Archives for May 22, 2024

Belmont Stakes 2024 Notes

Barksdale works for G1 Woody Stephens

Cypress Creek Equine’s Barksdale is set to make his stakes debut in the Grade 1, $500,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores on Belmont Stakes Day June 8 at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Will Walden, the Street Sense dark bay graduated on debut in October traveling two turns at Horseshoe Indianapolis but followed with a pair of distant off-the-board efforts at Churchill Downs to complete his juvenile campaign.

“He’s a big, long two-turn bred type horse and I think I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole there,” Walden said. “He broke his maiden going two turns at Indiana and then we stretched him out in a tough allowance race – Bill Mott won it with a Constitution colt [Parchment Party] that was supposed to get on the Derby trail but had a setback; Catching Freedom was in there, and a few others that have turned out to be stakes quality. That being said – it didn’t turn out well. We wheeled him back quick in a one-turn mile and that also didn’t go well.”

Barksdale was subsequently gelded and has focused on sprint events this season, finished a pressing fifth in March at Turfway Park when entered for a $50,000 tag in an optional-claiming race won by the speedy Joe Shiesty, who blitzed to a 29-1 upset two starts later on turf in the William Walker on May 1 at Churchill Downs.

Barksdale has won both starts since in gate-to-wire fashion, taking a seven-furlong starter allowance on April 7 at Keeneland under Tyler Gaffalione and a 6 1/2-furlong optional-claimer at Aqueduct by four lengths with Dylan Davis at the helm on April 26 that registered a career-best 91 Beyer Speed Figure.

Walden said the Turfway effort set Barksdale up perfectly for his recent success.

“Joe Shiesty is extremely fast. That was an allowance optional race and because of his two efforts prior at Churchill, I put him in for the $50,000 to make him starter eligible,” Walden said. “That day at Turfway he didn’t break sharply and Joe Shiesty went 43 and 4 for the half-mile and Barksdale ran into that pace. I thought he ran pretty valiantly to hold on for fifth. He was really tired after that race and got a lot out of it and it set him up for Keeneland and the drop in class.”

Walden said Barksdale has responded well to being gelded and a patient approach from the gate.

“He’s a big, heavy horse and carried a ton of extra weight. I think that [being gelded] helped him physically and mentally,” Walden said. “We learned don’t ask him out of the gate, just let him do his thing. If you press the button too early, you won’t have anything to finish up with whereas if you break, he’ll place himself forwardly in the race on his own. He just has a lot of natural speed.”

Barksdale had his first work back on Thursday at Keeneland, covering a half-mile in 49.40 in company with graded stakes-winner Manny Wah.

Horse racing to begin at Belmont in June“We ran him back a little quicker than we typically would, and we usually give them 14 days after a race to work them, but I gave him 20 days,” Walden said. “The work was awesome. He worked in company with Manny Wah, who is a graded stakes winner here at Keeneland and I thought they both worked really well. He’ll have a five-eighths next week and then back down to a half in preparation for the Woody Stephens.

“He ran a big number last time and he ran a good number the time before that,” added Walden. “We’re excited about going back to seven-eighths and taking a shot against the big boys.”

Tyler Gaffalione will have the call on Barksdale in the Woody Stephens.

Walden could also be represented at the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival with Cypress Creek Equine’s Clear the Air in the Grade 1, $500,000 Jaipur presented by Resolute Racing on Belmont Stakes Day June 8 at Saratoga Race Course. The 5 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November at Del Mar.

Clear the Air is entered in an allowance sprint Saturday at Churchill Downs but the 4-year-old Ransom the Moon colt has demonstrated an affinity for running well on short rest, winning a Turfway Park claimer [98 Beyer] on 15 day’s rest in December and a Keeneland turf allowance [92 Beyer] last out on April 21 on three week’s rest.

“As much as I don’t love wheeling back on quick rest this horse seems to thrive on it. He’s run a lot of big numbers off short rest,” Walden said. “It feels like he uses the first one as a tee up and then really brings it. I don’t know if that’s coincidence or if that works for him, but we’ll see how he runs here this weekend.”

Walden is also excited about a pair of talented turf fillies purchased at the Tattersalls December Mare Sale for Woodford Thoroughbreds in recent Grade 3 Soaring Softly winner Pipsy and Group 2-placed Olivia Maralda, who rallied to finish second in an allowance on April 20 in her stateside debut.

