Can Tepin Be Beat In Woodbine Mile?

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 15th September 2016

Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile is a marquee turf event on top of a huge card of action. And despite plenty of champions and would be champions at the race track near Toronto all eyes are on 5 year old mare Tepin. Most concede that she’s the best turf horse in the world at the moment which makes her the ‘horse to beat’ in the Woodbine Mile. She’s been on an impressive roll over the past year plus but there’s one big question about Saturday’s race–her three month layoff since her last race.

Her connections–owner Robert Masterson and trainer Mark Casse–gave her a really challenge with her most recent start. Tepin shipped to England in June for the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal Ascot meet. She was off Lesix and didn’t like the soft ground at the Royal Ascot course but she still managed to win by a half length in a gutsy effort for her regular jockey, Julien Leparoux. Since then, she’s been back at Saratoga working for most of the summer under the supervision of assistant trainer Norm Casse. He’s guardedly optimistic: “She’s always run well fresh. In that way, I’m confident. Her works were the way that we like them to be. All indicators are she’s ready. I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Tepin has won 7 straight races and 10 of her last 12. Her current run started last October with a win in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland. She really got the attention of the racing world with a win over 11 male horses in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile. She was named the Eclipse Champion Female Turf Horse and she might be setting herself up for a repeat with her performance so far in 2016. She’s won a couple of stakes events at Tampa Bay Downs followed by the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley by five lengths at Keeneland and the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile.

The 20th running of the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile will be contested with a field of eight and is the ‘main event’ on a huge card of racing that also includes the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf, the Grade 2 Canadian, and the Grade 3 Ontario Derby. The Woodbine Mile and Canadian are Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers. The Mile has produced four previous Breeders’ Cup Mile winners, including Wise Dan and Court Vision.

Meadowlands To Test Lower Takeout Rate

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 12th September 2016

Horse players continually advocate for a lower takeout rate at North American horse tracks. Despite their advocacy the takeout rate has gone up more often than not. That’s going to change this Fall at the upcoming all-turf Thoroughbred meet at the Meadowlands at New Jersey run by Monmouth Park. Every bet on the meet will have a 15 percent takeout. That equals the lowest takeout in the country, offered by Suffolk Downs at their six day meet this year. Last year, takeout at the 14-day Meadowlands meet was 17 percent for straight bets (win,place,show), 19 percent for exactas and daily doubles; 25 percent for pick threes, trifectas, and superfectas; and 15 percent for pick fours and pick fives.

Dennis Drazen, advisor to the ownership group of Monmouth Park said that the move was an ‘experiment’ prompted by the constant request from horse players for a lower takeout rate: “Everybody keeps talking about reducing takeout to a fairer number. We began talking about this last year and we think it makes sense to do it now to see what we come up with.” The meet will be the fourth operated by Monmouth Park at the Meadowlands track. It begins September 28 and runs through October 19 and has, on balance, been considered a success due to the large fields in the races among other factors. Last year, average field size at the Meadowlands meet was 9.9 horses per race, well above the overall 2015 national average field size of 7.85 horses per race. It also has been successful at attracting the betting public with the handle growing by 15% or more every year.

Lower takeout is extremely popular with players and seen as a way to get more money in their hands which more often than not gets ‘re-bet’. The thinking is that the greater ‘churn’–or re-betting action–will make up for the lower percentage takeout rates in terms of track revenue. Due to the disjointed nature of horse racing, however, nothing is easy as it should be. Simulcasting operations make less money with a lower takeout rate and in the past have refused to carry signals from tracks that lower their percentages.

Update On Injured Jockey Laruent Beaucamp

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 11th September 2016

Jockey Laurent Beaucamp has been at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune City since he suffered an injury in a riding accident at Monmouth Park on September 5. He remains in the Level 1 Trauma Wing at the hospital. His girlfriend, Pamela Miller, has been at the facility since the injury and his parents are arriving from France at the end of the week. His most recent operation was a 7 hour surgery intended to stabilize his spine. He suffered several serious injuries in the spill including three broken vertebrae that were pressing on his spine, a severe fracture of the left arm, fractured ribs and a punctured lung. He underwent five hours of surgery immediately after the accident to stabilize him and to repair the punctured lung and lacerated liver. Upon his transfer to the Jersey Shore Medical Center he had further surgery to close the incision on his torso. The recent surgery was his third procedure since suffering the injury.

The 41 year old French native was aboard Irresistible Me in the sixth race at Monmouth on September 5. The optional claiming sprint was run on the turf track and Beaucamp was trying to position his near the inside rail. His mount appeared to make contact with the temporary rail throwing Beaucamp hard to the ground. Irresistible Me then proceeded to trip over the rail and fall. He was initially taken to the Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch but transferred to the Jersey Shore facility due to their superior trauma unit. Details have been few since the accident but the latest report is that after several surgeries the jockey remains in critical condition.

