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January 12, 2013, 2:46 PM   ** KENTUCKY DERBY 2013 FUTURE WAGER DATES ARE SET **     

  Posted BY Johnny Brennan
  Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:


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Vyjack Moves up NY's Kentucky Derby Rankings

Posted BY Johnny Brennan
Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:


With the running of Saturday’s Jerome Handicap (G2) at Aqueduct the 2013 New York Derby Trail officially began. Vyjack remained unbeaten in three starts when he won the hard fought race for trainer Rudy Rodriguez. The Kentucky-bred son of Into Mischief increased his earnings to $202,200.Free Kentucky Oaks & Kentucky Derby Picks|Selections | May 3 and 4, 2013 only at Kentuckyderby-Horseracing.com Kentucky Derby - Horse Racing / Kentucky Derby Picks / Derby 139 / 2013 Kentucky-Derby / May 3, 2013 @ KentuckyDerby-HorseRacing.com

After the race Rodriguez was very happy with the effort of the gelding. “He’s very game, very game. He showed us in the morning that he’s that way. He’s got a lot of talent.”

The game effort in the Jerome, in which Vyjack earned a BSF of 90, is described in detail in the Daily Racing Form chart as Vyjack and the leader Siete de Oros battled down the stretch. “Vyjack entered the stretch under encouragement appearing to trail that rival [Siete de Oros] by a sliver, battled on with vigor, with the frontrunners leaning upon each other for a brief period of time in the furlong grounds, got bumped and carried out by the runner-up in the stretch, but fought back gamely to reclaim the lead and prove best.”

Rodriguez talked about what’s next for Vyjack. “We’ll back off him and wait for the Gotham. He’s going to jog for a few weeks. We are very comfortable waiting for the Gotham.”

The trainer was being a bit cautious about the future of Pick Six Racing’s Derby prospect. “Let’s hope he’s a Derby horse, maybe it’s too early to know. We have to think big.”

Since at this point Vyjack has no Road to the Derby qualifying points, the Gotham (G3) to be run at Aqueduct on March 3, will be a critical race. The Gotham is part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series where the races carry points of 50-20-10-5 for the top four finishers. Vyjack is going to need to get a top two finish to have serious Derby aspirations.

Also in the Jerome, Mudflats, the recent purchase by Team Doug O’Neill, contented for the early lead and faded to finish seventh. The regally bred Darley runner, Long River ran evenly and finished fourth.

Other changes in the New York Derby Trail Top Contender list are the addition of another runner for Todd Pletcher in Verrazano, and for Kiaran McLaughlin Maleeh won at first asking at Aqueduct as I sit writing this article.

    


     January 12, 2013, 2:46 PM   ** KENTUCKY DERBY 2013 FUTURE WAGER DATES ARE SET **     

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Dates Set
Kentucky Derby Future Wager Dates Set
BY JOHNNY BRENNAN

The dates for the 2013 Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools have been released. The three pools lead up to the 139th Run for the Roses on Saturday, May 4 at Churchill Downs.

"We were very encouraged by the strength of our Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools in 2012," said Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery.

The first Future Wager will be held 12 weeks ahead of the Derby from Feb. 8-10. Three weeks later, March 1-3, the second pool will be conducted and the final pool, March 22-24, will be held six weeks in advance of the Run for the Roses. All pools extend from Friday through Sunday with a Kentucky Oaks Future Wager taking place the same dates as the middle Derby Future Wager.

"We think and hope that there will be continued growth in interest in both races," Flanery said, "as racing fans of all types and skill levels follow the new point systems for the 'Road to the Kentucky Derby' and 'Road to the Kentucky Oaks' that will for the first time determine which horses will compete in those races. We believe that the curiosity about the new Derby and Oaks eligibility systems could shine a brighter-than-usual spotlight on the preps leading up to both races and both Future Wagers could benefit from growing fan interest and expanded media coverage."

I'll Have Another won the 2012 Kentucky Derby at odds of 15-1, but was 29-1, 22-1 and 21-1 for the three respective Future Wager pools last year.

 

GOLDENCENTS IS NOW THE NEW DERBY POINTS LEADER

  Posted: 01/12/2013 12:52 PM
   BY Johnny Brennan
   Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:
SOME  A field of at least seven 3-year-olds now seems definite for the $1 million WOOD MEMORIAL on APRIL 7,2012 led by division leader Union Rags and El Padrino.


GOLDENCENTS IS NOW THE NEW DERBY POINTS LEADER

Goldencents completed a sweep of Saturday's major three-year-old stakes the son of Into Mischief with a workmanlike score in the Grade 3, $100,000 Sham at Santa Anita. Favored at 2-5 in a field of five, Goldencents caught leg-weary pacesetter Manando inside the final furlong and drew off to a 1 1/2 -length victory under Kevin Krigger.

The victory by Goldencents on Saturday came shortly after that of Vyjack, a gelded son of Into Mischief, in the Grade 2 Jerome at Aqueduct.

Goldencents rated in second, one length behind Manando, through splits of :23, :46 1/5 and 1:10. Asked for his bid approaching the quarter pole, Goldencents was still a half-length behind but gaining after seven furlongs, and went on to stop the clock in 1:36 2/5 for the one-mile contest. He paid $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10. With this Sham stakes victory Goldencents(24 points) now overtakes Shanghia Bobby
(20 points) as the new points leader for the 139th Kentucky Derby, May 4th 2013. To read more about the new and some what complicated 2013 Kentucky Derby points system click here


New York Cuts Race Purses in Effort to Increase Horse Safety

New York Lasix Ban on the Way.

One Important News Note:

The New York Racing Association placed two senior executives on leave Monday (5-3-12) while an investigation is conducted into whether New York state racetracks knowingly withheld millions of dollars due to NY bettors in recent months or years. The  senior executives were Charles Hayward, NYRA?s president, and Patrick Kehoe, its general counsel.

The New York agency that oversees horse racing in the state of NY on Monday limited the size of the purses offered in races involving cheaper race horses. It acknowledged that fattened purses, many of them being offered at racetracks where casinos had been opened in recent years, had created a dangerous incentive to push sore or unfit horses onto the track.

The agency, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, said racetracks could not offer purses greater than twice the assigned value of the horses running in any claiming races, the less glamorous races that make up the backbone of the daily programs at many tracks.

?We are taking significant action today to address the significant challenges facing horse racing, in New York State and the Country ,? John D. Sabini, the chairman of the NY Racing and Wagering Board, said. ?There are serious and valid concerns about the safety of racehorses and their riders. The emergency rule we are enacting today creates a more equal and safer playing field in thoroughbred racing in New York state, eliminating the enticement for owners and trainers to put underperforming horses in races where they are pushed beyond their physical capacity.?

