Horses

Racing Roundup: Spring Quality Wins Red Smith & More

Spring Quality wins the $200,000, Grade 3 Red Smith Stakes on Nov. 11, 2017. Credits: Chelsea Durand | NYRA
Phil Serpe Credits: NYRA
Stellar Wind sells for $6 million at the Keenland Fall Breeding Stock Sale. Credits: Keenland

Spring Quality Makes Successful Move To Turf

George Strawbridge, Jr.'s Spring Quality made a successful transition from dirt racing to turf racing when he took the lead at the head of the stretch and then went on to win Aqueduct's $200,000, Grade 3 Red Smith Stakes on Nov. 11.

With Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado in the saddle for Strawbridge's Chester County, Pa. Augustin Stable and trainer Graham Motion, the home-bred Spring Quality defeated nine rivals in the contest of 1-3/8 miles on the Big A's newly renovated Inner Turf Course.

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The race was run for the 58th time in remembrance of the Pulitzer Prize winning Walter Wesley (Red) Smith who relished covering horse racing (among a host of other sports) for the New York Herald-Tribune and later the New York Times.

Spring Quality won his first stake race in August when he took Penn National's state-bred Robellino Stakes at 1-1/16 miles after it was washed off the turf course.

After the Red Smith trophy presentation, Graham chided himself for not trying the 5-year-old gelded son of Quality Road from the Deputy Minister mare Spring Star on the turf course sooner.

“I probably shouldn’t have waited so long to run him on the turf, but he handled the dirt well,” Graham said. “I didn't want to make him into a grass horse, but I have always had a suspicion that this is what he wanted to do.”

When asked about Spring Quality's future, Motion said a vacation was likely before gearing up for a graded stakes 2018 campaign. “I think he can run in the big races next year. This horse is very talented,” the trainer concluded.

At the finish line, it was Spring Quality by a half length over Klaravich and Lawrences's Call Provision who was moving up to stakes from wins in the allowance ranks. Team D's Get Jets, fresh from two stakes wins against New York-breds, took third money.

Spring Quality was clocked in 2:27.72 over a firm Inner Turf Course in winning his fifth career race from nine starts. The NYRA winner's check will boost his lifetime earnings to $295,797. His backers collected $27.20 for a $2 win wager.

Serpe Trains 1,000th Winner

When Wingman crossed the line first in the closing race at Aqueduct last Thursday, Phil Serpe joined the exclusive group of Thoroughbred horsemen and horsewomen who have trained 1,000 winners.

The 58-year-old native of Montclair, N.J., who started out working with saddle horses as lad, saddled his first two Thoroughbred winners at Keystone Park in 1894.

That horse's name was Alturas. Serpe remembers those days saying, “I won my first two races with him and I went 2-for-2 as a trainer. I said, 'this will be easy.'

'But, there's nothing easy about any if this. Every race you win is hard earned and well-deserved; and that goes for all my colleagues out there. It isn't easy to come by, especially in New York,” he concluded.

Wingman was Serpe's 1,000th from a career total of 7,379 starters that have earned $28.7 million in purses.

NYRA Helps Horsemen Pay Worker’s Compensation Insurance

Horseman racing at Aqueduct's winter meeting will get an assist with their workman's compensation payments of as much as $300 per starter starting Dec. 6.

The new program, announced by the New York Racing Association and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, will compensate the owners of horses who finish fourth through last in all Big A races.

The payment will be a per-start credit applied to the owner's outstanding balance owed to the New York Jockey Injury Compensation Fund. The fund provides workers' compensation insurance for all jockeys and exercise riders working at Aqueduct.

“This is a program that reflects NYRA’s continuing commitment to winter racing,” said Chris Kay, CEO and President of NYRA. “The goal is to increase field size and offer the best racing product possible. We’re pleased to work with NYTHA toward achieving that goal.”

Speaking for the owners and his fellow trainers, N.Y. Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association president Rick Violette, Jr. said, “NYTHA has long been a proponent of this and any program that might make the cost of doing business in New York a little less prohibitive and encourage interest in New York racing.

”The funds will be used to help defray the ever-rising cost of workers’ compensation insurance coverage for the jockeys and the exercise riders. While this is not an answer to the workers’ compensation crisis, it will help horsemen in the short term as we continue our work to find a long-term solution to the problem,” he concluded.

Stellar Wind Brings $6 Million At Auction

Stellar Wind, the Eclipse Award winning 3-year-old of 2015, has been retired from racing by her owners, Hronis Racing and has been sold to M.V. Magnier, one of the partners in the world-wide Coolmore organization for $6 million.

She brought that amount at the opening day of the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.

Magnier immediately announced the 5-year-old daughter of champion Curlin from the Malibu Moon mare Evening Star will be bred to Triple Crown and Eclipse Award winner American Pharoah.

Stellar Wind goes to the breeding shed sporting a record of 10 wins from 16 starts and earnings of $2.2 million dollars.

She was bred in Virginia by Keswick Farm in partnership with Stonestreet Street Stables. She closed out her career on the track with four Grade 1 wins in 2017 before finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Del Mar earlier in November.

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