Beaucamp raced in the United States from 2008 to 2013 before heading back to Europe. He returned to the US earlier this year had one victory in ten races at the time of the accident. Ironically, his lone victory came aboard Irresistible Me in a $15,000 claiming race at Delaware Park on July 20. He has also galloped horses at Parx for trainer Lupe Preciado, the trainer of Irresistible Me. The horse reportedly avoided serious injury in the riding accident that injured Beauchamp. The most recent word on his condition is that he was taken to a farm owned by his trainer and recovering there.

Bendable Beats Favored Enola Gay In Beverly Lewis Stakes

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 10th September 2016

One of the more accurate cliches in horse racing refers to the fact that the favored horse doesn’t always win: “That’s why they run the races”. This was the case at Los Alamitos last weekend when relatively unheraled Bendable got a very strong start and a great ride from jockey Mike Smith to dominate the prohibitive 1-5 race favorite, the previously undefeated Enola Gay.

Bendable enjoyed her first success in a stakes race with the win. She won her first two starts at Santa Anita in June and July (a maiden race and an optional claimer) and finished second in an optional claimer against older fillies and mares at Del Mar on July 27. Jockey Mike Smith was aboard Bendable who navigated the six furlong course in 1:08.84. Smith says that a strategy session with Bendable’s trainer Richard Mandella gave him the tactical information he needed to win–she likes to be on the lead: “He said, ‘Don’t take anything away from her if it comes easily. I was surprised. I was very loaded and when I asked her, she kicked it in.”

Enola Gay was never in contention for the lead but managed to finish second 3 1/4 lengths ahead of 35-1 third place finisher Everqueen and 2 1/4 lengths behind the race winner. Owner Nick Alexander concedes that Enola Gray was likely done in by a tactical misstep. His horse was in good shape to make a challenge at the turn but jockey Tyler Baze was unable to get to the front. Alexander in retrospect realized that she should have gone to the front at the start: “The plan was to be with the other filly. She’s a nice filly. We ran a good race. We just got beat.”

Enola Gay had been on a nice run this summer. She won the Melair Stakes and Fleet Treat Stakes for California-breds in May and July. Unfortunately, she missed a start in the Grade 3 Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar in late August because of illness. Trainer Phil D’Amato said prior to the race that he was confident that Enola Gay had recovered from her illness and he reiterated afterwards that it didn’t play a factor in her defeat.

Breeders’ Cup Winner Tepin Targets Woodbine Mile

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 9th September 2016

It’ll be a big weekend for turf racing at Woodbine with five graded stakes races and four paid entries to the Breeders Cup on the line. The main event of the weekend is one of the marquee turf events in North America–the Grade 1 $1 million Woodbine Mile at Toronto’s Woodbine Race Track. Not only will this be the highlight of the Woodbine card this weekend but is very likely the biggest race in North America this weekend–both in terms of money and prestige.

Heading the field for the Woodbine Mile is 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Tepin. Tepin has had a light but successful schedule this year–she’ll be making her first start since June when she won the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at England’s Royal Ascot meet. She’s been preparing for the Woodbine Mile at Saratoga with trainer Mark Casse. In her final workout before the race she went four furlongs in 49.71 seconds on Saratoga’s turf training track. Trainer Casse is very pleased with her preparations: “She’s doing super, just super. She’s training as good as she ever has, if not better.”

Tepin will face what looks like seven challengers in the Woodbine Mile. Three are European shippers– Mr. Owen finished sixth in last year’s Woodbine Mile and is back for another shot. Mutakayyef has finished ‘in the money’ in his three 2016 starts, all in England, including two wins. Arod might go off as the long shot in the field but is coming off a nice third place performance on August 27 in the Group 2 Doom Bar Celebration Mile at Goodwood. Three are local horses–Glenville Gardens, Passion for Action, and Tower of Texas. Of that group, Glenville Gardens is probably the biggest threat to Tepin. Glenville Gardens enters on a three race winning streak including a prep race for the Woodbine Mile, the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes. In the Play The King Stakes he beat both Tower of Texas and Passion for Action. Also likely for the Woodbine Mile is Full Mast who was the post time favorite in the Play The King Stakes but could do no better than fourth.

Texas Chrome Takes a Hard Fought Win In Super Derby

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 8th September 2016

Texas Chrome won the Grade 3, $400,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs but it wasn’t easy. He pulled even with the front running Dalmore in the final turn and won a battle down the stretch to take the victory by 1/2 length.

