BEWITCH IS PROVING GROUND FOR MOTION-STONE RUNNERS
Andrew Stone’s two runners in Thursday’s Bewitch Stakes (G3) – winner Strathnaver (GB) and third-place finisher Qushchi (GB) – were well the morning after the race, said trainer Graham Motion. At odds of 18-1, Strathnaver won the 1½-mile race under leading jockey Joel Rosario by one length from Regalo Mia. Qushchi, a 16-1 choice ridden by Edgar Prado, finished three-quarters of a length behind in third.
“There aren’t that many races to choose from, and I really wanted to find out if the English fillies were up to that competition and up to that distance,” Motion said about choosing the Bewitch for the pair. “They both showed that they were.”
Motion had a third starter in the Bewitch for whom the race’s conditions were appropriate, Team Valor International and Robert V. LaPenta’s Angegreen (ITY), a graded stakes-placed runner who finished sixth.
Motion said he probably would point Strathnaver, a four-year-old daughter of Oasis Dream (GB), to the Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park on May 25 at 1 3/8 miles on the turf.
“That would seem logical for Strathnaver,” Motion said. “I kinda hate to run Qushchi against her again since it’s the same owner, so I’d like to try to keep them separated.”
Strathnaver won the Bewitch in her second start in the United States, following her March 13 victory at Gulfstream Park in which she set a 1 3/16-mile turf course record. The Bewitch marked the third U.S. start for Quschi, who was second and third in allowance company at Gulfstream.
Motion said Stone send Strathnaver and Qushchi to the United States “to get them some black type,” and added, “It worked out great.”
The Bewitch victory continues the owner’s success in the U.S. with imports from the United Kingdom. Last year, his I’m a Dreamer (IRE) won the Beverly D Stakes (G1) in her debut in this country and was fourth in the Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (G1) and sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1).
CENTRAL BANK ASHLAND WINNER EMOLLIENT WORKS
On Friday morning, Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Emollient worked for the first time since her front-running, nine-length victory in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1) on April 6. Ridden by Rodolphe Brisset, assistant to trainer Bill Mott, the three-year-old Empire Maker filly breezed a half-mile in :48.80.
Clockers caught Emollient in fractions of :24.40, :48.80 and galloping out in 1:02.40.
“For her first breeze back, we didn’t want anything crazy,” Brisset said. “It was a normal breeze for the Mott team. Now we have to make sure she comes out in good order tomorrow morning. She will ship to New York tomorrow afternoon. I’m going with her.”
Brisset said there was “no plan in store right now” for Emollient’s next race, adding, “We keep everything open.”
Emollient won the Central Bank Ashland a week after she finished fifth in the Gulfstream Oaks (G2). She has three wins in six starts and has earned $441,900.
BALOG ENDS KEENELAND TENURE ON CLOSING DAY
Today is closing day of Keeneland’s spring meet and marks the final day here for Julie Balog, who has been with Keeneland since 1999 and has served as director of communications since 2011. Balog will become vice president of marketing and communications for the YMCA of Central Kentucky.
During Balog’s tenure, Keeneland garnered recognition for its use of social media to leverage its communications strategy, and to increase its profile among national and mainstream media. She also was instrumental in the coordination of Keeneland’s 75th anniversary in the fall of 2011 and the launch of Keeneland Select, the company’s advance deposit wagering business.
Balog answered a few questions about her Keeneland experience.
Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at Keeneland?
JB: “The 75th anniversary was such a fun experience, and the actual anniversary date was such a great day. I remember putting on my Facebook page, ‘Today’s goal: Savor the moment,’ and I did just that. The weather was perfect, the racing was tremendous and we capped it off with a salute by the Boston Pops - and I had a front-row seat for it all. I wouldn’t trade that experience for any amount of money.
“I also remember when Pat Day surpassed Donnie Brumfield as Keeneland’s all-time leading rider during the 2000 spring meet. Pat had been on a hot streak when he suddenly went cold and it took several days for him to reach the milestone. When he finally did, I remember being struck by the sportsmanship shown between Donnie and Pat and how graciously they each acknowledged the other’s accomplishments. It really resonated with me.
