Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bribon Wins Met Mile In A Wild Finish

Belmont Park

Driven By Success led throughout while in a dual on the front end with Accredit. That one faded after 3/4 mile but Bribon, Smooth Air, Riley Tucker and My Pal Charlie all entered the mix in the last 1/8 mile to set up a wild finish in the Met Mile, the Memorial Day feature at Belmont Park.

Bribon raced mid pack throughout until circling horses 5 wide into the stretch to battle heads apart with Smooth Air the final 1/16 mile before drawing clear to win by a length. Smooth Air held the place by a length over Driven By Success who held the show spot by a nose over a hard charging My Pal Charlie while Riley Tucker who moved into contention at the 1/16th pole held on to take 5th by a neck over Runforthedoe who had raced evenly throughout.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Terry's Horses To Watch For The Met Mile

Belmont Park

Marc Keller's Bribon and Mount Joy Stable's Smooth Air headline a field of 12 horses in the Grade I $600,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on Memorial Day. With the handlers of multiple Grade I winner Commentator deciding to skip this race and look for a little softer spot, the Met Mile has brought out a lot of horses looking to move into the Grade I spotlight themselves and this race looks to be wide open.

He has looked sharp in recent starts and moved 5 wide on the turn to overcome a 5 length deficit and then held on to win the Grade III Westchester in his last start. He was soundly beaten by Smooth Air two back in the Gulfstream Handicap but is 6 for 6 in the money at Belmont. He has the highest last race Beyer number in the field and Garcia stays aboard who is 43% with trainer Robert Ribaudo over the past year.

Smooth Air
He was overmatched in the Breeders' Cup Classic last fall but has looked sharp in his two outings this year. He won the Gulfstream Park Handicap and comes to this race well rested since then. This is his first try at the one turn mile but he looks to be the main rival. Lopez rides for Bennie Stutts.

Driven By Success
He ran 3rd but only 2 lengths back of Kodiak Cowboy in the Grade I Carter at the Big A and looks to have the speed to stay on the pace here. The outside draw hurts but he reunites with Dominguez who rode him to a 3 race win streak against state breds over the winter and the Bruce Levine barn always deserves a look.

Led throughout on a sloppy track in the Grade II Churchill Downs Handicap in his last to beat a couple of today's rivals. However, today's distance is a furlong farther than he has ever gone. He will certainly be close to the pace if not on the lead but the question is whether he can stay there. Coa rides for Michael Maker.

The Roundhouse
He was running late to finish 3rd in the CD Handicap but is usually close in the end. Dual mid 90's Beyers in his last two indicate he may be ready for a big effort today and Prado stays aboard for Todd Pletcher.

My Pal Charlie
Couldn't quite get to Accredit in the CD Handicap and finished a length back but should like the added distance today as he is 2 for 4 at a mile. That effort may signal he is ready for a big race today and Cornelio Velasquez takes the mount for Albert Stahl.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Zenyatta Stays Undefeated

Zenyatta pulled away in deep stretch for a 1 3/4 length win over stablemate Life Is Sweet in Saturday's Grade II Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park. Sent off as the 1/5 favorite the victory improved Zenyatta's record to a perfect 10-0.

Zenyatta broke her usual last in the field and trailed by as much as 14 lengths on the backstretch. She was still 10 lengths back with 3 furlongs to run when Mike Smith tried to move her inside Life Is Sweet but had to check when that one moved left toward the rail. Smith then moved her to the outside and after asking her to run she made the typical Zenyatta huge move to take the lead in mid stretch. At the same time stablemate Life Is Sweet moved to the inside to challenge but Zenyatta simply ran away from her for the 1 3/4 length win.

After the race, jockey Smith was asked for a comparison with Rachel Alexandra and he said he did not want to take anything away from what she had accomplished but that is a matchup for another time. Assuming Stardom Bound returns from her break in good form, a possible matchup between Stardom Bound, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic this fall is something to look forward to.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Zenyatta Returns At Hollywood Park

Zenyatta, the undefeated champion older female of 2008, will start in the Grade II Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park on Saturday. This is the first time back in competition for Zenyatta since her win in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic last fall.

