Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Super Chow gets third graded stakes win . . .
    Lea Farms’s Super Chow (Lord Nelson – Bonita Mia) shot right to the lead in Saturday’s $100,000, Gr. III Maryland Sprint Stakes at Pimlico and was never headed, cruising to victory by a length and three quarters. It’s the third graded stakes win for the 4-year-old colt by Lord Nelson, purchased for $75,000 out of the Eisaman Equine consignment at the 2022 OBS Spring Sale after breezing an eighth in :10 flat at the Under Tack Show. Trained by Jorge Delgado, he has compiled a 19-9-4-5 career record and earned $782,900. 

    Tameem Binhamad KH. H. Al-Thani’s Crimson Advocate (Nyquist – Citizen Advocate) earned a trip to Ascot at two with a victory in Gulfstream’s Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies Stakes and won the Gr. II Queen Mary Stakes. She made her 3-year-old debut on Saturday against the boys in Gulfstream’s $81,000 Roar Stakes and scored by a length, with fellow OBS graduate Sir Flash (Not This Time – Meadow Bride) checking in third. George Weaver trains the daughter of Nyquist, purchased for $100,000 out of the Beth Bayer consignment at the 2022 OBS October Selected Yearling Sale.  She now boasts a 5-3-0-1 record has earned $202,147.       

    Gary Barber’s Witwatersrand (Connect – Carta deOro), last of five early in Woodbine’s $120,000 Ruling Angel Stakes, swung out for the drive, collared the leaders a furlong from home, blew right on by and was best by four lengths. It’s the second stakes victory for the 3-year-old graded stakes-winning filly by Connect, consigned by White Lilac (Katie Miranda), Agent, to the 2023 OBS March Sale, where she went through the ring after breezing an Under Tack eighth in :10 2/5. Now 6-3-0-1 for trainer Mark Casse, she has earned $152,360.  

    Randy Howg, John Holleman, Norman Tremblay, Surging Sky Ventures, Brian McGinnis and Selman Shaby’s Mr Fillip (Mitole – Filibustin), just off the pace early in Saturday’s $50,000 Golden Circle Stakes at Prairie Meadows, took over turning for home and romped away to win by 13 1/4 lengths. Fellow OBS graduate Desperate Man (Practical Joke – Tap Tap Taparoo) set the pace and settled for third. It’s the first stakes win for the 3-year-old son of champion OBS graduate Mitole, purchased for $300,000 out of the Oak Creek Thoroughbreds consignment at the 2023 OBS Spring Sale after turning in an Under Tack eighth in :10 flat. Trained by Matt Williams, he’s now 5-2-1-1 and has earned $137,075.  

    Hong Kyung Pyo’s Ssonsal (Adios Charlie–Wink At the Boys) became the latest OBS millionaire after leading a 1-2-3 OBS sweep of the $516,740 Chairman’s Cup Sprint Stakes (G2-KOR) at Seoul on Sunday. He was best by a neck over 7-year-old 2019 OBS June graduate Eoma Eoma (Algorithms-Lignite), with 9-year-old 2017 OBS Spring graduate Morfhis (Stephen Got Even – Chinchilla), a length back in third. The 8-year-old Florida-bred son of Adios Charlie, now 39-14-5-5 with earnings of $1,096,212, was purchased for $8,500 out of the T-Square Stud consignment at the 2017 October Yearling Sale.
Sunday, May 12, 2024
McPeek says it's a go . . .

    BALTIMORE - Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan will run in the 149th Preakness Stakes on May 18 at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course, trainer Kenny McPeek announced Saturday morning. “All systems go,” McPeek said. “He’ll ship out in the morning.”

    Mystik Dan had a routine 1 1/2-mile gallop at Churchill Downs under retired jockey Robby Albarado, who will be part of the Derby winner’s travel team to Baltimore, much as he was in 2020 when he rode the filly Swiss Skydiver to victory for McPeek. The difference this time is that Brian Hernandez Jr. rides Mystik Dan in his races.

    Mystik Dan underwent an endoscopic exam and had bloodwork analyzed just to ensure everything was normal. When everything came back clean, McPeek confirmed everything was a go for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

     “The horse is doing fantastic,” he said after Mystik Dan trained. “I’ve already kind of arranged the logistics of it all.”

