Got Lucky romps in Molly Pitcher
Got Lucky earned her first stakes victory in this spot, adding it to a 13-4-5-0 resume that also includes placings in the Demoiselle S. (G2), Gazelle S. (G2), Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) and the aforementioned Monmouth Beach S. Thus far the Kentucky-bred miss has banked $451,340 lifetime.
"I knew Stiffed would be coming to the outside again," Lopez said. "This time the pace was a little easier for us. We were able to sit comfortably just off the pace along the backstretch. She wanted to go a little early, but I had to hold her back. Once we were in the clear I let her go, she sprinted away perfectly."
Got Lucky is the only registered stakes winner out of Malka (Deputy Minister), who is herself out of Grade 2-placed stakes winner Get Lucky (Mr. Prospector).
Malka counts among her half-siblings Grade 1-winning sire Girolamo (A.P. Indy) and Grade 2 queen Daydreaming (A.P. Indy) as well as the dams of 2010 Kentucky Derby (G1) hero Super Saver (Maria's Mon) and Grade 1-winning millionaire Bluegrass Cat (Storm Cat). Daydreaming is herself the dam of Grade 1-scoring millionaire Imagining (Giant's Causeway).
Got Lucky's third dam is Grade 1 vixen Dance Number (Northern Dancer), who would go on in the breeding shed to produce champion Rhythm, a full brother to Get Lucky. Her fourth dam is champion and blue-hen mare Numbered Account (Buckpasser), and this stellar female family also includes dual Grade 1 victor and leading sire Private Account (Damascus) as well as Group 2-placed listed winner and sire Mutakddim (Seeking the Gold).
Quartet of competitive stakes on Queen's Plate undercard
Mosler (War Front) also comes out of the Jaipur, where he was sixth after having to alter course around the ill-fated Helwan. Considering that the $1.05 million Keeneland September yearling had previously landed the seven-furlong Elusive Quality at Belmont, the Bill Mott pupil could find the stiffer six furlongs at Woodbine more to his taste.
Wesley Ward sends out the other distaffer in the Highlander, Shrinking Violet (Congaree), who will carry 118 pounds owing to her victory in the January 4 Monrovia (G2) at Santa Anita. The five-year-old mare has run just once in the interim, rallying for a dead-heat third in the May 16 The Very One at Pimlico. Shrinking Violet was unplaced in her only prior stakes attempt versus males in the 2014 Shakertown, but her subsequent eight-month holiday suggests that wasn't a true bill.
Sharp Sensation (Sharp Humor), who upset Maryland icon Ben's Cat (Parker's Storm Cat) in last September's Turf Monster (G3), has not raced since his second in the November 23 Kennedy Road (Can-G2) on the local Polytrack. Rounding out the field is Reflector (Ready's Image), the winner of two straight in Louisiana, who has since returned to Pavel Matejka ahead of his Woodbine debut.
Mark Frostad has cross-entered Habibi to the 1 1/2-mile Singspiel versus males, where she would face Casse's Canadian turf champion Dynamic Sky (Sky Mesa) and Hyper (Victory Gallop) from the Brown barn.
Dynamic Sky earned a divisional Sovereign Award largely on the strength of his placings behind Euro shippers in last fall's Northern Dancer Turf (Can-G1) and Canadian International (Can-G1) at this course and distance. Out of luck since capturing the November 15 Red Smith (G3), the John C. Oxley runner cuts back in trip off a third in the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup Invitational June 5.
Also exiting the Victoria is fourth-placer Get'erdonebud (Kentucky Bear), who likewise captured his debut convincingly on the Polytrack and figures to enjoy reverting to his original surface. Hey Bear (Kentucky Bear) and Bright Light (Judiths Wild Rush) were first and second, respectively, in a June 17 maiden over the track. The remaining five entrants are all first-time starters.
Conquest Curlinate retired with sesamoid injury
"We had no information that was medically documented at the draw time other than what Mark said, which was that Conquest Curlinate had incurred a minor freak training injury that forced us to withdraw him from the Plate competition.
"Later in the morning Dr. Bob examined him again and viewed the X-rays that were taken, he then consulted with those who we feel are the top people in the world in their field and to our heartbreaking dismay we learned that this in fact was a very complicated sesamoid injury, which unfortunately will retire our young maturing star. I've been quite emotional on this issue and how it occurred but I will save that for a complete post on my thoughts... This for me is a time for numbing sadness and unfortunately some very deeply felt opinions.
"This is in no way was a fault of Mark, or anyone at Casse Racing. They are traumatized, as they love the horses as we all do.
"My intent from the start has been to bring transparency to this sport to make it better... You have all been very, very supportive and have my most sincere thanks... You are our team and we love you all.
"In time I will thoroughly elaborate on how I think this tragedy could have easily been avoided. I feel the terrific people at Woodbine are where I will start my quest. I hope that, as always, you all will send me your feedback on whether you agree with my assessments. I know I will have an open ear at Woodbine, they are very progressive with terrific management!
"To repeat, Conquest Curlinate will be retired. We would never ever risk the chance of this being beyond uncomfortable for him. He is surrounded by love and we have had a few calls already about him creating some majestic babies. Mark will make that decision but I'm certain with the immediate interest that he will have a very pleasant retirement. This is understandably heartbreaking and as I give all of our fans, who we consider to be part of our team, more info I think you may also share in my frustration.
