Thursday, May 28, 2015

American Pharoah Back on Track After Belmont Work

American Pharoah returned to the track Thursday morning at Churchill Downs, two days after a half-mile breeze in preparation for his bid to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner in the Belmont Stakes June 6 at Belmont Park. Under regular exercise rider Jorge Alvarez, American Pharoah jogged approximately a mile the wrong way during the special 15-minute window (7:30 a.m.-7:45 a.m., Central) set aside for horses running in the Belmont Stakes.

American Pharoah, runaway winner of the Arkansas Derby and Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn, walked the shedrow Wednesday after working a half-mile in :48 Tuesday morning. He is scheduled to work again Sunday or Monday at Churchill Downs before shipping to New York Tuesday.

American Pharoah is trying to become the 12th Triple Crown winner, and first since Affirmed in 1978.
 
Oh, Canada

Conquest Curlinate, a powerful Jan. 31 maiden winner at Oaklawn, will bypass the Belmont and point for the $1 million Queen’s Plate, Canada’s equivalent of the Kentucky Derby, July 5 at Woodbine, trainer Mark Casse announced Thursday morning.

Casse said Conquest Curlinate wasn’t training as well as he needed to be to run against the likes of American Pharoah in the 1 ½-mile Belmont. The colt would have had to have been supplemented to the race for $75,000 because he wasn’t a Triple Crown nominee. The 1 ¼-mile Queen’s Plate is restricted to 3-year-olds bred in Canada.

After breaking his maiden, Conquest Curlinate ran third in a Feb. 19 allowance race at Oaklawn before finishing second in the $400,000 Illinois Derby (G3) April 18 at Hawthorne and second to Madefromlucky in the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G2) May 9 at Belmont Park.

Madefromlucky, who is scheduled to run in the Belmont, ran second to American Pharoah in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 at Oaklawn and fourth behind American Pharoah in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11. In addition to American Pharoah and Madefromlucky, a third Oaklawn-raced horse, The Truth Or Else, is now listed as a Belmont probable.

The Truth Or Else wintered in Hot Springs and ran second in the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G2) Feb. 22, fourth in the Rebel and seventh in the Arkansas Derby.

Trained by Kenny McPeek, The Truth Or Else broke his maiden last fall at Belmont and won an allowance/optional claiming race there Friday.
 
Don’t Tell Sophia Bred

Four-time Oaklawn stakes winner Don’t Tell Sophia, a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion older female last year, has been bred to Medaglia d’Oro and will be retired if she’s in foal, said Phil Sims, the 7-year-old mare’s co-owner/trainer. Sims said he will know next week if Don’t Tell Sophia is in foal.

Don’t Tell Sophia, a Grade I winner of $1,382,479, was based at Oaklawn in early 2015 but hasn’t run this year because of weather-related training setbacks in Arkansas and Kentucky, Sims said. The Congaree mare won Oaklawn’s Pippin Stakes and Bayakoa Stakes in 2013 and 2014.

Sims said if Don’t Tell Sophia isn’t in foal, she could run three times this fall before being retired.

“We’ve just kind of been up against the elements,” Sims said. “She doesn’t like the heat, so we decided if we were going to breed her, we better breed her now.”

Sims said there’s a “good chance” Don’t Tell Sophia will be sold in the fall if she’s in foal, but nothing is concrete at the moment. The trainer purchased her for only $1,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Medaglia d’Oro broke his maiden at the 2002 Oaklawn meeting and won the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in 2003. He sired 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra.

Making Plans

Trainer Ron Moquett said he’s leaning toward the $500,000 Ohio Derby June 20 at ThistleDown for Far Right’s next start. Far Right was the top locally based 3-year-old this year at Oaklawn, winning the 150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 19 and the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 22.

Far Right finished second to American Pharoah in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11, and, in his last start, was 15th in the Kentucky Derby May 2.

Far Right has two published workouts since the Kentucky Derby, including a half-mile move in company Sunday at Churchill Downs with Phenomenal Phoenix, a recent addition to Moquett’s barn.

Both horses were timed in :48.20.

“It was a controlled work,” Moquett said. “I wanted them to work all the way through together and they did.”

Far Right is also a candidate for the $250,000 Iowa Derby (G3) June 27 at Prairie Meadows and the $500,000 Indiana Derby (G2) July 18 at Indiana Grand.

Moquett said Phenomenal Phoenix is under consideration for the $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes June 6 at Belmont Park and the $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) June 13 at Churchill Downs. Phenomenal Phoenix, who was purchased privately, joined Moquett’s stable after finishing third in the $400,000 Illinois Derby (G3) April 18 at Hawthorne.

Phenomenal Phoenix wintered at Oaklawn with trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel and won a March 26 allowance race before running in the Illinois Derby.
 
Three of a Kind

Three Oaklawn stakes winners, including champion Work All Week, are entered in the $100,000 Aristides Stakes (G3) Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Work All Week, who earned an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion male sprinter of 2014, is scheduled to make his 2015 debut in the 6-furlong Aristides.Work All Week wintered at Oaklawn in 2014 and won an allowance/optional claiming race and the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes.

Also entered in the 6-furlong Aristides are Alsvid, winner of the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 9 and Gentlemen’s Bet, winner of the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 7.

Work All Week was a candidate to make his 2015 debut in the Count Fleet, but wasn’t far enough along in his training after arriving in Hot Springs March 17, trainer Roger Brueggemann said. He did work three times this spring at Oaklawn – March 25, March 31 and April 8. He has also worked six times at Churchill’s Trackside training facility leading up the Aristides.

Work All Week hasn’t started since winning the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita, the gelding’s 12th victory from 15 lifetime starts. The 6-5 program favorite for the Aristides is scheduled to break from post 7 in the seven-horse field.

Alsvid (3-1) drew the rail, while Gentlemen’s Bet (7-2) is scheduled to break from post 4. Trainer Ron Moquett said Gentlemen’s Bet could run in the $250,000 True North Handicap (G2) June 5 at Belmont Park if there’s an off track Saturday.

Also entered in the Aristides is Googleado, who ran sixth in a 2014 allowance/optional claiming sprint at Oaklawn when trained by Randy Morse.

Probable post time for the Aristides is 3:18 p.m. (Central).
 
He’s Back

Frac Daddy, runner-up in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) in 2013, is scheduled to make his 2015 debut in Saturday’s $65,000 Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill Downs. He hasn’t started since finishing fourth in the $250,000 San Diego Handicap (G2) last July at Del Mar.

Frac Daddy was scheduled to run in the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) last August at Del Mar, but missed the race because of a freak leg injury, then was diagnosed with colic, trainer Kenny McPeek said. The Opening Verse is 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
 
Race Day Update

Race Day, who emerged as one of the country’s top older horses at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting, will likely miss the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) June 13 at Churchill Downs because of a minor setback, owner Matt Schera said. Schera said trainer Todd Pletcher believes Race Day will begin breezing again soon and the owner is “happy” the problem is “nothing major.”

Race Day, a 4-year-old son of Tapit, earned a career-high 110 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 11. He also won the $250,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 14.

Race Day, who hasn’t had a published workout since May 3 at Keeneland, had been under consideration for the $1.25 million Met Mile (G1), but wasn’t nominated to the prestigious race June 6 at Belmont Park.

Race Day has won 5 of 8 career starts and $610,450.

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