In the Money

Horse racing insight that's loose on the lead

Rachel Alexandra doing “better than expected” in recovery

February 28th, 2013

Rachel Alexandra continues to hand walk and graze several times a day

Stonestreet Farms press release

Veterinarians at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, KY remain pleased with Rachel Alexandra’s progress following abdominal surgery resulting from foaling complications in mid-February.

Dr. Brett Woodie, who performed the surgery, calls her recovery “better than expected.”

As updated over the weekend, Rachel’s appetite was good enough that she was taken off IV fluids and nutrition on Saturday. She continues to hand walk and graze several times a day and her vitals are normal and her trademark spirit has returned, including a nip here and there.

Rachel Alexandra and Rood & Riddle’s Brent Comer were undeterred by a pop-up shower of sleet during her scheduled afternoon walk on Wednesday, February 27th.

Dr. Bonnie Barr often credits her progress to the champion mare’s strong will and intelligence, noting that Rachel “let’s us take care of her”. For much of her day, that is Medicine Technician Brent Comer, who grooms and keeps Rachel company each day. The two have become fast friends, with Brent providing ear massages and a full buffet of treats.

We continue to hope for steady, uneventful, daily progress. Please look for the next update one week from today, on March 7th, unless a change in her condition occurs.

Rising star Rydilluc gets tough test in Palm Beach

February 28th, 2013

Chraming Kitten, Dewey Square among field of 11 in turf test

By J.J. Hysell

Gary Contessa’s Rydilluc has dominated in two straight races since moving from dirt to turf. The son of Medaglia d’Oro shows the qualities of a rising star, and he’ll get his chance to prove it in Sunday’s Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

This will be the toughest test yet for Rydilluc, who is jumping from an allowance win to stakes company. With Edgar Prado aboard, he’ll face ten foes, including Kentucky Derby hopeful Dewey Square making his grass debut and the talented Charming Kitten.

Charming Kitten, trained by Todd Pletcher, appears to be right in his element with longer distances. He was a late-rallying second in the one-mile Dania Beach and followed up with a win over a decent field in the Kitten’s Joy at 1 1/16-miles. He has raced exclusively on turf and synthetic, but pedigree indicates he’d do well on dirt as well if offered the opportunity in the future. John Velazquez gets the call.

When asked if Charming Kitten could be considered for a Kentucky Derby prep next, owner Ken Ramsey replied, “We considered trying to go to the Derby with Kitten’s Joy. Jerry Bailey was riding him early that year and he said ‘He just doesn’t have the same kick on dirt,’ and recommended keeping him on turf. It turned out to be good advice.

“The Derby is very much on by bucket list and we’ll see how he does in the race Sunday and discuss the possibilities with Todd. We’ll do what’s right for the horse.”

Dewey Square

Dewey Square

Trainer Dale Romans is taking a different approach with Dewey Square. The son of Bernardini performed well at Churchill Downs, but never looked comfortable in his seventh-place finish in the Holy Bull. Romans indicated the colt could go to the Blue Grass Stakes after this race and currently remains on the Derby trail. Javier Castellano will guide him from post 4.

Dewey Square is one of three entries for Romans, who also sends out Squall King and Summit County.

Graham Motion’s Holiday Star defeated the much-heralded Bold Dance, a half-brother of Saint Liam, in his last outing at 1 1/8-miles and has won two straight on turf. The son of Harlan’s Holiday will break from post 10 with Joe Rocco, Jr.





Rematch off as Mucho Macho Man is sick

February 28th, 2013

Virus knocks him out of Gulfstream Park Handicap

By J.J. Hysell

There will be no rematch between the top two finishers of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Mucho Macho Man, second to Fort Larned in that race, will miss the Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 9 due to a mild virus.

Fort Larned is being pointed to that race and remains on track for the one-mile test.

It’s the second setback this season for the son of Macho Uno. He was pulled up in his 2013 debut in the Sunshine Millions Classic, and trainer Kathy Ritvo attributed the performance to the sloppy track.

Outside post shouldn’t deter Overanalyze in Gotham Stakes

February 28th, 2013

Favorite could be in favorable spot

By J.J. Hysell

Saturday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham Stakes took an interesting turn when Overanalyze drew the far outside post in a 12-horse field.

