Sheppard Hoping to be Ever So Lucky

Jonathan Sheppard is one of the best trainers horse racing has ever known, but his name is certainly not synonymous with the Kentucky Derby. Though the Hall of Famer has had a couple of his protégé saddle Derby winners--Barclay Tagg with Funny Cide in 2003 and Graham Motion with Animal Kingdom last year--he himself has never even had a runner make the starting gate. And that is not by accident.

The 71-year-old Englishman is also a member of the steeplechase Hall of Fame and is one of only two trainers to handle both flat and steeplechase champions since the Eclipse Awards began in 1971. Best known for his distance turf runners, Sheppard has trained nine horses to 13 Eclipse titles. The two most recent were Forever Together and Informed Decision, who were also both Breeders' Cup winners.

So for Sheppard to even to utter the words "Derby prep " is a bit foreign sounding to everyone, even Sheppard himself. But as they say, if you have the horse let him take you there, and that is exactly what Sheppard is hoping for with Ever So Lucky, who will make his 3-year-old debut Feb. 11 in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.

Ever So Lucky was purchased by Sheppard's main client, George Strawbridge Jr., for $600,000 out of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale last May. Bred in Kentucky by Jerry Jamgotchian, he is by Indian Charlie, out of the Summer Squall mare Bally Storm. Pedigree-wise, Sheppard is the first to admit that Ever So Lucky will be challenged to get classic distances, even though his dam side has some stamina to it. And he isn't even ready to say the bay colt is on the Derby Trail just yet. But for him to even consider races like the Hutcheson and the Florida Derby says a lot about the horse's talent.

"We're obviously not going to rush this horse along to make the Triple Crown races, especially if we hit a bump in the road, but the Derby is a prestigious race and it's certainly a race I'd like to be part of," Sheppard said. "It's something I haven't done before and would be cool to do. I've been part of all three Triple Crowns with the undercard races so many times that I know the scene pretty well. I enjoy it and have a fairly good idea of what it's all about.

"With Graham and Barclay having won the Derby, maybe they have put the pressure on me."

That last line was undoubtedly a joke, as Sheppard is one of the most patient trainers around. Ever So Lucky just happened to be an early-bloomer--as many Indian Charlies are--and has so much natural speed. He broke his maiden on the front end Nov. 11 in his debut at Churchill Downs, scoring by 3 1/4 lengths going 6 1/2 furlongs (video). A little more than two weeks later he finished a game second to the undefeated Gemologist in the grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes over the same track (video). He was ridden by Julien Leparoux both times.

After his juvenile season was over, Sheppard took him to the famed Camden Training Center in South Carolina where he had three easy breezes, and last week shipped him to South Florida. On Monday, he had his first work at Gulfstream Park, clocking a bullet :59 1/5 for five furlongs. Leparoux, who was aboard once again, was especially impressed by how easily the horse rated behind his workmate. Sheppard said it was a good fitness work, and is excited to see him start back in the seven-furlong Hutcheson. He doesn't want to get too ahead of himself until seeing that race, but has a tentative plan in the works should Ever So Lucky prove he deserves a chance on the Triple Crown trail.

"I'd rather not empty the horse out by not asking too much too soon," Sheppard said. "I don't think he needs a series of long races; he's either going to get the trip or he's not. I think if you race him too long too early in the year I think it could take away from him. The Fountain of Youth comes back a little quick. The Florida Derby is six weeks (from the Hutcheson), so that would be something to consider. We also like Keeneland a lot. I know it's a synthetic surface, but he has already run well at Churchill Downs, so it's not like he has to get accustomed to that surface. So the Blue Grass Stakes might also be an option.

"I do have some (distance) reservations in my mind, but the two things that give me hope that he might be able to go a mile and quarter are that he is willing to respond to what his rider tells him to do--even though he has a whole lot of speed--and he just has a ton of natural ability. So he might be good enough to carry his stamina a little further.

"As they say, the single most important ingredient is speed. I don't care how many miles they can stay. They have to be quicker than the field at some point in the race--and he definitely has speed."

Though Ever So Lucky has shown talent at every point in his career, Sheppard said it's his intangibles that separate him from other good, young horses he's had before.

"He was picked out of the sale by Patty Miler of EQB," Sheppard recalled. "George Strawbridge called me the day before and said he was extremely high on him and wanted my opinion. So the morning of the sale I went down there. When I saw him I knew what we were getting. I had a long chat with Becky Thomas, who was selling him. I've known her for a long time and she gave me confidence. Everything added up.

"We assumed he was (precocious) because of the Indian Charlie, and his fast work; I think he went :10 and 1 or something. But he didn't look like a one-dimension speedball ,and he still doesn't. He's one that wouldn't look out of place in the paddock at Royal Ascot. He's very high quality, and is a lovely, deep, almost heavenly colored dark bay. He has a lot of presence; a very intelligence look in his eye. He doesn't let anything bother him, which is the ideal temperament for something like Churchill on Derby Day."

If the horse takes them there.

"As much as we'd like to have a contender, we're not going to get bent out of shape about it," Sheppard said. "The world will keep going around whether we get to the Derby or not."


Leave a Comment:



Do you know whether the Preakness 5.5 bonus program was just for 2011 or whether it is going to be an annual incentive?  Let me know.  Thanks.

31 Jan 2012 2:43 PM
Bob from Boston

This will be an interesting horse to watch develop over the next few months.  The trainer seems like a good man.  Good things come to good people.  Look at The Donald for example.

31 Jan 2012 3:03 PM
Jason Shandler

Snow: They did away with the Preakness 5.5. It was a one-year experiment, and it failed.

31 Jan 2012 3:06 PM
El Kabong


Nice work. I love this time of year and it's because of articles like this one make you feel like your having breakfast on the backside overhearing a great conversation from a table one over.  Really gets the smell of mint and  bourbon in the air. I watched his 6.5 maiden win and he looks like a very relaxed and confident horse. The guy behind him in the run out, Golden Ticket ran very well to finish second and he ran out with Ever So Lucky. May be a good play next out if he's not 8-5.  

31 Jan 2012 3:58 PM

Nice article Jason. Sheppard is the type of trainer that I bet on. I dont look at odds. Don't look at pedigree. I see his name as the trainer, and know his horse has a chance. He picks the right spots, has his horses fit, and usually they fire. Do you win them all, of course not, but I know I have as good a chance of any other horse in the race when he's saddling them! And the owner, Strawbridge, is a class act also. Good luck to this horse and the connections.

31 Jan 2012 5:01 PM

Holy Bull Stakes:

Algorithms is clearly going to be the new buzz horse on the Triple Crown trail, not surprising given he just dusted the 2 year old champ.  And maybe more impressive than the margin which Algorithms beat Hansen was the way he did it.  

Algorithms settled beautifully off Hansen's legit pace, accelerated smoothly on the turn to engage that rival, and then absolutely blew Hansen's doors off in the stretch.  Most impressive for me was the brilliance Algorithms displayed accelerating on cue and then just running by the 2 year old champ; unlike Union Rags, Algorithms didn't give Hansen any chance to fight back.

Now for some perspective.  Because Algorithms blew away the 2 year old champ, his performance is likely to be a little overrated.  Don't get me wrong, Algorithms ran huge and looked absolutely special doing so.  But make no mistake, Hansen did not run a quality race.  

One of the reasons why Algorithms looked so awesome in blowing by Hansen is that Hansen was really slowing down.  After running 6 furlongs in 1:10 and 1, Hansen took almost 27 seconds to negotiate the final quarter(Hansen finished his mile in about 1:37); so there was somehwat of an optical illusion to the visual of Algorithms' stretch run.  And, as mentioned, the final time of 1:36 was just a tick off the mile split of El Padrino's allowance race, and that one was still able to throw down a 6 and 2 final sixteenth.  So, I would expect a Beyer of 96-100 for Algorithms, solid but not a superstar fig.

On the more positive side, while the overall final quarter for the Holy Bull was on the slower side, Algorithms' own personal final quarter was a more respectable 25 and 2.  Of course, it wasn't like Algorithms was being ridden all out, so one would have to think he could have run even faster.  

By Bernadini out of a Cryptoclearance mare, Algorithms' pedigree suggests classic distances should be no problem, although it's weird that his half siblings have been better at sprints and middle distances.

As for Hansen, I just don't see how one can put a real positive spin on his performance.  Yes, Hansen stumbled, yes he was racing over a sloppy sealed track for the first time, and yes he was running over a new track while making his first start in almost 3 months.  However, he was able to set an absolutely uncontested pace, running solid but not spectacular fractions.  It was clear on the far turn that Hansen was in deep water as Dominguez was already scrubbing hard while Algorithms was moving effortlessly up to him.  

But most disconcerting was that Hansen did not demonstrate anything close to the fight that had made him a champion on Breeder's Cup day.  I was hoping Hansen would stick to Algorithms for a while, but Algorithms got up to Hansen and then went right on by him in a blink of an eye.

Fans of Hansen are undoubtedly going to suggest the colt will improve off this effort, and there are many reasons why one should expect this.  And certainly, one should not dismiss Hansen as a Triple Crown contender off just one subpar performance.  But the troubling aspect is that even should Hansen run better in his next race, do you see him running good enough to beat Algorithms?  

