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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lexington Review - On and Off the Track

Frequent contributor Joe F., provides a brief review of the recent doings in Lexington, KY.

The Deweys dominated the KYSS program this year, but his yearlings currently selling at Lexington and other venues, become eligible to the distressed ONSS program in 2013—great timing. Hence, the Lexington Selected Sale may not have been the best place to look for one. Regardless, the storm flags are up. Last year at Lexington, you had Dewey’s selling for 110; 100; 85; 77, 70 and 50. His average was about $43,000. And 18 of the two dozen sold went for 25k or less. His freshman class had their first crack at the GC stakes at The Red Mile and came up empty, although they did win a couple of the 10K late closers that fill out the program. The 20K stud fee was based in part on the money to be made racing in the Ontario SS program, but that’s now up in the air. One also could expect a competitive open colt or filly for that kind of dough, but we didn’t get much of that from his first class.
Last year at the Red Mile GC meet, John Campbell won 13 of those $10,000 late closers that fill out the program, but he was blanked in the high-dollar stakes races. He only won two of those late closers this year, but did win four divisions of the Bluegrass, as well as a division of the International Stallion Stake with Odds On Equuleus. He would have had six, but the three visionaries in the judges box took the latter down for interference in the Bluegrass. In a year when some have doubted Campbell those GC wins are significant.

Sixteen-year-old Angus Hall, who got crushed at the Canadian Yearling Sale, had one stakes winner at Lexington—the seven-year-old trotting mare, Frenchfrysnvinegar. Last year at Lexington he sold a colt for 77; another for 72; one for 65; a 60, 50, 40 and 37. His average was in the mid-thirties. This year a dozen went through the ring for an average of about $11,000, and his top went for 30. Not good.

Tetrick was the top driver, with five more stakes wins than his closest competitor—a dozen heats in all. Four of those were with potential division winners; Chapter Seven in the Allerage Open; Captaintreacherous in the Blg and the ISS; CMO in a WR Blg performance; and American Jewel in the Blg. Tetrick won both the Bluegrass and ISS last year with CMO, as well as the Blg with American Jewel. Last year it was Big McDeal who beat Jewel in the ISS. This year it was Economy Terror who beat her in the Garnsey. Jewel’s stablemate and paternal sister, Romantic Moment, won the Garnsey. Jewel, who has lost six of her last nine starts, is very vulnerable if Moment wins the BC.
Well Said made a memorable debut, for all the right reasons. Two dozen of his yearlings averaged better than 50K. He had five that sold for 90K and up, and eleven for 50K and up. Only seven Well Saids brought 25K or less. On the other hand, seven Shadow Plays averaged about $16,000. The only one to bring anything was a half-brother to Next Flight, who sold for 50. Where does Shadow Play stand? Ontario. He stands for 5K, and so do Big Jim, Up The Credit and Jereme’s Jet, among others. And Badlands Hanover, who had some success in the ONSS program this year stands for 6K, while the popular, Sportswriter, is also slotted at six. Something has to give. Thank God Michaels power is incomplete. Then again, there’s always Panther Hanover and Needy. Do I hear Machapelo?

The 2011 HTA Driver of the Year, George Brennan, did not drive at the meet this year, after driving in one Lexington GC stakes race last year. He didn’t drive at Delaware this year either. In late 2010 he shifted his focus to Yonkers Raceway, and except for the occasional trip around the NYSS Circuit or an out-of town trip to drive Betterthancheddar, he remains in Westchester County, where he wins plenty of races and money. Brennan ranks third in earnings right now, and he’s at number four in the NYSS standings.
Jim Morrill, far and away the NYSS leader, won two stakes at Lexington this year, while Scott Zeron, won one. The vets like Campbell and Mike Lachance, who won the Futurity with My MVP, may not be able to match the stats of Morrill or Scott Zeron, but long term relationships and the like still get them drives a young driver like Zeron just can’t get at this point in his career.

Gingras and Pierce each won seven stakes races this year, after winning seven and eight respectively last year. While Sears slipped from eight high-dollar wins to four. Andy Miller, who won no stakes races at Lexington last year, won one this time, with his wife’s Cantab Hall gelding, Money On My Mind.

The first crop of Muscle Hill to hit the sales stole the show at Lexington. Twenty-eight yearlings brought an average of more than $100,000, His top colt, and the sale topper, Monarch Kemp, brought $360,000, while his top filly, Deepdish, brought $320,000. On the pacing side, SBSW enjoyed a banner sale that was commensurate with the success of his freshman class.

The difficult economy and the cloudy picture surrounding the Meadowlands hurt Rocknroll Hanover at the sale last year. At that sale forty Rocknrolls sold for an average of almost $30,000, with an $80,000 sale topper. There was a marked disconnect between production and sale price. Rocknroll is atop the all age earnings category for pacers in 2012, thanks to the likes of A Rocknroll Dance, Pet Rock, Put On A Show, Rocklamation, Panther Hanover and I Luv The Nitelife.  This time around thirty-four drew an average of $55,000, and the sale topper, a brother to Put On A Show, Showherthemoney and Good Day Mate, commanded $300,000.
Donato had some good two-year-old performers at Lexington, with Mystery Woman and Your So Vain winning divisions of the ISS and Aspidistra Hanover finishing in a dead heat for first in the Bluegrass. But Check Me Out seems to be carrying Donato’s sophomore class on her back. Last year, in addition to CMO winning the BLG and the ISS, Possess The Will won divisions of both of those and From Above won a division of the BLG. All of Donato’s promising colts seem to have gone sour. Perhaps that’s why he went from selling 22 for an average of almost $66,000 last year to a more modest average of almost $46,000 this time around. Match Play, a colt out of Stroke Play, brought a top price of $210,000 last year; the filly, Cantata, was tops this year at 110. Muscle Hill’s debut certainly didn’t help him.

Art Major, who had a good year with the likes of Doctor Butch, Hail The Taxi and Major Look, also had a good year at The Red Mile and in the sales ring. His freshman colt, Fool Me Once, a full-brother to the outstanding two-year-old gelding from a couple of years ago, Feel Like A Fool, won twice for Ron pierce. Jim Morrill brought in 17/1 shot Hit The Curb in an ISS division. And Odds On Equuleus won an ISS div for JC. He also won the Bluegrass, but was placed last on a questionable interference call. Art Major’s 26 yearlings went for a respectable $45,000 average, with a top of 120. The average was higher in 2011, but a half-brother to Mr Big and a filly out of a Cathedra daughter sold high at that sale.
Art Major’s son, Art Official, had half his consignment sell for $15,000 or more. It wasn’t a high end offering. A colt out of a full-sister to Well Said brought $140,000, and the second highest came in at $60,000; she being a half-sister to Handsoffmucookie. The next highest was a $35,000 filly. He’s a Pennsylvania stallion so we’ll have to see what happens at Harrisburg.



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