Sagamore Farm’s homebred MONZON, returning to dirt after making three starts on the grass, commenced his sophomore season with a last-to-first victory in the $65,000 Count Fleet on New Year’s Day at Aqueduct.

MONZON raced 8 1/2 lengths behind the leader through a half-mile in a quick :47.52, began to bridge the deficit on the final turn, shifted to the grandstand side in upper stretch, and reeled in J J’s Lucky Train with a sixteenth left to prevail by a length in the Count Fleet for 3-year-olds

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The first foal out of multiple grade I winner BALANCE started the fireworks at the first select session of the Keeneland September Yearling sale Sept. 12, selling for $4.2 million to Benjamin Leon of Besilu Stables. The big bay colt by A.P. Indy attracted a bidding battle that lasted seven and half minutes.
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Favored FENCELINENEIGHBOR claimed her first graded stakes win Saturday at sloppy Santa Anita Park, overcoming a slow break to lead at every call in the $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. III), which was reduced to a five-horse field when heavy rain forced the race off of the turf course.
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Thoroughbred Daily News

Adoration gave California owners John and Jerry Amerman their biggest thrill in racing in 2003, winning the GI Breeders' Cup Distaff before a partisan crowd at Santa Anita. Four years later, the eight-year-old mare, carrying a colt by leading sire Smart Strike, provided the couple with their biggest bang in the sales ring after she was knocked down to Coolmore's John Magnier for $3.1 million. "She's a good-looking mare and a good race mare," the typically understated Magnier commented following the sale. He was not surprised by the final price. "That's the market. What can you say?" he said.

The Amermans acquired Adoration through bloodstock agent Bob Feld off a daylight maiden victory in 2002, and she went on to take graded stakes on the dirt and turf that season. Winner of a minor stakes at Del Mar in summer of 2003, the bay was up to third in the GII Lady's Secret BC Stakes prior to her 40-1 upset in the Distaff.

Adoration was never worse than third in five starts in 2004, winning the GI Santa Margarita Invitational H., the GII Fleur de Lis H. and the GIII Arlington Matron H. She retired with earnings of $2,051,159 and is the dam of a yearling colt by Empire Maker and a weanling filly by Ghotstzapper, both of which the couple are retaining.

For the Amermans, parting ways with Adoration brings some mixed emotions. "It is a very bittersweet thing," explained Jerry Amerman. "She was really good to us. We know that she's going to a good place and we know that they'll take good care of her. But it's very hard, especially when you get attached to the horse. I hope it's a Kentucky Derby winner she's carrying. The market seemed to be very good and strong and we were just hoping it would stay that way."

Pedigree Guru
by Byron King

For those that frequent the sales here in Kentucky (and for that matter anywhere in America), it would be hard not to meet the affable Californian agent Bob Feld, or should I say, at least not notice him.

Bob is the only person I know that can walk around in shorts at the Keeneland January sale. While everyone is freezing, Bob looks as though he is about to jet off to Hawaii for the week. Appearances aside, Bob is a hell of a judge of horseflesh with horses like Reraise, Action This Day, Siphonic, Adoration and Balance on his resume.

He might have added another top liner in the shape of the 2yo stakes winner Runway Rosie. A $30,000 yearling purchase by Bob, Runway Rosie hails from the first crop of the Airdrie Stud stallion Include and is out of the Siphon mare Kid's Today (a true Airdrie bred with the sire and broodmare sire both Airdrie stallions!).

Bob is one of only a few people I know that have had luck with Siphon having a role in buying both Siphonic and Siphonizer and now with that stallion as a broodmare sire of his most recent stakes winner. When I ran into Bob at the sales this week and congratulated him he made the comment that everyone misread Siphon as a stallion and said he was a stallion that, despite being a sound racehorse who raced until he was six, he needed a lot of soundness in the pedigree. Runway Rosie's sire Include was a sound horse starting 20 times over four seasons of racing and her pedigree has some pretty sound horses in it.

