o Track Times Today - With Bernie Dickman - Racing, Breeding, Pari-Mutuels
Track Times Today

Monday, November 13, 2017
Mr. Jordan

    Sunshine Millions Preview day at Gulfstream West was a huge success, with the eight stakes - each worth $75,000 - resulting in a solid handle of $6,271,389. There were many bullet points gleaned from the program, from the standpoint of horses, breeders, owners, jockeys, etc. Here's a rundown:

    JUVENILE FILLIES SPRINT -  Tyler Gaffalione picked up his first victory on the card with Silver Bay, who became the first stakes-winner for Ocala Stud Farm's freshman sire, Currency Swap. The gray filly had just broken her maiden for Richlyn Farms 15 days earlier.

    TURF PREVIEW STAKES STAKES - Emisael Jaramillo, Gaffalione's No. 1 rival in the South Florida jockeys' colony, came from last place after three quarters with even-money Enterprising to nail Galleon Mist in deep stretch. Gaffalione was aboard the runner-up. The winner, a gelding by Elusive Quality, was bred by the late Leonard Lavin's Glen Hill Farm, one of only a handful of the pioneering Marion County farms still in operation, and shipped in from Woodbine for the race. 

    JUVENILE SPRINT STAKES - Edgard Zayas, Gaffalione's No. 2 rival, steered 3/5 favorite Wildcat's Legacy to a 3 1/4-length score over second choice Highborn, with Jaramillo aboard. The winner is from the last crop of Journeyman Stud's perennial leading Florida sire Wildcat Heir, who died early in 2015 and is set to win another leading sire title this season with progeny earnings of more than $5 million.   

    JUVENILE TURF STAKES - Zayas made it two in a row with Laurel shipper Nauti Boy, at the direct expense of Gaffalione and The X, who came in from Keeneland. Nauti Boy, a son of Mizzen Mast, had to survive a claim of foul by the runner-up before the prices were posted. The third horse was Seattle Treasure, one of 11 winners from the first crop of Pleasant Acres Stallions' Treasure Beach, the Florida leader in that category. 

   SPRINT PREVIEW STAKES - Jose Batista broke the string of winners by the top jocks with Quijote, owned by Midwest Thoroughbreds, always on the list of leading owners in North America. The gelding by Pomeroy hadn't raced since July 1 at Gulfstream and vied for the lead between horses for most of the six furlongs before proving to be best in deep stretch. 

    DISTAFF STAKES - Gaffalione was unable to get any response in the stretch from 2-1 favorite Mama Joyce, and the race proved to be a long shot player's dream. Lirica (10-1), a 3-year-old filly by former Ocala Stud leading sire Kantharos, was up at the wire to win by one-half length over Monmouth shipper April Gaze, who was 11-1 with Zayas aboard. Pacesetter Stormy Embrace, in from Laurel and off at 13-1, held on for third. The $2 exacta paid $200 and the $1 trifecta $925.10. 

    JUVENILE FILLIES TURF STAKES - It was an all Get Away Farm finish, with Homemade Salsa and Gaffalione coming from off the pace and scoring by two lengths as the 9/10 favorite. The filly was bred by her owner, Manny Andrade's Get Away Farm, and is a daughter of the farm's bread-and-butter stallion, Two Step Salsa. Homemade Salsa is 2-1-0 in three starts and looked very sharp in all three. With the victory and the winner's check of  $44,175, Two Step Salsa surpassed $1.7 million in progeny earnings, his best season ever. Homemade Salsa is one of her sire's 13 juvenile winners this year, which leads all Florida stallions. 

    CLASSIC PREVIEW STAKES - It was a repeat performance for Mr. Jordan, the 5-year-old by Kantharos who won the race last year by 3 3/4 lengths at odds of 1/2. This time around, with Zayas in the saddle, the bettors weren't as sure and the gelding went off at 9/5. He took the lead passing the half-mile marker, galloped away from the field, and had plenty left as he hit the wire 11 1/2 lengths in front. The $45,105 winner's check bumped his career total to $605,340 on a fabulous record of 8-4-6 in 24 starts.  









Monday, November 6, 2017
    Like I said the other day, betting on favorites in the 13 Breeders' Cup races Friday...

    Like I said the other day, betting on favorites in the 13 Breeders' Cup races Friday and Saturday is never good for the pocket, and this time around the devastation was more pronounced than in most of the past.

    Not only did the faves fall like trees during a hurricane, in most cases they failed to hit the board. So, not only did the win and exotics players suffer an excruciating weekend, the place and show devotees followed them right down the tubes. 

    On Friday's four-race program, the only favorite to win was Mendelssohn in the Juvenile Turf, and he paid $11.60. Battle of Midway paid $30.40 in the Dirt Mile, where favorite Mor Spirit ($2.40-1) finished eighth. Rushing Fall returned $8 in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and favorite Happily was 14th and last. In the Distaff, it was Forever Unbridled ($9.40), while favored Elate wound up fourth at 2-1. Opening-day ledger: one winning favorite, one favorite in the money. 