While Zenyatta is the headliner in the field of nine, stiff competition is expected from trainer John Shirreffs other horse in the race, Life Is Sweet, who is 3-3 in 2009 including a win in the Grade I Santa Margarita at Santa Anita in her last race in March.

The race is shaping up as a match race between the two stars of the John Shireffs stable and trainer Shireffs said that this matchup was not intended. Sheriffs said "Zenyatta was scheduled to run at Churchill Downs on Derby weekend but was scratched due to the extremely sloppy condition of the track. She needs to get going for the year and this race was now the best spot for that to happen".

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mike Smith Will Not Ride Mine That Bird In Belmont

Jockey Mike Smith announced on Monday that he will not ride Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes on June 6th. In making the announcement Smith talked of a previous commitment to ride Madeo in the Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park for owner Jerry Moss and trainer John Sheriffs for whom he is the first call rider.

This has opened up a spot to ride the popular Derby winner once again and has also set up the possibility that Calvin Borel, who rode Mine That Bird to a win in the Derby before switching to Rachel Alexandra for the Preakness, could again be aboard Mine That Bird in the Belmont should Rachel Alexandra not be entered in the race.

Mine That Bird's trainer Chip Woolley has said he was surprised by Smith's decision but he would not wait until a decision is made on the status of Rachel Alexandra before naming a rider for Mine That Bird. Still, it would seem like he may want Borel aboard if he is available.

In other Belmont Stakes news, Dunkirk and Chocolate Candy who both raced in the Derby worked at Belmont Park yesterday and both are probable starters in the Belmont. Wayne Lukas also announced that Flying Private (4th in the Preakness) will likely start in the Belmont.

National Governing Body Would Help An Industry In Trouble

The thoroughbred racing industry is in big trouble these days. One needs to look no further than two of the sport's top racing hubs to see that. This week, Hollywood Park became the latest track to cut racing days due to not enough horses to fill the race cards and they have dropped Wednesday racing for the remainder of the summer meet. Earlier Del Mar, the west coast's summer racing place, announced that it would drop Monday racing for 2009 and go with a 5 day racing week, except for Labor Day weekend.

Last week after a very successful Derby weekend, Churchill Downs announced that it would be going to a 4 day racing week for the remainder of it's summer meet due to lack of horses. A horse shortage in Kentucky is troubling but it is evidence that this recession is hitting everybody.

A look at the plight of the Preakness and Maryland racing as a whole are also not a good sign. Magna Entertainment, who owns Laurel and Pimlico in Maryland, Gulfstream Park in Florida, Lone Star Park in Texas, and Santa Anita Park in California along with the Xpress Bet online wagering service declared bankruptcy leaving the future of not only the Preakness which is run at Pimlico but the 2009 Breeders' Cup which is to be held at Santa Anita up in the air.

After years of attempting to get a racino bill passed by the Maryland legislature which would have allowed the Maryland tracks to compete fairly with all neighboring states who already have casinos associated with the race track, the Maryland legislature passed the racino bill this year but it is too late for Magna. Now, the legislature has been forced to pass legislation to keep the Preakness in Maryland so it can't be auctioned off to the highest bidder if Pimlico does not open in 2010.

After a 15 year battle, the Minnesota legislature still failed to pass the racino bill which would allow Canterbury Park to once again become a viable facility at which to conduct first class racing. With 79% of Minnesotans favoring slot machines at Canterbury Park, a stranglehold of the legislature by the state's Indian tribes once again blocked passage this year.

The closing of Bay Meadows in San Francisco and proposed closing of Hollywood Park in Los Angeles in 2010 to develop the land are other ominous signs for the industry.

New York racing seems to be on the other side of the bankruptcy mess as NYRA who had declared bankruptcy a couple years ago has emerged from that and the state is in the process of awarding the franchise to operate a casino at Aqueduct. Hopefully what is happening in New York can happen elsewhere.