Balance Picks Interesting Time to Win a Grade I
By Bob Mieszerski, Times Staff Writer

Owners John and Jerry Amerman are vacationing in Antigua, so they were not at Santa Anita on Saturday to see Balance become a Grade I winner with a victory in the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes.

The way the 3-year-old Thunder Gulch filly performed in her first start of 2006, trainer David Hofmans joked maybe the Amermans should be elsewhere when she runs next. The probable spot is the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks on March 12.

Purchased for $250,000 on the recommendation of Bob Feld at the Keeneland September sale in 2004, Balance won for the third time in five starts in the Las Virgenes, beating 2-1 favorite Wild Fit by one length in 1:36.54 for the mile.

With a little luck, Balance would be unbeaten. She was disqualified from first and placed third thanks to a questionable stewards' decision in the Hidden Light on Nov. 2, then was troubled when second, beaten by half a length, in her final start as a 2-year-old in the Hollywood Starlet on Dec. 18.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Balance, the 5-2 second choice, sat off the pace set by Meetmeinthewoods and Starlet upsetter Diplomat Lady, took the lead into the stretch and toyed with Wild Fit in the final sixteenth en route to the win.

"She didn't have much time to catch up to herself because she came around so quickly toward the end of the year and now she has," Hofmans said. "She's a stronger, more mature and calmer filly now."

Wild Fit, making her first start since finishing second behind Folklore in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 29 and first for trainer Patrick Biancone after being sold, finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of third-place finisher Itty Bitty Pretty. The winner of the Del Mar Debutante last summer, Wild Fit is 0 for 2 in races around two turns.

Juveniles Gear Up for Keeneland Stakes
From Keeneland

Siphonic, expected to compete in Saturday's Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, worked six furlongs in "a shade under 1:12" Monday morning at Hollywood Park. The winner of the $400,000 Breeders' Futurity will qualify for a $250,000 bonus should he race in and win the $1-million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile Oct. 27 at Belmont Park.

Amerman Racing consultant Bob Feld said Siphonic worked well on a tiring track. Both he and trainer David Hofmans clocked the colt in :59 4/5 for five furlongs."The track clocker said it was the best six-furlong work he had seen in quite a while," Feld said.

Balance Short Price in Eight-Filly Ashland
by Marty McGee

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Balance seems an inappropriate name for such a one-sided filly. Pretty much everything that Balance does, she does full-bore, whether it's training, racing, or keeping her veteran trainer on his toes.

"She's one of the toughest, strongest horses I've ever trained," said David Hofmans, who in a 33-year career has trained such standouts as Touch Gold, Alphabet Soup, and Adoration. "She's very self-willed."

Owned by the Amerman Racing Stables of John and Jerry Amerman, Balance will be a heavy favorite Saturday when she faces seven other 3-year-old fillies in the 69th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. If she wins as expected, Balance would add to her already impressive list of credentials and would surely head to the May 5 Kentucky Oaks as a solid favorite.

"After she won the Santa Anita Oaks, we left it totally up to her to tell us whether we should go straight to the Kentucky Oaks or run her one more time," said Hofmans. "She came out so strong and so happy that this was the logical move."

Balance, by Thunder Gulch, has finished first in 5 of 6 career races, although she was disqualified after an apparent victory in her second start last November at Santa Anita. Despite her headstrong ways and an occasional penchant for flaunting her early speed, Balance nonetheless has shown a willingness to conserve her boundless energy in the opening stages of her races before making powerful stretch runs.

"So far she's made it all work in her favor," said Hofmans.

On the advice of bloodstock agent Bob Feld, the Amermans bought Balance for $260,000 at the 2004 Keeneland yearling sales. "She was extremely well made and always had a certain presence about her," said Feld

Golden Shine Races Into Triple Crown Picture
by Margaret Ransom

Amerman Racing's Golden Shine threw his hat into Triple Crown ring at Santa Anita on Wednesday with an impressive 7 1/2-length triumph in a 1 1/16-mile non-winners "other than" allowance race. Ridden by jockey Rene Douglas, the bay son of Touch Gold stalked the early pace of :23 4/5, :47 4/5 and 1:12 1/5 set by Big Top Cat before slipping inside along the rail and taking command from his laboring rival at the top of the stretch. Under little more than a hand ride, Golden Shine passed the eighth pole in 1:37 3/5 before stopping the clock in 1:44 over a main track listed as fast.

