It’s rare that anything in the sports world exceeds expectations but in this past weekend’s Horse Racing highlighted races, the 2012 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in New York and the 2012 Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita in California, they did just that as Gemologist fought off a late charge from Alpha in the former and I’ll Have Another nosed out Creative Cause to win the latter.
Before I recap those two races let’s first look at other results from this past weekend’s action.
Done Talking posted a 12-1 upset win in the 2012 Illinois Derby this past Saturday at Hawthorne Park in Illinois. He won by three-quarters of a length and in the process, punched a ticket for a spot in the 2012 Kentucky Derby.
At the start, Done Talking was reserved off the early pace by jockey Sheldon Russell but on the turn for home a path on the inside opened up and he fired thru it. He then split two horses in mid stretch and hit the front just yards from the wire.
“We wanted to take the horse back early,” Russell said. “He’s kind of a one-run horse and we weren’t too keen on using him early going into the first turn. The trainer did tell me to look to make that early move. I tried moving at about the five-eighths pole, people told me that this is one of the longest stretches in the country so I just wanted to get my horse close enough so that when he did kick in he was going to be close enough to get there. I was very surprised turning for home that we were in about fourth place. I just knew then that I still had some horse. He’s the type that you have to keep at him but if you do he will give you everything that he has”.
“The kid (Russell) did a great job of riding him,” winning trainer Harrison Smith said. “Hopefully it’s on toLouisvillefrom here. The mile and a quarter should suit him with his late run, which is what you want. When the speed is backing up, hopefully he’ll be kicking on.”
Trinniberg broke first and wired the field in Saturday’s $250,000 Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday. (which was on the undercard of the Wood Memorial). The speedster by Teuflesberg ran through an opening quarter in :23.2, a half in :47.2, and cruised under the wire in 1:23.2 for the seven furlongs.
“You should never be too confident going into a race,” said winning jockey Willie Martinez. “Its horse racing, anything can happen, but I was overwhelmed with confidence. Once I cleared the chute, I knew it was all over. I was just trying to be the passenger. He’s the pilot.”
Winning owner Shivananda Parbhoo said the Preakness was the most likely target for Trinniberg, but did not rule out the May 5 KentuckyDerby.
“There’s a 15% chance for the Kentucky Derby,” said Parbhoo. “I want to go long. I wanted to do that (in the Wood Memorial) but I don’t think he was ready.”
Karlovy Vary “stole” the $500,000 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland in Kentucky also on Saturday. Karlovy Vary was allowed an easy early pace under jockey James Graham and went wire-to-wire in the 1 1/16 miles race.
If nobody else wanted (the lead), we were going to be there anyway,” Graham said. “So we just took her on and let her do her thing.”
The winner ran the distance in 1:44.4 and paid $32.80 to win.
“She’ll run in the (Kentucky) Oaks if everything goes good,” trainer Rusty Arnold said. “We still think she can run on the dirt. She had her one start on the dirt and had some things go wrong. We fixed those and think we’re ready now.”
Favored Stephanie’s Kitten finished third in the field of seven.
Jockey Mike Smith earned the 5,000th victory of his career when he rode 2011 sprint champion Amazombie to win the $150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes at Santa Anita Park
In doing so, Smith became the 25th rider to reach 5,000 victories.
“I’m really just beside myself right now,” said Smith. “For it to happen on Amazombie is so fitting. Who could have drawn it up any better? I’m just really happy that I finally got to 5,000. Those last two wins were tough. I’m glad that I got it over with.
“It’s incredible,” Smith added. “Just to get put in that group of guys that have won 5,000 I’m just beside myself. This is very humbling. I feel really good. I’ll sleep good tonight.”
Meanwhile Amazombie ran down pace setter Roman Threat to win the six and a half furlong event as the near 6/5 favorite. The good looking behemoth gelding ran the distance in 1:14 flat.
Amazombie, who was wide for most of the race, made his move in mid-stretch. He got the lead in deep stretch and held sway under strong urging from Smith.