Sabini said the board, the governing body for racing in New York, would also consider banning the race day use of Lasix, a drug meant to limit bleeding in racehorses that has been a staple of racing in the United States for decades.

?The Board?s consideration of changing its raceway drug policies starts a conversation whose time has come,? Sabini said.

The board made its announcement on the same day that The New York Times published an investigation that showed how richer purses had created an incentive for trainers to run unsound horses, which may have contributed to the deaths of 30 horses at the recently completed meet at Aqueduct.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York had previously appointed a task force to investigate factors like prerace inspections, track conditions and what role drugs had played in the deaths and injuries of the horses.

?These actions are critical to ensure that the racing industry is safe for the horses, enjoyable for the patrons, and are essential to restore the integrity of the sport of horse racing in New York,? he said.

Revenue from the recently opened Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct had increased purses by about $130,000 a day at New York Racing Association tracks. At Aqueduct, horses with an assigned value of $7,500 had raced recently for a $40,000 purse. In that race, two horses broke down and had to be euthanized. Both had been given pain medication in the days before the race, records show," Recent extremely disturbing reports about mistreatment of racehorses make it abundantly clear that reform is needed,? said Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Resorts World Casino, which supported lowering the purses.

Still, the new rule falls short of the recommendation of a prominent veterinarians group, the American Association of Equine Practitioners. That organization says purses should be curtailed even more sharply to protect the welfare of the great numbers of horses that are sent to the gate week in and week out across the country. New York?s action came as a Congressional subcommittee met in Pennsylvania to take testimony as part of its continuing look at racing?s culture of drugs and lax regulation, and a breakdown rate for racehorses that far exceeds those in other countries.

In 2008, after a Kentucky Derby horse, Eight Belles, broke two ankles on national television and was euthanized, Congress extracted promises from the racing industry to make its sport safer. Unsatisfied by the industry?s efforts, Representatives Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania and Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, both Republicans, sponsored the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act of 2011, which would ban all drugs in a horse?s system on raceday, require drug testing labs to meet international standards for accreditation, and level strict penalties for rule violators to tracks and horsemen.

Two panels of owners, trainers, veterinarians and a former jockey gave testimony Monday.

?If there?s no raceday medication, you?d solve a lot of problems,? Gary Stevens, a retired Hall of Fame jockey, said.

He spoke of how he refused to ride in cheaper races and for certain trainers in California because he knew that they used drugs to mask the pain of sore horses. Stevens also said that he had ridden extensively in Hong Kong and Europe, where drugs were banned on raceday and penalties for violations were harsh. Stevens said that he never feared for his safety overseas.

?I never had a horse break down in these countries,? he said. ?It was pure and it was a pleasure.?

Dr. Greg Ferraro, the director at the veterinary school at the University of California-Davis, said he had made a mistake years ago when he advocated the widespread use of corticoid steroids and other powerful anti-inflammatory drugs like phenylbutazone to treat sore horses. At the time, he thought using such drug therapies would better protect vulnerable horses.

?It has not served the industry well,? he told the subcommittee. ?It has not served the horses well.?

One Important Note:

The New York Racing Association placed two senior executives on leave Monday 5-3-12 while an investigation is conducted into whether New York state racetracks knowingly withheld millions of dollars due to bettors in recent months. The executives were Charles Hayward, NYRA?s president, and Patrick Kehoe, its general counsel.

   Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:
SOME  A field of at least seven 3-year-olds now seems definite for the $1 million WOOD MEMORIAL on APRIL 7,2012 led by division leader Union Rags and El Padrino.

There were three Derby workouts on Saturday, none of which came at Churchill Downs. At Keeneland, Went the Day Well went six furlongs in 1:14.45 and galloped out seven-eighths in 1:28.04 under jockey John Velazquez.

?He?s not a flashy work horse, that?s him,? said Graham Motion, who trains Went the Day Well. ?That?s why I had Johnny work him, to make sure he got enough out of the work.?

At Laurel, Illinois Derby winner Done Talking breezed a half- mile in 49.64 seconds before galloping out five furlongs in 1:02.60 with his regular rider Sheldon Russell aboard. Trainer Hamilton Smith was pleased with Done Talking.

?He did it easy and came back to the barn bouncing,? Smith said. ?It was exactly what I was looking for. I am not worried too much about the time. We are going to do more with him next week.?

At Hollywood Park, Rousing Sermon drilled seven furlongs in 1:27.20.


In the most dominating performance seen in any of the major preps for the Kentucky Derby May 5,2012, Bodemeister ran away with Saturday?s Arkansas Derby by 9 1/2 lengths with a graceful, effortless victory , and more than likely will be favored to give Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert a fourth chance in the May 5 Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.

The Arkansas Derby was merely the fourth career start for the colt, whom owner Ahmed Zayat named after Baffert?s son, Bode. Hampered by shin problems as a 2-year-old, Bodemeister did not make his first appearance under silks until Jan. 16, so he?s come an incredibly long way in three months.

Bodemeister won the Arkansas Derby the hard way ? on the front throughout ? and did so in a style generally seen from much more experienced runners. A colt with a high cruising speed, and anytime push button acceleration Bodemeister ran the first two quarters of the Arkansas Derby in an amazing :23 and :23 2/5, before dialing it back a bit and getting a breather from jockey Mike Smith.

Despite subsequent quarters in :24 4/5 and :25 2/5, Bodemeister still held a comfortable advantage at the top of the stretch and was able to gradually extend his lead to the eighth pole. Having turned back his only real challenge, from stable mate Secret Circle, Bodemeister then blew the doors open in the final furlong, which he completed in a highly impressive :12. The final time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:48 3/5.  There's still no telling how good this colt really is..?
 

   BY Johnny Brennan
   Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:
SOME  A field of at least seven 3-year-olds now seems definite for the $1 million WOOD MEMORIAL on APRIL 7,2012 led by division leader Union Rags and El Padrino.

 

Keeneland and Oaklawn Park will share the spotlight this weekend with the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby. The Blue Grass turned into an afterthought in recent years, producing more Grade 1 turf winners than serious Triple Crown race prospects, but the Polytrack test has attracted a stellar field of 13 Saturday, including two-year-old champion Hansen. The Mike Maker-trained colt opened his racing career with a pair of eye-catching performances on Polytrack, winning both by double-digit margins, and the front runner displayed a new dimension last time in the Gotham, racing just off the speed before pouncing for a three-length score. Hansen could move into the favorite's role with another impressive win Saturday.

