ACCELERATE – by Vanessa Ng (


The elite horses get ready for Breeders’ Cup

There has been a ton of horses retired or injured in the last month and that has cut down the number of stars still in training in the world of horse racing. The Breeders’ Cup Classic, usually the best older horses vs the best 3-year-olds, is struggling to get a good field with Justify retired. This weekend on both coasts we will find out who is confirmed at the top of the heap.

DIVERSIFY – Vanessa Ng (

Lauren Evans and Ralph M. Evans’ New York-bred millionaire Diversify (Bellamy Road – Rule One by Street Cry) will vie for his second straight victory in the 100th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup against a field of eight on Super Saturday at Belmont Park.

Carrying an all-fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the 1 ¼-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup is one of four stakes and three Breeders’ Cup qualifiers on Saturday, along with the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic for the Turf and the Grade 1, $350,000 Vosburgh for the Sprint. The Gold Cup, carded as Race 10 on Saturday’s 11-race program, will be broadcast on Belmont Park Live 4-6 p.m. ET on MSG+.

A 5-year-old gelding trained by Rick Violette, Jr., Diversify is coming into the Gold Cup off three straight wins, including the one-mile Commentator for New York-breds in May and the Grade 2 Suburban at 1 ¼ miles on July 7 during the Belmont spring/summer meet.

Following his 6 ½-length Suburban victory, Diversify’s connections planned to wait until the Grade 1 Woodward on closing weekend at Saratoga Race Course, but a five-furlong bullet breeze on July 29 prompted a redirection to the Grade 1 Whitney. The eleventh-hour switch was rewarded with an impressive gate-to-wire victory as the 3-2 favorite over a sloppy and sealed track, crossing the wire 3 ½ lengths ahead of multiple Grade 1 winner and reigning New York-bred Horse of the Year Mind Your Biscuits.

Last year, he won a pair of New York-bred stakes, capped by an 11 ½-length romp in the Evan Shipman at Saratoga, and successfully stretched out to 1 ¼ miles for the first time with a gutsy one-length victory in the 2017 Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

“The Whitney was a last-minute decision, no question, but we went there because he was doing so well and everything was exceptional going into it,” said Violette. “Skipping the Woodward basically gave us another couple weeks to let him chill a little bit, refuel his tank. It gave us extra time to not really rest but feel out the horse and get us back to our best race.

“There’s a lot of marbles on the table. A big race is a big race and there’s some nice horses in there,” he added. “He’s had three very, very good races and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he can handle an off racetrack. He’s a very good racehorse, he’s fit, and the time since the Whitney should give us a fresh horse going into this.”

Diversify will be ridden by his regular jockey, Irad Ortiz, Jr., from post 6.

Diversify could have some pace competition from Godolphin’s Group 1 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow, making his second U.S. start for trainer Saeed bin Suroor. The 4-year-old Irish-bred colt completed his serious training for the Gold Cup Wednesday morning with an easy four-furlong breeze over the muddy Belmont main track in 52.94 seconds, picking up the pace late to cover the final quarter-mile in 25 1/5.

Thunder Snow’s first trip to North America resulted in a disappointing non-run in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, where he began bucking shortly after leaving the gate and was pulled up by jockey Christophe Soumillon on the front side of Churchill Downs. After the Derby, Thunder Snow won the 2017 Group 1 Prix Jean Prat on the turf in France and Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge in February at Meydan Racecourse.

He earned a 111 Beyer Speed Figure for his World Cup victory, taken in frontrunning fashion by 5 ¾ lengths in track record time over 2017 Travers and Pennsylvania Derby winner West Coast on March 31. In his only start since then, Thunder Snow set the early pace in the Group 1 Juddmonte International before fading to eighth on August 22 at York.

“We’re excited to get him back to the dirt,” said Tommy Burns, bin Suroor’s traveling manager. “He was running well in the U.K. on the grass in Group 1s and he did win a Group 1 in France on heavy ground in Saint-Cloud Racecourse, but he really enjoys the dirt, so we’re happy to see him back on it.”

Soumillon has the return call. The pair will break from the outside post 8.

A pair of 3-year-olds exiting the Grade 1 Travers on August 25 at Saratoga in Mendelssohn and Gronkowski, both facing older horses for the first time.

Mendelssohn, second in the Mid-Summer Derby to Catholic Boy, will make his fourth straight U.S. start for champion European trainer Aidan O’Brien. An 18 ½-length winner of the Group 2 UAE Derby in March, the bay Scat Daddy colt finished last of 20 following a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby, contested over a sloppy track in May at Churchill Downs, and was third as the 3-2 favorite in the Grade 3 Dwyer on July 7 at Belmont prior to the Travers.

Gronkowski, who finished a late-closing second to Triple Crown winner Justify in the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes in June, will look to rebound following a dull eighth-place finish in the Travers. Gronkowski, a 3-year-old colt by Lonhro named for New England Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, began his career in Great Britain, winning four straight races on synthetic tracks before transferring to trainer Chad Brown’s barn this spring.

