Wise Dan highlights Keeneland's first ever $1 million race
"He is just an amazing horse," trainer Charlie LoPresti said of Wise Dan, who visited the starting gate and then had an easy gallop through the fog Wednesday morning under regular exercise rider Damien Rock. "He is about as good as I can get him."
"It looks like we are going to get rain (this weekend) and that doesn't bother me," LoPresti said. "He has run in a bog before; done it a couple of times."
Seek Again, who captured the 1 1/4-mile Hollywood Derby in his U.S. debut last November, showed versatility after his Churchill defeat by rallying for a neck victory over the Canadian-based Grand Arch in the one-mile Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga in early August. The Juddmonte Farms homebred has won one of three starts this season for trainer Bill Mott.
Optimizer, a multiple Grade 3 winner on turf, ran his best race in more than a year in the Bernard Baruch while making his first start for trainer Jose Fernandez. The Calumet Farm-owned five-year-old was previously with Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas.
The likely front-runner is Silver Max, who took advantage of a wet, speed-friendly Polytrack to upset Wise Dan in last year's Shadwell Turf Mile. The Dale Romans trainee has had two runs this season, taking the Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs and then fading to the rear of the pack in the Fourstardave despite having an uncontested lead.
Kaigun, winner of the seven-furlong Play the King at Woodbine in August, enters off a runner-up finish in the Woodbine Mile. The aforementioned Grand Arch, who won the one-mile King Edward at the Toronto course prior to his second in the Fourstardave, was only fifth in the Woodbine Mile after making a five-wide bid.
Completing the field are stakes winner Sayaad, fourth in the Bernard Baruch last time, and the Virginia-bred outsider Two Notch Road.
Centre Court, who earned Grade 1 laurels at Keeneland last season in the Jenny Wiley, has gone unplaced in her last three starts, while 2012 First Lady heroine Better Lucky has won one of four starts this year while racing primarily on non-turf surfaces. Discreet Marq, who narrowly missed in the Jenny Wiley this past April, is another who's settled for minor awards of late, finishing 2 1/2 lengths second to Dayathespa in the Yaddo most recently.
The speedy three-year-old Istanford challenges older rivals for the first time after a pair of wire-to-wire wins in the San Clemente Handicap and Sandy Blue Handicap, both at Del Mar. Earlier, the Mike Stidham charge beat males in the Arlington Classic.
The First Lady field is completed by Sassy Kitten, who's taken minor stakes at Mountaineer and Louisiana Downs in her last two outings, and Grade 3 scorer Kitten's Point, unraced since finishing seventh in the April 12 Jenny Wiley.
No Nay Never, trainer Wesley Ward's three-year-old who went overseas twice in 2013 to take the Norfolk at Royal Ascot and the Prix Morny at Deauville, returns to action against older rivals in the Grade 3, $150,000 Woodford over 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.
A winner at first asking over the Polytrack during the 2013 spring meet, No Nay Never has not run second March 1, when he was second in the Swale at Gulfstream in his first attempt on dirt.
No Nay Never will break from post 9 in the field of 11. Also breaking on the outside is Marchman, who took the Shakertown during the spring meet and added the Twins Spires Turf Sprint at Churchill before placing in the Jaipur and Parx Dash. Farther out is Spring to the Sky, who enters off back-to-back stakes wins in the Lucky Coin and Troy at Saratoga.
Other notables in the field are Sharp Sensation, upset winner of the Turf Monster Handicap at Parx last time; Positive Side, a neck second to Marchman in the Shakertown in April; 2012-13 Phoenix hero Sum of the Parts, who is also a multiple stakes winner on the grass; and Listed performers No Distinction, Choctaw Chuck, and Tell All You Know.
Conquest Tsunami risks perfect mark in Breeders' Futurity; Eight in TCA
Conquest Tsunami has never competed beyond seven furlongs or on a conventional dirt surface, following his Keeneland romp with a 7 3/4-length victory in the five-furlong Victoria over Woodbine's Polytrack in June. Trainer Mark Casse then saddled the Stormy Atlantic colt to a 6 3/4-length score in the six-furlong Colin on July 26 and a head win over that Toronto track's turf course last out in a seven-furlong allowance on August 23.
Patrick Husbands was aboard for Conquest Tsunami's last three efforts and retains the mount on the bay juvenile.
Rounding out the Breeders' Futurity field are maiden heroes Firespike and Keen Ice; Hopeful third-placer Sharm; Grade 2 runner-up Mr. Z; and stakes winners Dekabrist and W V Jetsetter.
Like the Breeders' Futurity, the Grade 2, $200,000 Thoroughbred Club of America earlier on Keeneland's Saturday program is a "Win & You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup. The victorious distaffer from the six-furlong affair receives an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
Leigh Court has scored in four of her last five, all against stakes company, with her only loss coming as a close fourth in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup last October on Keeneland's turf. However, the Josie Carroll pupil owns just one start this season when taking the Seaway at Woodbine on August 24 under Gary Boulanger, who retains the mount.
Completing the TCA are Grade 3 scorers Northern Passion and Southern Honey; multiple Grade 3-placed stakes heroine Speedinthruthecity; and dual stakes-placed Anahauc and Janis's Joy.
Juveniles star in Champagne, Frizette; Mr Speaker returns to turf in Hill Prince
Javier Castellano will be aboard Daredevil, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, and the pair will leave from post position 6.
Another colt coming off an eye-catching maiden victory is ' El Kabeir, who scored by 10 lengths second time out on August 30 at Saratoga. That came just 16 days after the Scat Daddy colt ran an even third going five furlongs on August 14 in his first outing.
"We knew he could run, and we knew he had talent," trainer John Terranova said of El Kabeir's maiden victory. "He ran a tremendous figure and it was visually impressive. It was coming back quick, but the first race kind of put him in the right place. He got a great schooling in that race. He's a high-energy colt, and it focused him and pointed him in the right direction. That's why I ran him back so quick -- he really came on the two weeks after that first race."
In the intervening six weeks, El Kabeir has continued to progress, according to Terranova.
"He's had three really nice breezes and done them all the right way -- real professional," Terranova noted. "He's in a beautiful rhythm down here. We haven't had a bad day or missed a day with him since he won. Everything has gone so right for him. Hopefully we'll have a few good days with him and a good fall, and he'll develop into a good racehorse."
Irad Ortiz Jr. will be back aboard El Kabeir, who drew the rail and is listed at 5-2 on the morning-line.
