American’s Triple Crown dream alive

The dream of the first Triple Crown hero in 37 years is alive and well after American Pharoah decimated his rivals in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on Sunday morning.

The Triple Crown – which consists of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes – is the biggest prize when it comes to horse racing in the United States of America and has proved elusive in recent years.

Since Affirmed claimed all three races in 1978, the challenge has been too much.

American Pharoah is the 14th horse since then to win the first two legs and looks as good a chance as any of breaking the drought after a dominant performance.

Stepping out a short-priced favourite, jockey Victor Espinoza took the star three-year-old straight to the lead in front of a record crowd of 131,680 that defied the wet conditions.

The rain didn’t bother American Pharoah though, who controlled the race from the front and cruised away to win by seven lengths and setting up a potential dream scenario at Belmont in three weeks.

The Triple Crown dream is no stranger to Espinoza, who has been in this situation twice before with War Emblem (2002) and California Chrome (2014) while legendary trainer Bob Baffert is having his fourth shot at the coveted prize.

Baffert has been in this position before with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002).

“Great horses do great things and he showed that today,” Baffert said afterwards.

This is one of the only times of the year racing gets into the mainstream media in the USA and the build up will be enormous.

The Belmont Stakes will be held on Sunday morning, June 7 (Australian time).


Flamberge seals big 24 hours for Moodie

Flamberge capped a massive couple of days for his owner and breeder David Moodie when the Peter Moody-trained sprinter won Saturday’s Group 1 Darley Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville.

The victory came a day after Moodie had been elected Chairman of Racing Victoria following the resignation of Rob Roulston.

It also provided Moodie and Flamberge’s dam Razor Blade with a double for the day following the earlier success of the Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra-trained Durendal in the $80,000 PFD Food Services Handicap (1200m).

Moodie said it was remarkable to think that Flamberge, a horse he didn’t think would survive as a foal or would win another race after he won on debut at Ballarat, had won at the highest level.

“He’s a very small horse that was born a dummy foal and he only just survived as a foal, he wouldn’t follow his mother around,” Moodie said.

“When we won his first start at Ballarat, Peter (Moody) said to me it might have been his birthday because he didn’t think he was much good but he’s been a terrific sprinter and spacing his races and keeping him fresh seems to be the key to him.

“I’m going to have to go home and give Razor Blade a big hug, she’s had a great day.”

After beginning quickly, Flamberge ($21) settled just behind the leaders before proving too strong for Lord Of The Sky ($9) in the last 50 metres to win by three-quarters-of-a-length, with Under The Louvre ($6) running-on strongly into third to complete an All-Victorian trifecta in the day’s feature.

The favourite Black Heart Bart ($4.60) finished further back in fourth while Emirates Stakes (1600m) winner Hucklebuck weakened after racing just behind the speed to finish 12th.

Flamberge’s win also marked a big day for Moody, who additionally trained a double at Caulfield with two-year-old Bassett winning the $80,000 Taralye – Listen, Learn, Speak Plate (1100m) on debut and Orion taking out the $40,000 CharterKC & BSPLawyers Plate (1600m).


Moodie replaces Roulston as Chairman

David Moodie has assumed the role of Racing Victoria Chairman following the resignation of previous Chairman, Rob Roulston, over an irregularity involving a nomination fee for one of his horses.

Roulston, who joined the RV Board in 2008, resigned his chairmanship at a RV board meeting on Friday having served in the position since March 2013.

Roulston, a bloodstock agent, nominated an overseas-based horse for last year’s Melbourne Cup but the sale of the horse fell through and he advised RV that he wouldn’t be paying the nomination fee.

While he subsequently paid the fee, an internal audit process confirmed that Roulston had initially requested a non-payment.

In a statement, Roulston took full accountability for his error at that time and will now depart the board.

”As Chairman I understand the need to set the highest standards of governance and probity and as a result, I believe my action is right and proper,” he said.

“It has been a great privilege to serve on the board of racing Victoria, the past two years as Chairman.”

Moodie is one of Victoria’s biggest racehorse owners and breeders and along with his wife Jenny was last year named the Victorian Breeders of The Year.
He is the founder and director of Contract Racing who have raced the likes of Golden Slipper winner Crystal Lily, Caulfield Cup winner Arctic Scent and Blue Diamond winners Paint and Hurricane Sky.