Pipsy, a Kodiac bay, was purchased for $929,489 after having won 2-of-3 starts for her former conditioner Ger Lyons in her native Ireland. She reared up at the break of the six-furlong Soaring Softly here in her U.S. debut and raced in last-of-10 before closing with an impressive turn of foot to best Kairyu by a half-length. The effort garnered an 82 Beyer.

Walden said Pipsy will look to stretch out next in the Listed $250,000 Tepin, a one-mile turf test for sophomore fillies on June 29 at Churchill Downs with an eye towards the one-mile Grade 3, $175,000 Lake George on July 20 at Saratoga Race Course.

“We’re just in a holding pattern right now but all signs point to her having come out of the race perfect and she’s back galloping at Keeneland,” Walden said. “The plan is probably to go to the Tepin at a mile on June 28 at CD. If she handles the stretch out, the Lake George is the plan after that. WE have to take it one race at a time and if she doesn’t stretch out then we’ll have to cut her back, but I feel confident she will [stretch out].”

Olivia Maralda, a $961,949 purchase and also by Kodiac, was a close second in the 2022 Group 2 Debutante at The Curragh for trainer M.D. O’Callaghan. She was campaigned last year by Roger Varian, winning the seven-furlong Surrey at Epsom.

In her stateside debut with Flavien Prat aboard, Olivia Maralda rallied from eight-of-11 to finish second just three-quarter lengths back of Misread and a head in front of next-out winner Sacred Wish.

“They went 46 and change for the half-mile and they were pretty spread out. The winner was five lengths off it and got a perfect trip,” Walden said. “We were proud of her effort that day. She had a lot of traffic in the lane and didn’t really get free until about 10 jumps before the wire and she made a big move to get up for second. That was first off a long layoff so I’m really excited about how she’s doing.”

Olivia Maralda is likely to make her next start in the Grade 1, $300,000 Gamely, a nine-furlong turf test for 3-year-olds and up on May 27 at Santa Anita Park.

“She’s been everywhere but she travels well – she’s a well-mannered filly,” Walden said. “It would really improve her residual value going forward to get that Grade 1 win or placing. She’s doing really good. She came out of the Keeneland race in good order and is training better now than she was going into it.”

Walden said Olivia Maralda’s calm demeanor is advantageous as she looks to stretch out in distance.

“Olivia Maralda is not a filly that’s going to lock onto the bit and be really aggressive,” Walden said. “She’s really bred to go short and has tactical speed to do so, but her mentality and the way she places herself in a race and relaxes really allows her to stretch out a little bit further than pedigree would suggest.”

Hong Kong Horse Racing Selections – Wed., May 22

HAPPY VALLEY SELECTIONS
(Wednesday, May 22, 2024)

Race 1: #4 Go Go Go, #12 Green Laser, #5 Happy Hero, #1 Keen Unity
Race 2:
#6 Talents Supremo, #8 Mister Fox, #5 So Treasure, #11 Travel Golf
Race 3:
#6 Master Tornado, #4 Beer Palace, #2 Fighting Machine, #10 Palace Pal
Race 4:
#7 Flying Wrote, #10 Lean Master, #11 Speedy Chariot, #9 Sky Prophet
Race 5:
#7 Can’t Go Wong, #3 Kasa Papa, #8 Packing Wisher, #1 Cordyceps One
Race 6:
#1 Telecom Speed, #2 High Percentage, #4 Togepi, #7 Beauty Destiny
Race 7:
#1 Beauty Waves, #2 Celestial Colours, #8 Fast Serve, #5 Brave Star
Race 8:
#4 Sweet Briar, #6 Romantic Laos, #3 Ivy League, #2 Giddy Up
Race 9:
#3 Kurpany, #5 Colourful Emperor, #8 Superb Capitalist, #4 Tomodachi Kokoroe

Race 1: Chester Handicap (3.40am PDT, 6.40am EDT)

#4 Go Go Go is ever so close to a first win. He narrowly missed last start and a replication of that run will see him take beating. He’s the clear top pick, especially with Zac Purton retaining the ride. #12 Green Laser gets in light. He can mix his form, however, the featherweight impost and recent efforts suggest he can run well again. #5 Happy Hero has performed strongly over this track and trip before. #1 Keen Unity can improve getting out over further. This grade suits him. Keep safe.

