Track Times Today

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Produced 4 millionaires for Live Oak . . .

    I have tried and failed to find a list of broodmares who have produced the most million-dollar earners, assuming there is one somewhere. But is it possible that Charlotte Weber's Win Approval is the all-time leader in that category?

    When World Approval won the Gr. II, $250,000 Longine Dixie Stakes just prior to the Preakness, he went over the $1 million mark in earnings, becoming the fourth millionaire for the daughter of With Approval, who produced 10 foals in all during her career in the Live Oak Plantation breeding shed. World Approval, a foal of 2012, is the last of the 10, and his 2 1/4-length victory Saturday was a thing of beauty. But Julien Leparoux often rides stakes-winners to perfection.

    The 5-year-old gelding is now 8-2-4 in 20 starts with earnings of $1,103,763 and his stakes record is impressive: competing in 16 stakes, 11 of them graded, he has compiled six victories, two seconds, three thirds and three fourths. Trainer Mark Casse gave him a rest of 5 1/2 months, and in his return on April 2, World Approval came back to win the EG Vodka Turf Classic at Tampa Bay Downs on the Florida Cup program, so he's 2-for-2 this year.

    Win Approval's other millionaires are Miesques Approval ($2,648,879), Revved Up ($1,548,653) and Za Approval ($1,904,666). She has produced four other winners, one foal who didn't win in four starts, and one who never raced. The nine who did have now won 68 races, led by Revved Up, who won 20 times, and Miesques Approval and Winabull, who won 12 times each.

    The way World Approval is performing, all those numbers should rise this season.

    FRENCHIE STILL GIVING - The tale of Ocala advertising exec Kathy Taylor's rescue of nine horses from the busted Eddie Martin Stable South in 2010 has been chronicled here often. Seven years later, the exploits of the son of Shakespeare that she bred from one of the rescued mares continue to balloon.

    After selling eight of the rescuees for a ham sandwich each, Kathy bred the Storm Bird mare Cent Nouvelles to Shakespeare and French Quarter was born. Kathy raised him, and two years later, the fiesty colt didn't reach his reserve at OBS and he was sold privately to Canadian owner Howard Walton. French Quarter began racing at Woodbine in the summer and Gulfstream in the winter, although the winter forays have not been nearly as frequent.

   A few months ago, Gulfstream trainer David Fawkes claimed Frenchie for $62,500 and has since raced him three times. The third came on Saturday in the $100,000 Big Drama Stakes and Frenchie was competitive, as he usually is, finishing third in a tough field of 10 sprinters. He is closing in on $300,000 in career earnings.

    From Kathy's point of view, the claim was a blessing - a blessing known as breeder's awards. Since his return to Florida in December, Frenchie has raced six times for the two barns, with two victories, a second and two thirds (both in $100,000 stakes). In his Gulfstream career, he has four firsts, two seconds and three thirds in 13 starts. That equates to nine breeder's awards of varying denominations and goes a long way to taking the sting out of what it cost to care for the original nine in 2010 and 2011.

    And, like World Approval,  Frenchie is still going strong.  


Thursday, May 18, 2017
But 10 will line up at Pimlico . . .

   When California Chrome was dominating the 3-year-old ranks a few years back, co-owner Perry Martin dismissed the Triple Crown rules by advocating that if a horse didn't start in the Kentucky Derby, he shouldn't be allowed to contest the Preakness. He didn't think it was fair that the Derby winner was forced to come back in two weeks, while a bunch of rested horses could ship in to try to derail him. It never occurred to him that that was the beauty of the Triple Crown. It isn't for sissies.

    If Martin's idea had been implemented, five of the 10 entrants for Saturday's Preakness would be ineligible (Multiplier, Senior Investment, Cloud Computing, Conquest Mo Money and Term of Art). We would be faced with Always Dreaming facing Derby runner-up Lookin at Lee, fourth-place Classic Empire, seventh place Gunnevera and 11th place Hence. And, while it still might have been a competitive race in that instance, who needs it. It would have been a monumental bust for the fans, for TV and for the history of the race itself.

    Can anybody beat Always Dreaming, who is 4/5 on the morning line? Maybe. Lookin at Lee closed a ton in Louisville and he'll only have half the traffic to negotiate this time. If Classic Empire gets a good trip, who knows just how good he is? Maybe better than Always Dreaming. Gunnevera will also have less traffic to overcome with his late kick and Hence had all kinds of problems on Derby day so we can't really evaluate him.

