Bob Baffert – On the morning after Triple Crown champion and first Grand Slam winner American Pharoah’s triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, his Hall of Fame trainer was still marveling at the colt’s accomplishment.
“He came back in great shape. He’s ready to go around again,” said Baffert, who has now won back-to-back Classics after last year’s win with Bayern. “He really put on a show yesterday. I knew at the half-mile pole (that he would win big) from the way he was running. The way he was going, he just breaks other horses’ hearts. The good horses do that, they just break other horses’ hearts.
“Yesterday he showed the horse that he is. I know how good he is because I’ve trained some really good ones. I’ve had others who were as fast as he is, but they couldn’t sustain it (over an entire season). You’ll never see a horse travel and ship like that and win at every track he went to, except for the Travers. His mechanics and his personality are also what set him apart. I’m glad he finally got a track record. He was ready yesterday.”
The Breeders’ Cup Classic was the final race for the Zayat Stable’s homebred son of their homebred Pioneerof the Nile. His breeding rights were sold to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud, with Ahmed Zayat retaining an interest.
The entire Zayat family was at the barn on Sunday visiting American Pharoah, who will remain at Keeneland until Monday.
“He’s going to Ashford tomorrow morning. I will go with him to see him get settled in,” said Baffert, who will be accompanied by his wife, Jill, and son, Bode. “It will be sad to say good-bye and walking him this morning was emotional, but I don’t feel like I’ll be leaving him. Letting him down (from his racing career) will be easy. He’s ‘Mr. Chill.’ We’ll be coming to Ashford to see him.”
After American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes, and even after his runner-up finish in the Travers, Baffert brought the colt out so that the large crowd of media and fans assembled could enjoy and ‘up close and personal’ experience with the horse. He did so again Sunday morning.
“This is the best horse I’ve ever had in my training career,” said the Hall of Famer, who notched his 12th Breeders’ Cup win Saturday afternoon. “It’s been a fantastic year with him. I was crying when he turned for home. I was thinking of my parents (in heaven). This horse has an angel on his back. He is a gift from God. This guy had the brilliance, the speed and the personality. He was the perfect racehorse.”
As the Zayat entourage was leaving the barn Baffert called out to Ahmet Zayat, “Find me another one.”
Keen Ice – Donegal Racing president Jerry Crawford said Sunday morning that a decision would be made within 10 days on whether Keen Ice will continuing racing pending a deal for his breeding rights. Crawford said negotiations have begun about when and where the 3yo Curlin colt will begin his stallion career. The fourth-place finisher in the Classic has returned to trainer Dale Romans’ Churchill Downs base.
“He’ll get a little break,” Crawford said. “We haven’t made the plan going forward yet. We have had a lot of inquiries about stud plans. We’ll have to sort that out and see if (a buyer) allows us to race him as a 4-year-old.
“There aren’t enough accolades for American Pharoah’s performance,” he said. “When I saw American Pharoah come into the paddock, I saw he had gained so much weight since I saw him in the paddock at Saratoga. I thought ‘uh oh.’ And sure enough (he won). Whatever (Team American Pharoah) did, it was the right thing.”
Shug McGaughey – Trainer Shug McGaughey put $5 million Classic third-place finisher Honor Code on a van bound for nearby Lanes End Farm Sunday morning.
“Obviously, it’s a void in your stable, but I know he’s going home healthy,” McGaughey said. “He’s going to a great place and he’s going to get great mares. He’s going to be well taken care of.”
Honor Code, who captured back-to-back victories in the Met Mile and the Whitney this year, lagged in the back of the eight-horse field before closing to finish third behind American Pharoah in the Classic.
McGaughey was satisfied Sunday morning that the 4yo son of A.P. Indy’s 2015 record is worthy of a year-end Eclipse Award as older male.
“His competition would be Liam’s Map, and he ran against him once and beat him,” McGaughey said.
Kiaran McLaughlin – All four of his Breeders’ Cup horses came out of their races in good order, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Sunday morning.
Godolphin Racing’s homebred 3yo colt Frosted, who finished finished seventh in the Classic, is headed to Florida and is expected to remain in training next year.
McLaughlin loved the way Frosted was coming up to the race and expected another strong performance. He missed fourth by two noses and a head.
“We were disappointed, obviously,” McLaughlin said. “He trained great. We thought that we could lay second to fourth and maybe American Pharoah would back up, but American Pharoah, congratulations, ran the best race of his life, to me.
