Untapable installed as 2-1 choice in nine-horse Haskell
Untapable has dominated her own division in spectacular fashion. She's captured all four starts this year by a combined 31 lengths, with the smallest winning margin being 4 1/2 lengths as she's garnered a pair of Grade 1s, a Grade 2 and a Grade 3 stakes, and the bay lass earned career-best 108 BRIS Speed rating in her lone attempt at Sunday's distance, the May 2 Kentucky Oaks.
Rosie Napravnik missed her last outing, a facile 9 1/4-length triumph in the June 28 Mother Goose, due to an injury, but she'll be back aboard the daughter of Tapit.
Martin Garcia replaces Gary Stevens aboard the improving front-runner and Bayern is the early 5-2 second choice. Exercise
Albano enters on the upswing for conditioner Larry Jones, registering a smashing 6 1/2-length victory in the June 15 Pegasus at Monmouth. That marked the first start since March for the son of Istan, who recorded a nose second in the Risen Star earlier this season, and Albano will look to carry his momentum forward with regular rider Kerwin Clark. He's the 6-1 third choice on the morning line.
Dance With Fate suffers fatal injuries in training
Dance With Fate was last seen finishing sixth in the May 3 Kentucky Derby. Shipped to New York for the July 5 Belmont Derby, the nearly-black son of Two Step Salsa came down with a case of colic and had to be scratched.
One of last season's prominent two-year-olds, Dance With Fate was runner-up in the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner and eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He kicked off his 2014 campaign with a brilliant score in a Santa Anita turf allowance and subsequently reverted to synthetic for the February 15 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields, where he finished a fine second.
Dance With Fate was freshened ahead of his long-term aim, the April 12 Blue Grass at Keeneland, and he responded with a career-defining victory. Runner-up Medal Count has since gone on to finish third in the June 7 Belmont Stakes.
Campaigned by Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racing, Dance With Fate bankrolled $680,050 from his 9-3-3-0 line.
Stewart tabs Jim Dandy for Commanding Curve
Finally climbing off the fence, trainer Dallas Stewart committed Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve to a run in the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on Saturday instead of the $100,000 Curlin the day before.
The West Point Thoroughbred runner is coming off a ninth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, and Stewart said his Master Command ridgling has flourished in his training at Saratoga.
"I wanted to be in the (Curlin) if the Jim Dandy was a much larger field (seven are entered), or we didn't draw the way we want to or weather," Stewart explained. "But I feel like this all fits together.
"Tonalist is a great horse. He won the Belmont, but he hasn't won here. He hasn't beaten us here. We had a bad race at Belmont. I feel like my horse likes this racetrack."
Commanding Curve will carry 117 pounds, six pounds fewer than Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist and Wood Memorial hero Wicked Strong. Shaun Bridgmohan will ride Commanding Curve.
"(Bridgmohan) worked him, and he's very positive about him, and everything I can see in the stall -- eating well, all that stuff -- is good for me," Stewart added. "If we get beat, we get beat. We want to give him a chance to swing forward to the Travers."
Big Guy Ian 'should have enough speed to be competitive' in Amsterdam
Michael Dilger spent seven years as an assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher before going out on his own last summer. His solo career got off to a fast start when he won with his first stakes starter, New York-bred Wired Bryan, in last July's Sanford.
On Saturday, the 38-year-old native of Ireland will send out another Anstu Stables-owned colt in Big Guy Ian in the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam for three-year-old sprinters on Saratoga's main track.
Big Guy Ian drew the outside post 9 in the 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam, which serves as Saratoga's local prep for the Grade 1, $500,000 King's Bishop on August 23. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan will be aboard for the first time.
"It's better than being in the one hole, and it gives him the opportunity to see what everybody else does," Dilger said. "We've liked him all along; that's why we bought him. We're just hoping he can live up to the potential that we think we've seen in him."
Purchased for $375,000 as a two-year-old in training last April, the chestnut son of Birdstone hasn't sprinted since his debut in December at Gulfstream Park. He broke his maiden going a mile in his next start and ran fourth by 2 1/2 lengths to Amsterdam contender C Zee in the Sir Bear before leaving Florida. Most recently, Big Guy Ian was third in a one-mile optional claimer on June 25 at Belmont.
"He's training very well," Dilger asserted. "I'm not concerned about him cutting back because he's shown so much speed in his races. It seems like he should have enough speed to be competitive in this spot.
"I guess with his pedigree we expected him to stretch out, but it seems like a mile would be his limit. He's gotten stronger as the year has gone on and he continues to do well. He's developing into quite a big, strong horse and hopefully that continues."
Dilger also mentioned that romping Calder Derby winner Our Caravan, who is back on a regular work schedule following his sixth-place finish in the May 10 Peter Pan at Belmont, is progressing toward his next start.
The horseman arrived at Saratoga in May and will stay through the end of October. He currently has 18 horses at the Spa and another 20 stabled at Belmont Park.
"It's taken off," he said. "We've got some New York-bred fillies that are going to start running here shortly. Last year we stayed until the 31st of October and went straight to Florida. This year we'll leave again on the 31st but we'll probably have a bigger string at Belmont and see what we do from there. We plan on keeping some horses in New York for the winter, as well."
R Free Roll ships out of Florida for only second time for Honorable Miss
Grade 3-placed multiple stakes queen R Free Roll has ventured outside of her native Florida in search of her first graded victory in Monday's Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap for female sprinters at Saratoga.
Trained by Kirk Ziadie in south Florida, the speedy Rockport Harbor filly arrived at the barn of trainer Danny Gargan on July 16 at the Spa. This will be just the second time in 17 lifetime starts that R Free Roll will race outside of the Sunshine State.
"She's doing really well," Gargan said. "She was sent in here doing unbelievable, and we're just trying to keep doing exactly what Kirk was doing with her. He's helped a lot. I'm just glad to have the opportunity to run her here."
R Free Roll sailed through a half-mile work in a bullet :46 over Saratoga's fast main track on Tuesday, the fastest of 39 horses.
"The rider was just sitting on her and never asked her to go at all. I think she really liked the track. She just skipped across it. It was pretty amazing to watch," Gargan remarked. "She's a real calm, laid-back filly. It's hard to believe, as fast as she is, but around the barn she's so sweet and good-natured."
Co-owner Rich Averill is in Saratoga with R Free Roll, a winner of back-to-back six-furlong stakes, the Hollywood Beach at Gulfstream Park in April and the U Can Do It Handicap at Calder, both in front-running fashion, the latter on May 31.
"I had this race picked out two months ago since I knew there were rumblings of the Summit of Speed not going," Averill said. "She's done enough down in Florida to prove who she is. I honestly believe she's one of the top fillies in the country, and I think she'll show that. Traditionally, Calder horses come here and do well. I'm very happy. She couldn't be any better."
R Free Roll came within a neck of winning the Sugar Swirl, a Grade 3, at Gulfstream in mid-December but finished second to Heart Stealer. She was ridden that day by Paco Lopez, who is making the trip from Florida to ride in the Honorable Miss.
"We want to control the race; hopefully, everybody knows that going in," Gargan said. "We're not being shy. We know we're going to the lead. Definitely print that."
The Honorable Miss is shaping up into a duel between R Free Roll and fellow speedball La Verdad, a Grade 2 winner who has nine victories in 11 lifetime starts including her last four in a row.
R Free Roll is an Averill homebred who gets her name from the circumstances surrounding her breeding. Averill won a race in Ocala sponsored by Darley, and the purse included a free share to one of the farm's stallions. Averill bred his mare Jules N Gems to Rockport Harbor in Kentucky and brought her back to Florida to foal.
"The night after the race, they had a huge party; it was unbelievable," Averill said. "Lobster, sushi, all you could eat. Open bar. Everything you could possibly want. I win this race, I get a stud fee, I'm at this party with like seven buddies. I name all my horses 'R' something, and I said, 'This is the greatest free roll of all time.' That's her."
Artemis Agrotera returns to her winning ways at the Spa
Aside from the day's stakes action in the Lake George, the standout performance from Saratoga on Wednesday may well have belonged to Artemis Agrotera's commanding return in the 6TH race, an optional claiming event for New York-bred fillies and mares, three-years-old and up.
The Grade 1 star proved that she was back to her winning ways, taking control early to lead the field gate-to-wire under a respectable pace of :22 3/5 for the first-quarter mile, :45 1/5 for the half and 1:09 for three-quarters. Unthreatened by her peers, Artemis Agrotera entered the stretch with an impressive lead and drew off to a 10 1/4-length victory under little urging from jockey Jose Ortiz to finish the seven furlongs in 1:22 1/5.
The bay daughter of Roman Ruler turned heads with a maiden-breaking debut at Saratoga last August and followed with a Grade 1 win in the Frizette in October at Belmont Park. The filly finished off-the-board as she took on tougher competition in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall and in her 2014 debut in the Acorn on June 7 at Belmont.
Trainer Michael Hushion acknowledged that he was unsure of what to expect in Wednesday's race, but was pleased.
"I think she showed that (she's back) today," he said. "She wasn't even running to the quarter-pole when she didn't run well. I'm not sure exactly what it was. Every day I get up, I know less. She had shown all that talent and not to get it out of her again, I was just worried."
Hushion expects Artemis Agrotera to stretch out again in the future, although not perhaps right away.
"I think we're going to want to go farther," he said. "I don't think we'll jump to a mile and an eighth the next time, but I still think she can go a mile and an eighth."
Chester and Mary Broman's homebred boasts a career record of three wins in five starts and earnings of $463,800. Even with her slump seemingly behind her, Hushion said the team was not yet thinking about where to go next.
"We're going to get through today and take a deep breath," he said. "I haven't even opened the book to look."
Artemis Agrotera's win capped a successful day for her connections as the Bromans, Hushion and Ortiz teamed up in the race before with Girlaboutown. The three-year-old daughter of A. P. Indy had finished a solid second to entrymate Star Grazing in her debut at Belmont on July 5.
On Wednesday, however, Girlaboutown was not to be denied, kicking clear to win by 10 1/4 lengths over the favored Verismilitude in a six-furlong maiden special weight.
Brown, Guillot excited about prospects in Saratoga maiden
Trainer Chad Brown looked at Saratoga's past performances for Saturday's 3RD race, a maiden special weight for two-year-olds, and marveled at the potential talent on display.
"Tyson and Holyfield, Round One," Brown said.
