CTHS HORA SALE DATE CHANGE

CTHS BC wishes to announce

2022 CTHS HORSES OF RACING AGE SALE

Hastings Racecourse

DATE: Saturday, Apri l9th, 2022 – 12 Noon

PREVIEW    Saturday, April 2nd, 2022 – 12 Noon

Deadline for Entries – TBA

For further information contact the CTHS BC Division – www.cthsbc.org

 

 

 

Say The Word Heads Sunday’s Grade II, $225,000 San Marcos Stakes At A Mile And One Quarter On Turf

VETERAN GELDING SAY THE WORD HEADS SUNDAY’S GRADE II, $225,000 SAN MARCOS STAKES AT A MILE AND ONE QUARTER ON TURF

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 27, 2022)–At the top of his game at age seven, trainer Phil D’Amato’s venerable gelding Say the Word, fresh off a big come from behind victory in his most recent start, heads a compact field of six older horses going a mile and one quarter on turf in Sunday’s Grade II, $225,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita.

Third to Say the Word in the Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup Nov. 26, Friar’s Road came up a nose short as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade III San Gabriel Stakes here on Dec. 26 and will hope for better luck going an extra furlong.

Irish-bred Lincoln Hawk, although trying graded stakes competition for the first time since running a close fifth at 28-1 five starts back in the Grade II Del Mar Derby, could certainly qualify as a “now” horse as he comes off an impressive allowance tally over the course at a mile and one eighth.

With a short field in prospect and what appears to be a dearth of front-running speed, eight-year-old Acclimate, a highly accomplished California-bred gelding, could be long gone on the San Marcos lead.

Throw in San Gabriel winner Bob and Jackie, who will be tasked with keeping Acclimate busy early, and the San Marcos looks to be very competitive affair.

Under a well-timed ride from Kent Desormeaux, Say the Word, an Ontario/Canadian-bred son of More Than Ready, flew from far off the pace to collar Acclimate late going a mile and one half on the Del Mar Turf and won the Hollywood Turf Cup going away by one length while earning a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

A Group I winner in his final Canadian start at Woodbine nine starts back on Oct. 18, 2020, Say the Word has won two of his eight starts for D’Amato, including a Grade II stakes at Keeneland on April 17, 2021.  Owned by Agave Racing Stable and Sam-Son Farm, he’ll be ridden back by Desormeaux as he bids for his fourth graded stakes win and his eight overall victory from what will be his 34th career start.

Off as the 3-5 favorite with Irad Ortiz in the Grade III San Gabriel, Friar’s Road stalked the early pace, wheeled three-deep turning for home and just missed in what was his fifth start of 2021.  Third, beaten 1 ¼ lengths by Say the Word two starts back in the Hollywood Turf Cup, Friar’s Road flew late to be third, beaten a head by multiple Grade I winner United three starts back in the Grade II John Henry Turf Championship here on Oct. 2.

With Flavien Prat taking over, look for Friar’s Road, who seeks his first graded stakes win, to get plenty of pari-mutuel attention.  Owned by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren, Friar’s Road, a 5-year-old horse by Quality Road, is trained by Michael McCarthy and brings an overall mark of 12-2-4-2.

Although his Bob and Jackie comes off a gutty nose win in the Grade II San Gabriel, trainer Richard Baltas may have an Ace in the hole with Lincoln Hawk, who surged late to take a first condition allowance on Dec. 27.  Patiently handled by Juan Hernandez, Lincoln Hawk is one of several who will have to hope for a realistic pace on Sunday.  Owned by Rockingham Ranch and Supreme Racing, Lincoln Hawk, who has won two of his seven stateside starts with D’Amato, is 12-2-2-2 overall and will be trying a mile and one quarter for the first time.

If he’s up to the challenge at age eight, conditions could be to order for front-running Acclimate as it doesn’t appear anyone can match strides with him early.  A gate to wire winner of the mile and three quarters turf Grade III San Juan Capistrano Stakes five starts back on June 19 of last year, Acclimate, a three-time graded winner, will be handled for the seventh consecutive time by Rick Gonzalez.

The lone Cal-bred in the field, Acclimate, who is by the Eclipse Award-winning Unusual Heat stallion Acclamation, is trained by Phil D’Amato and is owned by the Ellwood Johnston Trust, Timmy Time Racing, LLC, Brooke Bartlett, Ryan Bartlett, Michael Goritz and Kenneth Tevelde.  With an overall mark of 29-7-6-5, he has earnings of $683,872, $306,000 of which was earned at age seven last year.

