Barn Notes -- Saturday, April 12

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WISE DAN DOING WELL MORNING AFTER MAKER’S 46 MILE TRIUMPH

Trainer Charlie LoPresti was one happy camper Saturday morning, the day after Morton Fink’s reigning two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan made a triumphant return to the races with a victory in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) on Friday.

“I am glad that is over,” LoPresti said of the much anticipated debut. “I had him maybe 80 percent and would have liked to have had a couple more breezes. I had to put some wind in him and that’s why I breezed him the other day (a :35 three-eighths move; :22.80 through the stretch).”

Wise Dan’s three-quarter length victory over Kaigun represented his Keeneland record sixth graded stakes score, ninth Grade 1 win overall and 16th graded stakes victory.

“He’s doing fine this morning and he ate up everything last night,” LoPresti said. “He got a little tired at the 16th pole and I think that breeze is what got him home.”

Tentatively on the schedule next for Wise Dan is the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 3. He won the race last year.

“That is not set in stone yet,” LoPresti said. “I just wanted to get through this first.”

The Woodford Reserve is on the radar for Kaigun.

“He is doing great this morning and I am very proud of him,” trainer Mark Casse said. “He has turned into a good horse.”

The runner-up effort marked Kaigun’s best stakes result in his 10-race career and it has Casse looking forward to the Derby Day race.

“The Woodford is the plan,” Casse said. “That’s the reason we ran here, to see if he belongs (with this company). If not, we would have gone in another direction.”

Third-place finisher Lochte is scheduled to return to his South Florida base on Monday with Sabrina Simon and Wayne Barnett looking over the Marcus Vitali trainee until he leaves.

“I was thrilled with his race, really happy,” Vitali said before starting his drive back to Miami. “We tried to beat the beast, but Wise Dan is a tough act to follow.”

Vitali said it was too soon to cement plans for a next start for Lochte.

“I have two or three spots in mind,” Vitali said with options including the Woodford Reserve and/or the $400,000 Dixie Handicap (G2) at Pimlico on May 17.

 

FINK SCORES GOLDEN WIN WITH WISE DAN

The victory by reigning two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan in Friday’s $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) marked the gelding’s second consecutive win in the Spring Meet’s premier turf race and gave  his owner, Morton Fink, his eighth graded stakes victory at Keeneland.

Fink of Northbrook, Ill., received a gold tray as part of Keeneland’s signature graded stakes trophy program. Only 19 owners in Keeneland history have achieved such an accomplishment. Ken and Sarah Ramsey reached the milestone on closing day of the 2013 Spring Meet.

Wise Dan and his older half-brother Successful Dan are responsible for Fink’s position. Wise Dan has won a Keeneland-record six graded stakes: 2010 Phoenix (G3), 2011 Fayette (G2), 2012 Ben Ali (G3), 2012 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) and 2013-2014 Maker’s 46 Mile. Successful Dan won the 2010 Fayette and 2013 Ben Ali. Charlie LoPresti trains both horses.

Keeneland’s gold tray is handcrafted in partnership with premier American jeweler and silversmith Tiffany & Co.
 

NOTES ON TODAY’S TOYOTA BLUE GRASS

A field of 14 horses will go postward today in the 90th running of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G1). The Toyota Blue Grass is the most famous race at Keeneland, which first ran the stakes on April 29, 1937, closing day of its inaugural Spring Meet.

For the second consecutive year, the field for this year’s Toyota Blue Grass is a maximum 14 starters. Fourteen starters also competed in the 1954 and 1974 runnings.

Today’s program is the third consecutive 12-race Toyota Blue Grass card in Keeneland history. In 2012, Keeneland drew a track-record 40,617 fans to the track for the card.

Here is additional information to aid in your coverage:

Kentucky Derby points
The winner of the Toyota Blue Grass earns 100 points as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, a points-based system with a series of key races offering escalating points during the course of the Derby year to determine which horses will compete in the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) on May 3 at Churchill Downs.

The second-place finisher in the Toyota Blue Grass earns 40 points, followed by 20 points to the third-place finisher and 10 points to the fourth-place finisher.

Information on 2014 Toyota Blue Grass participants

Biographical information on the connections of each entrant in this year’s race, as well as past performances, charts dating back to the first running of the race at Keeneland in 1937 and historical statistics on the race are available at Keeneland.com/bluegrass.