The economy is certainly contributing to the industry's problems right now. However, a national governing body as all other major league sports have to coordinate the effort in marketing, rules regarding medication, and gaining legislative support across the country would go a long way toward digging the industry out of this hole they are currently in.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rachel Alexandra Proves She Is One Of The Greats With Preakness Win

Pimlico Race Course

Rachel Alexandra was hustled from post 13 up to join Big Drama on the lead and they stayed together until midway on the far turn. At that point, Big Drama started to fade as Rachel Alexandra found another gear. The sensational filly drew off to a 4 length lead before holding on to win by a length over the hard charging Mine That Bird and Musket Man who was another half length back.

In coming in 2nd on a different surface as it was dry this time, Mine That Bird showed his stunning win in the Kentucky Derby was no fluke. His Hall of Fame jockey, Mike Smith, said he was trying to thread the needle along the rail but nobody was conceding that space today. He then said he thought they still had a shot midway on the turn but had to steady behind several horses and was then forced 7 wide before finding running room. Smith said they simply ran out of ground in the end.

Musket Man ran a very similar race to the Derby too as he stayed along the rail to the 1/4 pole and then move out heading into the stretch but was not good enough to catch the filly. Trainer Derek Ryan said he ran a super race but he just got beat by a super filly.

Rachel Alexandra was having an obvious problem handling the track at Pimlico and she still had enough to beat the best colts of her generation. The prevailing thought among those who know in the sport has been that Rachel Alexandra was already maybe the best filly ever to set foot on a race track. After her win in the Preakness, it seems fair to talk about her in the same light as Derby winning fillies Genuine Risk and Winning Colors, the great Bayakoa, ill fated super fillies Ruffian and Go For Wand, and the undefeated Personal Ensign.

A Day after the Preakness, Rachel Alexandra has already flown back to Churchill Downs. She is set to be on the track on Wednesday and will breeze on Memorial Day. Owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen said that the Belmont was not a certainty for her. They planned to see how she comes out of this race and then look at the upcoming race schedule to consider her best interests before deciding on her future.

Trainer Chip Woolley said that Mine That Bird will run in the Belmont and that he will be vanned back to Churchill Downs today to train for that race.

I happen to agree with what Jackson and Asmussen have said and hope they consider the best interest of the horse before entering her in the Belmont. However, even though they have done their part to add interest to the sport by running her in the Preakness they will certainly face intense pressure from the industry to set up a rematch with the Derby winner in the "Test of the Champion" at a mile and a half in the Belmont on June 6.

If a rematch doesn't happen then, there are plenty of other opportunities during the rest of the year for Rachel Alexandra to take on the top colts from the Travers at Saratoga to the Breeders' Cup Classic in the fall.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Payton D'Oro Wins Black Eyed Susan Stakes

Pimlico Race Course

Payton D'Oro led wire to wire to win the Grade II Black Eyed Susan Stakes for 3 year old fillies by 1 1/4 lengths over Bon Jovi Girl and favorite Casanova Move. It was the fourth straight win and first in a graded race for the Larry Jones trainee.

After the race Jones said "This filly is very talented. We think she has a great future".

Fortunately for this field, one filly stayed back at the barn. Rachel Alexandra is entered to run in the Preakness on Saturday against the colts.

Terry's Horses To Watch For The Preakness

Pimlico Race Course
Saturday, May 16

After an unlikely win in the Derby at 50/1, Mine That Bird should be creating a lot of “buzz” around Old Hilltop this week. Well, he is having just a little trouble finding the respect that is usually afforded the Derby winner and even his jockey jumped ship. One horse is creating a lot of “buzz” at the Preakness this week. The sensational Rachel Alexandra will attempt to become the first filly to win the Preakness since Nellie Morse won this race in 1924. She is the first filly this century to even try.

