Archive for April 2017


LopezIt has been a very good five days for jockey Paco Lopez.

The 31-year-old native of Mexico, who earned the Eclipse Award as North America’s top apprentice in 2008, made his way into the Keeneland records on Saturday by winning his first two stakes here. Following a three-day break with his family in South Florida, Lopez again found the winner’s circle on his first mount Wednesday, Amberspatriot for John Hancock.

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Lopez, who first rode at Keeneland during the 2012 Fall Meet, on April 15 won the Ben Ali (G3) on Watershed and topped off the day with the head victory by Dickinson over Lady Eli in the Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1).

“I could have gone inside or outside,” Lopez said of the stretch run. “Lady Eli got the jump on me, but I was confident Dickinson could run her down.”

Lopez has won all three times he has ridden the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee.

“The first time I saw her run was at Parx and she won really easily,” Lopez said of the Sept. 6 allowance race that Dickinson won by 4½ lengths in her grass debut. In that race, Lopez finished third, nearly 10 lengths back on another entrant.

Lopez picked up the mount on Dickinson for the Feb. 11 Suwannee River (G3) when previous rider John Velazquez was out of town for the day.

“She pulled away real easy that day at Gulfstream,” said Lopez, who followed that victory with a score in the Hillsborough (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs on March 11.

Dickinson is pointing to the $700,000 Just A Game (G1) at a mile at Belmont Park on June 10 and a possible rematch with Lady Eli, who is undefeated in four starts over the Belmont turf.

“A lot can happen with these fillies,” Lopez said about the possibility of meeting Lady Eli again. “But my filly, she is a very nice filly.”


Dickinson'sLEXINGTON, Ky. – Overcoming a spot of trouble in midstretch, Dickinson was up in the final strides to defeat the mighty Lady Eli in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland, capping a surreal day for her connections.

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The victory ended a 4-for-4 afternoon for Godolphin Racing and its primary trainer in the United States, Kiaran McLaughlin.

“We’re going to enjoy this, for sure,” said Jimmy Bell, president of the American division of Godolphin, the worldly powerhouse stable owned by Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum. “These days don’t come along very often.”

Nor does Lady Eli go down to defeat very often. Sent away the 1-2 favorite in a field of eight fillies and mares in the Grade 1, $350,000 Jenny Wiley, Lady Eli and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. appeared to have the 1 1/16-mile turf race won with about 100 yards to go, having surged to the lead in midpack. But then Dickinson, always just a few lengths off the pace, launched a final rally after angling off the rail and away from traffic to prevail by a head.

Dickinson, a 5-year-old homebred mare by Medaglia d’Oro, returned $14.20 as second choice after finishing in 1:41.98 over a firm turf. Quidura was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third, followed in order by Kitten’s Roar, Goodyearforroses, Time and Motion, Illuminant, and Catch a Glimpse.]

Amid warm and breezy weather, and before an ontrack throng of 30,782, Catch a Glimpse set the pace in the 29th Jenny Wiley, going in 23.74, 48.05, and 1:12.63 before the pack began to engulf her. Lady Eli swept to the lead inside the furlong pole, only to yield late to Dickinson.

Dickinson is “just a nice filly,” said McLaughlin, whose four-win day equals the Keeneland record for most wins on a single card, also held by Todd Pletcher (2008) and Bill Mott (1995). “We had trouble and it still worked out. Just unbelievable to win four at Keeneland, especially ending on a Grade 1.”

Dickinson began her career with eight starts on dirt, winning twice, before a move to the turf sparked dramatic improvement. She now has won 5 of 6 on grass, with victories in the Grade 3 Suwanee River at Gulfstream and the Grade 2 Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs directly preceding the Jenny Wiley. The $210,000 winner’s share lifts her bankroll to $604,316 from 14 starts.

Dickinson could run next in the Grade 1 Just a Game on the June 10 Belmont Stakes undercard, said McLaughlin, whose earlier winners Saturday included Watershed in the Grade 3 Ben Ali.

For Lady Eli, it was just her third defeat in 10 career starts, all by narrow margins. The 5-year-old mare was making her first start since finishing second by a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in November.

“It was a perfect trip,” Ortiz said. “I just got beat.”

“Hats off to the winner,” said her trainer, Chad Brown. “Both ran well, but we just got beat right on the wire just like we did in the Breeders’ Cup. It’s tough, but it was her first start of the year, so hopefully she will move forward off of it. We’ll get her back to Belmont Park and then pick out a race up there. She is a neck and two noses from being undefeated. She is a great horse and I am really proud of her effort today.”

The $2 exacta (4-1) paid $31.20, the $1 trifecta (4-1-8) returned $95.60, and the 10-cent superfecta (4-1-8-5) was worth $73.28. The Jenny Wiley ended an all-stakes pick four that returned $847.10 for a 50-cent ticket on handle of $498,293.

The Jenny Wiley was the last of four Grade 1 races at a 15-day spring meet that runs through April 28. Keeneland goes dark for three days before racing resumes Wednesday.


WatershedLEXINGTON , Ky. – Regardless of how Dickinson ran later on the card, Saturday was a big day at Keeneland for the Godolphin Racing powerhouse and Kiaran McLaughlin.

Click here to read article from DRF.

The owner-trainer team won with each of their first three starters on the card, including a 2 3/4-length triumph by Watershed in the 87th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Ben Ali, the first of four straight stakes on an 11-race program.

