Monthly Archives: July 2017

Nominations For The August 5th Virginia Day At Laurel Park Are In

This Saturday, August 5th, is the second special Virginia-bred day of racing at Laurel Park this year! A four-pack of $75,000 stakes will make their debut — the William M. Backer, Meadow Stable, Hansel and Camptown Stakes. Nominations closed this past Thursday with 20, 17, 27 and 21 horses respectively in the quartet. A pair of $30,000 one mile maiden events will also be featured — one for males and one for fillies/mares.

The third event — Commonwealth Stakes Day — is slated for September 30th and includes the Bert Allen, Brookmeade, Punch Line, Oakley and Jamestown Stakes. A pair of open Grade 3 stakes will also be carded — the $200,000 Commonwealth Derby and $150,000 Commonwealth Oaks. Here is a recap of action from the first Virginia-Bred stakes day at Laurel on June 24th when the Edward Evans, Nellie Mae Cox, White Oak Farm and Tyson Gilpin Stakes were contested

In the $75,000 Edward Evans Stakes, Special Envoy edged Rose Brier in a thrilling rematch from the same event a year ago when Rose Brier got the best of Special Envoy. The 6 year old Stroll gelding remained a close second to Rose Brier through most of the one mile race until deep in the stretch. Jockey Daniel Centeno led the late charge atop Special Envoy, who edged his nemesis by a nose in 1:34.88. Trained by Arnaud Delacour and bred by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone, Special Envoy won for the first time since March, 2016. He is out of the Cozzene mare, Diplomacy. The victory boosted his bankroll to $207,010. Rose Brier had been undefeated in his last four Virginia-bred stakes. Speed Gracer finished third.

Special Envoy (outside) battles with Rose Brier (inside) in the $75,000 Edward Evans Stakes. photo by Jim McCue.

Queen Caroline successfully defended her title the $75,000 Nellie Mae Cox Stakes. The 4 year old Blame filly, bred by the Morgan’s Ford Farm, went gate to wire and held off Armoire by 1 1/4 lengths to capture her first win in three starts this year. She most recently finished third in the Grade 3 Gallorette Stakes on Preakness Day at Pimlico. Queen Caroline completed the one mile turf event in 1:36.24. The winner is out of the Forestry mare, Queens Plaza, and is owned by Amy Moore. With five wins now from twelve starts, her career bankroll stands at $312,730. Complete St. finished third.

Queen Caroline won the Nellie Mae Cox Stales for the second straight year at Laurel June 24th. Photo by Jim McCue.

Tiz Our Time, bred Sam English, also engineered a gate to wire performance in the 5 1/2 furlong, $75,000 White Oak Farm Stakes. The 5 year old daughter of Tiz Wonderful was best in a field of eight which included ’16 White Oak Farm winner Two Notch Road. The victor, who was never really challenged, took a five length lead into the head of the stretch and crossed by four over runner-up Lawyer Dave in 1:02.09. Tiz Our Time now  has 10 “in the money” finishes from 15 starts, good for $109,709.  Lime House Louie, the 2016 Virginia-Bred Champion 2-Year-Old Male, finished third. Two Notch Road was fifth.

Tiz Our Time won the second annual White Oak Farm Stakes June 24th at Laurel. photo courtesy of Jim McCue.

Do What I Say, winner of the inaugural $75,000 Tyson Gilpin Stakes, rebounded nicely after breaking awkwardly in the 5 1/2 furlong test. The Larry Johnson bred and owned filly steadied herself in traffic shortly after the start, settled into fifth at three-eighths, then powered home for a one length triumph over Sister Says in 1:01.80. The 4 year old daughter of Street Magician earned her first win of the year and third overall. She is out of Not What I Do by Parfaitement. Ring Knocker was third.

Do What I Say captured the inaugural Tyson Gilpin Stakes June 24th at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.

