Alright Alright Wins Grade 3 Bob Hope, St. Joe Bay Troubled 3rd

2 08 2016

By The Blood-Horse

(DEL MAR, CALIFORNIA, USA) – Stalking No Problem grabbed the lead in deep stretch and held even-money favorite Alright Alright at bay in the final strides to win the $100,000 Bob Hope (gr. III) in his stakes debut at Nov. 15 at Del Mar (VIDEO).

No Problem was ridden to victory in a terrific finish by Victor Espinoza at odds of 17-1 for P and G Stables and trainer Michael McCarthy, who earned his first graded stakes victory since going out on his own this year. The former assistant to Todd Pletcher was credited with four graded stakes wins in 2007 when subbing for Pletcher, who was serving a lengthy suspension at the time.

“Take nothing away from the little horse,” McCarthy said. “He’s very gritty, does everything right in the mornings, loves to train and loves his job. He persevered here going into the final turn, got bumped around a little bit, but was game enough to hold on.”

The result was a good one for the 8-year-old Ashford Stud stallion Munnings, who sired both the winner and the second-place finisher as part of his initial crop. No Problem was timed in 1:23.48 for seven furlongs on Del Mar’s Polytrack, winning by half a length.

The upset helped trigger a three-day carryover of $599,483 into Sunday’s Pick Six at Del Mar.

The field for the Bob Hope, formerly the Hollywood Prevue when it was hosted by Hollywood Park, was reduced to eight 2-year-olds by the scratch of morning line favorite Prime Engine by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The Gottstein Futurity winner is being aimed instead at the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. III) Nov. 22.

That left Alright Alright, coming off a sharp debut maiden win Oct. 25 at Santa Anita Park, as the solid choice with Drayden Van Dyke aboard.

But it was All Indians, the only horse in the field with a win over the Del Mar surface, who set a swift pace as No Problem rated and Alright Alright settled toward the rear. All Indians opened up by a couple of lengths as he stepped the opening quarter mile in :22.04 and the half in :44.67 while chased by Every May, with No Problem third and Sebastian’s Heart and St. Joe Bay forwardly placed as well. Alright Alright was sixth or seventh in the early going while racing off the rail.

All Indians was in deep water rounding the turn as No Problem took a narrow advantage in upper stretch along the inside with St. Joe Bay between them and the favorite progressing on the far outside. Those three battled gamely and were heads apart at the furlong marker before St. Joe Bay gave way slightly. Alright Alright appeared to have the momentum, poking his head in front in the charge for the wire but Espinoza urged on No Problem, who fought back at the rail and surged in the final yards to prevail.

“He surprised me, this horse. He’s a fighter,” Espinoza said. “He’s just a little horse but he runs big.

“When we got into the stretch he put his ears down and he fought. He didn’t want to let them by.”

Alright Alright settled for second, and it was one length back to St. Joe Bay in third.

Under 116 pounds, No Problem paid $36.20, $11.20, and $5.80 as the second-longest shot in the field. He keyed a generous $110.40 exacta with Alright Alright, who returned $3.20 and $2.40. St. Joe Bay, ridden by Elvis Trujillo, was $2.80 to show.

No Problem was coming off a 4 1/2-length maiden victory at the $75,000 claiming level at Santa Anita Oct. 26 after finishing eighth in his debut a month earlier against maiden special weight company. He earned $60,000 for the Bob Hope win and has now banked $81,250.

The chestnut colt was bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Marc Ferrell out of the unraced Orientate mare Brief Tears.

Originally a $22,000 weanling buy at the 2012 Keeneland November sale, No Problem was purchased by his owners for $30,000 when consigned by Top Line Sales at the 2103 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. August yearling sale. He was offered again at Ocala as a 2-year-old in April by Eddie Woods, agent, but did not meet his reserve on a $72,000 bid.

Sebastian’s Heart finished fourth in the Bob Hope, followed by Diamond Majesty, Every May, All Indians, and Story to Tell.

Grade I Winner Heir Kitty Tops Del Mar Sale

21 07 2014

By The Blood-Horse

HeirKittyLaBreaStakes2013Benoit298(DEL MAR, CALIFORNIA, USA) – The Del Mar paddock sale was billed as a place to buy ready-made racehorses, but it was Heir Kitty’s broodmare value that made her the $750,000 sale topper. The grade I winner could continue racing in this country, but she is ultimately destined for Japan and life as a broodmare.