History
The Blue Grass was named for the famous Bluegrass region of Central Kentucky and held in 1911-14 and 1919-26 at the old Kentucky Association track near downtown Lexington. Second-place finishers Meridian (1911), Donerail (1913) and Behave Yourself (1921) went on to win the Kentucky Derby. The 1926 winner, Bubbling Over, became the first horse to win the Blue Grass and the Kentucky Derby.

With the closure of the Kentucky Association track, a group of prominent area Thoroughbred breeders went to work to return racing to Lexington. In 1935, they founded the Keeneland Association, purchased land from horseman J.O. “Jack” Keene and set out to open a model racetrack. Keeneland opened on Oct. 15, 1936, for nine days of racing. In April 1937, Keeneland held its inaugural Spring Meet of 11 days and ran the Blue Grass for the first time.

The winner of the first Blue Grass at Keeneland was Maxwell Howard’s Fencing, who won by three-quarters of a length over Col. E.R. Bradley’s favored due of Billionaire and Brooklyn. Nine days later at Churchill Downs, Fencing and Billionaire raced back in the Kentucky Derby, inaugurating a pattern that future Derby hopefuls would follow.

Blue Grass - Kentucky Derby Connection
A total of nine winners of the Blue Grass at Keeneland have won the Kentucky Derby. Another 10 horses who ran in the race have won the Run for the Roses.

Toyota Sponsorship
In 1996, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (located in Georgetown), five area Toyota dealerships and Toyota Motor Sales in Cincinnati teamed to sponsor the Blue Grass, marking Toyota’s first sponsorship of a horse race.

Post Positions
Here are the post positions and the number of winners each post position has produced since 1937 (the race was run in two divisions in 1951):

Post

No. of Winners

1

13

2

12

3

10

4

14

5

10

6

4

7

3

8

5

9

2

10

2

11

2

12

0

13

1 (Goyamo, 1954)

14

0

 

Horses
Harlan’s Holiday
, sire of Harry’s Holiday, won the 2002 Toyota Blue Grass.

Owners
Michael Tabor
and Susan Magnier, who own Pablo Del Monte with Derrick Smith and Wesley Ward, joined Robert and Beverly Lewis in the ownership of 2000 winner High Yield. Tabor and Smith won the race in 2005 with Bandini. Tabor, Magnier and Smith also own Gala Award.

Jockeys
Alan Garcia
(Coltimus Prime) and Julien Leparoux (Vinceremos) are bidding for their second win in the race. Garcia won aboard Stately Victor in 2010. Leparoux won last year on Java’s War.

Riding in the Toyota Blue Grass for the first time are Stewart Elliott (Coastline), Victor Espinoza (Pablo Del Monte), Brian Hernandez Jr. (Big Bazinga), Julian Pimentel (Extrasexyhippzster) and Emma-Jayne Wilson (Asserting Bear).

For the first time, two women will ride in the race: Emma-Jayne Wilson (Asserting Bear) and Rosie Napravnik (Harry’s Holiday). Napravnik was aboard eighth-place finisher Willcox Inn in 2011 and fifth-place finisher Fear the Kitten in 2013. Tammy Fox rode fourth-place finisher Big Courage in 1991. Julie Krone rode runner-up Suave Prospect in 1995.

Trainers
Todd Pletcher
(Gala Award, Vinceremos and also-eligible Divine Oath) is bidding for a third win in the race. Pletcher won with Bandini (2005) and Monba (2008). Prior to 2014, he has had 18 starters in the race. Last year, he finished second with eventual Belmont (G1) winner Palace Malice.

Other trainers with a previous win in the race are Mike Maker (Harry’s Holiday), who won the race in 2010 with Stately Victor, and Dale Romans (Medal Count), who won the race in 2012 with Dullahan.

Trainers with horses in the race for the first time are Tom Bush (So Lonesome), Mario Morales (Casiguapo), Justin Nixon (Coltimus Prime), Michael Trombetta (Extrasexyhippzster) and Katerina Vassilieva (Big Bazinga).

Katerina Vassilieva (Big Bazinga) is bidding to become the first female trainer to win the race. Other female trainers with starters in the race are Alexis Barba (Make Music for Me, 6th in 2010), Jennifer Pedersen (Mr Sword, 7th in 2005), Jamie Sanders (Teuflesberg, 4th in 2007) and Josie Carroll (Tesseron, 11th in 2013).

Keeneland Sales Grads
Graduates of Keeneland sales are Big Bazinga, Coastline, Divine Oath (also-eligible), Gala Award, Harry’s Holiday, Medal Count and Vinceremos.

