Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oaks contenders on the track at Churchill

Believe You Can
As promised, here are photos of some of the Oaks fillies from Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Jon Court on Amie's Dini.

And Why Not, Peter Brette (below) up.

Larry Jones on Believe You Can.

D. Wayne Lukas-trained maiden Colonial Empress has started three times, all stakes, with a fifth (most recently), a third, and a fourth. (What's she doing in this race?!)

Eden's Moon

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Derby contenders on the track at Churchill

Union Rags waiting for the track to open after the renovation.

With the Kentucky Derby a week away from today, it was a good morning to visit Churchill Downs and take pictures of the Derby and Oaks horses. Some of the horses went out before the designated Derby/Oaks contender time of 8:30-8:45, and others haven’t shipped in yet. Here are photos of nine of the colts, and tomorrow Ill post pictures of the Oaks fillies.


Tammy Fox on Dullahan.


Mark Valeski. Trainer Larry Jones up.


Prospective tossing his head.


Julien Leparoux on Union Rags (and below); Michael Matz on the pony.

Johnny Velazquez breezing Went the Day Well.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wise and Successful Lisa Danielle

Stretch run of the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland: Wise Dan first, the rest nowhere.
Lisa Danielle gave no indication during her racing career that she was a star broodmare in the making. Cecil Seaman, as agent for Morton Fink, bought the daughter of Wolf Power and the Secretariat mare Askmysecretary from Walmac Int’l, agent, for $29,000 at the 1995 Keeneland September yearling sale. Sent to the barn of trainer Louis Goldfine, the chestnut was unraced at two and started six times at three, recording a third-place finish in a maiden special weight over a mile and a sixteenth at Gulfstream Park and winning the same type of race over a mile at Arlington Park, with four off-the-board finishes.

After having made six starts in the span of less than six months, Lisa Danielle was off the radar for eleven months. When she reemerged in June of 1998, she was about three-and-a-half months in foal to Roy and ran seventh at Churchill Downs for new trainer Steve Morguelan. She never raced again.

Wise Dan about to get his lip tattoo read by the horse identifier.
With one win and $20,120 in earnings, she did not have much of a resume for breeding great success at the time she was first covered. Nor did Lisa Danielle’s pedigree hold much promise -- her unraced dam had produced just one stakes horse, Carsona (by Carson City), who did, at least, place third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Oaks, in which she actually ran fourth of five, beaten nearly 23 lengths, but the fifth-place horse did not finish and the second-place filly was demoted to last. Lisa Danielle’s next dam Laquiola (by Lyphard) had also produced one stakes-placed runner, Saquiace (by Sagace), of Listed quality in France.

Despite being by unfashionable sires, Lisa Danielle’s first foals started her off well and proved her to be capable of consistently throwing hardy, talented runners: Lisa’s Royal Guy (1999 gelding by Roy) won seven races and $182,000 in 61 starts. Our Royal Dancer (2000 filly by Roy) won the West Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park, one of her five wins in 19 starts, and amassed $195,000. Aweemaway (2001 filly by Skip Away) was unplaced, followed by Boss Zach (2003 gelding by Mutakddim), a five-time winner of nearly $170,000. Honor Patti (2004 filly by Honour and Glory) is Lisa Danielle’s only unraced offspring. Courting Elaine (2005 filly by Doneraile Court) won five races and $103,000.

Charlie LoPresti saddles Wise Dan in the special camouflage saddle towel commemorating Military Appreciation Day.
Then Lisa Danielle foaled a pair of Grade 1 horses: Successful Dan (2006 gelding by Successful Appeal) and Wise Dan (2007 gelding by Wiseman’s Ferry). Successful Dan crossed the wire first by a nose in the Clark Handicap-G1 at Churchill Downs on November 26, 2010, but was disqualified and placed third by the stewards. He has won his only start since, an April 6, 2012, allowance at Keeneland, for Fink and Charlie LoPresti and if he stays sound, could be a force to be reckoned with this year. He is credited with two Graded stakes scores, the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland and the Grade 3 Northern Dancer Stakes at Churchill. The six-year-old has raced just nine times, with six victories, a second, and a third.

Also trained for Fink by LoPresti, Wise Dan has already surpassed his older brother: in 15 starts, his nine wins include six stakes, five of them Graded. His biggest success to date came in the nine-furlong, Grade 1 Clark Handicap last November -- if not for Successful Dan’s disqualification, Lisa Danielle would be the dam of back-to-back Clark winners.

