Blog Entries
Bunny's Derby Darlings: Animal Kingdom
Category: Member Blogs

Bunny's Derby Darlings is a series on my favorite Kentucky Derby contenders.

Read more at http://bitsnbunny.blogspot.com/

Part Ten:  Animal Kingdom

 

 

 

The Pamplemousse, Eskendereya, and now, Toby’s Corner - all horses I had such high hopes for great Derby performances that never had an opportunity to run for the roses.  Learning the news that Toby’s Corner would be scratched from the Derby, due to tenderness in his hind leg, left me with a sad, familiar feeling from the two previous years.  Completely admiring the decision to put the horse’s welfare first, I can’t help but feel a deep level of disappointment.  Animal Kingdom, Toby’s Corner’s stablemate, remains in the Kentucky Derby, carrying the torch for the Graham Motion stable.

Ranking fourteenth on the Graded Earnings list, Animal Kingdom has started four times, entering the Derby off an impressive win in the GIII Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes.  His three other races were non-stakes, placing first once, and second twice.

Against a strong field in the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, including Derby starters, Twinspired, and Decisive Moment, he broke from the fourth gate with jockey Alan Garcia.  After being squeezed to the back of the field, Animal Kingdom had plenty of dirt kicked into his face by the horses ahead. 

Down the backstretch, Animal Kingdom quickly began passing horses with a fluid stride.  Moving with great speed on the rail, he was neck and neck with Decisive Moment, who led the field, when they straightened for home.  Animal Kingdom slowed to run with the eventual second placer for a very short time, and under hard, right-handed urging from Garcia, he raced by Decisive Moment, winning by 2 ¾ lengths.

  

Animal Kingdom has never started in a race on dirt, but had a strong work on a muddy Churchill Downs surface this week, implying he would take a liking to the track.  With the threat of possible thunderstorms at Churchill Downs on Derby day, may lend itself to a friendlier track for Animal Kingdom.  Successful horses on synthetics perform best on a muddy dirt surface, as is the same with Turf horses, because the track is softer, similar to Turf and synthetic tracks.

This chestnut colt has an outstanding pedigree, being by one of the world’s third crop leading sires of Graded Stakes horses, Leroidesormeaux (BRZ).  Animal Kingdom’s sire is by Candy Stripes, who sired Horse of the Year, Invasor, and was the broodmare sire of the undefeated Candy Ride.  Animal Kingdom is out of Daicia (GER), by Acatenango (GER).  A member of Animal Kingdom’s family includes Hasili, who was a Broodmare of the Year, foaling Dansili, and Champs Elysees.

This colt looks as if he has more in his tank and obviously improving heading into the Kentucky Derby.  


 

The Dancer: The Kentucky Derby
Category: Member Blogs

hjyu TThis series spotlights Native Dancer's life as a horse, and as a professional athlete.

Read more from Bits N' Bunny at:  http://bitsnbunny.blogspot.com/

Part One:  The Kentucky Derby

 

Around four in the morning, a train, on its way to Louisville, Kentucky, was going through Columbus Ohio.  The train’s travelers included a dog, four horses, their trainer Bill Winfrey; and two grooms, Les Murray, and Howard Walker.  One of those four horses was a national hero on his way to become a champion, and that horse was Native Dancer.

The Dancer was getting more rest than his trainer, Winfrey, who had been tossing and turning for three hours before giving up, and reading a book.  His mind kept traveling to The Dancer, worrying about his safety.  Continuing to remind himself that the star of his barn was safe, being accompanied by his two grooms, also that the colt’s shipping stall was padded with hay, and he was wearing his regular shipping gear which included a helmet that would protect him from mild to moderate blows.  Winfrey had always hoped that Native Dancer would travel in the private train Alfred Vanderbilt, his owner, had specially designed for shipping his horses, but Mr. Vanderbilt always chose to ship the horse by public train.

The whistle of the engine blew as the train jerked to a complete stop.  Winfrey dropped his book, and yelled, “My God, the horse!” As the trainer ran out to the aisle, he met up with porter who explained that there was a stalled vehicle on the track.  As Winfrey rushed forward to the car where all the horses were stalled, he couldn’t help but imagine all the possible disasters. He discovered Native Dancer with an ankle swollen to the size of a grapefruit. 

This was just the first misfortune in a string of many leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

Camera crews from networks large and small gathered around noon at the Louisville train station awaiting the arrival of The Dancer.  Fans of all ages jostled for the best spot to get a glimpse of The Grey Ghost.  The air was filled with anticipation as the train crept up the track and pulled up to the enormous crowd.  Winfrey was the first to emerge from the train, and was met by track manager, Tom Young.  As they spoke, some men began to construct a ramp from the car to the platform.   They put a thick layer of straw on the ramp, and bordered the sides with bales of hay.

“It’s him!” cried out a boy perched on a fence, as the majestic grey began to appear from the train car being led by grooms, Harold Walker and Les Murray.  McNerney, a writer for the Courier-Journal, wrote of The Grey Ghost, “I’ve watched about twenty Derby winners (arrive) in Louisville, including Count Fleet, Citation, and Whirlaway.  None gave the impression of such sheer power and bubbling over energy as this big grey.”

Arriving at Churchill Downs, Barn sixteen, stall two had been prepared with a heavily bedded, thick mattress of straw for The Dancer.  He settled in nicely, not showing any signs of injury or distress from the earlier event on the train.

Early the next morning, crowds gathered at the rail and exercise riders stopped their horses to watch as Native Dancer came to the track for an easy jog to stretch his muscles. With a quiet, smooth first work on The Downs, his exercise rider, Bernie Everson, began to leave the track.  The Dancer kicked out at a passing horse and began to tie up badly.  Veterinarian Dr. Alex Harthill later said, “It was a major muscle spasm, like a charley horse.  It was very painful, and the horse broke out perspiring.  Everyone was wanting to scratch him…We gave the horse a large dose of what amounted to Gatorade, four or five gallons of electrolytes passed through a stomach tube.  We did that for several days with him, as a matter of fact, he recovered nicely.”

