Of the 16 major stakes races being run in the sport of Horse Racing this weekend, none are bigger then our feature race, the 2014 Delaware Park Handicap at Delaware Park for three year olds and up fillies and mares going the classical distance of 1 ¼ miles for $750,000. Four time grade one stakes winner Princess of Sylmar has been listed as the (gift) even money morning line favorite.
Some of the other top races this weekend include a big turf weekend at Arlington Park in Illinois. Arlington, which just opened for its summer meet yesterday (Thursday), will feature four Grade: 3 races on Saturday afternoon, all on the grass.
It starts with the Arlington Handicap (race 7 on the card) which is a $200,000 race for three years olds and up going 1 ¼ miles. When Admiral’s Kitten is right, he would be the one to beat in this race but he’s fizzled in his last two races. That opens the door for War Dancer and Mister Mardi Gras (cross entered), who both ran very well in each of their last two races and possibly Avanzare, who has never been worse then second in now seven career starts but takes a big step up in class.
Race 8 is the Stars N’ Stripes Stakes which is a $150,000 race for three year olds and up going a mile and a half. The contenders include the cross entered Mister Mardi Gras (I’m sorry, but at this writing it is unclear which race he will run in but he looks like a threat in either race.), Suntracer, who ran a huge race his last time out at Churchill Downs, Olympic Thunder, who has run well his last three times out and Bubba’s Big Show, who albeit takes a huge step up in class, does pack a big closing kick. Of all though, I like The Pizza Man (in more ways than one), who is coming into this race riding a three race winning streak and shows some impressive speed figures as well.
Race: 9 is the American Derby, which is a mile and three sixteenths for three year olds. The $200,000 race appears pretty competitive to me with the likes of Schoolofhardrocks, who has really taken to the switch from dirt to grass based on his last two races, and Our Channel, who is the proverbial dark horse while making his US debut after coming from overseas. That being said, I think I would play either the lightly raced Devine Oath, who chased the fleet Bobby’s Kitten in his last and recent 23-1 upset winner of the Belmont Derby Mr. Speaker, or the lightly raced Afortable, who sports a 3-2-0-1 record on the turf with that “one” being a very good late running third in the Arlington Classic back in May.
Lastly (race: 10) is the Modesty Handicap for three year old and up fillies and mares going a mile and three sixteenths. The race drew an enormous field of 15 and whenever you have that many horses, anything can happen….but here is goes…top contenders include Tabreed, who will be making her first start since running a strong, albeit slowly run, second in the Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct back in November, Kepi, who has won three of her last four dating back to last year and is as constant as the day is long and Every Way, who has run very well in her last five races also dating back to last year.
Over at Belmont Park on Saturday is the $200,000 Grade 2, $200,000 Bowling Green Handicap for four year olds and up. It’s the final graded event of the Belmont spring/summer meet before New York racing heads to Saratoga.
The mile and a half event on the turf will feature Grandeur, who will be making his last start in the US in this race after a pair of disappointing efforts.(third in the Grade 1 Man o’ War on May 11 and fourth the Grade 1 Manhattan on June 7.)
“It didn’t go to plan, put it that way,” said Wayne Tanner, assistant to trainer Jeremy Noseda. “It’s history now. People make mistakes. (Jockey) Gary (Stevens) said he made a mistake; that’s life. Horse is still in one piece, look forward now to Saturday.”
Joel Rosario will ride Grandeur this time and Tanner added: “The first two, we were hoping we could get checks, but this is always the one we thought was our biggest chance.”
Tanner also said another reason Grandeur is headed home (to England) after this race is that any European-based horse who stays in the United States for more than 90 days would have to serve a 30-day quarantine before he would be permitted to ship back home.
Grandeur will face Reflecting and Sky Blazer, who were the third and fifth in the $200,000 Belmont Gold Cup respectively, as well as Boisterous, who won the Grade:1 Man O’ Stakes last year and was moved to the powerhouse Todd Pletcher barn earlier this year.
