Archive for June 2015

I’m Already Sexy” provides Paco Lopez with his 5th winner in G3 Eatontown

Untitled-1 Jockey Paco Lopez and the turf mare I’m Already Sexy apparently get along very well together. Lopez, reunited with the 5-year-old I’m Already Sexy for the first time since they teamed up to win the Cooper City Handicap at Gulfstream Park in February, helped the mare upset 8-5 favorite Kenzadargent in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Eatontown Stakes at Monmouth Park. Lopez used similar stalking tactics that produced I’m Already Sexy’s head victory in the Cooper City in the 1 1/16-mile Eatontown to collect his fifth win on the card. In contrast to her most recent outing, in which I’m Already Sexy led all the way, only to lose by a head in the Grade 3 Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill Downs three weeks ago, this time she sat fourth for the first half-mile, 3 1/2 lengths off the pace. She was third, but only a half-length back, after six furlongs in 1:11.12. Read Original Article from www.drf.com Lopez asked I’m Already Sexy to launch a three-wide bid on the final turn and she took a narrow lead. In the stretch, I’m Already Sexy was challenged by Kenzadargent, winner of the Miss Liberty in late May. She charged up the inside under Abel Castellano Jr. to get on even terms inside the sixteenth pole, but I’m Already Sexy dug down and prevailed by a half-length. Kenzadargent finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Stellar Path. “I had a perfect trip,” Lopez said. “I was sitting perfectly with her and when we hit the top of the stretch she grabbed the lead. I knew I had the five [Kenzadargent] to my inside, but I thought I had her. Getting close to the wire I tapped my filly a couple times and that was it.” It was the ninth win in 23 starts and third Grade 3 victory for I’m Already Sexy, trained by Wayne Catalano for Hit the Board Stables. She won the Pucker Up in 2013 and the Modesty in 2014, both at Arlington Park.

BRAVO WINS US JOCKEY OF THE WEEK

Untitled-1 Jockey Joe Bravo shipped in for just two mounts on Saturday’s Thistledown card and made the most of that trip by winning them both. One of those wins included a victory in the track’s premiere race of the meet, The Ohio Derby. That winning ride helped compel panelists to vote Bravo the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for June 15th – June 21st. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America. Bravo took the call for the first time on the three-year-old Mr. Z for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and made the most of it going wire to wire to just hold off multiple challengers at the finish. Read original article “It wasn’t a wasted plane flight today, was it?” said jockey Joe Bravo. “Top of the lane, the horses come to each side of this horse… he could have got beat today, but he just put his ears back and said ‘Come on, jock, we’re going to win today.’ “Mr. Z’s a fighter and you couldn’t underestimate this race. There were some really nice, talented horses that have been chasing American Pharoah all year long.” The six wins from just 14 starters this week boosted the veteran rider’s all-time tally to 5,014 wins. That number puts him in 30th place on the lifetime win list for North American jockeys. Joe won his first race at Calder Racecourse in 1988 and has dominated the New Jersey racing circuit since the early 1990s. He has won nine riding titles at the Meadowlands Racetrack and 13 at Monmouth Park. For the week Bravo went 6-2-1 from 14 mounts and led all riders in earnings with a total of $416,820. JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, the Daily Racing Form, Equibase, the Jockeys’ Guild, the Paulick Report, the Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.

