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Thursday, May 05, 2016

Derby/Oaks Update for Thursday, May 5

Temperatures are forecast to be in the low 80s under sunny skies Saturday afternoon for Kentucky Derby 142, but Thursday morning’s conditions were nowhere close to that as the 22 entrants for the $2,391,600 race went through their paces.

            Temperatures were in the upper 40s with a light, steady rain falling when the track opened at 5:45 (all times Eastern) with the track condition labeled as “wet-fast” by Churchill Downs clockers. The rain stopped at 6:30 but by the time the track reopened at 8:30 after the renovation break, conditions were downgraded to “good” as a light drizzle began to fall along with a biting breeze.

Conditions are forecast to be more favorable for the weekend with warmer temperatures and little chance of rain.

Training hours Friday and Saturday will be from 5:45-8 a.m. with the 5:45-6 window reserved for Kentucky Derby entrants and any Kentucky Oaks starter wanting to test the track the morning of their Run for the Lilies.




BRODY’S CAUSE/CHERRY WINE – Trainer Dale Romans sent Albaugh Family Stable’s Brody’s Cause and William Pacella, Frank L. Jones Jr. and Frank Shoop’s Cherry Wine to the Churchill Downs track Thursday morning for 1 ½-mile gallops.

            Brody’s Cause, the Blue Grass (GI) winner, drew post 19 and is rated at 12-1 in the morning line for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, while Blue Grass third-place finisher Cherry Wine is second on the also-eligible list and will need two defections by 9 a.m. Friday to draw into the field.

Romans was joined by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer during the training session for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks horses Thursday morning. A lifelong resident of Louisville, Romans will be seeking his first Kentucky Derby success.

“A lot is being made about me being from Louisville. But it wouldn’t mean any more to me than anyone else in this game,” Romans said. “Once you come into this game, walk through the gate at any racetrack and starting taking care of horses, you’ve got to be thinking about Kentucky Derby. It would mean as much to the Japanese who came over here to go back home and say, ‘Konnichiwa, everybody,’ and wave the trophy.”

Brody’s Cause has given his trainer a lot of confidence about his Derby chances.

“Because he’s peaking at the right time; he’s as good right now as he could possibly be; he’s extremely sound; he likes this racetrack; he’s won over this racetrack; he’s beaten a 14-horse field; he’s beaten an 11-horse field; he was third in a 14-horse field; he’s not a plodding closer; he’s an accelerating closer,

“He went from the half-mile pole to the quarter pole in the Blue Grass and passed – what? – 10 horses? I thought it was pretty amazing. He’s not one who’s going to be a victim of horses stopping in front of him. He’s one who, when he’s ready, he’ll catch up to them.

“In this race, what I’ve seen all the times I’ve tried it, acceleration is important. When the hole opens, you can get through it. He can get to it quickly. There will be trouble for anyone passing horses,” Romans added. “Those horses that can accelerate can get to the spot the jockey wants them and won’t get in trouble.”


CREATOR/GUN RUNNER – Trainer Steve Asmussen sent WinStar Farm's Creator and Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm's Gun Runner to the starting gate for schooling after the renovation break Thursday. For exercise, the colts galloped.

Asmussen said that the colts, "to this point,'' have behaved well at the gate. "The Derby and that many runners, and both of them drawn considerably inside, it's going to test their patience,'' he said.

Creator will break from post position three and Gun Runner drew post five in the 20-horse Derby field. Since the draw Wednesday, Asmussen said, he has been envisioning race scenarios and trying to come up with the best strategies for both colts.

"Nothing but,'' he said. "Nothing but. Simulate it in your head. You know, who's where and who's doing what? You know, tendencies. Then go back and watch the replays of them. See if there's a reason they were where they were.''

And there are two more days to gather information and form plans. "Overanalyze it to say the least,'' Asmussen said.


DANZING CANDY – Trainer Cliff Sise Jr. continues to be pleased with Danzing Candy’s training and schooling sessions as the big day nears.

“He really settled in right away, and has been perfect,” Sise said Thursday morning before sending out the colt for a gallop under Rolando Quinones and to stand in the gate. “This weather is cold for us, but for the horses, they like it.”

Perfect wouldn’t be the word to describe post 20 the front-runner drew for the Derby, but Sise and jockey Mike Smith prefer to put a positive spin on it.

“Mike texted me yesterday and said, ‘Well, it’s better than one,’ ” Sise said. “We’ll just let (Danzing Candy) do his thing, which means go to the front, because it’s really up to the owner (Ted Aroney) and he’s a kind of a speed-bias type of owner. If it were up to me, I would lay second, because Nyquist has speed, too.”

Aroney of Halo Farms co-owns Danzing Candy with Jim and Dianne Bashor. Aroney bred Danzing Candy from his dam, Talkin and Singing. The colt’s sire is Twirling Candy, a son of Candy Ride.

“Compared to my other 2-year-olds early last year, I (ranked Danzing Candy), at times, second, third, or maybe fourth,” Aroney said this week. “He started to come around in July, and then he became No. 1, without even making his first start.

“Every day after the Santa Anita Derby, he kept getting better and better and better. I wouldn’t run him if he didn’t have a chance; and I think he has a good chance.”

Danzing Candy, who is 15-1 in the morning-line odds, was scheduled to school in the paddock Thursday during the first race.


DESTIN/OUTWORK – The Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Destin and Outwork were trackside at 8:30 Thursday morning to take advantage of Churchill Downs’ special Derby/Oaks training period.  It was chilly and it had rained earlier and the track had gone from “wet-fast” early to “good,” but the two colts and their showcase training partners warmed things up noticeably.

            With exercise rider Ovel Merida in the saddle on Destin and Hector Ramos aboard Outwork, the two moved handily over the track for solid gallops of a mile and three-eighths.

            The evening before they had drawn posts for Saturday’s $2,391,600 Kentucky Derby (GI) with Destin being slotted in post nine and Outwork in post 15. 

            Pletcher spoke to the fact that it appears that the way the Derby horses drew, the majority of the “speed” horses – which would include Outwork – have drawn outside in the 20-horse field.

            “It looks like the speed is on the outside and most of the deep closers have drawn inside,” the trainer said. “That certainly is something that has to be considered coming up to the race. I’ll have my thoughts on what I think should be our race strategy and my riders (Javier Castellano on Destin and John Velazquez on Outwork) will have their ideas, too. They’ll be riding (other) horses for me during (Saturday) and walking back after races we can discuss what we’re likely to do for the Derby. Waiting until then gives us the extra advantage of seeing how the track is playing that afternoon, which is another factor that has to be considered. We’ll work up a plan; we’ll get it figured out.”


EXAGGERATOR – The Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Exaggerator headed to the track at 8:30 a.m. Thursday to train with other Derby and Oaks contenders. Trainer Keith Desormeaux’s dark son of Curlin had exercise rider Peedy Landry attached and the two did a double “wrong way” jog around the track.

            Among those watching the two-mile exercise was one of the colt’s owners, Matt Bryan, who is the “big chief” in the Big Chief Racing stable.

            “You dream about this,” the tall Texan said. “It is a blessing. If you’re in the horse business, this is where you want to be. Just to be in the Derby is great. And then to have a horse that has a real chance to win (Exaggerator is the 8-1 second choice in the 20-horse Derby field), that is so special.”

            Bryan recalled his initial meeting with Desormeaux at a horse sale in Texas in 2012.

            “Keith was there trying to pick one out and I saw how hard he was working,” Bryan remembered. “I think I have a bit of a gift to be able to read people and I just got a really good vibe off him. We were together for about 30 minutes and in that time I just knew he was the guy I was looking for. I grew up around horses; not Thoroughbreds, but work horses, Quarter Horses. I know a bit about them. And I could tell that Keith knew a lot about them and that he had an eye for them. I saw the way he looked at horses, how focused he was. I knew he was good. So I signed on with him and the first horse we bought – Ive Struck a Nerve – turned into a stakes winner. We bought others (including Exaggerator, of course) and now I think I’ve got about 20 horses with him.

            “And one of the nicest parts of all this is that Keith has become one of my best friends. I like him so much and the team and family he has here at the barn. It’s just all so good.”

            Exaggerator will break from post 11 Saturday in Kentucky Derby 142 and be ridden by three-time Derby winner (and Keith’s brother) Kent Desormeaux.


LAOBAN – McCormick Racing LLC and Southern Equine Stable’s Laoban, the first horse on the Kentucky Derby also-eligible list, jogged two miles Thursday after the renovation break while accompanied by a pony. As Laoban is stabled in trainer Wes Hawley’s Barn 20, Guillot used his host’s exercise rider, Eric Scherer, for the jog.

Barn 20 and stall 15, where Laoban is residing, is the same accommodations used by 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome.

Failing a defection at the 9 a.m. Friday scratch time for the Derby, Laoban will be on a 10 a.m. van bound for Keeneland, which is where he has been stabled this spring. The Preakness is the backup plan, and Guillot said the fourth-place finisher in the Blue Grass (GI) may go to Pimlico as early as next Tuesday.

“If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be,” said Guillot, who never has started a horse in the Derby. “He’ll run past his odds if he gets in.”

If he does secure a spot in the starting gate, Laoban, who is 50-1 in the morning line, will race without blinkers, equipment the front-runner has worn in four of his five career starts.

“I’m getting him to relax,” Guillot said. “I’ve been working him behind horses.”


LANI – Koji Maeda’s Lani returned to the track Thursday morning for a half-hour exercise under exercise rider Eishu Maruuchi for trainer Mikio Matsunaga.

            Lani came on the track at the five-eighths gap, walked to the head of the stretch and jogged around for his first lap. Lani combined a jog and a gallop on his second circuit, galloped a third circuit and part of a fourth before slowing at the three-quarter pole and turning right to walk in the mile chute before walking back to the gap on which he entered the track.

            “I have seen him many mornings here and today was his best form,” Matsunaga said.

            Lani, winner of the UAE Derby (Group II) in his most recent start, drew post position eight for Saturday’s Run for the Roses and will be ridden by Yutaka Take. Lani was listed at 30-1 on the morning line.

            Matsunaga has had Lani visit the starting gate twice in the past week, but has no paddock schooling planned for his runner.

            “He has raced at several courses in Japan and behaved well, so I am not concerned,” Matsunaga said. “He has a strong mind of himself. He may get aggressive when horses come to him, but in the race he always concentrates. If horses don’t want to be around him that is good for the horse.”

