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THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, 2014

Racing Headlines

California Chrome to Penn Derby

California Chrome will use the $1 million race at Parx as his prep for the BC Classic (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography/Chelsea Durand)
Kentucky Derby and Preakness star California Chrome will return from his summer vacation in the September 20 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx, according to an array of published reports on Thursday.

Last seen finishing a dead-heat fourth in the June 7 Belmont Stakes, the Art Sherman pupil has as his ultimate objective the November 1 Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

The Los Alamitos-based California Chrome had the option of staying closer to home and prepping in the Grade 1, $300,000 Awesome Again on September 27 at Santa Anita, where he would have faced older horses for the first time. But connections have opted to ship across the country to Parx for the Grade 2, $1 million test versus fellow sophomores.

Aside from the lucrative purse, the Pennsylvania Derby also offers $50,000 bonuses to both the owner and trainer of entrants who have won one of five marquee races for sophomores -- the classics comprising the Triple Crown, the Haskell and the Travers. California Chrome qualifies as the Derby/Preakness hero.

Sherman told Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News that Parx's monetary incentives played a key role in the decision.

"Santa Anita said we know the $100,000 that you and the owners will get made your decision," Sherman said. "I told them, 'It sure as hell helped.'"

Bred and campaigned by Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome reeled off a six-race winning streak before his Triple Crown dreams were dashed in the Belmont. The flashy chestnut dominated fellow Cal-breds in the King Glorious, the last stakes ever run at Hollywood Park, and the California Cup Derby. Effortlessly stepping up to face graded rivals on the Triple Crown trail, he romped in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby, propelling himself into 5-2 favoritism for the Kentucky Derby.

California Chrome justified that status with a 1 3/4-length decision in the "Run for the Roses" at Churchill Downs. He successfully invaded Baltimore for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, driving to a 1 1/2-length victory as the 1-2 choice in the Preakness. Fans sent him off as the 4-5 favorite to end the Triple Crown drought in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, but he wound up a dead-heat fourth after a troubled start.

After the Triple Crown grind, California Chrome returned to his birthplace, Harris Farms near Coalinga, California, for a well-deserved rest. Since rejoining Sherman at Los Alamitos, he has posted a pair of works -- a three-furlong leg-stretcher in :37 3/5 on August 8 and a half-mile move in :50 2/5 on August 15.

California Chrome, currently the front runner for an Eclipse Award as champion three-year-old male, has bankrolled $3,532,650 from his 13-8-1-0 line.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

California Chrome to Penn Derby

California Chrome will use the $1 million race at Parx as his prep for the BC Classic (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography/Chelsea Durand)
Kentucky Derby and Preakness star California Chrome will return from his summer vacation in the September 20 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx, according to an array of published reports on Thursday.

Last seen finishing a dead-heat fourth in the June 7 Belmont Stakes, the Art Sherman pupil has as his ultimate objective the November 1 Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

The Los Alamitos-based California Chrome had the option of staying closer to home and prepping in the Grade 1, $300,000 Awesome Again on September 27 at Santa Anita, where he would have faced older horses for the first time. But connections have opted to ship across the country to Parx for the Grade 2, $1 million test versus fellow sophomores.

Aside from the lucrative purse, the Pennsylvania Derby also offers $50,000 bonuses to both the owner and trainer of entrants who have won one of five marquee races for sophomores -- the classics comprising the Triple Crown, the Haskell and the Travers. California Chrome qualifies as the Derby/Preakness hero.

Sherman told Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News that Parx's monetary incentives played a key role in the decision.

"Santa Anita said we know the $100,000 that you and the owners will get made your decision," Sherman said. "I told them, 'It sure as hell helped.'"

Bred and campaigned by Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome reeled off a six-race winning streak before his Triple Crown dreams were dashed in the Belmont. The flashy chestnut dominated fellow Cal-breds in the King Glorious, the last stakes ever run at Hollywood Park, and the California Cup Derby. Effortlessly stepping up to face graded rivals on the Triple Crown trail, he romped in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby, propelling himself into 5-2 favoritism for the Kentucky Derby.

California Chrome justified that status with a 1 3/4-length decision in the "Run for the Roses" at Churchill Downs. He successfully invaded Baltimore for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, driving to a 1 1/2-length victory as the 1-2 choice in the Preakness. Fans sent him off as the 4-5 favorite to end the Triple Crown drought in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, but he wound up a dead-heat fourth after a troubled start.

After the Triple Crown grind, California Chrome returned to his birthplace, Harris Farms near Coalinga, California, for a well-deserved rest. Since rejoining Sherman at Los Alamitos, he has posted a pair of works -- a three-furlong leg-stretcher in :37 3/5 on August 8 and a half-mile move in :50 2/5 on August 15.

California Chrome, currently the front runner for an Eclipse Award as champion three-year-old male, has bankrolled $3,532,650 from his 13-8-1-0 line.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Wicked Strong blows out in the slop for Travers; Bayern gets acquainted with Spa

Wicked Strong just 'skipped over' the track in his three-furlong lung opener (Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos)
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens gave Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers contender Wicked Strong a blowout over a sloppy Oklahoma training track at Saratoga on Thursday morning. Winner of the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and  Jim Dandy on July 26 at Saratoga, Wicked Strong was timed in :38 3/5 for three furlongs.

"It was good, just a basic little quarter of a mile," Jerkens said. "The track was flat and even, so it went good. We weren't looking for a whole lot, anyway, but he skipped over it and got a little something out of it."

Jerkens said he considered putting off the move until Friday but the ultimately stuck to his regular routine with Wicked Strong, the 7-2 third choice on the morning line for the "Midsummer Derby."

"It's not going to be any better tomorrow, so I figured we'd do it," Jerkens said. "He's been accustomed to doing it two days out. If he does it two days out and he does a little more than you expect or wanted him to do, at least he has another day to get over it. We decided to go ahead and do it."

Jerkens and his father, Hall of Fame horseman Allen Jerkens, typically give their horses a blowout leading up to races. The younger Jerkens had Curlin Stakes winner V. E. Day out for three furlongs in :37 3/5 on Wednesday for Saturday's 1 1/4-mile Travers.

"Anytime you expand the lungs close to a race as grueling as that, I would have to think it would be beneficial as long as you're not overdoing it," Jimmy Jerkens said. "We always thought it just put the finishing touches on a horse's fitness. A lot of people don't even dream of doing it and do very well. We just feel a little more comfortable doing it."

Also on Thursday, Haskell Invitational winner Bayern, the 2-1 program favorite for the Travers, had his first look at Saratoga's main track since arriving from California late Wednesday afternoon.

The three-year-old son of Offlee Wild jogged one mile and will gallop on Friday after the renovation break. Stablemate Fiftyshadesofhay, pointing to Friday's Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign, also jogged.

Bayern soaks in the scenery (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher)
"He was going to do something light, anyway," said Jim Barnes, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. "Tomorrow, he'll gallop. The rain should go away and be a nice weekend."

On the Travers undercard, Noble Cornerstone will become the first graded stakes starter for trainer Tom Morley, a 31-year-old who started his first horse in March 2013, when he competes in the Grade 1, $500,000 King's Bishop.

A homebred owned by Len Riggio's My Meadowview Farm, Noble Cornerstone has won two straight against New York-breds, taking a one-mile entry-level allowance by three-quarters of a length in June at Belmont Park and a 6 1/2-furlong optional claimer by a half-length on July 25 at Saratoga. Both starts came against older horses.

Jose Ortiz will ride Noble Cornerstone, 15-1 on the morning line, from post 4 in the seven-furlong King's Bishop.

"The horse has been indicating to me all year that seven furlongs probably is his best trip," Morley said. "He's had to run against older statebreds. He just got there last time going 6 1/2 furlongs, and this is an opportunity to go a trip that I think is really going to suit him against his own age group."

Morley is a native of England and is a nephew of David Morley, whose accomplishments include a win in the 1997 Ascot Gold Cup with Celeric. A graduate of the Darley Flying Start program, Morley has worked in England with Ed Dunlop and Jeremy Noseda and in the United States with Eddie Kenneally. Since going out on his own, he has won 21 races from 131 starts through Wednesday.

"It's an exciting weekend," Morley said. "I'm looking forward to (running Noble Cornerstone in the King's Bishop). As I said to the owner, I wouldn't be running him if I didn't think he fit in the race."

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Wicked Strong blows out in the slop for Travers; Bayern gets acquainted with Spa

Wicked Strong just 'skipped over' the track in his three-furlong lung opener (Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos)
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens gave Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers contender Wicked Strong a blowout over a sloppy Oklahoma training track at Saratoga on Thursday morning. Winner of the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and  Jim Dandy on July 26 at Saratoga, Wicked Strong was timed in :38 3/5 for three furlongs.

"It was good, just a basic little quarter of a mile," Jerkens said. "The track was flat and even, so it went good. We weren't looking for a whole lot, anyway, but he skipped over it and got a little something out of it."

Jerkens said he considered putting off the move until Friday but the ultimately stuck to his regular routine with Wicked Strong, the 7-2 third choice on the morning line for the "Midsummer Derby."

"It's not going to be any better tomorrow, so I figured we'd do it," Jerkens said. "He's been accustomed to doing it two days out. If he does it two days out and he does a little more than you expect or wanted him to do, at least he has another day to get over it. We decided to go ahead and do it."

Jerkens and his father, Hall of Fame horseman Allen Jerkens, typically give their horses a blowout leading up to races. The younger Jerkens had Curlin Stakes winner V. E. Day out for three furlongs in :37 3/5 on Wednesday for Saturday's 1 1/4-mile Travers.

"Anytime you expand the lungs close to a race as grueling as that, I would have to think it would be beneficial as long as you're not overdoing it," Jimmy Jerkens said. "We always thought it just put the finishing touches on a horse's fitness. A lot of people don't even dream of doing it and do very well. We just feel a little more comfortable doing it."

Also on Thursday, Haskell Invitational winner Bayern, the 2-1 program favorite for the Travers, had his first look at Saratoga's main track since arriving from California late Wednesday afternoon.

The three-year-old son of Offlee Wild jogged one mile and will gallop on Friday after the renovation break. Stablemate Fiftyshadesofhay, pointing to Friday's Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign, also jogged.

Bayern soaks in the scenery (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher)
"He was going to do something light, anyway," said Jim Barnes, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. "Tomorrow, he'll gallop. The rain should go away and be a nice weekend."

On the Travers undercard, Noble Cornerstone will become the first graded stakes starter for trainer Tom Morley, a 31-year-old who started his first horse in March 2013, when he competes in the Grade 1, $500,000 King's Bishop.

A homebred owned by Len Riggio's My Meadowview Farm, Noble Cornerstone has won two straight against New York-breds, taking a one-mile entry-level allowance by three-quarters of a length in June at Belmont Park and a 6 1/2-furlong optional claimer by a half-length on July 25 at Saratoga. Both starts came against older horses.

Jose Ortiz will ride Noble Cornerstone, 15-1 on the morning line, from post 4 in the seven-furlong King's Bishop.

"The horse has been indicating to me all year that seven furlongs probably is his best trip," Morley said. "He's had to run against older statebreds. He just got there last time going 6 1/2 furlongs, and this is an opportunity to go a trip that I think is really going to suit him against his own age group."

Morley is a native of England and is a nephew of David Morley, whose accomplishments include a win in the 1997 Ascot Gold Cup with Celeric. A graduate of the Darley Flying Start program, Morley has worked in England with Ed Dunlop and Jeremy Noseda and in the United States with Eddie Kenneally. Since going out on his own, he has won 21 races from 131 starts through Wednesday.

"It's an exciting weekend," Morley said. "I'm looking forward to (running Noble Cornerstone in the King's Bishop). As I said to the owner, I wouldn't be running him if I didn't think he fit in the race."

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Princess of Sylmar dons blinkers in Personal Ensign; Cigar Street returns

Princess of Sylmar gets an equipment change in hopes of rekindling the spark (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Ed Stanco's Princess of Sylmar will race in blinkers for the first time on Friday in the Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign, a decision trainer Todd Pletcher hopes will help the four-year-old remain focused throughout the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares at Saratoga.

At three, Princess of Sylmar earned Grade 1 wins in the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama and Beldame Invitational. This year, she has won the Cat Cay Stakes in April at Aqueduct and finished second by a head in the Ogden Phipps in June at Belmont and second by 2 3/4 lengths in the Delaware Handicap on July 12.

"We trained her in blinkers a few times and got the effect we were looking for," Pletcher said. "It will be interesting to see what transpires, but she's indicating she's in very good form at the moment. I'm not concerned about her being close to the pace or off the pace, just as long as she takes (jockey) Javier (Castellano) wherever he wants to take her."

Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice, sixth in the Whitney on August 2, could be outfitted with blinkers for the Grade 1, $600,000 Woodward on August 30, but Pletcher will not make a decision until after the four-year-old breezes on Sunday. The 2013 Belmont Stakes and 2014 Metropolitan Handicap winner wore blinkers when he breezed four furlongs in :48 4/5 on Saturday. He hasn't worn blinkers in a race since finishing 12th in the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

"We're considering (having Palace Malice wear blinkers in the Woodward), but aren't committed to it," Pletcher said.

Pletcher said some older horses do not always give their best effort, which inspired him to have Princess of Sylmar wear blinkers in the Personal Ensign and consider putting blinkers on Palace Malice for the Woodward.

"Sometimes as horses get a little older they, perhaps, get a little complacent," Pletcher said. "Something like that might reinvigorate their enthusiasm. We just feel like we need to find a little something extra there."

Cigar Street has been sidelined since capturing the Skip Away in March 2013 (Joe Ganley/EquiSport Photos)
On Friday's Personal Ensign undercard, Grade 3 winner Cigar Street will return from a 17-month layoff in an optional claimer for owners Jake Ballis and NBA power forward Rashard Lewis.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Cigar Street has not raced since winning the Skip Away at Gulfstream Park in March 2013 when beat the previous year's Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy, 2011 Louisiana Derby winner Pants On Fire, 2012 Travers dead-heat winner Golden Ticket and 2010 Breeders' Cup Marathon winner Eldaafer.

"He's been off a long time," Mott said. "We're just glad to get him back into action. Any horse that has been off that long and running against fit horses is going to be up against it. He's a quality horse. I just hope he can run a credible race that we can build upon. You just never know what horses can do when they have been off for that length of time."

Mott knows that Friday's 5TH race at 1 1/8 miles will not be an easy task for Cigar Street, who has been made the 2-1 morning-line favorite by NYRA linemaker Eric Donovan. However, Mott realizes this race is much easier than the Grade 1, $600,000 Woodward on August 30, in which he could have faced the likes of Palace Malice.

"We got lucky. We didn't want to have to run him in the Woodward. That would be deep water," Mott said. "The distance is probably a good distance for him. I would probably rather run him a mile and an eighth than a flat mile just because of the difference in the style of races. If you run a mile a Belmont, you've got to go down the backside in 46 seconds (for the half-mile). Here, you can go the first half-mile in 47 or 48 seconds."

In his short career, Cigar Street has won four of six races.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Princess of Sylmar dons blinkers in Personal Ensign; Cigar Street returns

Princess of Sylmar gets an equipment change in hopes of rekindling the spark (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Ed Stanco's Princess of Sylmar will race in blinkers for the first time on Friday in the Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign, a decision trainer Todd Pletcher hopes will help the four-year-old remain focused throughout the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares at Saratoga.

At three, Princess of Sylmar earned Grade 1 wins in the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama and Beldame Invitational. This year, she has won the Cat Cay Stakes in April at Aqueduct and finished second by a head in the Ogden Phipps in June at Belmont and second by 2 3/4 lengths in the Delaware Handicap on July 12.

"We trained her in blinkers a few times and got the effect we were looking for," Pletcher said. "It will be interesting to see what transpires, but she's indicating she's in very good form at the moment. I'm not concerned about her being close to the pace or off the pace, just as long as she takes (jockey) Javier (Castellano) wherever he wants to take her."

Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice, sixth in the Whitney on August 2, could be outfitted with blinkers for the Grade 1, $600,000 Woodward on August 30, but Pletcher will not make a decision until after the four-year-old breezes on Sunday. The 2013 Belmont Stakes and 2014 Metropolitan Handicap winner wore blinkers when he breezed four furlongs in :48 4/5 on Saturday. He hasn't worn blinkers in a race since finishing 12th in the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

"We're considering (having Palace Malice wear blinkers in the Woodward), but aren't committed to it," Pletcher said.

Pletcher said some older horses do not always give their best effort, which inspired him to have Princess of Sylmar wear blinkers in the Personal Ensign and consider putting blinkers on Palace Malice for the Woodward.

"Sometimes as horses get a little older they, perhaps, get a little complacent," Pletcher said. "Something like that might reinvigorate their enthusiasm. We just feel like we need to find a little something extra there."

Cigar Street has been sidelined since capturing the Skip Away in March 2013 (Joe Ganley/EquiSport Photos)
On Friday's Personal Ensign undercard, Grade 3 winner Cigar Street will return from a 17-month layoff in an optional claimer for owners Jake Ballis and NBA power forward Rashard Lewis.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Cigar Street has not raced since winning the Skip Away at Gulfstream Park in March 2013 when beat the previous year's Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy, 2011 Louisiana Derby winner Pants On Fire, 2012 Travers dead-heat winner Golden Ticket and 2010 Breeders' Cup Marathon winner Eldaafer.

"He's been off a long time," Mott said. "We're just glad to get him back into action. Any horse that has been off that long and running against fit horses is going to be up against it. He's a quality horse. I just hope he can run a credible race that we can build upon. You just never know what horses can do when they have been off for that length of time."

Mott knows that Friday's 5TH race at 1 1/8 miles will not be an easy task for Cigar Street, who has been made the 2-1 morning-line favorite by NYRA linemaker Eric Donovan. However, Mott realizes this race is much easier than the Grade 1, $600,000 Woodward on August 30, in which he could have faced the likes of Palace Malice.

"We got lucky. We didn't want to have to run him in the Woodward. That would be deep water," Mott said. "The distance is probably a good distance for him. I would probably rather run him a mile and an eighth than a flat mile just because of the difference in the style of races. If you run a mile a Belmont, you've got to go down the backside in 46 seconds (for the half-mile). Here, you can go the first half-mile in 47 or 48 seconds."

In his short career, Cigar Street has won four of six races.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Pacific Classic brings together Shared Belief, Game On Dude

Shared Belief has yet to be seriously tested in five career starts (Vassar Photography)

Shared Belief versus Game On Dude. That's the main storyline behind Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic, the signature event of the Del Mar summer meeting.

It's a match-up between a young, rising star and the seasoned veteran who is being forced to prove that he still belongs at the highest level.

Shared Belief missed the Triple Crown season due to an injury, but the unbeaten two-year-old champion came back in late spring with a gusto, recording an impressive allowance victory at Golden Gate Fields before a scintillating display of superiority in the July 5 Los Alamitos Derby. Mike Smith has opted to ride the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained gelding over Game On Dude.

An earner of more than $6.4 million, Game On Dude remains very dangerous in a title defense. The seven-year-old gelding posted a superb victory in the Santa Anita H. earlier this season and will be seeking a measure of redemption following a subpar fourth in the June 28 Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Martin Garcia, who substituted for last year's 8 1/2-length romp in the Pacific Classic, regains the mount for Bob Baffert.

Eleven horses were entered for the 1 1/4-mile event on Polytrack, but any result that doesn't feature either Shared Belief or Game On Dude in the winner's circle will be considered an upset.

Shared Belief opened his racing career with a seven-length romp on Golden Gate's Tapeta last October. He was sold and transferred to Hollendorfer afterward and promptly rewarded his new connections with a 7 3/4-length thrashing in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue in mid-November. He concluded his juvenile campaign with another dominant performance, rolling to a 5 3/4-length score in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity on December 14, and was named champion at the Eclipse Award ceremonies a month later.

Pegged as the winter-book Kentucky Derby favorite, Shared Belief sustained a foot injury training at Santa Anita in January and was sidelined for more than six months before returning in late May. He showed his versatility capturing the Los Alamitos Derby on dirt in his second start back, but the son of Candy Ride should appreciate the switch to Polytrack given that he captured his first four outings on synthetic tracks.

Shared Belief registered a career-best 105 BRIS Speed rating last time and can assert himself as a serious contender for both Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old male with a victory over elders Sunday. He's been installed as the 5-2 favorite on the morning line and will break from the far outside post.

Game On Dude rolled home a convincing winner last year (Benoit Photo)

Game On Dude capped a six-race winning streak in last year's Pacific Classic, making amends for a close second in the 2012 edition, but he won't bring the same credentials into this year's running. He defeated a top-class field in the aforementioned Big 'Cap in March, but the son of Awesome Again has dropped his other three starts this year, including a pair of unplaced finishes.

Baffert believes Game On Dude still has something to offer -- the classy gelding shows a nice series of six works on Del Mar's Polytrack -- and the front-runner's speed makes him extremely dangerous, especially if Game On Dude can get away with an uncontested advantage during the early stages. Listed as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, he breaks from post No. 5.

Majestic Harbor, a 6 1/4-length upset winner of the Gold Cup, is pegged as the 9-2 third favorite. The well-traveled son of Rockport Harbor was a non-descript performer last year for Paul McGee, recording unplaced finishes in his lone stakes attempts, the New Orleans H. and Texas Mile, before being transferred back to Sean McCarthy this season. He earned his first stakes victory in the Tokyo City in late March, scoring by three lengths at 1 1/2 miles, and followed with a close third in the May 31 Californian.

The six-year-old romped at 14-1 last time and will keep Tyler Baze in the saddle.

Irish Surf, who earned his first stakes success with an 8 1/2-length thrashing in the July 25 Cougar II at Del Mar, comes next on the morning line at 8-1 along with multiple Grade 2 hero Clubhouse Ride. The front-running Irish Surf is cross-entered to Saturday's Del Mar H. on turf and Elvis Trujillo will be up if he runs in the Pacific Classic. Clubhouse Ride exits a second in the Gold Cup and retains the services of Joe Talamo.

Toast of New York, a convincing winner of this year's U.A.E. Derby over a synthetic track, will make his second start stateside for trainer Jamie Osbourne following a sixth in the deep Belmont Derby on turf. Victor Espinoza picks up the assignment.

Rounding out the field are Grade 2 winner Frac Daddy, fourth as the favorite in the July 26 San Diego; San Diego third-placer You Know I Know, who also finished third in last year's Pacific Classic; Grade 2 victor Imperative; Mystery Train, a multiple Group 1 winner from Argentina who will be making his U.S. debut; and Cougar third-placer Ice Cream Truck, who is cross-entered to the Del Mar H.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Pacific Classic brings together Shared Belief, Game On Dude

Shared Belief has yet to be seriously tested in five career starts (Vassar Photography)

Shared Belief versus Game On Dude. That's the main storyline behind Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic, the signature event of the Del Mar summer meeting.

It's a match-up between a young, rising star and the seasoned veteran who is being forced to prove that he still belongs at the highest level.

Shared Belief missed the Triple Crown season due to an injury, but the unbeaten two-year-old champion came back in late spring with a gusto, recording an impressive allowance victory at Golden Gate Fields before a scintillating display of superiority in the July 5 Los Alamitos Derby. Mike Smith has opted to ride the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained gelding over Game On Dude.