“He’s back,” trainer Bill Spawr said. “Amazombie’s stronger this year. He’s gained weight, but it was too much for the San Carlos going seven-eighths and I think now he’s at racing weight, what it should be. But he’s stronger, he’s got more muscle, better color, and probably weighs 60, 70 pounds more and it’s all muscle. I feel our goal this year is the Breeders’ Cup if we’re fortunate enough to get there, and this is our first step.”
Spawr said Amazombie would next go in the $125,000 Tiznow Stakes Hollywood Park April 28. (a race Amazombie also won last year.)
Jackson Bend held off a strong late run from even-money favorite Caleb’s Posse to win the Carter Handicap by a nose at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday.
Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Jackson Bend battled with Shackleford most of the way around and finally freed himself of that opponent before stoutly holding the lead the rest if the way for the win.
“The way he was moving, I felt I’d get next to Shackleford, let Shackleford do a little of the dirty work and go,” Nakatani said. “And once I got around the turn I was going to see where I was at. When Caleb’s Posse started coming at me … this horse has so much heart. It brings a tear to my eye. He’s Mighty Mouse. He’s so little, 15 hands, but he’s got so much heart.”
Caleb’s Posse, who was at one point last in the field of five, started gathering momentum at the quarter pole but came up just short at the wire for jockey Rajiv Maragh
The final time for the seven-furlong event was a rapid 1:22.1.
“You know, I was watching the race, and I basically said, ‘It’s your race to win now, Jack’ when he got up with Shackleford,” winning trainer Nick Zito said. “That was some thrill, I tell you. It’s amazing, this business. You know, as a groom, I grew up around here, and I watched the race from right over there, where I used to watch it when I rubbed horses. I put my foot under a lucky spot from when I used to rub horses. It’s just a great feeling. I have to thank God and thank everything.”
Zito said the Metropolitan Handicap on May 28 at Belmont Park would be next for Jackson Bend. “Absolutely. The best thing is to just wait for that.”
Caleb’s Posses’ trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said “He came up a nose short today, so we’ll have to come try him again, I guess, Jackson Bend kind of made a little earlier move than we did and we just couldn’t get him rounded up there. That’s horse racing. The horse ran well and we’re giving weight to everybody, too. If weight means anything, it means a nose.”
Von Hemel said he would like to bring back Caleb’s Posse for the Metropolitan, which would set up a rematch.
The 2012 Wood Memorial
At the start, Lumber Guy led the way for three-quarters of a mile. He cut fractions of :23., :47.2, and 1:12.2 as My Adonis pressed the pace with Gemologist and Casual Trick also close by. Alpha, who had a horrendous trip (checked hard) around the first turn, was never far back at any point either.
Turning for home, Gemologist finally put away the pacesetter, with My Adonis in between horses. Gemologist managed to compile 1 1/2-length led by mid stretch.
But Alpha was just getting started with his powerful late run. He drew on even terms with Gemologist in mid-stretch and it looked as though he was going to blow by, but Gemologist pricked his ears and fought on gamely from the inside for the victory.
“It worked out great for me,” winning jockey Javier Castellano said. “He settled perfectly. I wanted a target. I didn’t want to be on the lead. I had a great trip. Turning for home, he was looking around at horses. When I asked him, he took off again. I like that. I was concerned (when I saw Alpha closing) because my horse was still looking around at the crowd. When he saw the horse coming, he took off again.”
Gemologist paid $4.40 and ran the 1 1/8 iles in 1:50.4.
The official order of finsish was Gemologist, Alpha, 53-1 shot Teeth of the Dog was third followed by Tiger Walk who finished fourth, then came The Lumber Guy, Street Life, My Adonis, and Casual Trick.
2012 Santa Anita Derby
At the start, longshot Blueskiesandrainbows angled over quickly from the outside and took the lead into the first turn with I’ll Have Another, Senor Rain and Longview Drive all stalking to his outside. Blueskiesandrainbows opened up a 2 1/2-length lead while setting fractions of :23, :47, and 1:11.
