Okay, Thoroughblog is back after a short hiatus and certainly the gritty win by RAPID REDUX this week was the big news – 22 consecutive wins. Stunning. And to these eyes, it has looked as if he was in danger of being passed late in his recent outings – especially by Canadian stakes winner AWESOME RHYTHM who has chased him home twice now.

RAPID REDUX will receive a special ECLIPSE AWARD – that is the right thing to do since not many of us likely voted for him for HORSE OF THE YEAR. The nominees for the Eclipse Awards came out and it sure looks as if HAVRE DE GRACE is going to be the star of the show.

I was surprised that Grade I winner NEVER RETREAT was not a finalist for the champion turf female, weird. She is likely going to win that award at the SOVEREIGNS in Canada and likely be named HORSE OF THE YEAR.
My ECLIPSE  ballot was posted a few days ago on THOROUGHBLOG.

This week, the voting for the SOVEREIGN AWARDS will wrap up by Jan. 13. Let’s get your thoughts on some of the awards – starting with Horse of the Year!







Last week at Shannondoe Farm in St. Thomas, Ontario – Dave Landry captures the winter wonderland




HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A cursory glance at the past-performance lines of Exclusive Love might lead handicappers to assume that she is a filly with a history of physical problems. The many gaps between her races, though, have nothing to do with soundness and everything to do with weather.
“She’s The Rainmaker,” said trainer Mark Casse, explaining Exclusive Love’s inconsistent racing schedule.
The 5-year-old daughter of Bernstein, weather permitting, is scheduled to run in Saturday’s $100,000 Marshua’s River (G3) over the Gulfstream Park turf course.
“The filly’s owner, Robert Masterson, has to be the most patient guy there is. We were thinking of renting her out to anywhere that needed rain, like Texas. I think 10 times when we had her entered in a race, it rained and the race came off the grass and we had to scratch her,” Casse said. “That’s why you see all the time between her races. It’s all because of races being taken off the grass.”
Last winter at Gulfstream, Casse didn’t scratch Exclusive Love from an off-the-turn allowance race that was run over a sloppy track. The Irish-bred KENTUCKY-BRED mare struggled so much that it would be her last appearance on a main track, and unfortunately, there were many opportunities.
“She’s never been out of training, other than after her 2-year-old year. When you see the gaps, it’s all because races she was in came off the turf. I’ve never had a horse –and I’ve been training for 35 years – get in and have to be scratched so many times because races were taken off the grass,” Casse said.
Exclusive Love demonstrated enough ability at Woodbine during her 3-year-old year that Casse sent her to Saratoga for the Lakes George Stakes (G2).  Forced to race wide after breaking from an outside post position, Exclusive Love made the lead in the stretch, only to relinquish it by three quarters of a length at the finish to Perfect Shirl, who would go on to win this year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Compromised by an oft-interrupted schedule, it took Exclusive Love six more starts to find the winner’s circle, capturing an allowance race at Churchill Downs in her most recent start on Nov. 9.
“It’s very difficult to train a horse like her when you never know when she’s going to be able to run,” Casse said. “We were going to run her at Keeneland, but she didn’t get in. The race ended up overfilling. So she missed some time and trying to enter her. Finally, we went into the Churchill race at probably 75 percent. We didn’t feel like she was at her best, which I was impressed with.”
Casse is hoping for blue skies and a repeat effort in the Marshua’s River.
“She’s training well at Palm Meadows,” he said, “so I would expect her to give us a big performance.”

Although he has no intention of ever running Exclusive Love on dirt, Casse has hopes that Delightful Mary will show herself to be a strong main-track performer in Sunday’s $60,000 Ocala, a mile stakes for Florida-bred fillies and mares. Although the 4-year-old daughter of Limehouse has won four of six races over synthetic racing surfaces, she made a strong showing in her only dirt appearance while finishing third in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs.
“The Juvenile Fillies ended up to be a pretty good race when you look at Awesome Feather and R Heat Lightning,” said Casse of the two fillies that finished in front of Delightful Mary in the Breeders Cup.
Delightful Mary made a wide move on the turn and held position through the stretch-run.
“We have some questions about how far this filly wants to go, but she did run well in the Breeders’ Cup going a mile and a sixteenth. So the mile shouldn’t be a problem,” Casse said.
Delightful Mary is coming off a sharp allowance victory over Woodbine’s Polytrack surface on Nov. 17.
“It’s very different for Polytrack horses at Gulfstream. So I can only judge by Churchill Downs, where she trained well, and the way she ran in the Breeders’ Cup,” Casse said. “At Palm Meadows, she’s breezed very well there. I don’t really have any concerns. I think she’ll handle the track just fine. I feel like I’ve got enough work in her over the dirt that she’ll be just fine.”
If Delightful Mary runs well in the Ocala, she is likely to return in the $300,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream on Jan. 28.