    Mystik Dan will get a rematch in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness with Arkansas Derby winner Muth. Mystik Dan finished third that day, his first race in seven weeks after he was a romping winner of Oaklawn Park’s Gr. III Southwest Stakes in the slop.

    “He was ready for the Arkansas Derby,” McPeek said. “I’m not going to use that as an excuse. But he did get turned sideways in that turn, and Brian felt that cost him three or four lengths. But the horse fought back, fortunately…. I’m optimistic we can give (Muth) another run.

Sunday, May 12, 2024
Gabaldon gives Gone Astray first Florida stallion with a 2yo stakes-winner this season . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - D. J. Stable’s Bullet gave Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse a return trip to Royal Ascot, closing from far back to capture the $120,000 Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

    Soldi Stable’s Gabaldon earned trainer Jose D’Angelo his first visit to Great Britain’s most prestigious meeting two races later while registering a front-running triumph in the $120,000 Royal Palm Juvenile.

    The Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies, a five-furlong turf test for 2-year-old fillies, co-headlined a 10-race program with the Royal Palm Juvenile, a five-furlong turf race for all 2-year-olds. The winners of both races earned automatic berths in one of six stakes during the Royal Ascot meet that runs June 18 through June 24, as well as $25,000 travel stipends.

    Emisael Jaramillo rode both winners.

    Casse-trained Bullet broke slowly from the starting gate to race far behind a strong early pace, set by first-time starter You Need Me, a 44-1 shot ridden by Leonel Reyes, and pressed by Unchained Elaine on the outside with 8-5 favorite Perfect Shances chasing along the rail. You Need Me shook off all challenges to take her lead into the stretch, where she was able to repel a bid by Casse-trained My Emmy. But the David Braddy-trained daughter of St. Patrick’s Day was no match for the impressive late surge by Bullet, who made a wide sweep on the turn before kicking in through the stretch.

    “The crazy thing is she usually breaks like a shot. I used a few choice words when she broke,” said Casse, who watched from his Ocala home. “It’s one thing to break bad. It’s another thing when you break bad and circle everyone in the field. You’ll have a tough time finding a more impressive race than the one she gave us.”

    Bullet, a daughter of War Front who was saddled by longtime Casse assistant Nick Tomlinson, scored by 2 ¼ lengths, completing five furlongs in :56.80 seconds while closing off fractions of :22.01 and :44.84.

    Casse had a most enjoyable first visit to Royal Ascot, where he saddled champion Tepin for a victory over the boys in the 2016, Gr. I Queen Anne Stakes.

    “My wife describes it the best. She said Royal Ascot is like the Kentucky Derby on steroids,” Casse said. “It’s something I’ll never forget. The prestige. We got to meet the Queen, which was very special for us.”

    D’Angelo-trained Gabaldon ($35.00) was making his debut in the Royal Palm Juvenile following a series of strong workouts that included a sharp half-mile breeze over the turf course at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training center in Palm Beach County. Unlike Bullet, Gabaldon broke like a bullet to grab an early lead, challenged on his outside by Governor Sam along the backstretch. After shaking his early challenge, the son of Gone Astray opened a clear lead at the top of the stretch on his way to a 1 ¼-length victory. He completed five furlongs in :56.20 seconds after putting up fractions of :21.33 and :43.80.

    “The horse showed class from the first day. He’s never missed a workout,” D’Angelo said. “We were looking for a horse to run in this race. Now, we are looking for a [top) hat.” Reach for the Rose rallied along the rail to finish second, a neck ahead of Bright Skittle and Casse-trained Garden of War, who finished in a dead-heat for third.

    Last year, trainer George Weaver was unable to repeat his amazing accomplishment during the inaugural 2023 Royal Palm Series. He saddled Crimson Advocate for a victory in the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies and No Nay Mets for a win in the Royal Palm Juvenile, and Crimson Advocate went on to beat 25 fillies in the Gr. II Queen Mary (G2), but No Nay Mets finished off the board in the Gr. II Norfolk.
Saturday, May 11, 2024
Nolan Ramsey wins with Marshamarshamarsha . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Nolan Ramsey, the longtime assistant to trainer Michael Maker before going out on his own in April, saddled his first winner as a trainer Friday at Gulfstream Park.

