Tag Archives: Horse Racing

Beautiful video of Frankel enjoying the winter scenery at the Manor

Thanks to Juddmonte Farms for sharing this video of Frankel

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Todd Pletcher’s Poker Face

We couldn’t resist sharing the photos from Gulfstream Park of Todd P at the poker table during the Eclipse Awards Poker and Slots Tournament. Add your own bubble quotes!

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todd p 2

Can you tell what kind of hand Dale’s got?

dale romans poker

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Renee’s Titan is a little nutty – but she’s good

The Santa Ynez was rendered Beholder’s walk in the park. It was supposed to be an easy comeback spot after her brilliant Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies win.

All was going to plan until, flying up the rail, came that nutty Renee’s Titan. A troublemaker in training, she’s got quite a closing kick and pulled off the 20-1 shocker with Tyler Baze for trainer Doug O’Neill.

Baze dropped his whip in the stretch – that one not Renee’s fault – but after the wire, she showed her usual spunk by veering, causing Baze to lose his balance and fall. Everyone appeared to be fine and Renee, riderless, zipped right over to the winner’s circle.

Apparently the daughter of Bernstein, whose broodmare sire is champion Tiznow, is quite the character.

“She’s got a few problems in her head, but she can really run when she holds it all together, and she proved that today,” Baze was quoted as saying in the Santa Anita press notes.

O’Neill assistant Leandro Mora said depositing riders is one of the filly’s fortes.

“She’s done it before, mostly in the mornings,” Mora said. “She dumped Kevin Krigger in a workout, so we keep company with her always. She’s so tough to train, we keep switching horses, and not the same horse every morning because she’ll run them out. We do what we have to.”

Quirkiness aside, the Kentucky-bred filly now has a graded stake win to her credit and ten Kentucky Oaks points to boot.

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Doug O’Neill at the Eclipse Awards: “Win, lose or draw, we’re going to have a great time.”

Doug O’Neill discusses his experience on the Triple Crown Trail with I’ll Have Another. Interesting insight into his thoughts on the Eclipse Awards – the voting and the party.

From Ed Golden, Santa Anita press notes:

Doug O’Neill is nothing if not a realist. If he had his druthers, he would love it if I’ll Have Another is named 2012’s Horse of the Year when the Eclipse Award winners are announced at Gulfstream Park a week from Saturday on Jan. 19.

But the 44-year-old trainer of the only winner of three Grade I races on dirt last year–the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes–realizes full well that voters chronically suffer from short attention span disorder, and since I’ll Have Another didn’t race the final seven months of last year, despite going unbeaten and winning all four of his starts, all stakes, he has virtually no chance to win Horse of the Year honors against the other two finalists, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned and favored Wise Dan.

Despite his vested interest, O’Neill can live with that.dpih

“Obviously, we’re very close to that picture, so it’s hard to be real impartial, but he’s Horse of the Year in our minds,” O’Neill said. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of horse. Anytime you win the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, that’s quite a feat. The horse is a real champion.

“He brought Mario Gutierrez world-wide recognition, and that was huge in itself. I’ll Have Another was great to us and I think great for racing.”

No doubt about that. Now sold and retired to stud in Japan, I’ll Have Another was within a 36-hour countdown of making a bid for a Belmont Stakes victory and racing history by becoming only the 12th Triple Crown winner, when a tendon injury put an end to that quest and ultimately resulted in his retirement.

Rival Horse of the Year finalists Fort Larned and Wise Dan had their day in the sun in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Nov. 3, Fort Larned capturing the Classic and Wise Dan setting a course record of 1:31.78 in winning the Mile. For I’ll Have Another, it was out of sight, out of mind.

“I do think if you’re not running on Breeders’ Cup day, the voters definitely look down on that,” O’Neill said. “Because I’ll Have Another didn’t compete the last half of the year, he wasn’t fresh in their minds.

“Still, it’s an honor to be nominated. We’re all going to Florida and have a fun time. Win, lose or draw, we’re going to have a great time.”

Team O’Neill will take solace with an Eclipse Award for I’ll Have Another as outstanding 3-year-old male of 2012, but O’Neill, never one to count his chickens before they hatch, was prepared in any case.

“We should be good there,” he said, “and if we’re not, that’s OK too.”

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What is Gary Stevens really saying?

We found another gem in Ed Golden’s recently compiled Santa Anita notes. This one’s about jockey Gary Stevens and the rampant rumors of a comeback since he was seen working horses at Pegasus Equine Rehabilitation Center.

From the notes:

Gary Stevens has dashed speculation that he would resume his riding career after an absence of seven years.

“As far as a comeback, I don’t know who’s spreading these rumors . . . I will be working for HRTV on opening day. That’s the only comment I have,” said the retired Hall of Fame jockey, who turns 50 next March 6.

Stevens, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner who rode for 27 years, announced his retirement on Nov. 27, 2005.

Stevens has been working horses recently at the Pegasus Training and Equine Rehabilitation Center in Redmond, Washington, and reportedly has his weight down to 122 pounds. The Pegasus operation is overseen by Stevens’ longtime friend, trainer Mike Puhich.

Hmmm. . . interesting comments from Mr. Stevens, but not really an all-out denial? Only time will tell.

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Buddies Martin Pedroza and Rene Douglas team up for the Malibu

From Ed Golden, Santa Anita Park press release:

Martin Pedroza and Rene Douglas have been friends for more than three decades.Natives of Panama, they attended jockey school there before migrating to the United States where they reached the upper echelon of their profession.

Douglas, a regular in Southern California before returning to the Chicago area where he was a six-time champion at Arlington Park, was paralyzed from the waist down in a tragic spill at that track on May 23, 2009.

