Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Archive for the ‘Travers Stakes’ Category

144th Travers a Star-Studded Event

Posted by Brian Appleton on August 22, 2013

2013 Travers Stakes The 144th Travers Stakes presents a unique case for the die-hard racing fan this year: it is impossibly easy to promote. For those of us that spend the better part of our 365 days a year checking the Blood Horse, Daily Racing Form, and social media sites on a daily basis for news on our beloved hooved heroes, only to struggle when it comes time to explain just how amazing a race like the Travers Stakes, Alabama, Haskell or Jim Dandy Stakes are to the “fair weather fans” who have just a vague recollection of the Kentucky Derby winner, sometimes the Preakness winner and almost never the Belmont winner, the 2013 Travers Stakes is a dream come true.

The 2013 Travers features Palace Malice, Orb and Verrazano all in the same race. Now that they’re all entered in the same race, the trouble is trying to decide on a favorite, or better yet, separating the favorites and choosing just one to win. I for one am solidly behind Palace Malice yet again. Since winning the Belmont Stakes on June 8th this son of Curlin has done everything right, even going on to capture the Jim Dandy Stakes last month in the 2nd fastest running since the race was shortened to its current 1 1/8 mile distance in 1972. Trainer Todd Pletcher can’t seem to find enough praise for the bay colt these days and has been very pleased with the way he has trained since the Jim Dandy. The fact that Palace Malice comes off two straight graded stakes wins in two of the biggest 3-year-old races in the nation, is 2-for-2 at Saratoga and seems to still be improving makes him the horse to beat in my eyes. Plus the Jim Dandy has proven to be the most effective prep race for the Travers Stakes, especially in recent years.

It’s no secret that Todd Pletcher’s stable is loaded with incredible talent this year and the fact that he has both Palace Malice and Verrazano in the same year in the same race is incredible. Verrazano has only one defeat to his name, a 14th place finish in the 1 ¼ mile Kentucky Derby when he received a gash above his knee leaving the gate and then failed to mount any sort of challenge. Since beginning his career in January at Gulfstream Park, he has won his 6 races by a combined 46 ¾ lengths while racking up two Grade 1 wins, as well as a Grade 2 and a Grade 3 victory. A lot of people have expressed concern about his ability to get the distance because of his pedigree, but I firmly believe a good horse can overcome their pedigree, and Verrazano is a good horse. I just don’t think he’s as good as Palace Malice right now.

Orb has been away from the races ever since finishing third behind Palace Malice and Oxbow in the Belmont Stakes, resting up at Fair Hill before returning to the work tab in early July. After rattling off 5 straight wins earlier in the year, culminating in a Kentucky Derby romp before finishing a disappointing 4th in the Preakness Stakes we were practically ready to hand him the 3-year-old Male Championship. That has all changed now, the Kentucky Derby winner is now the underdog. That alone says a lot for how loaded the field is in the Travers. Of all the contestants lining up to take a run at Saratoga’s premier race for sophomore colts, Orb has posted the best workouts hands down. Three straight bullet works, each as impressive as the last makes me think Orb and trainer Shug McGaughey are out to prove something. If I’m being honest I’d have to say that Orb scares me more than Verrazano right now and I think he’s going to present the biggest challenge to Palace Malice.

The “Big Three” might be the ones stealing all the headlines and probably make up for about 90% of bettors selections in the Travers, but one of them winning is by no means a done deal. Will Take Charge, Moreno, War Dancer, Ramansh, Transparent and Golden Soul make up the remainder of the field and at least four of them seem capable of springing an upset. Will Take Charge seems most likely to benefit from the added distance of the 1 ¼ mile Travers while Moreno seems like the one that could most be negatively affected by the added distance. Will Take Charge ran a great race to earn second in the Jim Dandy, rallying from far back to miss catching Palace Malice by one length. He had a terrible run in the Triple Crown, but seems to have turned things around after his promising run in the Jim Dandy.