Saturday, Gulfstream Park, post time: 4:45 p.m. EST
MARSHUA’S RIVER S.-GIII, $100,000, 4yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16mT

1 Thundering Emilia K Thunder Gulch Prado Matz 117
2 Speak Easy Gal West Acre Trujillo Wolfson 117
3 Daveron (Ger)K Black Sam Bellamy (Ire) Maragh Motion 123
4 Jenny’s So Great Greatness Lopez Servis 117
5 Heavenly Landing K Pulpit Lanerie Kenneally 117
6 La Reine Lionne K Leroidesanimaux (Brz) Velazquez Brown 117
7 It’s Tea Time Dynaformer Cruz Arnold 117
8 Aquitaine K Empire Maker Contreras Matz 117
9 Louvakhova Maria’s Mon Saez Wolfson 117
10 Tapitsfly Tapit Castellano Romans 117
11 Trip for A. J. Trippi Fuller Wolfson 117
12 Exclusive Love K Bernstein Solis Casse 117
13 Persuading K Broken Vow Castanon Romans 117
14 Kiss the Stars K Kissin Kris Bravo Iwinski 117
15 Lava Girl Purge Castellano Pletcher 117
16 Wallis (GB) King’s Best Lezcano Clement 117

TODAY’S RACING ACTION, the 3yo’s get their groove goin’


Newly turned 3-year-olds will be in the spotlight Saturday at Santa Anita, Aqueduct and Turfway Park, taking their first steps on the road to the Kentucky Derby.

Santa Anita’s $100,000 Sham Stakes has been shortened to a mile after starting out as a 11/8-mile race that was reduced to 11/16 miles last year. But the two-turn configuration will give trainer Bob Baffert an indication if 3-for-3 Secret Circle, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, can be as effective around two turns.

The speedy colt certainly is bred to handle route racing, being a son of the Unbridled stallion Eddington, whose biggest success came at longer distances.


BREED TO WIN – Canadians prominent
2011 Leading North American Breeders

Starts Wins Earnings
Adena Springs* 3310 449 $14,508,811
Ken & Sarah Ramsey 1687 244 $7,220,590
Brereton C Jones 1580 231 $5,645,373
Eugene Melnyk 1242 224 $5,313,697
Ocala Stud 445 95 $4,069,944
*9th consecutive year as top North American breeder


Ontario bred SUSTAINABLE FOREST, a son of Canada’s leading sire Old Forester (through the end of 2011) won a $30,000 claiming event for 3yos yesterday at Gulfstream at 7 to 2. The chestnut colt, out of Bafferta (In Execss) was bred by Ron Clarkson and was owned by Dominic Triumbari until he was claimed yesterday. Katerina Vassilieva trained the colt and Luis Contreras was the winning rider. Contreras is 2 for 10 in 2012 while trainer Vassilieva is 2 for 2.

on Friday…Stronach Stables’ Ontario bred 4yo beginner PIAMENTO defeated an entrymate by a neck in a maiden allowance at Laurel:
result charts courtesy of THROUGHBRED DAILY NEWS:
4th-LRL, $30,000, Msw, 4yo/up, 1m, 1:39 4/5, ft.
+PIAMENTO (g, 4, Awesome Again–Maysville {SP}, by Notebook) fired a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 3/5
Dec. 24, outworking stablemate and entrymate Imoratas (Ghostzapper) by a couple of lengths, and the
duo was sent off at 7-5 in their respective debuts. Three wide off a disputed pace, Piamento poked a head
in front at the quarter-mile marker, was joined by Imoratas at the eighth pole and had a neck on that rival
at the finish. Sales history: $27,000 RNA yrl ’09 KEESEP; $75,000 RNA 2yo >10 ADNAPR. Lifetime
Record: 1-1-0-0, $17,100

At Fair Grounds, Canadian-owned and trained AVIE’S SENSE won her maiden in her 3rd career start:

8th-FGX, $38,000, Msw, 3yo, f, 1m70y, 1:42 2/5, ft.
AVIE’S SENSE (f, 3, Street Sense–Fly for Avie {GISW, $508,117}, by Lord Avie)  Avie’s Sense is a half to Avie’s Tale (Tale of the Cat), SW, $210,348. Tall Oaks Farm is the nom du course of Hungarian native Ivan Dalos and his wife Irene. The couple is best known for having bred GI Belmont S. hero Victory Gallop. Sales history: $120,000 RNA yrl ’10 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 3-1-0-1, $30,323.
O/B-Tall Oaks Farm (KY). T-Josie Carroll.