Trainer David Hofmans said Golden Shine would make his next start in the March 19 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II).

"He's a lot like his father except he's a lot stronger," trainer Hofmans said. "He really showed he was a good one today."

Ohio-bred Golden Shine was purchased for $130,000 out of the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2003 with a potential Triple Crown run in mind, according to bloodstock agent Bob Feld, who selected the colt for the Amermans.

"Our goal when we go to the Keeneland sale is to find a Kentucky Derby-type horse," Feld explained. "And that's what we found with him and (grade I winner) Siphonic a few years ago. It's the kind of program where we only buy four or five colts a year with these expectations. So to find two like that with such a limited number when a lot of other people buy at least 20 a year is incredible."

After breaking his maiden in July at Hollywood Park by four lengths, Golden Shine soon went to the sidelines with sore shins.

"He hurt one shin worse than the other," Hofmans explained. "The Amermans agreed to give him plenty of time to get over that; in fact they insisted on it."

From three career starts, Golden Shine owns two wins and a fourth-place finish in his debut for a bankroll of $59,580.
Copyright 2005 The Blood-Horse, Inc.

Son of Storm Cat and JJ'sdream to stand in California
by Ed DeRosa

Cat Dreams, a son of Storm Cat out of six-time graded stakes winner J J'sdream, will stand at Pepper Oaks Farm near Santa Ynez, California, beginning in 2005.

B. Wayne Hughes acquired Cat Dreams for $475,000 at the 2002 Keeneland September yearling sale, and he will stand the three-year-old bay colt in partnership with Bongo Racing Stables. Cat Dreams raced just once, winning a maiden special weight contest on July 5 at Churchill Downs by eight lengths.

"Mr. Hughes has wanted to stand a stallion in California for some time," said Bob Feld, an adviser to Hughes. "He earmarked this horse for California given his pedigree, and we think he'll work really well in California. Storm Cat is popular all over the world, especially in California where breeders like breeding for speed. Since he's out of a Glitterman mare, he should be a nice fit."

Cat Dreams will stand for $4,000. Equine Stable bred him in Kentucky, and his family includes multiple stakes winner On To Royal, dam of classic winner and sire Louis Quatorze.

A Bit of Theft to Start the Day
by Jay Privman

ARCADIA, Calif. - Patrick Valenzuela was wearing the dark blue silks of owners John and Jerry Amerman in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Distaff, but he forgot to add a ski mask. Valenzuela made like a bank robber, stealing the $2 million Distaff aboard Adoration with a front-running upset to begin the 20th Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Santa Anita. Adoration was sent off the longest shot in the seven-horse field at 40-1, and it was apparent the other riders dismissed her as cavalierly as the fans. Adoration set an extremely comfortable pace of 23.28 seconds and 47.08 for the first half-mile, then blew the race open on the turn, when she threw a 24.02-second third quarter at her rivals. She continued to pour it on in the stretch, winning by a stunning 4 1/2 lengths. She completed 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track in 1:49.17.

Adoration ($83.40) was the third-longest shot to win the Distaff, topped only by Spain ($113.80) in 2000, and One Dreamer ($96.20) in 1994.

Elloluv, who chased Adoration from second the entire race, finished second, 2 1/2 lengths clear of third-place Got Koko, who raced wide throughout. Sightseek, sent off as the 3-5 favorite, was fourth, and was followed, in order, by Buy the Sport, Take Charge Lady, and Lady Tak.

Sightseek was never a threat. Because she did not attack the leaders on her own, jockey Jerry Bailey was forced to start asking her midway down the backstretch.

"I never had a confident feeling," Bailey said.

Had Sightseek won, she likely would have secured the Eclipse Award as champion older filly or mare. Her loss, coupled with the upset by Adoration, might very well swing voters back to Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, who missed this race with a tendon injury and is likely to be retired.

