Preakness

California Chrome Gallops, Heads to Pimlico; Bayern Works and Ria Antonia Confirmed for Preakness

Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) winner California Chrome completed the Churchill Downs portion of his training for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (GI) by galloping 1 ¼ miles early Monday morning with Willie Delgado aboard.

“Everything is perfect. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Alan Sherman, assistant to his father Art Sherman, of the colt’s stay in Louisville following his victory in the May 3 Run for the Roses. “He lost a little weight after the race, but put it all back on quickly.”

Owned by breeders Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome was led onto a van by Delgado at 10:17 a.m. (all time Eastern) and left Churchill Downs five minutes later for the ride to Lexington and a flight that would take him and three other Preakness hopefuls to Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course for the Triple Crown’s second jewel.

In other news concerning likely Preakness runners stabled at Churchill Downs, Kaleem Shah’s Bayern worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 and trainer Tom Amoss confirmed that Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s Ria Antonia would be entered Wednesday for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown and that Calvin Borel would have the mount.

Bayern and jockey Rosie Napravnik came on the track shortly after 6 o’clock. Starting about a length back on the outside of 5-year-old multiple graded-stakes winner Drill with Jorge Alvarez up, Bayern produced fractions of :13.60, :26.40, :38 .80 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.20.

The five-furlong move by the Bob Baffert trainee was the ninth fastest of 17 at the distance.

After a 7 o’clock call Monday morning with Ron Paolucci (Loooch Racing Stable), Amoss confirmed Ria Antonia would be entered in Saturday’s Preakness.

“She had a nice work yesterday (:47.60 for a half-mile with Borel up) and looks good today,” Amoss said. “We have a healthy, sound horse and we are ready to roll the dice.”

Ria Antonia finished sixth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 2 and joined the Amoss barn three days later.

“The idea (to run in the Preakness) was Ron’s,” said Amoss, who has trained a string of horses for Loooch for two years. “She passed all the tests with us physically, mentally and how she trained.

“I got to see her before the Oaks and she prepared well and worked well before the race. I don’t know what happened in the Oaks, but I like the way she looks now.”

Ria Antonia will become the first filly to run in the Preakness since Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Rachel’s rider that day was Borel.

“We wanted to get a rider that had the opportunity to work her and feel good about it,” Amoss said. “I know Calvin’s confidence is strong after the work.”

Borel has ridden in the Preakness two other times; 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, who finished second to Curlin, and 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, who finished eighth behind Lookin At Lucky.

Amoss knows it will be a challenge to knock off Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome on Saturday.

“We are looking forward to running,” said Amoss, whose Mylute finished third in last year’s Preakness behind Oxbow. “I see it as California Chrome versus the rest. If he runs his race, he’ll win. If it is not his day, it opens a number of possibilities and opportunities for the other runners, including us.”

Ria Antonia is scheduled to return to the track to jog Tuesday morning then gallop Wednesday morning before getting on an early afternoon flight to Baltimore from Louisville International Airport.

The other Preakness hopefuls at Churchill Downs are Daniel Dougherty’s Ride On Curlin and John Oxley’s Dynamic Impact.

Ride On Curlin galloped an easy 1 1/8 miles shortly after the track opened with Bryan Beccia aboard.

Seventh in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Ride On Curlin left Churchill Downs by van shortly after 10 a.m. for the trip to Lexington and a flight to Baltimore along with Derby winner California Chrome and Preakness hopefuls General a Rod and Pablo Del Monte.

Dynamic Impact walked the shedrow at Barn 36, a day after working five furlongs in 1:01.60 “He came out of the work fine and will go back to the track Tuesday,” said Norman Casse, assistant to his father Mark Casse.

'Bullet' Work for Preakness Hope Bayern; Rosario Gets Preakness Mount on Ride On Curlin

BAYERN WORKS BULLET TOWARD PREAKNESS -- Kaleem Shah’s Bayern, working in company with the two-time graded stakes-winning  filly Awesome Baby, drilled five furlongs in :58.20 over a fast Churchill Downs racing surface after Monday morning’s renovation break for a possible start in the May 17 Preakness Stakes (GI).

Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Rosie Napravnik, Bayern started two lengths behind and on the outside of Awesome Baby, who was ridden by Joe Rocco Jr. Bayern drew to within a length on the turn and finished three lengths in front in posting the fastest move of 19 at the distance for the morning. Fractions were  :23, :34.40 and a six-furlong gallop out in 1:13.40.

Bayern finished first in the Derby Trial (GIII) on April 26 at Churchill Downs but was disqualified and placed second behind Embellishing Bob for interference in the stretch.

ROSARIO SET FOR RIDE ON CURLIN IN PREAKNESS – Should Daniel Dougherty’s Ride On Curlin move on to the Preakness following his seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, it will be with a new rider.

Agent Ron Anderson confirmed by telephone that Joel Rosario would be aboard Ride On Curlin in the Preakness (GI), the second jewel of the Triple Crown that will be run at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, May 17.  Rosario piloted Orb to victory in the 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).

Trainer Billy Gowan was not happy with the ride Calvin Borel gave the colt in his seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

“I told him before the race that he had three-eighths of a mile to work his way over (from post 19),” Gowan said. “He (Ride On Curlin) was not tired at all after the Derby. He only ran three-eighths of a mile. He was more tired after his seven-eighths work last Sunday.”

Gowan said Ride On Curlin is doing well and would return to the track Wednesday.

Dougherty echoed his trainer’s thoughts.

“I walked back with him after the Arkansas Derby (G1) and he was tired,” Dougherty said of the runner-up effort. “He wasn’t tired Saturday.”

Even though his Derby dream was dashed, Dougherty was able to find one positive going forward with Ride On Curlin.

"It is only two weeks (to the Preakness) and you don’t want to leave it all out there on the track,” Dougherty said.

CALIFORNIA CHROME TO HEAD TO BALTIMORE NEXT MONDAY -- Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner California Chrome had an easy morning walking the shedrow Monday at Churchill Downs.

“Everything is good here,” said Alan Sherman, son of trainer Art Sherman. “He’ll go back to the track Wednesday to jog and then will gallop every day until we go to Maryland.”

Alan Sherman said California Chrome is scheduled to fly to Baltimore next Monday.

After training hours, Alan Sherman and exercise rider Willie Delgado went to the Kentucky Derby Museum to pass out roses from the Derby blanket to lucky Museum visitors.

