It would have been a much grimmer week for Starlight Racing, if not for the promise of what’s ahead.
After the owners patiently waited seven months for Algorithms, one of the top Kentucky Derby prospects this spring, to recover from a splint injury, the undefeated son of Bernardini was retired on Monday after the same injury was aggravated during a routine workout.
Starlight and trainer Todd Pletcher were looking foward to racing Algorithms as a 4-year-old next year, and had hoped to run in the Grade I Cigar Mile before the end of 2012.
Now, they’re exploring offers to sell him as a stallion prospect, and co-managing partner Don Lucarelli of Duanesburg said they expect to make a deal by next week.
“I wish we were doing this a year from now,” Lucarelli said on Friday. “The blessing is that the horses we still have are showing some talent. We have nine in this [current 2-year-old] crop, and it looks like probably three of them are serious horses. That’s a hell of a hit rate.”
The most serious of those, for now, is Hopeful and Champagne winner Shanghai Bobby, the likely morning-line favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.
He’s scheduled for his penult-imate breeze at Belmont Park this weekend, but it may be pushed to Monday because of all the rain Belmont took on Friday.
Algorithms retired with three victories, the last of which was the Grade III Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park.
He beat 2-year-old champion Hansen by five lengths, along with My Adonis, Fort Loudon, Silver Max and Consortium that day, and was the morning-line favorite for the Grade II Fountain of Youth, but was scratched the day of the race.
Surgery to repair the broken splint bone and the necessary rest and recovery wiped out his spring and summer and most of his fall, but the connections were optimistic that they could get Algorithms back to form.
“He was one of the best 3-year-olds I have worked with,” Pletcher said in a Starlight release. “We had such great expectations of him last winter. It’s a disappointment, but he should have a great career ahead of him as a stallion.”
“It’s very disappointing,” co-managing partner Jack Wolf said. “Unfortunately, it’s part of the game. He’s a wonderful colt, and being a son of Bernardini, he should move on to a promising stud career. Due to his top and bottom side, and his physical attributes, we’ve received a significant level of interest.”
Bernardini is the leading third-crop sire of 2012, and Algorithms’ dam, Ava Knowsthecode, has produced five stakes winners, including Justin Phillip, Keyed Entry and Successful Mission.
Based on initial inquiries, it looks like Algorithms will stay in North America for stud duty, probably in Kentucky, Lucarelli said.
“He has the combination of the way he ran his races and a very good pedigree, and he looks the part,” he said. “He’s huge now, he’s 16.2 [hands]. Todd knows what he had on the track, and the Holy Bull was a sample of it, and he’s from a hot sire and a high-quality black-type mare.”
Algorithms’ retirement is the latest of three careers ended prematurely by injury for Starlight since 2010.
Position Limit was a very promising filly, after winning the Adirondack at Saratoga in 2010, then never raced again.
Hilda’s Passion was one of the leading contenders for the female sprint Eclipse Award last year, but suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture while winning the Grade I Ballerina at Saratoga. She missed the Breeders’ Cup and did not win the year-end championship.
Looking forward, though, they have Shanghai Bobby, and two other good-looking 2-year-olds are the colt Park City, a debut winner at Saratoga, and the unraced filly Comare. Two other colts, Saratoga debut winner Lawn Man and Rose Junction, a disappointing eighth in the Sanford, are recovering from injuries at Palm Meadows in Florida.
Shanghai Bobby will stay in New York for his final breeze next weekend, then fly with some of Pletcher’s other horses, including Dreaming of Julia and perhaps Kauai Katie, in the middle of the week before the Breeders’ Cup.
“Unfortunately, the better ones have a tendency to do more than probably they should,” Lucarelli said. “Shanghai Bobby, he’s a sound horse right now. Six months from now? You never know.”
Starlight has one terrific Breeders’ Cup prospect; busy trainer Chad Brown seems to have half a barnful of them.
Brown hustled from Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., where he saddled Dayatthespa to victory in the Queen Elizabeth II last Saturday, to Woodbine in Toronto to saddle Dream Peace in the Grade I E.P. Taylor on Sunday, where she was a good third to Siyouma.
Neither Dayatthespa nor Dream Peace is headed to the BC, but the Mechanicville native made a pit stop between Lexington and Toronto in New York to watch someone who is, Awesome Feather, as she worked five furlongs on the main track at Belmont Park Sunday morning.
The undefeated 4-year-old filly heads a group of at least five and as many as seven horses that Brown will send to Santa Anita.
Those who are definite include Zagora (Filly and Mare Turf), who has picked up where her former stablemate, retired Eclipse Award winner Stacelita, left off, with four graded-stakes wins this year after taking the Grade I Diana last year.
Awesome Feather, the 2010 BC Juvenile Fillies winner who is 10-0 lifetime, is on track to take on the likes of Royal Delta, My Miss Aurelia, Questing, Love and Pride, Include Me Out, In Lingerie and Grace Hall in what would be a blockbuster Ladies’ Classic.
Brown should also have Balance the Books and Noble Tune in the Juvenile Turf and Watsdachances in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Other possibles are Appleton and Elkhorn winner Corporate Jungle, whom the BC lists as a contender in the Turf Sprint, and Flashy Gal, a nice maiden winner at Belmont in September, for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
“The horses are healthy, and if they get in the respective races they draw in, I’d say a half-dozen,” Brown said after the E.P. Taylor.
Brown and owner Frank Stronach have painstakingly waited for Awesome Feather to overcome a tendon problem that has reduced her to just four starts the last two seasons since Stronach purchased her for $2.3 million in the 2010 November Keeneland sale.
Last Sunday, Brown said, “She’s doing great . . . as of today.”
The Ladies’ Classic on Nov. 2, with or without her, is shaping up to be a spectacular matchup.
“It really is,” Brown said. “I hope everyone remains healthy and gets to the race in good shape, because I’d love to see that race develop.”
Brown already had a good shot in the Juvenile Turf with Balance the Books, who qualified for the race through the “Win and You’re In” program by winning the With Anticipation at Saratoga, then followed it up by winning the Grade III Bourbon. His hand got even stronger when Noble Tune won the “Win and You’re In” Pilgrim at Belmont on Oct. 8.
Dayatthespa will head to the Matriarch, and Brown said he hopes that Dream Peace, another in the pipeline of transplanted European turf horses that he has established, keeps racing. As of Sunday, he said he wasn’t sure if the owners, Etreham Farm, would retire her, since they also are breeders.
Besides the third in the E.P. Taylor, Dream Peace was third for Brown behind Nahrain and Zagora in the Flower Bowl. Just before coming to his barn, she was second to Winter Memories in the Diana with her previous trainer, Robert Collet.
“We’ll take her home,” Brown said. “She’s had two races in 14 days, so we’ll probably give her a little bit of a break, but I’m not sure of her future plans. She’s a top filly.”
REPOLE BOYCOTTS BC
Owner Mike Repole, who won the Travers last year with Stay Thirsty, won’t be sending him or any of his horses to the Breeders’ Cup because of the decision to ban raceday Lasix for horses running in the five juvenile races.
Among the 2-year-olds he had been considering for the BC are Overanalyze, Notacatbutallama, Coconut Shrimp and Micromanage, all of whom broke their maidens at Saratoga. Overanalyze went on to win the Grade I Futurity at Belmont.
Against the backdrop of increased public pressure in North America to curtail the medication of racehorses, the Breeders’ Cup cut out Lasix for juveniles this year and remains committed to eliminate it for all of its championship races next year. Part of that goal is to keep international owners and trainers interested; raceday Lasix is not permitted in Europe.
“For them to experiment on one of America’s biggest racing days and stages makes no sense,” Repole told the Daily Racing Form.
Repole had also been considering Caixa Eletronica for the BC.
Lasix is a diuretic that mitigates the effects of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging — bleeding in the lungs that can get in the upper airways and hamper breathing.
After Shanghai Bobby won the Hopeful, Starlight had expressed some of the same reservations as Repole about going to the Breeders’ Cup, but are moving forward, anyway. According to Lucarelli, Pletcher has said that Shanghai Bobby does not bleed excessively.
“He doesn’t have a propensity to bleed, so why not take a chance,” Lucarelli said. “Your only worry is that, like with your car, you do all this preventative stuff to make sure it runs good all the time, and they’re not letting you do one of those things.”
MORE BREEDERS’ CUP
Besides Stay Thirsty, Wise Dan will not run in the Classic, as he was only pre-entered for the Mile by owner Morton Fink this week.
Lucie Botti — who represented her husband, trainer Marco Botti, at Woodbine on Sunday — said that Pattison Canadian International winner Joshua Tree will skip the Breeders’ Cup and point toward the Japan Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic.
E.P. Taylor winner Siyouma also will not run in the Breeders’ Cup. Grade I Nearctic winner Next Question is expected to run in the Turf Sprint.
The full list of pre-entries will be announced on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.
NEW YORK SHOWCASE
Belmont will hold the New York-bred version of the Breeders’ Cup today with seven stakes, topped by the $250,000 Empire Classic at a mile and an eighth on the main track.
The 8-5 favorite is Lunar Victory, who had a five-race winning streak stopped when he was second to Saginaw in the one-mile Promenade All on Sept. 23.
Lunar Victory’s streak included two wins at Saratoga, in an allowance and the Evan Shipman.
The second choice in the Empire Classic is Saratoga Snacks, who has a four-race winning streak going back to last year and will make his stakes debut. He’s owned by Bill Parcells’ August Dawn Farm.
The shortest odds on the card, 4-5, belong to Hessonite in the Ticonderoga, scheduled for a mile and a sixteenth on the turf, and Saginaw, in the six-furlong Hudson.
Saginaw has won eight of his last nine, the only loss a sixth to Shackleford in the Grade I Met Mile.
Non-stop rain at Ascot in England on Friday has raised the question of whether Frankel would be scratched from the Champions Stakes this morning because of a swampy turf course.
The Champions is the much-anticipated career finale for the undefeated Frankel (13-0), who is owned by Juddmonte Farm and is named after the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who trained for Juddmonte.
AROUND THE TRACKS
The 2-year-old Russdiculous, owned by Rick Pitino and named after Louisville guard Russ Smith, will make his career debut in the third race at Santa Anita today. . . .
Donn Handicap winner Hymn Book romped in the slop against three rivals to win the listed Frank “Pancho” Martin at Belmont on Friday afternoon. . . .
Progeny of 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin won two races on the Belmont card, the colt Whatrugonnadorosie in the first and the filly Flash Forward in the ninth. His first crop has produced 11 winners this year. . . .
Jockey Joe Rocco Jr. was hurt when Thermal Cat, who won an allowance at Saratoga, broke both front legs in the first race at Keeneland on Friday.
According to Keeneland medical director Dr. Barry Schumer, Rocco did not lose consciousness, was awake and moving his arms and legs, but was complaining of neck and back pain.
Thermal Cat was euthanized. . . .
Gypsy Robin, second to Contested in the Grade I Test at Saratoga, is the 3-1 favorite in a full field of 14 for the Grade II Raven Run at Keeneland today. . . .
Stephanoatsee, a half-brother to 2011 Preakness winner Shackleford, is the 7-2 second choice in the Barbaro at Delaware Park off a fourth in the Pennsylvania Derby. . . .
Steeplechaser Demonstrative, winner of the Grade I New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga, will face a strong field today in the Grade I $250,000 Grand National at Far Hills in New Jersey.
HERE AND THERE
As of today, NYRA Rewards customers will be able to wager on racing in the United Kingdom and Ireland. . . .
Retirements this week include 2011 Florida Derby winner Dialed In, who raced just once this year, and Creative Cause, a Grade I winner as a 2-year-old who hasn’t raced since finishing third in this year’s Preakness.