Archive for August 2021

Lopez Wins With Amatteroftime, Alta Velocita On New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival Day

It only seemed fitting that a day celebrating New Jersey-bred horses belonged to jockey Paco Lopez, trainer Kelly Breen, and breeder-owner John Bowers.

Lopez, who tied his own Monmouth Park record by riding seven winners on Saturday, captured two of the three stakes races during Sunday’s New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., while Breen won the $100,000 New Jersey Breeders’ Handicap with Pickin’ Time, last year’s champion New Jersey-bred 2-year-old.

Pickin’ Time, who held off Golden Brown to win by 1¾ lengths in the six-furlong New Jersey Breeders’ Handicap for 3-year-olds and up, is owned and was bred by John Bowers.

Bowers was honored during the day as the 2020 New Jersey Breeder of the Year.

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“It’s great that Pickin’ Time and Mr. (John) Bowers would win this race on Jersey-bred day,” said Breen. “He’s a top breeder. It’s difficult when you have a top 2-year-old and you have to transition to 3. Then at 3, having to run against older horses in a race like this like Golden Brown, who is a top older horse, one of the best Jersey-breds ever.

“We knew we had our work cut out for us. Our horse was training well and doing well. I’m just glad he showed up. We talked a lot about the cut back (to six furlongs from a mile and an eighth in the TVG.com Haskell Invitational in his last start). We sharpened him up with the breezes. We did all I thought we needed him to do to get him ready for a top effort off the shelf. He showed up. They went fast. But he’s a fast horse too.”

Ridden by Nik Juarez, Pickin’ Time looped three-wide coming out of the final turn while Golden Brown, ridden by Lopez, shot the rail.

“It was for the best that I had to go wide coming out of the final turn,” said Juarez. “The favorite (Golden Brown) was down on the rail so I wanted to get the jump before he got through and make sure I was clear and kick some dirt. We were able to get the jump on him and that made a difference.”

Pickin’ Time, making his first start since being elevated to fourth in the Grade 1 Haskell, returned $8.60 to win.

The winning time for the son of Stay Thirsty was 1:09.58, with Dr. Doyle getting third.

The other two stakes races on the 12-race card for state-breds belonged to Lopez.

The track’s leading rider guided Amatteroftime to a 4¾-length victory over Prendimi in the $125,000 Charles Hesse III Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth and also captured the $100,000 Eleven North Handicap, doing so with a rousing stretch run that saw Alta Velocita get up to win by a nose over Jersey Jewel.

Amatteroftime, trained by Silvino Ramirez, earned his first stakes win since capturing the 2018 New Jersey Breeders’ Handicap. The 6-year-old gelding is now 5-for-13 at Monmouth Park during his career.

Amatteroftime paid $5.40 to win, covering the mile and a sixteenth in 1:44.49. Optic Way finished third, another two lengths back.

Lopez’s victory in the six-furlong Eleven North aboard Alta Velocita wasn’t nearly as easy, with the filly rallying from eighth, seven lengths back, at the quarter pole, finally catching Jersey Jewel on the wire. The winning time was 1:10.45.

Though Alta Velocita has won four of her last five starts, the Eleven North marked the first stakes victory in her 15-race career.

“At the top of the stretch, I was hoping we’d get fourth because of how far back she was. Maybe fifth and then a long drive home,” said winning trainer Andrew Simoff. “As it got closer my hopes picked up. I still didn’t she was going to get there inside the sixteenth pole. She had that late surge and switched to that right lead and took off and that was it.”

Alta Velocita returned $6.20 in the field of 11 fillies and mares, three and up.

“At the five-eighths and then the half-mile pole I was thinking `she is dead last,’ ” said Lopez, who is virtually assured of his eighth Monmouth Park riding title. “I let her go very wide and let her do her thing. She was flying. I think she made up 10 lengths in the stretch.”

Vigilantes Way Among Seven Lopez Winners at Monmouth

Paco LopezIt may be true that records are made to be broken, but jockey Paco Lopez keeps tying his own at Monmouth Park. Lopez matched the record he set twice in 2014 by winning seven races on Aug. 28 14-race card, capping the performance with a half-length victory aboard Phipps Stable’s homebred Vigilantes Way in the $100,000 Miss Liberty Stakes.

Lopez, well on his way to an eighth Monmouth Park riding title, won five consecutive races spanning the fifth through ninth races before matching his track record in the co-featured Miss Liberty Stakes aboard the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro.

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“When I looked at the horses I was riding today I felt good. I felt quite a few had a shot,” said Lopez, who won the Charles Town Oaks (G3) aboard R Adios Jersey Aug. 27 at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. “I am very grateful to do this again. I guess the next thing I have to get to is eight wins here.”