An earner of more than $6.4 million, Game On Dude remains very dangerous in a title defense. The seven-year-old gelding posted a superb victory in the Santa Anita H. earlier this season and will be seeking a measure of redemption following a subpar fourth in the June 28 Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Martin Garcia, who substituted for last year's 8 1/2-length romp in the Pacific Classic, regains the mount for Bob Baffert.

Eleven horses were entered for the 1 1/4-mile event on Polytrack, but any result that doesn't feature either Shared Belief or Game On Dude in the winner's circle will be considered an upset.

Shared Belief opened his racing career with a seven-length romp on Golden Gate's Tapeta last October. He was sold and transferred to Hollendorfer afterward and promptly rewarded his new connections with a 7 3/4-length thrashing in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue in mid-November. He concluded his juvenile campaign with another dominant performance, rolling to a 5 3/4-length score in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity on December 14, and was named champion at the Eclipse Award ceremonies a month later.

Pegged as the winter-book Kentucky Derby favorite, Shared Belief sustained a foot injury training at Santa Anita in January and was sidelined for more than six months before returning in late May. He showed his versatility capturing the Los Alamitos Derby on dirt in his second start back, but the son of Candy Ride should appreciate the switch to Polytrack given that he captured his first four outings on synthetic tracks.

Shared Belief registered a career-best 105 BRIS Speed rating last time and can assert himself as a serious contender for both Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old male with a victory over elders Sunday. He's been installed as the 5-2 favorite on the morning line and will break from the far outside post.

Game On Dude rolled home a convincing winner last year (Benoit Photo)

Game On Dude capped a six-race winning streak in last year's Pacific Classic, making amends for a close second in the 2012 edition, but he won't bring the same credentials into this year's running. He defeated a top-class field in the aforementioned Big 'Cap in March, but the son of Awesome Again has dropped his other three starts this year, including a pair of unplaced finishes.

Baffert believes Game On Dude still has something to offer -- the classy gelding shows a nice series of six works on Del Mar's Polytrack -- and the front-runner's speed makes him extremely dangerous, especially if Game On Dude can get away with an uncontested advantage during the early stages. Listed as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, he breaks from post No. 5.

Majestic Harbor, a 6 1/4-length upset winner of the Gold Cup, is pegged as the 9-2 third favorite. The well-traveled son of Rockport Harbor was a non-descript performer last year for Paul McGee, recording unplaced finishes in his lone stakes attempts, the New Orleans H. and Texas Mile, before being transferred back to Sean McCarthy this season. He earned his first stakes victory in the Tokyo City in late March, scoring by three lengths at 1 1/2 miles, and followed with a close third in the May 31 Californian.

The six-year-old romped at 14-1 last time and will keep Tyler Baze in the saddle.

Irish Surf, who earned his first stakes success with an 8 1/2-length thrashing in the July 25 Cougar II at Del Mar, comes next on the morning line at 8-1 along with multiple Grade 2 hero Clubhouse Ride. The front-running Irish Surf is cross-entered to Saturday's Del Mar H. on turf and Elvis Trujillo will be up if he runs in the Pacific Classic. Clubhouse Ride exits a second in the Gold Cup and retains the services of Joe Talamo.

Toast of New York, a convincing winner of this year's U.A.E. Derby over a synthetic track, will make his second start stateside for trainer Jamie Osbourne following a sixth in the deep Belmont Derby on turf. Victor Espinoza picks up the assignment.

Rounding out the field are Grade 2 winner Frac Daddy, fourth as the favorite in the July 26 San Diego; San Diego third-placer You Know I Know, who also finished third in last year's Pacific Classic; Grade 2 victor Imperative; Mystery Train, a multiple Group 1 winner from Argentina who will be making his U.S. debut; and Cougar third-placer Ice Cream Truck, who is cross-entered to the Del Mar H.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Obviously aims for Del Mar Mile three-peat; Fed Biz defends Pat O'Brien title

Obviously is two-for-two this campaign, but must concede weight all around as the 126-pound highweight (Benoit Photos)
Before the much-anticipated Pacific Classic, Del Mar will stage two other major stakes on Sunday's card -- the Del Mar Mile Handicap on turf, featuring two-time defending champion Obviously and Eddie Read hero Tom's Tribute, and the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien on the Polytrack, highlighted by last year's top two, Fed Biz and Goldencents, along with Bing Crosby winner Big Macher. Both Grade 2 events, the Del Mar Mile and Pat O'Brien each carry a purse of $250,000.

Obviously first burst onto the scene as a dangerous front-running miler here in the summer of 2012. The course record-setter when winning his first Del Mar Mile in 1:32.10, he capped his breakthrough season with a victory in the Arroyo Seco Mile (now the City of Hope Mile) and a fine third to Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Obviously was in sparkling form last summer as well. The Choisir gelding rolled to daylight scores in the American Handicap and Shoemaker Mile, but had to dig deep to fend off He Be Fire N Ice in the 2013 Del Mar Mile. That workmanlike effort turned out to be a harbinger of a decline in form, as Obviously folded to fourth when trying to repeat in the City of Hope and fifth in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Freshened over the winter, Obviously returned good as new in the May 17 American Handicap at Santa Anita. In his debut for retired trainer Mike Mitchell's protege, Phil D'Amato, he went wire to wire by 5 1/2 lengths. The six-year-old made it two in a row with a successful title defense in the June 14 Shoemaker, in its new home at Santa Anita.

Obviously will play his catch-me-if-you-can game from the rail with regular rider Joe Talamo. Although he looms as the speed, he must concede weight all around (from four to 13 pounds) as the 126-pound highweight.

D'Amato will also send out the deep closer Lil Bit O'Fun, who is two-for-two since joining the barn. Claimed for $40,000 by Mitchell out of a victory sprinting down the hill at Santa Anita in October, he rallied to a convincing success over the same course on June 14. Lil Bit O'Fun extended his streak in the July 23 Wickerr at this track and trip, and he boasts back class from his days with Tom Proctor. As a three-year-old in 2011, he landed the Oliver at Indiana Downs and missed by a neck in the La Jolla.

Tom's Tribute, however, is the likeliest candidate to dethrone Obviously. A progressive type who has taken time to learn his craft, the Jim Cassidy trainee was still a work in progress when a belated third to Obviously in the Shoemaker Mile. But Tom's Tribute got into the game much earlier last time in the July 20 Eddie Read, and he kicked on strongly to notch a Grade 1 laurel. The Lion Heart colt keeps Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the saddle, suggesting that a similar stalking trip is in the offing.

He Be Fire N Ice, who was on the upswing at this time last season, is returning from a nine-month layoff for new trainer Cliff Sise. Formerly trained by John Sadler, the California-bred son of Unusual Heat captured the California Dreamin' and just came up a half-length short of Obviously in the Del Mar Mile. A fast-closing second once again in the City of Hope, He Be Fire N Ice was last seen checking in eighth in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux picks up the mount on the confirmed closer.

Rock Me Baby, runner-up to He Be Fire N Ice in the 2013 California Dreamin,' bolted to a 3 1/4-length victory in the off-the-turf renewal on July 27. The Craig Dollase charge was due for some good luck, considering his boxed-in seventh in last September's Eddie D. on Santa Anita's downhill turf and his troubled third in the July 3 Bertrando at Los Alamitos. Now with the overdue taste of stakes success, the West Point colorbearer hopes to keep his momentum going beneath a returning Corey Nakatani.

Completing the field are Tigah, last year's San Francisco Mile winner; Grade 2 veteran Handsome Mike, currently riding a 13-race losing streak; and the ambitiously placed Alpha Bullet, who is likely to flash speed with Elvis Trujillo.

Fed Biz ran down Goldencents in the 2013 Pat O'Brien (Benoit Photos)
Four races later, the Pat O'Brien serves as a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. It has lured reigning Dirt Mile winner Goldencents, but defending champ Fed Biz is the one to beat. Fed Biz's Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, has also been mulling whether to ship to Saratoga for the Forego -- a chance at a Grade 1 coup -- on August 30.

But Fed Biz is a bona fide "horse for the course" at Del Mar. Unbeaten in three tries over the local Polytrack, the blueblood by Giant's Causeway also owns two track records. When storming from well back to run down Goldencents in the 2013 Pat O'Brien, Fed Biz established the seven-furlong mark in 1:21.12. He broke another record in his comeback in the July 26 San Diego Handicap, wiring the field by 5 1/4 lengths and finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:41. Martin Garcia, who was aboard for both, will guide the bay from post 2.

Goldencents, in contrast, has developed a case of seconditis at the seaside track. Narrowly beaten by ill-fated champion Points Offthebench in the 2013 Bing Crosby before being nailed by Fed Biz in the Pat O'Brien, he was again just denied in the July 27 renewal of the Bing Crosby by Big Macher. Goldencents can boast high-class form on dirt, as exemplified by his 2 3/4-length conquest of the Dirt Mile at Santa Anita (in which Fed Biz was only sixth), and his terrific second to Palace Malice off the bench in the June 7 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont. The Doug O'Neill colt has to beat Fed Biz on the latter's preferred surface here, but jockey Rafael Bejarano may be able to work out the right trip.

Big Macher, the 123-pound co-highweight along with Goldencents, has emerged as a leader in the Southern California sprint ranks this season. After capturing his stakes debut in the January 25 Cal Cup Sprint at Santa Anita, the late bloomer missed by a half-length to Sahara Sky in the March 8 San Carlos and came right back to prevail in a photo in the April 12 Potrero Grande. A quarter-crack then cost him time, but trainer Richard Baltas patiently awaited the Bing Crosby, and Big Macher responded with a gritty performance over Goldencents.

A new face to this division is Silentio, who has compiled a solid career as a turf miler for Gary Mandella. The hero of the 2012 Sir Beaufort and 2013 Citation, he has placed in a trio of Grade 1 events, including last November's Breeders' Cup Mile and the Shoemaker Mile last out. Rather than tackle Obviously again in the Del Mar Mile (in which Silentio was third last year), he is shortening up and trying synthetic. The Wertheimer et Frere homebred has been training sharply on the Polytrack, and it's worth remembering that his sire, Silent Name, made an eerily similar switch to win the 2007 Commonwealth at Keeneland, also for Gary Mandella.

The others look in deep. The sophomore Indexical has been holding his own against older sprinters, finishing third in the June 28 Triple Bend and fourth in the Bing Crosby, but needs to step up his game to threaten. The other three-year-old, Diamond Bachelor, is still trying to find his niche after failing as a router on both dirt and turf. But the War Front colt has loads of speed, and fired a five-furlong bullet in :56 3/5 on August 13 as a reminder. The sparingly-raced Color of Courage exits a last-of-three effort in the May 26 Los Angeles, and Syndicated appears to have class concerns.

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Obviously aims for Del Mar Mile three-peat; Fed Biz defends Pat O'Brien title

Obviously is two-for-two this campaign, but must concede weight all around as the 126-pound highweight (Benoit Photos)
Before the much-anticipated Pacific Classic, Del Mar will stage two other major stakes on Sunday's card -- the Del Mar Mile Handicap on turf, featuring two-time defending champion Obviously and Eddie Read hero Tom's Tribute, and the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien on the Polytrack, highlighted by last year's top two, Fed Biz and Goldencents, along with Bing Crosby winner Big Macher. Both Grade 2 events, the Del Mar Mile and Pat O'Brien each carry a purse of $250,000.

Obviously first burst onto the scene as a dangerous front-running miler here in the summer of 2012. The course record-setter when winning his first Del Mar Mile in 1:32.10, he capped his breakthrough season with a victory in the Arroyo Seco Mile (now the City of Hope Mile) and a fine third to Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Obviously was in sparkling form last summer as well. The Choisir gelding rolled to daylight scores in the American Handicap and Shoemaker Mile, but had to dig deep to fend off He Be Fire N Ice in the 2013 Del Mar Mile. That workmanlike effort turned out to be a harbinger of a decline in form, as Obviously folded to fourth when trying to repeat in the City of Hope and fifth in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Freshened over the winter, Obviously returned good as new in the May 17 American Handicap at Santa Anita. In his debut for retired trainer Mike Mitchell's protege, Phil D'Amato, he went wire to wire by 5 1/2 lengths. The six-year-old made it two in a row with a successful title defense in the June 14 Shoemaker, in its new home at Santa Anita.

Obviously will play his catch-me-if-you-can game from the rail with regular rider Joe Talamo. Although he looms as the speed, he must concede weight all around (from four to 13 pounds) as the 126-pound highweight.

D'Amato will also send out the deep closer Lil Bit O'Fun, who is two-for-two since joining the barn. Claimed for $40,000 by Mitchell out of a victory sprinting down the hill at Santa Anita in October, he rallied to a convincing success over the same course on June 14. Lil Bit O'Fun extended his streak in the July 23 Wickerr at this track and trip, and he boasts back class from his days with Tom Proctor. As a three-year-old in 2011, he landed the Oliver at Indiana Downs and missed by a neck in the La Jolla.

Tom's Tribute, however, is the likeliest candidate to dethrone Obviously. A progressive type who has taken time to learn his craft, the Jim Cassidy trainee was still a work in progress when a belated third to Obviously in the Shoemaker Mile. But Tom's Tribute got into the game much earlier last time in the July 20 Eddie Read, and he kicked on strongly to notch a Grade 1 laurel. The Lion Heart colt keeps Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the saddle, suggesting that a similar stalking trip is in the offing.

He Be Fire N Ice, who was on the upswing at this time last season, is returning from a nine-month layoff for new trainer Cliff Sise. Formerly trained by John Sadler, the California-bred son of Unusual Heat captured the California Dreamin' and just came up a half-length short of Obviously in the Del Mar Mile. A fast-closing second once again in the City of Hope, He Be Fire N Ice was last seen checking in eighth in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux picks up the mount on the confirmed closer.

Rock Me Baby, runner-up to He Be Fire N Ice in the 2013 California Dreamin,' bolted to a 3 1/4-length victory in the off-the-turf renewal on July 27. The Craig Dollase charge was due for some good luck, considering his boxed-in seventh in last September's Eddie D. on Santa Anita's downhill turf and his troubled third in the July 3 Bertrando at Los Alamitos. Now with the overdue taste of stakes success, the West Point colorbearer hopes to keep his momentum going beneath a returning Corey Nakatani.

Completing the field are Tigah, last year's San Francisco Mile winner; Grade 2 veteran Handsome Mike, currently riding a 13-race losing streak; and the ambitiously placed Alpha Bullet, who is likely to flash speed with Elvis Trujillo.

Fed Biz ran down Goldencents in the 2013 Pat O'Brien (Benoit Photos)
Four races later, the Pat O'Brien serves as a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. It has lured reigning Dirt Mile winner Goldencents, but defending champ Fed Biz is the one to beat. Fed Biz's Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, has also been mulling whether to ship to Saratoga for the Forego -- a chance at a Grade 1 coup -- on August 30.

But Fed Biz is a bona fide "horse for the course" at Del Mar. Unbeaten in three tries over the local Polytrack, the blueblood by Giant's Causeway also owns two track records. When storming from well back to run down Goldencents in the 2013 Pat O'Brien, Fed Biz established the seven-furlong mark in 1:21.12. He broke another record in his comeback in the July 26 San Diego Handicap, wiring the field by 5 1/4 lengths and finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:41. Martin Garcia, who was aboard for both, will guide the bay from post 2.

Goldencents, in contrast, has developed a case of seconditis at the seaside track. Narrowly beaten by ill-fated champion Points Offthebench in the 2013 Bing Crosby before being nailed by Fed Biz in the Pat O'Brien, he was again just denied in the July 27 renewal of the Bing Crosby by Big Macher. Goldencents can boast high-class form on dirt, as exemplified by his 2 3/4-length conquest of the Dirt Mile at Santa Anita (in which Fed Biz was only sixth), and his terrific second to Palace Malice off the bench in the June 7 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont. The Doug O'Neill colt has to beat Fed Biz on the latter's preferred surface here, but jockey Rafael Bejarano may be able to work out the right trip.

Big Macher, the 123-pound co-highweight along with Goldencents, has emerged as a leader in the Southern California sprint ranks this season. After capturing his stakes debut in the January 25 Cal Cup Sprint at Santa Anita, the late bloomer missed by a half-length to Sahara Sky in the March 8 San Carlos and came right back to prevail in a photo in the April 12 Potrero Grande. A quarter-crack then cost him time, but trainer Richard Baltas patiently awaited the Bing Crosby, and Big Macher responded with a gritty performance over Goldencents.

A new face to this division is Silentio, who has compiled a solid career as a turf miler for Gary Mandella. The hero of the 2012 Sir Beaufort and 2013 Citation, he has placed in a trio of Grade 1 events, including last November's Breeders' Cup Mile and the Shoemaker Mile last out. Rather than tackle Obviously again in the Del Mar Mile (in which Silentio was third last year), he is shortening up and trying synthetic. The Wertheimer et Frere homebred has been training sharply on the Polytrack, and it's worth remembering that his sire, Silent Name, made an eerily similar switch to win the 2007 Commonwealth at Keeneland, also for Gary Mandella.

The others look in deep. The sophomore Indexical has been holding his own against older sprinters, finishing third in the June 28 Triple Bend and fourth in the Bing Crosby, but needs to step up his game to threaten. The other three-year-old, Diamond Bachelor, is still trying to find his niche after failing as a router on both dirt and turf. But the War Front colt has loads of speed, and fired a five-furlong bullet in :56 3/5 on August 13 as a reminder. The sparingly-raced Color of Courage exits a last-of-three effort in the May 26 Los Angeles, and Syndicated appears to have class concerns.

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Full field of 12 entered in Longacres Mile

Stryker Phd, runner-up in last year's race and unbeaten thus far this year in two starts, heads a full field of 12 older runners entered in Sunday's 79th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs. The 12-horse field marks the sixth time in eight years a full field will start in the Northwest's premier horse race.

Stryker Phd is the 5-2 favorite on Rob Rao's morning-line, followed by Prohibition at 3-1 and Title Contender at 9-2.

Those three horses reflect the eclectic nature of The Mile, as Stryker Phd is Emerald Downs' top older horse while Title Contender has been the best older horse at Hastings Racecourse.

Prohibition, meanwhile, has been racing in New York and makes his first start for owners Dr. Mark Dedomenico and North American Thoroughbred Racing Co., who acquired the four-year-old Lawyer Ron gelding privately after a fourth-placing in the Commentator Handicap at Belmont Park.

Trainer Mike Puhich will be the busiest man in the walking ring, saddling three of the 12 runners on Sunday. Puhich, who won the race in 2012 with Taylor Said, sends out Prohibition, Mr. Bowling and Jebrica, the latter acquired in a track-record tying $50,000 claim on August 2.

Most eyes, however, will be on Stryker Phd, a stretch-running Bertrando five-year-old who set stakes records in both starts this year -- winning the one-mile Budweiser Handicap in 1:34.15 and the 1 1/16-mile Mt. Rainier Handicap in 1:40.20 -- as he bids to become the first local horse and Washington-bred winner since Noosa Beach in 2010.

Leslie Mawing, the meet's leading rider and stakes rider, has the mount on the co-highweight at 121 pounds.

"I'm very happy with the post," trainer Larry Ross said after Stryker Phd drew the No. 9 post during Wednesday's Longacres Mile Draw Breakfast. "It looks like most of the speed is on the inside, so that's good for us.

"He should be able to get into a good position. Being on the outside, Leslie (Mawing) can look in and monitor the pace. You couldn't really ask for anything better with his training. I think he's really good right now, for sure. I think his racing schedule will be an advantage. They say third time out of the box is the peak race."

Stryker Phd will see numerous familiar faces in the Longacres Mile.

Don'tmesswithkitten finished second in the Mt. Rainier and sixth in the Budweiser behind the bay; Disruption was fourth in the Mt. Rainier; Jebrica ran fifth in the Mt. Rainier and fourth in the Budweiser; Mr. Bowling filled the sixth spot in the Mt. Rainier but was runner-up two races prior in the Budweiser; Shooting Jacket came in fourth and third in the respective Mt. Rainier and Budweiser; and Twistgrips claimed fifth in the Budweiser.

Two races later, Stopshoppingdebbie will try to extend her unbeaten eight-for-eight mark in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff against four rivals.

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Full field of 12 entered in Longacres Mile

Stryker Phd, runner-up in last year's race and unbeaten thus far this year in two starts, heads a full field of 12 older runners entered in Sunday's 79th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs. The 12-horse field marks the sixth time in eight years a full field will start in the Northwest's premier horse race.

Stryker Phd is the 5-2 favorite on Rob Rao's morning-line, followed by Prohibition at 3-1 and Title Contender at 9-2.

Those three horses reflect the eclectic nature of The Mile, as Stryker Phd is Emerald Downs' top older horse while Title Contender has been the best older horse at Hastings Racecourse.

Prohibition, meanwhile, has been racing in New York and makes his first start for owners Dr. Mark Dedomenico and North American Thoroughbred Racing Co., who acquired the four-year-old Lawyer Ron gelding privately after a fourth-placing in the Commentator Handicap at Belmont Park.

Trainer Mike Puhich will be the busiest man in the walking ring, saddling three of the 12 runners on Sunday. Puhich, who won the race in 2012 with Taylor Said, sends out Prohibition, Mr. Bowling and Jebrica, the latter acquired in a track-record tying $50,000 claim on August 2.

Most eyes, however, will be on Stryker Phd, a stretch-running Bertrando five-year-old who set stakes records in both starts this year -- winning the one-mile Budweiser Handicap in 1:34.15 and the 1 1/16-mile Mt. Rainier Handicap in 1:40.20 -- as he bids to become the first local horse and Washington-bred winner since Noosa Beach in 2010.

Leslie Mawing, the meet's leading rider and stakes rider, has the mount on the co-highweight at 121 pounds.

"I'm very happy with the post," trainer Larry Ross said after Stryker Phd drew the No. 9 post during Wednesday's Longacres Mile Draw Breakfast. "It looks like most of the speed is on the inside, so that's good for us.

"He should be able to get into a good position. Being on the outside, Leslie (Mawing) can look in and monitor the pace. You couldn't really ask for anything better with his training. I think he's really good right now, for sure. I think his racing schedule will be an advantage. They say third time out of the box is the peak race."

Stryker Phd will see numerous familiar faces in the Longacres Mile.

Don'tmesswithkitten finished second in the Mt. Rainier and sixth in the Budweiser behind the bay; Disruption was fourth in the Mt. Rainier; Jebrica ran fifth in the Mt. Rainier and fourth in the Budweiser; Mr. Bowling filled the sixth spot in the Mt. Rainier but was runner-up two races prior in the Budweiser; Shooting Jacket came in fourth and third in the respective Mt. Rainier and Budweiser; and Twistgrips claimed fifth in the Budweiser.

Two races later, Stopshoppingdebbie will try to extend her unbeaten eight-for-eight mark in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff against four rivals.

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Competitive fields assembled for inaugural 'Saratoga Showcase Day'

Highlighted by six stakes races worth $1.15 million, nearly 100 New York-breds will be competing on a special 11-race card for the inaugural "Saratoga Showcase Day" on Sunday at Saratoga.

