DEFENDING CHAMP CAPTAIN SCOTTY HEADS SATURDAY’S GRADE III, $200,000 PALOS VERDES STAKES; WIDE-OPEN FIELD OF EIGHT GO SIX FURLONGS
ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 20, 2021)–Veteran gelding Captain Scotty is back to defend his title as he heads a field of eight older horses going six furlongs in Saturday’s Grade III, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita. A 7-year-old son of Quality Road, Captain Scotty gives trainer Peter Miller a strong one-two punch as he’ll be joined by recent acquisition Shashashakemeup, who comes off a big second place finish in his first start off a $50,000 claim at Churchill Downs.
Several others, including the Shelbe Ruis-trained Kneedeepinsnow, Mark Glatt’s Pyron, Brian Koriner’s Take the One O One, Bob Baffert’s Ax Man and Doug O’Neill’s Wildman Jack, all rate solid chances in the 69th renewal of the Palos Verdes.
Following his win in the Palos Verdes a year ago, Captain Scotty sustained a string of four double digit defeats, beginning with an 11 ½ length loss in the $1.5 million Saudi Cup Sprint on Feb. 29. In an effort to right the ship, Miller dropped “Scotty” in for a $25,000 claiming tag three starts back on Oct. 2 at Santa Anita, the result being a second place finish. A gate to wire six furlong winner on Oct. 31 at Del Mar, Captain Scotty comes off a game nose victory in a 5 ½ furlong optional claimer at Los Alamitos Dec. 6, a race in which he earned a much improved 92 Beyer Speed figure.
Owned by Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable, Captain Scotty, who has six wins from 20 starts and earnings of $382,048, will be ridden back by Ricky Gonzalez.
Owned by Tom Kagele, Shashashakemeup was haltered for $50,000 win two starts back at Churchill Downs Oct. 28 and although he was second, beaten 2 ¾ lengths in a second condition allowance Nov. 27, he registered a career-best 96 Beyer and thus merits serious consideration with top jock Juan Hernandez taking over in what will be his Santa Anita debut.
A 5-year-old full horse by Flatter, Kneedeepinsnow comes off what appeared to be the best race of his career on Dec. 31, a powerful 2 ¼ length score in a second condition allowance at 6 ½ furlongs. Owned by Ruis Racing, LLC, Kneedeepinsnow will be trying stakes competition for the first time and be ridden by Ruben Fuentes as regular rider Abel Cedillo opted to stay with Wildman Jack.
Claimed for $40,000 four starts back at Churchill Downs on July 9, the Mark Glatt-trained Pyron then took a six furlong starter allowance at Del Mar Aug. 15 and in his second start off the claim, rallied for a 1 ½ length win over Kneedeepinsnow at the same distance on Oct. 16 here. Most recently a close third in a 6 ½ furlong classified allowance Nov. 8 at Del Mar, this 5-year-old full horse by Candy Ride posted a career-top 92 Beyer and appears poised to run a smasher in the Palos Verdes. Owned by Ken Copenhaver, Pyron seeks his first stakes victory with Umberto Rispoli riding back.
Jay Em Ess Stables’ California-bred Take the One O One shortens up out of a close third at 29-1 in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes Dec. 26 and Patti and Hal Earnhardt’s hard knocking Ax Man, idle since fourth in the Grade II San Diego Handicap at 1 1/16 miles July 25, looms dangerous off the bench for Bob Baffert. A winner of six of 14 starts, 6-year-old gelding Ax Man will be ridden for the first time by Tyler Baze.
W.C. Racing’s homebred Wildman Jack, who was a close fourth four starts back behind top sprinter Collusion Illusion in the Grade I Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar Aug. 1, was well beaten as the favorite in Grade II Joe Hernandez Stakes going 6 ½ furlongs on turf here Jan. 1 and will be trying dirt for only the second time in what will be his 14th career start for Doug O’Neill.
THE GRADE III PALOS VERDES STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Saturday’s Late Pick 4 and Pick 5 Pools Guaranteed at $750,000
Cobbs Relishes Underdog Role with Sleepy Eyes Todd in Pegasus
Mandatory Rainbow 6 Payout Set for Sunday’s Program
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Advance wagering on the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1 and all other races on Saturday’s 12-race program will be available to bettors on Friday.
The Pegasus Day program will feature graded stakes in the last six races on Saturday’s program. The Late Pick 4 (Races 9-12) and Late Pick 5 (Races 8-12) will both have guaranteed pools of $750,000
The Pegasus Turf (Race 11) and the Pegasus (Race 12) will anchor the sequences for the Saturday’s Late Pick 4 and Pick 5, as well as the Rainbow 6 (Races 7-12).
Cobbs Relishes Underdog Role with Sleepy Eyes Todd in Pegasus
A racing fan since his youth and after seven years as a Thoroughbred owner, David Cobb has a firm grasp of the significance of having Sleepy Eyes Todd in the field for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
Sleepy Eyes Todd is a quintessential blue-collar hero. He was purchased for $9,000 as a weanling in 2016, has won eight of 15 races with trainer Miguel Silva and earned $744,825. The two-time graded stakes winner has competed at 11 tracks in nine states for Cobb’s fledgling Thumbs Up Racing operation. Though success has made his post-time odds are much lower these days, he won his debut at Remington Park in Oklahoma in 2018 at 29-1 and was second in the 2019 Oklahoma Derby (G3) at 40-1.