The Shug McGaughey-trained Vigilantes Way ($3.20) covered 1 1/16 miles over a turf course listed as “good” in 1:43.14, having just enough to hold off the late-running Miss Teheran . It was another 1 1/2 lengths back in third to Counterparty Risk .

Also on Saturday, Peace Sign Stable’s Belgrano scored a two-length victory in the $100,000 Rainbow Heir Stakes under Issac Castillo. It marked the first time 79-year-old trainer Frank Russo saddled a winner in a six-figure race.

Paco Lopez ties own Monmouth record with 7 wins, including stakes

It may be true that records are made to be broken, but jockey Paco Lopez keeps tying his own one at Monmouth Park.

Lopez matched the record he set twice in 2014 by winning seven races on Saturday’s 14-race card, capping the performance with a half-length victory aboard Vigilantes Way in the $100,000 Miss Liberty Stakes.

Lopez, well on his way to an eighth Monmouth Park riding title, won five consecutive races spanning the fifth through ninth races before matching his track record in the co-featured Miss Liberty Stakes aboard the heavily-favored Vigilantes Way.

Click here to read from Horse Racing Nation

Trained by Shug McGaughey, Vigilantes Way rebounded from a loss in the Grade 1 Diana in her last start. Prior to that she won the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes at Monmouth Park on June 20.

In the co-featured $100,000 Rainbow Heir Stakes at 5½ furlongs on the turf, Belgrano found an opening along the rail early in the stretch and burst through for a two-length victory. It marked the first time 79-year-old trainer Frank Russo saddled a winner in a six-figure race.

But the day belong to Lopez, the runaway leader in the Monmouth Park jockey standings with 72. Isaac Castillo, who rode Belgrano to victory, is second with 40 winners.

“I think I was very lucky today,” said Lopez, who won the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks aboard R Adios Jersey on Friday night. “You look at these last couple of horses I won with and they handled the track. It’s a little wet both on the dirt and turf. I’m lucky this horse (Vigilantes Way) likes this grass course.

“When I looked at the horses I was riding today I felt good. I felt quite a few had a shot. I am very grateful to do this again. I guess the next thing I have to get to is eight wins here.”

Vigilantes Way covered the mile and a sixteenth over a turf course listed as “good” in 1:43.14, having just enough to hold off the late-running Miss Teheran. It was another 1½ lengths back in third to Counterparty Risk.

The victory was the sixth in 14 career starts for the 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, who was bred and is owned by the Phipps Stable. She is 2-for-2 on the Monmouth turf course.

“I was pleased with the way she ran,” said McGaughey. “It was a little bit different. She was stuck there for a minute but Paco Lopez worked out of it and we beat a nice filly who was second.

“I think she likes the quick turns. She does like Monmouth but the quick turns seem to suit her, because she has run good at Pimlico. She handles about any type of turf course. So when it rained a little it didn’t bother her. I think we’ll try her in the Violate Stakes (Sept. 25 at Monmouth Park) next.”

Vigilantes Way returned $3.20 to win in the field of six fillies and mares, three and up.

Belgrano, who won the Virgil “Buddy” Raines Stakes at Monmouth Park a year ago, earned his fourth win in six starts on the track’s turf course. The 7-year-old gelding was coming off a six-length win in handicap company at a mile, with the shorter distance proving to be no issue. He finished two lengths ahead of Grateful Bred, who was a neck better than The Connector.

Belgrano returned $8.40 to win in the field of nine 3-year-olds, flashing under the wire in 1:02.52.

“After this race I think I can say for sure that this is the best horse I have ever had,” said Russo, who has been training since 1976. “I thought it might be tough for him at the end, especially going shorter, but he sort of got his way at the beginning of the stretch when the rail opened. It was a perfect trip.

“It’s a great feeling. This is the biggest race (purse-wise) I have ever won. I was worried about the rain. If it was off the turf we were out. So I’m happy it stayed on the grass. I think he is at his best right now. Could not be happier with him than I am right now.”

R Adios Jersey Wins Charles Town Oaks To Remain Unbeaten In Five Starts

R Adios Jersey was hustled to the front at the start under Paco Lopez and was never headed en route to a 3 1/4-length victory in Friday night’s $400,000, Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks in Charles Town, W. Va.

Pauline’s Pearl finished second, with Allworthy third and 7-10 favorite Caramel Swirl fourth in the field of 10 3-year-old fillies.