Preakness Stakes ~ Grade I ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 1 3/16 Miles

Rachel Alexandra – Post 13 – Morning Line 8/5
An eye popping 20 length winner in a hand ride in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks, “Rachel” has reeled off 5 straight wins under Calvin Borel, the Derby winning jockey who chose to ride her today. She is bigger than most of the colts and has the pace stalking running style that wins this race. Her biggest problem may be post 13. Win or lose, we salute new owner, Jess Jackson, and new trainer, Steve Asmussen, for entering her as a gesture to the fans of this sport.

Pioneerof The Nile – Post 9 – Morning Line 5/1
He stalked the pace throughout before taking the lead at the top of the stretch in the Derby only to finish 2nd in a three horse photo for place in his first race on dirt. He previously had a 4 race winning streak including the Grade I Santa Anita Derby. After watching his coveted 4th Derby win slip away along the rail you can count on Baffert having him ready today. He may go off the favorite and Gomez stays aboard.

Musket Man – Post 3 – Morning Line 8/1
After wins in the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby and Grade II Illinois Derby, generally considered to be the second tier of Derby prep races, he showed he was for real in the Derby by finishing 3rd in that grueling stretch run. He was bumped near the wire and in a normal race would likely have been moved up to 2nd by DQ. He seems to be heading in the right direction as a bullet 4 furlong work at Monmouth Park on Tuesday would indicate. Coa stays aboard with a big chance.

Papa Clem – Post 7 – Morning Line 12/1
He looked to be closing for 2nd in the Derby before having to check down the lane due to the bumping previously mentioned and finished 4th. His mid pack running style doesn’t usually win the Preakness but if Bejarano can keep him a little closer, he has a chance and should at least be considered in the Exotics.

Fresian Fire – Post 5 – Morning Line 6/1
He was the favorite in the Derby but was crunched coming out of the gate and clipped heels. He finished a disappointing 18th but returned after the race with cuts and blood on all 4 legs due to the incident coming out of the gate. He still has the win over an off track in the Grade II LA Derby and an off track is expected today. His trainer still is Larry Jones who always has his horses ready in big races. If he is healthy, he has a chance. Saez stays aboard.

Mine That Bird – Post 2 – Morning Line 6/1
He pulled off a shocking win at 50/1 in the Derby with a masterful rail hugging ride by Borel who will be on “Rachel” today. The Derby winner doesn’t usually prep for the race with 2 straight losses in New Mexico and the lifetime best (by a lot) Beyer number in the Derby could have him ripe for a bounce or maybe he is just coming into his own. His running style doesn’t fit how this race is won but new jockey Mike Smith is an outstanding big race rider. Tough call.

Others in the Race:
Big Drama – Post 1 – M/L: 10/1
– Has the speed and 7 straight wins but class is an issue. Johnny V rides.
General Quarters – Post 8 – M/L: 20/1 – Traffic trouble in the Derby but hasn’t beat top rivals. Leparoux rides.
Take The Points – Post 11 – M/L: 30/1 – Stayed with Pioneerof the Nile in SA Derby. Pletcher with Prado up.
Flying Private – Post 10 – M/L: 50/1 – Showed nothing while last in Derby. Lukas with Garcia aboard.
Terrain – Post 6 – M/L: 30/1 – Respectable in LA Derby and Blue Grass but Leparoux gets off. Rose picks up the ride.
Tone It Down – Post 12 – M/L: 50/1 - Local horse was 3rd in only minor stakes. Desormeaux aboard a plus.
LuvGuv – Post 4 – M/L: 50/1 – Broke maiden on Derby Day in 10th attempt. Lukas and Mary Lou Whitney but why.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Terry's Horses To Watch For The Black Eyed Susan

Pimlico Race Course

It's Preakness weekend in Baltimore and a 13 race card on Friday kicks off the action with several stakes races highlighted by the Grade II Black Eyed Susan for 3 year old fillies. This race looks fairly wide open.

Hooh Way - Post 1 - M/L : 2/1
She won the Grade I Ashland at Keeneland two races back and missed by a head to Stardom Bound in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks three races back. Will go off the favorite with Bejerano aboard but has never raced on dirt and may scratch with the likely wet track.

