Competitive Edge puts away Hopeful
"The question is, since the Breeders' Cup is in California -- again -- do we want to get some two-turn experience before we go?" Pletcher contemplated. "The Champagne (Grade 1, October 4, Belmont Park) will be our first option, but we'll talk with the connections and make sure we're all on the same page."
Competitive Edge vied for the lead three wide as Signature Cat posted an opening quarter in :22 3/5 with I Spent It, the Saratoga Special victor, sandwiched in the middle. Those three continued to go at each other approaching the far turn.
"I'll tell you what, I was worried about one horse and one horse only" jockey John Velazquez said. "It was the horse (jockey) Javier (Castellano) was on (I Spent It). He ended up being close to the lead, so that was my chance to put the pressure on him and engage him and let him use his horse early on. Between horses, he had to get in there. Between me and the other horse inside (Signature Cat) he had to ride, ride, ride to stay in there. It took him a lot."
Signature Cat started to bow out as Competitive Edge came away with the lead to put up a half mile in :44 4/5 as I Spent It tried to keep pace. Competitive Edge was too much for his competition though, as he slowly drew away in the stretch to cross the wire in 1:24 for the seven-furlong test over the good main track. The bay colt returned $3.30 to his loyal backers for his first stakes score.
"This one has a great talent," Velazquez added. "The only thing about this one -- nothing bothers him. This colt, nothing tears his hair out, scares him or anything. He's so laid back, his future can be much better than the other ones. Like everything else, he has to stay sound. A great mind."
I Spent It settled for second and was 9 lengths clear of Sharm in third. Requite made a sweeping move around the far turn but faded in the stretch to take fourth. Dekabrist, Signature Cat and Maratik brought up the rear.
"He has always had behavior problems," trainer Tony Dutrow said of runner-up I Spent It. "You could see in the paddock (when he was being saddled) he was a lot different than he was in his two previous races. He, obviously, got himself out of sorts today. I knew that wasn't what I wanted to see, but I didn't know how he'd react to it. So, today wasn't his day for a number of reasons. We'll work with him and hope for a better day this fall."
Competitive Edge was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, which also bred, raced, and now stands Super Saver. The promising juvenile is the first registered foal from the multiple stakes-placed Magdalena's Chase, a daughter of Cape Town from the family of Grade 1 scorer All Fired Up and Grade 2 victor Wild Syn.
Further afield in the female line, one finds Grade 1 winners Awesome Humor, Emcee and Constitution, last seen landing the March 29 Florida Derby for Pletcher and the partnership of WinStar and Twin Creeks Racing Stables.
"I thought we had a really good start to the meet, I thought we had some really big disappointments at the meet; way too many seconds (25 through race 5 on Monday) for my liking," Pletcher said on having clinched his 11th training title at Saratoga. "At the same time you cannot not be grateful anytime you come to Saratoga and win 26, 27 races, win the Hopeful, Coaching Cub, Alabama and Schuylerville. No matter how good you do, it could always be better, no matter how bad you're doing it could always be worse."
Competitive Edge sold as a two-year-old in training for $750,000 at the Fasig-Tipton The Florida Sale.
Protonico takes Smarty Jones, gives Pletcher 1,000th stakes win
Classic Giacnroll drove up the rail in the stretch to pass 7-5 favorite Albano, looked as if he would pull the upset, but was outfinished late. He finished 1 3/4 lengths clear of Albano, who enjoyed a ground-saving trip, shot through an inside opening turning for home, but drifted out to allow Classic Giacnroll running room to make his bid and offered nothing in the final eighth-mile.
The order of finish was completed by Almost Famous, Saa Mi, Just Call Kenny, Ain't Got Time, and Grasshoppin. Joint Custody was eased and Lynx was scratched.
A son of Giant's Causeway, Protonico was an emphatic 12 3/4-length debut winner at Delaware Park going six furlongs last September, but was a distant sixth after a slow start in the Nashua at Aqueduct two months later. He was trained as a juvenile by Oussama Aboughazale and wore blinkers in both outings.
The dark bay returned to action June 25 under the care of Pletcher, defeating first-level allowance foes at Belmont by two lengths going a mile sans blinkers. Last time, Protonico finished a head behind V. E. Day, the subsequent Travers winner, in the $100,000 Curlin, a restricted stakes at Saratoga. The colt's record now stands at 5-3-0-1, $259,715.
Bred in Kentucky, Protonico was reared by Alpha Spirit, a daughter of A.P. Indy and Chilean Horse of the Year Wild Spirit, who also enjoyed Grade 1 success in the U.S.
