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Breeders’ Cup Day 1: Blogging By the Hour

Posted by Brian Appleton on November 1, 2013

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Hello racing fans, today is finally here…Breeders’ Cup Day One! Aside from classes in the morning, this is just about a perfect day. As soon as the horses enter the paddock I’ll be standing by to give minute-by-minute and hourly updates on all the races and contenders. I hope everyone gets to pick some winners today and we’re all able to witness the coronation of great new champions and even greater returning ones:

1) Breeders’ Cup Marathon Grade 3 – 1 ¾ Miles
It’s just under an hour to the first Breeders’ Cup race of the year, the 1 ¼ mile marathon with a field of 10 set to contest the race over Santa Anita’s dirt course. Commander is the horse I like here and with the apparent “speed bias” everyone seems to be talking about on the dirt today I think his chances have increased even more. He’s won four of his last 5 starts and in all four wins the official chart notes that he had the lead and either held of extended his advantage at the wire. Indian Jones and Pool Play seem to be getting some support on social media, but as it stands now Commander looks the best from this vantage. 37 Minutes to post for the Breeders’ Cup Marathon.
Results: London Bridge came from out of the clouds to win the Breeder’s Cup Marathon at odds of 7-1 at Santa Anita, defeating Blueskiesnrainbows with Worldy finishing third. Approaching the end of the backstretch Commander relinquished an easy lead he had maintained for the first 1 ¼ of the Marathon as a wave of contenders overcame his position. Blueskiesnrainbows took a narrow advantage into the homestretch with a swift move on the inside as Wordly loomed up on the outside with Suns Out Guns Out packed tightly between those two. It appeared briefly that Blueskiesnrainbows would open up and win by just over a length clear, but London Bridge had other plans. Closing from dead last, all-time-winningest Breeders’ Cup jockey Mike Smith guided London Bridge wide around his competition and stormed down the center of the track to catch a tiring Blueskiesnrainbows. Clearly these was no speed bias on the Santa Anita dirt surface today as some feared there might be.

2) Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Grade 1 – 1 Mile
Bobby’s Kitten looks to be much the best of this group to me, but see as I chose Commander in the Marathon who just got trampled, my opinion might not be the best. His Pilgrim Stakes (Gr.3) was ultra-impressive and he’s able to replicate the same kick he displayed there he should win this with a good trip. Bashart and Giovanni Boldini look like legitimate threats.

Results:
Bobby’s Kitten kicked out of the gate in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf like a rocket and blew through the fastest opening quarter in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf history, going :22.27 before posting a :25.45.70. Down the backstretch Bobby’s Kitten maintained his commanding lead, rolling into the homestretch 2 lengths in front with Giovianni Boldini beginning to gain ground in second. Off the turn it was clear Bobby’s Kitten was going to have to work hard to validate his favoritism. Giovanni Boldini continued to eat into his lead, gaining momentum with each and every stride, but from the middle of the pack Outstrip streaked through an opening and gunned for the leaders. It was like watching a fresh horse jump into the race in the homestretch and mow down his two biggest opponents with ease. The margin of victory wasn’t large, but it didn’t matter, Outstrip was fantastic and proved easily the best. Mike Smith won his 2nd Breeders’ Cup race of the day. Giovanni Boldini finished second with Bobby’s Kitten in third.

3) Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile 1 – 1 Mile
If the Verrazano of the Haskell Stakes shows up here in the Dirt Mile I don’t think he’s going to have any problems winning this race. Goldencents is a bit of a question mark to me, he’s proven himself earlier in the year, but lately he’s been missing the win in races that should be right up his alley distance-wise. I think Pants On Fire is the most legitimate choice to spring a win if it’s not Verrazano.

Results:
The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile was Verrazano’s chance to prove his losses at 1 ¼ miles in the Kentucky Derby and Travers this year were flukes and that his true talent lay in the sprints and mile distances. Goldencents had other plans. Breaking from the gate best of all, Goldencents and jockey Bajarano shot to the lead and never looked back. Blazing an opening quarter mile in :22.12 before a half in :44.75, Goldencents turned back the challenge of Broadway Empire and poured it on in the homestretch, opening up by 5 lengths on the field. Verrazano floundered in 4th, finally fading back as Golden Ticket came up on the inside to take second with Brujo de Olleros in third. Goldencents had something to prove today and he came out and really put on a show. I guess the decision for Champion 3-Year-Old Male rests solidly in the results of the Breeders’ Cup Classic tomorrow night.

4) Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Grade 1 – 1 Mile on the Turf
This field seems a bit wide-open to me this year and I frankly wouldn’t be surprised to see a longshot win, however I do think Vorda and My Conquestadory appear to be the best on paper. Vorda has more experience than My Conquestadory who is undefeated in just two starts, including a win in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibides Stakes last out, but it’s sometimes hard to tell how well a young horse will handle travelling from Europe to America. Chrisellium seems like another filly with a good shot. If she gets a good pace to close into she’ll be right in the mix.

Results:
Chrisellium got the pace she needed and romped to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, defeating Testa Rossi and Colonel Joan in third with My Conquestadory finishing 4th. Nesso led the field through a strong opening quarter in :22.47 with My Conquestadory tracking in 2nd on the outside. Rounding the far turn Nesso continued to lead as My Conquestadory moved up to challenge and Chrisellium and jockey Hughes slipped between horses from the middle of the pack and unleashed a devastating turn of foot. As quick as My Conquestadory took the lead Chrisellium stole it away and blazed under the line in a record setting final time of 1:33.72. European’s are having a great Breeders’ Cup so far. My Conquestadory failed as the major American hope here, but still ran her heart out and was compromised by the 14 post. She’ll be back stronger and tougher to beat next time.

5) Breeders’ Cup Distaff Grade 1 – 1 1/8 Miles
This is the race I’ve been waiting for all day. Royal Delta looks to win her third straight Breeders’ Cup Distaff (formerly Ladies Classic) today and by all accounts will face her toughest Breeders’ Cup test to date in a pair of classy, talented 3-year-old fillies. Princess of Sylmar has been unstoppable since winning the Kentucky Oaks, becoming the only filly in history to win the Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabma Stakes in the same year. Even more impressive perhaps was the way she so easily defeated Royal Delta in her last start, the Beldame Stakes (Gr.1) at Belmont Park. Beholder rounds out the top three and is generally considered just a step below the level of Princess of Sylmar on the 3-year-old filly standings. She lost by half a length to Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks in May and since then has won two straight, including taking the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes against older fillies and mares. These three fillies are an incredible trio, I don’t think Authenticity will even crack the top three in the Distaff this year, despite the fact that she is such a terrific athlete. I’m rooting for Royal Delta to win her third straight Distaff, but there will be absolutely no disappointment on my end to see either Princess of Sylmar or Beholder take the crown.

Results: In a six horse field largely considered one of the very strongest in the entire Breeders’ Cup Championships this year, Beholder romped to victory over Close Hatches on her home track of Santa Anita to become the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner to return and capture the Distaff. Breaking from the gate it was a three way race between Royal Delta, Authenticity and Beholder, with Authenticity eventually gaining the advantage. Running an opening quarter in a swift :22.78, Authenticity led Royal Delta by half a length down the backstretch as Beholder sat just in behind. Coming around the far turn Royal Delta began to fall back as Beholder seized the lead with Close Hatches launching a strong move to gain second. Princess of Sylmar shockingly seemed to be struggling as the field entered the homestretch, eventually fading to finish last as Beholder blitzed to victory by more than 4 lengths with Gary Stevens aboard. It was Gary Stevens first Breeders’ Cup win in 13 years since returning to riding earlier this year. What happens now with the champion filly 3-year-old picture? Royal Delta sadly was not able to replicate her past two victories in the Breeders’ Cup and finished a distant 4th.

Posted in Beholder, Breeders' Cup, Breeders' Cup Distaff, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Breeders' Cup Marathon, Chrisellium, Commander, Goldencents, Indian Jones, London Bridge, My Conquestadory, Oustrip, Pool Play, Princess of Sylmar, Royal Delta, Verrazano | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Reneesgotzip & Musings on Curlin’s Runners

Posted by Brian Appleton on July 19, 2013

Reneeesgotzip How impressive was Reneesgotzip’s win yesterday at Del Mar? Very, very impressive. The four-year-old City Zip filly absolutely romped with style in her 2013 debut and against a very strong field as well. The second the gates sprang open Reneesgotzip burst to the lead and never looked back, sizzling her first quarter in :21.75 as she began to open up on the field. Dual Grade 1 winner Executiveprivilege tracked in 4th, more than 8 lengths behind the flying leader, who by now was 4 lengths out ahead of the field. By the time she reached the stretch she’d blazed through the opening half mile in :44.48 and was homeward bound, at least 8 lengths the best. Reneesgotzip ran the 5/8ths in a staggering :56.63 before finally slowing down a bit as she approached the wire. Executiveprivilege ran an excellent race to close from well back to get second, but there was no catching the brilliant Reneesgotzip who flew home more than 5 lengths the best.