Don't Forget Gil - Post 8 - M/L: 7/2
Won the Grade III Florida Oaks two back and ran 2nd on an off track at Aqueduct in the Grade II Comely in last. She has finished in the money in all 7 career starts and Maragh stays aboard.

Payton D'Oro - Post 2 - M/L: 9/2
She is riding three race winning streak at Oaklawn, including a win over rival Stone Legacy, into this race and she turned in a bullet 5 furlong work at Delaware Park earlier this week. Trainer Larry Jones is 30% in graded stakes and she has been the favorite in her last four starts.

Casanova Move - Post 7 - M/L: 5/2
Only win came over an off track at Saratoga last summer but she has run 2nd to Justwhistledixie in last two at Gulfstream. Lezcano stays aboard and trainer Jimmy Jerkins is 22% in graded stakes.

Stone Legacy - Post 4 - M/L: 10/1
She ran 2nd to Rachel Alexandra in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks in her last race, although that was 2nd by 20 lengths and she ran 2nd to Payton D'Oro in an Alw 35K three races back. She has not been overly impressive beyond that but her showing in the Oaks indicates she may be starting to come around and we must respect the Lukas / Desormeaux duo.

Bon Jovi Girl - Post 5 - M/L: 12/1
She ran 4th to "Rachel" in the Grade II Fantasy and ran 3rd as the favorite to Just Jenda in the Grade III Honeybee both at Oaklawn. She ran 4th in the Grade I Alcibiades at Keeneland last fall and turned in a bullet 5 furlong work at Delaware Park a week ago. She has a win in two starts on an off track and looks as good as the others in here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Preakness Buzz

Pimlico Race Course

Obstacles now clear, Rachel Alexandra appears to finally be set to take on the boys in the Preakness. After the announcement by owner Jess Jackson that the sensational filly would be entered in the race, a small group of owners headed by the ownership groups of Mine That Bird and Pioneer of the Nile devised a plan to block the filly from getting into the race. The Preakness is limited to 14 starters and the group threatened to enter additional Triple Crown nominated horses in the race so there would be no room in the race for Rachel Alexandra, who is not Triple Crown nominated. The group finally decided to drop the plan late Sunday. Assuming Jackson actually pays the $100,000 fee to supplement "Rachel" into the Preakness, the Pimlico odds maker has said that she would be the morning line favorite.

Rachel Alexandra, Pioneerof The Nile and Terrain are scheduled to fly from Churchill Downs to Baltimore on Wednesday. Rachel Alexandra is scheduled to gallop at Churchill Downs on Wednesday before leaving for Pimlico.

Mine That Bird trainer, Chip Wooley, hitched his trailer up to his pickup this morning and set off on the 10 hour drive from Louisville to Baltimore to van his Derby winner to compete in the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Trainer Wooley announced that if Rachel Alexandra is actually entered in the Preakness on Wednesday when entries are due that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has agreed to take the mount on Mine That Bird. Calvin Borel, who rode Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby, is committed to riding Rachel Alexandra.

Trainer Tom McCarthy said that General Quarters would also be vanned from Louisville to Baltimore on Tuesday.

Fresian Fire (18th as the favorite in the Derby) indicated he was recovered from cuts to his leg from clipping heels in the Kentucky Derby as he fired a bullet work this morning at Pimlico.

Papa Clem (4th in the Derby) worked a leisurely 5 furlongs at Pimlico on Tuesday in his final work before the Preakness.

Musket Man (3rd in the Derby) turned in a bullet work on Tuesday at Monmouth Park.

Big Drama has been working at Calder since his win and then disqualification to 2nd in the Swale Stakes. He has finished first in his last six starts. Trainer David Fawkes announced that John Velasquez will be aboard for the Preakness.

Flying Private (19th in the Derby) and the D. Wayne Lukas new Preakness probable, Luv Guv, were also among the horses making the van trip from Churchill Downs to Pimlico today. Lukas announced that Jamie Theriot will have the ride on Luv Guv.

