Knicks Go tops three year old competition for $6 million purse at the Breeders Cup in Del Mar

Knicks Go in front of the pack for the winner of the 2021 Breeders Cup Classic at Del Mar on Sat Nov 6, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

Knicks Go defied age and beat a trio of three-year-old top horses including controversial Kentucky Derby champion Medina Spirit in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday in Del Mar.

The five-year-old with 3-1 odds, ridden by Joel Rosario and trained by Brad Cox, set the pace and finished with a 2 3/4-length victory. Knicks Go covered 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.57, coming within three-fifths of a second of the record at Del Mar Racetrack for that distance.

“He broke really sharp,” Rosario said. “He looked like he was really enjoying what he was doing. I could see his ears, he was so relaxed.”

Knicks Go paid $8.40 to win on a $2 wager. It was his fourth consecutive win and boosted him in the running for the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year.

“Speed is very dangerous,” Cox said.

Embattled trainer Bob Baffert’s Medina Spirit, who failed a drug test after the Derby, came in second. Medina Spirit is expected to be tested for the anti-inflammatory which is legal, but after the race week. Baffert currently does not face any charges.

Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality, the 9-5 favorite, finished third. Essential Quality is retiring due to his stallion value.

The hometown hero Hot Rod Charlie, who enjoyed “Let’s go Chuck” chants leading up to the race, came in fourth.

The Breeders’ Cup classic had only eight horses because Express Train had swelling in his right hock in the morning and was scratched.

Last year, Knicks Go won all three of his races, including the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. In January, the Maryland-bred Paynter colt won the G1 Pegasus Invitational.

While Baffert’s horse came in second in the classic on Saturday, his horse Corniche won the $2 million Juvenile on Friday. Corniche became a horse to watch in next year’s Derby, but it remains to be seen who will train him since Baffert is banned from the race for two years amid the Medina Spirit controversy.

Baffert horse Corniche wins Breeders Cup at Del Mar

Corniche crosses the finish line with Jockey Mike Smith at the Breeders Cup at Del Mar on Fri Nov 5, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

Corniche, trained by embattled trainer Bob Baffert, on Friday won the Breeders’ Cup $2 million Juvenile, becoming a horse to watch for next year’s Kentucky Derby.

On the opening day of the 38th Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in California, jockey Mike Smith led Corniche to a 1 3/4-length victory.

Smith guided Corniche to break from the outside in the pack of 11 horses and did not give up the lead in completing the 1-1/16 miles in 1:42.50.

The jockey said he was mostly concerned with how warm Corniche was before the race.

“The only thing I was worried about was that he got hotter than he ever had. It just made me get calmer,” Smith said. “I don’t think I have ever been so calm in a big race. I just sat really still, he caught a flyer leaving the gate and I just left him alone.”

Corniche, the 7-5 favorite, earned his third victory in three attempts and positioned himself as an early favorite for the 2022 Derby.

Baffert said he knew from the 11th hole that Smith was going to have to push Corinche harder than usual.

“Mike is a great rider. I love him on a horse like that,” said Baffert, who won his 18th Breeders’ Cup and fifth Juvenile.

While all eyes are now on Corniche, it remains to be seen who will prepare him for the Derby. Baffert is banned from the race for two years after his Derby winner this year, Medina Spirit, came back with a positive drug test. Corniche would not be able to earn points to qualify for the Derby if trained by Baffert.

Pappacap, a 15-1 longshot, came in second with jockey Joe Bravo, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Giant Game, also a longshot.

Giant Game’s trainer Dale Romans said he thought they would win the Juvenile, but congratulated Corniche.

“Congratulations to the winner. It was a big race by him,” Romans said. “It’s hard to beat Bob on his home court.”

The Breeders’ Cup continues for its second day on Saturday.

Belmont Stakes: Essential Quality was the sure bet holds off runner up Hot Rod Charlie

Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr crosses the finish line with winning horse Essential Quality to win the 128th Metropolitan horse race at the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park NY on Sat Jun 5, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

The Belmont Stakes favorite, Essential Quality, won the 153rd running of the third and final leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday evening.

