08/18/2013 9:59AM

Saturday Notes


· Like Richard Dreyfuss in “Let It Ride,” Ken and Sarah Ramsey, and Kitten’s Joy, had a VERY good day on Saturday, landing half of the nation’s six Grade 1 races. Around the track, a common reaction to someone having this kind of day is envy. You can’t turn around at the track without bumping into someone who can’t stand to see other people win. It’s not the most attractive side of our game, but it’s there, and people who have been around for more than two minutes know exactly what I’m talking about.

Anyway, folks on this side of the fence – horseplayers and fans – shouldn’t be green over the day the Ramseys had Saturday. Ken Ramsey is, like us, a horseplayer, and he bets with both fists. A guy like Ramsey who bets his own money enthusiastically, and does it with a smile, is someone you can root for.

· The disqualification of The Apache in the Arlington Million that gave Ramsey’s Real Solution the victory was absolutely the correct call. As I watched the head on shot while the stewards adjudicated the claim of foul, I thought to myself, “if this was a maiden claimer, there wouldn’t be any question that The Apache would come down.” Real Solution was blowing by The Apache until his momentum was stopped when The Apache drifted out and brushed him. If The Apache doesn’t stop Real Solution’s momentum, he doesn’t hold on. But I wondered if they would take a horse down for this in a million dollar Grade 1. Of course, that’s wrongheaded thinking borne of years of bad calls by stewards. A foul is a foul regardless of the class of the race, and the Arlington Million rightly turned on an obvious foul.

My only question is, why wasn’t there a stewards’ inquiry before the foul claim?

· That said, I’m not exactly sure how Real Solution came up with that performance. His third in the Manhattan in his last start was only okay, not great, and he seemed to be to be a horse who needed way more cut in the ground than he got on Saturday’s firm footing.

· Dank was easily the most impressive performer on the Arlington Million card. Her overwhelming victory in the Beverly D. made our best grass mare, Marketing Mix, look bad. Dank is obviously much improved this year at 4, and her emergence has also coincided with the opportunity she was given to compete at distances beyond a mile. But there are better than her over in Europe, which is a frightening prospect for the home team when it comes to the fall’s big female grass races.

· Princess of Sylmar was very good again winning the Alabama at Saratoga. But I do have to echo what others have said. With the way Princess of Sylmar took over late on the far turn, I thought she would draw off to win by a lot more than the 2 ½ lengths she did score by. Credit should also go to runner up Fiftyshadesofhay for fighting on gamely despite having license to chuck it after being overwhelmed by the winner a quarter of a mile out.

It does seem very likely that the Alabama clinched a divisional title for Princess of Sylmar. In any year, a Kentucky Oaks, CCA Oaks, and Alabama triple would be hard to top. And Princess of Sylmar’s path to an Eclipse Award is even less obstructed with Midnight Lucky and Dreaming of Julia through for the year, and Close Hatches still missing in action. It would appear Beholder might be the only one standing in the way of Princess of Sylmar and a championship, and she was beaten by Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks. The wild card is what happens in the Breeders’ Cup. Princess of Sylmar is not Breeders’ Cup nominated, and it appears there are no plans to supplement her even though she has earned almost $1.3 million this year. I do see the thinking in not supplementing her. Princess of Sylmar is a closer, and her style probably won’t play well at Santa Anita.

· That wasn’t a true Grade 1 field in the Saratoga’s other big race Saturday, the Sword Dancer. But Big Blue Kitten was much the best in victory, and since being given the chance to go extended distances, he has developed into a Grade 1-type horse.

· What a profound impact the switch to rating tactics by Discreet Marq had on the Del Mar Oaks. Beyond the fact that she won with this heretofore unseen approach, her strategy made for a much slower than anticipated pace, which had to compromise the two main stretch runners, Wishing Gate and Kitten’s Dumplings. Those two ran well under the circumstances, finishing second and fourth, respectively.