The weekend brought Derby preps in New York and California as Eskendereya won the Wood, while Sidney's Candy won the Santa Anita Derby.
The video below of the Santa Anita Derby is prefaced by an interview with trainer John Sadler. The conditioner clearly loves his freewheeling colt and got a laugh from the crowd when he told the following story about Sidney's Candy.
"The topper for me was this morning at 9:30, he laid down and took a nap," laughed Sadler. "When you get a good horse to take a nap on race day, it's just a wonderful omen."
Sidney's Candy wires the field in the Santa Anita Derby
The race was nearly over before it began for Sidney's Candy when he stumbled at the start. However, jockey Joe Talamo gathered the horse up and quickly took his usual position at the front of the pack.
There was controversy as the field turned into the stretch when Lookin' At Lucky and jockey Garrett Gomez were bumped hard by Who's Up and jockey Victor Espinoza. After the race, Gomez tracked down Espinoza and a heated exchange ensued. The following Gomez statement is from the Santa Anita press page notes regarding the Santa Anita Derby.
GARRETT GOMEZ, LOOKIN AT LUCKY, THIRD: “I was having a perfect trip. Me and Paulie (Atkinson) were stuck on their (leaders) heels going into the first turn, Paulie was in a bad spot. I was watching Paulie. Finally, at the backside, I let my horse out a notch to let Paulie know that I wanted that spot. I got down in there. I traveled well. I followed the eventual winner. I was traveling good, and the next thing I knew, Victor Espinoza came down on top of me and took me into the fence. He had my horse tipped sideways. I mean, it was enough damage where it stopped me completely. And there was no cause for it. Victor was outside the horse that was on the lead, and the outside horse wasn’t putting any pressure on him until he came down and put the pressure on me. Look, right here (while watching the replay), Victor knows I’m here the whole time. He was outside the horse on the lead. He couldn’t come over. When he started to get outrun a little bit, he just dropped in and nailed me against the fence. You could hear him right here: ‘I told you I’d get you back.’ That’s why I went after him at the scales because I knew what it was about. He completely turned me sideways. But my horse actually got back on his feet. After that, I didn’t want to be super hard on him. I know the quality of horse he is, and when you get stopped to a dead stop like that, there was no need for me to start banging on him in trying to run second or third when I know we’ve got another race ahead. It was going to be a good race turning for home with me and the other horse (Sidney’s Candy), but after what happened, that was all she wrote for us. Yes, I did watch the Wood Memorial. The winner (Eskendereya) was quite impressive.”
*You can read the followup comments from Espinoza and Paul Atkinson on that same Santa Anita link.
For their troubles, jockey Victor Espinoza received a three-day suspension for his riding in the Santa Anita Derby, while Garrett Gomez was fined for punching Espinoza afterward.
Espinoza's suspension begins April 11, while Gomez was fined $750. The California Horse Racing Board's stewards handed down the penalties Sunday at Santa Anita.
The race also sparked comments from Lookin' At Lucky's trainer Bob Baffert who believes Espinoza acted out of resentment for taking the jock off Misremembered who went on to win the Santa Anita handicap.
Baffert also lashed out at Gomez suggesting the jock should watch Jerry Bailey’s DVD about riding races for what the conditioner felt was a poor ride. You can read a full account of Baffert's comments in an excellent piece by San Diego Union Tribune columnist Tim Sullivan.
“He’s using that as an excuse,” Baffert said of Gomez’s account. “It doesn’t matter. Whatever. Victor did what he did, but I mean, ‘cause I took him off of Misremembered. He gets like that. He pouts.
“But he (Gomez) shouldn’t have been in that spot. ... When I saw him on the rail, I said, ‘What is he doing?” He must not have seen Jerry Bailey’s (educational) tape. We’re going to buy him some DVD’s.”
While there was discussion on several racing forums that Gomez might lose the mount, it now appears that the pair have settled their differences.
* * *
While Eskendereya romped in the Wood, there may be some cause to reconsider your thoughts regarding Awesome Act. Trainer Jeremy Noseda is quoted in this Jerry Bossert piece in the New York Daily News that Awesome Act tossed his shoe leaving the gate.
Second choice Awesome Act made a threatening move on the turn for home to move into second at the top of the stretch but hung, losing the place photo to Jackson Bend by a head.
"My horse was not suited by the pace," said trainer Jeremy Noseda of Awesome Act, who won last month's Gotham Stakes. "It was a great performance by the winner, but for my horse the pace was wrong."
Noseda also noted that Awesome Act threw a shoe coming out of the gate, but the trainer still intends on running his horse next in the Kentucky Derby.
"I think we still have a good chance in Kentucky," said jockey Julien Leparoux. "With more pace, he can relax better."
Regardless of Awesome Act's troubles, Eskendereya looked mighty impressive in the stretch run and it would appear a mile and a quarter is within his range.
