April 2006 Graded Stakes Recap

April 30, 2006 by · Comments Off on April 2006 Graded Stakes Recap
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Handicap Division – Road to the BC Classic – Dirt Routes for older males

The handicap division continues to feature refugees from last years Triple Crown trail. Following in the hoofprints of HIGH LIMIT, ROCKPORT HARBOR, HARLINGTON and BUZZARDS BAY, BANDINI won his first graded stakes since last year’s Blue Grass Stakes (G1) – the mile and one eighth Skip Away Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

PREACHINATTHEBAR won two graded stakes this month, the mile and one eighth Tokyo City Handicap (G3) at Santa Anita and the one mile Texas Mile Stakes (G3) at Lone Star.

BUZZARDS BAY won his second graded stakes of the year, the mile and one eighth Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at Oaklawn Park.

In other action around the country, WEST VIRGINIA won the 9 furlong Excelsior BC Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct, KID GRINDSTONE won the mile and a sixteenth Fifth Season Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn, and THREE HOUR NAP won the 9 furlong National Jockey Club Handicap (G3) at Hawthorne.

WANDERIN BOY won the 9 furlong Ben Ali Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. It was his second second 111+ BSF of the month.

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

SPUN SUGAR won the mile and a sixteenth Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) at Oaklawn Park by battling STAR PARADE (ARG) early and HAPPY TICKET late to prevail gamely at the wire.

FLEET INDIAN won her second graded stakes race of the year by dropping a tasty 112 BSF on the field to win the mile and one eighth Sixty Sails Handicap (G3) at Hawthorne.

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

BISHOP COURT HILL sprinted clear, made all of the pace, and held on for neck victory over SIR GREELEY in the seven furlong Carter Handicap (G1) over a sloppy Aqueduct Racetrack.

Odds-on favorite SURF CAT won his second graded stakes of the year by besting a five horse field in the six and one half furlong Potrero Grande BC Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita.

SUN KING, in 11th place, 10 lengths behind the leader after a half mile, closed well over the speed favoring Keeneland track to win going away in the seven furlong Commonwealth BC Stakes (G2).

BORDONARO battled FRIENDLY ISLAND gate to wire to win the six furlong Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park and earned a 115 BSF. It was the fourth consecutive six furlong stakes victory for BORDONARO.

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

DUBAI ESCAPADE was hustled to a clear lead and was never seriously challenged in winning the seven furlong Vinery Madison Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.

MAGNOLIA JACKSON raced close to the pace early, battled between horses down the stretch and was very game to win by a neck in the seven furlong Bed O’Roses BC Handicap (G2) at Aqueduct.

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

MIESQUE’S APPROVAL rated early, swung wide entering the stretch and was very game to get up by a nose over Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) hero ARTIE SCHILLER in the one mile Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.

For the second year in a row, T. H. APPROVAL won the mile and three-quarter San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita.

SILENT NAME (JPN) tracked the leaders early, made a good move to take the lead midway on the final turn and stayed strong to the wire to beat a good field in the one mile Arcadia Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita.

CHARMO (FR) was content to wait at the back of the pack, swung wide entering the stretch to pass the leaders and outgamed ARAGORN (IRE) nearing the wire to win by one in the one mile San Francisco BC Mile Handicap (G2) at Golden Gate Fields.

In Grade 3 action, WILLOW O WISP won the mile and a sixteenth Inglewood Handicap (G3) at Hollywood Park, SILVER WHISTLE won the mile and one half Pan American Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park, FORT PRADO won the nine furlong John B. Connally BC Turf Handicap (G3) at Sam Houston, FOREVERNESS won the mile and a sixteenth Fort Marcy Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct, PELLEGRINO (BRZ) won the mile and one half Fifth Third Elkhorn Stakes (G3) at Keeneland and GIGAWATT won the one mile Miami Mile BC Handicap (G3) at Calder Race Course.