"On a positive note, just a reminder... We do have another incredibly gifted horse entered in the Queen's Plate... Conquest Boogaloo (Scat Daddy)... who is Mr. Barker's pick to win as well as many of our other fans and analysts. Just as numbers exercise I had one of my PHD Cray operators run through the hard numbers... Basic rate of change, linear acceleration, furlong speeds, closing speeds and many other variables... And of all the entrants only one came out on top. I would not ever sell a Conquest horse short... I don't gamble but I do love to perform the best we can for you. Let's hope Boogaloo busts a few moves out there Sunday with his ace rider and buddy Alan Garcia.
"Our very best,
Ernie, Dory and Team Conquest."
Bred by Charles Hayden in Ontario, Conquest Curlinate went to Conquest for $70,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. The handsome gray broke his maiden January 31 at Oaklawn in his second start, but two-turn debut. After a third in an allowance over the same track and 1 1/16-mile trip February 19, Conquest Curlinate advanced into stakes company and turned in his three consecutive runner-up efforts. He compiled a record of 6-1-3-1, $188,490.
Conquest Curlinate was produced by Canadian Grade 2 victress Higher World (Peaks and Valleys), who is also responsible for Grade 3-placed Tapit's World (Tapit).
Golden Horn looks to Eclipse four older rivals at Sandown
With just four older horses lining up to test his mettle in what has long been known as the "first clash of the generations" in Saturday's Eclipse S. (Eng-G1) at Sandown, the path is clear for Golden Horn (Cape Cross) to extend his autocracy into the wider sphere.
A week after the dominating display of his stable companion Jack Hobbs (Halling) in an Irish Derby (Ire-G1) that only served to confirm the gravity of the latest renewal of Epsom's blue riband, Anthony Oppenheimer's bay has that unbeatable aura around him as he lines up in Esher's prize contest. With that barn mate 3 1/2 lengths behind in the June 6 classic and the Irish Derby second and third Storm the Stars (Sea the Stars) and Giovanni Canaletto (Galileo) much further adrift, there is no denying that he sets a lofty standard, especially as he enjoys an 11-pound weight-for-age pull with this trio of four-year-olds and one seven-year-old. Trainer John Gosden is taking nothing for granted, however.
"I think the odds are a little bit unusual and I don't think they're representative of the chances the other horses have," he said. "I've no illusions about it. It's a mile and a quarter on a track that can favor front-runners and against older horses. I've bags of respect for those horses and nothing is a given. Any horse can get beaten, it happened to Nijinsky, Kingman in the Guineas; I'm never going to let that worry me."
Despite his caution, Gosden is happy with how the homebred is coming into this challenge.
"He has a good constitution -- his favorite two occupations are eating and sleeping," the conditioner added. "There's no harm in that. He's quite relaxed and quite lazy sometimes in his work. He's lazy in his races sometimes as well, but he's a grand horse."
Anthony Oppenheimer is another who is not treating the race as a penalty kick and added, "I believe he is developing and I believe he's going extremely well, so I think it's going to be a fantastic race. When you get only four or five runners then it's completely tactical, but it could be one of the most exciting races you'll see all year. It's anybody's race. The betting is mad. They should all be almost the same price."
As for future targets for the star sophomore, Oppenheimer added, "The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. ([Eng-G1] at Ascot July 25) is certainly on the agenda. We haven't got to the bottom of him, so I'll be disappointed if he doesn't run in the King George."
Best of his rivals on form is The Grey Gatsby (Mastercraftsman), who has been in the position of being the under-rated underdog before and he arguably upset as heavyweight a Derby winner as Golden Horn in September when getting the better of Australia in the Irish Champion S. (Ire-G1) at Leopardstown. Last year's Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-G1) hero has failed to set the world alight so far in 2015, with a second to Solow (Singspiel) in the Dubai Turf (UAE-G1) at Meydan March 28 followed by a below-par fourth in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Ire-G1) at The Curragh May 24.
Back to something like his best fitted with first-time cheekpieces when a seemingly unlucky second to Free Eagle (High Chaparral) in Royal Ascot's Prince of Wales's S. (Eng-G1) June 17, Frank Gillespie's colt holds Sandown specialist Western Hymn (High Chaparral) on that form.
Trainer Kevin Ryan's son Adam Ryan commented, "The Grey Gatsby has come out of Royal Ascot fantastically well -- he was bucking and squealing the very next day. He has his own idiosyncrasies, but the course at Sandown should not be a problem. He's such a fluid mover that he's at his best on good ground; soft ground blunts his turn of foot. The quicker the better for him.
"It's going to be very hard work for him trying to give 11 pounds to Golden Horn, who looked very special in the Dante and even better in the Derby. To do that in any sort of race is tough enough, but to do that in a Group 1 against a horse that looks fairly special is a tough ask and it will probably take a career-best effort to beat him."
Golden Horn's stable companion Western Hymn is unbeaten over this track and trip, with his three visits yielding wins in the Classic Trial (Eng-G3) last April, the Gordon Richards S. (Eng-G3) April 24 and Brigadier Gerard S. (Eng-G3) May 28 prior to his third at the Royal meeting. He proved on the last two occasions that he handles quicker ground, but would hold stronger claims if this was staged on his favored soft.
"He clearly likes Sandown and he's in good form," Gosden said. "He could probably have done with the thunderstorms that were forecast, but failed to materialize. He has won on good-to-firm, but easier ground might have inconvenienced others more than him."
