Chicken Soup for the Horse Fan’s Soul: A Weekend at Saratoga

Will Take Charge

Will Take Charge

As I pulled onto the dirt road that leads up to the Oklahoma training track, all the familiar settings started to surround me.  To my left was the barn of Todd Pletcher, where many of his super star horses were poking their heads out of their stalls watching the crowd stroll towards the track.  To my right there are horses coming off the training track and two horses getting baths after what I assume was a morning workout.  At Saratoga, horses and humans live as one.  When walking to the paddock, the horses walk through a long winding path that goes right through the massive crowds of people in the picnic area.  It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, as the horses enter the paddock with a “gladiator” like entrance.  It’s their world, we’re just living in it!  A carnival like atmosphere lines the outside of the track with unique food stops, home-brewed beer and live entertainment.  Even before the races begin, you know you are in a special place.  Add all of these delights to the fact that the best horses in the country run here day in and day out and you truly realize that this is horse racing heaven.

 “At Saratoga, horses and humans live as one”

One of the coolest things about this trip was seeing the game through the eyes of a first timer.  Sometimes a set of “new eyes” can give you a better appreciation for things, as well as a better understanding of how newcomers vision our sport.  It began like it normally does…the “who do I bet on” questions.  Then the “why did you tell me to bet that” as the horse I tipped them off on staggered across the finish line looking as though he’d rather be grazing in the pasture than running in the race.  But after a while, things got technical.  While watching horses walk to the paddock before the Curlin Stakes on Friday, my Aunt noticed that one of the horses was dragging his left hind foot.  A nice pick up.  The horse went on to finish second to last.  On Saturday, my uncle noticed that Kauai Katie was limping after the race.  We later found out that she had lost a shoe in the race which explained what he saw.  These newcomers were picking up the game and noticing things that I hadn’t been able to pick up!  Overall, everyone had a great time but there are certain stereotypes that horse racing will probably never get over.  The idea that the races are fixed and the overall perception that big time horse racing fans (like us) are a little crazy, were thoughts that I could see running through their minds.  Those are old perceptions that I don’t think horse racing will ever live past.

Something new I experienced this ‘Toga trip was the atmosphere of downtown Saratoga Springs.  I’ve been there on a quiet winter afternoon, but never at night during the summer time.  The town is vibrant!  Old school retail stores and what seems like millions of small restaurants and bars line the streets.  When you take exit 14 off Interstate 87 you really are stepping back in time.  After checking with some of the finer dinning areas (soonest table was 9:45!) we settled into Dango’s Sports Bar and Grill.  It wasn’t the classiest joint you’ve ever seen but the food was fantastic.  After a Grilled Cheese Cheeseburger…yes a Grilled Cheese Cheeseburger, it was off to the bar scene.  The name of the bar slips my mind but they let us drink on the roof so… automatically it became the most legendary bar of all-time.  The drinks were great, the view was spectacular and the memories were plenty!

“The name of the bar slips my mind but they let us drink on the roof so…automatically it became the most legendary bar of all-time”

Palace Malice

Palace Malice

After a flying Friday night, it was time to get down to business Saturday.  The card contained three graded stakes, including a spectacular field for the Jim Dandy Stakes.  I had a pretty miserable Friday betting wise but did feel good about a couple of horses on Saturday’s card.  The day started out very average until Favor Factor was able to win the seventh race.  After a couple of unsuccessful show parlay attempts it was Jim Dandy time.  At this point I was down $55 dollars for the trip.  Anyone that follows my picks knows how high I was on Palace Malice so the bet was easily decided….$50 to win on #5 Palace Malice.  The race unfolded much like I had anticipated.  Palace Malice stalked the early pace and struck to the lead turning for home.  What happened next though…I never could have imagined.

As Palace Malice struck the lead I jumped to my feet yelling for Mike Smith, or “Mikey”  as I was calling him, to ride him home.  Then out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of a late charging horse.  As I looked back I saw him…the large white blaze, and the long chestnut strides…I didn’t need to look at the saddle number, I knew that horse from anywhere!  Will Take Charge, one of the Dudes’ local hero’s, was making a move.  I grabbed the Dudettes arm and yelled, “WILL IS RUNNING HUGE!”  Suddenly, my $50 meant nothing.  Will had a chance and I was screaming him home.  The race reminded me why I love the sport.  For me, gambling is just something I like to do to make money but the horses are really why I’m there.  Will Take Charge is “my” horse.  I’ve watched him from the sales rings at Keeneland, to his maiden race at Saratoga, to his Stakes wins at Oaklawn and so on.  I’ve watched him grow every step of the way.  My bond with Will, and many other horses, is what makes horse racing special so special for me.  Money is just money, but the bond with the horses is what really drives me to the track.  I guess in the end the race worked out okay.  Palace Malice won the race, making my betting experience a winning one for the weekend, and Will Take Charge finally showed his real talents once again as he finished a close second.  Both will move on to the Travers and both are horses I’m very excited about!