“Speed was maybe the place to be, as I feared it was. We didn’t get beat bad for fourth. It’s not the end of the world. We’ll regroup; he’s a 3-year-old. The winner was very impressive.”
Sentiero Italia finished fourth in the Filly & Mare Turf.
“She ran great,” McLaughlin said. “She just missed third running back in three weeks. She’s a 3-year-old who we will have back next year to have a lot of fun with.”
Cavorting entered the TwinSpires Filly & Mare Sprint with a three-race winning streak in New York, but landed in the outside post in the field of 14. McLaughlin said the combination of the draw and a poor start compromised her chances.
“She didn’t break real well and ends up last, but finished very well again going wide” McLaughlin said. “With the speed (bias) of the track you needed to be up close. She finished fourth, finished well, but it was disappointing.”
Everything went wrong for Distaff favorite Wedding Toast in her final career start. She ended up 11th in the field of 14 under jockey Jose Lezcano.
“I told him to get into a good rhythm,” McLaughlin said. “I told him, ‘whether you break on the lead or are laying fourth, get into a good rhythm. You’re the best.’
“It was just the opposite. She hopped at the start and ends up wide. A horse comes outside of her and she gets keen. She owes us nothing. She’s a multiple Grade 1 winner heading home to be retired.”
James Jerkens – The James Jerkens-trained Effinex was reported to have come out of his second-place finish behind Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in fine shape Sunday morning.
The 4 yo son of Mineshaft, who finished 6 ½ lengths behind American Pharoah and 4 ½ lengths ahead of Honor Code in the Classic, is scheduled to stay in training next year.
Todd Pletcher – Trainer Todd Pletcher reported Sunday that his 11 Breeders’ Cup starters all exited their races in good order while expressing pleasure with the overall performance of his Breeders’ Cup contingent.
Pletcher saddled Liam’s Map for a dazzling 2 ½-length victory in the face of adversity in Friday’s $1 million Las Vegas Dirt Mile and sent out Stopchargingmaria for a hard-fought triumph in the $2 million Longines Distaff two races later. His other top performers were Rachel’s Valentina (second in the Juvenile Fillies), Mshawish (fourth in the Mile) and Curalina (third in the Distaff).
“All in all, it went pretty well. It was a safe Breeders’ Cup. I think Keeneland did a great job. We were pleased with our team’s performances. We had two wins and a good second with Rachel’s Valentina. With Mshawish finishing fourth and Curalina finishing third – we had some good performances,” Pletcher said. “These races are tough to win and if you can come out of them with a win – in our case, two – it’s pretty exciting.”
Making his final career start before standing at stud next year at Lanes End Farm, Liam’s Map overcame extended traffic around the first turn and along the backstretch before springing free and surging to an impressive victory.
“It was a remarkable performance. He’s a very, very talented, brilliant horse. We were blessed to have the opportunity to train him and we’re proud of what he did,” Pletcher said. “He stamped himself, arguably, as the top older horse in training. Closing out with two big wins, it’s pretty exciting.”
In the Distaff, Stopchargingmaria prevailed by a neck over Stellar Wind, who finished 3 ½ lengths ahead of Curalina.
“It was a great performance. It was her third Grade 1 win that she’s amassed,” Pletcher said. “She was in a long drive in a big duel down the lane and she kept finding more.”
John Sadler (trainer Stellar Wind and Hard Aces) – “We’re very pleased with both horses; more so with Stellar Wind (second in Friday’s Distaff). She ran a great race, though didn’t have a smooth trip. She might have won if not for that.
“Hard Aces ran a good, honest race (Classic), but not as good as the champion (American Pharoah),” Sadler said Sunday morning as he waited to board a flight back to Southern California from Lexington’s Blue Grass Field.
The two horses were being flown back to Sadler’s Santa Anita base Sunday.
Chad Brown – Though he did not reach last year’s level of three victories, trainer Chad Brown had another very successful Breeders’ Cup with victories by Stephanie’s Kitten in the Filly &Mare Turf and Wavell Avenue in the Filly & Mare Sprint.
Also, Big Blue Kitten and Slumber finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Turf behind Found and Golden Horn and defending champ Bobby’s Kitten was fourth in the Turf Sprint. Brown, 36, saddled an event-high 12 runners.