The winner, a Florida-bred 3-year-old filly by Adios Charlie out of Marion Theatre, by Montbrook, paid $12.80 as the second wagering choice after running seven furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.37. R Adios Jersey set fractions of :22.24, :46.27 and 1;11.06 along the way. The filly earned $230,400.

Click here to read from Paulick Report

“I sent her and I got her into the race very good,” said Lopez. “I know the horse and she’s very fast. I tried to save her a little bit because the last time I rode her at Tampa, she got a little tired. … I wanted to go and try and sit second with her but the owners said I had to send her and I have to listen to the boss.”

“Turning for home she started to get really tired. She was running very hard all the time, that filly. But Georgina [Baxter] the trainer told me, Paco, that filly is ready.”

R Adios Jersey is owned by Averill Racing LLC and ATM Racing. She is trained by Georgina Baxter, a former exercise rider who in 2018 took over the racing stable of Ralph Ziadie, whose Florida trainer’s license was not renewed by regulators after an unusually high number of medication violations. Ziadie’s son, Kirk, is serving a six-year ban for repeated medication violations. Baxter has won at a 27% clip since taking out her trainer’s license.

R Adios Jersey, bred in Florida by Ocala Stud and Mike O’Farrelll, won her previous four starts in Florida, including a stakes triumph at Tampa Bay Downs in her most recent start on March 28.

Iselin puts Code of Honor back in the win column

Racing for the first time in seven months, Code of Honor won for the first time in six starts, proving much the best in the Grade 3, $250,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes.

Code of Honor traveled sweetly throughout the 1 1/16-mile Iselin and jockey Paco Lopez, who has been putting on a riding clinic this summer, made the most of his live mount. Lopez left his rail spot stalking the pace from mid-pack at about the five-furlong marker, keeping the best horse in the Iselin out of trouble. From that point, Code of Honor’s six opponents were in trouble. The even-money favorite won by 2 1/2 lengths, breezing across the finish in what looked like a perfect comeback run for a horse whose connections will chase bigger game in the autumn.

“This is the first time he has run in a long time,” said Shug McGaughey, who trains Code of Honor for his breeder, William Farish. “With my training, I don’t try to overdo it. I think he could have been drifting out a little at the end. Maybe he was getting a little tired, I don’t know. But we got it in him, and we got a win and hopefully we can go on to some other things down the road. We’ll see how he comes out of it, but I think it sets us up pretty good.”

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McGaughey didn’t name a race but mentioned an early October stakes at Belmont, which would be the Oct. 2 Woodward over nine furlongs, as Code of Honor’s likely next stop, all being well.

It’s easy to forget what a rising star Code of Honor seemed two Augusts ago, when he won the Travers, and a month later the Belmont stewards reversed his narrow defeat by Vino Rosso in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Vino Rosso went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but Code of Honor finished a flat seventh in the race, didn’t start again until the following June, and while effective at times, has never quite gotten back to his peak.

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Saturday’s start was a step in the right direction. Code of Honor broke alertly and took Lopez – if not the other way around – right into the Iselin. Code of Honor settled in fourth while in front of him three horses, West Will Power, Brice, and I’m a G Six, volleyed for the lead. The first quarter-mile was slow, the second one considerably quicker for a half-mile split of 47.72, and by then Lopez had Code of Honor outside.

Going three paths wide around I’m a G Six and Brice, Code of Honor had the lead at the three-furlong pole. Into the stretch Lopez looked over his left shoulder, his right shoulder, saw nothing and was able to ease up on his mount the final half-furlong. Winning time was 1:42.38 over a fast track, good enough for a 105 Beyer Speed Figure. Code of Honor paid $4.

Phat Man was geared up for this race and Lopez said that was the horse he looked out for after making the lead, but Phat Man, rallying mildly and wide, never threatened the winner. West Will Power, running an odd race, and still a work in progress, came back on Phat Man and edged him by a neck for second.

“He’s a very nice horse,” Lopez said of Code of Honor. “He was strong. You could not tell he was off as long as he was. He was very comfortable the whole time.”

The 2021 Travers comes next weekend, harking back to Code of Honor’s high point, reached as a 3-year-old. Two years on, Code of Honor hinted he still could make a dent in the top of the older-male dirt division.

Code of Honor Shakes Off Cobwebs to Win Iselin

Whatever plans trainer Shug McGaughey settles on going forward with Code of Honor he now has the perfect set-up race behind him to work off.

Code of Honor, the 2019 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) runner-up and Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) winner, easily shook off the cobwebs from a seven-month layoff, rolling to a 2 1/2-length victory in the Aug. 21 $252,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park.