Trustifarian, bred by the Run Aweigh Stable and trained by Patrick Neusch, beat ten other horses in the day’s final race — a 5 1/2 furlong, $30,000 maiden special weight sprint for Virginia-breds. The 3 year old Albert The Great colt gained the lead outside in mid-stretch and crossed 1 1/4 lengths in front of Holiday Hopes in 1:03.26. The winner, out of Heypenny  by Storm Broker, was making his first lifetime start. Early Grey, who won the same race a year ago but was placed ninth through disqualification, finished third.

Stellar Wind All Heart In Defeating Vale Dori In Sunday’s Clement Hirsch Stakes At Del Mar

The following appeared in The Paulick Report July 30th.

Kosta Hronis’ Stellar Wind had to put every ounce of her heart on the line to defeat Vale Dori in Sunday’s Grade 1 Clement L Hirsch Stakes. The two rivals, one-two in the same order in the G1 Beholder Mile last out, were dead even at the head of the lane, but Victor Espinoza was able to get just a bit more out of the dead game Stellar Wind to put her head in front at the finish. A 5-year-old daughter of Curlin trained by John Sadler, she covered 1 1/16 miles over Del Mar’s fast main track in 1:43.92 to earn an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff this fall.

Hronis Racing’s Stellar Wind and jockey Victor Espinoza, left, outleg Vale Dori (Mike Smith), right, to win the Grade I, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, Sunday July 30, 2017 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar CA.© BENOIT PHOTO

“Once she broke (well), I felt the race was all over,” Espinoza said. “I have so much confidence in her, I knew she’d win. And she showed me to be right again. I had that other horse (Vale Dori) measured. I knew I could win. It was a good race; side by side down the stretch. But I was going to be the winner. I had to win it for John (trainer Sadler). It was his birthday. And my horse had plenty left; she still had plenty in the tank.”

It was billed as a two-horse race despite the field of five fillies and mares, and the Hirsch appeared to be a match race from the start. Vale Dori came out of the gate with the lead under Mike Smith, and Espinoza and Stellar Wind kept her company just a half-length behind all the way through the backstretch. The grey Vale Dori set fractions of :23.81 and :48.46, slowing down significantly in the second quarter mile, but Espinoza was not tricked into engaging Stellar Wind in the fight too early.

Indeed, it wasn’t until mid-way through the far turn that Espinoza moved Stellar Wind to be eye-to-eye with Vale Dori. Turning for home the two were stride-for-stride, and all through the stretch they did battle. Inch by painful inch, Stellar Wind moved in front of Vale Dori, only able to put a head’s distance between the two at the wire. It would be Stellar Wind who would defend her title in the Hirsch, in which she shocked the great Beholder last year, and Vale Dori had to settle for second once again. Faithfully checked in third.

“Just what I wanted for my birthday,” Sadler smiled. “She ran really well. I was nervous because of the way favorites have fared here. But she’s a good mare, she came through and she stuck her nose out at the end like she usually does. It looked like it was going to set up pretty much like the last race; Vale Dori is the speed. We know we can’t sit off her too far, you’ve got to hook into her and wear her down. No plans (for a next start) now. We’ll start looking tomorrow. But for now, we’re really happy.”

Bred in Virginia by Keswick Stables and Stonestreet Thoroughbreds, Stellar Wind was a $40,000 yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, and later brought $86,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old in training sale. Her career highlights include wins in the Santa Anita Oaks, 2016 Hirsch, Zenyatta Stakes, Apple Blossom and Beholder Mile. Stellar Wind has now won 10 of her 15 career starts for earnings of over $2.2 million, and will look to improve on her fourth-place finish in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff this November at Del Mar.


Shadwell Farm

2016 Champion Sprinter Drefong, Co-Bred By Virginian Anthony Warrender, To Compete In July 29 Bing Crosby Stakes

2016 Champion Sprinter Drefong was co-bred Frederick Allor, Michael Barnett and Anthony Warrender, who is from Middleburg, Virginia. This story previews the July 29th Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar and appeared on

If not for his gray stablemate’s late-season ascension, Baoma Corporation’s Drefong would have been the brightest rising star of 2016.