“He’s never had the respect, but I’ll tell you something: We relish being the underdogs,” Cobb said. “We’ve been there the whole time. Miguel has been an underdog his whole life. I’m a small guy with all the big guys. I’ve got to tell you that it’s very rewarding to finally be recognized and to be invited to such a prestigious event as the Pegasus.”
A half-length victory in the Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream on Dec. 19 was the final stepping stone to the grand stage.
The Cobbs live in Pleasanton, California and are building a home in Crescent, Texas near Houston so they can be closer to the home base of their racing and breeding business. Cobb, 59, said he made his first visit to a racetrack, the now-closed Bay Meadows in his hometown of San Mateo, Calif., as a 4-year-old with his great-grandmother, grandparents and mother.
“Back then, in the mid-60s, there were crowds of 10,000 people,” he said. “I was a little kid and had never seen anything like it, except at the Disneyland. Pretty neat stuff.”
A few years later, Cobb’s uncle began teaching him about handicapping and took him with along to Bay Meadows. The hook had been set.
“By the time nine or 10 years old, I could read a Racing Form as well as anybody could,” Cobb said. “I’m kind of a numbers guy and it was always fascinating to me.”
Cobb is now retired from a career in which he was a truck driver, business owner and real estate investor.
Cobb stepped into horse racing ownership in 2014 in some small partnerships and in 2015, he claimed the Cal-bred Spot Special for $12,500. He ran in his own name for five seasons, but renamed his growing operation Thumbs Up Racing last year. With Sleepy Eyes Todd leading the way, Cobb had his best year in racing with 13 wins and $688,215 in earnings.
In November 2016, with trainer Jonathan Wong as his advisor and agent and some friends with a lot of experience with horses, Cobb purchased a total of six moderately priced horses at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock.
That Cobb sextet included the young son of Paddy O’Prado, who Cobb later named Sleepy Eyes Todd. A bargain-basement purchase, he has become the first graded stakes winner for Silva and Cobb and could become their first millionaire.
“I study breeding, but there are things I cannot do, that real horsemen can see,” Cobb said. “It was a team effort.”
Two years later, Sleepy Eyes Todd was ready for his racing debut in a 6 ½-furlong maiden special weight race at Remington Park. Cobb said he will never forget that experience.
“Miguel is telling me ‘hey, you really have something here,’” Cobb said. “We were standing out there watching the race around the finish line. The horses break from the gate and at the four-furlong mark he’s probably nine and a half lengths behind. I go, ‘Miguel, are you serious?’ He goes, ‘Relax.’ I don’t relax that easily and said ‘OK.’ Sure as could be, he blew by everybody and won the race by a half-length. He could have won by five if they went another six strides. Just an amazing horse.”
After a brief try to see if he might be good enough to compete on the Triple Crown trail, Cobb and Silva settled on a more conventional path with their young colt. He missed some time with an injury, returned to win two races at Canterbury Park in Minnesota during the summer then ran second to Owendale in the Oklahoma Derby (G3).
After another stakes win at Remington Park, his connections thought he ought to be considered for the 2020 Pegasus World Cup. He didn’t have the credentials to warrant an invite and headed off to a campaign of eight races at eight tracks with eight different jockeys. The first victory of the season came at, Fonner Park in Nebraska, a track that rarely hosts Grade 1-caliber horses, in the Bosselman Pump and Pantry/Gus Fonner Stakes. Wins at the Charles Town Classic (G2) in August, the Lafayette at Keeneland in November and the Mr. Prospector earned him a berth in the Pegasus.
“Thank God, this horse is a freak,” Cobb said. “He ships so well and can adapt to where ever he goes. He likes to be there a few weeks ahead of time and get a couple of works under his belt. He never gets sick, nothing, knock on wood.
Cobb said that his stable has grown to the point where he has about 20 horses in training at a time. He also has a group of broodmares and moved into breeding. Sleepy Eyes Todd is the star of the show and has taken the Cobbs and Silva for a ride into the racing’s major league.
“It’s overwhelming to us, yes. It could be life-changing, too,” Cobb said. “We have been invited to the Saudi Cup, so between these two we’re kind of in la-la land right now.
“I’m a pretty humble, modest guy so I keep it in perspective. These next two months could really change things for us. It won’t change how we live, but it’s exciting nonetheless.”
Friday’s Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $200,000
The 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool will be guaranteed for $200,000 Friday at Gulfstream Park.
The popular multi-race wager went unsolved Thursday, one day after a lucky bettor broke the jackpot for $636,311 on Wednesday. Multiple winning tickets Thursday returned $1,719.90.
The jackpot pool is only paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.
Friday’s Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 5-10, including the much-anticipated return of Todd Pletcher-trained Arham in the featured Race 9, a first-level optional claiming allowance for 4-year-olds and up at six furlongs. Shadwell Farm’s 4-year-old son of Union Rags debuted impressively at Gulfstream Dec. 17, overcoming bumping at the start to draw off to a seven-length victory. Arham ran six-furlongs in 1:10 under Luis Saez, who has the call Friday.
WHO’S HOT: Jockey Junior Alvarado continued his winning ways with three wins. Alvarado won aboard Palace Coup ($13.80) in the sixth, Miss Italy ($8) in the eighth and Mira Mission ($6) in the ninth…Jockey Luis Saez rode three winners on Thursday’s program, scorning aboard Queens Embrace ($2.80) in Race 1, Valletta $5.40 in Race 3 and Shakem ($6.60) in Race 4.
Aftercare Supporters One of the Favorites in $3 Million World Cup (G1)
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – No owners have supported Gulfstream Park’s Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational program more than Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and R.A. Hill Stable.
