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Sire Stakes Preview: Older Horses

Meadow Vespers goes for fifth straight Sire Stakes win in Older Male division

Meadow Vespers will try to continue his run of success in the Sire Stakes Older Male division at Pinnacle Race Course.

Meadow Vespers will try to continue his run of success in the Sire Stakes Older Male division at Pinnacle Race Course.

Through all the uncertainty and changes Michigan’s racing industry has faced over the last four years, one thing has remained consistent – Meadow Vespers is money in the Sire Stakes.

Beginning with the 2005 three-year-old Sire Stakes at Great Lakes Downs, Meadow Vespers has found the winner’s circle a perfect four straight years. He will attempt to cap a half decade of dominance in Saturday’s $50,000 Sire Stakes for older males at Pinnacle Race Course.

Meadow Vespers enters the 1 1/8 mile Sire Stakes off a third place finish in the Sep. 12 Frontier Handicap at Pinnacle, where his usual last-to-first theatrics were stalled by traffic problems. The seven-year-old Meadow Prayer gelding has not finished off the board during his 2009 campaign, including a win in the Aug. 15 Michigan Breeders Cup Handicap. Meadow Vespers is owned by J. Mack Enterprise Inc. and trained by Richard Rettele. J.J. Delgado will have the assignment on Saturday.

The older males division features another winner from last year’s Sire Stakes, three-year-old division champion Bipolar Express. The four-year-old Equality gelding has spent most of his 2009 campaign at Presque Isle Downs, most recently coming off a fourth place finish  in a Sep. 3 claiming race at the Erie, Pennsylvania track. Bipolar Express is owned Winning Stables, Inc and trained by Gerald Bennett, who claimed the horse back in his last start for $35,000 after losing his charge in the preceding race for a $25,000 tag. T.D. Houghton will have the mount in Saturday’s race.

Another road-tested Michigan-bred returning home for the Sire Stakes is Demagoguery. The seven-year-old Demaloot Demashoot gelding has entered the gates at four different tracks during his 2009 campaign, including Tampa Bay Downs, Thistledown, Presque Isle Downs and a runner-up finish in the July 4 Wolverine Handicap in his lone start at Pinnacle Race Course. He comes into the Sire Stakes off a second place finish in a Sep. 12 allowance race at Thistledown. Demagoguery is owned by Mary Mazur and trained by Gerald Bennett. Godofredo Laurente will get the leg up.

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds

1. Hot Chili / F Mata / J R Jackson / 6-1
2. Mt. Factor / A Ortiz / R J Rettele / 20-1
3. Meadow Vespers / J J Delgado / R J Rettele / 8-5
4. Bipolar Express / T D Houghton / G S Bennett / 2-1
5. Buscando Fortuna / A O Stanley / R M Gorham / 15-1
6. My First Buck / J Skerrett / R M Gorham / 15-1
7. Demagoguery / G Laurente / G S Bennett / 8-1
8. Rhythm In Motion / A A Marin / J R Jackson / 20-1

Valley Loot aims at third consecutive Sire Stakes win in Older Female division

Valley Loot will make a bid for her third straight Horse of the Year honors in the Older Females division of the Sire Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

Valley Loot will make a bid for her third straight Horse of the Year honors in the Older Females division of the Sire Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

Not to be outdone by Meadow Vespers’ streak, Valley Loot has staged her own run of two Sire Stakes wins. While she has a long way to go to catch up to her rival, Valley Loot has a big streak of her own, as the two-time defending Horse of the Year.

Valley Loot will look to extend both streaks to a third year in Saturday’s $50,000 Sire Stakes, a 1 1/8 mile race for older females at Pinnacle Race Course.

Though Valley Loot notched a stakes win in the June 16 Golden Sylvia Handicap at Mountaineer and ran a respectable third in the July 25 Winward Stakes at Presque Isle Downs, she has yet to show her usual dominant form at Pinnacle. The five-year-old Demaloot Demashoot mare enters the Sire Stakes off a heartbreaking loss to three-year-old Moon Charmer in the final strides of the Sep. 12 Farer Belle Lee Handicap, and has yet to win a race at the Detroit racetrack this year. Federico Mata will ride Valley Loot for owner Lisa Campbell and trainer Ronald Allen, Sr.

Campbell and Allen will also send Wave Pool, another Sire Stakes winner, to the post on Saturday. The four-year-old Sea Legs filly won the sophomore fillies division of the Sire Stakes in 2008. She enters this year’s older females contest off a fourth place finish in the Farer Belle Lee Handicap. Wave Pool will be ridden by Jeffrey Skerrett.

