Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Posts Tagged ‘Verrazano’

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.

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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 »

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 »

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 »

 
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