Drefong’s rise—albeit in the sprint division and a bit more stretched out in time—in many ways mirrored Arrogate‘s. Both lost their respective debuts for trainer Bob Baffert, then came back to win their second start. Next came a pair of conditional allowance wins apiece and a trip to Saratoga Race Course.

Drefong will make his 2017 season debut in a Bing Crosby Stakes field of 11 on July 29th. Photo by Eclipse Sportswire.

While Arrogate’s record-setting Travers (G1) victory stole the headlines, Drefong put in a standout performance of his own that day in the Ketel One King’s Bishop (G1), where he sped to a 3 1/4-length victory.

NOVAK: Drefong Gallops Home to King’s Bishop Score

Arrogate owned the spotlight again with a victory over eventual Horse of the Year California Chrome   in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), but Drefong put in his own top performance when he defeated three current or eventual grade 1 winners in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

NOVAK: Drefong Gives Baffert Fifth BC Sprint

Now, a week after his high-profile stablemate threw in a clunker in the San Diego Handicap (G2), the champion sprinter of 2016 will look to avoid a similar fate in the $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) July 29 at Del Mar.

In his first start since the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Baffert has concerns regarding Drefong’s fitness off a layoff and would prefer an outside post (he drew No. 2, just outside fellow grade 1 winner Denman’s Call), but has been encouraged by the Gio Ponti   colt’s training.

“He’s been training well, but you still have to get a race into him,” said Baffert, who also indicated Drefong could get a start in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) in October before he defends his Breeders’ Cup Sprint title. “He looks fantastic, but I would have liked to get a little prep into him off a long layoff like that. With some good horses in there, he’s going to have to run from the inside.”

The Hall of Fame trainer said nothing specific physically led to the extended layoff for Drefong. He was considering a run in the Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News (G1) in March, but decided against it because he didn’t feel the colt would handle the distant trip well.

“I was thinking about taking him to Dubai, but I didn’t think he’d like the shipping,” Baffert said. “So I just stopped on him and gave him a few months. But he never left the barn.”

Ten horses have been entered to challenge Drefong, including six graded winners and a few who are entering the race in top form.

The most impressive recent winner was Rockingham Ranch’s Roy H, who shipped to Belmont Park off back-to-back conditional allowance wins at Santa Anita Park and won the True North Stakes (G2) by 2 1/2 lengths for trainer Peter Miller.

BALAN: Roy H Invades Belmont, Takes True North

Earlier in the season, the Miller standout in the sprint division was Altamira Racing Stable and David Bernsen’s St. Joe Bay, who won the Midnight Lute (G3) and Palos Verdes (G2) back to back before he shipped to Dubai and ran fourth in the Golden Shaheen. The Bing Crosby will be his first start since his trip overseas.

Miller’s Bing Crosby trio is completed by Solid Wager, who also won the Midnight Lute via dead heat with his stablemate, but hasn’t won in four starts since.

Big Macher provides a blast from the Bing Crosby past for trainer Richard Baltas. The California-bred Beau Genius gelding earned Baltas his first grade 1 win in the 2014 Bing Crosby, and the trainer specifically targeted this year’s edition with a prep in the June 11 Thor’s Echo Handicap at Santa Anita. Big Macher won the Thor’s Echo, but should enter Saturday cranked for his best with a race underneath him.

“He does have a special place (in my heart). I love the horse,” Baltas said of the 7-year-old bay. “He’s my first grade 1 winner, he took us to Dubai (for the 2015 Golden Shaheen), he took us to the Breeders’ Cup—he’s brought a lot of joy to our lives and really kicked things off for me.”

Another looming threat is the Doug O’Neill-trained Denman’s Call, who will race on his home Southern California soil after two unsuccessful trips out of town. After a 16-1 upset win in the March 11 Triple Bend Stakes (G1), the Northern Afleet   gelding ran seventh in the Churchill Downs Stakes Presented by (G2) and 10th in the Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont.

