse came to him.”

THE NEXT DAY: Spinoff will be shipped back to Palm Beach Downs on Monday and is likely to be trained up to the Kentucky Derby, per a DRF Live post quoting trainer Pletcher.

April 7 NOTE: Trainer Pletcher said Spinoff will train up to the Kentucky Derby at Palm Beach Downs. He is due to breeze on either Thursday or Friday of this week.

April 9 NOTE: Trainer Pletcher, at Keeneland, said of Cutting Humor and Spinoff, “They are both doing well at Palm Beach Downs and they will have a couple of works there. I have not decided on shipping. We will keep an eye on the weather, but recent history shows it is not necessary to have a work over the track (at Churchill Downs before the Derby).”

April 19 NOTE: Connections told jockey Franco they wanted him to work Spinoff, so after racing at Aqueduct on Thursday he flew to Florida, worked the horse Friday morning, then flew back to New York for six mounts Friday afternoon.

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Spinoff never really got traction and finished 18th, beaten 18 lengths.

Todd Pletcher:  Spinoff was forwardly placed and Cutting Humor was following behind him. Spinoff just hated the track, though. He didn’t really want any part of it. I had a hint about that earlier in the week when he galloped on the ‘off’ and showed us he didn’t care for it. When Manny (Franco) went to riding him today, he just backed right out of there. Both colts seemed to come back fine. We’ll be back another day.”

Manny Franco: “I didn’t think my horse handled the track very well. He felt uncomfortable. From the half-mile pole, I started to ask him for run but he was struggling.”

The chart call: "Spinoff raced five wide early, moved further out around the far turn and was empty by the quarter-pole."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 11, Spinoff 38.51 Breezing 1/6 at PBD
Jan. 18, Spinoff 37.33 Breezing 1/7 at PBD
Jan. 25, Spinoff 49.91 Breezing 7/10 at PBD
Jan. 31, Spinoff 50.05 Breezing 10/16 at PBD
Feb. 6, Spinoff 1:02.42 Breezing gate 3/4at PBD
Feb. 11, Spinoff 1:00.61 Breezing 1/6 at PBD
Feb. 17, Spinoff 1:00.78 Breezing 1/7 at PBD
March 9, Spinoff 1.00:89 Breezing 5/11 at PBD
March 16, Spinoff 1.00:59 Breezing 1/4 at PBD
April 3, Spinoff 48:85 Breezing 1/6 at PBD
April 12, Spinoff 1.01:48 Breezing 3/4 at PBD
April 19, Spinoff 59:99 Breezing 3/4 at PBD
April 26, Spinoff 1.00:77 Breezing 3/6 at PBD

 

 

 

TACITUS (KY)
Trainer: Bill Mott
Owner: Juddmonte Farms, Inc. (Khalid Abdullah)
Breeder: Juddmonte Farms, Inc.
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Tapit (Pulpit, Tap Your Heels)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Close Hatches (First Defence, Rising Tornado)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 6-10-11-1-0 (28) 3.31
Foal Date: Feb. 21, 2016


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 16 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 19. JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz

His debut came at Belmont Park on Oct. 4, and he finished a good fourth to King for a Day, Felix the Fox and Kentucky Wildcat, beaten 2 1/2 lengths. There were mere heads separating the two-three-four finishers. With Jose Ortiz up, Tacitus stayed within 1 1/2 length of the lead into the stretch after going three wide on the turn, but he lost a length thereafter. Eight ran.

Tacitus broke his maiden in his second and final start of the year, a Nov. 10 one-mile maiden race at Aqueduct. The track was rated good. He got up to win by a neck over Erlich in 1:38.69 at 3/5 odds, once again ridden by Ortiz, after rating a couple of lengths behind splits of 23.45 and 46.91 set by Skyline Surprise. The third finisher, Motagally, was beaten 3 1/4 lengths. Seven ran.

Jan. 28 NOTE: On Jan. 27, trainer Mott told TDN: "I have no doubt that Hidden Scroll is a really nice horse. But I am also fortunate enough to have another really nice colt for Juddmonte, a Tapit colt named Tacitus. He’s coming back and will be ready to run pretty soon. Last November, he was our Derby hope."

In the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby, Tacitus ran up the rail to win in 1:41.90, a stakes record and just .15 second off the track record. The race unfolded with Zenden and Samy Camacho zipping from the outside post 11 and setting fractions of 22.79 and 45.85, with Sam F. Davis Stakes winner Well Defined and Pablo Morales in closest pursuit, just a length back. Outshine, ridden by Joel Rosario, was in third, 4 1/2 lengths off the pace after a half-mile. After six furlongs in 1:09.57, the same two still led the field, but Outshine was bearing down on them. Meanwhile, Tacitus and Jose Ortiz were in seventh place, eight lengths back. In the lane, Zenden still led by 1 1/2 length after Well Defined retreated. Outshine looked like a winner as he was grinding down Zenden, but Tacitus, ridden by Jose Ortiz, had mounted a rally throughout the stretch and ran past on the inside to prevail over Outshine by 1 1/4 length. The 7-5 favorite Win Win Win, who was threatening in upper stretch under Irad Ortiz, Jr., settled for third, beaten 2 1/2 lengths. Zenden held on for fourth, another half-length back, at 19-1 odds.

Bill Mott: “We’ve always liked this horse and thought he could be a horse that would be on the Derby trail. I liked him a lot better today at the 3/8 pole than I did at the 5/8 pole, because it looked like when he was trying to get between horses, I couldn’t tell if he was maybe fighting with the racetrack. He was climbing a little bit but once he got through between those horses, he really got some confidence and got some momentum. Jose said he actually finished with something left. He got to the lead and maybe started to dog it a little bit, but I thought it was a very good race and a very good education for him.”

Jose Ortiz: “He broke very well and gave me a lot of choices by the first turn. When the 9 horse (Dunph) went out, I decided to go in and follow the 1 (Admire) because I thought he had a good chance to win. I took a lot (of dirt), but the dirt doesn’t stick as much here as some other tracks, so I think it was good for my horse. He’s a little green still but we got a rail trip and it opened up for us. He’s a big horse and when he made the lead, he didn’t keep going; he kind of waited a little bit. He does everything so easy and I don’t know if he’s given me 100 percent yet – I don’t think so.”

March 10 NOTE: Trainer Mott said, “He’s run in New York, so it’s very possible we could go there. He stepped up to the plate, and it looked like he has moved forward from his 2-year-old year. He has certainly matured and is going in the right direction. The stakes record was a good thing, and I think Tampa was a good place for him to get a race in. It’s a good, safe racetrack and that should be a good conditioner for him. We really didn’t know what we had until we got into September and started putting a little more pressure on him and asking him, and I said, well, we’ve got to find out, let’s ask him the question, and he started to respond. The tougher the training got, the better he got. Then we got two races in him and got a win out of him in the fall, and for the size of horse he is and the type of horse he is, I thought it was a big accomplishment to get that completed that early in the season. This horse is a big, tough horse, and if we had to, we could run him twice more (before the Kentucky Derby), but with this win under his belt, maybe that won’t be necessary. We’ll keep all the options open."

