Updated on 09/17/2011 10:03AM

Thoroughbred Corp. still viable entity


NEW ORLEANS - The demise of The Thoroughbred Corporation, as Mark Twain might have said, has been greatly exaggerated.

Despite the death in Saudi Arabia last July of its principal owner, Prince Ahmed bin Salman, The Thoroughbred Corp. remains a force in the United States. The stable has reduced its numbers of horses, but still has several prominent runners, most notably Kafwain, the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby.

Both Kafwain and stablemate Atlantic Ocean shipped from California to Fair Grounds on Thursday for major stakes races this weekend. Kafwain is the morning-line favorite in Sunday's $750,000 Louisiana Derby, while Atlantic Ocean was scheduled to run against five other 3-year-old fillies in Saturday's $350,000 Fair Grounds Oaks.

According to Richard Mulhall, the president of The Thoroughbred Corp., the stable should remain a viable entity for the foreseeable future.

"We've been cutting back some, but we'll continue to operate," Mulhall said Friday morning at Fair Grounds. "We had been planning to cut back even before the prince died. Sometimes when you've been in business for a few years you accumulate a lot of what you don't want, so we've cut back."

Mulhall said The Thoroughbred Corp. did not purchase any 2-year-olds in training this year. However, it did not sell any 2-year-olds, either. With approximately 45 broodmares still in its band, it will have a good number of foals this year and next.

"We didn't need to buy any because we're breeding plenty of our own," Mulhall said. "We didn't sell any 2-year-olds. We'll keep them to race. We might put up a few yearlings to sell; we have about 50 yearlings."

Mulhall said The Thoroughbred Corp.'s breeding operation has been affected by the Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome that hit central Kentucky the past few years.

"It's been a bad deal the last couple of years," Mulhall said. "The farms in Kentucky are losing just as many this year as last year."

When Prince Ahmed died, his estate was willed to his wife, Princess Lamia, and their children. Mulhall said Prince Ahmed's younger brother, Prince Faisal, "has been helping out, like the executor of a will.

"I speak to him, and he talks to Princess Lamia," Mulhall said.

The Thoroughbred Corp., according to Mulhall, has most of its horses with Bob Baffert, who trains Kafwain and Atlantic Ocean, as well as Neil Drysdale, Richard Mandella, and Mulhall's daughter, Kristin. John Kimmel and D. Wayne Lukas also have one horse each.

If Kafwain goes on and wins the Kentucky Derby, he will become the second consecutive Derby winner to wear the familiar green and white silks of The Thoroughbred Corp., which won the Derby last year with War Emblem.

Don't count out Lone Star Sky

How do you make up 10 lengths in three weeks?

If Lone Star Sky is to turn the tables on Badge of Silver on Sunday in the Louisiana Derby, that's exactly what he must do. Making only his second start of the year in the Feb. 16 Risen Star, Lone Star Sky made a big move forward and finished second - but he was nowhere near Badge of Silver.

"What we need is to take a step forward, and for some regression from him," said Tom Amoss, who trains Badge of Silver for owner Walter "Buddy" New.

And that's not completely out of the question. Speed-figure advocates everywhere are waiting breathlessly for Badge of Silver to regress. After two startlingly fast races after a long layoff, Badge of Silver, the thinking goes, is ripe for a bounce.

Lone Star Sky, on the other hand, could be heading the opposite direction. With six starts during his 2-year-old season, Lone Star Sky got the kind of seasoning as a juvenile that can serve a horse well during a rigorous 3-year-old spring stakes schedule. Lone Star Sky came out of the Risen Star in good physical condition and has breezed well since the race, including a bullet half-mile on March 4.

"I think he's got a pretty good constitution," Amoss said. "As far as how the horse is doing right now, he's ready to run. "

Lone Star Sky won the Cradle Stakes last Sept. 2, his first two-turn race, but Amoss thinks the Risen Star was the first time Lone Star Sky turned in a creditable finish in a route race. Skeptical before his last start, Amoss now feels like Lone Star Sky at least has a fighting chance.

"I think my perspective on him has changed," he said. "I was more encouraged by that last race than any of his other routes. Of course, if Badge of Silver runs that well again, we're all running for second."

Shippers get a feel for the track

Atlantic Ocean, Kafwain, and Peace Rules - who arrived in New Orleans late Thursday afternoon - got their first feel of the Fair Grounds surface during training hours on Friday morning.

Atlantic Ocean jogged with John Good, an assistant for Baffert. Kafwain also jogged. Peace Rules, trained by Bobby Frankel, jogged at a much more aggressive clip despite going the wrong way along the outside fence.

Peace Rules, who will challenge Kafwain in the Louisiana Derby, was still feisty while being bathed.

"I should give him a soccer ball. He wants to kick," said Ruben Loza, Frankel's assistant.

Calleybluebayou tops Battler Star

The first four finishers in the Green Oaks Stakes on Feb. 23 at Delta Downs meet again Sunday in the $75,000 Battler Star Handicap. A six-furlong sprint for Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies, the Battler Star drew a field of nine and goes as race 8, one race before the Louisiana Derby.

The rivals may be the same, but there surely will be a major shift in the odds. Calleybluebayou was a 39-1 shot in the Green Oaks, but she blew by the field with a powerful late run and won going away by 2 1/2 lengths.

"She's learned every race and has gotten more and more confident," said trainer Richie Scherer. "That's not to say her last race wasn't a surprise. It was a total surprise."

Calleybluebayou came into the Green Oaks having lost a first-level statebred allowance race here by three lengths in her previous start. At seven furlongs, the Green Oaks encompassed two turns around Delta's bullring racetrack, and now Calleybluebayou returns to a one-turn sprint.

"I don't know if it's the best thing for her, but she's really learned to relax," Scherer said. "She doesn't need to be up there head and head on a fast pace like she wanted to at first."

Rubies N Roses had easily beaten Calleybluebayou in the Fair Grounds allowance race, and though she was no match for her in Delta's abbreviated route, the return to a one-turn sprint may give Rubies N Roses an edge.

Other contenders are Kilt Lilt and Letithappencaptain, third and fourth, respectively, in the Green Oaks.

Mineshaft seeks Grade 1

Neil Howard, the trainer of Mineshaft, said the major goal for the New Orleans Handicap winner is a Grade 1 victory. He hopes to get it this summer at Belmont Park in the July 5 Suburban Handicap, the first Grade 1 race on Mineshaft's itinerary.

"We might prep in the Brooklyn before that," Howard said Friday morning. The Brooklyn, also at Belmont Park, is a Grade 2 race on June 14.

The New Orleans Handicap, a Grade 2, marked the first graded stakes victory for Mineshaft. He has won four times in five starts since being repatriated from Europe.

* Trainer Gene Cilio skipped Saturday's Fair Grounds Oaks with Allspice, who finished second here in the Tiffany Lass, and said Allspice would get a little freshening and point for races in the spring. But Allspice was out for a major work here Friday, going six furlongs from the gate in a sharp 1:12.60.

- additional reporting by Marcus Hersch