MR. JORDAN PREVAILS IN G3 PEGASUS

OCEANPORT, N.J. - At the top of the stretch, Mr. Jordan appeared poised to run by front-running Tekton and on to victory in the Grade 3, $157,500 Pegasus Stakes. But then things got interesting. Mr. Jordan took a narrow lead, drifted out a bit, lost the advantage, and then was fully extended late to win by a head under Paco Lopez. Still, the performance pleased trainer Eddie Plesa, who took an inch is as good as a mile view of the race. "He'd been off since April 25, and was he 100 percent ready? Probably not," Plesa said. "Was he 90 to 95 percent ready? Probably." Plesa described Mr. Jordan as a "peculiar horse." He had put blinkers on him for his prior start but took them off for the Pegasus. "If he's running good, you might not want to try too hard to fix him," Plesa said. "He's kind of a good-feeling horse and he likes to do things at his own pace. You gallop him and he almost two-minute licks. He doesn't want you to take too much of a hold." Early in the Pegasus, Mr. Jordan looked like he was out for a morning gallop, loping along behind Tekton through fractions of 24.06 and 47.95 seconds. He challenged for the lead nearing the stretch after six furlongs in 1:11.93 and completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.71 following a mile split of 1:36.21. “I didn’t want to go to the lead because I knew there was some other speed in the race," Lopez said. "He was able to relax nice for me and even though he drifted out a little, he was still running hard.” Untitled-1 Read original article Mr. Jordan paid $6 as a slight favorite in the eight-horse field. Tekton was second best, finishing 3 3/4 lengths in front of Good Pick Nick in third. Good Pick Nick was also sent off at 2-1. As the Pegasus winner, Mr. Jordan earned an automatic invitation to the Grade 1 Haskell on Aug. 2. Plesa said he would discuss options with the colt's owners. Mr. Jordan is owned by Leon Ellman, David Melin, and Plesa's wife, Laurie. "The owners are sportsmen," Plesa said. "The Haskell is a possibility." Dan Horn: Saucy Don holds off Chunnel Saucy Don won his second New Jersey-bred stakes of the meet by taking the $60,000 Dan Horn. Saucy Don, a 5-year-old trained by Terri Pompay, had won the six-furlong John J. Reilly Handicap by a head on May 30. He came back to win the Dan Horn, a one-mile turf race, by a neck. Jockey Abel Castellano Jr. was aboard for both races. In the Dan Horn, Saucy Don stalked early, took the lead three wide on the far turn, opened up a clear lead, and then held off late-running Chunnel. It was 3 1/4 lengths farther back to Amblin Easy in third. Saucy Don paid $6.80 as the favorite in the field of eight. Originally, there were 14 entrants but six scratched over the “good” course. Saucy Don completed a mile in 1:37.29.

BRAVO’S OHIO SUCCESS EARNS HIM JOCKEY OF THE WEEK

JoeBravo_Keeneland_4April2015-240x160 Jockey Joe Bravo shipped in for just two mounts on Saturday’s Thistledown card and made the most of that trip by winning them both. One of those wins included a victory in the track’s premiere race of the meet, The Ohio Derby. That winning ride helped compel panelists to vote Bravo the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for June 15th – June 21st. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America. Read original article from Paulick Report Bravo took the call for the first time on the three-year-old Mr. Z for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and made the most of it going wire to wire to just hold off multiple challengers at the finish. “It wasn’t a wasted plane flight today, was it?” said jockey Joe Bravo. “Top of the lane, the horses come to each side of this horse… he could have got beat today, but he just put his ears back and said ‘Come on, jock, we’re going to win today.’ “Mr. Z’s a fighter and you couldn’t underestimate this race. There were some really nice, talented horses that have been chasing American Pharoah all year long.” The six wins from just 14 starters this week boosted the veteran rider’s all-time tally to 5,014 wins. That number puts him in 30th place on the lifetime win list for North American jockeys. Joe won his first race at Calder Racecourse in 1988 and has dominated the New Jersey racing circuit since the early 1990s. He has won nine riding titles at the Meadowlands Racetrack and 13 at Monmouth Park. For the week Bravo won on 6 of his 14 mounts and led all riders in earnings with a total of $416,820. JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, the Daily Racing Form, Equibase, the Jockeys’ Guild, the Paulick Report, the Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.

