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NTRA Thoroughbred Notebook

News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.

Big Brown, winner of four Grade I races this year including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, drew post four today as a field of 11 was entered for Saturday’s inaugural running of the $500,000 Monmouth Stakes Presented by IEAH Stables.

Big Brown, owned by IEAH Stables in partnership with Paul Pompa Jr., Gary Tolchin, Andrew Cohen and Pegasus Holdings Group, will carry 120 pounds in what will be his first foray against older horses and just his second career grass race. The three-year-old will be ridden again by Kent Desormeaux, who has been aboard in all of the colt’s seven lifetime races except the first last September at Saratoga, when Big Brown broke his maiden on turf by 11 ¼ lengths.

According to trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., Big Brown will use the Monmouth Stakes, at a mile and an eighth, as his final prep for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be run at a mile and a quarter over the synthetic strip at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on October. 25.

So why is Big Brown running on grass after enjoying so much success on dirt?

“Well whenever we have breezed him in the mornings with a number of different riders, they breezed him on the grass and on the dirt, and he goes better on the grass,” said Dutrow. “He went good on the dirt too, but he just seems to be better on the grass. That’s what all of my riders — which includes [Edgar] Prado, Cornelio [Velasquez], [exercise rider] Michelle [Nevin], Rudy [Rodriguez] — they’ve all breezed him on the grass and on the dirt, and they all like him more on the grass. So you know I have to think that he’s probably better on the grass.”

A strong lineup of older turf runners is set to challenge Big Brown in Saturday’s race, headed by eight-year-old Shakis, winner of the Grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga on August 23, and five-year-old Proudinsky, who was sixth in the Baruch but won the Grade II Mervin Muniz Jr. Handicap at Fair Grounds in March.


Capt. Candyman Can has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Grade III, $200,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Ill. The Arlington-Washington Futurity, the meet’s main event for 2-year-olds, is run at one mile on Polytrack and drew a full field of 14 freshmen. In 2006, Street Sense used a third-place finish in the event as a springboard to victory in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the 2007 Kentucky Derby.

A son of the Argentine-bred stallion Candy Ride, Capt. Candyman Can enters the Futurity off just one start – an impressive 7 ½-length maiden score at Saratoga on August 13. Since that effort, the Ian Wilkes charge had a useful five-furlong drill over the synthetic surface at Sky Training Center in Kentucky on Sept. 7, getting the distance in 1:01 flat. He will be ridden Saturday by Julien Leparoux.

Two locally-based runners – My Dominick James and Advice – could provide competition for the projected favorite.

My Dominick James is three-for-three with two stakes victories under his belt. The Illinois-bred son of Dance Master beat open rivals when breaking his maiden at Arlington on June 8 and again when capturing the $50,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile on July 5. He returned to beat state-bred foes in the $50,000 Troy Our Boy Stakes at downstate Fairmount Park in his most recent trip to post. Tim Thornton has the mount for trainer Larry Rivelli.

Like Capt. Candyman Can, Advice has but a lone maiden win to his credit. The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Chapel Royal scored by eight lengths in his debut over the Arlington oval on July 3. Five-time Arlington Park champion Rene Douglas has the mount.

Two others in the field -Terrain and Ready Racer – have stakes race experience. The former, an Al Stall Jr.-trained son of Sky Mesa, won the $85,000 Mountaineer Park Juvenile at that West Virginia oval on August 2 while the latter, by More Than Ready and trained by Bernie Flint, finished second in the $50,000 James C. Ellis Juvenile at Ellis Park August 16. Jamie Theriot has been named to ride Terrain while Calvin Borel will pilot Ready Racer.

Completing the field for the Arlington-Washington Futurity are: Willie to To (Tanner Riggs); My Man Moran (James Graham); His Greatness (Alex Solis); Malibu Maverick (Jose Ferrer); Jose Adan (Brandon Meier); Zion (E. T. Baird); Schleprock (Inez Karlsson); Giant Oak (Junior Alvarado); and Investor (Chris Emigh).


Sept. 11, 1976: In the third race at Latonia, jockey John Oldham and his wife, Suzanne Picou, became the first husband and wife riding team to compete in a parimutuel race together. Oldham finished second aboard Harvey’s Hope and Picou rode My Girl Carla to an 11th-place finish.
Sept. 11, 1982: Jockey Earlie Fires had his 3,000th career win, aboard Volga Ace, in the fourth race at Arlington Park.
Sept. 12, 1944: A dead-heat for win and show occurred in the eighth race at Hawthorne.
Sept. 12, 1970: Nijinsky II won the St. Leger Stakes and became the 15th winner of England’s triple crown. He is the last horse to have won the English triple.
Sept. 12, 1973: Fully recovered from a virus that had beset him at Saratoga, Secretariat worked five furlongs in :57 as his last preparation for the Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap.
Sept. 13, 1974: D. Wayne Lukas won his first Thoroughbred stakes victory, saddling his own three-year-old colt, Harbor Hauler, in the second division of the Foothill Stakes at Pomona to earn $6,312.
Sept. 13, 1989: Jockey Pat Day won eight of the day’s nine races at Arlington International Racecourse. In his only loss, Day finished second on Wayne’s by George.
Sept. 13, 2005: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum purchased a Storm Cat colt for $9.7 million at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Sept. 14, 1853: West Australian won the St. Leger Stakes by three lengths and became England’s first Triple Crown winner.
Sept. 14, 1959: The new $32 million Aqueduct, operated by the New York Racing Association, opened.
Sept. 14, 2001: The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders’ Cup Limited announced the formation of the NTRA Charities – New York Heroes Fund to benefit the children and spouses of the firefighters, police officers, emergency workers and other victims who perished in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The organizations also dedicated the Oct. 27 Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, to be run at Belmont Park to the memory of those slain and their survivors.
Sept. 15, 1876: Isaac Murphy, one of the nation’s greatest black jockeys, had his first career win, aboard Glentina, at the Kentucky Association meet in Lexington. Then known as Isaac Burns, Murphy later adopted the surname of his grandfather.
Sept. 15, 1973: Secretariat won the Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap in the then-world record time of 1:45 2/5 for 1 1/8 miles. He defeated his stablemate, Riva Ridge, by 3 1/2 lengths. The winner’s share of the purse, $150,000, made Secretariat a millionaire.
Sept. 15, 2001: Jockey Russell Baze, the fourth winningest rider in history behind only Laffit Pincay Jr., Bill Shoemaker and Pat Day, registered his 7,500th career victory after piloting Valid Double to victory in the third race at Bay Meadows racetrack in San Mateo, Calif.
Sept. 15, 2007: Purchased for a record $16 million as a two-year-old, The Green Monkey made his racing debut at Belmont Park and finished third in a maiden race.