Owned by breeders Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome will bring a five-race win streak to the Preakness, having won those races by a combined 26 ¼ lengths.

Orb also rode a five-race win streak into Pimlico last year, a streak that included a maiden and allowance win. California Chrome’s streak is comprised of all stakes victories.

The most recent Derby winner with a winning streak as long as California Chrome’s to extend it in the Preakness was Smarty Jones in 2004 when he hiked his undefeated run to eight.

BARN TALK -- West Point Thoroughbreds’ Commanding Curve, runner-up to California Chrome in Kentucky Derby 140, walked at trainer Dallas Stewart’s barn Monday morning.

West Point also is part of the ownership of Ring Weekend, trained by Graham Motion.

“I don’t know about any other horses; I’m just training my horse,” Stewart said. “My horse came out of the race good. But it’s tough coming back in two weeks and there are a lot of other races out there.” …

John Oxley’s Dynamic Impact galloped before the morning renovation break at Churchill Downs with exercise rider Marco Cano up for trainer Mark Casse.

Winner of the Illinois Derby (GIII) in his most recent start, Dynamic Impact worked  five furlongs in 1:00.20 on Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.

“He worked well the other morning and he trained great today,” Casse said.

Casse plans to fly Dynamic Impact to Pimlico this Wednesday and that Miguel Mena will retain the mount for the Preakness. …

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said that Robert Baker and William Mack’s Hopeful (G1) winner Strong Mandate will not run in the Preakness.  “He’s not going,” said Lukas, who won his sixth Preakness last May with Oxbow. “I am going to wait until Saratoga.” …

Jon Court, who sustained a broken hand in a spill in Saturday’s 13th race, was scheduled to see a doctor Monday to determine how long he would be sidelined, according to his agent Steve Krajcir. …

Trainer Steve Margolis said that Martin Cherry’s homebred Embellishing Bob, winner of the April 26 Derby Trial (GIII) via disqualification, is being pointed to the $500,000 Woody Stephens (GII) at seven furlongs on June 7 at Belmont Park.

Click here for a link to a PDF copy of the May 5, 2014 edition of Barn Notes.

Dance With Fate, Harry's Holiday Head 10 Late Nominations to Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown

The late nomination period for the classic races of the 2014 Triple Crown concluded late Saturday, March 22 with a total of 10 additional 3-year-old Thoroughbreds added to the roster of horses that are eligible to complete in the 2014 renewal of the prized three-race series.

The additions raised the overall nomination total for the Triple Crown races to 424 (pending late mail), which is the largest total since a record 460 horses were nominated in 2008. The 2014 total reflects an 11 percent increase from 2013 and is the eighth-highest since the common nominating process for the three races was established in 1986.

Late nominations of 3-year-olds by owners and trainers were due by 11:59 p.m. (all times Eastern) on Saturday, March 22 and payment of a $6,000 fee was required for each late nominee.

The Triple Crown series opens Saturday, May 3 with the 140th running of the 1 ¼-mile, $2 milllion-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The 139th running of the $1.5 million Preakness (GI), the 1 3/16-mile second jewel, is set for Saturday, May 17 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. The 146th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) the 1 ½-mile final leg, will be run on Saturday, June 7 at Belmont Park, in Elmont, N.Y.

The most accomplished of the late nominees based in North America are Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racing LLC/Peter Eurton’s  Dance With Fate, runner-up in the recent El Camino Real Derby (GIII) at Golden Gate Fields and in Grade I competition as a 2-year-old in the Front Runner at Santa Anita and the Del Mar Futurity, and  Skychai Racing LLC, Terry Raymond and Jana Wagner’s Harry’s Holiday, who ran a close second to We Miss Artie in Saturday’s Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral (GIII) at Turfway Park.

But the only graded stakes winner among the late Triple Crown nominees is Triple M. Racing Group LLC’s Tonito M., a son of Rock Hard Ten now trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer who raced previously in Puerto Rico.  Tonito M. won six of seven career starts at Camarero Race Park, including the Grade I Clasico Agustin Mercado Reveron Stakes in December and an 11 ½-length victory in the  Grade III George Washington Stakes on Feb. 16.

The complete roster of late nominations to the 2014 Triple Crown includes (with owner, trainer).

  • Big Tire (Halo Farms/Mark Glatt)
  • Charleymillionaire (Red Oak Stable/Gregory Sacco)
  • Dance With Fate (Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racing LLC/Peter Eurton)
  • Effinex (Tri-Bone Stable/David Smith)
  • Fabulous Kid (K.K. Jayaraman and V. Devi Jayaraman/William Martin)
  • Friends with K Mill (Neil Haymes, Dave Kenny and Wonderland Racing Stables/Doug O’ Neill)
  • Gaining Ground (Donald P. Ogden/Michael Wilson()
  • Harry’s Holiday (Skychai Racing LLC, Terry Raymond and Jana Wagner/ Mike Maker)
  • Tonito M. (Triple M. Racing Group LLC, Jerry Hollendorfer)
  • Twenty Percent (Neil Haymes, Dave Kenny and Wonderland Racing Stables/Doug O’ Neill)

The early nomination phase for the 2014 Triple Crown races concluded on Jan. 25 with an international cast of 414 horses made eligible for the three-race series, the highest early total since 401 horses were made early nominees in 2009.  Eleven horses were nominated during the 2009 late phase to bring the overall total to 412.

Thirteen horses were made eligible for the Triple Crown during the late nomination period in 2013, a total that lifted the year’s overall count to 382.

Three-year-olds that were not nominated to the Triple Crown during its early and late nomination phases will have a final opportunity to become eligible to compete in one or all of those races through the payment of a supplemental nomination fee. Due at the time of entry for either the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness or the Belmont Stakes, the supplemental fee process makes a horse eligible for the remainder of the Triple Crown series. A supplemental nomination at the time of entry to the Kentucky Derby requires payment of $200,000. The fee is $150,000 if paid prior to the Preakness or $75,000 at time of entry to the Belmont Stakes.

Churchill Downs adjusted its supplemental nomination process this year to allow nominations made prior to the Kentucky Derby to be treated the same as original nominees. If a supplemental nominee has collected sufficient points to qualify for the Derby field, that horse would be allowed to start over early or late nominees that possess lesser qualifications. Under its previous policy, Churchill Downs gave preference to original nominees to the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown over supplemental nominees.

