Monday, January 30, 2012

Sophomore Fillies Roundup

The trend for the past several years in racing has been girl power. Racing fans have enjoyed watching Black Caviar, Blind Luck, Goldikova, Havre de Grace, Rags to Riches, Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and many others. It looks as if this trend will continue, as 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace is returning, 2011 Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Royal Delta is preparing for a great year that should include the Dubai World Cup (GI), and 2010 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Awesome Feather looks to remain perfect after her dominating win in the Florida Sunshine Millions Distaff.
But what about the three-year-old fillies of 2012? Two of the top newly-turned three-year-old fillies – 2011 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly My Miss Aurelia and two-time grade one-winning Weemissfrankie – are out due to injuries. We must turn our attention to other sophomore fillies, including the ones listed below.
Agave Kiss: She has raced solely in New York and only one of her starts has not been against restricted company. However, she has been very dominant. Her first two starts – a state-bred maiden special weight at Belmont and a state-bred allowance at Aqueduct – were won by a combined winning margin of 16 ¾ lengths. Agave Kiss’ initial start against open company came in the Ruthless Stakes at Aqueduct, which she won by 3 ¼ lengths. She is by Lion Heart – winner of the Hollywood Futurity (GI, 8.5F) and the Haskell Invitational Handicap (GI, 9F) and runner-up in the Kentucky Derby (GI, 10F) – and out of the one-mile Delta Princess Stakes winner and Santa Ysabel Stakes (GIII, 8.5) runner-up, Salty Romance. She is inbred 5 X 5 to both Northern Dancer and Raise a Native. Her connections may not plan to run her much outside of New York, but I feel that it would be very exciting to see her race outside of the Big Apple. For more on Agave Kiss, please read my articles here and here.
Applauding: One of the most impressive fillies on this list, Applauding caused jaws to drop when she debuted at Keeneland in October. In that race, she sat off the pace before sweeping to the lead as the field neared the top of the stretch. She never looked back from there, winning the race by 9 lengths in a track record time of 1:07.76 for six furlongs. She made her second start in early December at the Fair Grounds in a six-furlong first-level allowance. After leading from start to finish, Applauding crossed the wire six lengths in front. She was entered in the Silverbulletday Stakes at the Fair Grounds for January 21, but was scratched due to a small bout of colic. By an A.P. Indy son in Congrats and out of a Forestry mare, Applauding definitely has spectacular bloodlines. She is on track for the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) on March 31.
Broadway’s Alibi: This filly made her first two starts in maiden special weights at Delaware Park, finishing second by a length in her debut before dominating her second start by seven lengths. She did not start for another three months, when she triumphed by five lengths in a six and one-half-furlong allowance optional claiming at Gulfstream Park. She then tried graded stakes company in the seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes (GII) at Gulfstream on January 29, bounding home to win by an astounding 16 ¾ lengths over a sloppy track. There is doubt in her ability to stretch out, as her sire, Vindication, has primarily been a sire of sprinters and her dam, the graded stakes-winning Strawberry Reason, only won at the distance of a mile and one-sixteenth. Perhaps routing will not be to her liking, but I expect that Broadway’s Alibi will continue to be impressive.
Eden’s Moon: In mid-December, Eden’s Moon made her debut at Hollywood Park, finishing 2 ¼ lengths behind the future Santa Ynez Stakes (GII) winner, Reneesgotzip. She made her first three-year-old start three weeks later, leading from start to finish and winning by an outstanding 11 ½ lengths. By a son of A.P. Indy in Malibu Moon and out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, her pedigree suggests that she will have no trouble with routing. It also helps that her fifth dam – Pange – is a Reine De Course mare who produced the champion Prince Royal II and is the granddam of the ill-fated but great Landaluce. Trainer Bob Baffert scratched her from the Santa Ysabel Stakes (GIII) on January 28.
Grace Hall: Prior to her second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI), Grace Hall was undefeated. However, being defeated by My Miss Aurelia was not a disgrace. Now that My Miss Aurelia is out, Grace Hall finds herself at the top of many lists as far as sophomore fillies are concerned. After a three-length maiden victory at Delaware Park, she traveled to Saratoga to take the Spinaway Stakes (GI) by nearly two lengths. She then returned to Delaware for her final win of 2011: an effortless victory in the Blue Hen Stakes. Grace Hall is by the Belmont Stakes-winning Empire Maker and out of the Irish-bred stakes-winning mare Season’s Greetings. Tracing back to horses such as Seattle Slew, Riva Ridge, and the Reine De Course mare Comely Nell, it doesn’t seem as if long distances will be a problem for Grace Hall. Trainer Tony Dutrow is preparing her for a start in the Davona Dale Stakes (GII) at Gulfstream on February 25.
Killer Graces: Following a nose defeat in her maiden special weight debut, Killer Graces captured two ungraded stakes at Hollywood Park. After two disappointing finishes in Del Mar graded stakes races, the chestnut filly finished second in a pair of ungraded stakes. She then garnered her first grade one victory in the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (GI), in which her smooth stride carried her to a half-length victory. Her most recent start came on January 28 in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (GIII) and when the winner got an easy lead, it made it difficult for Killer Graces to keep up, which led to her second-place finish. By the multiple grade one-winning Congaree and out of an Old Trieste mare, Killer Graces definitely has plenty of speed and stamina in her pedigree. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is preparing her for a start in the Las Virgenes Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita on March 3.
Now I Know: Undefeated in six starts, Now I Know won her first four starts at Remington Park by a combined 17 ½ lengths. One of those wins was a 9 ¼-length victory in the state-bred Oklahoma Classics Lassie Stakes. After that win, she made her first start outside of Oklahoma at Delta Downs in the Delta Downs Princess Stakes (GIII), which she won by 4 lengths. She made her sophomore debut on January 14 in the Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn Park, holding off Amie’s Dini to win by 1 ¼ lengths. By a son of Storm Cat in the 2002 Kentucky Cup Classic Handicap (GII, 9F) winner Pure Prize and out of a Maria’s Mon mare in Now U Know, Now I Know definitely has an impressive pedigree. She is also very impressive on the track and is pointing toward the Martha Washington Stakes – a race that has been won by the likes of Eight Belles and Rachel Alexandra – at Oaklawn Park on February 11 for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, who won the race in 2006 with Brownie Points.
Princess Arabella: She has only started once, but she was incredibly impressive in that start. On New Year’s Eve, the Bob Baffert trainee debuted at Santa Anita in a six-furlong maiden special weight. After a poor break from the gate, Princess Arabella gained ground on the leaders with every stride, never decelerating. With a breathtaking move on the outside on the far turn, the chestnut filly swept to the lead with ease under very slight urging from Martin Garcia. By the Haskell winner Any Given Saturday and out of a Thunder Gulch mare, Princess Arabella’s pedigree hints that she will handle a stretch out in distance. She has many tests to pass, but she seems to have the sheer talent and pedigree that will allow her to pass with flying colors.
Reneesgotzip: After soundly defeating Eden’s Moon in her debut, Reneesgotzip tried graded stakes company in her three-year-old debut. On January 15, the chestnut filly dominated the Santa Ynez Stakes (GII) by 7 ¾ lengths, leading from start to finish to defeat five other fillies. She is by City Zip and out of a Distorted Humor mare and is inbred 3 X 4 to Northern Dancer. Trainer Peter Miller is pointing her towards the Las Virgenes Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita on March 3.
Table Three Ten: After her impressive victory in her debut at the Fair Grounds in November, this Cobra Farm-bred filly was purchased by Team Valor. She made her first start for Team Valor and trainer Graham Motion under John Velazquez – the same connections that teamed up to win the 2011 Kentucky Derby – on January 27 in an allowance race at Gulfstream. Sent off as the heavy favorite, she won the six and one-half-furlong race by 1 ¾ lengths. She is by El Prado and out of a stakes-place More Than Ready mare. She traces back to the influential Northern Dancer three times throughout her pedigree and is inbred 5 X 5 to Hail to Reason and 4 X 5 to Special. Her next start is unknown.
Twelve Folds: After two tough losses – one by a nose and one by a head – in her first two starts, Twelve Folds finally got to show the world what she was made of. In a five and one-half California-bred maiden special weight, she won by 8 ¼ lengths. Only one of her starts has been against open company, but she still performed well, finishing second by a head. By a young son of Indian Charlie in Cindago and out of a Tiger Ridge mare, Twelve Folds’ pedigree is not exactly as spectacular as some of the other fillies on this list. However, her fourth dam, Bali Babe, is the dam of 1999 Horse of the Year Charismatic and her sixth dam, Grass Shack, is a Reine De Course mare.
Willa B Awesome: The most heavily raced filly on this list, Willa B Awesome has started ten times. Three of those starts have resulted in victories, two of which were in stakes races. After a win against state-bred maidens in her debut at Hollywood Park, she tried open company in the Cinderella Stakes, finishing third behind the future grade one-winning Killer Graces. Following three unsuccessful stakes tries – two state-bred stakes and one graded stakes – at Del Mar, trainer Walther Solis shipped her to Fairplex Park for the Barrets Debutante Stakes, in which she won by nearly three lengths. After three in-the-money finishes in stakes races – two of which were against California-breds, Willa B Awesome tried graded stakes company in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (GIII) on January 28. She got in easy lead in that race and therefore was able to score by 3 ½ lengths. By a Coronado’s Quest son in Awesome Gambler, most of the appeal in Willa B Awesome’s pedigree is on her sire’s side. However, her fifth dam, Belthazar, is a Reine De Course mare and the final foal sired by the 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral. Willa B Awesome will need to continue to prove herself against open company, but she is without a doubt a talented filly.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Derby Top Ten #1

