Showdown at Los Alamitos: Dortmund Faces Mr. Z in G1 Futurity Saturday

Dortmund prepared for Saturday's G1 Futurity at Santa Anita

Dortmund prepared at Santa Anita for Saturday’s G1 Futurity at Los Alamitos

Dortmund, a winner of his two starts by a combined 12 ½ lengths and favorite among the individual entries in the Kentucky Derby Future Bet, and Mr. Z, runner-up in four of his six graded stakes appearances, will square off in the Grade I, $500,000-guaranteed Los Alamitos Futurity Saturday, Dec. 20 at Los Alamitos.

Scheduled at 1 1/16 miles, the Futurity will be run for the first time at Los Alamitos after being offered as the Hollywood Futurity (1981-2006) and CashCall Futurity (2007-2013) at Hollywood Park, which discontinued live racing last Dec. 22. Won in Inglewood by future stars such as Snow Chief, A.P. Indy, Best Pal, Real Quiet, Point Given, Lookin At Lucky and Shared Belief, the Futurity winner earns 10 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points towards securing a spot in the starting gate next May 2 at Churchill Downs.

Owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc. and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Dortmund was… Read the rest of this entry >>

Saturday Menu: A Rundown of the Top Races

Horses generic#8This is typically the slowest race weekend of the year what with everyone taking time off for the holidays. But there are a couple of competitive races on the docket for Saturday that you can try to keep sharp with your handicapping and get out of the shopping, gift wrapping or Christmas tree decorating.

Here’s your weekly rundown of the best races running on Saturday with a few others sprinkled in to fill out the light schedule. Let’s face it, it beats watching a couple of 6-6 college teams go at it to start the college bowl season and who doesn’t need an excuse to get out of the shopping wars at your neighborhood mall.

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California Chrome, Shared Belief, Bayern Get in Works This Week

California Chrome with regular rider, Victor Expinoza in the saddle

California Chrome with regular rider, Victor Expinoza in the saddle

By Jim Charvat

For the second time since his victory in the G1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar, California Chrome put in a work at Los Alamitos Friday. The Kentucky Derby winner went four furlongs in :49 on a track that was cleared just for him. Regular rider Victor Espinoza was aboard for the work which included an opening quarter of 24.3

Assistant trainer, Alan Sherman, told Bloodhorse.com that the work was just what they were looking for and Los Alamitos clocker, Russ Hudak said ‘Chrome’ was “going easy, just stretching his legs.”

It’s just another step toward California Chrome’s 2015 debut in the G2 San Antonio at Santa Anita. The 1 1/8 mile test on the main track will be run… Read the rest of this entry >>

Travis Stone Named New Track Announcer at Churchill Downs

Travis Stone will be the new voice of the Kentucky Derby

Travis Stone will be the new voice of the Kentucky Derby. Photo Reed Palmer

By Darren Rogers

Travis Stone, the race-caller at Monmouth Park in 2014 and backup announcer at the New York Racing Association this winter, has been named the new track announcer at Churchill Downs Racetrack.

Stone, 30, will describe the racing action for Churchill Downs’ on- and off-track audiences when racing returns to the legendary Louisville track for the 2015 Spring Meet on Saturday, April 25. He becomes only the eighth announcer in Churchill Downs’ storied history, and will succeed Larry Collmus, who departed after one year for an opportunity to call races at NYRA which offers a significantly larger number of racing dates. Collmus will continue to call the Kentucky Derby for NBC.

Listen and Watch: A Compilation of Travis Stone Race Calls

“It is truly an honor to become the new voice of Churchill Downs and to join a community that shares my passion and enthusiasm for this wonderful sport,” Stone said. “The opportunity to call the Kentucky Derby and all of the prestigious races at Churchill Downs is a dream come true. I am already counting the days!”    Read the rest of this entry >>

Beholder Update: Back With Mandella at Santa Anita, To Start Training Soon

Mike Smith hopes to ride Beholder again in 2015 though with Gary Stevens riding again, he  may not.

Mike Smith hopes to ride Beholder again in 2015 though with Gary Stevens riding again, he may not.

By Jim Charvat

It’s been a rough six months for Beholder, but things may be turning around for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Distaff champ. She has returned to Richard Mandella’s barn at Santa Anita where they will give her a thorough once-over before sending her up to a farm in Chico where she can begin training again.

Mandella told the Paulick Report that he plans to take a couple of days “looking her over” and they will x-ray her lungs to make sure they’re okay. Beholder spiked a 104-degree fever the week of the Breeders’ Cup, forcing her connections to scratch her from the Distaff and then pull her from the Fasig-Tipton November Sale at Keeneland. She was turned-out at Peacefield Farm in Temecula, Ca. where she has been until this week when she arrived at Santa Anita on Wed.