Brown's $1 million Malibu Moon colt Aldrin, one of the "buzz" horses on the Spa grounds and a three-quarter brother to top sire Tapit, was made the even-money favorite by NYRA oddsmaker Eric Donovan. The only horse on the also-eligible list -- Competitive Edge -- is a $750,000 Todd Pletcher-trained son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. Donovan listed him at 9-5 if he can draw in to the field.
Da Jenius, a $350,000 Malibu Moon colt trained by Eric Guillot, is the final foal of Grade 1-scoring millionaire Madcap Escapade, who produced Guillot's Grade 1 winner Mi Sueno.
Four others in the field sold for more than $100,000 at auction.
"The horse is really nice," Brown said of Aldrin. "So, we'll see what happens. The longer, the better, but he's quick enough to run three-quarters (of a mile) if you need him to."
Asked if he's excited, Brown stated, "A horse like this? For sure.
"He's done everything right. You get batches of two-year-olds in, and you're kind of seeing who's going to be in what division, turf or dirt, and could this one be a Derby horse, and normally that group is not that big. He acts like he'll run all day, but he's got a big turn of foot and will sprint if you need him to; those horses are very rare, in my opinion. Right now, he looks like that kind of horse."
On the front of Guillot's golf cart at Saratoga it says, "Eric Jenius Guillot," and his debut horse in the race is Da Jenius. When he first started training at Saratoga in 2010, the cart just said, "Eric J. Guillot."
While Guillot's real middle name is Jude, there is an origin story behind Jenius and now the horse Da Jenius.
"The first year when I got here when I rented the golf cart, they put my name, Eric J. Guillot," he said. "David (Grening) of the Racing Form comes up and was interviewing me about (dual Grade 1 heorine) Champagne d'Oro at the Oklahoma track. He starts asking questions, looks down at the golf cart and says, 'Eric, what's the 'J' stand for?'
"Right off, I go, 'Genius!' He thought I was from Louisiana, and I thought genius started with a 'J.' So, he hesitated for a while and finally goes, 'Eric, uh, genius starts with a 'G.' I said, 'I know that! That's what makes it so funny!"
Guillot would like Da Jenius to make him look like a genius, but he doesn't expect the race Saturday to be much more than a learning experience for the colt, who has been working steadily at Saratoga since early June.
"This will be good to use as a measuring stick," he said.
Asked if he felt any pressure for the horse to do well, considering he sort of named it after himself, Guillot said, "Pressure is for people who can't get the job done. Like Mickey Mantle, when he pointed the bat, he wasn't planning on a double. He pointed his bat to the fences."
That was Babe Ruth who called the shot, but with Guillot, these mix-ups can happen.
Englehart off to a good start at Saratoga
After needing 59 starts to win his first race at Saratoga, trainer Jeremiah Englehart didn't need much time to double his Saratoga tally, as Shankopotamus gave the trainer his second win at the track with a victory in the 8TH race on Wednesday.
Englehart won the first race of the meet, a $25,000 claiming event for horses who haven't won two races, with Winter Games before winning his second straight race at Saratoga six days later with Shankopotamus, who took an open $25,000 claimer.
"The start is better than we were expecting," Englehart noted. "It had been a long time waiting (for the first win). To win the first race of the meet makes it a little more special."
Englehart, who took out his trainer's license in 2003, currently leads the trainer standings at Finger Lakes, where he is three races ahead of his father, Chris Englehart. In addition, Jeremiah Englehart has maintained strings year-round on the NYRA circuit since the autumn of 2011, winning 50 races, including five stakes with King Kreesa, at Aqueduct and Belmont Park during that span before finally getting his first score at Saratoga last Friday.
For Englehart, winning at Saratoga was the logical next step in his trainer career, which includes a win in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with Ria Antonia via disqualification.
"Winning my first Breeders' Cup race last year was special," Englehart said. "Saratoga is like no other in terms of competition, and I believe in setting goals and making new goals after you meet them. I've been blessed with a good year, and it wouldn't be possible without my staff, considering all the travel I do."
On Wednesday, Shankopotamus went to the lead and dug in to hold off Street Shark by a half-length in a protracted stretch battle. It was Shankopotamus' first start for Englehart, who claimed the six-year-old for $12,500 on behalf of owner Neal Allread in his previous start.
Englehart said Shankpotamus' record at Saratoga, which he improved to 3-2-1 in six starts with Wednesday's win, was a major factor in the decision to claim the gelding.
"Neal wanted him because he runs well in Saratoga," Englehart explained. "That's the main reason why we claimed him. He's been nice for everyone who has trained him, and it's been my job to not screw him up."
Five horses were claimed out of Wednesday's 8TH race, but not Shankopotamus, and Englehart says he hopes to run the Florida-bred son of Greatness at Saratoga one more time before the end of the meet.
Kingman, Toronado on course for Sussex clash of generations
Kingman and Toronado are on course for Wednesday's Group 1, £300,000 Sussex Stakes, the highlight on the second day of Glorious Goodwood, after the six-day confirmation stage. The clash, the latest "Duel on the Downs," has been the focal point of the five-day meeting since the pair both triumphed at Royal Ascot, where they cemented their status as Europe's leading three-year-old and older miler respectively.
Kingman, trained by John Gosden, spectacularly turned the tables on his Two Thousand Guineas conqueror Night of Thunder in the St James's Palace Stakes, while Toronado defied a 300-day absence in the Queen Anne Stakes.
Kingman is the odds-on favorite to continue the good recent record of three-year-olds, who have won five of the last six renewals of the Sussex over a mile. Toronado on the other hand is bidding to join the mighty Frankel as the only other horse to win two runnings of the Sussex Stakes, having got the better of Dawn Approach in a fantastic renewal 12 months ago.
Toronado's trainer Richard Hannon has also left in three-time Group 1 winner Olympic Glory and Shifting Power, who found Kingman five lengths too strong in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas at the Curragh on May 24.
A return to Glorious Goodwood is on the cards for Outstrip, who was beaten a neck in the Vintage Stakes at the meeting last year. The son of Exceed and Excel subsequently provided Charlie Appleby with a first success at the highest level with a thrilling victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita.
Outstrip produced a dirty scope after disappointing in the Two Thousand Guineas but returned to form with a battling third when 3 1/4 lengths behind Kingman at Royal Ascot. He could bid to provide Godolphin with a third Sussex Stakes victory following Noverre (2001) and Ramonti (2007).
"If it is good or quick racing ground, then Outstrip will run at Goodwood -- anything on the slow side of good and he won't be taking his chance," Appleby reported Thursday.
"He's an athletic horse and handled the course at Goodwood well last year. We felt that he hit the front a little too soon in the Vintage Stakes but we learned a lot from that run.
"We were disappointed with him in the Guineas but he had a genuine excuse that day as he scoped very badly afterwards. I had been pleased with his preparation going into Newmarket and I was very happy going into Royal Ascot, where he produced what I thought was a career-best performance.
"He has come out of the St James's Palace Stakes very well. You have to respect Kingman and Toronado but we would be happy to let Outstrip take them on provided the ground is good or faster."
The nine confirmations are completed by Falmouth Stakes heroine Integral and the Aidan O'Brien-trained trio of War Command, winner of last season's Dewhurst Stakes, along with Darwin and Illusive.
Goodwood's seven-race card on Wednesday also features the Group 3, £80,000 Gordon Stakes over 12 furlongs, a leading trial for the final British classic, the St Leger at Doncaster on September 13. The 11 confirmations are topped by Bahrain Trophy victor Hartnell and Eclipse Stakes third Somewhat, both trained by North Yorkshire handler Mark Johnston.
Other notables include King Edward VII Stakes third Scotland (trained by Andrew Balding), Derby fifth Red Galileo (Ed Dunlop) and Observational (Roger Charlton), winner of the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood on May 23.
Some of the leading contenders for next year's classics could be on show in the Group 2, £80,000 Vintage Stakes. The seven-furlong contest has gone the way of subsequent stars Olympic Glory (2012), Sir Percy (2005) and Shamardal (2004) in recent years.
The Hannon team, successful in the last four renewals, have three possible representatives in the shape of impressive Group 2 winner Ivawood, Coventry Stakes seventh Dr No and Sandown maiden winner Tupi.
Also engaged are Norfolk Stakes third Ahlan Emarati (Peter Chapple-Hyam) and Highland Reel (O'Brien), who won a mile maiden by 12 lengths at Gowran Park on July 1.
Seamus Buckley, Goodwood's clerk of the course, walked the course Thursday afternoon and reported the going remains good, good to firm in places.
"I am pleased with the condition of the course and happy with where we are with the going," Buckley said.
"We have been watering overnight for the last week as daytime temperatures have been high, reaching 31 degrees Celsius yesterday. There is still plenty of moisture in the ground and we will continue the watering program at night.
"The forecast is for predominantly dry weather. There is the possibility of showers on Sunday into Monday but we are expecting dry conditions throughout Glorious Goodwood which starts on Tuesday, July 29, though with slightly lower temperatures of between 20 & 22 degrees Celsius."
The Wow Signal, Anthem Alexander top probables for Phoenix
A fantastic renewal of the Group 1, €200,000 Phoenix Stakes is in prospect at the Curragh on August 10, with Royal Ascot winners The Wow Signal and Anthem Alexander set to be joined by many of this season's best juveniles.
Anthem Alexander beat the high-class Tiggy Wiggy in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and her trainer, Eddie Lynam, is looking forward to stepping the winner up in trip to six furlongs in the Phoenix Stakes, the first European Group 1 two-year-old contest of 2014.
"We have been very happy with Anthem Alexander since Ascot and she will definitely take her chance in the Phoenix Stakes," Lynam said. "I don't think the extra furlong will be any problem to her at all."
North Yorkshire handler John Quinn confirmed that The Wow Signal, winner of the Coventry Stakes over six furlongs at Royal Ascot for Sheikh Joaan Al Thani's Al Shaqab Racing, is set to travel to the Curragh.
"I've spoken to (Al Shaqab racing manager) Harry Herbert and if the ground is nice at the Curragh then the Phoenix Stakes is where we'll go," Quinn said. "He's really well at home and has a great mind and a real appetite for work."
Aidan O'Brien is responsible for 11 of the remaining 27 entries in the Phoenix Stakes, and among his potential runners are last Saturday's Anglesey Stakes winner Dick Whittington, Grangecon Stud Stakes heroine I Am Beautiful and dual-winning Keeneland graduate The Great War.
