George Weaver

Spendthrift Welcomes A Third Met Mile Winner

While there's never one fool-proof indicator for determining stallion potential, Spendthrift Farm has found one race that they feel consistently produces winners who draw their attention. In the past four years, they've welcomed a trio of GI Metropolitan H. victors to their stud barn. First was Mor Spirit (Eskendereya), the first Grade I-winning two-year-old to later win the Met Mile since Holy Bull in 1994. Then came Mitole, another son of Eskendereya who would go on to be named the 2019 Eclipse Champion Male Sprinter. This year, they welcome a...

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Wednesday's Insights: Bernardini Filly From Family of Speightstown Debuts at Gulfstream

4th-Gulfstream Park, $50K, Msw, 2yo, f, 7f, post time: 2:03 p.m. ET VINTAGE STYLE (Bernardini), produced by a half-sister to champion sprinter and top sire Speightstown (Gone West), gets her career started for owners R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables and trainer George Weaver. The full-sister to G1 Emirates Airline Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 winner Capezzano, drawn widest of all in post six and listed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite, was a $150,000 KEESEP yearling. TJCIS PPs

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East Coasters Done No Favors In Hollywood Derby Draw

Five horses based with powerhouse outfits on the East Coast have shipped into Southern California for Saturday's GI Hollywood Derby and in a cruel twist, they have been allocated the 'visitors' draw' in five of the six widest gates in what will be a field of 12. Trainer Christophe Clement has never won the Derby, but he is double-fisted with a pair of high-quality turf sophomores. Gufo (Declaration of War) has won five of his seven trips to the post, having earned a maiden graded success in the GIII Kent...

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Vekoma Retired, to Stand for $20K at Spendthrift

Multiple Grade I-winning millionaire Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}--Mona de Momma, by Speightstown) has been retired from racing and arrived at B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm where the 4-year-old will take up stud duty in 2021. His fee has been set at $20,000 S&N. This year's impressive winner of the GI Carter H. and GI Runhappy Metropolitan H., Vekoma was scratched as the morning-line favorite in Saturday's GI Breeders' Cup Sprint after spiking a fever upon arrival at Keeneland. He will be given a few days to settle in at Spendthrift...

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Vekoma Scratched from Breeders' Cup Sprint After Spiking Fever

Dual 2020 Grade I winner Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}), the heavy favorite for Saturday's GI Breeders' Cup Sprint, has been scratched from the race after spiking a fever, it was announced early Wednesday morning by trainer George Weaver. "Last night, the horse spiked a fever on us," Weaver told TVG, "and we needed to treat him with the doctor last night and he just wasn't fit to go train today. Being this close to a race, he's not fit to run either so we're not going to be able to...

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Vekoma Training Up to Breeders' Cup

After missing an intended start in the GI Forego S. at Saratoga in late August with a foot abscess, the talented Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}) is training up to next month's Breeders' Cup at Keeneland. The chestnut punched his ticket(s) to Lexington with eye-catching victories at Belmont Park in the 'Win and You're In' GI Runhappy Carter H. June 6 (GI Sprint) and GI Runhappy Metropolitan H. last time July 4 (GI Dirt Mile). He kicked off his 4-year-old campaign with a sharp win in Gulfstream's Sir Shackleton S. Mar....

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Vekoma Likely to Miss Forego

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.--Though he has recovered from a leg issue that interrupted his training schedule, two-time Grade I winner Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}) looks to be a long shot to compete in the GI Forego S. Aug. 29. Trainer George Weaver said Friday said the 4-year-old colt, co-owned by Randy Hill's R.A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables, was "50-50" to make the seven-furlong Forego. Vekoma has been treated for an abscess in the coronet band of his left front leg and has not had a timed work since his 1...

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Pandemic Affects Visas, Limiting H-2B Workers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- George Weaver feels it. So do Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher and Shug McGaughey. Among the many new issues that Thoroughbred trainers across the country must contend with during the 2020 pandemic is a shortage of skilled staff. In recent years, it has become more difficult for horsemen to secure all the H-2B visas that they desire to legally bring foreign nationals into the country as guest workers. The arrival of COVID-19 in late winter closed U.S. consulates, compounding the problems, preventing visa holders from getting their...

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Vekoma to Stand at Spendthrift

B. Wayne Hughes's Spendthrift Farm has acquired the breeding rights to multiple Grade I-winning millionaire Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}--Mona de Momma, by Speightstown). The chestnut captured the prestigious GI Runhappy Metropolitan H. Saturday, four weeks after dominating the GI Runhappy Carter H. "We are extremely excited about Vekoma and his future as a stallion. It's not often you see an elite racehorse that is by a Grade I winner and out of a Grade I winner," said Ned Toffey, Spendthrift general manager. "Vekoma is a terrific blend of his sire...

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Forego Possible for Vekoma

Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}) exited his determined victory in Saturday's GI Runhappy Metropolitan H. in fine shape and could now be aimed at the Aug. 29 GI Forego S. at Saratoga, while connections also consider training the 4-year-old up to the Breeders' Cup. "What a horse," co-owner Randy Hill said Sunday. "I'll never own another horse like this. I've watched the race about 20 times and it just gives me goosebumps. I really wish I could have been there, but I'd rather win than be there and lose them." Vekoma...

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The Week in Review: Met Mile–and Vekoma–Both Benefit from Role Recasts

One of the most welcome schedule changes imposed upon the racing calendar by the COVID-19 pandemic was the repositioning of the GI Runhappy Metropolitan H. to headline status on the July 4 holiday at Belmont Park. In 2014, the Met Mile got yanked off its decades-long anchor as the Memorial Day feature in New York, reassigned to a supporting role on GI Belmont S. Day. This move was part of the prevalent (but not always aesthetically pleasing) national practice of stacking graded stakes on big-race Saturdays. It never felt like...

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Candy Ride's Vekoma All the Way in Runhappy Met Mile

Given a positive ride by Javier Castellano, R A Hill Stable and Gatsas Stable's Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}) dared them to catch him in Saturday's GI Runhappy Metropolitan H. at Belmont, and catch him they could not, as the immaculately bred chestnut made every yard of the running to best perfect-trip Network Effect (Mark Valeski) by 1 1/4 lengths. Code of Honor (Noble Mission {GB}) was forced to cover ground on the turn, but plugged on gamely to be third, while favored 'TDN Rising Star' McKinzie (Street Sense) had little...

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