Animal Kingdom roars to the finish line
Alex Evers/EquiSport Photos
Some interesting Kentucky Derby sidenotes:
In the bragging department - I picked the winner and enjoyed a very good day at the track. However, since I'm here writing you'll know I've not made enough moolah to retire.
A blogger that deserves full credit for picking the Derby winner is pedigree analyst Calvin Carter who noted Animal Kingdom's classic pedigree with conviction. Carter's website is an invaluable resource for pedigree buffs and handicappers looking to make a big score.
Joe Drape gave a big thumb's up to winning trainer Graham Motion, who has never been cited with a medication violation, with his New York Times piece, Animal Kingdom’s Win Is Victory for the Sport:
So this colt is on to the Preakness Stakes, where his trainer, Graham Motion, and Barry Irwin, the chief executive of Team Valor International, can continue to demonstrate how solid horsemanship rather than black bag veterinarian work can succeed at horse racing’s highest level. This is especially important now that Representative Edward Whitfield, Republican of Kentucky, and Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, introduced legislation last week to regulate the use of performance-enhancing drugs and medications in horse racing.
Major industry stakeholders have acknowledged that medication rules in the United States are out of step with Europe, Hong Kong and Australia, where horse racing thrives, and that it is time for a significant overhaul of the sport.
While Team Valor founder Barry Irwin speaks to the the strength of unspoiled european stock, his point was further assisted on Saturday when his Daveron captured the G3 Beaugay at Belmont. Daveron is out of yet another Acatenango mare, Darwinia.
Team Valor's Barry Irwin talks to the media after the Derby win
We'll see what effect Animal Kingdom's win has on the breeding side of the game, if any, as the racing world prepares to face some potential rule changes.
Irwin also created a stir following the Derby victory by noting that he ended up with Motion because of other trainers, "lying to me". This nugget became a huge talking point on the internet and receives some strong discussion here on the always interesting Foolish Pleasure blog:
Unfortunately, that less-than-flattering perception overshadows the fact that what Barry Irwin says about many things is spot on. His ideas on breeding, particularly the importance of international bloodlines on infusing stamina into the breed, and the evils of drugs to the sport should be applauded. Wanting his horses conditioned more in the international style, off-track on sprawling farms such as Fair Hill, and placing his trust in real horsemen like Graham Motion, is truly admirable. Yet, the lack of civility in the perceived gentile world of thoroughbred racing is jarring, nearly to the same extent that it is when forced to deal with truly morally bankrupt owners and cheats.
Whether you like his approach or not, Irwin has captured the attention of the racing industry with this victory and the legacy of the win could last a lot longer than just the two minutes it took to watch Animal Kingdom prove his impressive pedigree.
Animal Kingdom wins the Kentucky Derby
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All eyes were on Churchill Downs on Saturday, but Woodbine also provided a strong weekend card that featured a resounding win by Bear's Chill in the Queenston and the emergence of a pair of new Queen's Plate contenders in Hippolytus and Kurogane. We also saw the return of Stunning Stag on Sunday who captured the Vigil Stakes off a blistering pace set by Essence Hit Man.
Bear's Chill cleaned up this weekend
Let's start with Bear's Chill. The Artie Schiller colt, out of Silver Nithi, was sent to post as the 4/5 favourite and romped through fractions of 23.51, 45.67, 1:09.40 to hit the wire two and a half lengths in front of Say No More in a time of 1:21.91 for seven furlongs.
The compact, but quality, field of five which included Oh Canada, Black N Beauty and Sardonicus could not keep pace as the big bay powered his way around the track. I found myself watching the gallop out with great interest as jockey Emile Ramsammy guided his colt through a strong run around the turn before bringing Bear's Chill to a stop along the backstretch. Only then did Say No More, who also galloped out with conviction, finally overtake the Bear Stables monster.
While the Marine Stakes might provide us with a closer look at Queen's Plate contenders such as Queen'splatekitten and Sensational Slam, the only thing that appears to be stopping Bear's Chill from galloping to the Guineas at this point is his ability to conserve a little of his abundant energy when going two turns.
When Bear's Chill returned to the winners circle for photos, he was barely (ha) out of breath and seemed to enjoy owner Danny 'Bear' Dion's growling attention.