Essential Quality overtook the early leader, Hot Rod Charlie, in the final turn and held him off until the finish line and won the $1 million race.

“That was a long way around there a mile a half but it was exciting,” Cox said. “It looked like the horse on the inside, he still had run left. I knew it was going to be a battle down the line.”

Hot Rod Charlie finished second while the 146th Preakness Stakes champion, Rombauer, finished third.

Essential Quality gave his trainer Brad Cox his first Triple Crown victory. His jockey Luis Saez also won a Triple Crown race for the first time.

Saez said Belmont was his “second home” and that this was the race I wanted to win.”

Cox said that Saez “did a fantastic job of getting him in position turning for home and he was able to really show his stamina late.”

The race did not include Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, after the horse failed a drug test after the Derby. Medina Spirit’s trainer, Bob Baffert, has been suspended from the Derby for two years, it was announced on Wednesday. In addition, the New York Racing Association temporarily suspended Baffert from entering any races this month at the track that hosts the Belmont Stakes.

A limited crowd of 11,000 people attended the race at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, and were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test.

Called the “Test of the Champion,” it is the oldest event in the Triple Crown and also the longest, at 1½ miles, or 12 furlongs.

Here is the 2021 Belmont Stakes finish order:

1 Essential Quality

2 Hot Rod Charlie

3 Rombauer

4 Known Agenda

5 Bourbonic

146th Preakness Steaks: Rombauer out hustles Midnight Bourbon

Rombauer the winning horse crossing the finish line at the 146th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Sat May 15, 2021 (photo from @PreaknessStakes)

By Jessica Kwong

Rombauer outran Midnight Bourbon and controversy stricken Kentucky Derby victor Medina Spirit to win the 146th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday evening.

Medina Spirit had appeared likely to win the second leg of the Triple Crown after taking first place at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, which was tainted by a positive test for a steroid post-race.

Both Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon, the early favorite, broke well early and Medina Spirit led into the first turn. Midnight Bourbon took over the lead as the horses went into the frontstretch. However, Rombauer made a late charge in the final yards and claimed victory by four lengths.

Rombauer, ridden by jockey Flavien Prat, finished in 1:53.62 and paid $25.60 on a $2 bet to win. Midnight Bourbon, at 3-1 odds, came in second while Medina Spirit, at 2-1 odds, finished third.

It was Prat’s second victory in a Triple Crown race. Prat won the Kentucky Derby in 2019 riding Country House, after Maximum Security was disqualified due to interference, so Saturday was a different feeling for him.

“There’s so much history behind these races, and to win one is great, and to win the Preakness is even better,” said Prat.

Rombauer’s trainer Michael McCarthy captured the honor in just his first appearance in the Preakness and said he was “so proud of this horse, everybody involved.”

“It just goes to show you that small players in the game can be successful as well,” McCarthy said.

Medina Spirit’s trainer Bob Baffert in a statement before the race on Saturday reiterated that his colt’s Kentucky Derby victory was “the result of the horse’s tremendous heart and nothing else” and that ‘there was never any attempt to game or cheat the system.” Medina Spirit cleared three rounds of drug testing on Friday heading into the Preakness.

Here is the Preakness 2021 finishing order:

1.Rombauer

2.Midnight Bourbon

3.Medina Spirit

4. Keepmeinmind

5. Crowded Trade

Kentucky Derby: Baffert couldn’t believe his eyes on Madina Spirit win

Its a photo finish for Madina Spirit at the Kentucky Derby at Church Downs on Sat May 1, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

Medina Spirit made history at the 147th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday with an upset that gave trainer Bob Baffert his record seventh win in “The Run for the Roses.”

The yearling only had the sixth best odds in the race at 12-1 but took an early lead. Essential Quality, the favorite at 3-1 odds, was well off the lead early but started closing in at the half-mile mark, along with Hot Rod Charlie with odds at 5-1. Essential Quality started making the move from fifth at the three-quarter mile mark, but Medina Spirit maintained the lead. Medina Spirit also held off a late charge from Mandaloun, who finished in second place followed by Hot Rod Charlie.