Palace Malice holds off Will Take Charge

Palace Malice holds off Will Take Charge

So if you ever need a good reminding of why this is the greatest sport in the world, perhaps a trip to the Spa is what you need.  Sometimes stuck behind my computer screen in Missouri, hundreds of miles from a race track, I lose that spirit that was recaptured last weekend.  It’s nice to get out with the horses and the people, as well as meeting new friends (thanks Zenyatta John).  Horse racing is entertainment for some, a way to make money for others, but for me it’s a love for the animals themselves.  Some people will read this blog and roll their eyes but I know there are many that feel the way I do.  The bond of a human and an animal is indescribable and runs rampant in our sport.  As for the Saratoga Race Course, I’ll see you next year old friend!  Enjoy the remaining days of this historic meet.

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Racing Dudes Divisional Rankings

Verrazano Made a Huge Statement in the Haskell

Verrazano Made a Huge Statement in the Haskell

Older Males

1. Wise Dan – All reports say that his last workout was unreal.  The champ looks ready for his day at the Spa!

2. Game on Dude – Dominant in the Hollywood Gold Cup, rematch with Dullahan in the Pacific Classic should be next.

3. Fort Larned – Performance of the year in the Stephen Foster.  Returns this week in the Whitney.

4. Graydar – He has rejoined Pletcher’s Stable at Saratoga, will be looking for a big fall campaign.

5. Sahara Sky – Tremendous job running down Cross Traffic in the Met Mile.

Sleeper: Paynter – Even in defeat he ran well.  I’d like to see him on the dirt next time out.

Older Females

1. Royal Delta – The champion is back!  It wasn’t the best field you’ll ever see, but Royal Delta looks to have regained her form.

2. Tiz Miz Sue – Will have to wait a few more weeks to see if she’ll continue her solid 2013 form.

3. Authenticity – Proved best in the Shuvee…match up with the top two possible in the Personal Ensign.

4. Joyful Victory – Her stakes win at Monmouth proves she’s ready for a big second half.

5. On Fire Baby – Has come back for her 4-year-old campaign much improved; could be setting up for a big time year.

Sleeper: My Miss Aurelia – Don’t forget about her…she’s back in training and when she’s right she is tough to handle.

3 Year Old Males

1. Palace Malice – I’ll give him the number one spot right now, but the Travers will most likely determine things.

2. Verrazano – The Haskell win was the WOW performance of the year!  Now can he stretch it to 10 furlongs in the Travers Stakes?

3. Orb – I rewarded the two top horses because they ran this weekend, but a Travers win will easily vault him back to number one.

4. Oxbow – It’s a shame about the minor injury in the Haskell, but hopefully he’ll be back and 100% soon.

5. Will Take Charge – Consistency is the problem, but when he’s at his best he can beat almost anyone.

Sleeper: Power Broker – A really nice second keeps him in the sleeper roll, but he’s probably a cut below the best.

3 Year Old Females

1. Princess or Sylmar – WOW!  An eye popping performance in the Coaching Club American Oaks.

2. Beholder – Looked like the winner until deep in the stretch of the Oaks; showed her class off once again.

3.  Midnight Lucky – She needed the distance cutback, and fired a HUGE race in the Acorn.  Prioress will be the next test this Saturday.

4. Fiftyshadesofhay – Made it two in a row with a nice win in the Iowa Oaks.

5. Close Hatches – Easily defeated the now overrated Dreaming of Julia in the Mother Goose.

Sleeper: Unlimited Budget – Still have to mention her, but she needs to rebound from a poor effort in the CCA Oaks.

Sprinters

1. Fast Bullet – Finally got to see him do his thing on the big stage.  Exceptional race in the True North.

2. Groupie Doll – This fast lady is back on the workout tab.  Gearing up for a summer/fall campaign.

3. Delaunay – Not ready to give up on him yet, but was beaten fair and square in Iowa

4. Gentleman’s Bet – Up and comer in the division looked awfully good in the Iowa Sprint

5. Justin Phillip – Old timer still running huge races.  Thought his True North was exceptional, just overshadowed by stable mate.

Sleeper: Sage Valley – Up and comer could shoot up the rankings with another victory.

TwinSpires Million Road to Derby Showdown

Saratoga Report #2

Palace Malice Takes the Jim Dandy

Palace Malice Takes the Jim Dandy

Three Stars of the Week

– 1st Star: Palace Malice (KY) – The Belmont took nothing out of this horse, as Palace Malice ran his career best race in winning the Jim Dandy Saturday afternoon.  The final time was the 2nd fastest in Jim Dandy history, and puts him in a position to become the top ranked three-year old in the country next to his stable mate Verrazano.  Much like his father Curlin, Palace Malice looks to be developing to maximum potential late in his three-year old year.  He’ll move on to the Travers next, where he should be tough to handle once again.  Because the caliber of this years Travers Stakes is so strong, a win in that race will be critical to the three-year old horse of the year award.

– 2nd Star: Laughing (IRE) – Laughing all the way to the bank!!  Those that backed her in the Diana Stakes had to be smiling from ear to ear as Laughing set the softest of fractions, and was able to just barely hold off Dream Peace to win by a head at the end.  This was Laughing’s first Grade 1 victory to go along with a pair of Grade 3 victories as well.  It also gives her back to back victories, and suggests that she can be competitive in more races of this caliber in the future which is something I was unsure of going into the race.

– 3rd Star: Lighthouse Bay (KY) – When Kauai Katie and So Many Ways started to falter at the top of the stretch, you knew a big price was coming in, you just didn’t know who it was going to be.  Lighthouse Bay had shown a sign of improvement in winning an ungraded stakes at Parx last time out, but obviously this was a huge improvement on Saturday.  The win will most likely propel her into the Test Stakes on Travers day.

