In the Money

Horse racing insight that's loose on the lead

Wise Dan overcomes multiple obstacles in Firecracker win

June 30th, 2013

Heavy downpour, jockey tactics prove no match for Horse of the Year

By J.J. Hysell

If the reigning Horse of the Year was being asked to prove his worthiness for the title Saturday night, he undoubtedly passed the test.

Wise Dan before the Firecracker

Wise Dan before the Firecracker

After several deluges associated with thunderstorms that moved through the area soaked the turf course to yielding, trainer Charlie LoPresti considered pulling his 6-year-old gelding from the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap.

LoPresti was already concerned about the amount of weight Wise Dan was conceding to his competitors; carrying a high weight of 128 pounds, his foes – dwindled to four after scratches – were toting as much as 13 pounds less.

“I was that close to scratching,” LoPresti said. “If we would’ve had one more big downpour like we had earlier, I was going to take him out of there.”

The most daunting curveball thrown at the veteran was race strategy, as his four rivals sealed him in by the rail in a tactical move that could only be overcome by a veteran jockey like John Velazquez.

Boxed in along the inside path, Wise Dan had just one option: to ride the hedge and counterpunch Seruni and Lea in the stretch. Seruni and jockey Corey Lanerie played it close – the two bumped and Wise Dan brushed the hedge. Once clear, Lea and Brian Hernandez made a sharp run at him, but couldn’t reach the classy favorite, who bobbled over the soggy ground just before reaching the wire.

“I had to work my way out,” Velazquez said. “If you watch the head-on, he brushes up against the bushes and he even jumped at the eighth-pole.

Charlie LoPresti

Charlie LoPresti

“The track was so loose, so wet and slippery.”

Wise Dan is the first two-time winner of the Firecracker – although this version was a stark contrast from the rather workmanlike 2 3/4-length win over a firm course in 2011.

“They rode against him,” LoPresti said. “They rode to beat him.”

“Corey’s laying on him down on the hedge. He’s got him pinned and I’m thinking, ‘Just let him through, you’re not going to beat him anyway.’ Then he bounced off the hedge a little bit. It was kind of ugly. Just hoping he comes back good. That was my biggest fear about a race like this, was to put it all on the line and have a hard race, and knock him out down the road, carrying this much weight and how this turf course turned out the way it did.

“Everything went against us tonight. It worked out.”







Calidoscopio: A career to remember

June 29th, 2013

On Friday, it was reported by that Calidoscopio, the Argentina-bred who won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Marathon, was retired due to a tendon issue.

According to the article, Calidoscopio is set to return to Argentina to begin a stud career.

The Breeders’ Cup Marathon was Calidoscopio’s announcement to the world that, at the age of 9, he was still in top form for his long-distance tests. With Aaron Gryder aboard. the son of Luhuk, then trained by Guillermo Frankel, won by 4 1/4-lengths at 17-1.

Racing fans will likely most remember Calidoscopio for his thrilling, late rallying victory in the Brooklyn Handicap over a sloppy track at Belmont Park on June 7. Gryder brought the 10-year-old from more than 20 lengths behind to bypass the field in the stretch.

While these are Calidoscopio’s most memorable races in the U.S., in Argentina, he is often recalled for this special victory in the snowy Clasico Chacabuco in 2007, his second career win.

Happy trails, Calidoscopio.



Ken and Sarah Ramsey set new meet record for wins at Churchill Downs

June 27th, 2013
Photo: Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs

Photo: Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs


Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey set a new record for wins in a single meet at Churchill Downs on Thursday when The Sixties, trained by Mike Maker, won the fifth race, giving them their 28th win of the 38-day Spring Meet.

The previous record was 27, set by A.J. Foyt, Jr. in the 93-day Spring/Summer meet in 1984.

The Ramseys have six horses entered Friday, two horses entered Saturday and seven horses entered on Sunday, closing day.

“It’s an honor to break the record and we did it in less than half the time,” Ken Ramsey said.

Java’s War likely to start next in Swaps Stakes on synthetic

June 27th, 2013


Java’s War, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and 13th in the Kentucky Derby in his last start, is likely to return in the Grade 2, $150,000 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 4.