The purses for the 2014 renewals of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes will be the richest in the history of the classic races. The Maryland Jockey Club and the New York Racing Association increased the purses for their respective Triple Crown races by $500,000. The boost to the Preakness purse is the first since an increase to $1 million-guaranteed in 1998, and the Belmont Stakes purse rose to the $1 million level that same year. The Kentucky Derby purse climbed to $1 million guaranteed in 1996, and Churchill Downs raised it to its current level in 2005.

The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975 and the horses that enter the starting gate for this year’s running will be determined by points earned in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” eligibility system, which debuted in 2013. If more than the maximum field of 20 horses is entered in the race, up to four “also eligible” entrants will be permitted. If one or more starters are scratched prior to 9 a.m. on Friday, May 2, the also-eligible horse or horses with the highest preference in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” system will be allowed to replace the scratched horse or horses in the starting gate.

The Preakness field is limited to 14 starters and the Belmont Stakes permits a maximum of 16 horses.

'Late Mail' Lifts Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown Early Nomination Roster to 414

The nomination of a 3-year-old Thoroughbred to the 2014 Triple Crown races received via “late mail” has lifted the overall total for early nominations to the coveted three-race series of American classics to 414.

Even Echo, a Kentucky-bred son of Street Hero owned and trained by Myung Kwon Cho, has been added to the roster of early nominations that was announced on Saturday, Feb. 7. The addition of Even Echo raised the number of early Triple Crown nominees produced in Kentucky to 303.

Also, trainer Todd Pletcher’s record total of early nominees has been reduced by one with a change of trainer for Rosedown Racing’s Bashart. The son of War Front, winner of the With Anticipation (Grade II) at Saratoga, is now trained by Christophe Clement.

The change dropped Pletcher’s individual total of nominees to 41 – still far above the previous record of 32 he established in 2012. The addition of Bashart raised Clement’s total of Triple Crown-eligible trainees to two.

Nominations to the 2014 Triple Crown opened Jan. 2 and closed on Jan. 25, and required payment of a $600 fee for each nominated horse. The 2014 late nomination period, which requires a payment $6,000 for each nominated 3-year-old, opened Sunday, Jan. 26 and continues through Saturday, March 22.

The 2014 Triple Crown series opens on Saturday, May 3 with the 140th running of the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The 139th Preakness, the 1 3/16-mile second jewel, is set for Saturday, May 17 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. The 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, its 1 ½-mile final leg, is scheduled for Saturday, June 7 at Belmont Park, in Elmont, N.Y.

Information on the Triple Crown nomination process and nominations forms are available online at www.TheTripleCrown.com

Record Pletcher Army, Unbeaten Champ Shared Belief Top 413 Early Nominations to 2014 Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown

A record-shattering army of 42 talented and promising young stars from the stable of six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher and 2-year-old stars of 2013 headed by unbeaten champion Shared Belief and stakes winners Honor Code and Cairo Prince top a roster of 413 3-year-old Thoroughbreds – an 11.9% increase from last year – that are early nominees to compete in the 2014 Triple Crown, the coveted series of American classic races that includes the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), the $1.5 million-guaranteed Preakness (GI) and the $1.5 million-guaranteed Belmont Stakes (GI).

The 413 total is the highest since 2009, when 401 horses were made eligible for the three-race series during the early nomination phase. Eleven horses were nominated during the late phase that year to bring the overall total to 412.

The 2013 Triple Crown series attracted 369 early nominations. Thirteen horses were added during the late nomination phase, which brought total Triple Crown nominations for 2013 to 382.

Nominations to the 2014 Triple Crown opened Jan. 2 and closed on Jan. 25, and required payment of a $600 fee for each nominated horse. The 2014 late nomination period, which requires a payment $6,000 for each nominated 3-year-old, opened Sunday, Jan. 26 and continues through Saturday, March 22.

The 2014 Triple Crown series opens on Saturday, May 3 with the 140th running of the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The 139th Preakness, the 1 3/16-mile second jewel, is set for Saturday, May 17 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. The 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, its 1 ½-mile final leg, is scheduled for Saturday, June 7 at Belmont Park, in Elmont, N.Y.

The number of horses made eligible for the Triple Crown by Pletcher, who has three Triple Crown victories to his credit, comprises 10.2% of the overall early nomination total. It is easily the highest total for an individual trainer since host tracks Churchill Downs, Pimlico Race Course and Belmont Park adopted a joint nominating process in 1986. Pletcher set the previous record for nominations by a trainer when he made 32 horses Triple Crown-eligible in 2012.

Most prominent among the Pletcher nominees are Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Havana, a gray/roan son of Dunkirk who won the Champagne (GI) at Belmont Park and experienced his only setback in three races in a runner-up finish to the now-retired New Year’s Day in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) at Santa Anita; Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s We Miss Artie, winner of the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland; and a collection of promising recent winners that includes WinStar Farm’s Commissioner, WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing’s Constitution, Alto Racing’s Anchor Down, Let’s Go Stable’s Harpoon, Stonestreet Stable’s Hartford and Magnier, Tabor and Smith’s Matterhorn.

Pletcher also nominated a pair of stakes-winning fillies to the Triple Crown in Repole Stable’s Stopchargingmaria, winner of Aqueduct’s Demoiselle (GII), and Glencrest Farm’s unbeaten Onlyforyou, who took Gulfstream Park’s Forward Gal (GII) on Jan. 25.

Outside of the swarm of Pletcher trainees, the early nominations to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes are highlighted by the presence of Jungle Racing LLC, KMN Racing LLC, Jerry Hollendorfer, Jason Litt, Alex Solis II and George Todaro’s unbeaten Shared Belief, the Hollendorfer-trained Eclipse Award champion 2-year-old of 2013 and winner of the CashCall Futurity (GI); Harvey Clark, Craig Robertson, Paul Braverman III and Namcook Stable’s Cairo Prince, a dazzling winner of the Grade II Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in his first start of 2014 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin; Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm LLC’s Honor Code, winner of the Remsen (GII) at Aqueduct; and William S. Farish and E. J. Hudson Jr.’s Top Billing, a son of 2007 Preakness winner and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and an impressive winner of a Jan. 25 allowance race at Gulfstream Park. Honor Code and Top Billing are trained by Hall of Famer Shug McCaughey, who earned his first Kentucky Derby victory in 2013 with Phipps Stable and Stuart Janney III’s homebred Orb and won the 1989 Belmont Stakes with Ogden PhippsEasy Goer.