I’ve been looking forward to Reneesgotzip’s first race of 2013 with great anticipation ever since her excellent 3rd place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last November. It was that race that caused me to closely follow her career with renewed respect. She’s not only endowed with incredible speed and class, but also has proven to be versatile, running well on the grass, dirt and synthetic surfaces.

This weekend is opening weekend at grand, historic old Saratoga Racecourse. In one weeks’ time the Jim Dandy Stakes will take off at Saratoga and we will finally get to see Palace Malice back in action along with the likes of Freedom Child and Vyjack. The son of Curlin is doing fantastic according to trainer Todd Pletcher and looks stronger than ever. Speaking of Curlin offspring, the dual-Horse of the Year had four winners in two days’ time this past weekend. Two-year-old Ride On Curlin set a new track record at Ellis Park on Saturday in just his second start, running the 5 ½ furlongs in 1:03 flat. Now word has it he could be headed for the Saratoga Special unless some buyer comes along and hands him over to another trainer with a different schedule in mind. For now though, trainer Billy Gowan seems to believe he has a pretty special colt on his hands. Stopshoppingdebbie came out Sunday to keep her perfect record intact in her 4th lifetime start, taking the Kent Handicap at Emerald Downs by a very determined head after a stretch long duel. It’s very exciting to see Curlin’s runners doing so well and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for his offspring this year.

Don’t forget to check out my post about Royal Delta defending her title in the Delaware Handicap over on Horse Racing Nation. I think the champ is ready to roll again.

Posted in Curlin, Executiveprivilege, Palace Malice, Reneesgotzip, Ride On Curlin, Royal Delta, Stopshoppingdebbie | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My Miss Aurelia: A 2013 Forecast

Posted by Brian Appleton on December 24, 2012

The older female division for 2012 was certainly not lacking in talent, excitement and glamour. As exciting as 2012 was in the distaff division, 2013 is setting up to be an even more spectacular display of the nation’s best fillies and mares. Royal Delta added a second stellar year to her record and became the first back-to-back winner of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (Gr.1) since superstar Baykoa won back-to-back runnings in 1989 and 1990 in early November of this year. A failed attempt to win the Dubai World Cup did little to diminish her status as an elite runner and she finished up the year with two consecutive Grade 1’s and will enter 2013 once again as the title holder for divisional honors. It doesn’t appear she has reached the limit of her potential and in fact, she looked better than ever winning the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, so it wouldn’t be considered absurd to predict another championship season from such a talented, capable filly. But many challenges lie in her path in the coming year if she is once again to conquer the championship. The talent pool she faces in 2013 may be the toughest she has faced yet and the biggest threat could come from a champion who was handed her first ever career defeat by Royal Delta…Read the complete post on Horse Racing Nation Here

Posted in La Brea Stakes, My Miss Aurelia, Royal Delta | 2 Comments »

Royal Delta Takes on Havre de Grace

Posted by Brian Appleton on September 29, 2011

Havre de Grace is one very special filly. For years the status quo was challenged by only the greedy, the foolish or the very gifted. Fillies rarely contested the nation’s toughest and most prestigious open company races against males, unless the male contingent came up very weak, or the filly was something exceptional. Havre de Grace proved to be the exception in her last start when she easily dominated a field of seven males to win the Woodward Stakes (gr.1) by 1 ¼ lengths, placing herself squarely in the discussion for Horse of the Year. In five starts this year Havre de Grace has won four starts in decisive fashion while losing just once by a nose. There’s been just one horse that’s had the measure of Havre de Grace from day one, and that’s Blind Luck. It takes a great horse to beat a great horse.

