February 2006 Graded Stakes Recap

February 27, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
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Handicap Division – Road to the BC Classic – Dirt Routes for older males

BRASS HAT and HIGH LIMIT both won their second graded stakes of the year in as many months. We have got to get these two crazy kids together!

BRASS HAT won the mile and one-eighth Donn Handicap (G1) over a sloppy Gulfstream Park course. HIGH LIMIT won the mile and one-eighth Strub Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.

SPELLBINDER won the mile and one-eighth San Antonio (G2), also at Santa Anita.

Once a contender for last year’s Kentucky Derby, ROCKPORT HARBOR won the mile and a sixteenth Essex Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park, his first start in nine months. Another runner from last year’s Triple Crown Trail, and the fifth place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, BUZZARDS BAY won the mile and one-eighth All American Handicap (G3) at Golden Gate Fields.

Handicap Division – Road to the BC Distaff – Dirt Routes for older females

Originally scheduled for the turf, the mile and one-eighth Suwannee River Handicap (G3) was won by EYES ON EDDY over a sloppy Gulfstream Park course.

At Santa Anita, STAR PARADE (ARG) won the mile and a sixteenth Santa Maria Handicap (G1) and SEAFREE won the mile and one-eighth La Canada Stakes (G2).

Back at Gulfstream Park, TAITTINGER ROSE won the mile and one-eighth Sabin Handicap (G2).

Handicap Division – Road to the BC Sprint – Dirt Sprints for older males

UNIVERSAL FORM won the six and one-half furlong Deputy Minister Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

At Santa Anita, SURF CAT closed well to defeat a strong field in the seven furlong San Carlos Handicap (G2).

Handicap Division – Road to the BC Sprint – Dirt Sprints for older females

Winner of last month’s six furlong First Lady Handicap (G2), SMOKEY GLACKEN returns to win the six and one-half furlong Hurricane Bertie Handicap (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

At Santa Anita, the six furlong Las Flores Handicap (G3) was won by yet another repeat graded stakes winner, BEHAVING BADLY, who also won last month’s SANTA MONICA (G1).

Handicap Division – Road to the BC Mile/Turf – Turf Routes for older males

Longshot GULCH APPROVAL wired the field in the one mile Appleton Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

The Gulfstream Park Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) was won by three-and-a-half-year-old EINSTEIN (BRZ) in front running style. The win may have been aided by the positioning of the inside rail on Gulfstream’s turf course. Dick Powell’s Handicapping Insights column discusses how the Gulfstream Park turf course is really several turf courses in one. When the inner rail is set at zero feet, as it was for this race, the course becomes very similar to Saratoga’s Inner Turf course, where front runners do very well. When the inner rail is set further out, 60′, 72′ or even 84′, then the course becomes more like Saratoga’s main Mellon Turf course, where closers have a better chance of getting up in time. GULCH APPROVAL’s win earlier this month was also won in front running style, but the rail was set at 48′ – a fairly neutral position where no particular running style dominates. Be sure to read Powell’s interesting article to learn more about this.

At Santa Anita, the mile and one-half San Luis Obispo Handicap (G2) was won by ATLANDO (IRE).

Handicap Division – Road to the BC Mile/F&M Turf – Turf Routes for older females

Yet another repeat graded stakes winner, SILVER CUP (IRE) won the one mile Buena Vista Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita.

The Suwanne River Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park was moved off the turf.

Three-year-olds – Road to the Kentucky Derby

Three-year-olds fillies – Road to the Kentucky Oaks

Two graded stakes for fillies were run over a sloppy Gulfstream Park on February 4th. The Davona Dale Stakes (G2), run at a mile and one-eighth, was won by Pletcher/Velazquez runner WAIT A WHILE. The six and half furlong OLD HAT STAKES (G3) was won MISTY ROSETTE. At Santa Anita, BALANCE won the one mile Las Virgenes Stakes (G1) over a fast track.

Four trainers won two graded stakes races apiece in February: Todd Pletcher, Bobby Frankel, Bob Baffert and Darrell Vienna.

