Stable Update 1/20/2017
I hope this email finds everyone well. What an incredible start to 2017 for the stable! I am very superstitious when it comes to racing so I'm knocking on my desk when I say this, but in my nearly four years with Donegal the stable has never been as poised for big things with the depth of quality horses. It could shape up to be an incredible 2017 with some racing luck and good health to our team members.
Eirigh (Todd Pletcher) - He has come out of his massive comeback race in good shape. Having not run in over a year his effort was beyond expectations considering how tough a field he had to face that day. Amazing training job to get a horse to run that way off of such a long layoff. Eirigh has always shown above average talent and it was great to see him flash it again. If he improves a bit, which he probably will off of that effort, then he is going to be competing in stake races for most of the year along the east coast. We will also keep an eye on what is available in Canada to try and take advantage of his Canadian bred status if the right restricted races present themselves.
The 5 yr. olds
Keen Ice (Todd Pletcher) - He continues to get ready for the big race at the end of the month. He seems to be in the only part of the country not affected with rain or disease so at least there aren't any outside factors that could hinder his progress. This is going to be arguably the toughest race he will have to run thus far in his career and he continues to do well in preparation for it. One thing about KI is that he always tries hard and that is part of why he has earned so much money. With a little racing luck it could be a very big payday for the stable. Let's hope the next week goes by quietly and quickly for him.
Rock Shandy (Unassigned) - Rock Shandy has arrived at Frank Smith's in South Carolina and has begun light training as he makes his way back to the races. He is doing well with his introduction back into training but will need a couple more months of training there.
Note from Jerry: Frank Smith reports that he is rounding into form after a couple of weeks of galloping...back on the bit, neck bowed, etc.
Brother O'Connell (Tom Morley) - He has arrived in Kentucky so that he can get some confined rest as we let his tendon injury heal. It was a small tear so there is a lot of reason to think that he should return to his old form. Let's hope his time off passes quickly and without incident.
Puca (Bill Mott) - She is doing ok considering her skin disease. This is actually way more common than you might imagine and usually goes away fairly quickly with some treatment but they won't give their best effort when they have it. She is going to run in a stakes as soon as she is feeling back to her old self. Until that time comes it's too hard to figure out what race she might be pointing to. She is another that is poised to have a huge 2017.
Note from Jerry: Bill has a stakes race picked out for her. Important to get some more graded stakes in for her broodmare value.
The 4 yr. olds
Patrick's Day (Jordan Blair) - He ran a very frustrating 3rd at Tampa Bay. PD probably wants to run a mile and a half more than he does a mile. The distance of the race probably hurt more than anything and he got a ride that was below average. He didn't run bad considering he had to go wide the entire way. I'm sure Patrick's Day will show a new dimension when he gets to run a minimum of a mile and an eighth and he is another I think will have a very good 2017.
Oatfield (Jordan Blair) - He is doing very well and has come out of his most recent win in good shape. He showed a very professional new dimension with his ability to beat a solid field over a distance that was too short for him. He is likely to run in a stake race of some sort next. Which one is up in the air at the moment. Bottom line is that he has earned the chance to start competing in stakes races. He has come a long way rather quickly and the Blair team has done a tremendous job with him. I think we will see his best over the summer months considering how far he has come in only a few months of racing. Mentally he has still not put it all together yet so there is still room for improvement.
Note from Jerry: Conor is right about Jordan doing a great job but the bottom line is Tampa Bay is a bad place to run with their awful purses.
Shut the Box (Chris Richard) - He is back training at Oaklawn and is over his minor splint issue. It did take a little bit longer to help him get over it but it's fine now. He's likely to run in an allowance race at some point in the middle of February and hopefully he can make at least three starts down there during their lucrative meet. He might not turn out to be a stakes horse this year but he should be one that helps bring in some nice cash for the stable.
Ballagh Rocks (Bill Mott) - He is doing really well at Payson Park in South Florida as he gets ready for his next start, which is today. He is another that is going to have a big year if he can avoid any setbacks. He is definitely going to be competing in some graded stakes later in the year and he should relish the Belmont Park turf course with his running style...another one to have big expectations for this year.
