Monthly Archives: May 2019

Trio of Virginia-Breds To Compete In Stakes Races Weekend Of June 1, 2

A trio of Virginia-bred horses will compete in stakes races this weekend including the Champion Three-Year-Old Male of 2018, a sophomore filly seeking her third straight win, and a six-year-old horse looking to push his bankroll over the $500,000 mark.

Elusive Mischief, bred by Jim FitzGerald and Katie FitzGerald at their Chilly Bleak Farm in Marshall, comperes in Saturday’s $120,000 Mighty Beau Overnight Stakes at Churchill. The now four-year-old Into Mischief colt has not raced since capturing the Punch Line Stakes at Laurel last September. He will battle in a field of ten at the five furlong distance Saturday. It is the 10th race on Churchill’s evening card and will go off at 10:11 PM. Elusive Mischief took top sophomore honors courtesy of three wins last year.

Punch Line winner Elusive Mischief was bred by Jim Fitzgerald & Katie Fitzgerald. Photo by Jim McCue.

Holly Hundy will vie in the Grade 3, $150,000 Honeymoon Stakes at Santa Anita Saturday. The three-year-old Yes It’s True filly was bred by the Lazy Lane Farms and has bankrolled $79,800 from four starts this year. She is fresh off west coast wins in a maiden special weight April 21st and an allowance optional claimer May 17th. She will face seven others in the 1 1/8 miles turf test.

American Dubai is the most experienced of the three and enters his stakes Sunday at Sunray Park with $485,442 in earnings from 23 starts. The six-year-old E Dubai horse has 17 top three finishes including seven wins. In His last 17 starts, the consistent horse has finished third or better 14 times. Bred by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin III, American Dubai will be one of six competing in the $75,000 San Juan County Commissioners Stakes. The event will be 1 1/8 miles long and is the eighth on Sunray’s card. 

Virginia-bred American Dubai has erned $485,442 from 23 starts. Phoro by Coady Photography.

Another pair of Virginia-breds will battle at Churchill on Sunday. Forloveofcountry will be in the fifth — a $99,000 allowance optional claimer — while Passion Play will battle in the tenth — a $95,000 maiden special weight. The former, a three-year-old colt, was bred by Lazy Lane Farms and is by Sky Mesa out of Patriot Miss. He has earned $88,545 courtesy of a maiden special weight triumph last July at Del Mar and an allowance score last fall at Churchill. The latter, also a three-year-old colt, was bred by Mr. & Mrs. Oliver Iselin III and is by Hold Me Back out of Stylish Affair. He has a trio of “in the money” maiden special weight finishes at Indiana Grand, Churchill and Oaklawn. Forloveofcountry’s race is at 2:45 PM and Pasion Play’s is at 5:26 PM.     

Dumfries Chosen As Site For New Pari-Mutuel Horse Race Betting Parlor

The following appeared in and was written by Jill Palmero.

The Colonial Downs Group has its sights set on Dumfries as one of two new locations for its next “Rosie’s Gaming Emporium” brand of pari-mutuel betting parlors. But Dumfries voters will have the final say if the effort reaches the ballot this November.

The Colonial Downs Group, which is relaunching its New Kent County, Virginia, horse racing track this summer, announced Thursday that longtime Dumfries resident Linda Wilkins submitted paperwork with the Prince William County Clerk of Court’s office to initiate the process of placing a referendum on the ballot to allow pari-mutuel wagering at a satellite facility in Dumfries.

A similar process took place Thursday morning in Danville, Virginia, the second town selected for a Rosie’s restaurant, bar and betting parlor.

Wilkins owns Evolution Auto Repair and has lived in Dumfries for most of her life. She is the daughter of former Dumfries Police Chief Horace Scites.

After her trip to the Manassas courthouse Thursday morning, Wilkins said she was glad to help with the effort to bring Rosie’s and pari-mutuel horse-race betting to Dumfries.

A third Rosie’s Gaming Emporium will open in late June in Richmond.

“I’m really excited about it. I hope everything passes. I think it’s going to bring in a lot of money and jobs for the town,” Wilkins said.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to bring a major facility like this to Dumfries. We’re talking about good jobs and more revenue for the town and the schools,” she added. “We need something like this.”

Dumfries Mayor Derrick Wood (D) acknowledged ahead of Thursday’s filing that he reached out to Colonial Downs Group to inquire about their interest in Dumfries for a Northern Virginia satellite facility. Wood said he will remain neutral on the referendum and isn’t much of a gambler, personally.

Still, he said he considers it his obligation as mayor to boost commercial development in Dumfries. Wood said he’s had several conversations with commercial entities – including Trader Joes, Whole Foods and several restaurant outlets — about moving to Dumfries since he took office last July.

Wood campaigned on making Dumfries, the oldest chartered town in Virginia, a destination of choice rather than just a place people pass through along U.S. 1.

“In my role as chief ambassador of Dumfries, my job is to entertain and explore all options for expanding our commercial base,” Wood said. “I cannot not explore it.”

State Sen. Scott Surovell, D-36th, said he, too, is supportive of the effort. Surovell notes that Northern Virginia residents already travel to Maryland to spend money at its new casinos. If there’s an appetite for such activity locally, the tax revenue might as well stay closer to home, Surovell said.

“Out-of-state gaming facilities have been funding their schools with Northern Virginians’ money for years and it’s about time we took steps to keep those dollars here,” Surovell said in a Colonial Downs press release. “This facility would be a gamechanger for Dumfries’ economic development.”

In an interview Thursday, Surovell said he believes Dumfries voters will support the referendum.

“If I were a resident of Dumfries and I knew of a way we could generate a 100 percent more tax revenue without me having to pay for it, I’d be all over it,” Surovell said.

New jobs, tax revenue

What would a Rosie’s pari-mutuel betting parlor mean for Dumfries?

Mark Hubbard, spokesman for the Colonial Downs Group, said the Dumfries outlet would likely most closely compare to the Rosie’s that opened in Vinton, Virginia, outside Roanoke, in May.

Under state legislation approved by the Virginia General Assembly in 2018, Colonial Downs revived its live horse racing at its New Kent County track, located outside Richmond, and is in the process of opening five pari-mutuel betting satellite facilities. Colonial Downs is so far the only organization licensed for off-track betting facilities in Virginia, Hubbard said.

 The first Rosie’s Gaming Emporium opened in New Kent County in April. The Vinton location was next, and a third is set to open in Richmond in June. A fourth will open in Hampton in the fall, Hubbard said.

The facilities serve food and alcoholic beverages and allow patrons to vote on both live horse racing and “historical horse racing,” which happens through a machine.

People place bets on HHR machines that feed into a collective pool that players can win — with various purses.