With Tax in Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) for the second straight year, Dean and Patti Reeves and Randy Hill will have competed in the headliner four of the five years since the stakes was transformed from the Donn Handicap into one of the world’s most lucrative races for older horses. The only year the partners weren’t in the Pegasus, they were represented in the 2019 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) with Channel Maker.
Now, they just need to hit the board for the first time in a Pegasus event. Tax finished ninth last year after stumbling badly at the start of the 2020 edition. He’s raced only twice since, finishing fifth in the May 2 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and returning from a 7 1/2-month hiatus for a dominating front-running 4 1 /2-length victory in Gulfstream Park’s Harlan’s Holiday (G3) Dec. 12. Luis Saez has the return mount for the Pegasus.
“I think he’s as good as anybody in the race, and I think we’ll be very competitive,” said Dean Reeves, who campaigns his large stable with wife, Patti. “I think this is the best shot for Randy and I, hopefully, to get some of our money back that we put into the Pegasus. Because we’ve had a horse in it every year since they started it, and maybe perseverance will pay off for us.”
Trainer Danny Gargan claimed Tax out of a $50,000 maiden claiming race in his second career start with owner Hugh Lynch. Gargan offered part of the horse to Reeves and Hill, but they decided they had enough horses and weren’t interested. After Tax finished third in Aqueduct’s 2018 Remsen Stakes (G2), “We called Danny up and said, ‘We just became interested,’” Dean Reeves recalled with a laugh.
The gelded son of the late Claiborne Farm stallion Arch has been a terrific acquisition, including winning Aqueduct’s Withers (G3) in his next start for his new owners and taking second in the 2019 Wood Memorial (G2) to land in the Kentucky Derby (G1). While he languished home 15th in a quagmire that day, Tax rebounded to be a close fourth in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and went on to capture Saratoga’s Jim Dandy (G2). If he finishes in the top seven in the Pegasus, he’ll become a millionaire.
After the Oaklawn fifth place performance that Gargan says was deceptively good, Tax was given time off with the goal of pointing to the Breeders’ Cup. A particularly untimely temperature kept him out of a Breeders’ Cup prep race, with the Pegasus then becoming the objective.
“It seems like the best thing we did was giving him some time over the summer,” Dean Reeves said. “He ran as good as we’ve ever seen him run in the Harlan’s Holiday.”
Gargan, who could win his first Grade 1 race in the Pegasus, agrees.
“He’s doing tremendous,” he said. “The time off helped him grow up. He’s a better horse than he used to be. I think this year is going to be the best of his career. He’s bigger, he’s stronger, he’s doing better, eats better. He looks phenomenal. When he was a young horse, he had some issues, little things that plagued him through his 3-year-old year that have gone away with time and the layoff.”
The Reeveses were fairly new to horse racing, and definitely new to the sport’s top echelon, when they bought into a 2-year-old named Mucho Macho Man, whose eventual nine victories and $5.6 million in earnings included the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita. He also finished third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby.
If the Reeveses quickly were at the top of the sport, they subsequently learned how difficult that is to achieve.
“I want to say it was five years before I won a graded stakes again,” Dean Reeves said. “I thought you just go down there and buy you another one, and they’re going to be like Mucho Macho Man. It really showed me what a great accomplishment that horse had in his career, what he was able to accomplish with [trainer] Kathy (Ritvo) and the work everybody did. I realized five years later, when Classic Rock won a Grade 3, just how difficult it was. Looking back, it’s tough to win a Grade 1. Those are few and far between.”
Mucho Macho Man got better with age, and Dean Reeves believes the same is true for Tax.
“I understand how everybody has to look at it financially,” he said of deals with stud farms. “But we’re retiring some of these horses well in advance of them reaching their full potential. I think I saw that in Mucho Macho Man. He ran well as a 4-year-old, finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup, but then won it as a 5-year-old.
“I see a lot of similarities between Mucho Macho Man and Channel Maker, how as they’ve gotten older how they’ve gotten so much better,” he added. “And I think they become so mentally tough. I just think Tax is going to have a tremendous year, and I hope we run well in the Pegasus.”
Reeves and Hill finished eighth in the 2017 Pegasus with Breaking Lucky and 12th in 2018 with Toast of New York, while Channel Maker was fifth in the 2019 Pegasus Turf, sparking Reeves to quip, “I’d have loved to have had Mucho Macho Man run in it.”
Mucho Macho Man was sent to stud at age 7 in 2015, his subsequent progeny including 2020 Pegasus World Cup winner Mucho Gusto. With both Tax and the 7-year-old gelding Channel Maker, a leading contender to be voted 2020’s male turf champion, Reeves doesn’t have to worry about a stallion career.
“Let me tell you: I used to go, ‘Oh, it’s a gelding. I don’t want him,’” Reeves said. “Now, to have a gelding that can run and win money for you for four or five years is great. For Tax, we may run in the Pegasus three times with him or three more times. We may go to Dubai or Saudi Arabia with him. A lot of his competition is retired, so having a good gelding is not a bad deal.
“Channel Maker’s another gelding. Look, it isn’t all about being a stallion. I mean, we’re in it for the races. Hey, if we can win it, they still pay you,” he added.
While Mucho Macho Man retired from the track to a palatial stud home, first at Adena Springs and now at Hill ’n’ Dale Farms, most horses don’t have such post-racing guarantees. The Reeves’ are big supporters of the nonprofit Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, which accredits, inspects and awards grants to its approved aftercare organizations to retrain, retire and adopt out horses using industry-wide funding.
