- AMERICAN PHAROAH: BLINKERS COME OFF, LIGHTS GO ON
- WISE DAN INJURED, TO MISS BREEDERS’ CUP MILE
- DESORMEAUX TAKES IT ‘DAY-TO-DAY’ IN COMEBACK BID
- DEL MAR TITLE IS ‘MOST SATISFYING’ FOR TEAM BEJARANO
- BAYERN, FED BIZ, SECRET CIRCLE DRILL FOR BAFFERT
‘PHAROAH’ QUIET AS SPHINX, SANS BLINKERS
Bob Baffert is never one to put the cart before the horse. Call him superstitious or just plain clandestine, but the Hall of Fame trainer usually errors on the side of caution when it comes to making premature decisions on announcing where or when his stakes horses will run.
The same goes when rendering opinions on their ability. Ask him to “rank” his horses and you run the risk of a disdainful glare.
There are exceptions, however. Take, for example, American Pharoah, the latest in a seemingly infinite line of exceptional 2-year-olds Baffert has developed through the years.
A son of the Empire Maker stallion Pioneerof the Nile, wearing blinkers, American
Pharoah was a disappointing fifth as the 7-5 favorite in his first race, a 6 ½-furlong maiden allowance test on Del Mar’s Polytrack Aug. 9. In only his second start, in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity at seven furlongs on Sept. 3, the blinkers came off and the lights went on.
The bay ridgling owned and bred by Ahmed Zayat won by nearly five lengths after breaking from the dreaded rail. Next out: a gate-to-wire victory in the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Sept. 27, a “Win and You’re In” steppingstone to the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, also at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 1.
“He came from the farm with high regard,” Baffert said. “I had watched videos of him working there in March and he looked really, really good. When he got here, he was doing everything right.
“We really liked him going down to Del Mar. But when he got there, he wasn’t behaving himself very well. I think it was (because of) the blinkers. As soon as we took the blinkers off (for the Del Mar Futurity) he was a different horse.
“The blinkers were making him a little uneasy, so he misbehaved in his first out. He misbehaved in the paddock, in the warm-up, and he just used himself up. He ran for about three-eighths and stopped (eventually being beaten 9 ¼ lengths).
“After that, we schooled him extensively and he worked really nice. Ever since, there have been no hiccups, he’s behaved himself, he’s a really quiet horse now.”
Until it counts: when the gates open. Then there’s the roar of the jets.
WISE DAN WILL NOT DEFEND TITLE DUE TO ANKLE INJURY
Morton Fink, owner of Wise Dan, the two-time defending Breeders’ Cup Mile winner and reigning two-time Horse of the Year, informed Breeders’ Cup officials Monday morning that Wise Dan has developed a non-displaced fracture at the bottom of the cannon bone of the right front fetlock that will prevent him from seeking a third Breeders’ Cup Mile title Nov. 1 at Santa Anita at the 31st Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Mr. Fink’s statement to the Breeders’ Cup is below:
“As you know, Wise Dan has been preparing to run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
He was scheduled to breeze in a few days and Charlie [trainer Charles LoPresti] checked him over to be sure he was 100 percent. Unfortunately, Charlie noticed some swelling in his ankle and quickly decided to X-ray him to be sure everything was alright. The X-rays identified a non-displaced “half-moon shaped” fracture of the bottom of the cannon bone in the RF [right front] fetlock. This likely occurred in his victory in the Shadwell [Turf] Mile.
“As a result, we have decided to withdraw him from the Breeders’ Cup to allow the fracture to heal. Wise Dan has accomplished a lot in his career so far, and given us endless joy. We would never want to race him unless he is 100 percent. We thank Charlie and Amy [LoPresti] and their staff for everything they have done to get the horse where he is, and for being so conscientious that a little swelling was not overlooked.
Charlie has had tough decisions to make and we are very grateful that he made them in the best interest of Wise Dan. Dr. [Larry] Bramlage recommends that we wait at least
30 days and assess his progress before we make any further decisions. He is seven years old, with 30 starts in his career so we’ll let him show us what to do next.”
A son of Wiseman’s Ferry, Wise Dan added to his enormous stature this year with a perfect four-for-four campaign that was interrupted by colic surgery but resumed without a hitch during the second half of the season. Wise Dan won Keeneland’s Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile in April and the Grade I Churchill Downs’ Turf Classic in May before undergoing emergency colic surgery in May but hadn’t missed a beat since returning. He won his comeback in Saratoga’s Grade II Bernard Baruch in August then earned an automatic Mile berth in Keeneland’s “Win and You’re In” Shadwell Turf Mile Oct. 4. Wise Dan is 23 for 31 lifetime, with 11 Grade I wins and over $7.5 million in earnings.
