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‘Legend’ to Remain in California

‘TDN Rising Star’ Daddy Is a Legend (Scat Daddy), a convincing winner of Saturday’s GIII Jimmy Durante S., emerged from her victory no worse for the wear and will likely target another stakes event during Santa Anita’s winter meet, owner Jim Hill said Sunday morning. The filly closed strongly to notch a one-length victory in the Durante, anchoring a 1-2-3 finish for East Coast invaders.

“She lost a front right shoe somewhere in the race,” Hill said. “We hope there will be something for her at Santa Anita, but they haven’t released their full stakes schedule yet.”

Trained by George Weaver, the juvenile filly parlayed a runner-up finish behind fellow ‘TDN Rising Star’ and subsequent GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Rushing Fall (More Than Ready) at Belmont into a commanding maiden victory at Keeneland Oct. 27. She shipped to Del Mar to notch her first graded stakes success Saturday.


Elliott Wins Appeal

Gordon Elliott has won an appeal over a €2,000 fine incurred at Down Royal Nov. 4 after race day stewards deemed the Elliott trained Suitor (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}) did not achieve his best possible placing having not run on his merits. Rider Jack Kennedy who was given a five-day ban also had his penalty overturned. Elliott’s appeal was heard in the Turf Club on Monday and it follows the news that trainer Mick Winters intends to appeal his €6,000 fine incurred over a similar alleged breach of Turf Club Rule 212 at Cork on Sunday.

Pentire, 25, Passes Away

Pentire (GB) (Be My Guest–Gull Nook {GB}, by Mill Reef), the foundation sire of Rich Hill Stud in New Zealand and responsible for 16 Group 1 winners, passed away following surgery, the stud reported Tuesday. The two-time Group 1 winner was 25.

“He was 25, but I thought he was going to live forever–he was still serving and so healthy and well,” Rich Hill studmaster John Thompson told the NZ Racing Desk. “We noticed after lunch on Monday he looked a bit uncomfortable and I got a bad feeling about it, in 20 years we’d only had the vet to him twice. We got him to the clinic and he went into surgery and when they opened him up they found a tumour that the intestine had wrapped around. They removed the growth and the intestine hadn’t been compromised. They got him into recovery, but sadly he didn’t wake up.”

Bred by Lord Halifax in Great Britain and sold for 54,000gns as a yearling at Tattersalls September, Pentire raced in the colours of Mollers Racing, with a victory in the 1995 G1 Irish Champion S. a seasonal highlight en route to being named the Irish/English highweighted 3-year-old from 9 1/2-11 furlongs. He added another title as the English highweighted older horse from 11-14 furlongs a year later after a score in the G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond S. In total, the bay was first past the post eight times in 18 starts and was sold to the Yoshida family to stand at Shadai Stallion Station with earnings of $1,364,174.

Shuttled to Rich Hill Stud on Southern Hemisphere time, Pentire also eventually covered mares for two seasons at Gestut Isarland in Germany in 2004 and 2005, before being a permanent resident at Rich Hill Stud in the second half of 2005.

At stud, the half-brother to Italian Group 3 winner Spring (GB) (Sadler’s Wells) left 48 stakes winners, 26 at the graded/group level. Leading them is two-time New Zealand Horse of the Year Mufhasa (NZ), who saluted 10 times at the Group 1 level. Pentire also sired G1 Melbourne Cup hero Prince of Penzance (NZ) and another dual Kiwi Horse of the Year winner in MG1SW Xcellent (NZ). Champion Xtravagant (NZ) is a young sire in New South Wales at Newhaven Park, while Say No More (NZ), Pantani (NZ), Rangirangdoo (NZ) and Zarita (NZ), were also MG1SWs.

“It just won’t be the same around here without him, but his legacy will live on and Pentire is always going to be seen as a strength in any pedigree,” Thompson said. “He’s had four Group 1 winners in the last two seasons and I’m certain there are more to come.”

Pentire was laid to rest at Rich Hill on Tuesday.