Captain Serious and Empire Dreams, the winners of the first two legs of the Big Apple Triple, will meet in the $250,000 Albany for three-year-olds. The 1 1/8-mile Albany completes the series, which is also contested at Belmont Park (Mike Lee) and Finger Lakes (New York Derby).

Captain Serious won his first three starts, all against New York-breds, before placing in a pair of graded contests in July. The Successful Appeal gelding made is stakes bow in the seven-furlong Mike Lee and led gate-to-wire for a three-length score over Empire Dreams on May 31. He set the pace again in Belmont's 1 1/16-mile Dwyer before giving way late to Kid Cruz, who prevailed by three-quarters of a length, and most recently pressed the pace when third in the 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam at Saratoga.

Trainer Michael Hushion said the Albany's 1 1/8-mile distance and lucrative purse were the primary reasons why he entered Captain Serious in the Albany instead of taking on graded competition again.

"It was an opportunity to find out how far he'll go, and it's $250,000," the horseman explained. "He's a gelding, so we don't have to try to establish him as a stallion."

Hushion added that getting Captain Serious to relax will be important in the Albany, his first start around two turns.

"I'll leave it up to the rider, wherever he finds him," he said. "With the two turns, I just want him to have him in his hands a little bit and get him comfortable."

After finishing second in the Mike Lee, Empire Dreams won his route and two-turn debut in the New York Derby by 2 1/4 lengths last out on July 12. Prior to that, his accomplishments also include a score in the Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes from last November at Aqueduct.

"He settled and he had a good position," trainer Tom Albertrani remarked. "There was a lot of crowding at the start, but it didn't really affect him. He just sat off the leaders and finished up strongly the last eighth of a mile.

"Stretching him out, he really seemed to benefit from the two turns. He really seems to appreciate the extra ground. We always wanted to stretch him out, but we never had the chance to do it sooner."

Grade 1 victress Discreet Marq headlines a probable field of five for the $150,000 Yaddo sending distaffers 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf. Trainer Chad Brown has entered Dayatthespa into the Yaddo, but is expected to run the mare in the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa on the Travers Day undercard.

Discreet Marq, however, will be taking a step down in class after making six of her last seven starts in Grade 1 stakes, including a win in the Del Mar Oaks last August. Trained by Christophe Clement, the four-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat was most recently third in the July 19 Diana at Saratoga, finishing two necks behind the winner.

"She's raced in four Grade 1s in a row," Clement said. "I wanted to get an easier race for her. The Yaddo will be a little easier than the Ballston Spa on Saturday. She's doing great; I'm excited to see her run.

"It won't be an easy race, but hopefully an easier race," he added. "And then she can go from there, maybe to the Grade 1, ($600,000 Flower Bowl at Belmont Park on September 27)."

Discreet Marq, who will break from post position 5, will be challenged by Effie Trinket from the barn of Richard Violette. That Freud four-year-old miss has faced graded company in four of her last five starts, including a second-place finish in the Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs last fall. Most recently, Effie Trinket finished sixth in the Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap at Parx on July 8.

"She's coming off a subpar effort at Parx, which was probably my fault," Violette noted. "She's kind of refreshed up here and she's training great. If she's back to her very genuine self, then I think we'll have some fun. It's a small field, but I think it's a pretty talented bunch."

A field of salty older turf horses is set to run 1 1/16 miles in the $150,000 West Point, which will feature the return of graded winner King Kreesa.

Now under the care of David Donk, King Kreesa was previously trained by Jeremiah Englehart to five stakes victories, including the Poker last July, and five stakes placings, including the 2012 Jamaica Handicap. The five-year-old gelded son of King Cugat has been remarkably consistent in his career, hitting the board in 12 of 17 turf starts and earning more than $650,000.

King Kreesa has not run since contesting the December 8 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin, in which he faded to 12th after dictating the early pace.

"(Hong Kong) racing just wasn't his style," Donk asserted. "He's a really nice horse, and Jeremiah did a phenomenal job with him. It's not going to be an easy spot -- there's a lot of good New York-breds in that division -- but I've got to start somewhere."

The West Point was not originally on Donk's radar, but changed his mind after some eye-catching works leading up to the race.

"I really didn't have this as an objective until three weeks ago; he worked really well and galloped out really well," the trainer explained. "He's a little further along than I thought he might be. I pointed in this direction, and he's had three really solid works."

Clement will send out another very consistent turfer in Lubash, who has compiled a superlative record of 10-7-4 in 32 starts, with earnings upward of $800,000.

Now a seven-year-old, the bay son of Freud has showed no signs of slowing down. He began his year with a victory in a statebred optional claimer, missed by a length in the Kingston in his next start, and then took a statebred allowance by 2 1/4 lengths on July 13 at Belmont Park in his latest outing.

"My horse is a very fun horse; he's been amazingly consistent over the years," Clement noted. "He's always there and he's very reliable. I would not trade with anybody. Let's go."

Winner of the Bowling Green Handicap in his most recent start, Hangover Kid will go out for trainer Jason Servis in the West Point. The Lemon Drop Kid six-year-old won last year's West Point by a length, and nearly captured the Red Smith last fall at Aqueduct.

Hangover Kid will be making a significant cut back in distance for the 1 1/16-mile West Point, as he is exiting the 12-furlong Bowling Green.

"I think he likes going longer," Servis said. "He ran hard the last few races; he hasn't bounced back completely to his old self. He's had a tough few races but he's all right, so we'll take a shot."

Winner of state-bred stakes at Aqueduct and Finger Lakes, Flipcup will make her Saratoga debut in the $200,000 Fleet Indian for three-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

Flipcup began her career in Canada before arriving in New York last December, winning the East View in her stateside debut. Runner-up in the Busanda to open her 2014 campaign, the Bill Mott-trained Milwaukee Brew filly captured the New York Oaks going 1 1/16 miles by a neck on July 12, returning to Woodbine to run second by a half-length in the Eternal Search on August 2.

Alwaysinstilletos and Jcs American Dream, who ran second and fourth, respectively, in the New York Oaks, will try to turn the tables on Flipcup in the Fleet Indian.

Rounding out the stakes is a pair of races for two-year-olds, the $200,000 Funny Cide and the $200,000 Seeking the Ante for fillies. Both are at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Heading the field for the Funny Cide is the Michael Mareina-trained Bustin It, the lone stakes winner in the field of five. The Bustin Stones colt, second in his debut on June 13 at Belmont Park, returned a month later and posted a front-running, seven-length win in the restricted Rockville Centre going six furlongs.

With a graded start on her resume, Evrybdymstgetstonz will face five others in the Seeking the Ante. Trained by Gary Contessa, the daughter of Bustin Stones was a six-length winner at odds of 23-1 in her first start on July 2 at Belmont Park, then returned on opening day at Saratoga to finish fourth in the Schuylerville after getting squeezed back at the start.

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Competitive fields assembled for inaugural 'Saratoga Showcase Day'

Highlighted by six stakes races worth $1.15 million, nearly 100 New York-breds will be competing on a special 11-race card for the inaugural "Saratoga Showcase Day" on Sunday at Saratoga.

Captain Serious and Empire Dreams, the winners of the first two legs of the Big Apple Triple, will meet in the $250,000 Albany for three-year-olds. The 1 1/8-mile Albany completes the series, which is also contested at Belmont Park (Mike Lee) and Finger Lakes (New York Derby).

Captain Serious won his first three starts, all against New York-breds, before placing in a pair of graded contests in July. The Successful Appeal gelding made is stakes bow in the seven-furlong Mike Lee and led gate-to-wire for a three-length score over Empire Dreams on May 31. He set the pace again in Belmont's 1 1/16-mile Dwyer before giving way late to Kid Cruz, who prevailed by three-quarters of a length, and most recently pressed the pace when third in the 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam at Saratoga.

Trainer Michael Hushion said the Albany's 1 1/8-mile distance and lucrative purse were the primary reasons why he entered Captain Serious in the Albany instead of taking on graded competition again.

"It was an opportunity to find out how far he'll go, and it's $250,000," the horseman explained. "He's a gelding, so we don't have to try to establish him as a stallion."

Hushion added that getting Captain Serious to relax will be important in the Albany, his first start around two turns.

"I'll leave it up to the rider, wherever he finds him," he said. "With the two turns, I just want him to have him in his hands a little bit and get him comfortable."

After finishing second in the Mike Lee, Empire Dreams won his route and two-turn debut in the New York Derby by 2 1/4 lengths last out on July 12. Prior to that, his accomplishments also include a score in the Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes from last November at Aqueduct.

"He settled and he had a good position," trainer Tom Albertrani remarked. "There was a lot of crowding at the start, but it didn't really affect him. He just sat off the leaders and finished up strongly the last eighth of a mile.

"Stretching him out, he really seemed to benefit from the two turns. He really seems to appreciate the extra ground. We always wanted to stretch him out, but we never had the chance to do it sooner."

Grade 1 victress Discreet Marq headlines a probable field of five for the $150,000 Yaddo sending distaffers 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf. Trainer Chad Brown has entered Dayatthespa into the Yaddo, but is expected to run the mare in the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa on the Travers Day undercard.

Discreet Marq, however, will be taking a step down in class after making six of her last seven starts in Grade 1 stakes, including a win in the Del Mar Oaks last August. Trained by Christophe Clement, the four-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat was most recently third in the July 19 Diana at Saratoga, finishing two necks behind the winner.

"She's raced in four Grade 1s in a row," Clement said. "I wanted to get an easier race for her. The Yaddo will be a little easier than the Ballston Spa on Saturday. She's doing great; I'm excited to see her run.

"It won't be an easy race, but hopefully an easier race," he added. "And then she can go from there, maybe to the Grade 1, ($600,000 Flower Bowl at Belmont Park on September 27)."

Discreet Marq, who will break from post position 5, will be challenged by Effie Trinket from the barn of Richard Violette. That Freud four-year-old miss has faced graded company in four of her last five starts, including a second-place finish in the Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs last fall. Most recently, Effie Trinket finished sixth in the Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap at Parx on July 8.

"She's coming off a subpar effort at Parx, which was probably my fault," Violette noted. "She's kind of refreshed up here and she's training great. If she's back to her very genuine self, then I think we'll have some fun. It's a small field, but I think it's a pretty talented bunch."

A field of salty older turf horses is set to run 1 1/16 miles in the $150,000 West Point, which will feature the return of graded winner King Kreesa.

Now under the care of David Donk, King Kreesa was previously trained by Jeremiah Englehart to five stakes victories, including the Poker last July, and five stakes placings, including the 2012 Jamaica Handicap. The five-year-old gelded son of King Cugat has been remarkably consistent in his career, hitting the board in 12 of 17 turf starts and earning more than $650,000.

King Kreesa has not run since contesting the December 8 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin, in which he faded to 12th after dictating the early pace.

"(Hong Kong) racing just wasn't his style," Donk asserted. "He's a really nice horse, and Jeremiah did a phenomenal job with him. It's not going to be an easy spot -- there's a lot of good New York-breds in that division -- but I've got to start somewhere."

The West Point was not originally on Donk's radar, but changed his mind after some eye-catching works leading up to the race.

"I really didn't have this as an objective until three weeks ago; he worked really well and galloped out really well," the trainer explained. "He's a little further along than I thought he might be. I pointed in this direction, and he's had three really solid works."

Clement will send out another very consistent turfer in Lubash, who has compiled a superlative record of 10-7-4 in 32 starts, with earnings upward of $800,000.

Now a seven-year-old, the bay son of Freud has showed no signs of slowing down. He began his year with a victory in a statebred optional claimer, missed by a length in the Kingston in his next start, and then took a statebred allowance by 2 1/4 lengths on July 13 at Belmont Park in his latest outing.

"My horse is a very fun horse; he's been amazingly consistent over the years," Clement noted. "He's always there and he's very reliable. I would not trade with anybody. Let's go."

Winner of the Bowling Green Handicap in his most recent start, Hangover Kid will go out for trainer Jason Servis in the West Point. The Lemon Drop Kid six-year-old won last year's West Point by a length, and nearly captured the Red Smith last fall at Aqueduct.

Hangover Kid will be making a significant cut back in distance for the 1 1/16-mile West Point, as he is exiting the 12-furlong Bowling Green.

"I think he likes going longer," Servis said. "He ran hard the last few races; he hasn't bounced back completely to his old self. He's had a tough few races but he's all right, so we'll take a shot."

Winner of state-bred stakes at Aqueduct and Finger Lakes, Flipcup will make her Saratoga debut in the $200,000 Fleet Indian for three-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

Flipcup began her career in Canada before arriving in New York last December, winning the East View in her stateside debut. Runner-up in the Busanda to open her 2014 campaign, the Bill Mott-trained Milwaukee Brew filly captured the New York Oaks going 1 1/16 miles by a neck on July 12, returning to Woodbine to run second by a half-length in the Eternal Search on August 2.

Alwaysinstilletos and Jcs American Dream, who ran second and fourth, respectively, in the New York Oaks, will try to turn the tables on Flipcup in the Fleet Indian.

Rounding out the stakes is a pair of races for two-year-olds, the $200,000 Funny Cide and the $200,000 Seeking the Ante for fillies. Both are at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Heading the field for the Funny Cide is the Michael Mareina-trained Bustin It, the lone stakes winner in the field of five. The Bustin Stones colt, second in his debut on June 13 at Belmont Park, returned a month later and posted a front-running, seven-length win in the restricted Rockville Centre going six furlongs.

With a graded start on her resume, Evrybdymstgetstonz will face five others in the Seeking the Ante. Trained by Gary Contessa, the daughter of Bustin Stones was a six-length winner at odds of 23-1 in her first start on July 2 at Belmont Park, then returned on opening day at Saratoga to finish fourth in the Schuylerville after getting squeezed back at the start.

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Sole Power out to reclaim Nunthorpe

In a season in which the sprinting category has been dominated by Eddie Lynam's select crew of dragsters, Friday's Group 1 Nunthorpe looks easy prey for Sole Power provided the rain stays away. As strong as ever this season, Sabena Power's seven-year-old returns to the scene of his shock win in this race in 2010 after registering back-to-back renewals of Royal Ascot's King's Stand June 17. Rain ruled him out of the July 12 July Cup and his trainer is hoping it fails to materialize in large quantities at York.

"If the ground came up soft we would have to consider withdrawing him, but if it was good-to-soft we would probably take a chance with him," he explained.

"Since being forced to miss the July Cup because of the soft ground he has had a bad skin infection, like ring worm or dermatitis, which forced him to miss 10 days of training. We had to have his rugs off the whole time, which was not ideal, but it is better that it happened in the summer, when it is warmer, and he has been back in full training for two weeks and worked well on Tuesday morning.

"My gut feeling is that he may not be quite in the same form as he was before Royal Ascot, but he is coming back to himself day by day so we will take him to York hopeful rather than confident. This will be the fourth time that he has run in the Nunthorpe. He is about 45 kilos heavier now than when he won it in 2010 so he has developed a lot and got a lot stronger.

"Like a good wine he seems to get better with age and hopefully that can carry on a bit longer."

Another veteran who is at a peak at present is Norcroft Park Stud's Take Cover, who showed impressive pillar-to-post pace when besting Extortionist and Moviesta in Goodwood's King George at the start of the month. This flat, fast five is tailor-made for the homebred and trainer David Griffiths who has only 20 horses in his stable, is feeling the pressure.

"I think Sole Power is the one seriously, seriously good horse that you would be scared of, but I think we are entitled to take our chance," he told PA Sport. "If you look at the Goodwood race, a lot of them were proven Group performers. On paper, it was pretty much a Group 1. The times came out very fast. I think one of the furlongs was done in nine seconds and change, which is not unheard of, but it's very rare."

Two others that should figure from contrasting ends of the experience spectrum are Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier's Cougar Mountain and Brian Joffee and Myron Berzack's Shea Shea. While the former was just three lengths fifth in the July Cup on only his second start, the triple Group 1 winner Shea Shea is seven and bids to atone for his half-length loss to the surprise package Jwala in this race 12 months ago.

Aidan O'Brien said of the three-year-old, "Cougar Mountain seems to be fine since his run in the July Cup. Obviously, it was a big jump up for a very young and inexperienced horse, so we have to be very careful and tender with him. But he seems to be in good form."

Friday's Group 2 Lonsdale Cup at York acts as the next installment in the staying saga of 2014, with the July 31 Goodwood Cup hero Cavalryman taking center stage. Bar some minor blips along the way, the career of Godolphin's eight-year-old has boasted an admirable consistency at or near the top table and this term could arguably be described as his most accomplished. Few expected him to win the 12-furlong Princess of Wales's at Newmarket July 10 prior to his Goodwood triumph, but versatility is one of his mainstays and that middle-distance speed is always dangerous in these marathon contests.

"Cavalryman is doing well and had a nice blowout on the gallops the other day," trainer Saeed bin Suroor said. "He is a brilliant horse who is very tough. Some horses improve with age and others do the opposite but with him he has kept on improving, both physically and mentally. He always looks wonderful. He wouldn't want the ground to be too soft, but good or good-to-soft would be fine."

Taking him on again is the Queen's Estimate, who was a major disappointment when eighth at Goodwood having run a neck second to Leading Light in the June 19 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Racing Manager John Warren told PA Sport, "Hopefully, she can get back on track. Sir Michael (Stoute) is certainly very happy with her and hopefully we can leave Goodwood behind us. We're very positive she will give a good account of herself and hopefully give her true running. The track should certainly suit her much better than Goodwood and the faster the ground the better for her, I think. Unless there is a torrential downpour and the going changes significantly, I don't think there will be any excuses."

Times Up, who won this two years ago, has to enter the equation coming off a break after two seventh placings when the Ed Dunlop stable was not firing in the 12-furlong Jockey Club at Newmarket May 3 and Prix Vicomtesse Vigier over nearly two miles at Longchamp May 25.

"His first run of the year came when my horses weren't very well and his second run was in very bad ground when he probably wasn't right either," Dunlop told PA Sport. "This is very much like his first run of the year, but he's ready to run and we want to get him out to put him right for Doncaster (alluding to the Cup on September 12). Hopefully we'll see something tomorrow, but I would expect him to improve."

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Sole Power out to reclaim Nunthorpe

In a season in which the sprinting category has been dominated by Eddie Lynam's select crew of dragsters, Friday's Group 1 Nunthorpe looks easy prey for Sole Power provided the rain stays away. As strong as ever this season, Sabena Power's seven-year-old returns to the scene of his shock win in this race in 2010 after registering back-to-back renewals of Royal Ascot's King's Stand June 17. Rain ruled him out of the July 12 July Cup and his trainer is hoping it fails to materialize in large quantities at York.

"If the ground came up soft we would have to consider withdrawing him, but if it was good-to-soft we would probably take a chance with him," he explained.

"Since being forced to miss the July Cup because of the soft ground he has had a bad skin infection, like ring worm or dermatitis, which forced him to miss 10 days of training. We had to have his rugs off the whole time, which was not ideal, but it is better that it happened in the summer, when it is warmer, and he has been back in full training for two weeks and worked well on Tuesday morning.

"My gut feeling is that he may not be quite in the same form as he was before Royal Ascot, but he is coming back to himself day by day so we will take him to York hopeful rather than confident. This will be the fourth time that he has run in the Nunthorpe. He is about 45 kilos heavier now than when he won it in 2010 so he has developed a lot and got a lot stronger.

"Like a good wine he seems to get better with age and hopefully that can carry on a bit longer."

Another veteran who is at a peak at present is Norcroft Park Stud's Take Cover, who showed impressive pillar-to-post pace when besting Extortionist and Moviesta in Goodwood's King George at the start of the month. This flat, fast five is tailor-made for the homebred and trainer David Griffiths who has only 20 horses in his stable, is feeling the pressure.

"I think Sole Power is the one seriously, seriously good horse that you would be scared of, but I think we are entitled to take our chance," he told PA Sport. "If you look at the Goodwood race, a lot of them were proven Group performers. On paper, it was pretty much a Group 1. The times came out very fast. I think one of the furlongs was done in nine seconds and change, which is not unheard of, but it's very rare."

Two others that should figure from contrasting ends of the experience spectrum are Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier's Cougar Mountain and Brian Joffee and Myron Berzack's Shea Shea. While the former was just three lengths fifth in the July Cup on only his second start, the triple Group 1 winner Shea Shea is seven and bids to atone for his half-length loss to the surprise package Jwala in this race 12 months ago.

Aidan O'Brien said of the three-year-old, "Cougar Mountain seems to be fine since his run in the July Cup. Obviously, it was a big jump up for a very young and inexperienced horse, so we have to be very careful and tender with him. But he seems to be in good form."

Friday's Group 2 Lonsdale Cup at York acts as the next installment in the staying saga of 2014, with the July 31 Goodwood Cup hero Cavalryman taking center stage. Bar some minor blips along the way, the career of Godolphin's eight-year-old has boasted an admirable consistency at or near the top table and this term could arguably be described as his most accomplished. Few expected him to win the 12-furlong Princess of Wales's at Newmarket July 10 prior to his Goodwood triumph, but versatility is one of his mainstays and that middle-distance speed is always dangerous in these marathon contests.

"Cavalryman is doing well and had a nice blowout on the gallops the other day," trainer Saeed bin Suroor said. "He is a brilliant horse who is very tough. Some horses improve with age and others do the opposite but with him he has kept on improving, both physically and mentally. He always looks wonderful. He wouldn't want the ground to be too soft, but good or good-to-soft would be fine."

Taking him on again is the Queen's Estimate, who was a major disappointment when eighth at Goodwood having run a neck second to Leading Light in the June 19 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Racing Manager John Warren told PA Sport, "Hopefully, she can get back on track. Sir Michael (Stoute) is certainly very happy with her and hopefully we can leave Goodwood behind us. We're very positive she will give a good account of herself and hopefully give her true running. The track should certainly suit her much better than Goodwood and the faster the ground the better for her, I think. Unless there is a torrential downpour and the going changes significantly, I don't think there will be any excuses."

Times Up, who won this two years ago, has to enter the equation coming off a break after two seventh placings when the Ed Dunlop stable was not firing in the 12-furlong Jockey Club at Newmarket May 3 and Prix Vicomtesse Vigier over nearly two miles at Longchamp May 25.

"His first run of the year came when my horses weren't very well and his second run was in very bad ground when he probably wasn't right either," Dunlop told PA Sport. "This is very much like his first run of the year, but he's ready to run and we want to get him out to put him right for Doncaster (alluding to the Cup on September 12). Hopefully we'll see something tomorrow, but I would expect him to improve."

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Spencer to retire from the saddle at the end of the current season

Jockey Jamie Spencer announced his retirement from riding upon the conclusion of the current season on Thursday.

The 34-year-old, who was twice named champion British jockey as well as Irish champion once, will assume a new role with Qatar Racing, with whom he is currently contracted, upon his retirement.

"This is a fantastic opportunity and if I have learned anything in my riding career it is that you should take such opportunities when they come along," Spencer told PA Sport. "As much as I love race riding, it is not something I want to do for the rest of my life and while I am not necessarily ready to retire now, I feel at a stage when I am ready for a change.