The races are “historical,” meaning they are actual races that took place in past years. Because the games pull from such a vast pool of past races, it would be difficult or impossible for players to know the outcome before placing their bets.

Rosie’s patrons can also bet on live racing. Colonial Downs plans to run 15 live horse races this year between Aug. 8 and Sept. 7, Hubbard said.

The Vinton, Virginia, Rosie’s is about 15,000 square feet and has 150 historical horse racing machines, the number of which is limited by Vinton’s population, Hubbard said.

The Vinton outlet is expected to generate $500,000 in tax revenue annually. It brought 160 new jobs to Vinton with an average salary of more than $40,000 a year, Hubbard said.

The jobs include food and beverage servers as well as “ambassadors” that help with the gaming technology and several security positions. It’s hours are 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. on weekends, Hubbard said.

No alcohol can be purchased past 2 a.m., he noted.

The Colonial Downs Group chose Dumfries for one of its newest locations because “it’s a vibrant and energetic town and was one of the localities that expressed an interest in what we are offering,” Hubbard said.

“We want to be located in Dumfries, and we’re excited to go out and share with voters what we’re about and what we do and let them decide if they’d like to be home to one of our facilities,” said Aaron Gomes, chief operating officer of Colonial Downs Group, in a press release.

Next steps

According to Virginia law, a voter referendum is required in localities that have not already approved pari-mutuel wagering. Wilkins’ filing kicks off an effort to collect the needed signatures for the referendum to be placed on the ballot.

The petition, once approved, will require signatures from about 150 Dumfries registered voters, or 5 percent of the total number of people registered in Dumfries. Dumfries had 2,661 registered voters as of January 2019, according to state records.

The signatures must be collected and submitted to the local voter registrar at least 81 days before the election, putting the deadline for the Nov. 5 ballot at Aug. 16, Hubbard said.

The Colonial Downs Group will coordinate a Dumfries signature drive, according to the press release.

Members of Virginia’s horse-racing community are strong supporters of pari-mutuel betting as a means of raising the money necessary to revive race purses and revitalize the state’s racing industry.

“World-class horse racing is returning to Virginia, and we could not be more excited. When new communities approve pari-mutuel gaming at facilities within their borders, it will lift up the horse industry statewide, ensure more races at Colonial Downs, and generate new jobs and revenue in these localities and all across Virginia,” Debbie Easter, president of the Virginia Equine Alliance, said in the Colonial Downs press release.

“Our partnership with the Colonial Downs Group is a strong one, and we hope the voters of Dumfries will help this partnership to grow even further by voting yes for pari-mutuel wagering and gaming this November.”

Across the state, Colonial Downs Group says it’s making a $300 million investment and will create 800 new jobs by the end of 2019.

Those efforts are expected to generate $25 million annually in state tax revenues, $17 million annually in local tax revenues and $25 million annually to Virginia’s horse industry. The project is not receiving any tax credits or government incentives, according to the Colonial Downs Group press release.

Reach Jill Palermo at

Cary Frommer To Judge 2019 Virginia Yearling Futurity

The annual Virginia Yearling Futurity is scheduled for Sunday June 23rd at the Warrenton Horse Show Grounds and this year, Cary Frommer will be the judge! Here are details of Cary’s career.

Cary Frommer has been involved in the Thoroughbred industry for more than 30 years. She has one son, Evan. Growing up as the daughter of an Army Officer, Cary traveled the world before settling in Aiken and working for some of the top trainers in the country including Hall of Fame trainer Mack Miller.

In 1999 Cary began pin hooking 2 year olds and in 2009 Cary and her team set the record for the highest priced two year old at Timonium with the sale of the TAPIT colt, Trappe Shot when he sold for $850,000. 2016 was a banner year with two MILLION DOLLAR two year olds, both by Uncle Mo.

Whether in the two year old sale program or the racing program, top racehorses are the goal of our team.

2018 Yearling Futurity was judged by Jonathon Thomas

The Yearling Futurity starts at 9 AM and entry forms will be mailed this week.

Virginia Derby Headlines Colonial Downs’ 2019 Stakes Schedule

Led by the $250,000 Virginia Derby (G3), Colonial Downs today announced its 2019 stakes schedule for the 15-day race meeting, August 8 – September 7, which will include $1.8 million in stakes purses as flat racing returns to Virginia for the first time since 2013.

Through the investment of the Colonial Downs Group, Colonial Downs has been reestablished for the 2019 season. Located between Richmond and Williamsburg, Colonial Downs will offer daily purses averaging a minimum of $500,000, which will comprise an approximate $7.5 million in total purses allocated for the meeting.

With the Barn Area reopening on July 25, Colonial Downs also announced that the condition book and stall application are now available at

Racing will be conducted on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the meeting except for the final week when racing will be held on Monday, Sept. 2 (Labor Day) and again on Friday, Sept. 6 and Saturday, Sept. 7. Post time for all race days is 5 p.m. ET, except for the Sept. 2 card, which will begin with a 1 p.m. first post.

“As a native Virginian, it is exciting to be part of a strong team effort bringing racing back to Colonial Downs,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President of Racing Operations. “We are dedicated to the horse racing industry and making a positive impact in all aspects of it. We’ve received so much interest and support from horsemen, patrons, media and industry leaders and look forward to providing a fantastic racing experience for everyone.”

Photo by Laurie Asseo.

“We are excited to welcome back horsemen to race at Colonial Downs with a highly competitive daily purse structure and comprehensive stakes schedule,” said Colonial Downs Racing Secretary Allison De Luca. “We offer a strong turf racing program with the widest grass course in the country that holds up extremely well to all weather conditions along with our 1 ¼ mile main track allowing us to provide a broad base of race options.”

The first Saturday of the meet, August 10, will feature four stakes races on the turf course for Virginia-bred horses, with each race carrying a $100,000 purse. Those races are: the M. Tyson Gilpin for fillies and mares at 5 ½ furlongs; the Meadow Stable, also at 5 ½ furlongs; the Nellie Mae Cox for fillies and mares at one mile and the Edward P. Evans at one mile on the turf.

“Virginia’s horsemen can’t wait to start racing again at Colonial Downs after a five-year shutdown,” said Frank Petramalo, Executive Director of the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (VHBPA). “New track management is great, the purses will be among the highest in the Mid-Atlantic, and Colonial’s racing surfaces, especially its huge turf course, are world class.”

The following Saturday (August 17), there will be two open stakes races slated: The $100,000 Chesapeake, to be run at six furlongs on the dirt and the $75,000 Da Hoss, at 5 ½ furlongs on the turf.

On August 23, the $75,000 Old Nelson Starter Handicap to be run at 1 3/16 miles on the turf.