Throughout his travails, Douglas maintained contact with Pedroza, who buoyed his spirits during bouts of depression, which diminished with time to the point that now Douglas is racing manager for the Good Friends Stable, which has Private Zone entered in the Grade I Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on opening day next Wednesday. The rider: Martin Pedroza.

“Rene and Martin not only grew up together, they went to jockey school in Panama,” said Pedroza’s long-time agent, Richie Silverstein. “They’ve remained best friends and Rene suggested to Doug (O’Neill, who trains Private Zone) that because of his relationship with Martin, he’d like to keep him on the horse.”

Pedroza has ridden Private Zone in four of the gelding’s five U.S. starts, finishing second the last two, beaten only a length last out in the Grade III Vernon Underwood at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 2.

Douglas’ recovery has understandably been a work in progress.

“The first year and a half, he wouldn’t take phone calls, seemingly because he was depressed,” Silverstein said. “Now when I speak to him on the phone in Florida he seems in very good spirits. I know he goes to physical therapy every Saturday, but all in all, he’s sharp mentally and he knows his stuff.”

Added Pedroza: “It was rough in the beginning, but now I talk to him pretty much every day.”

As for Private Zone, who set the pace in his last two starts before he was overtaken in late stretch, Pedroza is optimistic, even though personally he’s coming off a forgettable Betfair Hollywood Park meet where he won only once from 68 mounts. He needs just one more victory to reach career milestone 3,500.

But right now, Pedroza’s focused on Private Zone. “I think he’s going to be all right,” Pedroza said.

The field for the Malibu, race eight of nine: Fed Biz, Mike Smith; Jimmy Creed, Garrett Gomez; Drill, Martin Garcia; The Lumber Guy, John Velazquez; Politicallycorrect, Joel Rosario; Basmati, Mario Gutierrez; Castaway, Joe Talamo; Private Zone, Pedroza; Guilt Trip, Rafael Bejarano; and Unbridled’s Note, Corey Nakatani.

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Calidoscopio’s bonnet and other “artifacts” belong in a Breeders’ Cup museum

One of the most enigmatic heroes of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup was also one of the most unlikely.

A 9-year-old Argentina-bred who arrived in the U.S. long before his date with destiny at Santa Anita Park, Calidoscopio was more than just “under the radar.” Trained by Guillermo Frenkel and owned by Stud Dona Poncha, the son of Luhuk would’ve been a complete unknown had it not been for his “unconventional” training methods that drew attention in the mornings.

Calidoscopio often galloped – and galloped and galloped – without a saddle. Even more intriguing was his unfamiliar headgear, a white cloth called a “bonnet” that wrapped around his neck and stretched between his ears. Frenkel said the bonnet helped “prevent head colds.”

Although Calidoscopio didn’t race in the bonnet, it became a subject of muse during Breeders’ Cup week. The bonnet was elevated to cult status for a short time after Calidoscopio pulled off a 17-1 upset in the Marathon.

The legend of the “bonnet” conjures up memories of other Breeders’ Cup artifacts. Sure, there are the usual pieces – whips, saddlecloths, jockey’s gear, halters and colorful blinkers. Some, however, have special meaning because they stood out as mementos of the moment.

Remember Stacelita’s eye patch? How about an hourglass filled with Santa Anita synthetic? Surely there’s something unique from Zenyatta’s legendary efforts.

It would all make for a visually stimulating trek through time in a Breeders’ Cup museum.

What would be your favorite Breeders’ Cup “artifact?”

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Vote now: Who is the best-dressed trainer in American racing?

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Breeders’ Cup: How a change of tactics led to Shanghai Bobby’s Juvenile win

Trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Rosie Napravnik had it all mapped out.

Friday morning, the team conferred on how to best approach the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with undefeated Shanghai Bobby. It’s not often, Napravnik said, that Pletcher gives detailed instructions.

“I try to pick his brain in a roundabout way to see if he really has anything he expects,” she said. “But he doesn’t give much anyway. When we talked (Friday), he did actually bring it up and we did discuss some tactics.”

That plan, however, never came to fruition. A completely new strategy was adopted by Pletcher. Could it be he made the adjustment based on the overwhelming speed bias that reared its head Friday at Santa Anita?

“When I got to the paddock today (Saturday), he’d completely changed everything,” Napravnik said.

Napravnik gave some insight into the original plan and how it altered for the Starlight Racing and Coolmore-owned youngster.

“He told me some of the things he had heard about who was sending and who was going to sit a little bit,” she said. “We talked about what was actually printed about Baffert’s horses and how the horse on the rail was going to send and the outside horse was going to stalk. He told me he heard Sadler’s horse was going to be aggressive, so were hoping to get a stalking trip maybe sitting third outside.”

Pletcher informed Napravnik of the new plan in the paddock just prior to the race.

“(He said) just let him run out of there and get a good spot,” she said. “Basically, we wanted to be in control of the race.”

The team knew Shanghai Bobby was capable of executing various race tactics. He’s won on the front end, from off the pace and from a close-up stalking position.

When the gates opened, Shanghai Bobby was with the leaders and stayed on the pace, going three-wide into the turn. He sat in second off Title Contender and a very hot pace of :22.28. Shanghai Bobby wrestled the lead as they moved into the stretch, but started to appear leg-weary. He’s Had Enough and Mario Gutierrez, trapped and blocked on the rail, finally got through to challenge as they neared the wire.

In an amazing show of grit, Shanghai Bobby re-broke and held off He’s Had Enough to win by a head.

“Bobby gets lost when he’s out there by himself,” Napravnik said. “He came to literally what felt like a walk. I just couldn’t wait until the horses came up next to me, because he turns back on like no other horse I’ve ever felt.”

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Vote now: Which trainer is bound for a bodacious Breeders’ Cup?

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