In the Wood Memorial on April 6, Tacitus overcame early bumping and clipping of his rear heels to win from off the pace. Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Tacitus finished the 1 1/8 mile in 1:51.23 after after laying six to eight lengths off contested early fractions of 23.62, 46.91 and 1:11.46 set by Joeiva, then Not That Brady.  Joeivia sprinted to the front when, after breaking from the outside post 11 under Nik Juarez, he accordioned several horses to his inside upon veering in extremely sharply. He and Not That Brady were seven lengths ahead of the runners next in line halfway down the backstretch. At that point, Tax, ridden by Junior Alvarado, and Tacitus were in third and fourth positions. Entering the far turn, the lead built by the early leaders was evaporating as Tax and Tacitus closed in. In the lane, Tacitus, on the outside, was shoulder to shoulder with Tax. Inside the furlong marker, Tacitus came in a bit, leading Tax to do the same, and Tacitus finished best by 1 1/4 length. It was another 2 3/4 lengths back to the belatedly closing Haikal, who was eighth in the early going with Ravij Maragh aboard. Longshot Math Wizard, ninth after the first half-mile, finished a half-length back of Haikal in fourth at odds of 64-1 under Eric Cancel.

Bill Mott: "I thought it was a very good effort. It was very rough on the first turn, but fortunately he came out of it in good order. When he got down the backside, I thought he had a nice, clear run by himself. He kind of got his feet back under him and regrouped a little bit. When it was time to run he started to wear them down. It's not a surprise, but you always hope they show up. He's a young horse and you never know what's going to happen in any race. Some horses would have been discouraged with what happened on the first turn. They could have backed out of it or decide they didn't want any part of it after getting roughed up like that. He does take after his dam. She was ready from the word 'go'. She was one that was very aggressive and very fast. He's a little different type of horse. She was good up to a mile, a mile and an eighth. This horse, with the Tapit genes, seems like he's willing to go on, but he also seems to have enough speed to get him up and involved early in a race. He's certainly not a speed horse, but he has tactical speed and we know he's got talent and we know he's willing to overcome a little adversity.

"He'll probably stay here for another week and then go to Churchill Downs. I think the race sets him up well. I think the timing is fine. I think we've got a month to go back to the Derby. He's had two races, and a lot of handicappers think the third race off the bench is the best, so I hope that group of handicappers is absolutely right. I think this effort puts him at or near the top of the list."

Jose Ortiz: "I was pleased with his effort. I don't know about the other horses behind me, it was kind of crazy around the first turn. After that, he got a little bumped and he's a big horse. He managed to take that and go on and win the race. A mile and a quarter will suit him. The mile and an eighth didn't bother him, so I think going a little bit longer can be good too."

Garrett O'Rourke, Racing Manager: "We've been there five times now and came out of them all with our tail between our legs. We had two good runs, a huge disappointment with Empire Maker (second in 2003), because he was the horse that I felt was the best horse in the field and should have won. But it's not easy and we know that, so were going to go into it again knowing that it's not easy. We have a legitimate contender now that's bred to be a Derby horse and he's now proving that, hopefully, he is up to that standard."

THE NEXT DAY: Assitant trainer Leana Willaford said, "He came out of it very well/ He was a little tired, but that's to be expected. It's nice to see him overcome. He'll go back to the track here in three days, and we'll train him lightly and send him over there when Bill gets to Churchill. He's changed a lot from July. Then to not see him over the course of the winter, he's matured a ton. He's definitely filling out. He still has some more growing to do, he's only three. He's a big old horse."

April 15 NOTE: Jose Ortiz will stay with Tacitus in the Kentucky Derby and jump off Improbable. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride Improbable.

April 18 NOTE: Jockey Ortiz said, “I have been with him all along. He was green his first two races; Tampa Bay was OK and the Wood was OK. I think he will be better next time.”

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security was much the best but was disqualified and placed 17th by stewards. He won by 1 3/4 length in a time of 2:03.93 on a sloppy-sealed track. Country House was elevated to first. He was followed by Code of Honor, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Maximum Security and three-quarters of a length by Country House. Tacitus was elevated to third, beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Maximum Security and 1 1/2 length by Country House. Improbable, who finished fifth, a head behind Tacitus, was moved up to fourth.

Bill Mott: I was second and fourth, and I’m proud of my horses. My horses ran well. I’m pleased. It took Tacitus a little while to get on track but he came flying at the end.”

Jose Ortiz: “My horse ran a huge race. We were a little unlucky since the pace didn’t collapse. Those were good horses in the lead. Country House ran a huge race, too. My horse was digging in late. I had no excuse. In the Belmont, he will be much better running 1 1/2 miles.”

The chart says, "Tacitus steadied while unsettled behind horses first time through the stretch, found a better rhythm through the middle stages, came five wide off the far turn, exchanged brushes with GAME WINNER late and finished with good courage."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 6, Tacitus 38.60 Breezing 8/12 at PAY
Jan. 13, Tacitus 36.60 Breezing 1/2 at PAY
Jan. 21, Tacitus 50.20 Breezing 6/23 at PAY
Jan. 29, Tacitus 1.03:40 Breezing 6/12 at PAY
Feb. 9, Tacitus 49:40 Breezing 3/24 at PAY
Feb. 15, Tacitus 50:00 Breezing 10/26 at PAY
Feb. 22, Tacitus 1:01 Breezing 2/3 at PAY
March 3, Tacitus 49:60 Breezing 14/32 at PAY
March 22, Tacitus 49:00 Breezing 2/39 at PAY
March 31, Tacitus 49:80 Breezing 11/31 at PAY
April 22, Tacitus 50:00 Breezing 50/79 at CD
April 28, Tacitus 1.00:00 Breezing 4/25 at CD

 

 

 

 

TAX (KY)
Trainer: Danny Gargan
Owner: R. A. Hill Stable (Randy Hill), Reeves Thoroughbred Racing (Dean & Patti Reeves), Hugh Lynch & Corms Racing Stable (Lucas Stritsman)
Breeder: Claiborne Farm & Adele B. Dilschneider
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Arch (Kris S, Aurora)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Toll (Giant's Causeway, Yell)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 3-5-23-1-0 (32) 1.56
Foal Date: April 20, 2016

A gelding.


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 29 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 39. JOCKEY: Junior Alvarado.

On Oct. 21 at Keeneland, Tax broke his maiden in his second start, running for $50,000 in a claiming race, winning at 1 1/16 mile by 2-1 odds by two lengths under Brian Hernandez, Jr.  Seven ran. The time was 1:45. 25. In the early going, Tax attended the pace set by Clipboard Money, a couple of lengths behind 23.96, 48.16 and 1:12.57. That one stayed on to finish second. Tax was claimed by Hugh Lynch.

In Aqueduct's Dec. 1 Remsen Stakes at 1 1/8 mile, 7-5 second choice Maximus Mischief won by 2 1/4 lengths under Frankie Pennington with Network Effect taking second with a late effort. After breaking sharply, Maximus Mischief dueled outside Gladiator King through a quarter-mile in 25.12, then gained an edge over that one while fending off Tax from his outside, posting a half-mile mark of 50.67. Tax was still there coming out of the final turn afterf six furlongs in 1:14.60, but Maximus Mischief responded to Pennington's left-handed encouragement and opened up his lead before hitting the furlong marker in 1:38.48 and the wire in a final time of 1:51.34. Network Effect was second by a half-length over Tax. The fourth-place finisher, another 6 1/4 lengths back, was Bourbon War, who was last but only four lengths off the pace after the first half-mile. More than 10 lengths further in arrears were Jungle Warrior, Gladiator King and Chinomado, in that order.

Jan. 16 NOTE: Assistant trainer Rolando Quevedo reportedly told trainer Gargan, "This is the best work he has ever had. He’s getting better and better and stronger.” This was reported at DRF.com. Quevedo was aboard for the workout.

