News from the track
Dance Hopeful Iknowastar to fly the flag for Clarke Bloodstock on Melbourne Cup day
Big Dance hopeful Iknowastar is testament to the old adage ‘patience is a virtue.’ His introduction to racing was far from spectacular, failing to finish in the first half of the field in five starts in weak country and provincial grade races. It wasn’t until his third racing preparation and half-way through his three-year-old season that Bjorn managed to find the key to unlock his talent. From February this year Iknowastar has been on a winning spree, starting off at Mudgee, Orange and Goulburn and progressing through to the city with back-to-back wins on the Randwick Kensington track at his last two starts. He has now won eight of his last ten races including the Dubbo Cup which rewarded his owners with automatic entry into the second running of Tuesday’s $3m The Big Dance, one of Sydney’s new ‘pop-up’ races restricted to the winners of New South Wales country cups.
Iknowastar has made a remarkable rise through the racing ranks and has been placed to perfection by Bjorn. We are yet to see where his ability will peak but it is extraordinary that a benchmark 90 horse who has done most of his racing to the west of the Great Dividing Range will line up as the second favourite for a race worth $1,560,000 on Tuesday. He sneaks into The Big Dance with 53kgs (one kilogram above the minimum weight), he has a favourable barrier draw in gate three and has the services of one of Sydney’s leading light weight riders, Tyler Schiller. Iknowastar has already provided a handsome return on his purchase price of $80,000 but his syndicate of owners will certainly have their dancing shoes on if he happens to win on Tuesday.
Not wanting to be outdone by his stablemate, Cinque Torri will line up two races later in The Little Dance which is the supporting act to The Big Dance for horses that have placed second in the country cups. The $430,000 first place prizemoney would be a nice addition to the $230,000 that has already been won by this son of I Am Invincible who was purchased by Clarke Bloodstock and Bjorn Baker Racing for $170,000 at the 2020 Magic Millions yearling sale. Cinque Torri has also drawn well in barrier 5 and will be ridden by the in-form Jay Ford with the minimum weight of 52kgs.
Stoltz salutes at Group 3 level in Hong Kong
Clarke Bloodstock yearling purchase Stoltz recorded his first win at stakes level in the Group 3 National Day Cup at Sha Tin in early October.
Ridden by Zac Purton and trained by premiership leader Francis Lui, Stoltz has proven to be a 1,000m specialist, recording his 6th win at the distance from 14 starts in Hong Kong.
“It was pretty straight-forward. It’s a small field, a straight race – he’s got speed. He’s always put himself in the right spot. It was just a matter of him putting him where he was comfortable,” Purton said.
“He’s a very honest horse – when the going gets tough, he gives everything he’s got. Francis has done a great job with him. He’s turned out to be a very good horse.”
A son of More Than Ready from the Dehere mare Decelerator, Stoltz was purchased by Clarke Bloodstock on behalf of his original owners, Bob & David Seldon, for $200,000 from the 2019 Magic Millions yearling sale. Stoltz won three races in his three-year-old season under the care of Annabel Neasham before he was on-sold by his owners to Hong Kong.
Well Groomed charity race day provides a huge Kick Up for racing welfare and domestic violence victims
A packed marquee of racing enthusiasts, casual fans, diehard punters, fashionistas, and industry heavyweights dressed up to the nines and kicked up their heels at the second running of the Well Groomed Racing race day and long lunch on Saturday 16 September at Eagle Farm.
The theme of ‘yellow and country chic’ set the tone for a day filled with live racing, entertainment, charity auctions, a very competitive fashions on the field and an after party with dancing late into the evening. Amidst the festivities, panel discussions took place around major issues and talking points in the industry, particularly equine welfare and aftercare.
Most importantly, the event raised over $80,000 for Kick Up For Racing and Reason To Thrive - two remarkable charities doing phenomenal work for the industry. Kick Up For Racing is a new industry initiative that empowers people on how to have conversations about controversial topics surrounding horse racing. Reason To Thrive provides Equine Assisted Learning life-skill programs to children and youth who are at risk of disengagement from formal education and family, as well as for women whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence.