Other current stars of the 3-year-old crop nominated to this spring’s Triple Crown include Robert Baker and William Mack’s Strong Mandate, winner of the Hopeful (GI) at Saratoga for 78-year-old Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, whose victory in the 2013 Preakness with Calumet Farm’s Oxbow was his record 14th triumph in a Triple Crown contest; Bond Holder, winner of the Front Runner (GI) at Santa Anita for Reddam Racing LLC and Doug O’Neill, the owner and trainer team who won the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness with I’ll Have Another; Mr. and Mrs. Larry WilliamsTamarando, the Hollendorfer-trained winner of the Del Mar Futurity (GI); Ron Winchell’s Tapiture, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII) for trainer Steve Asmussen; Conquest Stable LLC’s Holy Bull runner-up Conquest Titan; Treadway Racing Stable’s Noble Moon, winner of the recent Jerome (GII) at Aqueduct; Team D’s In Trouble, winner of the Belmont Futurity (GII); and a trio of stakes winners owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who recently earned Eclipse Awards that honor the Nicholasville, Ky. couple as America’s top owners and breeders of 2013. Those stars – who are among eight Ramsey-owned nominees – are the Chad Brown-trained Bobby’s Kitten, third to Outstrip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI) at Santa Anita and winner of the Pilgrim (GIII) over the Belmont Park grass; Vicar’s in Trouble, winner of the  Lecomte (GIII) at Fair Grounds for trainer Mike Maker; and We Miss Artie, the Pletcher-trained winner of the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (GI) over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland Race Course.

Along with the pair of stakes-winning fillies nominated by Pletcher, the roster of Triple Crown nominees includes 12 other females. Most prominent among that group are Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing’s Ria Antonia, winner by disqualification of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Santa Anita for trainer Jeremiah Englehart; Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings’ unbeaten Streaming, the Bob Baffert-trained winner of the Hollywood Starlet (GI); and Charles Fipke’s Unbridled Forever, winner of the Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds for trainer Dallas Stewart, who saddled Fipke’s Golden Soul to a runner-up finish to Orb in the 2013 Kentucky Derby. The most recent females to win the respective Triple Crown races were Winning Colors (1988 Kentucky Derby), Rachel Alexandra (2009 Preakness) and Rags to Riches (2007 Belmont Stakes).

As usual, the American Triple Crown series attracted nominations for horses based beyond U.S. borders, headed by four from the barn of Irish training champion Aidan O’Brien. His group, all owned by Magnier, Tabor and Smith, includes Giovanni Boldini, who already has experience on American shores after finishing as the close runner-up to Outstrip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf; Oklahoma City, a British-bred son of Oasis Dream who finished second in Newmarket’s Autumn Stakes (GIII) behind Kingston Hill, who won the Racing Post Trophy (GI) in his next start; and Michaelmas, a son of Elusive Quality and a $525,000 weanling purchase at the 2011 Keeneland November Sale  who was runner-up in last fall’s Killavullan (GIII) at Ireland’s Leopardstown.

Of the 399 male nominees to the 2014 classics, 359 are colts, 30 are geldings and 10 are listed as ridglings.

While Pletcher was the runaway leader in Triple Crown nominations by a single trainer, he was followed in that category by Bob Baffert (18 nominations), Steve Asmussen (13) and Lukas (12). Pletcher’s Palace Malice won last year’s Belmont Stakes to raise his Triple Crown win total to three following wins by Super Saver in the 2010 Kentucky Derby and the filly Rags to Riches in the 2007 Belmont.

Leading owners, either alone or in partnership, were Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, who shared ownership of 13 nominees. Their regular partner Derrick Smith owns 12 of the nominated horses, and was followed by Stonestreet Stables LLC with nine nominees.

WinStar Farm LLC, owner of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer, led all breeders with nine nominees, either alone or in partnerships. The Estate of Edward Evans was next with eight, followed by Darley’s seven nominees and six each for Brereton C. Jones and Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC.

Of the 413 nominated 3-year-olds, 388 were bred in the United States and Kentucky was the state of breeding for 302 of those horses. Florida produced 29 nominees, and was followed by Virginia (13), New York (12) and Pennsylvania (10). Canada produced 12 of the 15 horses bred in international locals. Nine were bred in Ireland.

Bernardini, winner of the 2006 Preakness, and Tapit each sired 16 nominees to rank as leading sires among early Triple Crown nominees. Distorted Humor, Giant’s Causeway and Unbridled’s Song tied at 10.

The purses for the 2014 renewals of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes will be the richest in history. The Maryland Jockey Club and the New York Racing Association increased the purses for their respective Triple Crown races by $500,000. The boost to the Preakness purse is the first since an increase to $1 million-guaranteed in 1998, and the Belmont Stakes purse rose to the $1 million level that same year. The Kentucky Derby purse climbed to $1 million guaranteed in 1996, and Churchill Downs raised it to its current level in 2005.

The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975 and the horses that enter the starting gate for this year’s running will be determined by points earned in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” eligibility system, which debuted in 2013. If more than the maximum field of 20 horses is entered in the race, up to four “also eligible” entrants will be permitted. If one or more starters are scratched prior to 9 a.m. (Eastern) on Friday, May 2, also-eligible horse with the highest preference in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” system will be allowed to replace the scratched horse or horses in the starting gate.

The Preakness field is limited to 14 starters and the Belmont Stakes allows a maximum of 16 horses.

Three-year-olds that are not nominated for the Triple Crown during its early or late nomination phases have a final opportunity to become eligible to compete in one or all of the races through the payment of a supplemental nomination fee. Due at the time of entry for either the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness or the Belmont Stakes, the supplemental fee process makes a horse eligible for the remainder of the Triple Crown series. A supplemental nomination at the time of entry to the Kentucky Derby requires payment of $200,000. The fee is $150,000 if paid prior to the Preakness or $75,000 at time of entry to the Belmont Stakes.

Churchill Downs adjusted its supplemental nomination process this year to allow those nominations made prior to the Kentucky Derby to be treated the same as original nominees. If a supplemental nominee has collected sufficient points to qualify for the Derby field, that horse would be allowed to start over original nominees that possess lesser qualifications. Under its previous policy, Churchill Downs gave preference to original nominees to the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown over supplemental nominees.