Following this event, Bill Winfrey became extremely protective of Native Dancer.  He refused the media direct access to the colt, only allowing him to be hand walked up and down the shedrow, and would not allow The Dancer to graze any grass for fear of catching an illness from another horse.  Native Dancer was scheduled to work on Thursday partnering with fellow Sagamore horse, Social Outcast, but Winfrey was forced to change it up to Wednesday because Native Dancer was destroying his stall.

To the surprise of the crowd, the two colts’ work was squeezed in after the third race on Wednesday with a six furlong gallop, starting from a walk-up start, beginning at the finish line.  Regular exercise rider, Bernie Everson, was instructed to give Social Outcast a four length advantage at the start, and drop back two more lengths on the backstretch.  Winfrey then wanted Native Dancer to chase Social Outcast until the end of the work, finishing neck and neck.  Winfrey’s goal was for Native Dancer to understand competition, not allowing him to pull away.  Native Dancer’s final quarter was :23 1/5, quite impressive.

Praised by many on the track, multiple owners, and trainers admitted that they always hoped The Dancer would win even when they had their own horse running.  Few people released negative articles about the colt. When he was compared to Citation, jockey Eddie Arcaro couldn’t resist downplaying The Dancer by saying, “He had better be a hell of a horse. He hasn’t proved it yet.  It isn’t fair, the way they’re building him up.  It isn’t fair to the horse, and it isn’t fair to the jockey.” This By this point, Native Dancer had won the Gotham by nine lengths, and the Wood Memorial by an easy seven lengths.  The Dancer had won all his previous starts by a combined sixty-eight lengths without being pressed.  Even before reaching the Kentucky Derby, Native Dancer was a proven horse and well on his way to being one of the all-time greats. This would be just the beginning of Arcaro’s verbal campaign against Native Dancer.

Following the post draw, the morning line odds came out, with Eddie Arcaro’s Correspondent installed as the top betting choice.  However, the bettors were forced to quickly change the odds on Derby Day, when the gathering masses at Churchill Downs purchased over $300,000 worth of winning tickets on The Dancer.

Oblivious to the growing crowds, The Dancer was enjoying a relaxed day in his stall. Owner Alfred Vanderbilt justifiably imagined how stunning the red roses would look against that shining grey coat.

As the loudspeakers announced for the Derby contenders to make their way to the paddock, Les Murray put on The Dancer’s racing bandages, and ran a brush over his coat for the final time.

As a calm before the storm, describes Native Dancer in the saddling paddock.  As usual, Winfrey gave no advice to the jockey he trusted most, Eric Guerin. Guerin had ridden The Dancer in every start of the colt’s life, and knew his mount well.

The Dancer would break from the sixth gate out of ten horses.  It was the largest field of horses he faced up to this point. Guerin knew he would have to stay closer to the back of the field because of its size.  Ace Destroyer loaded first, followed by Correspondent, Ram O’ War, Invigorator, Curragh King, Native Dancer, Money Broker, Social Outcast, Dark Star, loading ninth, who won the Derby Trial impressively, and the final horse to load was the promising Royal Bay Gem.

Twenty million people were glued to their televisions waiting for the break from their living rooms all across the country, matching viewership of the World Series. Watching with hopes of Native Dancer to continue his incredible winning streak, and sweep the Triple Crown. 

As the gates flew open, Ace Destroyer jumped out to the right, at Correspondent, forcing Arcaro to pull his mount back.  25-1 shot Dark Star ran up to the lead, and maintained it easily throughout the race.  Correspondent recovered quickly, and settled two lengths off the pace.  The Dancer was settled in sixth as they passed the grandstand.  It appeared Guerin was holding The Dancer back, because the big grey seemed rank, but the jockey later said he wasn’t restraining The Dancer, but that he did not take a liking to the surface.

Inexperienced jockey Al Popara was moving Money Broker around Guerin on the outside when his mount virtually bumped into The Dancer, precisely at the moment when Curragh King veered into The Dancer’s path.  That bump pushed The Dancer back third-to-last when they went into the backstretch

Nearing the second turn, Guerin asked Native Dancer to move up the track.  Although Guerin had raced The Dancer wide, up to this point, Guerin took Native Dancer to the inside, around the turn.  Native Dancer passed four horses, and was gaining on the leaders with every stride he took, eating the ground as they raced into the homestretch.  His middle quarter of the race took only twenty-three seconds, the fastest any horse has gone.  As they straightened for home, Dark Star was four lengths ahead. 

 

With horses ahead drifting wide, the odds of Native Dancer getting caught behind others went down.  Dark Star was tiring, and Native Dancer was gaining.  As the crowds roared, the jockeys asked their mounts for their best efforts to win the most important race in the country.  Overcoming challenges that would have eliminated most horses from reaching for the finish line first, Native Dancer was now challenging Dark Star neck and neck to the wire.  At odds of 7-10, The Dancer had suffered his first ever defeat.  Despite the loss, he had proven his ability to overcome adversity and show his great strength, agility and speed that would go down in history.  The twenty million people who watched the seventy-eighth running of the Derby witnessed a stride that measured an unbelievably enormous twenty-nine feet; one foot larger than Man O’ War’s, three feet longer than Zenyatta’s, and four feet larger than Secretariat’s.  That record has stood for fifty-eight years.

Considered the biggest Derby upset in history, I believe that, wire to wire, no horse has ever run such an outstanding race.  Native Dancer’s performance in the seventy-eighth Kentucky Derby only adds to his deserved admiration for an incomparable career in racing.

 

On a personal note:  I am an outspoken Native Dancer admirer.  He is routed in my love-for-thoroughbred-racing DNA.  I believe he was transformer of the horseracing industry both as a racehorse, but also as a sire.  Obviously, being born in 1996 denies me the joy of any first-hand accounts of The Dancer, but devour memories from others.  For example, I take a Tap Dance class, that every student (except me!) is over the age of sixty.  They tell me stories of when they watched Native Dancer and remember how sad they were when he lost the Derby.  I feel it is important to bridge that generation with my generation by sharing Native Dancer’s life.      