On Saturday, Havre de Grace will go for her third Grade 1 win of the year, when she comes to Belmont Park for the first time in her career, to contest the 72nd Beldame Stakes (gr.1). A short field of five fillies has been entered in the Beldame, including brilliant 3-year-old filly Royal Delta, dual Grade 1 winner Life at Ten and graded stakes winner Satans Quick Chick. The Larry Jones trained Havre de Grace has turned in just two works since her exciting romp against the boys on September 3rd, most recently turning in an easy 1:02.20 five furlong breeze at Delaware Park Monday. Fitness will not be an issue for the 4-year-old Saint Liam filly. She’s conquered everyone except Blind Luck this year, so if she’s feeling as good as she’s been feeling since March, there might be no stopping her in the Beldame. [To read the complete post and see Royal Delta’s chances of winning, click here to visit HRN Distaff Runner blog]

Posted in Beldame Stakes, Havre de Grace, Life At Ten, Royal Delta | Leave a Comment »

Age Before Beauty: Awesome Gem, Royal Delta and Summer Soiree

Posted by Brian Appleton on August 22, 2011

Awesome Gem is proving a very rare commodity in thoroughbred horse racing, showing that great things are worth waiting for. In Sunday’s Longacres Mile Handicap (gr.3) at Emerald Downs, Awesome Gem notched his second Grade 3 victory of the year when he ran down the undefeated Noosa Beach for an handy 1 ½ length victory. The 8-year-old gelding was entering off a disappointing 5th place finish in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap but turned things around in a big way with his easy victory. With 45 career starts on his resume, and two wins in his last four starts, Awesome Gem is the model of consistency, durability and class in the modern thoroughbred, and is proving that a competitive career can span more than just two racing seasons.

Already having competed in four Breeders’ Cups, beginning in 2007, Awesome Gem could be headed for a fifth attempt this year. Virtually all options are open to the extremely versatile son of Awesome Again as he has competed in two Breeders’ Cup Classics, the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and the Breeders’ Cup Marathon last year. I count myself as a big fan of Awesome Gem and will be rooting for him to continue making it big the remainder of his memorable career.

 

Royal Delta faced a very strong field in the Alabama Stakes on Saturday, and absolutely throttled her competition with remarkable ease. Breaking from post position number one, Royal Delta got off to a perfect start, out-breaking Plum Pretty, but eased up a bit by jockey Jose Lezcano to rate just behind that one. Sitting in third for most of the race behind the Kentucky Oaks winner, and dual Grade 1 winner It’s Tricky, Royal Delta rated patiently for Lezcano down the backstretch as longshot Pinch Pie ran half a length clear of St. John’s River with Inglorious a length behind in last. Entering the far turn It’s Tricky began to ramp up the pressure, ranging up on the outside of Plum Pretty entering the stretch as Royal Delta began her move. Into the turn it looked like a replay of the Coaching Club American Oaks was about to get under way with Plum Pretty and It’s Tricky battling it out on the front end, just noses apart. Royal Delta came driving off the turn, two lengths behind the top pair and swung into the clear by Lezcano. Far back Inglorious had dropped more than ten lengths behind.

Midway down the stretch Royal Delta inched up to It’s Tricky, brushing lightly with her opponent and then exploded to the lead, opening up by more than 5 lengths as she flashed under the line. It’s Tricky got up for second, 1 length ahead of Pinch Pie with Plum Pretty another 3 lengths back in fourth. St. John’s River never showed her late running drive and finished 5 lengths behind Plum Pretty. Inglorious never threatened, finished last, more than 20 lengths in back of St. John’s River.

In my Alabama post last weekend I noted that Royal Delta always seems to run big in her second race off a break and she certainly did. It makes you wonder what would have happened in the Mother Goose if she hadn’t missed the race with a foot bruise. She looks much the best right now and has certainly thrown her shoe in the ring for divisional honors. All she needs is a few more big wins in graded stakes and she’s in. It always sounds easy, but if this filly competes the rest of the year with no adverse effects of injuries I think it’s very possible.