The most anticipated race of the year is the Kentucky Derby (GI). As soon as the race is over, many already begin thinking about the next year’s running. There is no doubt about it; the Kentucky Derby is the greatest two minutes in sports.
This is the list of my top ten 2012 Kentucky Derby contenders as of January 29.
1. Union Rags: As the early Kentucky Derby favorite, Union Rags is at the top of many Kentucky Derby lists. The son of Dixie Union won his first three starts impressively before falling a head short to Hansen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI). However, he showed up in all four of his races in 2011, displaying his sheer talent. He has a fine pedigree and is a very well-built horse with nearly flawless conformation. Upon seeing him in person at the Breeders’ Cup, I was able to tell that Union Rags is a very classy individual that carries himself with much confidence. He has been working out for trainer Michael Matz at Palm Meadows Training Center, posting pleasing workouts over the dirt surface. His most recent work was a 1:00.82 five-furlong work. As long as Union Rags learns to race less greenly and continues to improve while maintaining his incredible talent, he will be very difficult to beat. Trainer Michael Matz is pointing him towards the Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) at Gulfstream Park on February 26. For more on why Union Rags is a top Derby contender, please read my Derby Hopeful article on him by clicking here.
2. Discreet Dancer: This Todd Pletcher trainee has been incredibly impressive, winning his first two starts – a maiden special weight and an allowance at Gulfstream Park – by a combined 15 ¼ lengths. He is clearly extremely talented and there is no telling how good he is yet. He will need to prove himself against graded stakes company, but it seems as if he should handle the step up in class well. His pedigree may possibly have distance limitations, but with Gone West as his broodmare sire, he may be able to handle the stretch out in distance. What intrigues me most about his pedigree is that his fourth dam is Lassie Dear, a Reine De Course mare who produced Weekend Surprise – the dam of A.P. Indy and Summer Squall. This hints that he may be better suited to routing than many think. His next start is unknown. For more on why Discreet Dancer is a top Derby contender, please read my Derby Hopeful article on him by clicking here.
3: Algorithms: After two impressive victories at two renowned racetracks (Belmont and Gulfstream), Algorithms emerged on many Derby lists. A son of the young, successful stud Bernardini, Algorithms sat near the pace in his debut at Belmont before stylishly drawing off to win by 5 ¼ lengths. He didn’t start for over six months, reappearing in a six and one-half-furlong allowance optional claiming at Gulfstream Park. He sat off the pace before battling the highly-touted Consortium down the stretch. After digging deep, the bay colt prevailed by a length before galloping out impressively. Today in the Holy Bull Stakes (GIII), the Todd Pletcher trainee effortlessly galloped past Hansen to win by 5 lengths in a final time of 1:36.17 for one mile over a sloppy track at Gulfstream Park. His Preakness Stakes (GI)-winning sire, Bernardini, is of course by the Belmont Stakes- and Breeders’ Cup Classic-winning A.P. Indy. The bottom side of his pedigree also hints that Algorithms will be able to stretch out, as his dam is by Cryptoclearance, who produced the Belmont Stakes-winning Victory Gallop, the Prince of Wales-winning Cryptocloser, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic-winning Volponi. Plus, he is a direct descendant of a Reine De Course mare in Qurrat-Al-Ain. Without a doubt, Algorithms has the makings of a successful racehorse and has already been incredibly impressive. I have a good feeling about him. He may make his next start in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) at Gulfstream Park on February 26.
4. Creative Cause: One of the top juveniles of 2011, this son of Giant’s Causeway looks to maintain his class as a three-year-old. He has raced primarily in southern California, other than his game third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. He has never finished out of the money and his wins in the Best Pal Stakes (GII) and Norfolk Stakes (GI) were very impressive. By a prominent sire capable of producing distance horses in Giant’s Causeway and out of a grade one-winning mare who won four stakes races at one mile or longer, Creative Cause should have no problem with the Derby distance. Trainer Mike Harrington is pointing him towards the San Vicente Stakes (GII) at Santa Anita on February 19.
5. Liaison: One of the most quickly improving colts on the Derby trail, Liaison has only suffered one loss in his career. After finishing third in a Del Mar maiden special weight, he won his next three starts: a maiden special weight at Santa Anita, the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park, and the CashCall Futurity (GI) at Hollywood. In both the Real Quiet and the CashCall Futurity, Liaison held off late runs by Rousing Sermon. Though the other colt was closing impressively, Liaison was determined to hold him off and did so, also galloping out in front. This shows me that he does not want another horse to finish in front of him, which is obviously a very important characteristic. With the late Indian Charlie as his sire, many will doubt Liaison’s ability to get the Derby distance, but through his dam, he traces back to several Belmont Stakes (GI, 12F) winners, such as Victory Gallop, A.P. Indy, Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Native Dancer, Nashua, and Blue Larkspur. In fact, his dam directly traces back to the x-factor (large heart trait) carrier Blue Larkspur (as does Creative Cause’s dam). This colt is royally bred and has plenty of heart. This makes for a deadly combination. Shall he continue his awesome performances, he will likely climb higher on this list. Trainer Bob Baffert is pointing him towards the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (GII) at Santa Anita Park on February 4.
6. Rousing Sermon: This colt has become somewhat of a “wise guy” horse. With impressive closing rallies behind Liaison in his past two starts, Rousing Sermon has shown the potential to become a top colt on the Derby trail. He has already started six times and has not yet finished out of the money. After breaking his maiden and running third in two California-bred stakes, Rousing Sermon was victorious in the Bob Benoit California Cup Juvenile Stakes. He followed up that win with two impressive seconds to Liaison. By a young son of the outstanding sire Pulpit and out of an Awesome Again mare, Rousing Sermon’s pedigree features plenty of successful distance horses that produced horses capable of routing, such as A.P. Indy, Alydar, Northern Dancer, Nearco, and Blushing Groom. Rousing Sermon seems to be coming into his own and once he does, he will be difficult to hold off. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is pointing him towards the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (GII) at Santa Anita on February 4.
7. Out of Bounds: After his win in the Sham Stakes (GIII) over Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint champion Secret Circle, Out of Bounds found his position on many Kentucky Derby watch lists. He was very green in that race and took much urging from Garret Gomez to reach the front. His stride was very choppy, but since he is a very tall, green horse, that is understandable. Like Discreet Dancer, there are doubts about distance in his pedigree due to being sired by the brilliant miler Discreet Cat. However, he is a grandson of the distance-producing Unbridled’s Song and by being a son of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI)-winning Unbridled Elaine, he is a direct descendant of the 1956 Broodmare of the Year, Swoon. He clearly has plenty of talent and a royal pedigree, but he will need to mature a bit. Trainer Eoin Harty is pointing him towards the San Felipe Stakes (GII) at Santa Anita on March 10.
8. Hansen: The fields he faced in his first two starts may not have been as high quality as those at tracks like Saratoga, Santa Anita, or Belmont, but Hansen proved superior, winning them by an outstanding combined winning margin of 25 ½ lengths. Though many doubted him for running at Turfway Park instead of tracks such as the abovementioned ones, he was able to defeat top two-year-olds when it counted most: the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He proved very tough in that race and never gave up, holding off Union Rags to win by a head. In his sophomore debut, the Holy Bull Stakes (GIII), Hansen stumbled out of the gate before setting blazing fractions over a sloppy track. Algorithms blew right past him, leaving the 2011 Champion Two-Year-Old 5 lengths behind in second. Many doubt Tapit’s ability to produce a sophomore capable of routing, but the sire has produced Careless Jewel – winner of the Alabama Stakes (GI, 10F) at three, Concord Point – winner of the West Virginia Derby (GII, 9F) at three, Rattlesnake Bridge – runner-up in the Travers Stakes (GI, 10F) at three, Tapizar – winner of the San Fernando Stakes (GII, 8.5F) at four, and Zazu – winner of the Lady’s Secret Stakes (GI, 8.5) at three. Yet Hansen’s sophomore debut did not help his case for a successful sophomore routing career. He will need to learn how to relax, as setting fast fractions and lasting in the Kentucky Derby is a very difficult thing to do. Still, Hansen definitely has talent and when he’s on the top of his game, he is very difficult to pass. He may be seen next in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) on February 26.
9. Gemologist: In 2009, a WinStar Farm-owned and Todd Pletcher-trained colt won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII) before winning the Kentucky Derby the next year. In 2011, a WinStar Farm-owned and Todd Pletcher-trained colt won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and looks to do the same as the 2009 victor. His name is Gemologist. The son of the two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI)-winning Tiznow is undefeated in three starts, all of which have come in Kentucky. In his Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes victory, Gemologist defeated the highly-touted Ever So Lucky. Another important aspect of his KJCS win was that it was against a large field at Churchill Downs, which gives him a somewhat similar experience to the Kentucky Derby. His pedigree hints that he will have no distance limitations, as his sire, Tiznow, was a successful router and has produced horses of the same ability. Also, he traces back to Native Dancer four times within his pedigree, three times through Northern Dancer. He clearly has sheer talent and an impressive pedigree, but he may need to step it up a notch to be highly competitive on the Derby trail, as his times are not exactly spectacular. His next start is unknown.
1o: Secret Circle: I am not giving up on this colt, who I have followed since his impressive maiden victory at Del Mar. After he won the Jack Goodman Stakes at Santa Anita easily, I saw him win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint in person. It was clear that he had some learning to do, as he desperately needed to learn how to relax. After all, he helped Trinniberg run the first quarter of the Juvenile Sprint in a breathtaking 20.96 seconds. Bob Baffert began working on teaching the colt to relax and took off the blinkers before Secret Circle made his two-turn debut in the Sham Stakes (GIII) at one mile. This time, he settled off the pace before taking the lead as the field turned for home. He ran well, but could not hold off the charge of Out of Bounds. It was a very good learning experience for him and I hope that Baffert will continue trying to route Secret Circle, as the colt is of course by the Pimlico Special (GI, 9.5F)-winning Eddington and out of a Dixieland Band mare. In addition, his fifth, sixth, and seventh dams are all Reine De Course mares. If Secret Circle can continue to learn, he may be able to be ranked higher on this list. Trainer Bob Baffert is pointing him towards the San Vicente Stakes (GII) on February 19. For more on why Union Rags is a top Derby contender, please read my Derby Hopeful article on him by clicking here.
The Kentucky Derby winner's enclosure awaits.
Photo by Mary Cage
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 Florida Sunshine Millions Day