“It’s important to make sure retired horses get a good home,” Dean Reeves said. “When you buy them, you think they’re all going to be superstars. Some obviously have more talent than others, but that doesn’t mean they’re not trying. They become like family. When they do leave the nest, so to speak, you want to make sure who they’re going to, keeping the (registration) papers so they don’t race anymore, just doing your due diligence.
“We’ve gotten as much satisfaction seeing some of our horses come back as great dressage horses or eventing horses, where people send us pictures of them when they’ve won ribbons and awards. We just love that. We take a lot of pride in seeing them where they access in a second career,” he added.
The Reeveses also are supporters of accredited TAA facilities such as New Vocations in Lexington, Ky., and South Carolina’s Equine Rescue of Aiken and other organizations. They are among the horse owners committing a percentage of any Breeders’ Cup earnings, such as Channel Maker’s third in the $4 million Longines Turf, to the TAA.
“Patti and Dean Reeves have been very successful in Thoroughbred racing, and they really do care about their horses long term,” said TAA operations consultant Stacie Clark Rogers. “Their stable has been very supportive of the TAA and of our TAA accredited organizations.”
Florida consultant Jay Stone and trainer Kathy Ritvo are instrumental in helping the Reeveses find new homes for their equine retirees. Patti Reeves says she works to spread their horses around and find the best match, including what its new career might be.
She points to Mac Daddy Mac as a prime example. The Reeveses purchased the colt after he won his debut at Santa Anita at 40-1 odds, finishing second in a Grade 3 stakes in his next start. A throat issue compromised his ability, and Mac Daddy Mac was ultimately retired after three more races spread over his 3- and 4-year-old seasons. Now he’s finding success in the show world, with equestrian Ashley Keller retraining Mac Daddy Mac into an eventing horse at Chattahoochee Hills Eventing near Atlanta, where the Reeveses live.
“He was a great horse, just loved his job, had great personality,” Patti Reeves said. “We found a new home for him in the Atlanta area at Chattahoochee Hills Eventing. (Keller) taught him dressage, jumping, eventing. What she has done with this horse is amazing. He’s just a great example of a horse that just because he couldn’t race, he wasn’t done. You’re involved in racing, but that’s just a short part of their life. We care about the entire program for the horse. We don’t want to just be good to the horse while they’re racing. We want to make sure they end up in good places and are treated well.”
Rightandjust Streaks Towards Risen Star for Wilson
December Claim Pays Quick Dividends in January
New Orleans (January 21, 2021) – The sight of a 3-year-old in January going two turns and drawing off in deep stretch will get any trainer thinking big. Shane Wilson is no different, and while Rightandjust might not be taking the most conventional path the to the local February 13 Risen Star (G2), he put everyone on notice after his dominant win in a strong January 16 optional-claimer at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Rightandjust isn’t your typical blueblooded Fair Grounds 3-year-old. He wasn’t a precocious 2-year-old who came to the backstretch this winter with stakes plans already penciled in at 3. Though he may still well get there, the route to any potential glory is more the road less traveled.
Wilson and owner Wayne T. Davis claimed Rightandjust from trainer Louie Roussel III for $50,000 out of his gate-to-wire 5 ½-length maiden claiming win here December 18. The son of Awesome Again had run a better-than-it-looked fourth sprinting in a local MSW on debut in November, but looked like a new horse stretching out. Wilson, who teamed with Davis to win a pair of graded stakes with Mocito Rojo—a horse they claimed for $10,000—had a gameplan in mind when the meet opened and Rightandjust, a son of Awesome Again, fit the bill.
“We thought coming to Fair Grounds there would be some young, good quality horses that we could get to stretch out,” Wilson said. “Obviously the owner claimed Mocito Rojo awhile back for 10k to win a couple of graded races so we wanted to try and do that again with a couple of young horses. With Rightandjust being an Awesome Again and the mare by Tiznow, we thought he was a young horse with a good race and he finished up strong and should get better going two turns so we took a shot.”
Based on pedigree and what he’s displayed in his races so far, Wilson might be right. Rightandjust’s dam Pussyfoot was winless from just one start, but her half sibling Morning Line earned $1.2 million in his career and he’s been a productive stallion in his second career. He is also a half-brother to the promising 4-year-old Tapit colt Guided Missile.
Rightandjust broke through in a big way in his MCL win but showed no ill effects from such a strong race. It was readily apparent that Wilson had a rapidly improving soon-to-be 3-year-old on his hands, who still had plenty of untapped potential.
“We got him back the night I claimed him and he cleaned up everything I fed him and he licked the bowl,” Wilson said. “He was on his hind legs when we hand-walked him down the shedrow the next morning. It seemed like he did what he did easily and we came back and worked him and he worked great and then he had a bullet best-of-100 work. (Jockey Jack Gilligan was the one breezing him and he said ‘Shane, this horse can really run and he has a bunch of gears he doesn’t even know he’s got yet.’”
Rightandjust entered the optional-claimer as a bit of a rank outsider, at least judging by the 22-1 price on the toteboard. In a race that saw entries from trainers named Asmussen, Cox, Stidham, and Walsh, and owners like Godolphin, Brereton C. Jones, and Three Chimneys Farm, it was no real surprise that Wilson, Davis, and Rightandjust were overlooked. Facing much tougher competition, he went to the front again, set a measured pace, and streaked home an easy 3-length winner. An unknown outsider before the race, Rightandjust had clearly arrived, which wasn’t a complete shock to his trainer.