Moreno won the Dwyer Stakes impressively before finishing a tiring third as the initial pacesetting in the Jim Dandy and despite trainer Eric Guillot’s comments regarding the colts ability to win the Travers I doubt he can carry his speed over the 1 ¼ mile distance. If he couldn’t keep up at 1 1/8 miles I don’t think he’s going to stop Palace Malice, Orb, Verrazano or even Will Take Charge at 1 ¼ miles.

War Dancer seems to be the most logical longshot pick after Will Take Charge, but I think Palace Malice, Orb and Verrazano are still at the head of this class. There’s nothing we racing fans love more than a showdown of our top athletes and with three of the nation’s very best in the same starting gate on Saturday it promises to be just that. The 2013 Travers Stakes is going to be an amazing race and I’m going with Palace Malice all the way. It’s not Saturday yet, but with only three days left before the 144th running of the “Midsummers Derby” at beautiful old Saratoga, this dream lineup of champion-caliber colts is about as close to happening as you can get.


Posted in Belmont Stakes, Curlin, Kentucky Derby, Moreno, Orb, Palace Malice, Preakness Stakes, Saratoga Racetrack, Travers Stakes, Triple Crown, Verrazano, Will Take Charge | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Quality Road: Look out Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta

Posted by Brian Appleton on February 10, 2010

The weekend of racing is well over and everyone has had a chance to digest all the performances. A major Kentucky Derby prep race was cancelled along with a slew of graded stakes at Santa Anita race track due to drainage problems, delaying the highly anticipated showdown between American Lion and Tiz Chrome. The Whirlaway Stakes favorite ran amuck before the race was half over allowing another challenger to form Derby dreams. A well known four year old returned from a long injury-layoff to post an encouraging victory. Take the Points was robbed of his victory in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr.1) when he was disqualified. Plus Quality Road ran a race for the ages and showed that Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta will not be alone in vying for Horse of the Year honors this time around.

The word handicap indicates that horses in the field are given different amounts of weight in hopes of equaling the ability of all runners, making it as fair a chance for all as is humanly possible. In the Donn Handicap (gr.1) it was not possible, if Quality Road was under any kind of handicap in the Donn Handicap there was certainly no indication. After chasing front running Past the Point in a close second, Quality Road was asked by jockey John Velasquez to take the lead rounding the far turn and the talented four year old responded in rousing fashion. Flying into the homestretch Quality Road held a five length lead and kept going from there, seven lengths, then ten. In the blink of an eye he had crossed the wire 12 ¾ lengths ahead of the field, ears pricked, John Velasquez sitting cool. All it took was a few taps of the whip to keep Quality Road focused, mild urging down the stretch, and the son of Elusive Quality smashed the track record he set last year, won by the largest margin in the 52 year history of the Donn and earned an impressive 121 Beyer speed figure. The future looks brighter than ever for Quality Road. His talents seem endless; he is endowed with speed, strength and stamina. There may just be

Quality Road

two giants for Rachel Alexandra to slay this year in order to defend her Horse of the Year title: Zenyatta and Quality Road. I think Quality Road is out to do everything he can to make 2010 the “Year of the Colt”, and anyone who saw the Donn would be hard pressed to find a chink in this knight’s armor. According to trainer Todd Pletcher the Met Mile in May at Belmont Park is the next race on Quality Road’s radar. Am I the only one that thinks this is a poor choice?

Musket Man is back and he looks as good as ever, perhaps even better. According to owner Eric Fein Musket Man was only about 70% cranked for his return to the races at Tampa Bay Downs. After watching the race I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I can’t wait to see 100%. The four year old son of Yonaguska rallied five-wide around the final turn, seized the lead in the stretch and fought tooth and nail the entire way to hold off Guam Typhoon for the Super Stakes victory. His next

Musket Man

start will either come at Gulfstream, Fair Grounds or Oaklawn Park. It was great to see Musket Man looking so strong after being away from the races since the Preakness Stakes last year, his next start will probably put him right back in the middle of graded stakes company and he will have his chance to prove that he also has become a major player in the older horse division.

