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!

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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”.

100 Oak Points…

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There has been a lot of buzz about the new Derby Point System. A point system I am not crazy about. I feel there needs to be some tweaking in the adjustment of how this point system chooses who is qualified for the top 20 spots in the Kentucky Derby. In the past, the field was based on earnings rather than points earned in specific races. Fillies that had enough earnings had an opportunity to run for the roses if their connections felt they were fit and ready.

However, with the new points system, the only opportunity for a filly to earn points toward the Kentucky Derby is to run against the colts in major prep races. Plans most trainers and owners do not consider early on in the season. As Bloodstock Agent John Moynihan states:  “With the timing of (the Derby), you don’t really consider it until the last minute. You want to see how the cards fall; there are so many different scenarios that come into play. You’ve got to look at the quality of the colts out there and how well they’re doing and also the quality of the Oaks. (Courtesy of Bloodhorse article: Oaks Owners Weigh In on Derby Points System).

In the past great fillies have faced the boys, and triumphed with success. Out of 38 fillies that ran in the Kentucky Derby, 3 have gone off to win:  Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980) and Winning Colors (1988).

Of course it’s interesting to ponder on what could have been, as this year’s Kentucky Oaks has a group of strong contenders. Bob Baffert in an interview with Bloodhorse said that this is the most competitive Oaks he has ever been in. The field has a lot of fast fillies, and this year’s competition is fierce. So why not have the new Derby Point System allow any filly with 100 Oak points or more; become eligible to “consider” the Derby. If this were the case, this would have given the following fillies the option of running in the Kentucky Derby:

1 Beholder 164 Richard   Mandella Spendthrift Farm
2 Rose   to Gold 164 Sal Santoro Kathleen Amaya and   Raffaele Centrofanti
3 Unlimited   Budget 160 Todd Pletcher Repole Stable
4 Dreaming   of Julia 132 Todd Pletcher Repole Stable
5 Close   Hatches 100 Bill Mott Juddmonte Farms

Courtesy of: Kentuckyderby.com/oaks/leaderboard)

There are a lot of pros and cons to consider for every horse entered into the Derby, but having a filly in the race does add excitement for racing fans. The handle gets a piece, the filly and its connections get exposure, female race fans will get some action on the filly. It’s a win/win situation for everyone.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every filly is just as good as this year’s crop of 3-year old colts. The message I’d like to convey is there “could be” an exceptional filly out there that will not have the opportunity to “measure her brilliance” by running against the boys.  I understand with a new process there is always room for adjustments as the process itself unveils what works, and what could be improved. The final goal is providing the opportunity for the best 20 horses to make it to the gates the first Saturday in May. Who wouldn’t want a talented filly in the most prestigious race in America?  In my opinion this current process is passing up on some truly talented fillies.

This year’s Kentucky Oaks is full of “Girl Power”, and lots of it.  Dreaming of Julia, I’d call her a freak definitely would give these boys a run for their money. Her final time for the Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr.II) on March 30th was 1:48.97. She ran nearly two seconds faster than the boys who ran in the Florida Derby later that same day. The winner- Orb’s final winning time was 1:50.87. I’m a huge fan of Orb, and I think he is a very talented colt.

Churchill Down’s should really consider adjusting its’ point system to allow filly’s the opportunity to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. How awful would it be if the great Zenyatta was unable to participate in the Breeder’s Cup Classic?  We would have missed that memorable opportunity to have the first female horse to win this competitive race. Rachel Alexandra not only beat the boys in the 2009 Preakness, but that same year she went off to also beat “older boys” in the Haskell and the Woodward.

With the right horse, the right connections, and the right timing many talented female horses will be missing out on the chance to become a part of racing history.

What’s In A Name…

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“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as Sweet “

Ahhhh…  A famous dialog within Romeo and Juliet, written by William Shakespeare himself.

Names are special and unique. Often, associated with a memory, a family member, or a special place. It’s always interesting to find out the story behind a name.

You may wonder what’s in a name of some of this year’s Kentucky Derby Oaks contenders. We are fortunate to have a great article written in Bloodhorse’s “Beyond the Blinkers“,

An excellent article written by Esther Marr you can find out how some of these special fillies got their names.