Challenging the impressive maiden winners are a pair of colts with stakes victories already on their resumes -- I Spent It and New York-bred Upstart.
I Spent It broke his maiden at Belmont on July 2 for trainer Tony Dutrow, and is 6-1 on the morning-line. The bay Super Saver colt, who won the August 10 Sanford and finished second in the September 1 Hopeful at Saratoga, will be ridden by Jose Lezcano from post position 3.
Upstart registered a 106 BRIS Speed rating in taking the restricted Funny Cide on August 24 at Saratoga in his second start. Trained by Rick Violette, the Flatter ridgling is listed at 7-2 on the morning line and drew post position 2 under Jose Ortiz.
Rounding out the field are The Truth or Else, who broke his maiden by 2 1/2 lengths in his fourth start after being switched from turf to dirt, and Holy Boss, a 10 1/4-length maiden winner at Churchill Downs first time out for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Condo Commando, the 2-1 favorite on the morning-line, will be ridden by Joe Bravo from post 6.
The third-place finisher in the Adirondack, Wonder Gal, will hope to turn the tables on Cavorting, and may have license to do so. Trained by Leah Gyarmati, the Tiz Wonderful filly won her debut by 14 1/2 lengths in the Lynbrook Stakes on July 6 at Belmont, but things didn't go as smoothly in the Adirondack.
After tracking the pace along the inside, Wonder Gal loomed a threat entering the stretch but failed to find adequate room to run. The top two were well clear by the time she was able to extricate herself, but the dark bay miss ran on gamely and was gaining.
"The hole was opening and the hole was closing," Gyarmati said. "She's a big filly, so she's not going to just shoot right through there, and then she got slammed. When she got in the hole, (Vivian Da Bling) came over on her and turned our filly sideways, and (Wonder Gal) hit the rail. She got a little schooling.
"It makes you wonder how she would have run with a clean trip. Those are two nice fillies that beat us, but it would have been nice to have clear sailing and see how close we get. She's such a big filly; she needs that room, and you can't really stop her and start her again."
Cornelio Velasquez has the mount aboard Wonder Gal, 6-1 on the morning-line, and the pair will leave from post 2.
Others of note in the Hill Prince are Ring Weekend, last-out winner of the Saranac following a second in Saratoga's Sir Cat, both on turf; Tourist, who won the Sir Cat prior to a runner-up effort in the Secretariat at Arlington; Saranac second Smooth Daddy; Secretariat third-placer Sheldon; and three colts -- Blacktype, Cabral and Sloane Avenue -- who will be making their North American debuts in the Hill Prince.
Kicking off the stakes action on Saturday at Belmont will be the Temperence Hill Invitational sending six runners -- including Cary Street and Ever Rider, the respective first and second in the Greenwood Cup -- 1 5/8 miles over the main track.
Goldencents, Secret Circle head Santa Anita Sprint
Merit Man and Ankeny Hill exit minor stakes wins at Del Mar. Rich Tapestry, a Group 3 winner overseas and second in the lucrative Dubai Golden Shaheen on the Dubai World Cup undercard, will make his U.S. debut for conditioner C.W. Chang. Grade 1-placed Indexical rounds out the six-horse field.
The $75,000 Swingtime will feature nine distaffers at a mile on turf. Kathleen Rose, a neck second in the Royal Heroine two starts back over the course, is a likely favorite given her solid form and affinity for the local turf (8-5-2-0 at Santa Anita). Bejarano will be up for Michael Machoswky.
Atreides tries two turns in Indiana Derby
If not for the presence of Atreides, Vicar's in Trouble would be a strong favorite to secure his fourth graded stakes win of the season Saturday. Hero of the Louisiana Derby and Lecomte at Fair Grounds last winter, the Mike Maker trainee was an emphatic 7 1/4-length winner of the nine-furlong Super Derby at Louisiana Downs last time.
The Louisiana-bred son of Into Mischief has yet to win outside his home state, but possess a significant class edge over the rest of the field.
Needing career-best efforts to pull off the upset are stakes winner Just Call Kenny, sixth in the Smarty Jones and Haskell Invitational in his last two; Saratoga allowance winner C J's Awesome, a dead-heat fourth in the Pennsylvania Derby two weeks ago; and East Hall, the Ohio Derby winner who finished sixth in the Super Derby.
Eleven three-year-old fillies will line up for the Grade 2, $200,000 Indiana Oaks at 1 1/16 miles. Among the notables is Penwith, who narrowly missed to Stopchargingmaria in the Demoiselle at Aqueduct last November and most recently returned from a long break to beat older fillies and mares by nearly five lengths in a Saratoga allowance.
Unbridled Forever and Miss Besilu are both multiple Grade 1-placed. The former has earned checks in the Coaching Club American Oaks, Acorn, Kentucky Oaks, and Fair Grounds Oaks, while Miss Besilu, a $2.6 million weanling purchase, earned third money in the Alabama and CCA Oaks during the Saratoga meet.
Another potential player is Tiz Windy, a sharp 4 3/4-length allowance winner at Churchill Downs last time for Hall of Famer Carl Nafzger.
The $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial, for older horses at one mile and 70 yards, features multiple stakes winners Right to Vote and Ground Transport, and Washington Park Handicap runner-up Hattaash. Expected front-runners Abraham and Joy Boy also merit respect, as does the multiple stakes-winning Fordubai.
The $100,000 Mari Hulman George, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, has attracted Flashy American, winner of the Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne and third against Grade 1 foes in the Delaware Handicap this year.
Her most serious challengers are expected to be My Option, a multiple Grade 3 winner at Arlington; Sister Ginger, a stakes winner on dirt and turf at Indiana Grand; and the Grade 3-placed Ambusher.
Among the betting favorites in the $100,000 TaWee, a one-mile turf stakes for three-year-old fillies, is the multiple Grade 3-placed Kiss Moon, who captured a division of the Hatoof at Arlington two back, and grass stakes winner Kiss to Remember, a distant runner-up in the Charles Town Oaks last out.
Tapestry supplemented to Arc; defending champ Treve heads Arc worktab
On a day that a number of Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe contenders put in their final works for France's €5 million showpiece, the outlook of the race was altered Wednesday when it was revealed that sophomore filly Tapestry would be supplemented to the 2400 meter contest with Ryan Moore to take the mount.
Supplementing will cost €120,000, but Tapestry could be well worth it, as she handed current Arc favorite Taghrooda her lone defeat in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks on August 21. Tapestry finished ninth when dropped back to a mile in the Group 1 Matron at Leopardstown on September 13, and the Galileo filly also holds an entry in Sunday's Group 1 Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp.
