Archive for August 2020

Warrior’s Charge Wins Iselin Via Disqualification

Trainer Brad Cox knows full well how tough graded stakes victories are to come by, so he will take the one by Warrior’s Charge via disqualification in Saturday’s Grade 3 $200,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park and move on.

With the stewards ruling that first-place finisher Pirate’s Punch came in and intimidated Warrior’s Charge late in the race at the Oceanport, N.J., track, Cox’s horse earned the second graded stakes victory of his career after being placed first.

The 1 1/16-mile Iselin, reduced to a four-horse field after scratches, was essentially a two-horse race with Pirate’s Punch, ridden by Jorge Vargas, Jr., and Warrior’s Charge, handled by Paco Lopez, running neck and neck around the racetrack.

Pirate’s Punch took a slight advantage in mid-stretch before starting to come over inside the sixteenth pole, with Warrior’s Charge battling along the rail.

With 30 yards to go, Lopez stood straight up in the irons and effectively stopped riding, finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind the Grant Forster-trained Pirate’s Punch. It was another three-quarters of a length back to Bal Harbour.

Final time for the mile and a sixteenth was 1:43.37.

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“He (Pirate’s Punch) came in on me pretty good,” said Lopez. “I had to steady because of him. I had to completely stand up and stop riding. He came over. I think the stewards did the right thing. I had to completely stop riding my horse. I think my horse was still trying hard.

“I think if had a little room he would have come back to win because he’s a fighter. You can see on the head-on how it bothered us and why I had to stop riding. That hole was there and then it closed very quickly when that horse came over on us.”

Gulliver Racing’s Phil Bongiovanni, co-owner of Pirate’s Punch, saw it differently.

Warrior’s Charge, who started his 4-year-old campaign by winning the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park, earned his fifth victory in 11 career starts. The son of Munnings-Battling Brook by Broken Vow is owned by Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Stables LLC.

“Paco had the horse where he needed to be, up close or on the lead,” said Cox. “Pirate’s Punch took off after us and I thought we were able to battle back and get in front of him but I’m not sure he ever did, even though he hung in there with him. Maybe we were going to come back. Obviously the stewards thought we were. We were fortunate to come out on the front end of this. The horse that crossed the wire first ran a tremendous race. I honestly thought he was a horse to contend with and he obviously was.

“It’s strange, because a couple of more jumps and we’re probably third. It was an unfortunate way to win a race, I guess you could say. But we’ll take. Now we’ll see how he comes out of it.”

Cox said his ultimate goal with Warrior’s Charge is the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland on Nov. 7. He hopes to find one more race before then.

“He will ship back to Kentucky tomorrow and we’ll see how he is,” he said. “I think we’ll look at one more race (before the Breeders’ Cup Mile) but we’ll see how he comes out of this first.”

Warrior’s Charge paid $3 to win as the 1-2 favorite, dueling with Pirate’s Punch through fractions of :24.10 for the opening quarter, :47.46 for the half, 1:11.17 for three quarters of a mile and 1:36.61 for the mile. They were never separated by more than a half-length until the incident in deep stretch.


As pleased as trainer Arnaud Delacour was to see Chalon come off the also eligible list when Sunday’s Incredible Revenge Stakes at Monmouth Park was taken off the turf, he wasn’t sure about how his classy mare would respond to a track as sloppy as this one wound up being.

Turns out, Chalon handled that much like she does everything else: With a top-notch effort.

Bolting to the front from the far outside post in the reduced field of five in the 5½-furlong dash, Chalon breezed to a one-length victory over Bronx Beauty, with Delacour now setting his sights on getting an elusive graded stakes victory for the 6-year-old daughter of Dialed In-Fall Fantasy by Menifee.

Chalon, supplemented to the Incredible Revenge, now sports a 9-7-1 line from 21 career starts and inched closer to becoming a millionaire with the $45,000 winner’s share of the $75,000 purse boosting her career earnings to $971,895.

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After a rare clunker in her seasonal debut on June 27 at Belmont Park, when she was a badly-beaten sixth, Chalon has now won two straight.

“She’s a really neat mare,” said Delacour. “When we brought her back at Belmont this year she didn’t like the track, it was a little deep, and she was pinched inside. That’s the only time she didn’t fire. But other than that she shows up. I was glad we were able to get into the race after it came off the turf but the question mark was the track. She has never run on a sloppy track. So going in you don’t know.”

Chalon, ridden by Paco Lopez, quickly shook off any early challenges and controlled the race through fractions of :22.74 to the quarter and :46.40 to the half. Final time for the 5½ furlongs was 1:05.32.

“She had a lot of early speed today,” said Lopez. “I normally want to be second or third early with her but she wanted the lead. She was like a bullet today so I just let her go.

“I know her very well. I have won a couple of good races with her but this is the first time she wanted to lead this early. It was a short field and we weren’t sure about the slop so I just let her go. She handled it very well. She’s a nice mare. Very consistent. She tries very hard all the time.”

Though Chalon has been graded stakes-placed multiple times – including a near miss in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, when she was beaten a head in the Grade 1 race — that first graded stakes victory has escaped her so far.