Take The Points, who will be trainer Todd Pletcher's fourth Preakness starter, remains in Pletchers barn at Belmont Park at this time.

Tone It Down galloped 1 1/2 miles at Laurel on Tuesday. Trainer Bill Komlo indicated that he may give the lightly raced colt a 3/8 mile breeze on Wednesday. Kent Desormeaux will be aboard for the Preakness.

Terrain jogged a half mile and then galloped a mile on the Churchill Downs main track on Tuesday. Trainer Albert Stahl said that Terrain will be on the flight to Baltimore on Wednesday with Rachel Alexandra and Pioneerof The Nile. He also announced that Jeremy Rose, who won the Preakness with Afleet Alex in 2005, will have the mount on Saturday.

Hull, who was the impressive winner of the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, has been withdrawn from consideration for the Preakness.

Preakness entries are due on Wednesday and the post position draw will also be on Wednesday.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Charitable Man Wins Peter Pan

Belmont Park

Charitable Man ran down front running Hello Broadway in the upper stretch and then pulled away from Imperial Council to win the featured Grade II Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park today. Brave Victory passed a tiring Hello Broadway in mid stretch to claim the show spot.

Charitable Man, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, was brilliant as a two year old in breaking his maiden with an 11 length win at Saratoga. He followed that up in the fall by winning the Grade II Belmont Futurity over Flying Pegasas and Fresian Fire who went off the post time favorite in the Kentucky Derby. After recovering from an injury which sidelined him for the winter, his first race back was a 7th place finish in the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland but Charitable Man looked fantastic today. The Belmont Stakes seems a clear possibility for his next race.

The same can't be said for Imperial Council who for the 3rd straight race moved into position in the upper stretch but failed to close on the winner down the lane and he simply has not lived up to his potential as a 3 year old.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Rachel In Preakness, Borel Bails on Derby Winner

The new owner of Rachel Alexandra, Jess Jackson, said today that Stonestreet Stables will pay the $100,000 fee to supplement the 20 length winner of the Kentucky Oaks into next Saturday's Preakness where she will face colts for the first time. Jackson also announced that her regular rider, Calvin Borel, will be aboard "Rachel" in the Preakness as well as the rest of her races in 2009.

In accepting the mount on Rachel Alexandra jockey Calvin Borel, who rode her to victory in the Kentucky Oaks and the next day guided Mine That Bird to a stunning win at 50/1 in the Kentucky Derby, will become the first jockey to ever win the Derby and then take off that horse to ride a different horse in the Preakness. Borel said "I have no choice, she is the best horse I have ever ridden."

Mine That Bird's trainer, Chip Woolley, said he understands the decision by Borel and he has talked with several jockeys about picking up the mount. However, he will wait to name a replacement until Rachel Alexandra actually passes the entry box for the race.

The field for the 134th Preakness is starting to take shape. In addition to Mine That Bird and Rachel Alexandra, other confirmed starters for the Preakness include, Musket Man (3rd in the Derby), Papa Clem (4th in the Derby), General Quarters (10th in the Derby), Flying Private (19th in the Derby), Big Drama (2nd in the Swale Stakes), Hull (winner of the Derby Trial), Take The Points (4th in the Santa Anita Derby) and Terrain (4th in the Blue Grass).

Derby starters, Pioneerof The Nile (2nd in the Derby) and Fresian Fire (18th in the Derby) are currently listed as probable Preakness starters. Two horses listed as possible starters are Conservative (2nd in the Lexington Stakes) and Tone It Down (3rd in the Tesio Stakes). These two are the only horses listed here who are not currently at Pimlico or have a scheduled arrival date.

Terry's Horses To Watch For The Peter Pan Stakes

Saturday's 1 1/8 mile Grade II Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park serves as the track's major prep race for the Belmont Stakes which will be run on June 6th. A short field of seven will go postward on a track that has seen steady rain for a week although the forecast for the weekend is looking better.

