Howard Pair Has Potential

As we move along on these slow December days while anxiously awaiting the start of the Triple Crown season, it helps to pass the time by keeping an eye on some of these impressive maiden winners. Within the last week, trainer Neil Howard had a pair that caught my eye.

On Friday, Howard sent out Wilkinson in a 1 mile and 40-yard maiden special weight at Fair Grounds. I've been following this horse ever since I was tipped off that he had been working very strongly at Churchill this fall. After a pair of runner-up efforts in October and November, Wilkinson put it all together in his third start, stalking the pace and winning by a length under Robby Albarado. He ran a nice race considering he was caught inside the whole way and was chasing the pacesetter who had an easy lead. Here's the video.

Wilkinson is by Lemon Drop Kid, out of the Afternoon Deelites mare Tasha's Delight. Howard is optimistic that he can develop into a very good 3-year-old and would like to give him his opportunity on the Triple Crown trail. Look for him in about three or four weeks in an allowance race at Fair Grounds before hopefully moving on to stakes company.

"We took our time with him," Howard said Tuesday. "He had some stuff going on this summer--shins, coughing, the normal 2-year-old problems. But once he got that behind him he trained well.

"He ran well in his first two races. The first race was seven-eighths (at Keeneland). We think he is more of two-turn horse but he still ran a good race (beaten a head). In his next race he was victim of being caught wide on both turns. But this last race went smoothly.

"We're all a little at the mercy of the condition book this time of year, but we want to keep his races spaced anyway. We'll look for something in maybe three, four weeks. I learned not to get too far ahead of yourself with these young horses, but yes, I would say he (will get a chance on the Triple Crown trail). He has the pedigree and conformation; he's well-balanced and the way he's trained has been impressive so far. We're definitely looking in that direction."

Gaillardia Racing is the breeder/owner of Wilkinson.

Howard is also high on Prime Cut, who broke his maiden on Sunday at Fair Grounds going six furlongs in his second try (video). By Bernstein, out of the Stravinsky mare Life Happened, the bay colt has more of a turf pedigree but has gotten his first chances on dirt. He was a $475,000 yearling, bought by Don Adams' Courtlandt Farms.

Prime Cut made his debut way back in June at Churchill (fourth) but had a major illness that forced them to give the colt plenty of rest before returning him to the track. He came wide and from off the pace in his maiden win last weekend, and even though it was a sprint Howard says horses sometimes get more out of one turn races at Fair Grounds because of the long stretch. Like Wilkinson, he will also be sent into an allowance contest within the next month with a goal of trying a Derby prep at some point.

"He was picked out by Mike Ryan with help from Mr. Adams and his farm manager, Ernie. He's a beautiful colt and trained very well for his first start. We we're very encouraged. He ran Ok, we were a little disappointed, but then a few days later he came down with a serious respiratory problem that developed into pneumonia. We gave him the rest of the summer off and took it easy with him when he came back.

"Robby (Albarado) worked him a few days before the race and gave us the green light. He ran well. He does have turf in his pedigree and we wouldn't hesitate to run him on it later, but right now we're looking at seeing what he can do (on dirt)."

Howard, who is based at Churchill and has a stable in New Orleans during the winter, won his only Triple Crown race with Summer Squall in the 1990 Preakness, is hopeful that both colts can make a splash on next year's Triple Crown trail. He thinks the talent is there for each.

"Both are sturdy, strong horses. It's time to move them along and see what they can do," he said.

Along with Summer Squall, Howard is also best known for training 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft. On Tuesday, Howard was in Central Kentucky to see his former charge at Lane's End.

"He's doing great, looks fabulous," he said. "I haven't seen him in a while but he's always so happy-go-lucky."


Leave a Comment:

The Rock

Very slow times for both of these horses in their maiden wins. I haven't been following the Fair Grounds lately but was the track playing slow that weekend? Other than that, both had pretty good trips and won nicely. Primed Cut has more of a turf/miler type pedigree. I would think the former would be more appealing to the longer distances, IMO. But both looked good.