Java's War

Java’s War

The Swaps is a 1 1/8-mile test for 2-year-olds on the Cushion Track.

Trainer Ken McPeek confirmed to vice president-racing and racing secretary Martin Panza Thursday morning that Java’s War, owned by Charles Fipke, will be arriving at Hollywood Park July 1 and will be stabled in the barn of Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg.

Other Swaps contenders include Tiz a Minister (trainer Paul Aguirre, jockey Corey Nakatani), who came from far back to win the Grade III Affirmed Handicap June 2; Power Broker (Bob Baffert, no rider), who won the Grade I Front Runner at Santa Anita last Sept. 29 and coming off wins at Churchill Downs and Belmont Park;  Dice Flavor (Paddy Gallagher, Mike Smith), victorious in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby Feb. 16 at Golden Gate Fields; and Chief Havoc (Peter Miller, no rider), a dominating allowance winner May 30.


Analysis: 2-year-olds to Watch

June 26th, 2013

It’s the season debut of In the Money 2-year-olds to Watch. These are the top juveniles to keep an eye on from June 1 – June 25.


Kobe’s Back (colt, Flatter – Well by Well Decorated) – He made quite a statement in his debut, the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park. Lagging behind at the start by as many as seven lengths, the John Sadler trainee showed an impressive closing kick by circling the field to win the 5 1/2-furlong test by 3 1/4-lengths. The colt closed into some swift early fractions (:22.18. :46.00) and finished in 1:05.42. He’s half-brother to Gallant Bob and Jersey Shore Stakes winner Well Spelled.

Fiftyshadesofgold, ridden by Corey Lanerie and trained by Bret Calhoun, won the Debutante Stakes

Fiftyshadesofgold, ridden by Corey Lanerie and trained by Bret Calhoun, won the Debutante Stakes

Fiftyshadesofgold (filly, My Golden Song – Hadif Cat by Hadif) – This Texas-bred clocked down to favoritism just as the field of 11 in the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs was loading in the gate, and bettors had it pegged. The Bret Calhoun runner gave what Calhoun deemed a “monster performance,” dispatching early head-to-head speed rival More Than Beauty and strolling off to win by eight lengths. She covered the six furlongs in 1:10.63. She has won her first two races by a combined 18 lengths. Calhoun has yet to make future plans for his emerging star, but did say she will continue to train at Churchill until a decision is made. Calhoun has several other intriguing 2-year-old fillies, including Bahnah, who is likely to race at Saratoga, and Closing Report, who made our list after her eye-catching win at Lone Star.

No Nay Never (turf) (colt, Scat Daddy – Cat’s Eye Witness by Elusive Quality) – Prior to the trip, trainer Wesley Ward gave an honest assessment of his Royal Ascot competitors, stating that this son of Scat Daddy was his most likely winner. No Nay Never, who won his debut at Keeneland in wire-to-wire fashion in April, returned with a scintillating performance with Joel Rosario on the big stage in the Norfolk Stakes. Not only did he turn back Aidan O’Brien’s talented Coach House, he set a track record for five furlongs (:58.80). His next target is the Prix Morny at Deauville in August. Interesting to note that Laddie Boy, who also made our list, came out of the No Nay Never race at Keeneland and won his next start by 13 lengths.

Teardrop and Rosie Napravnik finished seventh in the Debutante. "She's a Tapit, so she's wired tight," Napravnik said,

Teardrop and Rosie Napravnik finished seventh in the Debutante. “She’s a Tapit, so she’s wired tight,” Napravnik said.

Teardrop (filly, Tapit – Wild Vision by Wild Again) – Don’t give up on the Steve Asmussen runner after her disappointing seventh-place finish in the Debutante. She flashed talent in her debut and, being by fiery sire Tapit, likely needs some time. The Debutante was a solid education for the youngster, as she was placed between horses and took some dirt. “I think this filly has still got a lot to learn,” said jockey Rosie Napravnik. “She’s a Tapit, so she’s wired tight. I still think she’s very talented. She’s just got to kind of get it together.”