The August 31 program, featuring the Virginia Derby (G3), to be run for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf. The outstanding all turf stakes lineup also includes the listed $150,000 Virginia Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles; the $100,000 TAA Kitten’s Joy for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles and the $100,000 Rosie’s, also for 2-year-olds, at 5 1 /2 furlongs.

Over the years, the Virginia Derby has been won by Eclipse Awards Champions Kitten’s Joy, English Channel and Gio Ponti. Hall of Fame-trainer Bill Mott and Eclipse Award-winning trainer Dale Romans have each saddled three winners of the Virginia Derby.

“As a trainer who has had some very good days at Colonial Downs, I am very happy for horsemen, the new management and racing fans in Virginia that the track will be opening again this summer, especially at a facility that has one of the best turf courses anywhere in the country,” said Romans, who won the Virginia Derby with Kitten’s Joy (2004), Paddy O’Prado (2010) and Silver Max (2012).

The 2019 Colonial Downs meet will close September 7 with six stakes races totaling $550,000. Five of those events are Virginia-bred flat races and one is an open Steeplechase. There will be three races carded at 5 ½ furlongs on the turf: the $100,000 Jamestown for 2-year-olds; the $100,000 Punchline for 3-year-olds and up, and the $100,000 Camptown for fillies and mares. The two route races on the program will be the $100,000 Bert Allen at 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds and up, and the $100,000 Brookemeade for fillies and mares, also at 1 1/8 miles.

The $50,000 Randolph D. Rouse Steeplechase for fillies and mares will be run at 2 ¼ miles over national fences.

Three Virginia-Bred & Eight Virginia-Certified Horses Are Purchased At Fasig-Tipton 2 YO Sale

Three Virginia-bred and eight Virginia-Certified horses were sold at the recent record Breaking Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale at Timonium for two-year-olds in training. The two day event was held May 20th and 21st.

Hip 90, a Virginia-bred filly by Uncle Mo out of Claire’s Song was purchased by Lothenbach Stables for $350,000.  She was bred by Jim & Katie Fitzgerald of Chilly Bleak Farm in Marshall, and was consigned by Top Line Sales. 

Hip 47, a Virginia-bred colt by Jump Start out of Blazeaway, sold for $75,000 to Zilla Racing. He was bred by Ned Moore and Jill Gordon-Moore and was consigned by Grassroots Training and Sales.

Hip 340, a Virginia-bred filly by Midshipman out of Officer Pepper, was purchased for $35,000 by G. Preciado for Nick Cammarano. She was bred by  Daybreak Stables and was consigned by Cary Frommer.

Of the Virginia-Certified horses sold, four were bred in New York, two in Maryland and one each in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Hip 483, a New York-bred colt by Constitution out of Southern Charmer, was purchased by Linda Rice for $180,000. He spent his Virginia residency at Woodberry Payne’s Ingleside Training Center.

Hip 56 is a New York-bred filly by Speightstown out of Bourbonstreetgirl that sold for $135,000. She was bought by  Lothenback Stables, Inc. and was consigned by De Meric Sales. She also spent six months in the Commonwealth at Ingleside.

Hip 46 is a New York-bred colt by Orb put of Black Escort who was purchased by S.R.O.A. for $40,000. He was consigned by White Pine Thoroughbreds and spent his residency at Jim FitzGerald’s Chilly Bleak Farm in Marshall.

Hip 29 is a New York-bred colt by Maclean’s Music out of April. He was purchased by Windylea Farm LLC for $30,000 and was consigned by James Layden. The colt resided with Layden’s East Coast Thoroughbreds at the Middleburg Training Center.

Of the two Maryland-breds that were Virginia-Certified, Hip 109 sold for $120,000. He is by Bandbox out of Dear Rachel and was consigned by Classic Bloodstock. The colt spent his six months at Mary Alice Thomas’s Bowler Hill Farm in Marshall.

The other was Hip 584 who was purchased by Ferris Allen for $15,000. He is by Overanalyze out of Wide Eyed and was consigned by James Layden. The colt spent his residency with Layden’s East Coast Thoroughbreds.

The Kentucky-bred, Hip 235, sold for $22,000 to LC Racing, LLC. The filly is by Constitution out of Lady Fifty Two and was consigned by Golden Rock. She spent her six months in Virginia at Amy Moore’s South Gate Farm in Millwood.

And finally Hip 150, a Pennsylvania-bred colt by Golden Lad out of Fix You, sold for $15,000. He was purchased by SD Racing and was consigned by Grassroots Training and Sales. He resided at the Middleburg Training Center with James Layden’s East Coast Thoroughbreds.


More Live Racing Details Announced At May 22nd Virginia Racing Commission Meeting

The Colonial Downs Group’s request to obtain a license to operate Historical Horse Racing and live simulcast wagering at its next Rosie’s Gaming Emporium site was approved today at the Virginia Racing Commission meeting.

The new Rosie’s complex will be located in South Richmond at the site of a former Kmart building on Midlothian Turnpike. It is 120,000 square feet, will have 700 Historical Horse Racing  (HHR) terminals, a prominent OTB/live simulcast area, a dining area, large bar, both smoking and non-smoking sections and a higher limit HHR area. It will have 840 parking spaces and a capacity of 3,000 people. The opening is scheduled for late June.

A third Rosie’s Gaming Emporium will open in late June in Richmond.

“When people drive by, they’ll have no idea it used to be a Kmart,” said Aaron Gomes, Chief Operating Officer of the Colonial Downs Group. “The location is ideal since highway access via Chippenham Parkway is right there. It is also convenient for people living in the suburbs, whether they are coming from the north, south, east or west. “When I was here at the last Commission meeting in February, we had 50 employees,” Gomes added. “Come June, we’ll have 745 and when live racing starts in August, we’ll be up to 900. That will represent $20 million in payroll.”

Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums are currently open at the track in New Kent (600 HHR terminals) and in Vinton (150 HHR terminals). A fourth Rosie’s is scheduled to open later this fall in Hampton.

Colonial Senior Vice-President John Marshall followed by providing updates on the live thoroughbred race meet, which begins August 8th. The limestone harness track, which was the most recent track surface, has been removed. A professional track survey was conducted and a the process of installing a new thoroughbred cushion will begin this week. A controlled burn of the Secretariat turf course took place April 16th and in the five weeks since, the entire surface has turned lush green.

Colonial Downs VP of Racing Jill Byrne stands in front of the fire during April’s turf burn.

The first seven barns, of 14 total, are being renovated currently and work continues on the dormitory facilities to make sure they are in top shape for when the stable area opens July 25th. Marshall said an emergency simulation drill took place recently on the track as well that involved New Kent fire and medical officials along with VCU personnel . “We want to be prepared should an emergency medical situation arise during the meet,” he said. 