Mr.Jordan wins the G3 Pegasus

MrJordan2PegasusS2015EPBD298 Mr. Jordan claimed his first graded score with a head victory over Tekton in the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) June 21 at Monmouth Park. The 3-year-old Kantharos colt trained by Eddie Plesa stalked the pace, gained a short lead in the stretch, and then held off Tekton, who tried to rally again on the rail, to win by a head. Mr. Jordan, the 2-1 favorite, hit the wire in the 1 1/16-mile dirt test in 1:42.71, after Tekton set fractions of :24.05, :47.95, and 1:11.93 through six furlongs while leading by a half length. Good Pick Nick finished third, 3 3/4 lengths behind the leading pair. Read original article from Bloodhorse "I didn't want to go to the lead, because I knew there was some other speed in the race," winning jockey Paco Lopez said. "He was able to relax nice for me, and even though he drifted out a little, he was still running hard." The gray or roan winner paid $6, $3.60, and $2.60. Tekton brought $5.60 and $3.40. Good Pick Nick returned $2.80 to show. Plesa said after the race that he'll consider the $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Aug. 2 for the colt's next race. Dontbetwithbruno, Instant Replay, Chipit, Bodhisattva, and Ambidextrous Alex completed the order of finish. Mr. Jordan was bred in Florida by Philip and Karen Matthews, out of the Cloud Hopping mare Miss Skeetd, and has winnings of $253,095 for owners David Melin, Leon Ellman, and Laurie Plesa. His record sits at 4-2-0 from six starts.

MR. Z WINS THE $500,000 OHIO DERBY

MrZOhioDerby2015JJZ298 Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, bound and determined to see Calumet Farm's Mr. Z earn his sought-after stakes victory—or a victory at all, for that matter —had no problem vanning just over five hours from Louisville to Cleveland to target what seemed like a salty bunch of 3-year-olds in the $500,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown. Watch Video Mr. Z, fifth in the May 16 Xpressbet.com Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in his first start for Calumet, after finishing 13th in the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) for previous owner Zayat Stables, was 6-1 in the eight-horse Ohio Derby field and wasn't expected to take them wire-to-wire. Read originale article from Bloodhorse But the Malibu Moon colt had just enough to give in the 1 1/16-mile test, despite having not won a race since 14 starts back, when he took his debut outing in June of 2014. After hitting the board in multiple high-level races, he took home the money and the blacktype over his higher-regarded rivals with a determined run. "It wasn't a wasted plane flight today, was it?" said jockey Joe Bravo, who rode Mr. Z for the first time. "Top of the lane, the horses come to each side of this horse... he could have got beat today, but he just put his ears back and said 'Come on, jock, we're going to win today.' "Mr. Z's a fighter and you couldn't underestimate this race. There were some really nice, talented horses that have been chasing American Pharoah all year long." Showing the way through a quarter in :23.86 and a half in :48.08, Mr. Z was tracked by Tencendur Tencendur, who would attempt to run past him down the lane. First 2-1 favorite Divining Rod took a try from the inside after threequarters in 1:11.66, but the Coolmore Lexington (gr. III) winner—third in the Preakness last time out—could not get past Mr. Z on the rail. Drifting out slightly through a 1:37.02 mile, Mr. Z held off the charge of his inside rival and limited the closing ability of Tencendur, who he edged by a nose inside the final sixteenth. The time on a fast track was 1:43.60. Mr. Z returned $15.60, $8, and $4.2,0 while Tencendur paid $5.40 and $3.60, with Divining Rod bringing $2.60 a head back in third. "He was great today," Gretchen Jackson of Lael Stables said of Divining Rod. "He did some of those baby things he does, but we're delighted with the way he raced. And it was a great race. I loved it; of course, I would have loved it more (had he won the three-horse photo)." War Story was fourth, followed by Thirtysilverpieces, Far Right Far Right, Dekabrist Dekabrist, and Whiskey Ticket Whiskey Ticket. Perhaps one of the most fascinating runners currently in the Lukas stable, Mr. Z has raced exclusively in stakes company since that first-out win last season. He was runner-up in the Sanford Stakes (gr. II) and Toyota Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II), fifth in the Iroqouis Stakes (gr. III), second in the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (gr. I), and fifth in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) before coming back to a second in the Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. III) and a third in the Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I) to close out 2014. This year Mr. Z had thirds in the Smarty Jones Stakes, Southwest Stakes (gr. III), and Arkansas Derby (gr. I) along with a failed sans-blinkers experiment in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), where he ran ninth. All of those in-the-money efforts, coupled with a $300,000 winner's share of the Ohio Derby purse, boosted his earnings to $997,226. The Ohio Derby score improved his record to 2-4-4 from 15 starts. "He was dead fit, and that really helped," Lukas said. "I followed the horse the whole Derby trail, and he looked like a man with a boy's mind," Bravo said. "I got a call from Wayne about riding the horse, so I did. I wanted to see if he could relax (on the lead), and when he went :24 and :48 for the first part of the race, that helped. When I asked him in the stretch, he responded." Bred in Kentucky by Richard D. Maynard out of the Storm Cat mare Stormy Bear, Mr. Z was a $60,000 RNA at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale when consigned by Maynard Farm. He sold from that consignment for $135,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky 2013 fall yearling sale when selected for Zayat Stables by Patrice Miller/EQB. Mr. Z made headlines on the Triple Crown scene when he was sold by Zayat Stables, also the owners of eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, to Calumet Farm in an 11th-hour deal so Lukas could run him in the Preakness. NOVAK: Preakness: Lights, Camera... Lukas? According to Lukas, Mr. Z could next start in the July 18 Indiana Derby (gr. II) at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.

