News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
OAK TREE NAMES GRADE I RACE AFTER ZENYATTA
Following what many consider to be the most dramatic performance in Breeders’ Cup history, the Oak Tree Racing Association has announced that the undefeated mare Zenyatta, a devastating last-to-first winner of the Grade I, $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Oak Tree on Nov. 7, will be honored by having the name of the race she won in both 2008 and 2009, the Grade I Lady’s Secret, renamed The Zenyatta, effective next year.
“When the history books are written, we feel that what Zenyatta accomplished here on Nov. 7 will go down as one of the all-time great achievements in American racing,” said Oak Tree Director and Executive Vice President Sherwood Chillingworth. “Lady’s Secret was a great mare herself. She won the [Breeders’ Cup] Distaff here in 1986 and went on to be named Horse of the Year, but what Zenyatta did here against the best horses in the world is something none of us who witnessed it will ever forget.”
The Lady’s Secret, which was inaugurated in 1993, is for fillies and mares aged 3-and-up, at 1 1/16 miles.
Oak Tree’s 42nd fall race meeting begins in September, 2010.
HANFORD, OLDEST DERBY WINNING JOCKEY, DIES AT 91
Ira “Babe” Hanford, who won the 1936 Kentucky Derby aboard Bold Venture, passed away on Saturday, Nov. 21 in Ocala, Fla. after a lengthy illness. He was 91.
Hanford was the oldest living Kentucky Derby-winning jockey and was the first apprentice to win the “Run for the Roses.”
One of 10 children, Hanford grew up in Fairbury, Neb., and followed his two brothers to the East Coast to become a jockey. His oldest brother “Buddy” died after sustaining a head injury in a race at Pimlico Race Course in 1933. His brother Carl, now 93, is the Hall of Fame trainer best known for training five-time Horse of the Year Kelso.
Ira Hanford was at Churchill Downs for the 2006 Kentucky Derby.
“Babe and I enjoyed celebrating the 70th anniversary of his winning ride by attending the 2006 Kentucky Derby,” said Virginia “Ginny” Hanford, his wife of 67 years.
In addition to his wife and brother, Hanford is survived by his two sons Glenn and Gary and numerous nieces and nephews, including trainer Gail Hanford.
FRIDAY’S CITATION HANDICAP KICKS OFF TURF FESTIVAL AT HOLLYWOOD PARK
Cowboy Cal, runner-up here last fall in the Hollywood Derby, will try to bounce back from a tenth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in Friday’s Grade I, $300,000 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Cowboy Cal, owned by Robert and Janice McNair, tired after vying for the lead in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Two starts back, the four-year-old scored a front-running victory in the Oak Tree Mile.
Winner of five of 12 turf starts, Cowboy Cal is the 120-pound high weight in the Citation, which will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the first day of Hollywood Park’s three-day Turf Festival. Saturday’s grass action is headlined by the Grade I Matriarch Stakes for fillies and mares, while Sunday’s marquee event is the Grade I Hollywood Derby for turf-favoring three-year-olds.
Cowboy Cal will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano for the first time in the Citation’s field of ten older horses. The complete lineup, in post position order, is: Fluke (jockey: Joe Talamo); Skyrush (Martin Pedroza); Proudinsky (Mike Smith); Blue Chagall (Garrett Gomez); Ever a Friend (Joel Rosario); Cowboy Cal (Rafael Bejarano); El Gato Malo (David Flores); Enriched (Michael Baze); Monzante (Alex Solis); and Times Gone By (Alonso Quinonez).
DEFENDING CHAMP EINSTEIN FACES FULL FIELD OF FOES IN FRIDAY’S CLARK
Stronach Stables’ Einstein will carry high weight of 123 pounds and break from the outside post in a field of 14 as he shoots for back-to-back victories in Friday’s 135th running of the Grade II, $400,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Trained by Helen Pitts-Blasi, Einstein will attempt to become the first back-to-back winner of the Clark since Bob’s Dusty in 1977-78. Only two others have posted consecutive victories in the Clark: Hodge (1915-16) and Bold Favorite (1968-69).
Despite his outside post in the large field, Einstein was installed as the 7-2 favorite by Churchill Downs linemaker Mike Battaglia.
Einstein, who will be ridden for the first time by Rajiv Maragh, is one of three Grade I stakes winners in the Clark field. Einstein has accumulated four of his five Grade I victories on the grass with the fifth coming over the Pro-Ride surface at Saint Anita where he took the Santa Anita Handicap in March. He was a hard-luck third in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap in his most recent trip over the dirt surface at Churchill back in June. Einstein will concede 2-10 pounds to his rivals in the Clark.
The field for the Clark Handicap, in post position order, is: You and I Forever (jockey: Jose Valdivia Jr., morning line odds: 20-1); Macho Again (Robby Albarado, 9-2), Giant Oak (Shaun Bridgmohan, 20-1), Demarcation (Jesus Castanon, 20-1), Blame (Jamie Theriot, 6-1), Anarko (Leandro Goncalves, 50-1), Anak Nakal (Joe Bravo, 30-1), Etched (Alan Garcia, 6-1), Bullsbay (Jeremy Rose, 6-1), Kiss the Kid (Paco Lopez, 15-1), Timber Reserve (Kent Desormeaux, 20-1), Misremembered (Victor Espinoza, 8-1), Dubious Miss (Calvin Borel, 10-1); and Einstein (Rajiv Maragh, 7-2).
Churchill Downs will also play host to the Grade II Falls City Handicap for fillies and mares on Thanksgiving, and to both the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and the Grade II Golden Rod Stakes on Saturday as part of a special “Stars of Tomorrow II” program featuring a full card of races for two-year-olds.
CIGAR MILE TOPS BIG THANKSGIVING WEEKEND AT AQUEDUCT
Aqueduct hosts its annual Holiday Fest starting tomorrow when the Ozone Park, N.Y. racetracks cards the 96th running of the Grade III, $100,000-added Fall Highweight Handicap. The entry of The Roundhouse and Go Go Shoot was made the 5-2 morning line choice in the field of 10. As is the custom in the Fall Highweight, the contestants will shoulder more weight than usual. Go Go Shoot has the highest impost at 134 lbs.
Friday’s feature is the Grade II, $150,000 Top Flight Handicap for fillies and mares going a mile, with Porte Bonheur, Cuvee Uncorked, Sara Louise, Skylighter, Spritely and Weathered expected to face the starter, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.
The Holiday Fest stakes action continues Saturday with four graded stakes: the Grade I, $300,000 Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile, the Grade I, $300,000 Gazelle at 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-old fillies and a pair of Grade II contests for 2-year-olds, the Demoiselle, for fillies, and the Remsen, both at 1 1/8 miles.
Likely for the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile are four Grade I winners: Shadwell Metropolitan Handicap hero Bribon (FR); Vosburgh winner Kodiak Kowboy; and the Godolphin Stable duo of Vineyard Haven, who exits a winning effort in the DeFrancis Dash at Laurel, and Pyro. The speedy Driven by Success may complete what shapes up as a short field.
Six are expected in the Gazelle, including the 2008 Juvenile Filly Champion Stardom Bound, who hasn’t raced since April.
The Champagne winner Homeboykris tops the likely Remsen field, which should also include the Nashua winner Buddy’s Saint along with Fudge Truffle, Grand Rapport and Peppi Knows.
Fuzzy Britches, In the Rough, Profiteroles, Protesting, Tizahit and Oh Diane are probable for the Demoiselle.