News and STORIES

Horse Racing News and Notes: April 23, 2019

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Wednesday April 24, 2019

Taking a Step Back
Looking more towards the future instead of dwelling on the past, trainer Blaine Wright has elected to ship his star pupil, Anothertwistafate, back to his Northern California base and gear up for the Preakness. The son of Scat Daddy currently sits 23rd on the Kentucky Derby points list, and Wright and owner Peter Redekop weren’t confident the El Camino Real Derby winner would draw in.

While the son of Scat Daddy would have required multiple defections from the prospective Derby field to run, Wright said the decision was also a matter of timing.

“Our horse is pretty well-traveled,” Wright hold “We felt like we’ve got the ‘Win and You’re In’ to the Preakness. If we put up all that money to go in the Derby and he ran bad, the Preakness is back in two weeks. That wasn’t going to be ideal for us.”

The second leg of the Triple Crown runs May 18 at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course. Wright said a jockey will be selected later.

Javier Castellano rode Anothertwistafate to a runner-up finish last time in Keeneland’s Lexington Stakes (G3), a last chance race to earn Derby qualifying points. Before shipping East, Anothertwistafate prevailed three times over Golden Gate’s synthetic strip, including a commanding victory in the El Camino Real Derby, before finishing a narrow second to Cutting Humor when proving himself on dirt in the Sunland Derby (G3). In each of those races, northern California-based rider Juan Hernandez had the assignment.

Surprise Guest
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert quietly made his way to the Churchill Downs backstretch Monday morning before sending out Improbable to the track for a key Kentucky Derby workout. Improbable covered the 4 furlongs in 48 seconds flat. The veteran conditioner also announced that the son of City Zip, who will be piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr., will race without blinkers on the first Saturday in May. Baffert stopped in Kentucky on his way to Ocala, Florida for the Ocala Breeders sale.

Applying blinkers to Improbable for the colt’s last pre-Derby workout at Santa Anita Park, Baffert experienced unwelcome results in the Arkansas Derby. Improbable, breaking from the rail post, was backed out of the starting gate before coming up a length short against favored Omaha Beach going nine furlongs.

“Did you watch the Arkansas Derby?” Baffert asked media assembled on Churchill Downs’ backside early Monday. “He got a little anxious in there with them, so I don’t think we’ll put blinkers back on him. We’re just fortunate to be in there, and really fortunate with Improbable, because they could have scratched him in the gate. It looked like he was trying to sit down, and that could have been a disaster for him. He still ran a great race after all that, and I was just thankful that he got in there.”

Next Generation of Stars On Display
The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s April 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, which has made setting records an annual event in recent years, returned for a four-day engagement Tuesday in Central Florida. Due to modifications in the under-tack show schedule, bidding will begin at noon Tuesday, with subsequent sessions commencing as regularly scheduled at 10:30 a.m. With 1,221 juveniles cataloged, the sale continues through Friday.

The April sale has firmly entrenched itself as the industry’s bellwether juvenile auction in the last decade, and OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski is expecting another strong renewal this week.

“April has proven itself to be the premier 2-year-old sale in the country and probably in the world,” said Wojciechowski told the Thoroughbred Daily News. “We have buyers from all over the country and all over the world looking for horses at every level.”