"I really enjoy being part of the Qatar Racing team, working with Sheikh Fahad, (bloodstock advisor) David (Redvers) and everyone in the team, and so the opportunity to continue that and at the same time start the next chapter in my career appealed to me."

Spencer gained international recognition when he became the youngest rider to win a European classic at the age of 17 when he rode Tarascon to victory in the Irish One Thousand Guineas in 1998. Other notable victories include the 2003 St Leger aboard Brian Boru. He has ridden for Qatar Racing since 2013.

"This has been a big decision and not one I have taken lightly," Spencer continued. "My priority is my family, and thinking of them and their future has played a key part in my decision. I feel I still have a lot to give to racing, and not just as a jockey.

"I would like to thank all the owners and trainers who have supported me throughout my career. I will always be grateful to them for the success I have had and the friendships built along the way."

"Ever since we signed up Jamie he has impressed us with his commitment and contribution," Revers said. "He has been an invaluable team player and this new role will enable him to build on that. I am delighted that we will continue to benefit from his insight, enthusiasm and invaluable experience.

"Jamie will continue to ride for Qatar Racing for the rest of the year. With regard to riding arrangements for 2015, we hope to be in a position to clarify the plans shortly."

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Spencer to retire from the saddle at the end of the current season

Jockey Jamie Spencer announced his retirement from riding upon the conclusion of the current season on Thursday.

The 34-year-old, who was twice named champion British jockey as well as Irish champion once, will assume a new role with Qatar Racing, with whom he is currently contracted, upon his retirement.

"This is a fantastic opportunity and if I have learned anything in my riding career it is that you should take such opportunities when they come along," Spencer told PA Sport. "As much as I love race riding, it is not something I want to do for the rest of my life and while I am not necessarily ready to retire now, I feel at a stage when I am ready for a change.

"I really enjoy being part of the Qatar Racing team, working with Sheikh Fahad, (bloodstock advisor) David (Redvers) and everyone in the team, and so the opportunity to continue that and at the same time start the next chapter in my career appealed to me."

Spencer gained international recognition when he became the youngest rider to win a European classic at the age of 17 when he rode Tarascon to victory in the Irish One Thousand Guineas in 1998. Other notable victories include the 2003 St Leger aboard Brian Boru. He has ridden for Qatar Racing since 2013.

"This has been a big decision and not one I have taken lightly," Spencer continued. "My priority is my family, and thinking of them and their future has played a key part in my decision. I feel I still have a lot to give to racing, and not just as a jockey.

"I would like to thank all the owners and trainers who have supported me throughout my career. I will always be grateful to them for the success I have had and the friendships built along the way."

"Ever since we signed up Jamie he has impressed us with his commitment and contribution," Revers said. "He has been an invaluable team player and this new role will enable him to build on that. I am delighted that we will continue to benefit from his insight, enthusiasm and invaluable experience.

"Jamie will continue to ride for Qatar Racing for the rest of the year. With regard to riding arrangements for 2015, we hope to be in a position to clarify the plans shortly."

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Patinack Farm announces dispersal of bloodstock, properties

Patinack Farm has announced the unreserved dispersal sale of all Patinack Farm bloodstock during the last week of September at the Magic Millions Sales Complex at the Gold Coast, Australia.

A total of 560 lots are cataloged, which includes broodmares, stallions, foals, yearlings, two-year-olds, three-year-olds, and older racehorses.

It will be the largest private Thoroughbred dispersal in Australian history.

The stallions include Murtajill, Monaco Consul, Trusting and Lope de Vega. Some of the notable broodmares include Group 1 winners Allez Wonder, in foal to All Too Hard; Bel Mer, in foal to All Too Hard; Devil Moon, in foal to All Too Hard; Heavenly Glow, in foal to Lope de Vega; La Montagna, in foal to Lope de Vega; Serious Speed, in foal to All Too Hard; Small Minds, in foal to So You Think; and Victory Vein, in foal to Lope de Vega.

"This sale is the largest unreserved, private Thoroughbred dispersal sale in Australian history," said Vin Cox, Magic Millions managing director. "It represents an unparalleled opportunity to buy some of Australia's most valuable breeding and racing Thoroughbreds. Everything will be sold."

Patinack will also disperse its properties, including:

  • Patinack Farm-Richmond Grove breeding farm at Sandy Hollow (3,305 acres) is one of Australia's premier horse breeding nurseries in the rich Hunter Valley of NSW
  • Tremayne at Broke, New South Wales, (3,453 acres) is in the heart of Hunter Valley wine country, adjacent to established vineyards, and with a large water allocation
  • Banoon at Monageeta in Victoria (948 acres) is located in prime Thoroughbred, farming and lifestyle country close to Melbourne, with development potential
  • Patinack Farm--Beaudesert (881 acres) is an established horse spelling and breeding farm, with first class facilities, in a prized location close to Brisbane and Gold Coast
  • Patinack Farm--Wadham Park--Beaudesert (223 acres) is an outstanding training and spelling property for up to 80 horses
  • Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    Patinack Farm announces dispersal of bloodstock, properties

    Patinack Farm has announced the unreserved dispersal sale of all Patinack Farm bloodstock during the last week of September at the Magic Millions Sales Complex at the Gold Coast, Australia.

    A total of 560 lots are cataloged, which includes broodmares, stallions, foals, yearlings, two-year-olds, three-year-olds, and older racehorses.

    It will be the largest private Thoroughbred dispersal in Australian history.

    The stallions include Murtajill, Monaco Consul, Trusting and Lope de Vega. Some of the notable broodmares include Group 1 winners Allez Wonder, in foal to All Too Hard; Bel Mer, in foal to All Too Hard; Devil Moon, in foal to All Too Hard; Heavenly Glow, in foal to Lope de Vega; La Montagna, in foal to Lope de Vega; Serious Speed, in foal to All Too Hard; Small Minds, in foal to So You Think; and Victory Vein, in foal to Lope de Vega.

    "This sale is the largest unreserved, private Thoroughbred dispersal sale in Australian history," said Vin Cox, Magic Millions managing director. "It represents an unparalleled opportunity to buy some of Australia's most valuable breeding and racing Thoroughbreds. Everything will be sold."

    Patinack will also disperse its properties, including:

  • Patinack Farm-Richmond Grove breeding farm at Sandy Hollow (3,305 acres) is one of Australia's premier horse breeding nurseries in the rich Hunter Valley of NSW
  • Tremayne at Broke, New South Wales, (3,453 acres) is in the heart of Hunter Valley wine country, adjacent to established vineyards, and with a large water allocation
  • Banoon at Monageeta in Victoria (948 acres) is located in prime Thoroughbred, farming and lifestyle country close to Melbourne, with development potential
  • Patinack Farm--Beaudesert (881 acres) is an established horse spelling and breeding farm, with first class facilities, in a prized location close to Brisbane and Gold Coast
  • Patinack Farm--Wadham Park--Beaudesert (223 acres) is an outstanding training and spelling property for up to 80 horses
  • Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

    Four Grade 1 winners highlight outstanding Travers field

    Bayern served notice that he'll be a force to be reckoned with when dominating the Haskell on the front end (Carl J. Sari/Equi-Photo)

    A quartet of Grade 1 winners will square off in Saturday's 145th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and the 1 1/4-mile race could have serious championship implications in the three-year-old division.

    Live coverage of the Travers will be part of NBC Sports Network's national telecast from 4:30 to 6 p.m. (EDT). The Travers has a scheduled post time of 5:46 p.m.

    The strong 10-horse field is headed by the up-and-coming Bayern, who broke through with his first official graded stakes victory (disqualified from a narrow win in the Derby Trial) when capturing the seven-furlong Woody Stephens by a resounding 7 1/2-length margin on the June 7 Belmont Stakes undercard.

    The Bob Baffert-trained colt prove to be no one-turn wonder when stretching back out to a route in the July 27 Haskell Invitational, romping by 7 1/4 lengths in the prestigious 1 1/8-mile test at Monmouth Park, and Bayern will now attempt to carry his speed an extra furlong Saturday.

    Favored at 2-1 on the morning line, the son of Offlee Wild drew well on the inside for his front-running style (post No. 2) and Martin Garcia retains the mount.

    "The Haskell was pretty impressive," Baffert said of Bayern, who made his career debut on January 4 and has earned more than $1 million while winning four of seven starts. "Will he take a step backward? I don't' know, but he looks good.

    "He's not a really big horse, but he's fast. He's a handy horse, and he's got a lot of speed. I'm not totally convinced he can go a mile and a quarter, but he's pretty fast. You just have to let him go and what happens, happens. You can't worry about it. When you have a horse with that kind of brilliant speed, you have to use it."

    Wicked Strong thrived with the addition of blinkers in the Jim Dandy while Tonalist may have been a race short in second (NYRA/Coglianese Photo/Chelsea Durand)

    The Travers marks the third stakes match-up between Tonalist and Wicked Strong, who have split their past meetings and are listed as the respective 3-1 and 7-2 second and third choices on the morning line.

    Tonalist made his stakes debut a winning one in the May 10 Peter Pan, scoring by four easy lengths in the slop at Belmont Park, and the Tapit colt followed with an excellent tally in the final jewel of the Triple Crown, gamely capturing the Belmont Stakes by a head with Wicked Strong two lengths back in fourth. Tonalist was favored at 4-5 in his Travers prep, the July 26 Jim Dandy, but wound up finishing second, 2 1/4 lengths behind Wicked Strong.

    Joel Rosario rides the classic winner for trainer Christophe Clement.

    "From (post) 5 on up, that was good for us," assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul said after Tonalist received post 6. "We didn't want to get stuck on the inside. He has tactical speed, but it really is his game being close up and behind horses. He wants to be in the clear. He has a very long stride.

    "(Bayern) probably will go for it. We've got Wicked Strong outside of us (in post 7), and he might go a little bit, too. It could be a good set-up. We don't want to be as wide as we were in the Jim Dandy, so (Rosario) will have to tuck him in a bit more. It's an extra furlong (compared to the Jim Dandy), but I think the horse needed the race last time. He's had two good works since then."

    Wicked Strong added blinkers for the Jim Dandy and raced more forwardly than his previous starts. A close third when concluding his juvenile campaign in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct, the Hard Spun colt returned this year with a pair of disappointing efforts at Gulfstream Park. He rebounded back in New York, taking the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial by 3 1/2 lengths, but experienced a troubled trip finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

    Mr Speaker (right) accelerated on the inside to deny a classy Adelaide in the $1.25 million Belmont Derby (NYRA/Coglianese Photo/Chelsea Durand)

    After a fourth in the Belmont Stakes, Jimmy Jerkens stated his disappointment, noting that Wicked Strong ran only in spots, and the trainer decided to add blinkers for the Jim Dandy. Wicked Strong closely tracked the pacesetter in second before seizing control at the conclusion of the far turn, and proceeded to easily repel the rally of Tonalist in midstretch.

    "It definitely made him get on the bit," Jerkens said of the decision to add blinkers. "Rajiv (Maragh) sent him away from there a little bit, too, so I think it was a little bit of both. I don't think they made him rank by any means. It was a combination of blinkers and Rajiv sending him from there because he wanted to get a nice spot going into the turn that made him close to the pace.

    "I don't think it's going to make him rank by any means. I can't deny that he does seem to run straighter and truer with them on, no question."

    Wicked Strong is attempting to become the 11th horse since 1960 and sixth in the last 12 years to complete the Jim Dandy-Travers double. Seven of the past 10 Travers winners have exited the Jim Dandy, most recently done by Alpha, who dead-heated with Golden Ticket in 2012. 

    Maragh was pleased post 7.

    "I think it's a great post. It gives us some options," the jockey said. "We're posted outside most of the speed horses, and it seems like a very ideal situation. I would think that Tonalist might show a little more speed; he was pretty close to the lead in the Belmont. The No. 7 post gives me a lot of options to see how the race unfolds and pick a good spot. We'll play it by ear and see how the race is going.

    "The great thing with Wicked Strong is you can adjust with him; he doesn't have one specific running style. He's won close to the lead like last time and also has won from pretty much off the pace. Our hands aren't tied to doing anything specific."

    Rice believes Kid Cruz will move forward off his Jim Dandy third (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photo)

    Mr Speaker will be seeking his first win on dirt following a terrific turf victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby, defeating Irish invader Adelaide by a length. He was flattered when that rival came back to capture last Saturday's Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington as the heavy favorite.

    By Pulpit and out of an Unbridled mare, Mr Speaker is bred to relish the main track. But his successes have come strictly on turf and synthetics so far, including a four-length triumph in the Lexington on Keeneland's Polytrack. He didn't run well when trying Gulfstream Park's main track earlier this season, finishing a well-beaten seventh in the Holy Bull, but Shug McGaughey is hopeful that his charge will show more on Saratoga's dirt track.

    "It's just a matter of whether he takes to the dirt or not," McGaughey said. "He'll be fine if he takes to the dirt. You never know on the dirt when you turn their head loose and ask them to run what they're going to do or if the dirt gets to hitting them. I don't think that will be a problem. If he takes to it and does fine, I think we'll be in the ballgame."

    The Hall of Famer McGaughey is one of only eight trainers with three victories in the Mid-Summer Derby, having won with Easy Goer (1989), Rhythm (1990) and Coronado's Quest (1998).

    Mr Speaker shows a couple of fast works on the Saratoga main track this month and will break from the far outside post Saturday with Jose Lezcano.

    Jerkens, who won with his only other Travers starter, Afleet Express, in 2010, will also send out V. E. Day in the Travers. The chestnut son of grass champion English Channel has won three straight starts, including the 1 1/8-mile Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on the eve of the Jim Dandy.

    Four-time stakes hero Kid Cruz will look to improve upon his third-place effort in the Jim Dandy. A sharp winner of the Grade 3 Dwyer and the Easy Goer in his two previous outings at Belmont Park, the late-running son of Lemon Drop Kid will keep Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle.

    "He's coming in great," trainer Linda Rice said of Kid Cruz, who was claimed for $50,000 from his second career start in late November. "We struggled this spring with him with a shoulder and a pinched nerve at the base of his neck. We missed the Wood Memorial and went to the (April 19) Tesio (at Pimlico) instead.

    "The Preakness went poorly but frankly he's coming into this race very well. Despite the fact that the Jim Dandy was kind of an ugly race for us, the goal was to get to the Travers. Hopefully, we'll be ready."

    Kid Cruz, who can provide Rice with the first Travers victory by a female trainer, raced closer than normal during the early stages of the Jim Dandy, dropped back going down the backstretch, and came again late for third.

    Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve, fourth in the Jim Dandy, is also entered. The Dallas Stewart trainee breaks from the innermost post with Shaun Bridmohan.

    Rounding out the Travers field are Charge Now and Viva Majorca, the second- and fourth-place finishers in the Curlin; and Jim Dandy fifth-placer and Grade 3 runner-up Ulanbator.

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    Four Grade 1 winners highlight outstanding Travers field

    Bayern served notice that he'll be a force to be reckoned with when dominating the Haskell on the front end (Carl J. Sari/Equi-Photo)

    A quartet of Grade 1 winners will square off in Saturday's 145th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and the 1 1/4-mile race could have serious championship implications in the three-year-old division.

    Live coverage of the Travers will be part of NBC Sports Network's national telecast from 4:30 to 6 p.m. (EDT). The Travers has a scheduled post time of 5:46 p.m.

    The strong 10-horse field is headed by the up-and-coming Bayern, who broke through with his first official graded stakes victory (disqualified from a narrow win in the Derby Trial) when capturing the seven-furlong Woody Stephens by a resounding 7 1/2-length margin on the June 7 Belmont Stakes undercard.

    The Bob Baffert-trained colt prove to be no one-turn wonder when stretching back out to a route in the July 27 Haskell Invitational, romping by 7 1/4 lengths in the prestigious 1 1/8-mile test at Monmouth Park, and Bayern will now attempt to carry his speed an extra furlong Saturday.

    Favored at 2-1 on the morning line, the son of Offlee Wild drew well on the inside for his front-running style (post No. 2) and Martin Garcia retains the mount.

    "The Haskell was pretty impressive," Baffert said of Bayern, who made his career debut on January 4 and has earned more than $1 million while winning four of seven starts. "Will he take a step backward? I don't' know, but he looks good.

    "He's not a really big horse, but he's fast. He's a handy horse, and he's got a lot of speed. I'm not totally convinced he can go a mile and a quarter, but he's pretty fast. You just have to let him go and what happens, happens. You can't worry about it. When you have a horse with that kind of brilliant speed, you have to use it."

    Wicked Strong thrived with the addition of blinkers in the Jim Dandy while Tonalist may have been a race short in second (NYRA/Coglianese Photo/Chelsea Durand)

    The Travers marks the third stakes match-up between Tonalist and Wicked Strong, who have split their past meetings and are listed as the respective 3-1 and 7-2 second and third choices on the morning line.

    Tonalist made his stakes debut a winning one in the May 10 Peter Pan, scoring by four easy lengths in the slop at Belmont Park, and the Tapit colt followed with an excellent tally in the final jewel of the Triple Crown, gamely capturing the Belmont Stakes by a head with Wicked Strong two lengths back in fourth. Tonalist was favored at 4-5 in his Travers prep, the July 26 Jim Dandy, but wound up finishing second, 2 1/4 lengths behind Wicked Strong.

    Joel Rosario rides the classic winner for trainer Christophe Clement.

    "From (post) 5 on up, that was good for us," assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul said after Tonalist received post 6. "We didn't want to get stuck on the inside. He has tactical speed, but it really is his game being close up and behind horses. He wants to be in the clear. He has a very long stride.

    "(Bayern) probably will go for it. We've got Wicked Strong outside of us (in post 7), and he might go a little bit, too. It could be a good set-up. We don't want to be as wide as we were in the Jim Dandy, so (Rosario) will have to tuck him in a bit more. It's an extra furlong (compared to the Jim Dandy), but I think the horse needed the race last time. He's had two good works since then."

    Wicked Strong added blinkers for the Jim Dandy and raced more forwardly than his previous starts. A close third when concluding his juvenile campaign in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct, the Hard Spun colt returned this year with a pair of disappointing efforts at Gulfstream Park. He rebounded back in New York, taking the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial by 3 1/2 lengths, but experienced a troubled trip finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

    Mr Speaker (right) accelerated on the inside to deny a classy Adelaide in the $1.25 million Belmont Derby (NYRA/Coglianese Photo/Chelsea Durand)

    After a fourth in the Belmont Stakes, Jimmy Jerkens stated his disappointment, noting that Wicked Strong ran only in spots, and the trainer decided to add blinkers for the Jim Dandy. Wicked Strong closely tracked the pacesetter in second before seizing control at the conclusion of the far turn, and proceeded to easily repel the rally of Tonalist in midstretch.

    "It definitely made him get on the bit," Jerkens said of the decision to add blinkers. "Rajiv (Maragh) sent him away from there a little bit, too, so I think it was a little bit of both. I don't think they made him rank by any means. It was a combination of blinkers and Rajiv sending him from there because he wanted to get a nice spot going into the turn that made him close to the pace.

    "I don't think it's going to make him rank by any means. I can't deny that he does seem to run straighter and truer with them on, no question."

    Wicked Strong is attempting to become the 11th horse since 1960 and sixth in the last 12 years to complete the Jim Dandy-Travers double. Seven of the past 10 Travers winners have exited the Jim Dandy, most recently done by Alpha, who dead-heated with Golden Ticket in 2012. 

    Maragh was pleased post 7.

    "I think it's a great post. It gives us some options," the jockey said. "We're posted outside most of the speed horses, and it seems like a very ideal situation. I would think that Tonalist might show a little more speed; he was pretty close to the lead in the Belmont. The No. 7 post gives me a lot of options to see how the race unfolds and pick a good spot. We'll play it by ear and see how the race is going.

    "The great thing with Wicked Strong is you can adjust with him; he doesn't have one specific running style. He's won close to the lead like last time and also has won from pretty much off the pace. Our hands aren't tied to doing anything specific."

    Rice believes Kid Cruz will move forward off his Jim Dandy third (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photo)

    Mr Speaker will be seeking his first win on dirt following a terrific turf victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby, defeating Irish invader Adelaide by a length. He was flattered when that rival came back to capture last Saturday's Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington as the heavy favorite.

    By Pulpit and out of an Unbridled mare, Mr Speaker is bred to relish the main track. But his successes have come strictly on turf and synthetics so far, including a four-length triumph in the Lexington on Keeneland's Polytrack. He didn't run well when trying Gulfstream Park's main track earlier this season, finishing a well-beaten seventh in the Holy Bull, but Shug McGaughey is hopeful that his charge will show more on Saratoga's dirt track.

    "It's just a matter of whether he takes to the dirt or not," McGaughey said. "He'll be fine if he takes to the dirt. You never know on the dirt when you turn their head loose and ask them to run what they're going to do or if the dirt gets to hitting them. I don't think that will be a problem. If he takes to it and does fine, I think we'll be in the ballgame."

    The Hall of Famer McGaughey is one of only eight trainers with three victories in the Mid-Summer Derby, having won with Easy Goer (1989), Rhythm (1990) and Coronado's Quest (1998).

    Mr Speaker shows a couple of fast works on the Saratoga main track this month and will break from the far outside post Saturday with Jose Lezcano.

    Jerkens, who won with his only other Travers starter, Afleet Express, in 2010, will also send out V. E. Day in the Travers. The chestnut son of grass champion English Channel has won three straight starts, including the 1 1/8-mile Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on the eve of the Jim Dandy.

    Four-time stakes hero Kid Cruz will look to improve upon his third-place effort in the Jim Dandy. A sharp winner of the Grade 3 Dwyer and the Easy Goer in his two previous outings at Belmont Park, the late-running son of Lemon Drop Kid will keep Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle.

    "He's coming in great," trainer Linda Rice said of Kid Cruz, who was claimed for $50,000 from his second career start in late November. "We struggled this spring with him with a shoulder and a pinched nerve at the base of his neck. We missed the Wood Memorial and went to the (April 19) Tesio (at Pimlico) instead.

    "The Preakness went poorly but frankly he's coming into this race very well. Despite the fact that the Jim Dandy was kind of an ugly race for us, the goal was to get to the Travers. Hopefully, we'll be ready."

    Kid Cruz, who can provide Rice with the first Travers victory by a female trainer, raced closer than normal during the early stages of the Jim Dandy, dropped back going down the backstretch, and came again late for third.

    Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve, fourth in the Jim Dandy, is also entered. The Dallas Stewart trainee breaks from the innermost post with Shaun Bridmohan.

    Rounding out the Travers field are Charge Now and Viva Majorca, the second- and fourth-place finishers in the Curlin; and Jim Dandy fifth-placer and Grade 3 runner-up Ulanbator.

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    Wildcat Red reverts in distance for King's Bishop

    Wildcat Red hasn't competed at less than 1 1/16 miles since taking the Hutcheson in February (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Wildcat Red hasn't competed at less than 1 1/16 miles in five races since taking the February 1 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park, but on Saturday will show his versatility by cutting back to seven furlongs for the Grade 1, $500,000 King's Bishop on the Travers Day undercard at Saratoga.

    The Jose Garoffalo trainee nearly swept the three major sophomore stakes at Gulfstream Park over the spring, taking the seventh-furlong Hutcheson by 4 3/4 lengths and the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth by a head, but just missed when a neck second in the nine-furlong Florida Derby. He would go on to suffer his only unplaced run when 18th following a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby on May 3, and was given some time off following that effort.