Congratulations to the Well Groomed committee of 10 passionate racing women for the flawless execution of a very successful racing and fundraising event.
Prospecting for stayers in the Land of the Long White Cloud…
At any horse sale, identifying an elite racehorse involves a process of stacking as many of the odds and variables in your favour. What I consider to be most important, in no particular order, is the physique, attitude, education, preparation, pedigree, breeder and environment where the horse was reared.
Although fishing in a smaller pond compared to the yearling market, the breeze up sales gives the buying bench the opportunity to make a more informed decision on their selections as they can see the horses gallop and assess their temperament, action, tractability, and soundness. The New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run sale is the most established and by far the most successful sale of its kind in the southern hemisphere. The honor roll of graduates includes Hong Kong superstars Lucky Sweynesse and Golden Sixty, Caulfield Cup winner Mongolian Khan as well as Derby winners Gingernuts, Vin De Dance and Sharp ‘N’ Smart.
In my experience the Kiwi consignors are very skilled at identifying and preparing the right horses to thrive throughout the preparation for their breeze up but progress beyond the sale. The majority of the horses have pedigrees that suggest they should excel over 1,600m and further so there is not as much emphasis from buyers and consignors on the 200m breeze time. In fact, it is a myth that the breeze up time is the greatest indicator of racing potential. You only have to look at the results of recent iterations of the sale for the proof. One of Australia’s best weight-for-age horses, Mr Brightside, breezed in a time of 10.91 at this sale in 2019. Lucky Sweynesse recorded 11.14 in 2020 and Sharp ‘N’ Smart was even slower in 11.19. These times would put all three horses in the bottom half of this year’s sale based on their breeze times.
At the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run sale, in contrast to the other sales of this format in Australasia, all of the horses breeze on the same track and surface which is certainly advantageous for buyers.
The 2023 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run sale takes place at Karaka on the 22nd and 23rd of November. Bjorn and I purchased the progressive gelding Sweysive from this sale in 2022. He is a lightly raced horse that has won two city races in Sydney with over $100,000 in prizemoney and his best racing days are certainly ahead of him.
We have reviewed all of the pedigrees and breeze up videos, completed our catalogue research and have our inspection list ready to go. If you are interested to hear about the horses that we purchase please send me an email on email@example.com
We have read the stars, crunched the numbers, reviewed the statistics and decided that we don’t even need to wait for the final field to be released. The winner of the 2024 Melbourne Cup will be the favourite, Vauban. He is a proven stayer, is trained by a master of his craft, is ‘well in at the weights’ and has been set for the race all year. The only fly in the ointment could be Mostly Cloudy if he can get the chocolates on Saturday and handle the Bart Cummings three-day backup.
Foal watch - Pierro x Word For Word colt
Sheralee Estate broodmare Word For Word delivered her second foal, a colt by Pierro in late October at Widden Stud. Word For Word is a multiple-stakes placed daughter of So You Think from a half-sister to VRC Derby winner Fiveandahalfstar. Word For Word has a yearling filly by Wootton Basset and is booked to be covered by Zoustar this breeding season.
Yankee One kicked off her career in the best possible way when leading home a Clarke Bloodstock/Cunningham Thoroughbreds quinella in a Super Maiden at Gosford on Thursday 26 October. The Snitzel filly from Street Sense mare, Sense Of Hite, settled midfield and showed an impressive turn of foot to win by a widening margin of 1.5 lenghts. It was a timely pedigree update for the family with Yankee One’s half-sister, Quintessa, delivering a three-quarter sister, also by Snitzel at Ridgmont farm the previous week.
The second placed horse, Joey D’Or, has improved with every run and will be a strong winning chance for Bjorn Baker in race 4 at Kembla Grange on Melbourne Cup day.
From the horses mouth - Bjorn Baker Racing Instalive
Today, Bjorn talked through his Big Dance hopefuls. Click below to watch!