“We were pretty confident but it came up tough,” Wilson said. “A few were stretching out for the first time but we knew he could run 1 1/16 miles over the Fair Grounds. I was really surprised he was such a big price even though the other horses were coming from Churchill Downs and Keeneland and had great connections.”
Rightandjust looks like a vintage 3-year-old that is getting better by the day and his blend of speed and stamina can take a horse a long way during the first half of their sophomore year. Wilson is taking the ‘If it’s not broke don’t fix it’ route to the 1 1/8-mile Risen Star, which could prove problematic to some of his more precocious rivals.
“He looks like when he gets up there (on the lead) he goes to flicking his ears around and he’s comfortable with that pace,” Wilson said. “It looks like he had plenty in the tank (in his win) and he’ll go another 1/16th of a mile. As long as everything is good—and he came back great and he’s galloping strong—we’re going to breeze him 14 days out and then 7 days out and if everything is like it is now that (the Risen Star) is where we’re going to go.”
The early scouting report on trainer Brad Cox’s 2021 Oaklawn stable? Quantity and lots of quality.
Cox, Oaklawn’s third-leading trainer last year, is armed with robust numbers (40-plus horses) and proven/promising prospects across the board in advance of Oaklawn’s 57-day meeting that begins Friday.
“I was thinking that it normally takes us to the beginning of the meet to get all the horses here and get the barn completely full,” Cox said. “But it’s overflowing right now, which is a good thing. We’re at max capacity and looking for some more spots to ship horses in and run. I think we’re going to have a big meet at all different levels, probably a little more in the stake end of it.”
Cox has entrants in all three opening-weekend stakes – Caddo River in Friday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones for 3-year-olds, Night Ops in Saturday’s $150,000 Fifth Season for older horses and Vault and Getridofwhatailesu in Saturday’s $150,000 Pippin for older fillies and mares. All three races are 1 mile.
Caddo River exits a powerful front-running maiden victory Nov. 15 at Churchill Downs. Owned by prominent Arkansas automobile dealer Steve Landers, Night Ops won the $350,000 Essex Handicap for older horses last March at Oaklawn and the $100,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3) July 5 at Prairie Meadows in his last start.
Cox’s deep roster of older two-turn handicap runners also features millionaire multiple Grade 3 winner Owendale and Grade 3 winner Plainsman. Owendale is being pointed for the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 13 at Oaklawn, Cox said.
Hidden Scroll, seventh in the $350,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) for older horses last year at Oaklawn, is scheduled to make his first start for Cox in Sunday’s seventh race, an allowance sprint.
Recent arrival Shedaresthedevil, co-owned by Staton Flurry of Hot Springs, is a finalist for champion 3-year-old filly of 2020 after winning the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) Sept. 4 at Churchill Downs and Oaklawn’s $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3). Cox said Shedaresthedevil could resurface in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares March 13 at Oaklawn.
Among the 3-year-old fillies for Cox are Jemison, an unstarted 3-year-old half-sister to Shedaresthedevil; recent addition Inject and unbeaten Southern Grayce, both entered in Sunday’s eighth race, an entry-level allowance sprint; and Coach, who won her first three career starts before finishing third in the $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes (G2) Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs. Coach is a candidate for the $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes at 1 mile Jan. 30 at Oaklawn.
Sekani and The Mary Rose, 1-2, respectively, in the $100,000 Rainbow Miss Stakes for 3-year-old Arkansas-bred filly sprinters last year at Oaklawn for trainer Will VanMeter, and Villanelle, a lightly raced 4-year-old daughter of Curlin, are also under Cox’s care. Caddo River, Sekani and The Mary Rose are homebreds for John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs. Villanelle has won her last two starts.
“I feel like we’ve pretty much got a horse for all the dirt route races and we’re excited about them,” Cox said. “Got a good group of 3-year-old colts and fillies. This is obviously the best 3-year-old program in the country for both, colts and fillies, and I think we’ll have an impact in both divisions.”
Unbeaten Essential Quality, the probable 2-year-old champion male of 2020, is under consideration for the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds Feb. 15 at Oaklawn, Cox said. Champion Monomoy Girl, also now with Cox at Fair Grounds, is scheduled to make her 2021 debut in the $250,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares Feb. 15 at Oaklawn.
Cox, who has 205 career Oaklawn victories, is a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the country’s outstanding trainer of 2020. He won 26 races last year in Hot Springs, recording single-season Oaklawn personal bests for starts (129) and purse earnings (roughly $2.4 million) during the 57-day meeting.
Cox’s Oaklawn division is overseen by assistant Jorgito Abrego.
The Great Race
Ingrid Mason is in a race to become the winningest female trainer in Oaklawn history, entering the 2021 meet that begins Friday with 116 career victories, six fewer than leader Lynn Chleboard.
Mason will have a chance to pull closer opening weekend after entering nine horses for the first three days of racing, including Lawlessness in Friday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 mile and stakes-placed Lykan in an allowance sprint for older runners Sunday. Chleborad has three horses entered for the first three days of racing.
“Lynn’s a great trainer,” Mason said. “You try to run your horses in line, but here it’s difficult. You think you’re further in line, then you look at the PPs going – ‘Wow! – I’m in really deep here.’ All we can do is try. Our horses seem to be doing good. Put them in and try to win.”
Mason has 32 horses at Oaklawn, the bulk for owner/significant other Mike Waters (Muddy Waters Stables). Waters solely owns Lawlessness, an Oct. 4 Hawthorne maiden special weights graduate who will be making his two-turn and stakes debut in the Smarty Jones, and campaigns the well-traveled Lykan in partnership with Mason.