Cougar Mountain (Fastnet Rock) remains relatively unexposed from Ballydoyle and made a significant jump forward when a staying-on third in the Queen Anne S. (Eng-G1) over a mile at Royal Ascot June 16. Thought speedy enough to contest the Nunthorpe S. (Eng-G1) over five furlongs at York in August after finishing a close-up fifth in the July Cup (Eng-G1) on only his second start at Newmarket a month previously, the bay is an intriguing contender upped to this trip for the first time.
Saturday's Lancashire Oaks (Eng-G2) at Haydock lacks an obvious star turn, as it has done in recent times, but it remains a marker of prestige for the winner and the line-up looks as competitive as it is wide-open.
One of the most improved mares in Britain so far in 2015 is Miss Marjurie (Marju), who is on a three-timer after smooth wins in the Daisy Warwick S. at Goodwood May 2 and Pinnacle S. (Eng-G3) over this track and 1 1/2-mile trip four weeks later. On the latter occasion, she had the unlucky Lady Tiana (Sir Percy) back in third and it will be interesting to see how they fare with clear runs this time.
Miss Marjurie's conditioner, Denis Coakley, is hoping the best horse he has trained can bring his small stable even further into the limelight.
"We always knew she was a good filly and she didn't get luck-in-running last year, so we're not surprised by what she's done," he explained. "She should run as well as she ran at Haydock last time -- if that's good enough, we'll have to wait and see."
Lady Tiana's trainer Lucy Wadham is looking forward to the rematch.
"I don't think it looks any stronger a race and I think we were very unlucky last time," she said. "She got no run but was third under a very tender ride and of course we've now had the rain so we go there feeling pretty optimistic. She was pretty fit last time and didn't really have the opportunity to have a race. She's fresh and well and ready to go."
William Haggas-trained Wonderstruck (Sea the Stars) to split that pair in the Pinnacle and puts forward a duo this time in Queen of Ice (Selkirk) and Arabian Comet (Dubawi). First and second, respectively, when a nose separated them in the Galtres S. at this distance at York last August, the latter was an eye-catching third after a troubled trip in the Daisy Warwick on her return and has the scope to progress into a leading middle-distance performer this term.
American Pharoah headed to Haskell
"The horse comes first and we intend to run him as many times this year as he tells us he can," Zayat stated. "The hope is that he does in the Haskell what he loves to do, and that is winning."
Main Sequence returns to defend United Nations title
"He is a very professional horse and is always straightforward," Motion said. "He's had no problems since coming back from Dubai.
"Both workouts have looked good. I could've ran him a few weeks ago, but wanted to put him in the best spot possible."
Regular rider Rajiv Maragh will be back aboard as Main Sequence breaks from post 6 in this 1 3/8-mile "Win & You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Turf. Should he repeat, Main Sequence would join an honor roll of two-time UN winners including Round Table (1957, 1959), Mongo (1962-63), Noble Dancer (1978-79), Manila (1986-87), Sandpit (1995-96), English Channel (2006-07) and Presious Passion (2008-09).
Since getting away from Main Sequence, turf veterans Twilight Eclipse and Imagining have had mixed results. Imagining left Twilight Eclipse back in third when taking the March 28 Pan American (G2), but was only fifth to that same rival in the May 9 Man o' War (G1). Twilight Eclipse scored a deserved Grade 1 breakthrough on that occasion, only to retreat to seventh last time in the Manhattan.
Ashleyluvssugar, in contrast, is an upwardly mobile four-year-old. Improved markedly since stretching out on the Santa Anita turf, the Peter Eurton trainee brings a three-race win skein including the March 21 San Luis Rey (G2) and May 24 Charles Whittingham (G2). This represents a much stiffer class test, but his gaudy 108 BRIS Speed figure from the San Luis Rey suggests that he could be up to it. Hall of Famer Gary Stevens comes in to maintain the partnership.
Rounding out the field are the Todd Pletcher-trained Divine Oath (Broken Vow), who's got a bit to find on form with these; Sycamore Lane (Artie Schiller), who makes an audacious stakes debut off a pair of allowance wins for Hall of Famer Bill Mott; and recent Ramsey claim Shining Copper (Aragorn), who has the look of a pacemaker for Big Blue Kitten.
Summit of Speed boasts Work All Week, competitive fields
"We weren't looking for him to work that fast, but he did it all on his own," Richard Papiese said. "We hope it's an indication that he is going to run a big race this weekend."
Also of note in the Smile Sprint is Alsvid (Officer), who defeated Work All Week when taking the Aristides by two lengths. The Chris Hartman-trained gelding brings a three-race win streak into the event after taking an allowance/optional claimer in March prior to a three-quarter length score in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) about two weeks later.
Chris Landeros has been aboard for Alsvid's current win streak and retains the mount.
Grande Shores will be competing over his home track in the Smile Sprint, having recorded 13 in-the-money finishes from 16 career tries at Gulfstream. The seven-year-old Jacks or Better homebred seemingly has gotten better with age after his career had been compromised by a chronic digestive disorder that is under control but still demands constant monitoring.
"I know he's going to run his heart out," trainer Stanley Gold said. "There's going to be plenty of speed in it and he'll be coming. I'd rather see it be seven (furlongs) instead of six. He's going to have to be coming faster and start sooner. He's earned the shot. You hate to possibly get overmatched, but I can't say he is overmatched."