Other graded winners in the field include May 20 Kona Gold (G2) victor Ransom the Moon, who came in second to Danzing Candy last time out in the San Carlos Stakes (G2); and four-time graded winner Kobe’s Back, who will look to end a five-race winless streak.

Bing Crosby S. (G1)

Del Mar, Saturday, July 29, 2017, Race 9
  • 6f
  • Dirt
  • $300,000
  • 3 yo’s & up
  • 6:10 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Denman’s Call (KY) Tyler Baze 123 Doug F. O’Neill
2 Drefong (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Mike E. Smith 123 Bob Baffert
3 St. Joe Bay (FL) Kent J. Desormeaux 121 Peter Miller
4 Ransom the Moon (ON) Flavien Prat 121 Philip D’Amato
5 Big Macher (CA) Rafael Bejarano 119 Richard Baltas
6 Magic Taste (KY) Tiago Josue Pereira 119 Marcelo Polanco
7 Coastline (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Jamie Theriot 119 Philip D’Amato
8 Roy H (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Paco Lopez 121 Peter Miller
9 Solid Wager (CA) Joseph Talamo 119 Peter Miller
10 Kobe’s Back (KY) Gary L. Stevens 119 Peter Eurton
11 Moe Candy (KY) Victor Espinoza 119 John W. Sadler

Virginia Betting Handle Figures Are Strong For First Half Of 2017

Halfway through 2017, Virginia handle numbers on horse racing from the four Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) companies and both new Off Track Betting (OTB) Centers continue to trek impressively.

The three ADW — or on line betting companies — that are licensed in Virginia and have been conducting business for an extended period, had their second best month of the year in June. TVG handled $3,551,229 compared to $3,223,864 for TwinSpires and $1,160,388 for XpressBet. All three ADW companies generated more handle in the month of May, but that is the norm since both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes are held then. NYRABets, newest player in the Virginia market, handled $157,663 in June, and that marks the fourth consecutive month they have showed an increase as they continue to attract new players.

The Breakers Sports Grille OTB has both beverage & food specials every day, in addition to separate smoking & non-smoking sections.

When handle figures for the four ADWs are combined to reflect the first six months of 2017, there is a 6.5% gain over the same period in 2016. A total of $43,501,827 has been wagered this year compared to $40,844,944 last year. So far, TVG has handled $19,916,532 compared with $16,208,506 for TwinSpires and $6,876,712 for XPressBet. NYRABets chipped in with $500,076.

The two new Richmond area OTBs continue to do solid business as well. Breakers Sports Grille, located in the west end of town, has accepted $5,674,755 in wagers while Ponies & Pints, located downtown in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood, handled $4,113,923 for the first six months. The latter did not open until mid-January while Breakers opened November 2nd last year.

The summer meet at Saratoga features Grade I stakes races every weekend, including the Travers on August 26th.

With high profile stakes races like the Travers Stakes, Pacific Classic, Arlington Million, Hambletonian Trot and others scheduled in the month of August, Virginia horseplayers could continue to push those figures in the same direction.

A complete simulcast calendar is located at

Cooney’s Carolina Shag Records Solid Stakes Performance; Firestone-Bred Horses Continue To Sizzle In July

Susan Cooney’s Carolina Shag recorded her best stakes performance to date July 24th, when the six-year-old Bop mare took third in the $200,000 Caress Stakes at Saratoga. She took the lead briefly in the upper stretch but was caught 70 yards from the wire and finished third. Miss Ella was 1 1/2 lengths the best. Carolina Shag’s previous stakes outings were both in New York — an 8th in the Intercontinental at Belmont in June, 2015 and a 9th in the Tenski at Saratoga in August, 2014. She has a trio of lifetime wins including one on June 17th this year at Laurel. Her lifetime bankroll now stands at  $167,140. Cooney bred, owns and trains Carolina Shag, who is a West Virginia-bred).

