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.
Dance With Fate, Frac Daddy highlight San Diego
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.
Harpoon takes stab at turf sprint in Quick Call
The Quick Call will be a significant turnback in distance for Harpoon, but Pletcher believes his colt may get a favorable setup.
"There's a lot of speed in the race, so he should be able to come from off the pace," the trainer said. "It's a small field, so we're taking a shot. He's shown hints of having talent and we thought his sprint on the turf last time was good."
Harpoon, 7-2 on the morning line, will be ridden by Javier Castellano from post 2.
Favorite Tale has been pegged as the 5-2 favorite in his first turf attempt. The Guadalupe Preciado trainee has faltered in his two forays into graded stakes company, but has been far more effective at this level. Victorious in the Gold Fever at Belmont in the spring, he comes off a tough-beat second in the July 5 Oh Say at Delaware Park. Rosie Napravnik picks up the mount on the Tale of the Cat gelding, who figures to transfer his early speed to the turf.
Escapist, a half-brother to multiple Grade 3 winner Clearly Now, has won both of his career starts in turf sprints. He will add to the hot pace in his stakes debut, along with Good Bye Greg, unbeaten in his two starts on Polytrack, and Pure Sensation, second to Favorite Tale in the Gold Fever two back and another trying turf for the first time. Choctaw Chuck, winner of the Tom Ridge on Presque Isle's Tapeta, and Glacken Too have also shown some early foot on occasion.
As usual, the Thursday card features a steeplechase. Bill Pape's Bluegrass Summer, the reigning novice steeplechase champion, returns to the races against a full field of contenders for the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at 2 1/16 miles over national fences.
Trained by Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, Bluegrass Summer won an optional allowance at Saratoga last year and will be making his first start since finishing fourth in the Supreme Hurdle last November. He will be coupled in the wagering with Anne Pape's Fog Island, who is trained by Richard Valentine and will be ridden by Robbie Walsh. Valentine also entered Gil Johnston's Awesome Pearl.
Jack Fisher entered Schoodic, last year's three-year-old champion. The homebred Tiznow gelding fell from the unbeaten ranks over fences when third in the Marcellus Frost. Reigning champion jockey Paddy Young has the mount.
Willie McCarthy, the current leading jockey, has the mount on Top Striker, who opened the year with a victory in the Carolina Cup on March 29. He subsequently finished third in the Queen's Cup MPC 'Chase near Charlotte on April 26. Trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. tightened Top Striker with a third on the Belmont Park turf on July 4.
Saratoga will be the proving ground for several imported hurdlers including the Irish-bred Saint Jerome; Gmac, who made his U.S. debut with an allowance hurdle in May, and Bob Le Beau, an Irish hurdler who will be making his first 2014 start under Jack Doyle. Bob Le Beau will be coupled in the wagering with Kingdom.
Completing the field are Tempt Me Alex, winner of the Iroquois Steeplechase's Bright Hour Stakes, and Sporty, third in the Bright Hour.
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 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.
Click here for the monthly July Calendar
At a Glance
AT A GLANCE SCHEDULE
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