Month: August 2018

A field of eight will go postward in the 13th running of the $200,000 Caesars Stakes during Indiana’s richest day of turf racing Wednesday, Sept. 5. The race, formerly known as the Centaur Stakes, will feature several horses with Graded Stakes experience, including Untamed Domain from the H. Graham Motion Stable.

Untamed Domain, owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, will seek the title in the $200,000 Caesars Stakes Wed. Sept. 5 at Indiana Grand. (Photo from West Point Thoroughbreds Website)

Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Untamed Domain completed a stellar freshman season last year with a second place finish in the Grade I $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar. The son of Animal Kingdom comes to Indiana off a closing effort in the Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park where he finished seventh. Untamed Domain has drawn post six and Jorge Vargas Jr. comes into ride the colt, who has nearly a half-million in career earnings.

Joining Untamed Domain as a major contender in the Caesar’s Stakes is the $1.5 million yearling purchase Curlin’s Honor from the Mark Casse barn. Owned by John Oxley and Breeze Easy LLC, Curlin’s Honor finished fourth in his most recent outing at Canterbury Park in the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby in late June. The royally bred chestnut son of Curlin has earned two wins and one second in five starts this season for more than $102,000 in purse earnings. Curlin’s Honor will be ridden by Julien Leparoux from post three in the one mile Caesar’s Stakes. (more…)

Trainer Kim Hammond is racing’s all-time leading female trainer with more than 2,200 career wins. She has operated a strong stable in the Midwest for more than two decades and part of that success is identifying horses that will be profitable for her owners. Saturday Tryst is one of those horses with more than $132,000 in career earnings. So, when his younger brother, Wrinch, moved into her barn earlier this year, she was hopeful the three-year-old would follow in the footsteps of Saturday Tryst.

Wrinch never gave up with Rodney Prescott aboard to win his second race of 2018. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

It only took a few weeks to detect different personalities in the half brothers. Saturday Tryst, who is by Any Given Saturday, is high spirited while Wrinch, who is by Girolamo, is more laid back. Although Hammond has a farm nearby and often shuttles horses in and out of her stable at Indiana Grand, one thing Saturday Tryst and Wrinch have in common is they are full-time residents of the backstretch at the track.

“Saturday Tryst can be hard to worth with and Wrinch is like an old pet,” said Hammond. “In fact, I had to make a difficult call to the owner (Henry Chau) about Wrinch. I told him his horse was the slowest one in the barn, but we would do the best we can with him.”

The Hammond Stable kept working with Wrinch and June 1, they got a big surprise as both Wrinch and Saturday Tryst won during the afternoon program, giving Hammond a training double on the day.

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It was a gate to wire effort for Surprise Prize and jockey Malcolm Franklin in the seventh round of the $30,000 Don K. Memorial Starter Handicap Wednesday, Aug. 29 at Indiana Grand. The duo covered the one mile distance over the dirt course in a time of 1:37.09.

Surprise Prize and Malcolm Franklin turned in a gate to wire effort to win the seventh round of the $30,000 Don K. Memorial Starter Handicap Wednesday, Aug. 29 at Indiana Grand. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Starting from the inside post one, Franklin had Surprise Prize ready for action as the Ray Kuwik starting gate opened for the series. The four-year-old chestnut gelding got the early lead and kept Crafty Spector and Fernando De La Cruz to his outside flank with Perfect Execution and Rodney Prescott also staying close in third. As the horses moved into the final turn, they began to attack the top three. Perfect Execution moved up to face Surprise Prize, who was still holding strong on the front end. The remainder of the field fanned out five wide heading into the stretch, hoping to catch the top two. However, Surprise Prize was too strong on the front, fending off the entire field for the win by one and one-quarter lengths over Perfect Execution. Altito and Ty Kennedy moved up for third.

“I got pretty lucky,” said Franklin. “I was hoping I could go out and get the lead and hold on and that’s what we did. I noticed in the first turn he acted like he was trying to pull himself up, but when that other horse came up on him, he took hold of me again. By the time we hit the backstretch, I had him figured out by then.” (more…)

It’s been a sweet ride for Owner Lance Finlinson of Greenwood, Ind. His horse, Rockys Candy Shop, scored another stakes victory Saturday, Aug. 25 at Indiana Grand, winning the 19th running of the $76,312 Quarter Horse Racing Association of Indiana (QHRAI) Stallion Service Auction (SSA) Derby. Guided by Jose Beltran, Rockys Candy Shop stopped the timer in :19.886 seconds for the 400-yard dash.

Rockys Candy Shop and Jose Beltran were gate to wire winners in the 19th running of the $76,312 QHRAI SSA Derby Sat. Aug. 25 at Indiana Grand. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

There was no doubt which horse got out of the gate quickest when the doors sprung open. Rockys Candy Shop had the sharpest foot from the center of the track and put Beltran in good positioning from the start. One of his biggest rivals in the race was his stablemate, Beach Mercedes, who broke on the outside with Sergio Ramirez aboard. Rockys Candy Shop turned all challengers away at the finish, winning by three-quarters of a length over Beach Mercedes for second. HQH Fancy Pants and Juan Galvan held their ground for third in the tight photo.

“He didn’t stand good in the gate in his trial and he didn’t break as good as he usually does,” said Beltran. “He broke in front tonight. He never quits. He stayed strong all 400 yards. I love to ride this horse.”

The win in the QHRAI SSA Derby was the sixth in 10 career outings for Rockys Candy Shop, who boosted his career earnings to nearly $150,000 with the win. The Fantastic Corona Jr gelding is trained by Randy Smith, Indiana Grand’s all-time leader in the trainer standings. Smith, who saddled three in the race, finished one-two.

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It was a big night for Indiana Grand’s all-time leading trainer Randy Smith as horses from his barn swept the Quarter Horse Racing Association of Indiana (QHRAI) Stallion Service Auction (SSA) Stakes. Fresh on the heels of his win with Rockys Candy Shop in the $76,312 QHRAI SSA Derby, Smith was back in the winner’s circle with WRs Valentino in the $169,274 QHRAI SSA Futurity.

WRs Valentino and Omar Reyes had the perfect timing to reach the wire a slim nose ahead of Pritty and Yordanis Amaro in the QHRAI SSA Futurity Saturday, Aug. 25 at Indiana Grand. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Almost all racing fans were looking toward the inside at the start of the 350-yard sprint, but few were looking at WRs Valentino. Instead, all eyes were focused on race favorite Pritty from post three, who has been a winner in three of four starts this season and has been dominant in each of those outings. WRs Valentino and jockey Omar Reyes broke to her inside out of the gate, and after some minor bumping, they were quick to catch up and stick close to the talented filly.

Midway through the race, Pritty and Yordanis Amaro began to move away from their opponents, but so did WRs Valentino. The two horses matched each other stride for stride and in the last steps. The son of Mighty B Valiant timed the wire just right, winning the race by a nose over Pritty. First Habits and Juan Galvan rallied from the outside to finish third.

“He (WRs Valentino) is really laid back and he acted good in the gate,” said Reyes, who flew in from Ruidoso Downs just to ride WRs Valentino. “A couple of horses moved and it helped him at the start. About three or four jumps in is when he really starts going. And, it always helps to be right next to a big runner.”

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The Antonio Duran Stable was honored Saturday, Aug. 25 as the “Barn Crew of the Month” sponsored by Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and Texas Corral of Shelbyville, Ind. The award was presented for the month of August at Indiana Grand.

Tony and Katie Duran (far left) were honored with “Barn Crew of the Month” Saturday, Aug. 25 after the fifth race of the night. Brian Elmore, executive director of the Indiana HBPA (far right) made the presentation and was assisted by race marketing interns Riley Golder and Brooke Kegebein. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Duran’s barn is kept very neat and orderly at all times, which caught the eye of the selection committee for “Barn Crew of the Month.” Duran has a solid crew working with his 24 horses on Indiana Grand’s backstretch to merit the honor.

“I have a very hard working crew, and they put up with me,” said a smiling Duran. “Nino (Hernandez) is the foreman of the barn and he never misses getting horses ready. They are all good workers and a great crew.”

The Duran Stable has six members currently overseeing operations at Indiana Grand. Members of the barn include Jose “Nino” Hernandez, Carlos Miranda, Jesus Dellas, Estevan Lara, Gustavo Doniz and Jeannette Hernandez.

Duran and his wife, Katie, an attorney in Indianapolis, race under the stable name Rancho Monarca. They are just one of several operations that have acquired land in Shelby County over the past five years, showing the economic impact Thoroughbred racing is having on the area surrounding Indiana Grand. The Durans have brood mares, weanlings and yearlings at their farm, just north of Shelbyville and at the conclusion of the meet at Indiana Grand in November, they will head to their winter base in Williston, Fla. (more…)

Each year, racing fans take a long look at WH Design By Dash, and doubts begin to swirl whether the now seven-year-old can still hang with the younger, talented group stepping up into the older Indiana bred ranks at Indiana Grand. However, time and time again, WH Design By Dash proves he should never be discounted, once again winning against a stellar field in the 10th running of the $87,200 Bob Woodard Memorial Classic Friday, Aug. 24.