“The hope is we can finally get her a graded stakes win,” said Delacour. “So we will point her to the (Grade 2) Honorable Miss at Saratoga (on Sept. 6).”

Chalon, owned by Lael Stables, returned $3.40 as the favorite. Sunny Dale finished third, 1¼ lengths behind Bronx Beauty.

Pneumatic Pulls Away in Pegasus

Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Pneumatic notched his first stakes victory in the $155,000 Pegasus Stakes Aug. 15 at Monmouth Park, pulling away in the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

The Pegasus was the last race on this year’s revamped Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule, awarding the top four finishers qualifying points for the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) on a 20-8-4-2 scale.

Pneumatic has a total of 45 points following the Pegasus and now sits 11th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, which determines the horses who gain entry to the classic. The Uncle Mo colt also earned points by finishing third in the May 23 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) and fourth in the June 20 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1).

David Fiske, the racing and bloodstock manager for Winchell, said the Kentucky Derby isn’t the next planned step for Pneumatic following the Pegasus, but that connections will see how the colt comes out of the race before making any definite decisions.

“Depending on how he comes out, we might change our mind,” Fiske said of a possible Run for the Roses. “He would have to do something just amazing in the next two weeks for that to happen.”

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Pneumatic, trained by Steve Asmussen, was ridden by Joe Bravo in the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus and raced three wide early in third. He sat off the pace of Arkaan, who led through fractions of :24.17, :48.28, and 1:12.80 for six furlongs. Wartime Hero was second on the rail.

Arkaan was down to a head advantage by the time he ran three-quarters of a mile and Pneumatic loomed on the outside before taking charge past the quarter pole. Jesus’ Team, fourth in the Haskell Stakes (G1) a month ago at Monmouth, rallied wide but Bravo kept Pneumatic at task as his mount cruised across the finish line first. The final time on the fast track was 1:44.76.

“I talked to Steve and his assistant Scott Blasi this morning, and they were really excited about the horse. But you never really know until you sit on them,” Bravo said. “He was just in full control the whole time. A very relaxed animal—he was going very smoothly.

“I give credit to the other two horses for hanging with him for second and third because we kicked so solidly turning for home, and I looked and I said, ‘OK, they’ve stayed with us for a little bit.’ I don’t know what their plans are going forward with this horse, but I’d like to say he did this very effortlessly and well within himself.”

Jesus’ Team was second, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Arkaan, who stayed on for third in the strung-out field. Eight lengths back was Super John, who was followed home by Wartime Hero, Big City Bob, Skyscanner, and As Seen On Tv.

Pneumatic paid $3.60 as the 4-5 favorite.

From five starts, the dark bay has three wins and a third and earnings of $256,850.

Bred in Kentucky, Pneumatic is the first foal out of Winchell’s stakes-placed Tapit mare Teardrop, a full sister to Silverbulletday Stakes (G3) winner War Echo and a three-quarters sister to Forego Stakes (G1) winner Pyro.

“I raised his mother, his grandmother, and his great-grandmother. He’s a true homeboy,” Fiske said after the Pegasus. “That was great to see.”

Teardrop has a 2-year-old filly by Candy Ride named Drop Off, a yearling colt by Gun Runner , and foaled another Gun Runner colt April 8. She was reported bred to Copper Bullet this year.

Sacred Life draws away to win Oceanport Stakes

Sacred Life scored his first stakes victory in the United States on Sunday at Monmouth Park, overhauling Irish Strait in the stretch and drawing clear to win the $100,000 Oceanport Stakes by four lengths.

French-bred Sacred Life ($4.40), a 5-year-old son of Siyouni, moved to the United States last year to race for Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables, and Bethlehem Stables. The horse began his career in his native France, winning the Group 3 Prix Thomas Bryon in 2017 and placing in multiple group stakes events in 2018.

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He has now won twice from six U.S. outings for trainer Chad Brown, with his other victory coming in an allowance race last fall at Keeneland. Grade 2-placed at both Saratoga and Del Mar, the Oceanport marked his first start since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in January.

“I wasn’t worried about the” layoff, assistant trainer Luis Cabrera told Monmouth publicity. “He’s a very classy horse. He knows what to do, and he knows where the wire is. He beat a good field. This was a tough race. But this is a good horse, a very classy horse. He ran the same way in Florida in his last start.

He ran good, considering it was a Grade 1. Then Chad gave him a little break. He really closed nicely this race.”

New Jersey-bred Irish Strait, a graded stakes winner at Monmouth Park, had assumed command of the Oceanport through a half-mile in 48.92 seconds and six furlongs in 1:12.53. He took a two-length lead into the stretch and appeared headed for the win off a long layoff. However, Sacred Life, who had been fifth after six furlongs under Monmouth leading rider Paco Lopez, advanced inside on the far turn before angling out for running room straightening into the lane. He easily collared Irish Strait and stormed home to his final margin, stopping the clock in 1:42.13 for the 1 1/16 miles.

Hawkish rallied from fifth in deep stretch to nose out Irish Strait for second.