Ring Weekend scores comfortably in Saranac
Guided by John Velazquez, Ring Weekend returned $5.10 after completing nine furlongs on a good Mellon turf in 1:46 2/5.
"I thought Johnny rode a great race. I thought we were going to be tough today," said Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds.
Smooth Daddy, a 15-1 chance, easily held second by 4 3/4 lengths over Cabo Cat, who was a neck in front of Bashart. Storm, Wallyanna, and Predicting rounded out the order of finish. Beyond Smart was scratched as were the main-track-only entries Life in Shambles and Lunar Rover.
This was the second graded stakes win for Ring Weekend, who garnered Grade 2 honors last March in the Tampa Bay Derby on the dirt. That race came a month after the chestnut beat maiden foes at Gulfstream Park in his fifth career start.
Second when heavily favored in the April 5 Calder Derby, Ring Weekend next ran fifth in the Preakness and then was eased in the Pegasus at Monmouth Park after showing early speed. He returned to the grass for the $100,000 Sir Cat at Saratoga on July 18, where he finished second to subsequent Secretariat runner-up Tourist.
"I thought he ran all right on the dirt -- he's a beautiful-moving horse, but I thought he was probably a little bit better on the grass," Finley said. "He broke his maiden at Gulfstream on the dirt, so we pushed on and ran him in the Tampa Bay Derby. When you win the Tampa Bay Derby, you've got to push on to the (Kentucky) Derby and the Triple Crown. But (it was) in the back of our minds, we talked all the time about that.
"I think he's such a good mover on the turf, I think we've found a home, at least for now. If he gets beat a couple of times, we can always come back to dirt. He's a big, sound horse. I know he's a lot different now than he was in the beginning of the summer. He's a bigger, stronger horse and it's good to have a three-year-old that can really run at this time of the year."
Ring Weekend now owns a mark of 11-3-3-2, $555,160.
Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds, Ring Weekend was sold for $310,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. He is a gelded son of Tapit and the multiple stakes-placed Free the Magic, a daughter of Cryptoclearance who has also reared the stakes-placed Bamboo.
Free the Magic is herself a half-sister to Group 3 winner Forest Wind, runner-up in the 1993 Saranac, and the Grade 3-placed stakes winners Three Generations and Flash of Joy. All three were produced by the French classic-placed Pompoes. Also descending from this family is Cayaya, a multiple Group 1 winner in Argentina.
Sharp Sensation denies Ben's Cat in Turf Monster
Ben's Cat, seeking a third win in the Turf Monster and a 23rd career stakes win overall, endured trouble around the turn while saving ground, moved outside in the stretch to commence his bid and ran out of real estate. He finished 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Tightend Touchdown, who was 1 1/4 lengths ahead of 2013 Vosburgh winner Private Zone.
Completing the order of finish were Tell All You Know, A P Elvis, 2013 Turf Monster winner Stormofthecentury, Bold Thunder, Risk Factor, Berlino Di Tiger, and Petey Cramer.
An easy winner in two of his first three outings over Polytrack at Woodbine, Sharp Sensation finished sixth in his stakes debut in the April 13 Jacques Cartier at the Toronto track. Following a rebound allowance victory the following month, the four-year-old gelded son of Sharp Humor crossed the border to Erie, Pennsylvania, where he landed the $100,000 Karl Boyes Memorial on Presque Isle Downs' Tapeta surface.
Sharp Sensation faded in his first two outings on the grass. In the July 12 Parx Dash, he dueled for the lead before weakening to fifth, 2 3/4 lengths behind Ben's Cat. Last time, in the seven-furlong Play the King at Woodbine, Sharp Sensation set a quick pace before faltering to seventh in a field of 10. His record now stands at 9-5-0-0, $353,640.
Bred in Kentucky by Hunter Valley Farm, Sharp Sensation was produced by the Royal Academy mare Accusation, who has also reared the stakes-placed Edgerin J, True Religion, and Innocent Man.
Sharp Sensation's third dam was the multiple stakes-winning Rascal Rascal, whose offspring included 1997 Epsom Derby winner Benny the Dip, multiple Grade 3 winner Cryptic Rascal, and Group 3 winner Beggarman Thief. Also hailing from this line is Grade 1 winner Western Aristocrat.
Sharp Sensation was a $55,000 Keeneland November weanling purchase.
Cary Street pulls upset in Greenwood Cup
Cary Street traveled 1 1/2 miles over the fast main track in 2:30 3/5 with Miguel Mena up.
