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Looking At Lucy Locks up Freshman Boy Honours

By Tom Krish | 21 Dec 2009 |


Joel Rosario has been exonerated. Jockey Rosario, who ended the Hollywood Park fall meeting as the top rider with 37 winners, was cleared of the charge that he did not put forth his best effort in a race in September at Del Mar. It was a race for maidens and Rosario’s mount, a well-backed horse, finished fourth.

After a lengthy hearing, the three-judge panel was unanimous in its ruling while affirming that there was insufficient evidence to show that jockey Rosario violated the rules of the California Horseracing Board relating to unsatisfactory rides and conduct detrimental to racing.

I read a posting that had several items discussing Versaki’s showing in the 2000 Guineas. Is it hard to accept that he was beaten by better horses. Versaki will win several high profile races and a great deal depends on what kind of company he comes up against. There is no substitute to current form and this theory was exemplified by Jacqueline. It is in the nature of the racing game that there is only one winner in a given race. Therefore, it does not necessarily mean that if a fan does not find the horse he has bet on finish worse than what the bet warrants, there is lack of honesty. That is why I took the Rosario episode to be the top part of this story.

There are 444 entries at the first (yearling) stage for the 2011 Investec (Epsom) Derby. The 2011 edition (232nd running) will carry a purse of 1.25 million pounds and will be run on June 4. There were 388 entries for the 2010 Derby. It is heartening to note that there has been an increase.

Hamdan Al Maktoum, twice successful with Nashwan in 1989 and Erhaab in 1994, has 43 entries. His list is headed by a colt by Dynaformer out of Curriculum who was bought for $650,000.

Sheikh Mohammed, Hamdan’s brother, has 40 entries. His challenge is spearheaded by a $2.8 million colt by Storm Cat out of Onaga, the highest price in 2009 in the northern hemisphere. Coolmore, comprising of John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, has 65 interests. The Aga Khan has had many Epsom Derby winners including Shergar. He has 20 entries.

If not entered in the yearling stage, there is an 8000-pound fee to be paid by April 5, 2011. The final stage closes on May 30, 2011 and the fee will be a stiff 75,000 pounds.

Andrew Cooper, Managing Director at Epsom Downs, exuded optimism. “We are pleased to see an upturn in the number of yearling entries for 2011. The value of the Derby has been held at 1.25 million pounds, which is an achievement in these challenging times. This remains the cheapest route to Epsom Downs in June 2011.”

Juddmonte Farms will have a new trainer. He is Bill Mott. Bobby Frankel, long-time trainer for Prince Khalid Abdullah, passed away in November. Humberto Ascanio will keep Midships, a multiple stakes-winning turf horse. Mott keeps his stable out East and arrangements are pending about what horses will go where.

Garrett O’Rourke runs the Juddmonte operation in America. “Bill Mott will be our number one trainer in the US. He will train the majority of of our runners in 2010. It is Prince Khalid’s decision as to the number of horses that will ship to the US from Europe,” O’Rourke said.

Lookin At Lucy ended his freshman season on a triumphant note. The son of Smart Strike was bet to the exclusion of the others in the $750,000 Cash Call Futurity, a Grade I event over 1700 metres on the Cushion track at Hollywood Park on Saturday.

Garrett Gomez stayed in striking range and collared The Program, a stablemate, to take the winning lead midstretch. Looking At Lucy won by three parts of a length in a time of 1 43.30. Out of Private Feeling by Belong To Me, Lookin at Lucy won for the fifth time in six starts and established himself as a top contender for freshman honors. Looking At Lucy’s only loss came in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when he had an unhappy trip and was mugged on the line. Lookin At Lucy’s earnings stand $1,243,000.

That was the fifth win in the Futurity for trainer Bob Baffert. He had four winners in the Saturday card and all of them came in races for two year-olds. Baffert, second in the trainers’ race with 14 wins, reacted: “A hell of a day, huh! It is nice to have young horses. He ran a little bit different. Garrett put him into the race this time, put him on the pace. That’s good for him. He did not have to do a lot. He just cruised around there. You could tell he was in a good spot. That’s probably his best race.”

Jockey Gomez did not conceal his excitement.” I have always known that he was versatile. We could do whatever we want with him. He was travelling super easy when we turned for home. He just waits on horses and only does as much as he has to. He is full of talent and I’m getting more excited about him.”

On Sunday at Hollywood Park, the last day of the 2009 fall meeting, there was another Grade I contest. It was the $405,250 Hollywood Starlet. Blind Luck came away victorious with Rafael Bejarano.

The Pollard’s Vision filly was held up in the rear of the seven-runner field in the 1,700 metre race on the Cushion track. Blind Luck flew past her rivals in the stretch to win by seven lengths in 1 41.96. Turning for home, Blind Luck was four wide and yet, put the race to bed in a few strides. Lucky One is Blind Luck’s dam. Lucky One is by Best of Luck. The 2009 earnings for Blind Luck stand at $709,050.

Blind Luck was third to She Be Wild in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile fillies. She encountered serious road trouble. The Starlet was Blind Luck’s second win at Grade I level. The first win came in the Oak Tree Leaf at Santa Anita. Trained and part-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer, Blind Luck is being pointed to the Las Virgnes and eventually to the Kentucky Oaks. She is now in the reckoning for top freshman girl laurels.

Trainer Hollendorfer said, “That was exciting. I have never seen her move like that. Rafael (Bejarano) worked and got to know her well.”

Jockey Bejarano spoke. “I worked her the last four times and she has been unbelievable. She has been relaxing so well in her works and has been showing a big turn of foot. She did the same thing today.”

John Sadler was the leading trainer at Hollywood Park with 15 winners. Joel Rosario took the jockeys’ title. The Santa Anita meeting begins on December 26. Zenyatta will be paraded and honored.

Carlsbad, winner of six stakes races and possible favourite in next week’s La Brea Stakes, fractured her right ankle during a workout on Saturday. She was euthanized. Trained by Jeff Mullins, Carlsbad, by Rocky Bar out of Kits Peak by Pine Bluff, won seven of 10 races for earnings of $437,126.

Carlsbad won the Hollywood Oaks in June. She set a new mark of 1 14.93 for 1,300 metres at Del Mar in the Grade III Rancho Bernardo. Carlsbad was emerging as one of the top sprinting distaffers. She was second to Informed Decision in October at Keeneland in the Thoroughbred Club of America Oaks. Subsequently, Informed Decision had the beating of Ventura in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Now on to some breeding news that is unusual. There is a stallion in Florida named Wildcat Heir who has sired 39 freshman winners this year. On December 17, Future Heiress, a filly by Wildcat Heir, won a maiden race at Calder Racecourse. The 39 mark ties the record set by Chapel Royal who had 38 winners in America and one in Peru in 2008. Wildcat Heir stands at Brent and Crystal Fernung Journeyman Stud in Ocala, Florida.

Poor weather stopped racing in the East and the Midwest in the US last weekend. There was snow up to a foot in places. A freeze is now complicating matters. I left Chicago two days before the storm hit. It is a different world in Chennai.

Sunday’s racing in Mumbai was very much like a meeting in England or Ireland. With Pat Smuillen in the mix, the Irish invasion is assuming enormous proportions. The British may have left India but their interest in Indian racing remains undiminished.