Dullahan captured the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last fall and exits a fast-finishing second in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes on turf. He's the likely second choice for Dale Romans. Palm Beach winner Howe Great is can't be overlooked for Graham Motion, reeling off four consecutive wins in advance of the Blue Grass, and improving Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby victor Prospective is proven on Woodbine's Polytrack.
Other notables include Heavy Breathing, who finished third as the favorite in the Grade 3 Spiral for Pletcher; Grade 2 Louisiana Derby upsetter Hero of Order; the speedy Scatman, runner-up in the Grade 3 Southwest and third in the Grade 2 Rebel; and a couple of unproven but potentially dangerous late-running longshots in Gung Ho and Holy Candy.

Bob Baffert will send out the top two choices in the Arkansas Derby in Bodemeister and Secret Circle.
Bodemeister is a late-starting but highly promising colt who finished second to Creative Cause when making his stakes debut in the San Felipe. The front runner picks up the services of Mike Smith and will be hustling from post 11 when the gates open. Secret Circle will look for a rare sweep of Oaklawn Park's graded stakes for three-year-olds following narrow wins in the Southwest and Rebel. Rafael Bejarano, who has also been the regular rider for Bodemeister, will stick with the ultra-game son of Eddington in his first start at 1 1/8 miles. Rebel runner-up Optimizer; Grade 3 Sunland Derby runner-up Isn't He Clever; Grade 3 Delta Jackpot hero Sabercat; and a pair of second-stringers from the Pletcher stable, Stat and Raconteur, will also line up for the closing-day feature.


Posted: 01/12/2013 12:52 PM
   BY Johnny Brennan

ARKANSAS, HOT SPRINGS Oaklawn Park has created a blockbuster Arkansas Derby card for 2012, with the Grade 1, $1 million derby to anchor an April 14 program that will also include the Grade 2, $350,000 Oaklawn Handicap, the Grade 3, $200,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, and the $100,000 Northern Spur.

In another significant change to the 34-race, $5.2 million stakes schedule, Oaklawn has kicked up the purse for the Grade 2 Rebel to $500,000. Part of the track?s series for 3-year-olds, the March 17 Rebel had been worth $300,000.

The 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby is the richest race of the meet and the highlight of the Racing Festival of the South, when Oaklawn puts on a cluster of major stakes over the final week of its meet. Oaklawn has condensed the 2012 festival from six to four days but will again run nine stakes during that period beginning with the Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy for 3-year-olds fillies on April 11.

Other festival events include the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles April 13.

?Our hope with the compressing of the Racing Festival is to make it more convenient to send horses to Hot Springs,? said David Longinotti, assistant general manager of racing for Oaklawn. ?Horsemen will be able to line up one plane, send several horses across a couple different divisions, and arrange to have their main riders come for all the races of the Festival.?

Oaklawn?s meet, which opens for a 56-date run on Jan. 13, gradually builds up to the closing-day Arkansas Derby. The track has three preps for the race, beginning with the $100,000 Smarty Jones at a mile Jan. 16. The Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest, also at a mile, follows Feb. 20. The Rebel, at 1 1/16 miles, is the final stepping-stone to the Arkansas Derby.


Posted BY Johnny Brennan
Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:

A report in the Daily Racing Form indicates that Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Hansen is likely to make his final Kentucky Derby prep in the G1-Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and not the G1-Wood Memorial. The Blue Grass is slated to run on April 14th, one week later than the Wood.

I'm not really surprised by the news from the Hansen camp today, as I thought that the Blue Grass would be a good final prep race for Hansen given his affinity for the surface and the proximity to Churchill Downs. We already know that he can run on dirt and at Churchill, and the colt has plenty of graded earnings under his belt which lessens the need for a big performance in his next race. The chief concern now for trainer Michael Maker is to get his colt in top physical condition heading into the first Saturday in May. A race over Keeneland's Polytrack surface isn't a bad way to attempt to build a bit more stamina into Hansen before the Derby.
 

Posted BY Johnny Brennan
Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:

No, this is not a misprint, 109-1 shot Hero of Order won the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II) April 1 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Favored Mark Valeski had every opportunity to win but could not close the deal in deep stretch, just hanging allowing lightly regarded Hero of Order to prevail by a half-length with Eddie Martin Jr. aboard for the first time on closing day of the 2011-12 season at the New Orleans track. Hero of Order paid an eye-popping $220.80, $79.80, and $25.40 across the board. Yes, It was a record win payoff for the Louisiana Derby.

Mark Valeski finished second by 1 1/2 lengths, with California invader Rousing Sermon rallying for third by a nose over Cigar Street.

Hero of Order came into the race with one win in 13 starts and raced for as little as $25,000 as a maiden claimer at Hawthorne last fall.

The winning son of Sharp Humor is trained by Russian-born former jockey Gennadi Dorochenko, who also owns the colt under the name Raut LLC. The dark bay sold for a whooping $3,000 as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2010. Wind Hill Farm bred Hero of Order, who is out of Ocean Sprite, by obscure sire Ocean Crest.

Hero of Order ran fourth in Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Feb. 25, beaten by six lengths, hardly an embarrassment. That race was won by El Padrino, who nosed out Mark Valeski, part of the 3-2 favored entry in this years Louisiana Derby. El Padrino came back to run a lackluster fourth in the Florida Derby (gr. I) on March 31.

In his start prior to the Louisiana Derby, Hero of Order finished second after setting the pace in the March 10 Black Gold Stakes at 7 1/2 furlongs on a yielding Fair Grounds turf course. He was disqualified and placed fourth, however, after drifting out late and causing interference.

It only took Hero of Order nine starts to break his maiden and he then went  right into stakes company, finishing fifth after pressuring the pace in the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 21. He has won twice in seven tries at Fair Grounds.

?We run horses together, Eddie (Martin) and me," said Dorochenko in reference to Martin. "I tell him exactly what (Hero of Order) wants to do; he do it and he win. Eddie is best jockey. We are around horses together, I give him chance. A lot of jockeys have ridden (Hero of Order) and everything but he do exactly what I tell him, he win race.

?You see, I brought not expensive horses but I make these horses expensive,? added Dorochenko, who has just won his first graded stakes race of his life.

Hero of Order completed the 1 1/8-mile Louisiana Derby in a slow time of 1:50.13 on a hot and sultry day in New Orleans. It's unlikely that Hero of Order is headed for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) since he is not nominated. It would cost $200,000 to nominate and he could only get into the field if less than the maximum 20 nominated horses are to be entered.

He was prominent throughout, racing second early while pushing the pacesetter Comisky's Humor through fractions of :23.39 and :47.27. Windsurfer and Cigar Street were also close to the leaders as Mark Valeski rated just behind on the outside in the field of 13 3-year-olds.

Hero of Order pulled his way to the lead on the somehow on the far turn, reaching the three-eighths pole in 1:11.55 and turned for home with the advantage over Cigar Street and the steadily advancing Mark Valeski.