Eddie Castro, who rode Grande Shores to a three-quarter length victory in the Parrot Key S. last out, has the call.
"She's always held her form," the conditioner added. "She's never really ever needed any one set track. She's traveled well and run on all kinds of surfaces. She's always been a pretty consistent runner. We were able to give her a little breather after (the Inside Information), and she's always run well fresh."
Earlier on the Summit of Speed program, 10 sophomore colts and geldings will go seven furlongs in the $150,000 Carry Back S. (G3) while nine three-year-old fillies take part in the $150,000 Azalea S. (G3) at the same distance.
Barbados (Speightstown) enters the Carry Back off a more than five-money break, having last been seen recording his third straight win in the Hutcheson S. (G3) over track and distance. The Azalea features the respective top three -- Huasca (Tiz Wonderful), Dogwood Trail (Awescome of Course) and Fond of Sarah (With Distinction) -- from the track and distance Tangelo H. on June 6, as well as Jostle S. vixen Warriorscmoutoplay (Warrior's Reward).
Five other stakes are carded for the day as well. Eight juveniles have been entered in the $75,000 Birdonthewire S. going 5 1/2 furlongs to kick off the stakes action, followed one race later by the fillies equivalent, the $75,000 Cassidy S., which drew nine runners.
The $75,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint attracted a field of nine to go five furlongs on the turf, while the $75,000 Miesque's Approval S. and sister race $75,000 Spook Express S. will each send contestants 1 1/16 miles on the green. The former will see 10 line up while the Spook Express boasts 15, including one main-track only entrant.
Danish Dynaformer aims to give Attfield record ninth Queen's Plate
"He's a really nice horse, no question about it," Attfield said. "He's got a big turn of foot and a huge cruising speed. He's a very versatile horse."
Attfield is currently tied with Harry Giddings Jr. for most Plate wins. His previous winners were Not Bourbon (for Fipke) in 2008, Regal Discovery (1995), Peteski (1993), Alydeed (1992), Izvestia (1990), With Approval (1989), Market Control (1987) and Norcliffe (1976). Peteski, Izvestia and With Approval all went on to win the Canadian Triple Crown.
Danish Dynaformer will be ridden by Patrick Husbands for the first time, since Luis Contreras, aboard for the Trial, was previously committed to Ami's Flatter (Flatter). Husbands has won the Plate twice, in 2003 with eventual Triple Crown winner Wando, then last year with filly Lexie Lou (Sligo Bay). The last jockey to win back-to-back Plates was Eurico Rosa da Silva in 2009-10, with Eye of the Leopard and Big Red Mike, respectively.
Billy's Star (15-1), with the aforementioned Rosa da Silva, currently Woodbine's leading rider aboard, finished a troubled sixth in the Trial, yet only five lengths behind his stablemate, after breaking his maiden in May at Woodbine over 1 1/16 miles. Also bred by Fipke but now owned by Perfect Timber Partnership, he was a $161,177 Canadian Select yearling purchase.
Bear Stables' Academic (5-1), with Justin Stein aboard, scored a 66-1 shocker three weeks ago when wiring her rivals in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks. It was just the second start of the year for the filly. Her 1 1/8-mile time of 1.48.86 was a track record and almost one second faster than it took Danish Dynaformer to win the Trial a race before. Her connections drew the first post selection and picked post 4.
Academic, the field's leading money winner with $293,141 after being bought for $54,000 at the Ocala Two-Year-Olds In training Sale, will try to become the 36th filly to win the Plate since 1860, the eighth since 1956 and the seventh to sweep both the Oaks and the Plate, joining Flaming Page (1962), La Lorgnette (1985), Dance Smartly (1991), Dancethruthedawn (2001), Inglorious (2011) and Lexie Lou (2014).
Stein rode Strait of Dover to victory in the 2012 Plate, while Bear Stables and trainer Reade Baker, who will also saddle Bear At Last (Marchfield) and Breaking Lucky (Lookin at Lucky), finished third last year with Asserting Bear.
Breaking Lucky (20-1), owned by Gunpowder Farms, broke his maiden at Woodbine in April, then was second and seventh in two subsequent route allowance races. The son of 2010 Preakness (G1) winner Lookin At Lucky will be ridden by Jim McAleney, who has twice finished second in the Plate, aboard I And I in 2000 and Anglian Prince in 2002. Bear Stables' Bear At Last (30-1), a one-time winner in 11 outings to be ridden by Rico Walcott, was most recently seventh in the Plate Trial.
Conquest Boogaloo (8-1), a $190,000 Keeneland yearling buy, finished a closing troubled third in the Plate Trial, just two lengths behind Danish Dynaformer. He also encountered a difficult trip in the Marine, when eighth to Shaman Ghost. He's won two of seven, including last year's Swynford S., and will be handled by Alan Garcia. Oakton (20-1), a one-time winner in six starts, will be ridden for the first time by Tyler Pizarro, who finished second for Casse in the 2011 Plate aboard Hippolytus.
Chiefswood Stable's homebred Portree (Niigon) (12-1), trained by Stuart Simon and ridden by Gerry Olguin, finished an excellent fourth in the Plate Trial, just 2 1/2 lengths behind winner Danish Dynaformer, after leading in midstretch. It was just his third career start after winning his first two outings earlier this year. He'll try to become the eighth Plate winner since 1956 to be sired/foaled by a Plate winner. Chiefswood won the 2004 Plate with their homebred Niigon.