Flop of the Week

Kauai Katie (KY) – This could be one of the biggest puzzlers of the whole season so far.  Kauai Katie looked unbeatable at six furlongs, but was DEAD LAST in the Prioress Stakes this Saturday.  She never looked comfortable from the start of things, and struggled to keep with a pace that is usually moderate for her.  She did lose a shoe in the race, so maybe that gives us some sort of explanation.  As of now she has to be listed as a horse that has started to decline a bit.

Trainer Standings

Rank Trainer Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Todd A. Pletcher 31 12 2 5 $1,273,507 39% 19 61%
2 William I. Mott 23 5 4 2 $349,115 22% 11 48%
3 Chad C. Brown 25 4 4 6 $520,719 16% 14 56%
3 George Weaver 10 4 1 1 $350,823 40% 6 60%
3 Steven M. Asmussen 18 4 5 1 $313,852 22% 10 56%
3 David Jacobson 19 4 0 4 $153,194 21% 8 42%
7 Michael J. Maker 22 3 2 5 $227,524 14% 10 45%
7 Albert M. Stall, Jr. 6 3 1 1 $185,084 50% 5 83%
7 Wesley A. Ward 14 3 2 2 $171,225 21% 7 50%
7 Michael E. Hushion 7 3 0 0 $138,466 43% 3 43%
7 Dominic G. Galluscio 8 3 0 0 $90,639 38% 3 38%
12 Thomas Albertrani 19 2 4 1 $216,456 11% 7 37%
12 Kiaran P. McLaughlin 18 2 3 1 $181,286 11% 6 33%
12 Christophe Clement 16 2 2 5 $172,010 13% 9 56%
12 Rudy R. Rodriguez 22 2 4 4 $167,025 9% 10 45%
12 Claude R. McGaughey III 8 2 0 3 $155,000 25% 5 63%
12 Jason Servis 9 2 1 0 $116,783 22% 3 33%
12 Mitchell E. Friedman 7 2 0 1 $97,675 29% 3 43%
12 John P. Terranova, II 5 2 0 1 $75,693 40% 3 60%
12 Carlos F. Martin 6 2 0 2 $74,000 33% 4 67%

Jockey Standings

Rank Jockey Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Joel Rosario 85 16 16 13 $1,438,467 19% 45 53%
2 Javier Castellano 81 13 13 13 $1,144,610 16% 39 48%
3 John R. Velazquez 59 9 7 9 $834,820 15% 25 42%
4 Jose Lezcano 62 6 4 9 $795,003 10% 19 31%
4 Cornelio H. Velasquez 47 6 3 6 $377,523 13% 15 32%
6 Rosie Napravnik 57 5 10 7 $472,568 9% 22 39%
6 Luis Saez 61 5 6 5 $422,880 8% 16 26%
8 Junior Alvarado 36 4 2 3 $380,535 11% 9 25%
8 Jose L. Ortiz 47 4 5 3 $349,771 9% 12 26%
8 Joseph Rocco, Jr. 32 4 0 0 $328,568 13% 4 13%
8 Rajiv Maragh 49 4 4 8 $285,660 8% 16 33%
8 Alex O. Solis 21 4 2 1 $250,027 19% 7 33%
8 Jose L. Espinoza 27 4 1 3 $172,560 15% 8 30%
14 Mike E. Smith 5 3 0 1 $462,800 60% 4 80%
14 Irad Ortiz, Jr. 57 3 8 6 $323,811 5% 17 30%
16 Robby Albarado 27 2 4 3 $236,855 7% 9 33%
16 Edgar S. Prado 22 2 6 3 $198,547 9% 11 50%
16 Paco Lopez 7 2 0 1 $95,130 29% 3 43%

Preview to Next Week

– Wednesday – The John’s Call – Three Year Olds and Upward – 1 5/8 (Turf) – Purse: $100,000

– Thursday – The John Morrissey Stakes – New York Breds, Three Year Olds and Upward – 6 1/2 Furlongs – Purse: $100,000

– Thursday – A. P. Smithwick Memorial – Four Year Olds and Upward – 2 1/16 Miles (Steeplechase) – Purse: $100,000

– Friday – The Sportech Caress Stakes – FIlly and Mares 3 Year Olds and Upward – 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) – Purse: $100,000

– Saturday – The De La Rose Stakes – Filly and Mares 3 Year Olds and Upward – One Mile (Turf) – Purse: $100,000

– Saturday – The Whitney Handicap (Grade 1) – 3 Year Olds and Upward – 1 1/8 Miles – Purse: $750,000

– Sunday – The Vanderbilt Handicap (Grade 1) – 3 Year Olds and Upward – 6 Furlongs – Purse: $400,000

– Monday – The Waya Stakes – Filly and Mares 3 Year Olds and Upward – 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) – Purse: $100,000

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Del Mar Report #2

Richard's Kid

Richard’s Kid Finally Got Back into the Winner’s Circle this Week

 

Three Stars of the Week

– 1st Star: Points Offthebench (CA) – It’s not often you see a horse go from an Allowance race to a Grade 1 Stakes victory, but Points Offthebench did just that when taking the Bing Crosby Stakes Sunday afternoon.  What could be even more impressive is the fact he beat Goldencents, who was cutting back in distance and was said to be training perfectly leading up to this race.  The win earned him a spot in this year’s Breeders Cup Turf Sprint, although he’s never actually ran on the turf.  Perhaps he’ll point for a race now that could also spring-board him into the Breeders Cup Sprint on the dirt.  Either way, the options are wide open for this rapidly improving California bred.