 

Summer Soiree turned in a huge performance on the Del Mar turf Saturday, going almost gate-to-wire in the Del Mar Oaks, for her second consecutive graded stakes win, and third of the year overall. Bolting from post position three like a filly possessed, Summer Soiree took command of the field moving into the first turn and was quickly joined on the outside by Nereid and Dynamo. Going past the stands for the first time Dynamo took the lead from Summer Soiree, going through an opening quarter in :23.14 and taken a hold of by jockey Joel Rosario. Entering the backstretch Summer Soiree switched to the outside, just three parts of a length behind in second. With the final turn still to come, Summer Soiree suddenly pulled to the lead, under a strangled hold from Gabriel Saez. Nereid sat more than four lengths back in third as Cambina  raced far back, second last. Entering the far turn Summer Soiree continued to blaze the way and quickly opened up by ten lengths. Blazing off the turn the War Front filly poured it on for all she was worth, Star Billing and Nereid both storming closer with every stride. From the back of the pack Cambina exploded with a spectacular closing rally, closing in on the leaders with quick, determined strides. Approaching the wire Summer Soiree’s lead began to diminish, from four lengths down to two. With a final desperate effort, Summer Soiree managed to hold off the charging cavalry for a thrilling half length win over Star Billing. Nereid finished a nose back in second with Cambina coming up 2 lengths short in her rally.

The 1 1/8 mile Del Mar Oaks was Summer Soiree’s first Grade 1 win and fourth win in five starts this year. Where she goes next is undecided but she has proven an extremely brilliant runner with dominant victories on dirt, synthetic and now turf. She appears best suited to races no longer than 1 1/16 miles where he incredible turn of foot propels her to huge margins of victory and could be a strong contender for either the Filly and Mare Sprint or Turf Sprint at the Breeders’ Cup this fall.

Posted in Alabama Stakes, Awesome Gem, Cambina, Del Mar Oaks, Inglorious, It's Tricky, Longacres Mile Handicap, Nereid, Plum Pretty, Royal Delta, St. John's River, Summer Soiree | Leave a Comment »

High Stakes in the Alabama

Posted by Brian Appleton on August 18, 2011

The 131st Alabama Stakes showcases a field of sophomore fillies that rivals the best in the nation when it comes to depth of talent. Six sophomore fillies will line up in the gate at Saratoga on Saturday to contest the prestigious Grade 1 event. Of the five fillies entered all six are stakes winner, five are graded stakes winners, three are Grade 1 winners and three are dual graded stakes winners. In short this small field stacks up to a whole lot of talent.

It’s Tricky took the Coaching Club American Oaks by storm in her last start, defeating Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty in a terrific stretch-long duel that shook old Saratoga to it’s very core. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee is in line to win her third consecutive Grade 1 race if she is up to the task in the Alabama. Two starts back she handily defeated Turbulent Descent in the Acorn Stakes (gr.1) before capturing the 1 1/8 mile July 23rd Coaching Club American Oaks over Plum Pretty. Looking at the Mineshaft filly’s finish in the Coaching Club American Oaks where she was extending her lead over Plum Pretty at the wire, it’s not hard to imagine her loving the extra 1/8 of a mile in the 1 ¼ mile Alabama. With just two four furlong works since the Oaks she might be a little short, but the Oaks stretch run was a definite conditioner.

 

Plum Pretty has steadily been building a reputation as one of the gamest fillies in the land. As the winner of the Kentucky Oaks she demands immediate respect and has never run a poor race in her entire career. Trainer Bob Baffert was unsure of entering his charge in the Alabama after her hard-fought Coaching Club American Oaks run, but changed his mind when he saw how well the Medaglia d’Oro filly bounced out of the race in her next work. She blazed a :48.05 half mile to rank as the second fastest of  31 horses working the distance at Saratoga. She followed that up with an excellent 1:11.87 six furlong breeze before tuning up with a final easy five furlong move in 1:03.12. Jockey Martin Garcia was on board for her latest move and stated that he felt she was, “better than before”. There is very little speed in the Alabama so she could once again wind up on the lead, the only question is whether or not she can last on the front end for an extra 1/8 of a mile. She looks ready to run big and would vault to the front of this division with a win.

 

St. John’s River was finally able to break her streak of three consecutive second place finishes on July 9th, when she captured the Delaware Oaks (gr.2). Coming from dead last in the Oaks, the Include filly came flying extremely late to just nip front-runner, Strike the Moon, by a head at the wire. It was so close in the fact, that I watched the race as I was preparing to leave for work, observed what I thought was her losing, and went out the door to start my shift. It wasn’t until later that night when I got home that I discovered she had actually won. St. John’s River finished second by less than 1 length combined in both the Fair Grounds Oaks and Kentucky Oaks earlier in the year, all while coming from far back and kicking for home late. She didn’t appear to unleash as devastating a kick in the Delaware Oaks, but was running for the first time in two months and had slower fractions to close into. With that race under her belt and three breezes to boot, the Andrew Leggio Jr. trainee should be prepared to run a much better race than her winning performance in the Delaware Oaks.