            With an early 10:30 a.m. post time Friday, training hours will be from 5:45-8 a.m. with the 5:45-6 slot reserved for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks horses. Matsunaga indicated that Lani would take advantage of the reserved time Friday.

            Mansunaga was not fazed by his colt’s longshot status.

            “Someone has to make the odds, but that doesn’t matter to me,” Matsunaga said.


MAJESTOGrupo 7C Racing Stable’s Majesto was sent to the Churchill Downs track Thursday morning for an easy gallop.

“He is very, very happy,” trainer Gustavo Delgado said. “He went very easy. He had his open gallop (Tuesday), he doesn’t need to do more.”

The Florida Derby (GI) runner-up drew the No. 18 post and was rated at 30-1 in the morning line.

“I prefer to be inside more, but what can I do?” Delgado said. “But you don’t know what will happen. Anything can happen.”

Delgado reported that jockey Emisael Jaramillo is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Thursday evening.


MOHAYMEN Shadwell Stable’s Mohaymen galloped once around the Churchill Downs track Thursday morning.

“The track superintendent and his crew have again done a great job. We were able to gallop after the break. We changed up today and went off to the right and just went once around, because it was a little wet,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He went great. He wasn’t too keen. We had another great morning.”

Mohaymen, who had won his first five races before sustaining his first loss in a fourth-place finish in the Florida Derby (GI) at Gulfstream Park April 2, will be looking to rebound from post 14 Saturday.

“The outside horse (Danzing Candy) and Mike Smith are probably going to have to go to clear. Hopefully, we break good and follow Nyquist and him and see how it unfolds,” McLaughlin said. “We won’t be too far away – stalking from fifth-ish, hopefully.”


MOR SPIRIT – Michael Petersen's Mor Spirit, runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) in his most recent start, galloped once around the Churchill track for the second straight day under exercise rider George Alvarez during the special 8:30 a.m. training time.

“He's doing well,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said. “I'm happy with him. He's a nice horse. He's just as good as any of them here.”

The Eskendereya ridgling drew post position 17 Wednesday night, a spot that has yet to produce a Kentucky Derby winner in the 141-year history of the race.

“The last time I had post 17, it was with Gary Stevens and Point Given (in 2001),” Baffert said. “And, we all know how that turned out. But, it wasn't the post that got him beat that day. We'll just have to make history again this year.”

Point Given and Stevens, who will be aboard Mor Spirit on Saturday, did go on to win the Preakness (GI) and Belmont Stakes (GI) as well as Horse of the Year after finishing fifth as the 9-5 favorite in the Kentucky Derby.


MO TOM – G M B Racing's Mo Tom, with exercise rider Mario Garcia aboard, jogged to the starting gate for schooling before having a short gallop. On Friday, he'll gallop his usual two miles, trainer Tom Amoss said.

The colt was to go to the gate Wednesday, but Amoss said he called a last-minute audible. "I ended up changing my mind, because I was schooling him in the paddock, and I didn't want to throw too much at him.'' he said.

Corey Lanerie, Mo Tom's jockey, said he's grateful to have retained the mount. Lanerie's status was uncertain after the Louisiana Derby (GII), in which Mo Tom had a troubled stretch run. Lanerie tried to move him along the rail, but couldn't find running room. Mo Tom had to be checked for about a sixteenth of a mile and finished fourth.

After the race, Amoss strongly chewed out Lanerie, and in newspaper reports, Amoss put the blame squarely on the jockey.

"Like I tell everybody, the minute I came back on the horse, I wanted to get under a rock,'' Lanerie said. "And I could hear Tom, and I was just like, 'You know what Tom, give me what you've got. I'm sorry. There's nothing I could do. It's my fault. I don't remember what he said. ...

“I told that to him. I don't know if he heard it, but he's hollering. ... I was so embarrassed with myself for what had happened and for all the connections. I was so sorry for them. And I couldn't take it back and go do it again. So, I was heartbroken and embarrassed. I was in another world. I didn't hear him. I know he was mad and hollering, but I didn't know what he said.''

Back in the jockeys' room, Lanerie received a text from Amoss, who apologized for his outburst. "But like I told him, he really didn't have to do that, because, anybody in my life will tell you, I'm not a mean person,'' Lanerie said. "I give everybody all kind of options and look at things from the other side. It's not going to change our relationship. If he never rides me on another horse, I'll play golf with him next week or do whatever. Tom's a great guy and a great trainer, and he's been really helpful in my career.''

Mo Tom also had encountered traffic trouble in the stretch in the Risen Star (GII). Bistraya crossed toward the rail in front of him and Lanerie had to check Mo Tom sharply. He finished a close third.

"You know, everybody says, twice; I did it to him twice,'' Lanerie said. "The first time was not my fault at all.''

Amoss agrees that Lanerie wasn't at fault in the Risen Star. "He did nothing wrong,'' Amoss said.

But the Louisiana Derby was different, Lanerie said. "I really hadn't moved yet, and I ended up in a bad spot,'' he said. "I watch the replay, and I don't know how I ended up there. But it's only really been one time where I might have made a bad choice. So, we all make mistakes, and I know the horse. I don't blame them for sticking with me, but if they would not have, I could not be mad at them one bit. I'm human. My dad trains. I could have been on the other side of the fence. ... You can see them going somewhere else. But thank God, they didn't.''

Amoss said that as he was driving to Louisville on the Monday after the Louisiana Derby, he and Lanerie talked by telephone and tried to figure out how Lanerie could stay on Mo Tom.  Emotions had cooled.

"I know the media played it out for a long time after that, but Corey had other horses to ride in preps, and so we didn't want to say, ‘Corey's our rider’, and have Corey tell us, 'Listen, you know, I'm going to do something different.' So we wanted to wait for Corey. ... That's why we didn't say anything.''

Lanerie said that his non-combative response to the situation probably helped him stay on the horse. Also, Lanerie said, his success at Churchill Downs probably helped him, too.

"We all make mistakes, and I've done really well at Churchill, obviously,'' Lanerie said. "If I hadn't been leading rider here 10 times, I'm sure I wouldn't be on the horse. But I've done really well here.''

Amoss said: "It's a huge advantage. You know, people are like, 'Are you going to tell him not to go to the inside?' I'm not going to tell him anything. Corey knows how to ride a horse. I watched him win on the rail yesterday. If that's where he chooses to go, he thinks it's the best move.''

Lanerie, who will be riding in the Derby for the second time, finished 16th on Harry's Holiday in 2014. Mo Tom is a much different animal, Lanerie said.

"I only rode the Derby once, so it's easy to say it's my best chance, but I really think he has a real good chance,'' he said. "In my mind, he's one of the favorites. Besides what Nyquist has done, I think it's wide-open, and, you know, I really haven't had a chance to see his quarter of a mile run, except for in the LeComte.''


MY MAN SAM/SHAGAF – Trainer Chad Brown's Kentucky Derby duo followed their usual routine of going to the track to gallop 1 3/8 miles Thursday during the special 8:30 a.m. training time. Daniel Bernardini was on My Man Sam and Gian Cueva was on Shagaf.

On Wednesday evening, My Man Sam drew post position six and Shagaf got the 16 hole. Both positions were just fine with Brown.

“I'm happy with them,” Brown said. “I was hoping for more of inside post for My Man Sam and I wanted more of an outside post for Shagaf. He's just a big, steady moving horses and I don't want him losing his momentum once he gets to running. He should be OK from the 16.”


NYQUIST – The Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Nyquist was in the sizable grouping of Derby/Oaks horses who slipped through the six-furlong gap on the Churchill Downs’ backside Thursday morning at 8:30 to take advantage of a cleared racetrack for a bit of training. He was led out by assistant trainer Jack Sisterson on a pony with regular exercise rider Jonny Garcia in the tack.

            Trainer Doug O’Neill and a sizable contingent of the Nyquist “family” -- including owner Paul Reddam – watched the bay colt set out on his own and accomplish a gallop of a mile and three-eighths in strong fashion.

            On Saturday, the man in the saddle for Nyquist will be Mario Gutierrez, the same fellow who piloted the Reddam-owned and O’Neill-trained I’ll Have Another to Derby glory in 2012.

            What, O’Neill was asked, did the I’ll Have Another experience in Derby 138 do for him coming up to this year’s Derby 142?

            “It has allowed me to not be overwhelmed this time,” O’Neill said. “We found out that time that we had success doing what we’d been doing all along. It worked. So we’re just doing that again – same patterns, same style. We just want to stay on course. That’s what’s going to work. We know that now.”


OSCAR NOMINATEDKen and Sarah Ramsey’s Spiral (GIII) winner Oscar Nominated galloped at 8:30 Thursday morning with exercise rider Joel Barrientos at the controls. The son of Kitten’s Joy, a $200,000 supplemental nominee, arrived from nearby Trackside Training Center on Wednesday, and Thursday marked his first day on the Churchill track, although the colt had his final work for the big dance here April 29.

Back at the barn after Oscar Nominated’s Thursday training session, trainer Mike Maker, said it was business as usual for his 50-1 Derby entrant.

“Didn’t see anything that we don’t see every day from him — nice, smooth action,” Maker said.

Oscar Nominated will be Maker’s ninth Kentucky Derby starter and his fourth for the Ramseys.

“Ken’s enthusiasm is contagious — what a fun ride we have had together,” Maker said of the 13 years he has trained for the loquacious owner.


SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS Trainer Donnie Von Hemel and jockey Luis Quinonez have teamed for a lot of races together over the past 20 years, but Saturday will be biggest one when Quinonez rides the Von Hemel-trained Suddenbreakingnews in his first Kentucky Derby.

Overall, the two have won 202 races together, including such graded stakes as the Southwest Stakes (GIII) with Suddenbreakingnews, the Azeri Stakes (GII) with Gold Medal Dancer and Oaklawn Handicap (GII) and Pimlico Special (GIII) with Alternation.

“Luis has proven to be a very good jockey,” Von Hemel said. “He has a good, level head. He can tell you a lot about a horse. He's always been known as a strong finisher, which fits well with this horse. This race won't be too big for him.”

Suddenbreakingnews, owned by Texan Samuel F. Henderson, continued to prepare for his start in the Kentucky Derby by galloping 1 ½ miles Thursday morning under regular exercise rider Ramiro Gorostieta.