– 2nd Star: Kettle Corn (KY) – His win was not a popular one, but it was very impressive.  Kettle Corn faced off against arguably the most popular horse in American, Paynter, and was able to defeat him by a half-length while almost setting Del Mar track record in the San Diego Handicap.  The win was long over due for Kettle Corn, as he had been running very well as of late.  Game On Dude still looms large in this division out in California, but Kettle Corn could take another shot at him in the Pacific Classic on August 25th if his connections desire to do so.  Judging by his recent form and Game On Dude’s somewhat struggles at Del Mar, it might be the perfect time to give it a shot.

– 3rd Star: Richard’s Kid (MD) – It had been ten races and almost a year since Richard’s Kid had won, but on Friday night he won the Cougar II Handicap for the second year in a row.  There is no doubt he had been knocking heads with the very best in the division, but when you go that long without a win you know it has to be a relief for all of his connections.  What to do next with this horse could be challenging…will they take another shot at the Pacific Classic, or will they look for an easier spot to give him a better chance at winning.  No matter what, the 8-year-old horse still has plenty left in the tank.

Flop of the Week

Comma to the Top (FL) – This is probably one of the more honest horses you’ll ever see, but I guess he deserves a “free pass” after a solid string of races.  The Bing Crosby just wasn’t his race as he pressed an early pace and faded badly to fifth.  He’s probably earned a little time off, but at his best we know he can compete with anyone on the California circuit.

Trainer Standings

Rank Trainer Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 John W. Sadler 48 10 6 7 $734,144 21% 23 48%
1 Bob Baffert 34 10 7 2 $680,630 29% 19 56%
3 Peter Miller 30 7 3 2 $324,580 23% 12 40%
4 Jerry Hollendorfer 21 4 2 4 $247,040 19% 10 48%
4 Mike R. Mitchell 19 4 4 3 $176,000 21% 11 58%
6 Thomas F. Proctor 12 3 2 2 $230,790 25% 7 58%
6 Tim Yakteen 7 3 0 1 $225,846 43% 4 57%
6 Richard E. Mandella 9 3 0 1 $158,080 33% 4 44%
6 Cody Autrey 13 3 3 0 $112,680 23% 6 46%
6 Vann Belvoir 11 3 0 2 $61,260 27% 5 45%
11 Michael Pender 6 2 0 1 $255,010 33% 3 50%
11 Doug F. O’Neill 41 2 6 5 $248,740 5% 13 32%
11 Jeff Mullins 14 2 5 1 $206,494 14% 8 57%
11 Victor L. Garcia 7 2 2 0 $109,032 29% 4 57%
11 Dan L. Hendricks 9 2 0 2 $103,906 22% 4 44%
11 Howard L. Zucker 3 2 0 0 $76,620 67% 2 67%
11 Adam Kitchingman 4 2 0 0 $46,100 50% 2 50%

Jockey Standings

Rank Jockey Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Rafael Bejarano 74 16 15 10 $1,009,590 22% 41 55%
2 Julien R. Leparoux 43 11 5 6 $618,458 26% 22 51%
3 Martin Garcia 47 10 7 2 $585,020 21% 19 40%
4 Gary L. Stevens 19 8 3 0 $481,554 42% 11 58%
4 Edwin A. Maldonado 63 8 4 5 $399,780 13% 17 27%
6 Joseph Talamo 74 7 11 9 $573,200 9% 27 36%
7 Victor Espinoza 43 6 10 5 $559,452 14% 21 49%
8 Mario Gutierrez 40 5 5 5 $272,770 13% 15 38%
9 Joel Rosario 9 4 1 0 $160,674 44% 5 56%
10 Corey S. Nakatani 32 3 4 6 $299,440 9% 13 41%
11 Irving Orozco 36 2 3 7 $160,582 6% 12 33%
11 Agapito Delgadillo 24 2 2 5 $143,180 8% 9 38%
11 Martin A. Pedroza 37 2 1 8 $120,202 5% 11 30%
14 Mike E. Smith 15 1 2 1 $254,808 7% 4 27%
14 Kevin Krigger 22 1 1 1 $117,170 5% 3 14%
14 Alex Bisono 12 1 0 2 $37,510 8% 3 25%
14 Kayla Stra 10 1 0 0 $29,490 10% 1 10%
14 Saul Arias 9 1 0 0 $19,310 11% 1 11%

Preview to Next Week

– Wednesday – The Graduation Stakes – Two Year old California Breds – Five and One Half Furlongs – Purse: $100,000

– Friday – The Real Good Deal Stakes – Three Year Old California Breds – Seven Furlongs – Purse: $200,000

– Saturday – The Clement L Hirsch Stakes (Grade 1) – Fillies and Mares 3-year-old and upward – 1 1/16 Miles – Purse: $300,000

– Sunday – The Best Pal Stakes (Grade 2) – Two Year Olds – 6 1/2 Furlongs – Purse: $150,000

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36th Louisville Derby Runs at SIMHorseRacing.com

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TwinSpires Million Road to Derby Showdown

Blinkers Off 033: Jim Dandy and Haskell Previews Podcast Released

Blinkers Off Logo2Blinkers Off has released a new episode!