Conquest Whiplash (filly, Hear No Evil – Saint Sammi by Saint Ballado) – Another nice debut from a Florida-bred owned by the emerging Conquest Stables and trainer Mark Casse. This filly easily defeated five foes in the Victoria Stakes going five furlongs in front-running fashion at Woodbine. Conquest Stables also sent out highly regarded winner Conquest Two Step, who won her debut at Churchill; their runners merit watching.

Sprouts (filly, Square Eddie – Ann Summers Gold by Yankee Victor) – This California-bred, owned by Reddam Racing and trained by Edward Freeman, is now 2 of 3 after winning the Cinderella Stakes at Hollywood Park by more than three lengths. She’s the first stakes winner for new sire Square Eddie.

In Luv with Willie (filly, With Distinction – Willie’s Luv by Williamstown) – Sweetmarys Success was much the best in the JJ’sdream Stakes at Calder, but this Florida-bred was flying late for a good second. She’s one who could benefit from a stretch out to six furlongs.


True Blue Nation (filly, Bluegrass Cat – Truly Spectacular by Yes It’s True) – Disregarded at 17-1 in a field of six at Belmont Park, this Tom Albertrani trainee – owned by St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds – never trailed a horse and drew off to win her debut by more than five lengths. She covered the five furlongs in :58.26. Another to watch from this field is Todd Pletcher’s Candy Kitty (Lemon Drop Kid – Worthy Cat by Tale of the Cat), who made up ground to finish second after a sluggish start and likely needed the race.

Elena Strikes (filly, Smart Strike – Ticket to Houston by Houston) – This is a serious-looking filly from Stonestreet – have we heard that before? – who won her debut at Monmouth Park in sharp fashion. The Todd Pletcher runner simply outclassed her foes and looks like a quality filly. She’s a half-sister to Runway Model, a multiple graded stakes winner.

Harlan’s Special (filly, Harlan’s Holiday – Special Brush by Broad Brush) – A late-closing second by this Gary Hartlage trainee to Untapable (Tapit – Fun House by Prized), a half-sister to Paddy O’Prado, in what could be a key maiden race. Another one to watch is Madly Truly (Malibu Moon – Beautifulballerina by Nureyev), a Mark Casse trainee who was stymied by a troubled start.

Laddie Boy (colt, War Pass – Lil’s Lassie by Lil’s Lad) – Malcolm Franklin executed a perfect rail ride from the No. 1-post that helped this colt to a 13-length romp at Indiana Downs in his second start for trainer Chuck Peery. He has improved from his debut, in which he was rank early and finished eighth in the race at Keeneland, won by Norfolk winner No Nay Never.

Theoryofrelativity (colt, Einstein (BRZ) – Border Bound by Boundary) – New sire Einstein is now 2 for 2 with his runners after this Michael Gorham trainee was untouchable in his debut at the claiming level at Delaware Park. Winning by over five lengths and finishing the 4 1/2 furlongs in :52.98, he looked like a steal at $25,000.

Closing Report (filly, Closing Argument – Majestic Report by Corporate Report) – Another example of how Bret Calhoun has his 2-year-olds ready to fly this time of year. This Louisiana-bred filly practically cantered home in her debut against eight foes going five furlongs at Lone Star Park.

She’s A Tiger (filly, Tale of the Cat – Shandra Smiles by Cahill Road) – This half-sister to champion sprinter Smiling Tiger showed she’s got the genes with a head-turning romp at Pleasanton; she came home in :57.49 for the five furlongs in the nine-length win. Granted, it was a short field, but when the Equibase chart reads “workout fashion” for a debut, take note.

Hop the Six (filly, Artie Schiller – Pulpit Fiction by Pulpit) – She makes a good physical impression and looks like she could be a multi-surface threat after romping on the synthetic surface at Presque Isle in her second start for trainer Ron Potts.

Red Outlaw (gelding, Tribal Rule – Anachristina by Slewpy) – Well-bred, stunning chestnut was much the best in his debut at Hollywood Park for trainer Peter Miller.