TOM’S READY – G M B Racing's Tom's Ready, with exercise rider Emerson Chavez aboard, galloped a mile and a half Thursday after the renovation break.

Trainer Dallas Stewart said he's relieved that in the post draw Wednesday Tom's Ready avoided landing in one of the inside three positions. He drew No. 12.

"When the one, two, three are sitting down in there, you're sitting there like, 'We've got to get by this,' '' Stewart said. "The maiden (Trojan Nation) gets the one. Now the two's laying out there. And somebody jumped in the three. Then they call out the 12, and your name goes out, and you go, ‘Whew. I'll take it.'

"The horse just needs to get out of the gate good, get a position, hopefully not get in trouble. A lot of things can happen with a 20-horse field. Don't kid yourself.''

Stewart said he's expecting a fast pace.

"Mohaymen is going to rock and roll,'' he said. "I think he'll rock and roll. If you work in :46, :47 in the morning, you can look for that in the afternoon, in my opinion.''

Positioning for Tom's Ready, of course, will be up to jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.

"You just have to leave it up to him,'' Stewart said. "You can't over-coach him. ... You just have to let it play out. I don't want him to be thinking (too much). I hired him to do the job. He knows how to get it done.''


TROJAN NATION – The big Street Cry colt Trojan Nation went out during the special Derby/Oaks training period at 8:30 Thursday morning just two days ahead of his attempt to become the first non-winning winner of the Kentucky Derby in 83 years.

            Trainer Paddy Gallagher had exerciser rider Andy Durnin take the Kentucky-bred maiden for a mile and one-half gallop on the Churchill strip. They reported back to Barn 41 in good order following the exercise.

            Trojan Nation drew post number one for the mile and a quarter test Saturday, which is sort of a “good news/bad news” thing in the trainer’s mind.

            “I don’t mind the post at all for position,” Gallagher said Thursday. “We’re going to come from the back anyway, so we’re on the rail right away and able to save ground. But I don’t like the fact that we’ll load first and will have to wait for everyone else to come in. But what are you going to do? That’s horse racing.”


WHITMOREEarlier in the week, trainer Ron Moquett used the word “happy” to describe his second straight Kentucky Derby starter and that continues to be the case, although Whitmore is putting more of a game face on each day.

“He cracks me up. He's all attitude,” said Moquett, who described how Whitmore threw him a warning kick Thursday morning when he was in his stall. “It's got to be his way. If we get the trip, they're going to know who we are after the race.”

Whitmore, accompanied by a stablemate, galloped one mile under Laura Moquett during the special 8:30 a.m. training session and also schooled in the paddock during this time.




CATHRYN SOPHIA – Cathryn Sophia’s owner, Chuck Zackney, was on hand to watch his filly gallop Thursday morning after the renovation break, her final track session in her preparation for tomorrow’s Kentucky Oaks.

The John Servis trainee, who was reluctant to exit the track after her Wednesday training session, was escorted off the track by a pony on Thursday without incident.

Zackney, of Afleet Alex fame, said he hasn’t run a horse at Churchill Downs since Afleet Alex finished third in the 2005 Derby. Afleet Alex, who was co-owned by Zackney, went on to win the Preakness (GI) and Belmont (GI).

Afleet Alex was named for his son, Alex, and Zackney has continued that tradition of naming horses for relatives. Cathryn Sophia is named after Zackney’s 19-year-old niece, a freshman at Rowan University in New Jersey.

“It’s actually going to be the first time Cathryn has seen her race,” Zackney said. “Everybody is really excited. I think we have about 20 people out here.”

The owner said he really tries to gauge a horse’s ability before attaching someone’s name to the horse.

“I asked John (Servis) if he thought this filly had a little bit of talent,” Zackney said. “I told John I wanted to name her after my niece, and he said that was a really good idea. I’m always looking to name horses after people, but I want to find out how the horses are before I name them. It’s a very tricky business, and I’ve been burnt several times with horses who haven’t been that successful.”

Zackney purchased Cathryn Sophia, the co-second choice in the Oaks, for $30,000 at auction and said the daughter of Street Boss completely surpassed his expectations. The filly enters the Oaks with a record of four wins in five starts, including the Forward Gal (GII) and Davona Dale (GII). Her sole defeat came in the Ashland (GI) when she finished third, beaten a half-length.

“This is a complete surprise,” Zackney said. “We were never expecting to be here at the Kentucky Oaks. It’s been a dream trip — since Oct. 30, her first race. Other than the last race, and losing by a couple feet, she has been perfect. We’re very optimistic; she has been training well and we’re happy with her post. We have our fingers crossed for tomorrow.”


DOTHRAKI QUEEN – Magdalena Racing’s Dothraki Queen galloped a little less than a mile and half under Erin Walker shortly after the track opened for training at 5:45 a.m.

            Dothraki Queen is on the also-eligible list for the Kentucky Oaks and would need one defection by scratch time at 9 a.m. Friday to make the race. Should she run, she would be ridden by Gary Stevens.

            Dothraki Queen won her first start at Churchill Downs in September in the Pocahontas (GII) and was placed third in the Golden Rod (GII) in November.

            “If she gets in, I’d like to see her get comfortable,” trainer Kenny McPeek said. “Have a decent pace and have something to run at. They are not going to worry about us.”


DREAM DANCE – Stoneway Farm’s Dream Dance was on the track shortly after 6 o’clock Thursday morning to gallop a mile and three-eighths under Joel Dominguez.

            “I wanted to get her out early when the track was good,” trainer Neil Howard said of his filly who galloped on a track labeled as “wet-fast.”

            Brian Hernandez Jr. will be aboard Dream Dance in her quest for her first stakes victory.

            “She has her work cut out for her,” Howard said. “I’d like to see her take advantage of the (early) speed.”


GO MAGGIE GO Mike Tarp’s Go Maggie Go schooled at the starting gate and galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Tammy Fox Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.

“She’s doing terrific,” Fox said. “She doesn’t act like a horse that’s run only twice. She’s very mature out there. She acts like an older horse. She does nothing wrong. She’s very professional out there.”

The late-developing Dale Romans-trained filly broke her maiden in her March 13 debut at Gulfstream Park by four lengths before scoring by 2 ¼ lengths in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) April 2.


LAND OVER SEA – The chestnut Bellamy Road filly Land Over Sea was sent trackside at approximately 6:50 Thursday morning for a final bit of exercise before her Friday run in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI).

            She had regular exercise rider Jonny Garcia up top and assistant trainer Jack Sisterson alongside on a pony as they went through the six-furlong gap on the Churchill Downs’ backstretch. The duo stayed together for a two-mile “backtracking” tour of the oval, a feat the filly accomplished with vim and vigor.

            “She’s ready,” Garcia said on the way back to Barn 41.

            Her trainer, Doug O’Neill, echoed that thought. “She is ready,” he said. “She had a good jog this morning. She’s feeling good and doing good. It’s time.”

            Since entering stakes company six races back, Land Over Sea has been stakes-placed four times and won another. The four stakes placings were all in the wake of champion Songbird. There will be no Songbird tomorrow and O’Neill and the other Land Over Sea connections – owner Paul Reddam and rider Mario Gutierrez – will tell you readily they are thankful for that.

            Land Over Sea is listed at 5-1 in the track’s morning line and will start from post 13 in the Oaks.


LEWIS BAYGazelle (GII) winner Lewis Bay changed up her routine slightly Thursday, training after her Kentucky Derby-bound stablemates My Man Sam and Shagaf instead of before. She came to the track at 9 a.m. and galloped 1 3/8 miles under Gian Cueva.  “She's doing well,” trainer Chad Brown said. “I'm happy with all my horses. They all drew good post positions, so we're good.”

Lewis Bay drew post three for Friday's Kentucky Oaks.


MO D’AMOUR/RACHEL’S VALENTINA – The pair of 3-year-old fillies trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle in the 142nd edition of the Kentucky Oaks (GI) Friday had their final bits of exercise Thursday morning at Churchill Downs, each galloping a mile and a quarter under exercise rider Amy Mullen.

            Mo d’Amour went out with the barn’s two Derby colts – Destin and Outwork – during the 8:30 special training period allotted for Derby and Oaks horses. Rachel’s Valentina had put in her high stepping at 6:30.  Both galloped strongly, especially so in the case of Rachel’s Valentina, who has seemed to get stronger in her drills as the week has gone along.

            Pletcher has captured the Oaks three times already -- with Ashado in 2004, Rags to Riches in 2007 and Princess of  Sylmar in 2013. He was asked if R

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Dominguez finds happiness away from racing

Ramon Dominguez can hear horses in his sleep.

Don’t be alarmed. It has nothing to do with any lingering effects from the brain injury he sustained in a spill at Aqueduct in 2013 that ultimately ended his riding career.

Just outside the windows of the Floral Park, N.Y., home he shares with his wife, Sharon, and the couple’s two children, Alex, 11, and Matthew, 9, Dominguez can see the strides and hear the breath of Thoroughbreds as they go through their morning exercise over the Belmont Park training track. Further off in the distance is the mammoth Belmont grandstand, in front of which Dominguez recorded 553 of his 4,985 career victories.

The sights and sounds outside his window are a reminder of what was and, unfortunately, what will never be again.

“At the beginning, I didn’t know if this was going to work with me living this close to the track because it’s a constant reminder,” Dominguez said in a recent interview at his home. “But maybe that has been really a blessing to be that connected, to say, ‘Hey, dude, get over it; it is what it is.’ I can watch horses train. It does not bother me at all.”

The sights and sounds of Dominguez’s brilliant, but too brief, career will be replayed frequently over the next few months. On Monday, it was announced that Dominguez was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. On Aug. 12, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. – across the street from the historic track he once ruled – Dominguez will be part of an A-list induction class that includes trainer Steve Asmussen and the champion racemares Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.

“It was very overwhelming in a positive way; I cried,” Dominguez said after getting the phone call about his election. “It is a great thing, a big, big honor. I’m very happy and proud to be recognized in such a big way.”

Dominguez, who came to the U.S. in 1995 from his native Venezuela, rode for 17 years. From 2000-12, he averaged 386 wins annually. He moved from the Mid-Atlantic region to the New York Racing Association circuit full time in 2009 and was the leading rider for four straight years. He won three consecutive Eclipse Awards from 2010-12.

