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MONDAY, JULY 28, 2014

Graded Recaps

Bayern dominates Haskell on front end

Bayern seized command early, delivered the knockout blow in the stretch, and locked up a spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic (Carl J. Sari/Equi-Photo)
Kaleem Shah's Bayern had his Triple Crown trail frustrated by a bruised hoof, but the Bob Baffert colt served notice that he'll be a force to reckon with in the second half of the season with a tour de force in Sunday's Grade 1, $1,030,000 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth. The filly Untapable never got close to the front-running, 7 1/4-length winner, and checked in fifth as the 7-5 favorite.

Bayern was scoring his second straight blowout, having run away with the June 7 Woody Stephens by 7 1/2 lengths in his latest at Belmont Park. But that was a seven-furlong sprint, and he was stretching back out in distance for the 1 1/8-mile Haskell. His emphatic triumph proved that he's just as effective over a route of ground, and secured him a spot in the starting gate for the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita November 1.

Aside from enhancing his personal resume with his first Grade 1 coup, Bayern was also further strengthening his trainer's grip on the Haskell record book. Baffert already owned the record with six Haskell winners, and Bayern makes a magnificent seven, joining the honor roll alongside Point Given (2001), War Emblem (2002), Roman Ruler (2005), Lookin at Lucky (2010), Coil (2011) and Paynter (2012).

"It's so exciting," Baffert said from his Southern California base. "I was hoping he'd be able to get the mile and an eighth. Gary Stevens, after he rode him last time, said 'you have to let him route again. He'll just keep going.' 

Untapable (far left, white marking) got off to a troubled start and wound up fifth (Mark Wyville/Equi-Photo)
"We tried to slow him down in the past, but now we know we just have to utilize his speed. I didn't think he'd do it as devastating as that. It looks like he has it all together now. 

"The only concern is that he needs to break," Baffert said. "There is no Plan B."

Dispatched as the 9-2 second choice, Bayern stamped his authority on the race from the outset. The dark bay broke on top for Martin Garcia, while Untapable bumped with Social Inclusion leaving the gate and found herself in sixth early.

Bayern dictated splits of :23 2/5, :47 3/5 and 1:11 on the fast track. Wildcat Red and Social Inclusion raced in pursuit, but Bayern always appeared to be traveling best. Untapable advanced into fourth on the far turn, but the Steve Asmussen trainee was making hard work of it. Indeed, she didn't inspire much hope of emulating Rachel Alexandra, the former Asmussen star who beat the boys in the 2009 Haskell.

Meanwhile, Bayern was simply running his opponents off their feet. Opening up on the scrappy Wildcat Red and the tiring Social Inclusion entering the stretch, Bayern was three lengths clear at the mile mark in 1:35 2/5. Albano made late headway on the rail to take over second, but couldn't hold a candle to the winner. Bayern stopped the clock in 1:47 4/5 and furnished $11.40 to win.

Wildcat Red salvaged third from Irish You Well, who closed from last to head Untapable for fourth. Just Call Kenny, Social Inclusion, Encryption and a non-threatening Medal Count rounded out the order of finish.

Bayern's romp has forced trainer Bob Baffert to change his original plan of going to the King's Bishop (Bill Denver/Equi-Photo)
"That was real impressive," said Garcia, who tied Craig Perret's record by riding his third Haskell winner. "Obviously, we were going to the lead. I wasn't surprised at how well he ran. He was cruising out there the whole way. He was able to set the fractions on his terms, and when we turned for home, he took off. 

"Going into the race," Garcia added, "I wasn't worried about the filly or anyone. I knew I was on a really good horse. He showed how good he was today." 

Untapable's team cited the troubled start for her performance.

"She didn't get away well at all," Asmussen said, "and was never in position to win the race the way the track was playing today." 

Jockey Rosie Napravnik noted that Untapable's problems began just before the gate opened.

"The horse next to us (Social Inclusion) acted up in the gate, so she got a little fussy and didn't get away well," Napravnik said. "We had the widest trip of everybody; she ran a hell of a race and ran as hard as she could." 

Bayern now brandishes a line of 7-4-1-1, and the $600,000 winner's check made him a millionaire with earnings of $1,077,680. A May 3 foal, he was unraced as a juvenile, and opened his career with a 3 1/4-length score at Santa Anita on January 4. Catapulting himself onto the Kentucky Derby trail with a 15-length rout in a February 13 allowance, he was installed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite for the March 8 San Felipe.

But Bayern had to be scratched from the San Felipe with a foot bruise, leaving California Chrome to make his first major statement on the road to the Derby. Although Bayern was back in time to try the April 12 Arkansas Derby, he looked in need of the race when tiring to a distant third to Danza. Reverting to one turn for the April 26 Derby Trial, he was widely expected to regain the winning thread. Bayern did pass the post first in a gutsy front-running display, only to be disqualified to second for floating Embellishing Bob out across the track in their photo-finish duel.

Martin Garcia has ridden three of Baffert's record seven Haskell winners (Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos)
Bayern proceeded to the Preakness, but never factored after a rough start. He left that debacle well behind next time in the Woody Stephens, and by following up in the Haskell, he has now won two straight by a combined margin of 14 3/4 lengths.

Baffert indicated that he would change his original plan of shortening the colt up to seven furlongs for the King's Bishop on Travers Day, August 23, at Saratoga.

"Before this, I said we were going to the King's Bishop, but I don't think I'll back him up after this," the Hall of Fame trainer said. "I'm so happy for (owner) Kaleem Shah. He has such a passion for racing." 

Bred by Helen Alexander in Kentucky, Bayern brought $320,000 as a two-year-old in training at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May. He was sired by Offlee Wild from the Thunder Gulch mare Alittlebitearly, herself a half-sister to Group 3-winning sire Bertolini; stakes winner Alchemilla; and stakes heroine Amelia, who is in turn the dam of Grade 3 scorers Assateague and Kindergarden Kid as well as He's Had Enough, runner-up in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Bayern's second dam, Grade 2 diva Aquilegia, is a full sister to champion and noted broodmare Althea. Aside from producing four stakes winners, led by Japanese champion Yamanin Paradise, Althea ranks as the ancestress of Grade 1-winning sire Arch; Grade 1 heroines Balletto and Acoma; and U.A.E. Horse of the Year Festival of Light, among others. Aquilegia and Althea are also full sisters to Grade 2 winner Aishah, whose offspring include Grade 1 victress Aldiza and Grade 2 scorer Atelier, and another descendant is current multiple Grade 3 victress Aurelia's Belle.

Bayern's third dam is Broodmare of the Year Courtly Dee. Her other progeny include Grade 1 heroes Ali Oop and Ketoh as well as multiple Grade 2 victor Twining and multiple Grade 3 winner Native Courier. Among her many outstanding descendants is Group 1 star and influential sire Green Desert.

Interestingly, Bayern hails from the extended family of Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero California Chrome. Both descend from Judy-Rae, who is Bayern's fifth dam and California Chrome's seventh dam.

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Big Macher refuses to yield in Bing Crosby

Big Macher and jockey Tyler Baze have proven to be a successful team (Benoit Photos)

It was four across the track rounding the turn in Sunday's Grade 1, $300,500 Bing Crosby at Del Mar, but Big Macher quickly separated himself from the pack before withstanding 3-5 favorite Goldencents' wide rally to post a half-length win under jockey Tyler Baze.

Campaigned by Tachycardia Stables and Tom Mansor, the Beau Genius gelding was the 9-1 fourth pick against six rivals and returned $21.20 to his backers for this second straight graded victory. In addition to the $180,000 winner's share, he earned an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in the fall when finishing six furlongs over the Polytrack in 1:08.82, just off the 1:08.17 track record set by Euroears in 2011.

