This weekend’s Horse Racing Race of the Week takes us back to Belmont Park in Elmont, NY for the 2013 Mother Goose Stakes. The one and one eighth mile event drew a short field of five with the gorgeous Dreaming of Julia installed as the prohibitive 1-2 favorite.
Before we get to that, I just want to point out several other key races being run around the country this weekend.
The third race on Saturday’s card at the soon to be torn down HollywoodPark is the $150,000 Hollywood Oaks at one and one sixteenth miles. That race, like the Mother Goose, also drew a field of five. On paper, it appears as though Doinhardtimeagain and Iotapa will be the two toughest horses to beat.
Further east, at Churchill Downs also on Saturday, is one of the more interesting races of the year in the $100,000 Debutante Stakes for two year old fillies. This race is always intriguing to me being it’s the first (major) stakes race for two year olds and, in my mind (what’s left of it anyway), it jump starts the two year old racing season.
Year in and year out, the race is littered with maiden only winners and, because of that, is a darn near impossible race to handicap. This year is no different as Silver Valley, Richie’s Sweetheart and Yokohoma Mama all won their maiden races.
Of the 11 starters, I saw four who merit serious betting considerations. Medlabu came from 10 lengths back to win her debut, More Than Beauty cruised by over 5 lengths, Tear Drop went seven wide at the 3/8 pole yet still won by 4 and probable favorite Fiftyshadesofgold demolished her peers in her debut as she won by 10.
Not sure it’s a good betting race, but definitely one to watch.
The last race I’d like to point out is the Colonial Turf Cup Stakes at Colonial Downs also on Saturday. The race will be run at one and three sixteenths miles (on the turf of course) for a $300,000 purse.
A field of eight was drawn on Wednesday and will feature one time Triple Crown hopeful Atigun, Air Support who has been on the board 11 of 17 turf races in his career, General Logan, a winner of four of his last five and the speedy Two Notch Road, who is a wire to wire threat.
Belmont Park – Saturday, June 22, 2013
Race 10 – 5:49 PM
Mother Goose Stakes Grade: 1
For Fillies Three Years Old
|1||1||Marathon Lady||3/F||L||R Albarado||121||S Hobby||
|2||2||Dreaming of Julia||3/F||L||J R Velazquez||121||T A Pletcher||
|3||3||Close Hatches||3/F||L||J Rosario||121||W I Mott||
|4||4||Toasting||3/F||L||L Saez||121||T Albertrani||
|5||5||Sister State||3/F||L1||I Ortiz, Jr.||121||K P McLaughlin||
1) Dreaming of Julia– really needs no introduction off her looks, breeding (A.P. Indy-Dream Rush) and the total annihilation of the Gulfstream Parks Oaks field at the end of March as she won by 21 ½ lengths and scored a potent 114 Speed Figure in the process.
She came back in the Kentucky Oaks (as the 3-2 favorite) but finished a late running fourth, beaten 2 ½ lengths after a horrendous trip.
I’m not sure if her defeat in the Oaks was because of the awful trip or perhaps she “bounced” a bit off that enormous GP Oaks race (or perhaps a little of both?).
I mean, make no mistake, her trip in the Kentucky Oaks was about as bad as you can get.
At the start of the Oaks, to say she was bumped hard is being generous…it was more like she got wiped out. She quickly found herself eighth (in a field of 10) and in a position she isn’t used to.
To make matters worse, she commenced a rally on the turn for home but experienced some traffic issues and was forced to steady.
Tired and beat up coming down the stretch the gorgeous filly still was able to gain a little ground on the leader and, overall, I agree with trainer Todd Pletcher. I think she did well to be fourth, beaten less than three lengths.
“The break was the single biggest factor,” Pletcher said. “It took her completely out of the position that she would normally have been in very easily. Having to steady on top of that was too much to overcome.”
“I thought she ran very well in the race, considering everything she tried to overcome” Pletcher added.
She’s had four solid half mile works since then and should be rested and ready to fire a big race.
“I think she’s training as well as she ever has, and hopefully we’ll get her back on course with this race. I’n very pleased with the way she is coming into this” Pletcher said….agreed…I’m looking for her to bounce back big time Saturday afternoon, especially since she is 2 for 2 over the Belmont (her home track) strip.
2) Close Hatches – was 3 for 3 with all three wins being powerhouse scores to start her career, but absolutely mailed it in in the Kentucky Oaks. (She finished 7th, beaten almost 11 lengths)
She came back in the (May 27) Acorn Stakes and, albeit she was a well beaten second, she was put into a heavy drive by jockey Joel Rosario and she responded well.
She dug in and never gave up down the stretch even though winning the race was out of the question being that the winner (Midnight Lucky) ran HUGE that day, so you have to like the heart she displayed.
You also have to like that monster work on June 9th as well (4F- :46.3)…looks next best in a short field..
3) Marathon Lady– blew a substantial lead (she was 3 ½ in front at the eighth pole and got beat a neck) in the Black Eyed Susan and although she has been on the board in five of six career outings, she’s only won just once.
