10/07/2012 12:31PM

Impressions From Another Super Saturday

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So much happened on Saturday that the best way to address even some of it is by track. So here goes:

KEENELAND

Wise Dan was just in a class by himself in the Shadwell Turf Mile. And it was refreshing to see a jockey, in this case Jose Lezcano, ride a horse who was much the best on paper as if he was much the best, keeping Wise Dan wide and out of trouble, and moving to break the race open a little early by turf race standards. It was also interesting reading trainer Charles Lopresti’s quotes right after the Shadwell Turf Mile, specifically concerning Wise Dan’s status for the Breeders’ Cup Mile versus the Classic on dirt. Lopresti made it clear he was completely aware of the loose nature of the Santa Anita main track to this point in the meet, he noted that the track leaned toward loose in Wise Dan’s only loss this year, a head defeat in the Stephen Foster, and reflected how when Wise Dan wasn’t training great on the main track at Saratoga, he called an audible and switched his charge to turf. This gives great confidence that whichever Breeders’ Cup race Lopresti chooses for Wise Dan (the Mile has to be the heavy favorite), it will absolutely be the right one for the horse.

Groupie Doll was sensational – again – in the TCA Stakes, and given the less-than-intimidating nature of the male sprint division, I would love to see her take on males in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. I know it won’t happen, and that makes me miss the days when top female sprinters met male sprinters in the Breeders’ Cup all the more. But the expansion of Breeders’ Cup races (in this case, the creation of the Filly and Mare Sprint), the advent of the female sprint Eclipse Award, and the fact that the purse of the Sprint is only $500,000 larger than it’s female counterpart means there is zero incentive for female sprinters to tackle male sprinters at the Cup. That’s the sport’s loss, in my view.

There were so many trips in the Breeders’ Futurity that it would take a month to decipher and relate them. With that in mind, the winner, Joha, was in a favorable spot on the early lead and away from the mess. I know it’s a touchy subject politically, but the Breeders’ Futurity and the Alcibiades just don’t strike me as being legitimate Grade 1 races anymore. They have become races more for lesser turf horses than top 2-year-old prospects, which was probably an inevitable byproduct when Keeneland switched to Polytrack.

BELMONT

Executiveprivilege had her big scare in the Del Mar Debutante, when she just barely got up. Dreaming of Julia had her scare in the Frizette, engaging in a race-long battle with My Happy Face and barely edging that tenacious opponent at a nickel over 1-10. I felt after the Del Mar Debutante that Executiveprivilege would be better for that tough effort and would move forward, and she did. I feel similarly about Dreaming of Julia. The one reservation I have is, in recent days, the rail wasn’t the place to be on the Belmont main track, and My Happy Face was pinned down on it by Dreaming of Julia all the way around the far turn and through the stretch.

Having now won all four of his starts, including the Champagne to go along with his score last month in the Hopeful, Shanghai Bobby has the resume of a superstar 2-year-old, if not the wide recognition of being one. What was most stunning about Shanghai Bobby’s five length victory in the Champagne was his jockey, Rosie Napravnik, apparently thought the race was over before even reaching the half mile pole. That was when she started looking around for competition, knowing she had pacesetter Goldencents totally measured.

Ramon Dominguez isn’t going to put his ride on Summer Front in the Jamaica on his career highlight reel. Suffice to say Summer Front would have won with any kind of clear path in the stretch.

SANTA ANITA

I’m not going to get down on Amazombie for his disappointing fourth in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Everyone knows he is way better than that. He has rebounded before, and he will again. And I was impressed with Capital Account’s flying finish in this race that fell just short. How could you not be? But I think Coil was better in victory in the SA Sprint Championship than his win margin of a head would suggest. I think Coil has a habit of idling when he strikes the front in the stretch, and have since his win last year in the Haskell. Coil rallied in the stretch of that Haskell as though he was going to win decisively, but I swear he switched gears once he struck the front that day and did only what he had to do to stay a neck in front of Shackleford.

I think Obviously’s victory in the Arroyo Seco Mile was also better than it might look just on paper. Yes, Japanese invader Trailblazer put on an impressive late charge, but Obviously’s half-length win margin was well-measured.

HOOSIER

I liked, and bet, Neck ‘n Neck in the Travers, and he never really ran a jump. So it figures that he bounced back without me in the Indiana Derby at a juicy $11.20. I would like to make an excuse for Fed Biz, who I am a fan of, but I can’t. The pace he contested was slower than the pace Grace Hall contested before she ran away with the Indiana Oaks in the race before, and yet he faded to third. Fed Biz just wasn’t good enough.