Valenzuela was winning his seventh Breeders' Cup race, but this was his first since 1992. His career has been pockmarked by substance abuse and other personal issues, but he has stayed on the straight and narrow since his most recent return, nearly two years ago.

"I'm just a very blessed individual, as you know," said Valenzuela, who has become devoutly religious. "I thank the Lord, Jesus Christ."

Adoration most recently had crossed the wire fourth - behind Got Koko, Elloluv, and Azeri - in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap four weeks earlier. She was placed third in that race, because Elloluv was disqualified for causing interference in deep stretch. Adoration wore blinkers that day, but her trainer, David Hofmans, removed them for the Distaff.

"Having the blinkers on makes her too crazy," Hofmans said. "I thought that we would be on the lead, and I wanted to be on a comfortable lead."

Hofmans won his second Breeders' Cup race. His first was an upset as well. His horse Alphabet Soup beat two-time Horse of the Year Cigar in the 1996 Classic.

Adoration had won just once in three starts this year. She had never before won a Grade 1 race. Her biggest previous victory came in last year's Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks.

Now 4, Adoration has won five times in 14 starts. The Amermans purchased Adoration, a daughter of Honor Grades, privately after she made her first two starts, but Hofmans has trained her throughout her career. The purchase was arranged by bloodstock agent Bob Feld. John Amerman is the former chairman and chief executive officer of the toy company Mattel Inc.

Cellular phone call on golf course tips John Amerman to availability of future Distaff winner
by Mark Simon

JOHN AMERMAN was golfing at Indian Wells when he got a call that a horse was for sale. Being an owner known for buying ready-made runners, Amerman seemed to be the logical person to be picking up the phone.

"I was playing the 18th hole at Indian Wells and my Nextel phone went off," said Amerman, who races horses in partnership with his wife, Jerry, in the name of Amerman Racing Stables. "It was [agent] Bob Feld, who had gotten a call from [trainer] David Hofmans about Adoration. I said, 'I'm too busy, I'm going to shoot an 81 here. I don't really want to talk about it.

"So, after the 18th hole, we talked about it again. When you think you have a good horse and it's endorsed by David and Bob, it took me about two minutes to say, 'Yeah, let's go for it.' "

Twenty months later, at Santa Anita Park on October 25, Amerman smiled broadly and held aloft his Nextel phone, minutes after Adoration had scored a surprising victory in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1), which was sponsored by Nextel. It was a sponsor's dream.

It was also a dream for the Amermans.

"When we first got involved in [our own] racing [stable] in 1995," Amerman said, "we looked each other in the eye and said, 'wouldn't it be wonderful to win a Breeders' Cup race?' And now we have done it."

The Amermans purchased Adoration from Fraser Racing Syndicate, which had bought her at the 2000 Keeneland September yearling sale for $40,000 and campaigned her for her first two starts at age three. Trained by Hofmans, Adoration scored a runaway, front-running maiden victory at one mile at Santa Anita on February 21, 2003.

"I was there that day," recalled Amerman, "and I saw her win by eight [lengths]. And I said, 'Wow, what a great horse.' "

Fraser Racing wanted to sell the filly because they had a chance to make a huge profit on her, said Hofmans, who had sent out Alphabet Soup to score an upset victory over Cigar in the 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Woodbine.

The Amermans have had success buying horses in training and campaigning them principally on the West Coast with a variety of trainers, including Bobby Frankel and Ron McAnally. They have campaigned Grade 1 stakes winners Lido Palace (Chi), Happyanunoit (NZ), and Mash One (Chi).

Their only other runner in a Breeders' Cup race was Siphonic, who finished third in the 2001 Juvenile (G1).

Third time's the charm

Adoration was making just her fourth start of the year in the Distaff and only her third since January 19. After making ten starts at three, she was sent for some rest after finishing fourth in her four-year-old debut, in Got Koko's El Encino Stakes (G2) victory at Santa Anita on January 19. Adoration went to the Amermans' 63-acre Peacefield Farm in Temecula, a small rehabilitation facility managed by their daughter, Anne.

