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Michael McCarthy is thinking about traveling from his Del Mar base to Keeneland when Rushie makes an expected start in next Saturday’s Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. 

 “I feel OK about it, but it’s going to be a game-day decision,” McCarthy said. “You know why I feel OK about it? Because I’ve already had this stuff.”

Yeah, McCarthy has counted the days since coming down with Covid-19. 

“Today is Day 30. I’m very grateful that my symptoms were somewhat mild and fairly swift. They came and went,” the trainer said. “I was a little bit leery when they told me I was positive because I had some headaches for a few days, had some vision issues. After the vision issues, I had some cramping and dehydration. I was surprised I tested positive. I actually thought I had something serious, something physiological going on in between my ears, headaches, can’t see…”

A chronic asthmatic, McCarthy self-quarantined for 21 days, staying away from his wife, his daughter and his Santa Anita barn.

“I missed three weeks of work, I never missed three days in my life,” McCarthy said. “Never had any breathing symptoms, never had a temperature, never had a cough, nothing like that. Very lucky. Very lucky. People are losing their lives, people are losing quality of life so I’m obviously very grateful to be up and going back about my business.”

Advice?

“Fluids. Rest. Keeping yourself busy. Just keep paying attention to your own body, what your symptoms are, what you’re feeling,” McCarthy said. “Touch wood my family is good. As I said, very lucky. Very lucky.”

Since going out on his own after serving as Todd Pletcher’s assistant, McCarthy has gradually improved each season, producing 24 wins for $5.3 million in 2019. This season, he’s won 22 races from 101 starts for $1.6 million.

Making his Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour debut, McCarthy read through his training chart with The Special’s Sean Clancy Friday afternoon. 

Ce Ce: Bo Hirsch’s homebred daughter of Elusive Quality jumped into her season with an allowance score at Santa Anita before winning the Grade 1 Beholder and Apple Blossom. She finished third in the Grade 2 Santa Maria May 31. She breezed for the first time since that run June 25. 

“She’s training forwardly for the Clement L. Hirsch, named after the owner’s father. She’s been very good, very good. She was a little bit unlucky for the Santa Maria, some strange circumstances, I thought she had trained as good as I had seen her train before the Santa Maria. Got hung up waiting for a John Shirreffs horse to get to the starting gate, it delayed the race eight minutes, she just seemed to fall asleep a bit in the post parade. All eyes are set on this race down here. We have some options in the fall, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint or the Distaff. She likes a firm surface, she likes a hard and fast dirt track, when she won the Beholder, we had rain all week and that track was as good as it’s been all year. My gut was that we would get the same type of track at Oaklawn, we got exactly that and she was golden. The racetracks in California have become a little bit deep, a little bit loose, being a big mare, she likes the top of the ground. I would be very bullish when she gets back to Kentucky in the fall.”

Rushie: Owned by Jim and Donna Daniell, the Florida-bred colt has won two of five starts and finished third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby June 6. 

“Scheduled to make his next start in the Blue Grass Stakes. He would ship July 7. He’ll be ridden by Javier Castellano. He’s doing very well. I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen since the Santa Anita Derby. He seems like he’s getting better with racing. I’m excited to see what he can do being out of a Colonel John mare, see how much bottom there is, his Santa Anita Derby was good, going against some heavy heads, coming out of an allowance race at Oaklawn Park. Some of these longer races into the latter part of the summer might have his name written on them. He’s not Triple Crown nominated at the moment, we’ll let him earn his way there. The Blue Grass will tell us a lot.”

Sanenus: Owned and bred by Haras Matriarca, the daughter of Scat Daddy won the Group 1 Tanteo de Potrancas in Chile. 

“Worked an easy 5 furlongs the other day, due to make a start somewhere at Del Mar. Out of conditions. She’s run well on both surfaces. We’ll try to keep her healthy, find some spots and try to have some fun. I don’t know how good she is yet. Ramiro Restrepo was nice enough to refer me. They have quite a presence in Chile and are nice people to train for.”

Speech: Never worse than third in six starts, the Florida-bred filly finished second in the Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks June 6. Rides a streak of four seconds into Keeneland. 

“Going to go ahead and turn back in distance for the Beaumont. Shows up and runs hard every time, very talented daughter of Mr. Speaker. Loves to run, loves to train. Any trainer would like a barn full of these.”

