BERNED scores in the G3 Molly Pitcher on the Haskell Undercard

Courtesy of the BloodHorse

… Robert Masiello, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Chris Larsen’s Berned flew by the leaders at the top of the stretch to win the G3 Molly Pitcher.

The 4-year-old, Graham Motion-trained daughter of Bernardini  has competed at a much tougher level in the past, with off-the-board efforts in the 2016 Starlet Stakes (G1), the 2017 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), and the June 9 Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1), where she finished sixth.

Although she won the May 12 Serena’s Song Stakes and the 2017 Safely Kept Stakes, she hadn’t finished better than third in graded company since her third start, when she was second in the Tempted Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack in 2016.

Jockey Joe Bravo kept Berned near the back of the field while Divine Miss Grey and Unchained Melody battled on the front end, running fractions of :23.51 and :46.80 through a half-mile. Rallying three wide into the stretch, Berned pulled clear of the field early, but Dreamcall, coming in off a three-race winning streak, sprinted from last to close to within three-quarters of a length at the wire.

Final time for the 1 1/16-mile race was 1:44.52. Divine Miss Grey held for third.

Bred by AR Enterprises out of the Giant’s Causeway mare First Passage, Berned was a $550,000 purchase by West Point Thoroughbreds when she was consigned to the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale by Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services.

FUNNY DUCK SPLASHES TO PAT DAY MILE VICTORY

Funny Duck and Brian Hernandez Jr. finish 4 3/4 lengths ahead in the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs
Funny Duck and Brian Hernandez Jr. finish 4 3/4 lengths ahead in the Pat Day Mile at Churchill DownsRyan Thompson

Funny Duck Splashes to Pat Day Mile Victory

Distorted Humor colt relished sloppy going at Churchill Downs.

On a wet day more suitable to ducks than people, aptly named Funny Duck posted a major upset in the $300,000 Pat Day Mile presented by LG&E and KU (G3) on the Kentucky Derby Day card May 5 at Churchill Downs.

Longshot Lombo took charge out of the gate while pressured first by Smart Remark and then Greyvitos as the 14-horse field completed the first half-mile in :45.53. The group of 3-year-olds contended with sloppy conditions from a day-long rain that was heavy at times.

New York Central took control rounding the turn for home while Funny Duck, off at odds of 39-1 and stumbling at the start, raced near the rail. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. shifted Funny Duck out, split horses with three-sixteenths remaining, and launched a sustained drive that resulted in a 4 3/4-length victory in a final time of 1:37.16.

“We had a great trip,” Hernandez said. “We just went out there. There was no pressure with the horse. He stumbled a bit leaving there. I think it worked to his advantage because when he got up, he turned off for me. We were able to find a nice, smooth rail trip and had to go around only one horse. He traveled like a winner the whole way. It was a great race for him.”

Mask, the 5-2 favorite who was undefeated in two starts, including the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park, contended until the turn before tiring to finish eighth.

The winner returned a whopping $81.40, $36.60, and $14.20. New York Central held second at odds of 31-1 and returned $27.80 and $12.40. Givemeaminit paid $10 to show. The top two combined for a $2 exacta of $1,753.60, and a $1 trifecta returned $17,138.50.

“He ran real well. We felt good,” trainer Steve Asmussen said of runner-up New York Central. “He handled an off track real well. He showed a good side of himself. He made a pretty quick move, but (Lombo) was getting out, and I think he wanted to get away from him.”

A chestnut son of Distorted Humor  making his seventh career start for Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm and trainer Rusty Arnold, Funny Duck improved to 2-2-0 in seven starts, his second on the main track. The victory increased his earnings to $214,040.

Seventh in a dirt debut at Churchill Downs last fall, the colt was unplaced in his first grass start, also at a mile, before finishing second twice on turf. Funny Duck broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park in February in a mile turf test and came into the Pat Day Mile off a seventh-place effort in the Kentucky Utilities Transylvania Stakes (G3T) over a yielding turf course at Keeneland.

Arnold said owner Kelley gets credit for the decision to run Funny Duck on dirt again.

“Mr. Kelley called and said, ‘I would like to try this horse on the dirt again.’ We were set for running him in a turf race, and we said, ‘OK,’ and we tried him on the dirt again. So he gets all the credit because we would have been in the turf race.