A sweep of the three Triple Crown races – one of the most difficult feats in all of sports – has been accomplished on only 11 occasions.  The roster of Triple Crown winners includes Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978).

The 36-year gap since the most recent Triple Crown sweep by Affirmed in 1978 is the longest in the history of the series. The previous record was the 25-year span between the 1948 Triple Crown earned by Citation and Secretariat’s record-shattering three-race sweep in 1973.

The Triple Crown races produced three separate winners in 2013. Phipps Stable and Stuart Janney III’s Orb won the Kentucky Derby, Calumet Farm’s Oxbow earned the victory in the Preakness and Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice took the Belmont Stakes.

A total of 51 3-year-olds have won two of the Triple Crown’s three races. Reddam Racing’s I’ll Have Another became the most recent to do so when he won the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but did not compete in the Belmont Stakes.

 Click here for a complete list of the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown nominations.

Triple Crown, Kentucky Derby Nomination Process Open; 'Early' Deadline is Jan. 25

Early nominations are now being accepted from owners and trainers of 3-year-old Thoroughbreds who hope their young horses have the talent to the compete in the 2014 Triple Crown, the coveted series of American classic races that includes the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), the $1.5 million-guaranteed Preakness (GI) and the $1.5 million-guaranteed Belmont Stakes (GI).

Early Triple Crown nominations opened Jan. 2 and the deadline for acceptance of early nominees is Saturday, Jan. 25 at 11:59 p.m. (all times Eastern). The nomination of each horse must be accompanied by a fee of $600 to make that individual eligible to compete in the three-race series. 

A late nomination period, which requires the payment of a $6,000 for each nominated 3-year-old, will open at 12 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26 and runs through Saturday, March 22.

The 2013 Triple Crown series opens on Saturday, May 3 with the 140th running of the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The 139th Preakness, the 1 3/16-mile second jewel, is set for Saturday, May 17 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. The 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, its 1 ½-mile final leg, is scheduled for Saturday, June 7 at Belmont Park, in Elmont, N.Y.

The purses for the 2014 renewals of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes will be the richest in history.  The Maryland Jockey Club and the New York Racing Association increased the purses for their respective Triple Crown races by $500,000. The boost to the Preakness purse is the first since an increase to $1 million-guaranteed in 1998, and the Belmont Stakes purse rose to the $1 million level that same year.

The Kentucky Derby purse climbed to $1 million guaranteed in 1996, and Churchill Downs raised it to its current $2 million level in 2005.

All Triple Crown nominations made by traditional mail during the early phase must be postmarked by the Jan. 25 closing date. Nominations also can be made online at www.TheTripleCrown.com, or via telephone with a designated representative from one of the three Triple Crown host tracks. Online and telephone nominations must be made prior to the 11:59 p.m. deadline on Jan. 25.

The 2013 Triple Crown series attracted 369 early nominations. Thirteen horses were added during the late nomination phase, which brought total Triple Crown nominations for 2013 to 382.

The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975 and the horses that enter the starting gate for this year’s running will be determined by points earned in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” eligibility system, which debuted in 2013. If more than the maximum field of 20 horses is entered in the race, up to four “also eligible” entrants will be permitted. If one or more starters are scratched prior to 9 a.m. (Eastern) on Friday, May 2, also-eligible horse with the highest preference in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” system will be allowed to replace the scratched horse or horses in the starting gate.

The field for the Preakness is limited to 14 starters, while the Belmont Stakes permits a maximum field of 16 horses.

Three-year-olds that were not nominated for the Triple Crown series during either the early or late nomination phases have a final opportunity to become eligible for the races through the payment of a supplemental nomination fee. Due at the time of entry for either the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness or the Belmont Stakes, the supplemental fee process makes a horse eligible for the remainder of the Triple Crown series. A supplemental nomination at the time of entry to the Kentucky Derby requires payment of $200,000. The fee is $150,000 if paid prior to the Preakness or $75,000 at time of entry to the Belmont Stakes.

Churchill Downs has adjusted its process, and supplemental nominations made prior to the Kentucky Derby will now be treated the same as original nominees. If one or more supplemental nominees possess sufficient points to qualify for the Derby field, they would be allowed to start over original nominees with lesser qualifications. Under its previous policy, Churchill Downs gave preference to original nominees to the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown over supplemental nominees.

A sweep of the three Triple Crown races – one of the most difficult feats in all of sports – has been accomplished on only 11 occasions.  The roster of Triple Crown winners includes Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978).

The 36-year gap since the most recent Triple Crown sweep by Affirmed in 1978 is the longest in the history of the series. The previous record was the 25-year span between the 1948 Triple Crown earned by Citation and Secretariat’s record-shattering three-race sweep in 1973.

The Triple Crown races produced three separate winners in 2013. Phipps Stable and Stuart Janney III’s Orb won the Kentucky Derby, Calumet Farm’s Oxbow earned the victory in the Preakness and Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice took the Belmont Stakes.

A total of 51 3-year-olds have won two of the Triple Crown’s three races. Reddam Racing’s I’ll Have Another became the most recent to do so when he won the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but did not compete in the Belmont Stakes.

Representatives of the Triple Crown host tracks include:

  • Churchill Downs: Racing Secretary Ben Huffman at (502) 638-3820 or Ben.Huffman@KyDerby.comKelly Danner at (502) 638-3825 or Kelly.Danner@KyDerby.comFax: (502) 638-3915;
  • Pimlico: Director of Racing/Racing Secretary Georganne Hale at (800) 638-1859 or ghale@marylandracing.com  … Stakes Coordinator Coleman Blind at same number or cblind@marylandracing;
  • Belmont Park: Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin Panza at (718) 659-4241 or mpanza@nyrainc.com … Stakes Coordinator Andrew Byrnes at same number or abyrnes@nyrainc.com …   Fax: (718) 659-3581.

Representatives seeking nominations at various U.S. tracks prior to Jan. 25 include Churchill Downs’ Huffman and Dan Bork and Pimlico’s Blind at Gulfstream Park; Byrnes at Aqueduct; NYRA’s Panza and Santa Anita Racing Secretary Rick Hammerle at Santa Anita; Sandy Montgomery at Oaklawn Park; Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Alison DeLuca at Tampa Bay Downs; Racing Secretary Jason Boulet at Fair Grounds and Assistant Racing Secretary Tia Murphy at Turfway Park.

