NTRA THOROUGHBRED NOTEBOOK
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|News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled
by NTRA Communications, (212) 907-9280.
WAR EMBLEM AMONG 104 PRE-ENTERED FOR BREEDERS’ CUP
Led by Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem, Travers Stakes winner Medaglia d’Oro, Pacific Classic winner Came Home, European star Rock of Gibraltar (IRE) and top-rated filly Azeri, 104 horses, including 23 from Europe, have been pre-entered for the 2002 Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. The total of 104 horses pre-entered matches last year’s total.
The 19th Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, consisting of eight Grade I races with purses and awards totaling a minimum of $13 million, will be held on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Arlington Park in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Ill. It will mark the first time that the Championships have been held at Arlington and in the Midwest. The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live by NBC Sports (1:00-6:00 p.m. ET).
War Emblem leads the contingent of outstanding 3-year-olds taking on older horses in this year’s 1¼ mile, $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. After winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but falling short of the VISA Triple Crown with an eighth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, War Emblem returned to the races in August, winning the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in front-running fashion. But in his first attempt against older horses in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar three weeks later, War Emblem finished sixth to another top three-year-old, Came Home.
Owned in partnership by John Toffan and Trudy McCaffery and trained by Paco Gonzalez, Came Home has won six of seven starts this year, including the Swaps Stakes and Santa Anita Derby.
Medaglia d’Oro has also been in the thick of the 3-year-old picture all year. Owned by Edmund Gann and trained by Bobby Frankel, Medaglia d’Oro has come on strong during the second half of the season, following his second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes with victories in the Jim Dandy and Travers Stakes at Saratoga. War Emblem, Medaglia d’Oro and Came Home were all tied for first in the Classic Division of the World Thoroughbred Rankings.
A continent away, the dominant horse in Europe this year has been the super-miler Rock of Gibraltar (IRE). Pre-entered in the $1 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile on the turf, Rock of Gibraltar is undefeated in five starts this year, all at one mile on grass. Trained by Aidan O’Brien and owned in partnership by Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of the Manchester United soccer club, Rock of Gibraltar has won in England, Ireland and France, most recently the NetJets Prix du Moulin at Longchamp. Rock of Gibraltar has also been pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic as second preference. Those likely to challenge Rock of Gibraltar are his stablemate Landseer, winner of the Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile; and Beat Hollow, who captured the Arlington Million in August.
The top filly in the U.S. has been Azeri, who is expected to be the favorite in a very contentious $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff, contested at 1 1/8 miles. Azeri has won six graded stakes races in a row, the last four wire-to-wire.
Banks Hill (GB) is the defending champion in this year’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, run at 1¼ miles. Since finishing third in the Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita, Banks Hill has been transferred to the barn of trainer Bobby Frankel by her owner Juddmonte Farms. Banks Hill has faced male rivals four times in Europe this year, with a victory in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville and a second place finish to Rock of Gibraltar in the NetJets Prix du Moulin.
The $2 million John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf at 1½ miles has also attracted a strong European contingent, led by High Chaparral (IRE), winner of the English Derby and the Budweiser Irish Derby. High Chaparral ran well to be third in the Arc, his first race in more than three months. The other top European is Golan (IRE), winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. The U.S. horses are led by Denon, winner of the Turf Classic at Belmont; and With Anticipation, the big gray 7-year-old gelding who won the United Nations Handicap, Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap and Man o’ War in succession this year.
Bob Baffert could hold a solid hand in a very deep $1 million Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run at 1 1/8 miles this year. Baffert has pre-entered three horses in the race, including Kentucky Cup Juvenile winner Vindication and the first two finishers in Santa Anita’s Norfolk Stakes, Kafwain and Bull Market. Aidan O’Brien has pre-entered five horses for this race, including Hold That Tiger, a fast-closing winner of the Grand Criterium at Longchamp. O’Brien won the Juvenile last year with Johannesburg.
Six years ago, the Phipps family won the Juvenile Fillies with My Flag. Now, they could win this year’s $1 million Long John Silver’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/8 miles with a daughter of My Flag, Storm Flag Flying, who romped home to win the Frizette Stakes at Belmont.
