NYRA Bets Presents Derby Countdown: Names, Numbers And Feet?

by | 05.04.2018 | 2:30pm
Audible training at Churchill Downs

By now we know the stories going into the 2018 Kentucky Derby, but as per Paulick Report tradition, we want to get to know the field by the numbers, too. Here are a few statistical points that may (or may not) influence your rooting interests–

  • This is an especially strong year for sale horses. Fifteen of this year's field were sold at public auction, while just five are homebreds. Of the 15 auction horses, 13 were sold as yearlings. My Boy Jack was the cheapest, hammering at $20,000 at the Keeneland September sale. This year's field has two seven-figure horses: Mendelssohn, who cost $3 million at Keeneland September, and Good Magic, who was $1 million at the same sale.
  • Though the majority of Derby runners this year are by six-figure stallions, there are a few standouts for the economy breeder, including Firenze Fire (Poseidon's Warrior, $6,500) and Noble Indy (Take Charge Indy, $17,500).
  • This year's Derby leaderboard reflects an increasing trend towards syndicates and partnerships between top owners: seven of the 20 entries have multiple ownership.
  • My Boy Jack comes in with the most race experience of any other horse, with 10 career starts, while Justify has the least with three. Big Brown is the only horse in the past 20 years to win the Derby with less than four career starts beforehand.
  • Historically, the Florida Derby has been the most successful prep race, which bodes well for Audible, with the Blue Grass (Good Magic) and Champagne (Firenze Fire) runner-ups with 23 winners each.
  • This year, Magnum Moon will try to break the cure of Apollo, the last horse who won the roses without having made a juvenile start. Since 1937, 61 horses have tried and failed to break the curse.
  • The Derby has been won 22 times in wire-to-wire style. Magnum Moon, Mendelssohn, Justify, Flameaway, and Promises Fulfilled have all won races in this fashion previously. Only eight horses have ever won the Derby last-to-first; Bolt d'Oro, Solomini, and Firenze Fire have all won races after being last at some point of the call.
  • Was that a drop? If the weather should turn rainy Saturday, history suggests eight horses will keep their form. Enticed, Justify, Flameaway, My Boy Jack, Lone Sailor, and Firenze Fire have all won on off tracks. Free Drop Billy and Combatant have run on off tracks, both finishing second.
  • Noble Indy, Bravazo, and Lone Sailor all come in with slightly longer rest periods than their competitors: the Derby will mark 42 days for each of them since their last start. Animal Kingdom is the only horse since 1956 to have longer than 35 days' rest going into the race.
  • Six trainers in Derby history have won the race in back-to-back years: Herbert J. Thompson, Ben Jones, Jimmy Jones, Lucien Laurin, D. Wayne Lukas, and Bob Baffert. Todd Pletcher will try to add his name to the list with Magnum Moon, Audible, Noble Indy, or Vino Rosso.

What Do Their Names Mean?
By Chelsea Hackbarth
Here are the meanings behind the names of some of the 2018 Kentucky Derby contenders:

  • Audible – Though the colt is now being associated with the audibobook company Audible, he was originally named for the American football term describing the way a quarterback switches a play “on the fly”
  • Bolt d'Oro – His name is a combination of that of his sire, Medaglia d'Oro, and the human world champion sprinter Usain Bolt
  • Combatant – The name of this colt's dam is “Border Dispute”
  • Free Drop Billy – Named for a family friend of the Albaughs, “Billy,” who took too many free drops while playing golf
  • Firenze Fire – Firenze is the name for the city of Florence in Italian
  • Good Magic – The name of this colt's dam is “Glinda the Good,” as in, Glinda the good witch
  • Hofburg – Named for the Vienna palace and the surrounding neighborhood which is the residence of the President of Austria
  • Mendelssohn – Named for the German composer Felix Mendelssohn
  • Noble Indy – His name combines those of his parents: sired by “Take Charge Indy,” this colt's dam was “Noble Maz”
  • Promises Fulfilled – Owner Robert Baron named this colt for three things: his 44 years of marriage to his childhood sweetheart, the fulfillment of raising his own children and watching them raise theirs, and a promise trainer Dale Romans made him, that some day they'd “have a good one”
  • Solomini – Named for Justin Zayat's nephew, Solomon (the “mini-Solomon”)
  • Vino Rosso – A chestnut, this colt's name translates to “red wine” in Italian

Breeder Of Flameaway Says Colt Has “It Factor”
By Chelsea Hackbarth

From one of just six mares Deborah Holmes bred in 2014, Flameaway has made the lineup for this year's Kentucky Derby. Adding to the excitement from that very same crop, Ontario-bred Silent Sting is poised to make a run at the most prestigious race in Canada, the Queen's Plate.