It’s not as bad as it sounds, however, for Repole Stables and Todd Pletcher’s son of Dixie Union, who is 5-2 on the morning line.



Last year’s Gotham winner Hansen broke from post 12. He was hustled into a stalking position by Ramon Dominguez and took the lead in the stretch en route to a three-length win.

From his spot on the outside, jockey John Velazquez can see how the pace is developing and adjust appropriately. In addition, Overanalyze has proven he can respond to adversity. He was bumped hard and left last at the start of the six-furlong futurity stakes at Belmont and still rallied to win.

Overanalyze also showed grit when he battled a late-charging Normandy Invasion in the Remsen and emerged victorious.

“I think he had an incredible 2-year-old campaign,” said owner Mike Repole, whose Stay Thirsty won the 2011 Gotham. “Overanalyze’s two graded stakes wins were very, very impressive. He showed courage and a big heart in coming back to win the Remsen, and those are things you can’t measure.

“He’s training really good. Todd told me he’s ready. He’s definitely moved up from two to three, and we’ll find out Saturday where he is. It’s been four months and we’re excited about getting him here.”

One of the top challengers should be Vyjack, a son of Into Mischief who is undefeated in three starts. Vyjack, trained by Rudy Rodriguez with new jockey Joel Rosario, drew post 8 and shares the high weight of 123 with Overanalyze.

“He’s got a lot of talent,” Rodriguez said. “But the competition is going to get tougher, and he’s going to have to keep stepping up.”

Sky Captain (8-1), who scratched from the Fountain of Youth because of an outside post, drew post 10 for the Gotham. The Mark Casse trainee was second to Cerro in an allowance race at 1 1/8-miles at Gulfstream Park in his last start.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin entered three in the 1 1/16-mile race, but said one could run in an allowance on Sunday: Elnaawi (8-1) is a half-brother of To Honor and Serve who will run on Lasix for the first time, Transparent (8-1) and Now and Then (8-1).

“What we were thinking about is they all have talent,” said McLaughlin. “They’re all colts who we think can be graded stakes winners. Elnaawi won easily last time out. It’s a big step up, but we think he’s a nice horse. It would be nice to get points and have a chance to run in the Derby. With the other two, we’re not sure what we’re going to do, but, bottom line, they’re all talented colts with a future.”

Escapefromreality (6-1) was second to Revolutionary in the Withers.

“I definitely think he’s going to improve,” said owner Anthony J. Bonomo, who campaigns Escapefromreality with his wife, Mary Ellen, under the MeB Racing Stables banner. “That was his first time going two turns. It was a shame he got caught at the wire, but since that race he’s just been getting better and better, training-wise.”

Completing the field are: Champion Boy (30-1), Ore Pass (12-1), Amerigo Vespucci (20-1), Siete de Oros (15-1), West Hills Giant (20-1).


Baffert on Game on Dude: “No rating tactics with him.”

February 28th, 2013

Gelding will employ his usual style in Santa Anita Handicap

By J.J. Hysell

The plan for favorite Game on Dude in Saturday’s Garde 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap is obvious according to trainer Bob Baffert.



“I’ll put it this way, there’ll be no rating tactics with him,” Baffert said. “He needs to rock and roll.  He likes to run like that.  He’s not the kind of horse that can make the lead in 49 and change and then kick away.  He’s better off with somebody going with him.  You gotta let this horse run early and you can’t take a hold of him.

“I think he’s better than he was two years ago.  His sheet numbers are better and he’s doing good.”

Game on Dude (6-5) has bounced back from his disappointing seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic with two straight graded stakes wins.

He’ll face his toughest test of this season Saturday as defending Santa Anita Handicap champion Ron the Greek (5-2), fresh off a romp in the slop of the Sunshine Millions Classic, lines up for the 1 1/4-mile test.

The two are a contrast in styles: Game on Dude needs to freewheel on the lead while Ron the Greek is a late-rallying closer.

Just as he did last year, Ron the Greek arrived Sunday to get acclimated. This year isn’t the same scenario, however, said Bill Mott assistant Rudolph Brisset.

“He is doing as good as he was last year, but this year it is a very different race,” he said, “We have to stop talking about last year. Last year, the set up, it was unusual, they went (the first half-mile) in forty-four, so it is a really different race this year; it will be. This year, if they go forty-six and change, we’ll be lucky. If Game On Dude gets the lead, maybe forty-eight and change.”