There are many other exciting developments. Colonial Downs is now a member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) and through a partnership with Equibase, will be one of just seven tracks in the country to use GPS timing technology to gather more in race data to help both trainers and fans. Through a partnership with the National Steeplechase Association (NSA), Colonial will host two steeplechase races every Saturday during the summer meet and is working toward hosting a single one day steeplechase festival beginning in 2020 that would continue annually.

Thoroughbred racing returns to Colonial Downs August 8th.

From a marketing perspective, Colonial’s past performance information will be available in the Daily Racing Form (DRF) “PM” editions nationally and through a relationship with the New York Racing Association (NYRA), will have their signal available to wager in up to 900 locations. News articles, podcasts and blogs about the rebirth of racing in Virginia will appear in Bloodhorse, DRF, America’s Best Racing, Horse Racing Radio Network (HHRN), The Paulick Report, Steve Byk’s “At The Races” radio show and via The Racing Biz website and radio show. Colonial will produce and broadcast their simulcast signal in high definition this year and Marshall noted all Rosie’s OTB locations show incoming track signals in high def as well. 

A list of racing personnel was announced including new track announcer Jason Beam who called previously at Monmouth, Gulfstream Park West, Portland Meadows and Emerald Downs. He will be joined by on camera track analyst/handicapper Merv Huber. A number of operations staffers will be coming from Tampa Bay Downs including Dennis Petrachelli (Clerk of Scales), Carlos Garcia (Stall Superintendent) and Tony Ranno (Head Starter), who will bring a gate crew of twelve with him.

“It’s a pleasure working with a great management team who all worked for quality organizations before coming to Virginia,” said VRC Chairman D.G. Van Clief, Jr. “The outreach to the industry so far has been great. I personally am very impressed what you have done so far,” he added. These are extremely exciting times.”          

Records Fall As Midlantic Sale Concludes

The following appeared in Thoroughbred Daily News May 21st.

TIMONIUM, MD – With a blockbuster final session, the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale concluded Tuesday in Timonium with records in nearly every major category. A filly by Into Mischief caused the day’s biggest fireworks when selling for $1.8 million to Michael Lund Petersen. The seven-figure price was the most ever paid for a horse in the Midlantic sales ring and bettered the previous mark of $1.5 million set in 2017.

With 326 horses sold, the sale gross was a record $29,374,000, bettering the previous mark of $25,237,000, also set in 2017. The average of $90,104 bettered the 2015 figure of $88,859, while the median of $43,000 trailed only 2015’s figure of $45,000.

“I was hoping we would do something big based on what everyone was telling me with what they were bringing and it all came to be,” said Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sales Director Paget Bennett. “We had a lot of new buyers and a lot of new consignors here, so when you get all the new faces, that tells you that people have confidence in this sale.”

$1.8 million Into Mischief filly. Photo provided by Fasig-Tipton.

For the fifth straight year, the Midlantic sale produced a seven-figure transaction when Petersen, standing alongside bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, made his record-setting final bid for hip 360, a bay filly from Bobby Dodd’s consignment. The previous Midlantic record was set in 2017 when Breeze Easy and John Oxley teamed up to buy a colt by Curlin for $1.5 million.

The record-setting filly topped an impressive sale for Into Mischief, who had nine juveniles sell in Timonium for a total of $4,215,000 and an average of $468,333. The Spendthrift stallion was represented by three of the sale’s top eight prices, including a $710,000 colt.

Bennett admitted the record-setting auction exceeded her expectations.

“You hope to always improve over your previous year, but this really exceeded my expectations,” she said. “When that horse came in–everybody knew it was a lovely horse–and when it just kept going and going, it was very exciting. It’s great for this marketplace that consignors have the confidence to bring that type of horse to Maryland and for everybody to see that you can get the big bucks in Maryland in May.”

From a catalogue of 600 head, 425 horses went through the sales ring and 99 failed to find new homes for a buy-back rate of 23.3%. It was 22.6% a year ago, when 333 horses sold for $24,868,500. The 2018 average was $74,680 and the median was $38,000.

“I think it’s been strong and with a solid middle market,” bloodstock agent Liz Crow said of the action in Timonium. “I think there have been a lot of new names on the results sheet, which is nice to see and this a great place to have a sale. You get all of these trainers who don’t go to a lot of the other sales. It’s one of the sales where the middle market is actually existent and it’s been nice to see.”

Consignor Eddie Woods was more pragmatic about the market conditions.

“It’s all or nothing,” he said. “I think what you are able to peddle here are the horses that just need to be gone and you’ll get $35,000, $40,000 or $50,000 for them because there are people here to buy them. There is more racing in this part of the country than there is in any other part of the country period, so hence there is a bigger market for them. But it’s still all for the good horse at the end of the day and that’s all you can aim to have because, selling horses for $35,000, $40,000 or $50,000, that’s great that they are gone, but you don’t do any good.”

Into Mischief Filly Sets Midlantic Record

A filly by Into Mischief became the most expensive horse to ever sell in the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales ring when bringing a final bid of $1.8 million from Michael Lund Petersen. Petersen stood alongside bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, who did his bidding out back of the pavilion, not far from where Larry Best’s advisor John Dowd was bidding while on the phone.

For Petersen, a founding shareholder in Pandora Jewelry, the filly’s appeal started squarely with her future trainer, Bob Baffert.

“Bob loved her,” Petersen said. “I was hoping it wouldn’t go that high, but we had Bob on the phone and he still thought it was a good idea. I am solely relying on Bob. If he thinks it’s a good purchase and it’s my turn, then I am going to buy them. I don’t know enough about horses to spend $1.8 million on one. So I need a little bit of advice.”

The bay filly (hip 360) was the first to work the furlong in the bullet :10 flat time during last week’s under-tack preview. She is out of stakes-placed Peggy Jane (Kafwain) and was consigned by Bobby Dodd. Brad Grady’s Grand Oaks purchased the filly for $220,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

Petersen purchased another :10 flat worker from Dodd’s Midlantic sale consignment last year, going to $925,000 for a colt by Union Rags named Tale of the Union, who turned in a ‘TDN Rising Star’ debut at Del Mar last August. Also at the 2018 Midlantic sale, Petersen purchased a Mucho Macho Man colt for $625,000. That youngster is multiple graded stakes winner Mucho Gusto, who won Saturday’s GIII Laz Barrera S.

“Last year I bought two horses here,” Petersen said. “Mucho Gusto has done a lot of running and Tale of the Union is coming back to breeze in a couple of weeks. I guess that’s why we are here again.”