Pablo Del Monte exploded from the gates to take the lead in the six-furlong sprint, but had plenty of company in the form of Indexical to his inside and Big Macher on the outside through an opening quarter in :22 2/5. Those two, and Seeking the Sherif on the far outside, drew even with Pablo Del Monte entering the turn and raced in tandem for a brief moment.

By the time the quartet had exited the turn, Baze had gone to work on Big Macher and the four-year-old responded with a surge down the lane. Goldencents had bided his time just in behind the front runners on the backstretch and was full of run. Angling out, the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner came flying only to run out of room late in suffering his second straight close second in the race.

It was 1 1/2 lengths behind Goldencents to lightly raced former claimer Seeking the Sherif, who had his four-race win streak snapped in this, his stakes debut. Indexical nosed out Kobe's Back for fourth, while Pablo Del Monte and Declassify completed the order under the wire. Wine Police was withdrawn.

Like Seeking the Sherif, Big Macher is a former claimer. The bay came to trainer Richard Baltas' shedrow following his career debut, a $20,000 maiden claimer, last July at Del Mar. He took three more tries to break his maiden, all in claiming contests, but his 4 3/4-length initial score was good enough to ensure he would take a step up in class for his next start. That came in a state-bred allowance at Hollywood Park, which Big Macher captured by 4 1/2 lengths, and he closed out 2013 with a pair of close placings against open company.

Big Macher scored in his stakes debut while returning to the state-bred ranks for his season opener in the January 25 California Cup Sprint. He moved on to graded rivals in his next two, finishing a half-length second in the San Carlos and getting his nose down on the line to take the Potrero Grande last out on April 12, before being sidelined by a quarter crack.

With a successful return to competition, the California-bred gelding now boasts $496,428 in career earnings to go along with his 11-5-2-2 scorecard.

Bred by Ballena Vista Farm, Big Macher brought $10,000 as a Barretts October yearling. He is the first registered stakes winner out of the unraced Kris S. mare Insight, and comes from the same female family as Grade 1-scoring fillies Flip's Pleasure and Swap Fliparoo. Farther back, this line includes champion Jamestown.

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Valid grinds out first stakes score in Monmouth Cup

Valid edged clear by a half-length for his first career stakes win (Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos)

Crossed Sabres Farm's Valid outdueled Bradester to the wire by a half-length to capture his first stakes in Sunday's Grade 2, $211,000 Monmouth Cup at Monmouth

Valid pressed the pace on the outside as Bradester posted comfortable fractions of :24, :48 1/5 and 1:11 3/5. The Marcus Vitali pupil drew even with the leader around the far turn, putting a head in front as they turned for home. Bradester fought back back on the inside as those two battled it out to the wire, but Valid had more gas in the tank and edged clear in the end.

Bradester took second and was 4 3/4 lengths clear of Pants On Fire in third. Pick of the Litter, 2-1 favorite Long River, Vegas No Show, Sailor's Revenge, Easter Gift and Raging Daoust rounded out the order of finish. Micromanage was scratched.

Valid stopped the teletimer in 1:41 2/5 for the 1 1/16-mile test over the fast main track with Orlando Bocachica up. The four-year-old gelding was sent off as the 4-1 fourth choice on the board and returned $10.80 for the score.

"Orlando (Bocachica) did a great job," Vitali said. "I told him to lay close to the pace, not to get too far behind the leader, and he did just that. My horse really showed up today."

Valid broke his maiden in his second start to close out his two-year-old campaign at Laurel Park. He was off the board in his sophomore and stakes debut in the Withers in February 2013, and did not return to the track until last July where he finished out of the money in an allowance race at Belmont. The dark bay tried the turf against allowance foes in his next four starts, finishing no better than third.

Valid returned to the winners circle in November by way of a 23 1/4-length romp over a sloppy Gulfstream Park track in a race that was taken off the turf, and was runner-up in the Fred Hooper at Calder in his next start the following month. He captured two allowance races to start 2014, was off the board in the Pimlico Special, runner-up in the Mountain View in May and was exiting a third-place finish in the Salvatore Mile here earlier this month. The son of Medaglia d'Oro banked $120,000 to boost his bankroll to $324,282 from a 17-5-3-3 career line.

Bred in Virginia by Edward P. Evans, Valid is out of the stakes winning Grand Slam mare Grand Prayer, who is a half-sister to Grade 1 victor Swagger Jack and Grade 2 scorer Tap Dance. The dark bay is a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Malibu Prayer. His female family also includes Spanish champion and German highweight Silverside.

Valid sold as a yearling for $500,000 at the Keeneland September sale and was resold in 2013 for $115,000 at the Saratoga Fall Mixed And HORA Sale.

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Majestic River clear in Molly Pitcher victory

Majestic River surged to an easy win in the Molly Pitcher (Carl J. Sari/Equi-Photo)

George Bolton, Barry Lipman and Natrona Racing Stable's Majestic River was making her graded debut in Sunday's Grade 2, $203,000 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park, but didn't let that fact stop her from pulling off in the lane to record a 2 1/2-length victory. The Todd Pletcher-trained four-year-old was the near 5-1 fourth choice in the seven-distaffer field and paid $11.80 for her third consecutive win.

Jockey Rosie Napravnik settled Majestic River just outside of 3-2 pacsetting favorite Natalie Victoria as that one set fractions of :24 1/5 and :47 3/5. Montana Native and Zucchini Flower kept each other company in the second flight, while Triple Arch and Lucky Rag Doll did the same in the third bunch down the backstretch as Made Up trailed in last.

Entering the turn Napravnik gave Majestic River her cue, and the A.P. Indy filly responded by drawing even with Natalie Victoria. By the time she entered the stretch Majestic River was in firm command and merely extended her margin from there to cross under the wire in 1:43 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track.

"The race played out perfect," Napravnik said. "I got a great setup and she ran awesome. I had plenty of horse in the stretch."

Montana Native put in a game late run to take second by three parts of a length over Lucky Rag Doll. Zucchini Flower rounded out the superfecta and was followed by Triple Arch, Made Up and Natalie Victoria. Blue Violet and Swinger's Party were both withdrawn.

Majestic River is now 4-0-0 from five starts on the year, having previously captured the Lighthouse and a pair of optional claimers while placing fourth in another optional claimer. Her last pair came at Monmouth after the bay miss opened her four-year-old campaign at Gulfstream Park on February 21.

Majestic River scored in her career debut at Gulfstream in January 2013 before running second against winners one month later. She made just one more start as a sophomore, finishing seventh in her stakes bow in the Sunland Park Oaks, and wouldn't reappear until February back at Gulfstream. Sunday's Molly Pitcher victory bumped her career record to 8-5-1-0 and nearly doubled her lifetime earnings to $253,138.

Bred in Kentucky by Briland Farm and Robert & Stacy Mitchell, Majestic River sold for $425,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected yearling. She is out of the Alphabet Soup mare Tempus Fugit, a Grade 3-placed multiple stakes winner who counts as half-siblings Grade 2-placed Color Me Up and dual stakes-placed Chippewa Trail.

Others of note in Majestic River's female family include Grade 3 victor Spite the Devil and stakes diva Miss Pippa, last seen missing by a head against Grade 2 rivals in November.

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Antipathy captures Shuvee

Antipathy managed to stay relatively clean despite the muddy conditions in her Shuvee win (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Godolphin Racing's Antipathy was a neck third when making her stakes bow in the Ogden Phipps last out at Belmont Park, but on Sunday the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee held on to take the Grade 3, $200,000 Shuvee Handicap at Saratoga by two lengths in just her second stakes try. The A.P. Indy four-year-old had jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard as she finished 1 1/8 miles over the Spa's muddy, sealed main track in 1:52 4/5.

"It was a great performance. Team McLaughlin needed a win; we haven't run that many live ones. We were real happy to get a win," McLaughlin said. "She's a well-bred filly for Godolphin, and now she has a Grade 3 win to go along with a Grade 1-placing. I thought she ran very well.