Eightyfiveinafifty created a scare for trainer Gary Contessa along with his connections and a slew of fans when he bolted on the first turn of the Whirlaway Stakes, broke through the outer railing, unseated his jockey, jumped a fence, broke his bit and was finally caught by a security guard. The reason for his actions are still unclear, but after being given stitches for a small cut on his leg the colt will be back to his normal routine within a week. No return race has yet been determined. Hopefully things will improve in his next start; I think this horse is the real deal.

The Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr.1) was billed as three horse race between Court Vision, Le Grand Cru and Take the Points. Take the Points won by 1 ½ lengths before being disqualified to fifth for veering-in during the stretch run and

Take the Points

causing another horse to stumble. Court Vision got up for second and was awarded the win after Take the Points disqualification. In my opinion the result would have been the same had Take the Points not lugged in. He was drawing off at the wire while Court Vision seemed to lack his usual spark in his closing kick. Le Grand Cru finished fourth, a neck behind Never On Sunday who finished a neck behind Court Vision.

Overall a great weekend of racing with us fans being treated to some great performances.  On a slightly more negative note, Summer Bird was removed from the care of Tim Ice who so brilliantly handled the colts career in 2009. Owners  K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman are also removing 24 other horses from Ice’s stable and transferring them to at least 5 other trainers. K.K. Jayaraman said he thinks that there has been a failing in communication between him and Ice. “I’m just another trainer in a long line he’s hired and fired,” Ice said.

Summer Bird

After training Summer Bird to an historical three year old campaign that included wins in the Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup and being named champion three year old colt, Tim Ice is being dumped for trainer Tim Ritchey. I have nothing against Tim Ritchey who handled Afleet Alex’s campaign wonderfully, but why mess with a good thing?

Posted in American Lion, Belmont Stakes, Bob Baffert, Court Vision, Eightfiveinafifty, Handicapping, Horse of the Year, Kentucky Derby, Quality Road, Rachel Alexandra, Summer Bird, Synthetic(s), Take the Points, Thorougbred Horse Racing, Tim Ice, Tiz Chrome, Todd Pletcher, Travers Stakes, Uncategorized, Zenyatta | 2 Comments »

The Eclipse Awards and Baker’s Dozen

Posted by Brian Appleton on January 14, 2010


Rachel Alexandra

Monday night the most hotly contested Horse of the Year vote in racing history will finally be decided. One contestant will walk away with a trophy, the ultimate champion in title, but both will walk away champions where it counts; in the hearts of legions of adoring fans who, if their horse win or lose, will further strengthen their allegiance to these great athletes by sheer love of the horse. Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta have been plowing a tremendous furrow in the field of historical achievement since their 2009 racing campaigns have ended. Not only did they achieve incredible things on the track, they shattered equally marvelous boundaries in the hearts and minds of thousands of fans the world over. True, the Horse of the Year debate rages most strongly in America, but the extreme star power of these two giants in the sport has transcended national boundaries and carried across oceans to touch the lives of fans all over the world. I’m rooting for Rachel Alexandra to win for reasons already stated, but win or lose, I’ll cheer either way and gripe later.

I think Gio Ponti is poised to pull off a miraculous championship double if the

Gio Ponti

voters vote according to true championship form. Not only is he a cinch to win the Grass Male title, but he is also the frontrunner for Older Champion Male, an honor usually bestowed upon dirt or synthetic runners. Gio Ponti raced solely on grass last year with the exception of his 2nd place finish to Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Summer Bird

Summer Bird will run off with the Three Year Old Male award, or at least should. Becoming the first horse since the great Easy Goer in 1989 to win the Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup in the same season is no small feat. Mine that Bird will garner some votes here for his historic Derby victory, but the Derby winner always gets consideration no matter how bad a year he’s had.

Rachel Alexandra should rightfully steal every single vote in the Three Year Old Filly division as should Zenyatta in the Older Mare voting. If someone votes against them here in either category, then something is seriously wrong with that voter.

Informed Decision is the clear choice for Female Sprinter although Ventura will probably steal some votes for her consistent run of races, including her victory over males last year.

Kodiak Kowboy wins the Male Sprint award most likely, having beaten Fabulous Strike on two separate occasions. Zensational could take a good amount of the voting too, but his poor finish in the Breeder’s Cup Sprint will hurt his chances a great deal.

