Archive for September 2016


pacolopezThe curtain came down on the 2016 Monmouth Park season on Sunday as Paco Lopez captured his fifth riding title, Jorge Navarro his fourth trainer’s award and Quiet Winter Farm their first owner’s trophy.

Click here to read article from Paulick Report.

Monmouth Park saw a decrease in number of races run in 2016 with an average of 9.87 per day over the 57-day stand. Last year saw an average of 11.19 for the 58-day racing season. In total there were 86 fewer races this year.

Additionally, field size saw a dramatic drop off as well with an average of 7.28 horses per race in 2016, compared to 8.11 the year before, an 11.4% decrease.

“Despite the lack of horses we still recorded numerous accomplishments this year,” said Dennis Drazin, advisor to Darby Development LLC, operators of the racetrack. “The entire Monmouth Park team continues to work hard to put on outstanding racing in a fan-friendly environment that is second to none.”

Among those accomplishments this year was the advent of exchange wagering as Monmouth Park was at the forefront to make New Jersey the first in the nation to see this new betting platform that allows fans to select and set their own odds.

Also new this season is Blu Grotto, Monmouth Park’s recent restaurant addition that has enjoyed rave reviews for outstanding dining and ambience. Located near the top of the stretch, Blu Grotto will be open year-round.

“Horses follow purse money and our neighbors are working with a distinct advantage,” Drazin said. “Every state surrounding us, and most of those surrounding them, have alternative gaming revenues fueling purses. These casino-fueled purses has led to a decrease in field size and carded races. Obviously this has had a direct impact on our handle both on-track and in the simulcast network.”

On-track handle at the 57-day meet was $22,431,306, a 26.59% decline over last year when the track hosted 58 live cards. Total handle also saw a 26.38% decline as $196,272,397 was wagered this year on Monmouth’s races. Attendance was off 9.2%, mostly dampened by a wet Haskell Day, which drew 35,983, compared with 60,983 the year prior when Triple Crown winner American Pharoah took New Jersey’s most prestigious event. The 2016 average daily attendance was 8,833.

In the race for leading trainer, Jorge Navarro did it again, winning his fourth consecutive title. The 41-year-old conditioner from Panama won a record 59 races this year, besting the mark of 55 established by John Tammaro III in 1974 and equaled the following year by J. Willard Thompson.

Thompson’s Quiet Winter Farm took home the trophy for top 2016 owner at Monmouth, having visited the winner’s circle 17 times this season. A long-time staple on the Jersey Shore racing scene, this was Quiet Winter Farm’s first owner’s championship.

Over in the jockey race, Paco Lopez was yet again a runaway victor, booting home 105 winners in 2016. It was the fifth overall title for the 30-year-old native of Mexico, who took his first championship during the 2010 Elite Meet. He has been top jockey at Monmouth since 2013.

Live Thoroughbred racing shifts north to the Meadowlands for 14 all-turf programs beginning Wednesday, Sept. 28. The Meadowlands will offer a 15% takeout rate on all wagers, the lowest in the nation. That meet runs through Oct. 19.


allied-air-raidBOSSIER CITY, La.- Allied Air Raid capped a memorable afternoon of racing at Louisiana Downs for trainer Brad Cox on Saturday, when he stormed to a four-length win in the $75,000 Unbridled. It was Cox’s second stakes victory on the card following Royal By Nature’s win in the $75,000 Sunday Silence.

Click here to read article from DRF.

The races were among four stakes supporting the featured Grade 3, $400,000 Super Derby won by Texas Chrome.

Cox had a total of seven horses running around the country Saturday, and overall won three races and had two seconds. His biggest victories came at Louisiana Downs.

“It was a good day,” he said.

Allied Air Raid ($6.80) was making his turf debut in the Unbridled, and he settled off the pace as Berniestrike was pressed through fractions of 23.75 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 46.90 for the half-mile, and 1:10.87. Allied Air Raid forged to the lead into the stretch and powered home to cover 1 1/16 miles on firm ground in a swift 1:40.54.

Allied Air Raid ($6.80) was making his turf debut in the Unbridled, and he settled off the pace as Berniestrike was pressed through fractions of 23.75 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 46.90 for the half-mile, and 1:10.87. Allied Air Raid forged to the lead into the stretch and powered home to cover 1 1/16 miles on firm ground in a swift 1:40.54.

