Monthly Archives: September 2009

Murph returns

Look who’s back in Detroit…

Mrs. Murphy is entered to run on October 2, 2009 at PINNACLE RACE COURSE.

Race: 8  Distance: Six Furlongs  Surface: Dirt  Age: 3  –  Filly
Race Type: Maiden Claiming Purse: $ 7,500
Jockey: Mike Roll
Trainer: Randall R. Russell
Race conditions: FOR MICHIGAN BRED MAIDENS, FILLIES AND MARES THREE YEARS OLD AND UPWARD. Three Year Olds, 120 lbs.; Older, 123 lbs. Claiming Price $8,000.
Last Raced: 09/03/2009 at PRESQUE ISLE DOWNS in Race 4
Finish Position: 6th
Last Reported Workouts:
08/25/2009-PINNACLE RACE COURSE-Four Furlongs-Dirt Fast-54:00 Breezing
05/30/2009-PINNACLE RACE COURSE-Five Furlongs-Dirt Fast-1.06:00 Breezing
05/19/2009-PINNACLE RACE COURSE-Four Furlongs-Dirt Fast-56:80 Breezing

I have not yet had the opportunity to look at the past performances for this race, as my Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance 10 DRF Formulator programs for $10 discount expired a few days ago. What I do know is Mrs. Murphy is running in the card’s night cap and is the fourth choice at odds of 6-1. It will be a full field, and she will start from around the middle stall.

Mike Roll is a new rider for Murph, but he appears to have established himself the trainer’s go-to guy, so clearly he has confidence in him. The last time I remember Randy having a rider on retainer like this was Jareth Loveberry at Great Lakes Downs, who was the most consistent and successful rider my grandpa’s horse, Royal Charley, ever had on his back.

Also working to Murph’s advantage is a slight drop in class. After spending her time at Pinnacle running in open-fillies $12,500 maiden claiming company, she will drop down to a state-bred $8,000 tag. Perhaps the change in competition will be a welcome one.

With the Pinnacle meet drawing to a close in the coming weeks, this could be my last opportunity for the year to see Mrs. Murphy race in person. Hopefully she can pull this one off.

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Retteles take two on Mount Pleasant’s getaway day

Fearless Fred much the best in Budwieser Futurity

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Fearless Fred (4) pulls clear to win the Budweiser Futurity at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

Fearless Fred took command in the stretch to win Sunday’s $38,360 Budweiser Futurity at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

The two-year-old Fredricksburg gelding broke cleanly and challenged for the lead with Alley Rose 123 and Which Wich 501 in the race’s early goings. After a quick initial burst by Which Wich 501, Fearless Fred took control of the lead and never looked back. He was clear by a length in the middle of the stretch and extended his lead to a length and a quarter as he crossed the finish under an intermittent right hand whip by jockey Richard Rettele. Post time favorite Uno Corona dueled with Which Wich 501 and nipped her rival at the wire to take the runner-up spot.

Fearless Fred won the 400 yard race with a time of 20.446 seconds over a fast track. He left the gates as the second choice at odds of 1.90-to-one.

Fearless Fred was homebred in Texas by Walter Harrison and trained by Carol Rettele. The Budweiser Futurity was his fourth win from seven starts, as well as his first win in stakes company. His career earnings now total $20,899.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

4 – Fearless Fred (Richard Rettele) 5.80 / 3.20 / 4.40
7 – Uno Corona (Oscar Delgado) 2.80 / 4.80
5 – Which Wich 501 (Tasha Fritz) 5.00

400 Yards
Time: 20.446 seconds

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Your winner, Fearless Fred; Richard Rettele, up.

To see results from the rest of Mount Pleasant’s closing day stakes races, just click the link below.

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Bubble Watch

Will Meadow Wise be Michigan's THoroughbred of the Year in 2009? He's as live as any.

Will Meadow Wise be Michigan's Thoroughbred of the Year in 2009? He's as live as any.

The Sire Stakes has a way of sorting things out when it comes to year-end awards.

In 2008, the winners of the marquee race’s six divisions accounted for all seven of the Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s awards (one for each division and horse of the year) and six of the seven awards from Pinnacle Race Course, as decided by the track’s announcer, Matt Hook. Though the purses for this year’s installment will likely be no higher than the average stakes prize of $50,000, the races will no doubt still hold a special weight with voters.

With the Sire Stakes a week away, most of the division honors are still very much up for grabs. This Saturday will give the horses on the bubble a chance for a statement win to pad their resume.

With that in mind, let us take a look at each of the divisions and see who is in the driver’s seat heading into the Sire Stakes, who has some work to do, and who is grasping at straws.