"The plan is if she is in good order she will be supplemented and Ryan Moore will ride," Coolmore spokesman Richard Henry said.
Tapestry was given odds of around 16-1 with bookmakers.
Comebacking six-year-old Al Kazeem, who emerged as a surprise Arc contender, put in a piece of work at trainer Roger Charlton's stable in Wiltshire on Wednesday, with the trainer then confirming the triple Group 1 winner for France's top race.
"He worked nicely in a routine piece of work," Charlton told At The Races. "James Doyle rode him, he was very happy with him, so we'll send him to Paris."
Al Kazeem was sent to The Royal Studs for the 2014 breeding season after winning last year's Tattersalls Gold Cup, Prince of Wales's and Coral-Eclipse, all Group 1s, but subfertility saw him back in Charlton's yard earlier this year. The son of Dubawi won the Group 3 Winter Hill at second asking on August 23, and was fifth in the Group 1 Irish Champion on September 13. He finished sixth in last year's Arc.
"He seems to take his races very well," Charlton added. "In the paddock before a race he's very relaxed, he looks magnificent and he's showing no signs of being a stallion. He's very willing and able in his work. He's always been a very noble, straightforward and intelligent horse. He never comes out in the morning looking anything other than happy and fresh and, indeed, moving as well as ever."
Charlton was non-committal about his charge's winning chances.
"I think the truth is, as he's a year older he's unlikely to have got any better, and he needs to get better to win a race like the Arc," he stated. "Last year we were given a very awkward draw and nothing was going to be good enough to beat Treve last year.
"I'm not sure that's the same this year. It's a very open race and you could find half a dozen horses at least with chances. There's nothing outstanding. I have respect for the Japanese horses, but I think some of the others have it to prove a little bit and some of them are improving horses who turn out to be good enough."
Defending Arc heroine Treve may have lost a lot of her luster in the ensuing 12 months on pure form -- she has failed to win in three attempts this year and was most recently fourth in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille on September 14 -- but trainer Criquette Head-Maarek couldn't hide her enthusiasm after the Motivator four-year-old worked in Chantilly on Wednesday under raceday rider Thierry Jarnet.
"I really have the impression she has come on a lot for her last run," Head-Maarek told Racing Post. "Today she showed she has rediscovered a big part of her powers. It's good to see as we approach the big day.
"She worked really well and I told Thierry to let her roll," Head-Maarek added. "She was moving brilliantly when she came past us. Obviously it's satisfying Thierry finds her to be in such good shape. A lot of work has gone into it and the objective has always been to make her a double Arc winner."
Two of Japan's three Arc contenders were on display in Chantilly on Wednesday.
The Naosuke Sugai-trained Just a Way, the world's highest-rated horse and winner of this year's Group 1 Dubai Duty Free and Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen, stepped out alongside his Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen-winning stablemate Gold Ship, with the former pushed out to finish slightly ahead.
Outsider Shamkala was the lone horse to drop out of the Arc lineup at Wednesday's forfeit stage.
In other Arc news, Al Shaqab Racing's retained rider Frankie Dettori, who piloted Ruler of the World to a front-running victory in the Group 2 Prix Foy at Longchamp on September 14, will be aboard that Galileo four-year-old in Sunday's race, agent Ray Cochrane confirmed Wednesday.
"Frankie told me this afternoon he's riding the horse, and hopefully he'll have plenty more rides through the day," Cochrane said.
The Prix Foy, a key prep for the Arc, was just the second start of the year for Ruler of the World after he finished 13th in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup on March 29. The Aidan O'Brien trainee last visited the winner's circle in the 2013 Group 1 Derby. He is 16-1 for the Arc.
Preakness tickets on sale
The Maryland Jockey Club have announced that tickets for 2015 Preakness went on-sale Wednesday morning. Renewal invoices were sent today with a deadline of January 16, 2015. The 140th running of the Preakness will take place May 16 at Pimlico.
Preakness InfieldFest is a multi-entertainment festival featuring national headlining artists on two stages, the popular MUG Club and unique attractions throughout the day to give fans an unparalleled entertainment experience, featuring 13 exciting races, headlined by the Preakness.
Just as in previous years, there will be tiers of pricing, based on calendar days, for Infield and MUG Club tickets:
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Preakness ticket office (877-206-8042) or by logging onto www.ticketfly.com.
Seating information and ticket reservation forms for Preakness 140 can be found at http://www.preakness.com/tickets.
Fashion Alert tops Alcibiades on Keeneland opener
Fashion Alert, a Todd Pletcher trainee who captured her first two starts against stakes company in New York, will break from the rail as a field of 13 juvenile fillies go postward in the Grade 1, $400,000 Alcibiades, the opening day feature over 1 1/16 miles.
A daughter of Old Fashioned, Fashion Alert flashed speed in both outings, taking the 5 1/2-furlong Astoria at Belmont by 4 3/4 lengths on June 14. Five weeks later, the bay dueled and then drew off to take the six-furlong Schuylerville by 1 1/2 lengths over Take Charge Brandi, who reappears here after consecutive fifth-place finishes in the Adirondack and Pocahontas.
The Alcibiades field also includes several sharp debut winners. Top Decile won by a length at Saratoga for trainer Al Stall Jr. going 6 1/2 furlongs, while Taylor S enters off a strong 3 3/4-length score at Churchill Downs for Dale Romans over the same distance. Darley, the sponsor of the Alcibiades, will be represented by homebred Innovative Idea, who won for fun by 4 1/4 lengths at Arlington at the same trip last month, but the daughter of Bernardini will need to make a successful transition from Polytrack to dirt.
Others likely to garner some support are Gap Year, a head third in her Saratoga debut for Godolphin and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin; Calamity Kate, a six-length maiden winner at Belmont in her third career start; Pangburn, runner-up in the Pocahontas at Churchill following a turf maiden win; and Naval Command, who has won three of four including the Happy Ticket on grass at Louisiana Downs.
Work All Week, the Illinois-bred hero of the Iowa Sprint Handicap in June over Grade 2 hero Delaunay, will break outside the other speed in the Grade 3, $200,000 Phoenix over six furlongs. Although beaten last time in a state-bred stakes at Arlington, Work All Week is undefeated in eight career starts on dirt.
