Saturday, December 6, 2014

Barn Notes: Saturday, December 6


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Barn Notes:  Saturday, December 6, 2014                                                                                     

·        Gold Hawk Preparing for 4-Year-Old Season

·        Heitai on Track for Champions Day

·        Geroux Carrying Career Year into Meet

·        Sum of the Parts, Gantry & Unbridled’s Note in Thursday Feature





            Winchell Thoroughbreds’ regally bred Gold Hawk, who created a great deal of Kentucky Derby buzz around this time last year after a stellar allowance win for trainer Steve Asmussen, is back on the worktab and preparing for a 4-year-old season at Fair Grounds Race Course. 


“He still has conditions left and hopefully we’ll get him up through those and then decide where to take him,” Asmussen said.  “We got off track with him last year and we’re hoping to get him moving in the right direction.”


A son of champion Empire Maker out of champion and Breeders’ Cup winner Caressing, Gold Hawk has put in two easy half-miles on Nov. 26 and Dec. 2 for Fair Grounds’ defending champion trainer.  Last season, after his eye-catching victory on Dec. 27, he ran three subpar races in the meet’s triad of sophomore graded stakes.  After an up-the-track finish in a Churchill Downs allowance in June, he was given time off before embarking on his current task.




            Rowell Enterprises’ Heitai is on point for a defense of his $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint title, according to trainer Karl Broberg.  The winner of nine of his last 13 starts, including seven stakes, the wickedly fast of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus exits a disappointing loss on Nov. 23 at 3-10 odds. 


“He’s doing great and we’re going in the Sprint,” Broberg confirmed.  “Obviously we were disappointed with the last run, but on the other hand it was the first time he’s ever been passed and fought back.  Normally when he gets passed he drops anchor.”


Heitai was beaten on a sealed muddy course that did not favor frontrunners by improving Eddie Johnston trainee Too Dim.  “I’ve got a feeling that the track will be more kind to speed horses than it was the other day,” Broberg added.




            Jockey Florent Geroux has had a breakthrough year in 2014 by any rider’s standards.  A winner of three graded stakes in one day on July 12 at Arlington International Racecourse and leading money-earning jockey at that track during its five-month marathon meet, the Frenchman was catapulted into the national spotlight when he rode Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Work All Week to a rousing victory in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint from the 13 post.  Geroux followed that up with a sly wire-to-wire ride on Twin Creeks Racing’s Red Rifle in the Grade II $250,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap at Hawthorne Race Course last Saturday, Nov. 29.


“Sometimes you get lucky and ride good horses and they make you look good,” Geroux said humbly.  “I try to focus on getting good horses and riding as best I can.”


Geroux, who already boasts a diverse clientele of horsemen who support him, now focuses on expanding such at the current Fair Grounds meet. 


“You always hope to get new clients, of course, especially after a big win like the Breeders’ Cup,” he said.  “You hope to attract the bigger trainers with the bigger horses.  It’s always nice to ride for the guys who are on top like Tom Amoss, Wayne Catalano and Steve Asmussen, but I look forward to riding for lots of different trainers.  I’m hoping for a good meet.  Yeah, I did win a Breeders’ Cup, but I don’t think about it.  I just want to focus on riding now.”


As for his Breeders’ Cup win, Geroux is very level-headed about what it means, but is not shy about what he thinks about the best horse in his rolodex. 


“It’s nice to have a Breeders’ Cup win on your resume.  No one can take that away from you, but you have to always think about what’s next and who the next good horses are you can ride and win with,” he explained.  “(Work All Week) is the best sprinter in the country and maybe in the world.  If they decide to take him to a race like (the Grade I Dubai Golden Shaheen) in Dubai, he could be the favorite and win – he’s that good.”




            Thursday’s feature, a 5½-furlong turf allowance for three year olds and upward has drawn a graded stakes-worthy field with graded stakes winners Gantry and Sum of the Parts taking on graded stakes winner and multiple Grade I-placed Unbridled’s Note in the event slated to go off as race six. 


            Mike McCarty’s Unbridled’s Note is winless in 2014, but was second in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in 2012 before finishing a good fourth in that event one year later.  He comes off a third in the $100,000 Damascus Stakes on the Breeders’ Cup Friday undercard behind graded stakes winners Chitu and Bahamian Squall over the dirt and should appreciate a return to the turf. 


            Gantry exits a disappointing and perplexing fifth-place finish when trying to defend his $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap title on Nov. 27.  The gelded son of Pulpit’s last win came over this course and distance in the $60,000 Colonel Power Stakes on March 15 for trainer Ron Faucheux.


            Sum of the Parts is an intriguing entry as he was recently claimed from longtime trainer Tom Amoss in a Nov. 29 optional claiming event and now runs for Karl Broberg and owner End Zone Athletics on 12 days’ rest. 


“We’ll see how he does,” Broberg said.  “Hopefully he won’t regress in our hands.   It came up tough, but we may be the controlling speed.”




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