Imperial Council
After a 2nd place in the Gothem and 5th in the Wood Memorial both behind I Want Revenge, the Shug McGaughey trained Imperial Council looks to have found a softer spot in the Peter Pan and looks like he could return to his winning ways. Edgar Prado keeps the mount.

Cheritable Man
This guy looked sensational last year breaking his maiden at Saratoga and then taking the Belmont Futurity in the fall over an off track before being sidelined with a knee injury. After the winter off, his connections decided to take a shot at getting into the Derby by running in the Blue Grass stakes but he was no factor in there. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has been very high on him and he could be dangerous in his second off a layoff.

Al Khali
He shipped to the US from Peru and immediately won a NW1 Allowance at Gulfstream under John Velasquez before a disaster in the Illinois Derby where he gave way badly. He has been working well since that race and trainer Todd Pletcher is keeping him at the same level. Johnny V gets back aboard so we will see if he is for real.

Hello Broadway
He ran 2nd as the favorite in the Grade II Hutcheson at Gulfstream and looked like a Derby contender. He then turned in a dull 7th place performance in the Tampa Bay Derby before winning a NW1 Allowance in his last at Keeneland under Garret Gomez. He is sporting a bullet work over the Belmont track last Sunday and Gomez will again be back on board for trainer Barclay Tagg.

Einstein's Next Start In Stephen Foster

Trainer Helen Pitts announced today that the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap, to be run at Churchill Downs on June 13, will be the next start for multiple graded stakes winner Einstein who recently won the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the Derby under card.

Einstein has Grade I wins on turf and synthetic surfaces but he has still to win a Grade I on the dirt. Trainer Helen Pitts said that Churchill Downs, where Einstein is based and where he took down the Grade II Clark Handicap last fall, seemed to be the logical place for him to try to get his first Grade I win on dirt. It is believed that Lava Man is the only horse ever to have Grade I wins over all three surfaces.

After wins in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap and the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic to bring his lifetime earings to $2.6 Million, Einstein was named the top horse in training ahead of the likes of Well Armed, who won the $6 Million Dubai World Cup in his last start, the undefeated super mare Zenyatta, and three year old filly sensation Rachel Alexandra.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rachel Alexandra Sold, Moves To Asmussen Barn

Rachel Alexandra, winner of the Kentucky Oaks, was sold following the race to Stonestreet Stables. Stonestreet owner Jess Jackson, who is the owner of Curlin, confirmed that the fabulous filly has been moved to the barn of trainer Steve Asmussen.

Under previous trainer, Hal Wiggins, the filly had won five straight races, including her dominating 20 length victory in the Oaks. Rachel Alexandra was being originally pointed to the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park on June 6th but after the move, trainer Steve Asmussen announced that there is no timetable for the filly's next race but left open the possibility that "Rachel" may actually be a starter in the Preakness.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mine That Bird Wins the Kentucky Derby in a Shocker

Churchill Downs
Saturday, May 2

Join In the Dance set the pace followed closely by Regal Ransom until the head of the stretch. Pioneerof The Nile had been stalking the pace throughout and took the lead at the beginning of the stretch. It certainly looked like the decision of jockey Garret Gomez to ride him was a winning one as they headed for home.

Chocolate Candy made a nice move at the head of the stretch and Mike Smith had him in a great position as they emerged from traffic on the turn. Summer Bird mounted a like rally but 7 wide was too much to overcome. Both faded down the stretch to finish 5th and 6th.

Musket Man and Papa Clem moved into a position to challenge with six wide and five wide moves on the turn and were closing on Pioneerof the Nile to where it looked at the 1/8th pole like it would be a thrilling three horse finish.

Then, out of nowhere came Mine That Bird and jockey Calvin Borel who went from last to advance along the rail in a ride that looked very much like the trip Borel made with Street Sense to win this race two years ago. They had moved into contention at the 1/8th pole and then Borel moved Mine That Bird through a very tight spot along the rail before they rapidly pulled away to win the 135th Run For The Roses. Pioneerof The Nile held on in a tight photo for place to be 2nd as he edged out Musket Man by a half nose who finished 3rd. Papa Clem was a half length back in 4th.