Hofmans brought Adoration back to the races near the end of the Del Mar meeting. In her first start in 7 1/2 months, she won the restricted Piedra Foundation Handicap at one mile on September 4 by a nose over Royally Chosen.

After that race, Hofmans said he started to point the fresh filly toward the Distaff. To get there, he wanted just one more prep race, the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap (G2) on September 28 at Santa Anita. In that race, she fought for the lead almost the entire way only to tire late, beaten 3 1/4 lengths. She was moved up to third on the disqualifiation of Elloluv, who finished second but had bumped her soundly in deep stretch.

The third race back for the filly turned out to be the charm.

Azeri loss felt

The Distaff was missing the leading light of the older female division, Azeri, who was retired the week of the race due to an inflamed left front tendon. Azeri had lost what would be her last race, the Lady's Secret, finishing third but moved up to second on a disqualification. Like last year when she earned year-end honors as Horse of the Year, Azeri dominated her division most of the year, until experiencing her first loss in more than 19 months and only the second in her 16-race career.

The horse who had the most potential to profit from Azeri's retirement was Juddmonte Farms' Sightseek, who was the strongest favorite of the eight-race Breeders' Cup races, going off at 3-to-5. The four-year-old homebred daughter of Distant View had won four of seven starts this year, including her last four. Her most recent effort was a smashing, 4 1/2-length victory in the Beldame Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park.

Sightseek was improving dramatically as the year wore on, so much so that a victory in the Distaff could have earned her an Eclipse Award as champion older female.

Two holes in Sightseek's resume were her 0-for-3 record at Santa Anita and her one win in three starts around two turns. Her impressive victories in the Beldame, Ogden Phipps Handicap (G1), and Humana Distaff Handicap (G1) had been around one turn. Her only victory at two turns was in the Go for Wand Handicap (G1) at Saratoga Race Course over a suspect field.

The other top Distaff contenders were Take Charge Lady, winner of the Spinster Stakes (G1) at Keeneland Race Course last out, and Got Koko, who won the Lady's Secret over Azeri. Got Koko was second choice in the wagering at 4-to-1. Adoration was sent off as the longest price in the race, 40.70-to-1.

Speed never materializes

Without Azeri, the race not only lost its marquee horse, but the complexion of the race changed from a tactical standpoint. The free-running Azeri had been a force in her races from the time the gates opened, and she could gallop her opponents into submission. No one was able to make an easy lead on her.

The Distaff had three horses--Take Charge Lady, Adoration, and Elloluv--who liked to go to the lead, but when the gates opened, all their riders must have felt they did not need to press the early pace in the 1 1/8-mile race. Hofmans and Adoration's jockey, the rejuvenated Patrick Valenzuela, had other ideas. At the start, Valenzuela gunned his filly the lead.

"After looking at the race and knowing who was going in there and Azeri dropping out, I thought that our filly could go on the lead," Hofmans said. "But I wanted her to be on an easy lead."

A key to putting Adoration on the lead was coupled with the decision to take the blinkers off the filly.

"Without the blinkers, she sort of looks around and kind of pulls herself up, which conserves her energy," Hofmans said. "That's why I took them off of her."

With Elloluv and Take Charge Lady content to sit behind Adoration, the Honor Grades filly was able to set early moderate fractions of :23.28 for the opening quarter-mile and :47.08 for the half-mile.

Meanwhile, Sightseek had trouble from the start and never got into the bridle. At the break, she was sandwiched between Buy the Sport and Elloluv, and had beaten only one horse going into the first turn.

"I got behind a wall of horses and was where I wanted to be," Bailey said, "but she never showed anything. I was head and head out of the gate and that was it."

Down the backstretch, Sightseek was placed on the outside so dirt was not kicked in her face, but it was clear that by the far turn she did not have any turn of foot to get into contention. She was clearly beaten by the time the field hit the quarter pole.