“I think she’s progressing and moving forward with each race,” trainer Steve Hobby said. “She’s maturing all the time, and getting bigger and stronger. Of course, beating Dreaming of Julia is going to take some doing—she’ll probably have to beat herself—but it’s a grade I race and a small field, so why not take a chance?”…good point, but is it me, or is does it sound like Mr. Hobby is running in hopes of getting place or show money?
Record: 9-30 = 30%
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Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** 2011 Kentucky Derby and 2012 Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom came home a disappointing 11th (beaten 11 lengths) of 13 this past Tuesday at Royal Ascot in the Group 1, $311,000 Queen Anne Stakes.
Animal Kingdom, who was making the final start of his career, and John Velazquez raced close to the pace for the first half of the one-mile Queen Anne, but faded badly after that.
“It took the wind out of our sails,” trainer Graham Motion said. “There was a lot of hope for this race.”
“My horse was pretty keen and didn’t get to relax the way I wanted him to,” Velazquez said. “Finally, when I let him go, he didn’t come up with any run. I rode him out, but there was no point. He just didn’t have it at all.”
For whatever reason, the horse showed nothing in this race. Plans now call for Animal Kingdom to become a stallion at Arrowfield Stud in Australia, and to shuttle to Darley in Kentucky during the Northern Hemisphere breeding season. Animal Kingdom’s career record stands at 12-5-5-0 with earnings of nearly $8.4 million.
**** Funny Proposition pulled a major upset last weekend when she went wire to wire in the $186,375 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs and defeated two time champion Delta Royal in the process.
Funny Proposition, who was 3 for 3 over the surface going into the race, enjoyed an easy early lead and had plenty left to hold off Royal Delta’s stretch run.
“We had a plan and it came together the way we thought it would,” said Norman Casse, assistant to winning trainer Mark Casse. “We thought we would take it to (Royal Delta) right away and she was coming off a layoff.”
In her first start since an off-the-board finish in the Dubai World Cup, Royal Delta raced three or four wide around the first turn. She then commenced a rally on the far turn and challenged at the mid-stretch marker before tiring as Funny Proposition pulled away late.
“She seemed a little bit more pensive in the paddock than normal,” trainer Bill Mott said of Royal Delta. “Maybe it’s just a matter of getting back into action. We’ll see.”
**** It was not a good day for the Besilu Stable because right before Delta Royal’s defeat, the highly touted and $4.2 million yearling Mr. Besilu finished a distant 7th beaten 11 ¼ lengths and was “outrun” in his racing debut on the same card.
**** 2013 Wood Memorial winner Verrazano destroyed the field in the $148,500 Pegasus Stakes last Sunday as he drew off to win by 9 ¼ lengths after his main challenger, Itsmyluckyday, was pulled up on the backstretch.
Verrazano, breaking from the rail as the 2/5 favorite under regular pilot John Velazquez, cruised thru easy splits of :24.4, :48.3, 1:12.3. Verrazano was all alone on the far turn and looked absolutely spectacular galloping thru the lane under no pressure at all from Velazquez as he finished the one and one sixteenth miles in a solid 1:41.3
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Verrazano was making his first start since finishing a disappointing 14th in the Kentucky Derby
Plans call for Verrazano to return to Monmouth for the $1 million Haskell Invitational July 28.
“I think we got exactly what we wanted to set us up for the Haskell,” said Brian Sullivan, a partner in Verrazano’s ownership team. “I think it makes the next six months interesting with a sprint to see whose Horse of the Year. I think we’re squarely within that picture. He’ll train at the Spa (Saratoga Race Course) and bring him back for the Haskell.”
Meanwhile, Itsmyluckyday’s rider jockey Mike Smith said afterward that he felt his horse was off in his left hind and he pulled him up as a precautionary measure.
“It felt like a left hind. He actually broke really sharp and was just about to go up to press (front-running) Verrazano and I felt something behind,” Smith said. “I wasn’t going to take a chance and decided it was better to be safe than sorry so I just took the cautious road.”
Itsmyluckyday is expected to miss four months of training after X-rays showed a slight fracture of the ilium (part of the pelvis).
“It’s as good as we could have hoped for,” said trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. “It’s a little fracture of the Ilium. He’s still at Mid-Atlantic (Equine Medical Center in N.J.) for a little more testing today, but I expect him to be back here tomorrow or the next day”.
“I’m told the success rate of a full recovery is outstanding. I heard that of 29 horses that have had this issue, 27 of them came back to run just as well as they had before, so that’s very promising.”
“He’ll stay here (at Monmouth) for the next 30 days or so,” Plesa said. “I’m in no rush to put him on a van and send him back to Florida at this point.”
**** 2012 Breeders Cup Classic winner Fort Larned appears to be back on track (literally) after blowing away his foes in the Stephen Foster Handicap last weekend and will now be pointed to the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, trainer Ian Wilkes said last Sunday morning.
“The Whitney will be next and we’ll just take it one race at a time,” Wilkes said. “The ultimate goal is getting back to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
“He looks good this (last Sunday) morning,” Wilkes said. “I’m very proud of him. It was what we were hoping to see.”