Ever Rider took runner-up and was 5 lengths clear of third-place finisher and even-money favorite Micromanage. Call Me George, Abraham, Irsaal, Sailor's Revenge, Adirondack King, Lideris and Slim Pickins rounded out the order of finish.
Cary Street broke his maiden in his second start as a sophomore in a maiden claiming race at Gulfstream Park in December 2012. He won two claiming races in the beginning of 2013 and has been running against allowance company ever since. The bay's fourth victory was a 6 1/4-length allowance win at Churchill Downs in April. Cary Street grabbed $120,000 for the win to boost his bankroll to $230,275 from a career line of 17-5-4-2.
Bred in Kentucky by Darley, the son of Smarty Jones is out of the Sultry Song mare Shady Reflection. His grandam is French Group 3 winner Woodland Melody. The bay's female family also includes Grade 2 victors The Tender Track and Put It Back.
Cary Street sold for $60,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale and then resold for $32,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale.
Munirah bubbles up in time in Boiling Springs
Zanim R. Meahjohn's Munirah rode the rail to a last-to-first victory in Monday's Grade 3, $105,000 Boiling Springs at Monmouth, just denying pacesetter Sumba Sunset by a head. By capturing her stakes debut in only her third lifetime start, Munirah completed a rapid-fire Grade 3 double for trainer Graham Motion. At Saratoga about 11 minutes earlier, stablemate Ring Weekend conquered the Saranac -- also a 1 1/8-mile turf race for three-year-olds.
Munirah certainly had the pedigree, if not the racing experience. She is by Kitten's Joy and out of the Red Ransom mare Speed to Burn, a Grade 2-placed half-sister to 2005 Breeders' Cup Mile star Artie Schiller. With Kitten's Joy being by El Prado, the same sire as Artie Schiller, Munirah boasts an even closer relationship with that $2 million-earner.
Unraced until June 18 of this sophomore campaign, Munirah argued the pace and held on by a half-length in a six-furlong maiden on the Presque Isle Downs Tapeta. She switched to turf and stretched out to two turns in a second-level allowance at Delaware Park on July 30, where she settled off the pace and surged late to finish second. That short but intriguing resume was enough to send her off as the 7-2 second choice in the Boiling Springs, and she continued her upward spiral.
With Trevor McCarthy back aboard, Munirah was patiently handled at the rear of the eight-filly field. Up front, Sumba Sunset came through to head Mary n' Eileen through an opening quarter in :22 4/5, and went on to post splits of :47 2/5 and 1:11 1/5 on the firm turf. Little Journey, the 7-5 favorite, was tucked in just behind the leader on the rail, while Black Elegance endured a wider trip throughout.
The 11-1 Sumba Sunset threatened to go wire to wire as she continued to hold sway deep into the stretch. Little Journey tipped out to try to offer a rally, and Black Elegance and She's Not Here both loomed further out, but Sumba Sunset had the measure of all of the closers on the outside.
The real danger came from the inside. Munirah launched a strong move on the fence rounding the far turn, and kept to that ground-saving path while gaining in the lane. Keeping on relentlessly inside the final sixteenth, she inflicted a last-gasp heartbreak on the longtime leader. Munirah negotiated 1 1/8 miles in 1:47 2/5 and returned $9.80 to win.
"I just let her break and decided to take her back to last to relax," McCarthy said. "It was an honest pace and she was really able to save ground and pick it up at the end. The more she's run, the more she's learning and she showed her class today."
Sumba Sunset held the runner-up spot by a half-length from She's Not Here. Black Elegance was the same margin back in fourth, edging Little Journey by a nose. Next came Queenie's Song, Mary n' Eileen and Sallyport, and the main-track-only My Merry Way was scratched.
Bred by B.P. Walden Jr. in Kentucky, Munirah brought $160,000 as a Keeneland November weanling. She has now earned $88,400 from her 3-2-1-0 record.
Munirah's dam, Speed to Burn, is also a half-sister to South African stakes heroine Our Table Mountain, who has produced Group 1-placed Careful Hiker and Group 3-placed Helderberg Blue. Another half-sibling, Hidden Dance, is responsible for Japanese Grade 2 victor Toho Alan.
Munirah's second dam is multiple Grade 1 queen Hidden Light, herself a full sister to multiple Grade 1 turf star Prince True. They were in turn out of another multiple Grade 1 winner, Tallahto, whose highlights include a defeat of males in the 1974 Oak Tree Invitational. Tallahto is the ancestress of several other stakes performers, led by multiple Grade 3 scorer Marcavelly.
This is the further family of 1986 Kentucky Derby winner and 1987 Horse of the Year Ferdinand.