Jan. 24 NOTE: "He's a well-bred horse and bred to run long. He'd only run the one race going short (before we claimed him), and I didn't expect him to be a sprinter. He's a big, strong horse. On replays, he looked like a good mover, so we took a shot on him. When we claimed him, we thought he would be a real good grass horse, but when we started working him on the dirt, he worked really well. So, we decided to give him a shot in the Remsen (when he finished third to Maximus Mischief). The effort is a little better than it looks because we went after the winner. We tried to win the race, and if we would have tried to be second, we could have been second. On the turn, we went after the horse that was in front. That was our game plan, to see if we could eyeball him and beat him. Obviously, he's a really nice horse and a little more seasoned than our horse. We were aggressive, and I like being aggressive in a race. We might work him again on Friday, depending on the weather, if not, he'll go Saturday. I think he got a lot out of his last race, and he's doing really well right now."

Jan. 31 NOTE: Trainer Gargan said, "He's bred to run all day, he's a well-bred horse. Last time, we kind of chased the pace a little bit. This time, there should be enough pace in the race where we'll be able to sit off of it. Hopefully, we finish a little better. If we can get an effort like last time, we think we'll be all right."

In the 1 1/8-mile Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 2, Tax was the 2-1 morning line and 2-1 post-time favorite after some late money came in on him. He wasn't part of the early pace after stumbling at the start, but he got the best of it late after coming up the rail following a somewhat troubled trip under Junior Alavarado to narrowly win in a time of 1:50.27. Not That Brady, who was always prominent and on the lead for over six furlongs while ridden by Reylu Gutierriz, finished a game second, holding off a surging Our Braintrust, who was never worse than third and appeared to hang a bit in deep stretch despite urging from Jose Lezcano. Tax's winning margin over Not That Brady was a head, and he was a neck better than Our Braintrust. Sir Winston came from last of seven to finish fourth, beaten five lengths.

Danny Gargan: "He ran really good today. I think down the backside, he got a really good education. Junior said he was really impressed with him. He said he kind of got stuck down in there and clipped heels a couple of times. I'm happy with the fact that he learned and got in there and got an education. We're going to get into bigger fields as this goes down the road further. As far as our next spot, we'll look at the Tampa Bay Derby, also the Jeff Ruby at Turfway Park. Somewhere like that, a two-turn race. I don't want to back him up, the Gotham is a one-turn mile and I think that's a sprinter's race. So, we'll probably come out of this race and go somewhere like that and probably come back here for the Wood. He's definitely going to run between now and the last prep so I can get three races in if we get lucky enough to get to the Derby."

Junior Alvarado: "I was hoping the hole would open up, and I got lucky and got through. He responded right away when we got the space, it was just enough for him. When we got to the lead at the sixteenth pole he started waiting again for the horses. He's a big guy, but mentally he's not 100 percent in the game yet. He's still learning and today was a great learning experience for him. We had the inside post and he stumbled out of the gate a little bit. I had to help him get into a good position. It wasn't going as smooth as I wanted it to, but he's such a nice horse that he overcame all that. He wouldn't have any problem going a mile and a quarter. The company will definitely be tougher, he'll have to step up his game, but I think he still has more there."

The very comprehensive chart for the top three runners says, "Tax stumbled at the start and came under coaxing to be forwardly placed along the inside through the first turn and into the backstretch, tracked in the loose pocket patiently handled until placed to coaxing three furlongs from home, spun just off the inside into upper stretch, got forced to be taken in hand and paused at the three-sixteenths when placed in tight inside as Not That Brady drifted in, had that rival be corrected outwards and rallied up the inside to take narrow command a furlong out, dug in under threat from a pair through to the finish and repelled the duo gamely on the wire. Not That Brady broke  out at the start and came under coaxing in correction to be forwardly placed,  got  floated five wide into the opening bend by Our Braintrust, ranged up four then three wide through the first turn to seize command with seven furlongs to run tucking to the two path at that station, showed the way through moderate splits in hand just off the inside down the backstretch before tucking along the inside into the far turn, came under coaxing  at  the  five-sixteenths,  spun  just  off  the  inside  for  home  under  growing  threat,  drifted  in  forcing  Tax  to  be  taken  in  hand  in  tight  at  the three-sixteenths under threat from flanking challengers, got corrected and came out bumping Our Braintrust inside that station and was displaced from command, dug in trading leans with Our Braintrust under a near sided stick as that rival got directed under an off sided stick while latched on the leader through to the finish fighting on between foes but was ultimately rebuffed to the end. Our Braintrust broke on top and yielded command nearing the first turn while four wide into that bend floating Not That Brady five wide, had that rival clear outside and tucked three wide midway settling three wide in aim of the front, tucked to the two path half a mile from home, came under coaxing at the three-eighths, swung three to four wide into upper stretch, rallied the outermost of a trio latched on at the three-sixteenths, got bumped by Not That Brady just inside that station, dug in battling on to the finish trading leans under an off sided stick as Not That Brady employed a near sided stick but could not get by the top pair while clear of the rest."

April 3 NOTE: Trainer Gargan said, "He's training tremendous; he looks good. We're just hoping we get a clean trip. He's a nice horse and we're just hoping we can run top-three, so we can go to the Derby. He's a warrior. You have to get lucky and get a horse who wants to win as much as you want to win, and that's the kind of horse he is. He wants to win. He wants to run competitive, and he trains like that. He's real competitive in the mornings, so we just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope for good things going forward because the big goal is to be lucky enough to run him in the Derby. Junior has a lot of insight into him. If it's working well, why change it? When a rider has confidence like that, it can only help."

In the Wood Memorial on April 6, Tacitus overcame early bumping and clipping of his rear heels to win from off the pace. Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Tacitus finished the 1 1/8 mile in 1:51.23 after after laying six to eight lengths off contested early fractions of 23.62, 46.91 and 1:11.46 set by Joeiva, then Not That Brady.  Joeivia sprinted to the front when, after breaking from the outside post 11 under Nik Juarez, he accordioned several horses to his inside upon veering in extremely sharply. He and Not That Brady were seven lengths ahead of the runners next in line halfway down the backstretch. At that point, Tax, ridden by Junior Alvarado, and Tacitus were in third and fourth positions. Entering the far turn, the lead built by the early leaders was evaporating as Tax and Tacitus closed in. In the lane, Tacitus, on the outside, was shoulder to shoulder with Tax. Inside the furlong marker, Tacitus came in a bit, leading Tax to do the same, and Tacitus finished best by 1 1/4 length. It was another 2 3/4 lengths back to the belatedly closing Haikal, who was eighth in the early going with Ravij Maragh aboard. Longshot Math Wizard, ninth after the first half-mile, finished a half-length back of Haikal in fourth at odds of 64-1 under Eric Cancel.

Danny Gargan: "He ran huge. The horses laying up close all day have been running really well. I told Junior, let's just break out of there and get a good position. I didn't want to take back. Let's make them run into the first turn and make your move turning for home. If we get run down, it's okay. I don't mind running second today, I just wanted to make sure we got enough Derby points to get in. We might have moved a little early today, but we get to go to Louisville, Kentucky now."

Junior Alvarado: "I had a great trip. I knew that Not That Brady had speed and he likes to fight. I was second guessing myself by the three-eighths pole if I should go and attack him, so he doesn't get brave on the lead. At the same time, I wanted to wait a little longer because I know they were rolling up front. It was a decision I had to make, but if I had it to do again I would have waited a little longer to have a better kick at the end. But that's horse racing. He gave me everything turning for home and he never quit."

THE NEXT DAY: Trainer Gargan said, "Everything was good this morning. I thought he ran a tremendous race and can move forward off that effort. His last three races, he's improved tremendously. He learned a lot in the Remsen, and then he moved forward in the Withers. We gave him almost nine weeks between those races, and yesterday, he showed up. He got a little tired and got pushed down on the rail late, which was a little dead. But it was his first race in a while. I think we're set to move forward off this now. The goal all along was the Derby. That's why we passed on the Gotham.  It was a risk to only run twice because with these point systems, you have to run well every time if you aren't running. We were lucky enough to win one prep and do well in another. To pass on a race in between, it was a gamble, but it's going to pay off in the long run. He breaks good out of the gate. If he breaks good, he can sit forwardly placed. He can also sit in the middle of the pack, he's a cool horse that way. If everything goes as planned and we get to the Derby, we have a chance. His numbers line him up with anyone. As of now, there doesn't seem to be any Justify in there or any monsters. No one has really been better than anyone else yet. So, we're just hoping to get blessed and get a good trip."