More Than A Party wins the Open Mind

Uasntitled-1 More Than a Party was bet down to 1-5 in the $57,600 Open Mind Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sunday so it was a shock when Paco Lopez had to snatch her up along the inside nearing the far turn of the six-furlong race for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares. Her momentary traffic troubles meant little, however, as she was so much the best in the field of six that once she recovered, she took the lead along the rail nearing the stretch and Lopez kept her in hand, sitting still as a statue the length of the stretch. The winning margin was two lengths, but it could have been much, much more if Lopez would have twitched. More Than a Party is a 4-year-old daughter of More Than Ready. She was bred and is owned by trainer Eddie Broome and Richard Malouf. She covered six furlongs in the Open Mind in 1:10.16 and paid $2.60. Read the original article at www.drf.com “It always makes you nervous when you see your horse check like that, but she seemed to overcome it no problem,” Broome said. “I know Paco didn’t have to ask her to do much. She was just cruising through the stretch.” The win was the third of the day for Lopez, the leading rider at Monmouth. Pinkout, a 3-year-old, ran well to be second making a sweeping outside move into the stretch, but at this point in her career More Than a Party is more than she can handle. She’s Hot Wired finished third, 3 3/4 lengths behind Pinkout. World Gone Wrong went to the early lead, and More Than a Party took up behind her nearing the far turn. World Gone Wrong set fractions of 21.63 and 44.46 seconds before tiring to finish fifth. More Than a Party is now 6 for 13 in her career with earnings of $224,660. Broome said he might try her at longer distances at some point. “We may try to stretch her out down the road, but likely on turf,” he said. “She seems to relax much better on the grass. But for now I don’t want to fix what’s not broken, so we’ll just stick with sprinting.

