MTA Sale Preview Today (5/9/2008)

Friday, May 9

BY JIM WELLS

The only thing missing today will be the balloons and hot dogs that automobile dealerships can’t resist using as a sales gimmick.
Maybe carrots and sugar cubes would make a nice substitute.
The Minnesota Thoroughbred Assn. is back in the sales business after a lengthy hiatus. Need a never-raced racehorse?
The MTA will stage its first sale of two- and three-year-old horses in training in many years on Saturday.
“The MTA did a sale like this 15 or 20 years ago,” said Kay King, executive director of the group. “They said at the time they would never do one again. For what reason, I don’t know.”
“Never” will end this weekend.
Potential buyers can take a look at 27 horses up for sale today when they will be displayed under tack at noon. The horses will gallop or work one or two furlongs on the main track.
The works will be videotaped and shown continuously in the paddock gardens conference room on track level, beginning around 3 p.m. Those tapes will be shown until the sale at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, following the race card.
The horses were foaled in Minnesota, Iowa, Kentucky and Florida. Their sires include Frisk Me Now, Ghazi, Chapel Royal, Demidoff, Friends Lake, Gilded Time, Johannesburg, Late Edition, Mutakkdim, Proud Citizen, Put it Back, Whywhywhy, Quaker Hill, Shot of Gold, Strong Hope, The Cliff’s Edge, Vicar, Victory Gallop, Wild Gold, With Approval and Zavata.
Seven of the sale horses were originally scheduled as part of a similar sale in Iowa that was linked to a stakes race there. The sale was cancelled when officials became concerned that several horses were named simply to qualify for the stakes race and were in fact not for sale.
“We benefited by getting those Iowa horses,” King added. “We’ve had several people comment that they were happy with this, a cleaner sale. We were encouraged to go ahead with the sale after Iowa chose not to do it.”
THE BARNS ARE FILLING
The weather is warming and the stalls are filling on Canterbury’s backside. The official head count surpassed 1,000 on Wednesday with more than 90 horses passing through the stable gate.
Stall superintendent Mark Stancato said the count had reached 1,041 on Thursday morning. “We had a 90-plus horse day with a whole bunch of Bernell Rhone and Jamie Ness horses coming in. This morning we got a few Keith Bennett horses.”
Bennett, a newcomer to Canterbury, arrived from Phoenix, where he won the training title in the recently completed meet at Turf Paradise. Jamie Ness was on the grounds Thursday morning, just up from Tampa Bay Downs where he won a second consecutive training title.
Also new from Phoenix are Shawn Talbot and Manny Uriza. Talbot had 12 horses on the grounds Thursday. Fourteen Bennett trainees arrived Thursday morning. Ness, who already had 15 on the grounds, brought in 29 on Wednesday.
Other newcomers include Manny Troche from Florida and Joe Johnson from Phoenix, who is expected to arrive soon with a stable of six. Bobby Grissom is due in from Phoenix, too.
“Joe will be the last of the Phoenicians,” said Stancato. “And next week, the quarter horses will start coming in.”
NTRA THOROUGHBRED NOTEBOOK
May 8, 2008
News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
THE JOCKEY CLUB ANNOUNCES THOROUGHBRED SAFETY COMMITTEE
Ogden Mills Phipps, the chairman of The Jockey Club, announced today that the officers of The Jockey Club have commissioned a seven-member Thoroughbred Safety Committee.
Phipps said that the committee would be asked to review every facet of equine health, including breeding practices, medication, the rules of racing and track surfaces, and to recommend actions to be taken by the industry to improve the health and safety of Thoroughbreds.
The recommendations emanating from the two Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summits will serve as starting points for the committee. Three of the seven members of the newly formed committee were participants in both summits.
The Jockey Club and Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation coordinated and underwrote those summits in October 2006 and March 2008. A strategic plan developed after the first summit and a summary of recommendations proposed at the second are available at www.grayson-jockeyclub.org/summit <https://mail.ntra.com/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.grayson-jockeyclub.org/summit> .
In addition to Phipps, the other officers of The Jockey Club are Vice Chairman William S. Farish and Secretary-Treasurer James C. Brady.
The seven members of the committee are Stuart S. Janney III (chairman), John Barr, James G. (Jimmy) Bell, Dr. Larry Bramlage, Donald R. Dizney, Dell Hancock and Dr. Hiram C. Polk Jr. Each is a member of The Jockey Club.
“All seven of these individuals have dedicated a major part of their lives to Thoroughbred breeding and racing and have shown a consistent and unwavering concern for the welfare of Thoroughbreds,” Phipps said. “We will reach out to involve others in the industry and we will do everything in our power to encourage changes that will benefit the breed in any way. We will do this in a timely manner.”