One race is certainly an insufficient sample, but Algorithms simply looked like the superior horse in the Holy Bull.  How is Hansen going to make up 5 lengths on a horse that should also continue improving in his next races, especially as the distances get longer?  

I realize that Hansen has a pedigree that suggests classic distances are within the realm of the possible, but Hansen sure didn't look like a horse that wants 10 furlongs in the stretch of the Holy Bull.  For those more dubious of Hansen's distance capabilities after just barely holding on to beat the weaving Union Rags, the Holy Bull is only going to exacerbate these doubts.

31 Jan 2012 5:38 PM

Forward Gal:

Now for a few sentences on the horse that turned in the performance of the day, Broadway's Alibi.  Although Rachel Alexandra desensitized us from huge winning margins, it's actually very uncommon for horses to win graded stakes by more than 15 lengths.  So, when a horse like Broadway's Alibi wins a grade 2 like the Forward Gal by over 16 lengths, one simply cannot discount the performance by merely pointing out the supposed mediocrity of the field.  

Maybe Broadway's Alibi didn't beat the greatest grade 2 field ever assembled, but her half mile of 44 and 4, her 6 furlong split of 109 flat, and final time of 121 and 4 are evidence of a big performance.  That 6 furlong split is 2/5ths faster than the final time older males ran yesterday in the Sunshine Millions Sprint, and just a tick off It's Me Mom's 102 Beyer effort yesterday in the Sunshine Millions Filly/Mare Sprint.  So, I would expect around a 102 Beyer for Broadway's Alibi, a filly that has now won her last 3 starts by almost 30 combined lengths.  

Broadway Alibi's pedigree, being by Vindication out of a Seeking the Gold mare, offers promise that she should be able to stretch out to at least 8 or 8.5 furlongs and very possibly to 9 furlongs(the classic distance for females in this country).  

Anyone interested in seeing Broadway's Alibi and Reneesgotzip hook up at 7 furlongs or a mile?

31 Jan 2012 5:40 PM

What's interesting about Indian Charlie is that he's known as a speed/miler sire(and a negative influence for classic stamina), even though his own race record suggests he was grade 1 caliber up to 10 furlongs.

Indian Charlie was definitely fine up to 9 furlongs, as he won the Santa Anita Derby in 1:47(a 111 or 112 Beyer) with a final eigth in 12 and 2 as he comfortably kept two future champions(Real Quiet and Artax) at bay.  

Indian Charlie was a kind rater, and won races not by trying to spread eagle fields but by rationing his speed for an explosive move around the turn that would blow races open.  In the Kentucky Derby, with it's typically wild pace, Indian Charlie was able to sit back in 4th and made a nice move around the turn to hit the front and then sustained that run well until the final 16th.  Getting a little tired after running 9.5 furlongs up near a fast and contentious pace is nothing to be ashamed of.

Had Indian Charlie stayed sound, he would have had a huge shot to beat his stablemate, Real Quiet, in the Preakness.  Not only would the shorter distance have favored Indian Charlie, but the pace scenario(with fewer horse) of the Preakness would have been better for him than it had been in the Derby(6 furlongs in 1:11 compared to the 1:10 and change fraction for the Derby).

Leading up to the Kentucky Derby, Baffert made it clear Indian Charlie was the superior talent when comparing him to Real Quiet; for Baffert, Real Quiet was the fish, a plucky overachiever while,  Indian Charlie was the potential superstar.  Not only had Indian Charlie handled Real Quiet comfortably in the Santa Anita Derby, he also spanked eventual Preakness 3rd place runner, Classic Cat, in both that race and an allowance.  

Just because Indian Charlie tired in the Derby doesn't mean he could not have won at 10 furlongs.  The Derby is arguably the toughest race for speedy types given the presence of so much other speed.  Give Indian Charlie a a 7 horse field over a glib surface and I do believe he could have won a grade 1 race at 10 furlongs.

Regardless of Indian Charlie's own stamina, one cannot argue that his most high profile offspring have had difficulty stretching out to classic distances.

Ever So Lucky, although very similar to his father in that he has speed but rates kindly, appears at first glance to be yet another Indian Charlie that might find 10 furlongs a bridge too far.  In the stretch of the Kentucky Jockey Club, Ever So Lucky was simply out-stayed by Gemologist over a Churchill track that was much kinder to front runners than it had been for the Breeder's Cup.  The stretch run of the KJC doesn't insprie confidence that Lucky' will be able to turn the tables on Gemologist as the distances get longer.

However, one has to acknowledge that Gemologist got a better trip than Lucky in the KJC.  Lucky was harassed by a longshot through the far turn; racing on the inside, Lucky responded to this challenge by allowing Leparoux to take him back a little behind that horse before pouncing at the top of the stretch.  Then, through the stretch, Lucky was near the rail and had to suffer the part of the target. Perhaps, the outcome would have been different if it was Gemologist who was trying to set the pace while being hounded on the inside and it was Lucky on the outside with a target to gun down?

31 Jan 2012 6:45 PM

Fantastic.  I think Charlie Whittingham won the Derby at 73 and then again at 76 proving good things come to those who wait.

Good Luck Mr. Sheppard.

31 Jan 2012 8:06 PM
Carlos in Cali

Mr.Sheppard is an astute trainer,he clearly knows what he's dealing with in regards to his Indian Charlie colt as he undoubtedly will not push this horse to do something he's not bred for... win at the Classic distance.


Although I had Hansen for the win because I felt he would outclass the field,he wasn't cranked for the Holy Bull and Algorithms had the recency edge on him coupled with a previous win over the track. Algorithms looks to be a good one and Bernardini certainly inputs stamina into his progeny but his siblings are all sprinter/milers.Much like Discreetly Mine(1/2 to the speedy Discreet Cat) by Mineshaft.Algorithms will most likely take after his siblings too,IMO.We'll see.

I was impressed with one of my "watch horses",El Padrino the most.The way he came after the classy, comebacking Take Charge Indy who wasn't slowing down.. that was a solid performance.


Here's a quote from your deity Pletcher: "We're holding a strong hand,but sometimes a strong hand in January doesn't mean a strong hand in May". I think you should also temper your enthusiasm,it's early times my friend.Has Pletcher turned the corner or will he continue to seemingly win most of the preps and have his charges over the top by the time they get to Kentucky?..  

31 Jan 2012 8:28 PM

Jason,  What's the word coming thru the rumor mill about the split up of Benjamin Leon and Todd Pletcher?   It's being reported that Mr. Leon has moved all his horses to Bill Mott and Chad Brown.    Whats the word, Jason?

31 Jan 2012 10:04 PM
Paula Higgins

I really enjoyed this blog Jason. Very interesting and I knew absolutely 0 about this trainer and horse. Mr. Sheppard sounds like a trainer's trainer. I wish him the best of luck. Clearly, he is overdue for a Derby win but if it doesn't happen, he will be o.k. He has his head glued on just right. Bob from Boston, The Donald is not a good example of anything except out of control hubris/egomania. I am just waiting for him to announce his plans to run for the Presidency.

31 Jan 2012 10:18 PM

Have always liked Mr Sheppard, having followed him in is steeplechase glory days.  As Billy said, a trainer who places his horses where they always have a chance.  And he has alot of class.  

31 Jan 2012 10:57 PM

beyer figs for ever so lucky?  really?

31 Jan 2012 11:19 PM
Jason Shandler

Pletcher only had four horses for Leon, none of any consequence. It's a non-story written by a guy that is always looking for a tabloid angle.

01 Feb 2012 12:11 AM
Forbidden Apple

It's always nice to see such a classy guy like Jonathan Sheppard in the news with a good horse. I thought Ever So Lucky fought on gamely in the KY Jockey Club and he certainly has plenty of room for improvement. I'll be waiting for his next start With Anticipation.

I thought Barry Irwin said it best when talking about Todd Pletcher as his former trainer, "I was tired of being lied to".

01 Feb 2012 9:52 AM

hey there gunbow,

i'm not really sure how indicative the holy bull (or any of the races on GP's sunday card) will prove to be tbh--track conditions where pretty sketchy on sunday (it was raining harder on one side of the track than the other, for instance, and it was windy).

but you're 100% right about the optical illusion of the holy bull finish.

looking at the trakus figures from the race, algorithms did not accelerate at all--he was consistently slowing down through out the race as well, but because he had run more reasonable fractions than hansen and because hansen hit the wall in the final furlong, he looked like he sped up to catch and pass hansen, but that is just not the case.

here's the trakus figures:

hansen ran 22.56, 21.91, 24.64, and closed in 26.81

algorithms ran 22.91, 22.22, 24.24, and closed in 25.72

in the holy bull, hansen ran faster in the first and second furlongs than he ever had in his life, the only other time he ran a sub 23, was the first furlong of his maiden win, and that furlong was almost in 23.

ramon didn't seem concerned in the race though tbh--he didn't even try to get hansen to settle--maybe because the the one turn mile at GP sets up more as a true sprint than a route?

anyway, the holy bull was a classic case of the speed falling a part, except that unlike most times when that happens, there was only one horse doing it to himself.

it was disappointing to be sure, but i don't think it was the distance that wore hansen out, it was the 22, 21.  

on the upside, hansen hasn't regressed and obviously came out of the juvenile in good shape (which was my real fear before the race; the BCJ has a tendency to permanently scar its winners).

he ran faster fractions than he ever had before, and galloped out well.

i'd be more impressed with algorithms if he truly had accelerated and closed to pass hansen, but just picking up the pieces of hansen's self-immolation  doesn't wow me as much as it seems to do for everyone else tbh =)

finally, hansen did dig in, but it wasn't until after he was initially passed--it was kind of like he was dazed, and then woke up. and he might have been, he's neve rhad a horse pass him before, maybe he didn't realize it was possible? =)

jason, do you have the trakus figures from the juvenile?