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

WEND won her second graded stakes of the year by settling mid-pack, swinging four wide entering the stretch before catching the leaders mid-stretch to win the mile and a sixteenth Jenny Wiley Stakes (G2) at Keeneland by a length and a half.

SHARP LISA broke best, set all the pace, and was game to the wire to hold off ETERNAL MELODY (NZ) by a nose in the mile and a quarter Santa Barbara Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita.

HONEY RYDER easily won the mile and a half Orchid Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

NOBLE STELLA (GER) won the mile and a half Bewitch Stakes (G3) at Keeneland in gate-to-wire fashion as did POMMES FRITES in winning the mile and a sixteenth Beaugay Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct.

HEAVENLY RANSON won the one mile Wilshire Handicap (G3) at Hollywood Park.

Handicap Division – Road to Nowhere – Turf Sprints

Doesn’t it seem to be that there are quite a few more Turf Sprints than in past years? I’m pretty sure NYRA is running more than ever. Given that, if the Breeders’ Cup had an extra $6 million to spend, why not use a million for a Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint?

ATTICUS KRISTY scored a neck victory in the five and one half furlong Shakertown Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.

CAMBIOCORSA won the six and one half furlong Las Cienegas Handicap (G3) and PURE AS GOLD won the 6 and one half San Simeon Handicap (G3), both at Santa Anita.

Three-year-olds – Road to the Kentucky Derby

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

Florida Oaks winner BUSHFIRE [Photos] scored big with a gate-to-wire victory over a top field of three-year-old fillies in the mile and a sixteenth Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland.

DIPLOMAT LADY battled for the lead early, setting strong fractions, before drawing away to victory in the seven furlong Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.

READY TO PLEASE received a gift-wrapped win when front running longshot MISS NORMAN decided to bolt to the outside twice in the stretch of the mile and a sixteenth Fantasy Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park.

MIRACULOUS MISS rallied from the back of the field to get up for the win the in one mile Comely Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct.

Longshot BETTARUN FAST was a game winner of the six and one half furlong Santa Paula Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita.

FOXYSOX (GB) stalked, pounced, and gamely prevailed in the one mile Providencia Stakes (G3) over the Santa Anita turf course.

Seven trainers won multiple graded stakes races in April: Todd Pletcher (7), Bob Baffert (5), Bill Mott (3), Doug O’Neill (3), Vladimir Cerin (2), Nick Zito (2), Roger Attfield (2).

Thirteen jockeys won multiple graded stakes races in April: Edgar Prado (5), Garrett Gomez (4), Jon Kenton Court (4), Cornelio Velasquez (4), Alex Solis (3), John Velazquez (2), Patrick Valenzuela (2), Kent Desormeaux (2), Corey Nakatani (2), Norberto Arroyo, Jr. (2), Shawn Bridgmohan (2), Jose Santos (2), Javier Castellano (2).

— Thoroughbred Report Graded Stakes Awards – April 2006 —

HORSE OF THE MONTH: PREACHINATTHEBAR

TRAINER OF THE MONTH: Todd Pletcher

JOCKEY OF THE MONTH: Edgar Prado

2006 Triple Crown Trail – April Recap

April 29, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
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April 29th, 2006

Derby Trial Stakes – Churchill Downs – One mile

Once an actual prep for the Kentucky Derby, the Derby Trial is now more of a prep for second-tier horses hoping to run in the Preakness Stakes (G1) two weeks after the Derby.

RECORD, yet another Bob Baffert three-year-old, tracked just outside the lead pack, moved smartly between horses in the stretch and was all out to catch SPOTSGONE at the wire.

Withers Stakes (G3) – Aqueduct – One mile

Despite its’ Grade 3 status and $150,000 purse, the Withers seems to have fallen out of favor – only four horses entered the starting gate.

Jockey Javier Castellano placed BERNARDINI just off pacesetter LUXEMBOURG, tracked him until the top of the stretch, then quickly dispatched him to draw away to a four length victory.