    Of the newcomers, Conquest Mo Money might be the most interesting. First, he's the only one in the field who wasn't bred in Kentucky- he's a New Yorker. Second, his auction sheet is mind-boggling. Sold for $180,000 as a yearling at Saratoga in 2015, then for $8,500 at Keeneland November in 2016. What? And, with three victories and two seconds in five starts, including seconds in the Gr. III Sunland Derby and Gr. I Arkansas Derby, the son of Uncle Mo has earned $508,900.

    Multiplier, winner of the Illinois Derby, was purchased for $62,000 at Keeneland November, then was RNA'd twice, including at OBS April.  

    Term of Art, bred by Ocala's Mandy Pope, owner of Whisper Hill Farm, has started nine times and was seventh in the Santa Anita Derby in his last. He was a $220,000 purchase at Keeneland September in 2015. 

    Cloud Computing, a $200,000 Keeneland September product, finished third in the Gr. II Wood Memorial and second in the Gr. III Gotham. 

    Senior Investment has made eight starts, and won the Gr. III Stonestreet Lexington Stakes, but was seventh in the Louisiana Derby. He was a $95,000 purchase at Keeneland September. 

    Always Dreaming's effort in the Derby makes him look to be much the best. But looks can be deceiving.

    NEARING A MILESTONE - Three Rules will be trying to get closer to the million-dollar mark in the $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes in the seventh race on the Preakness program. The son of Northwest Stud's Gone Astray is back to where he shines - at six furlongs - after showing he's not a distance horse, at least not at this stage of his career. He drew the No. 1 post in a field of nine with Luis Saez and is 3-1 second choice on the morning line. Recruiting Ready is 8/5 with Horacio Karamanos.  






Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Pays $210 in his Gulfstream debut . . .

    A few decades ago, the late Red Buttons got a great deal of mileage out of a recurring TV schtick; he'd put his hand over his ear and declare, "Strange things are happening."

    Red would have loved the 2-year-old race at Gulfstream Park last Friday - a bunch of first-timers plus one who had started, appropriately named Rocky Strange, and he was the 6/5 favorite based on a lone third-place finish. 

    One of the first-timers was Uncle Runt, a gelding by First Dude owned and bred by Rory and Gay Miller's Flying Finish Farm in Ocala. First Dude has been a remarkable sire since arriving at Double Diamond Farm in time for the 2012 breeding season. His $5.5 million in earnings leads all the sires from the same year, and he's not only Florida's leading third-crop sire this season, he's second on the general sire list behind deceased Wildcat Heir. In short, he's been terrific.  

    That's why it's hard to understand how the bettors allowed Uncle Runt to go off at $104.10-1 in his debut. The gelding had three listed workouts, a 49.80 breezing from the gate for four furlongs on April 9 (best of 8 works), a 51 breezing on April 29 (second of 8), and a 38.40 breezing on May 6 (first of 3), six days before his first race. All the works came at the Ocala Horse Complex and a sharp handicapper would have noted that two of the works were bullets. 

    So the combination of First Dude and Uncle Runt's works weren't enough to get people to jump on board and they paid for it. With Jose Garcia aboard, the gelding rushed into the lead and just kept going, reaching the wire 1 1/4 lengths in front and paying $210.20, $31.40 and $14.20. Assuming that 99 percent of owners bet on their horses, especially the first time out, the Millers no doubt enjoyed a great trip to Hallandale Beach. The winner's check was $34,000 and the breeder's award is still to come.

    Runner-up in the race was Bal Harbour, named after the glitzy shopping area located not far from Gulfstream and owned by Hialeah Park's John J. Brunetti. Bal Harbour collected $8,400 for second. 

    First Dude already has piled up more than $1.3 million in progeny earnings in 2017, with 41 winners, and it's only May. It will be interesting to see if the upcoming Dude 2-year-olds receive a warmer welcome at the windows.  

Monday, May 15, 2017
R Paper Chaser is first frosh winner of 2017 . . .

    So far, seven of Florida's freshman sires of 2017 have had at least one runner. There have been 14 runners in all, and only Woodford Thoroughbreds' Currency Swap has had a winner. The son of High Cotton is represented by R Paper Chaser, who broke his maiden in his debut at Gulfstream Park on May 10, getting 4 1/2 furlongs in :51.74, just three-fifths of a second off the track record.