01 Feb 2012 11:25 AM
Don from PA/DE

I agree with those who sincerely appreciate JS, been watching him and his horses at Delaware Park for years, a true gentleman and a scholar +, have been following many of his horses and certainly took notice of "Ever So Lucky" since his impressive win at CD on 11/13/11...hope he can win again Don

01 Feb 2012 12:08 PM
Kyle S.


Nice article about Mr. Sheppard & Ever So Lucky.  I was wondering what your thoughts were on I horse that I believe has unbelievable upside and potential.  Baffert's, Fed Biz.

01 Feb 2012 2:24 PM

Gunbow we all watched the wrong Baffert horse that year.  The same connections held Indian Charlie's dam Soviet Sojourn who was a speedster that burned some money in her day.  I seem to recall Indian Charlie going into the Derby not only undefeated but perhaps the favorite.  I may be wrong about the last point.  Then out of nowhere Real Quiet comes within a nose of taking the Triple Crown.  

01 Feb 2012 2:45 PM
Bob from Boston

Oops.  Paula, I was joking in using The Donald as an example.  I have been blogging here since 1981 (first as Ted from LA... good lord I miss him... and later as Bob from Boston... I smell a Biff from Baltimore coming soon).  I have only made three serious comments in those 31 years.  I expect now that Mitt has been given secret service protection, The Donald will throw all his power and support to him and make him the nominee.  No offense, but it reminds me of how a certain blogger here handicaps horseraces.  And I will not (Draynay) name names. I am above (I repeat Draynay) that. Ted Bob out.

01 Feb 2012 2:58 PM

Gun Bow,

I like your Holy Bull post race analysis. Only, I think that Algorithim is a really good one, the best of Bernardini so far. After he blew past Hansen he merely cruised to the fininsh line with a lot in hand.  I look forward to the match-up with him and Union Rags.  Hansen isn't to be written off however as his trainer is quite astute and would not have had him fully cranked for his pipe-opener.

Ever So Lucky isn't a Derby type based upon his Kentucky Cup performance but he could turn out to be a classy miler.


You misread my regard for Pletcher. He's no diety in my view but he's an excellent professional in his field and his record in the Derby preps is to be respected.  His stable is loaded this year and only Union Rags stands in his way of winning the Derby, even from this far out I'll say that. Discreet Dancer, Algorithim, Spring Hill Farm, El Padrino and Gemologist are a pretty formidable group.  He might even be tempted to throw the filly Broadway Alibi into the mix; she looks to be an extraordinary one.

01 Feb 2012 3:11 PM

Forbidden Apple,

Sorry to bust your bubble, but when Irwin was asked who lied to him he said Pletcher was NOT one of the trainers he was refering to. You guys can keep on hating on Pletcher and I'll keep on cashing tickets.

01 Feb 2012 3:16 PM
Forbidden Apple

Ever So Lucky lost by about one length in the KY Jockey Club and fought on gamely to the wire. Broadway Alibi wins a 7f race against fillies and she could be a KY Derby horse? This love of everything Pletcher is unbelievable. Ever So Lucky was making only his second career start in the KY Jockey Club, yet he is not a KY Derby horse. What? Also, Pletcher will have many more horses than Union Rags to worry about.

I remember watching the interview with Irwin, and he was responding to a question about why Animal Kingdom had a new trainer. Maybe later he went back and tried to sugar coat his original statement. Either way, his horses are in much better hands now and winning plenty of races.

01 Feb 2012 7:52 PM
Jason Shandler

Yeah Mike, it was a tough loss for Todd. He lost four bad horses from Leon, including a $4.2 million 3yo bust that might never make the races. That same week he won three Triple Crown preps. lol. Get a clue.

01 Feb 2012 8:05 PM
Paula Higgins

Whew, thank goodness Ted/Bob/Biff you cleared that up. For a minute I was getting worried. Not to worry though, the only person The Donald ever supports is himself. I am waiting for him to fire Ivanka, his daughter, from The Apprentice, a show I do NOT watch and never will.

About Barry Irwin's comment: he shouldn't have made it regardless of who he was talking about. I understood his frustration, but it was totally unnecessary.

Gunbow,interesting thoughts on Broadway's Alibi. Another horse to look forward to this year.

01 Feb 2012 9:03 PM

Looking forward to seeing Pletcher's face after his 5 or 6 trainees finish up the track in the race that counts, the Kentucky Derby. Anyone can win Derby preps, it takes a real horseman to master the Derby. Pletcher's 1 for 29 record in the Derby is abysmal, especially for a trainer who gets all the top 2 year olds every year.

01 Feb 2012 9:23 PM

Forbidden Apple,

 Sorry, but maybe doesn't cut it with me.

"I've got the highest respect for Pletcher, I think he's the smartest guy in the horse business, and we have had nothing but success together. I like Wayne Catalano. Those aren't the guys I had in mind." Barry Irwin when asked about his post Derby comments concerning trainers that lied to him. Keep on bashing Pletcher all you want but you need to stick to the facts.

01 Feb 2012 9:59 PM

Forbidden Apple,

Ever so Lucky's pedigree and performance todate indicates that this colt will not be competitive at the Derby distance, in terms of winning the race, but he could be a pace factor.

That filly looks like something special.  It may be a premature judgment but I dont think so. Pletcher suggested that her next start could be against the colts in the Hutcheson ...lets wait and see.

01 Feb 2012 10:00 PM
El Kabong

Bob from Boston,

Why not Harry the Hat. Cheers! A swindle worth the fall. By the way, yur fieurd!

01 Feb 2012 10:20 PM

Who picked out those four bad horses, including the $4.2 million, 3yo bust, for Leon?

01 Feb 2012 10:28 PM
Baby Jane Towser

If I am lucky enough to own a thoroughbred racehorse Jonathan Sheppard would be my first choice for a trainer. I still think about what might have been with him and Storm Cat.

01 Feb 2012 10:46 PM

Below are extracts from a post I made prior to the Holy Bull:

The Holy Bull is an interesting race. Hansen will be the overwhelming favorite. I would not wager a dollar on him. Now do not get me wrong, he is a very talented colt. However, there is something that has troubled me ever since reading that he bit his tongue badly during the BCJ. What caused this? Was it the enormouse  pressure he was under? What the supporters of Hansen have failed to recognize is the fact that he exited what was basically an allowance race to defeat two of the top colts in the US. He was fully extended to hold off Union Rags running on the most tiring section of the track. This type of performance though impressive can adversely affect a young horse. Was Hansen damage by his all out effort in the BCJ? If I had had to advance and answer I would lean towards probably. Of course this could be yet another of my wild theories. I hope this race did not have an adverse impact on the colt and my concerns are proven unfounded.

I prefer the other Bernardini colt Algorithms. I am not a Todd Pletcher fan but this colt has one major pedigree advantage over all in the field. His dam sire Cryptoclearance is a broodmare sire of 33 stakes horse. The influence of Fappiano as a grand dam sire is very powerful and has been highlighted by Mr. Haskin. Quiet American a son of Fappiano was dam sire of Bernardini (Preakness) and Saint Liam ( Breeder Cup Classic). Unbridled another son was dam sire Tapit (Wood Memorial) and Shackleford (Preakness). Yet another son Defensive play was dam sire of the 2007 Melbourne Cup winner Efficient. Cryptoclearance leads all of Fappiano’s sons in the Broodmare sire department. Algorithms is a May foal and is already running 61/2F in 1:15 and change. I am not overly impressed with his stride pattern and this could be due to his conformation. His sale price of $170K is surprising low for his pedigree. He probably was not a good mover in the sale ring.  This colt’s pedigree makes him very special. If he does not become a victim of his barn’s powerful cocktails he should be very dangerous on the Triple Crown trail. I think he is the colt to beat in the Holy Bull. That said, I have no luck with Todd P.

It appears Hansen’s BCJ performance has set him back as I feared it would. It was a tough race and he might not have been ready for such an effort.His prospect of being an effective Derby horse is very remote. As for Algorithms he ran as I expected. The big question is will be around come Derby time and will he do disappearing act like so many members of Mr. Pletcher’s  yearly squad?

01 Feb 2012 11:27 PM

Pletcher doesnt need more owners, or horses....he is the best. pure class! wins with class, loses with class. are a contrarian! and 2 yr old fillies mature faster.....they are as fast as the end of the 2 yr old season, the colts start getting faster...what im saying is, they just turned 3....colts only a little faster.....tell us a better trainer instead of complaining.....and tell us your top horses.......cant wait to hear this one........