“When you have that sort of material to work with, your goal is to get to the big days,” Brown said. “Luckily, we brought a really good group here and I think most of them ran really well. I’m pleased overall with the Breeders’ Cup.
“Even some that were defeated, Slumber and Big Blue Kitten, they ran their hearts out against two great horses from Europe. I’m just happy to be part of that field. It’s great international competition and I look forward to it every year.”
Brown, who has seven Breeders’ Cup winners in eight seasons of training, said Sunday morning that all of his horses came back in fine shape.
Stephanie’s Kitten became the first horse in history to win Breeders’ Cup races four years apart. Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 6yo homebred mare won Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2011 and was second in the Filly & Mare Turf in 2014. Wavell Avenue, co-owned by Michael Dubb, David Simon, Head of Plains Partners and Bethlehem Stables, provided Brown with his first Breeders’ Cup win on dirt.
“They were two horses that were training really well. Their numbers were really good coming into the races,” Brown said. “They took to the Keeneland track and they both performed so great. I’m just so happy for both horses and the ownership of both horses
The TwinSpires Filly & Mare Sprint was Wavell Avenue’s first Graded stakes victory, but the 4yo filly came into the races with some strong performances on her resume under jockey Joel Rosario.
“We worked together as a team and my staff and I started to figure her out,” Brown said. “Joel has been instrumental, riding her terrific and giving me great feedback after he rides her.
We really found her niche. The most important part of the team is her. She just got better physically. She doesn’t even look like the same horse that she did over the winter at Aqueduct and even during the summer. She has kept improving, getting stronger physically. Her works improved. That’s the thing about horses. They have different times in their lives when they peak. Some early, some late. I think that’s a filly who is just reaching her maturity. She’s at her best.”
Brown said that Wavell Avenue is headed back to his base at Belmont Park and will remain in training.
Stephanie’s Kitten will be offered at auction this week. She failed to reach her $4 million reserve last year and Ken Ramsey decided to send her back to Brown for another season of competition. The Filly and Mare Turf was the goal.
“I think that was a wonderful feeling, a culminating point of relief; the Ramseys trusted me and my staff with this filly to do something like this,” Brown said. “Yes, we had won the Flower Bowl a couple of times, but, really, she was sent over here to our barn to try and win this specific race and possibly the Eclipse Award. I feel like his trust in me and my staff was justified and he was rewarded for his patience, as well.
“When it didn’t work out last year – she had a wide trip and was beaten by my other horse – it would have been easy for Mr Ramsey to give up and either sell the horse or move her again. Through it all, he stuck with me, he stuck with his filly and he stuck with his plan.”
Browns’ two other Filly and Mare Turf runners are going in different directions. Watsdachances, sixth in her career finale, is going to auction, while Dacita, who was ninth, will compete next year. He said he thought Dacita did not like the give in the turf course.
Brown said he would be meeting with officials of Calumet Farm, which purchased Big Blue Kitten earlier this fall, to see what the plans are for the 7yo horse. He said he wasn’t sure about the future plans are for 7yo Slumber.
The Ramseys’ Bobby’s Kitten will head to Florida, Brown said, and will stay in training in 2016.
All five of Brown’s 2yo turf horses are going to Florida to be prepared for racing next year.
Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Found along with Juvenile Turf winner Hit It a Bomb were the first to ship out of Keeneland on Sunday morning along with the other Aidan O’Brien team consisting of Gleneagles, Shogun, Waterloo Bridge, War Envoy, Alice Springs and the David Wachman-trained Legatissimo.
Aidan O’Brien was delighted to announce that Found, who had run in two Champion Stakes races and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as well as a Breeders’ Cup race all in the space of a month was to remain in training in 2016.
The French contingent are departing Keeneland on Sunday morning and vanning to Chicago where they will stay overnight before flying on Monday from Chicago via Amsterdam, arriving on Tuesday morning. The exception is Karakontie who will remain in the U.S. having been retired to stand at stud at Gainesway Farm.
The English horses are scheduled to depart on Monday afternoon from Keeneland and will head home via a charter flight from Louisville direct to Stansted in the United Kingdom. However, Ralph Beckett’s Secret Gesture will remain in the America and will be retired to for breeding purposes, but it is not yet known with whom she will be bred.
Jeremy Noseda’s Nemoralia will depart for Florida where she will have a rest before re-entering quarantine before shipping back to England in December.