Miss Ella crosses first in the $200,000 Caress Stakes at Saratoga July 24th. Susan Cooney’s Carolina Shag can be seen in the upper left finishing third. Photo courtesy of NYRA.


Horses bred by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone got to the winner’s circle eight times during the middle part of July. Virginia-breds Well Blessed, Weekend, Swordfish, Holding Fast, Dapper Dan, Northern Eclipse, Titan Alexander and Start Winning all got their pictures taken. The run of success wasn’t isolated to one or two tracks — it came at seven different ovals around the country.

Well Blessed scored most recently at Delaware Park July 20th. The 4 year old daughter of Exchange Rate was best in a claiming field of ten, who vied one mile, 70 yards for $16,000. The victor crossed 3 3/4 lengths in front in 1:40.70. The Arnaud Delacour trainee has won two straight at Delaware and has bankrolled $22,470 this year.

Weekend captured a $25,000 maiden special weight race exclusively for Virginia-bred fillies and mares July 15th at Laurel. The 3 year old daughter of Henny Hughes was best in as field of seven (a writeup on this race appears on the website separately).

Weekend captured a Virginia-bred maiden special weight race July 15th at Laurel. The winner was ridden by Feargal Lynch. photo by Jim McCue.

Swordfish and Holding Back both connected at tracks outside of the Mid-Atlantic region and both earned their first career victories. The former is a 4 year old Summer Bird gelding who won by 4 1/2 at Prarie Meadows, and the latter is a 2 year old Hold Me Back colt who came on strong in the final furlong at Belterra Park to win by five. Swordfish is out of the Not For Love mare, Hawaiian Love, and Holding Fast is out of Humorlee by Distorted Humor.

Since switching over to steeplechase racing on a full time basis five starts ago, Dapper Dan has collected a pair of wins and thirds. The 5 year old gelding’s most recent win came at Parx July 11th in a 2 1/16th miles overnight handicap hurdle event for $30,000. The Neil Morris trainee authored a nearly identical trip to the one he penned at Great Meadow in a maiden special weight May 6th. Both were wire to wire efforts and both featured sizeable leads midway through that diminished. In the Parx race, he held on to win by two and at Great Meadow, he held on by a length. Dapper Dan, who is by Pleasantly Perfect out of Wardrobe by War Chant, has earned $55,500 in 2017 from three starts.

Northern Eclipse won a $42,000 allowance race July 8th at Laurel. The 5 year old mare was ridden by J.D. Acosta. Photo by Jim McCue.

Wins by Northern Eclipse, Titan Alexander and Start Winning all resulted in a 25% owners bonus being doled out courtesy of the HBPA/VTA Mid Atlantic Incentive Program.

Northern Eclipse, who was coming off a fourth place finish in the Tyson Gilpin Stakes, won by 2 1/2 lengths in a $42,000 allowance race at Laurel. The 5 year old Northern Afleet mare is 2-for-4 this year with $47,625 in earnings. Seven-year-old Titan Alexander scored at Mountaineer Park in a $12,000 claimer while Start Winning connected at Charles Town in a $10,000 claimer. Both races, contested at 7 and 6 1/2 furlongs respectively, were decided by a neck. Titan Alexander collected his tenth career win from 29 starts while Start Winning earned her fifth win from 20 starts.

The respective winning owners — Toby Roth, Ernest Haynes and C and B Stables, each collected that 25% bonus on top of the horse’s purse winnings. 

3 EZ Steps For Farm & Horse Owners To Take Advantage Of New Virginia Certified Thoroughbred Program

3 EZ Steps To Take Advantage Of New Virginia Certified Residency Program

Since the Virginia Racing Commission recently approved a new Certified Residency Program that is expected to contribute to the long term economic prosperity of Virginia agriculture and encourage preservation of Virginia farmland, it is now up to industry participants to take advantage of these new opportunities.
Modeled after the very successful Delaware Certified Program, the new Virginia-Certified Thoroughbred Program (VACTP) will reward horsemen who board horses at Virginia farms or training centers for six consecutive months prior to December 31st of the horse’s two-year-old year. The six month requirement must be fulfilled after the program start date of July 1, 2017 — this is the earliest date eligibility can begin.