02 Feb 2012 12:36 AM

Last year a blog dedicated to the 2010 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes winner and his connections. I was surprised that a blog was dedicated to Santiva a colt who completed the KJC Stakes in a pedestrian 1:45.31. I indicated in my post that Santiva and those who finished behind him had absolutely no chance of making the Derby board as they were too slow by Derby standards. History will reflect that neither Santiva nor runner up Astrology have won a race since the KJC Stakes.

Gemologist won the 2011 KJC Stakes in a pedestrian 1:44.46. Ever So Lucky was the runner up. Based on my observation of Gemologist’s action, it appeared he was not right on his front left. Ever So Lucky could not defeat a horse that was showing some signs of lameness and he is being considered as a Derby prospect. Super Saver won the 2009 KJC Stakes in 1:42.83 and was very lucky to win the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Using Super Saver’s winning time as a measure, what is the prospect of Ever So Lucky winning the 2012 Derby? Beyond remote! Mr. Sheppard is a nice gentleman but no amount of luck will be enough to get this colt to win the Derby. He like all the past winners of the KJC Stakes that could not break 1:44 is too slow by Derby standards.


“His stable is loaded this year and only Union Rags stands in his way of winning the Derby, even from this far out I'll say that.”

I knew it would happen. You are back on the Pletcher cool aid. When has Mr. Pletcher’s stable not been loaded? From the above it appears the Derby winner will emerge from either a member of the Todd Squad or Union Rags. The Godolphin crew of Alpha, Out Of Bounds and Captivating Lass are chopped liver. Speedy Bob’s crew of Liaison, Secret Circle and Stirred Up are road kill. The aforementioned and many other talented 3YOs have not made the cut on your short list. My dear colleague your confidence in Mr. Pletcher’s horses cannot be based on his record in the great race.  It therefore means that you are in touch with a heavenly source that has provided you with a window into the future. You are indeed privileged and favored amongst all thoroughbred lovers.

Did your heavenly source advise you prior to the 2011 Breeder Cup Classic that it was going to be an Uncle Mo Show? That was your declaration. Well after his no show it should have been apparent that your window into the future needed cleaning. I am aware that you and others worship at the altar of Pletcher but the above conclusion if taking your worship a bit too far. One can be supportive without being fanatical.  

02 Feb 2012 12:57 AM

Apple, it is the way the filly won that is impressive. She won a GII by 16 3/4 legnths and ran 1:22 flat for the 7 furlongs. If she comes home in 14 she beats Algorithms and every other horse in the Holy Bull. She may have some trouble going longer with her running style, but still impressive.

I am looking forward to Alpha and Liason this weekend. Let the FUN begin!!!!

02 Feb 2012 9:37 AM

In my previous post regarding Algorithm I questioned why is sale price was only $170K with his pedigree. I concluded that he might not have been a good mover in the sale ring. I forgot that another issue could have been the fact that he did not return a good enough scope. Well I got the answer to my question. He was a top yearling but would not allow an endoscope to be performed and for fear of him injuring himself his breeders had to forego the procedure. This procedure is now one of the most important pre sale examinations that is performed on yearlings. With the absence of results from this procedure the sale price of a yearling can be adversely impacted..

02 Feb 2012 9:59 AM
Forbidden Apple


On live television Irwin was asked why Animal Kingdom had a new trainer, his response was that he was tired of being lied to. Anyway, Team Valor has a new trainer and I'm happy that they have Graham Motion in their corner.

Billy's Empire,

I watched Broadway Alibi's race at 7f and it was impressive. My point is that it was at 7f against fillies. Ever So lucky lost a 1 1/16 mile race against Gemologist and others. Ranagulzion has written this horse off after only two career races. But since Broadway Alibi is trained by Pletcher, she could be any kind. Ever So Lucky may not be a KY Derby horse, but he at least deserves a chance to prove himself. Uncle Mo was by Indian Charlie and we all know how some people were calling him the next triple crown winner. All I'm saying is that this blog was about Ever So Lucky and he deserves at least a little respect.

02 Feb 2012 10:24 AM


"I've got the highest respect for Pletcher, I think he's the smartest guy in the horse business”

I find second portion of your statement above somewhat on the extreme side. Would you be opposed to sharing the basis of your assessment with Mr. Shandler’s supporters?

Mr. Pletcher entered the trainer’s community like a tornado. Subsequent to his entry he made great and exceptional trainers look average and lesser trainers look like amateurs. His 2YOs seem to develop much faster than ever other trainer and record time more consistent with older horses. At the rate at which he was going it appeared he had revolutionized the art of thoroughbred conditioning and every existing record was his for the taking. I use the term conditioning as he was not training any differently from his established counterparts.  Like many trainer before him he has had his share of sanctions, fines and suspensions for substance excesses found in his horses. His horses disappear with disturbing regularity and rarely have long racing careers. How many horses that have been transferred from his barn have performed to the level they did previously? I know of none.

Mr. Pletcher is undoubtedly an excellent trainer and has the support of many. However, labeling him the smartest guy in the horse business is a stretch. Smart trainers are able to discourage owners from making decisions that are not in the best interest of a horse. Supporting Mr. Repole’s decision to start Uncle Mo in the BCC in spite of the colt lack of foundation for the distance cannot be considered smart. Allowing known sprinter Keyed Entry to run in the Derby was not smart as he finished last and was never the same horse thereafter. To have no rational explanation as to why Life At Ten did not break out of a canter in her Breeder s Cup race is not smart. There are numerous other examples that could be provided to reflect decisions that were not smart.

Let me reiterate one can be supportive without being fanatical.

02 Feb 2012 10:41 AM

The following words were written by the same blogger:

“I missed the addition of Lasix to Consortium. This certainly changes the picture. I think this will move hum up several lengths. I think he should turn the tables on Algorithms and if I have Algorithms to beat Hansen  then he should be the winner.”

28 Jan 2012 10:16 AM

“As for Algorithms he ran as I expected.”

01 Feb 2012 11:27 PM

02 Feb 2012 10:59 AM

coldfacts--other than the loss, what are the elements from the holy bull that you are basing your conclusion hansen didn't come out of the BCJ ok?

watching the race in person, i can say this--he didn't galop out like a tired horse at all, he wasn't exhausted or blowing when he walked back to the barns, the accounts after the race are that he ate well and was kicking and biting as per usual.

i'm waiting until the FOY to draw any firm conclusions about the holy bull--all that i know for sure is this

hansen ran very fast in the holy bull, faster than he has ever run before. ramon made no attempt to slow him down or to encourage him down the stretch--he went to the whip once. hansen was carrying 6 lbs more than algorithms. the track was a mess. hansen galloped out well. and algorithms did not accelerate or make a move in the race at all--he just was slowing down more slowly do to having run more reasonable fractions.

i'm not saying nothing is wrong with hansen--i'm not privy to insider info, but he looked fine up close before and  immediately after the race, and horse that don't come out of the BCJ ok don't tend to set the track on fire in the heavy rain and slop for 3/4 of a mile and then gallop out strong.

02 Feb 2012 11:41 AM

KY VET, Bob Baffert can train circles around Pletcher.

02 Feb 2012 1:41 PM
Carlos in Cali


Re: your colleague Steve Haskin and his latest blog 'Tiznow-Patriots Redux'.

This would be a non-story if the refs would've made the right call when Brady obviously fumbled vs. the damn Raiders and Belichick wouldn't have had his spies filming their opponents practices.. am I right?..

To this day I still would put an * besides all those Brady/Belichick Championships.My Rams got robbed!

02 Feb 2012 1:43 PM


 I suggest you should read my statement again. I didn't say Pletcher was the smartest guy in the horse business. BARRY IRWIN DID!! It was a direct quote. I guess he's a Pletcher fanatic also.

 I would like you to back up your accusations that Pletcher gives his horses "powerfull cocktails". You are insinuating he is a cheater with that type of comment.I know Pletcher has had minor violations, most trainers have. I don't recall Pletcher being suspended for major violations like Dutrow, Mr. Cobra Venum,or that bum out west who loves milkshakes. Don't tell us that he does it all the time but just hasn't been caught yet. That's not gonna fly. Bring on the COLDFACTS cause I can't wait to hear them.

02 Feb 2012 1:59 PM


“As for Algorithms he ran as I expected.”

He ran a great race as I expected.

If you wish to score points you are advised not to use an openeded statements.

I also, posted that Algorithms will be a dangerous Derby prospect and that I would not spend a cent on Hansen.

02 Feb 2012 2:05 PM
Jason Shandler

I agree Carlos. That was one of the worst calls ever, in any sport.

BTW, the Pats are an absolute lock this weekend. I'm loading up. They will put up at least 38.

02 Feb 2012 2:20 PM
Carlos in Cali

Tapizar should face some serious heat in the Strub with Ultimate Eagle and possibly Indian Winter(blinkers) in the line-up.Or,maybe they'll wise up and take a hold of their charges to avoid the apparent speed duel..

Either way,I like Prayer For Relief to bounce back and improve off his 3rd in the San Fernando vs. the victorious Tapizar last time simply on the likelyhood he'll sit the perfect trip and should get the jump on the rest of the field when the speedsters start backing up.