Medina Spirit crossed the finish line at 2:01:02, with jockey John Velazquez. His victory was a shock to his trainer.

“I knew he was training well, but I’m really, really surprised,” Baffert said. “When I saw him on the easy lead, I kept waiting for these horses to come at him, but Johnny had him in a perfect spot. If you have him on the lead, he’ll fight.”

Baffert is the only trainer with seven Kentucky Derby wins.

Medina Spirit also boosted Velazquez’s career as one of the best jockeys in the sport. His name may sound familiar, as he won the 2020 race in September riding Authentic. Velazquez has won four Kentucky Derbys and is one of only seven jockeys to win consecutive ones.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d win four Derbys,” Velazquez said. “I never look at the numbers … I just want to come and do my job.”

The $3 million purse is distributed among the top five finishers. Medina Spirit earned $1.86 million, Mandaloun got $600,000, Hot Rod Charlie received $300,000 and Essential Quality took $100,000.

Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, typically draws more than 150,000 people for the race that is part of the Triple Crown. Due to the pandemic, the attendance this year was just 51,838. Last year, the race was run without spectators.

Here’s the Kentucky Derby 2021 finish order:

1 – Medina Spirit

2 – Mandaloun

3 – Hot Rod Charlie

4 – Essential Quality

5 – O Besos

Headline Sports podcast with Daniel Dullum: Chiefs-Patriots game postponed Newton in quarantine; Swiss Skydiver edges out the Preakness; plus more

The New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) and running back Rex Burkhead (34) celebrate Burkhead’s touchdown catch against the Las Vegas Raiders last Sunday in Foxborough (AP News photo)

On Headline Sports with Daniel:

1 NFL’s Covid-19 issues — Patriots QB Cam Newton placed on league’s pandemic reserve list; NFL postponed Chiefs-Patriots game

2 Preakness won by filly Swiss Skydiver

3 Swingin’ A’s in the ALDS

4 Aces hope to bounce back in WNBA finals against Seattle; play game 2 today in Florida

5 RIP Bob Gibson, Ron Perranoski, Jay Johnstone hard to believe

Daniel Dullum does Headline Sports podcasts each Sunday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Preakness Stakes 2020: Swiss Skydiver first filly to win a race since 2009

Filly Swiss Skydiver wins the 145th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Sat Oct 3, 2020 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

The only filly in the race, Swiss Skydiver, won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday afternoon, claiming her place in history as only the sixth female horse to do so, and the first in 11 years.

Swiss Skydiver beat all the boys in thrilling fashion, in a stretch duel with Kentucky Derby champion Authentic. The two-horse race was close, but the three-year-old filly held Authentic off and beat him by a nose.

She was the first filly, or young female horse less than four years of age, to win the race since Rachel Alexandria in 2009.

“Just a real honor to be around a horse like this,” Swiss Skydiver’s trainer Kenny McPeek said. “It’s a special moment.”

Swiss Skydiver’s jockey Robby Albarado said he “had an opportunity” when Authentic’s Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez abandoned the rail at the far turn.

“I took advantage of the rail. Johnny stayed off the fence there, made a conscious decision to move at that time. Give or take now,” Albarado said. “If I make that move now or I wait and get smothered.”

With odds of 11-1, Swiss Skydiver upset 3-2 favorite Authentic. Jesus’ Team at 40-1 took third place and Art Collector at 2-1 finished fourth.

Swiss Skydiver was the first filly to compete in the Preakness since 2014, when Ria Antonia came in last. Swiss Skydiver raced in Kentucky, New York, Florida, Louisiana, California and Arkansas this year, and was constantly hungry and eager to train.

“She never gets tired,” McPeek said.

McPeek won the Preakness for the first time and celebrated his second victory in a Triple Crown series after last winning the Belmont Stakes in 2002.

By defeating Authentic and Thousand Words, Swiss Skydiver denied their trainer Bob Baffert of a 17th Triple Crown race win and prevented him from setting a record with eight Preakness victories.

