Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Thursday, June 20, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/20/2013 #
  • Princeville Condo

  • Saint Leon

In Today’s Notes: A Lady, a Prince and a Saint – Michele Boyce’s Noble Steeds Are Ready for Summer; Mason’s Flower Spell on Target for Chicago ‘Cap, Rahab Your Soul “OK”; Multiple Carryover Pools for Friday’s Card

Illinois veteran trainer Michele Boyce, even by her standards, is having a wonderful meet so far at Arlington International Racecourse in 2013.  A trainer respected for her patience and often applauded for her reverence for equine safety is currently striking at a 24% clip, with five of her 21 entries proving victorious.  Unlike many with as many starts or wins, her stable consists primarily of allowance and stakes horses over the age of four – highlighted by the swift Saint Leon, speedy turf starlet Katie the Lady and statuesque Princeville Condo. 

“I like to take my time with the horses.  Even with the 2- and 3-year-olds – if they aren’t ready, I don’t push them,” Boyce said.  Such patience has helped horses like the talented 7-year-old racemare Katie the Lady, who has only made 15 career starts, including two starts at the current meet for owners Barr Three LLC, Cherrywood Racing Stables II and Michael Bojarski.

On May 11, the daughter of the Danzig stallion Lost Soldier lost as the 7-5 favorite in a high level allowance that included subsequent Lincoln Heritage Handicap winner La Tia.  After not making her customary lead, she threw in an uncharacteristic last-place finish.  In need of a confidence boost, Katie the Lady returned in a starter allowance on June 5 and razed the field by a facile 4¾ lengths. 

Boyce had the option of instead running the mare in the Lincoln Heritage – a race in which she finished a pacesetting second last year – but opted not to do so.  “In all honesty, I wanted to avoid La Tia’s speed.  (Katie the Lady) is a speed horse and a little older, so I didn’t want to have her (overextended).  But, she could show up in an allowance soon,” explained Boyce.  “She is definitely the diva of the barn.”

Fresh off a fantastic third in the Black Tie Affair Handicap last Saturday at odds of 15-1, the tall and handsome Princeville Condo stretched his legs this morning on the Arlington training track – his first trip to the track since losing by only 3½ lengths to Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Coalport.  Owned by Terry Biondo and Cherrywood Stables II, the son of dynamite turf sprinter Morluc has been a picture of consistency on the Arlington lawn with 13 top three finishes in 16 starts. 

“’Prince’ came out fine,” reported the conditioner.  “He went back to the track today.  I had been looking for a little bit better work from him in the mornings.  The exercise rider thought he worked too slow.  I think that’s why he got a little limber-legged at the end.”

The future is up in the air for the reliable gelding.  “He is 8-years-old, so I don’t want to pitch him too high (against tough horses) and run the risk of him getting hurt.  But, we’ll keep him competitive.  He’s a barn favorite.  I have four half-siblings from that mare - what a great family.  I was very pleased with his performance and (jockey Eddie Castro’s) ride on Saturday.”

Jockey Eddie Castro has been riding more often for the Boyce barn in recent weeks.  With his history of riding horses like Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Miesque’s Approval and Winter Memories, one of the most highly regarded American turf fillies in recent years, Castro seems to have a knack for riding quality turf stock – something Boyce has in abundance.  “He’s phenomenal,” she exclaimed with appreciation.  “He hasn’t been worse than third for me.  There’s something about being lucky with a rider, and I’ve been very lucky with him.  He fits my horses and rides them so well.” 

Perhaps the biggest star in the Boyce barn is the wickedly swift Saint Leon, who recently blitzed a six-furlong allowance on May 12 in 1:09.34, earning a 106 Beyer Speed Figure – the highest synthetic surface sprint figure of 2013.

“We were prepping for an allowance race for Saint Leon, but the race didn’t go,” reported the trainer.  “So, I will have time to put one more work into him before the (July 6 $100,000 Arlington) Sprint.  I think he’ll fire fresh.  He’s not a difficult horse to train.  He’s got a lot of personality and is all racehorse.”

An 8-year-old gelded son of Stravinsky, who himself was one of the best turf sprinters of the last few decades, Saint Leon has had his races spaced out well and flourished under the  handling of the careful Boyce.  Last year, he won an allowance race before taking the Arlington Sprint.  “He’s a very hard horse to beat out of that gate.  His rider (E. T. Baird) fits him to perfection.  He doesn’t care if a horse challenges the whole way – he will just run until he can’t,” Boyce said.

As far as the most famous member of the barn, Magna Fortuna (better known as “Taxi”), a colt whose acclaim stems from being saved from slaughter and subsequently becoming a winner at both Hawthorne Race Course and Arlington, he is “on vacation,” according to the trainer.

“Taxi will probably be back at the beginning of July.  He took a little longer to come out of his last race.  We had intended to turn him out after the (2012 Fall) Hawthorne meet, but the quarantine there forced us to stay in training.  We definitely want to get a couple of races into him here at Arlington before the end of the meet,” reported Boyce.

The Boyce barn, which looks poised to achieve additional success, is visibly enjoying and very thankful for the good fortune it is having thus far. The trainer’s patience and prowess are both equally as evident this season, and the stars of her veteran court – a lady, a prince and a saint – should make some royal noise before the end of the meet.

Dare to Dream Stable, Little Bear Racing Stable and Ingrid Mason’s Flower Spell is relishing her training and ready to take on graded company in the Grade III $150,000 Chicago Handicap on June 29.  “Yeah we are going to run her,” stated trainer Ingrid Mason’s assistant Juan Ferral.  “She is training every day and training very good.  She should be ready the 29th for a good race.” 

On June 12, the big chestnut filly showed her fitness by breezing a bullet four furlongs in :46.40.  If the daughter of Travers Stakes winner Flower Alley enters, she will be taking on her elders for the first time, as well as attempting to win a furlong beyond all her previous victories.

The Ingrid Mason barn definitely had a dramatic Wednesday afternoon as its filly Rahab Your Soul, a 4-year-old stakes-placed daughter of Perfect Soul, broke through the inside turf rail in an incident approaching the backstretch in a race.  After losing jockey Rosemary Homeister, Jr., the filly continued to follow the field from inside of the rail and pull up nicely after the finish line as if she was unaware that her jockey was not there for the ride.  “The jockey couldn’t get out and then the horse hit the fence,” explained Ferral.  “She has a little scratch, but she is okay.”

Homeister spent the night at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights with a reported concussion. 

When the racing week resumes on Friday, Arlington International Racecourse bettors will have a multitude of carryover pools at which to shoot.  The largest carryover pool heading into Friday’s card is for the Pick 6 - $65,814.  The Pick 6 is a $1 wager covering the final six races on the card and will begin on Friday’s fourth race.  One race later, the 50-cent Pick 5 will offer a carryover pool of $15,841. 

The two other carryover pools heading into Friday involve Arlington’s two jackpot wagers.  The JackPOT Pick 9, a 10-cent wager, has a carryover of $9,219 and begins with the day’s first race while the JackPOT High 5, a $1 wager, is offered on the final race of the day and has a carryover of $11,321.  In order to take down the jackpot for either of these wagers, the bettor must hold the lone winning ticket.  In the event that multiple winnings tickets are sold, 50% of the day’s net pool will be split among those bettors holding winning tickets while the other 50% will be added to the existing carryover.  All four wagers feature a fan-friendly takeout of just 15%.