Irish War Cry ‘A Real Head-Scratcher’ In Fountain Of Youth Disappointment

by | 03.05.2017 | 2:24pm
Irish War Cry breezes at Palm Meadows on Feb. 25, preparing for the Fountain of Youth

Previously undefeated Irish War Cry, who won the Holy Bull in impressive fashion, appeared well Sunday morning following his disappointing seventh-place finish as the even-money favorite in the Fountain of Youth, trainer Graham Motion said.

“Really, he seems fine. I have no issues with him,” he said. “He seemed to cool out fine and he looked good this morning. It's a real head-scratcher.”

Able to get away on an uncontested lead in his front-running Holy Bull triumph, Isabelle de Tomaso's New Jersey homebred sat behind multiple stakes-winning pacesetter Three Rules through fractions of 23.43 seconds for the quarter-mile, 47.18 for a half and 1:12.37 for six furlongs under jockey Joel Rosario before fading on the turn for home.

The chestnut son of Hall of Famer Curlin, who won twice at Laurel Park as a 2-year-old including the Marylander Stakes, wound up seven lengths behind 191-1 long shot Quinientos, beaten a total of 21 ¾ lengths.


“The one thing I blame myself for perhaps is not telling Joel he should have taken a hold of him and taken him back. I think to compete in these races, at some point you've got to be able to be adaptable to different scenarios. This horse, if he's going to compete at this level, he's got to be able to relax,” Motion said. “I think it was a combination of maybe laying a little too close to a pretty good pace on what was a drying-out, cuppy racetrack and maybe just regressing off his last race when he ran such a big race.”

Motion said he hadn't initially targeted the Fountain of Youth following the Holy Bull but the way Irish War Cry had done in the four weeks since convinced him to take a shot rather than wait for the Florida Derby.

“I certainly considered not running him yesterday,” Motion said. “From a handicapping point of view, he jumped so far forward in the Holy Bull there was every opportunity he was going to regress in this race but I felt that his regression would still be good enough to be very competitive, and he certainly trained so well I had no reason to think that he couldn't run on Saturday. He was in such great form in everything he'd done since the Holy Bull.

“It's easy to be an armchair quarterback the next day and second-guess your decisions,” he added. “The good thing is right now he seems to be in good shape.”

Motion did not rule out the Florida Derby but hinted he was more likely to give Irish War Cry more time heading into his next start.

“I've got to sit on him for a couple of weeks and see where we're at. My instant gut reaction is I would have a hard time running this horse back in four weeks off of that kind of a race,” he said. “I don't want to make a hasty decision. Whatever the decision, he's not going anywhere for a couple of weeks. I'll keep him down here while we try to figure out the next step.”

  • Sampan

    Despite having a top trainer and jockey, plus a good position in the race,
    he lost by over 22 lengths. The races will get tougher from here on in.
    I don’t see him as a solid Ky Derby contender.

  • Bev

    THIS is a great horse. AND has proved it over and over. Falling back to 22nd doesn’t shock me. THIS happens. Horses do need a break. Before the KY Derby…..let him turn out and have that break. We saw that with Chrome. When he took second…..time for REAL R&R back at the farm. THEN he came back like a powerhouse and won DWC. All I see is Irish War Cry saying…..please, who am I…..what am I….I need a break. Before he goes sour all together. He’s too young to sour. Just needs a break is all. Really.

    • Whynotwest

      This is ridiculous. The horse has had four career starts…four.

    • Joey Seay

      Yeah… This isn’t the time to be picking daisies… This horse needs work, big time.. He ran a good race in the Holy Bull, but he’s got a ways to go.

    • mikel


  • Flint King

    Another front runner.. if he doesn’t learn how to rate he is a complete toss-out for the classics

    • Carla Parrillo

      Why is it upbtobthevhirse to know how to rate. They know they are competing and want to be _(an instinct that comes down from and for as long as horses have exeisted)the leader of the herd. Pedigree, thoroughbred, wild, quarters, mustang whatever, over the centuries that’s what horses believe they should do. When they became tamed, bred, blood horse bo rn and so on they were taught how to follow a rider or owner to give out what they they were taught, to control what they always knew. I think I am making my point clear.
      Now, they train, and learn and prove their intelligence as they team up with a great rider. Don criticise a new horse. Speed is all he knows. The point is he needs to control some speed and learn how to control that speed. There will be more races where he will find himself passed by on the Trac,of he never reserves some energy and peak where it counts. He is fast, even controlling his pace he will proabably still be fast, and faster the most. Do you think even IWC can’t tire out. He is young and learning. They stated he is a fast learner. I believe he will get it.

  • Zanytactics

    Peaked too soon. Done for the TC series.

  • Michael Castellano

    I have always felt that the TC circuit has ruined countless horses. They are trained for three brutally difficult races in which they must run their very best and must have won or run well in a series of preps to even qualify. They will never again face such intense competition over a relatively short period. Yet if we followed the real maturing patterns of thoroughbreds, this circuit would be better handled by four year olds. It will never be changed, however. The breeding industry is too powerful to allow racing to take a second look at this practice.

