Several good races being run all around the country this weekend in the sport of Horse Racing, but I’m going to focus in on two of them. The 2014 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park, which will feature undisputed leading three year old filly Untapable, and the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, which will feature six time Grade: 1 winner Game On Dude. Both races are Grade: 1’s and both races will be run on Saturday.
Other races around the country this weekend include the $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes for two year olds going six furlongs at Churchill Downs. I always pay extra attention to this race being it’s a) one of the first major stakes of the year for two year olds and b) I keep the winner in the back of my mind being that next year’s Kentucky Derby is run over the very same track. I mean, should one of these rascals run well this weekend and show up in next years Derby, I’ll give him extra credit for having a good race over the track
Governmentshutdown, a gray gelding by Exchange Rate who ships in from Pimlico, looks to be the one to beat in that race as he blew out maidens two starts ago and came back to capture a $75,000 stakes race in the slop in his last.
Two races later is the Firecracker Handicap, which is a mile on the turf. The race will feature the return (and 2014 debut) of multiple graded stakes winner Silver Max. The gray speedster, who knocked off Wise Dan last year, looks to have his hands full with another speedster in Free World, who has aired it out while winning his last five consecutive races and Joha, who has been off form of late but still figures bang up.
Out at Prairie Meadows (also on Saturday) is the $300,000 Cornhusker Handicap for three year olds and up going nine furlongs. Let me go ahead and tell you, this race is as wide open as they come as I see no real standout in the race. Best guess would be Ground Transport, who is cutting back in distance off his last race, Coin Broker, who only has a handful of career starts and seems to be on the improve or perhaps Carve, who has run very well in three of four starts this year.
Also note on the Cornhusker under-card are the Iowa Oaks for three year old fillies and the Iowa Derby for three year old colts.
The Oaks will feature the talented Sugar Shock, who has won five of her last six, Ria Antonia, who won the 2013 Breeders Cup Juvenile via DQ but continues to disappoint this year as she’s been beaten a total of 46 lengths in her last two starts and the good looking Thank You Marylou.
The Derby will feature Vicar’s in Trouble, who had won three of his last four starts going into the Kentucky Derby but stood no chance in that race almost from the beginning (he drew the dreaded #1 post). His biggest challenges look to come from Jessica’s Star, who has never been worse than second in five career starts including a win over this very track in his last race, the grand looking Embellishing Bob, who will be taking a class drop and Charge Now, who will be taking a step up in class.
One more to watch is actually on the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (formerly known as the Hollywood Gold Cup, but since they shut down Hollywood Park the race has been moved and renamed…which by the way…I still haven’t gotten over them closing the doors of Hollywood Park just yet) under-card in the $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes for three year olds and up sprinting seven panels.
Sahara Sky heads the field and looks to bounce back after a poor performance (7th, beaten 10 lengths) at Churchill Downs in his last race
Saturday June 28, 2014
Mother Goose Stakes
Post: 2:53 PM EST
For Three Year Old Fillies
One and One Sixteenth Miles
|1||1||House Rules||3/F||L||J Rosario||121||H A Jerkens||12/1|
|2||2||Untapable||3/F||L||J R Velazquez||121||S M Asmussen||1/5|
|3||3||Princess Violet||3/F||L||J L Ortiz||121||M E Hushion||15/1|
|4||4||America||3/F||L||I Ortiz, Jr.||121||W I Mott||20/1|
|5||5||Aqua Regia||3/F||L||J Lezcano||121||T Albertrani||20/1|
|6||6||Stopchargingmaria||3/F||L||J Castellano||121||T A Pletcher||8/1|
1) Untapable – has won her first three starts of 2014 by a combined 21 ¾ lengths including thoroughly thrashing her opponents in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes at the Fair Ground on March 29 (won by almost 8), then coming back five weeks later and cruising to victory (by 4 ½ lengths) in the prestigious Kentucky Oaks on May 2.
About the only negative I can find on her is this will be her first start in 57 days but even that fact isn’t all that troublesome being this filly by Tapit has recorded five works between the Oaks and Saturdays race, including an easy four furlongs in :49.3 this past Monday.
“We’re just trying to stay in a nice rhythm with her; keep her happy and comfortable,” said trainer Steve Asmussen after Monday’s work. “I thought she went over the racetrack well. It was a pretty warm morning, a little humid, but all is good.”
“She’s special,” Asmussen added. “You realize how fortunate we are to be around her. She’s just a tremendous talent and it’s exciting and fun to have her.”
With regular rider Rosie Napravik, who has been aboard in all five of Untapable’s wins and six of her seven starts overall, out due to injury top jockey John Velazquez becomes her new pilot.
If they beat her on Saturday it’ll be considered nothing short of a colossal upset and one of the biggest in recent memory. She is 1/5 on the morning line and figures to go off at 1/9…..down the road on Saturday afternoon.
2) Stopchargingmaria- is clearly Untapable’s main foe.
This filly, by the wickedly fast Tale of the Cat, finished the year last year with back to back wins in the Grade: 2 Tempted Stakes and Grade:3 Demoiselle Stakes (both at Aqueduct).
It took her three starts in 2014 but she has obviously rounded back into form as her blood and guts, coming from behind win in the Black Eyed Susan at Pimlico in her last race showed me.
Nice filly, who is batting .500 (4 for 8) in her career, easily looks best of the rest.
3) Princess Violet- will be making just her fourth career start after beating up on New York State Bred maidens (won by 3 ¼) and New York State Bred first level allowances horses (won by 5 ½) recently.
She will be taking an enormous step up in class and will have to go a quarter of a mile more than she’s ever gone before but she evidently does have some talent as well as a hot jockey (Jose Ortiz- 29-166= 17%) and trainer (Mike Hushion- 9-24= 26%) combo.