Owned by Calvin Nguyen and Joey Tran, Bob and Jackie, who was off at 5-1, took the Dec. 26th San Gabriel in gate to wire fashion, managing to hold off Friar’s Road by a nose.  A 6-year-old horse by Twirling Candy, he notched his first graded stakes win and his fourth overall stakes tally in the San Gabriel under a perfect ride from Jose Valdivia, Jr., who rides back on Sunday.

With an overall mark of 16-5-5-1, Bob and Jackie, who will be trying a mile and one quarter for the first time, will hope to keep Acclimate honest in the early going.

THE GRADE III SAN MARCOS WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER

Race 7 of 9  Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT

  1. Dicey Mo Chara–Abel Cedillo–120
  2. Lincoln Hawk–Juan Hernandez–120
  3. Say the Word–Kent Desormeaux–124
  4. Friar’s Road–Flavien Prat–120
  5. Acclimate–Ricardo Gonzalez–122
  6. Bob and Jackie–Jose Valdivia, Jr.–122

DERBY BAR AND GRILL PEGASUS DAY CONTEST FORMS

Hello Everyone, here is the contest for this week and this one is a beauty. Of the 10 races this week 8 of them are stakes races, 7 of them graded. The highlights this week include the G3 Southwest which carries 10 Kentucky Derby points and all eyes will be on Knicks Go to see if he can repeat in the  G1 $3M Pegasus World Cup. We’re expecting a big turn out this week so please have your picks in early.

ALL PICKS MUST BE IN BY 11:00 AM SATURDAY MORNING NO EXCEPTIONS
Drew Forster
The Derby Bar & Grill
604-536-2978

Emerald Downs 2022 Live Racing Dates

EMERALD DOWNS ANNOUNCES 2022 DATES

AUBURN, Wash. (November 23) – Emerald Downs has announced a 52-day live racing season in 2022, with opening day Sunday, May 15, and closing day Sunday, September 18.

All 52 race days are scheduled on weekends, composed of 19 Sundays, 18 Saturdays, and 15 Fridays. Post times are 2:15 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and 7 p.m. Fridays. The traditional Fireworks Spectacular, Sunday, July 3, features a 5 p.m. post.

Emerald Downs President Phil Ziegler says the emphasis on weekend racing is for fans and horsemen alike.

“We’re excited to return to our more traditional schedule with Friday nights and Saturday afternoons,” Ziegler said. “This will be great for the fans.”

Emerald Downs offers 15 consecutive Friday cards beginning June 3, marking the first time the track has offered Friday racing since 2019. Opening week features a lone card on Sunday, May 15, followed by Saturday/Sunday weekends on May 21/22 and May 28/29. Closing weekend also is a two-day race week on Sept. 17/18.

The 2022 season—the 27th at Emerald Downs—will feature a new horsemen incentive program, to be announced next week. The stakes schedule, featuring the 87th running of the Longacres Mile (G3), will be released in December.

-##-

 

Colonel Liam Returns Seeking Title Defense in Pegasus Turf (G1)

Joined by Stakes-Winning Stablemate Never Surprised in $1 Million Event

Among Seven Graded-Stakes Worth $5.2 Million in Purses Saturday

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Robert and Lawana Low’s Colonel Liam, thrilling winner of last year’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) in his graded-stakes debut, will end a 239-day gap between starts as he launches his comeback while attempting to defend his title in the richest turf race of the winter Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Neither previous Pegasus Turf winner –subsequent 2019 Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar or Zulu Alpha (2020) – returned for a title defense.

“It would be awesome,” Pletcher said of back-to-back Pegasus Turf victories. “We feel good about everything going into it. We’ll just keep our fingers crossed for a good trip and, hopefully, he can come with another big effort.”

During Tuesday’s post-position draw inside Gulfstream’s Sport of Kings Theater, Colonel Liam was made the narrow 3-1 favorite among 11 stakes winners, nine of them graded, including fellow Grade 1 winners Channel Cat and Hit the Road. Second choice on the morning line at 7-2 is stablemate Never Surprised, with Sacred Life (6-1) and Hit the Road (8-1) the others listed at single-digit odds.

Following the Pegasus, Colonel Liam went on to capture the Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) and dead heat for first with Domestic Spending in the Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs. A 5-year-old son of Liam’s Map, a two-time Grade 1 winner on dirt for Pletcher, Colonel Liam has not raced since finishing eighth to Domestic Spending in the 1 ¼-mile Manhattan (G1) last June at Belmont Park. He got some time off starting in late summer and returned to the work tab in early December at Palm Beach Downs.