Mark Valeski passed Cigar Street in the lane and had dead aim on Hero of Order to his inside as they reached mid-stretch with Hero of Order 1 1/2 lengths in front. However, Mark Valeski, under encouragement from Rosie Napravnik, could not reach even terms with Hero of Order, who was slowing down but still plugging away under strong right-handed urging from Martin. And that's the way they went right to the wire in front of a stunned Fair Grounds crowd.

"I was surprised I didn?t get pressured more than I did," said Martin after his first Louisiana Derby victory. "You know, I had my target in front of me and he just let me inherit the lead around the turn and off we went.?

Hero of Order earned $600,000 for the win, boosting his career bankroll to $657,277 with a record of 2-1-2 in 14 races.

With the field under equal weights of 122 pounds, he topped a $2 exacta of $491.80 with Mark Valeski, who returned $3.40 and $2.80 as part of a Brereton C. Jones-owned entry along with Lecomte winner Mr. Bowling. Rousing Sermon, fifth in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) in his most recent start for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, paid $4.60 to show and rounded out a $2 trifecta worth $7,812. The superfecta with second choice Cigar Street fourth was $16,326.20 for a $2 wager.

Shared Property was fifth, followed by Windsurfer, Afford, Z Dager, Fire Alarm, Finnegans Wake, Flashy Sunrise, Mr. Bowling, and Comisky's Humor. Arm Force was scratched.
 


Goldencents completed a sweep of Saturday's major three-year-old stakes the son of Into Mischief with a workmanlike score in the Grade 3, $100,000 Sham at Santa Anita. Favored at 2-5 in a field of five, Goldencents caught leg-weary pacesetter Manando inside the final furlong and drew off to a 1 1/2 -length victory under Kevin Krigger.

The victory by Goldencents on Saturday came shortly after that of Vyjack, a gelded son of Into Mischief, in the Grade 2 Jerome at Aqueduct.

Goldencents rated in second, one length behind Manando, through splits of :23, :46 1/5 and 1:10. Asked for his bid approaching the quarter pole, Goldencents was still a half-length behind but gaining after seven furlongs, and went on to stop the clock in 1:36 2/5 for the one-mile contest. He paid $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10.

With this Sham stakes victory Goldencents(24 points) now overtakes Shanghia Bobby(20 points) as the new points leader for the 139th Kentucky Derby, May 4th 2013. To read more about the new 2013 Kentucky Derby points system click here


 

 

widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; border: 0px initial initial; margin: 8px 0px; padding: 0px; background: rgb(255, 255, 255) url('http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/othersports/initial') initial initial initial initial"> HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. ? Take Charge Indy is headed to the May 5 Kentucky Derby after leading virtually all the way in Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby on a speed-favoring track at Gulfstream Park.

Take Charge Indy, trained by Patrick Byrne and ridden by Calvin (the rail) Borel, beat 31-1 shot Reveron by a length. The colt ran 1-1/8 miles in 1 minute, 48.79 seconds and paid $17.40 to win in the Grade I race.

"The track was playing really good for us speed wise," Byrne said. "I told Calvin, 'If you're on the lead and they leave you alone, go for it.' "

Union Rags, the early Kentucky Derby favorite, was sent off at 2-5 odds in the Florida Derby and was third after a really rough trip. He is expected to compete in the Kentucky Derby and I still expect him to win.

"He ran good and he finished good," said Julien Leparoux, who rode Union Rags. "We were in traffic and they were riding me. ... It was just bad luck. He is a professional. He doesn't care about being on the rail, in behind, or dirt (in his face). Nobody paid attention to the winner; they let him go. I guess they just targeted me on the favorite.


Posted BY Johnny Brennan
Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:

Take Charge Indy, a son of 1992 champion colt A.P. Indy, picked up $600,000 for the win, enough to guarantee a spot in the Kentucky Derby on May 5. Owned by Charles and Maribeth Sandford, it was just the colt's second career victory in six starts with total earnings of $721,000. It was also the first FLORIDA DERBY Horse Racings Picks and selections CONTENDERS for Kentucky Derby 138, May 5,2012- Kentucky Derby horse racing analysis and Kentucky Derby handicapping picks and selections, Saturday May 5th Churchill Downs Picks full card kentucky derby day picks,impress your friends this Kentucky Derby,long shotkentucky derby Picks..also triple crown Picks and selections . . Kentuckyderby-horseracing.com is your horse racing source,churchill downs,lexington kenyucky,pimlico,Belmont park,belmont stakes,Florida Derby win for Calvin Borel, who has won three Kentucky Derbies.

After winning in his first start last July at Arlington Park, Take Charge Indy finished second in the Arlington-Washington Futurity and fourth at Keeneland in the Breeders Futurity. The colt was fifth behind Hansen and Union Rags in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November at Churchill Downs. His only other start this year was a second in an optional allowance at Gulfstream.
Take Charge Indy returned $17.40, $9.00 and $3.60. Reveron paid $18.40 and $4.00, and Union Rags paid $2.10 to show.

Recent Florida Derby winners to go on and capture the Run for the Roses were Monarchos (2001), Barbaro (2006) and Big Brown (2008).


BY Johnny Brennan
Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:

March 26, 2012, 1:46 PM   **TRAINER BOB BAFFERT** HAS ** HEART ATTACK**  IN DUBIA WHILE TRAINING "GAME ON DUDE" FOR THE $10 MILLION DOLLAR DUBAI WORLD CUP SATURDAY. 

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates ? Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert had a heart attack early Monday in Dubai where he was preparing to run "Game On Dude" in the $10 million Dubai World Cup. The Great News is that Mr. Baffert was amazingly moved out of intensive care just one day after having a heart attack and is expected to be released from the hospital early this Thursday morning.

Baffert was in the United Arab Emirates to train "Game on Dude" for the $10 Million Dollar Dubai World Cup being run this Saturday in Dubai.

Bernie Schiappa, co-owner of "Game On Dude", called the 59-year-old trainer's condition excellent on Tuesday and said he was already "training from bed" ahead of Saturday's race. He said Baffert was in good spirits, joking with friends and working closely on the preparations for Game on Dude, as well as The Factor, which is running in the $2 million Golden Shaheen.

Schiappa said it was likely Baffert will go to the track to check on his horses once he's released.

"He would probably come here now," he said. "If he had his way, he would walk out now but they won't let him. He is under really good care and he knows he has to listen. He is handling it well. He is in very good spirits as well."

Baffert on Tuesday tweeted "I want to thank my wonderful wife Jill, who convinced me I was having a heart attack and called paramedics."

Baffert began feeling ill on Monday and was rushed to the hospital, where he had three stents inserted in two arteries. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was alerted and visited Baffert in the hospital. Baffert has trained horses for the Dubai ruler.

