Notes From North & South

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
    Big Drama, one of Florida's three freshman sires who was bred to more than 100...

    Big Drama, one of Florida's three freshman sires who was bred to more than 100 mares his first season at stud, is one of five who have had their first runner. Biggest Drama, bred by Joe and Helen Barbazon at Ocala's Pleasant Acres Farm, finished third in a $48,000 maiden special at Gulfstream Park, and banked $4,660 for the effort.

    The 4 1/2-furlong race was won by Moment Is Right, bred in Kentucky by Ocala's Woodford Thoroughbreds, who negotiated the distance in a quick 51.96 after posting sizzling fractions of 21.78 and 45.58. The track record is 51.09. The colt trained by Wesley Ward, who seems to win a majority of the early 2-year-old races at various tracks every year, ran away and hid by 8 1/2 lengths.

    Big Drama stood at Ocala's now defunct Stonewall Farm his first few years, but after owner Richard Haisfield hightailed it to back to Kentucky for a year or so, the former champion sprinter was relocated to Bridlewood Farm by his owner, Harold Queen. Thus far, Journeyman Stud's Brooks n' Down is the only Florida freshman to have a winner. Double Diamond Farm's First Dude has a second, as does Ward Ranch's Iqbaal, while Big Drama has his third. Northwest Stud's Gone Astray, who had a colt sell for $435,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale at Timonium on Monday, has had one runner who finished off the board.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
    The onslaught of new stallions retiring to Ocala continued this week with the...

    The onslaught of new stallions retiring to Ocala for 2015 continued this week with the arrival at Joe and Helen Barbazon's Pleasant Acres of the multiple graded stakes-winner Csaba. The addition of the son of Kitten's Joy boosts the Pleasant Acres roster to eight, as he joins Anthony's Cross, Brethren, Beau Choix, Handsome Mike, Treasure Beach, Pollard's Vision and Poseidon's Warrior.

     Csaba compiled a record of 13-3-6 in 36 starts, earning $682,440. He competed in 29 stakes and won nine of them, including the Gr. III Fred W. Hooper Handicap at Calder twice in back-to-back years. He also won the Gr. III Hal's Hope at Gulfstream Park.

    Csaba won 11 of his races by more than one length - in fact, he won them by a combined total of 59 1/2 lengths. That included a 14-length victory in the Tropical Park Derby, an 8 1/4-length victory in the El Kaiser Stakes and a 3 3/4-length victory in the Harlan's Holiday. In his lone Gr. II effort, Casaba lost by a nose after a prolonged stretch battle with Quick Wit in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga.

    Csaba is by perennial leading sire Kitten's Joy, who was the sire of 25 stakes-winners in 2014, most among North American sires. The dam, High Chant, by War Chant, has given Csaba three talented full sisters - stakes-placed Kitten's Queen ($197,644), High Heel Kitten ($119,420) and High on Kitten ($66,632).

    LOOKS LIKE A GOODIE IN DIZNEYLAND - Double Diamond Farm, which always seems to have one or more top-flight runners competing from Florida to California, may have another in the newly-turned 3-year-old J S Bach. The son of Tale of the Cat made his first start at Gulfstream Park in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special test and finished second to R Limo Joe, a colt by Kantharos, Ocala Stud's sensational freshman leader of 2014. R Limo Joe, bred by Ocala Stud, ripped off the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04:28.

    J S Bach came back on Saturday at 1 1/16 miles, and, despite being bumped soon after the break, led every step of the way under John Velazquez, drawing off in the stretch to score by 8 1/2 widening lengths. Trained by Eclipse Award-winner Todd Pletcher, J S Bach collected $27,500 for owner Don Dizney, boosting his total for the two races to $33,960.

    It's always foolish to get too high on a 3-year-old off a maiden victory, but isn't that what makes the game so delicious?


Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Duke of Mischief, Turbo Compressor, Soldat Represented

    The first foals by stallions who arrived in Florida in time for the 2014 breeding season are beginning to show up at various farms both here and out-of-town.

    The first arrival by Northwest Stud's Duke of Mischief came at the farm on New Year's Day. He's a chestnut colt out of the unraced Grand Reward mare Merletto. The Duke's second foal also arrived at Northwest, on Jan. 8, another chestnut colt out of the Three Wonders mare Akonite

    Northwest's Turbo Compressor had his first two foals arrive on the same day - Jan. 9. A dark bay or brown colt out of the unraced Distorted Humor mare Fayewin Gardens was foaled at P&G Stables (also the breeder) at Southwest Ranches. And, a bay colt out of the winning Tiznow mare Miss Tiznow was foaled at Northwest Stud.