Also entering the Phoenix on hot streaks are Rainbow Heir, who has won three in a row including the $130,000 Teddy Drone at Monmouth; Bern Identity, unbeaten in three outings this term including the $100,000 Dave's Friend at Laurel last time; and multiple stakes winner Mr. Baker, who has won four of his last five.
Completing the Phoenix field are Count Fleet Sprint Handicap winner Lemon Drop Dream, who has been unplaced in his last three starts; Grade 2-placed stakes-winning three-year-old C. Zee; Saratoga allowance scorer Eastwood; and stakes veteran Zee Bros, the trailer in last Saturday's Vosburgh at Belmont.
Both the Alcibiades and Phoenix are Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" challenge races -- the Alcibiades for the Juvenile Fillies and the Phoenix for the Sprint.
The Keeneland Fall Meet runs through October 25, with live racing Wednesday through Sunday. Gates open at 11 a.m. (EDT); post time for the first race is 1:05 p.m.
Highclere Thoroughbred Racing's Telescope (Galileo) has stepped up his training in preparation for the November 1 Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita Park, according to an update on Highclere's website. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained four-year-old won the Hardwicke (Eng-G2) by seven lengths at Royal Ascot on June 21 before finishing second in the July 26 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Eng-G1) and third in the August 20 International (Eng-G1). "He will no doubt relish every yard of the mile and a half at Santa Anita on ground that is usually fairly quick, which should also suit him," the update read. "Sir Michael has recently stepped back up Telescope's exercise regime, having freshened him up, and he is in great form as he continues his preparation for this valuable race."...
Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum's standout juvenile Estidhkaar (Dark Angel), winner of three straight races including the July 12 Superlative (Eng-G2) and September 13 Champagne (Eng-G2), is likely to test Group 1 company for the first time in the Dewhurst on October 17, Future Champions Day, at Newmarket. "Estidhkaar is on target for the Dewhurst, he is fine at the moment and we are very pleased with him," trainer Richard Hannon said. Estidhkaar could face a bevy of Ballydoyle challengers, with trainer Aidan O'Brien responsible for 13 of the 34 horses still in contention for the juvenile showpiece, including National (Ire-G1) winner Gleneagles (Galileo) and unbeaten Group 2 scorer Ol' Man River (Montjeu). Other possibles for the Dewhurst include Group 1 conqueror The Wow Signal (Starspangledbanner), Group 3 hero Aktabantay (Oasis Dream) and listed victor Belardo (Lope de Vega). Meanwhile, Hannon noted that his other Group 2-winning juveniles -- Ivawood (Zebedee), Kool Kompany (Jeremy) and Beacon (Paco Boy) -- would target the Middle Park (Eng-G1) on the same card...
Jean-Claude-Alain Dupouy's evergreen performer Cirrus des Aigles (Even Top) is one of 22 remaining in the Champion (Eng-G1) on October 18 after Wednesday's declaration stage. The eight-year-old gelding, who was last seen winning the June 7 Coronation Cup (Eng-G1) at Epsom, has contested the last four runnings of the Champion, winning in 2011 and finishing second the last two years. He will first shoot for his third straight victory -- and fourth overall -- in Longchamp's Prix Dollar (Fr-G2) on Saturday. "I am very proud about him appearing at every Champions Day," trainer Corine Barande-Barbe said. "It will be another record for him, and he loves records." The Champion could also mark a rematch of Australia (Galileo) -- the dual Epsom (Eng-G1) and Irish (Ire-G1) Derby and International (Eng-G1) star -- with his Irish Champion (Ire-G1) conqueror and Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-G1) winner The Grey Gatsby (Mastercraftsman). Other notable contenders include Magician (Galileo), Ruler of the World (Galileo), Free Eagle (High Chaparral) and Mukhadram (Shamardal). Australia is also engaged in the Queen Elizabeth II (Eng-G1) going a mile on the same card alongside 20 others, including the Richard Hannon pair of Toronado (High Chaparral) and Night of Thunder (Dubawi). Twenty-one remain engaged in the Fillies & Mares (Eng-G1), including defending winner Seal of Approval (Authorized), last year's Irish Oaks (Ire-G1) winner Chicquita (Montjeu) and standout sophomore fillies Taghrooda (Sea the Stars), Tarfasha (Teofilo) and Tapestry (Galileo)...
The 2015 Sam Houston Race Park stakes schedule, which will offer nearly $1.7 million in purses, has been approved by the Texas Racing Commission. Sam Houston president Andréa Young confirmed that the Houston Racing Festival will return January 24. The richest day in Texas Thoroughbred racing will feature four stakes, including the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic and the $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3). The 2015 stakes schedule starts with Texas Champions Weekend, featuring the best Texas-breds competing over two days in seven divisions on the first two days of the meeting, which runs 32 days from January 16-March 10. "Our goal for 2014 was to continue to improve the quality of our live racing," Young said. "We feel we accomplished this with several of our 2014 stakes winners continuing on to showcase their talent on the national racing scene throughout the year. We look forward to raising the bar even higher in 2015." Friday and Saturday post times for the 2015 Meet will be 7 p.m. and 6 p.m. (CT), respectively. Daytime racing will continue every Monday and Tuesday afternoon with a 1 p.m. post time...
The third installment in an eight-part series of online videos promoting Wise Dan as "The Most Interesting Horse in the World" is available now on AmericasBestRacing.net. The latest satirical send-up of a popular beer commercial sees the reigning two-time Horse of the Year visiting with the Dalai Lama and describes his victory garlands as coveted artifacts. The third installment of "Wise Dan: The Most Interesting Horse in the World" can be accessed by clicking here and also on YouTube. The first two videos have generated more than 10,000 views on YouTube. A new video will be released each Wednesday until the week of October 27, when the final two videos will arrive in advance of the 2014 Breeders' Cup World Championships. Currently ranked second in the NTRA's weekly Top Thoroughbred Poll of racing media, Wise Dan is aiming to join Forego as the only horses to win a Horse of the Year Eclipse Award three times...
Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) has announced the winners of the second annual TCA Youth Essay Contest. Mary Eddy, 16, of Wilton, New York, and Kayla Urbasik, 14, of Ontario, Canada, have been named co-winners of the contest. The contest was open to recipients of services, volunteers, supporters or any one, 18 years of age or younger, who has been impacted by an organization that received a grant from TCA in 2014. To participate, contestants submitted an essay containing a minimum of 300 words and a maximum of 600 words, describing how a TCA grantee charity has affected his or her life. Eddy wrote about her experience as a volunteer with Old Friends' Cabin Creek facility in Saratoga Springs, New York. Old Friends will receive a grant of $1,000 for Eddy's essay. Urbasik wrote about her experience adopting a Thoroughbred from Long Run Retirement Society in Canada. Long Run will also receive a grant of $1,000 for Urbasik's essay...