14 Dec 2010 5:58 PM

Neil Howard is a top horseman and a classy gentleman.  I would be thrilled to see one of his horses develop into  a top Derby candidate.  I don't know much about these horses so thanks, Jason, for the info!

14 Dec 2010 8:34 PM
Ted from LA

I just heard about Unzip Me.  Teddy likey.

14 Dec 2010 11:16 PM


Wilkinson: Sired by a grandson of Mr. Prospector. Five of Mr. P’s grandsons have sire derby winners (Street Cry, Elusive Quality, Distorted Humor, Quiet American and Unbridled) interestingly, none were winners of the Belmont and Only Unbridled won a Triple Crown race. Wilkinson’s sire Lemon Drop Kid falls into a distinguish group. (Positive) The 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird was sired by a Belmont winner. Prior to 2009 the last Belmont winner to sire a derby winner was Seattle Slew. His son Swale won the 1984 Belmont. There was a 24 years lapse between Derby winners’ sires by a Belmont winner. It is unlikely that this will recur in a span of one year. (Negative) Wilkinson’s dame line is non-existent on the derby chart. The line goes back to Damascus broodmare line and like Storm Cat has been refused access to the chart. (Negative) No chance of this colt winning the derby.

Prime Cut: Hate the name since some horses end up in slaughter houses. I am convinced that Storm Cat and his 100 Plus sons have been barred from the derby chart. Three of Northern Dancer’s grandsons have sired derby winners. (Boundary, Summer Squall and Polish Navy)  None of his great grandsons have come close. (Negative) Prime Cut’s dame line is represented on the derby chart. His dame sire Stravinsky is son of Nureyev who was dame sire of derby winner Big Brown. His second dame Round It off was sire by Apalachee a son of Round Table. Needless to say Round Table’s son Poker was dame sire of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. (Positive) I have given up on the Storm Cat arm of Northern Dancer producing a derby winner and consequently give this colt no chance of winning the derby in spite of his powerful dame line..

15 Dec 2010 12:00 AM
Ted from LA


Since we are obviously dying a slow death here this time of year (and you killed my farmer jokes plan), can we have a, "What would you name your next racehorse?" contest?  I'll start.  Secretary It. 

15 Dec 2010 1:36 AM

Coldfacts: Love your info, and appreciate that you're more considerate of AP Indy this year.  But one thing in your posts is driving the editor in me to distraction.  Foals' moms are DAMS, not dames! Betty Grable was a dame, Myra Hess was a Dame, but Azeri is a Dam, as was Terlingua.  Sorry...I just couldn't restrain myself any longer.  Luv ya anyway!

I still think May is simply too far away to back any one colt.  So many things happen in the next 5 months.  Last year, a different colt was winning each prep, and by April, we were still very confused about a leader.  With so much talent just beginning to blossom, I fear we may have the same situation in the 2011 preps.

15 Dec 2010 8:24 AM


Thank You for bringing these two horses to my attention. Nice jobs by both horses. I wish the connections luck with them on the Kentucky Derby Trail! I agree with what Coldfacts wrote,although I still hold out hope that a horse with Storm Cat blood or Damascus in the broodmare line proves an exception to the historical pattern and wins the Derby! However, I have also noted that mostly horses with classy names win the Kentucky Derby. So, I give Wilkinson more hope of winning the Derby than Prime Cut. I am bothered by names like Prime Cut and Gourmet Dinner(a horse that has run in New York). I can only hope these names are bestowed with a sincere intention to make a strong anti-slaughter statement intended to shock people into saving thoroughbreds from slaughter. The alternative reasoning would seem to indicate a deplorable sense of humor in light of what fate awaits many horses.

15 Dec 2010 9:17 AM


Thanks for the info.   Very helpful.  Keep them coming.

