May 2017 Issue - page 7

May 2017
Page 7
Irish War Cry Captures Wood, Headed to Kentucky Derby
by Terry Conway
Faugh a Ballagh is a 19th
century Irish battle cry meaning
"clear the way."
Even mild-mannered trainer
Graham Motion must have been
tempted to shout that command
watching his 3-year old colt Irish
War Cry storm down the stretch
in the $750,000 Wood Memorial
at Aqueduct racetrack on April 8.
The New Jersey bred son of Curl-
in now has 110 qualifying points
which punches his ticket to the
seemingly wide open Kentucky
Derby on May 6.
With new jockey Rajiv
Maragh in the irons, Irish War Cry
was content to sit patiently behind
Battalion Runner down the back-
stretch. When Maragh asked the
colt to go, he blew by his rival just
inside the eighth pole and drew off
to win by 3 1/2-lengths, striding
out beautifully at the wire. Racing
in the gold and maroon stripes of
Isabelle de Tomaso, he recorded
a big 101 Beyers Speed Figure in
the 1 1/8-mile race.
The victory enabled the
handsome chestnut to rebound
from a head-scratching seventh
place finish in the Fountain of
Youth Stakes in early March.
"It's extremely gratifying to
get this horse back on track," re-
lated Motion, who won the 2012
Kentucky Derby with Animal
Kingdom. "That was huge. I don't
remember having a situation like
this, when I felt that so much
was on the line. I think that Rajiv
must have felt like he had a lot
of horse because he moved to the
(race) leaders so confident."
After the Fountain of Youth
debacle, the colt was shipped to
the relaxed confines of Motion's
home base at the Fair Hill Train-
ing Center. The trainer also made
an equipment change for the
Wood by adding a figure-eight
noseband for the Wood.
“A figure-eight gives you a
little more control,” explained
Motion. “He had the perfect trip.
This is the kind of trip I hoped he
would have had last time out. I
don’t understand what happened.
It’s just a complete puzzle to me.”
The colt improved his record
to four wins in five starts with
earnings of $699,460.
"He was sharp into the first
turn," Maragh said. "There was a
little pace in front of him, which
is what we were hoping for to get
in a good tracking position. He
relaxed real easily. He did every-
thing I wanted him to do without
a lot of effort. He was always in a
smooth rhythm. He wasn't rank at
all. He settled beautifully."
At Motion's suggestion Mar-
agh galloped the horse three times
in the mornings leading up to the
Wood so the jockey could see that
Irish War Cry is a sensible colt.
"By getting on him in the
mornings, I didn't think I'd have
a hard time getting him to settle,
because he goes so easy and
comfortable," Maragh noted. "We
ran good together today."
It was an especially meaning-
ful victory for Maragh who only
returned to racing last fall after
spending 16 months on the side-
lines from a nasty spill at Belmont
Park in July 2015. The jockey
suffered several broken vertebrae,
a broken rib, and a punctured lung
after his mount fell and landed
squarely on the jockey.
“When I was down and out,
these are the days I dreamed
about,” Maragh related. “These
are the days that made me feel I
wanted to ride. You never know if
you'll get them again after being off
so long. I can't be more thankful
for everyone who has been there
for my recovery and supporting me
now that I'm back. I've never been
so emotional after a race in my life
as I was after this.”
A product of the de Tomaso
breeding program, Irish War Cry is
bred to run all day and has tactical
speed to be up near the lead in a
race. He also has a high cruising
speed down the backstretch and
into the far turn and nice acceler-
ation when called on. A late foal
(May 2), Motion said there is still
plenty of room for improvement
headed into the Triple Crown races.
Pioneer Female Auto Racer
Horsepower has long played
an important part in the life of 86-
year old Isabelle de Tomaso. She
is a daughter of Amory L. Haskell,
the longtime president and chair-
man of Monmouth Park and the
namesake for that track’s premier
$1 million race in early August. As
a youngster, Isabelle rode horses
while growing up on the family's
colonial estate, Woodland Farm,
near Red Bank, N.J. An executive
with General Motors, Haskell
rode with the hounds and start-
ed the Monmouth County Hunt
Race Meet. In addition, he bred
top-flight show dogs and racehors-
es, including Blue Sparkler, the
champion older mare of 1956.
Haskell's spirited daughter
left the U. S. and became a highly
accomplished auto racing driver in
Europe. She helped pioneer the role
of female drivers in the early 1950s
racing in British MGs and Masera-
tis against some of the sport's best
in races like Le Mans and the 12
Hours of Sebring. In 1956 she met
Alejandro de Tomaso of Argentina,
a driver on the international circuit.
They became driving partners and
married a year later. After retiring
from the sport they settled in Italy
and in 1959 formed De Tomaso
motor company that built exotic
sports cars fancied by celebrities
like Elvis Presley.
Irish War Cry is a son of two-
time Horse of the Year Curlin, out
of three-time winning homebred
Irish Sovereign by Polish Num-
bers by the great stallion Danzig
who was foaled at Marshall
Jenney's Derry Meeting Farm.
de Tomaso planned the mating,
her most successful American
runner to date. The colt is the
sixth winner from six starters for
his dam. All the foals have names
that begin with Irish. Irish War
Cry's female family has earned
high marks producing a number of
European classic winning horses
and sires, including Saint Crespin,
Aureole and Tambourine.
de Tomaso keeps a handful
of mares in Ireland and current-
ly has five mares in the United
States. Each year, she sends her
best mares to be bred in Kentucky,
but they return north to drop their
foals at Overbrook Farm in Colts
Neck, N. J., just seven miles down
the road from Monmouth Park.
Woodland Farm is no longer in the
family, having been sold following
Amory Haskell's death in 1968.
Irish Sovereign was bred this
year to Exaggerator, another son
of Curlin who entered stud this
year. Exaggerator's three Grade-1
victories included the Haskell at
Monmouth Park, the race named
for de Tomaso's father. Irish
Sovereign’s four most recent
foals were sent to Motion at Fair
Hill. Irish Strait is a 5-year old
half-brother to Irish War Cry by
English Channel and Irish Poli-
tics is by Political Force.
After the Wood Memorial
victory Irish War Cry returned to
Fair Hill.
(Continued on page 11)
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