The fourth running of the Pegasus World Cup Turf presented by Baccarat and the sixth renewal of the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) presented by 1/ST BET on dirt, both at 1 1/8 miles, and the inaugural $500,000 TAA Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf (G3) presented by PEPSI comprise the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series, headlining a blockbuster 12-race program featuring seven graded stakes worth $5.2 million in purses.

First race post time is 11:30 a.m. EST. NBC will provide live national coverage from 4:30 to 6 p.m. EST.

Colonel Liam will become one of only five horses to run in the Pegasus Turf more than once, a group led by California-based Next Shares, who took part in each of the first three editions. Cross Border, third behind Colonel Liam and Pletcher-trained stablemate Largent last year, as well as Sacred Life and Channel Cat, respectively fourth and 10th in 2020, also return this year.

“I think over the years we’ve done pretty well in layoff situations, so I think it was important that we got the works into him that we did and we were fortunate enough that everything went according to the way we mapped it out,” Pletcher said. “So, I feel good about that. You never know if they’re going to be quite as sharp off a layoff, but he’s certainly trained well enough and has run well fresh before. Hopefully we can get the same type of effort. He’s given us every indication that he’s come up to it as good as ever.”

Among his rivals in the Pegasus Turf will be 4-year-old Never Surprised, a front-running type that is coming off a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Tropical Park Derby Dec. 26 at Gulfstream, the same race Colonel Liam won in his Pegasus prep.

“When we came down looking at the Tropical Derby, we were hoping he’d run well enough to earn his way into the Pegasus. He was able to do that,” Pletcher said. “I think Never Surprised is coming in with a live chance. We’ll see how much speed is in the race, but he’s kind of shown that he’s able to get into that high cruising speed and keep going. It’ll be a fun race to watch.”

Riding a two-race win streak that includes the 1 1/16-mile Gio Ponti last November at Aqueduct, Repole Stable’s Never Surprised has never finished worse than second in seven career starts. He won the 2020 Central Park in his second lifetime trip and ran second in the 2021 Kitten’s Joy (G3) at Gulfstream, Saranac (G3) and Hill Prince (G2).

“Never Surprised is a free-running horse and he’s got good natural speed. The key is just trying to get him to settle and relax,” Pletcher said. “I think he made a real step forward last time in the Tropical Derby. It was a very impressive performance. We’ll let him do his thing and hopefully he won’t overachieve early on. If he’s able to just relax and settle in and get away with a decent pace, then I think he could be dangerous.”

Irad Ortiz Jr., aboard Colonel Liam for last year’s Pegasus Turf, gets the return call from Post 6, while Championship Meet-leading rider Luis Saez is named on Never Surprised from the far outside Post 12.

The Pegasus Turf will be the 31st career race for Calumet Farm homebred Channel Cat, a millionaire son of late grass champion English Channel. He became a graded winner in the 2020 Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga and a Grade 1 winner in the 1 3/8-mile Man o’ War last May at Belmont.

Unraced since finishing second by a neck after setting the pace in the 1 3/8-mile Red Smith (G2) last November at Aqueduct, 7-year-old Channel Cat (12-1) has been working steadily at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, for his return.

“We couldn’t ask him to be doing any better. His final piece of work was last Thursday and it was probably the finest piece of work he’s ever done with us,” trainer Jack Sisterson said. “He came out of the breeze in good shape, and he just really seems to be getting bigger and stronger and faster and he should be going the other way because he’s getting older. It’s quite remarkable. We’re looking forward to Saturday.”

Joel Rosario, widely regarded as the favorite to earn his first Eclipse Award as champion jockey for 2021, will ride from Post 10.

D K Racing, Radley Equine Inc., Taste of Victory Stables, Rick Gold, Tony Maslowski and Dave Odmark’s Hit the Road, 5, strung together four consecutive wins between May 2020 and March 2021 capped by the Thunder Road (G3) and Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita. He has raced 12 times, the last 11 at eight furlongs, and is coming off back-to-back thirds in the Del Mar Mile (G2) and City of Hope Mile (G2), the latter Oct. 2.

Based in California, Hit the Road (8-1) was purchased privately by trainer Dan Blacker and Australian bloodstock agent Craig ‘Boomer’ Rounsefell. The son of More Than Ready has six wins and ventured east once before, running fifth in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) last April.

“He’s the best horse I’ve ever trained. Hopefully there’ll be more like him to come, but, he’s a really special horse,” Blacker said. “It meant a lot that myself and Craig Rounsefell bought him ourselves at the sale and watched him develop into a great horse. I always had a confidence that he could be a top-level horse, but you never know. To have him go and win a Grade 1, it was more than I could have hoped for, a real thrill. I’m just thankful to the owners to give me the chance to buy horses like him.”