 


 

Bunny's Derby Darlings: The Honorable Mentions
Category: Member Blogs


Bunny's Derby Darlings is a series on my favorite Kentucky Derby contenders.

Read more at http://bitsnbunny.blogspot.com/

Part Nine:  The Honorable Mentions

 

 

 

Eight days out from the Derby and the field has finally taken shape.  Clearly the blanket of roses can be worn by any contender.  There are horses who won’t go off as the favorite, but will be credible competitors to watch on the first Saturday of May.

BRILLIANT SPEED:   This Tom Albertrani trainee displayed his resilient running style in the Blue Grass Stakes, by going five wide around the first turn, rounding the field.  Nearing the final turn, he moved up on the rail, but was abruptly taken to the outside by jockey Joel Rosario when there was no running room in his path.  Even when another horse drifted close to him, Brilliant Speed stayed straight when running at Twinspired, who was first nearing the wire.  I would prefer to see a larger stride, and more head movement, but I was impressed by how he overcame a slow pace.

This colt has no weaknesses in his bloodlines.  He is by champion sire, Dynaformer, most famous for siring the late Barbaro.  The twenty-six year old stallion’s successful progeny includes distance Turf runner, Gozzip Girl.  Brilliant Speed is out of Speed Succeeds, by the pensioned Gone West.  Speed Succeeds is out of Daijin, who is a full-sister to Belmont Stakes winner, Touch Gold, and a ½ sister to Canadian champion With Approval. Daijin was a great broodmare, producing Canadian stars, Handpainted, and Serenading.

MASTER OF HOUNDS:  This colt by Kingmambo, and out of Silk And Scarlet (GB), by Sadler’s Wells, is a force to watch.  In his only start of the year, this colt from the Aiden O’Brien barn placed by a neck in the UAE Derby at one and three sixteenths of a mile.  This leads me to believe he is a fresh horse, possibly offering him an advantage, but shipping from so far may take a toll on Derby Day. Also not having a jockey committed to ride him, at this point, concerns me.  I was expecting to see Calvin Borel aboard this horse until he committed to Twice The Appeal earlier this week.  A possible Mike Smith mount?  Conveniently, he will be riding Joyful Victory in the Oaks the day before, and has no Derby mount at this time….hmmm.

MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE:   Trainer Bob Baffert looks to end his Kentucky Derby drought with longshot Santa Anita Derby winner, Midnight Interlude.  This dark bay or brown colt is by War Chant, whose best success came at eight and one half furlongs.  Midnight Interlude is out of Midnight Kiss (NZ), by Groom Dancer, whose sire is Blushing Groom.  Midnight Interlude’s third dam is by 1973 Triple Crown winner, Secretariat.

His jockey, Victor Espinoza, handled a rank colt in the first moments of the Santa Anita Derby, but settled around the middle of the pack.  Equipped with his blinkers and a shadowroll, he went around the final turn wide, and came up close behind Comma To The Top, and therefore had to cut around.  Midnight Interlude beat Comma To The Top to the wire by a neck.  The second placer is also worthy of a mention as a Derby contender.

PANTS ON FIRE:   Ranking sixth on the Graded Earnings list, Pants On Fire, is this year’s surprise Louisiana Derby winner, holding off the favorite, Mucho Macho Man.  By Jump Start, and out of Cabo de Noche, by Cape Town; he proved that he preferred to be up close to the pace, hanging on the hip of the pacemaker until they ran into the final turn.  I have some skepticism as to whether he can handle running the Classic distance, because when he was running down the homestretch, he drifted out, which is one of the signs that a horse is tiring.  An interesting factoid is that this colt is female-trained (Kelly Breen), and also ridden by a female jockey, Anna Napravnik. Could be history in the making.

SHACKELFORD:  This Dale Romans trainee made his mark on the Derby trail when he came in an impressive, close second to Dialed In in the Florida Derby.  Though he prefers to make the pace, he runs calmly, never expending more energy than what is necessary.  This handsome, chestnut colt with a striking white blaze is by Forestry, and out of Oatsee, by Unbridled, who won the 1990 Kentucky Derby.  If I weren’t listing these horses alphabetically, Shackelford would top this list.

TWINSPIRED:   By Harlan’s Holiday, and out of Historical Drive, by El Prado (IRE), this grey colt was second to Brilliant Speed in the Blue Grass Stakes.  I have noticed that his sire tends to throw progeny who find their greatest success in sprinting.  His broodmare sire’s most popular son is Medaglia d’Oro, who sired the legendary Rachel Alexandra.

From the Mike Maker barn, Twinspired settled third off the pace in the Blue Grass, but I am hesitant to call him a speed horse, because the pace was very slow.  With Robby Alberado aboard, he ran smoothly, with a powerful, efficient stride.  Despite Twinspired placing behind Brilliant Speed in the Blue Grass Stakes, I think he may have greater potential in Kentucky Derby.

The road to the Kentucky Derby could be described as a slippery slope, at the very least.  I find it thrilling that any one of these contenders could be our next Kentucky Derby winner, or possibly a horse I did not acknowledge in my analysis.  Only time will tell.

Bunny's Derby Darlings: Calvin Borel
Category: Member Blogs


Bunny's Derby Darlings is a series on my favorite Derby contenders.

Read more at http://bitsnbunny.blogspot.com/

Part Eight:  Calvin Borel

 

 

Things that make you go hmmm:  The jockey who has won three out of the past four Derbies is on a longshot who he acquired only ten days before the race, while another jockey who has finished out of the top ten in the past four Derbies is aboard the likely favorite.  Hmmm.

After riding Street Sense to victory in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, Borel guided the Street Cry (IRE) colt into the winner’s circle after a rail-skimming triumph that made Street Sense the only horse to win both the Juvenile, and the Derby.  Just two years later, he repeated that textbook ride on 50-1 shot, Mine That Bird.  In 2010, he proved he could also win the Derby with a horse near the pace by riding Super Saver, becoming the first jockey to win back to back Kentucky Derbies since Eddie Delahousaye in 1982-83.  Calvin Borel is also one of the few jockeys that can claim winning the Oaks and Derby in the same year, riding Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird to their victories in 2009.   