The win was the sixth stakes victory of Texas Chrome’s career but definitely the biggest. It was also the richest career payday for his connections–owner Danny Keene, trainer J.R. Caldwell, and jockey C.J. McMahon. His connections deserve a ton of credit as they drew up the perfect tactical plan which Texas Chrome executed perfectly. Jockey McMahon positioned Texas Chrome just off the pace set by runner up Dalmore who set fractions of 24.59 seconds for the opening quarter and 49.13 for the half-mile. Dalmore went three wide in the final turn which gave Texas Chrome his opportunity. A clever inside move by jockey McMahon got him even at the top of the stretch. Texas Chrome won the battle down to the wire and got his head in front at the right time for a win.

Jockey McMahon recounted the move that put his horse in a position to win: “Coming up to the five-sixteenths pole, I saw a hole open up and I opted to go for it and he showed me he was game to go and so was I. He accelerated and he finished phenomenally for me.”

Texas Chrome earned his way into the Super Derby with a victory in the Prelude Stakes one month ago. Trainer Caldwell said that his horse came out of the Prelude in great shape: “He came out of the Prelude so well. As well as he came off of his last race, and the way he’s been training, and he had a trip across the track, I didn’t think they could outrun him. You hate to be that confident, but I knew I had the horse. Everything went right for the horse and it was our day.”

Next up for Texas Chrome is the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park. Texas Chrome went off as the 2-1 third betting choice and paid $6.20, $3, and $2.60. Dalmore paid $3 and $2.40 for his second place finish while Whateverbodywants returned $3.80 to show.

Kentucky Derby To Award Automatic Berth To Japanese Horse

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 7th September 2016

The Kentucky Derby is an internationally significant horse race that always attracts fans–as well as horses, jockeys and trainers–from all over the world. This year UAE Derby winner Lani became only the second Japanese based horse to run in the race but he definitely won’t be the last. In fact, Churchill Downs wants to raise the profile of the ‘Run For The Roses’ in Japan. Japanese gaming regulations strictly limit the number of out-of-country races that can be simulcasted at the country’s racing facilities. As a result, the Kentucky Derby simulcast is not available in Japan and Churchill Downs would like a greater presence in the horse racing crazy country.

The Kentucky Derby is no different with horses entered that are based or were bred from all over the world. Starting with the 2017 Kentucky Derby the top combined finisher in two Japanese stakes races will automatically qualify for the race. Both are run at Tokyo Racecourse–the Cattleya Sho for 2-year-olds on November 26 and the Hyacinth for 3-year-olds. Japanese horses have become increasingly competitive on the international scene in recent years and the Japan Racing Association wants to continue that trend. Churchill Downs is happy to help in hopes that they can leverage the arrangement into opportunities in the Japan gaming marketplace.

Under the Kentucky Derby qualification system horses earn points in designated races for two and three year olds. The 20 horses with the most points earn qualification. The Japanese horse berth is technically the first ‘automatic berth’ awarded outside of the points qualification system. For this reason, it could generate some controversy. In reality, the winner of the UAE Derby gets an ‘automatic berth’ since it awards 100 qualification points to the top finisher. Many fans and horsemen don’t like that either, arguing that the level of competition in the UAE Derby doesn’t justify it having the same stature as races like the Santa Anita Derby or Wood Memorial.

At the end of the day, however, Churchill Downs has every right to set the qualifying conditions for their race. Horsemen might grumble about it but with little recourse to change it won’t likely make it a huge issue.

Jockey Laurent Beaucamp Suffers A Riding Injury At Monmouth

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 6th September 2016

Jockey Laurent Beaucamp is in critical but stable condition at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune City recuperating from injuries sustained in an accident at Monmouth Park on Monday. Immediately after the incident he was transported by ambulance to the Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch but later transferred to the Jersey Shore Medical Center due to Grade 1 trauma care center.

The 41 year old native of France was riding Irresistible Me at Monmouth on Monday in the sixth race, an optional claiming sprint was on the turf track. Beaucamp was trying to guide his horse to make a move along the inside rail. It isn’t exactly clear what happened to cause the accident but his mount appeared to make contact with the temporary rail and then stumble over it, throwing Beaucamp hard to the ground. The horse then tripped again, this time falling to the ground himself.

Beaucamp was rushed to the intensive care unit at Saint Barnabas/Monmouth Medical Center. The initial injury diagnosis was extensive and serious: three broken vertebrae that were causing pressure on his spine, a severe fracture of the left arm, fractured ribs and a punctured lung. Once at the medical facility, he underwent five hours of surgery to stabilize his condition including a repair of his punctured lung and lacerated liver. Since arriving at the Jersey Shore Medical Center he has undergone additional surgery to close the incision on his torso and to stabilize he broken left arm with a metal plate. His broken vertebrae will also need surgery though it’s not known when that will take place.