Hit the Road will have the services of Tyler Gaffalione from Post 5.

Trainer Mike Maker has had two Pegasus Turf starters each of the past two years, winning with Zulu Alpha and finishing third last year with Cross Border, who is part of Maker’s quadruple threat this year along with Atone, Field Pass and recent acquisition Flavius. A triple stakes winner for breeder Juddmonte Farms, Flavius (15-1) was purchased for $230,000 at Keeneland’s November breeding stock sale and turned over to Maker at Gulfstream, where the 7-year-old ridgling has breezed eight times over the main track. Paco Lopez will be up from Post 3.

Kirk Wycoff’s Three Diamonds Farm owns both Cross Border and Field Pass. An 8-year-old millionaire son of English Channel, Cross Border (15-1) has the most experience among Pegasus Turf horses with 39 previous starts, 11 of them wins including the 2021 Bowling Green and Dec. 18 Prairie Bayou over Turfway Park’s all-weather surface last time out. Winless with a second and two thirds over Gulfstream’s turf, Cross Border gets the services of Reylu Gutierrez from Post 11.

Field Pass (10-1) has more stakes wins than any of his Pegasus Turf rivals with seven, five of them in graded-company, the most recent in the 1 1/16-mile Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) Nov. 27 over the Del Mar turf. He also owns four Grade 3 victories and won in his only previous try over Gulfstream’s grass course in the 2020 Dania Beach. Umberto Rispoli rides from Post 9.

Jordan Wykoff’s 5-year-old Atone (20-1), by Into Mischief, will be making his second straight graded-stakes start and third overall after finishing second to fellow Pegasus Turf contender Doswell in the 1 1/8-mile Fort Lauderdale (G2) Dec. 18 at Gulfstream. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, up for a one-mile optional claiming allowance win Nov. 21 at Aqueduct, rides back from Post 2.

Coming into the Pegasus Turf off a last-out win over the track is Joseph Allen’s homebred Doswell (10-1), who captured the Fort Lauderdale by 1 ½ lengths Dec. 18 for trainer Barclay Tagg. Doswell ran a troubled second in last year’s Fort Lauderdale and Tagg opted to skip the Pegasus and run Doswell in the 1 ½-mile W.L. McKnight (G3) instead, where he finished third.

“He came out really, really well. Not a blemish on him. He’s happy, eating well and he hasn’t missed a breeze since. We feel good about him,” Tagg said. “If he can get to where he can relax and be up close, then I think it’ll work out fine.”

Junior Alvarado, up in the Fort Lauderdale, rides back from Post 7.

Live Oak Plantation homebred March to the Arch (20-1) will give U.S. and Canadian Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse his first starter in the Pegasus Turf. The 7-year-old son of Arch is a six-time stakes winner, including Grade 2 victories in the 2020 King Edward and 2019 Wise Dan. He is two-for-five over Gulfstream’s turf course, breaking his maiden in 2018 and winning the Sunshine Millions Turf in 2020, and was sixth in the one-mile Artie Schiller on the grass at Aqueduct in November to cap 2021.

Edwin Gonzalez will be aboard from Post 4.

Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael Caruso’s Sacred Life (6-1) beat Field Pass by a head in the 1 1/8-mile Knickerbocker (G3) last October at Belmont, then fell short by the same margin in the Seabiscuit. Overall, the 7-year-old ridgling has finished third or better in 16 of 22 starts with seven wins, including the 2017 Prix Thomas Bryon (G3) in his native France.

Jose Ortiz rides from Post 8.

Completing the field is Clipper Logistics’ Space Traveller, a British-bred 6-year-old that in 2019 won the Jersey Stakes (G3) in England and Boomerang Salonaway Stakes (G2) in Ireland. He is winless in four U.S. tries, all last year, running fourth in the Mr D (G1) shortly after arriving stateside. Second in the Woodbine Mile (G1) and fifth in the Keeneland Turf Mile (G1), Space Traveller made a belated run to be fourth, beaten 3 ¾ lengths by Doswell, in the Fort Lauderdale.

“He seems like he came out of it good. We were a little disappointed that he didn’t run better, but to be fair to him he had his excuses. He was drawn wide and there was a bit of lack of pace, as well, I think,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “I think we could have done with a little bit of a better setup, plus he was coming off a layoff. He’s been doing really well since, so I’m hoping he can turn it around on the big day.”

Irish jockey Jamie Spencer, based in England, is named to ride from the rail.