Then again,I won't be surprised if Tapizar runs them off their feet again..    PFR/Tapizar wheel-box with Balladry getting up for 3rd.

I think Rousing Sermon turns the table on Liaison in the Lewis this time for 2 miniscule reasons; 1)the 5lb weight break.2) Jason's new drinking buddy,Hollendorfer has declared "We're all ready to go". That's all I've got!

In the Withers,Alpha is the obvious class-of-the-field at even-money so I'll try and make some moolah in here and use him with Hakama/Swag Daddy.The pace should be honest considering Pletcher will send How Do I Win to the lead at all cost,setting it up perfectly for these 3,IMO. Alpha might be a little vulnerable with only 1 recorded work-out since the Count Fleet though.

02 Feb 2012 2:27 PM
Smoking Baby

 Longwaytomay.  If "that bum out west" is who I think you are referring to, I agree.  He's a total scumbag and should be ruled off.

02 Feb 2012 2:36 PM

Billy's Empire,

“I am looking forward to Alpha and Liaison this weekend. Let the FUN begin!!!!”

I am of the opinion that both colts will be defeated. Alpha should find the interestingly bred Tiger Walk tough to handle. Tiger Walk has won on turf and dirt over a mile. In his last start over a mile at Laurel he recorded a time of 1:37.78. That time is excellent for the Laurel dirt strip. Toby’s Corner won a mile at Laurel in 1:38 and change preceding his Whirl away and Wood Victories. How good is Tiger Walk? Difficult to say! He is big colt with tactical speed and good acceleration. His unraced dam was sired by  Kris S of Zenyatta fame and that makes him even more interesting.

I fancy Chips All In to upset Liaison. I might be a bit crazy as I had initially preferred Grovin Solo. Being mindful of pedigree, I cannot ignore a son of an Epsom Derby winner who sports a record of (5 Starts 4- 1- 0) His last victory  at 11-1 was at a mile on turf in the Eddie Logan. His winning time of 1:34 and fractions was achieved with authority. His dam Marias Mirage is one of the rarely seen broodmare sired by two times Derby wining sire Marias Mon. This colt has run on dirt, synthetic and turf and appears very versatile. He has tactical speed to be forwardly place and based his sire and dam sire the 8 1/2F of the Lewis should pose no problems. I would have to go with Chips All In on top of, Grovin Solo, Liaison and Rousing Sermon.

I guess I cannot help myself as I am not a chalk player.

02 Feb 2012 2:40 PM
Jason Shandler

Coldfacts: If you're playing with real money, can I hold your bets?

02 Feb 2012 2:48 PM


I will keep the context of the statement by adding the words that followed the quote.

You wrote:

“As for Algorithms he ran as I expected. The big question is will be around come Derby time and will he do disappearing act like so many members of Mr. Pletcher’s  yearly squad?”

Those are your words. There is no comment from me. Note however, your choice was actually Consortium not Algorithms. That was the point.

02 Feb 2012 3:00 PM
Carlos in Cali

You're a brave man Jason.I'm taking the points,thinking the Giants will have Brady on his back more often than Vanessa Del Rio's whole career.Plus,Brady's favorite reciever will be very limited,if he even plays that is.

I can see Ely having a big game and getting the MVP Trophy.

02 Feb 2012 3:03 PM
Forbidden Apple


Your statement above is 100% correct,"His horses disappear with disturbing regularity and rarely have long racing careers". It has been clear for years that his horses are trained to win early and then they burn out. Some are lost due to injury, while many are just retired to enter the breeding game early. His owners think every horse is a champion and are afraid to geld a horse. It is a fact that he has not trained a horse of the year or a Breeders Cup Classic winner. For me I find it odd that he does not train many older horses. You will find some running at 4 and that is it. That is unless a private purchase or claim has been made, like Caixa Eletronica or Bribon. As far as a horse running well after being sent to another trainer, I can name one. This past November some friends told me not to bet on Blues Street because he was a former Pletcher horse. At the time, Blues Street was a 7 year old gelding under the care of Eddie Kennealy. Well I bet him to win and he easily defeated his competition in the River City, a grade III stakes.

Can you believe Ranagulzion saying that Pletcher only has to worry about Union Rags? I agree, what about the two Darley runners Alpha and Out of Bounds. According to that logic other trainers should just give up on the triple crown races already and hand the trophies over to Pletcher.

02 Feb 2012 3:03 PM
Jason Shandler

Carlos: Maybe I wasnt clear. Take the Pats minus the points. It's easy money. Trust me on this one.

02 Feb 2012 3:06 PM

Smoking Baby,

They don't call him Milkshake Mullins for nothin!!

02 Feb 2012 3:06 PM


In one of my earliest assessment of Hansen I cited that he was short in the pedigree department. He has performed far better than I expected. The first three past the post in the BCJ were all fully extended. However, Hansen had the least foundation and was the one that ran the hardest. The fact that he bit his tongue suggest that he might have experienced a lot of stress while he was being urged find extra to  hold off Union Rags. Sometimes such hard races have very bad psychological effects on horses. Some develop negative habits and some become smart and consequently when they start to tire do not extend themselves for fear of recurrence of their bad experiences. I am not saying this has happened to Hansen but there could be some side effects from the tough BCJ he ran. If he regresses in his next start the signs could be ominous. I hope I am wrong.

Sharp Humor who ran his heart out in his loss to Barbaro in the FL was never the same after. Stormello ran his heart out in his loss to Scat Daddy in the FL Derby and was never the same after. Rule ran his heart out in his loss to Ice Box in the FL Derby and was never the same after. Ice Box had a tough Derby and did not raise a gallop thereafter up to the time his retirement.  Tough races can seriously damage young horse.

02 Feb 2012 3:12 PM


I'm taking the G-Men plus the points. I have been WRONG all year when wagering on the NFL. You better double your original wagers!!

02 Feb 2012 3:33 PM
Smoking Baby

 Longwaytomay.  Bingo.

02 Feb 2012 3:33 PM


In trying to label me a Pletcher fanatic you asked the following rhetorical question: "When has Mr. Pletcher’s stable not been loaded?"

If by your question you are in agreement on that point, why should I be regarded as fanatical for suggesting that the Derby winner could very likely be one of his charges? I have mentioned his very good record in the Derby preps to challenge his detractors with the cold facts. Whats fanatical about that. His group of 3YOs look as formidable as the group from which Super Saver emerged to win the Kentucky Derby two years ago. Tell me whats fanatical and crazy about that observation my friend. i will soon be posting my top twelve and I look forward to seeing yours.

BTW you've yet to respond to my question to you about your remark that Pletcher uses "cocktails" as part of his training regimen.

02 Feb 2012 3:42 PM

Mr Shandler

Can you specify the number of favorites that won Derby preps in 2011? If you are able to recall you will realize that I am not crazy Stay Thirsty, The Factor, Dialed In and possibly Soldat were the only wining favorites.

I need not remind you that horses are not afraid of horses. However gamblers are. You might not be familiar with the horse I have cited but that does not disqualify them as worthy contender. We are approximately 10 months removed from Uncle Mo’s loss in the Wood. His loss was considered to be the greatest upset since that Secretariat in the same race. If the winner of a race could be accurately determined based on the PPs of the assembled field, there would be no need to run the race. You more than anyone else, should not forget that it’s a sport of glorious uncertainties. I have been laugh at before and on many occasions I had the last laugh.

Tiger Walk: He does have a proven pedigree.

Sire: Tale Of The Cat: Millionaires - Gio Ponti & Lion Heart; Dam sire of It Tricky

Dam; Unraced daughter of Kris S sire of 5 breeder Cup winners; Dam sire of Zenyatta and grand sire of Blame. The Hail To Reason line has been associated with 4 Derby winners and 6 Melbourne Cup winners.

Chips All In; He does have proven pedigree.

North Light: Epsom Derby winner; Irish Derby runner-up. His sire Danehill is the only sire with 300 Stakes winners.

Dam: Marias Mirage was sired by two times Derby winning sire Marias Mon. He was bred along the same cross as emerging broodmare sire Unbridled Song

Both colts have top class pedigree and have shown lots of ability. Based on the above I am prepared to take a shot. It called gambling. If the 1-5 Uncle Mo was beaten, the task to defeating Alpha and Liason is considerably easier. They are all young and improving.

02 Feb 2012 3:44 PM
Jason Shandler

Coldfacts: I'll repeat. Can I hold your bets?

02 Feb 2012 3:52 PM
Carlos in Cali

Jason,I hear you.I made the mistake,meant to say take the point spread. 33-24 Giants.

02 Feb 2012 4:03 PM

Forbidden Apple,

 I suggest you take a look at Animal Kingdom's pp's. He was never trained by Todd Pletcher. His previous trainer was Wayne Catalano, and if you actualy read the quote from Irwin then you would know he wasn't talking about him either.