“We love the horse. He had really become leaps and bounds better through the winter. His last race (Transylvania Stakes), he had some traffic issues. We liked the horse, but he got good on the turf and some trainers tend to stick with it, and when he said to go to the dirt, we did. He had a great work here last week. We do think he likes the mud, too, so it worked out great. It’s going to open up a whole lot of races, obviously, for him now.”

Bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock, Funny Duck was produced from the stakes-winning Seattle Slew mare Slow Down, who has also produced French group 3 winner Slow Pace as well as Segway, who placed in two grade 2 stakes.

Consigned to sales as a weanling and yearling, Funny Duck was bought back for prices of $120,000 and $65,000 before finally being purchased by Calumet for $110,000 from Kirkwood Stables at the 2017 Ocala Breeders’ Sales March auction of 2-year-olds in training.

PR Special OBS April: Where Did The Breeze Show Come From?

Courtesy of the Paulick Report
By Natalie Voss

It’s a question our readers ask every time the leaders list is published following a 2-year-olds in training under tack show. It’s also a question some in the bloodstock world have been asking themselves in the past couple of decades, as furlong times get faster and faster. The obvious answer is that speed (like sex in the advertising world) sells, but it hasn’t always been this way. Rollin Baugh remembers a time when the stopwatches stayed, for the most part, in buyers’ pockets. Baugh said the 2-year-old sales started as a marketing gimmick.

In 1957, Ocala Stud’s Joe O’Farrell helped launch the first one as a way to sell horses with less fashionable pedigrees, the theory being buyers might see the horses’ training as “value added” and take a chance on something that was ready to go to the races. O’Farrell told Sports Illustrated in 1967 that at the time it cost about $2,500 more to train a horse into a sale as a 2-year-old than it did to prep him for a yearling auction. In those early years, the Ocala Stud sales were held at Hialeah Park and required O’Farrell to put up his own money to keep them going. “There I was in the open Hialeah paddock,” O’Farrell told SI, “with 26 2-year-olds bred like billy goats. And just as our sale started it began to rain. I had put every cent I had into that sale, and if a hard rain chased away the buyers I figured I would be bankrupt before I even got going.” The rain fizzled out and the prices were good, posting an average of around $5,200. O’Farrell wasn’t the first to try the tactic: Bill Leach sold 2-year-olds out of Dickey Stables (before it became Ocala Stud), Carl G. Rose had tried it, and Doug Davis Jr. had as well. O’Farrell’s model was more successful, despite questions in the 1960s about the long-term impact on training horses so early.

In those early days, Baugh remembers, horses galloped in pairs and sometimes went by the stands twice, hacking the first time and moving more strongly the second time. “It didn’t take a wizard but generally you’d put the lesser-moving horse on the inside … you didn’t hide much of anything but that’s how people did it – but they galloped,” Baugh remembered. “The gallop got to be a little stronger, but pairs were still the predominant way of doing it.” Gradually, people began realizing the horse who “lost” the match-up would be at a disadvantage under the hammer, so horses began working alone. For some time, a quarter mile was the standard distance and horses might work twice – once the week before the sale and once the day before, with one or the other usually stronger than the other. Then,

Kirkwood Stables owner Kip Elser and Baugh remember someone (their memories diverge on who) suggested shortening the distance to a furlong. “Why should we be breezing horses at a quarter when the last eighth of the workout tends to fall apart, both the action of the horse and the time?” recalled Baugh. “Let’s breeze an eighth, because it left more horses in a bunch and they didn’t separate themselves as much. You didn’t want them to separate too much because the bottom half was the one that was punished.”

As one horse started getting faster, consignors felt pressure to keep up. Suddenly, Elser remembers, a possible 2-year-old sale entry was prepared for the breeze show, not for the racetrack. “It was buyer-driven and technology-driven when the video technology kept improving,” said Elser. “Everybody always says [it’s getting too fast] but they keep buying the ones that go faster.” Now, Elser says, many horses who complete the breeze shows are finishing in such similar times that buyers are timing the gallop-out, increasing the distance consignors have to worry about. From where Elser sits, the focus on time is also a reflection of the modern buyer’s use of technology. Buyers want extensive data, which some of the biometrics companies and video analysis offer.