"We weren't worried about (the nine furlongs) because she's by A.P. Indy," he added. "She's just gotten good, she's improved a lot, and if you look back at the allowance races she lost, two nice fillies beat us. She's improving and we're very happy to get a Grade 3 win."

Antipathy burst from the gates and onto the lead, but Swinger's Party was determined to set the pace. Charging up Antipathy's inside, that dark bay filly took over through an opening quarter in :23 3/5 and a half-mile in :47 3/5 as Ortiz settled his mount just off the rail in second. Unlimited Budget was keeping in close contact running off of Antipathy's flank while the rest of the field was strung out behind.

Swinger's Party couldn't maintain her hold on the front and started backing up nearing the turn as Antipathy and Unlimited Budget both swept on by. Antipathy regained command and slogged through the drying out stretch as Stanwyck and Hot Stones gave chase. Stanwyck put in what looked like a winning move but suddenly flattened out, taking second by 1 1/4 lengths over Hot Stones after angling toward the inside in the final yards.

Ambusher came next and completing the order under the wire were 2-1 favorite Flashy American, Unlimited Budget and Swinger's Party.

"I just tried to follow the instruction of the trainer. He just told me to ride your own race," Ortiz explained. "On paper it looked like we were the only speed in the race but (Swinger's Party) wanted to go, so I let her go.

No one could catch Antipathy as she earned her first stakes victory in style (NYRA/Adam Mooshian/Adam Coglianese Photography)

"My filly was ready today. Everybody did a great job, the whole team at the barn. I was comfortable. I had a perfect trip. The trainer told me I had the horse. I let her run a little bit and I held my position the whole time. In the last part I didn't want to be too close to the rail. You can see when I get to the last turn I didn't want to be too close to the rail so I let her drift a little bit to get to the better ground."

"Perfect trip," stated jockey Joel Rosario, rider of Stanwyck. "I made a little move on the turn and I thought maybe we were going to get some more. We were probably second best today."

Antipathy paid $6.40 as the 2-1 second choice and improved her career mark to 9-3-3-2, $316,784. The bay lass debuted at Saratoga last September, running fifth on that occasion, then took two more tries at Gulfstream Park to break her maiden. She followed up with a third in an optional claimer at that Florida track in March and wouldn't reappear until taking a similar contest on January 31.

A pair of seconds, over Aqueduct's inner and Belmont Park's main, came during the spring, and Antipathy finally tried stakes rivals for the first time when entered in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps last out. She reputed herself very well, running third that day behind multiple Grade 1 stars Close Hatches and Princess of Sylmar, and was set up for this first career stakes score in the Shuvee.

"We were pointing to (the Shuvee) for so long I wasn't sure what's next, but we might go to (the Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign on August 22)," McLaughlin commented about what's next for Antipathy.

The Darley Kentucky-bred is out of the unraced Mr. Prospector mare Love Style, making her a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire and sire Scat Daddy as well as stakes victor Grand Daddy. The trio's second dam is Grade 1 heroine Likeable Style, who is also the grandam of Grade 2 scorer Old Time Hockey.

This black-type rich female family also includes Grade 1 winners Bundler, Quack, Sweet Talker, Include Me Out and Check the Label.

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Guys Reward denies Fredericksburg in Oceanport

Fredericksburg (inside) won the pace battle but lost the war to the closer Guys Reward (Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos)
Michael J. Bruder's Guys Reward mowed down gallant front runner Fredericksburg in Sunday's Grade 3, $170,000 Oceanport Stakes at Monmouth, notching his fourth career stakes victory. The seven-year-old veteran was most recently third in the Firecracker at Churchill Downs to Silver Max, the runaway winner of the 2013 Oceanport.

Guys Reward was dispatched as the 9-2 second choice, with 2-1 favoritism going to the repatriated Mshawish in his U.S. debut. But the favorite didn't receive the best of trips, while Guys Reward enjoyed a textbook passage courtesy of Paco Lopez.

Fredericksburg bounded out to the early lead, prompted by Slim Shadey through an opening quarter in :24 3/5. Mshawish, who was near the back of the pack passing the stands for the first time, hustled up and passed most of the field rounding the clubhouse turn. A rank Joe Tess also pulled his way forward, and along with Mshawish, joined Fredericksburg and Slim Shadey to make it a line of four abreast at the half in :48 3/5.

Mshawish couldn't sustain his momentum, however, as they continued down the backstretch, and he ultimately retreated. Joe Tess also conceded to the top two, and Fredericksburg and Slim Shadey pulled away.

Although Slim Shadey matched strides with the longtime leader through six furlongs in 1:10 3/5, Fredericksburg repelled his pace nemesis at the top of the lane and edged clear. But after running the gauntlet of early challengers, he was about to face a much tougher opponent with fresher legs.

Guys Reward, who had been settled off the pace, improved his position riding the rail on the far turn, and peeled out to offer his bid in the stretch. As the Dale Romans charge collared the pacesetter, Fredericksburg tried to fight back. But Guys Reward would not allow him to reclaim the advantage. One length on top at the wire, Guys Reward negotiated 1 1/16 firm-turf miles in 1:40 2/5 and paid $11.20 to win.

"I thought he was waiting a little closer than he usually does," Romans said. "But it looked like he needed to. He's just a good, old hard campaigner. When the horse is right, he gives you his all, and he did that today." 

Under Control got up for third, and Michael With Us rallied for fourth. Next came Slim Shadey, Mshawish, Change of Command, Lochte, Shkspeare Shaliyah and Joe Tess.

Guys Reward has compiled a record of 46-9-5-11, $777,709. In addition to wins in the 2012 Opening Verse and Firecracker as well as the February 1 Tampa Bay, the son of Grand Reward has placed in seven stakes -- the off-the-turf Cradle as a juvenile in 2009; the 2010 American Turf, Transylvania and Commonwealth Turf; the 2011 Louisville Handicap, where he was beaten all of a head in third; the 2012 Ben Ali over Keeneland's Polytrack, winding up a distant third behind track-record setting Wise Dan; and his aforementioned third in the June 28 Firecracker.

Two starts back, he was fourth to Speaking of Which in the June 8 Monmouth, which has turned out to be a key race in the turf division. Monmouth runner-up Hangover Kid went on to capture the Bowling Green, and also-rans Finnegans Wake and Admiral Kitten ran one-two in the Arlington Handicap.

Bred by Haymarket Farm in Kentucky, Guys Reward was twice led out unsold at Keeneland. He RNA'd for $14,000 as a November weanling and again for $27,000 as a yearling the following September. The dark bay was produced by the Mr. Greeley mare Beach View, and although there's little black type of note under his first three dams, he descends from the high-profile family of European champion and leading sire Giant's Causeway. The family has been in the news in Europe this summer as well, thanks to Marvellous' victory in the Irish One Thousand Guineas and well-regarded juvenile Gleneagles scoring in the Tyros.

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Starstruck repeats in Matchmaker

Starstruck has scored both of her stakes victories in the Matchmaker (Bill Denver/Equi-Photo)
Calumet Farm's Starstruck had gone winless since last year's Grade 3, $170,000 Matchmaker Stakes, but a return to Monmouth for a title defense on Sunday brought out in the best in the daughter of Galileo. Trained by Larry Jones and piloted by Kerwin Clark, five-year-old burst between foes and kicked 1 1/4 lengths clear.

Starstruck, the 5-1 fourth choice, was rebounding from a scary incident in the July 5 Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park. In the thick of contention in the stretch, she was caught in tight quarters, clipped heels, and lost all chance. Starstruck reported home ninth, but was moved up to eighth via disqualification. She didn't have a straw in her path in the Matchmaker.

After a sharp start, Clark eased Starstruck back into a midpack position on the inside. Nashly's Vow turned on her customary speed to establish fractions of :24 and :47 1/5 on the firm turf. She's Not Lazy and Irish Mission accosted the pacesetter rounding the far turn in 1:10 4/5, and they battled into the stretch.

