Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Posts Tagged ‘Close Hatches’

Summer Campaigns Begin

Posted by Brian Appleton on June 24, 2013

verrazano Summer is here and so is the next phase of the racing season. The sophomore class of 2013 has made their Triple Crown bids and are now targeting the country’s most prestigious stakes races for their summer campaigns. As the season stands now Oxbow and Orb should be considered the leaders of the division due to their Classic wins and consistent performances throughout the year. Contrary to what many seem to think, I believe this crop is actually pretty good and has proven to be very durable. Orb and Oxbow both ran four times in 2013 before the Derby and then competed in all three legs of the Triple Crown. Even Palace Malice, who skipped the Preakness Stakes, ran four times before the Derby including just 2 weeks between his disastrous Louisiana Derby run and his strong Toyota Blue Grass Stakes runner-up effort. Running four times before the Derby isn’t a spectacular feat, but coming through the first half of the year and the Triple Crown season without any serious injuries and always performing well is admirable.

Verrazano began the summer season for this crop with a scintillating 9 ¼ length win in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes that was sadly marred by the injury of Itsmyluckyday. The More Than Ready colt ran the 1 1/16 mile distance in a very solid time of 1:41.72. Visually it was a very flashy win, but with Itsmyluckyday being taken out of contention with the injury it was basically a paid workout for Verrazano, so there wasn’t really a challenge to measure his worth coming off his 14th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Still, there is the good running time to take into consideration and it was just a prep race for the Haskell Invitational Stakes on July 28th so his real test will come at the end of next month. He is a dynamic runner with a large fan base so it would be nice to see him come back with a big win in the Haskell, plus it would make the battle for leadership of the division even more intriguing.

Three of the runners from the Belmont Stakes have returned to the worktab in the past week, including Belmont victor Palace Malice who breezed an easy :49.45 half mile for trainer Todd Pletcher on Sunday at Belmont Park. Pletcher remarked that he felt that the son of Curlin was “just telling me to give [him] a breeze,” so just two weeks after his victory in the Belmont Stakes Palace Malice has begun his preparation for the Jim Dandy Stakes (Gr.2) on July 27th. This colt makes me like him more and more; he has Curlin for a sire, runs his heart out every time he hits the track and is apparently full of energy and raring to go just two weeks after the biggest race of his life. I can’t wait for the Jim Dandy Stakes to see what he’s capable of after garnering his first big win.

Dreaming of Julia failed to live up to her reputation once again on Saturday and this time there was no excuse for her distant second place finish behind the brilliant Close Hatches in the Mother Goose Stakes. The result was a huge surprise to me. Not that I doubted the talent or ability of Close Hatches, (I even remarked to a friend that if there was an upset Close Hatches was the only one I’d pick) it was just that the talent Dreaming of Julia flashed in the Gulfstream Park Oaks was so huge that my opinion of her ability was bloated beyond proportion. She ran a decent second, but Close Hatches stole the show with her powerful 7 ¼ length win. The First Defence filly proved that the undefeated record she lost in the wake of her 7th place finish in the Kentucky Oaks, was no fluke. Her final time of 1:41.36 for the 1 1/16 mile distance was very solid and the top three fillies finished 1-2-3 so I think her win is a legitimate one based on her own ability and not a factor of Dreaming of Julia’s falling short. The 3-year-old filly division is just as dynamic and confusing as the 3-year-old male division now and is shaping up for a very exciting summer season.

Posted in Belmont Park, Belmont Stakes, Close Hatches, Curlin, Dreaming of Julia, Gulfstream Park Oaks, Haskell Invitational Stakes, Itsmyluckyday, Jim Dandy, Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, Mother Goose Stakes, Orb, Oxbow, Palace Malice, Pegasus Stakes, Preakness Stakes, Triple Crown, Verrazano | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dreaming of Julia Returns

Posted by Brian Appleton on June 20, 2013

Dreaming of Julia The Mother Goose Stakes (Gr.1) features the return of Dreaming of Julia this Saturday at Belmont Park after her disappointing 4th place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. The daughter of A. P. Indy ran the fastest sophomore Beyer speed figure of the year when garnering a flashy 116 Beyer as a result of her 21 ¾ lengths romp in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (Gr.2). She never had a chance to show her true talent in the Kentucky Oaks this year, but still impressed with her rally to finish 4th after a very troubled start and traffic issues on the backside. Dreaming of Julia has only raced three times this year, with the Gulfstream Oaks being her sole victory, but she still maintains faith in her supporters that she will lead her division based on her fantastic record from last year and the promise of exceptional things to come this year. I fully expect this filly to be back in the winner’s circle this weekend and better than ever.

Close Hatches won three straight races in 2013 to begin her career, including a 3 ¼ length romp in the Gazelle Stakes (Gr.2) over future Kentucky oaks winner Princess of Sylmar. She finished a distant 7th in the Kentucky Oaks (Gr.1) without showing much of a closing punch in the 1 1/8 mile race, but she looked much stronger when finishing 2nd to Midnight Lucky in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes on May 27th. Her workouts have always been very slow but she seems to maintain good form despite slow times and she looks like a solid choice to finish second behind Dreaming of Julia.

Marathon Lady is just a maiden winner, but don’t let that fool you. She is much better than just a maiden winner. After finishing second by a nose in the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks she came back and ran 3rd in the Fantasy Stakes (Gr.3). Just one month later Marathon Lady ran a strong second in the Black Eyed Susan Stakes (Gr.2) at Pimlico, missing by a neck to Fiftyshadesofhay. Expect her to be running well late and pick up a piece of the prize, but probably not the top spot.

Toasting finished 3rd in the Black Eyed Susan Stakes (Gr.2) and has only won a maiden and an allowance race. She seems to be a capable filly who runs well against good competition, but I think she’s just outclassed by the top three in this one.

Sister State has raced just four times and won just once, her maiden. She most recently finished 8th in an allowance optional claiming race at Belmont Park, she seems to be a good choice to take up the rear of the field.

Posted in Close Hatches, Dreaming of Julia, Marathon Lady, Mother Goose Stakes, Sister State, Toasting | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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