 

Inglorious enters the Alabama Stakes riding the hottest win streak of all the contenders with three consecutive wins. Included in that win-streak is a victory in Canada’s very prestigious Queen’s Plate Stakes over 16 male rivals by an easy 2 ½ lengths. Before the Queen’s Plate, Inglorious captured the La Lorgnette Stakes and Woodbine Oaks against fillies. Earlier in the year trainer Josie Carroll sent the daughter of Hennessey to Fair Grounds for a possible run at the Kentucky Oaks, resulting in a second place finish in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr.3) and a fourth place finish in the Fair Grounds Oaks. She is undefeated on Woobine’s All Weather synthetic track but has yet to win on the dirt. Her Rachel Alexandra effort was very promising, and should indicate she is a major force to be reckoned with. Her preparation for the Alabama has been nothing short of spectacular as she has produced three exceptional recent works beginning with a .59:20 five furlong breeze followed by a 1:13.20 six furlong breeze and most recently a fantastic :47.40 four furlong bullet. Fitness is not an issue, the only issue is whether or not she can translate her amazing Woodbine form to Saratoga’s dirt surface.

 

Royal Delta has a lifetime record of three wins, a third and a ninth place finish in just five starts. The imposing daughter of Empire Maker disappointed in her first start of the year when she finished a dismal 9th behind Wyomia in the Suncoast Stakes but bounced right back in the third start of her career to win an allowance impressively at Keeneland one month later. She showed up one month after that to demolish the Black-Eyed Susan field and became a Grade 2 winner in just her fourth lifetime start. Given two months between races, trainer Bill Mott brought Royal Delta back in the Coaching Club American Oaks where she finished more than six lengths behind It’s Tricky and Plum Pretty with absolutely no excuses. If there is any patter to find in her brief career thus far, it is that she runs poorly off a break, but brings a big performance to the table in her second race back. She may still be a step behind the top four, but with two very strong five furlong works at Saratoga and plenty of room to still improve, Royal Delta should not be dismissed.

 

Pinch Pie is a three-year-old Victory Gallop filly trained by Tony Dutrow who will be taking a huge leap up in class when she faces the Alabama Stakes field on Saturday. Her forte so far has been turf racing where she has won two straight races, including her most recent triumph in the Desert Vixen Stakes on July 24th at Monmouth Park. Winless in three starts on the dirt, Pinch Pie enters off two four furlong works. I my humble opinion she will be lucky to hit the top three.

 

It’s hard to say who the filly is to beat in this year’s Alabama Stakes as five of the six winners are so capable and talented. Wins by almost any filly in the field would give them a strong case for Champion three-year-old filly. It’s Tricky appears to be the logical choice off her two Grade 1 wins but Plum Pretty and St. John’s River also present very promising prospects. Inglorious would be the favorite any other day if it wasn’t for the fact that all of her wins have come on synthetic, but she is in the best form of her career. NBC will be telecasting the Alabama Stakes from 5-6 p.m. as a continuation of the Summer at Saratoga coverage, and this is one race you will not want to miss. Can Canada’s darling keep the string alive with her fourth consecutive win, or will one of the fillies from the powerful American contingent take the top prize?

Posted in Alabama Stakes, Inglorious, It's Tricky, Pinch Pie, Plum Pretty, Royal Delta, St. John's River | Leave a Comment »

Tricked Again!

Posted by Brian Appleton on July 26, 2011

2011 is once again turning into the “year of the filly”. While the older filly and mare division appears jam-packed with talent, and houses perhaps the two best horses in the nation in Blind Luck and Havre de Grace, the 3-year-old filly division continues to impress as the season progresses, producing truly stellar efforts that showcase a rare depth of talent.

 

In Saturday’s Coaching Club American Oaks five fillies lined up in the Saratoga starting gate to contest leadership of the division. Plum Pretty went off the post time favorite off her Kentucky Oaks (gr.1) victory and second place finish in the Hollywood Oaks, while Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr.2) heroine, Royal Delta, was sent off the second choice. It’s Tricky, fresh off her huge upset win in the Acorn Stakes (gr.1) over Turbulent Descent, was made the third choice over Mother Goose (gr.1) winner Buster’s Ready and Kentucky Oaks favorite Joyful Victory. It’s Tricky entered the race a winner of four of five lifetime starts, her only blemish a dull fourth place finish in the Gulfstream Oaks (gr.2) where she finished more than 20 lengths behind R Heat Lighting.