Now, on to my very first Derby dozen list which I have decided to call my Baker’s Dozen. Baker’s Dozen, the Webster’s definition is: A group of 13; from the former custom of bakers to add an extra roll as a safeguard against the possibility of 12 weighing light. So here it is, my first Bakers Dozen:

1. Lookin At Lucky-Lucky looks like the perfect racing machine, and if not for his courageous Breeders’ Cup defeat, he would sport a perfect record. Bob Baffert has decided to add blinkers to Lookin At Lucky for his next race and see how it goes. Jockey Garrett Gomez felt the colt ran stronger through the stretch of his last work (with the blinkers on) and kept the pressure on instead of idling when he hit the top of the stretch. The San Felipe Stakes (gr. 2) on March 13 is his next probable start.

2. Buddy’s Saint-This horse looks like the “real-deal”. He wins his races with

Buddy's Saint

apparent ease each time out and is proven over a dirt track. He is headed for the Fountain Of Youth Stakes in February and a possible showdown with Todd Pletcher trainee Eskendereya. His Remsen victory was thrilling.

3. Jackson Bend-His sweep of the Florida Stallion Stakes was impressive and showed good progression each time out. He overcame a troubled start to win the In Reality Division of the series. He is targeting the Holy Bull for his 3 year old debut on January 23. His latest breeze at the 5 furlongs distance went in 1:oo flat, the fastest time at the distance. Looks like he’s fit and ready.

4. American Lion-This Winstar colt looks the part of a true Derby candidate. His Hollywood Prevue victory proved he has enough talent to win, even if he doesn’t have as much experience as some other competitors.

5. Eightyfiveinafifty-Trainer Gary Contessa is coming out very strong in his support of this young and relatively unproven colt. His 17 ¼ length maiden


victory last out was one of the most spectacular ever witnessed and if he can strut the same “stuff” next out against higher class runners then he could be a real Derby threat. He earned a 105 Beyer speed figure for his freakish maiden victory.

6. Noble’s Promise-This poor guy has had a thing for finishing behind Lookin at Lucky lately, but not that far behind. In the CashCall Futurity (gr.1) last out, he finished less than a length behind a victorious Lookin at Lucky. The Bridesmaids eventually get their turn to shine, his may come sooner than we expect.

7. Dublin-Even though he got creamed in the Champagne Stakes (gr.1) by Homeboykris while finishing 5th, Dublin’s victory in the Hopeful (gr.1) over good horses like Backtalk, Aspire and Aikenite was impressive enough to convince me that this guy can run well again. Also, Lukas knows what he’s doing when it comes to young horses.

8. D’Funnybone-His 10 1/2 length Saratoga Special, and 4 ¾ length Futurity


(gr.1) victories were just too good to be flukes in my mind. He may have finished dead last in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but I’m willing to chalk it up to the synthetics and give him another shot.

9. Super Saver-Another WinStar colt, Super Saver won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in November at Churchill downs last year. Any experience over the Derby track is favorable, especially when it comes in the form of an easy 5 length victory. This one looks like he wants to run.

10. Eskendereya-I am partial to this colt, not only is he visually stunning, he runs great when shown the dirt and not he synthetics. His Pilgrim victory was a surprise to most but after his 9th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile many began to question whether or not he was for keeps. His recent victory at Gulfstream Park in front-running style proves he’s more than a “one time wonder”.

11. Rule-He has won 3 of his 5 races to date and has earned well over $500,000. He showed guts when winning the Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs in early December and should improve off this well deserved win.

12. Aikenite-This colt has proved to be pretty consistent on the dirt and against good competition too. He finished third to Dublin in the Hopeful (gr.1) in September, second to Noble’s Promise in the Breeders’ Futurity (gr.1) in October, then finished 5th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He may be a slow mover, but has the potential to move up the ranks if he gets a good win under his belt.

13. Backtalk-He seems to be almost forgotten at this point. Back in July he


was “the” horse after stringing his first three races together in victorious professionalism. He finished 4th to Dublin in the Hopeful, lacking his usual kick in the stretch but hopefully he can come back with some more gusto in his 3 year old debut. Any horse that goes undefeated in his first three races against classy competition deserves a second glance.