Good looking filly by Officer’s speed figures aren’t that much less than the top contenders in this race and may run well in this spot.
America gets the services of one of New York’s best riders in Irad Ortiz and does show some late run capability as well as some decent works over the notoriously deep Oklahoma Training track at Saratoga….I wont be shocked if she runs well in this race.
Saturday June 28,2014
Santa Anita Park
Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Post: 4:30 PM PST
For Three Year Olds and Up
One and One Quarter Miles
|1||Game On Dude||7/G||L||M E Smith||124||4/5||B Baffert|
|2||Fury Kapcori||4/C||L||G L Stevens||119||9/2||J Hollendorfer|
|3||Clubhouse Ride||6/H||L||J Talamo||119||9/2||C A Lewis|
|4||Imperative||4/G||L||K J Desormeaux||119||4/1||G Papaprodromou|
|5||Salto Del Indio||4/R||B Blanc||121||8/1||M Puype|
|6||Majestic Harbor||6/H||L||T Baze||119||12/1||S McCarth|
|7||Lideris||4/C||J E Enriquez||124||20/1||P Miller|
1) Game On Dude- the older he gets, the harder it’s becoming to figure him out.
The speedy now seven year old Awesome Again gelding has won just one out his last five starts dating back to his Breeders Cup Classic debacle on November 2.
The problem I see is the one win he did record, which was in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 8, he outran Will Take Charge and Mucho Macho Man while setting a blazing early pace (:45.2, 1:09.2 and got a mile in a sensational 1:32.2) before finishing 10 furlongs in a sizzling 1:58 flat.
So the question becomes, which ‘Dude do we see on Sunday? The Santa Anita Handicap one or the one who seems to be tailing off? Then again, if you ask trainer Bob Baffert, he insists ‘Dude remains in top form.
“He looks good, and he’s doing well,” Baffert said. “I don’t see any signs that he’s taken a step back. When he shows me he is tailing off, he won’t run.”
It’s kind of hard to disagree with him especially after watching this horse train so well lately (June 4- 6F-1:12 flat, June 11-6F- 1:12.2 and June 23- 5F- 1:01.2).
If you combine Baffert’s statement with the recent works and then add the facts that this horse is 8 for 11 over the Santa Anita surface and 3 for 4 when breaking from the #1 post, he’s kind of hard to go against.
That being said, I’m going to take him one more time but this appears to be a pivotal race for him. If he wins, all is well….if he doesn’t?….well then it’s likely he is beginning to tail off and it’ll be time to start playing against him.
2) Fury Kapcori- is clearly Game On Dude’s main rival based on his recent form.
This colt by Tiznow had a four race win streak snapped in his last when he got beat just a half length to Clubhouse Ride in the Californian on May 31.
He can rate off the pace (which figures to be set by the top pick), been training lights out including his last two works June 14- 5F- :58.4 and June 21 – 6F- 1:12.2 and has a hot/excellent trainer and jockey in his corner (Hollendorfer is winning at a 22% clip and Stevens at an astounding 25% clip).
3) MajesticHarbor- although this colt by Rockport Harbor is one for four this season, he really hasn’t run a bad race all year.
That win in the Tokyo City was especially good and followed that up with a close third in the Californian and a monster :58.4 five furlong work (out in 1:11.3 flat) last week with regular rider Tyler Baze aboard.
“I was very pleased and so was Tyler,” trainer Sean McCarthy said “It was just what we were looking for. He worked great.”
The distance will certainly be more beneficial to him,” McCarthy added. “He’s been running with these horses all winter and been right there with them, and this is the first time he gets to a go a mile and a quarter with them.”
He gets the call to round out the triple based solely on the fact that he’s been more consistent than any of the honorable mentions.
Salto Del Indio makes his US debut with past performances littered with on the board finishes vs. Graded stakes horses in Chile. This roan appears to be adjusting well to his new surrounding based on his most recent works (June 16- 6F- 1:13 and June 22-5F-1:00.2) and might run well on Saturday. “He’s been training well and he’s got good dirt form,” trainer Mike Puype said. “He’s a wild card for the race, obviously, but we’ve got to take a shot and see what can happen. He’s been one-two-three in 13 of 15 starts on dirt” Imperative finally broke thru and won the Charlestown Classic on April 19 which was just his second win in the last two years. He is fairly consistent (eight on the board finishes in 15 career starts) but it’s possible he just liked the Charlestown surface and ran well over it. Clubhouse Ride won the aforementioned Californian in his last; the problem is that was his first win in the last 364 days and in his last nine races.
2014 Record: 13-33 = 39%
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Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** Breeders’ Cup announced this past Tuesday that the 2015 World Championships will be held Oct. 30-31 at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, will return to Santa Anita Park in 2016, and will be held at Del Mar in 2017. Hello? Did we forget about Churchill, Belmont, Monmouth and Gulfstream? How about spreading the wealth?
****Wildcat Red will return to action Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the $75,000 Quality Road Stakes for three-year-olds.
Trainer Jose Garoffalo said the Quality Road will serve as a prep for the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on August 3.
“The horse came back in really good shape after the workout. He’s training really well. He’s coming back to being himself,” Garoffalo said. “We’re ready to run.”
Wildcat Red, who won the Hutcheson and Fountain of Youth earlier in the year, finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby,
**** Lastly, in case you care, we’ve (my partners and I) entered American Hero in the fourth race at Belmont on Sunday. It’s a six furlong sprint on the dirt and he will break from post position #8 in a field of 11 horses with Wilmer Garcia taking the reins.
I was disappointed in his debut (8th, beaten 15 lengths at 75-1), but I still believe this good looking gelding by Repent does have some ability as he looks great training in the mornings.