FANTASTIC DAY for KIRKWOOD STABLES from north to south

Courtesy of the TDN
HIT IT ONCE MORE ( consigned and sold by Kirkwood for $90,000 at Timonium)   scored in the HAYNESFIELD S., $100,000 at Aqueduct racing a very sloppy mile.  Hit It Once More had prior success in state-bred stakes coming into Saturday, with victories in the New York Derby at Finger Lakes and the Albany S. at Saratoga in his sophomore campaign. After going wire-to-wire against allowance foes when adding blinkers at Parx Jan. 9, he finished fifth in an optional claiming event there last time out. The bay sprinted straight to the lead as the longest shot on the board and was two lengths clear passing the half-mile pole. He was still unchallenged and in hand around the far turn, was set down for the drive at the quarter pole and held steady in the final sixteenth to secure the front-running upset.

“He’s a nice horse,’ said winning trainer Gary Sciacca. “He had a great 3-year-old campaign last year, winning the [New York] Derby and coming back and winning the Albany at Saratoga. It took him a little while to get this 4-year-old year together. We went two starts back with the blinkers and it kind of seemed to make a bit of a difference on him. Made him more focused to do his job. He always broke good but he pays more attention now. From a 3-year-old to 4-year-old just made him pay attention.”  He has earned $494,642.

BERNED (started and prepared by  Kirkwood Stables) ran second in the G2- Barbara Fritchie S at Laurel. The $550,000 yearling is owned by 3C Stables LLC, West Point Thoroughbreds & Robert Masiello. She has earnings of  $254,781 and is a stakes winner already and is now multiple graded stakes placed.

I’M BETTY G dead-heated for 3rd in the Albert M Stall Memorial S at the Fair Grounds. She was consigned and sold by Kirkwood for $150,000 at Timonium. The 4-year-old filly is a multiple SW and has multiple graded stakes placings. She has earned  $162,465

I’M BETTY G 3rd in the South Beach S to add more black-type

 I’M BETTY G (Into Mischief) broke her maiden at Indiana Grand.   Moving straight from that win into stakes company in the Pearl Necklace at Laurel, the Maryland bred filly scored her first stakes win. She followed up with a stakes placing in the Indiana Grand Stakes. and a graded stakes placing in the Commonwealth Oaks-G3 followed by  a  another G3 stakes placing in the Pin Oak Valley View G3 at Keeneland where she led until deep stretch. She added a 3rd in the  Tropical Park Oaks at Gulfstream and another third in the South Beacn on the  Pegasus World Cup card.

I’M BETTY G was a $150,000 sales graduate for Kirkwood sold to current owner Three Diamonds Farm. She is trained by Michael J. Maker and has earned over $157,000.

MSW HIT IT ONCE MORE wires the field at PARX in allowance company

Newly turned 5-year-old Hard Spun colt MSW HIT IT ONCE MORE is back with a strong allowance win at PARX. Going a mile and 70 and racing for Yellow Moon Stable, he went right to the front and stayed there for a win by almost 5 lengths.  HIT IT ONCE MORE was purchased for $90,000 as a two year old by his trainer Gary Sciacca acting as agent for August Dawn Farm. He was bred by  JMJ Racing Stables, LLC. His bankroll stands over $433,000 with 5 wins, 2 seconds and 3 thirds.

OFF MY STAGE wins 2nd in a row

Racing 6 furlongs at Laurel, 3-year-old filly  OFF MY STAGE (More Than Ready) had to steady and fan wide, but got her nose on the wire first for her second victory in a row Last month she wired the field to break her maiden by 4 lengths.  Lifetime Record: 3-2-0-0, $49,740.
O-Smart Angle LLP
B-Sun Kingdom Pty LTD (KY)
T-Mark J. Reid.

I’M BETTY G adds more black type in the Tropical Park Oaks

 I’M BETTY G broke her maiden at Indiana Grand.   Moving straight from that win into stakes company in the Pearl Necklace at Laurel, the Maryland bred filly scored her first stakes win. She followed up with a stakes placing in the Indiana Grand Stakes. and a graded stakes placing in the Commonwealth Oaks-G3 followed by  a  another G3 stakes placing in the Pin Oak Valley View G3 at Keeneland where she led until deep stretch. Today she came 4 wide to add still more black type, running third in the Tropical Park Oaks at Gulfstream.

I’M BETTY G was a $150,000 sales graduate for Kirkwood sold to current owner Three Diamonds Farm. She is trained by Michael J. Maker and has earned over $145,000.