“It was very impressive,” said Cox.

Joe Bravo was aboard for Ten Strike Racing. Bravo also captured the $75,000 Happy Ticket with the Joe Sharp-trained Majestic Gale.

Cox long had expressed an interest in running Allied Air Raid on turf, and even entered him in a grass race last fall, but the horse was excluded. He has since placed in a handful of main-track stakes races, between tracks such as Monmouth and Mountaineer.

“We wanted to try him on the turf last fall,” Cox said. “He came back doing well on the dirt so we just stuck with the dirt. But we kind of felt something was missing with him. He worked so well, and while he was running well, we felt there was a little more there. The grass unveiled it.”

Cox said he will not rule out running Allied Air Raid back on dirt, but his next start will likely be on turf. He said no decisions have been made on the next start with Allied Air Raid.

Allied Air Raid earned $45,000 for owners Ten Strike Racing. He is a son of Midshipman and was bred in Kentucky.

Royal By Nature ($6.80) is now undefeated in two starts after he darted to a 1 1/4-length win over favorite Hembree in the Sunday Silence for 2-year-olds. Jose Valdivia Jr. was aboard.

Royal By Nature stalked the pace and went on to cover the mile on turf in 1:37.39.

“I was very pleased with his effort,” said Cox. “He did it impressively. We were wanting to kind of see him take that next step and he did with the win today.”

Cox said Royal By Nature will now come under consideration for the Grade 3, $250,000 Bourbon on Oct. 9 at Keeneland. The trainer won the Sunday Silence for the second year in a row, taking last year’s running with Uncle Brennie.

Royal by Nature races for his breeder, Sheik Abdullah Saeed Almaddah. He is a son of Myboyhcharlie and was bred in Ireland.

A rain storm hit just after the Sunday Silence, but cleared in time for the running of the next race on the card, the $75,000 River Cities. Artistic License ($8.20) won her sixth straight race in the filly and mare stakes, when she stalked and rolled to 1 1/2-length win over Kinky Vow.

Artistic License was ridden by C.J. McMahon, who also won the Super Derby with Texas Chrome. Artistic License covered 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.33. Bret Calhoun trains Artistic License for Carl Moore. She is a 5-year-old by Heart of the Storm.

In the Happy Ticket for 2-year-old fillies, Majestic Gale ($6.20) overtook pacesetter Senora Acero in the stretch and went on to a 4 1/2-length win. Majestic Gale covered the mile on turf in 1:36.58. Sharp trains the winner for Allan Peterson. Majestic Gale is a daughter of Majestic Warrior.

A 50-cent pick four linking the Sunday Silence, River Cities, Unbridled, and Super Derby returned $170.50. The pool that was guaranteed at $100,000 reached $120,503.


Trainer Tom Albertrani’s first starter at Indiana Grand was a winner as Joe Bravo headily piloted Giant Run to victory in the $206,800 Centaur Stakes on Wednesday afternoon.

Click here to read article from DRF.

Giant Run had been first or second early in the 10 starts since his six-furlong dirt-sprint debut more than one year ago, but Bravo eased Giant Run back to fifth behind a fast pace, asked his mount for run at the five-sixteenths pole, got it, and went on to a solid three-quarter length score in the Centaur.

“He relaxed very well for me today,” Bravo said. “It helps when you’re on the best horse.”

Pilot House, tracked by Back Togetheragain, Holding Gold, and Uncle Brenniee, set out for the early lead and went into the turn at a good clip, and Bravo was ready to adjust tactics on his habitual front-runner.

“You’ve got to keep your eyes open when the gates open,” he said. And so as the leaders snapped off a quarter-mile in 23.51 seconds and a half in a demanding 46.91, Bravo scraped paint in fifth, biding his time.

Giant Run has talent, and there was a good turn of foot waiting inside a horse that generally had used his speed early: When Bravo let him go, Giant Run descended quickly on the leaders, basically winning the race while cornering into the homestretch. He was in command at the furlong grounds and finished with plenty of energy to hold off Surgical Strike, who nosed out Zapperini for second.

Surgical Strike, breaking from post 10, was caught three wide around the first turn and ran decently in defeat, as did Zapperini, who rallied from mid-pack in his career debut. Giant Run, the narrow 2-1 favorite, paid $6.80 to win and was timed in 1:35.68 for one mile on firm turf.

