The Saturday Special – Jan. 8

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Two-for-two. Our second Saturday Special for 2022. As the editors (Saratoga, Fair Hill, Middleburg) wrestle with the recent snow, racing goes ahead around the world. Enjoy.

By the Numbers

254: Grand National fences jumped by recently retired Vieux Lion Rouge.

158: Days until Opening Day at Saratoga. Call/text/email about early advertising options in The Saratoga Special.  

1: Ranking of To Kill a Mockingbird’s in the “Best Book of the last 125 years” by the New York Times Book Review.

5: National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s live webcam series Foal Patrol. This year’s cast: Elate (in foal to Speightstown at Claiborne Farm, Paris, Ky.), Spanish Bunny (in foal to Uncle Mo at Gainesway Farm, Lexington, Ky.), Traveling Tiger (in foal to Audible at Safari North at Pauls Mill Farm, Versailles, Ky.), Repeta (in foal to Volatile at Three Chimneys Farm, Versailles, Ky.), and Floripa (in foal to Vekoma at Old Tavern Farm, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.). Check it out at

15: Percent increase to purses across the board at Fair Grounds, starting with the Jan. 13 card.

7.37: Average field size in U.S. races in 2021, down from 7.94 the previous year.

11.86: Percentage increase in wagering on U.S. races in 2021 compared to 2020.

35.77: Percentage increase in U.S. purses in 2021 ($1,180,853,677) compared to 2020 ($869,771,206).

17,403,204: Earnings in U.S. dollars for Godolphin in 2021, a North American record that topped the previous mark of $12.2 set in 2013 by Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Godolphin also topped the leading breeder’s list with $18,447,150, and the list of leading breeders that includes partners with $20,705,957.

31,832,345: Trainer Brad Cox’s North American purse earnings in 2021, a record that topped the $31.1 million set in 2019 by Chad Brown. When earnings from the Dubai World Cup and Saudi Cup are included Cox’s earnings for the year were $33,332,345.


Riverdee Stable Names of the Day

Bacchanalia. Sixth Race, Santa Anita. The 6-year-old mare is out of Crazy Party.

Her Name Is Lola. Fifth race, Tampa Bay Downs. We just like singing it.


Worth Repeating

“I am delighted with the old boy. He still has a big level of ability if the race is run to suit and today it was because they went like the clappers.”
Trainer David Barron about Venturous, 25-1 winner of the Betway Conditions Stakes at Newcastle last weekend

“I am excited to be a part of the TRF. As a strong supporter of aftercare, I am particularly interested in the liaison between the TRF and the correctional systems. It creates a world of opportunities for both equines and inmates to have hope for a better future.” 
Stephanie Brennan, recently elected to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation board of directors.

“Against an extraordinarily difficult backdrop, the resiliency of Thoroughbred racing was on full display in 2021 as we concluded the year with significant growth in purses and total handle of more than $12 billion, the highest since 2009.”
Tom Rooney, NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer


Thoroughbred Racing Calendar Plays of the Day

Cork. Race 2. 8:03. Ebasari makes his hurdle debut in a 27-full field. We liked him on the flat and he should relish the switch in codes. Watch the board.

Charles Town Races. Race 5. 9:02. Now, we know it’s a long limb we’re on when we’re touting a horse who ran a Beyer Speed Figure of 4 in her debut but we like Cookie Dunk Dunk on the stretch out.


Monte Man retires

We’ve kept tabs on Monte Man through the years, first because he appeared as an unraced 2-year-old in our Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour with John Terranova during the 2015 Saratoga meet and later because he turned into a winning machine in his native Louisiana.

Word came the other day that Monte Man was retired, following his victory in the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint (his second in that race from four attempts). The son of Custom For Carlos won 18 of 50 starts with eight seconds and nine thirds. Fourteen of the wins came from age 5 and up.

The publicity team at Fair Grounds wrote about Monte Man:

Fond farewell to fan favorite, barn favorite Monte Man

Over the last four years, one horse has been at the center of Louisiana racing and fans of the local sport – Ivery Sisters Racing’s Monte Man. His trainer and Fair Grounds’ 2021 title-winner, Ron Faucheux has announced that it is time for this 9-year old gelding to step away from the race track and to spend his retirement at Clear Creek Stud, where his sire Custom for Carlos stands.

“Val Murrel who owns Clear Creek, he bred Monte Man and is happy to take him in,” Faucheux said. “Clear Creek is the nicest farm in Louisiana–at this point, being a 9-year old, he’s been so great to us, we’d rather see him have a happy life from this point forward.”

Know that Monte Man is doing fine, but he did not come back from his Friday workout as hoped, giving connections pause about pursuing the plan of running in the Costa Rising Stakes, a race Monte Man won twice and finished 2nd in by a nose.

“He’s sound as can be,” Faucheux said. “Looks great, walks great, legs look good. He just has something a little feint. Something that some trainers would push through, but I’m not going to take any chances.”

Claimed for $25,000 by Ivery Sisters Racing in October of 2017, in his first start for trainer Ron Faucheux Monte Man won a local optional-claimer that December, which was the start of a seven-race winning streak. Monte Man went out in stakes-winning fashion, scoring the ninth and final stakes win of his career in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint on December 11, 2021.

“I was looking at the win pictures last night,” Faucheux said. “He’s beaten some great horses. He hasn’t run worse than fourth since the end of his 4-year old career. Goes to show you how much heart that horse has. He might not run the best numbers as some of the Kentucky sprinters floating around the country, but he has been so consistent throughout the process. That’s all you can ask–they run to their ability.”

