NTRA THOROUGHBRED NOTEBOOK
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|News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled
by NTRA Communications, (212) 907-9280.
LAST CALL FOR THE DERBY
A field of eight three-year-olds was entered today for the 22nd running of the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, a Grade II, $325,000 event to be contested at 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. The race represents the last major test for three-year-olds prior to the May 3 Kentucky Derby, and with a strong enough performance Saturday, virtually any of the eight in the Lexington could go on to the Derby.
The favorite in the Lexington could be the Neil Drysdale-trained Ministers Wild Cat, who was a close second despite a very wide trip in the El Camino Real Derby and then was forced to scratch out of the April 5 Santa Anita derby due to a minor injury. Ministers Wild Cat will break from post two under Victor Espinoza who won last year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness aboard War Emblem.
Another Lexington starter sure to draw wagering support is the speedy Trust N Luck, the wire to wire winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes in February. Last time out, though, he was throttled in the Florida Derby by Empire Maker, everybody's favorite for the Run for the Roses. Trust N Luck's Lexington chances were perhaps compromised a bit today when he drew the far outside post position. Keeneland has been known of late as a track favoring inside speed, and Trust N Luck will have to hotfoot it early to clear the field and get over to the inside from his outside berth.
The complete Coolmore Lexington field from the rail out is: Scrimshaw (jockey: Edgar Prado, trainer: Wayne Lukas); Ministers Wild Cat (Victor Espinoza, Neil Drysdale); Eye of the Tiger (Robby Albarado, Jerry Hollendorfer); Most Feared (Mark Guidry, Ronny Werner); Domestic Dispute (Jerry Bailey, Bob Baffert); Champali (Pat Day, Gregory Foley); Ocean Terrace (Shane Sellers, Robert Hess Jr.) and Trust N Luck (Cornelio Velasquez, Ralph Ziadie).
The Coolmore Lexington Stakes and another event for three-year-old stars, Saturday's $150,000 Federico Tesio Stakes from Pimlico, can be seen via same-day tape delay on "CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby" from 6:00-7:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 on Saturday.
THE CHAMP IS BACK! STORM FLAG FLYING MAKES 2003 DEBUT
Storm Flag Flying, the two-year-old filly champion of 2002, could have begun her three-year-old campaign earlier this year. Sporting a perfect 4-for-4 slate with three victories coming in Grade 1 company -- including her dramatic, comeback victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile fillies -- this rising superstar would have been a prohibitive favorite to win anywhere she set hoof during the winter. Trainer Shug McGaughey, however, stayed patient.
He had a simple plan. "I wanted to have a fresh horse for the summer," he said. So, nearly six months after achieving her finest moment, Storm Flag Flying is ready to get back to work in Friday's Grade 3, $100,000-added Comely for three-year-old fillies at a mile. Five will face Storm Flag Flying, who figures in the realm of 1-5. There should be a good battle for second money.
Racing fans got their last glimpse of Storm Flag Flying during the stretch run of the October 26th Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and it appeared the 4-5 favorite, who had convincingly won Belmont's Grade 1 Matron and Frizette earlier that fall, was in deep, deep trouble inside the last furlong. For the first time ever, Storm Flag Flying had been collared late and it looked like the West Coast-based Composure had her number.
Things appeared bleak for one of the game's brightest stars, but Storm Flag Flying remarkably fought back after losing the lead, re-broke and won by a half-length. The victory not only capped off a brilliant undefeated juvenile campaign for Storm Flag Flying, but she also became the third female of her family to win a Breeders' Cup race, a first in the 19-year history of the Breeders' Cup.
Back in 1988, her grand dam, Personal Ensign, ended her career a perfect 13-for-13 career with a nose victory over Winning Colors in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs. Some consider it the best race ever. In 1995, Storm Flag Flying's dam, My Flag, won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Belmont Park.
"I saw her pin her ears and she went back to running when that filly got even with her," said McGaughey of Storm Flag Flying's Breeders' Cup effort. "I hadn't given up hope."
Storm Flag Flying spent her winter down in Florida and has been in serious training for a little more than two months. Since getting back home to Belmont Park during the first week of April, she has twice worked locally. McGaughey said he plans on pointing the daughter of Storm Cat to NYRA's newly revamped Triple Tiara series, which will offer a $2 million bonus to the connections of any three-year-old filly that can sweep the June 28 Mother Goose, July 19 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont and then Saratoga's Alabama on August 16.
Additionally, McGaughey did not rule out a potential berth in the May 2nd Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. If she wins the Comely, and barring the unforeseen she should, Storm Flag Flying would likely head into the Kentucky Oaks an overwhelming favorite if her connections opted to ship.
"The Oaks is a possibility," McGaughey said. "Then, we'll point to the big races in New York over the summer."
PBS SPECIAL ON SEABISCUIT TO AIR MONDAY
Based on Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend, "American Experience: Seabiscuit" is a one-hour PBS documentary debuting Monday, April 21, 2003 (check local listings for time in your area).
Narrated by actor Scott Glenn, the program will feature archival footage of Seabiscuit's major races with commentary by those who knew his owner, trainer and jockeys.
