REASON TO SOAR makes it 2 in a row

REASON TO SOAR (Soaring Empire) was back with a vengeance in his 2018 debut with a win in the first start of his 4-year-old campaign. He underlined that victory with another win to make it 2 in a row. Owned by West Point  REASON TO SOAR broke his maiden right off the bat with a huge come from behind rally. Next, he ran third in the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes at Tampa Bay, and then back in NY,  he added another third in the New York Stallion Stakes at Aqueduct. Today at Gulfstream, he rated and then rallied to clear the field to win his second allowance condition in the last few jumps. The 4-year-old gelding is trained by George Weaver.


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.


Courtesy of the TDN
1st-BEL, $78,400, Alw (NW2$X)/Opt. Clm ($62,500), 4-28, 3yo/up, f/m, 7fT, 1:22.18, gd. I’M BETTY G (f, 4, Into Mischief- Lady in Ermine, by Honour and Glory) hadn’t seen the inside of the winner’s circle since a victory in last July’s Pearl Necklace S. at Laurel, however, managed to hit the board in six of seven subsequent starts. Entering this race off a pair of thirds in the South Beach S. at Gulfstream Jan. 27 followed by the Feb. 17 Albert M. Stall Memorial at the Fair Grounds, she was sent off the 3-2 choice to get back on top. The bay gained the advantage soon after the start, and led narrowly through initial fractions of :23.37 and :46.38. Extending her advantage from there, she remained in control to record a 1 1/2-length victory over favored Abbreviate (Harlan’s Holiday).
Lady in Ermine, who has a two-year-old filly by Bellamy Road, was bred to Golden Lad this term. Sales history: $27,000 Ylg ’15 EASOCT (CONSIGNED BY KIRKWOOD STABLES)$150,000 2yo ’16 EASMAY. Lifetime Record: SW, 13-3-1-5, $210,465.
O-Three Diamonds Farm
B-Carol Kaye & Boyce Stable (MD)
T-Michael J. Maker.

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?”

3 winners today for Kirkwood Stables

5-year-old SCHOLAR ATHLETE (Einstein) annexed his 6th win racing 1 1/8 on the turf in an AOC at Aqueduct – making it 2 wins in a row this year.  He has upped his earnings over $300,000 for owner West Point Thoroughbreds. The graded stakes-placed winner is trained by H. Graham Motion.

At Oaklawn, WHOLE LOTTA LUCK (Lookin at Lucky) won for the 4th time and was one of 5 hoses claimed from his race.  We wish his new connections the best of “luck”.

At Hawthorne, MOON SONG (Elusive Quality) went over the $100,000 mark with his 6th win. The 7-year-old gelding is owned by  RM Racing LLC and trained by Ralph A Martinez.

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.

Conquest Big E Breaks Through in Hardacre Mile

Courtesy of the Blood Horse

Conquest Big E Inside) wins the Hardacre Mile over Always Dreaming (blue cap) at Gulfstream Park
Conquest Big E Inside) wins the Hardacre Mile over Always Dreaming (blue cap) at Gulfstream Park

Coglianese Photos/Andie Biancone

Conquest Big E Breaks Through in Hardacre Mile

Son of Tapit upset Always Dreaming to earn first graded stakes win.

Daniel Hurtak was adamant he knew what he was talking about.

Based on what he had seen from his mercurial gelding Conquest Big E in training, the owner was insistent that if the son of Tapit  could get himself forwardly placed in one of these graded stakes, he would have enough mettle to keep himself in front by the time the wire rolled around.

“For two months, I’ve been asking for him to make the lead and couldn’t get a jock to make the lead with him,” Hurtak said. “I told the jockey today (Jose Batista), ‘If you make the lead, he gets really game because in the mornings, nobody beats him.'”

Batista took that sage advice to heart in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Hardacre Mile Stakes (G2) March 31, and, indeed, Conquest Big E made an honest man out of his owner when he earned an upset, front-running victory over 2017 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner Always Dreaming.

In leading every point of call en route to a three-length victory and first graded stakes score, Conquest Big E completed a long, strange trip toward finally living up to his potential. Initially purchased for $700,000 by Conquest Stables out of the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale and trained by Mark Casse, the gray runner was put on the 2016 Kentucky Derby trail but dashed those aspirations with off-the-board efforts in that year’s Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes (G2) and Gotham Stakes (G3).

When he sold to Tommy Roberts for $110,000 as part of the Conquest Stables dispersal at the 2016 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, he had only two wins from nine starts and was toiling in the allowance optional claiming ranks. Though he dropped his next three starts for his new connections, he had a resurgence last summer with back-to-back wins at Gulfstream Park, including a gate-to-wire, seven-length score in the Coast Is Clear Handicap going one mile.

“I knew that he can run with these horses,” said trainer Donna Green Hurtak, who celebrated her first graded stakes victory in the Hardacre Mile. “He’s a very talented horse. He’s also a Tapit, and they can be a little quirky. We’re just pleased he got to show his ability today.”

One of the things his conditioner said she worked on was breaking Conquest Big E of his habit of hopping out of the gate, an issue that cost him position during his runner-up effort in the Jan. 27 Fred W. Hooper Stakes (G3) and fourth-place finish in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) Feb. 24.

“We did a little gate work with him, trying to get him out of the habit,” Green Hurtak said. “It’s great when you’re a trainer and things work, because it’s not easy to get them out of bad habits.”

The patience paid off as Conquest Big E got away well from the inside post in the six-horse Hardacre Mile field and clicked off the opening quarter-mile in :23.57 with Always Dreaming—making his first start in seven months—sitting just off his flank in second. Conquest Big E put a length on the classic winner as he reached the half-mile in :45.88, then got really brave on the final turn, opening up by nearly three lengths.

With Batista giving him some right-handed urging in the lane, Conquest Big E kicked on handily to cover the distance in 1:35.92 over a track rated fast, rewarding those who backed him at odds of 12-1.

Always Dreaming held for second in his first outing since running ninth in the Aug. 26 Travers Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1), with stablemate Tommy Macho 1 1/2 lengths back in third.

“I thought he ran well first time off a layoff,” trainer Todd Pletcher said of Always Dreaming. “Gulfstream can be a tricky track when a horse gets loose like that. We got the trip we were hoping for. We got a nice, clean trip. I thought he fell into a good rhythm and ran steadily. The horse on the lead never came back.”

“It was a positive effort. A mile is a tough distance to start off a layoff. I know the horse that won had a couple troubled trips here. He was a horse I was concerned about shaking loose.”

Veteran Page McKenneyMr. Jordan, and multiple graded stakes winner Irish War Cry completed the order.

Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds, Conquest Big E is out of the Carson City mare Seeinsbelieven. He improved his record to five wins from 20 starts with $393,515 in earnings.

“I’m very proud of him today,” Green Hurtak said.