"At the moment Dick Whittington, The Great War and I Am Beautiful are the three horses we have up for consideration," O'Brien said. "They are all in great form and the plan is to make a final decision nearer the time."
Trainer Kevin Prendergast Thursday confirmed that the unbeaten Beach Belle, winner of a Curragh maiden in March and a listed contest at Naas last month, will also line up at the Curragh.
"She is a smashing filly and will take her chance in the Phoenix Stakes. She has plenty of speed and really saw out the six-furlong trip at Naas," Prendergast said.
Three-time winner Cappella Sansevero, who changed hands for £1.3 million before finishing second in the Coventry, is set to line up for trainer Ger Lyons and owner Qatar Racing.
"Cappella Sansevero is in really good form and the plan is to run in the Phoenix Stakes," said Shane Lyons, assistant to his brother.
There is a supplementary entry stage for the Phoenix Stakes on August 5.
The Phoenix Stakes is sponsored by Kentucky-based Keeneland, home to both the world's largest Thoroughbred sales company and one of America's most beautiful racecourses, which will play host to the 2015 Breeders' Cup.
"We are thrilled that so many of this season's top juveniles are being aimed at the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes and it promises to be the standout two-year-old race of the season so far," Geoffrey Russell, director of sales at Keeneland, commented.
Admission for families will be free at the Curragh on August 10, courtesy of Keeneland, and younger racegoers will be able to enjoy a variety of free entertainment in the Kids Zone.
"We are very grateful to Keeneland for its proactive approach in working with us to ensure as many people as possible come to the Curragh to see what promises to be one of the racing highlights of our season," said Evan Arkwright, commercial manager of the Curragh Racecourse.
"Previous winners of the Phoenix Stakes have included some of the very best juveniles in Europe since the race was first run in 1902, and this year will certainly be no exception."
Doncaster's Champagne attracts 92 entries
Exciting juveniles Ivawood, Faydhan and Richard Pankhurst feature among 92 entries (up from 76 in 2013) for this year's Group 2, £75,000 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. The seven-furlong contest is staged on the final day of the St Leger Festival, September 13.
The trio currently head the market for next year's Two Thousand Guineas, following impressive starts to their careers, with Ivawood having stormed to a decisive victory in the July Stakes at Newmarket's July meeting.
Faydhan posted a six-length victory on his debut for John Gosden in a Haydock Park maiden on July 3, while his stable companion Richard Pankhurst easily captured the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot on his latest appearance.
Ivawood's trainer Richard Hannon is responsible for eight entries in all, with Kool Kompany, a Group 2 winner in France and Ireland already this season; Norfolk Stakes hero Baitha Alga; and Superlative Stakes scorer Estidhkaar also among a formidable team from the first-season handler.
A total of 18 entries from Aidan O'Brien include Gleneagles, who just won Thursday's Tyros at Leopardstown; debut maiden winner East India; the regally-bred John F Kennedy; and recent Anglesey Stakes scorer Dick Whittington.
Trainer Karl Burke has made three entries headlined by the once-raced Glenalmond, who is a full brother to French highweight and Group 1 winner Wootton Bassett. The son of Iffraaj was all the rage ahead of his debut in a six-furlong maiden at Ayr on July 21, starting the 11-8 favourite, and duly obliged with a decisive half-length victory.
"We were very pleased with Glenalmond at Ayr," Burke reported. "It's hard to know what he beat but the runner-up (My Dream Boat) had previously finished second in a maiden that is working out well.
"The Acomb Stakes or Gimcrack Stakes at York are definitely possibilities for him now. He has got an entry in the Gimcrack, but I think the owner is keen to step up him up a furlong and we certainly think he will stay.
"Obviously, if he came through one of those race in good order then the Champagne Stakes will be on the agenda.
"He has a very nice pedigree, being a full brother to Wootton Bassett, and is very much one for the future. Wootton Bassett had quite a hard time of it as a three-year-old, but Glenalmond won't and we think he will train on."
The Middleham handler has also entered Superlative Stakes fourth Natural Order and Toocoolforschool, who was third on debut in a six-furlong maiden at Nottingham on July 18.
"Natural Order ran very well to be fourth in the Superlative Stakes," Burke added. "He is having a little break at the moment and will be out again at the end of August. We will see how he gets on there, but he would have to improve to go for another Group 2.
"Toocoolforschool is potentially a very nice horse and possibly goes for a maiden at York this weekend. It's early days yet but they are all potentially nice colts."
Charlie Appleby, successful in the 2013 Champagne Stakes with subsequent Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf scorer Outstrip, has a quartet of contenders including Newmarket winner Zephorus and Hawkesbury, who posted a seven-length success in a Doncaster maiden.
Flaming Spear (Kevin Ryan) made an impressive start to his career with a decisive victory in a York maiden on July 12, while Aktabantay (Hugo Palmer) and Brocklesby winner Cock Of The North (Scott Dixon) have both run well in Group company this season.
Also on September 13, Doncaster will offer the Group 2, £100,000 Park Stakes, which has attracted 53 entries.
American import Verrazano was second in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot before disappointing in the Eclipse, and the Aidan O'Brien charge has the seven-furlong Park as yet another option in his itinerary.
O'Brien has also entered Darwin along with the sophomores Due Diligence and Cougar Mountain. Due Diligence was an excellent second in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, while Cougar Mountain was a creditable fifth in the July Cup in only his second career start.
Other notable entries include multiple Group 1 veteran Gordon Lord Byron; the John Gosden-trained Gregorian; Jersey hero Mustajeeb; fellow Royal Ascot scorers Muteela and Field of Dream; dual Guineas runner-up Lightning Thunder; Glory Awaits; recent Summer Mile winner Guest of Honour; Garswood; and last year's winner Viztoria.
Viztoria, stayed on strongly to beat Lockwood by three-quarters of a length in 2013 and rounded off the campaign with a good third to stablemate Slade Power on British Champions Day at Ascot. Her only outing this season came when finishing fourth to the same rival in the Greenlands Stakes over six furlongs at the Curragh on May 24.
"Viztoria is entered for the Park Stakes and it's a possibility," trainer Eddie Lynam said. "She's in great form -- everything is fine with her -- and we will see nearer the time."
County Kildrae handler Sabrina Harty is also eyeing the prize with Ansgar. The improving six-year-old enjoyed a first Group 3 success when making all in the seven-furlong Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh on July 19, beating Darwin by a length.
"The Park Stakes is an option for Ansgar," Harty said. "He is ground dependent and doesn't want it any worse than good to yielding, but if it's nice ground we would be looking to come over because there aren't many options.
"We were delighted with him at the weekend and he has come out of it well. He won with a bit in hand and I could not believe what price he was (8-1), even with Darwin in the race, because we beat him last year.
"We were a bit worried after because during the race Pat (Smullen) felt that he could still be feeling a splint that came up at Ascot, but he seems well.
"Maybe the ground was quick enough for him at the weekend, but he has been out in the field and seems really fresh, so hopefully everything has settled down.
"We think he's a good horse. If you watch the race at Ascot, he was one of the last off the bridle but then he started switching legs. We think he would have been in the first five or six if he didn't have the splints.
"He had a kissing spine last season, which meant he wasn't 100 percent, but he was still able to run Gordon Lord Byron to a neck off level weights. The kissing spine settled properly over the winter, so we thought he would improve this year and he has.
"He is in the Desmond Stakes over a mile next month (August 14) and, although seven furlongs is his best trip, he will probably take his chance in that first because there isn't anything else for him."
Daring Dancer nips A Little Bit Sassy in Lake George
A Little Bit Sassy made her move rounding the turn, drawing even with Daring Kathy and sticking her head in front past a mile in 1:34 4/5. Daring Dancer had angled out by this point in the lane and was coming hard, though. The bay miss reeled in A Little Bit Sassy and got the victory over her game rival.
"That was a very close race. Somebody had to win, (and) I was glad to win that race," Garcia stated. "She was comfortable all the way. Turning for home, I was looking for a hole, but I decided to move outside. She did it spectacularly."
Daring Dancer's third dam, multiple Grade 2 queen Chapel of Dreams, is the ancestress of Grade 2 winners Tale of a Champion, Postponed and Juniper Pass. As a daughter of Northern Dancer and Terlingua, Chapel of Dreams is a three-quarter sister to world-renowned sire Storm Cat, from the immediate family of Royal Academy.
Belmont winner Tonalist returns in Jim Dandy
When back to ideal health, the Christophe Clement trainee skipped through the slop when taking the May 10 Peter Pan by four lengths, and was game in wearing down a determined Commissioner by a head in the Belmont, denying California Chrome's bid for the Triple Crown.
"It's great when your patience pays off, and that's a credit to his owner (Robert S. Evans) who gave me the freedom to do that," Clement said. "To be competing on this level is very exciting for me.
"I think he's fit, but I think he can move up from the race, too," Clement added. "He had a break after the Belmont and he put on quite a bit of weight. He's been very playful and he thinks life is great. Unfortunately for him over the last three weeks he's been back to work, but he still thinks that life is great. He's a very playful kind of a horse, and that's a great thing. He's taking his work very well."
Tonalist is seeking to become the fifth horse to win the Belmont and Jim Dandy. Arts and Letters (1969), Affirmed (1978), and Conquistador Cielo (1982) turned the double en route to Horse of the Year honors, while Palace Malice, who won both stakes in 2013, is a leading candidate for Horse of the Year honors as a four-year-old this season.
Wicked Strong, who thus far has been most accomplished at Aqueduct by winning the Wood Memorial and finishing a close third in the last fall's Remsen, will attempt to revert to the form that saw him win the nine-furlong Wood by 3 1/2 lengths. The Jimmy Jerkens pupil finished fourth in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont, dead-heating with California Chrome in the latter.
"The Easy Goer really turned him around," Rice said. "He needed that race, and it was a pretty attractive spot. It helped him and got him back in the game, and he's really turned the corner since."
Also in the Jim Dandy are two colts Kid Cruz has beaten this summer, Easy Goer runner-up Legend and Dwyer third Ulanbator. Completing the field is the Grade 3-placed Cousin Stephen, a recent Parx allowance winner who was also entered in Friday's Curlin.
Rock Fall, a maiden and allowance winner during the Belmont spring meet by a combined margin of 12 1/2 lengths, takes on stakes company for the first time Saturday in the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam, a 6 1/2-furlong prep for next month's King's Bishop.