April 10 NOTE: Trainer Gargan said at Keeneland, where he has a string of horses stabled, “He is an exciting horse, and he came out of the Wood great. He would not come here. He would go straight to Churchill, and I haven’t decided whether he’ll have one or two works. I will keep him in New York (for now), but I have some horses to ship next week, and I will work that out in the next few days.”

April 26 NOTE: Jockey Alvarado said of yesterday's workout, "I thought it was great and I loved the way he started; it's really important when you're getting ready to ride a mile-and-a-quarter race that your horse can be in the bridle but won't try and run off. Coming down the lane, he has such a beautiful, long stride. I was paying attention to his gallop out and it was outstanding. He showed me everything I wanted to see. He did it nice and strong, pretty much on his own. He's a great gate horse. Even when he won with me, he stumbled and still had the ability to be near the lead. It helps. When you go to a 20-horse field, having a horse who can break out of there and get you to a good position helps. It's very important, and that's something that he's done with me. It doesn't matter what part of the race, when you need him to make a move, he's always there for you. It's always quick. He's not a plodding horse who takes time to get going. He's pretty much a push-button horse. If you need to make a little move to get in a better spot, I know he'll be there for me."

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Tax was never better than ninth and finished 15th, moved up to 14th via the disqualification of the winner, beaten 15 lengths.

Danny Gargan: Had no comment

Junior Alvarado: “My horse was bothered by the splash in his face. He was not happy about that. He kept trying but he was focused on the mud being kicked in his face.”

The chart call: "Tax saved ground throughout and was no factor."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 7, Tax 48:77 Breezing training track11/86 at BEL
Jan. 16, Tax 49:23 Breezing training track 11/35 at BEL
Jan. 25, Tax 50:00 Breezing training track 21/51 at BEL
Feb. 23, Tax 51:24 Breezing training track 107/132 at BEL
March 1, Tax 48:40 Breezing training track 16/84 at BEL
March 9, Tax 59:60 Breezing training track 2/23 at BEL
March 16, Tax 49:60 Breezing training track 85/110 at BEL
March 28, Tax 47:80 Breezing training track 3/31 at BEL
April 25, Tax 47:80 Breezing training track 1/49 at BEL

 

 

 


VEKOMA (KY)
Trainer: George Weaver
Owner: R. A. Hill Stable (Randy Hill) & Gatsas Stable (Mike Gatsas)
Breeder: Alpha Delta Stables, LLC
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Candy Ride (ARG), Ride the Rails, Candy Girl (ARG))
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Mona de Momma (Speightstown, Society Gal)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 4-4-7-1-0 (16) 2.56
Foal Date: May 22, 2016

$135,000 Keeneland September 2019.

Same name as a roller coaster manufacturer

KENTUCKY DERBY: April 30 arrival at Churchill Downs. Barn 41. JOCKEY: Javier Castellano

He won at first asking sprinting at Belmont Park.

Vekoma was sent straight into stakes company and responded by winning the one-mile Nashua Stakes the day after Breeders' Cup, running greenly and on the wrong lead in the stretch.

George Weaver after the race: “He still has some maturing to do.”

Dec 28 NOTE: Vekoma is reportedly set to resume training very soon at Palm Beach Downs after a 30-day break, with his 3-year-old debut date still up in the air.

Feb. 26 NOTE: Co-owner Hill told BloodHorse in a story posted Feb. 20, "People have stopped talking about Vekoma because he hasn't raced in a bit and I understand that. I told George let's go in the Fountain of Youth and we'll see what we got. I don't think anyone will beat us at that distance. Vekoma is doing great. He could not be doing better. He looks like a billion dollars. He's a young horse, but he's like a gorilla right now. I don't want to sound pompous, but I'm not afraid of anyone's horse. I'm a little afraid of (Hidden Scroll), but I know I have the real deal. This is the first time I've had a horse like him. The distance is the question mark, but George believes he'll handle it. I love Tax, but he will have to step up. If Tax was running against Vekoma, I'd bet the ranch on Vekoma."

Feb. 27 NOTE: Trainer Weaver said, “This looks like a contentious race with some good horses in there. I guess we’re going to find out where we stand. We’ve had a little time off, now we’re ready to get back in action. We have to ask him the question. It’s that time of year. He’s a very talented horse, and we need to find out whether we’ll be headed to the Derby. He’s a good colt. If he can get a mile and a sixteenth, we’ll take on a mile and an eighth and see how he does that.”

In the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 2, Code of Honor and John Velazquez bided their time in fifth place early on, some eight lengths off the pace, but blew by pacesetter Hidden Scroll at the top of the stretch and took it on home to win in 1:43.85, prevailing by 3/4 length. Hidden Scroll, ridden by Joel Rosario, led through fast fractions of 22.80, 45.69 and 1:10.42, and it turned out to be too much for him, although he did hang on to finish fourth. Bourbon War, who was seventh, 10 lengths off the pace after the first half-mile, finished second with a monster late run while guided outside by Irad Oritz, Jr. Vekoma, with Manny Franco up, finished third by 2 3/4 lengths after being in fourth position early, challenging Hidden Scroll leaving the far turn and then narrowly outrunning that one to the wire. Hidden Scroll, fourth, was beaten three lengths. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to fifth finisher Global Campaign.

March 3 NOTE: Vekoma is doing well today, and connections are leaving all their next-race options open, with trainer Weaver telling DRF Live, "We want to give him his best chance to get to the Derby."

March 22 NOTE: Trainer Weaver said, "Right now we've got three options on the table. We're looking at the Florida Derb, the Wood, and the Blue Grass. We thought he ran well in his comeback race. I thought it was a solid effort, and he's been training forwardly since then. He was a May 22 foal, so he's really been starting to fill out and you can see the maturity he's gained over the winter and he's continuing to grow."

March 24 NOTE: Vekoma will start next in the Toyota Blue Grass with Javier Castellano named to ride.

April 3 NOTE: Trainer Weaver said, “I’d rather be down on the inside than outside. He’s got enough tactical speed so the 2 post should work well for us. We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do. The horse is training real well. I’m here in my home state. I’d love to get it done for everybody.”

In the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 6, Vekoma won, Win Win Win was second, Signalman was third and Somelikeithotbrown finished fourth. Somelikeithotbrown led through fractions of 23.26, 47.03, 1:11.55 under Tyler Gaffalione, with Vekoma and Javier Castellano hounding him every step of the way in the clear from the outside. Coming out of the second turn, Vekoma passed a tiring Somelikeithotbrown and led by 3 1/2 lengths with an eighth of a mile left in the race. He kept on running to win by that margin in a time of 1:50.93.  Signalman and Brian Hernandez, Jr, who were close by in fourth or fifth while saving ground throughout the early stages of the race, advanced to third entering the far turn and got by Somelikeithotbrown inside the furlong marker to be second between calls. Win Win Win, ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., was in 11th place, 7 1/4 lengths off the pace after the first half-mile, and he was back in fifth at the furlong marker. He advanced on the tiring Signalman and nosed him out for second. Somelikeithotbrown finished fourth, beaten 4 1/4 lengths.