Calvin Borel’s Derby mount, Twice The Appeal, may cause opposing trainers to make the same mistake that trainer, Bob Baffert made in the 2009 Derby.  Prior to that race Mr. Baffert’s wife, Jill, commented to her husband that he would have to watch out for Calvin Borel.  His response was something like, “He’s on the longshot, no worries.”  As Baffert stood in the stands watching a little, brown, muddy, gelding zoom by his majestic Santa Anita Derby winner, Pioneerof The Nile, he exclaimed, “WHO THE H*#% IS THAT?!”       

Jill replied, “It’s that D*$% Calvin Borel!”

Borel on a longshot and Baffert with another Santa Anita Derby winner racing in the Kentucky Derby this year. Hmmm.

The Jeff Bonde trainee, Twice The Appeal, won the Sunland Derby against Astrology by one and a half lengths, being 2.71 seconds off the track record (which would be about 24 ½ lengths), when the surface was fast.  With Christian Santiago-Reyes aboard, the Successful Appeal colt wore blinkers, and a shadowroll.  Watching him run, I found him unmemorable, neither good or bad.  He had a comfortable stride, but not near as impressive as the top Derby rivals.  He sold at the Keeneland Select Yearling sale in September for four thousand dollars, and sold at the Barrets Equine Limited May 2010 Sale of Two-Year-Olds In Training for $35,000.

Typically, I wouldn’t spotlight Twice The Appeal, knowing this horse will go off at high odds, but it would be negligent not to consider any horse that Calvin Borel rides in the Kentucky Derby as a serious contender.  There is not one jockey more familiar with the dirt at Churchill Downs.  This is Calvin’s Turf, his backyard, his dirt.  Calvin on The Downs is the equivalent to a lion on the Serengeti: It’s his habitat and the rest of the field are the antelopes.   

Bunny's Derby Darlings: Archarcharch
Category: Member Blogs

 Bunny's Derby Darlings is a series on my favorite Kentucky Derby contenders.

Read more at http://bitsnbunny.blogspot.com/

Part Seven:  Archarcharch

 

Last weekend’s Arkansas Derby was quite surprising.  I was not shocked that The Factor lost, because I always questioned his ability to handle distance.   However, I was dumbfounded at his running style, for he was never a factor in how the race played out.  If he was to be beaten, I expected someone to challenge him on the pace, and for him to burn himself out.  What was not surprising is that Archarcharch, with his strong record this season, winning the Southwest Stakes and a third in the Rebel, became the horse to upset The Factor.  
Archarcharch has an interesting pedigree, being by Arch, the sire responsible for 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Blame.  Archarcharch’s dam, Woodman’s Dancer, is by Woodman, known for being one of the top broodmare sires. Woodman’s Dancer’s broodmare sire is champion three year old (in France) Nureyev, who sired one hundred thirty-five stakes winners in his lifetime, and twenty-three of which were Grade or Group I winners. 
Structurally, Archarcharch appears to be a durable horse with big legs. I’ve noticed his lead ponies are always larger than he, which hints that he may be on the small side. He is an attractive dark bay or brown colt with a blaze, having kind eyes that resemble his sire.
In the Arkansas Derby, Archarcharch settled in as the eighth horse off the pace after breaking with jockey, Jon Court.  Around the first turn, the William Fires trainee went about three wide with a relaxed, fluid stride. He remained in the same position throughout the early portion of the race.  Hitting the five-eighths pole, he began clipping off horses before swinging five out on the second turn.  Heading down the homestretch, Archarcharch stayed committed to his lane, not drifting inward.  Typically, when horses are taken wide, the tendency is to move back to the rail as they head down the stretch.  Moving horizontally in any way lengthens the actual distance of the race.  Another lesson learned in competitive swimming; “Stay in the center of your lane!”  Always a challenge for me during Backstroke!  Closing in on the wire, Nehro made a strong final effort with Archarcharch denying him the win by a neck.
Archarcharch is a horse showing improvement heading towards the Derby.  Even though he won the Southwest Stakes, his following third in the Rebel was a better quality performance, concluding with the Arkansas Derby’s solid, start to finish victory.


 

Bunny's Derby Darlings: Toby's Corner
Category: Member Blogs


Bunny's Derby Darlings is a series on my favorite Derby contenders

Read more at http://bitsnbunny.blogspot.com/

Part Six:

Toby's Corner

 

 

In my previous blog, I compared champion two-year-old, Uncle Mo, to Toby’s Corner in pedigree, conformation, and, most notably, addressing their different training styles. I would like to focus on the three year old career of Toby’s Corner. 

The track was muddy at Aqueduct, due to rain prior to the race.  It was to be 9-5 undefeated favorite, Uncle Mo’s first start on a sloppy track, but eventual winner, Toby’s Corner, won the Whirlaway, his first race of the year, on a muddy surface at the same track.

Toby’s Corner, owned and bred by Dianne Cotter, was breaking from the second gate from the rail, and was starting, for the first time, with blinkers to help him focus on the race.  In the Whirlaway, he paired up with the second-placer for some time, before pulling off to win by three-fourths of a length.

In the Wood Memorial, he broke cleanly, immediately being brought to the rail by his regular rider, Eddie Castro.  Toby’s Corner was placed fourth to last going around the first turn, which came shortly after the break.  Even when he was bunched up between other horses, and the rail, he remained extremely professional for such a young horse, staying very calm, and relaxed, with a fluid stride.

The Bellamy Road colt was kept on the rail for almost the entire running of the race, only moving from his spot when he was urged entering the final turn.  Into the homestretch, Castro sharply cut Toby’s Corner wide when a path on the outside opened.  Most horses, even a seasoned champion, would have trouble regaining their rhythm, but Toby’s Corner proved he was a special horse by re-engaging forcefully down the homestretch, pursuing longshot, Arthur’s Tale, who had passed the tiring Uncle Mo.

He ignored Arthur’s Tale, as he powered onward to win by a neck.  Toby’s Corner breezed out remarkably, even fighting his rider’s command to slow down, revealing that he was willing to handle at the minimum, another furlong.