The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Speightstown cruised to a six-furlong maiden win by 9 1/4 lengths on May 11, and then returned on June 4 to beat allowance company by 3 1/4 lengths after leading by nearly twice that margin with a furlong to go.
Among the stakes veterans set to face Rock Fall are Noble Moon, hero of the Jerome in early January and most recently sixth in the Wood Memorial; Bay Shore victor Coup de Grace, a rough-trip sixth in the Woody Stephens and winner of the Oh Say at Delaware Park subsequently; and Captain Serious, who led for nearly all of the 1 1/16-mile Dwyer before conceding the race late to entrymate Kid Cruz.
Also lining up are Tiznowforamerica, an allowance scorer at Belmont last time for Tom Albertrani; C. Zee and Casiguapo, one-two in the $90,000 Cherokee Run at Gulfstream on July 5; and New York-bred allowance winner John's Island.
Frac Daddy inherits San Diego favoritism
Imperative was unplaced in his lone previous appearance over Del Mar's Polytrack, but the Bernardini gelding is two for four on all-weather tracks and can't be dismissed from win consideration in this spot. Trained by George Papaprodromou, the four-year-old has really come on since being claimed last December, recording a win in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic and a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 San Antonio, and Imperative exits a decent third in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Regular rider Kent Desormeaux will be up.
Social Inclusion arrives for Haskell in search of a rider
"I am talking to other riders and looking at other options now, and we have to decide by tomorrow morning (when entries will be taken)," said Azpurua, who at age 85 became the oldest trainer to saddle a Preakness starter when he tightened the girth on Social Inclusion, a Kentucky-bred son of Pioneer of the Nile.
Social Inclusion, who generated considerable buzz when he won his first two races at Gulfstream Park this year by a combined 16 1/2 lengths and set a track record of 1.40.97 for 1 1/16 miles in the second start, worked four furlongs Tuesday morning at his home track. His breeze of :48 1/5 was the fourth fastest of 20 horses traveling the same distance at Gulfstream.
The colt made his third start in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, but became worked up in the paddock and post parade and finished third as the favorite. In the Preakness next time, he also had some pre-race issues and antics.
"He's doing great, he's acting a lot quieter and nicer now. Before, he would get a little bit upset," his trainer said. "We made some mistakes with him. The important thing is that he's taking in everything quietly now and he's easier to train. He's matured. My people told me this morning that my horse made the trip very quietly and very nicely."
Social Inclusion figures to be part of a very quick pace. Bayern, Wildcat Red, and Albano have shown plenty of early foot leaving the gate in their races.
"We'll see what happens. That's something very easy to say before the race, so we'll see how everything is going to go. We'll run this race and find out what's going to be. I really believe my horse is going to run a wonderful race on Sunday," Azpurua said.
Departing scheduled to work for Whitney
Multiple Grade 2 hero Departing will work Saturday morning as he continues his preparation for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Whitney on August 2 at Saratoga.
The Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider homebred fired a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 last Saturday on the Spa's fast main track, best of 20 at the distance.
"He's training well," trainer Al Stall stated. "He trained well here last year, and he seems to like it. He didn't get to run up here, and he'll get his first chance. His breeze last Saturday was very nice -- five-eighths and a great gallop-out. Everything is on schedule."
Departing has a 7-for-11 record with nearly $1.5 million in career earnings. Last year at three he romped in the Super Derby and West Virginia Derby, both Grade 2s, as well as the Illinois Derby, a Grade 3.
The gelded son of War Front opened his four-year-old campaign with an easy score in an optional claimer at Churchill Downs and then went straight to the Stephen Foster Handicap on June 14 under the Twin Spires. Against top horses, he loomed boldly in the stretch before flattening out to third, just a neck behind runner-up and champion Will Take Charge, who also will be running in the Whitney.
Stall believes the schedule sets up Departing perfectly for a top performance.
"That was his second race in 8 1/2 months, going from a one-turn mile allowance race to a mile-and-an-eighth two turns," Stall said. "He was on the lead at the eighth-pole (in the Stephen Foster) and just kind of evened off a little bit at the end. He figured to need the race, but I thought to get beat two lengths while he's still working his way up to fitness was a great race for him."
The Whitney has "been the goal since we turned him out last October," Stall said. "We figured his third race back would be the Whitney and so far, so good."
Tainted feed blamed for Estimate's morphine positive
The animal feed manufacturer whose products are believed to be behind the positive morphine test of The Queen's five-year-old mare Estimate has launched a "thorough investigation" with its supplier.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Estimate was a popular winner of last year's Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and finished second in this year's renewal on June 19. It was revealed on Wednesday that the Monsun mare was one of five horses under the care of various trainers across Great Britain to test positive for morphine in findings initially unveiled July 17.
Dodson & Horrell, which has supplied feed to The Queen's horses since 2006, identified Alpha Oil Plus as the potentially contaminated product. It is believed the contamination could have occurred from poppy seeds.
Dodson & Horrell denies the contamination occurred on its premises.
"Preliminary investigations suggest that any contamination of this component product did not occur at Dodson & Horrell's site," a statement read. "The investigation is currently centering on Dodson & Horrell's supplier. Dodson & Horrell has recalled batch numbers week 20-28 of Alfalfa Oil Plus as a precautionary measure, in accordance with our procedures and NOPS (naturally occurring prohibited substances) protocol."
The statement continued, "No positive test results have been recorded in any other Dodson & Horrell products currently on the market. From information currently available to us, it appears that any contamination may have come from poppy seeds that occur naturally in the environment. Please note this does not affect the welfare of the animal."
Estimate remains on target for the Group 2 Goodwood Cup on July 31.
Adding further confusion to the story on Wednesday, trainer Eve Johnson Houghton revealed to Racing Post that a horse in her care, the three-year-old gelding Charlie Wells, had tested positive for morphine after a Chepstow handicap victory on June 23, but Johnson Houghton confirmed that she does not use the product that is suspected as the source of contamination.
"I use some Dodson & Horrell products, but not the one they say there may be a problem with," she told the trade daily. "I believe it was only a miniscule amount (of morphine), but I don't know because the (British Horseracing Authority [BHA]) say they cannot tell me about quantities. It has come in the feed, but which bit of feed I've no idea; nobody seems to be able to say. The BHA seem to be taking an awful long time to test it and tell me which it might be in, and maybe they'll never find out."
The BHA has advised that once all processes are complete, the cases will be put before a disciplinary panel.
Zito hoping Spot likes stretch out in Curlin
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito will give Grade 2-winning sprinter Spot another chance to stretch out in Friday's $100,000 Curlin for three-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga.
Purchased by Joseph Moss following a fifth-place effort in the seven-furlong 3 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park in February, the gelded sophomore son of Pulpit came from off the pace to beat previously undefeated No Nay Never in the seven-furlong Swale next out.
A disappointing seventh in the Florida Derby at 1 1/8 miles four weeks later, Spot was off the board in both the Derby Trial and Woody Stephens before running fourth in the July 5 Dwyer at 1 1/16 miles.
"Horses change," Zito said. "Right now, the way he's been training these last two months, we've thought for sure that he wanted to go long. The miles he's logged have indicated that he's changed. If you look at it, the Florida Derby wasn't bad. The Dwyer was a good indication that he will go long."
A longtime assistant and exercise rider for Zito, Maxine Correa echoed her boss' sentiments.
"When he gallops and breezes, he gallops out after the breeze as if he's still breezing," she said. "Never mind the breeze, at the end of the gallop he pulls even harder than at the beginning of the gallop."
Based for most of the year with Zito's string in Saratoga, Spot has worked steadily for the Curlin, including a bullet half-mile breeze in :48 on June 28. Most recently the gray Kentucky-bred went four furlongs in :49 2/5 on July 17; both moves were over the Spa's fast main track.
"He's doing good here. He likes the main track," Zito said. "I wish, like everybody else, it was five weeks from the Dwyer but what are you going to do? It was a good race, and he did win a graded race. He won the Swale. We'll see what happens."
Jockey Jose Ortiz will ride Spot for the first time in the Curlin; they drew post eight in a field of 10 at 117 pounds, six less than co-highweights Tiz'naz and Joint Custody.
"I always like the inside because you always get position right off the bat, but from the outside he'll do what he's got to do," Zito said. "He's really strong right now. I talked to the jock; he's a bright kid. He looks like he's got a future. He was here the other day and we went over the race with him. Hopefully, he gets a good place and a good trip."
Zito picked up his first two wins of the Saratoga meet on Monday in back-to-back, seven-furlong dirt sprints with three-year-olds, filly Another Incident in a $55,000 allowance and colt Tony B in a $20,000 maiden claimer.
Owned by Leonard Riggio's My Meadowview Farm, Tony B is a chestnut son of Old Fashioned who cost $500,000 as a two-year-old in training last spring. Named for 87-year-old entertainer and artist Tony Bennett, he was seventh in his career debut last summer at Saratoga.
On Monday, Tony B was fractious in the gate but broke well and settled in third behind pacesetter Midnight Frolic under jockey Luis Saez before shaking clear at the quarter-pole and spurting away to win by 11 lengths in 1:23 3/5.
"Sometimes you've got horses and they're not doing well and you put them in a claiming race and they run off the screen. Naturally, you hope they're not claimed," Zito said. "He wasn't claimed.
"Mr. Riggio liked him as a two-year-old and he was an expensive two-year-old. We just couldn't get a break with this horse his two-year-old year. He had an issue here and an issue there. We gave him all the time. We're so grateful he wasn't claimed because of how he won and what could happen."
Ring Weekend, other Motion trainees, targeting Spa stakes
Ring Weekend, second in the July 18 Sir Cat Stakes to Tourist on Saratoga's turf, has come back in good form for trainer Graham Motion and may return for another stakes race later in the meet, according to assistant trainer Alice Clapham.
A likely spot would be the $100,000 Better Talk Now, a one-mile turf race for three-year-olds on August 20. That race is named for Motion's 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf winner, who ranks among his favorite horses and is turned out in a paddock near his barn at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.
Ring Weekend won the Tampa Bay Derby and was under consideration for the Kentucky Derby when he finished second in the Calder Derby on turf. His connections ultimately skipped the Run for the Roses and ran in the Preakness, where Ring Weekend was bumped and steadied in a rough-trip fifth-place finish.