George Weaver (winning trainer of Vekoma): “The last start (third in the Fountain of Youth), there was a pretty fast pace, and I told Manny to be conservative the first half-mile. I talked to Javier before this race, and told him I wasn’t so worried about that. I wanted to know if he can go the distance. He’s got great tactical speed, put him in a spot going into the first turn and just ride him natural. He’s so talented, and he’s done things in the morning. I’ve really never had a colt like this in all the time I’ve trained. Nothing would surprise me.  If he comes out of it well, we’ll go to Louisville and see what happens.

"I’m pretty tore up. I’m excited. I grew up in Kentucky and came to the Bluegrass when I was a kid, every year. Winning this race is very special.”

Javier Castellano (rider of Vekoma): “I like the way he broke out of the gate. In the first turn, I realized I didn’t want to dictate the pace. I tried to ride a smart race. I didn’t want to be too aggressive early; you have to save something for the end. So we tracked it. I liked the way he rated the first quarter mile, and I liked the way he finished. Every time I asked him, he kicked on a little bit.

“I’ve been learning about the horse. I’ve been watching his races. I really fell in love with the horse last week when I worked the horse.  I was very optimistic about winning the race today.”

THE NEXT DAY: Trainer Weaver said, “We were excited with (Tencendur) coming into the race off a second place in the Wood Memorial. But they are two different horses. Tencendur was more of a stayer, and this horse has a lot of gears. Vekoma is going to walk the next three days, and then we will come up with a plan."

April 9 NOTE: Vekoma was set to be on a Tex Sutton charter flight this afternoon to return to Palm Beach Downs.

April 12 NOTE: Trainer Weaver said, "He's grown up and developed some. He's a May 22 foal, so he's a later foal. Technically, he's not even three yet. He's done well in his development. He broke his maiden at Belmont and he won the Nashua at Aqueduct. We gave him a break after that and we'll look forward to getting him back to New York when we're done with the Derby and maybe the Preakness. He's always shown a decent amount of talent. He's always acted like he was going to be a nice horse from the beginning. There's so many things that go into reaching the level he's reached so far. You have to get lucky, they have to stay sound and we're fortunate the way things have gone. On a talent level, he's always acted like he had some.

"(Paddling his left foreleg is) just the way he goes. He's always moved like that. I guess you would think it's less than ideal action, but he's always been a real sound horse and he covers a lot of ground. That's just the way he runs. You wouldn't know it watching him walk. Perhaps he just moves that way out of his shoulders. There has been a lot of talk about it, but I'd rather have a horse that moves like him, and can run like him, than a horse that moves perfectly but can't run. He came out of the Blue Grass in good shape. The horse just shipped back down to Palm Beach Downs. He'll work twice here and then ship back up for the Derby. That's what won us the Blue Grass and we want to stick with the program. He's acclimated to this track and has done well over this track in South Florida."

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Vekoma was no worse than sixth for six furlongs but finished 13th, moved up to 12th via the disqualification of the winner, beaten 14 3/4 lengths.

George Weaver: “At least he came back in one piece. He might have gotten into a little trouble on the turn, but he was starting to back up anyway at that point. I don’t know if he liked the track. It’s a crazy day. He’s a great colt and we’ll get him back over here when he’s right.”

Javier Castellano: “It just wasn’t his day today.”

The chart call: "Vekoma stayed close four wide through the opening half-mile, and began to fade steadily after six furlongs."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 12, Vekoma 38:51 Breezing 1/3 at PMM
Jan. 19, Vekoma 49:87 Breezing 12/21 at PBD
Jan. 29, Vekoma 51:16 Breezing 16/19 at PBD
Feb. 10, Vekoma 1.02:47 Breezing 3/3 at PBD
Feb. 16, Vekoma 1.00:73 Breezing 3/6 at PBD
Feb. 23, Vekoma 59:87 Breezing 1/6 at PBD
March 15, Vekoma 49.76 Breezing 7/18 at PBD
March 23, Vekoma 1.02:82 Breezing 10/14 at PBD
March 30, Vekoma 1.00:56 Breezing 3/10 at PBD
April 18, Vekoma 50:20 Breezing 5/7 at PBD
April 26, Vekoma 59:95 Breezing 1/6 at PBD


 

 

 

WAR OF WILL (KY)
Trainer: Mark E. Casse
Owner: Gary Barber
Breeder: Flaxman Holdings Limited
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): War Front (Danzig, Starry Dreamer)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Visions of Clarity (Sadler's Wells, Imperfect Circle)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 5-8-17-4-0 (34) 1.72
Foal Date: April 17, 2016

$175,000 Keeneland September 2017
$298,550 Arqana May 2018
His dam is a half-sibling to multiple grade I winner Spinning World

KENTUCKY DERBY: Arrvial at Churchill Downs April 23. Barn 36. JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione.

War of Will didn't win in his first four starts, but he was competitive in stakes company.

After finishing third in a Woodbine maiden special weight, on Sept. 15 he finished second to by less than a length to Fog of War after having a stretch lead in the Grade I Summer Stakes.

He was shipped to Kentucky, and on Oct. 7 he ran fourth in the Dixiana Bourbon Stakes won by Current, with Henley's Joy and Salvator Mundi getting second and third.

He finished fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf as a maiden.

Then, on Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs, he broke his maiden in his fifth start going 1 1/16 mile on a sloppy sealed track under Tyler Gaffalione. Eleven ran. His time was 1:45.45. He engaged in a stalking trip and cleared the field going away by five lengths under a hand ride. The chart says he "stalked the pace early, shifted into the three path in the far turn then drew off down the lane while ridden out to the wire."

Jan. 16 NOTE: Trainer Casse said, “He’s a horse that we loved as soon as my brother (Justin Casse) bought him. Our assistant Jamie Begg had him for about two weeks at Belmont and said that he was special. We kind of rushed him into his maiden race and I thought he would have a good chance to win the Summer Stakes. Finally, in the Breeders’ Cup, he had a really wide trip so he ran an exceptionally well fifth considering the hand that was dealt to him. Early on, we felt like he needed to stay on grass, but he trains as good as a horse can train on the dirt. I personally don’t think he could’ve won any more impressive and it was a solid field. He ran ten one hundredths of a second slower than the Kentucky Jockey Club. Tyler geared him down in the last sixteenth, so no doubt he could’ve run faster than the Kentucky Jockey Club. All that said, we like our chances. Weather could play a factor (in the LeComte) even though I think a little moisture in the track won’t hurt our feelings. This is a heck of a race, it’s going to be a trip. It’s a mile and 70 yards with a big field and quick run to the first turn. You’re going to need luck, and it can’t be bad.”

Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, 8-5 favorite War of Will stalked, pounced and drew off to win the LeComte Stakes on Jan. 19 going a mile and 70 yards at Fair Grounds in a field of 12. He got home in a time of 1:43.44 on a track rated fast, which is 1.9 second faster than Needs Supervision won the Silverbulletday one race prior. Hog Creek Hustle closed from eighth, four or five lengths off the early pace, to finish second. Third was Manny Wah, who was hustled from the far outside post by Channing Hill to grab the lead while dueling with Maplpais going up the backstretch, the half-mile going in 49.22. Manny Wah easily shook off Malpais in the far turn but was immediately engaged by the three-wide War of Will, who was never more than 1 1/2 length off the pace. War of Will hit the six-furlong mark barely in front in 1:14.63. In the stretch, War of Will got away from Manny Wah, and Hog Creek Hustle came by too. War of Will beat that one by four lengths going away, with Manny Wah another two lengths back in third. Wicked Indeed finished fourth, beaten 6 1/2 lengths, and a head in front of Plus Que Parfait, who was a neck in  front of Chase the Ghost.