Knicks Go Back for Pegasus World Cup Title Defense

GULFSTREAM PARK, HALLANDALE. FLORIDA

 2021 Champion Set for Speed Showdown with Life Is Good

7 Graded Stakes Grace Saturday’s 12-Race Card

Late Pick 5, Late Pick 4 Pools Guaranteed at $750K

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Knicks Go has returned to Gulfstream Park for a highly anticipated title defense in Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by 1/ST BET, which promises to provide Korea Racing Authority’s Thoroughbred star with an opportunity to close out a remarkable racing career in style.

The Pegasus World Cup headlines Saturday’s 12-race program that will also feature the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat and the $500,000 TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G3) presented by PEPSI, as well as four other graded stakes, during the annual celebration of Thoroughbred racing, entertainment, fashion and dining. First-race post time is set for 11:30 a.m.

NBC will nationally televise the Pegasus World Cup Day festivities from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The all-stakes late Pick 5 (Races 8-12) and the late Pick 4 (Races 9-12) will both offer guaranteed gross pools of $750,000. The all-stakes Rainbow 6 will span Races 7-12. All four muti-race wagers will be anchored by the Pegasus World Cup, a 1 1/8-mile feature for older horses.

Knicks Go, who was installed as the 6-5 morning-line favorite in a field of nine older horses after drawing the No. 1 post position Tuesday, produced a dazzling 2 ¾-length victory in last year’s Pegasus World Cup that would set the tone for a dominating campaign that is widely expected to earn him the 2021 Horse of the Year title next month. The 6-year-old son of Paynter, who is coming off an impressive 2 ¾-length triumph in the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar, is riding a spectacular four-race winning streak in which he has beaten his opponents by a total off 21 ½ lengths while flashing his brilliant natural speed from start to finish. Knicks Go was named the 2021 Longines World’ Best Racehorse during a virtual ceremony Tuesday at the National Horse Racing Museum in Newmarket, England.

It remains to be seen if the Brad Cox trainee will be able to defend his title in his usual front-running fashion before starting his stallion career. This year’s Pegasus World Cup has also attracted CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm LLC’s Life Is Good, who has won six of seven career starts from gate to wire, including a scintillating 5 ¾-length victory in the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Del Mar.

“We’re not really going to deviate from what we’ve done in the past. [Life Is Good] is a very fast, brilliant horse. We’re not going to let him have his own way, and I think he’s probably not going to let us have our own way. We’re going to break running, hopefully get to the lead. We’re going to be very aggressive to get him there,” Cox said. “It’s the same approach we took in the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll see how it goes. He’s proven at a mile and an eighth and he does like the surface there. He likes the configuration of the racetrack there at Gulfstream – he proved that last year. We’re just going to come out of there running and see what happens.”

Life Is Good, who was rated second at 7-5 in the morning line after drawing the No. 4 post position, was top rated on last year’s Road to the Kentucky Derby when he won his first three starts on the front end impressively but was sent to the sidelines with an injury. After being transferred to Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, the son of Into Mischief was upset by Jackie’s Warrior by a head in the seven-furlong Allen Jerkens (G1) at Saratoga in late August. He came back to capture the one-mile Kelso (G2) at Belmont by 5 ½ lengths and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in front-running style.

“You’ve got two super talented horses with similar running styles, so it makes for a very exciting race. It’s going to be very exciting to see how the pace unfolds,” Pletcher said. “Speed is our horse’s weapon and we’re not looking to take it away from him, and I’m sure the Knicks Go team knows what works for their horse. We’ll just see how it plays out.”

Life Is Good, who hasn’t run beyond 1 1/16 miles, is in the same position that Knicks Go was in last year when he attempted to carry his abundant speed 1 1/8 miles for the first time. Knicks Go has gone on to prove himself to be just as effective or even more effective at longer distances.

“He’s older and wiser. I think last year we probably had a bit of a question mark if he could perform at a mile and an eighth. He’s obviously proven that having won two Grade 1s at a mile and an eighth and a Grade 1 at a mile and a quarter last year,” Cox said. “Distance isn’t an issue, [whereas] there was a little bit of a question mark [last year]. He’s very sound and doing phenomenal.  We know him better this year. We have even more confidence this year than we had last year.”

Pletcher has expressed confidence in both Life Is Good’s natural speed and his ability to carry that speed beyond 1 1/16 miles, over which he won by eight lengths last year in the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita.

“With Life is Good you’re talking about a horse that, if you wanted to, could probably be the best sprinter in the country. He’s just naturally very quick and very fast,” Pletcher said. “He’s also showed in the Dirt Mile that he has the ability to go at a high cruising speed and keep going, and that’s what we’ve seen in his training. Everything he shows us is he’ll run further.”