Bear's Chill wins the Queenston
Chiefswood Stable have themselves a very good colt in Kurogane who had no trouble breaking his maiden going two turns drawing clear of the field from the top of the stretch to win by four lenghts. The dark bay Niigon colt, out of the Hennessy mare Eclipse Bay, completed a mile and a sixteenth in 1:45.10.
Kurogane draws awar for an impressive win
On Sunday, Stunning Stag captured the Vigil Stakes by running down the speedy Essence Hit Man at the sixteenth pole and racing away to a three-length score.
The Sid Attard trained gelding was assured a blistering pace to chase with defending Vigil champion Hollywood Hit and Essence Hit Man, who set a six-furlong track record in the April 17 Jacques Cartier Stakes in the field.
Essence Hit Man took the field through a blistering half in :43.84, while being stalked by Hollywood Hit. The Hit Man shot six furlongs in 1:08.67, but could not maintain the pace as Stunning Stag passed him by to win in a time of 1:22.15.
Stunning Stag wins the Vigil
Hippolytus, a dark bay Philanthropist gelding, captured a mile and a sixteenth N2L Allowance with a driving stretch run to overtake fellow Queen's Plate contenders Control and Curgone in a time of 1:45.39.
The Mark Casse trainee has two wins, two second and two thirds from eight lifetime starts and looked very strong in his 2011 debut under jock Tyler Pizarro.
Hippolytus unleashed a ferocious stretch run
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With the Queenston session of the Queen's Plate Fantasy Challenge completed, I am in a tie for second place in the overall pool with $165,000 in earnings. The leader is Rondi Costello with $166,386 in earnings.
As regular readers know, you can click on this link (also see the Plate contenders button top right of this page) to view my list of top Queen's Plate contenders.
The second session of the contest is the Marine Session. Entry deadline for the Contestant Stable is May 11, 2011 6:00 pm ET. Second Contest Segment contest dates and scoring to include all official race results from May 11, 2011 up to and including May 23, 2011.
In order to make the most of winning the second session, I am going to empty my stable of horses that have just raced in the Queenston and focus on adding some new blood that will race in the stakes events within the contest time frame which include the Marine, the La Lorgnette and the Lady Angela. It is also worth considering horses that may pick up some easy money in MSW's while we wait for the Oaks session (May 25th) to bring back the heavy hitters for the Woodbine Oaks and Plate Trial.
For a look at the horses nominated to the big events, check out Woodbine's Stakes Nominations page.
Marine Stakes - 1 1/16M for 3YO - $150K
I was pleasantly surprised to open up the nominaton sheet for the Marine Stakes and see Animal Kingdom at the top of the list along with Team Valor stablemate Crimson China. Naturally, the Kentucky Derby winner will be busy with winning the Preakness rather than demonstrating his polytrack form at Woodbine. Also nominated from out of town is Illinois Derby winner Joe Vann and Will Mott's Newsdad. Fortunately, there are also a few notable Queen's Plate elibigle horses to consider:
Bear's Chill - He is apparently headed to the Plate Trial so do not expect to see him here. As well, he's not yet Queen's Plate nominated and therfore not eligible for inclusion in the Queen's Plate Fantasy Challenge.
Bow Bell Reef - An Ontario-bred son of Peaks and Valleys that is not eligible for the contest and still a maiden.
Check Your Soul - The Roger Attfield trainee by Perfect Soul won the Wando Stakes on May 1st and would be a major player here. He is contest eligible.
Delawana - The Langfuhr gelding is contest eligible and is still a maiden.
Diego Bay - This unraced Ghostzapper colt has been working up a storm in the mornings for Attfield. It would be a surprise to see his first start in a stake but the nomination is a good indication the horse is race ready. Consider.
Oban - This well-bred son of Pleasant Tap will appreciate a two-turn trip around the poly. He is contest eligible. Consider.
Oh Canada - The Bob Tiller trainee chased home Bear's Chill on Saturday May 7th in the Queenston so it would be a surprise to see him before the Plate Trial.
Queen'splatekitten - QPK breezed 5F in 1:0160 at Belmont Park on Sunday and would be a serious contender to win the Marine if he ships.
Speed Ring - This Sam-Son Farms fellow by A.P Indy out of Catch the Ring was moving well in a mile and a sixteenth MSW at Keeneland on April 17th before flattening out after being bumped at the 3/16th pole. He has had two works at Woodbine following that event. He is contest eligible and could find an easier spot than this to earn money for your stable.