One of the most endearing, distinctive differences between Toby’s Corner and the vast majority of Derby contenders is that he is owned and was bred by the same person, Dianne Cotter. Something you don’t see much of nowadays.  Whatever Kentucky Derby outcome lies ahead for Toby’s Corner, I can’t help but imagine the pride that Mrs. Cotter will feel watching her colt parade in front the twin spires as tens of thousands of people sing “My Old Kentucky Home”.   

His pedigree, and great build, devastating come-from-behind style, and exceptional training by Graham Motion offers Toby’s Corner a prominent chance of performing well in the Derby.  He is clearly a flourishing, high-quality horse who has not yet grasped the apex of his success.  This horse has established himself as one of the key contenders in this year’s Run for the Roses.

Toby's Corner v. Uncle Mo
Category: Member Blogs


 

We all know what happened, but the question is ‘why?’  I’m speaking about the Wood Memorial that took place last Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.  9-5 favorite, Uncle Mo was handily beaten by Toby’s Corner, and longshot, Arthur’s Tale. I first want to compare the two colts, Toby’s Corner and Uncle Mo, since the outcome of the Wood Memorial surprised most racing experts. 

A homebred chestnut colt by Bellamy Road, and out of Brandon’s Ride, by Mister Frisky, Toby’s Corner is daunting in stature and conformation.  He seems to be a large horse, and built like a greyhound, which are some of the assets I look for in a racehorse.  His sire also won the Wood Memorial by over seventeen lengths in his three year old career, and this is his first crop of three year olds.

Our champion juvenile colt, Uncle Mo, is a compact horse, though he is 16.2 hands.  Because of his strapping build, and solid legs, I would believe he is not as prone to injury as most horses are during this growing stage.  Uncle Mo, who sold for $250,000 as a two year old, is bred for average distance races, being by Indian Charlie, who is known for siring outstanding sprinters, including Breeders’ Cup winner, Indian Blessing.  Uncle Mo’s broodmare sire is Arch, whose most popular offspring is 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Blame.

Comparing their training records, I found there was a substantial difference in the two colts’ training histories. Some commentators speculated that Uncle Mo may have been under-trained.  I believe the opposite may actually be true. 

TOBY’S CORNER’S WORKOUT HISTORY: (February-April 13th)

(Date, distance, time, location)

02/24/2011: 5 Furlongs 1:02.2  Fair Hill Training Center

03/27/2011: 4 Furlongs :48.4   Fair Hill Training Center

04/03/2011: 6 Furlongs 1:15.2  Fair Hill Training Center

UNCLE MO’S WORKOUT HISTORY: (February-April 13th)

(Date, distance, time, location)

02/13/2011: 4 Furlongs :47.45  Palm Meadows Training Center

02/20/2011: 5 Furlongs 1:01.4  Palm Meadows Training Center

02/27/2011: 5 Furlongs 1:00.6  Palm Meadows Training Center

03/06/2011: 4 Furlongs :48.8   Palm Meadows Training Center

03/27/2011: 4 Furlongs :49.45  Palm Meadows Training Center

04/03/2011: 4 Furlongs :48.2   Palm Meadows Training Center

I do not have access to any inside information regarding the training habits of either colts, and am just drawing my own conclusions based on the public information made available. 

Toby’s Corner was worked on an all-weather track (synthetic), which typically produces faster times.  Uncle Mo was worked on a dirt surface constructed very similarly to Gulfstream Park’s main track, where he won the Timely Writer. Because of the times listed above, it seems as though Uncle Mo was pressed to run hard, while Toby’s Corner was receiving just enough urging to build up wind and endurance.

It is interesting to note that both colts’ final works prior to a race were similar. Toby’s Corner had his final work six days prior to both the Whirlaway, and the Wood Memorial, with the exception of his breeze before the Gotham, in which he placed third, was nine days out.  Uncle Mo’s final works was also six days out from the Timely Writer and Wood Memorial. 

Again referring to the statistics above, the two colt’s works seemed dissimilar to me. Uncle Mo’s works indicate to me that possibly the exercise rider was instructed to get a bullet work out of him the majority of the time.  Contrary to Toby’s Corner, where it appears that his rider may have been told to work him on a more relaxed rein.  Uncle Mo’s works came in closer more frequent intervals, whereas the majority of Toby’s Corner’s longer, slower works came less frequently. 

As a competitive swimmer, I would rarely sprint when preparing for races.  Practicing at lengthier distances builds up more endurance and strength than sprinting.  I do not understand why there is such differences in training styles with these two sports that are so comparable. This leads me to the conclusion that Toby’s Corner is being conditioned more in a “swimming style”, which may bring him more positive race results.  I remember reading about ‘morning glories’.  This term’s definition is a horse which puts in the fastest times of the day, but never seems to perform up to expectations in the afternoon.  I was always taught that training is training, racing is racing and the two should never be mixed.  

These are both wonderfully gifted horses that I admire greatly and look forward to watching them face off in the quest for the Triple Crown.  Could Uncle Mo be playing a card from the Secretariat deck, placing third in the Wood Memorial, and then going on to make Triple Crown history?    I know I will be watching with my fingers crossed!

Home From the Auction!
Category: Member Blogs


 

Last night, every one of the horses went through the Keeneland auction ring, beginning a new chapter of their lives on the road to becoming racehorses. Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the live feed stream on the computer since I had to go to my dance class. I must say, it was challenging concentrating on my moves for the Chattanooga Choo Choo.  Although it has been a slow year for auctions, some prices were high; several went for four hundred thousand or more, and one topping the sale with a price of six hundred twenty five thousand dollars.  It was obvious to me that this year’s superstars, Uncle Mo and The Factor, sparked some interest for the Indian Charlie and War Front progeny.

The sale topper was a dark bay or brown colt by Indian Charlie, and out of Teenage Temper, by A.P. Indy.   Stonestreet Stable put up the $625,000 hoping for success that they have experienced in the form of Curlin, and Rachel Alexandra.  During the under tack show, this colt worked impressively, going an eighth of a mile in :10.1, with a large, leaping stride resembling Uncle Mo.