Emmanuel de Seroux’s Narvick International signed the ticket for Heir Kitty on behalf of an undisclosed Japanese buyer. Steven Venosa’s SGV Thoroughbreds consigned the 4-year-old daughter of Wildcat HeirBe Silver, by Silver Buck, for David Bernsen and Paul Makin. Heir Kitty won the 2013 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) at San Anita Park and has earned $421,272.

“She’s a grade I winner, and she was very good value,” said De Seroux. “If you go to the November sales, you might have to pay much more (for a comparable horse).”

Many of the other horses sold at the paddock sale could very likely run at the Del Mar meet, which opened July 17 and runs through Sept. 3. It was the third year that Barretts Sales & Racing and Del Mar Thoroughbred Club have conducted the sale, designed to bring horses into the Southern California racing circuit.

The sale averaged $113,000, with 19 horses grossing $2,147,000. The average rose 52.8% over 2013, when 17 grossed $1,257,000 and averaged $73,941. Ten of the 29 horses through the ring didn’t sell, for a buy-back rate of 34.5%.

“We feel like we’re ahead of schedule,” said Barretts general manager Kim Lloyd. “We didn’t think we’d get these kind of horses in here until year five. We’re very pleased with the results, and to have these kind of numbers in the third year is outstanding.”

Lloyd said that Barretts plans to conduct a similar sale this fall in conjunction with the new Del Mar autumn race meeting.

Venosa, whose consignment included three other six-figure horses, was pleased with the sale.

“Any time you lead them over and sell them for that price, you’re very happy,” said Venosa. “Grade I winners don’t come to the sale very often.”

Sushi Empire, winner of this year’s Blue Norther Stakes at Santa Anita, was the second-highest price, bringing $275,000. Sweezey and Partners sold the 3-year-old daughter of Empire MakerDowell House, by Danzig. Trainer Tevis McCauley of Lexington, Ky., bought Sushi Empire on behalf of his father, Ron, and his brother, Nathan.

“We brought a filly, Mizilli, out to race (at Del Mar) and take advantage of the Ship & Win program,” said McCauley. “Sushi Empire is the one filly that we had our eye on at the sale. We love the pedigree and the fact that she’s by Empire Maker. She’ll be very well accepted in Kentucky. We’ll probably run her the rest of this year and put her in foal next year.”

Campaigned by Wounded Warrior Stable, the 3-year-old filly has earned $96,270 with one victory and four placings from 11 starts.

Gary Stevens Guides Heir Kitty to Gr1 La Brea Victory

26 12 2013

By The Blood-Horse

HeirKittyLaBreaStakes2013Benoit298(ARCADIA, CALIFORNIA, USA) – Heir Kitty overtook 4-5 favorite Sweet Lulu in the final furlong to post a 13-1 upset in the $300,000 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) on opening day at Santa Anita Park Dec. 26, giving Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens his first win in the race since 1998.

The 50-year-old Stevens, who launched a comeback early in 2013 following a seven-year retirement, won the La Brea for the fifth time in his career. His first La Brea victory came in 1987 with Family Style for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Peter Miller trains Heir Kitty, a daughter of Wildcat Heir owned by David A. Bernsen and Paul Makin. Heir Kitty, multiple graded stakes-placed, earned her first graded triumph.

Heir Kitty won as the second-longest shot on the board, defeating Sweet Lulu by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:21.47 for seven furlongs. Executiveprivilege edged My Happy Face for third in the field of six 3-year-old fillies.

The La Brea was the first graded stakes of the extended 109-day meet in 2013-14 at Santa Anita.

A $32,000 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company purchase in April 2012, Heir Kitty was bred in Florida by Pedro Gonzales and Jorge Herrera out of the stakes-placed Silver Buck mare Be Silver.

Heir Kitty was coming off a victory over an allowance/optional claiming field at six furlongs on the Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park Nov. 29.

“We put her back around one turn and put the blinkers back on her (for her prior start),” Miller said. “We gave up the experiment of trying to make her a distance horse, and it has worked out. She’s very straightforward; she tries real hard. She’s not a big filly.”

She found a good stalking spot along the inside leaving the chute with My Happy Face to her outside. Sweet Lulu, breaking from the rail, hustled to the front under Rafael Bejarano over Journey On, who led out of the gate.

Those two raced in close contention with Sweet Lulu, exiting a fifth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I), holding a half-length advantage after sensible quarter-mile fractions of :22.67 and :45.45.

Heir Kitty, racing about 1 1/2 lengths behind the leaders coming off the turn, was up on the outside in the lane, drawing even with Sweet Lulu mid-stretch and gradually getting control for Stevens in the final sixteenth of a mile.