As 2013 began, he was 33 wins shy of 5,000 career victories, a milestone he would have accomplished by the age of 36.

On Jan. 18, 2013, Dominguez was aboard Convocation in the seventh race, a $30,000 claiming event, at Aqueduct. Approaching the five-sixteenths pole, his mount clipped heels with the horse in front of him, and Dominguez went down hard to the inner track.

He was diagnosed with a fractured skull. Ultimately, there was damage to the brain. Though he underwent extensive therapy, doctors told Dominguez they feared what could happen if he were to fall again. Dominguez announced his retirement on June 13, 2013.

Dominguez, 39, said he consulted with other doctors about the feasibility of a return. All had the same message.

“The degree of my injury was severe enough where all of the doctors that I have seen, they just don’t want me to be exposed to hitting my head again,” Dominguez said. “It’s not like breaking a bone, where you heal. It’s something that accumulates. At this point, they are very pleased with my recovery, but the truth is there is even right now concern about the future and being exposed to hitting my head.”

Dominguez said there was “a grieving period” after he realized that his career was complete. But he now seems at peace with the fact that he never again will be able to sit on a speeding Thoroughbred’s back, sneaking through a narrow opening and getting a victory in the final jump.

“Although I said what I did for a career as a jockey did not define me, at the same time, you can’t help to feel identified with that to the extent you feel like it’s a part of you,” Dominguez said. “That is a process. It can be painful at times, but by now, I am able to understand that it’s not only unavoidable, but it’s also necessary in order to move forward.”

Revered as much for his professionalism and politeness as he was for his talent, Dominguez was offered many opportunities to work in the racing industry. He turned down offers to work as a jockey agent, bloodstock agent, or syndicate representative and has found contentment outside of the racing arena.

Dominguez, who always fancied himself a bit of entrepreneur, is a distributor for LifeVantage, a network marketing company dealing with health and wellness products. Dominguez’s success as a distributor is somewhat predicated on the success of others, many of whom he recruits and helps get started in the business.

Dominguez said he has used traits similar to what made him successful as a rider – discipline, a strong worth ethic, and communication – in this business.

“I enjoy this as much as riding racehorses,” Dominguez said. “I love the fact that I’m empowering people to reach their full potential … helping people to have more flexibility when it comes to having more time to spend with their loved ones. I unfortunately missed out on a lot because of the demands of my career as a jockey. I’m helping people to [make] more money because money is very important, and most people these days are not making enough or in many cases want to have more security. So, those are three elements. In order to do this, we cannot avoid going through an amazing personal growth that is priceless.”

In this business, Ramon gets to work with his wife, Sharon. In the summer of 2012, months before Ramon’s accident, Sharon Dominguez was introduced to the products of LifeVantage. Initially reticent of the network-marketing strategy, she did more research and is now a big proponent of the business model.

“It had everything that would make sense for us,” Sharon Dominguez, 44, said. “All my business buttons lit up.”

In their business, Ramon and Sharon offer support for others entering the arena. Aside from the work they do with LifeVantage, the Dominguezes have started their own website,, on which they hope to share their life experiences.

“Ramon and I have been through a lot, especially over the last three years, and we want to be able to share our experiences in life with other people,” Sharon Dominguez said. “If we can help somebody navigate through that or get through that with hope and show there’s light at the end of the tunnel, that’s where the true blessing lies.”

Ramon credits Sharon with bringing him back to the racing community. For a long time after the accident, Ramon would not attend the races or even watch them on television. His visits to the backside at Belmont are more frequent, and Dominguez does a lot of work for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

“I am thankful that Sharon pulled me by the hair,” he said. “If it was up to me, it would have literally been years before I went to the track. I actually now enjoy going to the track, not that I go often. I’m planning to go to Saratoga quite a bit.”

Dominguez is planning to attend next Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. It will be his first time at Churchill Downs since 2012, when he rode Hansen to a ninth-place finish in the Derby.

Dominguez said he doesn’t have a specific rooting interest in the race, though he has become close with Irad Ortiz Jr., who will ride My Man Sam in the Derby.

“I will just be watching the race,” he said. “If it comes down to the end and one of the guys I rode with on a daily basis has a chance to win, then I’ll pull for them.”

Attending the world’s most famous horse race is another step in the moving-on process for Dominguez.

“I will always miss riding races,” Dominguez said. “I absolutely love the sport, but I can sincerely say that I’ve been able to turn the page, and it’s not something that I have to try to forget. No, no. Some of the greatest memories of my life are at the racetrack, and it’s something I will always cherish.”

Wednesday, May 04, 2016


On a partly cloudy Kentucky morning, all but three of the players for Saturday’s 142nd Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) went about their business on a fast track at Churchill Downs. All the activity was done before steady rain began before noon.

            Only Lani, who had worked five furlongs the day before, and Oscar Nominated, who arrived from the nearby Trackside Training Center, did not go to the track. Both are slated to return to the track in the morning.

            Laoban, who will be on the also-eligible list, arrived at Churchill Downs at 7:30 after vanning from Keeneland.

            The undefeated Nyquist, the reigning 2-year-old champion of 2015 and probable Derby favorite, jogged two miles, visited the starting gate and schooled in the paddock.

            Next up after the morning activity is the post position draw that will be held at 5:30 this afternoon in the Aristides Lounge.




BRODY’S CAUSE/CHERRY WINEAlbaugh Family Stable’s Brody’s Cause and William Pacella, Frank L. Jones Jr. and Frank Shoop’s Cherry Wine galloped 1½ miles Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs. Brody’s Cause also stood in the starting gate during his training session.

Brody’s Cause, the Toyota Blue Grass (GI) winner, has secured a spot in the 20-horse field for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, while Blue Grass third-place finisher Cherry Wine also was entered in the Run for the Roses Wednesday morning, but will need a few defections to draw off the also-eligible list and into the field.

Romans has started six horses in the Kentucky Derby, including third-place finishers Paddy O’Prado (2010) and Dullahan (2012) and fourth-place finisher Shackleford (2011). Shackleford went on to give Romans’ his first success in the Triple Crown with a victory in the Preakness Stakes

The multiple-Grade I stakes winner Brody’s Cause has given Romans reason to think that a coveted victory in the Derby is well within his capability.

“He’s the best shot I’ve had and he’s going to be the lowest price of any horse I’ve run. We don’t have a question mark right now. He’s won on the racetrack. He’ll go the distance. He’s beaten 14-horse fields,” Romans said. “He’s done everything you need to make it to the winner’s circle for the Derby.”

Owners Dennis and Susan Albaugh have announced that if Brody’s Cause should win the Derby, they will make a $500,000 donation from his winner’s purse to the Des Moines Area Community College Foundation. Dennis Albaugh is a 1972 graduate of DMACC. The Albaughs recently were recognized for their $1 million donation at the ribbon cutting of DMACC’s renovated Iowa Culinary Institute.


CREATOR/GUN RUNNER – Trainer Steve Asmussen's Kentucky Derby duo – WinStar Farm's Creator and Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm's Gun Runner – returned to the track Wednesday morning for the first time since they worked Monday.

After the renovation break, Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Gun Runner galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Carlos Rosas, and Arkansas Derby (GI) winner Creator galloped that distance under exercise rider Abel Flores.

At the barn, Asmussen expressed his satisfaction with how Gun Runner has developed. "His progression has been very good starting from last year,'' Asmussen said. "He's always had a lot of talent. I think physically, he has continued to develop, and with that, he's gotten a little stronger, a little faster all along.

"And after he won the Louisiana Derby, we thought ... the time, the spacing, that it was going our way, Ron (Winchell) asked, 'Will he be here the way we want him to be in six weeks?' We're on top of that. The question is about to be answered.''

As a 2-year-old, Gun Runner ran fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII) at Churchill Downs.

"I think we learned that he was competitive at that level but felt he needed to improve,'' Asmussen said. "What would do that for us was time and maturity. Pedigree-wise, he's a horse that should be better with time, being out of a very good Giant’s Causeway mare, a (half-brother) to Saint Liam, horses that came on later in their careers. And I think we are seeing that from him.''

The colts schooled in the paddock Tuesday afternoon.  A photograph taken by Barbara Livingston for Daily Racing Form showed Creator standing upright on his hind legs, and Gun Runner watching from the next stall. Asmussen said the photo reveals the energy of an energetic young athlete.

"They're ready,'' he said. "They're at their peak physical. We're 'Wait. Not yet.' We're in the Not yet mode. And I think both horses, just like today, first day back (to the track), I get awfully concerned about them jumping or stepping on themselves. They're very physical animals. Abel and Carlos were on them a good 10 minutes up and around the barn just for that purpose. Creator is very reactive. Something happens ... he responds to it. He is awake and alive. Gun Runner is very similar.

"And I thought the picture, Creator is standing up like that, and Gun Runner is looking over at him like, 'It's your turn,' like, 'It's me next. You now. Me next.' They're well aware of what they do for a living. They're racehorses, and they can feel the anticipation. And they're on edge. They're on edge. With Creator, that's what the schooling's about. Went over there. Stood in the paddock. Stuff like that. Excellent. And when we saddled him up, he really puffed up. That was what it's from.

"We'll go over there. We'll keep him moving a little bit more. We'll be a little more gradual with our approach to that. That's what the schooling allows us, for how they'll react to the things that happen.''

Asmussen said that Creator's behavior before the Arkansas Derby was a tip-off that the colt would run well. That race always draws a large crowd. The horses are led to the infield after saddling inside.

"I do think that you get a lot horses that run their race out of the Arkansas Derby in the Kentucky Derby through history,'' Asmussen said. "And I think the pageantry of that (Arkansas Derby) does set them up, to a degree, for the pageantry of the Derby. ... And I do love how he responded to it. He was very focused that day. In prerace for Creator before the Arkansas Derby, you were very confident, because he had his game face on. The race wasn't going to surprise him. It's like, 'We're here to run.' And I did like his focus, and I thought that the trip Ricardo (Santana Jr.) gave him in the Arkansas Derby translates very well to a crowded race of the (Kentucky) Derby.''


DANZING CANDY – It was a busy second morning at Churchill Downs for Halo Farms and Jim and Dianne Bashor’s Danzing Candy. The San Felipe (GII) winner galloped, visited the starting gate and walked through the paddock, with Rolando Quinones in the irons.