Violence’s Cicatrix Dominates Debut at Churchill for Rising Star Nod

Cicatrix took a bunch of play for a patient first-out barn and backed up that support with a dominant front-running success at Churchill to become the second ‘TDN Rising Star’ of the day. The dark bay flashed talent in a 1:00 3/5 (1/19) local gate breeze Nov. 5 and followed up with a sharp half-mile spin in :48 1/5 (5/82) a week later. Backed to 51-10 off of a 12-1 morning-line quote, the $85,000 KEENOV grad punched through at the rail to lead narrowly from a longshot through a :22.67 quarter. Inching away on the turn in hand past a :46.85 half, Cicatrix quickly separated herself from the pack after straightening for home and never gave any late-runners a chance, coasting home 7 1/4 lengths to the good. Cheeky Cherub (Pioneerof the Nile) was up late for the place.

The winner is the 20th for her freshman sire (by Medaglia d’Oro) and his second Rising Star (Barry Lee). Her second dam Colonial Review (Pleasant Colony) is a MSP half-sister to GISWs Another Review (Buckaroo) and No Review (Nodouble). Provincial is responsible for a yearling Hard Spun colt and foaled a filly by The Factor this spring before being paired with Maclean’s Music.

8th-CD, $60,578, Msw, 11-16, 2yo, f, 6f, 1:11.38, ft.

CICATRIX (f, 2, Violence–Provincial {MSP, $176,507}, by Pulpit) Sales History: $85,000 Wlg ’15 KEENOV. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $36,000. Click for the chart, free catalogue-style pedigree or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton. O-Bill Witman; B-CESA Farm (KY); T-Ian R. Wilkes.

Op/Ed: An Exemplary Track Model

I was fortunate to attend the Cox Plate in October this year, my first trip to Moonee Valley Racecourse. The Cox Plate Carnival kicked off on Oct. 27, a Friday night, with the G1 Manikato S. headlining an evening of eight races run under lights with the feature held the next day.

Immediately upon walking onto the apron at The Valley, I had concluded it was the best racecourse I had ever visited. Friends of mine arrived at the same determination within minutes, one stating that it was the perfect racecourse.

Want more young people to go racing? Replicate Moonee Valley Friday nights.

The atmosphere was electric. Think Friday Night Lights–it felt more like a football stadium than a track. The viewing lawn was well graded so that it was easy to see the course from most spots. A tight track, short straight and multiple grandstands made the course feel enclosed and intimately close to the action. Races were held every 30 minutes rather than the standard 45, making for a quick tempo.

The Valley was a party. Neon lights lit up the railing of the winner’s enclosure. Pitbull’s “Don’t Stop the Party” played intermittently through the night as the jumbotron flashed “Valley Time.” When the horses were about to break, “Jump Around” played as the text “Jump Time” bounced around on the screen. Replace the bottles of champagne with beer, and you’d think you were at a football game.

One of The Valley’s excellent touches was the 55 Second Challenge: a series of 955-meter dashes held over the course of the Friday Night Lights season. The objective is to win in under 55 seconds, with the trainer of the fastest-heat winner receiving a A$55,000 check. It is a simple contest of pure speed that is exhilarating and easy for the audience to understand and get behind.

But Moonee Valley had the privilege of an engaged audience nonetheless. When Chautauqua was announced as a late scratch from the Manikato S., the crowd let out boos and cries like I’ve never heard at a racecourse. Patrons wearing Winx hats were strewn throughout the crowd and there was plenty of chat about her Cox Plate run the next day.

Behind the grandstand there were food trucks, offering a variety of very good and cheap meals. Alcohol was reasonably priced and lines moved quickly. On the apron, a cover band played between races. Plenty of merchandise, including Winx shirts, jackets, hats and polos, was available in the gift shop. The lights stayed on and the party continued on course for an hour after the last, when the track finally shut down for the night.

Attendance on the evening was 11,805, a record for Manikato night, no doubt boosted by the Cox Plate the following day and lovely weather. I don’t know how far off the norm the meeting on Oct. 27 was compared to a standard Friday night, but the track did things right that evening.

If I were a casual fan, not engaged in the sport, Moonee Valley would hands-down be the best racing experience of my life. Nothing else comes close. At the end of the night, my only complaints were that the gift shop ran out of Winx hats and that there was no Snapchat filter.

Night racing has its drawbacks, particularly for horsemen involved, and the track has negatives as a racecourse. But I have never seen a crowd as young and vibrant as the group at Moonee Valley on Oct. 27. The electricity and spirit in the atmosphere was certainly contagious and nearly tangible. The Valley did an exceptional job with the evening–it is a course model that should be noted and replicated.