 

As the gates flew open to the ring of the bell Plum Pretty bolted to the lead like a shot, breaking a full ¾ lengths ahead of the field and angling towards the rail as It’s Tricky came from the far outside to race in second as the field approached the first turn. Buster’s ready and John Velazquez slipped through on the rail as Plum Pretty navigated the first turn, moving into a close second position with It’s Tricky on the outside in third. It was just one length back to Joyful Victory and Royal Delta as Plum Pretty led the way into the backstretch. After the opening quarter in :23.88 It’s Tricky moved up slightly to take the advantage from Buster’s Ready, less than a length behind Martin Garcia and Plum Pretty. Royal Delta fell two lengths off the pack as Buster’s Ready continued to vie with It’s Tricky for the second position.

Plum Pretty continued to lead the way after running the half in :47.55, It’s Tricky just one length off the lead while Joyful Victory and jockey Ramon Dominguez took over a close third. Royal Delta began to move forward as the field entered the far turn but on the front end It’s Tricky and Plum Pretty suddenly spurted away from the field, opening up two lengths on Joyful Victory and separated by just a neck.

Flying off the turn It’s Tricky came to even terms with Plum Pretty and those two turned it into a two horse runaway, now more than four lengths ahead of the field as they angled for the wire. Martin Garcia’s hands scrubbed frantically across his filly’s neck, urging her to maintain her slim advantage as Eddie Castro and It’s Tricky refused to yield an inch. Royal Delta was a distant third, six lengths behind the dashing duo. With homestretch running out It’s Tricky dug a little deeper, gaining inch by inch on her gallant opponent, both fillies desperately holding on to their positions. With a final surge It’s Tricky eased past Plum Pretty and dashed under the line, three parts of the length the best. It was more than six lengths back to a well beaten Royal Delta in third and another 3 ¾ lengths back to Buster’s Ready in fourth, with Joyful Victory finishing seven lengths farther back in last.

 

With the win It’s Tricky becomes the first sophomore filly of the year to string together consecutive Grade 1 wins and takes command of her division. She easily took down the best one-turn filly in the nation when defeating Turbulent Descent in the Acorn Stakes, and has now defeated a group of some of the strongest middle distance fillies in the nation. With the exception of Grade 1 winner Zazu, It’s Tricky has defeated almost all the best fillies in her division. The next goal for the Mineshaft filly is the Alabama Stakes (gr.1) at Saratoga on August 20th where she could meet St. John’s River as well as Inglorious. [Originally posted on Distaff Runner at Horse Racing Nation]

Posted in Buster's Ready, Coaching Club American Oaks, It's Tricky, Plum Pretty, Royal Delta | 2 Comments »

Coaching Club American Oaks: Undeniable Relevance

Posted by Brian Appleton on July 19, 2011

Ruffian

The Triple Crown is one of the most adored and celebrated series in horse racing history. It commands immediate and lasting respect for its winners and contestants, and has a direct impact on championships, breeding, and overall value. Because of the success of the heavily male dominated Triple Crown, an American Triple Tiara series was created as a female counterpart, in the hopes of creating a competitive and prestigious series for the breed’s fairer sex. While the Triple Tiara has succeeded in gaining its contestants great prestige, counting only eight winners in history, it is also very inconsistent. From 1957-2002 the series consisted of the Acorn Stakes, Mother Goose Stakes and Coaching Club American Oaks before dropping the Acorn from 2003-2006 and adding the Alabama Stakes. Reverted back to the original three from 2007-2009 it once again changed for the 2010 running, consisting of the Acorn, Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama Stakes. This year the series started with the 1 mile Acorn Stakes, continued in the Mother Goose Stakes at 1 1/16 miles and will conclude this weekend with the 1 1/8 mile Coaching Club American Oaks.

 

The Coaching Club American Oaks (gr.1) has been changed just as much as the Triple Tiara itself it seems, being run at four different distances from 9 to 12 furlongs. The very first running in 1917 was contested at 1 1/8 miles but from 1919 to 1941, and again from 1944 to 1958 it was run at 1 3/8 miles. In 1942-1943 as well as 1971-1989 and 1998-2003 the race was a 1 ½ mile test of stamina. From 1990-1997 and 2003-2009 the Coaching Club American Oaks was contested at 1 ¼ miles before reverting to its current 1 1/8 mile distance in 2010.

