News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
SQUARE EDDIE MAKING COMEBACK SATURDAY IN COOLMORE LEXINGTON
Unraced since January, J. Paul Reddam’s Square Eddie, tops a field of 12 entered for Saturday’s 28th running of the Grade II, $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. The race serves as the final meaningful prep race for the May 2 Kentucky Derby.
Trained by Doug O’Neill, Square Eddie will break from post position eight under Edgar Prado and share top weight of 123 pounds with El Crespo. Square Eddie was the winner of last fall’s Grade I Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity at the famed Lexington oval.
“Three months ago, I would not have been surprised to be here; two months ago, yes,” O’Neill said of Square Eddie, who had an injury to his left front shin discovered on February 2. “His past two works [six-furlong moves of 1:12.20 on April 11 and 1:13 on April 5 at Hollywood Park] have been exceptional, signaling to us that he is ready to get back at it.”
After his victory in the Breeders’ Futurity, Square Eddie closed 2008 with a runner-up finish to Midshipman in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and opened 2009 with a second-place finish in the one-mile San Rafael Stakes behind The Pamplemousse. Following his first workout after the San Rafael, the injury was discovered and Square Eddie went on the shelf for a month, not returning to the work tab until March 22.
With $774,981 in graded stakes earnings, Square Eddie has enough money in the bank to secure a spot in the starting gate for the May 2 Kentucky Derby. The Coolmore Lexington will determine if he takes the next step.
“I would want to see a really good effort and have him come out of it in good shape,” O’Neill said. “Then we would huddle with Team Reddam [about going on to Louisville].”
El Crespo, owned by G. Watts Humphrey Jr., is the other graded stakes winner in the field, having taken the Grade III Palm Beach on turf at Gulfstream Park on March 14 in his most recent start. Trained by Rusty Arnold, El Crespo will break from post position nine and be ridden by Javier Castellano.
The Coolmore Lexington will be televised live on “NTRA Racing to the Kentucky Derby” from 5:00-6:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.
The complete field for the Lexington, in post position order is: Jeranimo (jockey: Brice Blanc, morning line odds: 12-1); Omniscient (Robby Albarado, 6-1); Pitched Perfectly (Alan Garcia, 15-1); Brave Victory (John Velazquez, 8-1); His Greatness (Rene Douglas, 20-1); Masala (Eibar Coa, 6-1); Conservative (Kent Desormeaux, 15-1); Square Eddie (Edgar Prado, 9-5); El Crespo (Javier Castellano, 10-1); Parade Clown (Julien Leparoux, 15-1); Advice (Garrett Gomez, 10-1); and Hull (Miguel Mena, 12-1).
COMMENTATOR HEADS INAUGURAL CHARLES TOWN CLASSIC FIELD
The fields are set for the inaugural Charles Town Classic day card to be held Saturday evening at Charles Town Races & Slots in Charles Town, W.V.
Tracy Farmer’s Commentator drew post position six in a field of 10 as the popular eight-year-old gelding makes his 2009 debut in the night’s featured event, the $500,000 Charles Town Classic to be run at a mile and an eighth. But for Commentator, the race is effectively worth $1 million due to a bonus system that ups the available money to past Grade I winners like him. Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Nick Zito, Commentator captured his second Whitney Handicap in 2008. John Velazquez will journey in to West Virginia for the mount. A trio of west coast challengers will make the trip to Charles Town to challenge Commentator. They are headlined by Bobby Frankel’s Mast Track, winner of the last year’s Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup. Also on the plane from California with Mast Track were Herrick Racing’s Magnum and Zappa from the John Sadler barn. Zappa already arrives with a local connection as his sire, Afternoon Deelites, was one of the most successful West Virginia bred horses ever.
Prior to the Charles Town Classic, a group of 10 fillies and mares will line up to contest the $250,000 Sugar Maple, run at seven furlongs. Cowgirls Don’t Cry, winner of the Grade II Shuvee at Belmont last year, recently made a successful return to the races for trainer Mike Trombetta in winning an allowance race at Charles Town on March 28th. Her main competition figures to come in the form of Weathered, winner of the Grade III Next Move at Aqueduct in her last start.
The Webb Snyder and the Blue & Gold Stakes will join the Charles Town Classic and Sugar Maple as part of an all-stakes Pick Four comprising races seven through 10. Scheduled post time for the Charles Town Classic, which will be Race 10, is 10:00 PM.
GOMEZ IN, SMITH OUT ABOARD STARDOM BOUND FOR KENTUCKY OAKS
Stardom Bound, the Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old filly of 2008, will be ridden in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks by Garrett Gomez, according to IEAH Stables head Michael Iavarone. Stardom Bound had been ridden in all eight of her career starts by Mike Smith. She had won five consecutive Grade I races until finishing third in her most recent effort, the April 4 Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland.
TALAMO TWEETING ON TWITTER
Following in the large footsteps of Shaquille O’Neal, jockey Joe Talamo is the latest professional athlete to share his thoughts – 140 characters at a time – on the popular social messaging outlet Twitter, which now boasts more than seven million users.
The regular rider of top Kentucky Derby contender I Want Revenge and a co-star of the Animal Planet series “Jockeys”, Talamo has been sending daily “tweets” under the banner “30 till Derby”, and will continue to do so through Derby Day on May 2. Talamo enthusiastically agreed to the daily updates after being approached by the NTRA with the idea.
His Twitter updates, which currently have more than 250 followers, have already been reported on by Forbes.com and the popular Southern California Website LAist. To become a Talamo follower, go to www.twitter.com/JoeTalamo and sign up for a free account.
Recent Talamo tweets have touched on his travels to Louisville to work I Want Revenge, his lack of poker success against his girlfriend Elizabeth, and a trip to a tailor to buy a suit for Derby week.