Paco Lopez a young rider only getting better

NEWS-MonmouthPark-PacoLopez3 Not yet 30 – but riding since age 12 – with a face that could pass as a teenager and a 9 to 5 smile, five foot, 113 pound Paco Lopez is becoming an elite jockey on the racing circuit and hard to beat at Monmouth Park. In his eight years riding thoroughbreds, Lopez has had nearly 9000 starts winning 1600 races with his horses earning $51 million. A multiple graded stakes race winning rider, Lopez was the 2008 Eclipse winner as the top apprentice jockey. The numbers really tell the story. In 2014 Lopez was the 5th leading US jockey in wins and 14th in earnings. Five months into the 2015 racing season, Lopez career numbers show that he has finished in the money in about half his races and he wins about once every six attempts. Even if you’re not a bettor, if you are at the track and see Paco Lopez riding, bet him! Racing primarily at Gulfstream in Florida during the winter and Monmouth Park during the summer, Lopez won Monmouth’s riding title in 2013 with 99 wins and in 2014 with a record 120 wins. He rode more than double the winners of his closest competitor last season. And on two days during he meet, he rode seven winners. “It’s amazing for such a young rider,” Cory Moran says, “and I am not sure anything like that has ever been done before.” Lopez started 2015 at Monmouth the way he ended 2014. During the first two weekends of racing he has won and finished in the money in multiple races. During his relatively short career, Lopez has been the leading rider at Calder and twice at Gulfstream in Florida as well as Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands. Last August he won for four stakes races at Saratoga including the Grade One Woodward aboard Itsmyluckyday. With only two or three days of racing each week at Monmouth during the 2015 season, Lopez also will ride at New York, Pennsylvania or Delaware tracks. Moran keeps the “books” listing the races at all the area tracks plus the listing of all major stakes races. His cell phone never seems to stop ringing as he talks to trainers about possible rides (calls) for his jockeys. Read the original article NEWS-MonmouthPark-PacoLopez1 “What makes Paco different.” Moran says. “is he has a natural ‘feel’ for the horse immediately when he gets aboard and can get a horse comfortable when the gate opens. He doesn’t go against the horses running style and horses run so well for him. Each horse’s style is different and Lopez seems to find it.” Moran and many others knowledgeable in the thoroughbred world feel Lopez is riding toward the classics such as the Triple Crown races. He has ridden in the Breeders Cup Classic and was third in its Dirt Mile with Pants on Fire in 2014.To move to the next level, Lopez may have to move to New York to be closer to the action but, for now, he seems very happy at the Jersey Shore and in Florida. Lopez recently purchased a home close to Monmouth Park and as soon as the school year ends in Florida, he will have his wife and five year old son in residence. “I’m looking forward to that,” he smiles. Moran represents two jockeys this season with one of Monmouth’s all time favorite riders Joe Bravo also under his care. Usually a jockey’s rep will manage an experienced and an apprentice rider but this season, Moran has two of the most experienced riders and keeps busy finding quality rides for both. Moran has served as Lopez’s agent since day one. “I have to give a special thanks to trainer Bill White who was training horses at Calder at the time, ” Moran says. “Paco was riding quarter horses and galloping thoroughbreds in Florida in 2007 when Bill called me to meet Paco at his barn. He had me watch a race replay of Lopez outwitting his journeyman jockey. White told me that Lopez really was not an apprentice rider at all but had the skills of any journeyman rider. I totally agreed and partnered with Paco immediately” Moran says. “And the rest is history.” Read the original article NEWS-MonmouthPark-PacoLopez2 Jockeys are paid a percentage of the purses they earn and share a percentage with their rep. It makes a rider’s total earnings key to their income. For Lopez, however, it’s all about winning. “Yes, he says, I want to win every time I get on a horse. I’m not happy when I finish second.” Many jockeys will ride two or three races in a day and are done. For Lopez, if Moran had a mount for him in every Monmouth race, it would be fine. “It’d keep my valet in the jockey’s quarters busy,” he smiles, “getting my silks ready but I’d love it. Moran is no stranger to the world of thoroughbreds. His father was a successful Ohio trainer and his brother Mike Moran was a top jockey in the mid-West. Moran has assisted his dad, broke and galloped horses for many top trainers and now, besides being a rep, he is a successful bloodstock agent selling thoroughbred horses to a diverse clientele of trainers. Moran works closely with trainers at multiple tracks to secure rides for Lopez and Bravo. He does business with the leaders in the industry including trainers Todd Pletcher, Chad Brown and Christopher Clement. Moran has a special rapport with a few local Monmouth Park trainers including Kelly Breen and Ed Plesa and is grateful for their support. “It’s all about giving the rider an opportunity’ to win,” Moran says. “He’s not exercising a horse, he’s on it to win for the owner, trainer and himself.” And for the last few years, one the best in that category has been Paco Lopez, a gentleman with a fierce competitive drive to be the best. – Story and Photos by Art Petrosemolo

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