April 19 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
April 19 CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby; Coolmore Lexington Stakes (Keeneland) and Federico Tesio Stakes (Pimlico); 6:00-6:30 p.m., ESPN2
April 22 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2
April 26 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
April 27 Visa Triple Crown Special, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., ESPN2
April 28 Run for the Roses: The 1960s, 8:00-8:30 a.m., ESPN2
April 28 Run for the Roses: The 1970s, 8:30-9:00 a.m., ESPN2
April 29 Run for the Roses: The 1980s, 8:00-8:30 a.m., ESPN2
April 29 Run for the Roses: The 1990s, 8:30-9:00 a.m., ESPN2
April 29 Run for the Roses: Bob Baffert, 12:00-12:30 p.m., ESPN2
April 29 Thoroughbred Classics (Kentucky Derby), 7:00-7:30 p.m., ESPN Classic
April 30 Thoroughbred Classics (Kentucky Derby), 2:00-2:30 a.m., ESPN Classic
April 30 Run for the Roses: Bob Baffert, 8:00-8:30 a.m., ESPN2
April 30 Run for the Roses: Derby Shoe-ins, 8:30-9:00 a.m., ESPN2
April 30 Run for the Roses: Churchill Downs, 3:00-3:30 p.m., ESPN
April 30 Run for the Roses: Derby Museum, 3:30-4:00 p.m., ESPN
April 30 Run for the Roses: New Millennium Derbys, 4:00-4:30 p.m., ESPN
April 30 Run for the Roses: Derby Heartbreaks, 4:30-5:00 p.m., ESPN
April 30 SportsCenter at the Kentucky Derby Post Position Draw; 5:00-6:00 p.m., ESPN
April 17, 1972: Future champion filly Ruffian was foaled at Claiborne Farm, Paris, Ky.
April 18, 1970: The New York State Legislature passed a bill enabling off-track betting.
April 19, 1952: Native Dancer won his first race, at Jamaica racetrack.
April 19, 1969: Bill Veeck, promoter and president of Suffolk Downs, staged a $10,000 race featuring all female jockeys, then a novelty in racing. Called the Lady Godiva Stakes, the event attracted such riders as Diane Crump, Tuesdee Testa and Robyn Smith. It was Penny Ann Early, however, who won the race-her first career victory. The previous year, Early had attempted to ride at Churchill Downs, but the male jockeys boycotted and the race was canceled.
April 19, 2000: Jockey Pat Day guided first time starter Unbridled Time to victory in the second race at Keeneland, giving the 46-year-old a record 717 victories at the Lexington, Ky. track.
April 20, 1949: Jockey Bill Shoemaker won his first race, aboard Shafter V, at Golden Gate Fields, Albany, Calif.
April 20, 1999: Trainer Charlie Whittingham died in Pasadena, Calif., of complications from leukemia. He was 86.
April 21, 1923: Eight-year-old Exterminator won his 34th stakes victory, the Philadelphia Handicap at Havre de Grace, setting an American record.
April 21, 1973: In a surprising defeat, Secretariat finished third to stablemate Angle Light and runner-up Sham in the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct, his last start before sweeping the Triple Crown. The following day, Secretariat was found to have had an abscess in his mouth, which may have caused him discomfort while racing.
April 21, 1998: Tim Smith was named Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
April 22, 1947: Citation won his first race by ½-length, at Havre de Grace.
April 22, 1970: Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed into law a bill allowing off-track betting in New York.
April 22, 1976: After winning the Florida Derby at odds of 1-20, Honest Pleasure ran in the Blue Grass Stakes as the 1-10 favorite. Only win wagering was allowed on the seven-horse field. Honest Pleasure won, creating a minus win pool of $41,876.20.
April 22, 2002: Ogden Phipps, philanthropist and Thoroughbred owner and breeder, died at age 93 after a short illness. Winner of an Eclipse Award as outstanding owner and breeder in 1988 and again as outstanding owner in 1989, Phipps won nearly every major stakes race on the East Coast as an owner or breeder.
April 23, 1943: Judy Johnson was granted a license to ride in steeplechase races in Maryland, making her one of the earliest female jockeys.
April 23, 1973: Secretariat and his stablemate Angle Light were flown to Louisville, Ky., to prepare for the Kentucky Derby.
April 23, 1977: Seattle Slew won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack, his sixth consecutive win and his third win of the season. The race was his final prep for the May 7 Kentucky Derby.
April 26, 1853: En route to becoming England's first Triple Crown winner, West Australian won the 2,000 Guineas, the first of three races that comprise England's Triple Crown.
April 26, 1916: The first Triple Crown winner, Sir Barton, was foaled at Hamburg Place, Lexington, Ky.
April 27, 1973: At Churchill Downs, Secretariat worked six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 in preparation for the May 5 Kentucky Derby.
April 27, 1999: Trainer D. Wayne Lukas was elected to the National Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame.
April 28, 2001: Jockey Chris McCarron became the seventh American jockey to win 7,000 races, guiding Spinelessjellyfish to a neck victory in the Khaled Stakes at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif. McCarron joined Laffit Pincay Jr., Bill Shoemaker, Pat Day, David Gall, Russell Baze and Angel Cordero Jr. in the 7,000 club.
April 29, 1976: The State of Connecticut opened its own betting parlors in 11 communities.
April 30, 1941: Jockey Eddie Arcaro rode four winners out of five mounts at Jamaica racetrack before leaving for Churchill Downs to ride Whirlaway in the Kentucky Derby.
April 30, 1989: Bill Shoemaker won his 1,000th stakes race, guiding Charlie Whittingham-trained Peace to victory in the Premiere Handicap at Hollywood Park.
April 30, 2002: Two-time Horse of the Year Cigar and champion filly Serena's Song were elected to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Also named to the Hall were trainer Bud Delp, jockey Jack Westrope and champion Noor.
THURSDAY, APRIL 17
FRIDAY, APRIL 18
SATURDAY, APRIL 19
SUNDAY, APRIL 20
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23
THURSDAY, APRIL 24
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