‘Classy horse’ Sacred Life bests tough field in Monmouth’s Oceanport

In a field that featured four graded stakes winners and a millionaire, Sacred Life – who is neither yet – proved he belongs in that company.

The Chad Brown-trainee stormed home with a rousing stretch run under Paco Lopez and easily drew off to a four-length victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Oceanport Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Idle since a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational on Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park, Sacred Life showed no ill effects from the layoff, easily besting eight rivals in the 73rd edition of the mile-and-a-sixteenth grass race for 3-year-olds-and up.

“I wasn’t worried about that (the layoff),” said Luis Cabrera, who oversees Brown’s string at Monmouth Park. “He’s a very classy horse. He knows what to do and he knows where the wire is. He beat a good field. This was a tough race. But this is a good horse, a very classy horse.”

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Bred in France, the 5-year-old son of Siyouni-Knyazhna by Montjeu came to Brown from Europe a year ago. In five starts in the United States, he has twice raced against Grade 2 competition and once in a Grade 1.

The Oceanport field consisted of graded stakes winners Synchrony, Hawkish, Eons and Thread of Blue, with the latter having banked more than $1 million in his career.

Hawkish rallied for second, with early pace setter Irish Strait finishing a nose back in third. Time for the mile and a sixteenth over a turf course listed as “good” was 1:42.13.

Lopez, injured in a spill on Saturday’s card that saw the track’s leading rider transported to the hospital, sat patiently in mid-pack with Sacred Life before getting a clear run in the stretch, with track announcer Frank Mirahmadi saying it appeared the horse was “shot out of a cannon” with his eye-catching late move.

At the quarter pole Sacred Life, the 6-5 second choice, was fifth by 3½ lengths.

Lopez said it was just a matter of staying clear and letting the horse do what he does, especially since he was still hurting from his mishap.

“I’m a little sore. My elbow is a little bruised,” said Lopez, who won four races on the card. “I’m very lucky that I am able to come back quickly and then to ride a nice horse like this in a stakes race. He was ready today. I know he’s a classy horse. I just wanted to get some position in the first turn, let him settle and wait. I took him outside because the turf is a little harder there than it is inside.

“I was waiting for (Synchrony, the 11-10 favorite in the betting) but he never showed up, so I just wanted to get my horse clear. I held him as long as could, but he really wanted to go. He showed how much he wanted to run with the way he closed.”

Owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables LLC, Wonder Stables and Bethlehem Stables LLC, Sacred Life returned $4.40 to win.

The victory was his sixth in 15 career starts. He also has six seconds.

County Final Goes from Sales to Tyro Winner’s Circle

Whether in the sales ring or on the racetrack, County Final is commanding attention. The 2-year-old Oxbow colt, who topped the Fasig-Tipton July Horses of Racing Age Sale when purchased for $475,000, picked up his first stakes win for his new connections Aug. 8 by winning the $71,500 Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Reluctant to load and slower into stride than in two prior starts, races in which he led early, County Final chased the pace for the first time in the Tyro. He settled in second, as the Wesley Ward-trained first-time starter Spicy Marg shot to the lead with an opening quarter-mile in :22.20.

Called into action on the turn by jockey Joe Bravo, he was initially turned back by Spicy Marg, but by midstretch, his seasoning advantage was apparent. He reeled in the leader shortly after a half-mile split in :45.65, and coasted home the final eighth of the five-furlong dash by 4 1/4 lengths. He completed the distance on a fast track in :58.16, paying $2.80 as the favorite.

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“He’s a pretty nice colt. Very mature,” said Bravo. “He really impressed me in the post parade. He’s a very intelligent horse. He relaxed nicely.

“He broke good but that horse inside of us (Spicy Marg) is fast. (She) out-footed us, but it was so impressive at the one-eighth pole. My horse switched leads and he took off.”

Spicy Marg, a filly matched against three males in the Tyro, held second, two lengths ahead of third-place Newyearsblockparty. Beau Bridge completed the order of finish.

The Tyro, originally scheduled for turf but moved to the main track, lost half of its field when Fauci, Baytown Bear, Golden Pal, and Twirling Fire were scratched. Golden Pal and Fauci were the race’s morning-line favorites.

County Final, now owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William Sandbrook, and Anna Marie Shannon and trained by Steve Asmussen, previously raced for trainer John Ennis, who owned him in partnership with Hayden Noriega and 47 Roses.

Ennis consigned the colt to last month’s sale after a debut maiden victory at Churchill Downs followed by a runner-up finish behind Cazadero in the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3). At Fasig-Tipton he proved a popular commodity, ultimately purchased by West Point with Lane’s End Bloodstock acting as agent.

Saturday he became the first stakes winner from his dam, the Tapit mare Tapajo, who won the six-furlong Goldfinch Stakes and one-mile Panthers Stakes at Prairie Meadows in 2012 for Asmussen. He is one of three winners from his dam, who also as a yearling filly by Keen Ice and foaled a Will Take Charge colt this year.

Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, where Oxbow currently stands for $10,000, the colt was originally bought for $9,500 by Ennis from Ballysax Bloodstock at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

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