La Lorgnette - 1 1/16M - 3YO Fillies $150K
The La Lorgnette also provided a few big name nominations including Delightful Mary and Wyomia who raced in the 2010 Breeders Cup as well as Star Shoot Stakes winner Portside and undefeated Gulfstream shipper Naples Bay. None of the above are Canadian-bred and therefore not contest eligible, but there are some big names to consider:
Blindsidehit - She is contest eligible but raced on Sunday May 8th and unlikely to return quick enough to earn money in this section of the challenge.
Inglorious - The big Hennessy mare breezed a bullet five furlongs in 59.60 on May 4th and would be a monster in this field. Consider.
Mays Treasuretrove - This Forestry maiden finished sixth in her first lifetime start on May 1st and is contest eligible. It's more likely you will see the filly return in a money-making MSW than try this tough field. Consider.
Roxy Gap - The speedy Indian Charlie filly won the Fury under much encouragement from jockey Patrick Husbands. She is a very talented filly, contest eligible and a must use. I look forward to seeing her tangle with Inglorious
Shesagirlgonewild - The Mike Doyle trainee showed promise finishing third in her 2011 debut but then regressed in her second start on April 23rd when sixth in a five and a half furlong sprint. The Giant's Causeway miss has a right to improve but I expect she will do so against a different group and she is not contest eligible anyway.
New Providence 6F 3yo+ $150K -
You can ignore this stake race in terms of the contest as the nominations do not include a single three-year-old horse. Older horses such as Don's Folly, Mobthewarrior and Sand Cove provide too tough a field for younger horses at this point.
Lady Angela 7F 3YO Fillies $125K
This seven furlong stake is restricted to Ontario sired horses and the nominations include some excellent fillies including the undefeated Sinister Quill. However, only one of the sixteen fillies nominated is contest eligible:
Anna May Capri - The Trajectory maiden would be a suprise to start in the Lady Angela having finished well back of Olivia's Song and Bubbles to the Top in her April 8th debut. She is contest eligible but not one I will consider using at this point.
Do not forget to make changes to your Queen's Plate Fantasy Challenge stable!
Will Queen'splatekitten win the 2011 Queen's Plate?
To assist readers - and myself - in finding the likely contenders for the mile and a quarter Queen's Plate, I will maintain an updated "Top 25" list of Canadian-bred three year-olds and track their recent works and results. My list will not be limited to the nominated contenders eligible for the contest so that I might provide a more thorough breakdown of true contenders. The list will include fillies such as Inglorious and Joyful Victory that might try to be this year's Roan Inish or Moment of Majesty and take on the boys in the Plate.
I'm always interested in hearing your opinions on potential contenders, so if the horse you like is not on the list, please email me.
As we move forward, I will provide new features profiling contenders for the 2011 Queen's Plate. Here's a look at the profiles compiled thus far:
May 6, 2011 - Oh Canada Stands Tall In The Queenston...
May 3, 2011- 2011 Queen's Plate: Welloiledmachine Fuelling Up For The Plate
February 2, 2011- Ojibway Signal: Spring Training Canadian Style at Pine Valley Training Centre
Triple Dead Heat's 2011 Queen's Plate Contenders
Owner: Mill House - Breeder: Ken & Sarah Ramsey- Trainer: Todd Pletcher - Jockey: John Velazquez, Eurico Rosa da Silva
* Worked a snappy five furlongs at Belmont on Sunday May 8th in 1:01.60
Breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey sold Queen'splatekitten to Mill House over the winter who moved the improving fellow into the care of trainer Todd Pletcher; it was a move that caused some to tout the horse as a Kentucky Derby contender. QPK's three-year-old debut was a winning one as he closed impressively on a slow pace to win an eight furlong turf tilt in a time of 1:36.73. That effort propelled QPK into the G3 Palm Beach Stakes where he finished a closing second to pace-controlling Joes Blazing Aaron. In his final shot at making the graded earnings to get into the Kentucky Derby starting gate, QPK tried his luck in the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland but stumbled at the start before a difficult trip that saw him finish seventh.
2. Bear's Chill
Owner: Bear Stables - Breeder: Glenview Stables LTD - Trainer: Reade Baker - Jockey: Emile Ramsammy
* Won the Queenston Stakes with ease on Sunday May 7th.