Asked how it felt to purchase the sale-record horse, Petersen admitted, “I’m still a little excited about spending that much money in five minutes. I don’t think about the history, I just thought it would be fun to have the horse. Mr. Baffert is really excited about him, so if he is excited I am excited. But I know there is a long way to go.”

Grady and Dodd are no strangers to million-dollar sales and now own the record sales price at two venues. The two teamed up to offer a colt by Tiznow who sold for an OBS record $2.45 million during the 2017 April sale.

“Bobby and I have been so fortunate,” Grady said. “We’ve sold several million-dollar horses over the years.”

Grady knew early on the Into Mischief filly was something special.

“Bobby doesn’t give the accolade of ‘freak’ very often,” Grady explained. “He’s done it a couple times. One of them happened to be the horse we went to the [GI Kentucky] Derby with and who we won the GI Haskell with, Girvin. The second time he breezed this filly, he called me and told me she was a freak. The team at the farm, Grand Oaks, does a great job. I knew if they kept her sound and happy, we would have big payday or have a good racehorse, either or. But it doesn’t make economic sense for us to keep horses like that when they are going to bring that much money.”

Of the filly’s record-setting final price tag, Grady said, “She had plenty of vetting, plenty of people, but also she had the right people. There were multiple people that could give seven figures. You never know with some of these horses how far it will go. We had a good idea that she was going to bring half a million, but it’s hard to know where it will go from there. It never crossed my mind that she could bring $1.8 million.”

Colonel John Colt to Best

Bloodstock agent John Dowd, bidding on behalf of Larry Best’s OXO Equine, was forced to $850,000 to acquire a colt by Colonel John Tuesday in Timonium. Consigned by Randy Miles, the bay (hip 528) is out of Tayrona (A.P. Warrior) and he worked a furlong last week in :10 1/5.

“We thought he was a really good individual who breezed really well,” Dowd said. “He checked all the boxes. He was a big strong, two-turn colt who has a natural turn of foot. Obviously, the stallion has left the country, but he himself was a really good horse. He won the GI Santa Anita Derby and the GI Travers S. and he was just a really good athlete.”

Colonel John, who won the 2008 Santa Anita Derby and Travers, currently stands in Korea.

The juvenile was bred by Silver Springs Stud and Susan Casner signed the ticket on the colt as a weanling at $10,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November sale. Miles acquired him privately last fall.

“We bought privately in Kentucky in October,” Miles said. “We were asked to go out and look at him for a private purchase and we fell in love with him right then. When we got him back to the barn and started breaking him and training him, with his class and athleticism, it all fell into place.”

While Miles declined to say what he paid for the yearling, he agreed it was significantly less than Tuesday’s final price tag.

“We couldn’t wait to get him here,” Miles said. “We wanted him here in Maryland to showcase him on the dirt because he just handled the dirt so well. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. This time it just worked.”

Miles continued, “The horse did everything. He breezed that way twice. He did it in his prep breeze, he did it in his timed breeze and he came back to the barn like he never breezed. He did it like it was a walk in the park. I can’t wait to watch this horse on the racetrack because his cardio must be out of this world. I really have lofty expectations for this horse. He has a great mind and he has the body and the heart. So I just can’t wait to see him.”

Bradley Stretches for Into Mischief Colt

Bloodstock agent Pete Bradley, bidding on behalf of owner Bill Lawrence, went to $710,000 to acquire a colt by Into Mischief during Tuesday’s second session of the Fasig Midlantic sale. The bay colt (hip 322) shared the quarter-mile bullet time of :21 3/5 at last week’s under-tack preview and was consigned by Top Line Sales as agent for Carlo Vaccarezza.

“I liked everything about him,” Bradley said. “He had beautiful balance, good stride and good mind. It is so hard to buy a good horse and it’s really tough for the rest of them to sell here. There are a lot of good judges here. A good horse comes in and there is plenty of money. Everyone you talk to has said it, you have to stretch. He was an exceptionally nice horse and those are hard to buy.”

The colt is out of Nihilist (Latent Heat), a half-sister to stakes winners Green Suede Shoes (Meadow Monster) and Cosmo Girl (City Zip) from the family of Grade I winner Ermine.

Vaccarezza purchased the colt for $265,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale. He RNA’d for $575,000 after working a furlong in :10 1/5 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale in March.

“He was a big, pretty colt down there, but I didn’t have an order for him then,” Bradley said when asked if he had seen the juvenile prior to the Gulfstream sale.

Top Line’s Torie Gladwell said the colt has only improved since March.

“Ever since the Miami sale, he just got better and better,” Gladwell said. “He never had a day off or did anything wrong. He was just a true, solid racehorse. He worked in :10 1/5 at Gulfstream and galloped out well there. He was just a little immature. A lot of people knew we were high on him and I think we were a little too high on him, but here he was just a star. He really showed up.”

Of the decision to work the colt a quarter in Timonium, Gladwell said, “He is super fit. We actually breezed him three eighths on the farm a couple weeks ago. He’s just gotten fitter and fitter and we knew he would breeze a quarter here really well even though he is a big horse. Our track is small at home, so we knew he would be able to handle the tight turns on this small track here.”

Vaccarezza, making his first concerted foray into pinhooking this year, has had several notable successes. During Monday’s session of the Midlantic sale, he sold a colt by Street Sense for a session-topping $500,000. That colt had been a $280,000 Keeneland September acquisition.

Another Filly For Speedway

Peter Fluor of Speedway Stable and bloodstock agent Marette Farrell have been focused on buying fillies with an eye towards increasing the operation’s fledgling broodmare band this week in Timonium. They added another potential broodmare to the stable Tuesday, going to $570,000 for a filly from the first crop of Palace (City Zip) (hip 384).

“She had a great work. I loved her composure and her class and she has a nice dam,” Fluor said. “We were looking for an athlete and she was very impressive to us. Obviously a lot of other people liked her, too. But the important thing is to be the last one [to bid]. Otherwise, we’re not talking and Boyd [Browning]’s not happy.”

Speedway also purchased a filly by Bernardini during Monday’s first session of the Midlantic sale, going to $335,000 for hip 85.

Hip 384 is out of Prenuptial Vow (Broken Vow) and is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Theperfectvow (Majesticperfection).

The filly, who worked a furlong last week in :10 1/5, has made a habit of being popular in the sales ring. She was purchased by Peter O’Callaghan for $140,000 as a weanling at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton November sale. A pinhooking partnership led by Eddie Woods purchased her for $170,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

Asked if he was surprised that a filly from Palace’s first crop attracted a $570,000 bid, Woods explained, “For the Palace, yes, but for the horse, no. She was the most expensive Palace yearling from the past year. And she is stunning. Every time you look at her, you think, ‘Wow.’ She’s just one of those. And she was just like that the day I saw her in Peter O’Callaghan’s barn at Keeneland. I thought, ‘We’ll never get this one.’ And she’s been like that all year.”