Aibhilin (filly, Sky Mesa – Carocita by Anees) –  Debut romps aren’t uncommon at Parx, but this one from the barn of Cathal Lynch really caught the eye at 4 1/2 furlongs.


None Like Nolan (colt, Malibu Moon – Green Lyons (IRE) by Green Desert) – A Todd Pletcher trainee to keep an eye on after he made a late rally into a hot pace set by winner Jake’s Magic Hat at Belmont. He needs more than five furlongs.

Ride on Curlin (colt, Curlin – Magical Ride by Storm Cat) – Calvin Borel’s charge almost caught the speedy Conquest Two Step who was loose on the lead after setting fast fractions in the five-furlong test. Nice stride on this William Gowan runner.

Poblano (gelding, Minister Eric – Jalapena by Dixie Union) – New Mexico-bred dusted his foes with an 11-length jaunt at Sunray Park.

Yodel Up a Storm (filly, Swiss Yodeler – Valley Storm by Moscow Ballet) – Caught by Stunning Drama after a pace duel in a 4 1/2-furlong test at Hollywood Park, she finished a solid second and was claimed by John Sadler off the debut.

My Corinthian (turf) (gelding, Corinthian – Texas Rush by Wild Rush) – Dane Kobiskie’s debut runner proved too tough for the competition in a five-furlong grass test at Colonial Downs; speedy final time of :57.78.

On Rainbow Bridge (filly, Bold Executive – Miss Deputy by War Deputy) – An Ontario-bred to watch at Woodbine after her late-closing debut at 4 1/2-furlongs.

Ride the World (filly, Tiz Wonderful – Sweet Baklava by Forestry) – From a family of winners, it was no surprise this Florida-bred was victorious in her debut at Woodbine. The swift time of :51.78 for the four furlongs over synthetic is notable.



Trainer Mike Mitchell back at the track

June 25th, 2013

Trainer feeling better after collapsing at Hollywood Park on June 16

Trainer Mike Mitchell returned to Hollywood Park last week after he collapsed in the winner’s circle following a win by Gutshot Straight in the sixth race on June 16.

Mitchell discussed the incident in the Hollywood Park notes.

“I’m feeling much better,” said Mitchell.  “It was a combination of things.  I was in the sun too long, it was awfully hot and I had a seizure.  Plus, I had a lot of caffeine in me, I was dehydrated and still a little weak from a chemo treatment.”

Mitchell said he plans to be at Hollywood this weekend for the Shoemaker Mile and Triple Bend. He has Obviously and Camp Victory entered, respectively.

“I’m coming out to see Obviously and Camp Victory,’’ he said. “This time I’m going to bring my hat and find some shade.”



Ireland, full sister to Dublin, set to debut Thursday

June 25th, 2013

By J.J. Hysell

Ireland, a full sister to 2009 Hopeful winner Dublin, is set to make her debut Thursday at Churchill Downs.

The daughter of Afleet Alex, out of the Storm Bird mare Classy Mirage, drew the outside post in a field of nine for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Miguel Mena.

Dublin, also trained by Lukas, broke his maiden at Saratoga in his second start and followed up with a win in the Hopeful Stakes. He was third in the Arkansas Derby, seventh in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness Stakes.

Concerns continue regarding Ellis Park surface

June 25th, 2013

Some horsemen say they’ve seen little improvement in track conditions

By J.J. Hysell

Last week, reports surfaced that there were issues with the Ellis Park racing surface involving large rocks scattered across the track.

The track was closed for training Saturday and Sunday so special equipment could be used to extricate the rocks, but horsemen on-site reported to In the Money Monday that the track’s condition has not improved.

One local horseman said the track “is worse than it was before the weekend.”

A source said trainer Larry Jones has pulled some of the horses he had stabled at the track because of the track conditions.

Ellis Park general manager Bob Jackson said a crew from Maryland used equipment on the track from 9:30 a.m. Saturday until late Sunday night. He said all of the track was covered during the process except the outside left rail. The track also has its own scanning equipment it is using to continue the clearing process.

“We’re in pretty good shape,” Jackson said. “We’re concentrating on the outside areas.”

