Keeneland Barn Notes - Sunday, April 14

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“Java’s War came out of Blue Grass fine. Trainer is exhausted. Thank You for opportunity Mr Fipke. Special winning in my home town Lexington”

So tweeted trainer Ken McPeek on Sunday morning about the victory by Charles Fipke’s homebred Java’s War in Saturday’s $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) before 37,161 fans, the second-largest crowd in Keeneland history. With Julien Leparoux aboard, the War Pass colt charged from last place to catch Palace Malice near the finish of the 1 1/8-mile race and win by a neck.

McPeek scored his second win in the race, joining Harlan’s Holiday in 2002. Leparoux earned his first Toyota Blue Grass victory and his second Grade 1 win of the card, following Centre Court’s triumph in the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1).

Java’s War earned 100 points toward qualification to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) on May 4 at Churchill Downs. He has a total of 122 points to rank fourth on the list of leading point-earners, following Orb (150), Verrazano (150) and Goldencents (129).

Less than an hour after Java’s War’s performance, McPeek watched Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Frac Daddy finish second to Overanalyze in the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park. He tweeted: “Frac Daddy punches his ticket too. Proud of his effort We knew he had it in him. I was born in Arkansas so that race is on my bucket list”

For the performance, Frac Daddy earned 40 points and is 15th on the list of leading point earners for the Kentucky Derby.

The field of 14 in this year’s Toyota Blue Grass equaled the largest fields in history, in 1954 and 1974. On Sunday morning, the trainers or assistant trainers of other entrants stabled at Keeneland reported their horses came out of the race in good order.

Beaten favorite Rydilluc, who finished fourth after leading the field to deep stretch, came out of the race fine, according to Edward Fernandez, assistant to trainer Gary Contessa.

“He is good this morning. He ran a big race and only got beat less than two lengths,” Fernandez said. “He will stay here until probably later this week and then go to New York.” …

Trainer Chad Brown said Balance the Books was fine the morning after his fifth-place finish.

“He got a perfect trip,” Brown said. “He didn’t have any excuses. He put in a decent run midway through the race. He just wasn’t good enough.”

Brown said Balance the Books and Samitar (GB), third in the Jenny Wiley, would return to New York today with future races undetermined. …

Seventh-place finisher My Name Is Michael came out of the race well, said Rodolphe Brisset, assistant to trainer Bill Mott. …

“We now have a new assignment,” trainer Mark Casse said of the John Oxley-owned duo of Dynamic Sky and Uncaptured, who finished ninth and 10th, respectively. “They are both Queen’s Plate horses and we can concentrate on that now. There is a million dollars out there to run at.”

The Queen’s Plate, for Canadian-bred three-year-olds, is a $1 million race slated for July 7 at Woodbine going 1¼ miles.

Casse said both colts came out of the race fine.

“The only thing that was hurt was their pride -- and ours,” Casse said with a chuckle. “Dynamic Sky will go to Woodbine, but I am not sure about Uncaptured. I thought Uncaptured had the perfect trip and Miguel (Mena) had him right where he needed to be.

“But Uncaptured ran so well in his first start back (a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral Stakes on March 23 at Turfway Park) that I was concerned he might regress a little bit. That might have been part of it.” …

“We were there. We gave it a try and now we go on to the next one,” trainer Josie Carroll said about 11th-place finisher Tesseron. She said Tesseron was fine the morning after the race and would return to her Woodbine base. The Kentucky-bred isn’t eligible for the Queen’s Plate, which is restricted to Canadian-breds, “but there are other races for him,” Carroll said.

Trainer John Terranova said 12th-place finisher West Hills Giant came out of the race fine and would be headed back to New York.

“He was hung wide most of the way and (jockey) Jose (Espinoza) said he didn’t handle the track well,” Terranova said. “He said when he asked him to run, he just kind of floundered on it.”

The day was not a total blank for Terranova as his Falling Sky finished fourth, less than a length out of second, in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and picked up 10 points toward the Kentucky Derby. Falling Sky has accumulated 30 points, which might be enough to earn a spot in the 20-horse starting gate.

“I thought he ran a great race and it looked like the distance got to him a little bit at the end,” Terranova said. “I thought Martin (Garcia) rode him perfect. He will fly back to Churchill Downs today. We will go over it (the Derby) with the partners in the next few days.” …

Trainer Wesley Ward said he likely would give Undrafted some time off following his 13th-place finish and that he and Gatewood Bell, racing manager for owner Wes Welker, would get together to determine the gelding’s next race. …

Footbridge, who finished 14th, is scheduled to return to California, according to trainer Eoin Harty.

“We are going to regroup and figure out why he ran the way he did,” Harty said. “He looked comfortable and was moving well, but when the real running started he went backward.”





Connections of the four other graded stakes winners on Saturday’s card reported their horses were doing well Sunday morning.

G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Centre Court got her first Grade 1 win and fifth graded stakes victory with her two-length score in the Jenny Wiley Stakes. She defeated six graded stakes winners on Saturday.

“Most of the top horses on the East Coast were here with the exception of Marketing Mix and Dayatthespa and my guess is we may have to deal with (Dayatthespa) the next time,” trainer Rusty Arnold said. “Dayatthespa is the only three-year-old filly from last year to beat her that she did not come back and beat.”

Saturday’s victory improved Centre Court’s record on grass to six wins and four seconds in 10 starts. Her lone off-the-board finish in her career came in her debut, a 4½-furlong sprint on dirt.