Schiappa said he expected Baffert will be able to handle the stress of race night.

Game On Dude, no stranger to tight finishes, is among the favorites for the 14-horse Dubai World Cup along with So You Think, Royal Delta and a trio of Japanese horses led by Transcend, which finished second last year.

"I think Bob can take the stretch call," Schiappa said. "He told me that the doctor will be at his side just in case he keels over. That is Bob's humor as you probably expect. But that is what he said."

Game On Dude, runner-up in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, is co-owned by retired Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees manager Joe Torre.

Baffert is a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby, and has several prospects for the May 5 race. He has also won the Preakness Stakes five times and the Belmont Stakes once. He's saddled seven Breeders' Cup winners. The white-haired Baffert, one of the most recognizable figures in U.S. horse racing, is a three-time Eclipse Award winner as outstanding trainer.


March 26, 2012, 2:46 PM

BY Johnny Brennan
Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates ? Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert had a heart attack early Monday in Dubai where he was preparing to run "Game On Dude" in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) ? Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert had a heart attack early Monday in Dubai where he was preparing to run Game On Dude in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Baffert's assistant, Jim Barnes, said from Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, Calif., that Baffert was "doing very good" after having three stents inserted in two arteries. Barnes said he had spoken to the trainer's wife, Jill, who had accompanied her husband to the Middle East, along with their young son, Bode.
Barnes said Jill Baffert told him the procedure went well and "everything should be fine."
Bernie Schiappa, co-owner of Game On Dude, said the 59-year-old trainer wasn't feeling well on the long flight to Dubai, and was tired after visiting the barn and arriving at the hotel. He said Baffert then fell ill early Monday morning and was taken to a hospital.
"He had a heart attack, two arteries were blocked, 100 percent in one, 90 percent in the other," Schiappa said by phone from Dubai. "He had two stents put in one artery, one stent in the other."
Schiappa said paramedics arrived and an ambulance took Baffert to a hospital. Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum was alerted and he arrived at the hospital to visit Baffert. The sheikh owns Darley Stud and Godolphin racing, one of world's leading thoroughbred breeding and racing operations.
Schiappa said it'll be about eight to 10 days before the trainer would be allowed to travel home. It was not known whether Baffert would attend Saturday's race at Meydan Racecourse.
"He's comfortable now," Barnes said. "They caught it just in time."
The Daily Racing Form, which first reported Baffert's condition, posted a 13-second cell phone video with him speaking from his hospital bed.
"When you have Sheik Mo come visit you ... this is when you know you are being well taken care of," Baffert said in the video.
Game On Dude, runner-up in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, is a top contender for the Dubai World Cup. The horse is co-owned by retired Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees manager Joe Torre.
Baffert is a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby, and has several top prospects for the May 5 race. He has also won the Preakness Stakes five times and the Belmont Stakes once. He's saddled seven Breeders' Cup winners. The white-haired Baffert, one of the most recognizable figures in U.S. horse racing, is a three-time Eclipse Award winner as outstanding trainer.


March 12, 2012, 1:46 PM NBC to Televise Kentucky Derby Preps Racing.

The Jockey Club is, making good on its promise to bring more television coverage of horse racing, announced it was partnering with the NBC Sports Group to broadcast six major Kentucky Derby prep races this spring.The ?Road to the Kentucky Derby? series will be highlighted by a 90-minute live broadcast on NBC featuring the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park on April 7, 2012. The series will feature races from six racetracks,

?The Jockey Club is proud to work with our television and racetrack partners to bring more of our sport?s best racing to a national audience,? said Ogden Mills Phipps, Chairman of The Jockey Club. ?Increasing the television presence of thoroughbred racing is just the first step in a long term, multimedia strategy focused on Horse Racing fan retention and development.?

In August of 2010, the Jockey Club said it would look to increase television coverage and create a racing series to be accompanied by a free-to-play Web site for picking races as well as a social-network game. It is a five-year, $10 million effort at a time when the sport of Horse Racing needs a big time boost: In the past decade, betting is down 37 percent, attendance is down 30 percent, and starts per horse and race days are each down 14 percent.

?These races are important steppingstones to the Kentucky Derby,? said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. ?And this programming further demonstrates the NBC Sports Group?s commitment to the sport of thoroughbred racing, which already includes long-term deals for the Triple Crown races as well as with Saratoga and Keeneland.?

Here?s the Road to the Kentucky Derby Horse Racing schedule:

March 24:Saturday, Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes and Bourbonette Oaks from Turfway Park (NBC Sports Network, 5-6 p.m.)

March 31:Saturday, Florida Derby and Gulfstream Oaks from Gulfstream Park (NBC Sports Network, 5-6 p.m.)

April 7:Saturday, Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial from Aqueduct Racetrack and Santa Anita Derby from Santa Anita Park (NBC, 4:30-6 p.m.)

April 14:Saturday, Toyota Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland and Arkansas Derby from Oaklawn Park (CNBC, 6-7 p.m.)

Creative Cause established himself as the favorite for the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) when he came from off the pace to defeat slightly favored Bodemeister in the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. I) March 10 at Santa Anita .

Creative Cause was back at the top of his game for the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe, his second start of the year against probably the deepest 3-year-old field of the season thus far. He defeated Bodemeister, a fast-developing colt from Bob Baffert's strong stable of sophomores, by three-quarters of a length while timed in a solid 1:41.84 on a fast track.The $750,000 Santa Anita Derby April 7 is the next stop for Creative Cause.


 Take Charge Indy, the 3-1 second choice on the morning line for Saturday's Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, will be scratched from the race and point instead to the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 31. Trainer Pat Byrne confirmed the change in plans to Daily Racing Form on Friday.

"We just decided we're not going to go up to Tampa to come out of the 10 hole over a track he's never been on before," Byrne told the trade daily. "We'll just keep him here and shoot for the Florida Derby now. We already know he likes that racetrack at Gulfstream, and he's been training well at Palm Meadows.

"I guess it means we'll be putting all our balls in one basket, having only one more Derby prep instead of two, but the Florida Derby is a $1 million race, so even if he finishes second or third we should have enough earnings to make the (Kentucky) Derby."


 Hansen with a three-length victory in Saturday's Grade 3 Gotham Stakes,Hansen moved back to the forefront of the Kentucky Derby discussion. The champion two-year-old displayed a new dimension, settling just off the early speed before pouncing on the far turn, and finished up strongly over the inner track at Aqueduct racetrack.