Big Bazinga was a $32,000 RNA at the 2012 January Horses of All Ages Sale. He was a $25,000 purchase at the 2012 September Yearling Sale.

Also sold at the 2012 September Sale were Coastline ($190,000), Divine Oath ($200,000), Gala Award ($1.55 million), Harry’s Holiday ($50,000), Medal Count ($360,000) and Vinceremos ($140,000). Vinceremos also sold for $340,000 at the 2013 Keeneland April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale.

Odds
The shortest-priced favorite to win the race was Spectacular Bid (1979), who went off at .05-1 (1-20). He paid $2.10.

The longest shot to win the race was Stately Victor (2010), who went off at 40.10-1 in 2010. He paid $82.20.

The last time the post-time favorite won the Blue Grass was Peace Rules in 2003 at odds of 3-5.

Margin of Victory
The largest margin of victory was turned in by Arts and Letters, who won the 1969 race by 15 lengths. He was followed by Alydar (13-length winner in 1978) and Sinister Minister (12¾-length winner in 2006).

Times
This is the eighth year that the Toyota Blue Grass has been run on Keeneland’s Polytrack main track. (Polytrack debuted during the 2006 Fall Meet.) The Polytrack record for 1 1/8 miles, the distance of the Toyota Blue Grass, is 1:46.77, set by Carriage Trail in the 2008 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1). The fastest Toyota Blue Grass on Polytrack is the 1:47.84 by Dullahan in 2012. The stakes record is 1:47 1/5, set by Skip Away in 1996.

Attendance
Keeneland drew an all-time record 40,617 fans for the 2012 Toyota Blue Grass Day. Last year’s attendance of 37,161 is second-highest in track history.

Wagering
All-sources wagering
on last year’s 12-race Toyota Blue Grass card reached $21,114,552, second to the record $21,647,378 from the 2012 Toyota Blue Grass card. Keeneland’s record for single-day on-track handle was $3,599,647 on April 16, 2005, day of the Toyota Blue Grass.

 

NORTHERN DANCER WON THE BLUE GRASS 50 YEARS AGO AND BECAME A LEGENDARY SIRE

The Toyota Blue Grass (G1) has been won by some of the most notable Thoroughbreds in history. That definitely was the case 50 years ago when a stocky little bay Canadian-bred colt named Northern Dancer won the stakes during a seven-race win streak that continued in May with victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. (Click here for the Toyota Blue Grass website and to watch previous runnings of the race, including the stretch run of Northern Dancer’s victory.)

As brilliant as he was as a racehorse, however, Northern Dancer would be an even better sire. He became the most important stallion of the late 20th century, once commanding a $1 million stud fee, while the demand for his yearlings helped to put Keeneland sales on a global stage.

Northern Dancer, by Nearctic, was a homebred racing for E.P. Taylor’s Windfields Farm. He became the third Blue Grass starter for trainer Horatio Luro, who was second in 1960 with Windfields’ Victoria Park and again in 1962 with the future Derby winner, Decidedly.

In 1964, the Blue Grass was a $25,000-added race worth a total of $29,550. The 10,141 Keeneland fans made the Canadian colt, ridden for the first time by Bill Hartack, the 1-5 favorite against four rivals. The Blood-Horse reported on the race:

“After being lapped on pace-setting Royal Shuck, which ran the first quarter in :25 and the first half in :50 1/5, Northern Dancer moved to the front at the three-eighths pole and held safe the game bid of Allen Adair with a final eighth in :11 2/5. (Northern Dancer) galloped out an additional furlong, getting the full Derby distance in 2:03, and came back blowing only slightly.”

Northern Dancer won the Blue Grass by a “narrow but decisive margin,” according to The Blood-Horse. The colt earned $19,207 for the win, which came nine days before the Kentucky Derby. (The Blue Grass was moved to its present date of three weeks before the Derby in 1989.)

At Keeneland’s July Sale of Selected Yearlings in the 1970s and 1980s, Northern Dancer’s yearlings sold for well over a combined $150 million. His reign included:

  • Leading sire by average (with three or more horses sold) in 1974, 1975, 1978-1984 and 1986-1988.
  • Sire of sale-toppers in 1978, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1989.
  • His sons sired the sale-toppers in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1988 and 1991.
  • His grandson Storm Cat, a dominant sire in his own right, sired sale-toppers in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2002.

In 1984, the price for one of Northern Dancer’s offspring reached a world-record $10.2 million, when Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Aston Upthorpe Stud spent that amount on the colt later named Snaafi Dancer. The price was so high that Keeneland’s bid board did not have enough figures to accommodate it. At the sale, 12 of Northern Dancer’s yearlings sold for an average of $3,446,666.