In conjunction with the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) will be publicly recognizing the courage of breast cancer survivors at Belmont Park on Saturday. Honorees, who consist of NYRA employees, members of the local community and racing fans from across the tri-state region, will gather for a group photo at 12:25 p.m. (EDT) in the Belmont Park winner's circle. They will also be presenting the winning trophies for Saturday's first three races, which are scheduled to start at 12:50 p.m. All honorees will be participating in a private family lunch hosted by NYRA prior to the start of the day's races, and will have their names displayed on Belmont Park's infield tote board during the course of the day. NYRA will be offering free admission to Belmont Park on Saturday for all guests wearing pink. Donation tables benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) will be set up in the festival tent and in the Clubhouse lobby, with pink ribbons and bracelets available at both locations for guests. Additionally, all proceeds from Saturday's inaugural Belmont Park Chili Festival will be donated to the BCRF. For a $10 donation, guests will sample and vote for the best chili from five local restaurants: Park Place, Shackleton's, Dee Dee's Luncheonette, Tulip Catering, and Murphy's Bar and Grill. The festival will taking place in the festival tent between noon and 4 p.m., with the winner announced following the completion of the 7TH race. Jockeys participating in Saturday's races will be wearing pink armbands in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink flowers, bunting and carpeting also will be found throughout Belmont Park on Saturday. For more information regarding Saturday's activities and upcoming special events at Belmont Park, please visit nyra.com...
A new racing record was set on Wednesday in the 5TH Race at ThistleDown Racino. Duty Calls (Service Stripe) sprinted 4 1/2 furlongs in :51.04, breaking the 1992 record set by Onion Roll of :51.57. The six-year-old gelding -- owned by Marion Gorham and trained by her husband, Bob Gorham -- earned his third straight romping victory against claimers in this spot...
Click here to view Tuesday evening's Night School with the weekly Night School Rewind. Read all of Tuesday night's interaction as well as register in the archives to be eligible for weekly and seasonal prizes. Week 31 of Night School was entitled "Handicapping Stakes Races." Tuesday night featured NYRA TV analyst Jason Blewitt and Santa Anita/HRTV analyst Jon White.
For Thursday or Next Raceday
OCTOBER 2, 2014
Patinack Dispersal comes to a close
by Rob Burnet
Victorian businessman Sean Buckley purchased former Patinack Farm galloper Hooked (Casino Prince) (Lot No. 795) for A$600,000 to top the final session of the Patinack Farm Complete Dispersal at the Magic Millions sale complex at Bundall on the Gold Coast Wednesday.
Hooked, a four-year-old entire, will run in the A$500,000 Epsom H. (Aus-G1) at Randwick Saturday under the guidance of trainer John Thompson in Buckley's colors. Hooked earlier in the day was drawn barrier 14 for the race. Buckley confirmed straight after the sale that Hooked would remain with Thompson for the rest of his racing career.
The sessions of the Patinack Farm Complete Dispersal from Sunday through to Wednesday generated gross sales of A$33,944,500 for Magic Millions co-owner Gerry Harvey, who held security over all bloodstock and properties of the business after lending what is believed to be some A$40 million to former owner Nathan Tinkler. Wednesday's session saw 135 sold for A$5,861,500, at an average of A$43,419, and a median price of A$26,000.
The sale attracted a large crowd, and while business was extremely brisk for the Three-Year-Olds section of the Dispersal sale, it was the video presence of Hooked on the sale ring screen that was the major attraction, just three days removed from his dominant win in the Cameron H. (Aus-G3) at Newcastle on September 17.
The sale ring crowd was silenced when Toby Koenig, a vet and bloodstock manager for Buckley, opened the bidding for the absent Hooked -- who was back at Thompson's Randwick stables -- at A$450,000.
The bold tactic nearly worked with a long pause before auctioneer Clint Donovan took a further A$50,000 bid. He then went in A$25,000 increments to reach the A$600,000 level to Koenig standing beside the outside ring.
"The horse was purchased by Ultra Thoroughbred Racing and will race in our colors in the Epsom H. on Saturday," Ultra's Sean Buckley reported.
"Ultra's Mr. Chong will be the majority shareholder and some others will be joining the syndicate. John Thompson will continue to train Hooked for the remainder of his racetrack career. He has done a tremendous job with the horse and we hope for great success into the future."
It has been a nervous time for Thompson, formerly Patinack Farm's trainer, as he watched horses from the stable go through the ring. As it turned out it was the best possible outcome for the trainer, as he kept Hooked, who he has trained for his entire career, and he also has the smart filly First Seal in the A$400,000 Coolmore Flight S. (Aus-G1) Saturday.
"I am happy and (Buckley) has said he would leave him with me for the rest of his career," Thompson remarked. "So it is good to get new clients in. The team has done a good job with him and hopefully we can return the favor by winning a good race with him."
Thompson added he was unsure as to what the outcome was going to be as the sale approached.
"When you get stables like Gai (Waterhouse) and (Chris) Waller and Hong Kong interests looking at him at the stable you never know what is going to happen," he acknowledged. "With Gai and her big money clients you just don't know. It is a unique opportunity to be able to buy a horse and run it three days later in a Group 1. He was a lot better chance before he drew barrier 14, but he will still run well as he is going very well."
Thompson also signed for Tremec (Zabeel), the Chairman's H. (Aus-G2) winner, as lot 811, for A$110,000.
In other news from the final session of the Dispersal Sale, Perth businessman Richard Bayliss purchased Reflectance (Redoute's Choice) for A$330,000. Lot 805 is out of the Last Tycoon mare Lady Capel, making him a three-quarter brother to sire Casino Prince, and is set to be trained in Bunbury by Mark Biarstow for the Perth Summer Carnival.
The highlight of the Three-Year-Olds section was the final offering from Endless, the Sadler's Wells mare who is the full sister to Powerscourt and a half-sister to Riposte, Last Train and Kind, the dam of Frankel, Noble Mission, Bullet Train and Joyeuse.
Lot 721, the bay filly by Manduro, was signed for by Darren Smith at A$260,000 on behalf of Bruce McKenzie, who races under the Oakfield banner. McKenzie, an owner/breeder, has a property at Port Stephens, New South Wales, and he was taking the opportunity to upgrade his stock with the filly certainly falling into that category.