Baugh recalls pinhooking developing along the same timeline as 2-year-old prices as owners saw a commercial opportunity, beginning in the 1980s. With time, however, the market has become more polarized and it can often be a “chicken or feathers” situation for sellers.  Baugh sold horses at his last 2-year-old auction in the 1990s after becoming distressed at what he calls “the attrition rate” of juveniles who suffer a stress injury during preparation and can’t complete the process.

Elser and Baugh agree they’ve heard the same concerns from colleagues for years now: the works are too fast for many horses, they don’t showcase many at their best, and there’s a significant risk of financial loss. After decades of creating a business model based on speed, Elser and Baugh say they’re not sure how – or if – the business can reverse course. Elser offered a handful of horses for an undisclosed investor at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale with the condition they would gallop and not breeze. He revealed the investor will purchase yearlings with the same intention again this year. Both are hopeful small efforts like this could help the breeze show once again resemble on-track workouts. “They’ll never go ten flat again in their lives and if they do they won’t win the race,” said Baugh. “You are buying a survivor. A survivor is good on the one hand that it survived, but what things have already been done to the horse that you’d prefer not to have done?”

Tom’s Ready, New At Spendthrift For 2018

Courtesy of the Paulick Report

by Paulick Report Staff | 04.02.2018 

Tom’s Ready at Spendthrift 3.31.18

Our spotlight on new stallions for 2018 shifts to Spendthrift Farm, where Tom’s Ready took up stud duty this year.

On the track, the 5-year-old son of More Than Ready was a multiple graded stakes winner who won the Grade 2 Woody Stephens in one of the fastest times in recent memory. During his sophomore year, on his way to the Kentucky Derby, Tom’s Ready was second to eventual star Gun Runner in the Louisiana Derby.

Bred in Pennsylvania by Blackstone Farm, Tom’s Ready was a $145,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Sale. He retired with earnings over a million dollars.

We hope you enjoy the latest edition of In the Stud presented by Kentucky Equine Research. We would once again like to thank our friends at EquiSport Photos for the excellent video.

Tom’s Ready ITS from EquiSport Photos on Vimeo.

Kirkwood Stables to gallop offerings at F-T Gulfstream breeze show

Courtesy of the DRF

The five horses consigned under the Kirkwood banner at the elite sale will be shown under an untimed gallop during the breeze show, forgoing the blazing times strived for by horses going an eighth or a quarter of a mile.

Elser, who is based in Camden, S.C., said the notion was first brought to him last summer by a longtime friend and client he would describe only as “somewhat of a contrarian,” who tasked him to buy a handful of yearlings and take them to the Gulfstream sale with the built-in notion of going there to gallop. The horses would not be drilled to breeze leading up to the sale, and Elser signed the tickets on the yearlings as agent for “Gulfstream Gallop LLC,” stating their purpose from the moment they took ownership.

“There’s quite a few people that’ll always tell you, ‘I wish they didn’t have to go so fast. I can see all I want to see just to see them move,’” Elser said. “We need some people with confidence in their judgement to look at these open galloping through the lane, and see what they think.

“I hope we can dial it back a bit for the horses, the buyers, all of us getting horses ready to sell. I hope we can maybe broaden the market a little bit. There’s a lot of nice horses out there that get lost in the shuffle when the primary criteria is just how fast they go.”

:: DRF BREEDING LIVE: Real-time coverage of breeding and sales

Restricting sale-bound juveniles to galloping contradicts the commercial market tide. Just one horse was on the record as having galloped during last year’s under-tack shows at the seven combined juvenile auctions hosted by Fasig-Tipton, Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co., and Barretts. He was eventually scratched.

Adena Springs galloped each of the 50 horses it offered during the 2015 and 2016 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sales, the first two hosted at the venue. The average hammer price (both horses sold and buybacks) on those juveniles was $63,390, less than a third of the overall average hammer price for the 2015 sale, which had the lowest average of the two sales.

It is important to note, though, that a variety of factors outside of the gallops likely influenced those returns. Adena Springs was by far the largest consignor at the 2015 sale, looking to support the first auction at the Stronach Group-owned track. As such, many of the offerings had pedigrees that would not typically be seen in the boutique Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream catalog, and the prices reflected that.

One of the purchases, an $85,000 Einstein gelding named Scholar Athlete, was sent from the sale to Kirkwood Stables to finish his training, and became a Grade 3-placed runner for West Point Thoroughbreds.