Albertrani trains Giant Run, a $200,000 yearling buy, for owners Robert Baker and William Mack. Giant Run, by Giant’s Causeway and out off the Polish Numbers mare Who Did It and Run, was bred in Maryland by Sycamore Hall Thoroughbreds. From 12 starts he has compiled a 4-3-1 record after scoring his biggest payday in the Centaur.

Victory Jara upsets A.J. Foyt Stakes

Victor Jara edged past pacesetting favorite Derby Express to win the $100,000 A.J. Foyt for Indiana-bred grass-route horses and cap the stakes action Wednesday at Indiana Grand. A 5-year-old Kingswood Farm homebred, by Notional and out of Double Faced, by More than Ready, Victor Jara was ridden by Fernando de la Cruz and is trained by Joseph D. Davis. He ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.07 and paid $18.40 to win.


awesome-slewBENSALEM, Pa. – The gate was full for the Grade 3, $300,000 Smarty Jones at Parx Racing on Monday as 14 3-year-olds went to the post in the 1 1/16-mile stakes. But when the gates opened, Paco Lopez quickly turned the race into a one-horse affair as he smoothly put Awesome Slew on the lead from post 14.

Click here to read article from DRF.

“I used to ride Quarter Horses, you know,” Lopez joked after the race.

Once Awesome Slew made the front, the race was basically over. He ran his rivals off their feet, held an eight-length lead at the furlong pole, and coasted home under mild urging to win by seven lengths. He paid $23.80 and was timed in 1:42.92.

Wild About Deb finished second, four lengths ahead of Seeking the Soul.

Awesome Slew’s performance has been a long time in the making. A son of Awesome Again owned by the Live Oak Plantation of Charlotte Weber, he has had to overcome a lot of adversity for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., who has made quite clear this summer how highly he thinks of the colt.

Awesome Slew came out of a fourth-place finish last year in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga with an ankle chip, then got very sick over the winter in Florida with colitis. Since recovering, he has had to play catch-up all season.

Plesa finally thought he had Awesome Slew at his best for the Haskell Invitational, but the track came up sloppy, and the horse didn’t handle it, losing by 32 lengths.

“It’s like you can’t keep coming up with excuses,” Plesa said. “This win is very gratifying. Paco deserves a ton of credit, and so does the horse and my entire crew, especially the head of the team, Charlotte Weber.”

The Smarty Jones win was especially meaningful, Plesa said, because the race is named after Smarty Jones, whom his brother-in-law John Servis, sent out to win the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

Awesome Slew’s win didn’t appear to take much out of him, but Plesa said he most likely wouldn’t wheel him back in 19 days in the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.

“My gut feeling is probably not,” Plesa said, “but I will listen to him extra hard and see what he tells me. It’s a little quick to come back against that caliber of horses.”

The win capped a big weekend at Parx for Lopez, who on Saturday guided Cathryn Sophia to an easy victory in the $150,000 Princess of Sylmar Stakes for Servis. The race was a prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion, where Cathryn Sophia is expected to meet the still-undefeated 2-year-old filly champion of 2015, Songbird.


tip-tap-tapizarFor the second consecutive race, Tip Tap Tapizar didn’t have the easiest of trips. But Sunday in the one-mile Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park, he waited patiently for jockey Paco Lopez to give him his cue, and then rallied with purpose to outfinish Holiday Bonus for a neck victory.

Click here to read article from DRF.

In his prior effort, Tip Tap Tapizar was bumped hard by Recruiting Ready entering the far turn of the Saratoga Special. Tip Tap Tapizar in turn bumped with Sonic Mule – also in the Sapling – and was steadied and dropped back. Tip Tap Tapizar gathered himself after the bumping incident and then lodged a bid into the stretch before tiring to finish third, beaten 15 lengths. He was placed second after Recruiting Ready was disqualified.

In the $103,000 Sapling, 43-1 Gold Braid went to the lead. Sonic Mule moved up to press the pace from the outside nearing the backstretch, with Tip Tap Tapizar tucked in behind them in close quarters as Lopez took a rating hold. On the far turn, Holiday Bonus moved up to challenge three wide and Tip Tap Tapizar had to await room the from the quarter pole to the top of the stretch.