Despite being a great admirer of Indian Charlie, I have always been a little skeptical of whether or not his offspring can consistently handle classic distance races.  Travelin’ Man, whose broodmare sire is Indian Charlie, won the Swale, a sprint race; and Uncle Mo (by Indian Charlie) came in a tiring third in the Wood Memorial.  In the Santa Anita Derby, Anthony’s Cross, and Indian Winter, both by Indian Charlie, finished out of the top four when they were expected to finish well.  None of this past weekend’s events seemed to have any negative effects on the bidding for these young horses. I also remain optimistic that we will see a successful Indian Charlie offspring at classic distances.     

$1.322 million of my monopoly money went to my top ten horses. I had four that did not sell; three for lack of reaching the price desired, and one out. 

HIP 54:  By Scat Daddy, and out of Russian Broad, by Broad Brush, I expected for this horse to sell for at least one hundred thousand dollars, but went for a bargain eighty thousand to Dogwood Stable, located in South Carolina.

HIP 62:   I was surprised by the selling price of Curlin’s full-brother.  Anticipating him to be the sale topper, he only sold for seventy thousand to Brian Koriner, Agent.  Reminding everyone that as a yearling, Zenyatta sold for sixty thousand, and went on to earn over six million dollars in her career.

HIP 74:   This filly by Bluegrass Cat, out of Tizsweet, by Cee’s Tizzy, worked impressively, and  is one of my favorites from the whole auction.  She is out of a full-sister to Tiznow, the only horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice. Royal Pegasus LLC made a savvy choice in purchasing this talented filly for fifty-two thousand dollars. 

HIP 83:   By Tiznow, and out of Well Dressed, by Notebook, this colt is a full-brother to twenty plus length Dubai World Cup winner, Well Armed.  He did not sell, because he failed to bring the minimum sale price ($450,000) set by his consignor, Niall Brennan.

HIP 85:   The bidders seemed to reach a decision that this is a special filly.   Being one of my top choices in these ten horses, she sold to Justice Family Racing for $335,000.  She is another Indian Charlie, out of West Secret, by West By West.

HIP 101:  Hard Spun Bells was another one of my selections that did not bring top price.  Consignor Nick De Meric expected her to bring in $290,000, but nobody was willing to pay the price.  This half-sister to Sharp Humor will be one to watch.

HIP 102:  This full-brother to Breeders’ Cup Turf winner, English Channel, and stakes winner, Sedgefield was scratched, but I will be keeping my eye on him as he progresses.  His dam, Belva, by Theatrical (IRE) has had repeated success as a broodmare, and this colt looked promising.

HIP 117:  My top choice out of the entire auction brought $285,000, a good price, when he stepped into the auction ring.  With his outstanding pedigree-by Mineshaft, and out of Champagne Sue, by Elusive Quality-and his amazing work, he sold to Lake Villa Farm.

HIP 136:   By 2007 Kentucky Derby winner, Street Sense, this colt was obviously not only dazzling on the racetrack, but also in the auction ring.  He sold to Michael Weston for $260,000.

HIP 157:  Out of Hishi Amazon, who earned over six million dollars on the racetrack, this filly failed to bring in $110,000, therefore, not selling.  I wonder about the choice not to breed the amazing Hishi Amazon to a more proven sire ie: AP Indy, Giants Causeway, Smart Strike… would have made for a stronger sale price..

I would have spent a total of $320,000 on my additional five horses to watch.  Below is a list of who they sold to, and for what price:

HIP 130:   Did not sell ($95,000)

HIP 141:   OUT

HIP 145:   Justice Family Racing, ($240,000)

HIP 164:   Marette Farrell, ($180,000)

HIP 168:   Did not sell ($45,000)

I feel compelled to add one more horse to my list; HIP 26, who sold for one thousand dollars!  She worked notably, going :10.2 for a one eighth of a mile breeze, and she is by 2007 Kentucky Derby winner, Street Sense.  Her broodmare sire is Dynaformer, who has sired the late Barbaro, 2006 Derby winner. She didn’t seem to have three legs, or two heads or run backwards.  Hello? What’s the deal here?!  Her DNA alone is worth $40,000 (Street Sense’s stud fee)! I didn’t even realize horses sold for $1,000 at a select sale at Keeneland. Can someone explain this to me?

My grand total for this auction was $1.642 million dollars.  I am eager to follow these young hopefuls and write about their achievements and struggles they may encounter.  Did the ‘home run horse’ get away?  Did I choose wrong?  Should I have spent more money or did the bargain of the century slip through my grasp?

Off to the Auction! Part Two
Category: Member Blogs


 

This is a continuation of my previous article on my top choices from the two year old sale at Keeneland. I consider these five candidates to be my “Honorable Mentions”. They are definitely worthy of acknowledgment, and as with my Top Ten picks, I will also keep them on my radar to see how they develop.

The auction will be held tomorrow evening, starting at four-thirty eastern time in the beautiful Keeneland auction ring that is located directly behind the grandstand. I will post a follow-up blog after the sale with a recap of the night’s events.

HIP 130: By Tapit, and out of Diamonds Sparkle, by Skip Away, it is clear this colt was bred for the classic distance. Tapit was a major factor on the Derby Trail in 2004, but did not take a liking to the dirt surface. Since, he has been flourishing as a sire, standing at Gainsway, siring big winners including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner, Stardom Bound. Skip Away, who died last year, won the Breeders' Cup Classic in 1997, and his foals went on to run well. Hip one hundred thirty worked one eighth of a mile in :10.4. He was physically imposing, but seemed rank coming down the stretch. He lifted his front legs well, although it appeared that he runs a little turned-out with his back legs.

HIP 141: I was interested in seeing this horse work at the under tack show, having Fit To Fight as a broodmare sire. His line is something that I do not see much, and knowing he was an important horse back in the 1980’s, I take a liking to his descendants. This colt is by Empire Maker, who defeated Funny Cide in his quest for the Triple Crown, in the final leg at the Belmont Stakes. Empire Maker has been a proven sire, with offspring including 2009 Kentucky Derby second-placer, Pioneerof The Nile. Hip one hundred forty-one had one of the slower times of the day, working a quarter mile in :22.1. I was very impressed by his running style. He carried his head correctly, is stride was efficient, and powerful, and handled both turns well.