A pair of Grade 2 stakes will be offered this weekend, the $300,000 San Felipe at Santa Anita and $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby.Hansen, racing without blinkers for the first time and breaking from the next to last post in a field of 13, stalked the early pace and used a strong kick at the top of the lane to run away with the G3-Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday afternoon. The Breeders? Cup Juvenile winner was 2nd in his first start of 2012 when he finished five lengths behind Algorithms in the Holy Bull. He ran off a bit that afternoon and, as a result, trainer Michael Maker took off the shades for his start in the Gotham. The move worked as Hansen settled down in the early stages and, for the first time in his career, stalked the early pace rather than setting it.


 My Adonis put in a good effort to grab second, while longshot Finnegans Wake got up for third. Tiger Walk rounded out the Superfecta.

Hansen is a three-year-old son of Tapit out of a Sir Cat mare (Stormy Sunday).He is now 5-4-1-0 in his career and is one of the leading contenders for this year?s Kentucky Derby.

WIN: 12-Hansen ($3.60, $2.80, $2.50)
PLACE: 1-My Adonis ($4.80, $4.10)
SHOW: Finnegans Wake ($7.30)

$1.00 EXACTA: $8.60
$1.00 TRIFECTA:
$0.10 SUPERFECTA: $174.45
$1.00 GRAND SLAM: $4.10
$1.00 DAILY DOUBLE: $10.90
$1.00 PICK 3: $26.75


 Algorithms injured, off Triple Crown trail (more)
BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. (AP) ? Trainer Todd Pletcher says Kentucky Derby hopeful Algorithms is off the Triple Crown trail because of a leg injury that will require surgery. Algorithms was the morning-line favorite for the Fountain of Youth Stakes last ? Continue reading


 Barbaro?s trainer has leading Ky. Derby contender (more)
Six years after Barbaro, trainer Michael Matz has himself another star attraction for the Kentucky Derby. Union Rags confirmed his status as the Derby front-runner with an impressive four-length victory in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes over the weekend ? Continue reading



 Dominguez wins George Woolf award for jockeys (more)
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) ? Ramon Dominguez has won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey award after a nationwide vote of his fellow riders. Dominguez, a 35-year-old native of Venezuela, will receive the trophy in a ceremony at Santa Anita next month. ? Continue reading



 Teen jockey takes first-ever stakes at Santa Anita (more)
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) ? Teenage apprentice jockey Eswan Flores won his first career stakes Sunday at Santa Anita, guiding long shot Tones to a neck victory over favorite Stoney Fleece in the $81,140 Baffle Stakes, a downhill sprint for 3-year-olds. ? Continue reading


 Union Rags wins Fountain of Youth Stakes
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) ? Union Rags dominated the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Sunday, bolstering his credentials as one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby. Trained by Michael Matz, Union Rags won his first ? Continue reading



 Opus A wins the Big A?s Hildy?s Grey Stakes
NEW YORK (AP) ? Opus A posted a pacesetting victory on Sunday, beating even-money favorite Great Gracie Dane by two lengths in the $75,000 Hildy?s Grey Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares at Aqueduct. The 8-5 second choice, Opus ? Continue reading


 The Factor wins San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) ? The Factor defeated Sway Away by a half-length to win the $200,000 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his 16th victory in his last 17 races nationally. ? Continue reading


 El Padrino wins Risen Star Stakes
NEW ORLEANS (AP) ? Favorite El Padrino edged Mark Valeski in a close finish to win the Grade-2 $300,000 Risen Star Stakes on Saturday, the final prep for the Louisiana Derby. Neither horse was separated by more than a neck ? Continue reading



 Sweet Seventeen wins Busher Stakes at Aqueduct
NEW YORK (AP) ? Sweet Seventeen, the even-money favorite, beat Off Limits by a head Saturday in the $75,000 Busher Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Aqueduct. Never worse than second at any point, Sweet Seventeen and jockey Alan Garcia took ? Continue reading


 Starspangled Heat wins Santa Anita feature
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) ? Starspangled Heat rallied from last in the field of seven to beat Circa?sgoldengear by a head and win the $58,700 Silence Is Golden Purse for California-breds at Santa Anita on Friday. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Starspangled ? Continue reading


 


New York Cuts Race Purses in Effort to Increase Horse Safety

New York Lasix Ban on the Way.

One Important News Note:

The New York Racing Association placed two senior executives on leave Monday (5-3-12) while an investigation is conducted into whether New York state racetracks knowingly withheld millions of dollars due to NY bettors in recent months or years. The  senior executives were Charles Hayward, NYRA?s president, and Patrick Kehoe, its general counsel.

The New York agency that oversees horse racing in the state of NY on Monday limited the size of the purses offered in races involving cheaper race horses. It acknowledged that fattened purses, many of them being offered at racetracks where casinos had been opened in recent years, had created a dangerous incentive to push sore or unfit horses onto the track.

The agency, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, said racetracks could not offer purses greater than twice the assigned value of the horses running in any claiming races, the less glamorous races that make up the backbone of the daily programs at many tracks.

?We are taking significant action today to address the significant challenges facing horse racing, in New York State and the Country ,? John D. Sabini, the chairman of the NY Racing and Wagering Board, said. ?There are serious and valid concerns about the safety of racehorses and their riders. The emergency rule we are enacting today creates a more equal and safer playing field in thoroughbred racing in New York state, eliminating the enticement for owners and trainers to put underperforming horses in races where they are pushed beyond their physical capacity.?

Sabini said the board, the governing body for racing in New York, would also consider banning the race day use of Lasix, a drug meant to limit bleeding in racehorses that has been a staple of racing in the United States for decades.

?The Board?s consideration of changing its raceway drug policies starts a conversation whose time has come,? Sabini said.

The board made its announcement on the same day that The New York Times published an investigation that showed how richer purses had created an incentive for trainers to run unsound horses, which may have contributed to the deaths of 30 horses at the recently completed meet at Aqueduct.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York had previously appointed a task force to investigate factors like prerace inspections, track conditions and what role drugs had played in the deaths and injuries of the horses.

?These actions are critical to ensure that the racing industry is safe for the horses, enjoyable for the patrons, and are essential to restore the integrity of the sport of horse racing in New York,? he said.

Revenue from the recently opened Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct had increased purses by about $130,000 a day at New York Racing Association tracks. At Aqueduct, horses with an assigned value of $7,500 had raced recently for a $40,000 purse. In that race, two horses broke down and had to be euthanized. Both had been given pain medication in the days before the race, records show," Recent extremely disturbing reports about mistreatment of racehorses make it abundantly clear that reform is needed,? said Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Resorts World Casino, which supported lowering the purses.