“She was doing well and we wanted to get a race in her before we went to Saratoga and we didn’t know how she’d turn out on the grass,” Arnold said. “Then she came out of the race with a little chip and didn’t run for eight months.”

In the Jenny Wiley, Centre Court rated off the pace set by Daisy Devine before taking charge in midstretch.

“We thought she might be better at four than she was at three,” Arnold said. “She is a lot more manageable this year. Two steps out of the gate yesterday, she just dropped in right behind the leaders. I was worried at the three-eighths pole because Daisy Devine had such an easy lead and I have a lot of respect for her.”

Arnold said the $500,000 Just a Game Stakes (G1) at a mile at Belmont Park on June 8 is the next likely spot for Centre Court with the $600,000 Diana Stakes (G1 at Saratoga on July 27) or the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes (G1 at Arlington Park on August 17) on the radar after that. The Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) at Santa Anita on November 1 is the ultimate objective for 2013.

“We had targeted the Jenny Wiley,” Arnold said. “Ninety percent of the time, you make plans and they don’t work out. When they do, it is great.

“She probably will ship to Belmont the week before the Just a Game and then come back here, because I normally do not ship to Saratoga until the Churchill Downs meet ends.” …

The biggest surprise for trainer Phil Oliver was not that Last Full Measure won the Madison Stakes, but that she went off as the second-longest shot in the field of 10 at 17-1.

“I didn’t think she’d be that price,” Oliver said of Last Full Measure, who is owned by St. George Farm Racing. “The last two horses to beat her were Old Tune (BRZ) and Daisy Devine who were in the Jenny Wiley. In her last race at Tampa, the jock took her back and she had a tough trip but before that had run well.”

Oliver was not sure what would be next for Last Full Measure, who never has raced on dirt in her 11-race career. “There are not a lot of races out there for her,” Oliver said, adding with a laugh, “I may just wait for the fall here.” …

Reddam Racing’s Handsome Mike, winner of the Commonwealth Stakes (G3), may have earned a trip to Churchill Downs to keep stablemate Goldencents company during Kentucky Derby Week.

“He is nominated to the ($400,000) Churchill Downs (G2 on May 4) and he might possibly go there,” said Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill. “But that will be up to Mr. (Paul) Reddam. Our horses here are going to Churchill on the 26th and Goldencents is scheduled to come in the next day.”

The Commonwealth victory was the first for Handsome Mike since winning the 2012 Pennsylvania Derby (G2). It was his first race on an all-weather track since the 2012 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park.

“He had trained well on it all week,” Sisterson said. “There must have been something about it that he liked.” …

Trainer Darrin Miller has the seven-furlong, $150,000 Jaipur (G3) at Belmont Park on June 7 next on tap for Silverton Hill’s Havelock following his victory in the 5½-furlong Shakertown Stakes (G3).

Now six, Havelock has won a graded stakes in each of the past three years, a fact that is pretty good for a horse that did not turn heads when he first arrived in the barn.

“When we first got him, none of the grooms wanted him because he was a lazy, fat colt,” Miller said. “But once we put him on the grass, he really stepped it up.”

Miller ruled out running Havelock back in three weeks in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint Presented by Ram (G3) at Churchill Downs. “Too short,” Miller said of the five-furlong race, “and I won’t run him on the synthetic.”

The long-term goal for Havelock this year is the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita on November 2.



Keeneland stakes coordinator Scott Jones has a list of 10 probable and one possible starter for Saturday’s 32nd running of the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G3) for three-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

The Coolmore Lexington is one of two remaining qualifying races to the Kentucky Derby with 34 points available and 20 going to the winner. The final qualifying race is the Derby Trial (G3) on April 27 at Churchill Downs.

Entries will be taken Wednesday. Horses considered as probable for the race include Cerro (IRE), Examen, Hip Four Sixtynine, Johnny Handsome, Pick of the Litter, Pure Fun, Taken by the Storm, Title Contender, Where’s Dominic and Winning Cause. Considered as possible is Forty Tales.

Johnny Handsome worked a half-mile Sunday morning here in :48.80.




(Stats Through Saturday, April 13)

Current Meet Leading Jockeys

Name                         Sts       1st        2nd      3rd      Purses

Joel Rosario                 41        12        2          5          $397,899

Julien Leparoux           37          8        7          6        $1,029,705

Alan Garcia                 23          6        3          1          $354,806

Javier Castellano          19          5        2          3          $315,164

Rosie Napravnik          39          4        7          7          $277,689

Corey Lanerie              47          3      10          8          $229,588

Jesus Castanon            19          3        3          1          $  94,494

Edgar Prado                16         3        2          2          $194,966

Shaun Bridgmohan      32          2        3          3          $145,636

Roberto Morales          15          2        2          0          $  60,885

Miguel Mena                19          2        1          2          $  92,131

Gary Stevens                 6          2        0          1          $  54,505

John Velazquez             4          2        0          0          $  93,248

14 jockeys tied with 1 win each.



Current Meet Leading Trainers

Name                         Sts       1st        2nd      3rd      Purses

Michael Maker             34          9        4         2          $275,422

Ken McPeek                18          5        3         1          $624,973

Wesley Ward               22          5        1         3          $172,357

H. Graham Motion      14          4        3         3          $296,986

Shug McGaughey        11          4        2         1          $239,422

Mark Casse                  25          4        1         0          $159,040

Todd Pletcher                8          3        1         2          $364,948

George Arnold II           9          2        1         2          $243,364

Charlie LoPresti             8        2         1         0          $238,187

Jonathan Sheppard        3        2         0         0          $  66,323

28 trainers tied with 1 win each.




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