After that, Motion sent Ring Weekend out in the Pegasus over Monmouth Park's dirt, and the Tapit gelding pulled up in the stretch after setting the pace.
The performance in the Sir Cat showed Ring Weekend was back on track and likely headed to more turf racing.
"We were very happy with the way he ran, especially after the race at Monmouth," Clapham said. "He ran huge. We were just happy that he put his mind back in the game. I think that horse of (trainer Bill) Mott's (Tourist) is a very nice horse."
The Motion barn has an intriguing English import, Stars Above Me, set to run July 30 in the $100,000 Coronation Cup, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for three-year-old fillies. Despite only having one victory in five starts overseas, the Exceed and Excell filly has hit the board in four of those starts -- all of which came against males.
"They wanted to bring her over here and get some black-type with her," Clapham explained. "She got here last week."
Auld Alliance and multiple Grade 3 heroine Inimitable Romanee are both on track to run August 3 in the $100,000 Waya going 1 1/2 miles on the turf. Both will van up for the race from Fair Hill.
Pocahontas, Iroquois highlight Churchill's second September Meet
The second September Meet in the 140-year history of Churchill Downs Racetrack will offer a eight stakes races with total purses of $925,000 during a 12-day run topped by a pair of important stakes events for juveniles who have their eyes on the Breeders' Cup World Championships and racing's spring classics, and the return of the $125,000 Homecoming Classic, a race for 3-year-olds and up designed as a prep for the million Breeders' Cup Classic.
The opening Saturday night of the September 5-28 meet will feature four of those stakes events in a program highlighted by the Grade 2, $200,000 Pocahontas for two-year-old fillies and Grade 3, $100,000 Iroquois for juvenile colts and geldings. The 1 1/16-mile races open the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" and "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" points system for the 2015 Derby and Oaks, and are also included in the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" program for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
The second running of the Homecoming Classic -- a 1 1/8-mile race designed to be a prep for the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic and November's Grade 1, $500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill -- will share the stage on September 27 with the Grade 3, $100,000 Jefferson Cup, a one-mile race for three-year-olds on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Along with an automatic berth in the starting gate for their respective Breeders' Cup races, the Breeders' Cup-nominated horse who wins the Pocahontas or Iroquois also will have their pre-entry and entry fees paid, receive a $10,000 travel stipend (if based outside of California), and the nominating person of the winner will receive an award of $10,000.
Racing during the September Meet will be conducted on a Friday-through-Sunday schedule during each of its four weeks, with "Downs After Dark" night racing celebrations scheduled for opening night September 5 and September 19.
The races on the stakes schedule for this year's meet are identical to the roster of events offered during last year's inaugural September racing session, but total stakes purses have been reduced by $50,000 and individual purses have been changed for three races. The Pocahontas purse has been raised by $50,000 to $200,000. Purses for the Homecoming Classic and Iroquois were each reduced by $50,000. The value of the Homecoming Classic is now $125,000, while the Iroquois purse is $100,000.
The Pocahontas and Iroquois will be joined on that first Saturday program by the Grade 3, $100,000 Ack Ack sending three-year-olds and up one mile and the $100,000 Locust Grove, a 1 1/16-mile contest for distaffers.
The $100,000 Open Mind, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares, will be the featured event on September 13, while the Grade 3, $100,000 Dogwood sending sophomore fillies seven furlongs is scheduled for September 20.
The roster of winners of stakes events run during last year's inaugural September Meet included:
Churchill Downs had conducted racing in the month of September as part of various summer and fall racing meets during its long history that began in 1875. Last year was the first in which the track offered both a third racing meet in a calendar year and a racing session conducted exclusively during September.
Seating for the September 5 and September 19 "Downs After Dark" celebrations and other racing programs scheduled during the September Meet is available for purchase online at ChurchillDowns.com.
St Leger attracts 33 entries
Entries have been revealed for the final English classic of the season, the St Leger, which takes place at Doncaster on September 13. Run over one mile, six furlongs and 132 yards, the Group 1 contest boasts a record prize fund of £650,000.
Two of the past four St Leger winners have been trained by John Gosden -- Arctic Cosmos (2010) and Masked Marvel (2011) -- and the Newmarket handler has won the final classic four times in total. Gosden looks to hold another strong hand this year with Derby third Romsdal and King Edward VII Stakes victor Eagle Top starring among his five entries.
The Gosden-trained quintet also includes Cloudscape, who stayed on well when fourth in the 10-furlong Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot, impressive Doncaster maiden scorer Forever Now and Marzocco, who stayed on to take fifth in the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp on July 13.
Observational will test his St Leger credentials in the 12-furlong Gordon Stakes at Goodwood on July 30. The Roger Charlton-trained colt stayed on dourly to capture the Cocked Hat Stakes by a neck from Marzocco at the same course in May, but missed the Derby with a bad scope and has not run since.
"We have entered Observational in the St Leger and it's a race we are looking at," Charlton reported. "Everything is fine with him. He will go for the Gordon Stakes next and we will see how he gets on there before deciding if he needs another run before the St Leger.
"I would not be too concerned about stepping up in trip."
The Goodwood contest has produced four St Leger heroes since the turn of the century courtesy of Encke (2012), Arctic Cosmos (2010), Conduit (2008) and Sixties Icon (2006). It forms part of the 'Road to the St Leger' series, which also features the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York on August 20.
Ireland's champion trainer Aidan O'Brien saddled his fourth St Leger winner last year with Leading Light and has seven entries in 2014, the most of any trainer. The Ballydoyle septet includes Irish Derby runner-up Kingfisher plus stakes scorer Indian Maharaja and impressive maiden winner Granddukeoftuscany.
Other possible starters for O'Brien are Adjusted, Annus Mirabilis, Blue Hussar and Buonarroti, who was fifth at Doncaster last season in the Racing Post Trophy.
In addition to O'Brien's seven entries, there are a further two entries from Ireland. John Oxx has entered the Christopher Tsui-owned Streetcar to Stars, a son of Sea the Stars who was narrowly denied in a 12-furlong stakes at Leopardstown in June before gaining a comfortable success in a 10-furlong maiden at the Curragh later the same month.
The St Leger is the one English classic to have eluded Jim Bolger and the trainer has entered dual handicap scorer Wexford Town, a full-brother to last year's Irish Derby hero Trading Leather.
No current trainer has won the St Leger more times than Godolphin's Saeed bin Suroor who has five victories to his name, most recently Mastery in 2009. Bin Suroor's four entries in 2014 include Elite Army, impressive winner of the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot and True Story, who was last seen out when fifth in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on July 5.
The lightly-raced Arabian Revolution and Winter Thunder complete the Godolphin quartet.
Sir Michael Stoute famously broke his St Leger duck with Conduit in 2008 and has a pair of interesting contenders in Lingfield Derby Trial victor Snow Sky and the unexposed Kings Fete.
Kingston Hill enjoyed the biggest victory of his career at Doncaster when he was successful in the Racing Post Trophy last October. The son of Mastercraftsman went on to defeat all bar Australia in the Derby at Epsom and is one of two entries for Roger Varian along with Ayrad, who was last seen out when disappointing in the French Derby at Chantilly in June.
Leading Light won the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot en route to St Leger glory last year and the winner of that two-mile contest in 2014 was Hartnell. The Mark Johnston-trained colt has gone on to advertise his St Leger credentials by landing the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket on July 10, when he defeated the Richard Hannon-trained Windshear.
Johnston could also be represented by Somewhat, who belied his 100-1 starting price when third in the Eclipse Stakes, and Alex My Boy.
Andrew Balding has made entries for Scotland, who was a staying-on third behind Eagle Top at Royal Ascot, and Impulsive Moment, last seen out when third in the Glasgow Stakes at Hamilton on July 18.
The Ed Dunlop-trained Red Galileo came from way off the pace to take fifth in the Derby, while the entries are completed by Min Alemarat, Odeon and Astronereus.
There is a scratchings' stage for the St Leger on August 26. The five-day confirmation stage is on September 8, when there is also a £50,000 supplementary entry stage.
Commanding Curve among 10 entered in Curlin
Life in Shambles, a stablemate and frequent work companion for Belmont Stakes hero Tonalist, will likely be on or near the early lead from post 10. Beaten just a head in his stakes bow in the May 17 Sir Barton, the Christophe Clement pupil set a demanding tempo in the June 7 Easy Goer and paid for it late. The gritty gelding wound up third to Kid Cruz and Legend, who could square off in the Jim Dandy (Kid Cruz has the August 2 West Virginia Derby as another possibility). Joel Rosario, aboard for both of his stakes attempts, will guide Life in Shambles from the outside post 10.
The Kid Cruz formline is also represented by Joint Custody and Spot. Joint Custody placed behind Kid Cruz in the Private Terms and Federico Tesio in his home state of Maryland. Venturing to Delaware Park for the Grover (Buddy) Delp Memorial, Joint Custody was outdueled by Tiz'naz, but rebounded with a convincing win in the off-the-turf Stanton in his latest. He renews rivalry with Tiz'naz, who comes to Saratoga off a dismal seventh in the July 5 Long Branch at Monmouth. As the only two stakes winners at a mile or more in the field, Joint Custody and Tiz'naz are the co-highweights at 123 pounds.
Spot made an auspicious start for new connections -- owner Joseph Moss and trainer Nick Zito -- in the Swale at Gulfstream Park, stunning the hitherto unbeaten No Nay Never. But the well-bred son of Pulpit hasn't managed to hit the board in four ensuing races. His best result in that span was his most recent, a closing fourth to Kid Cruz in the July 5 Dwyer, and he could be on the verge of another move forward. Note that Spot gets a rider switch to Jose Ortiz.
The Chad Brown-trained Cousin Stephen aims to fulfill his early promise. Stamping himself as one to watch when crushing an Aqueduct maiden last November, he was the 8-5 favorite in a loaded allowance at Gulfstream in January, but wound up fifth to Commissioner and Top Billing. Cousin Stephen exited that loss with a lung infection. He was back on track in the Sam F. Davis, finishing a battling-on third, but flopped in the Tampa Bay Derby and headed to the sidelines. The Proud Citizen colt made a winning return in a June 16 Parx allowance, where he led throughout before holding on by a desperate nose, and now he gets Hall of Famer John Velazquez in his corner.