“He was doing great heading into the Travers, the only time he didn’t do well was in the [race],” said Brown. “The track just got him that day.”

Ryan Moore will ride Mendelssohn from post 3, while Jose Ortiz will be aboard Gronkowski, breaking from post 2.

Trainer Todd Pletcher will be represented by ocularly-challenged Patch, exiting a fifth-place finish in the Woodward on September 1. The popularly one-eyed Union Rags colt has hit the board in each of his two previous starts at Belmont, finishing third in 2017 Belmont Stakes and winning a 1 1/16-mile allowance by a neck in May.

Patch will have the services of Luis Saez from post 4.

Rounding out the field for the 100th running of the Jockey Club Gold Cup are Discreet Lover, a sneaky third in both the Suburban and Whitney this summer before fading to a 12th-place finish in the Woodward last time out for owner-trainer Uriah St. Lewis; Uno Mas Modelo, entering the Gold Cup on a three-race win streak at distances of 6 ½ and seven furlongs; and Carlino, a 1 ½-length winner of an optional claiming contest at 1 1/8 miles for trainer Mark Hennig on August 26.

Santa Anita opens it’s fall meeting and also has a Super Saturday of major stakes races with the two top names in the older horse division set to compete:
America’s top rated older horse, Accelerate (Lookin at Lucky – Issues by Awesome Again), and last year’s Eclipse Champion 3-year-old, West Coast, are set to face off at a mile and one eighth in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita. One of four Grade I, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Races on Saturday, the winner of the Awesome Again, which attracted a field of six 3-year-olds and up, will earn a fees-paid berth into the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3.

Trained by John Sadler and a winner of three Grade I stakes (all at a mile and a quarter) this year, including a record setting 12 ½ length score in the mile and a quarter Pacific Classic Aug. 18 at Del Mar, Accelerate is the early favorite to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Bob Baffert’s West Coast, idle since running second in the Grade I Dubai World Cup March 31, broke his maiden in his second start at Santa Anita in March, 2017 and counts the Grade I Travers Stakes in 2017 as his biggest career win.

Owner: Hronis Racing, LLC
Trainer: John Sadler
A 5-year-old full horse by Lookin At Lucky, he has truly flourished as an older horse, evidenced by his four graded stakes scores this year: The Grade II San Pasqual here on Feb. 3, the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 10, the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita May 26 and the afore mentioned Grade I Pacific Classic Aug. 18. With regular rider Victor Espinoza going to the sidelines due to injury in July, eastern-based Joel Rosario was aboard for the first time in his most recent start and will ride him back on Saturday. With a lifetime mark of 20-8-5-5, Accelerate has earnings of $2,312,480 and is undoubtedly the horse to beat in the Awesome Again.

Owner: Gary & Mary West
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Although idle since running second in the Grade I Dubai World Cup March 31, Baffert has proven time and again that he can win races of this magnitude off of works alone, evidenced by McKinzie’s score in last Saturday’s Grade I Pennsylvania Derby. A winner of five consecutive races last year, culminating in rousing Grade I tallies in the Travers (Aug. 26) and Pennsylvania Derby (Sept. 23), West Coast was subsequently a close third behind eventual Horse of the Year Gun Runner in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 4 and was second to Gun Runner again in this year’s Grade I Pegasus World Cup Invitational Jan. 27, a race in which he earned a career-top 117 Beyer Speed figure. By Flatter out of the Honour and Glory mare Caressing, West Coast will be reunited with Mike Smith, who hasn’t ridden him since his last win, which came four starts back in the Pennsylvania Derby.


Woodbine’s 32-race Friday-Sunday racing days features an Ontario-bred stakes race, the Ontario Damsel, and Ontario sired race, the Classy ‘n Smart.
Both races are for fillies or fillies and mares.

The Damsel is headlined by Woodbine Oaks winner DIXIE MOON, who will love 1 mile on the grass after getting passed late in the 10 furlong Wonder Where Stakes in her most recent race. Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry’s good filly will be odds on to get back on the winning track on Saturday.

That day will also feature the Lady in Red Starter allowance, a race for all chestnut fillies and mares.

The $50,000 dash at 7 furlongs on Tapeta has highweight UNSEEN ANGELS, from the red-hot Norm McKnight barn meeting up with NORTHERN FERN and BELLA FIGURA.

As part of Saturday’s live racing card, fans can meet members of the Woodbine jockey colony in the New Player Zone on the second floor of the Grandstand prior to the first race from 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Those in attendance can also enter for a chance to receive a $1,000 Win bet for the Lady in Red Handicap by registering with guest experience representatives in the Grandstand on Saturday.

Other Lady In Red festivities include red wine tasting, courtesy of Mark Anthony Wines featuring Mission Hill wines, and tote bag giveaways in the Dining Room.