Citizen Cope, Derby Winner's Poster, Preakness,Family Fun Days Top Churchill Downs Weekend

Churchill Downs joins racing fans in celebrating the bid by I’ll Have Another, winner of the 138th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, bid to win the Preakness Stakes with an action-packed weekend of excitement headed by Saturday’s simulcast of the second jewel of the Triple Crown and a giveaway of a commemorative print of the Derby 138 winner Presented by GE.

The colorful 18” x 24” print contains an inside-rail view of I’ll Have Another and jockey Mario Gutierrez as they crossed the finish line in their historic victory in America’s greatest races on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.  The image of I’ll Have Another is against a backdrop of Kentucky Derby icons that include the Twin Spires, the Derby Winner’s Circle; the solid gold winner’s trophy, and a Derby rose.

The first 5,000 fans through the admission gates on Saturday, May 19 will receive a voucher that entitles them to one Derby winner print. The vouchers can be exchanged for the Kentucky Derby commemorative print following Saturday’s fourth race at a redemption center located on the first floor of the Clubhouse at the Skye Terrace elevators, near the Longfield Ave./Gate 10 entrance.

Saturday’s Churchill Downs racing program, which includes 11 live races and the simulcast of the Preakness, has a post time of 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern).  Post time for the simulcast of the 137th running of the Preakness from Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course is scheduled for 6:18 p.m.

Preakness Weekend at Churchill Downs kicks off with Friday’s Twilight Racing program that concludes with a performance by Citizen Cope in the second installment of the 2012 Paddock Concert Series.  Citizen Cope is scheduled to take to the Paddock Stage with his unique blend of hip-hop, rock, blues and soul.  He has released four critically acclaimed albums and a new collection, “One Lovely Day,” is set for release in July.  The Memphis, Tenn. native launched his career in Washington, DC, where the Washington Post praised him as the city’s “most soulful export since Marvin Gaye.”

The first 850 people in attendance for the Citizen Cope (www.CitizenCope.com) concert will be allowed free access to the paddock to watch the concert up close in a VIP viewing area.  Outside of the paddock there is ample space to enjoy the concert from the Paddock Garden and balcony areas.

Admission to the Paddock Concert Series performance by Citizen Cope is free with the $3 general admission to Churchill Downs before 7 p.m.  Admission to the concert is $10 after 7 p.m and gates 10 and 17 will be open for late admissions.

Admission gates will open for Friday’s Twilight Racing program at 1:30 p.m. and post time for the first race will be 2:45 p.m. Happy Hour drink specials in the paddock garden area include a $3 Stella Artois Draft Beer (16 oz.) from 4-7 p.m.

The Churchill Downs racing program on Sunday, May 20 will be accompanied Family Fun Days activities Presented by Kroger.  Family Fun Days promise a very special day for the entire family, with attractions that include HorseRacing Bingo, Junior Jockey Club activities; story time; a walking tour of the Kentucky Derby Museum to visit with Winston, its resident miniature horse; visits with Churchill Charlie and more.  More information is available at www.ChurchillDowns.com.

Family Fun Days activities are scheduled from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Paddock Pavilion on Sundays throughout the meet.

Post time for Sunday racing at Churchill Downs is 12:45 p.m.  Admission gates open at 11:30 a.m.

Seating for Preakness Weekend events and tickets for Churchill Downs racing and special events throughout the Spring Meet can be purchased through the track’s online box office at www.ChurchillDowns.com/tickets or by calling (502) 636-4400.  Tickets can also be purchased at Churchill Downs’ on-track box office, located at Gate 1 off Central Avenue. The on-track box office is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the exception of Friday hours of noon to 6 p.m.  The box office will be open on “Downs After Dark” night racing Saturdays on June 2, 16 and 30 from noon to 9 p.m. 

Addition of Cyber Secret Lifts Triple Crown Nominee Total to 398

The roster of 3-year-old Thoroughbreds nominated to compete in the classic races of the American Triple Crown has grown by one with the addition of Charles J Cella’s Cyber Secret, who was omitted from the initial roster of 397 early nominations because of a clerical error.

This year’s 398th nominee is a Kentucky-bred son of Broken Vow trained by Lynn Whiting, who scored his only victory in a Triple Crown race with W.C. Partee’s Lil E. Tee in the 1992 Kentucky Derby (Grade I).  Cyber Secret collected his second win in four career starts in a 5 ¼-length victory in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 4.  He started his career with trainer Chad Brown, but was transferred to Whiting when the colt was purchased privately by Cella after a seventh-place run behind WinStar Farm’s unbeaten Triple Crown nominee Gemologist in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII) on Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs.

Officials at Churchill Downs said information on Cyber Secret was not added to the list of early nominees after a Triple Crown representative took the nomination at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. prior to the close of the early nominations for the three-race series.  Stewards at the Louisville track approved the addition of the colt’s name to the list of early nominees, which was released to the public on Saturday, Feb. 4.

This year’s early nomination period, during which each nomination was accompanied by a $600 fee, closed on Saturday, Jan. 21. A late period for nominations – which requires each nomination to be accompanied by a $6,000 fee – will conclude on Saturday, March 24.

The 2012 Triple Crown series begins on Saturday, May 5 with the $2 million-guaranteed 138th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.  The second jewel of the Triple Crown is the 137th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (GI), which will be run on Saturday, May 19, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.  The American classic series concludes with the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes (GI) on Saturday, June 9 at New York’s Belmont Park.

All three Triple Crown races will be televised by NBC Sports and are scheduled to be broadcast on radio by the Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN).

The new early nomination total for the 2012 Triple Crown races is a 9.3 percent increase over the 364 early nominees for the three-race classic series a year ago.  The roster of 2012 early Triple Crown nominees is the largest since 2009, when 412 3-year-olds were made eligible during the early period.

Brisnet is providing free online past performances of all the 2012 Triple Crown nominees in PDF format at http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/TC12noms.pdf.                                 


397 Nominees to Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown

Champion 2-year-old Hansen and Union Rags, separated by a head in a thrilling 1-2 finish in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade I), and unbeaten Algorithms, who stepped into the spotlight with a five-length win over the champion in the Holy Bull (GIII) at Gulfstream Park, top a large roster of 397 horses made eligible during the early nomination phase to compete in the three classic races that make up American horse racing’s elusive Triple Crown.