The next year, the sale price for a grandson of Northern Dancer reached $13.1 million, still the highest amount paid for a yearling Thoroughbred at auction. B.B.A. (England) purchased the colt by Nijinsky II who was a half-brother to 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew and was later named Seattle Dancer.

Northern Dancer died Nov. 16, 1990, at 29. His influence continues through his descendants, many of which will race today at Keeneland. Runners by such stallions as Giant’s Causeway, Kitten’s Joy and War Front all carry his prized blood.

Sources: The Blood-Horse; Champions: The Lives, Times and Past Performances of America’s Greatest Thoroughbreds by Daily Racing Form; Legacies of the Turf: A Century of Great Thoroughbred Breeders (Vol. 2) by Edward L. Bowen.

 

“LADIES OF THE TURF” IN HISTORIC REUNION SUNDAY

Approximately 25 retired and active female jockeys, including those who were first allowed to ride in 1969 and some of the most accomplished members of their profession, will be honored at Keeneland on April 13 as part of Horses and Hope Pink Day. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to raise breast cancer awareness and purchase a commemorative poster of the female jockeys by noted cartoonist and caricaturist Peb (Pierre Bellocq) that the women will autograph to raise funds for Horses and Hope and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

Keeneland co-hosts Pink Day with Horses and Hope, First Lady Jane Beshear’s initiative to reach women working in Kentucky’s horse industry with education about breast cancer and mammography screening.

Prior to the races, a special Horses and Hope luncheon for breast cancer survivors and supporters will be held in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion. That afternoon, participants will gather in the North Terrace for live music and unique Pink Day activities. Race 6 will be the special Horses and Hope race, and horses will wear pink saddle towels.

The jockeys, some of whom are breast cancer survivors, will participate in a question-and-answer session with fans in the Walking Ring that begins at 12:05 p.m. ET. A tribute video about the women will be shown as they are recognized in the Winner’s Circle at 1:30 p.m., and an autograph signing, which starts at 1:45 p.m.

Fans can purchase the poster for $10. The signing will be along the sidewalk between the Administrative Office and the Walking Ring starting around 1:45 p.m. Posters will be sold in that area starting at noon.

“Keeneland is honored to host this historic gathering of female jockeys who have transcended horse racing,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing W.B. Rogers Beasley said. “They include pioneers who faced many obstacles in the pursuit of their riding careers and opened doors that created opportunities for other women. All have been successful due to their courage and determination.”

The women are traveling to Keeneland from across North America and include:

Patti Barton, the first female jockey to win 1,000 races, and her daughter Donna Barton Brothers.

Kaye Bell, who during Keeneland’s 1972 Spring Meet became the first to win a race at the track.

Patricia “PJ” Cooksey, the second woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and the first to compete in the Preakness (G1). Andrea Seefeldt Knight, who also rode in both races, is scheduled to attend.

Diane Crump, the first to ride against men and the first to compete in the Kentucky Derby.

Abigail Fuller, who won the 1985 Triple Tiara aboard her father’s homebred Mom’s Command.

Julie Krone, the most successful female jockey in Thoroughbred racing history with 3,704 victories and mount earnings of $90,126,584. Her firsts include winning a Triple Crown race (the 1993 Belmont [G1]); winning a Grade 1 race at Keeneland (1992 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup); and being inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame (2000).

Kathy Kusner, who in October 1968 became the first to be licensed to ride.

Rosie Napravnik, who during Keeneland’s 2013 Fall Meet became the first to be the track’s leading rider. She also has a win in the Breeders’ Cup and is the first to win the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Tami Purcell-Burkland, the first to win Quarter Horse racing’s two most famous races, the All American Futurity (G1) and the Champion of Champions (G1).

Barbara Jo Rubin, the first to win a race at a recognized Thoroughbred track.

Cheryl White, the first African-American female jockey to compete in Thoroughbred racing.

 

CLOSING-DAY DIXIANA ELKHORN ATTRACTS 38 NOMINATIONS; BEWITCH LURES 39

James Karp’s Newsdad, two-time winner of the Pan American (G2) and winner of the 2012 Fayette (G2) here, tops a list 38 turf marathoners nominated to the 29th running of the $200,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2) scheduled for closing day, Friday, April 25.