WH Design By Dash rallies past his opponents in the Woodard Memorial Classic Friday, Aug. 24. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Starting from the outside post 10, WH Design By Dash was joined by Rodney Prescott for the first time and although he always looks a little slow out of the gate, it just takes the big sorrel gelding a few steps to get going. WH Kenny G and Sammy Mendez grabbed the early lead out of the gate, but it was a short lead as the entire field was in contention for most of the 400 yard dash, including Stinkin Rich and Shanley Jackson. Sicario and Santiago Mendez also vied for the early lead in the early stages. In the final yards, WH Design By Dash was rushing hard. It was just a matter of if he had enough racetrack left to catch the leaders and one final surge put him a nose ahead of WH Kenny G at the finish in :20.065 seconds. Sicario held gamely for third.

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Indiana’s richest day of turf racing will be highlighted with the 13th running of the $200,000-guaranteed Caesars Stakes (Listed), formerly known as the Centaur Stakes, set for Wednesday, Sept. 5. The race, which has been extended from one mile to one and one-sixteenth miles over the turf for the first time in 2018, has drawn nominations from 41 horses, 20 of which have Graded Stakes experience.

The $200,000-guaranteed Caesars Stakes (Listed) will run at a distance of one and one-sixteenth miles for the first time in the 13-year-history of the stakes Wednesday, Sept 5.

Golden Brown of the Patrick McBurney Stable is one of the many talented horses on the nomination list. The three-year-old son of Offlee Wild won the $200,000 Grade III Kent Stakes at Del Mar over the turf two starts back and returned for a fifth place finish in the Grade I $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park in late July. Golden Brown has won three of his seven starts for 2018 with earnings in excess of $230,000 thus far.

Joining Golden Brown on the nomination list for the Caesars Stakes is Combatant of the Steve Asmussen Stable. The Scat Daddy colt was on the Kentucky Derby trail earlier this year, finishing third in the Grade II Rebel Stakes and fourth in the Grade I Arkansas Derby before starting in the Grade I $2 million Kentucky Derby. More recently, he finished fifth in the Grade II $200,000 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga on the turf. (more…)

The Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) will host its third installment of “Grand Mornings at the Track” Saturday, Aug. 25 at Indiana Grand. The interactive breakfast, open to guests of all ages, begins at 9 a.m. with a free continental breakfast followed by guest speakers and a look behind the scenes at Indiana Thoroughbred racing.

Indiana HBPA’s “Grand Mornings at the Track” returns Saturday, Aug. 25 for the third installment of the breakfast series. The event will feature a trip to the starting gate and the new track maintenance facility. The event begins at 9 a.m.

The third session for the 2018 season will feature a trip to the starting gate during morning training hours. Guests will see horses up close that are preparing for upcoming races with their work in the starting gate. Starter Ray Kuwik will host the group at the gate, explaining the process and answering questions about his role as the starter at Indiana Grand.

“Grand Mornings at the Track” will also feature a trip to the new Track Maintenance facility, located on the backstretch at Indiana Grand. The $3.2 million state of the art area, which is longer than three football fields, now provides cover for all equipment utilized by the track maintenance department to prepare and care for both the dirt and turf courses. Roy Smith, track superintendent, will provide a tour of the area and will answer questions from the group. The session will conclude at approximately 10:30 a.m.

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Pritty has been turning heads all season at Indiana Grand. Trained by Ricardo Martinez, she won her trial for the Quarter Horse Racing Association of Indiana (QHRAI) Stallion Service Auction (SSA) Futurity by two and one-half lengths, making her the obvious choice to lead the field for the $169,274 final Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018 running at a distance of 350 yards.

Pritty and Yordanis Amaro were easy winners in the QHRAI SSA Futurity trials. They return as the favorites for the $169,274 final slated for Saturday, Aug. 25. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

After winning her maiden at Remington Park in April, Pritty burst onto the scene in Indiana with a commanding win in the Heartland Futurity trials to be favored for the final. Bad luck at the starting gate cost her valuable ground in the early stages, but she was still able to recover and finish a hard charging fourth.

Pritty returned for the QHRAI SSA Futurity trials and once again topped the list of qualifiers with a :17.568 time. The two-year-old chestnut daughter of Coronado Cartel returns as the favorite in the 19th running of the QHRAI SSA Futurity as the early choice at odds of 7-5. Yordanis Amaro will guide the standout from post three in the 10-horse final for trainer Ricardo Martinez, who saddles three for the final. In fact, qualifiers from the Martinez barn were the fastest three for the final with Nacho Binez and First Habits joining Pritty for the top three spots. (more…)