“I rode this race a bit like a turf race,” Stevens said. “I was able to sit back in the pocket; this dirt is in unbelievable condition. We aren’t getting near the kick-back we were getting during Breeders’ Cup and the fall meet.

“I was able to tuck in there and I have very little dirt on me now even. She was content and stayed comfortable. It’s easy to ride those turf races that way and very rarely do you get that opportunity on the dirt.”

Sweet Lulu was 2 1/2 lengths in front of Executiveprivilege and Mike Smith, who finished a head better than My Happy Face. Journey On and Madame Cactus trailed.

“It was a clean break from the gate and I was really comfortable in the lead,” Bejarano said of Sweet Lulu. “I wasn’t expecting to be in the lead and for my horse, I was walking the race. The winner, she was the best today. It wasn’t a fast pace. I went a slow fraction. No excuse.”

Heir Kitty, who ran second to males as a 2-year-old in the Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar and was also second in Santa Anita’s Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) last January, improved her career mark to 4-3-1 in 15 races with earnings of $370,272.

The winner carried 118 pounds, five fewer than the highweighted favorite, and paid $28.20, $7.60, and $4, while keying a $65 exacta. Sweet Lulu, winner of the Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course last summer for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, returned $2.80 and $2.40. Executiveprivilege, who added blinkers for trainer Bob Baffert, paid $3.40 to show.

Waller Quinellas Marrickville Handicap

23 10 2010

By Racing & Sports

(SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA) – The Cincotta Chemist Marrickville Handicap saw a thrilling finish between the Chris Waller pair Gigino and Alexander Of Hales over the 2000m journey.

The heavily backed favourite, the improving Gigino, sat second in the run and loomed up to his stablemate in the straight but required all of Brenton Avdulla’s strength to lift him over the line over the longshot who refused to let the eventual winner go past him until the final bob on the line.

Gigino, who has won five of his last six starts, has been one of the most improved horses in Sydney this campaign after coming back from a serious injury.

“He’s done a great job,” Waller said. “Full credit to my staff who have brought him back from a career threatening injury in a tendon.

“And it was a great run by the runner-up. I don’t know what happened to Alexander of Hales first-up but he’ll be hard to beat next time.”

Waller has now extended his winning streak to 14 consecutive Rosehill meetings with a victory.

The pair would now look to go in different directions as the Kiwi trainer has targeted the staying Alexander of Hales for more distance leading to the Group 3 Summer Cup on Boxing Day, and Gigino looks to be more effective at at 2000m.

Alexander in Rosehill Comeback

6 10 2010


(SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA) – Expensive European import Alexander Of Hales makes his return to racing on Saturday after recovering from a broken hind leg.

His Chris Waller-trained stablemate Gigino is the likely favourite in the Benchmark 90 race over 1800 metres at Rosehill but Waller believes the seven-year-old can make his presence felt.

“He pulled up sore after his last start in March and that’s when we found the hairline fracture in his hind leg,” Waller said.

“He’s completely recovered now and has had three barrier trials to get him ready for 1800 metres first-up.

Starcraft’s owner Paul Makin was the major partner in the syndicate which bought Alexander Of Hales for a reported $1 million after he finished second, albeit beaten nine lengths, in the 2007 Irish Derby won by Soldier Of Fortune.

After a spring campaign with Danny O’Brien in Melbourne in 2008, Alexander Of Hales was sent north to Waller for a change of scenery.

Although he has won just one race in Australia for Waller, Alexander Of Hales has been thereabouts in plenty of others.

“He always runs consistently well,” Waller said.

“But he’s probably not going as well as Gigino at the moment.”

Gigino hasn’t raced for a month but has had a barrier trial during that time.

The five-year-old won three of his four starts prior to his short break with his most recent start a victory over subsequent Newcastle Cup winner Stratofortress.

Two weeks earlier Stratofortress beat Gigino after finishing third to him at their previous clash.

Waller said his other nominations for the race, Beijing Boy and Stand To Gain, would be saved for another day.

Hugh Bowman, who has elected to stay in Sydney this weekend after failing to secure a Caulfield Guineas ride, will be aboard Gigino while apprentice Kody Nestor rides Alexander Of Hales.

There were 16 entries for the Benchmark 90 with Alexander Of Hales topweight with 58.5kg while the Gai Waterhouse-trained Joku has 61.5kg in the Open Handicap over 1400 metres, four more than multiple Group One winner Mentality.