Starstruck, who had been creeping closer, exploited a huge seam that opened up between the fading Nashly's Vow and She's Not Lazy. Charging through the gap, she drew alongside Irish Mission and quickly put her away to complete 1 1/8 grassy miles in 1:46 1/5.

"I've been watching the races all day," Clark said, "and speed looked like it's been holding on turf, so I wanted to be as close as possible without using her. Around the turn, I wasn't sure if we'd be able to get through and I was just hoping it would split open. It did, and she ran well." 

Irish Mission took runner-up honors by 1 1/4 lengths from 9-5 favorite Watsdachances, who closed late for third.

The top three finishers receive stallion seasons from sponsor WinStar Farm, with the stallions being 2012 Haskell hero Paynter, Artie Schiller and Drosselmeyer.

She's Not Lazy ended up fourth, followed by Emotional Kitten, who made a big move from last while wide on the far turn before flattening out; Primed for Passion; Medea; Nashly's Vow; Dido; and Lady Aspen. Parting Kiss was scratched.

Starstruck returned $13 to win and boosted her own bankroll to $265,380 from her 18-4-2-3 line. Bred in Ireland by the late Mrs. C.L. Weld, and originally trained by Dermot Weld, Starstruck did not appear on the racecourse until her sophomore season in 2012. The chestnut took six tries to break her maiden, finally accomplishing that in a handicap over Dundalk's Polytrack. She next stepped up to stakes company in the Carlingford at the same course and about 1 5/16-mile trip and checked in a creditable fourth.

Subsequently acquired by Calumet, the chestnut made her first start in the United States last year in an allowance at Churchill Downs, winning by 5 1/4 lengths. Her two ensuing starts likewise came on the Churchill turf, where she placed twice versus similar before her breakthrough in the 2013 Matchmaker. Starstruck rounded out her campaign with a pair of fourths in the Rodeo Drive at Santa Anita and the Cardinal back at Churchill.

Over the winter at Fair Grounds, Starstruck finished third in both the January 18 Marie Krantz Memorial and the February 22 Bayou Handicaps. She was an uncharacteristic fifth, beaten 11 lengths by Somali Lemonade and Watsdachances, in the May 17 Gallorette at Pimlico in her start prior to her mishap at Delaware.

Starstruck was sold for $141,363 as a yearling at Tattersalls October. She is out of English highweight Agnetha, who ranked as the top three-year-old filly sprinter of 2002 on the strength of her victory in the King George at Goodwood. Agnetha is a full sister to German highweight sprinter and sire Areion as well as Irish Group 3-placed stakes scorer Anna Frid.

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Racing Headlines

Tonalist, Kid Cruz Travers bound after Jim Dandy placings

Belmont Stakes hero Tonalist "came back in good order; a touch stiff, but not bad," trainer Christophe Clement said Sunday morning, one day after his Tapit pupil ran second in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga. The bay colt will now turn his attention to the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 23 at the Spa.

Tonalist was beaten 2 1/4 lengths in the Jim Dandy by Wicked Strong after traveling three wide on the first turn and four wide into the lane. He was also brushed slightly by the winner at the top of the stretch.

"He was second best yesterday with the trip that he had," Clement had. "Wicked Strong ran a really nice race, and we live to fight another day. We will do everything we can to be back in the Travers.

"The main thing is to focus on the future. We've got four weeks. We've got two breezes, and we will do everything we can to have him at his best on Travers Day. He will walk today, walk tomorrow; then he will go back to the track Tuesday morning."

Trainer Linda Rice said Grade 3 winner Kid Cruz emerged from his third-place finish in Saturday's Jim Dandy in good order and will be pointed to a rematch with the winner and runner-up in the Travers.

Kid Cruz's sire, Lemon Drop Kid, won the 1999 Travers after finishing second in the Jim Dandy. Under Irad Ortiz Jr., Kid Cruz was beaten six lengths on Saturday off a three-quarter length victory in the Dwyer on July 5.

"He came out of it good," Rice said. "It was kind of an odd trip for him. I was pretty worried on the backside; it looked like he was going the wrong way, but he regrouped and Irad got him running the right way. He made up a lot of ground and came out of the race well, so I think we can move on to the Travers and hopefully have a better trip and a better finish."

The normally late-running Kid Cruz broke on top from post 5 and uncharacteristically was up close to the pace early before dropping back. Ortiz steered Kid Cruz five wide into the stretch and set his sights on the two front-runners, finishing 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve.

"I would have rather he laid off of it and made one big run. It was kind of an ugly race," Rice remarked. "He kind of got sandwiched on the turn and (Ortiz) was having to ask him to be there, anyway; then he went the wrong way on us. It was kind of an ugly trip, but the horse gathered himself back up and was running at the end.

"It says a lot (about him). He's a nice horse. Frankly, if that happens to most horses they're going to trail the field and run last. I think this allows us to move into the Travers. I think that's what we were really looking for. I was hoping for a closing second, beaten a length and a half, but it is what it is. If we're going to have a trip that doesn't work out, I'm glad it was in the Jim Dandy and not the Travers."

Ten of the past 16 Travers winners have come out of the Jim Dandy, including Lemon Drop Kid, Unshaded (2000) and Afleet Express (2010), who each ran third. Afleet Express was trained by Jimmy Jerkens, who also handles Wicked Strong.

Rice would become the fifth female trainer since 1978 to start a horse in the Travers, following Dianne Carpenter, sixth with Kingpost in 1988; Kathy Henry, seventh with Ridan Clarion in 1984; Kathy O'Connell, fourth with Blazing Sword in 1997; and Helen Pitts, whose 2007 entrant For You Reppo was eased in the stretch.

Kid Cruz won the Easy Goer and Dwyer a month apart heading into the Jim Dandy, and also captured the Federico Tesio and Private Terms in Maryland before a disappointing eighth in the May 17 Preakness Stakes. Rice had also considered the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer on August 2 but opted to stay at home.

"I thought there was a lot of risk in running him back in three weeks. He's supposed to 'bounce' and not move forward," she said. "But to train straight into the Travers, that wasn't very appealing to me, either. I don't think you can train the seven weeks and expect to win.

"The other option was in West Virginia, and then we're too close to the Travers. All in all, I wish things had unfolded differently, but if we're going to have things go poorly, better in the Jim Dandy than a month from now."

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Vyjack reverts to sprinting for Vanderbilt

Grade 2 victor Vyjack could be a handful in his next start if his morning works are any indication.

Vyjack has fired two consecutive bullet works since arriving at Saratoga, including a half-mile in :47 on July 18, the fastest of 76 horses. Most recently, he went five furlongs in :59 under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. on July 25, ranking first of 31 horses.

"We put him in company," trainer Rudy Rodriguez said of the Saratoga works. "We've been running long, so we tried to sharpen him up a little bit. Hopefully we can come back and give him another nice three-eighths. I'm trying to work like (Hall of Fame trainer Bob) Baffert now. Hopefully, it works."

Last seen being eased in the July 5 Suburban Handicap going 1 1/4 miles, the four-year-old Into Mischief gelding is being pointed to the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on the undercard of Saturday's Grade 1, $1.5 million Whitney at the Spa.

It will mark Vyjack's fourth time sprinting in 12 career starts and first at six furlongs. He opened his career in the fall of 2012 with victories at 6 1/2 and seven furlongs, and began the 2014 campaign with a seven-furlong optional claiming triumph at Aqueduct on April 27.

"We're going to shorten him up and, hopefully, that works for us," Rodriguez said. "We don't lose anything by trying."

Vyjack opened his sophomore season by winning the Jerome and Gotham before running a narrow third in the Wood Memorial. Failed attempts in the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and Haskell Invitational followed, and he was put away until this year.

