Wild and Intense Weekend in Horse Racing!

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horse racing

This past weekend was the start to the Championship Series and a pivotal point on the road to the Kentucky Derby. Contenders are starting to emerge and slowly revealing themselves, as each prep win is now worth a whopping 50 points. Most 3-year olds at this time are stretching out from 1 to 2 turns for the first time, as well as facing much larger fields.

Post position and traffic problems can affect an inexperienced horse, but each race is a stepping-stone to learning, growing and gaining the experience that is needed to make it to the first Saturday in May .

The Risen Star Stakes and the Fountain of Youth started off the series with both winners exemplifying a “fighting spirit” to the very end!  Re-watching both races will leave you on the edge of your seat with spine-chilling finishes that will leave you wanting more. It’s just the start to new beginnings as we experience these young colts develop into pure competitors, and amazing athletes.

But Wait, there’s more!

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Horse Racing…Fillies On The Turf…

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horseracing

Great weather, and firm turf is in the forecast for tomorrow at Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, Kentucky. The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup S. – Grade 1 has a competitive field of 9 talented fillies going a distance of one-eighth mile on turf. This is an important prep race to the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf which will be held at Santa Anita Race Track on Saturday, November 2nd.

This race was first inaugurated on October 11, 1984 in honor of English Royalty Queen Elizabeth II who was in attendance for this first race. The time record for this race at the current one-eighth mile distance was set my Memories of Silver in 1996.  Her daughter Winter Memories ran this race back in 2011. She was went off as the favorite at 7-5, but unfortunately came in 4th with filly Together winning this race.

Please meet the field for the Running of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup S. – Grade 1:

Post 1 – Sarach Trainer – R. Mandella Jockey – M. Garcia ML – 10-1

Post 2 – Say (IRE) Trainer – A. O’Brien Jockey – J. Graham ML – 10-1

Post 3 – Caroline Thomas Trainer – B. Tagg Jockey – R. Napravnik ML–12-1

Post 4 – Alterite (FR) Trainer – C. Brown Jockey – J. Velazquez ML – 9-5

Post 5 – Emotional Kitten Trainer – W. Ward Jockey – G. Gomez ML – 6-1

Post 6 – Concise Trainer – G. Motion Jockey – E. Prado ML – 12-1

Post 7 – Kitten’s Dumplings Trainer – M. Maker Jockey – J. Leparoux ML– 3-1

Post 8 – Leigh Court Trainer – J. Carroll Jockey – G. Boulanger ML – 10-1

Post 9 – I’m Already Sexy Trainer – W. Catalano Jockey – F. Geroux ML – 8-1

Here are several things to keep in mind for this race.  Brisnet.com forms are a great resource for obtaining useful information:

  • There are 5 fillies within this race whom are already graded stakes winners, so this race really looks wide open; with very attractive odds on some great fillies
  • Owner/Trainer Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey + “Kitten Horses” + Keeneland + Turf is hard to ignore. They have both Emotional Kitten and Kitten’s Dumplings in this race
  • Don’t ignore Julien Leparoux + Keenland + Turf
  • If you are about speed, there is only 1 filly in this race that has posted numbers above 100, and she’s done it twice. I’m Really Sexy posted a Brisnet speed score of 101; also at one-eighth mile going wire to wire in the G-3 Pucker Up on September 14th, which is the best turf speed amongst the competition. She also posted a sharp workout on October the 6th as well as a bullet workout going on September 26th . She has improved in numbers from her last race in rating as well as in class. She’ll be one of the speed fillies in this race so she’ll have company along side Sarach from Post 1, and “speedster” Leigh Court in Post 8. Leigh Court is another filly who also won her last race going wire to wire. She is moving up in class from her last start (this will be harder competition), but has had a very sharp bullet workout on October the 4th . Her speed ratings meet the speed par of this race; which is 95. She could be another filly that once she runs, you’ll have to catch her
  • Closers Kitten’s Dumplings and Caroline Thomas will need an honest pace to get a piece of “victory pie”. Pace will definitely make the race
  • Say – Blinker on. She also ran 6 days ago in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes at Belmont Park, finishing 6th on “yielding” turf. Weather was extremely bad; she did make a move on the backstretch going 3 wide before letting up so this may indicate current form. She has run back on a week’s rest in the past, and has done well each time so this should not be a problem. Her Brisnet Speed score of 88 could be pardoned since last week’s weather was rainy and the turf was yielding. What is interesting, is her connections did the same scenario with “Together”, who won this race 2 years ago after making her American debut against elder females in the First Lady. She came in 2nd, and a week later ran in the QE II and won the race paying $11.20 to win. Will ‘Say’ be able to follow with the same success? She’s a multiple graded stakes winner back in Europe, and “added” blinkers could improve her run. Her mother, Riskaverse won this race in 2002
  • Morning line favorite Alterite a European shipper won her first race in the US in the Garden City – Grade 1 on September 16th at Belmont Park. She’s also a graded stakes winner in Europe and leaves us wondering if her form will stay consistent in the US. Still tough to say since she could need a couple more starts to figure her out. High jockey + 33% trainer + 2nd time lasix + 94 Brisnet Speed rating. This morning line favorite is one filly difficult to ignore
  • Caroline Thomas reunites with one of the best female jockeys of all time, Rosie Napravnik, a plus for this filly. Caroline Thomas’s mother, Bit of Whimsy won this race back in 2007
  • Emotional Kitten has improved numbers in race rating, and class rating from her last race. She is the only filly who has won at Keeneland, while breaking her maiden over the main course. 24% Trainer: Shipper + Hot Jockey + One of the best turf speeds + finished 3rd in last race. She has not won a graded stakes yet, but she has ran second to Del Mar Oaks winner Discreet Marq and American Oaks winner Emollient. She could be in striking position if the leaders falter and like I previously said, a “Kitten” horse on turf, at Keeneland… watch out!

It’s a great field of talented fillies good luck to everyone!

Seeking the LAST Pot of Gold: Hollywood Gold Cup

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The last pot of gold will be up for grabs tomorrow at Betfair Hollywood Park best known as, “The Track of Lakes and Flowers”. There is much to be sentimental about since this will be the last stirring of the pot. The 75-year-old track is scheduled to be closing down once the autumn season ends and racing will no longer continue.

With hardly any pace in the race, and a short field of just 5; Game On Dude is seeking a repeat victory. Although anything can surely happen in horse racing, its anticipated that Game On Dude under hall of fame jockey Mike Smith should dictate the pace from the early start, coast to the lead and go gate to wire.  We’ll be able to see just how great he is since his last race was two and half months ago, and he will be carrying a career high of 127.  Going a distance of a mile and a quarter, there can always be surprises when the “real” running begins. He will be tough to beat, but there may be a couple of players that could get in the way of his re-peat victory. The only horse I see pushing Game On Dude early in the race is uncoupled barnmate Sky Kingdom, which is Bob Baffert’s “other” horse. He does have the pedigree to go a mile and a quarter, and did show flash speed in his last two races, but his speed figures may not match up to Game On Dude. On a positive note, he did win a marathon 2 races back, and you can cross out his last race when he bombed going on turf for the first time. He’s had a nice bullet work on 6/30 and has had some other great workouts. With a ML of 8-1, he could be a major upset. Clubhouse Ride has been beaten by Game On Dude 3 straight times, coming in second, but he does get an 8 pound break. He’s speed rating has progressed from his last race, and he’s third off the lay-off.  I’d consider him a legitimate upset.

Here are several fun facts to share about the Hollywood Gold Cup:

  • The very first Gold Cup was held on July 16, 1938 when the great Seabiscuit, under jockey George Woolf won the race going away. This was his one and only appearance at *Hollywood Park

Let me take you back to 1938, when Seabiscuit helps put *Hollywood Race Track on the map. Please  CLICK HERE  to see the great Seabiscuit win, going away!  Courtesy: YouTube Video – cf1970

  • 1942 and 1943, there were no races at *Hollywood Park. The race track was closed and used as an airplane parts storage depot during WWII
  • In 1949, The Hollywood meet was hosted at Santa Anita Race Track due to a fire that destroyed the grandstand and clubhouse a few weeks before the opening of the meet. That year, a horse named Solidarity won the Gold Cup
  • In 1951, in the final race of his career the great Citation won the Gold Cup
  • Affirmed, the last colt to win the Triple Crown, won the 1979 Gold Cup. Later that year he went off to win Santa Anita Handicap
  • Lava Man has won 3 consecutive Gold Cups (2005, 2006, 2007), who followed in the footsteps of Native Diver (1965, 1966, 1967). Watch Lava Man’s amazing win in the 2005 Hollywood Gold Cup. He is going to open up and run away, winning by about 9 lengths!