Sonic Mule came away with the lead entering the stretch but Holiday Bonus soon went by. Lopez took Tip Tap Tapizar outside horses at the top of the stretch and he battled with Holiday Bonus before proving best late.

“I took a hold of him early and let others go out to the front,” Lopez said. “I ran into some traffic trouble down the backside, but nothing serious. When we turned for home I angled him out and he just took off.”

Tip Tap Tapizar paid $5.40 as the favorite in the six-horse field. The early fractions were 24.04 seconds, 48.95, and 1:14.34. Tip Tap Tapizar completed the mile in 1:39.00.

It was 3 1/4 lengths back from Holiday Bonus to Sonic Mule in third. Sonic Mule had previously finished fourth but was elevated to third in the Saratoga Special.

Steve Asmussen conditions Tip Tap Tapizar, and also trained his sire, Tapizar. Asmussen won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile with Tapizar in 2012. Asmussen also won the Grade 2 San Fernando and Grade 3 Sham Stakes with the son of Tapit.

Tip Tap Tapizar, a Louisiana -bred, is now 2 for 4 for the Whispering Oaks Farm of Carol Castille, who bought him for $175,000 as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale. Whispering Oaks Farm is located in Carencro, La.


cathrynKentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia tuned up for her meeting with Songbird in the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing on Sept. 24 with an effortless 6 1/2-length victory in the $150,000 Princess of Sylmar on Saturday.

Click here to read article from DRF.

With Paco Lopez subbing for her regular rider, Javier Castellano – who will have the mount back in the Cotillion – Cathryn Sophia settled nicely during the early going of the one-mile race. She edged closer on the far turn, took the lead outside Disco Rose entering the stretch, with Lopez sitting still as a statue with a loose rein, and then pulled away smoothly while never being asked to extend herself.

The Princess of Sylmar was Cathryn Sophia’s first start since June 11, when she finished third to Carina Mia and Off the Tracks in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park. Trainer John Servis took Cathryn Sophia to Saratoga at the beginning of the meet and worked her four times there. He recently returned her to his home base at Parx, where she blew out five furlongs for the Princess of Sylmar in 58.80 seconds.

Servis said this week that he was using the Princess of Sylmar – a newly created stakes designed to give the local fans a chance to watch Cathryn Sophia race – as a tune-up for the Cotillion. He estimated that he had her “about 80 percent cranked up” for the race.

Eighth Wonder set the early pace in the Princess of Sylmar but was overtaken on the far turn by Disco Rose following fractions of 24.38 and 48.05 seconds. Disco Rose led through six furlongs in 1:12.56 before Cathryn Sophia took charge. She covered seven furlongs in 1:24.98 and completed the course in 1:37.69 but obviously could have gone faster if asked.

Cathryn Sophia paid $2.20 to win in the six-horse field. She caused a large minus show pool as $528,162 of the total pool of $553,609 was wagered on her.

Servis said he was apprehensive before the race.

“It’s not easy to be that big of a favorite with a horse like her, especially at your home track,” Servis said. “But I’m tickled with the win. She won easy, and it looked like it didn’t take anything out of her. It should set her up nice for the Cotillion.”

A $30,000 yearling purchase by the Cash Is King Stable of Chuck Zacney, Cathryn Sophia began her career at Parx with a 12 3/4-length maiden win last October. Servis then sent her to Laurel Park, where she won the Gin Talking Stakes by 16 lengths.

Servis targeted the Grade 2 Forward Gal at Gulfstream Park after that race, and she won it by 5 1/2. She also took the Grade 2 Davona Dale going a one-turn mile at Gulfstream by seven lengths.

Sent to Kentucky in the spring, Cathryn Sophia came up a little short in the Grade 1 Ashland going 1 1/16 miles and suffered her first defeat, finishing third, beaten a half-length. She rebounded in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks in her next start, drawing away from 13 rivals to win by 2 3/4 lengths.

Servis didn’t commit Cathryn Sophia to the Kentucky Oaks until Songbird was declared from the race after becoming ill. The 1 1/16-mile Cotillion will be the first meeting between Songbird, the still-undefeated 2-year-old champion filly of last year, and Cathryn Sophia, who is now 6 for 8.

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