The $1 million NAPA Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs is once again loaded with speedsters. Orientate, trained by D. Wayne Lukas -- the leading Breeders’ Cup trainer in wins with 16 -- raced to the top of the World Thoroughbred Rankings in the Sprint Division with four stakes wins this summer, the last being the Forego Handicap at Saratoga in September. The Sprint also features the exciting filly Xtra Heat, second in last year’s Sprint and a winner of 24 of 31 starts and more than $2 million in purses.
EIGHT TO TANGLE IN SATURDAY’S BREEDERS’ CUP STEEPLECHASE
Eight horses will face the starter for the 11th running of the Grade I, $250,000 Breeders’ Cup Steeplechase to be run Saturday at the Far Hills Races in Far Hills, N.J. Part of a day worth $500,000 in purses, the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase attracted the previous two winners of the race All Gong (2000) and Quel Senor (2001) as well as international steeplechase star Zabenz.
The 5-year-old Australian-based Zabenz will be a worthy choice based on his win in the New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. I) Aug. 29 at Saratoga and a 4-for-5 career mark over fences. The son of Zabeel won three straight this spring in Australia, before his assault on Saratoga. "Saturday is planned to be it for Zabenz this season," said Smerdon in an NTRA media teleconference Tuesday. "It's been a long haul for him, and he's done a fair bit of jumping and covered a fair bit of miles."
In addition to showcasing steeplechase racing's international flavor with Zabenz, Saturday's race does a superb job in exhibiting the durability of the steeplechase horse as All Gong and Quel Senor go after their second Breeders' Cup victories.
All Gong stormed home by three lengths in the 2000 renewal and used the win to clinch an Eclipse Award as champion steeplechaser. The 8-year-old brings championship aspirations again this year.
Quel Senor, a Tom Voss trainee, won the 2001 Breeders’ Cup in dominant fashion last season, but was ignored when it came time to championship honors due to inconsistency. "He likes his spots and seems to always have an excuse," said Quel Senor’s co-owner Guy Torsilieri. "He hasn't been an easy horse to train and school, but Tom managed to get him all together for the Breeders’ Cup last year and you saw how good he can be."
The race will be televised as part of ESPN2's NTRA 2Day at the Races Sunday, Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m. The complete field in post position order is as follows: Double Leaf, All Gong, Tres Touche, Zabenz, Pelagos, Flat Top, Quel Senor and Turkish Corner.
CHEFS DE RACE
The popular chefs Wolfgang Puck and Mick Verheyen will host a cocktail reception in Evanston, Ill., next Wednesday celebrating the Oct. 26 Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
Festivities get underway at 6:00 PM. Puck and Verheyan will be joined be legendary Kentucky Derby Party Hostess Anita Madden, Chris Benziger of the Benziger Family Winery and surprise celebrity bartenders at the Wolfgang Puck Grand Café in Evanston. A silent auction will be staged to benefit the Don MacBeth Fund. For reservations and additional information, call 847-869-9653.
October 17 Thoroughbred Classics (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), 5:30-6:00 p.m., ESPN Classic
October 17 Thoroughbred Classics (Breeders’ Cup Turf), 6:00-6:30 p.m., ESPN Classic
October 17 Thoroughbred Classics (Breeders’ Cup Classic), 6:30-7:00 p.m., ESPN Classic
October 18 Thoroughbred Classics (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), 9:00-9:30 a.m., ESPN Classic
October 18 Thoroughbred Classics (Breeders’ Cup Turf), 9:30-10:00 a.m., ESPN Classic
October 18 Thoroughbred Classics (Breeders’ Cup Classic), 10:00-10:30 a.m., ESPN Classic
October 19 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
October 19 Thoroughbred Classics (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), 9:00-9:30 a.m., ESPN Classic
October 19 Thoroughbred Classics (Breeders’ Cup Turf), 9:30-10:00 a.m., ESPN Classic
October 19 Thoroughbred Classics (Breeders’ Cup Classic), 10:00-10:30 a.m., ESPN Classic
October 20 NTRA 2Day at the Races; Breeders’ Cup Steeplechase (Far Hills Race Meeting); 5:30-6:00 p.m., ESPN2
October 24 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2
October 25 Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Special, 5:00-6:00 p.m., ESPN2
October 26 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
October 26 Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships (Arlington Park), 1:00-6:00 p.m., NBC
October 30 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2
Oct. 17, 1970: Nijinsky II ended his career finishing second in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket. In 13 races he won 11 times and finished second twice.