Chestnut horses can be liver chestnut or more coppery in colour. Are they hot heads like red heads?

*Apprentice jockey DECLAN CARROLL rides his first race on Sunday aboard the Mark Casse trainee Mr Cheerful. Declan is the son of Casse assistant David Carroll and he has been working for the Casse stable.



Thundering Blue

Crystal Ocean favoured but may run in Arc

Nominations for the spectacular Canadian International and E P Taylor Stakes Oct. 13 are shortly and overseas, possible starters are already attracted betting interest.

Some of the American horses listed below are entered in the Joe Hirsch at Belmont tomorrow:

Crystal Ocean 5/2 – not nominated
Thundering Blue 10/34/1 > 7/2
Mirage Dancer 9/24/1
Desert Encounter 7/110/1 > 6/1
Sadler’s Joy 14/1
Glorious Empire 16/114/1 – not nominated
Spring Quality 16/1
Hi Happy 25/1
Oscar Nominated 25/1




Horse – Owner – Trainer

Arklow – Donegal Racing, Bulger, Joseph and Coneway, Peter – Brad H. Cox

Bandua – Calumet Farm – Jack Sisterson

Bigger Picture – Three Diamonds Farm – Michael J. Maker

Call Provision – Klaravich Stables & William H. Lawrence – Chad C. Brown

Can’thelpbelieving (IRE) – Albert Frassetto – H. Graham Motion

Dee Ex Bee (GB) – Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed al Maktoum – Mark Johnston

Desert Encounter (IRE) – Abdulla Al Mansoori – David Simcock

English Illusion – 4U Thoroughbred Racing Stable Inc. – Sylvain Pion

Eziyra (IRE) – His Highness The Aga Khan – Dermot K. Weld

Focus Group – Klaravich Stables & William H. Lawrence – Chad C. Brown

Funtastic – Three Chimneys Farm – Chad C. Brown

Hi Happy (ARG) – La Providencia, LLC – Todd A. Pletcher

Horseplay (GB) – Cliveden Stud – Andrew Balding

Johnny Bear – Colebrook Farms and Bear Stables, Ltd. – Ashlee Brnjas

Khan (GER) – Darius Racing – Hank Grewe

Markitoff – Three Diamonds Farm – Michael J. Maker

Mekhtaal (GB) – Al Shaqab Racing – H. Graham Motion

Mustajeer (GB) – David Spratt – Ger Lyons

Neepawa – Chiefswood Stable – Mark E. Casse

Oscar Nominated – Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey – Michael J. Maker

Sadler’s Joy – Woodslane Farm – Thomas Albertrani

Soglio – Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey – Michael J. Maker

Souper Tapit – Live Oak Plantation – Mark E. Casse

Spring Quality – Augustin Stable – H. Graham Motion

Teodoro (IRE) – Bellman, Laurence and Ingram, Caroline – Tom Dascombe

Thundering Blue – Clive Washbourn – David Menuisier

Tiz a Slam – Chiefswood Stable – Roger L. Attfield


Only 35 days 7 hrs 26 mins until the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs!

Here is first look at the contenders for the 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs. Pre-entries will close at noon on October 22 for all the races and be announced on October 24. Final entries close at 10am and the post position draw will be held at 4pm on Monday October 29 in downtown Louisville at Equestricon in the newly renovated Kentucky International Convention Center.

The Breeders’ Cup will have a total of 14 Grade 1 races spread over two days of racing with $30 million in purse money on the line. New in 2018, Friday November 2nd is billed as “Future Stars Friday” featuring all the Championship races for juveniles on the same card, including the inaugural $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint and highlighted by the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Saturday November 3rd will have nine races for older horses headlined by the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at 1 1/4 miles. The Championships will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, for the ninth time. Tickets will probably sell out early, but if you still want to attend and don’t wish to pay a premium on the resale market, there will be general admission for both days. Note that unlike at the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, the infield is not available to general admission.


Have you checked this out yet?



Refusal to leave starting gates means your horse is trying to tell you something. Earlier this year we saw Canadian owned INSIDE STRAIGHT, a graded stakes winner of over $800,000 refused to leave the gates 3 times in four races for Canadian Robertino Diodoro. The son of Super Saver has not worked or raced now since the summer and perhaps has been retired.

The reasons for a horse that starts to refuse are many: pain, fear or simply sour of the racing game.

The exciting grey sprinter from down-under, Chautauqua, was retired Thursday evening:

by Ben Dorries

Michael Hawkes was in tears and Tommy Berry choked up as Chautauqua received a rousing farewell from The Valley crowd after a grand career ended on Friday night.

In a scene which proved there aren’t too many fairytale endings in sport, the great grey stood in the barriers like a statue one last time.

Just as Chautauqua had moved to the brink of snaring the last slot in The Everest – a deal which was 99 percent done had he jumped in the trial between races at The Valley – he refused to move from the gates again.