Ron the Greek drew the rail post and will have Jose Lezcano aboard. Mike Smith will guide Game on Dude from post 9.

Earlier this week, Baffert expressed his discontent with the assigned high weight of 125 for Game on Dude, compared to 122 for Ron the Greek.

“I thought I’d at least get the same weight as Bill Mott’s horse,” he said. “That’s a good horse. Every time I run against those good horses, they beat me. My horse is a tough little horse, but Ron the Greek’s tough, too.”

Gary Stevens will guide Called to Serve (6-1), who won the Discovery and the Broad Brush on the East Coast.

“I’ll leave it up to Gary, but his last two races he’s been four or five back and he just starts plucking them off,” trainer Nick Canani said. “I’d like to see him in the clear at some point down the backside. We drew the four hole, which is fine.”

If Called to Serve wins, Nick and Julio Canani will be the first father-son duo to win the Santa Anita Handicap. The elder Canani won in 1989 with 50-1 shot Martial Law.

John Scott (20-1), the lone California-bred in the field, will be moving from turf to dirt after winning the Crystal Water Stakes. Martin Garcia will ride the Carla Gaines-trained runner.

“I’m worried about the mile and a quarter on the dirt,” said John Harris, co-breeder and owner of John Scott. “He’s run well at Santa Anita on the dirt but not so impressively that this is an easy decision. And, Game On Dude won it (in 2011) in a real fast time. So, I’m a little concerned, quite frankly, it’s not an easy race. This horse is pretty consistent. He’s tough to type cast because he could run well going six furlongs on the dirt or he could run well going a mile and-a-half on the turf, and everything in between.”

The wild card could be Graham Motion’s Stephanoatsee (8-1) with Julien Leparoux. The son of A.P. Indy was a closing second to Guilt Trip in the Strub at Santa Anita in his last start.

Also entered are: Handsome Mike (20-1), Deacon Speakin’ (50-1), Clubhouse Ride (30-1), Richard’s Kid (12-1) and Guilt Trip (6-1).



Kentucky Derby Daily: Feb. 27

February 27th, 2013

Overanalyze draws outside post for Gotham

Todd Pletcher’s Overanalyze, who won the Grade 3 Remsen in his last start, drew the far outside post in the 12-horse field of Saturday’s Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.

The Grade 3 Gotham is this weekend’s lone Kentucky Derby points race.

Overanalyze, a son of Dixie Union owned by Repole Stable, will have jockey John Velazquez aboard. derby 2

Sky Captain, scratched from last week’s Fountain of Youth because of a wide post, drew post 10 for trainer Mark Casse and jockey Miguel Mena.

Elnaawi, half-brother of To Honor and Serve, drew post nine for Kiaran McLaughlin and jockey Channing Hill.

In the Money will post a full analysis of the Gotham.

Forty Tales, Gombay Dancer headline competitive Swale Stakes

The seven-furlong, Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream Saturday drew a top-notch field of 13.

Merit Man, fourth in the Hutcheson Stakes, is likely to scratch out of the race after drawing post 2 according to Mike Welsch of the Daily Racing Form.

Other Swale competitors include James DiVito’s Tulira Castle, ninth in the Holy Bull; Todd Pletcher’s Forty Tales, second in the Hutcheson and Eddie Kenneally’s maiden winner Gombey Dancer.

Future Pools for Derby and Oaks this weekend

The second edition of the Kentucky Derby Pool opens this weekend, as well as the only pool for the Kentucky Oaks.

Links to the available options for the pools and odds:

In the Money will post full analysis of both pools with best bets.


Smitten back on track

Smitten, sidelined from the Rachel Alexandra after she suffered a minor injury and missed training, will prep for the Fair Grounds Oaks in Saturday’s LaCombe Stakes on turf. The race could come off the turf due to the recent rain.

“We entered her this morning – turf or dirt,” said trainer Larry Jones. “We need to run in this race (LaCombe Memorial) if we’re going to make it to the Fair Grounds Oaks with her. She’s been training well since that little setback. She went five-eighths (1:02.60) last Sunday.