    Florida-bred Caledonia Road ($36.60) began day two on a strong note for the fave-haters, while the people's choice, Moonshine Memories finished seventh. Florida-bred Blonde Bomber was third at 30-1.

    The Turf Sprint produced a $62.40 payoff for Stormy Liberal, while Lady Aurelia, at 9/10, was 10th. 

    The big bomber of the afternoon came in the Filly & Mare Sprint, where New York-bred Bar of Gold galloped home at $135.40 and fave Unique Bella was seventh at even money. 

    Next it was Wuhelda ($24.40), bred in Great Britain, with Lady Eli struggling home in seventh at odds of 3/2. 

    The 1-2 finishers in the Sprint didn't light up the board, but Roy H. ($11.80) and Florida-bred Imperial Hint (4-1) were both highly playable. Drefong ($1.40-1), who was no doubt singled on many exotic tickets, was never in the hunt and finished sixth. 

    The bettors weren't fooled by the morning line-maker in the Mile, making Florida-bred World Approval the 5/2 favorite, and the son of Northern Afleet didn't disappoint. With a strong ride by John Velazquez, the white horse from Live Oak Stud is now the biggest money-winner among the four millionaires produced by the farm's magnificent mare, Win Approval. Morning line fave Ribchester went off at 7/2 and finished fifth. 

    The Juvenile was another race where many pundits expected unbeaten Bolt d'Oro to be a single on many exotics tickets and they no doubt were right. But he went off at 7/10 and was all out to finish a never-threatening third behind Good Magic ($25), who was a ton the best.

    Talismatic continued the the light-up-the-board onslaught, winning the Turf and paying $30.20. Highland Reel finished third at $1.40-1. 

    Gun Runner righted the ship for the players who felt he should have been favored by winning the Classic, assuming any of them had any cash left. He was the $2.40-1 second choice when the gates opened, compared to Arrogate's $2.10-1. Arrogate couldn't find his old form once again and finished in a dead-heat for fifth.

    Thirteen races, two winning favorites, two others finishing third. What a country! 


















Friday, November 3, 2017
Breeders' Cup offers great wagering opportunities . . .

    The  most important weekend of racing is upon us once again, and once again the wagering opportunities are more than enough to make even the most laid-back adventurers salivate over the possibilities. The two days of the Breeders' Cup are infamous for making a mockery of the morning lines, although those subjective numbers, as the years have passed, have more and more reflected the difficulties of isolating winners.

    There are just two races where the linemaker ventured below 5/2, the Juvenile and the Classic, and the latter has to be viewed with an asterisk. 

    In the Juvenile, Kentucky-bred Bold d'Oro is listed at 9/5 off his perfect 3-for-3 ledger. The colt by Medaglia d'Oro won both the early Grade I's in California, the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner, and, as usual, the California pundits have convinced themselves that anything that races out west is better in most years than the denizens of the east. That, of course, remains to be seen. 

    There are just seven Florida-breds entered over the two days, but one of them is Firenze Fire, the colt by Pleasant Acres Stallions freshman sire Poseidon's Warrior. Although garnering little respect along the way, Firenze Fire has won 3-of-4, including the Gr. I Champagne at Belmont Park and the Gr. III Sanford at Saratoga. He's listed at a generous 6-1 with talented Irad Ortiz aboard.

    The Classic is loaded with the best older horses still standing and it will be interesting to see if Arrogate (2-1) still has enough fan approval to get the nod over Gun Runner (9/5). After winning seven in a row, and being acclaimed the horse of a lifetime, Arrogate bombed in the San Diego Handicap, then came within half a length of catching Collected in the Pacific Classic, and he lost much of his luster.

    Gun Runner is 5-3-0 in his last eight starts, and is on a three-race winning streak - the Woodward, Whitney and Stephen Foster. Collected is in the 11-horse field, too, and he's listed at 6-1, as is late-bloomer West Coast. 

    Live Oak Plantation's World Approval drew the No. 5 post in the Mile on the turf, seeking to go over the $2 million mark for owner/breeder Charlotte Weber. The 5-year-old gelding's dam is Win Approval, possibly the only broodmare in history to have produced four millionaires - Miesque's Approval, Revved Up and Za Approval are the other three. World Approval, trained by Ocalan Mark Casse and to be ridden by John Velazquez, is 10-2-4 in 23 lifetime starts, and has won four of his last five, including the Gr. I Ricoh Woodbine Mile and Gr. I Fourstardave in his last two. 

    Another Florida-bred given a good chance based on the line is Imperial Hint, who is listed at 9/2 for the Sprint with Javier Castellano. The 4-year-old colt is by former Get Away Farm stallion Imperialism and was bred by Shade Tree Thoroughbreds, same operation that gave us multiple stakes-winner Three Rules. Florida-bred Calculator, a 5-year-old by In Summation bred by Ocala Stud, drew the No. 1 post in the Sprint with Johnny V. and is listed at 20-1. 