Mark Casse: “This was about a month ago, but I had some friends over and I said ‘We have a big chance to win the Derby this year.' I don’t usually say things like that, so that tells you what I think of him. I’ll talk to Gary, but (the Risen Star Stakes) would make the most sense, it’s why we’re here. We love this place, and it’s a great place to get a horse ready. I don’t know that there would be a real reason to leave.”

Tyler Gaffalione: “My horse broke sharp. It looked like (Manny Wah) had a little more speed going into the turn, and I took him back and went to his outside to try and get the best trip possible. He relaxed for me on the backside and when they came down to run, he really turned it on.”

Jan. 21 NOTE: Trainer Casse told DRF.com on Jan. 20: “He acts like he didn’t even really run. What I didn’t notice right away was his gallop-out yesterday, which was really strong. He ran to his works and his gallops. He’s an impressive horse to watch train.”

Jan. 24 NOTE: Trainer Casse said, "He's doing extremely well. I can't say enough great things about him, and I think he's an absolute superstar. I think he's a better dirt horse, although with a better trip in the Breeders' Cup, he could have been a Breeders' Cup winner. But it was probably a blessing because had he won the Breeders' Cup, it would have been much tougher to try him on the dirt. Sometimes things happen for a reason."

Feb. 10 NOTE: Trainer Casse said on Feb. 9, “I don’t think that he could have worked any better, so that was good. It’s pretty well the same bunch that he’ll be up against (in the Risen Star). Obviously the post is outside, but we’d rather be out there than inside. He’s got enough speed so he’ll get over and if he’s as good as we think he is, it shouldn’t matter.”

Feb. 14 NOTE: Bloodstock agent Justin Casse, brother of trainer Casse, said “I always call Gary (Barber) when I find something that I like. I didn’t really run it by Mark because he trusts me, so I called Gary because one of the first horses I bought for him was Jack Milton, who also was by War Front. I bought him two other stakes horses by War Front, so he knew that the sire worked. I called him only 30 minutes before he went through the ring. Told him he’d be reasonably priced. He breezed well at the sale, he was a good mover, had a good turn of foot and speed for his size. The rest is history, Gary got him. He didn’t look like a dirt horse, but he didn’t strike you as one that’s all turf either. He was just a real good looking horse, but I didn’t really classify him as one or the other. In pedigree, he’s instantly classified as turf because of who a lot of his relatives are, but if you look deeper into his pedigree he’s related to horses like Tacticus and Aldebaran. The horse that beat him in the Summer is debatably the best now 3-year-old turf male, Fog of War. To run second to him in only his second start in a Grade I spoke volumes for him. Obviously everyone was buzzing about how he worked on the dirt. With horses that I buy, I feel like I own a piece of them because I get really excited and get really into it. I feel like they’re my own to a certain extent, and to be there with my brother, family and girlfriend would be special too. Trying to take it one step at a time and appreciate having such a nice horse. It’s hard to not get caught up thinking about the Derby and it’s fun to daydream. There are too many things that can happen between today and tomorrow.”

In the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 16, War of Will won, Country House was second, longshot Roiland third and Hog Creek Hustle fourth. War of Will broke well from post 13 and pursued front-runner Gun It -- who broke from post 14 -- and Dunph leaving the first turn, and the first quarter-mile run in 23.71. Up the backstretch, Gun It continued to lead the way, with War of Will in closest pursuit, followed by Dunph, Mr. Money and 10 others and the half-mile  gone in 47.36. Far back of those four were Country House, Roiland and Hog Creek Hustle. Into the far turn, War of Will took charge and led with six furlongs timed in 1:12.20 with Gun It, Mr. Money and Dunph about to fall away. War of Will opened a clear lead in the stretch. Country House, ridden by Luis Saez, came on strong to finish 2 1/4 lengths back of the winner after being in 11th position, almost 10 lengths off the lead, after the first half-mile and ninth on the far turn. Roiland, third by a total of 3 3/4 lengths under James Graham, was able to accomplish that at 69-1 odds when he came from dead last, 16 1/2 lengths off the pace, at the second call. Hog Creek Hustle ran his second straight credible two-turn race to come fourth, 2 1/4 lengths behind Roiland. He was 13th after the first half-mile.

Mark Casse: “For a big horse, he has tremendous speed. He had to hit the gas a little to get over, so that got him a little riled up. It’s like hitting the gas and trying to hit stop. They’re not as easy to stop as a car. He got him rolling and probably made the lead a little earlier than we would have liked. He’s done this a few times early on. When he gets the lead, he starts wandering. If he keeps winning there will be some big targets for him to chase. As long as he’s happy and healthy, that’s where we’ll go and then we’ll talk about it from there I think (Fair Grounds) is a wonderful place to get a horse ready for the classics. We have right now four or five Derby horses and our two major Derby horses are here right now. I think a lot of that. I have (assistant) David Carroll, who I have utmost respect for, so that’s important for me. Last year we almost won the Kentucky Oaks with Wonder Gadot, and she stabled here. It’s a great place, it’s nice and the weather isn’t bad. Horses stay happy and safe here for the most part.”

Tyler Gaffalione: “The horse broke well today. I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane, but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there. Mark and his team have done a great job. They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Feb 17 NOTE: Assistant trainer David Carroll said, “He looked wonderful (this morning). He cleaned up his feed last night and cleaned up his breakfast this morning.  Just had a little jog this morning and jogged beautifully. He seems very bright and not tired. We’re thrilled to death with him. He likes it here, and I don’t see Mark or Mr. Barber wanting to change anything, so as long as he stays healthy and sound it is the game plan (to stay for the Louisiana Derby). With the outside post, we needed to get a forward position, and once we did that he was on the bridle. Tyler took over a little sooner than he had liked. He said yesterday was the first time he waited on horses. Once he got after him I thought that he finished up very nice and his gallop out was very strong. I like to think there’s plenty left in the tank.”

March 2 NOTE: Assistant trainer David Carroll said, “We had a sealed racetrack this morning but it gives you such confidence because it’s a superior surface. It has a great bottom on it, so we were very comfortable breezing today. War of Will went beautifully. Just finished up the last eighth and galloped out on his own steam. We never did ask him for anything today, it was just nice to see him back stretching his legs. He looked as great as ever and cooled out beautifully. I don’t think he has to improve a whole lot at this stage. We know that he’s very talented, and we’re just going to keep him happy and healthy, which are the two most important things. If he’s happy and healthy, then we’ll let his talent do the talking.”

March 10 NOTE: After War of Will's workout yesterday, assistant trainer David Carroll said, “We just wanted to keep him focused and have a target today. Once he had his target and it was time to go, he just kept on going. I thought last time maybe he eased up a little bit, but today he was totally focused and Declan was very, very happy with him. He’s just a beautiful piece of work. Every time he works, it’s just that way with him. He’s very push button and is in a great place mentally and physically. The horse is just a privilege to be around and has been this way from the word ‘go’ last year.  At the end of the day, we’re all going to be respectful of the opposition regardless of who comes. Our focus is on him and him only, just making sure that he’s happy and healthy. After that, it’s up to him. Hopefully we’ll have a good couple of more weeks and get there safe and win his race.”

In the Louisiana Derby on March 23, War of Will, the 4-5 favorite, was in sixth place at each of the first three calls, and leaving the far turn he was only 2 1/4 lengths off the lead. He clearly struggled in the stretch and finished ninth, beaten a dozen lengths.

Mark Casse: “We think what happened was about four jumps out of the gate. He actually broke in front, and if you watch he buckles on his right hind. And we believe, maybe it was stumble of some sort. But when he did, we think he strained maybe a muscle or whatever. But he was significantly off after the race. He’s significantly off. I’ve just been on the phone with Dr. Robert McMartin, he’s my main guy. He thinks he might have caught his stifle or something. We feel like he’ll probably be a little better tomorrow and we’re going to further evaluate him. I would not absolutely rule him out (of the Kentucky Derby) because this is something that he can get over very quickly. We’ll see. The good news is he hasn’t broken anything. It’s a muscle strain of some sort. We’re confident of that.”