Blueskiesandrainbows (surprisingly) started to pull away from the field leaving the far turn. But Creative Cause was gathering momentum on the inside and I’ll Have Another was gathering momentum on the outside coming into the stretch.
Those three briefly tussled but it quickly became a two horse race once Blueskiesandrainbows began to fade. I’ll Have Another was able to get his head in front of Creative Cause and those two slugged it out down the stretch. In the end, I’ll Have Another nosed out Creative Cause.
I’ll Have Another paid $10.20 an ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.4
“This is so unbelievable,” said winning jockey Mario Gutierrez, “He is such a good horse and he gave me a big kick at the end. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that my horse would give me everything in the stretch leading up to the wire.”
Joel Rosario, aboard Creative Cause, said: “I’ve ridden I’ll Have Another before and he’s a good horse. My horse gave me 100% but I think we were second-best today, Sometimes it’s hard to keep winning. I waited inside and had a perfect trip. No excuses today, just second best.”
“I saw Creative Cause come up on the inside and I thought for a split second, running second in the Santa Anita Derby is pretty freaking good,” I’ll Have Another’s trainer Doug O’Neill said. “All the wins are big at the time, but right now, this feels as big as it ever gets.
“I loved the way the race unfolded and how Mario had him positioned going into the first turn. Creative Cause coming up on the inside definitely gave me a scare, but our horse fought on. He’s doing so good. Hopefully, he comes out of this good and if he’s 100%, it’s on to Louisville.”
“The other horse beat us today, but will he beat us next time? I don’t know,” said Creative Cause’s trainer Mike Harrington. He said his gray colt would continue to race without blinkers in the Kentucky Derby.
“Sure, I mean, why not? He was more focused. I mean, he never bobbled today. He ran his race. He just got outrun. That happens in this sport.
“This will set him up (for the Kentucky Derby),” Harrington added. “He ran hard. It didn’t hurt him. He’s still got a lot left in him. Maybe the other horse (I’ll Have Another) had to run too hard to beat him. We won’t know for four weeks.”
The official order of finish was I’ll Have Another, Creative Cause, Blueskiesandrainbows, kudos to Paynter, who finished fourth in just his second career start, then came Brother Francis, Liaison, Midnight Transfer, Senor Rain, andLongview Drive.
Little Bets N’ Pieces:
*** Sunday was a busy day for a lot of contenders for the April 14 Blue Grass Stakes as several went thru their final preparations for the 1 1/8-mile race at Keeneland.
Dullahan was, in my mind, the most impressive of all as he ripped thru five furlongs in :57 2/5
Raconteur also went five furlongs but in1:01 2/5.
At Santa Anita, Drill went five furlongs in 1:00 4/5.
Also at Santa Anita, Holy Candy worked six furlongs in1:13 2/5.
*** Rebel Stakes runner-up Optimizer put in his final workout for Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Optimizer went five furlongs1:011/5 at Oaklawn. “It was very well done,” said Lukas. “It was right on the money for us this close to the race. The idea was to keep his interest up. Now we have to keep him happy. He’s had a good three weeks (since his last race).”
*** Hansen, the 2011 champion 2-year-old male breezed five furlongs in1:00 at Churchill Downs Saturday. He appears to be ready for the Bluegrass Stake this upcoming weekend.
Hansen cut fractions of :11 4/5, :23 3/5, :35 4/5 and :48 1/5, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13 4/5.
“I don’t want to hook him up with another horse early in his work to keep him from getting rank, so I just have a workmate jump in with him to start their work where he’s finishing to get him to finish well” trainer Mike Maker said.
“Before theGotham that’s kind of how we were working him. So we’re hoping to have a replay for the Blue Grass.”
*** Musical Romance, the 2011 champion female sprinter, heads the field of 10 fillies and mares in the $300,000 Vinery Madison Stakes at Keeneland on Thursday.