Songbird highlights the final weekend before Del Mar and Saratoga open, taking on five likely overmatched foes in Saturday’s Delaware Handicap (G1). The 4-year-old filly exits a one-length score in the June 10 Ogden Phipps (G1) and the 1 ¼-mile race marks her second start off the layoff.
Last weekend, Belmont Park hosted five graded stakes on its Stars and Stripes program and Arlington featured a preview for Arlington Million Day in August.
Let’s take a look at some notable performances from last week:
Mind Your Biscuits figures prominently in what is shaping up to be a compelling edition of the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He’s come a long way for Chad Summers since the fall, notching his first important win in the Malibu (G1) in late December and dominating the 6-furlong Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) two starts later, and the 4-year-old colt rolled to a 3 ½-length decision in the July 8 Belmont Sprint Championship (G2). After rating about five lengths off a hot pace, the chestnut cruised to the lead leaving the far turn and offered a dynamic turn of foot when called upon by Joel Rosario, accelerating away to win with seeming plenty left.
Mind Your Biscuits promises to bring a powerful late kick to Del Mar this fall and a strong Sprint field appears possible. Danzing Candy, Imperial Hint and Limousine Liberal have recorded impressive wins in recent preps and Roy H has emerged as a possible star for Peter Miller, improving to 3-for-3 this year with a smashing performance in June’s True North (G2). And reigning sprint champion Drefong can’t be overlooked, posting eight published works since late May as he nears his return for five-time Sprint winner Bob Baffert.
There’s no point in getting carried away, but Keen Ice looked good returning to the winner’s circle in the July 8 Suburban Handicap (G2). The 5-year-old rolled past a tiring Shaman Ghost in midstretch to score by three lengths, registering a career-best 112 BRIS Speed Rating, and an optimistic supporter can hope he’s turned a corner for Todd Pletcher. Of course, this is the same Keen Ice who failed to capitalize upon a massive upset over American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers (G1), recording seven unplaced finishes as he dropped his next 10 starts heading into the Suburban, so it’s difficult to have much faith. Pletcher believes plenty of time off made the difference, bringing Keen Ice back from a 3 ½-month freshening in the Suburban, and suggested they’ll wait until the October 7 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) to run next.
Female turf up-and-comer
Dona Bruja appears ready for the Beverly D (G1) on August 12, tuning up for her first major U.S. class test with a smart one-length tally in the July 8 Modesty (G3) over the Arlington turf. The Argentinean champion made her North American bow in the June 10 Mint Julep (G3) at Churchill Downs, blowing past a favored loose-on-the-lead rival to win going away, and stretched her win streak to five with a terrific kick in the Modesty, garnering a 102 BRIS Late Pace Rating for the one-length decision. I won’t be surprised to see Dona Bruja develop into a top-class U.S. turf distaffer for Ignacio Correas.
Baffert is the man when it comes to the Del Mar Futurity (G1), recording an amazing 13 wins in the centerpiece 2-year-old event, and the Hall of Fame conditioner has a top prospect for the upcoming meet in Zulfikhar. The $750,000 colt made a smashing debut in a July 7 maiden special weight at Los Alamitos, dueling through hot splits before drawing off to win in hand by 3 ¾ lengths, and the exciting son of Bodemeister will be targeting the August 12 Best Pal (G2) and September 4 Futurity. Baffert figures to be well-represented in both juvenile stakes divisions, with Diamondsandpearls impressively capturing her first outing the week before.