Joel Rosario has the return mount aboard Knicks Go, while Irad Ortiz Jr. has retained the mount on Life Is Good.

The connections of the other Pegasus World Cup entrants are obviously hoping that a blistering speed duel will develop between Knicks Go and Life Is Good and soften them up for a possible upset.

Tracy Farmer’s Sir Winston is no stranger to pulling off upsets on Thoroughbred racing’s main stage. The Mark Casse-trained 6-year-old won the 2019 Belmont Stakes (G1), in which favored stablemate War of Will, who had won the Preakness Stakes (G1) three weeks earlier, finished off the board. The son of Awesome Again won one race from his next five starts over a period of two years, before returning this year in top form, winning two races, including the Valedictory (G3) at Woodbine last time out, and finishing a close second twice in four starts.

“He needs a lot of things to go his way,” said Casse, who awarded the mount aboard his Belmont winner to Edwin Gonzalez. “He’s feeling really well, and we believe he deserves a chance.”

Known for success with longshots, most notably 2006 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Lemons Forever (47-1), trainer Dallas Stewart is scheduled to saddle a pair of graded stakes-winning starters in the Pegasus World Cup – Estate of James J. Coleman Jr.’s Chess Chief and Charles Fipke’s Title Ready.

Chess Chief, like Title Ready, has a come-from-behind running style, which he most recently employed for a victory in the Tenacious Stakes at Fair Grounds. The 6-year-old son of Into Mischief, who is rated third in the morning line at 10-1, captured the 2021 New Orleans Classic (G2) at the Pegasus distance of 1 1/8 miles. Title Ready, a 7-year-old son of More Than Ready, was victorious in the 2021 Louisiana Handicap (G3). Reylu Gutierrez has the call on Chess Chief, while Tyler Gaffalione has the mount aboard Title Ready.

Steve Moger’s Stilleto Boy brings a resume with a pair of Grade 1 placings into the Pegasus World Cup. The Santa Anita-based 4-year-old gelding was second in the Awesome Again (G1) before finishing fifth behind Knicks Go in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The son of Shackleford most recently finished third behind emerging superstar Flightline in the seven-furlong Malibu (G1). Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux has the mount.

AJ Suited Racing Stable LLC’s Commandeer, a late-developing 4-year-old son of Street Boss, enters the Pegasus World Cup off back-to-back 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance scores at Laurel Park and Churchill Downs. Trainer Jimmy Toner has awarded the mount to Julien Leparoux.

Mark Breen’s Endorsed returns to two-turn racing Saturday after finishing a fast-closing second in the seven-furlong Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream last time out. The Mike Maker-trained 6-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro will be ridden by Umberto Rispoli.

John Grossi Racing Stable Corp.’s Empty Tomb, runner-up in the 1 1/8-mile Queens County at Aqueduct last time out, rounds out the field. The Robert Falcone Jr.-trained son of Speightstown will be ridden by Paco Lopez

Pegasus World Cup Notes

The $30 million bronze Pegasus statue at South Florida’s Gulfstream Park

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A dazzling showdown of speed in Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by 1/ST BET at Gulfstream Park is being anxiously awaited in advance of a showdown between defending champion Knicks Go and Life Is Good.

Knicks Go has won eight of 10 starts since being transferred to trainer Brad Cox – all achieved in gate-to-wire style. However, it has taken more than speed for Knicks Go to become Longines 2021 World’s Best Racehorse.

When a horse with superior speed runs at longer distances, his chances of success may hinge more on how he handles the turns than how fast he is.

“He runs the turns well. He can kind of clear off on the first turn. He’s a horse that when he hits his left lead he doesn’t slow down much. He bounces on that left lead going into the turn and creates some separation on the first turn,” Cox said. “And on the far turn, he just puts them away. I think from the half-mile pole to the three-eighths pole, he gets a little distance. The jocks on the other horses have to go into chase mode and by the time they get to the quarter pole, he’s still kind of cruising along. They can’t catch him.”

Channel Cat’s Future Rests on Pegasus Turf

His performance in Saturday’s $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat will do more for Channel Cat than top what is already a long list of career accomplishments.

The 1 1/8-mile event for 4-year-olds and up will help determine the future of the 7-year-old Calumet Farm homebred, a son of their late stallion English Channel, the turf champion of 2007 and prominent grass sire who passed away last November at age 19.

Trainer Jack Sisterson said the connections have had initial conversations about Channel Cat beyond the Pegasus, when he will be making his 31st career start.