    • Rusty Shackelford

      This from the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS supporter, the ANTI AMERICAN, and now bashing our SPORT OF KINGS….. Boy you one bitter jerk who knows it all….

    • Carla Parrillo

      I have to agree here. I really have limited knowledge of how such go but this is the closest I hsve followed the prep races. I honestly did not know last year this is what they were.
      What I see and seem to be pointed out here is the physical, and I’m sure, emotional stress is being put on these horses. They must be so burnt out by the time the K D ARRIVES HERE to the T C. So what should change. Is their too much emphasis on the point system along with high purses. I think the horses are just overworked before these three races are finally here. I know the three year old limit is for sure a huge factor. So many adjustments could necessary for the sake of these horses.
      …and why do 5yr & 6yr old’s have to retire because They stand to prepare for the studdinh barn. Once the events with this is met. Why shoudn’t they keep racing! I don’t think they forget what they were trained to do.
      Maybe the K D, PRKNS, & TC should try a new approach to these races, MAYBE, two age categories should race and prizes go to the winner in both races.
      That would take the emphasis off the 3yr old protocol.

    • Barry C

      Great post -and I really look forward to these races each year. It is the only excitement in the game from an outside perspective. I don’t live near a track, don’t own and the races are never on REGULAR TV anymore, thus, it is NOT in my life as it was growing up just outside of Delaware Park.
      Those days, my grandfather would take me and we would wait for the occasional guy to show up with a briefcase full of cash to dump on a favorite (show bet). If there was even a hint of him running off the board we would 5 to show on every other horse. Funny to see a tote board with Win : 18.00 Place 12.60 and SHOW 240.00.
      But, it happened, I seen it…
      Or the little old lady that would walk around and ask everyone for a TIP… “do you know who is going to win this one” She was great and always bought me a pretzel.. :) As with everything these days, it is about the MONEY, not the feel, or excitement, or HONOR…
      To the point : Every year I see 20 horses and of those, 10 could win it and those 10 could be special. Yet, only one wins, 3 or 4 go on and the other 7 – 10 that were good, or very good horse seem lucky to win a 150K stakes race 2 years later. Sad but true… They are just pushed too hard too early and I think it degenerates their proper growth. All for really, that one race, a race that is beyond the scope or breeding of 18 of those in the race and the ones bred for that distance are usually slower maturing and should not be running 1 1/4 miles at barely 3 years old.
      It is a history thing and breaking the 3 week gap, or removing the god awful 1 1/2 mile race is just too costly financially for the industry. Too bad…

  • Marvin Gardens

    Would definitely take him off the KD trail off of that race and map out a path to the Haskell.

  • Rusty Shackelford

    The horse has only 4 starts and his retirement is being called for??? No need to jump off band wagon just yet, one bad race does not make a career. After his next start then the new write ups will be proclaiming him the next Triple Crown winner…. LMAO Good to read all the new people to the Sport Of Kings bases on these jump off the wagon write ups because of one bad race. Too funny…..

  • BeastBob

    Maybe it is the Lasix effect. His first 2 races without Lasix (on 11/11/16 and 12/31/16) he earned BSF 83 for both. 2 months later on Lasix for the first time his BSF jumped to 97 (at this time it looked like maturity was the cause). But then this race 63 BSF (easing after the first 4f); if he had been pushed another 2f, his BSF for the first 6f would have been around 83.

  • Al Milano

    A nice New Jersey bred tried to keep up with a really good Florida bred and we are surprised at the result?

  • Audrey Gulla

    Barring some sort of injury it seems Irish War Cry just needs some extra time off. He is after all simply a flesh & blood horse. He was something to behold in the Holy Bull! I truly hope the pundits aren’t cruel with this loss.

    • Horse Whisper

      Well seeing as how they where cruel with Classic Empire’s loss in the Holy Bull and him having an excuse for the poor performance whereas Irish War Cry doesn’t seem to have one it’s hard to think they won’t be

      • Audrey Gulla

        Unfortunately I know you’re right. You think I’d be used to this kind of thing after following Nyquist’s career! And then lo & behold it seemed so many couldn’t even give CE any slack for a foot abscess!…..and he still finished 3rd!!
        You & I will have to develop thicker skins cause there are some out there that can’t/won’t accept anything but absolute perfection!

  • JustJoe

    After getting dusted in a few more races he will be an 80-1 filler in the Haskell.

  • Mark Cone

    I love the know it alls proclaiming IWC done. So very typical of today’s short term thinkers/gimme gimme/I want everything right this second generation. Pulling him back off three rules completely confused him and he is a stubborn colt. IWC has the Buckpasser X factor gene-combined with his natural speed he needs to be allowed to simply “go”. I remember Hard Spun needing the lead and he had a trenthfius career. Why rate? Gunnevera doesn’t rate-he closes. Are you going to try and change gunnevera’s style if he loses a slow fraction race? Of course not…because it will confuse him and break his rhythm. Let IWC run his race and see how much stamina he has and let this 3yr old class of closers try and catch him at the wire.

    • Mark Cone

      Terrific career for hard Spun-not trenthfius

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