The Monday Special – Feb. 19

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The Winter Olympics rolled into a second week and Presidents’ Day Weekend extended into Monday, coinciding with the fourth installment of The Monday Special to give our take on racing action from around the world.

We had writers at Fair Grounds and Laurel Park and they provided plenty of the quotes for this week’s always-popular Worth Repeating section that leads off.

Follow along and you’ll find the best and worst of The Saturday Special, By the Numbers and more.

One thing we didn’t include but were tempted to, was a note about Still Having Fun winning the Miracle Wood Stakes last week after a short feature posted late last week on this website. Hopefully that means there is no curse of TIHR.

Here’s your Monday recap for Feb. 19. Enjoy.


Star of the Week
When a rival trainer comments that “the winner did everything wrong and was impressive,” you know you’ve at least done something right.

Such was the case in Saturday’s Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra, won by Monomoy Girl in her first start of 2018 and her first outing in more than two months. Owned by the growing partnership of Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group, Bethlehem Stables and Sol Kumin, Monomoy Girl improved to 4-for-5 in the Rachel Alexandra. The 3-year-old daughter of Tapizar hit the gate and was last after the break. She settled after that, then commenced a rally while four- and three-wide around the far turn.

Monomoy Girl, whose only defeat came in the Grade 2 Golden Rod last November at Churchill Downs, took the lead in the lane and looked well on her the way to a professional victory when she ducked out a bit in midstretch. She straightened again from there and won by 2 1/2 lengths from Classy Act with Wonder Gadot third in the field of seven.

Trainer Brad Cox conceded he “wasn’t thinking good thoughts” after watching the break but later praised the filly.

“She showed us a lot,” he said. “Overcoming things, dirt in her face, passing horses, stuff like that. She’s becoming a big girl.”


Worth Repeating

“I didn’t even really know because I could not see and then I saw this horse flying.”
Trainer Jose Corrales, on what it was like watching (or trying to watch) Something Awesome win the General George in a snowstorm at Laurel Saturday

“I could go back and watch it three times and still not know what happened.”
Trainer John Servis, who had the same problem as Corrales, on watching Ms Locust point win the Barbara Fritchie

“It’s luck, believe me. No matter what anybody tells you, it’s luck.”
Owner Jim Reichenberg, after Ms Locust Point won the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Saturday

“I’m trying to think like I’m not cold.”
Trainer Mike Trombetta to a “What do you think?” in the paddock at Laurel Saturday

“Maybe next year we’ll call it a spring carnival.”
Laurel Park’s Sal Sinatra, hoping for better weather, in the winner’s circle during a snowstorm Saturday

“I bought it all last night.”
Saratoga Special graduate and current Fair Grounds notes writer Ryan Martin when asked about his sharp attire Saturday

“I still didn’t win it on the replay.”
Steve Asmussen as he walked away from a television monitor following Saturday’s Risen Star. The Asmussen-trained Snapper Sinclair lost the win photo by only a few inches

“I’m not sure, I think it might be the best Derby prep run so far.”
The Saratoga Special’s Ben Gowans when asked by a patron in the elevator who his Risen Star pick was minutes before the race

“Yeah, that’s who I like too.”
The same patron as the elevator doors opened

“Lots of things didn’t go right and he was still able to win.”
Mark Casse talking about Holding Gold following his victory in the Colonel Power Stakes

“I tried to warn the public but they didn’t listen.”
Daily Racing Form’s Marcus Hersh after 2017 Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin at Lee was last of five as the 6-5 favorite in his first run since last year’s Travers. Hersh did not include the heavy favorite in his top three selections

“It’s a lot easier this year with Gun Runner not being here.”
Owner/trainer C. R. Trout about running Shotgun Kowboy in the Grade 3 Razorback this year as opposed to another spot at Oaklawn Park

“Hell, he knows every grain of sand on the track.”
Hall of Fame trainer on lining up Miguel Mena, currently the leading jockey at Fair Grounds, to ride Bravazo in the Risen Star


Name of the Day

Wentz. The 3-year-old colt, third in the Miracle Wood at Laurel, is by Super Saver and named (we’ll assume) for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz – who helped the team get to the Super Bowl with an 11-2 start to the 2017 season.

Name of the Day (Part 2)

Jessica Krupnick. Sycamore Racing’s 5-year-old mare is named for the red-dress-wearing character, otherwise known as Jessica Rabbit, in the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? animated/live-action movie. The horse, a winner at Laurel last week, is out of Wear Red. Of course she is. 


