Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

More than just Luck

Posted by Brian Appleton on June 20, 2011

Pool Play threw yet another wrench into the Older Male division on Saturday when he captured the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr.1) at odds of 36-1, making the case for Havre de Grace as leading Horse of the Candidate an even more obvious fact. And after Saturday it appears that her main opponent for racing’s top honor could be last year’s Champion Three-Year-Old Female and arch nemesis, Blind Luck.

It took Blind Luck four tries to finally get back to the winners circle this year but once she did made it count and pulled it off in true Blind Luck style. After five consecutive runner-up efforts dating back to October 2nd 2010 the diminutive champion filly had even her staunchest supporters concerned that something was amiss. She won the Las Virgenes (gr.1), Fantasy Stakes and Kentucky Oaks and finished second to Switch in the Hollywood Oaks before meeting the toughest rival of her career. Havre de Grace and Blind Luck put on two of the most spectacular stretch runs of the summer in the Delaware Handicap and Alabama Stakes in the filly’s next two starts, with Blink Luck eking out a nose and a neck victory. They carried their rivalry to epic proportions in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion where Havre de Grace turned the tables on Blind Luck, just holding her off by a neck for the win in a performance that just missed the track record. Awesome Maria finished almost ten lengths back in third that day. It was on to the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic next where Blind Luck’s patented late-run came up 1 ¾ lengths short of Unrivalled Belle with Havre de Grace another length back in third.

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One Response to “More than just Luck”

  1. It looks like the ladies are carrying the year once again…no RACHEL vs. ZENYATTA talk but a bona fide rivalry between HAVRE DE GRACE and incumbent BLIND LUCK. Unfortunately, the division lost UNRIVALED BELLE but AWESWOME MARIA was truly awesome in the Ogden Phipps and is a worthy “stranger” in what’s shaping up as a compelling Ladies’ Classic. AWESOME MARIA and BLIND LUCK could still challenge HAVRE DE GRACE for divisional honors, with one defeat to either or both a very real possibility. The former is a different filly than she was when she last faced BL and HdeG.

    As for BLIND LUCK, I believed she would be vulnerable to a fresh SWITCH. Once and for all, I am willing to admit the Sadler filly is best suited to the 7f Filly & Mare Sprint in which she was 2nd last year.

    I agree, HOY is up for grabs and it will take the summer stakes and the Breeders’ Cup to determine who’s deserving of that honor. There are many late bloomers who could step up and steal the spotlight from the early season leaders. I saw two very impressive debut maiden winners @ Hol on Sunday: NIGHT SHIFT, a 2y.o. colt for Peachtree and Baffert/Garcia; and SCHIAPARELLI, for Puype and Talamo, a 3y.o. filly by GHOSTZAPPER o/o crack turf sprinter CAMBIOCORSA. On Friday night, MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE won again on turf, this time sprinting. The son of WAR CHANT could still develop into a legit BC Mile contender before the big weekend. COIL, another Baffert, a huge colt by POINT GIVEN, won the Affirmed like he would adore a switch to dirt and the Haskell has got to be in the plans. PANTS ON FIRE won the prep for that race impressively. With ANIMAL KINGDOM injured, SHACKLEFORD exhausted, MUCHO MACHO MAN needing time to recover from the grind and grow into his massive frame, the 3y.o. title is up for grabs. I’m not feeling RULER ON ICE as more than a fringe contender in the big races as the year goes on.

    How terrifice would it be to see a BC Mile showdown between GOLDIKOVA, CANFORD CLIFFS, 3y.o. miler FRANKEL, against the best the U.S. can muster. COURAGEOUS CAT returned from a layoff to win, STORMY’S MAJESTY has been very consistent, and MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE could win as a 3y.o. like his sire did. There are many I’ve missed off the top of my head, but, as usual, the Breeeders’ Cup is building up to a special event.

    Back at ya’ soon!

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