News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
NATIONAL FUND RAISER FOR JOCKEY TAD LEGGETT TO BE HELD LABOR DAY
A fund raiser for seriously injured Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred jockey Tad Leggett will be held at racetracks across the country on Labor Day, September 6.
On that day, both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse jockeys are asked to donate a losing mount fee to assist Tad’s family and help with costs associated with his care and rehabilitation. Tad suffered a broken neck on June 30 immediately after the third race at Fair Meadows Racetrack in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
After undergoing two extensive surgeries for the spinal injuries and to stabilize his neck, Leggett was transported to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, where he is currently undergoing rehabilitation. Craig Hospital specializes in rehabilitation and therapy for catastrophic cervical spinal cord injuries.
Because of the considerable costs associated with the procedures and rehabilitation, Leggett’s medical care is reaching the insurance limits of the $500,000 on-track accident policy provided by Fair Meadows at Tulsa.
“We need the help of anybody and everybody to assist with Tad’s medical expenses,” said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “Tad deserves a real chance to make a full recovery. It is necessary to raise this money to give Tad an opportunity to recover from his catastrophic injury.”
Tad has made significant progress over the past several weeks have regained feeling and some movement in his extremities. His wife, Tina, and family are optimistic regarding his recovery.
To bring awareness to Leggett, jockeys will be riding with a boot decal with Tad’s name. Other promotional events to raise funds will be held at various tracks, including an autograph signing at Ruidoso Downs prior to the running of the All-American Futurity with Quarter Horse jockeys, including G.R. Carter, Cody Jensen and Hall of Fame Jockey, Jerry Nicodemus.
Leggett is a 25-year journeyman jockey who has been an active member of the Jockeys’ Guild since 1992. He is the career leader in Quarter Horse victories at Prairie Meadows, winning more than 400. He has also ridden at Remington Park, Lone Star Park and Canterbury Park.
The Jockeys’ Guild is facilitating establishment of a fund to assist Tad Leggett and his family. Those wishing to donate should send checks to the Jockeys’ Guild and mailed to 103 Wind Haven Drive, Ste 200, Nicholasville, KY 40356. Please make note of “Tad Leggett” on the check’s memo line.
QUALITY ROAD LOOKS TO GET BACK ON TRACK IN WOODWARD
At the beginning of the year, when trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Edward P. Evans began mapping out Quality Road’s run to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, it included several key stops, including the Grade I Donn Handicap, the Grade I Met Mile, and the Grade I Whitney. Everything was going according to plan until the final yards of the Whitney, when Quality Road was nabbed at the wire by Blame for his first loss of the year.
Saturday, Quality Road’s connections are looking for the Elusive Quality colt to get back on track when he faces six others in the 57th running of the Grade I, $750,000 Woodward Stakes, the highlight of a Saturday Saratoga card that will also include the Grade I, $250,000 Forego Stakes for older sprinters.
“We were a half-a-head short of [being unbeaten] this year,” said Pletcher of Quality Road’s 4-year-old campaign. “Every race is paramount; they’re all important. If you lose, you regroup and try again, to regain his confidence, and regain our confidence.”
In the Whitney, Quality Road found himself alone on an easy lead, and wound up surprised in the final jumps by the fast-closing Blame. In the Woodward, Pletcher is hoping the speedy Arcodoro, front-running winner of two of his three starts this year, will give Quality Road a target in the 1 1/8th-mile race.
“We’re hoping for someone to show enough initiative so he can follow someone,” said Pletcher, who will again give John Velazquez a leg up on Quality Road, the 1-4 morning line favorite. “That would be our Plan A.”
Two colts who have tangled with Quality Road before are back for another try – Convocation, who was fourth in the Met Mile on Memorial Day, and 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who was fifth, beaten 12 ½ lengths, in the Whitney.
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, who last week won the Grade I Travers with Afleet Express, Convocation followed the Met Mile with a second to Haynesfield in the Grade II Suburban at Belmont and a victory in an optional claimer on August 4 at Saratoga.
“He has a victory at the distance here,” said Jerkens of Convocation, who breezed a half-mile in 48.66 Tuesday. “You have to think that’s big going into a stakes.”
Mine That Bird, who has not won since his 50-1 upset in last year’s Run for the Roses, got a new trainer this spring in Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. On Saturday, he will get a change of equipment with the addition of blinkers, and a new rider in Rajiv Maragh.
“We needed to move forward,” said Lukas, for whom Mine That Bird is winless in two starts. “The blinkers, the rider change – we weren’t getting results with the way things were.”
The complete Woodward field, in post position order, is: Convocation (jockey: Javier Castellano, morning line odds: 6-1); Mine That Bird (Rajiv Maragh, 10-1); Quality Road (John Velazquez, 1-4); Arcodoro (David Cohen, 30-1); Indian Dance (Kent Desormeaux, 20-1); Tranquil Manner (Alan Garcia, 15-1); and Mythical Power (Martin Garcia, 12-1).
DOZEN JUVENILE FILLIES IN DEL MAR’S DARKEY DEBUTANTE
The undefeated Wickedly Perfect, trained by Del Mar’s leading conditioner, Doug O’Neill, takes the spotlight in a field of 12 2-year-old fillies, including two supplementary entries, in Saturday’s Grade I, $250,000 Darley Debutante at 7 furlongs on the main track.
