Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pocket Aces Fillies Training Well, Dixie's Hope on Track to Make Her First Career Start at Keeneland's Upcoming Spring Meeting

I visited our 2 young racing prospects yesterday and am pleased to report that both are doing extremely well. As we have already reported to the syndicate members Pure Victory has developed into a big, very powerfully built filly that is already showing a great deal of promise in the early stages of her training. As for Dixie's Hope she is getting very close to making her debut - she is getting fitter and fitter by the day and despite the wicked weather we've had this winter in Kentucky she is still on schedule to run at Keeneland's April Meet.

Above is a video I took yesterday of the 2 fillies training on High Point's uphill gallop. The first time around both fillies are held to a gallop (Dixie's Hope, the grey, goes in front of Pure Victory). Dixie's Hope went by herself a second time and she was allowed to "pick it up" - doing more of a 2-minute lick.


Cozzene x Konvincha 2007


Pure Prize x By The Book 2008

Friday, February 19, 2010

Horse Themed Crossword Puzzle Contest!!!

2 of my favorite things are thoroughbred horses and crossword puzzles so I am combining them and making a contest out of it.

Below is a link to a horse themed crossword puzzle that I have created, click on the link - print out the puzzle and the first person to finish it correctly will win 2 box seats to the upcoming Keeneland Spring Meet courtesy of Pocket Aces Racing L.L.C.!!!

You can fax your submissions to 859 271-2010 or scan them in and e-mail them to Please include your contact information. Good Luck!!!

2 Box Seats good for 1 day. Excludes Bluegrass Stakes Day. The particular date to be determined by Pocket Aces Racing, L.L.C. but we will try to accommodate the winner with their date of choice.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Memories of a Ruler When He Was Just a Prince

I remember the first time I saw Roman Ruler but back then, in the summer of 2003, he was an unnamed yearling known only as Silvery Swan '02. I had been hired by a client to "scout" horses for the upcoming Keeneland September Yearling Sale which meant I would travel to as many consignors as I could before the sale and inspect their catalogued yearlings in an effort to get a leg up on the competition. One of my last stops before the sale was at Bill Betz' Needham-Betz Thoroughbreds. As I recall it was a typical mid-summer "scorcher" here in Central Kentucky, the kind where your shirt gets drenched with sweat just standing there. Bill must have shown me around 15 yearlings that day and they were all straight forward, easy to categorize types. No, No, No, Yes, No, Yes, No, No, etc. but I just couldn't wrap my head around that darned Silvery Swan '02. If I had spent 5 minutes apiece inspecting the other horses I must have spent 20 with him. I made him walk on the asphalt, then on the grass, then in a circle. I looked at him from the side, watched him walk head-on, stood him up square, stood him up in a conformation pose, etc. The groom went through 3 bottles of water and was becoming visibly frustrated.

The problem was in his front limbs. My client was a real stickler for leg conformation and there was no way around it - he wasn't perfect up front. I couldn't scratch him off the list though. He had a body to die for and moved like a leopard stalking its prey. Offset knees, base narrow be damned I was putting this horse on the short list.

In the end my client's didn't purchase Silver Swan '02 and like so many other hip numbers he faded from my memory until...

The next time I heard about him his name was Roman Ruler and he had just taken a MSW at Hollywood Park with ease, stopping the clock in a track sizzling :57.1. The bay son of Fusaichi Pegasus failed to disappoint his ever growing fan base throughout the summer and fall of that year by taking both the Norfolk S.-G 2 and Best Pal S.-G 2 by a combined 11 1/2 lengths. At 3 Roman Ruler won the most important race of his career - The Haskell S.-G1. The most important, not so much due to the race's Grade 1 status or $1,000,000 purse but its 9 furlong distance. What Roman Ruler proved in this race was that he was more than just a brilliant speed ball. He was a horse that continued to develop from 2 to 3 and a horse that could carry his speed over a route of ground.

Just like his racing career did 6 years ago Roman Ruler's stud career is getting off to a spectacular start.

Now it's 2010 and Roman Ruler is the leading 2nd Crop Sire in North America and he is represented by no fewer than 5 legitimate Kentucky Derby contenders. I believe that he first showed glimpses of the prowess he would have in the breeding shed in the 2005 running of the Haskell S.-G 1, as brilliantly fast 2-year-olds that carry their speed over a route of ground in Grade 1 competition are a rare breed and are usually the kind that make it big in the breeding game.

I have seen him several times since he was retired to stud at Hill 'n' Dale Farm and you can tell that as he matured and broadened through the chest a lot of the minor front limb conformation flaws I was hung up on in 2003 have gone away. Seeing this horse at such an early stage of his life and seeing what he has gone on to do has been a great learning experience. I am definitley looking forward to watching his sons and daughters rule the track for years to come.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fasig-Tipton's KY Winter Mixed Sale Small (but Well Needed) Victory for Sellers

Total Sales and Overall Average both increased significantly from 2009 at this year's Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale. Gross Revenue was up 27% while the average rose nearly 37%. The median was unchanged.

Numbers alone don't always give you an accurate picture of a sales true performance but I can tell you the overall mood was quite optimistic and having spoken with several consignors they were happy enough and the horses they expected to sell got sold.