15 Dec 2010 9:39 AM
Bombs away

Ted-  watch out for those tomatoes.Exit stage left.

15 Dec 2010 10:42 AM
Pedigree Ann

Coldfacts, nothing happens until it happens. No colt out of a Heliopolis mare had won the Derby, until Riva Ridge did it. No male line descendant of Prince Rose had won it, until Canonero did.  No male-line descendant of Man o' War had won the BC Classic, until Tiznow did it. Such facts as you present are historical and as such only mildly predicative of the future.

Lemon Drop Kid was not just a  Belmont winner; he won the Champagne at 2, the Travers at 3, and was champion older horse at 4. A high-class animal, capable at many distances. Birdstone had a similar CV (Champagne, Belmont, Travers) at the end of his 3yo season. Neither was a one-paced stayer or the survivor of a stagger-fest in their Belmonts.

15 Dec 2010 11:33 AM

Nice read on this very cold morning!  I am bumming is this Lemon Drop Kid colt goes out and wins the Derby.  Just last week, I opted not to breed my mare to LDK, but to Street Sense.  

15 Dec 2010 12:11 PM


Hey Slw.  I looked in my pocket this morning and guess what I ffound.  A DIME.

15 Dec 2010 12:20 PM
Bombs away

Lazmannick--  your punt got blocked and you've been waived.

15 Dec 2010 1:01 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  I have no doubt that you made the right choice. Steet Sense, wow.

15 Dec 2010 1:03 PM

Any thoughts on Turbulent Descent or Hailey D’oro or possibly Royal Delta, the 2 year old fillies about to turn 3 look amazing, and big time props to the connections of Turbulent Descent who state she will travel.  I hope they bring her to Arkansas to prep at oaklawn the best 3 year old series male or female in the Country.  

15 Dec 2010 1:25 PM

Dr Drunkinbum,

I hope your right.  Street Sense did check off all the boxes.  Looking forward to watching his two yr olds hit the track.

15 Dec 2010 2:15 PM

Laz...well I guess I had my two cents in there, but that's inflation for you.  Dam, dame, dime,...I guess if we put it on a long shot, we could make some money under the dome.

15 Dec 2010 2:32 PM

not impress at all.

15 Dec 2010 3:14 PM

Aside from the focus I will put on every single Tiznow 2YO Maiden winner and stakes winner leading up to the Triple Crown my focus is on three other Winstar Boys.

Cal Nation- 1/2 brother to Bluegrass Cat has broke his maiden and was looking really good doing it.

Heisman- Full brother to Any Given Saturday looks to be the real deal!

Bretheren- 1/2 brother to Super Saver who has definitely shown the same precosity at 2 that his brother did!

Can't wait for the Triple Crown Season to really kick into gear!

15 Dec 2010 3:42 PM


 I know I could find it myself but I'm too lazy. Did Street Sense and LDK have the same fee?

15 Dec 2010 3:50 PM


5K more for Street Sense.  

15 Dec 2010 4:10 PM
Matthew W

LOVE Neil Howard--an aside: anyone know why Cho's nice 2yold Premier Pegasus not going in Cash Call? I'm out of the loop anymore....

15 Dec 2010 4:15 PM
Matthew W

Lookin At Lucky the first horse asince Bid to win Eclipse for two/three yesr old--in this economy, anyone wonder why they retired him? Does it have anything to do with possibly getting a deal put together for Del Mar? Soundness? He wasn't as good as Blame/Big Z but they're gone, the stage was set for 2011, then they pulled the plug, for what? Why?

15 Dec 2010 4:19 PM
Matthew W

If they have a dry track this May, it will take an exceptional horse to beat MoMo--only one thing can beat him: the tenth furlong! Being by Indian Charlie, there's certainly a chance he'll just not be able to get it--his running style, head low/natural speed, makes him look, at least to me, formidable! I'm usually looking all over for a sleeper--this year I think we have a horse that will put them all to sleep!

