Monday, April 11, 2011

Kentucky Derby contenders fall while Joyful Victory soars

Just like inured Kentucky Derby contenders Jaycito and Premier Pegasus, I stayed away from racing on Saturday. Thankfully, the only pain I'm feeling is from lifting furniture all day long as we prepared our house for a photo shoot. (I'll link to that at time of publication later this month.)

While I toiled away, the much-hyped Uncle Mo took on a large field, of questionable quality, in the G1 Wood Memorial and finished third at short odds to surprise winner Toby's Corner. The 8-1 shot, a son of Bellamy Road, beat 20-1 shot Arthur's Tale to the wire by a neck who was a length ahead of Uncle Mo.

Uncle Mo not winning the Wood (Toby's Corner spoils the party)

On Sunday, a Blood-Horse report revealed that Uncle Mo pulled a quarter - -

“Uncle Mo is physically sound today,” said Pletcher in a statement released April10. “He walked the shedrow this morning. He did grab his quarter at the start of the race but it is very minor and insignificant.

"We plan on pulling blood work on Tuesday (April 12) after giving him a couple of days after the race, which is our standard when we have a horse that doesn’t perform to our expectations," he added." We are shipping Uncle Mo to Churchill Downs on April 18 to continue his preparations for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).”

On the west coast, Midnight Interlude caught up to Comma To The Top late in the stretch to win the Santa Anita Derby. In his previous start, Midnight Interlude broke his maiden in just his third lifetime start. The War Chant fellow paid $29.30 to win.

An interesting point via Twitter from Pedigree-guru Sid Fernando:

Danzig revival continued yesterday w winners of $1 million G1 preps for KY Derby at SA and AQU by Danzig-line sires War Chant, Bellamy Road

Midnight Interlude wins the Santa Anita Derby

How these two newcomers to the Triple Crown picture will fare come May remains to be seen but there certainly is a lot of uncertainty amongst the contenders.

Uncle Mo has an excuse but there are questions now about his ability to last ten furlongs.

Mucho Macho Man had his heel clipped in the Remsen, was body checked in the Holy Bull and threw a shoe leaving the gate in the Louisiana Derby.

Soldat didn't like having dirt in his face in the Florida Derby where he was soundly beaten by Dialed In.

Next weekend, the Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes will provide us the final contenders for the Kentucky Derby, but barring a decisive win in Arkansas by The Factor there is unlikely to be a heavy favourite in the gate on The First Saturday In May.

* * *

With so many question marks, would it be that off base to suggest sending a filly to the Kentucky Derby? Why not?

Ontario-bred Joyful Victory looked fantastic capturing the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Sunday. The Tapit filly, bred by William Graham, won easily over Arienza in a four-hose field (with only three betting interests)covering a mile and a sixteenth on the dirt in 1:44.74.

"She just keeps getting better and better," said jockey Mike Smith.

"We'll go to the Kentucky Oaks from here," said trainer Larry Jones. "That's been our plan from the spring."

The filly is not yet nominated for the Woodbine Oaks or Queen's Plate but she would certainly be favoured in both off of this performance.

Joyful Victory romps in the Fantasy

* * *

A trio of Woodbine-based fillies - Wyomia, Delightful Mary and Grand Style - tried the G1 Ashland at Keeneland on Saturday. Kathamnblu was sent to post as the 2-1 favourite but it was 48-1 shot Lilacs and Lace who would wire the field as Wyomia chased in vain. Kathmanblu finished third, 2 1/4 lengths back of Wyomia. Grand Style bobbled the start then rallied to finish fifth, while Delightful Mary chased the leader early and faded to seventh in the nine horse field.

Lilacs and Lace wins the Ashland over Wyomia

There sure are a lot of good fillies in training with Canadian-connections. It would be great to see them all on one card at Woodbine this summer.