Still, the new rule falls short of the recommendation of a prominent veterinarians group, the American Association of Equine Practitioners. That organization says purses should be curtailed even more sharply to protect the welfare of the great numbers of horses that are sent to the gate week in and week out across the country. New York?s action came as a Congressional subcommittee met in Pennsylvania to take testimony as part of its continuing look at racing?s culture of drugs and lax regulation, and a breakdown rate for racehorses that far exceeds those in other countries.

In 2008, after a Kentucky Derby horse, Eight Belles, broke two ankles on national television and was euthanized, Congress extracted promises from the racing industry to make its sport safer. Unsatisfied by the industry?s efforts, Representatives Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania and Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, both Republicans, sponsored the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act of 2011, which would ban all drugs in a horse?s system on raceday, require drug testing labs to meet international standards for accreditation, and level strict penalties for rule violators to tracks and horsemen.

Two panels of owners, trainers, veterinarians and a former jockey gave testimony Monday.

?If there?s no raceday medication, you?d solve a lot of problems,? Gary Stevens, a retired Hall of Fame jockey, said.

He spoke of how he refused to ride in cheaper races and for certain trainers in California because he knew that they used drugs to mask the pain of sore horses. Stevens also said that he had ridden extensively in Hong Kong and Europe, where drugs were banned on raceday and penalties for violations were harsh. Stevens said that he never feared for his safety overseas.

?I never had a horse break down in these countries,? he said. ?It was pure and it was a pleasure.?

Dr. Greg Ferraro, the director at the veterinary school at the University of California-Davis, said he had made a mistake years ago when he advocated the widespread use of corticoid steroids and other powerful anti-inflammatory drugs like phenylbutazone to treat sore horses. At the time, he thought using such drug therapies would better protect vulnerable horses.

?It has not served the industry well,? he told the subcommittee. ?It has not served the horses well.?

One Important Note:

The New York Racing Association placed two senior executives on leave Monday 5-3-12 while an investigation is conducted into whether New York state racetracks knowingly withheld millions of dollars due to bettors in recent months. The executives were Charles Hayward, NYRA?s president, and Patrick Kehoe, its general counsel.

   Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:
SOME  A field of at least seven 3-year-olds now seems definite for the $1 million WOOD MEMORIAL on APRIL 7,2012 led by division leader Union Rags and El Padrino.

There were three Derby workouts on Saturday, none of which came at Churchill Downs. At Keeneland, Went the Day Well went six furlongs in 1:14.45 and galloped out seven-eighths in 1:28.04 under jockey John Velazquez.

?He?s not a flashy work horse, that?s him,? said Graham Motion, who trains Went the Day Well. ?That?s why I had Johnny work him, to make sure he got enough out of the work.?

At Laurel, Illinois Derby winner Done Talking breezed a half- mile in 49.64 seconds before galloping out five furlongs in 1:02.60 with his regular rider Sheldon Russell aboard. Trainer Hamilton Smith was pleased with Done Talking.

?He did it easy and came back to the barn bouncing,? Smith said. ?It was exactly what I was looking for. I am not worried too much about the time. We are going to do more with him next week.?

At Hollywood Park, Rousing Sermon drilled seven furlongs in 1:27.20.


In the most dominating performance seen in any of the major preps for the Kentucky Derby May 5,2012, Bodemeister ran away with Saturday?s Arkansas Derby by 9 1/2 lengths with a graceful, effortless victory , and more than likely will be favored to give Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert a fourth chance in the May 5 Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.

The Arkansas Derby was merely the fourth career start for the colt, whom owner Ahmed Zayat named after Baffert?s son, Bode. Hampered by shin problems as a 2-year-old, Bodemeister did not make his first appearance under silks until Jan. 16, so he?s come an incredibly long way in three months.

Bodemeister won the Arkansas Derby the hard way ? on the front throughout ? and did so in a style generally seen from much more experienced runners. A colt with a high cruising speed, and anytime push button acceleration Bodemeister ran the first two quarters of the Arkansas Derby in an amazing :23 and :23 2/5, before dialing it back a bit and getting a breather from jockey Mike Smith.

Despite subsequent quarters in :24 4/5 and :25 2/5, Bodemeister still held a comfortable advantage at the top of the stretch and was able to gradually extend his lead to the eighth pole. Having turned back his only real challenge, from stable mate Secret Circle, Bodemeister then blew the doors open in the final furlong, which he completed in a highly impressive :12. The final time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:48 3/5.  There's still no telling how good this colt really is..?
 

   BY Johnny Brennan
   Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:
SOME  A field of at least seven 3-year-olds now seems definite for the $1 million WOOD MEMORIAL on APRIL 7,2012 led by division leader Union Rags and El Padrino.

 

Keeneland and Oaklawn Park will share the spotlight this weekend with the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby. The Blue Grass turned into an afterthought in recent years, producing more Grade 1 turf winners than serious Triple Crown race prospects, but the Polytrack test has attracted a stellar field of 13 Saturday, including two-year-old champion Hansen. The Mike Maker-trained colt opened his racing career with a pair of eye-catching performances on Polytrack, winning both by double-digit margins, and the front runner displayed a new dimension last time in the Gotham, racing just off the speed before pouncing for a three-length score. Hansen could move into the favorite's role with another impressive win Saturday.

Dullahan captured the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last fall and exits a fast-finishing second in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes on turf. He's the likely second choice for Dale Romans. Palm Beach winner Howe Great is can't be overlooked for Graham Motion, reeling off four consecutive wins in advance of the Blue Grass, and improving Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby victor Prospective is proven on Woodbine's Polytrack.
Other notables include Heavy Breathing, who finished third as the favorite in the Grade 3 Spiral for Pletcher; Grade 2 Louisiana Derby upsetter Hero of Order; the speedy Scatman, runner-up in the Grade 3 Southwest and third in the Grade 2 Rebel; and a couple of unproven but potentially dangerous late-running longshots in Gung Ho and Holy Candy.

Bob Baffert will send out the top two choices in the Arkansas Derby in Bodemeister and Secret Circle.
Bodemeister is a late-starting but highly promising colt who finished second to Creative Cause when making his stakes debut in the San Felipe. The front runner picks up the services of Mike Smith and will be hustling from post 11 when the gates open. Secret Circle will look for a rare sweep of Oaklawn Park's graded stakes for three-year-olds following narrow wins in the Southwest and Rebel. Rafael Bejarano, who has also been the regular rider for Bodemeister, will stick with the ultra-game son of Eddington in his first start at 1 1/8 miles. Rebel runner-up Optimizer; Grade 3 Sunland Derby runner-up Isn't He Clever; Grade 3 Delta Jackpot hero Sabercat; and a pair of second-stringers from the Pletcher stable, Stat and Raconteur, will also line up for the closing-day feature.