“The Thoroughbred Safety Committee is a major step that will provide the examination of the horse welfare and safety issues so badly needed in the wake of recent catastrophic injuries,” said Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the NTRA. “The NTRA supports the Committee’s work and plans to work closely with it to build support for the Committee’s recommendations with the many constituencies we represent. At the same time, we will redouble our efforts to promote Thoroughbred racing to core and target fans as the safe, responsible sport that it is. Now more than ever, no practice, policy or tradition is more important than those that best protect and promote the health of the Thoroughbred athlete.”
BIG BROWN PREPARING QUIETLY FOR NEXT SATURDAY’S PREAKNESS STAKES
Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown will move on to the May 17 Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, but for now, Churchill Downs, the site of his Derby triumph is just fine.
“Everything’s good here,” trainer Rick Dutrow said this morning after the undefeated colt jogged a mile at Churchill Downs in Louisville. The Preakness will be a homecoming for Dutrow, the son of legendary trainer Dickie Dutrow who was born in Maryland, and jockey Kent Desormeaux, who won the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice rider while based at Pimlico and Laurel Park in the late 1980’s.
“Every time Preakness would roll around, dad would win a race on Preakness day,” said Dutrow in an NTRA conference call this afternoon. “Naturally I would love to win a race like that. It’s where I grew up. Most of the traits of the game are right there at Pimlico, Bowie, Laurel. I’m going to see a lot of my friends. I can’t wait to get there.”
When he does get there, the only other Derby horse Dutrow will see is fifth-place finisher Recapturetheglory. Co-owners Ronnie Lemarque and Louis Roussel, the colt’s trainer, captured the Preakness 20 years ago with Risen Star. This morning Recapturetheglory jogged a mile and galloped a mile shortly after 7 a.m. over a muddy Churchill Downs racing surface. E.T. Baird, who never has ridden in the Preakness, retains the mount.
Pimlico officials expect a field of at least nine for the 133rd running of the Preakness, which will be televised by NBC from 4:30-6:30 p.m. (ET) Post time for the Preakness is slated for 6:15 p.m.
TOMCITO USING PETER PAN AS SPRINGBOARD FOR BELMONT STAKES
When buyers at Keeneland’s September 2006 yearling sale looked at Tomcito, all they saw was an awkward, barrel-chested colt who, frankly, walked like a duck. When trainer Dante Zanelli Jr. looked at the son of Street Cry, he saw something more.
“I saw a Derby horse,” said Zanelli, who paid $7,500 for the colt and sent him to Peru, where he won four of five starts including the final two legs of the country’s Triple Crown. “His walk was not the prettiest, but he had such a nice stride.”
Tomcito was one of four who did not make the cut for the Kentucky Derby, but the final leg of racing’s Triple Crown is definitely on his schedule. Saturday, the big brown colt heads a field of nine 3-year-olds in the 55th edition of the $200,000 Grade II Peter Pan Stakes at nine furlongs, a traditional prep for the $1 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday June 7. Also Saturday is the 33rd running of the $100,000-added Bold Ruler Handicap for three-year-olds and up.
“He’s been special since Day 1,” said Zanelli of Tomcito, who finished third in the Florida Derby behind Big Brown in his American debut, but then failed to earn enough money to enter the Derby when he finished sixth as the favorite in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. “The Lexington wasn’t that bad, considering he gave six pounds to everyone and the Polytrack was not to his liking. The ride wasn’t what we expected, either. He didn’t run a terrible race but he didn’t make any money.
“It’s too bad, because I think he would have run a heck of a race in the Derby.”
Bypassing the Preakness because of Pimlico’s reputation for tight turns, Zanelli next targeted the 1 ½-mile Belmont, a distance at which Tomcito has already won. Sent by Zanelli to his uncle in Peru after failing to find a taker, Tomcito began his career beating older horses at the age of two and then wrapped up his 2007 campaign with the Group 1 victories at a mile and a quarter and then a mile and a half at Monterico Racetrack in Peru.
“The bigger the track, the better,” said Zanelli. “We are hoping to have a good showing on Saturday that will set us up for the Belmont. That’s the goal.”
The Belmont Stakes is on the radar of several of the horses in the Peter Pan, notably Casino Drive, the Japanese sibling of the past two Belmont Stakes winners, Rags to Riches (2007) and Jazil (2006), and his stablemate, Spark Candle. Also going are Illinois Derby runner-up Golden Spikes and Cosmic, winner of two straight for Shug McGaughey, who trained last year’s Peter Pan winner, Sightseeing.
“His last three races have been pretty good,” said McGaughey of Cosmic, who broke his maiden going nine furlongs in Florida and then took an allowance at the same distance April 16 at Aqueduct. “We’ll see how he sizes up with these. At the point we are not aiming for the Belmont but it’s certainly up for discussion.”
Executive Fleet, who was second to Bustin Stones in the Grade I Carter Handicap, heads a field of seven for the Bold Ruler at six furlongs. Trained by Linda Rice, the five-year-old son of Northern Afleet has won two of his four starts this year, both optional claimers over the inner track at Aqueduct.
Also expected to attract support are Forefathers, fourth in the Grade II Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland in his last start; Man of Danger, second to Sir Greeley in the Grade III Toboggan Handicap on March 8, and Callmetony, no worse than third in his last six starts.