One other race I wanted to point out for this weekend is the Grade: 3 Parx Dash at Parx Park on Saturday. Ben’s Cat, the remarkable eight year old gelding who has amassed an eye popping 26 wins in 40 races, will be headlining the five furlong sprint on the turf for $200,000
In his last start, the June 7 Jaipur Invitational Stakes on the turf at Belmont Park, he finished a disappointing and troubled fourth. However Ben’s Cat seems to be at home at Parx, and in this race, as he will be trying for a three-peat after winning the 2012 and 2013 editions.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Post Time – 4:51 PM EST
Distance; 1 ¼ miles
For Fillies and Mares Three Years Old and Upward
|1||1||Belle Gallantey||5/M||L||J L Ortiz||114||R R Rodriguez||10/1|
|2||2||Flashy American||5/M||L||A Cintron||118||K G McPeek||7/2|
|3||3||Molly Morgan||5/M||L||C J Lanerie||119||D L Romans||3/1|
|4||4||Gamay Noir||4/F||L||D Centeno||116||M D Wolfson||10/1|
|5||5||Bryan’s Jewel||6/M||L||J Toledo||112||M Robertson||15/1|
|6||6||Princess of Sylmar||4/F||L||J Castellano||123||T A Pletcher||1/1|
1) Princess of Sylmar- had an absolutely sensational 2013 after ripping off consecutive wins in the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama, and Beldame Invitational (defeating two time champion Royal Delta in the process).
This filly by Majestic Warrior (by A.P. Indy) has only had two starts in 2014, but it certainly looks like she picked up right where she left off.
In her 2014 debut she won the April 6 $100,000 Cat Cay Stakes at Gulfstream by 3 ½ while being eased under the wire and getting a mile in a smoking 1:34.3.
In her second start, the June 7 Grade: 1 Ogden Mills Phipps Handicap, she trailed the field (of six) for most of the way before unleashing her patented powerhouse late run but came up inches short (a head actually) of reeling in Close Hatches late in that race and had to settle for second. In the process though, she did finish ahead of another two time champion Beholder.
“We decided to take it easy in the spring with her this year and to focus on the summer and fall,” owner Ed Stanco said. “She was just exhausted at the end of the year last year, and we wanted to do things differently during her 4-year-old season.”
Four steady works since the Ogden Phipps should have her fitness level where it needs to be and, unless I’m missing something, she looks much the best on paper….take the even money and run!
2) Belle Gallantey- finished fifth (at 25-1) and was less than two lengths behind the top choice in the aforementioned Ogden Mills Phipps, which in turn snapped a three race winning streak that dated back to the winter.
This chestnut six year old mare from the Rudy Rodriguez barn appears to have improved leaps and bounds since last year and looks best of the rest provided she runs back to her Phipps race.
3) Molly Morgan- judging by her last four races, this well bred filly appears to be rounding into form and could be sitting on a big race come Saturday.
If you go back four races into her past performances, you’ll find an eighth place finish on the turf on Jan 15, then a good third vs. high priced claimers at Gulfstream on March 19, then a strong second to On Fire Baby in the Grade: 1 La Trionette Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 2 before winning the Grade: 2 Fleur di Lis Handicap at Churchill in her last race on June 2….she improved in every one of those races and notice the upward trend in speed figures in each of those races as well.
This late running filly by Ghostzapper out of Capitulation (by Distorted Humor) should be coming late once again on Saturday afternoon.
Gamay Noir is still another late runner who has won two of her last three races (both Grade: 3 caliber) with speed figures that are close to the top choice’s. This daughter of Harlan’s Holiday could wind up being another “gift” as well at 10-1 on the morning line as she could better this rating.
2014 Record: 15-37 = 41%
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Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** Regent’s House-who is out of two time champion Ashado (By Street Cry) made her return to the races yesterday in the fifth at Belmont and after setting a wicked early pace, faded to finish sixth.