Next week, Beholder will be shipped up to a facility run by Julie Adair in Chico where she will begin trotting and working herself back into shape. Mandella said he expects she’ll be fine though he acknowledged that, if she is not, “we’ll regroup.”     Read the rest of this entry >>

Untapable Settles Down For a Long Winter Break at the Fairgrounds

Untapable will winter at the Fairgrounds and prepare for her 2015 campaign.

Untapable will winter at the Fairgrounds and prepare for her 2015 campaign.

By Jim Charvat

Untapable will winter at the Fairgrounds in New Orleans where she will get some much deserved R&R and prepare for the 2015 season. Her first order of business will be to accept her Eclipse Award for top 3-year old filly which is expected to come her way in January. At one point the duaghter of Tapit was mentioned in the Horse of the Year discussion but that appears to have waned over the past couple of weeks since the Breeders’ Cup.

She certainly put up some impressive performances in 2014 and her return next year will be highly anticipated. Trainer Steve Asmussen has yet to decide on a schedule for his prized filly. Winchell Thorooughbreds racing manager, David Fiske told Bloodhorse.com that they will let her tell them when she’s ready to roll. He… Read the rest of this entry >>

Tom Durkin to Receive An Eclipse Award at This Year’s Ceremony

Tom Durkin will receiver the Eclipse Award of Merit for his lifetime contributions to the sport of horse racing

Tom Durkin will receive the Eclipse Award of Merit for his lifetime contributions to the sport of horse racing. Photo by Adam Coglianese

Tom Durkin, longtime voice of the New York Racing Association tracks, the Breeders’ Cup and the Triple Crown, will be honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in the Thoroughbred industry.

Durkin, 64, who retired on August 30 at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., after a 43-year-career, will be presented the Award of Merit at The 44th Annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony on Saturday, January 17 at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

“This is quite an honor and quite a surprise,” said Durkin upon learning the news. “The award has never been given to a track announcer before, and to be singled out when you consider all of the great announcers who preceded me like Fred Capossela, Joe Hernandez, Chick Anderson and Dave Johnson, this is quite a distinction. Getting my first job… Read the rest of this entry >>

Tonalist, Lubash Make 2014 Year to Remember For Clement Stable

Christophe Clement called his stable's 2014, great with Tonalist's win in the Belmont the highlight

Christophe Clement called his stable’s 2014, great with Tonalist’s win in the Belmont the highlight

By Najja Thompson

“Life is good,” is a phrase you’ll often hear from trainer Christophe Clement. In 2014, life was very good for Clement, who is wrapping up his most successful year since setting out on his own in 1991.

Watch: The Clement Stable’s Video Recap of 2014

The words not only accurately describe his current state of affairs, but as well his journey through life and daily disposition. It may sound like a cliché to some, but from the French born Clement it is genuine, and earned from many years of hard work and a dedication to doing things the right way.

Already known and respected for his prowess on the turf, a stellar dirt campaign led by 3-year-old Tonalist, further enhanced Clement’s reputation and proved his ability to win on the biggest stages on any surface. A son of Tapit, Tonalist captured two Grade 1 races on the New York Racing Association circuit, including Clement’s first Classic victory in the Belmont Stakes, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational.    Read the rest of this entry >>

American Pharoah Update: Not Expected Back to the Races Until March

American Pharoah will start jogging after the 1st of the year.

American Pharoah will start jogging after the 1st of the year.

By Jim Charvat

American Pharoah’s recovery from a foot injury that prevented him from running in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, continues at Santa Anita. He tack walks everyday and trainer Bob Baffert told Jay Privman of DRF.com that he plans to start jogging his colt after the first of the year.

Baffert said he doesn’t plan to race American Pharoah until March but that he plans to give the son of Pioneerof The Nile “a few outs” before the Derby. Key Derby preps in March include the San Felipe on March 7th at Santa Anita or, if Baffert decides to ship American Pharoah out of Southern California, there’s always the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 13th. It would not be the first time Baffert took a Derby hopeful to Oaklawn. Last year it was Hoppertunity and three years ago, Bodemeister.

There are also the G3 Tampa Derby at Tampa Bay Downs and the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, both on March 7th, but those would seem unlikely. There’s also the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 28th but that’s late in the month and would be pushing the notion of getting at least a couple of preps into American Pharoah before the first Saturday in May.     Read the rest of this entry >>

Handicapping 101: Lesson #1 – The “Form to Level” Angle

Horses generic#11This is the first of a series of articles dealing with the art of handicapping horse races. This is not designed to tell you who to pick, but to show you different techniques you can apply to your handicapping. So, whether you’re just starting out playing the game or you’ve been playing for years, we hope you will be able to take a little something from these tutorials.

The advice in this column is intended to ‘help’ you reach your final decision by showing you certain handicapping angles that have been proven reliable over the years. Are they full proof ? Never. Anyone who has… Read the rest of this entry >>