Sadler’s Joy is shown here as a yearling at Woodslane Farm in The Plains. Photo by Nick Hahn.

In order to proceed and take advantage of this new program, here are 3 EZ Steps:
Become a Certified Virginia Farm/Training Center – Certify your facility so out of town horse owners can learn about your participation in the program. Each horse in the program must maintain residency at a Virginia-Certified Farm or Training Center within the Commonwealth, where the horse can be available for inspection by a VACTP official. A full list of these farms and centers, with addresses and contact details, appears on If you have not made an agreement with the VTA to participate in the Program yet, fill out an application on the website. 

Register Each Virginia-Certified Horse. Within 30 days of the horse’s arrival in Virginia, owners must submit an application for the VACTP along with a registration fee (that covers the lifetime of the registered horse), a completed W-9, and a copy of the horse’s registration papers. The VTA member fee is $100 and non-member fee is $250. Checks should be made out to the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, and all materials can be sent to: VACTP, c/o Virginia Thoroughbred Association – 250 West Main Street, Suite 100 – Charlottesville, VA 22902. Both the application & W9 form are available on the website.

Submit/Acquire A Verification Form. Once the six month residency is complete, the Virginia-Certified Farm will send a notarized Verification Form (available on the website) to the VTA office confirming that the horse has completed the requirements of its residency. The VTA will then process the form and issue VACTP certificate to the owner of the horse.

More details of the program are available at If you have any further questions about the program, call 434-977-3716.

Popular Maryland Horse Ben’s Cat Euthanized July 19th

by Frank Vespe

Ben’s Cat, the 11-year-old gelding who won 26 stakes, helped catapult owner-breeder-trainer King Leatherbury into the Hall of Fame, and along the way captured the hearts of most of the racing world, was euthanized today because of complications that arose from July 6 colic surgery.

His death was reported in the The Blood-Horse.

Ben’s Cat, a Leatherbury homebred, won 32 of 63 career races, earning more than $2.6 million in the process. Despite not making his debut until age four, courtesy of a fractured pelvis, Ben’s Cat managed to win the Maryland-bred Mister Diz Stakes six times and the Jim McKay Turf Sprint, at Pimlico, five more.

Ben’s Cat wins the 2016 Jim McKay Turf Sprint, the final victory of his career. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

It was in the latter race, in 2016, that he scored the final victory of his career. That day, under Trevor McCarthy, Ben’s Cat was buried inside, found racing room late, and shot through an opening to win by a neck.

“He’s an unbelievable horse, by far the best horse I’ve ever been on,” McCarthy said following that race.  “I’ve just never seen a horse like that. You just have to give him something to run at. He was running up the fence, up the fence, and when I swung him out into the clear, I knew we were gone. I mean, just unbelievable. He knows where the wire is and says, ‘Let’s go Trevor, let’s go.’ He gave me his all and I wasn’t worried at all.”

But time catches up to the best of us, and this year Ben’s Cat could muster no better than a fifth-place finish in three tries. After he ran ninth in the Mister Diz June 24, Leatherbury announced his star’s retirement.

“End of an era,” Leatherbury told The Racing Biz in announcing that decision.

Ben’s Cat was a gelded son of Parker’s Storm Cat out of the Thirty Eight Paces mare Twofox. He was closely related to Ah Day, another Leatherbury homebred who also was a graded stakes winner and earned nearly $1 million. Ah Day’s dam, Endette, was a full sister to Twofox; and his sire, Malibu Moon, and Parker’s Storm Cat are half-brothers.

“Ah Day came first, then Ben,” Avon Thorpe, Leatherbury’s top assistant, said on the occasion of Leatherbury’s induction into the Hall of Fame. “Ah Day came first, and we were on the scene, and he was just winning and winning and winning.  And then when he started tailing off, Ben’s Cat showed up right at the perfect time. And then he started winning.”

