11/30/2009 6:15PM

Big weekend recap

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It was fitting that the mighty Zenyatta entered the winner's enclosure for the final time during the sport's last major racing weekend of 2009.

Zenyatta 
The big mare shows off her patented strut for the Governator (far left)
(Courtesy Benoit Photos)

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Kodiak Kowboy has been a steady, underrated performer throughout his career, and he quietly notched his third Grade 1 win of the season in the Hill 'n' Dale Cigar Mile contested around a one-turn mile at Aqueduct.  The son of crack sprinter Posse won the Saratoga Special, Bashford Manor, and Victoria Stakes at two, the Amsterdam and Sport Page at three, and he took the Carter and Vosburgh earlier this season.  
"Now he's going home to be a dad," said Tom Ludt, President of Vinery Stables, the co-owner of Kodiak Kowboy.  
"He is such a cool horse," exclaimed winning rider Shaun Bridgmohan.  "I had such a great trip.  I was just very patient with him, and when I asked him, he responded like the professional he's always been.  What a nice horse."
Even with the presence of speedsters Vineyard Haven and Go Go Shoot, the early pace was moderate for the Cigar, and Kodiak Kowboy and runnerup Bribon sat just behind the leaders. 
Bribon, the winner of the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont during the Spring, made the front turning for home, but may have hung just a bit in the final eighth of a mile.  
"He ran great," said Bribon's trainer, Robert Ribaudo.  "We were a little concerned because the track seemed to be putting up slow times, but the track didn't seem to bother him.  I certainly won't run him early in Gulfstream.  It depends how he comes back.  But we need him around for next year."
The favored Godolphin entry of Vineyard Haven and Pyro disappointed.  Trainer Saeed bin Suroor noted that Vineyard Haven "is not the same as we saw in his last two races.  I talked to Alan [Garcia] and he said he was struggling and when he went to ask him, there was nothing there.  I was disappointed with the result.  Pyro, he ran very well, he was traveling very well, but he did not finish his race."

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Ventura looked very, very good in winning the Grade 1 Matriarch over the Hollywood turf course.  After finshing an excellent second in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint three weeks ago despite the lack of early pace, Ventura's rider, Garrett Gomez, decided to put his star mare in the Matriarch a bit earlier.  Ventura found the perfect garden spot tracking pacesetter Tuscan Evening, and the result was really never in doubt.

Ventura a1 72 
Ventura streaks across the wire in the Matriarch (G1)
(Benoit Photo)

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Ventura's stablemate, Fluke, had been hinting at graded stakes potential, and the Brazilian finally put it all together in the Citation Handicap at 1 1/16 miles over the Hollywood turf course.  Ridden by the red-hot Joe Talamo, Fluke sat a nice ground-saving pace-tracking trip before overwhelming the pacesetters in the final furlong.

Fluke 
Fluke and Joe Talamo take the Citation (G1)
(Benoit Photo)

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Flashing returned to her best form switching back to dirt in the Grade 1 Gazelle at Belmont.  The winner of the seven-furlong Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga over the summer, Flashing stretched out to nine furlongs for the first time, and the daughter of A.P. Indy relished the extra distance.  Ridden craftily on the front end by veteran reinsman Richard Migliore, Flashing drew off to win in solid time.  Favored Stardom Bound disappointed in her first start off a long layoff, and first start on dirt. 
"When she gets to get comfortable and gets in a rhythm, she seems like she can run forever," said Migliore.  "I know everybody was a little concerned that she may go too quick, but she's really settled so well for me in the mornings.  As long as you don't get into a fight with her, she kind of tucks herself up and goes on like a little deer."
Trainer Suroor indicated that Flashing may run next season as a four-year-old.  Stardom Bound, on the other hand, never really rallied. 
"The seven horse [Peach Brew] broke into me at the start and she stumbled," said Stardom Bound's rider, Mike Smith.  "I took back, and she was fine going into the turn.  But she was so fresh, she wanted to make it up in a matter of jumps.  I tried to get her to settle.  If I had let her go on, she probably would have gotten second, but it would have been very grueling for her, coming off the layoff.  She'll improve from this race."

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The two-year-old stakes races in New York and Kentucky on Saturday didn't produce very fast results.  Nashua winner Buddy's Saint drew away from a short field in the Grade 2 Remsen, but enjoyed a good trip, and the final three-eighths was pretty slow.  Trained by Bruce Levine, Buddy's Saint has now finished first in all three lifetime starts (disqualified in his debut).  
"I thought he was quite impressive," said Levine.  "I thought he'd be closer to the lead, but he doesn't need it.  He's very versatile.  He's still learning.  I don't think you've seen the best of him yet.  He's a big horse, and I still think he has to grow into his frame...Believe me, I wouldn't trade places with anyone in America.  He'll go to Gulfstream Park for the winter."

The Demoiselle was a glorified 'n2L' allowance giftwrapped in Grade 2 paper.  Somebody had to win, and that somebody was Tizahit, the runner-up in the Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware two starts prior.  
"We'll probably give her a little bit of a breather," said winning trainer George Weaver.  "We were thinking that before this race, so I'm not gung ho to get her back in the entries right away."