THE NEXT DAY: War of Will shipped out to Keeneland shortly. Following trainer Casse's comment yesterday that the horse was "significantly off" after the race, today Casse told Alicia Hughes he is "feeling a lot better." The Kentucky Derby hasn't been ruled out.

THE NEXT DAY: Trainer Casse said, “It’s amazing how much better he was today. I just feel fortunate that he’s okay first and foremost. We’re fairly certain that he probably caught his patella a little bit right at the start. So what we’ll do is we’ll do some exercising and probably laser treatment to strengthen the patella muscle. But we feel optimistic that we can still make the Derby.”

March 30 NOTE: Assistant trainer David Carroll said, “He got here Wednesday and had a full evaluation Thursday with X-rays and ultrasound. He got the go-ahead to train. We will jog him for a few days and ease him back into it.”

April 13 NOTE: After War of Will's workout from the gate, jockey Gaffalione sadi, “He broke sharp and had running on his mind. He did everything very easy. Mark said he wanted a good five-eighths, so I just let him do his thing. He cruised along and pulled up great and came back happy. He is really proud of himself.” Assistant trainer Carroll said, "Horses sometimes get more from working from the gate. He broke very sharp, worked beautifully and the gallop-out was tremendous. He cooled out really well, and we are very happy. He is a kind horse to be around, and in the past week he has really been on his toes and is very sharp. He told us coming into it that he is ready for a good workout. In the paddock on his way to the track, he was very playful.” Carroll said War of Will likely will have another work at Keeneland and a work at Churchill Downs in the days leading to the Kentucky Derby.

April 19 NOTE: Assistant trainer David Carroll said, “He trained beautifully all week, and he definitely has progressed from his last breeze. All indications were that he would go exceptionally good today, and we saw that. We couldn’t be any happier. All systems are go at the moment. Each day he seems to be getting better. He cooled out beautifully this morning. They put a good seal on the track, and it had a really good bottom on it today.”

April 19 NOTE: War of Will is scheduled to ship late this coming week from Keeneland to Churchill Downs, where he will have his final workout for the Kentucky Derby.

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, War of Will was fourth after a half-mile, stayed in contention, made a move leaving the far turn, had to check when Maximum Security came out, got going again and then flattened out in the stretch. He finished eighth, moved up to seventh via the disqualification of the winner, beaten 4 1/2 lengths.

Mark Casse; “Yeah, we got bothered too. We almost clipped heels with (Maximum Security). We got excited. The horse ducked out and that’s when we nearly clipped heels. Tyler (Gaffalione) said he felt great. He said if he could have gotten him to relax a little he thought he would finish a little better. I have to talk to Gary (Barber) about (the Preakness) but maybe.”

Tyler Gaffalione: “I really thought I was going to win the Derby. I checked pretty hard when the seven (Maximum Security) came out as far as he did.”

The chart call: "War of Will  found a good spot saving ground off the leaders under a firm hold, continued along reserved waiting for room into the far turn, shifted outside MAXIMUM SECURITY leavingthe three-eighths pole, was forced out by that rival into LONG RANGE TODDY, checked hard off heels, remained prominent in the three-path to upperstretch and weakened."

WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 5, War of Will 59.60 Breezing 2/77 at FG
Feb. 2, War of Will 52:40 Breezing 157/169 at FG
Jan. 12, War of Will 48.00 Breezing 3/145 at FG
Feb. 9, War of Will 47:20 Breezing 2/135 at FG
March 2, War of Will 50:20 Breezing good 63/87 at FG
March 9, War of Will 1.01:60 Breezing 19/48 at FG
March 15, War of Will 47:60 Breezing 3/31 at FG
April 6, War of Will 48:80 Breezing 33/106 at KEE
April 13, War of Will 59:00 Breezing gate 1/44 at KEE
April 19, War of Will 1.00:20 Breezing muddy 1/9 at KEE
April 27, War of Will 47:60 Breezing 1/78 at CD

 

 

 



WIN WIN WIN (FL)
Trainer: Mike Trombetta
Owner: Live Oak Plantation (Charlotte C. Weber)
Breeder: Live Oak Plantation
Sire (Sire’s Sire, Dam): Hat Trick (JPN) (Sunday Silence, Tricky Code)
Dam (Dam’s Sire, Dam): Miss Smarty Pants (Smarty Jones, Devotion Unbridled)
Dosage Profile (Points) Index: 6-8-8-0-0 (22) 4.50
Foal Date: March 20, 2016


KENTUCKY DERBY: April 25 arrvial at Churchill Downs. Barn 43. JOCKEY: Julian Pimentel 

He broke his maiden at first asking sprinting at Laurel Park on Nov. 3. Always prominent at 5-1 odds, he wore down 24-1 pacesetter Gran City and edged Jabbar by a half-length, timed in 1:04.61. Another 4 3/4 lengths back in third was Outofthepark, the 6-5 favorite.

On Dec. 7 at Laurel Park, Win Win Win followed up that November maiden victory with another impressive performance, approaching a track record in an entry level optional claiming allowance race. Under Julian Pimentel at 2-5 odds, Win Win Win sat off pacesetter Lady’s Weekend for a quarter-mile before taking over the top spot on the far turn and opening up once straightened for home to win by 6 1/2 lengths in 1:02.30 for 5 1/2 furlongs. The final time was a tenth of a second off the Laurel course record of 1:02.20 set by 6-year-old Siralfredthegreat on Oct. 6.

The seven-furlong Heft Stakes at Laurel on Dec. 29 was next, and even-money favorite Win Win Win finished second to 5-2 third choice Alwaysmining by 1 1/2 length after breaking poorly and sitting over 10 lengths off the pace with a quarter-mile in the book. The race was timed in 1:22.60. The chart for those two says, "Alwaysmining set the pace near the inner rail, drifted wide leaving the turn, angled to the two path in upper stretch and dug in under pressure. Win Win Win broke a bit awkwardly in behind, moved up two wide on the turn, was taken to the inner rail entering the stretch, reached a striking position inside the winner in mid stretch and continued gamely."

Win Win Win, the 8-5 second choice, took the seven-furlong Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 19 from eight lengths off a fast early pace under Julian Pimentel in a sizzling 1:20.89, a new track record. It was 7 1/4 lengths back to second finisher Overdeliver, who fought for the lead and who came again again on the turn and into the stretch under Feargal Lynch before faltering. Favored Cave Run, off at 7-5, was another three lengths back in third. War Bridle was fourth. Gladiator King, who broke through the gate prematurely, was reloaded and set a contested the pace of 22.10 and 44.52 before fading to fifth and last.

Mike Trombetta:  “We’ve always liked this guy, and we’re very happy with him. They left the two inside horses in there while they were chasing the loose horse, and I think he might have fallen asleep in there. He broke flat-footed, but Julian knows him really well. He had a nice little pace to run at, and he showed what he can do.”

Julian Pimentel: “I didn’t panic, because he did the same thing last time. He’s very quick, so I just took my time and let him do his thing. I had so much horse and when I asked him to run, he took off.”

Feb. 24 NOTE: Trainer Trombetta said ahead of stretching out to two turns in the Tampa Bay Derby, “He is one of those kind of horses that does what you tell him to do. If I want him to work a half-mile in 52 seconds, he does it, and if I need him to work faster than that he’ll do that, too. I’ve made several trips here to watch him work, and he is doing everything I would have hoped for going into the race. He’s very willing to do whatever you need him to do, and when you ask him to do more, he does more. We’re hoping he can get us to those distances, but I truly don’t know. He needs to show that he’s good enough to do that. They all do. There will be plenty of good horses in that starting gate as they’re all starting to converge on these bigger races, so this is the next test. We’ve been putting some nice gallops and nice breezes under him, and he is doing everything he’s supposed to, so I’m as anxious as anyone else to see what he will do.”