For my part I sold 2 horses with Castle Park Farm and while we didn't "break the bank" we did get both of them sold and at fair prices.

The top end of the market proved to be very strong as 13 horses sold for over $50,000, including $340,000 for the sales topper. This just goes to show that despite the worldwide economic down turn and the subsequent slide in the thoroughbred markets there are still plenty of buyers for top quality horses regardless of where they are offered.

Kudos also go out to Fasig-Tipton and its staff as they were all highly visible and seemed to be working feverishly at making sure the facility upgrades aren't just window dressing. I think I even saw Fasig-Tipton COO Dan Pride directing horses into the back walking ring - How's that for service?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Quality Road Lowers His Own Track Record in Donn Romp

Edward P. Evans' home bred Quality Road crushed a field of 8 others in yesterday's Donn H.-G 1 in route to lowering his track record to 1:47.49.

We predicted this result in our previous blog entry however the race did not unfold quite the way we expected. Inexplicably Past the Point's connections tried beating Quality Road at his own game by sending him out for the early lead only to see him fade badly to a 6th place finish in the stretch.

Past the Point was able to establish a lively early pace, which Quality Road was content to lay right off of but it wasn't enough to keep the 4-year-old Elusive Quality colt from bounding home an easy 12 length winner.

I'm not ready to annoint Quality Road as a super horse just yet, let's face it the Donn H.-G 1 field was weak this year and I want to see what he'll do with real Grade 1 quality older horses running on his flanks and pushing him from behind.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Will Quality Road Win The Donn H.-G 1? That Depends on What Past the Point Does

Quality Road is clearly the class of Saturday's Donn H.-G 1 at Gulfstream Park and as evidenced by his victories last year at Gulfstream in the Fountain of Youth-G2 and Florida Derby-G 1 he is one of those unique horses that can forwardly place themselves on a hot early pace and have enough left over to finish strong up to a mile and an eighth. This ability has the rest of this year's Donn H.-G 1 field "up against it" to say the least.

He should win Saturday but if a challenger like Past The Point (the closest thing to a speed horse in the race) were to press him early and force Quality Road out of his comfort zone then one or two of the horses he is giving up as much as 8 pounds to may be able to get past him late.

I don't think that scenario will play out though as Past the Point's connections will most likely ask pilot Edgar Prado to get their charge to relax and lay right off the leaders, much as the horse did back in 2008 when he was competing well in 2 turn Graded Stakes races, instead of rushing straight for the lead like he did in his most recent start in the 6 furlong Mr. Prospector-G3.

Unless another horse pulls a 180 with their running style Quality Road should have it "all his way" on the front end and win this year's Donn-H-G 1. I like Mambo Meister for 2nd and Past the Point for 3rd.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pocket Aces Racing, L.L.C. Forming First Partnership for 2010

Pocket Aces Racing, L.L.C. has announced that they will be attending the Ocala Breeder's April 2-year-old in-training sales this year looking to purchase a top-class racing prospect to form its initial 2010 partnership.

25 shares are available at $2,400 each. Partial shares are also available. Due to overwhelming interest in our most recent partnerships, we are offering potential partners the opportunity to "lock in their spots" now with a 10% deposit. Individuals "locking in" prior to April 1 receive a 5% discount on their total share(s). The balance is due April 30.

Since 2007 The Ocala Breeders' 2-year-old in-training sale has produced over 135 stakes winners, 15 of which are Graded Stakes winners, including Grade 1 winners Wicked Style, Blind Luck and 2009 champion 2-year-old filly She Be Wild.

For additional information or to secure your place in Pocket Aces Racing 2010 now, please contact Managing Partners Marc A. Wampler at (859) 312-6272 or Jared Shoemaker at (606) 922-9325 or email

Poll Shows Growing Support for Slots

A majority of Kentucky voters support slots at racetracks but an even larger number say voters, not state lawmakers, should have the final say on the issue, according to a new Courier-Journal/WHAS11 Bluegrass Poll. The automated phone survey, conducted Jan. 28-31 by SurveyUSA, shows that 59 percent of respondents favor slots at tracks while 37 percent oppose them. The margin of error on that question was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

This is the largest margin of support for gambling in a Bluegrass Poll since 2002.

However, 85 percent want the issue put to a vote rather than left to the General Assembly to implement; only 13 percent think the legislature should act unilaterally.

Gov. Steve Beshear included $780 million from expanded gambling in his two-year budget proposed last month but the measure was swiftly sidelined by Democrats and Republicans alike.

A separate bill, sponsored by Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, that would put a constitutional amendment allowing slots on the ballot for November has been on hold in a Senate committee for lack of bipartisan support. Horse industry leaders have said they oppose the bill because it would not guarantee that casinos go to racetracks and because they would face expensive campaigns to win statewide and local approval.

While 64 percent of the poll’s respondents think gambling will help state revenue, respondents were more ambivalent on what they think expanded gambling would do for Kentucky’s horse industry, which is in economic trouble. Only 43 percent said slots would help the horse industry; 18 percent said expanded gambling would hurt and 37 percent said it would have no impact.
- Janet Patton