07/07/2012 3:06PM

Second Half Starts With 3 Grade 1's


The second half of the 2012 calendar is backloaded with 75 of the year's 112 U.S. Grade 1 races, starting with today's United Nations at Monmouth, Princess Rooney at Calder and the Hollywood Gold Cup. Some would argue that the Suburban at Belmont should be a G1 and I would not argue with them, especially given that the Suburban field of 7 includes three G1 winners (Hymn Book, Stay Thirsty, To Honor and Serve), same as the Hollywood Gold Cup (Game on Dude, Love Theway Youare, Richard's Kid.) Maybe next year, when they get around to restoring the Hopeful to a G1.

Below is the Grade 1 scoreboard for the year to date. I'll Have Another (remember him?) is the only three-time G1 winner so far, with his consecutive victories in the Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbies and the Preakness. The only other dual G1 winners are Groupie Doll (Madison, Humana Distaff) and Ron the Greek (Santa Anita Handicap, Stephen Foster), with the other 30 races going to 30 different runners.

There's a three-way tie among leading G1 trainers. Bob Baffert, Doug O'Neill and Dale Romans have four victories apiece. Three of O'Neill's four were with I'll Have Another and he also won the Kilroe Mile with Willyconker. Baffert and Romans's quartets have both come with four different horses: Baffert with Eden's Moon (Las Virgenes), Plum Pretty (Apple Blossom), Bodemeister (Arkansas Derby) and Contested (Acorn), and Romans with Dullahan (Blue Grass), Little Mike (Woodford Reserve Turf Classic), Shackleford (Met Mile) and Tapitsfly (Just a Game).


Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Steven , I haven't commented that often on here, but, I just wanted to tell you that I enjoy your blogs. I, like everyone on here, am looking forward to the Saratoga meet. You'd be surpised how many horse players in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona love Saratoga, and enjoy your Saratoga blogs. And yes, we love the racing, but for those of us in the desert, reading about the road trip, your dogs and your Saratoga food selection brings it to life. Have a great upcoming meet. I look forward to reading about your summer adventures!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pletcher only one grade 1 winner this year ? asmussen doesnt have jessie to buy him any more grade 1 victories. the whitney and woodward are both 9 furlong grade 1 races. please change the distance of one of these races. maybe they can make the woodward a fillies/mares race only. since, the girls win it all of time now. go royal delta. baffert and o'neill are both shock wave therapy users. both are leaders on grade 1 races. where can i find a list of horses who use shock wave therapy ?
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
John Velazquez should have 3 G1 wins, unless you're giving the Met Mile to Caleb's Posse instead. In that case, Rajiv Maragh should have 4 wins. -------- Fixed it, thanks. -SC
horsesone More than 1 year ago
are you playing the pick-6 thursday at Belmont?
soto More than 1 year ago
You mean, thr MAIDEN Pick-6! Four of the 6 races in the sequence are maiden races. Do yiu think they are trying to get another carryover??
jimf552 More than 1 year ago
Steve, Great to see the blog make a pre Saratoga appearance. A heads up to all of the northbound troops. Thruway traffic pattern between exits 23 & 24 is brutal. Construction of the southbound side has all traffic diverted to the northbound side. Northbound Friday & Saturday and Southbound Sunday is a crawl. Alternate route is exiting Thruway at 23 and taking I-787 north. Then take Alternate Route 7 west to Northway exit. This will bring you onto Northway just south twin bridges. Save trip to all!
Tim More than 1 year ago
You are such an east coast homer, wow.
Siobhan McCormack More than 1 year ago
Until the Suburban is run at a 11/4 it should not be a grade 1
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
so all grade 1's should be a mile and a quarter or more......how silly
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
It was an astute reference to when the Suburban used to be a 10 furlong race only a short 3 years ago. We already have two 9 furlong G1 coming up at Saratoga, a race as proud as the Suburban shouldn't be just another 9 furlong G1 race. There are now only five G1 10f races on dirt for older horses and this year 4 of them are in California.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
I totally agree with Vince. The distance of any race shouldn't be a factor in what Grade it is........It should be clearly based on the talent of horses that are expected in the event. And by the way the Suburban should be a Grade I. Every year it is a great race. The politics and bad decisions in horse racing , especially in the obvious, baffles me.
Jay More than 1 year ago
Steve, always have liked your stuff. You and everyone else seem to accept the I'll Have Another story at face value. As a pure spectator looking at the unadulterated facts, the story seems somewhat odd. O'Neill is accused of drugging in his home track, nothing patently illegal but performance enhancing drugs nonetheless. Makes it to Belmont as a potential triple crown winner - - - fame and fortune galore! - - - but runs into a new, government run NYRA that forces a quarantine. No doubt to anybody they targeted O'Neill. The pre-Cuomo NYRA would NEVER have done that. The, the horse has an injury the day before that is impossible to detect visually and no independent source verifies, to my knowledge, the injury. The horse looked just fine at the press conference. They parade him at the Belmont (?) and they parade him at Hollywood yesterday like he's some returning war veteren. Now, he's off to Japan (????) for breeding. Why is the horse going to Japan? A bunch of us were discussing this at Belmont the other day. It is equally plausible if not more compelling to believe that either (1) O'Neill pulled the horse as the gig was up with the drugging and he couldn't afford a scandal, or (2) NYRA, the media or someone with authority told him to fein injury because the sport could not survive a major drug scandal, which could have happenned just on residuals in the horse, and the government run NYRA would not and could not be bought off. Now they're getting the horse out of the country. I know this sounds like major conspiracy theory and, believe me, I am not like that but as I said this whole I'll Have Another story is very fishy. I don't know if that horse deserves to be treated equally with the other grade one winners any more than Roger Clemins derserves to be in the baseball Hall of Fame.
rvraynmary More than 1 year ago
Better some stud duty in Japan, then the cemetery in Kentucky. Many people like gossip or conspiracy theories above truth or facts.
Steven Crist More than 1 year ago
The quarantine was not the doing of NYRA -- that was imposed by the State Racing and Wagering Board. Also, the injury WAS verified by several reputable people independent of the horse's connections including Dr. Larry Bramlage, a veterinarian of impeccable integrity and a past president of the American Association of Equine Practicioners.
Nick Arden More than 1 year ago
Steve, Don't confuse the issue with facts.
Jay More than 1 year ago
Thanks. Those are the facts I hadn't heard that I needed to hear.
W.G. More than 1 year ago
I also continue to believe the real reason for the detention barn had ZERO to do with Doug o'Neill, but had everything to do with the 1,719 violations that had come out against Harness Racing trainer Lou Pena about a week prior to the announcement of the barn on May 24. The board in my view did not have a choice but to implement the barn after the Pena violations were announced, especially since it is likely those violations would have been better known if there had not been the barn and there would have been demands for the barn by those who don't follow the sport so closely if that had been the case in my opinion. Given there are those who feel the barn caused I'll Have Another's injury (even if O'Neill and Reddam have said otherwise), effectively Pena may have been responsible for that injury even if it is unfairly so and only because of the belief some have that the barn caused the injury. The timing of the barn, about a week after the Pena violations were announced to me was NOT a coincidence, but something the board was forced to do because of Pena.
Perl More than 1 year ago
I am not at all a conspiracy theorist. I'm sure Oswald acted alone, but I agree the IHA story is very shaky. Basically you've know the connections were ticked off at the detention barn rules and they may have had a deal with Japan for megabucks and then you've got the fact that the horse didn't seem to look as good in the days leading up to the race. Anyway, I am all about the facts, but the whole story stinks pretty bad. I'm guessing they knew IHA was over the top off his incredible Preakness win and they decided to make the shrewd maneuver. Hey, no skin off my back. Belmont Day was awesome without them.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Maybe if NYRA would move the Suburban back to 10 furlongs it would deserve a grade 1 status. At 9 furlongs you just can't give it grade 1 status, not with two 9 furlong grade 1s for older horses looming at Saratoga. The last thing American racing, and particularly East Coast racing, needs is another stakes for older males that has been chopped down to 9 furlongs rewarded with grade 1 status. Maybe if NYRA wants to keep the Suburban at 9 furlongs and still get a grade 1 it could extend the Woodward to 10 furlongs. That would be a nice progression of grade 1s from 8-9-9-10-10 furlongs(Met, Suburban, Whitney, Woodward, Jockey Club Gold Cup). Sadly, one of the reasons the Hollywood Gold Cup might not have drawn a better field is because it actually is run at 10 furlongs. Looking at the Suburban field, who is up to running 10 furlongs and doing so off a cross-continent ship? As a fan in SoCal, I would have loved to have seen one of the Suburban horses ship, but in the end I think their trainers were probably correct to go in the 9 furlong race rather than the one at 10. And while the Hollywood Gold Cup and Suburban each had 3 grade 1 winners, the total number of grade 1 wins in each field now stands at 7 for the Hollywood Gold Cup and just 3 for the Suburban. Game on Dude now has 3 career grade 1 wins, 2 at 10 furlongs, as does Richard's Kid. Running grade 1s at 10 furlongs? What a novelty. And there's no West Coast bias here. Steven is absolutely correct the Hopeful should be a grade 1.
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
Good idea. Saratoga should have a Grade I at 1 1/4 miles for older males. Suburban should be left at 9 panels, as 10 panels is too awkward to run on the turn at Belmont. I know, I know the Jockey Club Gold Cup is there at 10 panels, but that used to be run at 1 1/2 and even 2 miles!
Yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Good to see you back in action Steve. Do you have any opinion about the shuffling of the Filly sprint races? Test to Travers day, Prioress to the old Test slot, and Victory Ride to Suburban co-feature. I only just noticed it as I tried to schedule some Saratoga race days.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
It is an excellent move! The Victory Ride is not the level of race, so it really doesn't matter where they move it. The Prioress and the Test are now spaced sufficiently apart that a top class 2yo filly can attempt to run both of them, just like so many Saratoga G1's are coupled with an earlier G1 or G2 races: - CCA Oaks and Alabama - Whitney and Woodward - Vanderbilt and Forego - Jim Dandy and Travers - Amsterdam and King's Bishop - in the spirit of the Amsterdam/King's Bishop, we now have the Prioress and the Test Also, NYRA is making a major push to have the Ballston Spa and Fourstardave upgraded to a G1 by boosting the purse to $500,000. We'll soon see two more prestigious coupled races: Diana and Ballston Spa, Fourstardave and Bernard Baruch.