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Barn Notes: Sunday, January 25



Grade I $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red has the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on his radar, according to trainer Keith Desormeaux.  Recently second in the voting for Eclipse Award champion juvenile, the son of Afleet Alex has been working steadily at Santa Anita Park for his conditioner, who co-owns the colt with a partnership that includes Erich Brehm, Wayne Detmar and Lee Michaels et al.  On Saturday morning, the bay charge worked five furlongs in 1:01.40. “Silky smooth. Great enthusiasm. Happy horse!” exclaimed regular rider and three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Kent Desormeaux via Twitter afterward.

“What we’re leaning toward now is the (Grade II $200,000) San Vicente on the first (of February),” (Keith) Desormeaux said in an interview with TVG Network.  “I’m thinking about wheeling him back pretty quickly in the Risen Star on (Feb. 21) and then we’ll have a little gap between the Risen Star and the (Grade I) $1,000,000 Santa Anita Derby (on Apr. 4).”

Having a seven-furlong starting point and wheeling back quickly for a three-race Kentucky Derby prep schedule is a format that has been used by Triple Crown runners effectively in the past.  In 1997, Robert and Beverly Lewis’ Silver Charm won the San Vicente and was second in both the 1 1/16-miles San Felipe and 1 1/8-miles Santa Anita Derby within an eight-week span before winning the Derby and Preakness Stakes and finishing second in the Belmont.  In 1989, Easy Goer won the seven-furlong Swale Stakes, the one-mile Gotham and 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial in a seven-week span before finishing second in both the Derby and Preakness and then winning the Belmont Stakes.   More recently, Curlin won his seven-furlong debut in early February 2007 before winning both the 1 1/16-miles Rebel Stakes and 1 1/8-miles Arkansas Derby within a 10-week span before finishing third in the Derby and Belmont and winning the Preakness betwixt.

“It’s still on schedule,” Desormeaux said via telephone on Sunday afternoon.  “It’s always been kind of a tentative schedule, like with all things concerning racehorses.  It seems like the best plan for me at this point.  It’s kind of quick, but I like the way it feels.  If I can get him (to Fair Grounds) a week early, that would be perfect.  I’ll be at the mercy of whoever is going to fly us and their schedule.”

In five career starts, the $17,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale bargain has earned $1,192,300 and never finished worse than fourth.  After a debut loss by a neck in a five-furlong Arlington International Racecourse maiden in July, the robust Kentucky-bred was fourth in a six-furlong Del Mar maiden before graduating in his first start around two turns in a one-mile maiden at said California course.  He returned to finish a flying third to eventual Eclipse champion American Pharoah in the Grade I $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes one race prior to pummeling his Breeders’ Cup rivals by 6½ lengths (below) – both at Santa Anita.  Earning a 104 Beyer Speed Figure in the latter, he left Upstart – who returned in a 105 Beyer-earning romp in Saturday’s Grade II $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes – and Grade I winner Carpe Diem in the rubble. 

“For him to overcome the fact that he’s not really built to be an early horse – that’s what makes him great and that’s also what makes us so excited about this year,” Desormeaux continued.  “If he can do what he did as a juvenile, what can he accomplish as a 3-year-old?”


Donegal Racing’s multiple graded stakes-placed Irish You Well continued working impressively on Sunday morning with a five-furlong move in 1:00.40 – good for second best of 47 moves at the distance.  Trained by Wayne Catalano, his smart work follows an easy one at the same distance in 1:02.20 one week ago and a bullet half-mile move in :48.40 on Jan. 6. 

“He worked very good today,” Catalano said.  “We’ll probably shoot for the (Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft) Handicap here (on Feb. 21).  He fits there and is a good horse.” 

Last seen running fourth behind subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern and graded stakes winners Albano and Wildcat Red in the Grade I $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational on July 27, the son of Broken Vow took an unorthodox journey to compete at the top level. 

After six failed attempts and multiple excuses at the maiden special weight level – including a third to subsequent Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve at Churchill Downs in Nov. 2013 – Catalano put his belief in the chestnut colt on the line when running him as a maiden in the Grade III $500,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course and Grade II $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park, consecutively.  The quality colt responded by finishing third in both of those rich events.  The Peter Pan, in particular, was notable considering the first- and second-place finishers – Tonalist and Commissioner – repeated that order in the Belmont Stakes four weeks later.

Bred in Kentucky by Dell Hancock and Bernie Sams, Irish You Well displayed the quality of his deep Claiborne Farm pedigree with a 7½-length victory next out in maiden company at Monmouth Park and then again with a victory in the Listed $105,000 Long Branch Stakes at the same Jersey Shore establishment three weeks prior to the Haskell.  Despite only two victories in 11 starts, the consistent $170,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase has earned $242,150 and never failed to acquire a check – finishing fifth or better in all.