Courtesy of YouTube: cf1970

  • A colt named Quack set the track and world record on dirt for 1 1/4 miles in the 1972 Gold Cup with a time of: 1:58.20. In 2009 Gold Cup, Rail Trip set the record on a synthetic track, finishing in 2:00.75
  • The smallest Gold Cup field in history was only 4 horses in 1999.  Real Quiet, also called “The Fish” clinched the Gold Cup victory that year
  • In 2012, Chantel Sutherland aboard Game on Dude was the first female to win the Gold Cup
  • The infamous Lava Man, now 12 years old is still active on the track as a stable pony for Doug O’Neill’s barn, and will be leading the post parade for this year’s Gold Cup. Lava Man was a grade I winner on three surfaces (dirt, synthetic, grass) at *Hollywood Park

*In the Spring/Summer meet of 2012, the track once known as Hollywood Race track opened up under the new name Betfair Hollywood Park

Yes! A filly in the Belmont…

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In the 145 year history of the Belmont Stakes 23 fillies have entered into the Belmont Stakes in hopes for victory, and to be draped with a blanket of white carnations. Only 3 fillies have accomplished this amazing feat and whose names have been written in the history books as simple amazing.  The very first Belmont Stakes in 1867 was won by a filly named Ruthless, in 1905 a filly named Tanya, and then 102 years later in 2007 Todd Pletcher’s captures the win aboard Rags to Riches.  Only 3 gutsy fillies have done it, and the question is: Will history be made in this year’s Belmont Stakes; with the first female jockey, and a filly named Unlimited Budget? 

Fillies to place in Belmont Stakes
Year, Filly, Finish
1867, Ruthless, 1st
1868, Fanny Ludluw, 3rd
1869, Invercauld, 3rd
1870, Midday, 3rd
1905, Tanya, 1st
1913, Flying Fairy, 3rd
1927, Flambino, 3rd
1980, Genuine Risk, 2nd
1996, My Flag, 3rd
2007, Rags to Riches, 1st

*Courtesy of Bloodhorse.com, Article: Unlimited Budget will get her shot at history

The news was confirmed yesterday that Unlimited Budget will indeed be running with the boys! This awesome addition always adds excitement to see a filly in the race. Now add the top female jockey, Rosie Napravnik we just “Kicked It Up a Notch”! Check out my article called, “100 Oak Points”, which shares my thoughts on the new Derby Points System and explains about the eligibility to run in the Kentucky Derby.  Fillies that were graded stakes winner like Unlimited Budget; were unable to partake in this year’s running of the Kentucky Derby with this very specialized point system. There are fans for the new system, as well as others that are not too thrilled. The opportunities just were not there to see the true potential of some amazing fillies in this year’s three year old crop. Shut out, before shipping out! Like anything in life, I hate to say it; at times the measurement of a female’s ability is  how good she stands against her male counterpart. A horse can be a considered a super filly, but can she shine amongst a group of top 3-year old colts? A filly can be great, but once proven…She goes into that “unbelievable” category.

In an article on Bloodhorse’s website , Owner Mike Repole said, “Unlimited Budget’s physical size and her mental maturity gave him the confidence that the Street Sense filly would fare well against the males.  She’ll be one of the larger horses in the race.”  The first time he set eyes on her, he thought she was a colt. “She is as big and tall, if not bigger, than many of these colts”.

She has the running style that will fare well in this race as she will be stalking the pace from mid-range and her speed scores are very comparable to her male counterparts. Out of a lifetime of 5 races, she was 3rd in her last race the G-I Kentucky Oaks and won her 4 previous races which consist of two G-2 races, and a G-3 race.  Add to her resume, triple digit Brisnet speed scores on her last two races  She had a sharp 4f bullet work: 47.2 – 1/46 on June the 2nd, and had a couple of other good works at Belmont.

Can this female duo outsmart, outlast and outrun the boys?  We’ll find the answer in the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes.