"He's got a lot of talent, for sure," Rodriguez asserted. "We checked him out up and down. We brought a couple of doctors in here and everything was good. He's doing very good; we're just disappointed in the way he's running.

"It was a no-brainer. It's not working out going long. If he runs good, there's time to get him back for the end of the meet (in the Grade 1, $500,000 Forego on August 30). We're trying, because he's working very, very good."

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Far-flung field shaping up for Pacific Classic

Prospects are being projected from far and near for the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic on August 24 at Del Mar. Saturday's San Diego Handicap may generate as many as four, while those who passed on the San Diego but are being trained with the Classic in mind continue to make progress.

Fed Biz, Footbridge, You Know I Know and Frac Daddy -- the respective top-four finishers in Saturday's San Diego Handicap -- came out of the race in good shape and with possibilities of moving on to the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic over Del Mar's Polytrack.

"We're looking to get a Grade 1 (win) for him," trainer Bob Baffert said of Fed Biz following the 5 1/4-length victory in track record time of 1:41.00 for 1 1/16 miles. It bettered Zenyatta's 1:41.48 in the 2008 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, the first of her three straight wins in that event.

Reminded that the Pacific Classic fit the Grade 1 profile, Baffert said, "I know, but there are lots of Grade 1s, all over the country."

Eoin Harty, who trains Footbridge for Godolphin Racing, said he was happy with and not surprised by the performance from the four-year-old son of Street Cry, who went off at odds of 25-1.

"He's been running well out here and I was surprised he was such a long shot," Harty said. "If everything goes well and he stays together, we'll come back in the Pacific Classic."

Trainer John Sadler noted that You Know I Know did well to close strongly on a track that favored speed. The horseman indicated You Know I Know will run again at the meeting and the Pacific Classic will be a race to consider.

Blake Heap, who deputized for Kenny McPeek and saddled Frac Daddy, said that the horse's connections were "leaning toward" keeping the horse at Del Mar and trying again in the Classic.

Peter Miller took over the lead in the Del Mar training stands with two wins on Saturday, and one those winners could show up in the Pacific Classic next out. Big Cazanova captured the 7TH, one race before the San Diego, in a track record 1:34.74 for a mile.

"Big Cazanova ran great," Miller said. "I would have liked to have seen him in the San Diego Handicap. That would have been a helluva race. A new track record and we're going to think about the Pacific Classic for him.

"The meet has been going good for us. We'll keep working and try to keep it going."

A number of Pacific Classic hopefuls took to the track this week in preparation for the race.

Majestic Harbor, a romping victor of the the Gold Cup at Santa Anita last out, clocked five furlongs in :59 2/5 Sunday morning at Del Mar.

"Everything went well and he's still right on schedule (for the race)," trainer Sean McCarthy said.

Defending Pacific Classic champion Game On Dude turned a half-mile in :48 on Friday and received a rare, from California clockers, "breezing" description.

Dual Grade 2 victor Clubhouse Ride produced a seven-furlong bullet move in 1:24 4/5 on Friday, which delighted trainer Craig Lewis and likely moved the Pacific Classic to the top of a list of options for the Gold Cup runner-up.

Unbeaten champion Shared Belief, who just returned to action with an easy win in the Los Alamitos Derby last out, traveled five-eighths in 1:02 1/5 on Wednesday over Golden Gate Fields' synthetic Tapeta.

Grade 2 scorer Candy Boy, considered possible for the Pacific Classic, recorded three-quarters in 1:13 on Saturday for Sadler. Another possible, Grade 2 hero Zivo who is riding a six-race win streak, was caught in 1:00 over Belmont Park's fast main track on Saturday.

Toast of New York, winner of the U.A.E. Derby, and Cat O'Mountain, third in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan, will ship in for the Pacific Classic, Cindy Niemetz of the International Racing Bureau reported.

If Toast of New York goes in the race, it will actually be his second stateside start. The Jamie Osborne-trained sophomore son of Thewayyouare shipped shipped to Belmont Park for the July 5 Belmont Derby Invitational and finished fourth, beaten 5 1/4 lengths. Toast of New York is scheduled to be flown in to Los Angeles International Airport on August 16 and, after passing through quarantine, arrive at Del Mar on the 18th and go out on the track a day later.

Cat O'Mountain has made four starts on the all-weather surface at Kempton in England and four on the synthetic surface at Meydan. The Street Cry four-year-old, who is trained by Charles Appleby, will ship in following an August 6 workout at Kempton. Appleby made an impression at last year's Breeders' Cup when he trained Outstrip to win the Juvenile Turf with Mike Smith aboard.

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Hennig: Merry Meadow 'just tries hard, every day'

Between 2000 and 2003, Gold Mover won six graded stakes for trainer Mark Hennig but largely raced in the shadow of fellow Edward P. Evans homebred stablemates Raging Fever and Summer Colony, both Grade 1 winners.

More than a decade later, Hennig has another hard-knocking filly in Merry Meadow, a contender in Monday's Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss for female sprinters at six furlongs.

The four-year-old daughter of multiple Grade 1-winning sprinter Henny Hughes has been worse than third only twice in 21 lifetime starts with more than $458,000 in purses earnings and five wins, including the Vagrancy Handicap on May 17 at Belmont Park.

In her subsequent start, Merry Meadow got nailed at the wire of the seven-furlong Bed o' Roses Handicap on June 21, losing to Hot Stones by a nose.

"She ran her heart out," Hennig said. "She's a filly that's on the improve, and she's really improved from a year ago when she finally broke her maiden after a lot of tries. I think seven-eighths is right at the edge of what she doesn't want to do. She ran as well as she could and we were happy with it. A little turnback in distance here hopefully will help. I think 6 1/2 furlongs is the optimum distance for her."

Hennig has drawn comparisons between Merry Meadow and Gold Mover, winner of the 2000 Schuylerville at Saratoga and back-to-back editions of the Princess Rooney, all Grade 2 contests at the time.

"You get some horses that always seem to run to the competition. She's one of those horses," Hennig said of Merry Meadow. "While she was trying to break her maiden, she was running against some nice fillies. She would run as hard as she could and it didn't matter. You'd think, 'She's in tough this week,' and she'd be second again.

"I think as she moves through her conditions, she just seems to run to the level. She's always going to put out. She's always going to try hard. When I had all those good fillies, I always described Gold Mover as the blue-collar girl. This filly is the same way. She just tries hard, every day. Whether it's morning or afternoon, she's going to put a lot of effort into it. Those kinds make our job easier."

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Del Mar transfers Sunday's turf races to Polytrack

After three horses were euthanized due to injuries sustained on Del Mar's new turf course over the past couple of days, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club President Joe Harper announced late Saturday that Sunday's turf races would be moved to the Polytrack.

The two races that will switch surfaces are the $150,000 California Dreamin' Handicap, carded as the 5TH, and the 9TH, an allowance/optional claimer. Both were originally scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on turf.

On Friday, the filly Yes She's Unusual broke down in the 6TH race, a five-furlong turf sprint, causing a chain reaction that involved three other horses. Her rider, Brice Blanc, was transported to Scripps La Jolla Hospital but was later released with minor injuries. Drayden Van Dyke and Tyler Baze, who were unseated in the melee, were unhurt. Yes She's Unusual, sadly, had to be euthanized. There was another fatality in Friday's feature, the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap, but that was on the Polytrack. Longview Drive was the runner who did not survive his injury.

On Saturday, Van Dyke was aboard Lil Swiss Echo when she broke down in the 5TH race, a 1 1/16-mile turf event. The mare was euthanized. Van Dyke was transported to Scripps for evaluation, but again was fortunate to escape relatively unscathed.

A third tragic incident on the turf occurred in the 9TH race, also at 1 1/16 miles, when J Kat was pulled up with what turned out to be fatal injuries.