Lykan ran seventh in last year’s Smarty Jones, then returned to sprints and captured an allowance race at Oaklawn and ran third in its $90,000 Gazebo Stakes and $100,000 Bachelor Stakes. Lykan also started at Ellis Park, Arlington Park, Churchill Downs and Hawthorne last year, bankrolling $85,162 in a 10-race schedule.
“He had a great year,” Mason said. “Are you kidding me? He paid our mortgage. That’s the truth, too. But he’s a different sort. He’s got a different type of personality. He’s matured quite a bit. We’ve tried different things with him as of late, and I think he’ll improve a great deal coming into this meet.”
Mason won the first race of the 2020 Oaklawn meet with the Waters-owned Arrival and finished with 14 victories to tie for sixth in the standings.
Since starting her first horse at Oaklawn in 2010, Mason has won at least four races at every meet and reached double digits every year since 2015. Mason has three career Oaklawn stakes victories, including her first career graded score with Sarah Sis in the $150,000 Honeybee (G3) for 3-year-old fillies in 2015, and set a personal best for victories in Hot Springs (16) in 2018 and starts (122) last year.
“It’s my favorite place on the planet,” Mason said. “I love it here. There’s not anything that I don’t like about Hot Springs, Ark., and that’s why Mike and I bought a house here, because we love it here. Probably retire here some day.”
Mason saddled her first career winner in 2005 and has 483 victories overall, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. In addition to Sarah Sis, a multiple stakes winner of $912,667, Mason won Oaklawn’s $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes and $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes, both for 3-year-old fillies, in 2016 with Marquee Miss.
Chleborad saddled her first Oaklawn winner in 1997 and has at least one victory every year in Hot Springs since 2001. She has 1,365 victories overall, according to Equibase.
First post Friday, Oaklawn’s first of 57 scheduled racing dates in 2021, is 12:30 p.m. (Central). The meet concludes May 1. … Jon Court is expected to ride opening weekend after escaping serious injury when he was unseated during training hours Jan. 17, according to his new agent, Becky Esch. Court, 60, was Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2000 and has 688 career victories in Hot Springs, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. He is named on two horses Saturday and three Sunday. Four are for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. … Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel has 970 career Oaklawn victories, according to Equibase. Borel, Oaklawn’s leading rider in 1995 and 2001, is named on two horses Friday, including K J’s Nobility in the seventh race, an allowance sprint for older horses, for his wife, trainer Renay Borel, and owner Carson McCord of Hot Springs. K J’s Nobility won the $100,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes last year at Oaklawn under the care of Calvin Borel’s older brother, Cecil Borel, who retired from training following the meet. Renay Borel had been Cecil Borel’s assistant. … Red Again, a five-time winner at the 2019 Oaklawn meeting, is entered in Friday’s ninth race, a starter-allowance route for older horses, for trainer Aaron Shorter.
Serious complications are uncommon in equine pregnancies, but when they occur the consequences can be devastating for both mare and foal. Here are six high-risk scenarios to watch for in pregnant mares.
6 high-risk scenarios to watch for in pregnant mares
It’s a crisp night in February, 2 a.m., and large flakes of snow are fluttering like shavings in the hazy moonlight over the National Stud Breeding Center grounds in Neustadt, northeastern Germany. Bundled in heavy work coats and snow-dusted scarves and hats, staff members crunch along a white path in their wool-lined boots toward a brick building and open its door. There, in long rows of straw-filled stalls in a dimly lit hall, lie dozens of sleeping—and snoring—pregnant Warmblood mares.
It’s too early in the season for foaling. In fact, at this stage a foal is the last thing the staff hopes to see, as it would mean a mare had aborted—and, worse, that they’d missed the signs. That’s exactly why they’re here now, in the middle of a dark, freezing night. They’re looking for signs of complications and just about anything that might seem unusual in these precious mares, who make up not only part of the government breeding program but also the Graf Lehndorff Institute for Equine Science’s research herd.
Their visit is part of a well-established routine designed to detect risky pregnancies as early as possible. Such careful monitoring is key for safeguarding the life of mare and foal, and our sources say it’s something every breeder should be doing in every broodmare barn.
To help you identify at-risk pregnant mares, we’ve compiled a list of six focal points for your regular routine checks. But before we get started, let’s learn why such careful monitoring matters.
Surveillance and Record-Keeping
A popular misconception in the horse breeding world is that abortions can’t be stopped. On the contrary, handlers can help prevent fetal loss—and ensure mare health—by watching mares closely throughout gestation for early signs of problems, says Christine Aurich, DVM, PhD, head of the Graf Lehndorff Institute.
It’s the early part that’s critical, explains Margo Macpherson, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, professor of large animal reproduction at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in Gainesville. Disease “starts insidiously in most cases,” she says, and by the time signs become evident, the illness might have progressed to a point that treatment is less efficient. “Early intervention is the best means of saving a pregnancy,” Macpherson says.
Paying attention to your mare’s physical condition and behavior every day allows you recognize what’s normal for her, so you quickly recognize what’s not normal, she adds. Keeping written records can help you and your veterinarian notice and track irregularities. “Information is powerful,” says Macpherson. “Vigilance and observation are the most important tools you have.”
Armed with that knowledge, let’s look at things you can watch for as a vigilant broodmare owner or manager:
1. Abnormal ultrasound findings
Ultrasound exams are your veterinarian’s job, of course. But it’s up to you to schedule them regularly, because they’re critical for finding problems you can’t see—especially early in the pregnancy.