Donegal Moon (Todd Pletcher) - He is doing great and has safely arrived in Florida and has already had a tiny breeze. I saw him before he left Kentucky and he looks fantastic and I'm very excited about what kind of year he can have. I think he is going to be one of the better 4 yr. olds in the country. Let's hope that his preparations for his comeback race come and go without incident. Exciting to him have him back in training!
Vulcan's Forge (Todd Pletcher) - He has been given a bit of a vacation since his last race in NY.
The 3 yr. olds
Irish Freedom (Baffert) - He is doing fine and has started light training. He will need several more weeks of jogging and galloping before he can resume breezing during the month of January. As Jerry mentioned last week, the record breaking rain in California has essentially stopped training there and cancelled racing. We can't do anything about the rain and Irish is back training so I'm not going to be upset unless the rain lasts another week out there.
Update from Jerry: Bob moved IRISH from Los Al to Santa Anita on Monday of this week. Bob says he looks terrific and says it will take three weeks to know if he can be ready to run in the FIFTY DERBY POINT San Felipe on March 11.
Aife (Clement) - She is doing OK as she will need extensive time off after the discovery of her injury a few weeks ago. She will continue to have several months of rest before she is able to go back into training.
Fahan Mura (Clement) - She looked very professional in her win and has come out of it in good shape. She will need to keep improving and as Jerry said last week, she is a Pennsylvania bred so we will try and take advantage of that in the year. Exciting for her to break her maiden. We just want to see that steady progress over her next couple of starts.
Green Moon Rising (Richard) - Note from Jerry: GMR's race was just awful. 21 Beyer. That is why we were thrilled that he was claimed for 25K. Good luck to the new connections!
Stefan O'Eishen (Morley) - He has started light training again but is not allowed back into the Fair Grounds due to the herpes outbreak there. He will likely return to New York.
Blarney (Richard) - He is back in heavy training and doing well. We should see him on a weekly breeze schedule as long as the weather cooperates. If all goes well he might be able to run around the end of February. Chris likes this horse.
Gorse (Blair) - Jerry has decided to move him to the Jordan Blair barn and he arrived safely at Tampa Bay Downs last week. We will know more about when he might be able to make his debut after the Jordan Blair team has had a couple of weeks of getting to know him.
Beltany (Morley) - He has come out of his minor surgery (to clean up the ankles in his joints) very well. He is going to get another 2 weeks of stall rest and then will be able to start training again. This colt has a ton of speed and we can't wait to get him racing.
Manning (Morley) - He has come out of his debut in good shape and has trained well out of it. I view him very much like Arklow in that he is probably going to need at least one start over the dirt before he is able to put in a winning performance. He has made great strides in his progress considering he lacks about 2.5 months of training that his stablemates got. I'm excited to see him on the dirt because I think he will like it more based on his first start and the way he is made. Like any of the young horses we want to see another positive step forward. Manning's breeze on Thursday was by far the best of his career.
Arklow (Cox) - He ran huge in his race the day after Christmas and ran what I would call a winning effort. Very exciting to see a colt give that sort of an effort at the end of their 2 yr. old year and everything about him suggests that he will keep slowly improving as each day passes. As Jerry mentioned last week, he is entered to run in the G3 Lecompte Stakes on the 21st at Fair Grounds over the same distance as his last race. There are a handful of talented horses that will be running in that race as well but nothing that towers over Arklow and they will be aided by the distance. Just wait until they start moving that gate back further. We also know that there won't be any other competitors shipping in to Fair Grounds because of the terrible outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus which is very serious and hopefully makes its way out of the backside of Fair Grounds soon. I'll be very happy if we see another competitive closing effort from Arklow no matter where he finishes, as the distance is probably too short for a win but the preps that follow this race are going to be more suited to Arklow.
Hy Brasil (Pletcher) - He has been cleared to go back into training and has been sent to Ocala where he will be for the next few months as he gets ready for a return to the racetrack. Exciting to have him off the bench and we will know much more about him about a month after he has been galloping for some time. Remember this is a very, very talented colt.
Please don't hesitate with any questions.