All the other horses are reported to be in good order after their Breeders’ Cup races, although John Gosden’s head lad Barry O’Dowd reported that Golden Horn had sustained a small cut to a hind leg in the course of his second-place finish in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Golden Horn has been retired and will join the Darley stallion roster.
Mark Casse – Tepin, who joined the elite ranks of females who beat the boys in the Mile, came back in good order and was bright-eyed and alert while standing in her stall Sunday morning.
Trainer Mark Casse, who won two Breeders’ Cup races over the weekend with fillies as Catch a Glimpse took the Juvenile Fillies Turf, reported that Robert Masterson’s 4yo daughter of Bernstein will get a well-deserved break. Plans call for her to ship to his Moonshadow Farm in Ocala, Fla.
Tepin, who is now in company with Goldikova, Miesque, Six Perfections and Royal Heroine as the only female Mile winners, had been entered in the Keeneland November sales catalogue but she will remain in training and be pointed to her 5yo season. Casse said that he will point her to the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day 2016.
Tepin won that race this year and went on to win three Grade 1 races, including the Mile.
(Catch a Glimpse, 1st, Juvenile Fillies Turf; Airoforce, 2nd Juvenile Turf; Conquest Daddyo, 4th Juvenile Turf) – The seven-time Sovereign Award winning trainer achieved a major career milestone when he won his first Queen’s Plate last year with Gary Barber’s Lexi Lou, the eventual Canadian Horse of the Year. Friday he realized another dream by winning his first Breeders’ Cup in 26 tries when Barber’s Catch a Glimpse captured the Juvenile Fillies Turf. The victory also gave Barber his first Breeders’ Cup trophy.
After the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Casse said that Catch a Glimpse, who is co-owned by Gary Ambler and James Begg, would head to his Ocala, Fla. training farm for a well-deserved break.
“Now I am changing my mind a little bit. She’s still not going to run anytime soon, but I may send her to South Florida and just rest her a little bit there. I am not so sure how she’ll do at the farm. Some horses don’t like that type of rest, so I’m still thinking about it. She may go to Palm Meadows and just chill in the sun,” he said.
There are no immediate plans for John Oxley’s Kentucky-bred Airoforce, but Casse said that his objective for the Canadian-bred Conquest Daddyo is the 2016 Queen’s Plate. He has aspirations for himself as well, as there is still another big hole on his impressive resume that he dreams of filling.
“There’s no question what it is. There’s a little race they have here in Kentucky on the first Saturday in May and that’s it,” he said of the Kentucky Derby.
Brian Lynch (Grand Arch, 3rd Mile) – Grand Arch was relaxing in his stall at Keeneland Sunday morning following his third-place finish in the Mile the previous day. As is his routine, the 6yo Arch gelding will be turned out at owner Jim and Susan Hill’s Margaux Farm in Midway, Ky., about 10 miles from Keeneland before resuming training for a 2016 campaign.
“He came back good,” trainer Brian Lynch said. “He will get the winter off and we will campaign him again along the lines we did this year. I hope we get to do this again next year.”
For the past three years, Grand Arch has made his seasonal debut in a Keeneland allowance race in April. In 2013 and 2015 he was victorious and in 2014 he was the runner-up.
Maria Borell (Runhappy) – Trainer Maria Borell said Sunday morning that Runhappy, who set a track record in winning the TwinSpires Sprint, returned to The Thoroughbred Center training facility in Lexington on Saturday. In addition to his traditional on-track conditioning, Runhappy swims in The Thoroughbred Center-operated pool and enjoys turnout time there in a grassy paddock.
“He went home last night to get a good night’s sleep in his own stall,” Borell. “He came out of the race well. We don’t have exact plans; we wanted to see how he comes out of the race. We will figure it out in a few days.”
Runhappy has a strong fan base in Lexington and via social media. A video of Runhappy being roused from a nap by groom Cordell Anderson has a reported 4.4-million views. A picture of him sleeping attracted more than 2,600 “likes” and nearly 250 “shares” within 14 hours of a Facebook posting. View video here https://www.facebook.com/TheOfficalRunhappy/?fref=ts.
Jack Sisterson (asst. trainer to Doug O’Neill on Nyquist, Juvenile winner) – The words “day one” come up a lot when Jack Sisterson talks about the O’Neill stable star. “From Day One, we could tell he was going to be special,” Sisterson said. “His temperament and mind were all class right from the start.
