Monthly Archives: September 2010

Farer Belle Lee Handicap draws full field

After two stakes races, a front runner has yet to emerge in Michigan’s older fillies and mares division. However, the picture may become clearer following Saturday’s $50,000 Farer Belle Lee Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

A full field of 12 horses will enter the gates for the mile and an eighth Farer Belle Lee, including eight stakes winners. Last year’s race was won in a minor upset when then three-year-old Moon Charmer outkicked Valley Loot in the final strides to win by a head. Both horses are entered in Saturday’s race.

The division’s most consistent mare during the 2010 meet has been Equalitysdebutante. The five-year-old Equality mare is the only horse to hit the board in both of the division’s stakes races this year. She enters the race off a second place finish in the Aug. 21 Moonbeam Handicap following a five-length victory in the July 17 Larkspur Handicap, both at Pinnacle. Equalitysdebutante is owned by Richard Hammer and trained by Larry Penner. Octavio Bernal will be in the irons for the Farer Belle Lee.

Four-year-old Baba Booyah enters Saturday’s race on the momentum of a five and a half length victory in the Moonbeam. The Daylight Savings filly will make her first start at a mile and an eighth in the Farer Belle Lee. Her two career efforts at a mile and a sixteenth yielded a win in the 2009 Michigan Oaks and a fourth place finish in the same year’s Sire Stakes for three-year-old fillies, both at Pinnacle. Regular rider Jeffrey Skerrett once again has the mount for owner Mast Thoroughbreds LLC and trainer Robert Gorham.

Three-time Michigan horse of the year Valley Loot will seek to jump start an uncharacteristically lagging year in the Farer Belle Lee. The six-year-old daughter of Demaloot Demashoot is still seeking her first win of the year, and enters Saturday’s race off an unplaced finish in the Moonbeam. Trainer Ronald Allen, Sr. will give jockey Federico Mata the leg up for owner Lisa Campbell.

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds

1. Equalitysdebutante / O Bernal / L Penner / 5-1
2. Half A Glance / R Barrios / J Gold / 20-1
3. Top Touch / C P Pilares / S M Adkins / 8-1
4. Moon Charmer / T Molina / R M Gorham / 6-1
5. In The Frame / L M Quinones / L R Uelmen / 12-1
6. Twilighted Thistle / A De Leon / R D Spiess / 20-1
7. Silent Sunset / G W Mayhew / J A Lewis / 30-1
8. Baba Booyah / J Skerrett / R M Gorham / 7-2
9. Surprise Gift / J J Delgado / J R Jackson / 15-1
10. Valley Loot / F Mata / R D Allen, Sr. / 3-1
11. Hakuna Matata / W P Rini / L R Uelmen / 10-1
12. Secret Candy / R D Allen, Jr. / R D Allen, Sr. / 30-1

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Top finishers in Michigan Breeders’ Cup meet again in Frontier Handicap

The horses of Michigan’s older males division will have one more opportunity to prove themselves before October’s Sire Stakes race in Saturday’s $50,000 Frontier Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

Eleven Michigan-breds will contest the mile and one eighth Frontier; the largest stakes field the division has produced during the 2010 meet at Pinnacle. Last year’s running was taken by All I Can Get.

Romeo Again found the winner’s circle in the last stakes meeting of the older males division, with a driving half length score in the Aug. 14 Michigan Breeders’ Cup Handicap. The four-year-old Secret Romeo gelding has shown a preference for longer distances, having only missed the board once in six career races at a mile or longer. However, this will be Romeo Again’s first start at a mile and an eighth. Regular rider Federico Mata retains the mount for owners Lisa Campbell and II B’s Thoroughbreds. Romeo Again is trained by Patrick White.

Also entered is Michigan Breeders’ Cup runner-up Perfect Start. The four-year-old Jump Start colt has finished second in both of his stakes attempts at Pinnacle, having also missed by a head in the July 3 Wolverine Stakes. Perfect Start will be saddled by Sandra Adkins for owner Charlie J Williams LLC. Christian Pilares comes north from Ohio to take the mount.

Power of Titus will try to build on his recent stakes success by testing his skill against the older males division. The three-year-old Secret Romeo gelding has spent his 2010 campaign bouncing between Pinnacle and Mountaineer in West Virginia. He enters the Frontier off a length and a quarter win against his fellow Michigan-bred three-year-olds in the Sept. 4 Mackinac Handicap at Pinnacle. Octavio Bernal will have the riding assignment aboard Power of Titus for owner and trainer Del Waite.

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds

1. Hot Chili / W P Rini / J R Jackson / 15-1
2. Perfect Start / C P Pilares / S M Adkins / 4-1
3. Scrimpy / L M Quinones / J R Jackson / 20-1
4. Fiery Lake / R Barrios / J Gold / 5-1
5. Romeo Again / F Mata / P L White / 7-2
6. Bishop Casey / T Molina / R M Gorham / 9-2
7. Bipolar Express / R D Allen, Jr. / G S Bennett / 10-1
8. Meadow Wise / J Skerrett / R M Gorham / 8-1
9. Dream Victory / J J Delgado / J R Jackson / 15-1
10. Power Of Titus / O Bernal / L R Uelmen / 12-1
11. Meadow Vespers / A Hernandez-Lopez / R J Rettele / 20-1

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Duty Calls clear winner in Patrick Wood Stakes

Duty Calls started fast and never looked back to win Sunday’s $50,000 Patrick Wood Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

The two-year-old Service Stripe gelding broke in second, but quickly made his way to the front, a length ahead of Noequal. The pair opened up a length and a half across the backstretch ahead of post time favorite Native Niko in third. Duty Calls began to separate from Noequal heading into the turn, who was joined on the outside by a gaining Native Niko. A length separated Duty Calls and Noequal as the field entered the bend. Five lengths back, Call Me Quincy led the rest of the pack in fourth.

Duty Calls exited the turn 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Noequal and Native Niko, who had drawn to even terms behind him. The leader continued to draw clear from his rivals down the stretch and finished 4 3/4 lengths ahead of Native Niko. Noequal could not keep pace with the runner-up, but still held on for third.

Duty Calls completed the six furlong race in 1:13.68 over a fast dirt surface with Jeffrey Skerrett in the saddle. He was the third choice in the Patrick Wood at odds of 2.80-to-one.

Homebred in Michigan by Mast Thoroughbreds LLC, Duty Calls was saddled by trainer Robert Gorham. The Patrick Wood was Duty Calls’ second win in as many starts for career earnings of $36,100.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

3 – Duty Calls (Jeffrey Skerrett) 7.60 / 4.00 / 2.40
4 – Native Niko (Octavio Bernal) 2.80 / 2.20
2 –  Noequal (Federico Mata) 2.80

Six Furlongs
Time: 1:13.68

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Paris Prayer explodes down stretch in Sickle’s Image Stakes

Paris Prayer established herself as the early leader of Michigan’s two-year-old fillies division with a driving late move down the stretch to win Saturday’s $50,000 Sickle’s Image Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

The Meadow Prayer filly broke at a leisurely pace as Germs took the early advantage. The leader was quickly overtaken by Evil Secret, with Harlan Trace and Going For More in close pursuit across the backstretch. Evil Secret held a head’s advantage over Going For More as the field entered the final turn. Germs moved back up on the outside to challenge the leaders and exited the bend in front.

Meanwhile, Paris Prayer prepared to complete the execution of a six-wide move from second-to-last to the front. Paris Prayer drew even with Germs at the quarter pole and carried on past that rival under left handed urging by jockey Tommy Molina. She was ridden out to win the Sickle’s Image by 5 1/4 lengths. Germs carried on to finish second, a half length ahead of Ittybittyprayer.

Paris Prayer completed the six furlong race in 1:14.06 over a fast dirt surface. She was the post time favorite in the Sickle’s Image at odds of 2.10-to-one.

Paris Prayer was bred in Michigan by James Arnold, Marcia Arnold and Deb Miley. She was saddled by trainer James Jackson for owners Laura Jackson and Red Riding Hood Racing Stable LLC.

The Sickle’s Image improved Paris Prayer’s record to a perfect two-for-two, including her first victory in stakes company. Her career earnings now total $37,080.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

7 – Paris Prayer (Tommy Molina) 6.20 / 5.40 / 3.40
5 – Germs (Jose Delgado) 12.80 / 9.00
3 – Ittybittyprayer (Alvaro Hernandez-Lopez) 6.40

Six Furlongs
Time: 1:14.06

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Loaded Jackson barn heads up Patrick Wood Stakes

Trainer James Jackson’s stable is not lacking for promising two-year-olds, including the three he will saddle in Sunday’s $50,000 Patrick Wood Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

A field of eight Michigan-bred juveniles will compete in the six furlong race. The 2009 Patrick Wood was won by Prince of Paulie.

A pair of Jackson’s horses took a similar path to the Patrick Wood. Native Niko and Arctic Key both enter Sunday’s race off unplaced finishes in the Aug. 7 Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes at Mountaineer following impressive maiden scores. Native Niko, a Shaniko colt, earned his diploma in a July 2 maiden special weight race. Arctic Key, by Scrimshaw, won in a clear fashion in a July 17 maiden special weight contest at Pinnacle. Octavio Bernal will be on Native Niko’s back, while Jackson will give Augusto Marin the leg up aboard Arctic Key. Both horses are owned by Elkhorn Oaks, Inc.

Jackson will also send Valient Tenobob to the track in Sunday’s race. The Service Stripe colt is a perfect one-for-one following a driving Sept. 4 maiden special weight win at Pinnacle. Tommy Molina will ride Valient Tenobob for owners Laura Jackson and Red Riding Hood Stables LLC.

Duty Calls also enters the Patrick Wood off one start and one win from an Aug. 1 maiden special weight race at Pinnacle. The Service Stripe gelding will be ridden by Jeffrey Skerrett for owner Mast Thoroughbreds LLC and trainer Robert Gorham.

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds

1. Valient Tenobob / T Molina / J R Jackson / 5-2
2. Noequal / F Mata / R D Allen, Sr. / 8-1
3. Duty Calls / J Skerrett / R M Gorham / 6-1
4. Native Niko / O Bernal / J R Jackson / 2-1
5. Equal By Design / W P Rini / L Penner / 12-1
6. Call Me Quincy / R Barrios / J Gold / 20-1
7. Arctic Key / A A Marin / J R Jackson / 7-2
8. Meadow Sailor / A Hernandez-Lopez / R J Rettele / 20-1

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Juvenile fillies make blacktype debut in Sickle’s Image Stakes

Michigan’s two-year-old fillies division will make its first showing in stakes competition in Saturday’s $50,000 Sickle’s Image Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

The Sickle’s Image drew a field of nine Michigan-bred juvenile fillies going six furlongs. The 2009 running of the race was won by eventual divisional champ Hustle Now.

The entry with the most experience in the field is Harlan Trace. A daughter of Elusive Hour, Harlan Trace began her racing career at Mountainer in West Virginia, then came north to Pinnacle. She enters the Sickle’s Image off a half length victory in an Aug. 21 maiden special weight race at the Detroit racetrack. Harlan Trace is owned by Elkhorn Oaks Inc. and trained by James Jackson. Octavio Bernal will have the riding assignment in Saturday’s race.

Silk And Lace was a quick starter, winning one of Pinnacle’s first two-year-old races of the year. Following her July 24 maiden special weight race, the Shaniko filly tallied an unplaced finish in an Aug. 27 allowance race at Presque Isle Downs. Ricardo Barrios will be in the saddle for owner and trainer Jaroslav Gold.

Also entered is Evil Secret. The Secret Romeo filly comes into the Sickle’s Image after graduating in an Aug. 8 maiden special weight race at Pinnacle. Patrick White will give Federico Mata the leg up for owner II B’s Thoroughbreds.

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds

1. Going For More / J Skerrett / G S Bennett / 7-2
2. Harlan Trace / O Bernal / J R Jackson / 4-1
3. Ittybittyprayer / A Hernandez-Lopez / R J Rettele / 15-1
4. Evil Secret / F Mata / P L White / 5-1
5. Germs / J J Delgado / A Talsma / 8-1
6. Dehere And Now / A A Marin / J R Jackson / 20-1
7. Paris Prayer / T Molina / J R Jackson / 5-2
8. Waxies Willie / W P Rini / G R Fiesman / 12-1
9. Silk And Lace / R Barrios / J Gold / 10-1

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Eat. Bet. Drive.

The best damn burger in racing can be found at Ellis Park. The burger alone makes the eight hour drive totally worth it. Every time before I eat one, I photograph it just so I can remember the experience. It's that good.

My evening at Hoosier Park was just the first leg of my swing through the Midwest.

Over the five days of my road trip, I visited four tracks in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. Because each stop after Hoosier Park was a repeat visit, this post will lump together the remainder of my voyage with a series of photos.

Picking up where we left off last time, I hopped in my Trailblazer and headed south for Ellis Park. After spending about four and a half hours driving the roughly 280 miles from my home base to Anderson, Ind. the previous day, I traversed another 270-odd miles over another four and a half hours to get to Henderson, Ky.

Over the journey, I re-introduced myself to the soundtrack from the film Crazy Heart. Aside from being an outstanding arrangement of songs, driving around the countryside and hitting a different town every night can make a person feel like Bad Blake pretty quickly. You know, minus all the whiskey. Like any good road playlist, it just seemed to fit the situation.

When I start comparing myself to imaginary washed-up country singers, it’s time to get on with the story.

Behind the jump are photos and tales from the rest of my journey after leaving Hoosier Park.

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