“When Ashado sold for $9 million at the 2005 November Breeding Stock Sale, I had to go back to the tape and note how long it took for the horse to sell and how many back and forths were between the bidder and underbidder. It was about nine minutes and 74 exchanges, if I recall correctly. I also enjoyed watching our team sell Royal Delta to Mr. Leon after she won the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1). That was fun because she knew she was special and it showed.
“And I still can’t believe how many people came out on a cold December night in 2010 when we paraded Zenyatta before she went off to retirement at Lane’s End or how many people showed up on another cold day in November 2002 when we filmed the famous crowd scene for ‘Seabiscuit.’ It just goes to show that people are horse crazy in Kentucky.”
Q: How has Keeneland changed while you've been here?
JB: “The digital aspect of what we do has changed everything: how we work and how the media works with us covering our sport. When I started, the website was basically an electronic brochure, we didn’t have social media and there were no bloggers. That certainly isn’t the case today.
“As far as Keeneland itself, at its core, it is still the same wonderful institution that it was when I started here 14 years ago. That’s the beauty of Keeneland. We’re not afraid to innovate, but at the heart of it all we just do what is best for the horse.”
Q: Who is your favorite horse that you’ve seen race here?
JB: “I tend to gravitate toward our house horses — the ones who stable here, work here and then win here because you get to know them and their connections. I’d put Wise Dan, Groupie Doll, Brass Hat and Blame at the top of the list. I also loved watching Gio Ponti win the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) twice. Take Charge Lady was pretty special too.”
Q: What sets Keeneland apart in your mind?
JB: “Every single day, I felt like I was surrounded by people who are the best at what they do -- from sales, to racing, to broadcast, to our own marketing and communications staff. Everyone works at such a high level, it makes you want to raise your own game. I appreciated that challenge. We call it ‘The Keeneland Way.’ ”
VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH GARY STEVENS ON COMPETING AT KEENELAND,
RIDING OXBOW IN THE KENTUCKY DERBY
Sports broadcaster Tom Leach spoke with jockey Gary Stevens about riding at Keeneland and his Kentucky Derby (G1) mount, Oxbow. Click here to see the video.
KEENELAND 2013 SPRING MEET LEADERS
(Stats Through Thursday, April 25)
Current Meet Leading Jockeys
Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Purses
Joel Rosario 99 35 15 10 $1,312,668
Julien Leparoux 86 16 14 11 $1,530,738
Rosie Napravnik 72 10 14 12 $599,404
Alan Garcia 45 10 3 2 $461,057
Edgar Prado 35 7 3 6 $390,116
Javier Castellano 28 7 3 3 $379,356
Shaun Bridgmohan 59 5 7 8 $289,458
Jesus Castanon 36 4 5 3 $150,592
Robby Albarado 35 4 4 2 $180,323
Corey Lanerie 68 3 12 12 $277,641
Francisco Torres 48 3 5 4 $140,751
Joseph Rocco Jr. 45 3 3 4 $209,009
Gary Stevens 30 3 2 3 $144,511
Roberto Morales 29 3 2 1 $ 78,106
Current Meet Leading Trainers
Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Purses
Michael Maker 71 22 10 6 $612,479
Wesley Ward 40 9 8 4 $340,285
H. Graham Motion 30 7 4 5 $506,886
Ken McPeek 37 7 4 2 $691,885
Shug McGaughey 16 5 3 2 $310,754
Mark Casse 32 5 2 1 $210,957
Todd Pletcher 9 4 1 2 $484,948
Jonathan Sheppard 13 4 1 0 $144,458
Wayne Catalano 21 3 2 5 $123,332
George Arnold II 21 3 2 2 $325,992
Eddie Kenneally 11 3 1 1 $ 97,525
Charlie LoPresti 15 3 1 0 $330,561
Current Meet Leading Owners
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 22
Augustin Stable (George Strawbridge Jr.) 6
Gary Barber* 3
Phipps Stable (O.M. Phipps, et al) 3
Team Valor International (Barry Irwin) 3
Alto Racing (Gil Moutray) 2
Mort Fink 2
G. Watts Humphrey Jr. 2
Ice Wine Stable (David Reid) 2
Magdalena Racing (Susan McPeek, et al) 2