On Saturday, the sun shone down on Hallandale Beach, Florida as top-class Florida-bred horses showed their athleticism and talent in the Florida Sunshine Millions. The Sunshine Millions used to be known as a contest between Florida- and California-bred horses competing with races evenly divided between Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita Park, but in November of 2011, it was announced that California would not be participating. However, the new format of the Sunshine Millions was not disappointing in the least.
Awesome Feather (#4)
Photo: Terri Cage
The fifth race on Gulfstream’s card began the Sunshine Millions and was perhaps the most anticipated of them all: the Distaff. The heavy favorite in the race was the undefeated filly Awesome Feather, who was voted the 2010 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) and won the 2011 edition of the Gazelle Stakes (GI). A personal favorite of mine and a filly I have adored since before her Breeders’ Cup victory, Awesome Feather found herself in a speed duel with Tiz the Argument. Though Delightful Mary seemed to be gaining ground on the undefeated filly, Awesome Feather seemed to be shot out of a cannon as the field turned into the stretch. In jaw-dropping fashion, Awesome Feather crossed the wire 5 ¾ lengths ahead, running her perfect record to nine-for-nine.
The Sunshine Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint Stakes was the next race run over the Hallandale Beach track. The race featured the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint victor and 2011 Champion Female Sprinter, Musical Romance, but it was It’s Me Mom that dominated the race. It looked as if Musical Romance wasn’t firing at all and she began dropping back, but she didn’t give up and found enough within herself to finish fourth despite grabbing a quarter and nearly pulling her shoe off. Instead, it was It’s Me Mom that swept to a 6 ¾-length victory.
The male rendition of the sprint was up next. Soaring Stocks made it two consecutive victories when he crossed the wire a half-length in front in the six-furlong race. Behind him were six stakes winners.
The racing moved to Gulfstream’s grass oval for the Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Stakes, in which Hooh Why closed beautifully to get up under John Velazquez. Possibly most famous for winning the Ashland Stakes (GI) at age three, the six-year-old chestnut mare came from mid-pack to gallop smoothly to victory.
Racing over the same course as the mares just had, the males took command of Gulfstream’s turf course in the Florida Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes. Little Mike showed his heart by prevailing in a spectacular final time of 1:45.94 for nine furlongs. He is now five-for-six over Gulfstream’s turf course.
The final Sunshine Millions event was the Classic. Attracting a strong field of Florida-breds, the race featured four graded stakes winners, including the 2011 Kentucky Derby third-place finisher, Mucho Macho Man. After sitting off Turbo Compressor, the gigantic colt swept to the lead around the far turn and did not look back, drawing off impressively to win for trainer Kathy Ritvo.
The performances of the Florida Sunshine Millions winners were nothing short of spectacular. From the dominant wins by Awesome Feather and It’s Me Mom, to the game victories by Soaring Stocks, Hooh Why, and Little Mike, and to Mucho Macho Man’s stirring Classic triumph, the Florida-breds showed their class and brilliance in the new format of the Sunshine Millions.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Legacy of A.P. Indy