02 Feb 2012 4:07 PM


Cocktails are widely used for development, strengthening, conditioning and as race day boasters. Equine cocktails are designed to deliver a lean, mean running machine to the race track. Their compositions make them very potent and while their usage succeeds in enhancing a horse’s performance, the impact on the horse’s system can be extremely devastating.  When these high powered cocktails are used it takes a lot of time for the horse to recover from a performance which under normal circumstance would not occur. Most of the components in cocktails have to flirter out by the horses system and the chief organ responsible for this is the liver.  Is it any surprise that a prominent promising 3YO who was designate to be the next Secretariat was diagnosed with a liver problem? Each horse reacts differently to substances administered to them. Some are more resilient than others. One thing that is irrefutable is the fact that these cocktail are used in a random and injudicious manner to achieve a competitive advantage. Each vet thinks the cocktail they have formulated is the cocktail of all cocktails. There are so many concoctions to choose from and each with a promise to enhance the chances of winning. While trainers and unsuspecting owners secure short term financial benefits and glory the defenseless horse has to endure days of outer body experiences while their livers work over time to clear their system of powerful pollutant. Many become shadows of themselves and never recapture their competitive status. In short they go MIA. Why? The long-term usage of cocktails results in damage to internal organs.  Obviously cocktails will vary in potency and some are very expensive and fall outside that budgets of small trainers and owners. The real winners are the vets that concoct them.

02 Feb 2012 4:08 PM
Forbidden Apple


Tiger Walk is in capable hands with Ignacio Correas. He was the former assistant to Bill Badgett until they had a falling out. He trains a nice turf horse named Humble and Hungry. I hear you about betting chalk, but Alpha will not lose.

It looks like the 2012 handicap division might have a couple of new shooters in Redding Colliery and Endorsement.

02 Feb 2012 4:24 PM
Bob from Boston

I told you so!  The Donald has called it.  Mitt Romney for the GOP nominee.  In related news, he is also picking the Giants and Patriots to make it to the Super Bowl?  How can you tell if Wayne Catalano is lying?

02 Feb 2012 4:59 PM

Carlos + Ranagulzion:

I'm not one to get too carried away this early on the Triple Crown trail, but in Algorithms and El Padrino, Pletcher has 2 elite classic prospects.  Unlike many of Pletcher's past prospects who were more accomplished but had questionable classic pedigrees, in Algorithms and El Padrino, Pletcher has two colts that are just starting to get good and have a world of upside, and who should have no problems continuing to stretch out.

El Padrino only won an allowance race, but it was a much hyped allowance full of potential.  However, the race turned into a two horse duel, and it was El Padrino and not the stakes proven Take Charge Indy who proved superior in the stretch.  

This was an extremely positive race for El Padrino, as he rated kindly and then ran down a horse in Take Charge Indy that was running a huge race himself.  

Take note that Take Charge Indy finished almost 14 lengths clear of the 3rd horse.  The fractions and final time reflect the quality of the top two finishers; after a solid 6 furlongs in 1:10 and 4, they made it to the mile mark in 1:36 and 1, just 1 tick off the final time of the Holy Bull.  

What makes El Padrino's performance especially impressive is that he was then able to get the final sixteenth in 6 and 2, for a final time of 142 and 3.  Because El Padrino turned in such a strong final sixteenth, his Beyer was actually a few points higher than Algorithms'(100 to 98).  

By Pulpit out of a Giant's Causeway mare, El Padrino has a pedigree which virtually assures him of getting 9 furlongs, and gives him a good shot at 10 furlongs and beyond.

02 Feb 2012 5:13 PM


Saturday is the first really big day at Santa anita in 2012.  The Strub and Lewis shape as excellent affairs, and the Arcardia showcases arguably North America's best turf miler, Mr. Commons(I personally wouldn't rate him #1).

As I wrote immediately after the race, I wasn't overwhelmed by Tapizar's San Fernando, and the Beyer came back mediocre.  The presence of a quality speed horse like Ultimate Eagle is only going to complicate things for Tapizar; however, if Tapizar is going to compete for races like the Big cap or even 9 furlong races like the Stephen Foster, than he's probably going to have to prove he can reliably rate.  And that's the key for me.  I know Tapizar can rate, but I don't have full confidence that he will rate everytime(last year's Lewis), and I question how much he will like 9 furlongs and beyond.

I would be right at the windows with you if I was certain I was getting the Prayer for Relief from last September.  But I am simply not encouraged by his current form.  Yes, the pace scenario of the San Fernando did not favor him vis-a-vis Tapizar, but Prayer for Relief had absolutely no excuse not to hold off Balladry.  Baffert's giving Prayer' another shot(after 3 losses and 2 poor efforts) like he did with Drill, Candrea, Euroears, and The Factor, but with the exception of the latter, these "last chances" haven't born fruit.

I expect Balladry to continue his improvement in the Strub, and should the pace be really demanding(which I don't expect) and Tapizar struggle the final sixteenth, he certainly has a shot.  It's good to see comebackers Jaycito and Clubhouse Ride also in the field, but it's hard to see them winning in this spot.

The Lewis gives us round 3 in the entertaining Liaison-Rousing Sermon rivalry.  My opinion of both prior meetings is that Liaison was the better horse and would have found more had the races been at longer distances, this even though Rousing Sermon was making up ground through the stretch in each race.  

Liaison has the better tactical speed, is the physically more impressive horse, and is bred to be real good.  However, I respect Rousing Sermon a whole bunch and think he's the best closer among the newly turned 3 year olds out West.

Speaking of closers, I'm very interested in Sky Kingdom and Empire Way.  I like that Baffert gave Sky Kingdom a prep over the track, and think that this recency edge and the fact he is proven over the track make him the bigger threat of the two.

I'm intersted in seeing how these horses react to a gr.2 dirt pace, given the race does have speed(I'll Have Another, Groovin Solo, the New Mexican star, Isn't He Clever, and Chips All In)).

What's funny about the Arcadia is that the field has 2 gr.1 winners, but Mr. Commons isn't one of them(M One Rival and Euro goup 1 winner, Pathfork).  Also, Mr. commons is only 4th on the list as it concerns lifetime earnings, behind El Gato Malo, Massone, and M One Rifle.  So, Mr. Commons still has much to prove if he's to be considered one of the continent's best middle distance turf horses.  However, he does appear to have this field at his mercy.

Saturday concludes with 11' Big cap runner-up, Setsuko, in an optinal claimer, while the horse that finished ahead of him in that controversial Big Cap, Game on Dude, will be a heavy favorite Sunday in the San Antonio.  

I respect the professionalism of the 1-2 San Pasqual finishers, Uh Oh Bango and Tres Borrachos, but if Game on Dude is to be a national star again this year, he wins the San antonio.

02 Feb 2012 6:05 PM
Age of Reason

Carlos in Cali:

Are you going to Santa Anita on Sat.? Firsthand impressions will be very interesting from those races, not just for the Triple Crown contenders in the Robert Lewis (G2) but also a couple of Breeders Cup potentials in the Arcadia (G2T). Like everyone else, I expect Mr. Commons to run away with the latter (despite giving 5 pounds to the rest of the field), but if Irish Champion/Group 1 winner Pathfork from Sadler's barn runs a good 2nd or even 3rd or 4th--after all, he's coming off an approximate 10-month layoff with 1 start in the last year--then that might bode well for Pathfork's 2012 campaign. I also hope that Pathfork stays in Cali and stays sound to run more races against Mr. Commons, Jeranimo & Co., as this COULD give a fairly good indicator of how well many of the American turf milers stack up with their European counterparts (given that Pathfork's last start was vs. Frankel in the 2000 Guineas, albeit an obviously futile one; he finished seventh after getting up to third at the furlong marker, and defeated Zoffany in the National Stakes [Ire-I] at two).

02 Feb 2012 6:13 PM


My learned colleague you must forgive my limitations with the language. It is evident that I did not clearly make my points so I will address the ones you have raised.

“Why should I be regarded as fanatical for suggesting that the Derby winner could very likely be one of his charges?”

Everyone of Mr. Sahndler’s supporters sould have an easy task answering the above question. He is not in the habit of wining the Derby and consequently you confidence is without foundation. He took out his license in 1995 and in the 16 years that have elapsed he has a grand total of one Derby winner from 29 starters. His winning record is superseded his record of last place finishes which stands at 3 in consecutive derbies. In at least three Derbies he had 20% of the starters. Therefore, it is not uncommon for him to be loaded with Derby prospects and not deliver.  In fact, in his case more represents less.

The fact that you have narrowed the list from which the winner is likely to emerge to Mr. Pletchers possible five and Mr. Matz one can only be classified as fantasy.  

“I have mentioned his very good record in the Derby preps to challenge his detractors with the cold facts. What’s fanatical about that?”

Would care to specify for all and sundry the number of 3YO preps won by Mr. Pletcher’s sole derby winner? Keyed Entry won Hutcheson in a NTR and finished last in the Derby. Cowtown Cat won the Won Illinois Derby and finished last in the Derby. Monba won the Blue Grass and finished last in the Derby. Scat won the FOY & FL Derby and finished 18th.  Bandini won the Blue Grass and finished 19th in the Derby. Rule won the Sam Davis but did not make the race. Derby prep victories secure graded earning but clearly mean nothing for Mr. P. Is that enough COLD FACTS for you?