FRANKEL SEEKS ELUSIVE SEVENTH JIM MURRAY VICTORY
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel has won the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap a record six times at Hollywood Park but he has found number seven to be elusive.
Since last winning the distance turf test with Skipping in 2002, Frankel has settled for a second-place finish with Denon in 2003, third with Gassan Royal in 2004, second and third with Vangelis and Exterior respectively in 2005, and third with Notable Guest last year.
Frankel hopes to put an end to that mild drought Saturday when he sends out Champs Elysees, the 119-pound high weight and probable favorite, and Sudan in the $250,000, Grade II test at 1½ miles on grass.
The Jim Murray, named in memory of the Los Angeles Times Pulitzer Prize-winning sports columnist, headlines a stakes tripleheader that also includes two $100,000-added Grade III races, the Los Angeles Handicap and Senorita Stakes.
With Frankel in New York, long-time assistant Humberto Ascanio has tightened the screws on Champs Elysees and Sudan for the Jim Murray.
Champs Elysees, a Juddmonte Farms homebred, is named after a famous street in Paris, but “champs” has a significant English connotation as well. The 5-year-old horse is a full brother to two North American champions, Banks Hill and Intercontinental, and a European champion, Dansili. By Danehill out of Hasili, he is also a full brother to Grade I stakes winner Cacique and a half-brother to Heat Haze, another Grade I stakes winner.
“He reminds me a lot of Cacique, very kind,” said Ascanio Thursday of the English-bred who was a Group III winner in France for Andre Fabre before joining the Frankel stable last autumn. Runner-up in the Hollywood Turf Cup, winner of the San Marcos Stakes and third-place finisher in the Santa Anita Handicap, Champs Elysees appears poised to follow in the footsteps of his brothers and sisters not only as a top turf horse, but one who can handle synthetic surfaces as well.
Ascanio also expects a much-improved effort from Sudan, who finished a distant eighth in his U.S. debut in the San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita in February. “He has been training a lot better,” said Ascanio of the 5-year-old French import who has recorded a solid series of drills here the past two months. Owned by Gary Tanaka, the Irish-bred import was a Group I winner in Italy last year.

ONLINE BELMONT STAKES CONTEST ANNOUNCED
The New York Racing Association is launching an online contest – the Belmont Stakes Prize Package — centered around the 140th Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 7.
“This year marks a new era in the Belmont Stakes fan experience,” said Gavin Landry, NYRA Senior Vice-President of Sales and Market Development. “We have built an entire festival around our premier racing day, featuring the Movin’ Out Band live in concert and a variety of family-oriented games. To help celebrate this exciting event, we are offering one lucky fan the chance to win VIP tickets to the Belmont Stakes along with travel and accommodations provided by Delta Air Lines and the Garden City Hotel.”
Fans may enter online at www.nyra.com before 6 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, May 24. The contest is free, but all contestants must be at least 21 years of age as of May 26, and must supply correct e-mail, telephone and address information.
The Belmont Prize Package winner will receive two VIP tickets to the 2008 Belmont Stakes, two round-trip Delta Air Lines tickets, and a two-night stay at the Garden City Hotel.
Two runners-up will have the choice of either two VIP tickets to the 2008 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, August 23rd, or a $200 Gift Certificate to the online NYRA Store, redeemable for Officially Licensed NYRA Merchandise.

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