Trainer Cliff Sise Jr. said he was happy with all elements of Danzing Candy’s schooling and training session.

Looking ahead to this afternoon’s post position draw for the Derby, Sise said a favorable post for his front-runner is key.

“The draw is very important,” Sise said. “(Post) 10 would be perfect; that way he loads second-to-last, and if the other speed in the race drew inside of us that also would be perfect. Every post he has drawn, he has drawn inside of a speed horse, so we’ve had to send him. He will (go to the lead) on his own, but we’ve never had the opportunity to draw outside and lope around and lay second.”


DAZZLING GEM Trainer Brad Cox called an audible and did not enter Saturday’s Kentucky Derby or Pat Day Mile (GII) with Steve Landers Racing's Dazzling Gem

Cox previously had said Dazzling Gem was under consideration for the Peter Pan Stakes (GII) at Belmont May 14 or the Preakness Stakes (GII) at Pimlico May 21.

With exercise rider Fernando Espinoza aboard, Dazzling Gem galloped the renovation break.


DESTIN/OUTWORK – Trainer Todd Pletcher had his Derby duo out for good gallops during the special 8:30 a.m. training time for Derby/Oaks horses Wednesday morning. Ovel Merida had his usual spot aboard Destin for the exercise, while Hector Ramos was the man on Outwork. Joining in for the pre-Derby run-up excitement was the New Yorker’s New Yorker, Mike Repole, on the scene to watch the colt (Outwork) he not only owns, but bred, go through his paces. Besides his gallop, Outwork spent a bit of time standing at the gate.

            Both of Pletcher’s charges – the gray son of Giant’s Causeway, Destin, and the bay colt by Uncle Mo, Outwork – have speed and both figure to be forwardly placed in the Derby field of 20. That should be an advantage in the chock-full Run for the Roses.

            “There appear to be more deep closers than normal in this year’s Derby,” Pletcher said trackside Wednesday morning. “And on paper, it looks like the race should spread out (early). That should be good for us. Of course, we all know about a race on paper and a race for real. Sometimes, they don’t resemble each other at all.”

            One of the reasons Pletcher is able to have a bit more confidence than most and probably sleep a bit better at night, too, is that he hires some of the best riders in the world to steer his horses, especially in a “rider’s race” such as the Kentucky Derby. For this year’s 142nd edition of the race he’ll have two of the best on his side – Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard Outwork and Javier Castellano, currently the leading rider in the county for money won, on Destin.


EXAGGERATOR – “He’s settled in. It’s feeling like home here now.”

            That was trainer Keith Desormeaux’s assessment of Exaggerator’s mind-set concerning Churchill Downs and his Barn 25 headquarters. The Curlin colt can say that Churchill is his sixth racetrack so far and his connections can note that his experience (his nine starts, along with a like number for rival Tom’s Ready, are the most of any horse in the Derby field) and his credentials (four victories, including three graded stakes and more than $1.6 million in purses) are solid statements for continued success heading into Kentucky Derby 142.

            Desormeaux had exercise rider Peedy Landry aboard for some exercise Wednesay morning coming into the 8:30 special training period for Derby and Oaks runners. He instructed his rider to take Exaggerator through a mile and one-half gallop, as well as a short period of standing at the gate. They did so.

            “I’m going to have to get him over to the paddock in the afternoon,” the trainer said. “Either today or tomorrow.”


FELLOWSHIPOn Wednesday morning, when the connections of Fellowship knew for sure they would be No. 21, the first horse on the also-eligibles, they decided not to enter the Derby. Instead, Fellowship, who is owned by Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm, has been entered to run on the undercard in the Pat Day Mile (GIII).

“(Fred) and I started talking about it, and he said, ‘What do you think about running in the Pat Day?’ ” Casse said. “I said, ‘Well, he is training good here and it’s not going to hurt him. If we were going to run in the Derby and run in the Preakness, why can’t we run in the Pat Day and run in the Preakness?’ ”

In other doings at the Casse barn, University of Louisville shooting and point guard, David Levitch, is interning for the stable as part of his studies for his major, sports administration. The 21-year-old Levitch is a native of Kentucky and may be interested in pursuing a career on the racetrack.

“I’ve been hot-walking and just learning,” Levitch said Wednesday morning at the Casse barn. “I met the Casses last year, and we’ve been friends ever since. They gave me a chance to do this; I’m very grateful. It’s cool to be in this barn and around horses like (Eclipse Award winner) Tepin.”


LANI – Koji Maeda’s Lani was hand-walked in Barn 17 Wednesday morning, a day after working five furlongs in 1:01.

            Trainer Mikio Matsunaga said that the UAE Derby (Group II) winner came out of the work in good order and would return to the track Thursday morning.

            With Lani’s activity confined to the barn, Matsunaga was asked if he planned on scouting the opposition during the 8:30-8:45 training period reserved for Kentucky Derby hopefuls.

            “Not especially. I want to stay in my barn and look after my horse,” Matsunaga said, adding that he has been doing some scouting. “I have been watching videos of the horses.”

            Matsunaga arrived in Louisville on Monday and has had two days to soak in the atmosphere surrounding the Kentucky Derby.

            “It is much, much greater than I expected,” Matsunaga said. “There is nothing like this at home before the Japan Derby.”


LAOBAN – McCormick Racing LLC and Southern Equine Stable’s Laoban was entered in the Derby, following the Wednesday morning news that Fellowship, No. 21 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, would not enter. Adventist, No. 22, is based in New York and it would have been impossible for him to arrive by Wednesday’s noon deadline for Derby horses to be on the grounds at Churchill Downs.

Laoban, who was 23rd on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard before the defections, arrived from Keeneland at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to his trainer, Eric Guillot. He is stabled in Barn 20. Guillot named jockey Cornelio Velasquez to ride.

The Louisiana-bred trainer, well-known for his colorful comments, remarked he would proceed with “a voodoo ritual” to ensure there would be one defection among the 20 starters entered, paving his way to secure a spot in the gate for the 142nd Run for the Roses.

Since finishing fourth in the Toyota Blue Grass (GI), Laoban has had two works at Keeneland, one at five furlongs, the other at six furlongs.

“Like smoked ham, we’re always ready,” Guillot said of Laoban’s preparedness for a possible start in the Derby.

Laboan, a front runner, will jog two miles on Thursday morning at 8:30, Guillot said, and paddock school on a day to be determined.


MAJESTO Grupo 7C Racing Stable’s Majesto galloped once around the Churchill Downs oval Wednesday morning.

            The ownership group’s president, Alejandro Ceballos, joined trainer Gustavo Delgado from Venezuela for the Florida Derby (GI) runner-up’s morning activity.

            “I have been here six times without having any horses. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was 6 years old,” Ceballos said through an interpreter.

            Majesto, a son of Tiznow who was bought at the 2014 Keeneland September sale for $300,000, was named for Ceballos’ sons.

            “It’s a combination of Mauro and Jesus and the ‘to’ is for everyone else,” said Ceballos, who owns Haras Urama, a commercial breeding farm with 57 broodmares, in Venezuela. “We name our horses for members of our families.”

            Jesus, a member of the popular Venezuelan singing duo of Jesus & Yorky, also was on hand Wednesday morning.

            “I’ve loved horses since I was 6. I wanted to be a jockey but I grew too tall,” the 18-year-old said. “I fell in love with this horse the first time I saw him.”

            #Majesto began trending on Twitter in Venezuela after earning a Kentucky Derby spot with his second-place finish behind Nyquist in the Florida Derby.

            “Venezuela is a very horse-related country. After Majesto got second place in the Florida Derby everyone is talking about the horse,” Ceballos said.

            Delgado, who had saddled the winners of four Triple Crowns in Venezuela, has been training in South Florida for two years.

            “I came to the United Stakes in 2014 and went to Gulfstream. Now, I’m happy to have a horse in the Kentucky Derby and all the stakes. I’m happy for myself; I’m very happy for my people; I’m very happy for my owner,” Delgado said. “To be in the Kentucky Derby in the second year, it’s good luck. Everything is possible.”


MOHAYMENShadwell Stable’s Mohaymen visited the Churchill Downs paddock and galloped 1 ½ miles Wednesday morning.

            “It was his best day galloping, and he was great in the paddock for 30 minutes, so we had an excellent day,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

            Saturday, the son of Tapit will attempt to rebound from his first career loss as the 4-5 favorite in the Florida Derby (GI) at Gulfstream Park on April 2 after winning his first five career starts.

“First of all, it rained. There was water standing on the racetrack, and where we were on the racetrack was the worst part. We broke from nine out of 10. It’s an eighth of a mile into the first turn. We’re very wide and on a part of the racetrack that wasn’t a good spot to be that day. I feel very strongly about that,” McLaughlin said. “We ran 54 feet farther than Nyquist and on the worst part of the racetrack.”

Wednesday’s training session made McLaughlin even more confident that Mohaymen will be up to the demands of Kentucky Derby Day.

“He’s a lovely mover, has a great mind, and we think that’s very important on Derby Day. Nothing bothers him, and that’s a big plus in the paddock that day,” McLaughlin said. “He just does everything right. He’s such a special horse. He’s a beautiful mover, light on his feet; you don’t even see him switch leads. He’s just such a special colt. We’ve never had one like this at this stage of the going as a 3-year-old.”

McLaughlin has saddled six Kentucky Derby starters, including 2005 runner-up Closing Argument.


MOR SPIRIT – Michael Petersen's Mor Spirit, accompanied by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes aboard Smokey, the stable pony, returned to the track two days after his final work. He galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider George Alvarez, while trainer Bob Baffert watched from just beside the five-furlong track gap.

Although Baffert acknowledges he's flying under the radar this year as he seeks his fifth Kentucky Derby victory, he has been pleased with how Mor Spirit has trained.

“I've been in 16 Kentucky Derbys and have been fortunate to win four of them,” Baffert said. “This is a good horse. We just need a good draw and a good break.”


MO TOM – G M B Racing's Mo Tom, with exercise rider Mario Garcia aboard, galloped a mile and a half Wednesday for trainer Tom Amoss after the renovation break. Also, Mo Tom schooled in the starting gate, and he was scheduled to school in the paddock in the afternoon.

"In the Risen Star (GII), he was a little silly in the gate, but never before,'' Amoss said. "And I just want to make sure we don't get that on Saturday. Everything needs to be right, and taking him to the gate a second time, there's no downside to it.''