Charge Now has always inspired hopes as a half-brother to 2010 Kentucky Derby hero Super Saver. The Bill Mott colt captured a Gulfstream maiden and promptly wired an entry-level allowance at Belmont, earning his way into the Grade 3 ranks in the Iowa Derby. But Charge Now never got involved after breaking slowly and trudged home seventh in the Prairie Meadows slop. The son of Tiznow is eligible to make amends.
Protonico is another blueblood who is likely better than his lone stakes result, a sixth in last fall's Nashua. By Giant's Causeway and out of an A.P. Indy mare, Protonico has won both of his other starts. He romped in his debut at Delaware, captured a Belmont allowance most recently in his first outing for Todd Pletcher, and keeps Javier Castellano in the saddle.
Viva Majorca and V. E. Day are stepping up to face stakes rivals, but both have the right profile to make an impact. Viva Majorca, a Marylou Whitney homebred, trounced a Gulfstream maiden by 12 lengths and rolled to a 3 1/2-length allowance win at Churchill Downs. Although he has raced only in sprints so far, the son of Tiago is bred to prefer a route. V. E. Day comes off two straight wins at Belmont for Jimmy Jerkens, in a sloppy, off-the-turf maiden and a turf allowance at this trip. The English Channel colt's preferred surface is yet to be determined, for he is untested on a fast main track.
Sky Kingdom, Soi Phet top 11-horse Cougar II field
The only one in the 11-horse Cougar II field with a victory over the Del Mar Polytrack is Soi Phet, who is actually undefeated in three outings over the surface. All three occurred against allowance company at the 2013 meet, and the Leonard Powell charge recently scored his first stakes win taking the $101,000 Bertrando for California-breds at Los Alamitos.
Longview Drive, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, exits a one-length victory in the $100,000 Oak Tree Handicap at Pleasanton, which followed a head loss against Grade 3 company in the All American over Golden Gate Fields' Tapeta track.
Old Time Hockey, winner of the La Jolla Handicap over the Del Mar turf two years ago, tries a synthetic surface for the first time in the Cougar II. Hero of the Florida Cup Turf Classic at Tampa Bay Downs in April, the gelded son of Smarty Jones recently rallied for fourth in the American Flag at Los Alamitos after a slow start.
Other notables lining up in the Cougar II are Peruvian Group 1 winner Lideris, a distant fifth in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in his U.S. bow, and the Grade 2-placed American Blend, who debuts for trainer John Sadler after being claimed for $75,000 at Santa Anita on June 15.
Shannon Nicole (Majestic Warrior) rallied from off the pace to register a one-length victory in Wednesday's $205,200 Indiana Grand S. for three-year-old fillies as even-money favorite Kiss Moon (Malibu Moon) struggled home sixth in the off-the-turf feature at Indiana Grand. Ridden by Miguel Mena, Shannon Nicole completed one mile and 70 yards over a sloppy track in 1:40. Third earlier this season in the Rachel Alexandra S. (G3), she has now earned $257,083 from a line of 12-3-4-1 for owner Connie Apostelos and trainer Mike Maker. Earlier in the afternoon, Sister Ginger (Student Council) rallied from eighth to beat front-runner Stoptalkingmaria (Whywhywhy) by a neck in the $106,250 Girls Inc. of Shelbyville Shelby County S. for fillies and mares. Also transferred from the turf due to weather conditions, the 1 1/16-mile event was completed in 1:42 4/5. This was the third career stakes win for Sister Ginger, who previously captured the Martha Washington S. at Oaklawn and Indiana Grand on turf last year. Owned by co-breeder Millennium Farms, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden here by Ricardo Santana Jr., the four-year-old filly has now won $330,141 from a record of 19-6-3-3...
Trainer Tom Albertrani confirmed that Godolphin Racing's Better Lucky (Ghostzapper) will now target Saratoga's $500,000 Ballerina (G1) for filly and mare sprinters on August 23 after beating a small but select field in the Shine Again on Monday at the Spa. The Shine Again was the first stakes win on dirt for Better Lucky, who won the 2012 Matriarch (G1) and 2013 First Lady (G1) on turf and was second in the 2014 Madison (G1) on a synthetic surface. The five-year-old mare hadn't raced on a conventional dirt surface since the start of her career, when sandwiched a fifth in the Ruthless and third in the Busher between a pair of wins in her debut and fourth career start in 2012 over the inner track at Aqueduct and main surface at Belmont. Her runner-up performance in the Madison was her lone previous start traveling seven furlongs. In the Shine Again, Better Lucky rallied from last of four to beat Grade 1 victress Grace Hall (Empire Maker) by a head, who finished a half-length in front of fellow Grace 1 diva My Miss Aurelia (Smart Strike). "I had high expectations (going into the Shine Again)," Albertrani said. "I didn't feel it was a matter of surface change. I felt as if was a matter of what her best distance is. It worked out in our favor with a fast early pace." Albertrani added that Romansh (Bernardini), who won the Excelsior (G3) in March at Aqueduct and was third two starts back in the Metropolitan H. (G1) in June at Belmont, remains on course for the $1.5 million Whitney S. (G1) on August 2 and is scheduled to have a workout on Saturday or Sunday. Romansh, also owned by Godolphin, was fifth in the July 5 Suburban H. (G2) most recently...
Art Sherman, a career race tracker who rose to the pinnacle of the sport this past spring when he guided the mercurial colt California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) to the edge of racing immortality in a thrilling Triple Crown run, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award. Sherman will receive the award and its distinctive trophy Sunday, July 27, in winner's circle ceremonies at Del Mar between the day's 4TH and 5TH races. The Pincay Award, given annually for the past 10 years to those who have served the sport "with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction," will be presented at Del Mar for the first time. Previously, the ceremonies were held at Hollywood Park, but when the Los Angeles track closed in 2013, Del Mar invited Hall of Fame rider Pincay to continue his tradition at its shore location. Sherman, who came to the racetrack as a teenager and has spent his entire career either riding, which he did for 23 years, or training, which he has done for the past 35, said he was honored and delighted to be receiving the award "from my old friend and one of my favorite riders. Laffit is a man of real class and it is an honor for me to be receiving an award named for him," Sherman said. Pincay, who rode for 39 years and won a then world's record 9,530 races, earned five Eclipse Awards as America's top rider and led the nation in earnings on seven occasions. The now 67-year-old competed for 27 summers at Del Mar and is the track's winningest rider with 1,011 victories prior to his retirement in 2003. "It is a pleasure for me to give this award to a man like Art Sherman," Pincay said. "It is well deserved; very well deserved. I've known Art for a long time and I know he's the kind of person people just like to be around. He's such an open and honest man and he handles himself so well. I think everyone saw that this spring. The way he dealt with all the things surrounding California Chrome -- winning the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and all the pressure that came with that -- just showed everyone that he is a wonderful representative for horse racing."...
Saratoga Race Course will welcome college students back to their favorite course during the sixth annual College Day on Friday. Track goers of all ages are encouraged to don their alma mater's colors or favorite collegiate team's gear for the chance to win special prizes. The New York Racing Association (NYRA) will offer college students enrolled in the upcoming academic year the chance to win one of numerous $1,000 scholarships offered throughout the day. Toyota and Northeastern Fine Jewelry will present two of the day's scholarships. College students will also have the opportunity to win Saratoga grandstand season passes. Students may register for the chance to win the scholarships, season passes and other prizes in the backyard near the Big Red Spring beginning at 11 a.m. (EDT). All college students who register will receive a $5 voucher that may be used for food or merchandise at any on-track concession. The first 1,000 college students to register will receive a Toyota drawstring bag and a personalized bag of Saratoga Chips. NYRA will pay tribute to the 2014 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Champions from Union College with a race named in their honor on College Day. Head Coach Rick Bennett will present the trophy to the winner of the day's 3RD race. Additional scholarships awarded on College Day and scholarship-related highlights include the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund awarding six scholarships of $2,500 each for a total of $15,000 to students who will be pursuing careers in New York State's Thoroughbred racing or breeding industries. Northeastern Fine Jewelry will also offer racing fans the opportunity to win a picnic lunch for 20 people at Saratoga Race Course through the #CollegeDay SELFIE Contest. For more information, visit nyra.com/saratogaevents...
With just three runners set to go postward, Thursday's Tyros S. (Ire-G3) at Leopardstown promises to be a tight affair. Trainer Aidan O'Brien, with seven prior renewals in the bag, saddles impressive maiden scorer Gleneagles (Galileo), who prevailed at The Curragh in his second go June 29. O'Brien will attempt to bridge a gap back to Zoffany's 2010 success in the contest. It will be no straightforward task, however, for the full-brother to this term's Irish One Thousand Guineas victress Marvellous, with his June 6 course-and-distance debut conqueror Convergence (Cape Cross), whose trainer Ger Lyons won with Exogenesis (Dark Angel) last year, set to cross swords once more. Gleneagles needs to overcome a three-length deficit from there, but re-opposes on three-pound better terms. "Convergence deserves to take his chance," trainer Ger Lyons told irishracing.com. "He has already beaten Aidan's horse, who looks likely to go off favorite, so we'll take our chance and hope for the best. With the conditions of the race I don't know why there are so few runners." Tombelaine (First Defence) is the only unbeaten contender and completes the trio arriving off a June 12 debut score over course and seven-furlong distance...
Marsali (More Than Ready), who became Calumet Farm's first juvenile winner in Europe after opening with a 3 1/2-length romp going six panels at Fairyhouse last month, bids to lift connections onto a higher plane when tackling a competitive renewal of Thursday's Silver Flash S. (Ire-G3) at Leopardstown. Opposition to the Dermot Weld trainee is stiff and is headed by Raydara (Rock of Gibraltar), who built upon a June 27 first-up second at The Curragh by justifying odds-on favoritism in style when traversing the course and distance last week. "She's in good form after her race last week and didn't have a particularly hard race, so we said we'd pull her out again as there was nowhere else to go until the (August 23) Debutante (S. [Ire-G2] at The Curragh)," trainer Michael Halford told irishracing.com. "She has a nice draw and this race will tell us more about her. All you can do is produce them in good form and I'm happy with her." Aidan O'Brien, who has garnered four of the last five editions, is represented by a team of three including Qualify (Fastnet Rock) and Cocoon (Galileo), who finished fourth and seventh, respectively, in that June 27 maiden at The Curragh. Another of note is Agnes Stewart (Lawman), who caused a stir at long odds when taking out a seven-furlong Fairyhouse maiden by 3 3/4 lengths for the Edward Lynam stable in her only prior start July 2...