“We’ll see how he runs on Saturday,” Sisterson said. “We pre-entered him for the race at Saudi and there’s potentially Dubai. It’s great that the farm likes to run them while they’re doing well.

“Unfortunately, with the loss of English Channel and Channel Cat being a son of English Channel, could he be a replacement?” he added. “I don’t really get too much involved with the breeding side of it. There were talks of it [being his last race], but it’s kind of been left open to see how he runs. It’s up to him to tell us, and he’s showing us signs right now that he definitely wants to still run.”

Channel Cat became a Grade 1 winner in the 1 3/8-mile Man o’ War last spring at Belmont Park, just shy of two years after first finding graded success in the 2019 Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga, when he was trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher. Sisterson took over Channel Cat’s training in the spring of 2020.

“He’s a cool horse. He came in great shape off Todd, and I just didn’t want to ruin what Todd had done with him, so I just didn’t get in his way,” Sisterson said. “He’s an older horse, he knows his job, and he loves to get out there and train. If he’s not out there by 5:30 [a.m.], he shouts the barn down. If he’s not the first walk in the afternoon, again he shouts. We just try to keep him happy and not get in his way.”

Channel Cat has raced exclusively on turf throughout his career, with six wins, four seconds, five thirds and $1,456,022 in purse earnings. Other stakes wins have come in the 2019 Bald Eagle Derby at Laurel Park and Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs. He has also placed in six graded stakes, including the 2019 Sword Dancer (G1) and United Nations (G1).

In his most recent start, Channel Cat set the pace in the 1 3/8-mile Red Smith (G2) before being caught late by Serve the King and finishing second by a neck Nov. 20 at Aqueduct under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

“Going into his last race his previous races were disappointing, so I had to change something up. So, I said we’ll slap the blinkers on him and he responded well to them,” Sisterson said. “John said he didn’t need them, but it didn’t hurt him at the same time. I was just concerned he was going to be a bit lackluster like his previous races. I wanted him to be forward in the race so we put them on, but I’m probably going to pull them off. There’s going to be a ton of speed in the Pegasus.”

Sisterson has been training Channel Cat accordingly, working him in company behind horses. Joel Rosario, expected to earn his first Eclipse Award as the champion jockey of 2021, has the call on Channel Cat from Post 10 in a field of 12. He is listed at 12-1 on the morning line.

“Channel Cat does have speed, and he will jump and go forward, but if Joel seems to think there’s a speed duel going on he can be smart and take back,” Sisterson said. “I wanted to breeze him that way and have a target in front of him, and his last breeze was incredible.”

Sisterson has been impressed with the way Channel Cat is heading into his sixth season of racing. This will be his second time in the Pegasus after running 10th following some early trouble in 2020.

“I’m sort of going over the videos comparing him to last year, and to me from a physical standpoint he looks bigger and stronger this year. His coat’s in better shape, and he’s really come into it better than ever, certainly better than I’ve ever had him,” he said. “He’s going to have to step forward again to compete against this caliber of horse, but I think on his day he’s capable of doing it.”

Sir Winston Acting Like a Kid Again

Tracy Farmer’s Sir Winston may not always be the most pleasant horse to be around, but Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse’s team couldn’t be happier that the 6-year-old veteran is still hanging around, even on his cantankerous days.

“He could be the most docile horse, but he can also be very mean. You never really know what you’re going to get with him, but he’s pretty cool to be around,” said Nick Tomlinson, Casse’s assistant at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. “He’s always been kind of a character, but we’re just very grateful to have him.”

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Sir Winston is acting like a kid again and ready to take on the best horses in training in Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by 1S/T BET at Gulfstream Park.

“We’re very grateful to Mr. Farmer to even bring him back and give him another chance,” Tomlinson said. “Hopefully, he’ll be rewarded in the Pegasus.”

Sir Winston, who is rated fourth at 12-1 in the Pegasus morning line, reached to top of the Thoroughbred world at 3 when he pulled off an upset in the 2019 Belmont Stakes (G1). The son of Awesome Again’s career had stalled for a couple of years, but he will enter the Pegasus in the best form since his 3-year-old season, coming off a sharp 2021 campaign that was capped with a victory in the Valedictory (G3) at Woodbine. He’s also giving as much attitude to horses on the track as he can sometimes give to people around Casse’s barn.

“When he’s getting around horses, he’s getting a lot more aggressive in his works,” Tomlinson said. “We’re very happy with the way he’s coming into it. I know we’re a longshot, but we definitely deserve to be in there.”

Serum Chemistries Can Help Diagnose Racehorse Poor Performance

Abnormal enzyme, protein, and other levels in horses’ blood might indicate an underlying health issue.