Pletcher and Castellano claim Saratoga titles
Todd Pletcher and Javier Castellano repeated as the leading trainer and jockey, respectively, at Saratoga, with Michael Dubb emerging as the top owner for 2014.
Pletcher, 47, won 28 races, turning back a late challenge from Chad Brown, who had 23 victories. Hall of Famer Bill Mott was third with 13 wins.
It was the fifth straight H. Allen Jerkens training title for Pletcher, who has been the Spa's leading trainer a total of 11 times. This year, Pletcher swept the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama with Stopchargingmaria and also posted graded stakes wins with Competitive Edge in the closing-day Hopeful and Fashion Alert in the Schuylerville.
"I thought we had a really good start to the meet. I thought we had some really big disappointments at the meet; way too many seconds," Pletcher said. "At the same time you cannot not be grateful anytime you come to Saratoga and win 26, 27 races, win the Hopeful, Coaching Club, Alabama and Schuylerville. No matter how good you do, it could always be better, no matter how bad you're doing it could always be worse."
Castellano edged Irad Ortiz Jr., 58-53 to claim his second consecutive Angel Cordero Jr. riding crown. Hall of Famer John Velazquez was third with 38 wins.
On August 23, Castellano piloted V. E. Day to a nose victory in the Travers, becoming only the fifth rider in history to win the Travers four times. He also won the King's Bishop with The Big Beast on the Travers undercard, the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama aboard Stopchargingmaria for Pletcher, and the Saratoga Special with I Spent It.
"It worked out great. I'm very blessed," Castellano said. "I'm thankful to win a lot of races here in Saratoga where I compete against the best jockeys in the country. It's a big accomplishment. I had a lot help. All the trainers gave me the support, all the owners. Now I'm going to be driving to Long Island tonight with a happy face."
Dubb and his various partnerships won 14 races, including the Spinaway on August 31 with Condo Commander. It was the first Saratoga title for Dubb. Repole Stable was second with 12 wins and Ken and Sarah Ramsey and Chester and Mary Broman tied for third with 11.
Carpe Diem repels challenges to win going away on debut
Three races after his highly regarded stablemate Competitive Edge ran away with the Hopeful, Carpe Diem emerged as yet another Todd Pletcher juvenile to follow with a gutsy, and ultimately convincing, debut in Saratoga's 7TH race on Monday.
The joint sales topper at OBS March when selling for $1.6 million, Carpe Diem is a Giant's Causeway half-brother to 2010 Breeders' Futurity winner J.B.'s Thunder and to multiple English stakes scorer and Group 3-placed Doncaster Rover. The powerfully made chestnut was bet down to 3-5 favoritism here with Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the saddle, and justified that status after surviving a potentially bruising pace war.
Carpe Diem was drawn on the rail, and thereby unaffected by a rough start that compromised several others. He flashed speed from the gate, but felt sustained pressure from Louisiana Brown. After testing fractions of :21 4/5 and :44 4/5 on the fast track, Louisiana Brown was the first to crack. Carpe Diem, however, also looked softened up at the head of the lane.
By that point, Ready for Rye -- one who had been hampered at the break -- rolled up on the outside to challenge. In the process, he came over into the path of the tiring Louisiana Brown.
Although Ready for Rye appeared to head Carpe Diem, the favorite was far from done. The strength, stamina, and fighting spirit of Giant's Causeway rose up within his son, and Carpe Diem found extra to respond after five furlongs in :57 2/5. He not only rebuffed his newest rival, but put him away decisively, opened up by 2 1/2 lengths, and sped 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03 4/5.
Ready for Rye crossed the wire 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Louisiana Brown, but the rider of that third-place finisher, Luis Saez, claimed foul against Javier Castellano aboard Ready for Rye. The stewards also posted the inquiry sign. Following review of the alleged interference, the order of finish was allowed to stand.
Carpe Diem, who paid $3.40 to win, banked $49,800 for himself. Bred in Kentucky by Coffee Pot Stable, the promising colt is out of the Grade 2-placed stakes heroine Rebridled Dreams, an Unbridled's Song mare. Carpe Diem was first sold for $550,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. He turned out to be a successful pinhook for Northwest Stud, which offered him at OBS in March. Stonestreet Stables signed the $1.6 million ticket, and now campaigns him in partnership with WinStar Farm.
Hattaash's team happy with Washington Park near-miss
Lost in the celebration of Avanzare's exciting victory in Saturday's Washington Park Handicap and the buzz of Chris Emigh's 3,500th victory was the awesome runner-up performance of local charge Hattaash. The seven-year-old ran the race of his life to lose by a head at the wire after closing from the tail end of the field.