Sweet Devil: Daughter of Daredevil has made three career starts, including a third at Santa Anita in February. 

“This filly is actually pretty darn nice. I ran her on the dirt because she trained well on the dirt, big mistake. Back to the turf July 11.”

Cono: Consistent 5-year-old gelding by California sire Lucky Pulpit has recorded three wins in 21 starts for John and Diane Fradkin. 

“Look for a Cal-bred stakes at the latter part of the meet.”

Smooth Like Strait: Bred and owned by Cannon Thoroughbreds, the son of Midnight Lute shipped to Churchill Downs to take the War Chant Stakes June 23. 

“Looking for an August 9 date in the La Jolla, straight 3-year-olds going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. Loved everything about his win in the War Chant. I’m hoping to use this race at Del Mar as a springboard to the Del Mar Derby or whatever they have on Kentucky Derby Weekend. He’s a very nice horse, I really like this horse. I thought about Keeneland, but I started thinking about Churchill as well, the timing is better. I had had aspirations about possibly participating in the 3-year-old stakes Derby Week when the Derby was to be held in May and then Royal Ascot. After the War Chant, you could hardly blame me for thinking that way. I do think he’s got graded type wins in his future.”

Ohio: Brazilian-bred 9-year-old was claimed for $50,000 in June 2018 and has since won three stakes, including the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Bruce Treitman. 

“He’s getting the summer off and will aim at a three-peat in the Cotton Fitzsimmons Handicap at Turf Paradise. Wonderful horse, you couldn’t ask for a better horse. I trust that horse with my life. Nicole Diodoro, who used to get on him, she’s retired from galloping now, she said, ‘I fully expect for him to one day turn around and start talking to me.’ ”

Avalanche: Claimed from John Sadler, the 6-year-old Virginia-bred finished sixth in Grade 3 San Juan Capistrano going 1 3/4 miles. 

“First back off the claim, I thought he ran very respectable at a distance that is out of sorts for basically all Thoroughbreds in America. We’ll look to bring him back in the starter allowance early in the meet. He got pretty tired, you could tell he was out of sorts for a couple of days. He’s a versatile, nice old horse.”

Canyon Crest: Richard Barton’s homebred two-time winner finished sixth in the Snow Chief June 20. 

“Getting the summer off. Stopped to a halt here in his last start, he’ll get the summer off and grow up.”

  

Brown Storm: Four-time winning Chilean-bred son of Scat Daddy has been swimming in the deep end, trying five stakes, including fourths in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup. 

“I’m looking to find an allowance race for him somewhere in the middle of the meet. He’s run against the heavy heads every time, looking for a little class relief. He’s a cool horse, the Chilean horses do everything hard, they train hard, they run hard. They had a race at Santa Anita called the Tokyo City, which is a mile and a half on the dirt, that would have hit him right between the eyes. Covid-19 put a halt to that. He might be a Breeders’ Cup Marathon horse.”

Seven Charms: Son of Cairo Prince worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.40 at Del Mar Friday. 

“Three-year-old maiden should start in a mile maiden special sometime toward the early part of the meet at Del Mar. Owned by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr. He’s certainly going to be useful, he’s going to be grass. For me, I just need horses to run and win, as long as I can pay the feed man, pay my payroll, put some dinner on my plate, pay for my kid’s tuition, we’re good, but he definitely looks and acts like a turf horse.”

The Stiff: Part-owned by McCarthy, the 3-year-old Danza gelding finished sixth in Grade 3 Jeff Ruby at Turfway Park and sixth in an allowance at Santa Anita May 23. 

“The big horse. He’ll run July 11, I’d like to get him back to the dirt at some point. Straight 3-year-old allowance races are few and far between here.”

Hootie: Veteran of 23 starts, finished fourth in a starter optional claimer June 20. 

“Unlucky last out, we didn’t get the trip we were looking for, hard-knocking old claimer, more talent than brains.”

Dolci: Daughter of Quality Road posted two sevenths and a fourth in three tries. 

“She will run here on the 11th, maiden special. She should improve on the turf.”

Inch: Cannon Thoroughbred’s homebred 3-year-old Violence colt placed fifth and fourth in two starts against maidens at Santa Anita. 