Beaucamp campaigned in the US from 2008 to 2013 before heading back to Europe. He returned to the US earlier this year and was 1 for 10 since–ironically, his lone victory came aboard Irresistible Me in a $15,000 claiming race at Delaware Park on July 20. He has also galloped horses at Parx for trainer Lupe Preciado, the trainer of Irresistible Me. As for Irresistible Me the good news is that his injuries didn’t appear to be life threatening. Whether he’ll be able to race again is not yet known. At present, he’s resting at his trainer’s farm with further evaluation of his injuries and prospects for future competition to take place at a later date.

Bob Baffert’s Klimt Takes The Del Mar Futurity

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 5th September 2016

Experienced horse owner Kalim Shah has had many victories in the sport but he’s wanted something that might seem insignificant the the outsider–a painted lawn jockey. He finally got one on Monday as his Klimt earned the win in the Grade 1, $300,345 Del Mar Futurity. For Klimt’s trainer Bob Baffert, he took his 13th Del Mar Futurity win in 21 tries. Klimt was the second favorite among race bettors and covered seven furlongs in 1:21.80. Rafael Bejarano was the jockey.

After the race, Baffert praised the quality of horses he has to work with and made reference to Shah’s ‘lawn jockey’ accomplishment: “We’re fortunate to have these good horses, and the clients who step up to buy them. We’ve made good draft picks. What a way to end the meet. Kaleem always wanted one of those jockey statues.” Baffert is referring to Del Mar’s tradition of painting the lawn jockeys in the paddock area in the colors of the winners owners of the Pacific Classic, Del Mar Debutante, and Del Mar Futurity. Shah’s Dortmund had finished third in the Pacific Classic but he had to withdraw his filly American Gal from the Debutante prior to the race. Klimt took care of business, making short work of post time favorite Straight Fire to take the win by 4 1/4 lengths. What’s next for Klimt isn’t known at the moment but the long range goal is to enter him in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Baffert is big on Klimt’s potential thinking he’ll improve at longer distances: “We always thought he’d be better going two turns. He’s got a great mind, will sit off horses.”

Baffert’s previous Del Mar Futurity winners comprise a very impressive list: American Pharoah (2014), Rolling Fog (2012), Drill (2011), Lookin at Lucky (2009), Midshipman (2008), Icecoldbeeratreds (2002), Officer (2001), Flame Thrower (2000), Forest Camp (1999), Worldly Manner (1998), Souvenir Copy (1997), and Silver Charm (1996).

The race was marred by tragedy as Chasing Aces was pulled up in the stretch after suffering a slab fracture of the left knee. He was vanned off and had to be euthanized. Trainer Peter Miller tried to make sense of what happened: “It probably happened when he ducked in. The knee slabbed and collapsed. The vets said they hadn’t seen anything like that in years. The humane thing to do was put him down. I’m heartbroken, devastated.”

Jockey Edwin Maldonado Injured In Training Spill

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 4th September 2016

The mainstream sports fan would never include jockeys among the ‘toughest athletes in sports’ but horse racing aficionados know the ‘real deal’. For the men that ride the horses, being a jockey is a highly challenging, competitive and potentially dangerous job. Jockeys face a training regimen similar to professional fighters with one big exception–they have to ‘make weight’ every day. Even though they’re in phenomenal condition they have to work among a number of animals that weigh thousands of pounds.

Even though they take every precaution to stay safe even the best jockeys are not immune to injury. Edwin Maldonado found that out the hard way as he was injured in a training injury at Del Mar early on Sunday morning. The horse that Maldonado was working veered strongly left coming out of the gate and took the jockey right into the rail which witnesses say that he hit very hard. Maldonado was immediately taken by ambulance to Scripps La Jolla Hospital in nearby La Jolla, California.

His agent,Sarah Wolfe, provided an update via text message indicating that Maldonado had suffered a collapsed lung and broken ribs. At the time of her update, he was undergoing an operating room procedure to insert a chest tube to help him breathe easier. The situation isn’t life or career threatening but did require some invasive action to immediately stabilize the 33 year old rider. No updates have been issued on Maldonado’s condition since the original report but this is likely a ‘no news is good news’ situation. In most jockey injury situations the priority is the privacy and tranquility of the patient. Updates are usually only issued if the situation becomes dire which is thankfully not the case here.

The injury is an setback for Maldonado who has been trying to regain top ten status in the highly competitive Southern California jockey rankings. At the time of his injury, Maldonado had won three races from 73 mounts at the current running summer meet at Del Mar. Maldonado was fourth in the jockey standings at the winter/spring and spring/summer meets at Santa Anita. Maldonado has won three track riding titles with the most recent coming in the 2013 spring/summer meet at the now defunct Hollywood Park where he tied with Rafael Bejarano.