The performance by the son of Strong Hope was the second time he had given his best effort in the Washington Park. In 2013, the bay gelding was a strong third, beaten only a half-length by Grade 2-winning millionaire Willcox Inn. That knockout performance -- despite an impressive allowance win next out -- was not truly substantiated until Saturday, but the performance was very satisfying for his connections.
"I knew he could do it," trainer Cheryl Winebaugh said. "He's a good racehorse -- he just wants to run when he wants to run and when he decides to."
Apparently the winner of 10 of 48 starts decided to do so on Saturday and was rewarded with the $29,700 place purse. The effort made it 35 top-three finishes for the charge in 48 starts, but also followed five consecutive disappointing performances.
"He has been inconsistent recently," Winebaugh explained. "We were not aiming for (the Washington Park), but it came up the way it did and we thought 'Why not?' We were not sure if he still wanted to run and be a racehorse, but I'm glad he came to run (on Saturday). I knew he like the distance and the track -- like in last year's race -- and on the middle of the turn I could tell he was ready to run and wasn't backing out."
Just outside the quarter-pole, jockey Sheldon Russell -- on the gelding for the first time -- asked Hattaash to accelerate and maneuver between horses, and the overlooked Kenneth Fishbein-owned racehorse did so with style, tipping out at the top of the stretch and setting the stage for a stretch-long battle with Avanzare.
"He ran awesome," Russell said immediately following the race. "I got the chance to work him last week and (the connections) were stressing to me that he was sitting on a big race; he just hadn't been running as well. I worked him and he was very cool and professional.
"They told me to stay six lengths behind and make a run, and he got a great trip. I honestly thought when I tipped him out that he would run right by Chris (Emigh on Avanzare). I don't know if Chris' horse dug back in or my horse anticipated a little bit and just thought he was home."
The effort, though disappointing to not win, was a point of pride for the connections.
"We know we still have a racehorse, now," Winebaugh said with satisfaction. "If he came to run, I knew he could do it. He came back a little tired and ate up everything (Sunday morning)."
For an immediate follow-up race, the connections are still unsure as to which path they shall take, but one thing is for certain.
"He'll tell us what he wants to do," Winebaugh continued. "We aren't aiming for a race in particular, immediately, but if he wants to keep being a racehorse we'll keep running him. He's a good horse. We were third last year, second this year -- maybe we'll win it next year!"
Skyway aims to follow up in Del Mar Futurity; 'Renee' gives zip to undercard
Recent maiden winner Red Button, a Distorted Humor half-brother to Grade 1 victress Sugar Shake, has plenty of upside. No match for Bad Read Sanchez when slowly away in his premiere, the Mark Glatt trainee showed smart gears from off the pace to get up in time here on July 26. Significantly, he lures the red-hot Rafael Bejarano into the saddle.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert dominates the record book with 11 wins in the Del Mar Futurity, but his duo of Holiday Camp and American Pharaoh must improve to give him a 12th. Holiday Camp rolled in his first try at Santa Anita, defeating next-out winner Rowdy Dylan. Dispatched as the even-money favorite next time in the Santa Anita Juvenile, Holiday Camp never recovered from a troubled start and trailed home last of six. The Street Boss colt just fired a six-furlong bullet in 1:12 at Del Mar last Wednesday, and could regroup with Martin Garcia.
The maiden American Pharaoh was favored at 7-5 in his only start on August 9, but retreated to fifth behind the ultra-impressive Om. Sired by former Baffert star Pioneerof the Nile, himself a Zayat Stables runner, American Pharaoh also tuned up with a bullet in :59 for five furlongs last Wednesday. Victor Espinoza picks up the mount.
The well-bred Iron Fist exits that same maiden, where he was best of the rest behind the imperious Om. Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, who sent out Tamarando to take the 2013 Del Mar Futurity, Iron Fist has gotten off to slow starts in both of his outings so far. He rallied for fourth in a five-furlong dash here July 19 prior to his improved effort last time. If he doesn't complicate his task right from the break, Iron Fist can make his presence felt. A $1.55 million Keeneland September yearling purchase, the Tapit ridgeling is a full brother to the well-regarded sophomore Anchor Down and a half-brother to Grade 1 star Sweet Lulu. Hall of Famer Mike Smith sticks with the promising gray.
The Peter Miller-trained Calculator has competed in the same two maidens, splitting decisions with Iron Fist. Third in their mutual debut, he was most recently fourth to Om. Elvis Trujillo takes the call on the In Summation colt, who smoked five-eighths in a bullet :58 2/5 last Thursday.