Trainer Mike Keogh will send out Gus Schickedanz's homebred Sweet Grass Creek (Wando) (20-1), a one-time winner in five starts. Keogh and Schickedanz teamed to win the 1999 Plate with Woodcarver, then captured the Triple Crown with Hall of Famer Wando in 2003. Jesse Campbell, who took the 2013 Plate aboard front-running Midnight Aria, has the mount.
Of the 14 starters in this year's Plate, 12 have connections (owner, trainer and/or jockey) who have previously won the Plate. Four horses in the field - Breaking Lucky, Milwaukee Mist, Oakton and Portree -- did not start at two. Eye of the Leopard (2009), Scatter The Gold (2000) and Awesome Again (1997) are the latest Plate winners who did not race as two-year-olds.
The Queen's Plate is the first leg in the Canadian Triple Crown. The second leg is the C$500,000 Prince of Wales S., at 1 3/16 miles on Tuesday, July 28, at Fort Erie, while the C$500,000 Breeders' S., at 1 1/2 miles on the grass, August 16 at Woodbine, comprises the third and final leg. There have been seven Triple Crown winners since the concept was inaugurated in 1959, the first being New Providence in 1959, the latest being Wando in 2003.
Since 1956, the stakes record for the Plate is 2:01 4/5, set by Izvestia in 1990, when he also won by the largest margin, 13 lengths. Strait of Dover, the 2012 winner, owns the fastest Polytrack time since 2007 of 2:01.99. The longest-priced winner in the modern era (since 1956) is T J's Lucky Moon ($166) in 2002 while Maternal Pride is the highest-priced winner of all time, paying $193.35 in 1924. Since 1956, favorites have won 22 of 59 runnings (37.2 percent). However, Wando in 2003, and Eye of the Leopard in 2009, are the only Plate favorites to win in the last 20 editions.
Three other stakes, all of them on the grass, will be part of the Queen's Plate Day undercard -- the C$200,000 Dance Smartly (Can-G2), at 1 1/8 miles at 3:02 p.m., the C$150,000 Singspiel (Can-G3) at 1 1/2 miles at 4:18 p.m. and the C$200,000 Highlander (Can-G2) at six furlongs at 4:53 p.m. First race post time is noon.
Belmont Oaks comes up tough for Lady Eli
The dark bay miss enters the Belmont Oaks Invitational off a half-length score in the nine-furlong Wonder Again S. at Belmont and will be trying 10 furlongs for the first time. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has been aboard for all of Lady Eli's starts and retains the mount on Saturday.
Completing the Belmont Oaks Invitational field are Lady Zuzu (Dynaformer), who just missed by a head in the Regret S. (G3) most recently at Churchill Downs, and last-out allowance scorers Sentiero Italia (Medaglia d'Oro) and Daring Duchess (Arch), who are both making their stakes debuts in the race.
Bolo brings turf game to Belmont Derby
Rafael Bejarano retains the mount in the nine-horse field.
Closing Bell (Tapit), a last-out maiden winner for Bill Mott, rounds out the U.S. contingent.
Canndal (Medicean), Group 2-placed in France, and Irish stakes winner Postulation (Harlan's Holiday) are international raiders for trainer Mikel Delzangles and Dermot Weld, respectively. And based on BRIS Class ratings, both colts merit serious respect on Saturday. Regular riders Christophe Soumillon (Canndal) and Patrick Smullen (Postulation) have also made the overseas journey.
Tonalist, Texas Red, Private Zone top Belmont dirt stakes
Tonalist, who will race without blinkers for the first time this season, will face five others in the 1 1/4-mile test. Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle the uncoupled pair of Coach Inge (Big Brown), who took the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn (G2) by a neck in his stakes debut, and the classic-placed Mylute (Midnight Lute), who won first out for the trainer in a one-mile allowance May 29. Coach Inge could be the controlling speed in the Suburban.
Effinex (Mineshaft) was a game winner of the Excelsior (G3) at Aqueduct in April, but was pulled up in the June 6 Brooklyn after getting out on both turns of the one-lap event around Belmont's oval. Street Babe (Street Sense), unplaced twice since taking the Mineshaft H. (G3) at Fair Grounds in only his third career start, might show speed from post 1, while Brooklyn fifth-place finisher Neck 'n Neck (Flower Alley) seeks his first win since the Ack Ack H. (G3) at Churchill Downs in October 2012.
The $500,000 Dwyer (G3), a one-mile event for three-year-olds, marks the return to action of Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Texas Red (Afleet Alex), who was sidelined with foot problems following a second-place effort in the February 1 San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita and missed the classics.
Private Zone (Macho Uno), a two-time winner of the Vosburgh (G1) as well as last year's Cigar Mile (G1), shortens up to seven furlongs for the $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship (G3). Third last out in the Met Mile, the Jorge Navarro charge was narrowly beat by Honor Code in the Gulfstream Park H. (G2) over a mile in his season debut before taking the seven-furlong Churchill Downs (G2) by more than four lengths.