Mo Tom will be Amoss' fifth Derby starter. Amoss finished 15th with Lone Star Sky in 2003, 20th with Backtalk in 2010, fifth with Mylute in 2013 and 16th with War Story last year. None of those horses was as serious a contender as Mo Tom, Amoss said.

"I think Mylute had an outside chance,'' Amoss said. "But the other horses which I ran were horses that deserved to be in the race. They earned their way in. But the reality of them winning the race was a tremendous longshot at best. This horse is different. He has a real chance on Saturday, and we'll see how it plays out.”

Amoss, 54, said that with experience, he has learned to change his approach to the Derby.

"Inevitably, when you're in the Derby, you want the media to talk well of your horse,'' he said. "And I think as a rookie trainer, you can get caught up and try to do things with your horse to give him a little bit of a ‘Wow’ factor for the media, so that they say nice things.

"Those days are gone for me. I couldn't care less what the media says about my horse, although the comments have been good. But that's really a non-factor. I do my thing with my horse. I'm totally focused on my horse. Let the chips fall.''

Still, Amoss understands that the Derby is not just another race. "You have to deal with a tremendous amount of scrutiny,'' he said. "The horse-racing media world has converged on Churchill Downs. The horses are very distinguishable by their saddled towels with their names on it. Everything you do with that horse on the racetrack is dissected and looked at. So, you're definitely under the microscope in that sense.

"There can be pressure involved with that, and pressure to do maybe not necessarily what you want to do but more what you think is going to be pleasing to the people watching the horse. I can just tell you from experience that that's the wrong approach. The right approach is to know you job and have confidence in what you're doing.''


MY MAN SAM/SHAGAFTrainer Chad Brown's Kentucky Derby duo went to the track to gallop 1 3/8 miles Wednesday during the special 8:30 a.m. training time. Daniel Bernardini was on My Man Sam and Gian Cueva was on Shagaf.

My Man Sam most recently finished second in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) after breaking from post 14. Brown is hopeful both his starters will have better luck at today's Kentucky Derby draw.

“We're happy with both of them,” said Brown. “Hopefully, (My Man Sam) won't have to overcome a bad post for the second straight time. We just want them both to get good posts, but that's out of our hands. It's just a part of horse racing.”


NYQUIST – The likely Kentucky Derby favorite, Nyquist, got busy a bit earlier than usual Wednesday morning, bypassing the special training period at 8:30 to come out about 7:15 and check off some boxes on his way to the big race Saturday.

             Regular exercise rider Jonny Garcia was in the tack and trainer Doug O’Neill assistant Jack Sisterson was alongside on a pony when the Uncle Mo colt set out from Barn 41 to do the sort of things a good Derby horse must do. Those things consisted of a two-mile jog the “wrong way” around the one-mile oval, a stand in the starting gate and a session of familiarity in the Churchill Downs paddock. Thus exercised and educated, the racy bay went back home where one of his rewards was a refreshing bath under the Kentucky sun.

            “We had him out early today because he had so many things we wanted to accomplish,” said O’Neill’s chief assistant, Leandro Mora. “We wanted to get him to the gate and into the paddock and we just needed more time for that. It gets hectic during that 8:30 time and we wanted to avoid all that.”

            Heading east from California Wednesday was Paul Reddam, the owner of Nyquist (as well as Kentucky Oaks filly Land Over Sea). He was to be on board for the Derby Draw Wednesday evening, then no doubt would be at the barn Thursday. The owner, of course, will be bringing with him the dream of doing what he did in 2012 with O’Neill and rider Mario Gutierrez (who handles Nyquist), which was win the Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another. The betting will be that he can.


OSCAR NOMINATEDKen and Sarah Ramsey’s Oscar Nominated, the lone supplemental nomination at $200,000, arrived at Churchill Downs’ Barn 27 at approximately 5:30 this morning from his home base at the nearby Trackside Training Center. The son of Kitten’s Joy, who was fitted with new shoes a few hours after his arrival, did not train this morning, but will go to the track to gallop Thursday. He was scheduled to paddock school during the races Wednesday.

Accompanying the Mike Maker-trained Oscar Nominated to Churchill was Nolan Ramsey, the grandson of the horse’s owners. The 19-year-old works for Maker, and just completed his freshman year at the University of Louisville.

The Ramseys, who are seeking their first Derby victory, have started seven horses in the Kentucky Derby, and Nolan, who hopes to become a trainer one day, was there to watch all of them run, save for one year.

“I remember one Derby I had to stay home with strep throat,” Ramsey said as he held the shank of Oscar Nominated while he was being shod. “I really can’t remember my first Derby, because it was so long ago.”


SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS Samuel F. Henderson's Suddenbreakingnews, accompanied by trainer Donnie Von Hemel, went to the track during the special 8:30 training time and galloped one mile under regular rider Ramiro Gorostieta. He also stood in the starting gate.

“No complaints here,” Von Hemel said. “He continues to do well. He was a little on his toes after the starting gate because I think he wanted to do more. He couldn't be doing any better.”

Henderson and jockey Luis Quinonez are expected to be at the post position draw this afternoon.


TOM’S READY – G M B Racing's Tom's Ready, with exercise rider Emerson Chavez aboard, galloped a mile and a half Wednesday after the renovation break for trainer Dallas Stewart.

Stewart, 56, is participating in his fifth Derby. He finished sixth with Kimberlite Pipe in 1999, 15th with Dollar Bill in 2001, second with 37-1 shot Golden Soul (behind Orb) in 2013 and second with 34-1 shot Commanding Curve (behind California Chrome) in 2014.

Also, Stewart, as an assistant trainer, helped Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas prepare three Derby winners – Winning Colors in 1988, Thunder Gulch in 1995 and Grindstone in 1996. Stewart was with Lukas for every Derby from 1987-97, the year Stewart went out on his own.

How important is experience for a trainer trying to win the Kentucky Derby? Stewart's response focused on the horse, not the trainer.

"You've got to have a horse that can compete in the wintertime to kind of get you where you need to be,'' he said. "You've got to be competitive through the winter the way this horse (Tom's Ready) was. The three seconds, and you have to build from there, and focus him and train him and challenge him. The horse has to make steps forward through the winter and early spring to win this race. They've got to compete.

"You can't just say he's by this sire, he's out of this mare and stuff like that. The horse has to compete on his own merit, and I feel like this horse competed well on his merit. I feel like he's made some leaps here and made some steps here and gotten better at what he does. I feel like he has to get a little better and hopefully ... he'll go forward. That's what it's all about.

"You take Winning Colors. She just whipped them in the Santa Anita Oaks, Santa Anita Derby. She was just spot-on. She walked in here and got the job done.

"Then you go to Grindstone. He won the Louisiana Derby and ran second in the Arkansas Derby. He had some physical issues. Actually, I liked Editor's Note. It was the same year. He trained unreal, but Grindstone just whipped the shucks out of him. Just whipped the pants off him.

"Then you go to Thunder Gulch. Todd (Pletcher, then a Lukas assistant) had him in Florida. He won the Florida Derby. Then we ran him in Blue Grass, and he ran (fourth). I don't know why. I still to this day don't know why. But he came out of it. We trained him. He had a couple of mishaps. One day, he didn't train very good. But the horse was a stone-cold racehorse. That's the thing. When you hook a stone-cold racehorse, like California Chrome ... or Orb, you're going to get beat. That's just going to happen. You just have to hope you're the best on that day, your preparation is good, you've done what you need to do as a horseman and get them over there.''

Stewart, who is from New Orleans, is turning to Louisiana native Brian Hernandez Jr. to ride Tom's Ready. Hernandez, 30, will be making his Derby debut. He was named on Tale of Verve for the Derby last year, but he was on the also-eligible list and didn't get into the race.

"It's exciting, of course,'' Hernandez said. "It'll be nice. We have a lot of family coming in.''

Hernandez rode Tom's Ready in four of his nine starts, including the most recent, when the colt finished second, 4 1/2 lengths behind Gun Runner, in the Louisiana Derby.

"It looks like he's stepping up, and Dallas believes that he's coming into this race really, really good,'' Hernandez said. "With a record like Dallas, with the horses he's run in the Derby the last few years, you have to think that he's got a big chance, the way he's done everything.

"The mile and a quarter is going to be a question for any 3-year-old at this point. None of them has tried the mile and a quarter yet. It'll be the first time for all of them. So we just have to go in there with a lot of confidence in our horse and think he's going to show up.''

Hernandez said that a key to riding Tom's Ready is not letting him get too aggressive early in the race, because if that happens, he won't finish strongly. "If you get him to kind of settle and get in a nice rhythm, he runs on,'' Hernandez said.

"It's pretty easy, if you just kind of know him. Like the Louisiana Derby, he wanted to get a little aggressive going into the first turn, but after he got through the first turn, I was able to drop my hands and let him float along.''


TROJAN NATION – Paddy Gallagher and his fine Irish brogue made it in from California Tuesday night and Wednesday morning he was at Barn 41 to oversee Trojan Nation’s mile and one-eighth gallop under fellow Irishman Andy Durnin. They got their exercise in during the 8:30 special training time for Derby and Oaks runners. Both ex-pats were happy with their charge.

            “Realistically, you’ve got to look at one thing – he’s a maiden,” said Gallagher, about his big Street Cry colt who is stakes placed, but 0-for-6 on the scorecard so far. “Now he’s a grand, big horse and he might have liked the mud last time (when he was second in New York’s Wood Memorial) when he ran so well. But remember, he’s a maiden. But it is exciting for his people and that’s a good thing. The owner says he’s well-bred and (that) because of it he should like a mile and a quarter. And the people at the farm where he was are loving this. And it surely is better being here than not and we’re keeping the positives right up front. Just remember, though, he’s a maiden.”

            Gallagher will give old pro Aaron Gryder (who rode him in the Wood) a leg up Saturday for Derby 142. 

            “I want him to come back sound and safe,” the trainer said, “and then – no matter what -- we’ll go from there.”


WHITMOREWhitmore went to the track with a workmate Wednesday, jogging one mile and galloping one mile with Laura Moquett on board. Trainer Ron Moquett explained that the workmate helps the Pleasantly Perfect gelding stay relaxed on the track.             

Moquett believes that today's post position draw will be extremely important to how this year's Kentucky Derby unfolds.

