Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, July 12, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/12/2013 #
  • Fordubai (photo by Michael Adolphson)

In Today’s Notes: Formidable Fordubai Back on the Winning Track; Diego Sanchez Comes Back in Style; Jockey Rosie Napravnik to be at Arlington University Saturday

Jim Tafel’s Fordubai returned to the winner’s circle in an impressive fashion on Thursday afternoon in the second race at Arlington International Racecourse.  “He sure was good, wasn’t he?” trainer Greg Geier rhetorically asked after the victory.  “He’s a good little horse – very talented.”  The win yesterday was Fordubai’s third in his career and on his third different surface. 

The homebred sophomore son of E Dubai was making his first start since the first disappointing race of his career – a last place finish in the Grade III Arlington Classic on May 25 at odds of 5-1.  On that day, under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux, the colt never seemed comfortable.  He was rank in the beginning, made a brief bid and then simply spit the literal bit, finishing nearly 24 lengths behind winner General Election. 

“He just wasn’t himself in that one,” Geier said of the colt who broke his maiden on the grass at the same distance of the Arlington Classic.  “So, we gave him a little time and brought him back.”

Previous to the Arlington Classic, the half-brother to stakes-placed Afford made a big splash in the Grade III $750,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course, where he finished a strong second at 24-1 under Diego Sanchez.  What was even more impressive than outrunning his odds that day was that it was only his second start of the year, with the other being a six-furlong allowance event at that track. 

On Thursday, Fordubai returned to himself with a victory that was much easier than it appeared. Breaking from post four of five contestants in the $40,000 optional claiming/allowance, Fordubai was content to sit three-wide in third, less than a length off the lead, through a tepid pace of :47.95 for the first half of the one-turn mile.  “The jockey (Eddie Castro, up for the first time) said that on the turn he just sort of stopped running – like he was just content to run with the pack,” Geier said with a laugh.  “He had to get after him and let him know that he was in a race.

“He’s the kind of horse who, if you work him by himself, will go in 1:04 (for five furlongs),” Geier explained of the easygoing equine.  “That’s just him.  You have to get after him.”  After being roused by Castro, Fordubai quickly opened up nearly two lengths on the field at the three-sixteenths pole.  Kept to task without an immense amount of urging, the colt won comfortably by a length and a quarter over seasoned stakes and allowance veteran Color Me Blue and the well regarded Xbalanque. 

Fordubai’s winning Equibase Speed Figure of 99 was on par with the 103 he earned in the Illinois Derby.  Using the handicapping angle of “put a line through it” (or parentheses in this case) for the Arlington Classic, his career figures and ease with which he won Thursday speak to an athlete on the possible verge of a very promising career:  58-71-85-92-103-(66)-99. 

Apparently, the racing department at Monmouth Park agrees.  “We’ve been invited to the (Grade I $1,000,000) Haskell (Invitational) – but, that’s in 17 days.  I’m not sure about that, so we’ll wait and see.  But, he came out great.  Mr. Tafel was delighted,” said Geier. 

Instead of taking on his elders in Thursday’s allowance, Fordubai almost entered a shorter (seven-furlong) stakes this weekend against straight 3-year-olds.  “We thought about running him in the Coach Jimi Lee, but we could have been stuck out in the 12-hole.  So, I figured we would just stay where we’re at,” the deft conditioner explained.  Thursday’s win improved his record to 7-3-2-0 and $221,100 in earnings. 

The shrewd decision to run Thursday seems to have paid off well.  “You try not to overthink yourself,” Geier laughed. “It looks like it worked out just fine.”

Jockey Diego Sanchez, who was injured on the sixth day of the 2013 Arlington meet, returned in style on Sunday to win his initial mount back on Doubledown Stable’s Doubledown Again for trainer Jimmy DiVito.  The win was not only a remarkable comeback for the rider and testament to his perseverance, but also was his first win of the meet after his first six days yielded a record of 8-0-3-0. 

On May 11, in the second race of the day, Sanchez was unseated from his mount Old Down Low and suffered multiple injuries.  “I fractured my collarbone and ribs and punctured my lung,” Sanchez recollected on Sunday.  “But, I’m back today – Saturday was eight weeks since the fall.”

The win improves his young career’s record to 309 wins in 2,982 mounts and nine in 56 on the year.  Sanchez is currently represented by agent Doug Bredar – who was quick to offer a hearty congratulations to his client after the win.  “I’m really happy to be back riding,” the consummately jovial Sanchez concluded. 

Jockey Rosie Napravnik will be the special guest of’s Joe Kristufek during tomorrow’s “Learn to Win” seminar (1 to 3:30 p.m) located  at Arlington University in the Park. Currently fourth in the nation in wins with 165 and fifth in purses with just over $7 million, Napravnik will be on hand for an interview session and short meet and greet with fans. Exact time for Napravnik’s appearance will be announced Saturday. 

In addition, Kristufek and the “AU” staff will teach simple wagering lessons and answer any questions fans may have.  There will also be a sign-up contest to win a VIP paddock tour that will be conducted prior to the sixth race. 

Napravnik will be riding in all five stakes on Saturday (races 7-11), including mounts aboard race favorites Dark Cove in the Grade III $150,000 Stars and Stripes Stakes (race 7) and Rahystrada in the Grade III $200,000 Arlington Handicap (Race 10).