Inexcess Time comes off a local maiden score for Walther Solis, beating the troubled Oh Newman, who closed fast for third.
Two races earlier, the $100,000 Oak Tree Juvenile Turf figures to have implications for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Top contenders in the one-mile affair include Sky Preacher, who aired by 7 1/2 lengths in his first turf try for O'Neill at Santa Anita; the Cody Autrey-trained Dallas Skyline, a convincing course-and-distance winner on July 30; Papacoolpapacool, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Dallas Skyline in that mutual debut; Highway Boss, who switches surfaces off a fourth in the Best Pal; pace factor Peacenluvpeacenluv, claimed out of his Polytrack maiden score by George Papaprodromou and bred to enjoy turf as a son of Artie Schiller; and first-time starter Conquest Bespoke, worth a look as a Conquest Stables colorbearer from the Casse barn.
In the $90,000 Pirate's Bounty, Seeking the Sherif looms as the one to beat. The Ron Ellis class climber reeled off a four-race winning streak before trying the July 27 Bing Crosby at this track and six-furlong trip, and he was not disgraced when third in that Grade 1 event. Seeking the Sherif drops in class to face the likes of Ain't No Other, a close second to Private Zone in the 2013 Pirate's Bounty; No Silent, twice stakes-placed for Gary Mandella; and recent allowance/optional claiming winners Ankeny Hill and Bull Dozer.
Competitive Yellow Ribbon on tap for Del Mar's Labor Day program
Miss Serendipity was the nose victress of the Gamely two back prior to a last-of-six run in the John C. Mabee three weeks ago. The Ron McAnally-trained six-year-old is a Group 1 winner in Argentina and appears to have brought that form with her to the United States, having also placed in the Santa Barbara Handicap and Santa Ana while finishing fourth in the Buena Vista and Paseana to account for her six tries stateside thus far. Brice Blanc takes back the mount from Rafael Bejarano, who rode Miss Serendipity in the Mabee.
Earlier, dual stakes hero Wake Up Nick seeks to move his record to a perfect four-for-four in the I'm Smokin against fellow unbeaten stakes winner Truely Quick. Sorrento third-placer Heart of Paradise highlights the Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Three races before Condo Commando (Tiz Wonderful) wowed the Saratoga crowd in the Spinaway (G1), Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Feathered (Indian Charlie) broke her maiden by a resounding 9 3/4 lengths in the 7TH race. The 4-5 favorite after just missing in her debut, the Todd Pletcher filly grabbed command from the start and never looked back. Feathered galloped through surprisingly moderate fractions of :24 and :48 1/5 and drew right away in the stretch. Under Javier Castellano, the $300,000 OBS March purchase covered seven furlongs in 1:24 2/5 on a track that had already been downgraded to good upon the rain's arrival. "The first time she ran, she broke slow out of the gate and just got beat," Castellano recalled. "I think she matured a little bit, and today she had a race under her belt and it paid off. I really like the way she did it today. She opened up very impressively." Pletcher commented, "I was expecting her to win the first time, actually. She ran well first time, and did everything we hoped she would do in between starts, so we were optimistic (about Sunday's race). With her being one of the few fillies in the race with some experience, we expected her to break well and we wanted to take advantage of that if we could. She broke alertly, and when they put up first quarter in :24 we felt pretty good. We'll certainly run her back in a stakes. It will just be a matter of which one." Feathered, a May 17 foal, is out of the stakes-placed Receipt (Dynaformer). Her second dam is multiple Grade 1 queen Finder's Fee (Storm Cat), her third dam is Grade 1 winner Fantastic Find (Mr. Prospector) and her fourth dam is multiple Grade 2 heroine and noted producer Blitey (Riva Ridge)...
Del Mar Debutante (G1) winner Sunset Glow (Exchange Rate) and runner-up Her Emmynency (Successful Appeal) both came out of the seven-furlong race in good shape, their camps reported on Sunday. Sunset Glow will be shipped to Kentucky and trainer Wesley Ward to be pointed for a Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race at Santa Anita Park. Trainer Mike Stidham said Her Emmynency would be sent to Santa Anita with distance races on turf the likely target...