Among his primary rivals are 2014 Belmont Sprint Championship winner Clearly Now (Horse Greeley), unplaced in three of four subsequent outings; last year's King's Bishop (G1) hero The Big Beast (Yes It's True), fourth in the Carter H. (G1) when last seen in April; and the stakes-winning Stallwalkin' Dude (City Place), runner-up in the True North (G2) and Donald LeVine Memorial last month.
The Grade 3-winning Texas-bred Promise Me Silver (Silver City), who saw her perfect eight-for-eight record end with a 10th-place finish in last month's Acorn (G1), hopes to get back on the winning track in the $150,000 Victory Ride (G3), a 6 1/2-furlong dash for three-year-old fillies.
Multiple stakes winner Enchanting Lady (Tale of the Cat), runner-up in the $150,000 Jersey Girl June 5, figures to attract support as will Beaumont S. (G2) vixen Miss Ella (Exchange Rate) and Miss Preakness (G3) winner Irish Jasper (First Defence).
Gimme Da Lute, Kentuckian highlight five-horse Los Alamitos Derby
Kentuckian won his career debut by 11 lengths at Golden Gate Fields in early March and after finishing third as the odds-on favorite in the San Pedro at Santa Anita a month later, the $610,000 yearling purchase strode to an impressive 6 1/4-length tally in the seven-furlong Laz Barrerra. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained gray colt will make his two-turn debut and return from a 55-day layoff with Mike Smith.
After a fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Prospect Park was being readied for a Kentucky Derby (G1) bid before an illness derailed those plans. He was redirected to the June 7 Affirmed, finishing second as the 3-5 choice, and the dark bay colt is eligible to show more Saturday for Cliff Sise Jr. Tyler Baze picks up the mount.
Runner-up in the Pat Day Mile two back, Pain and Misery (Bob and John) returns to graded company after a wire-to-wire victory in the June 6 Charles Taylor Derby at Albuquerque. Flavien Prat rides the likely front-runner. Rounding out the field is Follow Me Crev (Quality Road), who was claimed for $50,000 from a third-place effort last time and will make his stakes debut for new trainer Vladimir Cerin.
Coffee Clique, Testa Rossi headline Penny Memorial
Others likely to attract support are the multiple Grade 3-placed Photo Call (Galileo), who was cross-entered to the $100,000 Perfect Sting at Belmont on Friday; Baffle Me (First Samurai), who has won multiple stakes at Gulfstream and Belmont in recent seasons; and Distorted Beauty (Invasor), who's placed in the Pebbles and Intercontinental at Belmont.
Force (Flatter) provided a 13-1 upset in Friday's $160,750 New York Derby at Finger Lakes when driving to a two-length score under jockey John Davila Jr. The dark bay colt, trained by Mark Casse for John C. Oxley, saved ground on the rail before easing out and powering home to finish 1 1/16 miles over the fast track in 1:45 2/5. "He ran against older at Churchill and he has been training really well," Casse said. "He seems to be getting better." Force was making his stakes bow in this spot and now boasts an 8-2-0-2, $147,850, career mark. Mike Lee S. victor Ostrolenka (Musket Man), the 3-5 favorite ridden by John Velazquez, finished well back in fifth. Earlier on Finger Lakes' Friday program, Velazquez hit pay dirt when piloting Mark H. Stanley's Temper Mint Patty (Congrats) to a romping 9 1/4-length score in the $75,000 New York Oaks. The dark bay miss was the prohibitive 1-9 favorite and ran 8 1/2 furlongs on the fast dirt in 1:46 in just her second start for new trainer Jeremiah Englehart. Temper Mint Patty began her career with Dale Romans, for whom she captured the Joseph A. Gimma S. while placing in the Herecomesthebride S. and Maid of the Mist S. She finished third in the Bouwerie S. last out for Englehart, and has now improved her scorecard to read 9-3-1-2, $274,050...
Last seen capturing the My Charmer H. (G3) in November, Daring Kathy (Wildcat Heir) extended her win streak to three while returning off a 223-day layoff in Friday's $100,000 Perfect Sting at Belmont Park, holding gamely to post a nose decision over the fast-closing Marbre Rose (Smart Strike). Javier Castellano was up on the front-running four-year-old filly, who completed a mile in 1:33 4/5 on the firm turf, and the Florida-bred Daring Kathy was making her first start since being transferred to Chad Brown. Now a five-time stakes heroine, the bay lass registered her first victory outside of Gulfstream Park and improved her overall record to 10-7-0-2, $393,825...
Grade 1 hero Here Comes Ben (Street Cry) saw his first winner as a sire on Thursday when his juvenile daughter Here Comes Gwen captured the 3RD race at Prairie Meadows by 2 3/4 lengths. Sent off the 4-5 favorite under Kelsi Purcell, the Bill Stivers colorbearer was the 4-5 favorite and completed five furlongs on the fast dirt in 1:00 4/5 for trainer Brian Stivers. Here Comes Ben had his best year in 2010, scoring in his first four starts including the Forego S. (G1) before closing out the season with an unplaced run in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1). The dark bay also recorded back-to-back victories in the Kelly's Landing S. for trainer Charles LoPresti, and retired to McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 2012 with a 17-7-1-3, $410,764, resume. Here Comes Ben is the only registered stakes winner out of Chasetheragingwind (Dayjur) and counts as his second dam Grade 1 queen Race the Wild Wind (Sunny's Halo), who also produced Group 1-scoring sire King Charlemagne (Nureyev), Group 3-winning stallion Meshaheer (Nureyev) and the dam of Grade 1 victors Albertus Maximus (Albert the Great) and Daredevil (More Than Ready). Here Comes Ben still stands at McMahon and goes for a stands and nurses, live foal fee of $7,500...