Serum Chemistries Can Help Diagnose Racehorse Poor Performance
When a racehorse’s performance begins to decline or doesn’t meet expectations, the owner and trainer might ask their veterinarian to examine the horse for a medical cause. If clinical examination and diagnostics such as endoscopic and ultrasound exams don’t reveal a cause, the next step might be laboratory testing, including complete blood counts (CBCs) and serum chemistry panels. 

During the 2021 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Convention, held Dec. 4-8 in Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas J. Divers, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVECC, Rudolph J. and Katharine L. Steffen Professor emeritus of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in Ithaca, New York, explained how veterinarians can use these tests to evaluate poor performance in horses.

Common Findings Indicative of Poor Performance

Blood, serum, and plasma can tell us a great deal about some horses’ decline in performance.  The white blood cell count from a CBC, for instance, can reveal whether a horse is battling an inflammatory disease while increases in the muscle enzymes aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and creatine kinase (CK) can be indicative of muscle disease.

Other important substances to assess include gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), serum or plasma proteins, bilirubin, total carbon dioxide (CO2), creatinine concentrations, glutamate dehydrogenase (GLDH), and sorbitol dehydrogenase (SDH) activity. Divers reviewed some of these and what to look for during his presentation.

AST and CK The horse’s muscle enzymes are some of the most important performance-related chemistries to evaluate, he said. Marked increases in AST and CK activity in racehorses are most commonly due to recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (RER), a genetic muscle disorder found in 5-10% of Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds.

“If you have high muscle enzymes in the chemistry report and the clinical signs (stiffness, shortened stride, and painful muscles after racing) to go with it, then you can be fairly certain a myopathy is causing the poor performance on that day,” Divers said. If RER is the possible cause, consider implementing diet (TheHorse.com/184186) and training changes for these horses to reduce their risk of further muscle injury.

GGT Increased GGT (predominantly a liver enzyme) activity is another common abnormality in racehorses. Divers said it might be accompanied by clinical signs such as weight loss and fatigue in a small percentage of horses, but most horses appear perfectly normal.

Study results have shown increased GGT activity to be associated with cumulative racing and training days, with levels returning to normal when horses stop or decrease training. Therefore, researchers believe GGT increases might be caused by maladaptation to training and reducing a horse’s work can lower his levels. Scientists are also investigating medical treatments to decrease oxidative stress or improve bile flow.

If, in addition to GGT, other liver-specific enzymes have moderate to marked increased activity, Divers advised veterinarians to consider hepatic diseases such as viral hepatitis or a toxic hepatopathy. Mild increases in SDH are common in racehorses and likely of no clinical significance. Serum bilirubin concentration might be increased from hemolysis, anorexia, or liver dysfunction.

“Approximately 5% of healthy horses have serum bilirubin values above the laboratory reference range, so if the clinical exam and all other laboratory results are normal, the increased bilirubin in that horse should not be overinterpreted as a medical problem,” said Divers.

Serum proteins Abnormal levels of various serum proteins can point to underlying health issues. Horses with high serum proteins and globulins—particularly those that are underperforming and showing signs of weight loss—might have some form of chronic inflammation, such as a lung abscess, said Divers.

“Decreases in albumin and total protein generally indicate an intestinal disorder,” he added.

High serum amyloid A concentrations suggest acute inflammation. “Serum amyloid levels usually increase minimally or not at all after racing, and if they do go up slightly, they should be back to normal by Day 3,” he explained. “If they’re not back to normal by Day 3, you need start looking for an inflammatory disease,” such as an infection in the lungs or inflammation in other soft tissues.

Lactate and bicarbonate These values’ effects on racing performance are more difficult to interpret. Higher-than-expected lactate values immediately after racing or abnormally slow return to normal can point to performance-limiting health issues.

“High lactate values could result from cardiopulmonary disorders and increased anaerobic glycolysis,” said Divers. “Measuring blood lactate levels during treadmill exercise testing can be more helpful than a single sample taken after racing.”

Increases in bicarbonate are often associated with synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (“thumps,” the rhythmic contraction of the horse’s abdomen typically caused by electrolyte imbalances).

Take-Home Message

Serum chemistry analysis should be part of the diagnostic work-up on poorly performing horses when a thorough history and clinical exam, including on-site ultrasound or endoscopy, don’t reveal a cause.

“The most common abnormalities noted on chemistry analysis of poor performance horses are increased activity of muscle enzymes (CK and AST) and increased GGT activity,” said Divers.

About The Author

mm

Alexandra Beckstett, Managing Editor of The Horse and a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as Assistant Editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse.