Getty Images

Always B Miki edges Wiggle It Jiggleit in Breeders Crown

Leave a comment

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Always B Miki beat Wiggle It Jiggleit at the end of a thrilling stretch battle in the $421,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace on Friday night at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Their rivalry has been the highlight of the harness racing season with each posting three wins in their previous seven showdowns.

With the Crown victory, Always B Miki likely clinched Horse of the Year honors by edging the defending champion.

The race unfolded with Wiggle It Jiggleit taking the lead on the first turn while Always B Miki dropped in behind him.

They raced in that order until midway on the final turn when driver David Miller sent Always B Miki after the leader.

Turning for home, it appeared Wiggle It Jiggleit would prevail until Always B Miki surged in the final strides to win by three-quarters of a length.

“I couldn’t be happier with him,” Miller said. “He’s a tough horse. He shows up, and he was determined to get his head in front there.”

He paid $3.20 to win. It was the 28th Crown win for trainer Jimmy Takter, the career leader in the series.

It was a satisfying victory for Takter who nursed the horse through multiple serious injuries.

“I am speechless,” Hall of Famer Takter said. “The people here saw two great, great horses fighting side by side down the stretch. For me, it was maybe the best race I ever had a horse participate in.”

The Meadowlands presented the four Crowns for older horses on Friday. The eight events for 2 and 3-year-olds take place Saturday.

In other results, driver Yannick Gingras won a pair of $250,000 Crowns with Hannelore Hanover in the Filly & Mare Open Trot and Lady Shadow in the Filly & Mare Open Pace.

Hannelore Hanover, the 3/5 favorite, beat Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, by two lengths.

It was her 16th win in 19 starts this season for trainer Ron Burke.

The time was 1:53 3/5 for the mile. She paid $3.40 to win.

Lady Shadow, the 1/5 choice, beat Sassa Hanover by 2 1/4 lengths for her 11th win in 19 starts this year.

She paid $2.40 to win.

In the only upset, 4-1 shot Flanagan Memory beat Resolve, the 1/5 favorite, by a length in the $500,000 Open Trot.

Brian Sears was at the lines for trainer Rene Dion as the 6-year-old paid $10.60 to win.

Baffert hoping Arrogate gives him third Dubai World Cup win

Getty Images
Leave a comment

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Having taken over the mantle as the world’s best racehorse from California Chrome, Arrogate will attempt on Saturday to wear another crown that last fitted his illustrious American compatriot, the Dubai World Cup.

All eyes are on the 4-year-old Arrogate, who lost on debut 11 months ago but hasn’t lost since.

He’s won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup this year to stretch his unbeaten streak to six. In both races, Arrogate defeated Chrome, who won the Dubai World Cup last year at Meydan Racecourse by five lengths despite jockey Victor Espinoza hanging on to a loose saddle for most of it.

Under jockey Mike Smith, Arrogate has forged a winning combination in his last three Group 1 races: Travers Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup.

In Dubai, they have drawn stall nine among 14 contenders, a position which fails to douse the confidence of his trainer Bob Baffert.

“Nine is fine,” said Baffert, who also trained 2015 U.S. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

“He’s settled in pretty well. As long as he shows up, that’s the key. If he runs his race, we know what he can do.”

Smith was all praise for his mount, ranked the No. 1 racehorse in the world.

“I have been blessed with some really, really good horses, but I am not sure I have ever sit on one like this,” Smith said.

“Everything about him, his disposition, his mechanics, the way he gets over the ground … at times you feel as if you are running downhill instead of a level ground. What amazes me most is when the race is over, it looks as if he did not put much effort into it. His recovery time is so quick.”

Arrogate’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup wins came over 2,000 meters on dirt, the same distance and conditions as the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Baffert hopes Arrogate can give him a third Dubai World Cup victory after Silver Charm (1998) and Captain Steve (2001).

He suffered a heart attack during his last visit to Dubai in 2012, and watched the World Cup five nights later with stents in two of his blocked arteries. He also watched from even farther afield last year as his other horse, Hoppertunity, finished third behind Chrome and Mike de Kock’s Mubtaahij.

He’s giving Hoppertunity another chance.

“Both my horses are happy and healthy,” Baffert said. “He (Hoppertunity) should be collecting a check again. That is what he does, picks up the pieces in these big races. He reminds me of Pac-Man, he just keeps going. A Dubai World Cup 1-2, that would be something.”

Mubtaahij is also back, although he will start under Christophe Soumillon from the widest of stalls.

“Like everyone, we wanted low,” the Belgian jockey said. “I will have to … hope for some luck.”

The Dubai World Cup features a nine-race card offering $30 million across six Group 1 and three Group 2 races on turf and dirt.

Six three-year-olds nominated late to Triple Crown series

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Thunder Snow, winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas, is among six 3-year-olds made eligible to compete in the Triple Crown series during the late nomination period.

The late nominees, which required a payment of $6,000 each, raise the total nominations to 425 for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. The late nomination period closed Monday. The early nomination window closed in January and required a payment of $600.

Ireland-bred Thunder Snow, owned by Godolphin Racing, is set to run Saturday in the $2 million UAE Derby in Dubai. The colt has three wins in seven career starts for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

The other late nominees are Hollywood Handsome, trained by Dallas Stewart; More Than Words, trained by Charlie LoPresti; Parlor, trained by Eddie Kenneally; Rapid Dial, trained by Ingrid Mason; and Stretch’s Stone, trained by Bruce Levine.

Thoroughbreds that weren’t nominated to the Triple Crown have one final chance by paying a supplemental fee. The fee for the Derby is $200,000; $150,000 for the Preakness; and $75,000 for the Belmont.