In addition, groups of people have been going over the track picking up rocks and putting them in buckets.

Jackson said a storm Monday that dumped several inches of rain on the area affected the maintenance efforts. The track is normally closed to training on Monday and was closed on Tuesday because of the rain. It is expected to open for training on Wednesday.

“By the end of the day, the track should pretty well be back to normal,” Jackson said.

Jackson said trainers told him the track was much improved before the work began.

“We’re going to make it right,” he said.

Ellis Park is slated to begin its 29-day meet on July 4.

Downs After Dark 2: Photo Album

June 23rd, 2013

The theme was “Boots, Brews and BBQ” and a mechanical bull-riding contest for charity was the spotlight.

Fiftyshadesofgold, ridden by Corey Lanerie and trained by Bret Calhoun, won the Debutante Stakes

Fiftyshadesofgold, ridden by Corey Lanerie and trained by Bret Calhoun, won the Debutante Stakes



Trainer Jinks Fires can still rodeo

Trainer Jinks Fires can still rodeo



Teardrop and Rosie Napravnik finished seventh in the Debutante. "She's a Tapit, so she's wired tight," Napravnik said,

Teardrop and Rosie Napravnik finished seventh in the Debutante. “She’s a Tapit, so she’s wired tight,” Napravnik said



Jockey Jesus Castanon holds on

Jockey Jesus Castanon holds on



Fiftyshadesofgold drew attention in the paddock

Fiftyshadesofgold drew attention in the paddock


Jill Byrne of Churchill Downs won on style points

Jill Byrne of Churchill Downs won on style points



Jockey John McKee was a fan favorite

Jockey John McKee was a fan favorite



Doublefour gets his tattoo checked before the sixth race.

Doublefour gets his tattoo checked before the sixth race.


Joe Johnson, regular rider of On Fire Baby

Joe Johnson, regular rider of On Fire Baby


Jockey Santos Sanjur, who won the first race aboard longshot Contrapuntal, tried bull riding

Jockey Santos Sanjur, who won the first race aboard longshot Contrapuntal, tried bull riding




Emotional win for Lanerie aboard promising 2-year-old

June 23rd, 2013


Lanerie: “I felt like I had an angel on my back the last eighth of a mile.”

By J.J. Hysell

Corey Lanerie’s victory aboard Fiftyshadesofgold in the Debutante Stakes Saturday – an impressive 8-length romp – was an emotional win for the jockey.

Lanerie’s uncle, Steve, passed away on Friday, and Lanerie said he dedicated the win aboard the promising 2-year-old filly to his departed relative.

“I felt like I had an angel on my back the last eighth of a mile,” Lanerie said.

Fiftyshadesofgold, who clicked down to favoritism over Teardrop just before the gates opened, went head-to-head with the speedy More Than Beauty through swift early fractions of :21.37 and :45.14 before drawing off and finishing the six furlongs in 1:10.63.

More Than Beauty held on for second and Del Mar Holiday was third. Teardrop, rank in the early stages of the race, faded to seventh.

“I think this filly has still got a lot to learn,” said Teardrop’s jockey, Rosie Napravnik. “She’s a Tapit, so she’s wired tight.”

The Texas-bred daughter of My Golden Song, trained by Bret Calhoun for owner Clarence Sharbauer, was coming in off a rousing 10-length debut win against statebreds at Lone Star Park.

“I thought it was a monster effort,” Calhoun said. “She beat those horses pretty handily and I know there were some nice horses in there.”

Calhoun said no plans have been made for Fiftyshadesofgold’s next start, but he will try to keep the filly and another future star from his barn – Bahnah – apart. Bahnah is likely headed to Saratoga. Bahnah, owned by Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch, won her debut at Churchill Downs with Lanerie on June 6.

Lanerie, who also competed in the mechanical bull contest for charity at Downs After Dark Saturday, said the thought of not riding never passed his mind, because of his uncle’s wishes.

“My uncle would have kicked me in the butt if I wouldn’t have ridden,” he said. “He would want us to be happy and to live and joke and remember the good memories.”