* * *

It's rare for horse racing news to make the cover of the newspaper in this day and age. However, the sad story of the death of Graham Gelineaux, a former clerk at a Toronto off-track betting parlour, was front-page news on Sunday. The Toronto Sun story states, $37M lotto winner dies heartbroken recluse:

Before winning the jackpot, Gelineau held down a low-paying job as a clerk at an off-track betting parlour in the Bathrust and Bloor Sts. area.

He revealed little of himself or his past to anyone, and according to one source, kept the money he earned as a clerk tucked away in books in his rented room.

He was also a chess fanatic, and an avid reader of science fiction.

But he also struggled with his weight — at one point hovering around the 300 pound mark — and was ill much of the time as a result, Bailey says.

After scoring his windfall, Gelineau quit his clerk’s job, and apparently rented a small apartment at the foot of Spadina.

No one the Sun interviewed knew what Gelineau did with his millions, but there were rumours he donated some of it to hospitals.

Gelineau was a guarded, private man who never talked of his parents or any siblings, and never dated, Bailey says.

But at one point he did have a family of sorts — a woman he lived with and loved.

“At one time, he had a girlfriend,” Bailey says, “but he came home one day and she had disappeared — walked out — and he never got over it. He clearly stated he would never be interested in a relationship again after she disappeared.”

* * *

Although trainer Todd Pletcher had a tough day in New York with Uncle Mo, he did capture a stakes in Illinois. The Blood-Horse reports, Joe Vann Trucks to Easy Illinois Derby Win

Joe Vann, racing in second, pressed the pacesetter Lagoon of Diamonds through pedestrian fractions of :23.81 and :48.37 before putting a head in front after six furlongs in 1:13.65. The Fed Eased, third on the outside, rallied to draw alongside Joe Vann in upper stretch but he couldn't match the winner as Joe Vann edged away approaching mid-stretch to win in a slow 1:51.91 for 1 1/8 miles on a fast track.

"He ran a very good race," an elated Geroux said. "I was only about a half-length off the leader. When I asked him at the quarter pole, he just took off. The thing that helped me was that I watched a couple of his races. In one of his maiden races, at Saratoga last August, he beat Mucho Macho Man, who could be one of the top Kentucky Derby contenders. I knew he was a very nice horse.

“This race was huge," the jockey added. "The win in the Illinois Derby was one of the biggest of my career."

* * *

Ballabriggs won the Grand National at Aintree on the weekend fighting bravely to the wire where he was then hosed down and given oxygen. Two horses died in the running and only 19 of 40 horses entered completed the course. You can read the sordid stats in this Sun piece Grand is not so great.

Ballabriggs wins the Grand National

According to this Telegraph story, the winner is alright - - Grand National 2011: battle-weary winner Ballabriggs enjoys being star of the show after Aintree win:

It was hard to recall, gazing at this magnificent, hulking bay, that the previous day, his jockey Jason Maguire had needed the presence of mind on this blazing afternoon to leap off Ballabriggs’s back immediately after his triumph to let oxygen be administered and to allow the horse to be quickly sluiced down after one of the most merciless editions of one of sport’s most unforgiving tests.

“Look, he’s tired, but he’s grand,” McCain was happy to report, conceding that after his own celebrations which started in the Poacher pub and saw him get to bed for only an hour at 6.30am yesterday morning, his new champion probably looked in much better nick than he did.

* * *

On the home front, Warren Byrne's Portside captured the Star Shoot Stakes in impressive fashion. The Barb Minshall trainee broke in air and trailed the field of six at first call as odds-on favourite Nina Fever controlled the early fractions. Portside, under a patient ride by Emma-Jayne Wilson, angled five-wide into the turn and charged home just in time to catch Nina Fever by a neck in a time of 1:10.09 for six furlongs.

Portside wins the Star Shoot Stakes

* * *

As always, keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into TripleDeadHeat's Woodbine News page or join in on the conversation by following TripleDeadHeat on Twitter.

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