As stallions such as Candy Ride, Curlin, Quality Road, and Shakespeare march toward the breeding shed at Lane’s End Farm this year, a certain stallion will not visit the breeding shed. Instead, he will leave behind a legacy for his offspring to carry on, the same legacy that he has carried on through his Triple Crown-winning sire and grandsire.
A.P. Indy is the result of breeding the best to the best. His sire is the great Seattle Slew, winner of the 1977 Triple Crown and one of the greatest sires to ever live. His dam – a daughter of Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner and arguably the greatest horse to ever look through a bridle – is Weekend Surprise, a multiple graded stakes winner. The year A.P. Indy was born, Weekend Surprise’s first foal – Summer Squall – went undefeated, ending his two-year-old season with a win in the Hopeful Stakes (GI). He would go on to win the Preakness Stakes (GI).
Photo: Terri Cage
When A.P. Indy went to auction as a yearling, high hopes were pinned to him. Not only was he royally bred, but he had beautiful conformation. Lane’s End Farm sold the colt to Japanese entrepreneur Tomonori Tsurumaki for $2.9 million at the 1990 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Tsurumaki named the colt after his automobile racing circuit in Japan, Autopolis, and Indianapolis.
Instead of the colt going to Japan like many expected, he stayed in America and was sent to trainer Neil Drysdale in southern California. A.P. Indy made his first start in August of 1991 at Del Mar, finishing a disappointing fourth.
The disappointing finish was not due to a lack of talent, but rather soreness. It was discovered that A.P. Indy was a ridgling, meaning he had an undescended testicle, which was causing him pain. In order for the colt to run better, it needed to be removed. Normally, a horse in this situation would just be gelded. But with his worth and royal bloodlines, his connections didn’t want to geld him, which would prevent him from reproducing.
Instead, only the undescended testicle was to be removed. The procedure of removing just one testicle while allowing the horse to still be able to reproduce had only been attempted once and the threat of infection or inflammation also loomed.
Fortunately, the procedure worked and a dynasty was saved.
A.P. Indy returned to the track, living up to expectations. By the end of his juvenile career, he had won three races – one of which was the Hollywood Futurity (GI) – and had earned $357,255. He entered his three-year-old campaign with dreams of the Kentucky Derby (GI) in the minds of his connections.
After wins in the San Rafael Stakes (GII) and Santa Anita Derby (GI), A.P. Indy was a leading Derby contender. However, he was withdrawn from the Run for the Roses due to a quarter crack the morning of the race. He skipped the Preakness Stakes (GI) as well, opting for the Peter Pan Stakes (GII) at Belmont Park eight days later instead.
It was a wise decision. The son of A.P. Indy drew off to win by five and one-half lengths, running his winning streak to six in a row. Thirteen days later, he would finally be able to contend in a Triple Crown race: the Belmont Stakes (GI). Sent off as the heavy favorite, A.P. Indy showed his toughness in the mile and one-half race, prevailing by three-quarters of a length in what is currently the third-fastest time for the Belmont: 2:26.13.
A.P. Indy did not start again for over three months. He made his return to the races in the Molson Export Million Stakes (GII) at Woodbine, finishing an uninspiring fifth in a seven-horse field. He continued on towards the Breeders’ Cup, making his final prep in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI). After a terrible stumble at the start, A.P. Indy got up to finish third behind the grade one-winning Pleasant Tap and the Kentucky Derby-winning Strike the Gold.
Following the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Neil Drysdale trainee made his way to Gulfstream Park in Florida for the ninth Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI), which would be the final start of A.P. Indy’s career. After the championship race, A.P. Indy would go to Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky to stand at stud.
Under Eddie Delahoussaye, A.P. Indy impressively drew away from the talented field to win by two lengths in a notable final clocking of 2:00.20 for ten furlongs. Every single horse that finished behind him in the championship race was a grade or group one winner. His accomplishments in 1992 garnered him the prestigious title of Horse of the Year. Nine years later, he would be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
When A.P. Indy arrived at Lane’s End in preparation for his first breeding season, a large question loomed as a result of the surgery that had been performed when he was a two-year-old: Was he fertile?
Photo: Terri Cage
Once that question was answered with a yes, A.P. Indy had many expectations to live up to. He was the son of a successful sire and Triple Crown winner in Seattle Slew and a grandson of possibly the greatest racehorse to ever live in Secretariat. In addition, his dam, a graded stakes winner, had already produced two classic champions and a graded stakes-placed horse from her first three foals.
In his first crop, A.P. Indy sired thirteen stakes winners. One of the horses from his first crop did not start as a two-year-old, but went on to become what many consider to be the first “big horse” sired by A.P. Indy. That horse was Pulpit, who won the Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GII).
Since entering stud in 1993, A.P. Indy has sired twenty-six grade one winners, including Bernardini, Flashing, Mineshaft, Little Belle, Music Note, and Rags to Riches. He is also a sire of sires, having produced several successful sires such as Bernardini, Congrats, Malibu Moon, Mineshaft, Pulpit, and Stephen Got Even.
In April of 2011, A.P. Indy was pensioned from stallion duty, as he was unable to get any of the mares he was bred to last year in foal. There are still offspring of A.P. Indy on the track and some that have not yet raced, but there will never be another A.P. Indy foal born. It is unfortunate to see an end to this great horse’s stud career, but his sons and daughters will continue to expand the dynasty, which has become one of the most royal families in the industry.
I will always greatly admire A.P. Indy and not just for his incredible racing and breeding careers, but also for the presence he has. I have been fortunate enough to be in his presence twice and each time, it was nearly impossible to tear my eyes away from him. While visiting him at Lane’s End, I could tell that the stallion knew he was the king of the farm. Despite being in his twenties when I visited him, A.P. Indy radiated with confidence and class. I have seen many brilliant horses in person, having attended the Breeders’ Cup twice and having visited several of the renowned farms in central Kentucky, and I can honestly say I feel as if A.P. Indy is truly one of the greatest of all of them. He has ‘the look of eagles’ and seems to know just how important he is. Seeing him in person and touching his coat brought light to my eyes and I will forever be thankful that I was able to meet the great A.P. Indy.
Photo: Terri Cage
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Mare Madness