Game She’s Funomenal Gets Job Done In The Stretch Drive

13 12 2009

By Hollywood Park

(INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA) – She’s Funomenal, under Joel Rosario, takes the first running of the Ifyoucouldseemenow Stakes. She’s Funomenal, who made a splash in her career debut when she drew off to win by 5 ½ lengths here Nov. 15, found herself in a tough spot early in the stretch when Excellent News began to pull away and Seriously made a bid to her outside.

The 2-year-old daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus responded when asked by jockey Joel Rosario and was widening at the finish, covering 6 ½ furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:15.96.

“She was a lot more experienced today,” Rosario said. “My horse broke sharp, but I wanted to try and get her relaxed and let her finish. That’s why I didn’t rush her up from the inside. She’s a real nice filly. It took a little while to get by those other horses, but she did it. Last time it was her first start and she didn’t really know what was going on. Today she was a lot more professional.”

She’s Funomenal, owned by a partnership including trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, STD Racing, Summit Racing and Carondelet Farm, banked $30,450 to boost her earnings to $52,050 while improving her record to two-for-two.

“If you want to have a horse that’s going to be a good horse, they can’t just run full speed the whole way,” said Dan Ward, assistant to Hollendorfer. “She showed she can come from off the pace. Before they do it you don’t know. In the morning they can do it, start off slow and finish fast, but in a race it’s a different story. I like the way she finished, and the way she galloped out was very promising for us.”

She’s Funomenal paid $2.60 and $2.10, while Excellent News returned $2.20. The scratch of Haggai reduced the field to four and there was no show betting.

Alexander of Hales to Run in Queensland

26 06 2009


(SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA) – Sydney trainer Chris Waller has rolled the dice and taken former Irish stayer Alexander Of Hales to Queensland for the Listed Caloundra Cup despite the possibility the race could be switched from the grass to the all weather Cushion track.

“I’ll be very disappointed if the race is moved to the Cushion track,” Waller said.

“In fact, I’m not sure whether it would be allowed to move a Listed race to the Cushion.

“I don’t think the board (Pattern Committee) that decides our Group and Listed races would approve it.”

Caloundra was rated a heavy 10 on Thursday following 110 millimetres of rain since Sunday and more was forecast for Friday and Saturday despite a brief respite in the weather over the past few days.

Chief steward Wade Birch inspected the track on Thursday and declared it safe but he did have concerns with a section near the 1000-metre shute.

“The track is very wet but it can take more rain and is safe for racing,” said Birch, who will make a further inspection Friday.

Queensland Racing Limited’s racing manager Paul Brennan is confident the three major features, the Caloundra Cup, Glasshouse Handicap and Sunshine Coast Guineas will proceed as normal on the grass track.

The club has programmed 12 races, eight on grass and four on the synthetic surface.

“The only way we would transfer the meeting is if the track became unsafe because of visibility,” Brennan said.

“The Sunshine Coast is one of the best wet weather tracks in the country and at this stage we’re proceeding as normal on the grass.”

Alexander Of Hales arrived safely in Brisbane on Thursday and will be ridden by Brad Pengelly in the Caloundra Cup (2400m).

Waller also had nominated Alexander Of Hales for Saturday’s Listed Winter Cup (2400m) at Rosehill but favoured the Caloundra Cup because of its superior prizemoney.

“The Caloundra Cup has more prizemoney than the Winter Cup and we were planning to bring him up for next week’s Queensland Cup anyway,” Waller said.

“I didn’t want to give him a gut buster on a heavy track at home and then come up the same week of the Queensland Cup so I decided to send him up earlier and run at Caloundra.”

Waller holds no fears with a heavy track for the Irish import who finished fourth under the conditions to Ready To Lift in the Listed McKell Cup (2400m) two starts back at Rosehill on May 30.

“He loves the wet and a heavy track won’t bother him,” Waller said.

“He had no excuses in the McKell Cup and had every chance when fourth last start at Rosehill.

“He’s a real grinder who will go all day and I expect to see him race forward and roll along.”

Alexander of Hales was imported to Australia by Paul Makin of Starcraft fame and was originally trained in Melbourne by Danny O’Brien who is also a part-owner and sent him to Waller for a change of scenery.

Alexander Of Hales was formerly raced by Coolmore and won a Group Three race in France and finished second to Soldier Of Fortune in the 2007 Irish Derby.

However, the son of Danehill is yet to record a win on Australian soil from 10 starts, six of which were for O’Brien in Melbourne.