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Favorite totes 148 and finishes last
Most trainers try to find races in which their horses carry the least amount of weight. But in last Sunday's ninth race at Thistledown, trainer Burton Sipp entered Magoo's Magic for a $12,500 claiming tag and accepted 148 pounds.
The 4 1/2-furlong race had a base claiming price of $3,500, with older horses to carry 112 pounds. Trainers had the option of deciding what price their horse would run for but would receive an extra two pounds for each $500 in claiming price. In his previous start, Magoo's Magic was second at Mountaineer Park after setting the pace in a $15,000 claiming race for horses who had never won four races.
"I had entered the horse three times at Thistledown, but the races did not fill," said Sipp. "He is a very fast horse, and I have him valued at $12,500. I felt that if he caught a field of $3,500 and $5,000 horses, he could handle them despite the heavy package."
Sipp was not alone in his thinking. Bettors made Magoo's Magic, the stronger half of an entry, the 1-2 favorite in the field of seven. Magoo's Magic finished last, however, beaten 11 1/2 lengths. His stablemate, Soldier's Cutlass, finished fifth for a $6,500 claiming price under 124 pounds. No other horse was entered for more than a $5,000 claiming price. Anne Sanguinetti, who rode Magoo's Magic, tacks 112, which means Magoo's Magic carried 36 pounds of lead in his saddle pad.
Sanguinetti, who came from Suffolk Downs to ride first call on Sipp's 40 horses at Thistledown, rode Magoo's Magic, who is owned by Bridgette Sipp.
"It was an interesting experiment that didn't work out the way we wanted." Sanguinetti said. "I was curious as to what would transpire. I can't really say that the weight stopped him. He broke sharply, but before a quarter I knew he wasn't going to keep up and didn't abuse him the rest of the way."
Sipp's unorthodox decision to have Magoo's Magic carry so much weight, and spot his opposition from 24 to 36 pounds, is the latest oddity in his checkered career. Sipp, 62, was banned from racing for nine years, from 1984 to 1993, after he was indicted for fraud by a New Jersey grand jury for allegedly destroying horses for the purpose of collecting insurance claims. Sipp eventually pleaded guilty to witness tampering in the case and was sentenced to five years probation.
Since his return to racing, Sipp has been barred from a number of tracks, including River Downs in 1994 after he failed to disclose his prior suspension on his trainer's license application.
Sipp purchased Magoo's Magic from trainer Patrick Biancone at Turfway Park this winter and had started him four times before Sunday. Magoo's Magic brought $110,000 at the Keeneland September sale in 2003.
Canterbury Park will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the Dean Kutz Memorial Chapel on Saturday. A fundraising drive for the new facility was started last summer and the project has received generous support from the family of Canterbury Park chairman Curtis Sampson. The 3,000-square-foot facility is named after the late Dean Kutz, the leading rider at Canterbury Park in 1987 and 1988, who later in his career was lauded by his colleagues with the George Woolf Memorial and Mike Venezia awards.
* Canterbury Park will experiment with a 4 p.m. post time on Saturdays in July. The track is hoping to gain additional support for its simulcast signal and hopes the change in post time will help draw additional attention to the Claiming Crown, which is scheduled for July 15. Canterbury Park will also have a 4 p.m. post for its Monday racecard, which will also feature the track's first fireworks show following the races.
- David M. Miller
Princess Paster left little doubt that she is one of the leading locally based mares when she scored an 8 1/2-length triumph in the $19,600 Table the Motion Handicap last Saturday. The co-highweight at 121 pounds, Princess Paster took control approaching the far turn and was never seriously challenged. Ridden by Argelio Velazquez, Princess Paster paid $7.20 as the second choice in the field of six.
* King of Chicago, a close second in the Claiming Crown Iron Horse last year at Canterbury, notched his first win in nearly 11 months when he captured a conditioned $3,200 claimer in last Friday's nightcap. The win was King of Chicago's first since being claimed for $5,000 by trainer Brent Sanders at Hoosier Park last September.