The filly worked a furlong at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale in :10 flat, but little else went right for her in South Florida, Woods said.

“We took her to Miami and she had the joint-fastest move of the day, but it was on her wrong lead,” Woods said. “And the whole Miami experience wasn’t good. She hated the place. She didn’t act right, she didn’t act like she normally does. She didn’t eat. It was just a mess. And at Miami, you can’t stutter step, so we just regrouped and came here. And she’s done everything perfectly.”

More Pharoah for Durant

Josh Stevens, bidding on behalf of owner Tom Durant, purchased a daughter of American Pharoah out of a full-sister to Tapit for $275,000 at last month’s OBS April sale. He was so happy with that purchase, the bloodstock agent went to $530,000 for a colt by the Triple Crown winner out of Our Love Tap (Tapit) (hip 350) for the same owner in Timonium Tuesday.

“We had bought an American Pharoah filly for Tom Durant at OBS April who was from the family of Tapit,” Stevens said. “This colt, being out of a Tapit mare, made our list and then that pushed us over the edge because we are really happy with that filly.”

Both juveniles will be trained by Bret Calhoun, but the colt will be given plenty of time to mature.

“Having an owner like Tom who is willing to turn the horse out and let him grow up a little bit gave us more confidence to go after a horse that we think is going to be better when he gets a little older,” Stevens said.

Our Love Tap is a half-sister to Grade I winner Dearest Trickski (Proudest Romeo) and a full to graded-placed Gray Sky.

Hip 350 worked a furlong during last week’s under-tack preview in :10 3/5. He was consigned to the Midlantic sale by Paul Sharp and was part of Sharp and Liz Crow’s pinhooking venture, which purchased him for $200,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

“He is so easy to be around,” Crow said. “He is so calm and carries himself with class. Every single thing we’ve asked him to do, he’s done it like it was nothing.”

Crow admitted the colt’s work was a concern when they sent him through the sales ring Tuesday.

“We were a little disappointed he went in :10 3/5 because we know how talented he is and I know what it takes at these sales to bring a million-plus dollars,” she said. “We really thought all year he could be that quality horse. But we are really happy with who got him. I’m happy he is going to a good program and we’ll see him down the road.”

Malibu Moon Colt a Score for Scanlon

David Scanlon, who admitted he was pleasantly surprised to acquire a colt by Malibu Moon for just $25,000 from the Eaton Sales consignment at last year’s Keeneland September sale, was rewarded Tuesday in Timonium when the juvenile (hip 497) brought a final bid of $275,000 from trainer Ian Wilkes, bidding on behalf of Bob Lothenbach.

“It was kind of a heads-up deal,” Scanlon said of the September purchase. “My partner, Frankie O’Connor, he works at Eaton. We looked at him and Frankie pointed him our way and said he seemed to be falling through the cracks. $25,000 was probably a little cheaper than we expected. We were prepared to pay $50,000 or more. When we paid $25,000, we thought it was our lucky day.”

The colt is out of Steely Magnolia (More Than Ready), a half-sister to GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Stopchargingmaria (Tale of the Cat). He worked a furlong in :10 1/5 during last week’s under tack preview.

“He has grown and he really filled out,” Scanlon said of the colt. “He had a really nice walk as a baby and a really nice hip, but he was just immature looking. So we pointed him to a later sale to give him time to mature. And he was just a runner. He had all the good points. He is a Malibu Moon, but had the best parts of More Than Ready.”

Of the result, Scanlon said, “It’s typical pinhooking. A couple of them you get beat up on and this one you get rewarded.”

Scanlon sent 12 horses through the sales ring in Timonium this week and sold all 12 for a total of $1,424,000 and an average of $118,667.

“It has been really good sale,” he said. “The clearance has been great. We’ve sold every horse. So when you can hit a couple of good home runs and sell every horse, that’s a really good horse sale.”

L & N Racing Strikes for Tapit Colt

As the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale was winding down Tuesday, Lee Levinson’s L & N Racing swooped in to purchase a Tapit half-brother to Saturday’s GI Preakness S. winner War of Will (War Front) for $260,000 while bidding over the phone.

“He’s a Tapit who is a half to War of Will–those are the kind of horses we look for,” Levinson’s son Michael said. “He obviously didn’t have the most impressive work of the day, but we thought he galloped out well.”

Lee Levinson added, “He is well bred and we love to buy well-bred horses. The ones who go longer take longer to develop, so we’ll give him time.”

The bay colt (hip 575), a $130,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October Yearling purchase, is out of Visions of Clarity (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells). In addition to War of Will, he is a half-brother to Group 1 winner Pathfork (Distorted Humor) and multiple stakes winner Tacticus (A.P. Indy). He worked a furlong last week in :10 3/5.

Given the colt’s stand-out pedigree and War of Will’s Preakness win, was the father-son team surprised to acquire the 2-year-old for $260,000?

“To be honest, yes,” Michael said. “He vetted well, but he went later in the sale. Maybe people who were on him had already bought what they wanted to buy. We think it’s a good buy. I guess we’ll find out when he gets to the track.”

The youngster will be trained by Steve Asmussen.

The L & N Racing partnership, which also includes Lee Levinson’s son Andy and family friend Don Nelson, finished second with Lookin at Lee (Lookin at Lucky) in the 2017 GI Kentucky Derby.

Street Sense Colt Brings $500,000 To Top Active First Day Of Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale

The following appeared in The Paulick Report May 21st.

Paul Fireman has seen good fortune in the Baltimore area, having sent Senior Investment to a third-place finish in the 2017 Preakness Stakes. He left his mark on the city’s Thoroughbred industry again on Monday, buying a $500,000 Street Sense colt through trainer Kenny McPeek at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds In Training Sale.

The bay colt, who went through the ring as Hip 156, is out of the unplaced Forest Wildcat mare Forest Fashion, who is the dam of two winners from three foals to race. His extended family includes Epsom Oaks winner Casual Look and Grade 1 winner Charleston Rag.

Hip 156 is a Street Sense colt.

“I thought he was a real standout here,” McPeek said. “The sire is a Derby winner, and the bottom line has speed. He did great breezing and presented himself really well out back. He had an injection of Deputy Minister on the bottom line through the second dam, which I’m always fond of. I’ve had a lot of luck with that line.

“Paul Fireman, the principal on this one, is always looking for a good horse,” the trainer continued. “He had Restless Rider in the Kentucky Oaks this year, so we’ve been sniffing around at some top-end stuff, and this is what he’s after.”