Coventry S. (Eng-G2) scorer The Wow Signal (Starspangledbanner) is likely to step up to Group 1 company for The Curragh's Phoenix S. (Ire-G1) August 10. "He's very well at home and we're thinking about the Phoenix for him," trainer John Quinn told Racing UK. "I've spoken to (Al Shaqab's Racing Advisor) Harry Herbert and if the ground is nice that is where we'll go." Al Shaqab purchased The Wow Signal privately after the colt romped by nine lengths in an Ayr maiden May 21. Quinn noted that the bay has a number of options later in the season. "He's also in the Gimcrack (S. [Eng-G2]) at York (August 23) and the Dewhurst (S. [Eng-G1]) at Newmarket (October 17), and we've also got the option of the Group 1 on Arc day (the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere)," Quinn noted. "He has a great mind and a real appetite for work but whilst everyone dreams about next year, I'll let next year take care of itself and crack on with this year."...
Leading French trainer Pascal Bary has never won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1), and the Chantilly-based conditioner will this year rely on the progressive Spiritjim (Galileo) to reverse his fortunes. Unbeaten in four outings this year and riding a five-race win streak, Spiritjim was last seen earning his first Group 1 victory when edging out Noble Mission (Galileo) in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Fr-G1) June 29. Bary noted that his charge emerged from that effort in fine fettle. "I am very pleased with him," Bary said. "I think as a four-year-old he is one of the best I have trained, and he is still improving. He loves the (Arc) distance of 1 1/2 miles and I don't think he minds the ground either way." Bary added that Spiritjim would likely take in one of the traditional Arc preps September 14. "I think he will go to Longchamp, maybe for the Prix Foy (Fr-G2), and then hopefully for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe," the trainer said...
Multiple group winner and Group 1-placed Brown Panther (Shirocco) will bypass Saturday's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. (Eng-G1) in favor of a title defense of the two-mile Goodwood Cup (Eng-G2) July 31, owner Michael Owen tweeted Wednesday. The six-year-old Tom Dascombe-trained horse won his first two outings of the season -- the Ormonde S. (Eng-G3) and Henry II S. (Eng-G3) -- before finishing fourth in the Gold Cup (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot June 19. Brown Panther was most recently second in the Prix Maurice de Nieuil (Fr-G2) at Longchamp July 13...
Trainer Roger Charlton has revealed that he has an idea where last year's triple Group 1 winner Al Kazeem (Dubawi) will appear next, but he is holding his cards close to his chest after the six-year-old made an encouraging return to the races last Saturday. Retired to The Queen's Royal Studs after winning last year's Tattersalls Gold Cup (Ire-G1), Prince of Wales's S. (Eng-G1) and Eclipse S. (Eng-G1), Al Kazeem returned to Charlton's yard earlier this year after proving sub-fertile. He checked in fourth after tiring late in the July 19 Doom Bar S. at Newbury -- his first outing since October. "The horse is absolutely fine and I have an idea where he will go next, but I would rather not say at this stage," Charlton said. "There is a race in about a month's time, but it's not at York. I would say the Juddmonte International ([Eng-G1] on August 20) is unlikely at this stage. It is too far away to making any definite plans, so we'll see how things progress."...
Three of Newmarket's September juvenile features -- the September 26 Rockfel S. (Eng-G2) and the Cheveley Park S. (Eng-G1) and Royal Lodge S. (Eng-G2) the following day -- have received purse boosts that have coincided with an increased number of entries. The seven-furlong Rockfel for two-year-old fillies sees a £70,000 boost to £100,000, and has attracted 80 entries. The Cheveley Park, also for fillies over a furlong shorter, is up £10,000 to £180,000 and has 50 engaged, up from 37 last year. One filly entered in both is unbeaten Albany S. (Eng-G3) winner Cursory Glance (Distorted Humor). "She has done great since (Royal) Ascot," said trainer Roger Varian. "She has definitely improved physically. She's a beautiful filly -- very talented, and I am very happy with her. I don't know yet what her autumn program will be, but she's won a Group 3 so all Group 2 and Group 1 options are open to her." The Royal Lodge over a mile has 100 entries, and is up £10,000 to £110,000...
U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) winner Toast of New York (Thewayyouare) emerged from his sixth-place finish in the July 6 Belmont Derby (G1) with a low-grade lung infection, but nonetheless remains on track for a return trip to the U.S. for the Pacific Classic (G1) August 24. "Toast is OK but he did come back with a slight lung infection," trainer Jamie Osborne said. "That probably explains why he hit a will in the straight (of the Belmont Derby). It's not absolutely conclusive that he caught it on the way home and on the balance of probability, he probably had the early stages of it through the race. He probably caught it on the way over. We've cleaned him up and the plan remains to take him to Del Mar for the Pacific Classic on Polytrack August 24."...
The Breeders' Cup has announced the final composition of its board of directors upon the completion of runoff voting by the 45 Breeders' Cup members. William S. Farish Jr. will serve a four-year term and Bobby Flay will serve a one-year term on the board, while Antony Beck received the most votes to fill the remaining one-year term. At the annual meeting last week, Barbara Banke and Dan Pride were elected to the board, and Elliott Walden was re-elected. All three will serve four-year terms. Following the election, the board of 14 directors is as follows: Barbara Banke; Stonestreet Stables; Antony Beck, Gainesway Farm; William S. Farish Jr., Lane's End Farm; Bobby Flay, chef and restaurateur; Craig Fravel, president & CEO of the Breeders' Cup; Roy Jackson, Lael Stables; Bret Jones, Airdrie Stud; Tom Ludt, president, Santa Anita; Clem Murphy, Coolmore Stud; Bill Oppenheim, journalist and pedigree consultant; Dan Pride, Darley; J. David Richardson, M.D., chief of surgery, University of Louisville; Elliott Walden, WinStar Farm; and Barry Weisbord, Thoroughbred Daily News/Trakus...
A new Horses of Racing Age section will be added to the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's 2014 Fall Mixed Sale. The sale, scheduled for October 14-16, closes on August 1, but horses may be entered in the Racing Age section through September 22. Two-year-olds as well as older horses may be entered in the Racing Age section, and can be showcased at the optional Under Tack Show. "Adding a Racing Age section and Under Tack Show to the Fall Sale gives horsemen the opportunity to market two-year-olds who were not ready for the spring juvenile sales as well as horses with proven form," said OBS sales director Tod Wojciechowski. "It also offers racing stables a new opportunity to buy and sell horses prior to the end of the year. We are unique in that we are the only sales company with an under tack show for horses of racing age." The Racing Age section will have an online catalog on the OBS website at www.obssales.com and a printed catalog available at the sales grounds in October...
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 listen to the complete 90-minute audio streaming lesson for the session. The audio link is the first entry when you open the Night School chat box. Fans also can register in the archives to be eligible for weekly and seasonal prizes. Week 21 of Night School was entitled "Marking Past Performances," with an inside look at Jeremy Plonk's actual set of BRIS Past Performances and how he dices through the information. The 90-minute live chat featured Plonk and Brian Nadeau, who shared their insights as to what jumpst off the page to them. A link to Plonk's marked past performances, which produced three solid winners in four races during the lesson, is available inside the chat box once you open. The SiriusXM radio simulcasts of Night School will resume the Tuesday after Labor Day for the 14-week Fall Semester.
For Thursday or Next Raceday
JULY 25, 2014
Palace Malice in driver's seat but Horse of the Year race far from settled
by James Scully
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome showed a preference for Santa Anita earlier this year, capping a sensational three-race winning streak with a 5 1/4-length triumph in the Santa Anita Derby, and he'll attempt to come back strong this fall.
Shared Belief is now hot on the dual classic winner's heels, marching forward with a head of steam following a superb 4 1/4-length win in the July 5 Los Alamitos Derby, and he'll enter the Horse of the Year picture with a victory over elders in the August 24 Pacific Classic. The two-year-old champ is unbeaten in five career starts.
Tonalist is not out of the equation, earning big BRIS Speed numbers (107 and 108) for victories in his first two stakes attempts, the May 10 Peter Pan and June 7 Belmont Stakes. Saturday's Jim Dandy is next and the August 23 Travers will be important to his credentials.
The filly Untapable rates as an interesting wildcard. Her first test against males comes in Sunday's Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park and she's bred for longer distances on her female side (out of a Prized mare). Anything's possible with an impressive performance Sunday.
Wise Dan is also lying in wait. The turf miler has taken advantage of a jumbled landscape the past two seasons, earning back-to-back Horse of the Year titles, and appears fully recovered from a recent health scare, readying for his next start at Saratoga. With a third consecutive Breeders' Cup Mile victory this fall, Wise Dan figures to be perfectly positioned once again should the dirt horses knock each other out.
Here are some more thoughts on Horse of the Year hopefuls:
Palace Malice: Sixth in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic, Palace Malice has become much more formidable at age four and looks tough to beat going forward. He handles longer distances, capturing last year's 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes, and the Curlin colt netted a 113 BRIS Speed rating for his victory in the 1 1/8-mile New Orleans earlier this season, the top number among Horse of the Year contenders. Palace Malice may not have to ship to Santa Anita if he reels off wins in the Whitney, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup, potentially guaranteeing himself the title in the process, but Dogwood Stable's Cot Campbell is the ultimate sportsman.
Will Take Charge: He ran well when opening the year with seconds in the Donn and Santa Anita Handicap but began to tail off in the spring, zigzagging through the stretch of a narrow win in the Oaklawn Handicap before tossing in a clunker with a sixth in the Alysheba. Will Take Charge showed signs of rebounding in the June 14 Stephen Foster, rallying for second, and remains intriguing given that he peaked at this time last year en route to three-year-old championship honors and likes the track at Santa Anita. He will need to run faster in upcoming starts, especially since trainer D. Wayne Lukas probably has the same races on his radar as Palace Malice, but count out at this last-season specialist your own risk.
Shared Belief: Plenty hinges on his appearance in the Pacific Classic and I won't be surprised to see him overwhelm the competition. Shared Belief drew off stylishly through the stretch while making his dirt debut in the 1 1/8-mile Los Alamitos Derby, earning a career-best 105 Speed rating, and left every indication that there's more to tap. He's an exciting prospect -- let's hope the lightly-raced gelding remains healthy -- and his affinity for synthetics should help as he continues to stretch out in the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic. Ten furlongs on Santa Anita's dirt track represents a different proposition, with Shared Belief sustaining a foot injury while training at Santa Anita during the winter, but we'll see if that matters. There's a lot to like about his future.