Chief among the other nominees to the 1½-mile grass test are David Heerensperger’s Fire With Fire and Pandora Stud’s Lucayan (FR), the 1-2 finishers in last month’s San Luis Rey (G2) at Santa Anita both trained by Neil Drysdale; Stella Perdomo’s Forte Dei Marmi (GB), winner of the 2013 Northern Dancer (G1) at Woodbine; and, Magdalena Racing and Diamond M Stable’s War Dancer, winner of the 2013 Virginia Derby (G2).

Also represented on the roster of nominations are Calumet Farm’s multiple graded-stakes winning duo of Optimizer and Skyring both trained by D. Wayne Lukas.

Juddmonte Farms’ Romantica (GB), runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) in her U.S. debut, headlines a list of 39 nominations to the 53rd running of the $150,000 Bewitch (G3) for fillies and mares going 1½ miles on the turf on Thursday, April 24.

Now trained by Bill Mott, Romantica is a three-time group race winner in Europe that includes a score in the 2013 Darley Prix Jean Romanet (G1). Juddmonte also has nominated Riposte (GB), a Group 2 winner last year in Europe who finished second in Friday’s fifth race here.

Other names of note among the nominations are defending champion Strathnaver (GB) and 2014 Grade 3 stakes winners Anjaz and Inimitable Romanee.

 

SPRING MEET LEADERS

Through April 11 (6 days of racing) 

Jockey

Starts

Wins

2nd

3rd

Purses

Julien Leparoux

39

10

3

6

$378,609

Stewart Elliott

26

7

1

3

$209,562

Joe Rocco Jr.

26

6

4

4

$283,898

Javier Castellano

22

4

5

4

$192,258

Joel Rosario

22

4

3

3

$340,909

Dylan Davis

19

4

1

3

$115,412

Rosie Napravnik

31

3

7

3

$164,680

Alan Garcia

16

3

2

2

$189,864

Shaun Bridgmohan

16

3

0

1

$266,009

Robby Albarado

24

2

3

0

$96,443

Marcelino Pedroza Jr.

10

2

1

0

$37,592

 9 jockeys with one win each.

 

Trainer

Starts

Wins

2nd

3rd

Purses

Mark Casse

20

5

3

4

$278,458

H. Graham Motion

15

3

2

2

$139,157

Wesley Ward

10

3

2

2

$85,190

Ken McPeek

15

3

0

2

$244,683

Mike Maker

29

2

6

4

$153,108

Shug McGaughey

8

2

3

0

$109,566

Bill Mott

14

2

2

3

$99,063

Chad Brown

7

2

1

2

$122,800

Tom Amoss

4

2

0

1

$40,077

Neil Pessin

3

2

0

0

$45,651

 31 trainers with one win each.

 

TOYOTA BLUE GRASS WEEK SPECIAL EVENTS
 

Saturday, April 12

The Hill. Keeneland’s official tailgate lot located adjacent to the Keene Barn, will feature food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, race-day programs, a Keeneland Gift Shop kiosk, free shuttles to the track and live bluegrass music. BETologists will be available to answer fans’ questions.

Craft Beer Tent. A special selection of craft beers is available on the North Terrace patio and includes Country Boy, Kentucky Ale Kolsch, Land Shark, Shock Top, Sierra Nevada and Sweetwater.

The Keeneland Gift Shop Presents a meet and greet with hat milliner Christine A. Moore and the Bosom Buddy Bags trunk show until 6 p.m.

All-Stakes Pick 4 presented by TVG. The $300,000 guaranteed Pick Four features Races 8-11, the Shakertown (G3), Madison (G1), Jenny Wiley (G1) and Toyota Blue Grass (G1).

All-Stakes Pick 5 presented by TVG. The $300,000 guaranteed Pick Five features Races 7-11, the Commonwealth (G3), Shakertown (G3), Madison (G1), Jenny Wiley (G1), and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1).

 

Sunday, April 13

Horses and Hope Pink Day. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to Keeneland. Horses and Hope is First Lady Jane Beshear’s initiative to reach women working in Kentucky’s horse industry with education about breast cancer and mammography screening. In conjunction with the day’s festivities, Keeneland will honor “Ladies of the Turf,” nearly 30 retired and active female jockeys, including those who were first allowed to ride in 1969 and some of the most accomplished members of their profession. The women also will sign a commemorative fundraising poster created by horse racing cartoonist Peb. Fans can purchase the poster for $10. The signing will be along the sidewalk between the Administrative Office and the Walking Ring starting around 1:45 p.m. Posters will be sold in that area starting at noon. Proceeds will benefit Horses and Hope and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

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