Md. Racing Media Assoc. presents awards

He may be a New Jersey-bred, but Irish War Cry was named 2017 Maryland-based Horse of the Year by the Maryland Racing Media Association Saturday. Trained by the Fair Hill-based Graham Motion, Irish War Cry broke his maiden and won the Marylander Stakes at Laurel Park in late 2016, and went on to win two graded stakes as a 3-year-old – the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park and Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, while also placing second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. He was bred by his owner, Isabelle de Tomaso.

Also receiving awards from MRMA Saturday at Laurel:

  • Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club track photographer, received the organization’s Humphrey S. Finney Award for lifetime achievement in Maryland racing. McCue has been the track photographer at Maryland’s major tracks for nearly 50 years.
  • Sal Sinatra, Maryland Jockey Club president, received the Dale Austin Newsmaker Award. The award, named for the late Baltimore Sunracing reporter, honors those who have made big news in a given year. Sinatra has overseen dramatic improvements in the MJC’s facilities and racing product and substantial handle growth during his tenure in Maryland. In 2017, the MJC’s total handle exceeded $600 million for the first time in nearly a decade.
  • Lacey Gaudet, a Laurel Park-based trainer, received the Nancy Alberts Breakthrough Award, named for the late Maryland-based trainer who conditioned Magic Weisner to a stunning second in the 2002 Preakness and won 161 races in her training career. Gaudet, the daughter of late trainer Eddie Gaudet and Linda Gaudet, also a trainer, as well as the sister of racing analyst and television personality Gabby Gaudet, won a combined 53 races in 2016-‘17 after never having won more than 10 in a single season. She also won several stakes and nearly $1.5 million in purse earnings during the two years.

The Maryland Racing Media Association is the nation’s oldest state-level racing media organization, formed in 1937. In addition to presenting awards, it has for years sponsored a Thoroughbred industry scholarship program and was instrumental in founding the Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Fame.


By the Numbers

2: “Wooly draft horses” (we can’t say with 100 percent certainty) seen by TIHR’s Tom Law during a run in rural Vermont Friday, the only living souls seen the entire day.

4: Winners on Sunday’s card at Laurel for apprentice jockey Weston Hamilton. 

6: Winners on Sunday’s card at Aqueduct for Dylan Davis, including a run of five straight to start the card. None of Davis’ winners came aboard post-time favorites and he’s the first jockey to record a six-win day at a NYRA track since Javier Castellano on Nov. 9, 2013.

10: Times Streamline has finished in the money in 10 starts at Oaklawn Park in her career, the latest a victory in Saturday’s Grade 3 Bayakoa Stakes.

54: Points earned by Risen Star winner Bravazo toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby field. Calumet Farm’s colt is 30 points clear of co-seconds Good Magic and Firenze Fire.

54: Also the number of points for Rachel Alexandra winner Monomoy Girl toward a spot in the Kentucky Oaks field.


Best of The Saturday Special (double shot)

We wrote – Aqueduct. Race 3. 1:50. Early stakes on the card is $100,000 Haynesfield for older New York-breds. Only a half-dozen entered, including last year’s Korea Cup third Papa Shot, 2016 Albany and New York Derby winner Hit It Once More and slight 2-1 favorite Can You Diggit.

Hit It Once More turned back the clock and rolled to a front-end victory at 16-1 for Yellow Moon Stable and trainer Gary Sciacca.

We wrote – Aqueduct. Race 8. 4:25. Preservationist should win this 1-mile open allowance.

Hope you bet, Preservationist won by 4 lengths and paid $6.50. Not as much as Hit It Once More, but enough for a couple coffees.

Worst of The Saturday Special

We wrote – Fair Grounds. Race 9. 6:03. The first 50-point race toward a spot in the Kentucky Derby field is Grade 2 Risen Star, named for 1988 winner of the Preakness and Belmont. Check out his Belmont Stakes domination below. Instilled Regard is back from California after shipping once already to New Orleans and winning the Grade 3 Lecomte. He looks to duplicate International Star and Friesan Fire and win both. Standing in the way are nine others, including Lecomte second and third, Principe Guilherme and Snapper Sinclair, Noble Indy and longshot chance Givemeaminit.

Well, we managed to mention five of the nine runners in the key Kentucky Derby prep, but not the winner. Bravazo shipped in from Oaklawn sans D. Wayne Lukas (he stayed back in Hot Springs) and won at 21-1 to basically guarantee a spot in the Derby field. And here’s the Risen Star video again, in case you missed it the first time. 

Stable Tour archives

On Saturday, we wrote – “Ron Moquett was high on Lighthawk last summer at Saratoga. How high? Check out what he had to say in his Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour. Son of Tapit is one of two 3-year-olds trying older in 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight.”

Lighthawk wound up as the only 3-year-old and finished seventh, 18 3/4 lengths behind coupled stablemate Powerful Ally.