Tag: jennie rees

by Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award winning freelance writer

John Gunther’s Tiger Moth earned her first stakes victory, rallying late to take Indiana Grand’s $100,000 Mari Hulman George by 2 1/2 lengths over Mo d’Amour. Big World, a Grade 1 winner two races earlier who was the even-money favorite, finished another neck back third, with pacesetting Improv another two lengths back while nosing out the stakes’ 2016 winner Brooklynsway.

Tiger Moth and Florent Geroux begin their descent down the track en route to victory in the $100,000 Mari Hulman George Saturday, July 15 at Indiana Grand. (Photo by John Engelhardt)

The victory with a horse who paid $17.20 to win took some of the sting out of trainer Brad Cox finishing fourth in the Warrior Veterans a race earlier with strong favorite Chocolate Ride.

Four horses stretched across the track coming to mid-stretch, and that didn’t include Tiger Moth, who was a bit farther back. But the 5-year-old daughter of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense was charging hard on the far outside under Florent Geroux, blowing past to win comfortably while covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.32. 

“That was good,” Cox said, adding with a laugh, “There was no pressure with this one. But she ran well. I like this race. It set up really good for Call Pat two years ago. She just narrowly was beaten, it was a stepping stone. She went on to win three graded stakes. This was her first stakes win; she’s graded stakes-placed. This obviously will help her. She’s obviously got some pedigree (being by Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and out of the Sir Cat mare Saratoga Cat). This is a big win for her and the Gunthers.


by Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award winning freelance writer

James Graham shot up the hedge with 13-1 shot Beauly, holding off favored Linda for a victory in the $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff at Indiana Grand. It was the first stakes victory for Rebecca and Stephen Hillen’s 4-year-old filly, who was making her third start in the United States after racing last year in her native England.

Beauly rallies to the wire for the win in the $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff over the turf, the first of six stakes races on the card during Indiana Derby Night at Indiana Grand. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

 Beauly, a daughter of Sea The Stars, won one of seven starts overseas before taking her American debut off a seventh-month layoff in a first-level turf allowance race at Churchill Downs May 26. A month later she was fourth in another allowance race.

 “Jimmy gave her a fantastic ride,” said winning trainer Brendan Walsh, who is based in Kentucky. “It couldn’t have worked out any better. They (Rebecca and Stephen Hillen) bought her last December at Newmarket. They’re very good friends of mine, have been for a long time. He’s a bloodstock agent. They said she was plenty talented but that she was tricky mentally, that if we could get her right. She ran great at Churchill the first night (a May 26 allowance victory). The second night (June 28 allowance fourth-place finish) she got no cover, which wasn’t anybody’s fault. Tonight Jimmy dropped her out. They were going quick enough, got a lovely run up in the inside. She has a good kick. She’s obviously very talented. It’s great to get that done. I guess we’ll go for something bigger.”


By Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award Winning freelance writer


Don’t tell trainer Kenny McPeek that he’s swinging for the fences by running Brockton George in Saturday night’s $500,000 Indiana Derby. To hear the ever-confident McPeek lay out his thinking, running in Indiana Grand’s signature stakes is more like a well-timed bunt.

Brockton George enjoys a bath following a workout at Churchill Downs. (Photo by Jennie Rees)

Never mind that Brockton George hasn’t raced in 7 1/2 months. And that was only his second start, coming in a mile maiden race on grass at Churchill Downs. McPeek has always been extremely high on the colt, a son of the late Harlan’s Holiday, with whom the trainer won the 2002 Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes.

“I don’t agree,” he said when it was suggested he was going for some serious power-hitting in this spot. “There’s one top horse in the race. Irap’s a good horse, no question, but he broke his maiden in the Blue Grass. Good horses will handle any jump. That’s not the problem. The problem is that the horse unfortunately had a little setback in January. When it happened, it was like, ‘Darn, there goes my best 3-year-old.’ He’s easily the most talented.”


by Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award winning freelance writer


Wild Shot is no wild shot in Saturday’s $500,000 Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand. Never mind his seventh-place finish in his last start, when he lost Belmont Park’s Grade 2 Woody Stephens by 16 lengths. 


Wild Shot, shown winning the Pat Day Mile, looks to get back on track in the Indiana Derby Saturday, July 15. (Photo by Coady Photography)

Trainer Rusty Arnold is not predicting that Calumet Farm’s son of Trappe Shot will win the 23rd running of Indiana’s richest Thoroughbred horse race. But he thinks Wild Shot has an outstanding chance if he replicates his four-length victory in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Wild Shot went off at 8-1 that day, the same as his morning-line odds for the Indiana Derby.

 “He’s got a lot of talent,” the Keeneland-based Arnold said by phone. “We’re not sure of his distance limitations yet. His two races as a 2-year-old that maybe made you think he didn’t want a distance, heck, he got beat by the champion 2-year-old (Classic Empire) in Breeders’ Futurity and then McCraken beat him at Churchill. He beat everybody but them.”


Colonelsdarktemper (inside) and Jon Court rally home for a win at Churchill Down in late May. (Photo by Coady Photography)


by Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award Winning freelance writer


Of course trainer Jinks Fires was going to point Colonelsdarktemper toward Saturday’s $500,000 Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand.

 For instance, there was a nice race for 3-year-olds last week at Prairie Meadows, the $250,000 Iowa Derby. But A.J. Foyt Jr.’s legend as the world’s greatest race driver — as Sports Illustrated declared him in 1981 — wasn’t fashioned by winning the Iowa Corn 300. Once the Foyt-owned Colonelsdarktemper finished second in Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes won by the highly-regarded McCraken, it was a no-brainer to point the colt to the signature race at the track located 33 miles — a mere 13 laps around Indianapolis Motor Speedway — from the home of the fabled Indianapolis 500.


By Jennie Rees, Eclipse award winning freelance writer

Trainer Steve Asmussen and owner Mike Langford are waiting for their 3-year-old colt Untrapped to come up with a signature victory. Saturday’s $500,000, Grade 3 Indiana Derby would be an excellent time.

Untrapped galloped out after his final work at Churchill Downs Monday, July 10 to prepare for the Indiana Derby Saturday, July 15. (Photo by Jennie Rees)

Untrapped won on his second attempt last November at Churchill Downs, but in six stakes appearances since, he has two seconds and pair of thirds. His out-of-the-money starts were a sixth in the Arkansas Derby in what proved a one-race experiment with blinkers and 12th in the Kentucky Derby.

“He’s a talented horse. He’s had a lot of adjustments this year, starting off with being stuck in quarantine in New Orleans,” Asmussen said, referring to horses being restricted to the Fair Grounds after an outbreak of equine herpes virus. “So you start off your year not getting to do exactly what you want. He’s had a productive year, but we’ve not seen the best of him.

“We need to get into a good rhythm with him. I thought he ran solid in the Ohio Derby. I didn’t think the race unfolded ideally for him, and he still ran on valiantly. I think he’s capable of a better trip than he got on multiple occasions this year, and when it comes together he’s going to win a good race.”


Watchyourownbobber and Luis Saez were one of the first ones mentioned out of the gate and they were the first ones mentioned at the finish during the eighth running of the $100,000-added Warrior Veterans (Listed) Stakes at Indiana Grand. The race was one of six stakes on the card featuring the Grade II $500,000-added Indiana Derby, making purses in excess of $1 million for the night.

Starting from post five, Saez wasted no time getting Watchyourownbobber out of the gate, getting good positioning in the center of the pack before opting to let Big Changes and Shaun Bridgmohan move up the inside heading into the turn and sitting second on the outside. Watchyourownbobber seemed comfortable amidst contenders through early fractions of :22.68, :47.06 and 1:11.02.

Around the turn, several horses saving up strength for the stretch drive began to emerge as contenders for the lead. Watchyourownbobber put his head down and dug in. The four-year-old son of Hard Spun dug in gamely and was able to emerge as the leader by two lengths at the top of the stretch in the one and one-sixteenth mile turf race. Thatcher Street and Brian Hernandez Jr. were able to split horses in the turn from fifth, but they could not catch Watchyourownbobber, who crossed under the finish line by one and one-quarter lengths ahead of Conquest Typhoon and Julien Leparoux, who nipped Thatcher Street at the wire by a nose for second.

Saez felt comfortable and confident of his horse throughout the race. He felt he had a lot of horse left for the stretch drive.


By Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award-winning freelance writer


If all 12 start, this will be the largest Indiana Derby field ever. Here we take a look at the pros and cons of betting each horse:


Post 1 – Discreet Lover (jockey Jose Flores, trainer Uriah St. Lewis, owner Trin-brook Stables)

Pros: Philadelphia shipper has been knocking at the door, including finishing third in the Ohio Derby at 87-1 odds. He’s been working very well and could pull off the upset if there’s a hot pace.

Cons: Other closers are faster than he is. His 1-for-13 record doesn’t inspire confidence as far as hitting winners circle, though he has four seconds and two thirds.


Post 2 – Cherry Wine (jockey Luis Saez, trainer Dale Romans, owners William Pacella, Frank Jones and Frank Shoop)

Pros: No other horse in the field ran in the Triple Crown, and he finished second in the Preakness, beating Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. His 100 BRIS speed figure in the Preakness tops the field.

Cons: Finishing seventh in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont might have taken some starch out of him. He needs a fast pace up front, which is no sure thing.


By Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award-winning freelance writer


Cherry Wine, the tepid 5-2 favorite over 3-1 Cupid for Saturday’s $500,000 Indiana Derby, has yet to win a stakes. But trainer Dale Romans has no doubt his  colt belong with the best of this 3-year-old crop.

“Yes. He was second in the Preakness and he beat the Kentucky Derby winner,” Romans said, referring to Nyquist. “He definitely, so far, until he shows different, belongs in this group.”

While Romans has won bigger races than the Indiana Derby, winning the 1 1/16-mile stakes would be extra special because of his long-time association with co-owners and breeders Frank Jones of Louisville and William Pacella of Chicago. Plus, Romans trained Cherry Wine’s mother and grandmother and also his sire, Paddy O’Prado, third in the 2010 Kentucky Derby and who proved a superior grass horse.

“To win a big race for Frank and the Pacellas would be good,” he said. “They’ve been two of our biggest clients, Frank has been around my entire life, with my father (the late trainer Jerry Romans Sr.) and now me, and the Pacellas have been with me the last 20 years. They’ve had some decent horses, but it’s time to step up and win a big race for them with a colt. They’ve had a Grade I filly, but it would be nice to do it with a colt and a home-bred. I trained his mother and his grandmother and his father. He’s like part of the family.”

Romans, who ranks No. 2 all-time in wins at Churchill Downs behind Hall of Famer Bill Mott, has never won the Indiana Derby, though he was second in 2011 with Preakness winner Shackleford when the race was held at Hoosier Park and run in the fall.


By Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award-winning freelance writer   Indiana’s Horse of the Year will be on display during Indiana Grand’s showcase card Saturday night. Trainer Anthony Granitz just doesn’t know in which Indiana Grand stakes. Lady Fog Horn is accomplished on turf and dirt and was entered in both the $100,000 Mari Hulman George on […]