Amy LoPresti calms the gelding.
Wise Dan made his five-year-old season debut in the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes on April 22 at Keeneland. Sent off the heavy favorite despite not having raced in five months -- LoPresti is known for his ability to have horses ready to run off a layoff -- the gelding ran an electrifying nine furlongs, dragging his jockey Johnny Velazquez to the front and drawing off powerfully to win in hand by 10 1/2 lengths in 1:46.63, breaking the track record of 1:46.77 while barely taking a deep breath. He became a millionaire, rewarding Morton Fink many times over on his $8,500 stud fee for Wisemans Ferry and initial $29,000 investment in Lisa Danielle.

Prancing in the post parade in the Morton Fink colors under John Velazquez.
There may well be more success to follow: Casino Dan, Lisa Danielle’s 2008 Mutakddim gelding, broke his maiden for Fink/Lopresti at Turfway Park in February. The 18-year-old mare has a 2010 filly by War Chant, named Enchanting Lisa, and was bred to Afleet Alex for the 2012 foaling season.

Though undistinguished on the racetrack, Lisa Danielle is far and away the best producing progeny of South African Horse of the Year Wolf Power, a paternal grandson of Round Table who excelled over a mile and spent his stud career at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Fink’s mare is responsible for foaling two of her sire’s seven Graded winners and one of two Grade 1 winners, the other being two-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Milwaukee Brew. Milwaukee Brew’s dam Ask Anita was one of Wolf Power’s seven Pattern winners, having won the 11 furlong Yerba Buena Handicap-G3 on the turf. Wolf Power’s best daughter Freedom Cry-G1 (bred by Murray West) never had a chance to reproduce herself, as she fractured a leg as a 5-year-old and was euthanized.

Lisa Danielle’s half-sister Carsona became the dam of 2006 Grade 2 winner Siphon City. Another half-sister, Sunup (by Grey Dawn II), produced two Panamanian champions, including 1999 Filly Triple Crown winner Amistad (by Screen King).

Deceptive view: the horses on the screen look much closer than they are, as Wise Dan sprints away from them at the finish.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sights from the Spring Meet at Keeneland

2012 Blue Grass Stakes winner Dullahan.

Trainer Peter Eurton places a reassuring hand on She's Cheeky before the mare ran second in the Grade 1 Vinery Madison Stakes on April 12.

Trainer Andrew McKeever oversees his charges paddock schooling two days before their April 14 races: Daisy Devine, who won the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley...
...and Street Serenade, a three-year-old Street Sense colt who won a maiden special weight.

Last season's two-year-old champion Hansen, prior to the April 14 Blue Grass which was won by...
Dullahan, seen here in the saddling enclosure with his game face on for trainer Dale Romans.
Jockey Kent Desormeaux splashes water on the Blue Grass winner.
Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace parading in the paddock on April 15.
Dayatthespa, prior to winning the April 19, Grade 3 Appalachian Stakes -- the filly's third consecutive stakes win for trainer Chad Brown.
Somali Lemonade, a Grade 3 winner at Keeneland last fall for Michael Matz, about to run second in the Appalachian, her season debut.
Kentucky Derby hopeful Went the Day Well gallops on April 20, the day before breezing at Keeneland for trainer Graham Motion.
This colt threw his rider and went for a solo spin as Went the Day Well was just finishing up on the track.
Grade 2 stakes winner Air Support breezing a half-mile for trainer Shug McGaughey in :48.00 on April 20.
Pachattack was brimming with her sire Pulpit's hot blood in the paddock prior to winning the April 20 Hillard Lyons Doubledogdare Stakes-G3...
...and was even more of a handful for jockey Rajiv Maragh and Graham Motion's assistant David Rock on her way to the track...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Union Rags Breezes at Keeneland

Chadds Ford Stable’s Union Rags breezed a half-mile in :47 2/5 at Keeneland today, galloping out 5/8s in a minute. Under regular morning rider Peter Brette, the Michael Matz colt looked good over the Polytrack in what is expected to be his penultimate pre-Kentucky Derby breeze.

Union Rags and Peter Brette before their work.

Galloping in front of the grandstand before beginning the breeze.
The second time around, working against the clock.

Brette and Union Rags, accompanied by Michael Matz and Messaging, head back to the barn after the work.