Ashado, if you recall, was voted 2004 champion three year old filly in 2004 and champion older mare in 2005. Overall, she won 12 of 21 races while finishing on the board seven other times and earned almost $4 million.
Regent’s House, who went the first quarter in :21.4 and the half in :45.2 yesterday, blew out maidens in her career debut (won by 6 ½) before finishing a disappointing fourth (after stumbling badly at the start) in a subsequent allowance race in April.
On a side note in that race, Voodoo Tales, who won the fifth race at Belmont yesterday, looked like she has a very bright future and I expect to see her in a stakes race very soon.
**** Two time Eclipse Award winner Beholder started light training again after suffering a minor pastern injury while running fourth in the June 7 $1 million Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park.
Trainer Richard Mandella said Beholder was ponied over the weekend and “In a couple of days, she’ll start galloping again”
“It’s almost healed,” Mandella said. “It’s nothing that we can’t work with.”
When asked if he speedy champion would make the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes on Aug. 2, Mandella said “I think that’s too quick, she missed a month of training.”
**** An interesting situation is developing around three year old filly sensation Untapable…One that’s even more interesting than the whole LeBron James situation if you ask me.
The bay filly by Tapit is nominated to the Grade: 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on July 20 but rumors continue to swirl that she may forego that race and take on her males counter parts in the $1 million Haskell Stakes at Monmouth on July 27.
Trainer Steve Asmussen, who arrived at Saratoga this past Monday, said owner Ron Winchell, and his racing manager, David Fiske were still non committal on the subject.
“I spoke with Ron and David after the Mother Goose, and we decided to get her up here for a while and watch her before we decide where to run next,” Asmussen said. “Those are the next two obvious spots if everything goes well. Keeping her sound and happy as she’s been is our major goal, and it’s our responsibility to have her ready to run her best race, no matter which one we choose. How she’s doing and the timing of the races will certainly help us make that decision”.
“Who goes (are entered) in the two races matters to us as well, of course, but we have no control over that. We do have control over all those other things.”
“Her talent level last year was not reached,” Asmussen said. “She was special and talented and a filly that was 2 for 2 going into the Breeders’ Cup, and we walked over thinking she was fixing to beat them, and nothing went right there. I think who she’s been this year is who we expected the whole time. All three of her races this year have been brilliant. I think her confidence level now is where it should be, and possibly one of the things that wasn’t there last year.”
“She’s a very special horse – very special” Asmussen added
**** Palace Malice breezed an easy half-mile in :49.1 in preparation for his next engagement, the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap on Aug. 2.
The leading older horse in the country trained by Todd Pletcher recorded splits in 24.4 before completing his final quarter under stout restraint in 24.2. He then proceeded to gallop out five-eighths in 1:02 and pull up six furlongs in 1:15.2.
The work was the second for Palace Malice since his win in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. “I thought he went very well – a nice, progressive breeze,” said Pletcher. “I thought he finished up good and galloped out well.”
**** The enormously talented, but mismanaged, Social Inclusion breezed a half at Gulfstream Park in :47 2/5 yesterday (Thursday) in preparation for the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 27 at Monmouth Park.
The gorgeous son of Pioneerof the Nile clicked off the first got three furlongs (over a sloppy track) in :35 3/5 on his way to that :47.2 half, and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01 3/5.
“It was an easy breeze. He was fine in the gate,” said owner Ron Sanchez,
Social Inclusion is coming off a distant third behind Bayern in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens at Belmont Park on June 7.
“Bayern ran a big race in the Woody Stephens,” said Sanchez. “We’ve given our colt a rest since his last start. He looks better than he did in New York. He’s relaxed. We think he’s really maturing.”
“The Haskell isn’t going to be an easy race,” Sanchez said. “It looks like there’s going to be a lot of speed in there with Wildcat Red running. Hopefully, our horse will finally win a graded race.”