The 6 3/4 length margin was the largest margin of victory since Assault won by 8 lengths in 1946. The payoff of $103.20 at odds of 50/1 was the second largest payoff in Derby history behind the $184.90 payoff by Donerail in 1913. Jockey Calvin Borel, who won the Kentucky Oaks with Rachel Alexandra the day before, became the first jockey since 1993 to win the Oaks and Derby in the same year.

How the other "Terry's Horses To Watch" finished in the Derby:
I Want Revenge became the first morning line favorite to scratch on Derby Day as he was scratched just hours before the race when trainer Jeff Mullins detected an inflammation on the colt's left front ankle. The injury was not considered to be career ending. His sire, the great A.P. Indy, was also scratched the morning of the Derby.

Dunkirk, my top pick, lost all chance when he stumbled and went to his knees shortly after coming out of the gate and after never really finding a comfortable spot in the race, he finished 11th. This kept trainer Todd Pletcher's Derby streak in tact and it now stands at 0-24 after not winning with any of three horses in this race.

Fresian Fire went off the favorite in what is said to be trainer Larry Jones final attempt to win this race as he plans to retire at the end of the year. He clipped heels shortly out of the gate and encountered a cut on his hind leg. After that he was not urged on by jockey Gabriel Saez and finished 18th. The trainer said the colt's status for the Preakness was uncertain at this time.

General Quarters was in traffic trouble at several points in the race and finished 10th. His trainer, Tom McCarthy, said the horse never showed who he was and he came back to the barn choking in mud.

Hold Me Back made a big move on the backstretch to come as close to the lead as 5th before fading to 12th. Jockey Kent Desormeaux said his horse was more tired than he should have been and maybe he was just struggling with the sloppy track.

Regal Ransom pressed the pace to the head of the stretch as mentioned and then faded to 8th. Jockey Alan Garcia said he ran his race and ran really hard.

Desert Party, the second of the two Godolphin horses, was close to the leaders in the early part of the race but stopped badly. Jockey Ramon Dominguez said that he found himself with no horse at the 5/8th pole and the horse never really finished up. They finished 14th.

For Mine That Bird, it was a very improbable win in the world's most prestigious race. Trainer Chip Wooley drove the horse to Louisville in a 21 hour van trip from his home base at Sunland Park in New Mexico. In 2009, the horse had finished 2nd and 4th in two non graded races at Sunland Park after a dismal 12th place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in his final 2008 start last October. He qualified for this race earlier last October at Woodbine in Toronto by winning the Grade 3 Grey Stakes which was his only graded earnings but it was enough to make the Derby field in a year when the contenders were scratching one after another due to injury.

Trainer Wooley said he had no plans to run this horse in the Derby but when a spot opened up, the owner wanted to race because from where they play this game you do not normally get another chance to run in the Derby. Mine That Bird is the first gelding to win the Derby since Funny Cide in 2003. Now, he is the only horse of the roughly 40,000 foals of 2006 who has a chance to win a Triple Crown.

In the race before the Derby, Einstein advanced his current status as the best older horse in training by winning the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic by a head over hard running Cowboy Cal who finished finished 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Court Vision who finished 3rd.

Next, it is on to Baltimore and the Preakness on Saturday, May 16.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Rachel Alexandra Wins Big In Kentucky Oaks

Churchill Downs
Friday, May 1

Dolphus Morison's Rachel Alexandra, ridden by Calvin Borel, destroyed the rest of the field in the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks. Borel kept "Rachel" in a stalking position just off front running Gabby's Golden Gal from the start of the race until the middle of the final turn. Then, Borel asked her to go and it was all over as Rachel Alexandra blew by the front runner and on to an easy 20 length victory for her fifth straight win.

Now the debate is on as to whether or not they should have run her in the Derby against the boys as she likely would have been very competitive in that race.