“We won’t decide if he will return to training until we see if he heals perfectly because he has nothing left to prove,” Fink continued. “This is not a fracture that can be helped with surgery; he has to heal it on his own. We would like to thank everyone for their support and best wishes. Wise Dan is a very special horse to us and to the racing community.”
“We are very disappointed with the news this morning from Morton Fink that Wise Dan will not be able to defend his title before his many devoted fans at this year’s Breeders’ Cup,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO. “Over the course of his brilliant career, Wise Dan has demonstrated extraordinary prowess, grit and determination on the racetrack as a two-time Breeders’ Cup champion and Horse of the Year. Morton Fink and Charlie LoPresti have campaigned a terrific racehorse, and all of us at the Breeders’ Cup wish Wise Dan a speedy recovery.”
PAIN-FREE DESORMEAUX DAY-TO-DAY ON COMEBACK TRAIL
Kent Desormeaux was a visitor at Clockers’ Corner Monday morning, looking and feeling well as he recovers from five fractured ribs and a bruised lung suffered in a post parade mishap in the eighth race on Sept. 28.
“I’m feeling great, no pain, I can breathe like a normal human being and that’s the best part about it all,” he said. “It’s nice to be on my feet. I feel like a lucky man these days.”
Asked when he might resume riding, the 44-year-old Hall of Fame rider and three-time Kentucky Derby winner said, “I’m taking it day to day.”
WINNING DEL MAR TITLE ‘A MIRACLE’ TO TEAM BEJARANO
To the surprise and deep satisfaction of his agent, Joe Ferrer, Rafael Bejarano was the runaway winner of the Del Mar riding title, 42-32, over Kent Desormeaux. It was the 19th Southern California crown for the 32-year-old Bejarano, who was sidelined just over two months recovering from multiple injuries suffered in a riding mishap at Santa Anita on May 10.
“When the Del Mar meet started, I told Rafael it would be a miracle if he ended up being leading rider,” Ferrer said. “He had never been off nine weeks before. The most he’d ever been off was a month, and usually in a month, a horse will run once.
“In nine weeks, they run twice. You can miss riding a horse the first time, and you’ll usually ride it back the second time. But once they run twice, and they win or run second, it’s hard to move the other rider off the mount, I don’t care who you are.
“Loyalties around here, relationships around here, are few and far between. Opening day at Del Mar we won one race for (trainer) Mike Pender, but after that it was a struggle. We won the title, but this was the worst meet we ever had at Del Mar. In money won, we had two-and-a-half million. We usually do over $3 million.”
That aside, an 11th-hour surge turned a close race into a runaway.
“We were about two in front with 10 days to go,” Ferrer said. “I looked at the new (condition) book, and I told Rafael, ‘If the race goes down to the last day, we’re going to get beat,’ because the last day we had no business.
“Friday and Saturday, we were loaded. So we won four one day and six the next, and after that, it was all over. But I went into that meeting with the mindset that I would be satisfied to be among the first three.
“I thought all the horses we’d been riding would come back to us immediately, and they didn’t. It took time. We lost a lot of good horses. So to me, of all the meetings that I’ve won as an agent, that was the most satisfying.”
FINISH LINES: Fog hovered over the track at Santa Anita until 7:30 this morning, when it lifted like someone threw a switch. Boom! Sun’s out. Bob Baffert had a busy session, working Breeders’ Cup candidates Bayern (Classic), Fed Biz (Dirt Mile), and defending Sprint winner Secret Circle. Bayern worked five furlongs in company and was clocked in 58.40, while stablemate American Pride was timed in 59.80. Fed Biz worked six furlongs in 1:12.40, a tad quicker than Declassify‘s 1:12.80, while Secret Circle and stablemate Pimpernel each went five furlongs in 58.80 . . . Breeders’ Cup Sprint hopeful Big Macher went six furlongs under regular rider Tyler Baze in a bullet 1:11.60 for trainer Richard Baltas. “He worked really well,” Baltas said of the $20,000 claim that went on to win the Grade I Bing Crosby Stakes. “He was very aggressive. He galloped out in 23 and four (1:23 4/5 for seven furlongs) and 1:38 for the mile.” . . . Jockey Fernando Perez has parted company with agent Vince DeGregory and hired Tommy Ball . . . Newfound Gold and Xuang Feng ran first and second in Sunday’s first race. The veteran geldings weren’t that far apart in the betting, either. Each went off at 8-5, with $21,788 wagered on Xuang Feng and $21,621 on Newfound Gold, a difference of only $167 . . . Santa Anita is dark Tuesday and Wednesday. Racing resumes Thursday at 1 p.m.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, Oct. 12)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||59||8||7||7||14%||$284,662|
|Robert Hess, Jr.||12||3||1||2||25%||$92,580|