Good luck to Rosie Napravnik and Graded Stakes winner, Unlimited Budget = GIRL POWER!

Unlimited Riches; Will A Filly Run In The Belmont Stakes?

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Lets all go back 6 years, to 2007 when a filly named Rags to Riches dominated the boys in the final quest to the last jewel of the Triple Crown.  It was a monstrous feat to outlast the almighty Curlin but Rags to Riches prevailed, and become the first filly since 1905 to win the Belmont Stakes.

I can faintly hear the echoes of Tom Durkins’ thrilling race-call as the horses are running toward the top of the stretch, “A filly is in the front of the Belmont, but Curlin is right there with her.  These two in the “Battle of the Sexes” in the Belmont Stakes. It is Curlin on the inside, and Rags to Riches on the outside in a desperate finish. Rags to Riches and Curlin they’re coming down to the wire. It’s going to be close… and it’s going to be a filly in the Belmont! Rags to Riches has beaten Curlin and a 100 years of Belmont history. The first filly to win it in a century!”

What an exciting feat for Todd Pletcher’s first “Classic”,  win with a filly in the Belmont!

June 8th will be the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes, and with no Triple Crown on the line there is still much suspense brewing in the air with Todd Pletcher’s filly possibly running in the most challenging leg of the Triple Crown.  Decision to run her is still not 100%, but after turning in a sharp half-mile in:  47 2/5 this morning and galloping out five furlongs in 1:00 in company with Capo Bastone, Todd Pletcher estimates her chances of running in the Belmont as 80-90%. In a recent article from Bloodhorse website, Pletcher was very happy with how she worked as she seemed enthusiastic, and did not have to be asked or encouraged at any point. He plans to confirm with Owner Mike Repole at the end of the day whether the filly will run in the race.  Her connections have been debating on whether to run her in the Belmont Stakes against the boys, or go against top filly Dreaming of Julia in the Grade I- Mother Goose on June 22nd.

Now if she does run in the Belmont, will she be able to emulate Todd Pletcher’s “only” Belmont win with Rags to Riches?  Inquiring minds want to know:  Can the only filly in the race beat a tough field of male contenders? Does she have the tenacity that Rags to Riches had? Does she have the pedigree to go a mile and a half? Will this finally be the year that Todd Pletcher adds another Belmont win to his resume? Who is this filly, and what do we need to know about her?

Her name is Unlimited Budget.  She is a stunning 3 -year old filly, out of the 2010 Kentucky Derby and Preakness 2nd place winner, Street Sense- Unlimited Appeal, by Valid Appeal. She was bred in Florida, out of Ocala Stud. Her name refers to what Owner, Mike Repole regretfully told his wife about her spending limit for their new home after selling his company Glaceau, maker of Vitaminwater and Smart water, to Coca-Cola for $4.1. “You’ve got an unlimited budget with this house.” What a perfect name!

She’s a big Street Sense filly, and although there is some concern from her female family, which is more predominately speed-oriented, her sire’s line is bred for stamina.

In another article in Blood Horse website, when comparing Unlimited Budget to his 2007 Belmont Stakes winner, Rags to Riches this is what Todd Pletcher had to say, “The bottom side of her pedigree isn’t as deep in stamina as Rags to Riches. The biggest thing about Rags to Riches pedigree is that she is so stoutly bred. She was sired out of a Belmont winner , A.P. Indy and being a half sister to a Belmont winner, Jazil”.   So there is little concern, but on the positive side Unlimited Budget has already won at a mile and a sixteenth twice this year, and has also won going at a mile and an eighth as a 2-year old so going longer in distance, should not be a major problem.  Her speed figures also match up to the colts she would be going up against; so she seems to fit into the mix.

Add the top female jockey to the equation, and you could possibly have a winning combination. Rosie Napravnik is likely to ride Unlimited Budget, and will attempt to become the only female rider to win the Belmont since Julie Krone in 1993, aboard Colonial Affair.  Having a female duo in a male dominated race is always exciting, as it gets the female bettors more involved in the sports betting.

Lets hope Unlimited Budget runs with the boys, and shows the sport what she is all about.  In Mike Repole’s words, “She’s not only Unlimited Budget; I think she has unlimited potential too”.