Group 1 Victory for Hot Snitzel in BTC Cup

Considered by many as an outsider in the Group 1 BTC Cup over 1350m at Doomben, Hot Snitzel’s jockey Blake Shinn was brimming with confidence leading into the race, having ridden four previous winners on the card all at stakes level highlighted by the previous race also at Group 1 level.

With race favourite Our Boy Malachi (Top Echelon) aiming to extend his current winning streak to seven, the Team Hawkes-trained runner was having his first start back in his home state since June last year.

As Our Boy Malachi went forward for Tommy Berry, Blake Shinn aboard Hot Snitzel, settled the Triple Crown Syndications purchase just off the pace. Having only his second start for Peter and Paul Snowden, the six-year-old Arrowfield Stud bred gelding had the perfect run in transit after jumping from barrier two.

The race was on in earnest as the field headed for home, and Shinn was in need of a gap. Bursting through a narrow opening, Hot Snitzel hit the lead at the 100m mark to go and recording victory, with Godolphin’s runner Knoydart working home very well to take second, just ahead of Our Boy Malachi who did a great job to hold on for third at his first attempt at WFA.

Purchased from the Inglis 2010 Premier Yearling Sale for $60,000 from the draft of Bellerive Stud, Hot Snitzel’s victory took his earnings soaring past $1.2 million for his large group of owners.

Experiencing one of their best days at the track, Triple Crown Syndications had previously celebrated the Group 3 Darley BTC Sprint victory of Charlie Boy (Myboycharlie).

Also having his second start for Peter and Paul Snowden, the Blake Shinn-ridden four-year-old settled in sixth position after being away well from the gates. Pulled out wide, as they field headed for home, Charlie Boy finished too strongly, chasing down Rock Sturdy (Fastnet Rock) to record a half-length victory.

It was the first win for the four-year-old gelding since his Group 2 Danehill Stakes victory during the Spring down the Flemington straight.

Secured from the draft of Newhaven Park at the 2012 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale for $80,000 by Triple Crown Syndications, the victory was the second leg of a stakes double for the Vinery stallion Myboycharlie, having earlier produced the exciting Blueberry Hill to claim the Group 2 Champagne Stakes, taking her record to 3 wins from 4 starts.

John Tapp announces retirement after 50 years

John Tapp has announced on Sky Racing’s In the Gig episode that he will retire from racing broadcasting in June this year.

Tapp’s last official hosting role will be on the season finale of In the Gig almost 50 years to the day after his career started at 2GB.

Tapp has been one of the iconic voices of Australian racing and called more than 50,000 races over his career with his last race call in 1998. Tapp has held various hosting roles at Sky Racing since.

Tapp said he will miss sharing his love of racing with the Sky audience.

“Talking racing has been an absolutely joy and the people involved in racing – you can’t go past them,” Tapp said.

“I can’t pinpoint a career highlight. There are so many special horses, races, trainers, jockeys and harness drivers. Every day in racing is like a new frontier and every race has its own story.”

Tapp said he will continue to train harness horses in his retirement from broadcasting.

“I don’t want to have too many horses, just enough that I can be hands on,” he said.

“Apart from that, I will still be keenly watching everything that is happening in racing and will remain an avid Sky Racing viewer.”

Tabcorp Chief Operating Officer Wagering and Media, Craig Nugent said Tapp will be dearly missed at Sky Racing.

“John Tapp is a true Australian racing legend and Sky Racing is proud to have been part of his illustrious 50-year career,” Nugent said.

“I wish John all the best in his retirement. It has been a privilege for the team at Sky to have worked with him.”

Tapp was honoured with an Order of Australia Medal in 1996 “for service to horse sports as a national and international racecaller, and to charitable organisations as an organiser and compere of fundraising events” and was bestowed the title of Australia Post Australian Legend in 2007 when he was immortalised in a stamp series.

Sky is producing a special tribute to celebrate John Tapp’s racing and media career for broadcast during his final week on-air. His last In the Gig episode will air on Sky Racing on June 16.