This is not the first time Elser has made headlines for galloping his juveniles. In the early 2000s, he consigned a handful of breeze-only horses at several sales for Seth Hancock of Claiborne Farm, who strongly opposes the rigors of the modern breeze show process. Included in that group was the $750,000 Pulpit filly Pray for Aces and stakes winner Nakayama Kun.

Though he intended all along to just gallop the horses he has consigned to the Gulfstream sale, Elser said that did not change his criteria for buying yearlings. As such, he said his expectations for what will constitute a successful sale for the Gulfstream horses is also unchanged.

“Getting all the horses sold, that’s a successful sale,” he said. “Beyond that, going on and proving that the buyers are right when they buy these and going on to win races for them.

“There’s plenty of good judges out there who could pick a horse if A) they have good confidence in their judgement; and B) if their clients let them get away from the formula they’ve been having to use recently.”

Kirkwood Takes Alternative Approach to Sale Workouts

Courtesy of the BloodHorse Kip Elser of Kirkwood Stables
Kip Elser of Kirkwood StablesCathy Clark

Kirkwood Takes Alternative Approach to Sale Workouts

Five horses from Kip Elser’s consignment will gallop up to the sale.

When the under tack workouts take place March 26 for horses entered in the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream selected sale of 2-year-olds in training, don’t look for any of the entries from Kirkwood Stables to be doing a quick eighth-mile or quarter-mile down the lane.

At the behest of a client, the Kirkwood horses will gallop during workouts for the March 28 auction that will be held in the walking ring at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla. Monday’s under tack show begins at 9 a.m., and Wednesday’s sale starts at 3 p.m. (all times Eastern).

Spring Sale

Kip Elser, who operates South Carolina-based Kirkwood, said the idea for the unique approach to showcasing his young horses’ abilities came during a conversation at Saratoga in August.

“I ran into an old friend and former client at Saratoga, and he said, ‘I think this pendulum (of fast workouts during breeze shows) has swung too far.’ He said, ‘Go to the fall sales and buy me a small group of nice horses and take them to the Gulfstream sale and just gallop them, don’t breeze them.'”

Elser said “Gulfstream Gallop,” the name under which the Fasig-Tipton sale juveniles were purchased, is designed to offer an alternative to the traditional methods of evaluating racing prospects.

“Without trying to disparage anybody else’s way of doing business, we’re going to try a way to give buyers just as good a way to evaluate these horses,” said Elser, adding that buyers are astute and professional enough to look beyond workout times that do little to sort out the better offerings. “There are plenty of good horsemen out there who can judge a horse without having it go in some blazing time. Buyers need to have confidence in themselves. I think there are enough good judges out there who will trust their own judgment and just go out there and pick out some nice horses.”

As 2-year-olds in training sales have soared in popularity—and sellers have become adept at getting their horses to go fast during the under tack shows—juvenile sales have, in some cases, become the end-all rather than a means to the end.

“We have created this situation ourselves. Consignors have gotten better and better at getting horses to go faster, but what has happened is that the preparation for a 2-year-old sale is no longer a part of the process of getting them ready to run. It is a very different process,” the horseman said. “Theoretically, a 2-year-old sale should be a stop on the way to their first start. For some, it is the end of the process rather than a step along the way.

OBS Sales

“When that train leaves South Carolina, there are how many steps on the way to the racetrack, whether it is Kentucky or New York or wherever? There are steps in the process. You go from middle school to high school and on to college. It is a steep pyramid, but it is a clearly defined path to get to the races.”

Elser said buyers can have confidence the Gulfstream horses are galloping as part of a long-range plan, not because they have shown an inability to go fast.

“The first hurdle you have to get is the question of whether these horses were tired and found wanting,” he explained. “They were never intended to do anything else. In my mind, I think this makes it a believable project. They were bought in the name of Gulfstream Gallop, and right from the day we signed the ticket and sent them home, that was the plan.”

This is not the first time Elser has brought outside-the-box thinking to his sales approach. Kirkwood had horses gallop at juvenile sales when Elser was representing Seth Hancock and Claiborne Farm. Also, Kirkwood was one of the first North American operations to sell 2-year-olds in England, and it established a foothold in the South African 2-year-old sales sector.

“That is part of where this game will take you, if you let it,” Elser said.

