Here & There – Oct. 22

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Florent Geroux leaned on the outer rail just off the winner’s circle, chatted with a couple Keeneland executives and kept a close watch on the large monitor on the infield tote board.

“Did we get the money or what?” Geroux asked no one in particular as the stewards upstairs reviewed the stretch run of Sunday’s Grade 3 Rood & Riddle Dowager Stakes. “They’re taking a long time with this.”

A few seconds later a cheer came from some of the 13,836 fans in the boxes and grandstand seats, followed by word from the announcer that there indeed would be a change to the placings in the 1 1/2-mile turf stakes for fillies and mares. Beach Flower, first at the finish post under Chris Landeros, wound up disqualified and placed third behind the Calumet Farm-owned duo of Vexatious, Geroux’s mount, and English Affair.

The adjudged winner, who finished fourth in last year’s Kentucky Oaks and placed in two other graded stakes on dirt, wasn’t affected by Beach Flower. That role went to English Affair and Brian Hernandez Jr., who made a run up the inside before being affected twice by Beach Flower.

“Not the way I like to win races but I guess we’ll take it. I’ve lost that way, too,” said Geroux, who saw his number come down last month for interference aboard Monomoy Girl in the Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx Racing.

“I was right outside and I could feel it. I actually thought Brian was going to win it. He came inside and looked like he as going to go by me and Chris. I heard him holler pretty hard right before the finish line, so I think he had to check. I didn’t get a chance to see the replay but it looked like he caused trouble to Brian’s filly.”

A neck separated the first two at the end of the 12 furlongs in 2:32.40 over the course labeled firm. Hernandez and English Affair were another 1 ¼ lengths back in third with 7-2 favorite Res Ipsa fourth in the field of nine.

“We were the best horse by far, and we got shut off into the fence for no reason,” Hernandez said. “The door just closed. The rest of the trip was great. She was always there for me and turning for home, I thought I was on the winner and I got shut off.”

Vexatious, one of two winners on the day for Calumet after the Italian-bred filly Red Dane gave trainer Charlie LoPresti his first win of the meet in the race prior to the Dowager, shipped in from Southern California for Hall of Fame conditioner Neil Drysdale.

The 4-year-old Giant’s Causeway filly finished seventh in her previous start, against males in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine in mid-September. She won the 1 3/8-mile CCT and TOC Stakes two starts back at Del Mar.

“It didn’t go her way the last time in Canada; she got shuffled back in the first turn. She doesn’t have that much acceleration,” Drysdale said before dashing off into the grandstand to watch one of his runners at Santa Anita Park via simulcast. “Today (Geroux) had her in perfect position. He had her covered. I was very pleased with the race. It’s not the best way to win a race on a DQ but we’re just going to have to take it.

“She’s a very elegant filly, and she’s talented. I would expect her to go and improve off this race.”

The Dowager capped the 13th day of racing at the fall meet and wrapped another strong week at Keeneland. A big crowd of 23,567 turned out Saturday to see Shamrock Rose upset the Grade 2 Lexus Raven Run and 16,096 came Friday to watch Colonia receive a significant boost from Daddy Is A Legend to win the Grade 3 Pin Oak Valley View.

Daddy Is A Legend ducked through the inner Mawsafe safety rail in the stretch of the Valley View, costing her what looked to be an apparent victory in the $150,000 stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The daughter of Scat Daddy averted injury in the incident, which can be seen below thanks to the video team at Keeneland.

Far Hills Report

European invader Jury Duty stole the show at Saturday’s Far Hills Race Meeting in New Jersey, winning the $450,000 Grade 1 Grand National Hurdle Stakes with authority for owner Sideaways Syndicate, trainer Gordon Elliott and jockey Robbie Power.

Jury Duty, second in the $51,900 PWC Champion Steeplechase two weeks prior at Gowran Park, led a 1-2 finish for the Europeans with Tornado Watch second in the field of nine. All The Way Jose finished third and Hinterland finished fourth to lead the home contingent.

The huge afternoon of jump racing also included split divisions of the $125,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, won by Belisarius and Detroit Blues.

The husband-wife jockey-trainer team of Bernie Dalton and Kate Dalton teamed to win the first division with Belisarius for owners Gary Barber, Brous Stable and Wachtel Stable. The 7-year-old Irish-bred by Montjeu won by 6 1/4 lengths over Surprising Soul as the second longest shot on the board at 12-1.