But wait, there's more.

One filly might not be making as big a splash as the two colts, but you wouldn't know it by looking at her. Starresha has drawn international attention for her beautifully painted coat, dotted with an impressive mixture of white and light brown clusters of hair.

“She's my little walk on the wild side,” laughed Holmes. “That's three famous babies out of six. I don't have million-dollar mares, so I do all this on a normal budget; I'm a part-time accountant.”

Both Flameaway and Silent Sting were foaled in Ontario. Flameaway's dam was a $20,000 purchase at the 2012 Keeneland November sale; the daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus won just one race in her seven-start career.

Breeder Deborah Holmes gets her picture taken in the Del Mar paddock while Flameaway parades in the background for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf

“Right from the beginning, I knew Flame was going to be special,” Holmes said of the son of Scat Daddy. “He had the 'IT' factor, and he was so big we nick-named him Hercules. His attitude just said, 'Hey, look at me.'”

Flameaway brought $150,000 as a short yearling at the Keeneland January sale, and was re-sold to John Oxley for $400,000 at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga Sale in August. The 3-year-old colt has now won five of his seven starts to earn just over $430,000.

Holmes has a half-brother to Flameaway by Flat Out, and one of her advisors has secured a foal-share to Tapit for the mare during the 2018 breeding season.

Silent Sting has a much more emotional back story. In that funny way life has of bringing things full circle, the colt's dam Mona Mia was actually bred by John Oxley. Holmes bred the daughter of Monarchos to Ghostzapper and got multiple stakes-winner Haunted Heroine. It was the cover by Scat Daddy, though, that really showed Mona Mia's potential. Her 2012 filly brought $100,000 at the Keeneland September sale the next year. Named Celestine, that filly went on to become a Grade 1 winner.

Mona Mia had a daughter in 2014, but the filly died shortly after birth because of a virus. Silent Sting was her 2015 foal, but about a month before his birth Mona Mia was diagnosed with melanomas around the base of her tail. Holmes and her team of advisors decided to wait to treat her, but they couldn't have known about the mare's internal tumors. When she entered labor, some of those tumors burst and she went into extreme distress. Silent Sting had to be delivered via caesarian section.

“She was such a classy mare; everywhere she went, people just loved her,” Holmes said. “It was devastating. I cried again just reading (Jennifer Morrison's story at woodbineracetrack.com).”

The colt, nicknamed Caesar (for caesarian), was sired by Frank Stronach's Silent Name, the Japanese-bred son of Sunday Silence. Again, the circle continued as Stronach purchased the yearling Silent Sting for $150,000 at Keeneland.

Now Silent Sting has won three of five starts, including the Kingarvie Stakes at the end of his 2-year-old season and the Queeston Stakes this April. Holmes insists she won't miss any of his starts at Woodbine this year.

Her husband Barry Holmes races the couple's horses under his own name, including Starresha. In his years of marriage to Deborah, Barry has grown to enjoy the racing part of the game.

“He didn't have the patience for it early on, because he saw it as taking time away from the two of us,” she explained. “Now, we're doing it together. We take trips to Ontario and to Kentucky multiple times a year, and we plan a whole vacation around it with activities both for him and for me. He has even learned enough about pedigrees for me to bounce ideas off of him when breeding season comes around.”

Since 2007, Holmes has bred 28 horses of racing age. Six are stakes winners, eight have made more than $100,000 on the track, and a total of 13 have won maiden special weight races at major racetracks. Not bad at all.

“There are breeders who pay millions and millions of dollars to have horses who might make it to the Classics,” said Holmes. “It's amazing that I could have two this year, and I can tell you I've not spent anywhere near that!”

What Are Those White Stripes On Audible's Feet?
By Natalie Voss
If you've been keeping an eye on the many photos and video coming out of Churchill Downs this week, you may have spied a pair of white stripes across the toes of Todd Pletcher trainee Audible. 

No worries, says Pletcher farrier Ray Amato Jr. All is well.

Ray Amato Jr. smoothes the Equilox on a horse's hoof while Ray Amato Sr. looks on

Audible suffers from shelly hoof walls, which means the layers of fingernail-like material that make up his hooves are thin and more inclined to chip or crack. As with humans, there can be variability between individual horses in this regard, in addition to variability between breeds.

Amato uses a product called Equilox to reinforce the nails holding Audible's shoes on.

“I actually do that for protection,” he said. “Horses bathe, horses walking to the track, horses ponying, they'll step on each other. And that's all you have to do. Against the weight of a horse, the nail isn't going to hold the shoe on. It's like a buffer.”