All told, Monte Man finishes his career 50-18-8-9 with earnings of $794,223.

“I feel honored to have trained him throughout that process,” Faucheux said. “He’s been a barn favorite, a fan favorite, a special horse–you could hear it in John Dooley’s emotional call of his last race.”

“Here comes the gladiator, Monte Man with that battler’s heart for Adam Beschizza. Monte Man now an 18-time winner–well done Monte Man!” — John G. Dooley, Fair Grounds Track Announcer


Now for the Races…

Sandown. Race 1. 7:05 a.m. The British juveniles look to be squarely in the shadow of the Irish juveniles. Perhaps, one steps out of the opener.

Sandown. Race 2. 7:40. The only thing that seems to have changed since the Irish drubbing of the British at Cheltenham last year is that the Irish are making more trips across the sea earlier in the season. Willie Mullins should win the listed mares’ hurdle with Gauloise.

Equine Forum. HRRN. 8:00. Listen to the show that started a network. Mike Penna brings you everyone from Eclipse Award winner Sandra McKee (our favorite) to Sam Houston Race Park announcer Nick Tammaro.

Sandown. Race 5. 9:25. The Grade 1 Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle pits 14-length winner Constitution Hill against five overmatched rivals.

Sandown. Race 6. 10:00. Should America consider veterans’ races? Britain instituted veterans’ chases a while back, they sure work. Today’s $137,000 version offers opportunity to the likes of old friends Aso, Sir Ivan, Wandrin Star, Final Nudge, The Kings Writ, Gwencily Berbas, Dashing Perk, Prime Venture, Rolling Dylan, Psychedelic Rock, Valadom, Indy Five and Dancing Shadow. Veterans? They’ve combined to make 427 starts.

Wincanton. Race 7. 10:15. A 150 handicap chase anchors the card at Wincanton, a picturesque track near Bradford-on-Avon. Stolen Silver tries to continue the ascent of trainer Sam Thomas. Denman’s jockey has enjoyed a stellar season thus far.

Kempton. Race 5. 1:45 p.m. Five-time winner Lord Of The Lodge clashes with Edraak, a £13,000 purchase by Mick Appleby back in January 2020. The 6-year-old climbed from a one-start maiden that day to a 105-rated stalwart.

Gulfstream Park. Race 5. 1:57. Dean’s List might not quite be ready for that just yet but he’s on his way. Son of Speightstown romped in debut Dec. 11 and takes on winners for the first time here for Todd Pletcher.

Gulfstream. Race 7. 3:05. Whisper Hill Farm homebred Charge It, son of Tapit out of the one-time $2.2 million yearling I’ll Take Charge, makes debut in 1-mile maiden for Todd Pletcher. He’s joined by stablemate Calipari, named for the Kentucky coach who will be in Athens when the Wildcats take on the Georgia Bulldogs at 6 p.m.

Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:37. One of our favorites, Largent, makes his return in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf. Named for the Seattle Seahawks legendary wide receiver, 6-year-old son of Into Mischief hasn’t been out since finishing second by a neck in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf last January. He likes Gulfstream and will be tough off the bench.

Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:50. Rematch time. Lobsta and My Boy Tate, 1-2 last time in the NYSS Thunder Rumble, meet again in the $100,000 Say Florida Sandy.

Oaklawn Park. Race 8. 4:46. Coach, ninth in last year’s Kentucky Oaks, returned from layoff to win going two turns last time and returns to stakes company here in $150,000 Pippin at 1 mile. She breaks from the rail in field of seven that also includes Miss Bigly, placed in her last two in graded stakes, Iowa Distaff winner Josie and My Charmer winner Breeze Rider “She was just a horse that we had run a lot, her 2-year-old season and then throughout her 3-year-old season, trying to get her into the Oaks,” Coach’s trainer Brad Cox told the Oaklawn publicity team. “We got her to the Oaks. She just needed a break and she got it.”

Santa Anita Park. Race 8. 7:06. The serious road to the Santa Anita Oaks and possibly the Kentucky Oaks gets rolling with the Grade 2 Santa Ynez. Big Switch ventures out of the Cal-bred ranks for the first time in 7-furlong feature and meets the open stakes-placed duo of Under The Stars and Awake At Midnyte and stakes winner Mimajoon.

Turfway Park. Race 6. 8:46. The Turfway Prevue offers a sprint stakes for recently-turned 3-year-olds. Nobals, a Dr. John A. Chandler-bred son of Noble Mission, looks like a lock for Larry Rivelli.

Charles Town Races. Race 5. 9:02. Bet Cookie Dunk Dunk and enjoy a Saturday night on us.

Charles Town. Race 8. 10:32. Run To Daylight drops back to local allowance company after trying Maryland stakes in his two most recent starts. The Jeff Runco trainee is 3-for-3 at home. We checked in with Runco after the son of Runhappy won his third straight. “You can see why I bought him. He’s a big, strong, powerful colt. A beautiful horse. He overcame something I wasn’t sure he was going to, when he got off bad, you never know if they’re going to stretch out the way you want, he proved himself that night, getting off bad and coming off the pace and won pretty nicely. He’s a nice, big, strong colt.”

And a Sunday bonus.

Fairyhouse. Race 7. 10:50. Pennsylvanian Ms. Virginia Korrell makes her Irish debut aboard Plains Indian for trainer Andrew Slattery in the Racing Again January 15th (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race. The 6-year-old returns from a 487-day layoff and is 10-1 in early betting. Good luck, Virginia!