Laurel was forced to cancel its opening-day summer program Friday due to a water main break in Anne Arundel County affecting 40,000 homes and businesses. The county said repairs would take at least 12 hours. With no running water, Laurel was closed for live racing and simulcast wagering. "Obviously, we're extremely disappointed that we won't be able to run our opening day program and our first twilight program of the summer," Maryland Jockey Club President and General Manager Sal Sinatra said. "We were looking forward to a big day, a great crowd, and the start of an exciting summer program, but our first priority is the safety and health of our horses and our fans. Right now, we're cautiously optimistic that we will be able to run our Saturday and Sunday programs." Post time Saturday is 1:30 p.m. (EDT)...
Multiple stakes queen White Rose (Tapit), a closing fifth most recently in the New York (G2), has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite in Sunday's $100,000 River Memories at Belmont Park. Junior Alvarado rides the Bill Mott-trained mare. Sheepshead Bay (G2) runner-up Maxomova (Danehill Dancer) is among the seven distaffers that will cover 1 1/2 miles on the Widener Turf course and Manny Franco will be up for Christophe Clement. Goldy Espony (Vespone) merits consideration for trainer Chad Brown following a comfortable victory over allowance/optional claiming foes on May 8 and picks up the services of Kendrick Carmouche...
For many who are still celebrating American Pharoah's (Pioneerof the Nile) Triple Crown sweep, jockey Victor Espinoza will be the biggest attraction in the Smile Sprint S. (G2) and other races during Gulfstream Park's Summit of Speed program on Sunday. Espinoza, who has had a whirlwind public appearance schedule since guiding American Pharoah to a commanding and historic victory in the Belmont S. (G1) on June 6, has six mounts on the day at Gulfstream and is scheduled to sign commemorative posters prior to Sunday's card...
Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale stated on Friday morning that Stepaside Farms' Power Ped (Powerscourt) is under consideration for next Saturday's $100,000 Arlington H. (G3). The five-year-old gelding was last seen finishing third (moved up to second after a disqualification) in the February 7 San Marcos (G2) behind Finnegans Wake (Powerscourt). "He is coming off a nice rest and is just now coming back," Drysdale said. "He's doing very well. We are looking at possibly the Arlington H. It could be a good spot for him." If the Kentucky-bred makes the trip, young California-based French jockey Flavien Prat will likely come in for the ride...
Tercentenary S. (Eng-G3) winner Time Test (Dubawi) is set to swerve the July 12 Prix Jean Prat (Fr-G1), and trainer Roger Charlton said he is uncertain where the progressive three-year-old will run next. "I don't know where Time Test will go, as no firm decisions have been made at the moment," the Beckhampton conditioner said. "The first option had been the Prix Jean Prat on Sunday week, but he is not going to run in that. Next up is the Prix Eugene Adam ([Fr-G2] at Maisons-Laffitte), which comes later in the month and that is a possibility." Time Test, never worse than second in five outings, was making his stakes debut in Royal Ascot's Tercentenary, which he won by an eye-catching 3 1/4 lengths...
Four-time Group 1 winner Al Kazeem (Dubawi), who injured a sesamoid after winning the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Ire-G1) May 24, has resumed light work for trainer Roger Charlton, who has hopes of an autumn campaign for the seven-year-old. "Al Kazeem is being ridden and as of today he will start trotting for the first time, which is good news," Charlton said. "He will then have another scan in three or four weeks." Al Kazeem, who won the 2013 Tattersalls Gold Cup, Prince of Wales's S. (Eng-G1) and Eclipse S. (Eng-G1) and returned to training last year after proving sub-fertile at stud, was winning his third race since his comeback and first Group 1 in his last outing. "It is a shame he has been unable to run in the Prince Of Wales's or the Eclipse, as his form suggests he would have been in the shake-up of both races," Charlton added. "He is not going to all of a sudden make an appearance and if all is well, we will plan for the autumn but only time will tell us if we can do that."...
Purses for Hong Kong's 2015-16 racing season will rise to an all-time high, and will be up 7.5 percent from last season. Class 1 races will be worth HK$2.4 million (US$309,556), an increase of 9.1 percent, while Class 2 races see the greatest rise; they will be up 10% to HK$1.65 million (US$212,819). Class 3 races will be up 9.9 percent, while Class 4 and 5 races will rise by 5.3 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively. While there will be no change to the purses for Hong Kong's International raceday, four local Group 1 contests will receive a boost: the Hong Kong Classic Mile and Hong Kong Classic Cup will each be worth HK$10 million (US$1.3 million), while in the speed series, the Centenary Sprint Cup and Chairman's Sprint Prize will both be worth HK$8 million (US$1 million). The Sprint Cup has also seen a change in distance, up to 1200 meters from 1000 meters. Hong Kong's international and local Group 2 races will rise by 3.2 percent in value to HK$4 million (US$515,926); and local Group 3s will be worth HK$3 million (US$386,944), up 9.1 percent. The Hong Kong Jockey Club last year implemented the High Achievement Bonus to incentivize owners to import high-quality horses, and that scheme -- which has thus far paid bonuses for 28 horses -- will continue next season. The HAB pays out bonuses up to HK$1 million (US$128,981) for horses reaching certain levels before the age of five. "The overall increase in prize money and incentive awards for next season upholds the Club's objective to maintain and improve the quality of Hong Kong racing," said Bill Nader, the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Executive Director of Racing. "We appreciate the increasing financial pressures that our loyal owners are experiencing when purchasing high-class horses, and continued efforts to increase prize money over the past seasons demonstrates our ongoing commitment to strike the right balance."