HIP 145: Another colt by Hard Spun, but out of Glimmering (IRE), by international champion sire, Sadler’s Wells. This breeding is tied for the best in this ten horse group. Believing that American racing needs new, European blood, I enjoyed seeing the dam’s pedigree, and that the breeders did not mate her to a sprinter, resulting in yet another average distance horse. Hip one hundred forty-five ran one eighth of a mile in a quick :10.1. He ran solidly, there was nothing awkward about his stride, and as he went around the turn, I could see what a powerful back end he had.

HIP 164: This horse is a result of high quality breeding. Distance, distance, distance. He is by Dynaformer, famous for siring the late Barbaro, and other horses who can run distance, both on dirt and turf. Hip one hundred sixty-four is out of Kanerrerr, who is by Danzig, who stands among the all-time greats as a sire. The bay colt worked one eighth of a mile in :10.3. He carried his head high, and had a bit of an up and down stride more than a forward motion gait.

HIP 168: She has a solid pedigree, being by Giant’s Causeway, and out of Kreisleriana, by Seeking the Gold. This chestnut filly with a blaze and hip one forty-five share the title for being the best bred horses in this bunch. For distance, she is a quality horse. Giant’s Causeway was a popular horse when racing in Europe, and placed in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to Tiznow. Seeking the Gold won the 1991 Kentucky Derby, and finished a neck behind Hansel in the Belmont. She worked a quarter mile in :22.1. I would love to see her carry her head a little bit lower, and just a little more size to her stride. A very promising filly here.

Off to the Auction!
Category: Member Blogs


 

Whenever an important auction nears, I go through online catalogues with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of horses up for sale with my monopoly money in hand, because that is all my mom will allow me to spend.  Once the horses have sold, I attempt to follow their progress.

 

Anticipating the upcoming Keeneland Two Year Old Sale, on April 11th, I began preparing by studying the sale catalogue about a month ago. My goal was to scroll through the one hundred sixty nine auction entries and narrow the field down to twenty.  To accomplish this I chose horses solely on their pedigrees.     

 

I was anxious to actually view my top twenty picks on April 7th at the under tack show from my computer.  It was reportedly ideal weather and track conditions. It would not be an understatement that this would have been an awesome event to attend in person.  I can only imagine how lovely the Keeneland grounds looked on a beautiful spring day with possible future greats breezing around the track.  I’m marking my calendar…and my Mom’s! 

 

My true objective was to thin my picks down to ten promising juveniles. After viewing the works and eliminating the outs, I managed to solidify my top ten picks, but because there were so many incredibly bred horses, I created a honorable mention top ten, which I will follow-up with a blog tomorrow.

 

HIP 54:  The first horse to go to auction from my top selections is hip fifty-four, by Scat Daddy, and out of Russian Broad, by Broad Brush.  This dark bay or brown colt’s dam is a half-sister to Indian Charlie, whose three year old offspring are exceptional this year, Uncle Mo being his top Derby contender.  Fifty-four worked :21.4 for a quarter mile on the PolyTrack.  He handled the turns well, although I think he could cover more ground with his stride. 

 

HIP 62:  I expect hip sixty-two to sell for the top price.  Being by champion sire, Smart Strike, and out of Sheriff’s Deputy, by Deputy Minister, he is a full brother to two-time Horse of the Year, and Dubai World Cup winner, Curlin. He worked one eighth of a mile in :10.2 strongly, but I would like to see more head movement.

 

HIP 74:  Hip seventy-four was one of the most impressive of the day.  Her stride resembled that of Uncle Mo’s-large, fluid, and powerful.  She breezed one eighth of a mile in :10.2.  Seventy-four is by Bluegrass Cat, who is from the same family as 2010 Derby winner, Super Saver, and is out of Tizsweet, by Cee’s Tizzy.  Tizsweet is a full sister to two time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, and Horse of the Year, Tiznow. I loved her!

 

HIP 83:  I was very excited to see hip eighty-three at the auction.  This bay colt with a striking white blaze comes from the same breeding as 20 plus length Dubai World Cup winner, Well Armed (Tiznow-Well Dressed, by Notebook).  Watching him run, I could see a resemblance between him and his champion brother speaking in conformation terms.  When running, eighty-three carried his head high, although his stride was still impressive.  With time, this colt could develop into something special.

 

HIP 85:  I can see that Uncle Mo gets his tremendous stride from the Indian Charlie line.  The more I watch his offspring run, the more I see that impressive power in the front legs.  Hip eighty-five has that quality, and was by far the most impressive of Indian Charlie’s at the sale, in my opinion.  Her dam, West Secret, by West by West, is a half-sister to multiple Graded Stakes winners.  She herself has won in placed in minor stakes races.  I couldn’t find anything wrong with her work; her stride was powerful, she carried her head correctly, and she ran an eighth of a mile in ten seconds flat, which I believe is remarkable for a filly.

 

HIP 101:  I found Hard Spun Bells worthy of respect, not only running her one eighth breeze-out in :10.1, but also being a half-sister to Sharp Humor.  By Hard Spun, runner-up in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, this filly is out of Bellona, by 1991 Preakness and Belmont winner, Hansel.  I believe that this mating could produce a quality distance runner, and I will be interested to see how Hard Spun Bells progresses.

 

HIP 102:  Hip one hundred two is a chestnut colt by Smart Strike, and out of Belva, by Theatrical (IRE).  He is a full-brother to Breeders’ Cup Turf winner, English Channel, and Grade II winner, Sedgefield.  This is a horse to watch, because his dam has clearly proven that she is not the type that produces only one high-class racehorse.  One hundred two ran efficiently, finishing his quarter mile work in :21.2.