Oct. 17, 1986: Kent Desormeaux made his Maryland debut, in the fourth race, at Laurel Racecourse, Laurel, Md., aboard Shonda’s Shickels. He finished second, but was disqualified for interference and placed fourth.
Oct. 17, 1991: Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr. rode his 7,000th victory aboard Dont Cross the Law [sic] at Belmont Park.
Oct. 18, 1956: Nashua, ridden by Eddie Arcaro, was paraded at Keeneland in his last appearance at a racetrack.
Oct. 18, 1973: The owners of Secretariat announced that his last race would be the Canadian International Championship Stakes at Woodbine Racecourse.
Oct. 18, 1976: MacK Miller swept the top three spots in the Long Island Handicap with his trainees Javamine, Nijana and Fun Forever.
Oct. 18, 1978: Jockey Dave Gall became the first rider to win eight races during a single program. He rode 10 consecutive races for the day at Cahokia Downs, finishing second and fifth in his two losing efforts.
Oct. 18, 2001: Unbridled, the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, was euthanized after developing colic.
Oct. 20, 1923: Zev, winner of the 1923 Kentucky Derby, defeated England’s hero Papyrus, winner of the 1923 Epsom Derby, in a $100,000 match race at Belmont Park. The race, the International Special, marked the first time an English champion had been sent to the U.S. to race. For his victory, Zev was awarded $80,000 and a gold cup valued at $5,000. Public interest in the race was so great that it was broadcast on the radio—a first. Within two days, films of the race were distributed at movie theaters in New York City and, eventually, across the nation.
Oct. 20, 1954: Bill Shoemaker rode his 2,000th winner, Florence House, at Tanforan.
Oct. 21, 1961: Eddie Arcaro won the Jockey Club Gold Cup for a record tenth time. His mount, Kelso, won the Gold Cup five straight years, 1960-64, setting the mark for most consecutive victories in a stakes race.
Oct. 22, 1945: El Lobo and Featherfoot became the first Thoroughbreds to be transported by airplane. They were flown from Los Angeles to San Mateo in a twin-engine Budd transport plane piloted by Maj. William Hoelle of the Flying Tiger Line, who landed the plane in the parking area at Bay Meadows. On Oct. 27, El Lobo won the Burlingame Handicap at Bay Meadows, proving that horses could fly (and win).
Oct. 22, 1955: A rare triple dead-heat for first took place at Mexico’s Caliente in the eighth race. Stormsorno, Chance Speed and Beaufair were the three winners.
Oct. 22, 1964: Jockey Bill Shoemaker won the 5,000th victory of his career aboard Slapstick at Aqueduct Race Track.
Oct. 22, 1973: Secretariat was flown to Woodbine Racecourse, where he would compete in his final career race, the Canadian International Championship Stakes.
Oct. 24, 1877: Congress adjourned to see a race between Parole, Ten Broek and Tom Ochiltree, which was held at Pimlico.
Oct. 24, 1953: Tom Fool won the Pimlico Special Stakes by eight lengths, capping a perfect four-year-old campaign with 10 stakes wins in as many starts. The Special was his fourth consecutive race run as a non-betting exhibition. Tom Fool was voted Horse of the Year for 1953, acing out Native Dancer, who lost only one of his 10 stakes races that year, the Kentucky Derby.
Oct. 25, 1870: Pimlico, the nation’s second-oldest Thoroughbred racetrack, began its inaugural meet.