    On Jan. 6, the first foal by Woodford Thoroughbred's Soldat arrived at Sierra Blanca Equine in New Mexico. The bay filly is out of the Unbridled Song mare Magnificent Melody, who was sold in foal at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga October sale.  


Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    On July 25, Kantharos didn't have a winner. The next day, Katie's Kiss won at...

    On July 25, Kantharos didn't have a winner. The next day, Katie's Kiss won at Gulfstream Park and kicked it all off for Ocala Stud Farm's premier freshman sire.

    Now, just under three months later, the son of Lion Heart has seven winners, is Florida's leading freshman, and by the looks of those he has waiting in the wings, he's due to be in much better shape by Dec. 31. 

    In Florida, a freshman sire usually is considered to have gotten off to a successful beginning if his progeny earn between $300,000 and $500,000 in his initial season, and $1 million or more in his second. Last year's leader was Get Away Farm's Two Step Salsa, whose runners earned upwards of $500,000 in 2013. The son of Petitionville is about to surpass $1.3 million this season despite losing his No. 1 gun, Blue Grass Stakes winner Dance With Fate, to a career-ending injury several months ago. 

    Ironically, Kantharos' leading earner is a colt named Kantune, and he's not one of his sire's seven winners. Kantune finished second in a $56,000 maiden special at Santa Anita Saturday and has three seconds and a fourth in four starts with earnings of $44,560. The $80,000 OBS April purchase, who is trained by Ocalan Mark Casse, seems certain to be added to the winners' list sooner rather than later.

    There are four others with a solid chance of making it to the winner's circle in short order. Bucchero made his first start at Indiana Grand in the $85,000 Hillsdale Stakes at six furlongs on Oct. 1 and led every step of the way until the last few. He was nailed by one-half length in a smart 1:10:25. Doukas has a second and a third in three starts at Saratoga and Belmont Park, and Express Jet has a second and a third in his last two tries at Gulfstream. X Y Jet is also down south and is 0-3-1 in four starts, all in maiden special company. 

    Kantharos already has progeny earnings of $364,835 so he's passed the first qualifying test for Florida. But, considering those mentioned above who are sitting on go, plus the ones who will be making their debuts in the next couple of months, and Kantharos has a chance to become the next major young stallion for Ocala Stud. 

    Journyeman Stud's Cool Coal Man is in second place in the Florida rankings with five winners, including Puerto Rican stakes-winner Valery Stripe. Pleasant Strike, from Northwest Stud, is third with two starters and two winners, including Graciela Mia, the two-time group stakes-winner in Argentina, and Lil Smartiepants, who won at Gulfstream West four days ago. Bridlewood Farm's Mach Ride picked up his first winner when Ackeret scored at Belmont on Oct. 9; he's earned $30,600.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014
    Ocal Stud Farm's freshman sensation Kantharos picked up his fifth winner since...
    Ocala Stud Farm's freshman sensation Kantharos picked up his fifth winner since July 26 when Mr. Jordan went wire-to-wire in a $36,000 maiden special at Monmouth Park on Sept. 14. The colt out of the Cloud Hopping mare Miss Skeetd was 6 1/4 lengths the best, racing 5 1/2 furlongs in a solid 1:03.36 after posting fractions of 22.10, 45.05 and 57.03. The track record is 1:01.91. Bred by Philip and Karen Matthews, Mr. Jordan was a $155,000 purchase at the last OBS April sale. He's owned by David Melin, Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa, trained by Eddie Plesa Jr., and was no secret for his debut, paying just $3.80 under Paco Lopez.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
    Northwest Stud Farm's freshman sire Pleasant Strike gained his first winner on...
    Northwest Stud Farm's freshman sire Pleasant Strike gained his first winner on Sept. 13 and it came in stakes company at La Rinconada in Venezuela. Graciela Mia, a 2-year-old filly out of the Langfuhr mare Crafty Diane making her career debut, came from well back in the pack, and with a strong stretch run, was up to score by a half-length in the Gr. III Clasico Lanzarina at 1,200 meters, which is about six furlongs. Bred in Venezuela by Haras La Mulera, Graciela Mia earned 156.325 Bolivars.  
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Flash Winner battled head-and-head for the lead throughout under Mike Ritvo, then held off 2-1 favorite Intheshapeofaheart by a neck to break her maiden in her second start at Gulfstream Park on Aug. 2. The 3-year-old filly by Northwest Stud's Flashstorm became the fifth winner this summer for her second-crop sire, who has just seven starters. Flash Winner, bred by The Big Stable, went off at 4-1 after finishing second in her debut at Calder in June.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
(August 7, 2014) - The same day we reported on the status of Florida's freshman...
    (August 7, 2014) - The same day we reported on the status of Florida's freshman sires, Journeyman Stud picked up his second winner, this one at Woodbine. Scindia, whom we said was sitting on a win after two sharp seconds, went virtually wire-to-wire in a 5-furlong maiden special under Justin Stein, scoring by 2 1/2 lengths in :58:18. The filly bred in Kentucky by her owner, Beclawat Stable, was the 9/5 favorite and raised her record to 1-2-0 in three starts with earnings of $46,519.   
Sunday, August 3, 2014
    (August 3, 2014) - In years gone by, the first week of August was a time...

