Ben’s Cat Named Maryland Horse of the Year For 4th Time

Now at 9, Ben's Cat rules the roost in Maryland

Now at 9, Ben’s Cat rules the roost in Maryland

Call him “four-time Maryland-bred Horse of the Year” Ben’s Cat, as King T. Leatherbury’s immensely popular and ageless gelding earned top honors once again, as well as divisional titles for champion older male, sprinter and turf runner, in the annual poll conducted by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.

Bred, owned and trained by Leatherbury, Ben’s Cat is by far the most decorated state-bred in awards history, with a total of 13 divisional titles in addition to those for Horse of the Year. He has been named champion turf runner five straight years, older male since 2011, and top sprinter four of the past five years. The dark son of Parker’s Storm Cat returned last year at age 8 to compete exclusively in stakes, won four times, with two seconds and a… Read the rest of this entry >>

Jose Ortiz: Rider of Upstart Gets Days For Incident in G2 Fountain of Youth

Jose Ortiz

Jose Ortiz

By Jim Charvat

It’s been a rough couple of days for jockey Jose Ortiz.

First he rides Derby hopeful, Upstart, to an apparent victory in the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park Saturday, only to be taken down in a controversial disqualification and placed second.

Now, Thursday he learns that the Gulfstream Park stewards have given him 3-days for the bumping incident that led to the disqualification.

Ortiz and Upstart won the race by nearly three lengths despite being bumped hard by a tiring Frosted, the momentum of the contact… Read the rest of this entry >>

Wicked Strong Eyes G2 Gulfstream Park Handicap For 2015 Debut

Wicked Strong schools inthe paddock Wednesday (2-25) as his 2015 debut gets closer.

Wicked Strong schools in the paddock Wednesday (2-25) as his 2015 debut gets closer.

Wicked Strong, winner of the 2014 Wood Memorial (G1) and Jim Dandy (G2), is targeting the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) on March 7 as his 4-year-old debut, according to trainer Jimmy Jerkens.

The son of Hard Spun has not raced since clipping heels, stumbling, and unseating jockey Rajiv Maragh in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) last September. The colt, who also finished second by a nose to stablemate V. E. Day in the Travers (G1), appeared to be full of run at the time of the incident but never got a chance to prove himself that day. Following the race, having not been able to get all that he could have out of his potential Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) prep, the colt was given the rest of the year off, his connections opting to focus on a 2015 campaign.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Light the City, Enchanted Lady Highlight Oaks Prep at Santa Anita Saturday

Light the City ran off with the Anoakia Stakes then missed by half a length in the G1 Las Virgenes last out

Light the City seen here running off with the Anoakia Stakes in Oct., missed by half a length in the G1 Las Virgenes last out

There are no Kentucky Derby preps this weekend, so our attention can turn to the ladies and the lone Saturday prep for the Kentucky Oaks, the G3 Santa Ysabel at Santa Anita

Jerry Hollendorfer’s Light the City, Bob Baffert’s comebacking stakes winner, Enchanting Lady, and trainer Jeff Bonde’s Rattataptap head a competitive field of nine 3-year-old fillies in Saturday’s mile and one sixteenth event.

Light the City, one of three Hollendorfer entrants, stalked the pace in the G1 Las Virgenes and missed by a half length in her first try around two turns at odds of 7-1. A first-out maiden special weight winner going six furlongs on Aug. 24 at Del Mar, Light the City took Santa Anita’s six furlong Anoakia Stakes in her next start on Oct. 12. A Kentucky-bred filly by Street Sense, she was a well beaten fifth as the 5-2 favorite two starts back in the G2…  Read the rest of this entry >>

Take Charge Brandi May Test the Boys in G2 Rebel Next Month

Willis Horton, owner of Take Charge Brandi will talk to trainer D.Wayne Lukas about running against the boys next month

Willis Horton, owner of Take Charge Brandi will talk to trainer D.Wayne Lukas about running against the boys next month

There’s some doubt now whether or not Take Charge Brandi will run in the G3 Honeybee at Oaklawn, a race for 3-year old fillies and a prep for the Kentucky Oaks.

The champion 2-year old filly is “50-50” to make her next start in the $150,000 Grade 3 race on March 7, according to the 3-year-old filly’s owner. Willis Horton of Marshall, Ark. said early Wednesday afternoon his preference is for Take Charge Brandi to challenge the boys in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14. 