Oct. 25, 1947: After winning the Gallant Fox Handicap at Jamaica, a former $1,500 claimer, Stymie, became the world’s leading money-winning Thoroughbred, with earnings of $816,060. Stymie raced two additional years and retired in 1949, at age eight, with lifetime winnings of $918,485.
Oct. 26, 1949: Bill Shoemaker rode to his first stakes victory, the George Marshall Claiming Handicap at Bay Meadows, aboard a five-year-old horse named Al.
Oct. 26, 1990: Jockey Julie Krone rode her 2,000th career winner, aboard John Forbes-trained Rainbow Quartz, at The Meadowlands.
Oct. 26, 1996: The Breeders’ Cup was held outside the U.S. for the first time, at Woodbine Racecourse in Toronto, Canada. At Woodbine, Jenine Sahadi became the first female trainer to saddle a Breeders’ Cup winner when she sent Lit de Justice to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Oct. 27, 1870: Preakness won the Dinner Stakes at the newly opened Pimlico Racecourse. In 1873, the first Preakness Stakes, a race was named in his honor, was held at Pimlico.
Oct. 27, 1990: Bayakoa (ARG) became the second horse to win two consecutive Breeders’ Cup Championship races. Both of her victories came in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Oct. 27, 2001: Tiznow, 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic champion and Horse of the Year, won the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic for a second straight year, outdueling European sensation Sakhee in the stretch at the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park. Total wagering on the 10-race program was $104,145,186, the second highest Breeders’ Cup total in history, just behind the 2000 total of $108,603,040.
Oct. 27, 2001: Participants in the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships donated more than $2.7 million from their purse earnings to the NTRA Charities - New York Heroes Fund, established to benefit the children and spouses of the firefighters, police officers, emergency workers and other victims who perished in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Sheikh Mohammed’s Dubai-based Godolphin stable, which pledged 100 percent of its Breeders’ Cup earnings to the Heroes Fund, donated approximately $2.5 million on the day, thanks in part to wins by two of his horses, Fantastic Light and Tempera.
Oct. 27, 2001, Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel saw his 0-for-38 streak in Breeders' Cup races come to an end when Squirtle Squirt won the Penske Auto Centers Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Oct. 28, 1972: Secretariat won the Laurel Futurity by eight lengths, sent off at odds of 1-10, at Laurel.
Oct. 28, 1973: With jockey Eddie Maple substituting for Ron Turcotte, who was sidelined by a suspension, Secretariat concluded his racing career with a 6 1-2-length victory in the Canadian International Championship Stakes at Woodbine Racecourse. It was his second victory in as many tries on the turf.
Oct. 28, 1983: Jacinto Vasquez had his 4,000th career winner, aboard Sunshine O’My Life, at Aqueduct.
Oct. 28, 2000: Laffit Pincay Jr., the world’s winningest rider, gained his 9,000th career victory aboard Chichim in the $150,000 California Cup Distaff at Santa Anita Park.
Oct. 29, 1948: Calumet Farm’s three-year-old Citation entered the Pimlico Invitational Special Stakes unopposed and won in a walkover, earning $10,000 for galloping the 1 3-16 mile course in 1:59 4-5. Another great Calumet runner, Whirlaway, also won the Special in a walkover in 1942.
Oct. 29, 1955: Charlie Whittingham and Bill Shoemaker scored their first stakes victory as a trainer-rider team with Mister Gus in the William P. Kyne Handicap at Bay Meadows.
Oct. 29, 1998: Triple Crown winner and 1970s icon Secretariat was selected as one of 15 subjects to be honored with a commemorative postal stamp in 1999.
Oct. 30, 1937: Sir Barton, the first American Triple Crown winner, died at age 21. After an undistinguished career as a sire, Sir Barton was sent to the U.S. Army’s Remount Division in Nebraska, and then to a ranch in Wyoming, where he remained until his death.
Oct. 30, 1988: After the blinkers on his mount, Roaring River, worked loose, jockey Francisco Torres grabbed them and placed them between his teeth to keep his hands free for riding. Roaring River won the race, at Hawthorne, by three lengths.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 20
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 23
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24
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