“This year, more than other years, the post position is going to be very key,” Moquett said. “I think there's easily 10 or more horses in here that could win with the right trip, our horse included. At this point we're all the same. None of them has gone a mile and a quarter.”

Whitmore enters the Kentucky Derby off a third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (GI), which Moquett feels will be an advantage to his horse Saturday.

“The Arkansas Derby is as good a prep as any of them,” Moquett said. “There's a big crowd when the horses walk over to the paddock and that paddock is an education in itself.”

Whitmore will school in the paddock today and tomorrow during the races.




CATHRYN SOPHIA – Cash is King’s Cathryn Sophia, the co-second choice in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, put on a little show for onlookers as she was approaching the gap to exit the track following a routine gallop Wednesday. With exercise rider Jerry Ortega in the saddle, the John Servis-trained filly spun around a few times, displaying a reluctance to proceed off the track. She finally cooperated when Tyler Servis, the trainer’s son and assistant, took hold of her head.

“That’s her; she didn’t want to leave the track,” the elder Servis said. “I was thinking about jogging her tomorrow, but I don’t think I will get away with that, so we’ll probably gallop.”


DOTHRAKI QUEEN – Magdalena Racing’s Dothraki Queen jogged a mile and galloped a mile shortly after the track opened at 5:45 under Erin Walker.

            Dothraki Queen is on the also-eligible list for the Kentucky Oaks and would need one defection to draw into the race.

            Trainer Kenny McPeek opted to enter the Oaks rather the Edgewood (GIII) on Friday.

            “(Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner) Catch a Glimpse is in the Edgewood and it is a field of 13,” McPeek said. “That did not look like an easier spot and it is $150,000 and the Oaks is a million. With Catch a Glimpse in there, it should be upgraded and the purse doubled.”

            Should Dothraki Queen draw into the Oaks, she would be ridden by Gary Stevens.

            “She is doing good and I think she’d run well,” McPeek said. “She already has won a Grade II on dirt (the Pocahontas here in September). The backup plan possibly would be the ($250,000) Black-Eyed Susan (GII at Pimlico on May 20).”


DREAM DANCE – Stoneway Farm’s Dream Dance was on the track at 6:45 Wednesday morning and galloped 1 ¾ miles under Joel Dominguez for trainer Neil Howard.

            Dream Dance, listed at 30-1 on the morning line, will break from post position five under Brian Hernandez Jr. Hernandez has ridden Dream Dance in all nine of her starts.

            “She is a nice filly,” Hernandez said. “She came off that four-month layoff to be second in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) and then had the nice win at Keeneland (in an allowance race).”

            Dream Dance finished her major work for the Oaks with a :59.60 drill last Friday.

            “She is not real flashy; she’s very workmanlike,” Hernandez said. “She shows up and gives you 110 percent every time. She is very honest.”


GO MAGGIE GOOn Saturday, Trojan Nation will attempt to make history as the first non-winner in more than 80 years to break his maiden in thoroughbred racing's most famous race, the Kentucky Derby.

For veteran jockey Aaron Gryder, however, the challenge aboard the Grade 1 Wood Memorial runner-up is a welcome one.

A respected journeyman on the ultra-competitive New York and Southern California circuits, Gryder's nearly 30-year career has included over 3,700 wins and purse earnings in excess of $118 million; most notably piloting Well Armed to a record-setting 22-length victory in the 2008 Dubai World Cup.

Gryder, preparing for his first Kentucky Derby since finishing 13th aboard Songandaprayer in 2001, returned his tack to New York full-time last fall. That circumstance eventually helped match an unknown colt with a willing rider when California-based trainer Paddy Gallagher shipped Julie Gilbert and Aaron Sones' homebred Trojan Nation to the East Coast to try their hand on the Derby trail on April 9 in the $1 million Wood Memorial.

"As soon as the overnight came out, I saw I was on one for them in the Wood," said Gryder, currently a finalist for the 2016 Mike Venezia Memorial Award. "He had run five times prior so I went to the computer and I had watched all of his races by the time Aaron Sones called. I like to study horses, especially in the bigger races, and I told him, 'If I'm riding a maiden in a million-dollar race for you, I assume that he's shown talent and you had high hopes for him.'"

The bay colt had three third-place finishes from four starts against two-turn maidens going back to last fall, including a February showing at Santa Anita behind a well-regarded Bob Baffert trainee, next-out Grade 2 Rebel winner Cupid.

"By watching him, he had ran some decent races," said Gryder of his Wood mount. "A couple of them, he had laid back and made a little bit of a run. Once, they laid close to the pace and it was a slow pace but he flattened out.

"Then in his last start, you could tell that he broke well enough and then Drayden Van Dyke took a pretty good hold of him and got him back to last," he said. "He settled really good, ended up following the favorite, who was back there as well, and made a good run with him midway through the race but that horse out-footed him late. But it looked like that was his best race - when he settled back and just made that one run. He showed more interest in the last eighth of a mile than he did early on."

Sones and Gallagher, ostensibly encouraged enough by the colt's latest start to take a calculated shot at a spot in the Run for the Roses, were left with the same impression of the developing Trojan Nation.

"I felt that it was his best chance to get his feet underneath him and Aaron told me that's what he wanted to do in the Wood, just sit back there and make one run," said Gryder. "Then I talked to Paddy and he told me to just ride my race. So that's what I went into it thinking."

Breaking from post 3 as the longest shot in the eight-horse field, Gryder stuck to his plan, taking hold of his charge and dropping the colt along the rail going into the first turn. The pair had settled 17 lengths from the lead within the first quarter-mile, trailing off the edge of the television screen while Gryder remained unhurried as the field drew even further away on the backside. Resurfacing like a rocket on the far turn, Trojan Nation cut the corner for home and quickly caught up to the embattled leaders, Matt King Coal and Outwork, in the stretch.

The hard-charging colt bumped a tiring Matt King Coal as he dove through a tight opening on the rail. Quickly regaining his composure inside the sixteenth pole, Trojan Nation hooked up with Outwork and proved an audacious opponent, trading bobs with the winner in the final yards before the wire.
But, according to his jockey, the horse who previously hadn't finished within 1 ¾ lengths of a winner returned from the race seemingly unaware that he had actually come up a head short of the long sought-after career milestone.

"He doesn't know he lost," said Gryder. "He was in front a jump before and a jump after, and he galloped out in front. It's the first time he had been in front of a horse at the end of the race. I think he came out of that race with a lot of confidence."

Even without one in the win column, the bold effort was enough to lock down a spot on Saturday, when Trojan Nation will become the 10th maiden starter in the Kentucky Derby since 1937 and first since Nationalore in 1998. Only three maidens have won the Louisville classic in the race's 142-year history: Buchanan in 1884, 1919 Triple Crown winner Sir Barton and Brokers Tip in 1933.

For his part, Gryder isn't one to be as easily discouraged by something like an 82-year shutout, choosing instead to focus on his mount's budding talent.

"You're going to get a lot of things thrown at you in the Derby and it's good to know that a horse like him has matured in the right ways and he obviously took a huge step up in the Wood Memorial," he said. "I think he learned a lot from it and I surely learned something from him, knowing I can sit back there, that he didn't mind the dirt, that he didn't mind the mud in his face.


"He didn't mind me waiting on him and he was quick to respond underneath me around the five-sixteenths pole when I asked him to really pick it up, and I also know that he's not afraid to be in tight spots."

The 45-year-old jockey, a self-described "student of the game" who rode his first of three Kentucky Derbies at age 22 aboard Mi Cielo in 1993, finishing 14th, is eager for another opportunity to try for the most coveted crown in American racing.

"It's an exciting day, I've always enjoyed it, always respected it, even when I was a little kid. Every rider wants to win the Derby," he said. "I've just learned that you have to give your horse a chance and not get caught up in the fact that it's the Derby. Some people say just ride it like it's another race but it's not just another race. You have to respect how tough it is to win.

"Some riders never get the chance to ride it and some riders are in it every year, but every one that you ride is special," added the rider, who also rode Honour and Glory to finish 18th in the race's 1996 edition. "You're one of 20 riders in the country on one of 20 horses; you have a chance and you have to ride it like you have a chance. It's an American event, it's not just a race, it's the greatest two minutes in sports and it's an honor to be a part of it."

 NYRA Communications Department


Tuesday, May 03, 2016


The 1-2 finishers from last month’s Ashland Stakes (GI) at Keeneland, Ashbrook Farm’s Weep No More and Stonestreet Stables’ Rachel’s Valentina, sporting family ties to the Kentucky Oaks (GI), headline a field of 14 3-year-old fillies entered today for Friday’s 142nd running of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks to be run at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

            The Kentucky Oaks will go as the 11th race on Friday’s 13-race program that begins at 10:30 a.m. ET. Post time for the Kentucky Oaks is 5:49. The Oaks is one of six graded stakes on the program that also features the $300,000 La Troienne (GI) and the $400,000 Alysheba (GII).

            The Oaks, which awards $564,200 to the winner, will be shown on NBCSN with its telecast running from 12:30-6 p.m.

            Weep No More is a granddaughter of 2001 Kentucky Oaks winner Flute and Rachel’s Valentina is a daughter of 2009 Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra. Both are Grade I winners.

            Rachel’s Valentina, established as the 7-2 morning-line favorite by Churchill Downs linemaker Mike Battaglia, won her first two starts of 2015, including a victory in the Spinaway (GI) at Saratoga. She finished second to champion Songbird in the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Keeneland before debuting in the Ashland.

            Todd Pletcher trains Rachel’s Valentina, who will be ridden by John Velazquez and break from post position 11.

Pletcher is seeking his fourth victory in the Oaks having won previously with Ashado (2004), Rags to Riches (2007) and Princess of Sylmar (2013). Velazquez, the only jockey in the race to have won the Oaks previously, scored with Ashado.

            Pletcher also will send out King of Prussia Stable’s Mo d’Amour. Winner of the Busher Stakes at Aqueduct in February, Mo d’Amour will break from post position seven and be ridden by Joel Rosario.

Trained by Rusty Arnold, Weep No More brings a three-race win streak into the Oaks. Prior to her victory at Keeneland, Weep No More won the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

            Corey Lanerie retains the mount on Weep No More, the co-second choice at 9-2, and will break from post position two.

            Two other trainers will be seeking to add to their Oaks win totals Friday: Hall of Fame electee Steve Asmussen and Neil Howard.