Blinkers Off provides weekly insights into the world of horse racing including race selections and previews, handicapping methods and exclusive stories.

You can view all episodes of Blinkers Off by visiting our podcast page or Blinkers Off | Blog Talk Radio Feed.

Episode

Blinkers Off 033: Jim Dandy and Haskell Previews – July 26, 2013

The Thoroughbred Racing Dudes preview the Jim Dandy and Haskell Invitational Stakes races and breakdown the remaining notable stakes races for the weekend.

TwinSpires Million Road to Derby Showdown

Jim Dandy Stakes (Grade 2) Preview

Palace Malice Looks for a Big Second Half of the Season

Palace Malice Looks for a Big Second Half of the Season

Likely Winners

#5 Palace Malice (KY) – He’s the obvious choice in this spot considering his Belmont victory, and his massive workouts.  Todd Pletcher is not usually one to over exaggerate a horses talents, so his high praise for Palace Malice means a lot.  The son of Curlin looks to be coming on at the right time just like his daddy did.  The Belmont bounce is the only question mark.

#8 Mylute (KY) – Always the bridesmaid, never the bride!  Mylute has run three straight solid races in a row, but has had to settle for minor awards in each of them.  This spot isn’t any easier than what he’s faced this year, but he should be coming into this one rested and ready to go.  Logical second choice.

Exotic Plays

#3 Will Take Charge (KY) – America’s most inconsistent horse is back!  Will Take Charge was super in winning the Rebel Stakes in March over Preakness winner Oxbow, and as we all know he was getting ready to run a big Kentucky Derby until he had major traffic issues.  His Preakness and Belmont races were disappointing, but perhaps the freshening is what this horse needs.  Lukas knows he can have him ready to fire off a layoff, so he could be dangerous here.

#2 Code West (VA) – We’ve been high on this horse since February, and as of late he’s been running solid races.  His grind it out style suits this distance, and his ability to be towards the front will suit the Saratoga surface well.  Definitely one to play underneath, but not one that has a great chance of winning.

#4 Moreno (KY) – Huge blowout winner of the Dwyer Stakes is back looking for more, and with a repeat performance he’ll have a big chance.  Another one that is a worth playing underneath, but can he put back to back big races in a row together?  Playing the wait and see game with him.

#7 Freedom Child (KY) – This horse went into the Belmont with a ton of hype, but he was basically ran into the ground by Oxbow and was done before they even entered the turn.  The distance cut back is going to be a big help for him here, and the paces should be a little more to his liking.  If he can bounce out of that Belmont race with a little steam left, he could be one to pull an upset.

Party Crashers

#9 Looking Cool (KY) – Quietly, this horse is improving and flying under the radar.  His connections know exactly what they are doing, and his win last time out in the Iowa Derby was easily his best race yet.  This is going to be a class test for him, but I wouldn’t be totally surprised if he shows up and runs a nice race.

Throw Outs

#1 Bashaar (KY) – He may have been the best in his last two races, and there is no question the added distance is what he needs. However this will be a big class test for him, and the excuses are getting old.  Nice horse with some ability, but can’t support today.

#6 Perfect Title (KY) – The horse is progressing nicely, but this looks to be too steep of a class test for him at this time.

#10 Vyjack (KY) – Just looks like this horse needs a distance cutback which they have not allowed him to do.  Not sure there is much left in the tank.

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Racing Dudes Divisional Rankings

Oxbow Runs in the Haskell this Sunday

Oxbow Runs in the Haskell this Sunday

Older Males

1. Wise Dan – Saratoga looms large for Wise Dan, where he’ll have to keep winning to remain in this top spot.

2. Game on Dude – Dominant in the Hollywood Gold Cup, rematch with Dullahan in the Pacific Classic should be next.

3. Fort Larned – Performance of the year in the Stephen Foster.  Will be impossible to beat with that kind of form.

4. Graydar – He has rejoined Pletcher’s Stable at Saratoga, will be looking for a big fall campaign.

5. Sahara Sky – Tremendous job running down Cross Traffic in the Met Mile.

Sleeper: Paynter – HUGE comeback race off near death, Cinderella story in the making!

Older Females

1. Royal Delta – The champion is back!  It wasn’t the best field you’ll ever see, but Royal Delta looks to have regained her form.

2. Tiz Miz Sue – Will have to wait a few more weeks to see if she’ll continue her solid 2013 form.

3. Authenticity – Proved best in the Shuvee…match up with the top two possible in the Personal Ensign.

4. Ciao Bella – We’ll need to see a workout soon or she will be dropped from the list.

5. On Fire Baby – Has come back for her 4-year-old campaign much improved; could be setting up for a big time year.

Sleeper: My Miss Aurelia – Don’t forget about her…she’s back in training and when she’s right she is tough to handle.

3 Year Old Males

1. Oxbow – Triple Crown season champion, now must win round two in the Haskell/Travers double.

2. Orb – We overrated him, but we also shouldn’t count him out.  He’s being pointed to the Travers

3. Palace Malice – Could he be a late bloomer much like his father Curlin. Pointed to the Jim Dandy, and then the Travers

4. Verrazano – He’s back in big way!  Now can he take on Oxbow and others in the Haskell.

5. Mylute – Consistency is key!  He’ll get another shot at victory in the Jim Dandy.

Sleeper: Power Broker – Has had two impressive wins in a row, now gets his shot at the best in the Haskell.