Avanzare (Grand Reward) has exited his victory in Saturday's Washington Park H. (G3) in great shape, according to his connections. The four-year-old gelding made his first Polytrack start a winning one after eight consecutive runs on the turf, including four wins and three runner-up finishes. "He came out really well," reported Lindsay Schultz, assistant to conditioner Tom Proctor. "He at up and his legs look good. He's definitely pleased with himself." Avanzare was exiting a tough loss in the Arlington H. (G3), in which he made all the running only to finish fourth while beaten only three-quarters of a length. This time, he held on after setting just as glacial a pace to win by a head at the wire over Hattaash (Strong Hope) and race favorite Mister Marti Gras (Belong to Me) in a photo finish. The race was also win number 3,500 for jockey Chris Emigh, a 25-year veteran who has called Arlington home for much of his career. Interestingly, Avanzare also gave Proctor a milestone earlier in the year when the trainer landed his 1,000th win. "(The owners) were really excited," Schultz said. "It was definitely a step forward for him -- especially to win a graded stakes. From here, we'll wait and see how he comes out and won't bring him back too quickly."...
Elvis "Heartbreak" Trujillo floored Corey "Knockout" Nakatani in the third and final round and went on to win a unanimous decision in the much-anticipated "Battle Off the Saddle" Saturday night before a raucously enthusiastic crowd at Del Mar's Seaside Terrace. The three-round bout between two of the nation's top jockeys was the climax of a card of boxing with a portion of the proceeds going to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). Nakatani was the aggressor in the first round as Trujillo jabbed and moved after being hit with a solid right hand early in the fight, most observers awarding the round to Nakatani. In the second round, Trujillo changed tactics and attacked as the two boxers mixed it up in several multi-punch exchanges. Trujillo appeared to win the round, so going into the third and final two-minute period it seemed either fighter could win. However, Trujillo landed the best punch of the bout, a hard overhand right early in the round, knocking Nakatani across the ring and down. Nakatani rose and took an eight count, but the knockdown was the decider in what had been an even battle until then. Guest judges at ringside were Hall of Famers Mike Smith and Alex Solis plus Cisco Alvarado. Smith scored it 29-28; Solis, 29-27, and Alvarado, 30-27, all in favor of Panamanian Trujillo...
His sire is dual classic winner Montjeu and his dam is dual classic victress Finsceal Beo, so it was no surprise to see last year's impeccably bred €2.85 million Orby Sale topper Ol' Man River shortened to 16-1 for the 2015 Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) following a perfect debut performance on Sunday at the Curragh. The Aidan O'Brien trained colt hardly came off the bridle under Joseph O'Brien to cruise to an effortless three-quarter length win in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden. Owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, Ol' Man River was purchased by M.V. Magnier for €2.850 million at the Orby Sale, the highest priced yearling in Ireland for almost 30 years. He was bred and sold by Al Eile Stud, purchasers of dual Guineas winner Finsceal Beo as a yearling at Goffs in 2005. The classy colt is entered in the Vincent O'Brien National (Ire-G1), Dewhurst (Eng-G1), and Racing Post Trophy (Eng-G1) this season...
Granted a soft lead all the way to the end of the backstretch in Sunday's weak renewal of the €200,000 Grand Prix de Deauville (Fr-G2), a formerly prestigious race, Cocktail Queen (Motivator) was taken wide at the top of the straight by jockey Alexis Badel with the gelding Gatewood (Galileo) for company while Going Somewhere (Sulamani) stayed against the rail. Despite the latter being in front briefly inside the final quarter-mile, the main action concerned Cocktail Queen and the British raider and they asserted in the last 100 yards with the filly pulling out extra where it counted. "She has really blossomed lately and is doing really well," trainer Miriam Bollack-Badel said. "I would not have supplemented her if she had not showed more improvement after the Gontaut-Biron and I thought she had a first-class chance. She stays really well and loves soft ground, so she is probably good enough to try a Group 1 now and will go for the Prix de l'Opera ([Fr-G1] at Longchamp on October 5)." Formerly with David Elsworth, Cocktail Queen showed early ability when second to subsequent Group 1 performer Tasaday (Nayef) in the Prix des Reservoirs (Fr-G3) going a mile at Deauville on October 2012. Seen only four times the following season, the bay homebred managed a third in the 12-furlong St Simon (Eng-G3) at Newbury in October and a second in Doncaster's listed Gillies Fillies' over an extended 10-furlong trip the following month. Sent to Bollack-Badel after a failed attempt at two miles when fifth in Ascot's Sagaro (Eng-G3) on April 30, she was second in a 12-furlong conditions event at Dieppe on July 8 prior to making all in the August 16 Prix Gontaut-Biron (Fr-G3) going 10 furlongs...