April 22nd, 2006

Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G2) – Keeneland – One mile and one sixteenth

Following a troubled start, SHOWING UP settled midpack along the rail, continued to save ground around the far turn, smoothly moved outside entering the stretch and battled BEAR CHARACTER and LIKE NOW down the stretch before getting up to win by just over a length at the wire.

LIKE NOW also ran a strong race, dueling with FAST PARADE early, then losing the lead in the stretch to BEAR CHARACTER before battling back gamely to nip that one at the wire for the place.

Both SHOWING UP and LIKE NOW earned enough graded stakes money to enable them to run in the Kentucky Derby in two weeks.

Frederico Tesio Stakes – Pimlico – One mile and one eighth

AH DAY, winner of the Horatius Stakes at Laurel last month, raced off the rail early, moved up to take a clear lead entering the far turn and turned it up in the stretch to win by five and a half in the slop.

Maryland Stallion Station Stakes – Pimlico – Six furlongs

PAGAN MOON tracked RAINBOW INTHESTORM from the start, challenged for the lead mid-stretch and took command leaving the sixteenth pole to win by a length and a half.

April 20th, 2006

Forerunner Stakes – Keeneland – One mile and one eighth on the turf

In what can only be described as a pyrrhic victory, even-money favorite UP AN OCTAVE battled front-runner TAHOE WARRIOR the length of the stretch to prevail at the wire. Sadly, a sixteenth past the wire, UP AN OCTAVE’s left front foreleg shattered, throwing jockey John Velazquez to the ground with UP AN OCTAVE rolling over him. UP AN OCTAVE’s injuries were catastrophic and he was euthanized on the turf course. Jockey John Velazquez was hospitalized with a fractured right shoulder blade and two cracked ribs and is not expected to return to riding for several months.

April 15th, 2006

Blue Grass Stakes (G1) – Keeneland – One mile and one eighth

SINISTER MINISTER quickly assumed a clear lead, lengthened the lead throughout the race while setting fast fractions and never looked back to win by nearly thirteen lengths.

BLUEGRASS CAT and FIRST SAMURAI, leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby earlier this year, showed little and have no reason to continue on to Louisville.

Lightly raced STRONG CONTENDER may well move forward off this race, but probably needed to finished second to have enough graded stakes earnings for the Kentucky Derby.

Arkansas Derby (G2) – Oaklawn Park – One mile and one eighth

LAWYER RON broke awkwardly, settled briefly in fourth before insisting on moving up the inside to take the lead and was never seriously challenged to the wire.

Northern Spur Breeders’ Cup Stakes – Oaklawn Park – One mile

ADMIRAL’S ARCH was shuffled back early, caught in traffic mid-race, weaved through the field on the far turn and was all out to just catch front-running longshot SWEETENING at the wire.

La Puente Stakes – Santa Anita – One mile on the turf

STRATHAM (IRE) saved ground mid-pack, waited patiently until mid-stretch, and was able to get clear late.

April 9th, 2006

San Pedro Stakes (G3) – Santa Anita – Six and one half furlongs

ARSON SQUAD broke slowly, trailed the field for the first half mile, then closed well to catch race favorite DA STOOPS in deep stretch.

Lafayette Stakes – Keeneland – Six furlongs

LIKELY raced close to the pace for a half mile, took the lead from race favorite LAPTOP COMPUTER at the top of the stretch and drew away for a nine length victory.

April 8th, 2006

Bay Shore Stakes (G3) – Aqueduct – Seven furlongs

Winner of two stakes races this year at Santa Anita, TOO MUCH BLING had no trouble switching to the East Coast. The Baffert trainee won with ease over a sloppy race course under jockey Garrett Gomez.

Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) – Aqueduct – Mile and one eighth

BOB AND JOHN, another Baffert/Gomez West Coast invader, broke well, was content to sit third behind front runner KEYED ENTRY in the early going, responded well in the stretch and was able to draw clear at the wire over a sloppy race course.

