Palace returns to state-bred company in John Morrissey
Palace (City Zip), who swept Saratoga's biggest sprint stakes last season, will attempt to get back on the winning track Thursday in the $100,000 John Morrissey at Saratoga.
The 6 1/2-furlong race for older New York-breds marks the first start for Palace since a fifth-place finish in the April 4 Carter H. (G1). The Linda Rice-trained six-year-old landed the Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) and Forego (G1) last season, but saw his championship aspirations fizzle out after finishing third in the Vosburgh (G1) and sixth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1).
Also in the John Morrissey lineup is the race's 2014 winner Weekend Hideaway (Speightstown), who is also trying to snap a three-race losing skid. He's been unplaced three times since registering an impressive four-length score in the January 17 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream.
Other likely contenders include last year's Hudson H. winner Moonlight Song (Unbridled's Song) and recent open allowance scorer Noble Cornerstone (Noble Causeway).
The day's action kicks off with the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser, a 2 1/16-mile novice hurdle.
Solow a heavy favorite in Sussex
Odds-on favorite Solow (Singspiel) takes his seven-race winning streak to Glorious Goodwood on Wednesday when he faces seven rivals in the one-mile Sussex S. (Eng-G1) for an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) through the international Breeders' Cup Challenge.
Under the enhancements of the Challenge series, the Breeders' Cup will pay the $40,000 entry fee for the Sussex winner to start in the $2 million Mile. Breeders' Cup is also providing all connections of overseas starters who are entering their horses in the Championships with a $40,000 travel allowance.
Solow, trained by Freddie Head, who trained Goldikova to three consecutive wins (2008-10) in the Breeders' Cup Mile and rode Miesque to victory in the 1987-88 editions of the Mile, has the gray ready for action since capturing last month's Queen Anne S. (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot.
“Solow is in really good form and the Sussex has been the plan for him ever since he won the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot," Head recently told the International Racing Bureau. "He is a very sound horse who takes his races well -- he does not require much work and is easy to train."
The Queen Anne was Solow's third straight Group 1 win this year. Solow captured the one mile Dubai Turf (UAe-G1) by 4 1/2 lengths at Meydan and followed up that score by winning the 1 1/8-mile Prix d'Ispahan (Fr-G1) at Longchamp on May 24. Maxime Guyon will ride Solow as he has done in all four starts this year.
Night of Thunder (Dubawi) finished five lengths behind Solow in the Queen Anne. Last year's Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1) winner, trained by Richard Hannon, won the Lockinge S. (Eng-G1) at Newbury on May 16 in his first start of 2015.
Breaking from the inside post will be Arod (Trefoil), who comes into the Sussex off back-to-back victories in Epsom's Diomed S. (Eng-G3) and in the Summer Mile (Eng-G2) at Ascot. He finished one length behind Night of Thunder in his third place performance in the Lockinge.
Belardo (Lope de Vega), winner of last year's Dewhurst S. (Eng-G1), and Bossy Guest (Medicean), fourth in the Two Thousand Guineas, are the two three-year-olds in the field.
Aidan O'Brien has won the Sussex four times in the last 15 years. He is represented by the Cougar Mountain (Fastnet Rock), who finished third in the Queen Anne and fourth in the Eclipse S. (Eng-G1) at Sandown on July 4.
Shore Runner takes Lucky Coin in a photo
Shore Runner (More Than Ready), claimed two starts back for $62,500 by owner Brad Grady and trainer Joe Sharp, improved his record to two-for-two for those connections with a heart-stopping, nose win over Sharp Sensation (Sharp Humor) in Monday's $100,000 Lucky Coin at Saratoga.
Bet down to 6-5, Shore Runner got up at the last jump under Kendrick Carmouche to win his stakes debut in a time of 1:01 for 5 1/2 furlongs on the firm Mellon turf. He paid $4.70 and is now a potential candidate for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) in October.
For the complete story and analysis, visit the TwinSpires blog.
Judy the Beauty returns to action in Honorable Miss
Judy the Beauty (Ghostzapper), the 2014 champion female sprinter, will maker her first outing since May in Wednesday's $200,000 Honorable Miss H. (G2) at Saratoga.
Second in the Humana Distaff (G1) in her season debut, Judy the Beauty will carry top weight of 124 pounds in the six-furlong dash. Her main rival among four is the speedy La Verdad (Yes It's True), a winner of all three starts this year including the Distaff H. (G2) and Vagrancy H. (G3).
For the complete story, visit the TwinSpires blog.
Shaman Ghost seeks second Canadian classic in Prince of Wales
Queen's Plate winner Shaman Ghost (Ghostzapper) will seek to become the first horse in 12 years to take the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown in Tuesday's C$500,000 Prince of Wales at Fort Erie.
The 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales has attracted a field of seven, but all eyes will be on Shaman Ghost, who will try and follow in the hoof steps of Wando, the last horse to win both the Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales. That recently-deceased champion wound up sweeping the Canadian Triple Crown in 2003.
For the complete story, visit the TwinSpires blog.
Total handle up, average down at Belmont meet
Total and on-track year-over-year handle increased at the 2015 Belmont Park spring/summer meet which ran 59 days from April 29 to July 19, according to the New York Racing Association.
All-sources handle on NYRA races was $636,621,791, up 7.5 percent from $591,988,056 during 2014's 54-day meet. On-track handle on NYRA races was $88,293,037, up 4.3 percent from $84,626,885 last year.
All-sources average handle declined 1.6 percent, from $10,962,742 to $10,790,200.
Attendance at Belmont Park this spring was 286,432, down 5.3 percent from 302,512 in 2014.
For the 59 days, there were 553 races run in 2015, compared to 509 for 54 days in 2014. Average betting interests per race in 2015 was 7.7 (4,231 total) compared to 7.5 (3,804 total) in 2014.
Thoroughbred Club of America to honor Durkin
Tom Durkin has been selected by the Board of Directors of the Thoroughbred Club of America as the 2015 Honored Guest, Club President Shannon Arvin announced Monday. Durkin will be honored by the Club at its 84th Testimonial Dinner at Keeneland on September 29.
"Every racing fan knows Tom's iconic voice and historic calls," Arvin said. "His contagious excitement for the game and his character have greatly enhanced the racing experience for forty-three years, and we look forward to honoring his career and contributions."
A native of Chicago, Durkin studied drama at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. In 1971, he was hired as a race caller at Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred races at county fairs in Wisconsin, which he did each summer through 1975. The following year he was employed by Daily Racing Form as a call taker responsible for documenting the comments and statistics used in the official charts of the races at Cahokia Downs and Thistledown. Later, Durkin went on to work as a race caller at Florida Downs, Miles Park, Quad City, Balmoral Park, Hialeah Park, Meadowlands, and Gulfstream Park. In 1990 Durkin was hired to call races at the New York Racing Association's Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga. Durkin has called races at more than 50 tracks in six countries.
Tom Durkin is one of horse racing's most identifiable voices. He served as the chief TV voice for the Breeders' Cup, from its inception through 2005. He was a longtime broadcaster on NBC as part of the network's sports casting crew for horse races, providing analysis, commentary and features in addition to the descriptions of races. His work at NBC included coverage of the Triple Crown for a number of years.
Durkin retired in 2014 and, in recognition of his career-long dedication, he was awarded the Eclipse Award of Merit in January 2015. Durkin has continued to serve the industry, as master of ceremonies of various events, including the Hall of Fame inductions, the OwnerView Thoroughbred Owners' Conference, and the Pan American Racing Conference.
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