Once such problem is a twin pregnancy. The vast majority of twins die before birth—at any time of gestation—but ultrasound at Day 14 or 15 after ovulation allows veterinarians to diagnose twins and reduce one embryo, leading to a 95% chance of a healthy foal at term, says Aurich.
Ultrasound exams at 40 days and five to six months after ovulation, and measuring the combined thickness of the uterus and placenta (CTUP) and fetal heart rate any time the mare shows signs of impending abortion can help the practitioner pick up on problems with the placenta, such as placentitis (see below), or even that the mare’s quietly aborted.
2. Unusual discharge from the vulva
Simply checking the mare’s vulva every day can quickly alert handlers to one of the most common reasons for pregnancy loss, says Macpherson. Placentitis—an infection of the placenta—causes 30% of abortions in U.S. horses. Most cases are caused by bacteria entering the reproductive tract and creeping into the uterus through the cervix to attack the placenta—aptly called ascending placentitis. Fungi and viruses are occasional culprits, as well.
Although placentitis can occur throughout gestation, it’s most common after seven months, Aurich explains.
Purulent (containing pus) discharge from the vulva is a red flag, Macpherson says. But any discharge is worth reporting to your veterinarian so he or she can measure CTUP.
Fortunately, observant owners easily recognize abnormal. “If they’re looking every day, they’re going to know when something’s different,” she says. Even if the mare has a bloody discharge—typically harmless and caused by broken varicose veins in the vagina—owners should let their vets know.
Rapid intervention with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories to treat placentitis can save pregnancies, says Macpherson, citing her research data.
3. Early mammary gland development
A telltale sign of a pregnancy in trouble is premature mammary gland (udder) development. In a healthy pregnancy the glands start developing two to four weeks before delivery, says Macpherson. Anything sooner is cause for concern.
The same hormonal signals that trigger foaling trigger udder development (so the mare can feed her newborn), she says. If that happens more than a month before term, veterinarians must intervene. “The pregnancy is trying to terminate itself,” she says.
Abortion might happen because of twins—which occasionally get missed on ultrasound, says Aurich. But multiple other conditions, ranging from genetic abnormalities of the foal to structural problems in the reproductive tract, can spur fetal loss. In certain situations, such as an infected wound releasing high concentrations of abortion-inducing inflammatory mediators, veterinarians can stop the process before it’s too late.
Infectious respiratory diseases not specifically associated with abortion can also lead to pregnancy loss by compromising the mare’s breathing. “Pregnancy exerts a lot of stresses on the bodily systems, and the respiratory tract is one of them,” says Macpherson. “If the mare can’t breathe properly, this presents a risk for the pregnancy.”
Breeders can help protect their mares by following strict vaccination schedules, says Aurich. In particular, EHV-1 and EHV-4 vaccines provide good—but not absolute—protection from infection. Equine-herpesvirus-related abortions usually occur after seven months’ gestation, she adds.
Implementing biosecurity measures is critical—always, not just during outbreaks—and should include isolating pregnant mares from other horses, especially equine athletes with frequent exposure to other horses, says Aurich.
Keeping stable groups of mares reduces risks of introducing pathogens (disease-causing organisms), adds Macpherson. And handlers should practice good hygiene, washing hands and equipment thoroughly between handling horses—“a simple and effective way to stop spread of disease,” she says.
Beware the Grass She Grazes
Another risk factor for pregnancy loss to be vigilant about is fescue toxicosis. Tall fescue, a common pasture grass in many areas of the United States, can harbor a fungus called endophyte that produces the toxic ergot alkaloid ergovaline. While endophyte benefits the plant, protecting it from drought, heat, and insects, it can be devastating for late-term pregnant mares that graze on pastures or eat hay or bedding containing infected tall fescue.
Clinical signs of fescue toxicosis in mares include prolonged gestation; abortion or stillbirths; dystocia (difficult birth) due to the continued foal growth during prolonged gestation; an abnormally thickened and/or retained placenta; and hypogalactia or agalactia (poor or no milk production, including colostrum, the essential first milk that transfers antibodies from mare to the foal during the first hours of life).
Move mares off fescue fields before their third trimester. If this is not an option, ask your veterinarian about prescribing a drug called domperidone, which blocks ergovaline’s toxic effects at a cellular level.
—The Horse Staff
5. Signs of colic or general illness
Colic can be life-threatening in any horse, but in a broodmare it threatens two lives. It’s also exacerbated and sometimes sparked by the presence of the growing fetus close to the mare’s digestive tract, says Macpherson. “It displaces the bowel and can cause it to have significant torsion (twisting),” she says. The weight of the fetus can even, in rare cases, cause necrosis (cell death) of the intestines, causing the gut to “leak” into the abdomen and establish a dangerous infection.
Then there are the systemic illnesses—infections and fevers affecting the entire body—that push the pregnancy into a higher risk category. Aurich notes that greater demands on the mare’s body, especially late in pregnancy when the foal is growing quickly, make it harder for her to fight off disease.
“In mares with colic or systemic illness, inflammatory factors may be released in high concentrations, compromise the pregnancy, and result in abortion,” she says.
Veterinarians can reduce the risk of this happening by treating with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories—but never corticosteroids, she adds, which can induce foaling/abortion, especially if they’re given repeatedly.
6. Strange behavior
One of the most important signs of a high-risk pregnancy is a subtle change in the mare’s behavior, says Macpherson. Attentive handlers who spend time observing the mare daily notice these early signs best, she says.