Ridden by Paco Lopez, the multiple grade 1 winner outclassed his six rivals despite being idle since a fifth-place finish in the Jan. 23 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) at Gulfstream Park.

“I thought he ran good. I was pleased, very pleased,” said McGaughey. “Paco Lopez let him break and run away from there. He knows that racetrack and he had him laying up a little closer than he usually is and made his move kind of early on to try to go on and get the thing over with. He rode a really nice race on him.”

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Lopez, well on his way to an eighth Monmouth Park riding title, was able to get the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Noble Mission into a spot along the rail off of early frontrunners I’m a G Six, West Will Power, and Brice. Following an opening quarter in :24.42, with the half going in :47.59, Lopez slipped Code of Honor outside to give him clear run.

He took off after the leaders through six furlongs reached in 1:10.77 and was rolling three-wide coming out of the turn, drawing off with ease. West Will Power finished second, a neck ahead of Phat Man .

The winning time for the mile and a sixteenth was 1:42.38.

“Once he was clear and on the outside I felt good, said Lopez. “He’s a very nice horse. He was strong. You could not tell he was off as long as he was. He was very comfortable the whole time. I was waiting a little bit in the stretch for Phat Man to make a run at us but my horse was just too good.”

The W. S. Farish homebred paid $4.00 to win. He is one of eight winners out of his dam, the graded-winning Dixie Union mare Reunited. Among her two unraced foals is a 2-year-old colt by Honor Code named Sidekick.

The victory improved Code of Honor’s overall line to 7-4-2 from 17 starts and boosted his career earnings to $2,881,320. Six of those victories have come in graded stakes.

“This is the first time he has run in a long time,” said McGaughey. “With my training I don’t try to overdo it. I think he could have been drifting out a little at the end. Maybe he was getting a little tired, I don’t know. But we got it in him and we got a win and hopefully we can go on to some other things down the road.

“We’ll see how he comes out of it but I think it sets us up pretty good. I’d like to think about a race at Belmont Park the first part of October. This will take a little bit out of him, shipping (from Saratoga) and running and now you’ve got to ship back. It’s not 50 degrees. It’s hot. I’ll be glad to get him back up to Saratoga and watch him for a few days. We’ll take it easy with him and go from there.”

Real Talk takes early lead all the way in Jersey Shore Stakes

Real talk – you can’t break much faster than Real Talk did Sunday at Monmouth Park.

Doing his best Quarter Horse impression, Real Talk rocketed out of the starting gate to open a clear early lead in a race with several other pace players, and, after fending off a midrace challenge from Fire Sword, went on to a sharp 4 1/2-length score in the $100,000 Jersey Shore Stakes.

Real Talk ran six furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.02 and paid $6.40 to win this race restricted to 3-year-olds. Paco Lopez rode the winner for trainer David Carlos and owner Bell Racing.

If any horse in the Jersey Shore looked like the speed of the speed it was Mighty Mischief, but he was a couple lengths behind after Real Talk’s perfect beginning.

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“He just broke out of the gate so fast,” Lopez said. “He was right on top after the gate opened. It reminded me of when I rode Quarter Horses.”

Fire Sword threw in the towel past the three-furlong marker and three-wide Mighty Mischief tried to take up the chase, but he was left reeling by the winner in upper stretch while holding on for second. Then came Moonlite Strike, Fire Sword, Upstriker, and American Gentleman. Indian Lake was scratched.

Second last out in the Carry Back Stakes at Gulfstream, Real Talk now is a four-time winner from 10 stars, with this his first stakes tally. The Florida-bred is by Gemologist out of Woodland Walk, by Bernardini.

*** On Saturday, Introduced won her second race in a row this summer at Monmouth, pushing past pacesetting Running Memories in deep stretch to win the $102,000 Incredible Revenge Stakes by three quarters of a length. Introduced, trained by Jorge Duarte Jr. for Richard Santulli’s Colts Neck Stable, ran 5 1/2 furlongs over firm turf in 1:02.50 and paid $10.60 to win.

Ward’s Irish-bred filly Her World crushes the field in the $200K Tyro at Monmouth

OCEANPORT, N.J.—Wesley Ward’s Her World was much the best winning the $100,000 Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park. The Irish-bred filly earned Black Type with her first start and stakes win.

Showing good speed outside to clear the field, she set the pace, shook free on the turn, drifted off the inside and pulled away in hand. Trust Our Journey chased between rivals early, chased inside on the turn and rallied on the rail in the lane. Roman Poet was reluctant to load, raced off the pace inside, drifted out near the quarter pole interfering with Vodka N Water, then rallied for third. Baytown Warrior chased inside, steadied entering the turn, rode the rail into the stretch and finished evenly.

