Week of April 23, 2012
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
It was a quiet weekend on the 2012 Kentucky Derby front but Wise Dan closed out the weekend with a win that reminded everyone that the Kentucky Derby isn’t the only game in town.
Keeneland saw much of last week’s stakes action starting on Thursday when Dayatthespa brought her 2012 record to 3-3 in the Grade 3 Appalachian Stakes (chart). Nothing specific is picked out for yet for the victress but according to trainer Chad Brown she’ll go back to her home base of New York and they’ll “see what’s there for her.” On Friday Pachattack dueled with Kathmanblu to win the Grade 3 Doubledogdare Stakes (chart) in her first race since her third place finish the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (chart). Kathmanblu was also making her first start of the year.
On Saturday All Squared Away pulled a stunning 71-1 upset in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes (chart) for his new connections. According to trainer Wesley Ward in the post-race interview (video, interview starts about 1:45), the Bellamy Road gelding has flourished since arriving at Keeneland from California and jockey Julio Garcia said he’s been great in the morning. Apparently they were the only ones not surprised by the win with the exception of Ed DeRosa, Director of Marketing for Brisnet.com, who touted him before the race! In the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes (chart) at Aqueduct The Lumber Guy made the most of his return to 7-furlongs, taking the field wire to wire. In a post-race interview trainer Mike Hushion said that they would look to stretch him out again. Apparently second place Brigand lost a shoe during the race, according to trainer Bob Baffert.
California Flag, winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, kicked off his 8-year-old campaign with a win in the Grade 3 San Simeon Stakes (chart) at Santa Anita. He’s run in the BC Turf Sprint since its inauguration in 2008, winning only once during the last running at 6 1/2 furlongs (the current distance is 5 1/2 furlongs). According to his trainer Brian Koriner the speedy gelding will be raced sparingly this year with his next start likely to be the Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar on July 29. His goal is to make his fifth consecutive appearance in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint this year. In the Santa Barbara Handicap (chart) Capital Plan scored her first stakes on the stretch-out to her preferred distance of 1 1/4 or longer. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said that her next stop will probably bee the 1 3/8 Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Belmont Park on May 26.
On Sunday Wise Dan made a smashing return with a 10 1/2-length win in the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes (chart) at Keeneland that set a new stakes and track record. The most impressive thing (at least to this observer) was not that the amount of lengths but that he was under heavy restraint by jockey John Velazquez for at least half of the race and then opened up with ease. The next stop will be the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 16.
Update: On Monday afternoon Fox Hill Farms, owner of Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, announced that the reigning Horse of the Year would be retired. Rick Porter explained on the Fox Hill Farms website that she came out of a workout with an injury. It was also announced that the champ will either be sold privately or put up for auction. You can grab Havre de Grace’s Lifetime Past Performance at our 2011 Eclipse Awards page.
On the 2012 Kentucky Derby front, Secret Circle is out, Trinniberg is in and Isn’t He Clever was transferred to the Steve Asmussen barn. For the next two weeks all eyes will be on morning gallops and workouts as the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders put in their final preparations. Sunday gallopers included Hansen, Optimizer, Dullahan, Bodemeister and Mark Valeski. Monday workers include Daddy Nose Best, Sabercat, Mark Valeski and Believe You Can. Bodemeister is scheduled to work Tuesday at Churchill with Liason working either Tuesday or Wednesday. Liaison will only enter the Derby if trainer Bob Baffert feels he is training well at Churchill. You can check out this pdf from the Churchill Downs Communications Department for a full schedule of Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders workout and travel schedules.
On Monday the Daily Racing Form’s Mike Welsch resumes his semi-annual Clocker Report bringing you his observations of the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders as they gallop and work at Churchill Downs. Be sure to check out our Primer on Workouts before hand! You’ll also want to be sure to check out our post on mining Derby data entitled Geek Out: Mining Derby Data.
And finally, at Raceday 360 we’ve made it easy for you to follow all the running commentary about your favorite contenders. Come on over and discover all the ways to keep up with your favorite contenders!
Be sure to grab free 2012 Kentucky Derby and 2012 Kentucky Oaks Contenders Past Performances from Brisnet.com, our preferred past performance provider.
Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker
See you at the track!