That’s it for my Baker’s Dozen, but as always when you’re making a list, there’s more you want to add. Interactif could easily vault himself into the Derby picture with a win on dirt or synthetics. His grass form is simply splendid, but trainer Todd Pletcher has dropped hints that he may want to try his star on a different surface in the near future. Spectacular Bid winner, A Little Warm, now has two very impressive wins to his record. One more will certainly earn him a slot on many a list. Others who have proven themselves capable are: Discreetly Mine, Champagne victor Homeboykris, regally bred Take Control, Bob Baffert trainee Tiz Chrome, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Vale of York and undefeated Connemara who puts his perfect record on the line this weekend in the California Derby.

Posted in A Little Warm, Aikenite, American Lion, Aspire, Backtalk, Bob Baffert, Breeders Cup Classic, Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, Breeders Cup Juvenile, Breeders Cup Sprint, Buddy's Saint, Connemera, D'Funnybone, Discreetly Mine, Dublin, Eightfiveinafifty, Eskendereya, Fountain Of Youth Stakes, Gio Ponti, Homeboykris, Horse of the Year, Informed Decision, Interactif, Jackson Bend, Kentucky Derby, Lookin at Lucky, Mine That Bird, Noble's Promise, Rachel Alexandra, Rule, Summer Bird, Super Saver, Synthetic(s), Take Control, Thorougbred Horse Racing, Tiz Chrome, Todd Pletcher, Travers Stakes, Uncategorized, Vale of York, Ventura, Zensational, Zenyatta | 6 Comments »

Quality Road: Hope for the Older Horse Division of 2010

Posted by Brian Appleton on January 4, 2010

Is it just me, or does it seem like we could be in for one of the most spectacular years for older horses in generations? The returns of Rachel Alexandra, Mine that Bird, Quality Road, and Summer Bird (health permitting) all herald good things for the fans and horse racing as a whole. When was the last time all three winners of the Triple Crown races returned the following year to slug it out for top honors yet again? Not to mention the returns of big name horses like Gio Ponti, who rose to new heights of

Quality Road wins the Hal's Hope Stakes

prominence in 2009, and Life Is Sweet, who is now completely free of Zenyatta and, therefore, given a clear shot at the Older Female Division title for the first time. Plus I still hold out hope that Einstein could be returned for one more racing campaign. Who doesn’t like Einstein? If not for his poor showing in the Classic in November and losing the Clark by less than a length he would probably be in a dead-lock with Gio Ponti for Older Male championship honors. If there was a television sitcom/show made around this horse, it would probably be called Everybody Loves Einstein. Rail Trip is also coming back for a greater shot at glory in 2010 after a good, but somewhat short, 2009 season that ended with his 3rd place showing in the Pacific Classic.

After the Breeders’ Cup is over and most of the major horses are either put away for the year or retired, it’s hard to wait for weeks and weeks on end to watch some real “quality” racing. Watching Quality Road winning the Hal’s Hope Stakes at Gulfstream was a real “pick me up”. He kicked the year off with an exciting and thoroughly dominating victory, making an emphatic statement in the older horse ranks. If he can keep things going this way for the rest of the year, his fellow four year olds of “yester-year” will have to work very hard to slow him down.

Quality Road wins the Hal's Hope Stakes

Showing no ill effects from his traumatic Breeders’ Cup Classic gate incident, Quality Road loaded into #2 like an angel for the Hal’s Hope and waited patiently while the remainder of the field was loaded. The gates sprung and you could practically say the race was over from there. Flying to the lead, Quality Road took firm control of the pace, posting a sluggish :25.15 for the first quarter-mile. Looking the confident part of a winner, he continued to lead the field down the backstretch and around the far turn, with You and I Forever, Spin Master and Harlem Rocker right there in good striking position. Around the last turn Quality Road floated a bit wide, allowing You and I Forever to slip through on the inside. For a moment it appeared that he might be in trouble, almost conceding the lead to You and I Forever for a fraction of a second. But Jockey John Velazquez roused his mount with a vigorous shake of the reins and the contest was over. Quality Road pulled away from You and I Forever as quickly as the other had closed the gap coming off the turn, and opened up as he drove for the wire. He coasted home a widening 2 ¾ lengths with no assistance from the whip, perfectly content to lope home the easy winner. The Donn Handicap (gr.1) at Gulfstream on February 6th is now the son of Elusive Quality’s next target according to trainer Todd Pletcher. Only four more weeks and we get to see this big guy in action yet again. After a brilliant but troubled 3 year old campaign, Quality Road now appears ready to seize the moment and leave his problems behind.