    Wildcat Red proved ready for action when returning June 28 with a 10-length romp in the Quality Road at Gulfstream, then shipped to Monmouth Park for a third-place run in the Haskell Invitational last out. The bay sophomore has been getting familiar with Saratoga's track, clocking a half-mile in :49 2/5 last Saturday, and keeps Luis Saez in the saddle for the King's Bishop.

    "I think the King's Bishop is the best spot to put him," Garoffalo explained about opting for this spot instead of the Travers later on the program. "The Travers is going to be tough, and I want to refresh him a little bit. The mile and a quarter is too long for him now.

    "In this race, if we run good we still have a chance to go to (the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on September 20) or somewhere else. It all depends on the result and how the horse comes back."

    Amsterdam winner Coup de Grace will renew his rivalry with... (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Coup de Grace is seeking his third straight stakes win for trainer Larry Jones after posting a three-length victory in the July 26 Amsterdam, the major local prep for the King's Bishop.

    The Tapit chestnut entered that contest off a neck score in the Oh Say at Delaware Park just 21 days earlier in what was his first start for Jones after being conditioned by Chad Brown in his first five lifetime races. During that period of time, Coup de Grace sandwiched a win in the seven-furlong Bay Shore at Aqueduct between unplaced efforts in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull and seven-furlong Woody Stephens.

    "We ran him at Delaware to get a feel for him before we tackled everyone in Saratoga," Jones explained. "He's still moving forward and is comfortable training here.

    "His running style depends on the length of the race," the trainer added. "In sprint races he comes out relaxed and settles off the pace, but in routes he has shown more speed. There's a lot of speed in the King's Bishop, which should be comfortable for him. He's used to coming from off the pace in sprints."

    Rosie Napravnik was aboard Coup de Grace for the Amsterdam and retains the mount in this spot.

    ...Amsterdam runner-up C. Zee in the King's Bishop (Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    C. Zee earned his shot at the King's Bishop after running second in the Amsterdam last out. Transferred from Stanley Gold to Nick Zito when shipped to Saratoga, the Florida-bred son of Elusive Bluff finished second in the Hutcheson and 10th in the Fountain of Youth behind Wildcat Red. He would go on to take the Sir Bear and Cherokee Run Stakes at Gulfstream while placing in a pair of listed events at Tampa Bay Downs and Calder.

    C. Zee was making his first start outside of Florida in the Amsterdam, and has really taken to the Spa's main track, turning in a bullet, best-of-106, half-mile in :46 2/5 last Saturday.

    "I think what happens is the weather is cooler than Florida and (horses) seem to really do well when they get up here," Zito said. "For some reason, he's got a lot of speed up here; a lot of speed. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a very tough race. The King's Bishop every year is getting tougher and tougher. It's a great race. I hope everything goes good. We're looking forward to it. He's a very good horse."

    Joel Rosario has the call on C. Zee in the King's Bishop.

    Stakes debuters The Big Beast and Fast Anna are something of a puzzle in the race after taking their past pair of races by huge margins.

    The Big Beast faces a stern test in his stakes debut (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    The Big Beast broke his maiden and captured an allowance, both at six furlongs, by a combined 10 1/2 lengths in his last two. The Tony Dutrow charge's most recent win, which came at Saratoga, earned him a 102 BRIS Speed rating, tying Wildcat Red's number earned in the Quality Road as a field best. The Yes It's True colt is taking a big step up in class for the King's Bishop but brings along jockey Javier Castellano to help him successfully navigate untried stakes waters.

    "My horse is doing fantastic and I have lots of confidence in my horse," Dutrow stated. "I know it's going to be a tough race, but I'm going to leave it at that. My horse is doing great, and I'm really confident he's going to go over there and run good. And, I respect the competition.

    "He's really, in my opinion, pulled it together tremendously in the last two months. He's very confident in himself. I think he feels like he's the real thing. I'm feeling really good about the horse coming together right at the right time for the King's Bishop."

    The lightly raced Kathy Ritvo trainee Fast Anna is unbeaten in two Gulfstream starts, which he scored by a combined 15 1/4 lengths. Though the Medaglia d'Oro colt didn't break the triple-digit Speed rating mark for the two wins, he did earn a respectable 95 for each. John Velazquez will be aboard for the first time in the King's Bishop.

    "This horse just seems to get better all the time," Ritvo asserted. "We're going to take a big swing, but he's doing so good there's no reason not to run him. I don't think it's going to make a big difference, the traffic or the people or anything that happens. He's professional. He's smart. He couldn't be doing any better."

    Myositis Dan, Noble Cornerstone and Noble Moon complete the field for the King's Bishop. The former triumphed in a pair of seven-furlong all-weather allowances at Keeneland and Arlington, with a head third in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs tucked in between. New York-bred Noble Cornerstone is exiting a pair of victories against state-bred rivals, while Grade 2 hero Noble Moon will be going less than a mile for the first time since taking his maiden debut last September.

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    Wildcat Red reverts in distance for King's Bishop

    Wildcat Red hasn't competed at less than 1 1/16 miles since taking the Hutcheson in February (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Wildcat Red hasn't competed at less than 1 1/16 miles in five races since taking the February 1 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park, but on Saturday will show his versatility by cutting back to seven furlongs for the Grade 1, $500,000 King's Bishop on the Travers Day undercard at Saratoga.

    The Jose Garoffalo trainee nearly swept the three major sophomore stakes at Gulfstream Park over the spring, taking the seventh-furlong Hutcheson by 4 3/4 lengths and the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth by a head, but just missed when a neck second in the nine-furlong Florida Derby. He would go on to suffer his only unplaced run when 18th following a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby on May 3, and was given some time off following that effort.

    Wildcat Red proved ready for action when returning June 28 with a 10-length romp in the Quality Road at Gulfstream, then shipped to Monmouth Park for a third-place run in the Haskell Invitational last out. The bay sophomore has been getting familiar with Saratoga's track, clocking a half-mile in :49 2/5 last Saturday, and keeps Luis Saez in the saddle for the King's Bishop.

    "I think the King's Bishop is the best spot to put him," Garoffalo explained about opting for this spot instead of the Travers later on the program. "The Travers is going to be tough, and I want to refresh him a little bit. The mile and a quarter is too long for him now.

    "In this race, if we run good we still have a chance to go to (the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on September 20) or somewhere else. It all depends on the result and how the horse comes back."

    Amsterdam winner Coup de Grace will renew his rivalry with... (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Coup de Grace is seeking his third straight stakes win for trainer Larry Jones after posting a three-length victory in the July 26 Amsterdam, the major local prep for the King's Bishop.

    The Tapit chestnut entered that contest off a neck score in the Oh Say at Delaware Park just 21 days earlier in what was his first start for Jones after being conditioned by Chad Brown in his first five lifetime races. During that period of time, Coup de Grace sandwiched a win in the seven-furlong Bay Shore at Aqueduct between unplaced efforts in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull and seven-furlong Woody Stephens.

    "We ran him at Delaware to get a feel for him before we tackled everyone in Saratoga," Jones explained. "He's still moving forward and is comfortable training here.

    "His running style depends on the length of the race," the trainer added. "In sprint races he comes out relaxed and settles off the pace, but in routes he has shown more speed. There's a lot of speed in the King's Bishop, which should be comfortable for him. He's used to coming from off the pace in sprints."

    Rosie Napravnik was aboard Coup de Grace for the Amsterdam and retains the mount in this spot.

    ...Amsterdam runner-up C. Zee in the King's Bishop (Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    C. Zee earned his shot at the King's Bishop after running second in the Amsterdam last out. Transferred from Stanley Gold to Nick Zito when shipped to Saratoga, the Florida-bred son of Elusive Bluff finished second in the Hutcheson and 10th in the Fountain of Youth behind Wildcat Red. He would go on to take the Sir Bear and Cherokee Run Stakes at Gulfstream while placing in a pair of listed events at Tampa Bay Downs and Calder.

    C. Zee was making his first start outside of Florida in the Amsterdam, and has really taken to the Spa's main track, turning in a bullet, best-of-106, half-mile in :46 2/5 last Saturday.

    "I think what happens is the weather is cooler than Florida and (horses) seem to really do well when they get up here," Zito said. "For some reason, he's got a lot of speed up here; a lot of speed. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a very tough race. The King's Bishop every year is getting tougher and tougher. It's a great race. I hope everything goes good. We're looking forward to it. He's a very good horse."

    Joel Rosario has the call on C. Zee in the King's Bishop.

    Stakes debuters The Big Beast and Fast Anna are something of a puzzle in the race after taking their past pair of races by huge margins.

    The Big Beast faces a stern test in his stakes debut (NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    The Big Beast broke his maiden and captured an allowance, both at six furlongs, by a combined 10 1/2 lengths in his last two. The Tony Dutrow charge's most recent win, which came at Saratoga, earned him a 102 BRIS Speed rating, tying Wildcat Red's number earned in the Quality Road as a field best. The Yes It's True colt is taking a big step up in class for the King's Bishop but brings along jockey Javier Castellano to help him successfully navigate untried stakes waters.

    "My horse is doing fantastic and I have lots of confidence in my horse," Dutrow stated. "I know it's going to be a tough race, but I'm going to leave it at that. My horse is doing great, and I'm really confident he's going to go over there and run good. And, I respect the competition.

    "He's really, in my opinion, pulled it together tremendously in the last two months. He's very confident in himself. I think he feels like he's the real thing. I'm feeling really good about the horse coming together right at the right time for the King's Bishop."

    The lightly raced Kathy Ritvo trainee Fast Anna is unbeaten in two Gulfstream starts, which he scored by a combined 15 1/4 lengths. Though the Medaglia d'Oro colt didn't break the triple-digit Speed rating mark for the two wins, he did earn a respectable 95 for each. John Velazquez will be aboard for the first time in the King's Bishop.

    "This horse just seems to get better all the time," Ritvo asserted. "We're going to take a big swing, but he's doing so good there's no reason not to run him. I don't think it's going to make a big difference, the traffic or the people or anything that happens. He's professional. He's smart. He couldn't be doing any better."

    Myositis Dan, Noble Cornerstone and Noble Moon complete the field for the King's Bishop. The former triumphed in a pair of seven-furlong all-weather allowances at Keeneland and Arlington, with a head third in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs tucked in between. New York-bred Noble Cornerstone is exiting a pair of victories against state-bred rivals, while Grade 2 hero Noble Moon will be going less than a mile for the first time since taking his maiden debut last September.

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    Better Lucky, Filimbi star on Travers undercard

    Better Lucky (blue cap) faces My Miss Aurelia (yellow cap) and seven others in the Ballerina (Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Better Lucky earned a stellar reputation as a leading turf miler at ages three and four, but has begun to show her versatility in main track sprints this year at age five. The Darley homebred will seek to win one of the latter division's more lucrative events, the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina, at Saratoga on Saturday.

    Best known for victories in the 2012 Matriarch at Hollywood Park and 2013 First Lady at Keeneland, the Darley's homebred five-year-old Ghostzapper mare has made two of her three starts this season on non-turf surfaces. The first was a solid, rallying second to Judy the Beauty in the Madison at Keeneland over Polytrack. The most recent, in the $95,000 Shine Again over the Ballerina's seven-furlong course and distance July 21, resulted in Better Lucky overcoming a 12-length deficit to defeat Grace Hall by a head.

    "We felt like we've accomplished enough with her on the grass -- she's won two Grade 1s -- that if she takes back to the dirt as we saw in the Shine Again, the Ballerina would be a logical race to try her back," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "She's been training as well as I've ever seen her."

    Also exiting the Shine Again is My Miss Aurelia, the 2011 champion juvenile filly, who was making her first start that day following a 16-month absence. She finished third, beaten a half-length, in what was her first outing since moving from the barn of Steve Asmussen to the Todd Pletcher stable. My Miss Aurelia is winless in four outings since taking the Cotillion at Parx in September 2012.

    "I think (the Shine Again), hopefully, will move her forward," Pletcher said. "I thought she ran hard that day. It was a long time since she'd run, and the complexion of the race forced us to get her involved early. I think she needed that run, so I've been pleased with the way she's trained. I thought her last breeze was particularly good and, hopefully, an indication she's in top form for this."

    La Verdad is one of four New York-breds in the field and the most likely pacesetter in the Ballerina. She's used her blazing speed to good use winning several state-bred stakes in addition to the April 19 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct, but a tardy break from post 1 in last month's Honorable Miss Handicap resulted in a non-threatening, fifth-place effort as the 6-5 favorite.

    "Everything went poorly, and she still wound up beaten only three lengths, so we'll forgive her," trainer Linda Rice said. "I think that seven-eighths may not be her best distance. I rather it be six or 6 1/2, but she's come out of the race very well and she breezed excellently the other day. How many Grade 1s do you have for fillies and mares sprinting?"

    Also representing the Empire State's breeding program are Artemis Agrotera, last year's Frizette winner and the only three-year-old in the field. Up the track in her season debut, the June 7 Acorn, she rebounded to defeat state-bred rivals by more than 10 lengths in a course-and-distance allowance July 23.

    "I just decided that, in my opinion, she fits very well in the race, and for a Grade 1 for all that money, it's time to go while she's good," trainer Michael Hushion said. "If she wasn't rounding out to her old-time form, I don't think she would have run as well as she did no matter who she was running against."

    Other locally born contenders are Hot Stones, photo-finish winner of the Bed o' Roses Handicap two back and third in the nine-furlong Shuvee Handicap last time, and the six-year-old Willet, a multiple stakes winner who was Grade 2-placed in the Go for Wand Handicap in late 2012.

    The Ballerina field is rounded out by Kipling's Joy, Voodoo Tales, and Geeky Gorgeous.

    Filimbi has won two of three starts in the U.S., including the De La Rose (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Filimbi, who made a favorable impression taking the $100,000 De La Rose in her U.S. stakes debut August 2, is the likely favorite to repeat in the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa, a 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares on the inner turf.

    A Listed winner in France for owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms, Filimbi was a rough-trip second to multiple graded stakes winner Somali Lemonade in her stateside debut at Keeneland in April. Rebounding next out at the same level at Belmont, she showed a strong late kick to take De La Rose by 1 3/4 lengths while under hand urging from Joel Rosario.

    Second in the August 2 De La Rose while making her first start since December was Dayatthespa, the Grade 1-winning New York-bred who was meeting defeat for the first time over the Saratoga turf. The Chad Brown trainee figures stronger in her second start back, and will take some catching in a race lacking much in the way of pace.

    "I think she got a lot of her last race," Brown said. "The fractions were a little strong, especially coming off a layoff, but we'll be much fitter this time around. She came out of the race well and has been training great."

    Dayatthespa may opt to run in the Yaddo for New York-breds on Sunday, according to Brown, who will assess both fields before making a decision.

    Another Grade 1 veteran, Centre Court, appeared to shake out of her doldrums when taking the Honey Fox at Gulfstream in March, but reversed form in the spring when only fifth in the Jenny Wiley and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile.

    "She had a little trouble at the start (of the Distaff Turf Mile), but she blew a shoe when that happened," trainer Rusty Arnold said. "She ran with one shoe off and bore out most of the way, so it was disappointing, but I feel we have an excuse. We had to give her some time to get it all fixed up, and she's in good shape now."

    In better form of late is Grade 3 winner Abaco, who has rallied to place in three of five starts this year, including a half-length loss in the Jenny Wiley. Last time, in the nine-furlong Diana, the six-year-old mare still trailed a field of 10 at the eighth pole before making a belated wide kick to finish fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind Somali Lemonade.

    Strathnaver, a Grade 3 winner over 12 furlongs, successfully cut back to a mile when a nose second in the Just a Game two back, but did not enjoy a clean trip when sixth in the Diana last time.

    "I was a little disappointed (in her Diana) but more frustrated," trainer Graham Motion said. "She had an awkward trip, getting bumped coming out of the gate and did not get a good set-up. She wasn't beaten very far. It was frustrating; with a better trip I think she's right there."

    The Ballston Spa field is rounded out by 2013 Virginia Oaks winner Nellie Cashman, who was cross-entered to the Violet at Monmouth Park on Saturday, and the overmatched Night Song.

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    Better Lucky, Filimbi star on Travers undercard

    Better Lucky (blue cap) faces My Miss Aurelia (yellow cap) and seven others in the Ballerina (Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Better Lucky earned a stellar reputation as a leading turf miler at ages three and four, but has begun to show her versatility in main track sprints this year at age five. The Darley homebred will seek to win one of the latter division's more lucrative events, the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina, at Saratoga on Saturday.

    Best known for victories in the 2012 Matriarch at Hollywood Park and 2013 First Lady at Keeneland, the Darley's homebred five-year-old Ghostzapper mare has made two of her three starts this season on non-turf surfaces. The first was a solid, rallying second to Judy the Beauty in the Madison at Keeneland over Polytrack. The most recent, in the $95,000 Shine Again over the Ballerina's seven-furlong course and distance July 21, resulted in Better Lucky overcoming a 12-length deficit to defeat Grace Hall by a head.

    "We felt like we've accomplished enough with her on the grass -- she's won two Grade 1s -- that if she takes back to the dirt as we saw in the Shine Again, the Ballerina would be a logical race to try her back," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "She's been training as well as I've ever seen her."

    Also exiting the Shine Again is My Miss Aurelia, the 2011 champion juvenile filly, who was making her first start that day following a 16-month absence. She finished third, beaten a half-length, in what was her first outing since moving from the barn of Steve Asmussen to the Todd Pletcher stable. My Miss Aurelia is winless in four outings since taking the Cotillion at Parx in September 2012.

    "I think (the Shine Again), hopefully, will move her forward," Pletcher said. "I thought she ran hard that day. It was a long time since she'd run, and the complexion of the race forced us to get her involved early. I think she needed that run, so I've been pleased with the way she's trained. I thought her last breeze was particularly good and, hopefully, an indication she's in top form for this."

    La Verdad is one of four New York-breds in the field and the most likely pacesetter in the Ballerina. She's used her blazing speed to good use winning several state-bred stakes in addition to the April 19 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct, but a tardy break from post 1 in last month's Honorable Miss Handicap resulted in a non-threatening, fifth-place effort as the 6-5 favorite.

    "Everything went poorly, and she still wound up beaten only three lengths, so we'll forgive her," trainer Linda Rice said. "I think that seven-eighths may not be her best distance. I rather it be six or 6 1/2, but she's come out of the race very well and she breezed excellently the other day. How many Grade 1s do you have for fillies and mares sprinting?"

    Also representing the Empire State's breeding program are Artemis Agrotera, last year's Frizette winner and the only three-year-old in the field. Up the track in her season debut, the June 7 Acorn, she rebounded to defeat state-bred rivals by more than 10 lengths in a course-and-distance allowance July 23.

    "I just decided that, in my opinion, she fits very well in the race, and for a Grade 1 for all that money, it's time to go while she's good," trainer Michael Hushion said. "If she wasn't rounding out to her old-time form, I don't think she would have run as well as she did no matter who she was running against."

    Other locally born contenders are Hot Stones, photo-finish winner of the Bed o' Roses Handicap two back and third in the nine-furlong Shuvee Handicap last time, and the six-year-old Willet, a multiple stakes winner who was Grade 2-placed in the Go for Wand Handicap in late 2012.

    The Ballerina field is rounded out by Kipling's Joy, Voodoo Tales, and Geeky Gorgeous.

    Filimbi has won two of three starts in the U.S., including the De La Rose (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Filimbi, who made a favorable impression taking the $100,000 De La Rose in her U.S. stakes debut August 2, is the likely favorite to repeat in the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa, a 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares on the inner turf.

    A Listed winner in France for owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms, Filimbi was a rough-trip second to multiple graded stakes winner Somali Lemonade in her stateside debut at Keeneland in April. Rebounding next out at the same level at Belmont, she showed a strong late kick to take De La Rose by 1 3/4 lengths while under hand urging from Joel Rosario.

    Second in the August 2 De La Rose while making her first start since December was Dayatthespa, the Grade 1-winning New York-bred who was meeting defeat for the first time over the Saratoga turf. The Chad Brown trainee figures stronger in her second start back, and will take some catching in a race lacking much in the way of pace.

    "I think she got a lot of her last race," Brown said. "The fractions were a little strong, especially coming off a layoff, but we'll be much fitter this time around. She came out of the race well and has been training great."

    Dayatthespa may opt to run in the Yaddo for New York-breds on Sunday, according to Brown, who will assess both fields before making a decision.

    Another Grade 1 veteran, Centre Court, appeared to shake out of her doldrums when taking the Honey Fox at Gulfstream in March, but reversed form in the spring when only fifth in the Jenny Wiley and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile.

    "She had a little trouble at the start (of the Distaff Turf Mile), but she blew a shoe when that happened," trainer Rusty Arnold said. "She ran with one shoe off and bore out most of the way, so it was disappointing, but I feel we have an excuse. We had to give her some time to get it all fixed up, and she's in good shape now."

    In better form of late is Grade 3 winner Abaco, who has rallied to place in three of five starts this year, including a half-length loss in the Jenny Wiley. Last time, in the nine-furlong Diana, the six-year-old mare still trailed a field of 10 at the eighth pole before making a belated wide kick to finish fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind Somali Lemonade.

    Strathnaver, a Grade 3 winner over 12 furlongs, successfully cut back to a mile when a nose second in the Just a Game two back, but did not enjoy a clean trip when sixth in the Diana last time.

    "I was a little disappointed (in her Diana) but more frustrated," trainer Graham Motion said. "She had an awkward trip, getting bumped coming out of the gate and did not get a good set-up. She wasn't beaten very far. It was frustrating; with a better trip I think she's right there."

    The Ballston Spa field is rounded out by 2013 Virginia Oaks winner Nellie Cashman, who was cross-entered to the Violet at Monmouth Park on Saturday, and the overmatched Night Song.

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    Thirteen entered for Del Mar Handicap

    Fire With Fire discovered his best form at age 6 this season for trainer Neil Drysdale (Benoit Photo)

    The main course happens Sunday, when Del Mar will offer three graded stakes, including the signature $1 million Pacific Classic, but Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Del Mar H. serves as a tantalizing appetizer with a contentious field of 13 entered for the 1 3/8-mile affair on turf.

    Only 12 will be allowed to run over the Jimmy Durante course and pair of horses -- Irish Surf and also-eligible Ice Cream Truck -- have been cross-entered to the Pacific Classic a day later.

    Fire With Fire is a top draw in his first outing since capturing the Charles Whittingham Memorial on May 24. Trained by Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale, the gelding posted another Grade 2 tally earlier this season, the San Luis Rey in late March, and his only setback from four starts this year was a head second in the Last Tycoon two starts back.

    A son of Dynaformer, Fire With Fire has come on at age six and the 11-furlong distance is right in his wheelhouse. Regular rider Tyler Baze will be up on the 123-pound highweight.