In my forecasting of the divisions and their awards, I operated under the assumption that the Pinnacle awards are based solely on performance at the Detroit racetrack, while the MTOBA awards took into consideration the entire campaign of Michigan-breds in and out-of-state. If I am wrong in my assumptions don’t hesitate to correct me.

While reading these projections, keep in mind this analysis is strictly the opinion of this blogger. The views, rankings and projections do not necessarily represent those of the people actually deciding the year-end awards. These predictions are based on the horses’ projected paths through the end of the Pinnacle meet. If one of these horses goes crazy and takes down a graded race in Kentucky or something along those lines, these predictions will obviously change.

Now touch gloves and fight clean…

Two-Year-Old Male: With only one of the three stakes races for juvenile males complete, Prince of Paulie is the clubhouse leader by virtue of his win in the Sep. 12 Patrick Wood Stakes. Finishing first in either the Sire Stakes or the Michigan Futurity ought to be enough for the Meadow Prayer gelding to lock the award down with both groups. The horse with best chance of moving up should Prince of Paulie falter could be the runner-up in the Patrick Wood, Power of Titus. A win in the Sire Stakes would go a long way in grabbing the voters’ attention, especially if Prince of Paulie finishes off the board. The two-year-old season is just getting started in Michigan, so much is left to shake out.

Two-Year-Old Female: Similar to their male counterparts, Hustle Now holds the top spot in both jurisdictions on the strength of her victory in the Sep. 12 Sickle’s Image Stakes, the division’s only blacktype race to date. One more stakes win would give her two out of three, which ought to be enough. Second place finisher Top Touch showed a lot of grit during her stretch battle with Hustle Now in the Sickle’s Image. However she will be hard-pressed to shake her rival from her post because Top Touch is not eligible for the Sire Stakes. Her sire, Touch Gold, stands in Kentucky. A win in the Michigan Juvenile Fillies and some help might get the job done, though. All things considered, it is much too soon to declare solid favorites in this division. The picture for both juvenile classes will be much clearer after the Sire Stakes.

Three-Year-Old Male: Meadow Wise has shown up to every dance and has yet to turn in a clunker. A finish in the top two next Saturday will put him in the driver’s seat for year-end honors. Juggle and Perfect Start both have stakes wins to their credit, but would need a win in their next race (and for Juggle, probably some help) to overthrow Meadow Wise in either poll. Perfect Start’s out-of-state sire will likely keep him out of the discussion for the Pinnacle honors because he can not compete in the Sire Stakes. However, the Jump Start colt could have a date elsewhere on Sire Stakes day, as he is nominated for the Oct. 3 Ohio Derby (G2) at Thistledown. Regardless of what Meadow Wise does at Pinnacle, a graded stakes win might be enough to persuade MTOBA’s voters.

Three-Year-Old Female: This division has been a game of musical chairs between Moon Charmer, Hakuna Matata, and Baba Booyah. Each has finished in the top three in the last two sophomore filly stakes races and the orders have been shuffled each time, once even further by a disqualification. Heading into the Sire Stakes though, Moon Charmer holds the upper hand based on her win against older company, including 2008 Horse of the Year Valley Loot, in the Sep. 12 Farer Belle Lee Handicap. That win will need to leave a lasting impression, because the Indian Charlie filly will not be eligible for the Sire Stakes. Her two rivals need to win the Sire Stakes by a serious margin to offset a win against older company. A second place finish or worse by Hakuna Matata or Baba Booyah will likely dash their hopes for the sophomore filly honors.

Older Male: Meadow Vespers controls his own destiny in this division. A fifth straight Sire Stakes win, or maybe even a strong second or third, will clinch the older male title in both jurisdictions. His closest rivals, All I Can Get and Fiery Lake, will not be in the gates for next Saturday’s race and have not shown enough this year to pass the defending champion, which works even further to Meadow Vespers’ advantage. If Meadow Vespers should come up empty in the Sire Stakes, a dominant victory (at least five lengths and visually impressive) could vault perennial runners-up Hot Chili or Demagoguery into the discussion, but they would both face an uphill battle.

Older Female: Valley Loot has had a pretty good year by most standards, with a stakes win at Mountaineer and a third place finish in a $100,000 race at Presque Isle Downs. She just hasn’t done much winning at Pinnacle. Still, a first place finish on Saturday would clinch the MTOBA award and give her the inside track in the Pinnacle race. Having the name recognition as the defending Horse of the year doesn’t hurt either. Yawm Estoora is the only horse on the grounds to have won two stakes races at Pinnacle this year, but her disappointing performance in the Farer Belle Lee and ineligibility in the Sire Stakes leaves her closing argument lacking. Her resume may be strong enough to win the Pinnacle award though, especially if Valley Loot runs poorly or skips the Sire Stakes for greener pastures.