The colt breezed a quarter-mile in :21 4/5 seconds, a fifth off the overall fastest effort, during the pre-sale under-tack show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Md.

“He can run short if you needed him to, but I think he’s really going to want to go longer than that,” McPeek said. “He certainly showed the turn of foot you need to win big races.”

Top Line Sales consigned the colt, as agent for Carlo Vaccarezza, who bought him for $280,000 at last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

“He’s nice colt, he just took a little bit longer to get ready,” said Top Line’s Torie Gladwell. “We actually had him entered in the [Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream] sale, and he was just a bit heavier than the other horses that we took down there, so we opted to scratch him out of Miami and just keep him, train him, and bring him up here. We knew he’d be a big fish up here, and then he was.”

The transaction was the high point for what has been a highly productive day for the Top Line Sales consignment. The Williston, Fla.-based operation handled two of the day’s four most expensive horses, with the early bar being set by an Uncle Mo filly who went to Bob Lothenbach’s Lothenbach Stables for $350,000.

The bay filly, offered as Hip 90, is out of the placed Unbridled’s Song mare Claire’s Song, whose first foal to race is the stakes-placed Elusive Mischief. The Virginia-bred’s extended family includes Canadian Horse of the Year Wonder Gadot and Grade 1 winner Secret Spice.

Trainer Ian Wilkes signed the ticket on behalf of the Lothenbach operation, which also picked up a Pioneerof the Nile colt on Monday for $195,000.

“She’s a nice filly,” Wilkes said. “We’ll just ship her back and see if she needs a little time, and we’ll talk to Bob and make a plan from there.”

The filly breezed an eighth of a mile in :10 2/5 seconds during the under-tack show.

Top Line Sales handled the filly as agent for Zayat Stables, which bought her for $160,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale.

Candy Bar, by Uncle Mo, Goes To Schwartz For $475,000

Martin Schawrtz wasn’t on the property for the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale, but he still made a splash, bidding by phone to land the Uncle Mo colt Candy Bar for $475,000.

Sold as Hip 236, the dark bay or brown colt is out of the unraced Unbridled’s Song mare Lady Godiva, making him a half-brother to G1 winner Leofric. Residing further down the page are G1 winners Golden Ticket, Well Chosen and Telling.

Eddie Woods, as agent, consigned the colt, who breezed an eighth in :10 2/5 seconds. Woods’ Quarter Pole Enterprises bought the colt as a yearling for $225,000 at the Keeneland September sale.

Webber Buys Ghostzapper Filly For $400,000

A Ghostzapper filly reached the high end of the Midlantic sale market, going to Temple Webber for $400,000.

A dark bay or brown filly who went through the ring as Hip 205, she’s out of the stakes-winning Indian Charlie mare I’m Mom’s Favorite, whose eight foals to race are all winners. Also included on the dam’s produce record is Grade 3-placed Toutsie Rules and stakes-placed Charm City Girl. Her third dam is the Grade 1 winner Tout Charmant.

“I loved her topline, her breeze was very impressive, and she had a great shoulder and hip to match,” said bloodstock agent Lauren Carlisle. “All the angles were there.”

The filly breezed an eighth of a mile in :10 2/5 seconds.

“She galloped out very well on my clock, so that was good enough for me,” Carlisle said.

Pelican State Thoroughbreds consigned the filly, as agent. She was a $185,000 purchase at last year’s Fasig-Tipton October sale by Mountmellick Farm.

Average, Median Up On Day One

The opening day of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale kept up with a strong pace set in previous years, posting improved average and median sale prices compared with last year’s first day of trade.

A total of 156 horses changed hands on Monday for revenues of $11,402,500, down 5 percent from last year’s opening-day gross of $12,066,000 from 172 horses sold. The average price rose 4 percent to $73,093, while the median grew 19 percent to $43,000.

“It’s pretty much the market that we’ve seen throughout the 2-year-old season of 2019,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “I think we’ve probably got more top-end horses tomorrow, based on the chatter on the sales grounds from consignors and buyers, so hopefully we have some fireworks, but it’s a good, solid, consistent marketplace at a variety of levels.”

Monday’s buyback rate finished at 26 percent, compared with 22 percent during last year’s opener.

“I think that’s the nature of a 2-year-olds in training sale,” Browning said. “When the consignors have less than the desired activity in terms of veterinary action on a horse, owners have the opportunity if they don’t think it’ll be a successful effort going through the sales ring, they’ll retain those horses and most of them will go enter their racing stables.”

To view the full results from Monday’s session, click here.

Triumphant Return For Catholic Boy In Dixie Stakes

The following appeared in and was written by Meredith Daughtery. Catholic Boy is trained by native Virginian Jonathan Thomas, whose father John Dale Thomas is the Virginia Equine Alliance Track Superintendent.

Tucked safely away in his stall, insulated from Preakness Day crowds and the reverberating bass of infield celebrations, the only sounds Catholic Boy heard before his start in the May 18 $250,000 Dixie Stakes (G2T) were the quiet snaps of rubber bands as assistant trainer Melissa Cohen methodically braided his mane.

Catholic Boy made his 2019 debut by capturing the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico. Photo by Jim McCue.

Six and a half months after Catholic Boy completed the last start of his sophomore campaign in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs, the mood at the Pimlico Race Course stakes barn was quiet. Trainer Jonathan Thomas waited patiently for Cohen to finish his protégé’s pre-race routine. He would be there to lead him to the track when he was ready. 

While many horses struggle with extended time off between races, Catholic Boy quickly put any cause for trepidation to rest. The 2019 racing season could not have started any better for the multiple grade 1 winner, who scored by a half-length in the Dixie and proved that talent doesn’t take time off. 

Catholic Boy is trained by Jonathan Thomas, son of Virginia Equine Alliance Track Superintendent John Dale Thomas. Photo by Jim McCue.

“What an incredible horse. What an incredible effort,” said Robert LaPenta, who owns the ridgling son of More Than Ready  in partnership with Madaket Stables, Siena Farm, and Twin Creeks Racing Stables. “Six and a half months off—this was not an easy race, and he made us proud.” 

Sent off as the favorite in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile turf test, Catholic Boy broke inward from the far outside post 10 and briefly made contact with Inspector Lynley, but recovered quickly. Driving to the front with Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano aboard, the 4-year-old carved out a niche for himself in third and settled in for a stalking trip, just off pacesetter Real Story

Dueling with Paret to his inside, Catholic Boy moved up to take second as the half-mile went in :47.71. From that point on, there seemed little doubt he was the one who was really in control. Awaiting his cue from Castellano at the quarter pole, Catholic Boy drove forward down the lane to challenge Real Story and eked out a head advantage with a furlong left to run. 