Though not among the top five leading trainers at Fairmount by wins, Sanders nonetheless is enjoying an outstanding meet. Through Tuesday's program, Sanders had trained 16 winners from 57 starters, a win rate of 28 percent.
King of Chicago was one of seven winners ridden by Rafael Hernandez over the Friday and Saturday programs. Hernandez continues to coast along toward the jockey title and was 27 wins ahead of Danesh Sukie through Tuesday. Hernandez took off his mounts Tuesday, but was named to ride eight races Friday.
- Vance Hanson
Until this week, only two Finger Lakes-based jockeys had ever won 3,000 races in their career. Paul Nicol Jr. expanded the short list when he rode three winners on Tuesday's card at Finger Lakes to bring his career total to 3,001.
Nicol, 45, reached the milestone aboard Passing Ships in the fourth race. Appropriately, Passing Ships is trained by Edward Perdue. Nicol and Perdue have combined for 124 lifetime victories, including three stakes, most prominently the $150,000 New York Breeders' Futurity with Background Artist in 1993.
Leslie Hulet and Kevin Whitley are the only other Finger Lakes regulars to ride more than 3,000 winners.
During his 25 years as a jockey, Nicol has won 64 stakes, and all but four came at Finger Lakes. Of his 3,001 victories, 1,785 have come at Finger Lakes.
After missing most of last season with broken vertebrae, Nicol has come back strong and stands second in the rider standings with 50 wins.
* Carlow, the 124-pound highweight, is considered likely for Sunday's $50,000 Arctic Queen Handicap. The six-furlong race is restricted to New York-bred fillies and mares.
A 4-year-old filly trained by Karl Grusmark, Carlow has won three stakes locally the past two seasons, including the Susan B. Anthony in her lone start of 2006, on May 29.
- Joe DeVivo
Great Lakes Downs
Freddie Mata, a crowd favorite at Great Lakes Downs, returns to the track Saturday after recovering from a riding mishap, according to his agent, Frank Garoufalis. In February, Mata, a native of Mexico, broke his leg when his mount went over the rail at Tampa Bay Downs. Mata won the riding championship here in 2000 and has finished second several times.
Mata's first day back, appropriately enough, is also Jockeys Across America Day. The track will host several fund-raising efforts, including a silent auction of racing memorabilia and dinners with jockeys, a jockeys' foot race, and giveaways.
* Trainer Ross Russell, 23, saddled his first winner Tuesday evening, when Open Journey led all the way for a 2 3/4-length win under apprentice Jareth Loveberry. Russell, the son of trainer Randy Russell, is in his second year of veterinary school at Michigan State University. He oversaw his father's string of runners last year, when the elder Russell broke his leg in a paddock accident.
Loveberry, 18, had a riding double on the card, winning the third race aboard Stellaspeed, who is trained by Randy Russell. Loveberry is fourth in the local standings with 23 wins.
* Terry Houghton, the runaway leader with 51 wins at the meet, had four winners Tuesday. He won the early daily double for trainer Robert Gorham with Lofty Flare ($9.20) and Rockem S'more ($4.20). Houghton also won aboard Paris Passport ($4.40) in the sixth for leading trainer Gerald Bennett and aboard Do the Impossible ($22.40) in the seventh race for Gorham.
- C.A. Shoemaker
Defending champion My Sweet Sug ($7.40) stalked the pace to the stretch and drew off to score a five-length win over Free Bonus in Tuesday's $40,000 Florence Henderson for Indiana-bred fillies and mares at Indiana Downs.
Under jockey Bill Troilo, My Sweet Sug covered the 1 1/16 miles over the firm turf course in 1:46.63. Free Bonus, who set the pace, finished second, 4 1/2 lengths clear of President's Woman. Whatsitgonnatake, the 6-5 favorite, chased Free Bonus to the stretch before tiring to finish last in the 12-horse field.
Brian Waltz trains My Sweet Sug, who won for the seventh time in 14 career starts, including four stakes.