Wickedly Perfect broke her maiden at first asking at Hollywood Park and polished off a competitive field of seven in Del Mar’s Grade III Sorrento Stakes on August 6. She’s worked once since, going an easy 6 furlongs in 1:14.40 last Friday. Rafael Bejarano retains the ride on the daughter of Congrats that was bought for $70,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sales April sale of 2-year-olds in training.
The Sorrento’s second-, third- and fourth-place finishers in that race — A Z Warrior, Izshelegal, one of the two supplemental entries, and She’ll Heir, are back for another shot at Wickedly Perfect. A Z Warrior won first time out at Hollywood Park, also, before getting shaded by a length to the O’Neill juvenile.
Izshelegal is still a maiden, having finished second and third in her two outings, but trainer Terry Knight and her owners think enough of her chances to put up the $10,000 supplemental fee for the daughter of Maria’s Mon out of an A.P. Indy mare. Though not nominated to the Debutante, Izshelegal obviously has been highly prized, bringing a price of $130,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Knight has said all along that he expects Izshelegal, who was a fast-closing third in the Sorrento and missed second by a head, to get better with distance. Victor Espinoza will be in the irons again.
She’ll Heir, trained by Vladimir Cerin for major clients David and Holly Wilson, won her first two outings, including Hollywood Park’s Cinderella Stakes, but is winless in her last two starts, the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood and the Sorrento.
Avid, a super-impressive Del Mar winner in her only start for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, is expected to get a lot of fan support. The daughter of More Than Ready will be ridden by Joel Rosario, taking over for Bejarano, who rode her in the maiden win.
Others coming into the race from victories are Sugarinthemorning, a California-bred daughter of Candy Ride trained by Hall of Famer Ron McAnally; Tell a Kelly, owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash and trained by John Sadler, who won at Del Mar August 15 and will be ridden again by Alonso Quinonez, and Rigoletta, a Del Mar maiden winner August 8, who is the other $10,000 supplemental entry.
Still in the maiden ranks along with Izshelegal is Righteous Renee, second to Avid the last time out and to A Z Warrior in her first start, Big Tiz and Distant Glow. Righteous Renee, a daughter of Dixie Union, brought $210,000 at the Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training.
Here’s the complete field for the Darley Debutante, in post position order: She’ll Heir (jockey: Brice Blanc); Wickedly Perfect (Rafael Bejarano); Tell a Kelly (Alonso Quinonez); Righteous Renee (David Flores); Big Tiz (Corey Nakatani); Sugarinthemorning (Patrick Valenzuela); Avid (Joel Rosario); Rigoletta (Mike Smith); Gone Rebel (Paul Atkinson); A Z Warrior (Martin Garcia); Distant Glow (Kerwin John); and Izshelegal (Victor Espinoza).
INAUGURAL OAK TREE AT HOLLYWOOD PARK MEET TO FEATURE ZENYATTA IN RACE AGAIN KNOWN AS LADY’S SECRET STAKES
Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., will play host for the first time to the prestigious Oak Tree meeting. The 42nd season, to be known as Oak Tree at Hollywood Park, will begin on September 30 and continue through October 31. A number of Breeders’ Cup preps and the 21st California Cup, a series of stakes races restricted to California breds, highlight the 22-day season.
What will be most anticipated of those Breeders’ Cup preps is the final Southern California start for the undefeated Zenyatta. The 6-year-old daughter of Street Cry, who has been stabled at Hollywood Park throughout her career, is expected to seek her 19th win in a race that she has already won twice.
Scheduled to be called the $250,000 Zenyatta Stakes for the first time in 2010, the race at 1 1/16 miles has been restored to its original name – the $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes – and Zenyatta, who was returned to racing this year after her connections changed their mind about her retirement, will shoot for another victory in the Grade I event.
Zenyatta, who is being pointed for a defense of her 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic victory on Nov. 6, won the Lady’s Secret in both 2008 and 2009 for owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs.
The Lady’s Secret is one of four Grade I contests to be run on October 2. The others are the $250,000 Goodwood Stakes for older horses at 1 1/8 miles, the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles and the $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles on turf.
The following day is topped by the $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship for older horses at 1 ¼ miles on turf and the $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.
A six furlong affair for older horses, the $250,000 Ancient Title is the last of the Grade I races at the meet and will be run on October 9.
“It’s an honor to run the Oak Tree stakes races at Hollywood Park,” said Martin Panza, Hollywood Park’s Racing Secretary. “Oak Tree has seven Grade ones that are very prestigious and extremely significant in getting horses ready for the Breeders’ Cup. We look forward to having those races run here.”
Uncertainty regarding the condition of the main track at Santa Anita triggered the move of the Oak Tree Racing Association, a not-for-profit, non-dividend paying group of California owners and breeders, away from the venue it has occupied since 1969.
LEFTY SEEN PUTTERING AROUND DEL MAR BACKSTRETCH
Golf superstar Phil Mickelson was a visitor to trainer John Sadler’s barn at Del Mar Tuesday morning with his brother, Tim, a Southern California golf pro who claimed the 2-year-old colt Dancing at Dark for $40,000 out of Del Mar’s first race on Sunday. It marks the first time Sadler has trained a horse for Tim Mickelson.
SPORTSNATION RANKING FANS FAVORITE SPORTS AT ESPN.COM
An ESPN.com SportsNation poll is currently asking fans to rank their favorite sports. Through 2:00 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, horse racing ranked 11th overall among the 20 choices listed. In terms of first-place votes, however, the Sport of Kings ranked third, trailing only NFL football and college football.
To vote in the poll, visit: espn.go.com/sportsnation/rank?versionId=1&listId=783