News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
BRIBON TO TACKLE LAST YEAR’S TOP TWO IN WOODBINE MILE
New York invader Bribon, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Ventura and defending champion Rahy’s Attorney head a well-matched group of 10 turf specialists for Sunday’s Grade I, $1 million Woodbine Mile at Woodbine in suburban Toronto.
For the second consecutive year, the Woodbine Mile is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series, giving the winner a guaranteed starting berth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, November 7 ,at Oak Tree at Santa Anita.
Marc Keller’s Bribon, trained by Robert Ribaudo, won the Grade I Metropolitan Mile over Belmont Park’s main track on May 25 before returning to the racing wars August 9 at Saratoga, easily winning a one-mile allowance event. It was the first time in over two years that he’d raced on grass, a surface he’d competed on in his first 10 career starts from 2005-07, the first seven of which were in France.
To be ridden by Alan Garcia, the six-year-old French-bred gelded son of champion Mark of Esteem is on a three-race win streak and is the 5-2 morning line choice.
Juddmonte Farms’ Kentucky homebred Ventura, a five-year-old daughter of Chester House, comes into the race off a five-month layoff as she tries to become the first filly or mare to win the Woodbine Mile. Trained by Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel, Ventura, the 7-2 second choice, has raced only three times this year, all in Grade I events. The field’s leading money-winner with over $1.6 million and last year’s runner-up in the Woodbine Mile before her explosive victory over Indian Blessing in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita, Ventura will be ridden as usual by Garrett Gomez. A win would give Frankel a third Woodbine Mile victory, following Riviera in 2000 and Leroidesanimaux in 2005.
Trainer Ian Black will saddle last year’s surprise Woodbine Mile winner Rahy’s Attorney, the 9-2 third choice with Slade Callaghan aboard. Rahy’s Attorney seeks to become the race’s first back-to-back winner. Co-owned (and bred) by Ontario’s Ellie Boje Farm, along with Mitch Peters, Dean Read and Jim and Jean MacLellan, Rahy’s Attorney scored a 12-1 upset in the Mile last year, holding Ventura safe by one and one-quarter lengths. He would go on to be voted a Sovereign Award as Canada’s top Turf Male.
Two other turf stakes highlight an exceptional Woodbine Mile undercard: the Grade I, $750,000 Northern Dancer Stakes, presented by V-Tech, at one mile and one-half for three-year-olds and upward, includes defending champion Champs Elysees and Marchfield, Canada’s Older Male Horse of 2008; and the Grade II, $300,000 Canadian Stakes, at one mile and one-eighth for fillies and mares, features Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf champion and Eclipse Award winner, Forever Together.
SOUL WARRIOR WILL TRY TO WIN ANOTHER DERBY AT LOUISIANA DOWNS
Soul Warrior, winner of the August 1 West Virginia Derby over Big Drama and Mine That Bird, has been made the 2-1 morning line favorite in a field of seven for Sunday’s Grade II, $750,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La. John Velazquez will ride for trainer Steve Asmussen.
The 1 1/8-miles race for three-year-olds also features the return of Godolphin Racing’s Regal Ransom, who has not started since running eighth behind Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby on May 2.
BREEDERS’ CUP LAUNCHES MICRO SITE BREEDERSCUP360.COM
The Breeders’ Cup has announced the launch of BreedersCup360, a specialized Website focused on all aspects related to wagering on the Breeders’ Cup. The site places a particular focus on the international competitors who are not as well known to many U.S.-based horseplayers. In addition to providing the most up-to-date betting information on the Breeders’ Cup, users will have access to more than 100 race videos spanning all 14 divisions with critical commentary on each.
The site will also include statistics, providing the user with wagering trends on trainers, jockeys and sires and dams compiled from the first 25 runnings of the Breeders’ Cup.
