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All of the names of the people who donated to the Kickstarter campaign.

Kraft Beer With Kindsey: Braxton Brewing Company

It is no secret that bourbon dominates this state, but the craft beer industry is growing in Kentucky. There are locally owned breweries and microbreweries scattered all around the state and it is my mission to travel to each and every one and tell their story.

Most 16-year-old boys in Kentucky are thinking about high school, girls, driving and maybe what colleges they are going to apply for.

That was not the case for Evan Rouse, the chief operator officer of Braxton Brewing Company.

Almost 8 years ago Rouse and his parents were dropping his older brother, Jake, off at Indiana University. On their way home, Jake and his parents stopped at Upland Brewing Company in Bloomington for a meal.

Before Rouse and his parents were about to leave, their waitress told them it was time for a free tour of the brewery. With having nothing better to do, the Rouses went on the tour.

Evan was 16 at the time,” Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Gandolf said. “He was the kid who would always take things apart to put them back together.”

“He just loved to tinker. So something about that tour kind of clicked with him; the chemistry, the creativity, the artistry, the science behind it all. He kind of fell in love with the process on this tour.”

On the drive home from Bloomington to Northern Kentucky, Rouse ordered a home brew kit on his smartphone from the back of the car without telling his parents. 

He at least had the wherewithal to ask for forgiveness rather than permission,” Gandolf said. “So he waited until it showed up on his parents’ front doorstep to tell them what his plan was.”

When the home brew kit arrived, Rouse explained it to his parents what it was and what he wanted to do.. His mom, Tina, was especially uneasy about it. His dad on the other hand, saw some free beer out of it.

His parents eventually saw that there was education and learning in the situation and put some rules into place. They told Rouse, “You’ll taste it and not drink it. You’ll do all the cleaning, all the brewing and all the purchasing.” So with those parameters in place, Rouse began home brewing in his garage at the age of 16 in Union, Ky.

After two years and at the age of 18, Rouse won a home brew competition with his Maibock (a German style of beer) at Bockfest in Cincinnati.

An 18-year-old winning a home brew competition raised a lot of eyebrows in the local brewing community, especially at Hofbrauhaus in Newport, Ky.

Hofbrauhaus gave Rouse an internship as a cellarman working in the brewhouse, cleaning, doing maintenance essentially so he could learn the brewing process on a bigger scale. 

Rouse showed a really high aptitude for brewing and Hofbrauhaus let him brew his own beers and eventually hired him as an assistant brewer.

Hofbrauhaus brews very traditionally German beers. Rouse wanted to combine the creativity of his home brewing with brewing scale he was learning at Hofbrauhaus and that’s when he got the idea to start a brewery. 

Rouse knew he was not capable of starting a brewery on his own, so he went to his older brother who studied entrepreneurship at Indiana and asked for help. With the help of Jake and some of Jake’s friends who had finance and marketing backgrounds, a business plan was written in November of 2013. The Rouses planned on spending most of 2014 fundraising and planning.

However, the fundraising part did not take as long as they had expected.

“We did a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of $30,000 in 30 days,” Gandolf said. “We did that in about 27 hours and then we ended up raising about $75,000 over 30 days. Still I think the most funded startups brewery project on their platform.”

All of the names of the people who donated to the Kickstarter campaign.

At the time, Richard Dubé was working at Moerlein Lager House in Cincinnati, but decided to quit one day, spur-of-the-moment, because he was doing too much paperwork and not enough brewing.

“The story goes he walked out to his car,” Gandolf said. “He’s French Canadian so he’s got this like beautiful accident and he drives a smart car which is just so fitting of him. But he said he called Evan before even called his own family and said I don’t know what the *bleep* you’re doing, but I want to be involved.”

Evan, Jake, Richard and Jake and Evan’s dad, Greg Rouse, formed the four co-founders of Braxton and opened Braxton Brewing Company in March of 2015 in Covington, Ky.

Braxton started in the garage of the Rouse’s house on Braxton Drive. Braxton pays homage to where it all began with the name of the brewery and a garage motto that can be seen throughout the brewery.

The garage motto helped them decide on the location for the brewery.

“We walked into this space and it had a garage right in the middle of it,” Gandold said. “We kind of already had this like “born in the garage mantra” the we were going with. It kind of felt fateful.”

“This building used to be an art gallery. So if you look at the ceiling there’s all these light bulbs and we joke we’re the best lit brewery in America. We basically tore everything down around this garage. We knocked out some ceiling in the back and turned it into a Braxton Brewing Company.”

The garage inside Braxton.

Braxton has their core lineup of beers, their seasonals, and then the beers they call the “Garage Series”.

“That’s kind of what we call our brewers playground,” Gandolf said. “We let them brew what they like.”

The brewers playground doesn’t stop with the Garage Series. Braxton opened Braxton Labs in May as a place for “experimentation, innovation and education.”

We’re doing a lot of crazy stuff over there,” Gandolf said.

One of the “crazy stuff” that was brewed at Braxton Labs was a sweet potato casserole brown ale. The brewers at Braxton were adamant about not doing a pumpkin beer, but still wanted to make a fall seasonal. So the brewers decided on a sweet potato casserole beer, which they have decided to bottle before Thanksgiving.

Braxton Labs extends beyond brewing “crazy” beers. It is a place where you can go to learn about the brewing process.

There are man times when Braxton’s head brewer hangs out at Braxton Labs and has beers with people to discuss home brewing and answer any questions they might have. 

Beer is very important to to the people at Braxton, of course, but at Braxton beer means more to them.

“Since we’ve opened, we always wanted to be more than just a beverage company,” Gandolf said. “We wanted to be a place that people will come and celebrate, commemorate and lift one to life. That’s the best way to sum it up. Beer is more than just a drink, it’s what brings the community together. We think it’s a platform, a vehicle for the community. That’s what we try to be in this space. That’s what we try to be for Covington, for Northern Kentucky, greater Cincinnati and beyond. We want to be more than just a beer people drink.”

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Kraft Beer With Kindsey: Rooster Brewing

Kraft Beer With Kindsey: Rooster Brewing

It is no secret that bourbon dominates this state, but the craft beer industry is growing in Kentucky. There are locally owned breweries and microbreweries scattered all around the state and it is my mission to travel to each and every one and tell their story.

When you walk into Rooster Brewing’s taproom located in downtown Paris, you are greeted with a sleepy puppy.

No, an employee is not standing there holding a pint of their most popular beer, a Belgian Blond called “Sleepy Puppy,” but you are greeted by a 100-pound sleeping bull mastiff.

Angus is a certified service dog who is trained in mobility assistance and can be seen basking in the sunlight that comes through the front windows and door on most days.

Unfortunately for Angus, he isn’t the most famous animal around Rooster Brewing. A stray rooster without a tail, who was the inspiration behind the naming of the brewery, is.

Ralph Quillin, owner and master brewer, was given a home brew kit by his kids that sat in his basement for years until an injury caused by one of the cows on his farm changed that.

Ralph’s injury required surgery and a cast that kept him immobile for three months. During that time he started researching and reading about opening a restaurant or bar, something he always wanted to do.

Once Ralph was mobile again, he and his wife, Donna, attended a class on brewing at Lexington Beerworks. After they dusted off the home brew kit that had been sitting in the basement, Ralph began home brewing in the backyard.

“So then we went home and we tried it and he enjoyed the process,” Donna said. “But we live on a farm where, you know, people typically put out stray dogs or stray cats but we ended up with a stray rooster. He would just peck around all the time so you know he enjoyed when Ralph was out in the backyard doing the brewing. The rooster was always pecking up all the grains.”

After a while, Ralph’s home brewing process grew and had to be moved inside.

“We kind of graduated from backyard brewing to basement brewing,” Donna said. “I guess the rooster stayed around for about a month and then as quickly as he came, he disappeared one day.”

Without the grains from the home brewing on the ground, the Rooster lost interest and moved on.

Rooster-less, Ralph continued to home brew in the basement and started attending home brewers meetings. Soon after, him and Donna decided to take it a step further and open a brewery.

We decided to go for it,” Donna said. “After he moved to the basement and then he started moving back up to the kitchen and after the day I came home and the whole kitchen, you know, it had all this stuff and I was like “that’s it, you’re outta here buddy”. So then we decided to bring it downtown as a business.”

The Quillins found their location of the brewery easily, but the hard part was choosing a name.

“We were going somewhere one day and oh my goodness naming a place is harder than naming a baby I think,” Donna joked. 

“Just driving somewhere one day and we got to talking about that old rooster and I was like “why don’t we just name it Rooster Brewing?”.”

The Quillins continued to play around with other names until finally deciding that Rooster Brewing fit perfectly.

Rooster Brewing acquired a brewing system and cooler from a brewery that went out of business in Northern Kentucky and began brewing in the back of the taproom on Main Street. In April of 2014 the first and only brewery opened in Paris.

After a while production increased and Rooster moved their brewing system to a larger space a few blocks away and just a short walk from the taproom.

The scene of the brewing facility is something that is rare among breweries in the state and around the country, there is a female head brewer.

Kaylyn Shumate was introduced to craft beer by a friend in college and fell in love with it. She didn’t know what do with her new found love, so she started the wine making, brewing and distillation certification at the University of Kentucky. The classes in the program also fulfilled toward the degree she was pursuing, equine science.

“[I] Woke up one morning, this man [Ralph] had posted on Facebook that he needed a bartender and I was like “sure I’ll shoot a resume”,” Shumate said. “I’m in school and I need kind of just a silly job on the side to go do. So fast forward and did that for two and half years.”

Shumate was planning on moving to Alaska after graduation, but Ralph and the people at Rooster didn’t let that happen.

“And these guys said “nope” you are not leaving.” Shumate said. “So [they] offered me the job and here we are five months later. Rocking and rolling and learning every day.”

Shumate’s degree in equine science clearly does not qualify her to be a master brewer, but she learned a lot about the process while bartending at Rooster and from the brewing classes she took at UK. 

“They sent me off to other breweries with female head breweries and they kind of taught me, took me under their wing,” Shumate said. 

Although Schumate may be one of the few female head brewers in the state, she just wants to be looked at as one of the guys.

I didn’t really want to enter and say, you know, “wow we got a female brewer, third or fourth in the state”,” Shumate said. “It’s great and it’s a novelty but really at the end of the day I’d like to be one of the guys. And go to festivals and be an equal. So I don’t push it as hard.”

Being detail oriented is very important in the brewing process at Rooster and Ralph was happy to hire Shumate because of her attention to detail.

“She is incredibly organized,” said Vince Grupposo, the general manager. “Her attention to detail and love for learning has been really, really awesome. We definitely feel the difference having her in the brewery.”

The addition of Shumate and an assistant brewer were important to the growth of Rooster Brewing. Rooster is opening a brewpub in Lexington on North Limestone with Gastro Gnomes, a Lexington food truck.

“It will be a different name even though it’s under us,” Grupposo said. “It’ll feature all Rooster brews. It’s kind of a remote taproom on our side and then we bring in Gastro Gnomes and give them a kitchen.”

One of the goals of the brewpub, which is supposed to open mid-November, is to bring awareness of Paris’ close proximity to Lexington. From Lexington to Paris, it’s about a 30-minute, 18 mile drive down one of the most historical roads in Kentucky, Paris Pike.

Although Rooster Brewing has a great local customer base and can sometimes be described as the show Cheers on Thursday and Friday nights, Rooster Brewing wants more people to visit Paris and enjoy their city and their beer.

The people at Rooster are very proud of Paris and hope that Rooster Brewing will bring more awareness to their city.

609 Main St

Paris, KY 40361

(859) 707-3436



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QEII Day at Keeneland, presented by Pocket Aces Racing

Message from our sponsor:

Have you ever wanted to roam the paddock at Keeneland between races?  Have you ever imagined what it would be like to see your horse line up in the starting gate?  Have you ever dreamt of having your picture taken in the winner’s circle?  Owning a race horse is easier and more affordable than you might think.  Let Pocket Aces Racing LLC show you how. Thoroughbred racing partnerships are forming now.  

Three-year old fillies take center stage at Keeneland on Saturday in an invitational named in honor of the United Kingdom’s matriarch.  The 34th running of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, a 9 furlong race on the grass, lost its morning-line favorite Friday morning when Godolphin announced that Wuheida would scratch.  Ten top class fillies remain in what still looks like a very impressive renewal of the race despite losing the Group 1 winner from across the pond.  The feature is supported by a strong cast of maiden and allowance events that offer a number of enticing wagering opportunities.

Image result for keeneland queen elizabeth ii

(Image courtesy of Keeneland)

Race 5 on Saturday drew a field of 11 colts and geldings going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf course.  In a field mostly full of 1 for lifers, preference goes to several more lightly raced horses that have not yet fully proven to be nothing more than mediocre.  Takeoff is eligible to improve in his second start on the grass.  He exits a sprint at Kentucky Downs where he made up almost 5 lengths in the last quarter mile in his first start back from a lengthy layoff.  Belgian is making his second start back from a brief freshening and should move forward off a close runner-up finish in a mile race at Kentucky Downs.  Hollow Point faded when going too far in the Dueling Grounds Derby and will be much better suited going a quarter mile shorter against softer competition in this spot.  Flash Harry also makes his second start of the form cycle and first since being gelded.  He’ll need to figure out how to save some ground drawn widest of all in post 11.

The 6th race for 2yo maidens going 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track drew a full field of 12 including several intriguing first-timers that could juice up the exotics.  Sargeant Drive is 12/1 on the morning line for Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, who often does not have his horses fully cranked for their debuts.  This colt’s work pattern looks like he may be fit enough to put forth a strong effort first time out.  He posted three works over the deep surface of Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track and then shipped to Keeneland to post a :47 and 3 half-mile breeze from the gate last Saturday.  The royally bred son of Tapit is out of the very good race mare Carriage Trail, who had 3 victories, including the Grade 1 Spinster, over the dreaded Keeneland polytrack.  He may be talented enough to put a scare into the favorites, Royal Creed and Kilroy Was Here Loup fired a 5 furlong bullet in :59 flat over this surface last Friday and is another meriting strong consideration from the Ignacio Correas barn, who fires at a very respectable 17% with his first time starters.

Keep your eyes on The Bull in race 7.  The Aussie shipper gets Lasix for his North American debut for owner and trainer Brian Lynch.  Julien Leparoux, who had been the regular rider for two other contenders in here, picks up the mount.

Race 8 is a 3/4 mile sprint on the main track for 3yo fillies, and it drew a wide-open field of 12.  Several to pay attention to at double digit odds on the morning line are Laura B., Perfect Wife, Delphinia, and Promises BrokenLaura B. won her first two starts at Northlands Park by a combined 24 lengths.  Though this is undoubtedly a significant step up in competition, both the second place finisher from her debut and the third place finisher from her most recent victory both came back to win their next starts.  Keep in mind these are horses that Laura B. defeated by double digit lengths.  It looks like she was then purchased privately by Brad Grady and Taylor Made Farm and subsequently transferred to the care of Joe Sharp.  The daughter of Run Away and Hide has posted a couple good works locally and looks like she might just fit with the rest of these.  Perfect Wife won a minor stake race in her 3rd career start and then jumped into the deep end of the pool where she was pummeled by the likes of It Tiz Well and Elate.  She gets back to the surface she prefers after a grass experiment and should appreciate the cut back in distance over the track where she broke her maiden at first asking last autumn.  Delphinia is another who has been trying different things of late.  She comes into this off three discouraging performances over grass and polytrack.  The pricey 2yo-in training purchase for Stonestreet ran decent in her only other dirt start, a 2nd place effort here in her debut last fall.  Perhaps what is most interesting is that Mike Smith picks up the mount for Wesley Ward.  Promises Broken crept into a photo for the show spot when rounding out the superfecta in the Grade 2 Beaumont in the spring meet.

The QEII goes as race 9 and is really an exceptional betting race.  The top 4 finishers from the Del Mar Oaks all return in this spot as well as the defending Breeders’ Cup champion and the fillies that swept the last 3 graded stakes in New York for this division.  Dream Dancing, Beau Recall, and Madam Dancealot finished in that order, only a neck apart, in the Del Mar Oaks.  They are all in with a solid chance, as is Con Te Partiro who finished just over a length behind those three and now gets to run over her home track.  Proctor’s Ledge was very impressive in her last two victories for Brendan Walsh at Saratoga, but she loses rider Javier Castellano who instead chose New Money Honey, the only two-time Grade 1 winner in the field.  La Coronel looked like she might be the best in this division back in the spring when she swept the Grade 3 Appalachian here and Edgewood at Churchill.  A less than ideal trip to Royal Ascot ensued, and she has not yet returned to her Kentucky spring-time form since her return from the United Kingdom.  She has displayed an obvious fondness for the Keeneland lawn in the past, and it would certainly be dangerous to overlook her in this spot.  With no speed whatsoever signed on, look for Jose Lezcano to once again ride La Coronel aggressively from the gate and try to steal this on the front end.  New Money Honey will be the likely favorite and deservedly so.  She has taken the two marquee events in this division the last two seasons with last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf and the Belmont Oaks Invitational this July.  She sits atop the division until one of these other fillies can step up and beat her.

Friday the 13th at Keeneland, presented by Pocket Aces Racing

Message from our sponsor:

Have you ever wanted to roam the paddock at Keeneland between races?  Have you ever imagined what it would be like to see your horse line up in the starting gate?  Have you ever dreamt of having your picture taken in the winner’s circle?  Owning a race horse is easier and more affordable than you might think.  Let Pocket Aces Racing LLC show you how. Thoroughbred racing partnerships are forming now.  

The second week of Keeneland’s fall meet kicked off on Wednesday with a card that featured the last ‘Win and You’re In’ race for this year’s Breeders’ Cup.  Rushing Fall put on a dominant performance in the Grade 3 Jessamine Stakes, making up nearly 10 lengths on her rivals in the latter stages to win going away.  After galloping along near the rear of the field early on, Rushing Fall began picking up the pace significantly around the clubhouse turn moving from 9th, 6 lengths back of the leader after 3/4 of a mile, to finish more than 3 lengths ahead of runner-up Stainless.  She will certainly be amongst the favorites in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf off that powerful performance.

Friday’s 10 race card includes plenty of overflow fields with nice wagering opportunities.  The 5th race features a full field of 2yo maiden fillies with four of the primary contenders exiting the same race at Churchill Downs.  That September 16th event took place over 6 furlongs, and the fillies from that race will try to stretch their stamina an extra sixteenth of a mile today.  The runner-up finisher from that race, Classy Act, came back with another strong effort here on Wednesday when she led every step but the last when going a mile on the main track.  That effort makes Flash n’ Dance look pretty formidable in here as she finished 3rd in that race at Churchill, just a head adrift of Classy Act on the wire.  She was drawn wide that day, as she is in here, but used her speed to beat Trust to the lead and then put that rival away through the stretch before being collared by the top two late.  The two swap gate positions this time, with Trust just inside of Flash n’ Dance, but one would certainly expect both fillies to be sent hard to gain position early, where they are likely to vie for the lead with Dagney’s Warrior who is drawn on the rail and showed ample speed from the far outside in her debut run.  A 3 horse speed duel in front should set things up quite nicely for Pinot and Tell Your Mama, the 7th and 4th place finishers from that September 16th heat in Louisville.  Both made off-the-pace runs in that debut spot, with Tell Your Mama emerging as the more impressive of the two on that occasion.  However, Pinot could offer significant value at twice the morning line of Tell Your Mama.  Kellyn Gorder horses often show significant improvement in their second starts, and the filly put in a very impressive work over the local track when her :47 and 3 half-mile drill was the 8th fastest of 123 works at the distance last Saturday.

Image result for keeneland(Image courtesy of Keeneland)

The 6th race at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass for older fillies and mares features a significant class dropper that seems like a pretty logical single in the pick 5, the lowest priced bet on Keeneland’s wagering menu with only a 15% takeout.  Linda spent most of this year in graded stakes company, knocking heads with some of the best filly and mare turf runners in the country including Celestine, Roca Rojo, Dona Bruja, and Miss Temple City.  Trainer Ian Wilkes gave her a brief freshening after a 2nd place finish at Indiana Downs in July, and she returned in a Grade 3 at Kentucky Downs last month where she filled the show slot behind Miss Temple City and ZipessaZipessa came back to win the Grade 1 First Lady here on Saturday.  Linda is a graded stakes winner herself as she took the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill last November following a nice runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Valley View here at Keeneland.  In a race without much pace, she has enough tactical speed to insure herself of good positioning and a clean trip under Brian Hernandez Jr.

The 7th is a 7 furlong allowance for juvenile colts and geldings.  Trappezoid is only eligible for this race because he ran for a $75k claiming tag when defeating similar company three weeks ago at Churchill.  He gets the nod in here as the only horse in the field with two wins, both of which were fairly professional off-the-pace efforts.  That style should work well for him again today as Promises Fulfilled and Nickie’s Papa both look poised to set a fast pace.  Promises Fulfilled could be something special for trainer Dale Romans.  He won by a comfortable 4 lengths going gate-to-wire in his debut, and the runner-up finisher from that race, Rubus, broke his maiden here on Saturday.  The Shackleford colt also posted a strong :59 and 4 bullet work at Churchill on Tuesday in preparation for this.  Dreamer’s Point is another that might benefit if a testy speed duel develops up front.  He came from near the back of the pack to take his debut at Ellis last month.  Psychoanalyze looked to be in over his head against graded stakes company at Saratoga.  He could certainly show improvement with the addition of Lasix, as the running line makes it look like he may have bled in the Hopeful.

The Grade 3 Franklin County, a 5 1/2 furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares, goes as the featured 9th raceMiss Ella, the defending champion, drew the rail.  She has obviously shown an affinity for the Keeneland lawn, and she is a very consistent performer at the 5 1/2 furlong distance with 5 top 2 finishes in 6 attempts.  There should be enough speed signed on here to set up her late rally.  Kasuga will certainly make her presence felt early, and she merits considerable respect coming from the Bill Mott barn.  She spent most of the year at Woodbine, where she nearly took the Grade 3 Royal North field gate-to-wire.  The cut-back in distance and rider change to Julien Leparoux are both in her favor as well.  Pressuring her near the front will be Ruby Notion and MorticiaRuby Notion was less than three lengths behind the brilliant Lady Aurelia in the Giant’s Causeway over this same course in April.  Morticia is a perfect 4 for 4 on the grass at distances less than 6 furlongs.  Always Thinking will also benefit from a torrid pace up front.  She exits a stakes win at Laurel Park where she finished in a blazing fast 1:07 and 3 for 6 furlongs.  Nobody’s Fault is capable of upsetting these from off-the-pace as well.  She owns some nice finishes against several of the top contenders, most notably splitting Lady Aurelia and Ruby Notion here in April.  Lull tops the plethora of contenders in this spot.  While the distance could be a tad short for her, she did break her maiden going 3/4 of a mile and she enters this off a 2-length victory in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint going 6 1/2 – beating Morticia in the process.  She has the perfect stalking style for this pace scenario as she possesses enough speed for Hernandez to keep her settled just behind the top 3 where she can get first run on the deep closers.

Best of luck on Friday and don’t forget to check back tomorrow for a look at Saturday’s card featuring the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup.

Photo: Field of Screams FB page

Clown accused of licking teenage girl’s face at Meade County Halloween attraction

Photo: Field of Screams FB page

Today in “Creepy Clowns”: a clown at a Halloween attraction in Meade County has been accused of licking a 15-year-old girl’s face and throwing her down on a mattress. The alleged incident took place Friday night at the Field of Screams in Brandenburg. Per WDRB:

“He proceeds to lick her up the side of the face and stick his tongue in her ear and tell her that she tastes like vanilla,” the girl’s grandmother said. “Then he picks her up over his shoulder off the ground, throws her on a mattress and is holding her down by her ankles.”

The alleged incident took place in the Clown Tent, where customers are warned that the actors may touch them; however, licking someone’s face and throwing them down on a mattress is clearly different than touching someone’s arm to spook them. The actor who plays the clown has been identified and his name has been turned over to police.

Clowns, man.


Look Ahead to the Breeders’ Cup: Classic, Distaff and Mile, presented by Pocket Aces Racing

Message from our sponsor:

Have you ever wanted to roam the paddock at Keeneland between races?  Have you ever imagined what it would be like to see your horse line up in the starting gate?  Have you ever dreamt of having your picture taken in the winner’s circle?  Owning a race horse is easier and more affordable than you might think.  Let Pocket Aces Racing LLC show you how. Thoroughbred racing partnerships are forming now.  

This year the Breeders’ Cup will once again return to southern California, marking the 7th time in the last decade that the year-end championship event for thoroughbred racing will take place there.  The previous six meets were all held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.  This will be the first edition to be held at Del Mar, where the turf meets the surf, just outside San Diego.  All of the major prep races are now complete as the last Breeders’ Cup Challenge ‘Win and You’re In’ race takes place on Wednesday at Keeneland with the Jessamine Stakes, an automatic qualifier for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.  While the final fields will take shape over the next several weeks leading up to the races on November 3rd and 4th, we already know who the primary contenders are.  Today we’ll take a look at three of the more interesting races, the Distaff, Mile and Classic.

There is very little doubt that Stellar Wind will end up the favorite in the Distaff at 9 furlongs for fillies and mares 3-years old and up.  In a division largely dominated by Beholder for the last 4 years, Stellar Wind has been perfect in just 3 starts this year, and is also perfect in 3 lifetime starts at Del Mar.  At the top of her game she is the unquestioned leader of this division.  However, there are a number of reasons that could dissuade punters from taking a short price on her.  She will enter the Distaff off a layoff of more than 3 months as she has been idle since a neck decision in the Clement Hirsch on July 30th.  While she has performed well returning from similar breaks in the past, this is the first time she will face Breeders’ Cup quality competition without the benefit of a prep race.  Stellar Wind is also winless at the 1 1/8 mile distance.  She finished 4th as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks, 2nd in the 2015 Distaff, and ran a dull 4th as the 2nd choice in the race last year.  She has not been asked to do much serious work since the Clement Hirsch, but you would expect John Sadler to begin tightening the screws this week.  To see her wind up in the winner’s circle would be no surprise, but there are almost as many questions as there are answers.  Forever Unbridled will likely go off as the 2nd choice in the wagering.  She beat Stellar Wind in last year’s Distaff, finishing just over a length behind that epic duel between Beholder and Songbird.  The daughter of Unbridled’s Song has raced only twice this year, but won impressively each time, following a facile score in the Fleur de Lis at Churchill with a determined nose victory over Songbird in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga.  In contrast to Stellar Wind, Forever Unbridled is proven at 9 furlongs with 4 prior wins at the distance.  She is a certified closer, but getting the necessary pace to run at is not usually a problem in the Breeders’ Cup.  After the top two choices, things open up quite a bit, and the strongest remaining contenders appear to be from the 3yo crop.  Three-year olds have been quite successful in the Distaff, winning 10 of 33 races in the event’s history.

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(Image via Breeders’ Cup)

Abel Tasman became the pro-tem leader of the 3yo filly division on the strength of her 3 straight Grade 1 victories in the Kentucky Oaks, Acorn, and Coaching Club American Oaks.  She most recently finished as runner-up in the Grade 1 Cotillion when her patented middle move left her without enough gas in the tank to fend off a winning challenge from It Tiz Well.  That improving daughter of Arch has now won 2 of her last 3 and may well be peaking at the right time for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.  The most intriguing prospect for the Distaff from this vantage point is Elate.  She has been very well thought of by the Bill Mott barn since prior to her November debut as a 2yo.  The daughter of Medaglia D’Oro had a somewhat disappointing spring in that she did not improve as quickly as was expected of her.  However, she has come to hand strongly over the past few months.  She came within a head of upsetting Abel Tasman in the Coaching Club, despite a difficult trip along the rail.  She followed that game runner-up effort with a breakout performance in a dominating victory in the Alabama at Saratoga where she was 5 1/2 lengths clear of It Tiz Well in second.  Most recently, she crushed a mediocre field of older rivals in the Grade 1 Beldame by 8 plus lengths.  She will enter the Distaff as the only 3yo with a victory over older females and has proven on multiple occasions now that the distance is most certainly not an issue.  Hall of Famer Mott leads all trainers with 5 Breeders’ Cup Distaff wins, 2 of which came with 3yos.

This will be only the second time in the last decade that the field for the Breeders’ Cup Mile has not included either Goldikova, Wise Dan, or Tepin.  Those three brilliant milers dominated the event over the last ten years, accounting for 6 wins, a second and a third over that time span.  Also taking into account the retirement of 3-time participant and last year’s winner, Tourist, this year’s Mile really does involve a changing of the guard.  The greatest American hope is once again stabled in the Mark Casse barn in the form of World Approval.  He’s really done nothing wrong this year with the only blemish on his record coming in the Manhattan, a race well beyond his preferred distance.  Aside from that, he is unbeaten in 4 other starts this term with dominating performances at the one mile distance in his last two, the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga and the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile.  No one has been more impressive, or more consistent, in the turf mile division in North America this year.  It will be interesting to see which international invaders ship in to contest the event as the ‘Win and You’re In’ series included 6 qualifying races for the Mile that took place outside North America.  In addition to that, Suedois, a fairly unimposing European, shipped across the pond to take down the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland on Saturday.  In a year when European shippers have largely taken it on the chin from their American counterparts in the longer grass races, one would have to believe that the win from Suedois would embolden the connections of any European that may have been sitting on the fence regarding Breeders’ Cup participation.  It’s very unclear at the moment who might show up, but the field for the Mile is certainly one worth following in these final weeks of preparation.

If not for Steve Asmussen, Bob Baffert would be a 1 to 10 favorite to take home his 4th straight Breeders’ Cup Classic trophy.  Baffert will saddle defending champion and reigning Horse of the Year Arrogate, Pacific Classic winner Collected, Awesome Again winner Mubtaahij, and Travers winner and leading 3yo colt West Coast in this year’s edition of the race.  One would expect them all to be amongst the top half of the wagering choices, with Arrogate and Collected competing with Asmussen’s Gun Runner for favoritism.  Arrogate was the runaway leader of the handicap division after 4 straight spectacular Grade 1 triumphs in the Travers, Classic, Pegasus, and Dubai World Cup, but he has not been the same horse in two subsequent starts since his return from Dubai.  He was a considerably lackluster 4th in the San Diego, and while he did look markedly better in the Pacific Classic he had every chance to get by stablemate Collected and could not do it.  What is probably most concerning, even beyond the two sub-par results, is that Arrogate just does not seem to move over the Del Mar surface the same way he does elsewhere.  His powerful, fluid stride is just not the same at the seaside oval.  It is possible he is just not the same horse as he was prior to Dubai, but he is definitely not the same horse at Del Mar.  The son of Unbridled’s Song has had a relatively easy time since the Pacific Classic, but you can bet that Baffert will get to work now with less than a month to go.  He gave Arrogate 5 works in 25 days last October leading up to the Classic, and the horse just had his 2nd work of the month this morning, posting a 5 furlong bullet at Santa Anita.  It seemed like Baffert might be testing the limits of his colt’s pedigree when he entered Collected in the Pacific Classic, but the son of City Zip handled it with aplomb, leading every step of the way to stamp himself as the new top dog in his barn and a leading Classic contender.  He was given ample time off after a dismal effort in last year’s Preakness and has returned this season with 4 wins in as many starts.  The Pacific Classic marked his first Grade 1 win, and the Speedway Stable color-bearer may well still be improving.  Gun Runner shipped west not too long after his 3rd consecutive Grade 1 victory (Stephen Foster, Whitney, Woodward) in order to acclimate to the weather in southern California and go through his final Breeders’ Cup preparations alongside his primary competition at Santa Anita.  He will be the only one of the top 3 colts without a prior race at Del Mar, but with wins at 5 different race tracks and solid 2nd place finishes at 3 others, he seems to be the kind that takes his track with him.  No horse in the country was more impressive over the summer than the chestnut son of Candy Ride, but he has not seen the likes of Arrogate or Collected since being outrun by the former in Dubai at the end of March.  This year’s Classic has all the makings of an epic showdown, and if most of the field shows up with their best stuff, it will undoubtedly go down as one of the all-time greats.

Sunday Spinster Day at Keeneland, presented by Pocket Aces Racing

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Have you ever wanted to roam the paddock at Keeneland between races?  Have you ever imagined what it would be like to see your horse line up in the starting gate?  Have you ever dreamt of having your picture taken in the winner’s circle?  Owning a race horse is easier and more affordable than you might think.  Let Pocket Aces Racing LLC show you how. Thoroughbred racing partnerships are forming now.  

The first Sunday of the Keeneland Fall Meet includes two ‘Win and You’re In’ events for the Breeders’ Cup.  The forecast calls for some wet weather, and this look at the card will keep that in mind.

Stonetacular appears to be a mortal lock in the day’s 2nd race.  She is the only filly in this second level allowance heat with any speed at all.  She can walk along in front and still have plenty left in reserve for the stretch run.  She becomes an even safer bet over an off-track as her two wins have come over surfaces labeled muddy and sloppy.  Use her as a free space in all the early multi-race exotics.

Race 6 drew an evenly matched field of seven older horses going 7 furlongs on the main track.  Storm Advisory and Clear the Mine will likely vie for the early lead.  Clear the Mine won twice over the local strip last fall and a return to that form would almost certainly have him in the winner’s circle here.  The problem is that he has been beaten a combined 57 lengths in four subsequent starts.  Storm Advisory is a stake winner whose best effort would certainly be enough to get the job done here, but that best effort rarely presents itself, and he is yet to hit the board in three prior trips to Lexington.  Grand Candy and Rocket Time are difficult to separate, but Grand Candy looks like a better horse on the grass and Rocket Time’s decent record on an off-track leave him as the top selection.

(Image courtesy of Keeneland)

Mia Mischief will be very difficult to deny in the 7th race.  She commanded a $300,000 bid from the Heiligbrodts at Fasig-Tipton’s Florida 2yo sale earlier this year – by far and away the most expensive purchase in this group.  On top of that, she nearly took a 12 horse field gate-to-wire in her debut, holding on for a stubborn 2nd behind Princess Warrior who backed up that maiden victory with a runner-up finish in Friday’s Grade 1 Alcibiades.

14 go postward in the Grade 3 Bourbon, the 8th race on the card, and any one of them could emerge victorious.  Tap Daddy is already a proven commodity over a rain-softened turf course, having broken his maiden over yielding ground at Kentucky Downs.  Flameaway makes his first start on the lawn with excellent grass rider Julien Leparoux aboard.  He’s one of only two horses in here to have crossed the line first in two prior starts.  Admiralty Pier missed all the money by less than a length in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes at Woodbine.  His sire English Channel absolutely relished rain-softened turf courses.  Arawak is certainly eligible to improve in his 2nd attempt on the grass.

The Grade 1 Spinster drew 13 as the featured 9th race.  The winner will earn a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where she will be no threat to the likes of Stellar Wind, Vale Dori, Forever Unbridled and the top 3yos.  This is a very weak field for a Grade 1, and it simply speaks to the weakness of the division overall in the Midwest.  Romantic Vision merits consideration on the basis of her 2 prior wins and 1 runner-up effort over the Keeneland track.  She is also one of the few graded stake winners in the field.  If the rain does come, Bar of Gold moves way up.  She has 5 wins and one 2nd place finish in 6 lifetime starts over wet tracks.  Lockdown probably offers the most upside as an improving 3yo for Hall of Famer Bill Mott.  She finished a solid 3rd over a sloppy surface in the Kentucky Oaks and would be a fitting winner for race sponsor Juddmonte Farm.

Best of luck, both at the windows and trying to stay dry.  We’ll be back next weekend.


Fall Stars Saturday at Keeneland presented by Pocket Aces Racing

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Have you ever wanted to roam the paddock at Keeneland between races?  Have you ever imagined what it would be like to see your horse line up in the starting gate?  Have you ever dreamt of having your picture taken in the winner’s circle?  Owning a race horse is easier and more affordable than you might think.  Let Pocket Aces Racing LLC show you how. Thoroughbred racing partnerships are forming now.  

Saturday’s card at Keeneland is highlighted by five graded stakes races, four of which are ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifiers for the Breeders’ Cup which runs November 3rd and 4th at Del Mar.  Here’s a breakdown of the stakes action from Fall Stars Saturday at Keeneland:

The 21st running of the Grade 2 Woodford kicks off the day’s stakes action in the 5th race.  For a turf sprint, there isn’t a ton of early lick in here.  Bucchero and Latent Revenge seem most likely to vie for the early lead, and while either one could be dangerous if left alone, their past performances do not provide much evidence suggesting either could wind up in the winner’s circle.  After a dismal performance going a mile here in the spring, Bill Mott turned Commend back to sprint distances.  The strategy paid off with two allowance victories and a close runner-up finish in a Grade 3 at Kentucky Downs.  He will be making a strong run through the lane and should contend for top honors if he gets a clean trip from Jose Lezcano.  Conquest Panthera is undefeated at distances less than a mile.  He ran a game 3rd in the Grade 1 Makers 46 Mile here in the spring, and his class puts him amongst the top contenders, but this is the shortest distance he has ever raced.  You have to wonder if he will leave himself too much to do in a race that is not guaranteed to have a blistering pace.  Mongolian Saturday is 2 for 3 over the Keeneland lawn, including a win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in 2015.  He seemed to have fallen off form for most of this year, but he comes into this on the heels of a nice runner-up effort behind top sprinter Pure Sensation in the Grade 3 Turf Monster at Parx.  He retains the services of Javier Castellano, and if rounding back into top form, could certainly challenge for top honors.  The grizzled veteran and newly minted millionaire Hogy, for Mike (Hui, owner) and Mike (Maker, trainer), gets the nod from the morning line-maker on the back of perhaps the best performance of his career – a half length victory over Commend in the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint.  He deserves plenty of respect despite being winless in four prior starts at Keeneland.

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(Photo courtesy of Keeneland)

Race 6 is the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America, a ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.  Finley’sluckycharm is an absolute standout in this field.  She possesses ample speed that will allow her to dictate the pace.  She is 8 for 11 lifetime and is only a neck away from being undefeated in 6 starts at this 3/4 mile distance.  The Twirling Candy filly has trained very well since that lone 6 furlong defeat to dual Grade 1 winner Paulassilverlining.  All that said, Finley’sluckcharm is not an absolute lock.  She will face some early pace pressure from both Chalon, under the aggressive Paco Lopez, and True Romance – both drawn to her outside.  If the favorite does get leg weary late, Bendable appears to be the most likely benefactor of a pace meltdown.  She ships cross country – likely to avoid the monster that is Unique Bella in the L.A. Woman at Santa Anita – for Hall of Famer Richard Mandella and Claiborne Farm.

The Grade 1 First Lady goes as race 7, and the winner will earn a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, which will be run at 9 furlongs for the first time.  That change in distance makes this one mile prep a bit more meaningful than it has been in the past when the Filly and Mare Turf was run at either 1 1/4 or 1 3/8 miles.  This 7 horse field is largely devoid of early speed.  Dickinson and Zipessa will likely challenge each other at the head of affairs with Hawksmoor sitting in the garden spot just behind the leaders.  Julien Leparoux should get the jump on closers Roca Rojo and Dona Bruja.  That expected pace scenario makes the Irish-bred daughter of Azamour the top selection in here.  The others mentioned are all quite capable on their best day, but the feeling is that the two closers will be left with just a bit too much to do because of the moderate pace set-up.  Dickinson has shown a prior affinity for this turf course having won the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley here in the spring, and she would be a tempting play as well if her odds drift up a few clicks from that 5/2 morning line.

Two-year old colts take the stage in race 8, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity.  Free Drop Billy and Givemeaminit merit strong consideration as they finished just a head apart when filling the place and show spots in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Hopeful.  Both are certified closers already proven against grade 1 caliber competition, and their running styles suggest further improvement is quite likely in their first two-turn test.  Ezmosh looks dangerous for Zayat Stables and trainer Brad Cox.  He’s drawn near the rail in post 2 and has an early turn of foot that should allow Javier Castellano to control the pace.  He has steadily improved in each of his 3 starts as the distances have increased and owns the field’s highest Beyer speed figure from his one mile victory at Churchill just three weeks ago.  Lone Sailor broke his maiden by 11 lengths over a sloppy track at Saratoga for Tom Amoss after an unimpressive debut over a fast strip.  Amoss strikes at a 30% clip with horses stretching out from a sprint to a route, and the big margin victory at Saratoga must be respected regardless of the track condition.  Bourbon Resolution deserves a shot exiting a gate-to-wire maiden breaker at Saratoga.  Perhaps the most interesting horse, at the most attractive price, is drawn to the far outside.  Enticed broke his maiden at first asking over a muddy track at Saratoga.  That win was very impressive in that he broke from the rail – a very difficult task for first time starters – endured some traffic troubles and took a good deal of kickback from the off-track, then pulled clear in the stretch and was eased up at the wire.  He has a tough draw again here today, but he is certainly one to watch going forward as he is bred to be a very special horse.

Race 9 is the Shadwell Turf Mile, which last year produced the Breeders’ Cup Mile winner, Tourist.  The race is a ‘Win and You’re In’ event again this year and deservingly drew a competitive field of 14.  Heart to Heart will be all alone, like a Florida receiver against a confused Mark Stoops defense, in front early.  He owns a win over the Keeneland lawn along with 2 close runner-up finishes in the last two spring editions of this race, the Makers 46 Mile.  The 6yo son of English Channel is easily the top selection given the lack of any other legitimate speed to press him early.  Miss Temple City seems most likely to take up chasing duties, and she merits considerable respect based on her sweep of the Makers 46 and Shadwell last year.  She has not been quite the same filly this season as she endured some training setbacks earlier in the year, but she did win last out at Kentucky Downs and may well be rounding back into top form at the right time.  Divisidero will take considerable action as well with fan favorite Julien Leparoux in the irons, but the more he runs the more he looks like a Churchill Downs specialist.  Three of his 5 lifetime wins have come over the Louisville lawn on the last 3 Derby days.  Suedois has the look of a 2nd string Euro, and those horses have not been very successful in North America this year.  He is eligible to improve with the addition of Lasix.  American Patriot won the Makers 46 in April, but has been horrific, beaten a combined 27 1/2 lengths in two starts since.  Ballagh Rocks and Mondialiste are both capable on their best days.

Best of luck to everyone on this opening weekend of the fall meet.  We’ll be back on Sunday to handicap the Spinster card.


Opening Day at Keeneland presented by Pocket Aces Racing

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Have you ever wanted to roam the paddock at Keeneland between races?  Have you ever imagined what it would be like to see your horse line up in the starting gate?  Have you ever dreamt of having your picture taken in the winner’s circle?  Owning a race horse is easier and more affordable than you might think.  Let Pocket Aces Racing LLC show you how. Thoroughbred racing partnerships are forming now.  

The fall meet at Keeneland begins on Friday with a spectacular opening weekend of racing highlighted by 8 Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup qualifiers.  Crowds should be strong all weekend long buoyed by plenty of out-of-town visitors from Missouri for the football game on Saturday night.  The weekend kicks off with a strong 10 race card co-anchored by the upgraded Grade 2 Phoenix for sprinters and the Grade 1 Alcibiades for two-year old fillies.  Here’s a breakdown of some of the key races from Friday’s card:

The 1st race is a two-turn main track event including seven lightly raced juvenile fillies.  More Mojo is out of the nice race mare Deb’s Charm who ran 3rd here in the 2003 Alcibiades.  She should appreciate stretching out around two turns and will likely be forwardly placed exiting two sprints at Saratoga.  Gio Game is one of only two entrants with route experience as she crossed the line 3rd behind Significant Form, who was disqualified from that victory and then came back to beat a solid field in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo on Sunday at Belmont.  The primary question for Gio Game is how she will handle the main track as she is bred for the grass, being by turf champion Gio Ponti.  She did finish 2nd over a main track labeled good in her debut at Saratoga.  The morning line favorite at 9-5, she does appear to be the one to beat in the meet opener.

Race 7 is an excellent betting race with a full field of 12 colts and geldings scheduled to go 9 furlongs on the turf course.  Holiday Bonus and Surprise Twist are the co-favorites on the morning line at 4/1.  Holiday Bonus has been a consistent performer all year having run no worse than 4th in 7 starts without a victory.  He is cutting back in distance off a solid 4th place effort in the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs.  Surprise Twist is more lightly raced, with only 4 lifetime starts.  He has never finished off the board and most recently filled the show position, just behind Holiday Bonus (albeit with a more difficult trip) in a similar allowance spot at Saratoga.  Two of the more intriguing long shots in here are Lookin for Eight and Harlan StrongLookin for Eight is also lightly raced with just 4 lifetime starts, but trainer Mark Casse thought highly enough of him to run in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth earlier this year where he finished 5th of 10.  He was given a lengthy break after that attempt and reemerged on the grass at Saratoga where he endured an awful trip in his turf debut.  With a better trip here, he can offer some value by returning to the promising form he showed earlier this year.  Draw a line through Harlan Strong’s last race, run over a muddy track he clearly detested.  Prior to that, he ran 3rd after stumbling at the break in a decent stake race at Monmouth.  He picks up Robby Albarado and looks like a solid contender against this group.

Image result for KeenelandImage via Keeneland

The Grade 2 Phoenix offers a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint to the winner of the 8th race, and there is a litany of speed signed on for this 3/4 mile dash.  Whitmore looked like the class of the east coast sprint division earlier this year when he reeled off 5 straight, culminating with a half length decision over this race’s defending champion A.P. Indian in the Maryland Sprint on Preakness Day.  Since then, however, he has tailed off form, finishing 3rd in his last two with deteriorating speed figures.  A return to his early season form would make him the horse to beat in here, but given the sub-par efforts he has put forth recently, there are several others offering more intrigue.  Limousine Liberal’s stalking style is well suited to the expected pace scenario.  He always shows up with a good effort over his home track, and he has been freshened since filling the show spot in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt early in the Saratoga meet.  Favorite Tale was one of the top sprinters of 2015, finishing 3rd in both the Vanderbilt and Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but he regressed in his next two starts and went to the sidelines for 18 months.  He returned last month at Parx with a runner-up finish against Pennsylvania-bred stake company.  Surely he needed that race, and he could be a strong player here if he is able to recapture that 2015 form.  Given the relative uncertainty surrounding the top choices, this should be a good spot to get a decent price.  Uncontested spent some time on the Derby trail early this year, but has now reverted to sprint distances for Wayne Catalano.  He won an optional claiming event at Churchill three weeks ago at this same 6 furlong distance.  The Tiz Wonderful colt has been firing bullets over the Keeneland surface in the morning since late summer, and he won his debut here by 6 widening lengths last fall.  He could light up the tote board at 15/1 on the opening line.  It’s the Journey ships in from Maryland for Mike Trombetta off 4 straight wins by comfortable margins.  This is certainly a step up in competition for the Mineshaft gelding, but he seems to be improving and may well be up to the task.

The victor of the Grade 1 Alcibiades, Friday’s 9th race, earns a spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.  A field of 10 will take one lap around the main track oval in the day’s penultimate race.  Bet She Wins may prove to be the most appropriately named of these.  After hitting the gate and bumping another horse at the start, she moved forward from 8th place to be more than 9 lengths ahead of her nearest competitor as she crossed the wire in the Arlington Washington Lassie.  That very impressive effort will likely see her favored here in her first start on dirt.  Kelly’s Humor won the Ellis Park Debutante for Brad Cox, and she is the only filly in the field with two-turn experience on the main track having most recently finished 2nd in the Grade 2 Pocahontas at Churchill.  She draws leading rider Javier Castellano away from Cox’s other entrant, Sassy SiennaPacific Gale could be a promising play as she does possess some early turn of foot in a field without much pace.  She sat 2nd, just a length behind a sub :45 half mile, in her 3 1/2 length victory in Monmouth Park’s Sorority Stakes.  We’ll see if she can get brave and stretch that speed around a 2nd turn.  Heavenly Love returns to the main track after an authoritative victory on the grass at Kentucky Downs.  Her pedigree is more inclined to dirt racing, and she looks like another solid contender in what appears to be an evenly matched field on paper.

Best of luck to everyone attending the races on opening day.  Be sure to check back here each day for previews of all the great racing action at Keeneland.


Breeders’ Cup Preps Suffering from Lack of Star Power, presented by Pocket Aces Racing

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Have you ever wanted to roam the paddock at Keeneland between races?  Have you ever imagined what it would be like to see your horse line up in the starting gate?  Have you ever dreamt of having your picture taken in the winner’s circle?  Owning a race horse is easier and more affordable than you might think.  Let Pocket Aces Racing LLC show you how. Thoroughbred racing partnerships are forming now.  

As of this writing, we are just over four weeks away from the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, a first time venue for the event.  The last weekend of September and first weekend of October have traditionally served as the dates for the last and most vital round of prep races for the year-end championship event.  This year however, a number of these historically significant Breeders’ Cup preps are coming up light due to an increasingly popular phenomenon.  Several trainers of the biggest equine stars in the sport are skipping the last round of preps in favor of training their horses up to the Breeders’ Cup off of extended layoffs of six weeks or more.

This recent trend can be traced back to Bob Baffert in 2014.  After winning the Pennsylvania Derby on September 20th, the Baffert-trained Bayern did not race again until winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic – a layoff of six weeks after running every four weeks from July through September.  Baffert pushed the envelope even further the next year.  Triple Crown hero American Pharoah did not race for 9 weeks between his only loss of the year in the Travers Stakes and his tour de force in the Classic for his career finale.  Last year the Baffert-trained Arrogate had ten weeks between his 13 1/2 length romp in the Travers and his thrilling half length victory over California Chrome in the Classic.  Drefong had the same 10 week gap between his Kings Bishop and Breeders’ Cup Sprint victories.

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The Breeders’ Cup Classic will be the first race for defending champion Arrogate since August 19th. (Photo courtesy of Breeders’ Cup)

This year, at least the top 3 wagering choices in the marquee event, the Classic, will enter the Breeders’ Cup off extended layoffs.  Reigning Horse of the Year and defending champion Arrogate will enter off an 11 length layoff, having not raced since a runner-up finish to his stablemate Collected (who will run off the same break) in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.  Gun Runner, a 3 time Grade 1 winner this year, has not run since his Woodward victory at Saratoga on September 2nd.   In the Sprint, defending champion Drefong will compete following a 10 week break since his victory in the Forego at Saratoga.  Likely Distaff favorite Stellar Wind has not raced since her Clement Hirsch win on July 30th.  Forever Unbridled will challenge Stellar Wind following a 10 week break of her own.  Lady Eli will vie for favoritism in the Filly and Mare Turf after a similar 10 week absence from racing.

The net effect of all these stars sitting on the sidelines for so long in advance of the Breeders’ Cup is that the last round of preps – which have largely been very meaningful races in their own right since long before the Breeders’ Cup ever existed – are beginning to lose some significance.  Last week at Santa Anita, Mubtaahij won the Awesome Again (formerly the Goodwood Stakes), the traditional west coast prep for the Classic.  One could argue that Mubtaahij is only Baffert’s 4th best chance to win the Classic, behind Collected, Arrogate, and 3yo division leader West Coast.  It’s unlikely that any of the other six horses that ran in the Awesome Again will make the field for the Classic.  The Zenyatta Stakes, a prep for the Distaff, was a 4 horse race won by Paradise Woods, who was beaten by nearly 30 lengths combined in her most recent two starts prior to the Zenyatta.  The race was missing both of the west coast leaders in the Distaff division, Stellar Wind and Vale Dori.  Belmont ran another traditional prep for the Distaff last weekend, with Elate, an emerging 3yo filly and the only Grade 1 winner in the field, winning the Beldame.  This weekend Belmont will stage the Jockey Club Gold Cup, considered by many to be the championship race of the handicap division prior to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  Not one of the participants in this year’s race will be among the top 5 wagering options in the Classic.  Keeneland will struggle to pull together a Grade 1 caliber field on Sunday in the Spinster, another Distaff prep, with Forever Unbridled, the best mare based in Kentucky, sitting out.

Time will tell if this trend holds, but thoroughbred racing can be a copy cat game.  Baffert’s recent run of success with the longer layoff strategy is certainly not dissuading other trainers from employing it themselves.  This year’s Breeders’ Cup results will likely dictate what we can expect from these suffering prep races next year.

Kentucky man drank beer, ate corn dog while shoplifting from Wal-Mart

Kentucky man drank beer, ate corn dog while shoplifting from Wal-Mart

A man in Kentucky was arrested last week for attempting to shoplift over $200 worth of items from the Wal-Mart in Shepherdsville.

Theft happens often at Wal-Marts all over the country, but this particular case is interesting because the man, David Pethel, cracked open a beer and ate a corn dog before walking out of the store with a cart full of stuff. According to Shepherdsville police, the items totaled $241 in value, and the beer was a 20-ouncer.

Pethel was charged with one count of theft by unlawful taking (under $500) and booked in the Bullitt County jail.

That, my friends, is so Bullitt County.

Keeneland Fall Meet Preview – Part 2, presented by Pocket Aces Racing

Message from our sponsor:

Have you ever wanted to roam the paddock at Keeneland between races?  Have you ever imagined what it would be like to see your horse line up in the starting gate?  Have you ever dreamt of having your picture taken in the winner’s circle?  Owning a race horse is easier and more affordable than you might think.  Let Pocket Aces Racing LLC show you how. Thoroughbred racing partnerships are forming now.  

The Keeneland fall meet begins this Friday, and in anticipation of one of central Kentucky’s premier autumnal experiences I sat down with Bob Elliston, Vice President of Racing and Sales, to discuss what lies in wait for racing patrons this October.  Part 1 of this interview was posted on 10/3.  Part 2 follows below:

KSR: “Let’s talk about takeout a little bit.  Last month Keeneland announced that you would be raising takeout to the maximum allowances for the state of Kentucky – which puts you on par with Churchill.  Effectively what it does is raise the price on Win, Place, and Show bettors by 9% and exotic players by 15%.  The Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) has come out in support of a boycott of the Keeneland fall meet in response to the takeout hike.  They (HANA) also boycotted the Churchill meet in 2014 after that track maxed out their takeout rates.  The result of that boycott was that Churchill’s non-Derby handle fell by almost 25%.  Is that something that concerns Keeneland, or is the view that the demand for Keeneland’s product is more inelastic?”

Elliston:  “Well, first and foremost, it always concerns us if a major, important constituency is at odds with us.  You know, we don’t like raising prices for the sake of raising prices.  I think what is unique about Keeneland, in its 80 plus years, is what we do with the resources we generate.  It’s a bit of a misnomer, people believe that we are actually a not-for-profit, but we’re not.  We are a for-profit company, but we are tethered and guided by a mission that says anything we earn, we invest back in the sport.  That takes the form of purses, it takes the form of these beautiful grounds that we operate on, keeping it to be this idyllic place for people to come enjoy the races, and we invest in the sport in terms of research and fan development and things like that.  So what we believe and what we think will be different for us is that we are raising our price to the level that the other major racing venues are, it’s not just Churchill by the way.  We are literally on par within 10 to 15 basis points of New York, Florida, California, Oaklawn, all the major racing venues.  So, it’d be different if we priced our product higher than they are, but we didn’t.  We priced it at that level.  When you couple that with knowing that we will do right by the resources they are providing to us, investing it back to benefit horseplayers through a higher quality racing product, investments in more people following the sport, promoting the sport, our hope is that they will understand that.  You know, most handicappers are also business people, and they understand that when you don’t raise your prices for multiple years and you are out of whack with that and your expense structure goes up, as any business does, you have to make tough business choices.  But then ultimately how you reinvest those resources, I think that ultimately will give them good reason to continue to support our product.” (more…)

Kraft Beer with Kindsey: Rock House Brewing

Kraft Beer with Kindsey: Rock House Brewing

It is no secret that bourbon dominates this state, but the craft beer industry is growing in Kentucky. There are locally owned breweries and microbreweries scattered all around the state and it is my mission to travel to each and every one and tell their story.

Rock House Brewing is the new kid on the block when it comes to breweries in Lexington.

Rock House opened on Dec. 17 by four people who shared a love of brewing, craft beer and music.

Their mission is “to produce a wide range of top quality beers and provide a welcoming environment for people of all demographics to join and socialize.”

Rock House’s name pays homage to the building’s former days of being the offices for the Lexington Quarry that was built in 1923. Although the building was completely gutted and remodeled, the hardwood floors are still the original flooring.

When deciding the location for the brewery, the owners had one requirement. They wanted Rock House to be inside of New Circle Road.

Despite being tucked away on North Limestone, the owners saw the potential the current property had with off street parking, a place for an outdoor patio, a warehouse to brew the beer and for overflow and a quant little taproom.

The warehouse was the perfect size for Rock House’s seven-barrel brewing system of five fermenters and one brite tank, a walk-in cooler to store kegs and an extra seating area.

The location and setup is one of the reasons that one of the owners, Kevin Richey, thinks Rock House sets itself apart from other breweries.

“It’s a pretty funky part of town and we really like that,” Richey said about the NoLi District.

Rock House might have gotten its name from the rock building that is now the tap room, but it could have also come from the owners’ shared love of music.

Music is an instrumental part of what Rock House is. The inside of the tap room is decorated with music-themed art and a guitar covered with brewery stickers sits on the fireplace’s mantle.

A love for music goes beyond decorations, it extends to the naming of the beers: “Double Kick Drum” (Double IPA), “Groupie” (Cream Ale), “Roadie” (APA), “Riot Act” (Red Rye IPA) and “Gravel Pit” (Brown Porter).

Rock House shares its love of music goes hand-in-hand with its love of the community. Rock House regularly books local bands to play on the weekends and hosts open mic night every Wednesday from 7:00. p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Open mic goes beyond music as well. It is open to poets and story tellers as well.

Rock House’s love for the Lexington community extends to the entire state of Kentucky

“Kentucky people are very proud,” Richey said. “They are very proud of the history of Kentucky. They want to support the local businesses.”

When people think of Kentucky, they think bourbon, not beer. Fair enough. However, Richey believes that even in a bourbon state, local craft breweries are just as important.

“They [Kentuckians] want to support the local businesses,” Richey said. “I think that plays a big part in why breweries, or even the craft distilleries, are popping up all over the place.”

“That’s why that stuff  [craft beer] is so popular because people want to support local businesses. They want to know the owners and they want to be able to talk them. I think that ‘s what makes it unique and helps you to survive.”

Rock House understands Kentucky people’s love for their state so they brewed a Kentucky Common, a nearly lost style of beer.

Kentucky Common was almost exclusively produced and sold around the Louisville metropolitan area from the time after the Civil War up to Prohibition. Because the beer so was inexpensive and quick to produce, Kentucky Common became increasingly popular during that time period. With prohibition the style died completely, but with the explosion of craft breweries, the style is making a comeback.

Rock House’s Kentucky Common, “Dark and Bloody Ground”,  is brewed with blood oranges and has flavors of sweet corn, caramel, toffee and orange with faint hints of roast. The “Dark and Bloody Ground” has become one of Rock House most popular beers.

Rock House will be celebrating its one year anniversary in December, but there is still things to accomplish.

First on the list, getting their beer into restaurants in Lexington.

“We are starting to put our plans in place to start getting some of our beers on tap throughout the city,” Richey said. “Hopefully over the next six months to a year, you’ll be able to go to pretty much any restaurant and you’ll be able to try some of our flagship beers that we have and maybe some of our special releases.”

Rock House has made many upgrades to the property including adding a patio with tables to the tap room, a fire pit area with benches and a certified Monarch Waystation. Monarch Waystation is butterfly garden that provides resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration.

With everything Rock House has done to the brewery, there still a lot more they want to do.

“We are still working on our location and trying to make it more appealing to come and hang out,” Richey said. “Just doing upgrades and working on construction projects. Just making it little more comfortable, more inviting. Right now I think we’re lacking a little bit of that.”

Some of the upgrades include adding more games like a foosball table, badminton net, tetherball, and dart boards.

“We have such a great property, so we want to use it for people to come out and play,” Richey said.

Rock House already has a basketball hoop, corn hole boards, a ping pong table and their most popular attraction, fowling. Fowling is a hybrid game that combines elements of football, bowling, and horseshoes.

There are eight breweries in Lexington but each brings their own style of beer and atmosphere to the craft beer scene.

“We kind of want to be very diverse,” Richey said about the beer and environment of Rock House. “Anybody can come in and have a good time and hang out. Not just try to cater to one type of person. We want to make it comfortable to everyone to hang out.”

119 Luigart Ct,
Lexington, KY 40508


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Keeneland Fall Meet Preview – Part 1 presented by Pocket Aces Racing

Keeneland Fall Meet Preview – Part 1 presented by Pocket Aces Racing

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The Keeneland fall meet begins this Friday, and in anticipation of one of central Kentucky’s premier autumnal experiences I sat down with Bob Elliston, Vice President of Racing and Sales, to discuss what lies in wait for racing patrons this October.  Part 1 of this 2 part interview follows below.

KSR: “You’re doing some promotion at Kroger Field in partnership with UK.  Can you talk a little about that and how it came about?”

Elliston: “Yeah, you know we’ve had a long standing relationship with the University of Kentucky.  Obviously during the fall season with football going on, they call it the best doubleheader going – an afternoon at Keeneland and a night at the UK football game.  And we see a lot of folks that are traveling to Lexington to Kroger Field to see their team play the Cats, coming out here in the afternoon.  Generally speaking it’s just a natural combination of entertainment for folks to draw into the community.  So we’ve sponsored The Paddock at Kroger Field prior, but we figured out that whole concept in terms of an entertainment destination built around UK football and Keeneland, and VisitLex, all three of us got together on this project to really elevate that entertainment venue inside Kroger Field (The Paddock), and also then to promote that “town and gown” concept where a major entertainment venue like ours, coupled with a great sporting event like Kentucky football plus that being a destination for folks to travel here, it was just a natural partnership.  In addition to that, we always have our “See Blue” day in the fall and we paint the place blue and celebrate what’s going on with the Wildcats and here at Keeneland and the fan base.  But beyond that, we have historically been a supporter of things that are resident at UK like the Markey Center, like the Gluck (Equine) Center, like what’s going on in the Ag department – they are really creating a center of excellence at UK in the whole Ag space, which obviously in the horse business means a great deal to us.  All of that was in place, and will continue to be in place, but is brought out in a big way through this partnership on The Paddock.

(Photo courtesy of Keeneland)

KSR: “Is there anything in particular patrons should be looking forward to at the fall meet?”

Elliston: “Well, we have modified some of our wagering menus a little bit, but generally speaking the fall has some pretty cool items that are built-in already.  We celebrate a couple really important things.  The Make-a-Wish day is on Thursday, October 12th, and on that date, it’s the 10th anniversary.  We work with the Make-A-Wish foundation here locally to let these kids realize dreams that they have, and they really deserve that in a tremendous way.  So that is really an uplifting day for all of us here at Keeneland.  Then we have Heroes Day that Papa John’s is sponsoring on Sunday, the 22nd, and that’s when the first responders, EMTs, fire fighters, and their families are invited and receive free general admission, access to grandstand reserve seating and discounts on food and things like that.  College scholarship day, that’s another one, on Friday, October 20th.  Ten $1,000 scholarships will be awarded.  Since the life of that program, I think we’ve given out, I want to say, in excess of $500,000 in scholarships to area students.”

KSR: “So the meet starts with a bang — FallStars weekend and lots of Breeders’ Cup preps.  Who are some of the bigger names that we can expect to headline opening weekend?”

Elliston: “Yeah, you mentioned it, we’ve got 9 stakes worth almost $4 million in purses on opening weekend, 8 of which are Win and You’re In events for the Breeders’ Cup, 5 of them are grade 1’s.  The ones that really jump out that look like tremendous races are the Shadwell Turf Mile, which is a million dollar Breeders’ Cup Mile prep, the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, the 2yo boys race, the Phoenix, which is the Sprint division, and the First Lady for fillies and mares.  And on the Shadwell, American Patriot, who won the Makers 46 Mile in the spring, Divisidero won the Turf Classic on Derby Day, Heart to Heart is trained by Brian Lynch and won multiple graded stakes – I think those are the top ones.  In addition to that, Mondialiste, who ran 3rd in the BC Turf a couple of years ago, and there’s a chance Aidan O’Brien might be sending Lancaster Bomber who just missed in the Woodbine Mile.  The Shadwell will probably over-fill, there will probably be 16 in there and we’ll have to exclude some folks out of that one.  I mentioned the Breeders’ Futurity.  Probably the top horse was Wayne Lukas’s Sporting Chance that won the Hopeful, but he got injured.  The second and third place horses in there (Hopeful), Free Drop Billy and Givemeaminit, they are planning to be here.  You have the Iroquois winner, The Tabulator.  And it’s kind of interesting to me, Tom Benson, the owner of the New Orleans Saints and Jazz, he’s got a horse that Tom Amoss trains that broke his maiden at Saratoga by 11 lengths.  He’s talking about coming here too.  He could be anything with that kind of performance at Saratoga.  The Phoenix, there are three outstanding ones in there, Favorite Tale, Limousine Liberal and WhitmoreFavorite Tale was 3rd in the BC Sprint here in 2015, Limousine Liberal loves this track, and Whitmore, by a lot of people’s count, might be as gifted a sprinter as there is out there for Ron Moquett.  And then I mentioned the First Lady because there is some tremendous talent in there – 8 graded stakes winners that are pointing there.  Dickinson, who won in the Spring (the G1 Jenny Wiley), Hawksmoor, Miss Temple City, Roca Roja who is a G1 winner for Chad Brown, and there’s a chance that Aidan O’Brien might ship 1 or 2 for that race from England because he is so loaded with great talented fillies on the grass – Rhododendron or Rain Goddess might come over for the Coolmore group – and they’re not afraid to run those horses back in a week for the QE II for 3yos the following weekend.  So that’s exciting.  We’re counting right now, I think there’s seven international horses shipping in for opening weekend.”


Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin says college athletes should get paid

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin says college athletes should get paid

Kentucky governor Matt Bevin went on a Paducah radio show Tuesday morning and said he believes college athletes should be financially compensated for all of the revenue they generate for the NCAA and their universities.

Bevin told WKYX, “I think we should pay college athletes. I really do. This idea that they’re not professionals is nonsense.”

When asked how the student-athletes should be paid, Bevin added, “I think we should maybe defer that comp – fair enough, they can defer it — but they and their families should be able to benefit from the sacrifices they make.”

“The coaches are making millions of dollars a year,” he continued. “Shoe contracts are dictating what happens on our college campuses. Athletics directors and others associated with it that are making exorbitant fees. I don’t begrudge people making a high living. Good for them, and I mean that sincerely. But if that comes at the expense of those that are delivering the athletic prowess on the field, then maybe we should rethink the fact that this is really like the minor leagues for the professional sports associations, and they should be compensated and treated accordingly.”

Bevin went on to say he doesn’t believe anyone is intentionally exploiting the student-athletes, but ‘exploiting’ is a word that can be used to describe what is happening in college athletics today.

Our friends at have more from the interview: “Gov. Matt Bevin says college athletes should be financially compensated”