While Standardbred Racing is still on hold, the action in Thoroughbred Racing matches the weather lately, it’s really heating up.
With major tracks, Belmont Park in New York and Santa Anita in California, reopening recently, this weekend will feature several key races and key horses seeing action.
It all begins on the East Coast at Belmont Park where no less than four Stakes races will be run.
The first is carded as the 6th race, the Fort Marcy, run at nine furlongs on the turf. Trainer Chad Brown trains four of the nine entered, topped by Instilled Regard, a graded stakes winner on both dirt and turf.
The other Brown runners include the French bred pair of Devamani and Tribhuvan. Last, but certainly not least, is France invader Flop Shot, who makes his North American debut. “He’s a staying-type of horse,” Brown said of the son of New Approach. “He’s been ready to run for over a month now, so we’re looking forward to getting him going.”
The 7th race is the first of co-featured races on the biggest track in North America on Saturday, the Westchester, led by two-time Grade: 1 winner Code of Honor. “We’re looking forward to getting Code of Honor started back Saturday,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “We felt like with age and maturity that hopefully he would get even better, and we like what we’ve seen so far.”
The next race is the Intercontinental Stakes, a turf contest for four year olds and up fillies and mares. The star attraction there is 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Newspaperofrecord, who will be making her first start in 2020. “She’s been training really well,” trainer Chad Brown, who figures to have a busy day, said. “It’s a good distance to start her back. We’ll look at stretching her out to a mile and not go past that distance.”
Race 9 is the other co-feature, the Carter. A contentious field of 11 were entered led by Easy Goer look alike, Performer for the powerhouse Phipps stable. “We’re looking forward to getting him started too,” trainer Shug McGaughey said, who also figures to have a busy afternoon on Saturday. “He’s gotten bigger and stronger. If we can get a good, solid effort out of him and move ahead, we’ll be happy. He had four solid races last year, and I think it got him to this year in good position.”
Other who figure to be competitive include multiple Graded Stakes winner Firenze Fire, Mind Control and the talented Vekoma, who even with a little more age, still has a bit of a unique “swimming” action when he runs.
Moving over to the West Coast and Santa Anita Park, “The Great Race Place” will run an 11 race card with seven being Stakes races.
Looking at the top three Stakes’ on the card, they kick off in the 5th race, the Santa Anita Oaks, an 8 ½ furlong contest for three year old fillies.
Swiss Skydiver, who posted upset wins of 9 and 16-1 respectively in her last two races, will make the first West Coast start of her career when she faces just three other competitors in the $200,000 event.
“She’s been doing super, it was five weeks in between this race and her last race and it’ll be another five between this race and the Ashland,” trainer Kenny McPeek said.
Merneith, a $600,000 filly by the great American Pharoah, and Speech, who chased a pair of mega talented, the sky’s the limit fillies in her last two, in Donna Veloce and Gamine respectively, also merits attention in this spot.
The second major Stakes race is race: 8, the Santa Anita Derby. The nine furlong race is highlighted by a rematch between 2020 Kentucky Derby hopefuls Authentic and Honor A.P. who ran 1-2 in the San Felipe Stakes on March 7th.
The legendary Spendthrift Farm purchased a percentage in the gazelle strided Authentic earlier this week, while the long and beautifully strided Honor A.P. will be making just his second start in eight months.
The day closes out with race 10, the $300,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at 10 furlongs. A short field of six have entered led by the gorgeous Midcourt, who is 5 for 10 in his career and 7-3-1-2 on this oval, and the physically imposing Improbable, who after winning the first two starts of his career impressively, has been somewhat disappointing since in winning just one of his next eight races.
Around the Tracks:
**** The long awaited debut of the vaunted Cezanne, a $3.65 million purchase by Curlin, is here.
The bay colt, who looks to be Bob Baffert’s next superstar, will face a small field of maidens in the 6th race at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.
**** While on the subject of possible superstars, Pinatuba, who was been nothing short of spectacular in his two year old year last year while going 6 for 6, makes his three year old debut at Newmarket on Saturday in Race:5 at 3:35PM EST, the Qipco 2000 Guineas. The race will be carried on TVG.
**** One of the more brilliant horses we’ve seen in the past 10-15 years, Arrogate was euthanized June 2 after a weeklong battle with a neurological illness, the cause of which, at this writing, is unknown.
Arrogate’s breeding schedule had been postponed in the last week in May due to a suspected sore neck. Later in the week, the 7 year old son of Unbridled’s Song fell to the ground in his stall and efforts to get him back on his feet were unsuccessful.
The farm sent the stallion to Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, where he was under the care of Dr. Bob Hunt, Dr. Nathan Slovis, and Dr. Steve Reed
Kudos to the staff at Hagyard’s clinic who worked aggressively to save the champion, performing all available tests, including a spinal tap evaluation, X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, and over 2 dozen blood tests
The gorgeous son of Unbridled’s Song was still unable to stand after four days, well beyond the scope of how long a horse should be off their feet. As more serious secondary health issues began to set in, the decision was made to euthanize him.