Equilox is a type of very strong glue which can be used to attach glue-on shoes, seal in medications, and patch quarter cracks or other hoof injuries. It can also act as a sort of super-strong putty if a farrier needs to reconstruct the foot, but as such, it needs some extra attention.

Amato's task earlier this week was to refine the bits of Equilox on Audible's heels.

“That was just a quick fix to go to the track,” Amato said. “You want it nice and smooth and you want to open the heels up. When you first apply it, you bend it around and mold it, and then you take off what you don't need, so that's what I was doing. I wanted his heels to open and close [with concussion.]”

The material comes in a jar and is mixed with an activating ingredient before applying to the foot. Once it dries, farriers may need to rasp or sand around the edges of a patch of material to remove excess or soften corners.  

“There's a lot of different applications for it,” said Amato. “Sometimes horses don't like nails, so you can glue shoes on. Sometimes it's to make a horse's foot what God didn't give them. I can really do what I want to do with it. I can make a perfect foot out of a bad one. I can open the horse's feet up and make them bigger to distribute the pounds per square inch when he lands.”

Pedigree Corner
By Ray Paulick

Each day this week, I've taken a look at the pedigrees of four Kentucky Derby starters. On Monday, we looked at the horses at the bottom of the leaderboard, numbers 17 through 20. Tuesday it was horses listed at 13 through 16. Wednesday it was horses listed 9 through 12. Thursday it was horses listed 5 through 8, Today, Pedigree Corner examines the top four on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard by points earned in official Road to the Kentucky Derby races.

NOBLE INDY (4): A $45,000 buyback at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, NOBLE INDY's siblings have not been auction stars, either. An older half-sister topped out at $30,000 as a yearling and a young half-sister was a $10,000 yearling who was RNAed for $110,000 as a 2-year-old in March. NOBLE INDY, who's won 3 of 4 starts and earned $691,600, proved those numbers meaningless. Dam Noble Maz (by blue-collar sire Storm Boot, a son of Storm Cat) was a restricted stakes winner but there's not a lot of black type in the family until you get to fourth dam Impetuous Gal, Grade 2 Matron Handicap winner who produced G1 winner and graded stakes producer Banker's Lady. NOBLE INDY is from the first crop of Take Charge Indy, a son of A.P. Indy and the outstanding racemare and producer Take Charge Lady, who also produced freshman sire and champion Will Take Charge. Hard to sugarcoat the fact Take Charge Indy was exported to Korea in 2016, but WinStar Farm has the option to buy him back and return him to the U.S. if there are more like NOBLE INDY waiting in the woods.

AUDIBLE (3):  Sold twice by Fasig-Tipton, first for $175,000 at the Saratoga yearling sale for New York-breds and then for $500,000 at the FT Gulfstream Select Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. Sire Into Mischief (a half brother to four-time champion Beholder and to Derby contender Mendelssohn) was a G1 winner of the CashCall Futurity at 1 1/16 miles but is best known to sire top-class sprinters and milers like two-time G1 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Goldencents. AUDIBLE was produced from Blue Devil Bel, a mare by G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Gilded Time, himself sired by good sprinter/miler Timeless Moment. Blue Devil Bel kicked around bottom level claiming ranks, winning mostly at sprint distances. The pedigree spells M-I-L-E-R but Elliott Walden purchased AUDIBLE for $500,000 on behalf of WinStar Farm and China Horse Club, thinking he had the look of a classic runner.

GOOD MAGIC (2): $1-million Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase by G1 Breeders' Cup Classic winner and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin. GOOD MAGIC is out of solid, stakes-winning mare Glinda the Good, by the Danzig sire Hard Spun (Hard Spun and Curlin finished second and third behind Street Sense in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, a race that also produced the outstanding sire Scat Daddy). Glinda the Good is a half-sister to five other stakes winners and three stakes-place horses, so GOOD MAGIC comes by his quality honestly.  Curlin is by the Mr. Prospector sire Smart Strike out of a Northern Dancer line mare. Glinda the Good is by a Northern Dancer line sire out of a mare produced from a daughter of Mr. Prospector's son Miswaki – an interesting pedigree juxtaposition filled with classic success.

MAGNUM MOON (1): Malibu Moon has previously sired Kentucky Derby winner Orb and MAGNUM MOON was produced from Dazzling Song, an unraced daughter of Unbridled's Song. The latter raced valiantly in the 1996 Kentucky Derby wearing a bar shoe to treat a quarter crack, winding up fifth as the favorite after fighting for the lead into the stretch. Unbridled's Song's sire, Unbridled, won the 1990 Kentucky Derby and contributes considerable to pedigrees. Dazzling Song is out of graded stakes winner Win McCool, a daughter of the recently deceased top-class racehorse and sire Giant's Causeway. 

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