On January 22, one of the most anticipated occurrences of 2011 happened: 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra delivered a colt by 2007 & 2008 Horse of the Year Curlin. The bay colt was born at Stonestreet Farm in Kentucky and once word was announced that the 125-pound foal was born, there was much excitement among the Thoroughbred industry and its fans.
It was also announced that Rachel would be bred in 2012 to the 2006 Champion Three-Year-Old Male Bernardini, who is also famous for being the first stud that 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta was bred to. Also visiting Bernardini in 2012 is 2010 Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Blind Luck. 
As for Zenyatta, the incredible mare is expected to deliver her Bernardini foal at Lane’s End Farm in early March. It has not yet been announced what stallion Zenyatta will be bred to this year.
Many fans – including me – find it remarkable that three of the greatest females to race in the past decade – Blind Luck, Rachel Alexandra, and Zenyatta – will eventually have Bernardini offspring. However, it is not surprising, as Bernardini is a very productive stallion, having sired four group or grade one winners since he entered stud in 2007. He is also one of the most expensive stallions at stud, standing for $150,000.
Here’s to wishing for healthy mares and foals, as well as offspring that will go on to do great things!
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2010 Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Blind Luck
Photo: Terri Cage

2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta
Photo: Terri Cage

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Euroears Says Goodbye to the Track