            Asmussen, who won the Oaks in 2005 with Summerly and in 2014 with Untapable, will send out three runners: Stonestreet Stables’ Terra Promessa, Stonestreet and Regis Farms LP’s Royal Obsession and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Taxable.

Terra Promessa, brings a four-race win streak into the Oaks highlighted by victories in the Fantasy (GIII) and Honeybee (GIII) at Oaklawn Park. Ricardo Santana Jr., who has been aboard the Curlin filly in all five of her starts, has the mount and will break from post position one.

Royal Obsession, who broke her maiden at first asking here last fall, enters the Oaks off a runner-up finish in Gazelle (GII) at Aqueduct. Florent Geroux has the call on Royal Obsession and will break from post position eight.

Taxable, a winner of two of three starts and also a first-out winner here last fall, fell a neck short of catching Terra Promessa in the Fantasy. Mike Smith has the mount and will break from post position 14.

Howard will send out Stoneway Farm’s Dream Dance as he seeks a repeat on his 2000 victory in the Oaks with Secret Status.

Runner-up in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) and third in the Pocahontas (GIII) here last September, Dream Dance will have regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard and break from post position five.

Adding further depth to the field are five Grade II winners: Cathryn Sophia, Lewis Bay, Land Over Sea, Go Maggie Go and Venus Valentine.

Cash is King’s Cathryn Sophia, who won her first four starts by more than 40 combined lengths, enters the Oaks off a third-place finish in the Central Bank Ashland. Trained by John Servis, Cathryn Sophia started the year with blowout victories in the Forward Gal (GII) and Davona Dale (GII). Javier Castellano has the riding assignment and will break from post position 12. Cathryn Sophia is the co-second choice on the morning line at 9-2.

Alpha Delta Stables’ Lewis Bay comes into the Oaks off a victory in the Gazelle (GII) at Aqueduct for trainer Chad Brown. Winner of the Demoiselle (GII) in November, Lewis Bay will break from post position three and be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.

Reddam Racing’s Land Over Sea won the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) in her most recent start. Trained by Doug O’Neill and to be ridden by Mario Gutierrez, Land Over Sea and stablemate Nyquist, the favorite for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), could give the human connections the first Oaks-Derby sweep since 1952 when Real Delight and Hill Gail won the races under Eddie Arcaro for Calumet Farm and trainer Ben Jones.

Land Over Sea, the fourth choice on the morning line at 5-1, will break from post position 13.

Mike Tarp’s Go Maggie Mo, trained by Dale Romans, is undefeated in two starts. Her most recent victory came in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII). Luis Saez has the mount and will break from post position four.

Rosemont Farm’s homebred Venus Valentine punched her Oaks ticket with a victory in the Rachel Alexandra (GII) at Fair Grounds. Trained by Tom Amoss, Venus Valentine will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan and break from post position 10.

            The field for the Kentucky Oaks, with riders and morning line odds from the rail out, is: Terra Promessa (Santana Jr., 10-1), Weep No More (Lanerie, 9-2), Lewis Bay (Ortiz Jr., 8-1), Go Maggie Go (L. Saez, 12-1), Dream Dance (Hernandez Jr., 30-1), Mokat (Flavien Prat, 20-1), Royal Obsession (Geroux, 20-1), Paola Queen (Emisael Jaramillo, 30-1), Venus Valentine (Bridgmohan, 30-1), Rachel’s Valentina (Velazquez, 7-2), Cathryn Sophia (Castellano, 9-2), Land Over Sea (Gutierrez, 5-1) and Taxable (Smith, 20-1). Also-Eligible: Dothraki Queen (Gary Stevens, 30-1). 



Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Deshawn Parker wins his 5,000th race

Deshawn Parker became the 32nd rider to win 5,000 races Monday night, when he won the third race at Mountaineer Park aboard Be Nice for trainer Eric Reed.

Parker, a 45-year-old native of Cincinnati, has been riding since 1988. He is the all-time leading rider at Mountaineer, has twice led the nation in wins, and has won 200 or more races in 13 of the last 14 years.

Parker came into the card two winners shy of 5,000. He won the second race on Dragon Attack for trainer Edward Clouston  prior to scoring his milestone win.

Parker, who is 5' 11" but can tack 116 pounds, has scored 4,565 of his career wins at Mountaineer. He led the nation in wins in 2010 (377) and 2011 (400).

Parker’s career highlights include riding Frazee’s Folly to victory in the late Dale Baird's 9,000th career win. Parker and Baird teamed up to win 635 races together.

Parker also won four races with Rapid Redux during the horse's 22-race winning streak, which began in December 2010 and ended when he made his final career start January 2012.

Parker scored the richest victory of his career last year in the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Cup on Looks to Spare, who paid $150.60. He also has won the $125,000 Mountaineer Mile three times.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Edgar Prado Named Jockey of the Week

Veteran rider Edgar Prado showed his versatility this weekend winning a pair of stakes on two different surfaces in two separate states on back-to-back days. That feat along with an incredible win percentage helped him be named this weeks’ Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week Award for the week of April 25th to May 1st. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.Edgar Prado

Edgar booted home his eighth winner of the Gulfstream Park Spring meeting on Saturday when he and Smokem Kitten lead throughout besting seven rivals in the Gr. 3 $100,000 Miami Mile.

"He was acting very sharp in the post parade. When he broke so sharp and got the lead so easy, I didn't want to fight him," Prado said. "He was moving along so good every step of the way. At the top of the stretch, he found another gear."

The Hall-of-Fame rider would head west on Sunday to ride in his first ever race at Sunland Park, in El Paso Texas, after taking the call aboard even-money favorite Mobile Bay in the $150,000 Sunland Park Handicap for trainer Victor Arceneaux. Edgar would not disappoint winning the day’s feature event by a comfortable length and a half keeping his Sunland Park record spotless at one–for-one lifetime.

"It was a good effort," said winning jockey Edgar Prado. "He felt comfortable on the track and it was a nice win. Mobile Bay always gives his best effort."

The Eclipse award winning rider and winner of three Triple Crown races, including the 2006 Kentucky Derby aboard Barbaro, had a spectacular week overall with six winners from his 12 mounts with two second placings and two more third place finishes. He finished the week as the third leading rider in total earnings with $239,080. spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, the Daily Racing Form, Equibase, Horse Racing Nation, the Jockeys’ Guild, the Paulick Report, the Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Voting opens Friday for Venezia Award

Racing fans will decide which of five outstanding jockeys will be the recipient of the 21st Mike Venezia Memorial Award, to be presented by The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) in a special ceremony at Belmont Park on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30.


Beginning tomorrow, Friday, April 29, fans can choose among Javier Castellano, Joe Bravo, Cornelio Velasquez, Aaron Gryder and Mario Pino and vote for their choice online at


Voting will close at midnight on Monday, May 16 with the winner announced on Tuesday, May 17.


Created in 1989, the Mike Venezia Memorial Award is given to jockeys who display the extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship that defined Venezia, who died as the result of injuries he suffered in a spill in 1988. Venezia, a Brooklyn, New York native, won more than 2,300 races during his 25-year career.

Each of the finalists is an accomplished athlete whose aptitude on the track is rivaled only by the respect they garner off it.

  • Castellano, 38, who won his third straight Eclipse Award as Outstanding Jockey in 2015, led the nation in earnings last year with a record $28.1 million. Among his victories was a record fifth Travers, in which he piloted Keen Ice to upset Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
  •  Bravo, 39 had the best year of his career in 2015 with more than $8.39 million in purses earned and three Grade 1 wins in New York: the Personal Ensign with Sheer Drama, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic with Big Blue Kitten and the Champagne with Greenpointcrusader.
  •  Velasquez, perenially among NYRA's top jockeys, this year won the Grade 1 Carter Handicap and the Grade 3 Tom Fool with Salutos Amigos. The 48-year-old native of Panama has more than 3,700 winners of $164 million since he came to the United States in the late 1980's.
  • Gryder, 45, has won dozens of stakes races throughout his career, including a victory aboard Well Armed in the 2009 World Cup. He is the co-founder of The Giving Circle, based in Saratoga Springs, which connects donors with communities in need.
  • Pino, 54, currently is third among active jockeys and 10th overall in career victories, having ridden 6,707 winners of more than $124 million. Only all-time leader Russell Baze (12,812 and counting) and No. 8 Edgar Prado (6,882 and counting) have more wins among active jockeys.

The first Venezia Award was awarded posthumously to Venezia in 1989. Previous winners of the award include Jon Court (2015), Hall of Famer John Velazquez (2014) and newly minted Hall of Famer Ramon Dominguez (2013).




Thursday, April 28, 2016

‘Old Race Tracker’ Guidry Enjoying New Career As Jockey Agent

Mark Guidry tried to get the race track out of his system. There were dalliances with golf and fishing and other activities but nothing filled the void created when he retired from riding in 2007 after 33 years in the saddle.

“I'm an old race tracker and I'm going to die an old race tracker because there ain't nothing like it,” Guidry said recently while at Keeneland.

After a turn as a trainer and then a brief return to riding, Guidry retired for good in 2014 and began searching for a way to stay involved in racing. At the encouragement of friends, he decided to become a jockey agent and picked up James Graham as a client when the rider moved his tack from Santa Anita to Fair Grounds at the outset of 2016.

It was the opportunity Guidry had been seeking.

“I knew I had to do something,” Guidry said. “When I had the opportunity to be an agent it was a good thing and I thought I would like it a whole lot and I really, really do. James (Graham) gave me an opportunity.

“I love doing it. You get to work with your rider on a regular basis and see your people. That's what I missed most about the game, (talking) every morning with everybody. It works good. It's a good job.”

Guidry, who rode his first horse at age 4, won 5,222 races and rode the earners of more than $106.3 million during his career, winning the Kentucky Oaks (G1) in 2006 aboard Lemons Forever. As he looked out at the Keeneland track where he won 87 races and 11 stakes, including the 2002 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) on Riskaverse, he said he was thankful to remain in the game.

“I love my job,” Guidry said. “I know I have a lot to learn, but it's something that I love to do so you want to learn and be better. You're not stuck in a job you don't like and just going through the motions.

“As somebody who is probably going to die on a race track this is something I could do for a long time. It gets me out every day, gets me out socializing with people, and I get to work with (Graham) so I love it. That's all I need.”


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