3 Year Old Females

1. Princess or Sylmar – WOW!  An eye popping performance in the Coaching Club American Oaks.

2. Beholder – Looked like the winner until deep in the stretch of the Oaks; showed her class off once again.

3.  Midnight Lucky – She needed the distance cutback, and fired a HUGE race in the Acorn.  Prioress will be the next test this Saturday.

4. Fiftyshadesofhay – Made it two in a row with a nice win in the Iowa Oaks.

5. Close Hatches – Easily defeated the now overrated Dreaming of Julia in the Mother Goose.

Sleeper: Unlimited Budget – Still have to mention her, but she needs to rebound from a poor effort in the CCA Oaks.

Sprinters

1. Fast Bullet – Finally got to see him do his thing on the big stage.  Exceptional race in the True North.

2. Groupie Doll – This fast lady is back on the workout tab.  Gearing up for a summer/fall campaign.

3. Delaunay – Not ready to give up on him yet, but was beaten fair and square in Iowa

4. Gentleman’s Bet – Up and comer in the division looked awfully good in the Iowa Sprint

5. Justin Phillip – Old timer still running huge races.  Thought his True North was exceptional, just overshadowed by stable mate.

Sleeper: Sage Valley – Up and comer could shoot up the rankings with another victory.

TwinSpires Million Road to Derby Showdown

Saratoga Report #1

Princess of Symlar was a Massive Winner in the CCA Oaks

Princess of Sylmar was a Massive Winner in the CCA Oaks

Three Stars of the Week

– 1st Star: Princess of Sylmar (PA) – This was the performance of the weekend, no matter what track you are talking about.  The Kentucky Oaks winner finally returned to the track Saturday, and absolutely crushed her four rivals in the Coaching Club American Oaks.  The win makes her the obvious choice for best three-year old filly in the country, and also gets you wondering if she might just be the best three-year old period!  Many local pundits felt her stable mate Unlimited Budget was the one to beat in this race, but she disposed of her early on.  My Happy Face set the pace, but was also absolutely no match for Princess of Sylmar.  This race should propel her to the Grade 1 Alabama next time out where she’ll look to continue her dominance over the division.

– 2nd Star: Authenticity (KY) – While Princess of Sylmar made her presence felt in the three-year old filly division, Authenticity did the same in the older filly and mare division when she easily won the Shuvee Handicap on Saturday.  While she still has the monster that is Royal Delta ahead of her in the rankings, Authenticity has proven she’s more than a one hit wonder.  This year she’s gotten better with every race, and the win on Saturday makes her a two-time Graded stakes winner.  Her solid Saratoga form is great news as now a date with Royal Delta and Tiz Miz Sue looms large in the Personal Ensign a few weeks down the road.  A win in that race would elevate her to the top of her class, and it’s something that’s not totally out of the question for this rising superstar.

– 3rd Star: Sage Valley (KY) – Meet the horse that is starting to really become a fan favorite!  After being somewhat average the first four races of his career, Sage Valley has rattled off five wins in his last six starts, including two wins against Grade 3 company.  His latest victory in the James Marvin on Friday could have been his most impressive yet.  After sitting just off a fairly strong pace, Sage Valley had plenty left in the stretch and drew off to a convincing one length victory.  The win could springboard him into the Grade 1 Forego, which will be ran on closing weekend of the meet.

Flop of the Week

Unlimited Budget (FL) – The Coaching Club American Oaks was supposed to be hers for the taking, but it turned out to be a brutal day.  Right from the start there was trouble, as she struck the right side of the starting gate as the gates opened.  She did somewhat recover and was in a decent spot for part of the race, but she had no response down the stretch.  The result was a disastrous last place effort, and beaten fifteen lengths.  Perhaps the Belmont took its toll on her, or maybe it just wasn’t her day.  Time to regroup…