In fact, Leatherbury said Ben’s Cat was “absolutely” a major factor in his election, in 2015, to the national racing Hall of Fame.

“The excuse was years ago that Leatherbury wins a lot of races, but he doesn’t perform at the top levels,” the trainer, now 84, said. “That was true, but I had to deal with the horses that I had. But Ben’s Cat did perform at that level.”

Indeed. Ben’s Cat won the first eight races of his career, including the first of his three wins in the since-discontinued Maryland Million Turf Sprint. In his race following the Maryland Million score, he won the 9-furlong Find Handicap at Laurel Park, demonstrating the versatility that would also give him three wins in the Fabulous Strike, a late-fall dirt sprint at Penn National. He was a four-time Maryland-bred horse of the year.

Ben’s Cat’s graded stakes wins all came at Parx Racing, two in the Grade 3 Parx Dash and two in the Grade 3 Turf Monster. His first Turf Monster win, in 2011, was a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint — except that, since Ben’s Cat had not been nominated to the Breeders’ Cup, Leatherbury was forced to try to come up with $100,000 to supplement him.

When an effort to put a group together fell through, Ben’s Cat was on the outside looking in. On Breeders’ Cup day, Leatherbury watched as Regally Ready, Country Day, and Perfect Officer filled the top three spots in the Turf Sprint; Ben’s Cat had defeated all three in the Turf Monster.

Until this year Ben’s Cat had won at least two races and earned at least $149,000 for seven consecutive years. He was the fifth-leading earner among horses bred in 2006 — behind such familiar names as Blame, Flat Out, Rachel Alexandra, and Big Drama — and had the third-most wins of any horse foaled that year.

Following his retirement, Ben’s Cat was sent to Bayne and Chris Welker’s Spring Ridge Farm in Versailles, KY. But not long after his arrival, Ben’s Cat became ill with colic. He was sent to Hagyard Equine Medical Institute to have an epiploic foramen entrapment repaired, but after early positive signs took a turn for the worse leading to today’s euthanization.

“I’m devastated over the news,” Leatherbury told The Blood-Horse. “It’s a tragic ending to a magnificent racehorse. I’m highly saddened. I had all the glory and all the excitement and thrills anything could ever give a man in Ben’s Cat.”

On social media, fans expressed similar sentiments.

On the “Maryland Horse Racing Industry” Facebook group, broken heart emojis were in plentiful supply, and dozens weighed in.

“So terribly sad,” wrote Jill R. Trivas.

“What a huge loss!! I loved watching him race. My heart is broken,” added Tammy Lafferty.

“He was Maryland’s horse,” jockey Trevor McCarthy said last month, and perhaps that accolade most of all is the way Ben’s Cat will be remembered.

Virginia-Bred Weekend Captures Maiden Special Weight Restricted Race Saturday At Laurel

Congratulations to 3-year-old filly Weekend, who captured a $25,000 maiden special weight race exclusively for Virginia-bred fillies and mares Saturday July 15th at Laurel.

Bred and owned by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone, the daughter of Henny Hughes was best in a field of seven, who competed six furlongs. She prompted the pace outside Cross Roads initially, overtook the leader turning for home, then beat runner-up Daniella by 4 1/2 lengths, crossing in 1:09.33. Weekend, who is trained by Arnaud Delacour, is out of Wardrobe by War Chant.

Weekend captured a Virginia-bred maiden special weight race July 15th at Laurel. The winner was ridden by Feargal Lynch. photo by Jim McCue.

The victor, who didn’t race as a 2-year-old, is I-for-2 now. She finished fourth at Monmouth June 19th in her lifetime bow. Cross Roads finished third, followed in order by Brainchild, Scene of the Crime, Sheet Lightning and Holiday Hopes.