The first race in the series of classic races for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds – the $2 million-guaranteed 138th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) – is set for Saturday, May 5, at world-famous Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.   The second jewel of the Triple Crown is the 137th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (GI), which will be run on Saturday, May 19, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.  The American classic series concludes with the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes (GI) on Saturday, June 11 at New York’s Belmont Park.

All three Triple Crown races will be televised by NBC Sports and are scheduled to be broadcast on radio by the Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN).

The nomination total for the 2012 Triple Crown races is a 9.1 percent increase over the 364 early nominees for the three-race classic series a year ago.  The roster of 2012 early Triple Crown nominees is the largest since 2009, when 412 3-year-olds were made eligible during the early period.  This year’s early nomination period, during which each nomination was accompanied by a $600 fee, closed on Saturday, Jan. 21. A late period for nominations – during which each nomination must be accompanied by a $6,000 fee – will conclude on Saturday, March 24.

Hansen, owned by Dr. Kendall Hansen and the Sky Chai Racing partnership, completed a perfect three-race campaign with his narrow front-running victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.  Along with a 13 ¼-length victory in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile over synthetic Polytrack at Turfway Park, that victory earned Hansen the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old of 2011.  Maker’s colt suffered the first setback of his young career in his runner-up finish in the one-mile Holy Bull on Jan. 29, his first start of his 3-year-old season.

Union Rags, a son of Dixie Union owned by Chadds Ford Stable, suffered his only setback in four races in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  The bay son of Dixie Union is trained by Michael Matz, who saddled Barbaro to win the 2006 Kentucky Derby, and scored stakes wins in the Champagne (GI) and the Saratoga Special (GII).

Algorithms, owned the Starlight Racing partnership headed by managing partner Jack Wolf, burst onto the road to the Triple Crown with an impressive five-length victory over Hansen in the Holy Bull.  That race was the debut in stakes competition for the Todd Pletcher-trained son of 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini and his third in as many starts.  He has won his three races, including a maiden victory last June at Belmont Park and a pair of wins this year at Gulfstream Park.

Other winners of major stakes races on the list of early Triple Crown nominees include CashCall Futurity (GI) winner Liaison; Creative Cause, third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and winner of the Norfolk (GI) and Best Pal (GII); Hopeful (GI) winner Currency Swap; Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (GI) winner Dullahan; unbeaten Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) winner Gemologist; and Delta Jackpot (GIII) winner Sabercat.

Brisnet is providing free online past performances of all the 2012 Triple Crown nominees in PDF format at http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/TC12noms.pdf.

Of this year’s 397 nominations, 344 are colts and there are 37 geldings.  The list also includes 10 ridglings.

Horses bred in Kentucky again dominated the roster of Triple Crown nominees.  Of the 297 nominees, 303 were born in Kentucky.  Florida was next with 27 horses, followed by New York with 13 and California with 12.  Fourteen of the nominees were produced outside of the United States, a number that includes six horses bred in Ireland.

The list of nominees includes six fillies, and that group is headed by Anita Cauley’s On Fire Baby, winner of the Golden Rod (GII).  She ran third to Triple Crown nominee Junebugred when she faced males in Oaklawn Park’s Smarty Jones on Jan. 16.

Ahmed Zayat’s Zayat Stables LLC leads all owners with 13 nominees to the 2012 Triple Crown.  Robert LaPenta is next with 10 and Klaravich Stables Inc. has nine nominees, either on its own or in partnerships.

Five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who scored his first Kentucky Derby victory with Super Saver in 2010, led trainers for the third consecutive year with 32 Triple Crown nominees.  Pletcher was tied at 20 atop last year’s list with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who ranks second 21 nominated horses.  Steve Asmussen and Nick Zito are next with 15 nominees, and Dale Romans nominated 14.

There is a tie atop the roster of leading Triple Crown sires between two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Tiznow and Unbridled’s Song, each with 12 Triple Crown nominees.  Malibu Moon and Street Sense, the winner of the 2007 Kentucky Derby whose first crop of foals are 3-year-olds, share the next spot with 11 nominees.   War Front sired 10, with Hard Spun and Smart Strike next with nine.

The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975, and accumulated earnings in prestigious graded stakes races along the “Road to the Triple Crown” have determined the field for the 1 ¼-mile classic since 1986.  The field for the Preakness, the 1 3/16-mile second jewel of the Triple Crown, is limited to 14 starters, while Belmont Stakes, the “Test of the Champion” and finale of the series at 1 ½ miles, permits a maximum field of 16 horses.

A Triple Crown sweep – one of the most difficult feats in all of sports – has been accomplished on just 11 occasions: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1942), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978). Fifty other horses have finished one win shy of the honor.

The 2011 Triple Crown races yielded three different winning horses and the connections of each of the winners experienced their first victories in the coveted series.

Animal Kingdom, owned and bred by the Team Valor partnership headed by Barry Irwin, scored an emphatic victory in the Kentucky Derby to kick-off the 2011 Triple Crown.  The winner was trained by H. Graham Motion and was ridden by jockey John Velazquez, who picked up his winning mount the day before the race. Mike Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge’s Shackleford, fourth in the Kentucky Derby for trainer Dale Romans, held off the surging Animal Kingdom by a half-length at Pimlico to win the Preakness under jockey Jesus Castanon. The Belmont Stakes went to George and Lori Hall’s Ruler On Ice, a late nominee to the Triple Crown who had been excluded from the Kentucky Derby field because of insufficient earnings in graded stakes races.   The son of Roman Ruler won by a half-length under jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. and provided trainer Kelly Breen with his first success in a Triple Crown race.

The current 33-year streak without a Triple Crown winner is the longest in the history of the series.  The previous record was a 25-year gap between the Triple Crown earned by Citation in 1948 and Secretariat’s stunning sweep in 1973.

For a complete list of horses nominated to the Kentucky Derby and 2012 Triple Crown, click here.

For a look at leading trainers,  owners and breeders of 2012 Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown nominees and other statistical categories, click here.

Shackleford Back at Churchill Downs

Mike Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge’s homebred Shackleford returned to Churchill Downs just before 10:30 (Eastern) Sunday morning after returning from Baltimore and his half-length triumph in Saturday’s $1 million Preakness (Grade I), the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

            Returning with Shackleford to trainer Dale Romans’ Barn 4 was Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado, who won Pimlico’s Dixie Handicap (GII) in the race preceding the Preakness.