15 Dec 2010 4:24 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   I am too. Same with Hard Spun. Been waiting for their 2yo since they retired. You did good.

15 Dec 2010 5:47 PM

I love the naysayer of a horse that has distance limitations.  Given the right trip, his ability to break the gates, rate off the speed, stay out of trouble and finish races, it seems to me that those that discount Uncle Mo will need not worry about the 10th furlong, but the 12th furlong in the Belmont that might nab his ability.  The 10 furlongs for a patient horse who relaxes with the correct preparation is not an issue (refer to Raven’s Pass and Henrythenavigator 2008 BC).  I get a kick out of those that say a horse is a miler or a sprinter; because you know what every horse is a sprinter or a miler at some point because they all want to run as fast as possible usually.  Its patient handling and correct conditioning that allows them to stretch the speed out over a longer route of ground. Yes there are validated 10f sires and 12f sires and sires that are well known for sprinters and milers, but every horse with the right ride and trip can get 10 furlongs.  Mo’s dosage is 2.20, Smarty Jones – 3.4, Curlin’s was 3.00, Cloudy Night 3.0, A P Indy 2.54, Bernardini 3.19 Roses in May 3.0 Cigar 2.33 Birdstone 3.0 Summer Bird 2.56.  The majority of the horses on this list are 10f Route runners who relished 10 panels, some 12 panels.

Example to note is Smarty Jones, do you think his pedigree got him beat in the Belmont.  No it was his rider and the inability to relax Smarty off the pace pressure put on by the classless riders in that race. Here is the summation of that race: Purge to the front,  Rock Hard Ten and Smarty pressing, when did Rock Hard Ten ever press in a race. 1st ¼  24.33 ½ in 48.65. Purge drops, Smarty to the lead. RHT continued to threaten as Smarty Jones went 6 furlongs in 1:11.76 (should have been 1:12.65), a mile in 1:35.44 (should have been 1:36.65, and 10 furlongs in 2:00.52.  The split for the 10f is all you need to know as he ran the 10f in this 12f race faster then 98 out of 100 10f races.  

So continue to hate on Uncle Mo if you want to, he has done nothing but run brilliantly, we’ve not used that word since well 2009.

15 Dec 2010 6:01 PM


It's easy to say since it's your money, but I would have done the same thing. SS might throw some some studs the next two years and that 5k might look like peanuts!! Hope it happens and good luck to you and your future runner.

15 Dec 2010 6:09 PM
Matthew W

Snow Chief ran fast early in the Hollywood Futurity, then drew out in the stretch--a tour'd'force--he romps in the El Camino Real, up North, then goes back, to Florida, where he's six in front at the 1/16 pole and wins geared down...easy Santa Anita Derby...goes into the Kentucky Derby 8-5 in a big field, that's a heavy favorite, and rightly so....but there was that White Elephant in the room: his lack of stamina in his forward to '11....Uncle Mo, by Indian Charlie/In Excess speed breeding, and you see Snow Chief, who was a heckuva horse--he wasn't a Derby Winner!

15 Dec 2010 6:49 PM


getting the right ride and the right trip the first Saturday in May is the big trick.

15 Dec 2010 7:06 PM

Matthew W:  Coolmore gave them an offer they couldn't refuse.  Sold out for the stallion big bucks.

Pedigree Ann:  nothing happens until it happens. This also applies to Bold Ruler - noone thought he would sire a Derby/Belmont winner like Secretariat.

15 Dec 2010 7:08 PM


Thanks!  Keeping the fingers crossed that she throws a nice Rock Hard Ten and gets back in foal on the first cover!

15 Dec 2010 7:28 PM
John T

Since this is a slow time Jason it might be a good time to mention

the final foal of Urban Sea.She herself was good enough to win the Arc and two of her son,s Galileo

and Sea The Stars won the Epsom Derby among other important races.