Trainer Standings

Rank Trainer Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Todd A. Pletcher 14 5 1 3 $507,698 36% 9 64%
2 Steven M. Asmussen 7 3 1 0 $192,486 43% 4 57%
3 Chad C. Brown 14 2 1 3 $193,797 14% 6 43%
3 William I. Mott 7 2 1 0 $119,024 29% 3 43%
3 David Jacobson 12 2 0 2 $90,250 17% 4 33%
3 Dominic G. Galluscio 6 2 0 0 $66,189 33% 2 33%
7 Michael Dilger 1 1 0 0 $220,000 100% 1 100%
7 Gary C. Contessa 16 1 2 2 $105,826 6% 5 31%
7 Christophe Clement 7 1 1 2 $91,910 14% 4 57%
7 H. Graham Motion 5 1 2 0 $91,020 20% 3 60%
7 Kiaran P. McLaughlin 7 1 2 0 $85,589 14% 3 43%
7 Rudy R. Rodriguez 7 1 1 1 $84,864 14% 3 43%
7 Bruce R. Brown 9 1 1 1 $79,017 11% 3 33%
7 Mark A. Hennig 4 1 1 1 $67,400 25% 3 75%
7 Nicholas P. Zito 5 1 0 2 $65,429 20% 3 60%
7 Jason Servis 5 1 1 0 $63,848 20% 2 40%
7 George Weaver 2 1 1 0 $62,400 50% 2 100%
7 W. Bret Calhoun 1 1 0 0 $60,000 100% 1 100%
7 David G. Donk 1 1 0 0 $60,000 100% 1 100%
7 Rodrigo A. Ubillo 1 1 0 0 $60,000 100% 1 100%
7 Michael J. Maker 12 1 1 3 $59,168 8% 5 42%
7 Mitchell E. Friedman 5 1 0 1 $58,450 20% 2 40%
7 Dale L. Romans 4 1 0 1 $58,264 25% 2 50%
7 Andrew Mitchell 3 1 0 0 $57,640 33% 1 33%
7 Kathleen M. Feron 2 1 1 0 $56,400 50% 2 100%
7 David P. Duggan 2 1 1 0 $53,800 50% 2 100%
7 John P. Terranova, II 2 1 0 0 $45,250 50% 1 50%
7 Ian R. Wilkes 2 1 0 0 $45,250 50% 1 50%
7 Michael E. Hushion 1 1 0 0 $43,200 100% 1 100%
7 Rodolfo Romero 1 1 0 0 $43,200 100% 1 100%
7 Randi Persaud 3 1 0 0 $24,435 33% 1 33%
7 Jack O. Fisher 2 1 0 0 $24,205 50% 1 50%

Jockey Standings

Rank Jockey Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Javier Castellano 32 5 5 7 $493,909 16% 17 53%
1 John R. Velazquez 33 5 4 6 $479,017 15% 15 45%
1 Joel Rosario 37 5 6 6 $448,190 14% 17 46%
4 Rosie Napravnik 29 3 5 2 $282,253 10% 10 34%
4 Cornelio H. Velasquez 23 3 1 3 $213,117 13% 7 30%
4 Rajiv Maragh 27 3 0 4 $168,790 11% 7 26%
7 Jose Lezcano 28 2 0 4 $172,432 7% 6 21%
7 Jose L. Ortiz 20 2 3 0 $139,194 10% 5 25%
7 Joseph Rocco, Jr. 15 2 0 0 $114,529 13% 2 13%
7 Alex O. Solis 11 2 1 0 $104,322 18% 3 27%
11 Shaun Bridgmohan 5 1 0 1 $232,070 20% 2 40%
11 Luis Saez 29 1 1 1 $124,965 3% 3 10%
11 Irad Ortiz, Jr. 17 1 3 1 $117,369 6% 5 29%
11 Robby Albarado 13 1 1 2 $110,047 8% 4 31%
11 Paco Lopez 3 1 0 1 $64,320 33% 2 67%
11 Corey J. Lanerie 2 1 0 0 $60,328 50% 1 50%
11 Alan Garcia 4 1 0 0 $56,015 25% 1 25%
11 Abel Lezcano 8 1 0 1 $51,492 13% 2 25%
11 Jose L. Espinoza 7 1 0 0 $46,456 14% 1 14%
11 David Cohen 9 1 1 0 $46,193 11% 2 22%

Preview to Next Week

– Wednesday – The Lake George (Grade 2) – Three Year Old Fillies – 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) – Purse: $200,000

– Thursday – The Quick Call Stakes – Three Year Olds – 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) – Purse: $100,000

– Friday – The Curling Stakes – Three Year Olds – 1 1/8 Miles – Purse: $100,000

– Saturday – The Jim Dandy (Grade 2) – Three Year Olds – 1 1/8 Miles – Purse: $600,000

– Saturday – The Diana Stakes (Grade 1) – Fillies and Mares Three Year Olds and Upward – 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) – Purse: $600,000

– Saturday – The Prioress Stakes (Grade 1) – Three Year Old Fillies – Six Furlongs – Purse: $300,000

– Sunday – The Amsterdam Stakes (Grade 2) – Three Year Olds – 6 1/2 Furlongs – Purse: $200,000

– Monday – Honorable Miss Handicap (Grade 2) – Fillies and Mares Three Year Olds and Upward – Six Furlongs – Purse: $200,000

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Del Mar Report #1

Jeranimo Won the Eddie Read Stakes on Saturday

Jeranimo Won the Eddie Read Stakes on Saturday

Three Stars of the Week

– 1st Star: Jeranimo (FL) – What a great way for a tough California horse to kick off the Del Mar meet.  Jeranimo was a huge last to first winner in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes on Saturday, which was his second Grade 1 victory, but first going farther than a mile.  At one point it almost looked like he had lost total contact with the field, but in what seemed like just a few strides he went from fifteen lengths behind to only three or four.  The Eddie Read wasn’t the greatest field you’ll ever see for a Grade 1, but credit should still be given to Jeranimo for getting the victory even though he did have fast fractions to close into as Slim Shadey and Fed Biz set a brutal pace.  The win was his first at Del Mar, and could set him up for another stakes towards closing weekend.

– 2nd Star: Reneesgotzip (KY) – The speedy superstar is back in a big way!  Thursday’s featured race, an allowance, played more like a Grade 1 or 2 field, and Reneesgotzip absolutely dominated.  She took the field wire to wire while setting solid fractions, and really never showed any signs of slowing down through the stretch.  The win immediately got the horse racing world talking about the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare sprint, and if this horse might be one that could give champion Groupie Doll a run for her money.  Whether she can do that or not remains to be seen, but it’s just really nice to have this ultra classy horse back on the track.  Obviously, we can expect a stakes race next time out for her.