As a three year old, Quality Road won the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr.2) and Florida Derby (gr.1) at Gulfstream in highly impressive fashion, making him the probable favorite for the Kentucky Derby. He unfortunately had to be withdrawn from the Derby a few days before it was to be run due to foot problems. He was put away for rest and recovery until the summer. He returned in the Amsterdam Stakes (gr.2) at Saratoga in August, winning a visually impressive race and smashing the track record for six and half furlongs. His final time of 1:13.45 was so fast it was at first believed to be a malfunction of the timer. Track announcer John Imbriale called out: “Ladies

Summer Bird wins the Jockey Club Gold Cup

and Gentlemen, we know that Quality Road is a particularly fast 3 year old, but I don’t think those times on the board are correct, but we’ll check it out.” The previous time of 1:14 2/5 was set 30 years previous by Topsider in 1979. After his overwhelming return, Quality Road next placed third to Summer Bird in the Travers Stakes and was defeated a scant length by Summer Bird in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont.

Few missed his antics in the starting gate in early November at Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and he was subsequently given regular gate schooling and prepared for an early return to the races in 2010. After the way he won the Hal’s Hope, you have to wonder how he would have fared in the Breeders’ Cup Classic if things had gone differently. He has never raced on synthetics before, but he also likes a dry track better than the wet ones he got in the Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Classic was a good consistency. If he makes it to the Breeders’ Cup this year, I will eagerly anticipate his performance over a dirt track with hopefully clear skies and his well-known fellow 2009 3-year old graduates hard on his heels.

Posted in Belmont Stakes, Breeders Cup Classic, Dunkirk, Einstein, Florida Derby, Fountain Of Youth Stakes, Gio Ponti, Handicapping, Horse of the Year, Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, Life Is Sweet, Mine That Bird, Preakness Stakes, Quality Road, Rachel Alexandra, Saratoga Racetrack, Summer Bird, Synthetic(s), Thorougbred Horse Racing, Travers Stakes, Zenyatta | 8 Comments »

Reflections of 2009: Part Two

Posted by Brian Appleton on December 11, 2009


Rachel Alexandra winning the Haskell

Zenyatta wins the Clement L. Hirsch

Summer Bird winning the Belmont Stakes

June heralds the Belmont Stakes, the last leg of the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes & Belmont Stakes) and the only race of the three not run during May. After Rachel Alexandra’s magnificent Preakness Stakes win the first question everyone wanted answered was whether or not she would return to contest the Belmont Stakes. Her connections opted out of the Belmont, leaving Derby winner Mine that Bird as the main contender. Charitable Man was returning to action in the Belmont after having won the Peter Pan Stakes earlier in the year. Undefeated as a two year old, he was largely unproven against the best three year old colts in the nation and his connections believed he was good enough to run with the best in the Belmont. Dunkirk, the Florida Derby favorite defeated by Quality Road was also returning to action in the Belmont. On June 6, the “other bird” emerged from the shadows and pulled the upset at Belmont in electrifying style. Coming from far off the pace, Summer Bird sloshed through the mud, passing Mine that Bird and Dunkirk to win going away.  Summer Bird and Mine that Bird share the same sire in Birdstone, the horse who upset Smarty Jones in the 2004 Belmont Stakes. Earlier in the day Gio Ponti dashed his way into major prominence by winning the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap at Belmont for his second consecutive grade 1 score. June 27 was a ladies’ day extravaganza. Arguably the two best female horses in thoroughbred racing squared off against hopelessly overmatched fields on separate coasts. In New York Rachel Alexandra destroyed the