And Galileo has went on to be a very sucessful sire among his offspring is the much talked about European 2 year old Champion Frankel.Urban Sea,s very last foal

will be a 2 year old in 2011 and he is by Invincible Spirit and has

been called Born To Sea.Like his

top class half-brother Sea The Stars he will be trained in Ireland by John Oxx.

15 Dec 2010 10:15 PM

Pedigree Ann,

I am in agreement with you in every respect. However, my skepticism should be understood. In the last 50 year a grand total of three Belmont winners have sired derby winners. The last one was in 2009. The rate of Derby success for this group is far too low for one not to use this fact as an elimination criterion. As for broodmare lines, I would automatically eliminate the contender from lines that have been barred from derby success. I used the term barred because there is no other explanation why a combined 1000 plus broodmares sire by Secretariat, Mr. Prospector, Storm Cat, A P Indy have produced only one derby winner. I am still convinced Super Saver won by default.  The possibility of Wilkinson winning the derby is extremely remote. There are just too many historic hurdles

You are clearly a fan of Lemon Drop Kid. Kindly accept my apology for not posting the other parts of his impressive résumé. If my records are correct he was is only winner of a TC race produced from a Seattle Slew broodmare.


My enormous love affair with women and equines was bound to clash some day. It appears it has occurred with my use of the word Dame for a female horse as opposed to Dam. It’s not the first time I have gotten into trouble. I recall once telling a close female friend that she slipped the foal. I am aware of the distinction as depicted below in three unedited extracts from one of my posts on Jason previous Blog. You will note word Dam appears in the first and second statement. The words Dame and Dam are use in consecutive sentences. Go figure. Post Date (13 Dec 2010 2:21 AM)

“Crossbow: His dam line is none existent on the Triple Crown chart. His dam has too much graded earnings and does not fit the derby broodmare profile. No chance”

“Dialed In: His dam was acquired for $1.3m. No Storm Cat mare fetching that price will ever produce a derby winner. No Chance of this colt winning”

Queen'splatekitten: Dame Sire was a BCC winner. The dam sire of the 2010 derby winner was a BCC winner. It will not occur in consecutive years. Of all the BCC winners to date only one has been associated with the broodmare of a derby winner. No Chance of this colt winning

You must forgive as English is not my first language and I have lot of catching up to do. I must also stop posting when I should be asleep

15 Dec 2010 11:58 PM
Matthew W

Skyfire but why did Pegram sell out for the big bucks? Was it because he needed the capital? Weird, for a swashbuckling owner/trainer combo, in SoCal where they're running the Strub Series/Big Cap on a  superb dirt surface--weird, that they call it a career...

16 Dec 2010 2:15 AM

Coldfacts: For someone whose second language is English, you are more well-spoken than most for whom it is a 1st language.  All is forgiven.  It's just that the first ladies of the track resent being called "dames".  Azeri said so ;)  and now she's brooding in Japan.

I believe if a sire can produce a winner in any TC race, he's eligible to be considered a possible sire of a KD winner.  Seattle Slew had Swale and AP Indy. Ap Indy had Bernardini, Rags To Riches, and Sired the dam of Super Saver.  In 2010, most of the contenders were from the blood of Mr. Prospector or AP Indy or both.  That alone speaks volumes to me about their odds of a winner.

AAF: I don't think anyone is "hating on" Uncle Mo.  I believe everyone is highly impressed.  But I also believe that most folks are simply wary of picking him this far out from the Derby.  We still have visions of the late scratch of I Want Revenge, the early retirement of Eskendereya, etc..etc.  Uncle Mo and To Honor and Serve have been the most impressive 2 year olds this year, along with Pluck (who runs on grass).

And to others who doubt Uncle Mo's ability to get the distance, the exact same doubts were expressed in 1973 about Secretariat.  We never know.