Rosbrian Farm’s Detroit Blues on the second division by a half-length from Gibralfaro with 8-5 favorite Amschel third. Ross Geraghty rode the English-bred 8-year-old Tobougg gelding for trainer Ricky Hendriks.

Hendriks and Rosbrian also won the opening Gladstone Hurdle for 3-year-olds with Caldbeck, making his first start for the conditioner after previously running in Gordon Elliott’s name in Ireland.

Jack Fisher and Bruton Street-US also won two on the day, taking the $50,000 Harry E. Harris maiden hurdle with Special Relation under Willie McCarthy and the closing $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup timber with Two’s Company and Sean McDermott.

McDermott also rode Straylight Racing’s Invocation to victory in the $50,000 Appleton handicap hurdle for trainer William Santoro.

As for the TIHR handicappers, only Joe managed to pick a winner and came away with two on the first pari-mutuel card in Far Hills history. Joe picked Special Relation ($17) and Invocation ($19.40) for a positive return on investment of $22.40 based on a $2 win bet on his top selections. Sean and Tom were blanked. Sean remains on top for the autumn season with eight wins to seven for Joe and six for Tom.

Five meetings remain for the 2018 season, including two Saturday with the Aiken Fall Steeplechase in South Carolina and International Gold Cup in Virginia.


By the Numbers

245: Mares bred by Into Mischief in 2018, the most of any North American stallion according to The Jockey Club’s Report of Mares Bred. Cupid (223), Klimt (222), Practical Joke (220) and Violence (214) rounded out the top five.

1,214: Number of stallions that covered 30,274 mares in North America in 2018.

5,000: Career wins for Javier Castellano after riding Runaway Lute to victory in the $150,000 Hudson Handicap Saturday at Belmont Park.

$12,403: Total pool for the Cross Country Pick 4 involving the Foxbrook Champion Novice Hurdle and $450,000 Grand National Hurdle Stakes at Far Hills and the Empire Distaff and Empire Classic from Belmont Park. The winning 50-cent wager on Detroit Blues (Foxbrook), Jury Duty (Grand National), Bonita Bianca (Empire Distaff) and Pat On The Back (Empire Classic) paid $154.50.

$355,439: Total handle on the seven races at Far Hills


Lecture Series

Milt C. Toby, author of Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing’s Most Famous Cold Case, will speak during the Keeneland Library’s Lecture Series  at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Following Toby’s presentation, the Library will host a reception and book signing. A limited number of Taking Shergar will be available for purchase. The event is free and open to the public.


Worth Repeating

“…this horse stays longer than a mother-in-law.”
Mark Johnson on Far Hills maiden winner Special Relation

“I’m hanging around some good guys, that’s for sure.”
Trainer Charlie LoPresti before Friday’s opener at Keeneland, alongside TIHR’s Sean Clancy, Jack Clancy and Tom Law
“The only decent one you’re hanging around is a lady.”
Keeneland’s Geoffrey Russell, pointing to LoPresti’s wife Amy

“Did I see you occasionally run in 5Ks? I will never challenge you again.”
Keeneland announcer Kurt Becker, referencing his speedy trip that bested Tom Law from the press box to the parking lot last spring (there’s an original exchange on Twitter out there somewhere and a prize if you can find it)

“We won, we won, we won. I gotta go.”
Trainer Kelly Deiter, on the phone after Unbridled Escape won the Maryland Million Starter Stakes

“You want to know you picked a good spot for your horse, but if you get beat they throw eggs at you.”
Trainer Jeff Runco, on saddling favorites (his Lewisfield won the Maryland Million Sprint at 1-5

“Her name was Fascinatin’ Rhythm. I remembered it in the next race I rode.”
Jockey Forest Boyce, who couldn’t come up with the name of her first stakes winner (for Crabcakes’ breeder Binnie Houghton) during a post-race interview at the Maryland Million

Jockey Feargal Lynch (after winning the last at Laurel Saturday): “That turf’s beautiful.”
Jockey Edgar Prado (who won the Maryland Million Classic): “The dirt was better for me.”