Del Mar took to Twitter Saturday to comment on the rash of fatal injuries on the turf course, which was revamped and relaid with new sod ahead of the meet that just began on July 17.

"As a company formed around our love for horses, we are deeply saddened by recent events. Our #1 priority is our athletes - equine & human," the tweet read.

Social media was already ablaze with reaction to the equine deaths.

Shea Leparoux, retired trainer Mike Mitchell's daughter, tweeted that turf star Obviously would not be risked on an unsafe course.

"The turf at #delmar isn't good. Hopefully it changes before the Del Mar Mile or we don't run with Obviously," she posted.

Obviously has won the last two runnings of the Del Mar Mile, including a course-record 1:32.10 in 2012.

According to Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman, Harper said that the rail on the turf would be moved and the course would be aerated.

Before news of the cancellation of Sunday's turf racing, Ray Paulick reported that turf works were already called off for Sunday morning, according to a trainer.

Del Mar issued the following release after racing on Saturday:

"Del Mar is deeply saddened by the loss of Thoroughbred lives we have experienced at the track since the start of our season. Four of those losses have come on our new turf course. Despite that, we continue to have the utmost confidence in the course, as do our partners in this race meet -- the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Thoroughbred Trainers, the Jockeys' Guild and the California Horse Racing Board -- all of whom have expressed that confidence to us today.

"Nonetheless, as a precautionary measure, Del Mar will shift the two turf races scheduled for Sunday's card off the course and run them instead on our main track. Additionally, we will move up scheduled maintenance on the turf course to Saturday evening instead of the Sunday evening schedule that had been planned. The entire course will be aerated and watered starting on Sunday. Track crews will work on it for the next three days and, in the end, reposition the inner rail at the 18-foot position.

"Track officials feel that they are adjusting on the side of caution with these moves. They are meant to give all parties involved -- riders, trainers, owners and fans -- assurance that everything possible is being done to ensure the track's first priority, which is safety of horses and riders. Those same officials feel strongly that when racing resumes on Wednesday, the turf course will perform in a positive fashion."

La Verdad looking to withstand speed duel in Honorable Miss

La Verdad scorched to a facile victory in the Distaff Handicap in April (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

The New York-bred La Verdad has used her awesome speed to overwhelm her competition in winning nine of 11 career starts. Her talent for doing so will be put to the test on Monday at Saratoga when she heads a field of seven in the Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap over six furlongs.

The daughter of Yes It's True turned in a breakout performance against open company with a 3 3/4-length romp in the Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct in mid-April, and has since captured her third and fourth stakes wins in succession, against state-bred foes, in the $200,000 Critical Eye and $95,000 Dancin Renee. Only in the Critical Eye, when she came under pressure late attempting to last a mile, have things gotten dicey for the Linda Rice trainee.

La Verdad breaks from post 1 and figures to be under the gun from the start. R Free Roll, who invades from Florida, enters off back-to-back stakes wins at Gulfstream and Calder, and proved herself capable in graded stakes company last December when a close second in the Sugar Swirl.

Also likely to show early foot, but perhaps not classy enough to take it all, is Red Velvet, the lone three-year-old in the lineup. An easy winner of the $100,000 Jersey Girl two back, the daughter of City Zip was a weakening fourth in the Victory Ride last time.

Among those who would appreciate a pace meltdown are Merry Meadow, a stalk-and-pounce winner of the Vagrancy Handicap two back and second by a nose in the Bed o' Roses Handicap last time. My Wandy's Girl, who wore down La Verdad in the seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel in February, is another who would appreciate the speed coming back to her. She was most recently a close third in the one-mile Ruffian Handicap at Belmont.

Speedinthruthecity, a winner in three of her last four including the Carousel at Oaklawn and the Roxelana at Churchill Downs, is another who will be coming from off the pace. The field is rounded out by Calistoga, four lengths third in the Bed o' Roses after hitting the gate at the start.

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Ami's Holiday likely choice in Prince of Wales

Ami's Holiday, who overcame post 15 to finish a rallying second to the filly Lexie Lou in the July 6 Queen's Plate, is the likely favorite to secure the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the C$500,000 Prince of Wales at Fort Erie, early Tuesday evening.

The 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales is the only leg of the Canadian classics, restricted to three-year-olds bred in Canada, contested on dirt. With most of the country's major main track races run over Polytrack at Woodbine, several of the main contenders, including Ami's Holiday, will be making their debut on the surface.

Winner of his first two starts as a juvenile, including a Grade 3 score in the Grey, Ami's Holiday has earned checks in each of his first three outings this term. Preceding his second in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, where he finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Lexie Lou, were a fourth in the Lexington at Keeneland and a second, beaten a neck, in the Marine at Woodbine.

Three other Queen's Plate also-rans are in the Prince of Wales field. Seventh-place finisher Matador, who captured the Cup & Saucer on turf last season, competed without success last winter in Florida, missing the board in such American classic preps as the Florida Derby, Tampa Bay Derby, and Sam F. Davis.

Coltimus Prime, runner-up by a neck in the Display last term, fared poorly in two U.S. starts last winter, but captured an allowance at Woodbine prior to a fading ninth-place effort in the Queen's Plate. Lions Bay, sixth in the Queen's Plate in his stakes debut, is a veteran of only four starts and has room for progression.

Other leading candidates include a pair who both broke their maiden over dirt at Parx. Lynx, who graduated on May 25 by three lengths, subsequently finished a distant third to Albano in the Pegasus at Monmouth Park. Rhythm Blues has been successful in attempting his first allowance condition at Woodbine recently, but might appreciate the return to dirt.

The field is rounded out by dual allowance winner Money Talks; East Side, a maiden winner in his third attempt at Woodbine on June 13; and the maidens Ascot Martin and Smart Spree.

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In brief

Maria Thornton earned her first career win with just her third mount (Photo courtesy of Arlington)

Jockey Maria Thornton won the first race of her career in the 2ND race Sunday at Arlington when she guided Stephensclassygal (Stephen Got Even) to a 6 1/4-length victory for trainer Scott Mullins in the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack affair. The 25-year-old Thornton, younger sister of Arlington veteran Tim Thornton, accepted her first mount on July 24 and was riding in just her third race when she broke her maiden. "It feels great (to win). It was very unexpected," Maria Thornton said. "There's no feeling like it -- none at all. You get chills like crazy. Tim told me it was 13 (rides before he won) but this was just my third one." Though she only recently took out her license, Maria Thornton has been working horses in the morning over the last year and credits conditioners John Haran, Frank Kirby, Moises Yanez and Mike Stidham -- in addition to Mullins -- for helping her get to this point. Since just prior to the meet, she had been under the employ of Stidham in the mornings, working many of his quality horses...

On the morning after The Big Beast (Yes It's True) impressively won an allowance and eclipsed Amsterdam (G2) winner Coup de Grace's (Tapit) BRIS Speed rating, earning a 102 versus a 99 for Coup de Grace, trainer Tony Dutrow spoke philosophically about the opportunity cost of having chosen the easier spot for his lightly raced colt. The Big Beast, exiting a 4 1/4-length maiden score on June 8 at Belmont in his third start, went straight to the lead on Saturday and extended his advantage at every call, drawing clear under a drive to win by 6 1/4 lengths. "I don't know if I made the right decision," said Dutrow, who trains the sophomore for Alex and JoAnn Lieblong. "We may have run lights out in the Amsterdam. When you think your horse is really, really good, you want these races to count. We won the Sanford (G3) with (Big Trouble coming out of) a maiden race. I could have taken him to Delaware or Philadelphia, or someplace else easier, but I thought he was sitting on a good race, and, if he was, I wanted it to count." Dutrow ultimately came to the conclusion he had chosen the correct path for The Big Beast, who will now target the King's Bishop (G1), a seven-furlong race for three-year-olds on August 23. "I don't know if we made a mistake or not," Dutrow said, "but we did feel like our horse was going to run good. Usually when they are sitting on a good one, I want to make those races count. I just felt like going from a maiden win with a horse who wasn't all there yet mentally, I thought another seasoning would be really good."...