These include changes in appetite—especially refusing to eat, says Macpherson. But less obvious signs include standing away from the rest of the herd, lying down more frequently than usual, or showing behavioral signs of pain. Familiarity with the mare’s regular habits can help distinguish between mild but normal discomfort that can occur in late gestation and more serious conditions.
Handlers who vigilantly observe mare behavior can catch high-risk issues such as endotoxemia (toxins in the bloodstream), hyperlipidemia (high fat concentrations in the blood), uterine torsion, umbilical cord torsion, prepubic tendon rupture, and placentitis, all of which make the mare act unwell, Aurich says. Many of these issues can improve with early treatment. Our sources agree that observing pregnant mares day and night isn’t always feasible, of course, especially on small farms. Breeders can consider complementing their physical presence with the use of technology such as cameras and wearable equipment like “smart halters.”
Before You Breed, Is Your Mare High-Risk?
Good surveillance begins before the pregnancy. Know your mare’s history, our sources say, to determine whether she’s considered high-risk from the start.
Mares that have already had difficult pregnancies or deliveries are often high-risk for repeat issues, says Macpherson. For example, if she hemorrhaged during foaling, she might have ruptured a major blood vessel. This is more common in older mares and might indicate the vessel is damaged.
If the mare previously aborted a dead foal, experienced dystocia (difficult delivery), and/or had retained fetal membranes, she could be less likely to conceive and, if she does, have a greater risk of complications, Aurich says.
Abortions due to genetic problems such as Warmblood fragile foal syndrome, overo lethal white syndrome in Paint Horses, and severe combined immunodeficiency in Arabians could indicate the mare is a carrier for the disorder, leading to more abortions, she says. Genetic testing could help inform more successful breeding choices, especially in selecting a compatible stallion.
Twinning “most probably has a genetic component,” which is becoming more prevalent in breeding stock now that a twin can survive after early embryo reduction and go on to reproduce, Aurich says. So, for example, a mare that had twins is more likely to have them again and needs careful ultrasound evaluation in early gestation.
Placentitis can be a repeat problem when the perineum and/or vulva has structural abnormalities that make it easier for bacteria to enter the reproductive tract, says Aurich. A breeding soundness examination, including endometrial bacterial culture and cytology, can help detect at-risk mares. Veterinarians can then treat them during pregnancy with antibiotics and, if warranted, a Caslick’s procedure to partially close the vulva. They’re also good candidates for embryo transfer to another mare, she adds.
For all pregnancies, but especially high-risk ones, owners should get their veterinarians involved early and maintain good working relationships with them as a team, says Macpherson. Many clinics, including the University of Florida where she works, offer flat-rate veterinary care packages for gestation so owners can benefit from regular visits without worrying about itemized expenses. “This isn’t a time to cut corners,” she says—particularly when risks are high.
Serious complications are uncommon in equine pregnancies, but when they occur the consequences can be devastating for both mare and foal. Breeders can reduce risks by monitoring mares closely and recognizing problems early. When you have a high-risk pregnant mare and understand the dangers involved, you can provide her with the best supervision and veterinary care to help ensure her success.
Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.
70 Supplemental Entries added to Kentucky Winter Mixed
Fasig-Tipton has catalogued an additional 70 supplemental entries to its 2021 Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale.
These entries are catalogued as hips 581-650 and may now be viewed online. Print versions of the supplemental catalogue will be available on the sales grounds at sale time.
These latest entries include:
JULIA’S READY (Hip 594): Daughter of MORE THAN READY is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner TOM’S D’ETAT. A winner at 2 and an earner of $191,000, she is consigned as racing/broodmare prospect by Hermitage Farm, agent.
MO SEE CAL (Hip 605): Daughter of UNCLE MO is a stakes winner of $348,258. Consigned as a broodmare prospect by Paramount Sales, agent.
EDUCATING (Hip 610): Young daughter of ELUSIVE QUALITY is a half-sister to graded stakes winners DIVERSY HARBOR, KEERTANA, and SNOW TOP MOUNTAIN. In foal to HARD SPUN, she is consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent.
WHOA NELLIE (Hip 625): Multiple stakes winner and multiple graded stakes-placed earner of $353,830. Immediate family of G1 winners AWESOME HUMOR, EMCEE, and CONSTITUTION. Consigned as a broodmare prospect by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent for Fox Hill Farms, Inc.
PLAYFUL LOVE (Hip 630): Stakes-placed daughter of TAPIT, offered in foal to TWIRLING CANDY. Consigned by Lane’s End, agent.
FIFTYSHAYS OF GREEN (Hip 640): Stakes-placed daughter of leading broodmare sire BERNARDINI, from the family of G1 winner COMPOSURE.
DAME COMMANDER (Hip 642): Three-year-old daughter of WAR FRONT is a half-sister to European GSW and U.S. G1 placed LONG ISLAND SOUND, and out of half-sister to Grade 1 winners ZENYATTA and BALANCE. Consigned as a racing/broodmare prospect by Four Star Sales, agent.
NOT IN JEOPARDY (Hip 646): Multiple stakes-placed daughter of THE FACTOR is out of a stakes winning half-sister to G1 winners JUSTIN PHILLIP and GREENPOINTCRUSADER, and graded stakes winners SUCCESSFUL MISSION and ALGORITHMS. Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent.
Also included are yearlings by BOLT D’ORO, PRACTICAL JOKE, GOOD MAGIC, FROSTED, GHOSTZAPPER, and MUNNINGS.
There are also several entries form the Estate of Daniel Kessler (K.C. Garrett Farm LLC).
Fasig-Tipton will continue to accept approved supplemental entries through Monday, January 26.
For further information: