Updates on Dornoch, Mystik Dan, Didia, Cogburn

  • Dornoch and Gargan enjoying first Grade 1-score in Belmont Stakes
  • Kentucky Derby-winner Mystik Dan to point to G1 DraftKings Travers; Thorpedo Anna to G1 CCA Oaks
  • Keeneland-based Didia: ‘best one I have ever had on the turf,’ Correas says
  • Cogburn garners 111 BSF for record-setting victory in G1 Jaipur

From today’s NYRA media notes, following up on yesterday’s graded stakes (Tim Wilkin photo of Danny Gargan and Dornoch the morning after their Belmont Stakes victory)

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Native Louisvillian Danny Gargan won his first career Grade 1 as Dornoch, who also earned his first score at the level, gamely fought back along the rail to capture Saturday’s Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course. 

Gargan said that racing’s newest Grade 1-winner exited the race in good order, showing a lot of energy on a rainy Sunday morning in Saratoga. 

“It’s exciting. We are really happy with the way he came back,” said Gargan, who grew up only a couple of blocks from Churchill Downs, where his mom and stepdad still live. “We will just go from here to the next race and try to figure that out over the next couple of weeks, where we want to go next.” 

Gargan said that those options would include the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy presented by Mohegan Sun on July 27 at Saratoga and the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell on July 20 at Monmouth Park, with the long-term goal of the Grade 1, $1.25 million DraftKings Travers on August 24 at the Spa. 

“It’ll be the Jim Dandy or the Haskell if he runs before the Travers,” Gargan said. “We will play it by ear and see what we think, just try to enjoy ourselves and see how the next week goes.”

In the Belmont, the Good Magic bay pressed the pace set by Grade 1 Preakness-winner Seize the Grey, taking command entering the stretch under regular pilot Luis Saez as the then-unbeaten Mindframe rallied on the outside to put a head in front at the stretch call. Dornoch fought back along the rail to cross the line a half-length in front in a final time of 2:01.64 as Mindframe drifted out into the center of the course and then attempted to re-engage. 

The effort was awarded a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure, much improved off his previous 75 when a troubled tenth from the inside post in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs. 

“The Derby was a throw-out. When you get the one-hole and you get checked out of there the whole race, it is kind of a toss,” Gargan said. “He’s more seasoned, he’s tougher now, so maybe that helped us win the Belmont. We wish we could’ve gotten a clean trip in the Derby, maybe we would’ve won it, but we are really thrilled and happy and pleased with what he did yesterday.” 

Out of the graded stakes-placed Big Brown mare Puca, Dornoch is a full-brother to Mage, who won last year’s Kentucky Derby. With such pedigree, expectations were high from the onset for owners West Paces Racing, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing and Pine Racing Stables.  

Gargan said he knew that he had a special horse that was talented enough to live up to the hype. 

“I told everybody last year that he is the best horse I have ever trained. We have always been high on him and liked him,” said Gargan. “He is a cool horse. I love him and we are just blessed and lucky that we have him.” 

While hoisting the August Belmont Trophy above his head Saturday marked the 52-year-old’s first American classic victory and career Grade 1, he spent time around many graded stakes winners while an assistant for Hall of Famer Nick Zito including Preakness-winner Louis Quatorze. 

“I worked for him for a long time. We are still friends, we talk a lot,” said Gargan regarding the experience he gained. “I talked to him twice yesterday, he’s texted me already once today. I’ve got a horse in at Churchill, he’s going to go over and be in the paddock with him, help me out there today. Maybe Nick can get me into the winner’s circle in the Matt Winn at Churchill with Society Man.”

Gargan, who sends out graded-stakes placed Society Man in the Grade 3 Matt Winn Sunday at Churchill Downs, said the Belmont victory was a good one to bring back to his native-Louisville, Kentucky, where his friends and fellow trainers Brad Cox and Dale Romans also hail from. 

“Dale texted me right away and I was just talking to Blake [Cox], Brad’s son. We grew up in that neighborhood right outside the track,” Gargan said. “It is a big thing just to be able to be in this kind of race, much less have the kind of horse to win, so it is special.” 

Bred in Kentucky by Grandview Equine, Dornoch was a $325,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He banked $1.2 million for his Belmont Stakes triumph, bringing his earnings to $1,752,275 through a 8-4-2-0 record. 

Kentucky Derby-winner Mystik Dan to point to G1 DraftKings Travers; Thorpedo Anna to G1 CCA Oaks

Lance Gasaway, 4 G Racing, Daniel Hamby, III and Valley View Farm’s Grade 1 Kentucky Derby-winner Mystik Dan will be pointed to the Grade 1, $1.25 million Draftkings Travers on August 24 at Saratoga Race Course after an eighth-place finish in Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets at the Spa. 

Trained by Kenny McPeek, Mystik Dan was the only horse this year to contest all three legs of the Triple Crown after winning the Kentucky Derby on May 4 and finishing a valiant second to Seize the Grey in the Grade 1 Preakness May 18. He stalked two lengths off the early pace in the 10-furlong Belmont Stakes, but lost ground throughout under regular pilot Brian Hernandez, Jr. and finished well behind the victorious Dornoch. 

McPeek said Mystik Dan exited the race in good order but will appreciate a good rest after running three times in five weeks. 

“He’s doing fine. He scoped with a little bit of mucus, and on a scale of five it was probably a two,” McPeek said. “But he’s had a great spring, and obviously it was a small step backwards, but nothing we can’t fix. It’s all good, he just scoped a little bit dirty. We had scoped him after his last work and he was clean, so it’s a bit of a head-scratcher. He’s run hard and Brian didn’t seem to think he handled the track very well, but they all had to run over it.

“He deserves a break,” McPeek added. “It’s a little disappointing not to run better than that, but it’s not supposed to be easy, right?”

All was not lost on the weekend for McPeek as Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Thorpedo Anna posted another dominant victory when taking Friday’s Grade 1, $500,000 DK Horse Acorn by 5 1/2 lengths over Grade 1-winner Leslie’s Rose. The pace-pressing effort garnered a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure and brought her sophomore record to a perfect 3-for-3. 

McPeek said the daughter of Fast Anna was brilliant despite losing her front right shoe in the race. 

“She came out of it great. She lost a shoe going into the first turn, and for her to run as well as she did with a shoe missing is pretty impressive,” said McPeek. “The foot was a little tender coming out of the race, but we’ve soaked it and reset the shoe – no problem there.” 

McPeek had considered trying the talented bay against males at some point this summer but said the plan for now is to keep her against fillies in the nine-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 20 at the Spa, with a long-term goal being the 10-furlong Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama presented by Keeneland Sales on August 17. 

“She’s going to run in the Coaching Club and the Alabama,” said McPeek. “We may nominate her to the Travers, but I think it’s more likely that Mystik Dan will come back in the Travers. She’ll stay in the filly division at this point, and Mystik Dan will more than likely look at the Travers and the Pennsylvania Derby.” 

Didia could return for the G1 Diana at Saratoga

At almost midnight Resolute Racing tweeted, “Still on Cloud 9 from Didia‘s win. What a horse.”

On Sunday morning Keeneland-based trainer Ignacio Correas IV was in complete agreement with John Stewart’s Resolute Racing, who co-owns the 6-year-old Argentine-bred with Merriebelle Stables, and was on track to witness her impressive score in Friday’s Grade 1, $750,000 New York at Saratoga Race Course.

“She’s the best one I have ever had on the turf,” said Correas, who also trained 2019 champion Older Mare and Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Blue Prize (ARG). 

Correas was a top-class trainer in his native Argentina before coming to the U. S. in 2009 and going out on his own in 2015. With the win in the New York Stakes, he garnered his fourth G1 win in the United States. Now he’s looking for more with Didia, who just won her first U.S. Grade 1 after being a multiple Group 1 winner in her native country.

Correas said, “We arrived home to Keeneland yesterday. I really haven’t thought yet about her next race. There aren’t that many places that she can go, so I guess it’s going to be the Beverly D. [in August at Colonial Downs] or the Diana at Saratoga. I’ll talk to the owners and we’ll figure it out. I may make the decision in about 10 days. The Breeders’ Cup [Filly & Mare Turf] is the ultimate goal.”

Meanwhile, Didia who has a record of 11-2-1 in 17 starts and is a multiple graded stakes winner since she came to America and joined her trainer’s stable, was reported to have exited her race in fine shape following her 1 ½ lengths pace stalking victory in the 1 3/16 miles New York. The win brought a bit of redemption as last year Didia was the runner-up in the New York. 

“She was like a monster,” said Correas after her race. “It’s a great feeling. I targeted this race for months and months. It was really hard for me to lose this race last year. I never expected to lose it last year. I was disappointed.”

Stewart, who came into the sport last year and has invested heavily in domestic and international bloodstock, acquired his 50 percent share in the mare this past April. That was shortly after Didia, now the earner of $1,533,484, won the Grade 2 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park on January 27. 

“I’ve loved Didia since I saw her back in the fall. I tried to buy her before the Pegasus. We weren’t successful but kept trying and trying. We were able to cut a deal with the owners. She represents everything that we’re after, which is on the track fillies and mares that will go into our world class breeding stable. We get her at the end of her campaign and we’re pretty excited about that,” said Stewart.

Incidentally, one of the mares in Resolute’s broodmare band is Puca, who is the dam of Saturday’s $2 million Belmont Stakes winner Dornoch as well as the colt’s full brother and 2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage. Stewart bought Puca for $2.9 million at the 2023 Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale. 

Cogburn garners 111 BSF for record-setting victory in G1 Jaipur

Clark Brewster, William Heiligbrodt and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s newly-minted Grade 1-winner Cogburn garnered a career-high 111 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Jaipur presented by Resolute Racing, where his final time of 59.80 seconds for 5 1/2 furlongs set a North American record over the Mellon turf at Saratoga Race Course. 

For his victory, Cogburn received a berth into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November at Del Mar as part of the “Win and You’re In” series. 

“We all expected him to run a monster race because he had been training so well and feeling so great,” said Brewster at Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s Saratoga barn Sunday. “He likes Saratoga, but who would have thought he’d set a [North American] record? He’s that good I guess.” 

Cogburn entered from another impressive victory in the Grade 2 Twin Spires Turf Sprint on May 4 at Churchill Downs, where he earned a 102 Beyer for a similar front-running score. He only improved on that effort yesterday when leading at every point of call in a loaded 12-horse field before kicking clear to a three-length lead at the stretch call under Irad Ortiz, Jr. 

“He came out great and Steve really thought he was poised for a big race because he won the Grade 2 at Churchill on Derby Day. We’re so proud of him,” said Brewster. “We won the Troy last year here with him, and we thought he liked the track with good [race] spacing. A Grade 1 win is amazing. These guys did a super job with him and he’s rewarding us for the care and love they’re showing him here.” 

The win made the son of Not This Time a perfect 2-for-2 over the Spa’s turf, adding to a win in last year’s Grade 3 Troy by three-quarter lengths over eventual Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Nobals. This year, the 5 1/2-furlong Troy – slated for August 3 – has been elevated to Grade 2 status and could serve as a logical steppingstone to the Grade 2, $2 million Turf Sprint on September 7 at Kentucky Downs.

“Steve and I haven’t really talked about the plan, but now that he’s here, the spacing would be good for the Troy, and I think we’d look at the Troy and then the Kentucky Downs race,” said Brewster. “Then, the Breeders’ Cup.”

Bred in Kentucky by Bellary Bloodstock, Cogburn was a $150,000 purchase by Brewster at the 2021 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, and is out of the stakes-winning Saintly Look mare In a Jif, a half-sister stakes-placed Son of a Nut and Nuttin’ Faster. 

Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.