“His training and working from Day One were remarkable. His fantastic mind was beyond any other 2-year-old in the barn.”
Sisterson joined the O’Neill team just prior to I’ll Have Another winning the 2012 Kentucky Derby. “It’s been a great time for me. Working for Doug and with horses from Mr. Reddam (J. Paul Reddam of Reddam Racing) has been quite a dream trip,” said the native of Durham, England, who grew up around horses and hoped at one point he might be a jockey. That didn’t work out for the tall, slender Sisterson.
As to Nyquist’s deportment in the barn, Sisterson said, “Nothing much fazes him, he’s pretty laid-back. He has a playful side, though, and he will try to nip you once in a while. Overall, though, he’s pretty quiet and takes good care of himself.”
Nyquist and his Breeders’ Cup stablemates Ralis, Land Over Sea, Sharla Rae and Jimmy Bouncer will head to their Southern California home base on Tuesday. Joining them also will be Bailoutbobby, who won, the Marathon Stakes, at Keeneland on Friday.
Wesley Ward (Judy the Beauty, Filly & Mare Sprint; Undrafted, The Great War and Green Mask, Turf Sprint; Ruby Notion, Juvenile Fillies Turf) – Wesley Ward’s 2014 Eclipse Award Champion Judy the Beauty, who finished fifth in her defense attempt in the Filly & Mare Sprint, has been retired sound, according to her owner-trainer. Ward hopes to breed the 6-year-old chestnut mare to Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner American Pharoah in 2016.
A nine-time winner in 22 starts, she finished in the money 20 times and won races in three different countries – Canada, France and the United States. The daughter of Ghostzapper won or placed in seven Grade 1 events in her career, with at least one of those in each of her five seasons of racing. Those included a victory and runner-up finish in the TwinSpires Filly & Mare Sprint in 2014 and 2013, respectively, as well as six stakes wins.
The remainder of Ward’s Breeders’ Cup contingent all exited their races well.
Keith Desormeaux (Swipe and Exaggerator, Juvenile; Right There, Juvenile Fillies) – All three of Big Chief Racing’s Keith Desormeaux-trained 2yos have exited their efforts in good shape. Right There finished ninth of 10 in the Juvenile Fillies after steadying in the first turn and going very wide into the stretch. The daughter of Eskendereya will return to Desormeaux’s California string. No immediate plans have been made for the stakes-winning filly.
Swipe and Exaggerator, who finished second and fourth in the Juvenile, exited their efforts in fine form, according to Desormeaux. Swipe finished a game second to Nyquist for the fourth consecutive time, following runner-up efforts in the Best Pal, Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner. For the fourth consecutive time, the margin between them shrunk, progressing from 5¼, 3¾, three-quarters of a length and finally a half-length on Saturday at Keeneland.
“They all came out fine,” Desormeaux said. “It will be good to get everyone back under one roof.”
Desormeaux, unlike in previous years when he conditioned concurrent Fair Grounds and Santa Anita strings, will be focusing on California racing.
Exaggerator, who finished fourth as the co-second choice, will join his stablemates at Santa Anita. Both he and Swipe will naturally be aimed toward the Triple Crown trail, but a start before the end of 2015 for either has not be ruled out.
Roger Brueggemann (The Pizza Man, Turf) – Midwest Thoroughbreds’ The Pizza Man has exited his fifth-place finish in good shape, according to trainer Roger Brueggemann.
“He’s fine this morning,” Brueggemann said.
The son of English Channel is aiming toward a run in the Japan Cup in four weeks at Tokyo Racecourse.
Jorge Navarro (Private Zone, Sprint) – Good Friends Stable’s Private Zone exited his runner-up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint well for trainer Jorge Navarro.
“He came out in great condition,” Navarro said.
In his third attempt in the Sprint, the son of Macho Uno improved his placing after a 10th-place finish in 2013 and a third-place result in 2014.
Navarro confirmed that Private Zone will fly to Florida to join his string and is under consideration for a defense of his title in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. The Sprint was the 6 yos 10th win or placing in Grade or Group 1 company.
There were no winners in the Perfect Pick pro football selection contest Sunday, which leads to a carryover and a $3,000 prize pool this coming Sunday. Entry deadline is noon with entries available beginning at 10:00 a.m.
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