The next Virginia-bred restricted race is July 27th at Charles Town, and is a $5,000 claimer (NW2) on dirt at 6 1/2 furlongs. Seven additional races are scheduled between Laurel and Charles Town throughout the summer and fall. A complete list of these “sprinkled” races is available at

Dortmund Back Training At Los Alamitos

The following appeared in July 14th. It was written by Jeremy Balan.

Multiple grade 1 winner Dortmund, who was retired from racing in April, is back in training at Los Alamitos Race Course, trainer Art Sherman said July 13.

Los Alamitos’ stable records indicate Kaleem Shah’s 2015 Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner arrived at the Cypress, Calif., racetrack June 19. Sherman said the massive son of Big Brown   has been going through some “slight training” that includes jogging, but could get a timed workout in “30 days.”

Kaleem Shah’s Dortmund and jockey Martin Garcia, right, hold off Firing Line and jockey Gary Stevens to win the Grade III $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes Saturday, February 7, 2015 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA.

Sherman and Shah did not indicate any specific race targets for Dortmund, but the owner said after some turnout time in Bradbury, Calif., the 5-year-old chestnut “looked like a racehorse again.”

“It wasn’t good timing, because the breeding season was already underway,” Shah said of Dortmund’s retirement in April. “We would have had to wait until next year. He just needed a little time out, it looks like, so he’s doing good now. We have nothing to do until the next (breeding season).

“He just needed some time and was looking good. He looked like a racehorse again. We have no concrete plans. We’ll just see how he reacts to training.”

Shah said there is no breeding deal in place for Dortmund.

“There is a lot of interest, but no (deal yet),” Shah said.

Dortmund raced just twice for Sherman before his retirement was announced—a sixth-place run in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1T) on grass March 11 at Santa Anita Park and a fourth-place finish in the April 1 Santana Mile on dirt at Santa Anita.

“He’s been so good to us,” Shah said in April. “It’s time to take care of him.”

Prior to his time with Sherman, Dortmund won six stakes (five graded) for trainer Bob Baffert, including grade 1 victories in the Santa Anita Derby and the 2014 Los Alamitos Futurity. He entered the 2015 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) undefeated and as the second choice to Baffert stablemate American Pharoah   and finished third at 4-1.

Queen Caroline Set For Indiana Grand Stakes Saturday July 15th; Plenty Of Simulcast Stakes To Watch & Wager

Best of luck to Virginia-bred Queen Caroline, whom will compete in Saturday’s $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff Stakes, part of the Indiana Derby under card at Indiana Grand Racecourse.

Queen Caroline won the Nellie Mae Cox Stales for the second straight year at Laurel June 24th. Photo by Jim McCue.

Queen Caroline successfully defended her title the $75,000 Nellie Mae Cox Stakes. The 4 year old Blame filly, bred by the Morgan’s Ford Farm, went gate to wire and held off Armoire by 1 1/4 lengths to capture her first win in three starts this year. She most recently finished third in the Grade 3 Gallorette Stakes on Preakness Day at Pimlico. Queen Caroline completed the one mile turf event in 1:36.24. The winner is out of the Forestry mare, Queens Plaza, and is owned by Amy Moore. With five wins now from twelve starts, her career bankroll stands at $312,730. Complete St. finished third.

A giant video wall at Breakers displays signals from 10 different tracks around the country in the afternoon and another 10 in the evening.

Horseplayers can enjoy a mid-summer feast of stakes races Saturday July 15th, including the $200,000 Los Alamitos Derby (Gr. 3), which was just added to the lineup. Other key races include the $750,000 Delaware Handicap (Gr. 1) at Delaware Park, the $500,000 Indiana Derby (Gr. 3) at Indiana Grand, the $750,000 Meadowlands Pace and a trio of $75,000 stakes at nearby Laurel.

Fans can bet the action at two Richmond area Off Track Betting Centers — Ponies & Pints downtown, and at Breakers Sports Grille in the west end. Virginia residents can also bet via one of four on line partner sites —,, and

The popular Saratoga and Del Mar meets begin this coming week. Del Mar kicks off their season Wednesday July 19 and Saratoga begins Friday July 21.