While the race has seen inconsistencies in its running distance there has never been any doubt as to the quality of fields and fillies that have dominated its historic footnotes. Listed among its glittering alumni are such greats as Top Flight, Black Helen, Vagrancy, Twilight Tear, Shuvee, Ruffian, Davona Dale and Mom’s Command along with so many others. Dark Mirage and Shuvee became the first back-to-back winners of the Triple Tiara in 1968-69 and just five short years later Chirs Evert and Ruffian followed suit. [Read the complete post and discover the prospective field for the 2011 CCAO here on Distaff Runner]

Posted in Buster's Ready, Coaching Club American Oaks, It's Tricky, Joyful Victory, Plum Pretty, Royal Delta, Ruffian | Leave a Comment »

Duck, Duck, Goose!

Posted by Brian Appleton on June 21, 2011

The Mother Goose Stakes (gr.1) will be run for the 55th consecutive time on Saturday at Belmont Park and heralds the return of Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty. Inaugurated in 1957, The Mother Goose is one of the most prestigious races in the nation for three-year-old fillies. Listed among the race’s illustrious roster of winner are such great names as Shuvee, Ruffian, Davona Dale, Cicada, Go For Wand, Serena’s Song and of course Rachel Alexandra. From 1957-58 the Mother Goose was run at a distance of 1 1/16 miles before being run at the 1 1/8 mile distance for the next 50 years until 2010 when the race was removed from the Triple Tiara series and reverted to its original 1 1/16 mile distance. Named for well known thoroughbred breeder/owner H. P. Whitney’s famous filly, Mother Goose, who defeated the males in the Belmont Futurity Stakes, the important event has been held at Belmont Park all but four times when the race was run at Aqueduct (1963, 1967, 1969 and 1975).

Two fillies were originally scheduled to make their first starts in the Mother Goose since running in the Kentucky Oaks (gr.1) on May 6th but Oaks winner Plum Pretty was declared from the race today by trainer Bob Baffert due to a fever. That makes the second high-profile defection from the race as Black-Eyed Susan Stakes winner Royal Delta was also withdrawn from consideration Monday morning after trainer Bill Mott announced his charge has a bruised foot. This pretty much leaves the race open for Joyful Victory to steal if she is up to the task. [Read the complete post and a short update on Awesome Feather on Distaff Runner at HRN]

Posted in Awesome Feather, Buster's Ready, Mother Goose Stakes, Plum Pretty, Royal Delta | Leave a Comment »

The Real Royal Delta

Posted by Brian Appleton on May 23, 2011

I had a plan this past week when I was preparing to take off for my trip to Ireland. I had my laptop, flashdrive and saved files all relative to the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr.2) set to go. My hotel in Dublin had free high speed WiFi and I was eager to continue my coverage of the race and contenders while I was overseas. As luck would have it my hotel was having major trouble with their internet signal and couldn’t discover the problem, so for the full duration of my stay internet service was sketchy at best and wouldn’t work at all with my laptop. I was able to get one four times for a few minutes to send out a few e-mails and check in on some news but no luck researching or posting stories. So here I am playing catch up and writing my post-Black-Eyed Susan recap.

On October 30th, 2010 Royal Delta stormed through the long Belmont stretch to demolish a one mile maiden field by 12 lengths under no pressure from jockey Jose Lezcano. It was easily the most impressive New York debut by a juvenile filly of the year and promised good things to come. Put away until her seasonal debut in the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay on March 12th, Royal Delta finished 9th out of 10 while Wyomia captured the win. One month later Royal Delta turned things around at Keeneland when she dusted a 1 1/16 mile allowance field by three lengths. After being briefly under consideration for the Kentucky Oaks on May 6th at Churchill Downs trainer Bill Mott decided to skip the Oaks in favor of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (Gr.2) two weeks later. [Read the complete post here on Horse Racing Nation]

I’ll be posting some more recaps here on my blog hopefully late tonight!

Posted in Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, Hot Summer, Plum Pretty, Royal Delta, Turbulent Descent, Wyomia | Leave a Comment »

 
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