Restrained early by Andrea Atzeni to race toward the rear in Sunday's €60,000 Round Tower (Ire-G3) at the Curragh, Cappella Sansevero (Showcasing) gradually worked his way to the front with 200 yards remaining before asserting from the game Rapid Applause (Royal Applause). "I asked Andrea to drop him and produce him late, as he pulls himself up in front," trainer Ger Lyons said. "He said he rode like a three-year-old today and that he thinks he'll get further, but we'll go for the Middle Park S. (Eng-G1) over six (furlongs at Newmarket on October 17)." Unbeaten and already boasting black-type after his exploits in the Curragh's May 24 listed Marble Hill when tackling the Coventry (Eng-G2) at Royal Ascot, Cappella Sansevero ran with credit to finish closest to subsequent Prix Morny (Fr-G1) hero The Wow Signal (Starspangledbanner) in that June 17 juvenile feature. Putting in an uncharacteristically tame effort when fifth behind Kool Kompany (Jeremy) in the June 28 Railway (Ire-G2) over Sunday's track and six-furlong trip, the bay juvenile enjoyed a brief break before returning to be third behind Dick Whittington (Rip Van Winkle) and that rival in the August 10 Phoenix (Ire-G1) again at Sunday's course and distance...
One race later in the €60,000 Dance Design Fillies (Ire-G3), Pat Smullen settled Moyglare Stud Farm's Carla Bianca (Dansili) in fifth early. The homebred sophomore appeared held by Alive Alive Oh (Duke of Marmalade) as that rival started to assert inside the final quarter-mile but stayed on tenaciously to gain the advantage 150 yards from home and hold the late thrust of Pearl of Africa (Jeremy). "She has progressed with every run since being slow to come to hand in the spring," said trainer Dermot Weld, who handled the race's namesake Dance Design for the winning owner-breeders. "I liked the way she came home today and so the (September 14) Blandford S. (Ire-G2) back here is a possibility. The faster the ground the better." Second to Australia (Galileo) going seven furlongs at the Curragh last July, Carla Bianca was sent straight to the Moyglare Stud (Ire-G1) over the same track and trip in September and again flashed her inherent ability when fourth there. Well below that standard in two maidens at the start of her sophomore campaign, the gray came right by five lengths upped to 10 furlongs at Navan on June 14 before adding the listed Naas Oaks Trial to her tally at that distance 11 days later. Despite being asked to bear a three-pound penalty in Gowran Park's listed Hurry Harriet S. over slightly shorter on August 13, she overcame some smart opponents to prevail and book this short ramp in class...
Always traveling strongly at the front of the main group in Sunday's €55,000 144th Golden Peitsche (Ger-G3) at Baden-Baden, Signs of Blessing (Invincible Spirit) was tackled and headed by Son Cesio (Zafeen) passing the quarter-pole, but stuck to his guns to regain the initiative with 100 yards remaining under jockey Stephane Pasquier. Always held in high regard by trainer Francois Rohaut, the three-year-old signed off 2013 with a first black-type success in the five-furlong listed Criterium de Vitesse at Longchamp in October and returned to take a conditions event at Fontainebleau on March 24 and Chantilly's listed Prix Sigy over six furlongs on April 16. Acquitting himself with credit against his elders when second in the May 11 Prix de Saint-Georges (Fr-G3) reverting to five-eighths at Longchamp, the bay handled Deauville's testing ground when third in the June 28 Prix de Ris-Orangis (Fr-G3) over Sunday's six-furlong trip when last seen...
Nine sophomore fillies, including one main-track only entrant, have been entered to go 1 1/8 miles over Monmouth Park's turf on Labor Day Monday in the $100,000 Boiling Springs (G3). The Chad Brown-trained Little Journey (Great Journey) will be making her fourth U.S. start in the race, having finished third in both the Edgewood at Churchill Downs and Santa Anita Park's American Oaks (G1) prior to a close last-of-seven in the Lake George (G2) most recently at Saratoga. The gray miss will have Javier Castellano aboard while facing last-out Indiana First Lady victress Mary n' Eileen (Indy King), who is three-for-four lifetime thus far, as well as Queenie's Song (Unbridled's Song) and Black Elegance (Footstepsinthesand), separated by only a nose as the respective second and third from the July 9 Christiana at Delaware Park. One race earlier, eight distaffers will line up in the $75,000 Lady's Secret at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. My Miss Sophia (Unbridled's Song) is hoping to rebound in this spot off a well-beaten seventh in the Acorn (G1) on June 7 at Belmont Park. Prior to that, the Todd Pletcher sophomore finished second in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and posted a 7 1/4-length romp in the Gazelle (G2).
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