Friday, January 2, 2015

Barn Notes: Friday, January 2


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Barn Notes:  Friday, January 2, 2015                                                                                             

·        West Coast Belle Points to Silverbulletday

·        Eden Grey’s Kitten Debuts in a Big Way

·        Istanford Back to Work




            The Listed $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes on Jan. 17 is shaping up as a display of the considerable depth of the Fair Grounds-based sophomore fillies class of 2015.  Already expected to draw Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Top Decile, as well as Tommy Ligon and Michael Pressley’s undefeated Divine Dawn from the formidable Larry Jones barn and Charles Fipke’s Forever Unbridled – a full sister to last year’s winner of the inverse name – the Silverbulletday now looks to also be the focal point of Gary and Mary West’s undefeated Grade II winner West Coast Belle.


            A perfect three-for-three, the Wayne Catalano trainee exits two consecutive stakes wins at Churchill Downs – the $58,000 Rags to Riches on Oct. 26 over a flat mile and the Grade II $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes last out on Nov. 29 – and has been training locally since.  On Dec. 26, she put in a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.20, her second work since her Golden Rod tally. 


“She worked nice,” Catalano said.  “We’re going to try to run her on the 17th – we’re headed that way.  She’s doing really well right now.   She got a little bit of a break, but not too much (after the Golden Rod).


A daughter of 2014 champion sire Tapit, West Coast Belle is a smallish filly who does not give the initial impression of a strapping racehorse – but her disposition is kind, her intelligence high and her tenacity and will to win intense.  Such were on display last out in the Golden Rod when she was challenged in mid-stretch by Lothenbach Stables’ No Fault of Mine and turned back that rival en route to a 1¼-length victory.


A product of generations of Ogden Phipps and Wheatley Stable bloodlines, she will now attempt to emulate her great grand-dam and four-time Grade I-winning millionaire Dispute and win the centerpiece of American racing for 3-year-old fillies. 


“The goal with her is the Kentucky Oaks,” Catalano concluded.  “We’re going to do our best to get there.”




            The race may have simply been a Louisiana-bred maiden over a grass sprint, but Whispering Oaks Farm’s Eden Grey’s Kitten debuted in a way that contravened the expectations otherwise expected from such a race.  Sent off as the 6-5 favorite off a series of strong works and a sharp paddock appearance, the Pelican State-bred son of Kitten’s Joy out-broke eight other rivals and stormed through a first quarter of :22.15 over the good going before proceeding to march home a 10¼-length winner while in hand. 


Two moments in the stretch stood out upon re-watching the race – the way the chestnut gelding accelerated with an eye-opening stride in early stretch to instantaneously knock the wind out of his rivals and how he was eased up in the final sixteenth while still widening his advantage.  The Steve Flint trainee has always been well regarded, though.


“At our training center when a horse works in :59 like he did, it’s like going :57 here (at Fair Grounds),” Flint said.  “We knew he was a nice colt and had no idea how he’d run on the grass.  Obviously being by Kitten’s Joy we were confident he would handle the surface, but I also think he handles the dirt just as well as the the turf – so our options are now open.  Plans are up in the air.”

            Twice placed through the auction ring without reaching his reserve – including a $92,000 RNA last April at Ocala – Eden Grey’s Kitten is out of the Salt Lake mare Steaming Home, a winner of the Listed Round Tower Stakes in Ireland in 2001.  He also hails from the immediate family of Grade I Travers Stakes winner Corporate Report. 


“He came out of the race in good order,” Flint continued.  “We’re taking our time with him.  I’ll probably sit down with the owner on Tuesday and to go over future plans. We were very impressed with his first race and I think he should progress off that and go on to bigger and better things.  Also, it was good that James (Graham) rode him.  He’s been on a lot of good 3-year-olds and has a good perspective of what’s going on.  You hope to get a horse as good as this.”





            Ike and Dawn Thrash and Janet and Sam Alley’s multiple graded stakes-winning filly Istanford got back to work this week for trainer Mike Stidham.  The Florida-bred daughter of Istan worked an easy three-furlongs on New Year’s Day at Fair Grounds Race Course in :38 flat – her first move since an uncharacteristically poor showing in a tough renewal of the Grade I $400,000 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 4. 


“She was off for 60 days and is doing well,” said Stidham.  “She’s kind of a specialist going a flat mile and we’re going to try to pick out some races going that distance.  She’s another one who with maturity and another year into her she’s going to really develop.”


            Last Fair Grounds season, the dark bay was an easy winner of a one-mile grass allowance before finishing last in the Listed $125,000 Silverbulletday – her lone dirt try.  Since, she has blossomed while winning three graded stakes – including the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Classic against the boys in May.  A lover of firm going, she shipped out to Del Mar with a small Stidham string this summer and annexed two stakes over that grass surface – including the Grade II $200,000 San Clemente Handicap in July.  All in all, the front-running $25,000 Ocala August purchase has won five of 12 and $387,425 in purses.




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