The spectator-less 145th running of the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, came just four weeks after the Kentucky Derby. For the first time, the 1 3/16th-mile-long race was the third leg of the Triple Crown, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The backwards schedule this year kicked off with the Belmont Stakes on June 20, followed by the Kentucky Derby on September 5.

Authentic upset Belmont Stakes champion Tiz the Law, who did not compete in the Preakness as he was not ready, according to Sackatoga Sable managing partner Jack Knowlton. The most recent Triple Crown winner was Justify, trained by Baffert, in 2018.

2020 Preakness Stakes results:

1. Swiss Skydiver – 11/1 2. Authentic – 3/2 3. Jesus’ Team – 40/1 4. Art Collector – 2/1

146th Kentucky Derby report: Authentic is the real deal, finishes ahead of Tiz the Law in Run for the Roses

Authentic gets to the finish line first in the 146th Kentucky Derby Sat Sep 5, 2020 as jockey John Velazquez  rides to victory (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

Against the odds, Authentic raced ahead of favorite Tiz the Law to win the 146th Kentucky Derby on Saturday evening, giving its trainer Bob Baffert a record-tying sixth Run for the Roses victory.

Authentic, at 8-1 odds, showed he was the real deal, maintaining the lead from start to finish. Belmont Stakes champion Tiz the Law, at 3-5 odds, attempted to overtake Authentic in the final turn but was unable to and finished second. Authentic’s upset win brought an end to Tiz the Law’s bid for the Triple Crown.

“Yes! Yes!” Baffert exclaimed from the paddock where he viewed the race on video.

Authentic, ridden by John Velazquez, completed 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.61. Mr. Big News, at 46-1 odds, finished third and Honor A. P. came in fourth.

Velazquez, who captured his third Kentucky Derby victory, said, “Obviously, Bob, from the beginning, said ‘I’ve got a good one for you.’ This is it.”

Baffert, in turn, complimented Velazquez for “the most incredible ride.”

“The training was lights out. He was fresh. He’s a good horse, he’s our No. 1 pick from the beginning, and here we are,” Baffert said. “The greatest race in the world, and I feel very blessed and fortunate.”

Baffert is now tied with Ben Jones for the most all-time Kentucky Derby wins among trainers. In addition to Authentic, Baffert trained the last two thoroughbreds to win the Triple Crown, American Pharoah and Justify.

Authentic’s win was particularly meaningful for Baffert given his other horse, Thousand Words, reared in the paddock and got scratched minutes before post time. A few other thoroughbreds were scratched prior, making it a field of 15, the smallest since 1998.

The Kentucky Derby is traditionally held on the first Saturday in May, but was postponed to the first Saturday in September due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year saw a “backwards Triple Crown” with the Belmont Stakes in June, followed by the Kentucky Derby and finally the Preakness Stakes scheduled for October 3.

Tiz the Law was the first New York-bred horse to win the Belmont Stakes since 1882.

Churchill Downs was without the more than 150,000 spectators who usually attend with elaborate hats and outfits. This year’s Derby was also unusual with several protest groups converging outside the Louisville venue, including Until Freedom calling for justice for Breonna Taylor, the “Black militia” NFAC and Back the Blue counter-protesters.

2020 Kentucky Derby results:

1. Authentic – 8/1 – WIN: $18.80 – PLACE: $6.00 – SHOW: $5.00

2. Tiz The Law – 3/5 – PLACE: $3.40 – SHOW: $3.20

3. Mr. Big News – 46-1 – SHOW: $16.80

 

Headline Sports podcast with Barbara Mason: Calif Legislature looking into legalizing sports betting;Wallace insists rope was noose (see photo) ; plus more

@bobpockrass photo: NASCAR’s only black driver Bubba Wallace’s crew member found a noose in his garage stall on Sunday night. Wallace had pushed for banning the Confederate flag symbols at NASCAR races. The FBI concluded from video evidence that the noose had been at stall number four since October 2019 long before Wallace was booked for that stall last weekend it was later determined it was not a noose but a door pull. Wallace on Don Lemon Tonight on CNN said he knows what a noose looks like adding, “tied in 2019 or now it was a noose.”