Saratoga has been kind to Palace Dreams (Freud), who on Saturday improved her record at the Spa to 2-0-1 in three starts with a front-running one-length win in a second-level optional claimer for New York-bred fillies and mares. The win was a pleasant surprise to trainer David Duggan as Palace Dreams hadn't raced since finishing second at the same level in November at Aqueduct. "I had concerns about fitness coming in here, and she put them to rest afterwards," Duggan said. "She's obviously a very good filly. This race was basically just to get her back to the races to see what we had as a four-year-old, and I'm happy with her run." Last year at Saratoga, Palace Dreams, who is owned by former Suffolk Downs chairwoman Patricia Moseley, cleared the first allowance condition on opening weekend before finishing third in the Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Series in August. She was eighth at Belmont in September before her season finale at Aqueduct. Like her win at Saratoga a year ago, Palace Dreams' victory on Saturday came in gate-to-wire fashion. "She had an easy lead," Duggan said. "Nobody took her on, and it was a huge advantage." Duggan said he will determine Palace Dreams' next start at a later date...

Hernandez Racing Club's multiple Illinois champion La Tia (City Place) took her show on the road and dominated the Ontario Matron (Can-G3) at Woodbine on Saturday. One race after disappointing as the favorite in the rained-off turf and weather-stricken Lincoln Heritage H. at Arlington, the dark bay five-year-old went wire-to-wire in a snappy, near-track record 1:42.70 under Justin Stein. "She's riding back with me now and she's very happy," trainer Armando De La Cerda said on Sunday morning. "She looks great. She was nice and relaxed, the jockey didn't even use the stick and she almost broke the track record. She really didn't like the paddock last time and everything that happened with the weather -- it really bothered her. This time she was hyper and feeling good in the paddock -- it was hard to put on her saddle. I'm really happy with the race." A winner of eight races in 19 starts -- including three Grade 3 contests -- the impressive victory could mean a step up in class. "We'll see what happens and how she feels coming out of the race," De La Cerda said. "We'll look at a race in Canada and maybe go back to the (August 16) Beverly D." Last year, the earner of $620,656 was a respectable fifth in the Grade 1, $750,000 centerpiece for turf fillies and mares...

Lael Stables' Ageless (Successful Appeal) captured her third stakes in a row in Sunday's $142,111 Royal North S. (Can-G3) at Woodbine, tying a track record in the process. The five-year-old mare crossed the wire in 1:07.39 going six furlongs on the firm turf and now shares the track record with Starticus (Atticus), who ran the same time back in 2008. The Arnaud Delacour trainee settled in midpack, ran down the pacesetter a sixteenth out and held on for a half-length victory as the 5-2 favorite. "She loved this course, it's very flat like Laurel," jockey Luis Garcia said of the mare's home course. "If you know how to wait with her, that stretch run is perfect for her. If I went earlier it would have been too long, so I tried to wait for as long as I could before I asked her to punch." Ageless was entering in here off wins in the Giants Causeway S. at Keeneland in April and The Very One S. at Pimlico in May. The bay grabbed $83,214 for her third stakes victory to increase her lifetime earnings to $348,154 from a line of 14-8-2-2...

West Point Thoroughbreds' Rock Me Baby (Rock Hard Ten) earned his first stakes victory on Sunday when taking the $150,500 California Dream' H. at Del Mar by 3 1/4 lengths as the 2-1 favorite. The Craig Dollase-trained five-year-old bided his time in midpack under jockey Corey Nakatani before putting in a three-wide bid to take over rounding the second turn and drawing off to finish 1 1/16 Polytrack miles in 1:42 4/5. The dark bay gelding improved on his head second in this contest last year, and was exiting a third-place effort in the Bertrando last out on July 3. Rock Me Baby also finished second in the Tiznow last season and now boasts $361,802 in career earnings to go along with a 15-6-4-2 mark...

New Farm's homebred Rainbow Heir (Wildcat Heir) won his second career stakes in Sunday's $130,000 Teddy Drone S. at Monmouth Park. The Benjamin  Perkins Jr. trainee claimed the lead at the top of the stretch and drew clear from his rivals to prevail by 3 1/2 lengths. The four-year-old colt covered six furlongs in 1:09 over the fast main track with Angel Serpa up. The chestnut was exiting a win in an allowance race for state-breds over the track last month. He has a career line which reads 10-6-0-1, $281,010...

Lucky Lion (High Chaparral), best of the rest behind the imperious Sea the Moon (Sea the Stars) in the July 6 Deutsches Derby (Ger-G1), paid him quite a compliment when defeating older Group 1 winner Noble Mission (Galileo) in Sunday's Grosser Preis von Bayerisches Zuchtrennen (Ger-G1). Springing to prominence when winning Krefeld's Dr Busch Memorial (Ger-G3) over 8 1/2 furlongs April 27, Lucky Lion registered a commanding success in the Mehl Mulhens-Rennen (Ger-G2), known as Germany's Two Thousand Guineas, over a mile at Cologne May 18. That he was beaten 11 lengths by Sea the Moon when second at Hamburg  is either testament to the freak ability of that rival or suggestion that he found the 12 furlongs too far. He won his race on the far side only to lose out overall as the errant winner found the stands' rail, and connections will have been relieved that he faced nothing of that ilk here, with the visiting Noble Mission forced to give away 10 pounds due to weight-for-age. Keen early racing in mid-division as Noble Mission, Frankel's brother, gradually worked his way to the front from his wide draw, Lucky Lion was shaken up by Ioritz Mendizabal at the top of the stretch as James Doyle sent the Juddmonte homebred into what looked a decisive lead. Game in pursuit, it was only in the last 50 yards that the three-year-old was able to subdue Noble Mission and earn a first top-level victory as the pair pulled clear of the remainder. Lucky Lion's dam, Lips Arrow, is a half to German One Thousand Guineas (Ger-G2) winner Lips Poison (Mamool)...

Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-G1) and St James's Palace S. (Eng-G1) hero Kingman (Invincible Spirit) is on target for Wednesday's Sussex S. (Eng-G1)at Glorious Goodwood, according to Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah. There had been speculation that Kingman would not participate if the going was too quick, but Grimthorpe said, "All we want is good, nice, safe ground -- that's all. We're positive. The intention is to run." In his first try against elders, Kingman is expected to face defending Sussex winner Toronado (High Chaparral), who was last seen winning the Queen Anne S. (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot...

The odds on Sheikh Hamdan's Taghrooda (Sea the Stars) for the October 5 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1) shortened further Sunday, a day removed from the three-year-old filly's resounding defeat of older males in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. (Eng-G1). The bay was made the 6-1 co-favorite with most oddsmakers for Longchamp's showpiece within moments of her three-length drubbing of Telescope (Galileo), but her odds have now shortened to around 9-2 after connections expressed their intent to aim for the Arc. Deutsches Derby winner Sea the Moon, another from the first crop of 2009 Arc hero Sea the Stars, is the second choice at 6-1, while defending winner Treve (Motivator) has drifted out slightly to 7-1. Dual Derby hero Australia (Galileo) sits around 8-1...

Selected works from 194 timed by clockers on Sunday at Del Mar include last-out Shoemaker (G1) defending champion Obviously (Choisir), who went five furlongs in 1:01; Vanity (G1) romper Iotapa (Afleet Alex), who was caught in 1:13 for three-quarters; multiple Grade 2 winner Mr. Commons (Artie Schiller), who got four furlongs in :48 2/5; Grade 3 heroine Customer Base (Lemon Drop Kid), who clocked five-eighths in :59 2/5; and Debutante runner-up Unbridled Reward (Warrior's Reward), who traveled five panels in 1:00...