On April 24, 2010, I stood along the rail at Lone Star Park as the field for the Texas Mile Stakes (GIII) made their way to the saddling paddock. I was familiar with several horses in the field and had seen many of them race before. I’d seen the eventual winner – Mythical Power – win the Lone Star Derby (GIII) the year before. I’d also watched Jonesboro – one of my personal favorites – race several times before, including his win in the 2009 Texas Mile. Also in the field was another personal favorite of mine, King Dan, who was trained by Dallas Keen, who I knew through the rescue he runs with his wife, Donna: Remember Me Rescue.
Photo: Terri Cage
Little did I know, walking towards me along the rail was a horse that would capture my heart forever.  When I set sight on the stocky chestnut, my eyes widened as I realized how beautiful the horse was. The features of his face were very refined, including a bright eye. The white stripe on his face was made unique by two tiny brown spots in the middle of it. He carried himself with extreme class and as he moved past me, I was able to realize how well-built he was. He was a very well-balanced individual, possessing a long, sloping shoulder that allowed him to be evenly divided into thirds and have a shorter topline in relation to a longer underline. He was very muscular, having bulging forearms and gaskins and was wide through the chest and from stifle to stifle. With all of those characteristics plus being structurally correct, the Bret Calhoun trainee was an impeccable individual. I declared Euroears the most beautiful horse I’d ever seen.
Euroears ended up finishing second, crossing the wire just a neck behind the Bob Baffert-trained Mythical Power. With his dazzling beauty and gutsy performance, Euroears had captured my heart.
I saw him about a month later when he finished third in the mile and one-sixteenth Lone Star Park Handicap (GIII). I relished seeing him again, as I knew it was very likely the last time I would see him.
Flash back to three years earlier. Following a nine and one-half length victory in his debut at Lone Star, Euroears wheeled off five more consecutive victories, including wins in the F. W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes, Colonel Power Stakes, and Duncan F. Kenner Stakes at the Fair Grounds. Between those wins and his graded stakes efforts at Lone Star Park in 2010, Euroears won the Thanksgiving Handicap at Fair Grounds. All these races came for trainer Bret Calhoun. His last start for Calhoun came in a disappointing effort in the Firecracker Handicap (GII) on the turf at Churchill Downs.
Photo: Terri Cage
Euroears did not return to the races until January of 2011. He was now in the hands of Bob Baffert in Southern California, where he had fired six bullets in the morning. He made his seven-year-old debut in the Palos Verdes Stakes (GII) at Santa Anita, drawing off to defeat five other talented horses, including the multiple grade one-winning Smiling Tiger, by two and one-quarter lengths. The final time for six furlongs was a dazzling 1:07.23.
His victory was enough to garner him a position in the starting gate in Dubai, where he took on some of the world’s best sprinters in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (GI) in his next start. After setting the pace at Meydan, the chestnut fought valiantly to finish second to the multiple grade one-winning Singapore-based Rocket Man.
Euroears returned to the United States, but did not start again until the end of July, when he made a start in the Bing Crosby Stakes (GI). As usual, the strapping chestnut took the lead immediately and posted blazing fractions. He never looked back as he flew across the synthetic surface, his impressive muscles carrying him with tremendous speed along the track. He earned his first grade one victory by a length and one-quarter, leaving behind him the multiple grade one-winning Smiling Tiger, the eventual 2011 Champion Sprinter Amazombie, and the 2010 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner, Kinsale King. Not only had he impressively defeated several talented sprinters, he had broken the Del Mar track record for six furlongs.
Euroears’ last four starts weren’t exactly up to par. He finished eighth in the Vosburgh Invitational Stakes (GI), in which he was impeded after the start. His effort in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) was very disappointing, as he was never really himself and faded to finish last. He rebounded slightly in the Vernon O. Underwood Stakes (GIII) at Hollywood Park after Thanksgiving, finishing fourth. In his final start, which came today in the Palos Verdes at Santa Anita, he broke poorly and didn't show his usual spark yet again, finishing fourth.
Photo: Terri Cage
Though Euroears’ start in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint was disappointing, I was able to catch my final glimpses of him on the track while he was under the Twin Spires for the championship races. A couple days before the Breeders’ Cup races began, as I was standing along the rail of the clubhouse turn at Churchill Downs, I saw a stocky chestnut jogging towards me. I scrutinized the horse and once I noticed the distinguishable face marking, I screeched Euroears’ name with excitement. The chestnut pricked his ears as he neared me and his exercise rider smiled at me as the pair jogged by. I kept my eyes glued to “my boy” as he jogged down the track. It was a relief to see him again.
Joyfully, I watched other Breeders’ Cup horses jog by, but I was on edge, waiting for Euroears to gallop by. Before long, I caught sight of the copper-colored horse galloping around the clubhouse turn. I fixed my camera on him, my eyes lighting up as he galloped in front of me. A couple days later, I would admire him along the rail one final time as he headed to post in the Sprint.
Euroears has taken me on a journey I never would have imagined a horse would take me on. It’s not often that a horse that dominantly breaks its maiden at my home track – Lone Star – goes on to win a grade one in track record-breaking fashion, let alone race in Dubai or at the Breeders’ Cup. I am very grateful to have seen Euroears in person several times.
He will now stand stud at JEH Stallion Station in Oklahoma and will breed to both Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred mares. Euroears will now live out his days at JEH, which is where he belongs. Jim and Marilyn Helzer – who have owned Euroears since the beginning of his career – founded JEH in 1994. If there is anywhere Euroears should stay for the rest of his life, it’s with the Helzers.
About 150 miles south of the Oklahoma division of JEH Stallion Station is the track that started it all for Euroears: Lone Star Park. Someday, I hope to see sons and daughters there and at other tracks across the world, displaying the same scintillating speed as their sire.
Thanks for the memories, Euroears!

Photo: Terri Cage

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Visiting Remember Me

One of my favorite places in the world is Remember Me Rescue. Nestled on a farm named Keen Farms in Burleson, Texas, Remember Me is known for retraining and rehoming ex-racehorses. Yet, there is more to the farm than just the rescue. It is also home to racehorses needing some rehabilitation, breeding stock, and some great people.
I have visited Remember Me Rescue several times and have enjoyed myself every time. From riding the now twenty-nine-year-old Yeah Me Do (Yammi) bareback and brideless on my first visit, to meeting and adopting my horse Dexter, to meeting and riding the rescued 2001 Texas Horse of the Year Lights on Broadway, and to meeting and riding the amazing King of Speed, some of my greatest memories would not exist without Remember Me Rescue and the three main people that come to my mind when I think of the organization: Lilly Armstrong and Dallas and Donna Keen.
Remember Me Rescue has recently made the headlines because of a heartbreaking horse seizure in Many, Louisiana. They currently have four horses rescued from Many at the farm: O’l Little Mike (Mikey), Straight Eddie (Eddie), Ol Suzie Q (Suzie), and Prince Alyzig (Kipper).
Those four horses were on my mind when my mom pulled up to Keen Farms on Monday. Yet, though those four were in the vanguard, there were several other horses on my mind, including Lights on Broadway, Yammi, King of Speed, Future Covenant, and Hy Danger.
From left to right: Lilly, Peace, Beau, King,
and Rio (below King)
Photo: Terri Cage
After visiting with Donna’s beautiful pony horse, Wyatt, my mom and I then headed down to the barn, where we met up with Lilly. The three of us – and the official greeter of Remember Me, an adorable dog named Rio – made our way to one of the back paddocks, where we visited King of Speed, Perfect Peace, and Heather’s Prince (Beau). In order to get the horses to do more than stand around, my mom used an app on her phone that made the sound of a whinny. Lilly grabbed the phone, taking off across the pasture. My mom and I couldn’t help but laugh as we watched Lilly, Rio, and the three geldings run across the pasture.
For several minutes, Speed, Peace, and Beau galloped and pranced along the fenceline. Before long, the whole farm was joining in. In the closest paddock, Lights on Broadway and his pasture buddies did the same. Down by the barn, horses pranced in the pens and the yearlings frolicked in their pasture. All this chaos was caused by an iPhone app that makes a whinnying noise.
After we let ourselves out of the paddock, we stopped along the fenceline of the next one over. Lights ambled over to us and we fed him some rich green grass. The beautiful chestnut gelding nuzzled against me, rubbing his velvety nose on my hand. As we headed back down to the barn, I stopped to visit Yammi, affectionately giving the near-white gelding attention.
We continued making our rounds, visiting the horses in the pens behind the barn before walking into the barn. I stopped outside of Future Covenant’s stall, rubbing the chestnut’s soft face as he let his head hang over the stall door. I stood outside his stall for several minutes, reminiscing on when I’d watched the gelding brilliantly win at Santa Anita on HRTV. He’d suffered an injury in the race, which is why he is currently on stall rest, but he also won a large bottle of Grey Goose vodka that raised $1,000 for Remember Me. Future Covenant is not just a winner of three races, but he is a contributor to Remember Me. Not to mention he’s one of my favorite horses on the farm because of his endearing personality.