     Florida has two intriguing entrants in the Juvenile Fillies, Blonde Bomber (No. 5 - 20-1) and Caledonia Road (No. 12 - 15-1). Blonde Bomber is a Fort Larned filly owned and bred by Ocala's Arindel Farm and didn't make an impression in her first four tries. Then she broke her maiden at Gulfstream and followed that with a 7 1/4-length score in the Our Dear Peggy Stakes. Caledonia Road, a Quality Road filly owned by Peter Vegso, broke her maiden at Saratoga, then finished second behind Separationofpowers in the Gr. I Frizette. Ironically, Separationofpowers drew the 13 post, right next to Caledonia Road. 

    Live Oak has another entrant in the Turf Sprint, Holding Gold, also in the barn of Mark Casse. The 4-year-old gelding won the Gr. II Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland and is listed at 15-1. Florida-bred Pure Sensation drew post 12 in the race; he's a 6-year-old gelding by Zensational from the Christophe Clement barn and is 10-1 for owner/breeder Patricia Generazio, who also owns the No. 1 horse, New York-bred Disco Partner. 

    I will mostly stick by my usual wagering pattern, taking four or five horses in an exacta box and hoping for the best. It has yielded many satisfying results in the past.  







Friday, October 27, 2017
Ads to the contrary are absurd . . .

    Despite any other stallion farm's fake news conclusion that it is the leading entity of its kind in Florida, just perusing the roster of Ocala Stud Farm and the state's leading sire list, is immediate proof that the nursery brought into national prominence by Joe O'Farrell in the 1960s is without parallel.

    It's surprising that any Florida publication would accept advertising with such a false premise, but advertising revenue is advertising revenue at a time when it is at a premium.

    Here are the facts. Ocala Stud currently has seven stallions with runners at the races: High Cotton (3rd on the money list with $3 million in progeny earnings); Adios Charlie (5th, $2.3 million); In Summation (8th, $1.5 million); Awesome of Course (9th, $1.3 million); Overdriven (second crop - 10th, $1.4 million); Hear No Evil (23rd, $404,000); Prospective (freshman - 33rd, $216,000). 

    In addition, the Ocala Stud roster includes Fort Loudon and Uncaptured, whose first crops will race in 2018, and The Big Beast, with first crop yearlings of 2018. Then, there are the brand new well-bred stallions who will stand for the first time in 2018 - Jess's Dream (Curlin); Greenpointcrusader (Bernardini), and millionaire Noble Bird, a son of Birdstone who just joined the group yesterday.  Overdriven will no longer be breeding, so the farm now has 12 active stallions.  

    And, how about Joe and Helen Barbazon's Pleasant Acres Stallions, housing the top two Florida freshmen of this year, Poseidon's Warrior and Treasure Beach? Poseidon's Warrior is the sire of Firenze Fire, winner of the Gr. I Champagne and the Gr. III Sanford and the leading 2-year-old earner in the country so far. Treasure Beach is the sire of nine 2-year-old winners. 

    To the farm that pretends IT is the leader - stop it already! To any publication that allows it to say so in order to collect advertising revenue - stop it already



Friday, October 20, 2017
Sharp debut for filly, but she's gone . . .

    Ralph Nicks trained the filly Hearts of Red for two seasons for owner/breeder James Spence, and the daughter of Lion Heart posted a record of 3-1-2 in 11 starts at two and three, earning $154,867. She didn't win a stakes race, but finished second in the Dream Supreme at Belmont Park and third in the Gr. III Gulfstream Park Oaks. 

    Following her retirement, Hearts of Red wound up in the hands of Nicks and Barry Berkelhammer, owner of AbraCadabra Farm in Ocala. They bred her to Wildcat Heir at Journeyman Stud and in 2015, she foaled a filly now named Wild in Red. For whatever their reasons, maybe because Nicks liked her dam, they never offered Wild in Red at auction.

    The filly showed up for the first time at Gulfstream West today in a $20,000 claimer at five furlongs with Jose Valdivia aboard. Her two listed works were nothing to brag about, and Wild in Red went off at 6-1. She broke well, and when the two leaders bolted to the outside on the turn, Valdivia shot his filly through on the inside and she exploded to the wire, galloping home by nearly eight lengths, clocked in :58.38. 

    The winner's share of the purse comes to $13,200, and there's a breeders' award of more than $2,500. However, surely to the dismay of Nicks and Berkelhammer, Wild in Red was claimed by the Drawing Away Stable for the $20,000 tag. So the owners collected more than $35,000 in one shot, but they lost the filly they no doubt tried to sneak by in her debut. 

    What made the new owners take her? Maybe they saw her work, or liked her dam, or loved Wildcat Heir, who has been Florida's leading sire for five or six years, even after his premature death in 2015. He's way out in front this year, with his final crop at the races. Wild in Red is from that crop, and should help him keep his title for at least another year.