As for the jockeys, Victor Espinoza won three graded stakes (aboard BALANCE, SILVER CUP (IRE), and BEHAVING BADLY) for three different trainers (Hofmans, Biancone and Baffert). Also winning three graded stakes was Martin Pedroza. Four other jocks won two graded stakes apiece in February: John Velazquez, Edgar Prado, Patrick Valenzuela and Raphael Bejarano.

— Thoroughbred Report Graded Stakes Awards – February 2006 —

HORSE OF THE MONTH: HIGH LIMIT

TRAINER OF THE MONTH: Darrell Vienna

JOCKEY OF THE MONTH: Victor Espinoza

2006 Triple Crown Trail – February Recap

February 27, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
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Much like January, February started off with a graded stakes win by BARBARO, followed a week later by an easy win in a non-graded stakes by ACHILLES OF TROY. Both horses were impressive and showed their January success was not a fluke.

February only had three graded stakes for three-year-olds. (March will have eleven!) The mile and one-eighth Holy Bull Stakes (G3) was BARBARO’s first attempt at dirt racing and he responded with a victory over a sloppy course at Gulfstream Park. Racing close to the pace early, BARBARO had to work hard to hold on for a 3/4 length victory. Turf? Check. Slop? Check. Fast? We may not find out until the Florida Derby (G1) on April 1st.

Also on the Gulfstream card February 4th was the Hutcheson Stakes (G2) at 7 1/2 furlongs where Pletcher/Velazquez runner KEYED ENTRY held off 2005 Hopeful Stakes (G1) winner FIRST SAMURAI.

At Santa Anita, Baffert trainee TOO MUCH BLING followed up his victory last month in the San Miguel Stakes with a powerful win in the San Vincente Stakes (G2) in very fast time. TOO MUCH BLING is expected to stay sprinting this spring. In non-graded action, Bob Baffert also won the mile and one-eighth Sham Stakes earlier in the month with BOB AND JOHN.

2005 Remsen Stakes (G2) winner BLUEGRASS CAT made his 2006 debut a winning one by setting a new stakes record (1:44) in the mile and a sixteenth Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

At Aqueduct, ACHILLES OF TROY didn’t break a sweat winning the mile and a sixteenth Whirlaway Stakes. Also at Aqueduct, LIKE NOW won the six furlong Fred Capossela Stakes.

At Oaklawn Park, LAWYER RON won the Southwest Stakes gate-to-wire, but in very slow time, 1:40 for the mile. Also at Oaklawn Park, URBAN GUY won the six furlong Mountain Valley Stakes.

Elsewhere, WARRIOR WITHIN won the one mile WEBN Stakes at Turfway and SWEETNORTHERNSAINT won the one mile Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park.

Back out west, KEEGAN won the Turf Paradise Derby and, at Sunland Park, INDY WILDCAT, a maiden, won the mile and a sixteenth Borderland Derby.

And finally, CAN’T BEAT IT won the only turf stakes for three-year-olds this month, the mile and a sixteenth Hallandale Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

February was also the start of the annual thinning of the herd. The most significant loss was 2005 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile winner STEVIE WONDERBOY to a condylar fracture of the right front foreleg. Early reports indicate that surgery to insert a screw to stabilize the fracture was successful and SW may return to the races later this year. Also lost to injuries were SORCERER’S STONE (ankle), ONE UNION (knee), CINDAGO and HALF OURS.

The three-year-olds in Todd Pletcher’s barn have started to shine. KEYED ENTRY won the Hutcheson (G2) at Gulfstream and BLUEGRASS CAT won his 2006 debut in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. Bob Baffert also won two stakes for three-year-olds this month at Santa Anita, the Sham and the San Vincente.

John Velazquez was the only jockey to win more than one three-year-old stakes race this month.