“Will run in a maiden special weight going a mile after two sprints on the turf. First two starts were OK, unlucky in his first start, drawn wide the other day and still ran well.”

Uncle Addouma: A $145,000 purchase by Jacob West at 2019 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May 2-year-old sale, son of Uncle Mo has finished fourth in two starts. 

“Jumped up and down here in his last start, getting beat by Uncle Chuck, who runs in the Los Alamitos Derby. Will make his next start in a maiden special on the turf. So far, his first two starts are not indicative of how he’s trained in the mornings.”

Friar’s Road: Son of Quality Road finished second twice before finishing sixth in Santa Anita Derby. 

“He is a true staying type, he’ll run as far as they write races, we’ll get him back for a maiden. We write four types of races in California, 6 furlongs on the dirt, a mile on the dirt, five-eighths or 5 1/2 on the turf or a mile on the turf. It’s unfortunate for some of these horses with stouter, more stamina-based pedigrees. That extra eighth of a mile makes all the difference to them. I welcome those mile and an eighth races.”

Sutro: A graduate of the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May 2-year-old sale, the daughter of Violence won starter optional claimer June 5. 

“She will run a mile-and-three-eighths on July 17. Again, another filly who is pace and trip dependent, probably better suited to races at a mile and an eighth or farther. She will like that spot.”

Lofty: Bred and owned by Red Baron’s Barn, the daughter of Suances owns three wins from seven starts. “Reeled off three straight. Coming off two seconds against open company. Looking at Cal-bred sprint stakes with her later this summer and into the fall.”

 Nurturing: Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ and Bruce Treitman’s 2-year-old daughter of Violence has posted two breezes. 

“Worked her a nice three-eighths this morning, look for her in the latter part of the meet.”

Rombauer: John and Diane Fradkin’s homebred 2-year-old Twirling Candy colt posted his first breeze at Del Mar July 3. 

“Has trained forwardly, was unfortunate, came up with a little bit of a foot bruise at Santa Anita, will run either 5 1/2 on the turf or a mile on the turf at Del Mar. Looks like he could be useful early.”

Eagle In The Sky: Purchased at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Santa Anita fall yearling sale, the California-bred Sky Mesa colt finished second in his debut June 5. 

“He was a very good second first time. I look forward to making some noise early in the meet and later on in the meet in Cal-bred 2-year-old stakes. He was probably one or two (works) short for his debut.”

Woke Up To Aces: Owned by Andrew, Rania and Suzanne Warren, the 3-year-old daughter of The Factor won her second career start March 7. 

“Broke her maiden impressively with Tyler Gaffalione at Santa Anita during the big meet. She had one or two setbacks but is training forwardly now. She should be running toward the latter part of the meet.”

La Buena Vida: Daughter of Gemologist won five of eight starts, including two Group 1 stakes, in Chile. 

“We’ve had her about 45 days. She hasn’t worked yet, we are getting to know her, she’s more geared to the fall.” 

Unnamed 2-year-old filly (Nyquist-Appreciating): Purchased for $360,000 by Jacob West’s West Bloodstock at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale. 

“Worked her second half-mile today. Acts somewhat precocious for a May foal, looking for a start in the middle of the meet at Del Mar. She’d be one of the early ones.”

Unnamed 2-year-old filly (Nyquist-Sweet Relish): Another buy for West Bloodstock, for $120,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale. 

“Another nice Nyquist filly. She was three-eighths fit but I had to stop on her. She’s going to be nice when the time comes. Jacob West bought her for Andrew, Rania and Suzanne Warren.”

City Of Light: The one and only big horse. The four-time Grade 1 winner retired to Lane’s End after winning the 2019 Pegasus World Cup and 2018 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Asked how often he thinks about the $5.6 million earner, McCarthy paused long and hard. 

“I think of him every time I pull into the driveway, every time I sit in my car, every time I walk into my shedrow. It’s hard not to think about a horse like that who has done so much for you, helped put a new roof over your head, that kind of stuff. You try not to dwell on those types of things, but you are wondering when the next one is going to show up. We keep banging some races out and chances are one is going to show up sooner or later.”

Check out our story about McCarthy and City Of Light after the 2019 Pegasus.

 

Download the July 4 edition of The 2020 Special