At that point, Adoration was comfortably maintaining her daylight advantage, getting the three-quarters in 1:11.10, and, coming into the stretch, Valenzuela asked her to improve her position and she did, kicking clear to a two-length advantage.

From there to the wire, it was just a matter of how large the winning margin would be. Adoration crossed the finish line 4 1/2 lengths in front of the still-chasing Elloluv, with Got Koko making a mild bid to get up for third, another 2 1/2 lengths behind. Sightseek finished fourth.

The final time of 1:49.17 on a fast track falls around the middle of fastest times in the 16 runnings of the Distaff at 1 1/8 miles. The last time the race was at Santa Anita, in 1993, Hollywood Wildcat defeated Paseana (Arg) in 1:48.35.

The $83.40 mutuel price for the win is the third-highest mutuel in the Distaff's history, behind Spain ($113.80) and One Dreamer ($96.20).

The $1,040,000 winner's share more than tripled Adoration's lifetime earnings to, $1,413,856. She was bred in Kentucky by Lucy Bassett, wife of Keeneland Chairman Emeritus James E. "Ted" Bassett, and sold by their Lanark Farm at the Keeneland September yearling sale.

For Frankel, the loss by Sightseek started a bad day for him. He sent out seven other starters, including three more favorites, Peace Rules (Mile [G1]), Aldebaran (Sprint [G1]), and Medaglia d'Oro (Classic), and got shut out. He has won with just two of 57 starters in Breeders' Cup races.

The upset victory by Adoration all but assures Azeri will repeat as champion older female.

No one in the Adoration camp was heard complaining.

Atswhatimtalknbout Earns San Felipe Date
by Margaret Ransom

B. Wayne Hughes' Atswhatimtalknbout, a well-bred 3-year-old son of A.P. Indy who has shown rapid development in his brief career, earned a shot in stakes company for the first time with his convincing allowance win at Santa Anita Thursday, trainer Ron Ellis said.

Ellis said Atswhatimtalknbout would start in the Mar. 16 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II).

"I think we'll try the San Felipe with him," Ellis said. "The timing works out perfectly for us and I think he's earned it. Today's final time was pretty impressive and even though it's going to be a step up for him for sure, I think he can handle it."

Atswhatimtalknbout sat well off the early pace set by rival Buckland Manor in the thursday's second race, made a bid for the lead on the far turn and took over at the top of the stretch. He battled the Bob Baffert-trained During through the lane to win by three-quarters of a length. Buckland Manor finished third in the non-winners "other than" allowance test for 3-year-olds. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile event over a main track labeled fast was 1:41.89.

Atswhatimtalknbout, a $900,000 Fasig-Tipton 2-year-old in training purchase a year ago, was almost a Derby prospect for someone else, according to bloodstock agent Bob Feld.

"(Hughes) is very meticulous when it comes to buying horses," Feld explained. "He goes over the catalog carefully, looks at all the horses he's interested in, makes all kinds of notes and makes sure the horses vet out OK. He's really a hands-on buyer. But for this horse, somehow we all missed him.

"But that morning (Ellis) and I looked at him again and kept asking ourselves, "how can a horse so big be so fast?' So we called the vet, got it all worked out and when Atswhatimtalknbout came in the ring, we told Wayne to bid on him. Wayne didn't really know what horse he was bidding on, but he kept on going until he bought him. I think he even overbid the Japanese.

"And the horse got his name at dinner that night. We just kept saying, 'atswhatimtalknbout' when we were talking about him and it stuck."

Atswhatimtalknbout picked up $33,600 for his second career win, bringing his bankroll to $69,120. Overall his career line now stands at 3-2-0-1.

"He really fought it out today," Ellis said. "He didn't get all the best of it, having to go wide and then I think he was waiting a little in the stretch. But it was a good effort and I can't be more pleased."

Atswhatimtalknbout is Hughes' first potential Derby horse, though the owner remains cautious about getting too excited too soon.

"I'm just enjoying all this," Hughes said. "He's a nice horse and Ron is doing an exceptional job with him so how can I not?"