Additional features of BreedersCup360 include: Full Breeders’ Cup social media integration (Twitter, Facebook, widgets, Flickr and YouTube); links to many Breeders’ Cup sections from other racing entities such as The Blood-Horse, Thoroughbred Times, Equidia and At the Races; content provided by TVG, HRTV, ATTHERACES, The Player’s Network, Equibase, and Daily Racing Form; detailed European analysis, including insights from At the Races, as well as BC360 international correspondents Nick Luck and Fanny Salmon; handicapping analysis from Simon Bray (TVG), Caton Bredar (ESPN/Breeders’ Cup), Donna Brothers (NBC Sports), Dick Jerardi (Philadelphia Daily News/Daily Racing Form), Jeremy Plonk (ESPN.com/HorseplayerPRO.com), Jeff Siegel (HRTV), Tim Turrell (ESPN Breeders’ Cup/HorseplayerPRO.com) and others; special contributions from Jerry Bailey (ESPN/Breeders’ Cup), Jerry Brown (Thoro-Graph) and Randy Moss (DRF/ESPN Breeders’ Cup)
BreedersCup360 is also fully interactive. Fans can share their opinions about races and Breeders’ Cup contenders alongside the site’s analysts and contributors.
“Breederscup360.com is an interactive Welcome Mat for bettors looking for the latest handicapping content to specifically prepare them for Championship weekend,” said Peter Rotondo, Breeders’ Cup Vice President of Media and Entertainment. “This well respected team of international and domestic contributors will provide expert commentary and analysis on all Breeders’ Cup hopefuls from around the world in these final weeks before the Breeders’ Cup.”
The site was built entirely with open source software — one of the first such sites from a major racing organization — and it was designed by Jessica Chapel of raceday360.com. Chapel is also a member of the NTRA Online Marketing Task Force.
SEVEN-FIGURE MEDAGLIA D’ORO FILLY HEADLINES WEDNESDAY AT KEENELAND SALE
Fillies ruled the day on Wednesday at Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale in Lexington, Ky. Highlighting the sales action was a Medaglia d’Oro filly purchased for $1.3 million by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation.
Consigned by Summerfield, the filly is out of the stakes-placed Unreal Zeal mare Beaties for Real, and is a half-sister to Grade III stakes winners Friel’s for Real and Ryan’s for Real.
Bruce Hill, general manager of Live Oak, described the filly as “well balanced and elegant.”
Elizabeth Moran’s Brushwood Stable paid the day’s second-highest price of $725,000 for a filly by Bernardini out of the unraced Storm Bird mare Listen Now. Consigned by Legacy Bloodstock, agent for Spruce Lane Farm and Samuel G. Nappi, the filly is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Listen Here.
On Wednesday, Keeneland sold 229 horses for $32,718,000, down 35.60 percent from 2008 when 270 horses brought $50,807,000. The average decreased 24.07 percent from $188,174 to $142,873. The median of $100,000 was down 37.50 percent from last year’s $160,000.
Through its first three days, a total of 451 horses have been sold for $91,474,000, down 44.28 percent from 2008 when 570 horses brought $164,164,000. The average of $202,825 was down 29.58 percent from $288,007, while the median of $150,000 declined 31.82 percent from last year’s $220,000.
“We are going through a painful correction and no one is exempt,” said Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell. This is where the Thoroughbred market is now.”
Case Clay, president of Three Chimneys Sales, agreed.
“Today, people understand we are in a different world now,” he said. “Those that understand the current market are getting horses sold. There is fair, honest trade going on. Some new people will get in the business because of the good value. Today, I’ve had calls from people who are watching the market and thinking now is the time.”
The September Sale continues through Monday, September 28. The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.
Calder commitment Brings Crime stoppers Reward to $10,000
Calder Casino & Race Course in Miami has pledged $3,000 to Crime Stoppers of Miami-Dade County to bring the reward money to $10,000 for a tip resulting in the arrest of the individual(s) responsible for the killing and mutilation of horses in South Florida, including a gruesome discovery last week on a ranch in Miami. The horse was the 20th in South Florida to be reported killed and slaughtered since March.
“The Thoroughbred racing community is appalled at the recent rash of horse slaughters in South Florida,” said Calder’s Director of Public Relations Michele Blanco. “No horse deserves such a tragic end. We hope our contribution to the reward fund helps find the perpetrator or perpetrators of this heinous crime.”
Richard Masten, Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Miami-Dade said, “We know someone out there knows something and we just need that person to come forward. We appreciate Calder’s help in trying to make that happen.”