Horse of the Year: If Meadow Wise wins his Sire Stakes race, he’ll hold all the cards for Horse of the Year in both polls. No one else will have run as consistently and successfully at Pinnacle throughout the meet. If he has an off day, the door is open for Meadow Vespers and Valley Loot, assuming they win their division’s races. Meadow Vespers would likely hold the advantage in the Pinnacle poll because he already has a stakes win at the track under his belt. Valley Loot’s complete body of work in 2009 would probably give her an advantage in the MTOBA awards. The wild card in this equation is Perfect Start. Michigan does not get too many graded stakes winners, so if he pulls the upset in the Ohio Derby, all bets are off, at least for the MTOBA award.

Those are my thoughts. Who do you think sits at the head of the class going into the Sire Stakes? Who has some work left to do? I invite your discussion on Michigan’s six divisions and Horse of the Year honors.

Look for previews of the Sire Stakes races throughout the upcoming week.

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Closing day stakes action at Mount Pleasant Meadows

Uno Corona seeks first stakes win in Budweiser Futurity

Fearless Fred was one of two horses to set the fastest time in the trials for Sunday's Oil Capital Derby at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

Fearless Fred was one of two horses to set the fastest time in the trials for Sunday's Oil Capital Derby at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

The last day of the meet offers Michigan’s top juveniles one last chance to prove themselves in Sunday’s $20,000 Budweiser Futurity at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

Each horse in the full field of 10 entries will be trying for his or her first stakes breakthrough in the 400-yard event.

One of two horses to post the fastest qualifying time in the Budweiser Futurity Trials was Uno Corona, at 20.39 seconds. The Corona For Me filly has had a globetrotting juvenile campaign, with starts at Manor Downs, The Red Mile, Hoosier Park and Mount Pleasant. The Oil Capital Derby will the first time she has made multiple starts at one track, after winning her trial by 1 1/2 lengths on Sep. 13. Oscar Delgado retains the mount for owner Ignacio Soto and trainer Rolando Almanza.

Fearless Fred also stopped the clocks in his trial with the fastest time of 20.39 seconds. The Fredricksburg gelding won his Sep. 13 trial by two lengths. Carol Rettele trains Fearless Fred for owner Walter Harrison. Richard Rettele will have the mount.

The winner of the third trial, Fishin For A Lady is also entered in Sunday’s final. The Fishin Kisses gelding crossed the wire in 20:53 seconds in his Sep. 13 trial, a length and a half ahead of the runner-up. Fishin for a Lady is owned by R and R Racing Stable LLC and trained by Tony Cunningham. Rafael Fernandez picks up the mount for the Oil Capital Derby.

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds

1. Alley Rose 123 / M Holmes / J Hall / 7-1
1A. Eight Below 123 / L Gates / J Hall / 7-1
2. Fishin For A Lady / R V Fernandez / A F Cunningham / 4-1
3. Snaptooit / R Rettele / C Rettele / 10-1
4. Fearless Fred / R Rettele / C Rettele / 2-1
5. Which Wich 501 / N Fritz / A F Cunningham / 8-1
6. Go Little Val / C Garrison / S D Garrison / 12-1
7. Uno Corona / O Delgado / R Almanza / 7-5
8. Playin Favorites / G W Mayhew / C Rettele / 6-1
9. Later Version / N Alcala / C Rettele / 20-1

More stakes previews from getaway day at Mount Pleasant Meadows can be found behind the jump. Just click the link below.

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Signs of the times

My never-ending quest for Michigan racing memorabilia yielded an interesting find. Have a look at what I found at the Burley Park flea market a couple weeks ago…

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It’s a sign from the now-defunct Great Lakes Downs in Muskegon. It is somewhat ironic that a sign I frequently ignored at the races managed to grab my attention in the outside world.

I saw it lying in a wicker basket and thought to myself “I’d recognize that font and color scheme anywhere.” Just to make sure, I asked the vendor where he found the sign, and he told me he got it from a Muskegon scrap yard. Jackpot. The sign was soon in my possession.

After a series of auctions stripped GLD of little souvenirs like this and scattered them across the state, and likely across the nation, it has been hard times for the memento collector in me (aside from a pad of paper from the racetrack kindly given to me by a couple of former members of the Office of Racing Commissioner after reading the above post). A recent article and photo essay further confirmed that nothing will be left standing of my old favorite track when it’s all said and done.

That said, something as small as a “keep off the fence” sign totally made my day.

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Michigan industry leaders discuss unity, upcoming issues

Accomplishing the collective goals of Michigan’s racing industry will be easier if its factions work together, stated the common rhetoric of speakers during an industry meeting last Friday at Pinnacle Race Course.

Representatives from Michigan’s racetracks and horsemen’s groups, as well as the Office of Racing Commissioner and other members of state government, met under the track’s patio to make connections, discuss the direction of racing in the state, and introduce newly appointed Acting Racing Commissioner, Patricia Lockwood.

After recent announcements by Gov. Jennifer Granholm rekindled the possibility of alternative wagering in Michigan’s racetracks to help close Michigan’s gaping budget deficit, there was much to discuss.

The event, largely organized by breeder Ron Fitzgerald, was hosted by Pinnacle owner Jerry Campbell.

Campbell encouraged those in attendance to contact their state representatives and inform them of the benefits Michigan’s racing industry can have for the state’s economy.

“We want to work hard with our leaders in Lansing to see if we can get something done and help solve the budget crisis,” Campbell said.

Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association President Brett Boyd said he called Campbell, among many others, shortly after hearing about Granholm’s statements.

“My message to Jerry was I think we need to strike while the anvil’s hot,” Boyd said. “The opportunity is absolutely at our fingertips.”

Throughout the meeting, speakers discussed the immediate goal of implementing instant racing terminals with the long term goal of full-fledged racinos. Campbell said these additions could potentially quadruple purses at the state’s five racetracks.

However, an old foe stands in the way.

“Unfortunately, Proposal 1 is one of the most magnificently drafted pieces of legislation ever,” Boyd said. “It creates a lot of hurdles and obstacles for our businesses.”

Despite this challenge, Boyd was optimistic the state’s budget situation could be the factor that tips the scales in the racing industry’s favor.

“Never in history, and I’ve been around a while, have I seen the appetite of our state reps be so willing to help,” he said. “And now they have a problem we can help them solve.

Other speakers included the following:

– Patti Dickinson, Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association President
– Gary Tinkle, Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director
– Larry Julian, Former state representative and Michigan Equine Partnership Legislative Liason
– Mike Huckleberry, State Representative  (D-Greenville)
– Tony Cunningham, Great Lakes Quarter Horse Association President
– Cindy Denby, State Representative (R-Fowlerville)
– Mike Sadler, Chief of Staff of Rep. Mike Simpson (D-Jackson)
– Jack Krasula, Pinnacle Race Course Director

Acting Commissioner Lockwood delivered the final speech of the meeting, in which she said her office was ready to work for the benefit of the industry. Lockwood also expressed an openness to communicate and cooperate with the state’s horsemen, which she proved immediately by staying well after the meeting to visit with those in attendance.

“I know you’ve gone through a string of racing commissioners and you always feel like you’re starting again,” L0ckwood told the audience. “I can tell you that’s not the case here.

“I’m very up to speed on what the issues are, the challenges are,” she continued. “We’re going to be working on your behalf.”

Readers interested in finding out how to help support Michigan’s racing industry are encouraged to contact their horsemen’s groups for further information. Behind the jump is a list of organizations that would be happy to assist horsemen and race fans alike in supporting the industry during this critical time. If any groups have been omitted, feel free to mention them in comments.

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Juvenile favorites hold, veterans upset in Michigan Breeders Championships

Hustle Now hustles in the stretch to win Sickle’s Image Stakes

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Hustle Now (7) pulls away from Top Touch (1) to prevail in the Sickle’s Image Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

Hustle Now took charge at the top of the stretch and held off the begrudging early leader to take Saturday’s $50,000 Sickle’s Image Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

The two-year-old Creative filly watched from third on the outside hip of Q Ginger Snap as Top Touch shot to the lead from the inside post. Top Touch held a 1 1/4 length advantage after the first quarter mile as Hustle Now moved into contention. That advantage was whittled down to a half length as the lead duo entered the turn. Hustle Now continued to close the gap on the outside and entered the stretch with a head in front.

Top Touch refused to waver after being passed and continued to pressure the leader throughout the stretch, but she could not regain her advantage. Hustle Now began to separate from her rival in the final furlong and crossed the finish 1 1/4 lengths in front under a right hand whip by Angel Stanley. Creative Lite turned in a ground saving third place effort 5 1/2 lengths behind Top Touch.

Hustle Now completed the six furlong race in 1:14.13 over a fast surface. She was the second choice at two-to-one behind post time favorite Top Touch.

Homebred in Michigan by Sheffield Farms, Hustle Now is conditioned by Larry Uelmen. Hustle Now improved her career record to two wins from three starts. The Farer Belle Lee was Hustle Now’s first stakes victory. Her career earnings now total $40,208.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

7 – Hustle Now (Angel Stanley) 6.00 / 3.40 / 3.60
1 – Top Touch (Federico Mata) 3.80 / 3.40
2  – Creative Lite (Alexis Ortiz) 5.20

Six Furlongs
Time: 1:14.13

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Your winner, Hustle Now; Angel Stanley, up.

Recaps of rest of Saturday’s stakes action from Pinnacle Race Course can be found behind the jump. Just click the link below to see more.

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