Arrogate, who stood for $50,000 this year, was the richest North American racehorse in history with earnings of $17,422,600.
Arro-“great” as he was nicknamed won the 2016 champion 3-year-old title and went on an unprecedented four race win streak that will be hard to match. That streak started in August when he won the Travers Stakes by 13 1/2 lengths while breaking a 36 year old track record for 1 1/4 miles and the Breeders’ Cup Classic in which he beat 2016 Horse of the Year California Chrome .
He then kicked off his 4 year old season by winning the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational in track-record time, and followed with astounding last to first win in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
Arrogate retired with a 7-1-1 record from 11 starts.
“We will never forget the ride Arrogate took us on,” said Juddmonte general manager Garrett O’Rourke. “Those four amazing races established him as one of the great racehorses of our time, breaking two track records, taking down champion California Chrome in a battle for the ages, and then running by Gun Runner in another worldly performance in Dubai. We hope that the heartbreak of losing him so young can be soothed by proudly watching the achievement of his runners.”
“That horse was one of the greatest horses I ever trained,” conditioner Bob Baffert said. “His race in the Dubai World Cup will go down as the greatest performance of any horse I’ve trained. What he did in the Travers and what he did in the Breeders’ Cup, running down the great California Chrome, and then he destroyed the field in the Pegasus and ran past Gun Runner in Dubai from last like it was nothing. I’ll never have another horse put together four magical races like that.”
“He would come back (from a race) and never take a deep breath” Baffert added. “He came back in Dubai and wasn’t tired or blowing, nothing. He must have had a heart like Secretariat. No other horse could have won that race (in Dubai). You read stories about Spectacular Bid—he was like that, pure greatness.”
**** Pleasantly Perfect, who won the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2004 Dubai World Cup, died this past Wednesday at the age of 22 following a brief illness, according to Levent Sarikaya, who purchased the horse in 2014 for stud duty at the Turkish National Stud.
“My only solace is that he did not suffer long and much, and he was taken with the best care possible all throughout his time in Turkey,” Sarikaya said. “It was a pleasure and a privilege to stand such an immortal champion and a successful but underrated stallion.”
Pleasantly Perfect sired 20 black type winners and 23 stakes placed performers out of 13 crops. He had seven graded stakes winners, led by grade 1 winners Whitmore and Shared Account.
**** Spendthrift Farm has acquired a majority ownership interest in the undefeated 3 year old colt Authentic, the likely favorite for Saturdays Santa Anita Derby.
Spendthrift now partners with Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables, which have both retained an ownership interest in the son of Into Mischief.
“We are very excited to join an accomplished team on such a talented and promising colt as Authentic,” said Ned Toffey, general manager at Spendthrift. “We believe Into Mischief is still in the early stages of his successes, and we are hopeful Authentic can be a significant part. This colt possesses all the signature attributes we have come to know from Into Mischief, and we feel strongly that those attributes are going to carry on through his sons in the breeding shed.”
**** Superstar mare Enable is set to make her seasonal reappearance in the July 5 Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, trainer John Gosden revealed.
The two time Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner has stepped up her preparation at Newmarket in recent weeks
“Enable is in good form and has enjoyed a couple of spins up the Al Bahathri in the past few weeks,” Gosden said. “But with all of the uncertainty about when racing was going to restart and even whether Royal Ascot was going to go ahead earlier this year we’ve decided to wait for Sandown.”
An unprecedented third Arc is the end goal for the good looking bay.
**** Multiple Grade 1 winning sprinter Imperial Hint had been retired trainer Luis Carvajal Jr. confirmed this past week.
For the past four years, the son of Imperialism, nicknamed “Little Rocket” as he stands a little over 15 hands, but could run like the wind, earned more than $2.2 million in purses.
“It’s going to be hard, it’s like I have a lump in my throat and it won’t let me speak,” said Carvajal. “I didn’t think it was going to be this hard. I knew it was happening but now that I’ve read it it’s so hard. It hurts.”
Stud plans for the 7 year old are in the works.
**** Upper echelon older male Tom’s d’Etat breezed a half-mile at Churchill Downs last Saturday in :48 2/5. The two time 2020 Stakes winner is working towards a start in the June 27 Stephen Foster Stakes at the Louisville track.
Also on the work tab this past were Midnight Bisou, who breezed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 over a good track at Churchill last Friday. The big mare is scheduled to make her first start since an excellent second-place finish in the Saudi Cup in the Fleur de Lis according to owner Bloom Racing.
Monomoy Girl, the champion 3-year-old of 2018, recorded her first breeze after winning a May 16 comeback allowance race with four furlongs in :48 4/5.
The June 13 Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park or the Fleur de Lis are two of the late spring/early summer races that Monomoy Girl could be targeting.