Tonalist: He still has much to prove, winning the Peter Pan in the slop and out-finishing tiring rivals in the stretch of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, but Tonalist's ceiling could run very high. He'll need to keep improving to defeat older horses this fall, maximizing his potential over the next few months, and there's a chance he'll need more time before offering his best form down the road like a Palace Malice. Let's see how Tonalist performs in his upcoming tests at Saratoga first.
Untapable: She's run roughshod over her own division, winning all four starts this season by a combined 31 lengths, and will be favored over male rivals in the Haskell. The possibility exists that she's the best three-year-old of any gender in training and it's interesting to note that her career-best Speed rating (108) came in her lone appearance at 1 1/8 miles (Kentucky Oaks) -- there's no reason to fear added ground with Untapable. With a Haskell victory, she could make things interesting this fall.
Wise Dan: He's won 12 straight turf races and his North American competition needs a subpar performance or they don't stand any chance of beating him prior to the Breeders' Cup. The international contingent could be deeper in this year's Mile but if Wise Dan is able to maintain his form, nobody will be surprised to see the seven-year-old gelding win out in 2014. He needed some help to be named Horse of the Year the last two seasons (Game On Dude had to lose the Classic) and more than one horse this year could grab the hardware with a Classic victory, but it would be foolish to count out Wise Dan.
California Chrome: Connections are keeping an eye on Shared Belief -- they want to avoid losing to that rival at all costs -- and it will difficult to take California Chrome seriously for the Breeders' Cup Classic if he makes his lone prep in a new one-mile stakes at Los Alamitos in September. Other options are still on the table and California Chrome could come back better than ever this fall, but it was a serious grind earlier this year and California Chrome's best races this season could be behind him.
Game On Dude: He's won only one of four starts this year, leading to speculation that he's lost a step at age six, but the gelding's Santa Anita Handicap score was impressive (10 furlongs in 1:58; 108 Speed rating). The key for him is being able to relax up front, a luxury he didn't experience in the last two runnings of the Breeders' Cup Classic, and chances are slim that he'll be lone speed in this year's Classic. Game On Dude can still move back into the Horse of the Year discussion with a successful title defense in the Pacific Classic.
JULY 25, 2014
by Dick Powell
Saratoga has been open for five days as I write this and it is amazing how well trends continue from year to year. We talked about how post one does so poorly in 5 1/2-furlong turf sprints. Last year, they only won four of 62 races.
This year, with seven turf sprint races run, there have not been any winners breaking from post one. So, we are now looking at four for 69 -- 6 percent. It's not impossible to win from there but it's kind of like the 8 hole on a half-mile harness track. You can use them but you better get a price.
As usual, Todd Pletcher had six winners in the first five days of racing. Three were ridden by Johnny Velazquez and three were ridden by Javier Castellano. Five were favorites and four were odds-on.
The Ortiz brothers were red hot, winning a combined 10 races out of 50 available. Jose has six winners and only one of them was a favorite. Irad won four races and none of them were favorites. Only one of their wins came on the turf and that was a turf sprint. Interesting since Irad does so well going long.
In the trend that we saw last year, perfect weather has led to a record number of turf races being carded and run. This year, 26 of the first 51 races were run on the turf. Take out the first jump race and it is 25 of 50. So far, it looks like the turf course is holding up since we had so much rain preceding the meet, which led to fantastic growing conditions for it.
On Wednesday afternoon, late in the day, violent thunderstorms blew through the area. Saratoga Race Course had a direct hit that saw lightning blow up a tree in the picnic area that had been occupied only 15 minutes before. While the rest of the area got heavy rain in the thunderstorms, we did not get much rain and Thursday's card was conducted under fast and firm conditions.
NYRA has some new racing conditions and you need to understand their fine print to put them into context. You will see horses coming out of Belmont Park that raced in starter allowance races. One for $20K and another for $40K, but there is a huge difference between them.
One race is listed as follows:
The second race is listed as follows:
Normally, when you examine past performances, you would think that the first race for Alw40000s is a higher quality race than the one for Alw20000s. But it is not.
The non-winners of two condition that is part of the Alw40000s essentially limits the race to horses who have only won one race lifetime and broke their maiden for either $50K or $40K.
On July 3, 2014, at Belmont Park, an "Alw20000s" race was run for older horses going seven furlongs. Let's examine the number of career wins and top BRIS Speed rating on the dirt. It shows how tough these races are.
Needless to say, a pretty salty bunch.
On June 6, 2014 at Belmont Park, an "Alw40000s" race was run for older horses going six furlongs.
Clearly, the "Alw20000s" is way tougher than the "Alw40000s but you would not know that just going by the conditions that are listed in the past performances.
JULY 24, 2014
by John Mucciolo
Four graded stakes races took the spotlight during the opening week of racing at Saratoga Race Course.
Diana S. (G1): Caroline Forgason's homebred SOMALI LEMONADE (Lemon Drop Kid) was in third to midstretch, collared the leader and held off a stern test late by a neck en route to her initial Grade 1 trophy. Trained by Michael Matz, the five-year-old mare went nine panels on the firm lawn in 1:48 2/5 under the guidance of Luis Saez.
Coaching Club American Oaks (G1): Mike Repole's STOPCHARGINGMARIA (Tale of the Cat) made a big move entering the turn for home and cruised home a facile five-length romper in this affair for conditioner Todd Pletcher. The sophomore filly got nine furlongs on the fast main oval in 1:49, posting the signature score of her career beneath Javier Castellano.
Sanford S. (G2): Team D's BIG TROUBLE (Tiz Wonderful) moved three-wide into contention in early stretch and got the best of a tough stretch battle to garner his first stakes win. The Tony Dutrow trainee stopped the teletimer in 1:10 3/5 for six panels beneath Irad Ortiz Jr.
Schuylerville S. (G3): George Bolton and Barry Hall's FASHION ALERT (Old Fashioned) lived up to her 1-5 billing with a measured 1 1/2-length tally for Pletcher. The precocious filly sped six panels on the fast main oval in 1:11 3/5 to remain unbeaten with John Velazquez in the irons.
A total of 41 races were held at the Saratoga Springs, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 37 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 44 percent of the wins during the week. From 19 races on the main oval, five animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (26 percent), while eight of the 21 races on the lawn were taken all the way on the front (36 percent).
We witnessed a fine opening weekend of racing at Saratoga. The main oval played fairly we thought all week, with Saturday producing a trio of wire jobs from five main-track events. With that said, each of those were maiden runs early in the card, and we consider this surface to be giving most a chance. It remains, as always, good to be in range at the top of the lane.
Turf speed was very dangerous during this opening stanza, as it was in 2013 when 29 percent of the turf races during the initial week were taken all the way on the front end. We can't explain it exactly, but the turf courses go through spells at this meeting where speed is very hard to run down, especially when the lawn is firm. Of the eight who led at each call, five came in route races (three on the inner oval) and a trio in one-turn dashes.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, as expected, got off to a flying start to this meeting compiling a 12-5-2-2 line through the first four race cards. Others who caught the eye include Nick Zito, who has two winners from four to run with a third placer as well; Bruce Brown, who saddled a pair of winners; and John Kimmel; who can get very streaky here and has had a few live ones to date.
For the duration of the meeting, we will tab Chad Brown, George Weaver and Kiaran McLaughlin to pick things up and get rolling, as they seem to do on a seasonal basis at The Spa.
HORSES TO WATCH
2ND -- The Michelle Nevin-trained BY THE MOON (Indian Charlie) moved into contention in early stretch and ran down a clear one late to post a fine first-out score under Jose Ortiz. The juvenile filly came home with fine energy and was flattered when the runner-up was more than nine lengths clear of the show spot.
RING KNOCKER (Birdstone) swept to the front in early stretch and was a bit unlucky not to have graduated at first asking. The Tom Albertrani trainee will surely be a contender right back with even a similar performance.
7TH -- Though he ran for purse money only, TIZ SARDONIC JOE (Tiznow) made the favored winner work for this tally while finishing a clear second. The Wesley Ward charge was at a tactical disadvantage when the wire-to-wire winner got a slow half-mile, but we loved this one's courage late and will tab him for success over a turf course he obviously likes.
1ST -- KAMARIUS (Candy Ride) tracked the pace, took the lead in early stretch and powered clear to a decisive six-length score to graduate in this opener. The well-bred sort surely appreciated the move to this lawn and his closing five-sixteenths in :29 was sharp while not being abused in the lane. Expect the colt to be stakes bound at this meeting next time.
3RD -- OKLAHOMA ACE (Malibu Moon) showed good early foot and stayed on late to be a clear third in what we consider to be a fine debut showing for trainer Nick Zito, who rarely has them cranked up first time out. Expect improvement and a possible graduation next time for the sophomore.
3RD -- GATHERING (Street Cry) did everything right but win this race for Jonathan Sheppard in posting a fine second in a stakes-quality field. The five-year-old mare got her final five-sixteenths in a swift :28 2/5 and should use this as a fine prep for a stakes run next time.
5TH -- The talented SPRING TO THE SKY (Langfuhr) led from the start and left no doubt in finishing up very well to win his second straight turf dash. The Bruce Brown trainee went off form for a while but appears to be heading in a fine direction at this juncture, as he toppled a few very nice ones today.
8TH -- Grade 1 queen BETTER LUCKY (Ghostzapper) not only defeated a compact but very talented field, she proved she can run on anything after she accelerated like a good thing on the dirt. The Tom Albertrani pupil has really evolved into a fantastic race mare and could have a big second half of the season donning the royal blue silks.
A Look Ahead
Saturday will play host to the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes, a prep for the $1 million Travers on August 23, and Belmont Stakes hero Tonalist (Tapit) tops a field that is expected to include Wicked Strong (Hard Spun), who will add blinkers for the first time; Kid Cruz (Lemon Drop Kid); and Commanding Curve (Master Command). The Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam for sophomore sprinters will also be offered on the Jim Dandy undercard.
The Sunday feature is the Grade 2, $200,000 Shuvee Handicap, while sophomore fillies will kick off this week's graded action in Wednesday's Grade 2, $200,000 Lake George on the lawn.
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At a Glance
AT A GLANCE SCHEDULE
*all times Eastern
HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.
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