Eblouissante, the half-sister to Zenyatta who finished last in the Grade II Shuvee on Saturday, was banged up when she acted up in the gate, but trainer John Shirreffs said he still wants to find another start for her at Saratoga Race Course.
“It’s all pretty superficial,” Shirreffs said. “She broke two teeth and grabbed herself in a couple of spots on her legs, but nothing really serious.
“I feel really lucky that she didn’t seriously injure herself. I think that’s a credit to the assistant starter, who kept her from flipping over and getting underneath the gate. It was a bad situation, but not a tragedy.”
With that in mind, Shirreffs said that the 4-year-old Eblouissante, undefeated in two starts in California before coming to New York with his string, could still get another race at the meet, after some more gate schooling.
Ridden by Rosie Napravnik, subbing for jockey Junior Alvarado who was banged up earlier on Saturday’s card, Eblouissante bumped with Moon Philly after leaving the gate and ran at the back of the pack, finishing last of six.
“For her, it was [over at the start],” Shirreffs said. “She lost all her focus and everything. Obviously, it’s disappointing, but it’s one of those things that happens with horses. You can’t always predict the outcome or what they’re going to do. You just accept it and try to improve.”
Shirreffs said Eblouissante had not shown any signs of gate trouble in either of her first two starts, “but she’s a big horse, and the gate is somewhat tight, so she could be a little claustrophobic. Who knows what sets a horse off at that
moment? Whatever it was, it really set her off.”
BIG APPLE TRIPLE
The $250,000 Big Apple Triple bonus is in play, after the Mike Hushion-trained Amberjack won the Florida Derby at Finger Lakes on Saturday to go with his Mike Lee win at Belmont Park on June 1.
He’ll look to complete the three-race sweep for New York-bred 3-year-olds in the Albany at Saratoga on Aug. 21.
“It’s pretty interesting, being a triple crown trainer,” Hushion joked.
Tin Cup Chalice is the only horse to have completed the Big Apple Triple, in 2008.
In conjunction with the Sanford Stakes, the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm held their annual luncheon in the At The Rail Pavilion, and co-founder Sam Hildebrandt was happy to report that repairs to the broodmare barn on Route 30 in Amsterdam are reaching an important turning point.
Also, the organization, whose mission is to preserve the remaining buildings on the farm, originally called Hurricana, is looking forward to a broader range of fundraising sources since the Sanford Stud Farm gained recognition by the National Register of Historic Places in June.
Hildebrandt, co-founder of FSSF and son of the Sanford contract jockey Louis Hildebrandt, said they’re near completion of the projects that will give structural integrity to the massive broodmare barn, after which they can start working on more infrastructural and cosmetic projects.
“I think we’re in very good shape,” Hildebrandt said. “We’ve buttoned the whole thing off, it’s weather-proofed, it stands on its own, and we feel confident that, structurally, it’s going to be sound for the next 15-20 years.
“Now we can look at possibly infrastructure, some aesthetic type of stuff. The kitchen and tack room need some work. We need to do new wainscoting, we need painting. We’re not going to do lead removal, we’re going to do lead containment. It accomplishes pretty much the same thing, but with less expense.”
Hildebrandt believes that FSSF can reach a point where the broodmare barn becomes a destination for more tourists and school groups, like a museum/education center.
The goals of the FSSF should only be bolstered by the national historic designation, if it means more money.
“Now, with us being on the state and national historical registries, we’re hopeful that this is going to open some doors for us and possibly attract new revenue streams where we can invest additional buildings,” he said.
AROUND THE TRACK
John Velazquez went 0-for-7 on the Sunday card and remains three behind Jerry Bailey for most wins (693) all-time at Saratoga.