“It took me a double leg-up to get on him.”
Prado, on the size of Maryland Million Classic winner Saratoga Bob

“He’s always happy. He’s turned out and living the good life, which I’m happy for.”
Trainer Mary Eppler, on retired Pennsylvania-bred star Page McKenney

Trainer Tim Keefe, whose hearing hadn’t quite adjusted from the Clubhouse Festival music at Laurel Saturday

“It’s why we do what we do.”
Keeneland President Bill Thomason on the Mawsafe rail, installed to ensure the safety of equine and human athletes


Monster Million

The Maryland Million never disappoints. Oh, the names change and the horses come and go but the event delivers on multiple fronts every year. There are always longshot winners, homebreds with cool backstories, connections who love to talk about their horses and long links to history.

The 2018 version was no different. Among the various storylines to come out of Laurel Park Saturday were:

• Jockey Edgar Prado’s 18th lifetime victory in the Maryland Million to break a tie with Ramon Domginuez for the all-time lead. Prado booted home Saratoga Bob in the Classic to break the tie. Prado was a regular in the Maryland Million when he rode in Maryland for 10 years, even winning four in a single day in 1998. The Hall of Famer moved his base to New York and didn’t win a Million race again until last year. Based in Maryland again, the 51-year-old Prado broke the tie with a textbook ride Saturday. He stalked the pace, made a bid with three-eighths to go and then fought off challengers to his inside and outside to win by a half-length for owners/breeders Bob Manfuso and Katy Voss and partner Wayne Harrison. Prado and Harrison go back to the jockey’s early days in Maryland, via trainer Vinnie Blengs.

“At the beginning of my career I was here for so many years and I was doing so good and the people were so good to me it was very hard for me to leave,” Prado said of his connection to Maryland. “It was not easy to leave but it was time to move and that was the reason I went to New York. Now, coming back here and I’ve been trying to pass Ramon. He’s a great rider, so it’s not an easy thing to do. Doing it that way it is a great achievement. I didn’t ride in the Maryland Million for a long time.”

• Crabcakes won her third Million race for trainer Bernie Houghton. The 4-year-old filly fought off My Magician late to repeat in the Distaff going 7 furlongs for jockey orest Boyce. Crabcakes won the Lassie in 2016 and improved to 9-for-15 (with four seconds and a third) in her career. The daughter of Great Notion was bred by Houghton’s aunt Binnie, and raced for her Buckingham Farm. Binnie Houghton died in 2017 and left her horses to Wayne and Susie Chatfield-Taylor of Morgans Ford Farm.

• One race after Crabcakes, My Sistersledge repeated in the Ladies going 1 1/8 miles on the turf for owners/breeders John and Cheri Bannon and trainer Mike Trombetta. The 4-year-old filly dug in late to hold off 70-1 shot My Vixen by a neck.

• Veteran Talk Show Man, who won the Turf in 2014, broke through with a second score in the race for owner/breeder Mike Harrison and trainer Ham Smith. The son of Great Notion edge two-time Turf winner Phlash Phelps by a half-length.

• Tough sprinter Lewisfield blitzed six foes in the Sprint, winning by 8 3/4 lengths in 1:09.08 for Linda Zang and trainer Jeff Runco.

• Great Notion sired three winners while Tritap went 1-2-3-4 with his progeny in the Lassie for 2-year-old fillies. My Star Potential, bred by Cary Frommer, got the win for Euro Stable and trainer Claudio Gonzalez.

• Follow The Dog won the Nursery for 2-year-olds, repeating the victory by his half-brother Clever Mind the year before. Both are out of the Cozzene mare Who’s Cozy.

• Handle on the 12-race card topped $5.7 million, a 30-percent increase over 2017.


Breeders’ Cup slate is set

Pre-entries for the 14 Breeders’ Cup World Championships were taken Monday – but won’t be revealed until Wednesday – and the race order and post times were also announced.

Here’s the slate for Friday, Nov. 2 and Saturday, Nov. 3:

First post at 12:55 p.m. ET
Race 5: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, 3:21 p.m.
Race 6: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, 4 p.m.
Race 7: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, 4:40 p.m.
Race 8: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, 5:22 p.m.
Race 9: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, 6:05 p.m.

First post 10:45 a.m. ET
Race 3: Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, Noon
Race 4: Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, 12:38 p.m.
Race 5: Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, 1:16 p.m.
Race 6: Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, 2:04 p.m.
Race 7: Breeders’ Cup Sprint, 2:46 p.m.
Race 8: Breeders’ Cup Mile, 3:36 p.m.
Race 9: Breeders’ Cup Distaff, 4:16 p.m.
Race 10: Breeders’ Cup Turf, 4:56 p.m.
Race 11: Breeders’ Cup Classic, 5:44 p.m.