GILDED LILY wins her 2nd in a row at Turfway – 4th win out of 9 starts!

GILDED LILY, a 3-year-old Speightstown filly, moved into the 3 path to edge clear  for the win at Turfway for trainer Michael J. Maker and owner  Tracy Farmer. She loves the surface at Turfway and this is her fourth win over it and her second in a row. She was also on the board in the Bourbonette Oaks G3 over the all weather surface.

Tom’s Ready a Beacon for the Bensons

Courtesy of the TDN

Gayle & Tom Benson | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

By Michael Adolphson

After an eight-wide trip and respectable fifth-place finish in Saturday’s salty GI Cigar Mile, Dallas Stewart-trained Tom’s Ready (More Than Ready) capped a 21-race, 28-month career that saw him clash and hold his own against the very best of his generation. The 4-year-old colt closed out his racing tenure as one of the toughest milers in training and finished at the top of his game, including a flashy GIII Bold Ruler S. win in his penultimate start (earning a 107 Beyer Speed Figure).

More importantly, the nearly black grandson of Broad Brush was the ringleader for the racing renaissance of New Orleans’ famed Benson Family, earning more than $1 million, winning three graded stakes and taking his popular Big Easy connections to the biggest dances–the GI Kentucky Derby and GI Breeders’ Cup Mile.

“He was a real war horse,” Stewart said. “He traveled around and ran his race over many different tracks and surfaces. He ran competitively against the best horses and really stepped up a lot on big days. He’s a very sound horse who was a lot of fun to campaign. The Bensons were kind enough to let me train for them and never restrained me. They love racing, come to the races even when they don’t have a horse running and they’re icons in New Orleans. Tom’s Ready was one of the first horses we got for them and I look forward to seeing what he does as a stallion.”

Racing as GMB Racing, Tom and Gayle Benson returned with a flourish into racing after a multi-decade hiatus and channeled the passion they have for the professional sports teams they own–the New Orleans Saints of the NFL and Pelicans of the NBA–into a racing product that competes at the highest level. Tom’s Ready tops a group that includes graded stakes winner Mo Tom (Uncle Mo), talented Saratoga allowance winner Tom’s d’Etat (Smart Strike) and Grade I-placed juvenile Lone Sailor (Majestic Warrior).

Tom’s Ready now heads to stud at Spendthrift Farm, where he will stand for $6,000 and participate in said establishment’s “Share The Upside” program for a fee of $7,500.

“He has been a great horse for us,” Gayle Benson said. “He gives his best effort every time he races and has stayed healthy for us. He and Dallas have been a great fit–in the way Dallas trains and the way this horse has responded. We did not know what to expect (when he first started training), but we are very proud of Tom’s Ready and certainly very proud of what lies ahead for him as a he stands as a stallion at Spendthrift. We have a small broodmare band at Benson Farm, and we will certainly be sending him a few mares.”

GMB Racing is managed by Greg Bensel, who also serves as the Senior Vice President of Communications and Broadcasting for the Saints and Pelicans. Bensel, a long time racing fan, has helped guide the outfit to a 19% strike rate and nearly $26,000 in average earnings per start from 80 races. In 2017, the operation has struck at 22%, giving Bensel and the Bensons added fervor for the future.

“We continue to grow our racing stable for GMB Racing and our broodmare band at Benson Farm,” Bensel said. “We are excited about all of our 2-year-olds, but are keen about Lone Sailor for [trainer] Tom Amoss. Also, Tom’s d’Etat has left Benson Farm after rehabbing and will be back to Al Stall [Jr.] as a 5-year-old.”

The beating heart of the Benson operation has become the aforementioned Benson Farm at Greenwood Lodge in Paris, Kentucky. A 600-acre beauty, it is a favorite getaway spot for the couple, while also serving as a rehab facility in another fashion for their equines.

“We have our established racing operations in GMB Racing and now the Bensons have their farm, where it is mostly a private concern, but we do have some boarders and welcome boarders and other clients that have yearlings that need sales prep,” Bensel continued. “It has all come full circle.”

For now, the focus for GMB is kickstarting a second career for its first stallion Tom’s Ready and hoping the best for its soon-to-be 3-year-old class. It will be difficult, though, to live up to their little blazed beast, who was as tough as he was compact and barreled home with the determination of a Saints running back in the lane.

“We got in the business in 2014 with seven yearlings, of which two made the Kentucky Derby in 2016, so it will be hard to repeat that again,” Bensel concluded. “Our hopes are to be good contributors to the racing and breeding industry as we move forward.