The 1 1/16-mile Rebel is expected to attract American Pharoah, the country’s champion 2-year-old male last year, and The Truth Or Else, runner-up in Sunday’s $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3). Take Charge Brandi won an Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old filly, and the Rebel would be her first race against males.    Read the rest of this entry >>

Fatal Barn Fire Kills 6 Horses on Farm Owned by Former SD Padres Owner

John Moores, former SD Padres owner,  owns Chanteclair Farm where the fatal barn fire took place Wed. morning

John Moores, former SD Padres owner, owns Chanteclair Farm where the fatal barn fire took place Wed. morning

Six horses have died in an early morning barn fire at a farm owned by former San Diego Padres owner, John Moores. It is not known if any of the horses were thoroughbreds. Two barns were destroyed on the farm in Versailles, Kentucky, one that houses horses, the other was filled with hay.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that firefighters were called out to the farm at six o’clock Wednesday morning. Fire Chief, John Varnier told the Herald-Leader that when they arrived the barn that housed the horses was already on the ground and the heat from that fire ignited the second barn.

The two barns were about 40-to-50 feet apart. The closest fire hydrant on Midway Road was… Read the rest of this entry >>

Take Charge Brandi, “All Others” Top Kentucky Oaks Future Wager

Take Charge Brandi is working on a four race win streak that includes the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly

Take Charge Brandi is working on a four race win streak that includes the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly

By John Asher

Streaking Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Take Charge Brandi is a narrow choice as the favored individual horse, but the ever-popular Mutuel Field (#24), or “All Other 3-Year-Old Fillies,” will again be a solid favorite in the morning line odds for Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (“KOFW”), which opens a three-day run on Friday, Feb. 27 and concludes on Sunday, March 1.

Click for KOFW Real Time Odds starting Friday

The pre-race picture is murky heading into this year’s 141st running of the… Read the rest of this entry >>

Mike Luzzi Named Winner of 2015 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award

Luzzi-Michael-2005-657x909Mike Luzzi, America’s Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey in 1989, has been named the winner of the 2015 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award by a nationwide vote of his peers.

A 45-year-old native of Wilmington, Delaware, Luzzi has stood the test of time and has enjoyed a highly successful career riding primarily in the Mid-Atlantic region, Maryland and New York. It is expected that Luzzi will travel west to Santa Anita to accept the award in either March or April.

Sidelined due to a broken leg and fractured pelvis sustained in a paddock accident at Aqueduct on Nov. 2, Luzzi outpolled four other finalists; James Graham, Leslie Mawing, Corey Nakatani and the recently retired Rosie Napravnik.

Presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950, the Woolf Award is one of the most highly coveted honors in all of racing as it recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for both the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.   Read the rest of this entry >>

15-Days Between Starts Rule Discontinued at Aqueduct

Aqueduct will no longer require horses to take 15-days off between starts

Aqueduct will no longer require horses to take 15-days off between starts

A controversial rule put in place by the NYRA at the first of the year in an effort to stop the rash of fatal breakdowns at Aqueduct, has been abandoned.

The New York Racing Association has announced it will discontinue the temporary rule mandating 15 days between starts for horses competing at Aqueduct Racetrack, effective with the entries of March 5.

“Aqueduct operates under some unique circumstances, and equine welfare will always be the top of our concerns,” said Martin Panza, Senior Vice-President of Racing Operations for the New York Racing Association. “This rule served a purpose through a difficult period of time. We appreciate the understanding and support of our horsemen.”

The 15-day rule got off to a bad start when in the first days of it being implemented, several races were… Read the rest of this entry >>

Kentucky Derby Point Standings: Week of 2-23-15

derby rosesBy Jim Charvat

A lot of movement at the top this week after a busy weekend of Derby preps across the country. Some major shuffling throughout the top ten and some new shooters join the group as well.

Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to take a look at how the Kentucky Derby Points Standings shake out. G2 Risen Star winner, International Star, is now the lone leader at the top of the leaderboard.

The rewards increased on Saturday, so the 50-points International Star picked up… Read the rest of this entry >>

Far Right Rallies Up the Fence to Win the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park

Far Right splashes home the winner in the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park.

Far Right splashes home the winner in the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park.

Far Right made a sharp left in midstretch and rallied up the rail to win the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park. Four-wide at the top of the lane, the Smarty Jones winner banked left and dropped down on the rail where he mounted a sustained drive, taking the lead from a determined Mr. Z at the 16th pole.

Watch: Far Right Wins Again

It was déjà vu for the connections of Far Right as they watched their colt repeat the same performance that won him the Jan. 19 Smarty Jones Stakes by ducking to the inside and coming up the rail to prevail in Sunday’s $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3). The win earned Far Right 10 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility and moved him up to sixth-place on the leaderboard.

Ridden for the second straight race by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Far Right settled… Read the rest of this entry >>