Catholic Boy’s connections celebrate his Dixie Stakes victory. Photo by Jim McCue.

Edging forward as they approached the wire, Catholic Boy refused to yield, fending off a late challenge from Admission Office on the rail. The final time was 1:41.09. 

After Admission Office came Just Howard in third. Real Story was a nose behind in fourth, followed by O Dionysus, Inspector Lynley, Phlash Phelps, Paret, Have At It, and Something Awesome

“He was great,” said Castellano. “He’s a super horse. You can do whatever you want. He can be on pace, he can come from behind. I like the way he did it. Coming off a layoff since the Breeders’ Cup, that’s a long time to put in a good race like he did today. It was a great performance. We’ve been working together with Jonathan, and he did an excellent job with the horse to bring him to perform the way he did.”

“I was thinking in the stretch he might need a better trainer,” Thomas joked. “He’s such a gifted horse. I would have been happy coming here and running a good second or third and galloping out well. But he has it in him to win. It was a great race.” 

One of the most versatile runners to grace the sport in recent years, Catholic Boy scored two consecutive grade 1 races in 2018. With no preference for surface, he wowed audiences on the East Coast by first taking the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T) on the grass at Belmont Park and then adding the Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course on the dirt. 

“He can go any distance—a mile and a sixteenth, a mile and a quarter,” said Castellano, who was aboard Catholic Boy in both the Travers and the Belmont Derby Invitational. “On the dirt or turf. He’s a super horse. We don’t see too many horses like that. Grade 1 on the turf and the dirt.” 

A winner of seven of his 11 starts and with earnings over over $1.9 million, Catholic Boy was bred in Kentucky by Fred W. Hertrich III and John D. Fielding out of the Bernardini mare Song of Bernadette, who produced an unraced Super Saver  colt named Catholic Brother in 2016, a Carpe Diem  filly in 2017, and an Exaggerator  filly in 2018. She was bred to War Front  for 2019.

He went unsold on a final bid of $170,000 as a short yearling when consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency to the 2016 Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale but was eventually purchased privately by LaPenta, who campaigned him on his own through his first four starts. 

For LaPenta, no words of praise could come close to describing his feelings for Catholic Boy, who has exceeded every one of LaPenta’s expectations in his short career. Both LaPenta and Thomas said a likely next target will be the July 6 Suburban Stakes (G2) at Belmont. 

“He needed a rest,” LaPenta said. “He ran hard last year in those two grade 1 races at Belmont and then winning the Travers—he deserved a break. This couldn’t be any better. Now we have confidence that he’s back, and hopefully we will see some exciting times in the summer.

“It was a perfect day. It’s so emotional because, in this sport, you don’t get to celebrate more than 10 or 20% of the time, so when you do, it’s off the charts. He’s very special to me. He really is.” 

Video: Dixie S. (G2T)

Midlantic Sale Poised For Middle-Market Success

The following appeared on and was written by Ron Mitchell.

If there is a juvenile sale well positioned for a strong middle market, it’s the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale May 20-21 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds near Timonium, Md. 

Due to its central location near Baltimore, the Midlantic sale is convenient to a broader buyer base than is typically found at markets in Florida, Kentucky, or California. That, according to those involved in the process, and other factors set up well for a vibrant sale Monday and Tuesday.

“There are lots of people here looking at all levels,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning, Jr. “There are a lot of racing circuits within a two- to three-hour drive that feed off this market and provide depth. At this time of year, a lot of people need horses coming into their barns.”

“I think it’s a great place to sell a horse,” said Mark Roberts of Hidden Brook Farm. “You can get $1 million or you can sell one for $25,000. In my opinion, it’s the strongest middle-market sale in the country, particularly if you have a regionally bred horse. It’s a great spot. In two hours, you can have 80% of the trainers on the East Coast by driving here.”

Roberts said the strength of the Midlantic sale is one reason he and other consignors specifically target the auction for juveniles with broad appeal.

“I have nine horses here, and I aimed them all at this sale,” Roberts said. “None of these were in another sale. From day one, they were coming here. And I like them all.”

Kevin McKathan of McKathan Bros. said the Midlantic auction attracts more trainers who are selecting and buying than other sales in which agents dominate the selection process.

“You feel like there is a little more middle market here because you have guys who race at Penn National or Laurel come here and back the middle market pretty well,” McKathan said. “I believe you can sell any kind of horse here. You get a lot of trainers from New York, Maryland, and Pennsylvania who shop for their own horses. We don’t have that luxury at a lot of the other sales.”

The sale begins two days after the Preakness Stakes (G1) at nearby Pimlico Race Course, providing owners, trainers, and others with a buoyant four-day extravaganza of racing and sales.

“People are in a good mood when they’re here,” said agent Steve Young, noting that he has had good success with Midlantic sale graduates. “It’s a great place.”

Saturday’s Preakness provided a timely update for at least one horse as Hip 575 from Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables is a son of leading sire Tapit  who is a half brother to War of Will, winner of the middle leg of the Triple Crown.

The overall juvenile market this year has been slightly above or stable with 2018, with a diverse group of 600 head cataloged adding to optimism heading into Monday. As of 8 a.m. Sunday, 124 horses had been withdrawn from the sale.

Topped by the $1.2 million paid by agent Dennis O’Neill for a son of Medaglia d’Oro , last year’s sale resulted in 333 horses selling for gross receipts of $24,868,500, a slight decline from the $25,237,000 total paid the previous year, with average dipping 2.3%. The $38,000 median reflected a gain of 8.6%.

“We have a really good group of horses on the grounds. We have a really good group of buyers on the grounds,” Browning said Sunday morning as the barn area was a bevy of activity with horses being inspected under bright sunny skies. “It feels good. We have seen strength in the 2-year-old market for the most part this year, and I’m optimistic heading into the sale. At this time of year, a lot of people need horses coming into their barns.”

Randy Hartley of Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds said the consignors are motivated to sell because the Midlantic is the final sale of the year for the Florida-based consignors, who are sitting out the Ocala Breeders’ Sales June 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale and Fasig-Tipton’s inaugural Santa Anita 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale in California.

“This is the end of the road because there are no other sales for us,” Hartley said. “We race, but for us we have to reinvest in stock for next year, so this is the end of the trail. We’re here to sell. It looks like there are enough people here to make for a strong sale.”

While Hartley/DeRenzo’s consignment includes some 2-year-olds that were pricey yearling purchases, Hartley said the consignors are committed sellers.

“We have some expensive pinhooks here and people know what they cost, and we’re getting veterinary work done on them and good showing on them,” he said. “They worked good and came back good. We would love to make a profit, but at the end of the day, we just need to get them in the right hands to get out there and run.”

Sale sessions begin at 11 a.m. ET.