            “It was awesome. He ran a heck of a race,” Romans said by telephone from Baltimore.  The Louisville-born trainer, who earned his first Triple Crown victory, will spend the next three days in Maryland at the Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training sale at Timonium and will be back in Louisville on Wednesday afternoon.

            “A lot of the people in the barn watched it (the Preakness) back here,” said Baldemar Bahena, Romans’ Churchill Downs assistant. “I was watching it over on the other side because we had had a horse in the 10th race.”

            Shackleford was ridden by Jesus Castanon, who picked up his first Triple Crown victory and also the first for his agent, Dennis Cooper.

            “These three races are a lot different from the Dubai World Cup or even the Breeders’ Cup,” said Cooper, a jock’s agent for the past 25 years. “Those races are nice, but these races are the ones people talk about.”

            Cooper, who took out his trainer’s license in 1966 and trained for 19 years, had Mark Guidry’s book for 14 years, Rene Douglas for seven years and Shaun Bridgmohan for two years before hooking up with Castanon in September 2009.

            This winter at Gulfstream Park, Castanon and Shackleford hooked up for the first time and the result was a 2 ¼-length allowance victory and a partnership was formed.

“We got on him in Florida and they just clicked,” Cooper said. “Jesus has a lot of confidence in him.”

            In the Preakness, Shackleford stalked the pace set by Flashpoint before moving to the lead at the head of the lane.

            “When I saw him look to his right at the head of the stretch and he hadn’t pushed the button yet, I knew he had a lot of horse left,” Cooper said. “He was not worried at all about the horse on his left (Flashpoint). He knew he had him. There was only one horse (Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom) coming and Jesus said that as soon as Shackleford saw him, he was not going to let him by.”

READY’S ROCKET DOING WELL AFTER RECORD RUN – Veteran starter allowance star Ready’s Rocket entered the Churchill Downs record book on Saturday when he when he persevered at the end of a long stretch drive won the second race by a neck.

            It was the ninth victory in 23 starts on the main track beneath the Twin Spires for the 8-year-old son of More Than Ready.  The victory made Ready’s Rocket the first horse to win nine races at Churchill Downs since 1991, which is the first year detailed information was gathered by Equibase.      

            Trainer and co-owner Tim Glyshaw was happy with the way his gutsy gelding came out of the race.        “He’s not sore at all or anything,” Glyshaw said. “He came out of it really well.”

            Ready’s Rocket is likely to make another start during the Churchill Downs Spring Meet in June.

            “Nothing definite is picked out for him yet,” Glyshaw said. “We’ll take a look at the condition book and find something.”

Eight-time winners at Churchill Downs since 1991 and the years they raced here are Athenium (1991-94), two-time Aristides (GIII) winner Bet On Sunshine (1995-2002), Canela (2005-10), Crown Lease (1991-95), Lord Rusty (1993-2000) and Maxxed (1995-98). 

            It is possible that prior to 1991 when detailed records were not maintained that other horses could have reached or exceeded that plateau. One such example is Herreno, who was trained by Phil Thomas. Herreno won nine races from 40 starts from 1982-85 at Churchill Downs at distances ranging from six furlongs to a mile and eighth.

 

MUSKETIER ASSIGNED TOP WEIGHT FOR LOUISVILLE HANDICAP – Multiple graded stakes-winning 9-year-old Musketier (GER) has been assigned the high weight of 122 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman for Saturday’s 74th running of the $100,000-added Louisville Handicap (GIII). Owned by Stella Perdomo and trained by Roger Attfield, Musketier was victorious in the Elkhorn (GII) at the Louisville Handicap distance of 1 ½ miles in his most recent start.

The next high weights are Will Farish Jr.’s Pool Play (119) and Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Grassy (118).

Weighted at 117 pounds and a probable starter in the race is Keertana, third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) over the Matt Winn Turf Course last fall and winner of the Bewitch (GIII) at Keeneland in her most recent start. Owned and bred by Barbara Hunter, the 5-year-old daughter of Johar has compiled a record of 25-10-5-6 with earnings of $914,371.  

Others considered probable by Churchill Downs officials and their weights are Bearpath (116), Memorial Maniac (116), Dark Cove (114) and defending Louisville Handicap winner Free Fighter (113). Grade I winner Stately Victor is a possible starter for the race. 

Entries for the Louisville Handicap will be taken Wednesday.

WINNING COLORS FIELD COMING TOGETHER – The field for the eighth running of the $100,000-added Winning Colors (GIII) is beginning to take shape. The six-furlong event for fillies and mares will be contested over the main track on Memorial Day, May 30.

Considered as probable starters by Churchill Downs officials and their trainers are Beat the Blues (Bret Calhoun), Indian Ink (Mike Rone), Jocata (Cecil Borel), My New Lady (Robert Hackworth Jr.), Stephanie Got Even (Marty Wolfson) and Wind Caper (Ronan Cunningham). Listed as possible for the race are Bell’s Shoes (Jinks Fires) and Fortune Play (John Booker Jr.). 

Dubai Majesty won the Winning Colors last year and then returned to Churchill Downs in November to win the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI).

BARN TALK – Jockey Fabio Arguello Jr. captured his 236th Churchill Downs victory in the 11th race on Saturday aboard 44-1 longshot Bk’s Clearanceisle. The win gave Arguello, who is ranked 23rd in career Churchill Downs wins, his first victory under the Twin Spires since crossing the wire first aboard Senorita’s Secrets on Nov. 18, 2009.  Arguello’s biggest victory at Churchill Downs came aboard Philip Maas’ Luv Me Luv Me Not in the 1992 Kentucky Oaks. …

Double R Stable’s Deborah’s Moment, a half-sister to last week’s impressive 2-year old debut winner Sum of the Parts, broke her maiden in the opener at Churchill Downs on Saturday afternoon. Trained by Dallas Stewart, the 3-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid was guided to victory by Brian Hernandez Jr.  

 

WORK TAB – Wertheimer and Frere’s Exhi, winner of the Ben Ali (GIII) at Keeneland last month in his 2011 debut, worked a half-mile early Sunday morning over a track labeled as “good” in :48.20 for trainer Todd Pletcher.