March 1 NOTE: Irad Oritz, Jr. was hired to replace Julien Leparoux for the Tampa Bay Derby, per a report by Marty McGee at DRF.com.

In the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby, Tacitus ran up the rail to win in 1:41.90, a stakes record and just .15 second off the track record. The race unfolded with Zenden and Samy Camacho zipping from the outside post 11 and setting fractions of 22.79 and 45.85, with Sam F. Davis Stakes winner Well Defined and Pablo Morales in closest pursuit, just a length back. Outshine, ridden by Joel Rosario, was in third, 4 1/2 lengths off the pace after a half-mile. After six furlongs in 1:09.57, the same two still led the field, but Outshine was bearing down on them. Meanwhile, Tacitus and Jose Ortiz were in seventh place, eight lengths back. In the lane, Zenden still led by 1 1/2 length after Well Defined retreated. Outshine looked like a winner as he was grinding down Zenden, but Tacitus, ridden by Jose Ortiz, had mounted a rally throughout the stretch and ran past on the inside to prevail over Outshine by 1 1/4 length. The 7-5 favorite Win Win Win, who was threatening in upper stretch under Irad Ortiz, Jr., settled for third, beaten 2 1/2 lengths. Zenden held on for fourth, another half-length back, at 19-1 odds.

Michael Trombetta: “I want to go back and atch the head-on of the break; Irad (Ortiz, Jr.) said it was a little bit of a tangle out of the gate. I think he was satisfied with the way that he ran. I just think if he could have gotten a little better position early, we might have had more of a favorable outcome. He finished with good energy and just couldn’t quite get it done.”

March 22 NOTE: Trainer Trombetta said "Well, it's either between (the Wood Memorial in) New York or the Blue Grass. We'll make a decision soon, but we definitely want to see how he looks tomorrow morning following his breeze. He's done everything right so far. I haven't really worked with this sire before, so we're still figuring things out with him as far as how long he might want to go. He didn't have the best of trips in the Tampa Bay Derby and it was his first time racing at two turns, but I still thought he gave a valiant effort. Certainly, enough to warrant taking another shot at a Derby prep."

April 1 NOTE: Trainer Trombetta said ahead of the Blue Grass Stakes, “We are leaving tomorrow and should be there Wednesday morning. It was between the Blue Grass and the Wood Memorial. I was a little concerned about the deeper track in New York. I would get to keep the same rider (Irad Ortiz Jr.) if we did the Blue Grass, and I think that track will be a little more conducive to his style. He has done very well since the Tampa Bay Derby, and we came back to Fair Hill because that’s home. I kept him at Tampa after the Pasco to keep him out of the colder weather.”

April 3 NOTE: Trainer Trombetta said, “I guess that (8 post) is OK. A lot of people don’t want to be way outside and others don’t want to be stuck inside.”

In the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 6, Vekoma won, Win Win Win was second, Signalman was third and Somelikeithotbrown finished fourth. Somelikeithotbrown led through fractions of 23.26, 47.03, 1:11.55 under Tyler Gaffalione, with Vekoma and Javier Castellano hounding him every step of the way in the clear from the outside. Coming out of the second turn, Vekoma passed a tiring Somelikeithotbrown and led by 3 1/2 lengths with an eighth of a mile left in the race. He kept on running to win by that margin in a time of 1:50.93.  Signalman and Brian Hernandez, Jr, who were close by in fourth or fifth while saving ground throughout the early stages of the race, advanced to third entering the far turn and got by Somelikeithotbrown inside the furlong marker to be second between calls. Win Win Win, ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., was in 11th place, 7 1/4 lengths off the pace after the first half-mile, and he was back in fifth at the furlong marker. He advanced on the tiring Signalman and nosed him out for second. Somelikeithotbrown finished fourth, beaten 4 1/4 lengths.

Michael Trombetta (trainer of Win Win Win): “I don’t think we necessarily have to talk about distance being a limitation for him anymore. This was only his second start around two turns, and he’s really starting to figure it out. Maybe the 1 1/4 miles in the Derby will be perfect for him.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. (rider of runner-up Win Win Win): “I didn’t win today, but I am so proud of this horse. He ran a great race. I got into a little traffic early, and when I finally got him clear, I asked him to run, and he started to really turn it on. I think he can keep improving for the Derby. He’s a really nice horse.”

THE NEXT DAY: Trainer Trombetta said he plans to keep Win Win Win at Fair Hill until a week before the Derby with his final work coming at Fair Hill, and “That (nose) was kind of important, wasn’t it? At the quarter pole, I thought I was going to the Preakness. I was watching on the big screen by the paddock and then I watched it again on my phone last night. He got stopped on the turn pretty significantly. He had nice momentum, but that’s one of the hazards with a big field. Without that, he probably could have made it more interesting, but all in all it is probably the happiest I have ever been with a second.”

April 15 NOTE: Julian Pimentel regains the mount for the Kentucky Derby. Irad Ortiz, Jr. rode him in the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass Stakes.

April 22 NOTE: Trainer Trombetta said, “He’s good. We had to postpone the work Saturday. It rained really, really hard up there, so we postponed it until yesterday and worked him yesterday morning. He worked a good five-eighths. It looks we’re going the middle of this week. I think we’re going to ship him Wednesday, and then he’ll get his final work there on Sunday. It’s cool. No one knows if we’re ever going to make it at all, and to be able to get a second crack at it is a lot of fun.” Trombetta had his first and only Derby starter in 2006 with Sweetnorthersaint, who was sent off as a long-priced favorite only to finish seventh. He ran second in the Preakness.

April 25 NOTE: Trainer Trombetta said, “He left at 6 o’clock last night.They said the trip went well. He was there by 5 o’clock this morning. It was straight on through. Weather permitting, he’ll gallop tomorrow and Saturday and he’ll get his final breeze on Sunday. Julian will breeze him, to let the horse and the rider both get familiar with the environment.”

In the 145th Kentucky Derby, Win Win Win was next to last after six furlongs but finished 10th, moved up to ninth via the disqualification of the winner, beaten 8 1/2 lengths.

Mike Trombetta: “No real excuses. The rider said he seemed to struggle with the kickback and climbing a little bit. But other than that, he had an OK trip. Today wasn’t his day.”

Julian Pimentel: “We broke very well from the gate. I was in a great position but I don’t think my horse handled the sloppy track. He tried to make progress but he was spinning over the ground.”

The chart call: "Win Win Win  raced four wide early, moved inward after that and failed to menace."


WORKOUTS SINCE JANUARY 1

Jan. 12, Win Win Win 50:00 Breezing synthetic 5/15 at FAI
Feb. 2, Win Win Win 51:80 Breezing 60/64 at TAM
Feb. 9, Win Win Win 1.02:60 Breezing 16/29 at TAM
Feb. 16, Win Win Win 1.13:40 Breezing 1/3 at TAM
Feb. 24, Win Win Win 59:20 Breezing 1/33 at TAM
March 3, Win Win Win 47:00 Breezing 1/75 at TAM
March 23, Win Win Win 48:00 Breezing 1/14 at FAI
March 30, Win Win Win 1.01:60 Breezing synthetic 6/15 at FAI
April 21, Win Win Win 1.01:00 Breezing synthetic 3/6 at FAI
April 28, Win Win Win 47:60 Breezing 4/76 at CD

 

 

 

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