Eskendereya wins the Wood Memorial
All eyes were on 85ina50 as he made his return to the racetrack after his troubled trip in the Whirlaway at Aqueduct when going wide around the first turn and running through the outer rail.
In Saturday's G3 Bayshore, 85ina50 zipped out of the gate and then turned his head left and watched the infield as he raced the first quarter in 22.67.
"Eightyfiveinafifty is taking a look at the infield saying, 'what's going on there' as the others go by him," laughed track announcer Tom Durkin.
Fortunately, the horse re-focused and ran away from the pack galloping home two lengths in front. A bemused Durkin made the following comment as 85ina50 crossed the wire. "Eightyfiveinafifty will do it here. A little peculiar in the first quarter mile but he was straight as a string in the stretch."
A NYRA Press Release contained the following quip from trainer Gary Contessa.
“How dangerous would he be if he learns to run straight?” asked Contessa, New York’s leading trainer four years running. “He is a highly perceptive horse, and yesterday when the rail disappeared on the backstretch, he started to look left. Imagine that he can turn his head 180 degrees left and still run 22, 45, and 1:08 and change. It’s incredible, and the sky is the limit if he ever gets it all together and puts his mind on business. He’s given me some fits but we’ve managed to figure him out and I have to keep tweaking him and making him better. He’s the best horse I’ve ever had.”
A distracted Eightyfiveinafifty wins the Bayshore
Giant's Tomb, a Sam-Son Farm colt and Queen's Plate contender, might make his next start in the Blue Grass at Keeneland versus Tampa Bay Derby winner Odysseus according to a Bloodhorse.com report.
According to a list provided by Keeneland racing secretary Ben Huffman, the Blue Grass is also expected to attract a pair of 3-year-olds trained by Todd Pletcher—Interactif and Aikenite. Owned by Wertheimer and Frere, Interactif is a two-time stakes winner on turf who finished second in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita on March 13. Owned by Dogwood Stable, Aikenite placed twice in grade I stakes as a 2-year-old and finished third in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 20.
The three other Blue Grass probables are Ellen and Peter Johnson’s stakes winner Make Music for Me, Bred to Win Partners’ Codoy, and Donegal Racing’s Paddy O'Prado. The field could expand if either Sam-Son Farms’ Giant's Tomb or Louis Lazzinnaro and partners’ Homeboykris, both listed as possible starters by Huffman, are entered.
As noted earlier, Grazettes Landing was the winner of the Debut Stakes on opening day at Woodbine.
Grazettes Landing on his way to victory
In Saturday's feature, Fastin Bear - one of the many horses chronicled in my list of 2010 Queen's Plate contenders - captured the prep for the Woodstock Stakes in impressive fashion rallying late under a strong ride by Eurico Rosa da Silva. Fellow Plate contender Legal Review finished fourth.
Fastin Bear wins the Woodstock prep
Sunday's main (mane?) event was a five furlong optional claimer worth $72K won by Sam-Son Farms Battle At Sea and jockey Patrick Husbands. It was a great day for the apprentices as Omar Moreno won three races while fellow newbies Caroline Duquet and Brian Cheyne each won one.
Eurico Rosa da Silva continued his hot streak to start the meet with two wins.
Who's Big Daddy, another Plate contender, who won the Clarendon and then just missed in the Colin Stakes had his first race of the season on Sunday finishing last in a field of six. The 4YO winner Bare With Me sprinted quickly out of the gate and set a commanding six length lead winning the five furlong sprint in 57.61. Who's Big Daddy broke outward and then hustled to catch the field before tiring in the stretch as the even money favourite.
Leading Jockeys at Woodbine
Starting Date: 04/02/2010
Ending Date: 04/03/2010
|Eurico Rosa Da Silva||12||4||0||4||$138,700|
|Jesus Lopez Castanon||4||1||2||1||$48,124|
Leading Trainers at Woodbine
Starting Date: 04/02/2010
Ending Date: 04/03/2010
|Steven M. Asmussen||8||4||1||0||$122,229|
|Mark E. Casse||6||2||2||1||$106,602|
|Wesley A. Ward||3||1||2||0||$50,620|
|Gregory de Gannes||4||1||1||1||$24,546|
|Robert P. Tiller||3||1||0||2||$47,455|
|Michael J. Doyle||6||1||0||1||$45,300|
|Michael P. De Paulo||4||1||0||1||$43,707|
|Michael V. Pino||1||1||0||0||$35,820|
|Ralph J. Biamonte||3||1||0||0||$14,568|
|Sam Di Pasquale||1||1||0||0||$11,280|
It was an eventful weekend of horse racing. Be sure to keep up with the latest racing news by clicking on the Woodbine News tab at the top of the page. As well, I will continue to update the Queen's Plate contenders tab with results, workouts and more throughout the week.
Happy Easter good readers!