Tim Stakemire was the underbidder on the filly. He was first part of the dispersal of Endless and her progeny when back in May he signed for Endless at A$1.05 million on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum at the Patinack Farm Reduction Sale conducted by Magic Millions.
On Tuesday night her two-year-old Casino Prince filly was purchased by Tony Bott's E Thoroughbreds Pty. Ltd. for A$340,000 for a group of international investors.
It was announced during the session that the stallions Monaco Consul, Murtajill, Raheeb and Trusting were withdrawn from the sale.
It is believed that commercial discussions were underway concerning some of the seven Patinack Farm properties either as separate titles or as an overall package, and that the stallions might be part of the package. An international buyer who has already made exploratory investments in bloodstock in Australia is believed to be considering a larger investment in the country.
Magic Millions Managing Director Vin Cox said the final results of the dispersal exceeded his expectations.
"(Magic Millions co-owner Gerry Harvey) asked me a month ago, can the sale make A$30 million?' I said no," Cox recalled. "It has been a way, way stronger sale than we thought, and there are a few reasons for that, including that it is a genuine sale and people recognize that and have been prepared to get in and have a dig. This has been rewarding from our point of view."
Cox confirmed the interest in the four Patinack Farm properties, some with separate titles.
"We will just have to go through the process and see where it ends up," he said. "There are some pretty exciting people out there who are looking to establish in this part of the world, which is good from an industry point of view. We have got an industry that is extremely well-funded. The fundamentals are fantastic and our prize money is fantastic. We have had two breeding stock sales that have grossed A$140 million, which is astounding, so we are in good shape."
OCTOBER 1, 2014
by Ed DeRosa
The idea is that the database of information at dirt tracks where similar horses as the ones at Keeneland run will yield better clues about the outcome of Friday's races than would using Polytrack stats from the past eight years or dirt track information from before 2006.
The four tracks I chose are Belterra Park, Churchill Downs, Indiana Downs, and Saratoga Race Course. Belterra because -- like Keeneland -- it's a new track this year and the others because their range of class matches what we'll find at Keeneland.
There were no real surprises regarding what factors point out more winners relative to their odds: the best last-out Brisnet.com Speed Rating, Prime Power, and an ALL-Ways-exclusive figure called Comprehensive Rating are three strong indicators.
If armed with nothing but the Brisnet.com Ultimate Race Summary, I'd feel confident playing the top horses in either the Speed Rating or Prime Power categories at the right price, but ALL-WAYS takes things a step further and weighs these factors separately and against each other and handicaps the race accordingly with cardinal picks (e.g. who will win) as well as a fair odds line.
The ALL-WAYS report will not be my gospel when handicapping Keeneland opening weekend, but it will be a solid epistle to guide my thoughts. I'll certainly consult the Predicteform pace-adjusted performance figures with form-cycle analysis for positive (or negative) patterns, and Bruno With The Works will also help identify who's ready to fire (or not).
We'll be back later in the week with actual picks for the opening weekend cards, including direct looks at the ALL-Ways reports my dirt profile generates.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2014
A unique championship showdown
by Vance Hanson
Barring unforeseen developments, the three-year-old male championship will be decided in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on November 1.
The results of the 1 1/4-mile Classic have decided this Eclipse Award before. Think Sunday Silence over Easy Goer in 1989 and Tiznow over Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.
In 2007, three horses entered the Classic with legitimate championship credentials. Curlin prevailed in the Monmouth Park slop over Street Sense and Hard Spun that day.
The 2014 Classic has the potential to go one better with four (!) major contenders for the title: Bayern, California Chrome, Shared Belief, and Tonalist. And unlike the aforementioned runnings, there doesn't appear to be an older horse in sight capable of mucking up the outcome.
It will be a situation nearly all racing fans have never witnessed before. Unless, that is, you were around and consciously aware on November 9, 1957.
On that clear Saturday afternoon, a crowd of more than 39,000 descended on Garden State Park to watch Bold Ruler, *Gallant Man, and Round Table square off for the three-year-old title in the $82,350 Trenton Handicap over 1 1/4 miles. With leading older horse Dedicate withheld due to lameness and two unimportant older horses scratched due to the improbability of earning more than a modest fourth-place check, the deck was cleared for a three-horse showdown.
Bold Ruler entered the Trenton with eight stakes wins on the year, including the Preakness and two wins against older horses in the Vosburgh Handicap and Queens County Handicap. Gallant Man's five stakes wins included the Belmont and two scores against older rivals in the Nassau County Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup. The California-based Round Table was going for his 11th stakes win of the season and having beaten his elders in the Hollywood Gold Cup, United Nations Handicap and Hawthorne Gold Cup.
The three were hardly strangers. Bold Ruler had defeated Gallant Man twice early in the year, in the Bahamas and Wood Memorial, but subsequently finished behind that rival in the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, and Woodward. In the Kentucky Derby, Round Table finished ahead of Bold Ruler but behind Gallant Man, to whom he had also lost in the Hibiscus to start the year.
With Gallant Man holding a head-to-head lead over the other two, the 124-pound co-highweight was favored at 7-5. The betting market was tight, however, with Bold Ruler starting at 8-5 while toting 122 pounds, and co-highweight Round Table a tick higher at 17-10.
Unfortunately, there wasn't much drama to the Trenton. Contested over a track labeled good, Bold Ruler shot out to a clear lead and set sensible fractions of :23 3/5, :47 1/5, and 1:11 1/5. Up eight lengths after six furlongs and 3 1/2 lengths after a mile in 1:36 4/5, Bold Ruler "...willingly responded to hand pressure and, being occasionally 'shown' the whip through the final three-sixteenths, continued strongly to the end," according to the Daily Racing Form trackman.
Bold Ruler sealed the championship with a 2 1/4-length victory over Gallant Man in a time of 2:01 3/5. Round Table was 8 1/2 lengths farther back.
We can all hope the Breeders' Cup Classic won't prove to be such an anti-climax. Nearly five weeks out, however, it seems likely that Shared Belief will be a strong favorite, perhaps an odds-on choice.
The undefeated gelding, who missed the Triple Crown due to lingering foot issues, has reeled off consecutive wins in the Los Alamitos Derby, Pacific Classic, and Awesome Again. If he were to win the Breeders' Cup Classic, Shared Belief will have won more stakes open to older horses than any three-year-old male champion since Secretariat swept the Marlboro Cup, Man o' War and Canadian International in 1973. Only Buckpasser, Damascus, Arts and Letters, and Key to the Mint can lay claim to the same feat in the last half-century.