    (August 3, 2014) - In years gone by, the first week of August was a time when four or five Florida freshman stallions already would have been basking in the glow of first-time winners, and a promise of greater success to come as the 2-year-old stakes unfolded at Saratoga and in the Florida Stallion Stakes series at Calder. Not so in 2014.

    With its lowest number of frosh stallions - six - than in any year anyone can remember in Florida, it's hardly what one would call a "race" to become the leader of the band. So far, just four of the six freshmen have had at least one starter, and two of the four had exactly that many - one. 

    Journeyman Stud's Cool Coal Man, who has 40 registered 2-year-olds, has four runners thus far, and one winner, Valery Stripe, who broke her maiden in Puerto Rico on May 24. The stallion by Mineshaft also has a colt named Scindia who has a pair of seconds at Woodbine, losing by a neck in a $32,000 claimer on June 29, and by half a length in a maiden special on July 12. That should translate into winner No. 2 in short order.  

    Ocala Stud Farm's Kantharos, who went 3-for-3 in his brief racing career, was the second to get a winner when Katie's Kiss scored at Gulfstream Park on July 26. The son of Lion Heart has two runners from 51 registered foals.

    The other two to have a runner are Kiss the Kid from Journeyman Stud, and United States, from Northwest Stud. Kiss the Kid has 20 foals, and United States five.    

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    (July 23, 2014) - Gulfstream Park has announced that it is increasing purses by...

    (July 23, 2014) - Gulfstream Park has announced that it is increasing purses by an average of 10 percent beginning with tomorrow's program, while also offering a $250 starter incentive to help horsemen offset the cost of workers' compensation.

    The purse increase comes as the result of the agreement signed on July 1 between Gulfstream and Calder that ended the dates conflict between the two tracks. Since the agreement was signed, Gulfstream's handle and field sizes have increased dramatically. According to Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo, the increase in handle is what spurred the $250 starter bonus, which will be in effect through Oct. 4. "While this will help the short-term," Ritvo said, "our goal continues to be to work with horsemen on a long-term solution to workers' compensation."


Tuesday, July 8, 2014
The Casino at Hialeah Park will undergo immediate and ongoing expansion and enhancement according to plans announced today by the management of Hialeah Park...

The Casino at Hialeah Park will undergo immediate and ongoing expansion and enhancement according to plans announced today by the management of Hialeah Park.

The comprehensive $60,000,000 program, scheduled for completion by the end of 2015, includes expansion and enhancement of the Poker Room, renovations to the outdoor entertainment venue known as the Fountain Terrace, and the eventual addition of 235 state-of-the-art slot and gaming machines in the expanded Casino.

The Casino’s Poker Room, which opened in August of 2013, will be expanded by 12 tables. The Poker Room, currently featuring 25 tables, offers the best variety of card games for South Florida poker aficionados, including Texas Hold ‘Em, Seven Card Stud, and Omaha Hi-Lo.

“With the recent closing of the Poker Room at Calder Race Course, we believe this is the perfect time to increase the size and amenities of the Hialeah Park Casino Poker Room,” said Hialeah President John J. Brunetti, Jr. “In addition to more poker tables, we will also expand the dining facilities and sports bar in the Poker Room area.”

The outdoor bar, lounge, and entertainment venue known as the Fountain Terrace, located outside the south entrance of the Casino, will be enhanced with an overhead covering for the comfort of patrons and performers. In addition, Hialeah Park will construct a state-of-the-art simulcasting theater, which will offer pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing from major tracks in the United States and around the world.

“The Brunetti family remains committed to the long term goal of revitalizing this iconic landmark and returning Hialeah Park –The “Grand Dame”– to her past glory,” added Hialeah Vice President & General Manager Randall Soth. “We believe this comprehensive expansion program will enable Hialeah Park to continue to attract visitors and patrons from South Florida and all over the world for decades to come.”

Additionally, Hialeah Park Chairman John J. Brunetti, Sr. reiterated Hialeah Park’s goal to see Thoroughbred horse racing return to this historic venue. He expressed his continuing desire to work with Frank Stronach and the entire Gulfstream Park organization to create a year-round Thoroughbred program to reflect and support Mr. Stronach’s commitment to the growth and success of the Thoroughbred industry in the state of Florida.