    Irish Surf merits respect if his connections opt for the Del Mar H. over the Pacific Classic. A two-time winner on turf, the four-year-old Giant's Causeway colt registered a career-best performance when switching back to Polytrack last time, running away on the front end to an 8 1/4-length score in the 1 1/2-mile Cougar II. The Dan Hendricks charge registered a career-best 105 BRIS Speed rating for his first stakes win and is scheduled to receive a rider switch to Victor Espinoza.

    Grade 1 winner Unbridled Command is a logical contender in his third start of the season. Winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in late 2012, the five-year-old horse made only one start stateside last year, finishing third behind Point of Entry and Animal Kingdom in the Gulfstream Park H. He's recorded two unplaced finishes for new trainer Peter Miller but exits a decent fifth in the Grade 1 Eddie Read, and fitness should no longer be a concern for the honest gray horse, who capped a five-race win streak in the aforementioned Hollywood Derby.

    Elvis Trujillo, who also rode Irish Surf last time, sticks with Unbridled Command and the New York-bred adds first-time blinkers Saturday.

    Big John B will make his stakes bow in fine form for Phil D'Amato, reeling off a pair of sharp wins, including a 7 1/4-length score over allowance/optional claiming foes at Del Mar on July 30. The five-year-old Hard Spun gelding will retain the services of Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

    Grade 2 winner Bright Thought will make his first start for D'Amato. Third when making his debut over Del Mar's turf in the July 23 Wickerr, the five-year-old ridgling fits well at this level and will keep Rafael Bejarano in the saddle.

    Drysdale is also responsible for the filly Topic, who exits a good second in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park. The four-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat recorded her lone stakes victory over the Del Mar turf last year, romping by a 3 1/4-length margin over listed competition. Fernardo Perez picks up the mount.

    Other contenders include Last Tycoon winner Quick Casablanca; multiple Grade 2-placed Si Sage; and stakes victor Cogito.

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    Thirteen entered for Del Mar Handicap

    Fire With Fire discovered his best form at age 6 this season for trainer Neil Drysdale (Benoit Photo)

    The main course happens Sunday, when Del Mar will offer three graded stakes, including the signature $1 million Pacific Classic, but Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Del Mar H. serves as a tantalizing appetizer with a contentious field of 13 entered for the 1 3/8-mile affair on turf.

    Only 12 will be allowed to run over the Jimmy Durante course and pair of horses -- Irish Surf and also-eligible Ice Cream Truck -- have been cross-entered to the Pacific Classic a day later.

    Fire With Fire is a top draw in his first outing since capturing the Charles Whittingham Memorial on May 24. Trained by Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale, the gelding posted another Grade 2 tally earlier this season, the San Luis Rey in late March, and his only setback from four starts this year was a head second in the Last Tycoon two starts back.

    A son of Dynaformer, Fire With Fire has come on at age six and the 11-furlong distance is right in his wheelhouse. Regular rider Tyler Baze will be up on the 123-pound highweight.

    Irish Surf merits respect if his connections opt for the Del Mar H. over the Pacific Classic. A two-time winner on turf, the four-year-old Giant's Causeway colt registered a career-best performance when switching back to Polytrack last time, running away on the front end to an 8 1/4-length score in the 1 1/2-mile Cougar II. The Dan Hendricks charge registered a career-best 105 BRIS Speed rating for his first stakes win and is scheduled to receive a rider switch to Victor Espinoza.

    Grade 1 winner Unbridled Command is a logical contender in his third start of the season. Winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in late 2012, the five-year-old horse made only one start stateside last year, finishing third behind Point of Entry and Animal Kingdom in the Gulfstream Park H. He's recorded two unplaced finishes for new trainer Peter Miller but exits a decent fifth in the Grade 1 Eddie Read, and fitness should no longer be a concern for the honest gray horse, who capped a five-race win streak in the aforementioned Hollywood Derby.

    Elvis Trujillo, who also rode Irish Surf last time, sticks with Unbridled Command and the New York-bred adds first-time blinkers Saturday.

    Big John B will make his stakes bow in fine form for Phil D'Amato, reeling off a pair of sharp wins, including a 7 1/4-length score over allowance/optional claiming foes at Del Mar on July 30. The five-year-old Hard Spun gelding will retain the services of Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

    Grade 2 winner Bright Thought will make his first start for D'Amato. Third when making his debut over Del Mar's turf in the July 23 Wickerr, the five-year-old ridgling fits well at this level and will keep Rafael Bejarano in the saddle.

    Drysdale is also responsible for the filly Topic, who exits a good second in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park. The four-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat recorded her lone stakes victory over the Del Mar turf last year, romping by a 3 1/4-length margin over listed competition. Fernardo Perez picks up the mount.

    Other contenders include Last Tycoon winner Quick Casablanca; multiple Grade 2-placed Si Sage; and stakes victor Cogito.

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    Close Hatches looking to stay on top in Personal Ensign

    Close Hatches (pink cap) edged Personal Ensign rivals Princess of Sylmar and Antipathy in the Ogden Phipps (Jamie Newell/Horsephotos.com)

    Having risen to the top of the older female division this season, Close Hatches will attempt to maintain her position on Friday in the Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign at Saratoga over 1 1/8 miles.

    In the shadow of Beholder and Princess of Sylmar in 2013, Close Hatches has started her four-year-old campaign with three straight wins, including a narrow score in the $1 million Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park on June 7. In that 1 1/16-mile heat, which pitted last year's leading three-year-old fillies in their first rematch since the Breeders' Cup Distaff, Close Hatches prevailed by a neck over Princess of Sylmar, with Beholder only a length behind in fourth.

    It's been 2 1/2 months since the Ogden Phipps, a victory that followed wire-to-wire scores in the Apple Blossom Handicap and Azeri, both at Oaklawn Park. However, trainer Bill Mott is not concerned about the layoff.

    "She's always run pretty good off the bench," Mott said. "Her works have been good, and I think we've got enough in her. She's always run very well when she's had time between races."

    Princess of Sylmar, a clear leader in the three-year-old championship race before her loss to Beholder in the Breeders' Cup last November, captured a minor stakes at Aqueduct prior to her loss to the Ogden Phipps. Last time, she was a 1-5 favorite in the 1 1/4-mile Delaware Handicap, but was beaten nearly three lengths by a loose-on-the-lead Belle Gallantey.

    "She just missed in the Phipps," trainer Todd Pletcher said of Princess of Sylmar. "She ran a big race (in the Phipps) and didn't get a proper set-up in the Delaware Handicap and maybe didn't run her 'A' race, but she has been training exceptionally well and we believe she is sitting on a good effort."

    Princess of Sylmar will wear blinkers for the first time on Friday.

    Antipathy rebounded from her Ogden Phipps loss to take last month's Shuvee Handicap (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Belle Gallantey took advantage of a paceless affair at Delaware Park, but probably yields early control of the Personal Ensign to Antipathy, who was a surprise third in the Ogden Phipps, a neck behind Close Hatches at 30-1. The late-blooming A.P. Indy filly followed up that stakes debut with a two-length score in the Shuvee Handicap, contested over a muddy Saratoga strip on July 27.

    "We need some racing luck and for her to run her 'A' race (to win the Personal Ensign)," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "It's a tough group, but we're happy to be in there, and we'll see how it goes. Hopefully, we'll have a good day. I think she (belongs among the best in the division). She missed by only a half-length in the Phipps and came back and won."

    Stanwyck was runner-up in the Shuvee and also placed in the Apple Blossom, Santa Margarita and Santa Maria earlier this year. The well-built daughter of Empire Maker earned her signature win last October in the Turnback the Alarm Handicap at Belmont, but has seen her bids flatten out in the final furlong of recent starts.

    Fiftyshadesofhay, whose graded stakes scores include the May 11 Ruffian and 2013 editions of the Black-Eyed Susan and Iowa Oaks, returns to dirt following a fourth-place finish in the Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar.

    The stellar Personal Ensign field is rounded out by the speedy, Todd Pletcher-trained Majestic River, who exits a 2 1/2-length score in sub-standard renewal of the Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park.

    The supporting feature is the $100,000 Tale of the Cat, a six-furlong dash for older horses that have not won a graded stakes in 2014. Grade 2 victors Bahamian Squall and Bern Identity are joined by stakes winners Traffic Light, Sensational Slam, and Royal Currier, as well as General George Handicap runner-up Tenango.

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    Close Hatches looking to stay on top in Personal Ensign

    Close Hatches (pink cap) edged Personal Ensign rivals Princess of Sylmar and Antipathy in the Ogden Phipps (Jamie Newell/Horsephotos.com)

    Having risen to the top of the older female division this season, Close Hatches will attempt to maintain her position on Friday in the Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign at Saratoga over 1 1/8 miles.

    In the shadow of Beholder and Princess of Sylmar in 2013, Close Hatches has started her four-year-old campaign with three straight wins, including a narrow score in the $1 million Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park on June 7. In that 1 1/16-mile heat, which pitted last year's leading three-year-old fillies in their first rematch since the Breeders' Cup Distaff, Close Hatches prevailed by a neck over Princess of Sylmar, with Beholder only a length behind in fourth.

    It's been 2 1/2 months since the Ogden Phipps, a victory that followed wire-to-wire scores in the Apple Blossom Handicap and Azeri, both at Oaklawn Park. However, trainer Bill Mott is not concerned about the layoff.

    "She's always run pretty good off the bench," Mott said. "Her works have been good, and I think we've got enough in her. She's always run very well when she's had time between races."

    Princess of Sylmar, a clear leader in the three-year-old championship race before her loss to Beholder in the Breeders' Cup last November, captured a minor stakes at Aqueduct prior to her loss to the Ogden Phipps. Last time, she was a 1-5 favorite in the 1 1/4-mile Delaware Handicap, but was beaten nearly three lengths by a loose-on-the-lead Belle Gallantey.

    "She just missed in the Phipps," trainer Todd Pletcher said of Princess of Sylmar. "She ran a big race (in the Phipps) and didn't get a proper set-up in the Delaware Handicap and maybe didn't run her 'A' race, but she has been training exceptionally well and we believe she is sitting on a good effort."

    Princess of Sylmar will wear blinkers for the first time on Friday.

    Antipathy rebounded from her Ogden Phipps loss to take last month's Shuvee Handicap (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Belle Gallantey took advantage of a paceless affair at Delaware Park, but probably yields early control of the Personal Ensign to Antipathy, who was a surprise third in the Ogden Phipps, a neck behind Close Hatches at 30-1. The late-blooming A.P. Indy filly followed up that stakes debut with a two-length score in the Shuvee Handicap, contested over a muddy Saratoga strip on July 27.

    "We need some racing luck and for her to run her 'A' race (to win the Personal Ensign)," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "It's a tough group, but we're happy to be in there, and we'll see how it goes. Hopefully, we'll have a good day. I think she (belongs among the best in the division). She missed by only a half-length in the Phipps and came back and won."

    Stanwyck was runner-up in the Shuvee and also placed in the Apple Blossom, Santa Margarita and Santa Maria earlier this year. The well-built daughter of Empire Maker earned her signature win last October in the Turnback the Alarm Handicap at Belmont, but has seen her bids flatten out in the final furlong of recent starts.

    Fiftyshadesofhay, whose graded stakes scores include the May 11 Ruffian and 2013 editions of the Black-Eyed Susan and Iowa Oaks, returns to dirt following a fourth-place finish in the Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar.

    The stellar Personal Ensign field is rounded out by the speedy, Todd Pletcher-trained Majestic River, who exits a 2 1/2-length score in sub-standard renewal of the Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park.

    The supporting feature is the $100,000 Tale of the Cat, a six-furlong dash for older horses that have not won a graded stakes in 2014. Grade 2 victors Bahamian Squall and Bern Identity are joined by stakes winners Traffic Light, Sensational Slam, and Royal Currier, as well as General George Handicap runner-up Tenango.

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    In brief

    Heart to Heart was easily recognizable in Saratoga's Better Talk Now (NYRA/Adam Mooshian/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Terry Hanilton's Heart to Heart (English Channel) made all the pace in Wednesday's $100,000 Better Talk Now at Saratoga, earning his first stakes victory with a three-length decision. Left unopposed through opening splits of :23 2/5, :47 and 1:10 3/5, the three-year-old colt widened his advantage through the final furlongs and completed a mile in 1:33 4/5 on the firm turf. John Velazquez was up for trainer Brian Lynch on the Ontario-bred, who was exiting a third in the July 20 Toronto Cup at Woodbine, and Heart to Heart has now won two of three on turf. His overall record reads 10-3-1-2, $196,489. He scored as the 7-2 third choice among seven sophomore rivals. Multiple stakes winner Storming Inti (Stormy Atlantic), the 2-1 favorite, wound up sixth...

    Dual Breeders' Cup champion Beholder (Henny Hughes) is back in training at Del Mar after suffering a minor injury when she finished fourth in Belmont Park's Ogden Phipps (G1) on June 7. Beholder's third work since an August 1 return was a five-furlong bullet in :58 4/5 at Del Mar on August 11. She went five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 on Tuesday. "She went a little too strong in her (August 11) work, so we eased up a little this time," trainer Richard Mandella said. Beholder is on track for the $300,000 Zenyatta (G1) on September 27 at Santa Anita, a race she won last year...

    Starstruck (Galileo) and Irish Mission (Giant's Causeway) ran one-two, respectively, in the Matchmaker (G3) at Monmouth Park on July 27, and on Saturday the pair will line back up against one another in the $100,000 Violet S. (G3) over the same turf course and nine-furlong distance. Starstruck proved best by 1 1/4 lengths to defend her title in the Matchmaker in what was a first win since her 2013 victory in the same race. In the six races between those two races, the five-year-old chestnut also ran fourth in the Rodeo Drive (G1) and Cardinal H. (G3) as well as third in the Marie G. Krantz Memorial H. and Bayou H. Kerwin Clark retains the mount for trainer Larry Jones. Irish Mission took the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Breeders' S., as well as the Woodbine Oaks in 2012 en route to being named the Canadian champion turf female and three-year-old filly for that year. Those two are her only stakes wins, but the chestnut mare would go on to place in the Queen's Plate, Nassau (Can-G2) and Orchid (G3) for trainer Mark Frostad. She was transferred to Christophe Clement for her five-year-old season and has thus far placed in the Sheepshead Bay (G2) and Belmont Gold Cup Invitational as well as the Matchmaker. Irish Mission is primed for a return to the winner's circle and gets Julian Pimentel in the irons on Saturday. Others in with a chance in the Violet include last-out Dance Smartly (Can-G2) heroine Overheard (Macho Uno), Grade 3 victress Nellie Cashman (Mineshaft) and Eatontown (G3) runner-up Triple Arch (Arch)...

    Daring Kathy (Wildcat Heir) tops a 10-filly field entered at Woodbine for Saturday's C$150,000 Ontario Colleen (Can-G3) going a mile on the turf. The David Fawkes trainee had a three-race win streak, including a pair of stakes wins in the Honey Ryder and Starfish Bay, snapped when third last out in the Lake George (G2) at Saratoga on July 23. The three-year-old bay is 4-3-0-1 on turf thus far and gets Justin Stein in the irons for Saturday's test. A competitive group of sophomore fillies has been assembled for the Ontario Colleen, and Executive Allure (Bold Executive) is just one of them. The dark bay miss will attempt to keep her current three-race win streak, including a last-out win in the July 12 Passing Mood, going with Eurico Da Silva aboard. Beaumont (G2) heroine Ready to Act (More Than Ready) enters the Ontario Colleen off her first loss of the year when third in the Penn Oaks on May 31 while Bison City runner-up Hot and Spicy (Tale of the Cat) returns to the turf for the first time since taking her maiden debut in March at Gulfstream Park. Earlier on Woodbine's Saturday program, seven turf distaffers will line up in the C$100,000 Flaming Page at 1 1/2 miles on the green, including Savvy Hester (Heatseeker), third by a head most recently in the Dance Smartly (Can-G2)...

    Stanley Gold has been a dominant force during the summer meeting at Gulfstream Park, saddling the winners of $459,315 in purses -- more than $200,000 higher than the earnings of his closest rival in the trainer standings. The private trainer of Jacks or Better Farm has been particularly prominent in stakes competition during the summer months, sending out four winners and three second-place finishers from 12 starters. Gold will attempt to continue his success in Saturday's $75,000 Forty Niner S., a 1 1/16-mile turf race for three-year-olds, with Best Plan Yet (Hear No Evil), a colt with a history of stakes success, just not recently. After establishing dominance in the Florida Stallion Stakes last year with a victory in the In Reality division, the bay has been winless in six starts this year, although the first three races were against some of the top three-year-olds in the country in the Gulfstream Derby, Holy Bull (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2). With his pedigree, Gold has good reason to think that Best Plan Yet's future may well be in turf racing; he made his turf debut at Tampa Bay Downs in April with an encouraging third-place finish against stakes company. "I thought he ran well in that race, that's why I was so disappointed with his next race," Gold said. The bay returned in the June 14 English Channel two back but could only manage a wide-running sixth over the good going. "Sometimes they just don't perform. We're going to throw it out and try again," Gold stated. "Hindsight might tell you after this race (if he didn't handle the softer turf). Sometimes they don't like a particular turf course." Best Plan Yet went back to the main track on June 28, finishing a distant fourth behind Wildcat Red (D'wildcat) in the Quality Road S., and has been training sharply for his return to turf in the Forty Niner. He's slated to meet Ex Pirate (Malibu Moon) defeated Best Plan Yet in his turf debut but hasn't visited the winner's circle in two tries since. The Kirk Ziadie-trained gelding just returned to competition with a well-beaten sixth earlier this month at Gulfstream following a three-month break. Multiple stakes winner Bolita Boyz (Act of Duty) and dual stakes-placed Breitling Flyer (Ghostzapper) are also in with a chance...

    Ten distaffers have been entered to go 1 3/8 miles over Del Mar's turf in Friday evening's $90,000 CTT and Thoroughbred Owners of California H. Topic (Discreet Cat) captured last year's running by 3 1/4 lengths following a third-place effort in her stakes bow, the American Oaks (G1), but has been unable to visit the winner's circle since. The Neil Drysdale-trained four-year-old came close last out in the Robert G. Dick Memorial (G3), finishing second after having the lead in the stretch, but was disqualified and placed ninth in that 11-furlong contest. Charlie Em (Kheleyf), Customer Base (Lemon Drop Kid) and Perfecta (Pleasantly Perfect) will be facing off once again after finishing in that order in the Possibly Perfect H. on June 26...

    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 register in the archives to be eligible for weekly and seasonal prizes. Week 25 of Night School was entitled "Toteboard Clues." Topics included the truth about the morning-line and how to consider it; early and late money; examining will-pays to preview the odds; and more. The 90-minute live-chat featured Jeremy Plonk and Brian Nadeau. The SiriusXM radio simulcasts of Night School will resume the Tuesday after Labor Day for the 14-week Fall Semester.

    In brief

    Heart to Heart was easily recognizable in Saratoga's Better Talk Now (NYRA/Adam Mooshian/Adam Coglianese Photography)

    Terry Hanilton's Heart to Heart (English Channel) made all the pace in Wednesday's $100,000 Better Talk Now at Saratoga, earning his first stakes victory with a three-length decision. Left unopposed through opening splits of :23 2/5, :47 and 1:10 3/5, the three-year-old colt widened his advantage through the final furlongs and completed a mile in 1:33 4/5 on the firm turf. John Velazquez was up for trainer Brian Lynch on the Ontario-bred, who was exiting a third in the July 20 Toronto Cup at Woodbine, and Heart to Heart has now won two of three on turf. His overall record reads 10-3-1-2, $196,489. He scored as the 7-2 third choice among seven sophomore rivals. Multiple stakes winner Storming Inti (Stormy Atlantic), the 2-1 favorite, wound up sixth...

    Dual Breeders' Cup champion Beholder (Henny Hughes) is back in training at Del Mar after suffering a minor injury when she finished fourth in Belmont Park's Ogden Phipps (G1) on June 7. Beholder's third work since an August 1 return was a five-furlong bullet in :58 4/5 at Del Mar on August 11. She went five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 on Tuesday. "She went a little too strong in her (August 11) work, so we eased up a little this time," trainer Richard Mandella said. Beholder is on track for the $300,000 Zenyatta (G1) on September 27 at Santa Anita, a race she won last year...

    Starstruck (Galileo) and Irish Mission (Giant's Causeway) ran one-two, respectively, in the Matchmaker (G3) at Monmouth Park on July 27, and on Saturday the pair will line back up against one another in the $100,000 Violet S. (G3) over the same turf course and nine-furlong distance. Starstruck proved best by 1 1/4 lengths to defend her title in the Matchmaker in what was a first win since her 2013 victory in the same race. In the six races between those two races, the five-year-old chestnut also ran fourth in the Rodeo Drive (G1) and Cardinal H. (G3) as well as third in the Marie G. Krantz Memorial H. and Bayou H. Kerwin Clark retains the mount for trainer Larry Jones. Irish Mission took the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Breeders' S., as well as the Woodbine Oaks in 2012 en route to being named the Canadian champion turf female and three-year-old filly for that year. Those two are her only stakes wins, but the chestnut mare would go on to place in the Queen's Plate, Nassau (Can-G2) and Orchid (G3) for trainer Mark Frostad. She was transferred to Christophe Clement for her five-year-old season and has thus far placed in the Sheepshead Bay (G2) and Belmont Gold Cup Invitational as well as the Matchmaker. Irish Mission is primed for a return to the winner's circle and gets Julian Pimentel in the irons on Saturday. Others in with a chance in the Violet include last-out Dance Smartly (Can-G2) heroine Overheard (Macho Uno), Grade 3 victress Nellie Cashman (Mineshaft) and Eatontown (G3) runner-up Triple Arch (Arch)...

    Daring Kathy (Wildcat Heir) tops a 10-filly field entered at Woodbine for Saturday's C$150,000 Ontario Colleen (Can-G3) going a mile on the turf. The David Fawkes trainee had a three-race win streak, including a pair of stakes wins in the Honey Ryder and Starfish Bay, snapped when third last out in the Lake George (G2) at Saratoga on July 23. The three-year-old bay is 4-3-0-1 on turf thus far and gets Justin Stein in the irons for Saturday's test. A competitive group of sophomore fillies has been assembled for the Ontario Colleen, and Executive Allure (Bold Executive) is just one of them. The dark bay miss will attempt to keep her current three-race win streak, including a last-out win in the July 12 Passing Mood, going with Eurico Da Silva aboard. Beaumont (G2) heroine Ready to Act (More Than Ready) enters the Ontario Colleen off her first loss of the year when third in the Penn Oaks on May 31 while Bison City runner-up Hot and Spicy (Tale of the Cat) returns to the turf for the first time since taking her maiden debut in March at Gulfstream Park. Earlier on Woodbine's Saturday program, seven turf distaffers will line up in the C$100,000 Flaming Page at 1 1/2 miles on the green, including Savvy Hester (Heatseeker), third by a head most recently in the Dance Smartly (Can-G2)...

