SARATOGA DAILY NOTEBOOK
THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2005
by Dick Powell
Former NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz has had a quiet meet until today. Always a force here with his trainer Michael Hushion, the black and white silks were seen only once in the winner's circle during the first four weeks.
In Thursday's Victory Ride S., Reunited (Dixie Union) was sent off as the 4-5 favorite off two very strong wins in her last two starts. She won for fun here last out but wore front-leg bandages for the first time. Even though Neil Howard has been known to do that, it still raised some eyebrows.
Schwartz sent out a daughter of Dixie Union in NOTHING BUT FUN, a $150,000 yearling purchase two years ago who was two for two in her brief career and was training well for her first start in two months. Megascape (Cape Canaveral) went to the front and was challenged by Maddalena (Good and Tough) who disputed the pace in the Test S. (G1) last out.
Robby Albarado, aboard Reunited, looked like he had the leaders measured nearing the top of the stretch, but Maddalena spurted forward and opened up a clear lead. Richard Migliore had Nothing But Fun in a drive on the outside and began to get closer as the effects of a fast pace was taking its toll.
"It looked like, on paper, it was a race that had a lot of speed," Migliore said. "My filly actually broke really sharp, and showed some aggression that she hadnít in the past. But she settled, and backed off and I felt confident even from the three-eighths pole that we were the horse to beat. I felt that the early fractions would start to take their toll on Maddalena, a horse I have a lot of respect for."
Maddalena tired in the last 100 yards and Nothing But Fun got up to win by 1 1/2 lengths in the good time of 1:09.86. After the race, Hushion explained why he gave her some time off after her good allowance win.
"She's always been the high-hopes filly around the barn," Hushion said. "In her last allowance win, she worked five eighths in :58 three days before the race. That scared me. Between that and a hard race, I thought I would give her a little extra time. The race set up as we pretty much expected. She jumped out pretty quick. Richie (Migliore) had to take pretty good hold of her to take her back, and then she dragged him around the turn. I'm not sure if six furlongs is her best distance. She's got Theatrical (Ire) on her motherís side. I'm not sure where her future is going to take us. We'll shop around for her next race, but we'll look for something longer."
Hushion and Schwartz came right back in the 9TH race when QUICK ONE (Afternoon Deelites) beat first-level New York-bred allowance foes in a turf sprint with Edgar Prado aboard. Neither she nor Nothing But Fun wore front-leg bandages after running with them in their last starts
Leading owner Flying Zee Stables won their eighth race of the meet today when CONTENDERS EMOTION (Key Contender) came up the inside to win the 1ST race by a half-length with Chantal Sutherland. Contenders Emotion saved ground and found room in the stretch after being steadied briefly, breaking her maiden in her 11th start. It was Sutherland's sixth win of the meet, her first in two weeks, and Hall of Fame trainer Frank Martin's third victory from only 10 starters.
Jerry Bailey continues to ride extremely well while picking his spots. In the 2ND, he put QUICK QUEEN (Line in the Sand) on the lead and never looked back as she dominated a $50,000 claimer for three-year-old fillies on the Mellon turf course. Bailey is pushing all the right buttons and riding more aggressively here than he has in years.
NOLAN'S CAT (Catiennus) is a maiden no more -- by a nose. The third-place finisher in the Belmont S. (G1) was still winless in seven starts prior to facing five rivals in a maiden special weight going two turns on the main track in the 3RD race. Sir Halory (Unbridled), the 9-10 favorite from Bobby Frankel, went to the front with Edgar Prado and led to the deep stretch where he locked into a duel to the wire. Bailey prevailed by a nose aboard Nolan's Cat, who covered the nine furlongs in a good 1:50.47
Nolan's Cat wore blinkers today even though it wasn't in anyone's past performances. It was not announced at 12 p.m. (EDT) but at 12:30, and throughout the day on the crawl of the NYRA simulcast feed. Trainer Dale Romans had checked off on his entry that he was adding blinkers, but the NYRA race office missed it. When the overnight came out, Romans saw that Nolan's Cat was not listed as adding blinkers and he alerted the race office and stewards. It was too late to get it into the track program or past performances, but why NYRA did not have it on their initial changes for the day is inexcusable.
The main track has been playing a bit faster lately. In the 4TH race, a five-furlong maiden special weight for juveniles, the betting public made CHANGING WEATHER (Storm Boot) the 8-5 favorite. He put away a challenge from Guns Drawn (Carson City) around the far turn then found another gear at the eighth-pole when Grand Traverse (Pioneering) mounted a rally. The Darley Stable colt won by 3 3/4 lengths and covered the five furlongs in a very quick :57.73.
Julien Leparoux, a 10-pound apprentice, put BALL FOUR (Grand Slam) on the lead in the 5TH and opened up a big lead going by the finish line for the first time in the the 1 3/16-mile turf event. Carrying only 111 pounds and loose on the lead over firm turf, Ball Four never looked back and cruised to a two-length win in the fast time of 1:53.28 for Patrick Biancone. Grand Slam is a very underrated turf sire and it was a surprise that Leparoux put Ball Four on the lead since he hadn't shown much speed in the past.
When you card 12 races on Travers Day and race six days a week, something has to give. Todayís 3RD race had a field of six and the 7TH only had four starters despite the $60,000 purse. John Velazquez gunned BOHEMIAN LADY (Carson City) to the front in the latter and never looked back to win by six lengths in 1:50.40. The four-year-old filly was very hot going to the post and wanted to go even faster than Velazquez would let her early in the race, but once she settled down she leveled off beautifully and cruised home. It was the first winner of week five for leading trainer Todd Pletcher, who now has 17 wins and leads Rick Dutrow by five.
Bailey and Edgar Prado each had two wins and Prado now leads Velazquez 34 to 27 in the riders standings. Bailey has 25 wins from only 97 starters and is winning at a meet-high 26 percent clip. Velazquez has five mounts on Friday and all are for Pletcher, so if he's going to make a move on Prado tomorrow would be the day.
Horses to Watch
4TH - GUNS DRAWN (Carson City) was making a good middle move before blowing the turn and losing tons of ground at the top of the stretch. A new bit might help and he did look good up until that point.
9TH - FORBIDDEN SEA (Spectacular Bid) rallied nicely to get beat less than a length despite being bumped and forced to rally wide.
2ND - PIMM'S O'CLOCK (More Than Ready) dueled through very fast fractions on a dull track on opening day. He held on for third and tries turf with a top pedigree.
5TH - PHILLIP X. (City Zip) was a good second from post 10 in his career debut for a sire who is off to a great start with his first-crop juveniles. He draws outside again but goes an extra furlong and gets Javier Castellano.
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