Hy Danger
Photo: Terri Cage

While in the barn, I paid a visit to my favorite newly-turned two-year-old, Hy Danger, who is out of a half-sister to the multiple group stakes-winning Strong Suit. The colt, who I have always thought resembles Zenyatta, stood at the front of his stall. I approached him, allowing him to sniff my hand before I reached up to rub his nose. When I moved my hand with the intention of stroking his neck, the colt flinched, jerking his head away. I murmured reassuringly to him, allowing him to sniff at my hand yet again. I stroked his head comfortingly while whispering to him and slowly, I moved my hand closer to his neck. Before I knew it, Hy Danger was allowing me to pet his neck without a problem.
As Lilly headed to the front paddock to bring Wyatt to the barn, my mother and I visited two of the yearlings in a nearby paddock. The chilly wind was picking up, but I stood along the fence and tickled the silky muzzles of the youngsters despite it.

Brushing Mikey
Photo: Terri Cage

Then it was time to visit with the horses that had arrived from Many, Louisiana. Though they were all either newly-turned two-year-olds or three-year-olds, they looked like skinny yearlings. We first led Mikey out of his pen and as Lilly held the chestnut colt, I brushed his copper-colored coat, admiring his long, thick forelock. The colt had an extremely sweet personality and stood serenely as I groomed him and also later as I allowed him to graze.
The next colt we brought out was Kipper. The bay two-year-old grazed calmly, relishing the green grass as Lilly held him. Just like Mikey, Kipper had a very kind personality.
We then brought out Suzie, who had been attempted to be saddled in Many by trainer Bill Young, who laughed when he told the story of her running loose for two days when she was saddled. There is physical proof along her withers and topline – white hairs and saddle sores – and also evidence in her apprehensiveness. When my mom and sister had visited the horses a few days earlier, Suzie hadn’t even been brave enough to eat grass. This time, though, she grazed contentedly while Lilly held her.
Eddie with Dallas Keen
Photo: Terri Cage
Donna and Dallas soon arrived – just in time for the most difficult horse of the four to be brought out. Dallas led Eddie out into the open and I looked on as the trainer worked with the three-year-old. Just a few days prior, the gangly colt had given Donna much trouble and had taken hours to finally begin to show signs of trust. Yet the malnourished colt had changed since then and was much more willing this time around. It was as if Eddie is beginning to realize he is in much better hands now.
Mikey, Kipper, Suzie, and Eddie are some of the lucky ones involved in the Many, Louisiana seizure. Over sixty horses were involved and more than twenty-five did not survive. Now that these four are at Remember Me Rescue, they have bright futures ahead of them.  Before long, they will nearly fit in with the rest of the horses on the Burleson farm. Every single horse that resides at Keen Farms receives the care every horse should get. Not only are Lilly and the Keens incredible at working with horses, but they have an immense love for the animal. When these four horses were under the “care” of owner Charles Ford and trainer Bill Young, they were not receiving the right care. But now, they will get the kind of care every horse deserves and each horse on the Keens’ farm receives: plenty of TLC.

To hear Charles Ford's story, click here.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Agave Kiss: One Sensational Filly

Many horses are criticized for running solely against state-bred company, no matter how dominant they are. Agave Kiss faced criticism of the same sort after her first two starts, but as of Saturday, she no longer has to face that denunciation.
In her first start, I watched on HRTV as the stunning chestnut filly dominated a field of New York-bred juvenile fillies on New York Showcase Day in her debut. After leading from start to finish, the daughter of Lion Heart drew away from the field, crossing the wire 6 ¼ lengths ahead of the others despite the fact that jockey Ryan Curatolo was barely asking her.
She made her next start at the beginning of December, appearing in a six-furlong allowance for state-bred juvenile fillies. Yet again, she never looked back and led from start to finish to win by 10 ½ lengths.
I was very excited about the filly. I knew she had only been running against state-bred company, but as dominant as she was against New York-breds, it seemed as if she definitely had a shot at being competitive against open company.
She made that leap in her three-year-old debut, which was the Ruthless Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday. Over six furlongs on the inner track, Agave Kiss led from start to finish and yet again, she did not stop there. She accelerated under Curatolo, drawing away in hand to win by 3 ¼ lengths.
By Haskell Invitational Handicap (GI) and Hollywood Futurity (GI) winner and Kentucky Derby (GI) runner-up, Lion Heart, and out of the stakes-winning Salty Romance, Agave Kiss is a half-sister to the stakes-placed Luxury Appeal. Of the three foals bred on the same cross as Agave Kiss (Salt Lake mares bred to Lion Heart), all three have been winners. Together, the three have earned $139,036.
Agave Kiss is now a perfect three-for-three with a total winning margin of 20 lengths. With only three starts under her belt, Agave Kiss is obviously very inexperienced. Just imagine how good she could be with even more experience.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Derby Hopeful: Discreet Dancer