Sassy Image and Decelerator gave a repeat 1-2 performance of Opening Day's Pocahontas Stakes in the Golden Rod at 1 1/16 miles for juvenile fillies.  Sassy Image has done nothing wrong in her last two races over the Churchill strip, but her Beyers are still light.  
Super Saver showed off his good early speed in a gate-to-wire Kentucky Jockey Club win for trainer Todd Pletcher, but the jury is still out on what he beat.

Bob Baffert arguably sent out the most impressive juvenile winner of the week with Conveyance, a son of Indian Charlie that ran his record to 2 for 2 after a six-furlong allowance romp.  Conveyance sold for $240,000 as a yearling, and is from the female family of crack sprinters Gold Case and Hadif.  It will be interesting to see how far he wants to go.

Blame continues to win for Al Stall Jr., and may turn out to be a leading older horse in 2010.  He handles synthetic as well as dirt surfaces, and he finished ahead of a pretty good field in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Friday.  Macho Again and Bullsbay don't seem right.  The former will head to New Orleans to prepare for a winter campaign while Bullsbay may get a break.  Etched didn't run very well at all.  It's interesting to note that the first four runners at the pace call (Anarko, Etched, Timber Reserve, Kiss the Kid) finished twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and tenth, respectively. 

(Horsemen quotes courtesy of NYRA Communications)
 
  
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Gonna change things up a little bit with the Beyer listing.  Instead of listing only stakes-winners, I'm going to show the top 25 winning Beyers of the week.  If I'm missing any stakes races, head on over to this link for more information:

http://www.drf.com/stakeresults/drfStakeResults.jsp

Here are the past performances for Kodiak Kowboy:

Download Kodiak Kowboy

Here are the winning Beyers for the other graded stakes races run this past week:

*Top Flight - Sara Louise - 91
*Generous - Who's Up - 90
*Miesque - The Mailet - 83
*Remsen - Buddy's Saint - 82
*Demoiselle - Tizahit - 81
*Golden Rod - Sassy Image - 77

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Dan,
I recently made my FIRST purchase of a racehorse.  It's not my dream horse, Marina Market - but it's close!  His name is Aqab, I purchased him at the Keeneland sale last week.  He's here in Colorado getting ready to be gelded this coming week.  I am bringing him to Fonner park to race this winter.   He was a 1.45 million dollar yearling and is actually very very sound.
Sam

Congratulations on your purchase!  Aqab may really improve after being gelded, and he deserves another chance being by Empire Maker out of Top Rung, a multiple Grade 2 winner.  Here's hoping you find the winner's circle soon.  We'll be rooting for you.

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Dan-Could you possibly get me the Beyers for That I Am from Sunday and Beware the Tiger from Nov. 21st? (Mike wants to get them to kind of figure out where to go next with these 2 horses)
Stephen Taylor

Congrats on That I Am's 57-1 win at Hawthorne on November 29.  He received a 57 Beyer Speed Figure.  Beware the Tiger earned a 62 Beyer from his 'n1x' win on November 21.

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Dan,
Could you please find out this minutiae about the horse of the years in this decade (Tiznow through Curlin)?
I would like to know what day of the year they broke their maiden and what were their odds in that race.  Thank you in advance Dan.
tencentcielo


2000:  Tiznow (May 31, 2000, 3rd start, 13-10 odds)
2001:  Point Given (August 26, 2000, 2nd start, 6-5 odds)
2002:  Azeri (November 1, 2001, 1st start, 17-1 odds)
2003:  Mineshaft (May 5, 2002, 2nd start, 9-2 odds)
2004:  Ghostzapper (November 16, 2002, 1st start, 11-1 odds)
2005:  Saint Liam (March 28, 2003, 2nd start, 8-5 odds)
2006:  Invasor (February 27, 2005, 1st start, 9-10 odds)
2007-2008:  Curlin (February 3, 2007, 1st start, 2-1 odds)

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Dan, I just have a general question I've always wondered about. Take the above average 5 year old horse with say 2 million in earnings, after trainer, jockey, vet, etc. etc. What is left pre tax in the owners pocket? Thanks Dan, I enjoy your blog. Joe
meanjoe

Joe, that's a good question, but I can barely add and subtract let alone get into accounting.  Perhaps one of the owners on the blog can help you out.

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could you please show pp's for Irish Tower
Mickey

Here's what I have on Irish Tower:

Download Irish Tower

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If you are able, I would love any info you have about the lifetime record of one of my favorite low-profile trainers of all time, Sue Alpers.
p ensign

Here are her statistics (1982-2001):

1199 starts, 172 wins, 164 seconds, 171 thirds, 14% winners, 42% ITM, $0.55 ROI, $4,879,947 in earnings

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Will wait for cayman01 to put up the official sign for the HandiGambling contest before I declare a winner.  Perhaps we'll do another race later in the week or over the weekend.

Talk to you soon,

Dan