On Headline Sports podcast with Barbara:

#1 California Legislature is considering legalizing sports betting but casinos are putting up a fight as it would cut into their sports book business.

#2 Bubba Wallace NASCAR’s only black driver who two weeks ago pushed for banning the Confederate flag at NASCAR events. A member of Wallace’s crew found a noose in his garage stall late Sunday afternoon. After bringing in 15 FBI agents for an investigation into who left the noose in garage stall four where Wallace was at Talladega. Video evidence showed that the noose had been there since October 2019 and it was determined it was not a noose but a door pull.  No one would have known that Wallace would have been at that stall going forward. The FBI said they will not pursue federal charges. Wallace insisted on CNN’s Don Lemon Tonight on Tuesday night that it was a noose.

#3 Webb Simpson won the RBC Heritage on Sunday after finishing 7 under Par 64 at Harbour Town at Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

#4 Tiz the Law set a record winning the Belmont Stakes last Saturday in what is one of the few live sports in the Coronavirus era. Tiz the Law with his victory became the first New York bred horse to win at the Belmont in 138 years.

#5 After someone who visited the San Francisco Giants training facility in Scottsdale who was Covid-19 positive the facility was immediately shut down on Friday night. The person was a family member and several other individuals are being tested who had come in contact with this positive tested person. Teams who have closed facilities Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies and the Giants.

Join Barbara for Headline Sports each Tuesday night at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

2020 Belmont Stakes: 138 years of waiting is over Tiz the Law NY bred horse wins Belmont

CNN.com still: It wasn’t even close as Tiz the Law wins by four lengths becoming the first New York bred to win the Belmont in 138 years

By Jessica Kwong

Tiz the Law made history at the 152nd Belmont Stakes on Saturday afternoon, as the first New York-bred horse to win on home turf in 138 years. The hometown boy was the 4-5 favorite and proved himself, winning with ease. Jockey Manny Franco, who competed in Belmont for the first time, could be heard screaming with joy.

The last New York-bred horse to win the Belmont Stakes was Forester in 1882.

Trained by Barclay Tagg, Tiz the Law accelerated at the final turn and no one could catch up to him near the finish line. He completed the race in 1:46.53. Dr Post, trained by Todd Pletcher, came in second and Max Player, trained by Linda Rice, took third place.

Tiz the Law won by four lengths and paid $3.60 to win, $2.90 to place and $2.60 to show. Dr Post had 7-1 odds and paid $5.80 to place and $4.20 to show. Max Player had 14-1 odds and paid $5.20 to show. Ten horses competed.

The $1 million event took place at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, without spectators because of Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing requirements.

Originally slated for June 6, the Belmont Stakes is traditionally the final leg of the Triple Crown. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it became the first of the three-race series, with the Kentucky Derby following on September 5 and the Preakness on October 3. It is a “backwards Triple Crown,” according to Jack Knowlton, who heads up the Sackatoga Stable partnership which owns Belmont Stakes.

Another change this year for the Belmont Stakes was its length. It is typically the longest race in the Triple Crown, but it was cut down from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/8 miles to account for the shorter time frame the 3-year-old horses had to build stamina.

Tiz the Law earned Tagg and owners Sackatoga Stable their first Belmont Stakes victory.

“What a win!” Sackatoga Stable tweeted. “We couldn’t have done this without the amazing Barclay Tagg, @robinsmullen [Tagg’s longtime assistant] & @jockeyfranco. Best team in horse racing.”

Tiz the Law’s father is Constitution and his grandfather is Tapit, who fathered three Belmont Stakes winners. Tiz the Law has had six career starts and just one loss. Next up for Tiz the Law is the Kentucky Derby in two-and-a-half months.

The Belmont Stakes finishing order is as follows:

1. Tiz the Law

2. Dr Post

3. Max Player

4. Pneumatic

5.Tap It to Win

6.Sole Volante

7. Modernist

8. Farmington Road

9. Fore Left Jungle Runner