Watershed rallied from mid-pack to win the 1 1/8-mile Ben Ali under Paco Lopez, giving Godolphin and McLaughlin yet another winner with a homebred. The earlier winners were Tasteful ($5) in a maiden race and Zennor ($13.40) in a turf allowance.

Watershed paid $12.20 after finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.92 over a fast track.

“It’s always wonderful to win here in my hometown,” said McLaughlin, a Lexington native who now makes New York his primary base.

Watershed, a 5-year-old horse by Bernardini, maneuvered his way through rivals to be second at the top of the stretch, with only Bird Song to catch. He did so in quick order, surging away for his first stakes victory. In all, Watershed is 5 for 14, with the $120,000 winner’s share lifting his bankroll to $402,550.

“Paco rode a great race,” McLaughlin said.

Eagle was up in the final jump to nail Bird Song by a nose for second, with Blofeld another neck back in fourth. Rounding out the lineup of eight older horses, in order, were Conquest Enforcer, Scuba, Taketothestreets, and Frammento.

Dickinson, another Godolphin homebred, defeated Lady Eli and six other fillies and mares later Saturday in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley, capping a perfect 4-for-4 day for Godolphin and McLaughlin.

The $2 exacta (3-2) paid $53.40, the $1 trifecta (3-2-6) returned $93.30, and the 10-cent superfecta (3-2-6-1) was worth $49.89.


Miss Sky Warrior delivers as favorite in GazelleOZONE PARK, N.Y. – In a day of mostly illogical results in major preps for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks on Saturday, Miss Sky Warrior was the only winning favorite. And boy did she win, pouring it on in the stretch to pull away from her rivals in the Grade 2 Gazelle at Aqueduct by 13 lengths.

Click here to read article from DRF.

The victory was the fifth in a row for Miss Sky Warrior, who races for Arlene London and is trained by Kelly Breen. She will head to Louisville as one of the top choices for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.

Miss Sky Warrior earned 100 qualifying points to the Kentucky Oaks in the Gazelle, bringing her total to 160. She is second on the points list only to Farrell, who swept the series for 3-year-old fillies at Fair Grounds and has 170 points.

Since losing her career debut last September, Miss Sky Warrior has won a Parx maiden race, the Grade 3 Tempted, the Grade 2 Demoiselle, the Grade 2 Davona Dale, and the $300,000 Gazelle.

Miss Sky Warrior broke running in the 1 1/8-mile Gazelle and jockey Paco Lopez let her go. She was in front before hitting the clubhouse turn while being tracked by Full House along the inner rail and Lockdown to her outside.

Full House was steadied on the turn and her rider, Rajiv Maragh, lodged an objection against Miss Sky Warrior after the race, which was dismissed by the stewards.

“I had my filly in the right position,” Lopez said.

Full House dropped back a bit after five furlongs, and Lockdown could not stay with Miss Sky Warrior in the final quarter-mile. Lopez coasted home on Mss Sky Warrior without asking her to extend herself.

“That was a powerful performance,” Breen said after the race. “Paco never asked her in the stretch.”

Miss Sky Warrior paid $5.30 in the Gazelle and was timed in 1:51.71, only .80 of a second slower than Irish War Cry, who won the Wood Memorial. Lockdown held second by a length over Full House.

London, who races as Arlene’s Sun Star Stable, and her husband,, Al, were ecstatic after the race.

“I feel like I’m on a magic carpet ride,” Arlene London said. “I can’t do anything in my life. All I do is think about this filly. I’ve always strived for this. After breeding horses for 35 years, I’m an overnight success.”

London said Sky Minister, the dam of Miss Sky Warrior, had recently given birth to a Pinter filly, who will be named Sky Queen.

Al London said he had an interesting dream Friday night.

“I dreamed she won the race by 10 lengths,” he said.


SummersaultHALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Firm ground and a fast pace enabled Summersault to complete a perfect Gulfstream Park winter meet as she outfinished odds-on favorite Olorda in the stretch to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Orchid Stakes by three-quarters of a length.

Click here to read article from DRF.

Olorda, the 3-5 favorite who took over the lead in upper stretch, finished second by three lengths over Quiet Kitten. Temple Fur and the pace-setting Maquette completed the order of finish.

Summersault, a 5-year-old New York-bred daughter of Rock Hard Ten, won for the third time in as many tries this Gulfstream meet; she is 6 for 22 overall. This was the first stakes victory for Summersault, owned by William Parsons Jr. and David Howe and trained by Mark Hennig.

Under Paco Lopez, Summersault was in the rear of the compact field as a rank Maquette, making her first start in the U.S., ran off to an open-length advantage through a quarter in 23.47 seconds, a half-mile in 46.12 and six furlongs in 1:10.54.

Midway down the backstretch, Summersault moved in tandem with Temple Fur into contention. Nearing the top of the stretch, Olorda took over from Maquette, but Summersault collared Olorda in midstretch and was able to outfinish her to the wire.

Summersault covered the 1 3/8 miles in 2:12.24 and returned $20 as the longest shot in the five-horse field.

“When she can hear her feet rattle over it she does well,” Hennig said. “She also likes to get down inside and get into trouble. I was a little concerned when the field spread out that much because sometimes when she finds daylight and is by herself a little bit she’ll kind of lose focus. I thought Paco was good and patient with her, it looked like they were running on up front. Once he got up in behind them I got a lot more confident.”

Hennig did not have anything in mind for Summersault’s next start.

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