Posted: 01/12/2013 12:52 PM
   BY Johnny Brennan

ARKANSAS, HOT SPRINGS Oaklawn Park has created a blockbuster Arkansas Derby card for 2012, with the Grade 1, $1 million derby to anchor an April 14 program that will also include the Grade 2, $350,000 Oaklawn Handicap, the Grade 3, $200,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, and the $100,000 Northern Spur.

In another significant change to the 34-race, $5.2 million stakes schedule, Oaklawn has kicked up the purse for the Grade 2 Rebel to $500,000. Part of the track?s series for 3-year-olds, the March 17 Rebel had been worth $300,000.

The 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby is the richest race of the meet and the highlight of the Racing Festival of the South, when Oaklawn puts on a cluster of major stakes over the final week of its meet. Oaklawn has condensed the 2012 festival from six to four days but will again run nine stakes during that period beginning with the Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy for 3-year-olds fillies on April 11.

Other festival events include the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles April 13.

?Our hope with the compressing of the Racing Festival is to make it more convenient to send horses to Hot Springs,? said David Longinotti, assistant general manager of racing for Oaklawn. ?Horsemen will be able to line up one plane, send several horses across a couple different divisions, and arrange to have their main riders come for all the races of the Festival.?

Oaklawn?s meet, which opens for a 56-date run on Jan. 13, gradually builds up to the closing-day Arkansas Derby. The track has three preps for the race, beginning with the $100,000 Smarty Jones at a mile Jan. 16. The Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest, also at a mile, follows Feb. 20. The Rebel, at 1 1/16 miles, is the final stepping-stone to the Arkansas Derby.


Posted BY Johnny Brennan
Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:

A report in the Daily Racing Form indicates that Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Hansen is likely to make his final Kentucky Derby prep in the G1-Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and not the G1-Wood Memorial. The Blue Grass is slated to run on April 14th, one week later than the Wood.

I'm not really surprised by the news from the Hansen camp today, as I thought that the Blue Grass would be a good final prep race for Hansen given his affinity for the surface and the proximity to Churchill Downs. We already know that he can run on dirt and at Churchill, and the colt has plenty of graded earnings under his belt which lessens the need for a big performance in his next race. The chief concern now for trainer Michael Maker is to get his colt in top physical condition heading into the first Saturday in May. A race over Keeneland's Polytrack surface isn't a bad way to attempt to build a bit more stamina into Hansen before the Derby.
 

Posted BY Johnny Brennan
Kentucky Derby Horse Racing Writer:

No, this is not a misprint, 109-1 shot Hero of Order won the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II) April 1 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Favored Mark Valeski had every opportunity to win but could not close the deal in deep stretch, just hanging allowing lightly regarded Hero of Order to prevail by a half-length with Eddie Martin Jr. aboard for the first time on closing day of the 2011-12 season at the New Orleans track. Hero of Order paid an eye-popping $220.80, $79.80, and $25.40 across the board. Yes, It was a record win payoff for the Louisiana Derby.

Mark Valeski finished second by 1 1/2 lengths, with California invader Rousing Sermon rallying for third by a nose over Cigar Street.

Hero of Order came into the race with one win in 13 starts and raced for as little as $25,000 as a maiden claimer at Hawthorne last fall.

The winning son of Sharp Humor is trained by Russian-born former jockey Gennadi Dorochenko, who also owns the colt under the name Raut LLC. The dark bay sold for a whooping $3,000 as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2010. Wind Hill Farm bred Hero of Order, who is out of Ocean Sprite, by obscure sire Ocean Crest.

Hero of Order ran fourth in Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Feb. 25, beaten by six lengths, hardly an embarrassment. That race was won by El Padrino, who nosed out Mark Valeski, part of the 3-2 favored entry in this years Louisiana Derby. El Padrino came back to run a lackluster fourth in the Florida Derby (gr. I) on March 31.

In his start prior to the Louisiana Derby, Hero of Order finished second after setting the pace in the March 10 Black Gold Stakes at 7 1/2 furlongs on a yielding Fair Grounds turf course. He was disqualified and placed fourth, however, after drifting out late and causing interference.

It only took Hero of Order nine starts to break his maiden and he then went  right into stakes company, finishing fifth after pressuring the pace in the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 21. He has won twice in seven tries at Fair Grounds.

?We run horses together, Eddie (Martin) and me," said Dorochenko in reference to Martin. "I tell him exactly what (Hero of Order) wants to do; he do it and he win. Eddie is best jockey. We are around horses together, I give him chance. A lot of jockeys have ridden (Hero of Order) and everything but he do exactly what I tell him, he win race.

?You see, I brought not expensive horses but I make these horses expensive,? added Dorochenko, who has just won his first graded stakes race of his life.

Hero of Order completed the 1 1/8-mile Louisiana Derby in a slow time of 1:50.13 on a hot and sultry day in New Orleans. It's unlikely that Hero of Order is headed for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) since he is not nominated. It would cost $200,000 to nominate and he could only get into the field if less than the maximum 20 nominated horses are to be entered.

He was prominent throughout, racing second early while pushing the pacesetter Comisky's Humor through fractions of :23.39 and :47.27. Windsurfer and Cigar Street were also close to the leaders as Mark Valeski rated just behind on the outside in the field of 13 3-year-olds.

Hero of Order pulled his way to the lead on the somehow on the far turn, reaching the three-eighths pole in 1:11.55 and turned for home with the advantage over Cigar Street and the steadily advancing Mark Valeski.

Mark Valeski passed Cigar Street in the lane and had dead aim on Hero of Order to his inside as they reached mid-stretch with Hero of Order 1 1/2 lengths in front. However, Mark Valeski, under encouragement from Rosie Napravnik, could not reach even terms with Hero of Order, who was slowing down but still plugging away under strong right-handed urging from Martin. And that's the way they went right to the wire in front of a stunned Fair Grounds crowd.

"I was surprised I didn?t get pressured more than I did," said Martin after his first Louisiana Derby victory. "You know, I had my target in front of me and he just let me inherit the lead around the turn and off we went.?

Hero of Order earned $600,000 for the win, boosting his career bankroll to $657,277 with a record of 2-1-2 in 14 races.

With the field under equal weights of 122 pounds, he topped a $2 exacta of $491.80 with Mark Valeski, who returned $3.40 and $2.80 as part of a Brereton C. Jones-owned entry along with Lecomte winner Mr. Bowling. Rousing Sermon, fifth in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) in his most recent start for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, paid $4.60 to show and rounded out a $2 trifecta worth $7,812. The superfecta with second choice Cigar Street fourth was $16,326.20 for a $2 wager.

Shared Property was fifth, followed by Windsurfer, Afford, Z Dager, Fire Alarm, Finnegans Wake, Flashy Sunrise, Mr. Bowling, and Comisky's Humor. Arm Force was scratched.
 


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