— Thoroughbred Report Triple Crown Trail Awards – February 2006 —

HORSE OF THE MONTH: BLUEGRASS CAT

TRAINER OF THE MONTH: Todd Pletcher

JOCKEY OF THE MONTH: John Velazquez

January 2006 Graded Stakes Recap

February 13, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
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Handicap Division – Road to the BC Classic – Dirt Routes for older males

There were five graded stakes in January in what should be a fascinating division to watch this year. BRASS HAT started things off with an easy victory in the New Orleans Handicap (G2). The 9 furlong race was run for the first (and hopefully last) time at Louisiana Downs due to damage from Hurricane Katrina to Fairgrounds Race Course.

ON THIN ICE won the Hal’s Hope (G3) at Gulfstream Park, also at a mile and one-eighth.

Winner of last year’s Louisiana Derby (G2), HIGH LIMIT looked in top form as a four-year-old with a nose victory over BUCKLAND MANOR in the San Pasqual at a mile and one sixteenth at Santa Anita.

Also at Santa Anita, UNBRIDLED ENERGY won the San Fernando BC Stakes (G2) at a mile and a sixteenth.

The mile and a sixteenth Aqueduct Handicap (G3), conveniently held at Aqueduct Racetrack, was won by HAPPY HUNTING.

Handicap Division – Road to the BC Distaff – Dirt Routes for older females

PROPOSED won the only graded stakes race in this division in January – the El Encino Stakes (G2) at a mile and a sixteenth at Santa Anita.

Handicap Division – Road to the BC Sprint – Dirt Sprints for older males

The 5 ½ furlong El Conejo Handicap (G3) at was won by WITH DISTINCTION at Santa Anita.

GAFF was the winner of the 6 furlong Mr. Prospector Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

The Palos Verdes Handicap (G2), 6 furlongs at Santa Anita, was won by MAJOR SUCCESS.

Handicap Division – Road to the BC Sprint – Dirt Sprints for older females

At Gulfstream Park, the 6 furlong First Lady Handicap (G3) was won by SMOKEY GLACKEN.

The first Grade 1 stakes race of the year, the 7 furlong Santa Monica Handicap, was won by BEHAVING BADLY.

Handicap Division – Road to the BC Mile/Turf – Turf Routes for older males

BADGE OF SILVER, winner of last year’s New Orleans Handicap (G2) on dirt, took an early lead and held on to win the San Gabriel Handicap (G2).

Eight-year-old THE TIN MAN won the 10 furlong San Marcos Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.

HOTSTUFANTHENSOME won the 11 furlong Mac Diarmida Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

Handicap Division – Road to the BC Mile/F&M Turf – Turf Routes for older females

SILVER CUP (IRE) won the 9 furlong San Gorgonia Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita.

The mile and a sixteenth Bayou BC Handicap (G3) was won by SNOWDROPS (GB).

Three-year-olds – Road to the Kentucky Derby

Three-year-olds fillies – Road to the Kentucky Oaks

ITTY BITTY PRETTY won the mile and a sixteenth Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita.

BAGHDARIA won the Silverbulletday Stakes (G3) at Louisiana Downs at a mile and a sixteenth.

The Santa Ynez Stakes (G2), 7 furlongs at Santa Anita, was won by DANCE DAILY.

Three trainers won multiple graded stakes races in January. Bobby Frankel lead the way with three (San Gabriel, San Pasqual and Palos Verdes – all at Santa Anita). D. Wayne Lukas (El Conejo, Santa Ynez) and Richard Mandella (San Fernando BC, San Marcos) both won two, also at Santa Anita.

Patrick Valenzuela had a great month of January with four graded stakes winners (BADGE OF SILVER, ITTY BITTY PRETTY, HIGH LIMIT, PROPOSED – all at Santa Anita). Not far behind was Victor Espinoza with three (SILVER CUP, THE TIN MAN, BEHAVING BADLY). Shaun Bridgmohan had a very good day at Gulfstream Park on January 7th with two graded stakes winners (ON THIN ICE, GAFF).

— Thoroughbred Report Graded Stakes Awards – January 2006 —

HORSE OF THE MONTH: THE TIN MAN

TRAINER OF THE MONTH: Bobby Frankel

JOCKEY OF THE MONTH: Patrick Valenzuela

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