    Stanley Gold has been a dominant force during the summer meeting at Gulfstream Park, saddling the winners of $459,315 in purses -- more than $200,000 higher than the earnings of his closest rival in the trainer standings. The private trainer of Jacks or Better Farm has been particularly prominent in stakes competition during the summer months, sending out four winners and three second-place finishers from 12 starters. Gold will attempt to continue his success in Saturday's $75,000 Forty Niner S., a 1 1/16-mile turf race for three-year-olds, with Best Plan Yet (Hear No Evil), a colt with a history of stakes success, just not recently. After establishing dominance in the Florida Stallion Stakes last year with a victory in the In Reality division, the bay has been winless in six starts this year, although the first three races were against some of the top three-year-olds in the country in the Gulfstream Derby, Holy Bull (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2). With his pedigree, Gold has good reason to think that Best Plan Yet's future may well be in turf racing; he made his turf debut at Tampa Bay Downs in April with an encouraging third-place finish against stakes company. "I thought he ran well in that race, that's why I was so disappointed with his next race," Gold said. The bay returned in the June 14 English Channel two back but could only manage a wide-running sixth over the good going. "Sometimes they just don't perform. We're going to throw it out and try again," Gold stated. "Hindsight might tell you after this race (if he didn't handle the softer turf). Sometimes they don't like a particular turf course." Best Plan Yet went back to the main track on June 28, finishing a distant fourth behind Wildcat Red (D'wildcat) in the Quality Road S., and has been training sharply for his return to turf in the Forty Niner. He's slated to meet Ex Pirate (Malibu Moon) defeated Best Plan Yet in his turf debut but hasn't visited the winner's circle in two tries since. The Kirk Ziadie-trained gelding just returned to competition with a well-beaten sixth earlier this month at Gulfstream following a three-month break. Multiple stakes winner Bolita Boyz (Act of Duty) and dual stakes-placed Breitling Flyer (Ghostzapper) are also in with a chance...

    Ten distaffers have been entered to go 1 3/8 miles over Del Mar's turf in Friday evening's $90,000 CTT and Thoroughbred Owners of California H. Topic (Discreet Cat) captured last year's running by 3 1/4 lengths following a third-place effort in her stakes bow, the American Oaks (G1), but has been unable to visit the winner's circle since. The Neil Drysdale-trained four-year-old came close last out in the Robert G. Dick Memorial (G3), finishing second after having the lead in the stretch, but was disqualified and placed ninth in that 11-furlong contest. Charlie Em (Kheleyf), Customer Base (Lemon Drop Kid) and Perfecta (Pleasantly Perfect) will be facing off once again after finishing in that order in the Possibly Perfect H. on June 26...

    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 register in the archives to be eligible for weekly and seasonal prizes. Week 25 of Night School was entitled "Toteboard Clues." Topics included the truth about the morning-line and how to consider it; early and late money; examining will-pays to preview the odds; and more. The 90-minute live-chat featured Jeremy Plonk and Brian Nadeau. The SiriusXM radio simulcasts of Night School will resume the Tuesday after Labor Day for the 14-week Fall Semester.

    Results

    NORTH AMERICAN NON-GRADED STAKES RESULTS

    BETTER TALK NOW S., SAR, $100,000, 3YO, 1MT, 8-20.
    2—HEART TO HEART, c, 3, English Channel--Ask the Question, by Silver Deputy. (C$25,000 '12 ONTSEP). O-Terry Hamilton, B-Red Hawk Ranch (ON), T-Brian A. Lynch, J-John R. Velazquez, $60,000.
    1—Los Borrachos, c, 3, Pulpit--Champagne Taste, by Distorted Humor. O-Wachtel Stable, Brous Stable and Silver Ranch Stable, B-Preston Madden (KY), $20,000.
    7—Pure Sensation, c, 3, Zensational--Pure Disco, by Disco Rico. O-Patricia A Generazio, B-Patricia Generazio (FL), $10,000.
    Also Ran: Here's Johnny, Mark My Way, Storming Inti, Craftsman (IRE).
    Winning Time: 1:33 4/5 (fm)
    Margins: 3, 2 3/4, HD.
    Odds: 3.85, 7.60, 2.70.

    Carryover Watch

    For Friday or Next Raceday

    WOODBINE:   High 5 -- $220,752
    GULFSTREAM:   Pick 6 -- $50,000
    SARATOGA:   Pick 6 -- $35,695

    Results

    NORTH AMERICAN ALLOWANCE RESULTS

    SAR, 7TH, AOC, $85,000, 3YO, F, 1MT, 8-20.
    8—KENZADARGENT (FR), f, 3, Kendargent (FR)--Quiza Bere (FR), by Epistolaire (IRE). (140,000EUR 2013 ARQARC). O-Martin S Schwartz, B-Guy Pariente (FR), T-Chad C. Brown, J-Irad Ortiz, Jr., $51,000.
    4—Fade to Black, f, 3, Street Cry (IRE)--Desert Song, by Unbridled's Song. ($200,000 '12 FTSAUG). O-MeB Racing Stables LLC and Brooklyn Boyz Stables, B-Rabbah Bloodstock LLC (KY), $17,000.
    9—Miss Melinda, f, 3, Malibu Moon--Black Escort, by Southern Halo. ($100,000 '12 KEESEP). O-Fager Stable, B-Grapestock LLC (KY), $8,500.
    Winning Time: 1:35 1/5 (fm)
     
    SAR, 3RD, AOC, $78,000, 3YO/UP, 1MT, 8-20.
    1—CAPTAIN GAUGHEN, g, 4, Disco Rico--V for Vera, by Concorde's Tune. O-Patricia A Generazio, B-Patricia Generazio (NY), T-James T. Ryerson, J-John R. Velazquez, $46,800.
    6—Sanctify, c, 3, Pulpit--Averymerrymoment, by Distorted Humor. O-Parting Glass Racing (Thomas J Gallo), B-Mia Gallo & Mary Kopley (NY), $15,600.
    5—Majestic Raffy, h, 6, Raffie's Majesty--Badger Pocket, by Badger Land. ($2,500 '09 FTMOCT). O-Island Wind Racing, B-Wellspring Stables (NY), $7,800.
    Winning Time: 1:35 2/5 (fm)
     
    SAR, 1ST, OCL, $60,450, 4YO/UP, A2 3/8MT, 8-20.
    7—BODIE ISLAND, g, 6, Kafwain--Sweet Carolina, by Deputy Minister. O-The Elkstone Group LLC, B-The Elkstone Group LLC (KY), T-Richard L. Valentine, J-Kieran Norris, $39,000.
    4—Virsito, g, 8, Dynaformer--Turkish Gipsy, by Turkoman. ($275,000 '07 KEESEP). O-Williams, Sheila J and Brewster, Andre W, B-Cardiff Farm Management Corp & Bobby Ng (KY), $11,700.
    6—Spy in the Sky, g, 10, Thunder Gulch--Monaassabaat, by Zilzal. O-Randleston Farm, B-Gainsborough Farm LLC (KY), $6,500.
    Winning Time: 4:34 3/5 (fm)
     
    IND, 7TH, ALW, $36,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 6F, 8-20.
    3—MISS CHATTY CAT, f, 4, Article of Faith--Party Miss, by Party Manners. ($9,400 '11 INDOCT). O-Juanita Short, B-Karen Marr (IN), T-Ricky J. Short, J-Juan C. Saez, $21,600.
    9—Naked Bootleg, f, 3, Pass Rush--Pay the Toll, by Repriced. O-Sherri L Greenhill, B-Sherri Greenhill (IN), $7,200.
    5—Hope and Change, f, 3, Cat Dreams--Chorus Girl, by Maria's Mon. ($9,000 '12 INDOCT). O-Michael Boothe, B-Carmalley Valley Farm, LLC (IN), $3,600.
    Winning Time: 1:11 (ft)
     
    IND, 8TH, ALW, $34,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 5FT, 8-20.
    4—ANGIE'S PRIM LADY, f, 3, With Distinction--Optime', by Yes It's True. ($5,500 '12 OBSAUG; $52,000 2013 OBSAPR). O-Dianne Hutcherson, B-Janet Erwin (FL), T-Brad H. Cox, J-Ricardo Santana, Jr., $20,400.
    2—Great Red Beauty, f, 4, Greatness--Golden Billie, by Golden Act. O-Shantharaj Samuel, B-Collins Training Stables LLC & Mildred Arent (FL), $6,800.
    8—Not Again Nancye, m, 5, Seattle Fitz (ARG)--Darby's Charm, by Is It True. O-George S McCarty, B-George McCarty (KY), $3,400.
    Winning Time: :56 1/5 (fm)
     
    DEL, 7TH, AOC, $31,125, 2YO, 5 1/2F, 8-20.
    2—PURIM'S GOLD, c, 2, Purim--Mista Mayberry, by Touch Gold. ($1,500 '13 FTMSEP). O-Matteo Pecoraro, B-Ashleigh Stud, Frank Ramos & JackieRamos (KY), T-Anthony Pecoraro, J-Jose C. Caraballo, $18,600.
    4—Hear the Chatter, g, 2, Mass Media--Stefani's Surprise, by Stephen Got Even. O-Kristy Petty, B-Kristy Petty (WV), $6,200.
    1—Boom Boom Frankie, c, 2, Seeking Beauty--Dray Dray, by Wheaton. O-Monarch Stables, Inc, B-Frank Bertolino (FL), $3,410.
    Winning Time: 1:05 (ft)
     
    TDN, 7TH, ALW, $21,000, 3YO/UP, 1M, 8-20.
    4—COASTAL RASCAL, c, 4, Meadow Prayer--Coast Tothe Finish, by Pauliano. O-Powers, Valorie and Richard, B-Valorie Powers & Richard A Powers (MI), T-Richard J. Rettele, J-Alvaro Hernandez-Lopez, $12,600.
    2—Carters Gap, g, 4, Freud--Catchy Patton, by Patton. ($13,000 2012 OBSAPR). O-Patsy Sullivan, B-Eugene Melnyk (FL), $4,200.
    1—Gotta Make Payroll, c, 4, Valid Trefaire--Tune Lender, by Banker's Gold. O-Felicia Campbell, B-Campbell Stable, LLC (MI), $2,100.
    Winning Time: 1:41 4/5 (gd)

    Features

    HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

    AUGUST 22, 2014

    by Dick Powell

    The Travers Stakes (G1) will be contested for the 145th time this Saturday at Saratoga Race Course. Run at 1 1/4 miles on the main track, its purse has been raised to $1.25 million and this year's renewal has attracted a field of 10.

    Adding intrigue to the proceedings this year will be the speedy Bayern BAYERN (Offlee Wild) who shipped to Saratoga from California on Wednesday. My opinion was that Bob Baffert would keep the Haskell (G1) winner on the West Coast and wait for the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) on September 20. The good news is that it seems that Baffert was looking for a reason to not ship but when everything went well after the Haskell, he decided to ship him East.

    After failing in the Preakness, Baffert brought Bayern back in the Woody Stephens (G2) on Belmont Stakes day and he romped by seven lengths in fast time. It looked, at that point, that if he ran on Travers Day, it would be in the seven-furlong King's Bishop (G1) but Baffert, as is his habit, shipped Bayern to Monmouth Park where he thoroughly dominated the nine-furlong Haskell.

    The question that he needs to answer is Bayern a legitimate two-turn horse or did the speed-favoring Monmouth Park racing strip carry him home? Yes, he should have the lead in the Travers all to himself so there is always the danger of lone, uncontested speed. Can Bayern go to the front and never look back in a 10-furlong race?

    The Travers will be the fourth time that Tonalist (Tapit) and Wicked Strong (Hard Spun) have met. The first time was in a key allowance race on February 22 down at Gulfstream Park, which was won by the immensely talented Constitution (Tapit). Second that day was Tonalist and fourth was Wicked Strong.

    It was Tonalist's third career start and Wicked Strong clearly disliked the Gulfstream Park main track. They met again in the Belmont when Tonalist gamely won in a wide trip. Wicked Strong got very hot before the race as the big crowd seemed to set him off.

    They met for a third time in the Jim Dandy (G2) and Wicked Strong turned the tables on his rival with blinkers added, receiving an aggressive ride from Rajiv Maragh . He went up after the lead around the clubhouse turn and closely stalked the early pace. When Tonalist made a run at him turning for home, Wicked Strong fought off the challenge and drew off to a 2 1/4- length win.

    Since the Jim Dandy, Wicked Strong seems to have trained better than ever. Tonalist, who wore a bar shoe in his training going into the Belmont, has two five-furlong breezes here, the second one way faster than the first. Not sure what it means but it seems that Wicked Strong is continuing to maintain his form, which has been solid since his win in the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial (G1).

    Commanding Curve (Master Command) turned out to be the key horse in the Kentucky Derby (G1) when he rallied for second at 37-to-1 odds. He failed in the Belmont and might have ran a sneaky good race in the Jim Dandy when he raced closer to the pace than normal. He has a huge late kick when he's right and I expect that he will race farther back than he did in the Jim Dandy and make one run. As good as he was in the Derby, he's still eligible for first-level allowance company.

    V. E. Day (English Channel) was dismissed as a turf horse based on his breeding but he won the Curlin Stakes here going nine furlongs on the main track. He gets a race over the track but has to pick up seven pounds. As long as the seven pounds includes Javier Castellano, it should not be a problem.

    Kid Cruz (Lemon Drop Kid) had some buzz around him when he won back-to-back stakes races down in Maryland. When he ran poorly in the Preakness, it looked like he would be back on the "B" circuit of three-year-old stakes races but he was a fast winner of a listed event on Belmont Stakes day and then came back to win the Dwyer (G2) going 1 1/16 miles.

    The colt exits a good third in the Jim Dandy and while never threatening the top two, and visually it looked like he was just in it as a prep race. Like Commanding Curve, I expect that Kid Cruz will take back and make one run. In his favor is the hottest jockey at Saratoga will be in the irons, Irad Ortiz, who wins at 25 percent with his route mounts.

    For many years, the Haskell was just as good a prep race for the Travers as the Jim Dandy. But, beginning in 2005, seven Jim Dandy winners have won the Travers compared to only one Haskell winner. The race over the track seems to be the key factor and we will see if it is in play on Saturday as Haskell winner Bayern represents a formidable challenge to Jim Dandy supremacy.

    RACING ON TV

    Saturday, August 23   Travers (G1)
        Ballerina (G1)
        4:30 - 6 p.m.
        NBC
         
    Sunday, August 24   Pacific Classic (G1)
        8 - 9 p.m.
        NBCSN

    all times Eastern

    North American Maiden Winners
    Afleet Alex--Ramatuelle (CHI) by Jeune Homme; TEXAS RED, c, 2, DMR, Msw, 8-20, 1m, 1:37 4/5. B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY.). $17,000 '13 KEESEP.
    Artie Schiller--Solo Lady by St. Jovite; ARTIE'S FLIGHT, g, 2, DEL, Mcl 30000, 8-21, a7 1/2fT, 1:33 . B-James N Power & Artie Schiller Syndicate (NY.). $10,000 2014 FTMMAY.
    Colonel John--Joie de Vie by Cloud Cover; SUSAN'S DAY, f, 2, PID, Msw, 8-20, 1m, 1:39 4/5. B-Tapestry Stud LLC (KY.). $25,000 '13 KEESEP.
    Concord Point--Divot Doll by Dance Brightly; COMPANION PASS, f, 2, RP, Msw, 8-20, 5f, :59 3/5. B-Scott Pierce (OK.).
    Daaher--Tequilas Dayjur by Dayjur; CLOTHES FALL OFF, f, 2, SAR, Msw, 8-21, 5 1/2f, 1:05 4/5. B-Dean Hayes & Shadwell Farm LLC (KY.). $70,000 '13 KEESEP; $150,000 2014 OBSMAR.
    Ecclesiastic--Bold N Dark by Bold Anthony; HEAVENLY GIVEN, f, 2, PEN, Mcl 16000, 8-20, 4 1/2f, :53 3/5. B-Glenn E. Brok LLC (PA.). $8,500 '13 FTMSEP.
    Eskendereya--Retool by Gone West; REFLECTED STAR, c, 2, DMR, Mcl 62500, 8-20, 5 1/2f, 1:04 4/5. B-Mike G. Rutherford (KY.). $80,000 '13 KEESEP; $90,000 2014 OBSAPR.
    Forestry--Sparkling Pink by Marquetry; EUSTACIA, f, 2, NP, Msw, 8-20, 3 1/2f, :38 4/5. B-Mike Abraham (KY.). $28,000 '12 KEENOV; $25,000 '13 KEESEP.
    Justenuffhumor--Liege by Theatrical (IRE); HUMORESQUE, f, 2, BTP, Msw, 8-21, 6f, 1:15 . B-Janet L. Reeder (OH.). ***FIRST WINNER FOR SIRE
    Kodiak Kowboy--Brilliant Appeal by Successful Appeal; UPDATED DAILY, f, 2, PEN, Msw, 8-20, 5f, :59 3/5. B-Gary Collins (KY.). $34,000 2014 FTMMAY.
    Marino Marini--So Happy Together by Corslew; LOVE THE KIDS, f, 2, DMR, Mcl 50000, 8-21, 5f, :59 4/5. B-Howard & Janet Siegel Racing LLC (CA.).
    Pleasantly Perfect--Rather Be Wild by Wild Again; ZELDA CAN DANCE, f, 2, EVD, Mcl 25000, 8-20, 1m, 1:43 3/5. B-Columbine Stable, LLC (KY.).
    Sharp Humor--Emerald Gal by Gilded Time; SARAH SIS, f, 2, AP, Msw, 8-21, 6f, 1:11 . B-Catherine Rene White DVM (KY.). $10,000 '13 KEESEP; $20,000 2014 OBSJUN.
    Silent Pleasure--Baileys Affair by Mister Baileys (GB); BAILEYS LOVER, f, 2, LAD, Msw, 8-21, 6f, 1:13 4/5. B-Penny Scarberry (LA.).
    The Visualiser--American Sound by Awesome Again; ZEALOUS VISION, f, 2, RP, Msw, 8-20, 5f, :59 . B-Center Hills Farm (OK.).
    Alphabet Soup--Isa Dixie by Dixieland Band; ALPHAGATE, f, 3, NP, Mcl 7000, 8-20, 6 1/2f, 1:21 . B-Esquire Stables (1990) Ltd. & Mr. & Mrs. Don Knight (AB.).
    Bailero (ARG)--Splash in the Bay by Prospect Bay; ARGENTINA MALBEC, g, 3, CT, Mcl 5000, 8-20, 4 1/2f, :54 2/5. B-Analia R Gomez (WV.). ***FIRST WINNER FOR SIRE
    Big Brown--Foolish Kisses by Cannonade; UNTILTHEREWASYOU, f, 3, SAR, Mcl 40000, 8-21, 1 1/8m, 1:54 2/5. B-Big Brown Syndicate & Mr. & Mrs. Charles McGinnes (MD.). $67,000 '12 FTMOCT. *1/2 to Gotaghostofachance (G3$479,645) *1/2 to I'mtoogoodtobetrue (MSW$348,936).
    Bob and John--Sustain by Vindication; BOBBLEHEAD, g, 3, AP, Msw, 8-21, 6f, 1:11 1/5. B-Mineola Farm II LLC (KY.). $65,000 '12 FTKJUL.
    Cowboy Cal--Saratoga Rhythm by Saratoga Six; CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT, c, 3, PID, Msw, 8-21, 1m, 1:39 3/5. B-Martha H. Buckner (KY.). $25,000 '12 KEESEP. *1/2 to Saratoga's Magic (G3P$381,656).
    Cowtown Cat--Flight of Glory by Formal Dinner; REGGAE BOY, g, 3, GP, Mcl 8000, 8-21, 6f, 1:12 4/5. B-Southern Chase Farm, Inc & Karen Dodd (IN.). *1/2 to City Flight (champion in Jamaica, ).
    D'wildcat--Dotted Line by Notebook; CHISPI AFFAIR, f, 3, DEL, Mcl 15000, 8-21, 6f, 1:12 1/5. B-Edward Poremba & Hannah Poremba (FL.). $5,000 '12 OBSAUG.
    Dunkirk--Costar by Gone West; IM MONEYINTHEBANK, f, 3, AP, Mcl 25000, 8-21, a5fT, :59 2/5. B-Dennis Crooks/Terry Young (IL.).
    Early Flyer--Perfect Pass by Clever Trick; EARLY PASS, f, 3, LAD, Msw, 8-21, a5fT, :57 . B-Kenneth Murphy (LA.).
    Elusive Quality--Extra Sharp by Cherokee Run; SHARP QUALITY, f, 3, EVD, Msw, 8-20, 1m, 1:43 . B-Casner Racing LP (KY.). $155,000 '12 KEESEP.
    Flatter--Credit Approval by With Approval; M B AND TEE, f, 3, SAR, Msw, 8-21, 1 1/8m, 1:53 . B-E. H. Beau Lane III (KY.). $110,000 '12 KEESEP. *1/2 to Parker Run (G3P$297,212) *1/2 to Jake Mo (G3P$280,932).
    Harborage--Valid Dorothy by Valid Appeal; HERE COMES LANDEN, g, 3, EVD, Mcl 7500, 8-20, 7f, 1:28 2/5. B-Royal B. Kraft Sr. (LA.).
    Harlan's Holiday--Pure Desire by Gold Legend; HARLAN'S AFFAIR, f, 3, MNR, Msw, 8-20, 1m, 1:41 3/5. B-Shelby Lane Farm & Harlan's Holiday Syndicate (KY.). $15,000 '12 KEESEP.
    Honour and Glory--Earnings Report by Forest Wildcat; MOUNTAIN WILDCAT, f, 3, MNR, Msw, 8-20, 5 1/2f, 1:06 2/5. B-J. Michael Baird & Wind River Stable (WV.).
    Indygo Shiner--Jenny D. by Regal Embrace; ALAZAN SHINER, g, 3, AP, Msw, 8-21, 1m, 1:37 4/5. B-Rudolph Family Living Trust (IL.). *1/2 to Cashmere Miss (MSW$321,873) *1/2 to Stonehouse (G3$632,347).
    Lucky J. H.--No Peso No Dance by Emerald Jig; LUCKY J LANE, g, 3, DMR, Msw, 8-20, 1mT, 1:35 2/5. B-Sky Chase Farm (CA.).
    Magna Graduate--Keen Edge by Clear Course; MAB, f, 3, IND, Msw, 8-21, 1m 70y, 1:45 3/5. B-Ledgerwood Farms (IN.).
    Midnight Lute--Secretariat's Fire by Secretariat; SECRETARIATS GLORY, c, 3, GP, Mcl 25000, 8-21, 1m, 1:39 1/5. B-Shirley Bennett (KY.).
    Mineshaft--Mississippi Charm by Silver Charm; SEA RAVEN, r, 3, SAR, Msw, 8-21, 1 1/8m, 1:53 2/5. B-Louis P. Ferrari (NY.). $97,000 '12 FTNAUG; $130,000 2013 FTMMAY.
    Olmodavor--Ballaquinney by Saratoga Six; RAISE A GLASS, f, 3, WO, Mcl 8000, 8-20, 6 1/2f, 1:19 1/5. B-Sidney Heron (ON.). C$10,000 '12 ONTSEP.
    Omega Code--Emma Go Braugh by Wild Rush; NEVE'S CHOICE, f, 3, RP, Mcl 7500, 8-20, 5 1/2f, 1:05 2/5. B-Cowboy Stables, LLC (OK.). $3,500 '12 OKCAUG.
    Podium--Hail to the Queen by Here We Come; JUSTSIGNTHECHECK, f, 3, RP, Msw, 8-20, 5 1/2f, 1:06 . B-Bigheart Thoroughbreds (OK.). $1,000 '12 OKCAUG.
    Roman Emperor--Jackie M. by Jack Wilson; ROMANTIC ROMAN, f, 3, ALB, Msw, 8-20, 7f, 1:24 3/5. B-Gallegos Del Norte Racing (NM.).
    Say Florida Sandy--Fancy 'n Fabulous (MG1P$350,475), by Somethingfabulous; FANCY 'N FLIGHT, f, 3, FL, Mcl 5000, 8-21, 1m 70y, 1:49 . B-Amy Boll, Alfred Alberts & Patricia Alberts (NY.).
    Sharp Humor--Divided We Fall by You and I; DIVIDED HUMOR, f, 3, AP, Mcl 50000, 8-21, 1 1/16m, 1:47 3/5. B-David G Campbell (IL.). $15,000 '12 KEESEP. *1/2 to Divisa (SP$259,350).
    Silent Name (JPN)--Hot Toy by Silver Charm; SIZZLING, g, 3, WO, Msw, 8-20, 7fT, 1:23 4/5. B-Barbara J Minshall (ON.).
    Stormy Atlantic--Ambience by Chester House; STORMY SITUATION, f, 3, DEL, Msw, 8-21, a5fT, :58 3/5. B-DATTT Farm, LLC (KY.). $47,000 2013 OBSMAR.
    Talent Search--Lasting Stare by Yonaguska; WISHING LILLY, f, 3, PEN, Mcl 15000, 8-20, 5 1/2f, 1:05 4/5. B-Elizabeth R. Houghton (PA.).
    The Cliff's Edge--Groovy Answer by Groovy; HIDDAI, f, 3, MNR, Msw, 8-20, 1m, 1:41 3/5. B-Joe P. Williamson (KY.).
    Windsor Castle--Official Account by Unaccounted For; GLEN'S CASTLE, g, 3, CT, Mcl 10000, 8-20, 7f, 1:30 1/5. B-Julie S. Hess (WV.).
    Majestic Warrior--Mutton Maniac by Wolf Power (SAF); ROYAL WARRIOR, g, 4, WO, Msw, 8-20, 1 1/16m, 1:44 2/5. B-Jan Basson (KY.). $35,000 '11 FTKJUL.
    Seeking the Best (IRE)--Steph's Tee by Lil E. Tee; DROP TO POP, g, 4, WO, Mcl 10000, 8-20, 7f, 1:25 3/5. B-Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings, Inc. (ON.). C$6,000 '11 ONTSEP. *1/2 to Tee Game (MSW$446,441).
    Thunder Touch--Strictlyspectaculr by Demons Begone; THUNDER CITATION, f, 4, NP, Mcl 7000, 8-20, 6 1/2f, 1:21 1/5. B-Donald Hawkes & Joyce Hawkes (AB.).
    Tiznow--Golden Silk by Songandaprayer; LAWYER CHARLES, g, 4, IND, Mcl 25000, 8-21, 1m, 1:39 4/5. B-Haras Santa Maria de Araras S. A. (FL.).
    Value Plus--Del Mar Cat by Forestry; TANGIBLE ASSETS, g, 4, PEN, Mcl 5000, 8-20, 6f, 1:13 4/5. B-Murray Smith (FL.).
    Wild Zone--Moody Klair by With Approval; COULDN'TKLAIRLESS, f, 4, IND, Msw, 8-21, 1m 70y, 1:45 3/5. B-Equinox Inc. (IN.).
    Cape Cross (IRE)--Two Clubs (GB) by First Trump (GB); DOUBLE CROSSING (IRE), g, 5, AP, Mcl 12500, 8-21, 6f, 1:13 3/5. B-J. Fike (IRE.). *1/2 to Red Clubs (IRE) (champion in Europe, $1,016,773).
    Creative--Karakorum Dancer by Anjiz; CREATIVE KARA, m, 5, IND, Moc 15000, 8-21, 6f, 1:13 2/5. B-Shane Spiess (IN.).
    French Jordan--Elaine's Praise by Sun Master; ELAINE AND LARRY, g, 5, MNR, Mcl 10000, 8-20, 1m, 1:42 1/5. B-Larry Howard (KY.).
    Suave--Ritual Dance by Runaway Groom; RITUAL WAY, m, 5, CT, Mcl 10000, 8-20, 6 1/2f, 1:23 1/5. B-Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin III (VA.).
    Tiznow--Wharped by Distorted Humor; MADAME FORBES, m, 5, DMR, Mcl 20000, 8-20, 1m, 1:39 3/5. B-Wade Jacobsen & Daniel J. Alameda (CA.).