– 3rd Star: Wishing Gate (FL) – The old pro Gary Stevens showed up again to win a Graded race, as he guided Wishing Gate to a perfect trip in winning the Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes on Sunday.  The win gave Wishing Gate her first stakes win, and also her second win at Del Mar.  Wishing Gate prepped for this race at Arlington Park, where she used similar tactics sitting off the pace and pouncing for an easy score.  She was helped in this one by a fairly hot pace, but she still had to do some serious running down the lane to catch the leader.  Del Mar offers some nice races on grass for three-year old fillies, so I would expect to see her one more time this meet.  Considering her stylish win and improving talents, this one could be a force at this distance and on this surface.

Flop of the Week

Den’s Legacy (FL) – He went off as the 2-1 favorite in the second division of the Oceanside Stakes, but in the end he was a well beaten sixth.  This was his first start on turf in seven months, but his earlier form on the grass showed that he would at least be competitive in this spot.  Den’s Legacy is starting to fall into the “what do we do with him?” category as he can’t seem to find his way to the winners circle this year.  Perhaps a return to the dirt is in the cards for him.

Trainer Standings

Rank Trainer Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Bob Baffert 18 6 2 1 $305,880 33% 9 50%
2 Peter Miller 19 5 1 2 $240,090 26% 8 42%
3 Cody Autrey 10 3 3 0 $111,930 30% 6 60%
4 John W. Sadler 23 2 4 4 $324,138 9% 10 43%
4 Michael Pender 2 2 0 0 $242,400 100% 2 100%
4 Thomas F. Proctor 7 2 0 1 $149,100 29% 3 43%
4 Mike R. Mitchell 10 2 2 3 $131,220 20% 7 70%
4 Jerry Hollendorfer 11 2 1 3 $99,860 18% 6 55%
4 Vann Belvoir 7 2 0 1 $43,000 29% 3 43%
10 Jeff Mullins 8 1 2 1 $107,310 13% 4 50%
10 Carla Gaines 2 1 1 0 $87,160 50% 2 100%
10 Edward R. Freeman 2 1 1 0 $76,000 50% 2 100%
10 Doug F. O’Neill 19 1 3 1 $71,260 5% 5 26%
10 Mike Harrington 5 1 1 0 $64,030 20% 2 40%
10 Philip J. Oliver 2 1 0 0 $57,790 50% 1 50%
10 J. Eric Kruljac 9 1 1 2 $55,590 11% 4 44%
10 Mark Glatt 5 1 0 1 $53,910 20% 2 40%
10 Leonard Powell 2 1 0 0 $46,450 50% 1 50%
10 Blake R. Heap 1 1 0 0 $45,000 100% 1 100%
10 Robert B. Hess, Jr. 4 1 2 0 $43,450 25% 3 75%
10 Victor L. Garcia 2 1 0 0 $38,410 50% 1 50%
10 Walther Solis 6 1 1 0 $35,030 17% 2 33%
10 Donald Warren 3 1 0 0 $31,460 33% 1 33%
10 Howard L. Zucker 2 1 0 0 $30,420 50% 1 50%
10 Tim Yakteen 3 1 0 1 $30,346 33% 2 67%
10 Frank Lucarelli 1 1 0 0 $22,800 100% 1 100%
10 Alfredo Marquez 2 1 0 0 $15,250 50% 1 50%

Jockey Standings

Rank Jockey Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Total $ Win% Top3 Top3%
1 Rafael Bejarano 41 12 8 6 $667,310 29% 26 63%
2 Martin Garcia 25 6 1 1 $285,240 24% 8 32%
3 Joseph Talamo 40 4 5 2 $282,818 10% 11 28%
3 Gary L. Stevens 12 4 1 0 $256,524 33% 5 42%
3 Joel Rosario 9 4 1 0 $160,674 44% 5 56%
6 Julien R. Leparoux 23 3 3 6 $269,920 13% 12 52%
7 Edwin A. Maldonado 35 2 4 4 $205,268 6% 10 29%
7 Corey S. Nakatani 14 2 2 3 $149,060 14% 7 50%
7 Mario Gutierrez 18 2 4 1 $144,670 11% 7 39%
7 Martin A. Pedroza 19 2 0 3 $53,370 11% 5 26%
11 Victor Espinoza 20 1 6 2 $248,400 5% 9 45%
11 Irving Orozco 18 1 3 4 $93,192 6% 8 44%
11 Agapito Delgadillo 13 1 0 4 $72,510 8% 5 38%
11 Kayla Stra 8 1 0 0 $28,990 13% 1 13%

Preview to Next Week

– Wednesday – The Wickerr Stakes – Three Year Olds and Upward – 1 Mile (Turf) – Purse: $90,000

– Friday – The Cougar II Handicap (Grade 3) – Three Year Olds and Upward – 1 1/2 Miles – $100,000

– Saturday – The Fleet Treat Stakes – Three Year Old State Bred Fillies – Seven Furlongs – $200,000

– Saturday – The San Diego Handicap (Grade 2) – Three Year Olds and Upward – 1 1/16 Miles – $200,000

– Sunday – The Bing Crosby Stakes (Grade 1) – Three Year Olds and Upward – Six Furlongs – $300,000

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