16 Dec 2010 10:04 AM

I've been re-assessing Uncle mo's pedigree and thinking that he's not as short on his sire's line as it appeared.  Indian Charlie, his sire and In Excess, his grand sire could both stretch out although nine furlongs was just about their limit in top company.  So far Indian Charlie has not displayed, to my memory, any stamina-inhibitig effect on stamina-laiden broodmares that he's covered (like Storm Cat often did).  therefore "Mo" seems to be in good shape pedigree-wise.  The distance limitation question arises because of In Excess' dam line via broodmare sire Sing Sing, one that was an undefeated champion 2YO in England winning all 6 starts but in 5 Furlongs sprints.  He never won beyond that distance.  It explains why In Excess throws mostly sprinters, suggesting a dominant sprinting factor is present. This has not shown up as much in Indian Charlie's progenies.  

However, on his dam's side Uncle Mo does not lack stamina influences or Kentucky derby-winner-producing influences within the first 5 generations.  Present are 5x4 inbreeding to Northern Dancer, Dixieland Band, Roberto, Danzig and Alydar.  He's looking better and better to me.  It is going to be a long winter/spring season for "Uncle Mo detractor" Coldfacts.  Subject to him training-on at 3, I'm entertaining thoughts of a triple crown romp here (and sweet redemtion for last year's disappointment with the brilliant 'Esky') ...but don't worry, perculation has only just begun ...still warming up very slowly and feeling good.    

16 Dec 2010 2:25 PM
Karen in Texas

Not sure it's pertinent to this particular blog thread, but as Ranagulzion pointed out at 2:25P.M., Uncle Mo may well be able to "stretch out" a bit. Indian Charlie's daughter, Fleet Indian, easily won the 2006 Personal Ensign at 10 furlongs if I remember correctly. She did well at a variety of distances before breaking down in the BC Distaff.

16 Dec 2010 7:16 PM

Karen in Texas- but that was as a 5 yr old, I believe.  I'm not sure you can compare.  I think it is 50/50 whether he will get 10 furlongs in May.  Remember he may not progress at all and many horses may progress by leaps and bounds.  It's just a wait and see thing.  But as skyfire said many people didn't think a Bold Ruler foal could get 10 furlongs in May, let alone set a world record for 12 furlongs.

16 Dec 2010 11:56 PM
Karen in Texas

Footlick--- Oh, of course it's all just speculation right now. Ranagulzion's post served to jog my memory--that's all. To me this stuff is so much more fun to talk about than the previous bickering!

17 Dec 2010 12:10 PM

Karen in Texas- much more enjoyable!

17 Dec 2010 1:46 PM
Pedigree Ann

Two races, two months between races, will not prepare ANY horse for the Kentucky Derby, much less one whose pedigree is iffy for distances beyond a mile. BAT's sire has yet to sire a decent horse at beyond 1 1/16. His dam had a Travers-winning sire and was able to win at 8-8.5f, but the female family is heavily sprinter/miler sorts, like his second dam Valid Bonnet. Have to go back to the 5th dam to find one who produced a classic-type horse in Francie's Hat, who was moved up to second in the KyD when Dancer's Image was disqualified.

I thought Peace Rules could go 10f, so don't say EVERYONE thought otherwise. His sire had been represented by 10f and 12f classic types in Brazil the winter (South American summer) before his Derby, so those who had been paying attention knew what was what. Some sprinters can sire classic horses, viz. Oasis Dream.

Snow Chief was NOT bred for speed only. His sire's stakes wins were the Flamingo and its prep the Everglades, both at Hialeah and both at 9f. For you youngsters, in that day, Hialeah was THE SoFla track and the Flamingo THE major Derby prep there. Snow Chief's damsire, the South American Snow Sporting, won Gulfstream Park H (10f) when he was really only 3 (but 4 by North American rules) and twice placed in the Pan American H (Hialeah's big 12f turf race); no lack of stamina in a horse bred on the potent Snow Cat-Claro cross.

17 Dec 2010 2:06 PM

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