Catch the Smoke was outrun early and closed belatedly in the three path. Baytown Frosty chased close three wide and tired. Forty Stripes was off slowly and outrun.

Under astute jockey Paco Lopez the daughter of Caravaggio out of Mundus Novus, by Unbridled’s Song lead gate-to-wire to win by 6 lengths. The 2-year-old filly won the five-furlong race on a firm turf track in a time of :56.62.

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“She is obviously a very nice filly. Wesley told me she’s the best filly he has now and maybe for many, many years at this stage of her career. She broke on top and was looking around a little, maybe trying to figure things out (in her first career start). She was very professional. I used her to get to the top right away because Wesley Ward told me she had that kind of speed. Sometimes you want to get out there second or third and relax but she wanted to go.

“I looked behind after a while for the other horses but no one was running at us. She was flying in the stretch. You have to be special to do something like this in your first start, a stakes race and a filly against boys. But Wesley was very confident. He told me he loves this filly and wants to take her to the Breeders’ Cup. Now that I have ridden her I know she can do it,” Lopez explained.

The gray filly was bred by Lynch Bages Ltd & Rhinestone B/Stock and is campaigned by Andrew Farm, Susan Molton, For The People Racing Stable LLC, and Windmill Manor Farm.

“Personally I was nervous going into the race, but I will tell you what, Wesley Ward had a lot of confidence in the horse and that’s why she ended up in this race against the boys. It’s not up to me, but there have been conversations about running her the first weekend at Keeneland. My ownership partnership is with Charlie O’Connor and John Morgan. After today, I would definitely tell you this is one of, if not my favorite horse, we own right now. I am thrilled with what I saw,” co-owner Dick Brodie of Andrew Farm excitedly remarked.

Conditioner Ward commented: “We’re excited, she did exactly what we thought she would. We don’t have to change much after watching that race moving forward. We’re going to bring her next to Keeneland, and then we plan on bringing her to the Breeders’ Cup. With what she showed today winning in a stakes race against colts who had experience, it’s encouraging. We’re going to skip right along and continue from this. I look forward to her next couple of starts but I also look forward to her being a three-year-old, and I think (co-owner) Dick Brodie and the rest of the owners have a special one with her.”

Her World paid $3.80, $3.20 and $3.00 for the win., Trust Our Journey paid $6.80, 4.80 for second and Baytown Warrior paid $10.80 for show. The WINNING EXACTA paid $28.60.

Catch the Smoke, Baytown Frosty, Forty Stripes, Vodka N Water complete the order of finish. A Dangerous Guy and Chi Town Lady Trainer scratches.

Vodka N Water raced off the rail, off the pace, clipped the heels of Roman Poet, stumbled and fell, then walked off. After a Stewards’ Inquiry into the incident, Roman Poet, was disqualified from third and placed last for interfering with Vodka N Water.

Founder Willing Winner In Tale Of The Cat

OCEANPORT, NJ – Jeff Drown and Don Rachel’s Founder overcame steadying hard at the start and rallied from the rear to prove a willing winner of Saturday’s $100,000 Tale Of The Cat Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Paco Lopez, Founder won the 1 1/16-mile firm turf route by 1 1/4 lengths as the even-money favorite in the field of seven 3-year-olds.

Pacesetter It Can Be Done took second over Hot Blooded, while Eamonn headed It’s a Gamble for fourth.

King of Dreams and Fifty Sheas Ofgrey completed the order of finish.

Click here to read from Racing Dudes

“I was trying to stay closer than I was because there was a lot of speed and I didn’t want to be too far back on this grass course,” Lopez said. “I was a little surprised at (It Can Be Done) and the speed of the race, but I knew my horse had a lot left and I waited to make my move when there was enough room. It was my first time riding the horse, and I know riding for Chad Brown, he likes to come from off the pace, so I wanted to wait as long as I could and the horse had a lot left to make the last run.”

Doubleoseven and Main Track Only entry Spun and Won scratched.

Founder’s win, his first in a stakes, improved his record to 7-2-1-1 with $139,522 earned. Drown and Rachel purchased the Upstart colt for $600,000 as an unraced juvenile.

“He’s not much on speed, but he has a good kick at the end,” said assistant trainer Luis Cabrera. “All Chad said before the race is to make sure he warms up good because he has plenty of ability.”

Founder returned $4.20 to win, $3 to place, and 42.60 to show. It Can Be Done brought back $4.40 to place and $3.20 to show. Hot Blooded paid $6.40 to show.

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