    R Paper Chaser earned $19,600 for the effort and has his sire in first place on the frosh sire list. But Currency Swap has just 30 registered 2-year-olds in this crop, and several of the others have many more, so it's going to be a struggle for Currency Swap to maintain his early lead as the season develops. 

    Woodford also has the early second-place sire in the War Front stallion Soldat, who already has four runners. His Pete Marwick finished third at Keeneland on April 26 and collected a check of $4,470. 

    In third place is Pleasant Acres' Treasure Beach, whose Tigerbeach finished fourth at Keeneland on April 26 and earned $2,235, then came back and finished third at Churchill Downs on May 12 and banked another $5,600. Next comes Bridlewood Farm's Corfu, who has also raced twice and has posted a pair of fifths, good for $2,682.

    Pleasant Acres' Anthony's Cross has one runner, Seminole Charlie, who finished fourth at Gulfstream on May 3 and earned $2,000. Two other Pleasant Acres stallions, Brethren and Poseidon's Warrior, have had nothing significant as yet. 

    FIRST SW FOR OVERDRIVEN - Last year's freshman sire race was somewhat boring, mainlybecause the lsit of stallions was so small, and only Ocala Stud's Overdriven and Woodford's Biondetti accomplished much. Biondetti led Overdriven in earnings and number of winners, but that has turned around so far this year. Overdriven leads in earnings - $486,627 to $292,389 - and in winners, 17 to 14. Now, Ocala Stud's stallion has added the first stakes-winner for either. 

    Arms Runner won the $101,690 Desert Code Stakes at Santa Anita by 1 1/2 lengths with an apparent liking for the downhill 6 1/2-furlong turf course. Norberto Arroyo Jr. had him geared down the final sixteenth of a mile. Arms Runner was purchased for $525,000 at the OBS March sale last year, and he's now 2-for-2 down the hill for Rockingham Ranch. 


Tuesday, May 09, 2017
Always Dreaming outdoes American Pharoah, Nyquist . . .

    We all are aware that the sport is dying, the older players are leaving us and no new players are being invented. I quote other outlets here regarding the subject about twice a year. So it turns out that wagering on the Kentucky Derby surpassed $200 million for the first time ever - $209.2 million to be exact. That's 9% higher than last year's $192.6 million and 8% higher than the previous record of $194.3 million set in 2015, the year of American Pharoah. The race was so wide open going in it's possible that a great many of the people who have left us came back for just one more crack at it. 

    Even with the rain and cold that began prior to Saturday and severely hampered the attendance on Oaks Friday, 158,070 showed up to watch Always Dreaming win his fourth in a row and appear to be much the best of the group he faced. Of course, the mud had a lot to do with the strung-out field, as mud so often does, with the horse who finished 19th, State of Honor, so far behind they wouldn't have been able to find him with binoculars. The 20th horse, Thunder Snow, winner of the UAE Derby, apparently didn't care for his trip across the Atlantic, and refused to run for his Godolphin interests.  

   And, who knows how close Classic Empire might have been at the end if he hadn't been mugged from all sides leaving the gate and losing all chance. That Julien Leparoux was able to get him home fourth was a great tribute to the French rider whose name is mispronounced by 99% of racing's analysts and announcers. It gave me a warm feeling when the jockeys were introducing themselves on NBC before the race to hear Julien say "Le----paroux," instead of Lay-paroux or Leppa-roux. But the mispronouncers probably weren't paying attention. Classic Empire's trainer, Ocalan Mark Casse, says his colt is 90% sure to go to Pimlico for the Preakness.

    On another note, reports are that the Derby telecast viewership was the largest since 1889, according to Nielsen, an average of 16.5 million, peaking at 19.1 million from 6:45 to 7 p. m. when the race was being run and then dissected. That time frame resulted in a peak of 17.9 million for both 2015 and 2016 (Nyquist).

    I have never believed in those Nielsen numbers because they have no way of taking into account the number of players who are watching on TV at racetracks around the continent, in OTB parlors, and in the various casinos. Adding in those people would make the percentages significantly higher.

    The top markets listed by Nielsen were (1) Louisville, (2) Ft. Myers, (3) Cincinnati, (4) Buffalo, (5) Knoxville, (6) Dayton, (7) Pittsburgh, (8) Cleveland, (9) Richmond, and (10) West Palm Beach. Seems to be an odd collection, especially without New York, Los Angeles and Chicago in the mix.