Bal A Bali first Fasig-Tipton Turf Horse of Month
Kilroe winner featured as TurfTalk360 debuts for all things grass racing
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, April 6, 2017) — Bal A Bali, Brazil’s 2014 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year who won his first U.S. Grade 1 stakes in Santa Anita’s Frank Kilroe, has been voted Fasig-Tipton Turf Horse of the Month for March as the new all-things turf racing website TurfTalk360.com breaks from the starting gate.
The 7-year-old Bal A Bali, owned by Calumet Farm and trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, closed strongly under Javier Castellano to nip 2016 Kilroe winner What a View by a head in the March 11 race, covering the mile on turf in 1:33 4/5.
The monthly award recognizing the outstanding grass performer is sponsored by the internationally prominent Fasig-Tipton sales company, which this Sept. 10 will stage its first Turf Showcase auction consisting of selected yearlings suited for grass racing at its Newtown Paddocks in Lexington, Ky.
TurfTalk360.com is a sister website to the popular JockeyTalk360.com. TurfTalk is produced by the father-son team of Corey and C.J. Johnsen, with award-winning racing writer Jennie Rees the editor. Corey Johnsen is president and part-owner of Kentucky Downs, the all-grass track over North America’s only European style course in Franklin.
“Turf racing is growing exponentially in America,” Corey Johnsen said. “Horses with turf pedigrees often do well at our classic distances on dirt because they have that endurance and late speed bred into them. But grass racing today is more than just marathon distances. Wise Dan’s two Horse of the Year Awards show that the turf miler is becoming increasingly important and prestigious in the United States, and sprints on grass are now a staple of racing programs throughout the country. In today’s world where short fields are a chronic issue for racetracks, grass racing stands out with its ability to attract a full gate, making it an enticing handicapping product.
“Horse racing is becoming increasingly global. And with European and Asian racing primarily on grass, the turf horse that American breeders produce becomes that much more coveted. TurfTalk360 will chronicle and celebrate the explosion in grass racing, with features steadily added in the coming weeks.”
Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning noted that more than 40 percent of all graded-stakes races in the United States in 2017 will be grass races.
“We are seeing North American racing and breeding programs investing in high-class grass performers at an increasing rate,” Browning said. “We are delighted to be involved with TurfTalk360 in publicizing and promoting this important segment of American racing that accentuates quality.”
Bal A Bali is a son of Put It Back, who stood in Florida and then South America. The Allen Jerkens-trained Put It Back won five of seven races, with a second and third, showing brilliant speed. A son of Metropolitan Mile (G1) winner Honour and Glory, Put It Back also is the sire of U.S. Grade 1 winners In Summation and Jessica is Back.
Bal A Bali won 11 of 12 races in his native Brazil at distances from 4 1/2 furlongs to 1 7/16 miles. Showing his toughness as he battled laminitis when coming out of quarantine after being sent to America, Bal A Bali was off 11 months but won his U.S. debut for Mandella and new owners Rick Porter and Siena Farms.
“A lot of horses have a certain degree of laminitis — foundering — and can race,” Mandella said. “But he actually rotated his coffin bone a little bit, which is a more severe case. With that, it was quite a feat just for him to make the races, I’d say. But he’s gone on, been very good. I use a podiatrist from Kentucky named Vern Dryden (also a veterinarian), and he’s done great work for me. And he’s had great owners.
Bal A Bali had not raced since trying the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) on June 25 when sold to Calumet Farm as a stallion. “He was almost retired,” Mandella said. “Calumet Farm asked me that if he had a rest, could he come back and compete again? I said, ‘I think so, it’s worth a try.’ So that’s why we’re here today.”
Bal A Bali captured the Kilroe in his first start back.
“He’s a great horse, a beautiful horse to look at with a race record that’s very strong,” Mandella said. “He won the Triple Crown in Brazil. He broke a track record at a mile and a mile and a half in Brazil, and courageous enough to overcome foundering.”
Bal A Bali could race next in Churchill Downs’ 1 1/8-mile Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) on the May 6 Kentucky Derby card or wait for the June 3 Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita, the trainer said.