 

HIP 117:  Even with full-brothers to Dubai World Cup winners, this next horse was the horse I was most interested in watching.  Hip one hundred seventeen-a bay colt by Mineshaft, sire of Derby contender, Dialed In; and out of Champagne Sue, by Elusive Quality, the horse that upset Funny Cide’s quest for the Triple Crown.  Champagne Sue is a half-sister to 2010 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner, Shared Account.  Because I am a Native Dancer enthusiast, I have tracked Shared Account’s every move (Sagamore Farm bred and owned) since the beginning of her three year old career.  Champagne Sue is also a half-sister to the dam of Sapphire N’ Silk, and the dam of two other stakes winners.

 

One hundred seventeen did not disappoint on the track, running one eighth of a mile in ten flat.  He looked solid, his stride was daunting, and I was satisfied to see him perform so well.  In my opinion, he was the most impressive of this bunch.

 

HIP 136:  Next is hip one thirty-six, by 2007 Kentucky Derby winner, Street Sense; out of Emmous, by Silver Deputy.  This colt worked one eighth of a mile in ten flat without blinkers (all other horses in this article ran with blinkers).  He ate up the ground, reaching out far with his front legs.  Hip one thirty-six is a handsome horse, resembling his sire.

 

HIP 157:  What sold me on hip one hundred fifty-seven was her dam’s pedigree, and performance on the track.  By Theatrical (IRE), Hishi Amazon raced on a major scale in Japan, earning $6,981,102 on the track, and awards for champion two, and three year old filly, and also older mare.  This filly by Posse worked :10.2 for an eighth of a mile, and although she carried her head high, she was physically imposing. 

 

I would like to make note of the two sires that produced the most remarkable horses in the auction.  In 2007, they were rivals on the track, and this is the first crop of foals for both of them.  The Hard Spun and Street Sense progeny was just outstanding against all the other sires.  Hard Spun, in particular had so many great horses participating in this auction that make me excited to follow his offspring in the coming months.

 

Me and my seven meeelllion dollars of monopoly money are ready!!!

Bunny's Derby Darlings: Dialed In
Category: Member Blogs

Bunny's Derby Darlings is a series on my favorite Kentucky Derby contenders.  Read the earlier parts of the series at:  http://bitsnbunny.blogspot.com/

Part Five:  Dialed In

 

 

The Mineshaft colt out of a Storm Cat mare, Miss Doolittle, is a very impressive horse.  He has always been striking, selling for $475,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga 2009 Select Yearling Sale, also being one of my top choices.  Dialed In seems to be improving through his four race career. 

Dialed In’s first start at Churchill Downs was 6 ½ furlongs against a twelve horse field.  Though he ran at the back of the pack for the majority of the race, he appeared very spirited for the entire running. He showed the ability to handle a large field, and was capable of going wide.  I am glad he ran well at Churchill Downs, proving he could get a grip on the dirt track that many successful dirt horses never seem to handle.

After a commanding Holy Bull win in January, Dialed In made his next start in a one and one eighth mile allowance against older horses at Gulfstream.  When they broke from the gates, it was beginning to rain, and Dialed In was slowly brought to the back of the pack by the only jockey who has ever ridden him, Julien Leparoux.  During the early fractions of the race, Dialed In did not seem as comfortable as he was in the Holy Bull.  When asked for run, he accelerated powerfully, but failed to catch his stablemate, the four year old Equestrio.  The slow pace made it difficult for a come-from-behind win. Even putting in a fast last eighth of a mile, and carrying seven pounds less than Equestrio, Dialed In was still unable to seal the deal.

He certainly silenced any doubts last Saturday by winning the Florida Derby.  The track was rated fast, and the whole field was off to a good start.  I was impressed by Dialed In’s start in particular; he seemed quite composed, and those first few strides were smooth.

When Leparoux took him directly to the rail, Dialed In lost some ground on the field, dropping back fourteen lengths from the pacemakers, Shackelford and To Honor And Serve.  He remained comfortable in that spot for the majority of the race, but began to gain ground as they ran into the final turn. 

Leparoux had to take him about six paths wide, but that didn’t slow Dialed In from advancing on the leaders.  With his fluid stride, he was eating up track, heading towards 68-1 shot, Shackelford.  Dialed In nipped Shackelford at the wire, who performed gallantly, finishing 6 ¾ lengths ahead of the third placer, To Honor And Serve. In a post-race interview with HRTV, trainer Nick Zito passionately stated, “I haven't been this emotional since (1991 Kentucky Derby winner) Strike the Gold.  Once in a while special horses come around, and he's a special horse.”

 

      

 

Dialed In has an impeccable pedigree for the Classic distance.  In 2003, his sire, Mineshaft, won the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Woodward Stakes, and the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.   His broodmare sire is Storm Cat, known as one of the most successful sires of all time.  Some of his outstanding progeny includes Giant’s Causeway, and 2009 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner, Life Is Sweet.

Owner Robert LaPenta said, "He just has an incredible heart and unbelievable talent.''

For this year’s Kentucky Derby, Dialed In will be a strong contender.  I like how he can hang off the pace, and compete well even with dirt in his face.  Dialed In has proven that he can go wide, which is a strong possibility, with a large Derby field.  Dialed In is the equivalent of a super-model with a high IQ; he has star-quality, speed and beauty.


 

Some Joy For Japan
Category: Member Blogs


 

The closing day at Meydan Racecourse is always full of bliss for all the winning connections on that evening.  I always enjoy seeing the triumphant horse and the people responsible for him in the winner’s circle, be it the horse I chose, or not.  This year, I believe the Dubai World Cup was not only one of the most historical runnings-the winner being the first Japan-based winner-, but certainly one of the most meaningful wins of all-time.

 

 

This victory by the 17-1 shot, Victoire Pisa, could not have come at a better time for the Japanese people. Following the devasting earthquake and tsunami, perhaps Victoire Pisa can bring a little optimism back into Japan, not unlike the Saint’s Super Bowl win after Hurricane Katrina.

After Victoire Pisa and jockey Mirco Demuro crossed the wire, I was heartwarmed to see so much emotion from all the connections. The tears of joy streaming down Mirco Demuro’s face and shear jubilation expressed by owners and trainer , made me feel that with moments such as these, horseracing proves again and again how much hope the sport can bring to many people, and pride to a country in desperate need of some good news.

 

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