Two-year-old maiden special weight races on the grass are always exciting, but Saturday's was especially fulfilling for the connections of victorious Stormy Wayllen (Stormy Atlantic). The chestnut colt with an attractive blaze down his face won what was the first two-turn juvenile race of the Arlington season under jockey Channing Hill for the partnership of Susan Moulton, Darrell and Evelyn Yates and Catalano Thoroughbreds -- all very good friends. The win was very special for the connections for two reasons. First, the chestnut is named after Hill and wife, Shelbi's, son Wayllen, and is therefore the grandson of trainer Wayne Catalano. Secondly, Catalano has been hospitalized all week with acute pneumonia and it has been a trying few days for all closely involved with the 11-time leading trainer. A full brother to multiple stakes-winning turf mare and Catalano trainee Cumulonimble, Stormy Wayllen was joined in the winner's circle by his toddler namesake, Wayllen Richard Hill. "I think this will make Wayne smile," Hill heartily summed it up...

Trainer Art Sherman was presented with the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award in a ceremony between the 4TH and 5TH races on Sunday at Del Mar. Sherman became the 11th recipient of the award but the first to receive it at Del Mar. Previously, it was presented at Hollywood Park. "It's a great honor and a privilege," Sherman said Sunday morning. "Laffit and I have been friends for a long time. He is a man of real class and it's very special to receive an award named for him." Sherman, 77, had a 23-year-career as a jockey and has been training for 35 years. His riding career ended in 1975. "I spent most of my career riding in Northern California and Laffit was down south so we didn't ride against other except in maybe a few bigger races where he came up to ride," Sherman said. "He rode some horses for me as a trainer, but I think they were just claimers, which is mostly what I had back then." Sherman, who has trained California Chrome to victories in this year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness, was honored with the award as someone who have served the sport "with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction." Previous winners are: Bob Benoit (2004), Noble Threewitt (2005), Mel and Warren Stute (2006), Elwood W. "Bud" Johnston (2007), Pete Pedersen (2008), Merlin Volzke (2009), Oak Tree Racing Association (2010), Jerry and Ann Moss (2011), John Harris (2012) and Eddie Delahoussaye (2013).

Carryover Watch

For Monday or Next Raceday

WOODBINE:   High 5 -- $82,988
MONMOUTH:   Pick 6 -- $67,036
GULFSTREAM:   Pick 6 -- $50,000
SARATOGA:   Pick 6 -- $37,470
ARLINGTON:   Pick 9 -- $8,025

At a Glance
Avg. Winning Odds: 5.25 - 1
Favorite Win%: 39%, Favorite Itm%: 76%
Daily Double120.18
Pick 3641.03
Pick 67,858.49
Pick 42,645.62
TRACK BIAS MEET(05/06 - 07/25)
Distance #
5.5fDirt 101 33% E Rail
6.0fDirt 152 34% E Mid/Out
1 MileDirt 60 27% E Rail/Ins
1m 70yDirt 27 22% P Outside
Turf Sprint 12 42% E Mid/Out
Turf Routes 17 18% E Middle
TRACK BIAS WEEK(07/19 - 07/25)
Distance #
5.5fDirt 8 63% E Rail/Ins
6.0fDirt 12 50% E Rail
1 MileDirt 9 44% E Middle
1m 70yDirt 2 0% P Inside
Turf Sprint 5 40% E/P Outside
Turf Routes 6 0% E/P Ins/Mid
Who's HOT, Who's NOT
HOT TRAINERS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
Short Ricky J. 7 3 1 1 4.94 2 19%
Colebrook Ben 3 2 0 0 15.73 1 14%
Dorris Chris 4 2 1 0 5.23 1 12%
Goeing Donald L. 4 2 1 1 8.95 1 9%
Margolis Steve 5 2 1 0 2.52 0 18%
Nance Michael W. 6 2 1 1 3.72 2 17%
COLD TRAINERS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
Wisner Tracey J. 13 0 1 1 18.66 0 10%
Haffner Randy 10 0 0 0 52.20 0 13%
Leonard, III George 10 0 0 1 19.15 1 15%
COLD JOCKEYS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
Vergara, Jr. Octavio 19 0 1 2 26.57 0 8%
Avg. Winning Odds: 4.90 - 1
Favorite Win%: 35%, Favorite Itm%: 70%
Daily Double77.13
Pick 3821.89
Pick 44,463.03
Pick 522,531.32
Pick 6 Jackpot57,380.08
TRACK BIAS MEET(05/10 - 07/26)
Distance #
5.5fDirt 27 33% E Rail/Ins
6.0fDirt 122 36% E Inside
1 MileDirt 40 20% E/P Rail/Ins
1m 70yDirt 32 19% E/P Outside
Turf Sprint 24 50% E Inside
Turf Routes 75 19% E Rail/Ins
TRACK BIAS WEEK(07/20 - 07/26)
Distance #
5.5fDirt 2 0% E Rail/Ins
6.0fDirt 12 25% E Inside
1 MileDirt 4 0% P Inside
1m 70yDirt 3 0% S Outside
Turf Sprint 3 67% E Mid/Out
Turf Routes 8 13% P Rail/Ins
Who's HOT, Who's NOT
HOT TRAINERS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
McMahon Hugh I. 11 4 0 0 3.91 2 22%
Navarro Jorge 12 4 2 1 2.50 1 32%
Catalano Wayne M. 4 3 0 0 2.83 2 20%
Vitali Marcus J. 6 3 0 2 4.02 0 19%
Lopez Daniel J. 2 2 0 0 10.35 1 18%
Smith Robert G. 3 2 0 0 5.37 0 11%
Jacobson David 4 2 2 0 1.25 2 23%
DiMauro Stephen L. 5 2 0 1 9.08 1 13%
Hills Timothy A. 6 2 1 1 15.97 1 13%
HOT JOCKEYS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
Lopez Paco 28 15 4 2 3.39 8 22%
COLD JOCKEYS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
'13-' 14
McCarthy Trevor 15 0 1 3 8.32 3 17%
Rodriguez Israel O. 14 0 4 0 27.19 1 12%
Lopez Charles C. 11 0 2 0 17.19 1 11%


MONDAY:   Indiana Downs and Monmouth Park
TUESDAY:   Arlington and Del Mar
WEDNESDAY:   Louisiana Downs and Woodbine
THURSDAY:   Delaware Park and Gulfstream Park
FRIDAY:   Ellis Park and Saratoga

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather


For Monday

Delaware Park   (1st) Litigious, 6-1
    (2nd) Ghazi's Stone, 8-1
Finger Lakes   (1st) Moonstone Beach, 4-1
    (2nd) Our Brave Warrior, 4-1
Mountaineer   (3rd) Cat's Destiny, 3-1
    (4th) Howie Roll, 7-2
Parx Racing   (3rd) Dirty Blonde, 3-1
    (7th) Van Persie, 6-1
Presque Isle Downs   (2nd) Indy Breeze, 3-1
    (7th) Prom Gown, 4-1
Saratoga   (1st) Classic Sense, 7-2
    (9th) Mr. Espresso, 6-1
Suffolk Downs   (3rd) Flash Glory, 4-1
    (6th) Centenario, 4-1


For Monday

DELAWARE PARK (1:15): $37,000 alw, 3yo, f, 1m 70ydsT (6TH).
FINGER LAKES (1:10): $19,500 alw, 3&up, f&m, 5 1/2f (8TH).
PARX RACING (12:25): $45,000 alw, 3&up, 1 1/16mT (8TH).
SARATOGA (1:00): $200,000 Honorable Miss H. (G2), 3&up, f&m, 6f (8TH).
SUFFOLK DOWNS (12:45): $20,000 ocl, 3&up, 1m 70yds (7TH); $20,000 ocl, 3&up, f&m, 6f (8TH).

*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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