    Features

    RACING ON RADIO

    Monday thru Friday   At the Races w/ Steve Byk
        10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
        Sirius 93 - XM 209
         
    Thursdays   Brisnet.com Call-In Show
        6 - 7 p.m.
        Sirius 93 - XM 209
         
    Saturdays   Down the Stretch w/ Don Knobel
        10 - 11 a.m.
        790 AM (WKRD)
         
    Saturdays   Down the Stretch
        10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
        Sirius 93 - XM 209
         
    Saturdays   Equine Forum
        8 - 10 a.m.
        HRRN
         
    Saturday, August 23   Travers (G1)
        King's Bishop (G1)
        Test (G1)
        Ballston Spa (G2)
        4 - 6 p.m.
        Sirius 93 - XM 208/HRRN website
         
    Sunday, August 24   Pacific Classic (G1)
        Personal Ensign (G1)
        5 - 8 p.m.
        Sirius 93 - XM 208/HRRN website

    all times Eastern

    HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

    AUGUST 22, 2014

    by Dick Powell

    The Travers Stakes (G1) will be contested for the 145th time this Saturday at Saratoga Race Course. Run at 1 1/4 miles on the main track, its purse has been raised to $1.25 million and this year's renewal has attracted a field of 10.

    Adding intrigue to the proceedings this year will be the speedy Bayern BAYERN (Offlee Wild) who shipped to Saratoga from California on Wednesday. My opinion was that Bob Baffert would keep the Haskell (G1) winner on the West Coast and wait for the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) on September 20. The good news is that it seems that Baffert was looking for a reason to not ship but when everything went well after the Haskell, he decided to ship him East.

    After failing in the Preakness, Baffert brought Bayern back in the Woody Stephens (G2) on Belmont Stakes day and he romped by seven lengths in fast time. It looked, at that point, that if he ran on Travers Day, it would be in the seven-furlong King's Bishop (G1) but Baffert, as is his habit, shipped Bayern to Monmouth Park where he thoroughly dominated the nine-furlong Haskell.

    The question that he needs to answer is Bayern a legitimate two-turn horse or did the speed-favoring Monmouth Park racing strip carry him home? Yes, he should have the lead in the Travers all to himself so there is always the danger of lone, uncontested speed. Can Bayern go to the front and never look back in a 10-furlong race?

    The Travers will be the fourth time that Tonalist (Tapit) and Wicked Strong (Hard Spun) have met. The first time was in a key allowance race on February 22 down at Gulfstream Park, which was won by the immensely talented Constitution (Tapit). Second that day was Tonalist and fourth was Wicked Strong.

    It was Tonalist's third career start and Wicked Strong clearly disliked the Gulfstream Park main track. They met again in the Belmont when Tonalist gamely won in a wide trip. Wicked Strong got very hot before the race as the big crowd seemed to set him off.

    They met for a third time in the Jim Dandy (G2) and Wicked Strong turned the tables on his rival with blinkers added, receiving an aggressive ride from Rajiv Maragh . He went up after the lead around the clubhouse turn and closely stalked the early pace. When Tonalist made a run at him turning for home, Wicked Strong fought off the challenge and drew off to a 2 1/4- length win.

    Since the Jim Dandy, Wicked Strong seems to have trained better than ever. Tonalist, who wore a bar shoe in his training going into the Belmont, has two five-furlong breezes here, the second one way faster than the first. Not sure what it means but it seems that Wicked Strong is continuing to maintain his form, which has been solid since his win in the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial (G1).

    Commanding Curve (Master Command) turned out to be the key horse in the Kentucky Derby (G1) when he rallied for second at 37-to-1 odds. He failed in the Belmont and might have ran a sneaky good race in the Jim Dandy when he raced closer to the pace than normal. He has a huge late kick when he's right and I expect that he will race farther back than he did in the Jim Dandy and make one run. As good as he was in the Derby, he's still eligible for first-level allowance company.

    V. E. Day (English Channel) was dismissed as a turf horse based on his breeding but he won the Curlin Stakes here going nine furlongs on the main track. He gets a race over the track but has to pick up seven pounds. As long as the seven pounds includes Javier Castellano, it should not be a problem.

    Kid Cruz (Lemon Drop Kid) had some buzz around him when he won back-to-back stakes races down in Maryland. When he ran poorly in the Preakness, it looked like he would be back on the "B" circuit of three-year-old stakes races but he was a fast winner of a listed event on Belmont Stakes day and then came back to win the Dwyer (G2) going 1 1/16 miles.

    The colt exits a good third in the Jim Dandy and while never threatening the top two, and visually it looked like he was just in it as a prep race. Like Commanding Curve, I expect that Kid Cruz will take back and make one run. In his favor is the hottest jockey at Saratoga will be in the irons, Irad Ortiz, who wins at 25 percent with his route mounts.

    For many years, the Haskell was just as good a prep race for the Travers as the Jim Dandy. But, beginning in 2005, seven Jim Dandy winners have won the Travers compared to only one Haskell winner. The race over the track seems to be the key factor and we will see if it is in play on Saturday as Haskell winner Bayern represents a formidable challenge to Jim Dandy supremacy.

    INTERNATIONAL RACING CALENDAR

    Click here for August's International Racing Calendar

    At a Glance
    ELLIS PARK AT A GLANCE
     
    Avg. Winning Odds: 3.59 - 1
    Favorite Win%: 40%, Favorite Itm%: 72%
     
    EXOTICS PAYOFF
    Exacta48.51
    Daily Double55.47
    Trifecta269.70
    Pick 3258.37
    Superfecta1,667.55
    Pick 62,131.50
    Pick 41,618.18
    Pick 52,886.80
    Super High Five2,327.11
    TRACK BIAS MEET(07/03 - 08/16)
    Distance #
    Race
    %
    Wire
    Best
    Style
    Best
    Posts
    5.5fDirt 21 62% E Mid/Out
    6.0fDirt 37 49% E Rail
    1 MileDirt 27 33% E Rail/Ins
    Turf Sprint 28 29% P Rail/Ins
    Turf Routes 57 18% S Rail/Ins
    TRACK BIAS WEEK(08/10 - 08/16)
    Distance #
    Race
    %
    Wire
    Best
    Style
    Best
    Posts
    5.5fDirt 3 33% E Outside
    6.0fDirt 9 22% S Rail/Ins
    1 MileDirt 1 0% E/P Middle
    Turf Sprint 2 50% E/P Ins/Mid
    Turf Routes 11 0% S Rail/Ins
    Who's HOT, Who's NOT
     
    HOT TRAINERS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
    Odds
    Winning
    Favorites
    '13-' 14
    Win%
    Kenneally Eddie 4 3 1 0 1.15 3 17%
    Margolis Steve 4 3 0 0 3.60 1 19%
    Campbell Donald H. 3 2 1 0 3.90 1 10%
    Amoss Thomas M. 4 2 1 0 3.20 1 32%
    Fires William H. 6 2 0 1 14.70 0 12%
     
    HOT JOCKEYS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
    Odds
    Winning
    Favorites
    '13-' 14
    Win%
    Goncalves Leandro R. 15 4 1 3 5.36 1 15%
    Landeros Chris 10 3 2 3 3.81 1 14%
    Mojica, Jr. Rafael 11 3 0 2 31.79 1 5%
     
    COLD TRAINERS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
    Odds
    Beaten
    Favorites
    '13-' 14
    Win%
     
    COLD JOCKEYS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
    Odds
    Beaten
    Favorites
    '13-' 14
    Win%
    Pompell Thomas L. 14 0 2 1 13.19 1 7%
    Orm Cory 13 0 3 0 23.05 0 6%
                   
    SARATOGA AT A GLANCE
     
    Avg. Winning Odds: 4.96 - 1
    Favorite Win%: 34%, Favorite Itm%: 73%
     
    EXOTICS PAYOFF
    Quinella30.22
    Exacta75.07
    Daily Double82.11
    Trifecta486.05
    Pick 3523.63
    Superfecta3,189.46
    Pick 635,200.34
    Pick 44,097.50
    Pick 517,682.52
    Grand Slam121.92
    TRACK BIAS MEET(07/18 - 08/20)
    Distance #
    Race
    %
    Wire
    Best
    Style
    Best
    Posts
    6.0fDirt 46 39% E Middle
    6.5fDirt 13 31% E Rail/Ins
    1 1/8mDirt 41 24% E Rail/Ins
    1 1/4mDirt 1 0% E/P Outside
    Turf Sprint 35 34% E Outside
    InTf Routes 67 19% E/P Rail/Ins
    Turf Routes 26 19% P Outside
    TRACK BIAS WEEK(08/14 - 08/20)
    Distance #
    Race
    %
    Wire
    Best
    Style
    Best
    Posts
    6.0fDirt 7 14% E/P Middle
    6.5fDirt 6 50% E Outside
    1 1/8mDirt 7 14% E/P Inside
    1 1/4mDirt 1 0% E/P Outside
    Turf Sprint 6 17% E/P Outside
    Turf Routes 7 0% P Outside
    InTf Routes 17 24% E/P Rail
    Who's HOT, Who's NOT
     
    HOT TRAINERS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
    Odds
    Winning
    Favorites
    '13-' 14
    Win%
    Serpe Philip M. 13 5 1 1 10.43 1 11%
    Levine Bruce N. 14 5 1 1 5.24 1 16%
    Jerkens James A. 5 3 1 0 14.19 2 24%
    Englehart Chris J. 9 3 0 3 9.53 1 22%
    Domino Carl J. 4 2 1 0 4.84 1 12%
    Terranova, II John P. 5 2 1 2 8.72 0 16%
    Donk David G. 6 2 0 2 14.19 0 13%
    Dutrow Anthony W. 6 2 1 1 5.18 2 21%
     
    HOT JOCKEYS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
    Odds
    Winning
    Favorites
    '13-' 14
    Win%
    Ortiz, Jr. Irad 40 15 4 5 7.00 2 17%
    Maragh Rajiv 21 6 0 3 10.97 2 14%
    Castellano Javier 24 6 4 4 5.20 2 24%
     
    COLD TRAINERS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
    Odds
    Beaten
    Favorites
    '13-' 14
    Win%
    Wilkes Ian R. 11 0 2 1 18.00 0 15%
     
    COLD JOCKEYS Starts WinsPlace ShowAvg.
    Odds
    Beaten
    Favorites
    '13-' 14
    Win%
    Saez Luis 18 0 2 0 11.87 1 14%

    Features

    RACING ON TV

    Saturday, August 23   Travers (G1)
        Ballerina (G1)
        4:30 - 6 p.m.
        NBC
         
    Sunday, August 24   Pacific Classic (G1)
        8 - 9 p.m.
        NBCSN

    all times Eastern

    At a Glance

    AT A GLANCE SCHEDULE

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

    Features

    RACING ON RADIO

    Monday thru Friday   At the Races w/ Steve Byk
        10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
        Sirius 93 - XM 209
         
    Thursdays   Brisnet.com Call-In Show
        6 - 7 p.m.
        Sirius 93 - XM 209
         
    Saturdays   Down the Stretch w/ Don Knobel
        10 - 11 a.m.
        790 AM (WKRD)
         
    Saturdays   Down the Stretch
        10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
        Sirius 93 - XM 209
         
    Saturdays   Equine Forum
        8 - 10 a.m.
        HRRN
         
    Saturday, August 23   Travers (G1)
        King's Bishop (G1)
        Test (G1)
        Ballston Spa (G2)
        4 - 6 p.m.
        Sirius 93 - XM 208/HRRN website
         
    Sunday, August 24   Pacific Classic (G1)
        Personal Ensign (G1)
        5 - 8 p.m.
        Sirius 93 - XM 208/HRRN website

    all times Eastern

    Racing Highlights

    For Friday

    ARLINGTON PARK (4:00): $32,000 ocl, 3&up, 5fT (5TH).
    BELTERRA PARK (3:00): $18,400 ocl, 3&up, f&m, 6f (6TH).
    CHARLES TOWN (7:00): $27,000 ocl, 3&up, 6 1/2f (8TH).
    DEL MAR (7:00): $90,000 CTT and Thoroughbred Owners of California H., 3&up, f&m, 1 3/8mT (6TH).
    EVANGELINE DOWNS (6:45): $30,500 alw, 3&up, 6f (7TH).
    FINGER LAKES (12:35): $18,300 alw, 3&up, 1 1/16m (7TH).
    GOLDEN GATE FIELDS (6:45): $30,000 ocl, 3yo, f, 5 1/2f (2ND); $30,000 alw, 3&up, f&m, 5 1/2f (4TH).
    GULFSTREAM PARK (1:15): $44,000 alw, 3&up, 1mT (3RD).
    HASTINGS PARK (10:00): $50,000 Richmond Derby Trial H., 3yo, 1 1/16m (2ND).
    INDIANA DOWNS (5:05): $36,000 ocl, 3&up, 6f (3RD).
    LOUISIANA DOWNS (3:50): $20,500 alw, 2yo, 6f (2ND); $20,500 alw, 3&up, f&m, 1m 70yds (6TH).
    MONMOUTH PARK (12:50): $37,800 ocl, 3&up, 1 1/16mT (9TH).
    PENN NATIONAL (6:00): $33,300 alw, 3&up, f&m, 6f (4TH).
    REMINGTON PARK (8:00): $50,000 Red Earth S., 3&up, 7 1/2fT (8TH).
    SARATOGA (1:00): $500,000 Personal Ensign S. (G1), 3&up, f&m, 1 1/8m (9TH); $100,000 Tale of the Cat S., 3&up, 6f (3RD).
    THISTLEDOWN (12:55): $23,600 alw, 3&up, f&m, 6f (6TH).
    WOODBINE (1:00): $66,400 alw, 2yo, f, 7fT (2ND).

    *all times Eastern

    Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

    SPOT PLAYS

    For Friday

    TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
    Arlington Park   (1st) Langfuhrs Lightning, 10-1
        (7th) Lori's Darling, 4-1
    Belterra Park   (4th) Ceylon Sapphire, 10-1
        (7th) How's Bayou, 5-1
    Canterbury Park   (2nd) Asareer's Harbor, 5-1
        (5th) Shared Life, 3-1
    Charles Town   (5th) Corinthian Quest, 3-1
        (9th) M M Gracie, 3-1
    Del Mar   (4th) Sweetrayofsunshine, 3-1
        (7th) Jaycee's Faith, 7-2
    Ellis Park   (1st) Miss Delstar, 3-1
        (7th) Tapalite, 4-1
    Emerald Downs   (2nd) Dr. Dr. Kate, 3-1
        (5th) Anitewithyou, 3-1
    Evangeline Downs   (6th) Mozzafiato, 4-1
        (8th) She's Intimadating, 10-1
    Finger Lakes   (3rd) Neptune Road, 6-1
        (8th) My Hometown Boy, 4-1
    Golden Gate Fields   (6th) Secret Memo, 7-2
        (7th) Silver Champ, 6-1
    Gulfstream Park   (8th) Behappyalex, 5-1
        (10th) Munningsgotmusic, 3-1
    Hastings Park   (4th) Fashionisto, 3-1
        (5th) Tribe, 7-2
    Indiana Downs   (5th) Far's Chief, 3-1
        (6th) Batten the Hatches, 3-1
    Louisiana Downs   (1st) Run With Grace, 7-2
        (8th) So Ruston, 4-1
    Monmouth Park   (4th) Our Tigress, 6-1
        (6th) Twelve Stone, 4-1
    Penn National   (3rd) Tribute, 6-1
        (6th) Sensitiva, 6-1
    Remington Park   (2nd) Denali Success, 3-1
        (6th) Limehouse Blues, 7-2
    Saratoga   (7th) Skipalute, 5-1
        (8th) Sinistra, 3-1
    Thistledown   (5th) Hes a Cat, 6-1
        (7th) Pure Gold Liner, 5-1
    Woodbine   (4th) Eirigh, 3-1
        (9th) Melmich, 3-1

    HIGHLIGHTS

    For Friday

    ARLINGTON PARK (4:00): $32,000 ocl, 3&up, 5fT (5TH).
    BELTERRA PARK (3:00): $18,400 ocl, 3&up, f&m, 6f (6TH).
    CHARLES TOWN (7:00): $27,000 ocl, 3&up, 6 1/2f (8TH).
    DEL MAR (7:00): $90,000 CTT and Thoroughbred Owners of California H., 3&up, f&m, 1 3/8mT (6TH).
    EVANGELINE DOWNS (6:45): $30,500 alw, 3&up, 6f (7TH).
    FINGER LAKES (12:35): $18,300 alw, 3&up, 1 1/16m (7TH).
    GOLDEN GATE FIELDS (6:45): $30,000 ocl, 3yo, f, 5 1/2f (2ND); $30,000 alw, 3&up, f&m, 5 1/2f (4TH).
    GULFSTREAM PARK (1:15): $44,000 alw, 3&up, 1mT (3RD).
    HASTINGS PARK (10:00): $50,000 Richmond Derby Trial H., 3yo, 1 1/16m (2ND).
    INDIANA DOWNS (5:05): $36,000 ocl, 3&up, 6f (3RD).
    LOUISIANA DOWNS (3:50): $20,500 alw, 2yo, 6f (2ND); $20,500 alw, 3&up, f&m, 1m 70yds (6TH).
    MONMOUTH PARK (12:50): $37,800 ocl, 3&up, 1 1/16mT (9TH).
    PENN NATIONAL (6:00): $33,300 alw, 3&up, f&m, 6f (4TH).
    REMINGTON PARK (8:00): $50,000 Red Earth S., 3&up, 7 1/2fT (8TH).
    SARATOGA (1:00): $500,000 Personal Ensign S. (G1), 3&up, f&m, 1 1/8m (9TH); $100,000 Tale of the Cat S., 3&up, 6f (3RD).
    THISTLEDOWN (12:55): $23,600 alw, 3&up, f&m, 6f (6TH).
    WOODBINE (1:00): $66,400 alw, 2yo, f, 7fT (2ND).

    *all times Eastern

    HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.

    Announcements

    Help Wanted

    A horse racing website is currently hiring for part-time positions as a Customer Service Representative in Lexington, Kentucky. Must be available nights and weekends. Some weekdays may also be available. Computer literacy required, horse racing knowledge and customer service experience a plus. To schedule an interview, email or send your résumé to the following: Nancy.Kanaval@brisnet.com, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.

    Help Wanted

    A horse racing website is currently hiring for part-time positions as a Customer Service Representative in Lexington, Kentucky. Must be available nights and weekends. Some weekdays may also be available. Computer literacy required, horse racing knowledge and customer service experience a plus. To schedule an interview, email or send your résumé to the following: Nancy.Kanaval@brisnet.com, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.