“His group of 3YOs looks as formidable as the group from which Super Saver emerged to win the Kentucky Derby two years ago”

Super Saver 1st, Mission Impazible 9th, Devil May Care 10th, Discreetly Mine 13th. Rule did not make the race. Is there a new definition for formidable?

02 Feb 2012 6:50 PM

Some of the remarks of one blogger border on defamation.

It is remarkable that a blogger who has never been a vet will insist on making statements which he can never prove about matters he knows nothing about and about people he does not interact with daily.

If the blogger has evidence of the matter he is talking about, he ought to pass the evidence to the appropriate authorities rather than attempt to defame others, knowing no action is likely to be brought against him because he is not a person of substance.

02 Feb 2012 7:13 PM

Forbidden Apple,

Alpha was the colt I fancied going into the Breeder Cup Juvenile. He ran a terrible race but I did not abandon him. I am not abandoning him on Saturday; I just intend to beat him. I am not sure if you have seen Tiger Walk’s last two races. He has a much better action that Alpha and a faster stride turnover. He has more tactical speed and is not short in the stamina department. I envisage him being ahead of Alpha and out sprinting him to the line.

He is a very nice colt who is the product of an unraced mare. Classy horses produced from unraced mares should never be underestimated. An unraced mare always excites me. An unraced Kris S mare has to be premium. Kris S dam was sired by Princequillo  who was leading broodmare sire in North America (1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1976) Is it therefore surprising that a Kris S mare produced Zenyatta. Uncle Mo dam was sire by Arch a son of Kris S

Will Tiger Walk like that funky Big A track? Well, he won on turf so another surface should not be a problem. Will he ship and run well? He did not run well at Saratoga but his two starts there were on turf. He looks to be a better horse on the dirt. If he turns out to be a flop I will gladly eat my plate of crow. I happen to think I know a good racehorse when I see one.

02 Feb 2012 7:40 PM


 Could you please enlighten us as to what these powerfull ingredients are that Todd P. uses in these magical cocktails? Are they legal? Is he the only trainer that uses them? Is the reason he wins so many races due to the fact he give thes cocktails to his horses?

02 Feb 2012 7:59 PM
Forbidden Apple


I had the right owner and trainer, but the wrong horse. The horse I was thinking of was Pluck.

Robert Lewis: Empire Way/ Isn't He Clever

Withers: Alpha/ Tiger Walk

Sam F Davis: Prospective/ State of Play

02 Feb 2012 8:07 PM

I recently cited that G1 wining mares and superstar mares are not the ones that produce Derby winners. The Allowance/Optional Claim race won by El Padrino represent another endorsement of this COLD FACT. Before I provide the details I think it only fair to state that my choice for the race was A Boy Named Em. He finished a distant 5th.  I will continue to follow this colt in spite of his unusual name and two dismal races at Gulfstream.

There were two colts produced from GI winning mares in the aforementioned Allowance/Optional Claim race:


Dam: Take Charge Lady: (22 Starts: 11 - 7 - 0, $2,480,377) Multiple G1 & G2 wins; 2nd Kentucky Oaks


Dam: Casual Look: (12 Starts: 2 - 2 - 3, $602,657) Won Epsom Oaks (Eng-G1,12FT)

El Padrino: (1st)

Dam: Enchanted Rock: (1 Starts: 0 - 0 - 0, $169)

El Padrino is now being hailed as one of Mr. Pletcher’s top Derby prospect. Score one for another lightly raced mare.

02 Feb 2012 8:39 PM

"Holy" "Battle"field, Batman!!! A "Fox"hunt in Casablanca!!!  Check out the names in the Sam Davis!  Great article here Jason, and the same for the one on the Sam Davis as well.  Wow a colt named Moroccan Brew?  I'm pulling for Todd Pletcher's horse in the Sam Davis, and I'll take this Moroccan Brew for second since my husband is Moroccan.  I must say they do concoct an awesome brew of green tea and fresh peppermint that is very healthy and lowers blood pressure.

02 Feb 2012 8:42 PM

With the Derby just 90 days away I still see Union Rags in the winner circle in May.  He is much the best still.  Pats win the Superbowl.  NY Defense cannot stop the quick pass.

02 Feb 2012 8:44 PM
Carlos in Cali

No Jacob,I'm staying home to watch the Celebrity Beach Bowl.. can't miss!  J/K.

We'll be at my local OTB this time for the $3 Import drafts & all you can eat rib tips.. can't beat that.Nationwide,the Saturday cards could not have come up any better for this time of year.

02 Feb 2012 8:46 PM

Forbidden Apple,

 You are correct. Todd Pletcher trained Pluck for his first five races. 3 wins, (including the BC Juvi Turf), one second, and one third place finish. He was then transfered to H. Graham Motion. He raced two more times and didn't hit the board. Must have been those damned cocktails.

02 Feb 2012 9:16 PM


You clearly missed the opening sentence of my cocktail post. For your benefit it is listed below:

“Cocktails are widely used for development, strengthening, conditioning and as race day boasters”

I am in no position to tell the composition of any cocktails used by trainers. Mr. Pletcher horses have a tendency to go MIA and I have equated this to side effects from concoctions used in the conditioning program. There are a number of other trainer whose horses disappear as well. I have never sought to determine exactly what the compositions these cocktails are. However, based on experienced in gained in another life, is safe to speculate that they include body building agents; agents that promote increase capability to produce higher  quantities oxygenated blood; agent to extend muscle energy and delay the impact of the lactic acid system.  The horses from some barns are always look more powerful than others. I wonder Why? A horse has three energy systems and most conditioning programs are used to bring them to optimum levels of efficiency while the horse is racing. The extent to which some conditioner will go to enhance these energy systems is unbelievable. Most vets are able to formulate these concoctions as are some trainers. The potency of cocktails will be greater when the stakes are higher.

A particular 2YO entered the 2010 BCJ Turf with two victories from four starts. There was nothing to suggest that he was capable of the performance he delivered in this race. He spotted the field about four to five lengths at the gate and he eventually won by a similar margin in hand. So devastating was his performance, Trevor Denman stated that it appeared he jumped into the race at the furlong pole. He was swung five to six wide at the top of the stretch after his bad start and finished like a human cannonball. Three weeks after his removal from the barn in which he won that race, he started in an Allowance race and finished 4th. His next race was four months later where he finished unplaced. He recently underwent surgery for complication.

Would it be unreasonable to blame his no show after his decisive victory in the BCJ Turf on the adverse effect of race day cocktails to which he was previously exposed? Could the series of cocktails that were administered to prepare him for the BCJ Turf be responsible for changing his status from Champion Turf 2YO to damage goods?  I consider these legitimate questions and while the answers will be speculative, there is no speculation in what his owner saw. He saw a horse leaving the starting gates and witness part horse and part bird passing the finishing post as the colt sprouted wings in the stretch.

The world record holder for the women Track & Field 100 and 200 hundred meters was just an ordinary runner in the year preceding her records. During her record breaking year she turned up with wickedly defined muscles and a deep voice. I wonder what happened to so drastically change physique. Was she given a series of cocktails?

02 Feb 2012 9:35 PM

coldfacts thanks for replying--i agree that running their hearts out often ruins young horses (it ruins older ones too).  but i'm a little confused because hansen didn't gut out a tough loss in the BCJ like your other examples, that was union rags.  

hansen ran the first 6 furlongs of the holy bull in 1:09.11--and still finished in 1:36.91, 0.06 seconds faster than winslow homer WON it the year Jackson Bend was 2nd (jason shandler called winslow homer's holy bull win "a thing of beauty;" the front running speed of that race ran the first 6f in 1:09.66, slightly slower than hansen, but faded to fourth and fifth, repsectively).

gulfstream isn't santa anita, 1:09 at GP is just doesn't seem likely to me that if hansen was hurting or had lost his fight and desire to run, that he would have done that to himself with no urging and no pace pressure at all. he didn't run like a horse that doesn't want to run anymore, he ran like a horse with a bee up his butt. =)

but i know what you'r saying and it is a possible explanation for the holy bull--we'll have a better understanding after the FOY, as long as it doesn't rain again--weather down here has gone crazy, rain this time of year is like snow in august for New York...

02 Feb 2012 10:57 PM

COLDCUTS HAS LOST HIS ITTY BITTY MIND! I cant even respond.......his only saving grace is that he is too poor to bet. Now he is making things up.

02 Feb 2012 11:33 PM
200 lb. Jockey


     Do you play Derby future bets?

03 Feb 2012 1:32 AM


03 Feb 2012 5:37 AM
Smoking Baby

 Forbidden Apple, I agree.  Prospective should be double tough in tomorrow's Sam Davis Stakes.  

03 Feb 2012 8:02 AM

Coldfacts:  I am a bit confused.  I am far from a Todd Pletcher mark.  I think he is an excellent trainer but I don't believe he does his best work preparing horses for the Triple Crown series.  I prefer Baffert and others to Pletcher.  However, I believe one of your posts states, or at the very least implies, that Pletcher routinely uses milkshakes to get young horses to perform at a higher level.  I am aware of some medication violations with Pletcher, but your post seems to put him in the same light as a Rick Dutrow or Jeff Mullins, two trainers with a mountain of evidence against them who shouldn't be allowed to train anywhere.  I don't believe your post is backed by the cold facts.  