In 2011, I posted “Juvenile Spotlights” about two-year-olds I had followed since early on in their careers. Now that it’s 2012, everyone’s focus is on the Kentucky Derby. Some horses from past Juvenile Spotlights will be featured, as well as additional horses on the Derby trail.
Of all the three-year-old colts I’ve seen, Discreet Dancer is one of the most impressive to me. A colt that I picked to win his maiden race off of pedigree the day before it was run, Discreet Dancer has impressed many.
In his first start, which was a maiden special weight for Florida-bred juveniles at Gulfstream Park, Discreet Dancer was sent off at odds of 0.70-1. After a decent start, jockey Javier Castellano urged the Todd Pletcher trainee to battle for the lead. The chestnut colt took the lead with about three-eighths left in the race and didn’t look back. His lead only grew from there and with hardly any asking from Castellano, Discreet Dancer accelerated as the horses entered the homestretch. He was ridden briskly in the stretch, but Castellano’s urging was clearly just a method of teaching the colt to continue running. The E. Paul Robsham homebred crossed the wire 9 ¾ lengths ahead of the others with a final time of 1:02.34, which was a new track record for five and one-half furlongs. He completed the final sixteenth in an imposing 5.88 seconds.
Discreet Dancer made his second start and three-year-old debut on January 7 in an allowance optional claiming race for three-year-olds at Gulfstream. Not only was he facing winners and open company for the first time, but he was stretching out to the one mile distance. However, he did not struggle with the new conditions. He broke well from the outside and went to the lead under Javier Castellano. He settled well, running the first quarter mile in 24.19. He began to draw away from the field as the newly-turned three-year-olds swept into the far turn, moving effortlessly under Castellano. With slight urging from the jockey, the chestnut colt drew off effortlessly.
“There’s no telling how good he is!” track announcer Larry Collmus exclaimed just before Discreet Dancer flashed under the wire with 5 ½ lengths separating him and the others in a final time of 1:36.32.
Collmus was completely right. Discreet Dancer has been incredibly impressive, but he has not yet faced stakes company. Yet, going off his past performances and pedigree, he should fare well. After all, if his connections want to take him to the Kentucky Derby (GI), he must have enough graded stakes earnings.
Many believe his pedigree will give him distance limitations. However, there is plenty in his pedigree that suggests he can stretch out in distance. Though his sire, Discreet Cat, was predominantly successful at a mile, Discreet Cat’s sire, Forestry, sired the 2011 Preakness Stakes (GI, 9.5F) winner in Shackleford. Through his sire, Discreet Dancer traces back to several sires capable of producing talented distance horses, such as Storm Cat, Private Account, and Pleasant Colony.
Discreet Dancer’s dam, West Side Dancer, has also produced the graded stakes-winning Travelin Man. Though the longest distance West Side Dancer ever won at was seven furlongs, West Side Dancer is a half-sister to Lieutenant Danz, a multiple stakes-placed horse whose maximum winning distance was nine furlongs.
The sire of West Side Dancer is the influential Gone West, who was successful at distances over one mile. The son of Mr. Prospector won three graded stakes races at one mile or longer. He also sired many talented distance horses, such as Pacific Classic (GI, 10 furlongs)-winning Came Home, Belmont Stakes (GI, 12 furlongs)-winning Commendable, Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI, 12 furlongs)-winning Johar, and Pattison Canadian International Stakes (GI, 12 furlongs)- and Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (GI, 12 furlongs)-winning Marsh Side. In addition, he is the grandsire of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Smarty Jones.
Through his dam, Discreet Dancer traces back to many influential sires such as Danzig, Alydar, and Buckpasser. He is inbred to Secretariat 5 X 4, to Raise a Native 4 X 5, to Northern Dancer 5 X 4, and to Buckpasser 5 X 5.
The colt also has the build of an athlete. Despite being inexperienced, Discreet Dancer carries himself with extreme class. He is a very well-balanced individual, having a sloping shoulder that causes him to be very evenly balanced and therefore have a shorter topline in correlation to a longer underline. He also possesses impressive muscularity, as he is wide through the chest and from stifle to stifle.
If Discreet Dancer can prove that he can stretch out and face the best competition, he will be extremely dangerous. He definitely has an impressive pedigree, beautiful conformation, and sheer talent. He has several different tests to pass, but if he is able to pass those tests, he will be something special.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Making an Effort to Keep the Horses Safe (Many, Louisiana Horse Seizure)

Still teary-eyed from hearing about the experience my friend, Donna Keen, recently underwent, I felt that I needed to get the word out about the unhappy endings some horses face after life on the track. Plenty of rescue organizations – such as the Keens’ non-profit foundation, Remember Me Rescue – aid in saving these horses, but there are too many horses that go without being rescued. Donna’s experience over the second weekend of January dealt with horses that had gone too long without any help.
Trainer Bill young described this mare
as, "Not that bad,"
She will be coming to Remember Me.
Photo: Donna Keen
In Many, Louisiana, there was a reported 60-horse (though there were more) seizure for which Charles Ray Ford, a man in his mid-forties who was a Thoroughbred owner and breeder based in Many, has been arrested for. He is being charged with animal cruelty.
The Louisiana Horse Rescue Association directed a huge rescue effort alongside Remember Me and LSU’s Veterinary School’s Equine Response Team at the Many, Louisiana ranch. Upon their arrival, those helping the horses saw Thoroughbreds in horrific shape. They were badly malnourished, had terrible cases of diarrhea, had hair that was encrusted with dirt and waste, had sores covering their body, and were just in overall bad shape. There were also dogs, pigs, and goats on the premises.
More than twenty-five horses did not survive. Over fifty horses were removed from the premises and transferred to better care.
This mare will be up for
adoption after evaluation.
Photo: Donna Keen
Remember Me Rescue and other horse rescues will be taking care of these horses, rehabilitating them before rehoming them. Meanwhile, it costs about $450 per day to take care of these rescued horses. Any money donated will directly go to the horses that are in the care of the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association and Remember Me Rescue.
Some of these horses involved in the seizure had recently run. Yet no one – except those who lived near the ranch – would know that these horses had ended up in such bad care. In a recent blog post in Horse Racing Nation’s Blogger Wars, it was addressed that Equibase tracks when a horse works out, races, and who its connections are as of its last start and that occasionally one can find information on However, Equibase does not chronicle private sales or where a horse is currently stabled. This information would have been useful in the case of the Many, Louisiana horse seizure. The horses could have been rescued sooner or possibly never would have ended up in the terrible situation they were in in the first place. Many lives could have been saved.
I applaud connections who allow racing fans to know where their stars, especially geldings, are going after their racing careers are over. For example, Funny Cide – the gelding who won the 2003 Kentucky Derby (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) – lives out his days at the Kentucky Horse Park and it was announced that Mine That Bird – the gelding who won the 2009 Kentucky Derby – would retire to Double Eagle Ranch in New Mexico.
However, there are way too many horses whose disappearances go unnoticed. One that is dear to my heart is Littleshu, who is a full brother to my ex-racehorse, Dexter. The gray gelding made his last racing appearance in May of 2010, finishing last in a maiden claiming race at Tampa Bay Downs. There is no record of where he is now.
We as an industry need to step it up for the welfare of what makes horse racing the sport it is: the horses. Too many situations like the one in Many, Louisiana have happened or are happening. More databases need to record the current being and location of horses and connections should keep their horses’ information up-to-date on websites such as Pedigree Query. This could save the lives of many horses. And where would the sport be without horses? Nowhere.

To hear Charles Ford's story, click here.

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