Kiaran McLaughlin trainee JAZIL, flying late under jockey Fernando Jara, was able to steal second place money from Pletcher/Prado runner KEYED ENTRY in the final strides. Even though BOB AND JOHN’s final furlong was quite slow, JAZIL’s six length gain in the stretch is bound to get him plenty of attention from the wiseguys if he continues on to the Kentucky Derby.

Illinois Derby (G2) – Hawthorne – Mile and one eighth

SWEETNORTHERNSAINT broke from the ten hole under jockey Kent Desormeaux and was quickly put into a stalking position outside of front runner MISTER TRIESTER. Content to rate off the leader for the first six furlongs, SWEETNORTHERNSAINT took the lead on the final turn without urging and finished strong for an easy victory.

Santa Anita Derby (G1) – Santa Anita – Mile and one eighth

BROTHER DEREK broke well, was unchallenged for the early lead, set his own pace and was never seriously threatened by the other four runners as he cruised down the stretch to an easy three length victory. This was the third graded stakes victory of the year for BROTHER DEREK.

As dominating as BROTHER DEREK looked, keep in mind that he will be facing a field of 20 in the Kentucky Derby, several of whom will be able to battle him for the early lead. Stay tuned.

April 7th, 2006

Transylvania Stakes (G3) – Keeneland – One Mile on the turf

CHIN HIGH saved ground at the back of the pack early, closed through the stretch, and was able to prevail at the wire for a whopping $139 win mutuel. Odds-on favorite TO SENDER (GB) pressed the pace for the first half mile before fading to finish last.

April 1st, 2006

Florida Derby (G1) – Gulfstream Park – Mile and one eighth

In January, BARBARO won a graded stakes race on turf. In February, BARBARO won a graded stakes on a sloppy track. Today, BARBARO won a graded stakes on a fast track and stamped his ticket to Louisville for the first Saturday in May.

After a troubled start, jockey Edgar Prado was able to position BARBARO just off pace setter SHARP HUMOR, winner of last month’s seven furlong Swale Stakes (G2). Drawing even with his rival turning for home, BARBARO and SHARP HUMOR engaged in a protracted duel the length of the stretch with BARBARO prevailing by only half a length.

The final time of the race compares favorably with the prior race on the Gulfstream card – the mile and one eighth Skip Away Handicap (G3) won by four-year-old BANDINI – and both runners should benefit from the race and move forward to be factors in the Kentucky Derby.

WinStar Derby – Sunland Park – Mile and one eighth

Despite not being a graded stakes race, the WinStar Derby’s $600,00 purse was attractive enough for Bob Baffert to enter two runners – first and second place finishers WANNA RUNNER and SKY DIVING.

Given the financial commitment by track ownership to the WinStar Derby, it would be nice to see this race receive graded status next year. A Grade 3 WinStar Derby would be a valuable alternative for West Coast trainers trying to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. If the race had been graded this year, the $300,000 first place money would be more than enough to get WANNA RUNNER into the Kentucky Derby starting gate. (Whether he should be in the starting gate is a different matter).

Spectacular Bid Stakes – Gulfstream Park – Six and one half furlongs

Pletcher/Velazquez runner EXCLUSIVE QUALITY was all out to defeat Klesaris/Velasquez runner DIABOLICAL by half a length.

Bob Baffert had a great month, winning five stakes races for three-year-olds. Todd Pletcher was the only other trainer to win more than one stakes races on the Derby trail this month.

Three jockeys won more than one stakes race for three-year-olds this month: Garrett Gomez (3), John Velazquez (2), and Ryan Fogelsanger (2).

— Thoroughbred Report Triple Crown Trail Awards – April 2006 —

HORSE OF THE MONTH: SINISTER MINISTER

TRAINER OF THE MONTH: Bob Baffert

JOCKEY OF THE MONTH: Garrett Gomez