News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
HOLD ME BACK TOPS NINE IN KENTUCKY CUP CLASSIC
Second behind Summer Bird last time out in the Shadwell Travers Stakes at Saratoga, Hold Me Back will take on older horses for the first time as the 7-5 morning line favorite in a field of nine in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. The Kentucky Cup Classic is the centerpiece of three graded stakes events at this year’s Kentucky Cup Day of Champions. Supported the Classic on the card are the Grade III, $100,000 Kentucky Cup Distaff for older fillies and mares at a mile and one sixteenth, and the Grade III, $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint for three-year-olds at six furlongs.
Trained by Bill Mott, Hold Me Back can earn a trip to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 7 at Oak Tree at Santa Anita if he performs well on Saturday. With the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to be run over the synthetic track at Santa Anita, Mott admitted that Turfway’s synthetic Polytrack was a factor in shipping his charge to Turfway Park. Earlier this year, Hold Me Back captured the Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway.
“The surface was part of the reason for our decision to come,” said Mott. “He’s done well there, and the timing was good for us.”
One of Hold Me Back’s toughest rivals on Saturday may be Dubious Miss, who tracked a wire-to-wire winner to finish second earlier this month in Arlington Park’s Grade III Washington Park Handicap.
“He ran real well in his last at Arlington,” said Dubious Miss’s trainer Paul McGee. “I do think he really likes the Polytrack. He also ran good on it at Keeneland [winning an allowance race in April 2008], so we thought we’d try him in this race at Turfway.”
The complete Kentucky Cup Classic field, in post position order, is: Jazz in the Park (jockey: Jon Court, morning line odds: 30-1); Hold Me Back (Julien Leparoux, 7-5); Sligovitz (Leandro Gonçalves, 6-1); Wicked Style (Robby Albarado, 9-2); Your Round (Miguel Mena, 30-1); Timeless Fashion (James Lopez, 8-1); Furthest Land (Garrett Gomez, 6-1); Godolphin Gray (Aldo Canchano, 30-1); and Dubious Miss (Calvin Borel, 7-2).
SATURDAY’S JIM MCKAY MARYLAND MILLION FEATURES 114 STARTERS
The 24th Jim McKay Maryland Million, a festive homecoming for Marylanders, attracted 114 entrants to Saturday’s 12-race program at Laurel Park. The day will offer purses of $1.23 million in races restricted to offspring of Maryland-based stallions.
In the day’s featured event, the $200,000 Maryland Million Classic at 1 1/8 miles, a wide-open field of 10 will face the starter including the defending champion Cuba and three others who have tasted victory on Maryland’s Day At The Races.
Cuba has been made the co-fourth choice at 8-1 by Maryland Jockey Club handicapper Frank Carulli. Trained by Bobby Dibona at Monmouth Park, the son of Not For Love won the 2008 Classic by four lengths as the favorite. This year the eight-year-old has won one time in seven tries, but Dibona believes he is peaking at the right time.
“I think we’re doing great,” Dibona said. “He’s looks really, really good. We pointed to this race. We had a very hard campaign last year. We won one at Gulfstream in January, and then he got a little cranky so we backed off. We freshened him, and it looks like he’s rounding into form at the right time.”
The 9-5 morning line favorite for the Classic is Broadway Producer, who won the 2008 Maryland Million Turf and is looking to become the second horse in Maryland Million history to follow up with a win in the Classic the following year, joining Master Speaker who did it in 1988-89. The son of Not For Love is winless in four starts during his six-year-old campaign but trainer John Terranova has been pointing towards the Classic all year. Ramon Dominguez, the nation’s leading jockey in terms of purse earnings, will ride.
“We’ve had this race in mind since the springtime when we decided to try to back off and freshen after a winter campaign in which he did very well,” Terranova said. “We kept him in New York and kind of had him in light training for a couple of months. We gave him a turf race as a prep, and we’re going back to the dirt for the Classic. He’s in excellent shape. He’s in top shape-real sharp. He’s rarin’ to go.”
Introduced in 1986, the event has now been officially designated as the Jim McKay Maryland Million after the Maryland General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in support of the name change during the 2009 Legislative Session. The Hall of Fame broadcaster originally proposed the Maryland Million concept and remained the event’s Chairman of the Board until his death on June 7, 2008. There will be a special presentation to the McKay family at Laurel prior to the third race.
BREEDERS’ CUP TO OFFER PICK 6 WAGER ON BOTH DAYS OF NOVEMBER EVENT
The Breeders’ Cup announced this week that an all Breeders’ Cup Pick 6 wager will be offered on both days of this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, November 6-7, at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park. The announcement is the latest in a number of fan-friendly initiatives the Breeders’ Cup has enacted over the last several months including online ticketing, the switch to colored saddle towels, creation of a handicapping micro-site and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.
The Breeders’ Cup, Thoroughbred racing’s global championship event, consisting of 14 races and purses totaling $25.5 million, will held at the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita for the second consecutive year. The Breeders’ Cup will also be televised live by ABC/ESPN with nine hours of live domestic coverage and in 130 foreign countries.
Wagering on the Breeders’ Cup races will also be conducted in more than 40 countries around the globe. (International post times for England, Ireland, France, South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand are attached).
The Championship Friday program will consist of six Breeders’ Cup races, beginning with the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon, and will be followed by five consecutive Breeders’ Cup races for females, culminating with the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. 1). The Marathon will begin the all Breeders’ Cup Pick 6. If no one hits the Pick-6, the pool will be carried over into the Saturday Breeders’ Cup Ultra Pick 6. Friday’s nine race program will also include the Grade II Las Palmas Handicap and two allowance races.
Championship Saturday will feature eight Breeders’ Cup races, culminating with the Grade I, $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Saturday’s 10-race card will also include the Grade II Oak Tree Derby and the Damascus Stakes.
“We believe that the schedule of six Championships races on Friday and eight on Saturday will provide better balance to the program and greater betting opportunities for the fans,” said Kenneth Kirchner, President of FalKirk International and wagering consultant to the Breeders’ Cup. “Fans should find the Pick 6 sequence on Friday and Saturday to be great bets and based on last year’s $1 million Friday Pick 6 handle, we could enjoy a substantial carryover into Saturday.”
The official race order for the two-day event will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 27.
JOCKEY JOE TALAMO TO APPEAR ON TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O’BRIEN MONDAY
Southern California-based jockey Joe Talamo, one of the stars of the Animal Planet series “Jockeys”, will be a special guest this Monday night, September 28, on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.
In addition to an interview with O’Brien, Talamo is expected to take part in a demonstration on an Equicizer device, which simulates the race-riding experience jockeys encounter while in the saddle during a race.
Sharing The Tonight Show couch with Talamo as a fellow guest on Monday will be actress Drew Barrymore. The show will air on the East Coast at 11:30 p.m., after the late, local news. Check local listings for viewing times in your area.
disney needs extras for “secretariat” on monday, tuesday at keeneland
Walt Disney Studios has invited the public to come out to Keeneland on Monday and Tuesday, September 28-29, to serve as unpaid extras for the shooting of the movie “Secretariat” at the Lexington, Ky., racetrack. All ages are welcome. The only requirement is that those who come need to be wearing 1970s-period clothing.
Sign-in for each day will take place at 8:00 a.m. Hot dogs and drinks will be supplied to the first 250 extras. There will also be audience giveaways. Fans are advised by Disney to enter through Gate 2 and to “bring a good book”.