News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
BAFFERT AMONG 11 NAMED FINALISTS FOR HALL OF FAME
Three-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Bob Baffert, along with two of his greatest equine charges, are among two trainers, three jockeys, and six horses to be selected as the 2009 finalists for election to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.
The 11 finalists, determined by a vote of the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, are:
Contemporary female horses: Open Mind, Silverbulletday, Sky Beauty.
Contemporary male horses: Best Pal, Point Given, Tiznow.
Jockeys: Eddie Maple, Randy Romero, Alex Solis.
Trainers: Bob Baffert, Robert Wheeler.
Among the Thoroughbred are two Baffert trainess: Silverbulletday and Point Given.
Silverbulletday was the champion 2-year-old filly of 1998 and the champion 3-year-old filly of 1999. She won 15 of 23 career starts and compiled purse earnings of $3,093,207. Her victories included the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Ashland, Kentucky Oaks, Alabama and Gazelle.
Point Given compiled a record of 9-3-0 and earnings of $3,968,500 from 13 starts in 2000 and 2001. He was Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old of 2001. At two, the son of Thunder Gulch was second in the Champagne and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile before his victory in the Hollywood Futurity. He opened his 3-year-old season with victories in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby. He finished fifth as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby then won the Preakness, the Belmont Stakes, the Haskell Invitational and the Travers.
To be eligible, trainers must be licensed and actively involved with Thoroughbreds for 25 years or have been retired for a minimum of five years; jockeys must be licensed for 20 years or have been retired for a minimum of five years; horses must be retired for five full calendar years.
In early March, the approximately 180 members of the Hall of Fame Voting Panel will receive a ballot and an information packet on each of the finalists. The voters will be asked to select one name in each category. The individual with the highest number of votes in each category will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, August 14, 2009 in Saratoga Springs.
DERBY TRAIL TO HEAT UP SATURDAY WITH WIDE-OPEN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
Beethoven and Capt. Candyman Can, both Grade II stakes winners, face formidable challenges when 12 3-year-old Kentucky Derby hopefuls go to the post for the Grade II, $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla.
The 63rd edition of the Fountain of Youth, shortened to a one-turn mile test this year from nine furlongs, has attracted more high-profile potential Derby prospects than any race on the national calendar at this point in the season with a fast pace almost certain to develop.
Beethoven turns back in distance after only managing a fourth-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes at 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream on January 31. But he established his class last fall winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in late November with Capt. Candyman Can third.
Capt. Candyman returns after an impressive score in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream on January 30. The son of Candy Ride won the Iroquois Stakes going a one-turn mile at Churchill in his start prior to the Kentucky Jockey Club.
There will almost certainly be a break-neck pace down the backstretch and into the turn in the Fountain of Youth with Notonthesamepage, This Ones for Phil and Taqarub each coming into the race after sharp sprint stakes victories in their last starts.
Notonthesamepage got the Gulfstream stakes program off to a fast start on January 3 when he romped home an 8 ¼ lengths winner of the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes. This Ones for Phil was brilliant in his own right winning the Sunshine Millions Dash at six furlongs on Jan. 24 by 2 ¼ lengths. And Taqarub is the wild card as he makes his South Florida debut after winning all three of his career starts at Aqueduct.
Completing the field for Saturday’s Fountain of Youth are: Theregoesjojo, Quality Road, Rocketing Returns, Break Water Edison, Jack Spratt, Bee Cee Cee and Take the Points, who may instead run in Saturday’s Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.
THE PAMPLEMOUSSE CAN TAKE SOLIS CLOSER TO DERBY WINNER’S CIRCLE IN SHAM
Aiming for his first Kentucky Derby victory after three seconds in 15 career rides, 44-year-old Alex Solis attempts to move a notch closer on Saturday in Santa Anita’s Grade III, $200,000 Sham Stakes while riding morning line favorite The Pamplemousse, a 3-year-old co-owned and selected at sale by his son, Alex II.
The Kentucky-bred son of Kafwain, purchased last March by a partnership for $150,000, will face 11 other 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles, a distance that would seem well suited for the gray colt, whose name translates to “grapefruit” in French.
After losing his first two starts while sprinting, The Pamplemousse broke his maiden with an impressive victory at 1 1/16 miles while timed in a rapid 1:41 2/5 over Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track synthetic surface. He subsequently sizzled in taking the Grade III San Rafael Stakes while covering one mile in 1:35 1/5 over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface on January 17.
“I’m speechless, I really am,” Solis said immediately following his two-length triumph in the San Rafael. “It feels like he’s walking, he does everything so effortlessly.” Referring to the Kentucky Derby, Solis added, “I better start going to church and hoping he stays sound.”
The Pamplemousse, who has earned $89,280 from his four starts and ranks among the leading contenders for the Santa Anita Derby, drew post position five for the Sham. In 2005, Giacomo ran third in the 2005 Sham en route to his dramatic Kentucky Derby upset.
Todd Pletcher, the four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer who gained his first Triple Crown victory with Rags to Riches in the 2007 Belmont Stakes, has Take the Points preparing to take on The Pamplemousse on Saturday.
Take the Points, who broke his maiden in the mud at Belmont Park last September before winning an allowance event at Gulfstream Park on January 31, will be racing over a synthetic surface for the first time with Garrett Gomez named to ride.
“He trains like he’ll handle it,” Pletcher said of the gray colt. “If he runs well, he can come back in the Santa Anita Derby.”
The complete field for the Sham Stakes, in post position order, is: Hi Flyin Indy (jockey: Alonso Quinonez); Smart Bid (Rafael Bejarano); Tiz True (Aaron Gryder); Lifeline (Tyler Baze); The Pamplemousse (Alex Solis); Balfour Park (no rider); Mr. Hot Stuff (Corey Nakatani); Bourbon Bay (Joel Rosario); Ventana (Jesus Rios); Mark S the Cooler (Joseph Talamo); Unbridled Roman (Mike Smith); and Take the Points (Garrett Gomez).
NTRA SAFETY AND INTEGRITY ALLIANCE CIRCULATES COMPLIANCE STANDARDS
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) has announced that a comprehensive set of racetrack safety and integrity standards has been circulated to members of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. After a period of comment, the compliance standards will finalized in early March and serve as the basis for racetrack Alliance accreditation, which also will begin in March. The Alliance, formed last October with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity, includes 55 racetracks in North America and every major national horsemen’s organization.
Compliance standards will cover five broad areas: injury reporting and prevention; creating a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; medication and testing; and safety research.
The accreditation program initially will focus on human and equine safety at racetracks, but will be expanded to cover additional areas, including wagering security, and to extend to horsemen and other industry participants.
The accreditation process will include a written questionnaire and an on-site visit by an Alliance safety team that will perform inspections and conduct interviews with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards, regulators and customers, among others. The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson, former four-term Governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, serves as independent counsel of the Alliance and will provide public reports on Alliance progress in instituting safety and integrity standards.
“The safety standards put in place are the most ambitious in the history of the industry and incorporate recommendations and best practices developed by a number of organizations, including the TOBA Graded Stakes Committee, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee, among others,” said Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the NTRA. “As with similar organizations in other industries, a key function of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance will be to serve as a platform from which uniform standards can be implemented on a national basis.”
“Much has been accomplished in recent years with respect to safety and integrity in Thoroughbred racing, but a good deal more needs to be done,” said Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. “Our industry is committed like never before to demonstrating through action that the safety of our human and equine athletes, and the overall integrity of our sport, are of paramount importance.”
Information on the Alliance and a draft of the accreditation standards can be found at www.NTRAalliance.com.