- Henny Hughes is providing a lot of buzz at Saratoga after his win in the Sanford, and next up is the Hopeful, to be run on August 27, the day of the King’s Bishop as well as some 3yo race that Afleet Alex is not running in. As you may know, one of those Maktoum shieks with eight names purchased the colt for a reported $4.3 million after he won the Tremont by 15. A big win in the Hopeful would likely make him worth at least that much as a stallion prospect even if (especially if?) he never runs again.
Henny Hughes’ sire Hennessy won the Hopeful in 1995, and the former’s jockey Gary Stevens was also on board the dad for that race (for Lukas and Bob and Beverly Lewis). Hennessy raced 9 times as a 2 yo, which you rarely see with top horses these days, and missed by a neck to Unbridled’s Song in the BC Juvenile. He never raced at 3. Stevens compared the two:
"They were both very, very precocious colts, just very professional early on with a great stride and great disposition…..They can get a little bit on the fiery side, but for the most part, when it came game time, they were all business."Henny Hughes is out of a stakes placed Meadowlake mare and a half to a bunch of minor winners. He’s a complete outcross through five generations. (Hennessy is also the sire of Pletcher’s recent impressive 2 yo filly winner India.)
That was illustrated in the Saratoga Special, when Henny Hughes acted up in the paddock and it was difficult saddling him.
"I see a colt that's still developing and the sky's the limit with him.." [Albany Times-Union]
- The top west coast juvenile prospect thus far, Baffert’s What A Song, worked out for the G2 Best Pal on Aug 14, flying six furlongs in 1:10.80.
- NYRA was expecting handle at the Saratoga meet to be off 5 to 10% due to their cutoff of rebate shops, but the first week showed a decline of just 3.19%; attendance was up around 2% despite a small crowd on Monday ("I think people thought it was going to pour here Monday, and it scared them away," [NYRA VP Bill] Nader said.) That could have been the case on opening day as well; many of those who did brave the threatening weather and come that day were then scared away by the long betting lines.
'We've had just minor bumps in between closing Belmont and opening Saratoga,' he said. 'This has happened in past years. We have had minor problems that were disappointing to us, but the good news is that by Thursday, we were up and running and it's been clear sailing from there on.' [Saratogian]No excuse. NYRA has weeks/months to prepare for their signature meet, and the problems with the matrix screens and with TV monitors that weren’t even inspected until two days before the meeting were all preventable with just a little bit of planning and foresight.
- Business is also good at Evangeline Downs, and the track credits their large field sizes and, of course, the booming business at the casinos. (I still can’t believe that item last week that said that Woodbine gets 20,000 casino customers a day.)
Purse levels for allowance races now will start at $20,400, maiden special weight events will be worth $19,900, and bottom-level $3,500 claimers will run for $8,900, which are the highest levels in the 40-year history of Evangeline Downs, [Thoroughbred Times]- Thanks to reader Jillian (hang in there!) for sending this link to NPR last week, regarding a filly trotter named Pink Ribbons, who is owned by two breast cancer patients.
Pink Ribbons was purchased for $10,000 primarily to help the two horse enthusiasts keep their spirits high while dealing with a common concern. However, the bay-colored horse, who races with two pink ribbons tied in her mane, has impacted their lives far more than they had imagined. She has quickly become known as a horse with a cause and a horse to be reckoned with. [Toledo Blade]They donate 10% of the filly’s earnings to a facility that supports breast cancer patients, and hopefully, they’ll have a big check to send them in the near future. Since the NPR and Toledo Blade pieces were posted, Pink Ribbons qualified for the final of the $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks by finishing third in an elimination heat last weekend. The Oaks final will take place on Hambo day at the Meadowlands this Saturday, and I'll certainly be rooting for Pink Ribbons.