Here & There – Sept. 25

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The penultimate weekend of September saw the end of the hugely successful Keeneland September yearling sale, the unofficial start to Breeders’ Cup season and primed the pump for some bigger events down the road.

All eyes were on Parx Racing Saturday for its loaded card topped by the pair of Grade 1 $1 million stakes with the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion. The Cotillion earned the lion’s share of headlines and buzz – pre-race and post-race – with Monomoy Girl, Midnight Bisou and Wonder Gadot in the field.

Monomoy Girl crossed the finish first then saw her number taken down following a jockey’s objection and stewards inquiry after she took a less-than-straight path through the lane. Midnight Bisou and Mike Smith were elevated to first with Monomoy Girl and Florent Geroux placed second in what goes down as her first defeat in six starts in 2018.

Smith added a second seven-figure tally a half hour later when he rode McKinzie, a son of Street Sense that Bob Baffert called his top Kentucky Derby contender last winter, to a 1 3/4-length win over Axelrod in the Pennsylvania Derby.

Laurel Park rolled out the rescheduled Fall Festival card – topped by the Grade 3 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash – and This Is Horse Racing’s Joe Clancy made the short trip down from ST headquarters for the action. Check out his report on Saturday’s races here

 

Steeplechase Recap

The 2018 National Steeplechase Association season rolled into its final third last week with a pair of stakes at Belmont Park and a six-race High Hope Steeplechase card at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

The High Hope card featured split divisions of the Oxmoor Steeplechase ratings handicap – run back-to-back going 2 3/8 miles – and a $30,000 maiden hurdle.

Woodslane Farm’s Pik Em and Flying Elvis Stable’s Wild Dynaformer won their respective handicap hurdle races. Pik Em, a 4-year-old son of Tapit off since winning at Radnor in May, handled the soft going to win by 5 lengths under Sean McDermott. A $350,000 yearling buy at the 2015 Keeneland September sale, Pik Em made the transition to jumps last spring for trainer Jack Fisher.

Wild Dynaformer, a maiden winner over jumps at the Middleburg Spring Races in April 2017, dominated in his second victory over hurdles. The 6-year-old son of Dynaformer won by 12 1/4 lengths over Perfect Union under Bernie Dalton for trainer Kate Dalton.

Ballybristol Farm’s Alshibaa, close in four of his five starts over hurdles, landed in the winner’s circle taking the 2 1/8-mile maiden by 1 1/4 lengths over Motivational. Ridden by Kieran Norris for trainer Leslie Young, Alshibaa improved to 1-2-0 in six starts.

Ricky Hendriks added another victory to his season-leading tally in the opener, sending out Rosbrian Farm’s Specialeyes to a 6-length victory in the 2 1/8-mile maiden claimer. Ross Geraghty rode the winner, a 5-year-old Louisiana-bred by Kitten’s Joy making his second start over jumps.

Hendriks heads into this weekend’s meeting at Shawan Downs with 14 wins and purses of $651,750. Rosbrian also leads the owner standings with $507,450 in purses through Sept. 24.

The other winners on the High Hope card were Thomas Hulfish III’s Formidable Heart in the $20,000 allowance timber under Darren Nagle for trainer Neil Morris and first-time starter You’re No Better in the Ned Bonnie Challenge Cup training flat under Eric Poretz for owner-trainer Stephanie Moore.

The ST handicappers didn’t fare great as Joe led the way with a pair of winners – Alshibaa and Formidable Heart. Sean picked Formidable Heart and Tom took the donut. The tally for the autumn season stands with Joe in front with those two winners and Sean and Tom one back. 

 

Real Rider Cup

Heated competition wasn’t restricted to the racetrack last weekend as 16 brave souls contested the second annual Real Rider Cup at the Plantation Field International Horse Trials in Unionville, Pa.

Teams of owners, trainers, exercise riders and racing analysts competed against each other and the clock, navigating a course of jumps, aboard a retired racehorse. Designed to determine who the “real riders are,” the Real Rider Cup raised money for the Retired Racehorse Project and Plantation Field International Horse Trials, both 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.

The exercise riders team of Sharon Wyatt Dominguez, Lorna Chavez, Jodi Murphy and Paddy Young took home top honors in the team competition while leading steeplechase trainer Jack Fisher, a member of the trainer’s team, won individual honors.

Read more about the competition here and check out Herringswell Stable’s video below. (Editor’s note: If you listen close you’ll hear ST Publishing’s Joe Clancy handling emcee duties.)

Worth Repeating

“Covfefe trumped the competition. She. Ran. Huge.”
Churchill Downs’ announcer Travis Stone – a former staffer at The Saratoga Special – calling LNJ Foxwoods’ cleverly named Into Mischief filly’s debut victory Sept. 16

“This one was for The Player.”
Trainer Buff Bradley after Divine Queen won the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs at odds of 51-1. Bradley and his team brought The Player, who suffered a near-fatal injury in March, home last week to his farm in Kentucky after he recovered from surgery at Louisiana State University.

 

By the Numbers

27: Yearlings that sold for $1 million or more at the Keeneland September sale, up from 13 a year ago.

$1,000: Top prize for the winner of the Ron Rippey Handicapping Media Award.

$150,000: Stud fee for Triple Crown winner Justify for his first season in 2019 at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud.

$2.4 million: Price paid by Coolmore’s M. V. Magnier for sale-topping colt by War Front out of the Grade 1-winning Smart Strike mare Streaming at Keeneland September.

$377,130,400: Total receipts for 2916 horses at Keeneland September sale, a record average price of $129,331 and median of $50,000.

 

Twitter exchange of the weekend

Everyone did their best impression of a comedian – spoiler alert, most were terrible – after Whereshetoldmetogo savaged Firenze Fire in deep stretch of the Grade 3 Gallant Bob at Parx. We did enjoy this simple exchange:

@westpointtbred: “If you can’t beat ‘em BITE ‘EM!!!”
@CloudStable: “Well said. Congrats Firenze Fire but we were a tooth short.”