“She didn’t run bad in the one race she did run on grass,” said Jones. “It was the first start of her career back at Keeneland last fall, and she broke slow, but once she got going (from last in the 12-horse field) she rallied on the outside and closed very well to get fourth. Hopefully, this race Saturday will put us right back into the Oaks picture.”





Peppermints the driving force behind Sunny Desert

February 27th, 2013

Trainer John Parisella claimed Sunny Desert after her third start, in which she finished fourth over a sloppy track.

Since then, she’s gradually grown into a competitive racehorse and now boasts a six-race win streak. The New York-bred daughter of Wild Desert will try graded stakes company in the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap Saturday at Aqueduct.

Parisella released the secret behind the filly’s winning ways.

“When I claimed her she was in the back of her stall,” said Parisella. “With fillies, outside of maintenance, it’s mental to get them in the game. I ordered a case of peppermints. It changed her around. She hears my voice. If I’m walking, she’ll stop and wait. I don’t know, but I’m not going to stop giving peppermints.”

Her most recent win, on Jan. 6 in the Cat Cay Stakes, was her first try around two turns and beyond one mile.

“I always felt she could go long,” said Parisella. “A couple of races back she was totally relaxed. When I put her in the race going long, the open stakes, she didn’t break sharply because she was so relaxed. The geniuses trainers are, I thought with her speed she’d go wire-to-wire, but she didn’t break and came from off the pace. She really made me feel confident in her, to be two-dimensional.”

“You hope you can improve her enough where she can compete in New York-bred stakes, but I never thought – and I’m pretty conservative – that I’d be running in a Grade 2 and really thought I had a legitimate chance. The only thing going against her is that she has won six in a row; I hate streaks.”

Sources: NYRA notes, Equibase



Balance the Books out of Palm Beach with fever

February 27th, 2013

Backup plan could be Spiral Stakes

Balance the Books, who was scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in Sunday’s Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream, will not make the race because of a fever.

“I was going to run Balance the Books, but he got a temperature about a week ago. It’s really disappointing, because he’s the one I wanted to run there,” trainer Chad Brown said. “He’s OK. I just went back to the track with him, but he did lose a couple of days because of the temperature.”

Balance the Books

Balance the Books

Brown said a new plan for the son of Lemon Drop Kid, who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, is being developed.

“I might have to go to Plan B and run him in the Spiral at Turfway (March 23) and then wheel him back in the Blue Grass,” Brown said. “It wasn’t my ideal plan, but you have to make adjustments with horses.”

“He’s always struck me as a grass horse, or a synthetic horse, but there might come a day where we might try him on the dirt,” he said.

Brown added Noble Tune, who is nominated to the Palm Beach, might also skip the race due to the timing and distance.

“He’s never been a mile and an eighth before,” he said. “I’m certainly not going to do it off a layoff, not with that particular horse. Balance the Books is better equipped to do run a mile and an eighth, even off a layoff. He’s a more long-winded horse. With Noble Tune, his first race back, I want to start him off at a slightly shorter distance if I can. I’m not positive what race that’s going to be yet.”


Titletown Five, Get Happy Mister start 3-year-old campaigns Saturday

February 27th, 2013

Field of seven in six-furlong test

By J.J. Hysell

Titletown Five, sidelined over the winter by a bone chip, is set to make his 3-year-old debut Saturday in the Gazebo Stakes at six furlongs at Oaklawn Park.

The son of Tiznow, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, drew attention with his nine-length romp to break his maiden at Churchill Downs in November. Prior to that, he was second in a key race at Saratoga won by Fountain of Youth runner-up Violence. The Fountain of Youth winner, Orb, was third in that race.

D. Wayne Lukas

D. Wayne Lukas

Titletown Five is owned by a partnership that includes football legends Willie Davis and Paul Hornung.

Titletown Five will debut in this weekend’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 at 30-1. Jockey Jon Court gets the call Saturday.

Also entered in the Gazebo are undefeated Colorado-bred Get Happy Mister and Cecil Borel’s Malibu High.

Get Happy Mister, a son of First Samurai, was 4 for 4 at Arapahoe Park as a 2-year-old. He is making his first start for trainer Kelly von Hemel. Glenn Corbett will be aboard.

Calvin Borel will ride Malibu High, who was fifth in the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds in his last start.