'Chill' as he's known around the barn was on fire leaving the starting gate in his last outing at Woodbine, rocketing around the polytrack in splits of 23.13, 45.46 and 1:09.10 to complete a dominating seven furlong allowance performance in 1:21.35. The son of Artie Schiller won by three and a quarter lengths and galloped out as if he wanted another go around. No one got close to the colt who earned a 92 Beyer figure for his efforts.
3. Elite Alex
Owner: Elite Alex, LLC - Breeder: Allison Register - Trainer: Tim Ritchey - Jockey: Calvin Borel
* Entered in an allowance event on Wednesday May 11th at Delaware Park.
The son of Afleet Alex was a prominent player in the prep races for the Kentucky Derby competing in the G3 Southwest (3rd, 2 1/4 lengths back of Archarcharch), G2 Louisiana Derby (4th, 4 lengths back of Pants On fire) before faltering to a disappointing ninth place finish in the G1 Arkansas Derby. Given the steady stream of graded efforts, it's hard to believe he's only even won at the maiden level. His only other start was an allowance event at Oaklawn that saw Elite Alex cross his feet at the gate before rallying to a second place finish, beaten just a head.
There is no question that this is a good horse but given the recent string of difficult races, and that recent lacklustre result, it would seem the colt is due a freshening before figuring out if he can handle the Woodbine polytrack.
4. Sensational Slam
Owner: Bobby Flay - Breeder: Hill N Dale Farms - Trainer: Todd Pletcher - Jockey: Patrick Husbands
* Nominated for the Marine Stakes. Worked 4F in 50.63 at Saratoga on May 8th
A multiple stakes winner at Woodbine having captured the Clarendon and Vandal to open his career, Sensational Slam ended his two-year-old campaign on a down note finishing ninth in the G3 With Anticipation at Saratoga.
* Chased home a long gone Bear's Chill in the Queenston on May 7th.
This patriotic Frank Di Giulio Jr. homebred won at first asking despite being checked at the eighth pole in six furlong polytrack outing at Woodbine on November 21, 2010. The Proud Citizen gelding out of Oh Livia D, was a tenacious second in his subsequent start giving up the lead late to the tough Brereton Jones Kentucky-bred Fast Yankee.
Tiller has never won the Queen's Plate but the veteran might have a good one here - - we'll know for certain how good he is following the Queenston, to which he is nominated with several of these contenders.
6. Inglorious (F)
Owner: Donver Stables Breeder: Arosa Farms - Trainer: Josie Carroll - Jockey: Chantal Sutherland
* Breezed 5F in 59.60 on May 4th at Woodbine. Nominated to the La Lorgnette.
The Hennessy filly won her first two career starts in fine fashion taking both the Fanfreluche and Ontario Lassie stakes at Woodbine. The latter event was a dominating performance as she pounded the poly to a five and three quarter length victory in a time of 1:46.28 for the mile and a sixteenth route.
Trainer Josie Carroll would saddle Inglorious for a remarkable 2011 opener at the Fair Grounds as the big filly closed willingly in the G3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes to finish second behind Kathmanblu. She was sent to post as the favourite in the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks but was brushed at the start and did not display her usual stretch kick finishing fourth in a race won by Daisy Devine.
The multiple stakes winner is now working towards a possible start in the Kentucky Oaks but it would seem more likely that she will return to Woodbine and start a path towards the lucrative Woodbine Oaks instead.
* Competed in the Kentucky Oaks on May 6th
What a good crop of Ontario-bred fillies we have to cheer on in 2011. It's quite possible that Joyful Victory is even better than Inglorious (rated higher here only because of two local wins) and the speedy Roxy Gap. This gorgeous grey Tapit filly won first time out traveling a mile and seventy yards at Delaware Park. From that MSW, Joyful Victory moved on to Belmont Park for the G1 Frizette Stakes finishing third behind the tough duo of A Z Warrior and R Heat Lightning and completed her season with a fifth place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies won by Awesome Feather.
Undefeated as a three-year-old, the improving filly has won both the G3 Honeybee and G2 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park as she prepares for a date in the Kentucky Oaks.