    The 27-year-old Lexington native notched his first victory with Marshamarshamarsha ($5), who is owned by his grandfather, Ken Ramsey, the longtime owner who won four Eclipse Awards as North America’s outstanding owners with his late wife Sarah and was the leading owner during the 2023-2024 Championship Meet.

    Marshamarshamarsha, Ramsey’s fifth starter, stalked the early pace while saving ground before making a three-wide sweep on the turn into the homestretch on her way to a decisive score in Race 5, a mile turf event for 3-year-old fillies racing for a $16,000 claiming price.

   “It’s special. It’s the first one. It’s great to get off the duck. It’s nice doing it for family too,” said Ramsey, who was doused with water by a stable employee in celebration. “I wouldn’t be here without him (Ken Ramsey). My love for the horses and horseracing all came from him. I remember watching the races when I was 5 or 6. He taught me how to handicap and started bringing me around the horses. Without my grandparents I wouldn’t be here. To get where I’ve been and being able to knock off the first one for the family, that’s really special.”

   Ramsey started walking hots for Maker when he was 14 years old. “I was hands-on with them, and I really fell in love with the racetrack. The action and the speed of it really drew me in. It was full-blown from there on,” said Ramsey, who has assembled a 30-horse stable at Gulfstream with plans to train a small string in the Mid-Atlantic.

    “I was very grateful to work for Mike,” he added. “The thing about Mike is he has all the horses. He has the Grade 1s; he’s got the starter allowances; he’s got the ‘nickel’ claimers."

Friday, May 10, 2024
Despite disastrous outage for Tampa Bay Derby . . .

    OLDSMAR - Before the 2023-2024 meet, Tampa Bay Downs received a $5.5-million allocation from the state of Florida for purses and operations. Officials earmarked 90 percent for overnight purses, enabling the track to lure its strongest roster of trainers, jockeys and horses in recent memory.

    The public responded in kind to the upsurge in quality by wagering $361,483,261, a 2.4-percent increase from 2022-2023. The average daily handle rose to $4,016,481.

    Additional increases in both the number of starters and average starters per race helped stamp the 2023-2024 Tampa Bay Downs racing season, which ended Saturday, a major success.

    But an unseasonably wet winter and early spring, coupled with the loss of an estimated $5-million in handle on March 9 when a communications outage led to the tote system shutting down and the Gr. III Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby being declared a non-wagering event, left track Vice President & General Manager Peter Berube pondering “what might have been.”

    “The events of March 9 were unprecedented in our experience, and steps have been taken to assure they will not happen again here or hopefully anywhere else,” Berube said.

    “It’s a reflection of our popularity as a major winter track that we were able to post gains in wagering and other key categories in spite of not being able to accept wagers on our biggest race of the season.”

    The estimated wagering handle lost on March 9 would have resulted in Tampa Bay Downs being up about $14-million (3.8-percent) from the previous year.

    Berube said weather – specifically, the El Niño pattern that caused higher-than-average precipitation and cooler temperatures throughout much of the winter and early spring – also prevented Tampa Bay Downs from posting larger gains during the 90-day meet.

    Although the number of starters at the meet rose 9.56-percent (from 6,190 in 2022-2023 to 6,782) and the average starters per race went up 9.03-percent (from 7.58 to 8.26), more rain than normal caused the number of turf races to decline by 10.47-percent, from 277 to 248.

    “The popularity of our turf program leads to bigger fields and more wagering opportunities for our customers,” Berube said. “Weather is always a variable in winter and early spring, but it seemed like Mother Nature worked against us more than usual.”

    Fueled by the boosts to maiden special weight and higher-level allowance race purses, Tampa Bay Downs paid out $21,898,640 in purses, 26-percent more than a season ago. Overnight purses climbed from $155,596 a day to $211,535, a 35.95-percent rise.

    On-track attendance decreased less than 1-percent, to 243,526, and on-track handle fell less than 1-percent, to $15,917,768.

    “The main takeaways are that we improved in most major categories and that the overnight purse increases will remain in effect next season,” Berube said. “With the competition for wagering and recreational dollars growing more and more intense, we’re confident we have established a firm foothold both locally and throughout the simulcast market that will enable us to keep moving upward.”

    The 2024-2025 meet is expected to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 20.