03 Feb 2012 9:46 AM
Mike Relva


Nice of you as always leaping to the defense of your pal. Too bad you've continually bashed another trainer, one that believes in doing what's right. Then again, I have to consider the source. lol

Will bet you none of "GODS" horses win the Derby. Why don't you step up to the plate and bet? Of course if you need time to mull it over with your racing strategist Dray it's ok.

03 Feb 2012 10:26 AM
Forbidden Apple

The destruction of Pluck might be a strong example of why Team Valor left the Pletcher regime. Soldat ran a winning race, but he was on the inside and never saw what was coming down the middle. The lightning bolt ColdFacts wrote about was clearly Pluck. Team Valor now has a trainer that is patient and puts the horse first.

Smoking Baby,

Prospective was just getting started at the end of the Pasco. His latest work was slow, but his works before the Pasco were good. Maybe his latest work was just a tune up. He has a distinct advantage over State of Play who is first time dirt. And I am not afraid of the turtle named Ecabroni at all.

If anyone is playing Santa Anita today, the 6th and 7th race double looks easy. Izzy Rules freaked in her last race and is trained by the red hot Jeff Bonde. La Sombre also freaked in her last race, 1:06 for 6f. Both horses should go wire to wire as favorites.

03 Feb 2012 10:39 AM

When East Germany was a World swimming power, the US women said they felt they were swimming against "men".  East Germany was known for developing "enhancements" that weren't detected by the testing done at that time as well as transfusions where the blood was oxygenated. The famous Press sisters of the old USSR track teams disappeared when sex testing was added to the Olympics.  "Cocktail-ing" has been around forever.  I don't think we will ever know who does it and who doesn't.  But it is probably very wide spread. After all, this is a sport where money won and races won rule.  Everybody wants returns immediately.  Puts alot of pressure on trainers.  Is cocktail-ing illegal?  As long as they test clean on raceday, I guess it is.  Is it healthy for the horse?  Who knows.  Is it healthy for humans?  Who knows.  Will they continue to be used?


03 Feb 2012 11:28 AM

2:24...Just because a trainer doesn't get cited for violations, doesn't mean it didn't happen.  Exactly when did Life At Ten get her blood test?  Velasquez and Veitch paid dearly for the incident...what about (according to Kentucky regulations) holding the trainer responsible?  I really don't think people have gotten over that incident just yet.

AS far as Jonathan Sheppard, I respect his abilities as a trainer.  While I don't get to see many steeplechase events in the USA, Sheppard's turf champions never cease to amaze me.  And I will NEVER forget that magnificent run by Cloudy's Knight in the BC.  I wish Mr. Sheppard nothing but the best, because he's always given us horses expertly trained to be the best and most brilliant runners.

03 Feb 2012 11:30 AM

Forbidden Apple-

Izzy Rules is a streaking speedball and fillies/mares who fit that description often go straight up the ladder, particularly with this surface. However, the Sadler is the value. She will go off @ 6-8/1 due to her weak Beyers back East and has the talent to take this. The race key is if Excellent News is now a rocket speedball with the addition of blinkers in her last (a 20.8 1st quarter a a Stake.) If she is, IR will be gasping the additional 1/16th today.

La Sombre is far more vulnerable. The rail draw, missed training, a huge step up in class, and a tougher pace scenario make her a dicey play. I was on her last time and it was impressive but this is an entirely different setup. The Mitchell and Jones will present value. If Garcia gets a good break and takes advantage of the 24ft rail she will be a player but if she doesn't get early position I can see a shuffled trip @ 8/5.

I generally like both horses but see some large issues to overcome today.  

03 Feb 2012 12:04 PM

Some relevantfacts about Pluck.


"Team Valor International and The Vinery’s Pluck, who won last year’s Breeder's Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs, will be returned to training June 28.

Pluck in the spring was diagnosed with bone bruising on his canon bones, which necessitated him being turned out in a grass paddock for two months. Radiographs reviewed June 27 by Dr. Larry Bramlage at Rood & Riddle Veterinary Clinic near Lexington revealed that both bones had healed, Team Valor said in a release.

Bramlage advised trainer Graham Motion the 3-year-old More Than Ready colt bred by Team Valor could return to training. Team Valor said Pluck would jog on the Tapeta surface at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland."

URL attached:

03 Feb 2012 12:12 PM


I see you're revelling in controversy however you need to be careful about innuendos that malign a trainer when you have no cold facts to put forward. your reference to Flo Jo is a case inpoint: everybody knows that she was on steroids except for the IAAF and the IOC.

03 Feb 2012 1:46 PM

Coldfacts about Pluck,

 Pluck first raced in MSW at Belmont and went off at odds of 4/1. He finished 3rd. His next race which was one month later was another MSW at Belmont where he was sent to gate as the less than 2/1 chalk.(Dray probably bet him heavily) He finished 1st. His next race was a stakes race at Monmouth one month later. He went off at 2.6 to 1 and finished 2nd. One month later he runs in another stakes race this time at Woodbine. Was the chalk again at 2.5 to 1 and finished 1st. Four races in four months. Two wins, one second, and a third place finish. He then got a two month break before the BC at Churchill. Was sent of at 6 to 1 and shocked the world. Total destruction of a horse if I ever saw it as only Todd Pletcher could do.  

03 Feb 2012 2:31 PM

El Padrino

03 Feb 2012 3:10 PM

Yes I think Pletcher vs. Baffert...the Triple Crown Record kind of speaks for itself.  

Speaking of Baffert.  We may just have The Factor throwing down against Amazombie in the San Carlos.  

Ready, set, blast off!  

03 Feb 2012 7:50 PM


This is what  “every body knows” about Flo Jo.

It is always useful to cite your sources.

04 Feb 2012 7:50 AM
Forbidden Apple


Amazombie and The Factor are in trouble if Frumious enters against them.

Did anyone watch another Bonde horse named Izzy Rules burn up the track yesterday?

04 Feb 2012 8:34 AM
Karen in Texas

Jersey Boy----I agree that some statements/remarks made by at least one blogger border on defamation, and I understand and appreciate your attempts to illuminate the truth by supplying links to factual information.

The Blogger stated on Feb.2 at 4:08 P.M. with regard to "cocktails", that "their compositions make them very potent"....Does that not imply that he has knowledge of the ingredients? The Blogger then states at 9:35 P.M., "I am in no position to tell the composition of any cocktails used by trainers." At the end of that entry he brings up the female world record holder for 100m & 200m, saying, "she turned up with wickedly defined muscles and a deep voice. Was she given a series of cocktails?" Is there any way that doesn't imply usage of anabolic steroids? (As stated by Ranagulzion on Feb.3, 1:46 P.M.) Does it not imply a compositional link between the "cocktails" used currently by the trainers he questions and the alleged use by the now deceased Florence G. Joyner? As for Flo-Jo, she is not able to defend herself at this point. However, if trainers are currently using enhancing substances regularly in hopes that they have cleared by raceday, then today's testing methods will probably create difficulty in that regard. It takes ~12-25 days for nandrolone to clear from plasma or urine, with 42 days the recommended time before testing. One dose of boldenone can be detected for up to six months.

Flo-Jo was found to have a cavernous angioma at autopsy. This undoubtedly contributed to her seizure disorder. The physical stresses of competition could have raised her blood pressure enough for her to have had a stroke, and the added vasopressor effects of steroids could have been devastating. We should be careful when stating what "everybody knows".  

04 Feb 2012 2:42 PM

Karen in Texas:

I agree with your conclusion that we should be careful about stating “everybody knows”. I was just being cynical. I took the words from another blogger.

I was just trying to show my annoyance at people making statements about matters they are unfamiliar with when such statements have the potential to portray others in a poor light. Some seem to do so without even doing an internet search.

I attached that URL hoping to send  a message.

Both of the matters covered would have gone differently if the people involved had simply searched the internet for 5 minutes.

04 Feb 2012 4:48 PM
Karen in Texas

Jersey Boy----I understand your message and share your annoyance. Whether some bloggers search the Internet or use an old-fashioned dictionary, they need to look up the respective definitions of "fact" and "innuendo". Opinions based on innuendo alone are without merit.

04 Feb 2012 7:56 PM

Karen in Texas,

I really like your postings. You're good.

Jersey Boy,

I didn't raise the Flo Jo issue and wouldn't like to go any further into that discussion, suffice it to say that Wikipedia as a source isn't gospel on a lot of their postings. That's a fact.

05 Feb 2012 9:53 PM
Karen in Texas

Ranagulzion----Thanks. Seeing distortions of the truth is, as previously stated, annoying. When I see misrepresentations of facts within the biomedical realm, I simply cannot contain myself.

06 Feb 2012 1:08 PM

Coldfacts consistently pours out his opinions and labels them as "facts".  When the actual facts are presented to him, he might apologize for his error, but then he will continue using the same arguments and opinions as "facts" on every blog as though his errors were never pointed out to him.   It seems to be a habit of laziness in research, and a self-indulgence in search of a soap box.

It's a good thing there are so many well-informed readers on these blogs.  Great info...Karen.

06 Feb 2012 8:14 PM

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