8. Roxy Gap (F)
Owner: Melnyk Racing Stables - Breeder: Eugene Melnyk - Trainer: Mark Casse - Jockey: Patrick Husbands
* Won the Fury Stakes at Woodbine on April 30th
Undefeated in three starts at Woodbine, there is plenty to like about the stakes winning Eugene Melnyk homebred. The Indian Charlie miss ran away from fields on both surfaces at Woodbine winning her debut by six and a half lengths and then topping the Shady Well by two and half lengths. She would close her 2010 account with a four and half length win over the turf covering a mile in 1:34 and 4.
Roxy Gap was in tough for her 2011 debut in the G3 Old Hat at Gulfstream Park and never really got untracked after being bumped at the start finishing third behind Final Mesa and Pomeroys Pistol. Although completing a mile and a quarter marathon is not likely in the cards for Roxy Gap, she is putting in some wonderful works at Woodbine and is one to consider until proven otherwise.
9.Check Your Soul
Owner: Charles Fipke - Breeder: Charles Fipke - Trainer: Roger Attfield - Jockey: Javier Castellano
* Won the Wando Stakes on May 1st
Owner: Chiefswood Stable - Breeder: Chiefswood Stable- Trainer: Paul Attard - Jockey: Emma-Jayne Wilson
* Broke his maiden on May 7th at Woodbine
Owner: Horse'n Around Racing Stable and Lederman, R- Breeder: Chiefswood Stable- Trainer: Mark Casse - Jockey: Tyler Pizarro
* Won impressively on May 8th at Woodbine.
12.Black N Beauty
Owner: Zayat Stables - Breeder: Adena Springs - Trainer: Dale Romans - Jockey: Tyler Pizarro
* Did not fare well in the Queenston. Drops from 4th on the list and needs to rebound quickly to make the Queen's Plate.
The beauty broke his maiden in his third and final two-year-old start traveling six and a half furlongs at illustrious Churchill Downs. The win came after two solid efforts at Belmont Park, the second of which was a hard-trying second to Brethren, a well regarded WinStar horse.
13. Bowman's Causeway
Owner: Martin S Schwartz - Breeder: Adena - Trainer: Patrick Biancone - Jockey:
The well-regarded son of Giant's Causeway broke his maiden going nine furlongs in his third lifetime start on February 11th at Gulfstream Park with a stalking trip under jockey Ryan Curatolo. Julien Leparoux took over for his next start, the G2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, and Bowman's Causeway endured a troubled trip bumping hard with Racing Aptitude at the start and then steadied while making a move at the far turn eventually finishing fourth.
On March 19th, Bowman's Causeway prepped for the Florida Derby in a one mile allowance that came up tough and the Patrick Biancone trainee finished third behind a pair of Todd Pletcher runners, Dance City and Cal Nation. Sent off at 40-1 in the G1 Florida Derby, Bowman's Causeway never got into the race and was eased during the stretch run. He has not worked since the week before the Florida Derby.
14. Enduring Star
15. Good Better Best
Owner: Harlequin Ranches - Breeder: Cavendish Investing Ltd. - Trainer: Roger Attfield - Jockey: Patrick Husbands
18. Jojo's Mojo
Owner: Samotowka Stables - Breeder: Adena - Trainer: Michael De Paulo - Jockey: Justin Stein
Owner: Knob Hill Stable - Breeder: Knob Stable - Trainer: Josie Carroll - Jockey: Richard Dos Ramos
Owner: D. Bell, G. Vlahos - Breeder: Robert Hancock and Beth Hancock - Trainer: David Bell - Jockey: Justin Stein
Off The List: Say No More, Sardonicus
Newcomers: Kurogane, Hippolytus
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Below are some additional photos from the Saturday's Queenston Stakes. As always, double left-click the photo to enlarge it and use your "BACK" button to return to the photo essay.
Bear's Chill prepares to ice the field
Black N Beauty
Please stand for the racing of Oh Canada
A strong paddock appearance by Sardonicus raised a few eyebrows
Say No More likes to do his talking on the track
Bear's Chill surges towards the finish line
Can't catch me!
He keeps going and going and going...
A bear walks into a bar and says to the bartender. "I'll have a beer..." and after a couple minutes adds, "and a packet of chips". So the bartender asks, "Why the big pause?"
Hat's off to Reade Baker on a great training job with Bear's Chill
Thumbs Up for Bear's Chill!
Bear's Chill cleans up good
Assistant Trainer Leroy Trotman keeps 'Chill cool
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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.