- Dave Basler
A five-day weekend of racing brings Lincoln into the stretch of its 37-day meet with a pair of stakes, the finale of the HBPA Marathon Series, and festivities to benefit the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund. The meet closes July 16.
MacBeth Fund activities are slated for this Saturday as part of Jockeys Across America Day. Lincoln's traditional jockey foot race has been replaced by the jockeys' kids foot race this year, with children of the rider colony competing.
Trainer Kelli Martinez, a coordinator for the festivities, has amassed a wide variety of goods and services for a charity auction held during the races, including tack- and equine-related items as well as gift certificates from local merchants. There will also be a bake sale in the grandstand and a dunk tank on the apron.
Nebraska-bred 2-year-olds will take center stage on Sunday in the first stakes offering of the year for juveniles in the state.
Following Monday's 6 p.m. Central card, the weekend closes with Tuesday's holiday card, which features the 1 5/8-mile HBPA Marathon Series and the State Fair Board Handicap for older horses at a mile and 70 yards. Hez Comin Thru, the meet's only three-time winner, was assigned 123 pounds from the list of 12 nominations. In his last start, Hez Comin Thru won the six-furlong President's Cup Handicap here June 18.
Defending champ R.D. Williams and Yuri Yaranga have been neck and neck atop the jockey standings throughout the meet. Yaranga holds a 45-42 edge. Dennis Collins and Larren Delorme have slipped into contention with 36 and 31 wins.
- Bill Hodtwalker
Parthenope, a 5-year-old mare by K.O. Punch, has become one of the surprise success stories of the Ohio racing season this year. Off the board in her first three starts this year, including a $5,000 claimer in her season debut at Turfway, Parthenope has since become a stakes winner.
The highlight of Parthenope's season was her victory in the $50,000 Angenora Stakes at Beulah in April, when she defeated Just Michel, the 2005 Ohio champion older mare. Because of limited stakes opportunities for statebred female sprinters, Parthenope ordinarily would have had to settle for racing in tougher spots for most of the year, such as open allowances. Because she is a former low-end claimer, however, Parthenope is eligible for virtually every starter allowance in the state.
Last Saturday, Parthenope notched her second starter allowance win of the River Downs meet. The win left her just a few hundred dollars short of $100,000 in career earnings.
* The Turf Club portion of the River Downs meet ended Saturday with jockey Rodney Prescott finishing well ahead of his nearest rival, Victor Lebron, in the standings. Prescott had 63 wins, and Lebron had 31. On the training side, Larry Holt edged Ivan Vasquez, 14-13.
* A competitive field will contest Saturday's featured third-level allowance, scheduled for 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf. The race also has a $25,000 claiming option. Count One, who enters off a troubled fifth in an optional claimer at Churchill, may go favored despite having only one previous turf start, in which he finished third. Count One is the one to fear if the race is switched to the main track, but is no cinch if the race remains on the turf. Fancy Threat and Sir Traver, who have a combined five wins over the River Downs turf, each have a shot to pull off the minor upset.
- Vance Hanson
Combo Royale deserved to be a 3-5 favorite in last Sunday's $35,165 Yavapai County Arizona Breeders Futurity going five furlongs. After all, he was coming off two romping victories. The race took a dramatic turn just before the start, however, when Combo Royale threw a fit in the gate and broke through the starting gate. He was deemed fit to race, but then blew the start and was never a factor, finishing sixth.
Nosleepingseligman took full advantage. Ridden by Kristina Kenney and trained by Larry Wells, Nosleepingseligman sat in midpack while longshot Versilia set the pace. Nosleepingseligman steadily advanced, swung out into the lane, and blew by Versilia to win by 1 1/2 lengths on the sloppy track.
Nosleepingseligman ran the five furlongs in 1:01.20 and paid $13.80. He has 3 wins in 6 starts, and the winner's share of $17,583 pushed his career earnings to over $30,000. He apparently likes it at Yavapai - he won his previous start here June 10 by over three lengths.
Versilia, off at 65-1, set the pace and held well to keep second, more than two lengths in front of Burn's Flyer, who rallied to be third in the field of 10.
- Michael Hammersly