Race 2: Hereford Handicap (3rd Section) (4.10am PDT, 7.10am EDT)

#6 Talents Supremo has proved consistent all season. He has a suitable draw this week and is deserving of another win this campaign, especially after proving competitive a number of times of late. One to beat. #8 Mister Fox keeps improving and his latest effort was sound. He can take another step forward. #5 So Treasure turned his form around last start, narrowly missing at odds of 31/1. He’ll give this group something to worry about. #11 Travel Golf is still without a win. He’s better suited to Happy Valley.

Race 3: Lancashire Handicap (2nd Section) (4.40am PDT, 7.40am EDT)

Surprising to still see #6 Master Tornado without a win. He’s been consistent all season and deserves a breakthrough triumph. The inside draw gives him every possible chance. #4 Beer Palace mixes his form but clearly has some ability. He’s worth keeping safe here from an in-form Mark Newnham stable. #2 Fighting Machine returned off a lengthy lay off earlier this month. He can improve again with that run under his belt. #10 Palace Pal doesn’t know how to run a bad race. Next in line.

Race 4: Hereford Handicap (1st Section) (5.10am PDT, 8.10am EDT)

#7 Flying Wrote did well to grab fifth on debut. He can improve with that run under his belt and this contest is more than suitable. One they all must beat. #10 Lean Master has a positive racing pattern. He’ll press forward and from there get his shot. #11 Speedy Chariot continues to take the right steps froward. He pairs favourably with Andrea Atzeni and the light weight affords him his opportunity. #9 Sky Prophet has twice been too far back in the run with too much work to do. Don’t discount.

Race 5: The St George’s Challenge Cup Handicap (1st Section) (5.40am PDT, 8.40am EDT)

#7 Can’t Go Wong has the draw to overcome, however, he is currently in career-best form. He’s found his groove and gets his chance here, even from out wide. Taking a chance on him to offset an unfavourable gate. #3 Kasa Papa has always shown his capabilities as a winner in waiting. His recent form has been sound and Hugh Bowman’s pairing is a plus. #8 Packing Wisher should get a sweet run from the inside gate. He can go close. #1 Cordyceps One can press forward and lead. He’ll take reeling in.

Race 6: Hereford Handicap (2nd Section) (6.10am PDT, 9.10am EDT)

#1 Telecom Speed narrowly missed last start. He goes about his racing well and should get every chance this week, especially from an ideal gate. One to beat. #2 High Percentage is seeking a hat-trick of wins. He remains in Class 4, which suits. The only knock is that he will have to overcome an awkward draw against a formidable group of rivals. #4 Togepi will give this group a head-start before charging home. #7 Beauty Destiny has ability, although he does show signs of inexperience. Don’t discount.

Race 7: Renfrew Handicap (6.45am PDT, 9.45am EDT)

#1 Beauty Waves is chasing a hat-trick of wins. He’s a serious talent on the rise and his latest two efforts have been super. Zac Purton retains the ride and the horse remains in Class 3, which holds him in very good stead. #2 Celestial Colours is lightly raced but does have ability. He’s a winner in this grade and does appear suited getting back in distance. #8 Fast Serve returns first-up this season after setbacks. He’s got ability and his latest trial at Happy Valley was encouraging. #5 Brave Star is next best.

Race 8: Selkirk Handicap (7.15am PDT, 10.15am EDT)

#4 Sweet Briar deserves another victory. He’s placed six times this season without winning and gets another super chance here. Zac Purton’s aboard and his recent form suggests he’ll prove hard to beat. #6 Romantic Laos has an ideal draw. He placed last start and can further build on that effort here, especially over his preferred distance. #3 Ivy League has turned his form around this season as a two-time winner. #2 Giddy Up can save ground throughout. Next in line.

Race 9: Wiltshire Handicap (7.50am PDT, 10.50am EDT)

#3 Kurpany returns after an extended break at Conghua following a setback. He gets a handy seven pounds taken off his back and his recent trackwork has appeared very, very good. He’s a winner in this grade already this season. Taking a chance on him at odds. #5 Colourful Emperor is a three-time winner from his last four starts. He’s in career-best form and will get his shot here. #8 Superb Capitalist can press forward and get his chance. #4 Tomodachi Kokoroe draws well. Next in line.