The wild card in the race will be Clever Idea, who makes her first start since Nov. 1 of last year. The four-year-old Matchlite filly finished second that day to fellow Sire Stakes entrant Nell’s Enjoyment in an allowance race at Pinnacle. During her three-year-old campaign, Clever Idea was one of the top fillies in her class, with a win in the Michigan Oaks and a runner-up effort in the Sire Stakes. Dave Kueffner trains Clever Idea for owner Steve Prain. J.J. Delgado will have the assignment on Saturday.

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds

1. Glory Bea / W Ortiz / J A Lewis / 20-1
2. She Could Be Good / T D Houghton / R M Gorham / 12-1
3. Valley Loot / F Mata / R D Allen, Sr. / 6-5
4. Half A Glance / M E Doser / S Sowle / 15-1
5. Guns and Giggles / A Ortiz / J C Rupert / 10-1
6. Wave Pool / J Skerrett / R D Allen, Sr. / 9-2
7. Clever Idea / J J Delgado / D Kueffner / 4-1
8. Nell’s Enjoyment / A A Marin / S M Spiess / 20-1
9.  Stellar Star / A O Stanley / D Cluley / 20-1

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Michigan Breeders’ Championships Preview: Older Horses

Key divisional matchup in Farer Belle Lee Handicap

Wave Pool is one of two horses entered by trainer Ronnie Allen, Sr. and owner Lisa Campbell in Saturday's Farer Belle Lee Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

Wave Pool is one of two horses entered by trainer Ronnie Allen, Sr. and owner Lisa Campbell in Saturday's Farer Belle Lee Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

Heading into this year, it looked like Michigan’s older females division would be a fairly safe bet for last year’s champion, Valley Loot to repeat. Though Valley Loot has had stakes success elsewhere in 2009, Yawm Estoora has staked her own claim to the title by taking both three-year-old and up stakes races for fillies and mares at Pinnacle Race Course.

The pair will face off for what will likely be the last time this year in Saturday’s $50,000 Farer Belle Lee Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

The defending champion older female, as well as Michigan Thoroughbred of the Year, Valley Loot has earned most of her credentials this year outside of Michigan. The five-year-old Demaloot Demashoot mare’s lone start at Pinnacle in 2009, the June 27 Larkspur Handicap, saw her get hung wide the entire race on her way to a third place finish behind Yawm Estoora. Elsewhere, Valley Loot won the June 16 Golden Sylvia Handicap at Mountaineer and finished third in the July 25 Windward Stakes at Presque Isle Downs. Last year, Valley Loot won the Farer Belle Lee by a convincing 7 1/2 length margin. She enters this year’s installment off a fifth place finish in a Sep. 2 optional claimer at Presque Isle. Valley Loot is owned by Lisa Campbell and trained by Ronnie Allen, Sr.. Federico Mata will be in the irons on Saturday.

Valley Loot’s primary challenger to the title is Yawm Estoora. The six-year-old Dayjur mare holds a one-to-nothing head-to-head advantage against Valley Loot at Pinnacle this year, after beating her by 2 1/2 lengths in the Larkspur. Because Dayjur is not a Michigan-based sire, Yawm Estoora is not eligible for October’s Sire Stakes. This will be the last opportunity she will get for stakes competition at Pinnacle this year, and a chance to sweep the defending champion in Michigan stakes races for 2009. Yawm Estoora enters the race off a dominant 4 1/4 length victory in the Aug. 8 Moonbeam Handicap at Pinnacle. Angel Stanley will be in the saddle for owner Twin Cedars Farm and trainer Ron Inman.

Also entered is Valley Loot’s stablemate Wave Pool. The four-year-old Sea Legs filly, one of last year’s leading three-year-old females, enters Saturday’s race off a runner-up finish in an Aug. 22 Allowance race at Pinnacle. Wave Pool is trained by Ronnie Allen, Sr. for owner Lisa Campbell. Rick Knott will pick up the mount for the race.

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds

1. Wave Pool / R L Knott / R D Allen, Sr. / 6-1
2. Glory Bea / A A Marin / J A Lewis / 20-1
3. Moon Charmer / G Laurente / R M Gorham / 10-1
4. Twilighted Thistle / A Ortiz / R Spiess / 20-1
5. Nell’s Enjoyment / JJ Delgado / S M Spiess / 8-1
6. Valley Loot / F Mata / R D Allen, Sr. / 8-5
7. She Could Be Good / J Skerrett / R M Gorham / 5-1
8. Yawm Estoora / A O Stanley / R P Inman / 3-1

Meadow Vespers looks to begin stakes streak in Frontier Handicap

Michigan's defending champion older male, Meadow Vespers, will try for a second straight stakes victory in Saturday's Frontier Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

Michigan's defending champion older male, Meadow Vespers, will try for a second straight stakes victory in Saturday's Frontier Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

Like his running style, Meadow Vespers’ typical campaign through any given year is a slow burn, with respectable finishes working their way toward a big victory in the Sire Stakes. So far, that method has netted him four consecutive Sire Stakes wins.

That is why it is so surprising to see last year’s champion older male in a position to enter October’s major contest riding a two-race stakes wining streak, should he prevail in Saturday’s $50,000 Frontier Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

As previously mentioned, Meadow Vespers enters the Frontier off a deep-closing 1/2 length victory in the Aug. 15 Michigan Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Pinnacle. The seven-year-old Meadow Prayer gelding missed by a nose to Rockem Sockem in last year’s installment of the Frontier. Richard Rettele trains Meadow Prayer for owner J Mack Enterprise Inc. JJ Delgado will be in the saddle for Saturday’s race.

Fiery Lake surprised the field and the bettors when he pulled a 17.60-to-one upset in the July 4 Wolverine Stakes at Pinnacle. The four-year-old Devil His Due gelding drove off to a 4 3/4 length victory in that race, five lengths ahead of Meadow Vespers, who finished third. The rivals are tied in their head-to head matchup for 2009 with a win each. Fiery Lake enters the Frontier off a fourth place finish in the Michigan Breeders’ Cup to Meadow Vespers. Evelyn Griffin trains Fiery Lake for owner Samaron Stable. Ricardo Barrios will have the assignment.

Also entered is Michigan Breeders’ Cup runner-up All I Can Get. The five-year-old Slew City Slew gelding returns to Pinnacle after a road trip to Thistledown, where he finished second by a neck to Hot Chili in an Aug. 29 allowance race. Hot Chili is also entered in Saturday’s race. Federico Mata will ride All I Can Get for owner Michael McQuade and trainer Gerald Bennett.

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds

1. Bishop Casey / J Skerrett / R M Gorham / 6-1
2. Fiery Lake / R Barrios / E Griffin / 4-1
3. Born to Tango / A Ortiz / J R Jackson / 20-1
4. Al’s Best Man / L R Frazzitta, Jr. / R J Richardson / 20-1
5. Meadow Vespers / J J Delgado / R J Rettele / 2-1
6. Candid Image / M Ccamaque / L E Boggess / 15-1
7. All I Can Get / F Mata / G S Bennett / 5-1
8. Hot Chili / A O Stanley / J R Jackson / 9-2
9. Hooched Express / L Wade / C Dorris / 12-1

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Yawm Estoora powers home in Moonbeam Handicap

Yawm Estoora made a strong statement in her bid to be named the state’s top older female with a 4 1/4 length victory in Saturday’s $20,000 Moonbeam Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

The six-year-old Dayjur mare tracked Silent Sunset from second in the opening furlongs. She overtook that rival on the backstretch and held off She Could Be Good and Wave Pool heading into the final turn. Yawm Estoora began to separate from her foes in the turn and held a two length advantage at the top of the stretch. The lead continued to grow as the wire drew closer under steady right hand whipping by Angel Stanley. Yawm Estoora stopped the clock in the one mile race in 1:42.37 over a sloppy surface.

Irish Date took a wide trip coming out of the final turn to finish second by a neck over Wave Pool. Early pacesetter Silent Sunset faded to last.

Yawm Estoora’s rider, Angel Stanley, extended his stakes streak at Pinnacle to three straight wins. Stanley has proven effective in the big spots this year, having won four of the six stakes races at Pinnacle during the 2009 meet, including wins in the Ann Arbor Stakes (aboard Hakuna Matata), Dowling Stakes (Meadow Wise) and Larkspur Handicap (Yawm Estoora).

Yawm Estoora was saddled by trainer Ronald Inman. She was homebred in Michigan by Twin Cedars Farm. The victory in the Moonbeam increased Yawm Estoora’s career record to six wins from 17 starts with lifetime earnings of $83,612.

For an Equibase chart of the race click here.

3 – Yawm Estoora (Angel Stanley) 6.80 / 3.00
1A – Irish Date (Godofredo Laurente) 2.40
5 – Wave Pool (Federico Mata)

One Mile
Time: 1:42.37

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Yawm Estoora goes for consecutive stakes scores in Moonbeam Handicap

She Could Be Good is one of two horses entered by trainer Robert Gorham for Saturday's Moonbeam Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

She Could Be Good is one of two horses entered by trainer Robert Gorham for Saturday's Moonbeam Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

With Michigan’s reigning older female of the year, Valley Loot, still resting up after a stakes try at Presque Isle Downs, the division will look for a new challenger to the title in Saturday’s $20,000 Moonbeam Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

The one-mile contest is one of four stakes races at Pinnacle to have its purse slashed from $50,000 to $20,000 in order to cover the operating expenses for the Office of Racing Commissioner during the meet.

With a win already over Valley Loot in the June 27 Larkspur Handicap, Yawm Estoora stands to take command of the division with a win Saturday. Owned by Twin Cedars farm and trained by Ron Inman, the six-year-old Dayjur mare enters the race well-rested, having not started since finishing fourth in a July 7 allowance race at Pinnacle.

Angel Stanley will get the mount on Yawm Estoora, who will race with blinkers off this Saturday.

One of two entries from trainer Robert Gorham and owner Mast Thoroughbreds, LLC, She Could Be Good comes off a July 13 allowance victory at Pinnacle. The five-year-old Daylight Savings mare was initially campaigned at Fair Grounds Race Course in Louisiana by co-owners Sheffield Farms before being brought to Michigan for last year’s Sire Stakes, where she finished second behind Valley Loot. Jeffrey Skerrett will be in the saddle for the Moonbeam.

The other half of the entry, Irish Date, will be ridden by Godofredo Laurente.

Also entered is 2008 Sire Stakes winner Wave Pool. The four-year-old Sea Legs filly won the three-year-old female division of the series last year en route to being named the group’s champion. Wave Pool finished a fast-closing fourth in the Larkspur Handicap behind Yawm Estoora. Ron Allen, Sr. trains Wave Pool for Campbell Stable. Federico Mata will get the assignment.

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds
1. She Could Be Good / J Skerrett / R M Gorham / 3-1
1A. Irish Date / G Laurente / R M Gorham / 3-1
2. Silent Sunset / A A Marin / J A Lewis / 6-1
3.  Yawm Estoora / A O Stanley / R P Inman / 4-1
4. Nell’s Enjoyment / J J Delgado / S M Spiess / 5-1
5. Wave Pool / F Mata / R D Allen, Sr. / 7-2

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Valley Loot headlines Larkspur Handicap

Without a doubt, Valley Loot will be the one to beat in Saturday's Larkspur Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

Without a doubt, Valley Loot will be the one to beat in Saturday's Larkspur Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

In last year’s race to decide Michigan’s top older female, it was Valley Loot and everyone else.

Valley Loot will take her first step toward defending that title this Saturday when she makes her first start of the year at Pinnacle Race Course in the $50,000 Larkspur Handicap.

A field of nine will enter the gates for the six furlong race, including four former Sire Stakes winners. 

The favorite will almost certainly be 2008 Michigan Horse of the Year Valley Loot. The five-year-old Demaloot Demashoot mare won last year’s installment of the Larkspur by 2 3/4 lengths and enters the race off a front-running victory in the June 16 Golden Sylvia Stakes at Mountaineer Race Track and Casino. Federico Mata will get the assignment in the saddle for owner Lisa Campbell and trainer Ronnie Allen, Sr.. Not surprisingly, Valley Loot is the field’s highweight.

The second half of the Campbell/Allen contingent is fellow Sire Stakes winner Wave Pool. The four-year-old Sea Legs filly won the three-year-old female division of last year’s Sire Stakes en route to earning the crop’s top honors. Wave Pool comes off a second-place finish in an allowance race at Pinnacle on June 12. Ivan Gonzalez will take the irons.

A two-time Sire Stakes winner and top horse in her division in 2006 and ’07, Nell’s Enjoyment will look to get her stakes career back on track this Saturday. The six-year-old Quiet Enjoyment mare was well beaten in her three tries in stakes company in 2008, but turned things around in her last start of the year at Pinnacle, closing from the clouds to win a stakes-caliber allowance race against the likes of fellow Larkspur entrants Wave Pool, Dublin Dutchess and Silent Sunset. She enters off a fifth place finish in a June 1 allowance race at Indiana Downs. Nell’s Enjoyment is owned and trained by Shane Spiess and will be ridden by Ricardo Barrios.

Also entered is the only horse to beat Valley Loot in a Sire Stakes race, Dublin Dutchess. The five-year-old Native Factor mare defeated Valley Loot during the 2006 installment of the two-year-old division’s Sire Stakes at Great Lakes Downs. Dublin Dutchess ran second to Valley Loot in last year’s Larkspur. Owned by Mast Thoroughbreds, LLC and trained by Bob Gorham, Dublin Dutchess will have the services of Augusto Marin in the saddle.  

Here is a list of the entries for Saturday’s Larkspur Handicap…

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds
1. Yawm Estoora / A.O. Stanley / R. P. Inman / 10-1
2. Nell’s Enjoyment / R Barrios / S. M. Spiess / 15-1
3. Tillie The Hunn / G. Laurente / L. R. Uelmen / 20-1
4. She Could Be Good / J. Skerrett / R. M. Gorham / 5-1
5. Wave Pool / I. R. Gonzalez / R. D. Allen, Sr / 8-1
6. Dublin Dutchess / A. A. Marin / R. M. Gorham / 12-1
7. Silent Sunset / G. W. Mayhew / J. A. Lewis / 25-1
8. Candy Cane / J. J. Delgado / J. C. Rupert / 3-1
9. Valley Loot / F. Mata / R. D. Allen, Sr. / 6-5

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Campbell Stables, Arnold Farm clean up at MTOBA year-end awards

After three years of success on the racetrack, the only question that remains surrounding Campbell Stables’ prized filly Valley Loot is where to go from here.

The four-year-old Demaloot Demashoot filly threw two more awards, including another Michigan Horse of the Year nod, onto her already impressive heap of honors at Sunday’s Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association awards banquet and silent auction.

I always enjoy going to the MTOBA banquet. It gives me an opportunity to talk to people in the business and acquire some memorabilia and reading material for the coming year in the silent auction.

However, being a quasi-broke college student in a room full of people with money (I know a lot of horsemen are hurting financially right now, but if you can afford to feed a double-digit herd for more than 15 minutes, you probably have more in the bank than I do) makes going home with the big-ticket items tough.

This year’s marquee item(s) was a set of paintings, one of Barbaro and one of Secretariat, signed by each horse’s owner and jockey. I do not recall how much the set sold for, but the last time I checked on it, the high bid was somewhere in the $500 range.

I was disappointed to see some of the higher-end items I had my eye on (an A.P. Indy halter and a print of a Keeneland painting) go for more than I was willing to spend, but I still managed to leave with $120 worth of books for me and Christmas gifts for the family.  

One more thing about the auction. It was surprising to see most of the stallion seasons go completely untouched.

Though I did not watch the bids that closely, the only stallion I saw getting any action at all was Service Stripe, who will make his return to Michigan in 2009 after standing in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.Unless someone placed some bids after I last checked their sheets, proven sires like Demaloot Demashoot and promising ones like Elusive Hour and Monetary Star did not receive a single bid. 

If I had a broodmare, I could have done quite well for myself, snagging up breedings to some decent Michigan stallions for less than half their posted stud fees. Of course, the breeding and sales industries are hurting so badly, both locally and nationally, that it seems no one is looking to breed, and rightfully so. From that standpoint, I can understand the lack of bids, but from the perspective of someone constantly looking for that good deal, I was left scratching my head.

But you’re not here to read about my fortunes in the silent auction, are you?

Let’s have a look at this year’s award nominees and see who took home the prizes…

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Valley Loot named Pinnacle’s top Thoroughbred

Jockey Mike Allen twirls his whip in victory after Pinnacle Horse of the Meet Valley Loot's Sire Stakes victory.

Jockey Mike Allen twirls his whip in victory after Pinnacle Horse of the Meet Valley Loot's Sire Stakes win.

Winning is nothing new to Valley Loot.

The four-year-old Demaloot Demashoot filly has done little else but finish first in her career, winning Sire Stakes races in two straight years and tallying up eight other stakes victories at Pinnacle Race Course and Great Lakes Downs.

All that success led to plenty of honors, including 2007 Michigan Horse of the year. Valley Loot added yet another trophy to her case on Saturday after winning the inaugural Horse of the Meet title at Pinnacle Race Course.

Pretty much all of the information in this post comes from the Daily Racing Form website. To see the original story by C.A. Shoemaker, click here.

If you are still here, I will go on…

The awards were presented in the Pinnacle Pavilion following last Saturday’s card. Track announcer Matt Hook selected the winners in each division, as well as leading owner, trainer, jockey and claiming horse.

While many of winners were fairly predictable, there were a few that could be open to debate, namely the three-year-old male division. However, considering that the awards were based solely on performance at the New Boston racetrack, not on the individual’s complete body of work, .

With that in mind, let us take a look at this year’s winners…
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