Rachel Alexandra

Mother Goose field in stakes record time by 19 ¾ lengths, the largest margin in history. Less than half an hour later in California, Zenyatta carried 129 pounds to yet another easy repeat victory in the Vanity Handicap. Before we leave the month of June I also need to mention that my brother got married on June 6, Belmont Stakes day. I asked him to change the date the week before the wedding so that I could at least watch the race live, but to no avail. (:

Informed Decision

July, the independence month, and Informed Decision kept the ball rolling with her fifth consecutive victory in the Chicago Handicap. After her third consecutive victory people began watching, after the fourth everyone was watching, after the fifth she cemented her position as frontrunner for champion female sprinter. Zensational took center stage the next day in his stakes debut, leading gate to wire to win the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park, and making a bold statement in the California sprint division stakes. Bob Baffert found himself with yet another promising sprinter less than one year after saying goodbye to 2007 champion sprinter and two time winner of the Breeders Cup Sprint, Midnight Lute. July 11 and it was back to Gio Ponti and a star-studded field of runners in the Man O’ War Stakes.  Making a strong case for older male championship and entering the horse of the year picture, Gio Ponti stormed to victory, winning his third consecutive grade one race of the year. The same day trainer Bob Baffert sent out promising two year old colt

Lookin at Lucky

Lookin At Lucky to an impressive debut maiden victory at Hollywood Park. On July 18 a gorgeous gray filly by the name of Careless Jewel came flying onto the national racing scene, winning the Delaware Oaks by more than 7 lengths at odds of 10-1 in her stakes race debut. The very next day on July 19 one of the greatest moments in horse racing history occurred, I turned 21. Alright, maybe not one of the greatest, but I was thrilled nonetheless. In case anyone is interested, I asked for Curlin for my birthday.

August, the month when racing turns up the heat. Only two days into the month Rachel Alexandra, Summer Bird and newly returned Quality Road faced off against each other in the Haskell Invitational at Monouth Park. Quality Road was coming off a victory in the Amsterdam Stakes, a race which he won in record time after being on the sidelines since before May. Rachel Alexandra continued her path of unequaled brilliance, winning by more than 6 lengths on a

Gio Ponti

sloppy track over Summer Bird in second, becoming just the second filly in more than 40 years to win the prestigious race. August 8 Gio Ponti extended his incredible grade one winning streak to four in the Arlington Million. Back in California Zensational


defeated older horses in his first try and sprinted to victory in the Bing Crosby Stakes. Zenyatta picked things up the following day with a heart-pounding repeat victory in the Clement L. Hirsch, just squeaking into the winners circle by a mere nose, the smallest margin of victory in the undefeated mares career. Bob Baffert unleashed maiden winner Lookin At Lucky to lay waste to the Best Pal Stakes earlier the same day. On the 22nd, Careless Jewel returned to the racing scene with an eye-opening 11 length romp in the Alabama Stakes. It was her fourth consecutive win, and were it not for Rachel Alexandra, she would

Careless Jewel

certainly have made a strong case for 3 year old filly honors. The August 29th Travers Stakes headlined the continued ascendency of Summer Bird as the leading 3 year old colt in the nation. Fighting back a stubborn Quality Road the length of the Saratoga stretch, Summer Bird splashed to victory with jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard.

Summer Bird

As I was writing this second part, I kept finding more and more major horses I’d left out so guess what? It’s going to be a three-parter now! Please bear with me, and if I’ve forgotten any of your favorites please share anything that comes to mind.

Posted in Belmont Stakes, Bob Baffert, Careless Jewel, Charitable Man, Dunkirk, Gio Ponti, Informed Decision, Kentucky Derby, Lookin at Lucky, Mine That Bird, Mother Goose Stakes, Preakness Stakes, Quality Road, Rachel Alexandra, Saratoga Racetrack, Summer Bird, Thorougbred Horse Racing, Travers Stakes, Uncategorized, Ventura, Zensational, Zenyatta | 10 Comments »

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