JULY 3, 2015
by Dick Powell
The second annual Stars and Stripes Festival is this Saturday at Belmont Park and the fireworks begin in race six on the Fourth of July racecard. Luckily, the heavy rain that hit the New York metropolitan area is over and the races should be conducted under Fast and Firm conditions.
Race six is the Victory Ride Stakes (G3) going 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track for three-year-old fillies. Next comes the $500,000 Dwyer Stakes (G2) for three-year-olds going a mile on the main track.
The marquee event of the day, the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1) for three-year-olds at a mile and a quarter, is race eight. Despite the large purse and efforts to entice international shippers, this year's Derby only drew nine entrants with just two coming in from overseas.
CANNDAL (Medicean) is from the powerful stable of the Aga Khan and won his first race the second time out this year, traveling Saturday's distance on good turf at Longchamp in Paris. He came back with a good third going 11 furlongs on soft turf in a Group 2, setting the pace from the start and leading to deep stretch. The second-place horse that day came back to run seventh and 10th in his next two starts. Canndal exits a troubled second versus listed rivals, elevated one spot by the stewards after being sawed off in the stretch, and will not use the diuretic Lasix.
POSTULATION (Harlan's Holiday) ships in for Juddmonte Farms with decent form in Ireland. He won his last race going this distance at The Curragh and his best race might have been his career debut when beaten only four lengths by Gleneagles (Galileo), the highest rated miler in Europe.
Trainer Dermot Weld is a legend in Ireland but familiar to race fans all over the world. In 1990, he won the Belmont Stakes (G1) with Go and Go (Be My Guest). He's won the Melbourne Cup (Aus-G1), Australia's most important race, twice, sending out Vintage Crop (Rousillon) in 1993 and Media Puzzle (Theatrical) in 2002. When Weld ships, as Woody Stephens used to say, he's here for a reason, not the season.
In the $1 million Belmont Oaks (G1), 14 three-year-old fillies are entered for the 1 1/4-mile race on the inner turf course but only two international shippers made the trip. OLORDA (Lord of England) is from the powerful international stable of Martin Schwartz, who has won major stakes in America with Euro shippers Stacelita (Monsun), heroine of the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) and Flower Bowl (G1); Alterite (Literato), who won the Garden City Stakes (G1); Zagora (Green Tune), winner of the Diana Stakes (G1) and the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1); and Samitar (Rock of Gibraltar), who won the Garden City.
All were trained over here by Chad Brown and Olorda has similar credentials, with the above fillies all improving once in America. She won a Group 3 two starts back going nine furlongs on soft turf at Longchamp, her first start out of Germany, and came back to finish third in a Group 1 last time, going Saturday's distance on good turf. The winner came back to run 11th in the Prix Diane (Fr-G1) next out but had an excuse after breaking impossibly from post 17.
The other international runner in the Oaks is OUTSTANDING (Galileo), who appears to be rounding into form for Aidan O'Brien. After running poorly in two starts last year, she's captured both attempts in 2015. Even though she missed the Classics in Europe this year, Outstanding has the look of a filly that will continue to improve.
She broke her maiden going a mile on yielding turf in a 20-horse field at Naas in Ireland, returning off a six-month layoff in her seasonal bow, and Outstanding came back at Saturday's distance to win by almost three lengths last time, making all the running on a good turf course. She adds Lasix and should get ground that she favors.
O'Brien not only dominates European racing but is equally dangerous when he ships to North America. He almost won the Belmont Derby last year with Adelaide (Galileo), who went on to win the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park; Cape Blanco (Galileo), winner of the Joe Hirsch Invitational Stakes (G1), the Man o' War Stakes (G1) and Arlington Million (G1); George Vancouver (Henrythenavigator), who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1); and Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) winners St. Nicholas Abbey (Montjeu) and Magician (Galileo).
Outstanding is a full-sister to Magician and looks ready to take another move up the class ladder. She draws outside and if the race is run slowly, she will be losing ground every step of the way.
One interesting point in the Belmont Oaks is that all but one filly is nominated for the Breeders' Cup. The one that is not, Spanish Queen (Tribal Rule), is also the only starter to win going 10 furlongs at the Grade 1 level, capturing the American Oaks (G1) last out. The $535,000 winner's purse could go a long way to get her supplemented.
Finally, the one to beat in the Oaks is Lady Eli (Divine Park) who is undefeated in five starts. Last year, I was not that strong on her in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Turf (G1) after a pair of rather slow wins beforehand. She looked great with her explosive kick in the stretch at Santa Anita and has come back this year with two easy wins, but neither was very fast.
In the Oaks, against 13 other rivals, Lady Eli draws inside with Irad Ortiz Jr. and the question facing her surrounds her finishing kick; will she have the same explosion going 10 furlongs as she's displayed at middle distances? At a short price I am betting she doesn't.
Click here for the monthly July Calendar
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