Other consignors, most notably Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs operation, have showcased 2-year-olds in training by only galloping them in advance of an auction.

Elser said the horses in his pinhooking group “are not extremely expensive horses, but they are good value.”

The Kirkwood consignment at Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream:

  • Hip 2, a Noble Mission  colt from the female family of multiple grade 2 winner Lewis Bay. The colt’s half brother, Yulong Warrior, recently won a stakes race in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Hip 26, a Data Link  filly whose extended female family includes prominent broodmare Toll Fee.
  • Hip 88, an Exchange Rate colt from an active female family that includes multiple grade 3 winner Sailors Sunset.
  • Hip 136, a Liaison  colt out of a stakes-placed Pine Bluff mare who is from the family of multiple grade 1 winner Both Ends Burning.
  • Hip 137, a Blame  filly from the female family of 2001 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner Tempera.

‘Trying To Change Market Thinking’: Kirkwood Offers ‘No-Breeze Show’ At Florida Sale

Courtesy of the Paulick Report

by  | 03.22.2018 | 11:13am

Kirkwood horses galloping at Springdale Training Center

 
Plenty of casual race fans and bloodstock professionals alike have expressed concern about the rule of the stopwatch at 2-year-old sales. In a feature by the Thoroughbred Daily News earlier this month, veteran consignor Niall Brennan said he’s seen a change in breeze-up sales over the past few years. Speed has always been important, but the market has become obsessed with the bullet and employed “Quarter Horse training methods” in which horses have to go flat-out to meet expectations that have little to do with the racetrack.

One unnamed investor is hoping to push back against the tidal wave of speed obsession.

Last year, Kirkwood Stables’ Kip Elser was approached by a longtime friend and former client at Saratoga who was frustrated by the problem of intense speed at juvenile sales.

“He said, ‘Let’s give this a try. Go buy me some horses and let’s take them to Gulfstream and not breeze them.’ It was really no more complicated than that,” said Elser. “He said, ‘I think maybe the pendulum has swung too far.’ We’re hearing rumblings about ‘How fast can you get them to go? We’re down to :9 4/5 (for a furlong) and what’s next.’ We said, ‘Let’s just take a step back and see if the market will accept it.’ This is very much a roll of the dice, and we’re aware of that.”

The result is a five-horse consignment offered by Kirkwood that will be shown to clients at a gallop, not breezing at the upcoming Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale. Elser emphasizes the horses have not been breezed at any point in their sale preparation, and the choice to show them at a gallop is not based on the horses’ abilities, but on a plan.

“They were bought in the name of Gulfstream Gallop specifically for this project,” he said. “I bought the same horses I would have bought any other year, whether they were going to the 2-year-old sales or the races, and I bought horses I like.
Elser says the group is coming along on equal footing, but if he had to pick favorites, he’d highlight Hip 137, a Blame filly from the family of multiple French group stakes winner Colour Chart and Hip 2, a Noble Mission (GB) colt whose half-brother Yulong Warrior won the Al Bastakiya Stakes at Meydan recently.Elser is not the first to try galloping horses at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale; Adena Springs did the same in 2015 and 2016 with mixed results under the hammer. But Elser said based on racetrack results, those groups of juveniles have done quite well – multiple graded winner Shakhimat and multiple stakes winner Winter came from those consignments, as did graded stakes-placed Scholar Athlete, Jamyson ‘n Ginger and Born To Be a Winner. Some of those horses are still running.

Elser agrees with his client that the 2-year-old auction system has created a bit of a monster – but it’s not easy to change market currents single-handedly.

“It remains to be seen if we can stay away somewhat from the clock,” he said. “I think my outlook is the same as everybody else that’s getting horses ready for the 2-year-old sales: it is very definitely market-driven. It’s what buyers want. This is a conscious effort to change the way buyers look at horses. If I didn’t have this friend and client that wants to do this, I don’t think I’d be taking this risk on my own of trying to change market thinking.”

He also says that to really make a difference, he may have to try this approach for several years. As long as his client is on board, Elser is fine with that.

“I would hope so. That’s the intention right now,” he said. “We’re certainly getting a response. I hope it translates into people watching them and looking at them on a shank and buying them, but it’s too early to tell that yet. We’ve certainly stirred the pot and I’m getting a very positive response from a lot of people saying they like the idea.”