California Chrome, clearly ahead in the title chase after sweeping the first two legs of the Triple Crown, has seen his stock tumble in the past couple of months. Not only has Shared Belief's rise taken the shine off California Chrome, but his sub-par sixth in the Pennsylvania Derby suggests he will have to improve dramatically to win on Breeders' Cup day.
Bayern and Tonalist are longer shots but theoretically still in the hunt for the title. Bayern obviously had everything his own way in his blowout victories in the Haskell Invitational and Pennsylvania Derby, but who's to say the spirit of Bold Ruler will not shine brightly on Bayern as he tries to take them all the way over 10 furlongs? Remember, folks, this is Santa Anita.
Tonalist, who won the Belmont and Peter Pan in the spring, kept his championship hopes alive with an impressive tally in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. East Coast-based runners have historically found it difficult reproducing their best form in California, but Tonalist is a true 1 1/4-mile horse and is arguably going better at the moment than all save Shared Belief.
This race will be unique in the annals of American championship racing. No matter the outcome, savor it and enjoy.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2014
Horse of the Year Race Down To Eight
by Ed DeRosa
The criteria voters use to determine their top 10 horses is as subjective as the ranking themselves. Some vote on accomplishment, others based on who is the most talented, some as a pure "Horse of the Year" question, and most as some combination of those three things.
Poll administrator Joan Lawrence has said that the poll should most reflect the voter's thoughts on who is most likely to win Horse of the Year when the racing season ends. It is with that question in mind that I don't rank Palace Malice in the top 8, as while he's the best main track older male to run this year, he has no chance at Horse of the Year as the eight in front of him do.
So, with one major prep weekend remaining ahead of the Breeders' Cup World Championships on October 31-November 1 at Santa Anita Park, we are down to eight horses who still have a chance at winning the gold statue.
The horses who most control their own destiny are the four Grade 1-winning three-year-olds expected for the Breeders' Cup Classic. If either of Bayern, California Chrome, Shared Belief, or Tonalist win that race then with one small possible exception discussed below, would undoubtedly be Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old male.
Interestingly, it would also mark the first time in seven years that the Classic winner goes on to win Horse of the Year, and the last time it happened -- 2007 -- was in a Classic field most celebrated as a three-year-old showdown between Derby winner Street Sense, Preakness winner Curlin, and Hard Spun, who had just defeated Street Sense in the Kentucky Cup. Curlin won to earn the first of his two Horse of the Year awards.
Next on my list are the multiple Grade 1-winning turf males Main Sequence and Wise Dan. The former has the Grade 1 edge for now, but the latter is running this weekend. If either wins out and one of the aforementioned three-year-olds falters in the Classic then the Horse of the Year could go to the champion turf male for the third consecutive year.
Either Close Hatches or Untapable would gain some Horse of the Year consideration with a Distaff win (that assumes Close Hatches wins the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes on Sunday at Keeneland Race Course), but unless the winner returns to defeat males in a race like the Clark I wouldn't back them.
Palace Malice and Palace round out my top ten as leaders of the older male and sprint divisions, respectively, but neither is a Horse of the Year candidate.
Some kooky things can happen, of course… if none of the aforementioned horses wins, then California Chrome is probably the most likely Horse of the Year with three Grade 1 wins, including the classic double of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. I wouldn't vote for him, as he'd be lacking a win against older males, but precedence certainly favors dual classic winners as a default (e.g. Charismatic in 1999), so from a who-will-win versus who-should-win standpoint he'd be my pick.
The closest vote would likely be between a Classic-winning Bayern and a Mile-winning Wise Dan. I'd vote for Bayern if that's where their seasons end, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Wise Dan in the Clark where a win would likely earn him champion older male for sure and possibly Horse of the Year to go with champion turf male if he wins the Mile (though if Main Sequence wins the Turf then maybe he gets turf male and Wise Dan can get older male and Horse of the Year with a Clark win. It would be a shame to see a multiple Grade 1-winning Turf winner denied an Eclipse Award again a la Little Mike in 2012).
I see no scenario, however, where a Classic win from either of the classic winners (California Chrome and Tonalist) or the undefeated champion Shared Belief does not result in Horse of the Year even if Wise Dan goes on to annex another Grade 1 post Breeders' Cup.
Either Close Hatches or Untapable would be fun Clark additions if Horse of the Year is in play. Racing Hall of Fame Trainer D. Wayne Lukas saddled three-year-old filly Surfside to a Clark victory in 2000 following a loss to longshot stablemate Spain in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. That win wasn't good enough for gold, but she did win champion three-year-old filly.
Here's a look at the Eclipse Award races by division:
Three-year-old male: California Chrome is the leader of the division, but any of the other three Horse of the Year candidates would usurp him with a Breeders' Cup Classic win. Otherwise, California Chrome -- even if he tanks the rest of the year -- gets the nod as a dual classic winner.
Three-year-old filly: Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable unquestionably the leader, but Alabama winner Stopchargingmaria would be hard to deny the award if she wins the Breeders' Cup Distaff. I look at the year both of these horses have had and still can't believe Oaks-Alabama winner Flute lost champion three-year-old filly to Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up Xtra Heat.
Older male: Many horses with just the one Grade 1 win with Palace Malice best of the bunch, but the spring and early summer form has not held well, as three-year-olds have won the major late summer and early fall prizes.
Older female: Close Hatches in the driver's seat especially with a win on Sunday, but Beholder or Belle Galantey would deserve consideration with a Breeders' Cup Distaff win
Male sprinter: Likely to come down to the Breeders' Cup Sprint, but Palace leads the division on accomplishment.
Female sprinter: Likely to come down to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, but Artemis Agrotera has flashed the most brilliance to date.
Turf male: Down to Wise Dan and Main Sequence, a matchup reminiscent of 2012 when Wise Dan, Little Mike, and Point of Entry all came into the Breeders' Cup with multiple Grade 1 wins. Wise Dan won the Mile and Little Mike the Turf, and the Eclipse Awards went to Wise Dan. I expect the same to happen if Wise Dan threepeats—even if Main Sequence wins his fourth Grade 1 in the Turf.
Turf female: Euro Charline's Beverly D. is looking better and better with also rans going on to win Grade 1 races on both coasts, but only a QE2 win might not be enough to take down a Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner who already has a Grade 1.
OCTOBER 2, 2014
by John Mucciolo
A slew of graded action on Super Saturday led the way at Belmont Park.
Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1): Robert Evans' TONALIST (Tapit) was well back early, advanced while saving ground to the top of the lane, split horses in midstretch and drove clear to a 1 3/4-length score in this storied event. The Christophe Clement trainee went 1 1/4 miles on the fast main surface in 2:02 beneath a patient Joel Rosario.
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1): Flaxman Holdings' homebred MAIN SEQUENCE (Aldebaran) moved into contention in early stretch and gradually wore his foes down in posting a third straight Grade 1 win on U.S. soil. The five-year-old gelding from the barn of Graham Motion was a neck clear late in stopping the teletimer in 2:26 1/5 for 1 1/2 miles on the firm lawn under Rajiv Maragh.
Beldame S. (G1): Michael Dubb et al's BELLE GALLANTEY (After Market) took command soon after the break and never looked back in posting a facile 8 1/4-length romp beneath Jose Ortiz. The Rudy Rodriguez trainee stopped the teletimer in a sharp 1:47 2/5 for nine panels on the fast main oval.
Vosburgh S. (G1): Good Friends Stable's PRIVATE ZONE (Macho Uno) took the lead at the top of the lane and gamely held a game contender at bay throughout in earning a neck win for conditioner Alfredo Marquez. The five-year-old gelding defended his title in this race and completed six panels on the fast dirt in 1:08 4/5 with Martin Pedroza.
Flower Bowl S. (G1): Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred STEPHANIE'S KITTEN (Kitten's Joy) moved three wide approaching the turn for home and inched clear late in securing a 1 1/4-length victory under John Velazquez. The classy five-year-old endured 10 furlong on the firm lawn in 2:01 for conditioner Chad Brown.
Kelso H. (G2): Pick Six Racing's VYJACK (Into Mischief) went wide into the lane, got on even terms with the leader in midstretch and outfinished that rival late in posting a one-length victory for conditioner Rudy Rodriguez. The four-year-old gelding sped one mile on the fast main oval in 1:34 under the guidance of Irad Ortiz Jr.
Miss Grillo S. (G3): Sheep Pond Partners' LADY ELI (Divine Park) tracked in third, moved to the fore past midstretch and poured it on late en route to a three-length score for Brown. Piloted by Irad Ortiz, the juvenile lass finished 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf in 1:43 2/5.
Pilgrim S. (G3): Godolphin Racing's homebred IMPERIA (Medaglia d'Oro) tracked well of the pace early but showed a fine turn of foot late in posting a one-length tally beneath Javier Castellano. The maiden-breaking uvenile colt sped 1 1/16 miles on the firm lawn in a snappy 1:41 1/5 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
A total of 48 races were held at the Elmont, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 38 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 63 percent of the wins during the week. From 27 races on the main oval, seven animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (26 percent), while three of the 21 races on the lawn were taken all the way on the front (14 percent).
Thursday yielded a trio of wire-to-wire winners on the dirt, but racing during the week seemed to be fair to all kinds on the main oval. Early in the week it did seem that runners that were in the hunt early on were most successful, though we can't call it a bias.
For the second straight week, all three wire jobs on the turf came on the inner oval. Horses on the outer lawn running from off the pace still seem to have an edge of sorts.
HORSES TO WATCH
6TH -- WRITINGONTHEWALL (E Dubai) led early, was overtaken approaching the final turn and into the lane, and came back like the veteran that he is to post a game tally. The nine-year-old gelding has plenty left at this stage of his lifetime and should never be taken for granted.
7TH -- We mentioned BIO PRO (War Front) in the past and we come back to this talented turf runner, who went last-to-first in a flash in posting a daylight 3 3/4-length romp under John Velazquez. The six-year-old California import has really turned into a solid performer for Bill Mott and could be stakes bound in his return.
8TH -- ZINDAYA (More Than Ready) also returns to this list after a fine showing on this day, taking over in midstretch and striding home a clear winner under Jose Lezcano. The sophomore filly is a good one for Christophe Clement and could try stakes foes in the very near future.
5TH -- OVERTHESPEEDLIMIT (Wagon Limit) did everything right but graduate in a fine debut run and the Tony Dutrow trainee should be ultra-tough in her comeback outing. Tab this one to graduate before long.
4TH -- We're not sure why ENERGY SPIRIT (Medaglia d'Oro) was sent off at 26-1 odds for Todd Pletcher and Velazquez, but the first-time starter looked more like an odds-on choice following this superb debut tally. The sophomore gelding proved tons the best late and could be any kind going forward.
6TH -- LISMORE (Tiznow) was stuck behind a very tepid early pace but still put in a fine late run to be second in this debut offering for conditioner George Weaver. The juvenile filly will be very tough in her subsequent outing with even slight improvement.
7TH -- We're not sure what LIAM'S MAP (Unbridled's Song) defeated in this one, but the Pletcher pupil did it the right way in coming home fast in a thoroughly dominant performance under Velazquez. The late-blooming sophomore could surely evolve into a nice one with expected improvement.
1ST -- TRADESMAN (Street Sense) got off very slowly, was well back after the opening half-mile, yet still put in a big late run to be a nice second for a conditioner who rarely wins first time out of the box. The well-bet juvenile colt lost to a nice winner who could have a bright future, and this one will be especially tough next time with a reasonable break from the gate.
10TH -- ZIVO (True Direction) was basically pulled up on the backstretch after Wicked Strong dumped pilot Rajiv Maragh, but the New York-bred got back into the race and still finished well in finishing a clear second in a most brave showing. The Brown trainee loves Belmont, and he was a bit unlucky not to have won this race or made it a whole lot closer late.
2ND -- Pletcher's OSTROLENKA (Musket Man) might have defeated a mostly average field but did so the right way for sure, blowing this field away in the lane by 14 1/2 lengths under a geared-down Velazquez. The Empire State-bred juvenile surely has a decent future cut out for him.
9TH -- IMPERIA is out of one of our favorites of all time and seems to have a ton of ability -- we'll be rooting for this colt every time he runs. It's worth noting that this youngster got his final five-sixteenths in a wicked :28.
A Look Ahead
Saturday will play host to a trio of graded races. The Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne Stakes, Grade 1, $500,000 Frizette Stakes and the Grade 2, $500,000 Hill Prince Stakes, will lead the way.
The Sunday card will be led by the Grade 2, $200,000 Futurity Stakes and the Grade 2, $200,000 Matron Stakes.
Click here for the monthly October Calendar
At a Glance
AT A GLANCE SCHEDULE
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